It was the letter than changed everything.
“We are not sure when you would read this but it is important that at least you of all people should know the truth.
Many years ago, the league of assassins started a movement to reform Gotham under the leadership of Ra’s Al Ghul. After initial setbacks meted out to them by the Gotham elite, a very dangerous plan was made to systematically eliminate the threats one by one so that Gotham would finally fall under chaos where the league can move in and assert its domain.
Under the guidance of a time traveller , Rip Hunter we came to know of who all are going to be the targets . Any changes in the schedule would have alerted the league to the fact that we are aware of theirs so a bold decision was taken. Multiple look alike copies were created out of volunteers in our organizations to attend multiple events in our stead, including family occasions. These brave warriors were well aware of the risks, but we still cannot forgive ourselves for what has been done. The league took the bait, and under the guise of random acts of violence, multiple targets were expertly assassinated. Among them were both mine and Martha’s dupes , gunned down by a league assassin disguised as mugger. As our son was not a target, we left him and our entire fortunes under your care , knowing that you would take care of him as your own as you have taken care of me.
Since a public exposure would cause tremendous repercussions, we began to operate in secret with fellow “elites” and formed our own secret society to counter the league operations , CADMUS. Everything was going as planned but there was an unexpected complication , Martha became pregnant again and we had a son. At the same time, the leader of our small group, Vandal Savage began to exhibit his true colors. Ours turned from a well wishers organization to something a little more sinister. The funds were redirected to scientific research and genetic mutation. Afraid of our reputations getting tarnished , we went along . During this period of time , all of us were under forced arrest in his base of operations , without any news or contact from the outside world . We would have remained there too till the end of our time , if not for what happened 2 months ago. Our son, an energetic 8 year old even under these trying circumstances , vanished . The search went on for days , but to no avail .
One morning , 2 weeks later , we got a message to collect our son from Savage’s laboratory . Shocked , we rushed there to find a broken husk of a kid , barely recognizable . There were deep scars on his body, the light was gone from his eyes. All that was left was the human vessel, our son was gone. He did not even survive the next week, and died peacefully in his sleep , not even recognizing us till his end .
This was an eye opener. Enough was enough .
I will not delve into the details of how that happened , but we managed to escape in the next 3 days. After spending almost all the money we could muster and calling in favors, we finally went underground in Bludhaven. Going back to Gotham was too risky for us and for you and our son. Meanwhile, we had smuggled out our son’s body to be deposited near one of the abandoned league bases .
Years of collecting intel on the league proved to be fruitful as this base had one of the last surviving lazarus pits . Even though the pit was partially destroyed , we were able to use it to bring our son back . The results were horrific to say the least .
As with all the victims of the pit, our son was brought back to life, afflicted with incurable insanity . That was not even the bad part. We have , till today, no idea of what has been done to our son under Savage’s direction. But the effect of that and the pit left him horribly disfigured.
The next few days were unbearable, almost as much as when we had to leave Bruce without a word under your care. Our son seemed to remember us , and then he would suddenly go out ranting and talking to himself . He refused to look at his disfigured self after the first day , but he kept referring to himself as a freak of nature.
This went on , till one day we found him all dressed up and ready to leave. By then we were so emotionally drained that we could not even tell him to not go. All signs of insanity was gone from him in that last moment, I still remember his last words to me “ At least dad, I would always be smiling “ . With a silver glint of tears in his eyes , he left our safehouse never to be seen again .
We are writing this letter primarily to let you know that it is possible that our son might come to visit our mansion, so please take care of him too which we know you would. Savage’s fellows are still searching for us so we would be constantly on the move now, a return address in not required in such a case.
Please forgive us for all the transgressions we have done, and I hope you would one day understand that all we did was to make the world a better place. “
Alfred was old, he was old 15 minutes ago when he opened the slightly muddy envelope to read a letter. There was no turning back now, no more delays.
He rushed out from the mansion after his master, before it was too late
It has been years since the plague known as Joker infected him. No matter how many times he was put away, he always came back ,came back for more . The Clown Prince of Crime always found methods to trouble him in the most gruesome way possibly , improving upon it every single time . The list of victims kept on growing every year; Jason , Barbara, Jim, Selina, Dick . This has gone long enough . Every time , the clown’s motive was to see me break , see me cross the line . It has gone far enough and the time has come to cross it . This time it hit closer to his heart than before, this time it was Damian. When he rescued Damian from the ruins of Club Penguin, he thought it was too late. But the kid was tough, tougher than Joker thought. He survived the blast , he survived the torture, but the damage has been done. Damian would never walk again, nor would he see. This has hurt him more than anything , just when he was almost considering laying down the cape to be with his son. It was time for one last showdown, one last debt to pay, and then it will be the end. The end of Batman.
