Summary: As a fulfillment of his promise if Batman did not reveal his identity and turn himself into the authorities, the Joker manages to break out of Arkham Asylum and wreak havoc on the residents of Gotham once again.
The points of view will vary depending on the people involved in the situations at hand. It will be told in 3rd person omniscient, but more subjective than anything.
Paragraphs in italics are flashbacks.
Chapter One: Vicious Traditions
The edges of his lips never needed to be licked. He just liked running his tongue along the healed length of jagged flesh every once in a while. He liked the feel of it. Sometimes, depending upon his mood, he would run a finger up the length of his Glasgow smile, pondering the wisdom of deepening it someday.
But the urge to always left him when the thought of how he acquired his gruesome smile in the first place came about. He could always play out different scenarios; they always seemed to fit the puzzle. However, which one of them was true was the real problem there.
In a relentless attempt to answer the question himself, he took to telling each of those many different stories to various people. He always told the version that seemed to be more truthful to him at the time. Of course they believed. They always believed. But after he was done telling the story, his faith in it seemed to lose it's meaning. So yet again he was stuck with the same question.
It was the repression. That was definitely what it was. He couldn't come to a certain conclusion about anything in his past life because of it. He forced himself to forget. Whether it was because the past was too horrible to call to mind or he just wanted to let it go for the sake of this new life, he could not decide. His former mind knew, though.
Sometimes a glimmer of an involuntary image would come at the times he least expected it. They were images of things that he could not string together to make even a probable memory from. They were always unrelated to each other.
He remembered one time, whilst robbing a mob owned bank, a broken toaster popped up in his head. Another time, he was in Gotham General Hospital, perfectly disguised as a nurse as he peered blankly at some sap's medical records. He saw a bent spoon, caked with a cereal of some kind, laying against a small heap of scorched flowers. It could have been related to some weird game he played as a child; that is, if he ever was a child. There was no evidence on the planet to support that.
As always, he never knew. Those random images never bothered him, though it would be nice to know what they meant. Not because he needed to know, but for the sake of knowing. It was the same with the purpose of his new life as an agent of chaos.
Mass suffering was not needed to make this world go round, but, as always, it turned a boring day into a very interesting one. One could even say fun when his favorite person showed up to save a city of worthless people.
And so his mind wandered from place to place in this manner, from pondering irrelevant things to crucial ones.
The thug at his side glimpsed once at his boss' expression. He quickly averted his eyes to the window seat, calling to mind a rather vicious memory. He didn't like to be stared at. Atleast, not ceaselessly by just one person. He liked a large audience. Maybe if they all stared at him like that man did, one of their henchmen would still be alive.
Instead, they only watched helplessly at the murderous spectacle as the Joker clearly explained, for everyone to hear, that he did not like the man's glare because it reminded him of his father.
And he hated his father.
The Joker made that apparent as he managed to get the man to back up into a corner where a shadowy implement of torture awaited him. Those dark eyes, accentuated so evilly by the black make up surrounding them, forced the man to cringe in helpless intimidation.
"What are you doin, boss?" the man inquired with a shaky voice as he tripped over his own useless feet, causing him to land on something that forced a blood curdling scream from his throat.
The Joker smiled. He reached up and pulled down on a string coming from the ceiling, causing a light bulb to flicker and sway to and fro from it's original place. The introduction of light allowed the rest of his goons to see what he had fallen on. It was the chair of spikes.
"Now, uh, this little do hickey is called 'the chair of spikes'. People used this back in the medieval times to get a confession out of a suspected witch or heretic. It's not very comfortable, is it?" he asked the man. They were all fooled into thinking that it was a rhetorical question. It wasn't.
The man was trapped in the chair; the impact of the fall had driven the spikes so far into his flesh that, should he be removed, he would die of excessive blood loss within a few minutes.
The Joker's smile was relentless. But in the view of the men who were within close range of him, they could see that his real lips contorted into a frown upon hearing no reply from the whimpering man.
"Y-yes!" The man spluttered, crying out in agony.
