An update long in coming: the artist I had originally partnered with started posting pages for this story on BOF. I haven't asked him about posting it here, but if I get the OK, I'll stop posting script elements and start posting his pages. For now, here's the next bit:
INT. ARKHAM ASYLUM LOBBY – LATER THAT DAY
(The lobby is the only part of Arkham that seems human. It is clean, white, and neat. BRUCE WAYNE sits impatiently, eyeing a stack of old magazines as if unsure how to begin the cliché of reading them. He is spared the effort when a NURSE steps over to him.)
Dr. Crane will see you now.
(BRUCE is led down the halls to the door to CRANE’s office. It is open. There sits DR. CRANE, with the same dead eyes and same rat hair. BRUCE is frozen; that is his DR. CRANE!)
Well, well, well. Bruce Wayne. The prodigal son returns. Come in, boy, come in. I don’t have much time to spare.
(BRUCE is still frozen. The NURSE gives him a slight nudge, and he finally makes his way into the room, sitting down across from CRANE, who wears his curious, joyless smile.)
It’s been almost thirteen years, hasn’t it? I lost track of you after you left the country. I’ve been quite disappointed in you, I must say. A dreary blue blood sitting in on boardroom meetings and throwing money towards charitable causes and inspiring politicians? You had such a talent for the power of fear. And such anger at something. I was so sure you’d find a role to play to make use of your…unique talents.
(BRUCE shifts uncomfortably; what is his old teacher getting at? And besides…)
I thought you were dead.
But still so direct. The reports were greatly exaggerated, as it goes. Here I sit, a new addition to the Arkham family, studying the fears of the criminally insane.
Right. But you agreed to see me.
I always have time for patients and old students, especially those with such morbid and fascinating pasts as yours. What can the good doctor do for you?
(BRUCE is frozen again; CRANE is alive?)
Nightmares. I’ve had nightmares.
A rather dull ailment, but interesting if they’re from your mind. Are they anything like the ones you used to have in your college days? I’ve quite a memory, you know. Falling pearls, spilt popcorn, horrid cries and a sinister saying – and what else? Some sort of monster. A bat, perchance?
(BRUCE freezes yet again. What did he mean by that?)
(A welcome interruption comes in the form of a phone call. CRANE answers, listens for a moment, then hangs up and rises.)
Sit tight, dear Bruce. I shan’t be long.
(BRUCE allows himself a heavy sigh of relief before springing out of the chair and darting behind CRANE’s desk. He pulls open the first drawer he can get his hands on and starts thumbing through the files when he realizes that he is standing on something other than floor. He looks down; at the feet of CRANE’s chair is a pile of straw. He almost bends down to look at it when he spies a picture on CRANE’s desk. It is of CRANE, from younger days. There are no glasses and his hair is not so slick, but the eyes are as dead as those that BRUCE just looked into. This is the CRANE that was the teacher of a young BRUCE…)
INT. A COLLEGE CLASSROOM – BRUCE’S MIND, B&W
(An adolescent BRUCE WAYNE sits in the front row of a large campus classroom. While the students around him seem bored, he is like a laser beam – intensely focused, eyes blazing with both some private demon and the thirst for the knowledge that will banish that demon. Conducting the class is DR. CRANE, a white lab coat over his tweed suit. He is the only soul besides BRUCE with any life to him as he pours his whole heart into his lecture. We get tight close ups on some of the things he has written on the chalkboard: “TERROR,” “PSYCHOLOGICAL FRAILTY,” “POWER OF FEAR.”)
INT. COLLEGE HALLWAYS – BRUCE’S MIND, B&W
(BRUCE is walking down the halls. While everyone around him has a friend or a girlfriend or a companion of some sort, he is alone, draped all in black. He stops at a door marked “DR. JONATHAN CRANE.” A poster has been tacked on. Again, we see close-ups of certain words: “FEAR EXPERIMENT,” “VOLUNTEERS NEEDED.”)
INT. A SMALL HALL CLOSET – BRUCE’S MIND, B&W
(In this land of pitch-black save for one square glass window through which minimal light shines, BRUCE sits in an old wooden chair, his hands and feet bound. Sweat pours down his face and he shifts and shakes in his chair, desperate to move toward the door but unable to do more than shuffle the chair slightly back and forth. In the room with him are a string of pearls tacked to the wall, a mess of popcorn spilt all over the floor, and eight large vampire bats flying about. BRUCE is already covered with bloody bites and nips – the only color in this world – and the bats show no signs of stopping. Through the glass, we see the silhouette of DR. CRANE, wearing his joyless smile and taking notes.)
INT. COLLEGE HALLWAYS – BRUCE’S MIND, B&W
(BRUCE leans up against a wall, listening in on the conversation taking place inside the nearby dean’s office. CRANE is being torn a new one by the DEAN. We cut quickly inside the room to see the DEAN hurl down a report, and we get close-ups on the words “UNETHICAL” and “TERMINATED.”)
EXT. COLLEGE GROUNDS AT NIGHT – BRUCE’S MIND, B&W
(It is night. BRUCE watches as fire trucks depart, and we see that an entire wing of the school has smoke and steam pouring off of it; there has just been a fire.)
EXT. A COLLEGE NEWSSTAND – BRUCE’S MIND, B&W
(A newspaper sits at the top of the newsstand, bearing the headline “FIRE ENGULFS SCHOOL” with the sub-heading “DISMISSED PROFESSOR CRANE PRESUMED DEAD.”)