I - T H E C A R N I V A L
THE RINGMASTER'S RETURN
November 17th, 2017 | ? ? ?
"He's out tonight."
A low orange light hummed throughout the room: a vintage zoetrope fitted with a more modern bulb, spinning clowns and ringmasters round and round the walls. It tended to induce minor motion sickness if you lingered long, but if its owner felt nauseous, he didn't show it. If its owner could feel anything, he didn't show it.
A ragged and multi-stained figure had startled and snorted back to life as the low, menacing voice had broken a silence that had lasted several days. He rubbed his eyes free of grime and dirt and coughed heavily as old lungs brought foul air into a diseased chest; the zoetrope spun and spun and spun and the concrete pillars and tarmac floor seemed to twist and warp. Conciousness battled through alcohol and sleep deprivation and drug withdrawal and eventually drifted to the top of the fetid pile this old man's mind had become, and sat up, looking directly at the speaker. He had been sat, crossed-legged and perfectly still, for three days. His suit bore no dust, and his face seemed like gleaming porcelain. He faced a wall, smeared with all manner of violent graffiti and human discharge, but his eyes were staring, never blinking, as if he looked through a window into the city and filth beyond. Joker stood.
"I can smell him. Out there, in his city, protecting the innocent! Avenging those too weak or too young or too dead to do it themselves." There was venom on his voice, and the old man just looked on, silent. Joker had cut his tongue out last time he spoke, and the shriveled thing flopped from his breast pocket. "Even after all these years, he's so...reliable." Joker spat, the mucusy glob glistening in the low gleam. The spinning light of the zoetrope played across his face like hellfire licking at cave walls. He smiled. "Karl, darling...I miss the old game. He's grown old and withered and complacent. Boo-hoo-hoo! If he knew what I did, if he could sniff out all the little worms and bugs like I can...aaah. But that's why he needs me."
Karl the Hobo looked on in silence. Joker tutted, and bent down beside him, deftly taking the tongue from his breast pocket in one hand and sliding a short paring knife out of his sleeve and into the palm of his other. Karl didn't try to scurry away, or avoid what was coming. He knew. He had known for days. Joker gently slid the blade of the knife in between Karl's lips, letting it clack against his teeth as he nudged open the old man's jaw. "You know, Karl the Hobo...I feel like we've really connected on this little winter getaway of ours...and I feel like it might be valuable-" Joker roughly stuffed the tongue back into Karl's mouth, ignoring his gags and moaned protest as he held Karl's jaw fast in his hands - "if I got some feedback from my most trusted confidant." Joker hacked, making a sound that could be mistaken for a dry chuckle, and then, knife still grasped, began to move Karl's mouth for him, Joker's own voice distorted and semi-masked.
"Well gee boss, that sounds swell! I'm sure Bats is missing you too. Even I know Gotham hasn't been the same without you!"
Joker coughed again and then pushed Karl aside, the tongue tumbling out of his mouth and making a wet slap against the ground as Karl gagged and dry-heaved, quiet sobs beginning to emanate from the worn-down old man. Joker stood and hummed quietly, seeming to think something over in brain, tossing ideas around from one side to the other. "Aah, I must admit, I have lost my muse for grand schemes in my twilight years..." Joker rounded on Karl, the paring knife twirling in his left hand as his right reached inside his jacket and returned wielding a razor, "but that doesn't mean i'm completely out of good ideas."
There were no screams; but deep below Wayne Tower, in old abandoned storm drains, terrible laughter echoed.
November 18th, 2017 |
B R E A K I N G N E W S O N G C N -A NIGHTMARE RETURNS?
CITY UNDER THREAT? LEADERS IN DANGER? CITIZENS IN PERIL? MANY FEARS FOUND AFTER CORPSE WITH CRYPTIC MESSAGE LEFT IN CHILDREN'S PLAYGROUND.
A CONCERNED PARENT'S REPORT TURNS TO WIDE-SCALE SPECULATION AS BODY OF UNIDENTIFIED VAGRANT FOUND IN A CHILDREN'S PLAYPARK IN RESIDENTIAL AREA NEAR GOTHAM CITY CENTER.
On what was expected by GCPD officers to be a routine call-out to rouse a drunk vagrant, was revealed to be a far more chilling and complex case, as the man was found dead with extensive scarring across his chest and back, seemingly inviting all manner of criminal elements to join a so-called 'Carnivale Macabre', in what many fear to be just the first of what could develop into a series of crimes designed to strike fear into the heart of Gotham's citizens. We go now to Jack Ryder, our man at the scene...