Those Eyes

Xack opened her eyes slowly, and the second she did, she knew she wasn't at Wayne manor anymore. Just where is she now though? The girl wanted to know this, but the truth would upset her greatly.

Laying on some hard wood floor, Xack blinked and remained motionless as she starred at some odd props next to her. Props such as clown costumes, party hats, jack-in-the-boxes, and even a contraption made out of a boxing glove.

Xack sat up and surveyed around herself. After a bit of time looking around, she guessed that she's in some sort of staging area. The curtain was drawn in front of her, and there were many background sets that seemed to have not been used in years; and of course, the props that sat in a pile by Xack and other corners as well.

No one was around. This made Xack worry, although not that much since Joker is the one to frighten her at the moment. But...just where is everyone? Why is she here?

"Surprise, Xack!" Joker cried happily as he jumped out right in front of Xack. The girl gasped and backed away from him.

Xack gazed up at the maniacal clown and saw him in his old attire of the straight jacket and purple spiraling sleeves. Even though terrified, she wondered just where Joker keeps all of his costumes.

Joker kneeled down to Xack's level and continued to grin with glee. He propped his arms on his legs to make himself comfortable this way. "Surprised, aren't you?" He wondered with curious glee. Xack left her mouth agape -- speechless of course. When she didn't answer, Joker leaned in more so his face was somewhat closer to hers. Xack tilted her head back; repulsed by his closeness.

"Where's Eddie?" Xack finally choked out. "What have you done with him?

Joker grunted playfully, "I did, what any clever-clown like me would do to a brat..." Xack waited until he announced what he had done. "I -- uh, made him a better...'clown'...heheheh..." He chuckled sinisterly, thinking of how Eddie sobbed and screamed at the top of his lungs, when Joker threw him into his chemical bath.

Xack shook her head slowly. "No, don't give me crap like that, now tell me what you did to Eddie--" She cried out when Joker snatched up her chin in his cold hands. Xack's breathing had quickened.

"I did..." began the Joker, "To that boy, what I did to the rest of my captive hosts..." He cracked a sly smile on the edge of his lips as he snapped his fingers. Xack watched as Punch and Judy opened a door from the back of the stage and approached their clown boss.

"Judy and Punch...show my dearest what I plan to do to her..." Joker grinned evilly as he saw Xack look up at him in fear.

Punch and Judy took a hold of the curtain rope and pulled on it slowly. Joker shuffled his hands around as he waited for the two lugs to pull the curtain away. His eyes gleamed with malice, and patience was wearing thin. Joker turned down to the shaking Xack, who brought her legs close to her chest.

When the curtain withdrew, Xack gasped loudly and covered her mouth with pure shock. She couldn't believe what she's seeing; she just can't believe it.

Just like her drawing...Xack saw the familiar features a carnival would have -- in fact -- she is at that place at this very moment; very identical to the one she drew. The stage happened to open out to the outside; the skies were dark and grey, and a heavy fog was setting in. Xack wasn't sure if it was still night or going into the early morning. This though...wasn't what frightened her the most. She wished this is what she was supposed to see.

Xack saw...Joker -- no, not just the real Joker, but there were look-alikes. There were so many of them. The innocent people Joker kidnapped...all turned into bleach skinned, red-lipped, green haired clowns! There they were...standing on the main stage, and off stage, starring back with their bright, red eyes, and grinning lips. The expressions on their faces suggested they were hypnotized, or even under some sort of drug. Xack knew the kidnapped people were under Joker's control. She didn't know how, but she could feel it.

The people, of course, dressed in the manner of the clown prince himself. Some wore the straight jackets with the navy-blue pants, while the others wore the purple tail coats and the leather pants. All starring...dazed...dreamily...their eyes shown through the approaching fog... Xack could also see -- probably because some didn't resemble the real Joker at all -- that some of the cloned clowns wore masks of Joker himself. She didn't know why Joker would make his servants wear such veils, and she was too frightened to even ask why.

Then, Xack looked past all the oddly dressed 'cloned' Jokers and saw what was below at the front of the stage. She edged herself a bit closer to the odd, large object at the front to see exactly what it was. At the front, Xack peered down into a colossal sized vat with a strange, green chemical that was somehow still stirring from the inside.

