The door with the bat symbol keeps coming closer and closer, almost like once it opens it will trap Cass inside. Yet as it makes it within Cass’s reach, she wakes up. The grass under her body feels cool and light as she sits up, shaking her head to rid any lingering drowsiness. She gets up and takes in her surroundings, the hood attached to her trench coat making a small rustling noise. She sees that she is in a small opening in some sort of vegetation, multiple televisions coming from one direction, but one sits particularly close to her. The television is small, about Cass’s height, yet it still feels so big. It feels as if it is calling to her, beckoning for her to come closer to see what lies inside it. The night gets colder as her vision tunnels around the television. Cass blinks, her surroundings coming back to her and the air returning to normal. Cass walks away from the television, not wanting to stay in front of it any longer, and heads towards the vast unknown.
Cass doesn’t fully know where to go, only that she needs to head to Gotham City. That’s where her answers to her dreams lay; it's where the answer to any question lies. Cass starts to run down one of the old trails, her black trench coat billowing out from behind her. Even though her feet are bare, she doesn’t feel the grass or leaves as she runs. In a way it pushes her to run faster, not stopping until she comes across a gap in the trail. It’s a small gap, one that could be easily stepped over if she were as big as everyone else. Cass steps a few inches back, before running towards the gap. Once she hits the end, she jumps and makes it over to the other side. Landing on her feet, Cass pauses for a second, trying to balance herself again, before continuing down the trail. She has to be careful; not knowing where she is could lead to deadly surprises.
Cass looks around as she runs. All around her are plants, and while there is the occasional tree, the place is mainly filled with different greenery and flowers. Cass feels as if she’s entered a new world, one filled with wonder. She tries not to get too lost in her thoughts but the place brings out her wonder, her excitement, her innocence. Maybe that’s why she almost doesn’t see the next gap in the trail. Cass skids to a halt, quickly grabbing the broken guard rail. She takes small, quick breaths and looks at the scene in front of her. She guesses that this gap used to have a bridge to pass, but the bridge has long been broken. Looking at the pieces of the bridge on her side, Cass could tell that nature has been getting a hold of it, vines wrapping around the guard rail. She looks over at the other side, seeing how most of the bridge is on that side. It hangs against the wall of the gap, meaning if she got a running start she could reach out and grab one of the planks allowing her to climb the rest of the way up. It is dangerous, but it’s the quickest way.
Walking back a few feet, Cass looks at the hanging bridge. The other side is higher than hers, which in a way is a benefit. If she falls it won’t be that bad, just a few broken bones. Cass closes her eyes, taking a deep, slow breath in. She exhales and opens her eyes. Cass starts to run towards the gap, not focusing on the dangers of the stunt, but of the possible positive outcomes, of being able to get answers. Cass reaches the edge of the bridge, and jumps, reaching out to grab hold of one of the planks. She barely manages to grab one, her body slamming against the wood. She places her fingers and feet between the gaps of the planks. The planks aren’t that tall, only around 3 inches, but she still has to reach to grab every third plank. Cass makes her way up the bridge, pulling herself up once she hits the top. Bending over with her hands on her knees, Cass takes a moment. It wasn’t that bad of a climb or jump, but it was still scary. One wrong move, or if a plank broke — it would’ve been the end of her. Cass rights herself back up before walking away from the bridge.
It doesn’t take long before she reaches another challenge. This one is different from the others. It doesn’t involve a jump across anything, yet in a way it does. The ground is covered in leaves, more so than any other part that Cass has come across, and it troubles her a tiny bit. On one hand, something could be hidden in the leaves, but on the other, nothing could be in the leaves. The only thing that worries her is the fact that there is a small pile of glasses near the leaves. Cass goes over to the pile, picking up one of the glasses. It has a clear frame, and the lenses are missing. It doesn’t soothe her any bit. She holds them in her hands, debating whether or not to throw them and see if anything lurks beneath the leaves.
