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Friday, December 19, 2014

Servo 11:1

Servo 11:1

Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. Soon winter was upon us. The other kids in school steered clear of us. That was fine by me. Dagwood was my only friend besides Rory. Suz had grown even more distant toward us. I knew she hated it here and couldn’t wait to leave. Her eighteenth birthday wouldn’t be until March next year. I’m pretty sure she was counting the days until she could run away from this horrible place.
At first, I hated it too. There was little for GEE kids to do. But work on the bot kept my brain engaged enough to make it bearable. Rory and I took near weekly trips to Jimmy Pineapple—err, Pinepply, for parts. I now believe Dagwood has thoroughly corrupted my brain with his malapropisms. I can’t say his name without calling him Pineapple. Oh dear!
Grandpa had been generous enough to purchase bicycles for us. I think he believed the exercise would do us well. In a way, it has. Although Rory and I have become far more dare-devil on the highway as of late, we have made excellent use of our new conveyances.
It was now early December and I awoke one Saturday morning feeling like there were a thousand little demons with sharp hammers banging away in my head. My hips, back, and knees felt like they were being twisted apart. Was I dying? I’d never experienced such agony. My whole body was cold, sweaty, shivering, hot, and jittering, all in the same moment.
Slowly I climbed from bed. Only last month Grandpa and Grandma had finished redecorating another room. It was now mine. I actually loved it. The d├ęcor was tastefully masculine, the bed, new and comfy, and I had a great view of the barn out front. And best of all: I didn’t have to tolerate Rory’s incessant snoring anymore! How a child of his young age could…what was that term Dagwood used? Oh, yes, saw logs, was beyond me. But I was eternally grateful to have my own abode. I still didn’t have a proper closet, but a stand-alone wardrobe proved a suitable substitute. No longer did I have to tromp upstairs to the very creepy attic to fetch my school clothes.
I groaned as I pulled on my robe and headed for the door. Surely Grandma would have a remedy for whatever ailment I was suffering. My head began to spin, I reeled to one side and nearly fell over. My only saving grace was the door knob. I grabbed it and held on for dear life. That wasn’t the worst of it, no, then came the horrible feeling that my stomach was wanting out through my mouth. Having never been sick a day in my life, I can only assume this is what was implied by the term “throwing up.” Oh, it was awful!
With every bit of waning strength, I yanked open the door and made a beeline for my grandparent’s bedroom. It was only a ten foot walk, but it seemed to take hours. My feet were lead, my legs, cast iron, and my mind traveling at light speed. I knew where I needed to be, but I didn’t seem capable of getting there.
At last I finally reached the door. My knuckles stung fiercely as I rapped on the door. “Grandma!” I tried to shout. What came out was more of a whimper. “Grandma, help!” I knocked again. Pain shot up my arm. “Grandma!” I slumped to the floor.
Perhaps it was the sound of me hitting the aged hardwood floor that finally roused her from slumber. A few moments later, Grandma appeared. “Jonah? What’s wrong?”
“Oh, I feel terrible!”
She reached out and placed a gnarled hand upon my brow. “Yes, you’re burning up. Let’s get you back to bed.”
“And I feel like I want to…throw up.”
“Your tummy bothering you?”
I nodded, fighting back the acid that was threatening to come up. It felt like an active volcano was cooking inside me.
Without a word, Grandma reached inside the door, produced the wastepaper can, and handed it to me. “Just in case,” she said, getting a hand under my arm and helping me to my feet. I wobbled and nearly fell again. “Sounds like you have a case of the flu.”
“Flu?” I replied weakly.
“Influenza…Don’t get too worried, it’s common out here.”
“But—”
“We’ll get you fixed up. Most likely you’ll feel pretty bad for a few days.”
“I want to die!”
“Nonsense,” she said with a little chuckle. “You’ll be all right.” With her free hand, she pushed open the door to my bedroom and guided me in.
By now the whole world was spinning and I wanted to lie down. My stomach refused to surrender. I could feel it coming. Without warning, I dropped to my knees and paid homage to the waste can. Grandma was gently patting me on the back, trying her best to comfort me in my time of agony. How much more of this would I have to endure?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Servo 10:3

