Title: Angels and Demons
Disclaimer: I do not own Batman, darn.
AN: So, I saw the Dark Knight the day it came out and I completely loved the movie. It was...wow. I was especially intrigued by the Joker character, he is without a doubt one of the most dynamic movie characters to hit the big screen in years. After watching the movie, I had this little plot stuck in my head screaming to be written. Sorry, no romance or any Joker/OC pairings, as fun as though stories are they definitely belong in the realm of fiction. I have a hard time imagining the Joker falling in love with anyone, except maybe Harley Quinn and even then... Anyway, don't expect any happy, feelings in this story (but seriously this is Batman you shouldn't be expecting any fluff at all). It is pretty dark, violence, suicide, and the like. Definitely strong T, maybe even M. Please review, I really wanna know if I got the characterization right and reviews are very helpful. But please, don't flame me for remarks made about religion. I am a devote Catholic and the things I write here are from the mind of a madman, so...you know, relax and don't get your panties in a twist. Thanks.
AN 2: I went back and fixed up a few errors in grammar that I noticed, so yeah.
"Hey, freak! Get up!"
A piece of walking muscle parading around as a guard for Arkham Asylum banged loudly on the solid steel cell door. He cautiously peered into the small plexi-glass window, craning his neck to see the threadbare cot positioned in darkest corner of the room. He shivered at the sight that greeted him.
The Joker was sitting up in his cot, his arms wrapped around his body, the straight jacket doing its job properly. His legs dangled off the end of the little bed, swinging back and forth, mimicking the motions that a small, bored child would make. His mouth rounded into an O and he was whistling a soft haunting tune. Most disturbing were his eyes; dark, devoid of any commonly known human emotion and wide open and staring straight into the apprehensive face of the guard.
Joker smiled brightly when he saw the flicker of terror run across the muscle bound jock's face. His smile prolonged the look of terror, and he felt a small sense of pride that, even bound and chained like an animal, he could still paralyze people with fear. However, the burst of pride was short lived. There really was no challenge in scaring these idiots. A frosty glare here; a maniacal laugh there; it all got to be rather trite after a while. What he needed was a challenge, or he'd really start to go insane here.
He flicked his tongue over his lips, still slightly surprised by the lack of caked make-up that he had gotten so used to. The guard's eyes flicked to his pink tongue and shuddered in disgust. The Joker smacked his lips for good measure.
"Good evening Steven. Miss me already? You were here only hours ago, I believe that I and your night stick got verrrrry well acquainted on your last visit." He purred and cooed at the disgusted guard. Joker was only slightly annoyed that he had to get his thrills from this dolt. Although, he realized that after playing with Batboy, everyone else would always seem commonplace. How he missed his caped counter-part. Joker inwardly shrugged, soon enough, he told himself, soon enough.
The guard pushed open the cell door and barreled his way across the room, shackles dangling in his hands. "Don't tempt me, freak."
"Freak? Really, is that all your...neanderthalic mind could come up with? There are soooo many options: perversion of nature, a monstrosity, an aberration of the natural, even an oddity would do." He squinted his eyes at the guard, and gave him a look of reproach. "Perhaps I should buy you a thesaurus." Joker's eyes flashed maliciously. "An early anniversary gift...uhh...I understand you and your wife will be celebrating yours soon."
A look of surprise and then horror fills the face of the guard. He roughly grabs the Joker by the nape of the neck. He loops the shackles through the back of the restraints, securing him tightly to the wall of his room. He does the same with the prisoner's ankles, tugging them hard to make sure they were secure. Then, after looking cautiously behind his shoulder, rammed his fist hard into the Joker's gut. He let out a shrill laugh as the air whooshed out of his body, his laugh turning into a series of hysterical giggles as the guard pounded on him again and again turning him into ground beef. Joker let out a wild whoop when he heard the cracking of one of his ribs, reveling in the searing pain.
Less than seconds later, the guard pulled away and straightened his gray uniform. He brushed a bead of sweat off his face as he looked down at the laughing madman with disdain. "Ya have a visitor. Although why anyone would come 'ere, I don't know."
Lifting his head up and cocking his eyebrow, Joker cackled, "You'd be surprised, Steven, I can be," He licked his lips, smiling, "very charming."
