Croc's nightmares and the reality of the dark sewers finally meet. And the resulting combination could prove maddening for Waylon Jones.
At first there was only darkness and pain. Like my head was being crushed under a steamroller. Then came the thumping. It was rhythmic; constant, but it sounded like it was being hampered. It sounded like my heartbeat. Between the thumps I saw flashes, like an old black-and-white movie. I saw all the children laughing at me, making fun of the way I looked and talked. I realized that they were hampered too. It was like someone turned the volume down. I saw my old teacher smacking me with her ruler. Then I was outside on the little playground. Everyone was staring at me, like I didn't belong. They started throwing things at me. Dirt, rocks, pencils, paper balls... I saw myself running away from them, but they were chasing me. My head felt like it was going to burst with the pain. But there was another kind of pain moving in. It felt strange, yet so familiar. I couldn't place it as my memories moved forward. I was running down the dirt path into the woods. I heard them screaming at me, and this strange pain started growing in my chest.
I ran down the path between the trees, pushing away the moss that fell down from the branches. When I came out of the trees, the sky was dark, and the screaming people were gone. I continued down the trail & soon I saw my little house, with the swamp off in the distance behind it. I followed the light glowing from the window, letting it guide me in. I opened the door, so happy to be home and away from those horrible people. But my happiness washed away when I saw Auntie sitting in her chair. She was drinking again. And from how many bottles there were on the floor, she'd been at it for a while. I tried to back out of the house slowly, so she wouldn't notice me. But she got up and grabbed my arm. I tried to pull away, but her free hand slapped me across the face. That strange pain was growing again, building up.
She screamed at me. I couldn't hear her between my heartbeat and the pain in my chest and head, but somehow I felt like I deserved it, and that pain grew again. I didn't want to look at her, so I just stared down at the ground. Partly because of the pain, and partly because she scared me. She slapped me again and pulled me into the house, muttering as she squeezed my arm. I felt like I couldn't control myself. I watched my feet as they looked like they were moving on auto-pilot over the wooden floor. She dragged me across the living room to the other doorway. Despite all this pain I felt hollow inside. I knew I didn't want to go in that room, but I couldn't resist her. I heard her growl and mutter something at me about teaching me a lesson as she pulled the creaky door open. She looked back at me, but I looked down again to avoid her eyes. She tightened her grip on my arm and pulled me in front of her before throwing me into the room. As I flew through the air, everything started spinning, causing my head to ache even more. Suddenly the wooden floor was gone, along with the furniture. Instead of landing on even ground I fell down, down, down into the blackness. I landed head-first in foul murky water, drifting down toward the bottom.
I opened my eyes again and lifted myself from the bottom to stand in the knee-high water, aware of the splitting headache that wall had given me. I was in the sewer again. This infinite darkness surrounded me just like the water did. What a nightmare, I thought as I raised a hand to my head to relieve the pain. I could see myself! I could see my soaked orange pants, my belt, and my hands. I looked up for the source of light and saw the doorway. Auntie was staring down at me, with those cold, uneven, disapproving eyes. It couldn't be real! Suddenly the light behind her brightened, forcing me to put my large hands up to protect my eyes. I light lowered again, and I pulled my hands apart to look through them. The doorway was still there, but it was steel this time. It had locks built into it and a little window in the top. It wasn't Auntie anymore, though. It was Cash. Suddenly I felt that pain return to my chest, stronger than ever. He stared down at me with a mix of fear and revulsion. He raised up his right hand for me to see. The hand that was now just a metal prosthetic claw. The light glinted off the limb and blinded me again. I raised my hands and again, the light lowered. But when I looked back up, there was no door. Just jagged rocks, like I was staring through a hole that wasn't meant to be there. And standing above it, staring down at me from beneath that black mask, was Batman. His eyes looked white, like a demon's eyes, staring coldly down at me with this hint of disgust. The pain in my chest grew as I stared into those eyes, like I was being drawn into a trance. I was afraid.
Suddenly everything shook like an earthquake. I fought to keep my balance, to keep looking up toward the light. Batman or not, I wanted to get out of here! They could keep me locked in the asylum, I just wanted to get out of these sewers! I heard stone crumbling up above and watched large rocks fall down from the ceiling above Batman. But they didn't fall through the hole. They just slammed into some invisible barrier and covered it. In just a few seconds, the shaking stopped. The rocks covered the hole, cutting off the light and throwing me back into darkness. No! I dashed forward to the wall where the hole had been, running my hands all over it to find a way through. But all I felt was the slimy, cold concrete. "No!" I screamed, banging my hands against the wall. "No, no, NO!" I repeated, pounding my fists against the wall attempting to break through. But all that did was knock bits and pieces from the ceiling and walls. The hole was gone, like it had never been there at all.
