Chapter 9: A Little Nyghtmare

"All right, you three, Town Hall. Now."

Lock, Shock, and Barrel groaned. Their bathtub followed. At least Jack was nice enough to let them keep their candy---but only after they finished their punishment. The gate to the town went up as they arrived. The Gatekeeper shuddered as they passed, but looked relieved that Jack was with them. It was after midnight, so the festivities were over. The rest of the citizens were disappointed that their Pumpkin King had not been there this year, but they cheerfully celebrated anyway. After all, it was their favorite night of the year.

Lock, Shock, Barrel, and Jack kept moving until the reached Town Hall, to a frowning and very upset-looking Mayor.

"You're going to get it now!" he exclaimed.

"That's enough, Mayor," said Jack, leading the threesome inside. "I'm going to watch them and make sure they finish properly."

The Mayor's head immediately flipped around to his happy face. He grinned.

"Have fun, you three," he said, walking off with a spring in his step.

Lock, Shock, and Barrel looked up at Jack.

"You are going to finish cleaning Town Hall."

"...With toothbrushes?" asked Lock.

Jack smiled.

"I'm feeling wonderful tonight, so no."

Lock, Shock, and Barrel grinned and cheered.


The threesome froze.

"---Since you enjoyed taking the decorations, the three of you may take them down."

Lock, Shock, and Barrel's eyes went wide!

"You mean---" Barrel stared.

"Every decoration---" Shock continued.

"---In the whole town!" Lock exclaimed, finishing it.

They looked around. The citizens went all-out this year. Decorations literally were everywhere, from the rooftops to the streets, from town square to the gate, from Jack's tower to Dr. Finkelstein's laboratory on the far end of the town.

"Aww!" they whined.

"That's not all," said Jack. "You will also be helping around town. You can help the Mayor file paperwork. Without giving him any trouble. And then after that, you may help the witches reorganize their ingredients. Without mixing them around. And then..."

Jack continued on, naming citizens and tasks that they could do.

"Great," Shock whispered. "We won't be done until Christmas!"

"Yeah," Lock agreed. "But it was fun while it lasted!"

Barrel grinned.

"...And then after all that, you can help pull weeds in the cemetery..."

Lock, Shock, and Barrel sighed. It was going to be a long two months until Christmas.

Batman and Robin entered Arkham Asylum, marching the Scarecrow along. Some of the newer authorities stopped what they were doing to stare, the older, more experienced orderlies just shrugged. It was perfectly normal for Batman and Robin to bring in one of their higher-class rogues. The Scarecrow looked defeated and distraught. Batman brought him to two of the tougher-looking orderlies, then turned to go, planning now to find out what information Crane found on Kentworth. Jonathan, on the other hand, went with the orderlies without hesitation. They passed by several cells of the other inmates.

"Hi, Professor Crane!" Harley Quinn called from her cell.

"Good evening, Child," he replied softly.

Harley grinned. Not many of the other inmates greeted him as he passed, most of which did not respond because they were asleep. However, there were some who were still awake just past midnight. Poison Ivy casually tended to her rare roses, before she turned in for the night. Two Face flipped his coin out of boredom, unable to sleep. The Riddler was entertaining himself with a book of puzzles and Killer Croc had been sedated to the point where a herd of wild elephants could not wake him up. Even if Croc were awake, he would not have cared.

"I say, Jonathan. You didn't get to use those chips at all, didn't you?" came the Mad Hatter's soft English accented voice.

Jonathan shook his head, surprised that he, too, was still awake.

"Batman discovered the scheme and put a stop to it before I could get the Rejectz to attack at midnight."

"But I see you made an Alice."

He held up the Alyse doll. Jonathan nodded.

"A small token for the chips, Jervis. I thought you'd like it."

"But why is her head on backwards? Curiouser and curiouser."

Jonathan was unable to reply as the orderlies pushed him towards his cell. A loud, jolly voice rang out from the cell next to his. The Joker, no doubt.

"Did you have fun playing with dolls, Johnny-boy?" he asked, laughing.

Jonathan ignored him as the orderlies brought him to his cell---which, unfortunately, was right beside the Joker's.

"Never knew you played with toys," the Joker said with a grin. "I always thought you were just a boring old bookworm."

"Shut up," Jonathan muttered.

He sat on his bed and slumped against the wall. Perhaps if he made himself boring enough the Joker would leave him alone. Jonathan looked around, doubting it. The clown never left anyone alone if he could help it. He found The Legend of Sleepy Hollow on the little table beside his bed, right where he left it before his escape. He picked it up and pretended to read, in order to dissuade the Joker from bothering him.

"Still a boring old bookworm. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

'Shut up," Jonathan thought, knowing more than well not to say it aloud. Telling the Joker to shut up usually only made him more annoying. He would let those imbecilic guards do the idiotic thing of telling him to shut up. They always did, and they never learned.

"Shut up," said the guard next to the Joker's cell, right on cue, as though he read Jonathan's thoughts.

The Joker's attention immediately shifted away from Jonathan and towards the guard.

"Ex-cuse me!" the Joker exclaimed. "I'm trying to hold a decent conversation with the dear professor!"

"He ain't talking back, so shut up."

"And what if I don't want to?"

The guard did the entire A-Wing a favor, got a few cohorts, and went inside the Joker's cell to sedate him. Four of them held him down while one stuck a sedative into his neck.

"You all suck!" and a chorus of laughter were the last words anyone heard from the Joker before he fell asleep.

"Finally," Jonathan breathed. "Peace and quiet."

He watched as the guards did their rounds. It was lights-out at the asylum, which he was grateful for. Jonathan lied back on his bed. After making sure there were no guards near, he reached into his coat and pulled out the little Nyghtmare doll, the original inspiration for the scheme and his favorite out of all the Rejectz. He gently stroked her long, straight black hair and touched the doll's one bat wing.

"Such a perfect scheme...and you are all that I have left of it."

He took both of her tiny left hands into his, then sighed.

"One day, my dear. One day, this city will know the true meaning of fear and terror."

Jonathan smiled softly, holding the Nyghtmare doll in one hand, stroking her long black hair with the other. Her white face, piercing green glass eyes and black, expressionless lips stared back at him. He frowned, then glared at the wall.

"Especially the Batman."

(A/N: I am hoping you have all enjoyed this fanfic. It has been a while since I have written any fanfiction at all---and with The Nightmare Before Christmas characters at any rate.

VampireNaomi: I considered ending at the last chapter, but I am not like most authors. I felt this a far better conclusion.

Spaceman Spiff: Above average is always good. I think I read "Noboy Likes a Snitch" at one point...or skimmed through it...the title sounds familiar.

killinjoke: It is about time! Though short, it was nice to get a review from you. Thank you for the ending. Speaking of which...

A special thanks to killinjoke for the very end of this story. Pulling the Nyghtmare doll out at the end was her idea, ((not to mention a bit of an inside joke...)) and she must be credited.)