Steven made a disbelieving sound and muttered, "I'll bet." He headed to the door of the cell and beckoned to the left. The sound of heels hitting the floor caused the Joker to sit up despite the stinging pain in his chest and look curiously towards the blocked entrance of his prison. He was intrigued, genuinely curious as to who would visit him. Despite his comment to the guard, he didn't exactly have a huge amount of people waiting for his return. Sure there was the errant and crazed fan letter but they never let any of his followers visit him. Apparently they perpetuate his bad behavior and validate his "insanity", go figure.
A moment later his curiosity was satisfied. A petite dark haired woman poked her head into the room cautiously, slowly taking in the scene that greeted her. She was very pretty, with long brown hair and kind doe eyes. She looked like the poster girl for the sweet, girl next door type. The Joker was now enraptured by this new game. 'What was this new toy?' he wondered to himself.
Her low heels make a click sound as she practically tip-toed into the room; the guard appeared instantly at her side with a simple iron barred chair. He set it down graciously and gave the woman an adoring look. "Here you go, ma'am. If this scum does anything at all just call me, I'll take care of 'em." The Joker sneered to himself at the sudden Southern drawl the guard was inflecting instead of the obvious colloquialisms that characterize thugs and brutes.
The woman smiled amiably but curtly at Steven. "Thank you, Steve but I am sure that I will be fine." Her eyes flicked back to Joker and she openly stared at him. He reveled in the attention and leaned back, flashing her a wide grin.
"That will be all now Stevie. Leave the grown-ups to play." He waved his head towards the door, brushing off the guard like a piece of lint.
Steven growled low in his throat and his hands clenched at his sides but still exited the room, letting the woman know he was just outside one more time. He slowly backed out of the room, keeping an eye on the Joker as he backed out of the room. Eventually they were alone.
Neither said anything at first. They just stared at each other. His curiosity was beyond piqued now, he was squirming to know what this bright and shiny toy was. It seemed like years since he last had anything interesting to entertain him, he felt like a kid who was forced to watch the lights dance over the glistening wrapping paper of the piles of presents on Christmas Eve, just dying to open up his gifts. Not that he ever had any presents on Christmas Eve, but it seemed like an appropriate metaphor.
She was just staring at him, not moving, not saying a word. And frankly, the Joker wasn't perturbed in the least bit, a little attention never hurt anyone. He began to preen under her gaze. He tilted his chin from side to side, giving her a full view of his profile. He tossed head and tried to get his fluffy and clean hair to move off his forehead. She seemed to be searching for something, scanning his face, desperate to find it. Eventually she found what she was looking for and her face broke out into a glorious smile.
Thrusting out her hand, she belatedly greeted him. "Hello Mister Joker. I'm Sister Afra." The Joker's eyebrows rose two inches at the title, a sister? He rolled his eyes, was she going to try to convert him? Please, he had already had several visits from these bible bangers and each was as annoying as the next, although none of them were as nearly as attractive as today's visitor. Her hand still hung in front of him, he gave her a look and wiggled his arms a bit. She suddenly realized that he was bound like a wild cat and let her hand drop with a good-natured laugh. "Oh, I am sorry. I sometimes forget where I am." That could be useful, he thought to himself, she could forget that she was in a small cell with a murderer and he could surprise her, snap her neck in two before she could even scream. He filed that idea away for another day, right now she was slightly more interesting alive, slightly. She pulled her hands back into her lap. The Joker said nothing, let her sweat it out a bit. He could tell she would be a chatty one; the silence would unnerve her. She continued on gallantly, "I am here to visit you, Mister Joker. I will be coming by as often as I can and we can just talk. If you want, that is." He just eyed her with his un-made up face. For a fleeting moment he wished he had his finger paint back, he felt almost naked without it and intimidating up-start nuns was so much easier with his war paint.
Despite his silence she continued on. "We have sent other representatives but you have refused to see them. But our organization is persistent, hopefully we will get along well." She clapped her hands and abruptly stood up. She flipped the chair around so that the back rest faced him, she settled back into the chair, her chin resting on the top iron bar. "Well, perhaps you would like me to read to Mister Joker." She pulled out her large bag from her side and rifled through it for a moment. She began to pull out various items: half full Tic-Tac boxes, chapstick, a sandwich. Who the fuck was this lady, Mary Poppins? She (finally) pulled out a large, brown, leather book from her bag and primly opened the cover. Without any preamble she opened to the first page and began to read in the soothing voice of a well-practiced story teller. "On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret-"
The Joker groaned aloud. Anything but Crime and Punishment, did they think they were being clever by choosing that book. Really, if they think a piece of literature would change his whole world views then people are really starting to underestimate him. Maybe he needed to kill some more people. Or blow something up, something Russian.
