By Cain Mann <Super_man_cain@yahoo.com>
Submitted: May, 2006
Summary: Lois and Clark's son is missing.
Clark's head was savagely throbbing. His thick, black hair was wet with perspiration. He could feel the dampness from his perspiration on the crimson silk pillowcase. He could hear "Yaba, Daba, Doo" blaring loudly in his head. He struggled to sit up. The ache within his knees screamed fits of anguish to his throbbing head. Even his feet, which made contact with the frigidly cold oak floor were sore. With his aching hands he propped up his heavy head. A deep moan reverberated from the abyss of his tortured soul. He struggled to regain his balance before almost falling from their bed. A piercing "caw, caw" assaulted his ears. It was if the volume was cranked up to its highest level. He struggled to control it. Usually, controlling his hearing was instinctive, just as controlling his heat vision had become. Nothing was working as it should have this morning. Even during the night, control had escaped him.
Nightmares had dominated his fretful sleep. The agonizing screams of a small child and then a deep male voice had echoed in and out of consciousness, at the break of day. The blood-chilling screams had been replaced by the sound of the splitting of wood and metal slamming on tile. Broken glass slamming on to the floor and banging into the hallway wall was repeated over and over again.
Clark listened. He turned his head, listening for the most comforting sounds in his world. He turned his head like an antenna. The one sound was there. The other painfully absent. Still cradling his unrelentingly painful head, he smiled. Every muscle protested movement. Clark smiled again as he recalled his night of insatiable passion with his wife. Now he felt as though he had a severe Kryptonite hangover, if there was such a thing. He had no idea what had caused the pain.
Clark could hear the soft tap of Lois's slippers on the tile floor in the corridor leading to their toddler's bedroom. The three sounds assaulted his ear simultaneously, Lois's gasp and then her scream. The sound of the splattering of the contents of a full coffee mug and then the muffled bouncing of that mug upon the carpeted floor in their son's room slammed into his ears. He could hear her heart race.
"Lois, honey, I'm here…what's wrong?…Are you hurt?…I'm here, honey," Clark pleaded for her to answer him.
"He's gone…our baby is gone…someone…something has taken him…" Lois sobbed and slipped from his arms and slumped onto the floor next to the splintered bits of wood that had once been Jon's bed. The Whinnie the Pooh sheets had been pulled from the mattress. Urine had pooled in the large concave indentation in the mattress. Hanging from a piece of splintered dark, cherry wood near the guard rail of the bed was Jon's Superman print pajamas. The pajamas looked as if they had been ripped from Jon's body with such force that the edges of the fabric were frayed and shredded.
"What rage could have caused such a violent assault on an innocent child?"
Lois' hurtful sob made Clark realize that he had said the words aloud. Jon's bathroom door had been ripped from the hinges. The frame of the door was torn from its place and nails rested haphazardly on the bright blue carpet.
Clark did not want to leave his wife's side so he visually zoomed into the bathroom. Urine was splattered onto the yellow toilet seat and more was in the toilet bowl. Shreds of toilet paper were on the sink and the tiled floor. A steady stream of cold water splattered into the yellow porcelain sink. The spilled dark brown liquid from the mug slowly absorbed into the hem of Lois' black silk robe and her white terrycloth slippers. She hung her head and sobbed, seeking comfort in the fruitless tears. She repeatedly murmured as she rocked back and forth, "Jon…Clark, my baby's gone…help him, Clark."
Clark's alter ego jumped into action. Clark needed the Superman part of his analytical mind. Jon's toothbrush was popped into two pieces. "What violence," thought Clark. He picked up Lois and carried her from the room. The cool morning breeze rushed in from the opened front door. The front door had been ripped from its frame as well. Splinters were scattered here and there in the hallway. The coat closet door teetered against the shattered mirror. "Why? Clark…who would do this to our baby, to our home? Why?" whispered Lois. She motioned for Clark to put her down.
