The 24th of December
Comics Retcon Universe 020
The 24th of December
Stephanie Brown is hoping for a quiet night on Christmas Eve, the highlight of which is going to a party at the manor. What she didn't expect was her night to be ruined by a man obsessed with holidays.
Author's Note: This is a short little Christmas tale starring Batgirl, taking place after I Am the Night, so if you haven't read that story I suggest you do so before this :) I'd like to thank djkauf for the editing and DC Comics for the characters.
It was called escalation, I suppose it was inevitable. After all, when someone stalks the night, taking out criminals left and right there were bound to be consequences. “Repercussions” Babs called it; me, I called it a pain in the ass. Nearly a month has passed since The Bat took out Black Mask and his Thrill empire, Roman Sionis was safely behind bars at Blackgate, his goons spread out at different prisons along the Illinois coastline. Red Robin and I made the news for several days after that and some of the haters reversed their attitudes toward us. I say some because the Mayor and the DA were still out to get us. That didn’t matter though, because Thrill was officially gone and the man responsible was punished for it. Things were good for once but like the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end”.
That’s where the escalation came in.
What is it that people say, “Cut off the head and another will grow back”; well that’s exactly what happened. Nearly a week after we took Sionis down, others rose to take his place. Small time at first but it got bigger fast. Different drug syndicates started popping up, peddling everything from crack to meth to designer stuff so varied that it made the others look like child’s play. At first, Red Robin and I were on top of things, knocking down one drug kingpin after another, stopping the bad before it got worse. Then the bad started winning. We’d take down one group and three more would spring up. Taking those groups down only led to more and more. Such a thing might have discouraged a lesser pair of crime fighters but we knew going into this that things weren’t going to be easy. You can never truly get rid of crime no matter how much you tried.
The drug rings were the least of our problems though.
After Black Mask, the wackos were coming out of the woodwork too. While other Metas were out there dealing with super powered crazies, I was stuck dealing with just the garden variety ones. Two days after Sionis was behind bars, a nut started knocking over jewelry stores, leaving behind a variety of different dead moths at the scenes of his crime. A few days after that, Tim and I had our hands full with a guy dressed in a flame retardant suit, torching cars at a dealership with a flamethrower. Then of course, there was “The Harlequin”, an insane bundle of crazy, her crimes varying from knocking over joke shops to stealing all the romance novels from bookstores. When we apprehended them, no prison could hold them. The courts set up an island facility in Lake Michigan, an old insane asylum recently refurbished and opened to house the new criminally insane. It was called the Elizabeth Arkham Mental Health Facility but the press had dubbed it “Arkham Asylum.”
Tim and I would catch them and the Asylum would lock them up.
It worked too, for a time. But it wasn’t long before appeals and “rehabilitations” got in the way. We’d put them in there and a few months later, they’d be right back out on the streets. It didn’t help that we were stretched pretty thin, too. Babs and Bruce did their best to help but Bruce started going big league. I’m not saying he wasn’t there because he was but it’s hard to be in more than one place at once. Thanks to me, The Bat became a household name but thanks to him, The Batman became a symbol. Criminals came from all over to test their might against the Batman, it didn’t matter if he was man or woman, they all wanted a piece of him. Bruce was only too happy to take on their challenges. He got busy dealing with it all too. Tim and I helped wherever we could, fielding the lesser ones while he took on the big ones. Bruce had his own unique style about dealing with them, too; he’d honed his skills over time, taking on all challengers using an array of gadgets and his knowledge of both the criminal psyche and martial arts. To watch him fight was truly a thing of wonder.
To train with him was even better.
True to his word, he began to teach me everything he knew. I’m a fast learner---thanks to my metagene---so it didn’t take very long. Within a few months, I was almost as skilled a combatant as him. Wayne Enterprises R&D budget covered our expenses too. New gadgets kept getting invented, vehicles were armor plated, surveillance was set up all over the city. We even started using a few floors of one of his buildings, dubbing it the “Bat Cave”---don’t tell me how that happened.
A year from the date I started all of this and now it was a well-oiled machine. But like all machines there were bound to be a few problems.
I shifted my weight, turning slightly on my perch. Tonight was supposed to be my day off, classes started tomorrow. I’d been a freshman at Northwestern for a whole semester now. Leaving high school early and starting college was a bit of an eye opener but it was so worth it. After going the spring semester and then the summer, I was starting as a sophomore in the Fall. It felt kind of strange but like most things, I adjusted pretty fast. When it all started though, I was bit overwhelmed. Strangely enough, it was all a lot like tonight.
