They were the last two robots on the shelf. They’d been there a long, long time and their once-bright boxes were now thick with dust, so they could hardly see out.
At one time, excited children would enter the shop daily; their grasping, chubby hands held up. ‘LOOK! They’ve got the robots from RoboBusters!‘ ‘I want the gold robot!’ ‘I want the black robot!’ ‘The silver robot!’
The last two robots thought they’d be next, of course. Any day now, they told themselves. But that day never came, and now they stood alone on a high shelf in a dark corner of the shop.
‘Here comes a customer!’ the gold robot would say, peering through the dust, every time the shop door jangled. ‘She’ll buy me in no time. I’m the best toy in here – no competition!’
And the blue robot would sag in his box and agree.
But since the latest blockbuster film, Squashy Cluck’s Last Stand, children only had eyes for rubber chickens. Rubber chickens in superman suits, rubber chickens in frilly aprons, rubber chickens in striped bandit costumes with little sacks of loot…
And so it was that one rainy day, a tired-looking old gentleman entered the shop.
The gold robot shuffled forward as usual, puffing out his chest and striking a pose. The blue robot sat behind him and hoped.
‘I’m looking for a rubber chicken,’ said the old gentleman, shaking rain from his umbrella.
Both robots bristled.
‘Here you go, sir,’ said the shop owner. ‘We’ve got every sort in stock at the moment.’ He gestured towards a large display beside the counter. Chickens were heaped in baskets, and all of them looked smug, even the ones in frilly aprons.
‘Hmmm,’ said the old gentleman, ‘no accounting for what kids like nowadays, I suppose.’ He chose a superhero chicken and slapped it down on the counter.
‘That’ll be twenty four ninety nine, sir, please.’
‘My goodness! That’s rather – ‘ the gentleman reached inside his raincoat for his wallet. ‘Wait a minute – are those… robots?’ He was squinting at the high shelf in the corner.
The shop owner turned round. ‘Why, yes sir. Very popular they were, once upon a time.’
As both men approached the shelf, the gold robot preened for all he was worth and the blue robot shuffled forward so much he was almost leaning on the gold one’s box.
A large hand reached up and took the gold robot.
‘My, my,’ said the old gentleman, rubbing off dust with his sleeve. ‘I’ll take one of these as well. Why not?’ And he paid for the chicken and the robot and headed out of the shop.
Meanwhile, the blue robot was teetering uncontrollably on the edge of his shelf. He leaned back as far as he could but it was no use. He fell, tumbling, and smashed himself on the hard, tiled floor of the shop. One arm broke off and his faded blue chest cracked open, springs and cogs bursting out in front of his eyes.
The toy shop owner walked over. He tutted. ‘Well, this’ll have to go in the bin. Not that I can afford to lose any more money… I’m barely scraping by as it is…’
The blue robot felt himself being picked up, his broken innards rattling to the bottom of his box. A large dustbin loomed towards him.
‘You going to throw that away?’ It was the old gentleman, turning round at the door. ‘I used to be an inventor, you know. Quite nifty at mending things. May I have it?’
The shop owner shrugged. ‘I don’t see why not.’
So the old gentleman took the blue robot, and carried him home, and mended him. His grandson played with the gold robot as well, but the blue one was always his favourite.
And what became of the rubber chicken? Well, it was soon forgotten by the boy – but not by the dog.