A gust of wind blows, moving some of the leaves. A glint of metal appears for a small second before leaves cover it up. Cass pauses, thinking that it’s strange to have traps here, but it makes sense. If Cass had to take a guess, wherever she is doesn’t want visitors. She looks back at the leaves and throws the clear-framed glasses. The glasses don’t even touch the ground before a bear trap goes off, causing a domino effect as two or three surrounding traps go off, and it takes a lot for Cass not to flinch at the sound. She didn’t want to think of what would’ve happened if she had been lost in her thoughts again. She picks up two more pairs of glasses before hopping near the inactive bear traps. If she does this correctly she won’t have to go back for any more pairs of glasses. Cass throws one of the glasses a few feet in front of her. Just like last time, before touching the ground the glasses set off three traps. She takes a moment, before jumping to the inactive traps.
As Cass lands on the ground, she wobbles, almost falling into the pile of leaves. She falls to her knees in hopes that it will stop her wobbling, and it does. Even though her hood covers her eyes, anyone could tell that her eyes are blown wide with fear and anxiety. She pants, and for a few more seconds she just stays on her knees with her hands resting at her side, and her left hand grabs the last pair of glasses. Cass pushes herself up, one leg after the other, and steadies herself. She couldn’t risk another jump like that. She throws the last pair of glasses in front of her. The glasses touch the ground, but nothing happens. Cass waits hoping that the trap just had a delayed reaction.
No trap goes off. This is the last thing Cass wants. After the first jump, she was okay if she had to go back, but after the jump she just did? She’s even more nervous to make a mistake. Another wrong jump could lead to her death. Cass shakes her head; she can’t think about that right now. She has to think about going back and getting two more pairs and making it across this bear trapped field. Cass turns around and readies herself for the jump. Cass waits a moment, before jumping. When she lands there is no wobbling this time, and in the shadow of her hood, Cass lets out a breath. Only one more jump to do to get to a safe area, then jumping back. Cass jumps, making it to the grassy area. She walks over to the glasses and inspects them. She didn’t do it before, but she needs something to calm her nerves. There are so many glasses, it’s safe to assume there isn’t the same pair of glasses twice in the whole pile. One of the pairs of glasses sticks out the most. Cass bends down and picks up the glasses. The glasses have a yellow-green frame, with the temple pieces holding a small design of a snake. The snake itself is orange. The lenses are shockingly still in the frames, but are cracked beyond repair. Cass doesn’t really like them, but the glasses are definitely unique. She finds another pair of glasses, these being all black, and stands back up. Heading back to the edge of the grass, she jumps back to the first then the second group of inactive traps.
Cass gets to the spot she originally stopped at and looks at the two pairs of glasses in her hands. It doesn’t really matter which one she throws since both will be thrown, but it gave her a moment to not think about what could happen if any traps didn’t go off. Cass turns a little to her right, hoping that the glasses will trigger a trap or two if she throws it to the right of her first throw. She throws the black glasses and watches as they fly through the air. The glasses don’t hit the ground before the traps are activated. She lets out a sigh of relief, one step closer to safety. She hops to the group of now harmless traps and throws the yellow-green pair as soon as she lands. She throws it in front of her and watches as the glasses activate traps. This time the traps continue to go off, one after another, their teeth snapping shut. The train of traps gets closer and closer to her, it will only be a matter of time before they reach her and she risks getting caught in the teeth.
Cass doesn’t think.
She leaps as the traps go off, praying that she lands on an area that has already gone off.
She could almost feel the air, the plants, the unseen animals holding their breaths.
She lands in an area where traps have gone off. Cass turns around, watching as the spot she once stood in gets overtaken by the traps becoming active. One second too late and she would’ve gotten hurt. Cass turns to look at the inactive traps in front of her. The traps created this sort of safe walkway for her, but she couldn’t be too sure if any more traps were hiding. It was only another jump to reach safety, yet walking to safety felt….safer. In the strangest of ways, walking into the unknown felt safer than hopping into the known. Cass guesses this happens to all who wander into this place, those who want to reach Gotham City. Cass decides to walk to the safe area, feeling unsure of what could happen in the few steps it takes. She starts to walk, looking around as she does so. She doesn’t want to be surprised by anything that could pop up.
