Folks, for too long, too many people have been doing it wrong. Some of you may be in the guilty party. Others have merely aided and abetted the guilty, encouraging them to commit further crimes. You know exactly what I'm talking about.
Lurid tales that lack plot and imagination. Interns who have all the sense of a squirrel that stops in the middle of the road. The Scarecrow with a soul. Paragraphs dedicated to Crane's eye and hair color. No grammar or punctuation to be found. Authors who consider ADHD a mental illness on par with schizophrenia. Nightmares, in other words, numerous and growing in strength each day, like the armies of Mordor.
I'm here to break the cycle. I'm going to attempt the impossible. I set out today to write an original, entertaining, realistic story that features both Crane and an OC. Plot and proper characterization shall be my sole companions. Odysseus and Dante never faced such a journey...
Summary: The Scarecrow doesn't care who you are, where you hail from, or where you're going. He just needs a ride. OC but no romance, I can guarantee you that.
Chapter 1: Taxis and Yugos
After five minutes of flailing her arms, throwing her hand up in a way that looked dangerously like a Nazi salute, and flapping like a wounded bird, a taxi finally got the message. The cab pulled to the curb and Danielle practically yanked the door off its hinges. She threw her abused suitcase into the car, got in herself with only slightly less violence, and slammed the door hard enough to earn her raised eyebrows from the cabbie.
"I'm guessing you have somewhere to be in a hurry," he said.
"My grandma's turning 80 today and if I don't get there in twenty minutes, she'll spend her birthday with just her cat!"
"Ten dollar tip and the speed limit doesn't mean jack."
Danielle gave the lawless cabby the address and he sped off from the crowded airport. She checked her watch. Nineteen minutes and counting. Maybe she'd get lucky and Grandma Sophia's jazzercise program would run a little late. Granny did love her jazzercise; in their last phone call, she'd bragged to Danielle that, at 79 years and 363 days, she was the fittest and most flexible in her class.
"Where'd you fly in from?" The cabbie asked.
"Seattle. I should have landed two hours ago; my flight was delayed because it's apparently monsoon season in the Washington. I have never seen such rain in all my life," Danielle said.
"You flew all that way just to wish your grandmother a happy birthday? I bet you're her favorite grandkid."
"I'm the only grandkid, so I guess she doesn't have much choice. It's either me or my uncle's Shar-pei. But my grandfather died a few months ago, and I feel awful leaving her alone all the time. I mean, I grew up in Gotham, and no offense, but I couldn't stand to get old here. Especially not by myself."
The cabbie said, "Can't blame you. My ex-wife lit out for Ohio last year. Said she couldn't stand living in a one-bedroom apartment any longer. Creepy guy that followed her home one night didn't do the marriage any good, either. But hey, this isn't about me. This is about Grandma, uh, what was it?"
"Sophia. Born in Gotham, and unless she's dragged out in cuffs, she'll stay here the rest of her life. She keeps up the jazzercise she'll live longer than me," Danielle said.
"There's no way I'm letting you miss a jazzercise-loving grandmother's birthday. Hang tight and hope the boys in blue are busy someplace else."
Before Danielle could respond, the cabbie channeled the spirit of James Bond and changed from a mild-mannered driver into danger on four wheels. Danielle found her arms wrapped around her suitcase as though it was a life preserver as the cab maneuvered in ways that stretched the laws of physics to the breaking point. The cab slid through gaps in traffic that hardly looked big enough for a motor-scooter to pass, swerved around slower vehicles, and neatly bypassed a red light by entering a narrow, empty side street.
As the cab continued on its reckless path, Danielle risked another peek at her watch. Twelve minutes now. She might actually make it, always assuming the car didn't crash into a brick wall and kill her instantly.
"Six blocks to go and we're making great time. Don't worry, you'll get there."
"I really appreciate it, but maybe you'd better- Jesus, watch out for that horse!"
The cabbie slammed on the brakes and the tires squealed. Danielle was thrown forward and her suitcase was pressed painfully against her chest. The emergency landing instructions from the airplane--pretty much grab your ankles, tuck in your head, pray to your personal god and kiss your ass good-bye--played through her head. She did not want her last thoughts to be "and in case of cabin decompression, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you".
The taxi had been serviced often and well. Its brakes were only weeks old, and were able to bring the car to a rough stop only feet from the horse. The cabbie, his heart revving like a motorcycle engine, almost collapsed from relief. He was not dead, his car was not destroyed and his boss was not going to chew him up and spit him out.
The horse also realized just how close it had come to meeting its maker. Panicked by the car and the smoke rising from the tires, the horse reared up and pawed the air. The unfortunate rider gave the reins a harsh yank in a vain attempt to bring the animal back under control. He could do nothing at that point except dismount before the horse threw him off. He slid off the horse's bucking back and managed to land on his feet.
"You okay back there?" The cabbie asked. He felt like he was talking through a mouthful of cotton.
"I think I'm gonna cry," Danielle said.
The terrified horse bolted from the street to the sidewalk. The few pedestrians that dared to be outdoors once the sun set scattered. Hopefully someone would have the intelligence to call the police before the animal either ran someone down or was hit by a vehicle that failed to stop in time.
"Why the hell was there a horse running down the middle of the road?" The cabbie said.
"Was someone riding it? I thought I saw someone, but-"
Something heavy collided with Danielle's door. Her whole body, wired on adrenaline and fear, jerked violently. They'd missed the horse! What could possibly have run into them?
