By Paul-Gabriel Wiener <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: March 2002
Summary: Lois and her faithful dog, Jimmy, talk a walk down the Infinite Yellow Path in the hopes that the King of the Green City will be able to help them get home…
I took some liberties on this one. "The Wizard of OZ" isn't exactly a fairy tale, and then there are all the changes I made to the story and the L&C characters. Hey, it's all in good fun. :)
Thanks to Lena for beta-reading, and to all the nice FoLCs who helped me sort out the ending.
Lois Lane relaxed in Centennial Park, reading a pile of stories written by fans of her favorite TV show. She read on and on, thoroughly absorbed in the pages. Reading was pleasantly addictive (though in a better way than a field of poppies), but Lois soon found herself tiring. Soon, despite the enthralling nature of the fanfic, Lois fell asleep.
She awoke to find herself being spun around by a tornado, the pages of fanfic flying around her. Just as she was wondering what a tornado was doing in Metropolis, the wind suddenly died down. She fell, landing atop a pile of printouts.
She sat there for a little while, stunned and confused. When her head cleared, she realized that she could hear a loud roaring sound. Looking around, she saw a mass of short people, jumping up and down, cheering. "What are you so happy about?" Lois asked, irritated.
"You killed the evil wizard Lex!" exclaimed a surprisingly gruff voice.
"What? I killed someone?" Lois looked more carefully. Sure enough, there was a pair of legs sticking out from underneath the pile of fanfic.
"Yes! The evil wizard Lex! He's been trying to extend his tyrannical empire into our territory for years!"
Lois was very confused, and more than a little shaken at having indirectly caused the death of a fellow human being, evil or not. Lois's reporter's instincts immediately kicked in, trying to sort things out. "Who are you?"
"Oh, right! We haven't introduced ourselves! Quick! Someone get the helium!"
"Well, we always sing our introductions, but these gruff voices of ours don't really work too well for that. So, we use helium to get the tone right."
"You can sing with helium in your lungs?"
"Sure. It kind of makes you dizzy after a while, but it's fun. While Frank gets the main tank for everyone else, let me demonstrate." So saying, the strange little man ran over to a small helium tank. He took a few deep breaths, and then began to sing in a strange high-pitched voice. "Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk, I'm a wanted man, no time to talk…"
"Uhm, that's interesting, but you can stop now."
Unfortunately, the strange little man ignored her. Instead, a few other men like him walked up and started singing the backbeat. "Bum-a-da-bum, bum bum bum, bum-a-da-bum, bum bum bum, bum-a-da-bum, bum bum bum, buuummmmmm…"
Lois edged carefully away from the singers. Noticing that one of the strange little people was standing off to the side, she approached him.
He looked up. "Hi. Sorry about them."
"They always do that?"
"Yeah. They're weird. We all are. What else would you expect at the Mental Institution for Tinies?"
"You don't seem so weird," Lois said, politely ignoring his brightly-colored beanie hat and fluffy slippers.
"Oh, I'm mad as a hatter, but at least I don't go off chugging helium and singing disco music."
"True. So, no offense, but how do I get out of here?"
"None taken. A lot of people seem to want to get out of here. I'd suggest you go see the King. He lives in the Green City. Just follow the Infinite Yellow Path."
"It's not really infinite, but it is pretty long. People here like the name."
"I see… and why does the yellow road go to the green city?"
"Everything here is color-coded. It doesn't always make sense, but at least it works. The Yellow Path goes to the Green City, the Blue Path goes to the main helium tank, the Brown Path goes to the doughnut shop…"
"Yeah. Where do you think all those Munchkins (tm) came from?" He pointed towards a pile of boxes, all full of "doughnut holes."
"Uhm, right. So, the Yellow Path takes me to the Green City, where I can find the King?"
"Yep. Just ask him about getting home. He should be able to help you."
So, Lois headed down the Yellow Path, accompanied by her faithful dog. Jimmy was very good at playing fetch, but since Lois hadn't told him to fetch anything, he'd been sitting quietly off to the side. As the pair left the strange place, they could hear the singers still going.
