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World's Finest Writer's Corner Canon in D: Part One through Nine *repost*

Discussion in 'The Story Board' started by SilentBob173, May 5, 2001.

  1. SilentBob173

    SilentBob173 Yes, a world screams.

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    Dick walked down the staircase to the cave with a coffee cup in each hand. Bruce sat staring at the computer and distantly typing.

    “Anything of interest?” Dick put a cup in front of Bruce. “Stiff and black, man.”

    Bruce took a sip, “It’s pretty dead. That always makes me worry. No one stays quiet in this city for too long.”

    “I heard that. What gets me is that its always the stupidest things! The last time I put Penguin away wasn’t because he was smuggling cocaine in from Brazil. He was sitting at the bus stop and some kid was blasting his stereo at him. When the kid refused to turn it down, Penguin shot him.”

    Bruce let out a sigh, “Madness.”

    They sat in silence for a little while.

    Dick searched to put an end to the awkward pause, “So... what’s up?”

    “Pardon?”

    “Just thought I’d try and strike a normal conversation for a change.”

    “Oh?” Bruce looked over at Dick for moment, and then back to the computer, “What do you want to talk about?”

    Dick looked on for a second. He then gained the look of confusion. He offered a short chuckle.

    “I... I- I can’t think of anything.” He laughed again.

    Bruce grinned, “And you wonder why we never talk?”

    “Why don’t we ever talk?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “There has to be some reason.”

    “I think it comes with the line of work, Dick.”

    “That, I can understand. I guess there’s just some topics you don’t want to stumble across. It’s the sad fact that we’re gonna die.”

    “What?”

    “Eventually, we will. How long can you go along, doing what we do, for as long as we have, and still keep walking away every time with nothing more that deep cuts and twisted ankles.”

    “Do I sense a rebellion?”

    “I wish. I don’t have the guts to hang up the Nightwing suit. I don’t even know why. I’ll bet its even worse for you with the Bat-suit. You’re more intense than all three of us put together.”

    “Intense?”

    “Oh, Bruce, don’t even with start with me. You’d sleep with that stupid pointy-eared mask of yours own if you had the chance. Do you realize what you like in that?”

    “What’s wrong with my mask?”

    “Bruce—IT HAS EARS! Come on, man, that costume is gay!” Dick laughed.

    “Oh, and what about yours? Let’s see, basic black with tons of accessories, where’d you get that idea from?”

    “You know what you need? You need to lose the cape.”

    “Now you’re complaining about the cape?”

    “That cape is huge, dude! That can’t improve the experience of swinging from one roof top to the other. One of these days, you’re going to be ganging up on the Riddler, and your going to trip and fall on your face and he’s gonna laugh his ass off.”

    They both laughed for a bit, and then things got quiet again.

    “Oh God...” Bruce stammered.

    “What?”

    “I just decided to take a look at what Arkham’s security cameras had to offer.”

    “...And?”

    “Well, take a look for yourself.”

    I.

    Dick got up from where he sat and looked on the computer screen. Bruce pointed to the top left corner “There.”


    Two doctors laid on the floor.

    “What happened to them?”

    Bruce tapped a few keys and the images enlarged, and then enlarged again.

    The two doctors stared back at them; their eyes lifeless and their face sporting a hideously familiar grin.

    Dick buried his face in his hands.

    “God! Does Arkham even lock its doors?!?”

    “That was three hours ago. He could be anywhere by now.”

    “Should I suit up?”

    “You can if you want to. Still, we know Joker, he’ll probably lay low until he wants to be found.”

    “I’m going out anyway. I won’t be able to sleep with him out there anyway.”

    Bruce silently wished him Godspeed. He knew he wouldn’t sleep anytime soon either.



    II.

    The wind howled through the dilapidated passageways of the long-defunct Ace Chemical Processing Plant. The smoke stacks and chemical vats were all near rusted over, and the rats scurried to and fro. No one in their right mind would feel comfortable in this place.

    He was not in his right mind. He liked here for many reasons. No one knew he had used this base of operations for years. He had always had ‘hideouts’ that posed to be found, but not even the Batman knew he spent his time here. The second reason was that this was where it all started. Almost seventeen years prior he had fallen from one of the high rafters and into a vat of acid.

    He walked through the winding pipes and vats and came to an office door that read ‘Manager’. He opened the rusty, creaking door and saw her sitting there looking depressed. All of a sudden, he burst in, jumping to the center of the room to make a grand entrance.

    “Honey! I’m home!”

    Her eyes got s wide as saucers and she rushed into his arms. “Puddin’!!!”

    “How you been, Harl? I missed you while I was away.”

    “I’ve great, Mr. J! I been keepin’ the place up just like you told me!” She tightened the embrace and sniffed his shoulder.

    “Sheesh, puddin’, you smell like work.”

    “Yes, Arkham does carry the odious smell of a doctor’s office. No matter. A quick shower and a change of clothes, and I’ll be as good as new!”

    --
    Commissioner Gordon stood atop the Gotham Police Department building. The signal flashed the symbol onto the clouds. He stared into the night sky, wondering; wondering just how terrible what he going to do this time would be. He was loose again. He killed without reason or motivation. How could it ever be justified that a man like that walked the streets.

    He heard a click and the signal light left the sky. Without turning around, he spoke. “I was beginning to wonder.”

    “What do you know?”

    He turned to face Batman, there were very thick bags under his eyes.

