"Prelude To Tomorrow"
By Trevor Carrington
He still had trouble believing it. Clark Kent couldn't quite fathom the entity that was Metropolis, much less the hustle and bustle of the Daily Planet. Back home in Smallville, things were... well, it's a bit cliche to say "simpler," isn't it? And being a journalist, Clark wasn't allowed to be cliche. He had to be innovative. So for the moment we can say that back home for Clark, things were quiet and more focused. There was none of this multitasking, as a good amount of time had to be put into anything to make it all work. Slacking off so you can get more done in the day isn't an option when you're a farmer. There are 365 days in the year, surely a few down the line can be used for relaxation, and if you don't get something done one day, that's why you get up before sunrise. Well, that and the chance to watch the light shine on all your hard work.
Pa could never seem to get enough of that, Clark thought to himself, for a moment missing the days when he was young and being dragged out of bed to watch a sunrise. He didn't understand it then, and his father knew that. He also knew that in time he would understand, and these may be some of the moments he appreciates most in his adult life.
"So that's the dime tour, Mr. Kent. I think your desk is right over there."
Clark blinked a few times. "Hm? Oh, right. Thanks, Jimmy. I really appreciate you showing the new fish around." He smiled down at the freckled budding photographer with the unkempt orange hair.
"Hey, no prob'. It's part of my job description. It's right under the line that reads 'Jimmy Olsen - Slave Until Stardom.'" He smirks and starts walking away.
Clark walked to his desk toward the back of the rows, towards a very imposing set of file cabinets. He found a desk with a cheap golden name plate at the edge that said "C. Kint" and supposed that was his. Otherwise it'd be some coincidence, despite the misspelling.
He placed his briefcase on top of the desk and rubbed his hands over it, just to get a feel of being there. He inhaled the smells of the workplace, took in the sounds of phones ringing, shoes clapping against the hard floor, and the tap-tap-tapping of keyboards. He took it all in, and let it linger. And when he opened his eyes he was peering out the window, into the vast and extraodinary city of Metropolis. He thought to himself again about how when he first came here, he felt as if he had stepped into another world. When he walked into the Daily Planet, he was only ensured that it really was.
"Kint? Helloooo! Earth to Kint!"
He quickly turned his attention to the voice, embarassed for the second time in the last five minutes because of his daydreaming.
"There you are. I thought we lost our new recruit already. My name's Lois Lane, self-proclaimed star reporter for the Daily Planet," she sat in the cushioned chair beside Clark's desk, the only usually reserved for an interviewee. "I'm sure you've read at least something of mine. I don't get the front page too often, but hey, even Superman has his bad days I'm sure. Right? Oh crap, I didn't lose you again, did I?"
She talked fast and loud and didn't pause very often to let a word in from another voice besides hers. This was Lois Lane, a real city reporter, the kind Clark expected from all the few shows he watched on television.
"Uh, no. No, I'm following you. It's Kent, by the way. Someone must have made a typo. Which is kind of funny, because--"
"Ohhh, right. Kent. I remember you now. I saw you come in for the job interview with Perry and whoever the short fat guy was supervising this time. I did some checking up on you, just for the hell of it. I hear you graduated from U-of-M after just two years. How is the Dean's daughter these days, you sly Mr. Kent?" She gave him a smirk and an inquisitive look up from her nails that she was apparently admiring.
"Uh, I... Excuse me?"
She laughed quietly and stood up, straightening her short skirt at the same time. "My my, you really are from Smallville, aren't you? Don't worry, Kent, I was just busting your balls."
"Hey, speaking of which, what kind of person comes from Smallville anyway?" Clark suddenly felt very uncomfortable. There was something about the way she said it that just didn't sit well with him, like he didn't know the answer to the rhetorical question. How would he know what kind of person comes from Smallville?
"Me, I've been across the ocean and back, but Metropolis has always seemed like my true home. Know what I mean, Smallville?"
He looked confused and lost. He tried to speak, but had nothing to say.
