“Come, David. It’s not safe.” Meltec beckoned to the young charge that lagged behind him, toddling toward humans that had been set to planting flowers in the public park. “You should never talk to humans you don’t know. Unlike droids and bots, humans do not have software control algorithms. There is no guarantee of your safety.”
“What do you mean,” asked David as he hurried back to Meltec’s side. The backpack holding his lunch bounced on his shoulders. The four-year-old was insatiably curious, especially about other humans. Meltec always tried to provide complete answers.
“It’s simply that you cannot know how a human will react in certain situations. Some humans go feral. Some are very dangerous.” Meltec glanced down as David reached up to take his hand. Meltec’s metallic fingers automatically adjusted to a precise grip. “Do you remember the dog that chased you three weeks ago?” he asked.
“He ripped my pants.”
“That’s right. Even with his owner there, even though he was trained, he was unpredictable and you were almost hurt.”
David considered as they walked. “That dog was hungry,” he finally said. “He needed to eat.”
“Yes,” said Meltec. “But we didn’t know that until after he knocked you down.”
“But if I gave him a treat, he would not have hurt me.”
“Maybe. But it’s impossible to know for sure. It was still dangerous.”
Eyebrows were pulled down and in as David thought. “Dogs can be dangerous,” he said.
“That’s right,” said Meltec.
“Humans can be dangerous, too.”
“Yes, they can.”
“I’m human. Am I dangerous?” David stopped walking and pulled his hand free to look up at Meltec.
“No,” said Meltec. “You are different.”
“Why?” The little boy had a look on his face that Meltec couldn’t interpret.
Meltec sqatted. “Most humans grown to be full-sized then have memories and skills implanted.” He tapped lightly on David’s chest. “You have grown up with me and I am teaching you the right kind of behavior.”
“You are not dangerous,” said David. “You are nice to me.” He thought a moment longer before a smile exploded across his face. “And you give me cookies,” he squealed.
The pair resumed their stroll through the park, a favorite activity when Meltec had no programming scheduled. Meltec recognized that David was still deep in thought. Sometimes humans took a very long time to process information.
As they crossed a footbridge over a stream, David abruptly began running without warning. Meltec was not created for speed, so it took several moments for him to turn to follow the boy. He calculated the trajectory the four-year-old was taking, and proceeded to follow him in short order.
When he reached the boy’s location, David was squatted down near a gardener, his backpack open in front of him. “David,” said Meltec, “why did you run away? What are you doing?”
David looked up at Meltec with a smile that covered his whole face. “I gave him cookies!”
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