Servo 10:3


I left Jimmy’s that afternoon with a backpack full of parts. I couldn’t wait to get home and show Rory. He’d probably be mad at me for leaving him out of the excursion, but I didn’t care. Dagwood was kind enough to give me loan of his sister’s bicycle. Perhaps I could get Grandpa to buy us some with the money provided for our maintenance.
After dinner, Rory and I went to the barn. In my absence, my little brother had done some cleaning up in the old place. The workbench was now cleared, save for the bot parts on it. I felt exhilarated as I approached. My backpack weighed heavy with parts and wires.
“So what did you get?” Rory asked as he flicked on the lights.
“Quite a few of the boards the mice chewed, some wiring, and a couple of small actuation motors.”
“Cool!”
I placed the pack on the bench and opened it, carefully removing each piece. As I laid them down, Rory picked up each one, inspecting it. When the bag was empty, I took a step back and surveyed the wreckage of bot strewn all over. This was going to be a lot of work. “Oh,” I sighed, “where to start?”
“Start at the top.”
“I suppose that would be logical.” I went to the bot’s head. Leaning over, I looked to see what kind of tools would be needed to disassemble it. “Rory?”
“Yes?”
“In your cleaning up, did you find some hand tools?”
“Lots.”
“Where are they?”
He wandered over to a large shelf. “I organized them here. Hope Grandpa won’t be mad.”
“Can you find me a small screwdriver?”
“Flat?”
“Yes.”
A moment later, one was thrust at my face. I took it, giving him a look of displeasure in regards to his somewhat rude actions. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome…I figure you can do the fixing, and I’ll give you the tools.”
“That’s fine.”
With screwdriver in hand, I commenced to removing the bot’s front facial cover. The memory core that we previously removed was still tucked under my bed. I had yet to find a way to charge the small batteries enough to get it to work. There had to be a way, I just hadn’t figured it out.
“So, how does it look?” Rory pestered, looking over my shoulder.
“Broken,” I replied with irritation. Evidently more mice had moved in and set up housekeeping in the space just below the bot’s eye sockets. There was pink and yellow fluff crammed everywhere. I began picking it out. “What is this stuff?”
My brother roamed around the barn trying to find the source of the mysterious fluffy material. Several minutes went by and he reappeared with a handful of pink fluff. “Look.”
“Where did you find that?”
“Stuck between the walls over there.”
“What is it?”
“Perhaps some sort of insulation. What do you think?”
I took the handful and examined it. The fluff was stuck to a brown paper backing. Turning it over, I read: R-15 residential insulation. “You’re right. It’s insulation. But I’ve never seen any like this.”
“We’re out in the old world now,” Rory replied. “They don’t have all the nice new stuff we have.”
“True.” I set it aside and continued probing for more that found its way into the bot’s head. These country mice were certainly industrious. When I thought I had all of it out, I picked up the screwdriver and began working my way farther inside. Once in a while I’d require another tool. Rory was always quick to bring it to me. As each part was removed, Rory took it upon himself to clean and organize them. I have to admit, he was good at that.
Time must have escaped us, because no sooner had I emptied the bot’s head of parts, Grandpa came into the barn. “Hey, time for bed!”
I glanced out the dirty window and indeed, it was dark—quite dark. “Sorry,” I said, putting down my work and giving Rory a nudge.
“You can start on that bright and early tomorrow.”
“Thank you.” I shuffled past him. “Grandpa?”
“Yes?”
“Would it be possible to use some of our money to get us bicycles?”
“Bicycles?”
“So we can get around without you having to take us everywhere.”
“Can you even ride one of those contraptions?”
“Yes, Dagwood let me borrow his sister’s bike. After a few incidents, I did quite well.”
He rubbed his chin. I soon learned that he did this when he was in deep contemplation. “Well, I need to go into town tomorrow. I suppose you boys could ride along and we can stop at the store and find you some.”
I smiled broadly. “Thank you.”
“Do you think Suzette will want one?”
Rory and I burst into laughter. “Not on her life!”