"I was born in Metropolis!" Jimmy called out, suddenly appearing beside Lois. "This place is more of a home than any, because, uh, well, this is where I'm from. Know what I mean, Mr. Kent?"
Suddenly, Perry White's door swung open and he stepped out in all his maddog glory, a cigar sticking out of the side of his mouth. "You kids are all the same. You think 'Metropolis,' and you think the bright shining home, where you're from. Well I was born and raised in Metro's Suicide Slum, and there's nothing bright and shiney about that place, but it'll always be home." He took a long puff from his cigar and held it in his right hand. "Know what I mean, Kent? Oh, and I want you over at the Mayor's office to get a quote on Superman, ASAP."
Clark sat there in his chair, like he was struggling to answer all these questions at once, but didn't know where to begin.
"Superman! Now there's a guy who's gotta be from Metropolis!" shouted one person out of Clark's view.
"No, he's not from Metropolis! He's from California! How do you think he got that body? Everyone there works out."
"You're both wrong. Superman is from the East Coast, but decades ago. They thawed him out after he helped us defeat Hitler in World War II!"
"No, no, and no! Superman is from the future, where we all live on Mars! That's why he always know where to be when danger strikes, because he's read about it!"
Suddenly, a myriad of voices began chiming in, giving their own theories on Superman, and some talking about where they came from. The voices were colliding, and soon the names of towns and cities and all sorts of places seemed to become physical, and they were hitting Clark with all their weight. The weight of their land.
When it became unbearable, when he thought he would scream so loud, they all turned and faced him with the same inquisitive look Lois gave him moments ago.
"Where are you from, Clark Kent?" they asked in unison.
"I DON'T KNOW!"
Clark sat up in his bed, the covers ripped to shreds, bits strewn about the room. He panted and beads of sweat dripped from his face.
It was just a dream, Clark. Relax.
He tried to convince himself it was nothing to worry about. It was just a bad dream. But he couldn't ignore it. The question hung there, waiting for an answer.
He went to the bathroom, finding his way from the moonlight shining in. Flicking on the lamp, he let the fawcett run cold water and splashed some in his face before looking at himself in the mirror.
"Where are you from, Superman?"
"Lois Lane, you have been staring out that window all morning. Are you waiting for the people on the 37th floor to plummet to their deaths again?"
Lois looked away from the sprawling city skyline. "Hm? Oh... Sorry."
The blonde woman smiled coyly and stirred her drink with a small plastic spoon. Probably spiked it herself, Lois thought with a smile she regretted displaying.
"Mmmhmm. So what's going on in that head of yours, Lois? You haven't been yourself today." She sipped her "coffee."
Lois turned and rested her back to the window that wrapped around the building, with the occasional metal joint every couple dozen feet. A lot of the reporters, despite being the supposed brave people who ask the daring questions in this fair city, are always nervous of the crystal clear windows that surround them. The extreme height of this floor combined with the mostly natural paranoia surrounding the strength of the glass itself always keeps them from putting any weight on it if they can help it. Bets and dares would have to be placed in order to get one to lean on it for longer than a few moments. But Lois does it without a thought.
"I don't know, Cheryl. Just thinking too much, I guess. There's not enough happening in the world today to keep me occupied."
Cheryl smiled. "You mean Superman hasn't showed up yet."
She returned the smile with a smirk of her own, and thought to herself, That's right, I'm Miss One-Dimensional. All I think about is Superman. You people know me too well. She went back to her poker face and let out a quiet sigh afterwards, realizing that this time she really was doing what everyone expects of her.
"Is that so wrong? To just want one fly-by? It's bad enough I can't get the guy out of my head, now I have to rely on my own screwed up perspective of what he's really like because he keeps himself so scarce from the media. Clever dog."
"You mean what he's like under those blue-and-reds, hm?" Cheryl asked with a gossipy giggle.
Lois blinked twice. "What? No, no. It's not like that at all. I mean, I've thought about it, sure, but so has every other girl in Metropolis." She looked down for a moment and cleared her throat. "But that's not what I mean. It's like Superman is the best thing to happen to us, and I can't imagine what it would be like without him, even though he hasn't really been around that long. He's got this uncanny appeal that he just oozes whenever he's around."