    “Nothing. That’s why I called you out here. I was hoping you had a lead.”

    “Then we have to wait.”

    “Yeah. Wait. Wait until we find some corpse grinning at us. All we can do is wait. Dammit.”

    --
    Joker emerged from the company shower of the plant with a towel around his wait. He walked over to the toilet stall farthest to the right in the bathroom. There, taped under the toilet was a package wrapped in a paper bag. A smile crossed lips as he caught first glimpse of the purple sleeve that fell out as he picked it up. It was time to get dressed.

    --
    Barbara Gordon sat the computer screen. She was very tired. She hadn’t slept in almost 2 days.
    --
    Tim Drake woke in a cold sweat. God... men weren’t meant to have dreams that disturbing.
    --

    He slicked the curly wet strands of his green hair back.

    “You know, Harley, I’ve been thinking.”

    “’Bout what?”

    “Those dreadful souls who run Arkham. Every time I unveil one of my greater masterpieces, they lock me and try and figure out what makes me tick. I’ve had more injections in the span of one year than a group of junkies do with a decade. I really do hate those people.”

    “Well, they’re just doin’ their job.”

    “So where the Nazis. I think its time they had movement to reconsider their profession.”


    III.


    Tim walked down the staircase of the Wayne estate. His sleep had been fitted with horrifying nightmares. He had not slept well.

    “Ah, good morning Master Drake.”

    “If you say so, Alfred.”

    “Slept well, I take it?”

    “Bite me, Alfred.”

    Bruce sat at the table reading the newspaper. His half-eaten breakfast sat in front of him.

    “What shall I prepare you for breakfast, Master Drake? Eggs Benedict? Perhaps I could put to use the French toast recipe given to me by the Queen’s...”

    “Bowl o’ Luck Charms.”

    “’Lucky Charms’?!? Unbelievable.”

    “Why don’t you just rustle me up some breakfast there, sweet cheeks.”

    Alfred walked to cupboard grumbling something. Bruce hadn’t looked up from his paper.

    “Anything new on the Joker?” Tim asked.

    “Last night I stopped a few robberies and such. None of it was attached to him. The Joker is still laying low.”

    “God...”

    “What?”

    “You wouldn’t believe some of the dreams I’ve been having.”

    “Of...?”

    “Nah, don’t worry about it. Where’s Barb?”

    “Still asleep. She was up all night trying to find anything she could. I walked down there at 5 o’clock this morning and she had fallen asleep with her head resting in her arms on the desk.”

    “Yeah, I have the strangest feeling that until Joker brings his head above water, we’re all gonna have a few nights like that.”

    Bruce let out a sigh, and the rest of breakfast was eaten in silence.

    --

    Dr. Ashley Ross was not having a good day. Old man Arkham decided to have her run some errands before she left her job at the asylum for the night. She called her boys to make sure they knew that their mother was going to be late. When she called, the babysitter told her that she was tired of waiting. She was leaving the boys to themselves and that when she came back, she wanted to be paid double. Teenagers.

    Her husband had left her two years ago when she found that he was having an affair with his secretary at work. When she caught them in her own bedroom, he claimed that he was glad she knew, and was tired of all this sneaking around. After that she and her two boys (Michael and Andy, now 9 and 7) were on their own.

    She walked up to her apartment building and tripped, falling face first into a puddle. It was the perfect topper to a perfect day. She wasn’t aware that the day was far from over.

    After climbing the stairs and dripping water the whole way, she noticed that the door was open a crack already.

    “Oh, they are gonna get it. They know better than to leave that door open.”

    She heard the television blaring in the family room.

    She walked through the apartment. Toys were strewn all over. One of them had drawn all over the walls with purple and green crayons. She was getting more and more pissed as she went along.

    Man, that TV was loud.

    She walked into the living room and there were the two boys sitting on the couch watching a Sesame Street tape. Someone was sitting between them with an arm around each of them.

    “Mmf...!” One of the boys made a startled mumble. It sounded like Michael.

    The man sitting between them looked at Michael. “God, I agree. Every time that simply brilliant Oscar the Grouch starts making a perfectly good point, that blasted fool, Grover, ***** it all up. The injustices in this world, I tell you.”

    “Hey! Who are you?!?”

    He looked back towards her, his face was obscured in the dark room.

    “Oh, hi mom!”

    He got up and began walking towards her.

    “I was wondering when you were going to get home.”

    Then, much to her horror, to the side of the couch, there lied the teenage girl who had been babysitting the boys, with a hideous grin on her face. She looked over at Michael and Andy, she realized they were tied and gagged. She tried to run towards them. Instead, he grabbed her arm and forcefully brought themselves into the light. The Joker smiled his nonchalant smile at her.

    “I have such wonderful things planned.”


    IV.


    Young Jack Napier stood on the street corner. He and his friends were only 16. They had no particular reason to be standing there; they were just bored kids. His friends, Dante and Randal, were not the best example of society’s youth, but everyone needs friends. An old lady walked passed them and Randal reached out and grabbed her purse.

    “Hey! My purse!”

    “Our purse now.” Dante stepped forward, snickering.

    “You damn kids! Rotten good for nothing-“

    Randal scoffed, “Hey, hey, now that’s no way to ask for your purse back. Why don’t you try asking nicely?” He pushed the old woman down.

    Jack, who had stood, back, not wanting any part of what his friends were up to, stepped forward.

    “Come on guys, she’s just an old lady, leave her alone.”