Ironically enough, it was the same guy back then too. It was Christmas Eve; I was just finishing up getting packed. I was trying to rush things because there was a big party at the Manor I was supposed to be getting to but of course, the job came first. The police had their hands full tracking a rather peculiar psychopath, one that so far had been eluding capture…
December 24th, 2011
“Wait, the guy was actually surrounded by rats?” asked Jennifer with a laugh.
“Would I lie about something like that?” I said, as I walked to the mirror, holding my dress up to my chin.
I turned around toward the bed, where three other dresses currently sat. I hated being so torn. Three great dresses, one killer party. I wanted to look my best after all; it was my first big society function. I had a gorgeous date, a grateful benefactor and a room full of the most influential people in the city; I needed to look my best. The only problem was I couldn’t quite figure out which one would make me do so. The red one---the one I was holding---made my eyes pop. But the blue one had a low cut neckline, showing off my assets really well. Whereas the black one was just to die for, what girl didn’t like the LBD?
“So what did you do?” asked Jennifer, referring to my most recent escapade.
I tossed the red dress on the bed and turned back to the mirror. I was still in awe of the girl standing before me, especially the hot one in her silk bra and panties. Only a few months ago that girl was in hiding underneath a boy, a boy desperate to bring her out to the forefront. Now that she was here---staring back at me---I sometimes wanted to pinch myself to make sure it was all real. Getting nearly blown up would probably be the worst thing to happen to a normal person but to me it was the best moment in my life. What came after was even better but nothing compared to that moment when I woke up and became the real me.
“I thought I called you so you could help me pick out a dress?”
Jennifer sighed. “You did but let me remind you, you’re the one who started talking about that crazy Exterminator guy.”
She had me there. “I didn’t say exterminator, I said rat catcher. Apparently people actually paid this guy to go into their home and catch rats.”
“That’s an exterminator, Steph.”
I laughed. “Yeah well this guy only did rats” Jennifer made a eww sound. “My thoughts exactly. Anyway, he’d actually trained the little buggers to rob people. It was small things like jewelry and wallets. Anyway, I finally tracked him down to an old warehouse on the docks. When I went in to apprehend him, he actually tried to have the damn things attack me.”
“Double eww” she said “tell me you kicked his ass?”
I laughed. “One punch. The rats scurried away and Mr. Ratcatcher now has a very nice padded cell in Arkham.”
Jennifer laughed. “If you ever ask me to be your sidekick, remind me to refuse.”
I smiled even though I knew she couldn’t see me. “Ok, now about the dresses.”
“What were the colors again?”
I groaned. “Red, black and blue.”
“Ooo, you so have to go with the black. It’s your signature color after all.”
My signature color? I looked at the three dresses on the bed. I was kind of steering toward red actually. Not that I didn’t love black but I was kind of getting sick and tired of it. When you wear a black leather jumpsuit almost every night, it’s kind of hard to wear it any other time. I liked the suit---Jennifer made it for me after all---but I was beginning to tire of it. I asked Babs about the possibility of another but so far, she hasn’t come through.
“I like the red one.”
“Oh yeah, that works. It would really bring out your eyes.”
We spent the next twenty minutes discussing the dresses anyway. In the end, it was decided that the red one suited me best. With that out of the way, I slowly slipped It over my head. I think I might have gone with the red one anyway because I had the perfect shoes for it. While still talking to Jennifer, I pulled the box out of my closet and slipped into my perfect red three inch heels. Now all I needed was the right makeup look and my evening was all set.
“I’m going to miss this you know,” she said with a sigh.
“I’m not leaving the city Jen just high school; I’m still going to be around for us to talk.”
“Yeah but you’re going to be a college girl with college friends, too busy to hang with me anymore.”
I could almost see her pouting. “I’ll never be too busy to hang with you.”
“I’m holding you to that Stephanie Brown.”
I started laughing. As I did, the phone beeped, indicating I had another call. I told her to hang on a sec as I picked up the phone, took it off speaker and switched over to my other call. It wasn’t a call at all, instead a giant bat symbol flashed on the screen. Seriously, she’s gotta be kidding me. This was supposed to be my night off, couldn’t she give me that much. I groaned, switching back over to Jen.