"Open the door,"
The rider, of course. He was banging at the window, and he sounded righteously pissed. Danielle might have actually reached for the door handle had the driver not started shouting.
"Get away from my goddamn cab before I run your pony-riding ass over! Are you retarded or something?" The cabbie raged.
Instead of backing off or offering an explanation--if it was at all possible to explain why he was running around Gotham on a farm animal--the rider turned towards the front door. He found it locked and the cabbie smirked and flipped him the bird. If this joker thought he was getting in, he was sorely mistaken.
"How do you like that, shit-head?"
Shit-head apparently didn't like it much, because his face appeared in the window like a grim apparition. Only it couldn't be labeled a proper human face. There was no definite facial structure, no nose, only holes through which enraged eyes peered, and a mouth sewn shut with rough stitching.
Danielle let out a horrified shriek before coming to the realization that she was only seeing a horrible mask. The driver apparently recognized the mask for what it was, because he looked more disgusted than startled. His middle finger didn't waiver, that was for sure.
"Yeah, Halloween was six months ago. That mask looks like crap, just so you know. Goddamn potato sack you cut up and reassembled or something."
Something much harder than a fist thumped against the driver-side window, cracking the glass. The cabbie let loose an amazing volley of swears. Danielle was by no means a prude or a saint, but she had never before heard half of the terms, and she was sure at least a few were totally original. The one about using a food processor as a sexual orifice had to be.
The same object was slammed against the window, this time shattering the glass. A few fragments of the pulverized window landed in her lap and on her shoes. Danielle gasped and pushed herself to the opposite end of the seat.
"You've done it now, buddy. I hope you know a really good dentist."
The cabbie shoved open his door, nearly hitting the masked assailant with it. Danielle hadn't been able to judge the driver's height while he had been seated, but now she could make a pretty good estimate. She put him at an inch or so over six feet, and definitely heavier than the man who had broken the window. Unless that scrawny masked freak could outrun the fuming taxi driver, he was going to be smeared on the pavement.
"Get back in your seat and open the back doors," The man in the mask ordered.
"You really are a moron, aren't you? I'm going to smash your face so badly your own mother won't recognize you."
"If you insist on doing it the hard way, I will happily oblige you."
The driver drew back his fist. Before he could punch some sense into the crazy horseman, he found a gun pointed directly at his face. He hadn't considered that the object the idiot had hammered against the window might have been more dangerous than a rock or chunk of brick. Now he was the wiser and in a far worse position than he could have imagined a minute ago when he had been so eager to break some bones.
"As this gun is positioned now, if I were to fire, you would lose your frontal lobe, Broca's area, the motor cortex, somatosensory cortex, and a large portion of your temporal lobe. If by some misfortune that did not kill you, you would be in a vegetative state with consciousness, speech, movement and emotional response all far beyond you. Would you like to experience that?"
"Then open the doors. You cost me my horse, so you're going to drive me."
"I already have a passenger."
"Now you'll have two."
Wary of the gun, and of losing whatever Broca's area was, the cabbie returned to his taxi. Like most modern cars, the doors could all be locked or opened automatically with a single button. Before he pressed the button, the driver looked back at Danielle.
"Sorry about your party," he said.
"Not your fault," Danielle assured him.
The locks disengaged and before Danielle could think to open the door she was sitting against and run for it, the masked man was in the cab with her. She scrunched her legs back and drew them up against her chest. She put her battered suitcase in front of her like a shield.
"Just get out of the area for now. I will decide on a final destination depending on how things progress."
"Can I let her off first? It's only six blocks and she's got someplace to be."
"You can either do as I tell you or you will be driving with a corpse," the man said.
"Don't be so dramatic. We're already rolling."
Danielle whimpered and the masked man turned towards her. With only a suitcase and a little empty seat between them, Danielle couldn't help but notice the eclectic costume the man was wearing. He had a suit on, definitely not the usual getup for thugs or for equestrians, either. The mask he wore was far stranger than the suit, however. At this distance, Danielle could tell it wasn't rubber or plastic like almost all Halloween masks, but was made of burlap. It was stitched together like Frankenstein's monster and it was the singularly most odious thing she'd ever seen on someone's head.
"Does my mask frighten you?"
"No. I think it's ugly as a baboon's ass, but that's just my opinion," the driver said.
"I wasn't talking to you, and if that is the extent of your conversational skills, I won't be engaging you any time soon."
"Bite me, buddy. Nobody's afraid of you or that sack or your vocabulary."
"Do you not know who I am?"
"Oh, I know well enough. Only one freak in this city dresses up like a scarecrow. I guess the idea never caught on among the other trash. You're like the Yugo of criminals."
The Scarecrow pointed his gun at Danielle. She raised her suitcase up, putting it between her and the muzzle. In the rational part of her brain, she knew the plastic body of the suitcase wouldn't stop a bullet anymore than it would stop a guided missile. Logical thoughts hardly mattered now, though. She would have put up a newspaper or magazine shield if she'd had either of those two things available.
"Are you afraid of me?" the Scarecrow asked.
"You don't have to ask," Danielle replied. There was no way for him to miss the way her arms were shaking. She had never been so afraid in her whole life.
"One of you may survive the night, then."
Danielle wasn't exactly comforted by the Scarecrow's words. As she would learn within the hour, she was right to doubt his sincerity.
HoistTheColours, this is for you. I hope it pleases you.
And no, I don't care how self-righteous it sounds. I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore.