The Joke's On You
Warning: This second chapter contains both torture references AND character death. If either of these things bother you, turn back now.
Chapter 2: Joker's Game
The warehouse was dark, eerie. Windows had been busted. A deserted truck sat motionless in front of the loading bay, and no matter what direction Bella turned her enhanced senses to, no signs of human life greeted her. And, suddenly it dawned on the girl that this time she was quite alone.
Still the young mother pressed onward, into the darkened warehouse. "H-Hello?" she spoke timidly. And then, finding her courage, Bella continued more loudly, "Is anyone here?!"
"Are you alone?" a disembodied voice returned.
Suddenly a single over-head light turned on, illuminating a figure bound in chains and dangling above a large vat. "Sulphuric acid – enough to melt through even your kind's stone-like skin..." the voice whispered within Bella's ear as a presence pressed itself against her body, causing a cold shiver to run down her spine.
"Isn't it amazing what one can cook up using nothing but simple house hold cleaners?" the voice continued almost gleefully, a slight edge of pride tinging its tone.
Bella quickly spun on her heel, however as she turned, she discovered nothing but empty air behind her. A confused expression based over Bella's face, but then she heard the voice again. "Looking for me?" Turning around once more, the girl saw a mangy looking 'man' hovering next to the chained up figure.
The man's hair was long, unkempt and... green. He wore a purple suit, and had a face so pale that, even in the darkness, Bella felt sure it had been painted white. Yet, the man's most distinctive feature was not his suit, nor his painted face, it was the horrible disfiguring scars that ran up both side of his mouth.
"Wh-what are you?" the girl exclaimed in a mixture of shock and revulsion.
"Me?" the man replied as he pointed to himself. "Why, just the restless spirit of a pitiful clown, of course. Though, I am sometimes called... The Joker."
"Such a pretty, young thing you have here," the ghost continued as it ran a hand through the chained figure's hair, drawing out a soft, fearful whine. "Shame on you for letting her go out with that pedophilia wolf-boy. Don't you care about her at all?"
"Y-You, Monster! What have you done to her?!"
"Why nothing obscene, I assure you. Of course the little one wouldn't stop crying, and I had to do something about that. I simply can't stand an unhappy child. Come on, Nessie, chin up and lets show mommy your smile." So saying, the ghost tilted up the chained girl's face to reveal deep gouges running from the ends of her lips up and into her cheeks. "See? She's much happier now."
"You... you horrible man!"
The Joker laughed. "Really? Horrible man? Come on, is that the best you can do? I've been called far worse than that, Toots."
Enraged, Bella leapt at the figure, but she simply passed right through and fell back to the ground on the other side.
"A bit dull, aren't you? Didn't you hear me say I was a spirit? I can allow solid objects to pass right through me. Of course... I can also project my energy and form solid shapes as well." As if to prove his point, the grinning maniac turned the chain suspending Renesmee above the acid, formed a small knife and held it to her throat. She whimpered and twisted slightly as he slowly traced it from side to side, the ethereal blade cutting ever so slightly through the child's olive skin, leaving a faint, red trail as it went.
"So... no more funny business from you," the clown cooed as he moved the knife to his mouth and licked the blood from the blade. "That's my job."
Bella wept, and could feel her heart breaking as she realized that this terrible, psychotic spirit held all the cards. She nodded submissively then tilted her head back up at the pair. "Please, I came alone, as you asked. Just... just let my daughter go."
"Oh, would that I could, Sweets. Would that I could. But you see THAT decision isn't mine to make. That depends entirely on her parent. Now, close your eyes, and hold still."
Bella hesitated, but then the ghost grabbed her daughter's hair and jerked it, causing the child to whelp in pain. In an instant, the knife was back at her throat. "Do, as I say, or she dies... NOW!"
Bella nodded once more and closed her eyes. Then she felt metal being wrapped around her, and her body being lifted from the ground. A few minutes later, she was given permission to open her eyes once more; and when she did, she found herself suspended above a second vat of chemicals.
Bella watched in fascinated horror as the ghost, unhooked the anchoring end of Renesmee's suspension chain and linked it to Bella's. Now, they were both each other's counter balance. And then, suddenly, the Joker was hovering beside her once more. "There now. Of course, with you're enhanced strength you could snap those chains; but even if you managed to angle your fall to avoid your vat, you'd be killing your daughter."
"But... but you said you'd let her go if I did what you wanted."
"Oh, dear me..." the Joker's face fell into a mock frown. "Is that what you thought? No, I said the choice was her parent's – how self centered you must be to think I could only mean you."
"B-But if not me, then... Edward!" Bella exclaimed, realization dawning on her.
"And give the girl a prize," the Joker replied in a grandiose, over-the-top tone.
"Why? For love of course."
"Oh, does that surprise you, that one such as I could still love? Does a ghost lack a heart... metaphorically speaking, I mean. Am I not able to be moved by long, flowing hair, fiery blue eyes, soft, exotic skin... Oh, and if you could've heard her laugh*..." the ghost replied, actually sounding wistful.
"But... but what does love have to do with this?"
The Joker stared hard, eyes a light with barely constrained rage, at his captive. "SHE rejected me! She had her servant banish me... even after I saved her from an idiotic, psycho mantis*. Banished, I could do nothing but drift through the world, an impotent observer, unable to interact with anyone in the land of the living."
"And then," he growled, "And then I saw you... you and him – all lovey-dovey in your perfect little world, your story book romance that has no place in this world. You mocked me, mocked all those who suffer the pain of love lost. You think you deserve it? You DO NOT! And now, now you will pay.
