The air around him was stone cold. He could see his breath right in front of him, fading into the dark shadows. The bats liked the cold. It helped them move easier around the cave. Allowed them to spread their wings and enjoy the cold air flying into their face. The bats hung upside down from the top of the cave. Their wings wrapped around their bodies. The cold also relaxed them. Helped them to sleep better. But they couldn’t sleep.
The distant sounds came from above them. The sound of clanks turning, gears moving and steel creaking. The elevator stopped on the ground. The bats spread their wings and stared ahead. Their eyes widened as the doors to the elevator opened. They began to screech. A figure stood inside the elevator, his face hidden in shadows. The bats flew away from the top of the cave and fluttered their wings. They danced around the cave, spinning round and round in circles and squares. They were happy. Their master had come home.
Bruce Wayne stepped out of the elevator and entered the cave. His fists were clenched. He was ready for work. The bats flew around his head. As if they were leading him to his destination. The Batcave. As Bruce neared the gear and technology, beaming and intense lights automatically burst to life, illuminating the cave and showcasing everything it had to offer.
Bright computer screens, connected to monitors and twisted wires. A gigantic walkway, lifted into the air by huge, steel columns. Elongated, dazzling waterfalls flowing down into an endless abyss. A ten-metre aircraft parked higher than anything else, glistening against the waterfall. The Batwing. Bruce Wayne’s pride and joy.
Bruce ascended up a flight of stairs. The bats still frantically flew around his head, like a swarm of excited reporters eager to catch a view of the technology in front of them. Wayne stopped at what was quite possibly the most advanced object in the entire cave. The Batcomputer. With up to fifteen screens – small and large – highlighting every point in Gotham City, the Batcomputer was the most useful technological hub in not just the city, but the entire world. Bruce activated one of the bigger screens on the computer. It switched to a news report on live television. A reporter stood in front of the Gotham skyline, wrapped up in the warmest and thickest clothing she could buy, to stay protected from the wild wind and thick flakes of snow falling from the sky.
“Police and emergency services are encouraging Gotham residents to stay off the roads and in their homes tonight, in spite of the severe winter storm warning.”
Wayne switched the channel. Another news report. But he recognised this one. Stood beside Vicki Vale, a lovely reporter for the Gotham Gazette, was he himself, Bruce Wayne. With beautiful short, blonde hair and a smile that would fill your heart with happiness, Bruce regretted being so uncharitable with her.
“No man is an island, Bruce. Come on, you’ve been back for almost two years now. Our fellow Gothamites want to know why you haven’t gotten yourself a lady of two. You can’t expect us to believe that Gotham’s most eligible bachelor is spending another Christmas alone.”
Bruce was dreading what was coming next. His response was unpleasant and extremely inconsiderate.
“You just ran out of time...”
Bruce watched as his past-self pushed the microphone Vicki was holding away and marched away from her, out of the camera’s view. He looked away from the screen. He wouldn’t dare look at Vicki’s face after he said that. He switched the channel again. Commissioner Gillian Loeb was on screen, standing up to a podium, looking down at reporters and journalists. It was regarding Gotham’s most wanted criminal: Julian Gregory Day AKA Calendar Man.
“...Knowing that tonight, we put to rest one of Gotham’s most heinous and relentless killers - Julian Gregory Day.”
Bruce flinched even at the name. The Calendar Man was one of the first criminals he actually put in jail. At the start of his career, Bruce had to witness a whole building full of important city officials be blown to pieces. Each official had a family, who had to endure the pain of losing their loved ones. Wayne remembered almost killing Day when he got his hands on him. If the GCPD hadn’t arrived, Bruce didn’t know where he’d be right now. He was glad they were putting him away for good. A reporter stepped up, holding a microphone up to the podium.
“Commissioner Loeb! Commissioner Loeb! Do you have any comment on the rumour that it wasn’t actually the GCPD that captured Mr Day?”
Loeb hesitated. Bruce could see it. However, a GCPD Officer stepped in front of the Commissioner. Wayne recognised him as Captain James Gordon, one of the only honest cops in the GCPD. He wished Gordon was fonder of his “night-time antics”, he could be a valuable ally. Together, they could clear the GCPD of corruption.
