Night falls on Gotham with the quietness of a commando strike team, subtly changing the already dark architecture to a deeper shade of foreboding. Eventually, everything runs from Gotham, even the sun. The city does not lend itself well to brightness. The dark history of the city casts its pall over the moods of all who inhabit it. The lawmakers like to joke that you can tell the intelligence of the people on the streets by the number of times they look over their shoulder. They say it with a humor they don’t feel. The truth of their words steals the laughter from their throats. Still, life in Gotham wasn’t as bleak as it used to be. There were fewer occurrences of violent crime each year. Sgt. Harvey Bullock could often be heard, usually around a mouthful of food, taking credit for the positive trend. “Chalk it up to perseverance, boys. That, and a whole lot of bullets.” If Bullock fooled anyone with his empty words, it was only himself. Everyone else knew the real reason why the criminal element was finding it harder to sleep at night, and it didn’t have anything to do with bullets.
That reason was even now perched atop a great oak, staring through his binoculars at a caravan of police and FBI squad cars as they made their way up the winding trail to Arkham Asylum. He lowered his binoculars, hardly noticing as the first fat drops of summer rain started to fall, splashing on his cowl and rolling down the back of his cape. Such things were trivial when you possessed the razor-sharp focus and single-minded determination of Batman.
He set his jaw as he studied the line of government and local police cars through the binoculars he held in his steady hand. He counted three local patrol vehicles and four FBI, the middle vehicle being a truck transporting a federal prisoner to his new lodgings at Arkham. Two men to a patrol car and he had to guess three men to each FBI vehicle since the tinted windows barred an accurate count. Eighteen men total but Batman would not have felt comfortable if that number had been tripled. He had kept up on the diabolical career of the approaching prisoner and knew the power of that steel trap mind. The man had an uncanny grasp of the human condition, the inner workings of the mind. The brightest psychologists in the country were jealous of the knowledge packed into that bald cranium, for their lifetime of studying was only a fraction of the wealth of information this man had gleaned by instinct alone. Victor Conrad, one of the world’s foremost brain surgeons, had once stated that he was curious to see what fascinating secrets that brain could tell him but feared that to open the man’s skull would unleash the Devil himself. He was only half kidding.
Few men commanded the kind of awe, respect, and fear all at once the way that this man did but then few men, thankfully, were Hannibal Lecter.
As the caravan passed out of sight behind the tree line, Batman secured the binoculars to his belt and jumped down from the tree. Not one leaf stirred to betray his presence.