"Please, stop. If I have to sit through another reading of this I will surely go crazy." He tilted his chin thoughtfully and wet his chapped lips. "Well, crazier. Hahaha hehehehe."
His maniacal laughter seemed to just roll off her shoulders, not fazing her in the least bit. She squinted at him but closed the book promptly. "I don't have any other book with me. Maybe we can just talk?"
He scrunched up his nose in distaste and rolled his neck, bones popping and cracking soundly. "I'd rather not, Sister." With that he clapped his mouth shut, rolling his lips over his teeth and into his mouth.
A flash of uncertainty broke through the mask of serenity but only a flash. Seconds later, she was recovered and smiling like a patient mother. "Well, I do know some stories by heart, but I am afraid they are for children." He doesn't respond, instead he focuses all of his energy on staring unabashedly at her face, as though he was trying to memorize every curve and imperfection he found there. The sister was slightly unnerved by his attentions but pushed her apprehension aside and valiantly continued. "How about Horton Hears a Who?" No response. "I'll take that as a yes. Let me think." He face contorted into a look of concentration. "On the fifteenth of May, in the Jungle of Nool, in the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool, he was splashing enjoying the jungle's great joys…when Horton the elephant heard a small noise…"
"Why are you here?"
The sister's head shot up from its place in between the pages of some cheap dime store novel. It was her third visit, he had thought that after the first couple of dismal visits she would have given up. But she was still here.
"I'm sorry, what?"
He licked his still make-up less lips, his tongue darting out like a snake's. He lifted his chin and looked down at her through lidded eyes. Slow and in a low voice, he repeated himself, "Why-arrrre-yoooou-heerrree?"
She cocked her head to one side and surveyed him with sweet brown eyes. For a moment, Joker allowed himself to imagine how her brown orbs would swirl as he slowly choked the life out her, he imagined they way they would bulge as she gasped her last. She would be wonderful in those last few moments, a perfect portrait of fear, despair, and just a little resignation; the religious ones always had that tinge of acceptance that just thrilled him. He loved that in their last moments they admitted, even if it was only to themselves. That he was better, that they acknowledge that he, the Joker, was right and they could only give in to him.
"Because I love you." It was his turn for his head to snap up. He met her eyes and found her to be completely serious. Well, this one just might be crazier than people think I am, he thought to himself.
"Well, beautiful, don't you think this is moving a little too...mmm...fast. We've only known each other for a few weeks." His smile was grotesquely wide and he was anxious to hear her further expand on her statement. He could honestly say that no one had ever said that to him. Boo-hoo, so sad like he gave a damn but his curiosity was being poked at with a stick and was quickly rising to the occasion.
She continued, "I love all of God's creations and so I love you. Someone like you needs God's love more than other people. I have no illusions of you ever changing, you are who you are and it isn't my job to fix you. I here simply because I hope that, when you're time is up and you are left with nothing, the fact that someone in this world cared about you will bring you some kind of happiness. So I am simply here because I love you."
"Heeheehoohehaaha." His eyes were glazed over with tears of laughter, this broad was something else. "For now, beautiful, for now." Then he threw his head back, banging it hard enough on the tiled wall that he saw stars, and laughed. A bone-chilling laugh that sent shivers up the frightened nun's back. She didn't show up again for another two weeks.
"Why don't you tell me a joke."
His eyes leapt to her face, the sister. She had been coming for almost a month now, or a year. How did he know trapped here in this rat-hole. Wouldn't be long now, he was definitely over this place.
He taunted her, battered her faith, cut holes into her pillars, frightened her, and cursed at her. But she still came back, once a week, sometimes twice. Sometimes she brought books, sometimes not. She sometimes only spoke three words, sometimes she talked the entire time. Either way she was here, now. Asking him another question.
"Why? You are already subscribe to the greatest joke of all." His voice was part sneer, part maniac delight. He loved the way she flinched under his harsh words.
"I love God, Mister Joker. Even if He isn't real, the love I believe I have keeps me happy. Aren't you always saying do what makes you happy?"
