Post by Admin on Sept 8, 2017 15:04:12 GMT -5
Issue #7: “Toxin”
Story by Mark Sant
Edited by Mark Bowers
Issue #7: “Toxin”
Story by Mark Sant
Edited by Mark Bowers
Bruce Wayne is gonna die.
Gordon’s chem-lab is going through the multitude of chemicals recovered from Dr. Jonathan Crane’s condo of horrors, trying to match it with whatever is in Bruce’s blood, but so far they’ve found nothing of an antidote.
Wayne’s gonna die Wayne’s gonna
So Gordon, Allen and I are on the move. Our only lead’s the scene of the crime. Bruce’s office at Wayne Enterprises on Finger Street. Right now, Gordon figures the toxin was administered through the coffee Bruce was seen drinking on surveillance. If we find that coffee cup, maybe the residue could give the doctors some clue.
Getting off the elevator on the top floor, Jimbo and Allen lead. We pass executive offices. Mahogany doors and gold plating. Rich people. As we approach the grandest of these doors, the only thing we can hear beyond them is crying.
Corrie Desjardin weeps at her desk in the reception outside Wayne’s office. Cries for Bruce as she’s consoled by a man with white hair in an expensive suit who leans over the half-wall in front of her desk. Seeming grave. As grave as you can look with a coffee cup that depicts Yosemite Sam. Gordon and Allen shake his hand with familiarity, and Jim introduces me.
“Harvey, this is William Earle. CEO of the company.”
I shake Earle’s hand.
“You run Wayne Enterprises, Mr. Earle?”
“I do, Mr. Dent. Well, so much as Mr. Wayne allows me – majority shareholder and all.” Earle quips, remaining aggrieved. He’s asking us, “What brings you by, gentlemen? I’ve… I’ve heard that Mr. Wayne is still not… well.”
“No he’s not,” Jim answers, “and we have reason to suspect that a man named Jonathan Crane might be responsible.”
“Crane? Oh yes… In WayneTech, isn’t that right? I’d heard about him.”
“What’d you hear?”
“Only from… emails. I, of course, never met the man. And I didn’t like what I heard. His… experiments. What use could weaponized fear ever serve, eh?”
That’s a funny thing to say
It’s the inflection in Earle’s voice when Crane is brought up. The way it sounds like he’s putting up a front where he barely remembers a scientist in his employ who tortured test patients and evidently caused the death of a junkie in his bathtub.
“We need to look around,” Allen says.
And Earle insists, “Proceed, detectives,” but Jimbo isn’t convinced.
Jim’s asking Earle, “Where were you yesterday?”
“In Chicago. I flew in last night when I heard about all of this.”
Liar. Murderer. You hired Crane, you slime
There’s no proof of that.
You don’t need proof, you got gut
You got a gut feelin’, Harvey
Get the ax
I clench my teeth and tell the face to shut up.
Jimbo continues questioning William Earle.
“I read up on you,” Jim says. “I read up on this company a lot since yesterday. I remember reading something about you trying to cut a deal with the military, Mr. Earle. Something about chemical weaponry developed by WayneTech… Utilizing their pharmaceutical division for under-the-table projects…”
Earle blinks but stays pretty solid.
Nothing is said by him, and Jimbo’s patient to wait.
Allen turns to the assistant behind the half-wall, hearing Corrie blow her nose with a tissue before she wipes her tears. Allen asks Corrie whether Wayne’s office is locked and Corrie sobs and nods and says she can open it. And Earle watches her do it, I notice. And he isn’t listening to Jimbo and has to ask him to repeat his latest question.
All I do is listen, and judge. Hearing the other side.
Earle’s guilty. You know he did it
Our friend, Harvey. Bruce is our friend
Lousy rich asshat
Kill this slime!
No. What’s he done…? There’s no proof.
There’s gut, you idiot
…Earle is second-in-command with Bruce in the picture.
Do it, you piss-ant!
…There’s motive, but… That isn’t law. That isn’t order.
There has to be a trial.
Bash his brains in, you pathetic worm!
I eye the heavy crystal vase on the half-wall in front of Corrie’s desk.
Kill him now!
Bash his brains in!
My left hand reaches for the vase.
Do it do it do it do it do it
I cringe. I seize my head and stumble to the support of the half-wall. I close my eyes and I see the mirror so angry, howling, bursting into flames. I hunch over and howl like the face. Gordon runs to my side, telling Allen, “Never mind, never mind. Check the office and find the cup. We don’t have much time.”
“Harvey?” Jimbo begs. “Harvey, you alright?”
“I’m fine,” I tell him. Regaining myself. “Just… felt pain.”
Earle is frowning, telling Corrie to fetch me water and she’s palming alarmed, wetted eyes and scurrying off dutifully, and Jimbo helps me stand and I tell him, “I’m fine.” I promise them I’m alright. “We gotta search the office. There isn’t any time.”
