“This is the moment we have all been waiting for. Over the last 5 years the youngest and cleverest amongst us all have been competing for this honour: to be the owner of the latest X-14 model of robot which we- Utech- have been building. To get here, the final 5 competitors have worked together and separately. They have shed tears of frustration, happiness, anger. Still, they did not give up and here they are. Yet only one can win. Let me introduce them!” A round of applause and catcalls thunders through the auditorium. Mr Jiles, the CEO of Utech, stands backs and bows, smiles and claps.
And the curtain is drawn back.
“From the left to right, we have Julie Damnel, who has the highest IQ of a 14 year old recorded EVER of 176. She started out as a shy 9 year old, but did she learn to fight! She isn’t going to give up her prize easily. During the 6th round, at age 12, she built the robot Anya 14. Do you remember that one? That was the one that could change hair at will. You want long hair? Coming up. Short? Even better. Bald? Done in a jiffy. Give us a wave, Julie!” A young girl stands forward waves, but lazily, like she’d done it all before many times. She was dressed in a short skirt, tucked into a pale yellow shirt. She wore heels, but still didn’t come up to the boy’s shoulder next to her who was called-
“James Penims, everybody! The 16 year old mastermind whose father helped co-found Utech. During the 8th round, at age 15, he created the healer-bot. It could heal any injury, no matter size or scale, within 10 minutes. He now is producing and selling them to hospitals, globally. I expect he’ll be a millionaire by the time he is 18. Come on, James, step forward.” A tall, gangly boy steps forward, smiling and waving happily at the crowd. His tailored suit and charismatic personality gives of the air of someone much older than him.
After that,Thomas Kirk, a 15 year old boy, who impressed audiences with a weather predicting bot that was actually accurate, Megan Kody, who developed a safe way of developing nuclear bombs and Kate Raner, who was the youngest in the entire competition who is now just 11 years old.
By this point the crowd had gone wild, shouting and screaming, yet the 5 competitors remained unblinking, staring straight ahead, not letting anyone distract them from the announcement.
“Okay, okay! Ladies and gentlemen! Simmer down! Do you want to know the winner? Guess not…” He started to walk off, but finally the crowd got the message and went silent. “We announced the prize way back at the beginning: the X-14 robot, but how many of you know what it is? I don’t think they’ll be many of you. Let me explain. This model is the latest and most modern ever created. It is in its most basic form human. It can talk like us, move like us, act like us, but it doesn’t always understand social concepts. That’s something we have been struggling to do for years so we decided why don’t we let a child do it. Their understanding of the world is unique and different, and maybe that’s what we need. So we will give X-14 to the winner, so he or she can program it to function in a society. They will keep a diary of what the robot is doing, and how others react to it. If all goes well, no one will notice it is a robot. This model looks like a 20 year old woman, who is pretty average height and weight. Do you want to see the robot or winner first?”
Shouts came from all directions, making it unclear which was more popular, so it was down to Mr Jiles to choose. “Alright, here we go. Winner will be announced first. Drumroll please!”
“Thomas Kirk!” The weather-predicting boy stepped forward, clearly in shock, tripping over his slightly too long trousers, which caused a ripple of laughter from the crowd. His face went beet red. “Come up here, son, you ready to see the prize?” He shouted, even though the boy was still right next to him. He nodded and leant forward in anticipation.
And, for the second time, the curtain is drawn back.
Silence through the auditorium.
Silence from Thomas,
Silence from Mr Jiles.
For the first time since the show started everything was silent.
“Hello Thomas, I am your new robot, Z-14. What would you like to name me?” A deep metallic rumble came from the robot on stage. It stood there staring intently at Thomas, until the boy sputtered an answer.
“Well, we were all told to pick a name beforehand. I had chosen Cass, but after seeing you, I don’t think it would be appropriate, seeing as you aren’t female. Give me a minute.” And he was right. Z-14 was most decidedly not female. Or even male. It was 11 feet high, and about 3 feet wide, almost completely black, with the exception of its eyes which were an unusual green colour that almost… glowed. “Ezra. I will call you Ezra. Is that okay?”
“Certainly. I am Ezra.”
