Awakened from yet another nightmare, Croc thinks back to the lonely life he has had, and how it turned him into the beast his is now. And soon he discovers the infuriating nature of his company in ...
I was back at school. I tried to get comfortable in my little chair, but I couldn't. The wooden seat was so hard. All the other kids were still laughing at me. Chuckling, sniggering, pointing and whispering. It was making me mad now. I gritted my teeth and scowled at them, letting out a little growl too. They backed away, like I'd just pulled out a gun or something. Teacher stood in front of me in a flash. I looked up at her ugly face the same way. If she wasn't going to leave me alone and stop people from making fun of me, then she deserved the same treatment. She slapped her ruler down on my desk like a guillotine, almost hitting my fingers. Fear was creeping up on me. She tried to swat me again, but I put my hands under my desk. She brought her face right up to mine, her cold blue eyes staring daggers into mine. She looked even uglier up close. I could see all the horrible parts of her face. Her pale skin, that pointy nose, that mole on her cheek, her wrinkled forehead, and those eyes that just kept staring into me. It felt like she was burning a hole in my soul through my eyes.
After a few seconds that felt like hours, I couldn't take it anymore. Anger, fear, guilt, it was all building up inside me and I snapped. I slapped her face away. I heard the collective gasp of all the other kids. I saw a little red mark. I had hurt her! I felt a little proud of myself, but my pride was almost instantly consumed by fear and guilt. The room started to get dark, and Teacher started to glow red. Her hands grew into claws around the ruler. Her bundled-up hair came free and started to move around on its own. She was still facing the other direction, so I couldn't see her face, but I could see her left eye. It burned white hot, and those fireballs she had for irises moved back over me like a demon looking at something to be punished. My legs didn't want to move, but I had to get away! I pushed myself out of my chair and fell to the ground. I looked up at the other kids. They were still staring at me, and they were changing now too, just like Teacher. I mustered up all my courage and stood up, heading straight out the door as I had before. This time I could hear the nonsense behind me. I looked back and saw everyone was following me, burning all the bushes and trees as their demonic forms chased me down. The nonsense sounded so deep, like the Devil himself was saying it. The sound was overwhelming me with guilt and fear and sadness. I wanted to go home!
I kept running, desperate to find my way back to the only safe place; my little house on the bayou. I ran as fast as I could, again passing the sign that told me I was going the right way. I slipped in the mud again, but my fear of whatever was in that mud and the monsters behind me only fueled me to go faster. It felt like my limbs were on fire, and my heart was about to burst out of my mouth from my heavy breathing. But soon enough I could see my house, silhouetted against the darkening sky. There was a light on in the window for me. I could hear the voices and monsters still following behind me and picked up the pace for the final stretch. The door opened and Auntie stood there, waving at me. Her wide shadow shone against the light coming from the house. Auntie would know what to do. She would know how to stop making me feel so bad! After what felt like miles, I ran up and grabbed her, wrapping my arms around her big poofy blue dress. It was so warm and soothing. The monsters and the nonsense faded away as I buried myself in the blue cloth.
When I looked up again, we were in the house and the lights were dimmed. I realized I was now laying on the floor, grabbing the edges of her dress that hung off of her big green comfy chair. I looked up at her. She was drinking something from a big brown bottle, and it was dripping down her face and staining her nice clean dress. I tried to ask her what she was doing and why. She wiped her mouth with her arm, dirtying the dress more and looked down at me. She... she looked just like Teacher had. She looked so angry, and her face started to change. She screamed at me, the nonsense! "NO!" I screamed. How could this be happening? It wasn't supposed to follow me here. Not here! Not the only place I'd be safe! I felt the wind knocked out of me as she kicked me away onto my back. I screamed at myself in my head to run away, but I couldn't. My arms and legs were frozen in fear, and guilt, and surprise at what had happened. I watched as Auntie lifted the brown bottle back to her face and emptied the black tar-like substance into her mouth, only making her change more.
She lifted her arm up to throw the bottle and I moved back to try and avoid it. The glass shattered into a million pieces all over the wooden floor, the sound echoing all around me as the shards just missed me. She stood up from the chair and started walking toward me, screaming that nonsense in her high-pitched voice and staring down at me with those burning white eyes. I turned and scrambled to my feet so I could run. But my legs were so tired I couldn't move right. I felt her kick me in the back and send me sprawling toward a doorway. I didn't want to go in there. It was dark. I turned to look up at her while laying on my left side, wanting to beg her not to do it.
