Chapter 4: All Fall Down
Batman was driving deeper into the city as well as deeper into frustration. Every stop, every lead, every old hide out netted absolutely zero results. He looked at the time. Six fifteen. Time was rapidly running out for the five boys. He still had a list of haunts to check but how could he possibly hope to find them all. Ahead in the gloom he saw the tail light of a motorcycle and he swung wide to the left to pass it.
Just as he crested it the driver veered right into his path causing him to crank the steering wheel hard. The armored car’s weight threw it into a spin and it took all of his skills to keep what little control that he could. Moments later, amid a shower of dirt, rocks, and other debris the Batmobile came to a stop in a small clearing of an even smaller patch of woods. Ahead he could see the motorcycle turning and coming back towards him. Fast.
He hit the switch and his armor lifted around the car. He watched as the bike drew closer and he began to smile. In all of Gotham there was only one person who rode a motorcycle as distinct as his own vehicle was. And only one figure that fit a leather costume that well.
“Are you on official business Bruce?” asked the woman as she got off the bike. “Or just out looking to drum up business? If it’s business I might have something to interest you.”
“Hello Selena.” he said as he exited the car. “You’re looking well. It’s good to see you.”
Her name was Selena Kyle but greater Gotham knew her as Catwoman. She was an enigma, a riddle. Was she good or evil? Nobody knew. Nobody but Batman. He knew her on a different level than the city knew her. They had shared many a night together as Bruce and Selena, two normal people as well as nights together fighting evil. As he looked at her he thought he saw an extra bit of weight on her frame but he was too much of a gentleman to say so.
“Bruce, we really need to talk.” she said as if she knew what he saw. “But pleasure before business as it pertains to us. I heard through the grapevine you were looking for Harvey Dent. I just happen to know where he is.”
It was his first break of the night and he wasted no time in persuading Catwoman to show him the way. He followed the small glare of the single red tail light as she drove at a speed that was a good deal slower than she normally drove. It was six forty-eight when she pulled to the side of a small pasture just past the city limits. Batman brought the car even with her and lowered the window.
“A half-mile ahead Bruce.” she said. “You’ll spot a house set back from the road on your left. Dent is in there but I’m afraid he’ll see you long before you’ll see him. Be careful in there…we need to talk to you when this is done.”
As he watched her turn her bike around and disappear on the road behind him he suddenly became aware of what she had said. “We need to talk to you… We…”
He pulled the Batmobile onto the road with a strange smile on his face. The extra weight, referring to herself as ‘we’…it all added up to one thing. But for now he had a life to save and he now had exactly one hour to find four other hiding spots.
The road was deserted as he drove on. The house was as Selena had described…wide open. He turned the vehicle into the wide road that led to the house knowing he had been seen the moment he did. He didn’t bother to speed up but stopped at the foot of the house. He lifted the microphone from the car and looked at the home.
“Harvey Dent!” he said, his voice booming from some hidden speaker. “I need you to come talk to me Harvey.”
He waited a few moments and called out again. Nothing. He shut the car off and listened. In the dead calm of a countryside morning he could hear some type of equipment running faintly. Quickly he began to skirt the building remaining as cautious as could be, fully expecting Two Face to leap from every window, doorway, and shadow he encountered. He could make out the sound much louder now and turning the final corner of the house he saw Harvey Dent. He saw the wood chipper. He saw the feet of someone moments before they disappeared into the machine.
He sprang into action as the blood and bits of flesh flew from the top of the machine and scattered along the bushes by the side of the house. Harvey turned in time to see Batman almost on him and fired off a quick shot just before the masked vigilante crashed into him. Moments later as the Batman lunged the handcuffed Dent to his feet the chipper shut down, as it would when nothing more was being fed through. A flock of ravens descended on the field and greedily carried off all that was left of young Louis.
Batman looked at the time just as the police were pulling into the yard where he stood with the arch-criminal known as Two Face. Harvey hadn’t told of the other spots. Batman was convinced he truthfully didn’t even know them. It was already ten minutes past eight and he knew the others were gone just as this one had gone. The police informed him that the one named Niall had run into a police station just a minute or two before eight screaming for help. He was bleeding from his ears, eyes, and nose. Then he died, just as if everything just imploded. They just happened to have a doctor there for another perp and he shut the station down. Said the kid might have been infected with Ebola but they had never seen it work so fast. God knows how many others he infected on his way in.
High above Batman watched as a helicopter hovered for a moment. He watched a hand come out of the window and an object drop. Before he could react, the object crashed into the windshield of the police cruiser next to him. He saw a plain rock with a note attached to it and gingerly untied the note from the rock. It only had four words scrawled on it…
Because it was fun…
An hour later Bruce Wayne pulled up to Selena Kyle’s modest apartment in downtown Gotham with a bouquet of flowers in his hands. Less than a mile away Clarisse burped.