Cass doesn’t stop after she reaches the safe ground. She continues to walk, still looking around for anything that could happen. It was only a few more minutes until she hit a house. Cass could tell that the house was big as she got closer to it. She doesn’t have to go through the house, it would be less dangerous not to, yet something is calling her to the house. Calling for her to go into the house. She didn’t like the feeling, like she has to go somewhere she shouldn’t. She could ignore the feeling, but the urge to go into the house is too much. Cass walks up to the house in an attempt to ease the feeling. There is a small box that is laid against a wall with a window. Cass moves towards the box, jumping to grab it once she is in reach. It takes a small bit of her strength to pull herself up onto the box. She manages to get onto the box and looks at the window. It would only be a small jump, nothing like the traps or the gaps.
Cass peers inside first, looking to make sure that no one is inside the house. She doesn’t see anyone, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anyone inside. She grabs the ledge of the window still, pulling herself up and over and into the house. She falls onto a small table, one that could just be an end table but she doesn’t want to stay and find out. It isn’t a far fall to the ground, yet when she lands it does hurt her a little, enough for her to know she’ll have some bruises later. She didn’t stop to look around when she first entered, but now on the ground, she does. In some way, being on the ground feels safer—she is able to fit into small places if she needs to hide. Being on the table didn’t allow that.
She notices that she is in a living room of sorts. The room has a broken television laying on its side by the furthest wall from her. The couch is torn to pieces, stuffing coming out of the cushions. The walls are bare, save for the ivy growing on them. A table sits at the opposite end of the room, chairs surrounding it. The wood of the chairs and table are old. Nothing else lies in the room. Cass wonders if the whole house would be empty.
Cass exits the living room and heads towards the main hall. She can see the dust in the air as she walks to the hall. The first thing that catches her eyes is the slightly open door at the end of the hallway. As she walks closer to it, she sees stairs leading down and hears music. It’s a small tune, one that sounds happy but sad at the same time. The tune starts out with three notes repeating them once, before changing the notes and repeating the new set once. Cass can hear a faint different tune under the main notes. The music starts low, almost faint.
da da da, da da da
Cass walks away from the door, not wanting to go downstairs. The tune goes slightly lower than the previous.
da da da, da da da
Cass walks down the hallway and notices two rooms, one to the left and one to the right of her. The music is more muffled but still, she can hear it. The tune jumps into a higher key.
da da da, da da da
She goes into the room on her right. The room held a shoe and coat rack. Nothing more, nothing less. The tune jumps to a lower key.
da da da, da da da
She exits the room, planning on trying the other rooms next. The door is closed to the other room, and while she wants to enter the room, the feeling enters. It calls to her, telling her that whatever lies ahead could help her find the door in her dream. She has to go downstairs first. The music goes up again. This time the third note is lower than the rest.
da da da, da da da
Cass heads back to the crack door, squeezing herself through the opening. As she makes her way down the stairs, the tune changes. The music goes down for four notes, with a silent pause between each note.
Cass hits the final step as the music changes. It becomes quicker for some notes, before pausing and drawing out other notes. The music is clear now and she can hear more notes. The notes are softer than the others, but they are there. She notices a door as she steps off the staircase. The door is old and has cracks in it, one panel is barely holding it together. The cracks are so huge she can look through the door. Cass walks up to the door, wanting to look through the cracks.
The music starts again as Cass sees him. Another person like her, something she didn't think was possible since most were taken by the Two-Face man. The boy is chained to the ground by one ankle, and he is just sitting in front of a music box, playing it. The chain itself is unique; it was made of plants. It confuses her and leads to more questions. How did he get here? Why is he chained by plants? Cass wants to ask him, but first, she has to help him. She turns away from the door, looking around the basement of the house. Not seeing anything in the current room, she runs into the next room.