Cackling, he lowered his head and looked up at her, casting a horrid shadow over his face. In a conspiratorial tone he whispered, "You 'beliefs' are a lie. There is no such thing as...God, it is just a story that mommies tell their babies so that they behave. How can that keep you happy?"
She cocked her head at him, her eyes bright with youth and excitement. "You of all people should know that truth is subjective. For me my truth is God. That is enough for me."
But what will happen when someone takes that truth from you? Joker laughed maniacally to himself, the plot thickens.
"Why did you become a nun?" The question caught her off guard, the surprise written as plain as day across her lovely visage. He continued, "You are far too beautiful to be a nun. You should be off somewhere spreading those...mmm...lovely genes of yours." She was as red as a tomato and unable to find her voice. So being the thoughtful guy he was, he filled the silence. "Let me guess. Small Mid-Western town." He nodded his head symphathetically, like her empathized with her plight of growing up somewhere soooo boooring. "Moved to the big city, saw all the horrible and...ummm...tragic sights that were wrought by these horrid beings know as humans." A dark smile comes over his face. "But, lo behold, you are able to find solace in the Lord Jesus." He ended with a slight Southern twang, hooting good naturedly. Now giggling wildly, "AMEN!" His shout caused her to jump and his laughter got louder.
A deafening silence filled the room in the wake of his maniac laughter. The sister seemed to regain her bearings and was once again smiling serenely at him. How he would love to bash in her sweet little head. He was curious as to whether it was filled with rainbows and heart-shaped gumdrops, at this point he wouldn't be surprised. He laughed to himself, the image of her cracked and bloody skull dripping in multi-colored blood and heart-shaped brain matter tickling his already sensitive funny bone.
"Actually," she said, bringing him out of his happy musings. "I was born and raised in Gotham." She turned her head away from him, her doe eyes shrouded by a curtain of hair. "My mother was a crack addict and a prostitute, my father was one of her customers. I was also a prostitute like my mother when I hit rock bottom. My pimp killed one of his girls and I testified against him, he was found innocent and decided to come after me." She lifted up her pale pink blouse and revealed an expanse of skin around her hip, the rosy skin was smooth except for the long scar that started just above her belly button and disappeared into her skirt. "He left me this as a reminder. A sister found me hours later and saved my life. They helped me rebuild my life, and I took my vows after I became sober. I chose the name Afra in honor of Saint Afra, who was a prostitute before becoming a martyr." With the word martyr, she looked up into his eyes and he caught a flash of the hollowness that still visibly haunted her.
Well, the plot thickens. He squinted at her and cocked his head to the side, looking her over with scrutiny. He tried to imagine the prim little woman sitting in front as a whore, it was hard but eventually he was able to conjure up a pretty vivid picture. Her face painted almost as heavily as he preferred his to be, her hair done up high and gaudy. She would have worn outrageously high heels (something flashy, hot-rod red perhaps), to counter her short stature. He imagined her, dark rings under her eyes and holes in her fishnets, sauntering up to cars, leaning over precariously and displaying herself like a pageant queen. It delighted and interested him to no end.
She sat there, taking his gaze without blinking once, he had to admire her ability to keep up a brave front. To an average observer, she would seem cool and composed but Joker saw through her like cheap plastic. He saw the way her spine stiffened and the imperceptible way her knuckles whitened as she clenched them tightly. The corner of her lips twitched under the strain and stress of baring her soul to a complete psychopath. He could smell the fear, the fear that he was about to pick apart her brain piece by piece, take it apart and destroy it little by little. He laughed, her fear was well justified, that was just what he planned to do.
He watched the cogs turn as she tried to figure out what his next move would be. "So, you want to die for your faith?"
The shock on her face was priceless and it elated him to no end. "Haahaahohaheehee." He broke out in uncontrollable laughter, tears of mirth peaking out of the corners of his eyes. Her fear filled the room with a beautiful stench, it was practically pouring of her skin in waves.
Clearing her throat, she averted her gaze. "No, but I would if that was what God wanted."
"Well," he said with an evil grin, "you just might get lucky one of these days." She shivered visibly. A smile still on his lips he wiggled imperceptibly in his chains. Weeks ago he had gotten a hold of a pen and made a makeshift lock pick. He had long ago convinced the doctors and guards that the straight-jacket wasn't necessary, so he was only cuff by the wrists to the metal bar of the bed and by his ankles to the concrete floor. He gave his feet and wrists a simultaneous and harsh jerk, becoming free almost instantly from the already unlocked cuffs.
