The windows were huge and without curtains. It didn’t go with the design of the room, as if the glass panes were added later to an extra large balcony. There wasn’t much of a view though, the window faced towards the waterfall that dried up decades ago. The media had tried to cover the news with much curiosity but the old man, the owner of the estate, threatened to sue anyone who tried to take photos of it.
The boy tried to imagine how the waterfall would have appeared but failed. May be because of the clouds that arrived from nowhere last week and hovered above as if they belonged there. Waterfalls always appear beautiful under the blue skies and starry nights. Clouds diminish the life in them. It hadn’t rained but the clouds remained heavy, warning of a thunderstorm. Was it because of the sound of falling water or rain that made the old man to install the glass panes? It was never an easy task to understand the logic of old men, not that it is easy to understand that of the young. Both have their reasons. The young have all the reasons to go on an adventure and the old have all to avoid one.
Today was no adventure. It was just a formal interview, the boy’s first with the old man. He had been meeting his staff for over six months but was never informed about his role in the company after selection.
‘Hello Robin’, a frail voice greeted the boy from behind, not startling him at all. He was convinced he imagined someone calling his name, but just to make sure, he turned and looked at the skeletal figure walking towards him. The old man had a stick in his left hand, a pretty simple one, not up to the mark to his touted richness.
‘Spare your hellos for your friends’, the boy was cut short.
‘I am sorry to have offended you sir’, the boy said.
‘Sorry, are you? I was sorry once, for everything and remained so throughout my childhood. Being sorry gives you nothing more than depression. Trust me son, if there is one thing that you don’t want to be, it’s sorry.’
The old man’s voice was as low as a whisper but his words carried strength of all the pillars of his mansion. There is a special thing about rich men, they are never afraid to speak their heart out.
‘Sit down’, the old man pointed towards the couch.
The old man sat next to the boy and asked, ‘How do you feel?’
‘About this day.’
‘It is cloudy and gloomy.’
‘In your age, I would have said it is dark and mysterious.’
‘Fair enough, it is indeed dark but clouds are no mystery, sir’, the boy said, only to realize that he had walked a step further for no reason.
‘A cloud is the most mysterious thing nature could ever create. You see it from below but you are never sure what it is carrying inside it or behind it. Raindrops? Hailstorm? Snow? Tornado? Cyclone? Typhoon? You have a lot to learn yet and it is a good thing.’
‘To not know enough?’
‘To say what you know.’
The old man peered into the boy’s eyes and the boy looked back, without blinking.
‘Do you know why are you here?’ the old man asked.
‘For the final interview, I guess.’
‘Do you know your job?’
‘Won’t I be briefed if I get selected?’
The old man chuckled.
‘What’s funny is you won’t be sitting here if you weren’t selected.’
‘So what do I have to do?’
‘Before I tell you that, I need to tell you a story, a story about what happened when I went out of this mansion last time.’
‘And when was that?’
‘19 years ago.’
‘You haven’t stepped out of this mansion in 19 years!’
‘Why? What happened 19 years ago?’
‘I was chasing a young boy in my car, it was about midnight, I took a sharp turn and the boy was out of his car and standing on the road with a gun in his hand that was pointed at your mother’s head. He wanted me to stop pursuing him. I thought I could stop him from shooting your mother. You were standing next to her, terrified. I warned the boy to turn himself over to me and I would not torture him. He said he would do anything but turn him over to me. In an instant I grabbed my gun and pointed at him. He shot your mother twice in the stomach and dropped her down. I hadn’t expected it. I looked at your mother, she was in pain but she held you close to her, protecting you from the boy. The boy then shot three bullets at me and fled. I was protected. I shot at his legs but missed. He was very athletic. Your mother died couple of hours later in the hospital and a week later your custody was handed over to foster care by the city administration. I always kept an eye on you. I looked after your education, I made sure you were rejected by every company you applied in for work. I made sure you stayed in the city and I tracked you down whenever you were away. You are here today because I wanted you to be here.’
The boy was already walking towards the door when he turned and shouted at the old man, ‘You were him? You were the one who just stood there and let the man who shot my mother fled? You called yourself the protector of the city!’
‘He fled that night but I caught him couple of days later and handed him over to the police department. He was just a boy, eighteen years old. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment but he escaped couple of years later and went missing. Nobody could track him again. He sort of disappeared’, the old man continued calmly.
‘Am I here to accept your apologies for not being able to save my mother from dying?’ The boy shouted again, louder this time.
‘Anger is a good companion, I have lived with it all my life. It is your turn now. I have been tracking him down since that night but as the years passed, the world turned digital and he never took up the technology. It is very difficult to track someone who doesn’t use technology, but not impossible’, the old man smirked at the last word.
‘You mean you have tracked him down?’ The boy lowered his tone this time.
‘Yes, he has taken up a new name these days and has become very dangerous. He is just thirty three years old, still very sharp and athletic, I on the other hand am on the cusp of passing over to the other side. I cannot confront him anymore, therefore, you must. You will have all the reasons to bring him to justice.’
‘How can I?’
‘By being me. He thinks I died that night when he fired three bullets at me. He has no idea about my age. You can use my name and go out there, looking for him. When he will get to know I survived that night, he will come again at me, he loves to. But he will have to deal with someone who is much younger and sharper. Go, have your revenge.’
‘Why do you care about my revenge?’
‘I don’t. It’s just that I am not able to deal with him physically. You can use everything I have and bring him down but your work doesn’t end there.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Evil arises out of ashes like phoenix every time you burn it to the ground. You will make sure the evil remains contained. Behind that dried waterfall is a facility, find the panel that says ‘Activate Waterfall’ and the water will start flowing again, rushing with thousands of volts of electric current while it falls down and becomes harmless as soon as it touches the earth, protecting you from anyone who tries to reach you. There is an upgraded utility vehicle as well, waiting for its rightful owner. I haven’t used it in twenty years but I am sure the plutonium based engine will be still as fresh as it was back then. There are some other tools as well that you can use against him. The Joker is out there, challenging me to reach out to him, go and get him.’
‘You mean I have to be..’
‘Yes, you have to be the batman.’