Batman and the Toyman: Play Dead, Prologue: Welcome to Gotham City

by HarveyKent

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Donna Zurmuehl would often sum up her job in a single word: boring. Donna worked the midnight to eight A.M. shift at the toll plaza on the Metro-Narrows Bridge, which connected Metropolis and Gotham City; its official name was the Siegel-Kane Bridge, but it was rarely called that. Few people used the bridge at those hours, so Donna’s job mainly consisted of reading magazines. Of course, the disillusioned thirty-three-year-old would sum up her entire life with the same word. She often wondered just when her life had changed, where the point was that the optimistic high-school student with her whole life in front of her had become a clock-watcher, counting the days until… well, until something.

The shine of headlights startled Donna out of her wool-gathering. A car was approaching; of course she couldn’t tell what kind of car — all she could see was headlights until the car was at the toll booth. Donna yawned and sat up straight on her stool, ready to collect the driver’s money.

“Two dollars, please,” Donna said, with a half-hearted attempt to keep the boredom out of her voice as the car pulled up alongside the booth.

“Here you are,” the driver said, handing Donna a five-dollar bill. The driver was a pleasant-looking man, chubby and apple-cheeked, with little, round-lensed spectacles balanced on his nose. He had a wide, chipper grin on his face, even at the ungodly hour of three in the morning.

“Out of five,” Donna said, opening the change drawer.

“Please keep the change,” the man said, smiling.

“Thank you,” Donna said with a reciprocal smile. This was rare. “Welcome to Gotham City.”

“Thank you, miss,” the cheerful-looking man said with a nod, and drove on his way.

As Donna put the three singles into the pocket of her canvas uniform pants, she couldn’t help but think that there was something familiar about the driver. Like she had seen his face before, but not in person — on TV, or something. She realized that he looked a lot like that new announcer on The Price Is Right, the one who took over when Johnny Olson died; that was probably it.

Donna turned back to her newspaper, turned a page to finish the article was reading. She saw an advertisement for a big sale at We-R-Toys.

Then she called the police.

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