The forest was usually a peaceful place… Then again, Lucy was rarely there while somebody was chopping trees down behind her with a very sharp looking axe; she normally wore her training panties, as well, and could use her feet if she really needed to run away from something.
Now, she wished she had never set off on this journey in the first place, had just stayed at home with Kari, no matter how embarrassing it was to get taken care of by that tiny, little girl. At least she knew that would end, and Mommy would come home, and things could go back to normal, even if she might get in trouble because Kari didn’t believe that she hadn’t wet her bed, and Mommy likely wouldn’t, either. Maybe they’d keep her in diapers for a couple days, but that was the worst of it.
It was strange, how much she missed her nursery. There, dolls didn’t come to life and chase her around, and she couldn’t get lost in a maze of corn, or in a forest that was somehow completely different than any of the hundreds of other times she’d been in it. If she could make it through all this, though, and reach the end of the rainbow, then maybe it would all be worthwhile.
She was starting to wonder if that was ever going to happen, however. She glanced back from the bridge she was ‘guarding’, frowning at the sight of the robot, turned away from the trees it was supposed to be carving a path through for her. It had taken down several trees, sure, and far quicker than Lucy could have hoped to on her own, even if she’d had an axe, but every time it did, it took the tree and start carving at it with its axe, slowly assembling… something…
It shouldn’t have mattered that much – although having a path back out of here once she made it, somehow, over the bridge and back, would be nice – but it meant the robot was spending much more time with its eyes in Lucy’s direction than looking away, which was the opposite of why Lucy had struck this bargain in the first place.
She had tried, when the robot’s back was to her, to make her way to the bridge. She’d gathered up her courage, crawling to the banks of the river, watching it rage beneath her, water crashing against giant rocks that – in the real world – should have been wider than the entire stream. The surface of the bridge was a single rope, and, while there were other ropes stretching up, forming the sides of the bridge, reaching up to a pair of rope railings at either side, she couldn’t actually reach those.
Or, rather, she wasn’t brave enough to see if she could pull herself up to grab the two ropes on the side and try using them to keep herself upright. That almost seemed more dangerous than crawling… And the rope seemed awfully narrow to try crossing on all fours. She thought the ropes along the side were spaced narrowly enough that they’d keep her from tumbling into the river if she fell, but she honestly wasn’t sure, and very much didn’t want to find out. She’d feel much better if she could actually walk, and even then, she knew she wouldn’t enjoy the trip.
“S-Sorry, but…” Lucy spoke up at last, having to clear her throat and try again to get it to look down at her. She was used to her height making people pay more attention to her, so volume generally wasn’t as big of an issue… Stuck on her hands and knees, it was a whole different story. “Y-You’re doing a good job,” she said, looking nervously at the giant axe, “I just wondered if maybe you could… speed things up a bit? I’m kind of on a deadline…” She had no idea how far away that deadline was – the rainbow was still quite bright – but she knew she had one. Rainbows didn’t last forever, after all…
“I am working as fast as I can,” the robot assured her. “I would hate to waste the wood.”
“Yeah,” Lucy nodded, “But can’t you do that later? You know, cut down the trees, and then you could finish working on all of them at once.” And, hopefully, give her back the feeling in her feet, allowing her to try to sneak past him while he was occupied.
“Ha ha ha,” the robot spoke, without any intonation; with no further explanation, it went back to his carving.
“Oh!” a sudden thought struck Lucy. “How about you use that wood to make a bigger bridge? You could keep it narrow, so you could still easily guard it, but I bet its pretty hard for you to get across if you need to, isn’t it?” And, more importantly, once it had done that, she would feel much safer crawling to the other side while the robot was busy chopping down more trees.
“I do not need to cross the bridge,” the robot told her. “My mission is to keep anyone else from crossing. It would be foolish to make that easier.”
“I guess,” Lucy agreed, even if it didn’t help her any.
“Ha ha,” the robot walked over to her in just a few, massive steps, patting her on the head with his giant, metal hand. It was surprisingly gentle, for as huge as the machine was. “You are a silly baby,” it told her.
“I’m not…” Lucy bristled automatically, before giving in, remembering her outfit, the obvious diaper beneath her shorts, and her current inability to stand.
“Do not worry,” the robot told her. “I will take care of everything. I only hope my wife returns soon.”
“What if she’s on the other side of the bridge?” Lucy suggested. “Maybe I should go check, and…”
Before she could finish, the robot had scooped her up, easily holding her in one hand, giving her padded bottom a sharp whap with its other hand before raising her to its eye level, Lucy squirming, yelping, and blushing the whole time. “Why are you so interested in the bridge, little one?” it asked.
Lucy gulped, feeling the robot’s mechanical eyes scanning into her, as if they were reading her thoughts. “I-I’m not!” she lied. “I-I just thought, maybe you haven’t seen her because she’s over there, so…”
The light in the robot’s eyes dimmed, just a touch. “She would not cross the bridge,” it said after a long moment. “And you would not either, would you?”
“N-No,” Lucy shook her head. “I want to get through the woods, remember?” she pointed towards the trees the robot was cutting down. “I don’t need to go over there, I…” She squirmed as the robot stared at her again.
“I think you are telling me a fib, little one,” the robot finally announced. “I had better keep an eye on you.”
“No, I’m not!” Lucy said. “Let me go, I… No!” The robot turned, Lucy still in hand, and walked back over to where it had been working. As the work site got closer, Lucy was finally able to get a good look at what it had been building, instantly wishing she hadn’t. In the center was what looked like a giant, wooden cage, although she assumed it was meant to be a crib, considering the changing table that was half-constructed next to it.