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Servo 10:2

Servo 10:2


We rode for what seemed hours. I’m sure Dagwood was going far slower than he normally would for my benefit. After a couple of miles, I was feeling better about this outing. My hands were shaking less, and I had better control over the bike. The cars and large trucks screaming by still had me worried.
Finally, when I thought I could pedal no more, we turned down a long gravel drive. The farm resembled Dagwood’s family farm; in fact, most of the farms in the area looked very similar. I wondered why. “Dagwood?”
“Yeah?”
“May I make an observation?”
“Make anything you want.” He pulled the bike up near the large white farm house.
I struggled to stop the awkward conveyance without looking too inept. “Why do many of the farms in the area look alike?”
“Goes way back to the settlers. They came out here with only the technology they possessed. So they built the houses and the barns how they knew. Most of the metal buildings are newer.”
“Settlers?”
“Yeah, came here a couple hundred years ago.”
“And everyone likes living in buildings that are so old?”
“Sure! Don’t you think your grandpa’s farm house is cool?”
“A bit creepy more like.”
Dagwood hooked his toe against the bike frame and deployed the kickstand. I followed his lead. Then we tromped onto the wide, heavily aged porch. He rapped loudly on the rickety screen door. Moments went by and I thought no one was home. Finally there was the sound of approaching footsteps on the wood floor inside and a young man appeared. He was in his early twenties and boasted a head of scraggly long brown hair. His clothing was typically the farmer style, and he had on heavy black boots covered with dust.
“Jimmy Pineapple!” Dagwood said gleefully.
“Hey, kiddo,” Jimmy replied, stepping onto the porch.
“This is my friend, Jonah—the one I told you about.”
Jimmy extended his hand toward me. “Hi.”
I gingerly accepted his offering of palm-flesh. “Hello.” As quickly as prudent, I let my hand slide. Shaking hands wasn’t commonplace in the Inner States. The Japanese practice of bowing had mostly replaced handshakes. It was far more sanitary.
“Dagwood says you got an old bot?”
“Yes, a model 106, manufactured in 2022,” I replied.
“Boy-howdy, that is an old one.”
“What is the model you work with?”
Jimmy skipped down the three steps and headed for a large red barn. “The one at work is a 118.”
“Oh,” I said, feeling dismal.
“But, I got a partial 110 here in the barn.”
“Partial?”
“It had an accident.”
Behind, I could hear Dagwood giggle.
“Accident?”
“It was working the fields with my grandpa and it fell out of the tractor and got run over. After that, he didn’t buy another bot because it was getting too expensive to own and license them.” He opened a door and waved us inside. “You might be able to use some of the parts for your 106.”
“You’re okay with that?”
“Sure. This bot’s just been sitting around for years. I’d take it to the junkyard, but they’d want the papers for it.”
“And you don’t have any?”
“Nope. Grandpa lost ’em.”
“I see.”
“Dagwood said your daddy worked for Servidyne.”
“Until the day he died.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“They said it was an accident.”
Jimmy went to a dark corner of the barn and paused for a moment. There was what I gathered to be a bot under a dusty blue tarp. “I keep to my own business. If you want the parts from this bot, that’s fine by me.” He pointed a finger directly toward my face. “Just don’t you ever tell me that you got it runnin’ again, okay?”
I nodded. “I might never get it running.”
He pulled off the tarp. “Here it is.”
My eyes beheld a bot. Well, most of it. The head and part of the upper torso were smashed flat. I could even see the imprints of the tractor tires across it. Admittedly, it was kind of comical. The rest of the silver-colored bot remained intact. I only hoped the parts were close enough they would be interchangeable. “I don’t have any way of getting it back home, and I don’t want Grandpa Cranwinkle to know.”
“You’re more than welcomed to come over and strip parts as needed.”
“Dagwood said you might be able to get me new parts if I needed some.”
Jimmy shook his head. “On a bot that old, it’s next to impossible.”
“Ah, well, it was worth a shot.”
He nudged the bot’s foot with his. “Why do you wanna have a bot?”
I sighed and leaned against a massive old post. “Maybe I’m crazy, but I wanted to rebuild the bot so I could put my father’s memories inside it.”
Jimmy eyed me. “You want your father back, huh?”
I’m pretty sure the expression on my face told him the answer.
“A boy needs his father. Abe Cranwinkle is a fine man, but he’s not your daddy.”

