By Barb Pillsbury <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: December, 2003
Summary: The play's the thing as the Smallville Players attempt to stop a foe and save their future. But can they do it before the curtain falls forever?
Welcome back into the world of LnC juxtaposed with the world of a small community theatre—albeit a wonderfully talented one—the Smallville Players. As before, Lois and Clark are teachers at Smallville High School and both are very active members of the community theatre group directed by Martha Kent.
As with SP III, I caution you to watch the dates very carefully as the plot and actors flit back and forth between two views of the present and two views of the future.
I can't believe that we're here—the last in the quadrilogy. I hope that I've made the world of theatre one that you want to visit again and often. Films, DVDs, and TV are an integral part of all of our lives—but live theatre brings you something more. It gives us all a chance to share the event—to participate—rather than just watch the world go by. Our two favorite characters were always more than observers, and I hope that all of us follow their lead.
At the end of the story, you will find credits, but right here, right now, I have to thank so many people. The friends I have made in the last two years are friends who have been there for me and will hopefully be part of my future. Thank you to Labby, Erin, Bethy, Tricia, Karen, and Wendy who have helped me become a better writer. Thank you to Saskia, Cristina, Merry, Gerri, Roger, Rivka, Shelley, Raquel, Carol, Yael, Kathy, Maria, and others I'm probably forgetting to mention, who have constantly read my work and encouraged and supported me.
Thanks to the folcs on IRC—Pam, Laurie, Paul, Elena, Kaethel, Meredith, Lynn, Qex, Annette, Avia, and others whose humor, caring, and nurturing have helped me so much.
This last fic in the series has been a Dutch Treat, because Saskia has joined Laswa as a BR and I thank her sincerely.
Most of all thank you Laswa, who has been there for all four parts—your sustenance, your spark, and your loyalty has found its way into all my writing — You're incredible.
Sas and Laswa—you've been more than just a supporting cast — you've had major roles in this production. I owe you so much!
Since this is the last fic in a four-part chronicle, we hopefully tie up all loose ends and leave our actors in a great place remembering that:
*All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.*
— Wm. Shakespeare As You Like It. Act ii. Sc. 7.
"Mommy, Mommy! Read me a story," the little dark-eyed boy shouted as he ran into the living room, handing his mother a book.
The patient young woman retrieved the book from her five- year-old son's hand. "This one again?" she asked, looking at the volume lovingly.
"Yes," the little boy insisted as he joined his mother on the well-worn couch in front of the fireplace of the old farmhouse. "Again and again and again!"
She smiled, moved a lock of hair off of her son's forehead and opened the book to the dedication page.
*…There is a time for some things, and a time for all things; a time for great things, and a time for small things.
But all in good time.*
— Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote
The mother turned the page and her mind began its journey, as the words in the book took her back.
Smallville, Kansas Monday, March 14, 1994
Jonathan Kent walked down the long fluorescent-lit hallway of Smallville High School. Above the long row of gray lockers was a banner with '61 days of school left' printed in large red block letters. A couple of colorful posters reminded the students that Friday was a basketball game with arch-rival Hillsborough High School.
The elder Kent turned the corner at the end of the hall and strode toward the lobby of the high school auditorium which the Smallville Players used as their theatre. He opened the door at the rear of the school's auditorium and walked down the aisle. A flash of white caught his eye as he ambled toward the stage. He paused and then moved sideways along one of the rows, flipping up seats as he went. He stooped down and picked up a wayward program that had slipped under a seat and remained unnoticed by the busy janitorial staff.
Smallville Players presents 'Arsenic and Old Lace', he read. Jonathan sank down in an auditorium seat and opened the program. He smiled as he glanced at the cast of characters and found himself thinking back to the production's final night. Was it just two weeks ago?
A bulb in one of the chandeliers above Jonathan's head began flickering, but it went unobserved as his mind played an encore of that last eventful performance. Jonathan remembered that he had been stage left, behind the supposed Brewster dining room, waiting for his cue when Libby spoke.
Aunt Martha/Libby Barton: Well, Mortimer, now that we're moving, this house really is yours.
Aunt Abby/Martha Kent: Yes dear, we want you to live here now.
Mortimer/Clark: No, Aunt Abby, this house is too full of memories.
Backstage, Jonathan was standing across from Dr. Mock when the minister heard his cue. Dr. Mock picked up the Bible and walked toward the Brewster's front door entrance. He paused behind the masked panel that hid the exits and entrances of the actors. Jonathan had been there when the minister and Clark had worked this out, and he was confident that Dr. Mock knew what to do. Jonathan Kent returned the smile Dr. Mock, alias Dr. Harper, threw at him and moved closer so that he, too, was ready for his prescribed entrance.
Aunt Martha/Libby Barton: [Looks over at Clark and smiles.] But you'll need a home when you and Elaine are married.
From his position, Jonathan could see Clark glance around the set to make sure that all the actors were in their places. They all knew what was to occur — that is, all except Lois Lane.
Mortimer/Clark: Darlings, that's very indefinite.
Elaine/Lois: [Rising from the couch where she had been sitting.] It's nothing of the kind—we're going to be married right away.
Mortimer/Clark: Yes, right away. In fact right now!
Jonathan had seen Lois look over at Clark. He knew that she realized that wasn't the line and instead, were probably the changes hinted at by Martha before she went on. Clark usually didn't go up on lines. Aunt Abby, that is, Martha Kent was supposed to say…but people began moving to what looked like pre-assigned spots on the set.
At the appointed moment, Jonathan Kent entered to stand beside his wife. Perry had returned from upstairs and took Lois' arm and escorted her to the center of the stage to stand beside Clark. Martha had taken Jonathan's hand and smiled up at him. Jonathan glanced over at Lois and could imagine what she was thinking.
Lois looked around again. She looked at Martha, Jonathan and then the rest of the cast. This obviously looked real to her. It *was* real, she was realizing!!! Reverend Harper, uh…Dr. Mock was entering through the Brewster's supposed front door.
Clark turned Lois to face him. "I fell in love with you the moment I first saw you. I've never stopped loving you, not even for an instant. And I will go on loving you for the rest of my life," he told her gently, putting his hand up to cup the side of her face. "Marry me now," he pleaded, his eyes searching into her soul. "Right here, right now— in front of all of our friends and family. I can't live without you. I was so wrong to push you away. You mean everything to me. Please, please say yes."
Clark pulled Lois into his arms and kissed her. Through the kiss he whispered: "Lois, I love you. Marry me."
Tears welled up in Lois' eyes as she stepped back to stare at the incredible man who once again had asked her…asked her to… She closed her eyes. Was the jinx at long last over? Should she tempt fate and… <Stop thinking, Lois> she shouted at herself. <You have spent your adult life risking everything for your work, for the causes you believe in. Risk now! Feel! Don't think!>
Clark waited, hoping against hope.
Lois looked up at him with confidence in her eyes, and in a warm and steady voice said: "Yes, Mortimer. I'll marry you," she began, matching the deep look into his eyes, "right here, and right now."
Jonathan Kent looked at his watch and shook off the reverie of the performance—that is, the wedding—vividly portrayed in his thoughts. No time for encores now, as he had promised Martha that he would prepare the stage so auditions could be held for the next play. He also had to move some set pieces that remained in the two wing areas to their small delegated storage room behind the stage in order to establish a large enough area for set construction.
Jonathan shouldn't be spending time reminiscing because he really had to get working on this particular play quickly, as it had a lot of technical attributes requiring special features to be installed within and behind the set. The next play would be a technical director's tour-de-force; and it, therefore, would require a lot of his time.
A few more minutes wouldn't hurt, though, as the dream-like remembrances held him. The elder Kent smiled as he folded the program and looked up at the closed red curtain with a large gold 'S' within a circle embossed on it. Jonathan smiled again as the Smallville High School emblem reminded him of how far his son had come to finally realize his destiny.
Only seven months ago, Clark had been hiding his powers and surreptitiously reaching out to help those in trouble. Jonathan had worried about his son being made into some kind of government experiment, poking and prodding him once they found out he was not like other men.
But now with the advent of Superman, Clark finally knew why he was here and how he could make a difference. And his son had done just that.
Jonathan stood up and walked up the steps to the stage. He paused in front of the closed curtain. Much had ended or been altered when the curtain rang down sixteen nights ago. The house of Luthor was no more, Libby Barton had resolved issues in her life and now faced her last days with friends clustered around her; and lastly and wonderfully, Jonathan now had Lois Lane as a daughter.
The technical director of the Smallville Players Theatre Group stepped through the curtain and walked backstage. He reached up and, moving hand over hand, reopened the curtain.
Once again, Claire looked into the mirror, eyeing the reflection she saw staring back at her. She tossed her head and fluffed her dark hair, but that was just a way to procrastinate, as vanity was not one of her vices.
She took a deep breath and gazed, yet again, at the dark resolute eyes and the determined chin. Although only fifteen, there was a maturity behind those eyes and a wisdom that came from an understanding heart. She had the family chin, her mother had told her; and the look in Claire's eyes when she knew she was right echoed the paternal side of her family back to her…her…no she couldn't get off track. Concentrate!
"Hi," she said lightly to the face in the mirror. "My name is Claire Kennedy and I've just moved here from…from…" she paused, as she bit her lower lip. "Metropolis."
Why was she having so much trouble with those simple lines? She was an actress. How dare she go up on her part! It's as if she had never been on stage before. She turned away from the mirror and gathered herself together.
Claire had been in over a dozen plays since the age of nine—and always, always big roles. She had been Annie in 'Annie', Mary in 'The Children's Hour', Helen Keller in 'The Miracle Worker', and even Juliet. Her current role, as Claire Kennedy, new student at Smallville High School, should be a snap for the young thespian. But so incredibly much was riding on this.
Claire turned back to the mirror and, sliding her hand up to move a lock of hair from her face, checked the reflection one last time to insure that she looked the part, then spun away and walked toward the door.
Lois Lane looked toward the door of her classroom, half expecting to see her husband walk by. In the just over two weeks that she and Clark had been married, she had gained a superpower of her own—the ability to know when her husband was nearby. Lois frowned and then smiled as she caught sight of him moving quickly down the hall. A few seconds later, a red and blue streak zoomed by the window of Smallville High School as Clark headed out toward some unknown danger.
<Be careful,> she thought, and turned back to her class.
"Welcome back from spring break. I hope you had a great vacation. I know I did," she said, smiling.
The class laughed and then they all turned to look at Keith Haley while encouraging him through gestures and whispers to go toward the front of the class.
"Miss La…uh, Mrs. Kent," Keith began. "The class wants to wish you and Mr. Kent the best. We all think this is so great. You both are fantastic teachers and incredible people," he continued, smiling as he thought back to how the two of them supported him when he needed someone.
"We're so glad that both of you found each other," he went on. "And, uh, well… we've gotten together to get you a wedding present," he said, as Emily Cox joined him, carrying a small package.
"Thank you all," Lois told the class. "It's been such a real joy to be your teacher. I have learned so much from all of you," she finished as she opened the package. Inside was a small hardbound book, 'The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail: A Play'.
"This is wonderful!" Lois exclaimed. "You all know how I love Thoreau and this specific book has been out of print for about ten years. I have a small, worn, paperback edition, but have been looking for this. Thank you—each and every one of you."
Lois put the volume down on her desk and tenderly placed her hand on it. She then smiled and faced the class once again.
Dr. Tim Post closed the top drawer of his desk and, for the third time, adjusted the diploma on the wall of his office at Smallville General Hospital. He stepped back again to look at the results of his machinations. He smiled and reached down into the box on the floor, lifting out two other framed documents that falsely and somewhat garishly testified to his ersatz credibility.
Moving back to his desk, the visitor from the future opened the bottom drawer and removed a bag made of material not known to contemporary earth dwellers. He opened the clasp that secured the bag and poured some of its contents into a small plate that he had placed on his desk earlier. The granules of red crystals sparkled in the sun that filtered through the blinds at his window.
"Just in time," the pseudo doctor sang. "I found you just in time. Before you came my time was running low." He took some of the finite crystals in his hand and letting them dribble out as if in some Navajo sand painting, he drew the familiar 'S' on the desk. "I was lost," he crooned. "The losing dice were tossed. My bridges all were crossed. Nowhere to go."
The flagitious phony got up and with the bag in his arms, danced around the room. He stretched out his arms and smiled at his treasure. "But now you're here. And now I know just where I'm going. No more doubt or fear. I've found my way," he crooned, as he strutted back toward the desk.
Dr. Post put the bag down on the desk, whistling the final strains of the song. And looking at the crystals in front of him, he licked his lips and smiled. "And it's about time," he said out loud.
"It's about time," Lois told the class. "The novel we are going to study next is *all* about time. It is considered the first book to be written about time travel."
"I know," sang out Tom Mock. "The Time Machine."
"Nope," their teacher informed them. "Besides that's a British novel and this is American Literature. Think American."
The class was quiet.
"Do you know the answer, Rod?" asked their teacher.
All heads turned toward Rod Purcell.
Rod had been born in Smallville as had most of his friends. At age five, he was in a terrible automobile accident that killed his mother and rendered him totally blind. Rod's father had been a cardiologist but returned to Medical School to become an ophthalmic surgeon. He became renowned in his field as he spent the last twelve years searching for a way to help his son.
Dr. Purcell and Rod spent four months in Switzerland, where the doctor had heard there was a new procedure that could help his son. Both had returned to Smallville two weeks ago, the operation unsuccessful.
Lois looked out at Rod. "Rod? From what I've heard, this author is a favorite of yours."
"Yes, Mrs. Kent," Rod replied. "Mark Twain. And the book you are talking about is 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court'."
"Right you are, Rod," his teacher acknowledged. "And, now, let me read this review."
…Mr. Clemens, we call him, rather than Mark Twain, because we feel that in this book our arch-humorist imparts more of his personal quality than in anything else he has done. Here he is to the full the humorist, as we know him; but he is very much more, and his strong, indignant, often infuriate hate of injustice, and his love of equality, burn hot through the manifold adventures and experiences of the tale. What he thought about prescriptive right and wrong, we had partly learned in The Prince and the Pauper, and in Huckleberry Finn, but it is this last book which gives us his whole mind. The elastic scheme of the romance allows it to play freely back and forward between the sixth century and the nineteenth century; and often while it is working the reader up to a blasting contempt of monarchy and aristocracy in King Arthur's time, the dates are magically shifted under him, and he is confronted with exactly the same principles in Queen Victoria's time. The delicious satire, the marvelous wit, the wild, free, fantastic humor are the colors of the tapestry, while the texture is a humanity that lives in every fibre. At every moment the scene amuses, but it is all the time an object-lesson in democracy…
"So, Lois told them "through the eyes of an American humorist of the 19th century, we are going to view sixth- century Camelot."
"Camelot," Clark Kent said, as he quickly reentered his History II class. He adjusted his tie and began collecting the quiz he had hastily assigned his students while he made his 'phone call'.
"Camelot," he said again. "The New Frontier. The Kennedy years were something special," he continued, as he put the relatively easy quiz question the students responded to in his desk.
"The lethargy of the 50s made way for the creative and youthful energy of the 60s as the youngest elected president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, took up residence at the White House. Just as the Camelot of old dealt with an idyllic view of the world— might for right instead of might is right—a voice against injustice—an arm tilting at windmills. Oops," Clark interjected. "I'm mixing metaphors or legends as it were— King Arthur and Don Quixote."
The students chuckled.
"But, maybe not," Clark went on. "Those are two views of not a particular time period in history, but of a concept— a concept of commitment to an ideal—that there is good in all of us and that a government should be one that supports that vision."
Clark walked around and leaned against the front edge of his desk. "Quixote's quest personifies romantic idealism—a state of mind which exists just this side of madness—in its purest form. His story becomes an inspiration to pursue our personal quests with unfailing dedication, unbridled optimism, unwavering courage, and unparalleled chivalry. I believe it finds its echo in JFK's inaugural commitment— 'ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.'"
"So what do we have to do with this one?" Tom asked the English teacher. "Dress up in 6th century clothing, put on a joust, search for the holy grail?"
"No, Tom," Lois said, her eyes twinkling. "But it would be fun to see you try that."
The students laughed and then looked at their teacher expectantly. She had always had an interesting task to go with the discussion of their assigned novel. What was in their teacher's mind this time?
Lois smiled. "Okay, nothing controversial, no wandering out in the community, just an additional reading requirement and the opportunity to contrast several visions of knighthood in flower."
Lois turned to write the names of several literary pieces on the board. Remembering that she now had a visually impaired student, Lois read off the titles as she listed them in chalk. "'The Song of Roland', 'The Castle of Otranto', 'The Talisman', 'Ivanhoe', 'The Idylls of the King', 'Le Morte d'Arthur', and 'Don Quixote'."
The groans from the class were loud and long.
Lois turned back. "It's not going to be that bad," she explained. "Once again, you'll be in groups of four. You will read your supplementary piece of literature. One of you will present some information on the author, a second student will provide a summary of the work, another will compare the vision of knighthood depicted to that of Mark Twain's, while the fourth student will contrast the writing style of the two authors. Any questions?"
"Can we pick our teams?" Cindy asked.
"Not this time," their teacher responded. "I want to try to break-up a couple of your little cliques and give you the opportunity to work with some new people. Oh, and speaking of new people, a new student will be joining us shortly."
"Who?" Keith asked, verbalizing what the others were thinking.
"Claire Kennedy," Lois informed them, looking at a note on her desk. "She'll be here as soon as she finishes getting her orientation lecture from Principal White."
"She'll get more than that," Cindy said. "She'll learn more about Elvis than she thought she'd ever want to know."
The students chuckled in agreement.
"Well, she should be here soon," Lois informed them. "Meanwhile…"
Claire quickly walked over to the auditorium. She just had to take one quick peek at the stage before she joined her class, which was already in session. Claire walked over to the light board. Well, this was certainly archaic. She expected that, of course. She looked up at the electrics, quickly figured out its system and pulled up the lever marked C3. Two ellipsoidal instruments, gelled in violet, brightly blazed down on center stage. Claire walked over, found its hot spot and looking out toward the empty seats, wet her lips and spoke.
