Chapter Seven: The First Halloween

The appointment of Harvey Dent and James Gordon has gone a long way in only a few months and changes have already swept across Gotham City. The GCPD’s manhunt for the Batman has ended. The old Elizabeth Arkham Asylum has been renovated to house Gotham’s new breed of crime. Some have began questioning taking money from the Falcone Family… Some like Richard Daniel, president of Gotham City Bank and Trust.

When Richard Daniel refused to take any new accounts from Carmine Falcone the bank president was gunned down by Johnny Viti. While murder is hardly newsworthy in Gotham City this particular killing starts a series of events that threatened the forces trying to save the city. Events that begin on Halloween.

Months after the shooting of Richard Daniel, Johnny Viti is found shot twice in the head while taking a bath. The perpetrator left behind the murder weapon, a .22 caliber pistol with the nipple of a baby bottle used as a crude silencer, as well as a jack-o-lantern. Later that night a warehouse, rumored to have over $20 million in Roman’s cash, is burned to the ground. Finally, as dawn begins to break, the home of new district attorney Harvey Dent and his wife Gilda is blown up. Luckily both survive.

On Thanksgiving a mass murder in a hotel banquet room turns out to be a hit on rival Irish mobsters. At the scene another .22 is left along with a cornucopia. The news links this with the murder of Johnny Viti and begin calling the suspect the Holiday Killer.

Holiday strikes again on Christmas by murdering Milos Grappa, Carmine Falcone’s bodyguard. The gun left this time with a snowglobe. On New Year’s Eve Carmine Falcone’s son, Alberto, is shot and falls off the Falcone yacht in Gotham Harbor. Another gun is left along with a flute of champagne and serpentines.

On Valentine’s Day a ground of henchmen for Sal Maroni, the second most powerful mob boss after Carmine Falcone, are gunned down. A box of chocolates and gun are left near the car. Maroni declares war on the Holiday Killer but the attacks don’t stop.

St Patrick’s. April Fool’s. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Independence Day. For six months the Holiday Killer has stalked Gotham City.

Part One: Marcus Toure

They don’t let me carry the gun into Arkham. I show them my license. The guards don’t care. They don’t let me carry the gun into Arkham.

A man who looks more like a professional mercenary than a medical professional walks me down the dark corridors. “We haven’t gotten all the electricity set up,” he tells me. “Whenever we get one section fixed, another one goes screwy.” The corridor flashes as electricity snaps on and off.

We walk for a while to maximum security. He shows me a chair sitting in front of a cell. “That’s you,” he says. He reminds me of the rules. “Do not approach the cell. Do not take or give anything to the inmate. When I say the interview is over, it’s over. You got it?”

I nod without saying anything. Just sit in the chair.

“Well, well, well,” says a voice on the other side of the door. There’s only a tiny hole there. Just big enough for a pair of eyes to look out at me. When he speaks, it sounds like his voice box has been through a shredder. “Who’s this? A visitor? Don’t get many of those around here. I’m touched. What shall I call you? How about… Charlie. Yes, I like Charlie. What’s up, Chuck?”

He starts laughing. A mad, maniacal laughter.

“My name is Marcus Toure and I’m from the…”

“Oh, Chuck!” he says. “I know who you are! I’ve read your stuff. I read everyone who writes about me and him.”

“I’d like to ask you a few questions. If that’s okay.”

“Shoot away, Chuck!” he says. Everything he says sounds like he’s smiling as he says it. Of course, he is. “Shoot away!” Then, he says, “Oh, but you can’t, can you? They took away your gun at the door.”

I look at the guard. He shrugs. “Don’t ask me how he knows. He knows everything.”

I turn back to the cell door, the eyes never blinking. Always focused on me.

“I really only have a couple of questions. Nothing too serious.” I open my notepad and turn on the recorder on my phone. “You’ve been in and out of Arkham three times now. How does Batman keep catching you?”

The eyes don’t blink. Don’t flinch.

“I thought we were going to be friends, Chuck,” he tells me. “But we haven’t gotten by the first question and already, you’re starting to piss me off.”

“Me?” I say. “I think it’s because you get off on a big, strong man in a black suit kicking the crap out of you.” I look at the guard. “You guys ever check his underwear after Batman brings him in?”

I hear a “hiss” from behind the door. I turn back to look at it. Those same eyes staring out.

“Chucky-baby,” he says. “I don’t know if I’m beginning to hate you or love you. Probably both, actually.”

I stand up. I rush the door.

