Under the Red Sky

Under the Red Sky (Joker) Part 46


The air smelt of early morning and the pier was slick and cluttered with bystanders. Sam and I weaved through them, his hand sweating against my own. We were racing to break the ribbon ringing the edge of the crowd; the yellow trimming to the crime scene.

“Pardon me…sorry, coming through,” my apologies were whispers and my shoulders were growing sore from all of their knocking about. I tugged Sam through the thicket of people, pausing every now and then to peer over the crowd, craning my neck to make sure I hadn’t missed it.

The same reason everyone was hanging about: they were waiting for the parade.

“I see an opening,” Sam called from behind me, giving my hand a firm squeeze. We fought through the throng to the chorus of curses and protests for another few minutes, before settling finally into a gap just behind the yellow tape. It whistled in the wind, the bold words flashing like neon.


Lights were flashing red and blue beyond the crowd – a fleet of cop cars. And amidst their numbers, a hulking mass of grey marked with solemn black text: Arkham Asylum. And by the sheer number of guards lingering about its rear doors, I could tell the vehicle already had one occupant.
So they’ve finally caught him, I mused, leaning across the tape to peer at the carrier. There was a pang in my chest. Of melancholy, of disappointment.

It was over. Really, this time.

I knew the Joker hadn’t surrendered without good reason; he had a plan. Or at least I hoped he did, to ensure his and Bijou’s survival. The only trouble was accepting the fact that that little scheme didn’t include me. I’d have to fend for myself.

Some things never change.

But they had…hadn’t they?


Just like he said.

“Hey,” Sam muttered, nudging me softly and pulling me from my thoughts. It was then that I noticed the agitation of the crowd. They rustled and lurched, pushing at the caution tape. The murmurs came first, rolling through the tumult like the wind across the water. The faces turned and the curses began, riding on the tangible disgust that steadily rose from the masses, like a foul odor.

She’d arrived.





One foot in front of the other, I strutted down the ramp, throwing my hips with every step. The silver bracelets chattered at my wrists and I smirked at the crowd, taking their ridicule with a wink and an occasional brazen kiss.

My eyes settled at the end of the pier, drawn by the sputtering cop lights; my carriage awaited, grey and massive and undoubtedly bound for the loony bin. It loomed closer with each sauntering stride and the oddness of the scene struck me. I felt like a mad-bird bride, gaiting toward the altar, the law at my side ready to give me away to the nice men in white.
I wondered for my groom. Would he make it to the church on time…?


A familiar voice rose from the roar of the crowd and I was torn from my musings. “Maude?” I murmured, tearing my eyes from the carrier and glancing up and along the docks. After a moment, I found her, a pale moon against the snarling faces of the masses. Sam stood beside her.

I rushed over to them, before my escort could hold me back and they ducked under the caution tape to meet me. Without warning, Maude threw herself into my arms, burying her pretty face into my shoulder.

“I won’t let you leave me,” she muttered, her voice a harsh whisper against my neck, “I won’t, I won’t. You can’t, not now…”

“Maudie,” I cooed, running a hand along her hair, the handcuffs chinking merrily, “I’m not leaving you. Not really.”

“But they’ll take you away,” she cried, pulling away to look at me. Tears were building at the corners of her eyes. “They’re going to take you away and-and...”

Her words trickled into quiet sobs and the tracks of her tears were silver in the dim light. I wiped them away, the soot on my fingertips smearing the white of her cheeks, and smiled. “I promise you, Maude. We’ll find a way back to you. We’ll find a way.”

There was a flicker of panic in her eyes. “But how long will I wait?”

“Time is relative, like everything else,” my fingers caught a ribbon of her hair and curled it behind her ear, “And it will fly. I promise.”

She heaved a shaky sigh, blinking away the last of her tears; she nodded slowly. And there was hope in her eyes. The despair was gone from her face. It struck me how beautiful she was, so young, in all of the lights. Cop lights. Street lights.

She’d survive. She’d keep her promise.

And I’d see her again; I hadn’t a single doubt.

I caught the sound of approaching footsteps; our time was up. Holding her close once more, Sam and I exchanged knowing bitter grins; I put my mouth to her ear. “Go now. Or they’ll take you too.”