Claire/Aldonza: Please! Try to remember!
Yes, try to remember. Remember something that hasn't even… When was it? When? She stooped down and touched the very place on the boards where her father…her father…lying on a bed, center stage reaching out…reaching toward…saying those anguished lines from 'The Man of La Mancha'.
Quijana: Is it so important?
Yes it is important—so important. She stood up and could almost hear his lines as if spoken aloud—although only a resonance etched deeply within her thoughts and memory. She continued the dialog, so much a part of her soul.
Claire/Aldonza: Everything. My whole life. You spoke to me and everything was— different!
Quijana: I…spoke to you?
Claire/Aldonza: And you looked at me! And you called me by another name! (She sings, pleadingly)
Dulcinea…Dulcinea… Once you found a girl and called her Dulcinea, When you spoke the name, an angel seemed to whisper— Dulcinea…Dulcinea…
Claire moved out of the light as if she was dragged by unknown forces, but ran back to the light and continued.
Dulcinea…Dulcinea… Won't you bring me back the dream of Dulcinea…? Won't you bring me back the bright and shining glory… Of Dulcinea… Dulcinea…
Quijana: Then perhaps…it was not a dream…
Claire/Aldonza: You spoke of a dream. And about the Quest!
Claire/Aldonza: How you must fight and it doesn't matter whether you win or lose if only you follow the Quest.
Claire wiped away the tears that had slowly fallen down her face and walked out of the auditorium door and toward her own quest.
Martha Kent closed the door of Libby Barton's bedroom and nodded to the hospice nurse who was wending her way carefully up the stairs, balancing a tray of medications and at the same time, attempting to avoid Miss Libby's attentive cat who was intermittently trying to rub against the nurse's legs.
"Jinx," Martha said coaxingly. "Here, kitty."
Noticing that the nurse moved with a slight limp and was trying not to drop the tray, Martha stooped down and picked up the cat. "Jinx is coming home with me," explained the older woman. "Miss Libby needs to see her settled somewhere."
"Thank you," the nurse replied. "I think that's best."
Martha carried the cat downstairs and set her down in the kitchen as she opened the cupboards one by one. Finding what she was looking for, Martha removed several cans of cat food and placed them on the counter.
Jinx took that moment to scurry into the living room and hop up on to her accustomed spot on the window seat. Jinx turned around several times and snuggled down on the cushions that adorned the area. The sun streamed through the window and the warmth felt good on the cat's fur. She purred softly, but then stopped suddenly as her ears picked up a sound. A soft humming emanated from inside the cat's resting place.
Jinx jumped off her perch and began moving back and forth against the oak grain of the wood paneling as if sensing something warm and alive within.
The nurse returned to the living room and, eyeing the cat's movements, suspiciously moved slowly toward the feline.
Martha exited the kitchen with a bag of supplies, and carefully picked up Jinx before the nurse could reach her.
"How is Miss Libby doing?" Martha asked the nurse, gently stroking the cat in her arms.
"She's holding on," Liz Lathrop explained, as she continued to regard the cat. "Her pain medication has been increased, and she is somewhat more comfortable. The end isn't far off."
Martha sighed. "Let me know if she needs anything," Libby Barton's friend told the nurse, as she moved toward the front door.
"Of course," the nurse replied, solicitously. "Here, let me get that," Liz Lathrop told Martha and moved over to open the door for the older woman and her charge.
Dr. Liz Lathrop shut the door and, leaning against it, removed the badge that identified her as the hospice nurse. She took a deep breath and strode toward the window seat. One minute later, Liz stood there with a globe in her hand.
"…You know about transmigration of souls; do you know about transposition of epochs — and bodies?" Anne Holland read aloud from the text of the novel that they were about to study.
"Okay, you continue, Emily," their teacher instructed.
"I said I had not heard of it," Emily added. "He was so little interested — just as when people speak of the weather — that he did not notice whether I made him any answer or not. There was half a moment of silence, immediately interrupted by the droning voice of the salaried cicerone."
Out in the hallway, Claire looked down at her hand as it reached out to open the door of room 217. She pulled her hand back.
In the classroom, Cindy, as requested, continued "…My acquaintance smiled — not a modern smile, but one that must have gone out of general use many, many centuries ago…and muttered apparently to himself: 'Wit ye well, I SAW IT DONE.' Then, after a pause, added: 'I did it myself.'"
"All right," Lois said, looking up from the book. "Let me ask you a question."
Claire reached out again and turned the knob on the door.
"Okay," the English teacher said. "Let me try again. How many of you believe in time travel?"
Claire walked into Lois Lane's classroom.
Lois and the students stopped and stared at the young brunette.
"Hi!" Claire began. "My name is Claire Ken…Kennedy. I'm a new student here. I just moved to Smallville from Metropolis and, in answer to the teacher's question. I not only believe in time travel. I've done it. I'm from the future!"
"She shouldn't have said that, should she, Mommy!" the little boy said as his mother paused in her reading.
The dark-haired woman smiled at her son, participating in the game they always did when she read the book. "What do you think?" she inquired, playfully—asking the question she invariably asked when they got to this part.
"Uncle Herbie was upset at her wasn't, he?"
His mother smiled again and turned the page.
Smallville, Kansas Monday, March 14, 1994
"That was a preposterous thing to say!" the elderly man admonished Claire.
"They didn't believe it," she said, laughing and joined the man at the dining room table.
"It sort of broke the ice, Uncle Herbie; and now if I say anything even remotely weird, they'll just chalk it up to my flakiness."
"What about Miss Lane?" he asked her.
"She's wonderful! Just like all the history books say."
"And Mr. Kent?"
Claire paused and bit her lower lip. "He's so like my father," she said, tears coming to her eyes. "Since my mother died, my dad and I have only had each other. We have to save him, Mr. Wells. We just have to!"
Dystopia December, 2121
Wil Kent paced up and down his small eight by ten foot jail cell. How long had he been there? The days and weeks seemed to have melded into one. And Claire? Where was she? The forty-seven year old father sank down on the cot and put his face in his hands. He tried to think—to put everything together; but it was like reaching out through a fog of pea soup.
The sound of keys jangling brought him out of his frustration.
"Here's your supper," the burly man, dressed in some kind of animal skin, told the prisoner and shoved a tin plate with three mounds—one gray, one green and one brown— through the bars. Other than color, each pile was indistinguishable.
"Ain't you gonna eat?" the guard asked him. "You gotta keep your strength up. We don't want to burn no cadaver at the stake."
Wil looked at the food. "I'm not hungry."
"Maybe you just don't like the accommodations," the grotesque man said laughing, his keys jangling loudly as he retreated.
"Accommodations," Wil said aloud. "That's what the other guard said."
Utopia, April, 2121
The curtain rose on the Smallville Player's latest presentation. The one hundred and forty-three year-old community theatre group now boasted well over two thousand members. The legacy begun by Martha Kent was well entrenched and continued to blossom year after year.
The utopian society, now in existence, was one in which literature, philosophy, art, music, dance, and drama flourished. Schools for the performing and visual arts were in every community. Factories, banks, department stores, stock exchanges, mini-malls, and medical facilities had all been replaced with museums, concert halls, art galleries, libraries, botanical gardens, halls of learning and most especially, theatres. All basic needs were dispersed through on-line national dissemination centers and health care was monitored through copper ankle bracelets. The citizens, no longer tethered to a work ethic, spent their time studying, recording the history of the world's cultures, enhancing environmental projects, and participating in the myriad aspects of the arts.
The lights on the Martha Kent Theatre came up, but only dimly in order to give the appearance of a diffused meager light illuminating a large, cold, dank, rock-lined dungeon of a room.
The door at the head of the stairway opened and a harsh light streamed down like a knife cutting into the vault- like dungeon. The metal stairs were lowered slowly and deliberately, creating a chilling sound of chain grating on chain. A small somber procession descended into the bowels of the prison. First was a uniformed Captain of the Inquisition, then two soldiers assisting a chubby manservant with a sizable but shabby straw trunk; then an impressive, yet gentle-looking man in his late 40s, carrying a wrapped oblong package under one arm.
The manservant looked fearfully at the two soldiers who retreated back up the stairs and then at the Captain who remained. The mild-mannered man peered about, uncertainly.
Captain: (Watching the new prisoner, sardonically) Anything wrong? The accommodations?
Man/Wil: No, no, they appear quite interesting.
Captain: The cells are below. This is the common room, for those who wait.
Man/Wil: How long do they wait?
Captain: Some an hour…some a lifetime…
Man/Wil: Do they all await the Inquisition?
Captain: Ah, no, these are merely thieves and murderers. (Starting to leave, then turning back) If you need anything, just shout. (Then, as an afterthought, he adds) If you're able. (He exits)
Manservant: (Apprehensively) What did he mean by that?
Man/Wil: Calm yourself. There is a remedy for everything but death.
Manservant: That could be the very one we need!
A large number of the prisoners in the common room began moving, circling, and approaching the new prisoners like animals who scent pray.
Man/Wil: (With great courtliness). Good morning, gentlemen…ladies. I regret being thrust upon you in this manner, and hope you will not find my company objectionable. In any case, I shall not be among you very long. The Inquisition—
With a yell, the prisoners attacked. The new captive among them and his manservant were seized, tripped up and pinned to the floor. The older prisoners began busily rifling the pockets of the interlopers as The Governor, a big man of obvious authority, awakened from sleep.
The Governor: (In a roar) Enough! Noise, trouble, fights…kill each other if you must but for God's sake, do it quietly! (To the new man) Who are you? Eh? Speak up!
Man/Wil: (Gasping as his throat is freed) Cervantes. Don Miguel de Cervantes.
The Governor: (With mock respect) A gentleman!
Cervantes/Wil: (Painfully getting to his feet) It has never saved me from going to bed hungry.
The Governor: (Indicating the manservant) And that?
Cervantes/Wil: My servant. May I have the honor—?
The Governor: They call me The Governor. What's your game?
Cervantes/Wil: My game…?
The Governor: (Impatiently) Your specialty, man. Cutpurse? Highwayman?
Cervantes/Wil: Oh, nothing so interesting! I am a poet. A poet of the theatre—a playwright and an actor.
The Duke: (A prisoner of draggle-tail elegance smirks.) They're putting men in prison for that?
Dystopia, December, 2121
Wil looked around his cell. "Precisely for that!" he shouted and walked toward the cell door. He placed his hands on the bars and shook them fiercely. His ancestor would have been able to bend the steel in his bare hands. But each succeeding generation of the Kent family possessed less superpowers resulting in this Kent's much limited abilities.
His daughter, Claire, would joke that she believed he still possessed a modicum of visual and auditory powers, because he seemed to always know when she was just about to get herself into trouble and chastise her.
"Claire," her father whispered.
Smallville, Kansas Monday, March 14, 1994
"Clark," Lois called out as she walked through the front door. She placed the wedding gift, along with a copy of a script she had picked up from Martha, down on the coffee table amidst a pile of presents, yet to be put away.
Clark came out of the kitchen carrying a salad. He leaned in and gave her a quick kiss. "I started dinner. How was the faculty meeting? Sorry, had to…" he explained, making a flying gesture with his hand after placing the salad bowl on the dining room table.
"It was fine. Perry just barking about having to cut back some expenses," she informed him as she moved into his arms.
Clark leaned down and captured her lips in his once again.
Lois returned his kiss passionately, and then she pulled away. "Anything dangerous?" she asked, looking deeply into his eyes.
"A warehouse fire in Topeka."
"And earlier?" she asked, tilting her head as she stared at him, sensing something.
"Ah, you saw that?"
"Can't miss the red and blue," Lois replied with a grin.
"An airplane almost crashed," Clark explained, some hesitancy in his voice.
"You okay?" she asked, worried about him. She knew that he always berated himself when he couldn't be everywhere at once—couldn't solve all of the world's problems. She reached up and stroked the side of his face. The advent of Superman had finally given him a grasp on who he was and how he could make a difference—but not even Superman could do it all.
"Yeah, fine," he paused, kissing her fingers as they moved across his lips.
"What's wrong?" she asked, knowing that there was something he was holding back.
"Something strange happened today. A new transfer student joined my Government class," he said and walked away to try to formulate his next words.
"Yes, Claire Kennedy," Lois said, puzzled. "She's in my American Lit. Class."
"Did you notice anything weird about her?"
"Other than she joked about being from the future, no."
"Didn't you notice the resemblance?" Clark asked, turning back toward his wife.
"It wasn't her face, exactly. I mean she didn't really look like you. But there was something in the eyes, in her determination, in her manner. I don't know…" He stopped suddenly, finally realizing what his wife had told him. "She said she was from the future?"
"But that's impossible," Lois told him.
"Nothing's impossible, my dear," H.G. Wells told the girl sitting across from him. "We'll ultimately be successful. Utopia depends on us correcting these aberrations."
Claire bit her lower lip. "I know that my father is not a Superman like the Clark Kent here. But he is a super person. He has done a lot for so many people. He was a great teacher, someone committed to the values of truth and justice, and an incredible performer. He brought joy to…to…" she said, her voice cracking.
"We'll save him," the writer told her gently. "*And* the world you two are so much a part of."
Wells moved his bowler hat to one side and spread out the papers that he had been working on.
"What's all that?" Claire asked, coming around behind him to get a better look.
"This is a genogram and this is a time line," he explained. "The genogram delineates your family tree. As you can observe, this box shows our present Lois and Clark. Successive boxes show their son Christopher born in December of 1994; his son, Jordan Kent born in 2022; his son, Lane born in 2047; your father, Wilson Kent born in 2074 and finally you, young lady, born in 2105.
He moved over a sheet to show her the time line he had compiled, and Wells pointed to a darkened circle on the graph. "That represents 2121, when I first met you and your father," he explained. His finger followed a line backwards and stopped at another circle. "This is now—March 14, 1994."
Claire watched as Wells moved his finger forward along a different, yet parallel line to the first.
"This circle represents April 27, 1994, the day I first arrived in Smallville and met Martha Kent. I came to seek out Tempus before he had had an opportunity to alter the future. But I was too late, something had already happened, and when I returned to the future, everything had changed."
Claire closed her eyes, trying desperately to remember her life as it was before the mutation. Most people living in Dystopia, as the members of ENCORE called it, were slowly forgetting the utopian society that was. She couldn't, wouldn't allow that to happen to her.
Theatre, theatre—her passion—if she could just hold on to the lights, the costumes, the music, the scenery, the words—especially the words.
Utopia, April, 2121
The lights at the Martha Kent Theatre changed slowly to signify that the actors were exiting the reality of the cold gray dungeon and entering a world of beauty and rose- colored light as seen only through the imagination and eyes of a madman.
Cervantes/Wil: You have accused me of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man. It is true I am guilty of these charges. An idealist? Well, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing. A bad poet? This comes more painfully…still…
The Governor: (Skeptically) Have you finished your defense?
Cervantes/Wil: Ah, no, scarce begun! If you've no objection, I should like to continue in the manner I know best…in the form of a charade—
The Duke: Charade?
Cervantes/Wil: An entertainment, if you will—
The Governor: (Intrigued) Entertainment!
Cervantes/Wil: Then…with your kind permission…may I set the stage?
The Governor waved assent. The prisoners shifted position to become an audience; as Cervantes gestured to his manservant, who scurried like a well-trained stage-manger to assist. Music started softly under the actions of Cervantes, seated center, who began a makeup transformation as he spoke.
Cervantes/Wil: I shall impersonate a man…enter into my imagination and see him! His name is Alonso Quijana…a country squire, no longer young. Eyes that burn with the fire of inner vision. Being retired, he has much time for books. He studies them from morn to night, and often through the night as well. And all he reads oppresses him…fills him with indignation at man's murderous ways toward man. He broods…and broods…and broods—and finally from so much brooding his brains dry up! He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity and conceives the strangest project ever imagined…to become a knight- errant and sally forth into the world to right all wrongs. No longer shall he be plain Alonso Quijana…but a dauntless knight known as—Don Quixote de La Mancha!!!!
Smallville, Kansas Monday, March 14, 1994
"Sure, I have a copy of that," Martha told the young voice at the other end of the line. "Come on over, Anne. I'll pull it off the shelf."
Martha walked over to the appropriate bookshelf as Jinx followed her and rubbed against her legs. She removed 'Don Quixote' and carried it to the counter. Just as she set the book down, the bell over the door jingled and two people entered. One was a young girl of about sixteen, the other an older gentleman wearing clothes dated around the end of the 19th century. Being in theatre, Martha knew costumes and she was sure these were authentic.
"Can I help you?" she asked, quizzically.
"We're here to help *you*," the man in the bowler explained, stroking Jinx who had come up to him. "We meet again, Jinx," he acknowledged.
"Uncle Herbie! Get to the point."
"Hrumph," the man began, clearing his throat. "My name is H.G. Wells and this is Claire Kent, your great, great, great, great granddaughter."
"And we're going to help you enact a charade—that is, help you put on your next play," Claire explained.
Lois picked up the script from the coffee table and began to thumb through it as she sat down on the couch.
"You're not going to audition for the next play, are you?" Clark asked incredulously, sitting down next to her. "I thought we were going to take a break and just get to be an old married couple, sitting home nights getting to know each other," he continued, cupping the side of her cheek and looking into her eyes.
"As if you'll be able to sit home most nights anyway," Lois said, smiling. "Oh, speaking of plays, my American Lit. Class gave me a wedding gift. 'The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail: A Play', by Lawrence and Lee."
"Well, since most of them are in my Government Class, that explains this," he said and picked up a book off of the end table. "It's Lawrence and Lee's 'Inherit the Wind'— the play adaptation of the Scopes Monkey Trial, which we discussed in class three weeks ago—*my* present."
"I guess the students have really gotten to know us and our passion for theatre."
"Well, right now my passion is headed in a different direction," he told her as he leaned in to kiss her.
"Ready for dessert even before dinner, huh?" Lois asked smugly.