“Looks like duty calls again.”
“You’re kidding?” said Jen “I guess there’s no rest for the busy crime fighter after all.”
“Apparently not” I said with a sigh. “I’ll call you back later. But just in case, Merry Christmas and don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do.”
“I think that’s my line.”
I clicked off and called Oracle’s line. She picked up quickly. “This better be important.”
“Sorry to ruin your night but your friend the detective is looking for you. Something big has come up.”
“Doesn’t it always” I groaned.
“I’m parked around the block, I’ve got something for you before you head so come in civvies.”
“Oracle, you got me something, you shouldn’t have.”
“Just hurry up, the night is wasting.”
She clicked off. I cursed. I hated when Babs pulled this crap on me. Why couldn’t I have one night for myself, just one? I sighed heavily as I grabbed my little red clutch purse and my wrap before heading out the door.
Babs had a car designed specifically for her with a computer interface and everything. It was cutting edge stuff, direct from Wayne Enterprises. Walking a bit around the corner, I found the Blue Chevy Volt parked across from the park. Barbara was inside behind the passenger seat. She smiled when she saw me. As I approached, I noticed that she was dressed up for the party in a black dress, her red hair piled high on her head. I frowned at that bit; she didn’t even give me a chance to finish getting ready. Not that any of that mattered now, I’d probably have to shower before going to the party after all of this.
“You look nice,” said Babs when I finally reached the car.
“That’s supposed to be Tim’s line.”
Babs didn’t say a thing; instead, she reached over and pushed a button underneath the dash. There was a popping sound and the trunk opened slightly. “Large silver box” was all she said as I walked around and opened the trunk. The box was a large steel case actually, latches locking the lid in place. I quickly undid those and lifted the lid, surprised at what I saw inside. It was a suit, mostly black with purple along the sides. There was a giant yellow bat on the chest. I reached down and touched it. The material was hard in places, especially in the chest area. But the rest of it was rough, like fabric but much stronger. I ran my finger along the material, amazed at the firmness of it.
I stepped away from the trunk. “You can’t be serious?”
Babs stuck her head out of window. “No offense to your friend Jennifer but it was about time for an upgrade.”
I nodded. “Jen will understand.”
We didn’t talk much after that. Instead, I closed the case and took it into the car. Babs drove me back to the house---luckily Uncle Jim was gone. We went up to my room where I proceeded to take off my party clothes. She explained in detail about the suit as I took it out. After Bruce had his new one ordered, she felt that I deserved the same. This one was equipped with a carbon fiber-reinforced polymer and a Kevlar biweave, with wireless communication built into the cowl and a new feature---a system to monitor my vitals like heart rate and body temp. It was all meant to make me a better crime fighter. She wouldn’t tell me where she got it---like Bruce, she was keeping mum about that.
After the rundown on all the bells and whistles, I got dressed. First came a spandex jumpsuit for underneath then the suit itself. I half expected it to be hard to get on but it wasn’t. In fact, it was extremely flexible. I flexed my limbs, wiggling my fingers and my toes. The fabric breathed with me, moving with every movement. I pulled on the boots and the gloves after that, the gloves were edged with three triangular like fins. I’d seen something similar on Bruce’s suit. My boots had three fins on them as well but were extremely heavily duty, with a heavy rubber sole.
Then there was the belt, with many pouches like the other one. Another smaller belt wrapped around my left thigh.
I hooked my extendable baton onto the belt and turned to the mirror. Gone was the figure in black leather, now stood a bad ass looking Bat chick more primed to kick some ass?
“I’m going to scare the shit out of people”
Babs rolled up behind me. “It gets better,” she said, dangling a pair of keys.
“Is that what I think it is?”
She smiled. “Your suit isn’t the only thing that got an upgrade.”
“This is the best Christmas ever,” I said, taking the keys from her.
“C’mon” she said with another smile. “Let’s see if your new wheels are everything they’re cracked up to be.”
The sleek black bike turned corners like a dream. I could have ridden around on it all night but of course, I wasn’t out for a joyride.
“Tell me about this new one,” I said, finding it a bit strange to speak into the little mike built into my new cowl.
“The police are dubbing him the Holiday Killer. They don’t really know much more than that other than his MO. He seems too obsessed with the holidays. He first appeared two months ago on Halloween, poisoning several batches of candy, several children got sick but there were no casualties. He disappeared for about a month but resurfaced on Thanksgiving. He broke into a home, murdered a family at the Thanksgiving table then proceeded to eat their dinner before leaving. The whole thing was apparently caught on a closed circuit security camera.”
