Prose Header

Hidden Robot

by Marjorie Salzwedel

Part 1 appears
in this issue.

She whispered “I hope you will let me see you again.” I’ll be careful to always call you Dusty.”

The positron robot, so dear to her, stepped backward and waved, then turned and disappeared back around the corner. Sarah stood with the cart as Randy stepped out of the nearest building and greeted her cheerily. Behind him, Sarah saw groups of student robots emerge and goose step in rows of threes from one building to another. Destin had told her long ago that it took less energy for robots to walk stiff-legged.

“I’ll have the new tiles fastened in place, replacing the old, within the hour,” Randy-Five announced as they walked across campus.

When Sarah and Randy-Five returned home they went straight out to the tree house. Sarah climbed the three rungs of the short ladder to watch from the platform while Randy applied the tiles at the low part of the structure.

Good for his word, Randy had sealed in the new pieces, replacing the old ones that Jack had put in a few years earlier. The tree house looked more like a space station caught in low branches. Finished with the construction, Randy followed Sarah toward the house. As they neared the door, her father motioning them to hurry.

“Come into my study, Randy. We’ll have a talk. Mother is waiting for you in the kitchen, Sarah, to make your choices for dinner.”

An hour later Randy walked out toward the tree house where she sat inside writing on her web pod. “Now what else did you wish me to do with those pieces of tile?”

“Randy, you know you finished everything.”

“Well, be specific.”

“They are all set in and sealed. Thank you.”

“Then the tree house is finished.” Randy slowly maneuvered his fingers as he stared at his hands.

“Randy, what’s wrong. Are your hands stiff?”

“Not at all. Just checking my fingers.”

“But they’re not rusty. They’re perfect.”

“Well, I’m glad.” He turned his tubal ear toward the house. “Your father is calling me. Give me a couple of minutes.”

“Randy, he has Vance-Three to help him. He shares him with Mother. You’re supposed to be mine.”

“Sarah, I’m sorry. I’ll be right back.”

It was two hours before Randy came back.

“I’ve waited for you all this time.”


“Do I have to share you with my father now?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“You’re not fun anymore.”

“And you need to grow up, anyway.”


“I believe that is correct. Your father needed me.”

They both looked up from the back of the house when they heard the whoosh of the hydro copter above them

“I believe your father is headed to the mainland.”

“Without us?”

They looked up to see the aircraft fly up and over the water toward the mainland before it disappeared behind a cloud. “He has never gone without Mother and me.”

“There’s always a first time for some things.”

“You are a thinking robot, aren’t you? You look like Randy, but your brain has changed.”

“Yes, it has.”

“Father has implanted a neural receptor into your brain and has interfaced it so that Dusty’s brain is now in yours. I know it takes two hours to install. I heard Father telling Mother that he has such implants in his possession. What has happened to Dusty?”

“He’s okay. A copy of all his circuitry is hiding within mine for safekeeping. His files will respond to your father’s inquiries. Dusty’s original brain is intact, and your father intends for Dusty’s to remain so.

“Dusty will have a safe place to hide in Hawaii until the law is lifted. Then he’ll be returned. I get to keep a copy of his circuitry, and you’ll appreciate me, Sarah. I can help you with your Algebra next year when you attend the high school.”

“You mean I have to put up with all your excess logic?” Sarah was silent as she looked at Randy with her brow furrowed. “Will you be strong and carry things for me?”

“I am still your strong man. But now I’m your Destin-One/Dusty-One brain too.” Randy paused. “You are very smart for a human.” He was silent as he turned and looked toward the house. “Until Dusty comes back, you have to share me with your father.”

“That’s okay. You know that Vance will come right away when I call him,”

“He always does,” Randy replied.

A melodious whistling got louder as they turned to see Jack hurrying into the yard.

Sarah ran to greet him, “You’ve gotten taller and look more grown up. Congratulations on your graduation.”

“Thank you,” he said as he stared at her. You look more grown up too.”

She stepped back, embarrassed at her exuberance.”

“I’d like to post a web-note to you from time to time from the dorm and correspond, Sarah.”

“Yes, oh, please,” she replied. “I was going to ask you if you wanted me to write to let you know what is happening on the island.”

“I would like that, Sarah.” He stepped close and gave her a quick hug.

“I’m going to miss you.”

“And I’ll miss you, Sarah.”

He turned to Randy-Five, “Good to see you, Randy.”

“And to see you,” Randy-Five replied.

“Take care of her,”

“That I will do,” The robot replied unceremoniously.

“She misses Destin. I’m glad you’re her friend.”

“I am.”

“Randy will miss you too.” Sarah turned and looked at Randy Five, and whispered, “You’re so perfect now, Randy.”

Sarah turned to Randy-Five and asked, “Will you recite Stevenson’s poem ‘Where Go the Boats’?”

“Of course I will. Do you want to go inside where it is cooler? My nickel plating is hot from the sun.”

Jack turned to Sarah and asked,

“Is he programmed for poetry now? I would not have thought it. Well, in that case, I’ll have to write you too, Randy.”

“No, Jack,” Sarah stepped closer to him and pleaded, “Don’t write Randy for awhile. Please, ask me first.”

Randy-Five turned to watch Sara and made no reply.

“Okay. I’ll wait,” Jack replied, surprised to see her upset. “I promise. I have to go now. My ride is out in front. I’ll see you when I’m home for Thanksgiving, Sarah. I’ll bring you something from the mainland.”

Thank you, I’d like that. Be careful over there. It’s so crowded.”

“I’ll be fine. Bye for now.”

“Bye,” Sarah whispered as she started to follow him and stopped.

As he walked around the side yard to the front of the house he began whistling.

“He’s whistling my favorite song, “My Best Friend.”

“I know, Randy-Five remarked.”

“It’s for old time’s sake, he’s whistling it. If we hadn’t spent all the time together year after year building and being in the tree house, looking out at the world from there, I would never have known I was a child. You know that it’s important that Jack asks me before he writes you.”

“I know it is, Sarah.”

“You promise me you won’t respond to him if he does. He’ll know that it’s Destin’s brain. If the law changes regarding positronium, then it will be okay for him to ask you questions.”

“”I promise. I will always put your family’s wishes first.

“I know you will.”

“If Jack contacts me, I will let you and your father know. Your hidden robot is safe.”

Suddenly Sarah wondered which one of the robots’ minds was doing the talking.

“You know my favorite poems, don’t you?”

“Yes, I know all of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems.”

Side-by-side, the young girl and the robot stepped toward the cool of the house. As they walked, Sarah tilted her head toward the robot that looked like Randy, and in response he tilted his head toward her in the same manner that Destin had always done whenever they walked together.

Copyright © 2009 by Marjorie Salzwedel

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