Friday, November 28, 2014

Servo 10:1

Servo 10:1

Tomorrow came a lot sooner than expected. Dagwood was knocking on the door at quarter past nine. We’d barely finished our Saturday breakfast of blueberry pancakes. He was eager to help me. I’m not sure why, perhaps it was because I was willing to be his friend when others shunned him.
“Mornin’!” Dagwood said in a boisterous tone.
“Good morning,” I replied, stepping onto the porch.
“You wanted to meet Jimmy Pineapple, right?”
“Yes.”
“Well, we gotta go over to his house.”
“Where is that?”
“’Bout three miles away.”
“Oh.” I noticed he’d ridden up on a bicycle. “That far?”
“Yeah.”
“I don’t have a bicycle, and that’s a long walk.”
“Your grandpa doesn’t have one in the barn?”
“Haven’t seen one.”
“Well, that’s okay. If you don’t mind walking over to my house, I have one you can borrow.”
“Ah, thank you.” I quivered slightly. It had been a long time since I’d been on a bicycle. Normally we took either the metro or were driven to school. The last bicycle that I’d ridden belonged to a friend of mine, and I’d crashed it in dramatic style.
Dagwood hopped on his bike. “Come on!” He shoved off and began pedaling slowly down the long dusty drive. I scampered to catch him; my feet thudded along trying to keep up. The whole journey was probably a quarter mile, but I realized I was not in good physical shape. My mind might have been exercised daily, however, the body wasn’t.
We pulled up to a massive old faded black barn and I stopped, bent over, and put my hands on my knees as I gasped for air.
“Jonah? You tired?”
I tried to straighten up. It didn’t help my desperate need for oxygen. “I’ll be fine.”
“Do Inner States kids go out and play much?”
“Evidently…” I took in several ragged breaths. “…not enough.”
“So what did you do for fun?”
“Computers.” I was finally getting my wind back. “We played on computers.”
Dagwood waved his hand. “How boring!” He flipped the kickstand down on his bike and got off. Going to the barn, he opened a huge door. I waited outside while hearing him rummaging around. A few moments later he appeared pushing out a dusty bicycle. “Sorry, it’s my sister’s bike.” He parked it in front of me.
“You have a sister?”
“Yeah, but she’s away at college.” He made the word sound extra important for my benefit.
“Do you have any brothers and sisters still at home?”
“Naw, just me. Ma and Pa only had Gracie and me…And I was an accident.”
“Accident?” I couldn’t comprehend to what he was inferring. In the Inner States, pregnancies were planned. Accidents just didn’t happen.
“Ma didn’t expect to get pregnant with me.” He hopped and stomped both feet on the ground, stirring up a cloud of dust, and thrust both arms out wide. “But here I am!”
I couldn’t help but chuckle at his antics. If anything, Dagwood was entertaining.
He got back on his bike. “Saddle up!”
I gave him a blank stare.
“Get on, Jonah, let’s go.”
“Ah, I see.” I grasped both handlebars and swung my leg over. The bicycle was a bit on the large side for me, so I had to tiptoe in order to get my butt on the seat. I watched Dagwood pedal off. With a good push, I launched forward and got my feet on the pedals. Soon I was sitting on the seat, my legs pumping away. I felt good. Yes, I can do this. Well, until I realized that my steering capabilities were sorely lacking and I strayed off the driveway, falling into a shallow ditch with a loud crash.
Dagwood stopped and immediately came back. “Jonah? Are you okay?”
I quickly stood up, dusted myself off, grabbed the bike, and wrested it from the ditch. “Yes, I’m fine.”
“What happened?”
“Uh, it’s been a while since I’ve ridden a bike.”
“Oh, sorry.”
I could tell he was trying to hide a smile. “How about we take this slow?”
“I was!” he said, sputtering a little laugh.
Once again I threw my leg over and tried to get the bike going. This time I managed to make it all the way to the end of the drive before stopping and almost falling over.
“Better!” Dagwood said as he pulled up next to me. “Now for the road.”
Cars zipped by and my confidence sagged. I wasn’t sure I wanted to die today. “The road?”
“Sure, the fastest way to get to Jimmy’s house.” He pointed. “It’s due north that way.”
A massive semi-truck roared by. “Three miles that way?”
“Yup.”
“On this road?”
“Yup.” He looked both ways and ventured out. “Follow me!”
I panicked and did my best to keep up. Just getting onto the road had my nerves frazzled. These country kids were tougher than I ever imagined. How would I ever survive?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Servo 9:2