With a powerful lunge he flew over the table and slammed the girl down on the floor, she didn't even had time to open her mouth before he had his hands around her pretty little neck. He squeezed tightly making even the slightest noise impossible. She didn't squirm or twist at all, her body frozen in fear. Only her eyes moved, frantically flicking back and forth like a trapped animal looking for escape. Her fear fed him like a drug.
"Shhh shh-shh." He petted her hair with his free hand. "We wouldn't want Stevie interrupting us now would we." He ran gentle fingers through her hair, at the last moment grabbing a handful and yanking hard causing her to violently flinch away. "Shhh shh." He resumed his soft stroking, delighted as she began to tremble horribly. "Do you think this is what Go-d wants?" He gave special emphasis to the word God, flicking it off his tongue like a swear word. "Do you think this makes Him...mmm...happy? A little boy, playing with an ant hill and a microscope. Laughing...as we all burn under His scrutiny." He ran a crooked finger over her cheek and across her chin, stopping at the soft flesh where the chin and the neck meet. "Do you think He would care if I killed you now? Hmmm?" His finger traveled down further and joined his other hand at its place around her neck. "It would be sooooo easy. I could just snap your neck, you would be so lovely with a broken neck."
She whimpered pathetically and it filled him with disgust, he would have thought she'd of had more fight in her. To see her so pathetic was…disappointing. Ahh well, can't let this fun go to waste either way.
"If I killed you, what would be your last thoughts?" He squinted at her, taunting and teasing her with his cruel words. He lowered his voice an octave and whispered, "Tell me."
Instead of loosening his grip on her he squeezed tighter, making speaking impossible. "Tell me." He said in a singsong voice. "No? Well, then I will tell you." His tongue flitted over his lips in his excitement, his eyes widened and his heart hammering. "Your…lassst…thoughtssss will be, 'where are you, God?'. Your last thoughts will be of His...betrayal," His almost sing-song tone dropped on the word 'betrayal', and his voice became deadly serious. "He left you when you needed Him most." His eyes were big with sympathy and he nodded his head as though he was empathizing with her rather than threatening her life. He moved his mouth to her ear and whispered so quietly that she could hardly hear what he said, "Where is He?"
Then just as suddenly as he came, he pulled away from her and returned himself to his place on the cot, cuffed and chained as though nothing had happened. She, on the other hand, lay there unmoving, hardly breathing and, for a moment, Joker worried that he had broken his toy already. Eventually, a harsh gasp clawed its way out of the throat and she rolled on her side, wheezing and wrenching for breath.
"Haahaahaahoohee. See you next week then?" She rolled onto her other side and looked at him as though he was a mad man, can you imagine the thought. "Haahaaheeheheho."
She didn't show up again for almost a month, one long month of the same doctors, guards, and inmates. Apparently she told them of their little 'encounter' and he was once again put back into that damnable straightjacket. Additionally, as a little punishment, Steven had come into his cell late at night and taken a razor to his green tinged hair. He had shaven him to near baldness, making sure that he took generous chunks of flesh along with it.
When she entered his cell, the Joker could tell right away that she was on the edge. It was nothing that any other person could see, nothing tangible. Her hair was perfectly in place, as usual. Her eyes held no signs of insomnia or constant nightmares. Her dress was immaculate as always. And she smiled like there was nothing at all wrong with the world.
But it was there and he could see it. Maybe that was where his madness laid, in his ability to notice everything. People often made the assumption that he only paid attention to the half the things that went on around him. The truth was the opposite, he noticed every small movement, twitch, and even smell that passed by his consciousness. And because of this, he was able to tell right away that she was on the edge, all she needed was a little push from him and she'd be just as broken as his good friend Harvery. He inwardly giggled, destroying the human psyche was just soooo much fun.
She sat in her usual spot across from him, in her little steel chair, kind and loving as ever. Straightening her skirt she finally met his eyes, even if for only a moment and he could see the palpable fear. Her doe eyes rounded even wider and made her actually look like a trapped deer cornered by a hungry wolf. "So how have you been, Mister Joker?" The second she opened her mouth she averted her eyes away gratefully.
