By Shayne Terry < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Submitted: February 2002
Summary: Alt-Clark finds sorrow and joy in being a hero.
This isn't my story, at least not entirely. I was talking with Marnie Rowe on IRC about her own story Selfish, and she was filled with such passion for her subject that I found myself being caught up as well in the scope of her vision.
I had some ideas for a Lois and Clark story set in the alt-universe, yet based on the same situation, and it flowed easily. Uneasy at the thought that I'd written a story based on an idea not mine, I put it away.
I recently came across it again, and it didn't seem like such a bad story. Hesitantly, I wrote Marnie, and she gave her permission to post, provided I acknowledged her role as the person who came up with the idea in the first place.
I'd like to thank Marnie Rowe for her inspiration and for her permission to post this.
All recognizable characters are the property of DC Comics, Warner Bros and December 3rd productions.
The world drowned in images; photographer's flashes forcing everything into a series of stills. Rain drizzled, washing away the blood, but never the pain. The cries of the fallen were nothing as to the cries of those who remained behind.
He was overwhelmed by a sense of unreality; the hunks of twisted metal loomed before him like behemoths from another age. He didn't want to face what they would represent, but there was no one else. If anyone could save them, anyone else, he would have gladly allowed them; gladly allowed himself to be free of what he knew was to come.
He hadn't seen it coming or he would have stopped it. He'd been busy intervening in other lives. He couldn't save everyone; he'd learned to live with that long ago. All he could do was pick up the pieces.
The rain drenched everything in tears. The world seemed to go silent around him; the only sounds were those of the rain, and those of the flashing bulbs behind him. He was alone, and everything felt off, and strange.
Death was almost a blessing at times. Surcease from pain, freedom from a lifetime of facing the consequences of a moment of indecision. Those who lived would have much to regret; bodies mangled and torn, limbs that no longer obeyed, flesh that no longer had the unlined beauty of innocence. The price for living would be high.
The alternative was worse; endless loss; loss of memories, loss of love, loss of all the precious times that make life worth living. Losing the small pleasures, the beauties, the tastes, the smells of the world. Hot coffee in the morning, the kiss of a lover as they drifted to sleep at night.
He watched over them for those who would be left behind, the children, the spouses, those whose lives would be inextricably altered by the grief of their passing.
The flash of the cameras illuminated one hulk, then another. Each body, each soul had a story, a lifetime of loves and dreams, hopes and aspirations. Each life was its own universe, snuffed out in the space of an instant, and left to the mysteries of what lay beyond.
He wouldn't have been called at all if the accident hadn't been serious. The silence was the worst; no heartbeat, no sighing breath, only the sounds of rain and flashbulbs. He searched one, then another, all without hope, until at last he came across a tiny gasping breath.
A tiny arm was all that could be seen in the mass of twisted metal; only one tiny form had been saved, cushioned amidst the crumpled death all around. The arm waved feebly, weakly, the last flickering vestige of life dwindling away with the passing of every second.
He glanced through the metal surrounding the tiny form as though it wasn't there. He was prepared for the worst; he'd seen death in all its forms and it seemed unlikely that any could have escaped.
He let out a breath, tension he hadn't known he had draining away. The child was intact, its innocent skin unruptured and whole. As though guided by fate, the shrieking metal had formed a coffin around the child and preserved it. The coffin, which had saved the tiny life, was now its greatest foe. None could reach it, free it without rending precious flash, tearing precious bones. The tools and experience of all the men standing around wouldn't be enough to save the child.
But he was there, the pictures flashing, his face in silhouette. This he could do; one thing in all the world that separated him from everyone. This was the thing that made him alone, this mastery over fate and destiny.
He parted the twisted mass carefully, removing only those pieces that could be removed without twisting and tearing, rending tiny flesh. A touch of heat and a slow bend, and he could reach her.
The child wailed without her mother, an orphan alone in the world. Her life would be changed forever, but she'd have life. She'd know the joy of discovery, the unending series of firsts that was childhood. She'd have her first kiss, her first dance, her first love. She'd have all the things her mother wanted for her, just as he'd had what his parents wanted for him.
He handed the tiny bundle carefully to the EMT, then looked regretfully at the twisted mass. So much loss, so much death. Lives twisted, and changed forever.
He looked back at the paramedic, who was smiling at the child as she checked it for injuries.
It was a small moment of joy, but sometimes that was all it took to make it all worthwhile. He'd cheated fate once again, chosen the light over the darkness, and brought a single flickering flame out to light the entire world. Each light brightened the world, made it a slightly better place.
He'd have given it up all long ago, avoided the sadness, the pain, all the agony of the world if it hadn't been for moments like these, when he saw the future in all its infinite possibilities.
He'd drop in on her from time to time, watch her as she grew up and found her own forms of happiness. He might even give her life a nudge every now and again, a guardian angel, and a secret.
He watched them when it all grew to be too much to bear; his own lost parents, both sets, the loss of his one true love. His life was pathos, but it had its own rewards.
They were all his children, the only children he would ever have.
The rain was almost a comfort; it washed the blood away and left hope for a new dawn.
He flew into the night.