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Ghosts
The Last Days
SCREAMING TOMB - TALES FROM THE GRAVE
Tuesday, 31 May 2005
Broken Bat (The Prequel)
Topic: The Last Days
Chaos rules Gotham.

The Batman is caught off-guard by the appearance of walking rotting corpses. The citizens of Gotham city became victims one by one to the living dead while the Batman tries to stem the violence and gore that is happening in his city. The Batman throws everything he has to try to save the people of Gotham but the living dead is unstoppable. Worse, their victims soon rises up and join their ranks which makes it very hard for the Batman and Gotham's police force to keep up. Realizing he is outnumbered the Batman retreats to the Batcave to try to find a solution to this problem. On the way there, he talked with Commissioner Gordon where Jim informed him that half of the city's police force have been taken down by the living dead. The Batman then called Robin and instructed the Boy Wonder to take extreme caution in dealing with these creatures. He also alerted the Justice League and is surprised to hear from J'onn that this event is worldwide.

Donning his civilian identity, Bruce Wayne contacted his top research scientist, Dr. Ellen Bowle and get her to work in finding out the cause of this problem. Bruce learned that Wayne Laboratories was attacked by the living dead early on which gave him the impression that his own research facilities might be conducting experiments without his knowledge. At the same time he has been suspicious of some of Dr. Bowle's activities for quite some time. After giving instructions, Bruce transforms into the Dark Knight and heads off to Wayne Laboratories.

He found Wayne Laboratories littered with dead bodies but no living dead in sight. The Batman enter through a secret passage and went down the level where Dr. Bowle's and the rest of the scientists are having a discussion. The Batman listens for information of treachery, but it seems his scientists are also at a lost. After a few minutes, Bruce is convinced that his scientists did not cause this event. While working his way up he received a horrific message from Tim. Hordes of the living dead have just attacked Gotham's police station and annihilated the whole police force including Commissioner Jim Gordon. The Batman instructed Tim to stay away from the creatures and wait for him to come.

Bruce now realizes the situation has stretched beyond his control. He activates his communicator and sent a distress call to his superpowered allies. But for some reason, his call was not answered. Curious and fearing for the worst, he returned to the Batcave and retrieved a shiny circular device. The device is a standard justice league teleporter which Bruce now uses to teleport himself to the Justice League watch tower. However upon arriving, the Batman realizes nobody is there. He moved to the controls to activate the monitor and is shocked to learn the fate of his comrades. Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, Supergirl, Superboy, Flash... all eaten by the living dead.

As impossible as it may seem, the living dead were able to defeat the world's most powerful metahumans. How they did it defies explanation. But where is Superman? Where is Captain Marvel? He hasten to activate the Justice League locator to determine the location of the two supermen.

The device locates Superman's position in his Fortress of Solitude. Captain Marvel is nowhere. Bruce wonders why Superman is in the north pole when the whole world is in chaos. It doesn't add up, Bruce thinks. Something may have happened to Superman or he would've been fighting alongside his team mates. Suddenly his emergency communicator lights up. Someone is calling him.

It's Tim, Robin.

Bruce picks up the communicator where Robin informed him that the living dead has massacred 90% of Gotham's population, and those victims have already risen up to join the living dead. This happened in only 10 hours. Bruce uses the JLA communications array to call Dr. Bowle to update him of her progress. Ellen, informed him that they've dissected one of the corpse and discovered substantial information about the living dead. But the signal between them is deteriorating that Bruce tells her to continue her research and that he will join her shortly.

Teleporting to the Batcave, Tim called again. This time there's panic in his voice and the moans of the living dead are heard from the background. Before Bruce can respond, communication has been severed. The Batman struggles to establish the link but nothing happened. The communicator must have been dropped and damaged. He hopes that Tim managed to escape his predicament.

Dr. Bowle is surprised when the Batman appeared in their laboratory telling her to update him of the information she has discovered. Before she can react, the Batman removed his mask and revealed to the people in the room that the Batman is no other than their boss, Bruce Wayne. Bruce told them it's no use hiding behind the mask anymore and they need to work together if the world is to have a chance. Dr. Bowle showed Bruce what they discovered. A unknown virus has inhabited the bodies of these people which mutates their DNA. The mutation kills the person but is later revived when the mutation is complete. The reanimated person becomes a living dead which slows decomposition, loses its own personality and is driven only by a primal instinct to feed. Dr. Bowle goes on by saying the living dead is also quite capable of killing metahumans. She found properties in its saliva which could neutralize the shielding properties of a metahuman. A skin sample from superpowered metahumans such as the Martian Manhunter became vulnerable when applied with infected saliva. Bruce told her the fate of the justice league and that only him, Robin and Nightwing are the only members who are still active, though he is not so sure about Nightwing's whereabouts. Dr. Bowle showed her another revelation. The virus has Kryptonian properties.

