When the little robot uncovered him, Rex was so frightened he very nearly roared. It was all he could do to remain still as the robot picked him up and turned him over and upside-down and every which way.
Go away! he thought frantically. I don't want to be made into a garbage cube!
The robot peered down at him, its binocular eyes reminding him poignantly of Lenny. It shook him once, really hard, and Rex found it even more difficult to stay still this time.
"Ooh," the robot said. It sounded quite admiring, and even though he didn't really move, Rex felt himself preening a little. He might not be as handsome as he used to be, but he was still the fiercest dinosaur around.
And then he was flying through the air, landing in a red and white cooler already populated by a cracked gnome and a few ancient CDs reflecting the sun.
"Excuse me," Rex asked the gnome. "Do you know where we're going?"
The robot's name was WALL-E, and Rex quickly learned that it was unlike any other robot he'd ever seen. For one thing, it liked to collect stuff, old toys and spoons and bowling pins and strings of Christmas lights. Every evening Rex looked eagerly for any sign of his old pals Buzz and Woody, but he never saw them. Either they weren't out there, or WALL-E just hadn't found them yet.
The other thing that was different about WALL-E was that he was lonely. And Rex knew loneliness when he saw it. He had been left alone in that trash heap for far too many years not to recognize it.
It took him a little while to work up the courage to roar out loud one night. It was a good roar, too, deep and loud, just like Buzz had showed him. The entire shelf he was standing on rattled at the sound, filling Rex with pride.
Little WALL-E, though, squawked in alarm and immediately folded himself up into a box.
Worried, Rex peered over the edge of the shelf. When he saw WALL-E start to peek out, he went still, but he kept watching as the robot carefully unfolded itself. The poor thing was actually shaking with fright, which made Rex feel even worse than before.
He didn't try roaring again.
Life went on. Buzz and Woody never did show up. Rex got bored of watching Hello, Dolly!, although he did enjoy watching WALL-E dance along to the musical numbers. He entertained himself by imagining how Woody and Bo Peep might dance together, or pretending that Potato Head was there, dancing with his hat. But it just wasn't the same.
Until one night WALL-E came home with another robot. And everything changed.
She was sleek and white and Rex was afraid of her. He remained very still, anxious about what she would do if her scanners fell on him and she learned the truth. But EVE seemed more interested in the things WALL-E showed her, so his secret stayed safe.
EVE broke down, though, and she stopped talking. Toys couldn't cry, of course, any more than robots could, but Rex felt something deep inside him twist in a painful knot as WALL-E called her name over and over with increasing desperation. And when the little robot eventually gave up and rolled off to work, binocular eyes drooping with sadness, Rex felt a crazy urge to shout that everything would be okay.
He would speak up tonight, he decided. There was no sense in either of them being alone any longer. He felt tingly all over at the thought of it, and he knew his friends would be proud of him for being so brave.
Tonight, he thought. I'll say something tonight.
Everything would be okay then.