The next room doesn’t have much in it. Boxes of plant seeds are scattered around the room, and a knife lies on top of a box. The knife handle is hanging off the edge of the box. Cass doesn’t think. She runs to the box, jumping to grab the handle of the knife. She hangs on it as her weight pulls the knife down. She pushes her body to the box, molding herself with the box to dodge the knife. The knife hits the ground with a soft thud, and Cass pulls herself from the box and grabs the knife. She has to drag the knife behind her. As she drags it behind her, she wonders if it will be enough to break the cracks in the door. Cass reaches the door, turns her body, and with all her strength pulls the knife up and over her body. The knife hits the door, breaking away some of the wood. Startled, the boy runs under a table, leaving the music box in the open. Cass does it again, the wood not breaking yet. After the third try, the small wooden panel of the door breaks, allowing her into the room.
Cass walks into the room, the knife dragging behind her. Not taking any time to look around, she goes up to the chain. She pulls the knife up and over her, cutting the plant chains. Cass watches as the plant breaks, the plant reacting to cut as if it was in pain. She looks at the boy, who is still under the table. She walks up to the boy slowly, not wanting to scare him any more than she already has. Cass reaches a hand out, and the boy slowly comes out. He is wearing some worn-out pants, and a gray shirt. The shirt has a little white box near his shoulder. The box has some words, most of the letters faded, but she can still see what it says.
Jason slowly reaches his hand out, almost touching Cass’s hand. Their fingertips brush against each other, before Jason runs away, pushing Cass to the side. Before he ran, Cass noticed that his hair covered his eyes. Even if she couldn't see his face clearly, she trusts him. Maybe it’s that they are normal in a world full of unknown, terrifying people. Maybe it’s that he is the first person she’s come across. Regardless of the reason, she follows him upstairs, yelling small noises at him, trying to get his attention.
Once Cass reaches the top of the stairs, she sees Jason run to the left. She runs after him, turning left and seeing that the door is open. She is cautious as she walks to the door. Jason is under a table, watching her as she gets closer to the door. As Cass gets to the doorway, Jason runs out from under the table and climbs up some cabinets into a small opening in the wall. Cass looks around the room first, noting that it is arranged like a kitchen. There is a fridge near the right corner closest to the door, a stove near the fridge, and countertops between the two. Some cabinets are closer to the ground than others. A small table is placed in the middle of the room. Cass doesn’t want to stay any longer and lose Jason. She climbs the same cabinet as he did, and goes through the opening.
She falls on the floor in the next room. Jason pulls at a string coming from the ceiling. Cass doesn’t understand why until she notices the door. Around the handle of the door is an iron padlock. She doesn’t see a key around the room, or anything that would fit in the keyhole. Jason lands on the ground, not having the weight to release whatever the string holds. He calls to Cass as she looks away from the lock. His hand is stretched out, waving her over to him. As she walks to him, he moves to a crouching position with his hand interlocked and palms facing up. Cass realizes Jason is going to boost her to the string. She starts to run towards him, putting her foot in his hands, and he boosts her up. She grabs onto the string pulling at it with all her strength. Suddenly she feels weight on her. Cass looks down and sees Jason holding onto her. With their combined weight, the string goes down as a ladder falls from the ceiling. Cass didn't notice the attic ladder when first entering. Jason is halfway up the ladder before she starts to climb.
