Tuesday, February 22, 2005

121. The omniscient narrator

As the hours crept by, Batman was aware of his sense of reality--so recently regained, back in the Cave--melting away once more.

On those rare moments when he could think with any degree of clarity, it occured to him that Strange must be administering a variety of different drugs, each with some different purpose. And then that thought would leave him, and he'd find himself floating... or swimming... or crumbling. Waves of pain and pleasure crashed against each other, and he took it all in, whether he wanted to or not.

In the darkness, he glanced down at the lower half of his immobilized body: no belt, no boots, no outer briefs. He knew what was coming next.

And it came soon enough: lightswitch on, former (?) partner ordered to pull off the next article of clothing, and then his tights were gone, joining the other items on the desk. Batman was now naked from the waist down, but for a kind of protective undergarment.

Hugo Strange ran his fingers over each article of discarded apparel. "I always admired your costume, Mr. Wayne. The armor of a modern-day knight. But now your quest is coming to an end. It brought you here, to me, and I will take over from this point on.

"I know you are wondering about Richard Grayson here. You have surely already deduced that he has been my patient for a very long time now. He came to me of his own free will, during a troubled time in his life. I was not aware of his connection to you at first. But he began making certain references during his sessions, references which raised my interest. Under hypnosis, he began to reveal more and more.

"I could not believe my good fortune: a path directly to you! You know how long I have followed your career, how badly I have wanted to reach out and help you. And here, without any effort on my part, was the key to your door."

Strange produced a new pill, this one pale blue, and eased it into the masked man's mouth. Another paper cup of water, another labored swallow, and it began its work.

The doctor observed his two patients: one well on the road to recovery, the other just beginning his path.

"I call it good fortune, but there are no accidents. This was destiny. Your destiny, and mine."