Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

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madd0ct0r
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby madd0ct0r » 2016-09-18 04:25pm

Theres no c7rse words in the text either, and we all know that's glossing soldier punctuation.
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby U.P. Cinnabar » 2016-09-18 07:04pm

madd0ct0r wrote:Theres no c7rse words in the text either, and we all know that's glossing soldier punctuation.


Especially that distinct lack of a certain Anglo-Saxon word which has been in the English language for over 1,500 years. Real life didn't come with a Hays Code.

On the other hand, it is the author's prerogative, and if he's writing from a third-person omniscient point of view, as opposed to a third-person limited POV, then, it's perfectly fine.

(Or perhaps neither Selina, Waller or Bruce curse or use the then-contemporary euphemisms for the n-word)
"When you send a man out with a gun, you create a policymaker. When his ass is on the line, he will do whatever he needs to do.

And, if the implications of that bother you, the time to do something about it is before you send him out."
—David Drake


"Oh, but you did! You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me! But, since that's a concept you can't seem to wrap your head around, then, you've got no place here. You did it to me, Jayne, and that's a fact."

—Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Firefly-class hauler Serenity,in a nutshell

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby madd0ct0r » 2016-09-19 03:15am

oh, I wasn't complaining, just pointing out that demanding the use of the word negro for verisimilitude isn't worth it.
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-19 11:33pm

Feil wrote:I finally finished! It was a great novella; thank you for posting this here. The hint that Gotham's costumed set might benefit from preternatural good luck on some level that can be predicted and accounted for as a form of superpower is interesting... it seems almost obvious in retrospect, but I don't recall encountering it before in my limited exposure to Batman and company.


I'm glad you enjoyed it. And, if you'll forgive some vanity, I'd say it's a full novel. It runs at least 100,000 words last time I checked.

It actually wasn't my intention to suggest that the costumed set benefit from superpowered luck as you describe it, and no, I don't believe that's canon anywhere (there are superheroes with luck powers, but none in Gotham that I can recall). I think what I was getting at was more of a tongue-in-cheek judgement in hindsight. If you flip a thousand coins ten times, there's decent odds that at least one coin will get ten heads in a row. The coin isn't luckier, but it looks impressive next to all the failures. Likewise, we remember the likes of Alexander the Great and George Washington - both of whom had many near-death experiences on the battlefield but survived through dumb luck. I'm sure for every Washington, there were a hundred men who ought to have had their faces carved into mountains except that they caught an unfortunate blast of shrapnel or bout of smallpox before their prime.

Does this mean there are a hundred would-be Batmen of Bruce's generation who simply screwed up the first time they jumped off a roof? Hmm. Maybe.

Thank you for these further corrections. I'm especially embarrassed at dumpster and woman of color, as I try to take language seriously. Ultimately, I find that anticipating which terms need to be date-checked is a guessing game; no one knows the etymology of every word, and a few are bound to slip through the cracks. It's nice to have backup.

Why would pumping the shotgun be stupid? I assume she doesn't store it with a round chambered. Isn't the pumping necessary?

Elheru Aran wrote:I won't speak for StewartM, but for myself, I would be uncomfortable using 'Negro' except in dialogue when writing. 'Colored' might be more acceptable while still retaining a period flavor.


I actually do use the term Negro in the narration. See Chapter 4: "Red Hill was almost exclusively a Negro area - families with deep roots and a few new faces up from Charleston. Relations with the bordering whites were cordial, but neither side passed though if they could help it, so Tricolour's two big rivals were effectively quarantined." As I understand it, Negro was the closest to a formal/legal/academic term in that era. Colored wasn't exactly nice but was also mostly neutral (or at least not a slur you had to avoid in polite company). It wasn't, as To Kill a Mockingbird put it, "common".

My first goal here was to write a fun adventure where mountains are climbed, hearts are broken, and beefy guys in pajamas do karate at each other. A story in the spirit of Indiana Jones or, indeed, original Batman. Of course, neither of those properties are known for racial sensitivity; pulpy adventures widely aren't.

But my second goal was to use fiction to explore history, and while I could easily write historical fiction that doesn't mention race, that seemed lazy and cowardly. If I described a society where ten percent of the population were seen as fish-people or prone to spontaneously combust, but I didn't mention that, you would say I did a bad job at describing that society. Those things are conspicuous and grotesque. Yes, well, treatment of the typical abused groups in actual 1940 society was conspicuous and grotesque.

However, it's difficult to acknowledge race in a story without making the story "about" race, leading down rabbit holes of what stereotypes you may be perpetuating or subverting and how different things come off symbolically. That is a huge drain on focus. Ultimately, I worked to make every character's decision based on them as an individual and tried to ignore whatever context I might be entering. No one is a soapbox, I hope. But for language, I did pull punches to reflect that 'comic book' sensibility. Personally, I find little charm in cussin', however realistic. Plus there are sites I couldn't post this on if I stuck to lingo verisimilitude. Do I distort reality this way? Is it dishonest? Yes. This is a fantasy.

U.P. Cinnabar wrote:(Or perhaps neither Selina, Waller or Bruce curse or use the then-contemporary euphemisms for the n-word)


Plenty of characters would curse if I wrote them frankly.

Selina would, albeit mildly and in her classy, casual way. More 'Hot Damn', less 'Fuck nuts'.

Waller definitely would, although she would frequently censor herself because a lady cursing is uncooth, and she has to pick her battles to get by in her hyper-masculine profession. If she cursed you out, you'd know you'd earned it.

