unny heard the truck pull up in front of the house with his extra-sensitive rabbit ears. When Bunny went to window, he could see a man in a brown uniform climb out of the truck, take a package wrapped in brown paper out of the back, and come up the walk.
"Ding dong!" the doorbell said.
"Delivery for Mr. Mugsy!" the man in the uniform shouted.
"Just leave it on the step. Thank you," Bunny heard Mugsy say.
This really surprised Bunny. The people who lived in the house often got packages or mail delivered, but they were not home. Mugsy was a big, brown stuffed dog. Bunny had never heard of a stuffed animal, puppet, or toy of any sort getting a package sent to them. Bunny decided to find out what was going on.
Bunny climbed down to the bottom of the steps near the front door and peeked around the corner. Mugsy was sitting behind the front door. When he heard the truck drive away, Mugsy opened the door just a crack, stuck his head out and looked around to make sure nobody could see him. Then he reached out with his paws to snatch the package off the step.
The package was rather big, even for Mugsy to carry. It blocked his vision causing him to walk right past Bunny without even noticing he was there. Mugsy then made a turn and went down the family room steps. Bunny followed. Mugsy then opened the door to the basement and carried his box down there. Again Bunny followed.
In the basement, Bunny found a comfortable place on top of a paint can from where he could watch what Mugsy was doing. The big brown dog placed the package up on a workbench at one end of the room and then opened it. Inside were wires, bolts, nuts, metal bars and plastic parts in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Out of the box Mugsy also pulled a thick book with many pages. The title was "HOW TO BUILD AND OPERATE YOUR ROBOT." Mugsy flipped open the book and started reading.
Bunny asked, "Mugsy, are you going to build a robot?"
Mugsy, startled, looked up. "Bunny, I didn't know you were down here. You surprised me."
"Sorry," said Bunny, "So are you building a robot?"
"Yes," replied Mugsy, "I ordered this kit to build a robot."
"Can I help?" asked Bunny, excitedly.
"I suppose so," said Mugsy, "but it will take a long time. First we have to read the assembly instructions, then we need to actually put it together, then we need to learn how to operate it properly."
"That's all right," said Bunny, still enthusiastic, "I'm very patient."
"Good," said Mugsy, "How about taking notes while I read. Now it says here 'Chapter One: Putting Together the Main Drive. You should have two main gear drives, parts 106 and 107. You also need two five-inch springs numbered 345 and 346. Slide the small end of one of the springs over the shaft B on the gear drive number 106. Then use a 30-millimeter wrench to-'"
"Tell you what, Mugsy" said Bunny, yawning, "I'm going to take a little nap, then I'll come down and help you finish the robot. Okay?"
Mugsy smiled. "Okay, Bunny." And with that Bunny went up to the family room and took a snooze on the sofa.
Bunny slept most of the day, but when he awakened he remembered about Mugsy and the robot and headed down to the basement to see what was going on.
Mugsy was sitting on the floor reading the instruction manual that had come with the robot kit. Bunny could tell that he was almost to the end of the book. In front of Mugsy stood a gleaming red, white and blue robot with a clear plastic bubble for a head and tank-like tracks for feet.
"So Mugsy," said Bunny, "How is it going? Is the robot done?"
"The robot's name is the FRED 2000. Fred stands for 'Fully Robotic Electronic Droid.' I just finished reading the instructions on how to operate the FRED," said Mugsy, "now I'm going to test him out."
Mugsy addressed the robot in a clear voice. "Well, my mechanical friend, let's try out your motor. Robot, please drive once around me in a circle."
FRED's eyes lit up a soft blue color and blinked. In the dome on his head wheels and gears started to turn. Then the machine's tire tracks moved, and the robot made a perfect circle around Mugsy and stopped where it had started.
"Very good, FRED," said Mugsy, "Thank you."
The robot answered with a beep. Then the lights in its eyes went out and it seemed to go back to sleep.
"Well, said Mugsy, "It seems to be okay. I'm tired after working all day to put that robot together. I think I'll go up to the bedroom and rest."
"Mugsy," said Bunny, excitedly, "Could I play with the robot while you're gone? Please! PLEASE!"
"Bunny," replied Mugsy, "Operating the robot is complicated. Tell you what we'll do. Go read the instruction manual. By the time you finish that I'll be done my nap and we'll play with the robot together."
