By Sunrei <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: November 2002
Summary: All Hallows Eve (Hallowe'en) descends upon The Daily Planet and a skeptical Lois Lane comes face to face with fear in this brief tale that will keep you guessing.
Much appreciation goes out to the wonderful FolCs at Zoomway's message board for the great comments and encouragement. This is my fourth endeavor into the mystical art of fanfiction, but the first story sent to the archives. I would also like to send my gratitude to the people who are giving their time to maintain and moderate these great sites so we have a place to share.
This story came about on Hallowe'en evening, and was my contribution to the 'festivities' of the night. The time frame is mid first season, and as always, I have no claim to the rights of the characters. All other disclaimers apply, and feedback is always welcomed.
"Trick or Treat, Lois!" Jimmy grinned, tossing a miniature pumpkin in her direction as he glided past her desk. A fake knife was protruding from his chest amid smears and spatters of a dark red substance in abstract patterns on his shirt.
Lois caught the small orange squash and groaned. It was nearing the end of what had turned out to be a very long day.
It was October 31st, or Hallowe'en as many around the world called it, and even though it was more of a child's event than anything else, a large number of her colleagues had decided to get into the 'spirit' of things. Costumes and face paint seemed to be the dress code today, and even though she'd complained to Perry about the lack of business attire, he'd only laughed and donned an Elvis Presley wig.
. Even her mild mannered partner had seemed to delight in the festive atmosphere of the newsroom. He could be seen opening his coat jacket in a flasher-type move, revealing the top of a batman outfit beneath. Not to mention Cat, the resident gossip columnist. Well, in Lois' opinion, she wore a costume everyday, but today she'd 'accessorized' with a pair of cat ears, a painted nose, and whiskers.
Turning in her chair, she threw the pumpkin into the trashcan. She was not in the mood for this 'celebration of dead saints' tradition and thanked the stars that Perry hadn't approved an office party this year. In fact, she dreaded the whole idea of passing out candy to little goblins and clowns, which is why she'd decided to work late.
'No candy, no ding-dong ditches, no tricks, and no little witches,' she thought to herself. Smiling at her impromptu rhyme, she focused her attention back to her computer screen.
The newsroom was steadily emptying out, as parents sped home to help their kids get dressed for a night of free candy, and the younger singles headed off to parties. Lois looked up as Clark plopped into the visitor chair next to her desk. He pulled her pumpkin out of the trash, and began to toss it in the air repeatedly.
He caught Lois' glare and stilled his impromptu game of catch. "So," he said, leaning his arm on the desk, and cradling his chin in his hand. "You're not going to stay here all night are you? C'mon Lois, it's Hallowe'en!"
"Hallow-smhallow. Look Smallville, the best reporters don't sleep, don't eat, and don't breathe anything but the news." Flipping her hair, she began typing again.
"Don't have fun…" Clark muttered.
"I heard that," she shot back around a pencil. Snatching it out of her mouth, she spun to face him again. "Hallowe'en is a stupid kiddie freak fest."
A loud gurgling noise caught both of their attentions and they saw Jimmy across the room pretending to die as a Zorro-clad Ralph pulled a plastic sword from his armpit.
"Case in point," she replied, frowning. "No, thank you, I think I'll pass on the fun tonight."
"You should really think about it. I mean, with all the disguises I've seen you in, I'm sure you could come up with a killer costume."
"Disguises for udercover work and costumes are two different things," Lois replied, unsuccessfully trying not to smile in response to Clark's cheesy grin.
Clark's face took a serious expression. "Really Lois, I don't think that it would be such a good thing to stay here alone tonight. Things can get kinda crazy on nights like this- a little wilder than normal."
Lois crossed her arms and countered his look with a gleam in her eyes. "Aww, who's afraid of the big, bad wolf? C'mon Kent, don't tell me you buy into all this supernatural stuff. There's no such thing."
"I don't know. I mean, I've seen some pretty crazy things over the years, and it seems that most of it happens around this time of year."
"You mean like the ghost of the Kansas City Central Station, or the haunted corn field behind Smallville High? I don't think so."
Just then Jimmy came up and tapped Clark on the shoulder. "Hey CK, you ready to get out of here?"
Clark's expression didn't change. "Yeah, I was just trying to convince Lois not to stay here alone tonight."