She staggered into the kitchen. Cheerios were everywhere. They were scattered on the oak kitchen table, under the table and several lead out the back kitchen door. Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble were laughing with Wilma and Betty. Lois smirked and turned off the flat screen television. The kitchen's oak door, like all the others, had been violently ripped from its frame. The door was cracked in several places and rested face down in a pool of mud and water. Cold water poured from the green garden hose. Then she saw them. She called Clark, who was visually scanning every knob in the kitchen for fingerprints. Lois knew what he doing. She just knew. Clark was attempting to harness his rage. She saw the steel set of his jaw and the clenched fists.
"Clark, look at this." Lois pointed to the muddy foot prints that lead from the lawn onto the cement path and out through the gate. Whoever had run from the house was barefoot. The gate was pushed open invitingly. He heard it before he saw it. A large white-paneled van door slammed shut. The driver implored the engine to start and pulled slowly from the neighbor's driveway.
In full regalia, in his signature crimson and blue, Superman snatched the door from its hinges. The elderly gentleman gasped and placed his right hand on his now teetering stack of The Daily Planet newspapers. "Superman…what's wrong? What did I do?"
"Mr. Hoffman, I'm sorry…I apologize…I thought you were someone else. Let me fix this, please." In two minutes Superman had expertly welded the car door hinges back into place. "Again, I apologize. Have a good day, Mr. Hoffman." Superman waved as the newspaper delivery man drove away.
"I wonder how he knew my name?" said Mr. Hoffman as he continued hastily down the tree-lined William Jefferson Avenue.
Clark could hear the police sirens in the distance. They'll be here in a couple of minutes. Mrs. Lane…I'll be back in a few minutes…to assist you and your husband," Clark stated professionally so that the several neighbors who had come out of their homes and were milling around in the street would hear him. Lois thanked him politely.
"Lois, honey, come inside. The police have arrived," called Clark. He had finally had the presence of mind to cover his muscular frame with his black silk robe. Locks of his disheveled thick, black hair blew in the summer breeze. Clark smiled slightly at Lois as she walked into their home. She nuzzled her nose against his warm cheek and intertwined her left hand with his. Their platinum wedding bands brushed against each other as did their silk robes, producing a soft swish. Both found the slight sound comforting amidst all the clamor of the police radios and neighbors' children laughing behind their fenced-in, safe yards.
The five member evidence team gathered splinters, nails, cheerios, bowls, the broken toothbrush and Jon's shredded Superman pajamas into neat plastic bags. Even the urine from his mattress was collected, bottled, sealed, and labeled. Clark noticed one member of the team searching for something in his leather bag. Superman scanned the bag and saw a set of tweezers.
"He must need them to gather something from the mattress," deduced Clark.
He scanned the mattress and saw a long brown hair on the sheet. Superman analyzed the DNA structure of the hair in seconds. It was Kryptonian. He could not let that hair leave the room. He couldn't think of a plausible excuse for Kryptonian hair being on Jon's mattress. Unless it was Jon's and how could they explain that to inquiring minds?
Superman realized that it might have belonged to one of the vermin who had stolen his son. In any event, the hair must not leave the room. Clark coughed and blew the hair down the heater vent. The man searched the floor with a magnifying glass, shrugged, scratched a note in his evidence log and walked out.
Three other members of the evidence team sealed Jon's blanket and the two pieces of the broken stainless steel spoon in a separate bag. Each article was tagged and labeled. Clark smirked at the bitter irony of the cold sterility with which these professionals dispatched their work, juxtaposed against the impassioned furor and uncontrolled rage of the people or creatures who had stolen their son. Clark felt that he would have laughed out loud had not his emotions been stolen as well.
"Clark…I hate to intrude on you and Lois now. I need to ask you a few questions for the investigation." Inspector Henderson pointed Clark to the den. It was a large, honey-colored, cool room and the only room in the house that seemed to have escaped the wrath of the interlopers. Lois sat in a large chocolate-covered, plush suede chair and toyed with her wedding ring. The platinum band looked wide on her small finger.
