By Mike Bishop <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: December 2004
Summary: The Metropolis Museum of Natural Science has the exhibit of the century. Is Lois chasing the story… or is the story chasing Lois?
Disclaimer: Characters not mine, blah blah… property of DC Comics and tons of others… legal mumbo jumbo, penniless college student, yadda yadda… please don't sue. Situations aren't mine either — but fortunately, parody is protected by copyright law.
Okay, so I was at Best Buy the other week and found an interesting thing in their bargain bin: a DVD collection of episodes from the really old Superman cartoons. In and of themselves, they're mildly entertaining. But coming from a more recent Superman tradition, I find their very improbability amusing…
My first attempt at fanfic last night seems to have gotten a decent reception over the course of the day… So here I present a second evening's efforts. Feedback is welcome.
Clark Kent had a broad background. Not that he was accredited in any particular field besides journalism, but he had a broad base of knowledge about a lot of things. No one was surprised, therefore, when Perry White assigned him to the press release at the Metropolis Museum of Natural Science.
When he returned, he was enthusiastic about the new discovery. Lois saw him speaking animatedly with the Planet's science correspondent, and wandered over to hear what had her partner so excited.
"…so they were in Siberia looking for fossils, when they found this thing. An intact dinosaur from the Mesozoic Age, frozen in the ice. Perfectly preserved! This will be our chance to see exactly what they really looked like," Clark was saying.
"What, like Jurassic Park?" Lois asked with a laugh.
"Not exactly, Lois — there, it was only a preserved blood sample. Here, it's the dinosaur itself that was preserved. More like Barjavel's 'La nuit des temps,' actually."
Lois struggled to remember her high school French. "L'ennui des temps, that's bored of the weather, right? You're saying the dinosaur wasn't frozen, he was bored stiff?" Lois asked, perplexed.
"No — '*La* *nuit* des temps' is a beautiful, tragic love story recounted by a woman who was frozen in Antarctica for ages. Except that in that one, she was still alive and they were able to revive her…" Clark mused about one of his favorite books.
"Whatever. Back to the lizard?" Lois asked impatiently. Romance did not bring in the next story — though she might have to acquire a copy of that book later. Purely research, of course. She wanted nothing to do with romance and French in the same sentence.
Clark nodded, and took up the story again. "They brought this thing here on a giant ship with a huge refrigeration unit on it, and they're setting up a giant freezer in a special wing of the Museum so scientists can study it, and the public can see it as well."
"In the middle of summer? That's going to increase the museum's power bill a good bit…"
Clark's literary reference was more apt than he realized, for at that very moment a scientist from the Metropolis Museum of Natural Science was speaking to his editor.
"You mean to say that if the ice were permitted to thaw, there's a possibility the monster might still be alive?" Perry asked incredulously. At the other man's affirmative, he said, "Thank you, professor!"
After calmly hanging up the phone, he bellowed, "LOIS!"
"Yes, Chief?" she responded from across the newsroom.
"There's a new angle on that frozen monster story. Get over to the museum and see what's going on."
"Okay, Chief!" Lois responded. She had learned her lesson about stealing stories from Clark, but if she was handed one, she wouldn't refuse.
On her way out, Clark stopped her. "Hey, Lois. Want me to go over there with you?"
Lois smiled. "No thanks — you'd probably faint if you saw the monster! You scare so easily."
As Lois left the newsroom, Clark said with a laugh, "Maybe she's right — but Superman hasn't fainted yet!"
Lois had managed to talk her way into the workings of the special display, and was being given the behind-the-scenes tour by a technician. "…and produces the necessary refrigeration. The control board's downstairs — I'll show it to you," he said, setting a container of oil on a shelf.
As they proceeded down the stairs to the control board, neither person noticed that the vibrations of the heat pump were causing the container to slowly slip down the length of the shelf which overlooked the device.
"The entire plant is operated from this floor," explained the technician. "The thermometer must be watched *constantly*, as any rise in temperature might prove dangerous."
Noticing that they were the only two in the control area, Lois was about to ask who had been "constantly" watching the thermometer during her tour. However, at that moment they heard the racket of the oil can finally slipping off the side of its shelf.
