4.) House of mirrors

the bat does not go to arkham often, and he is only here now because he was asked to. the hallways dripdripdrip with leaking water and the doors creeeek when opened. old, older than the narrows that hold it, old with age and neglect. it is always dark there, as if the light of the outside world refuses to enter.

the commissioner, gordon, holds the door open for him, straight line mouth and eyes tired of madness and death. the gatekeeper. abandon all hope all ye who enter here.

they walk together, past the dripdripdrip, the creeek, into the darkness. a decent into hell.

i don't think this is a good idea, the commissioner says, pushing up his glasses. he licks his lips, a sign of nervousness, a sign of weakness. he'll talk, sure, but it won't be anything useful.

the ramblings of madmen, they are, but the bat does not care. he knows what he is doing.

the joker. his grin stretches across his face, too big, too bright, too cheerful. what can i do you for, batsy? he grins through his carved smile. he grins, and the bat frowns, because he is not in the mood for games today, he is never in the mood for games.

i want to know what you did, the bat says.

the joker's grin does not fade. it never fades. but where's the fun in that? you should never give away the punch line of the joke.

the bat's expression does not change. blank, bland, cool. i know you were working on something. i want to know what it was.

what makes you think i'll tell you, batsy? i'm crazy. i don't know my ups from my downs.

the bat stares, eyes black and yawning, but the joker does not notice.

i'm not crazy, he says. i just act that way sometimes. and laughs and laughs and laughs until the men in the white coats come and take him away.

gordon is waiting. did you get anything? he asks. he is nervous. he is tense. he does not belong in here, lost in madness.

no, the bat says, disappearing into the darkness before they can take him away, too.