The Idiot Returns
by Michael Condon
"It's bad enough he cheats on me with every maniac in Gotham," the Joker said to the drooling young man with vacant eyes sitting on the van's floor, "but he went to Rio for you. Frankly I don't see the appeal." The Joker grabbed the man's arm lifted it up and let it go. It dropped like a stone. "No muscle tone. Not very observant," the Joker said as he waved his fingers in front of his unblinking eyes, "and poor reflexes." He followed his remark with a vicious backhand. The man didn't show any reaction as the blood gushing from his nose joined the drool dribbling down his chin. "Does anybody know this guy's story?"
Two Face flipped his coin, slapped it down, glanced at it and put it back in his pocket. "He's the original Robin. He just couldn't take wearing those shorts anymore."
"He's a gig South American drug dealer. Gatman threw him into his nose candy and this is the result. Gats felt guilty and sent him up to Arkham for tender loving care," said a meek looking man through a ventriloquist's dummy.
"Now, now Scarface you know that's only a rumor," the man said addressing his dummy. "You know its not polite to" he was cut off by a series of threats and curses from Scarface. The Ventriloquist started bawling under the verbal assault, although oddly enough Scarface's inflection and tone was not affected by the Ventriloquist's emotional state.
"I told them it would never last," the Joker said as Harley Quinn went over to comfort the Ventriloquist, telling him that she knew exactly how he felt. "I only wish I hadn't spent so much on the wedding present. But the question remains, do any of you know who this simpleton is?"
"The doctors say his name is Zeno, sir," said a man who looked remarkably like Abraham Lincoln.
"But that doesn't tell me anything about him, Mr. President, and is Zeno his first or last name?"
"I don't know sir," said the same man, now inexplicably looking like King Louis XIV. "But I do know that once you have a man's heart, you are privy to all of his secrets."
"Cornelius, thank you for the suggestion, but I have a better idea, and for goodness sake, stop changing form. Your psionics always mix poorly with my psychosis, or are you trying to look like a gross of yellow praying mantises on a pink birthday cake?"
"No sir. A thousand pardons sir," said the man, looking like a well-known fast food spokesperson. "It is a pity that you wouldn't let me conduct my own inquisition," he said sighing. "Just as well, he probably wouldn't have tasted good anyway. He seems beyond fear."
"Alright everybody, give me your pills, you won't be needing them anymore," said the Joker.
"But, but the doctors said I hadda," blubbered Amygdala.
"Its okay Aaron," said the Joker in an unusually soothing voice, "you're cured, you're cured," he said clapping his hands.
"Oh goody," the huge man bellowed and started dancing around the crowded car.
"Now Tweedle Dee if you could make a collection." The rotund little man made a circuit of the car collecting pharmaceuticals in his beanie. "Thank you. Mr. Dumm, if you can keep the patient's mouth open?"
"Let's try a green one." The Joker threw the pill from a yard away. "Oh, so close! And a red one. Two points. And a blue one. Score! And an orange and blue one. Watch out Shaq! And a, who's the wise guy who threw in a tic tac?"
"I must say Joker, as a mental health professional I must protest how you're going about this," complained the Scarecrow.
"Aw go sue NBC for defamation Dr. Crane. I'm having fun." The Joker then pinched the edges of the beanie, poured a few dozen pills down Zeno's throat, stuffed a few more into his nose and ears, and then lost all interest.
Several hours later, Tweedle Dee and Dumm loaded the still catatonic Zeno into a freight car under the Joker's direction. "I don't understand the point in sending him somewhere boss," said Tweedle Dumm.
"Yeah, all he ever does is lie there and gurgle," said Tweedle Dee.
"You boys lack vision. Every police officer and super hero knows how to handle criminals that can do things. Captain Coma will confuse them by not doing anything. He won't negotiate with police, he isn't intimidated by guns and he has less of a conscience than I do. He's unstoppable. Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha. I grant you boys a special dispensation. You can travel together, but you can't travel with me. I hear that the Twin Cities are beautiful this time of year. In the middle of summer the snow will only be up to your ample waists."
End of Introduction
I fly forever through the silent skies. Over the slow moving river, over the majestic trees. My past a slight itch. My future, more flight.
I feel a pull. It isn't gravity. I still soar effortlessly. I ignore it and continue through the infinite solitude.
I feel a pull. It comes from within, a tugging meant to pull me inside out, wrap my skin around the quiet jungle and deposit me in a heavy place.
I feel a pull. I didn't know that killing them was wrong. I was only doing what my father had taught me. There was nothing against it in the Bible.
I feel a pull. They were created for our use, we could do whatever we wished with them, and besides they were helpless, weren't they?
I feel a pull. I only wanted to be real.
