Monday, February 21, 2005

119. The omniscient narrator

When Batman woke up, he noticed several things in rapid succession: a throbbing headache, a peculiar numbness throughout his body, and two men standing near him staring at him. One man was Hugo Strange,now wearing a white labcoat over his dress shirt and tie. The other was--horror of horrors!--Dick Grayson, still clad in the attire of The Impostor, minus his mask.

It was impossible to miss the enormous erection jutting out of Grayson's tights.

Batman sensed, too, that his hands were cuffed behind his back, and he tried to reach for his belt, only to discover it had been removed and was now draped across Strange's desk.

"I see you're looking for your utility belt," Strange said. "And I believe you've just found it. Your friend here took it from you, at my command. You can probably tell from the look in his eyes that he is quite open to suggestion at the moment. My suggestion, that is.

"I know you must have a thousand questions. Believe me, there will be time for them all. No, no, don't bother trying to sit up; that odd lack of feeling in your limbs is the effect of a certain drug I've given you. You'll find it's all but impossible to move a muscle now. The batcuffs are mostly for show at this point. They will be removed in time, I assure you. But for now, they are a valuable safeguard."

Batman was taking all this in, wondering like hell how his partner had suddenly become the minion of a top-tier psychopath.

"Richard, the boots, please," Hugo Strange said gently to the younger man, who knelt at Batman's prone body and began to remove the caped crusader's boots, one at a time.

Strange turned his attention to his paralyzed prey. "A lesser villain would have unmasked you by now, perhaps even put you to death. But this day has been so long in coming that I've decided to draw out my pleasure in it as long as I possibly can. Your mask will come off soon enough--but we are both well aware that I already know what I will find underneath it. That victory has already been won. My goal now is to strip away all that remains of your old self... one item at a time. We shall begin with your costume. And we shall work from the bottom up, so that the removal of your mask will be the final stage in this phase of your treatment. Each time we remove an element of your costume, you will learn something more about my plan. And each time that happens--"

Strange produced the syringe again and thrust it into Batman's arm--"You will receive a new dose of medication."

By this time Dick held both of Batman's boots in his hands and presented them to Strange. The villain motioned to the desk, and Dick placed them next to the discarded utility belt.

"You may as well relax and enjoy this, Batman," Strange said to his captive. "After all, you're not going anywhere for a long, long time."