What a piece of work.
“Are they sure it’s the same guy?”
I could hear her typing away at her keys. “He leaves a calling card apparently” She paused a moment and then added. “Wow, apparently it’s a calendar, with the date of the crime circled in blood. Rather gruesome.”
“Holiday Killer sounds more like Calendar Man to me.”
Babs groaned. “Must you name them all?”
“It’s the only way I can rest easy at night” There was silence for a moment. “So what does Gage have on him? Has he resurfaced again?”
“I’m not sure; he wouldn’t divulge the details over the phone. I think he doesn’t trust me.”
“He doesn’t trust Oracle but I bet if Barbara Gordon did the asking…”
I could just see her blushing.
Barbara and Nick had been dating for about a week now. After they met in the hospital, the two of them hit it off. It was random cups of coffee here and there but that turned into real drinks then actually full dinners. It was kind of cute actually. Of course Babs was a little apprehensive over the whole thing, she didn’t have much like with guys. They tended to date her for a bit but the chair freaked them out and they bailed. Nick didn’t appear to be fazed by it a bit and if he was and broke her heart, I’d break his arm.
“So where am I meeting the detective again?”
She gave me the directions and then I ended the conversation, intent on concentrating on my driving. The bike was a black Yamaha YZF-R1, a sports bike built for speed. It was a little more to handle than Tim’s bike. This one was a bit retrofitted too, the body reinforced with Kevlar, a bulletproof windshield put in the front. Babs wasn’t taking any chances. The last bike I drove was on loan from Bruce. It was a few weeks ago, I drove it on a high-speed chase through the back alleys of the city. Tim and I were on the trail of a small time hood and he gave us the slip, hopping on his bike. I think he hoped to lose us in the alleys but he underestimated all the time Tim and I had spent in that particular area in the last month or so. We knew those alleys like the back of our hands.
In the end, we caught our man but I ended up wiping out after a bad turn, totaling the bike. Bruce reamed me pretty hard for it too; apparently, it was a pretty special model, only three in the world. I guess the Yamaha was his attempt to say that this was my bike, drive it at my own risk. My own risk at the moment was pretty damn fast. I was whipping through the streets, hell bent to get to this done in time so that I could at least get to have some fun tonight.
After driving for another ten minutes or so, the onboard computer beeped, signaling that I had reached my desired location. I pulled into the alley between the two buildings. I took to the fire escape, scaling it like a monkey. When I got to the top, I pulled myself onto the roof and into the shadows. Bruce had been teaching me the finer parts of stealth. He apparently learned how to enter and leave the room from a famous illusionist; it was all about using my environment. Tonight I had the shadows, some nights it was fog and in some places it was smoke. There was always something to use to my advantage. It helped that Onyx had taught me how to move silently in the dark too, walking without making a single sound.
That’s how I approached detective Gage.
He was standing near the door, shifting his weight from foot to foot. He had a coffee in one hand, a folder stuffed underneath his other arm. He was bundled up tonight, probably because of the cold. I could see his breath from here. The cold didn’t bother me anymore; this new suit appeared to be insulated. Babs really knew how to spoil a girl that’s for sure.
I slipped around behind the man, never making a sound. When he turned around, he nearly jumped out of his shoes at the sight of me.
“I can’t stand it when you do that” he gasped, his hand on his chest, his breathing much faster.
“Oracle said you had something for me detective” I said in my usual, more fiercer sounding tone.
He nodded. “We’re at a bit of a standstill, a case that I’ve been working on.”
“The Holiday Killer.”
He nodded. “Why am I not surprised that you knew that” he said with a sigh then handed me the folder.
I opened it open and looked briefly. It was the usual report, complete with gruesome pictures. There was something new though: a plastic evidence bag with what appeared to be a Christmas card. I took the bag out, turning it over. The police had already dusted it for prints but from the looks of it, there was none to be found.
“This is why you called me out here tonight?”
He nodded again then blew into his hands. “That arrived on the desk of Judge Earl Harkness.”
Harkness, I knew him. I’d heard his name mentioned more than once around the house. He was a golfing buddy of Uncle Jim’s, worked in the Juvenile Court system I believe.