"Mmmmm," Clark replied and began nuzzling her ear.
"Don't you think I look like her?"
"I said I thought Claire Kennedy looks like you."
"No, Audrey Hepburn."
"I'm not following you," Clark said, his mind elsewhere as he continued his trail of kisses across the back of her neck. "And you're not even in babble mode," he managed to get out before resuming his journey.
"Uh…uh…in the play," she explained as she turned abruptly in an attempt to concentrate on what she was trying to tell him, and held out the script. "Your mom's doing 'Wait Until Dark'. I love that play and always thought I sort of looked like Audrey Hepburn. Although Audrey played the part in the movie and not on the stage."
"Well, Audrey," Clark said, lifting her up into his arms and moving toward the bedroom. "I don't plan on waiting till dark."
Dystopia December, 2121
Wil lay down on his cot and closed his eyes. The darkness enveloped him but sleep wouldn't come.
"Wil," a soft voice sang out.
"Karen," Wil Kent responded. "Are you…?" He jolted awake. It had been a long time since he had dreamed of his wife. It seemed like it had been a long time since he dreamed about anything.
Utopia April, 2121
Karen Kent, dressed in a wench's costume and laden with things for the table she was waiting upon, walked toward center stage. She stopped, seeing a stranger gazing at her, stricken.
Don Quixote/Wil: Dear God…it is she! Sweet lady…fair virgin…I dare not gaze full upon thy countenance lest I be blinded by beauty. But I implore thee—speak once thy name.
Aldonza/Karen Kent: (Growling) Aldonza.
Don Quixote/Wil: My lady jests.
Aldonza/Karen Kent: Aldonza!
Don Quixote/Wil (Approaching her.) The name of a kitchen- scullion…or mayhap my lady's serving-maid?
Aldonza/Karen Kent: I told you my name! Now get out of the way, or I'll—
Don Quixote/Wil: (Smiling) Did my lady think to put me to a test? Ah, sweet sovereign of my captive heart, I shall not fail thee, for I know. (Singing)
I have dreamed thee too long. Never seen thee or touched thee, But known thee with all of my heart. Half a prayer, half a song. Thou hast always been with me, Though we have been always apart.
Dulcinea…Dulcinea… I see heaven when I see thee, Dulcinea, And thy name is like a prayer an angel whispers… Dulcinea…Dulcinea?
If I reach out to thee, Do not tremble and shrink From the touch of my hand on thy hair. Let my fingers but see Thou art warm and alive, And no phantom to fade in the air.
Dulcinea…Dulcinea… I have sought thee, sung thee, Dreamed thee, Dulcinea? Now I've found thee, And the world shall know thy glory. Dulcinea…Dulcinea!
Dystopia December, 2121
In the darkness of the cell, Wil reached out. "Dulcinea," he whispered.
"Don't stop, Mommy!" the little boy implored.
"We've got to get ready," his mother explained to him. "It's getting late."
"Not yet—more please. And don't forget to skip the mushy parts."
His mother sighed and then smiled as she saw her son's bright shining eyes eagerly anticipating her next words. <The time had gone so quickly,> she thought. In another wink of an eye, he would be as romantic as…as…and then would look forward to those mushy parts. She looked at the clock on the wall and then hurriedly turned the page.
Smallville, Kansas Wednesday, March 16, 1994
Claire Kennedy walked down the street carrying a packet of posters that Martha Kent had given her to distribute. She marveled at the cars as they drove by—cars she had only seen in museums. They were…but then she saw her quarry about a block away. She altered the pace of her steps so that the timing would be right, and began taping a poster to the window of the Midtown Clothing Store on Main Street. As Claire turned to go, she purposefully bumped into Dr. Post who was about to enter the shop.
"Defacing private property, young woman?" the doctor asked her.
"No, sir," Claire responded, barring his way into the store.
"You're in my way," he argued, as Claire and the other future traveler zigzagged back and forth as if in a choreographed dance.
"Sorry, Dr. Post," Claire apologized.
He stared at her as if trying to remember something. "I'm new in town. How did you know who I am."
"Duh, small town," Claire responded.
Tempus paused. The girl standing in front of him, wearing torn jeans, a Smallville High School tee-shirt, her hair thrust back in a pony tail through a baseball cap was the epitome of 1990s teenagers, yet was familiar in several ways.
"Claire Kennedy. I'm new, too."
"Ah! The theatre!" Dr. Post exclaimed as he examined the poster. "The house of Ibsen, Moliere, and Shakespeare."
"Well, not so lofty, Dr. Post. The Smallville Players are doing one by Frederick Knott," Claire informed him.
"Oh! He wrote 'Dial M for Murder' and this one, 'Wait Until Dark'."
"Well, as Oscar Wilde said: 'I love acting. It is so much more real than life'."
"Then you should come to auditions on Sunday," Claire encouraged. "Uh, since you apparently know a lot about *good* theatre, you can help the group. I mean, after all, this is *only* Smallville, Kansas. How much can they know? I'm from Metropolis and have had some acting experience."
"Well, I've dabbled in thespian activities," he told her.
"I'm sure you were absolutely wonderful," Claire proffered. "This amateur group most assuredly needs our talent. And, since we're new in town, this will be a way to meet people. Mrs. Kent is…"
"Yes, yes," he began, and then realized he wasn't supposed to be privy to Smallville history. "I mean, who?"
"Martha Kent. She's the director, and her son and daughter- in-law are very active in the group,"
"The Kents, yes, I've heard tell of them."
Lois snuggled up to her husband as they lay in bed after making love, and Clark kissed the top of her head. "Dessert before dinner is great," she said smiling. "I wouldn't mind dessert several times a day. Especially the kind that can't make you fat."
"Well, I'm here to please," Clark said and leaned down to kiss her again. "Hey!" Clark exclaimed, looking beyond her and over at the table next to the bed. "You brought the script up here. Are you still thinking of trying out?"
"Come on, Clark. You know I have to. Can you see Cat playing an Audrey Hepburn part?"
"Well, no," Clark admitted. "She's more the Sharon Stone, 'Basic Instinct' type. Remember the scene where…"
"Ow!" Lois said, after poking Clark in the side. "No fair! This only hurts me," she said, attempting to look angry by pouting.
Clark took her hand and kissed it. "Better?"
"Mmmm, much," she said, as Clark tilted her face up and kissed her.
"So, Audrey, this would be a really big part for you to tackle, the biggest you've had with our group."
"But *you* don't have to be in it at all," Lois told him. "Dan can play my husband. He's always wanted to," she smiled, teasingly.
"Ah ha!" Clark said. "I knew you've wanted to play a love scene with Scardino."
"Well, the way his lips sort of crinkle when he…"
"Lois, I know this is only a play, but I guess I'm just too possessive, especially now," he explained, his mouth planting little kisses on her neck.
"That's okay, Clark," Lois said, inching away from him. "I know you've decided to take a break from the Players. Dan can…"
"No! No one will play your husband but me," Clark insisted, sitting up and glaring at her.
"Gotcha!" Lois exclaimed. "I knew dangling Dan in front of you would change your mind. Besides, the husband's part is really small. He's just in the beginning and a few words at the very end. In the last play, *you* had the big part and I bounced in and out. Now the roles would be reversed. That is, if your mom casts it that way."
"Mom's not stupid, Lois. You're the best actor in our group."
"You're not so bad yourself," Lois replied. "You want to go over the scene?"
"Any kisses?" he asked, his eyes focused on her lips.
"Then sure!" he replied, leaning in and kissing her quickly.
"Not now," Lois chastised him, as she picked up the script. "But soon," she explained, smiling. "Let's see, you're Sam and I'm Suzy. Sam is a photographer. The lights are off on stage because Sam is using the area as his darkroom."
"Oooh," Clark said. "Romantic," he added, and started nibbling her ear.
"Hmmm? Okay, sorry."
"Although, Suzy is blind and should be able to get around the room easily," Lois continued. "Her accident was fairly recent, and she is still getting acclimated to her disability."
"How does Sam treat her?" Clark asked, playing with a lock of Lois' hair.
"That's the whole point of the play," Lois said, trying to concentrate. "And I'm sure Martha will see it that way, too. Sam does not pamper her or coddle her," she explained, moving Clark's hand away. "In fact, he goes out of his way to push her and at times even appear to be cold to her, because he wants her to get tough and be able to handle anything that comes her way."
"I see," Clark said, understanding. "Shall we try it? And oh, when does the kiss come in?"
"Soon enough," Lois said sharply. "Now behave!"
Suzy/Lois: Hear about the murder?
"Murder? Not again," Clark said, interrupting. "Mom seems to be obsessed about plays with murders in them. This will be three in a row!"
"Well, the first was a mystery, the second a comedy and this is a thriller."
"You're reaching for an excuse," Clark told her, extending his arm around her to hold her closer as a demonstration.
"Come on, I'll give you the cue again."
Suzy/Lois: Hear about the murder?
Sam/Clark: Just two seconds…
The stage directions told Sam's character to pause, in order to wait for the light in Sam's enlarger to go on for exactly two seconds. Clark waited.
Sam/Clark: …what murder?
Suzy/Lois: They found a body this morning—somewhere near here.
Sam/Clark: Who told you?
Suzy/Lois: On the radio. I only heard the end of it. A woman from Scarsdale—or somewhere.
Sam/Clark: You making this up?
Suzy/Lois: Why should I?
Clark read the stage directions which told him to switch on the amber light. Clark leaned over and touched Lois on the nose, playfully. "Click," he said.
"Be serious, Clark."
Clark made a face, but continued.
Sam/Clark: Having a possible murder nearby is a ploy to make me stay home.
"Even though I don't need one," Clark inserted, kissing her again.
"Are we going to do this or not?"
"Do what?" Clark hinted, one of his eyebrows arching.
Lois sighed. "The scene."
Suzy/Lois: It is not a ploy!
Sam/Clark: You'd rather I didn't go?
Sam/Clark: Of course.
Suzy/Lois: Well no. I mean yes. I always want you to stay home. But not because somebody's been murdered…because of me. Need the ceiling lights?
Sam/Clark: Yes, please; it's a bit gloomy.
Lois paused a moment as the script directed so that she should move carefully toward the wall, feel around and switch on the ceiling lights but then accidentally switch off Sam's lamp.
Sam/Clark: That one I need.
Suzy/Lois: Sorry. (She switches on the bench lamp).
Sam/Clark: Now—quick check. Phone number for Police Emergency?
Suzy/Lois: Oh—just dial zero and say you're blind.
Sam/Clark: Operators get busy and don't answer.
Suzy/Lois: Oh! *That* urgent! So the murder *does* worry you.
Sam/Clark: This one you *must* know. Four four zero…one two three four.
Suzy/Lois: Wait till I get the sugar lumps.
Lois paused again while she counted in her head the time it would take to get over to the kitchen table and take some lumps of sugar out of the bowl and pick up a small sharp stick to use to mark the cubes.
Suzy/Lois: Okay. Four four owe…one two three four. It's these easy ones that fool me…so it's *four*—*not* four owe, four *not* owe four, but *four four one two three four*?
"Hold it," said Clark. "I gather this play takes place before the use of 911 for emergencies. It's a cute bit, but won't the audience find it difficult to believe?"
"Well, the program will say that the play takes place in 1964."
"I guess," Clark said. "Today there must be much improved ways that a visually impaired person handles things—what with computers, cell phones, etc., which are monitored to recall things with just a push of one button."
"I'm sure it's better now. Rod Purcell seems to handle things easily."
"Well," Clark said. "You've just met him. He had some struggles at first, but his dad and his school friends are really supportive. And, apparently unlike your Suzy, he is acclimated to his disability."
"It looks that way in class," Lois acknowledged. "The students appear to respect him."
"He's incredibly bright and doesn't use his handicap as a crutch of any kind."
"Hmmm, if I get this part, Clark," Lois began, as she put her head on her husband's chest. "Do you think Rod would agree to coach me?"
"I bet he would."
"Okay, where were we?" Lois inquired, looking back at the script.
"How about skipping to the kissing part?" Clark asked her, planting a brief kiss on her lips. He drew back and looked at her. "Yes, I know, the scene," he said reluctantly.
Sam/Clark: Then ask for the Sixth Precinct.
Suzy/Lois: Sixth Precinct. Four plus two, okay. (Rapidly) Doctor's office 924-6381. Want the Chinese laundry?
Sam/Clark: Now—my bus leaves at five and they return from…where?
Suzy/Lois: Asbury Park.
Suzy/Lois: Er…every hour on the hour.
Sam/Clark: I'll phone you as soon as I get there and again when I'm leaving. Oh—and if that doll woman phones, just say I still haven't found it.
"Wait! Doll?" Clark asked.
"Yeah, that's sort of the A-plot—three men are looking for this doll they think Sam has. He had it once—he was holding it for someone—but now it's missing. He doesn't know that there is heroin inside the doll. The B-plot is Suzy's ability to outwit all the bad guys even though she is blind and *just* a woman—remember, it's the early 60s."
"I see. Okay, go on."
Suzy/Lois: Maybe Gloria's seen the doll.
Sam/Clark: No, she hasn't. I asked her mother. But let Gloria look around for it while she is down here. It must be somewhere.
Suzy/Lois: *That* girl isn't coming here today.
Sam/Clark: *Just* to do your shopping—grocery list and five dollars by the phone.
Suzy/Lois: *Not Gloria!*
Claire placed a poster in the window of the hardware store and paused as she caught her own reflection. She took off her hat, adjusted her pony-tail and regarded herself. Yep, she could do it. She could look twelve. She could be Gloria. It's a good thing that her height hadn't really kicked in yet. She was fifteen, sixteen next month, but she was just about 5'1". She knew she would spurt soon. Her father was over 6' and her mother was 5'8". Actually, it was a blessing in disguise that she was still small, as she could play younger girls on stage. She was thirteen when she played eleven-year-old Annie and fourteen when she played eleven year old Mary.
Now she had to flip flop between playing a seventeen-year- old senior in high school and a twelve-year-old brat. Yes, she could be Gloria, the little monster who had a crush on Sam.
Lois paused and looked at her husband.
"Sam is going to be a difficult role for you, Clark. You can't jump in and try to help Suzy at all. You can't be her protector. You have to be able to stand there and watch her struggle," Lois instructed. "The struggle, the challenge, the barriers she has to overcome is what creates the character that is able to win in the end."
"I can do that," Clark insisted.
"Sure you can," Lois said, unbelievingly. "You can be callous," she said in a mocking tone. "You can refuse to help your wife when she's in need."
"I could act that way."
"Yeah, right, Clark. You can't even ignore…" she began and then stopped as she saw that faraway look in his eye. "Uh huh… Go!"
Clark spun into his spandex and flew out the window.
Lois scrunched down under the covers and read the next few lines in the script.
She looked over at the indentation on the pillow next to her and moved over so she had her head where Clark had just rested his. She breathed in his scent and stroked the pillow. How in the world had she ever slept alone before? It was only a couple of minutes and she missed her husband already—his warmth, his hands, his lips.
A whoosh interrupted her thoughts as Clark, once again wearing only his sleep shorts, climbed into bed beside her.
Lois snuggled into him. "Missed you," she said.
"A robbery of a gas station over on the interstate."
Lois smiled at him. The character of Sam would be a stretch for him. She understood the concept of tough love, but knew her husband was incapable of it. Clark had tried it during their engagement. He had broken up with her for her own good, but that hadn't lasted long. They had both been miserable and had realized that no matter what, they belonged together—supporting, nurturing, caring.
"I love you, husband," Lois said.
"And I love you, wife," Clark told her, gathering her closer to him.
"Now, let's get back to the script."
"Trust me, Clark. It will be fun."
"So what's next?"
"According to the directions Sam watches as an angry Suzy knocks a salt shaker off the table. Suzy is then supposed to stop and wait for Sam to pick it up—but he doesn't."
Suzy/Lois: Okay, then, where is it?
Sam/Clark: Not listening?
Suzy/Lois: Not listening!
Sam/Clark: Near the table.
Lois looked at the next directions and smiled. She complied by feeling circuitously for the dropped item.
"Hey!" Clark exclaimed, as Lois' hand moved seductively under the comforter. "Now who's messing around?"
"My turn to have a little diversion."
"We don't have to finish the scene," Clark told her, his voice husky. "We can…" he encouraged and stroked her lips with his thumb. He moved his hand to finger a lock of hair as he leaned down and captured her upper lip in his mouth. His tongue darted into her mouth, seeking her out.
"Pass the salt," Dr. Post told his colleague, as the two voyeurs sat in front of a closed circuit television set, watching the love scene unfold between Sam and Suzy AKA Lois and Clark. "Popcorn is so perfect with such a hackneyed and cornball love scene," he told Liz. "Now of course, if I were the hero, I'd be enjoying a Merlot in front of a large rock fireplace toasting a lascivious woman, bawdily dressed in flimsy silk barely covering the erotic locales, her arms outstretched and chained to the rock wall, her… Oh, but I digress. I'm the villain in this piece," he began, tossing a few kernels up into the air and catching them in his mouth, "and my job is to wear the black hat and to make Romeo and Juliet suffer."
"You…" Liz Lathrop began.
"Yes, I know," he told her. "I'm mixing my metaphors. Well, in a place like Smallville where the opportunities are so minute, that can't be helped," he said, watching the two embracing on the screen.
"We should be making our own opportunities," Liz suggested, half to herself.
"Well, perhaps this is where the villain accelerates things."
"I don't like that Tempus," the five-year-old said.
"I don't either, son," his father told him as he came into the room. "How far are you?" he asked his wife.
"About one-third of the way through. We could finish it tomorrow," she suggested, turning to look at her son.
"No, Mommy. No, Daddy."
"Maybe *you* should accelerate things," her husband hinted, kissing her on top of her head.
"I'll see what I can do," she murmured, smiling up at him.
Smallville, Kansas Wednesday, March 16, 1994
"Mmmmm," Lois murmured, responding to Clark's kisses. "Later…let's finish the scene," Lois smiled.
"You're a tease," Clark told her, nibbling her ear as an attempt to get her refocused on his goals.