Clark had designed the wedding ring for her. It had been a surprise gift on their tenth anniversary. Ten diamonds were placed within the band in a pattern that looked like a flowing river. In the center of the band was a flawless two caret diamond. He had told her that the flow of the river was like their love, continually changing but eternal. He had mined the diamonds and the gold himself. He had humbly admitted that Martha had helped with the placement of each stone, she had said that it was the least she could do for such a precious daughter-in-law. Clark knew that Lois was not really looking at the ring, but seeking comfort.
He sat close to his wife and stroked her soft hair that brushed the back of her long neck. She smiled and traced her index finger up and down his thigh mindlessly. She sighed, waiting for the questions that had to be asked and the painful answers that had to be given. It was a process that she knew well after years of being an investigative reporter.
Inspector Henderson cleared his throat and flipped his notepad to a clean sheet of paper. "Who discovered that Jon was missing?" He cleared his throat again.
"I went to go to the bathroom and decided to check on the baby as I always do," said Lois. The memory of it was crisp in her mind. " At first I didn't notice…that his bedroom door was missing…can you believe that…I didn't notice." Lois looked at her wedding ring again. "I saw that his bed was…torn apart…disassembled…as someone or something…had ripped…" Lois' voice deteriorated to a whisper." I think I screamed…or I…called Clark…I'm not sure." Lois looked at Clark. "I knew he could be there in an instant." Lois turned the ring around again. "I ran to his bathroom…then into the kitchen…I saw pieces of shattered wood and glass everywhere." Tears escaped from her eyes and her bottom lip quivered. "Clark joined me in looking. We found nothing…no one…our son…our baby was gone."
Inspector Henderson fought to keep his emotional distance, but Jon was like a second child to him and his wife, Rosa. They had babysat the boy when he was an infant. Since he and Rosa had waited over five years before conceiving their son Jason, they thought maybe God had intended for them to help raise someone else's child. Helping Clark was important to them as well. Clark had introduced Bill Henderson to Rosa Rivera. He told Bill that Rosa was intelligent, bilingual, a Baptist and a forensic expert. Bill had been reluctant to meet Rosa. But Clark had goaded him into it by asking him how could he refuse a free meal, good wine and a chance to listen to Clark's prized jazz collection. The pleasant memory dissolved as the hum of the air conditioner broke the reverie.
"Have you received any death threats lately?" asked Inspector Henderson, looking at both Clark and Lois.
"No more than usual. We usually average three or four a month," replied Lois. Clark shook his head in agreement.
"Has Superman?" Both Lois and Clark quickly glanced at each other. Clark heard Lois' heartbeat quicken.
"What do you mean, Bill?" Clark asked as innocently as he dared.
"It's a long shot, but maybe someone may have threatened the friends of the big guy in order to stick it to him." Bill leaned back in the suede chair, closed his eyes and continued, "Be sure and ask him the next time you see him. One of the neighbors, a Mr. Hoffman, said that Superman flew in to help you look for the perpetrators around 7:30 am. Did he find anything?" Bill looked at Lois.
"Nothing. Superman said that he may have frightened the bejibbers out of Mr. Hoffman. He thought that Jon had been thrown in Hoffman's paneled van. Is Mr. Hoffman okay? Superman asked me to check on him."
Clark looked at Lois. She tapped his hand with her index finger. This was their secret signal that Superman's secret was safe. One of the female police officers whispered in Bill's ear. Clark's hand tightened slightly around Lois's hand and his olive complication drained to grey.
"I see. Let me know when that has been confirmed." Bill turned his attention back to the couple. "We've always been honest with each other…we've been painfully blunt. There may be blood on the back door. We don't know whose or what's yet, but I'll let you know." Bill asked the countless other questions he needed to ask.
"He was thorough as ever," mused Lois to herself.
He shook their hands and left. The rest of his investigative team had loaded into their vans and driven away. Lois followed Clark into Jon's room. He stood at the window, gazing into the distance. Jon's battered bed was gone. A new, clean window was in place. New, unpainted doors were on Jon's bedroom and bathroom. The room smelled clean. A tinge of lemon and Clorox had settled in.
"Bill said that we could clean up. His team had all the…evidence they needed." Clark's voice sounded cold and distant.
