Disclaimer: I do not own the rights "Batman" or any of its characters, including Scarecrow, nor do I own any rights to the comics or the films. I own nothing!
A/N: This is my first Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow story. I was really nervous about publishing it, but I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. Please read and review, and let me know what you think! Constructive criticism is appreciated. I must also thank my lovely beta, Slytherin Head, who helped me tremendously.
And now, without further ado...
From a Whisper to a Scream
At five o'clock, most of the psychiatrists at Arkham Asylum are more than happy to pack up their desks, walk out of their offices, and brave Gotham rush-hour traffic to get home to their families and put some distance between themselves and the psychiatric hospital. They go home, don't talk about work, and relax, all while having to mentally prepare themselves for the next day of picking the brains of Gotham's most disturbed criminals.
But not Dr. Jonathan Crane.
Jonathan Crane doesn't leave his office at five o'clock. He doesn't sit in traffic for hours. He doesn't come home and kiss his wife, or tousle his kid's hair, or sit down to a lovingly-prepared meal. He doesn't sit in front of the television, trying to put the day's events out of his mind.
Instead, Crane works late into the night. On his own personal project, of course.
The night shift guards are much easier to bribe. They have no problem moving the patients downstairs into the abandoned basement, into one of the old cells from before the hospital's renovation. They have no problem lying to the patients, telling them that tonight is just an impromptu evaluation, and that they are very sorry, but it's hospital protocol that they be restrained, and completely out of their hands-but not to worry, the session should last just a few minutes. And they certainly have no problem leaving Crane alone with the patients. They don't ask Crane what he's going to do; Crane suspects that they do not want to know.
He does not feel a twinge of guilt as he prepares the serum for tonight's experiment. Eventually, he plans on creating a gas, but until he perfects the formula he's using injections—it's far too risky to spray possibly unstable chemicals. As he walks down the hallway of an empty cell block, his footsteps echoing off the Asylum's basement walls, he feels nothing. Tonight is business as usual, and things like "feelings" and labels like "right" or "wrong" will only hinder progress.
Crane inserts a key into a rusty lock and opens the door to a cell. Inside is Patient #5672, strapped to a bed, and unaware of what is about to happen.
During previous experiments he had left the patients unrestrained, resulting in them flinging themselves against the walls, or beating their heads onto the floor. When the other doctors began to wonder why so many patients were beginning to self-harm, he started to use the restraints. Of course, they did leave bruises, but those were much easier to explain than fractured skulls and shoulders; a too-tight straightjacket, a rough guard...
"What's up, Doc?" Patient #5672 grins, revealing several missing teeth. The smell of his breath is thick, and he is unshaven. "And what's up with these?" He attempts to gesture towards his restraints but is unable to lift his arms. "And why are we down here?"
Crane gives his best impression of a smile. He doesn't want the patient to panic. Yet. "It's time for your medicine, sir," he says, reaching into his jacket for a syringe.
"Medicine? Ain't it kind of late for that?" Distrust flashes in his eyes. "And you didn't answer my question. Why am I—hey!"
The needle pierces his arm.
"You coulda told me that was coming," Patient #5672 says angrily, "I'm a good boy, you know. I take my medicine..." His voice begins to taper off.
"I apologize, sir," Crane replies. "In the future, I'll be sure to warn you."
But Patient #5672 doesn't appear to have heard him. His eyes have widened and he is staring straight ahead, a look of horror on his face.
"Is something wrong?" Crane asks innocently.
"How...how did they get in here?" Patient #5672 asks faintly. He swallows. "Doc..."
"I'm sorry?" Crane tries to hide his delight.
Patient #5672's eyes are now bulging, and sweat beads drip down his forehead. "That's...that's...there's no way!" He begins to struggle against the restraints. "Get me outta of here!"
"I'm afraid that's quite impossible," Crane says, smiling genuinely now. The solution is working better than he had expected.
Patient #5672 is really starting to panic now. His face is positively glistening with sweat. "Don't touch me," he says, breathing heavily. "Don't touch me. DON'T TOUCH ME! DON'T TOUCH ME! DON'T-"
He throws his head back and lets out a terrified scream.
Thirty seconds, Crane notes. His previous experiments had the patient screaming after forty-five seconds. Interesting.
"I'm sorry!" Patient #5672 pleads, trying to kick his legs, "I'm so sorry! Just please, please don't hurt me! I'll do anything, anything, just please,please,please, leave me alone!"