Cass gets to the top of the ladder and gets hit with a cloud of dust. The attic hasn't been cleaned in a long time; she can see a thin layer of dust covering the floor and boxes. Jason stands in front of her, taking it all in. Cass goes ahead of him, jumping a little to reach the edge of a box. She pulls herself up as Jason starts to move. He follows her as they reach an open area of the attic. In the center of the area a key hangs from an old vine. The vine is dead, its coloring having long turned brown. The vine is barely holding onto the key. A few boxes lay to the side, giving Cass an idea. One of the boxes is long, and is standing upright. If she and Jason push that box then a smaller box, it might give her enough height to jump and grab the key. Her added weight to the key should break the vine. Cass walks over to the boxes, Jason following after her. She starts pushing the upright box, hoping that the box doesn't fall down. Jason joins in on the pushing. Slowly, they push the box to the position they need. The box is only a few inches away from the key. They move to work on the smaller box, pushing it till it gets close to the upright box. They leave a gap between the two boxes, not wanting to risk tipping the taller box. Cass looks at Jason, nodding her head. He moves behind the key, ready to catch Cass once she snaps the vine. Cass climbs the two boxes with ease. She moves to the edge of the taller box, wanting to get a running start. She runs, jumping once she hits the edge of the box. She stretches her arm, grabbing the key. Cass hangs for a few seconds before the vine snaps. Jason moves to catch Cass as she and the key fall. Cass lands on top of Jason, causing him to fall down. The key falls a little ways from them. Cass gets up, walking to the key and placing it in the inside pocket of her trench coat. Jason gets up and follows her as she jumps and pulls herself up to a box, heading towards the ladder. They climb down the ladder, and open the door. The small pathway is blocked by a fence leading them to a greenhouse. They have no choice but to go to the greenhouse.
As they arrive at the greenhouse, Cass can hear noises coming from it. It puts her on edge, not knowing who, or what, lies in the greenhouse. Jason is already in the greenhouse and Cass has to quickly but quietly catch up to him. He waits for her to get inside before continuing through. She follows closely behind him, looking at the different types of plants. She wants to stop and take it in, but with the noises getting louder as they continue, she won’t risk it.
The Botanist is fixing up a plant that has died as they enter the room. Her back is facing them. Cass can't make out every detail of the Botanist, but she can make out that a plant is on the Botanist head, acting as a hat. Cass picks up her pace, almost matching Jason's pace. Cass sees a vent—maybe that can lead them out of here. She points at it, and Jason nods his head. They go to the vent, and Cass sees that the vent is covered by an iron hatch, one that they will have to pull. Jason looks at Cass for a second, having the same fear as she does. The vent hatch could alert the Botanist if it made any noise. Jason goes to the hatch, pulling it upwards. He isn't able to open it fully, or at least not enough for Cass to slip through. Cass goes to the side of Jason, helping him pull it up. The vent hatch is up enough for them to slip through. Jason goes first, keeping his hands on the hatch to hold it. He gets close to the vent, not all the way in, before turning to Cass. Cass is losing her strength, so she has to run to Jason now. She takes a deep breath, before letting go of the hatch and running to Jason. Jason and her get to the other side with a loud bang. They stumble as the vent leads them outside. They have little time to recover before the Botanist opens the door, seeing them immediately. The Botanist lifts her hand and Cass watches as vines grow around her and Jason. Jason runs before the vines could trap him. Cass follows behind him, narrowly avoiding being trapped by the vines. The Botanist grows vines as they run. Cass can feel the vines biting at her ankles as they come up from the ground in waves. Jason is leading her, knowing where to go and what turns to take. Cass wonders if Jason tried to escape before, with all his knowledge of the layout; maybe that is why he had the chain. The Botanist is slowly walking after them as they run, almost like she doesn't care if they escape.
They run, dodging the plants that come up from the ground. Up ahead are overgrown weeds. Jason grabs Casss' hand, not wanting to lose her in the weeds. The Botanist is closing in on them when they enter the weeds. The Botanist pauses at the weeds giving them enough time to crouch and hide. Cass can't see anything, not even able to make out Jasons' form. She can still feel his hand in hers. Jason tugs her along just as the Botanist enters the weeds. They make it to the end of the weeds. Cass notices a mole tunnel, nudging Jason for him to see it. She runs out ahead of Jason, not looking back to see if he follows. Cass has to crouch to enter the tunnel and walk through. She walks to the end of the tunnel before looking back.
