JIMMY WATSON'S MAGIC DINOBOT
ANTICS - ARDUINO - ARMOUR - ARTWORK - BIOLOGY - BLACK BOX - COMPUTERS - ELECTRONICS - ENERGY - FRAME - FORMICARIUM - HEAD - JAWS - JIMMY WATSON - KITS - LEGS - MECHANICS - MOTORS - MOVIE - PHOTOGRAPHY - RASPBERRY Pi - R/C DRONE - SENTRY - SOFTWARE - SOUND PROOFING - SPEED - SUSPENSION - TAIL - WEAPONS - WARGAMING
At the age of 12, Jimmy had made dozens of robot toys that could find their way out of a maze, chase the sun and not fall off a table, but he wanted something more challenging for his growing programming skills. He mastered Lego years ago. He'd worn out half a dozen humanoid robots trying to extend their physical limitations. He was bored. He was so bored that one day he followed a cheeky ant from his mum's larder, back to its nest outside in the passage to the back garden. He was amazed when the ant came back to the house for more sugar, but this time with a few companions.
His mother, Marion, spotted Jimmy's fascination, but spoiled the investigation with a kettle of boiling water. He was heartbroken thinking about those poor ants dying, when all they wanted was some sugar. But he loved his mother and knew that she was only trying to stop pests from spoiling their food supply. Marion was a fine artist, a retired teacher who had married Tim, a handsome army cadet turned soldier, who was stationed in Germany for most of the year. Why Germany? He thought the cold war was history.
One day while surfing the web, Jimmy noticed an advert for a robot kit that really took his fancy. The problem was that the kit cost almost his entire earnings and pocket money for a whole year. It was out of reach except for in his imagination.
He tried to forget about the robot kit, but found himself on the website almost every day. He would read all of the copy several times, trying to imagine what it would be like to own a large hexapod robot. Much more fun than a humanoid.
It was Christmas soon and he started dropping hints. But Christmas came and went, with nothing under the tree that was remotely robot like. Jimmy could not stop thinking about the DinoBot kit.
Back at school in a new term, he found himself looking out the window daydreaming, instead of concentrating on his lessons. His history studies started suffering, then geography, all except physics and computer science - in these he excelled. He was far more advanced than his classmates and even his teachers could not keep up. Though he kept those talents to himself. It was bad enough that Johnny Baxter picked on him, without his favourite teacher thinking he was a smart-ass. So he played down his gift when in class.
Then there was Julia Roberts. Not the famous actress; a mathematics star pupil. She was so pretty he could not look at her for more than a second without feeling inadequate, let alone engage in a meaningful conversation. Every now and again Julia tried to spark up a conversation, because she liked Jimmy. She liked his awkwardness when she was about, his spectacles and the way he always seemed to hit the nail on the head, in and out of class. But whenever Johnny saw that, he pushed them apart and would later tell Jimmy in private to leave well alone, shoving him to the ground or otherwise treating him badly. Johnny was like a wedge between Julia and Jimmy. But Johnny had no reason to chase Julia while he was flirting with other girls, other than being territorial.
Another morning came, Jimmy dragged himself out of bed, bleary eyed to the kitchen for a cup of tea, then onto his bike and down to the corner shop to pick up his delivery sack. He was quick on his rounds, even in the darkness as dawn was breaking, he knew those roads so well and liked visiting them in the silence of the morning when he was master, because there was nobody else around.
He still thought of the robot kit. Especially when delivering to The Cloisters, an annex off the boys college that was disturbingly like a churchyard with some very creepy inscriptions in stone reminiscent of a graveyard. Opening those heavy wooden gates and going down the tree lined path sent shivers down his spine. The wind rustling the leaves some days didn't help. Lately, he pretended that the giant robot he wanted so badly was behind him, looking out for him - and that made him feel invincible. He was sure he could program the machine to do that and ached to give it a go.
Jimmy began putting his money aside. He counted it every week and it was fast becoming a habit. He soon had £70 pounds in his little steel moneybox as January rolled into February he passed the £150 mark. He hid the moneybox under a loose floorboard under the carpet to the left of his bedroom window, and tied the key to a piece of fancy chord which he wore around his neck at all times, except when swimming or taking a bath. If his mother had known about his stash, she would have insisted that he bank it in his savings account. Mum and dad did not approve of irrational purchases. They would surely think that this one of those. Times were hard and dad's army salary only adequately covered their lifestyle, despite an overseas allowance. Mum would top up the family coffers with the occasional art commission and read script submissions for a production company as a freelance.
Come June, not only was the sun putting a warm glow back into the heart of Sussex, but his money box was filling up nicely. He had over £300 pounds in clean twenty pound notes and another £80 pounds in tens and fives, with £4 pounds in coins. It made him feel rich to count it, like a bank manager. This was now a ritual on Sunday mornings when he had the house to himself. He thought about what else he could spend his money on, allowing himself to go wild. A new watch, a bike, a 3D TV. But then it would all be gone; wasted. He needed at least £900 pounds for his dream robot. £1200 would be better. The basic DinoBot kit was £499 pounds, but you needed to buy other parts to complete the robot. The more you spent on accessories, the higher the likely performance. Jimmy liked performance, who didn't.
