The call came in while he was patrolling the Diamond District. In his ear,
Oracle's voice, "Batman."
"Something you might be interested in. A double homicide. Brutal, from what
I've been hearing."
She gave him the address and added, "Those sort of luxury apartments don't
usually see murders like these."
"Crime hits everyone, money is immaterial. Batman out."
He could see Jim Gordon through the window. He was talking to one of the
Batman waited outside on the ledge until the officer had gone. Then, he made
his way inside.
"Good evening, Commissioner."
"I was wondering when you'd show." Gordon tried to sound unsurprised by
Batman's sudden appearance. He almost pulled it off.
"What have we got?"
"Double murder. The two victims are James and Andrea Neuman, married for
twenty-one years. They've lived here for almost twenty. James Neuman is the
owner of Neuman Jewelers. He's wealthy, which could provide motive."
"Commissioner." One of the uniformed officers was calling for Gordon's
attention. Batman used the opportunity to look around the apartment. The
wife had been found in bed, stabbed an unknown number of times. The husband
had been found, also stabbed, in the kitchen. Forensics officers were
scouring the apartment for evidence.
Batman decided to come back later and find everything they missed.
Two days later, Batman stopped by Gordon's office during his nightly patrol.
He stepped through the window and asked, "Has the M.E.'s report come back for
the Neuman murder?"
Gordon jumped. He shot an annoyed look at Batman and said, "Not yet. And
with the back up at the morgue right now, I don't know when it will."
"What about the forensics report?"
"Same thing. The lab's backed up."
"Who's been assigned to the case?"
"Bullock and Montoya. They're the best and the public wants answers. Funny
how the media only latches onto crimes like these when the victim is rich."
"Do you have any suspects?"
"Plenty. Like I said, Neuman was a wealthy man. Wealth tends to breed
"True, but I don't think that this was about money."
"It was too brutal. Too violent. This was personal."
After a week, Batman gave up on the Medical Examiner's office and decided to
do the autopsy himself. His findings supported the theory of a personal
Andrea, the wife, had been stabbed twenty-nine times. Neuman himself had been
stabbed forty-three times. The killings had been vicious. Money tended to
bring out violence in people, but whoever had killed the couple had lost
control. That made Batman think that someone was out for revenge.
As Batman was leaving the morgue, Oracle came over the link in his cowl.
"Here's something interesting."
"Andrew Neuman, the son of James and Andrea Neuman, was just found murdered in
his dorm room."
"His girlfriend discovered the body." Gordon gestured to a distraught woman
talking to Bullock and Montoya. "She came over for their date and found him
dead on the couch."
Batman walked over to where the body was still lying on the couch. Gordon
joined him. "I'm beginning to agree with you," he said. "Someone has a
vendetta against this family."
The number of stab wounds seemed comparable with the number on Andrew's
parents. It appeared that he had been asleep when he was attacked, which
explained the apparent lack of a struggle.
Batman looked over to an end table and picked up a picture. It was a family
portrait, probably taken ten years prior judging by the age of the son. It
looked like the perfect family. Two parents, children, all smiling. Except
that the parents were dead and now, so was the son. His eyes leapt to a small
girl smiling a gap tooth grin.
He turned to Gordon and asked, "Who's the girl?"
Once he was convinced that he could gain nothing else from the crime scene,
Batman made his way back out to the car. He pressed a button the connected
him to Oracle.
Her voice came out of the speaker in the car, "Oracle."
"I need you to run a check for me. Find out if the Neumans had a daughter."
"Consider it done. Oracle out."
Later, while Batman was in the Cave, Oracle came back with her report. The
computer chimed and Barbara's face appeared on the screen.
"Found her. The Neumans did have a daughter, although, apparently, they wished
"Two years ago, when she was fifteen, she was committed to the Rosewood
Psychiatric Institution for Long Term Care. Delusional, apparently."
"Is she still there?"
"Yes, she's been there continuously ever since she was committed. And
according to the records I hacked into, hardly anyone ever goes to visit her.