Alfred was no master detective, nor was he physically young. But years spent at Bruce’s side has had its advantages. The bat computer was secure, very secure, for outsiders. To Alfred , getting the details was simple enough. The last files accessed, the last known location of the batmobile, the fastest way there. Ten minutes after he turned on the computer, Alfred was out of the house , rushing as fast has be can , towards where Bruce has gone, the ruins of the old Arkham Asylum.
The Sun was setting over the Gotham Skyline. The nights were peaceful these days, thanks to the Bat Brigade. Traffic was minimal too, but it took Alfred quite some time to reach his destination. The Asylum looked deserted. There were no sounds, no gunshots, no cheers. Just a heavy silence. He went around the building to the back, and there it was. The Batmobile was there, headlights glaring onto the courtyard. Once overgrown with weeds, it was as if a stampede has passed through. The grass were crushed, the rocks thrown around . A violent struggle has taken place there, the dark red stains confirming the same. With a heavy heart , he neared the front end of the car. There they were, both on the ground , both breathing still. With a sigh of relief, Alfred began moving towards them , but then again , he was never going to be on time. With a grunt, Batman got to his knees and took out a knife from his boot. A fine specimen, an assassin’s tool . A gift to the father from the son. It was fitting in a way, to end the story then. There were no last requests , there was no redemption . Judge, Jury and Executioner were all the same , and without a word , Batman plunged the knife down hard onto Joker’s chest. So hard that Alfred thought he heard the tip hit the stones beneath them. No surprise laughter, no jokes. The clown looked up at Batman for one last time. For a second , both Batman and Alfred saw something , something like tears in his eyes, then it was gone. Those mad eyes closed with one parting sentence , not directed at Batman but at Alfred who has silently approached them.
“Take care of him Alfred, Bruce needs you now more than ever” . And then, on this day, the Clown Prince has passed away.
The journey back was heavy with silence. No words were required between the two. Back in the cave, Alfred went back upstairs to get the medicines. On coming back , he saw Bruce starting a fire, a fire into which went his cape, his mask , his body suit. Batman has crossed the line, and that means he has to vanish, to end. He kept the medicines near Bruce and went across to the mini lab, to check if it was over. He pulled out the sheets , and kept them near Bruce along with the letter. After the fire was done, he stitched up the battered Bruce and went on his way upstairs. At the door , he turned back to see him reading the letter . With a sigh, he went back up.
It was nearly 2 hours before there was a knock on Alfred’s door. It was Bruce. His face a stone mask, there was just one question he wanted to ask Alfred.
“Did you check it?”
“yes master Bruce”
“It was positive “
“Thank you Alfred”
And then he left .
Joker’s body was found the next day by a bunch of kids. The news spread like wildfire of the death of Joker. Questions arose about Batman , about how he has finally gone against what he stood for. There were no answers , there was no Batman. The GCPD has declared him a vigilante wanted for murder , a shoot at sight order was issued, but there was no sign of him. Batman has vanished.
2 months later …
Gotham has come crashing down after the death of Joker. The continued absence of Batman has brought out the worst the city has harbored . Over the years , they had remained silent , hiding in the shadows. But no more. The city was in chaos, and the police were reduced to being a joke again. There was no one left to control them.
An old man was sitting staring at his own face in the mirror. Slowly, he began coloring his hair bright green. Then it was the face …made chalk white. The grin was the hardest , but he managed to make it look the same with prosthetics . It took a long time, but it was done. The man suited up, wearing his purple suit with the pretty flower at his breast, pin tie and pointed boots. The similarity was there, almost too similar now that the dresses were also similar. He went inside to say goodbye to his wife, handing over his wedding ring and pocket watch to her.
“You don’t have to do this Thomas”, she was almost crying .
“No Martha, I have to. The city needs Batman”, his voice was steady.
“I know , but why does it have to be you”
“Because there is no one else, no one else left. There has to be a Batman in Gotham , and for that there has to be a Joker . Our son is gone now, time for me to carry on his work . Take care of yourself “
With these parting words he shuffled out of their house , set far back from any path or road. The farther he moved away from the house , his gait changed. Gone was the stoop, gone was the shuffling movement of an old man. The steady steps were taking him to his destination. Slowly he began to laugh, the maniacal laugh of a deranged mind. It went up in volume till the whole woods were reverberating with it . And slowly he walked towards the city, to be there again , as the Clown Prince of Crime , as the Joker.
Disclaimer : All the Characters and locations mentioned in the story above are all registered trademarks of Warner Bros Entertainment and DC Comics. This is a pure work of fiction based on my ideas alone and is in no way reflecting on the current and past story lines published by the owners