"Yeah, Lois, he's right. You know the newsroom is haunted, right?" At her look, Jimmy continued. "No really! I was looking up some unexplained events for Myerson's column, and I pulled up one from the archives about these deaths that always seem to happen here on October 31st. CK, you read it, tell her."
Clark seemed to get uncomfortable and he just shrugged. Seeing his reluctance, Jimmy lowered his voice and told the story.
"It's been going on since 1923. This was the site of some Asylum back before The Planet bought the land. It seems that every few years there's an unexplained death here. It's always when someone's here alone, and never happens on the years when there's a staff party. The maintenance and cleaning crews always refuse to work this night. The article was printed about 15 years ago, and the author hadn't figured out if there was any kind of pattern as far as the years of the attacks."
"And where is this author now?" Lois asked sarcastically.
"Disappeared. Seemed he wanted to prove that he wasn't a crackpot when no one believed the story. They said it was folklore, even though he wrote it before Halloween. Anyway, he decided to stay late and check it out for himself. The next morning, he was gone. No trace of him except blood on his chair and a bloody handprint in the elevator. Get this, the hand had no fingerprints and it was shaped like a skeleton's hand."
Clucking his tongue, he looked around at the room, which was empty save for the three of them. The sky had darkened and the newsroom was oddly lit, as the night-lights switched on. "Whatever the case, I wouldn't stick around tonight." With that, he headed in the direction of Perry's office.
Lois laughed and caught Clark watching her curiously.
"Ghost stories," she remarked. "Just an excuse for a lack of investigative skill. The guy probably realized he was coo-coo and staged the scene to save himself the embarrassment. There is always a logical explanation for everything."
"About as logical as a man in tights who can fly?" Clark asked, finally allowing himself to shake his graven expression.
"Ah, really? How?"
"Because I've seen it," she shot back as if that explained everything.
"What about the skeptical girl whose friends dared her to stick a knife in a grave on Halloween night and they found her dead in the morning?"
Lois chuckled. "She accidentally stuck the knife through her own skirt and thought the dead person was pulling her leg. She died of fright. Scared herself to death, you could say."
"And the tell tale heart? The knocking as it grew louder… and louder… and louder?" Clark asked in a soft voice leaning close to her.
"Guilt caused him to hear what wasn't there. See? Logic. Unlike this whole celebrate the dead thing."
"Actually, Halloween came from an old Celtic practice. They celebrated the beginning of the new year and the upcoming winter on November 1st, so the night before they would have a festival. I guess with it being the last day of the year and all, they believed that the souls of the dead would return to mingle with the living. To scare away the evil spirits, they would wear masks and light bonfires, sometimes carrying these fires inside of pots made from the shells of dried out squash."
"What are you, a history buff or something?"
He shrugged and set her pumpkin on the desk. "It was my minor in college."
Standing up, he seemed to study her thoughtfully. "Well, call me and I'll come back to walk you home when you're finished."
"That's not necessary. I drove in today; besides, I wouldn't want to interrupt your plans."
She glanced in the direction of the editor's office. . "What are you guys getting into tonight? Trick-or- treating?"
Clark smiled and turned to leave. "Something like that. Just… be careful, all right?"
Lois rolled her eyes and started chewing on her pencil again as she tried to remember what she was writing about.
Hours later she sat back in her chair and rolled her head to loosen the stiff muscles in her neck. She was sitting in the darkened room alone, for the night-editor had turned off the main bank of lights after finishing his duty an hour before. Lois shook her head as she pictured Jimmy's face while telling her his story. He had been right about one thing though, the cleaning crew had not come in, and it didn't look like they planned on making it.
A ding sounded the arrival of the elevator, and Lois turned to see who it was. As the doors slid open, the car's interior light flickered but no one was there. Sighing she relaxed into her chair. It was late, and she should be heading home; all the city's littlest citizens were tucked in bed.
The security guard had probably started to come up on his rounds, but changed his mind, thereby sending an empty elevator car to the newsroom floor. Logically, it was empty when it got there.
She typed a few short commands into her computer, saving and closing the file she was working on. She felt the hair on the back of her neck bristle and sighed as she reached to smooth them down. Amazingly, a filmy white plume of condensed air appeared in front of her face, and she was struck with a sudden chill running down her spine.
"Someone just walked over your grave," she muttered, repeating an old wives idiom her grandmother used to say whenever some one got the sudden urge to shiver inexplicably.