I backed away from the wall, my breathing panicked. Between my splitting headache, the sound of my heart beating a million miles an hour, my exhaustion, and this damn strange pain in my chest, I was in a frenzy! I fell backward on to the walkway and sat there, covering my face in my hands trying to get a hold on myself. What the Hell was going on?! Was I losing my mind? After all the years telling those quacks I wasn't crazy, was I finally being proven wrong?! I tried to calm my breathing down, but these strange mental and physical pains were driving me nuts! I was... I was afraid! I was scared out of my mind! My breathing was shallow, coming out in just gasps now. And my arms were shaking as I tried to handle myself.
And then the laughter started again. The cackling. It surrounded me. And I remembered. Scarecrow! Crane! He was doing this to me! It certainly felt like his twisted fear toxin. But it was more powerful than I'd ever imagined. All these different pains and feeling kept running through me like they were in my blood, filling me up. But as the laughing continued, I kept thinking back to Crane. And something familiar began working its way into my disoriented brain: anger. I felt myself shaking and lowered my hands from my face. My fingers twitched as I bared my claws. It felt like rage was taking everything I was feeling, and mixing it together in some kind of insane gumbo, and it was boiling up inside me. All I could think of was Crane. How he was laughing at me now, like everyone else had all my life. And then what I'd do to him. Kill him, break him, tear his flesh and watch him scream in I knew it I was on my feet, madly charging through the black sewers like a freight train. I heard the water erupting in my wake, washing over the sewers like a tidal wave. "CRAAAAAANE!" I roared, unable to hold myself back now. I charged through the sewers, slashing at the walls, ripping down pipes, shattering the concrete corners in search of the little monster who was torturing me. Thoughts of eating him invaded my mind. Biting him, ripping his flesh from his bones before breaking them in my teeth, letting his blood follow his skin down like gravy.
But my rage was slipping away, leaving me tired and aching. I slowed to a stop as everything I had just tried to run away from came back at me full-force. The headache, the shakes, my rushing heartbeat, and this horrible feeling in my chest! I stopped and fell down to one knee in the water, laying my arms down on the walkway. "What do you want from me, Crane?!" "You still think I'm that weakling Scarecrow?" My veins filled with ice at the response I hadn't expected. The voice was so deep, yet so raspy. "What?" was all I could manage to whisper. Despite how quiet I had been, the strange voice spoke yet again. "You really don't know who I am yet? You're dumber than I thought. Maybe this will help."
Suddenly I saw a flash that seemed to wipe everything away. When I blinked again, I wasn't in the sewer anymore. I was in a corridor in Arkham Asylum. The lights on the walls were flashing, indicating an emergency. I looked down at my hands, and saw they were covered with blood. Confused, I looked around for some sign of what was going on. As I looked to my left my eyes fell upon someone laying against the wall, breathing hard and screaming in pain. It was Aaron Cash. He was holding his right arm and shaking. It was covered in blood, with his hand hidden beneath his sleeve... oh no! I looked back down to my bloodied hands and saw the puddle forming on the floor. I saw my reflection in the velvet puddle. I had blood streaming down all over me... from my mouth. I gasped. But the instant I realized where I was, and when I was, the light flashed and I was back in the dark sewer.
"Remember me now?" asked the strange voice. But I was still in a panic, and could only guess. "C..Cash? You're doing all this?" I heard a low growl in reply before the voice spoke again. "Hrrr... I guess I'll just have to show you." Suddenly I heard splashing; footsteps in the water, just ahead of me. I looked up, not knowing what to expect. As if it were walking into a spotlight, the figure started to appear. The skin on its chest was sickly pale and patterned, like it just came of a waffle-iron. Its arms were huge and gray-green. The skin looked like it was made out of rock. It had huge claws coming from its ugly fingers. I followed the outline as the arms connected to giant broad shoulders, which connected to a short neck, which finally connected to a face. Its eye were small and yellow, glowing like a jack-o-lantern. It didn't have ears or a nose to speak of; like they were cut off from the coconut-shaped head. And its mouth was huge. It was spread wide open in a horrid grin, with teeth as long and sharp as razor blades. My initial terror was fading away, replaced with shock. I stood up and looked back at the monster. It was... me!
