“…Not cloudy all daaay!” Magnolia DuMont had just sung Home on the Range for the 6,845,357th time. She’d been walking for what felt like days. “I wish I had my souped-up unicycle,” she thought. “Maybe I can stop, just for a second.” There was a clearing, with a tree just right for resting under. Having spent much of her time in the woods by her house, Magnolia was something of an expert on the different varieties of tree. She didn’t know their official names, but she knew which ones were good for climbing in, which ones dropped the perfect walking sticks, which ones produced crabapples, and which ones were just right for resting under. “I’ll just take a little break. Five minutes or so,” she said, placing her hat over her eyes and falling asleep instantly.

She dreamed of all the adventures she hoped to have now she was on her own. Swinging across ravines. Holding on to horses speeding down mountains. Hog-tying bank robbers. Mayors and teachers and men in monocles handing gigantic checks and banana splits and bouquets of strawberries and gummy candies. Then the sun went supernova and it all disappeared.

It took a moment for Magnolia to realize she was awake, and then where she was, and then what was hovering over her. When her eyes focused, and her brain unmuddled, she was still stymied by the metallic figure that was now inching slowly away. “Hey, there, rust bucket. Ya mind giving a cowgirl back her hat?”

The robot (R-Thrrr, as if you didn’t know) was clutching her hat in his pincer hands. He had forgotten, as his anxiety functions kicked in as soon as Magnolia woke up. “I-I-I-I-” he stuttered. As he back further away, he smacked into a tree, which conked the stutter out. “I was just making sure you weren’t dead.”

“Nah, there’s tons o’ life in me. Magnolia DuMont, but if you’re friendly you can call me Maggie. If you want trouble, you can call me Mags.” She extended her hand. R-Thrr recoiled, as if it were lit dynamite. “It don’t bite,” she assured.

“I am R-Thrrr. My creator programmed me to protect and serve. I’m part handyman, part thug.”


“He was not a good inventor, so no. He left me to survive on my own. It’s the worst thing that’s happened to me since he turned me on.”

“Well sir, you’re luck is about to turn around. Why don’t you come with me?”

R-Thrrr was skeptical. “Join you where?”

Magnolia shrugged. “Not sure yet. Guess we’ll find out together.” This agreement was interrupted by loud thunk and fierce thrashing in a nearby group of shrubs. “Come on, R-Thrrr. Let’s check it out.”

R-Thrrr was more skeptical than ever.

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