“A Juvie judge?” Gage sighed. “Have you found a connection yet?”
“Too many sadly.”
“What can you tell me about the card?”
“Not much” he said, taking it from me. He didn’t take it out of the evidence bag but he held it up. “It can be found at any local dime store so we couldn’t trace its purchase. We ran the usual tests on it and the envelope it came in but it all came back clean.”
“And you think this is from your man because?”
He smiled, reaching into his coat. He pulled out another evidence bag; this one had a torn calendar page in it. It was only half a page actually, the right corner with 23, 24, 30 and 31. The 24 was circled in red. “It’s blood, A positive. The lab took a sample but it’s not human, a cat actually. Kind of sad when you think of it.”
I nodded. “Are you sure this isn’t just your average run of the mill psychopath, after I took out Black Mask, there seems to be more of those than usual.”
“We can’t take the chance. Harkness is going to be at the mayor’s party tonight, second biggest party in the city.”
I know. I should be at the first right now.
“I’ve got men staking the place out undercover,” he continued. “We can’t take any chances. I’ve alerted the mayor’s security and Harkness has a bodyguard but I want to be extra careful. If it is our man…”
“I’ll be there.”
“I know it’ll make my men feel a lot safer knowing you’ve got their back.”
Not everyone on the force was out to get me. Because of our joint bust, Gage had gotten a promotion. He was now head of the Dangerous Crimes Unit. He and his men were all on my side, most of them referred to my judgment whenever necessary. It was almost as if they worked for me, well in an unofficial capacity of course. It was kind of funny because I felt a bit like the junior squad. After the Batman started appearing on the scene, he started speaking directly to Uncle Jim about things. The two of them had started to develop this strange partnership. In a way, Nick Gage was like my Jim Gordon.
“You want to follow me or should I follow you…”
I disappeared into the shadows as he was saying it. I had to keep up a little bit of mystery after all.
The mayor’s house was a good size but it was a dollhouse in comparison to the Manor. Unlike the Manor, it was loaded down with security. Ten-foot metal fence, CCTV cameras, guards patrolling the perimeter. It was a pretty tight little place but like most places, there were always flaws in the systems. I drove the bike around to the side, parking it in a copse of trees near the western corner of the fence. There was a tree on the other side of the fence, the camera mounted near it. I could see a blind spot even if they weren’t aware of it. It was only a few moments, where the camera passed by the tree, seconds really. It was all I needed though. I took a quick running leap up the fence and cleared it without a problem. I was running by the time I hit the ground.
I didn’t stop for the guards either. There were two of them on the west side. I timed everything so I slipped by when their backs were turned. They never even knew I was there.
Climbing the side of the house was easier than I thought. I found a second story window that someone graciously left open. I slipped inside, clicking on my thermals. The room turned into an orange hue, any nearby bodies taking on a dark red tone. There were guards patrolling the halls. I kept to the shadows as I left the room, neither one never spotting me. Moving from shadow to shadow, I crept slowly down the hall. Chances were if someone were after the judge, they’d try to ambush him when he was alone. I needed to find a spot where I knew someone could hide and lie in wait. There were a few options but the best one was probably near a bathroom.
“Oracle” I said, tapping into communications. “I need to know the schematics of this place.”
“On it” she said a moment later, followed by the tapping of keys.
“Security is light, computer security even lighter. Someone needs to teach the mayor how to protect his servers better.”
I groaned. “Focus please.”
“Ok, we have roving guards, cameras in every hall. There’s motion sensors and data pad locks on the interior doors. All easily hackable.”
“Any points in the system where someone could hide and not be noticed?”
“There’s an alcove in the west wing, no cameras there. It’s isolated and the patrols only check it every hour or so.”
“Are you monitoring the police band?”
I left my hallway, moving in a westward direction. I asked for the exact location of the alcove. While I moved, I asked her to summarize for me anything strange or out of the ordinary. From reading his file---what little there was---I knew this guy had a strange way of doing things. It was clear he was obsessed with the holidays, probably stemming from some childhood trauma. Thanks to Onyx and by extension Bruce, I’d been studying a lot psychology books, mainly criminal and abnormal. So if I were to get a chance to delve into the “Calendar Man’s” psyche, I wouldn’t be all that surprised to find a horrible childhood, possibly abuse and eventually Juvie. After all, there has to be a reason he was targeting Judge Harkness.
