Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Female of the Species, Part the Third

In our previous installment Batman pursued Catwoman into the Gotham night as a shot rang out courtesy of Gotham's finest. And now ... Cut to the chase!

Exterior -- Rooftops and backstreets of Gotham at night.

Catwoman has a substantial lead on Batman. We see from his POV as she swings away then ducks around a corner. He follows, cape billowing as he glides down to where she alit. A quick glance seems to reveal nothing, but then out of the darkness comes a whip crack, narrowly missing his scarred face. He spots her just long enough for her to fire a gleeful grin in his direction, then she disappears down off the rooftop. She is having the time of her life. His expression reveals exasperation.

By the time he gets to the edge of the roof, she has already descended to the alley below. Again his cape billows out as he drops down, spiralling in the narrow urban cavern. When he lands, she is once more nowhere to be seen. Again the whip flies out of the darkness, but this time he's ready. He blocks it with one gauntleted arm and fires sharp epaulets at the source. We see Catwoman crouch under the missiles at the last second as they embed themselves in the brick wall behind her with a loud, sharp impact.

CATWOMAN: Playing rough.

BATMAN: Not playing.

CATWOMAN: Liar!

Another whip crack and she's off again, scampering down the alley. He gives chase, racing off after her. He narrows the gap a little and she starts flinging boxes, garbage cans, anything she can get her hands on in the alley into his path. He knocks the obstacles aside easily, but the distraction slows his progress and he still trails her. Ahead, she uses her whip to lash around a fire escape and begins to swing up to its ladder. Batman quickly produces a batarang, flings it, and it slices the whip midswing. Catwoman falls but somehow manages to land on her feet. Another batarang whistles towards her, but again she avoids it. She crouches as he approaches.

CATWOMAN: Having fun yet?

BATMAN: This isn't "fun."

CATWOMAN: Then you're doing it wrong.

She springs at him. He assumes a defensive posture, but it is a feint on her part. She slips agilely past him. He grabs for her as she passes and manages to get ahold of her cape, but it comes off easily (think tear-away football jersey) and she runs away without missing a step (take that, Edna Mode). He stares at the green cloth in his hand briefly, then renews his pursuit.

She has time now to clamber up a dumpster then leap to another fire escape. She climbs its network of ladders and steps. She is much faster at this than he is in his cumbersome Bat gear and he can't draw a clean bead on her with all the metal between them. She reaches the rooftop and only now does the smile leave her face. With Batman out of her line of sight, she allows herself a moment to let her guard down. She is clearly winded and gathers herself, breathing deeply. The sound of his nearing pursuit catches her ear and she quickly composes herself, scanning this new rooftop. It overlooks a well-populated main Gotham street. There is construction going on here and a large crane holds a half-finished billboard in place. The smile returns.

Back to Batman's POV. He finally makes it up to the rooftop. He looks around but doesn't see her at first.

CATWOMAN: Batman ...

She is draped over the crane at its edge, perched right where a steel cable holds the unfinished billboard in place. Her claws are bared and poised at the cable. Below, several people walk the midnight street. It isn't crowded at this late hour, but there are more than a few pedestrians.

CATWOMAN: I've had a wonderful time tonight, but this is where our first date ends.

BATMAN: No ...!

CATWOMAN: I know. I feel the same way. All good things ...

BATMAN: Those people! You'll kill them!

CATWOMAN: What? Never. As long as their big, strong hero is here, they're purr-fectly safe. Right?

BATMAN: Don't ...!

She slices the cable easily with one swipe. Immediately, the billboard begins to teeter precariously. Batman fires a line at it and strains to secure it. Catwoman bounds down off the crane.

CATWOMAN: Au revoir, mon amour.

She saunters easily away and is quickly enveloped by the Gotham darkness. As he fights to keep the billboard from toppling down into the street below, Batman can hear a feline yowl (of triumph?) in the distance.

Reverse POV from the street below. Some Gothamites spot the shaking billboard up above and have gathered to gape at it from beneath. It's not the smartest crowd ever. There are enough of them to obstruct traffic. Horns blare.

GOTHAMITES: Look! Up there! The billboard! (etc.)

Batman continues to battle against gravity. He ties off the first line on a ventilation duct, then attempts to secure a second. Before he can, the first line pulls the ventilation duct out of the roof. There's no choice now. He wraps the second line around his arm and braces himself, straining to arrest the sign before it tips too far over the edge. He pulls it back and then doesn't stop, pulling it all the way back so it teeters now over the other way, threatening to fall on him.

BATMAN: (angrily) Catwoman ...

The billboard collapses over on top of him, smashing into the crane and burying him in a tangle of metal and paperboard, electrics sparking all around. There are a few small fires. He lies still briefly then begins fighting his way out of the wreckage.

Reverse POV to the small crowd below.

FIRST GOTHAMITE: What happened?

SECOND GOTHAMITE: I dunno. That sign just fell over.

FIRST GOTHAMITE: Lucky it didn't fall over this way. Must've been the wind.

Car horns continue to sound as the people mill about the street and begin to go back to whatever business has them out after midnight. One of the cars is an ostentatious black limousine.

Interior -- Maria Falcone's Limousine.

Maria Falcone sits in the back of an elegantly appointed limo. She is blonde, middle-aged, attractive and dressed expensively if not necessarily tastefully. She pushes an intercom button.

MARIA: (coolly, with a hint of an Italian accent) What's going on, driver?

DRIVER: (on the intercom) I can't tell. There are people in the street.

MARIA: Run them over.

DRIVER: Ha! I wish.

MARIA: I am already annoyingly late, thanks to that miserable airline. Run. Them. Over.

DRIVER: I ... I can't do that.

She releases the button testily and sits back and pouts. She checks her watch, then pouts some more. The car slowly inches its way past the dispersing crowd.


In the next thrilling installment we will pay a visit to police headquarters, check in on the construction at Stately Wayne Manor, and maybe find out a little more about Maria Falcone. Don't miss it!

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