Prologue: Act I
It had been a few days since I had been 'enlightened' to this new world and truth be told, I had mixed feelings about it. Joker still set my teeth on edge whenever I saw him but I still thought it was pretty damn cool that I knew him, I just didn't like it when he hung out with Jess.
I loved her more that anything but I worried about her association with other 'fictionals', as I now knew them. I could tolerate Joker to some extent but the idea of her going to the Batman universe and being in close contact with other fiends like Scarecrow and Zsasz made me want to tear my hair out from stress and take a sledgehammer to their spines if they came close to her.
My sights were short and I didn't fully scope the capabilities or dangers of our joint universes.
It had never occurred to me that other fictional universes could be tapped into, or that more fictionals with foul intentions could bleed into our world. Slipping through the cracks to poison the lives of those they touched, myself included.
I had no idea that one of the most twisted, cruel and sadistic of all fictionals would set his sights on us and would be the one to shatter me and make me soar higher than ever.
The one whose voice makes my knees weak and makes superheroes tremble.
This is my story, and my story starts with a cup of coffee.
I was one week away from starting university and enjoying my late starts to the day. However, I had chosen to rise early today since I wanted to get some exercise in before starting my day. My coffee was warming my hands as I wandered around the house in my pyjamas, my dressing gown hung around the crook of my elbows as I sat down on the couch and watched T.V. Around me was the rush of school preparations, my mum was racing around the house getting everything ready for the day ahead. Seeing her distress, I finished my coffee and went to help her make lunch for my brother.
"Thanks Steph, what are your plans for the day?" She asked.
"Nothing much, might go for a walk but mostly boring stuff." I heard footsteps coming down the stairs. "Morning Jessie!" She groaned in response, I blinked at her.
She had her hair out, in her usual thick ringlets but there was something about her face that made me squint.
"Jess?" Dropping her books suddenly she turned and looked at me. "Are you wearing make-up?" I asked, she rolled her eyes and continued to pack her bag.
"So what? Every other girl at school does it." Mum went to help my brother get ready for school, leaving us alone.
"Is it picture day or something?"
no." She said sarcastically.
'I bet she's just PMS-ing or something.' I thought. They went off that day without a hitch; it was one of last moments of peace that I would know.
It was later that afternoon when I knew something was wrong with her. I was in my bedroom, which was next to hers, and I kicked my legs back and forth casually on my bed. In the past half-hour I had heard her exclamations of distaste coming from her room, which made me roll my eyes and sigh. Teenagers. However, when she came down stairs for dinner that evening, I realised something was off.
She was wearing a skirt.
I know it sounds really strange but I was so used to seeing her in jeans and a tee shirt day in and day out that this really made me think twice. It was when I saw the glittering pink nail polish on her fingertips that I decided to speak up.
"Jess, I couldn't help but notice your change in attire."
"So?" She snapped at me, taking another mouthful of pasta.
"Um... anything you'd like to talk about?" I asked. She rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically, making our mum frown from across the table.
"Jess, enough with the diva attitude!" She said, glaring at her. "You know we don't tolerate that kind of crap!" Jess' eyes darkened and she got up from her seat.
"I don't have to put up with this." Jess growled and stormed off, leaving her plate full and the moment sour.
I looked at our mum, who had had head in her hands.
"S-She's just being a teenager, I know I was catty at times when I was her age." I said but the words came out choked. She looked at me from the head of the table, her eyes filled with a mother's worries and doubts. Loud, angry music came from upstairs and we both sighed and went back to eating our now-cold dinner. But with my stomach now in knots, I could only eat one or two mouthfuls before dumping the rest in the bin. To ease my mum's stress, I tidied up the plates after dinner and cleaned the kitchen, allowing her to put her feet up and relax for a few moments.
"Thanks Steph, you're a good girl."
"So is Jess, but I think she's just in a bad mood. Maybe something happened amongst her friends and she doesn't want to talk about it."
"Maybe, and she doesn't freak out on a regular basis-"
" I laughed. Mum smiled and went to help my brother get ready for bed, leaving me alone in the kitchen. I went to the pantry and retrieved a bottle of red wine, pouring myself a glass and sipping it daintily. 'I should talk to her, I know she doesn't like to talk to mum about this kind of stuff but maybe it's got something to do with Joker.' I thought. After finishing my glass I said goodnight to my mum and brother and made my way up the stairs.
I slowed my pace as I reached her room, listening carefully for anything that could send alarm bells ringing, but the loud music made it near impossible. Without hesitation I reached out and knocked on her door.
