Sunny tried to read the reference manuals. She really did! But despite her best efforts, she started nodding off somewhere around booleans and eventually fell asleep on a page about incompatible type errors. Her dreams were filled with dancing semicolons and curly braces, and in the morning, she woke up to sunlight streaming through a window in the side of the room.
Sunny lifted her head from the book and winced as she tried to work out the kinks in her neck. "Argh…" She smoothed out the page the book was open to and closed it with a whump. "I don't think I can read any more of that without falling asleep again," she muttered to herself. "Although, I suppose this book isn't completely useless. It could be handy for looking up words in, or I could throw it at a bad guy! There'll be some bad guys on my quest, right? There have to be."
With that cheery thought in mind, Sunny started humming and straightening up the other books that Professor Polly had left her with. There was one called Computational Fairy Tales, which looked more interesting, and one about debugging.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, and a friendly voice called out something in Javalandian. Sunny quickly opened the door and greeted Professor Polly with a smile. Behind the professor, Robert was floating again and displaying the words, "Good morning! Breakfast is ready, if you'd like to come and eat."
"Wonderful!" Sunny beamed at the two and followed them to the dining room from the previous evening. Adelia was there already, enjoying a bowl of cereal that was shaped like ones and zeroes. When she saw Sunny, she waved, and her blanket cape fluttered merrily around her.
Sunny waved back and took a seat at the table. "So, how long will it take to get to Variable Village?"
Professor Polly handed Sunny a plate full of scrambled brackets and hashbrowns shaped like hash symbols. "There's a well-used road connecting Parentheses Town to Variable Village. If you hitch a ride, it should take less than a day."
"Assuming nothing goes wrong," Robert muttered.
Professor Polly pursed her lips. "Yes, that's right. There have been reports of carts breaking down. While that isn't particularly unusual, what is an issue is that no syntax errors are appearing, so no one knows if they need a parenthesis or a semicolon to fix their vehicle."
Sunny tried and failed to imagine what a vehicle made of punctuation would look like.
"It should be fine… Worst comes to worst, you could walk." Professor Polly smiled. "It'd be good exercise!"
"But if you hitch a ride, try to pick someone who's eating something," Adelia advised. "If they brought a snack, they probably have spare parts too." She shoveled a spoonful of cereal into her mouth.
Sunny nodded as she dug into her breakfast. Soon enough, Professor Polly and Adelia got into a heated debate over whether single or double quotation marks were better, and Sunny smiled to herself as she listened to them. She tried to soak in the pre-quest anticipation and lightheartedness… she expected she'd have to face various trials and sufferings later. Although that was all part of the process of becoming a famous hero!
When breakfast was over, Professor Polymorphism handed Sunny the bag she'd requested the day before and listed some of its contents: food, water, books, and an extra battery for Robert.
"Why am I the one stuck with babysitting Sunny, again?" the robot grumbled.
"Because dealing with this problem is urgent and you're one of our most capable diplomats," Professor Polly said.
"Because I'm going on an awesome quest, and I choose you to be my sidekick!" Sunny said.
Despite Robert's complaining, however, a few minutes later, Sunny and Robert were on the front steps of the house, saying their goodbyes to Professor Polly and Adelia.
"Best of luck!"
"Don't forget to choose a driver with a snack," added Adelia.
And with that, Sunny and Robert set off down the sidewalk, on the way to their grand adventure.
"‘Go with Sunny,' she said. ‘You're the best one for the job,' she said." Robert huffed. "Ugh, what a bunch of flattery." The robot shifted uncomfortably among the bundles of goods and eyed a particular package with distaste. "That stinky String cheese smell is gonna stay on me for days!"
"I didn't know robots could smell," Sunny deadpanned.
"Oh, you don't know a lot of things, do you?"
"Well, rude." Sunny adjusted her position between some hard loaves of bread and a wooden cabinet. "It's alright. We'll get there soon!"
"You and I have very different definitions of ‘soon.'" Robert attempted to cross his arms, although he didn't really have elbows, so the resulting effect was that of two slabs of metal stacked on each other.
From the front of the cart, the driver called, "About an hour away now!" Then he went back to munching on some potato chips from the large bag of chips Sunny had first seen him with.
Sunny tried to tune out Robert's grumblings and turned her attention to the road around them. In the other direction, various carts carrying fresh produce trundled towards Parentheses Town. They were made of some kind of metallic material and had wheels with patterns of asterisks in them. Sunny couldn't see any parentheses or semicolons on the outsides, although they'd already passed one cart that had been pulled over to the side of the road. From the snippets of conversation she'd overheard, Sunny deduced that it'd been taken out of commission by some unknown error.
"Hey, Robert? Why exactly is missing the errors' descriptions such a big problem?" Sunny asked thoughtfully. "Don't people have the experience to solve the problems without needing descriptions? You helped me solve the error I first had with my code being in the wrong place."
Robert paused his fiddling with a bag of knicknacks. "Sure, that works for simple errors. Most Javalandians know the basic structure of a program. But for more complex errors, or ones that a person hasn't seen before, the help of an error guardian is usually requested." He frowned at the carts passing them. "These cart errors don't even say what's missing, so someone would have to read through the source code to find out. Usually, an error guardian would do that."
"So where are these error guardians, and why aren't they doing their job?"
Robert shrugged. "I've heard rumors that some were reduced to blubbering messes when the error descriptions started flying away from their notes. And others have attempted to follow the descriptions to Spaghetti Code Mountain… with little success, it would seem. There should be an error guardian at Variable Village, though. He's in charge of the incompatible types error. You should ask him."
"Oh!" Sunny perked up. "I was reading about that error last night. I can't seem to remember what it was, though…" Sunny pulled out the reference manual from her backpack.
She started flipping through it. "It was after variable data types… So ints, doubles… wait, if statements? Okay, no, I've gone too far." She flipped back a few pages and stopped. "There's information on ints and doubles and booleans, but nothing about incompatible types errors. I could've sworn there was a paragraph on that last night." Sunny stared at the manual, suddenly feeling deeply unsettled.
She gulped. "Did… did the description of that error just disappear from this manual?"