But before I could say anything, her foot came up and kicked me in the chest, knocking all the air out of my lungs and rolling me over and over into the other room. I held my dizzied head and once again moved to lay on my left side to face her. The room was completely black; no light at all. I tried to get up, but suddenly everything was flipped; I wasn't laying down on the wooden floor of my house, I was leaning against the cold hard wall of a sewer. The water was deep and freezing. I couldn't see anything in front or behind me. There could be anything down here with me! Auntie stood over me through the doorway. The only light I could see was coming from the room behind her, and she was going to close the door; take away the light. Tears stung my eyes as my pleading drowned out the nonsense she was screaming. The last thing I saw was her horrible face staring down at me with those burning eyes before she shut the door, & all the light disappeared, leaving me alone in the darkness. Terror gripped me as all the light let go. I couldn't see. I was cold, and a tired, and frightened. I couldn't take my eyes away from looking straight ahead. There was something there. Something watching me from the blackness. I heard a low chuckle and saw an outline. It looked like a giant! I heard that horrible hiss, and saw the monster's massive arm reach toward me!
I snapped awake & sat up with a gasp. I breathed quickly for a few seconds, letting the terror of my nightmare work through me and fade away in the face of the real world. There didn't seem to be much of a difference between that darkness in my dream, and the darkness of this damn sewer. But it really was just another nightmare. I convinced myself of it. I laid my head back against the wall again. I was sitting on the walkway now, with my legs hanging over into the water like a bench on a flooded street. I barely remembered falling asleep. I'd just wanted to sit down and rest for a bit. This stupid darkness was playing Hell with my mind. I usually liked to stay out at night, where no one could see me, but even I could only last so long. For all I knew, I'd been down here for days already. And who knew how long my little 'naps' lasted. But I was awake now. Wide awake. And it was time to get moving. I had to get out of here. I slipped off the walkway back into the musty water. I hadn't been stupid this time. As tired as I was, I'd marked which way I was going this time. I raised my hand and ran it over the wall where I'd been sleeping. I felt the marks I'd made; an arrow pointing in the right direction. Good. I lowered my arm and slipped back down into the water, moving forward once again.
I thought back to the creature in my dream. I'd tried to block out most of my childhood memories, but I was certain I'd never found a monster before. Probably just a figment of my imagination. Everybody gets scared of the dark when they're stupid little kids. Besides, now I'm twice the size of whatever that was. I could probably take it. I imagined myself standing over the downed body of that shadow monster, with little me clinging to my leg. Me, a hero for once. But as big as I was, it still chilled my bones to think about it. Like some instinctual terror, the way deer fear wolves. I tried not to think about it, and doing so reminded me: I probably wasn't alone down here. I had to keep focused in case something decided to jump out at me. I came to another four-way intersection. As I turned to the left, making my mark, I thought of ways I could catch and kill whatever this thing might be. I had moves for just about any situation. I used to wrestle alligators after all, and they were mean sons of bitches. But I broke their backs, one after another, which was why I started calling myself 'Killer Croc.'
I tried thinking about my old moves in my head to keep focused, but they were practically second nature to me now. My mind wandered back to my dream; how sad I was to be locked down in the sewer. Jesus, that was a long time ago. I remembered the sewers being my best friend. I'd always hide in there when I was being chased. Nobody would follow me there. I remember I overcame my fear of monsters because it was such a good hiding spot. The rest of the world may have tried to fuck me over, but the sewers always welcomed me back. And that stayed true for pretty much my whole life. Every time something went wrong, I could climb right back down and be safe, and at peace. I remembered that one time after robbing a store, I found a secret underground highway in the sewers. And there were a bunch of homeless people living down there. Others who'd been screwed up and cast out by this twisted society. There were some good people down there. They weren't afraid. For once in my life, nobody hated me. Nobody was afraid or teased me. I even made a few friends among them. It was so great, I even thought about giving up crime for good. I could have lived my whole life down there with those people. People... just like me. Under the skin of course.
But then Batman found me, and screwed everything up! He couldn't leave well enough alone, could he? He had to track me down and ruin my one chance at a quiet life because I stole a few trinkets from a shopping mall! We must have scared the Hell out of those people when we fought. I wish I could remember their names. And then the sewers flushed out and nearly drowned everyone. Fortunately me and the Bat got everyone out all right. Even if I got swept away afterward, at least no one else had. I tried to find those people again. Those nice people. But I never did. They were gone. Probably shipped off to a shelter somewhere. I ended up just skulking around the alleyways for days. I tried to look for help, but everyone just screamed at me. Called me a monster. All those people, with their suits and ties, and fancy cars. People living the high life that most only dreamed of. People who could have anything they wanted, yet they were assholes with no compassion. No understanding or care beyond what they could see. They just...