The massive jaws opened, and the cackling I'd been hearing escaped between the teeth, followed by the voice. "Hahahaha. Bingo" the creature said. As tortured and full as my mind was, it felt like it was twisting and contorting like a sponge being rinsed, trying to figure out what was happening. "I don't understand" I breathed somewhat calmly. "The claw marks..." I began. "They were yours, you fool. You were going in circles" it responded. I reached down to my belt and wrapped my hand around the bat-boomerang. But before I could even speak, it replied. "Batman threw it at your collar, and it got stuck there. It came out when you took it off, stupid." Suddenly it all seemed so clear. But this still didn't make any sense. "Who are you?" I asked, unable to think of anything else to say.
The creature with my face folded its arms at its chest and stared at me. "I'm you. I'm Killer Croc" It explained. This did nothing to ease my torment. The terrible feeling in my chest was growing again, thumping like my heartbeat. "No. I'm Killer Croc" I said, unsure of myself. "Hopefully you will be soon" the creature said. "What're you talking about?" "You're a monster, Waylon." The comment hit me like a brick to the face. "You're a monster, and it's time you realize it." This thing was starting to make me angry again. "You don't know anything about me!" I growled. "Oh, don't I? Come on, you know you love it. Killing someone; watching them die by your claws is more satisfying to you than anything." "LIAR!" I roared, throwing a punch to the left. It backed away, dodging my fist. I threw another to the right, but it grabbed my arm and kicked me hard in the gut, making me almost double-over in pain. I looked up again and threw my other hand at him. But he dodged again, leaving me to just punch the wall. I growled again as my anger boiled up.
"That's right, come on! Get angry! Let the real you out!" I pulled my fist out of the wall and tried to think through the tsunami of pain in my head. Getting angry was exactly what it wanted me to do. It was so strong and fast... I couldn't beat it in a fight. "Come on, Waylon..." it taunted. "Become the animal." I didn't know what to do. I couldn't think straight anymore. It was all just a blur of pain and fear. So I did the only thing I could think of. I turned and ran. "Aw, come on. You really think running will get you anywhere?" I heard it call after me as I rushed down the tunnels. There had to be some way out of here! There had to be a way out of this Hell! I turned a corner, but he was standing there waiting for me, leaning casually against a wall. "You can't run away from yourself, Waylon." I turned down another tunnel, desperate to get away from this... this... thing! But every word it said echoed down the tunnel, following me. It startled laughing again, cackling away at me. But soon it didn't sound like laughing anymore. It was just a blur of words that made that pain in my chest thump and burn. It was... the nonsense! No!
I thought back to my nightmares. Being chased away by everyone, screaming it at me. Auntie, Teacher, the kids, the people of Gotham, everyone! I thought back to everyone I'd killed; everyone I'd hurt. Cash, that doctor, those guards, even the kids that had made fun of me at school that I'd killed. Every single one! Even Batman. The pain built up in my chest like it was going to explode out of me as I ran. But I finally knew what it was. Guilt. I felt the heavy weight on my heart and my mind, putting my hands to the side of my head. "I'M SORRY!" I roared. "I'M SORRY FOR EVERYTHING I'VE DONE! I DON'T WANT TO BE A MONSTER!" "Oh, but it's too late, Waylon" came the voice from everywhere. "It's too late to apologize. You can't change who you are." I reached the end of the tunnel and turned to follow it to the left. But he was standing there, moving toward me. I stopped to face him, seeing that there was no way to avoid him. "All you can do is let it take you over. There's no fighting it." As I stared at this monster in front of me, this thing that I could not escape, everything seemed to weigh down on me. He was right. I couldn't go on. All the pain. and fear, and guilt from all the horrible things I'd done made me snap. I was too tired. Just too tired. I fell down to my knees in front of the creature. For the first time in the longest time, I felt warm tears fall down my scaly cheeks. "I... I just wanted to be normal. I just wanted to have a life like everyone else. I wanted to be respected like everyone else. I just wanted to be human."
I felt the creature move right up to me and place its clawed hand on top of my head. "And that's what makes you weak" it breathed in its deep raspy voice. I felt the hand clamp around my head before being kneed in the face, knocking me backwards into the water. "You want to be human?!" it growled angrily. I tried to raise myself back up. I made it to one knee before it wrapped its hand around my neck. "You want to be normal?!" It punched me in the chest, stealing my breath. "That's not how you get money! That's not how you get respect! That's not how you get power!" It lifted me up off my feet and growled as it through me down the tunnel to smash against a wall. Bits of the concrete plopped into the water as I tried to crawl away. I had to get away. I had to get out of here. I heard it splashing through the water a it came up behind me.
