Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2019 finalist, Ruby Chien! Ruby finished 3rd grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “The Invention Girls.” We asked Ruby what she likes best about her story and she said, “The bad guy is really not so bad, he is just jealous.”
My owner is a girl named Ida. She has three friends named Melissa, Maria and Anne who live in the neighborhood. The three girls’ specialty is inventing. The girls make lots of inventions to help them fight off the evil Robotinater, who created robots that tried to scare people. The Robotinater has wrench-like arms and feet made out of old solar panels. His head is square and so are his eyes, and I hear a little “creak creak” when he walks. He can also smile if he wants to. His body is rectangular with screws sticking in it here and there. He wears a nametag that says “THE ROBOTINATER”. When I saw the name tag, I wondered if it would be cool for me to have one too. I’ll tell you more about that later. Some people think the Robotinater looks scary and evil, but to me, since I’m just a dog, he looks like an ordinary robot.
No one knew where the Robotinater lived. He usually spent most of his time trying to track down people with robots. They would see the Robotinater around town trying to get into people’s houses to steal their stuff. Nobody knew where the Robotinater went, since he just disappeared. Because I was Ida’s loving puppy, I knew they felt frustrated and anxious when they saw the Robotinater. He also tried to steal the girls’ robots because they were so high-tech that he wanted to use their parts to make more updates to his robots that he had already made. He was always spying on them from afar to see what they were up to.
Since he watched the girls invent their stuff, he knew they had invented a robot that would produce food and drinks and a tiny electronic robot that you could just put in your mouth and it would brush your teeth. Also, that robot (the Toothbrushing Robot) had a remote control that made it so you could tell it to go to your molars, and it would carefully brush your molars. Then you would turn it off and spit it out and put it in a special liquid he had watched them invent to clean it. After it was cleaned (it was a waterproof robot) it would be charged on a little pad that he also watched them invent.
Next came the “chores” robot. The Chores Robot helped Ida with her chores. Also, they invented a “control yourself with a phone” robot. It was basically a robot like a phone, but it would only let you have a limited amount of video game screen time. For video games, on Monday and other weekdays, 10 minutes and on weekends 20 minutes. For puzzle-solving screen time, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 30 minutes and on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 20 minutes. If you wanted to call or text somebody you would also have a limit as well. If Ida tried to call somebody, it would send a signal to Ida’s parents’ phone to see if that person was on Ida’s parents’ “favorites” list. The same went for texting. If Ida got mad, it would automatically call her parents and during that time, it would also play a meditation.
One day, the girls were working on a brand-new invention called the Travel Table and Chairs.
“It will be awesome,” I heard Ida say.
“Yeah,” I heard Melissa agree.
I watched Anne start sorting out the parts and Maria making sure they had everything. The girls were having a sleepover. It was seven o’clock, and they were still hard at work. They put things together and made sure that they worked properly. Two hours later, Ida’s mother came in the room.
“Nine o’clock, children. Time to go to bed.”
“Aw, but we are almost finished, Mom!” said Ida, clearly excited.
“Alright honey, but only fifteen more minutes,” said Ida’s mother, and then she left.
A few minutes later, Ida’s mom came in. “I decided to check on you in case you were done already,” she said.
“We are!” said Ida. Then she and her friends moved aside to reveal a shiny silver robot. It was very tiny, and there were many of them.
“Oh, how does this work?” asked Ida’s mom.
“It’s easy,” said Anne. “You just grab this remote control and press the Unfold button and…ta-da!”
The robot enlarged and turned into a brown wooden table with shiny metal bits on it.
“Wow!” said Ida’s mom, “but what are the others?”
“Oh, the other ones are the chairs,” Melissa said, pressing a button on the remote control Anne was holding. In an instant, a beautiful metal and wooden chair popped up.
“Oh my!” said Ida’s mother. “This is spectacular! We can use it when we go camping!”
“It’s waterproof so it should be fine if it rains,” replied Ida.
“Can you wash it with some soap and water?”
“Of course, Mom!” said Ida, laughing. “We even made a special detergent to clean it.”
“Wow, children!” said Ida’s mom, “We will talk more about this in the morning, but its time for bed now.”
“Okay,” said Ida, Anne, Maria and Melissa. They all grabbed their Toothbrushing Robots, popped them into their mouths, and pressed some buttons on their remote controls. There was a faint buzzing sound from their mouths. Minutes later they went into Ida’s bedroom to get into their PJ’s and into their sleeping bags. All of their PJ’s were covered in robots (of course!). Then they got into bed. Anne fell asleep quickly along with Melissa, but Ida and Maria stayed awake a bit longer thinking about their new invention. I settled myself on a stray blanket between Ida, Melissa, Maria, and Anne.