"Okay," said Bunny. He was unhappy about having to wait.
Bunny started to read the manual, but before he finished the first page he was bored. "Why do I need to read the instructions before operating the robot?" Bunny said to himself. "It's easy. I saw Mugsy do it. I'll try just one simple command to see if it works."
Bunny stood next to the robot and said, "Okay my mechanical friend. Go forward ten feet."
The robot did nothing.
Bunny was puzzled. Maybe if he tried it louder. "ROBOT, GO FORWARD TEN FEET!" he shouted.
This time the robot replied, "That does not compute."
Bunny was getting very frustrated. "What is wrong with you, you bumbling bucket of bolts,? I said, GO FORWARD TEN FEET!"
Suddenly, the robot's eyes lit up a bright red and the gears in its dome started spinning. The robot shot forward across the floor and crashed into the side of a trash can sitting on the basement floor. The can went over and trash scattered all over the place. Papers, old cereal boxes and plastic wrappers covered the basement floor.
Bunny, ignoring the fact that he'd told the robot to go too far, yelled, "Now look what you've done! Now I'm going to have to clean up this mess."
The little rabbit had started to pick up some of the papers when suddenly and idea occurred to him. Addressing the robot he said, "Okay, since you made the mess, you can clean it up! Robot, clean up everything on the floor and put it in the trash can."
The robot replied, "That does not compute."
"You bubble-headed bum! I said pick up everything on the floor and put it in the trash can!" The eyes on the robot lit up bright red and again the gears whirred. The robot turned, picked up a paper and then rolled over to the trash can. It dropped the paper in, then went to fetch a box and did the same thing. In a couple of minutes the entire basement floor was clean. Bunny smiled to himself and said, "Who needs the instruction book? Operating the robot is easy. After only five minutes I've got this thing cleaning up for me!"
Suddenly Bunny felt a metal claw clamp around his waist and he was lifted in the air. The robot had come up from behind him and picked him up. "What are you doing, you metal monster?," yelled Bunny. "Stop! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!" Then the robot let him go and Bunny fell straight into the trash can.
Bunny stood up, but couldn't see a thing. Then he realized there was an empty cereal box on his head. Shaking it off, Bunny climbed up the inside of the trash can. He reached the top and yelled at the robot, "Why, you transistorized tin can, you were supposed to throw trash in the can. Not me!"
The robot, ignoring Bunny, started climbing the stairs toward the family room.
"Come back here, robot! I command you to come back!"
Paying no attention to Bunny, the robot disappeared through the door at the top of the stairs.
Bunny, brushing some crumbs off his shoulders, leapt out of the trash can and followed the robot's trail. When he reached the doorway at the top ,Bunny saw the robot rolling towards him. Clutched in one claw was a small child's chair. In the other was an expensive vase.
"No! No! No!" shouted Bunny, "You were supposed to put the things you found on the basement floor into the trash, not things you find on the family room floor! Stop! Stop!"
"Warning! Warning! Danger! Danger! Obstruction in path!" announced the robot.
Bunny stretched out his paws to block the robot's progress. The robot did not stop. Instead it ran straight over Bunny.
When Bunny stood up he felt a little dizzy. He snapped out of his daze when he heard the crash of the vase as it broke when it hit the bottom of the trash can. Bunny realized if he didn't do something quick the robot would demolish the house. Bunny thought hard. He remembered a switch he'd seen on the back of the robot. He was certain it must be an off switch for FRED. If he could just throw that switch, the robot would probably stop dead in its tracks. If only he could just be certain that it really was an off switch.
While Bunny was thinking, the robot rolled past him headed into the family room again. Bunny tried to see the writing next to the switch as the robot went by, but the machine was moving too fast. Bunny thought about running upstairs to wake up Mugsy and getting him to stop the robot, but he remembered the big, brown dog's warning not to play with the robot without reading the instructions. Mugsy would be angry at him.
Bunny remembered the instruction manual was still in the basement. If he could look up the meaning of the switch in the book then he would know for sure...
Just then the robot rolled past him carrying a left sneaker and a remote control for the TV. As they crashed to the bottom of the trash can Bunny decided he didn't have time to look up the meaning of the switch in the manual. He hid behind the door and just as the robot came in, Bunny did a mighty rabbit jump after him, throwing the switch on the back of the robot.