"Sometimes. But the scene's kiss is coming up soon."
"Okay, let's get down to it," Clark agreed grudgingly, as he ran his fingers down her arm slowly.
"Clark…! The scene?"
Clark sighed, knowing that once Lois had made up her mind, he would have to comply and delay his agenda.
Sam/Clark: What's wrong with Gloria?
Suzy/Lois: Everything. She can't even close the icebox. (Still feeling around for the salt shaker) Am I anywhere near it?
"Now you really don't want me to answer that, do you, Lois?"
"Shush. Now go on!"
Sam/Clark: Yes, try twenty degrees left.
"There?" Lois taunted, unable to resist.
"Lo-is? I thought you wanted to finish the scene?"
"You're not making this easy," Clark told her.
"Since when have I been easy," Lois responded, moving her hand to stroke the side of his face. "Haven't you always insisted that I'm high maintenance?"
"But well worth it," Clark said, kissing her again.
"Come on, let's keep going," Lois said. "The next part is all about the icebox. That should cool you down."
"I hate exposition in plays, it takes so long to get to the really good parts," he said, smiling. "But, okay. On with the play."
Sam/Clark: If Gloria doesn't close the icebox—just say— 'close the icebox'.
Suzy/Lois: And if she still doesn't?
Sam/Clark: Then just say 'that's the girl—thanks'.
Suzy/Lois: What do you mean—that's the girl—thanks? It's still open.
Sam/Clark: A little trick I learned in the Marines, sweetheart—always assume that an order's been carried out. Then if she hasn't closed it already, she'll be so embarrassed…
Suzy/Lois: Gloria isn't a Marine—she doesn't embarrass that easily…I'd much rather have a dog.
Sam/Clark: Dogs can't shop at the supermarket.
Suzy/Lois: Dogs can't rearrange the furniture. That's Gloria's latest hobby. Whenever we're out, she borrows her mother's key and sneaks in here and turns everything around. I nearly broke both my legs last night.
"Oh, forgot to tell you, Clark. The first scene has the three men searching the apartment for the doll with the heroin in it, and some of the furniture is moved, including a garbage pail which Suzy is now looking for."
Suzy/Lois: Now where has she hidden the garbage pail? I've been hunting for it all morning.
Sam/Clark: (Finding it on top of the washing machine) Here…now you put it back where it belongs.
Suzy/Lois: Where was it?
Sam/Clark: On top of the washer. Where you must have put it.
Suzy/Lois: It was Gloria!
Sam/Clark: Oh come on now—take it easy on the kid. Her father's just left them again. And her mother's out looking for him. She's been battered back and forth like a sawed- off little shuttlecock. So be nice to her.
Suzy/Lois: I don't know if I dare.
Sam/Clark: Oh, speaking of the icebox, it needs defrosting.
Suzy/Lois: Defrost the icebox! Do I have to have a project every time you're away?
Sam/Clark: And if it stops raining—try walking over to my studio and back. And no cheating.
Suzy/Lois: Did I cheat last night?
Sam/Clark: How about that old lady who helped you across Sixth Avenue?
Suzy/Lois: You were watching?!
"So were we," Dr. Post echoed, as the hidden camera continued to record and dispatch the images to the two spectators.
"There's not much to watch," Liz told him. "I'm leaving," she said, getting up.
"Yeah, the lyrics ain't much," Tempus interjected. "But it has a good beat. You can dance to it. I give it a 76."
Liz opened the door and walked out of the office.
Well, he was going to have to get rid of that one as soon as his use for her was nil. He returned his attention to the screen. Well, nil was the word for that as well. Nada, zilch, nonexistent, zip, goose egg, zero, cipher, naught, blank, nothing.
If he was ever going to set his plan in motion, the newlyweds would have to do their part. He picked up the remote, turned off the set and threw the instrument at the screen. Dr. Post opened the bottom drawer of the desk and took out a small metallic object almost identical to the remote now lying discarded on the floor and pushed the button. Since watching this 20th century kettle boil wasn't helping, perhaps lighting the fire under the cauldron of a far distant time would be more self-serving and much more entertaining.
Utopia April, 2121
In the blackness of the stage right wings, the depraved man watched his hated adversary call out.
"Dulcinea," came Wil Kent's painful cry.
"There will be no Dulcinea," the evil actor said to his eighteen-year-old understudy who was standing next to him, poised to remove the cauldron from the stage.
"What?" Scott asked the older man.
Tempus adjusted his academic robe. "Just watch the pro in action and learn," Tempus told him, and as Dr. Carrasco, he entered from stage right.
Scott stared at Tempus as the actor moved on to begin his scene. Once the lights shifted toward stage left and darkness covered the stage right area, Scott dressed in his blacks, moved onto the stage and removed the cauldron and then returned to strike two crates.
He placed the props in a small alcove so they could be ready to be used again, keeping one crate for his own use. He sat on the crate to watch the rest of the scene. Something about Tempus bothered him. He knew it was not simply because he had wanted that part of the corrupt Dr. Carrasco the day that Tempus first showed up at their auditions. He just didn't like him and he knew from the moment he met him that he would never like him.
Tempus had been difficult to work with from the onset of rehearsals, but the director had loved the evilness the man could portray.
Claire wandered into the wings. She, as was Scott, had been cast in the role of an understudy—understudy to Antonia, Quixote's niece. Her other job was as costume assistant. No costume changes were required at this point, but Claire spent a great deal of time in the wings watching her father enact the role of his career.
Scott gazed at her. She was lovely. She was only fifteen, but her maturity defied chronological labels. Scott looked back at the stage. It would be wonderful if the two understudies could be called upon to act together. Both he and Claire had been part of the theatre group since they were little and had worked together before, but Claire had always played children, while he was usually cast as her rebellious teen age brother, the delivery boy or the obnoxious son of the next door neighbor. Well, that wasn't exactly true. He had gotten one lead part, but Claire had not been in that production.
The one opportunity to play Romeo to her Juliet had been denied him when he had broken his leg in a fall from a ladder. Somehow, telling people to break a leg for theatre luck wasn't in his vocabulary any more.
He glanced over at her and then pulled his attention back to the stage as he watched 'the pro' in action.
Dr. Carrasco/Tempus: Senor?
Don Quixote/Wil: Who is it crieth help of Don Quixote de La Mancha? Is there a castle beleaguered by giants? A king who lies under enchantment? An army besieged and awaiting rescue?
Dr. Carrasco/Tempus: You know me.
Don Quixote/Wil: Should a man not know his friend, Dr. Carrasco?
Tempus regarded the famed leader of the Smallville Players. Wil Kent was no friend of the actor that stood in front of him. No! Tempus was his tormentor, his antagonist, the enemy that wore the black hat, his soon to be jailer—the master of all that Tempus surveyed.
Dr. Carrasco/Tempus: Senor Quijana
Don Quixote/Wil: I should prefer that you address me properly. I am Don Quixote, knight-errant of La Mancha.
Dr. Carrasco/Tempus: Properly? You? You madman! There are no giants. No kings under enchantment. No chivalry. No knights. There have been no knights for three hundred years.
Don Quixote/Wil: So learned, yet so misinformed.
Dr. Carrasco/Tempus: These are facts.
Don Quixote/Wil: Facts are the enemy of truth.
Dr.Carrasco/Tempus: No, I'm your enemy. You have no monsters to do battle with other than me. You need to tilt your lance in my direction, not at windmills. I'm your worst nightmare.
Tempus walked over to Wil Kent and pushed him down on his knees.
From offstage, Scott, who as understudy knew all the lines and blocking, realized that Tempus was padding his part. Those last few lines were not part of the script. Several of the actors had clustered off stage to see what was going on.
Tempus looked defiantly at Wil Kent, challenging him to respond.
Wil Kent stared into the eyes of evil incarnate. During auditions, the director had selected Tempus because of his ability to radiate evilness. Now, Wil realized that perhaps this was not an act—the man appeared to *be* pure evil. Why hadn't he noticed it during rehearsals. Wil knew why— it was his own need for perfection—to have the best person in each role.
Wil raised his head. As an actor portraying Quixote, he couldn't let Carrasco gain control—at least not yet. That came later in the play. He pulled himself up from where Tempus had left him and invented the next line to get them back on script.
Don Quixote/Wil: I do battle for my lady. And for her, I would fight dragons.
Tempus grinned and returned to the script.
Dr. Carrasco/Tempus: So there's a woman!
Don Quixote/Wil: A lady! (Softening). The lady Dulcinea. Her beauty is more than human. Her quality? Perfection. She is the very meaning of woman…and all meaning woman has to man.
Tempus paused and decided to fling one more arrow as he once again departed from the script.
Dr. Carrasco/Tempus: There is no Dulcinea. There is no world of your making, no world that epitomizes justice—no world seen through the rose colored haze of goodness. After tonight it will no longer exist—she will no longer exist.
Tempus turned and strode malevolently from the stage and through the group of actors watching him, and back to the 20th century.
Smallville, Kansas Wednesday, March 16, 1994
Still in bed with the script in front of them, Clark moved Lois closer to him.
Suzy/Lois: You were watching?!
Sam/Clark: Only while you crossed Sixth. How about it, huh? Just once to the studio and back? All by yourself.
Suzy/Lois: Do I have to be the world's champion blind woman?
Suzy/Lois: How about just a little old bronze medal now and then? I'm an awfully good loser.
Clark chuckled. "That's going to be a stretch."
Lois was about to poke Clark again, but thought better of it.
Sam/Clark: Much sooner have a winner.
Clark held out his arm just above Lois.
Sam/Clark: I'm holding out for you, sweetheart.
Lois closed her eyes to get the feeling of blindness, and felt around for his hand; but, as directed, he kept moving it around just out of her reach so that she couldn't find it. Finally, she grabbed it and laughed. Suzy/Lois: Hey! You cheat! I've been there once already.
Clark smiled as he read the next stage directions. He captured her lips and kissed her. The script's instructions had indicated a brief kiss, but Clark had no intentions of complying. With no director in sight, Clark ad-libbed the rest of the scene.
That evening, Claire walked into the school library with just one remaining poster in her hand. She tacked it onto the bulletin board and went to the back of the library to meet the other members of her Don Quixote team—Keith Haley, Anne Holland and Rod Purcell.
"I guess the first thing we have to do is decide who's going to do what," Anne stated, getting down to business quickly, as Claire sat down. Anne, never a procrastinator, had called the meeting, even though the project was not due for another six weeks.
"Claire's new," Keith said to the others. "Why don't we let her choose first, so she gets something she feels the most comfortable with."
"Sounds good to me," Rod said. Anne nodded in agreement.
Claire looked at her three partners. She already knew that Keith was an actor, which made him tops in her book. Martha Kent had told her that he was not going to be at auditions on Sunday for two reasons. First of all, there was no part in this play that was right for him. Secondly he had already received the lead in the Senior play which held auditions last week. The Seniors were doing 'Godspell' and Keith would be playing Jesus.
Claire smiled to herself. She had seen 'Godspell' when it was produced the previous season by the 22nd century's Smallville Players and remembered that in the many revivals, including theirs, Jesus wore a Superman tee- shirt, something very much a part of the pop culture of her era.
*He* had played Jesus in that tee-shirt, Claire remembered as she stared at Rod Purcell—so much like her dreams of Scott. That tee-shirt stood for something and seeing Scott in it last year, she knew she was in love. She was only fifteen, her father had told her and she had so much time yet to think about things like that.
But now time seemed to have lost its continuity, its grace, its purpose. Albert Einstein said that the only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once. But now everything was happening at once. Time was folding in on itself—past, present, and future.
Dystopia, December, 2121
Another night had gone by without bringing Wil Kent the oblivion of sleep. Characters whirled around in his head— Dulcinea, Karen, Dr. Carrasco, Tempus, Claire. The reality and the play were becoming confused within him. He looked around his jail cell. Was this reality? Or had he somehow become so immersed in the play that he didn't know which was real?
"A Double Life," Wil said aloud.
Ronald Colman was Wil's favorite actor. Colman was the personification of the gentleman hero, a type that was perhaps already 'Olde World' when Colman reigned as a star in the 1930s and 40s. His idealism, integrity, and graciousness belonged to a time that has since disappeared altogether, especially now.
Wil Kent believed that he had brought back those values in his performances—an ethereal quality that took the audience back to Colman's gentler, simpler world. For such a gentle man, Ronald Colman had a core of strength, an adherence to his own code of honor—incorruptible and immovable. Wil had hoped that he, too, had conveyed that strength—that truth.
As a young actor, Wil had spent a great deal of time watching old black and white films in the Motion Picture Museum. Seen them as they were meant to be seen—up there on a large screen—not in the privacy of a person's home altered into laser enhanced, colorized holographic representation. Twenty feet high faces of his heroes. Gregory Peck in 'To Kill a Mockingbird', James Stewart in 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington', Henry Fonda in 'Twelve Angry Men', and Spencer Tracey in 'Inherit the Wind'.
Wil had watched Colman in film after film. Thinking of his own incarceration, perhaps he could now relate to 'The Prisoner of Zenda', one of Colman's swashbuckling roles. Yes, Colman could swashbuckle with the best of 'em, his comedic timing was priceless, and as a romantic star he was unsurpassed. He was saved from being too staid by a delicious wit, a twinkle in his eye that showed the audience he could laugh at himself and at others if need be. And always he shared that wistfulness—it was in his eyes, in his mannerisms, and especially in that voice. That modulated, liquid voice. His way of speaking, with the hesitations, the pauses between words, somehow conveyed his vulnerability as well as his sophistication.
But it was Colman's Oscar winning performance in 'A Double Life' that now took up Wil's thoughts. In that film, Colman chillingly portrayed an actor who so immersed himself in the role of Othello that he saw conspiracies where there were none; and in a jealous rage, killed the woman playing Desdemona—the actor's own wife.
Is that what happened? Wil arose from the cot and began his nightly pacing. Am I locked in a jail cell or in the recesses of my own mind? Has the insanity of Don Quixote become my insanity? Have I killed my Desdemona—my Dulcinea?
No! It can't be. He reached out to touch the confining elements of his prison. These cinder blocks are real. These bars are real and Karen is gone.
"She's gone," Wil whispered. He couldn't shut down his mind or his torture. A diversion—he needed a diversion.
Her favorite song from 'Man of La Mancha'. What was it now?
Little bird, little bird, In the cinnamon tree, Little bird, little bird, Do you sing for me?
Do you bring me word. Of one I know? Little bird, little bird, I love her so, Little bird, little bird, I have to know, Little bird, little bird.
Little bird, little bird, Oh have pity on me, Bring her back to me now 'Neath the cinnamon tree,
I have waited too long Without a song…
Wil stopped the recitative in his brain—how long without a song? A decade, a year, no a mere month ago…
Dystopia, November, 2121
The dozen members of ENCORE, the ENate Coalition Organized to Restore Elysium, sat in a circle on the floor of the sub-basement of the Martha Kent Theatre, where they had taken up residence since the Diaspora—since their world had suddenly and mysteriously mutated into a cold, callous, purgatory devoid of humanity.
"We have to restock our supplies," Larry, the oldest of the group and appointed leader, suggested.
"Yes, you hunter/gatherers, and we nurturers have our assigned jobs to do," Claire said, glaring at him.
"Stop it, Claire," her father told her. "We had to divide up the tasks to keep us alive," Wil argued.
"I know," she admitted.
"Well, I agree with Claire," Kia, a very vocal woman in her 20s, told the group. "Who said the men had to be the ones taking all the chances. The women are just as much a part of this, and we need to carry our weight."
"You do," Wil told her.
"Yes, we paint signs, you march. We print leaflets, you protest. We need to be out there with you—out on the firing line," Kia insisted. "You men aren't the only ones who tilt at windmills. We can see the giants as well—the monsters who try to dissuade us from our quest—those who tell us that what we have in our hearts is dead. It's not dead."
The members of the group looked at each other and then back to the young woman.
"I remember…" Kia continued, "I remember opening night when the lights glowed on our stage, and the audiences responded to the performance with a fervor that stunned even the most sanguine of us. It was a phenomenon we were to grow familiar with at each performance: a sort of electricity crackling randomly among the audience for a time, then polarizing totally toward a massive discharge of emotion. They weren't just watching our play, they were having a religious experience," she said, pausing. "And that was due to all of us—all of us together."
"Go, girl," Claire told her.
"Yeah, before the change, women were equal to men," twelve- year-old Jessica began as she joined in on the side of Claire and Kia. "Elysium believed in truth and justice— values handed down by *your* family, Wil. And just because the society around us has become medieval and barbaric, doesn't…" the precocious young girl continued, "…doesn't mean we…our group…has to lose all we previously achieved. We're here to fight this thing, not each other. We're still alive, we few. We still remember what it was like before the change," she said, looking back and forth at the two factions. We have to stay together—to keep our commitment to freedom, beauty, and our way of life."
"And a child shall lead them…" Scott said, putting his arm around his younger sister.
Jessica leaned into her brother and put her hand out to touch the emblem on his chest—the remnant's of a Superman tee-shirt.
Scott glanced down at his little sister and then looked up to see Claire smiling at him from across the group.
Smallville, Kansas Wednesday, March 16, 1994
Claire looked around again at this group—a study group. It was far from the band of freedom fighters she had left a few days ago. A few days…was that what it was? Time made no sense now. But time was all she had.
Continuing to look at the three young people gathered around the table, Claire assessed them. She was going to need an ally and she had to figure out who she could really trust.
Anne Holland was obviously a very organized, intelligent and creative student. She wrote for the school newspaper, and was senior class treasurer. She was also captain of the girl's soccer team.
Rod Purcell was an incredibly popular student. He had been elected senior class president; but the vice-president, Tom Mock, had been acting in his place while Rod was in Switzerland. Now that he was back, Rod quickly assumed the reins of the presidency and had a lot of plans for the last three months of their high school careers.
Claire, being an overachiever, was very happy with the three students who had been selected to be in the group. Being new really had its advantages, resulting in Miss Lane asking Claire which piece of literature she wanted to research instead of assigning it. Claire had, without a second of hesitation, selected Don Quixote. Then Miss Lane chose the three students to join her.