"Clark, do you remember years ago when that magician hypnotized you and made you see you what you feared most? You almost…died…because you just bottled…up your fears… You promised that you would never…force me out like that again. I'm holding you to that promise. Clark…don't force me out. I need you now…I need you…" Lois hugged his waist.
Clark did not move. He did not breath. "Lois, this time is different. I am Superman. Super…man. I was licking my wounds…lost in ghoulish nightmares…when my son was stolen from me. I did not protect him. I did not keep them from my son. I did not protect my house from monsters. I have failed as a man, as a father, as a member of the house of El," Clark's voice was steady and steel-like.
"Clark Kent — Kryptonians may have taken him. Most of them are not my idea of ideal manhood. The virtual lot of them were liars, ego maniacs, murderers, and…" Lois fumbled for the right word to end her tirade.
"Weak. They were weak. Like. I. Am." Clark spun and flew from the room, down the dark corridor and out the new front door.
Lois slumped onto the chair, pulled her knees to her chest, clasped her arms around them, and cried.
"Inspector Henderson, may I come in?" Superman swaggered into the small, white office. "I understand that I may be able to assist with a blood sample you found at the Kents this morning. Clark said that I may be of service."
Superman looked at Henderson. He gazed was so demanding that Henderson felt uncomfortable. "Well, I don't know what you have in mind. Can you identify blood? Even Dr. Klein is stumped. It definitely is not human. He's not sure if it's a man or an animal. Do you think you may have the answer?" Bill raised his eyebrow.
"I can identify the Kryptonian blood construct," said Superman coldly. "Shall we go to the lab then?" Superman said impatiently. He held the door open for Henderson and marched toward the lab with his cape swaying from one side to the next.
Inspector Henderson explained the circumstances to Dr. Burns in the lab and Dr. Burns stepped back to let Superman look in the electronic microscope. Superman did not need the instrument but he humored the man. Superman sighed. "This man is Kryptonian." For a moment he leaned his hand onto the marble countertop.
Henderson and Dr. Burns looked at each other sniffing the air for the cause of the strange smell.
They looked down and saw Superman's hand print smoldering in the ebony marble as wisps of smoke ascended into the air.
"Good Morning, Metropolis! This is Susan Sunshine bringing you the latest news in town, out of town and around the world," said the perky radio broadcaster. The radio whimpered and fractured into tiny slivers of plastic and plastic powder under Clark's half-hearted tap.
"Oops," Clark sighed.
"I think that's number 15 and it's only April," Lois said and pulled the Egyptian mauve sheet over her head.
"I'll get another one. The CVS has them on sale again, clock radios just aren't what they used to be. I only tapped it," murmured Clark.
"I have an anonymous special request this morning. I received it yesterday but didn't get to it until now. This is for you and your main squeeze… since the caller wanted to remain anonymous I'm calling him Mr. From Way Out of Town. Here is the tune you requested, the golden oldie, Strangers In the Night." Susan Sunshine sounded as perky as ever.
Clark pondered the song request for a moment. "Could it be a veiled message? Hidden messages are right up Tempus' alley. H.G. Wells said that Tempus had been rehabilitated through thought re-imaging. I better stay on my toes," thought Clark.
"Are you okay…are we okay?" Lois asked thoughtfully. She knew that something was on her husband's mind and after his distancing himself from her yesterday she was adamant about him not slamming the door on their communication.
"Sure, honey…I told you…I apologized about yesterday. I knew better than to leave when things are heated…or I feel…like a failure. I know I can't…fix everything…or be everywhere at once," Clark confessed. "I'm sorry, honey," he continued feeling his foolishness anew. Clark reached for the ringing telephone.
"We'll be right there, Bernie."
Bernie blinked. He had not hung up the phone yet.
