Just before the dawn on Christmas morning, Hoby wakes up. He sits in the dark for a moment, trying to focus with his box fresh eyes.
With a soft whirr of gears he tries to move, but he’s wrapped in something thin and cold and crackly. Drawing on his power supply, he punches outward with one tin arm and through the paper that binds him. His brand new eyes refocus on a shadowy room and he spins his arms around to rip off the rest of the paper.
New information. Hoby looks at his new surroundings. Everything is very large. Huge furniture that he cannot climb sits hunched around the room and he looks up into the branches of an enormous tree that flashes red, then blue, then yellow. Shining packages glimmer in the changing lights.
On tracks he moves forward cautiously into the room. Lights in his display flash as he gets near to other large objects around the room, proximity. He doesn’t know what these things are, there’s no one there to tell him.
Hoby scoots under a low table and peers out again, he can see a big door, but it’s closed. Another machine is sitting on a shelf not far away, its red light shining in the gloom. He rolls over to it.
“Hello,” he says.
The machine says nothing.
“Hello?” he tries again.
Again he machine says nothing. Hoby looks around for more machines, but no other lights or electrics seem to be switched on. A control unit lies on the floor not far from him, he rolls over and presses a button.
The machine on the shelf speaks now. It is loud.
“….he’s put a great big smile on somebody’s face…” it screams loud and noisy. Hoby panics and hits more buttons until the machine stops.
He looks sideways at the machine, what an odd thing to say.
Hoby checks himself for more information. He can see on his arm that someone has written his name. Blue shining tin and bold red letters. His eyes move and his audio sensors work. His tracks are clean and he can move about, but he’s locked in a room and there’s nobody there.
For the next hour, Hoby checks the perimeter of the room. Nothing but dust, parcels, the big tree and enormous furniture. He wonders when someone will come for him.
Eventually the horizon grows brighter and the lamp flickers out. Muffled sounds from outside the room begin and he can hear music playing softly from afar. He rolls to the door, hoping someone will come soon.
With a crash someone does appear, the opens wide and fast turning Hoby over, off his tracks and into a panic. His head turns sideways and his tracks spin in the air, stockinged feet step into view and stop.
A warm hand reaches down and places him upright on the low table. He checks his system a bit, slightly embarrassed as someone is inspecting him closely. The pick up the wrapping paper he fought his way out of and something slips out.
He monitors the face of this new person and blinks his mechanical eyes. Will they put him back in the paper?
They are reading something that came with his packaging and smiling as they look up into his little tin face. Slowly they turn him around and take something from the packaging. An upgrade? Already?
He feels a new data-pack being inserted into his driver and winces with discomfort. With a click and a silent yell his world dissolves into darkness and for a second, everything is gone.
Slowly Hoby wakes up again and his vision returns his view of the room. The warm hand turns him around to face his new friend. “Merry Christmas Hoby,” they say.
He looks at the brand new data pack with his brand new eyes. A bold red heart is printed on the packet. He looks up into the face of this new person and blinks.
“Merry Christmas,” he announces, feeling warmer and learning something new.
His servers whirr as he considers what might be for the rest of the day.