Wednesday, April 13, 2005

152. The omniscient narrator

Hugo Strange turned to face the source of the sound. In so doing, his cape brushed against a row of candles, knocking them onto their sides. Each flame ignited the surface it met--stacks of Strange's papers, the carpet, piles of books, and so on.

In his pain and confusion, Strange did not notice the fire growing behind his back, but the caged man did. Acting purely on instinct, drawing on reflexes honed through years of training, "Object X" stopped masturbating and slipped two of his fingers through the relatively flimsy bars of his cage. In seconds he had jimmied the lock and flung open the door of his dog-sized prison.

His plan--if you can call it that--had been to spring to his feet, push his master safely out of the way, then extinguish the flames. But the combination of untold days or weeks of mind-altering substances and the numbness brought on by his recent confinement made escape from the cell a major struggle. It was all he could do to drag himself out of the cage using his barely functioning arms, then crawl slowly along the floor in the general direction of Strange.

By this point, the doctor had collapsed onto the ground himself, gasping and moaning and choking from the smoke that was beginning to build up in the room as his blood continued to empty out of his body.

Can't let this happen, X repeated as he made his way with great effort toward the fallen man. Can't let him die can't let him die can't...

The pounding continued. "We know you're in there, Batman," a cop yelled.

Batman, the naked man thought. They mean him, but ... that's ... me... He stopped crawling for a moment to try and sort things out. It was no use; his head was far too clouded to know what was going on. Pure adrenalin was the only thing keeping him going now. Gut feeling.

And his gut now told him to crawl the other way.