By Laura-Jayne (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Her father has her future all decided — that she'll follow in his footsteps with a career in medicine — but 19-year-old Lois Lane pines to be a journalist.
Nineteen-year-old Lois Lane sighed as she looked down at the textbook in front of her. No matter what her father insisted, she just wasn't cut out to be a nurse. She felt the need to do something more creative and exciting.
But how could she tell her father that? After so many years of not being there for his oldest daughter, Dr. Sam Lane had scraped up enough money to put Lois through medical school. It warmed his heart to see her continue in his footsteps as a physician.
Lois tried to concentrate on her studies, preparing for the next day's test, but her mind kept wandering. All her other friends from high school had gone on to pursue *their* dreams, not their father's. Julie had gone to law school and was well on her way to being an attorney. Peggy had rebelled against her parents and moved to New York with dreams of becoming a model.
And Lois, the most headstrong, self-confident girl in her senior class, was stuck at Metropolis University, training to be something she didn't want to be, and flipping burgers at the local Mickie D's to earn pocket change.
Her eyes strayed to her dormitory bed, where the morning edition of The Daily Planet lay. She was a faithful reader, but she wanted to do more than just read the world- wide paper. She wanted to be a part of it. Her dream tugged at her every time she drove past the huge globe. She wanted to be a writer for The Daily Planet.
Afraid of rejection, Lois had never found the guts to submit anything. Not that she had anything newsworthy to submit in the first place. She knew she just needed a chance to show those Daily Planet people what she was made of; they'd be begging her to join their staff.
Lois let her lungs deflate. It was hopeless — a dream never to be. How could she think of being a writer when her whole future was already planned out — and paid for?
The door to her dorm swung open as her roommate, Kellie, strolled in. Kellie was your typical college student. Almost twenty-one, the Metropolis native was a star softball player and a member of the swim team. While she came off as a "tomboy" on the outside, Lois had soon learned Kellie was very sensitive and really relied on sports to aid her lack of self-confidence. She had quickly become Lois' best friend.
"Hey, Lois. How's the studying coming?" Kellie asked, plopping down on her bed. Lois shrugged.
"It's not. I swear, I am counting the days until summer break."
Kellie knew all too well how much Lois hated being at medical school, and she regretted bringing up the topic of studying. She hastily changed the subject.
"What are your plans for the summer?"
Lois shrugged again. "Work, I guess." Kellie rolled her eyes.
"All you ever do is work. If you're going to chain yourself to drudgery, you could at least find a job you enjoy."
Lois stood up from her desk and sat down on her bed, crunching the newspaper. "That's the problem. I don't know what else to do. My future is set, and I didn't even have a say in it. How did I let my dad talk me into this? Oh, now I remember. It was a "surprise" for my eighteenth birthday. I HATE surprises! Have I ever mentioned that I hate surprises?"
Kellie hid a smile. Lois was babbling, as she often did when she was upset. Lois was bright, yes, but she was so blind. The answer was right in front of her eyes, and Kellie planned to tell her as much.
"Lois. Get a grip. The answer is right in front of your nose. If you would stop flipping burgers for a minute and listen to your heart, you'd know *exactly* what you're going to do this summer."
Lois paused. "What?" She asked sheepishly. Kellie sighed. Did she have to spell everything out for the poor girl?
"You're going to tell your boss down at McDonald's to stuff a sock up his you know what, and then you're going to march down to the editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet and demand that he let you show him your talent!"
Lois looked across the small room at her friend. Kellie was right, as usual. Lois hated it when other people were right.
"That's crazy. They're not going to hire some silly college student — who is majoring in nursing — to do work she has absolutely NO experience in — for one measly summer!"
Kellie gritted her teeth at Lois' stubborn manner. She could be just as stubborn. "Number one, you do have experience. You told me you worked on the school paper for three years."