Jimmy had compiled a list of parts that he kept in a sacred bound black A5 notebook under his mattress. Hardly a very secret hiding place, when his mum read it almost every time she changed the sheets. But that little detail escaped Jimmy for some reason - as though the sheets changed themselves. Marion did not relocate the notebook because she liked all the thinking that had gone into the book. Jimmy had made notes like this before for some of his other projects. She did not find the moneybox but must have realized from the shopping list that Jimmy was saving for the items on his list. He was not spending money on anything else and was always keen to earn a little extra mowing a neighbours lawn or washing a car.
Curious, Marion searched Jimmy's room when he was at school more than once, but could not find his stash. It was not in his savings account, there had been no deposits in over nine months and it niggled her not knowing where his money was going. What was he planning? It was understood that the money in his savings account was for important things like his education and one day, a deposit for a house. Marion tried the floorboards, because that is where she had hidden her savings when a child. She methodically walked a grid pattern, but, no boards were creaking or loose. Jimmy had used a spongy gasket material to bed the floorboard. This stopped creaks and kept it fixed tight. He also tucked the carpet back under the skirting board with a thin pen cap to complete the illusion of normalness.
In August his dad came home on leave. Jimmy was so pleased to see his father that he forgot about the DinoBot, until one evening at the dinner table his father asked him what he'd been up to. Jimmy said that he was working hard doing chores and scoring well in physics at school. Then Marion let slip about the black book. They were very proud of Jimmy's achievements and obvious talent. They both thought that one day he might work for NASA, on their Mars rovers, or perhaps on satellites.
Marion opened, "I think our son is working on his next project." "Uh, huh" said his father, "what is it?"
"From the list of parts it looks quite complicated," said his mother. "And expensive."
The blood rushed to his head and Jimmy's face became bright crimson, almost fit to explode. His mother had read his project book. His mother had found his project book and read it. He repeated that thought again and again. He couldn't have felt more emancipated if she'd discovered a hoard of pornographic magazines. He wondered if his parents might have preferred that. Was nothing safe in this house.
"How expensive, said his father?"
Mum and dad had always approved Jimmy's purchases. They would ask him to explain why a project was so important to him, and he would tell of virtues of what became a logical progression - and that they approved of. Permission was granted.
"It's just an idea dad."
This was the first time Jimmy had not rushed to sell the concept. Tim and Marion looked at each other, then back at Jimmy. Marion jumped in again, "Well there is a long list. One column totals nine hundred pounds."
"Nine hundred pounds. What is it a space ship?" Dad laughed, but they were both waiting for an explanation. Jimmy stayed silent.
"Come on Jimmy, we're dying to know," his mum said in an inviting tone. She got up from the table and went upstairs to Jimmy's room. Jimmy looked at his dad and raised his shoulders. A minute later Marion returned to the dinner table carrying the black notebook. His eyes widened, Jimmy wanted to grab for it, but thought better of it.
"What's that?" said Tim.
"It's Jimmy's idea darling." She thumbed through the pages.
"Ah, here we are, version one, nine hundred pounds."
"That is expensive," said his father in a confirmatory tone.
"Oh yes," said Marion, "but, version three; twelve hundred pounds."
"Wow," Tim breathed out hard, looking at Jimmy for a clue.
His mom and dad could see that Jimmy was struggling. Marion handed the book back to Jimmy. "Here Jimmy, or shall I pop it back under the bed for you?" She gave her son the book and motioned zipping her lips with her fingers to Tim to stay quiet. Jimmy took the book, looking visibly relieved at recovery.
"Thanks mum, I've got it." With that he got up and left the table. He did not come down again that evening.
In the weeks ahead, both Tim and Marion searched Jimmy's room trying to find his money box. They agreed he must be saving his money, because he wasn't spending any, and he was working so hard. Secretly they liked the idea of this project, but did worry about where Jimmy would build such a big robot.
- Marion teases her son about his dreams to build a large robot ant with a
drawing of Jimmy riding on the ant's back.
LINKS & REFERENCE
[LEFT] ANT-MAN - From Marvel comics, a 2015 movie that was well received, benefiting from CGI, that has made so many classics that much more enjoyable. [RIGHT] THE MAGIC DINOBOT - From Jameson Hunter, a 2016 film idea. Jimmy dreams of building a giant robot ant as a mechanical companion, then one day his dreams come true when the robot he has built is transformed into a living, breathing, friend. NOTE: This story is Copyright © Jameson Hunter Ltd, March 30 2016. All rights reserved. You will need permission from the author to reproduce the book cover on the right or any part of the story published on this page. The author welcomes comment and would like to hear from any artist (preferably in Sussex) who might like to illustrate this story.
ANTICS - ARDUINO - ARMOUR - ARTWORK - BIOLOGY - BLACK BOX - COMPUTERS - ELECTRONICS - ENERGY - FRAME - HEAD - JAWS - JIMMY WATSON - KITS - LEGS - MECHANICS - MOTORS - MOVIE - PHOTOGRAPHY - RASPBERRY Pi - R/C DRONE - SENTRY - SOFTWARE - SOUND PROOFING - SPEED - SUSPENSION - TAIL - WEAPONS - WARGAMING
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