She found herself gazing out the window again with one hand resting against the glass, as Lois lost track of what she was talking about. She slammed her clenched fist against it, causing a small ripple.
"Ooh, it makes me so mad!" She turned, a couple pairs of wide-eyes focused on her latest outcry. "Just one fly-by! That's all I ask!"
As Cheryl was about to take another careful sip of her coffee, getting quite a lot of amusement out of watching her co-worker's agony, her face turned to an expression of a sudden stupor when she watched Superman rush past the view available on the 36th floor of the Daily Planet.
She let out a loud sigh, evidentally not hearing Cheryl, and turned again toward the window. "Even Metropolis has some loose screws. But Superman... he's perfect."
The Clinton Bridge has remained, for decades, as one of the main entrypoints into the marvel of a city that is Metropolis. The bridge itself is an interesting parallel to the thriving technology that's born and bred in the city. Its stylings are old, architecturally a throwback to "simpler days," times past when Metropolis' chief appeal was the enormous island park that was New Troy.
Those days are no longer. Change has swept through Metropolis, and New Troy's only similarities to what it once was are the assorted parks nestled between buildings that tickle the clouds, and the old Clinton Bridge.
But all good things, as they say, must come to an end.
"Herb, maybe we should try to back up a little..."
The young man looked to the older, more gruff driver to his left, who was currently sweating profusely and glaring with wide eyes at the large crack that has nearly split this bridge in two.
"No, I don't think so. We move this rig, and everything's goin' in," Herb protested.
"Dude, I think that's going to happen anyway."
Herb shot his younger brother a nasty look.
"Hey... waitasec! I think I just saw Superman!" the younger man cried out, poking his head out the window, something he wouldn't have even come close to trying a few moments ago, when he and his older brother were sitting perfectly still, enough to be mistaken for life-like statues inside an 18-wheeler.
"Stop foolin' around, Hank, and don't rock the friggin boat!"
They both felt a sudden push downward as the bridge continued to deteriorate, the crack in the old concrete so large now Herb could see the blue of the West River beneath them, interrupted by the now twisted and scraggily strips of metal that's barely keeping the bridge together at the center. The truck began to skid forward, slowly at first.
Hank pulled his head back inside the car. "I think we should get out, Herb! Seriously! We sit here any longer and we're going down with your beloved rig. And I am not going to die in a truck! I'm a cadillac man!"
The truck continued to slide forward, the sound of the breaks being torn and the rubber of the tires giving off a nasty hot smell. Hank and Herb started screaming and they clutched onto each other, thinking of all the things that hadn't gotten to do in life yet.
And then the truck stopped, and the bridge raised, both halves. A flash of red light was noticable around the edges of the bridge. The red, blue, and gold clad figure of Superman flew up into view, above the cars and trucks, but not so much where he isn't noticable.
Hank and Herb pushed each off, and both crossed their arms. "Why'd you grab me like that?"
"Grab you? You grabbed me!" They quieted when Superman floated above the bridge.
"That should hold the bridge together for now," he said to no one in particular, and yet everyone who could hear him. "But someone should give the Mayor a call about fixing it permanently."
He saw people pause, staring up at him, and then scrambling with their cell and car phones, soon hearing the sound of touchtones and people asking operators to be connected with the Mayor's office. Superman smiled and laughed inside.
"Mercy, what's going on up there?" Lex Luthor poured himself a glass of wine, one with no name that he had sent over from Italy. He enjoyed being surrounded by nameless drinks, foods, and clothing. It gave him a sort of unusual peace, put his mind at rest and told him "this is yours." He regarded the taste without showing any sign of it on the outside.
"The bridge has stabilized again, Sir. Traffic is resuming," the blonde woman clad in a gray outfit and dark sunglasses that enclosed her eyes in a golden frame, turned her head to the right a touch so that Luthor could hear her fine with the privacy window down in the limousine.
Luthor's face turned a bit sour, and not because of the wine. "And what do we owe this miracle to, Mercy?"