Bruce is religiously devoted to the wishes of his parents frozen in time when he was a child, and they probably weren't raising a potty mouth. Then his main surrogate parent was a literal Victorian gentleman. He works hard to remain stoic to the point of being cold, often to a fault (see: the book title), and cursing usually admits emotion. Do the math.

As to their relative racial sensitivities, they play out similar ways. I don't see any of them as active civil rights crusaders. Selina truly isn't the crusading type (or so she thought), but she lives in a black neighborhood, so we would expect her to talk however makes her neighbors comfortable. And she isn't the sort of hypocrite that would change her tune elsewhere. She wouldn't use the various N-words often and never with hostility.

Waller is motivated by grim patriotism and private ambition; while she supports black causes on some level, it would be next to impossible for her to make that a priority without jeopardizing her power, so she'll either talk like her white colleagues, remain coolly silent if they get racist in her presence, and only retaliate if they attack her personally. She would use the N-word to make a point or be ironic.

While this may seem like modern wish fulfillment, Bruce is most likely inclined to fight for civil rights. While there have been plenty of smart bigots in history, I don't think his excellent sense of justice and knowledge of the world would let him ignore the issue. Plus, his family already has a reputation for racial do-gooding (sheltering escaped slaves, etc.). Still, he wouldn't be defined by it because it wouldn't come up that often. Most of his time is taken up by crimes like murder, which is bad for everyone, and unless he exclusively pursued hate crimes or the like, typical murder isn't seen in the same racial light as say, voter harassment. He talks like a robot. Robots don't use the N-word.
Author: Batman 1939
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-09-20 12:43am

I can sort of imagine this iteration of Batman, if he suffers some kind of debilitating injury (the only thing likely to cause him to retire, short of death, is if he just plain can't do the job), deciding that the best he can do to keep fighting the good fight is to push civil rights in the '60s.

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Feil » 2016-09-20 02:18am

I suppose it's not unreasonable to have her pump the shotgun in that circumstance. I assumed without thinking about it that a shotgun kept in a desk drawer would be one that's supposed to be ready to fire immediately.

I do stand by my statement in general terms, though, even if in this instance it's not applicable: working the action of a weapon as a threat display is stupid, even if it's not ready to fire until you work the action... because if it's not ready to fire, and you think you might need to threaten somebody with it, you should make it ready to fire immediately, not when it's a good time for a threat. Besides, "shk-shk" doesn't have anything on the threat power of the barrel of a gun.

--

No need to be embarrassed about missing a few words... the anachronisms I noticed only stood out because of the authentic 40s tone you created with everything else.

--

Do you have a definitive version of this available for download or online viewing somewhere without interspersed commentary? I'd like somewhere to point people to when I recommend your story.

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Elheru Aran » 2016-09-20 09:39am

Feil wrote:Do you have a definitive version of this available for download or online viewing somewhere without interspersed commentary? I'd like somewhere to point people to when I recommend your story.


He's more than welcome to re-post it in the Completed & Cleaned Up subforum, just above this one.
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-09-20 07:00pm

Feil wrote:I suppose it's not unreasonable to have her pump the shotgun in that circumstance. I assumed without thinking about it that a shotgun kept in a desk drawer would be one that's supposed to be ready to fire immediately.
As noted, that would mean leaving a round in the chamber. This is a major gun safety no-no. Among other things, people bump into desks now and again, and it would be a Bad Thing if the shotgun accidentally went off somehow while still in the desk drawer. Also, she has to take the shotgun out of the drawer now and then to make sure it's maintained properly.

I do stand by my statement in general terms, though, even if in this instance it's not applicable: working the action of a weapon as a threat display is stupid, even if it's not ready to fire until you work the action... because if it's not ready to fire, and you think you might need to threaten somebody with it, you should make it ready to fire immediately, not when it's a good time for a threat. Besides, "shk-shk" doesn't have anything on the threat power of the barrel of a gun.
There are a lot of anecdotes involving home defense where the sound of that "shk-shk" was followed by the burglar going "uh-oh" and running for the door before they ever even saw the person holding the shotgun. Purely as a threat display, if the gun is already pointed on, it's pointless- except that if you pointed the shotgun at someone specifically to make them hesitate, before working the slide, you still need to work the slide anyway. And doing so will increase the threat factor, because it affirms that the weapon is primed to fire.

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-20 09:17pm

Simon_Jester wrote:This is a major gun safety no-no. Among other things, people bump into desks now and again, and it would be a Bad Thing if the shotgun accidentally went off somehow while still in the desk drawer. Also, she has to take the shotgun out of the drawer now and then to make sure it's maintained properly.

There are a lot of anecdotes involving home defense where the sound of that "shk-shk" was followed by the burglar going "uh-oh" and running for the door before they ever even saw the person holding the shotgun. Purely as a threat display, if the gun is already pointed on, it's pointless- except that if you pointed the shotgun at someone specifically to make them hesitate, before working the slide, you still need to work the slide anyway. And doing so will increase the threat factor, because it affirms that the weapon is primed to fire.


I'm no expert, but I've heard both of these. I think there would have been less confusion if I had added a line about Waller loading a shell first. Of course, I could add a paragraph about gun safety.

Feil wrote:Do you have a definitive version of this available for download or online viewing somewhere without interspersed commentary? I'd like somewhere to point people to when I recommend your story.


The current "director's cut", or most complete version is on Space Battles, but you have to use those little index arrows to skip through the commentary. I think Ao3 has a feature where you can see the entire story on the screen at once, although the version there is a fairly old edit (still about 90% the same). I'll look into creating a master edition for download, if you care for it. Maybe a pdf?
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-20 09:19pm

There are plenty of bits that didn't make the story. Here's a little extra for your enjoyment. I have more if the response shows interest.

