Morning arrived bright and early. The sun was shining and reflecting off the fresh snow. I was up and ready to get to work. I went down and found Rory already jamming waffles into his mouth. Today the bot would work, I was sure of it.
“Morning, Jonah,” said Grandma as she plopped a big plate of waffles in front of me.
“Good morning,” I replied, wasting no time digging in. Being so cold, I knew I’d need every available calorie to keep warm. How I miss the days when my father would smuggle me into his fancy workshop at Servidyne. There was so much to see and do, it always amazed me. And I never had to work with frozen fingers.
As I gobbled down breakfast, I saw Suz wander in. She seemed unusually calm, not her normal agitated self. Grandma must have sensed it too.
“Good morning, Suzette,” she said in an uplifting tone.
“Good morning, Grandma,” Suz replied, taking her seat.
“Jonah said you were out with Otto Arkman.”
“Interesting young man.”
I could tell Suz was not going to divulge information about her date with Otto. Still, I wondered what went on. Had they kissed? Just talked? Or did something a whole lot more adult happen? Trying to read my sister was like trying to read a multivariable calculus book. Except in this case, I think the book was easier to understand.
Rory and I finished long before Suz. We dumped our plates in the sink and hurried to the hall so we could pile on the layers of snow clothes. Grandpa bought us special boots that were supposed to keep our toes toasty warm. I’m confident the salesman pulled the wool over Grandpa’s eyes. The boots did little to keep out the cold.
After several minutes of dressing, we tromped outside to the frozen tundra. There was so much snow it was getting hard to see the old wire fence that ran along the driveway. I wondered how we’d get to school Monday. The sun shined, icicles hung long on the eves of the barn and house, glimmering like silver daggers. I heard noise coming down the drive. It sounded like a motorcycle.
Craning my neck, I tried to see what was approaching. Rory paused and watched with me. Several moments later a snowmobile rumbled toward us. Someone in an orange snowsuit was piloting the vehicle; another person was seated behind in a black and white snowsuit. Both wore helmets, so I had no clue who was calling on us.
The snowmobile halted in front of us and the driver cut off the engine. Silence quickly filled the air. It was immediately replaced by Dagwood’s bellicose voice. “Mornin’ Jonah!”
“Hi,” I replied, surprised by his arrival.
“Brought Otto with me.”
Otto removed his helmet and nodded. “Morning.”
“Snow too deep for your car?”
“Yeah, barely made it to Dagwood’s. He was nice enough to dust off the snowmobile and bring me over.”
Rory was staring in awe of the machine. “Dagwood?”
“Would you take me for a ride on that?”
If there was one thing that endeared Dagwood to me, it was his boundless enthusiasm. No matter what the task, he was up for it.
Otto climbed off and placed the helmet on the seat. “Shall we get to work?”
I led the way to the barn; we were forced to wade through nearly two feet of snow. Then we teamed up to dig open the barn doors. Five minutes later, we were finally inside. I went to the bench and uncovered the bot. “We left it to charge all last night.”
Without a word, Otto went to work. He started at the top and worked his way down. Nearly a half hour later he came up for air. “I don’t see anything wrong.”
“I didn’t either. But why won’t it work?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno.”
Rory leaned forward. “Could it be all the lines of code you fixed, Jonah?”
“Fixed?” Otto said, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah, I went through each line and cleaned up the memory core.”
“That may be the problem.”
There was no hiding the audible groan that emanated from me. Had I messed up? Had I deleted something I shouldn’t have? My stomach churned. All the work we’d put into the bot and maybe I’d screwed it up. My heart sank.