Touching her screen, she saw that a thin layer of frost had developed, which melted under her fingertips. Frowning she rubbed her hands over her arms and shoulders to warm them against the sudden change in temperature.
The elevator dinged again. Startled, she turned to see that the car had not moved and that its doors were still open. As she watched, the light flickered again and blinked off.
"There's a logical explanation for this," she said as if someone else was in the room, but, at the time, she couldn't think of what it was.
Peering cautiously around the vacant newsroom, she began chewing on her bottom lip; a habit she had when she was in deep thought. Suddenly, the remaining lights flicked off, leaving the room in pure darkness. Her computer screen provided the only light, and she subconsciously moved closer to it.
"Not tonight," she growled at the uncooperative overhead illumination system. Her logic said that the power had gone out, although she refused to take into account that without power her computer should have shut off too. Rummaging blindly through her top drawer, she pulled out a thin Magnum flashlight and clicked it on. It was not much bigger than a penlight, so the light that it gave was relatively miniscule compared to the vastness of the darkness around her.
Standing, she made her way toward where she knew the ramp to be, intending to find the light switch on the far wall. A swishing sound signified that the elevator doors were closing, at which point her flashlight gave out. She was now too far away from her desk to make any use of the light emitting from her computer screen. She also was too far away from the ramp to make use of the banister. She'd spun around when the doors had sounded, so now she wasn't sure what she might walk into if she tried to move.
"I am not amused," she called out.
Another slight sound caught her attention, and Lois caught a glimpse of something moving quickly by the window behind her. Trying to focus on it, she found herself looking at some kind of shape made of small floating particles. They seemed to be continuously rotating and moving while keeping in the same pattern. As if part of a single unit, they moved closer, and in the swirling, she thought she could make out the outline of an arm with a hand.
Logic said that it couldn't be real, so she reached out to touch it. As soon as her hand got to the spot where it should have been, the particles moved as if they'd been blown, and they fell to the floor. Lois turned slowly in a circle, suddenly finding herself on a path lit by candles. They hadn't been there before.
The path led back to her desk, where her computer monitor was no longer illuminated. Behind her, the darkness hid the way to the light switch, and it no longer felt like a good idea to pursue it. Slowly she made her way back to her chair, trying to fight the thought that something was going to reach out and grab her ankles at any minute.
At her desk, she grabbed her purse, and noticed that her little pumpkin now had a bright red face drawn on it. Gasping, she turned and briskly walked back down the candle-lit path, pulling her cell phone from her handbag. It beeped in protest when she pressed the call button, claiming to have found no signal. Tossing the phone into her purse, she started shaking the flashlight, which she still held tightly in her left hand. When she reached the end of the path, the light blinked and tuned on.
She jogged toward the elevators, dodging the other desks and chairs as she went. At the elevator she pressed the button and put her back to the doors, darting her eyes about the darkness of the room. Shadows were eerily shifting from the dancing of the flames from the candles that lined the center aisle.
Suddenly, the fire from the two farthest candles went out. Seconds later, the next farthest ones were snuffed, and it felt like the darkness had become a force that was coming toward her. Keeping her flashlight pointed to the room, she reached behind her with the other hand and began pressing hard, multiple times, on the elevator button. Logic told her that it wasn't going to make the car come any faster, but she didn't really give a… well, you know.
The dancing flames were being extinguished steadily, and when there were only two left, the doors of the elevator behind her slid open, and the overhead lights flew on.
Shocked by the sudden change in atmosphere, she stumbled backwards into the elevator just as the doors were wide enough to fit through. Losing her balance, she fell backward into a body.
"Arrgh!" she exclaimed, her voice barely above a whisper. It seems that in the midst of extreme terror, a person is unable to scream as it is depicted in movies.
Spinning around to face her killer as the doors slid shut, she found herself looking at a familiar black and gold symbol.
Reaching forward, she forcefully tucked herself into the batman-clad chest of her partner.
Somewhat shaken by her sudden lunge into his arms, he reached to envelop her in a tight embrace. He was about to ask her what was wrong, when she shifted positions. Not feeling close or safe enough, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled, making him hold her against his chest. Her heart was pounding, and she was panting heavily against his neck.
He had been prepared to explain the logic behind her whole ordeal tonight, how Superman had seen her dozing at her desk through the window, but…well… this felt really good.
Logic would have to wait.