Thursday, April 21, 2005

155. Alfred

I cannot possibly hope to convey the emotions I am feeling at this moment in mere words.

Every day for weeks I have been watching the calendar, dreading the passage of time. The longer Master Bruce was absent, the worse I assumed his predicament must be. I confess I had almost abandoned all hope of ever seeing him again, and I have lately begun preparing an announcement of his death in keeping with his longstanding instructions. The steady stream of phone calls and mail demanding his attention only compounded my intense anxiety. Each time I replied to an inquiry with the stock story about extended international travels, I winced. I did not know how much longer I could maintain this facade.

And then last night, unable to sleep, I made my way to the "Batcave" at approximately 3 a.m. I am not certain what I intended to do--routine maintenance on equipment which has not been used for months? Computer research? To be honest, I think I simply wanted to be able to grieve.

Entering the room, I knew immediately that something was amiss. Call it an instinct, but I sensed I was not alone. I looked up, and there they were: my employer and his companion!

My initial shock and joy were quickly supplemented with something akin to horror: each man was naked, bruised, and scarred. It was clear that they had been tortured; whatever else they had been subjected to was unclear, and I did not dare attempt to imagine it.

The situation only grew worse. "Master Bruce!" I exclaimed. "Master Richard! Thank god you're all right!" Neither man responded in any way; they simply stared silently into space. It was as if they did not recognize their own names. They were clearly in shock. I have no idea how they were able to make their way back to Wayne Manor from wherever they had escaped. In fact, I still know almost nothing whatsoever about what has befallen them.

I led Master Bruce to his master bedroom and Master Grayson to the guest room he often used in the past. It is morning now, and I have not heard from either of them yet. I intend to allow them to continue sleeping for as long as need be. Whatever they have endured, I suspect they have a long journey to recovery ahead of them, and they will require every bit of strength they can muster.