I reached the alcove or rather the floor above it.
I was now in the main foyer of the house, the alcove was underneath the main stairs. There was a police officer at the top of the stairs, dressed in plain clothes. I could tell by the bulge and the blue spot on my thermals that he was packing. I clicked off the thermals and crept slowly behind him. I’d familiarized myself with all the officers in Gage’s squad; this one was Officer Eddie Cruz.
“Anything out of ordinary, Officer Cruz?”
He jumped but didn’t turn around. “Nothing that stands out but I’m damn glad you’re here.”
“Keep your eyes open, he’s out there.”
I slipped back into the shadows then made my way to the end of the railing. I didn’t want to drop down right away because I didn’t want to let him know I was there. Instead, I sat and waited. According to Gage, the party was in full swing already. All I had to do was sit and wait. Chances are the perp would go after the judge while he was leaving. There would be a distraction---possibly a power outage---then he’d grab him.
Now it was the waiting game. A game I was all too familiar with in this line of work.
So there I sat and waited. An hour, an hour and a half before the guests starting making their way into the foyer. They were filing toward two attendants by the door who were handing out coats. Looking at all the smartly dressed people, I had a pang of anger. I should have been one of those people, at my own party. A party, which was probably winding down at this particular moment. I had to wonder if my date wasn’t irritable with me by now. Tim wasn’t the most patient person in the world that’s for sure. I appreciated him greatly but he hated to wait. You’d think after saving his life---more than once---he’d be a little more grateful.
I scanned the faces, trying to find the judge.
He finally appeared with a tall thin woman in a gold dress, flanked by two suits. I looked at the bulges on either of their sides, noticing the guns. No doubt, the bodyguards Gage mentioned. At least Harkness wasn’t talking the threat idly. I kept my eyes on the group as they moved slowly toward the door. A few more people fell into line with them, moving slowly toward the door. They all looked like they belonged; partygoers dressed in their finest like the rest. I found it hard to believe that one of them might be the “Calendar Man”. I kept my eye on everyone just in case.
Closer and closer, they moved toward the door. The moment to strike would be soon. The group started to thin, the couple in front almost at the door before the lights went off. The darkness was followed by several women screaming, men gasping. I flipped the thermals back on, the room and its occupants bathed in shades of orange and red again. I caught sight of Harkness but he wasn’t with his wife and guards anymore. During the panic, he got pushed away from the three of them, turned around.
That’s when I saw him, an overpowering bulk of a man. I switched from thermals to night vision, getting a good look at him. A large man dressed in a red Santa Clause coat and hat. He had his eyes set on Harkness and only Harkness.
“What was that you said about Santa?” I asked, remembering a quick report.
“Someone robbed a Santa impersonator of his suit. Clubbed him the back of the head, stripped him and left him in an alley.”
“That’s him,” I said, pulling a batarang from my belt. “I’m looking at him right now.”
I looked at the bear of a man pushing his way through the crowd toward the judge. He was holding a felt Santa bag in his hand or rather around it. When he got closer to the judge, he pulled the bag away, revealing a tire iron. It wasn’t a knife like I expected but it would do the trick.
“It’s him. Call Gage and tell him I’ve got him.”
“Stop him before he gets the judge”
I took aim and threw the batarang, making sure it hit the floor where the menacing figure of Santa stood. He looked up about, wearing a pair of night vision goggles of his own. He scanned along the railing before he stopped upon me then the most wicked smile crossed his face. It was the smile of a man that had nothing to lose, a man that didn’t fear anything including the Bat. I pulled out another batarang before dropping down from the railing. He kept his sights on me before I disappeared into the crowd of the frantic, pushing past partygoers.
I had sight of him though and he only sights for Harkness. The judge was heading right for the alcove. The brute reached into his pocket, pulling out a string of Christmas lights. It was tied into a crude looking noose. It was clear that he meant to make a spectacle of the old man. He lunged for the judge, swinging the tire iron. He struck him the back, causing him to fall forward. I pushed forward only to be blocked by an elderly couple in distress. I slipped past them only to find the brute putting the noose around the judge’s neck.
I found a good opening and let loose with the batarang. It soared through the air. The big man turned, as if expecting it. The batarang missed by an inch, taking with it the Santa hat. I finally got a look at his face. He had an ugly visage, his head shaved bald, and no eyebrows. It was a nondescript face except for the strange tattoo that wrapped around his forehead. I had to squint to make it out but it appeared to the months, abbreviated and turned to banner around his head: JANFEBMARAPRMAYJUNJULAUGSEPOCTNOVDEC.
