I was sitting at my desk at school, squirming against the hard wooden chair. My clothes felt uncomfortable against my skin. My bow-tie was choking me, so I put my finger into my collar and tried to loosen it. Didn't work. I looked up, and everyone was staring at me. They were laughing, and smirking, and pointing at me. Teacher looked really mad. I froze in fear as she picked up her ruler and came at me. She slammed it on my desk, screaming something I couldn't understand. She tried to slap my hands, but I pulled them away. She tried to swat me in my head, but I ducked. Suddenly her face was right in front of me, staring into my eyes, still screaming nonsense. I felt frightened and guilty, like I'd done something wrong. I jumped out of my chair and ran out of the little schoolhouse. I ran down the dirt road toward the safest place I could think of: home. But the road was so long, and my legs were already hurting. I passed a sign. I couldn't read it, but I knew I was going the right way.
Suddenly I felt like I'd stepped in jello, and I fell flat on my face. I got up and heard it again. That nonsense. I looked back and saw the other kids from school. They were chasing me, throwing rocks and sticks while screaming that nonsense! I couldn't understand it, but it was making me feel so sad and guilty. I just wanted it to go away! I got up and ran, but it felt like I was running through muck; I wasn't going as fast as I should have. It was getting dark now, and the voices were going away now too but I kept running. Finally I saw my house. The light from the window looked like a lighthouse, guiding me in. But as I ran, the ground seemed to fall out from under me, like I was running through jello again. I tried, but I couldn't lift myself up. I felt my legs being pulled down by something... something big that growled and hissed. I tried to hold myself above the thick muddy ground, but I couldn't. My house was disappearing, and everything was going black, save for the bright yellow candle light in the window. I tried to scream for help, but I felt the mud filling my mouth, choking me! I tried and failed to struggle & swim as I sank all the way down into the warm darkness.
I snapped my eyes open and realized I couldn't breath! I jerked my head upward out of the water and started gagging, feeling like I was about to throw up. I groped around trying to find something to hold on to while my feet tried to stay balanced. I grabbed something hard and flat. I opened my mouth as wide as it would go, feeling like something was jammed down my throat waiting to get out. I coughed and hacked, finally feeling the water gushing out of me as my lungs filled with air again. I was breathing hard and quick, trying to find out what the fuck was going on. I couldn't see anything! I was blind! No! I slid my hands over the flat surface and up the wall. It felt like it was curving over my head! I turned to try and move and heard the water splash around me. My head was spinning like I just came out of a tornado, so I held my hand to my head and quieted down. I heard dripping from somewhere. Drip...drip...drip. I blinked, and remembered where I was.
I was in the sewer. The deep sewers beneath Arkham Asylum. I was trying to get Batman, and fell down that hole. My memories coming back only worsened my headache. I clamped both my hands against my head, squeezing it hard before releasing it. It felt a little better, but only a little. I stood there for a minute and leaned my left hand against the wall to hold my balance and catch my breath. I felt a little dizzy, but it passed after a minute or two. What the fuck had happened to me? The last thing I remembered was lying down for a nap. My dream was as plain as day in my head. My nightmare that I'd had so many times. I was falling down into some mud. Couldn't breath. And that was how I'd woke up. I must have slipped off the little walkway and fallen into the water. I was breathing hard as I pieced everything together in my head. But my breathing was still difficult. My bow-tie? I raised my free hand to my neck and felt the steel. Duh. The collar, idiot. I was still wearing it. I could feel the chain wagging against my chest. I felt like a dog on a leash. This thing had to have lost its charge by now. I took my hand away from the wall, finally feeling balanced, and felt my way around the collar to the sides. I wrapped my fingers around the bolts keeping the collar together and began unscrewing them. This thing was really choking me. How come I didn't notice this before? As my hands turned with my fingers, I heard my wrist chains swinging and rubbing against my sides. They'd have to go next.
After a few minutes or so, the bolts couldn't loosen any more, so I lifted the collar up, and slipped my head through it. As I breathed my first fresh breath of freedom, I felt something fall out from between my neck and the collar and make a small plop as it landed in the water. Probably just a rock or something from when I fell. I threw the collar down next to where I'd heard it land, and rolled my head around my shoulders. Aaaaah, finally free. It felt good to stand up straight again. I reached up toward the ceiling and stretched, cracking a few spots in my back. I heard the chains dip into the water as I lowered my arms again, reminding myself that I wasn't quite free yet. I wrapped my left hand around the leather strap on my right and tried to budge it. Damn, it was really tight! It barely budged against my skin. I felt downward and grabbed the chain hanging off of it, but there were only two or three links; not long enough to get a good grip. Shit. I thought about trying to bite it off, but I was already getting hungry, and I didn't want to excite my appetite more. Leather reminded me of beef. Fuck it. They didn't make that much noise. I'd take 'em off when I got out of here.
That brought me back to focus. I still needed to find a way out. I moved to take a step forward, but I stopped. I had thrashed a bit when I woke up. Which way was I facing? I looked back and forth reflexively, forgetting that I couldn't see anything anyway. I moved to both of the walls, looking for an arrow or something I may have left myself. Nothing. Damn it. Maybe I was stupid or something. I knelt down into the water in either direction, feeling with my hands for footprints or something I may have left at the bottom. Again, nothing. Shit! I lifted myself back up, scratching the back of my newly-freed neck. I guessed I'd just have to start walking again; see if I could find one of my claw marks. Again, I went with my gut and turned around, submerging again into the calm, warm water and moving forward.
