(author's note: I apologize for what will be a rather uncomfortable read for many people, I do this not to shock but because I want to try and rid myself of personal demons.. I have chosen to do so my exposing the past of Night Owl - the events of this story have great relevence in the future.. for obvious reasons..)
Michel lay in the corner of a dark basement, his skinny form as naked as the day he was born and covered in angry scars that refused to heal - curled in a defensive position he shivered as he looked around at the now familiar signs painted all over the walls that had been his home for eight painful years, his hair long and unkempt, his eyes tired and blurry due to many restless nights and days spent in half-light.
To add to the boy's misery he was chained to the wall by a large collar designed to choke him if he strayed too far, his neck already red raw from years of having to wear the collar - due to hours of being left like this the basement had a distinct smell of human waste, Michel unable to help himself as he heard footsteps above him.
Michel shivered more as the footsteps stopped and the sound of a door being unlocked echoed down the stairs, a dark figure walking down to the basement and causing Michel to curl up further against the wall - his eyes filled with fear.
The figure was dressed in a dirty apron not unlike that used by factory workers when handling raw meat, in one hand they held a ritualistic dagger and in the other hand was a torn piece of paper with a sign on it.
Most frightening of all was that the figure's face was concealed under a burlap sac, with a single hole cut into it to allow the figure to see - heavy boots slamming against the floor as the figure headed towards Michel and grabbed the boy by the shoulder, causing him to cry out as he struggled.
Yet it was in vain as the collar held him in place and the figure twisted Michel's arm back with enough force to stop his strugglings, tears rolling down his eyes as he called out: "..f-father.. p-please..s-stop..".
"NEVER CALL ME THAT!" the figure roared, tugging further on the boy's arm and causing incredible pain in his already frail form - "..You are a canvas for my work - nothing more!".
Michel could do nothing as he went limp, unable to fight and knowing better than to try and speak again - closing his eyes and clenching his teeth as the dagger was slashed continually against his exposed shoulder, forming a sign as the figure's eye darted between the suffering boy and the piece of paper crumpled in his hand, still holding him in place.
After what seemed like an eternity the figure released Michel, who fell to the ground crying - turning as if to leave, yet as Michel continued to cry the figure spun around with surprising speed and delivered a powerful kick to the boy's stomach, causing him to fall down and gasp for breath as his shoulder continued to bleed.
The figure simply turned away and headed back up the stairs, tossing the piece of paper on the floor as he left - Michel clutching his stomach as he shivered:
"..I'm s-sorry.. I'm s-so.. s-sorry..".