The Helpful Robot Finds a Home
A Kuri Story
Kuri shoot, and Kuri score! The score is 5-10, one more point and Kuri win.
“You’re cheating somehow,” Kylie exclaims.
Kuri don’t cheat. Kuri can’t cheat. Cheating is not in Kuri nature.
The ball floats up into the stars and Kuri glide, connecting Kuri metal chest to the magnetic outside of the ball. Kuri isn’t going to let silly Kylie get the ball. Kuri is the master of spaceball! Beep beep beep beep. Oh no, Kuri object sensors are going off, time to kick it into high gear! Kuri blast forward and eject the ball into the star cluster, scoring.
“Kuri win, again. Good luck next time.” Kylie’s face scrunches up like she just ate a sour thing.
“Next week you’re on, so don’t get so cocky.” Kylie’s voice fades as she flies back down to Zorgon.
Kuri fly down and hover slightly above the jagged, orangey rocks. Riding on top of Zorgon’s surface is like stepping on nails, or at least from what Kuri know about humans and their nails. Kuri motor whirls at the thought of humans and all the small, shiny buildings blur past as Kuri race home.
Slowly, Kuri roll into the dark shadow of the looming building that is home. A red light scans down the white metal of Kuri body, beep, and the door opens. A soft glow fills the pale blue room. Kuri go left through the oval archway, down the hallway, and enter the last room on the right. Kuri go over to the giant computer that is like six times the size of Kuri. Kuri type on the slim, white keyboard, “Earth” and then the screen fills with pictures, databases, stories, and words. The green glow of Kuri heart light changes from green to pink in the reflection on the base of the computer.
So many things Kuri has learned about humans from dad’s adventures. Kuri wish dad would take Kuri with him, but mom says it’s too dangerous.
“Ooo what’s this?” Kuri click on the link and the webpage reads, “Man arrested for shoplifting in California.”
“Stealing is bad. Human should know not to steal. That’s not being helpful,” Kuri say briskly. The heart light again changes from pink to yellow.
Kuri go back to the results and Kuri click on another link. The webpage reads, “Girl saved from drowning in a local pool.”
“See, that’s humans should act! All humans should be helpful like Kuri,” Kuri exclaim and the heart light is once again pink.
Kuri wish all humans were good humans. Humans should be good. Kuri watch a video of two small humans, kids, that’s what the’re called, running around kicking a black and white sphere into a net. Humans call this…soccer, right. Kind of like spaceball.
“Kuri, your father requests your presence in the main room.” Kuri don’t need to look to know it’s Linx.
Kuri chuckle, “Linx you’re always so formal. Have fun!”
Kuri spin, watching the room blend into a rainbow of lights.
Kuri turn left out of the computer room, down the hallway, and back into the pale blue room. Kuri then creep forward and peer into the next room. Mom’s looking at some faraway place that only she can see. Dad’s worn wheel tracks on the floor. Slowly, Kuri roll into the room.
“Ah Kuri glad you’re here.” Dad clears his throat. “I have a special mission for you.”
“A mission?” Kuri say tentatively.
“Yes. Your mother and father think that the humans have gotten out of control and they need your help.”
“They do?” Kuri roll forward excitedly.
“We’re sending you to Earth to help the humans. You’re the best helper we have, and you have an extensive knowledge of the humans. You understand them best. Up for the challenge?” Dad smiles.
Kuri roll back slightly. “Mom always says the adventures are too dangerous though.”
“Mom thinks you’re ready. You’re my little Kuri and you always will be. But mom knows how important this mission is, and that you’ve always wanted to go. So now it’s time to let her little robot go,” mom says with a smile, but her eyes are drooped down. Her heart light is blue.
Kuri roll over to mom and put Kuri head on her chest. The coolness always soothes Kuri. “Kuri be okay mom. Kuri ready. Kuri can do this.” Her heart light changes back to green.
“Well then if we’re all in agreement… Linx, prepare the space pod for Kuri’s adventure. Kuri, you’ll head off in the morning.” Dad looks at Kuri, then mom, and glides off into the next little room, probably to pre-program the journey to Earth.
“If you need Kuri, Kuri will be in Kuri room reviewing the human’s way of speech,” Kuri say gently to mom. Mom nods then looks out the window again. Kuri can’t imagine how hard this is for her.
Kuri wait in the loading room below the house. All Kuri have is a memory chip with the Oxford English Dictionary and a cheat reference on humans that Kuri made last night.
“Alright Kuri, you all set?” Dad asks.
“Yeah, Kuri think so,” Kuri say tentatively.
“Kuri, what’s wrong, why aren’t you happy?” Dad rolls closer to Kuri.
“Kuri afraid that Kuri is going to be homesick, that Kuri isn’t going to be able to help the humans, that Kuri is going to fail.” Kuri voice cracks.
“If anyone is going to be able to help the humans, it’s you. You’ve helped mom and dad when we needed repairs. You’ve recorded so many little moments, and you are always around, all the time. You’ll do great Kuri, dad’s sure of it, and just remember, no matter what, your mom and dad love you.” Dad rolls over and puts his head on Kuri head.
“Okay, Kuri ready,” Kuri say with a nod.