"Jess, its me. Can I come in?"
" Came the sarcastic drawl of her voice. I heard the shuffling of clothes and an increase in volume; I rolled my eyes and went to my room.
The music screeched to a halt and the door was ripped open.
"What did you just say?" Jessica said from behind me. I looked at her and my eyes widened. She had gathered every piece of red and pink clothing she had and was wearing them all at once. The hallway was dark so I couldn't fully see her face.
"What crawled up your ass and died?" I said, glancing down at her legs. "Are those my boots?" She had stolen my knee-high black leather boots and she walked towards me with perfect posture. Something was very wrong, she could barely handle the smallest of heels, let alone my super-high boots.
"So what if I am? They look better on me than on your fat hooves." My heart felt like it had been torn from my chest, I walked up to her and locked my hands on my hips.
"I have had it with this attitude Jess! You're acting like all those girls you hate and you would never say something so hurtful to me." I turned on the light switch and Jess scowled at my stunned face. Her eyes were heavily coated in mascara and eye shadow and her lips were a brilliant shade of red, just like
"I think you've been spending far too much time with 'Mister Jay' and unless you change your attitude by tomorrow morning, I am not going to let you see him again." She advanced on me and pushed me hard in the chest, slamming me into the wall.
"It's your fucking problem if you don't like the new me, Joker has had nothing to do with this so keep your pissy opinions to yourself!" My head rattled as she stormed off to her room and I slumped to the floor, painful tears stung my eyes and I felt so useless. We had always had a perfect relationship and I was scared to find out what had caused this radical change in behaviour. I got to my feet and went to my room, just as I heard Jess kill the music and go to bed herself. All I wanted was to sleep today away and hope that tomorrow would be better.
But there was somebody already there. Complete in purple jacket, green hair and white cheek: the Joker.
"Evening Princess PMS." My stomach dropped and I wiped my eyes, what the hell was HE doing here?
"J-Joker?! I don't want to pussy-foot around this so I'll be blunt." I reached for the metal chair leg I had under my bed, keeping my eyes on him and his hand that went to his pocket. "What did you do to Jess?!" I hissed, advancing on him quickly with the metal rod. Joker rolled his eyes and walked over to me, as I raised the metal he seized my wrist and gave it a quick flick, which made my bones scream in agony. Dropping the metal bar quickly, I threw myself at him but he sidestepped and I landed facedown on my bed. He rolled his eyes and looked down at me.
"You simpleton, I have had nothing to do with her new choice of 'attire'." I jumped up and grabbed his coat, pushing him against my cupboards. He frowned at me but I didn't flinch.
"Oh really? She has always been sweet and kind and it's only been today that she's been acting like a complete bitch." Suddenly he grabbed my throat and spun me around so our positions were swapped, he pulled out a razor sharp blade and stuck it in my mouth. Thinking quickly, I locked my teeth on it and gripped it tightly.
"That only proves that I am innocent, for once." He laughed a little. I narrowed my eyes at him but kept my jaw locked on the blade. "If I wanted to corrupt your precious little sister, then I would over the course of a few weeks, it is a slow and delicate procedure
" He muttered, staring blankly into my eyes. I knew he was right but I continued to glare at him. Joker sighed dramatically and tightened his gip on my neck, making me squirm in discomfort. "Jess's appeal is her wacky-" I shivered, I hated that word "-nature and unique personality, why would I want her to be just another Mary Sue?" I relaxed a little and his grip around my neck became slack. "I'm going to let you go, but if you take another swing at me I'll drag you to Arkham by your fingernails and lock you in Croc's tank." He said coolly. I nodded and unlocked my jaw; he removed the blade and released his grip on my throat.
"Fine. Now what's-"
His knee collided with my abdomen, knocking the wind out of me and I slumped to the floor.
I coughed and got up, crossing my arms across my chest.
"I'm willing to take your word that you're not responsible for this, but if you didn't do it then who did?" He sat down on my desk chair and put his feet up on my desk.
"I was thinking that over Steph, while I was waiting for you, obviously this change is internal and my finger points to Scarecrow."
"I know only a little about Crane but he doesn't seem the type to change a girl's personality, and this change was really sudden." He cocked an eyebrow.
"This morning she was wearing mascara to school, tonight she's pushing me around and dressing like a prostitute."
"They're your boots apparently."
