Batman: A New World

Chapter 29: Journals


Bruce Wayne comes into the greenhouse, to join Alfred, at Wayne Manor. Some music is playing on the radio in the background.

- Relaxing to a little music in the Greenhouse are we, Alfred ? I didn't realise that we had the Radio piped in here, too.

- Hardly, Master \Bruce, hardly. ... That was but a brief little musical interlude, heralding the beginning of the cut and thrust of political and economic debate, on the News Channel, Sir. One does like to keep abreast of current affairs, and all the various people making the news. It is very good for one's Intelligence, if one gets one's meaning.

- One does, Alfred, ( With a knowing smile ), crystal clear. … Actually, Alfred, I have just been on the phone to Commissioner Gordon. … He asked me, if I would authorize the setting up of a secure phone line, through Waynecom.

- I see. Might one be so bold to ask, with whom ?

- With Batman !

- Forgive me, Sir, but one finds oneself somewhat at a loss.

- Apparently, Chief O'Hara secreted a note on my person, as I was coming around, the night I met with Viktor Fries. I have only just found it ! .. It was very well secreted, … in my Utility Belt. … Anyway, the Commissioner wants to establish a secure line with Batman.

- ( Very enthusiastic ! ) A Hotline, Sir !

- Exactly. And the only network he could in any way trust with the intricacies and safeguards of the communications involved was Waynecom. ! …. If ever there are other emergencies, the Police can 't handle, or if they are short on leads, he wants to be able to call on Batman. It 's going to be a mobile Hotline !

- Absolutely splendid, Master Bruce, absolutely splendid. … I must confess, I didn 't expect something like this from the Commissioner.

- I don't know, Alfred, I don't know. I kind of get the impression, that that is maybe the way he has always operated. There is more to Commissioner James Gordon than meets the eye. ... ( Looking all around him. ) My goodness, Alfred, it never ceases to amaze me, how many rare and incredible plants, we grow here.

- ( With a mock clearing of the throat ) Excuse me, Sir.

- Ah, .. yes. ... That YOU grow here.

- Why, thank you, Master Bruce. One does one's best. ... And it is, of course, most befitting in an estate of this stature, shall one say, that there be such a horticultural collection on such a scale.

- ( Teasing him a little ) Oh, absolutely, Alfred, absolutely. ... But, unless all those years studying Botany in Biology Class somehow deceive me, not only are some of these specimens extremely rare, but most of what you grow is remarkably geographically diverse. .. For instance, where is this one from ? ... It reminds me of a plant from the Fens in England, that I once researched.

- Ah, Master Bruce, far from being a waste of time, your knowledge of plant biology serves you well, and will no doubt in the future. That little plant is, indeed, most rare, and is only found in two or three marshland areas of Western Europe, in this case, the bog land of South Armagh.

- That's in Ireland, right ?

- Northern Ireland, to be exact. ... Yes, I have come upon most of my most beautiful plants, in the course of my previous employment.

- What were you doing in the bog lands of South Armagh ? ... Ah, .. right. .. Perhaps you had better not answer that question.

- Quite, Master Bruce, quite. ... Save to say, that, when one' s responsibilities for Queen and Country involve close observation, one sometimes finds oneself closely observing the flora and fauna as well. ... ( Rather lovingly ) This plant, that one has painstakingly kept refrigerated for several years, is native to the Antarctic Island of South Georgia, ... and this orchid to the riverbanks of Central Sierra Leone. ... ( Pondering a little ) Yes, ... these particular little specimens serve to remind one of days long past, and the respect due to the enemies one had to observe, ... living in holes on an ice-cold mountain, or in someone's back garden.

- You lived in someone's back garden ?

- In a hole, ... in someone's back garden.

- My God, Alfred ! .. And people think, your job was glamorous.

- ( A little uncomfortably ) Quickly moving on, Master Bruce, one does recall you mentioning that your Father might have recorded some information about Doktor Viktor Fries ?

- Ah yes. ... My Father kept a series of journals. He was prolific. I've asked Aunt Harriot, if she knows anything about them, and where they might be in the attic.

- ( From some distance away ) O Bruce ! ... O Bruce, dear !

- Coming Aunt Harriot ! ... Keep up the good work, Alfred.

- Doesn't one always, Master Bruce, ... Doesn't one always ?

As Bruce walks away, he busily types something into his mini-laptop.

- ( News Presenter: ) And now for the latest on the suspicious circumstances surrounding the sudden death of Francois Lorenz. Coming within days since the publication of his new policy as European Administrator of Food Production, was he murdered by Eco Terrorists ? ... Find out more, after this brief commercial break. ...

- ( Bruce, climbing the stairs into the Attic. ) Goodness, Aunt Harriot, I can't remember the last time I was up here. All I DO remember is, that I had a quick read through some of my Dad 's Journals, but where I found them, and where I left them, I can't remember.