Speaking of my gut, I was getting really hungry now. It only made it worse not knowing just how long it had been since my last meal. Just another side of beef. But it hadn't tasted bad. It had a lot of good fatty bits to it. The muscle was nice and tough, too. I just wish it hadn't been so cold. It couldn't kill those guards to heat them up before feeding me. It couldn't, but I could. I imagined myself in that room next to the freezer where they kept the meat, just before my lair. I imagined them cowering in fear, looking up at me and shooting at me with their little guns. My hide was tough. It took quite a few shots for me to bleed. I'd rip all of them apart before they could do any real damage. And then there was Cash. Aaron Cash. Prick. He was an asshole before I got his hand, and he's an asshole now. As good as it was to have some fresh meat, eating his hand probably wasn't the best way to show these clowns that I wasn't crazy. Or at least it might have earned me fewer electrical shocks.
I thought back; when was the last time I had a nice, hot, prepared meal? I'd been in this place so long, it was hard to tell. I thought back to a good chicken dinner I had once when I first moved to Gotham. Damn good. So thick and juicy. There was mashed potatoes and gravy to go along with it, too. The potatoes were fluffy, yet just a little thickness to them, like I liked. Felt like real mashed potatoes; not that paste shit most people eat. And that gravy was fantastic, too. Had just the right amount of thickness so it didn't run all over, and it tasted soooo good with everything. I thought I'd asked the waiter what kind it was. What was it? I remember him coming up to the table and giving me that look; the look everyone gives me the first time they see me. He looked like he would have pissed himself & screamed if we hadn't been in a nice fancy place. Jesus, I remember I was wearing a suit & tie. I hadn't felt that in forever. Had it really been that long? I returned my thought to the waiter. I probably looked even weirder, a big mug like me in a suit and tie probably looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. Hehe. I remember laughing at him when he left, but what was the gravy?!
Upon hearing my stomach rumble, I decided to drop it. Thinking about what you can't have only makes you want it more. I stopped moving and decided to stretch a little. I bent up and back a bit before stretching my arms out for the wall. The wall. I straightened myself up and realized the wall was gone! I felt around me in a circle, finally finding a corner. I almost passed right through an intersection without knowing it! I stepped backwards so that I was between two walls again. I felt the corners, but didn't find any of my claw marks. It was good; I hadn't been this way before. I was heading in the right direction. But I thought back. It felt like I'd been thinking about food for a while. Could have been ten minutes, could have been an hour! Who knows how many junctions I could have passed without noticing?! This fucking darkness! In another fit of anger, I bashed my hand against the wall to my right. I put my hands together & smashed them into the wall again. I could feel chunks falling out of it against my blows, and it made me feel good; made me feel like I had power again, and after a few hits I started to calm down again.
I moved my hand over the wall, seeing the impression I'd made. That would work for a mark. But just in case, I moved back a bit and made another mark on the opposite wall rather than the corner, to make sure if I came back this way, I'd know I'd been in this direction. After I finished, I moved forward into the intersection. Hmm. Which way? After all the turns I'd taken, I couldn't remember my bearings anymore. The edge of the island could be anywhere. Well, duh, it was an island. There were edges in all directions. But which way led back to Gotham? I honestly couldn't tell. I didn't even have an inkling. Shit. Well, if I kept going in one direction for long enough, I was bound to get somewhere. I turned to the left and made my way to the corner to make my mark. But as my hand moved over the stone, I felt something. An indent or something. I moved both my hands over it, blind as I was. They felt huge; like giant tally marks or something. But they were sideways; longways. They felt like claw marks! Could they be mine? I moved back to the other wall and moved back and forth, comparing. It was possible. But these were a lot bigger. At least they felt that way. And it didn't feel at all like I had come this way before; crossed this intersection.
A strange thought began creeping its way into my head. I couldn't be a hundred percent sure, but these claw marks didn't feel like mine. So that meant that something else must have made them. And that meant there was something else down here with me. The marks didn't feel very old. A few hours... maybe a day or two? I couldn't really tell without seeing them. They could have been mine, and that would mean I was lost. Or they could be from something else, and I wasn't alone. And in bad situations, its best to think about the worst conditions. I was lost AND not alone. But what could possibly be down here after so long? I shifted my feet a bit below the water, and heard something. A faint sound. I thought I heard water move off in the distance. I couldn't tell where, but something had moved. I again looked all around, as if I weren't completely blind. "Who's there?" I said, barely more than a whisper. My raspy voice made it sound like the low hum of an air conditioner. I said it again, louder this time. "Who's there?" I'd said it a little louder than I'd wanted. My deep voice echoed around me through the tunnels. There was no response. I thought back to my dream for a split second. I remember feeling something pulling me down into the mud. Something big, that growled and hissed. Maybe drowning wasn't the only thing that had happened in my dream and real life.
I suddenly got a hold of myself. Was I feeling... fear? Me? Afraid? I'm Killer Croc! I almost became the kingpin of crime in Gotham City! I broke alligators in half with my bare hands! I'd fought Bane twice and tangled with Batman dozens of times! No giant fucking sewer rat was going to keep me down, much less scare me. Last time I checked, I could bench press seventy tons. No big genetic screw-up from the sewers could stop that! I thought back to all the guards I'd beaten and killed in this place, thinking back to Cash again. And Cash's hand. I heard my stomach growl again, and got an idea. If there really was something down here, I'd have something to eat. Cool. I chuckled to myself and lowered back down into the water. I sniffed the surface of the water, trying to find any scents. I sniffed around the claw marks too. I could smell something, but I couldn't pick it out. It was mixing in too well with the musty scent of the water and the slimy walls. Oh well. Either I'd find it, or it would find me, or I'd find my way out of here before either. It was good all around. Confident again, I decided to make my move. I followed the claw marks to the left. It would either lead me to my prey, or back to my marks. And I was already lost, so it didn't really matter. If anything, things just got a little more fun. I lowered myself back under the water and moved forward, this time trying to be as quiet as possible.