Just then a menacing laugh was heard on the next room where the rest of the scientists were working on the specimens, then followed by gunshots. Bruce donned the mask then kicked the door open and found the Joker holding a smoking gun.

The scientists are dead.

The Joker aimed the gun at the Batman and tells him how marvelous it is that the world is ending just the same as the Batman. Then the Joker shot at the Batman. The Batman whirls in the air avoiding the bullets that the Joker has just dispatched. Upon landing the Batman threw a batarang, disabling the Joker's hand and dropping his gun. Batman followed with a tremendous combination of punches and kicks which ends with the Joker falling on one of the specimens that are tied up in the examination table. Before the Joker could get up, the corpse opened up its eyes and bit a large chunk of flesh from the Joker's arm. Blood spurted out as the Joker struggles to move away from the corpse all the while cursing it. When he turned his attention to the Batman, he found Bruce holding a large batarang aimed at his throat. The Joker laughs and tells him, he doesn't have the balls to do it. If he has, he would've done it long ago. The Batman responded that this time it is different. You are infected, the Batman tells him then he hurls his batarang. In a second, the Joker's body is slumped to the ground, decapitated.

Bruce turned towards the other room and is surprised when he saw Dr. Bowle on the floor, bleeding. The doctor was hit by a stray bullet that went through her chest. She is dying. However, Ellen clutched Bruce's cape and tells him a bit of a good news. The scientists has discovered something from the walking corpses. The living dead is attracted by the smell of living people but the living dead do not attack each other because they emit a pheromone that only they can detect. That pheromone has been contained by Dr. Ellen in the lab. If it can be replicated, it could be used as a deterrent or a weapon. She urged Bruce to continue the research, then she closed her eyes and died.

Bruce slumped to the floor. So much has happened in the last 12 hours. These walking corpses has taken everything the Batman has worked for all these years and for a moment, the Batman felt helpless and very alone. But Bruce knows he cannot allow these emotions to drag him down. There is a lot of work to do. So the Batman set down on it.

6 months have passed.

Gotham City is a dead city. Decaying corpses walked the shabby streets. Dried blood from earlier victims painted the sidewalks. From the corner of a dark street, a child around 9 years old have strayed away from his hiding place. The child is thin and malnourished due to lack of food and water. His eyes are fixed on the old grocery store at the other end of the street. He has been there before, got most of the things he needed, but hunger pains made him come back and see if there is any food left to scrounge up. The corpses are walking very slowly today and are paced a bit farther apart. He thinks he can make it to the other end before they could give chase. So he bent his knee, gathered his remaining energy... then off he goes!

He streaked past the corpses and zigzagged beween four corpses who starts to give chase. He would've make it if he hadn't slipped and fell down hard on his face. By this time, scores of living dead have surrounded him and there is no way out. No hope for him unless...

A black metallic thing boomerangs in the air and decapitates three corpses. Then a shadowy figure with a large cape descended from above and began beating the hell out of these corpses. The Batman has finally returned to the streets. The corpses should be seeing a big batty lunch, but they don't seem to be interested in Bruce. Instead, most of them are going away from him.

It worked! Bruce thought. He has improved the pheromone that Dr. Bowle extracted from the specimens and injected it to his body. The good doctor was right. The pheromone could be used as a deterrent or a weapon. Unfortunately, he has used the last of Wayne Lab's resources for this one. No way he can make another.

He got the kid back to his hiding place. It's an underground basement where 20 people have called it home. Bruce thinks, there might be others like them in other parts of the city. So it became a mission now for the Batman to find survivors of the undead plague and help them as much as he can. The pheromone that he injected in his body will stay with him as long as he lives and that is a big advantage in fighting the living dead.

In Gotham city, there are a million walking corpses. But there is also a Batman to protect those who survived, no matter how great the odds.

Posted by Francis Allan M. Barangan at 1:29 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005 5:45 AM EDT
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