Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2022 finalist Duncan Johnson. Duncan finished 4th grade this past school year and wrote a story called “Don’t Trust a Robot Too Much.” One judge commented that Duncan writes important details in a “clever and natural way.” Enjoy!


by Duncan Johnson

It was morning when Leonard Renaissance, an engaging inventor, went door-to-door with his trusty robot, following him like a pet. He knocked on every door but so far everyone was hesitant to let him in because they thought he was an eccentric person. They’d seen him around town before, collecting butterflies and bugs, and he was totally unselfconscious about his appearance. He had untidy golden hair, his eyes were a blueish-gray, and he had on a white lab coat. His many pockets were overfilled with gadgets and tools and a couple butterflies and bugs climbing out.

Finally, a nice family of 8, opened the door and when he told them he was selling robots that he’d invented, they were skeptical until they saw how impressive his was. It was bright, neon yellow, with colored indicator lights all over the machine. It looked like nothing they had ever seen before.

It was sophisticated!

“Wow, what an invention!” they all exclaimed. 

“How did you make this awesome robot?” the father asked.

“I created it in my lab, Telluric, it’s close by. Wanna come see?” Leonard responded excitedly.

“No, thanks,” the mother said, “We just want to buy one for ourselves! It’s truly astonishing”

Leonard asked to come inside, and the father happily guided him in. 

“Sorry the house is such a big mess,” said the mother.

The family let Leonard use their computer to place the order for their very own robot. They got to customize the color too. Meanwhile, nobody noticed that Leonard’s robot, Elektro the First, had been cleaning up in the living room and kids’ bedrooms, picking up toys and vacuuming.

“Ding Dong!” the doorbell rang.

The father peeked through the window and then opened the door.

“It’s me, your new friend, Elektro 6000! Here is the card for Leonard Renaissance’s information,” it said, handing the father a slip. The family was surprised that their new robot had come so quickly.

Leonard and his robot, Elektro the First, proudly left to go try to sell more robots.

The kids ran excitedly to the door to meet their new robot, but one little boy slipped on a banana peel that Elektro the First had missed, and he fell down. He cried loudly. His many siblings asked if he was ok, and his parents helped him up. The boy held his head and continued to cry.

The robot made a loud sound— “rrrrRRRv…ssst…POP!” Out of the Kitten Compartment shot a soft, orange-red ball of kitten fur. The boy caught it and stopped crying immediately. The kitten snuggled up to him as the family watched in amazement. “WOW, this robot is truly amazing!’’

The mother noticed a nifty button on the robot that showed an icon of a water droplet with a steam cloud and a check mark.

“What happens if I push this button?” she asked.

The robot replied, “That turns on the Toil Diffuser. It’s aromatherapy for whenever you’re working hard and are stressed-out, you can turn it on right now if you have aromatherapy oils. You put 5 drops of your choice of oil into this valve.” Electro 6000 said, pointing to a valve on the Main Board.

“Cool, that’s so nice! I’ll do that later,” she exclaimed.

Then suddenly they heard a sound–“drip, drip, drip, drip, drip…” followed by, “meow.”

“Get that cat out of here now!” the father yelled.

“It’s ok.” Said Elektro, as he quickly wiped up the puddle and sprayed it with Pet Stain Remover and put the cat back into the compartment. 

“Wow, thanks Electro, you’re so helpful! What else can you do?”

“Well, lots!” the robot responded proudly. “But now we have to go to bed, it’s 9 pm. I will wake you all up at 7 a.m.”

They all were so impressed and trusted in him immensely, so they did as he said and went to bed. It was only nine in the morning, but nobody noticed the robot’s clock was set to PM. 

Elektro 6000 woke them up at 7 P.M, the next day. The family was perplexed when they noticed that the kids had missed school, the father missed work and the mother missed her dental appointment. The kids were happy, but the father and the mother were aggravated. Grasping the problem, the father fixed Elektro’s clock. Next, the robot described to the family all the exceedingly many things he could do until the mother saw outside there was a red glow of flames in the sky. Destruction and havoc were taking place all over the city. They heard the hum of many robots, loud crashing, and shattering sounds from things being broken. The whole family was filled with dread and the mother called Leonard Renaissance on the phone. The phone didn’t ring. 

Then she read the display screen on the robot’s panel, “43 apps successfully installed… Cellular Signal Jammer, EZ-Dismantle, DIY(Destroy It Yourself.), Kitten Compartment Emptier, Block Access Deletion…”

The family quickly rushed to the robot and switched the Master Switch off and the robot loudly said, “ACCESS DENIED!”

Elektro 6000 let out a sinister “HAHAHAHA!” and drove through the door to join the robot mob.

They unscrewed and disassembled machines, bridges, buildings and roads. They crashed into houses and skyscrapers and even each other! They cut limbs off of trees, drove cars through gardens, and smashed into other cars. They ran over pets and kids’ playhouses and chicken coops. The robots emptied themselves of all their kittens in the streets and on rooftops. People were scared and trying to make them stop or shoo them all away. Inside their homes, robots were cutting the cords of electrical appliances, making a mess, and plugging up chimneys. Elektro 6000 sprayed Toil Diffuser aromatherapy oils all over the houses. The robot owners were dismayed and screeched at them to stop but they ignored them and kept spraying.

Ichnite was Leonard’s best employee at Telluric. He had neat, short, black hair and hazel-colored eyes. He had been jealous of all the attention and fame that Leonard was getting for his invention and so he had coded a virus into Leonard’s robot, and it was sent and downloaded to all the robots. 

“I caused all this destruction!” Ichnite said proudly to Leonard.

Seeing the chaos and destruction being caused by his robots, Leonard didn’t reply because he was very furious. He couldn’t think of what to say but bravely accepted the challenge, and started working on a way to fix the problem. He sent out a code that shut down all the robots and they fell to the ground. For days and days, Leonard tried to figure out how he could fix all the robots so they would be good again. Finally, he was able to create a new code that would fix all the problems and turn them back into good, helpful robots. He uploaded the fix to his own robot and then sent it out to all of them. They quickly jumped up and began to put everything in the city back together without hesitation. The destruction felt like it had just been a bad dream. 

The people of the city decided they should not put too much trust in their robots, even though they were so much fun, so helpful, and so easy to use. 

Ichnite went to jail and after a couple of months, he was pardoned and freed because he was sorry. He and Leonard continued to work together on many new inventions and even though Leonard still got credit for most of the work they did, Ichnite still had fun.

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