Certainly not her family, they haven't been there once. It seems as if
everyone's tried their hardest to forget that she ever existed."
Batman frowned. Could the girl have murdered her parents and brother
as revenge for abandoning her? Certainly it was a possibility. He
would have to pay her a visit.
"What room is she in?"
Rosewood was located just outside the city and it was only a twenty minute
ride from the Cave. It was a minimum security facility; it wasn't difficult
to get in. The guard at the front desk didn't notice a thing when Batman
passed within five feet of him.
Batman silently made his way to the patient rooms. Rosewood was unlike
Arkham. There, inmates were kept in stone cells, often in straight jackets
and shackles, and screams echoed off the walls all the time. Here, the
patients were housed in rooms that resembled hospital rooms and not one of the
patients was making a sound.
Somehow, Batman found this facility more unsettling.
He found room 319, where Oracle said Dorothy was located. It was a private
room so he wasn't afraid of a roommate seeing him. The door wasn't locked.
He stepped through into her room.
At first he didn't see anyone in the room. Then, he saw her, halfway under
her bed, only her legs sticking out.
"Dorothy," he said softly.
She wiggled out from under the bed.
Batman had expected her to be frightened of him. Instead, she just looked at
him calmly and said, "Hullo."
She frowned and looked around before asking, "Have you seen Thumper?"
"Thumper. I can't seem to find him anywhere."
Batman paused, trying to figure out what she meant.
"Oh, excuse me a moment," Dorothy said. She turned slightly and looked toward
the far wall. "No, Bambi," she said, "I haven't been able to find him
A pause and then, "Yes, I'll keep looking, I promise."
Another pause before, "I can't talk right now, someone else is here...okay...I
She turned back to him.
"I'm sorry," she said. "What were you saying?"
"I...Dorothy, has anyone told you what happened to your family?"
She looked down at the floor. "Doctor Shaw said that my mother and father
She scrambled to her feet. In the moonlight coming through the window, Batman
could see her better. She was a petite girl with long red hair pulled back
into a ponytail, large brown eyes and pale skin.
Batman imediatly dismissed the idea that she could have killed her family.
Even if she could have gotten off the grounds and into the city, she was far
too small to inflict the damage that he had seen. Still it was possible that
she knew who might have had a grudge against them.
"Are you upset about that?" he asked. "About your parents being killed?"
"A little I guess, but my friends have been taking care of me."
"Bambi and The Dwarfs and Timon and Pumba and the Genie..." she trailed off.
"Hey," she exclaimed suddenly, "What's your name."
Batman blinked. He had expected her to know who he was. "People call me
"Batman. That's a nice name."
"Dorothy, can you think of anyone who might have wanted to hurt your family?"
"No, everyone loved my parents. My family was perfect." As she said it her
voice got very small.
"No one ever threatened them?"
"No," she said quietly. "Would you like some tea. I'm sure Mrs. Potts is
around here somewhere."
She wasn't being at all helpful and there were other things he could have been
doing. Batman left.
Laura Neely, one of the night nurses, thought she heard voices coming from
room 319. She poked her head in.
"Dorothy, who are you talking to?"
"Batman," Dorothy said. She looked around. "Huh, he was just here. Rather
rude of him to leave like that."
Laura chuckled slightly and went back to her rounds.
As he was on his way back to the Cave, Oracle came over the comm link.
"There's been another murder," she said. "They think it's the same person who
killed the Neumans."
Batman did a U-turn and headed into the city.
"His name was Dr. Geoffrey Shaw," Gordon said.
"Shaw," Gordon confirmed. "Why, does that name mean something to you?"
Batman bent over the body.
"Is the M.E. done?"
"Yeah, you can move the body."
Batman reached into the dead man's jacket pocket. He found a wallet. Inside,
he found an ID card that identified him as a doctor at Rosewood Psychiatric
~It keeps leading back to the girl.~ Batman thought.
Later, in the Cave, Batman was going over all the forensic evidence collected
from the three crime scenes. DNA and fingerprints were nowhere to be found.
