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Death of a Hero
Gotham. I’ve lived for such a long time there now. There seemed to be a criminal in every nook and cranny and there was nothing to stop them. Not even him. Not even the Batman. Gotham was not his city after all. The city was theirs, the city was owned by the darkness that consumed it, the darkness that fed it.
It has been so long now. I don’t even remember how he looked like. Gotham’s knight, the Caped Crusader, the World’s Greatest Detective, the Dark Knight. He was one of those that stayed in the shade of the dark. He’s just a memory of Gotham now, a legend, a used hero. They were all used. Harvey Dent, Doctor Fries, Harley Quinn all of them were used, including the Batman himself. But there was a certain difference in the Batman, a difference that made him who he was, a difference that he and the people of Gotham believed in.
It was a long time ago when the Dark Knight succumbed finally to his greatest villain. It wasn’t the Joker, it wasn’t the Penguin, and it wasn’t his any normal everyday villain. It was something else greater, something that he never took into perspective. It was Gotham itself that turned him down into nothingness. The people asked for his head. The people no longer wanted him around. I thought there was never going to be a day that such thing could happen but it did. Gotham was the one that put down the Batman into ashes. It was his own city that ended his life.
I remember a great chase, the Batman running for his own life. He had escaped a lot of things, death defying moments, but not this one. He was tumbling down. He slipped, he fell, he cried in agony. The entirety of Gotham, criminals and non-criminals alike, vigilantes and police officers alike. And there was me. I couldn’t just not join them. That would be insane; they’d kill me alongside him. They would gut me. I don’t know what got into their heads, but it was kind of his fault. He did kill those people after all. I had to join them. I had to stop him from running.
He fell down near my apartment building, in the alley ways below. He was in agony, in pain. He was limping. At his limping rate, he could never outrun the crowd that was behind him. I went downstairs as fast as I could. I ran the stairs and into the door that opens into the alley. I opened the door and I saw him face to face. His mask was shattered, his chest had bullet marks in them, and there were blood. It was his blood. He was shot down by the people, by Gotham. He thought that Gotham would never turn their faces against him, but he was wrong. Dead wrong. I was stunned. He was in agony. I heard his cries, I stood there, watching him ever slowly, limping his leg towards me. I couldn’t remember what he said, I was just there. Standing, watching him. The crowd was right behind him, they were in distant chatter, they were screaming for him and there was nothing I could do.
I might as well end his life. I thought to myself. I had a revolver in my hip holster. I felt its weight. I could be a hero if I did this. I could be in papers; I could be remembered as the one that stopped this homicidal maniac. I could be bigger than the Batman would ever be. But he didn’t do it. I knew that. I remembered when the news came that there was a huge explosion that killed hundreds of people and saying that it was his fault. My son looked at me in the eye that time and told me, “He couldn’t have done that, dad. Not him.” And I believed my son. I believed in the Batman. He dedicated his life for Gotham, there was no way in hell he could’ve done that. Somebody else did. The Joker? Ra’s a Ghul? Somebody else killed those people and blamed it on him. And for some reason, for some fate, that someone prevailed. Now, he’s here, dying and limping.
Batman reached me. I stood still as I look into his broken mask, into his tired eyes. I saw his mouth move.
“I didn’t do it.” He said to me. His voice cracked, tired, broken by the people who were coming after him a crowd that was not too far away now. Their distant shouts were now ever closer to both of us. I had to make a decision quick. Either I help this man who was convicted of the deaths of hundreds or believe him that he did not do it. That Batman did not do it.
There was footage of him as he slaughters different men and women inside that bank. There were some who begged mercy, begged for their lives, but they were denied. He kept going, first the guards. He snapped their necks easily and he grabbed their guns. He started shooting the innocent and they begged and begged but there was no one to save them. The police came and he escaped and left the dead behind like it was nothing. The next day, there was nothing, there was silent mourning for the people and their families who died. The day after that the people chanted for Batman’s life. Then after that day, Batman’s public apology, saying that he did not do it, saying that someone framed him and that he would find that person who did it. It was stupid of him to do a public apology like that without any proof that he didn’t do the massacre. It was stupid of him to show his face in public. There was chaos, people had guns with them and shot him. It hit him mostly around in his body. He was lucky he was able to escape, but now, he was being chased, with his vehicle crushed and everyone, as in everyone in the city of Gotham chasing after him, he had no chance.
I had to make a decision now. They were close, if I don’t they’d-
“Clayface. It was him. I know it now. But I’m too late. I’m too...” He coughed blood and he knelt before me. He was tired. Blood was all over his suit now. They’ll get him if I don’t do anything. They’ll get him if I don’t believe him.
I just can’t watch him die. Not like this. There is no glory or honour in a death like this. To believe that the people he dedicated his life for would come after him like this. To believe that he gave his life in making Gotham a better place. I have to do something.
I did the unspeakable. As the voices come closer, I took him inside. But it wouldn’t be enough, I still have time. They would find him eventually and kill him. They would enter this building. They would find him. I have to... It’s the only way. I took off the suit from him. His mask, his everything. There I saw Bruce Wayne, out cold inside my apartment. He wore a plain T-shirt which was now drenched with his blood. My boy woke up from his sleep and came to my room. I still have time.
“Dad, what’s happening?”
“Uhhhh... son, this man needs help. I want you to call an ambulance and tell them...” Tell them what? “Tell them that he was mugged. He’s a very famous man. You know the rich man in the TV?”
“Yeah! I know him! Bruce Wayne!”
“Yeah, him. Call the ambulance okay?”
He noticed what I was holding. It was Batman’s mask.
“Dad! That’s Batman’s mask! Is this man the Batman? Is this rich man the Batman?”
It was hard to believe. I didn’t see it coming either. Yeah, he said to the people that he and the Batman were good buddies and all. For pete’s sake we saw both of them together, but I guess sometimes it was more than what meets the eye. But I couldn’t tell my son that. I knew that I couldn’t. The voices come much closer.
“No son. He’s not the Batman.” I said. There was a lump in my throat. I can’t believe I’m going to do this.
“Then.... then who’s the Batman?”
“Remember what I told you to do?”
“Yeah. Call the ambulance for the rich man.”
“You remember the number right?’ I smiled to him.
“Of course dad! Tell me who the Batman is already!”
“Okay, okay, jeez...” I looked at the mask, the suit. I have enough time; this would save him, save him from them, until he could prove everything. I have to do this for him. For Gotham.
“Son.” I held him tight and looked him straight in the eyes. “Son, you won’t believe it.” I said trying to hold off the tears.
“What dad? Won’t believe what?”
I stood up straight and as I held the mask, I said, “I’m the Batman.”
I wore the suit and went outside, into the same alley where the people thought he was. It was a dead end after all. I don’t know what they would do to me, but that doesn’t matter. Bruce Wayne, no, the Batman, would still live and alongside that, Gotham will live. I am the Batman. I am the Dark Knight.
-a written note from a prisoner of Arkham.