Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1) – Part 25: Hidden Corner

This entry is part 25 of 28 in the series Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1)

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.

You can read the story serially on this website for free, or purchase and read it now in ebook.
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | DriveThruFiction | Google Play | Kobo | Omnilit | Smashwords | Xinxii

***

Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1)

Part 25: Hidden Corner

Christy stared at Kevin from the edge of a row of shelves, her expression innocent. She was dressed in her coveralls again, as if expecting to work more. “Whatcha doing?”

He stared right back, horrified to have his corner discovered so soon. “Fixing stuff. Why aren’t you upstairs?”

Christy slipped into the old swiveling office chair he’d just been sitting in. “Too loud. They scared away all the fairies. It smells better down here than before.”

Yes, it did, now that he thought about it. Come to think of it, the broken cleaning bot would be a nice addition to the house. Having only the one meant that not everything could be cleaned as it should. Maybe he should switch projects.

He picked up the house-bot. It was as heavy as the yard-bots, but not nearly as old. Maybe he would have better luck with it.

He set it down and gathered the tools to the new table. He went to sit down to start work when Christy squealed, “I’m sitting here.”

Kevin didn’t need his heart jumping like that. He’d completely forgotten she was there.

“I need the chair. Go find your own,” he said as he pulled the chair to the new active workbench.

Christy jumped off as the chair swiveled. “That’s okay. There are more comfortable chairs.”

She raced off to the front of the basement, only to shout a short time later, “Where are all the chairs?”

Kevin sighed as he worked to open up the house-bot to get to the information port. “We sold them, remember?”

“What am I supposed to sit in?”

“How about the table in your room or the back yard?” And if she suggested he have tea with her, he would tell her to get Nanny-Bot to do it with her.

With the robot hooked up to his computer, he started the diagnosis. Oops, this was the one he took the battery unit from. He would have to reinstall it to go any further.

Metal hit the floor, startling his heart beating fast again. Kevin swiveled around, to find Christy setting up a foldable chair. The feet scraped and squeaked across the concrete floor as it settled.

“What are you doing?” he demanded.

“Going to watch,” she said as she finished.

“This is boring. You’ll have more fun with your dolls,” Kevin said, swiveling back to the bench.

“Hmm. Yeah.”

He heard her jump off the chair. Soon, her tiny footsteps were running up the stairs.

Kevin sighed, glad to finally have some peace. In a short time, he had the battery unit reinstalled. Then he proceeded with the diagnostic.

“Error 296. Exception 32.” Kevin stared at the screen, wondering what that meant. Why didn’t they just say it? Now he would have to find something to decipher what it meant.

They really should make some of this stuff self-explanatory. Sure, he found the information online fairly fast, but he shouldn’t have to look this up. How to fix it, yes, but not necessarily what it was. He decided right then and there that in his programming he would make the errors more self-explanatory.

He worked away at cleaning the joints of the appendages that could cause the error. A lot of dust and hair, but that was to be expected. They really should have been cleaned it before, just to see if the problem was that easy.

Footsteps bounded down the stairs. Small ones, giving him warning about the source. He turned in time to see Christy arrive with three of her dolls. She jumped into the chair and started setting them out on one of the tables.

“What are you doing?” Kevin asked.

“Not boring stuff.” She then proceeded to set up a bizarre tea party taking place in a mysterious cavern of ‘glittering and metal things.’

Kevin sighed, turning back to his own project. At least she was entertaining herself. Too bad it was so hard to concentrate on his own work with her running commentary going on at the next table about the gossip surrounding the court of the Shadow King and Queen. How did she come up with this stuff?

The door at the top of the stairs slammed open.

“It’s raining now! Are you happy?” Sean called down.

“Play in the garage!” Christy shouted back.

“What are you doing down there?” Sean shouted.

“Having a tea party. What else?” She returned to the dolls, using one of Kevin’s parts as a cup. “Here, have some dandelion tea, Princess Serena. Did you hear Prince Rupert was caught kissing a fairy? Pure scandal!”