The Joker then grabbed a big mallet from a dusty shelf of aged torture devices. Grasping it firmly in his hands, he released a cackle and brought the mallet down on the man's head.
It was difficult to free himself of the enthralling memories of what the Joker had done to all the previous henchmen who had, unfortunately, caught his attention in a way he didn't appreciate. He couldn't ignore the feeling that he was bound to end up like them. His employer was a ticking time bomb.
Beneath the clown mask he wore, he was perspiring excessively and had a conscience tortured by worry and fear for his own life. With this new found anxiety and fear, he found himself thinking of all the horrible things that the Joker proved he was capable of, and all the atrocities yet to come to mind for him to execute.
This man seemed completely detached from anything that made him human. Empathy, compassion, mercy...the list went on and on. Biologically speaking, he was a man. In all other senses, he was a monster bent on issuing the advent of Armageddon.
To top it all off, he was sitting just a few inches from him a car headed to...
Wait. Where were they going?
The question had begun it's torment on his mind until, fortunately, the man driving spoke up.
"Boss, where we headed?" He asked casually. The man in the back seat compressed a gasp. He really didn't know the true nature of the man he was talking to, did he?
"We...are, uh, going to...Little Ones." The Joker replied, his brows slightly lifting. A faint annoyance stung him the moment his diverse thoughts were interrupted. No matter; he would kill him later.
"On Forty Second Street?" The driver mumbled to himself, breathing a small sigh and taking a turn down another street. "That's pretty close." He said, though more to himself than the Joker. "Thought we were headed to the bank."
"The mob can wait. I want something different." He smiled, giving birth to creases on his face. He slouched back on his seat and peered out the window, almost in the likeness of an excited child.
The man at his side gulped, trying to disregard the desire to wipe his perspiring forehead. But fear kept him still. Fear kept him still for the rest of the trip.
Finally, those dreaded words had been uttered.
"We're here." The Joker said with a chuckle, adjusting his purple jacket and preparing a big smile for his unsuspecting victims.
All eight men stepped out of the car, taking out their guns and loading them; others adjusted their masks and opened their duffle bags, pulling out guns and the like.
The buff, but plump man who had driven the car stopped dead in his tracks while the rest of the group continued walking up the causeway.
This couldn't be where they were going. There has to be a mistake.
The Joker grasped the handle and licked his lips, narrowing his eyes. "What?" He said hoarsely.
"This is a Day Care center." The man said with mild confusion in his tone.
"I'm glad to see you can read, you lug!" said the Joker, unleashing his trademark laugh.
Three hours and twenty six minutes earlier...
The sight of the dawn proved to be an eyesore, as it always was.
As she peered at her scars, she remembered how she could not fathom the reality of her life anymore. Though those scars were from so long ago, she still could recall very vividly to mind how she had received them.
He had came home in a drunken stupor.
He was angry. Of course he would be: she had not removed the tables and vases prior to his advent. In his clumsy state, he would trip over them all, causing a multitude of sounds to erupt by the front door. That's how she knew he had finally come home.
Those fists. She knew the sight of them so well. She knew just when his fingers would withdraw into themselves, when the veins would become engorged with the fury in his blood.
She knew it all too well.
The vermilion luminescence that seeped into her room lit up her skin, causing hundreds of those jagged lines across the underside of her arm to take on a light pink hue. She must have stared at the wounds for an hour, not really thinking of anything at the moment.
"Mommy?" A small, fragile voice broke the suffocating silence of this lonely bedroom.
The child was just shy of three years old. His hair was thick for such a young age, in her opinion; the recently cut, brown hair fell just short of his bright blue eyes. It made him look like he was hiding something. She loved that his head was bowl shaped; it only made it easier to bestow kisses upon his head. He would always give her that annoyed whine, and she'd stop and smile at him.
She almost felt like smiling when that cute little whine popped up in her mind. That too, she knew well. But her listlessness kept her from doing so.
Those blue eyes questioned her, as they always did. But she could never give a sufficient response.
She couldn't say he was lost. She couldn't say he was at work. And she couldn't tell him the truth, either.
It broke her heart, knowing a child so young was already acquainted with the ways of the world.
