Eddie sighed as he took that first step on the stairs to his basement. He left the light off as he took each step down into the dark cellar where he was keeping Jim.
“So, Jimmy boy…we’re going to have a talk.” Eddie answered as he hit the bottom of the stairs. “A good…” he flipped the light on. “…long talk.” He tossed his old cane up, grabbing the bottom end and smacked the handle across Jim’s jaw. “Sorry. I needed that.” Jim groaned. He scraped an old metal chair across the basement floor, hearing loud screeching as he set it across from Jim and sat down. He smiled. “Anything on your mind?”
“We can start with why you have me down here almost two days.” Jim answered.
Eddie nodded in silence. “Well, you clearly didn’t learn anything from the last lesson I tried to teach you. Did you ever figure out what it was?” Jim just stared back at Eddie. “What do you get when you put two things that don’t belong together, together? Hm? Nothing? Well, the answer is you get a lot of problems, and those problems will always come back to haunt you. You did something…very unspeakable to my girlfriend, and that problem came back in me.” He smiled. “You got off on bail. Yeah, you had your scholarship pulled and kicked off the team for a semester, but you can rebuild.”
“You’re frickin’ insane, Nashton.” Jim whispered.
“No.” Eddie shook his head. “Not insane, enlightened. No matter what you do in this world—help a friend, tell the truth…none of it matters, Jimmy my boy. I learned myself, believe it or not. The only one I can help…truly help…” he leaned in close. “…is myself.” He stood up and walked around Jim’s chair. “You know my dad always thought I was cheating my way through school? He was always saying, ‘don’t you lie to me, boy.’” He scoffed. “It was impossible for him to accept the fact that I am as smart as I am.”
“Apparently not smart enough to know not to kidnap someone! Twice!” Jim shouted before—WHACK! Eddie hit him with the cane once more.
“Don’t interrupt please.” Eddie answered as he resumed walking. “Even in high school, he always showed up to the conferences drunk—a complete embarrassment to his child.” He sat down in the old chair again, sighing. “Finally, my teachers asked him not to come back. Even after, every A and 100 I brought home, he asked me whose paper I copied my answers from.”
“Sucks to be you, Nashton.” Jim said trying to catch his breath. He smiled. “I was on the football team, got to make out with the cheerleaders. You know, I got to be one of the cool kids.”
“And it’s the cool kids who end up pumping gas for the rest of their lives.” Eddie answered. “So, in my own need for…validation, I suppose, I found the perfect outlet for my intellect.” He chuckled. “Showing off by revealing the idiocy in others, which brought E. Nygma to life.” He continued to chuckle. “I’m quite proud of myself for going as far as I have.” He leaned in close to Jim and whispered. “I can go even farther.” He smiled. “And it all starts with you. No scratch that. It started with my dad.” Jim’s eyes widened, fear growing within him. Eddie nodded. “Oh, yeah, Jim. If I can do that to my own father…what do you think I can do to you?” Eddie could hear the sound of Jim’s breath shudder, and it filled Eddie with exhilaration. “Nothing to say, Jimmy Boy?” He gave Jim a smile, but got no answer. “No, nothing?” Eddie nodded. “Okay. Let’s do this.” He twirled his cane through his fingers and put the curved handle around the front of Jim’s neck. Eddie whistled to himself as he walked behind the chair Jim sat in.
Eddie chuckled and smiled, and pushed Jim’s chair forward with his foot and pulled back on the cane with both hands. He could hear the sound of bubbles popping in Jim’s throat as the minutes passed, watching as Jim’s body went limp. He kept on for a few more minutes to be completely safe before relaxing. He pulled the chair back into a stable position and grabbed a rubber glove from a nearby box on his dad’s old workbench. Eddie pulled back the latex across his fingers and after the snap, he pressed his first two fingers on Jim’s lifeless neck—no pulse.
“Never did like you, Jim Hastings. Like the rest of the world, I was only nice to your face.” Eddie answered with a sigh, once again, feeling a large weight lift off him.
══ The Next Day ══
Eddie once more walked with an extra level of energy in his time on campus. He had no more loose ends in his life, and all the freedom he could ask for in his future. Eddie could see Nina hanging out in the Student Building with a man about his age, making the guess that was her boyfriend. He did his best to ignore it and walked towards the building where his next class was.