Lois interrupted her. "That doesn't count, I — "
Kellie continued. "Number two, even if you didn't have newspaper experience, you have a natural ability that will knock their socks off! I've seen some of your fiction, Lois, and you are one heck of a writer. The Daily Planet would be lucky to have someone like you on their staff, even as a summer intern."
Lois considered what Kellie was saying. "What about my dad? He wants me to take summer courses. He says the sooner I get out of school, the sooner I can become a 'real' doctor or nurse."
"You tell your dad the truth," Kellie advised. Lois nodded slowly.
"Kellie, what's your secret? How do you always think of the perfect thing to say? You should be a psychiatrist, not a surgeon."
Kellie laughed, as did Lois. Kellie was happy. It had been too long since she had seen Lois smile.
Two months later, Lois stood on the doorstep outside her father's home. She took a deep breath and knocked. Moments later, the door swung open and a surprised Dr. Lane enveloped her in a hug.
"Lois! What are you doing here?" He asked as he led her into the living room. Lois settled onto the couch and prepared to tell her dad about her little "change of plans."
"Daddy, you know I've always respected you and I really appreciate all that you've done for me, you know, with college and all."
Her father smiled. "Anything for you, pumpkin." Lois frowned at the childhood name, but continued.
"I've been doing a lot of thinking. Several months' worth, in fact. And … as much as I love you, I … " She found it hard to say the words. Her father silently prompted her, and Lois unleashed her feelings. "I don't want to be a doctor or a nurse or anything like that. I never did. You just jumped in and took over my whole future. I didn't want to hurt your feelings, but I can't live my life for you. Not anymore. I want to — I *need* to live my life for me. I have to do what makes me happy. I have to pursue the career that will make me happy."
The words hit her father hard, and Lois immediately felt ashamed. But the truth had to come out.
Dr. Lane cleared his throat. "And … what career would that be?"
Lois smiled a tiny smile as she told her dad what she had been keeping a secret for so long. "I want to be a writer. Not just any writer. A news writer, a reporter. And I want to work for the Daily Planet."
Her father sat silently for a few moments. Lois looked at him expectantly. His face melted, and he gave her a hug from where he sat beside her.
"So … you're not mad?" Lois dared to inquire. Dr. Lane hugged her tight.
"No, no, of course not! It's not my place to control your future. You go ahead and do what makes you happy." Tears threatened to spill down Lois' cheeks. This moment she shared with her father made up for all the lost father- daughter experiences they had missed during her childhood. It made up for everything.
Lois stood outside the main doors to The Daily Planet, more nervous than any other time she could recall. She smoothed her navy blue skirt and matching blouse. Her shoulder-length brown hair was pulled into a bun, held in place by about a half a can of hairspray. She stumbled on her high heels, which she figured she had better get used to wearing if she ever wanted to do anything in life. All in all, she looked professional and conservative, yet incredibly stunning. And she knew it.
She looked up at the huge globe, The Daily Planet's emblem. It was so intimidating, yet so relaxing.
Lois glanced at her watch. She had ten minutes until her appointment with the editor-in-chief, Mr. Perry White. She didn't know much about him, except that he demanded a lot and could be quite blunt when he didn't like something. She hoped he wouldn't mind her early arrival.
She finally summoned up the nerve to enter what could either be a dream come true or a huge disappointment, and pushed herself through the revolving doors. The lobby was large and crowded, and Lois was glad she had allotted extra time; she would need it to find her way to the editor's office.
She strode toward the elevator and struggled to see the floor identification list. Fourth floor, editor-in- chief's office. Lois sighed in relief. She should have no problem finding the Head Honcho's desk — she could ask anyone.
Most of the people in the elevator with her looked serious — almost *too* serious considering a few of them couldn't be much older than herself. they didn't look exactly friendly, but Lois figured they were just professionals who were very serious about their jobs.
She could learn something from them. Be serious. You are not a wimpy school girl. You are Lois Lane, the tough one. The next reporter for The Daily Planet.
