Just how long has Rusty the drone been at the school? How many years have the children been teasing him for? And what was he before?
Maybe even Rusty doesn’t know the answer to those questions… but if you read this story you will!
Grab the story on your phone, tablet, or eReader by clicking here, or start reading it below.
(c) 2016 Simon Goodson.
Toby moved through the playground carefully, following his friend Adam. Both were eight years old and had just made the move from infant school to junior. The playground seemed to be packed with older children, all of them running, shouting, playing complicated games. Adam and Toby hung around the edges, studying it all with wide-eyed wonder.
They moved past a cluster of children, boys and girls, all wrestling each other to try and reach a small floating ball. It seemed the wrestling was more interesting than actually grabbing it, the contests of strength and skill kept forming and dissolving without anyone making a serious attempt to reach the ball.
Toby turned as he heard shouting and laughter from behind him. Through a gap between two buildings he saw half a dozen children surrounding… something. He grabbed Adam’s arm to get his attention and the two of them moved a little closer.
“Is that a drone?” asked Adam.
“I don’t know!” replied Toby.
“It’s floating and moving, and I guess it has arms… six of them… but… well, it’s just a pile of old rubbish!”
Toby just nodded. The drone, if that’s what it really was, was nothing like any other he’d seen. Drones were a common sight, whether they were helping control traffic, carrying out mechanical work or simply running errands. But they were normally small, barely as tall as he was, and they hovered easily. This one was bobbing unevenly, tilting to one side, and as Adam had said it seemed to be made entirely of old junk.
The older children were surrounding the drone, darting in and out towards it, though Toby couldn’t see why. As they did they taunted the drone, calling it old, slow, rubbish and other witticisms which they thought were hilarious. One word kept coming through… Rusty. It seemed to be the drone’s name, and it would certainly be a good fit.
“I don’t like this,” said Toby. “They’re upsetting it.”
“It’s just a drone!”
“So? Drones still have feelings.”
“Not that one! It looks like something will fall off at any moment. See! I told you so!”
The arm hadn’t actually fallen off. One of the children had broken it off, and now all of them sprinted away, laughing as they went. The drone followed, but its movements were slow and jerky. The children easily ran ahead then started throwing the arm between them, making the poor drone chase toward whoever had the arm but then shifting it on before it could get close.
Adam laughed at the sight, but Toby stood with his arms crossed and his lips pressed together. This was wrong. He knew that, he felt it deeply, yet he couldn’t find the courage to speak up for the drone. He wanted to step forward and tell the older children off, but the words lodged in his chest so he stood there immobile and upset.