The murderer had worn gloves and since he always managed to catch his victims
by surprise, there was never a struggle. That meant no skin scrapings under
the fingernails or blood from wounds.
Batman turned to his computer. Forensic Science wasn't helping him, so maybe
it was time to go back to plain detective work.
He called up Oracle. After about ten minutes, Barbara's face appeared on the
screen. It looked as if he had gotten her out of bed, which he had.
"Batman," she said, yawning. "It's six in the morning. Don't you ever
Batman ignored her question and said, "I need all the files you've got on the
"This couldn't wait 'till tonight." Batman could hear the sound of keys
clacking in the background. After a moment, the computer in the Cave alerted
him that the files had been received.
"Thanks, Oracle. Go back to sleep."
Barbara grunted and the screen went blank.
Batman spent the morning going through the files. Oracle was nothing if not
The files dated back three years. Reports from teachers that Dorothy was
acting strangely. Then, later, the papers to have her institutionalized. It
seemed as if the decision to have her placed in the hospital was made rather
hastily, but if what he'd seen was any indication, it was the right decision.
He came across something strange. There were occasional references to
unexplained injuries on Dorothy and the possiblity of physical abuse, but no
one ever followed up. He needed to go back further into her school career.
Batman considered calling up Oracle but decided against it. You could only
antagonize her so much, then she got mad. Barbara's temper was something that
even Batman avoided going up against unnecessarily.
He hacked into the school records himself. Dorothy had attended the same
prestigious, all-girls private school from kindergarten up until she was
hospitalized. Batman only had to hack into one set of computer files to get
everything he needed.
The reports of possible physical abuse went back to her first days of school.
But every time a teacher or aid brought the subject up, it was quickly
~I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that James Neuman donated
money to the school every year.~ Batman thought. In fact, Neuman had donated
almost fifty thousand every year.
He leaned back in the chair. So Dorothy was being physically abused. Did
that have something to do with the murders? Someone who knew about the abuse
and thought that they were administering justice? That could explain the
ferocity of the murders.
He started looking into teachers that might have known her well. There, he
hit a dead end. Not one of them could have killed the Neumans, for various
reasons. Aside from that, however, it didn't seem as if any of them had
formed a close relationship with the girl. It was as if they only mentioned
the evidence of abuse because they were required to by school policy.
Batman then looked into friends of the family. There too he was getting no
where. Then he noticed a reference to a friend of Dorothy's, her only friend,
it appeared, named Simon Cox.
That night, Batman went to Simon's apartment.
Cox lived in the same apartment building as the Neumans, one floor down. He
was eighteen and in his last year of high school. His parents were friends of
the Neumans and his parents had watched Dorothy when she came home from
school. They had been close friends all their lives and he was the only one
that had visited her in the Hospital.
There were no lights on in the apartment. Batman made his way to Simon's
bedroom. The door was slightly ajar. He pushed it open.
It was the bedroom of a typical teenage boy. Clothes were scattered
throughout the room. On the wall, there were posters of sports heroes and
scantily clad women.
Batman walked over to the desk. There were some school textbooks interspersed
with sports magazines and action novels. Batman opened the drawers of the
desk. Pens and paper in the first drawer. More magazines in the second
In the third drawer, there was a picture of Dorothy. He pulled the drawer all
the way out and began to examine the contents. Pictures and drawings, love
letters and poems. A small lock of red hair. Then there were forms, the kind
filed with Child Welfare Services. They had been filled out by Simon and
detailed several instances of abuse and physical violence. He said that he
could get Dorothy to come in and testify to the abuse.
The forms were dated just a week before Dorothy's teachers began reporting
changes in her behavior.
Coincidence? Batman didn't believe in them.
He moved the forms aside and found a small notebook. When he opened it, he
found a journal. He flipped through it until he found an entry that looked
The date was just a month after the forms had been filled out. It began:
"They think she's crazy. She's not crazy. Not Dorothy. They've done
something to her, I know it. When I tried to tell my parents, they said I was
being paranoid. I tried to tell them about the way that they hurt her. They
way that her father and he brother use her for a punching bag. They didn't
believe me. Nobody believes me. And now they've done something to her. It's
because she was going to testify. I finally convinced her that she had to.