Strange sparks and flashes were coming from the turbine, which was now grinding ominously. As technicians ran to the machine, one of them yelled to the man at the controls, "Cut those switches!" Lois's guide reached quickly for the emergency cut-off and the safety and pulled them both. As the massive heat pump whirred slowly to a halt, the technicians wasted no time reaching in to search out the cause of the failure.
"Boy, what a story!" Lois exclaimed. As the technicians climbed and hammered and probed, Lois noticed the thermometer, which was once again not being "constantly monitored" during the crisis. She observed that it was marked, not with numbers, but with four values: "Zero," "Freezing," "Melting," and "Danger."
Under her constant observation, the red column rose steadily through the settings. As the museum's stock music — strings, Lois noted absently — swelled ominously, it climbed steadily closer to "Danger." Lois observed that the hot summer day was already working against the swiftly-repairing technicians — water was dripping on her from the rapidly melting ice. Her notes would be ruined!
When the column actually reached "Danger," an alarm sounded. The technicians looked up momentarily, then returned to their repairs with frantic haste. Meanwhile, chunks of ice began detaching from the frozen block and its supports, falling to the ground like fat snowballs from the disinterested hand of a child.
The guards, who had been informed of the theory that the beast might actually be alive, began a hasty evacuation of the building. "Outside, everybody! Step lively, please! There are exits located at the front and rear of the museum, as well as two emergency exits by each restroom. Take a moment to locate and use the exit nearest you, bearing in mind that your closest exit may be behind you. Please, folks, keep moving! We have to clear this room at once!"
Lois peeked out the control room door, and opted not to start following instructions today. "That's what he thinks!" She went instead into the room with the frozen dinosaur. She noticed a telephone booth next to the exhibit. While Lois was uncertain as to the point of a telephone booth in a dinosaur exhibit, she wasn't going to miss the chance to phone in a story this big!
She had to hide behind the booth briefly while one of the officers on duty called the police station in a panic. "Hello, Chief? Send the riot squad — we're in trouble!"
As the panicked police officer fled the room, Lois took over the phone. Seeing the beast's jaws start to work themselves, opening and closing, she knew she had a juicy story to call in — eventually, it might be up for yet another Kerth!
She heard the shriek of metal as the Tyrannosaurus tore away the overhead supports that were the remains of his super-freezer. Lois looked up into bloodshot eyes, and said, "Hello, Planet? Get me the city desk. Hurry!" as she watched the monster stretch as if after a long nap.
Lou awoke, feeling a bit sluggish, but rather well rested. And hungry. Really hungry. <It feels like I haven't eaten in forever!> he thought languidly. He noticed his feet were encased in boots of ice and stomped around a bit to clear them. As he stretched, he tripped on the remains of his boots and stumbled forward. He noticed that a bug or some such creature was peering out of a box that he accidentally kicked over, right before his stumble led him to knock down the wall of the box he was in.
<Strange… I don't remember going to sleep here.>
He pushed through the wall, curious as to his whereabouts. Outside the box, it was much warmer, and far more comfortable. He made his way out, furious at having been enclosed in the box. Was this another of his brother Rex's jokes? If so, it wasn't funny.
<I swear, the boy thinks he's the king of us all…>
As soon as he got out of the box, he felt an itching on his chest. Looking down, he saw more bugs, and the white puffs of the black twigs they carried seemed as if they had something to do with the itching. He didn't like it. He tried to step on the bugs, but they ran away too quickly. His foot crunched down instead on a larger black and white creature with four round little feet.
<Curious insect,> he thought. <Haven't seen any of these bugs before.> He continued to walk along a narrow trail between large, brittle trees. His cold feet caused him to stumble several times, and he accidentally broke off pieces of the trees he passed as he careered into them.
Ellen was walking back to her apartment, her arms full of toilet paper rolls. She really hadn't intended to get this much, but the store had a special, and she was a sucker for a sale. She walked along, absorbed in thoughts of how she might train herself to only buy as much as she needed when a rather large man ran past her, yelling, "It's alive!"
She looked up and screamed. She threw her toilet paper to the ground and ran. Whatever that thing was, it most certainly *was* alive — and making sure she stayed that way too outranked any good deal on toilet paper. But if she'd only bought one or two rolls, she realized, she could have carried them with her when she fled. Never again would she overstock, Ellen vowed.
When Clark saw on the news that the monster was running "amuck", he immediately corrected, <Amok. Don't these people beta-read their reports?> Then he realized what that implied. "Chief!" he exclaimed, "Lois is in the museum!"