"Thanks for coming so quickly, Superman and Lois." Dr. Bernard Klein had known Clark's secret for five years. He could feel Superman's impatience. "He's right over here. We enclosed him in this sealed, bulletproof room. It has the strongest locking system known to man." Dr. Klein pointed to a young, dark-haired man. "He's maybe twenty years old. I called you, Superman, because, by all accounts, he's Kryptonian. The purple rose he's holding was originally in that six inch, thick glass enclosure. He wanted it and put his hand through the glass to get it. We got him to go into this large, sealed room by placing food inside. He can get out if he wants to, obviously. We can no more stop him than we can you." Dr. Klein shrugged. He watched Superman study the young man as he paced back and forth in front of the sealed, large enclosure. The young man's back was to them.
"When did you find him? What has he told you about himself? Is he friendly or violent?" Lois was in full reporter mode.
The young man turned when he heard her voice. He ran to the door and turned the door knob, which snapped the lock as if it were a toy. He ran straight for Lois. Lois panicked and ran for cover behind Superman. Superman caught the young man in his arms, cradling him like a sack of potatoes. The strange young man smiled and tried to speak. Clark noticed long, purplish-black streaks on both sides of the man's throat. He adjusted his super vision. The marks were scorched into the skin. The healing had been recent. The young man hugged Clark again and stuck his thumb into his mouth, sucking it. Apparently trying to speak was painful for the young man.
"They look like laser burns. The esophagus and vocal chords must have been burned," said Dr. Klein. "He seems to like you, Superman. Maybe he recognizes that you two have a lot in common." Dr. Klein indicated that they should follow him to his office. "His blood is that which was found on the sheet in Jon's room." Klein looked at the floor.
"What…are you sure, Bernie?" Clark lifted the young man from the floor and held him aloft. Superman's eyes filled with rage. The young man saw the fury and burst into tears. Superman lowered him to the floor at Lois' gentle urging. Superman could not look at the tears streaming from the young man's face. The horrid sounds struggling from him broke Superman's heart. Lois released Superman's arm and hugged the young man, rocking him gently as she stood close to him.
Superman's rage flickered again. It faded as he admitted that Lois could react in no other way than to comfort the broken man. Dr. Klein silently handed Superman a thick folder. The folder detailed all the data that Dr. Klein and his staff had collected on the young man in the past twenty-four hours. Highlighted in yellow was the notation that the young man had grown seven inches in those twenty-four hours and appeared to have aged two years. Superman also read how the young man had reacted with pain when briefly exposed to synthetic Kryptonite.
The young man's super strength had recovered within five minutes. Superman knew that was a much faster recovery time than his own.
"We gave him a pencil and a legal pad so that he could write answers to our questions. He drew a flower." Dr. Klein sighed. "Could he be the by-product of a Kryptonian and human? Maybe he is the result of the copulation of one of Nor's men with a human captive during the invasion," theorized Dr. Klein.
"He's a man not a by-product," snapped Lois, "He's a helpless, wounded child," cried Lois as she stroked the young man' hair. "He needs kindness…not analysis. He needs…" Lois let her voice fade away.
"He's not a child, Lois. He may be the cold-hearted manic who stole Jon from right under our noses," barked Superman. "We've got to make him tell us where Jon is right now, I'll make him tell us." Superman's rage was growing.
Lois released the young man and placed the legal pad and pen in front of him. The young man smiled at her and began drawing. Lois tiptoed out of Dr. Klein's office and Dr. Klein and Superman followed.
"Ripping his heart out won't give you the information you crave, Clark. Might will not win this one for you no matter how much you want to even the score." Lois was fuming. She was rarely without words, but her anger had pushed her words back down her throat.
"Maybe we just need to ask him to take us to Jon…maybe that's all we need to do." Lois was desperate. She knew that Clark's anger would not be placated much longer.
"Ask him," retorted Superman as he folded his arms across his chest. Dr. Klein nodded in agreement. Lois returned to Dr. Klein's office and stroked the young man's hair and smiled at him.
"Do you know where you live?" Lois asked softly. The young man nodded a strong yes. "Can you show us how to get there?" The young man nodded yes. "Is there a boy at your house who looks like this? Lois asked gently, retrieving a photograph of Jon from the wallet in her purse. The young man nodded yes. He looked at Clark and pointed to himself. Clark stepped in front of Lois.