"…Well, it's all right. It's okay. You can look the other way…"
"Bum-a-da-bum, bum bum bum, bum-a-da-bum…"
"Hey, guys! I got the helium for everyone! We can start the lollypop song now!"
Lois ran for it.
When she stopped, she saw that she was near a cornfield. What appeared to be a man made of straw was busily working on something.
"Hello," said Lois, hoping for a glimpse of sanity.
The straw man turned around. "Oh, hello there."
"What are you doing?"
"I'm sort of a scientist, but I can't get any inventing done because I have to stand here and scare off crows. So, I'm trying to build an ultrasonic device to keep the crows off the field. I'm wiring a simple RC circuit into an operational amplifier which leads into…"
"Oh. That's nice."
"Sorry. I tend to babble on like that. If I had a brain, I'd probably do better at conversation."
Lois was about to respond when she noticed a rat hunched over something. "Is that a rat?"
"What? Oh, yes. She's sort of my pet. Her name is Labby."
"What's she doing?"
"Writing. She's very good at it."
Just then, a mouse walked out of the cornfield, heading for the rat. He kind of reminded Lois of the talking mouse from that movie with Michael J. Fox. "Hi," said the mouse with a friendly wave.
"Hi Stuart," said the straw man. Lois waved.
"Well," she said, "It was nice meeting you, but I should get going. I'm headed off to see the King of the Green City."
"Oh. I've heard the King can do just about anything. Maybe he can help me get a brain. I'll come along with you."
"That sounds good. I could use some company around here. My name is Lois."
"Nice to meet you, Lois. My name is Bernie, but everyone just calls me 'Scarecrow.'"
"Nice to meet you, Scarecrow. So, what about Labby?"
"Oh, she's writing happily. I wouldn't want to disturb her. She'll be fine."
Lois and Scarecrow walked along the path, chatting amiably. Each had a tendency to babble, but with the path so long, neither one minded having something to talk about. Jimmy, utterly devoted to Lois, bounded along beside them. After a while, the countryside changed to forest. Still, the Yellow Path was nicely paved, so they continued on through. Soon, they began to hear a rhythmic thumping sound. Rounding a bend in the path, they discovered a strange metallic creature who was busy chopping wood. Lois was impressed with the stranger's strength and physique. "Hello," she called out to him, hopefully.
"I'm Lois, and this is Scarecrow. We're going to see the King of the Green City. We're hoping that he can help me get home and help Scarecrow get a brain."
"That sounds like a great idea! I'm the Man of Tin. I have great strength and speed, but I'd like to be more human. Maybe this King can help me find a heart."
"It's worth a try. You want to come along with us?"
"Well, I have a lot of responsibilities around here. I'll head off in that direction, but I think I'll stay separate for now. I'll try to keep an eye on you, though, in case you need help."
Lois was disappointed, but didn't want to push the handsome stranger too much. "Well, if you're sure…"
"Yes, I am sure. Thank you, though."
"We'll be going, then. We'll see you further up the path, right?"
Waving good-bye to the Man of Tin, Lois, Scarecrow, and Jimmy continued down the Yellow Path. The forest darkened, becoming more ominous. Scarecrow became frightened, and Jimmy stayed closer to Lois's heel. Lois, of course, took out her flashlight and kept walking. She stopped, however, when she noticed a pair of eyes watching from the shadows. She shined the flashlight over that way, revealing the face of a lion.
"Meow!" said the lion, not particularly fiercely.
"'Meow?' What kind of a thing is that for a lion to say?"
"Sorry," said the lion. "I'm kind of shy, and I don't really like frightening people."
"So why do you do it?"
"It's my job. I wanted to be a writer, but everyone knows lions can't write."
"Well, we're going to see the King of the Green City. We've heard he can do all sorts of things. Maybe he can help you."
"You want to come along with us?"
"Wow, thanks! My name is Clark, by the way."
