12:15am, July 20th 2012
Century Aurora Cineplex
Aurora, Colorado, United States of America
Tom ignored the no entry signs, driving down the access road behind the Cineplex. As expected James Holmes’ car was parked beside one of the emergency exits. He drove past the car and reversed so that the tow truck’s rear bumper was only a metre away from the car’s bonnet.
He was wearing a pair of thin leather gloves so that he didn’t leave fingerprints. He couldn’t risk leaving them on anything at all related to the night’s events.
Taking two Glock 22s from the glove compartment he stepped down from the truck’s cab and placed them in his shoulder holster. There was supposed to still be another five minutes before James came out of Theatre 9, but he knew not to take chances.
Lowering the towing mechanism he hooked the car and raised the front wheels off the ground. He climbed back into the cab and moved the truck to the next exit. It would hopefully put James off guard thinking he had parked at the wrong emergency door.
Walking back to where the car was originally parked he stood against the wall beside the hinges, so that when the door opened he would be standing behind it.
Before he could inform Thomas that he was in place the teenager’s voice came through his earpiece.
“This is Ground Control to Major Tom,” Thomas sung quietly, his voice breaking as he sung Major. “Commencing countdown, engines on.”
“Copy, stay there,” Tom replied, pulling the Glock 22 from under his left arm and doing a final check that it was cocked and loaded.
“Ten, nine,” Thomas said, counting down to when James would step through the door. His vantage point in the back row of the theatre allowed him to see James leave his seat only twenty minutes into the showing.
“I mean it Thomas. I don’t want a repeat of last time.”
“Geeze, nothing worse than being scolded by your future self. Five, four.”
“Say it, Thomas.” He flicked the safety off and held the gun in his left hand down near his crotch.
“I’ll stay in my seat. Two, one, liftoff!”
Tom tapped the earpiece, muting the call as the door opened. James’ unruly mop of curly orange hair appeared beside the door and Tom had to fight the urge to kill him before the door even closed.
As soon as James was out of the way Tom palmed the door closed with his right hand and kicked him hard in the side with the sole of his left boot. James hit the pavement like the sack of shit he was.
Tom stood outside of the bubble of light from the flood light above the door. He aimed at James’ head and growled, “Get up.”
James looked up from the ground and grinned, baring his teeth. “Looky here, it’s the Batman,” he said, dusting himself off as he got back to his feet. “So nice of you to join me, Batsy.”
“I’m not Batman, James.” Tom said, stepping into the light, but staying a few metres away.
“Don’t call me James,” he barked and then started cackling. “I’m, the Joker.”
“You’re just a psychopath who’s going to pay for his crimes.”
“Crimes? Me? I haven’t done anything. Yet!” He pretended to lunge forward and although Tom didn’t move he burst into laughter. Stopping suddenly he frowned and peered at Tom through squinted eyes. “How did you know I was here, Bats?”
“In the trunk of your car is a gas mask, a load-bearing vest, a ballistic helmet, bullet-resistant throat protector and leggings, a groin protector, and tactical gloves. There’s also two CS gas grenades, a 12-gauge Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun, a Smith & Wesson MP15 semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, and a Glock 22 .40-caliber handgun.” Tom waved his Glock 22 for emphasis. He had brought that particular handgun on purpose. “In less than ten minutes you intend to use that equipment to murder 12 people and injure another 70.”
“Twelve? Oh no, Bats. I’ll kill more than just twelve,” James said, not even questioning the fact that Tom somehow knew what was going to happen. “Everyone has to die. And they will.”
“No, they won’t. On behalf of your intended victims and their families I sentence you, James Eagan Holmes, to death.”
James burst into laughter, tilting his head back and cackling at the sky. “Oh Batman, you’ll never kill me. We’re linked, you and I.”
The gun kicked ferociously in Tom’s hands, splattering the back of James’ head and his brains across the road.
Tom didn’t even wait for the body to crumple to the ground, kneeling to pick up the spent shell. He took a wide path around the mess, returning to the tow truck before unmuting the call to Thomas.
“He’s dead,” he said emotionlessly, unstrapping the holster and unloading the guns.
“Thank God,” Thomas whispered. “I was starting to worry. I thought you would have shot him as soon as he stepped out of the door.”
“We were having an interesting conversation.”
“Right. Well, do you want me to come out?”
“No, I think you should stay and enjoy the movie. I was so disappointed that I had to miss out seeing it on the big screen because of James Holmes. I don’t want you to grow up with the same resentment.”
“Are you coming in? There’s a spare seat in the front row now,” Thomas laughed and then there was a mumbled apology to those sitting around him for being too noisy.
“I need to move his car first.”
“Okay. Oh man, Heath Ledger is crazy as the Joker.”
Tom disconnected the call and then said, “I think James could have given him a run for his money.”
He parked at the end of the building, positioning James’ car so that it was in sight of the dumpsters. Unhooking the hitch he lowered the car and left it in the hopes that whoever found it would be intrigued enough to look around and find the body.
He parked outside of the Cineplex and packed away the guns and holster in the glove compartment. After climbing out of the tow truck and double checking it was locked he pulled off the gloves and headed inside.
Thomas was standing in the foyer with an enormous grin on his face.
“What are you doing?” Tom asked, staring into a mirror image of his face minus twenty years.
“Stuff the movie, let’s celebrate. I just saved twelve lives.”
“We saved their lives.”
“I, we, us. There’s no difference. I’m me and you’re me in the now too.”
“Yes, I get the mechanics of it. But where are you intending to celebrate? You’re not trying to use my ID again. The issue date being seventeen years from now screams fake ID. Plus, you’re still too fresh faced to look quite like me yet.”
“Fine,” Thomas moaned. “What do you suggest we do in this lousy town?”
“Grab a six pack and work out who’s next.”
“I’ve always got the best ideas,” Thomas said, throwing his arm around Tom’s shoulder as they headed for the exit.