Appendix 1: City Nicknames and Police Blimps


The City on a Swamp


Gotham was an old and storied metropolis, and like all old and storied metropolises, it had earned many nicknames over the years. The city's earliest and most respected sobriquet dated back to its colonial days when a traveler from Massachusetts quipped to a local newspaper editor, “Surely the Lord in His Heaven doth complement a man’s character with equal and fitting domicile. Forsooth! Recon ye, as Boston is a city on a hill, so it seems Gotham is a city on a swamp!”

The remark was an obvious jab at the colony’s supposed sinful behavior, not to mention its dismal health and general shoddiness, but the insult backfired when the quote was published and the city adopted the phrase. Gothamites have been calling their home The City on a Swamp on dignified occasions for nearly three centuries.


The Pretty Sister

While the tale behind Gotham's oldest nickname was common knowledge, its second-oldest nickname, The Pretty Sister, was a mystery. Only a few graying scholars tenured at the less trendy state universities knew the story. In 1878, the magnificent Conrad Bridge connecting Gotham City and Blüdhaven was completed. Its opening ceremony was attended by no less a personage than President Rutherford B. Hayes. Mayors Ambrose Cobblepot and Hadrian Lowe of Gotham and Blüdhaven respectively were also in attendance. After the ribbon was cut, President Hayes gave a short speech congratulating the cities on their architectural feat and concluded by hoping that “these two sisters grow ever closer in peace, felicity, and prosperity!”

Allegedly, while the President stepped down from the podium to the crowd's applause, Mayor Cobblepot whispered to Mayor Lowe “If we’re sisters, you’re the ugly one.” Incensed, Lowe responded with a slap, and the two men fell into a brawl of fisticuffs and canes that was ultimately broken up by the President himself. Cobblepot's cutting remark was misquoted and misheard over the years until the current version calling Gotham the Pretty Sister.


Balloon Town

Gotham City’s most recent epithet was Balloon Town, or its less common phrasing, the City that Called the Hindenburg’s Bluff. In 1932, Mayor Hamilton Hill spearheaded an expensive five-year project to make Gotham a hub of airship travel. Unfortunately, in May of 1937, as the project was almost complete, the zeppelin Hindenburg exploded at an air station outside Blüdhaven. The nation’s future in dirigibles quickly turned bleak, and Mayor Hill's new array of docking towers and fueling stations looked increasingly stupid. But Mayor Hill was not one to accept defeat (or the loss of his deep personal investment), and he decided to up the ante. If he could not depend on airship travel between cities, he would enforce it within his own. Hill wrung the city coffers once more and purchased nearly half the rigid airships on the planet (most were on sale).

The city gave many of these freshly-bought craft to public services, including six to the police for surveillance work. The GCPD Airship Fleet soon became the night skyline’s most distinctive feature, hence the nickname Balloon Town.

Though the majority were kept for public use, several airships were leased to private entrepreneurs. The most famous of these was the Café Ensoleillée, the acclaimed flying restaurant.
Author: Batman 1939
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Feil » 2016-09-20 09:30pm

A PDF would be lovely.

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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-21 07:18pm

Feil wrote:A PDF would be lovely.


I'll see what I can do. Here another short in the meantime.

Batman 1939: Cowards and Superstitions​


Author's Note: This is a short old piece that I happened to unearth recently. It's not terribly polished, it's not pertinent to the ongoing plot of Swimming in the Styx, and it gets a little weird, but I feel it has some of my best bits. Feel free to skip it, but if you're looking for a breather, enjoy.
---​

Once upon a time, the Preston Paper Factory employed two hundred and seventeen workers over three full shifts. Now it only employed five, and they only worked nights. The factory was a condemned shell of a building in a bad neighborhood. The windows were boarded, and heavy chains locked the main doors, but a secluded loading dock on the side sat half open. An unshaven man they called Bradley stood on the loading platform, cupping a cigarette against the breeze. A gust whipped up the hem of his long-coat, revealing a holstered revolver.

In the hall of the factory behind him, abandoned machines and industrial debris cluttered the floor. Long triangles of moonlight shined through gaps in the boarded windows. In the middle of this jungle of partitions and conveyor belts was a makeshift room made from stacks of pallets, looking much like a large hut. A lanky boy they called Kid sat on a stool outside this hut with a shotgun across his lap. He was faintly silhouetted by the glow from inside.

In the hut, three armed counterfeiters feverishly worked a printing press by the light of some gas lamps. Gus, the enormously fat one, fed the cotton paper into the press and maintained the ink on the rollers. Lorenzo, a small man with muttonchops and a mustache, cut the sheets of printed bills and dried them under a large heat lamp. Marge, a young lady with a flapper hairdo, made the bills look used by spinning them in a bingo cage before putting a rubber band around each stack. She wasn't afraid to clock anyone who questioned her criminal savvy and had the forearms to do it The trio hustled at their tasks with greedy enthusiasm, coats off, sleeves rolled up to their elbows, sweat stains politely ignored. Massive stacks of counterfeit bills covered five tables around them, the piles so large that they spilled to the floor.

Outside, Kid yawned. As he opened his eyes, he thought he saw a tiny light appear near a distant wall. He stood and squinted: a tongue of flame had ignited in a pile of oily rags. Baffled, he walked gingerly towards it. Halfway there, he heard another sudden combustion behind him. A spindle of rope had caught fire. His expression turned from curious to shocked when another snaking flame spread across the rafter above him.

By twos and threes, new fires started to burn brightly all over the long hall. The air began to fill with smoke. Bradley rushed in from the entrance, shoving Kid out of his slack-jawed surprise. They headed for the hut.