Joker gestured his arms all around his horrendous stage. "Isn't this fantastic, Xack?" He asked with joy, excited about this whole display. He walked up to the girl and took out a single paper from inside of his shirt. Kneeling down once more, Joker showed the drawing Xack drew before. He pointed to it and squealed, "See? Just like the precious art you did for me!"

Xack shuddered at the thought that Joker actually did this. To take a drawing and make it come alive. A hint of flattery, but mainly, it was sick to her. A sick idea that she wished she never thought of putting down on paper.

"But...but why?" Xack stammered, sounding as if she was about to sob. "Why did you do this?"

Joker's eyes widened a bit in shock. "What do you mean?" He inquired, stunned by the question. "How can you not know why?..." Xack gave another cry as he grabbed her arm and jerked her body upwards. The girl gave out a fearful sigh as she was forced to face the sadistic clown. "In Arkham, dearie, you always cried, wept, complained about your miserable, former life. That got me thinking...for a long time...thinking. A depressed little girl like you...wouldn't you love to be truly happy for once?..." Joker smiled when her eyes grew with slight curiosity.

"I mean -- look at me! Look how I turned out!" Joker put a hand on his chest to make Xack examine the crazy clown. When she turned her head away, a disappointed growl escaped the Joker's throat.

Joker held up her forearm a bit higher. "See, look at your arm..." Xack had a puzzled expression, wondering what he meant by that. The girl's eyes scanned her arm Joker held tightly in his hand, and her eyes grew wide. There was a tiny, tiny hole, indicating that a needle had been placed there. "I injected you with a fluid that will hasten your transformation into my likeness."

Before Xack could ask, Joker explained for her, "You see dearie, the rest of my crew's effects are...not yet permanent; they have another twenty hours before everyone here becomes full-fledged clowns..."

"I...I don't understand..." said a weakly, perplexed Xack. "Why do they take so long...when you immediately became permanent--"

"'Cause I had to make these chemicals myself!" Joker snapped at her rather rudely, and sounding irritable as well. "All those cops would of found us in a second if I stayed at the chemical plant! I had to make this all my own -- ugh! How long it was..." He a sly smile formed when he saw the girl's frightened expression. "I planned ahead, Xack. I knew there would be no way I could haul a vat of chemicals to my carnival, so I made my own."

Xack gasped when his face leaned in closer to hers. "Do you want to know something, dearie?..." Joker whispered to her menacingly. "If you happen to fall into that chemical bath, your effects will be immediately permanent." As Xack gave out another frightened cry, Joker's smile widened in satisfactory.

"No..." Xack whispered fearfully as she turned her head away from Joker's hungered gaze. "No!"

"Yes!..." said Joker sinisterly, and letting go of Xack's arm, he then wrapped one of his own around her back. "You see, once you take a dunk into my chemicals, you'll look just like me!" Xack closed her eyes and groaned as she heard Joker trying to hide his triumphed giggles. "Once that's done, no one will want poor little Xackie -- and thus, you'll be mine! All mine to have, to hold, and to torment! AH HA HAH HAHAHAH...!!"

As predicted by the clown, Xack wiggled her way out of Joker's arm and quickly bolted for the doors at the back of the stage, but unfortunately -- as Joker planned -- Punch and Judy caught her by taking both of her arms in theirs. At this point, Xack tried so hard to hold back the tears that wanted to come forth. She breathed hard, not exactly knowing what was going to happen to her.

Joker took a few steps, and once again, faced her closely to scare Xack even more. "Ahh..." The clown gently cupped Xack's chin and examined her face. "I hope those eyes of yours stay that green..." Smirking slightly, he jerked his head in the direction of the chemical vat off stage. "Toss her in," he ordered his two henchmen.

"No!" Xack shrieked, and started to struggle viciously out of the arms of Joker's men. "No! No!" The eyes of the Joker clones followed her drearily as they watched on stage, and off; surrounding the chemical vat that which she was about to be thrown into.

Joker cupped his ear and leaned in Xack's direction, "Ahhh...music to my ears!" He shrilled with happiness. "Your voice, your screams! I love to hear it come from you, Xack!" He saluted her and added, "Good swimmin' to ya!"

Xack grunted as she slipped her arms out of Punch and Judy's, but the force of which she pulled was so great, that she was flown back to the hard wood floor. She crashed into the many props from behind her. The girl groaned in pain, but that quickly subsided as she eyed Joker's irritable face.

