Break Down

"Xack!" Xack's brother Eddie, cried happily to her, and he held up a children's book for her to see. "This is the book I want! Can you get this book for me, please?"

Xack looked down on her little brother and took the book from him so she could look at the price. "Eddie...this huge 'Pokemon' comic costs close to twenty-dollars! I'm sorry, but I don't have that much on me right now..." A small smile appeared on her face as she looked past the rows of books and saw her mom looking at a few cookbooks. "Why don't you go tell mom about this book and see if she'll pay for it."

Eddie rolled his eyes, but he quickly walked over to mom and showed her the comic book he wanted. Xack watched mom take the book and look it over, and the young girl jumped slightly when her mom gazed at her. Mom had a concern look on her face, but it soon faded into a warming smile that made Xack happy inside. Mom stopped her smiling though when Eddie kept pestering about the Pokemon comic he wanted.

As Eddie and mom kept chatting about the comic book, Xack left the aisle of books they were in, and began to roam other rows to find some material that caught her eye. She walked around in the bookstore until she found an aisle of books that caught her attention; mainly the genre of fantasy novels, such as dragons, fairies, and knights. There was only one person down at this spot, and his back was turned, hooded and everything. Xack did not mind, but just as long as this person didn't bother her. She shrugged her shoulders and started to briefly glance at the book titles until she found one that sounded interesting.

"I'm more into the arts than the literature, how about you?" The hooded stranger spoke to Xack, in that mirthful tone. A voice the girl did not want to hear ever again. She turned around to see the stranger starring back at her with those red eyes, small yellow pupils, and even the black around the eyes itself. Only this time, it seems that our stranger -- or rather, the Joker, was no longer hooded, but wearing that long purple tailcoat, that looked too big for the Clown Prince. His green hair was almost in that dreadlock manner, and long enough to touch the halfway point of his back. He wore leather pants, but as usual for him, wore no shoes to his strange attire. Xack just stood there in complete shock as Joker slowly advanced towards the girl, with his hands neatly clasped behind his back. "You look so surprised to see me, dearie..."

Xack wanted to scream, but did not know how, however, when she tried to dart the other way from Joker, he quickly snatched her wrist and wrapped his fingers tightly around it. Xack gave out a yelp in pain for his grip was hard and rough. As she started to struggle with the clown, Joker's lips twitched and he smiled menacingly, until he threw back his head and laughed manically. Xack breathed in and out heavily as he leaned in towards her. She closed her eyes and hopped he would go away. He didn't though.

"You think all of this is real?" Joker asked Xack in that mocking tone of his. She opened her eyes and starred back into his. Her body and mind had enveloped in fear, and it seems there was no way out of it. She was pinned to the bookshelves!

"Of-of course this is real!" Xack shot back at Joker, but the clown could tell she was deeply afraid. "I can feel these books, I talked with my brother...but you can't be real!" Xack gave another cry in pain as Joker tightened his grip around her wrist.

"Well...I got a news flash for you: none of this is real!" Joker snickered. His voice was harsh, and enjoyed seeing Xack miserable, depressed, and frightened. "Your mommy is dead! You're not really in a bookstore -- come on! Do you really think you can get out of the Looney Bin that easily?" The Joker let go of her wrist as she started to cover her ears with her hands, trying not to listen to his cruel words.

"This is real!" Xack shrieked with fear. She collapsed to the ground and continued to cover her ears when Joker started to cackle softly. "My mom isn't dead! She can't be dead! I don't want her to die..." Xack began to sob uncontrollably, and now was covering her face to shield away the tears that came streaming done her face. "I never wanted this to happen..." she whispered to herself.

A few moments into Xack's cries, she heard soft footsteps approach slowly, as if being slightly cautious. The figure stopped and bent down a little to ask, "Hey...are you okay?" The voice had a slight 'punk' accent to it, and Xack had heard of this before...from an Orderly of Arkham Asylum.