    Randal wouldn’t hear of it. “What the hell’s wrong with you, man? What’s she to us? I’m gonna- -“

    Sirens began blaring behind them. One of the shop owners must have called the cops.

    “Crap, man, the cops, get out of here!” Dante yelled heading off.

    As the two trouble makers ran away, Jack felt the need to stay and help. He reached down to help her up.

    She smacked him away, “Don’t touch me, you hoodlum!”

    “No, no, you don’t understand, I’m just trying to- -“

    “Get off of her, boy!”

    He turned to see a cop pointing a gun at him. He immediately raised his hands into the air. “Wait! I wasn’t... I, look, I wasn’t..”

    “That’s him officer, he took my purse and pushed me to the ground.!” The old lady yelled, pointing at him.

    “What?!? No! I wasn’t...!”

    “Save it, kid.” The officer put the cuffs on him, and then took him away.

    That was Jack’s first lesson that life is not fair.

    --

    Dick sat, staring at the computer.

    Tim sat, doing his times-tables.

    Dick looked at his 11 year old friend. He wondered how Bruce could justify bringing the kid into the business. He remembered doing what Tim did when he was that age. Jumping around like an idiot and wearing orange tights. He never did figure out why Bruce got the basic black togs, while he dressed like a Halloween pumpkin. He decided not to worry about it anymore. That was Tim’s problem now.

    He roughly rubbed Tim’s head. “How you holding up, man?”

    “Fine.”

    “How’re things at school?”

    “Fine.”

    “You know any words besides ‘fine’?”

    “I’m just tired.”

    “Me too. Just wish we had something to keep us busy.”

    A pop was heard on the computer and the screen began to flash red.

    Dick rolled his chair back over to the computer, and read the police alert that scrolled over the screen. His trained eyes registered everything in record time. When he got to one detail of the report, his eyes went wide.

    He pressed a button to his side and spoke into the machine it was attached to.

    “Bruce, down here. Now. He’s surfaced. Repeat. Joker has surfaced!”

    --

    Ashley’s eyes fluttered open. She tried to move. She noticed she was tied to a chair.

    “Good morning, Dr. Ross.”

    In front of her, a figure walked into the light... a figure dressed in purple.

    “Hope you don’t mind, I brought the boys along for the show.”

    He motioned towards Michael and Andy, who were tied to a stake, blindfolded.

    “Joker, please! I.... they, they haven’t done anything! Please don’t hurt them! They’re all I’ve got!”

    “I’m afraid you’re wrong, Dr. Ross. You’re all they have. Don’t worry about it my dear Doctor. They won’t have a single scar upon them... at least... not a physical one anyway.” The Joker’s shrill laugh erupted.

    --

    Batman stood by Commissioner Gordon in the apartment. Gordon thought about how odd Batman looked in the well lighted apartment. He wasn’t used to seeing him in total light. It almost made him seem human.

    “What do we have Commissioner?”

    “A stiff.” He motioned toward the pale teenage girl with the haunting smile. “Not much else...”

    Batman’s experienced eyes scoped the room. In between the couch cushions, there was a card.

    It was a business card from Ace Chemical Processing. Something was written on the back.

    ‘Batsy- I knew only you would be anal enough to find this card. This card should tell you everything. See you soon. –J’

    He crunched the card in his hand, and was out of the apartment before the Commissioner noticed him leaving.

    --

    “All of you at Arkham are the same, Dr. Ross. You must realize that. You get a truly troubled case in your hands, and the only reason you take any interest in them, is if they’re screwed up enough, they might get your name in a journal. God, you make me sick.

    “So, I’ve decided to make a point. If the folks at Arkham really want me in there that bad, then they must earn their keep, eh? It’s only reasonable, I think.

    “I picked your name out of hundreds. You’ve won my little contest, as it were! Another one of life’s random acts of injustice. You’ve heard the expression involving omelets and eggs. Sacrifices for a greater cause.”
    He put one hand in the other and gave her an almost sincere look. “Harley!” he broke the silence, “remove the children’s blindfolds, my girl!”

    “Uh, puddin’, could you come here for a sec?”

    Joker rolled his eyes and walked over to Quinn, who was standing by the boys.

    “You’re delaying daddy’s grand finale, Harley-kins. WHAT IS IT?!?”

    “Do we really need to keep the kids in here. I don’t think its right.”

    “I see. I understand.” He reached into his coat. “Well if you’re not with us, you’re against us, Harl.” He aimed his pistol at her.

    “No! Wait! I’ll do it!” She backed against the wall, “Please!”

    He smiled warmly. “That’s my girl. Get to work, ‘kay?”

    She removed the gags and blindfolds.

    “Mommy!” young Andy cried out.

    “Andy!!! Joker, please, let me go!”

    “For lack of a witty outburst, I’ll just say ‘No.’”

    He patted his breast pockets, then his pants pockets, then his back pockets, as if looking for something.

    “Now, where did I- - Oh yeah!”

    With a flick of the wrist, an old fashioned razor blade leapt from his sleeve and into his hands.

    Her boys began crying for her. She felt so helpless sitting a mere 10 feet from them, and not being able to soothe their cries.

    “Now, my dear, doctor, you may feel... a little pressure. Not to worry. I am a doctor... at least I killed a guy who played one on TV!”

    While his laugher echoed off the walls, he brought the razor to her neck.

    As the tears ran down the children’s face, the blood started to trickle from her neck.

