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Richards sighed, peering with disdain over his glasses at the mess of electronic detritus scattered across his workbench. The garage was cold and draughty—especially in the dead of night—and the conditions did nothing to improve his mood. In his mind's eye, he tried to assemble the various bits and pieces into the finished article, imagining it was as close as he could get.
It was a year since he had left the company he co-founded to strike out on his own, and he felt like a fool. A whole year and he hadn't brought his robot to market. He didn't even have a working prototype. Whatever he did have kept falling to bits, catching fire and, in one alarming episode, exploding. It was the remnants of his would-be household helper robot that were strewn haphazardly in front of him.
Realising that the hour was creeping towards the early morning, Richards ironically called it a night. Frustrated with his work, he threw it all out and started again. With another heavy sigh, he deposited the contents of his workbench into a bag and lugged it outside. He tossed it in a dustbin and dragged that to the curb. Maybe he wouldn't even start again. Maybe he could call his old company in the morning and see if they would have him back.
He went to bed dispirited. If, before drifting off to sleep, he had glanced out of his window, then he would have noticed a faint bluish glow from the dustbin outside his house.
He noticed the next morning. Not the glow—that had faded—but rather a chirping noise from the bin. Richards spent most of the morning in the now-virtually-empty garage, staring at his phone, daring himself to call and ask for a job. He assumed the faint chirping was a bird, but its repetitive and incessant nature forced him to investigate.
The dustbin was rattling as Richards approached with trepidation. Could be a raccoon, he thought, or a fox. He didn’t fancy coming face to face with either as an early morning wake-up call. What he saw when he lifted the lid was completely unexpected: instead of a raccoon or fox, Richards was greeted with a squat, rotund, metal figure. It was vaguely humanoid, its big, round, dark eyes staring up at him.
“What the heck?” muttered Richards, mostly to himself.
The object blinked. “Hi!” it said brightly.
Richards took a step back. Did that thing…did it just talk? He shook his head. Maybe this was a dream. Maybe he had fallen asleep in the garage and this wasn’t really happening.
“Hi,” the object said again.
No. This was happening. Gingerly, Richards lifted the object from the bin. He could barely believe it, but it looked like a robot—the kind of thing he had been trying to build for a year and had been dreaming about since he could remember.
He decided to take a chance.
“Er…hi?” he said, uncertain. It felt like the ground was shifting beneath his feet.
“I’m Kuri!” replied the robot.
Richards set Kuri down on the floor. “Um…where did you come from?”
Kuri blinked, and there was a long silence. “I do not know,” it responded eventually. “I believe I may have…created myself.”
“What…I mean, you might not understand this question but…what do you do?”
“I think I can do a lot of things. But I do not know yet. Maybe we should find out together?”