The next day when the girls were playing with me, Ida’s dad came home from shopping.
“My dad’s home!” said Ida happily. She ran to the front door with Anne, Maria, Melissa and me. “Hi dad,” said Ida.
I barked a welcoming hello. “Hello Henry,” her dad said. “Hello Ida. I brought a present for you and your friends.”
“What is it, Dad?” asked Ida, clearly excited.
“Here, have a look,” said Ida’s dad. Ida and her friends rushed over to the box and tore off the tape so they could open it. I tried to look but I was not tall enough.
“Wow!” said Anne, Ida, Maria and Melissa (also I barked). “A whole new invention kit! Thank you so much! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Then Ida tipped the box over so I could look because she knew I was so curious.
How could I tell them to use the kit to make a puppy biscuits dispenser? That’s the only thing that really would be useful.
Just then Ida’s mom called from the house. “Girls, now that you have discovered what the gift was, it’s time to go home. You can use it next time. Your moms are here.”
“Okay”, said Melissa, Anne and Maria.
I followed the girls into the kitchen where the moms were talking and drinking tea and coffee.
I continued to bark in an attempt to tell them what I was thinking, but they just leaned down to pet me. But as they did, I realized that once again they could not understand because I was speaking Doganese.
“Hi, mom!” the girls all greeted their moms cheerfully.
“Hi, girls,” said Maria’s mom. “Nice to see all of you having fun!”
“Thanks, mom,” said Maria.
“Come on, Anne,” said Anne’s mom, “we have to get going. Your father is going to make pizza tonight, and I don’t think you want it to be cold!”
“I don’t, mom,” said Anne, chuckling. “Bye, Ida!” she said as she walked out the door. “See you tomorrow at school!”
“We should get going too,” said Melissa’s mom. “Sorry, but Melissa has to practice her piano”.
“That’s okay,” said Ida’s mom, “she can come another time”.
“Maria needs to go to her gymnastics class,” Maria’s mom said.
After the girls left, Ida started reading a book on inventing, and I lay down to take a nap. I knew the girls were going to make something great in the future, because they always did.
When Ida woke for school the next day it was bright and sunny. I watched her get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and go on her way to school early. I had seen her put the box of invention pieces in her backpack, and I wondered whether she would use them at school during their “free build” time.
I was sitting in my bed chewing my bone. The girls were at school and Ida’s mom had gone shopping after Ida left on her way to school. Ida’s mom had told me to be a good dog and bark if anything frightened me. It was as if she knew I could understand (which I could), and I would do just as she said if anything frightened me. Just then, I heard a robotic voice say something I could not understand. A tiny robot came in and took a step toward me. I barked. The robotic voice spoke again but it somehow seemed soothing to me. I let the tiny robot come over and put something on my ear. I was curious and tried to scratch it but then the robotic voice spoke again but this time I could understand it.
It was saying, “Do not scratch, Henry. It’s okay, it just will make you understand me. Henry listen, I am not trying to hurt you. I just have something important to tell you. So we will go for a walk together and I will talk to you,” he said. “That is why we will walk in the forest where no trail has been made. We will make our own. Don’t worry, Henry, I won’t let anybody hurt you. Come on”.
I knew then that he was the Robotinater because I saw his nametag! I knew it was a nametag because Ida told me once after she got home from camp. Hmmm, wouldn’t it be cool if I could have one too? Maybe I can ask the Robotinater and maybe mine will have “Henry” on it because his has “The Robotinater” on it, and that is who he is. So I’m pretty sure mine will say “Henry.”
Anyway, I can’t believe this is actually happening, I thought. Wow, I was actually going for a walk with the Robotinater! Wonder what he has to tell me, I thought as I followed the Robotinater out the door.
“Come on, Henry,” said the Robotinater leading me through a route into the trees I had never seen or noticed before when I went on walks with Ida, Anne, Melissa and Maria. It was either all of the girls who usually took me for a walk or just Ida and her mom. “This is a secret route blocked off in the day. I made it just for you and me. It leads deep into the forest where nobody will hear us,” the Robotinater explained.
“Henry! Henry! We are here!”
I suddenly became aware of my surroundings. There were lush green ferns and nice soft patches of grass to lie in. There was also damp moss the Robotinater said I could drink from. I tore up a mouthful and carried it to one of the patches of grass and settled down to drink it while the Robotinater told me his story.