"Truthfully sister, I have been feeling pretty...uhh...bad about our last visit. I hope I didn't scare you toooo badly." His words sounded completely sincere and honest but the dark gleam in his eyes said otherwise.
"No," her voice came out as a squeak, she cleared her throat. "No, not at all. I am sure you didn't mean it."
"Of course not sister. I would never want to pound your pretty head into the tiles of my boooring cell, not even a little bit." His words were smooth and his tone charming, that was what unnerved her most.
"I am sorry that they had to put you in a straightjacket again," it was her turn to sound insincere, not only did her voice betray her but the way her eyes scanned his bound body, looking for any hint that he could escape. "But I had to tell them what happened, I couldn't in right conscious let you be a danger to yourself or to others. You understand, don't you?"
He gave her one of his hundred-watt smiles, scars and all. "Sure, sure." He ducked his head and inclined a little closer to her, loving the way she leaned back further into her chair. "But, can I let you in on a little secret?" Giving her a conspiratorial look, he continued, "I could get out of here anytime I wanted to...if I was so inclined. All it would take is a little...patience." She looked stricken and pale, a lovely combination in his opinion. "You see...uhh...as much as this place seems like a well-oiled ship, it is more like a cruise line. These doctors and guards and little nuns," he winked at her good-naturedly, "they all think that they are safe with me secured all tight like this. But the truth is, that the only reason that they are still alive is because I see fit. You see, I am…I am…a magician! An artist…an escape artist. And like any good magician the key to success is distraction, slight of hand, diveeersion...I grab their throats and squuuueeeze with one hand, having their focus completely and foolishly devoted to the hand that is wringing the life away from them." He paused, reveling in the memory of her aanic-stricken face. "While with the other hand, I inject a little bit of arsenic into their system and they never notice until it is far too late. Then...like magic...they are dead. Heeheehaahaahaa!" He was now bouncing up and down, cackling like the madman the world believed him to be. She was shaking now and small beads of sweat poured of her hairline. The sweet little nun looked like she was just given a death sentence. "Oh, don't look so worried. I haven't done anything to you. I mean honestly...where could I get arsenic in a place like this? Surrounded by Gotham's lowest scum and some of its more corrupt group of guards, really a girl like yourself should have more common sense than to believe a silly thing like that." He trailed off in a series of echoing chuckles.
She was quiet for a long time, probably trying to figure out whether or not she had been poisoned during their last session. Eventually she realized that if he had poisoned her she would have been dead long ago and she was able to breathe again. Finally she returned his harsh stare and he was surprised by the emotion he found there, curiosity and maybe a little hatred. "Have you ever regretted being a murderer?"
"Why would I regret a thing like that?" His expression was completely serious and devoid of his usual insane smiling.
"Because you took something precious."
Now he did let out a little laugh, although it was more like a derisive snort. "Life is NOT precious. It is commonplace and usually wasted. Think about it, what are these little people doing? NOTHING!" She jumped at his sudden outburst. "They are amoebas perpetuating their own life, killing them is no worse than stepping on a couple of ants. Really, people have to just to justify their existence, so they slap a FRAGILE sticker on them and send 'em off." He was now gesturing wildly through his restraints. "All that you believe in is a LIE! Allusions that people keep up so that they don't go as crazy as me. Tell me who made all of the rules and moral laws that you follow? People. Scared old men who wouldn't accept that their lives don't mean a thing. So why would I feel regret over destroying something so ridiculous, especially if it opens people's eyes to the truth."
She looked wounded and then angry. In moments she was on her feet, her eyes were blazing with passion and for a second he caught a glimpse of the woman she was before she hid behind her habit. "That's not true. Life is precious. Our lives mean more than that. We are special; we think, we feel, we love. Why would we be granted that ability if our existence meant nothing. Why would we be given the ability to think if all there was to see was our own hopelessness? Why?"
"Because your God is cruel." He could see tears of belief filling her eyes and her face was flushed with anger.
Her eyes were hard and focused, glassy with conviction. With a quiet voice filled with sadness and self-righteousness, she whispered, "I don't believe that." With that she turned and disappeared out the door.
And you know what, he believed her.
It was an average night in Gotham city. The air was drenched with the pungent stench of pollution and human bodies packed to closely for comfort. The buildings loomed over the dirty streets staring down at the few brave (or stupid) souls who would dare wander about this late at night. The sound of a gunshot whistled through the air, breaking the steady hum of rolling cars, crying children, and loud arguments. The residents hardly noticed the sound, the sound of gunshots no longer anything new or surprising, a typical occurrence in their dangerous world.