“Excuse me, Commissioner Loeb. I can tell you right now, that the GCPD is one-hundred per cent responsible for the capturing and imprisonment of Day. And for those of you who believe all this “bat-nonsense”, I have one thing to say to you. There is no such thing as a ‘Bat-Man’!”
Lies. It was Bruce who captured him. Gordon and the GCPD know that very well. They were there when he hung Day upside down. They were there when he held Day by the throat and forced him to confess the code for the bomb he set up. Gordon even took a shot at him.
“Captain Gordon! Captain Gordon-“
The reporters were desperate for more answers. Is the Batman real? What will happen after Day is killed? Is Gordon lying? Commissioner Loeb wasn’t going to give any answers.
“No further questions! No further questions!”
Behind Bruce, a tall, lanky man approached the Computer. With greying hair, visible wrinkles and a neat tuxedo, it was obvious this way Bruce Wayne’s butler. Alfred Pennyworth held a dinner plate in his hand, a lid on top to conceal the heat. He lay the plate on the dashboard beside Bruce, next to the small portrait of Thomas and Martha Wayne, plus young Bruce between them. The proceeded to take the lid off, revealing a smoking-hot steak, with potatoes and steam-cooked carrots and broccoli. The perfect meal for a working man. But Bruce ignored the meal and Alfred. He was busy listening in on the police broadcast. There was an alert.
“All units, all units, code ten at Blackgate Prison. Communication is down. Possible 2-11.”
Another police officer joined the broadcast. “Delta 6-2, en route.”
More police officers joined. They wanted to know what they were being assigned to do. “Dispatch, 5-9. Confirm code 10 – this is a breakout?”
The original voice returned. “Suspect identified as Black Mask. Repeat: code 10 suspect is Black Mask. Commissioner Loeb is being held captive. Repeat: Commissioner Loeb is 701.”
Bruce turned away from the Computer and advanced to the Bat-Suit Chamber beside the Batcomputer. Placing his hand on the control pad, the Chamber rose from under the ground and stopped on-level with Bruce. Inside was the Bat-Suit.
The Bat-Suit. The main item that transformed Bruce Wayne into the vigilante Batman. Batman’s slick black cowl, with two pointed ears protruding upwards (just like a bat) had only his mouth and chin visible, in order to assure to good people of Gotham that he was human. Crafted to conceal his identity, the cowl was also useful when protecting Bruce’s skull, thanks to the reinforced armour. The suit itself was a dark shade a grey, with multiple armoured plates giving it a ‘home-made’ feel. The Bat-Symbol on the torso aced as not just as an iconic warning, but is designed to draw gunfire at it. The chest was the suit’s strongest point. Past the torso, a Utility Belt was strapped across Wayne’s waist, hosting compact devices needed for his war against crime. Everything from Batarangs, to explosive gel, to smoke pellets was fitted into the Belt. Giant, armoured gauntlets on his hands and feet helped Bruce take down his foes with ease. Finally, to top it all off, a billowing, black cape hung from his shoulders to the floor. Used in combat and to glide across the city, like the bat he took inspiration from.
Bruce could see his reflection in the glass before it slid to the side. With nothing stopping him, Bruce could finally suit up. In a matter of minutes, the young, charming billionaire Bruce Wayne changed into the dark, intimidating Dark Knight, Batman. Turning to the Batwing, Batman tapped a few buttons on his gauntlet. The Batwing sprung to life, lifting off the ground and hovering in the air. As Batman neared the cock-pit, Alfred called out to him.
“You do realise it is Christmas Eve, Sir?” Alfred shouted over the roaring engine to the aircraft. But no answer came from Batman.
The seat lowered down from the aircraft, stopping inches from the ground. Batman climbed into the seat and allowed it to carry him into the cock-pit. Holographic control panels and screens appeared in front of the Dark Knight, as he swivelled around and faced to the vast waterfall. With a burst of speed, the Batwing zoomed through the waterfall and exited the Batcave.