The Riddler's Riddle
It would have been a good day. It would have been a perfectly wonderful day if she had never met him. Perhaps had her friend not forgotten her lunch, she would have never met him. But she did.
Anna hurried down the hall. She was counting the doors, trying to remember which one was Dr. Renolds'. The last or the second. Was it the one with the glass window or the steel grated door? The hallways seemed to reach for miles and twist around the Asylum without direction. Left could have been right in this prison of bleached linoleum and florescent light.
Myra had been her friend ever since the beginning of med school. Myra became a psychologist after a thoughtful look at her career path and Anna a nurse practitioner. They had remained friends through college and moved to Gotham City, not together, but at the same time. Since their arrival to the city, three years ago, they had followed their career paths successfully. Gotham was never at a lacking for injuries nor psychological issues.
She was walking with her head down, eyes unfocused, and paying little attention to anything in her path. Myra had pleaded with her earlier to bring Myra's lunch to the Asylum, Anna had at first declined under the fact that Arkham Asylum housed some of the most dangerous criminals in the world. But Myra was a very persuasive psychologist who had pulled an all-nighter with not a scrap of nourishment. Anna could not refuse.
With a loud thwap, she collided into something. She looked up to view the damage she had caused, and realized that it was not something, but someone, she had stumbled into.
Her eyes slowly moved up, revealing green eyes, red hair and a red jumpsuit. When her eyes finally reached his face, his eyebrows were quirked in a questioning stare, and a smirk on his face."Oh, I'm s-so sorry," Anna's voice quivered.
"One must be careful walking down these halls. You never know who you might encounter," challenged the strange man.
A shiver ran down Anna's spine. Anna vaguely detected a threat in the green-eyed man's words, but simply shook it off as a feeling of paranoia. After all, why would a dangerous inmate of Arkham be allowed to roam the halls freely? She was not walking the high security hallways that very few, save the most hardened of individuals could stomach to visit.
Despite her mental reasoning, Anna clutched the brown paper bag that was her friend's lunch tighter to her chest. Just because the hall was marked on the lowest spectrum of dangerous didn't mean this man was harmless. She continued to nervously crinkle the paper of the bag she held, panicking at the inmates proximity. This, however did not go unnoticed to the man.
"My, my, my, what have you got there?" grinned the man, while he pointed to the bag with a flourish.
"Uh-uh, nothing," stuttered Anna, now getting increasingly antsy, having noticed that there was no one else in the surrounding halls to save her.
"Oh, a riddle is it? Well, I'll have you know that I'm quite good at solving riddles, conundrums, or any other puzzle you might have up your sleeve for me." He rubbed his hands together and stared at Anna without really seeing her.
"It's just some food, I swear!" shouted Anna, her heart pounding and palms sweating.
"Now, now, it's no fun going and spoiling a perfectly good riddle, without challenging the contestant's intelligence!" pouted the red head, now going from creepy to depressed with a mere moment's notice. "Now, for that, you're going to have to play a penalty game!" switching back into ominous.
A bolt of fear shot through Anna. "Uh, I have to go-" she said urgently, now realizing the danger she was in.
"But that would be cheating!" he sneered. "And no one likes a cheater! Besides, since this is your first offense, I'm going to let you off easy."
Anna took a step back. "What offense?"
"Why for spoiling a decently good riddle! You know riddles are not simply words to be thrown around and answered at random! They take time and effort!" he nearly shouted. Then, in a calmer voice, he said, "And anyhow, all I want to know is your name."
Being too scared to weigh the consequences of answering truthfully, she whispered, "Anna Ridel."
"Mrs. Ridel? What an interesting name you have!" he exclaimed. A little "Ridel" was standing right in front of him with nowhere to go, how amusing.
"It's Anna," she corrected, out of habit. "Just Anna."
A vile grin spilled across his features. "Well Anna, it's a pleasure to meet you."