I- I- I think there’s been a little mistake. Maybe a typo?” Mr Jiles stutters and splutters, like a malfunctioning train. “I thought the email said X-14, not Z-14. Hold on a mo, ladies and gentlemen, let me just call erm…” He stumbles off the stage, trying to smile and wave while frantically dialling on his phone. He quickly left to go backstage.
On stage, Thomas approaches Ezra hesitantly, holding one hand out. Slowly Ezra takes it in his. The audience, who until this moment had not uttered a word since Ezra was revealed, broke out in applause, whether it was for Ezra or Thomas or just to end the silence. It didn’t matter to Thomas.
Mr Jiles came back. He stood on stage and announced that they had been a tiny typo. Z-14 would be going back and a X-14 would be sent in his place. No one should be worried.
No one was worried except for one. Or two if you count Ezra.
“Please Mr Jiles,” Thomas spoke quietly to start with, but gradually gained confidence and volume. “Please, can I program Ezra- Z-14- instead?”
“What on Earth for? X-14 is so much better looking than that. Also that is also a lot less accustomed to our ways so it will be harder. It isn’t even meant to be in public. As you can tell from the defense system, he is an army robot.”
“Just because he isn’t meant to socialise doesn’t mean he can’t. I would like to program him, and I don’t care what you say, Mr. I want to have Ezra. I will still record a diary, and send it to you. Don’t worry, you’ll still get your precious data.” Thomas took Ezra’s hand, carefully so as not to trigger the defenses, and walked offstage, to a very quiet crowd.
And then the whispering started.
“Is he crazy?”
“Good on him!”
“Mr Jiles looks furious!” And he did. His face had grown gradually darker, his eyes narrowing, and his lips thinning. He glared after Thomas and Ezra, as if he could stop them with the power of sight. But Thomas and Ezra were gone and they weren’t coming back. Mr Jiles could only wait to see if it all worked out (then he would claim it was his plan all along) or if it ended in disaster (then he would blame it on the boy).
A year after that typo was made Mr Keney- Mr Jiles predecessor- put together all the reports from the last year. As Thomas had promised, he had sent in a daily report. Altogether there was a lot of data, so after careful reading, he picked the most influential and interesting days for the final report.
Day 1- Settling into the house
First report. Ezra has settled in well. Of course, it wasn’t as expected so we have had to alter some of the furniture because of his height. Mum and dad were slightly wary about him to begin with but they see he means them no harm. I can only hope that others will think the same. When we first walked inside, Cooper, my dog, came bounding up, Ezra panicked. It’s not his fault. He had just never encountered a dog before. His defenses came up and burnt Cooper’s tail. Luckily he’s still alive. His room is next to mine, and he is more than happy with it. He said it is a very nice yellow, which is his favourite colour. His old space at the factory was grey and very small. I want you to change that and make sure all robots have a room for them. Thank you. Apart from that no other major mishaps happened. He has taken a definite shining to my mum, especially her hair, which we are trying to teach him not to stroke. That is all for today. I will be taking him shopping tomorrow.
Day 2- Going out the house for the first time (shopping)
As you know, we went shopping today. Ezra wasn’t sure about going in the car yet, so we walked. People did stare, like we predicted, but Ezra didn’t mind. In fact, he was quite happy talking to people. However when we arrived at the shops, we had to go through the sliding doors. This proved… challenging. He set off an alarm, because he was made of metal. He doesn't like loud noises, and panicked, with his defenses up. Luckily I was able to stop him hurting anyone. As I’m not sure what he likes to eat, and neither did he, he picked out whatever he liked the look of. He ended up choosing mango (he liked the colour), raspberries (he liked the texture) and tomato soup (he liked the name). He refuses to eat tomatoes though because they are ‘dangerous’. We hastily left that area when he announced that. The walk back was uneventful. He is now okay with the dog and is starting to pet him.
Day 7- Going to the park
Today we visited the park for the first time. Ezra has been excited about this all week, because he wants to feed the ducks. At the park, once again, people did stare, but Ezra ignored them and went to find the ducks. He did find the ducks, in the middle of the pond, where he tried swimming. Fortunately his ‘skin’ is waterproof, and remained unharmed, which sadly could not be said for the closest duck, who now only has one wing. He has now made very good friends with Cooper and doesn’t leave his side.