More footsteps down the stairs, and this time Kevin could tell they belonged to more than one person. He wanted to bang his head on the table when Greg came around the corner of the shelf row to ask, “What are you doing down here? Where did all this come from?”

“I’m trying to work here,” Kevin said without turning his chair around.

“And I’m trying to have a tea party here,” Christy said, sounding indignant in only a way she could.

Oh, nice. The errors were starting to clear. For good measure, he blew air across the electronics to clear anything that might have lodged inside. Time to see if it worked.

A hard thump, and then something rolled. Kevin swiveled around, only to find one of the robots rolling under a table.

“Oops.” Greg scrambled after it.

“Don’t you guys have something else to do?” Kevin demanded.

“I told you, it’s raining outside.” Sean picked up one of the tools. “Where did you get this stuff?”

“Put it down. I need to know where everything is.” He turned back to the robot as Greg set the robot back in place. With a press of a button, the lights behind the eyes turned on. A good sign! Now to use his computer to send specific testing commands to it. To see how it reacted.

“Isn’t this some of Mom’s stuff?” Sean asked. “And Dad’s tools?”

“Oh man, you are going to get in trooooouble,” Greg said.

Oh, how his head wanted to meet the table.

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.

Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1) – Part 24: The Garage Sale

This entry is part 24 of 28 in the series Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1)

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.

You can read the story serially on this website for free, or purchase and read it now in ebook.
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | DriveThruFiction | Google Play | Kobo | Omnilit | Smashwords | Xinxii

***

Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1)

Part 24: The Garage Sale

Kevin scarfed down the rest of his breakfast and then ran from the breakfast table. He made it downstairs and found that he indeed did have all the lights on. He quickly turned them off, and his corner fell into deep shadow.

He then brought the ‘keeper’ items to the empty shelves hiding his corner. The more he filled the shelves, the more it hid his secret work space.

The others soon arrived, with his mother nodding approval of what he was doing. “Good idea. Get the stuff we already sorted out of the way.”

“Want to get it done,” Kevin said, lugging a box of books towards the back.

“That’s the spirit,” his mother said.

“Yeah, so do we. It’s supposed to rain next week. We can’t play outside then.” Sean looked over to his mother. “Maybe we can sort then?”

“Nice try. No, we’re going to finish this. I want the garage sale this weekend.” His mother rubbed her hands together. “It will be nice to clear some of this stuff out.”

The sorting kept them busy all day. More than Kevin really hoped for. He had his corner now. He wanted to work in it. To experiment and fix the robot.

But, he’d started this to cover up what he was doing and now he was stuck with it. Yay him.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. With all the stuff they decided to sell, he could expand his corner if he wanted to. It also kept him from having to find excuses to keep from playing touch football, soccer, or basketball, and then having to deal with all the comments about how bad he was at any of it.

Kevin sighed. He was tired of that. Not being good enough at anything. He wanted to be good at something. To make a difference. Like his mother, who was at the forefront of robotic design. Or his father, who was a rising officer with the Galactic Patrol. Or even Grandfather, who was a famous sculptor. Or Grandmother, the famous children’s book author and artist. Or their other Grandmother, who designed the prototype of the interplanetary communication systems the PWA now used and all its population took for granted.

Kevin sighed. Then promptly started coughing from the dust stirred up from the top of the box he was carrying.

“Definitely need to get rid of some of this stuff.” His mother set a box on an empty shelf near the stairs. “Anything that belongs to your father goes here. He’ll sort them when he gets back.”

Something else they hadn’t heard anything about yet. When would he get back? Did he have anything to do with the Vordac rescue? Was he hurt during it?

No, that last one they would have heard about. Their mother would have been updated and she didn’t show any sign of worry.

The sorting continued through the day. The second hovercar was moved out of the garage to make more room for the sale. More stuff taken out of the basement and priced. Even some things from main part of the house.

