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: It has been almost a year since I wrote my first Scarecrow fic, From a Whisper to a Scream, and to celebrate I thought I would write a follow-up to to the story. I hope you enjoy it!
Scream and Scream Again
The toxin comes alive in Crane's hands, the fluid gently sloshing inside the syringe as it glows bright green beneath the fading light of a dying bulb. A single drop slides from the needle's tip; he watches as the serum clings to the needle before falling onto the floor, spreading into a tiny puddle.
The unexpected success with Patient #5672 several months ago had surprised him. He had not anticipated the patient's death; although a violent reaction to the serum was the norm amongst his subjects, Patient #5672 had been the first to emit a final, rattling gasp before the life drained from his terrified eyes and the beating of his heart faded into silence.
This time, however, he is prepared.
Crane's gaze travels from the syringe in his hands to the patient lying on the cell bed, his body trembling underneath restraints.
Patient #7486 was first reported missing two weeks ago by Arkham Asylum staff when a routine morning bed-check revealed that he was not in his assigned cell. After a search of the institution failed to lead to a discovery of his whereabouts, the staff—not wishing to draw any negative attention towards the asylum—quietly closed their investigation. Already considered a number rather than a person, with no visiting relatives or friends to miss him (the same could be said of the majority of the patients; few individuals are willing to sully their lives with the stigma attached to an orange Arkham jumpsuit), Patient #7486 easily faded from existence; within a week or two, he was forgotten entirely by the staff.
Except for Crane.
He had played his part well, as always; wringing his hands with false anxiety upon "learning" of the patient's disappearance, he eagerly volunteered his efforts in recovering the missing inmate. In truth, Patient #7486's location held no mystery for Crane. When he discovered the patient wandering aimlessly through the hallway outside his office during one of his late-night research sessions, he recognized it as a golden and rare opportunity. Creeping up behind him with slow, painstaking stealth, he plunged a syringe into Patient #7486's neck; the man emitted a low grunt before losing consciousness and silently crumpling onto the floor.
During the entire investigation, not a single person bothered to search the basement. Abandoned for decades, they found it unlikely that the patient had managed to pry open the heavy, locked door by himself and escape into the dark bowels of the asylum.
It is, however much more simple if you have a key. Like Crane does.
Had anyone bothered to look, they would have found Patient #7486 in one of the basement cells, his chest slowly moving up and down in quiet, chemically-induced slumber, his arm hooked up to an IV.
Their mistake is Crane's gain.
Patient #7486 lets out a shrill scream as Crane moves towards him, syringe in hand.
Crane clucks his tongue disapprovingly. "Come now. There's no need for that. Surely you've had a shot before."
Tears slide down Patient #7486's face as the sleeve of his jumpsuit is roughly pushed upwards, exposing his bare forearm. "Help! Help!"
"No one can hear you, sir," Crane says, his tone flat. "We're quite alone down here."
The patient continues to scream for help, his face becoming increasingly flushed until his skin is a bright red, slick with tears and sweat. Crane stands in silence, unaffected, until the patient's pleas begins to falter and are reduced to ragged breathing.
"Are you finished?" Crane is becoming irritated. The fear the patient experiences before the serum is meaningless to him; it is cheap, expected fear, unimportant and unworthy of his time.
Patient #7486 swallows. "P-p-p-pl-pl-please," he stammers.
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you."
He takes a deep breath. "Please," he says, his voice shaking. "Please."
Crane sighs. "Hold on a moment."
He turns away from the patient, placing the syringe next to his briefcase on a small table. Hope fills Patient #7486 as he hears the clicking sound of the briefcase opening in the darkness.
He's putting the needle up. He's gonna let me go. He's gonna untie me and the second my arms are free I'm gonna reach up and wrap my hands around his scrawny neck...
Crane turns around and Patient #7486 lets out a raw, ragged scream when he sees Scarecrow's face. With a quick, fluid movement, Scarecrow jams the needle into the patient's arm and presses down on the syringe, injecting fear toxin into his system.
With Patient #5672, Crane had taken his time, administrating three small doses of toxin. For the sake of practicality and swiftness, he had combined the three doses into a single large dose. Patient #7486 has the honor of being the first to taste this dosage.
Whether he survives the experiment or not is of no importance to Scarecrow; it is unlikely that he will.
Scarecrow watches as the patient's face contorts in horror and fresh, terrified screams rip from his throat. Scarecrow leans forward, his burlap face inches away from the man.
"What's wrong? See something you don't like?"
Patient #7486 shuts his eyes, shaking his head violently.
"No!" Instantly Scarecrow's hands are on his face, prying his eyelids open. "Look at me! Look at me!"
Fear paralyzes the man; he is powerless under Scarecrow's grasp, his eyes bulging in terror as he looks up into unimaginable nightmares swirling in the burlap before him. Endless screams pour from his throat as he sinks deeper and deeper into his personal Hell.
Scarecrow drinks in the man's terror, feeding off of his agony. His fingers remain on the man's face, firm and cruel, forcing him to look into the black abyss that is his eyes, drowning him in them.
"Look at me. Look at me."
He watches as blood vessels begin to burst in the man's eyes, becoming a glossy red behind the tears. The screams begin to fade and he knows the man's heart is failing, that he is beginning to die.
"I am the last thing you will ever see."
A shrill rattling noise drifts from Patient #7486's throat as his pupils begin to shrink. Within a few moments, he is dead.
Scarecrow rises, turning away from the corpse. He reaches up, untying the rope around his neck, and removes his face.
Crane is now alone.
Carefully placing his mask into the briefcase, he gathers his tools; the used syringe and toxin vial will be discarded at this apartment—although unlikely to be discovered, it is imperative that he leave no trace of his project in the asylum. He composes himself; straightening his tie and suit jacket, smoothing his disheveled hair. All of this is done calmly and with precision—the experiment has not disturbed or affected Crane any more than it has Scarecrow.
The death of Patient #7486 will not haunt Crane; instead it will serve as footnote in his files, a step towards his ultimate goal. If anything, Crane gave the man purpose, granted him a release. In life, he had been a criminal, insane and doomed to spend the rest of his life decaying in a cell. In death, however, he will be of use.
Crane closes the basement door behind him, and with the click of a lock, Patient #7486 is lost to the world.