She was going to go with me and talk to that lady. But then she started
hallucinating. And now they're talking about putting her in a hospital. My
Dorothy. I've got to stop them."
Batman flipped through a few more entries until he came to one dated a few
months after Dorothy had been hospitalized:
"The hospital is only making it worse. Every time I go to see her she's
worse. I think they're giving her something at the hospital. Drugs or
something. She was never this bad. It's impossible to carry on a
conversation with her. What have they done to my Dorothy?"
The entries continued on and off. Batman found one dated just three months
prior to the first murders:
"They say I can't go to see her anymore. They say I'm making her worse.
That's crap! I'm not hurting her, they are. They just don't want me to see
her because they know I'm onto them. Something has got to be done. I've
tried going through the 'proper channels' and gotten nowhere. Justice must be
There were no more entries after that, just a list of names. The list
included Dorothy's parents, her brother, and Dr. Shaw. There were X's next to
each of those names. There was one more name. Bernard Holt, the director of
Batman realized that Holt was in danger. He quickly placed everything as it
had been and headed for the window.
"I need you to get me Gordon, now."
A few seconds later, he heard another voice, "Gordon."
"Jim," Batman said as he leapt through the open window and started a
controlled decent to the ground. "You need to get someone over to
Bernard Holt's." He gave him the address and added, "Hurry."
Batman was on his way to Holt's when Oracle's voice came over the comm link.
"Batman, I just heard, the police got to Holt's just as someone was breaking
in. They've got a hostage situation on their hands."
"How many hostages?"
"Just Holt. Fortunately, his wife and kids were away for the weekend."
Batman accelerated the car.
~The police had better keep that situation under control until I get there.~
Gordon frowned and ran a hand through his thick, gray hair. The night was
cold but he was sweating anyway. ~How many hostage situations is this for me,
anyway?~ he thought. ~Fifty, at least. You'd think I'd be used to it by
But it was almost worse because he'd been through so many. He knew that these
situations, more often than not, turned out badly. He turned to Bullock. "Is
the hostage team here yet."
"Nope," Bullock said. "Twenty minutes at least. There's something else going
on across town."
The minutes ticked away with agonizing slowness. Gordon heard what sounded
like tires screeching. He looked around. Seeing nothing, he returned his
attention to his watch.
The car came to a screeching stop.
~I hope I'm not too late,~ Batman thought as he started running toward the
Inside the house, Bernard Holt was being held with a knife to his throat.
"Who are you?" Holt asked, sobbing.
"That doesn't matter!" Simon yelled. "All that matters is that I'm going to
"Why?" he sobbed, "I never did anything to you."
"It's not what you did," Simon yelled, "It's what you didn't do. It's what
you ignored for the sake of money and prestige."
"What are you talking about?"
"Does the name Dorothy Neuman matter to you. Or have you forgotten her
"Dorothy Neuman. What about her?"
"She was being hurt. They were hurting her. And you ignored it. Every time
anyone said anything, you dismissed it. Because James Neuman was one of your
most prestigious benefactors. You didn't want to do anything to him and lose your
Simon looked around until he saw a large figure standing on the other side of
"Go away!" he yelled. "This doesn't involve you."
"Maybe not, but it involves her." Batman pulled Dorothy into the light.
"Dorothy!" Simon screamed. "You leave her alone. Don't you dare hurt her."
"I'm not going to hurt her, Simon. But you're hurting her."
"No! No, I'm doing this *for* her. Don't you understand. It's all for her."
"Simon, you said that they were doing something to her and you were right. I
tested her medications. The doctor, Shaw, was giving her hallucinogens."
Batman hadn't actually tested the medications and wasn't entirely sure this
was true, but he thought it was probably true and it was what Cox wanted to
"I knew it!"
