Gunnar Capewave fights the Robot Bulls
Summary
Gunnar Capewave in the youngest expert matador of his day, but when the robot bulls come to earth he faces his most difficult challenge yet!
Story
Before the robots came, Gunnar only fought real bulls. He was a child prodigy, they said. The youngest bullfighter ever to vanquish a bull from the Rodriguez-Garcia stables. He was seven when he did it. They called him the Matador Maravilla.

But then the robots came, from who knows what planet. They exited the space ships and made robots lookalikes of every type of animal they found. And when left, they took all of the robot animals with them. Well, all except one type of animal. The bulls. The bulls were too wild and unruly, and they tore the spaceships apart. So they abandoned them on earth and left it to the humans to try and solve the problem.

A robot bull is like a regular bull. It has red eyes, huge nostrils that blow hot vapor, slabs of rippling muscles piled high, and two razor-sharp horns perched like daggers on the crown of its hulking head.

But robot bulls are also different. When a real life bull chases you, it eventually gets tired and stops to rest. But robot bulls never tire and never rest. They just run, and wreck, and destroy, all day and night.

But all the great, old matadors did not know this at first.

These great, old matadors - the wily ones who knew all the tricks - had tried to beat them by tiring them out. They would lure them into a bullfighting ring and have them charge their capes over and over and over.

But no robot bull had ever slowed down. And so all the great, old matadors failed. They escaped with their lives, but just barely. Because just like real bulls get angrier and angrier when they charge the red cape over and over but don’t hit it, it’s the same with the robot bulls. When a robot bull realized that a great, old matador was responsible for the cape moving away from its horns at the last minute, it turned twice as violent and refused to rest until it gored the great, old matador. So the great, old matadors had to leave the country and fly to a deserted island, where they grew old.

The bulls could not enter the water, not without rusting out eventually, so the ocean protected the great, old matadors.

But the robot bulls never stopped looking for them, hunting for them.

Pretty soon, there were no more great, old matadors left to fight the bulls. Just herds and herds of robot bulls, all twice as angry and violent as they’d ever been, terrorizing the population.

Gunnar Capewave was now ten years old, and he was in trouble. As he clung to branches high in the holm oak tree the grew in his front yard, a bull repeatedly charged and battered the trunk below.

And I haven’t even fought one yet, he thought. What will they do once they really want to get me.

He heard a whistle and his heard sank.

I told you not to leave the house! he thought.

The bull turned and charged off toward Gunnar’s front porch.

Gunnar saw his younger sister, Brixy, running away, the bull closing in on her. She reached the front door and slammed it shut. The bull barrelled into it, but the door didn’t budge.

Everyone in the neighborhood now had steel doors, reinforced with concrete. But the bull kept battering the door. It would retreat into the front yard, paw at the lawn(tearing out big clumps of grass and dirt), then launch itself for another attack. It was just preparing itself for its tenth attack when the sprinklers came on. The bull shook off the water, but as the sprinkler water kept coming, it annoyed the bull, and off it trotted.

Gunnar went into the house and sat at the table. His mom put a sandwich down in front of him.

“I told you not to play with those robot bulls,” said his mother, matter-of-factly.

Years of having watched Gunnar fight bulls without ever receiving a scratch had taught her two things - one, not to worry too much about him and two, nothing she said would change his passion for fighting robot bulls. So she wasn’t too upset about the treeing he had just suffered.

“We could beat these bulls if we could just get them wet for enough time,” Gunnar said.

“It’s impossible,” said Brixy. “We’ve tried everything. They won’t go near the water and nothing is strong enough to get shove them in it if they did.”

“Gunnar, it’s your turn to wash the dishes,” said Mom.

He cleared the table and filled the sink the with water. He finished washing the dishes and pulled the plug to let the water drain. Suddenly, his eyes widened and his face lit up.

“I have an idea!” he said. “But it will take a lot of work. I’m going down to the bullring at the plaza. Mom, please tell dad to come down there when he gets home from work.”

“What’s your idea?” asked Brixy

“Come with me and help. I’ll tell you on the way!”

When dad arrived at the bullring Gunnar was measuring the ground with a long tape measure.

Gunnar seemed to be in a trance as he paced around the ring measuring, nodding his head, and muttering to himself, “We’ll dig it here. The bull will run this way, I will lead it here, then there, then right when he reaches here he will be really mad. He will charge through my cape, stand over this spot, we’ll open the trap door it and …. YES, IT’S GOING TO WORK! DAD IT’S GOING TO WORK!”

“What will work?” said his father.

“I was doing the dishes today and when I unplugged the drain it occurred to me, we haven’t been able to get the bulls near the water because they know the water is there. But what if we dug a deep hole, and at the bottom of that, dug a deep pool and filled it with water? We’ll put a trap door over it all, and cover it with dirt. We lure the bull to the bullring, where I will fight it. It will be so angry and focused on me that it won’t even be able to sense or smell the water. I can guide it over the trap door and then - bam! - we spring it, the bull falls deep into the hole, into the water, where it eventually gets rusty and stops working.”

