Sunday, April 10, 2005

149. The omniscient narrator

Time seemed to stand still as the two thugs watched their victim slowly bleed to death in the alley. The only thing that shook all three men out of their shared reverie was the sound of a police siren in the distance.

"Shit," Rob said. "That bitch musta called the cops. We gotta get out of here. NOW."

"What about him?" asked Tom, pointing to the costumed man who was writhing on the ground. "Are we just gonna leave 'im here?"

"Our little gift to the GCPD," Rob replied, laughing once more. "They've been tryin' to find this guy for years. Now, come ON." He was already beginning to run, and it was all Tom could do to keep up with him.

The siren had had its effect on Hugo Strange, too. It meant he was safe--for now. But he was also aware that if he did not act immediately, the police would surely find him, and then he'd be in even worse shape than he was right now. Once his attackers were gone, he felt a burst of sheer adrenaline. Grabbing hold of the side of the nearest object--a dumpster, as it turned out--he managed to bring himself to his feet and began walking--stumbling, really--away from the scene.

As he approached the end of the alley, he remembered something. Need this, he thought as he reached back for the cowl and replaced it on his head before he crossed the intersection.

His path back to the office was far less cautious; there was no thought of scaling fire escape ladders this time, no rooftop heroics. He was also far less self-aware than he'd been earlier; all that mattered was getting back to the office alive and, ideally, unseen.

There was much he did not notice or care about this time around: the scurrying of rats in the alley. The occasional passing vehicle. Or the trail of blood he was leaving behind, a trail that would lead anyone who cared to follow it straight to its source.