Remembrance: The Dark Light
Twisted from batman
The feeling of satisfaction overwhelmed him after he had his hands drenched with blood. The nauseating stench of burning, rotting flesh filled his nostrils, invading his senses. Most would have run away, repulsed by the disgusting smell. But not him. He found it fragrant and the perfume of dying people brought him euphoria.
He licked his knife clean, unfazed by the taste of cold, metallic plasma and gathered his knives preparing to sniff a dead body—as he always did to carry the smell of death with him—on his way out.
A wide grin stretched on his face as he heard the sirens of the police cruisers. The sound was music to his ears and the invitation of a never-ending chase. He liked the game and he liked playing it.
An empty box in the far corner of the room stumbled, indicating the presence of
a living person. He did not wait for the lurching figure to approach him and climbed in his Batmobile and crashing through the glass windows, flew out in the dark night.
“Gotham City has a new villain. Badman.”
“Batman gone bad.”
“The Joker seems to have possessed Batman as the rogue goes on destroying everything alive.”
“Stop reading those headlines together!” yelled Jim Gordon at last, frustrated by the murmuring chorus. “You. Yes you, Warren. Read the first column.”
“Yes sir.” Officer Warren cleared his throat. “Last month, one of Gotham City’s most respected figures, Harvey Dent, was assassinated by our supposed ex-saviour, Batman. GCPD has been on his trail since he fled in his devil mobile. We almost lost hope of finding Batman until last night. Bruce Wayne’s mysterious disappearance from his manor, Catwoman’s dead body with a completely disfigured face, and a deliberate arson committed within a week while the Joker is still in custody makes Batman our first suspect. The—”
“Stop. Just stop. Off to work, everyone. No more gossip. Leave!” Jim could feel anger rolling off him in tremors and waves. He wondered if his palpitating heartbeat could be heard by anyone. Because of the way in which the erratic organ was beating against his chest, it sounded like drums beating, matching the rhythm of the storm thundering outside. Bruce or Brute—as the people aware of his real identity behind the (former) superhero mask called him—had gone on a killing spree.
One hundred and seventeen people burned down alive in the factory. More than 100 people and Catwoman and Bruce Wayne. All dead. Leaving behind destruction and the lives of the people of Gotham City in the hands of a brute—Batman.
James knew he hadn’t killed Catwoman. She had been the victim of Poison Ivy and Harlequin, the legends of female villainy. But people chose to believe the lies instead.
“Why did you change, Bruce? Why?” James Gordon asked himself in a whisper, hoping he would answer telepathically.
The thing was, Bruce didn’t know the answer himself.
“He was last spotted on the terrace of Wayne Manor. Again.”
“That’s private property. We cannot trespass the Wayne Manor without Bruce Wayne’s permission,” said Chief Gordon. “Raymond, what have you found?”
“Important news, sir. A note.”
“A note? What note? Tell me, what of it?”
“An encrypted message was thrown in today when I was here for the morning shift.”
“What did it say?” James asked, trying not to lose his patience.
“Je veux grave. Je veux rire. Je veux la mort,” replied Simon, reading the printed sheet. “Or that’s what our code breakers interpreted.”
“It’s French!” exclaimed Francis. “It says: I want serious. I want laughs. I want death.”
“Serious, laughs, death? What is he asking? Are you sure it was him who delivered the message?” Nina asked, looking up from the original message. It was a charcoal-black paper with white dots splattered around in white.
“Yes, ma’am. We are sure. His batmobile was spotted as he sped away.”
“Is this French note written in Braille? And what need had he to code the simple message?”
Serious ……… Why so serious ……… Laughs ……… Laughter ……… Smile ……….
Death ……… HIM!
“The Joker! He wants him!” Warren said, making everyone jump.
“Very well. But why did he encrypt the message?”
“It was probably meant for only a particular person’s eyes,” Raymond pointed out.
His head snapped up. For only a particular person’s eyes …….
“Me. It was meant for me. I know how to read Braille. And French.”
Everyone looked at Jim Gordon, shocked by the confession. “Why you?”
“He wants me to release him. The Joker. Batman wants the Joker.”
