“My Greatest Weapon Is Your Terror”
(Read more about Batman here)
Written for J.I. Rogers’ Six Word Story Challenge “Fear”
“No Superpowers; Still The Greatest Superhero.”
Happy Father’s Day! 😀
Bruce sat along with his guests in the living room. There was a deathly silence in the room. No one was uttering a word from their mouth. The guests’ eyes moved back and forth, trying to catch each other but trying to avoid Bruce’s piercing gaze. After Alfred had been declared dead, Bruce had activated the lockdown again. He had made it clear to his guests that no one was leaving until the murderer was caught. His guests had been wise not to protest. Bruce had led them to the living room and asked everyone to take a seat. He sat in his armchair and tried to decipher if his guests were involved in the death of Alfred just by looking at their faces. He soon realized this would not work and he decided to break the silence.
“Now, if any of you had any hand or even a finger in the murder of my butler, I want you to confess right now. I promise I will simply hand you over to the police. But, if I decipher it later, there will be no police and no justice. It will be just you and me, and nothing will stop me.”
L gave Bruce a smirk.
“Mr. Wayne, I understand how you must be feeling right now. But, you cannot hold us here as prisoners, you know. I can make one call from my cellphone and have the cops come here.”
Bruce looked L straight in the eye.
“I knew that was a possibility, so I have already jammed your phones. You cannot have any contact with the outside world until the killer is caught.”
L held Bruce’s gaze evenly. Sherlock cleared his throat.
“Bruce, there was a lockdown that was initiated here previously this evening. Only you or Alfred could have initiated it, since there is no one else here. Definitely not one of us. Now, Alfred is dead and you would not have initiated a lockdown for no reason. So, we could continue being suspicious of each other or accept the possibility that there is another person in this house. The person because of whom the lockdown was initiated and the person who killed Alfred is still somewhere in this house, trapped with us.”
Shaggy laughed nervously and whispered to Scooby.
“More like, we are trapped here with him.”
Sherlock ignored the comment and addressed the detectives in the room.
“We are all under suspicion here, even you Mr. Wayne. Anyone could be an accomplice to the killer here, or maybe even the killer himself. So, if we work together, we can keep an eye on each other and solve the murder case as well. What say?”
Everyone nodded in agreement. Bruce got up from his place.
“Very well, we shall work together. But, since you know my secret I think we should all be on level ground here. I have been keeping a tab on all of you. Let me start with you Sherlock. Wasn’t Irene Adler just a red herring for Watson? You never wanted him to suspect that you had the hots for him and have been jealous of his wife.”
Sherlock turned a deep shade of red. Without waiting for a response, Bruce continued the expose.
“L, you have been known to aid various police departments in apprehending criminals by solving unsolvable cases. But, you also have cut a lot of deals with the criminals, keeping the truly dangerous ones hidden away, until a case carrying renown turns up, and only then you miraculously solve it and apprehend the ones you shielded yourself.”
L sank back into his chair, pinching hard on his lower lip and gazing into distance. Bruce turned towards Inspector Clousseau.
“Now, my French Inspector. You managed to prevent the robbery of the Pink Panther on multiple occasions, even managed to recover it several times. This made you a hero in the eyes of the French population. But, what they do not know is that it was not you who managed to pull off these feats. There were others who did the hard work, but you managed to steal their glory and take all the credit, taking harsh steps to silence the ones who did their duty.”
The French Inspector began fidgeting with his fingers and turned his eyes away from Bruce. Without stopping, Bruce turned to Shaggy and Scooby.
“You are both renowned paranormal investigators. You claim to see ghosts and communicate with them, this the general populace knows. But, do they know that these ghosts and apparitions you have claimed to see are actually hallucinations? Hallucinations caused by those Scooby Snacks you keep munching on.”
Shaggy and Scooby hugged each other as their shivering resumed. Satisfied with the effects his words had on his guests, Bruce got up from his seat.
“Now, I think we are all in a position to work together. Everyone knows each other’s secrets, so we now have leverage over everyone, and hopefully some trust as well. Let us study the crime scene, there are bound to be clues there.”
Everyone murmured in agreement. All the guests were shocked after listening to their hidden truths. With their masks torn off, they felt naked in the gaze of everyone. But, they found their courage in the fact that everyone was in the same boat, and the only way they could get out of this situation, was by working together. They made their way to the scene of the crime. Bruce was not wearing his bat-suit and knew he could not access it without leading the others to the bat cave. He realized he only had his raw-detective skills and smarts to depend on. His huge array of gadgets, save his scanner, were of no help here. Sherlock took the lead while entering the room. He hated other people defiling the crime scene. As he entered, he noticed the body was lying as it was, but there was something new at the crime scene. A page was lying next to Alfred. Sherlock gingerly picked it up, not to touch the dead body. He saw that the page had a note scribbled on it.