So Gordon and Allen hurry into the office to find Wayne’s coffee cup.
Corrie, I see, still wet from her tears but sniffling a little less, is returning with a pitcher of water for everyone. She pours a glass for me and for Allen, who thanks her and glugs, and she pours another and sets it down for Gordon who’s busy unscrewing the vent-plate in Wayne’s office with his pocketknife, seemingly thinking the toxin may have been administered via the air duct. And Corrie pours one for herself, weakly wiping her nose on her forearm. She laps quietly her water to calm herself down. But she can’t stay calm. The phone rings so she runs to her desk to answer it.
I just pant like a madman, looking at Earle, who sweats as Jimbo asks him about Jonathan Crane and weaponized terror. Asks him about an unidentifiable poison that’s about to kill Bruce Wayne. Rumours and corruption, blood of this city.
I can feel the drying scab of my thigh where I scratched the hell out of it, talking to Quinzel yesterday. I can feel the ache of stiff stressed joints and the sandbag eyelids of a sleepless night and too many thoughts. Too many details. Clock is ticking. Bruce in the balance. Bruce is gonna die, damn it.
Get mad, Harvey
Get mad at this slimy wasp
Get an ax
I drink a sip of water.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Mr. Earle mutters to me or to himself. Shaking his head. Sounding strained. Telling me, “Doesn’t make any sense, these people.”
I set my water-glass down on the half-wall in front of Corrie’s desk. I struggle to stand up straight, swiping my hand down my tingling bloodied thigh, asking Earle, “What doesn’t make sense?”
“These people. The Harvest,” Earle says. “This all started with that YouTube video.”
“Right,” Corrie says before she sips her water.
Earle tells us, “The terrorists. They said they were doing this for the people in Colorado who died in a WayneTech chemical plant explosion. Five hundred people, they said. That’s what this is all about.”
“I heard about that,” I say. Queasy. “…What’s strange about it?”
“Well… I mean, five hundred people were present during the explosion, but only two of ‘em died. A few others received minimal injuries. The explosion occurred away from the plant, at a fuel tank alone in the forest. Out in the woods. I mean, the only damage was to… was…”
Earle drops his Yosemite Sam coffee mug.
Seizing up, choking, struggling to breathe.
I’m shouting, “Call 911.” Looking to Corrie Desjardin who’s come to the front of her desk beside me. I’m telling her we need an ambulance. But Corrie just finishes her glass of water. It doesn’t look like she’s so sad anymore. She doesn’t grieve for Bruce Wayne anymore and she doesn’t grieve for William Earle, who’s choking and dying. And after she reaches into her purse and produces a 9mm automatic, I get the feeling we finally found something we missed.
“The real victim-” Corrie finishes on behalf of Earle, “-was earth.”
Earle collapses to the floor, clutching his chest, eyes bulging, gasping for air.
Gordon and Allen appear in the doorway of Wayne’s office and she aims the gun at me and tells them to put their hands up. Then she tells Jim he’d better drink his water while it’s still nice and cool.
“What? Corrie, what are you doing?”
“Drink the water, Gordon. I don't like guns. I don't like bombs either, but they get people’s attention.” I’m sick. I’m poisoned. I notice Crispus Allen looks much worse and he can’t keep his hands over his head. He’s hunching, struggling over his every breath. He drank the entire glass she gave him. Corrie tells Gordon, “Drink your water, detective.”
“What the hell are you doing, Corrie?”
“That’s not actually my name,” the redhead tells Gordon. “Coriander Desjardin was a suitable alias. I've gone by many on my missions around the world. When we killed a beef magnate destroying rainforests in Brazil I was Lily Bloem. When we killed an oil tycoon who'd irreversibly murdered thousands of miles of coral reef, I was May Greene. Just names. But names help… A symbol helps… I learnt that from the Bat of Gotham.”
I’m sick. I’m poisoned.
Earle and Allen and I are poisoned.
The redhead holds her gun on Jim.
“That’s why I finally gave my little group a proper name for the world to fear. We are The Harvest, detective. I will harvest every man who harms this planet and the only species decent enough to live in peace upon it.”
Gordon gapes. “…Oh my god.”
Jim knows it. I know it too. Allen and Earle probably have figured it out too, as they slip speedily toward agonizing doom. We know exactly who this woman is because she’s world-famous. And it’s immediately clear to me the web she’s woven or, more accurately, the seeds she’s sown.
Jonathan Crane and William Earle, whatever crap they were dealing together, they had nothing to do with the poisoning of Bruce Wayne. This was only ever about The Harvest and the crimes they accused Wayne of committing. This was about her. Their infamous leader. The daughter of Mother Earth.