After what seemed to be an incredibly long elevator ride, the doors finally opened and the people streamed out. Lois stepped cautiously into the newsroom and found herself in the middle of chaos.
Well-dressed men and woman rushed around, carrying files and papers. Others sat at desks, typing and talking on telephones. Nothing seemed organized; everyone was working on their own, doing their own thing.
It was wonderful. It was everything Lois had imagined it to be. Dozens of people, working individually, out of synch, until all the masterpieces come together and formed something incredible … The Daily Planet.
Lois regained her composure and walked confidently down the ramp, hunting for the editor's office. She finally managed to locate it. A heavy wooden door with the name "Perry White" embedded in gold across it. Lois nervously knocked. A gruff voice called for her to come in, and the young woman entered.
Young woman. That was the only way Perry White could define her. He couldn't determine her age by sight. She could have been 17 or 27. He invited her to sit down, curious about why this lady … what was her name? … was so insistent on getting a job interview.
"Hi, I'm Lois Lane," Lois said, trying to keep her voice from shaking. She miraculously succeeded, and she shook Perry White's hand.
"Now, Ms. Lane. You called me asking for a job interview and, although I usually don't handle these matters directly, I chose to conduct it."
Lois nodded, not sure how he expected her to respond. He didn't seem to need a response, and he continued talking.
"The Daily Planet has a very high reputation, and all of its writers must live up to that reputation. I assume you have a resume?"
Lois blushed slightly, and struggled to find her voice. "Ac- Actually, sir … I'm rather inexperienced. I've never really worked as a writer."
Perry mentally classified her under the 'reject' file in his mind but continued patiently. "Okay. Do you have any examples of your writing?"
The young woman's eyes lit up as she nodded. She handed him a black leather binder containing several different selections.
Perry was about to change the classification. Maybe she wasn't some dreaming school girl. He looked over the writings. They were all fictional short stories, mostly romances. Perry skimmed the first page and snapped the binder shut.
"Ms. Lane, in order to seriously consider you for any writing position in this newspaper, I need some examples of *real* writing. Not fiction."
Lois felt as though she had been slapped. She had been told in the past that her stories weren't all that good, but she had just figured those people were jealous of her natural ability. But Perry White hadn't even given her a fair shot. He had only read one page of one of her stories, and said it wasn't even real writing! What did he expect, a novel? She had never felt so rejected. Maybe she didn't have any natural writing talent. After all, wouldn't the editor-in-chief of the most-read newspaper in the country recognize true talent if he saw it?
Perry saw how much his words had hurt her and felt bad. He never meant to make people feel bad about their writing, but he also had to be honest.
"Now, look." He said, trying to soften the blow. "I'll cut you a deal. You go out, get a job at a smaller newspaper, write yourself a couple of excellent articles and get a feel for the reporting world. Then you come back here and we'll talk business."
Lois nodded, fighting back tears of rejection. She grabbed her binder and ran from the room.
Lois stormed into the dorm, her cheeks streaked with tears. Kellie jumped up from the desk.
"Lois, what happened?" Kellie asked, putting her arm around her best friend's shoulder. Lois shook her head, hiccuping through her sobs.
"He … I … he hated my work … he didn't … didn't read it … told me I … told me to go work at … a small newspaper … " She stumbled on her words.
Kellie hugged her friend, rocking her gently. It was a rare occasion to see Lois Lane "The Spitfire" cry. She only let her guard down in times of real distress, and only in privacy or with a close friend.
Finally, her tears subsided somewhat. "I don' want to work at a smaller newspaper. I want to work at The Daily Planet." She whined. Kellie handed her a tissue.
With a firm look on her face, Kellie set forth to undo some of the damage that mean editor had done. "Now look, Lois. I know you all too well, and you are *not* going to give up! You're going to find yourself a crime and investigate it, then you're going to write the best damn article you have ever written and give it to that bull- headed editor. He's going to love it. The only reason he didn't take those other stories is because they're not his style. He wants cold, hard facts. You gotta make them putty in your hands, give them what they want so they have room to give you what you want."
