Blind as a Bat

Sarah Demens

3/15/20243 min read

Deep in a dark foreboding wood, the nighttime blackening the land below with only the moon to grant a dim layer of light, a vehicle sped on a road. A vehicle of great power and muscle, charging with speed too much to match by any other means. Its lights shined the way as it took each turn through the dense environment, fog clouding the area. The roaring engine started to speed up more as it approached the side of a mountain. Against that mountain was a raging waterfall... and as the vehicle came close, it flew over the gap in front of it, flying through the water, into a hole that revealed a secret passageway inside an enormous cavern. The vehicle traveled through it.
Standing in the Bat Cave was one Alfred Pennyworth, the butler of Bruce Wayne... accomplice of The Batman. He turned in the direction of a loud engine sound coming from a distance, his hands behind his back. He lifted his chin as the vehicle came in sight and abruptly slowed down to a quick halt not far away. The top popped open and slid back as the driver started to stand and step out of it; the Batman.
"Master Wayne..." Alfred greeted, approaching him as the Batmobile began to sink underground and Bruce walked towards his monitor. "You're back rather suddenly, sir." He followed him as Bruce sat in his chair and immediately started operating the system.

"I'm hoping this isn't about that young man you saved from those thugs?"
Batman looked up at the screen, beginning to go through his files.
"You're a mind reader, Alfred... always have been."
Alfred smiled out of sight. "Is everything alright, sir? What's so significant about him?"
"The men who attacked him mentioned something about him paying... it appeared by the way they talked, they knew who he was and wanted revenge."

"Well, perhaps he crossed them in some way. An ordinary man can easily do something that displeases a criminal. And they wish to hang him for it."
Bruce leaned back against his chair. "Except these aren't ordinary criminals, Alfred." A file came up with mugshots of all three men and Bruce exhaled, processing the details. "They're Joker's men."
Alfred raised his brows, "Oh my..." He looked up at the screen. "Then this man is not what he seems." Bruce stroked his chin, thoughtfully.

"They called him a name... two names, in fact... Kasper Cleetus..." He began typing it down into the database. Within minutes, he had his file pulled. Alfred and Bruce both perked at the results.
"Good Lord... he was under the employ of the Joker himself!"
Bruce shook his head. "Was. Kasper Cleetus seems to have walked away from that life after police released him 6 months ago. He hasn't had any criminal charges since then. Been pretty clean."
He typed some more. "...Looks like his wife left him... and their 8 year old daughter."
"Hm... it would seem he is perhaps looking to atone for his sins? Build a better life for his child?"
"I wish it were that simple, Alfred."

"Sir... with all due respect... your very foundation for leaving these men alive is based on the hope they'll change. We must hold out on that hope that your efforts are finally paying off."
Bruce did not respond to this. Just kept typing, periodically rubbing his gloved fingers together.
"He lives in the slums, with very little income due to his criminal background. Works late nights at a small run-down drug store. Surprisingly, this hasn't pushed him to returning to his old life. It really does look like he's trying..."
Alfred turned his head to Bruce, silently reveling in his being right. "I suggest then, sir, if you are to question him... you be quite sure which persona does so. Intimidate him through Batman to get the information you want. Or approach him as Bruce Wayne, to appeal to the man and father he is trying to be. You know already the difficulties of raising a young child on your own. You know the struggles it brings you, to worry about their safety and the choices they make. And how your own choices have consequences which affect them most of all... the decision is yours, sir. Just make sure it is the right one."
The butler rotated and began walking down the ramp where he briefly paused, turning his head.
"And try not to give him a heart attack, if he is indeed truly on the path of redemption."
He walked away, leaving Bruce questioning his next move.

He folded his arms, staring at the screen in front of him. Alfred was right... he needed to be careful on what he chose to do next... should he approach Cleetus as Batman... or Bruce Wayne? The choice was his and his alone. Either way... Kasper Cleetus was getting a house call.