“You know,” said his father, “That’s ingenious. In fact, it might even be a better idea than you realize. One of the engineers in my construction company said that if you got them into deep water long enough, their electrical circuitry would actually go out before they’d even rust, even within just a day or so.”

His father seemed to think this over.

“The question is,” he frowned, “do I let you do this?”

“Dad!”

“I’ve seen you with the real bulls, and they are no match for you. But I’ve seen what these robot bulls did to the old, great matadors. Most of them barely survived with their lives. What if you start fighting it and it gets wise to you? Or what if the trap door malfunctions? We’re talking about hundreds of bulls, Gunnar. Not just one. You’d have to beat 100 robot bulls, all of them more fierce than any real bull you’ve ever faced.”

“Dad, I’ve watched a ton of the old, great matadors fight the robot bulls. Yes, they are fierce and fast and strong, but they always make the same moves in the same ways. They are programmed, like all robots, to behave certain ways in certain situations. I already know what they’re going to do. I just need to be fast enough, and quick enough, and deceptive enough to get them to over the trap. I can do it for all of them!”


“Ok,” said his father confidently. “You are right. If there were any old, great matadors left, I’d have them do this. But since there aren’t any, we’ll have to go with the best of our young, great matadors. And that’s you.”

Gunnar smiled.

“I will get my men down here tonight and we’ll start work.”

“How long will it take to build it all?” asked Gunnar.

“A week, maybe less,” said his Dad. “So you had better get training.”

From that moment forward, Dad spent all his time building the trap at the bullring. And Gunnar spent all his time at the Rodriguez-Garcia stables practicing against all their fiercest, top bulls. He even fought them two and three at a time, like the old, great matadors used to do. It would take all of his best skill to beat even a single robot bull. He knew there was no room for mistakes.

On Friday night, Dad finished the trap.

“We’ll fight the first one tomorrow,” said Gunnar.

He hardly slept a wink. But in the morning he put on his nicest matador outfit - the black one with silvery glittered sequins.

The next thing he knew, there he was, face to face with a bull in the ring.

Brixy and Mom had found it roaming the neighborhood. They yelled at it from the car and it came charging after them. They drove the car right in the bull rings, stopped it, jumped out, ran through a gate, which was slammed shut behind them, and in charged the bull, snorting and tense, its red eyes on fire.

Gunnar stood between it and the car and waved his cape. The bull immediately lost interest in the car and fixed its gaze on Gunnar.

It lowered its head and pawed at the ground, crouching lower to the ground. Then, all at once, the launched itself forward like a rocket. The ground shook as it rumbled straight at the cape.

Gunnar deftly stepped to the side and swing the cape over the bull, it’s razor horns passing right underneath.

The bull skidded to a stop, and turned angrily.

“Just like you said!” yelled his father excitedly from over the wall. He was just on the other side, his hand on the trap door level, ready to spring it. “It did just waht you said it would.”

Gunnar knew his father was right, but he didn’t have time to think about it as the bull had charged again and was nearly on top of him. Gunnar jumped ungracefully this time just to get out of the way. It was twice as fast as a real bull and this time on of the horns hooked the cape and put a long tear through it.

Brixy screamed.

“Don’t be afraid!” yelled Mom. “You can do this.”

The bull was in its second position now. Just one more charge and he’d be over the door. The bull seemed oblivious to the presence of the water underneath them.

“I’m ready,” yelled Dad. “Let’s do it!”

Gunnar waved the tattered cape. The bull charged again and it was so fast that it seemed a blur. Gunnar ducked to the side. The bull turned its head toward him and gave it a flick. A horn nicked his shirt Gunnar saw a glittered sequin flies off.

The bull skidded and turned. It was directly over the trap door, just as they had planned.

Dad pulled the lever, the trap door flung open, and the bull went down.

They heard a splash, some thrashing around, and then nothing.

Gunnar peered over the edge.. in goes the bull.

“Want to fight another?” asked Dad.

“I have an idea,” said Gunnar. “These bulls have done a lot of damage. I will fight one a day. There must be hundreds. We will charge admission. People will come to see me fight the robot bulls. We will take the money and use it to rebuild the city from all the damage they have done.”

His mother hugged him. “That is very brave and generous, Gunnar. I think we should do it.”

“Plus,” said Gunnar, “To be honest I shouldn't fight more than one a day. I need my full concentration for each of them. If I slip up even once, I could lose my life or risk having to be sent to a deserted island, and then no one will be able to fight them. They are too fast and strong for any matador still left.”


And so Gunnar fought 199 other bulls. Each bullfight was a sellout each. Each day as the bulls began to disappear more and more people came out of their homes to the bullring, to watch, and ticket prices rose higher and higher. Bit by bit the city was rebuilt.

Until there was just one bull left.

Gunnar yawned and shook the cape. It will be sad to have to stop, he thought.

By this time Gunnar could fight the bulls in his sleep. Their moves were predictable, and with each passing day his reflexes grew faster and faster. Fighting real bulls would no longer ever be a challenge for Gunnar. So it was with mixed emotions that he fought his last robot bull.