Xack uncovered her face and starred up to the young Orderly. Xack was no longer in the bookstore with her mom and Eddie, or even Joker, but now back in the asylum for a strange and unknown reason. She looked around herself to see that she was just outside of an office of sorts, where a guard or an Orderly would keep watch on the cells of patients. To Xack's horror, it appeared that all the cell doors were open! She slowly got herself up from the floor; she looked like a total wreck!

"Hey..." The Orderly seemed to have recognized Xack's face. "You're that one girl who has those breakdowns, aren't you?" Then he gazed around to see that all the cell doors were open, and the patients within them were starting to leave their rooms. "Oh man...you let out all the patients here..." The Orderly gestured Xack into the office, "You wait in there while I call the police...and get your meds as well; it seems you had another delusional state again..." He quickly jogged away from the girl to look for a phone someplace in the asylum. Xack frowned to that since there was a phone in the office she was in!

"I-I had a breakdown again?..." she whispered frighteningly to herself, and she clutched her head with her hands. "No...this can't be happening! I was supposed to go home today! I WAS SUPPOSED TO GO HOME! I WANT TO GO HOME!" She shrieked so loudly that probably everyone in the facility could hear her. Xack breathed in and out heavily, but eventually, she made herself calm down a little to get her head thinking straight again. "Okay...if I went into that 'delusional state' and opened all these cell doors, then that means..." she could now see that mostly all the patients in the asylum were gone. "That means Joker is loose again..." she whispered the last sentence. Xack got up some courage to leave the office. "I have to find my brother before something bad happens to him." She began to wander around the hallways and different floors of the asylum to look for her brother Eddie.

A few minutes of wandering, it dawned on Xack that Eddie is probably still sitting in his cell, since she guessed that he would be too terrified to leave it. Usually a nurse, Orderly, or even a doctor would escort her back to her cell (since they worry she'll try to escape or hurt herself), but now she had to find her own way back to her brother's room without any help. As she walked through the corridors, she stumbled across a few crazed patients, but they were of no bother to her since most of them knew her anyways. All Xack worried about was coming across Joker, but she figured he probably had escaped this place by now; he hates the asylum and any chance he gets, he escapes with a blink of the eye. Xack hopped that this was the case.

When she finally found her brother's cell number, she could barely make out the whimpers of fear coming from within it. Xack quickly went into the cell to see her brother Eddie, sitting on the edge of his bed with his legs close to his chest, and his arms wrapped around them. When he saw his sister enter, he jumped off the bed and dashed over to Xack so he could hug her. "Xack!" He cried out to her, and little sobs followed after. Unfortunately for Eddie, Xack did not like to be touched, so she rudely, but gently, shoved her little brother away from herself.

"You know I don't like to be touched..." Xack reminded Eddie in a harsh tone, but she sighed and said softly, "But I'm glad to see that no one hurt you. Have you seen anyone gone by? The police or anybody that is going to help us?"

Eddie shook his head slowly. "No...nothing but the crazy people..."

"Did you see the Joker?"

"No...I don't want to. He's scary..."

Xack lightly patted Eddie on the back, "I know... I know..." She looked around herself then back at her brother. "Listen to me Ed, you have to come with me, at least find some place to hide while I go call the police...or at least find that Orderly guy that spoke with me earlier..."

"I don't want to hide!" Eddie pouted to his sister. "I want out of here!"

"But you're going to hide!" Xack snapped back at Eddie, "And you are going to stay hiding as to where I tell you too, okay?" Eddie grunted in anger and resentment to this, but he nodded to his sister's wishes. "I don't know if I should leave you in here to hide or in another cell... I'm pretty sure Joker has left this asylum, but you never know, any other patient here can hurt you too..."

"I'll stay here...and hide under the bed or something," Eddie suggested.

"It may seem like a corny hiding spot, but it's for the best, I guess..." Xack watched Eddie quickly make his way back to the bed and slowly crawl under it. "Don't come out unless I tell you too, okay? I don't care if someone says he's from the police and wants you to come out; you only come out of there on my word."

"Okay..." Eddie mumbled from under the bed, and then Xack quickly left the room to find a telephone or at least find the Orderly that spoke with her before.

