The Amazing Bat-Man

Part 1

"Eve of Destruction"

Bruce Parker stood at the picture window of his parlor in austere Parker Manor, looking out over the entrance to the estate as the snow drifted down from the sky, a light dusting swirling around the walkway to the house. It was Christmas eve. It was around the holidays that Bruce felt the loneliest. If not for his butler, Benjamin, he would be the sole occupant of this sprawling mansion.

"Master Bruce," Ben called from the doorway, "would you care for something to drink?"

"Yes, Ben," Bruce answered, "Scotch. Bring something for yourself and join me by the fire?"

"Splendid sir. What better way to get in the holiday spirit?"

Bruce settled into his favorite chair, staring into the crackling fire. He began to drift back, but Benjamin brought their drinks and sat down on the couch on the other side of the fire from Bruce.

"It's hardest around the holidays, Ben. I've been thinking a lot about them lately."

"I know sir. I've thought of master Thomas and your mother many a time as I've been making preparations for the annual Parker Christmas soiree. I remember your mother always being so excited for Christmas morning, anticipating your joy over the gifts and the family dinner. Your father was giddy as well, though his mind was on the evening's festivities, gathering his friends and business associates to celebrate, and perhaps angle for the coming year's contracts. It all still seems so…vivid."

"For me too, Ben. I can remember all the presents: the train, the Erector sets, even the stuffed bear. I think that might be my earliest memory. But I'm thinking of…," Bruce's voice trailed off.

"I know sir." Ben had heard the coming story countless times before, and knew, for better or worse, he would hear it many times again.

"I just keep going back to that night. We went to go see The Nutcracker ballet. I can remember pitching quite a fit over that," Bruce said with a smirk. "It was snowing the same way it is tonight; soft, not sticking to the ground. I remember looking up at the lights on the city streets, decorated with Christmas lights and the swirling snow making it look something like the northern lights. I remember you didn't drive because Dad wanted to take the new Continental. He parked so damn far away. He didn't want to scratch the paint. We walked and walked, and rounded a corner and there he was. He had this far away look in his eyes, looking through the tops of his eyelids. He held up a gun, and just shot. No words, no demands. Maybe we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, I don't know. I was just frozen, standing there, and then Mom and Dad just fell down. I was still frozen, just sitting there while he ran away. I should've stopped him before he ran away. I should've stopped him when I first saw him. I just felt so…powerless."

"You were just a child, sir. It couldn't be helped."

"That's just it. I was helpless. I said to myself 'never again'. I wouldn't be powerless. Dad was a powerful man, you know. He always told me to be weary of the trappings of success. That's why I was never really spoiled at Christmas time. He wanted to make it clear that it was more important to show gratitude to those important to you, and use our position in society to help the less fortunate. He said that 'with great power comes great responsibility'. Now the Bat-Man is my power, and the city of Gotham is my responsibility."

"Well said, sir. This time of year may be difficult, but I know you and I and your bevy of well wishers tomorrow will still find joy in the season," Benjamin said, standing up. He knew Bruce would want to be alone before he retired for the night.

"Thanks, Ben. You know, you've always been like an Uncle to me, and I appreciate you listening to what I have to say. It helps."

"It's the least I can do after all these years," Benjamin said, but before he could continue the doorbell rang. Bruce shot a glare toward the front of the house.

"Something's suspicious Ben. No one should be calling this late on Christmas eve, much less with the front gate closed."

"Perhaps it's some wayward soul seeking respite for the night. It wouldn't be the first time such a thing happened on Christmas."

"Very cute, Ben, but you better let me go answer the door. Something may be afoot."

"As you wish, sir."

Bruce Parker cautiously opened the front door to his mansion, slowly peering around the door to find a note on the step and footprints leading away. Bruce opened the plain white envelope, taking out a bright green plain card. It read:

"See ya tomorrow, Brucie! Maybe you'll get some lucky girl under the missletoe! -G.G."

"G.G., eh?" Bruce muttered to himself, "The Grinning Goblin!"