The three at the printer needed no warning: the top of their pallet wall had caught fire. Bradley and Kid found them desperately shoving fistfuls of counterfeit cash into large mail bags. As they bagged the product, the factory was changing into a hellish oven. The gang picked up as many mail bags as they could carry and stumbled out.

They raced across the factory. A rafter collapsed behind them as they ran, spurring them on. Ducking around some old equipment, they reached the loading door only to see that it was now closed. Billows of smoke blocked them on either side. Gus dropped his bag and tried to lift the handle while the others huddled around him. As they watched, a pointy-eared shadow rose up the door.

Lorenzo noticed the shadow, turned, and yelled in fright. The others spun. Standing behind them was a tall black shape – the Batman. His white eyes stared coldly at the gang, framed by inferno. Embers danced in the air around his head. His outline shimmered like a mirage: a demon.

With all escapes blocked by hot smoke or metal, the gang froze like cornered animals. Bradley reacted first. Drawing his revolver with a war cry, he cocked and fired. The other four joined in. The muzzle flashes made a blinding wall.

The guns clicked empty. When the smoke cleared, the gang was astonished to see Batman unmoved. He lifted his arms from under his cape and relaxed into a fighting stance. Bradley threw his revolver in a rage and tried to rush Batman who lightly blocked each punch without retreating a step. Ducking the last swing, Batman countered with a low palm strike. Bradley clutched his gut and stumbled back even faster than he arrived, bounced off the metal door, fell sideways, and curled into the fetal position.

Batman lowered his palm and stepped forward, eying the rest. Kid struggled to dig new shells out of his pocket. Marge sunk a hand into her waistband and pulled out a wicked hunting knife. She threw it with all her strength. The knife blurred through the air until it abruptly stopped. Batman had caught the handle, the sharp point an inch from his chin. He lifted it and slowly drove the knife into his forehead as one would crush a soda can. He dropped the ruined knife, its blade bent and twisted to the side.

They looked at it dumbfounded. Batman continued forward amid a silhouette of hellfire. Gus, knees shaking, tried to make a frantic dash around him. Batman stuck an arm out and floored Gus' three hundred pounds with a beastly clothesline and didn't break stride. Kid finally chambered another round in his shotgun and pumped it. Batman stopped and looked at him from five feet away.

Kid fired.

Batman stood still for a moment to let the flash and smoke clear. Then he slowly shook his head. Batman produced a rope from under his cape and wrapped it carefully around his fist. The counterfeiters couldn't tell, but there was an eager glint in his eye.

---​

By the time the first streaks of morning colored the sky, the Preston Paper Factory had become a crime scene. Police cars and a fire truck surrounded the entrance, and a crowd of emergency personnel walked through the site.

Inside, Detective James Gordon looked down at the massive pile of counterfeit cash and rubbed his eyes. A friendly voice spoke behind him, "Brought you a little pick-me-up." Gordon turned. Officer Renee Montoya, looking as tired as he felt but carrying it better, handed him a mug of strong coffee. They raised their mugs to each other and drank.

Another voice pleaded from a few yards away, "Aren't you going to move us into booking or something?"

Gordon glanced to the side. His five grumpy suspects were sitting handcuffed to tiny chairs nearby. The firemen had received a call from the neighbors about smoke at the old Preston Paper Factory and found the gang two hours ago. They had been blindfolded, deafened by acoustic earmuffs, and tied to a loading bay door by the wrists.

When Gordon first arrived at the scene, the fire marshal told him that, although there were fresh smoke stains and soot around, there was no genuine fire damage at all. None. Even the ceiling was intact: the supposedly fallen rafter turned out to be a wooden plank.

This did not fit the witness testimony. The five suspects had screamed themselves hoarse long before help arrived, believing a huge blaze was consuming the factory from end to end. The responders found no fire. However, the five were discovered with a heat lamp pointed in their direction.

He had a habit of doing that lately. He, of course, was Batman. Two months ago, Gordon was chosen to lead a small task force to investigate and apprehend the vigilante. Heading a task force seemed like a big privilege on paper, but Gordon only got credit if he actually made an arrest, and everyone expected the nutjob to disappear or get himself killed long before thta happened. It was a punishment so elegant, Gordon was almost impressed.

And it might last longer than even the brass expected. Detective Gordon was confident that Batman wouldn't be disappearing; this wasn't some short-term hobby. And Gordon was silently starting to doubt the lunatic would die anytime soon. Batman's stunts were growing bolder and more implausible by the week, but they kept happening. This ghost fire the witnesses had seen was baffling, but the bigger mystery to Gordon was the total absence of ammunition. The counterfeiters claimed that they fired at Batman from spitting distance with everything they had, and two dozen spent casings and shells lying around corroborated that claim, but his team could not find a single bullet or buckshot pellet. Gordon knew from his time working scores of crime scenes that collecting every round after a gunfight was slow and difficult. He couldn't imagine Batman, after being shot fifteen times and breaking a hunting knife with his face, finding and sweeping up all the hot lead like the janitor at a shooting range. And even them, there should still be holes in the walls.

After another sip of coffee, Gordon told an officer to bring everyone some breakfast and another pair to take the perps to the station. He would've liked to drop by interrogation and grill the five right now, but he had to supervise the team as they tagged and bagged the funny money. Sure he trusted them, but a thousand clams was a thousand clams. Gordon was Gotham PD, so of course he understood the temptation, but he wasn't about to let his team pad their retirement fund from the evidence locker. And this was shaping up to be a real whale.