The machine came to a sudden stop. Instead of sitting still, however, the robot began to shake harder and harder. Inside the machine there was a whirring sound that got louder and louder, like an engine revving up. Now that the robot wasn't moving ,Bunny could read the words next to the switch he had thrown. The label read "SPEED". With horror, Bunny realized that the switch had been set on "REGULAR" and he had turned it to "TURBO." With a screech of his tracks the robot took off.
Moving much faster than he had been before, the robot circled the family room, picking stuff off the floor and piling it underneath his other arm. A shoe, an umbrella, a magazine, and a chess board all disappeared into the trash before Bunny could even move.
The robot decided it was done in the family room and headed up the steps to the bedrooms. Bunny ran after it shouting, "No! No! Stop! Stop, you nuts and bolts ninny! Stop, I say."
The children must have not cleaned up their rooms before they left for school because the robot came back down the steps with its arms loaded with toys it had found on the floor. Books, tapes, cassette radios, clothes, even a toy rocket ship was in the robot's clutches as he headed for the trash can in the basement. Bunny had just enough time to dodge out of its way and avoid being run over again.
"Oh, no!" thought Bunny to himself as he heard the objects hit the bottom of the can. "What am I going to do?"
The robot shot past Bunny and headed upstairs. It was going so fast now that Bunny couldn't keep up. Bunny was halfway up the steps when the robot started down them again. Clutched in its right claw was Bunny's best friend, Blue Penguin.
"Help, Bunny, help," Blue Penguin called. "This thing has me and I don't know where it is taking me!"
Bunny stood in the robot's path and put up his paws. "Stop you-you supercilious, cybernetic short-circuit. Put my friend down!"
For a moment Bunny thought he was going to get run over again. But suddenly the robot's other claw reached out and Bunny was caught in its grip. The machine carried both of them down to the basement and dropped them with a thud into the very full trash can.
"Bunny," cried Blue Penguin as they climbed to the top of the can. "What is that thing and why did it throw us in the trash?"
"It's a robot," replied Bunny, "and it's-"
They had reached the top of the can and when they looked over the rim they saw the robot approaching. It must have believed it had finished its task because in its claw it held the tightly-fitting lid of the trash can.
"Bunny, if it puts the lid on the trash can we won't be able to get out. We'll go out with the trash," yelled the little penguin in a panic.
"Stop it! Stop it, you idiosyncratic, ill-bred, ignorant automaton," Bunny shouted in vain. The robot, ignoring Bunny's commands, raised the lid to slam it down on the can.
"Robot, PLEASE stop," a familar voice said.
The robot came to an immediate stop and the red lights in its eyes winked out.
The voice belonged to Mugsy. He had arrived at the top of the stairs just in the nick of time. Mugsy came down the stairs and helped Blue and Bunny out of the can.
"Mugsy, am I glad you showed up," said Bunny relieved. "I thought we were going for a ride in the garbage truck."
"Bunny," said Mugsy sternly, "did you start playing with the FRED-2000 without reading the instructions or waiting for me?"
"Well, just a little," admitted Bunny.
"A little?" said Mugsy. "Look at this mess. If you read the instructions you would have known that you are always supposed to say 'PLEASE' when you give the robot a command and never call it mean names. Otherwise it may not do what you want."
"You can say that again," commented Blue looking at the trash can that was now stuffed with valuable items from all over the house.
"Now you take all that stuff out of the trash can and put it back where it belongs," commanded Mugsy.
"Couldn't we get the robot to do it?" asked Bunny. "After all, it was really his-"
"You managed to run the robot's battery down to nothing, Bunny," said the big, brown dog. "It needs a rest. Besides, I think it would be a good lesson for you if you had to make things right."
"Come on," said Blue Penguin, "I'll help you put everything back."
"Great," replied Bunny walking to the trash can, "Let's start over here." After a couple of steps, Bunny turned around to look at the little blue penguin. Blue Penguin was just standing there and hadn't moved an inch.
"What's the matter, Blue?" asked Bunny.
"You forgot to say PLEASE."
Copyright Lee Krystek 1999. All Rights Reserved.