Joker sighed. "Come on... I can't wait for this! Get in and take a bath!" He sneered to Xack.

Xack shook her head. "No!" She cried back childishly. "Just because you're stronger than me...just because you're a man, doesn't mean you can treat me this way!" Thinking suddenly, she wished she was as brave as how she sounded at the moment.

Joker chuckled in amusement, "Why Xackie...what makes you think I degrade women?" Xack shrugged her shoulders lightly, unsure of what to make of it. Now the clown rolled his eyes, "Enough stalling, girly!" He pointed to the vat and ordered once more, "Get in!" Again, Xack shook her head. This made Joker a bit angry now. "Why do I have to do everything myself?..." He groaned irritably as he slowly made his way over to the prop pile.

Xack hesitated and darted her head left and right to try and find something to defend herself with against the Joker. Wait a minute...the props... She turned around and hastily rummaged through the odd props until she found one that looked as if it could help her out of this situation. Joker suddenly halted as Xack pointed the odd contraption made out of the boxing glove at him. Joker laughed, "What do you think you're going to do with that?" Xack examined the 'weapon' she held in her hands and looked over it carefully. "You don't even know how to use it! Ha!" Then he continued to approach Xack cautiously.

Some mumbling cries came from Xack as she got nervous now. Not knowing how to use the only thing that could possibly save her, just what is she going to do? Suddenly, her fingers felt around to the trigger below the glove. Looking at it slightly, she would have to assume it was the trigger. Standing up, she pointed the contraption threateningly at Joker and pressed down hard on the trigger. Immediately, the boxing gloved extended like an accordion, and punched Joker in the gut. The force made Joker fall back and collide into part of the stage that held itself up. Before the clown realized it, a small chunk of the stage came crashing down on him; parts of the curtain, boards, and bits of metal pieces that Xack had idea where they came from.

She knew this was it; this was her opportunity to get off the stage and run for it before Joker got himself out of the rubble. Shoving past the zombie-like Joker clones, Xack hurriedly made it to the front of the stage and jumped down by the side of the chemical vat. Hesitating for a second -- deciding which way to head through the fog -- coming to a decision, Xack ran to the left; hoping to find some way out of the horrific carnival.

As Joker pushed the boards that fell on him, he quickly scanned around him to see if Xack had stayed put. Of course, she ran away. This made Joker enraged, and he gave out an ear piercing shriek of anger. Standing up, Joker pushed passed his own Joker clones and stood at the front of the stage. "What are you waiting for?" Joker yelled at the Joker clones below him. "Go find my Xackie! Bring her back!"

The Joker clones obeyed their master's commands without argument, and even if they wanted to, the clones were considered to be mutes now.

Suddenly, something shimmered from the corner of Joker's eye. He casually looked down by his bare feet and saw what sparkled from the lights of the stage. He bent down and picked up the object, in which he knew Xack accidentally dropped. Holding the jewel in his hand, he now can recall that he gave her this necklace long ago... Finding it for her because every time he gazed at it, the necklace reminded him of...her. Joker clenched his fist and looked out onto the carnival now.

As Joker watched his new crew march away to try and recapture Xack, he smiled inside; smiling because he knew what the outcome was going to be. "You can run, Xack -- to try and get out of my carnival -- but in the end, you're always going to find yourself in one place..."

"My arms..."

As Xack ran, she heard Joker give out a shrill cry. Hearing this, it brought back memories of when the psychotic clown was more...'likeable' to her. The cry also brought back the memories when he cried because he upset Xack in some way. Is this why he's crying out in distress? Because Xack is upset by the his ordeal? Joker knew his whole plan with the girl isn't going as well as he had hoped, but he knew she couldn't escape the carnival so easily. There were more Joker clones than Xack knew...and she was about to find out in mere moments.

Xack cried out as she finally saw that the carnival was overrun with Joker's new henchmen; all turning slowly in place and starring at the girl with their glowing red eyes. They looked over the girl, probably pondering whether or not to go after her, but somewhere inside these Joker clones...they felt the need to capture her...for their clown master. Xack's eyes widened as she watched the clones come at her, with their arms outstretched like zombies out to grab their prey. Xack dodged them, of course; she just kept on running.

Running...forgetting how foggy it is throughout the carnival. Forgetting how much her bare feet hurt as she ran over 'who-knows-what' could be on the ground. Even yet, forgetting how the possibility of being saved looked so dim now.

