Once Upon a Robot Competition Winner

Lenny Lifts Christmas

by Emily Potter, aged 9

As the hustle and bustle of Christmas Eve in central London was in full swing, and giant freezing hailstones banged on the window loudly, Maddie relaxed back into her cosy chair and switched off the drone that had just put the star on top of her Christmas Tree. “Decorations done for another year, Old Tom,” said Maddie to her rather large black cat as he curled up for an afternoon on her lap. “Just the final bits of shopping to do now”.

Maddie placed her virtual reality shopping goggles carefully on the tip of her little nose. “One more packet of fresh ginger snaps, please. Can you reach those ones at the back?” said Maddie to Lifting Lenny model 470, her helpful shopping robot.

Although at the ripe old age of 125, Maddie liked the help that robots gave her, she still missed the sights and smells of browsing the jam-packed shopping aisles at Christmas. She thought about going shopping when she was growing up. Smelling the delicious puddings and pies and the wonderful scent of pine trees and tinsel as her family stocked up with festive treats and delights.

In 2041, you see more robots than people and you don’t really need to leave the house if you don’t want to. Robots help with all sorts of jobs and errands. Everything from telling you jokes, playing games with you, reading, shopping, cleaning, driving, gardening and even homework!

“Sorry Lenny, I was day dreaming there for a moment, that’s everything, thank you”.

“You’re welcome, Miss Maddie. Your drone drop will occur at 15:00 today,” said Lenny. Lenny is busy at the Human Fuelling Centre, Fuel2Go, picking, packing and delivering shopping. He’s a super shifter and can lift anything in the fuelling centre on only three charges a day.

Lenny has loads of loyal customers, including his absolute favourite, Maddie, who lives alone with her cat. Another one of Lenny’s favourite customers is the jolly and noisy Courteener family (except Mr Courteener who never says a word). There is 14 of them! They munch their way through mountains of fuel each week which Lenny just about manages to lift and deliver but always needs a charge afterwards!

It was a good day today because Lenny had shopped for both Maddie and the Courteeners.

Sure enough, at 15:00, Maddie heard the delivery drone sending her shopping down the chute. “Christmas is finally sorted!” she said happily to Old Tom as she heard the cupboards closing after the sorter had finished unpacking. “Now, how about you have an early Christmas treat? I will feed you tonight, instead of Percy Pet Feeder 2000, and you can have some of that freeze-dried tuna you love!”.

As Maddie opened the cupboard, she couldn’t believe her eyes. They were brimming with all kinds of food, drink, candles and Christmas decorations. Something wasn’t right. She asked Comet, her home communications system, to contact Lenny.

“Oh dear,” said Lenny in a disappointed voice. “The huge hailstones and the massive Courteener order must have upset my data system. I’ve accidentally swapped your drone drop data with the Courteeners’ order – what a mess! I’ll come to collect it and sort it out.”

No wonder Maddie’s fridge, freezer, cupboards, shed, garage, bookcases, drawers, bedside tables, flower pots, vases, airing cupboard and wardrobes were full to bursting with Christmas-themed fuel! Meanwhile, the poor Courteeners only had a single box of fuel – and half of that was for Old Tom! The Courteener children’s screams could be heard for miles around!

Lenny flew to Maddie’s house to swap the orders. When he arrived at the Courteeners’ house they were enormously relieved to get their order but wanted to know more about the person who had ordered so little fuel for Christmas. Lenny told them all about his kindly friend, Maddie, living on her own with Old Tom. The Courteeners thought it would be lovely for Maddie, Lenny and Old Tom to join them for Christmas lunch the following day. Lenny and the family sent a video invitation to Maddie.

As Lenny and the Courteener family appeared on her screen, Maddie was delighted to see that they had their Christmas order and with her offer of company on Christmas Day.

On Christmas morning, when Lenny, Maddie and Old Tom arrived at the Courteener’s, Lenny set to work, lifting three dining room tables to fit 16 people (plus one cat). Mr Courteener, who Lenny had never heard speak before, said cheerfully, “Merry Christmas!” and everyone – although a bit surprised to hear Mr Courteener speak – toasted with their drinks.

Everyone had so much fun that it became a Christmas tradition. Maddie and Old Tom never had a lonely Christmas ever again. And neither did Lifting Lenny 470.

Illustrations by Hana Ayoob