Xack slowly trailed down the hallways of the asylum once again, but now new fears were going through her head: is Eddie going to be okay? Did that man call for help, and...is there still anyone dangerous left in the asylum? If there was, Xack did not want to run into them, for she is not a fighter at all. She can struggle and maybe throw in a few kicks, but that's all she could do; she's not even a good runner.

When Xack had turned a corner in the asylum, she stopped dead in her tracks to see the Orderly man in front of a telephone. The girl could not see the man very well since he was quite aways from her, but she can tell that he is holding the phone in his hands. "Did you call for help yet?" Xack asked the Orderly a little worriedly, and she began to advance with caution to the man, since he did not answer her back so suddenly. "I'm sorry I left the office, but I wanted to make sure my brother was okay..." She became more fearful when the Orderly still did not respond; he seemed to be not moving at all. "Hello?... Are you alright?..." As Xack got closer, she let out a gasp when she saw that the Orderly man looked seriously ill; his mouth was in a toothy grin, very similar to Joker's, and his eyes were almost bulging out of his head! Xack knew that this ghastly sight is Joker's doing. "I don't think he called for help..." Unfortunately, when Xack grabbed the phone from the Orderly's hand, the power in the asylum went out; including the lights!

Xack shrieked loudly in horror and threw herself on the ground. "The darkness!..." she crawled in the dark to where she believed to be a wall from the hallway. She pressed her back to it and started to sob. "I don't like the dark!" Xack began to tremble badly, and even her hands were shaking so horribly that it would be impossible to hold a phone in her hands. This is Xack's greatest fear in life: the dark. She had always feared this since she was a little girl, but mainly because she goes blind in it.

Suddenly, Xack cried out when someone had grabbed her wrist roughly. She hopped that it was a policeman, or another Orderly in the building...but to her dismay, it wasn't. "Ah, how lovely this time of night, don't you agree?" Asked the Joker in that witty, happy tone of his. He literally dragged the poor girl up from the floor, and Xack whimpered in pain when his fingers dug into her skin.

Xack was completely speechless at this point. Her head was spinning and hurt so much from the pain that she thought she was going to pass-out at any given moment. "I-I was supposed to go home today..." she whispered so quietly that only someone very close to her could hear.

The Joker gave out a few 'heh heh's', before he leaned in closer to Xack and say menacingly, "But you are going home...with me..."

"No!" Xack shrieked. "No!" Xack started to cry out for help as she struggled almost viciously with Joker, trying to escape from his tight grasp. Joker laughed his hysterical laughter; finding this struggle amusing to him. He did give out a surprising gasp when Xack managed to get away from him, but she couldn't go further all that much since she was blind in the darkness. To Joker's advantage, he quickly snatched both her wrists and began to drag her through the darkened asylum.

"No! No!" Xack gave out a high shriek of fright. "Let me go! You can't do this to me!"

The Joker snickered and replied happily, " But I can do this to you, because I want to! People like you don't know comedy until you experience it, and you'll be one of my 'special guests' to experience it first hand!"

Xack did not know what Joker had meant there, but in time, she will learn what those last words mean.

When all hope had faded from Xack of eluding the clown, the power in the asylum had suddenly kicked back on. The girl was a bit relieved to see Joker bewildered by this, for he stopped struggling with her and gazed around with suspicious eyes. "Hey, who turned on the lights?" He asked, still puzzled by this phenomena.

"Let her go Joker..." ordered a dark, stern voice from above the two asylum patients. Joker and Xack looked above themselves to the next floor of the asylum to see the Batman gazing down on them. Joker growled in anger and held onto Xack's wrist even tighter; not wanting to let go of her. "Let her go now, Joker!" Batman demanded, and was beginning to lose a little patience with the Clown Prince of Crime.

"Only problem here Batsy, is that I don't want to let go!" Joker piped up, but then he tossed Xack aside and urged Batman to come to him. "Then again, I hate to be the one to ruin the fun..." He began cackling as he threw a couple of his razor sharp playing cards in Batman's direction. Batman seemed to be in no shock to this since it was common for Joker to pull off something like that. The Batman quickly slid to the side, and Xack's eyes grew wide when the Caped Crusader came down to her and Joker's level. Joker didn't hesitate to quickly run up to Batman and double-kick him hard in the chest. Xack moved out of the way as the hero hit the ground by her.