While not even noticing what's in front of her, Xack crashed into a couple of clones, and she had to stare intently at them, for she didn't know if one of the two was the real Joker or not. When they didn't seem to speak or gloat in triumph, she knew it wasn't the real-deal. She then ran past, but not before one of the clones snagged her long robe.

Xack gasped worriedly as she was suddenly jerked back to the two clones. She quickly took off the robe and continued to run; knowing it was pointless to keep a robe that would hold her back.

Running felt so long to her, Xack stopped dead in the fog to catch her breath. She walked now, and bumped into an abandoned food stall of some sorts. Xack saw this as a way of hiding and to think of what to do now. She bent down and hid under the counter.

Xack just sat there, starring into space. She didn't know what to do. Batman...save me... Please...help me... "Bruce..." she whispered ever so quietly. Xack cowered and went silent when she heard footsteps walk past her. As the sounds went faint, she wrapped her arms around her legs, bringing them up to her chest. I'm not going to get out of here... Joker won... He's going to get his way... I'll be his...clown girl... No...no...

Xack broke down. Quiet sniffles came first, followed by sobs that she tried to hide within herself. "Help me..." Xack sobbed, and her crying grew to a point of uncontrollably. "Please...someone... Help me...please... I'm so scared... So scared..." Xack hugged herself for she trembled badly in fear. Her eyes were bloodshot and her face was drained away of all color. " I want to go home. I want my mom...dad...anyone. Please...save me..." Her face was covered in tears as they streamed down her face, covered her hands and trailed down her neck. So frightened, horrified...Xack just couldn't stop crying. So depressed now of any hope, happiness, or to be saved from this madness.

Before she could cry more words to herself, Xack shook hard as more Joker clones found her hiding spot. Xack couldn't get away this time -- she was trapped under the small space she's in. The clones hauled Xack out and made her stand on her two feet. Just as they began to drag her back to the staging area, Xack viciously wiggled her way out of their hands and darted the other way. The clones were too slow in the head to realize what just happened, so the girl had a good running start before they finally chased after her.

I have to...find someplace to hide -- a building!

"Oooooo Xaaaaaaaackiiiiiiieeeee..." Xack jumped and hastily surveyed her surroundings as she heard Joker's voice ring out through the fog. "Where are you, my soon-to-be clown girl?..."

Xack gasped out fearfully, for she did not know where the voice was coming from.

Then, Joker spoke once more; calling out in a rather alluring tone, which somewhat disturbed Xack. "Come to me, Xack..." It sounded as if he was to the right of her. Xack now started to run in the opposite direction.

Xack ran, although by now, her legs felt numb, almost as if they were beginning to turn into rubber. She hoped that she wouldn't topple over because of this strange feeling. Her feet hurt terribly as well. She knew there had to be 'things' stuck in the soles of her feet, but she didn't want to stop and check on them. Xack wanted to get out, and she needed that time, for if she stopped to even do such a thing, she would surely get caught by the clown clones or Joker himself.

She crashed into a wall. Xack groaned and squinted her eyes to see if it was actually a wall. When feeling around and sliding against it, she knew it to be true. Xack quickly followed the wall to find some sort of door to go into, and when her hands grasped a doorknob of some sorts, she hurriedly jiggled the knob and flung the door open. She quickly darted inside and shut the door gently behind her to not make any noise. Xack turned around and looked at her new surroundings. The room appeared to be somewhat dim, with a few light bulbs dangling from the ceiling, swaying back and forth slightly. The ground was rough, made of concrete with a thin layer of dirt on it, while the walls were made of a wood that looked as if it hadn't been taken care of in years.

Xack took a deep breath and walked bravely through the room. Unfortunately, just as she took a few steps in, the floor beneath her feet suddenly gave way, and the girl cried out frighteningly as she fell through. Xack did not scream, but her eyes bulged out as she was swept away by a spiraling slide, twirling down...down through the ground, and Xack hoped this trip will end very quickly. She cried out once more as the slide ended and she hit the ground with a loud, hard 'thud'.

Xack just laid there; eyes closed, slightly unconscious. At the moment, she was just too weak to get up. She wanted this short, peaceful time to herself...at least until the horrors find her again.

