I’ll never forget the night I decided to end my life of crime.
For the past few months, me and a gang I’d started up had been running a pretty successful drug operation out of a warehouse on Gotham's Docks. During the day, the rusty old warehouse was left abandoned and all our contraband was stored away from prying eyes. By night, however, we were busy mixing and selling narcotics and other illegal pharmaceuticals to our clientele. Our clients mostly consisted of middle-aged drugheads and shifty looking youths looking for a quick fix. Our operation was small, so we’d managed to stay below the cops’ radar. But the cops in this town were all useless or corrupt anyway, so I hardly worried about them.
All of that changed in one horrific night that gives me nightmares to this day.
It was around midnight. Our ‘business’ normally opened up around this time. I was sitting in my office at the back of the warehouse, watching the game while about a dozen of my boys patrolled around outside, chatting it up, keeping watch of things, and being available to customers. We’d been at this drug dealing game long enough for me to just leave them to it while I did basically whatever.
It honestly wasn’t a very busy night. I think maybe one dopehead in his late teens wandered in to pick up some narcotics, but that was about it. We’d been having a few slow nights this week, which did make me a little curious as to why. Maybe it had something to do with some cock and bull urban legend that’d been going around, about some demon going around stalking crooks and beating them half to death. It sounded pretty stupid, like just another criminal underworld myth. I didn’t think too hard on it.
As I watched some late night basketball on the old, still-functioning CRT television in the office, the radio in my pocket buzzed. The voice of one of my subordinates crackled through. “B-boss? Y-you there?” he said. He was a pretty timid guy, so I didn’t think twice about his stuttering. But he sounded a bit…worried. His voice was somewhat higher than usual, and though difficult to distinguish through the radio, it sounded as though he were shuffling around a lot.
“Yeah, what’s up, Louis?” I replied, lowering the volume on the television.
“Boss, there’s something l-lurking around out there! It was staring at me from across the pier. I looked away for one second and it vanished!” Louis told me, his voice rising even higher.
I just rolled my eyes. “Is this that bat demon thing again? I told you that legend’s a load of bullcrap. Quit seeing things and keep patrolling, a’ight?”
He didn’t say a word. I sighed and replaced the radio in my coat pocket, assuming he’d just resumed his post. Louis had been the one to bring the urban myth to my attention. He was cowardly and superstitious, so it didn’t surprise me at all that he’d managed to psyche himself out. He was definitely a potential liability that I’d have to deal with.
Still, it wasn’t like him to not respond to orders…what if something had been out there?
No, I can’t go down that road to. Demons weren’t real, especially not bat-like demons that hospitalized criminals. Just thinking about it sounded ridiculously. Pushing the whole thing out of my mind, I spent the next few minutes refocused on the game.
Suddenly, a loud crash coming from out in the warehouse nearly made me jump out of my seat, followed by the shocked cries of my subordinates. It sounded like an entire shelf had fallen over! I took out my radio and broadcast a message to all my guys, “what the heck happened out there?!”
The only sounds that came out of the radio were crackling and several hushed whispers. Exasperated rose in my chest at this. Why the heck weren’t they saying anything? And then I heard something that made me leap out of my seat and unholster my Beretta M9.
Several bloodcurdling shrieks issued from the radio and echoed throughout the warehouse, followed by a long round of gunfire. A few smaller crashes like crates falling over resounded. A few hard thuds like bodies being slammed into the concrete emitted from the radio. I was frozen, my heart hammering against my chest as the chaos continued outside of my office.
Then, an eerie silence filled the warehouse. I mean absolute quiet. No whispers, no footsteps, nothing. A chill ran up my spine. I had half a mind to take off out the backdoor right there, but I needed to know what in the heck had just happened. Tossing the radio aside, I inched my way over to the window of my office. I raised the pistol with one hand and got ready to draw up the blinds with my other. Dread set in my stomach, giving me a bad vibe about pulling up those blinds. I didn’t know why until I actually did it.
What I saw behind that window made my blood run cold.
The tall, dark outline of a humanoid thing was right outside my window. The only features that could be made out was a black shroud like a cape draped over its shoulders, a pair of small, bat-like horns on its head, and chalk white eyes with no pupils. And it was staring directly at me.
I dropped the pistol and sprinted out of the backdoor, almost falling over as I barreled out into the alleyway and then into the street, where my car sat waiting. I jumped in and took off before even fully shutting the door. As I tore down the street, I glanced at the rearview mirror, and saw the black figure of that thing. It just stood there, and watched me from the alley.
Within twenty minutes I’d made it home to my crappy apartment in the narrows. I rushed in, locked and bolted my door, and collapsed on the couch in the living room. My stomach churned and I barely restrained the urge to throw up right then and there.
There was absolutely no way I was ever going back to that warehouse. Hell, I was never running anything like this again. Screw this operation, screw my men, and screw whatever had somehow taken out a dozen armed men in moments.
Exhaustion was setting in, but I didn’t want to sleep. I couldn’t shake the image of those bat-like horns and those startling, pure white eyes staring down at me. The bloodcurdling cries of my men resounded again and again in my head. And Louis? Oh god, Louis…
Somehow, I managed to fall asleep on the couch. Only a couple hours later, though, the sound of police sirens closing in outside of my apartment jolted me awake. Blinding red and blue lights flashed outside of the windows. Sweat trickled down my head, and again, my heart started to beat at a violent pace. How had they found me?
As I made to get up from the couch and look for an exit, an angry, gravelling rasp of a voice called out from the darkness,
“Don’t get up.”
My scream caught in the back of my throat. The whole world seemed to collapse around me as I laid eyes on the horned figure again, just barely illuminated by the light of the police cars. He was standing at the foot of my couch, staring at me with those unearthly white eyes.
I was rooted in place, paralyzed with fear. Tears welled in my eyes as I stared back in shock.
Several loud bangs and stern orders to open up sounded at my door, and I dared to look over at it for a fraction of a second. When I looked back, the nightmarish figure was gone. Whether he went into another room or vanished on the spot, I don’t know. Moments later, the police barged in and took me into custody. I made no effort to resist. At this point, their presence was a comfort.
In the following weeks, I was tried and sentenced to Blackgate Prison. My boys, whom had all miraculously survived and been hospitalized, were locked up too. Hardly anyone believed our story about the horrifying creature that had taken down our operation in a single night, and honestly, who could blame em?
But I knew the truth. I didn’t care what anybody said; it was a lot safer in here than it was out there. There was something lurking the streets now. A paranormal thing leaving a brutal trail of broken criminals and ruined operations in its wake. Its been months, and I haven’t forgotten. It was the single most nightmarish night in my life, and its never far from my thoughts. That thing will continue haunt my gang for our entire stay in this god-forsaken prison.
We’ve taken to calling it…the Batman.