"Hi, Clark. I'm Lois. This is Scarecrow. The dog's name is Jimmy."
"Arf," replied Jimmy. "Arf" is a versatile expression in the canine language. In this case, the best translation is probably "hey, CK."
The companions continued walking through the forest. Gradually, it brightened, and eventually they came to a large field of flowers.
"I don't think we should go there, guys," said Clark. "I've heard bad things about that place."
"We have to follow the path, Clark," Lois insisted.
"Well, I'm going to stay for a while, then. Maybe I'll catch up with you later." So saying, Clark wandered off.
"'Fraidy-cat," muttered Scarecrow.
"I don't know, Bernie," replied Lois. "Clark seems like a nice lion, and he lives near here. If he thinks this place is dangerous, maybe we should be a little more careful."
The Scarecrow shrugged. The pair tiptoed through the tulips, with Jimmy padding along behind. Unfortunately, tiptoeing wasn't the best way to get through these flowers. They were actually intoxicating. Lois and Jimmy quickly found themselves growing sleepy. Scarecrow didn't know what to do. He wasn't strong enough to carry them, and didn't have anything handy with which to build a cool and useful device.
Then, out of nowhere, the Man of Tin appeared. He ran up, grabbed Lois and Jimmy, and carried them to safety. Scarecrow, not having lungs, was not affected by the flowers. So, he was able to walk past them safely. By the time he caught up with Lois, her head was clearing.
"Hi Scarecrow. Hey Clark. Where did the Man of Tin go? Wasn't he just here?"
"He ran off," Clark explained. "Something about having 'responsibilities elsewhere.'"
"Oh, okay, Clark. … Wait — Clark? How did you get here? And how did the Man of Tin know where we were?"
"Uhm… I, uh, ran into the Man of Tin in the forest. I told him that you were in the tulip field, and he ran to save you. Then, he came back and carried me here."
"Oh, I see." Something about the story nagged at Lois's mind, but she was still a little out of it from the flower pollen. She decided to forget about it for the time being. The companions started down the Yellow Path once more.
Unbeknownst to them, they were being watched by the Evil Wizard Tempus. He had been curious about Lois since she had killed the Evil Wizard Lex. Now, Evil Wizards didn't really get along all that well. As a matter of fact, Tempus was rather grateful that Lex was out of the way. Still, Lois and her friends were clearly the "good guys," and he felt it was his duty as a villain to attempt to destroy them. That Man of Tin seemed like he could become a real problem.
"What to use," Tempus wondered. "What to use? Let's see… out of death trap parts… running kind of low on those spell components, better save them… the fireball launcher is in for repairs… You know, that war with Lex was more costly than I realized… It looks like I'm down to the short range stuff and the flying monkeys. Why did I ever bother getting those stupid monkeys, anyway? They're so ugly and clich‚. Why did I have to go and think they might be fun, just because they were selling them by the barrel? Oh, well. You work with what you've got." Tempus opened the barrels of flying monkeys. "Go get them or something, you ugly little things." Tempus was happy that he wasn't the sort to laugh maniacally. Those monkeys were barely worth an evil chuckle.
The monkeys flew out across the land, seeking their targets. It wasn't long before they had them in sight. Cackling in their maniacal monkey way, they prepared for the attack.
On the Yellow Path, Clark's feline ears picked up the sound of the approaching monkeys. He turned, and saw them. "AAAAH! Look out! Flying monkeys!" Clark pointed them out, then ran screaming into the bushes.
Lois looked to see what had so frightened the lion. "Wow, he was right. Flying monkeys. They're ugly."
"Poorly animated, too," said Scarecrow.
"Woof!" added Jimmy.
Ugly, poorly animated, and woof as they might be, the monkeys were still a threat. The companions prepared to defend themselves as best they could. Suddenly, though, the Man of Tin appeared. He stood in front of them with his trusty axe and invulnerable metal skin. The monkeys attacked him, but they were no match for the powerful hero.