"Better get over there, Kent."
"Right!" Clark strode purposefully toward the supply room, removing his jacket en route. He turned on the light inside, and the silhouette of Clark's rapid change of clothes was clearly visible to the entire newsroom.
Cat Grant looked on hungrily, but as the light turned off and the door cracked open, everyone looked pointedly away. Superman sidled quickly out of the Daily Planet supply room and walked casually to the elevator.
"Does the boy honestly think we don't know, when he does that five or six times a day?" Perry asked the room in general after Clark had left.
"Mmm, I'll not say a word so long as he keeps changing clothes where I can see it," Cat purred.
Superman wasted no time when the elevator reached the lobby. As soon as the doors were open, he flew out through the lobby of the Daily Planet, knocking over a hapless pedestrian walking by the front entrance. "Sorry!" Clark called s he sped into the skies of Metropolis.
Realizing that a flying target might be conspicuous for the huge creature, Clark decided that it might be safer to make his approach a little more casual. Perhaps the creature wouldn't realize his target if he appeared to be out for an afternoon stroll. So, rather than flying at full speed toward the ruined museum, Superman began to skip like a happy child. If little children's skips could take them from one rooftop to the next, that is.
Reaching the rubble that had once been the Museum of Natural Science, Superman pushed aside the massive blocks of stone that obscured the door. He heard Lois's heartbeat inside, and knew she was alive — she seemed… not calm, quite, but not in a panic. Still, she wasn't calm — which meant *he* was in a panic to know she was safe.
Once Superman had uncovered the doors, he raced inside. The throng of people who hadn't made it out and had gathered by the entrance looked up with surprise as a blue blur flashed past, not even stopping to ask if the bearers of the makeshift bandages needed assistance. The one who could still walk easily pushed open the door and stumbled outside in hopes of paramedics.
Clark zeroed in on the one heartbeat that mattered in that instant, and called, "Lois?"
Lois had been fuming — her story was out there! Getting away! And she couldn't follow it, why? Not for any good reason, like being dead or something. No, she was trapped underneath a stupid construction girder. Of all the silly-sounding excuses for not getting a story, trapped in rubble? No one would believe her.
When she heard Superman call, she sighed his name contentedly. He would get the girder off her, and then she could pursue her story. He did indeed, and she almost tried to kiss him. But then he had to go and ruin it by declaring, "You'd better get back to your office where you'll be safe. I've got some work to do."
"Yes, dear!" Lois said, her fingers crossed behind her back. Once he had leapt to the roof of a nearby building, she muttered, "And miss the best story in years? No chance!"
Clark heard Lois, and sighed. <Well, I was entitled to hope. She's on foot — maybe I can deal with this thing before she catches up.> Playing it safe, he resumed his earlier stratagem of hopping nonchalantly across the roofs of the city.
Lou had found a swimming pool. He still didn't know where he was, but he was sure it had been quite a while since his last good swim. The water was nice and warm, though only about hip-deep. <Not good enough for a nice, satisfying dive,> he sorrowed. <Oh well — maybe this is just the kiddie pool and there's a bigger one around here somewhere?> He waded to the opposite edge of the pool, and tried to climb over.
Unfortunately, Lou was too big and too heavy. As he attempted to climb, the wall gave way, and the kiddie pool began draining. Oh well — he didn't see any people about, so maybe no one would realize he was the one who broke their swimming pool.
Clark had almost caught up with the monster, which had fled into the mountains, when he saw it rip out the midsection of a dam. The water from the lake above the dam was rushing over the homes below, threatening to destroy the houses. He was sure everything in them had already been thoroughly soaked. Rushing to prevent more damage, Superman pulled off the top of a nearby mountain — <I'll hear about this from the EPA, I'm sure…> — and cast it into the lake.
The mass of stone and dirt lodged at the hole in the dam, reducing the water flow to a trickle once more.
Lou had followed the water until it deepened again. It was still only knee-deep, but it looked like it might get deeper if he kept going. Unfortunately, there was a long stick and some vines across his path. And a big leaf, with bugs on it spitting water at him. <Gross!> Lou thought, pushing past the bugs and through the stick barrier quickly.