I snapped out of my internal rant. I heard something. Something had splashed around just ahead of me. It was only for a second, but I know I heard it. I picked up my pace beneath the water, still trying to make as little noise as possible. I reached the intersection and made my way to the left again; the direction I'd heard the noise come from. As hard as I was trying to concentrate, I was so excited, so on-edge to finally find whatever was down here with me. I sniffed the air, and there was definitely a new scent, but I just couldn't place it. I didn't hear anything more as I approached the spot. Even the dripping off in the distance seemed to stop. I looked around, squinting furiously to try and see something; maybe a shifting shadow. Only then did my disadvantage occur to me. Whatever was down here, whatever could have survived to grow big enough to make those marks, could move around this place easily. It had to be able to see in the dark. So even if it was right in front of me, I wouldn't know it was there until it was too late.
Just then I felt something under the water. My heart practically thumped against my ribcage, thinking I'd bumped into the creature standing right in front of me. My foot had touched something big and hard. It felt cold like metal, still not completely warmed by the water around it. Without looking away from my surroundings, I reached down with my hand and grabbed the object. I was getting even more restless now, excited just to have finally found something down here! I ran my hand over it. It wasn't covered in muck like the rest of the bottom of the sewer, so it had to have been put here recently. I felt around it a little more and found that it was circular. A toilet seat, maybe? This was a sewer after all. I grabbed the object around the edge and lifted it up through the water so I could hold it comfortably with both hands. I rolled it over and over in my hands. It felt like steel. And there were screws... Ah, Jesus Christ, it was just my fucking collar! I'd gone in a complete circle! My lip twitched in frustration momentarily as I thought more carefully. I knew the sound had come from here. And it couldn't have just been my collar falling into the water; I'd dropped it in. So that meant whatever was down here must have been by here, just now! And it probably knew I was down here now, too if my claw marks hadn't already tipped it off.
I dropped the collar back down to the bottom of the water, and pressed onward at a slightly quicker pace. It had to have gone down the tunnel this way, otherwise I would have caught it. I was even more anxious now than before. I sniffed the air, and actually caught a scent! It was the same faint scent I'd smelled around the claw marks, but it was standing out more now. It was stronger, like I was getting close. Now I was hunting. I pushed myself through the water, trying hard to hold back from just standing up and dashing madly through the sewers after this thing. I felt something tap against the top of my right shoulder that just peeked above the surface of the water.
I almost hadn't felt it. I immediately stopped, again excited to finally find something. It couldn't have just been a rock, because it wouldn't be floating. I moved my right hand up through the water carefully, and slowly until I reached the surface just in front of my shoulder, feeling around just beneath the surface for the object. Until I found it. I was thin and long, or wide, and as I wrapped my hand around it, I felt a few sharp edges to it. Maybe the creature was a lizard, and this was a scale or a piece of shed skin. I brought it right up to my face so I could examine it with both hands while my eyes desperately scanned for anything that might point to the creature. This thing had curves on either end of it. I held it with both hands. It felt like it was actually even on both sides. The points and the curves were even, except for one point in the center. It kind of felt like a great big arrowhead. I grabbed the point at the bottom that sat in the exact middle and ran my hands over the...top... No fucking way. It couldn't be.
I held the object again in both hands so that I could feel all of it. It was. It was one of Batman's boomerangs. Now I recognized the scent. It was him! Batman was down here! But how? I'd blocked the entrance! Did he find another way in?! I felt my eyes widen in my skull, just thinking about everything this implied. He was down here. He must have followed me, maybe snuck in while I was sleeping. But why? He was running away from me back in my lair. He set the bomb and made the hole that dropped me down here in the first place... wait a second. He must have set this whole thing up! This thing could have made those marks on the wall, trying to imitate mine. And he could have released some kind of gas into the air down here to make me tired! My almost drowning, the sounds... He dropped me down here just so he could torment me; repay me for all the thing's I'd done. I'd heard of Batman interrogating and maybe even torturing people, but this was twisted. That sick fuck! He really was no better than the rest of the freaks in this place! My hands clamped over the boomerang imitating his bat signal; crushing, bending, warping, and snapping it to pieces in my rage. The sharp points pressing and cutting into my palms only made it more satisfying. It only made me hate him more. My teeth gritted tightly against each other, and I felt my face warp in cold, hard, fury. He would die for this.
I put the mangled thing to my nose and took a good whiff, enough to cement that scent in my brain so I could track him even through these black sewers. I lowered the thing back under the water to the rope that held my pants up as a makeshift belt, and secured it there, just in case I needed another whiff, or I decided to bludgeon the Dark Knight to death with his own toy. I moved forward more hastily this time. I could hear the water rippling lightly behind me, but my senses were higher than his, and I'd become accustomed to the silence here. He wouldn't be able to here me coming. He'd pissed it off, now it was time to feed the Croc. Tic-toc, Batman. Tic-toc.