- Ah, memories, memories. ... You know, some of your Mother's old toys and books are stored up in this room. (Starting to cough and splutter.) Mind you, it could do with a bit of a Spring clean.

- But it's the middle of Winter, Aunt Harriot.

- ( Giggling ) Oh Bruce, ( giggling again ) always the joker, … ever the joker.

- Well, what do we have here ?

- Well, I never ! It's your Mother's old rocking horse. ... Why, I remember seeing film of little Martha on that, so many years ago, more than I care to imagine. In fact, she was never off it, if my memory serves me clearly.

- And what is this, Aunt Harriot ? It is absolutely magnificent.

- Why, it's your Mother 's ornamental Doll's House. Your Father made it for her. .. Impressive, isn 't it ?

- It's Wayne Manor !

- Your Mother really adored that Doll's House. ... She really adored your Father, too. ...( Rummaging ) ... Ah, here they all are, Bruce, your Father 's Journals. ... He wrote so many !

- This is fantastic, Aunt Harriot, Thank you for all your help. ... Boy, there is so much to discover up here. ... My Father sure was creative.

- He certainly was, Bruce, he certainly was. ... Now, if you have no further use for your poor old Great Aunt, I'm afraid I must be leaving you. It's my turn to host the Sewing Circle.

- Gee, sorry. I didn't realise. ( Looking at his watch ) Why, Aunt Harriot, they 'll be here any minute !

- Don 't worry, Bruce. … I don't have to do a thing. Alfred has it all taken care of.

- Of course he has, Aunt Harriot, of course he has. ( Bruce smiles and shakes his head in semi-disbelief. )

He starts to get engrossed in the Journals.

- So I will see you later, Bruce. ( She heads down the stairs. )

- It's fine. ... In fact, .. it's more than fine. Bye, Aunt Harriot. Thank you. ... Wow !

He reads on.

March 17th: Concerned about Harvey. Has been having a rough time with his Father. Came to school with bruises this morning. It was his Birthday yesterday. Oswald and I do our best, unsuccessfully, to cheer him up. But his mood soon changes in science class. Doctor Fries demonstrates the effect of perchlorates on aluminium and magnesium. The results are both deafening and blinding, but only temporarily. It is hard to beat causing explosions in class !

The Doctor really loves his subject, and this spills over into the classroom. It is hard to imagine, that someone so kind could have been a Nazi in the war. Will ask Dad tonight about him. After class, we tell him, you could make a bomb that way. But, once again, he points out, that the military use of such knowledge is a perversion of science, and is to be deplored. However, he said, if such materials were to be used in smaller quantities, and housed in a hard, shatterproof material, with holes allowing only the light and sound to escape, a non-lethal device could be created, that would encourage soldiers to capture, rather than kill their enemies, rendering them temporarily incapacitated.

I can only respect the man for his genius and his principles. Everyone loves his class, and, even though his English is far from perfect, we understand what he is teaching perfectly. If only the same could be said for all my teachers.

- My God, I do believe that Viktor Fries invented the stun grenade ! At least, he first envisaged it. What a guy !

Reads on.

March 17th: Talked to Dad about Dr. Fries. Asked him, if he thought our teacher could have been a Nazi. Dad said, never be quick to judge anyone. Not all Germans were Nazis. Many Germans died, resisting or fleeing the Nazis, some of them Scientists. Maybe he was one of them. But then, again, Nazis could be very nice too, at times, just like us. People are complicated, and don't fit into neat boxes. Dad calls them stereotypes. I think I will use that word in my English exams. He says, I should wait till I graduate, then ask Doctor Fries man to man, face to face, about his life, where he came from, and what he did in the War.

March 21st: Doctor Fries very quiet today. Looks so sad. Later his Daughter comes to visit him in school. I talk to her briefly. This is the anniversary of his wife 's death. Did not know, he had been married, and had a daughter. Heidi is a lovely girl, but thin and frail. I think she is ill. Fries must worry about her. I guess everyone has their problems. You would not know, to listen to the Doctor. He seems so happy most of the time.

Reads on.

.April 1st: Have got to take my hat off to Oswald. Has just been the victim of a cruel joke, and still is the first to try to help Harvey, who, again, has come to school with bruises. In a way, Oswald is just like Fries. He still gave extra tuition classes today, for two hours, after school. It is a pity he can't change his name. Cobblepot isn't exactly a name like Wayne or Dent.

April 10th: Just met the girl I am going to marry, Martha. She's new, and in the same year. Harvey introduced me to her. He is a good friend. If I had been him, I would have kept her for myself ! Am meeting her after school today.

April 15th: Martha says she wants to go steady. I have never felt this way. I really like her, and she likes me too ! But, I feel sorry for Harvey. Not spending as much time with him as I used to. He doesn't have a girlfriend, and must feel left out. Is acting a little strange. Things are a bit different now between us. Maybe this is normal. I must spend more time with him, maybe ask him to come with me and Martha, sometimes. Maybe Martha has a friend.

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