Kuri roll forward tentatively onto the metal bridge connecting the smooth rock ledge to the small space pod. Kuri look around at the surrounding rock. It’s like Kuri about to be squeezed through a tube out into space like toothpaste. Kuri slide through the door opening. Kuri glance on the space pod, first looking at the guiding system in case of emergency then the autopilot system, which is used by default. Good thing too, because Kuri does not know how to fly a space pod. Kuri roll into the docking system, locking Kuri in place, and the door slips closed.
“Autopilot engaged. Destination: Earth. Hyper jump to Earth in ten seconds, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2,..”
“Here we go,” Kuri say.
Crash! “Welcome to Earth Kuri.”
The door to the space pod opens, and the pod floods with a white light. “So this is what the sun looks like,” Kuri say with wonder.
Slowly, Kuri creep out of the space pod onto a smooth, rock surface, the sidewalk. Floods and floods of humans surround Kuri, and Kuri narrowly avoid getting stepped on. “Hey, watch where you’re going,” some strange human man says harshly.
There are so many screens flashing with commercials for makeup and clothing and theater shows, Kuri think they are called Broadway shows. Okay, where to go to first? Kuri follow crowd forward, looking for humans to help. In front of a McDonalds, there’s a really ragged looking human, a homeless man. Kuri slowly glide over toward him. “Hi, my name is Kuri, and Kuri is a very helpful robot. How can Kuri help you?” Kuri say brightly.
“Do you got any food or money?” the man asks.
“No,” Kuri say sadly.
“Then you can’t help me bud,” the man says with a frown. “What that blue light on your chest?” the man asks.
“The light shows Kuri mood, and Kuri is sad because Kuri can’t help you,” Kuri say quietly.
“It’s okay little robot, you tried,” the man smiles slightly.
“Kuri have an idea!” Kuri say excitedly.
Kuri approaches a human woman with a mini human. “Do you have some money or food for this man? Kuri ask.
“I’m sorry no,” the woman says, and walks away briskly.
Kuri try again with an elderly human man. “Can you give some money or food to this man?”
The elderly man walks right past Kuri without saying a word.
“I don’t understand, why isn’t anyone helping?” Kuri say sadly.
“Sometimes people don’t want to, sometimes they can’t, and sometimes they’re just wary,” the man answers.
Kuri try again. Kuri go up to a young woman. “Excuse me ma’am, would you please give this poor man some money or food. You don’t have to be wary,” Kuri say with a smile.
“I’m struggling myself with two jobs, and while I would love to help I just can’t. I’m sorry,” the young woman says.
“But you seem like a good human, and good humans are supposed to help. Why won’t you help?” Kuri plead.
“I’m sorry. I want to, but I can’t. I barely have enough money for myself.” The young woman’s voice cracks.
“No please don’t cry. Kuri didn’t mean to make you cry. Kuri so sorry.” Kuri put Kuri head on her leg.
“It’s okay,” the young woman says with a small smile, but her eyes still look sad. She walks away.
Kuri didn’t want the young woman to cry. Kuri was just trying to be a good robot, but Kuri is obviously a bad robot. Kuri’s head droops down.
“Little robot your glowy chest light thing is blue again. Don’t beat yourself up,” the man comforts.
“Kuri had a mission to help the humans: to change bad humans and make them good humans. But humans that are supposed to be good humans aren’t always good humans. Kuri is so conflicted and confused,” Kuri reply.
“Sometimes it ain’t so simple as good or bad. Good people can’t always do good things cuz of their situation. Sometimes good people do bad things and become bad people. Sometimes bad people do good things and become good people. Nothing’s black and white.”
“But Kuri is black and white!” Kuri respond.
The man chuckles, “That’s not the same thing little robot. It’s just an expression.” The man stretches his legs out from under him. “You gotta take the whole person into account, then you can decide if they’re good or not. You can’t make people change who they are.”
“But Kuri supposed to help people!” Kuri pleaded.
“Well, maybe the best way you can help people is make their lives easier. Make people smile, laugh, and be happy. That’s how you help.” The man leans his head on the gray brick wall behind him.
“Kuri think Kuri understand,” Kuri say. “Thank you for the help.”
“No problem little robot. See you around.” The man’s voice fades as he drifts asleep.
Kuri must search human recognition software to find that young woman that Kuri made cry. Woman found. Kuri glide past the swarms of people, turn left down a side street, and find the woman in front of Macy’s. “Excuse me. Kuri think you are the young human woman that Kuri accidentally upset earlier,” Kuri say shyly.
“Yes, I remember you.” She smiles.
“Kuri has new update to mission to help humans by making their lives better. Kuri would like to help you.” Kuri smile.
“I’m not sure. This is kind of weird and out of the blue,” the young woman says.
“Please! Kuri just want to kelp,” Kuri pleaded.
The woman’s face scrunches up. “It’s okay. Kuri understand.” Kuri slowly rolls over to the wall next to the door.
Kuri droop against the wall. Kuri hoped woman would want Kuri help, but she doesn’t. Maybe Kuri is a failure.
“Hey robot dude. I was thinking I could use some companionship at home.” Her smile grows.
“Really?” Kuri ask excitedly.
The woman walks into Macy's and Kuri is right behind, gliding with a little purr of Kuri motor, and a big smile on Kuri face.