"Well," Claire said. "I love this story. I've read the book a couple of times and 'Man of La Mancha' is my favorite musical. We did it in the community theatre group that my parents were a part of…when…when I was younger. My father played Quixote and my mother was Aldonza."
"Wow!" Keith said. "Have you been on stage?"
"Yep, many times. And yes, Keith," she said smiling at him. "Mrs. Kent has already recruited me for the Smallville Players. I'll be auditioning on Sunday."
"Too bad you weren't here earlier. You could have auditioned for the senior play," Keith told her.
"That's okay. I think I'll really enjoy being in a community theatre again. And I hear that this is a fine one."
"So," Anne insisted. "Can we get back to our assignment?"
"Sure," Claire told her. "I guess I'd like to do the comparison of Cervantes' view of knighthood to Twain's view."
"Whew," Keith said. "Glad you took that one. I think that would be the hardest part."
Keith paused "Can I deliver the biographical information on Cervantes, the easy job? I really don't want to *not* carry my load, but playing Jesus is going to take a lot out of me and I don't want to promise something I can't fulfill."
"Would it be all right with you, Rod, if I do the summary of the book?" Anne asked.
"Sure," Rod said. "I've read both books before, so contrasting the writing styles won't be that difficult."
"Well, that was easy enough," Anne told them. "Claire and Rod have read the book so that leaves you and me, Keith. Do you know the story of Don Quixote, Keith?"
"I've seen the movie of 'Man of La Mancha' and know, I guess, what most people know— without reading the book, that is—that Quixote was crazy and he fought windmills."
"Oh, it's so much more than that," Claire insisted. "Don Quixote has a nobility. He fights for truth and justice. He is childlike—ingenuous. He is endlessly curious about human behavior and about man's slippery slope toward self- destruction. He shows us that a little bit of madness is necessary to face life and that the goals of one's life is a quest."
Utopia April, 2121
A special amber gelled light shone down on Don Quixote who was kneeling just left of center stage. He looked up toward the sky and in a prayer-like tone laid out the rules for his own life—for his quest.
Don Quixote/Wil: Call nothing thy own except thy soul. Love not what thou art, but only what thou may become. Do not pursue pleasure, for thou may have the misfortune to overtake it. Look always forward; in last year's nest there are no birds this year. (He closes his eyes)
In the wings, Claire placed a shawl upon her mother's shoulders. Karen Kent kissed her daughter's cheek and then, in the role of Aldonza, entered the courtyard en route to a rendezvous with one of the muleteers. She stopped, watching Don Quixote and listened.
Don Quixote/Wil: Be just to all men. Be courteous to all women. Live in the vision of that one for whom great deeds are done…she that is called Dulcinea.
Aldonza/Karen: Why do you call me that?
Don Quixote/Wil: (He opens his eyes) My lady?
Aldonza/Karen: Oh, get up from there. Get up! (Don Quixote rises worshipfully) Why do you call me by that name?
Don Quixote/Wil: Because it is thine.
Aldonza/Karen: My name is Aldonza!
Don Quixote/Wil: (Shakes his head respectfully) I know thee, lady.
Aldonza/Karen: My name is Aldonza and I think you know me not.
Don Quixote/Wil: All my years I have known thee. Thy virtue. Thy nobility of spirit.
In the wings, Claire Kent watched her parents. She loved them so much. They were the heart and soul of the Smallville Players. They were dedicated to using the medium of theatre to impart a vision of man's commitment to man— to teach the audience all about love, truth and justice.
Aldonza/Karen: Why do you do these things?
Don Quixote/Wil: What things, my lady?
Aldonza/Karen: These ridiculous…the things you do!
Don Quixote/Wil: I hope to add some measure of grace to the world.
Aldonza/Karen: The world's a dung heap and we are the maggots that crawl on it!
Don Quixote/Wil: My lady knows better in her heart.
Aldonza/Karen: What's in my heart will get me halfway to hell. And you, Senor Don Quixote—you're going to take such a beating!
Don Quixote/Wil: Whether I win or lose does not matter.
Aldonza/Karen: What does?
Don Quixote/Wil: Only that I follow the quest.
Claire moved closer to the corner of the proscenium and kneeled down. This was one of her favorite parts of the play and if she sat on the floor between the curtain leg and proscenium, she would be only three feet away from her father, yet the audience could not see her. There was something in his eyes that Claire had not seen before. He was looking at his wife with concern.
Wil closed his eyes for just a brief second. *The song* was next and he had to put everything into it. It was the essence of the production—what the theatre group was trying to get the audience to feel and to believe in.
But what had Tempus meant when he said…? No, it was nothing, just an actor going up on his lines, reaching for something to say.
Claire stared at her father. No, what had flickered briefly in his eyes was now gone.
Wil turned his attention to Karen.
Aldonza/Karen: What does it mean—quest?
Don Quixote/Wil: The mission of each true knight…his duty—nay his privilege! (He sings)
To dream the impossible dream, To fight the unbeatable foe, To bear with unbearable sorrow, To run where the brave dare not go.
To right the unrightable wrong, To love, pure and chaste, from afar, To try, when your arms are too weary, To reach the unreachable star!
This is my Quest, to follow that star, No matter how hopeless, no matter how far, To fight for the right without question or pause, To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause!
And I know, if I'll only be true to this glorious quest, That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I'm laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this, That one man, scorned and covered with scars, Still strove, with his last ounce of courage, To reach the unreachable stars!
The audience at the Martha Kent Theatre, on that evening in April of 2121, all rose to their feet as if one person; and sounds of bravo echoed throughout the auditorium.
Claire wiped the tears from her eyes and beamed with pride as her father and mother basked in the warmth of the love that flowed from both sides of the footlights.
"Mommy?" the little boy asked, worried, as he climbed up on her lap. "You're crying."
"I always cry at this part. Remember?"
Smallville, Kansas Wednesday, March 16, 1994
Keith and Anne looked at each other then at Claire. "Are you all right?" Rod asked her, realizing by the catch in her voice that she was close to tears, if not crying already.
"Yes," Claire insisted. "I'm fine. We've got to get started. We don't have a lot of time."
"We've plenty of time," Anne told her.
"Miguel Cervantes said," Claire told the group, "'There is a time for some things, and a time for all things; a time for great things, and a time for small things.' This *is*…" she emphasized, "…the time for great things."
Utopia April, 2121
Back on the stage of the Martha Kent Theatre, the metal dungeon stairs, painted to look rusty, began their slow and halting descent as the chains clanged together, finally looping around the winch.
Cervantes/Wil: (Uncertainly) That sound…?
The Governor: The Men of the Inquisition.
Cervantes/Wil: What does it mean?
Prisoner #1: They're coming to fetch someone.
Prisoner #2: They'll haul him off—put the question to him.
Prisoner #3: Next thing he knows—he's burning!
Cervantes/Wil: Are they coming for me?
The Duke: Very possibly. What, Cervantes? Not afraid?
Cervantes shook his head dumbly.
The Duke: Where's your courage? Is that in your imagination, too?
Cervantes retreated away with The Duke following inexorably.
The Duke: No escape, Cervantes. This *is* happening. Not to your brave man of La Mancha, but to you. Quick, Cervantes— call upon him. Let him shield you. Let him save you, if he can, from that!
The Duke pointed dramatically toward side of the dungeon which seemingly held the only entrance and exit.
On the stairway the men of the Inquisition appeared. They were robed, hooded, frightening in aspect. Cervantes, paralyzed with fear, only his eyes moving as the two somewhat sunken orbs followed the Inquisitors as they descended into the vault. As the formidable jailers approached Cervantes, the guards paused menacingly, then turned abuptly to open a trap in the floor and drag out a different prisoner. They hauled the enslaved captive up the stairs while the terrified man yelled and struggled. Cervantes sank down on a bench, shaken.
The Governor brought a goatskin of wine to Cervantes, who took it with trembling hands and drank deeply.
The Governor: Better?
Cervantes/Wil: (Faintly) Thank you…
The Governor: Good, let's get on with your defense!
Cervantes/Wil: If I might rest a moment…
The Duke: (With tolerant contempt) This La Mancha—what is it like?
The Governor: An empty place. Great wide plains.
Prisoner: A desert.
The Governor: A wasteland.
Dystopia December, 2121
The sun came up, yet it was still bleak both within and without the jail cell. Wil Kent walked slowly over to the window. It was too high to look out. If he only had the power to fly—fly? If he had his ancestor's powers, he could tear apart the cell and leave.
He turned and pulled a wooden stool toward the window and stepped upon it. He looked out… Nothing. There was a wide expanse of barren earth—no trees, no grass, no flowers—not like the… the world he… But he was forgetting… No, he couldn't let himself forget the Utopia—the Elysium that his family had helped create. It had been a mecca for the arts; and through the arts, a vision of truth and justice.
Now it had become a wasteland, a shadow of the world he had known. It had metamorphosed from a place of beauty and light to one of desolation and darkness—a void so empty of all he believed in, all he treasured, all he loved.
He heard a sound, a vulture flying by searching, searching. Then another sound, this time not animal—a metallic sound far away. A cell door was opening—not his—perhaps the door to the courtyard that led to the row of cells.
The sounds came closer. Trudging feet, jangling keys once again, whispers.
Several men appeared in front of his cell. They were all dressed in long black robes, their arms folded within the opposite sleeve, hoods covering their heads. He had seen these men before or men like these—somewhere before. Why was it getting harder to remember? Harder to hold on to that dream? He had to remember. Without that memory, he was lost. He had to force himself to remember lights, music, words… Was he going crazy? Crazy? He had been there—not crazy but…but…
Utopia, April, 2121
The Duke: La Mancha apparently grows lunatics.
Cervantes/Wil: I would say, rather…men of illusion.
The Duke: Much the same. Why are you poets so fascinated with madmen?
Cervantes/Wil: I suppose…we have much in common.
The Duke: You both turn your backs on life.
Cervantes/Wil: We both select from life what pleases us.
The Duke: A man must come to terms with life as it is!
Cervantes/Wil: I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is. Pain, misery, hunger…cruelty beyond belief. I have heard the singing from taverns and the moans from bundles of filth on the streets. I have been a soldier and seen my comrades fall in battle…or die more slowly under the lash. I have held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no gallant last words…only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question: 'Why?' I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived.
Claire stood in the wings beside her mother who was waiting for her next entrance, their arms around each other. Silently, they were acknowledging the power that Claire's father and Karen's husband was holding over the audience. The soul of the actor and the souls of the audience were joining as they all moved from the reality that was the dungeon, to the irrationality, yet singular truth of the madness of Quixote.
Quixote/Wil: When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams—this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be…
Smallville, Kansas Friday, March 18, 1994
Clark looked at his government class and picked up a book. "On June 8, 1968, Ted Kennedy gave the following eulogy for his fallen brother, Robert," he began. Clark opened the book, flipped a few pages and read:
"…Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the thirty-two-year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal."
Clark perched on the edge of his desk and continued.
"These people moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance…"
Claire stared at her teacher as he continued reading. Clark Kent was exactly as depicted in all of the history books. Imagine a history teacher being written up in history books. But he was so much more than that. Clark Kent was a hero, but not because he was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive or able to bend steel in his bare hands. He wasn't a hero because he flew around in tights and a cape and foiled the bad guys and rescued those in need. He was a hero because he stood up for what he believed. Although it was the acts of Superman and Lois Lane that founded the Utopia she lived in, it was the spirit of Clark Kent and Lois Lane who created its core values.
Clark stood up and began walking up and down the aisles of his classroom.
Claire refocused on what their teacher was reading.
"The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.
"Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."
Dystopia November, 2121
"It's the only way we can live," Wil said to the members of the underground movement known as ENCORE.
"Yes," Kia agreed. "We *have* to put on the play again. Even though we will be arrested, we have to do it."
Kia looked around at her fellow actors. "Remember Augusto Boal and his book 'Theatre of the Oppressed' where he described a new way of understanding and using theatre. In it," the inflamed woman continued, "he rejected the classical notions of theatre in which the audience's cathartic experiences immobilized them and subjected them to the status quo. Instead…instead…" she said, forcing back the tears, "he urged oppressed people to become actors instead of spectators, to create solutions by using theatre as a tool—to take solutions rehearsed on stage to political and legal chambers by seeking the creation of laws that will benefit marginalized people who have little to no political representation."
Larry shook his head. "Of course, Boal's ideas rouse us to action. But in this world?" he pointed out, as he glanced around at the theatre which lay in ruins around him. "Perhaps the pursuit of art in this world of massive economic, social and legal inequality is simply privileged playing and bemusement? Perhaps art has no value, but as marketable, profitable entertainment? And now it has come to be seen as even less—as not worthy of this world at all."
"Art and specifically theatre can change this world, any world." Kia insisted.
"A world without choice, a world without beauty, a world without truth is not *our* world," Claire told the group.
"We have to stand up to them," Scott said, moving over to take Claire's hand. "By acting out the parable, we let the people know that they don't have to live under oppression."
Smallville, Kansas Friday, March 18, 1994
Clark looked around at his class as he made his way to the front of the class, and then, although still holding the book, spoke from memory.
"…This is the way he lived. My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
"Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.
"As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:
"Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."
Dystopia November, 2121
The members of ENCORE held hands and sang the last four lines of 'The Impossible Dream'.
The sun was setting and the orange hues began casting long shadows on the Smallville Players of 2121. As the dark of night enveloped them, several men broke into their hide- out, grabbed the activists, bound their hands and led them away.
Smallville, Kansas Saturday, March 19, 1994
Jonathan Kent was up on the catwalk adjusting the lights. Two fresnels needed to be gelled again, and one of the elipsoidals' barn doors needed to be pulled in.
"Do you need some help," a voice yelled out.
Jonathan looked down from above to see a girl staring up at him.
"I'm Claire Kennedy," she told him. "Your wife told me you'd be here."
Jonathan entered the cherry picker and pushed a button. The machine whirred and the box moved down, bringing Jonathan from forty-five feet up to stage level. He stepped out and looked at her, and then glanced around before he spoke.
"You're the one that H.G. Wells, the writer who supposedly died in 1946, brought with him, right?" he asked incredulously, taking off his work gloves. "I'm still not sure that I believe in…"
"Please believe, Mr. Kent. We need you to."
"Martha needs to believe. I know that," he said putting his gloves on a stool nearby. "She wants to be a grandmother and she needs to know that you're part of her family. Family is so important to her."
"Well, you have a son from Krypton who flies. That was a hard pill to swallow for some people in your time. Is it so hard to believe that I'm his great, great, great granddaughter come here from the year 2121?"
"And your world has changed because of something Dr. Post is going to do in the next month or so," Jonathan summed up.
Jonathan looked at her. Something in her eyes…
"Please help us."
"What do you need me to do?"
"You can employ this diagram and assist me to construct an alternative time device," Wells said as he walked down the aisle of the auditorium. "It will take some time to gather the needed commodities, but we are equal to the task and will accomplish this."
"Clark can help…"
"No, I consider it ill-advised that Lois and Clark should informed quite…quite yet," the writer cautioned. "When I arrived once before, in April of 1994."
"April?" Jonathan questioned. "It's only March now."
"Time travel is not linear, Mr. Kent. It's chaotic at best. Be that as it may, when I was here, Dr. Post's depravity was already at work. His vile undertaking had consequences of cataclysmic proportion—not the least of which was to alter the genetic characteristics of Lois' unborn child."
"Lois is pregnant?"
"Not yet, but very soon. And we must prevent that dastardly villain from destroying the future," he said, taking out his pocket watch and looking at it. "Now I'm here on time. We have an interval of space now provided us to strategize and put this blueprint into action. But before, before…" he ruminated, sadly. "I was too late. The last time I…"
Smallville, Kansas Wednesday, April 27, 1994
Martha Kent had gotten to the bookstore quite early that morning. Something told her that it was going to be an eventful day and she had much to do. She hadn't even had a chance to unpack her last shipment of books and shelve them.
Jinx number five, relaxed now in his new home, curled up beside Martha who had squatted down on the floor to begin her work.
Martha opened the box and began to take out the books one by one. This was one of her favorite parts about owning a bookstore—the anticipation as she touched each book and perused the titles that would soon open a child's eyes to the wonder of the world around him, or bring back bittersweet memories to an older person's life, or challenge the opinions and beliefs of a stagnant society to see the options that creativity could invoke.
This shipment was no exception. She gazed at the book titles and thought back on the events of the last few months: Chekov's 'The Cherry Orchard', Hawthorne's 'The House of the Seven Gables', and H.G. Wells' 'The War of the Worlds'.
Martha opened the last book and read a quotation by H.G. Wells on the inside cover of the book jacket. "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."
The bell over the door tinkled and Martha looked up surprised. She hadn't thought she had unlocked the door.
There in front of her stood a diminutive man in a dated suit, and bowler hat. Jinx scooted over and rubbed against the legs of the visitor, welcoming him. The stranger leaned down and stroked the cat, then walked over to the window and opened the curtains to let the spring sunshine in and, smiling, turned to cross toward Martha.
"Mrs. Kent," the man said. "I see you've been reading my book."
"Yes, Mrs. Kent. I'm H. G. Wells and I've come from the future to stop Dr. Post from…"
"Oh, Dr. Post!" Martha exclaimed. "He's a darn nice guy," she finished, apparently now totally unconcerned about the man from the future who had appeared suddenly in her bookstore.
"A darn nice…" Wells began and looked over onto the counter where an amber vial labeled, 'Take three a day for arthritic inflammation — Dr. Tim Post', stood next to a carafe of water and a recently used glass.
Martha got up from her position amidst the books and looked at the worried man. "Can I help you find a particular book?" she asked, dazedly and oblivious to Wells' prior comments.
The diminutive man took out his pocket watch and stared at the dial. "Too late, too late…" Wells intoned, and scurried out the door as if he were the white rabbit.