I feel a pull. I remember. Caesar Lopez was only part. The master chef's guilt over the thousands of birds he prepared, ruined my first attempt at existence, but he was only part, I can control him. I am Getulio who spent his entire life in the Sao Luis mental institution. I am Tomas who was abused first by his father and then by aliens employed by the CIA who placed transmitters in seventeen places under his skin. I am Antonio who was never the same after the accident.
I feel a pull. A strange experiment involving a psychoactive plant and electrodes lead to my creation. I am the quintessence of four madmen. A monster of the Id with a unique view of reality, hence my title, the Idiot. I am a psychic vampire, gaining sustenance from the unraveling minds of those affected by my idiotic madness inducing powers. When first born I was weak, relying on catspaws, like my psychochemical addled worshipper Professor Crosby who drugged victims so they'd enter my psychic plane and be consumed. Later I gained the ability to enter the real world by bursting through the empty skulls of those I had already eaten. But I still hunger.
I feel a pull. Somebody's been doing something very idiotic with Zeno, one of my former meals. He was a street punk who assisted Crosby for my greater glory until the stirrings of a long dead conscience caused him to betray me to the Batman. I ate his mind as I would have all others if the Batman, now that was a delicious mind that got away, hadn't guessed my secret. I was invulnerable, but he threw me into a truck filled with tropical birds. The birds who wanted to avenge their brethren. They couldn't harm me, but Caesar didn't know that. He fled to my silent jungle, my idiot zone. Breaking the union. Destroying my personality. Until now.
I feel a pull. Batman will learn that I am his superior. But I may not be ready for him yet. I must be strong before fighting him again. But after the Batman, other minds are a tasteless gruel. Even if I can get sustenance from such meager fare, would it be worth it? Will the masses whet my appetite or dull my palette? But I learned from Zeno's memories that there are other superior men. All from America. The home of Batman. Beings with extra powers. Greater senses. More varied experiences. Tastier minds. Beings who rely on their brawn more than their brains. And chief among them is Superman.
I feel a pull. I am coming.
Zeno began slowly rocking back and forth. His cranium started swelling and his rocking increased as his head grew. Finally, his head burst apart, and the Idiot returned to earth.
He appears as a thin Caucasian man in his early twenties wearing an undone straight jacket and green hospital scrubs for pants. He has short curly black hair and long arms with long curved fingernails.
"Now lets see what I can do for breakfast." He made his way through the freight cars to the engine. He grabbed the two men in the cab by the back of their heads, sinking his nails through their skulls without breaking skin or drawing blood. The man on his right hand saw a giant blue alligator hovering on dragonfly wings vomiting hundreds of brightly colored newts onto the wedding of Marilyn Monroe and Dwight Eisenhower. The one on his left, a more abstract thinker, tasted Let It Be as he smelled beauty. The Idiot's face was contorted in ecstasy as he quickly pulled apart the conscious and suppressed thoughts, dreams and memories of his prey. His victims' screams rapidly faded into delirious whispering soon drowned out by an odd sucking sound. Their face's shriveled and then took on the blank look of all of the Idiot's victims. Mercifully, rather than be left mindless husks, their bodies died in the crash that came a few minutes after the Idiot was sated.
"Ooh, better put some ice on that," said the Idiot as he pulled himself out of the wreckage and using the engineer's knowledge of the rails, made his way to Metropolis with inhuman speed.
His haste did not preclude the pleasures of fine dining. Panic preceded him. First he struck single individuals, so as not to alert Superman. But after he entered the suburbs, he started leaving witnesses to attract Superman's attention and once he arrived in Metropolis, he started publicly taunting Superman to draw him out.
He was on his 108th meal; a young man who was being serenaded by a flock of butterflies singing Great Frog's greatest hits, when he saw a violet streak come at him at twice the speed of sound. Superman stood in the air inches above eye level demanding that he let his victim go, little knowing that the man's mind was already gone. The Idiot released the husk and lunged up at the Man of Steel with the strength and speed of a tiger, fingers outstretched and mouth watering, the latter a vestige of his human heritage, as he didn't have a digestive system, grabbing absolutely nothing. He lunged again and again, fingers going through the space occupied by Superman's forehead milliseconds before.
"My turn," said Superman, diving at his foe from behind at slightly less than Mach 1 out of consideration for the eardrums and glassware that would be damaged by a sonic boom. He bear hugged the Idiot, pinning his arms with a grip that could break an elephant's neck, ready to apply more pressure if needed.
"Superman, that was idiotic."
"Yes we will." The Idiot's head spun around 180 degrees. Stunned, Superman didn't dodge when the Idiot breathed into his face. "Although I usually prefer the hands on approach, my Idiot Wind does the job as well.
