Author's Note: Last week I wrote the following, rather hastily, for a fanfic competition I stumbled across on LiveJournal. The basic rules were: a drabble of no more than 500 words, and it could be set in any version of Batman continuity as long as it somehow reflected the assigned theme of "Haunted." The first idea which came to me for such a drabble involved Barbara Wilson, the Batgirl character played by Alicia Silverstone in Batman and Robin in 1997. (Don't ask me why, though. I don't remember ever seriously considering that character for a fanfic before!)
There's No Such Thing as Ghosts
She's never told the other members of their little "family"—and probably never shall—but even after months of regular visits down here, being alone in the Cave can still give her the creeps. Barbara's no hobbit; she doesn't enjoy being surrounded by tons of dirt and rock in all directions at even the best of times. But she's never been particularly claustrophobic; she can sneak through sewer tunnels in downtown Gotham without batting an eye if that's the proper way to approach an objective. There's something different about this underground locale; she's certain of it!
It's not so bad when others are around—Batman, Robin, Uncle Alfred; any of those can give a feeling of companionship and take her mind off other things as she converses with them or goes through sparring sessions. But when she's alone, she keeps feeling that ghosts are circling; unseen, unheard, but somehow responsible for that half-felt, half-imagined sensation on the back of her neck . . . sometimes she even thinks she can feel cool tendrils of ectoplasm crawling into her head, as if trying to whisper something . . . but of course that's just her overactive imagination! Who believes in ghosts in this day and age?
She keeps telling herself it's just a reaction to her body's subliminal awareness of the ultrasonic frequencies used by the actual bats who infest these caverns. Which should be no biggie; she has now lived here long enough to have completed the three best sets of rabies immunization shots, one after another, at Bruce's insistence, so how bad could the occasional bite really be?
Yet these fancied sensations still grate on her nerves.
So of course she makes sure to be down here alone, for at least an hour at a stretch, at least four times a week. Barbara has her pride—no cave is going to intimidate the new Batgirl into turning chicken! Sooner or later her nerves will have to adjust!
Suddenly Dick's voice says through a loudspeaker: "Batgirl? There's some dude called The KGBeast running amok down here. I guess he didn't get the word about the Cold War being over? He's bigger, stronger, faster, nastier, and packing much more firepower than me. I could use a little backup . . ."
"So kind of you to think of me," she says dryly, then sprints for the nearest Batcycle.
Behind her, something stirs (in a nondetectable sort of way). This English girl is potentially much more compatible for a psychic link than those headstrong males who so often visit this place. Yet each time the phantom is starting to make contact, subtly influencing that brain's thought processes, something such as this happens—and Batgirl leaves at breakneck speed.
Ah well . . . she always comes back in the end. Sooner or later the night will arrive when she doesn't have a good excuse to scurry off, and then the phantom will finally establish a link that shall be worth having!