Aloysius sighed, flicking off the open sign. From there, he proceeded to walk past rows of huge bipedal legs, stopping to admire their craftsmanship one final time.
A bell rang over the door, Aloysius looking up with a twinge of excitement. That fell apart as soon as he saw the flaming red lab coat on his neighbor’s musclebound frame.
“Come to rub it in, Abraham? Total Comfort Mech is shutting down after a century in business.”
Abraham twirled his moustache, which he had carefully cut into six separate points to avoid moustache-twirling-based boredom. “Yes, yes I have, dear Aloysius. I always told you that huge robots were best built for war, not relaxation. You could have been in on the ground floor of my operation, if only you’d be willing to shake firstborns on it.”
“Why can’t you just shake hands like anyone else?”
Abraham switched moustache tips, cackling. “A man’s handshake is worth nothing. If he were to give his firstborn a vigorous shaking, though, that’s another thing. It’s the sign of someone I can trust.”
Aloysius slammed his hand on a huge plastic foot. “Your firstborn is in his thirties! Mine was only a few days old when you came to me with your offer. How was I supposed to accept?”
“You think it’s so dangerous to shake an infant, is that it? Well, is an infant likely to hit you back? Call the police?”
Aloysius wouldn’t meet his gaze.
Abraham sniffed. “I thought not. Pure cowardice on your part. It’s not like an infant could tell on you for shaking him. You’re pathetic, and now your business is going with you.”
He stopped under a pair of giant humanoid feet, his gaze moving up to look upon the colossal were-rat mech that Aloysius had constructed. He laughed, shaking his head. “What is this even for?”
Aloysius seethed. “The Snuggatron provides all of the pleasures of having a giant robot with the comfort of bunny hugs. It’s soft, fuzzy interior keeps the rider comfortable while they knock down buildings throughout various populated cities.”
Abraham pulled out a remote, fiddling with the buttons. “It looks like a rat wearing human slippers and a bandolier. Absurd, just like your non-baby-shaking ways. Killdozer, walk ten steps forward.”
The building rumbled for a moment before a huge robot came tearing through the walls, roaring as it leveled its eight chain guns on Aloysius. Abraham walked up underneath it, slamming one hand on its steel leg. “Reinforced body, where the molten metal is heated and then cooled in a vat of children’s tears, each tear having come from a child whose bike was just stolen. The frame is built from ground-up unicorn horns, keeping it lightweight but depressing. The guns all fire twelve inch unanswered letters to Santa at a thousand miles an hour, ten thousand letters a minute. The whole thing is fueled by baby panda blood, and it pumps out exhaust fumes that are instantly lethal to puppies and kittens. It is the pinnacle of warfare, and the future of mechs.”
Aloysius howled, tears streaming down his face as his words shook the room. “But can it love?”
Abraham blinked a few times. “No.”
Snuggatron burst from its bindings, reaching down to pick up Aloysius in a huge bear hug. It cuddled him close, Aloysius looking back at Abraham over his shoulder. “Your creation might be able to kill soldiers, but does it tuck you in at night? Does it think about you when you’re not around? Does it wait for you at the door when you come home?”
Abraham looked away, rubbing at his eyes. “No. Why would I need it to do that?”
“Because huge, bipedal robots were never built to kill. They were built to love.” The machine lowered Aloysius to the ground. He made his way over to Abraham, touching his shoulder. “You know that in your heart, don’t you?”
Abraham choked back a sob, one that turned into a laugh. He slapped Aloysius’ hand away, shouting to Killdozer. “Killdozer! Hug!”
The mech delicately scooped Abraham up with its machine guns, releasing a shrieking giggle as it hugged him close to its chest. Abraham sneered back. “I don’t need you for anything any more.”
Aloysius felt himself growing weak, knowing Abraham was right.