Lois smiled despite herself. "Okay … " She managed to whisper. "But there's nothing newsworthy around here."
"Lois, if you want to be a reporter, you have to dig up a story. At a huge university like MU, there's probably a dozen newsworthy items just waiting to be discovered."
Lois looked weary. "I don't know … " Her ego was wounded and she really couldn't find the incentive to 'dig up a story' when it probably wouldn't impress Mr. White anyway.
Fate must have been giving Lois a break for the first time in her life, she thought as she ran down the road toward the police cars. She had been shopping in downtown Metropolis when she had heard gunshots outside. When they subsided, she had run out in time to see a red truck speeding away. Lois, who had subconsciously formed investigative skills over her life, squinted to read the license plate number. There was an 'R' and a '6,' but she couldn't make out the others.
That was when the police cars and ambulances started arriving, rushing to help the injured bystanders. She heard one of the cops mumble something about a drive-by shooting, but she couldn't get close enough to eavesdrop on the conversation he was having with another cop.
Lois managed to corner one of the police officers who didn't seem to be doing anything drastically important. "Officer, I think I have some information you might want." The officer, of course, did. He took her aside and she told him about the speeding car and the license plate numbers, and also that there was a Garfield toy hanging in the back window.
The officer thanked Lois, who turned smugly away and noticed the police had put up yellow tape, of which she was *inside* and all the other nosy reporters were *outside*.
"Time for some real investigating," she said to herself as she headed toward the crowd of rescue workers and police men. Trying to remain inconspicuous, she made her way over to the outside wall of a store, where several bullets had lodged themselves.
Lois' eyes widened as she looked at the bullets. The bullets seemed to be … eating the paneling! At first she thought it was her imagination, but yes indeed, the bullet's were disintegrating the paneling surrounding them like acid.
Lois jotted the information down on her notepad, then turned to hunt down some officers. Once again, her help was greatly appreciated, but she was soon escorted to the other side of the police line.
Lois, although slightly insulted at being removed from her investigating, looked happily down at the clues she had obtained. She knew just as much as the police did, which was more than the snoopy reporters out here were going to find out!
Lois was up until early the next morning researching bullets. She hadn't found any information on acid bullets, as she had dubbed them, or any other kind of bullet that ate away at the structure it hit.
Her eyes were getting heavy, but she couldn't give up. She searched through some recent and some old "Scientific" magazines.
She was about to call it a night when she spotted an article about H2SO4 Bullets. She eagerly read it, taking vigorous notes as she did.
Apparently some guy named James Wheely had discovered a way to put H2SO4 into the form of a bullet. Wheely was a scientist who thought the bullets would make police work easier, but his notes were stolen by some group called Intergang. Intergang reproduced the bullets and distributed them to every hardened criminal Intergang was tied with.
*So whoever was responsible for the drive-by shooting is most likely a part of Intergang!* Lois concluded.
Satisfied, Lois crawled into bed. She could work on it more the next day.
The next day, a more cheerful and refreshed Lois headed down to the campus computer lab. She managed to access a police file on Intergang, although a list of its suspected members was not open to the public. *I'll just have to do a little digging*, she thought. She tapped on the keyboard, and soon downloaded some old issues of The Daily Planet. She was looking for something on James Wheely's discovery or the robbery of his lab that was mentioned in the magazine article.
After over an hour of searching through old news articles, she found an extensive article about the ingenious scientist. But it didn't focus on the robbery or even about the acidic bullets.
It was a story covering the murder of James Wheely.
Lois read with wide eyes. Wheely had been shot in his own laboratory last year. An investigation followed, and someone by the name of Bradley Bryson had been arrested and charged.
*There's gotta be a catch,* Lois thought as she read through the rest of the article. Near the end, she found exactly what she had been looking for.
