Just Super - Part 1
By Dwayne MacInnes
Clark sat at his desk at the Daily Planet. He ripped a sheet of paper out of his manual typewriter and placed it on top of a ream of other papers. Clark pushed his black glasses back further onto his nose and leaned back in his leather chair.
"I've finished at last," Clark said as he let out a small whistle.
Clark watched as Jimmy Olson pulled some papers out of a file cabinet and staggered off, dropping a couple of pages as he left the office. "The poor kid must be working himself too hard," Clark thought. "Well, I better get this off to the chief."
Clark made his way through the maze of vacant desks and debris that cluttered the room. With all that had happened over the last few years cleaning the office tended to fall to the wayside. Clark whistled softly as he approached the chief's office. He gently rapped onto the glass door before he entered the room.
Perry White stood with his back toward Clark as the editor looked out the window of his office high up in the Daily Planet building. The glass tinted with dirt and smudges filtered in the bright sunlight. It was the only source of illumination since Metropolis lost all its power. Clark could not help but feel a pang of sadness as he remembered the better times now irretrievably gone.
"Chief, I have finished that project we talked about," Clark said as he cleared his throat.
The chief grunted which Clark took as an acknowledgement.
"I'll leave it here on your desk so you can proof it. As we discussed it covers all that has happened over the last ten years since the plague," Clark finished before exiting the office.
It seemed an eternity now, but there was a time when things were better. Clark would trade anything now to have those days back. Even for the times when Lex Luther held the world for ransom and Clark, as Superman, had to defeat him. Saving the world then was child's play compared to what he had to endure over the last decade.
It all began innocently enough. The Venus probe was returning to Earth with valuable data collected from the distant planet's atmosphere. It was all over the news, the world waited in anticipation for the manmade satellite to make its way back to the ground so that NASA could evaluate the information contained inside. It was the first probe of its kind.
Then without warning, the probe exploded high in the Earth's atmosphere. At first, Clark suspected Lex Luther had something to do with it. The evil genius had probably tried to blackmail the government again, but when they did not give in to his demands, he destroyed the probe. However, as Clark rethought the scenario it did not make sense. If there were a ransom demand, the president would have contacted Superman to protect the probe on its return. Therefore, he dismissed it as an accident without giving it a second thought.
Every reporter scrambled to find the underlying cause of the explosion as the images replayed repeatedly on the television news networks. As usual, Lois was the most forceful, and the chief awarded her the story. Clark would assist her if she needed it and as usual, Lois declared that she would not need any assistance. However, Perry insisted and the two reporters began work with gusto.
Hours of phone calls to every contact Lois and Clark had in the government and scientific community went unanswered. This was not the usual red tape. Lois kept insisting that there was some high-level cover up. This only made Lois that more determined to find out what was happening.
"Are you hungry?" Clark asked rising from his desk.
"No, I'm fine, Clark. Why don't you get some sleep," Lois suggested. "No use both of us being tired in the morning. You can continue if I don't get anywhere tonight."
Clark knew very well, Lois would try everything to break the story while Clark was away so that she could get all the credit. Clark did not mind, but he decided that maybe a visit to the capitol as Superman would loosen some tongues.
"I suppose you are right," Clark replied smiling as he left the room nearly running into Smitty.
"Sorry, Clark I have to get this story to the chief," Smitty exclaimed.
"What's so important?"
"There's been a gruesome murder at Metropolis General Hospital. The victims were devoured by their assailants."
After leaving the office, Clark quickly changed into Superman in the Daily Planet's upper maintenance closet. He had barely flown out the window when his super hearing picked up a familiar signal. Superman sped to the source of the sound. It could only come from one area and that was Gotham City.
Within only a few minutes, Superman had flown from Metropolis to Gotham. He alighted on top a tall gothic building. The pale moon washed the rooftop in its dim blue light. If it were not for his super hearing, Superman would not have noticed Batman move out of the shadows behind him.
"Glad you made it," Batman said in his usual soft gruff voice.
"What is the big news?"
"Robin and I have been responding to some pretty unusual calls."
"Really, how unusual?" Superman's strong voice raised a pitch.
"There has been a rash of murders across the city. We cannot keep up with all the calls." Batman stopped to note the expression on Superman's normally placid face.
"Murders? Nothing new there in the city. Do you think the Joker is involved?"
"Initially yes, except two things. First, the victims are being eaten. All the victims we have come across have been partially consumed by their antagonists." A small smile broke out on Batman's face as Superman opened his mouth in disbelief.
Superman quickly regained his composure, "You mentioned two reasons why it is not the Joker."
"Arkham Sanitarium burned down tonight, there were no survivors. I personally pulled the Joker's body out of the debris along with the Penguin and the Riddler. Clark..." Batman stopped.
Superman paid closer attention. It was indeed serious if Bruce used Superman's alter ego.
"They too were partially consumed."
Superman's mouthed again dropped open in surprise. "Bruce, just before I left one of our reporters brought in a story about a similar incident in Metropolis."
"That's what I thought," Batman replied. "I had just finished talking to Diana before you arrived and a similar outbreak is happening on the west coast. So far, I have been unable to contact any of the others."
"I'm off to Washington to get some answers," Superman said grimly. "They must be covering something up. Lois and I are being stonewalled at the Planet.
"I'll let you know what I find. Be careful, Bruce."