Summer comes to a crashing end…
Ten-year-old Kevin Taggert prefers to stay home with his video games, but his parents insist he join a summer sports program. Exactly on the day the Vordac raid Earth. With his little sister depending on him for protection, Kevin must find the strength and wisdom to keep them both safe.
Before they both end up dead, or even worse: as life-long slaves of the Vordac.
Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1)
Part 20: Neverending Worries
Christy squealed again and rushed over. Nanny-Bot picked her up to give her a robotic hug.
“How did she get here?” Greg demanded.
“I thought she was destroyed,” Sean said, this time at Kevin.
“I never said she was destroyed. Only the hovercar,” Kevin shot right back.
“My power systems and higher functions shut down. Otherwise, I was not seriously harmed,” Nanny-Bot said, setting Christy down and patting her on the head.
“The authorities found her in the park cleanup. Once she was cleared and her systems reset, they brought her home.” His mother smiled at Nanny-Bot. “I’m so glad to have you back.”
“I am pleased to return,” Nanny-Bot said. “I see it is time for the afternoon snack. Greg, perhaps you can help me.”
Greg groaned and gestured to the holovid. “It’s my turn!”
“You crashed,” Christy told him, now hugging Nanny-Bot’s fused legs above the hovering platform.
“We were surprised,” Sean said as Greg sputtered.
“I didn’t get that excuse,” Kevin said, which resulted in a stuck-out tongue in his direction from Greg.
“Isn’t this wonderful, Kevin?” his mother asked.
Kevin started, realizing he was still staring at Nanny-bot. As if expecting her to disappear in another dream about to turn into a nightmare. “Uh, yes. I’m just surprised.”
“As am I,” Nanny-Bot said. “I was quite distressed to learn what happened. I am pleased all of you returned home safely.”
To learn what happened? She didn’t remember? She’d seen the Vordac mothership arrive. Had detected the danger and turned them back to the hovercar before Kevin knew what was wrong.
Now that he thought about it, there were scuffs on her surface. Her uniform would need changing. Dirt and grass still clung to it, with one of the hems torn.
Some of his nightmares came back. He asked, “Mom, shouldn’t she go through another diagnostic? Just to make sure?”
His mother looked Nanny-Bot up and down. “It wouldn’t hurt.”
“If you believe it is necessary, then shall we do so after snacks?” Nanny-Bot suggested.
“The boys can work together to make the snack. We should do this now,” his mother said.
Greg and Sean protested, but Kevin didn’t. The Vordac were experts in robotics, computers and programming, and AI systems. They needed to make sure Nanny-Bot hadn’t been corrupted in some way.
As Kevin helped get out the peanut butter for the crackers and celery, he realized something else that could have helped.
He ducked out of the kitchen to Greg threatening to wrestle him back in. He arrived in his mother’s workshop just in time for Nanny-Bot’s eyes to close. She stood next to the bench with a wire hooked into an access panel on her side.
His mother glanced up. “Kevin?”
“How is Nanny-Bot reset?” Kevin asked, rushing forward. “If we could have gotten her going, we could have escaped sooner.”
His mother stood up from her chair just long enough to give him a quick hug around the shoulders. “Nice thought, but it would have taken more than a push of her reset button to get her going again. They had to go into her core memory matrix to reset to her original programming. Then they reloaded our stored preferences.”
“If you had been there?” Kevin asked.
“Maybe.” His mother went back to the computer. The multiple screens along the back of the workbench flashed and scrolled. “It all depended on exactly what the Vordac used to shut them down. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know.”
Kevin describing the light that rolled over everything didn’t help. Her mother still didn’t know how it worked, and as such, didn’t know what specific reset would have worked.
It didn’t satisfy Kevin. Not one bit.
He watched her check Nanny-Bot’s internal systems. Do a soft and hard reset. Some of it he understood. Some of it he didn’t.
That bothered him.
So much so that he couldn’t sit still. He played games with his brothers. Played Hide and Go Seek with Christy. All while watching Nanny-Bot for any sign of malfunction.
Not that he expected to see any. Not with his mother having checked her over. He trusted her more than anyone the police or anyone else used before bringing Nanny-Bot home. She was a well-known robotic expert, after all.
He wasn’t. Not an expert on anything, except video games, and maybe math and science class. For the first time, he didn’t like that.
What if he’d known more? Could he have done anything better or differently in the little time they’d had? Would having Nanny-Bot awake and functioning have made any difference? Would he have known how to deal with the Vordac robots better?
He wondered about it all night. The few times he dozed off his dreams filled with the questions and uncertainties. Turning into replays of what happened, but with parts going much differently. Nightmares that woke him up early again, with no hope of falling asleep again.
But one thing he knew. He needed to know more. Needed to have more of a chance if it happened again. Only one way he knew to do that:
TO BE CONTINUED…
Come back for more reading! Look for the next exciting installment each Tuesday.
Support the story by throwing a tip my way if it makes you happy. Buy my other books for more reading joy. Comments have been known to result in warm fuzzies. Spread the word, tell a friend, or add a link to the story for even more. So many ways to gather warm happy fuzzies!
Part of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Challenge.