Morning. It was the beginning of J's daily hell.
"Number 78, be ready in five."
J sighed at the sound of the guards voice. The emptiness in his bed was caused by Bell leaving earlier. They usually attended to her before him to keep them separated, so he wasn't surprised. It was always like this. Waking up early, the guards taking him to experience the pain of needles and tinkering...
J sighed and got up, letting the cover on his bed fall to expose the brass mechanical arm that had replaced his own years before. It would serve as a reminder for all the pain and suffering he had endured. It always would. Until the day he died. Maybe that day would come soon, though.
It was a matter of moments to change into his dull clothing and walk to where the guard was waiting at the entrance of his bleak cell. "I am ready."
The man simply nodded and led him to the room where they checked his health. J didn't bother to remember names of places, but he did keep track of the turns and hallways they passed. Left. Right. Right. Then first door on the right....
"Hello, Miss Nora," J said cheerfully once he entered the room.
The vulgar woman ignored his comment. Instead, he was checked out in a quick manor and sent off with a clean bill of health. Pity. He had hoped some conversation would dull the dreary existence he had been born into. Every now and then he could get someone to hold a conversation, though usually it was only Bell who talked to him. Did she know about the swelling darkness J had on the inside, though? Did any of them?
J was escorted to a mechanical lab, next. It was for his arm, really. Since he had gotten it so long ago, it had to be adjusted every now and then to accommodate his growth. Left down a long hallway. Right into a large open room. Fifth door from the wall on the left. Straight into a room labelled "Mechanical Application Technologies."
"Hello, Mr. Shaw," J said with a bright smile to the man who approached him with a clipboard.
As usual, the man simply sniffed. "Any abnormalities with your right arm, 78?"
J shook his head. "No, sir. Just the usual." As if on que, J's arm gave off some steam. The brass monstrosity was more like a bunch of brass pipes and gears than anything, but it functioned like a normal arm, with a massive increase of normal strength, too. How it worked was already beyond J's basic knowledge of machinery.
"Good to hear, but I will need to run a full checkup just in case."
The next hour was spent with Mr. Shaw and his assistant - a burly man named George - tinkering with the mechanical arm. It was painful, but with how many times he had been through this, J had stopped caring. It only added to the darkness he hid beneath his skin. Was there even a point to the mask he portrayed...
The next place took J out into the large room with all the doors. Three doors down. A left turn at the first crossway. Straight down the twisted hallway. Last door before the fork. The room was labeled "Testing Facility."
Another part of the daily hell... J noticed something this day, though. A sign. It was just a glimpse but he knew what it said. He knew what it meant. It was an exit. Meant for emergencies like fires or earthquakes. The sign isn't what made him think about it so much, though. There was a lack of guards or even maintenance down that way. An unused exit? That seemed... Careless.
J focused on getting done with the next and last thing on his list. Training with his arm. It was brutal, but J persevered. He always did. With every fight between every twisted creature, J gained more scars on his ruined body and more blood on his clothing. Pain, fear, anger, hate, sadness, and even joy. They ran through his body and mind with each test of abilities and death. It fed the darkness within and caused it to seep into his pours. His smiling face faltered.
'No!' J smiled brightly once again as a overly-muscular dog fell dead at his feet, head crushed beyond recognition. 'I will always smile. I won't let them take that away again.'
If someone gave you something, you had to keep it and take care of it. Bell had given J a smile and happiness. He couldn't stop the darkness within, but he wouldn't lose his outer self. Even if it was a cover, he needed it. Should he lose it...
The darkness would overcome him.
The thought scared J. It truly did. He tried not to think about it as the day went on. It was hard, but by the time he got back to his cell, he was smiling easily once more. It only took a few minutes before Bell crawled back over.
J smiled over the dark impulses he felt. "I found an unused emergency exit," he told her as she stood up off the floor. She had on a black corset with several buckles across her midriff, black slacks, combat boots with some weird gadgets on them, and some weird jewelry that was made from stolen things.
She was ready. "Neat. And nice clothing, J."
J realized he still wearing the bloody clothing and quickly went to his bathroom section to pull out his own hidden clothing. They weren't supposed to have any clothing other than the dull drabs that were provided, but over the years, J and Bell had taken and stolen and made clothing of their own for a day like this.
The large cloak J had stolen from an old guard fit perfectly to hide J's body. Underneath, he wore loose jeans, combat boots of his own, and a button up shirt with the right sleeve cut off for his mechanical arm. He made sure to grab the stolen goods Bell had given him, too.
"We're ready to escape, Bell."
It was time to escape the daily hell.