Wheely's lab had been left untouched, with the exception of some missing computer disks, chemical vats, and bullets. *And I'll bet they were the acidic bullets and computer files with the extensive directions,* Lois thought grimly. The article didn't say anything more about the missing bullets, except that as of the publication date, they had not been recovered.
Lois transferred the article onto a disk for her own reference purposes, then headed back to her dorm. She had a lot of thinking to do, and her mind was spinning faster than she could control.
What did Bryson do with the stolen merchandise? Did he have an accomplice? Did he hide the goods, only to have them be found by someone else?
She made her way to her bed and flopped down, turning on the radio for relaxation. Purely coincidentally, the local news was on.
"Metropolis Jeweler's was robbed last night. The building's security locks were ruined by acidic bullets shot off during a drive-by shooting yesterday afternoon, and the company had not had time to properly replace them. The exact value of the stolen merchandise has not yet been determined, but WKIZ will keep you informed."
Lois sat up, suddenly wide awake. *A motive!* she exclaimed in her mind. She had a motive for the drive-by shooting, and she had a suspect. Well, maybe a suspect. Everything was falling into place, although she wasn't sure what kind of picture the pieces would make if she could ever fit them together.
She had to figure out who was responsible for the shooting, and she had a pretty good idea how to find out. She grabbed the phone book and looked up the number to the Metropolis Men's Prison. It would take some talking and some fibbing, but she could figure out what she needed to know.
She punched in the phone number into her cordless phone and nervously cleared her throat. A gruff voice answered the phone, and Lois proceeded with her plot.
"I'm calling from The Daily Planet," she lied, crossing her fingers. "I need to speak to someone verified to distribute prisoner information." She waited for several moments on hold, and another voice came onto the phone.
"Hi, this is Lois Lane from the Daily Planet. I'm doing a follow-up story on a murder last year, and I need to know if a prisoner named Bradley Bryson is still in your custody."
There was a pause, and Lois heard the woman typing on the computer. "He was released after a retrial, which found him innocent due to circumstantial evidence."
Lois' heart pounded against her rib cage. "Thank you, ma'am," she said as she hung up the phone.
Bryson was on the loose! Something inside of her was telling her she was on the right track, that she was about to solve the case. Writer's instinct, of course.
One more phone call …
Lois dialed the local police station and connected to the Information center. Lying once again about her profession as a reporter, she inquired about the license plate number and automobile make of the car owned by Bradley Bryson.
The officer was wary, but Lois insisted she was on the brink of solving a major crime spree, but the details were top secret. The officer relented, and searched through her computer files momentarily.
"All right, I've got Bradley Bryson. Licensed to a red Toyota pick-up truck with license plate number QLR 612." Lois, about ready to jump up and down with glee, thanked the woman and hung up.
She hugged herself and headed for the door, ready to run down to the police station. But something stopped her. She had circumstantial evidence — that's what got Bryson out of jail the first time. She had to have proof before she went to the police.
She recalled the list of Bradley Bryson's in the phone book and grabbed the list she had made. There were only two; one in a nearby suburb, Downton Bay, and one in downtown Metropolis.
Lois chose the Bryson in Downton Bay, a safer neighborhood. Jotting down both addresses on a sheet of paper, she locked the dorm door and headed for her car.
She drove out to Downton Bay and quickly located 341 Pine Street. It was a small white house, with a lawn that obviously hadn't been mowed in quite some time. A broken- down gray car sat in the driveway, with an orange-and-black "FOR SALE" sign in the window.
Lois cautiously parked her car along the side of the road and walked up to the front door. Trying to relax her nerves, Lois knocked loudly on the door. She heard footsteps approaching and soon the door swung open.
An elderly man with a walker gave her a very unwelcoming look. His face was heavy with wrinkles and whiskers, and a cigar dangled from his thin lips.
"Whadd'ya want?" He demanded grumpily. Lois tried her best to give him a pleasant smile.