Utopia April, 2121
On stage of the Martha Kent Theatre, the Smallville Players were reaching the climax of their last performance of 'Man of La Mancha'.
Aldonza was backing away from the gang of muleteers. As she moved, a pain shot through Karen Kent's body. Something was wrong. She was only four months pregnant, barely showing; but in the flowing, yet tattered, costume she wore, the audience was unaware of the wonderful condition she was in. Karen and Wil had been surprised when at age 47 and 44, they found they were expecting another child.
Karen clutched her abdomen, and took a deep breath. Her important scene was coming up. She had to get through this.
The muleteers pushed Aldonza to the ground and ran out.
Aldonza crawled toward a pail of water and putting in a cloth, wet it, and then washed her face. The cool water felt good on Karen's brow. The pain began to subside somewhat. She bit her lower lip. <Just let me make it. I have to!!> she thought, looking into the wings and seeing her husband standing there.
A shot of concern flashed in his eyes as he awaited his entrance.
Karen took another breath.
Innkeeper: (Horrified at Aldonza's bruises and her tattered rags) Aldonza! What happened?
Aldonza/Karen: (Seeing Quixote enter) Ask him.
Don Quixote/Wil: I shall punish them that did this crime.
Aldonza/Karen: Crime! You know the worst crime of all? Being born. For that you get punished your whole life!
Don Quixote/Wil: Dulcinea—
Aldonza/Karen: Enough of that! Get yourself to a madhouse. Rave about nobility where no one can hear!
Don Quixote/Wil: My lady—
Aldonza/Karen: (Passionately) I am not your lady! I am not any kind of a lady! (Singing)
I was spawned in a ditch by a mother who left me there Naked and cold and too hungry to cry; I never blamed her, I'm sure she left hoping That I'd have the good sense to die!
Then, of course, there's my father—I'm told that young ladies Can point to their father with maidenly pride; Mine was some regiment here for an hour, I can't even tell you which side!
So of course I became, as befitted my delicate birth, The most casual bride of the murdering scum of the earth!
Don Quixote/Wil: And still thou art my lady.
Aldonza/Karen: And still he torments me! Lady! How should I be a lady? (She rises to her knees and sings)
For a lady has modest and maidenly airs And a virtue I somehow suspect that I lack; It's hard to remember those maidenly airs In a stable laid flat on your back.
Aldonza, still on her knees, moved closer to Quixote.
Won't you look at me, look at me, God, won't you look at me, Look at the kitchen slut reeking of sweat! Born on a dung heap to die on a dung heap, A strumpet men use and forget!
If you feel that you see me not quite at my virginal best, Cross my palm with a coin and I'll willingly show you the rest.
Don Quixote/Wil: (Kneeling down across from her and saying tenderly) Never deny, thou art Dulcinea.
Aldonza/Karen: (Standing up and, even more frantically, walking away two steps and then turning back to face him.) Take the clouds from your eyes and see me as I really am! (Singing)
You have shown me the sky, but what good is the sky To a creature who'll never do better than crawl? Of all the cruel bastards who've badgered and battered me, You are the cruelest of all!
Can't you see what your gentle insanities do to me? Rob me of anger and give me despair! Blows and abuse I can take and give back again, Tenderness I cannot bear!
So please torture me now with your 'Sweet Dulceneas' no more! I am no one! I'm nothing! I'm only Aldonza the whore!
Karen clenched her fists and sank to the floor.
Wil watched her and although the direction called for her to collapse, this was one line too early.
Don Quixote/Wil: (Crawling toward her) Now and forever thou art my lady Dulcinea!
At this point, Aldonza was to scream out 'Nooooo!!!!'. There was a scream, but it came from Wil's lips.
Smallville, Kansas Wednesday, April 27, 1994
H.G. Wells knocked on the door of Lois and Clark's home. He looked down at his watch. He knew he was late—but maybe there was a chance.
Clark opened the door. The little man pushed his way in. "I've no time to explain. Where's Miss Lane, errr, Mrs. Kent?"
Not knowing why, but sensing the alarm in the man's eyes, Clark allowed him in. "She's upstairs. What is it?"
"She hasn't…she hasn't…"
The sound of Lois' body hitting the floor, brought the two men up the stairs. Using super speed, Clark arrived before the older man.
"Nooooo!" Clark shouted and knelt beside her.
Alongside Lois' outstretched hand was the amber bottle that read: Take one a day with breakfast. Dr. Tim Post.
"But Uncle Herbie is in time—*this* time, right?" the little boy, always a fount of questions, asked. "Nothing bad happens to her, right?"
"You know the answer," his mother told him.
"Yes," he said, pouting. "But sometimes maybe it will come out different."
The young woman smiled at him. "You're just like your father," she told him as she saw her husband walking in with a load of firewood for the fireplace. "And," she whispered, "I love you both."
"Keep reading, Mommy," her son said, dodging the kiss she tried to plant on his cheek.
Smallville, Kansas Sunday, March 20, 1994
Once again, Martha was preparing a circle of chairs to be used during an audition. But this time, Claire was helping her place scripts on each of the seats. Martha watched the girl carefully, and shook her head. Her great, great, great…well whatever number of greats…granddaughter. Could it be possible? But looking at the fifteen-year-old, she noticed something—a grace, a defiance, a genuineness— a promise of the future and a reminder of the past—a reminder of a young man searching for his own truths.
Clark had been a gift, the most remarkable of gifts. And, according to H.G. Wells and the young girl moving between the chairs, that gift was going to create a new world— unless stopped by Dr. Post. Martha didn't need Clark to be a great man, although he was. She wanted him to be and do what was in his heart. She would have loved him if he had been a grocery clerk, a gas-station attendant or an unemployed actor. But he had become something great—a teacher imparting understanding, and the man who saved the world on an almost daily basis. Martha knew that no matter her incredulity, she had to believe Claire and be strong enough to help save Lois and Clark.
Martha picked up her clipboard. This audition was going to be different—as if any of her auditions seemed to be routine anymore. So much had happened since the beginning of this season's presentations. How could she ever believe that any audition would be mundane again?
Let's see, an audition that introduced the wonders of Lois Lane to her son and his family, a forced presentation by an evil and ruthless man that provided a juxtaposition between reality, or their view of it, and the stage. A resurrected corpse auditioning, a supposed murderer trying out for the role of a murderer, and now time travelers! What else?
Liz Lathrop paused from her work and reflected. In the past few weeks, her life had been ripped apart at the seams. She had finally, after years of searching, found her biological mother—a woman who was upstairs in this very hospital in a coma—a woman who had so little time left.
Liz had been informed that she had had a twin brother—a powerful man by the name of Lex Luthor, whose life had been cut short by that self-same woman who now lay almost lifeless, attached to several machines. Liz's anger mounted. Although she had loved her adoptive mother, Rebecca, her growing up years had been hell. Brian Lathrop—a man she couldn't bear to connect with the word father— had treated her like a leper, a pariah he wanted nothing to do with. He viewed her deformity as a punishment of some sort from God and Liz as the anti-Christ.
As the years went by and he and her mother were unable to have children of their own, Brian had vilified her. He used her as the scapegoat and the reason why he had not been a success—why their family had been relegated to the 'wrong' side of the tracks and why he had never been able to cash in on that elusive pot of gold he was always trying to find.
Well, she—Brian Lathrop's little crippled adopted daughter—had found that pot of gold and *she* was going to cash in on it!
Liz went back to her work and then looked up quickly from the small spinning centrifuge that contained a minute sample of the strange red crystals as she heard the door to the basement lab open.
The man from the future in his guise of Dr. Tim Post entered the dank, secluded room. "A bit musty for my taste," he commented, as he removed his sunglasses. "But workable," he said, as he scanned the room. "So, darlin'," he continued, slipping the shades into the pocket of his white coat. "How *is* the work coming?"
"Slowly," Dr. Lathrop explained.
"That response is unacceptable," he said to her. "Although, as the great philosopher, Mick Jagger said, 'Time is on my side, yes it is', I'm an avidly impatient man."
"Well, that's why I'm spending hours in here on a Sunday. But we do have time," Liz insisted. "Mrs. Kent hasn't been impregnated as yet," she reminded him.
"Ha! So, the man of…," he paused, realizing he almost played his ace in the hole, "passion, of decency…of uprightness hasn't been able to…to…"
"And this pleases you?"
"Duh! I do so love irony," Tempus sneered.
"Why don't you just eradicate one of them?" Liz asked. "Wouldn't that be easier?"
"Easier, perhaps—but not quite as much fun. And I must have my fun. This is a profusely more ingeniously devised and insidious plan," he assured her, smiling evilly. "I believe that the Kents conceiving a child who is apathetic, dispassionate, and phlegmatic—would be the irony to end all ironies. And then were their heir to go on and sire listless, lethargic, languid little ones—ooh, the synonyms go on ad infinitum."
"Ad nauseam, you mean," Liz injected.
Tempus walked over to where Lex's twin sat and put his hand under her chin, jerking her to look at him. "Don't spar with me! It would be folly on your part! And," he added, removing his hand to reach for his sunglasses, "speaking of parts," he continued as he put on his glasses and turned toward the door, "there's a role I have to see about."
Lois and Claire faced Martha with the scripts in their hands.
"All right," Martha began. "Claire, you're Gloria—a young girl who lives upstairs from Suzy and Sam, who are the recently married couple who rent the basement apartment from your mother. You're sort of a brat and you aren't very nice to Suzy because you have a crush on Sam. You are coming into the apartment to put back the doll you stole earlier."
Claire smiled over at Lois. "Okay," she said.
"And Lois," Martha said, turning to her daughter-in-law. "You're character's nerves are somewhat frayed. Suzy has been blind for eighteen months due to an automobile accident and her husband is forever pushing her to become as independent as possible—a sort of tough love concept," she explained.
Lois smiled to herself. Martha saw the play the same way she did. Lois knew that her mother-in-law/director would understand the characters and see their relationship vividly.
"You go to school, studying Braille and mobility; and every day Sam gives you some kind of project to do on your own," Martha continued. "You're tired, irritable; and, to top it off, there has been a murder in the neighborhood and several men have already invaded your house saying that they're the police or interested parties. They are hinting that your husband has had some kind of an affair and as a result has had something to do with the murder," she explained. "And here comes little Gloria sneaking into the apartment as she does on occasion just to taunt you."
Lois beamed at Claire. "Ready?" she asked.
"Uh huh," Claire responded.
Suzy/Lois: Who is that…Mike?
Gloria/Claire: Oh, hello, Suzy.
Suzy/Lois: (Startled) Oh! It's you, Gloria. Don't *do* that to me! How did you get in here?
Gloria/Claire: I borrowed Mother's key. Because when I got upstairs, I found I'd left a stick of butter in the bottom of the bag…
Suzy/Lois: (Putting out her hand) Thank you, honey.
Gloria/Claire: It's already in the icebox. I closed the door. You can pay me tomorrow if you like. It came to four seventy-two, but you owe me thirty-five cents from last time—so if I give you thirteen…
Suzy/Lois: Don't! No more numbers, please, I'm not a computer. Just call it quits— O.K.?
Gloria/Claire: Thanks. Bye-bye, then. (Gloria pauses) It's none of my business but that man who was in here with Sam's friend…
Suzy/Lois: That was a Mr. Roat…yes?… What about him?
Gloria/Claire: Is he a detective?
Suzy/Lois: (Very interested) Why?…What makes you think he is?
Gloria/Claire: Because of the lady who was murdered last night—that's all.
"Okay ladies, I want to stop you here. It's at this point that Suzy begins to use the psychology that Sam suggests to her earlier in the play—being positive with Gloria. In fact, it's right now that Suzy brings Gloria in as her ally," Martha explained. "Gloria realizes that she is being trusted, which is something new for her, and she begins to work with Suzy instead of against her. Now just follow the script's directions as to movement, and let's see what you can do with it.
The stage directions told Suzy to get a kitchen stool. Lois reached out into the air and felt around and finally pulled over one of the chairs.
Suzy/Lois: Look, honey, if you stand on this…can you see through the window?
Gloria/Claire: (Stepping up) I think so.
Suzy/Lois: There's a police car outside… You see it?
Suzy/Lois: Look carefully—are you sure?
Claire mimed looking through venetian blinds.
Gloria/Claire: No police car.
Suzy/Lois: It must have gone. There was one there a few minutes ago…can you see a policeman? …*Anywhere?*
Suzy/Lois: Or *anyone* who might be watching this house?
Gloria/Claire: Don't think so. Not many people around. It's been raining. Can I get down now?
Suzy/Lois: Yes, of course… Oh wait a minute. When we first moved in here—Sam used to make his phone calls from a phone booth somewhere out there. I think it was near some traffic lights. Can you see a phone booth from the window?
Claire pantomimed looking harder by going up on tiptoes and straining.
Gloria/Claire: Yes, there's one by the parking lot at the end of the street.
Suzy/Lois: Is there—a car parked anywhere near the phone booth?
Gloria/Claire: One of those Volkswagen buses…it's right beside it.
Suzy/Lois: Anyone in it?
Gloria/Claire: I can't see.
"I…can't…see!" Rod Purcell told his father slowly and deliberately, emphasizing each word. "And I will *never* be able to see. Can't we just accept it?"
"*No!*" his father shouted. "I will never accept it."
There was a knock at Dr. Purcell's office door.
"He's here," Rod's father told his son, getting up to let the guest in. "If anyone can help you, he can."
"He's flown all this way and arrived here on a Sunday for the sole purpose of examining you. You'll comply!"
Rod shook his head sadly. Years of searching, years of chasing after something that just seemed out of reach. He knew that his father blamed himself for…for… Rod had tried to follow his father's wishes, but he had had enough.
Dr. Purcell opened the door to let the renowned doctor in. "This is my son," the hopeful father said to the specialist. Rod, this is Dr. Leit."
Dystopia November, 2121
Someone removed the blindfold from around the new prisoner's face and shoved him into a cell. Before he opened his eyes, Wil Kent knew where he was. He had heard the hollow clang of the door as it was opened, and the air he inhaled was no longer pure, but thick and putrid—he was in prison.
Wil opened his eyes slowly and blinked several times while he adjusted to the light, as minimal as it was.
He scanned the area. The bare rock walls, the high window covered by an iron grate, the straw covered cot was reminiscent of the way the set designer had constructed his Spanish dungeon. But no longer in a play, he was confronted with an authenticity he could not refute. Wil turned and saw several of his compatriots being dragged off in different directions. Two guards unlocked the shackles from Wil's hands and feet and moved out of the cell.
Wil rubbed his wrists, grateful at least that the manacles that symbolized the cessation of his freedom had been removed. He looked around again, trying to ascertain a mode and method of escape and then turned to watch the guard as the tall gaunt man lifted a large set of keys from his leather belt and locked Wil inside.
"You'll be…" the guard began.
"Where's my daughter?" Wil questioned angrily.
The guard looked left and then right. "She's run off—got clean away."
Wil sank down on the dirt floor of his cell. "Thank you," he whispered in prayer. "Thank you for that, at least," he said louder with a glimpse of the anger that was locked up inside him, just as he, himself, was locked up in a prison of the new order's making. Wil took a deep breath and centered himself. He couldn't let his anger take over. "Please, wherever she is, please—please keep her safe," he said gently.
Smallville, Kansas Sunday, March 20, 1994
Claire jumped off the chair.
Suzy/Lois: How would you like to do something that's difficult—and terribly dangerous?
Suzy/Lois: Can you see that phone booth—from upstairs?
Gloria/Claire: From Mother's bedroom—I think.
Suzy/Lois: Write down our phone number.
Gloria/Claire: I know it.
Suzy/Lois: Good. Now listen very carefully—this is difficult…go upstairs and watch that phone booth and don't take your eyes off it. Not for a second! Now, if *anyone* from the Volkswagen goes in and makes a phone call—phone me the moment he comes out…do you understand?
Gloria/Claire: (As if it was nothing.) Sure—I understand.
Suzy/Lois: Only the Volkswagen people—and *only* after they come *out* of the phone booth.
Gloria/Claire: I'm *not* stupid.
Suzy/Lois: I know, honey. I'm just…well I'm…
Gloria/Claire: No problem.
Suzy/Lois: No, wait, I've a better idea. When you phone me *I won't answer*. Just let it ring *twice*. And then hang up.
Gloria/Claire: I know. Like a signal. There's a friend of Daddy's who does that. Only she does it seven times.
Dystopia November, 2121
Claire heard the signal—a long soft whistle replicating the first few notes of 'Impossible Dream'. Claire carefully looked out from behind the wooden crate that sheltered her, whistled a response and ran from her hiding spot right into the arms of Scott Purcell.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
"Yes," she responded and then letting her emotions finally get the best of her, she buried her head on his Superman tee-shirt and began to cry.
Scott let her cry, stroking her hair softly, then raising her face, gently—oh, so gently, kissed her.
Smallville, Kansas Sunday, March 20, 1994
Rod Purcell had to get out of there. He couldn't face another examination. He waited until his father and Dr. Leit were thoroughly engrossed in discussion. He grabbed his cane and moved as quickly as he could out the door and headed for the high school. Maybe there, he could find some peace.
Rod walked quickly the block and a half—the 234 memorized steps from his dad's office to Smallville High School and opened the auditorium door. He had remembered that the Smallville Players were auditioning today, and the school would be opened. He sat down in the last row and listened. Here, he felt safe.
On the stage, Rod heard the director explaining the next scene.
Martha looked over at Dr. Post sitting with the group of regulars. "I want to welcome you once again, Dr. Post. It's so wonderful that you would choose to join us in our little theatrical venture." And, playing into his ego as Wells had told her to do, she added. "And I'm sure that you will provide us with a wealth of knowledge and creativity. Being just a small-town theatre group, I know we can benefit from your vast expertise. And, I promise to listen to read very shortly."
Dan, Donald, Cindy, and Cat eyed each other. This was so unlike Martha.
Lois glanced over at her husband with a quizzical look. It was one thing to make a newcomer feel welcome, but this?