He had been repeating the same thing for an hour. He never stopped to breathe except for wiping the remnants of hot sauce off his hands between his chant. “Have you not thought of anything yet, Gordon? You must release me Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Save your Gotham City from Batsie’s wrath. Poor, poor Batman. Lost his Rachel, then that woman with claws—Catwoman—and so many things. He has lost his mind and become a rogue. Do you think he can be saved Jim-Jim? Do you? Such an optimist. You are in deep trouble, Gordon. Deep, deep trouble. Deep, deep, deep. Deep deeeee—”
“Stop it. Stop doing that, you psycho. I—I will release you. You—you must trap him. Catch him and bind him for me. Yes, you will. You have to.”
He raised a brow. “What do I get from this? From being thrown in as bait?”
“Deal. But you should have never stuttered. Stutterers are faithless people.”
He left the cell, leaving Joker to continue with his favourite hobby of twirling his tongue over the iron bars sprayed with hot sauce by himself.
Stutterers are faithless people indeed. The quiet, reserved, introverted ones are the worst. Ambitious and ambiguous. Backstabbing even. You will get freedom, Joker. Freedom. Freedom from life.
“I’m going, daddy. Will miss you. Miss you not. Yes. No. Nay.” Joker tried to attack his face with sloppy kisses but was restrained by the cops holding him back.
“We are staying close by to keep watch. Don’t even think of running.” James warned him.
The Joker made an “O” with his mouth and gasped, “Jimmy! You don’t trust me?”
Jim retorted with a straight face, “Honestly? I do not. Now stand there. Right in the middle of the street where I can see you. Go.” Giving him a quick push, he hasted toward cover. He waited patiently but what he hadn’t expected to find was a female walking to the centre of the street. Her heels clicked loudly in the silent night as she approached the criminal.
The cop crouching next to Jim stood up abruptly to protest but Jim pulled him back. Batman was here.
He saw him through the corner of his eyes, standing on the rooftop of the closest one-story building. His mouth was set in a tight, rigid, straight line. His eyes were unblinking and focused on Harlequin and the Joker.
Harlequin just circled around the psychopath with a long, slender finger trailing on his chest and upper back as she moved. Jim narrowed his eyes and observed that they both were murmuring something.
“Sir, we need to react. They could be conspiring something. They are bigger threats to our city than Batman.” Jim wanted to correct him saying that Batman was a lot more lethal now but acceded, nodding. They both nearly straightened up only to realize that Harlequin had vanished faster than she had appeared and Batman had already swooped down to face the Joker.
“Batman! My bestie! Hi, hey, hello, YOLO, yellow!” He jumped up like a freakish, teenage fangirl and almost hugged him if it hadn’t been for Batman’s hand clenched around his neck.
“I’m not here to listen to you, rambling senseless, Joker. I’m here to get you.” He mumbled, slowly.
“Why are we waiting then?” Batman grabbed Joker by his neck and James Gordon watched the two rogues fleeting away.
“What are we doing, Batboy?” The Joker had a crazy grin stretched on his face like always. He rubbed his hands together as he watched Batman remove the gags of the three blinded GCPD cops. Their eyes had been rubbed vigorously with chilli powder and they were screaming and thrashing, unable to do anything to ease their pain with their hands bound behind.
“Finishing them off.” Batman remained tight lipped as he touched the edge of the machete to the first groaning man’s neck. In one sweep, the head was rolling on the floor. He put the bloody saw under the chin of the short, pudgy cop and slowly moved his weapon to cut deeper. The blood trickled down and his victim’s screeching grew up. When the saw had cut in a quarter deep, the screaming stopped and so did Batman.
The third was surprisingly calmer than the rest. “Batman?” He croaked out, “We—me and my son—are two of your biggest fans. We don’t know why you have changed but we—” He didn’t get to complete his last words as a bullet pierced his left eye.
“I hate it when they speak too much.” Bruce strapped his gun back to his utility belt and stared intently at the bodies in front of him.
One-twenty-one. I have killed 121 people including myself, he thought. And I don’t regret it.
“What do you want, Joker?”
“If it wasn’t my name I would have taken offence,” he chuckled. “I need you to open the door.”
Batman looked up sharply. “Why? To let you escape? No way.”