The guard runs, trying to stop me. But it’s already too late.

I reach into the front of my pants—not a tough guy in the world is going to search you there, the movie taught me—and I pull out a small capsule. Found it on a crime scene. Cops overlooked it. Got there before Batman did. Otherwise, he would have found it. And when I get to the door, I throw it through that small window.

“Chuck, what’s…” he starts.

The capsule hits the floor, breaks open and gas starts filling the cell.

He starts choking. “OH CHUCKIE!” he says, his voice throttling. “NOW I KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT US!”

The guard grabs me. “You stupid sonofabitch! What have you done?”

“Poison,” I tell him. “You’ve got two choices. Open the door or let him die.” I look the guard square in the eye. “I’ve got money that says you don’t dare open the door.”

We both hear pounding on the other side of the door. A wet, bloody cough.

“You just killed a man, Toure,” he says. “That’s murder!”

I shake my head at him. “I don’t care.”

More pounding. The guard looks at the door. Looks at me. Then, the dumb sonofabitch takes out his cuffs and clocks me across the face. The next thing I know, I’m cuffed to a water main. And he’s at the door with his keys.

“Code Blue!” he screams into his walkie talkie. “Maximum security! The Joker’s cell! I need a medical team here, stat!”

I can barely see with the blood and pain in my eyes.

The door opens. Green smoke pours out. The guard has his gun in his hand as he peers into the cell.

What happens next is fast.

The guard drops. The gun falls to the ground. He steps out of the cell, picking up the gun.

And he looks at me.

“Chuckie, Chuckie, Chuckie,” he says, checking the gun. Taking off the safety. “You should have known.”

He kneels down in front of me, the gun drooping in his hand, like he’s carrying a deck of cards.

“I’m immune to my own poisons.”

He points the gun at my face.

“You really want to kill me, don’t you, Chuck?”

I just stare at him. I don’t say a word.

“Well now,” he says. “Isn’t that interesting?”

The alarm rings. He looks up. Stands up. He grabs the keys to the handcuffs and tosses them to me.

“Tit for tat,” he says. “By the way, if Mr. Johanssen is dead by the time the other guards get here, he can’t tell them about your murder attempt.” He smiles.

“See you on the outside,” he says. Then he looks back at me, raising an eyebrow. “Mr. Toure.”

Then, he’s gone.

Part Two: Ignatius Gallow

The air is thick in the conference room. Every don and underboss in the Falcone family was gathered around the table. The Roman sat clenching and unclenching his fists at the head of the table. I reach out and take a cigar from the box on the table. I run it under my nose while surveying the rest of the room. They were scared. The freaks were pushing them, and now the Holiday Killer has the Roman riled up.

I snip the ends from the cigar. Lana leans over my shoulder with a match. I take a few puffs off the Cuban. “What are we doing about the Holiday problem gentlemen?” All heads turn to the head of the table. I can see several of them shift uneasily.

I ignore the general response. It is all the same bullshit that they always give. I blow smoke out across the table. “If I may interject.” I say cutting off one of Maronie’s men. Heads turn. I see hate in their eyes. My rise had not gone over well with many in the Family. “Why not have the freaks take care of it for us?” All of them were looking at me so they didn’t see the Roman smile. The old bastard had already thought of this.

I stand up. I keep the cigar clamped in my teeth as I speak. “The batmen have the police and the DA in their pockets. Probably Wayne too. And they are pushing us back. But we’ve seen their marks around the Holiday kills. They don’t like it any more than we do. So why not set the freaks on each other.” I tap ash into a crystal tray. “My crews have proven that we can drive the freaks back. So why not guide them into the path of our enemy.”

Maronie jumps to his feet in a moment. “You’re no better than a freak yourself Gallow. You think we haven’t noticed yours are the only crews who haven’t been hit by the Catwoman.” Before he can continue the lights go out.

In one move I kick my chair out of the way and grab Lana around the waist. My boot connects with the heavy door. The frame splintered. I ran it with my shoulder. It gives. As the two of us tumble out into the light I look back. There in the table was the billowing black shape of the Batman. Part of me wanted to draw my gun and fire, but I knew from my boys and my own experience that it was pointless.

“They will see this as weakness.” Lana commented as I carried her down the hall.

“Let them. I’ve gone toe-to-toe with that lunatic twice already. Both time landed me in the hospital.” I growl back.