Greetings great Detectives,
I hope you are enjoying your evening in Wayne Manor. I wanted to join in on the fun. So, consider this dead old butler my invitation card to your party. Well, it is also a challenge. I am here in this very manor. Prove to me that you are indeed the greatest detectives alive (for now). You have the entire night to solve this challenge. Figure out who I am, and I shall concede defeat.
PS- Don’t let your guard down, that would be a fatal error.
PPS- Let me give you a hint – We have met.
Sherlock read out the message to the others and passed it around for everyone to read. While people took their turns reading and observing the note, others tried to find clues on and around the body. After looking around for a good fifteen minutes, the detectives decided to take a break. Inspector Clousseau wiped his brow with his handkerchief.
“Eet eez not pozzible. Zere waz no cloo we could find.”
Sherlock shook his head sideways.
“Gentlemen, I think we have been directing our efforts in the wrong direction. Clearly, the murderer is smart. He wants us to play the game his way and purposely left the note next to Alfred. That would mean there is a clue in that note.”
L held the note in one hand and pointed at it with the other.
“This name, Chuckles. Does it ring any bells?”
My interest in whodunits was developed after reading Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. This interest developed into admiration after watching films on the genre. But, it was the parody movie Murder by Death that got me into wanting to write something of that sorts. The Whodunit Short Story Series is what my mind churned out. Readers, I hope you like it. Please let me know your thoughts about it. Happy Reading!
Note: It may be possible that characters here might be unfamiliar to you. In that case it is recommended you read about the characters( I have provided the links to their wikis) in order to get a better understanding of this series. Thanks!
The Wayne Manor was well lit for a change this night. Instead of the dead silence of the night, jazz music reverberated through the dining room. The air was filled with the aromas of the various treats Alfred had prepared for the guests. Guests were another rare occurrence in the manor and Alfred was pleased at their presence. He was of the opinion that his Master Bruce needed to spend some time in the company of normal folk. Well, these people were almost normal. All of them were detectives, but not the kind Master Bruce was used to. These were the kind of criminal-catchers who investigated crimes. Not the kind of people who beat up criminals and risked their lives every day (or night in Master Bruce’s case). No super human kind either, just simple humans. Alfred thought this was a shade better than hosting The Justice League, in fact, many shades better.
“Alfred, could you serve the Hors d’oeuvres?”
Alfred picked up the plate of baked mushrooms and walked towards the dining room.
“Coming, master Bruce.”
Bruce Wayne, billionaire-playboy by day and vicious crime-fighter by night, had donned a tuxedo instead of a bat-suit this night. He was seated at the head of the dining table. Also seated at the table were his guests for the night – Sherlock Holmes, L Lawliet, Inspector Jacques Clouseau, and Scooby and Shaggy. All of them were detectives of great repute. Sherlock Holmes was the indisputable best ‘consulting detective’ in the world. L Lawliet or L as he was known around the world had cracked many-a-case that had befuddled police departments all over. Inspector Clouseau, The Hero of France, was credited with solving the robbery cases of the exquisite Pink Panther. Scooby and Shaggy were the foremost authorities around cases revolving around the paranormal. The guests were uncomfortably eyeing each other. Bruce decided to bring the dinner to order.
“My guests, you are the top detectives in the world, today. I decided to invite you all to dinner in order to have a discussion among detectives – Insights into crimes and certain interesting cases. Please enjoy the delicious dinner my butler Alfred has prepared, and I hope it compliments our conversation.”
Alfred walked into the room and served everyone a portion of the baked mushrooms.
“Baked mushrooms, sirs.”
No sooner had Alfred served Shaggy and Scooby than they had gobbled up the contents of their plates. Alfred looked at the duo in distaste.
“I shall get more. Enjoy!”
Alfred left the room to set the next course in order.
Sherlock Holmes had been eyeing the room the entire team.
“I must say this room is quite not what it used to be. It has been hurriedly cleaned, most probably to prepare for this party. However, that haste has left much dust and grit in certain locations it takes ages for such dust and grit to build up. I suspect this room does not see much use, Mr. Wayne. “
“Perfectly deduced, Mr. Holmes. I see the legends are quite true.”