"I've been watching you for nine months now, just waiting for tonight, waiting for Halloween when the boundaries between worlds blur and all of Earth becomes a nexus for spiritual energy. We ghosts are given one night each year to roam free. Many use this as an opportunity to make amends for what they did in life, or to say goodbye to lost loved ones. But *I*... You should consider yourself honored, for I am using my one free night this year to kill what you hold most dear!" The monstrous apparition finished with a whisperer into the girl's ear. "I am going to make you hate him."
Bella's eyes widened. "I could never hate Edward!"
"Really?" the Joker responded as his lips pulled into a sick smirk. "We shall see... we shall see.
"I'm sure your bo' has already read that pedo-wolf's mind. He'll be here soon. But, until then... Wanna know how I got these scars?"
As soon as Edward found out what was going on, he rushed to the abandoned warehouse, intent on saving his wife and child and grinding the psychotic clown's face into the tar. Of course, prideful Edward didn't bother to ask any of his 'brothers' or 'sisters' for their help. After all it was only one, miserable psycho, and Edward was more than confident he could take that bastard out on his own.
However, as Edward entered the warehouse, the confidence did somewhat drain from his face, as confusion and a strange out of place feeling filled him. The two girls he loved most in the world were bound and suspended with chains. And in between them a very bizarre looking creature hovered, as he sat cross legged and plucked the strings of a glowing guitar.
"And that's why you never open a bag of chips with a chain saw*," the Joker sang, in a folksy tone, to his captive audience. Then he seemed to become aware of Edward's presence. "Oh, finally... You do know it's rude to keep people waiting, don't you?"
"Who," Edward began but corrected himself. "What are you?"
In the blink of an eye the hovering spirit was standing right in front of Edward, its hand extended. "Joker's the name, and laughing's my game... Put 'er there."
Edward raised an eyebrow but, compelled by his thoroughly ingrained manners, extended his hand anyway. And then he felt the kick of a practical lightning bolt coursing through him.
"Oh, they always get a charge out of this one," the joker quipped before releasing Edward's hand, and letting his sizzling body drop to the ground.
Of course, Edward recovered quickly. He bared his teeth at the ghost as he rose to his feet and prepared to pounce. However, the Joker had already disappeared again.
He almost immediately reappeared hovering behind the chain which connected the two girls. "What's the matter, Eddie... can't take a joke? Hmm, well, maybe you'll like the next punchline better. You see this chain? Well, I'm going to cut it, sending both of these lovely ladies to their doom. Of course, with your speed, I'm sure you can save one of them. So the real question is... which one will it be, Eddie boy, the love of your life... or your own daughter? Inquiring minds want to know."
"You're... you're mad."
"Just now figuring that out, are we? And here I thought you were suppose to be the smart one." The Joker shrugged. "Oh well, on with the game... One... B..." Suddenly the Joker's appearance shifted into that of a tall, bare chested Arabian, wielding a huge sword. "Hassaaaaaan CHOP!*"
And with that, the Joker brought his sword down, cleaving the metal chain in half. Edward only had a split second to decide. He could save one... but not both. And, though the thought pained him, he knew that there was really no choice at all. He couldn't live without his Bella; his love for her overpowered all other feelings, even those for his own daughter. Edward leapt at Bella, and knocked her away from the deadly chemicals.
Of course, Renesmee plummeted into her vat, and perished with a high pitched, blood curdling scream, one that tore at both of her parents' very souls.
Bella snapped free of her chains and laid a wallop of a right cross on Edward's jaw. "How could you do that?!" she cried in anger and pain; and then she collapsed into a weeping, mass of mush. The Joker was right; she hated her husband. For saving her and condemning their daughter to death, she hated him. And she hated their love for driving him to such a decision. But most of all, she hated herself, because some small, selfish part of her had actually felt relief when Edward's body impacted her own.
Bella wept for a few moments. Edward tried to go to her, to comfort her, but she could only push him away. And finally, he decided to just let her go through the grief. Standing a few feet back, he watched helplessly as his wife broke down completely.
Then he turned and spying the Joker, Edward felt an unprecedented rage grip him. He leapt at the clown, kicking, punching and biting like a rabid animal. But, the ghost simply went intangible and let the strikes flow through him like a fork through soup.
Meanwhile, Bella, continued to morn the loss of her daughter, the only daughter she could ever have. That was, until the grieving mother felt a light hand on her forehead and a familiar voice called to her. "M-Mommy, please stop crying."
"Renesmee!" Bella exclaimed, looking up into her daughter's face, a face that was once again free of scars. The mother tried to pull her daughter into a hug, but her arms passed right through the child's form. Still, Bella smiled broadly. Even if her daughter was now a ghost, at least she hadn't lost her completely.
It was then that the Joker appeared beside the two, causing Renesmee to go stiff as a board and silent as a grave. "Hmph," the Joker huffed. "Don't get too attached, Belly. When the sun rises, she vanishes into nothingness, just like the rest of us. Unless, of course there's a nexus around."
"Yes, there are those who bridge the gaps between worlds, though they are very rare." Leaning in and grinning, the Joker continued in a sly, suggestive tone. "Of course, there is a way for you to become a nexus yourself... all you need to do is drink the blood of one who is."
Seeing the look on Bella's face, the Joker felt positively gleeful. He knew that determination. To get her daughter back, the girl would do just that. Not only had he done irreparable harm to the girl's love, but he'd just caused her to turn her back on her 'vegan' ways as well.
She would find a nexus. Then she would kill him and feast on his blood. And then... then he'd be free to torment the American, faux vampires all year long. His plan had worked out perfectly, in every detail. Yes, for the Joker, death was good... and Halloween had always been his favorite holiday.
*Seras Sees Dead People reference
*Geist Kreig reference
*Looney Tunes reference (come on, I HAD to get in at least one).
(Happy Halloween, and God bless.