Servo 9:2


“Jonah?” Grandma called from downstairs. “Jonah, Dagwood is here.”
“Coming, Grandma!” I hollered. The thought crossed my mind if it was perhaps such a good idea to show Dagwood what we were up to. He didn’t strike me as the kind of kid who could keep a secret. But if we never get the bot working, it wouldn’t matter.
On the way out of the room I grabbed my tablet. It was fully charged and still had the recent memory stick loaded into it. Perhaps I was hoping my father would give me some wisdom with his words. Although his work was decades more advanced than the dilapidated old bot we were fixing. Maybe something would jar my memory.
I went downstairs and was met by Dagwood at the front door.
“Hiya, Jonah.”
“Hi,” I said, ushering him outside. “Rory probably has some homework to do.”
“Will he come out later?”
“Confident of that.”
“What about your sister?”
She’ll have nothing to do with our project.”
“Your sister is pretty.”
“Uh, yeah.” I led the way to the barn and opened the doors.
“Mmm, her hair is the color of golden corn silk.”
“Dagwood?”
“She doesn’t like it here, does she?”
“Nope. If Suz had her way, she’d be back in the Inner States.”
“What’s it like there?” Dagwood followed along. “I hear only really smart people live there…I bet I’d be too dumb.”
“Umm, no, that might not be the case,” I said, stopping at the workbench.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if you have a marketable skill that brings in enough to put you above the income threshold, you could live there.”
Dagwood gave me a blank stare. Evidently my words were above his comprehension level.
“Naw, that sounds too hard. I think I’ll just stay here,” he replied.
“Grandpa says you’ll make a fine farmer.”
“He did?”
“Yes.”
“Oh, that was mighty nice of him. I wanna be just like my daddy.”
“So do I.”
“What do you mean?”
“My daddy worked on bots.”
“He did?”
“Yup.” I reached out and pulled the crusty canvas tarp covering the sections of bot. “And that’s what I want to do.”
“Gosh, is that a bot?”
“What’s left of it,” I answered with an obvious frown.
“Are you going to fix it up?”
“That was our plan.” Picking up and arm, I inspected it. “If we can.”
“So your daddy made bots?”
“Yes, and Grandpa Cranwinkle too.”
Dagwood put his hands over his mouth. “Oh, I didn’t know. He’s such a nice old man.” He got down to eye level with the workbench. “Folks here don’t like bots.”
“Because of the Great Separation, right?”
“Bots killed a lot of people.”
I decided I’d refrain from telling Dagwood that Grandpa was one of the battle bot designers. That probably wouldn’t go over well with his infantile psyche. My words would have to be chosen wisely. “Yeah, they did. But bots like this were built to serve.”
“Serve how?”
“Well, for starters, they can clean your house, make meals, do laundry, babysit kids, and even drive you around town.”
My new friend leaned against the bench; it was obvious he was in deep thought. A moment later, he started chuckling. “I’d like a bot to do my homework!”
I laughed along with him. “I don’t think this bot was smart enough for that.”
“Did the ones you had help you?”
