It's been over a year and I'm back with a story. For those who had me on Story Alert and are hoping I have a slasher fic for them...I'm sorry. Really, truly sorry. But I've moved on. (To a fandom even smaller than my previous one, apparently. I really know how to pick 'em, don't I?)
Anyway, my school held a production of Bat Boy: The Musical a few months back, and it stuck with me, so here's a multi-chapter, alternate universe fanfiction for all you Batophiles! If you don't enjoy these type of stories, I have also been writing a series of Bat Boy vignettes that will be up shortly, so you can go read those instead. And when you're finished, review! Constructive criticism is always appreciated.
Oh, and the title. No idea. Couldn't think of one. But hopefully the quote below might help explain it.
Without further ado...
BAT BOY: THUNDERCLOUDS
"Those thunderclouds are closing in…" – Bat Boy: The Musical
I don't love him.
Yet there he was, on his knees, proposing to her, looking into her eyes for the first time in months. He was asking her to marry him, because she was pregnant with his child and he hoped that she would love him again.
She could not.
Every time she saw him, she saw not the kind, handsome, brilliant veterinarian who had enthralled her, but only the man who had violated her. She looked into his eyes now, too, and still all she could see the uncontrollable lust; she saw his hands reaching out and grabbing her and forcing himself on her…
Her vision cleared, and now she saw something else: that he loved her, that he would continue loving her even if she didn't. Could she callously deny his greatest wish?
No, she could not.
So she accepted, and he smiled and swung her around in his arms while she controlled her shudder of revulsion, and hoped that someday, she would come to love him again.
But in her heart, she knew she never would.
Harlan Ellis had heard a lot of nice things said about fresh air – how wonderful it smelled, how refreshing it was after hours of confinement, how healthy it made you.
After a decade of it, though, he was starting to find it a bit wearing.
Perhaps it was the nature of Hope Falls fresh air – a perfect mixture of animal sweat, decaying meat, and blood. Oh, and don't forget the abundance of cow manure.
The sacrifices he made for his job, he thought to himself as he crept up behind a cow that had drifted away from the herd.
Loners always suffered the most, he mused as he slashed open its throat. The cow toppled over with a gurgling moo and he leaped clear; experience had taught him that animals never died quickly – they went through several minutes of death throes, spraying blood everywhere in the process.
He waited patiently for the cow to stop kicking, fearing that all the blood would be drained out before it had died. It had not; it never did, and he laid a bucket under its slashed neck to collect the scarlet liquid.
He had no worries about what the owner would think. Rural folk were all the same – a superstitious lot, as likely to blame a vengeful God as turn on the nearest scapegoat. He hoped it was the former, though the second option was always more entertaining.
When the bucket was filled he made his way out of the grazing area and back to his tent in the clearing.
"Dude, you are so hot!"
Shelley flipped her hair expertly behind her shoulders and smiled enticingly. Rick Taylor, the class dropout, the rebellious cave explorer, and the hottest guy in school, had just said she was hot.
She said, "You know my mom's upstairs tonight?"
He grinned and nearly sent Shelley melting. "So? Who's going to get into trouble if she finds out?"
"Exactly." He leaned over and kissed her, and she really did melt this time.
"Oh shoot!" She shoved Rick away and quickly dropped on to the sofa, book in hand. "Yeah Mom?"
"Are you ready? We're going shopping!"
What? She wasn't going shopping! She saw Rick give her a look and quickly shook her head. "Mom, what're you talking about? I'm not going shopping!"
"Of course you are honey. You're already dressed!" Meredith came popping downstairs and promptly grabbed her wayward daughter and her boyfriend and deposited them outside. "You'll have to come back tomorrow Rick. Come along Shelley."
But there was no stopping Meredith when her daughter's honor was at stake. Shelley could only mouth a frantic, "My room tonight!" at Rick before she was stuffed in the backseat of the car.
"Mom what was that! Rick and I were busy talking!" Shelley cried.
"Honey, I'm not stupid. You and Rick were very far from talking. Haven't any of my warnings come through to you?"
"Which ones?" Shelley couldn't help but compare her mother to Rick Taylor's mom. Sure, her mom was single and divorced, while Mrs. Taylor was not, but they were similar in one big way – they were like female grizzly bears when it came to their children.
Meredith was saying, "Boys have hormones, and they are not like girls – they just can't control themselves."
"If I had a dad, he would've let me go out with him."
"Shelley, a father is even more protective of his daughter than a mother is," her mother said. "Your father would have cheerfully slit the Taylor boy's throat open."
What a lovely image, Shelley thought to herself.
"Well, enough wallowing," her mother continued, "Come dear, we need to go to the mall and get you a lovely dress for Reverend Hightower's revival," Meredith finished with great cheerfulness.
"I have a dress!"
"That old thing? You need more dresses Shelley!"
"No I don't!"
"You see? It's lovely, don't you think?"