"I'm Lois Lane, from the Daily Planet," It was getting easier and easier to lie. The words sounded so good rolling off her tongue. "I was wondering if Bradley Bryson lives or lived here."
The man's face twisted into a frown. "Ain't no Bradley here." He paused, as if debating whether or not to give Lois some more information. Lois played a small, almost seductive, smile upon her lips. It was enough to get the old geezer to open up.
"I dunno what a pretty little thing like you would want with a sleaze bag like Bradley,"
"Oh, so you know him?" Lois asked, trying her hardest to look innocent. The old man nodded.
"Yeah, he's my son. BJ, Bradley Junior, that's his name." He was beginning to look bored, so Lois jumped to the point.
"He was released from prison, right?" Lois countered. The man replied with a nod. "Do you know if he is in any way associated with an organization called Intergang?"
The man replied quickly, almost *too* quickly. "Never heard of them."
"This may be too forward, but … " she paused, then plunged into her inquiry. "Do you believe he was guilty for the murder of James Wheely?"
The face under the wrinkles turned dark red, and Lois instinctively took a step back.
"My boy would never hurt a fly! He got himself in the wrong crowd, true, but he wouldn't never kill nobody!"
He slammed the door on Lois, who headed back to her car as fast as she could.
"So, Bryson's on his dad's good side," she said out loud. She started the engine and looked at the slip of paper. She had one more little visit to make. Hopefully, it would be more productive than the one with Bryson Senior.
Lois traveled through downtown Metropolis and into an area dubbed "Suicide Slum." The walls of the run-down buildings were covered with graffiti, different sections obviously belonging to different gangs. Lois struggled to find house numbers on the scarce houses, until she finally found 133 Martin Street.
It was one of the dirtiest, smelliest, run-down houses Lois had ever seen in her entire nineteen years. She didn't even know such places existed in Metropolis. The yellowish paint was almost completely peeled off the sides, the roof was badly in need of replacement, and old furniture and several broken motorcycles littered the unmowed lawn. A short gravel driveway led up to a patch of dead grass where a red pickup truck was parked.
Red truck! Lois couldn't see the license plate, but she knew she was at the right place!
She knew what she *should* do. She should go back to her warm, safe dormitory and then call the police and tell them what she had discovered. That was the safe, logical way.
But Lois Lane was far from logical. She couldn't let this chance slip away. Despite her nagging conscience, she parked and headed to the front door.
What was she going to say? Hi, did you rob the jewelry store last week? Did you kill Wheely and steal his bullets? She wanted to turn back, but her body wouldn't let her. She walked up to the door and proceeded to knock on the door. She would just have to do some more lying. She was never raised to lie her way into something, but then again, she had never done investigating before.
No one answered the door. She knocked again, with the same response. Pressing her ear against the door, Lois was met by silence. She stepped carefully off the broken porch and peered into the window beside the porch.
The inside of the home was a spitting image of the outside. Beer bottles and garbage littered the floor, and smoke hung heavily in the air. Old food lay on the table in piles, and dishes were stacked like a tower in the sink.
Something on the coffee table caught Lois' probing eye. It was an open box, and Lois could see what looked to be bullets inside of it.
*Think, girl, think!* Lois' mind demanded. She had found evidence, obvious evidence, that Bryson was responsible for the drive-by shooting and maybe even the robbery. She couldn't go in and grab them, though. She'd be thrown in jail on one count of breaking and entering and robbery, and after that they'd probably book *her* for the shooting and the robbery!
But what could she do? The police couldn't get a search warrant unless they had reasonable evidence, and they couldn't get reasonable evidence unless they had a search warrant! It was beginning to look hopeless.
Suddenly, a car pulled up into the driveway. Lois, hidden in the shadows, dove behind a bush. She held her breath and tried to silence her beating heart.
She peered through an opening in the bush and watched a tall, heavyset man and a smaller, younger man get out of the car.
