Black Ink

Author's Note: Written for the livejournal batfic_contest prompt "Pitch Black" in less than 500 words; first posted there on 6 May 2010.

"This is stupid."

"What makes you say that, Ms Quinn?"

"Starin' at inkblots never taught anybody anythin' about anyone – those analytical algorithms are hooey and you know it. Plus goin' cuckoo didn't make me forget four years of med school; I still remember the right and wrong answers."

"It isn't a matter of 'right' or 'wrong'…"

"Oh yeah? So flowers and cute fluffy bunnies are just as good as the decaying corpse of your father smokin' a cigar? Or your psychiatrist tied to a tree in the middle of a creepy forest havin' his eyes pecked out by crows?"

"…let's just start the test shall we? I arranged for some non-standard inkblots to be made by the art therapy group this morning, so you shouldn't worry about having previously seen the patterns."

"Psychological analysis inkblots bein' made by mental patients? That sounds just about nutso enough for this place. Let's go then – the sooner we're done the sooner I can get back to the rec room. There's a Cagney & Lacey marathon I don't wanna miss."

"Here's card number one."

"Hmm… a butterfly. No, wait – a moth! Or maybe a butterfly disguisin' itself as a moth? Geez, it's just a blob of ink smeared across a piece of paper…"

"Why don't you try actually looking at the card and giving it some thought?"

"You're a barrel of laughs, arencha? Fine – it looks kinda like the Dork Knight, I guess. Those are his creepy pointy ears, and that's his poser cape all black and billowy as he mopes about on a suitably atmospheric rooftop."

"Good – that's original and perceptively based on the elements within the inkblot."

"I can't remember – is originality good or bad?"

"It's more complex than that… why don't you have a look at card two?"

"That's obviously Mistah J. You can see his eyes here, and his gorgeous smile across there."

"So you're seeing the Joker on this card?"

"Well duh – I assumed that was deliberate? It's obviously him. It couldn't be more him unless you coloured the hair at the top green."

"And what about this card?"

"Hmm. This is more tricky. But… if you turn it upside down… there! That's the B-Man and Mistah J dukin' it out on top of Wayne Tower; that only happened last week. Mistah J's about to taser him in the back when he's not lookin'. Go Puddin'!"

"I see. And do you think it's significant that you're reading the Joker and the Batman into these cards?"

"Not particularly. The arts 'n' crafts gang this mornin' musta just blotted just them that way."

"Well, okay. Why don't we go onto card four?"

"Ohh, this is a pretty one! It looks just like Bud and Lou when they were cute lil' hyena cubs!"

"So you're seeing your pets? Yes, that's very good…"

"Yup – baby Bud and Lou, bein' cuddled by me and Puddin' as we drive off into the sunset after holdin' up the Gotham National Bank. Can I keep this one?"

Author's Note: Analysing someone's perception of an ambiguous pattern might be useful in some circumstances, but I pretty much just see animals and faces in the standard cards which is pretty boring. (For "the sex card" I just see a sheepskin rug - that's either very unimaginative or quite kinky!) Wikipedia has pictures of the main cards and details of the more popular/weird things people see in them under the main Rorschach test article.