"Mommy..?" The boy tilted his head slightly, expecting either the usual lie or the unusual silence.
The world and every ounce of pain it had bestowed upon her suddenly collided like a powerful wave into her consciousness. Now she was aware that her son was addressing her.
"Why are you up?" She said, her voice lethargic. She wasn't so sensible to her surroundings in the morning, no matter how long she had lain awake in that bed, pondering everything that had been destroyed to everything that was yet to be.
Wordlessly, he slipped a pink, folded piece of paper out of his pocket, sauntering up to her in the clumsy trademark of a young child. He placed the paper in her hand for her to unfold. She read:
Parent Participation Day!
All parents wishing to attend, please be at Gotham's Little Ones Daycare Center & Nursery School at 8:30 am, for food, story telling, and much more fun!
"Why didn't you give this to me earlier? I don't understand why you wait until..." her low voice trailed off when a unsettling memory came to mind.
Those eyes. So black. Like his soul. And ceaselessly he berated her with them. Nothing was enough.
Every little detail of his face pounded itself into her mind, leaving a permanent mark on her. He struck her down again.
A smile formed on his lips. One of those sinister smiles. His lips tore away from each other so maliciously to reveal white teeth gnashing against each other in anticipation.
"Mommy?" His little fingers poked at her side. The unwelcome jolt of a tickle ran up her skin, startling her from her reverie.
"Okay?" His expression flowed in worry, accentuated more deeply by his small frown.
The boy then began humming the tune to the dark lullaby she had sung to him many times before. Slowly brought to life by the melody he brought to her mind, she began to hum softly, which turned to mumbled singing once the tune reversed itself back to the beginning. He didn't know the words, he only knew the solemn rhythm. Though the memories the song elicited were so unbearable, she decided to bless his little attempts at getting her to sing.
"Come to me...we never be apart...the soul you seek is me...no more pain...no memories remain...now you can play...with me..."
It seemed only her arms, so tightly clutched to the steering wheel, were not lifeless and dumb. Her mind and being were entirely in another world. She felt as if she had left reality long ago, and the city she drove within was only another figment of her desperate consciousness to flee from an inner terror that, doubtlessly, she would never escape from.
As her son sat in the back seat, crashing two colorful dinosaurs together as if they were involved in an epic brawl, he was secretly thinking about his mother's state of mind. His eyes would glimpse at her every now and again as she stared blankly into the street before her. She seemed to know what she doing so well that it no longer required any thought.
Dad liked to hit her. He liked to hit her a lot. But he didn't understand why. If it made his Mommy so sad, why did Dad continue to treat her like that? Was she really doing something wrong?
Mom wouldn't let him do anything. He was always too young. But his underdeveloped mind always told him that he could be a big boy if he really tried, like the choo choo train that could. If a train could do it, why couldn't he?
He ceased the fight between his toys as he came to the unsettling answer.
That's right. He was too small.
She failed to dignify his calling with a response of any kind, so the boy just assumed that she heard. She just didn't do anything because if she took her eyes off of the road, they would crash. And then he would get into trouble. At least, that's what she always told him when he scolded her for ignoring him.
"I'm dirsty." He pouted, setting his dinosaurs down on his lap.
"The paper said they would have food there, Adrian. Mommy'll get you something to drink when we get there, okay?"
He didn't understand why she couldn't just make a Capri Sun magically appear in her hands like she always did at the dinner table, but he reasoned that a drink would be waiting for him when they got there, like Mommy said. She always told the truth.
The anticipation was driving him more insane than he already was, but he liked the feeling of his burning consciousness ebbing away at his senses. Something—he wasn't sure what that something was—simply took him in such a way that he knew it would not relent until it had been satisfied. Not that he minded at all; in his inactive days, he would patiently wait for it to claim him again.
He immersed himself in this excitement as he sauntered up to the front entrance of the Day Care center, with wild, chaotic thoughts passing through his mind in the course of mere seconds. Though the thoughts were fleeting, he saw them as if they had actually ran their achingly slow course in reality, and he had experienced them all.