On impulse, Lois carefully reached into her purse and pulled out her micro-recorder. Hitting the record button, she hoped its microphone would pick up any conversation the two men had.
"Not the ride, I mean for the whole prison thing."
"Well, Brad, you helped us get the bullets we needed. We owed you one. Getting the lawyers to do that 'circumstantial evidence' stuff was easy. It's amazing what people will do for money."
"No kidding. Just look at those lunatics, Marty and what's-his-name."
"Nick. Yeah, for some change they did last night's dirty work for us. 'Course, it helped that we had already ruined the locks for them."
"Yeah. It's a shame they were so sloppy. Leaving their prints and all."
"Their fault. At least we got the goods."
"And plenty more bullets. They're inside."
"Save them. And stay hid, 'kay? We don't need you getting caught."
The whole conversation had been very casual, as if talking about murder and robbery was like discussing the weather. Lois had easily figured out that the big guy was Brad and the small guy was Bill, and Brad worked for Bill. Lois tried to get a closer glimpse at Bill, who was heading toward Brad's front door. She lifted her head, but lost her balance as she did.
She struggled to catch herself, but it was too late. Her foot landed on a thick branch and caused it to snap.
She froze, praying the men hadn't heard her. Her fears were confirmed when she heard the footsteps running toward her.
*Run!* She commanded herself. She tried to stand up, to flee, but her legs were like jelly. She managed to get about two feet from the bush when Brad grabbed her.
"A snoop, huh?" He said gruffly. Lois swung her foot back, hitting her assailant in the groin.
"Umph!" He cried out, letting go of Lois momentarily. She took the chance to run toward her car, but even her best efforts weren't fast enough to outrun Bill. He pulled her toward him, wrapping his arms around her waist. She fought to gain composure, tried to free herself.
Bill quickly pulled something out of his pocket and held it against Lois' sweaty forehead. The feel of the cold gun against her skin sent shivers of fear up and down her spine.
"Easy does it, little lady." Bill murmured, leading her to the house. "Can't have little snitches telling the cops about us, now can we?"
Brad, fully recovered from the blow of self defense Lois had administered, unlocked his front door and held the door open for Bill and Lois.
Lois felt a wave of nausea as she entered the house; partially from fear and partially from the awful stench.
"Don't you ever take a bath?" She said dryly, gagging. Bill smacked her face with the gun, making direct contact with her nose. Pain shot through Lois, and she felt warm blood begin to run from her nose.
"Shut up, sista. Now, look, we don't want no trouble from no sissy girl spy or whatever." Bill said, still holding the gun to her temple. "So you got your choice. We can set it up to look like suicide, or we can give you some dignity and make it look like a murder."
"It is murder," Lois said hoarsely, fully aware from the pain that he had broken her nose. Bill laughed.
"True. Now, Miss … ?"
Lois rolled her eyes. She noticed Brad looking at her strangely, and she suddenly got a bright idea. She looked up at Brad and winked. Playfully, she added an immature accent to her normally serious voice.
"Actually, I came here lookin' for Bradley. Heard he was a good guy for a good guy. he's quite the talk with the ladies down at Art's Club." She said, naming a local bar. Brad looked flattered despite himself. Lois took the cue and strutted toward him, brushing the stunned Bill aside. "And I see they were right. Say, Bradley, after you and your friend here get done doing business, what say you and me go back to my hotel room. I'm only in town for another week, then it's back to the Big Apple for me."
Brad looked pleadingly at Bill. "Ah, Bill. Do we have to kill her?" Bill nodded, exasperated. Brad put his arm around her.
"Ah, Bill. Can't you let me and Bradley have some fun first? That stuff back with the door, that was just New York tough girl talk. I don't like guns." She said, trying to sound like a complete airhead. It was a stretch for her, but her life depended on it.
Brad hugged her close, and Lois' stomach flip-flopped at the horrible smell. She covered with a flirty smile.
