A BarnMature

J walked along the woods, Bell once again by his side. It had been so long since he saw trees. Seeing them again with his only friend by his side had made the darkness cower in front of the happiness he now felt. Maybe it would go away if he could stay happy like this..

Just ahead, J saw a building. It was odd, but it looked like a plain red box with doors more than a building like the orphanage. "Hey, Bell," J asked his friend, "What's that building?"

Bell smiled up at him and pushed her ebony hair from her face. She looked tired. "It's called a barn," she said, "It's a house for animals; cows, horses, chicken, livestock, that sort of thing."

House for animals? "It's where they keep them before experimenting?"

"No, that's where they keep them before they butcher them. A much better fate, I'm sure."

J was still confused. "Why do they butcher them, though?"

Bell rubbed her eyes with her arm without the bandages. J wanted to ask what they were for, but held off. She would tell him, right? "Food, J" she sad, answering his question, "They're for eating."

"Oh." So that's wear food came from. J wondered what animal was made of potatoes, but ended up yawning before he could picture such a creature. "I think I want to sleep..."

Bell led him over to the barn and pushed the door open, revealing animals resting along the side of the place. There were no chickens, but J recognized all the creatures were horses, like the knights in the stories he used to hear rode. "Well, have at it." Bell pointed at some yellow stuff laying on the ground. It was hay. 

J smiled and walked over to the stuff that was nearly the same color as his own hair. He hadn't seen hay since he had to help out a farmer when he was eight... It was a one time thing, but J remembered the stuff. 

He laid down and sighed happily. "I like this better than my old bed." J noticed Bell still standing up. That wasn't right. "Com lay down!"

Bell walked over and sat down next to him. "It's itchy," she said, giggling a little bit.

J laughed along with her for a moment before noticing the bandage on her arm once again. She was clearly not using it to hold herself up. "What happened to your arm?"

She didn't react the way J thought she would. He thought Bell might have laughed it off or maybe ordered him to ignore it, but she just shrugged instead. "Microchip," she told him, "It's gone now."

J frowned. Microchip? Those things they put in the animals to keep track of them? "Do I have one too?"

His friend sat up, concern coming to her face. "I don't think so, but I should look at it... the... your arm piece," She looked nervous about the subject. "Um, to be sure..."

Well, it wasn't a big deal. J nodded to his friend and pulled the mechanical arm out from under his large cloak. He didn't know why, but it's existence wasn't bringing out the darkness just beneath the surface like usual. Maybe... it was because he wasn't alone right now. Come to think of it, the darkness hadn't tried to come out at all since they escaped...

Bell reached out with an obvious hesitation. Come to think of it, had she ever touched J's mechanical arm? She never slept on the side he had it on, that's for sure. She ran her fingers over the knobs and buttons along the upper part of it down to the fingers. J watched her face go from nervous to curious. "What do all these buttons do?" she asked him. 

J laughed. She was curious about how it worked only after they had escaped? Well, there was no harm in explaining it. J knew a lot about his arm from hearing and practicing with it. "They are locks," he explained, watching the curious eyes of his only friend, "The arm is restrained to using 30%of it's maximum output unless these-" J pointed to the top five buttons labelled 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. "-are pressed. I don't understand it all, but that's what Mr. Shaw said." J briefly wondered what that man was doing...

Bell's sly smile made J stop thinking about that, though. "Might come in handy, should we get robbed of all our riches."

"It's not as handy as you are, though," He told her, putting his arm back beneath the cloak and laid down. A grin came over his face when Bell laid down with him and moved in close.

"Sure," she said softly, "If you consider a mind you can't even control handy, then I'm your girl."

J laughed at his friend. "So, what should we do tomorrow, now that we're free?"

"Hmmm. I can't even imagine. I guess whatever people our age do for fun." J heard her sigh happily. "God, I wouldn't even know..."

"You promised me ice cream," J reminded her. 

"Then that's what we'll do," Bell told him, squeezing his hand like she did when they fell asleep in that dark cell. "Anything you want..."

J smiled as his friend dozed off. Anything he wanted? Well, after he got ice cream, he wasn't sure he wanted anything more than this. 

The End

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