    --

    V.



    Just then, the Batman arrived. Within the span of two seconds, he swept in from the loft, knocked the razor from Joker’s hand and pushed Joker to the ground.

    It didn’t matter, though. Joker had already traveled the razor from one side of Ashley’s neck to the other. Her screams of pain had halted. She now sat, unnecessarily tied to the chair, limp and covered and blood.

    Joker smiled up at Batman, as he was pushed to the floor. He too was covered in Ashley’s blood. They sat, staring at each other for a moment.

    “Morning!” Joker offered.

    Batman looked back at the fallen doctor and the kids who stood in crying disbelief at their deceased mother. He raised himself and his captive to their feet. Without warning he reached back and belted Joker across the mouth. Joker fell backwards and landed face first to the ground. Batman picked him up once again, pinning him against the wall. He gave the clown another good blow to the stomach.

    “You sick little vicious monster!”

    Joker spit blood, “But enough about my mother. How have you been, Batsy?”

    Batman kneed him in the chest while he was hunched over from the last blow. “Why?”

    “To give those stiffs at Arkham something to think about? I’d say it worked out greatly.”

    Batman was about to deliver another angry blow when he felt something hard pound the top of his head and he fell the floor with his head throbbing in pain.
    --

    Oswald Cobblepot looked from his cell window. He wasn’t concerned with the worries of the outside world. Right now, there was a beautiful black raven sitting on his window sill. The birds seemed to always have a kinship with him. He stroked the bird’s shiny black feathers with care. Then it happened.
    --

    “Keep your hands of my puddin’!” He looked up and saw Harley Quinn leaning on her mallet like a cane. “That’s my man your fondling. She gave him another whack to keep him down. She pressed the head of the mallet to his neck. Joker staggered to his feet, and wiped the blood from his lip.

    “Y’know, Bats, we never talk anymore. Why don’t we ever talk?” Batman said nothing. “ I think it must come with the line of work, eh? It’s the sad fact the sooner or later we will die. Eventually, we will. How long can you go along, doing what we do, for as long as we have, and still keep walking away every time with nothing more that deep cuts and twisted ankles?

    “Its a dangerous path we lead, Batman. Not both of us will tread it to the end. Who will win?” He dusted himself off. “Well, I’d like to think it’d be me.”

    Batman watched the Joker, he finally became one image again, as his double vision began to cease.

    “Tonight will be of great significance to us. Of that, I am almost sure. I wouldn’t reveal my greatest hideout to you for nothing, Batfink!”

    “You’re so sexy, when you’re poetic, Mr. J.”

    “Daddy’s working, Harley. Be seen and not heard.”
    --

    Edward Nigma sat in his padded cell with his face in his hands. He was crying. He didn’t want his life anymore. If they ever let him out, he would live his life for the good of the world. He would no longer be a figure the world feared. All his inner demons slowly became silenced. He was a changed man. Then it happened.
    --

    He began circling Batman as he spoke. “Y’know, Batman, I think... I think its time I told you a story. The first time I committed a crime, it was nothing. I ripped off a bank and was dragged in my the police. When they realized my physical appearance wasn’t the result of an over-application of cold cream, they instantly just knew I had to be insane. I was shipped off to Arkham without a second word and not the Jail house. I wasn’t good enough for the jail house! No, they sent me to the fun house! This world is a superficial one. If a look and style doesn’t meet standards then there’s hell to pay! Well, if hell’s what they want...”

    He got nose to nose with the Batman.

    “...Then I assure you, payment will be reached with interest.”

    Joker smiled his captive when he felt a quick blow to his groin and he tumbled over. He looked up to see Robin advancing on him while the Batgirl took on Harley.

    “Sorry we’re late.” Batgirl greeted as she roundhoused Harley.

    Batman staggered to his feet, and then said nothing as he moved into a fight stance. The Joker kept talking, though out of breath.

    “...It doesn’t matter, ... Batman. She’s dead. The kids... more than likely will mature with a Dahmer outlook on life. I’ve won.”

    Batman picked him up by the neck and raised him into the air. “You are going back to Arkham.”

    “Not the best idea you’ve had all night.”

    --
    Pamela Isley hung yet another plant in her padded cell. She thought about her next escape. She had the perfect plan this time. She knew exactly how she would put a thorn through each of Batman’s ears. She looked out the window admired the trees a little. Then it happened.
    --

    Joker sat beside the officer with his new black eye that was given to him just five minutes earlier. He sat there with an awkward grin on his face. He said nothing the entire car ride back to Arkham, which was unusual. The Batmobile followed close behind them. They were only half there at the moment.
    --

    Selina Kyle was staring at ceiling, thinking about Bruce. Then it happened.
    --

    Joker sat still. His eyes were fixed ahead. As the police car wound down the highway road, he gained a look of contentment in his eyes. He smiled and then spoke softly.

    “Boom.”

    Then it happened.
    --


    VI.


    Fire pushed its way through the asylum walls. Stone, brick, and metal soon became broken and charred. The skin of many melted and evaporated. Bone charred and flaked. Screams were halted as soon as they were created. Arkham Asylum had one hell of a hole punched through it. What was once the maximum security wing of the Asylum was now a hole in the ground.

    --

    Joker sat in the car with one other police officer. They had been at least a mile away at the time of the blast. The other officers in the car had gotten out to gawk at the smoking husk of a building.