That was Batman's other surprise lately, leaving behind bigger and bigger fish for him to fry. One loophole of the assignment which his bosses had not expected was that, since Gordon took automatic lead in any Bat-related cases, he was racking up an impressive string of convictions as more Bat-related cases turned into home runs for Bat-unrelated crimes.

Which was great, but he still had no idea how Batman did it.

---​

Last evening.

5:42 p.m.

In the Batcave's extensive workshop was a table for gunsmithing. Batman normally used it for forensics, taking apart and testing firearms or bits thereof for evidence. Tonight was the first time the station would be used to prepare a weapon. Several weapons, in fact. Bruce was dressed in a plain shirt and slacks under a heavy work apron, but he had the look of supreme concentration that was his trademark under the cowl. Before him were tools and materials for crafting ammunition. He poured fine powder into a half-made cartridge and crimped the metal with pliers, periodically consulting a heavy reference book propped open beside him. Finished cartridges of various calibers were lined up nearby.

Above the table was a bulletin board with a collection of dossiers and photographs detailing the lives of five small-time grifters who recently moved into counterfeiting. Normally, this wouldn't be remotely worthy of his time; they were harmless except for a blip in the inflation rate. He knew eight more pressing threats in their neighborhood alone. He certainly wouldn't spend three full nights preparing a mission on them. They had his attention because they fit narrow criteria for a much grander and older project. They were going to help him stage a show.

---​

7:19 p.m.

Gus Gunderson visited his mother's house for dinner twice a week. It was a small Victorian home on one of the quiet suburbs around the curve of the Bay. Even a small house was considerably more spacious than a typical city apartment, so Bruce had no trouble breaking in unnoticed. In case the residents saw him, he was dressed as a very unsubtle burgler: black flat cap, black domino mask, black and white striped sweater, gloves, and a canvas sack across his shoulder with a large dollar sign stenciled on it. If it seemed a bit on the nose, Bruce knew from experience that people rarely questioned a stereotype. If he was spotted, it was better if they thought him a common burglar. His real goal was far more invasive.

As he crept across the front hall, he heard Gus and his mother, Agnes, talking in the kitchen a few yards away.

"Want the mashed potatoes, dear?"

"No thanks, Ma. I'm good."

"How 'bout some gravy then?"

"Nah, I'm good on gravy."

"You sure you don't want some mashed potatoes? I made them for you, you know."

"And that's great, thanks, but I'm already on my second serving, Ma."

"Are you sure?"

"I've got mashed potatoes on my fork right now, see? I'm eating them as we speak. Nam, nam, nam. Yep. Good potatoes."

"Gus! You shouldn't talk with your mouth full. Heavens, people will think your mother raised you in a barn."

"No one thinks that, Ma."

Bruce paced slowly through the dark living room. Gus kept the few pieces of gear for his night job with him at all hours in a worn leather duffel bag hidden under some clothes. Bruce assumed he was either a neurotic who needed to see his possessions frequently or he wanted to be able to get rid of them in a hurry. The bag wasn't in his car, so it was somewhere in the house. Bruce had assumed he wouldn't take the bag to the kitchen table, but if he had, then it would make this stage of the plan much more delicate.

"Well at least have some more string beans."

"Alright, I'll have some string beans."

"Good. See? You like'em. You need your energy to run that newspaper stand all day and night."

"Yeah, they're fine string beans, Ma. I've always told you, you make good string beans."

"Well thank you. I'll go bring out the cobbler."

"Oh, no need. I'm stuffed."

"Stuffed? You've hardly finished your plate. No wonder you've been so tired."

"Ma-"

"Why, at this rate, you'll be skinny as a rail."

The bag wasn't in the living room or the foyer closet or on the stairs. Bruce slowed his breathing to near apnea and stepped ever so lightly to the threshold of the bright kitchen. There, placed casually on the floor just inside the entrance was the bag.

"Skinny as a rail? Look at me."

"I see my little boy."

"I'm a big man, Ma. I get stuck in half the doorways in the city. I haven't seen my feet in six years. I am literally sitting on two chairs right now since one chair won't hold my weight. That's a chair for each bum-cheek."

"Gus! I will not have crass language in this household!"

"Crass language? Oh, you mean bum-cheek? That ain't dirty language, Ma. It's just bum-cheek. See? Nothing to it. Fer Crissake, if I were gonna use dirty language, I would'a said something like-"

"Don't you raise my dander, young man."

"Sorry, Ma."

The voices were three steps from the doorway. Even if he could reach around the corner and snatch the bag without being noticed, they could glace over any time and see it missing. He crept soundlessly back down the hall and out the window. Their meal would end soon; he had to employ the Distraction Contingency.

"I guess you just don't like my cooking. Alright. Very well."

"What?"

"It's fine. I understand."

"I love your cooking. I've been eating it all night."

"You don't have to hide your feelings."

"What are you talking about? I've eaten it all my life. Don't think that!"

"No, no. Sorry for imposing. I shan't burden you any longer."

"Come on, don't be like that. Look here, I'm putting another big heaping helping on my plate, see? Mashed potatoes, pork chop, green beans. You made cobbler? I'll go get the cobbler. We'll have some of that too. A nice big slice of cobbler. Two slices of cobbler."

"Well, if that's what makes you happy, dear."

Gus and Agnes Gunderson heard a loud noise from outside. It sounded like a trashcan being knocked over.

"Gus, that sounds like my trashcan being knocked over."

"Hold on, I'll take a look."

Peering out the back door, Gus saw a trio of raccoons playing in the scattered trash near the sidewalk. His mother watched over his shoulder. He stepped forward. "Hey!" One of the raccoons turned to the light and hissed. Another raccoon ran around in a circle then leaped and knocked over her second trashcan. Gus fumed. "Hold on." He rushed back in the house and found two brooms.