A smile—and lord knows he can't help a smile—spread wide across his face, deepening the self-infliced crevices on his marred cheeks.
He grasped the handle, about to pull it, but the voice of one of his goons interrupted the flow of swift flow of action. He was not one to ignore—his father ignored him when he was a child, or atleast, he thought he did—and he wouldn't stoop down to doing something that his father would do.
"What?" He answered coarsely, so much that he actually surprised himself. Is that how he always sounded when someone interrupted his trail of thought?
"This is a daycare center." The man said, slightly perturbed at the idea of what the Joker had in mind for a place as innocent as this. Now, he was a pretty ruthless man—everyone who knew him told him so—but were they actually going to kill children? And for stacks of mob money that might not even be there?
In the point of view of the Joker, this world would be far more tolerable without people like him running around—asking all their dumb questions and such. But he reassured himself with the notion he had entertained in the car: none of them were going to get out alive after this anyway. He didn't need a group of low lifes trailing him around, no siree.
But he might as well congratulate him for his literacy before he died, eh?
"I'm glad to see you can read, you lug!" The Joker cackled, pushing open the door and slipping out his handy dandy gun from his suit pocket simultaneously.
The woman at the front desk was instantly terrified. Her elderly face contorted in terror and realization at the criminal mastermind that stood before her. She had seen him plenty of times on the television. A truly horrific sight, indeed: the stringy, greenish- black hair that draped his shoulders and strewn itself about his face, the blood red lips that shared the appearance of two, crimson worms curling upward, and the blanch white face that resembled the demented clown he was. To top it all off, his eyes were black. So. Very. Black.
"Well, hello, Ma'am." His eyes widened in mock interest as he needlessly licked the corners of his mouth, tasting the red makeup. "What's the matter? Whya so scar-ed? Don't you like clowns?"
The woman let out a gasp. Unfortunately, her last move was not an intelligent one. She reached for the phone, intent on calling 911. He let out a laugh, and lifted his gun to the woman's horrified face.
The explosion of blood and brain matter splattered everything that lay behind her: the desk, the telephone, the window, the plants. Not a thing left untouched.
"Tried to call the coppers, but I made you water the plants instead." He chuckled, opening the door to the back counter and analyzing the mess he had made with apparent approval.
The woman died with her eyes closed. He would rather have them open and wide for him to see. One of his little quirks were always wanting to see the light leave and the irises dilate.
He didn't particularly believe that humans had a soul—he was in no way religious—but he did believe that something left the body. Whatever enabled the human body to exist—a relentless electrical spark or some unknown chemical in the blood, among his theories—dissapated instantly in death.
But she died with her eyes closed. That only meant that he had to see the light leave from someone else's eyes.
The Joker kept this thought in mind as he roved about the room, cutting all of the phone lines should any survivor try to call the cops while he was still in there. Arkham wasn't part of his agenda today.
Then again, he didn't want to leave any of the rooms without confirming that everyone who were present in it were either already dead...or atleast going to die without freedom of movement.
But he supposed this procedure was a 'just in case' thing. After all, the human body is capable of some pretty awesome things. In some instances, humans were capable of playing possum; the animation and even noticeable breathing can be suspended for a time, and when the person retrieved their senses a while later, they could get help.
He wanted to prevent that from happening, too. Good thing he brought his handy dandy remote.
He casually stepped out of the room, swaying his head so a messy clump of hair fell back onto his head and out of his face.
The men stood there in awe, helplessly studying the bloody mess upon the wall. One of them accidentally dropped their duffle bag. The Joker smiled in appreciation. At least they knew now who they were dealing with now.
He narrowed his eyes deviously, clapping his hands together with renewed enthusiasm. "Alrighty, boys...here's what we are, uh, going to do today."
" 'Little pig, little pig, let me in!' the wolf roared, banging on the door of the straw house. 'Not by the hairs of my chinny chin chin,' said the pig. The wolf was mad now. So he said real loud--"
"Let me in you fucking bitch! I'm not fucking playing with you! I swear I'm gonna kill you!" He screamed with vehemence, demanding entry with words and brute strength. He banged on the door relentlessly and kicked it with his boots.