    The entire building hadn’t been destroyed. Only the Maximum Security Unit. They all felt it though. Those remaining stood, covered in soot, or perhaps blood from wounds achieved from flying debris. They all stood at what was once Arkham.

    “Get him out here!” An officer yelled to the one inside the car.

    The officer grabbed the Joker, and pushed him to see Arkham.

    “Well! This just blows my mind!” Joker laughed. “Oh, lord that was bad... sorry, I must be shaken by the emotional turmoil!” He laughed again.

    Batman who had rode behind them in the Batmobile, leapt from the car and walked towards the party.

    Batman once again found him nose to nose with Joker.

    “Was this you?”

    “Duh.”

    Batman reached back to send him reeling.

    “Don’t touch him. He’s in custody.” An officer barked at him.

    Batman took a deep breath and calmed himself.

    “Why?”

    Joker was about to give a witty speech again as to why he did this one.

    “...I forget.”

    Batman’s voice became that of a tone that would frighten Satan.

    “WHAT?”

    “Must you be so judgmental, Batman? Look at it from my point of view. You’re hopelessly insane. You find enough supplies to make a time bomb, while in prison, no less. I mean would you not take advantage of such a once-in-a-lifetime chance? Besides, someone in there was bound to need some killin’.”
    --

    “Batman, alot of your... uh, your ‘usuals’ were killed in that explosion”

    “Who?”

    “The more appropriate question would be ‘who wasn’t?’”

    “Then who wasn’t?”

    “As far as those that were in custody at the time... Harvey Dent who was being transferred here from Pittsburgh, where his last crime was, and Victor Fries, whose suit is more durable than I like to think about. Fries escaped. We don’t know where he is... more good news.”

    “Who wasn’t in custody?”

    “Not too many. Hatter, Bane, and Scarecrow, off the top of my head.”

    “What happens now?” Batman looked out the window in Commissioner Gordon’s office. Nightwing stood in the corner.

    “What do you mean?”

    “Jim, this time he’s gone too far. Something has to be done.”

    Nightwing spoke up sarcastically, “Oh, good idea! Its a wonder no one has thought of that before! Pray, what should we do?”

    “Someone needs to spend time alone with him. Day in and day out. He can be rehabilitated. I know it.”

    “Rehabilitate the Joker? The very idea is baffling. And after today, do you honestly think any psychiatrist in the entire world would go anywhere near him?” Gordon was getting a headache. “He’s going to have to be transferred to a standard maximum security prison, as it is, with Arkham out of the picture.”

    “With no willing doctors, and Joker being the living booby trap that he is, who exactly do you plan on rehabilitating the Joker, anyway?” Dick asked.

    Batman took a deep breath.

    “I’ll do it.”

    --


    VII.



    Bruce had just arrived from the meeting with Gordon. He was pouring over Joker’s profile. He kept such things on hand for each of his adversaries. He must have read this one a thousand times, and every time he did, he would always flash back to that night years and years ago. Jack Napier’s screams still echoed from one side of his head to the next.

    Napier was a small time crook before the accident. He ruffled a few feathers, but never spent more than a day or two behind bars and that was only once or twice. He came from a broken household and had no living relatives after his mother’s death when he was 19.

    He was 25 years of age when the chemical plant incident occurred. He no longer recognizes his past life. During a session with a psychiatrist, he was asked what his earliest memory was. He replied “I remember standing there, minding my own business, when a moron in a flying rodent costume pushed me over the edge... in a very literal sense, I suppose!” and then laughed

    No one was sure what all the factors were that led to him mental destruction, and since he denied even having lived before that, it was near impossible for any psychiatrist to ever get through to him. And so he has remained for nearly 16 years.

    Bruce wondered what it was. What was it that happened in Joker’s pervious life that could have lead him where he was now. Bruce began to think about his own past. Two shots were fired dumbly in the dark. Perhaps it would have been possible for him to have gone just as insane under those circumstances.

    He didn’t like to think about it. Although, he didn’t really like to think about his current situation either.

    --

    Joker sat in a plain white room. He was strapped down and left alone. He began to whistle to himself. Despite his outlandish plans, he was easily amused.

    In front of him there was glass. It wasn’t two-way mirror glass. It was just set up so that he could see anyone on the other side, and they can see him. There was simply a chair and a table on the other side.

    A light came on the other side of the glass and Joker’s whistling ceased. In, walked the Batman. He had a folder in his hand. The guard who opened the door just stared in awe at him and then closed the door.

    Batman pulled the chair out and had a seat.

    Joker’s eyes went wide. He had not been expecting this.

    Batman let out a sigh.

    “Hello. I came to talk.”

    “’Why, bless my soul! Never in a million years would I have expected this! What a pleasant surprise!’... and all those other corny explicatives.”

    “I’m here to help.”

    “So, what’s with the tree-inch thick glass?”

    “I requested it.”

    “My, my, is the big, buff Batman afraid of the skinny, scrawny Joker, hmm?”

    “No. The glass was installed for your protection. From me.”

    Joker raised his eyebrows. “Oh.”

    “Now, as I said before, I’m here only to help you.”

    Joker rolled his eyes and sighed. “Gorgeous.”

    “I know you’re life hasn’t been an easy one, but I’m here to offer my hand in friendship. I don’t know why our relationship has to be such a fatal one. In our present course, we are locked in battle until the very end. If one of us doesn’t bend, we’ll be tormented by each other until one of gets lucky.”