It charged him the same way as the others had. On it’s second pass he felt a twinge of sadness. On it’s third pass, he almost felt the tears come to its eye. There it sat, right over the trap door.

“Goodbye,” said Gunnar.

“Goodbye!” said Gunnar again.

“Good … Hey, somebody pull the lever!” he yelled.

The bull was starting to charge again.

“It’s stuck!” yelled his father over the wall.

Gunnar moved out of the way and bull passed by him.

“I will distract him!” yelled Gunnar to his father. “You fix the door!”

His father ran into the ring and swept the dirt off the door. Gunnar continued to fight the bull.

“The hinges are rusted!” yelled his father.

The bull charged his father, his father lept over the wall. The bull looked down into the hole, now uncovered by the trap door. It saw the water. It turned and charged Gunnar. Gunnar tried to lead it back to where the door was, but it would not go near it.

Oh no, though Gunnar, I was so close. So close! Now I’ll either die or have to be exiled.

Just then the doors to the bullring swung wide open. Gunnar looked over, and in walked 50 men dressed in black suits with silver sequins, carrying red capes.
The great, old matadors!

The bull charges and Gunnar dodge it.

“Gunnar!” yelled the one in front. “Word reached us that you had defeated all the bulls that hunted us. We have now returned.”

“Well!” yelled Gunnar as he dodged the bull again. “All but one of them!”

“We will beat this bull the old fashioned way,” he said. “With our wiles. Men! Capes ready.”

They all raised their capes and began yelling at the bull.

He charged one. Then another. Then another and another and another. Through the capes he’d pass, thrashing and flailing, unable to connect with any. The great, old matadors took turns, ten in a ring. Then when they’d tire, ten more would enter and fight.

The bullring was full of spectators, and outside throngs gathered by the thousands, and then by the tens of thousands.

For three days the great, old matadors fought, and on the third day everyone noticed that the robot bull began to slow down.

Slower and slower it moved, a smoke began to rise from inside.

“He’s short-circuiting!” yelled Gunnar’s father.

“Finish him off, Gunnar,” said the oldest of the great, old matadors. “He’s rightfully yours.”

Gunnar moved into the ring alone. The bull charged once, twice, three times, four times. A hundred times the bull charged, and Gunnar deftly moved.

The crowd roared with each pass.

On the 101st charge, the bull slumped, then fell. It rolled, tried to get up, but could not. A flash sparked out from inside it, a black ball of smoke rose, and the red eyes dimmed. Then, it was still.

For a moment it was silent. And the a huge roar erupted from the crowd and all the people’s outside.

“Gun-nar! Gun-nar! Gun-nar!” they changed.

The great, old matadors lifted him onto their shoulders and paraded him around the ring.

Hours later, when the cheering finally stopped and the crowd sat down, the oldest of the great, old matadors announced, “Gunnar Capewave is the greatest matador who ever lived!”

Then Gunnar said, “ Everything I ever learned came from watching you great, old matadors. Any one who does great things only does them because they have learned greatness from the great ones who came before them. What I learned today is that when we all get together, there is no foe we can’t vanquish.”

“True,” said the oldest of the great, old matadors. “Very true. You are wise beyond your years, Gunnar Capewave. You are already a great, old matador yourself.”

And then the oldest of the great, old matadors sang a song, in the style of the old matadors, and everyone listened, and cheered.

[Next part is optional … the kids may want to learn the “song”]

And, to this day, each year on August 22nd, the day Gunnar defeated the last robot bull, all people still sing the song.

You may have heard it. Here are the words.

The robots came from outer space
to make robot animals in every place
and when the time came to go back home
they left the robot bulls to roam

the robot bulls with eyes of red
and dagger horns set on their heads
terrorized the populace
and overturned each car and bus

the great, old matadors did try
to rid the city of this lice
but try they might and try they did
the robot bulls could not be rid

and one by one the matadors fled
bulls agitated, violent and mad
until none were left to try and fight
and the populace feared day and night

then one day Gunnar Capewave had
an idea he shared with Dad
they built a trap to snare the beasts
and rust them or kill their circuitry

Gunnar waved the cape in each bull’s face
one after the other, as if in a race
and they thrashed and kicked and gnashed and gored
but hit only air and nothing more
until the lever pulled and down
they fell into the pool under ground

until there remained just on last bull
Standing over the trap and the lever was pulled
but oh no! It stuck, and all seemed lost
and what would be the final cost?

the life of Gunnar, the life of more?
but just then opened the bullring door
and in walked the great old matadors
with their eyes afire and their fearful powers

they swarmed the bull and made it work
it thrashed, and charged, and spun and jerked
until a circuit blew inside, and the bull slowed down
then fell …
and “died”

the crowd erupted, the praise rained down
they raised up Gunnar and carried him around
but Gunnar was humble and said, "it just shows,
That a team united can beat any foe.”

And that’s the story, there is no more
watch out for bulls and don't get gored!
Of Gunnar Capewave the matador of matadors