"The following is the most difficult scene of the play," Martha explained to the group. "It takes place entirely on a dark stage—no lights at all. Suzy has created this environment because, as she is blind, she will have the advantage over her attacker. Now, it is paramount that the audience understand where you are, what you are doing and what you are saying. Sometimes the facial expressions and gestures help an audience to realize dialog that may be a little fuzzy. As it is completely dark, you and the audience will have no visual aids here," she emphasized as she looked at each of them. "You will have to use sound to your advantage. Footfalls, scraping chairs, striking matches, and clearly enunciated words are a must."
Out in the back row, Rod Purcell sat up straight.
"In fact," Martha went on. "For this particular production, we will be using microphones and will require the assistance of a very good sound engineer."
"May I volunteer, Mrs. Kent," came a voice from the darkness as Rod walked down the aisle toward the stage. "I'd like to help."
Dystopia November, 2121
"I'd like to help," came a voice from the darkness, and the two young people turned to face an older man wearing a bowler and carrying an umbrella hooked over his arm.
"Mr. Wells!" Claire exclaimed. "Scott, this is H.G. Wells, he visited me and my family earlier this year."
"I'm so desperately sorry to hear of your mother's fate, Claire."
"Thank you, Mr. Wells. My father's been taken…"
"Yes, I've grasped the situation. Come with me, we must push on."
"Where?" Scott asked.
"To extricate your father, to salvage your world."
Smallville, Kansas Sunday, March 20, 1994
The potential cast of 'Wait Until Dark' turned to look at the voice that was moving toward them.
"I'm really good with sound, Mrs. Kent," Rod explained as his cane felt for the steps and he moved slowly up onto the stage. "I guess I could also be of help to whoever you cast as Suzy—a technical advisor, sort of."
"That would be wonderful," Martha told the young man. "I was planning to approach you, anyway. I'm so glad *you* found us."
Dystopia November, 2121
"I've found her and I'll take care of her," Scott told Mr. Wells as he put his arm around Claire to protect her.
"Yes, son, I comprehend your anxiety. But Claire is required elsewhere."
Just at that moment, three soldiers dressed in brown leather tunics, came out from the shadows. Two grabbed Scott and one went after Claire. Claire turned quickly and kneed her pursuer in the groin.
As the man bent over, Wells took his umbrella and hit him over the head. "Follow me!" Wells insisted while grabbing Claire's hand.
"What about Scott?"
"He'll be satisfactory, trust me. For the moment, it is imperative that we proceed at once."
A few seconds later came the sound of an electrical whir, and steam poured out from behind a fence.
Smallville, Kansas Sunday, March 20, 1994
The cyclotron emitted a whir and Liz Lathrop waited patiently for the outcome. She took the resultant mixture and put a miniscule portion on a slide and placed it under the microscope. She adjusted the focus and peered into the lens. She looked up and smiled.
She had succeeded in doing what Tempus had asked of her. She had created two caustic mixtures—one for the public at large, and one for Lois Lane Kent. The chemical compounds that the man from the future had provided her were unique, indeed, with properties unknown to the physician; but she had altered them into a soluble solution capable of sublimating a person's will, drive, and innate desire to achieve.
One small flaw existed in the pill for Lois, however, which would render her permanently comatose, yet capable of carrying her child to term—a defect she would keep secret from her so-called mentor. He needn't know everything, especially when Liz detected within him a hidden craving for the soon to be pregnant, Lois—a craving that might necessitate Dr. Lathrop having plans of her own.
Yes, Mr. Time Traveler, she had a plan. Something else was obviously being kept secret as well—a link to the 22nd century that she wasn't told about. How could two low-paid high school teachers sire the eventual creator of a new world? She reached into her pocket. The globe rested lifeless and quiet in her hand. And how did this fit into the puzzle?
Think, Liz! There's some connection, some unknown quantity that the formula lacks to make it work, some unknown plot fragment. Nothing jumped out at her—nothing unraveled itself. Perhaps she *had* all the pieces. Maybe she was seeing intrigues where there were none. Possibly it was just as Tempus explained it—Lois and Clark the antecedents of a classless utopian society where power, wealth and decision- making were spread among the many, instead of delegated to the intelligent few with the capability to appropriately utilize that wealth and power. Perhaps Tempus wasn't holding back something. Conceivably Lois and Clark were the simple beginning of what was to be. After all, history and religion had painted such simple beginnings before.
Then, too, there was that simple woman who lie upstairs in her hospital bed, dying, who had bore Liz and her twin brother Lex. And, although, her brother was no longer destined for greatness; once she had his wealth, she would be. And Tempus would insure that she obtained that wealth as long as she completed the work he had given her.
Lex's sister looked once again into the microscope and smiled. Just a few days to double-check her results and to run a test or two. And, due to her work, generations of the Kent family would become spiritually stifled, emotionally crippled, and psychologically scarred. Ah ha! Better living through chemistry!
But *would* it be the result of the chemically induced mutations she had created in her basement lab; or would it be the environmental lack of love and nurture caused by a mother eternally asleep and a devastated father whose energies would be lost to his family, friends and community? The old nature versus nurture controversy. How fitting.
Liz Lathrop thought back on her own life. Was she now sitting in this laboratory chuckling over the plight of Mr. and Mrs. Goody Two Shoes—Lois and Clark, because she was part of a divided bad seed—Lex and Liz, the antipodal Bobbsey Twins? Or was her conditioning by the abuse of a sadistic, defeated, adoptive father what made her what she was, what she had become? Nature vs. nurture—a question for the ages. A question that only time might one day completely answer.
She looked at the globe again. Maybe time would answer all the riddles.
Somewhere in the space/time continuum
H.G. Wells regarded his young passenger, who sat so still and quiet, in the seat next to him. "Your father has been imprisoned. But trust me. Nothing horrendous will happen to him for another month. This…this…chaotic world that that monster—that fiend—has created may be vile, and, indeed, barbaric. But it does have some rules. And remember one thing, we *will save him* because we have all the time in the world at our disposal," he explained gesturing around him. "And, as Thomas Edison said, 'There is time for everything'—and we will use that time to get you installed into the Smallville, Kansas community of 1994."
Claire looked over at the strange man at the controls of the machine. Her father had trusted him when he first appeared on the scene. She knew that she had to as well. Mr. Wells—no, she was to call him Uncle Herbie, now—had told her that she would have to portray the part of a lifetime because so much was depending on it. Well, she did come from a family of actors—incredible actors. She sat up proudly in her seat. She wouldn't let any of them down. Claire thought about their family saying: Theatre is more than brick and mortar, it's drama, passion, mystery, comedy and life. And she had a life to protect—many lives.
Smallville, Kansas Sunday, March 20, 1994
So, having been piloted to the past by Wells, introduced and fully ensconced into her part to where she was accepted by the other characters in the 'play', Claire watched the actors as they listened to their director. Martha was something very special, Claire realized. Yes, the family stories had not simply been hyperbole, they had been based on truth.
The young visitor from the 22nd century glanced over at Lois and Clark. According to Wells and to her parents, those two wonderful people had established Utopia—Elysium—her world. They were the actors who played—no! No theatre analogies. They were simply incredible human beings who embraced love, truth, and justice and gave those feelings to the world.
Clark took Lois' hand and moving it to his lips, kissed it. He then glanced over at the teenager who was staring at them. "You really don't see it, do you?" he whispered to his wife. "She's you! When the two of you were up there reading that scene, it was like watching a holon unfold."
"Okay," Lois said looking at Claire then back at him. "What's a holon, smarty?"
"Arthur Koestler invented the word to describe a whole singularly unique entity which at the same time is a part of everything else," Clark explained.
"Uh huh," Lois said.
"The word doesn't matter," Clark told her. "I just have this..this feeling that she's part of us—a very important part."
"And he's right. Huh, Mommy?"
"Yes, he's always right."
"Honey. It's getting late," the little boy's father said, peeking into the room.
"I know," his wife answered. "Almost done."
Dystopia December, 2121
The cell door clanged open as another prisoner was shoved into Wil's jail room. Scott picked himself up and tearing off a corner of his tunic, wiped at the blood that was streaming down his face.
"Where is she?" Wil insisted, seeing that his new cellmate was Scott Purcell and abruptly turning the eighteen-year- old to look at the older man.
"I'm not sure, Mr. Kent," Scott responded.
"You were with her. Weren't you?"
"Of course I was, sir."
"This weird man came out of nowhere and took her away."
"What weird man? Where?" Wil barked, his breathing coming in fast pants.
"I couldn't get to her. But it seemed she went willingly."
"Yeah. Several members of the goon squad were trying to arrest us. This weird guy, dressed in some really old clothes, hit one of them with his umbrella and…"
"Old clothes," Wil echoed, and paused. "Did you hear anything funny?"
"Well, now that you mention it, yeah—a sort of machine sound and then some steam or something billowed out. I don't know what happened, exactly."
"And your sister, Jessica?"
"She and Kia were in a safe house when I left them."
Wil turned and walked the few steps it took him to get to the edge of the cell and for the first time in the days and weeks he had been there, he smiled.
Smallville, Kansas Sunday, March 20, 1994 Martha smiled at the Smallville Players clustered around her. "Thank you Dan and Cat, that was pretty good," Martha told the two. "Now let's do the scene again, this time with Dr. Post and Lois."
Tempus stood up and moved toward center stage. "Isn't this where you'd prefer to do the scene?" he asked self- gratifyingly.
"Of course, Dr. Post. That would be, oh, so much better."
Clark leaned over to Lois. "What's with Mom?" he whispered. "She…" he paused and tilted his head.
"What is it?" Lois asked, so familiar with that look.
"Fire alarm," Clark explained. "And for once, I'm not upset at being called away," he said, indicating Dr. Post. "I have a feeling, there's an ego problem here," he said as he got up and pulled at his tie.
Lois smiled. "Well, he *is* a doctor. All doctors think they're gods," she explained. "And be careful," she added as he headed toward the door.
"I'll be back, Mom," Clark called out as he opened the door quickly. "Uh..uh…" he began, trying to think of an excuse.
"Looks like a super emergency," Dr. Post remarked.
Lois and Clark looked at each other, and then Clark rushed out the door while Lois got up to join Dr. Post.
"Are both of you ready?" Martha asked Lois and the doctor. "Just a reminder. Suzy has just thrown a vase full of ammonia at Roat, which allowed her to run over and turn off the lights at the fuse box, putting the stage into complete darkness. Okay, start."
Suzy/Lois: (Quietly) I have your knife, Mr. Roat.
The directions told Tempus to pause and then strike a match. He mimed the action.
Roat/Tempus: (Very calmly) I can see you now, Suzy…I have a whole box of matches…you're over by the safe.
As directed, Lois pretended to move carefully stage left by feeling the wall and then leaned down to pick something up. She turned and walked straight for the man who had threatened her.
Tempus looked at what Lois was supposedly carrying—a gallon can of gasoline.
Roat/Tempus: No! (He blows out the match) I've blown it out. It's *out!*
The directions stated that just as the match was blown out, the audience would see Suzy using Roat's voice to aim by, souse him thoroughly with the gasoline. Lois gestured with both hands as if to drench him.
As called for, Tempus choked and sputtered.
Suzy/Lois: Just try lighting a match *now!*
Roat/Tempus: I won't!
Looking at her script, Lois again mimed the directed movement. She struck a match and held it out towards Tempus and moved two steps closer.
Suzy/Lois: Throw your matches onto the floor…now! Or I'll set you on fire.
Roat/Tempus: They're on the floor.
Suzy/Lois: Now stand perfectly still where you are…and listen.
"Lois, can I stop you here," Martha interrupted. "I'd like you to go back a line or two and try this," she told her daughter-in-law. "As you gradually regain command of the situation and win round after round, I want you become calmer and gentler until, finally, you speak rather like an experienced teacher talking to…to a rebellious child," she directed. "I'm sure you know what I mean."
"I understand, Martha," Lois said. "Where do you want me to take it from?"
"How about, 'throw your matches'."
"Okay," Lois responded. "Ready, Dr. Post?"
"Always," he said. "I can be as petulant as the next fellow, darlin'."
Suzy/Lois: Throw your matches onto the floor…now! Or I'll set you on fire.
Roat/Tempus: They're on the floor.
Suzy/Lois: (More calmly) Now stand perfectly still where you are…(With more strength in her voice)…and listen.
Tempus read the next directions and followed them. He began to tiptoe away.
Suzy/Lois: (Sharply, but deliberately) Don't move! However quietly you move I can hear you.
The doctor stopped moving.
Suzy/Lois: Now listen…go slowly to the bedroom door and walk so I can hear you…go on. Now go inside…close the door and knock from the other side.
Roat/Tempus: What are you going to do?
Suzy/Lois: Just go in there—close the door and knock. I'm going to lock you in…go on.
Dr. Tim Post pretended to open the door, move inside, and watch as Lois shut him in.
Martha looked over at Claire, then back to Lois and Dr. Post. "That was perfect," she explained. "Just perfect."
Smallville, Kansas Monday, March 21, 1994
"Let me help you with that," Claire told Martha as she took the cast list from the director to post in the window of the bookstore.
"I don't think anyone will be surprised at the results," Martha said to her new found relation. "I'm just hoping no one is upset."
"You mean Miss Grant and Cindy," Claire said as she finished taping the list to the glass.
"Well, it is a small cast, this time," Martha rationalized. "And Cat couldn't possibly *really* be interested in that character. It's Cindy I'm concerned about. This will make the second play in a row that she's been left out of."
"Well, I could…"
"No!" Martha said emphatically. "You're the right choice for several reasons. First you're a wonderful young actress. Secondly, you've had much more experience," Martha continued, plopping herself onto the sofa. "And most importantly of all, you're needed, if we're to carry out our plot."
Claire smiled at her and joined her on the overstuffed couch.
"Remind me to select something less macabre for our next production," Martha said, putting her arm around her distant granddaughter.
"How about 'You're A Good Man Charlie Brown'? Nothing sinister about that one."
"Oh, we'd find something foreboding, even in that one," Martha responded.
The two Kent women looked at each other and started to laugh.
Smallville, Kansas Tuesday, March 22, 1994
Tempus laughed as he perused the entire script he had picked up after he saw the cast posting. "This is just too easy," he said out loud as he spun around in his office chair. "I get to play the cliche of the evil villain *and* get to keep Lois in my sights until *she* needs me. Hmmmm, maybe it's Superman who needs the help getting his guys to swim upstream!" Tempus exclaimed as he got up to regard himself in the mirror and laughed again.
Dystopia December, 2121
"Is there one here who calls himself Wil Kent?" the Inquisitor asked.
"I'm Wil Kent," Scott Purcell said, stepping forward.
"No, Scott," Wil said, putting his arm around the young man. "Remember when I played Quixote and was asked the same thing? I, that is *he*, faced it. We have to face up to these men. And I'm the one that has to do it. No one can do it for me. We have to show them that we stand for what we believe in. Just like we did—when was that— before I lost her, before my world changed, before *our* world changed— back on that stage."
Utopia April, 2121
Tempus viewed himself in the make-up mirror as he prepared for his next entrance. Yes, he was a member of this petty, meaningless group—he was there playing a part. This entire utopian world was a stage, just as Shakespeare prophesied, and all of them were merely players, but not for long. He had found the means to change the world around him—to make it the way he wanted it—no, the way he needed it.
He needed a world he could dominate, and not this world— this world full of music and light—this world without violence, temptation or greed. Tempus craved power, lusted after omnipotence, and ached to be a vengeful god.
He simply had to wrest this section of the world out of the hands of the Kent family dynasty, and would win! He was scheduled to leave for the past shortly and then…then…
On stage, Wil Kent as Don Quixote heard the trumpets blare, signaling the arrival of his arch enemy.
Tempus moved to stage right and watched as the man he hated took center stage once again. "Wil Kent!" Tempus muttered under his breath. "Don Quixote, the man who tilts at windmills."
On stage the music grew louder with the addition of more brass, trumpeting the appearance of an entourage—liveried attendants preceding a knight—a knight tall and terrifying in fantastic armor. He wore a chain-mail tunic on which were mounted tiny mirrors that glittered and dazzled the eyes. On his head was a mask-like casque, only his eyes were visible through slits. From the crest of the helmet sprang great plumes, accentuating what seemed already to be an incredible stature. In his hand was a naked, shining sword. The music ceased as the cavalcade with Tempus in the role of the knight at its head came to a halt.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: (His voice harsh and clangorous) Is there one here who calls himself Don Quixote de La Mancha? If there is—and he is not afraid to look upon me—let him stand forth!
Don Quixote/Wil: (After a long pause, voice shaking) I am Don Quixote, Knight of the Woeful Countenance.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: (His voice magnified and metallic within the casque) Now hear me, thou charlatan! Thou are no knight, but a foolish pretender. Thy pretence is a child's mockery, and thy principles, dirt beneath my feet!
Don Quixote/Wil: (Trembling with anger) Oh, false knight! Discourteous! Before I chastise thee, tell me thy name.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: Thou shalt hear it in due course.
Don Quixote/Wil: Then say why thou seekest me out!
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: (Mockingly) Thou called upon me, Don Quixote. Thou reviled me and threatened.
Don Quixote/Wil: The Enchanter! (He tears off his left gauntlet, flinging it at the knight's feet) Behold at thy feet the gage of battle!
Smallville, Kansas Wednesday, March 23, 1994
Tempus leaned down and picked up the script that Clark had dropped. "You'll need this," he said to him.
Clark looked at the man sitting next to him during the read through of the play. There was something about him. Clark shook it off. He had said the same thing about Richard in the previous play—Richard who turned out to be the resurrected Lex Luthor. Could Dr. Post be as evil as…? No. Clark was imagining things. This couldn't be happening a second time. Besides, Dr. Post was getting a good reputation in town. A couple members of the faculty at the high school had mentioned that he was a darn nice guy.
Utopia April, 2121
In the wings, Claire watched the villain of the piece strut his stuff. Tempus was new to their theatre group and an unknown entity—but was incredibly perfect in the role. Was he that good of an actor, Claire wondered, or simply typecast.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: (Suddenly very cold) On what terms do we fight?