As the Gundersons scared off the raccoons, Bruce had already slid into the house, opened Gus's duffel bag, found the cheap handgun, smoothly ejected the ammunition, replaced them one by one with blank rounds, put the weapon back, closed the bag, and disappeared.

---​

8:05 p.m.

Despite following the crew for almost a week, Bruce never discovered Kid's real name. He respected that. Kid was a strange young man. He lived alone, had no friends, worked as a bag boy at a corner grocer despite his hefty income running card games in the park, and followed a very strict schedule. For instance, at eight o'clock he could always be found relaxing in front of his radio for a local rebroadcast of the Al Jolson Show.

Peering through a pair or binoculars from an abandoned restaurant across the street, Bruce looked into Kid's window and found that he was sitting in front of the radio, but he was also busy polishing his shotgun. Two boxes of 12-gauge shells were on the floor beside him.

Bruce left.

---​

8:31 p.m.

Bradley Cotter was the most difficult of the crew to track. He spent his evenings at bars and dance halls all over Gotham. Bruce eventually just befriended him. Yesterday, "Matches" Malone - his best street persona - challenged Bradley to a game of pool at a club off Hart Circle. Three games later and Matches was down eighteen bucks. He had to leave but begged Bradley for a rematch the next evening. Bradley, seeing nothing but a money piñata in a cheap suit, agreed and told him where to meet.

Bruce found it strange that a man making hundreds of dollars every night would spend his time hustling chump change at a pool table. He decided that Bradley was passionate about being a tough guy, and pool was a thing that tough guys did. That was his thrill. He wore a tough guy coat. He hustled at tough guy games. And he packed a tough guy revolver: the Colt Single Action Army, the Gun that Won the West.

Two unsuccessful games into their rematch, Matches missed another easy corner shot and ground his teeth in frustration. Bradley snicked and gently sunk two stripes in quick succession. Matches tossed out the namesake wooden match he liked to chew and replaced it with a fresh one, leaning against the stool with Bradley's coat as he eyed the table. The coat sleeve fell open, revealing a shiny revolver in a hostler tucked under it.

Matches whistled. "Wow! Now that's some big iron."

Bradley turned and saw that his new pool buddy had found his gun. "Yep, they call that a Colt Peacemaker. Forty-five caliber. Single action. Six chambers. You ever seen a piece like that before?"

The other patrons paid them no attention. Matches shook his head. "Nope. I thought only the big-time cowboys from back in the day carried that kind of gun."

Bradley grinned. "Well, now you know better. She's gotten me out of more than a few scraps around town, I can tell you that."

Knowing the man's record, Bruce strongly doubted this, but Matches looked suitably impressed. "I've never been much of a shot myself. You must have some, uh, neat stories then."

Bradley shrugged. "You could say that. Buy the next round and I might share a few."

Matches took his next shot (a miss), but kept glancing back to the revolver. Bradley clearly enjoyed the attention and picked it up. "You want to hold it?"

"What, me?"

"Sure." He flipped the weapon around and handed it over. Matches held it awkwardly by the barrel like he had been handed a snake. Bradley laughed. "Don't worry, I don't keep it loaded in here. Bar rules." He took the weapon again and spun the cylinder. "See, empty."

"What if some guys come in and, well, you know ..."

"If I need it in a hurry? I've been walking some bad streets a long time, don't worry," He leaned in conspiratorially and slid a round case from a vest pocket, "I keep the party favors right here."

Matches took the case and opened it like it was the first time had seen ammunition. The match fell out of his mouth. "Wow. And this is all you keep on you?"

Bradley nodded. "When you aim with the best, that's all you need, buddy. While you enjoy that, I'll go take my shot." He turned away. "Heh, no pun intended."

Matches chuckled back. In a single quick motion, he switched the case with an identical one from his jacket.

---​

9:07 p.m.

Bruce Wayne was a little late to the hot dog eating contest, but that was part of his charm (or so he liked to say). The hosts didn't mind. The Gotham Literary Society was raising money to fill a new library for the long-term care wing at St. Matthew's Children's Hospital and, besides being a top donor and member of the board, he had a way of bringing in many similarly generous friends like the crest of some altruistic tidal wave.

After Bruce gave a short speech to the crowd, the contest began. He ate two whole hotdogs. Everyone was very proud. Afterward, he quickly made his goodbyes claiming he had to go lie down.

---​

9:37 p.m.

Amazingly, Kid was still polishing his shotgun. It seemed he hadn't otherwise moved in nearly two hours. Bruce could only fathom that this was some form of meditation or a mental disorder.

---

10:21 p.m.

Lorenzo and Marge were conveniently together on a date tonight. Bruce knew that around a quarter past ten they planned to drive out to Moot Point, a tall hill just outside the city where sweethearts went to get a great look at the stars and each other. The two counterfeiters sat together on a picnic blanket and watched the million lights of Gotham. A scattering of trees mostly hid them from the other couples. Lorenzo's new Buick sat parked beside the gravel road eight yards behind them.

Bruce parked down the hill and walked discretely past the many cars stopped beside the road, dressed in glasses and a varsity football jacket from a college in another town. It didn't take long to find Lorenzo's Buick. He looked around and then, when the coast was clear, pulled out a thin metal tool to open the lock on the passenger door. He moved as slowly as he dared, straining to hear anyone approach. On the clear night, he could barely hear the pair talking nearby.

"I don't know Margie. I love ya, but this has thrown me for a loop."

"Darling, you're over-thinking this."

"We can't just ignore that we're cousins."