"Are you the boy…in the photograph?" The young man nodded yes. Clark's legs almost gave way. "You're…name is…Jon. Jon Kent." Clark felt the tears gather in his eyes. The young man smiled broadly at him and nodded yes.
"It must be the synthetic Kryptonite. I must have had some of the residue on my clothes when I brought those Superman pajamas to Jon yesterday. I thought the wet detox shower was enough…maybe I needed the dry vacuum suction as well. Lois…Clark…forgive me…I've been working on creating an antidote against the effects of Kryptonite for so long…I guess…I was careless. I failed all of you…I made a sophomoric mistake…I failed little Jon…forgive me…please forgive me…" Dr. Klein looked from one to the next.
"How could you have been so careless, Bernie? You've ruined our lives…you've stolen our son! Get out of my face. I never want to see you again! I don't want to even hear your name spoken in my presence!" Superman's body trembled with anger. Rage radiated from his body. He was physically hot to the touch. Lois touched him anyway.
"Bernard made a mistake. We've all made them. Even you have, Superman. A little more than twenty-four hours ago you were berating yourself for sleeping through the worst night of our married lives. How dare you drag Bernie through that same kind of torture! Clark, you are always the logical one. I sometimes fly off the handle. You can't change horses in the middle of the stream, before you know it you'll become the king of babble."
Lois had hoped that the humor would win out over the rage. She stroked Clark's back. "What do you say, flyboy?"
Superman sighed deeply and looked at the ceiling and then at Dr. Klein who was sitting slumped in his chair.
"Bernie, I apologize. I must forgive as I need to be forgiven. The Lord has returned our son Jon. I'm sorry, Bernie. What can we do to help Jon? Don't give up on me yet." Clark shook Dr. Klein's hand and clapped his shoulder. He smiled weakly at his friend. "Tell me about our options," said Clark solemnly.
"I started with several options, however, there is only one now. Jon will need to be given the same treatment Dr. Sam Lane administered to you several years ago."
Clark cringed. Lois held her head in her hands and looked at the floor.
"I have enough Kryptonite in the underground vault to administer the treatment. According to my calculations, the direct exposure to Kryptonite should have taken about seven hours," Dr. Klein stated clinically. "You two need to talk about it," commented Dr. Klein as he took his folder and walked out of his office. Silence ruled the small office.
"Our Father, which art in heaven…amen," Clark and Lois said together. They prayed for wisdom and for their son's health. They prayed again with their child. They moved like machines, each being reluctant to speak for fear of breaking their resolve. Clark reluctantly agreed to go to a small, lead-lined room in the basement of Star Labs while Lois sat at Jon's side during the treatment. Clark refused to promise to remain in the safe haven. He knew that Lois would suffer again as she had that night when he was stricken with the Kryptonite poisoning that had attacked his body like a cancer, years ago. She was willing to endure it again with the child they had prayed for for five years. He knew that Bernie would be at her side, just as Sam, her dad, had been. But Clark knew that it was his own Kryptonian DNA that was causing their son to suffer. He paced and prayed in the small, lead-lined room. After the first hour, he felt that the room had become his cage.
Bernie came into the cage and told him that Lois was fine and that Jon was enduring it. Jon's height was slowly returning to normal. He was half an inch shorter. At the end of the second hour, Bernie promised to have Lois come to see him just so that she could escape the torture for a moment. Bernie came back forty minutes later. He stated flatly that Lois had said she would come at end of the third hour.
Lois entered the small room with a weak smile on her face. Clark held Lois as they sat on the cot. They had no need to speak, only to rest in each other's arms. Bernie reported that Jon was now four inches shorter and his toddler pudginess was returning.
Lois slipped from Clark's arms as he stared at the lead floor and begged her to stay. She said she would return in one hour. Jon's height was now ten inches less than from where he began. Clark saw that the front of Lois' blouse was wet. He knew that Lois' tears and Jon's tears had absorbed into her cotton blouse.
At the end of the eighth hour, the small lead door creaked open and Lois entered, holding a sleeping Jon in her arms. Clark enveloped Lois and Jon and prayed thank you and cried.