Homes acknowledged with a nod and proceeded to smell the glass of wine held in his hand.
L, who was sitting on his chair in the most peculiar manner – in the ‘Indian Style’, left his glass untouched. He cocked his head towards Bruce.
“Mr. Wayne, I don’t see why you would want to play host to us detectives. We cannot share the details of criminals with an aristocrat such as you. I cannot see what you seek to gain. Unless you want to buy information of some kind from us, you would not have hosted us. Am I correct?”
Bruce narrowed his eyes.
“Come now Mr. L, you don’t really think everyone is quite as nefarious as your Kira now, do you? Besides, I’m sure you jested when you said you cannot share information with a fellow detective. ”
“I never said I would not share it with fellow detectives. I said I cannot share it with you, as you are no detective.”
Bruce laughed hard.
“Do you mean to say you can only speak if my alter-ego is present?”
All guests looked quizzically at their host. Bruce stopped laughing.
“Do you really want me to get into my batman costume and then join dinner?”
Inspector Clouseau’s eyes widened.
“Meezter Wayne, does eet mean you are ze Batman. “
Bruce stood up from his chair.
“Of course, I’m batman. I’m sure all of you knew that.”
Bruce’s guests looked at each other and then at Bruce and nodded their heads to their sides. Bruce dropped in his chair.
“So, none of you had figured this out. I can’t believe you do not keep tabs on the World’s Greatest Detective. I had expected you all to have uncovered my secret and kept it that way because of detective’s code of honor and of course, because you all are afraid of me.”
Scooby Doo howled.
Shaggy petted him on his head.
“There there Scoobs. I like..agree with you. Scooby and I are afraid of the Batman. Bats are so scary.”
L put his right thumb on his lower lip. He tended to do that when he began thinking. Sherlock kept his wine glass down.
“First, Mr. Wayne, I did not know about your secret because I do not think you are as important a person to keep tabs on. Second, I believe you wrongly used the title of the Greatest Detective for yourself. It belongs to me.”
He sat down and began picking on his mushrooms, smelling them before putting them in his mouth. Inspector Clouseau drained his glass of wine and stood up.
“Eet eez an hhonour to meet ze Batman. I waz too beezee with ze Pink Panzther caze, so did not inveztigate you.”
Bruce poured himself another drink and drained it instantaneously.
“I think we need something stronger than wine to get through this night. Alfred, get me a bottle of scotch from the cellar.”
At that moment the lights went out. The entirety of Wayne Manor was swept over by darkness. The silence was abruptly ended by a siren going off and the windows and doors being shut.
The guests at the table were taken aback. Shaggy and Scooby grabbed on to each other. Sherlock shouted over the siren’s sound.
“Mr. Wayne! What is going on?”
At that moment, the siren stopped blaring.
“Mr. Holmes, my house seems to be on lockdown. I’m sure the lockdown will be lifted as soon as the power kicks in. It won’t be long.”
Alfred dashed into the room, candlestick in hand.
“Master Bruce, I’m afraid there is some bad news. Our power grid is out and the backup power is not kicking in. We have no electricity as of now. All our systems are offline and the lockdown will stay put.”
“Don’t worry, Alfred. I’ll check it out and fix it. Till then I would want you to show our guests to their rooms. I request all of you to retire to your rooms for a while. I will have the power up and running in no time. Dinner will be delayed though, I do apologize.”
All of Bruce’s guests grumbled about the situation and that they understood the delay, but followed Alfred to their rooms. Bruce made his way to the generator room through the secret passage activated by his grandfather clock. He began fixing the problem. Alfred arrived there after a while.
“Ah! Alfred, were all the guests shown to their rooms?”
“Of course, sir. I trust the power will be up in no time?”
“Yes, Alfred. It won’t be long.”
“Very good, sir. I’ll head back to the kitchen and fix up what I can for dinner. I don’t think our guests would be too happy if dinner isn’t ready by the time the lights are back on.”
“Right you are, Alfred. I am confident your cooking will not be affected much by the lack of electricity.”
Alfred headed back.
“Don’t count on that, sir.”
A good half an hour had passed before Bruce had finally got the power up and running. He decided to check up on Alfred first. Bruce headed up the stairs and made his way to the kitchen. By this time, all the guests had also made their way to the kitchen, probably led by their stomachs. As they reached the dining room a foul sight met their eyes. Alfred was lying on the kitchen floor. Bruce rushed up to Alfred and removed his Bat-scanner from the pocket. He detected no vitals on Alfred.
All the detectives shouted together in shock.
To be continued……