"Third cousins. What does that even mean?"

Bruce finally popped the lock and silently opened the door. They were too close for him to risk a light. He felt around the seats blind. No luck. He moved to the next door.

Lorenzo shook a finger. "I looked that up. It means we're the grandchildren of two cousins. We share a pair of great-great-grandparents, Zeno and Mary Klein."

Marge shrugged. "But that must have been a hundred years ago."

"Seventy-seven actually, going by the birth of my great-grandmother."

"It's not like it's against the law."

Lorenzo gave her a dry look. "Since when do I care about the law?"

"Eh. Fair point."

"Margie, I'm worried it breaks a higher law. What if we're transgressin' on the natural order? There are certain things Man ought not do. Also, it's a little gross when I think about it."

She crossed her arms. "Are you calling me gross, Lorenzo?"

The driver's side was also empty. Bruce readied a lock pick and struggled to open the truck.

"No! Just the idea of it. The abstract. You're not abstract. You're very concrete."

"Now you're calling me heavy!"

"Margie, please, you know what I mean. And it's not just my feelings on the fact itself, by the way. I've heard stories."

"People have been telling stories about me? Who?"

"Not about you. Just about couples who have, uh ... have a few roots from the same family tree."

"Alright, what do these stories say, Aesop?"

"Well, sometimes when a man and a woman love each other very much-"

"I think I've heard this part."

"If they have a kid, and I'm not saying we'll have a kid, or that we want a kid, or that kids even exist, but they say the kid might come out ... different."

"Different?"

"Different."

"How different?"

"That's where the stories disagree."

There were many bags and boxes inside the trunk. Someone had gone shopping recently. Bruce began to look through the ones that weren't wrapped. The sixth bag had the two guns he was expecting. It also had two hundred boxed rounds of ammunition, which he was not expecting. He had brought thirty blanks for each of the guns, thinking it was much more than he would need, but even if he somehow replaced what he could without breaking the packaging on the new rounds, Bruce wasn't eager to leave them a seven-in-ten chance of picking live ammo. He paused to think.

"I don't even care tonight. Why should we let this bother us? We made a zillion dollars yesterday, we're gonna go make a zillion dollars now, and then another zillion tomorrow. The world is our oyster! We can worry about some silly genealogical coincidences after we've bought a private island or three."

"That does sound swell."

"Besides, let's be sensible. Haven't there been small communities all through history where everyone was pretty much third or fourth or fifth cousins? They got on alright."

"Hmm. I guess. But I thought people back in the day suffered all sorts of terrible things."

"Like what?"

"Oh, you know: the Black Death, leprosy, werewolves. All sorts of problems. Didn't people used to only live to forty or so?"

"And you're saying it turned around when people started to sow their oats in new fields, so to speak?"

"Could be. I'm no demographer."

"Not much of a sweet talker either."

Bruce took out a razor and carefully slit the glued lid flaps on as many cardboard boxes of ammunition as he could use. He quietly emptied their contents and replaced them with the blank rounds he had. The process took several minutes which he spent crouched behind a tire with the trunk nearly shut. If the couple looked back, they didn't see him in the dark. When this was done, he took out a small applicator of industrial glue and sealed each of the flaps again with a bead of it. Then he put those boxes back, took out the real ammunition, ripped open or unzipped several of the other containers, and stole a few miscellaneous items from all of them. Finally, with his arms stuffed with ammunition, clothes, cutlery, small appliances, and other sundry knicknacks, he kicked the car.

The Buick's suspension made a short creaking noise.

Lorenzo and Marge turned and jumped to their feet. She called out, "Hey! Who's there?" The romantic quiet of others across the hill broke into confused mutterings. Lorenzo spotted Bruce dimly in the moonlight with his hands full of their stuff. He raised his fists and rushed forward, sputtering, "Put that down! Stop! Thief!" with Marge in close pursuit behind him.

When he saw them approach, Bruce turned and jogged away. Without trying too hard, he let them chase for half a minute then left them in the dust. As he jogged, he periodically dropped the bulky items he stole, eventually keeping just the ammunition, some woman's shoes, and six glazed doughnuts.

---

10:56 p.m.

It no longer surprised Bruce to find Kid still sitting with that glassy stare, polishing his shotgun. Bruce had a few options for situations like this. He didn't like to use them for the sake of the neighbors, but time was running short.

There were seven major schools of thought for circuit breaker placement in Gotham architecture. It was impossible to know the specific location in an unfamiliar building with certainty, but by considering details like the building's age, style, purpose, and construction firm, Bruce could guess a circuit breaker's whereabouts comfortably often. Tonight he guessed well.

The lights went off. Soon the residents shuffled out. When he saw the Kid leave (sans shotgun), Bruce snuck in.

---​

11:27 p.m.

For the past two mornings, Batman had visited the Preston Paper Factory to hide crates of equipment under and behind the rusting industrial debris. As the nightly occupants never saw the building fully lit and mostly kept to a small corner of it, keeping the gear hidden was easy. Now he had to set it up in a rush; the counterfeiters always arrived just after midnight.

Pyrotechnics was as much an art as a science. Though the field had made great strides in safety and standardization, the difference between a good fire and a bad fire still rested on the judgement and experience of the technician, plus an equal proportion of luck for ambitious projects. That said, Batman was a master of the art.

Film and theater professionals commonly made safe flames with a tool called a flame bar. It was a very special piece of equipment, but the basic parts included a propane tank, a high pressure regulator, cans of Sterno, and a length of rugged pipe or hose with holes drilled where the fire needed to be. The beauty of the device was that the flames could be made in virtually any size, in any number, created nearly no smoke, and would start and stop at the flip of a switch. He had also brought a few strategically-placed smoke machines to complete the effect.

