Batman/Punisher: Undead Reckoning
(© Robert Denham)
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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
[ Continue to page 2 ]