It was a dark, cold night in Gotham's Narrows. Wind rustled the leaves of the few trees that dotted the street, and the feeble lights were barely able to illuminate anything. Most of the lights in the windows had been extinguished now. Gloria Wright wrapped her coat around her tighter as she walked. Normally she wouldn't be out that late, but she had had to work an extra shift after a colleague called in sick. She could use the extra pay anyway, but she hated walking home at night. The narrows simply weren't safe, now that criminals were getting back on the streets after that mess with Scarecrow and Batman. There was no longer any fear of caped crusaders, and that made the streets more dangerous than they had been in a long time.
Gloria hoped that wouldn't be a problem as she ducked into an empty alley. But her heart almost stopped when a figure stepped in front of the exit. She stopped in her tracks, and then backed away and turned. Maybe it was just someone walking the other way? Perhaps she looked foolish. But she couldn't risk it.
Before she could exit the alley the way she'd come, it was blocked by another man, and this time she got a better look. He actually wasn't bad-looking, and she mentally chastised herself for the thought. He gave her a wolfish grin and said, "Hey, honey. It's dangerous out here. You should be careful. You never know who might be lurking."
A voice behind her said, "Like us."
Gloria turned to look at the other, and could see him better now. She could also see something moving swiftly behind him, getting bigger. A dark shape. Her eyes widened as it came into view. A blur with wings that pounced on the man, who fell to the ground. Gloria stepped backwards, away from it, and turned to see the other man doing the same. "What the fuck..." came his reaction.
The thing, whatever it was, was easier to see now. It looked like some kind of bat, but huge. At first Gloria thought it was another Batman, but this was something else. Inhuman. It screeched at its victim as it tore into him, ripping chunks out of his flesh.
The man next to Gloria reached into his jacket and got out a gun. Gloria flattened herself against the wall as he pointed it at the creature, which saw him and made an even louder screeching sound. It was deafening, and they clamped their hands on their ears, but the sound seemed to bore into Gloria and she fell to the ground.
A moment later, the sound stopped. Gloria got up, slowly, to find that the creature was gone. The man on the ground was clearly dead, and the other was recovering still, so she bolted out of there. He made no effort to stop her.
Detective Frank Teague sipped his coffee to try to wake him up as he approached the scene of the crime. He needed the boost especially this morning- he'd gotten there late because he was somehow still tired even after a decent night's rest. But he had a job to do.
His partner, Nora Sharp, was already there and talking to the ME. The ME pointed to Frank and she walked over to meet him. She was new, having only just been promoted to detective, but she was good at her job. She seemed committed and innocent. It was charming, but Frank knew it wouldn't last, especially now. Their jurisdiction was in probably the worst place in the city. Frank only survived in the job because he played the game like everyone. She'd learn.
Frank winced at the sound of her voice, which was way too loud for his brain to tolerate. "Jeez, inside voice, please. No need to shout."
Sharp looked confused for a moment, then continued "Okay. We've got an interesting one here. ME says it shows all the signs of an animal attack. As far as he'd concerned, an animal killed these people."
Frank smiled. "Good. That means we can hand it to Animal Control. Case closed."
Sharp shook her head. "Not so fast. We've got two witnesses. Apparently two men cornered a woman in the alley. Before they could do anything, the victim, as in the dead one, was attacked. Then the thing disappeared."
Frank shrugged. "Still sounds like an animal attack."
"Yeah, sure. An animal shaped like a bat, the size of a man."
Frank frowned. "Okay. That changes it a bit. A Batman wannabe?"
Sharp cocked an eyebrow. "Maybe before commenting, you should listen to the rest?"
Frank made a motion for her to continue and she told him, "They got a decent look, Definitely not human. I quote, 'It looked like what we thought Batman was before he became Bruce Wayne'. He said it was definitely not even a little bit human, and wasn't wearing any clothes."
That gave Frank pause. The only thing close to that description was...
"Come on," he told his partner. "We're going to see someone."
Frank took one last look at the dead guy before he left. A part of him was glad he'd been stopped before that woman had been hurt. That part wondered if maybe this would stop the crime in the city from getting worse.
Dr. Kirk Langstrom's flat was a modest one-bed place, but it was in a decent enough area. It was a change from the sizeable house he had lived in with his wife. Truth be told, Frank didn't relish the idea of seeing the man again. He'd only had a brief conversation with him last time, but he had been a mess. Langstrom had just been... changed... from being a hideous, bat-like creature. Frank didn't know whether to hope this latest event was him. He didn't like the idea of this man being made to suffer even more than he already had, but this was the only lead they had, so it would wrap up the case pretty neatly.
A few moments after Frank knocked on the door, it opened. Langstrom looked better than last time, but not by much. He hadn't shaven in a little while, and he didn't smell great either. He looked Frank over and didn't even seem to notice Detective Sharp next to him. "Detective. What can I do for you?"
Frank gave him an amiable smile. "Hey, doc. Do you mind if we come in?"
Langstrom motioned for them to enter and they did. The place was a bit of a mess, but wasn't too bad, all things considered.
They sat down and Frank asked, "There was an incident last night. Somebody died, and witnesses say a creature shaped like a bat was responsible. Something that looked an awful lot like..."
"Me," Langstrom finished.
A pause. Then, "We just wondered if you had relapsed."
Langstrom shook his head. "Ever since leaving the hospital, I've worn a monitor, like the court order says. It feeds directly to the hospital. If I changed, trust me, you'd know. I'd be in a cell."
Frank thanked him for his help and they headed back to the precinct. They'd check, of course, but Frank was getting the feeling that this wouldn't be so easy./pre