Bill rolled his eyes. "Fine, whatever. But don't even let her out of your sight until she boards the plane for New York. She knows too much as it is." He gave her a dirty look, angry that she had overruled his power.
Lois almost collapsed with relief. She had never come that close to death. Now, how was she going to get away from the big dope … ?
"Hey, Bradley, ya think I could change into something more … comfortable?" Lois gave Brad a meaningful look and winked. It was almost fun watching him melt. He nodded, dazed.
"Sure. The bathroom's down the hall, second door on your left." Lois almost laughed at his stupidity. Or maybe it was just puppy love. He couldn't be too stupid if he was a part of the complicated schemes she had read about. Either way, he didn't even notice as she went into the bathroom to "change" with nothing but her purse.
Once in the security of the small, smelly bathroom, Lois quickly pushed the screen out of the small window. She squeezed through, barely fitting her slender body through the window frame.
Panting, she ran across the lawn to her car. She shakily dug the keys out of her purse and jumped into the driver's seat. She peeled out of Suicide Slum, driving as fast as she could toward the Metropolis Police Department.
"Lois! Are you okay?" Kellie said, entering the health clinic's waiting room. Lois self-consciously touched the contraption on her broken nose. Bill had done some pretty extensive damage, but the doctors had assured her she would be fine in a few weeks.
"Kellie, you will not believe what happened today!" She proceeded to tell her friend about the conversations and the kidnapping.
"And the police arrested Bradley Bryson and Bill MacDippon. Bryson's back in jail for the murder, after I got the conversation on tape. Looks like they're going to put Bill away for a while, too."
Kellie shook her head and hugged her best friend. How did Lois get into these scrapes?
"Now take me home! I have a story to write for a certain editor at the Daily Planet!" Lois said, heading toward the door. Kellie laughed and followed in the budding reporter's footsteps.
Once again, a very nervous Lois Lane was standing outside the main entrance to The Daily Planet. And once again, she was dressed to the nines in the most conservative clothes she could dig up: a maroon skirt and white blouse, with simple black flat shoes.
"This is it," she mumbled to herself. She clutched the manila envelope containing her story. Her family and Kellie had all read it and were very impressed. So why did she feel so apprehensive?
She entered the newspaper building and once again headed for the elevator. Something told her if she didn't amaze Perry White with this story, her chances at getting hired were going to shoot from slim to absolutely hopeless.
Lois managed to walk her wobbly legs to the editor's office and knocked on the door. And, like before, she was ushered in and seated.
"So, Miss Lane. What have you got for me?" Perry asked, a hint of impatience in his voice.
"An unbelievable story. And it happened to me, so I *know* the facts are right." She confidently handed him the folder.
Perry spent the next five minutes in silence reading Lois' story. It was the longest five minutes of Lois' life. The middle-aged man's face remained stern, unemotional. Did he like it? Did he hate it? Could he give her a clue?
Finally, his eyes swept over the last of the article. He looked up and placed the article back in the envelope.
Lois couldn't stand the waiting. "Well?" She asked hopefully. Perry looked her in the eye.
"It could use some brushing up. A little editing, maybe some rearranging." He paused, then let his rigid face fall into a warm smile. "Young lady, this is a very wonderful article for someone with your experience. In fact, it's pretty good for someone with a lifetime of experience. I'm running it on the front page."
Lois' heart stopped. She couldn't grasp what the editor was saying. She searched for words, her mouth opening and closing mutely.
"You … don't know how much this means to me!" She managed to squeak out. Perry chuckled.
"The Daily Planet would be honored to have you on its writing staff. Of course, we'll start you off with some small stuff, just to get you used to the newspaper business and let you gain some experience."
Lois let out a small whoop, unable to contain the excitement. She quickly tried to calm herself, but couldn't wipe the stupid grin off her face.
"Miss Lane … may I call you Lois?" Lois nodded happily. "Lois, I think this could be the start of something incredible … "
The End of the story … But only the beginning of Lois Lane, Ace Reporter