The Joker got out more razor sharp cards and cackled, "Losing your touch, eh Batsy?" He flung them towards Batman, but also Xack. The Batman skidded to the girl and wrapped his cape around themselves when the cards hit his sleek, outer material.

The Batman looked down on Xack with wide eyes, "Get out of here, now!" He ordered in a slight panicked tone, knowing that it would be hard to try to protect Xack and battle Joker at the same time. Xack nodded and thought the best place to go to at this time is getting Eddie and leave the forsaken facility as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, when Joker caught a glimpse of Xack heading in a different direction then towards himself, he grinned with glee and briskly pounced to where she was and swung his arm around her neck. Xack shrieked and another struggle between them came up once again. When Batman started to advance towards the two, Joker slowly moved to the center of the current level they were on; connected by railing, but...over this railing was like a large pit! The Batman stopped and wondered what Joker was planning.

"Dear me Batman, but there seems to be a problem here..." lilted Joker, and he peered over the railing with a mischievious grin appearing on his face. His eyes gleamed with malice when he looked into his victim's, and Xack did not like this look at all. The Batman just frowned at him. "You see...my plan here was to take the crazy girl with me, but with you here, all you do is ruin the fun..." The Joker roughly grabbed both of Xack's arms and pressed her against the railing. "Tell me, Batman, what do you plan to do? Save this girl from becoming a pancake, or go on a wild goose chase with me?"

Joker laughed hysterically when he suddenly shoved Xack off the railing, and now the poor girl was falling at an incredible rate! Batman knew there was no choice but to save her, so he didn't waste any seconds to draw out his Batgrapel and shoot the claw-like object into the ceiling above. When he heard his object hold into place, he held onto the rope as he took a dive off the railing and hoped he would catch Xack in time. Fortunately, only inches away from falling to a death, Batman quickly snatched her hand and held Xack against himself. He sighed heavily as he tugged on the Batgrapel to bring them back up to the previous level of the asylum.

"I am not thanking you for saving me..." Xack spoke in that creepy, monotone voice of hers. "Because I did not want to be saved..."

The Batman did not speak nor reply to Xack's statement, but when they finally reached the asylum level, he set the girl on her feet and he did the same as well. Before Batman would take off after Joker all this time, he gazed over to the ill Orderly man leaning against a wall in the hallway. "Hold out your hand," he muttered to Xack. The girl obeyed and raised an eyebrow when Batman handed her a little vile with a light blue substance in it.

"What am I supposed to do with this?" Xack asked rather rudely to her savior.

"Give it to the police when they arrive. It's the antidote to Joker's gas sickness..." Batman gestured to the Orderly so Xack would see. "I have to go after Joker now..." For Xack, it was like the blink of an eye...and Batman had vanished from Arkham.

In the distance, Xack could barely make out the sirens and helicopter choppers from outside the building. She looked at the vile in her hands and held it tightly, then she sat on the ground and pressed her back against the bricked walls. The girl sighed and bowed her head so the hair would completely cover her face. "What's going to happen to me now?" Xack questioned herself about this. "If my life gets any worse I fear I will break down for good..." Oddly enough, she did not start to sob, but rather, began to laugh. It started as just this rash giggle, getting louder, and louder, and now it turned into a disturbing, high-pitched maniacal laughter which made the police officers most nervous when they found the asylum patient.

"Whoa...we got a problem here with this one..." mumbled one of the officers who stood a foot away from the crazed girl. The officer turned to a dark-skinned man next to him, except this other man wasn't dressed like the other officers at all. "Detective Bennett, what are we going to do with her?"

The dark-skinned man, whose name we now know as to be Detective Bennett, sighed and closed his eyes in some thought. "I don't know, but the way her condition is, I don't think it's a good idea to keep her here in this place. Where else a girl like her can go is beyond me though..."

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