There was a short pause before she answered. "Superman, Sir." She faced the road once more as the cars ahead finally began to move, albeit slowly.
"Surprise, surprise. Our beloved protector. Where would we be, if it wasn't for Superman saving us from ourselves and mother nature?"
"Where we should be, Sir."
Luthor raised an eyebrow as he gleamed the crystaline top of his glass. "Very good, Hope." The dark skinned woman wearing similar spectacles as her partner, Mercy, simply nodded. She wasn't meant to show any emotion to her employer, and although she was newer to this job than Mercy, she had yet to make any mistakes.
"Without Superman, we are following our destinies correctly, walking the path set out for us, footsteps that have been written in that giant book. I don't believe in God, Hope, but if I did..." he paused to sip his wine once more. "I believe he'd be envious of Superman's strength and my power. Does that make us a pair of false idols? Perhaps it does. I follow the path that was written for me, and Metropolis thanks me for it. This is my city. As for Superman... I'm not even convinced this is his planet. Who then, is the false idol?"
Hope was about to answer when Luthor added, without looking up from his glass, "That was a rhetorical question, Hope, dear."
She regained her statue-esque composure and her thoughts were full of curses. First mistake.
The Daily Planet.
"Perfect, Lois? I don't think that's possible. I've dated a lot of guys, probably too many if you listen to the gossip in the copy room, and I don't think any of them were even close to being a fraction of perfect. Face it, hon', a perfect man doesn't exist."
She was hardly listening to her. Lois was thinking of where he might be right now, what he might be doing, what he's thinking. She thought about how embarassed she'd be if those who knew her also knew what was going through her mind right now. Here she was, the rough-and-tough don't-mess-with-me-or-you'll-find-yourself-on-the-front-page reporter Lois Lane, daydreaming about the so-called Man of Steel. She never even had it this bad in High School, when she was surrounded by hormones.
She heard a sudden tap on the glass in front of her. For a half-second she thought about how odd that was, considering that on the opposite side of this glass there are no supports or any ridges between floors, just a smooth surface all the way to the busy sidewalks and streets below. Then she focused her eyes and saw the face of Superman smiling at her through the glass. Before she had time to do anything but try to find words, he winked and flew off.
She continued to stand there, a blank surprise on her face.
"Uh, Lois? Hey! Hey, Lois?"
She turned, her mouth still gaping open.
"Geez, Lois, you look like you've seen a ghost. That can't be good for your reputation, heh."
She blinked. "Clark?"
He looked around innocently, as if he were wondering whether he did something wrong again. "Y-yes, Lois?"
"Just... just making sure. I have to, uh... have to... I need a drink." She walked off, and Clark adjusted his glasses as he considered helping her on her way, but decided against it. Instead, he just watched her nearly bump into any person that came in proximity of her, and he smiled, a little mischievously.
He didn't know why he did that, really, but it made him feel good. After the dream he had this morning, he needed things a little brighter.
He still felt a little guilty, though. But he couldn't wipe the broad smile from his face.
The ceilings dripped from the moisture in the dank sewers. The pipes sweat while rats and insects scurried about beneath the streets, in the quiet home of filth.
Two men walked the old stone path that lined the sewers. Clad in a hardhat and company jumpsuit, they made their way with their flashlights illuminating the careful steps ahead.
"I hate this job," one said under his breath.
"So you keep telling me. Now shut up."
They continued walking. "You know I've got a B.A. in Psychology."
"Then why don't you go become a shrink? Anything to get you to stop complaining."
"I was told it's not worth anything unless I've got a Ph.D, and I didn't have enough money then to continue college. So I started working odd jobs," the other man rolled his eyes. He heard it hundreds of times before. It seemed like everytime they were out on the field he would tell him his life story. "And one thing led to another, and here I am, working this crap job. Which it literally is, when you think about it."
"Har har. Maybe your next job will be a comedian. Now shut up and stay behind me, we're almost there."