Superman watched as the monster capsized a boat of firemen who had tried valiantly to ward the monster off with their high-pressure fire hoses. He accelerated when he saw it rip the bridge across Hobb's Bay in two, rushing to catch the falling piece of motorway. He lifted it on his back, careful to hold it even with the portion of the bridge still standing. Once he had everything even, he grabbed a nearby support beam and wedged it in place to keep things level. Not really safe, but motorists would dare the bridge whether it was safe or not, closed or not. <I'm glad I don't have to drive very often!> He tied the beam in place with cables that had been torn loose in the destruction and took flight once more.
By this point Superman had dropped his hop-skip-and-jump routine. The beast didn't appear to notice him, regardless of what he did. By now, it was more important to catch up.
Lou saw something ahead of him that looked interesting. <A sandbox! Memories of hatchlinghood…> He smiled, but then recoiled when he saw that the sandbox was filled with bugs, and very little sand.
<The dinosaur is headed for the stadium!> Clark was worried. He didn't seem to be able to catch up to the beast fast enough to deal with the damage it left in its wake *and* stop it. He had to do something to delay it…
Spotting a spare length of cable from the bridge that still had chunks of pavement attached to either end, he had an idea.
Mentally blessing the man in Peru who had taught him to throw a bola, Clark began whirling the length of suspension cable over his head. He hurled it, spinning, at the Tyrannosaurus. It wrapped the beast's legs and sent it sprawling.
Lois rushed from her taxi (leaving a furious unpaid driver), into the stadium's press gate, and up the stairs to get on a level with the monster. The best story in years — and she needed a picture to go with it!
Lou didn't know what had happened. One moment, he was walking to have a closer look at the sandbox, the next he was lying on the ground. And… a BUG was tying his hands? <What's going on?> he thought forlornly.
As his head lolled by the sandbox, he saw a light flash by his head. Easily distracted, he thought, <Ooh! Tasty!> and reached to suck up the lightning bug.
As he finished securing the monster's claws, Clark heard Lois. More precisely, he heard Lois shrieking from inside the mouth of the creature! He darted to the head, inside the closing jaws, and used one arm to hold the creature's mouth open. He extended his other hand to Lois, and flew out of the creature's thrashing mouth as soon as she had a hold.
Yet again, Lois somehow managed to go from holding his hand to being snuggled up against him with her arm around his neck in the fraction of a second it took him to clear the creature's teeth. <How does she do it? Not that I'm really complaining, mind, but it's just not the appropriate time!>
He set her down firmly on the ground, instructing, "And this time, stay put!"
"Yes, m'lord," Lois replied facetiously. Then she thought better of it, and added, "And thanks." Looking up, she gasped as she saw the long serpentine neck craning to bring jaws down on the pair of them.
Superman launched himself into the monster's neck, knocking it backward, until it lay momentarily grounded. Bending a lamp post over the creature's neck, it was finally secured for the authorities to deal with.
Upon her return to the Planet, Clark complimented her, "You showed plenty of courage getting that monster story, Lois!"
"Thanks, Clark, but where were you?" she inquired.
"Oh, I don't know… I must have fainted!" Lois couldn't quite place the ironic expression on his face, but decided to ignore it and work on her story.
Lois wrote up her adventures with the freed dinosaur. The next day's headline proclaimed "SUPERMAN SUBDUES ARCTIC MONSTER: SAVES CITY FROM DESTRUCTION". She *did* enjoy the look of her by-line.
Superman did indeed hear from the EPA about ripping up the mountain. And from the city about the destruction of a lamp post, and his appropriation of municipal building materials for use as personal weaponry. And from landlords city-wide whose roofs had cracks where Superman had skipped across them in high speed pursuit. But since they couldn't find Superman to serve him with the suit, they sued the museum instead, for letting the creature escape in the first place.
Clark wrote up the Metropolis City Zoo's acquisition of the monster. The original plan had been to refreeze it, but the ASPCA had lobbied forcefully against that plan. The zoo's offer to use it as the foundation for a new "Extremely Large Reptiles" exhibit had made him slightly nervous, but seemed to settle the bureaucrats.
Lou woke up in a resort spa. He still didn't see any people around, but he had a swimming pool, and the bugs brought him food several times a day. He quickly learned that a strange itching feeling accompanied any attempt to eat the bugs, so he restrained himself to eating only what they brought him. While it would have been nice to have a visitor or two, he had a place to sun and a swimming pool, so he was content.