"Don't you see," Batman said. "Now that we know what's been going on, we can
take her off the drugs and she'll be the same as she was. But how's she going
to feel when she finds out that you're the one who killed her family?"
"She'll thank me. I know she will. Her father and her brother, they were
always beating her up. Once her brother slammed her head into a granite counter
top. She had to get thirty stitches. I asked her what her parents did and she
said that her father just laughed. *Laughed.* And her mother wasn't any
better. She never lifted a finger to stop it. Not once did she even *try* to
"What about Shaw? Holt?"
"Shaw was the one giving her the drugs. Neuman was probably paying him to do
it. Keep her acting crazy so no one would ever know. And Holt here blocked
every attempt to investigate the abuse."
Holt, on his knees with a knife to his throat, began to whimper.
"I'm not saying that what they did wasn't wrong. But murder isn't the answer.
Let the courts handle it."
"I tried that. But no one wants to listen to a teenager. It had to be this
Dorothy looked at the strange man holding her arm. Batman, that's what he had
called himself. He'd burst into her room and asked her to go with him. Said
that if she didn't someone was going to die. She didn't want anyone to die
because of her, so she had gone.
Around her, all her friends had situated themselves. Lady and the Tramp
were sitting in the corner eating spaghetti. They seemed to eat a lot of
She looked at the man standing across the room. He seemed familiar. Like
she'd knew him once. But she had a hard time remembering things. She had a
hard time thinking about things for a long time. Still, he seemed familiar.
"...had to be this way." the familiar man said.
Dorothy frowned. He seemed so familiar. Where did she know him from? Broken,
fragmented memories began to float to the surface.
~He used to hold me when I cried. Always held me close. And we used to watch
movies together. He owned all the good movies. The ones starring my
~We used to pretend that we were the characters in the movies. I would be
Cinderella and he would be the Prince and he'd rescue me and we'd live happily
ever after in the castle.~
~He used to say that one day, he'd save me for real.~
"Simon!" she exclaimed.
He turned to her. "Dorothy. You remember me?"
She smiled and tried to run to him. The Batman was holding her back.
"Let her go!" Simon yelled.
Batman thought for a second. Was it possible that Simon would hurt her? No.
"I'll let her go if you let go of Holt."
"How do I know you'll really let her go?"
"You have me word."
Simon took the blade away from Holt's throat.
"Run!" Batman yelled at Holt.
He needed no prompting.
"Now let her come to me."
"Wait. Drop the knife."
"Now kick it to me."
The knife went sliding across the floor.
Dorothy was pulling away from him with all her might. Batman slowly released
She ran across the room and into Simon's arms. He hugged her tightly and
kissed her forehead. "It's okay," he whispered, "I've got you."
Gordon watched as the front door opened. He tensed, his hand automatically
resting on his gun.
Holt came running out across the lawn. One of the cops grabbed him.
"What happened?" Gordon demanded.
His speech came out in gasping breaths, "Batman...in the house...some
"Pointy Ears is in there?" Bullock asked.
Ignoring Bullocks protests that it might be dangerous, Gordon started walking
toward the house. He pushed open the front door. The house was dark. He
paused and listened. Nothing. He made his way slowly toward the living room.
There, he saw Batman standing looking at a couple curled up together on the
"What's this?" he asked.
"The man is Simon Cox, he killed four people and tried to kill a fifth."
"And you let her go to him."
"He won't hurt her."
"How can you be sure?"
Instead of answering directly, Batman explained the situation to him.
"Cox is still going to be charged with murder," Gordon said when Batman had
"I know. I have no problem with that."
"What about the girl?"
"If it's true about the drugs, and it probably is, than she should stop
hallucinating once they leave her system. Although, there could be lasting
effects from the extended exposure."
Gordon watched as Simon stroked Dorothy's hair.
"Amazing," he said, "That it had to come to this before anyone helped this
On the floor, Simon was rocking Dorothy back and forth.
"It's okay," he said softly, "No one's ever going to hurt you again."