Calendar Man indeed.
“Let him go” I snarled, startling the people next to me.
“Tis Christmas, I have to hang my stocking or Santa won’t bring me my present.”
I pulled the baton from my belt, extending it to the length of my knee. He smirked, tossing Harkness to the side. He lunged for me only to get the baton in his gut. A moment later, I cracked it hard down on one of his oversized biceps. He wailed in pain, dropping to the ground. He staggered to his feet but I wasn’t about to let him back up. I drove the baton into the back of his head, dropping him back down. It wasn’t enough to take him fully out so I finished him off with a knee to the face. It was enough, the man dropped unconscious.
As soon as he did, the lights came out. Several women around us screamed. I pulled a smoke pellet from my belt as police and security ran toward us. I threw it to the ground and disappeared into the cloud of smoke that appeared.
The Judge was safe. The Calendar Man was finished and my party was ruined.
All in the day’s work of the Bat Girl.
The Calendar Man didn’t elude capture after that. The police arrested him and carted him off to a nearby hospital for evaluation. Julian Gregory Day---his real name---was actually one of the first patients at Arkham when the hospital opened two months after that. His treatment was doing well; he stopped obsessing over the holidays after a month or so of treatment. I was right in my assessment of him too; he did come from an abusive home. His obsession for the holidays came from his father. HE used to wait up at all hours for his Dad to come home from work---it was the worse on the holidays. One night when he was twelve, he snuck into his father’s work and murdered him with a hatchet. It was Father’s Day.
He was arrested and tried in juvenile court under Judge Harkness. The judge went lenient on the poor kid, sending him off to a mental health facility instead of prison. Day’s obsession only grew worse from there. After fifteen years, he was completely rehabilitated or so it seemed. He was released a few weeks before Halloween. That was shortly before the candy poisoning incident then there was the Thanksgiving massacre of course. Killing Harkness would have been the icing on the cake for him. Day blamed him for fifteen years of hell and wanted revenge.
Things this time around were supposed to be different.
Day was treated once again and deemed fit to stand trial. While on his way from Arkham to Blackgate, he broke out of his restraints, killed his two guards and slit the throat of the bus driver. The bus crashed, Day escaped and disappeared into the night. That was two days ago. I’ve been tracking him ever since, hoping his obsession with the holidays would drive him above ground again. But with most of the major ones out of the way, all I could do was wait for his next move.
I finally got a bead on him last night. One of Oracle’s informants reported seeing a man fitting Day’s description. He thought it was weird to see a man wearing a winter hat during August so he dropped her a line. We’d put feelers out, hoping that something like this might come up. In Arkham, Day had taken to wearing a wool knit hat to hide his bald head and bizarre tattoo. So there was no way that, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to investigate such a sighting. If it was him, my night would be so much easier. Maybe I could even get back in time to pack for school. I was moving out of the dorms this semester, moving into an off campus apartment with Jen.
Tonight we were supposed to be moving stuff in but then I got the call. So now, here I was crouched on the edge of a rooftop in the Narrows---during the dark of night---while my new roommate was stuck moving boxes all by herself. Sometimes I really hated this job. I tried to get Tim to fill in for me but he was busy with another case with Bruce, someone was writing bizarre riddles and leaving them at all their crime scenes.
“Tell me there’s something on the police band?” I asked, hoping for anything but just sitting here.
“A strange oddity actually” said Oracle a moment later. “Someone broke into a dog shelter, took all the dogs and disappeared before anyone could catch him. Drove off in a stolen van.”
A van? I perked up at that. The house that Day was supposedly squatting in had a van parked around the side. There were a lot of squatters in this area; I just assumed the van belonged to one of them. I pulled a pair of small binoculars from my belt and looked at the van, zooming in on the license plate. I asked Oracle to read off the plates of the stolen vehicle.
I smiled. “We’ve got a match. This has to be Day.”
Oracle groaned. “That makes sense.”
“The dog days of summer.”
I groaned too. Just like Day to come up with something as corny as that. I cracked my knuckles then rolled my shoulders. I missed my Christmas party last year because of him, ruined the holiday for me actually. There was no way I was going to miss moving into my new apartment and potentially ruining another day for me.