The resulting paperwork was a nightmare. No one could quite make up their mind about just what had happened or how it should be classified. Some suggested terrorists, others pointed at the mobs, the papers theorized about a cult, others still spoke of the wrath of god, conspiracy theorists claimed the government was to blame and finally there were those who called it a natural disaster.

Scientists were unable to completely explain the creatures encountered by the police force. The Mad Hatter's strange devices were likewise beyond comprehension. The mysterious woman mentioned in police reports was dismissed as a possible culprit, but the Gotham Post ran a story about her leading a pagan cult anyway, the story backed up by witnesses encountered in the seediest of bars. The word super-villain started appearing more and more frequently in news reports and daily life.

Half of those who went missing during during the bloody summer were never found, despite the police's efforts. The city wept and a monument was raised where Gotham Plaza once stood, a memorial to those lost forever.

A month after the incident, Bruce Wayne returned from Europe, looking unnaturally pale and thinner than anyone had seen him before. Gossip magazines published shocking reports of drug abuse and the public reeled in shock and pleasure at their Prince's refreshingly normal escapade.

By the memorial at Gotham Plaza, a man is killed. His blood mixes with the rain and seeps into the ground, down, down, down into the dark tunnels below, till it reaches a curious growth. It almost resembles a face. And as the blood soaks the plant, eyelids flutter and a pair of impossibly green eyes open in the mud.

Above ground a man aims his gun at his second target, a young woman trembling on the cold, wet ground, her eyes darting between the dead man and the gun staring at her. The man frowns in grim determination and steadies his shaking hands, pointing his weapon straight at her heart.

A burrowing sound halts his work and they both gaze toward the source. There is nothing visible. The woman gets up on one knee but the gun his back upon her before she can move further. The man breathes deeply and swallows, rain and sweat pouring down his face.

Then something crawls out of the ground. Both turn again, her eyes wide, his jaw slack. The thing, a stick figure with only half a chest, stands shakily. His mouth opens and closes like a fish on land as it slowly starts shuffling towards him. He raises his gun and fires once, twice, taking a small chunk out of one appendix. The thing doesn't seem to notice.

He shuffles backwards and falls as it closes in on him. He raises his hands and tries in vain to speak. It finally seems to notice him and puts an imitation of a hand, cold and rough, on his head. He starts shaking. The thing raises its head and stares up at the sky with wide, green eyes, its whisper barely audible.


It lowers its head again, its eyes unfocused, staring somewhere into the distance. It doesn't move for a few long moments, his breath coming in strained gasps. Then it pats his head absentmindedly and shuffles away. Its head is only a mask, a large chunk missing from the back of its head. He stares at its retreating form until it vanishes from sight. He slowly turns his head again and looks at the woman sitting a few feet from him. They stare at each other in the rain, shivering.

And so days pass and the seasons turn and the city heals. Night falls and brings new wonders with each passing.

Death smiles as the sky lights up behind him, his cackles made immortal by the media, his visage made an icon of rebellion.

Fear made flesh stalks a damp, dark cellar, shrill screams rising ever higher behind him. His is the name forgotten people fear.

Mystery smirks as his hands weave in and out of people's lives, both leper and king forced to dance.

Freedom races across the rooftops, her presence never felt. The public smirks at her exploits, cheers as she strikes the nigh untouchable upper class.

Wrath stares at the coin as it flies, the corpse of the city's white knight returned to haunt them. The left hand feeds the poor, his red right hand pulls the trigger.

Delirium does a mad little dance as he takes new friends to the land of Nod, wherein he rends their minds asunder.

A dark savior runs through the night, his presence felt by all who would prey on the weak and all who have lost hope.

The city's prince smiles and waves at the cameras as he steps into a black car. From a puddle on the street, his crooked reflection laughs up at him: Waugh, waugh, waugh.

And the city changes with each narrow escape, spawning bizarre minds as year after year of strife passes. For as a great man once said: What doesn't kill you, only makes you…stranger.

AN: Apologies for the lateness of this. Don't know why this took a month.

Nightmarish paperwork! AAAAAAH! I promised horror did I not?

So. End of the story: Realism has been thrown out the window, here death means nothing if you have a name, every single day of the year a master-plan is going on, Batman shrugs off mortal wounds without batting an eye and Gotham is destroyed once a week with no consequences. Reality is mostly boring anyway.

I thought about having the man simply stand up again and finish the job, just for that extra ounce of delightful depression. But no, perhaps an open end is better.

As always, reviews will be met with a disdainful sneer.

Anyway, a few points I could have done better, read only if you wish:

Poison Ivy: Setting someone up as a apocalyptic style villain and then showing from her POV doesn't quite work out. There's her chilling: "So I said, heh, I said to him: How do you like them apples? Hahahaaa...What? Ugh. Again? Alright, alright, ahem. Attention, City of Fools! I am angry, blah, blah, kill you all, blah, blah and so on and so forth. We done now?"

Keeping her serious all the time got pretty boring. Then I realized, after the last chapter, that she could have a plethora of moods. She's a nature-themed villain, so why not let her have the many facets of nature as moods? Crazy mood swings from one encounter to the next, different attitude depending on the season, makes her more confusing and allows for more humor in her character. I thought of this while listening to the Roots, so that validates it.

The paradise thing sounded good, but I'm starting to think of her as pretty pagan, what with the respect for nature as opposed to the "earth is property of mankind" mindset. Also fits her faux-bum-rebellion thinking: The notion of private property is silly to nature-lady.

Batman: I need to get better at writing him. He pretty much does nothing but be heroic. Very little personality beyond "I must stop some people and then save some people." This can be excused partially by the whole apocalyptic style, but still. A pretty necessary part to a Batman story.

Villainous plans: These things are hard.

Moderation: Putting a truckload of villains in one story is fun but gets a little confusing. Or very.

Bums: Could have been something, but I got sick of them. I am an evil, lazy author.

So. Thanks for reading this little thing, it's been fun, if ever so slightly flawed.

Next on my agenda: Scarecrow horror one-shot, probably call it November. Ometochtli: Next in Riddler-Catwoman friendship thing series. Mr. Zsasz short story, as yet unnamed. Something with Two-Face, haven't actually decided anything other than I'll flip for his decisions, might make things amusingly random.

See you around.