In this dismal neighborhood, a haggard convenience store stood precariously among the tall residential apartments. The bullet ridden walls of the store, like so many residents of Gotham, had seen more than its fair share of robberies, gun fights, and murder in its time. And, also like the citizens of Gotham, it had become cynical and hard, no longer shocked by anything that happened within it bleak existence.
So when a small well-dressed young woman found her way to its entrance, looking more dead than alive, her kind doe eyes glazed over; it wasn't surprised in the least bit. Nor was it surprised when she made her way to the back of the store, immediately going for the largest bottle of whiskey, popping it open right there and taking a hearty swig. Nor when she tried to leave the store without paying, the cashier calling to her and pulling out a small handgun, demanding that she pay. Nor when she turned, half seeing, and said, "What are you going to do? Shoot me?" Nope, the store had seen stranger happenings and this one just came and went like every other. You get used to everything, after a while.
The young woman didn't even turn as the cashier cried out in anger and frustration at his inability to take her precious life. She left without a backwards glance, a Mona Lisa smile on her face.
She continued on her way, hardly noticing the side-long glances and open mouthed stares she received. What did it matter anymore? She found her way to a dilapidated motel. Its flickering neon lights and the grim covered walls called to her. Inside, the motel was just as rundown as its exterior, the staccato ceiling, filled with mold and the smell of decay. The patrons of the motel, also reeking of decay, hardly notice when a slightly intoxicated woman stumbled into the establishment. They were all derelict people finding shelter from a derelict city.
She slapped down a wad of cash to the man behind the desk, not even bothering to ask the price of a room. The owner, glanced over her quickly, shrugged his shoulders and removed a key off the rack behind him. As she turned and made her way up the creaking stairs, the owner shouted out, "If you are planning on using one of my rooms to entertain some gentlemen then I expect ten percent of whatever you have by the end of the night." She waved an errant hand at him as she disappeared up the steps.
By the time the young woman reached her room she was shaking, from fear and hopelessness. He had gotten to her and she was helpless to stop the feelings of despair. She finally was able to jam the key in the hole and toppled over herself in her effort to open the door whose hinges had nearly rusted it shut. Once inside she took another deep swig of the whiskey, no longer noticing the way that it burned down her throat. Slowly, she began to remove her clothing piece by piece, methodically removing her blazer, then her conservative blouse and skirt, until she was completely naked. She folded her clothes carefully and placed them on the lumpy bed.
She made her way to the bathroom and was surprised to find that it was only mildly disgusting, an old flicker of her former self feeling a slight sense of gratefulness at that. She turned the knobs of the shower to steaming hot, closing the door and letting the room fill with steam. On the sink she placed her gun and her bottle, both gleamed under the bright fluorescent lights.
The room was now foggy, just like her mind. She couldn't think straight. She knew, that he had believed her when she said she didn't accept his version of the truth but the moment she had left the asylum her conviction wavered. She could feel herself slowly acknowledging his reasoning, she was slowly starting to see the logic behind his madness, she was starting accept what he believed.
And it scared the living shit out of her.
She had worked too hard and too long to go back to that life. She wouldn't let herself get to that point, she couldn't allow it.
She slipped into the shower and the scalding water burned her sensitive flesh, it ran down her skin and scrapped at her scalp. Despite the painful way it scrubbed her skin, she liked it, needed it. She reached for the bottle on the sink and slide down to squat in the shower, the water now pounding away at her brown hair. She took another deep gulp of the whiskey, the shower water mixing with it to dilute it slightly. The burn still prevailed and her eyes watered.
She polished off the bottle in moments and tossed it out and onto the floor of the motel bathroom. She now reached up and grabbed the gun, with shaky fingers. She raised it carefully to her mouth and tongued the barrel of the gun, relishing the tangy taste of metal in her mouth. She kept her eyes open, savoring every last detail of life. Her last thought before pulling the trigger was, "At least, I didn't give him the satisfaction of being right." She squeezed the trigger.
Somewhere in the dark cells of Arkham Asylum, shrill peals of laughter broke out in the maximum security ward.
Contrary to what you hear in stories, in the battle between good and evil, there are hardly ever winners.