Darker Times

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Fiction

In order for this indulgence of mine to work, I had to assume a couple of things. First, if Batman was to be the original Batman, the date of his parents death would crawl forward just like his date of birth. Second, I sort of ignored some of the goofier DC canon. I don’t have the time to sort out their continuity, so if this angers you, please try to remember that I’m writing what is essentially fan fiction. I’m presenting it in two parts, mostly because I have to go to work soon.

I’ve been sitting on this rooftop for almost twenty-four hours now. I’m freezing. It’s the kind of November day when Gotham’s homeless population starts to die. In some places, the snow on the ground could make a beautiful white blanket that would mask the city’s flaws. Here, it immediately turned to grey slush. A car drives by beneath me, the steady plash and the trails of sprayed slush marking its passing. It’s almost sundown, and three people will be leaving the theater across the street soon. I’m here to kill two of them.

I watch the theater through a set of tiny field glasses. The dusk makes the shadows impenetrable and the lights from the gaudy oversized marquee won’t help until actual darkness falls. I watch the foot traffic on the sidewalk. For it being 1974, there are a lot of black and brown coats. Maybe it’s the neighborhood. I pocket the field glasses. My job is easy. There’s probably a good year-long window of opportunity to make sure these two people die. Not that I’d let it drag on that long. Ra’s, on the other hand – he’s got his work cut out for him. Maybe old age is finally catching up with the bastard. He must have a plan for babysitting these people for years to come, but it still seems crazy.

I rub my gloved hands together. They don’t warm up. The sun is just a backlight to the Gotham skyline now. It’s beautiful, in its own way. It’s easy to forget little things like that when darkness is the universal signal for the human roaches that infest this place to come out. I know they are there. I can even name at least two of them. Somewhere below me, there’s a mugger named Joe Chill. Joe has a date with destiny tonight, and I’m here to make sure it happens. The second one is the Demon’s Head himself, Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s is Greenpeace-meets-Al-Qaeda, and he’s a brilliant scientist to boot. He’s figured out how to do what other-dimensional gods and superpowered lunatics from across the universe have all failed to do. He’s going to kill the Batman.

I guess that’s a little melodramatic. First, Ra’s is trying to prevent the inception of Batman. Second, I’m here to stop him. My job’s easy: make sure Thomas and Martha Wayne die and give little Bruce something to brood and obsess over for the rest of his life. Ra’s has to keep the whole family alive long enough for the boy to grow up well-adjusted. I know I come out looking like the monster here. I don’t care. Batman and I were always at odds over this. He has his line that he won’t cross, but I know the truth. The truth is that when you see a cockroach in your house, you kill it. Still, I know that Batman has been good and necessary, so he has to exist. I’ll pay the penance for tonight.

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