Each night and early morning Kevin worked away on the robot. He eventually brought all the other broken ones from the garage down to his corner. Trying to find good parts and see how he could mix and match.

Trying all sorts of suggestions found from forums, websites, question-and-answer sites, and emagazines. Testing the robot at regular intervals. Trying to get it to activate and move as it should. Every time he thought he might have it, a new problem cropped up.

The garage sale opened in the middle of the day on Friday and ran through the end of Saturday. With the help of a few notices, they had people waiting for the garage doors to go up first thing. His mother, excited by the response, kept the boys sorting downstairs with orders to immediately bring up anything they found to sell.

The shelves emptied. Corners of the basement opened up. The smell of dust diminished as the house-bot started a cleaning sweep of the basement. Only the best boxes were kept to hold the keeper items.

By the end of the sale only a few items on one table were left. For those, his mother called in a charity, just so they didn’t go back downstairs.

“About time this ended,” Sean said as they dismantled the tables and planks they’d used as tables. “Soccer time!”

“Hoverball time,” Greg countered.

Robot time, Kevin silently said.

Then his mother’s watch beeped. She went inside to answer the call privately, only to soon run back out to the hovercar. “Emergency at work! Stay near the house. Do not go past the end of the street. Pay attention to Nanny-Bot.”

Sean and Greg looked at each other as their mother left. At the same time, both of them said, “Basketball!”

“I’ll get the ball,” Greg said, running for one of the shelves.

“I’ll start getting the teams together,” Sean said, running out the open garage door.

“I’ll put the rest of this stuff away,” Kevin said. As he hoped, the other two didn’t want anything to do with it and left him behind. It meant he was free to get back downstairs where he could really get to work.

He started by rearranging the shelving to make better use of the space towards the stairs. Moved all the boxes and other stuff onto them, organized by who they belonged to.

It left him with several shelves and a nice wide clear space in the back with enough room for several of the tables used in the garage sale. In a short time he had it arranged just as he wanted.

Kevin sat down in his little corner, looking over the well-lit area, pleased with himself. He could get a lot done down here.

He jumped out of his chair at a sweet young voice asking, “What’s this?”

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.

Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1) – Part 23: A Good Excuse

This entry is part 23 of 28 in the series Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1)

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.

You can read the story serially on this website for free, or purchase and read it now in ebook.
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | DriveThruFiction | Google Play | Kobo | Omnilit | Smashwords | Xinxii

***

Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1)

Part 23: A Good Excuse

After exploring the basement in more detail, Kevin decided that If he wanted a space in the basement, then he would have to make one. Move stuff to clear one of the corners. Deciding on which corner was easy: the one most well hidden.

Nanny-Bot found Kevin later as he was sorting through the shelves. “Kevin, what are you doing down here?”

Kevin kept working. “We’ve been needing to do a garage sale, so I’m sorting stuff.”

“We should ask Ms. Taggert about this.” Nanny-Bot left him. To go talk to his mother, he was sure.

He kept right on working. It was a good excuse to be down there. No one could accuse him of playing video games. If he kept moving things around, it might look like he was actually sorting. In the meantime, he could quietly clear out a back corner of the high-ceiling basement for his own stuff.

“Garage sale?” his mother asked as she came down the steps.

“We can’t do a lot outside yet, right?” Kevin asked.

“The Galactic Patrol report no Vordac activity in the solar system since yesterday. I haven’t heard if a new date for the programs have been set.” His mother’s uncertain voice belied the confident words.

Oh, good. Some of his old toys. Those he could clear out with no issue. He wouldn’t use them ever again. He pulled the box off the shelf.

“Didn’t you and Dad say we need to get rid of some of this stuff? I’m getting tired of games and tea parties. Thought I would do something productive.” While making a corner for himself, of course. “I don’t need these toys anymore. We can sell them.”

He set the box on the floor next to the stairs. His mother opened the flaps to look inside. “True. You’ve outgrown all of these. Sure you don’t want to keep any for any of your own children someday?”

