Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Demon, Part 1 of 5

Standing in front of the mirror, she checked herself over yet again. It was an important day, and she wanted everything to be just right.

A short distance away, feigning disinterest with half-closed eyes staring absently in a different direction, Miss Kitty was alert to every subtle movement. Long ago, she had noticed how Miss Kitty did that, and long ago she had herself learned to do so as well.

"What do you think, Miss Kitty? The competition can be fierce, but will I come out on top?"

Miss Kitty purred her answer, closing her eyes completely.

"Well, I've certainly had the best of teachers," she said, turning to look at Miss Kitty.

Drawing her head in toward her body, Miss Kitty rolled over on her back, then pushed her head outwards, rubbing the top of her head along the dresser where she was stretched out, paws in the air, purring even more loudly.

She walked through the town with her tall companion. She could pass as a local to anyone who was not paying too much attention, but her companion definitely stood out: although he had certainly learned how to conduct himself in harmony with the local culture, his large build placed him head and shoulders above most of the other people, and his pale complexion and European features gave away the fact that he was not from anywhere nearby.

"I'll be leaving here soon, Talia."

"Where will you go?"

"Back to Gotham City, I suppose," he answered with an uncertain sigh.

The truth was, he didn't really know where he would go. Money was not a problem; he could certainly afford to go where he wanted, and do what he wanted; he just didn't have a destination in mind, although he could feel Gotham City pulling at him.

"Would you like to take a short vacation in Russia?" she asked with a flirtatious smile.

Intrigued, he looked at her.

"Moscow is absolutely beautiful... the Kremlin, Red Square... and they're putting up so many new high-rises, too..." she said enticingly. "And St. Petersburg! You know, in June the sun goes down, but stays just below the horizon. Late at night, you can walk around the city, along the banks of the canals and the Neva River, and you can see the city because it is still light out," she explained, luring him with her to St. Petersburg in his mind. "It is the time of the White Nights."

Listening to her, he had been enchanted by the idea of spending some time in Russia with her – until those last two words sent a chill down his spine, as he recalled the words of the master from a few days previously.

"It is difficult to walk at night, Mr. Wayne, because one has trouble seeing one's surroundings. Sure, one's eyes get used to the dark – but you will admit that one can see more clearly in the daytime, will you not?"

Wayne nodded.

"And what can be seen in the daylight cannot be compared with what can be seen in the dark," the master continued. "There are those, however, who do not know the light, Mr. Wayne. They do not think it difficult to walk in the darkness, because the darkness is all they have ever known."

Wayne considered the master's words.

"Then there are those who know both the light and the darkness. They see well what is around them. With full knowledge of the consequences, they choose the darkness. It is as if they live in a perpetual white night."

The two of them walked for a moment in silence.

"Why would someone who has seen both the light and the darkness choose the darkness?" Wayne asked.

"Because he is frightened by what he has found in the light," the master slowly explained, "or perhaps allured by what he thinks he sees in the darkness."

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