"In this world, you either live by their rules, or die by them." I felt it kick me in the side, knocking me against the wall. "And they've all ruled you out as a murderer. A cannibal. A monster." I climbed off the walkway into the water, and mustered everything I had left to stand up. Every muscle in my body screamed in pain. My mind was going numb with aching dizziness and fatigue. But I stood up anyway. I couldn't do anything else. There was no place left to run. "And that's the only way you're ever going to win, Waylon. Give up and accept it. Be the monster they all think you are. Be the monster everyone in this world KNOWS you are." Again I thought back to those kids, the citizens of Gotham, the doctors, Cash, the mob, even Batman. They all hated and laughed at him. He was right. I couldn't change anything. "All right. You win" I said. "That's right. That's a good Croc. Surrender to me. Surrender to the beast." I felt the creature's hands on my shoulders, followed by a strange sensation. It felt like he was... melding into me. I felt myself giving up. My thoughts of humanity were being drowned out by savage growls, killing instincts, and cannibalistic hungers.
But as I felt myself falling down into that deepest darkness, something strange began to happen. My memories ran over in my mind yet again, but they were different. I thought back to those people in the sewer. The only ones who didn't hate me. I thought back to the kindness they'd shown me; welcoming me down there, offering me a spot in their group, talking to me like I was just a regular joe, instead of a big hulking monster. I thought back to the people in the circus who took me in after I ran away from home, treated me like a brother. Like I belonged. They taught me about life, and living it. They taught me about good and evil. They taught me about love and... forgiveness. I remembered something the ringmaster once told me. "The path down the evil road is easy. The path back isn't quite as simple. But if you try hard enough; if you really want it, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. There's always forgiveness, even if it takes you down to the bowels of Hell itself. There's always a way back to the light. Who you are is your decision. No one else." I hadn't really understood what he'd said way back then, but those words definitely clicked in my brain now. I didn't have to be a monster just because that's what everyone thought of me. I could be whatever I wanted. My life was my choice, and I was making it.
I opened my eyes and stared back at the monster in front of me, grinning confidently. I lifted my aching right arm and grabbed its left wrist. I did the same with my left arm. "What are you doing?" it breathed. With all my might I pulled its arms out of me, breaking the connection before raising my leg and kicking it away from me, back into the water. It raised itself back up from the water to kneel in front of me, holding its chest. "How dare you!" it growled at me. "Game's over, creep. I win. You lose." "You can't defy me! You can't hold back what you really are!" I was tired of listening to this asshole talk. "What I am is what I want to be. Nothing else. And definitely not you. At least, not anymore. You freak." Its yellow eyes widened and began to glow red. Its claws grew and curved, and its scales grew jagged and sharp. "FREAK, AM I?!" It came at with with an angry grunt, but I managed to lock my hands with its. As I stared into those evil red pits, I felt something new growing inside me. It pushed aside my guilt and my pain, filling me with something positive I couldn't describe. "I'm your inevitable conclusion, Waylon. I'm the ultimate you!" It grunted through its teeth at me, trying to break my grip. But I held strong. "Maybe. But that's my choice!" I pulled both my hands to the left along with its, and smashed my head into its face, sending it reeling backward. It hurt like a motherfucker, but I pushed through it. I had to win this.
It growled and punched me in the side of the face. I grabbed its wrist and threw a punch right back, knocking it into the wall. It leaped at me, jaws wide open. I let training kick in. I dodged to my left, lifting my right arm so its head went beneath my arm. I brought it back down and wrapped it around its head, trapping it. I grabbed its shoulder with my left hand and lifted it off the ground just high enough to turn and swing it through the air and release it. I felt the tunnel shake around me with the force, feeling and hearing chunks of concrete fall from the walls and ceiling. As it pulled itself away from the wall, great big slabs and chunks of the concrete came off the wall, falling into the water. Its breathing was ragged, and its growls were strained by pain. I back up to the opposite wall, putting my right put against the walkway. I reached down to my belt and grabbed the warped bat-arang, holding it like a knife in front of me. The creature looked up at me. "What are you doing?!" I braced myself before replying. "Choosing!" I roared as I kicked off the wall and charged forward, smashing my shoulder and stabbing the jagged bat-arang into this monster with my face. But as we both crushed against the concrete wall, I felt something was wrong.