“Occasionally.”
“The new ones must be super smart, right?”
“Pretty smart. They work like information databases. If I needed something, I’d tell them and they’d search the internet and find it for me.”
“That’s cool. We have to go to the library and look through books here.”
“The school has a library with books?”
“Yeah. Didn’t your schools?”
“No. Everything was electronic. I’d only seen one book in my life until I came here.”
“Only one?!”
“And it was an old one. But Grandpa has a whole room of them he saved.”
“He has books, here?”
“Uh, huh. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them.”
“Where did he get them?”
“He said he saved them from being burned during the war.”
“They must be really cool books.”
“I have a couple I’m reading…So odd to have to turn pages.”
“I love the smell of old books.” Dagwood took in a deep breath and let it out. “I love the smell of smart.”
“Umm, I think you mean the smell of intelligence.”
He waved his hand as if to dismiss my correction. “Whatever.”
“You can be smart and not have books.”
“Obviously you are. But I think books tell a special story, not by just what is inside them, but how they look…What are you reading?”
“A collection of short stories.”
“I love those. By who?”
“Some guy named Bradbury.”
“Ray Bradbury?”
“Think so.”
“Would your grandpa let me borrow it when you get done?”
“I’m sure he would.”
Dagwood reached out and touched the bot’s right arm. “Can you make it work again?”
“I don’t know.”
“What will you do with it if you can make it work?”
“Rory and I know that you have to get a license to have a bot.”
“Yup.”
“So if we can get it working again, it’s just going to stay in here, and we’ll disable it when we leave…I don’t want Grandpa Cranwinkle getting into trouble.”
“No, he’s too nice to get in trouble.”
I poked at a few wires that were hanging from a leg. “Dagwood?”
“Yeah?”
“You know this town well, right?”
“Like the back of my hand!”
“If someone had a bot, and needed some parts to fix it, where would they go?”
He put his chin in his hand and scrunched his face. “I reckon the hardware store.”
“You’re joking, right?”
“No. Mr. Coates can order stuff—anything you want.”
“He could get me parts for the bot?”
“Yes, but that might not be good.”
“Why?”
“Because he’s friends with the sheriff. And if he tells that you have a bot—”
“I see.”
Dagwood’s face lit up and he thrust an index finger into the air. “I got it!”
“What?”
“Jimmy Pineapple.”
“Huh?”
“Well, that’s what we all calls him. His name is really Jimmy Pineppley.”
“Who is he?”
“Works for a guy who runs the local grain mill. They have a bot there.”
“So?”
“We could talk to Jimmy and see if he can order the parts—sayin’ that it’s to fix their bot.”
“And what if the bot is newer than mine?”
“Uh, I dunno. Just tryin’ to help you out.”
“It’s appreciated. Can you introduce me to Jimmy?” My mind began to churn.
“Sure. How about tomorrow?”
“Sounds good.”
Dagwood reached out and picked up a weighty leg like it was nothing. “Promise you’ll tell me more what it’s like in the Inner States?”
“I can do that.”
“You’re really nice, Jonah.”
I smiled. “Thank you.”

