The small, phantom-like figure was slowly prowling in the darkness.
Behind it, a larger phantom approached what was obviously a feminine figure.
"Looking for someone?" a low, raspy whisper broke the silence.
The smaller figure whirled around, startled, but just as quickly recovered her composure.
"Difficult it is to sneak up on a cat," she purred. "Harder still to surprise a bat!"
Puzzled, the phantom looked at her, then heard a noise behind him.
The raccoons that were right behind him! "Pay attention to your surroundings, Master Bruce," Alfred had said. He had missed the obvious!
"Gotham Bureau of Investigation," a voice announced in that same instant from behind, loudly, and with authority. "Nobody move!"
"All right," the phantom quietly said to himself, "now I'm worried."
"The city you love is in danger." It was a different voice, coming from Bruce Wayne's right.
He looked, and saw Gotham City. It was a beautiful morning, the beginning of a work day, and the sky over Gotham was clean and clear, a deep blue. The day was warm and pleasant.
It reminded Bruce of the day that he and his father had given his mother that pretty pearl necklace, except that that day had been in early summer, June 26th to be exact. The day Bruce was seeing in Gotham now was late summer.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, something wasn't right.
Just as that day had started out beautiful, and ended in disaster, Bruce could sense that this day, too, would start out beautiful, but end in disaster.
He looked. There were the Gotham Towers, rising above Gotham City.
They looked glorious and majestic, light-colored towers against the deep blue sky.
Something was wrong.
There was a fire.
No, there were two fires, one in each tower, high up.
People were trapped above the fires.
"The fire department. Call the fire department," Wayne said urgently.
"The fire department is already responding," a voice came from behind him. The voice was soothing, familiar -- it was his mother. Martha Wayne's voice continued, "Several companies of firefighters are on the scene, and more are on the way."
Wayne felt a little reassured. There would be some deaths, but those buildings could withstand any fire, and the fire department would soon have the fires put out. Some people would die, but most would live and, in time, things would be okay again, and life in Gotham would go on.
The cold, masculine voice came from behind him, and Wayne looked in horror as first one tower, then the other, collapsed. Hundreds of firefighters and emergency workers, plus thousands more innocent people, trapped....
The buildings fell... they fell forever....
The people fell... they fell forever....
Giant clouds of pulverized concrete enveloped Gotham City in a thick blanket of dust as the Gotham Towers came down.
"Pull the other one, too," the cold, masculine voice from behind him commanded, and another building, near the first two, but emptied of its people, collapsed as well.
Bruce looked around... those grand, indestructible structures, the pride of Gotham, were now so much dust and rubble....
The people that had been inside were dead, their fragile bodies broken, their blood running in the gutters of Gotham City.
Bruce wanted to cry, but was unable. "Mom?" he gasped.
"The danger is not past, Bruce," his mother's voice answered.
Bruce looked. Some men had an object, and they were moving it into place in Gotham City.
The object was a piece of equipment of some sort, some kind of container.
"Now it's Gotham's turn to touch the sun," the cold voice came again from behind him.
Bruce looked at the container... inside it was the power of the sun!
"Bruce... don't be afraid."
Bruce looked; it was his father, Dr. Thomas Wayne. "This disaster can still be prevented. Just don't be afraid."
"What must I do?
"You can stay with me," came the answer from his left. Bruce looked. It was the Eurasian girl from the market they had passed through on their way to the train station. "I cannot ignore my earthly desires," she added, approaching him.
He looked again at Gotham City. Whatever the men were doing, it was about to happen. They were about to unleash the power of the sun to destroy Gotham City!
Bruce ran to stop them, but he couldn't possibly get there fast enough.
He had to fly!
He flew.... His robes became wings.
He looked at his wings -- they were black! His whole body was black and rubbery. Bruce Wayne was a bat!
He flew at the men.
Too late, the men noticed him. They looked up at him. They were terrified!
Some ran away, others drew weapons. They fired at him, but to no effect.
He swooped down on the men, again and again, and they panicked and ran. They turned upon each other, they killed each other, deliberately and accidentally; the survivors scattered, fleeing for their lives.
Their plan had come to nothing; the sun was safely inside the box, and Gotham City was safe from the men.
Bruce landed, satisfied.
The giant, glorious city in front of him became a light, and a figure walked towards him out of the light.
The figure was the son of the Emperor of Heaven, and the light behind him was his father!
Bruce fell to his knees before the figure, as the figure said to him, "When the time comes, you will remember this vision, and the men who seek to do this thing will learn of my father's indignation."
The figure stretched his hand forward towards Bruce. "You did not choose me," the figure declared, "I chose you."
With these words, the figure's hand touched Bruce Wayne.
The kiss woke Bruce Wayne up.
He looked. It was Talia.
"You're awake!" she said excitedly. "Master, he's awake!"
The master entered, and smiled as he looked at Wayne.
"The fever broke," began the master. "You look better. But you should still rest."
"I will leave, now," Talia said. "I shall return tomorrow to check on you." Getting up, Talia turned to the master. "Take care of him for me."
"I will," the master answered. "Thank you for your help."
Talia bowed, and walked out.
The master smiled, but Wayne dozed off again.