She wouldn't let him in. Not if he was screaming and yelling bloody murder like that. He had also threatened the child's life also, so now he definitely was going to be outside all night.
"Mommy, I'm scared. He's so mad." Adrian sobbed, clutching her fingers for consolation as they sat on the floor of his bedroom, awaiting either the sound of the door being torn apart or the beckoning of the police to drop any weapon he was sure to possess.
A few moments later, the door broke. "Honey, I'm home!" He laughed maniacally.
"Miss? Miss?" A elderly woman lightly tapped her shoulder, smiling sweetly as she peered from behind the small story book.
The woman was thrown into cold reality in an instant. Her cheeks began to flame, and she looked around the room to imbibe her surroundings. She sat with her child on the floor of the room, where an old woman was situated before them with a book in her hand, having been interrupted from her story telling by something she did.
"Are you alright?" The elderly woman asked with concern in her soft tone.
The woman slipped a few, curly black strands behind her ear and cleared her throat. "Um, yes. I'm quite alright. Continue."
A few of the adults issued her jeering glances, others issued glares. They all seemed like a big class full of children with the way they were staring. Were they just so engorged with the story of the three little pigs that she deserved those looks?
The woman took in a breath full of air, now knowing that the dialogue had driven her into a memoir about an episode with her husband. That time, she barely made it out alive. Adrian had to convince him to cease the grip he so firmly held around her neck by crying out for her life. He took pity on his wife just as she was about to die and threw her to the ground.
"Pay attention!" said an angry, short haired, blond girl. Her blue eyes entranced the woman for a moment. Adrian had those same eyes. He looked exactly the same when he was angry, too. How cute..
The woman smiled weakly, slightly amused at the girl's insolence. The mother of the blond girl shushed her and apologized for her daughter's behavior. The woman gave a listless nod and turned back to her son. "I hope I didn't embarrass you."
Adrian only smiled in response. She assumed he did not understand what she said, only acknowledged it.
The elderly woman licked her dry lips and then began to read the rest of the tale with as gentle a voice as she had begun with. "Then I'll huff and puff and--"
"Little piggies, little piggies! Please let me in!" broke a unsettling, mocking voice on the other end of the door. "You wouldn't want me to blow your houses down, would you?" The Joker knocked hard on the glass panel, releasing his trademark cackle.
Upon recognizing the notorious man who awaited entry, a few parents cried out in shock and terror. Among their cries were: "It's him! It's the Joker! Oh my god!"
Seeing that he was not going to gain entry into the room by asking 'nicely', he decided to use force. For him, it made the experience more enjoyable.
Suddenly, the knob disassembled itself and fell onto the ground, resulting in a loud clank. The Joker wore a huge grin for his new targets as he strode merrily into the room, bearing an axe in his hand, which he used to disengage the knob.
The parents and children scattered, retreating to various corners of the room. The old woman dove under a nearby table, commencing her pathetic sobbing. Adrian and his mother did not react so apprehensively to his entrance. She simply took her child in her arms and backed away slowly, wearing a look of mild surprise.
He pulled out his remote and displayed it to the quivering crowd.
"Anybody know what this is?"
As expected, everyone was too paralyzed with cowardice and dismay to answer.
"Well, allow me to, uh, educate you all..." he said, dragging the sound of the last word as he pressed the button. A green light lit up, causing a few people to whimper, dreadfully waiting for a sudden explosion.
"This...is simply a remote. But you don't turn on the TV with it," he bared his yellow teeth as his smile grew wider. "You obliterate things. And that...is that is exactly what I'm gonna do if you don't, uh, participate."
"My henchman are guarding every single room on the opposite side of the building. When I press this button—" he displayed it for all to see— "What will happen is that another remote will respond and detonate on the other side, obliterating the nursery school and all within. But this will only happen if anyone tries to cross me."
"Now, what I want you to do is segregate yourselves into two groups: parents and children. On each corner of the room." The hand that held the remote swayed as he pointed to where he wanted the two separate groups to be. The parents had the right side, the children had the left.
