Under the Red Sky

Under the Red Sky (Joker) Part 18

I sang as I skipped along the gloomy, empty streets of Gotham. The cement was slick with melting ice and steam was billowing from the manholes dotting the sidewalks. The air smelled like winter and garbage and industry, but not a sound could be heard save for the eerie sweetness of my own voice.

My red lips pulled back in a sinister smile as I came to a halt, finally reaching my destination.

The massive store was dark, seeing as it was way past closing time. I strode up to the front door, putting my face against the glass so I could peer into the obscurity. I saw the outlines of clothing racks and the distorted shadows of twig like mannequins.

I reached behind me and my fingers ran the length of my whip until I felt the cutting tips of the wires. I separated one strand from the jumbled mess and straightened it so it stuck out sharply. I bent low and jammed the point into the lock of the front door. After a few seconds, I heard a satisfying click and I purred in delight.

I swung the door open and strolled on in, holding my head high with pride. None of that had been premeditated. I had relied only on instinct. Animal instinct.

Criminal instinct.

I shook my head irritably as I took in my surroundings. I spied the security cameras almost immediately, their little red lights grinning at me through the darkness. I nodded to them politely, before moving further into the store.

Why should I care if they saw me or not? This place would be gone by the end of the night anyway.

I glanced around. From what I could tell I was in the woman’s department. I spotted a couple more willowy mannequins, posing chicly in their stylish clothes, their dull eyes gazing at nothing. My heels clacked loudly on the linoleum as I drew nearer, unraveling the whip from around my waist.

A blonde. A brunette. A ginger. How diverse. In one fluid motion, I cracked the whip violently with merely a flick of my wrist. I smiled wickedly as the plastic head of the first mannequin hit the floor. Another loud crack and there were two heads on the floor. And then three.

And when you snap, the heads will roll.

I cackled madly as I took up the end of my whip and began to jump rope, bounding toward the jewelry counter. I paused and stooped so I could peer into the displays.

What pretty jewels.

But it was not the gems I wanted. I wanted only to break and rip and burn. I wanted destruction.

I smiled, punching my fist through the glass without a second thought. I knocked out the rest of the glass with the butt of the handle on my whip. I reached into the case and sent all of the expensive glittery things crashing to the floor.

“Oh for me? You shouldn’t have…” I cooed, as I stamped angrily crushing the jewels into tiny bits of diamond and silver and gold.

I wondered idly why I hadn’t set off any alarms yet. But no sooner had that thought crossed my mind did my ears pick up on the sound of voices coming from behind me.

“Who is she?” asked the first voice, clearly awed.

“What is she?” came the second voice, letting out a bark of laughter, “I don’t know whether to open fire or fall in love.”

I heard the click of guns and spun around, a sneer on my lips. They were security guards, one around my age and the other slightly older.

“You poor guys,” I laughed, shaking my head at them, “Always confusing your pistols with your privates.”

I snapped my whip at their hands and their guns fell to the floor as brilliant red slashes blossomed on their skin. They gasped in pain and alarm, backing away slowly.

“Don’t hurt us lady. Our take home’s less than three hundred,” said the younger of the two cops, raising his hands in innocence.

I scoffed. “You’re overpaid. Hit the road.”

I cracked the whip at them and they scampered off. I sauntered over to the weapons they had left behind, scowling.

Guns. I had always hated them, even before the accident with my father. They were so simple, so primitive. Loud and brash. I had been wise to think outside the box when it came to a weapon of my own. It was elegant and sensual, completing my arm, and making me more than a pretty face and nice pair of legs. It demanded respect and that was just what I got. Esteem. And fear.
I wrapped it around my waist once more and turned to wander off into another part of the store. My work was far from finished.

I frolicked down the aisles like a little girl in a candy shop, humming a nameless tune as I sped by countless racks of clothes and shoes. I took the steps two at a time on one of the immobile escalators as I made my way down to the basement level.

I wrinkled my nose as the smell of tar and chemicals nearly overwhelmed me. I strutted past all the glossy new lawnmowers and washing machines and dryers moving for the area above which hung a side that read APPLIANCES. I slowed only for a moment so I could grab up a couple cans of Raid.

I pranced over to a row of microwaves, and after inspecting an especially fancy one to make sure it was plugged in, I set the steely canisters of bug spray on the glass tray inside. I slammed the little door shut and punched three minutes into the timer, before pressing start.

I turned, eyeing a wall tile to the right of me. I bashed it in with a fierce kick and smiled at what I found inside: a tank of propane. I tore away the hose with my claws, letting the gas hiss away.

I moseyed away, hands on my hips, taking my sweet time as I climbed the escalator to the first floor. I was in no hurry. If anything the anticipation gave me a special kind of thrill. I supposed this was what crime did to you. Maybe it was what the Joker felt, why he did what he did.

Maybe I was a criminal. Maybe he was right.

Even if he was, I would never admit it. I was much too proud.


I paced the length of the rooftop, my coat whirling around me with every turn, my shoes scuffing the gritty cement. I looked up from time to time, only to smile. The signal was still there, shining brightly against the clear night sky.

That meant he would come. He always came.

I was waiting for the Batman. I wanted to get a better look at him, at the adversary. To be honest, he fascinated me.

A man who thought he could lift this city out of the mud with his morals, his code. And I thought my jokes were bad.