Batman parked his batmobile a few feet away from the entrance to the carnival. Slowly stepping out of his vehicle, the hero narrowed his eyes as he examined this place. All seemed quiet and peaceful, and seeing that the carnival had not changed much since he checked it before, Batman started to feel doubtful that Joker wasn't here, or even Xack and the other kidnapped citizens.

As Batman took his first few steps towards the entrance, he stopped and gazed up at the large billboard that held the title of the carnival. He remembers coming here as a child when his parents were still alive...how sad that competitors bought out this place. Batman loved it here, and how it would of been so much fun to bring Xack and Eddie to this carnival. He would of never imagined coming back to rescue hostages, and to bring Joker back to Arkham. Batman sighed, and entered the carnival.

Just as he passed the wooded and boarded up sign, he halted so suddenly for he felt something was amiss about this place; something he didn't feel when he surveyed the area twice before. There was a pressuring nerve running through Batman, and his body felt more tense than ever. Then...he knew why.

Through the mist of some light fog that hung in the air, he squinted his eyes to see blurred figures come forth and begin to emerge from the murkiness. His eyes widened as he saw pairs of red orbs glow, like some sort of light to shine through the fog. But these weren't orbs at all, as these figures came closer, Batman clearly saw that the orbs were red, piercing eyes starring right back at him, and more seem to come right through. Batman readied himself to fight Joker, but looking having a second look at these people, he could see that none of these 'Joker look-alikes' looked exactly like the clown prince himself. Batman frowned when he saw that some of the Joker clones had masks of their master.

Before Batman knew it, the cloned citizens surrounded the caped crusader, all peering back at him in a zombie-like manner. Batman looked over his shoulder and than back at the clones in front of him. An image flashed through his mind...an image of all the citizens in their right minds; with no bleached faces, no Joker costumes, and no red-lipped grinning expressions. Batman knew he couldn't hurt them too much; their just innocent people that can't control themselves. I hope I can save them in time...

To make matters worse, Batman watched as Punch and Judy came into view, and stood by the rest of the cloned citizens. Batman wanted to groan out of aggravation, but kept it to himself.

Suddenly, the Joker clones charged forth with their fists clenched tightly. Batman held out his hands and decided to take on the clones one at time, and without harming them into injury of sorts. The trouble was to try and avoid Punch and Judy's blows, which were more fierce than five of the clones put together. As Punch threw in an enclosed fist, Batman leaned back and grabbed his wrist tightly. Punch's eyes bulged as Batman flipped the husky clown and tossed him away from the wave of the Joker clones. Batman knew Punch would get back up and try to take him down again, but at least the hero had a moment to take on the others. I have no time for this; I have to find Joker and Xack... Batman starred at one of the bleach faced teenagers. And to find a cure to their bleached skin...

Without warning, Batman was thrown onto his back, with all the Joker clones hovering over him. As Batman tried to get up off the ground, he was forced back down as the clones got down on their knees and held him there. He wondered what they were planning to do, and as he gazed up, he knew what. Batman saw Punch and Judy walking up to him, both carrying a thin, metal sheet that he guessed the two were planning to sever his head with. Batman began to struggle viciously as the two henchmen got closer to him.

Right before Punch and Judy could thrust the metal sheet down on Batman, he forcefully kicked the two bulky clowns away and jumped up as the clones were startled by this sudden action. Before Punch and Judy could get their second wind, Batman kicked them again, but this time, it was Punch and Judy who fell to the ground. The Joker clones tried to help, but Batman shoved them away as he quickly walked up to Punch and Judy.

While Punch and Judy laid on their backs, dazed, Batman's ears perked up as he heard a muffled scream echo through the carnival. Batman looked around himself to see where this scream could of come from, but he was perplexed. Could it be Xack's, or someone else crying out? Batman didn't know, but he didn't want to wait around and let the worse happen, so he hurriedly strode up to Punch and Judy and began to tie them up from head to toe. He had to be quick, for the Joker clones were right at his heels.

Just as he finished, a large, clown clone wrapped his arms around Batman to try and bind him in place. Batman found this as no challenge at all and managed to push him away.

Batman than started his search through the carnival for the real clown prince. He knew he had to find that clown. "None of the people back there resemble Xack in any way..." Batman thought. "Does Joker have her? If so, what does he plan to do with her?" He shuddered as he tried to push away thoughts at what the clown could want to do with a young girl.

"I'll find you Xack...if it's the last thing I do." A determined look came upon Batman's face. "Joker, I'm coming for you!"

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