The Dark Knight Lives (FORTY-NINE)

Gloria Ramirez was fast asleep when she felt someone shaking her shoulders. Her eyes flashed open and her left hand instinctively balled into a fist to punch her attacker only to find that it was Blake Lively staring down at her.

“Come. There’s something you have to see,” he told her.

Rubbing the grogginess out of her eyes, she hurried out of bed, following after him. Her head was pounding from being startled out of her deep slumber. And she had been sleeping so well too. After a hard day’s work sleep was so precious. And now this gift that rest had given to her had been robbed of her. It was so unfortunate.

Her grumpiness at being woken dissipated instantly as she saw what was being broadcast on the television. It was an aerial view of the Bat-signal shining into the clouds from the Wayne Enterprises Building. She practically shrieked at the sight, covering her mouth in utter shock.

After several moments staring at the screen, she asked quietly, “Is this real?” She looked at Blake Lively’s back as he too gazed at the screen intently, his arms crossed. “Is this really happening?”

He glanced back at her. “Yes.”

She couldn’t help it. She started to cry.

“Batman has returned?” she asked again, her cheeks wet with tears.

He dipped his head. “Yes, the dark knight has seemingly returned but I cannot say for sure if it’s the Batman I know. It could be someone new.”

Her eyes widened. “A new Batman?” she gasped.

A second later she heard footsteps approaching followed by an exclamation from Arthur.

“So it’s true,” he said. “Batman is back! But…can this mean that Bruce Wayne-?”

Robin turned to them. “Bruce Wayne is not coming back. He’s had his time to be Gotham’s protector but his time is passed. I assure you, this is someone new. And whoever it is,” he looked toward the television, toward the signal that illuminated half of Gotham, “I’m hoping they’re on our side.”

The Penguin’s disturbing nightmare hadn’t fully dissipated, leaving him tossing and turning all night. He eventually woke again when he heard cries from outside. In fact, the exclamations sounded like cheers. His eyebrows furrowed. What was going on?

He grumpily got out of bed, heading over to the window, and nearly had a conniption as the Bat-signal stared right back at him. It was so close. Its ray of light seemed to be beaming right upon him, searing him with its accusing stare.

He made an exclamation of fright, moving away from the window and falling to the ground. His hands were quivering and his heart was pounding.

The nightmare, it was real. Batman had returned. And with his return, it meant that his plan of domination over Gotham would be that much more difficult. His nose curled into a snarl.

No, he wouldn’t let this accursed Bat-signal scare him. He stood, walking back to the window and staring at the signal with determination and contempt.

“You can’t scare me!” he yelled to the sky. “And you never will,” he said more quietly to himself.

Harley Quinn wasn’t going to allow the sudden return of the Batman ruins her good mood. Her visit with the Seer had been rather productive, so productive in fact that she and Pamela Isley were already beginning to concoct a plan.

Then that cursed ray of light appeared in the sky and suddenly everyone was practically shaking in their boots. As if that simple stamp in the clouds was an immediate cast of judgment for every criminal in Gotham.

For Harley, fear wasn’t her first response to seeing the Bat-signal. In fact, it only made her mad. It was Batman, after all, who had taken the man she loved from her, reducing him to almost nothing as he slowly rotted in Arkham Asylum. But she had saved him, only for his failure to bring Batman to an end to turn against him and get him killed.

The Bat-signal, for her, was a call to action. A war cry that signaled the battle had just begun. And in response, she was ready to become even more murderous, even more reckless, and yes, a lot more cynical.

Pamela Isley wasn’t afraid of Batman nor would she ever be. He was a man in a mask who fought bad guys. That wasn’t too scary. He was just a fancy cop with fewer morals and more fans. Besides, with her powers, she could take the caped crusader in a fight.

She knew Bruce Wayne was Batman. The rumors had all but been confirmed when Wayne Enterprises, after Batman’s “death”, started to decline rapidly in stature over the city. She also knew Bruce Wayne was very fond of female company.

She was quite the catch for someone like him and with a little flirting and a single date she could take Batman out for good just like she did the young mayor. It would be so simple.

But she couldn’t worry about that now. The Commissioner was her next target and she wasn’t going to fail. And no, not even Batman, was going to able to stop her.

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