Catriona Stewart: Batgirl, defeated by no one, meets her match in Glasgow

·6-min read
A member of the public passes a sign in Glasgow, near the film set of the new Batgirl movie  Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
A member of the public passes a sign in Glasgow, near the film set of the new Batgirl movie Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

"HEY!" There was a man leaning over the bonnet of the Batmobile, reaching out a grubby hand towards the windscreen.

"Hey!" she called again. The man ignored her. She broke into a jog. The man was millimetres away from touching the black carapace of the borrowed Dodge Charger when she launched herself through the air, feet first towards his villainous body.

Her brain was working overtime. Who had sent him? Was he in cahoots with Killer Moth? What did he want?

"So you like being kicked in the head, huh?" she shouted.

The man spun round and her foot connected with his nose. "Holy smokes!" he yelped, pointing to a sign on a post above the car. She noticed his pathetic disguise, dressed up like a parking warden.

"It's £5.40 for half an hour," he said, touching his hand tenderly to his already swelling cheekbone. He was giving her a ticket.

"How much?!" she yelped. "£5.40," he said again. "The mayor wants to encourage active travel."

It was her turn to yelp. Being Batgirl was a vocation and, even with Bruce Wayne's backing, there was no way she could afford those kind of costs. She realised the parking warden was calling the local cops to report an assault.

This was the last thing she needed. It was time to go.

Batgirl took the car back to her temporary Batcave, old mining tunnels under the city's Southside. The car had been a mistake. She wanted to blend in, look like a local. A bus, she would see the sights of this new city from the bus.

Using her genius-level hacking skills, she attempted to access the bus timetable. Reams of numbers swam past her eyes. There was an electronic display on the bus shelter but the figures on the website bore no relation to those on the stop.

Triangulating the times, she realised four buses should have already gone past but none had.

An old lady sitting on a bench looked at her. "Oh, you'll no' get a bus here, hen. Naw, there's meant to be four 4s every hour but you're lucky if one turns up a day." The woman let go of the handle of her shopping trolley and pointed along the road. A sign glinted in the rain.

Queens Park train station.

Batgirl opened her Bat-backpack and pulled out a Bat-cagoule. Her research had led her to believe it was summer in this town but something had gone wrong somewhere.

Pulling up her hood, Batgirl headed to the platform. She'd see less scenery this way but it was imperative she make it to George Square - and fast. The future of the city depended on it.

The platform was deserted, bar one man waiting near the closed ticket office. Suddenly, he was next to her. "Rats the size of cats," he whispered.

She whipped her head to look at him. "What?"

"Rats," he said, pausing for effect. "The size of cats." She waited, not quite sure what she was waiting for anymore. A train? A puma-sized feline?

An empty soda can rattled past her feet and she followed the progress of its blue and orange packaging. It clattered to a stop by a pile of trash bags, all propped up around a garbage bin.

Now she looked around, Batgirl realised there was litter everywhere. "Natgirl," the man said.

The whole situation defied reason. She hadn't realised there was another superhero in this city. "We've been abandoned," he added, pulling a newspaper clipping from his pocket.

It showed a woman dressed in a yellow and black plaid suit holding a child on one hip and a thistle-shaped sword on the other.

"You never see her," the man whispered, "She never comes here any more. Natgirl doesn't care about the state of the streets, she only wants one thing."

Ka-pow! Something clocked the man on the head. He tumbled forward onto all fours. A woman had appeared, seeming to emerge from the train tunnel.

"He's full of shite," she said. "Natgirl's going to save the city."

Batgirl helped the man up. "Listen," she said, "I'm here to fight back against a bunch of bureaucrats. I just need to catch a train. Is there one?"

The man looked her square in the eyes. "You don't stand a chance," he said.

It was now desperate measures. Batgirl had re-styled a bike for just such an emergency. She had spotted a cycle lane near to the station. Surely this would take her straight to the City Chambers.

It was still raining but she had endured worse. Batgirl started pedalling. She was picking up speed. This was going well. Suddenly there was a man walking right down the middle of the bike lane.

But... there was a wide expanse of pavement right there. "Hey!" she shouted. He had headphones in. He didn't budge.

Batgirl swerved the bike round him, tutting. She picked up speed again, feeling good. Bam! A van driver pulled out into the junction, nearly sending her headfirst into the side of the vehicle.

He gave her a thumbs up, as though he hadn't nearly killed her. What the heck was wrong with this town?

But she was off again, she was moving. This isn't so bad, she thought and then... Wham! A cab was parked right in the bike lane. Her only option was to pull out into on-coming traffic and take her chances.

A crisp packet blew off the pavement and clipped her over the head.

Batgirl had used her fortitude and courage to regain the ability to walk after the dastardly Joker shot her in the back. Yet she had tried to navigate her way two miles in a straight line on public transport and failed. She wanted to kick this entire city's butt up around its ears.

Since 1967 Batgirl had dedicated her life to fighting crime and defying anyone who tried to run her out of her hometown. Too small, too girly, too weak - Gotham had mocked her and she had fought back against them.

It had given her the courage to think she could help this city. She had thought this would be the start of a new life, a life filled with joy and light.

She squeezed on the brakes, her front wheel barely missing the taxi. Something brushed against her calf and she looked down. "HOLY SMOKES!" she screamed. It was a rat the size of a plump ginger tom.

She had got to get out of Glasgow. She was heading back to Gotham.

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