I had taken extra precautions to ensure that we would cross paths. My men were down the street causing reckless havoc. He would be drawn in like a moth to the flame and I would finally meet this freak. This other man with whom I shared the title of Gotham’s most wanted.

I stopped pacing for a moment as I heard a sound much like flapping wings. I peered over the side of the roof and felt a smirk tug on my lips. This was too easy.

He was standing in the middle of the street, cape fluttering in the fiercely cold wind. Did he know how ridiculous he looked? He stared up at me and I waved.

“Hiii,” I called, smiling down at him.

He scowled and I let out a small giggle. “Admiring your handiwork, Joker?”

“Me?” I cried incredulously, “It’s wrong to assume things, Bats. When you assume it makes an ass out of you and me. You get it?”

I let out a raucous cackle, throwing my head back as I swayed back and forward dangerously.

“What do you want?” roared the Batman and I tried to suppress a chuckle at his voice. It was like sandpaper scraping over bricks. Could somebody get this guy a Ricola?
“A direct approach,” I observed, stroking my painted chin thoughtfully, “I admire that in a man with a mask.”

I burst into another fit of laughter, slapping my knee before straightening up. I looked down at the bat. He was just standing there, glaring at me through that silly cowl of his.

Tough crowd.

“You don’t really think you’ll win do you, playing it your way?” I sneered, suddenly overcome with disgust at the stolid man standing in the street down below.

And finally there was a smile. Even if it was a cold. “It’s wrong to assume, but yes. I do.”

I opened my mouth to spit out a clever retort when he looked away, seemingly distracted by something. I turned my own face in the same direction, enraged that our conversation had been disrupted.

And then I saw her.


She was unmistakable. Tumbling toward us, graceful cart wheel by graceful cart wheel, her long limbs moving her down the street, her wild hair standing on end. For a moment, I only stared, slightly mesmerized. The bat did the same. I burned with hatred.

How dare he look at her? Stupid, dirty, rat with wings….
My hand moved for my pocket but before I could reach the gun stashed inside, I was sidetracked once more.

Damn woman.


With a burst of adrenaline and a final somersault, I landed on my feet, my heels hitting the concrete with a loud, angry, clap.

I straightened up panting and nearly screamed with laughter at the sight before me.

There, standing not ten yards from me, was Batman. The Batman.

I smirked at him, batting my eyelashes, as I placed my hands on my hips. “Meow.”

There was a loud roar as the department store behind me exploded in a burst of fire, sending glass and bits of building soaring through the air. I didn’t even flinch as I felt the heat from the flames envelope me.

The Batman, on the other hand, was knocked to the ground by the sheer force of the blast and as he lay there for a minute, slightly disoriented, I took that moment to slip away.

This justice obsessed freak wasn’t spoiling my fun. Not tonight.

I ducked into a nearby alley but paused as something caught my eye at the other end of the darkness, where the passage fed out into some random street. I could’ve sworn I saw the tail end of a coat. A purple coat.

I scowled, moving to investigate, but I froze when I heard footsteps.

The bat was back.

I spotted a ladder to a fire escape that led up to the roof and placed a foot on the first rusty metal rung, starting to climb. I reached the rooftop in little to no time and waited patiently, listening to the clanging of the fire escape.

Drawn in like a moth to the flame. Fool.

I watched from the shadows as he climbed over the ledge and began his way across the clearing.

“Where’s the fire?” I called, smirking as he jumped, noticeably startled. He whirled around to face me and I slinked toward him, twirling the end of my whip.

“You-" he began.

I shut him up with a kick to the face, surprising him and myself. A little.

He stumbled away from me but recovered quickly, defending himself as I aimed a punch to his face and then another kick. He knocked my attempts away and returned with a punch to my stomach. It was a direct hit.
I fell to my knees with a gasp, clutching my middle. I burned with hatred.

Stupid, stupid boy.

I looked up at him, pretending to cower.“How could you? I’m a woman!”

“I’m sorry--I,” he stuttered, moving towards me as if to try and help me up.

I lashed out, kicking him in the groin and as he staggered back, I unwound the whip from my waist. He turned to face me after recuperating from my attack but I kept him at bay with a crack of the whip. And did so each time he attempted to advance toward me.

I backed him into a wall and coiled the whip around his neck, smiling as his face turned a light shade of red.

“As I was saying, I’m a woman, and can’t be taken for granted,” I sneered, tightening the wires around his thick neck until I heard him gasp for air He shuffled slightly, his hand moving to his side, but I blew it off. I made the mistake of thinking him completely defenseless.

“Life’s a bitch,” I hissed, “Now so am I.”

There was flash of bright purple as Batman reached up and broke a tube of…something on my arm. I shrieked in pain, stumbling backwards. The hand holding the whip fell to my side, unfurling the cord from the Batman’s neck. I looked down at my left arm through the angry tears. The fabric of the dress had burned away and the skin beneath was….bubbling.

My stomach turned and I looked back at the bat to see he was fleeing the scene.


My knees buckled as the back of my legs collided with the rough stone of the edge of the roof.

And with one final scream of fury and anger, I went tumbling through the night.
I felt the sting of icy wind on my bare legs and was momentarily blinded as my hair blew over my eyes. There was a loud, sickening crack as my skull and the rest of my bones hit the concrete.

And for a moment there was silence.

I felt a small pop in my chest and I was sure my heart had stopped.

But even so, I sat up slowly, my limbs convulsing angrily and my neck snapping this way and that.

My mouth opened wide, I threw my head back, and I screamed.