Tim Williams

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Solace comes in all shapes and sizes. Big or small, everyone has their own way of coping. For Bruce Wayne, it was visiting a familiar sight that was forever mended into his thoughts like a scar, everlasting. Tonight was a night unlike any he has had in a while, waking up from a dead sleep from a nightmare. This wasn’t new to him, but tonight’s dream was… vague. Bruce awoke, unsure of what he dreamt. He sat up from his lying state, running his fingers through his coal colored locks. The billionaire shifted to his side, his elbow supporting his weight against the bed. He tossed the sheet from over his legs aside. His feet find comfort against the warm ground.

Getting ready to leave the manor was swift; clothes, keys, shoes. Bruce was out the door and on the road in less than a minute. Fingers tightened around the steering wheel as he sped down the busy streets; ironic he was ignoring all laws at this point, despite his all too dark and gritty counterpart. Bruce could see the city fading from his rearview mirror; a graveyard was up ahead. Upon pulling in to see its grim features, almost immediately he felt an ominous chill crawl up his spine.

“I didn’t know this, this crusade would end this way!” Bruce made his way to a familiar structure that towered over the rest. It was his parents’ tombstone; it was one of those nights. “I lost so many people!” His furious gaze settled on their names: “Thomas and Martha Wayne; beloved patrons, and parents.”

Thunder rumbles. Knees fall. Barriers fall to the ground.

Lightning cracks the sky!

Irises of blue gazed over their names. Over and over he read, tears filling his lids; they dared to fall. “I wanted to avenge you, and honor your memory!” His fingers rustle through the dry grass. Unbeknownst the ground, the sky wanted to weep. There was another strike, this time, the billionaire looked up to the tombstone in awe.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

It was raining now. And with each drop came a breath. After a brief moment, his breathing was quick, rapid, and coming in huffs.

“Am I wrong for wanting a life? So many I’ve lost; Jason, Selina, there’s too many to count! I’ve given my life up for this, and all I wanted in return was to be happy!”

From the isle between light and darkness, something like a consciousness came a voice. It was rather deep, soothing but menacing. It called out.

“Happiness is a weakness; the Batman has no weaknesses. I have given you many chances to be happy.” Like a snake, the voice came slithering from the darkness to reveal itself. What once seemed soothing changed as the voice deepened, its roots becoming a growl.

“You pushed them away!” said the dimly lit figure, his features barely visible by the pale moonlight. What was seen were ears, twelve inches in height. They seemed familiar.

“No!” screamed the brash billionaire, throwing himself to his feet, eyes locking on to see what more he could muster. There lying on his chest was a symbol, one that had taken a hold of this man’s life and turned it upside down; it was a bat.

“You pushed them away! What I want is one day to be happy – no vigilantism, none of it! Can’t you do that for me?!”

“I wouldn’t be here without reason, Wayne, you know that. I cannot and will not allow you happiness while Gotham’s safety is at risk.” Like a rag doll, Bruce’s body was picked up by vicious claws. It was with ease, his body swaying in the wind. Legs dangled in the pouring rain, whilst his hands clung to this creature’s grasp. Bruce’s breathing was worsening.

“You’ve had your chance… now suffer!” Without mercy, the brute chucked Bruce’s body into the large tombstone, its support giving in by the impact. Coming from the other side in amazing pain, the playboy hit the ground with a thud.

“You took an oath,” bellowed the creature, stepping over the rubble.

He continued, “Are you a liar, or a man of honor?”

Vision shaky. Ears ringing. Bruce was numb, all he could feel, though it was faint, were the rain droplets smacking against him. It took everything out of him to stand, both legs wanting to give in to the 210 pounds he wielded.

“I am many things, but a man of honor I am not. There’s nothing HONORABLE about what I do; not a damned thing.” He took a step, then another step. Bruce continued this until his steps turned into a full sprint. “I am a failure. There’s nothing to me but vengeance and rage!”

Bruce ran head first into the beast, knocking him into the rubble of the once beautiful tombstone. Bruce straddled his stomach. Heavy blows connected to a jaw covered in an obsidian blanket that felt like tethered leather. Instead of blood seeped a thick, black liquid. It covered his fists and forearms.

Lightning cracks the sky.

Darkness surrounded them; the rest of the world melted to accommodate this black nothingness.

“You’re not what I wanted!” shouted the billionaire, his punches weakening from the constant blows. After a while, he stopped and stood to back away. “You’re not what I wanted,” said he, turning to face this black void that engulfed the two. Just then, a light shined in front of him – this temporarily blinded the weary man. When his vision focused, he was surprised to see a large case holding the Batsuit, this made him stand back, threatened. “You’re not what I wanted.” Bruce approached the case and pressed his blackened hands against the glass, this left a black stain visible from the other side. “I wanted to be happy… but all I have are dreams of vengeance.”

Bruce would be shaken awake by his butler, Alfred, whose face is most worrisome. It was almost like he had seen a ghost.

“Master Bruce, I am most terribly sorry for waking you, but I came down to hear you sob. Are you alright?” Very shocked at this realization, he would gaze around to see that he was in the Batcave, positioned in front of the Batcomputer.

“I’m fine.” He looked up to see the older man’s features. In one smooth action, the butler is hugged, the embrace warm and much needed. “Thank you.”

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