I do not own Edward Nygma (aka the Riddler) or Daniel Mockridge. They belong to DC Comics and Batman: The Animated Series. This was written purely for fun.
What the Devil had happened…? One moment, he is stepping out of his car and approaching the front door of his expensive home; the next, he's lying on his back with an aching head. Stranger things have happened, but he tried not to think about them.
These thoughts were the first to pass through Daniel Mockridge's mind when he finally came to. A faint groan escaped from him as he squeezed his eyes tight. His head continued to pound and throb, making him groan again.
He started to push himself up into a sitting position, but came to a quick halt when his head smacked against something. Mockridge let out a curse as he collapsed to his back. He brought a hand up to his forehead, his fingertips brushing against his black hairline. He continued to mutter profanities under his breath as he opened his eyes to glare at whatever had hit him.
Mockridge found himself staring at nothing. The first thought to come to mind was that whatever had caused his headache had altered his vision. He blinked a few times in confusion and to clear any metaphorical fog from his eyes, just staring at the darkness around him with a puzzled look on his face. He looked all around him, trying to find some sort of clue as to where he was and what was going on.
When nothing jumped out to his untrained eyes, he settled back against the surface. Slowly and hesitantly, he brought his arms up, reaching blindly toward whatever hit his forehead. His fingers ran across what felt like a wooden surface probably less than a foot above his face. He pressed his palms against it and felt around, allowing his fingers to search the surface.
His fingers brushed across a sensor, which brought forth a crackle of static. Mockridge let out a startled noise at the sudden sound and instantly drew his hands away from the surface and in toward his chest. His eyes darted around, searching the darkness. The unpleasant static washed over him, filling his ears before it began to quiet down.
"Well, well, well…" came a smug voice, instantly chilling Mockridge to the bone. He recognized the voice in a heartbeat, a voice he had prayed he'd never have to hear again.
Above his face appeared a triangular screen. Displayed across it was an image that quickly brought a sweat to his brow and a tremble through his limbs. He found himself face-to-face with the Riddler.
"How has my game been treating you, Mockridge?" Edward Nygma asked in a conversational tone. His head and shoulders were the only parts of his body that was being displayed on the screen. He was in his Riddler costume; Mockridge hadn't gone a day without the image haunting him. The green bowler hat sat atop his head, his bright red hair poking out at the back. Nygma stared down at Mockridge with unreadable eyes, half-hidden behind that purple mask of his. "You did make a pretty penny off of it; I did rather hope to see you using your ill-gotten wealth to your benefit, but you're looking rather worn out." He grinned that smug grin of his. "Trouble sleeping at night?"
It had been over a year since Mockridge had found himself staring at the genius behind The Riddle of the Minotaur. Competitron had been moved to Gotham City, having been bought by Wayne Enterprises. The company had never been so successful, and yet the CEO of the company had never been so distraught and afraid. Edward Nygma was no longer after money, which Daniel Mockridge had a plethora of, but after his very own life. It was then that Mockridge had realized just how dangerous Nygma had become in his abrupt firing.
And when Nygma managed to get away from the Batman and his caped sidekick, Mockridge realized just how much he wanted to continue living. There had been no sign of the Riddler since his quick escape, but Mockridge still found himself terrified of the man and what he was capable of.
"N-Nygma!" Mockridge managed, silently cursing himself for stuttering. "What is this?! What's going on?!"
The Riddler's gloved hands appeared on the screen, gesturing for Mockridge to slow down. "One question at a time, Mockridge; I'm sure that mass between your ears can only process an answer so fast. However," he said, taking his attention away from Mockridge to glance down at the ends of his gloved fingers as though he were studying his fingernails, "I'm not one to give up an answer so easily. I'd like to get your gears turning, so to speak. Firstly, you must solve the puzzle to get out." Mockridge resisted rolling his eyes; that didn't give him any sort of straight answer. "Secondly, you must answer the riddle…"
In the time it took for the Riddler's eyes to move from his hands back to Mockridge, the smug look on his face had transformed into that of pure contempt. "Riddle me this…" he began in a low voice, clearly marked by an underlying pool of rage. "The man who makes it sells it. The man who buys it doesn't use it. The man who uses it doesn't know it." A toothy grin that showed no mirth spread wide across his face. "What am I?"
The screen cut off, throwing Mockridge back into darkness. The sudden change of lighting caught the businessman off-guard, but he was relieved that Nygma's face was gone. There was still a slight static in the air, meaning that Nygma was still listening in. He knew that he never had quite an aptitude for puzzles, so he mulled over the question. The riddle rolled around in his head for a few moments, but he couldn't come up with an answer.
"Stumped?" the Riddler asked, his voice sounding almost playful and completely smug again. "Ready to throw in the towel? Give up? Time to surrender? Ready to give in?"
"Tell me where the Hell I am, Nygma!" Mockridge shouted angrily.
"How about a hint?" Nygma questioned, ignoring the demand. "Why don't I just illuminate the situation…?"
Just as he finished speaking, a blinding flash of green light appeared. Mockridge slammed his eyes shut and hissed at the brightness. He could still see the green behind his eyelids. Finally, he forced his eyes open.
Green question marks surrounded him, dousing him in the artificial light. The light revealed where he was. The ceiling of the space he was in was literally less than a foot above him. He wouldn't have been able to spread his arms away from his body more than a foot without banging into the walls.
His breath caught in his throat, the noise making Edward Nygma begin to giggle. As Mockridge began to panic, eyes darting all around him, the giggling escalated into chuckling, and then into full-blown cackles.
The answer to the riddle suddenly seemed clear as day. Mockridge began to writhe about, banging his fists and kicking his feet against the question mark decorated walls. He screamed and screamed and screamed; whether he was calling out for help or trying to drown out the Riddler's maniacal laughter, he wasn't sure. His chest lifted and fell with each strained breath he took. He was hyperventilating, and he was terrified. The air was growing thin, the amount of carbon dioxide surrounding him making him lightheaded. He couldn't catch his breath. He knew he was standing on death's doorstep, ready to bite the big one, ready to kick the bucket…and yet, all he could think of was the answer to the riddle:
A/N: I never liked that Daniel Mockridge. He had it coming. He is the CEO (I think) of Competitron, the company Nygma worked at before he was fired in B:TAS. He is a greedy grease-ball. The episode is called "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?" This fanfiction takes place over a year after Nygma makes his escape from Gotham.
First time writing for the Riddler...I hope I did a decent job. I love that riddle... I heard it first from my older sister. Where she heard it from is a riddle in itself.
What can I say? I wanted to write something somewhat dark with a hint of death. Feedback is always welcome. Thanks for reading.