A Watchful Protector

Sarah Demens

3/8/20245 min read

Rain fell heavy upon the city streets. So heavy, scarcely anyone desired to venture outside on foot or else they would be drenched top to bottom, and trembling from the drastic temperature drop recently orchestrated by the unforgiving weather. With such little bravery displayed in the residents of the city, most everyone was traveling via car. The water mercilessly barreled against the roofs of both vehicle and building, making it sound as if a monsoon were attacking them.
This was Gotham city. Strung with bright lights that gave little cheer to such a dark and dismal environment, laden with such horrors from within. One look at it surely would not convince you that it was riddled with crime and chaos that ensued thanks largely to the city's more... extravagant residents. Residents that could no longer stand the nightmarish hell of the nearly lawless city so long ago, and who finally cracked and became something of legends to all who paid even the slightest attention to them.
Chief among these residents was one who one day decided... enough was enough... and at last decided to do something about it. Since that one man appeared... nothing had been the same. The criminal world feared him. The police feared him. The residents feared him. He was a force to be reckoned with.
One resident, poor and lacking any other options of transportation, was forced to walk the streets that night. That cold and unforgiving night, where the rain, it seemed, decided to fall down even harder upon noticing the presence of the innocent man. His eyes squinted as his face made a rather pained expression as water blinded him, running down his head. He scurried from the main streets and into the back alleys where there would be more cover. Unfortunately, the lighting there was rather pathetic compared to the ones in the main streets. He was surely taking his chances, as the back alleys were not particularly the safest. But he was panicked and trying desperately to get home after a long day at work. Tired, confused and hungry... he needed to get home. For as long as he had a home, at least.
He hurried along the back alleys just as quickly as he entered them. Around him were a few raggedy looking men in old jackets, who huddled around the covered fire pit to fight against this sudden drop in temperature. Noticing the man passing by them, they lifted their eyes at him and one or two spoke to him, asking for any food or money. But he ignored them. For he had none to give. That and a Gotham resident never knew who they were being addressed by. Maybe they were just like them, trying to get some help. Maybe they were a petty criminal, seeking out an opportunity. It really was best to keep to yourself. He felt terrible for it, but he couldn't take that chance.
The rain surprisingly came down harder, and he was no where close to his home. He needed to hurry, faster. He needed to get home. Before it got any later. Before it got any darker. He kept his eyes dead straight ahead, focusing on one thing and one thing only. He was coming up on a corner, and then he'd return to the main road. Back alleys were no better, he just needed to- whack!
The man fell. He held his head in response, as he now found himself on the ground. His eyes zoomed on the person now over him and his heart raced. The man looming above with broad shoulders and a hulking, heaving chest that made him look like a giant. His face was shrouded in shadow, but by his attacking him, and his following aggressive stature, the man could tell this assailant was most definitely a petty criminal... and an angry one, at that. The man laid on the ground defenseless, trying to coax himself to get up and run, for he knew what his attacker was after: revenge.

"You insignificant little parasite." The brute snarled.
The man struggled to leave, but the brute grabbed him by the back of the shirt, swinging him around violently only to dig his large rough hand into his chest and he shoved him up against the wall, pinning him. The man tried to get away, yelling out, but no one was around to help him. The brute planned this correctly.
"You're gonna pay for the crap you put us through; I'll make sure of it." As he said this, two more men came from behind, armed with a knife and a large metal pipe. One man got up close and sneered his teeth. "You thought you could run from us, Cleetus?!"

The other pointed with his weapon. "NO one can hide in Gotham!"
Cleetus tensed his whole body and curled his fists, trembling from the fear running through him.
"Just let me go, I don't want trouble!"
"You shoulda thought of that, pal!"
"Please, you don't understand!"
"Aw, look at him. PLEASE... he's BEGGING."
The brute abruptly hit him over the head with his bulky fist and Cleetus cried out in pain.
"You think that's gonna save you, Kasper?! You think anyone's gonna save you?! You PAY tonight, worm!"
He straightened Cleetus back up and now held him with both hands.
"Tonight, you DIE." And just as he said this, his fist went out to hit the oppressed man....... only to suddenly be caught in midair, by what appeared to be a black claw, and the minute his eyes shot to see what was happening... well... he was thrown back.
The claw yanked him backwards, knocking the other two down violently and the three all screamed as they collided with the ground. Cleetus' jaw dropped at the sight. His eyes immediately bolted upwards to see the one who was surely responsible. The one person who would always come after punks like these... Batman.
The claw retracted into the darkness, Batman himself not seen as he hid deep in the shadows, the rain blanketing him further from the eyes of his targets. The three men groaned and struggled up to fight off their attacker. As they stood, however, they only had a second to process their thoughts... as a streak of black suddenly appeared behind and a flurry of fists and kicks now dominated the atmosphere, with each of the three men grunting and screaming at how brutally they were being beaten. One's shoulder was dislocated, another ended up on the ground with a broken leg and the brute... well... the brute wound up laying stomach first on the ground, writhing from a broken back.
Despite their injuries, two went back for a fight... to which they immediately lost. One by one, they were knocked out cold, with a furious punch to the face. Ending with the brute, whose face was smashed against the concrete. With the threat eliminated, Cleetus eased and looked up at the Batman... the vigilante looked almost as if he were a part of the shadows, his face unseen. The only thing that Kasper could make out were Batman's two white eyes that glowed in the darkness, bringing chills to Cleetus' spine.
Batman lifted his head at him. "Are you alright?"
Cleetus could barely breathe. "Me?... I-I'm fine..."
Batman said nothing further. Kasper swallowed hard, nodding his head. "Thanks....."
He looked only for a brief second at the sound of someone yelling out, "What's going on back there?!" Cleetus turned his eyes back to Batman. He jerked his head back. Batman was gone.

With only his racing heart and three unconscious criminals laying before him, Kasper took one last breath, and one last glance at the darkness, before instantly turning and running the other way. Sirens echoed from the distance, but he wasn't about to watch the police arrive. He was going home. Thanks to one person.... the Batman.