Flashes of memory play across my minds eye as I push Lana into the car. The smell of burning money. A shotgun bucking in my grasp. The feel of an armored fist connecting with my jaw and the heavy boot hitting the side of my knee. The moment of waking in a holding cell with James Gordon studying me. And the reporters bothering me as I lay handcuffed to a hospital bed.

Part Three: Isabella Fuente

I had to quit my job as an EMT about a year ago. No time to ride the wagon around town when I’m busy between the clinic, school, and my… extracurriculars.

Tonight is an extracurricular night.

There’s four of them working as a team. Two are muscle and lookouts, one is the dealer, and one is the guy in charge. They’re easy to pick out — the muscle act like it, the dealer handles product and cash, and the guy in charge never touches the drugs or the money. Makes it easier for him to dodge charges if they get picked up.

I take out one of the lookouts when he goes to take a leak, and the second when he comes looking for his friend. The dealer is fast so I resort to a taser shot. The guy in charge bolts, but I’ve watched him for days so I know where he’ll run. I cut him off, stick him with the syringe and push the plunger down as fast as I can. I only get about half the dose in before he breaks away, but it doesn’t matter. He whirls on me ready to fight, but his legs go wobbly almost immediately.

I zip-tie him to a cheap folding chair, set up an IV. It’s just fluids, but the sight of the bag and the line always makes people paranoid. Then I wake him up.

“Who’s your supplier?” I demand as soon as I see his eyes begin to flutter. I lean in close, make sure the first thing he sees is my eyes. The rest of my face is hidden behind grease paint and a red scarf.

He takes it in. Sees the needle in his arm, the line, the bag. Fidgets. “What the fuck are you putting in me?”

“Nothing yet. But this will kill you in less than five minutes.” I hold up a syringe. “Who’s your supplier?”

“Get fucked! I know who you are! The Lady in Red!” He tries to spit in my face, but he’s so weak and numb that it just runs down his chin.

I hadn’t heard that particular nickname before, but I like it. I shrug, push the syringe into the IV and push the plunger down. “Tick tock. Who’s your supplier?”

He struggles, but he’s about as strong as a toddler. I drop the empty syringe back into my bag and fish out a different one, hold it up so he can see. “This is the antidote. It’ll cost you a few answers, and a promise. Who’s your supplier?”

“Shit!” His eyes are wide, he’s close to panicking. He looks around the room desperately. I lean close again, holding the syringe so he can see the point of the needle.

“Tick. Tick. Tick.” With each word I tap the tip of the needle to his cheek.

“Red Eddy gets me weed! Heroine is from a guy down by the cape, Grant something! Pills, I got a doctor at Gotham General that sells me fake scripts!” He fidgets away from the needle, looking between the point and my eyes.

“Don’t care about the weed, or the heroine, or the pills. I don’t care about the crack or the Molly, either.” I set the syringe down and pick up a little ziplock baggy, hold it up so he can see. I got it out of his dealer’s pockets earlier. “I want to know who supplies you with Funnybone.”

Funnybone is probably the nastiest street drug I’ve seen in my life. It’s a nice little blend of crack and X, with just a splash of Joker Toxin.

He goes ballistic, trying to get free. “They’ll kill me! Please! I’ll tell you anything else!”

I drop the bag and lean close again. “I already killed you. You’re dead. But you can be alive again if you give… me… a… name.” My eyes are wide, and I’m talking through my teeth. This is personal. I need to make that clear.

He strains against the zip-tie, manages to throw his weight to one side enough to tip the chair over. It makes a lot of noise when he hits the cement floor, probably hurts like hell, but doesn’t accomplish much else. I get up and wrench him back to where he was before. “You got about a minute before permanent damage kicks in, with or without the antidote. Tick. Tick. Tick.”

“I got a girl who has a friend that works at Arkham, a security guard! She mixes the stuff up, and I buy it from her! Goes by Madcap, her real name is… Josey, I think! She lives near the clock tower!”

“Josey, goes by Madcap. Near the clock tower. You sure?” He nods. He’s in full-blown panic mode. I pick up the syringe again, put it in the IV, and push the plunger all the way down.

He relaxes, and in less than ten seconds he’s unconscious again. There was never any poison — the IV is just fluids, the first injection was more of the same, and the second was just a sedative. I gather up his buddies and put them all together, zip-tied. I leave them a message in red spraypaint on the wall.

THIS IS MERCY. DON’T COME BACK.

Credits

Chapters written by Rob Justice
Igantious Gallow written by Steven A Skidmore
Isabella Fuente written by Michael Curry
Marcus Toure written by John Wick

Posted in A City Without Hope.

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