"Yes, and it only took us THREE HOURS to find!" Shelley yelled. She was unbelievably pissed – she and Rick could have spent the entire night… getting to know each other… until her mom had to come and ruin it.
Hopefully Rick had gotten the message. Hopefully he wouldn't come too early and crash into her mom… or too late and find her asleep. She loved Rick, but he could be a bit dense at times.
"But you will look lovely at the revival," Meredith gushed, oblivious to her daughter's plans. "And it is the social event of the season."
"I don't want to look lovely; I want to look like myself."
Meredith tapped her hand against the steering wheel as they drove past the seemingly endless stretch of woods. The small town of Hope Falls had depended upon its coal mines for revenue, and when that dried up, its cows. The town was so out of the way that there were no lights along the bumpy road, leaving Shelley staring out at the dark outlines of numerous trees.
That was why the sudden light of the carnival was so easy to see.
"My goodness, what is that?" Meredith gasped.
Shelley squinted, then cried, "The carnival!"
The carnival had once been a yearly event, but had stopped coming as the townspeople migrated out to search for new jobs. Shelley had missed it, so much that she didn't let her new teenage status deter her from showing too much childish enthusiasm.
"Mom, can we go oh please can we go Mom I really want to go Mom can we -"
"PLEASE MOM, I promise I won't ask for anything I'll wear the stupid dress and everything -"
"Shelley! We'll go if you calm down and be quiet!"
Shelley's memories of the carnival had, over the years, been so embellished that the real thing simply could not compare to the nostalgic version of it in her mind.
It was still fun.
As soon as she could, Shelley ditched her mom – she may be at a carnival, but she hadn't lost all her teenage dignity. She rode on just about every ride she knew wouldn't make her vomit, ate huge amounts of junk food, and played perhaps every game available, even winning a few of them to her great surprise.
It wasn't until it was quite late that she saw someone that really made her night.
"Rick!" She would recognize that hair anywhere. "Rick!"
He waved and strolled over. "Hey Shell, you need to check out the freak cage! They've got some wild stuff there!"
"Yeah, like nothing you've ever seen! C'mon!" He grabbed her hand and dragged her off before she could really relish the joy of him touching her.
There was a large tent and a small crowd gathered inside. Rick shoved aside some people and joined his two siblings, Ron and Ruthie, at the front.
Shelley glanced up at the blinding yellow lights. There was a tall wooden platform on which stood a tall man dressed in garishly outlandish clothing, with a truly horrible stovepipe hat on his dark hair. As the crowd cheered the lights swirled around him, setting up a cascade of colors meant to heighten the tension.
"That's the guy who owns it," Rick whispered, pointing to him. Shelley couldn't help but roll her eyes. Well, duh. The lights dimmed as he spoke to an eerie reddish glow that spread over the audience like blood; only one bright yellow light remained, spotlighting the carnival man, standing in erect silence, hands crossed behind his back.
When the crowd was absolutely silent, he spoke, raising his arms over the room in a dramatic gesture.
"In a cave many miles to the south," he said, "there lived a boy born with fangs in his mouth! He sleeps until the fading light, he flies through bloody dreams; and when he awakes the summer night… is filled with screams!"
His voice sounded as if he were speaking intimately to one member of the audience, yet at the same time projecting over the entire crowd. Shelley barely breathed as he leaped gracefully from his makeshift podium and onto the floor directly in front of the audience. Suddenly a hidden door opened behind him, causing the audience to gasp and back away. A tall box-like structure was pulled out through no discernible force, a large bright cloth covering its contents.
"It was born in the bogs," he cried, leading the audience ever closer to the hidden structure. "It feeds on the flies and frogs!" The box was moved out at the same time, until it was almost up to the audience, who had no fence or barrier against it. The people moved away hesitantly, circling around it for a better view.
"You call him 'Beast,'" Ellis said, voice dropping, "or 'Changeling'. Or even 'Demon'. But we will prove he's no such thing." He reached for the cloth, and a sudden breeze swelled the tent, blowing the cloth against the box – against the cage, Shelley thought, suddenly seeing the outline of the bars.
"For the world is man or beast -"
"Shelley, what are you doing in here?" a very familiar voice whispered.
"- but he is both yet neither -"
"Mom? What are you doing here?" Shelley hissed. Her mother looked towards the spectacle going on and smothered a cry, eyes widening.
"So…ladies and gentlemen, I give you -" He tore off the cloth with a flourish, "the Bat Boy!"
A gasp spread around the crowd as they beheld the creature within. Only Shelley heard a muffled cry escape from her mother behind her.
It was as horrifying as the man had said – a chained thing, half-naked, filthy and pale. It was human in shape, but thin and wasted. What was most amazing was the head – no makeup could duplicate the fanged mouth, pointed ears, bald skull, and protuberant, luminous eyes.
As the people muttered, backed away, or in the case of the Taylor kids, moved forward, the thing hissed, baring its mouth open like a cat.