"Those monsters are even uglier when they're dead," commented Lois.
"Better animated, though. I suppose that's just because they're not moving."
"Well," said the Man of Tin, "I should be going. I'll tell the lion that it's safe to come out."
Sure enough, Clark soon appeared out of the bushes.
The companions continued down the Yellow Path, chatting amiably. Lois was impressed with Clark's wit, even if he did tend to run away in the face of danger. In what seemed like no time at all (gotta love those screen wipe effects), they were at the gates of the Green City.
There was a bell-pull hanging in front of the gate. Lois would have ignored it, but Bernie went up and pulled on it. Nothing happened anyway. "If the Man of Tin were here, he could knock on the door," Lois said, "but I don't think anyone would hear it if any of us was to knock. Hmm… Stop fidgeting, Clark. I'm trying to think. Oh well, I'll just have to see if I can pick this lock." So saying, Lois bent over and started working on the gates.
"Hey! What do you think you're doing?"
Lois jumped back in startlement. A small window had opened in the gate, and there was a man looking through it. "Well, no one answered when we pulled the rope, and you wouldn't have heard us if we'd tried to knock…"
"So you thought you'd just pick the lock?"
"Look, lady, the King is a busy guy. No one just gets in to seem him."
"But I need to see him! He's the only one who can get me home!"
"My name is Lois."
"Hi Lois. I'm Bobby. Now, Lois-"
"That sounds familiar…"
"You remind me of someone I know."
"Oh. Well, as I was saying, the King is very busy, and-"
"Hey, Bobby, do they feed you while you're standing guard duty?"
"Well, no, but-"
"I happen to have a peanut butter sandwich here. I was planning to have it for lunch, but if you let us in, I'll let you have it."
"— the King is… Peanut butter sandwich?"
"Not that syrupy stuff?"
"Nope. 100% fruit."
"I'm not supposed to-"
"Got a chocolate chip cookie, too."
The door opened. Lois didn't like giving up her lunch, particularly after having walked so far, but it was worth it. Once inside, they quickly made their way to the King's throne room. As they stepped inside, the image of the King himself appeared before them. He was wearing white robes decorated with shining stones. His dark hair looked rather greasy, and he had grown in sideburns. His lip was twisted in something resembling a sneer. "Hey, baby" he said.
"You must be the King," Lois said, trying to ignore his sexist attitude. After all, she was here to ask a favor.
"Yes, yes I am."
"We heard that you're very powerful."
"Thank you. Thank you very much."
"We were wondering if you could help us. You see, I'm far from home, and I'd like to get back."
"And I need a brain."
"And, uh, what does the lion want?"
"Clark wants you to help him with his shyness," Lois answered for him.
"I see. Well, uh, I don't just help people for nothin'…"
"What do you want?" If this guy's overly macho attitude meant what she thought…
"Hey, you've got suspicious minds. I'm not asking you to love me tender. You don't have to say you love me. I may be a big hunk of love, but I don't press myself on people. If I did, I'd end up doin' the jailhouse rock, know what I mean?"
"Uhm, yeah. So, what do you want, then?"
"You're askin' me a favor here, doll. Treat me nice, okay?"
"Sorry, but your attitude is really getting to me."
"Oh, I feel so bad. Guess I was playing it up a little too much. I didn't mean to sound like I was stuck on you. Truth is, I've got a woman, and she's not you. If she thought I was cheatin', I'd be checking into the heartbreak hotel. So, anyway you want me, that's how I'll be. Let me be your teddy bear, and you can be my little sister, okay?"
"Yeah, uh, sure. So, back to the question- what would you like us to do in return for your help?"
"Well, see, there's this Evil Wizard who's been steppin' on my blue suede shoes, if you know what I mean. Take care of Tempus, and I'll make your wish come true."
"Well, I guess we can try."
"Good luck, then. I guess this is where we go our separate ways."
The companions filed out of the throne room. On their way out, they passed by Bobby, who was looking around desperately for something.