The flame bars were already put together. It was a short task for Batman to lay down the pipes. The challenge was spreading the flame retardant in time. Propane made a fairly stationary, stable fire, but it was still fire, and abandoned factories were storehouses of grime, grease, oily papers, and dry wood. One didn't needed a decade of chemistry classes to see the problem. Batman doused all fire-adjacent surfaces with a tank of the retardant compound using a backpack pesticide sprayer. It was a precaution he would have finished yesterday, but once it was mixed, the compound was only potent for about an hour. He had planned eighteen fires across the floor and rafters, so this took awhile.

---​

12:05 a.m.

When his targets walked in, Batman was wiring the control board from his post in the rafters. He watched them get to work, making a few final changes to the performance based on where the sentries were looking. With the noise of the printing press echoing across the room, he knew it was safe to light the Sterno wicks, open the propane tanks, and start the smoke. Then, one by one, he turned on the flame bars.

Batman watched with calm satisfaction as the counterfeiters started to run around in a panic. While they packed their fraudulent bills, he threw a rope down and descended to the floor. He shut the loading door then swiftly climbed back to the rafters and pulled up the rope. The crew dragged huge mail bags as they hustled to the exit. He threw down a plank to scare them when they passed below. As they approached the closed door, he turned off certain fires and set the smoke machines beside the door to maximum.

Batman lowered again behind them. Though the flames looked wild and deep from a particular angle, they were actually straight and narrow, and it was a piece of cake to navigate though. He stopped behind the group. Lorenzo noticed his shadow, turned, and yelled in fright ...

---​

12:14 a.m.

He finished the last knot on Bradley's restraint and stood back. The flame retardant would go inert any second. He sprinted to the heat lamp and carried it back, then ran again to bring its generator. Once the crew was bathed in its artificial warmth, he turned off the fires and the smoke.

Now he could take his time. Someone might see the fire and call the authorities, but probably not. The counterfeiters had picked the factory for a reason. Still, even if the final cleanup was interrupted, the show was mostly complete. Word would still spread: one more eerie show of power in the Batman myth. It was a successful mission.

That said, tying the last loose ends would be icing on the cake. He deconstructed the machines and brought them to a pile near the main doors. Then he pulled the tarp off his final tool hidden behind a mountain of corrugated boxes in the corner: his truck. After moving the pile of equipment into the truck, he brought out the cases of live ammunition. Batman went one last time to the blinded and deafened crew. Beside them was a scattering of possessions he had stripped them of while restraining them. Among those possessions was a few cases and magazines of unused ammunition. He emptied these of their blanks and replaced the original loads.

Batman unchained the doors, drove out, rechained the doors behind him, and left the site.

Before he went home, he made a phone call.
Author: Batman 1939
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FaxModem1
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby FaxModem1 » 2016-09-21 08:00pm

Batman got very very lucky that they all used guns that don't need a blank firing adapter, or he might have had problems with his little show.
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Stewart M
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-21 08:01pm

FaxModem1 wrote:Batman got very very lucky that they all used guns that don't need a blank firing adapter, or he might have had problems with his little show.


What you call luck, he calls research.

Or yes, he got very lucky.
Author: Batman 1939
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Stewart M
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-21 10:55pm

Feil wrote:A PDF would be lovely.


Alright. Here's a go at it. Let me know if you see any errors.

https://www.docdroid.net/uXsIUnO/the-dangers-of-being-cold-complete.pdf.html
Author: Batman 1939
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Simon_Jester
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-09-22 03:15am

Stewart M wrote:
FaxModem1 wrote:Batman got very very lucky that they all used guns that don't need a blank firing adapter, or he might have had problems with his little show.
What you call luck, he calls research.

Or yes, he got very lucky.
If he'd found out it wouldn't work, he'd just have gone for a different plan. He'd have wasted some time, that's all.

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madd0ct0r
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby madd0ct0r » 2016-09-22 02:56pm

Given he left them tied up and they were found by the police, there's only two way the desired rumours could spread, and that's inside the gaol or from the police officers on the scene. "Criminal are a cowardly, superstitious lot but policemen are much more likely to gossip."

And then, while the gang in jail will swear blind to anyone who asks them about the fire and bullets and knife, the police have been shown enough of the trick to receive a second message about the rising Batman's focus. The heatlamp thrown on the criminals to terrify via theatre but not kill is almost an overture of peace to Gordon- it is a statement against vigilante violence while justice is served.
"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
"Welcome to SDN, where we can't see the forest because walking into trees repeatedly feels good, bro." - Mr Coffee

Stewart M
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-22 08:43pm

madd0ct0r wrote:Given he left them tied up and they were found by the police, there's only two way the desired rumours could spread, and that's inside the gaol or from the police officers on the scene. "Criminal are a cowardly, superstitious lot but policemen are much more likely to gossip."

And then, while the gang in jail will swear blind to anyone who asks them about the fire and bullets and knife, the police have been shown enough of the trick to receive a second message about the rising Batman's focus. The heatlamp thrown on the criminals to terrify via theatre but not kill is almost an overture of peace to Gordon- it is a statement against vigilante violence while justice is served.


He's clever sometimes.
Author: Batman 1939
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Stewart M
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Re: Batman 1939: The Dangers of Being Cold

Postby Stewart M » 2016-09-22 09:06pm

Alright, I put up the first chapter for the next story in the series, Batman 1939: Swimming in the Styx.

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=165508

Don't forget to check out the series' TV Tropes page. Seeing new content there is a big reward for me.
Author: Batman 1939
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