    “God, did you come up with that on you’re own or did you get it off a soap opera?”

    Batman ignored him. “Look, if this going to work, you’re first step to being cured is regarding your past life. I’ve been reading up on you, and I think I can help you. Rest assured, if any thing is revealed in here you want kept confidential, then they will remain secrets. They will be secrets that are mine alone to know, ... Jack.”

    “Pardon?”

    “You can be rehabilitated. You can be made better.”

    “Lord! Listen to you! Don’t you understand? I don’t want to be better! I like it fine right where I am! Insanity is the only sane clause! If life is cruel and you don’t think you can deal with it, then don’t! You can go stark slobbering insane! Then you have an excuse for everything. My dear boy, I think you are the one in need of help. Do you honestly think that by running around in tights and stopping crime in one city of the universe is helping the good of the world in any way at all? You’re delusions sadden even me.”

    “And what saddens me about you is you’re delusion that you succeed at escaping anything with insanity. All you do is kill one person after the other, and for what? To obtain attention. You may think all life is a sham and you’re just ‘giving us the punch-line’, but face it. Let’s diagnose who’s really the sham here, Jack. What have you accomplished with your ‘plan’? You kill and kill and kill, and attempt to drive us insane, but they all go on living their lives. Life is no different today than the day before you fell into a vat of acid. You have accomplished nothing.”

    Joker remained silent.

    Batman spoke back up. “My time is up for today.” With that, he got up from his chair and walked out of the room.

    --

    Joker sat in his cell, on his bed. He stared at the wall, but he wasn’t looking at it. For the first time, life just didn’t seem as funny as it had before.

    --


    Bruce had just arrived from the meeting with Gordon. He was pouring over Joker’s profile. He kept such things on hand for each of his adversaries. He must have read this one a thousand times, and every time he did, he would always flash back to that night years and years ago. Jack Napier’s screams still echoed from one side of his head to the next.

    Napier was a small time crook before the accident. He ruffled a few feathers, but never spent more than a day or two behind bars and that was only once or twice. He came from a broken household and had no living relatives after his mother’s death when he was 19.

    He was 25 years of age when the chemical plant incident occurred. He no longer recognizes his past life. During a session with a psychiatrist, he was asked what his earliest memory was. He replied “I remember standing there, minding my own business, when a moron in a flying rodent costume pushed me over the edge... in a very literal sense, I suppose!” and then laughed

    No one was sure what all the factors were that led to him mental destruction, and since he denied even having lived before that, it was near impossible for any psychiatrist to ever get through to him. And so he has remained for nearly 16 years.

    Bruce wondered what it was. What was it that happened in Joker’s pervious life that could have lead him where he was now. Bruce began to think about his own past. Two shots were fired dumbly in the dark. Perhaps it would have been possible for him to have gone just as insane under those circumstances.

    He didn’t like to think about it. Although, he didn’t really like to think about his current situation either.

    --

    Joker sat in a plain white room. He was strapped down and left alone. He began to whistle to himself. Despite his outlandish plans, he was easily amused.

    In front of him there was glass. It wasn’t two-way mirror glass. It was just set up so that he could see anyone on the other side, and they can see him. There was simply a chair and a table on the other side.

    A light came on the other side of the glass and Joker’s whistling ceased. In, walked the Batman. He had a folder in his hand. The guard who opened the door just stared in awe at him and then closed the door.

    Batman pulled the chair out and had a seat.

    Joker’s eyes went wide. He had not been expecting this.

    Batman let out a sigh.

    “Hello. I came to talk.”

    “’Why, bless my soul! Never in a million years would I have expected this! What a pleasant surprise!’... and all those other corny explicatives.”

    “I’m here to help.”

    “So, what’s with the tree-inch thick glass?”

    “I requested it.”

    “My, my, is the big, buff Batman afraid of the skinny, scrawny Joker, hmm?”

    “No. The glass was installed for your protection. From me.”

    Joker raised his eyebrows. “Oh.”

    “Now, as I said before, I’m here only to help you.”

    Joker rolled his eyes and sighed. “Gorgeous.”

    “I know you’re life hasn’t been an easy one, but I’m here to offer my hand in friendship. I don’t know why our relationship has to be such a fatal one. In our present course, we are locked in battle until the very end. If one of us doesn’t bend, we’ll be tormented by each other until one of gets lucky.”

    “God, did you come up with that on you’re own or did you get it off a soap opera?”

    Batman ignored him. “Look, if this going to work, you’re first step to being cured is regarding your past life. I’ve been reading up on you, and I think I can help you. Rest assured, if any thing is revealed in here you want kept confidential, then they will remain secrets. They will be secrets that are mine alone to know, ... Jack.”

    “Pardon?”

    “You can be rehabilitated. You can be made better.”

    “Lord! Listen to you! Don’t you understand? I don’t want to be better! I like it fine right where I am! Insanity is the only sane clause! If life is cruel and you don’t think you can deal with it, then don’t! You can go stark slobbering insane! Then you have an excuse for everything. My dear boy, I think you are the one in need of help. Do you honestly think that by running around in tights and stopping crime in one city of the universe is helping the good of the world in any way at all? You’re delusions sadden even me.”

    “And what saddens me about you is you’re delusion that you succeed at escaping anything with insanity. All you do is kill one person after the other, and for what? To obtain attention. You may think all life is a sham and you’re just ‘giving us the punch-line’, but face it. Let’s diagnose who’s really the sham here, Jack. What have you accomplished with your ‘plan’? You kill and kill and kill, and attempt to drive us insane, but they all go on living their lives. Life is no different today than the day before you fell into a vat of acid. You have accomplished nothing.”