Why are we bothering with this? Nygma asked in Eddie’s head. We have better things to do.
Eddie did his best to ignore it, trying to shake the voice out of his head, but it was not going away,
You’re not getting rid of me so easily anymore, Eddie. I’m here to stay, embrace it. Face it—I am you. Nygma said. Eddie growled at himself, nearly being unable to take it. Let me in, Eddie. Together, we can do so much more. We can be unstoppable, and we can prove it. Eddie, was ready to scream. He ran to his car, from the quad and turned over the ignition.
══ Back Home ══
Eddie slammed the front door behind him, running into the kitchen, turning the sink on full flow with warm water and splashed it on his face, doing his best to catch his breath. “Come on, Eddie. Get ahold of yourself.” He looked through the kitchen window above the sink, looking out into the backyard. “It’s just in your head, man. It’s not real.”
Oh, I’m very real, Eddie. I told you—I’m you.
Eddie finally could not take it anymore. He screamed as loud as he could and threw everything off the counter. He was hyperventilating, looking down at everything he knocked over. Eddie finally managed to compose himself, and he ran to his room, grabbing a bag and stuffing it full of clothes and his laptop and a few spare notebooks he kept for school.
“I need to get out of here.” He whispered to himself. After zipping up the bag, he went for the door to his bedroom, eyeing the cane propped up against the wall. In silence, Eddie stared at it, wondering. His mind made up, he grabbed the cane and gripped its shaft as he went to the car. He threw the cane in the back seat and turned the engine over once more. Eddie sighed, giving it some thought. “I may as well.” He shifted into reverse and backed out of the driveway of his childhood home for the last time.
══ Pandora’s Box ══
Eddie walked in the lounge, seeing a few men sitting around without shirts on and women Eddie assumed were their Mistresses. He walked over to the bar and flagged down Diedre Vance.
“Can I get you anything, Nygma?” Diedre asked.
Eddie shook his head and extended his hand. “Heading out for a while. Not sure how long I’ll be gone, so I wanted to say good-bye.” He smiled. “It’s been fun.”
Diedre took his hand and shook it. She smiled. “Shame. We’ve barely had time to play.” She gave him a look. “I have a feeling we’ll meet again though. Somewhere down the line.”
“I look forward to it.” Eddie answered. He got up from his seat and exited the lounge. As he got back up to the main floor, he waved good-bye to Johnny K and exited Pandora’s Box. Eddie found himself back in his car. He sat there for a moment, looking at the refelction of his eyes in his rearview mirror. “Nygma…Edward Nygma…” Eddie smiled. “I like it.” He turned on his car. “Not like I want to be Eddie Nashton anymore…” He backed out of the parking lot and drove off toward the highway.
══ Some Months Later ══
Red and blue lights shine in Eddie’s rearview mirror. With a sigh, he pulled over to the side of the road and put his blinkers on. He was unsure of what was going on—it was almost the middle of nowhere with barely any buildings around. He saw the cop car that pulled him over was a state trooper and he rolled his eyes as the policeman approached.
The police officer tapped on Eddie’s window and he let the window down. “You know how fast you were going?”
“Roughly 57 miles an hour, which is three miles under the speed limit.” Eddie answered, looking to the cop through his window. “Hardly a reason to pull me over on an almost empty road.”
The cop smirked. “You got me there. Sorry to say, sir, that your license plate matched that of a missing person’s report filed in Gotham about four months back. May I see your license and registration?”
“I’ll save you some time. My name…is Edward Nygma.” Eddie said as he thrust the butt of his old cane through the window, striking the cop between the eyes, knocking him down. Eddie stepped out of the car after shutting it off, removing a small machine the size of a cell phone. He put it to the cop’s ear and left it there. “This little device should wipe out your short term memory.” Eddie looked to the cop car. “As for your dash-cam, I have another little piece of tech for you. One of the many things I’ve built in my spare time.” He removed what looked like a computer joystick from his pocket. “An EMP burst.” He pressed the button on the control and the cop car shut down immediately. He looked down to the cop and took his device from him. “You won’t remember a thing, and the EMP will have wiped the camera’s memory for me.” He got back in his car and turned it back on. “I’ll come back to Gotham when I’m good and ready.”