Disclaimer: I do not own the Joker, Batman, or Gordon. Please don’t sue me or steal my story. Thanks!
BATMAN: The Man Behind the Grin
By Rowena Zahnrei
Inspired by: Batman #85 “Batman—Clown of Crime”
Detective Comics #168 “The Man Behind the Red Hood”
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Going Sane
Batman: The Man Who Laughs
“…I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you
“Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You'd know what a drag it is
To see you.”
Positively 4th Street
A maniac’s laughter ricochets around the dim, cavernous space—a decrepit, decaying warehouse, one of many that line the seedy docklands of Gotham Harbor. Outside the building’s shattered windows, lightening flashes. The blinding bolts highlight the rain that sheets down from the curdled nighttime sky to puddle on the stained concrete floor.
Clanging footsteps from above—a catwalk! Two shadows, one long and lean, the other caped and menacing, race across its treacherous length. The slender man is in the lead, his chalk-pale face stretched into a broad, toothy rictus. Nimbly, he climbs over the safety railing and leaps for the support pole nearly two meters away. The caped figure is forced to pause at the railing as his quarry’s laughter cuts the air. “Toodles, Batsy!” he waves as he slides down the pole. “Ha HA hee hee wheee!”
Expressionless, the caped man pulls a grappling gun from his belt and fires the customized hook toward the ceiling. It catches an exposed, metal beam and he swings from its attached cable, his cape billowing behind him like the wings of a monstrous bat.
The Batman lands first, his boots splashing heavily in the pooled rainwater. His ghost-faced quarry cackles again and jumps the last few feet to the ground, performing a series of oddly graceful leaps and twirls as he edges for the side entrance, all the way at the other end of the building. The Batman watches for a moment, disgust etched in every line of his face. But the madcap dance is deceptive; there is method somewhere in this man’s madness. The Joker is avoiding the deeper puddles, keeping his polished shoes as dry as possible. Batman crouches low, touching the dark water with his gloved finger and bringing it to his nose.
“Gasoline…” he realizes. The entire floor is coated with it and, as the rain pours in, the slick, flammable liquid is rising to the surface.
The Batman surges to his feet. “It’s over, Joker,” he proclaims, once more brandishing his grappling gun. “Stop where you are.” The slim man rolls his eyes and giggles, but doesn’t slow his dance. The exit is in sight now, his getaway car and waiting henchmen in view. Still, he can’t resist hurling a taunt back at his pursuer.
“Oh please, Batman! After all these chases, all these games, the best you come up with is a hackneyed line like that? What’s next? ‘The gig is up?’” He laughs. “Well, whatever floats your boat, right? Don’t let me rain on your hit parade! Ha HA ha ha ha haa!”
“This isn’t a game, Joker,” the Batman growls. “It never was. You have one chance. Hand over the Tetch microchips or—“
“Or what?” The Joker smirks as he sideswipes another puddle, his long purple coattails flaring out behind him in a demented parody of grace. “You’ll harm me? Beat me to a bleeding pulp, then lock me away for years and years and years and years? Sorry, Bats, but that one’s been tried too. And we both know you haven’t the stomach for anything stronger.”
The clown’s eyes glint with mocking challenge, as hard and cold as chips of jade. Batman’s square jaw clenches and he pulls the trigger of his gun. Quicker than he can blink, the cable wraps around its target, cutting into the Joker’s arms as it pins them to his sides. The startled criminal overbalances and falls face-first into a reeking puddle, saturating his tailored suit and staining his spats with rust and tinted gasoline. The Batman leans over his fallen foe with the smallest of smiles.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t expect that,” he says. But before the Joker can respond, a burly hood in a clown mask hoves into view, followed by six more. Almost simultaneously, a siren wails and flashes at the far end of the warehouse and a small wall of uniformed police come crashing in through the main doors.
“No, no, not here. Not now…” the Batman mutters, and the Joker starts to cackle. With a grunt that’s more annoyance than exertion, Batman hauls the sopping madman over his shoulder like a sack of soggy rice and fires his grappling gun into the air.
The standoff between cops and crooks lasts barely three seconds. Joker’s goons fire first and the cops respond quickly, their bullets sparking dangerously as they collide with decayed pipes and unshielded wiring. As projectiles fly, the grappling gun’s metal cord wraps around what appears to be a gas pipe, but as it is forced to take on the weight of the Batman and his prize, the corroded metal begins to bend and crumble, revealing the bundled wires inside. Lightening flashes, thunder rumbles, and bullets ping, but the Batman continues to rise higher, gambling that the wires will hold until he and the Joker can reach the catwalk. Bound as he is, and slung unceremoniously over the Batman’s cowled shoulder, the Joker cannot see the danger above. He sees only the hail of bullets beneath their dangling feet, and he taunts, “You better not let me fall, Batman! I fully intend to sue if, while in your care, my precious person is dropped, dented or otherwise damaged!”
Batman blocks out his foe’s mocking tones. The cord has cut completely through the pipe now—they are dangling from only three fat wires that are drooping more dramatically every moment. It is clear they won’t reach the catwalk before the cord slices them too. There is no choice but to descend.
“Wha—what do you think you’re doing!” the Joker yelps as they sink closer to the gunfight. “UP! Go up! It’s murder down there!”
But it’s already too late. The wires snap in an explosion of sparks and the cord goes slack. As they fall, the Joker’s struggling stops and he erupts into hysterical laughter. The Batman remains calm. He spreads his cape to deflect the flying bullets as he tucks himself into a roll, absorbing the impact of their fall with the Joker clasped securely in his arms. It is a skillful landing, technically flawless—but for one detail. As Batman and the Joker crash into the ankle-deep water, the sparking wires fall to ground directly beside them. Carried by the water, the electric current shoots through the foes with shocking violence. Their muscles clench, their hair crackles—and the stolen microchips secreted in the Joker’s vest pocket burst to sudden, unexpected life…
…mere instants before the floating gasoline and its rising vapor explode in a fireball rush of flame and displaced air.
To Be Continued...
Sooo..... Any opinions?
[Edited on 5/12/2010 by Rowena]