Friday, November 14, 2014

Servo 9:1

Servo 9:1


Fortunately, Mrs. Graham was in a good mood. The punishment was light, and it only meant I had to stay after school fifteen minutes. Rory and Suz did nothing but tease me about the whole incident. After I served my time, we hurried to the parking lot where Grandpa awaited. He looked a bit agitated.
“Sorry, Grandpa, I was late to class after lunch and Mrs. Graham made me stay after school.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Mrs. Graham?”
“Yes.”
“Mrs. Tilley Graham?”
“Uh, I don’t know her first name, but she’s very old.”
“Must be the same Graham. Not many here in Broken Bow.” Grandpa rubbed his whiskered chin. “My God, is she still teaching?”
I nodded. “I guess so.”
“She taught your mother.”
For a moment, my brain was caught in a muddle. From what I was told, Grandma and Grandpa Cranwinkle had lived in the Inner States where he worked at Servidyne. How could Mrs. Graham have taught my mother? “Grandpa?”
“Yes?”
“How did she teach Mother? Didn’t you live in the Inner States?”
“Not everyone wanted to stay after the Great Separation. Eliza—your Grandmother, and I left along with quite a few others. It just so happened that Mrs. Graham left the Inner States and came here…I didn’t realize she was still teaching though.”
My mouth fell open slightly. “So she knows what we’ve come from?”
Grandpa went to the driver’s side and opened the door. “Yes.”
“She never said anything about it.”
“Many of us don’t want to.”
I climbed into the truck. The ride home was a quiet one. I began to get a good understanding of the people who left after the Great Separation. They wanted to be as far from the Inner States as possible. It seemed like they were ashamed of what we’d become. What was wrong with our world of intelligence, science, and technology? Why would someone want to live in the past? These people had become an enigma to me.
Grandpa pulled up to the house and let us out. We tumbled from the truck and hurried up the stairs to the porch. I glanced over my shoulder and noticed the barn roof had been repaired. I wondered how much more severe weather we’d be seeing. Prickles ran down my spine as I thought about last night. Imminent death had only been a few dozen yards away. Living in a place like this was not for the faint of heart.
Rory opened the door and we went inside. A wonderful aroma hit my nose and my stomach immediately started to growl. I heard Grandma in the kitchen. She was making something sweet, I smelled what I thought might be chocolate. I hoped it would be dessert after one of her fine meals. Dinner last night had been sandwiches because of the storm. Tonight it smelled like she was cooking something fabulous.
Tromping up to our room, I put my backpack on the old trunk and commenced changing clothes. Mrs. Graham never gave us much homework, so I’d finished mine during my detention. Rory and Suz hung out in the courtyard, so I doubted they’d done their work. I pulled off my jeans and selected a pair that had been grease stained when I brushed by the tractor one day. Grandma said the stain would eventually wear out, but to keep these jeans for play. I’m not exactly sure what she meant by that; play in my terms consisted of networking our tablets together and attempting to access the Inner States informational databases. I was informed that in the past the action was called hacking. We just thought it was good fun to see how many times it took to break the main system computer’s password. For the most part, we weren’t interested in what the database held, just the password. We had to quit, however, when the Information Ministry installed software that registered any computer that tried to gain access. So much for our fun and games.
Rory came in and dropped his bag on the bed. “Have you done your homework?”
“Yeah. Why didn’t you while I was in detention?”
“I was hanging out with Suz.”
“So? You both could have had it done. There wasn’t much.”
“Dagwood’s coming over, right?”
“Yeah, he should be here anytime.”
“And you’re going to show him the bot?”
“That was my plan.”
“Think he’s even smart enough to understand it?”
“Rather irrelevant, don’t you think?”
“So why show it to him at all?”
“Because maybe I think it’s nice to finally have a friend. You don’t seem to be making a concerted effort.”
“I’m trying. But the kids laugh at me.”
“Why?”
“Because I’m what they call a nerd.”
“Nerd? What’s that mean?”
“Evidently some kid that’s too smart for their own good.”
“Maybe you should act dumber.”
Rory punched me in the arm. “No way!”
“Ow!” I retaliated, giving him a solid jab. “Maybe you shouldn’t act like you’re better than them.”
“Why? You do.”
“Not really…I think we’re going to have problems for a while. The kids here have never seen or been around GEE kids. They don’t realize we’re kids like them.”
“I case you haven’t noticed, those kids think that playing in a dirt puddle is fun. They throw rocks into the pond, ride bicycles up and down dirt roads, and play in something called a corn silo. They have no understanding of our idea of play.”
“Maybe we should learn their kind of play.”
Rory dumped his school tablet out of the bag. “I don’t like getting dirty.”
“No, that’s right, you don’t. Perhaps there’s some kind of clean activities we could do to fit in.”
“Doubt it. Just look at this place: filth everywhere.”
“It’s not that bad.”
“Yes it is.”
I ignored him in favor of picking up one of the books, cracking it open, and reading.