Under the Red Sky

Under the Red Sky (Joker) Part 44



I glanced repeatedly from the radio clock to the ferries and back again. From the vacant lot in which Sam and I were parked, we had a clear view of the water. And I didn’t see any devastation.

There’d been a brief, spectacular explosion on the roof of one of the ferries. White light and streaming smoke. The boat had been rattled by the flare but neither of the carriers had been further disturbed.

Sam had managed to explain the Joker’s plan so that’d I’d understand. But he hadn’t mentioned that.

Sam was equally puzzled at the time. He checked his own watch just in case. “Something’s wrong,” he muttered, rummaging in his pockets for his cell phone.

I pressed my face against my own window, peering up at the Prewitt Building, a towering black mass in the darkness.

What are you doing up there?

I thought of the Joker. Of Bijou. I wondered about her schemes.

“There’s no reaching the boss,” Sam sighed, throwing the little phone on the dashboard.

I made a face. “And no fireworks.”

I should’ve known. What with Bijou’s sneaking around. Who knows where she could be, what she was doing.

Revenge seemed more than likely. A fun little diversion as the Joker wrecked his own havoc on the city.

And here I was, stuck. In a shitty van, completely oblivious to the chaos about to unfold. We needed to move. Now - before anything else went wrong.

“Sam,” I murmured, my eyes lingering on the smoldering ferry, “How about a trip to the docks?”

He shot me a look of relief and the engine rattled to life. “I’d thought you’d never ask.”


Now, I knew.

That everything was royally fucked.

I was no good at making decisions. At being rational. I’ll admit, brash, impulsive, lunatic that I am.

But here, crouching over the Batman on the ledge of this stupid building, the chill of the night air nipping at my flesh, my mind was racing trying desperately to bring myself to a sane decision.


Who was I kidding?

The ferry boat was still fuming. And I knew who’d triggered the blast. It could only be her. Ruining my plans, fucking with me, forcing me to rationalize…

I twitched, exhaling sharply. Cards on the table.

I’d promised Gotham a show. Fireworks. I’d show them all, show them they couldn’t win. Show them all what one bad day could do…

But she changed everything. Like she always did.


She’d survive, wouldn’t she? She could take it. I’d shot her, poisoned her. It’d just be one more life…

I hated doubt. It was a miserable feeling.

I tried to focus, tried to weigh the pros and the cons like an average idiot. But my thoughts tripped over one another, crashing together like symbols, making my ears ring. I twitched, glancing at my wrist.


“What were you trying to prove?” the Batman growled but I ignored him, the detonator shaking in my hands. “That deep down everyone is as ugly as you.”

With a growl, I tossed the crowbar back into the gloom of the building, never taking my eyes from the ferry as the bat writhed under my grip.

“You’re alone,” he spat.

And it happened.

A sudden epiphany.

I saw her then, beautiful and horrible. My religion. So impossibly fair, the red of her lips, the shock of her hair, the white blue of her eyes. That curious way blood always seemed to speckle her, to linger on her flesh. And the way it drove me wild.


I’d made my decision.

And it would kill me.

So much for rational.

“No,” I croaked finally. My face split with a ridiculous grin and I giggled. “Not anymore.”

The bat looked horribly confused but saw his chance and took it. A push of a button, another one of his little toys. The blades at his wrist flew, cutting my face. The detonator slipped between my fingers and I felt the bat at my collar.

And then, I was flying.

Or rather falling with style. The wind tore at my face as I cackled, falling through the air like Icarus, beating my wax wings. How she’d laugh if she could see me now. A martyr…

Suddenly, I halted mid-air with a violent jerk. I groaned, feeling the cable tug at my ankle and giggled.

Oh boy.

Little ol’ me, saved by the Batman.

Bijou would just die.

Thinking of her set my guts to churn, roiling with that warm nausea some people might call love. But as I inched back towards the bat, hearing him grunt with the effort, the sensation faded. My fleeting sanity went with it.

“Oh you,” I groaned as batty tethered the cable, “You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.”

The Bat was catching his breath and I leered at him. But I mused to that him it must look like a frown.

I cocked my head at him, feeling my neck crack. “You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? Huh? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because…” my speech was lazy and my vision blurred, the blood sloshing wonderfully in my skull; I smiled drunkenly. “You’re just too much fun. I think we’re destined to do this forever.”

“You’ll be in a padded cell forever,” he returned, squinting at me with those little black eyes.

I giggled. “Maybe we could share one. Me, you, Bijou. I wouldn’t mind – though she might. I find cats are rather territorial. You know, they’ll be doubling up, the rate this city’s inhabitants are losing their minds.”

The blood was loud now, roaring in my ears, throwing itself at the space behind my eyes; it wanted out.

“This city just showed you that it’s full of people ready to believe in good,” the bat gurgled, something like triumphant crossing his face. His eyes narrowed, more than I thought possible. “And you spared them. You gave them all the more reason to believe.”

I clenched my jaw, letting his garbles roll through my skull and leak from my ears. So I showed a snippet of sentiment, so what? Did it leave any mark on the spinning of the universe?


What point was he trying to prove? That I could feel?

I could always feel. I just didn’t always want to. When you opened yourself and scooped out the emotions and the flowery, fluffy bits, you were left with human nature. Original design. A raw, scaly animal driven by rage, sex, blood, war. Survival.

Then you picked your poison.

I filled the void with madness.

“Until their spirit breaks completely,” I muttered, holding up a purple finger as I tore myself from my musings, “Until they get a good look at the real Harvey Dent and all the heroic things he’s done.”

I smirked, noting the subtle horror creeping into his eyes as I rattled on. “You didn’t think I’d risk losing the battle for Gotham’s soul in a fistfight with you? No. You need an ace in the hole. Mine’s Harvey.”

The horror had spread from his eyes, stealing across his face like shadow. “What did you do?”

I shrugged, quite an awkward gesture from my angle. “I took Gotham’s White Knight…and brought him down to our level. It wasn’t hard.” My mouth tasted like blood and I absentmindedly spit a tooth that had wiggled loose. I watched it fall, amused, and glancing back up at the bat, grinning smugly.

“You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity,” I thought of Bijou, hitting the pavement; once, twice and her mind knocking loose. I smiled, feeling nauseas. “All it takes is a little push!”

My fingers spread like the legs of some awful, leather spider and I wildly flailed my arms, swinging like a mad, purple piñata, screeching with laughter. I caught careening glimpses of the ferry boats, safely docked, glittering against the black of the water. Commotion on the roof.

They’d found her…

The smile hurt my face. My laugh was a wheeze.

But the cat came back the very next day…

As the bat fled to save dratted souls, as the boys in black assembled, the barrels of their guns gaping at me, I cackled, sighing, singing, rhyming.

“The cat came back the very next day, we thought she was a goner,” I screamed, the melody echoing off the water and the red metal skeleton of the building. The SWATs stared through their little goggles and I laughed and laughed.

“She just couldn’t stay awayyyy…”