“I am sorry there is no mattress,” the robot told her, placing her into the crib. “When my wife arrives, she will make it more comfortable for you.”
“No!” Lucy shook her head. “I can’t watch the bridge in here! Come on, you have to let me out, I…”
She stared up in horror as the robot lifted a pair of giant, wooden planks, setting them across the top of the crib, leaving a space only a few inches across in between. “I do not have the top finished, either,” it explained. “I need to go cut more wood.”
“B-But the bridge!” Lucy protested, pointing towards it.
“Ha ha, silly baby,” the robot said. “Do you not think my sensors can reach that far? You are even sillier than I thought.” With that, it left, carrying its axe back towards the trees while Lucy sat helplessly in her crib, watching.
Lucy had a crib at home, sure, and it was big, compared to a regular, baby’s crib, but it was nothing compared to this. She could easily climb out of hers with no problem, and did often, at least when she thought she could get away with it, without Mommy getting too mad. Even in the best of times, if she had feeling in her feet so she had the option to stand, and even get on her tiptoes, she doubted she would even come close to reaching the top of the bars.
And the bars themselves were quite solid. She tried a couple, shaking them like a desperate prisoner, but they were sturdy, not budging an inch, or giving any indication that she was going to be able to break them, like she’d come close to doing with a couple at home, when she’d gotten really upset. Her first instinct had been more right than she’d known… This was, essentially, a big cage, and she was trapped in it.
The good thing about how solid the bars were was that she was able to grab ahold of them, pulling herself up onto her feet, leaning against them. If she stood still, she could keep standing, although any slight movement – or letting go on those bars for even a moment – left her struggling to maintain her balance, desperately clinging to the bars. Attempting to climb was definitely out of the question, but it felt good to get off her knees, at least, and even getting this far made it clear how unlikely it was that she would be escaping this thing through the top.
Given the size and strength of the robot, it was unsurprising how quickly it returned, dragging another tree trunk with it and sitting on a massive tree trunk as it started to carve. At the bridge, it had been difficult to get a clear view, though, close up, Lucy had to admit watching it work was quite fascinating, somehow using the giant blade to create a series of tiny, delicate looking parts, laying them out on the ground in front of himself.
Lucy had no idea what the robot was building with them, and knew that she probably didn’t want to know. “You don’t have to keep me in here,” she swore to it, staring up at the robot. “I’m not going anywhere! I promise, I don’t want to cross your bridge!”
And she didn’t, really, although that didn’t mean she wouldn’t if she had to. The raging river beneath it made her nervous, but if that’s what she had to brave to keep from being trapped her, the captive of this giant robot who seemed to want her to be its baby, she would do it. She just had to get the chance to do that, since she’d squandered her last one, thinking a better opportunity was going to come up; now, she saw that she just needed to bite the bullet, or she was going to wind up in much hotter water.
As if to demonstrate that, the robot set down the axe and began assembling the pieces it had made. Lucy was still confused as to what they were supposed to make, although something about them seemed familiar… They were definitely intricate, fitting together perfectly, the resulting piece of machinery beautiful in its own way, though, at the same time, terrifying, since Lucy didn’t know what they were going to do.
The robot wasn’t finished, however. Once everything had been assembled, he set it aside, grabbing the axe and beginning to carve once more. This time, the pieces it was creating were larger, more simple, but still very pretty in their own right, and Lucy was strangely proud of herself for noticing the hinge that was being made, even before the robot put the two parts together.
For a few moments, Lucy thought this was something sweet, and innocent, as the robot fit the two halves of the hinge, and the attached pieces of wood, together, and she saw that it had made a hollowed out heart, which the first thing it had created fit into perfectly. Once it was positioned inside, the robot used a series of small latches to keep it closed, moving on to yet another piece.
This one was the simplest of all, a U-shaped piece of wood that fit into the top of the heart, into a pair of holes Lucy had noticed, but not paid much attention to; there was a hole on the front, right in the center, too, after all. As the piece was slotted into the top, however, she suddenly began to recognize what this thing was, and she went from being impressed to, once again, scared.
It was a padlock. As the wooden loop clicked into place, she was sure, though, if she’d had any doubt, the robot stuck one finger into the hole in the center. She heard some quiet whirring, and, a moment later, the U-shaped pieced popped up, allowing Lucy to see that one end was shorter than the other, a small gap opening beneath it while the other side was still firmly planted inside the heart.
The robot pressed it shut again, then re-opened it, before, satisfied, it set the lock on top of the wood over Lucy’s head, indicating, at least in the girl’s mind, that he’d made it for the crib, to ensure that, once the top had been made, he could truly seal her in.
Briefly, she thought she was okay, that she could just undo those latches on the side, but, of course, those didn’t actually matter. If anything, the heart-shaped shell might drop off; that was only for show, however. The real mechanism was on the inside, and apparently the key was the robot himself.
“Do not fret,” the robot told her, apparently noticing her worry, the anxiety growing in her tummy, and completely misinterpreting it. “I will have your crib finished in no time, and then I will finish the rest of your nursery.”
“I don’t need a nursery!” she told him, trying to stomp her foot without thinking. She stumbled, losing her balance and tumbling into the opposite side of the crib. She felt it lurch, just slightly, and then she fell flat on her diapered bottom, blushing as she stared up, through the bars, at the robot. “Let me out of here!”
“Ha ha ha,” the robot ‘laughed’. “Daddy knows best, little one, and Daddy knows that you need to be kept out of trouble, and that is why you are staying here with me, safe in your crib and your diapers, forever.”
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