    Joker remained silent.

    Batman spoke back up. “My time is up for today.” With that, he got up from his chair and walked out of the room.

    --

    Joker sat in his cell, on his bed. He stared at the wall, but he wasn’t looking at it. For the first time, life just didn’t seem as funny as it had before.

    --

    VIII.


    “Yes, doctor, but can it be done?”

    “It can be done, Batman, but I do not think it should be a matter of ‘Can it be Done?’ as much as ‘Should it be done?’”

    “It’s what’s best for him.”

    “How would you know that?”

    “Once he knows he no longer is radically different from everyone, then it could prove to be a breakthrough for him.”

    Batman stood in front of Dr. Arkham atop the police department. Arkham had called for a meeting with the crime fighter to discuss his opinion on him taking the Joker under his wing. It obviously was not a pleasant one.”

    “Look, ever since you started having sessions with him, all he’s done is clam up and stare blankly into space with an angry look. That tends to concern us. Who knows what he could be plotting?”

    “Perhaps he isn’t plotting anything, doctor. Perhaps he is reconsidering his station in life.”

    “Not very likely, in my opinion. We’ve spent time around him, and...”

    “Oh, and I haven’t? Look, I’m the one who always throws him on your doorstep by the scruff of his neck. I’m the one who spends time with him. You people inject him with sedatives, and shove meals through the slot of his door, and even then, it seems like you people can’t keep him within your four walls for a matter of a few weeks. Don’t tell me who spends time with him.”

    Arkham gave him a look of disapproval. He didn’t like being shown up.

    “That man has destroyed my building. He shut down my life’s work. I had been guiding the mentally ill in that building since probably before you were born. Forty years of my life, he’s taken. All I want is justice.”

    “And justice is all I’m asking. For you. For me. For him. For everyone. We all need a moment of reckoning, Dr. Arkham. Now is the time.”

    Arkham furrowed his brow, and then sighed.

    “You have my approval. Our operating room is at your disposal.”


    --


    Batman and Joker looked at each other through the three-inch glass.

    “Hello, Jack.”

    Joker didn’t respond.

    “How are you feeling?”

    “Peachy.”

    “I’m glad to hear that. Have you done anything of interest lately?” Batman struggled to sound like he wanted to carry on a conversation with him.

    “Well, yesterday I sat in my cell all day, and today isn’t shaping up to be too much different, you idiot.”

    “I see.”

    “Do you?”

    “I have big plans today, Jack.”

    Joker didn’t respond.

    “We don’t have an actual session planned today. We’re just going to help you out a bit.”

    “What the hell are you babbling about, and stop speaking to me like I’m sort of retarded child.”

    Batman pressed the button on the com on his table and then spoke into it. “You can come in now.”

    Three guards came in and took hold of the Joker’s stretcher.

    “What the hell is going on, Batman. Who the hell do you think you are?!? If these monkeys lay one finger on me, so help me God, you will pay dearly.”

    With that, Joker was gone.

    --

    Joker was injected with a powerful sedative, something he was used to. They unfastened the restraints, and lowered him onto an operating table. His senses were beginning to become hazy. He saw the doctor’s going about their business above him.

    “Is the patient sedated?

    “Yes.”

    “Nurse, the melanin prompters. We’re going to need a whole hell of alot of them.”

    Then he fell asleep.

    --

    Bruce Wayne kneeled by his bed in his room. He was praying. He had made a big decision. It would either cure the situation, or worsen it completely. It was in God’s hands now.

    --

    Joker awoke in his cell. His head pounded. What had they done to him. He sat up in bed. Rubbing his forehead, he looked over to his sink. He caught a glimpse in the mirror. He felt his blood run cold. Slowly, he got up and walked across the dark room.

    His reflection became more and more clearly visible. His lips trembled.

    Gone, was the shocking bright white complexion, replaced by a healthy tanned skin tone.

    Gone, was the lime green hair, replaced by light brown strands.

    Gone, were the ruby red lips, replaced by a perfectly normal pinkish hue.

    Gone, were the intense eyes of the mentally lost, replaced by the warmth of the streaming tears of sanity.

    --


    IX.


    He sat in a chair in his cell, clutching his cup of coffee. His hands were shaking uncontrollably, and he had huge bags under his eyes. He shook his head very slightly back very slightly while he rocked in his seat.

    Last evening, he was ‘The Joker: Evil Cunning Extraordinaire.’

    This afternoon, he was ‘Jack Napier: Nervous Wreck.’

    Commissioner Gordon had spent all morning mustering the courage to go in the room with him, and then finally he entered.

    “Uh... how.. er, how are you holding up there, uh, son?”

    “Kill me... Kill... My God, I don’t deserve the... kill me.” Not for the first time that day, he began to weep.

    --


    Gordon sat in his office, filling out some forms on the status of Napier. There was a gush of wind. The Commissioner looked up to see Batman standing by the window sill.

    Gordon didn’t seem one bit surprised that he was there. “So... what brings you here?”

    “Cute.”

    “I do my best here. Somebody’s gotta tell the bad jokes in this town. That job became an opening just this past evening.”

    “What happens to him now?”