"Shut up." He laughed and got up, putting his hands in his coat pockets. "I'm gonna ask it: What are you doing here?" I asked him, he grinned and looked at me.
"I just popped by to visit, but Jess didn't want anything to do with me and kicked me out of her room." I laughed.
"Maybe this change isn't too bad." He chuckled a little, then pulled a serious face.
"Shut up Steph." I rolled my eyes but held my tongue, allowing him to continue his story.
"As I was saying
I made it over but the ride was very rough." Joker shrugged.
"Well when I appeared, I landed on my ass and nearly-" I rolled my eyes.
"No, no, not that, the trip. You said it was weird." He chuckled.
"Yes. As you know there is a passage through Jessica's brain that permits fictionals, like me, to travel to your universe." I nodded. "Well, the ride was
sticky." I looked at him, unamused.
"Would I lie to you?" He said, grinning up at me like a Cheshire cat that fell face forward into a paintbox. "Something was in that passage, trying to stop me from breaking through."
"Or someone." He chuckled.
"No shit Sherlock." I sat down on my bed and looked up at him. "I think the only reason I got through is because I'm a regular but if someone less ingenious than I were trying to get through then they wouldn't be able to, they'd get stuck inside her head and whatever is in there would do what they like with them."
"Fine, so there's someone in my sister's brain, trying to stop other fictionals from breaking into our world."
"Then what can we do?" Joker combed his hair back, grinning down at me.
"I've been thinking about that and I have concocted a clever plan."
" Joker rolled his eyes.
"I'm still not cool with this." I said as I went downstairs, Joker close behind me. Mum had gone to bed a while ago and the house was still and silent, only Joker and I were still awake.
"I don't care. Just find them." Rummaging around in the medicine cabinet, I finally found what we were looking for: sleeping pills. Mum gave one to our brother each night so he could calm down and go off to sleep without a hitch, now I was handing it over to the Joker. "You sure this will work Princess?" He was looking at the ingredients and dosage, squinting at the tiny letters in the dark.
"Of course I'm sure, one pill knocks him out within two hours. If we take two or three then we'll nod off almost instantaneously." I said, taking out two glasses and moving to the laundry.
"Good- wait- where'd you go?" I heard him say in the kitchen, I stuck my head out and he smiled as he spotted me. "What are you doing?" He said in a very bored voice.
"Looking for rope."
"No need to my dear, I always come prepared." He reached into his jacket and pulled out a length of bright, thin rope, easily concealed within a pocket.
"I'm not sure wether I should be pleased or disturbed." I said, locking my hand on my hip as I walked towards him. He laughed and wrapped the rope around his hands.
"How about both, or can't you fathom two emotions at once?" He giggled at me; I rolled my eyes and grabbed the pills and glasses.
We turned around and went back to my room, setting everything up. Joker prepared the rope and gag and I measured out the pills and filled our glasses, to an outsider it looked like a night of ill-intended debauchery but the future of a teenage girl hung in the awkward silence between us.
"You ready Joker?"
"Sure am." He grinned from cheek to cheek, obviously enjoying this far more than I was. I rolled my eyes and he threw me the rope, we kept the lights on in my bedroom but sneaked down the hallway in classic villainous fashion, as was suiting the moment. My hand curled around the door handle and I pushed it open, she was asleep, I could tell from her heavy breathing and lack of insults at my intrusion. Joker tapped me on the shoulder and motioned me to get into position; I nodded and went to the side of her bed. He did the same, I got the rope out and we looked at each other in the dark. Holding up three fingers, I kept his gaze.
Joker yelled on the top of his lungs, making me jump out of my skin and Jess come shooting out of her dream.
"What the fuck!?" Jess cried as her yes tried to adjust to the light.
"Joker! Knock her out! Quickly!" I yelled as I grabbed her arms and tried to tie her up, her sharp nails lashed out and scratched my arm as Joker leaned in with his jacket. He gave a puff of his flower but only a sick cough came out and Jess continued to struggle.
"I'm all out!" Jess' hand lashed out at my throat and squeezed it, I glared at him as I tried to get her to let go.
"Do something you idiot!" I yelled, looked down at Jess' enraged face.
"You traitorous bitch! I'll scratch you pretty eyes out!"
Jess and I looked at Joker in surprise, who was holding a dented plastic water bottle.
"Really Joker? Really?" I asked, Jess returned to throttling me and I glared at him.
"This is too funny Steph, and little girl on girl never hurt anyone." He laughed loudly and I ripped Jess' hands from my neck. Suddenly she grabbed my hair and pulled me into her, her mouth by my ear.