Pamela Isley. The world’s foremost eco-terrorist.
Allen collapses to the floor. I gurgle and feel dizzy. It’s hard to breathe. My heart’s beating too fast. I can't move, can't speak, can’t breathe very well. I'm losing my vision and everything is a comic-book blur. This is death.
Pamela Isley’s telling us, “I had to give you boys a bigger dosage. You stormed in here right after I’d gotten Mr. Earle his very special coffee. After that, I would have completed my vengeance against Wayne Enterprises and stolen away so easily, with that Crane lunatic taking up all your attention… But you silly men had to complicate things.”
I hear Jimbo pleading with her as I die.
"Let me get them help! Please!”
"No." Isley cocks the 9mm aimed at Jim. "Drink your water, detective."
“Why? Why would you do this?”
“Because it’s in my blood.”
That’s what she says. I hear her as the poison seeps into my brain and kills me, like it kills Earle and Allen. And Wayne. Like it’s killed many men before us. Before she called her group The Harvest, Isley was famous for murdering many poor saps in the name of all things green.
Poison. Every last one was always done in by poison.
“I've loved poison since I was a girl,” the redheaded beauty tells Gordon. “I was fascinated by it after my mother forced me to help her poison my father. Since then, I've studied it. I've experimented… When I was fourteen I tried to kill myself with ammonia. I didn’t take enough. So I tried again, with a little more. A little more. When it didn't work, I tried other toxins. Anything I could get my hands on. Just little bits, here and there. But regardless of how much death I injected, my body just wouldn’t die…”
I can’t see straight. I can only barely listen.
Always aware of the face and the mirror, blowing like a neutron bomb.
“I attended Johns Hopkins to study the effects of poison, all the while injecting newer and newer poisons into my system,” Isley says. “I grew to love plants for the various toxins and pheromones they could concoct. The things these simple magnificent organisms could do… These innocent helpless beings, doing what little they could to stay alive. All I could think was… I am them… I am a flower. And I suddenly realized why it was I wouldn’t die… I was chosen by the earth."
I’m dying. Listening to an absolute psycho.
I hear Jim tell her: “Put down the gun and let me call an ambulance! We never done you wrong, Isley! You know that! We haven’t done anything! Please, let me call!”
"I can't stop now, detective,” Isley tells Gordon. “I've done too much good to be caught now. Five missions, twelve evil men poisoned for their atrocities against Mother Earth. Bruce Wayne and William Earle decimated that forest in Colorado with chemicals that will prevent any vegetation growing there ever again. Wayne Enterprises owns companies that pollute the air, water and earth. Companies that raze trees and obliterate miles of natural landscape to build Wal-Marts and condos. When I poured us each a glass of champagne to celebrate his purchase of a timber mill in Costa Rica, I smiled as Wayne drank the whole glass. I watched… perfectly immune to my perfect poison. Drinking that champagne in triumph."
Crazy, Harvey. The bitch is absolutely crazy
Get the ax
I’m blacking out.
The other side bashes fists against the mirror in the dark.
Jimbo gawks at the psychotic flowerchild.
“Time’s up, Mr. Gordon, and I really have to run. If you won't drink your cool nurturing water, then I'm afraid I have to use this loud nasty thing… I really do hate guns, you know."
Oh I’m angry. Listening in the blackness.
Listening to Isley disengage the safety switch.
Looking in a fiery mirror.
Hearing Jimbo growl, fearless, “Pull the trigger, sweetheart."
So Isley does. But not before I see the face in the blackness screaming out, taking over. And I feel strong. I feel alive. I've hurled myself and grabbed her legs to bring her down and the gunshot embeds into the wall. Isley has fallen and I hear Jimbo scrambling toward us, unholstering his pistol, but I'm on Isley who shrieks in anger and I like it. I'm struggling against the miserable brew in my bloodstream and crawling onto the witch. When she brings up her gun to slay me, I bat it away like a drunkard and it flies and I seize the sick twisted gardener by her pretty throat and I can’t see straight but
I'm gonna kill I swear to god I'm gonna kill you
I’m gonna burn your flowers, honey
I’m gonna kill your flowers now
Every flower you’ll ever love
Smile for me
I’m gonna kill kill kill kill kill kill
“Harvey! For god’s sake stop! Harvey! We need her! You’re gonna die!”
The anger thins at the sound of Gordon shouting and I’m me again and the poison reclaims my mind and I’m dying. I look down on the woman I’ve strangled unconscious and I quickly go limp as my heart beats and fails and I’m dying. Jim’s on me thrusting his hands onto my chest, I think. I think it’s CPR. I hope.
I hope I live.
Grace. Grace and the twins she carries.
I’m going to be a father.
I hope I live. My family needs me. My city needs me. My brother.
I don’t know what happens now.
Everything is black.
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