Edward looked askance at Cratchett, frowning slightly while he half-smiled. “Of course I did; do you think I want him to set his dogs on me?”
The old man chuckled. “No, and I suppose you wanted to make sure he would keep the junk yard open…”
“…and make sure nobody took the robot.”
The pair meandered through the winding avenues between the towering hills of scrap, until finally the boy stopped at one hill in particular. It had clearly been disturbed, for some of the junk had fallen onto the pathway.
“It’s this one!” Edward exclaimed, scampering up over the metal detritus. “Come on!”
“Steady on boy, we don’t want to cause ourselves an injury do we?”
Edward slowed down, remembering the accident in which he’d nearly been buried by junk earlier that day. He stopped when he arrived just below the peak, and waited for his elderly mentor to catch up.
“Alright young man” grunted Cratchett as he huffed and puffed his way to where Edward stood, “let’s have a look at this contraption you’ve found.”
Edward crouched down and brushed some of the dirt and rubbish away from what looked like a small metal dome, then he ran his fingers down the sides and began to wiggle the object to loosen it.
“Careful boy, careful, easy does it, that’s right, easy…” said Cratchett encouragingly.
Before long Edward had managed to loosen the object enough to gingerly lift it out of the nest of scrap metal and dross. It resembled a human head, with oval eyes and curved lips. Edward felt something cold and wet against the fingers of one hand and, holding the head in the other hand he looked at his skin and saw it was moist and glistening. He rubbed his thumb against his forefinger. “It’s like some sort of jelly” he said, frowning and pursing his lips. “Maybe its leaking.”
“May I?” asked Cratchett, gesturing to the object; Edward nodded and handed it to him. The old man turned it this way and that, peering at it carefully. He held up his fingers to his nose and sniffed, then frowned and stared at the substance as he rubbed at it as Edward had done. Suddenly his eyes widened and jaw slackened; he shot a glance at the boy and then back to the object, then turned his attention to the boy again. “My boy! Do you know what this is?”
“Jelly? Slime? I don’t know. Is the robot broken?”
“Noǃ Yes! Maybe! Do you smell that? This isn’t just jelly; it’s a superconducting polygraphene alloy, in gel form!”
Edward frowned, glanced at the robot head, then back up at his friend and raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t you see my boy?” Cratchett asked, beaming. “It’s the robot’s brains!”