"Don't worry ladies and gentlemen, we are quite safe." As if to prove him wrong, the Bat Boy lunged forward at the three approaching children, held back only by a collar and chain about its neck. "It is restrained with solid steel chains. Which brings me to the next part…"
He stepped in front of the cage heedlessly, his back to the thing. From a pocket he pulled out a – Shelley shivered – dead mouse.
"Some of you may say this is not a real creature – that it is merely a man in makeup and incredible acting skills." He turned and waved the mouse. The creature stopped hissing, stopped moving altogether, except for the eyes, fixed on the slowly swinging mouse.
"Others may say that, yes, it is real, but it is still a human creature, capable of feeling and thought." Ellis moved around the cage, the Bat Boy's gaze never leaving him, or the treat he held.
"But I will show you that you are WRONG!" The audience jumped at the sudden change in volume. "No human creature would act like this!"
He threw the mouse into the cage and the boy leapt and snatched it in his mouth. In two seconds he had swallowed the thing whole.
The audience started to murmur once more.
"And no human would react… like this…"
Ellis rolled back a sleeve and drew from another pocket, a thin knife. Slowly he sliced along his arm, drawing gasps and squeals of horror from the audience that increased tenfold when dark blood began to ooze.
But that was nothing compared to the Bat Boy's reaction. The creature seemed to almost break free of its bonds, leaping and snarling madly, a feral rage in its eyes. Several women screamed; there was a loud thump as one of them fainted.
"It ain't human!"
"It's some kinda demon!"
Ellis wiped up the blood and rolled down his sleeve. "You see, ladies and gentlemen? There are mysteries out there – creatures that never should have been born, abominations of nature we will never solve! This is but one of them! I thank you –and good night!"
He spread his hands out as the lights swerved maniacally over him and the raging boy. Both man and creature backed into the platform, and as the doors swung shut, the lights went out.
Slowly the crowd filed out, still murmuring over the spectacle. Shelley made to follow, but her mother grabbed her arm sharply.
"Shelley?" Rick looked behind his shoulder; beside him, Ron and Ruthie stopped as well. "You comin' babe?"
"No she isn't," Meredith answered sharply for her daughter. "You go on Rick Taylor. Don't let your momma know about this, got it?"
"Course not Mrs. Parker," Rick said with the respectful tone of voice he adopted only around adults. "C'mon guys."
The two younger children trotted obediently after their older brother. As soon as they were gone Shelley whirled on her mother.
"What do you mean I'm not going with Rick?" she hissed. "I'm not a child, I can take care of myself!"
"I will not debate this with you Shelley, because that is not the reason for this," Meredith answered angrily, voice barely a whisper. "I need you for something else."
"A distraction." She nodded towards the platform. "Anything. Scream, break something, set a fire, but do something." She paused. "But I would prefer you not set a fire."
"Mom." Shelley caught her arm. "What're you going to do?"
Meredith shook her head. "I'll tell you later. Go!" And she was off behind the platform.
Shelley wrung her hands. A distraction? Her mom should have gotten Rick for this – he was the bad boy. She was a good girl.
Rick! Rick and his dumb siblings! That was it!
She raced outside, calling his name.
When the crowd was gone Harlan Ellis closed and tied off the tent flaps and entered the platform through a door, cleverly disguised as part of the wood.
Inside the platform was the cage, seven feet tall and five feet in length and width. Still chained to the floor was the Bat Boy, struggling against its bonds. Ellis sighed; after years of imprisonment, still it continued to repeat those actions. The thing must be mentally as well as physically impaired.
When it saw him, it hissed, thrashing furiously; it would be at the corner if it weren't bound to the center. Ellis lay down a bowl of blood near its head. Immediately the starved boy sat up and hobbled its way over. Within seconds most of the blood was gone, down the Bat Boy's throat.
"There now, all full?" Ellis said rhetorically, knowing the thing couldn't answer. He forced back the Bat Boy's head, still covered in blood, and tied a muzzle around its mouth, jaw, and head. It struggled futilely as he tightened the straps, then gave up as Ellis forced it away. He could hear it gnawing at the leather as he locked up the cage.
He wiped the blood off his arms and stripped off the thin wax, smoothing over the slit. He wiped off the sweat on his vest and went to the bathroom to wash off any remaining stains.
Finished, he checked over the wax covering and placed it carefully in his desk drawer, locking it up as he always did. It would not do for the audience to discover that he did not cut himself, oh no. But the blood – that was real enough, collected from dead animals he hunted himself.
He pulled off the stifling hot suit he wore and settled himself on the chair. It had been a good night. A large audience, completely enthralled by his tale of the creature, quite naïve…though what else could you expect from a backwater, coal mining town?
He sat up when he heard loud screams. Perhaps it was some stragglers, goggling at the bat boy. He was on the verge of rushing out – he's had enough close calls, idiot teenagers sometimes an inch from being bitten and sucked dry of blood – but stopped. The shrieks were coming from outside the tent.
He frowned and stepped outside, not noticing the woman watching him leave, and creeping forward towards the cage now locked securely in the back.