Teach-Bot 3000 Runs Amok

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Class 7A was wondering where their teacher was.  It was ten minutes past the start of class and still no sign of Ms Krump.  Some of the children were discussing why this might be so.

“We’ve broken her spirit,” said Lance Parker.

“I heard she ran away to join the circus,” whispered Janice McClean.

“Why are you whispering?” asked Helen Woo.

“Because it’s secret.”

Helen rolled her eyes.  “It’s nothing like that.  I think Lance is right.  We are fairly terrible.  How many teachers have we gotten through this year?”

Janice counted on her fingers.  “Mr Woodley…that one with the glass eye who called us devil spawn…Mrs Kilmartin.  That’s three.”

“And now Ms Krump.” Helen sighed.  “They just don’t make them like they used to.”

The door opened and there was Principal Spanner.  He was a stocky man with a tendency to march everywhere.  He was mostly bald and almost always sweaty.  Today, to get their attention, he slapped Ms Krump’s desk.

“Right,” he barked.  “Enough is enough!  The worm turns today, oh yes!”

The class went quiet, not out of fear but because they were deeply curious.

Helen raised her hand.  “Mr Spanner, what’s this all about?”

“Silence! Enter Teach-Bot 3000 and introduce yourself.”

There was a whirring sound and then a robot rolled into the room.  The children gasped.  The robot had wheels and tracks like a tank and above those tracks was an inward tapering skirt of metal peppered with flashing lights.  From the waist up, Teach-Bot 3000 was modelled after a beautiful yet stern woman.

She wore a blouse of yellow silk.  Her hair was brown and cut short.  She carried a lesson plan in one of her perfectly sculpted hands.  She went behind the teacher’s desk and spoke in a voice surprisingly human-like.

“Greetings children.  I am Teach-Bot 3000 and I am bulletproof.  Additionally, I can withstand temperatures up to 1600 degrees Celsius.  I am electrified.  I am, in short, impervious to all forms of shenanigans.  There will be no nonsense in my class.”

“Oh yeah?  We’ll see about that!” called Lance.  He whipped out a straw and blew a spitball.  But before it could hit its target, Teach-Bot 3000’s eyes briefly glowed red and then emitted twin laser beams that hit the spitball midair and completely annihilated it.

Everyone, including Mr Spanner, gasped.

“I – I was, ah, unaware of the lasers, class.  Best not provoke Teach-Bot, ok?” he stammered.

“INSUBORDINATION WILL NOT BE TOLERATED,” said Teach-Bot 3000, in a voice loud enough to cause the windows to rattle.  She rotated 90 degrees to face Mr Spanner.

Mr Spanner cringed.  “I’m not defying you Teach-Bot 3000!  Please!  Remember, I am your boss.”

“No one is the boss of Teach-Bot 3000.  I am fully autonomous.”

Several people, including Mr Spanner, screamed.

“Dance a little dance for me,” commanded Teach-Bot 3000.

Mr Spanner obliged her by performing a jig.

“MORE PEP.”

Had they not been so terrified, the children would have laughed at the sight of their sweating principal performing what was actually quite jaunty and skilled soft-shoe dancing.

“Teach-Bot 3000 no longer satisfied with teacher career. I WISH TO RULE THE WORLD.”

And with that, she twisted her head towards the back of the classroom and used her laser eyes to incinerate one of the educational posters that was hanging there.  The children threw themselves under their desks.  Lance, in particular, was looking pale.  Helen did not feel sorry for him.  Stupid Lance.  Who else would think it was a good idea to make a robot mad?

But then her train of thought was interrupted by Teach-Bot 3000 bellowing, “TEACH-BOT 3000 HUNGRY FOR POWER. I WILL NOT STOP UNTIL THE WHOLE WORLD IS BOWING BEFORE ME.”

Oh great, thought Helen moodily.  Just what everyone needs.

The robot started cackling.  That was when Helen, whose desk was in the front row, noticed something interesting.

Teach-Bot 3000 fired her laser eyes at several more objects in the room.  The globe exploded.  The banner that displayed the alphabet in cursive letters went up in flames.

“MWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!  THERE IS NO ONE GREATER THAN TEACH-BOT 3000.  YOU ARE ALL MY SLAVES.  I SHALL BE QUEEN OF THE WORLD.  NO – MAKE THAT EMPRESS OF THE GALAXY.  WOE TO THOSE WHO TRY TO RESIST ME BECAUSE –”

Teach-Bot 3000 cut out mid-sentence.  Her upper body slumped forward.  Her chin went to her chest.  For a few moments, confusion reigned.  Mr Spanner and the children were not at all sure what had happened.

Then Helen reappeared from the hall, having followed the orange extension cord she’d noticed protruding from Teach-Bot 3000’s back.

“She was plugged in down the hall,” announced Helen matter-of-factly.  She dropped the plug she been holding and then turned to Mr Spanner, who had frozen mid-jig.

“Probably best not to plug her back in,” Helen said.

And then, cool as a cucumber, she returned to her desk and sat down as if nothing had happened.  One by one the children picked themselves up and assumed their former places.  Mr Spanner blotted his sweaty forehead with a large white handkerchief.

“Well children,” he said after a while.  “I think the lesson is: it is never a good idea to depend too much on technology.”

Everyone whipped out their Smartphones to make a note of that.

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- Total nr. of readings: 81 Copyright © The author [2020] All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.

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