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Bobo
A novella by Chester Burton 'Cheeseburger' Brown
CHAPTERS
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Bobo, a novella by C. B. Brown; illustrations by Matthew Hemming.

CHAPTER 25

Bobo stood in the middle of the recreation room's stained carpet, alone.

His white carapace pieces shuddered against each other slightly as his systems spun up to speed. The vibration faded. Bobo executed a standard hardware diagnostic series, then looked around.

Birds chirped. Sun streamed in through the windows. Specks of dust glimmered in the beams. The covers on the sofas were very clean, and the colours of their designs were bright and even. A clock ticked languidly on the wall.

Bobo heard a noise behind him. He rotated on heel, raising his hands defensively.

An old woman was seated in a wheelchair by the window. Her gnarled hands held a pair of half defined mittens. The tips of her knitting needles shook. She looked up at Bobo and smiled toothlessly.

Bobo tilted his head. He heard himself say, "Is there anything I can get for you?"

"Aren't you a darling, Bobo," said the resident, laying her knitting in her lap. "If it isn't too much trouble I'd like some ice flakes to suck on."

"Madam, certainly," said Bobo.

He walked out of the recreation room. In the corridor he met a fellow shuffling to the washroom with a walker, so Bobo stopped to help him along. "Maybe you could help me outside to the garden after my lunch?" he asked Bobo hopefully.

"Sir, it would be my pleasure," said Bobo.

The garden was very beautiful. It was spring. Many residents were seated on benches around a pond filled with small yellow ducklings. It made Bobo feel optimal to be able to supply them with fresh crusts of bread for breaking up and throwing into the water, and also to bring glasses of cold water and hot tea or an extra sweater, and to read the very small printing on things, or to adjust the position and angles of their chairs and pillows and artificial limbs.

The garden was larger than he had remembered it. In fact, the property of the home seemed to go on forever. One day while strolling with two sisters who liked to squabble about crossword answers Bobo hit an invisible wall just north of the duck pond. He fell down.

"Gracious, Bobo!"

"Are you alright, sweetheart?"

Bobo explored the invisible wall with his palms. He could see the woods extending before him, but he could not pass through the barrier. He followed it west where it met another invisible wall standing at precisely ninety degrees. With methodical mapping he was able to ascertain that the home was situated at the geometric centre of a square exactly one kilometer to a side.

Sometimes Bobo asked what had happened to so dramatically delimit the spatial extent of the universe, but whenever he brought it up the residents asked him to rub their feet. Bobo loved rubbing feet.

Delivery vans delivered bath salts, rice pudding and canned prunes. Hearses retrieved the dead. Now and again police cruisers swooped in to drop off a resident who had wandered off and become confused. None of the vehicles ever had much of anything to say to Bobo, but Bobo was always polite with them anyway.

Bobo could not remember how he had returned to the home, or how long it had been since some other things and stuff had happened. He felt that there was a certain amount of corruption in his memory address space, and made a note to give himself a tune up. His time stamps were all screwed up, too. "Bobo, can you help me with my crossword? Ever since my sister passed I can never solve the horizontals."

"Madam, of course."

Bobo looked at the puzzle. The clue asked the player to solve a cumbersome series of differential equations whose output yielded the key for decrypting the pattern underlying a multi-axis irrational number set distorted by an unknown attractor; the answer would be a nine dimensional description of the attractor. "Right here," said the resident helpfully, "Twelve across. The answer should be nine hundred and four letters long, and the three hundredth letter has to be the square of the speed of light, or else I'm wrong here on sixteen down."

Crossword puzzles were also more challenging than he had remembered. He reasoned that perhaps the residents had significantly advanced their skills during his absence. Which was good, because keeping busy was important. Bobo nodded to the resident. "I get the same answer for sixteen down," he confirmed.

"Well, I'm just stumped."

"Let me see what I can do," offered Bobo, taking the pencil from her liverspotted hand. "Your mineral salts bath is ready."

"What would we do without you, Bobo?" asked the resident, groaning as she lifted her arms so he could slip off her sweater.

Bobo blinked. He had been lost for a moment looking at the crossword puzzle...

"There, there," he said as he turned back to her and starting tugging ever so gently on the sweater. "Tell me about your grandchildren."


Fin.


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