One person got up, which gave the next person the strength to stand, and then the rest of the crowd got up as a whole, several fathers and mothers ordering their children to quietly walk to the other side of the room and stay together. In the course of a minute, the two parties situated themselves on opposite ends of the room. They awaited his next command.
The Joker poked at the side of his mouth with the reddened tip of his tongue. "Kids leave. Parents stay."
A mother cried out the name of her child and withdrew herself into her husband's arms for consolement. And slowly, the children courageously stood and left the room. He watched them all as they left, his black eyes darting from child to child, until his gaze fell upon one he liked. Instantly, he slipped out a pink piece of paper from his pocket and said, "Ah, ah, ah...Adrian...you stay with me."
Adrian froze in place while the rest of the children scurried out. His eyes steadily trailed up the body of his new captor, only to stop at those disheveled, red lips.
"Momma..." he inaudibly wept, his lip quivering at the sight of this scary man who, doubtlessly, was going to hurt him.
"It says here on this, uh, little pink piece of paper that your birthday...is about a week from now," he began, bending down his level and cupping his little chin in his palm. "Isn't that right?"
For the briefest second, his eyes darted to the wide, tear filled, frantic ones of his mother, who quickly nodded to him upon realizing that Adrian would probably be harmed if he did not answer. Wordlessly, Adrian nodded.
"Well, if you want to live to see your birthday, you'll choose a parent out of the crowd to sacrifice their self for you. And if you don't..." he brought the remote to his face, "I will kill you...and all of your friends...and your mommy and daddy."
"I'll do it!" The woman screamed, jumping up out of the squatted crowd. "I'll save yo--"
Before the last of her sentence could be uttered, the Joker pulled out a gun from his pocket and shot her in the shoulder.
Blood splattered over the wall as she fell against it, evoking screams and outcries. She slid to a stop on the ground, clutching her shoulder and panting loudly. Still she averted her gaze to his, begging, pleading.
He was amused that she was not paying much mind to the fact that she was shot—only the threatened life of her son.
"Feel like saving him now?" He inquired, a grin creeping across his face. Boy, she really needed to wake up. Who the hell did she think she was dealing with, anyway? He asked the kid, not the Mom!
Still she averted her gaze to his. That silent begging. Those pleading eyes.
Having come to his decision, he pushed the boy aside and walked up to the crowd, who released more screams and cries as he inched closer. He violently yanked the woman by her thick heap of curly black hair and pulled her out of the group of cowards.
Being stilled by fear, her limbs did not want to cooperate. They only hung like useless appendages. When he let go of her hair, she simply fell into a crumpled heap on the floor. That annoyed him.
"Oh, get up!" He snapped, reloading his gun just a few inches above her head. "If you wanna save your son, you'll use your fucking legs!"
She whimpered and immediately sprang to his command, standing up as if she had been electrocuted.
She couldn't bring her gaze to his. It was unbearable. Those eyes were so black.
"Look at me." He said coarsely, grabbing her by her neck and shaking her head to and fro. She did as she was told and met his basilisk glare.
He was faintly surprised that the woman's hands did not spring up to free herself. She willfully submitted to him, even knowing that he could easily tighten his grip and deprive her of oxygen in an instant. His eyes softened somewhat at her apparent desire not provoke him any further.
"So...you still want to save him." He bluntly stated, licking his lips again. "Do you have any idea what's going to happen to you?"
The woman listlessly shook her head, trying to make it seem that she did not want to release herself from the hands clasped around her neck.
That's right. She really didn't know. Her stomach almost heaved at the thought of finding out, but she held it in. She held it in for her son.
"What are you, uh, willing to do?" The Joker questioned softly, loosening his clutch, thus allowing her easier speech.
She swallowed hard and squinted her eyes closed, thinking of her son crying out in terror. "Momma! Momma!"
The trigger was pulled moments after he uttered his last words, the bullet veering straight for his head.
She shuddered involuntarily at the thought. No. She couldn't let that happen. Never.
With a quivering intake of breath, she replied, "Anything."