She didn’t look at me as she pulled away; not a backwards glance as she took Sam’s hand in her own before bowing under the yellow tape and disappearing into the crowd.

It was better that way I supposed; nothing numbed the pain like feigned indifference.

“Time’s up,” the voice came with angry fingers, digging into my arm. I didn’t flinch. We struck up the promenade once more, one foot in front of the other, chin up, my eyes glassy and cold to match the sky.

The crowd had settled; they only stared now, their faces following me down the docks, holding their gaze to me as I stopped before the back of the carrier. The doctors came forward and I didn’t put up a fight, much to their surprise; I slid into their straight jacket without fuss.

The doors swung open with a scream and tossing my hair, I gracefully climbed up and into the carriage. It wasn’t until they’d shut the doors that I realized I wasn’t alone.


He was lounging across the opposite bench, looking right at home, snug as bug in his own jacket; his coat gone and his makeup badly smeared with sweat and blood. He leered at me and I relaxed into my own seat, crossing my legs.

“What took you so long?” he spat, clearing his throat and shifting in his restraints, “I hate waiting.”

I smiled sweetly. “Just a little snag.”

“Evidently,” he snorted, awkwardly getting to his feet. He shuffled over, falling into the seat beside me with a grunt. After a moment, he sniffed at the air like a dog. “What smells like burnt toast?”

“That would be me,” I muttered, blowing a piece of hair from my face.

He turned his face to me, peering down at me. He licked his lip. “You’re all…crispy. We really need to get you out of that dress.”

I smirked, glancing down at myself. A large red stain had begun to blossom along my right sleeve. Shrek’s damage was finally starting to show.

“Maybe later,” I sighed, tilting my head slightly at the sound of an engine coming to life; the carrier shuttered and began to move.

“Not where we’re going,” he chirped, tossing his hair from his eyes, the greasy smile never leaving his face. “They’ll force us into separate rooms – separate beds!”

“Oh no!” I cried, faking fright, “How will I sleep?”

He lolled his head drunkenly, before flopping it onto my shoulder. “Simple. Just don’t. Aren’t bitches supposed to be nocturnal?”

“Ha-ha,” I hissed, resting my head against the wall, “You’re hilarious.”

He raised his lips to my ear and I shivered at the heat of his breathe against my flesh. He kissed my cheek and it stung with the pain I rather liked to savor. “That’s what they tell me.”

I turned my head slightly and his lips found their place. At once, I felt a wetness against my teeth, spilling onto my tongue. I pulled away, spitting; there was blood.

I glanced from him to the red speckles of blood on the floor and back, perplexed. “Did you just…bleed into my mouth?”

He shrugged, giggling and smacking his lips. “Maybe.”

“Sick fucker,” I muttered, sputtering to rid my mouth of the familiar tang.

“I love you too.”

I blinked and looked at him, completely serious, the red dribbling on my lips. “Really?”

It was quiet for a moment; he stared at the blood on the floor, but his eyes weren’t empty. In truth, they looked almost warm… but it might’ve been the fluorescence.

“Really, really, really,” he chattered after a lengthy string of silence. His eyes found mine and I knew. I knew absolutely. “Would I lie to you?”

I stared at him for another minute of silence, shaking my head slowly. He shrugged one shoulder apathetically, fixing his jagged, red lips into an odd crooked grin. Our thoughts, spoken or stifled, dissolved then, settling like ash upon the both of us. I watched the useless words dance about with the dust in the dark, glittering with microscopic nothingness.

I slunk in my seat, feeling the blood pool in the crook of my arm, and laid my head on his chest. The jacket was rough against my cheek and the blood warm against my flesh. I listened to the slow, steady beat of his heart and took comfort in the fact that it was there.

And that it was mine.

With drunken eyes, I stared at nothing, until the walls of the carrier melted into haze and gray shadow and the growl of the road faded away. The view was mine to mold as we sailed toward wherever. Beyond my eyes, I saw pillars of industry and salt, desolate gold and platinum streets, black waters to wear them away. I saw a girl, painted and white. I saw dark eyes.

All living, all dying, all screaming, all laughing, mucking about in their decay and in their love, beneath the catastrophic heavens.

All of them, under the red sky.
♠ ♠ ♠
So, this story has rolled to a close, but stay tuned, megaweb children.
Here comes my love-child sequel.