Day 17- Going to school
Today it was our first day of school together. Ezra has been put in my class. He stays by my side, but does talk to everyone who wants to talk to him, which, admittedly isn’t many people. Still, he did well in class, and the teachers seem to accept him. He joined a game of football with me and is a surprising talented player. The coach says he is considering putting him on the team, if other schools allow it. We took the car home, which he now enjoys greatly to ride. He is settling in very well now, with very little problems. We have broken him of the habit of stroking mum’s hair.
Day 64- School trip
Mr Keney note: Since the first day of school, no major events have happened. He has settled in well. At school, he has made friends and does occasionally leave Thomas’s side. He is on the football team.
Today we went to the zoo with school. I was slightly nervous about this, because on previous encounters with animals Ezra has been… flighty. He greatly enjoyed the bus ride there, and did not sit next to me, which shows he is growing independent. When we arrived, he stayed close to me and we started the tour. It went alright, although he didn’t like lemurs or penguins. He thought they were scary. Overall it was a success, and he now claims he loves animals and ‘when can he go back to the zoo?’ I think we’ll make another trip out there soon. He also wants a pet gorilla.
Day 98- Malfunction - Cinema
There was a problem today. We decided to take him to the cinema, and we watched a cartoon film with lots of animals in: Zootopia. At first he thought it was amazing, with all the talking animals, but then decided he didn’t like it. He said that animals shouldn’t talk and that the film was a lie. He shot the screen. Then he got annoyed that the film still played because it is a projection. I had to evacuate him out, but no one was hurt, just surprised. I made sure they all got refunds. He calmed down quickly after I explained more about what the cinema is.
Day 133- Holiday to France
For the last few days, I have not sent in my report. This is because we were in France- Ezra’s first time abroad. We took a boat over, where we watched the wake for the majority of the journey. Not many people bothered us, but the few that did were polite as was Ezra. In France, we stayed in a villa, with a large garden with a lot of wildlife. Ezra loved it and didn’t want to sleep or come home. Most days we would visit town or go out to explore. Ezra was confused by the language at first but was quite happy to listen to people talk in French. Overall it was a success, and there were no problems.
Day 184- Christmas
Merry Christmas! Ezra’s first Christmas. He was like a puppy, and loved the tinsel and food and the presents. He couldn’t believe that we got him one. He was given a remote control helicopter, which he is playing with now. It hasn't crashed yet (badly) and he takes great care of it, like he does with all his possessions. He couldn’t stop smiling and claims today was ‘the best day yet’. Because of this, I think today was a success and can’t wait for Christmas next year. I’ll attach a video of him with his presents later. Once again, merry Christmas!
Day 253- Thomas’s birthday
My birthday today and I’m not sure who was more excited: me or Ezra. He was up and in my room at the crack of dawn, trying to get me to open my present from him. It was the first present he had given ever. It was a mini version of him. He really was proud of it, but I don't think he understands that it wasn’t for him. It doesn’t matter, because it was the first time. He didn’t understand the candles on the cake and was trying to call the fire brigade, but after I blew them out, I explained. He said it was ‘unhygienic’, which is probably true. It was my best birthday yet, because Ezra was there. I’ve grown to love him over the last 253 days.
Day 365- 1 year since. How he has done.
I can’t believe it’s been a year since I first met Ezra. I don’t think there has ever been a luckier mistake than that. He has come along in leaps and bounds since then. He can cope with society as well as anyone- even X-14. He started off as a bot who was scared of a lot, especially animals. Now he is an animal lover who keeps begging for a cat. I think we might get a cat, as a one year gift for him. I can’t wait to see what he will be like in another year to come- or another century. He has had a lot of support this year from me, our parents and friends, but he has grown steadily more independent over the year. I thank you for choosing me for him. I will always care for Ezra, even if it was a mistake.
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This was a sweet story. Choosing diary entries was a fun way to tell it and I loved the way the robot adapted to like animals.
This was a nice story. I like the innocence of Ezra. I am glad that he did not turn in to a homicidal robot, as I think that could have been a bit too much of a cliche. I like the diary style as you managed to get in a lot of different experiences without it feeling rushed or disjointed.
Hello again! I think there are only two or three stories I haven't read. Here's this story's feedback: [After that,Thomas Kirk, a 15 year old boy,] Space after the comma. :)