"Hey, Bobby," Lois asked, "do you know how we can find the Evil Wizard Tempus?"
Bobby nodded, but pointed to his mouth.
"What, you want more food?"
"What, you can't talk?"
"Oh, right. Peanut butter sandwich, chocolate chip cookie… I'll give you a thermos of milk if you tell us how to get there."
Bobby nodded vigorously. Lois handed him the milk, the last of her food, and Bobby drank it down greedily. "Ahhhhhh."
"So, how do we get there?"
"Well, if you head off in that direction," he said, pointing, "then he'll usually send out his flying monkeys to capture you."
"He already sent them out. The Man of Tin got them all."
"Oh. Well, in that case, just keep walking that way. It'll take longer, but you'll eventually see his castle."
Thanking Bobby for his information, Lois set off in the indicated direction. Her friends followed along. They kept walking, and sure enough, they came across Tempus's castle.
"Oh, you're here," said the Evil Wizard. "Come on in, we'll chat, and then I'll destroy you."
"No thanks," said Clark, running away.
"Well, you can try, buddy!" Lois exclaimed, charging in through the front door. Jimmy followed dutifully, and Scarecrow came in behind them.
Tempus fired a strange-looking weapon at them, freezing Lois and Jimmy. "Hmmm. Missed the scarecrow. Oh well, I'll get you with the next shot."
"I don't think so, Tempus!" said the Man of Tin, rushing into the room.
"Ha! You think you can stop me? Well, I know your secret weakness!" So saying, Tempus threw a bucket of water at the Man of Tin, causing his joints to rust in place.
Seeing that the Evil Wizard was distracted, Bernie ran up and grabbed his weapon. "Hmm… looks like a simple temporal displacement modulator… If I reconfigure the quantum signature drive by sticking a piece of straw in here, then…"
Lois and Jimmy were freed from their confinement. At the same time, the Evil Wizard Tempus vanished in a flash of light.
"That was amazing, Scarecrow!"
"Oh, it was nothing, Lois. You see, the series of close bonds that hold together the polymers that make up my straw-"
"Think about it, though- you don't need a brain!"
"You're a lot smarter than most of the people I know who do have brains!"
A creaking sound came from the Man of Tin. Lois rushed over to him. "Lois," he said, painfully, "my suit is rusted. You'll have to take it off me."
"What? The tin comes off?"
"Yeah. This wasn't how I wanted you to find out, but there's no other way."
Carefully, Lois pulled the helmet off of the Man of Tin's head. Underneath was a familiar furry head. "Clark?"
"You're the Man of Tin?"
Lois tried to sort out her confusion while she and Scarecrow got the suit off of Clark. "So that's why you kept running off in the face of danger."
"And your strength, it's not because of the metal?"
"No, it's because I'm a lion."
"So, why did you put the suit on?"
"Well, lions are scary. I don't like scaring people. I wanted to help people. Besides, the suit makes me feel more confident."
"Where did you get it, anyway?"
"My mother made it for me."
"Your mother did this?"
"Yeah. She's a really good smith."
"Wow. So, your mom is a smith. What's your dad do? He's not a cross-dresser, is he?"
"No. It's just the way lions are. Lionesses do most of the work, while the lions stay home and take care of the kids."
"Oh. So, let's see. You actually have courage, then. As Clark, you definitely have a heart. What do you really need from the wizard?"
"You really think that, Lois?"
"Yeah, I do."
"Wow." Clark ran up and hugged her. "I guess I don't really need anything from him, after all. I really just needed you."
"So, none of us really need anything from the wizard."
"Don't you want to go home, Lois?"
"Not if it means having to leave you, Clark."
Lois and Clark looked at each other. Their lips drew together, and…
"Woof!" said Jimmy.
"Huh? Oh, you need to go out, boy?"
"Excuse me, Clark. I have to go walk Jimmy."
After Lois and Jimmy got back, the companions decided to return to the Green City. Even though they didn't need anything from him, they felt that they should at least tell him what had happened.