"Foolish little girl
" Came a voice from the back of her throat, sweeter than honey and heavy with malice. Joker brought one of her schoolbooks down on her head and Jess fell into a dead faint, he wiped his brow and sighed dramatically.
"Well that shut her up." He tied a strip of cloth over her mouth as a gag and slung her over his shoulder. "Hey Princess fat ass lets go-" Joker looked at me, he blinked. "Stephanie?" Still frozen in surprise I could barely speak.
"I-I know you
" I muttered.
I knew it
from a long time ago but I couldn't put my finger on it.
It was a one in a million voice; it was a voice that made me tremble.
"Stop daydreaming and let's go!" Joker groaned, shifting Jess and little and heading to the door.
A door opened somewhere in the house, somewhere close. Joker glanced at me in panic, then at the unconscious figure of Jess on his shoulder.
"Don't say a word." I muttered as I left Jess's room and went to see what made the noise. Moving on my tip toes I was as silent as the grave as I saw a light flick on and a familiar face, I smiled and my pounding heart slowed. "Hi Mum, what's up?" she rubbed her head and smiled at me.
"Hi Steph, I heard some noises coming from your part of the house. Is everything okay?" I nodded.
"Everything's cool, Jess and I were just mucking around in her room. Did we wake you up?" She nodded. "Sorry. Everything's fine, just go back to bed." Mum nodded and we said goodnight to one another. I went back to Jessica's room and gave the Joker thumbs up, our plan continued.
Joker put Jess in the middle of my bed, she was still in her pyjamas and I put a pillow under her head while Joker tied her ankles together.
"This is so wrong." I groaned. Joker giggled and tied her already tied ankles to the end of the bed, I felt sick to my stomach. "This is a holocaust of wrong." He laughed a little louder and passed me a length of rope.
"Awww, buck up Steph. Here, tie her hands together." I took her limp wrists and tried to tie them up but this was my little sister! Clumsily I tried to tie her hand together. "First time tying someone up? Here, let me show you the ropes."
Roll on snare drum.
Joker let out a hearty laugh and I looked at him with a sarcastic glare.
"Ha stinking ha! Nobody likes puns Joker." I said. Joker took the rope off me and tied her wrists together with unsurprising skill.
"She does." I narrowed my eyes at him as he straightened up and brushed a golden curl from her face, I scowled at him.
"Paws off clown face. As soon as this is over I want you to leave, she'll be shaken and frightened and the last thing she needs is any more fictionals causing unnecessary grief." He nodded and handed me another cut length of rope.
"Make a loose restraint around the neck to secure her head." Taking the rope from him, I knelt by her head and tied the restraint-
There was a flash of bright light and I looked up.
Joker was holding an instant camera and was grinning ear to ear.
"You two are very photogenic, this one's going to my personal collection." He said, laughing like a maniac and putting the dried photo away somewhere in his vest. I wanted to punch him in his grinning face but decided against it.
"I aim to please my dear Stephanie, it's just unfortunate that you don't get my wonderful jokes."
"Comedy is in the ear of the listener." I muttered. Joker frowned at me and I could tell he would like nothing more than to slice me up, but now was not the time.
We checked her restraints and went to the pills I had set aside, like some fucked up suicide pact. I handed Joker his pills, the tiny red disks like drops of blood on his gloves.
"If anything does go horribly wrong, I want you to take Jess's consciousness and get out of there as fast as you can." I said to him, Joker smiled at me, I didn't like it.
"Don't let anything go horribly wrong." He chuckled and I held back a smile, instead swallowing my pills and we clinked our glasses together before drinking down the water.
The three of us lay on my bed, Jessica in the middle, Joker on one side and me on the other. Though her hands were tied, we linked our arms together to try to solidify the connection between us. I gripped Jess's arm tightly and looked at her serene, sleeping face, the pills were kicking in and things were getting fuzzy. On the other side of her, Joker was looking at me looking at her. Our eyes were growing heavy and with a final sigh, we fell asleep next to Jessica.
The moonlight shone through the windows and across the three figures, their serene, sleeping faces gleamed like lilies in a midnight wood, the Joker's skin being the brightest of all.
From beneath the gag, pink smoke bled into the room and crept around the two bodies on either side. Around the Joker's throat, between Stephanie's legs, the smoke streamed up until it crept along their faces, caressing their cheeks and finally
with a sharp gasp
it invaded their bodies