"Oh this is marvelous. I have never tasted a mind like this. Here's a dream fragment which has a brightly costumed Sandman telling Superman that his dreams were the realest he had ever experienced. How true. This is the Persian Tapestry of minds. Let's unravel some thoughts here and here and here and here and weave them together. Ah, there's Superman with an ant's head leading a troop of gigantic ants to abduct a certain Miss Lois Lane to be the queen of the colony. And there's a planet filled with deformed Jimmy Olsens. Porcupine Jimmy Olsen. Turtle Boy Jimmy Olsen. Werewolf Jimmy Olsen. There's his high school sweetheart with the lower body of a spider. Heavens, what would Freud have thought?"
"And what's this? Under these extraordinary thoughts, memories of a cold sterile world. A world with a language and culture unlike anything on Earth. He has libraries of information on this world stored in the less used portions of his head. This is like eating for the first time. And beneath this are more wonders. His brain is a powerhouse limited only by his upbringing. His dreams are realer than most because whatever he thinks, becomes. Superspeed. Superstrength. Flight. Invulnerability. Heat Vision. He felt a need for them and he got them. Only his subconscious need to think of himself as human has kept him from adding to his store of collected powers. Once I consume him, I will have unfettered access to his full might. What other idiotic thoughts can I create?"
"Heh. Clark Kent is pet sitting a mynah bird. I'm in control, I can look away. The bird is repeating that Clark Kent is Superman. I created this mental image and I can erase it. Come on. Okay, he covered the birdcage and is flying to a secret base at the North Pole. Good. I'm in control. That birdcage will remain covered. I love that giant yellow arrow shaped key pointing right at his carefully hidden base. Superman just put the cage on a pedestal, and he will use it for target practice. Come on. Come on. No! He just uncovered the cage and left the room. Leaving me with the bird. Maybe this will be good therapy. See Caesar. The bird is in a cage. It can not harm you. See the bird is agitated, it's more afraid of us than we are of. What's that? A giant mynah! Noooo! Must escape!"
In a special ward in Sao Luis mental hospital, one of the street children turned into a zombie by the drug called the Idiot Root shows activity for the first time in months. He starts to wobble, his wobbling increasing as his cranium swells. Finally his head explodes as his wobbling reaches a fever pitch.
"Idiot! Idiot! Idiot! It was only a dream. One called up by your own power no less. Or was it? Could Superman have subconsciously developed new powers in self-defense, and dreamed a dream that would defeat me. No matter. I don't need him. I don't even need the Batman. So what if I can't stop Superman. As long as I can teleport to skulls of my former meals, he can't stop me. All I ever wanted to do was wander the streets of Rio de Janeiro torturing and killing and eating their brains with a silver egg spoon.
The Idiot walked around the Dead Boy's ward, reminiscing. "You were a fine one. I do believe that you could have been an artist if you had made it past twelve. And you. The tough boy with a thousand secret fears. You were delightful. Those were some times we had. Don't worry you'll soon have a lot of company."
"Rio de Janeiro is under my protection."
The Idiot turned around. A Neanderthal-browed, hairless red eyed green man wearing a red harness and re blue boots underwear and cape stood in the air over his head. The Idiot wondered if some creature was trying to digest his mind.
"You will come with me."
The Idiot attacked this new foe as he did Superman. Anticipating that his more alien features would provide an even more interesting meal. His fingernails sank easily into the unmoving Martian's skull. Too easily. His met no resistance as his hands and forearms sank into his forehead. The Idiot pulled himself up, and planted both feet on the alien's chest for leverage, and leaned back as far as he could to pull his hands free. He sank a little deeper. He started sweating. He was up to his elbows. He continued to pull as the Martian looked on impassively. He sank a little deeper. Sweating profusely, his jaw clenched, he put all his effort into one final jerk. He failed. He fell in up to his shoulders, pressing his forehead against the Martian's..
"What are you?" gasped the Idiot staring into blood red pupil-less eyes.
"Justice." replied the Martian Manhunter, and the Idiot sank all the way in.
This mind was a lot like Superman's. But it knew its full potential. Where other minds were like knit sweaters, this was like chainmail. He could feel the thoughts hum around him but couldn't know them, couldn't taste them.
Then he felt a probing. An invisible eye scanned every inch of the surface of his psyche and then through to the core of his being. Next he felt a jab at the back of his skull. The place where he preferred to place his right thumb on his victims. The location of a particularly interesting group of neurons. Despite his fear, he wondered what wonderfully strange thoughts his being digested would release. Then he felt the injection.
He expected the Martian's powers to mimic his own. His powers acted like boiling, exciting thoughts until they bubble free of their liquid minds. Instead, he felt a chill as the alien entered his mind. Like a surgeon, J'onn J'onzz repaired the damage that genetics had done to Getulio's psyche. The mental scars left by Antonio's brain damage unknotted one by one. Tomas learned that he had never met aliens before today. And Caesar suddenly realized that he had been an idiot all along. The four souls joined in an unholy union disentangled and journeyed to realms beyond even a Martian's senses.
All characters and scanned artwork are © DC Comics
This story is © 2000 by Michael Condon
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