Tears begin to roll down his cheeks. "I'm so sorry," he sobs, "I didn't wanna hurt you! I don't know what came over me, it was like it wasn't even me doing it, like it was someone else—please, just leave me alone! Please!"
He doesn't even notice the next needle.
Almost instantly his face begins to contort. His eyes are practically bulging out of his head and his mouth is pulled back into a terrified grimace, his missing teeth more apparent than ever.
The scream he lets out rivals any Crane has ever heard before, and he cannot help but be impressed with himself.
Saliva drips out of Patient #5672's open mouth onto his orange jumpsuit, already soaked with sweat and tears. He waves his arm and legs as if attempting to run, but he can barely lift them more than a few inches. A dark stain spreads over the crotch of his jumpsuit.
"GET THEM OFF OF ME!" he screams. "GET THEM OFF OF ME! HELP!"
"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about," Crane says, for his own humor; it is unlikely that the patient can hear him.
Patient #5672 begins to sob, choking on his screams. "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SOMEONE HELP ME! GET THEM OFF OF ME! HELP ME! SOMEONE! HELP ME!"
Crane does nothing but stand over the patient's bed, observing him.
In his jacket, he has a third syringe, one he's never used before. He carries it with him during his nightly experiments, just in case, but no patient has ever been able to handle the second injection long enough to receive the third; they've always needed to be brought back to reality after about thirty seconds, lest they suffer irreparable damage. He's always been incredibly cautious, not out of concern for his patients, but in order to keep his nightly after-work activities a secret. The guards don't even know what goes on after he closes the doors; by then, they are long gone, opting to take a rather long "smoke break" to avoid witnessing anything "unpleasant".
He is tempted to use the syringe now.
Patient #5672 has handled the serum far better than any previous patient. Well, Crane thought, smirking, perhaps "handled" isn't exactly the best word. After all, he's been reduced to a screaming, piss soaked mess—but he's still able to form coherent sentences, something no previous subject has been capable of following the second injection. Crane sees great potential in Patient #5672 and he'd hate to risk losing such a valuable subject; he may not find another patient able to withstand the dosage for days, months, weeks, even years. By then precious time would be lost.
But if it all goes well...
Dr. Jonathan Crane would never take such a gamble. Jonathan Crane would weigh out his options, carefully envisioning all possible scenarios, before deciding that the risk was simply to great. Jonathan Crane would reach into his jacket and inject Patient #5672 with the fourth syringe he carries, the one containing the antidote, the one that wrenches his patients out of their personal Hell and into a deep sleep, before clearing their memory. No, despite the incredible temptation, Dr. Jonathan Crane would resist, and resolve to try again at a later date, when he has a better idea of how the patient will react.
No, Dr. Jonathan Crane would not use the third syringe.
But Scarecrow would.
Crane steps forward and injects the serum into the wet, sopping, screaming mass of flesh that is Patient #5672.
Nothing happens for a few seconds. Dr. Crane begins to doubt the effectiveness of his serum when suddenly the patient stops screaming and lets out a loud gasp, startling Crane. Crane stares in shock as the patient's eyelids begin to flutter, his body convulsing against the restraints. The blood vessels in his eyes burst, and before Crane can act his subject's body gives one last final jolt before lying completely still on his cell bed.
Silence. Deafening silence.
Crane grabs the patient's wrist, searching for a pulse. Nothing.
Crane can hardly believe what has happened. He has just murdered an Arkham patient.
Not just murdered; scared to death.
He has just scared someone to death.
Crane's laughter fills the cell. He gazes down at his victory, lying motionless on the wet mattress, his face forever frozen in a horrified grimace. This is perfect. This is absolutely perfect. When he started his project, his goal had been to develop a solution and eventually a toxin that would frighten people to the point where they would lose their sanity, but never had he imagined that he would actually be able to frighten someone so badly that they would die. But that was exactly what had happened.
Well, this certainly changed things.
Crane composes himself and turns his back to the body of Patient #5672, dead to the world and no longer of any use to him. He'll come up with some sort of excuse; perhaps he'll edit the patient's file to include a history of heart trouble, or some other physical ailment that would contribute to an untimely death. There will be an investigation, of course; fortunately, almost everyone in Arkham Asylum can be paid off, and as far as those who are more "noble"...well, Crane now knows exactly how to deal with them.
Crane smiles. He's already itching to experiment again. Of course, it will be a while before he'll have the chance; it would be suspicious if too many relatively healthy patients died of heart attacks within a short time of each other. But that's all right; all good things to those who wait.
Next time, he'll have to bring the mask.