I sit alone in my cell at Arkham Asylum. The soft yellow glow of light bulbs beam across me, illuminating my new homesterile and empty, save for a small bed, along with a toilet and sink. The extent of my possessions consists of toiletries and the stiff, thin blankets on my bed; I am not allowed the luxury of owning a book, a journal, or even a newspaper. It has been months since I have slid my finger across a piece of paper, months since I have devoured a word.
I leave my cell only to bathe. The guards watch me as I stand underneath the shower head, my body naked and exposed before them. I rinse the cheap soap off my skin as quickly as possible, my hair matted to my forehead. Sometimes I can hear them laughing quietly, snickering amongst themselves. To them, I was once Dr. Jonathan Crane, head psychiatrist at Arkham. Now they know me as Jonathan Crane, Patient Number #7942. They consider my transition from an office to a cell to be a decline, a fall from grace.
I consider it a rebirth.
They enjoy the new power they have over me. No longer do they have to answer to Dr. Crane; now I am the one who must obey them. I was taught within my first week as an inmate that disobedience is met with a crack in the jaw or a black eye, depending on the guard's mood. Once, I made the mistake of making a snide comment and was rewarded with a punch to the gut--I have learned to be silent. Normally, such behavior would be thoroughly investigated by the institution; however, the asylum staff is willing to ignore my bruises.
The doctors consider my evolution to be a betrayal. I've made them look bad. Even worse, I've made them look stupid. The papers and the tabloids mock them, questioning how a group comprised of Gotham's most intelligent minds failed to notice that they were working alongside Scarecrow. I've destroyed their illusion of brilliance, proven their fallibility. No longer will they be able to feel elite among the insane, not while one of their own sits in a cell. And for that, they will never, ever forgive me.
My therapy sessions consist of unapologetic prying. What was my childhood like? Was I ever abused? Do I love my mother? Have I ever had a girlfriend? At what point did I decide to become Scarecrow? Have I ever killed anyone? Each question is asked with the same greedy expression. They'd love to to be the one to make a "breakthrough". They'd love to be the one to make me break down into sobs as I confess to everything, overwhelmed with guilt and regret. And they'd love to pour each and every word into a bookmaking sure to add their own thoughts and embellishments when necessary. To them, I am a potential best seller, a stepping stone in their career. They may hate me, but that doesn't mean they don't want to exploit me.
I answer each question with silence.
They tell me that if I don't cooperate with them, that if I don't show any signs of improvement, then my privileges will continue to be restricted. I will continue to be held in isolation, separated from the other inmates. I will continue to sit in my cell for twenty two hours each day, and my only view of the world outside my room will continue to be my walk to the showers and the interview rooms, and the glimpse of light as my meals are slid through my door.
If I start talking, maybe they'll let me use the inmate's library. Maybe they'll let me visit the institution's recreation room, and I can watch the fuzzy static on the television as I sit on a lumpy couch that smells of bleach. And if I'm really good, if I say what they want to hear, maybe they'll let me go outside, and I can shuffle around the gated area in my shackles as the snipers watch me from their posts with sweaty, twitching fingers.
They tell me they just want to help me. All I have to do is talk.
I've yet to say a word.
They think leaving me in this cell is punishment. They are wrong.
I do not rot in here. I flourish. This room has become my shelter. Here, I am free from the distractions of the world, from the annoyances of others, from every-day responsibilities.
Here, I have plenty of time to think. I can be alone with my thoughts. I have no need for pen and paper; my mind files away each idea, putting it aside for further dissection and potential future use.
And I have so very much to think about.
For a while, I was content to remain in this cell. I dealt with the abuse, and I dealt with the questions. I endured them for as long as it took to gather my thoughts and compile them into plans. Plans for shelter, plans for gathering materials, plans for funds. Plans for revenge.
I do intend to escape. I have already begun the necessary steps towards regaining my freedom. In Arkham Asylum, almost everyone can be bought. There are few exceptions. I have yet to meet one.
I was content here because I knew the outcome of my stay. I accepted each bruise because I knew it would be repaid. I allowed each question because I knew the mind behind it would be destroyed.
For now, I am a prisoner.
But soon, I will bring fear to Gotham again.
I smile. Perhaps I'll begin by infecting Batman. Destroy the city by destroying its hero.
The top slot of my door opens, and I see the dark, beady eyes of a security guard.
"Up against the wall, Crane. It's time for your shower. You know the procedure."
I nod, rising from the floor. The vial tastes metallic in my mouth, cold against my tongue.
Yes, I'll be sure to meet the with The Bat very soon.
But for now, first things first.