The Ending Story
by P.H. Wise
Disclaimer: I blame Joe. Also, I don't own any of this.
"I don't understand," Atreyu whispered.
The Childlike Empress's eyes now looked truly ancient - old and weary and sad. "Some men aren't looking for joy, Atreyu, or for love. Some men don't want the gifts that Fantasia can give. Some men just want to watch the world fall into the Abyss. Into the Nothing..."
"But it can't end this way! I came so far! I fought so hard...!"
The Childlike Empress shook her head sadly. "He won't name me. He could, but he won't. He'd rather see it all burn. He wanted to watch us struggle, and that's why he kept reading, but ultimately, he wants to watch us die. I'm sorry, Atreyu."
The walls of the palace crumbled around the two, laying them bare at last before The Nothing. There, in her last moment, the Childlike Empress looked up into the Nothing and into the eyes of the one who watched from beyond paper pages with undisguised glee. "Why won't you say my name?" she whispered.
As if in response, she heard a dim, faint echo whisper the words, "Why... so... serious?"
The Nothing took her.
"Let me see if I understand the offer you're making. You're going to open the resources of this... magical kingdom you've devoured," the Joker's tongue flicked out across his painted lips, "and give me my pick of anything I want from within it?"
*ANYTHING,* the voice of the Nothing replied, *NAME YOUR REWARD, AND IF IT YET BE UNDIGESTED, IT IS YOURS.*
The Joker licked his lips and thought about that for a bit. Then he grinned widely. "I know just the thing."
It was a quiet night in Gotham City. Batman had gone to ground, and the city was still mourning the loss of Harvey Dent, district attorney. None of that mattered to Hank and JoeBob, asylum guards at Arkham. No, they were happy just to have a night without those damn stoners disturbing the patients with their revels - they'd taken to the spot just across from the patient dormitory for their gatherings.
A sudden clattering of cans announced the arrival of the stoner kids, or so they thought. Thoroughly annoyed, Hank and JoeBob ambled their way over to the western fence to shoo them away.
... and that was when a horrible crackling maw of the Abyss opened in the asylum's wall, inside of which was... Nothing. Light fell into it and ceased to exist. It was there for barely a fraction of a second, but within that moment, they saw into the heart of Oblivion, and it unmanned them: a warm, wet trickle made its way down each of their pant legs.
A moment later, a gigantic furry dragon zoomed out of the hole even as it snapped shut behind the beast, the Joker riding on its back. "YEAH! YEAH!" the Joker whooped, and laughed wildly as he zoomed out of sight into the Gotham city night.
JoeBob and Hank exchanged incredulous glances.
"Did we really just see...?"
"... Are we going to report this?"
The two guards turned around and went back the way they came.