Bobby was surprised to see them, but luckily they had little trouble convincing him to let them in this time.
"Hey, you're back!" exclaimed the surprised King.
"Yeah. Bernie here took care of the Evil Wizard."
"So, I guess you'll be wanting my help then…"
"Actually, no. We solved our own problems. Thanks anyway."
"So, I can drop this stupid act? Whew!"
"Act?" Before Lois could get the question out, however, the image of the King disappeared.
"Yeah," said a gruff voice.
Lois looked around. There was a middle-aged man stepping out from behind a curtain. "Are you the King?" she asked.
"Yeah, I am. The whole 'King' thing was just an act. I can't really do very much, but making people think that I'm very powerful helps me rule more effectively."
Just then, a woman stepped out from what Lois had been sure was a looking glass. "Who is that?"
"That's my wife, Alice."
"Oh," said Alice, "we have guests. Hello."
"Hello, Mrs. King. I'm Scarecrow."
"Call me Alice. Please."
Everyone else (except for Jimmy, of course) introduced themselves. Alice was thrilled to have visitors, since most of the city's natives were too afraid of the King to dare approach. She offered to have them stay over, and they all agreed. Eventually, Lois and Clark became the Green City's heralds. Clark was a very good writer, once he had confidence and someone to take dictation (lion's paws not really being very good at holding a pen). The Man of Tin got his suit repaired, and eventually became the City's hero. Scarecrow got a grant from the King, and started up his own laboratory in the city. Jimmy quickly learned to deliver newspapers, as well as playing fetch. Lois and Clark, of course, got married, and…
"Wh… What?" Lois looked around, only to find that she was in mid-air.
"I found you asleep in the park, Lois," Superman explained. "It was getting late, so I thought I'd better take you home."
"Asleep? It was a dream? What a strange dream. Perry was there, and Jimmy was there… except he was a dog. You were there, too, I think… except that when I pulled off your metal head, you were a lion. I mean Clark. You were Clark."
Superman froze in mid-air.
"What is it, Superman? Oh, that line about taking off your head. Well, see, this guy Tempus… why does that name sound familiar? Anyway, Tempus attacked you with Kryptonite… I mean a bucket of water, and your metal suit was rusting, so you asked me to take it off. Underneath it, though, you were Clark. Strange, huh?"
"Yeah… Strange." Superman started moving again, slowly.
"That wasn't the strangest part, though. In the dream, I ended up married to Clark."
Superman froze, again.
"See, I told you it was strange. The thing is," Lois continued, oblivious to the expression on Superman's face, "the idea doesn't sound so wrong. I'm wondering if my subconscious is trying to tell me something. I mean, he may not be you, but Clark is a pretty super guy, you know?"
"Uhm, yeah, Lois… I'm glad you feel that way." Cautiously, Superman started off once more in the direction of Lois's apartment.
"Oh, sorry, Superman. It's not that you're not a super guy, yourself. Heck, that's practically your name. It's just that, well, I don't think I could realistically have a relationship with you. It was a nice dream while it lasted, but I realized some time ago that it's only a dream. Hmm. Dreams."
"You shouldn't have to give up on your dreams, Lois."
"I'm sorry about all the confusion, though the truth is that it hasn't been easy for me, either." Superman took a deep breath. "What I'm trying to say is that putting on a shiny metal head or taking off a pair of glasses doesn't change the way I feel about you."
"Shiny metal head… you mean… Clark?"
"We have a lot to talk about, don't we?"
"I guess we do."
"Well, let's leave that for later. First, you said something about me not giving up on my dreams…"
"Do I have to draw you a map? Move that shiny metal head of yours over here and kiss me!"
Clark stopped again, hovering in mid-air while he shifted Lois in his arms. He leaned over. Their lips met. They began to drift over the city, but it was quite some time before either noticed.
Later they talked. They had some issues to resolve, and some other things happened. The important part, however, is that eventually it all worked out, and they lived happily ever after.