Jason is still behind her. Cass lets out a sigh of relief. She didn't want to have to go back for him if he got caught. Cass exits the tunnel, looking around as she does so. The Botanist is nowhere in sight. Cass walks forward, wanting to leave this garden as quickly as she can. Jason follows behind her for a few moments before moving to walk beside her. Cass enjoys the feeling as he walks next to her. It brings her some ease amongst the chaos. In a way, she trusts him with her life. She knows he won't let her fall.
They come across a bridge after a while. The bridge isn't broken, but still has a gap in it. It has a pull lever attached to it. Cass pulls the lever, watching as their side of the bridge rises up. The second she lets go, it falls back down. Someone has to stay and hold the lever. Cass looks at Jason, before grabbing the lever and holding it down. Jason runs across their bridge side, jumping and making it to the other side. Cass lets go of the lever. In order for her to make it, Jason would have to grab her. She watches as Jason’s back is still to her. Doubt bubbles up in her. He wouldn't leave her, right?
Jason turns to face Cass, moving to the edge of the bridge and stretches out his hand. Cass's doubt fades away as she starts to run. She jumps once she hits the edge, reaching out to grab his hand. She grabs it, and within a second he pulls her up. Jason continues on as she catches her breath, walking slowly behind him.
Suddenly, the Botanist appears before them. Vines start to grow once more as they make a dash away from the Botanist. The more they escape the vines, the angrier the Botanist gets. Up ahead Cass can make out a shed. Jason must see it too, as he runs to it. They enter the shed and Cass moves to barricade the door, while Jason goes on top of a desk. Cass can’t see what he is trying to do but that is the least of her worries at the moment as pounding approaches the shed. She moves a box to block the door as the pounding gets louder. She can’t tell if the pounding is the Botanist or if it's the plants—either way it's breaking the door. Cass blocks the door and turns to see what Jason is doing. That is when she notices the poison. Jason is trying to get the poison. Cass runs to the desk as Jason grabs the poison. He gently drops the bottle to Cass, who runs to the door. They had to time this right. One second too early and they could die from the poison. One second too late and they could die by the Botanist. Jason hops down to join Cass, just as the Botanist breaks part of the door. The Botanist uses the broken door to look through. Cass can’t tell her expression, but she knows the Botanist is mad. This is their chance to hurt, maybe even kill, the Botanist.
Jason grabs the bottle with Cass, walking backwards a few inches, before throwing the bottle at the Botanist. Jason grabs Cass hand, pulling her to an opening in the wall. The opening is small, and will be a tight squeeze, but it is an exit. They don’t have a lot of time to wait. Jason goes first as the poison starts to affect them. Cass can feel the poison entering her body. With every breath she takes she can feel the gas in her lungs. The gas chokes her, her chest getting tighter with each breath, her lungs filling up with the gas. Cass goes through the opening, struggling to get to the other side. Jason is on the ground panting. Her vision starts to get dark as she gets to the end. Cass closes her eyes to focus on the task at hand. She can't take it anymore.
Suddenly, she falls to the ground, the cool air coming to her all at once. The air feels good as she breathes it in. She feels her lungs clear of the gas. A small river flows nearby them, and Cass can see some wooden planks by the river bank. Jason looks at Cass, not knowing what to do now. He is, after all, free from the Botanist; everything else is new to him. Cass gets up, walking towards the planks. If they follow the river, they could get to Gotham City.
Cass makes it to a plank half submerged in the water, and half on the bank. It isn’t as broken down as others, and it looks like it could hold their weight. Taking the river could be faster and less dangerous than walking. Cass turns to Jason, calling to him. He gets up, walking to where Cass is, and they start pushing the plank into the river. They quickly jump on the plank as it starts to float down the river. Jason is the first one to sit on the plank. He sits by the front of the plank, pulling up his knees, hugging them to his chest. Cass doesn’t know what to do. Should she comfort him, or leave him be? She sits down towards the opposite end of the plank with her knees bent. Cass looks around, watching as the garden ends and the city begins.