"Um…. I really need to go….before the food gets cold, and all…"
"Oh, go, go! Believe me, if I ever had the opportunity of a hot meal, I would jump at the chance! Especially, if you could tell what it was, before they cooked it. That is, if they ever did…." His voice trailed off. "The Monday Meatloaf is a mystery even I can't solve!"
Anna looked down at her bag, a combination of guilt and reluctance filling her. She sighed knowing that the difference between right and wrong was going to make the difference between hungry and fed. She reached into the bag, pulling out half of her own sandwich. She reluctantly handed it to him. She was going to regret this. It was probably the equivalent of feeding a stray cat.
He jumped up in the air like and ecstatic child, and giddily leapt for the sandwich. A small smile crept upon his face, as he said, "I think this means I owe you a favor."
"Oh no, you don't have to do that," she said, too terrified to comprehend what he meant by such a cryptic statement. "But do you know where Dr. Reynolds office is? I really need to get there before she starts to wonder where I've gotten to."
"Oh, she's two doors down to the left," he clarified "But don't you get lost! Just between you and me, there's a lot of crazy's down here! And who knows what they might do to someone as lovely as yourself." He whistled once, purposely trailing his eyes down her body to make his point clear.
She laughed uneasily as she continued in the direction he had shown her. She moved quickly down the hall afraid she actually would run into a less friendly inmate of Arkham. She exhaled in relief as she came across a door with the words "Dr. Reynolds Office" scrawled across the window. Her hand reached for the door, opening it, eager to finish her delivery, and get the hell out of Arkham. It wasn't that she held anything against the place, it was just the atmosphere had an aurora of something rotten and declining.
"Oh, there you are I was beginning to fret that you had gotten lost" exclaimed Myra. Her eyes shone brighter at the food as she rushed towards Anna. Her white lab coat floated on the stale asylum air like autumn leaves in a breeze. Myra's hair was still as black as the nighttime sky and her appetite as ravenous as ever.
"No. I just ran into some inmate wearing a red jumpsuit, he was really creepy.", she told her friend waiting for her to tell her that was Arkham or that the patient was perfectly harmless. Sadly, her friend just looked at her with a blank stare.
"How on earth did you get lost in the maximum security ward of Arkham, let alone talk to a level red inmate!" The only type of inmate issued a code red color was a top level inmate. The color red meant that getting close to them without a guard ended in the color red. You'd be bleeding out before you got a sentence in. Or worse. They sometimes dealt pain out in ways that left the mind in a state of insanity forever. She remembered the time the Riddler had left Warden Sharp a riddle foretelling of a medication switch. Sharp had a severe allergic reaction and was hospitalized for a week.
Myra looked at Anna with a dreadful stare as if to say tell me this is a joke. Anna stared back with two honest brown eyes. "Those areas are strictly off limits, and with good reason. The entire patients on that level are extremely dangerous and unstable." her friend worried out loud.
"What do you mean Maximum Security Ward, he was just out in the hallway?" Anna corrected. She knew she had not been wandering the halls without care; she hated getting lost.
"Anna I need you to think carefully what did this man look like?" Dr. Renolds knew every patient in red by name and patient number. They were the rogues, dangerous without a reason. They hurt everyone without call to warrant attack and without discretion for the innocents.
"He had green eyes and red hair. I don't know he just looked like a guy." Anna closed her eyes squinting at the already foggy memory.
Myra's eyes widened. There was only one inmate with red hair and green eyes. The Riddler. One of Arkham's most intelligent and quick tempered of inmates. He was the sort who bid his time and struck, leaving both physical and emotional scars. Anna very well could have died had his escape been more desperate, or had she recognized him.
"Oh, no.", Myra whispered as she pressed a button, "guards it appears that Riddler has escaped." She prayed Anna had the smarts not to tell the madman anything of vital importance. He was as unpredictable as he was brilliant. Who knew what he had planned for Gotham. That was a riddle Myra did not want the answer to.
I am editing the chapter's now and reposting them to correct some errors and plot issues. And to answer many fans requests of a sequel I will only say that my other story may give you a hint on the answer to the Riddler's Riddle. I will start updating that tale soon. And fixing its errors and plot issues.