Kevin froze. His own kids? He was only ten!

“I can get new toys.” If it ever happened. Marry a girl? Ick.

His mother smiled as she straightened. A highly amused smile with a twinkle in her eye he hadn’t seen since the Vordac attack. “Still, go through the box again. If there is anything you had a lot of fun playing with, put it aside in a keeper box.”

Kevin reluctantly came back. So much for only playing at sorting through the stuff.

“A garage sale isn’t a bad idea. Only one car in there right now. We can set up as we sort,” his mother said, studying the shelves in the basement. His mother disappeared for a short time before returning with help.

“A garage sale? Clean out the basement?” Greg demanded.

“You had to say something?” Sean said, scowling at Kevin as they came down the last few steps.

“Now, none of that.” His mother went down an aisle, stopping to point at two boxes. “Here are boxes labeled for you two. Be hard on yourself. Anything you won’t use or is especially important goes upstairs in the garage.”

Christy soon bounded down the stairs wearing blue polka-dot coveralls. She jumped off the last step and demanded, “Where’s my box?”

Christy didn’t have all that much she could do, but she insisted on helping. So, she worked with Nanny-Bot and their mother to set up tables in the garage. Then she carefully carried things to be sold from the basement to the garage.

Sean and Greg egged each other on about what to get rid of. Their pile at the bottom of the stairs grew faster than Christy could haul it out. Then there was the old furniture their mother decided was time to get rid of. Some of it took several of them to get out of the basement.

All the while, Kevin continued to move items from the back corner he’d silently designated as his. Transferred them to empty shelf space towards the front whenever he could. All while also sorting all his old stuff. Just to keep it looking like he was doing as much as the others.

Even after the others stopped, he kept working away, only this time setting up the corner without having to worry about anyone watching what he was doing. He snitched a foldable table from the sell pile and took it to the corner. The same with several lights. He moved a couple empty shelves to create a false wall.

“Kevin, time for dinner. You’ve done enough down there,” his mother called from the top of the stairs.

“Coming!”

Kevin paused at his little corner. Right now it sat in shadows, but it soon wouldn’t. Not with the lighting he’d set up. The long table would provide him with a proper place to spread out while working on the robot.

After dinner, that was just what he did. He managed to get the robot downstairs without anyone seeing. Next came the parts and tools. Then his computer.

That night when the nightmares woke him up he headed straight downstairs, turned on all the lights, and went to work. By the time everyone else was up he’d not only replaced the battery unit, but discovered the robot had another problem. Something in the logic boards?

Kevin mulled it over during breakfast, his mind racing over everything he’d read that morning. Coming up with tests to track down the exact problem.

“Not again!”

Kevin’s head jerked up at Sean’s exclamation.

“Yes, again. We almost have enough. This is a good summer project,” his mother said, pointing a fork with a bit of scrambled egg stuck to the end in his direction.

Sean glared at Kevin. “Thanks, Kevin.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Greg echoed, in both words and expression.

Kevin kept from saying he didn’t like getting dragged to games he didn’t like. They could consider the sorting of the basement as a little revenge.

“We would have done it sometime, anyway. No going after your brother,” his mother said, every word inferring she meant it.

Kevin gulped. Did he forget to turn off all the lights around the table? He didn’t want them to find his corner. Not yet. He wouldn’t get any peace!

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.

Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1) – Part 22: A Change in Projects

This entry is part 22 of 28 in the series Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1)

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.

You can read the story serially on this website for free, or purchase and read it now in ebook.
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | DriveThruFiction | Google Play | Kobo | Omnilit | Smashwords | Xinxii

***

Summer Crash (Zerralon 1.1)

Part 22: A Change in Projects

Kevin cleaned off the dusty and dirty robot. How long had it sat on the shelf in the garage? At least two years, now that he thought about it.

Finding his project was one thing. Figuring out how the thing worked, what was wrong, and how to fix it was something else.