“Why would I want to escape when I have seen you toying with lives of three useless men? And didn’t we make a deal? We are partners now, aren’t we?”
“We are. But why do you want me to open the door? One of your gremlins is waiting outside to jump me?”
He repeated that they were partners and with a loud laugh continued, “Harley is waiting outside.”
“Harlequin? She’s no less of a gremlin.”
“Why, are you scared my little gremlin might hurt little batboy?” He guffawed again, just more maniacally. “She ain’t here to hurt anyone and she won’t jump you. She has eyes only for me.” Joker passed a wink and opened the door himself. He was instantly pulled in for a kiss by a tall, slender curvaceous woman. In between her kisses, she muttered her greetings, “It has been a long while since I last tasted you.”
He pulled her closer and delved in deeper in her mouth. After a minute, unlatching himself from her roughly, he pushed her inside. They both looked slightly breathless as he bolted the door.
“Well, well, well. If this isn’t Bathunk.”
“Batman,” he corrected her and moved away from her index finger, which was threatening to poke his chest.
“Aw. Bathunk is scared of poor, little Quinn. How sad.” She dragged the last word slowly as if savouring the feel of the three-lettered word. He could not contain his anger, having been accused of fearing someone. Especially Harlequin. He slipped his hand around her waist and pulled her close. She grinned and wrapped her left leg around his waist. Batman was an inch or two away from her face when he whipped out a rope, rolled her in its binding hold, and threw the ends of her captor to hook itself in one of the ceiling lights. Harlequin had her face smashed in the floor once, before she was raised to hang upside down. The disaster crash couldn’t manage to change her expression as her lips remained in the same position as from the one before the downfall. Puckered. She made kissy sounds and tried to wiggle forward to meet Batman’s lips but he took a step back. After many attempts of struggle, she gave up.
With a sigh, she said in a whiny voice, “Aw, Bathunk. Why do you have to play so hard to get?”
Batman bit back a retort that was to spring from the tip of his tongue as the Joker intervened, “Hey, no flirting.” Harlequin’s grin widened as he captured her mouth possessively. “How about we get her down now?”
“I made you an ally. Not her.”
“But she is trustworthy,” Joker insisted, making Batman cock an eyebrow. “All right. Not that much but she is loyal when she chooses to be at my side.”
“But not mine,” Batman said quietly. “The gun she has strapped to her thigh is the evidence. If she wouldn’t kill me, why does she have to hide the weapon so discreetly?”
Joker’s expression cracked. This could not be an easy defeat. I will not allow it. He armed his facade again. “She’s a lady. She requires protection against the rogues of the night.” He wanted to slap himself with a dead fish for having come up with such a lame excuse.
“She is no lady. If she was, she would not have betrayed you the way she desires to.”
Very smoothly Quinn untangled one leg, then another, and in a slow backflip, she was straddling Joker’s neck from the front.
He grabbed one of her ponytails to drag her down but she blocked his move and sent her dagger plunging in his head. He let go of her hair as the first shot of pain pierced through his brain followed by another. He pushed her off him and punched thin air, swaying slightly.
Batman tsked, “Still hard to kill.”
“You betrayed me!” His voice came out broken and his vision blurred.
“Joker, I never thought you would trust someone so easily. Especially the enemy. You were too easy. I can trust a kitten in the dumps to be smarter than you.”
“So Batboy is scared of little kittens now?” He knew that stumbling over words wasn’t helping but his words were all he had and with them he could trust to get to die a decent death.
Brute Wayne jumped to the place Quinn had vacated and with one twist he had his head hanging limp on his neck.
The Joker’s End.
“So, do I get to have the thing I was promised?” she said seductively, standing on Joker’s dead anatomy to meet Batman’s eyes on his level.
He took her face in his hands and kissed the lobe of her ear. “Of course you’ll get the kiss. You deserve it.”
Five minutes later, Batman was looking at his photo albums on the couch of his Manor, feeling better and weightless.
Weightless for not having broken his promise. The promise of giving her a kiss.
A Kiss of Death.
He stifled a yawn and put away his album and stepping over Joker’s cracked head and Harlequin’s dug-out heart, headed to his room to get the sleep he hadn’t slept.
Sleep of the Dead.