Monday, September 03, 2007

291. The omniscient narrator

The four men stood with their heads bowed. Each was bare-chested and wore dull gray uniform pants. Lacking their more familiar clothing, the best way to tell them apart (other than Robin's mostly hairless torso) was by the hoods pulled over their heads. While each shared a basic color and design--jet black, covering the entire head, no eyes or mouth currently visible--the material and/or certain details varied from one wearer to the next. Robin's was pure spandex, clinging so tightly to his skull that it revealed traces of his hairline and eyebrows. Green Arrow's was a rough cloth, tied in the back. These two were designed without openings of any kind, though the wearer could still see and breathe in a limited way. Both Batman and the Magus had been outfitted with leather hoods--the latter possessed only the tiniest of holes to allow in little pinpricks of air and light, while Batman's featured removable panels to expose or cover the ears, nose, and mouth, all of which were currently snapped shut.

"You are seeing the latest phase of a long and slow process during which their old costumes were removed and their new uniforms introduced," Crane said from the podium. "As soon as they were captured, we removed all their tools and weapons, of course. In the days that followed, we took away one item every three days: gloves, capes, belts, tights, and the like. At your request, they were all unmasked in a dark room, their true faces seen by no one yet, They've been wearing these hoods for almost a month now. The lower half is lifted slightly once a week so that the prisoners may be shaved. Their beard growth is fed to them in that evening's meal as a regular reminder of their defeat."

"Now that's a perverse touch," HateMonger said.

"Thank you, Sir," Crane replied, smiling slightly. "Perversion is my business, after all."

HateMonger's expression darkened. "Your 'business'--one for which you are being paid quite lavishly, I might add--is to break these men, totally and completely. Nothing you've shown me thus far convinces me you've done that."

"Be patient, my good man," Scarecrow said. "The fun is just beginning."