    “What do you mean? So he’s sane now. Great, grand, wonderful. Give him a ****ing medal. He’s still in custody for countless homicides.”

    Batman looked out the window. “I want to get him tried for parole.”

    Gordon shot up from his seat. “What?!? On what grounds?!?”

    “A plead of insanity.”

    “Don’t insult my intelligence, Batman. What jury would let him go?”

    “Then what harm would it do, Jim?”

    Gordon turned around and looked at his Police academy diploma.

    “Y’know, not to long after you were made public knowledge, I got the job that resides behind this desk. Since the very first day, I’ve pulled strings for you. Ones not even you know about. And in all those years, this is the first time I’m gonna tell you ‘No.’ Not this time, my friend. This is a bridge that I refuse to cross. Even I have my...”

    Gordon turned to face him.

    “...limits.”

    Batman wasn’t there.

    Gordon slumped back down into his chair and gave off a sigh. “Y’know one of these days, I’m gonna turn around, he’s gonna be there, and its gonna give me a heart attack.”

    --


    Batman stood atop one of Gotham’s twin towers. His cape flapped forward into the air, as he looked down upon the city from the skyscraper. The city went along with its life, unknowing and uncaring. The Dark Knight was lost in deep thought.

    A strong breeze whipped around him. It was cold and familiar. Someone walked up behind him. He didn’t need to look back. He knew well ahead of time who it was.

    “I just heard this morning.”

    Batman didn’t turn around. “How?”

    “The prestige have their way of finding out things. Its their job. Anything for a good scoop.”

    “And, here, I thought you were supposed to be the ‘straight arrow’ out of all of us.”

    “The night job isn’t what puts food on my table, Bruce. I need to make a living somehow.”

    “I want to have him tried for parole under a plea for insanity.”

    “Really?!?”

    “I just think he might need a little reckoning.”

    “What got into you? You almost sound like there’s a soul behind the eyeholes of that ridiculous mask.”

    “Now don’t you start.”

    “Sorry.”

    “What do you think of my situation?”

    “Well...” a deep breath, “I don’t think its a good one. You’re either going to be greatly victorious and then feel wonderful about it the rest of you life, or you’re going to fall flat on your face, Bruce.”

    “Thanks for the vote of confidence. Never took you for a cynic.”

    “Well, I’m learning. Or maybe just spending too much time around you.”

    “I’d choose the latter.”

    “So would I. Look, not too toot my own horn, but I’d hate to think of what could be going on back home without me. Whatever happens, just give me a call. I assume you know my phone number. You’d make your business to, right?”

    “Right.”

    Then, faster than a speeding bullet, Batman was alone again.

    --


    The gavel came swiftly came down, making a sound that echoed throughout the courtroom.

    The court had an impatient look in his eye. “Court is now in session. In the case of ‘The People v. Jack Napier’, we are prepared for opening statements.

    “Mr. Napier, how do you plea.”

    Bruce Wayne arose from his seat beside Jack.

    “Not guilty, your honor. My client would like to plead insanity.” Bruce sat back down.

    “I would?” Jack spoke softly. He whispered to Wayne. “Mr. Wayne, I appreciate you defending me and all, but I really, really, just don’t deserve any of this. I need to be put away where no one can ever find me. I—“

    “Quiet. This is what’s best for you, Jack.”

    “Please stop saying that.”

    “Look, the Batman referred me to this case, and frankly, I sympathize with you. You deserve deliverance, Mr. Napier.”

    “I deserve much, much worse.”

    “Shh.”

    --



    The lawyer from the other side of the courtroom stood.

    “Your Honor, I’d like to call to the stand, Mr. Martin DeBurgie.”

    A short, slightly overweight man made his way to the stand. His eyes were tired, and his beard was shaggy. He seemed almost frightened to be there.

    The guard let the shaken man into the stand. A Bible was put in front of him. “Mr. DeBurgie, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

    “Yes.”

    “Mr. DeBurgie, please describe the incident involving Mr. Napier.”

    He looked confused and frightened at first, but then he took a deep breath and spoke.

    “Three years ago, uh, my fifteen-year-old daughter was coming to Gotham from Oregon for the Christmas Holiday. You see, she lives with her mother. I hadn’t seen her in about four years. I had finally won a court settlement that let me have visitation privileges.

    “I went to meet her at the bus stop. When I pulled into the parking lot, there were police cars, ambulances, sirens and lights blaring. I... I, I went to the building, but, but the officer wou—wouldn’t let me in. I told him I supposed to meet my daughter.”

    Tears began rolling down his face.

    “My daughter... he... that monster... he... my little girl...”

    The lawyer raised his hand, signaling for him to stop. “The defense rests, your Honor.”

    “Mr. Wayne, your stand.”

    “No further questions, your honor.”

    Napier whispered, “I don’t remember that.”

    “What?” Wayne whispered back.

    “I don’t remember that at all.”

    “They caught you red-handed.”

    “I don’t doubt it, but I don’t remember a single, solitary detail about it. I’ve killed so many, Mr. Wayne, and none of it was significant to me. It was just casual. My God.

    --


    For the first time in the day, Bruce Wayne began to sweat. The day had not been going well.

    One after another, the friends and family of the Joker’s victims came forward. Some angry, some crying, all with hate in their eyes.

    “Your witness, Mr. Wayne.”

    Bruce hat an ace up his sleeve, however.

    “The defense calls to the stand, former District Attorney, Mr. Harvey Dent.”

    --

    -JS
     

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