The wall gave way under the force, sending us both through it into a blinding light. I felt myself falling through the air, and heard the nonsense once more; some strange, loud sound coming from below. I tightened my grip around the beast in my grasp. "If I must go to Hell, I'm taking you with me!" Only seconds after speaking, I felt myself smack into something hard below me. All sound disappeared as I felt burning all around me. But after a few seconds, the sensation became familiar, and I opened my eyes. This wasn't Hell. And I wasn't burning. It was the ocean, and I was freezing! I looked around the watery depths to find the creature I had been fighting. Seeing nothing, I gave up and swam to the surface, breaking through the top of the water and taking in a deep breath. Suddenly the world came back to me. I could smell the salty sea air; hear the waves crashing; see the lighthouse turning around and around to guide ships into safe harbor. But I was still bewildered. What happened to me?
I looked up at the wall of rock that served as a cliff at the edge of the island. There was a hole maybe fifty feet above the water. It must have been a weak wall, built decades ago before the sea eroded the rock away from the island. But I didn't think on it long. I was FREE! Free at last! I felt so happy, I could have hugged Batman if he were here. Well, maybe not. But it felt so good! I felt like I was alive again. The cool ocean was such a relief from the dingy, musty tunnels. It felt good to see light again; to see the moon again! I leaned backward to float on my back and began to laugh. I was so happy, I couldn't think of anything else to do! I just laid there and started to lazily backstroke away from the island.
As I began to calm down, I looked up to see the docks of the island behind me to my right. I saw the flashing blue and red lights of the Gotham PD. Thankfully I was too far away for them to see me as I hefted myself up to sit on a rock sticking up from the water. Never had I been so happy to see lights! Especially those lights! That must mean that Joker's plan failed again. I knew it! I knew that loon wouldn't pull it off! I lifted my left fist into the air with a whoop. As I brought it back down to my side, I remembered I was still holding something. I opened my hand and looked down at the twisted bat symbol. I realized that I was actually CHEERING for BATMAN. I couldn't help but chuckle to myself at the irony. After everything, he had kind of saved me in that darkness. And now that I felt guilty about all the things I'd done, I realized something. The Bat wasn't just some asshole out to ruin my day. He was just doing the right thing. He ALWAYS did the right thing. He always stopped us crooks and sent us back to where we belonged. And as much as he had the option, and as much as we probably deserved it, he never killed us. He always let us live to see the error of our ways, probably hoping we'd correct them some day. And for that, I kind of... admired him, as fucking strange as it was to admit. Batman had my respect.
I raised the trinket into the air by one of the wings, the way he did. "Well, here's to you, Batman. You finally got a winner." I chuckled. Hearing those words coming out of my mouth was just so God damn weird! But then again, a lot of things had changed in that sewer. I felt proud of myself for the first time in years. I'd gone through Hell and came out a new, better man. I wasn't about to turn hero or anything. Maybe I'd just try to find a bodyguard job or something. Something out of Gotham to get me back on my feet. One step at a time, I thought. One step at a time. I tucked the bat-arang back into my belt before hearing a loud noise, like exhaust from an engine. I suddenly saw something hover over the island. Something black. I watched as a rope fired up to it, and something flew up into it. Batman! I quickly heaved myself off the rock and back into the water as the thing took off toward me. I moved down below the surface as I watched the Bat-plane-jet-thing fly over my head, speeding back toward Gotham like a bullet. The man never slept. I shook my head in a strange approval.
As I began to make my way back toward the surface, I saw something floating above me. It looked like a box or a container of some kind. From what I could see, it had some kind of writing on the side written in pink or purple, like a label. I swam back up to the surface and reached out my arm, grabbing the object; whatever it may be.
A/N: Well, here it is folks. The end. Sorry about the length, but this was a pretty epic ending. I wish I could have chopped it up, but that would have screwed up all my hard work on the tension. Yeah, the ending is really OOC, but if you've read this whole thing, you really can't expect someone who'd lived through all this just to go straight back to a life of crime! Besides, this is just for the video game universe.
Anyway, thanks a lot for reading my Killer Croc fan-fiction! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It's been a lot of fun writing for DC for a change, not that I'd like to make it permanent or anything. So, yeah. Thanks a lot, and have a nice day!