“Ah, yes…now there is a tale to be told. Let me tell you, yes. So only I know how I was created,” said the Robotinater. “Once there was an old pile of wrenches and computers and other stuff you would use to build a robot that could move and talk. Kind of like the kit Ida’s father gave her, yes? Oh well, a little bit different. But then one day you see there was a terrible storm and with it came a tornado. The tornado swept up the pieces of old computers and tools and swirled them together. And then that was me! That was the story of how I was created. I know you might not believe it at first, but it’s true Henry. It’s a true story. Now, have you finished your water? There is something I have to show you. Come on, Henry, don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”
I decided to believe him because he had been nice to me. I followed the Robotinater through damp tall reeds and marshy areas to where there were some small ponds nearby that he used to clean my paws. After walking through the marshes, I spotted a cave. It was not an ordinary cave, though. It had a mechanical door and a code pad. The Robotinater typed in a code on the pad and the doors opened, revealing bright light in a cave with shelves worked into the rock walls and hangers on bars on the roof of the cave.
To my surprise once my eyes got used to the light, I saw missing inventions! And some of them were actually the girls’ inventions too, and some were broken apart and placed on a table in the center of the cave. It had many tools on it and I guessed it was the Robotinater’s work table. There were also boxes of nails and hammer, wrenches and tools propped up on shelves. But there was one shelf that caught my eye. It was way in the back and filled with cupcakes.
Where would he get cupcakes? Just then a horrible thought crossed my mind. What if the Robotinater stole those from the girls’ inventions? I knew they had a robot that made treats. So where else would he get cupcakes?
“Welcome to my base, my S.R.S.D. That stands for Secret Robot Storage Device. I store my stuff here. I also do my work here like building new inventions on that table in the middle. I know it might seem cruel to steal people’s inventions, but I’m just jealous and it just makes it worse if I shut the feelings inside. Will you help me, Henry, please?”
There was a deep sadness in his voice.
“Yes,” I barked, “I promise to help you all I can. You are the Robotinater, but I believe you. I can feel your sadness and I can’t ignore that. I’ve experienced how you feel right now, like the time a dog had a bone. It was my favorite kind, but I could not have it. My jealousy took over and I ran over and stole the dog’s bone. Everybody was mad and the dog I stole it from was whimpering. But then I realized how much it meant to the dog as well as me so I walked back over and gave back the bone. The dog realized why I stole it, but then because of that we became good friends. I think that what you should do is give back what you stole and say sorry. Then explain how you feel.”
The Robotinater sighed. “You are right, Henry. Will you tell the girls for me? I want them to be prepared to see me”.
“Of course,” I barked, “let’s go back to the house. The girls will be home soon”.
The girls came home from school, and they walked into the backyard and gasped when they saw the Robotinater sitting next to me. I looked at them and barked.
“Go away, Robotinater!” shouted Melissa, but then I went over to them holding some earpieces. I dropped the earpieces, then touched them with my paw, and then touched my ear as a signal for the girls to put it in their ears. They shrugged and then attached the earpieces in their ears.
I barked, “The Robotinater is not mean!” To their amazement, they could understand me!
I was saying, “Listen, the Robotinater is not evil!” I told them all about the Robotinater, where he lived, and his feelings of jealousy. Now, I could feel that the girls understood and then the Robotinater said, “I’m sorry. Can we be friends?”
“Of course, and we understand,” said Ida and the girls. “We’re glad you told Henry to tell us!”
The Robotinater and the girls talked for what seemed like hours. However, I am a dog so I am not that good with time. Anyway, it was quite interesting since they were talking about a dog biscuits dispenser. I managed to finally get the idea through because of the earpiece! The girls had brought out some of their inventions for the Robotinater to see. The Robotinater admired their cleverness, especially with the Chores Robot and the Toothbrushing robot.
Then the Robotinater took a deep breath and said, “I am sorry for stealing your inventions. I just feel like you are better than me, and I guess I got jealous.”
“It was wrong,” said Ida. “But I think you can make it up to us if you just help us build some more.”
“I would love that!” said the Robotinater. “I would offer also to share with you some of the things I have learned from your inventions. I have studied them and realized that you can combine them to make a large robot that is even more incredible than all of them by themselves as single robots.”
“That sounds great, but what about the Toothbrushing robots?” asked Ida.
“Well, I figured out a way to make holders for them that will keep them clean and also you can store the liquid cleaner there too,” the Robotinater said.
Just then, Maria spoke up. “I think it sounds like a great idea. Come back tomorrow afternoon and we will tell our neighbors not to worry.”
And we were friends with the Robotinater from then on.
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