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Batman/Punisher: Undead Reckoning
(© Robert Denham)

Page 1

Arctic winds swept through the cold concrete canyons and narrow back-alleys of Gotham; January snow was beginning to fall from white-gray, lowering skies. Increasing in intensity with each passing moment, it came to rest, steadily accumulating on the icy, cracked and worn pavements of the old city.

The weather forecast was ominously predicting "maybe not the storm of the century, but at least of the decade". Stores would rapidly be running out of basic provisions; there would doubtless be a run on bread and milk.

The sidewalk in front of the courthouse was jammed with a living mass of reporters—both TV and print—and dozens upon dozens of interested observers as the black van, marked GCPD, rounded the corner.

"There it is!" someone shouted, and the crowd surged into the cordon of Gotham City police sawhorse barricades, before which stood several police officers themselves, struggling to push back.

The van drew to the curb in front of the wide, majestic steps. The crowd paused, appearing to hold its breath in anticipation as the sliding door was opened, a pair of policemen standing before it. Three more cops, these in bulletproof vests and helmets, exited the van.  His team of three expensive lawyers fell in behind him.

Then, as its passenger, the focus of this media melee, stood and moved to the aperture, the silence broke into a loud babble of shouted epithets, questions and statements. There were even a few near-swooning cheers.

The verdict was expected, today.

Brian Henninger, 42 years old and a successful psychiatrist by trade, was handsome, thin, perhaps five feet, ten inches and almost utterly unassuming in manner and appearance. They usually were. He was wholly charming, witty, and very intelligent. They usually were.

Shackled and cuffed, but wearing an expensive, knee-length woolen overcoat over a light blue tailored shirt, expensive British-made suit and tie and glistening, Italian leather shoes, he scanned the crowd and smirked, his proudly-worn arrogance openly on display. They were here to see him, he knew, and he would, quite happily, give them the show they wanted.

He breathed deeply, soaking in the magnificence of this moment, his moment, and took a step onto the pavement. If he’d known, at the beginning of his deadly career, that his "extra-curricular activities" would garner such great adulation, he might have allowed himself to be caught sooner.

But then…no.

He smiled broadly at his fans, and felt a mingled combination of pity and contempt. The fools; the poor, jabbering fools.

They would leave here, today, each and every one, as he would, and go about their pathetic, mundane, uninspired existences. Family; friends; jobs; hobbies.

How gladly he would end their suffering; oh, it would be glorious for them, to end their lives as his playthings. The searing pain of excruciatingly intense physical and psychological pleasure, for both tormentor and tormented. Of course, it ended in their deaths, but what the hell; didn’t everything? At least their suffering would be at an end.

Yes, he would gladly be their guide through the labyrinth of their, and his, darkest fears and desires; but yet, no, he would not. Not any of these. Not even after his assured exoneration, he knew, would he ever return to Gotham City.

His guards took him by the arms, and led him between the barriers, toward the wide steps. Running the gauntlet. He smiled.

At the top of the 22 steps, between the majestic pillars, amid other uniformed minions, stood Gordon, the stoic Police Commissioner whose vaunted law enforcement department had failed to capture the so-called "Tool Kit Killer", and had had to rely, yet again, on his costumed, pet flying rodent. However, as Henninger had made darkly certain to note to himself, that "rodent" had outwitted and captured him. The Bat was, indeed, a worthy adversary for his signature, hard-won brilliance.

Across the barriers, microphones and tape recorders were shoved into his face as insipid questions were shouted. He waved, but his smile drew into a sardonic smirk. "Say nothing," his lawyers all advised, leaning in and shouting into his ears.

[ Continue to page 2 ]

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Genre:General Horror
Type:Long story
Rating:8.16 / 10
Rated By:8 users
Comments: 0 users
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