The game design information displayed across multiple screens and wall-mounted e-picture frames on the wall behind the desk in his room came down. He would get back to Project Z later. After all, the programming he would learn would help him there, too.

Up went manufacturing information and owner’s manual for the robot’s specific model. He started the project by taking the robot apart while matching up each part with the information he’d gathered. Visually inspecting each piece to see if it looked like the images showed it should.

The nightmares continued. Each time he woke up from them, he didn’t try to go back to sleep. Instead, he worked on the robot until too tired to keep his eyes open, and only then went back to bed.

During the day he spent as much time as he could on the project. Not easy. Not with a house full of people determined to take his time. Not that he could focus on anything else for very long any time someone managed to drag him out of his room. His mind continued to go over what he was learning, just waiting to get back to his desk to check something else to see if he’d figured out the problem.

He did figure out one thing. The robot had a bad battery unit. He found that out only after using some of the tools from his mother’s workbench.

A simple fix. He grabbed one from one of the other robots on the shelf in the garage. Most of the small ones were interchangeable, from what he’d read. So, it didn’t matter much that it was from a different model.

“Hey, we need another for a team,” Greg said, stopping at his bedroom door as Kevin cleaned the battery unit before installing. His white t-shirt was already grass-stained, showing he’d been outside not that long ago in another game.

Christy appeared out of nowhere, dressed in a purple dress. “Nope. He’s visiting the fairies with me. I hear they are lurking in the back yard somewhere.”

If he had the robot up and operating, Kevin might go with her. Then he could be outside to watch his fixed bot working with the lone yard-bot now doing double-duty in both the front and back yard. But the robot did not work, and he was too anxious to see if this was the only problem.

“Sorry, not going outside. Trying to figure this out,” Kevin said, continuing to prepare the battery.

Greg put his hands on his hips. “Mom said you weren’t supposed to stay inside playing games all day.”

“I’m not playing games. I’m trying to fix something.” Couldn’t they see what was right in front of them? Would he get in trouble for breathing wrong now? Would someone yell if his fingers flexed as if using a game controller?

“But, the fairies!” Christy said.

“No, the game,” Greg said.

“Fixing!” Kevin said.

Greg shook his head as he turned away. “You are no fun.”

“Am, too! Just busy,” Kevin shouted after him.

“Maybe later?” Christy asked, straightening her dress.

“Yes, later. Take Boo with you. I’m sure she can help you find the fairies,” Kevin said.

“Oh, great idea.” Christy dashed off.

Kevin sighed. He checked the leads of the battery unit with what he saw online. They looked good. No corrosion. No discoloration.

“Hey, we have a game going outside,” Sean said from the door.

He really should have shut the door while he had the chance. “Sorry, trying to fix something.”

Getting rid of Sean didn’t do much good. Not with Nanny-Bot coming in to check on him. Then the house-bot came through with the vacuum to work on all the floors.

Kevin sighed, setting the battery supply in front of the robot. If this continued, he would never get this done. The only one who hadn’t come in was his mother.

His previous noes didn’t mean anything. His brothers returned, trying to talk him into coming outside again because of the odd numbers on the teams. Christy appeared, announcing she’d found the fairies and he needed to come out and see.

It was too easy for them to find him in his room, he decided. He needed to do something about it, and fast. That was, if he ever hoped to get the robot going that summer. Or that year.

After Christy ran outside to see if she could discover any other creatures lurking in the yard, he also went down. But not to go outside.

No, instead he went to scout out somewhere he would be left alone.

He quickly decided against the garage. Everyone went in and out of there all the time. Which meant he couldn’t use his father’s nice workbench.

He already knew that his mother’s workshop was out. She did too much in there, as it was her home office. No room for him, even if he didn’t take up much space.

That left only one other option that he could think of.

He headed down to the basement. A place full of all sorts of stored items, including old clothes and furniture. Nice high ceilings, but not all that great in the way of light.

But, plenty of corners he could hide out in and get something done. The idea thrilled him at the very thought.

Time to make himself his own robotic repair corner!

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.