The path wasn't large enough for them to walk side by side, and the one man wouldn't trust the other to keep his mind on his job long enough to make sure that they went the right way. He's been doing this long enough to know that once you got lost in the sewers, you may as well just give up and climb out, because you're not going to find out where you took the first wrong turn.
He smirked when he remembered the first time he got lost. It was when he spotted a group of rats just beside him and started running for dear life. When he finally stopped he was halfway to Pérez Park, a long way from Alvin Street. These days, he's not afraid of the things that lurk in the sewers.
He was starting to think about all the weird things he's seen in the sewers when he realized things were a bit darker than they should be. He glanced at his flashlight and saw it hadn't dimmed at all.
"Hey, check your batteries, kid," he said as he turned around, only to find nothing behind him.
"Kid? Hey, kid? You didn't go walkin' off the path, did ya?"
His voice echoed but there was no answer. "Stupid punk," he mumbled and started walking back the way he came. If I don't see him for a few yards, I'm just gonna do this job myself, he thought.
He spotted a light ahead, but it was aimed lower than it should have been if it was being carried. When he arrived, he found nothing but the flashlight. He scratched the back of his head.
"Now where the hell..." His eyes went wide and his mouth opened to scream, but no sound escaped. His old but full face soon seemed to deflate, as if it were being drained. His graying hair grew thin and scraggly, and soon his bone structure was visible beneath his pale skin.
The body fell lifelessly and it was kicked into the murky green and brown water.
Good. Damn good. I'm going to need every bit of energy I can get for tomorrow.
Tomorrow's the day I kill Superman.
The large purple man grinned, showing his sharp teeth and a bit of drool slipping down his chin.
Oh. That should be fun, eh?
You have no idea.
Next Issue!: Who could this be?! Well, if you've got even a shred of knowledge about Superman villains, you could probably figure it out. But be prepared to be surprised! Remember; this ain't your daddy's Superman.
Hey, everybody! I'm late already! Whee! Ah, but I have excuses. What, you don't want them? Fine! But just remember who built the website, buddy! You... don't know? It was ME! Me me me! I made it! No, I'm not the Editor in Chief, but I made the website. What are you talking about? Argh! I get no credit! I just wanna be loved!
Ahem. Anyway, as I was saying. Hi! Welcome to the first issue of Superman (no 'Adventures of,' or 'Man of Steel' or 'In Action Comics,' just Superman). I don't know if you'd call this the flagship title of DCY2, but it's kind of that for regular DC anyway, so maybe it is. Either way, I'm very happy to be writing a prominent title and character for the group. As I told Bill Kte'pi, the guy runnin this joint, if I didn't get to write Superman, there will be much blood spilled. So after threatening his life a few more times, he accepted my proposal, and here I am, writing this baby. I'm really, really proud of what I came up with, too. I've never written anything like Superman, fan fiction or otherwise. And to be perfectly honest, if you asked me a few months ago if I'd ever write it, even for mainstream comics, I would have said no. Not because of any "I'm not good enough!" philosophy, but because I hated Superman until recently. No, really. I absolutely hated him. I mean, the cartoon was fun, but I couldn't stand reading the comic. He was just too... good. Too generic and bland. And then they kept trying to change him, and yadda yadda yadda. He wasn't real enough for me to like, unlike Spider-Man (who I also couldn't read, but that was because he's been written so horribly in recent years). Then I picked up Joe Kelly's first issue of Action Comics, and suddenly I couldn't get enough. Now I'm a Superman maniac, and all my money keeps disappearing for back issues and TPBs. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Bored yet? Well I'm not done. I really hope you like this first issue. It's a little short, as I wanted to have a nice big blow-out grand-opening first issue, but it covers all the bases I think. If you don't like this, let me know, and tell me why. I'll see what I can do to fix it up. But I must warn you: what you see in the initial storylines may not be representations of just what's going to happen every issue. The title is ever-changing, and I have so many story ideas, this will be anything but typical. True to Superman, yes, but I'm really going for the original bit.
Alright, I've yammered enough. Let me know what you thought, and any questions send away! I promise next issue won't be too far off. Honest. Scout's honor.