Don Quixote/Wil: Choose thine own!
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: Very well. If thou art beaten, thy freedom is forfeit and thou must obey my every command. (Don Quixote bows coldly) And thy conditions?
Don Quixote/Wil: If thou art still alive, thou shalt kneel and beg mercy of my lady Dulcinea.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: (Even more mockingly than before) Where shall I find this lady?
Don Quixote/Wil: There she stands.
The Knight of the Mirrors turned his eyes to Aldonza—her rags, her bruises, her ruined face. He began to laugh in cruel derision.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: Thy lady… is an alley cat!
Don Quixote/Wil: (Drawing his sword in fury) Monster! Defend thyself!
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: (Stepping back) Hold! Thou asked my name, Don Quixote. Now I shall tell it. I am called —The Knight of the Mirrors!
The Knight swung forward his shield. Its surface was polished steel, a mirror, which blinded and bewildered Don Quixote. The attendants revealed similar mirrors. In a choreographic pattern, Quixote reeled from one to the other, stopped always up against his own image.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: Look, Don Quixote! Look in the mirror of reality and behold things as they truly are. Look! What seest thou, Don Quixote? A gallant knight? Naught but an aging fool!
Don Quixote recoiled from his own image, only to be brought up against another.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: Look! Dost thou see him? A madman dressed for a masquerade!
Attempting escape, Quixote found himself facing yet another mirror.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: Look, Don Quixote! See him as he truly is! See the clown!
Quixote reeled away yet again, only to find the mirrors converging as the knight and his attendants closed down upon him.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: Drown, Don Quixote. Drown— drown in the mirror. Go deep—the masquerade is ended!
Quixote collapsed to his knees.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: Confess! Thy lady is a trollop, and thy dream the nightmare of a disordered mind!
Don Quixote/Wil: (In dazed desperation) I am Don Quixote, knight-errant of La Mancha…and my lady is the Lady Dulcinea. I am Don Quixote, knight-errant…and my lady…my lady…
Quixote, beaten, sank to the floor.
Knight of the Mirrors/Tempus: (Removing the casque from his head) It is done!
Smallville, Kansas Thursday, March 24, 1994
"It's done!" Liz Lathrop sang out as she entered the office of Dr. Post. "The Red Kryptonite has been altered into a form that can more readily enter Lois' blood stream and that of the baby's. Lois will, at first, have an adverse reaction. But she will recover," Liz lied. "Although the effect on the fetus will be permanent."
"Well, hooray for our side," Tempus said mockingly. "If it works as well as the subliminal hypnotic you completed on Monday, and which I've already peddled to these ovine Okies, then we're off to the races."
"Ouch!" H.G. Wells exclaimed as the hammer came down on his finger. "How, precisely, do you accomplish this?" he asked Jonathan Kent.
Jonathan laughed. "You don't have to help me, Mr. Wells. I can handle this part on my own now that we have the schematic plans all worked out."
"I wish to do my apportionment," the time traveler demanded.
"Well, it's just about finished," Jonathan told him, stepping back to survey their work. "You can't even notice it's here."
Wells closed the door that was located on the set and scrutinized their effort. "Yes, Mr. Kent." he said. "This will do rather nicely."
Smallville, Kansas Sunday, March 27, 1994
Claire watched Lois and Rod while they spent two hours going through the usage of the cane, how to attempt to judge distances, and how to use one's hands as another tool of communication. The young woman stared at Rod. How alike he was to his descendent, Scott Purcell. They both were determined, and no matter what barriers were thrown at them, they would overcome them easily.
"Can I ask you a few questions," Lois inquired of Rod as she sat down next to Claire in the rehearsal hall.
"Sure," Rod said. "Fire away."
"There's this scene where I have to hit Clark, that is Sam. Can you show me how you would swing your arm when you don't know what it might connect with?"
"Okay," Rod said and moved his arm, flailing about in the air.
"Thank you," Lois told him. "Ummm. Just one more question," she said pausing.
"Whatever I can do to help," Rod said. "Just ask it."
"Do you close your eyes when you kiss?"
Rod paused and a quizzical look came across his face. "I don't know. I mean I've kissed a few girls, but I'm just not sure."
Claire smiled. "Well, why don't we put it to the test," she said teasingly, and walked up to him. "I'm right here."
Rod stood in front of her and gently reaching out his hand, found her face. He touched her cheek and with the back of his hand, slowly stroked her in order to decipher her features. "You're beautiful," he whispered and leaned in to kiss her.
Dystopia December, 2121
Scott Purcell sat down next to Wil Kent as the two attempted to eat the food thrust at them.
"She'll be okay," Scott told Claire's father. "Somehow I feel that someone's looking out for her."
Smallville, Kansas Monday, March 28, 1994
Martha looked up from the counter of the Cabbages and Kings book store as the four young people entered. "Do you need something special?" she asked.
"No," Keith told her, "just a place to meet on our project." Claire sat down on the overstuffed couch and arranged her notes in front of her on the large antique trunk, which was covered with decoupaged posters from some of the Smallville Players previous productions.
Rod followed Claire and sat down, sliding in very close to her. He took out a couple of Braille cards that he had made, and the two of them leaned in collaboratively to talk about their portion of the project.
Anne and Keith sat in the two chairs across from Rod and Claire. Anne tried to concentrate on the notes she and Keith had written and had planned to review, but found she couldn't. She kept watching Rod and Claire. "I guess I'm done," she told Keith.
"Me too," Keith said, noticing that she was on the verge of tears. "I'll walk you out."
Claire looked up. "That was quick! We'll see you later," she told the two students as they exited the store.
Martha watched them leave and crossed over to Rod and Claire. "Would you like some hot chocolate?" Martha asked the two remaining students.
"That would be nice, Mrs. Kent," Rod told her.
"Well, can you watch the store for me just a minute, while I go across the street to the market?"
"You don't have to do that on our account," Claire insisted.
"No, no," Martha indicated. "No trouble at all, I need to get a couple of things, anyway."
As soon as Rod heard the tinkle of the front door, he took Claire's hand and leaned in.
"Wait, Rod," Claire said, removing her hand.
"What is it?" he asked her. "I thought after last evening…"
"I know. But there's something I have to tell you," she began, not knowing where to start. Somehow sharing a secret was important, especially before a relationship could develop trust; and she needed Rod to trust her, because here, in Rod Purcell, she had found her ally.
"Rod," she began, and then paused as the bell over the front door tinkled, and Principal White entered the store.
"Mrs. Kent is holding a book for me," he explained to the two young people. "Ah, here it is," he pointed out, picking up the latest biography on Elvis from the counter. "Just tell her to put it on my account," he informed them, and walked out again.
"What were you going to tell me?" Rod asked, after the door closed behind the principal.
Claire took a deep breath. "Rod. Remember when I first came into Mrs. Kent's classroom, I said that I was from the future?"
"Yeah. We all thought you were a kook. But a nice one," he said, smiling and taking her hand again.
"Well, it's true."
"What's true?" he asked, not totally comprehending what she meant.
"I'm from the future," she explained, and got up from the couch to pace.
"Sure, and pigs can fly," he retorted, trying to figure out where she was.
"Well, Superman can."
"Hey! Stop moving around, I'm having a hard time following you both physically and contextually."
"I said Superman can," she repeated, stopping in front of him and sitting down again. "And that's just the point," Claire explained, taking both of his hands. "Superman can fly—*I* can travel…through…time," Claire told him slowly and deliberately.
"Okay, Miss 25th Century."
"Uh…who wins Friday night's Basketball game?" he challenged.
"What?" she asked, somewhat frustrated, and dropped his hands to get up to pace again. "I *don't* know!" she contended. "I don't know anything about sports. And don't you dare ask me about the…the Super Series or the World Bowls either. I know those are the standard questions to catch people in a lie—I've seen those sci-fi movies."
"Super Bowls and World Series," Rod corrected, somewhat sharply.
"You have to be prepared if you want people to believe you," Rod insisted.
"Wait! What's today's date?"
"March 28th. Why?"
"Okay," she retorted, as an idea hit her, and she sat down again. "Tonight's the Oscars for 1993, right?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe," he said, his voice becoming more cynical.
"Well, I don't know anything about sports, but I *know* about acting. The winners are Tom Hanks, Holly Hunter and Schindler's List."
"Even if you're right, those might just be lucky guesses," he argued.
"Listen to my voice," she told him. "You *know* I'm telling you the truth."
"So why are you here, then?"
"To prevent an incredibly evil man from…," she began, and then stopped suddenly as she heard the shuffle of feet as a woman came from behind the last row of bookshelves.
"Oh, hello," the woman said. "Where's Mrs. Kent? Did she leave?"
"She'll be right back," Claire informed her. "Can I help you?"
"Would you tell her that I didn't find what I was looking for and I'll come back another day?"
Claire nodded and then paused, waiting for the woman to exit. She bit her lower lip. The woman couldn't have heard; and if she did, it couldn't possibly have meant anything to her. Claire shook her head. Had she slipped up? Well, their plan was to take place in four days. Surely this wouldn't interfere. No, it…
"To prevent what?" Rod asked, reminding her where she had left off.
Claire returned her gaze to Rod. "To…to avert an evil man from destroying my world! Please believe me, because I may need your help!"
Outside the door to the Cabbages and Kings book store, the woman paused as she pulled on some gloves. Liz Lathrop smiled and limped away.
"She's the bad guy?"
"Uh huh," his mother responded, turning the next page.
"Do the good guys always win, Mommy?"
"Well, we hope so," she said, looking at her son's shining eyes.
Dystopia December, 2121
Wil Kent, his shackles replaced on his neck, wrists and ankles, was being painfully dragged by his chain through a series of underground chambers. After stumbling to his knees several times, his keeper shoved him out into a large open-air pavilion. Wil recognized it as a shabby version of an outdoor concert venue that he had taken his family to on many, many occasions.
He looked around at the angry, yelling crowd. It no longer held an audience that was anticipating an evening of Beethoven or Gershwin or Manfried but a rabble hungry for the stench of death.
Did only his small optimistic, yet enigmatic group remember how it was?
Encore! A bombastic name—pretentious and self-glorifying. He shook his head as the guards forced him to kneel on the ground.
<Who were we?> he thought, <that small band of artists, to say what life should be like? Who were we to say that?> His face felt the earth almost smother him as one of the guards put his foot on Wil's neck. He struggled to lift his face. Could we and we alone could bring back the days of glory? Enate Coalition Organized to Restore Elysium—ha! How full of us we were!>
<Perhaps they were right—these people around him insatiably craving his blood—and we, we pollyannaish thespians, were wrong. Perhaps the words of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Miller, and Zaharia should be buried along with the fantasy of Utopia. Perhaps he should finally stop looking at the world through a rose colored haze—stop being Don Quixote de La Mancha and become the sane Alonzo Quijana.>
Wil took a deep breath as the guards hauled him to his feet and pushed him toward the center of the stadium to await his accusers. He needed fortitude, he needed strength. And where else to gain strength—the words. Remember the words. Remember his daughter. Remember his wife.
For with his Dulcinea, Beside him so to stand, A man can do quite anything, Out fly the bird upon the wing, Hold moonlight in his hand.
If only he were like his ancestor—the Clark Kent of the 20th century. He *could* out fly the bird, he could reach for the stars. But he wasn't a superhero, he was just a teacher, a playwright, an actor. An ordinary man who stood alone among the many—the many Visigoths.
He looked around at the mob, jeering and hooting. Where was his world? Where was his life? Where was the daughter he loved? Fighting! He knew that of her. Wherever she was, *she* was working on some plan.
Smallville, Kansas Tuesday, March 29, 1994
Liz Lathrop pulled back after kissing him. "It was a nice day," she told her date.
"I would like to do this again."
"So would I," the man told her. "How about tomorrow evening."
"That would be fine," Liz responded and kissed him again. "I'm really happy that you've come to Smallville," she said, smiling as she put her hand up and toyed with the top button of his shirt.
He leaned in to kiss her again.
"Tomorrow," she said suggestively, and pushed him toward the steps.
Liz's date turned and walked away toward his car.
Dr. Lathrop opened the door of her apartment and walked in. The outward smile faded quickly. She had had to figure a way to get the upper hand. She knew from the very start that Tempus was the kind of man who would use her and then discard her. That, she couldn't tolerate. Tempus might believe, as all men did, that he was in charge. But she knew that the time traveler wasn't the only one with a plan and he, nor any man, could be trusted.
And now, she knew something that would give her what she needed. She could prevent that young girl from interrupting Tempus' plans, and as such, he would owe her. Owe her big time. As a result, she had insured that little Liz would get everything that was coming to her. But she needed help to make certain that a plan of her own making was put into effect and that help just walked down her front stoop.
She turned to look out the window as she watched the man drive away. Before long, Dr. Leit would be eating out of the palm of her hand. *Her* plan was coming together.
"Let's take it from the middle of page sixty-one," Martha told Claire and Lois. "Right where they finally start to plan and to work together and support each other against all the bad guys."
Lois walked over to the table and stood there moving her hands carefully in order to feel for the vase in front of her, just as Rod Purcell had taught her.
Suzy/Lois: Can you find me some ammonia and some vegetable oil?
Gloria/Claire: Where are they?
Suzy/Lois: (She points to the general area of the kitchen shelves.) Under the sink…and in that cabinet.
As directed, Claire in her role as Gloria searched for the bottles.
Suzy picked up the vase of flowers. She walked carefully, carrying the vase and emptied the water into the sink.
Gloria/Claire: (Takes bottle from cupboard under sink.) Got it.
Suzy/Lois: Pour some into this vase…quite a lot…watch out for your eyes.
Both Claire and Lois made a face as they pretended that the ammonia smell bothered them.
Gloria/Claire: What's this for?
Suzy/Lois: For just in case…Go on…a little more. Okay. Now a little oil on top of that…to stop it smelling.
Claire poured in some of the oil that she had gotten from the wall cupboard by the stove.
Suzy/Lois: Now put those bottles away where you found them. (As Gloria does what she is told) Now—where's the fuse box? Can you see it?
Gloria/Claire: The what?
Lois and Claire were doing beautifully with this scene, so Martha could take a few moments to think. The director looked over to where Dr. Post was sitting, waiting for his part of the rehearsal. The actors were still rehearsing in the practice room but would be going on stage very shortly, as Jonathan had just about completed the set and in record time even with the special effects and additional unique requirements necessary.
Martha sighed as she looked back at the actresses. They were working so hard, especially Lois. This *was* a difficult part to portray, and her daughter-in-law was putting so much into it. That was why the elder Kents, Claire and Mr. Wells had decided not to let the newlyweds in on what was going on. Lois and Clark had to believe the play was the thing—not the plot behind it. They, as the play suggested, had to be kept in the dark.
Martha watched Lois struggling to capture the essence of what it was like to be blind and succeeding wonderfully. Her character had developed nicely. Her performance wouldn't evoke pity—it wasn't meant to. It instead would gather the audience up into a conspiracy between them and her as she led them into cheering her on.
The director looked over to where Rod and Jimmy were sitting. Rod had his Braille puncher out and was taking notes, Jimmy was reading ahead in the script. Martha was feeling regretful that their hard work wouldn't get the attention it deserved.
It was a shame. Both she and Jonathan, and *their* co- conspirators, knew that no audience would ever see the current play they were working on. No theatre-goers from their community would ever witness the wonderful performance that Martha was now watching as she appraised her daughter-in-law's accomplishment.
Martha sighed. She, Jonathan, Claire and Mr. Wells understood this, because their plan to stop Dr. Post would occur *before* the scheduled production dates. Loving theatre as much as she did, this was a sacrifice—one she had to make. And Martha knew that she and Jonathan had to do an incredible acting job, as they had to continue to do the best job they could as director and technical director while waiting for the planned moment—for the moment when Dr. Post would be unaware and they could…
"I have to stop both of you," Martha said to the two young women, as she shook off her thoughts and reverted back to the job of director—a job she had to keep on top of in order hide their plans.
"You're doing fine," she told Claire and Lois. "But as we get into this next section, your speech and actions have to become more and more rapid. You should be speaking on top of each other and begin moving around very quickly. It will heighten the suspense."
"Okay," both Claire and Lois responded.
Suzy/Lois: There's a fuse box in the wall somewhere…near the stairs I think. (She puts out her hand) Take me to it.
Claire took Lois' hand and led her to the fuse box.
Suzy/Lois: Now go round the whole apartment turning on all the lights. Start in the bathroom.
Claire walked over toward the side of the rehearsal room, miming going into the bathroom.
Gloria/Claire: On—or off?
Suzy/Lois: (Impatiently and right on top of the last speech) On!…On!
Gloria/Claire: (A little hurt) Okay. Okay.
Suzy/Lois: I'm not mad at you honey—just in an awful hurry. Those men are coming back here!
Gloria/Clare: That's okay, Suzy—I'm not mad either.
As the stage directions dictate, Claire walked back a few steps as if into the bedroom.
Suzy/Lois: Is it dark outside yet?
Gloria/Claire: (From offstage) No—not quite.
Suzy/Lois: (More rapidly) I wish it would hurry up. Close the drapes in the bedroom.
Gloria/Claire (Calling from offstage) I will. (She pauses) They just switched on the street lamps.
"Hold on a second," Martha told her actors. "Rod," she said, turning to face the young man sitting at the side of the room. "I need the sound of drapes closing at this point."
"No problem, Mrs. Kent," Rod Purcell told her, and added a note to his Braille sheet.
"And, Jimmy," Martha said looking at the computer teacher. "I need a lot of special lighting effects here. It has to look as though the bathroom light goes on, then the bedroom light, then they have to go off. Then there's a hall light's bulb that gets broken. Just listen to the dialog and follow along in the script I gave you, and you'll get the idea."
"Sure, Mrs. Kent," Jimmy said. "It shouldn't be too difficult to set up the lights and program the computer to run the show."
"Great," Martha said, and then turned to her actresses. "Okay, ladies. Let's continue."
Lois pretended to open up the fuse box and began feeling for the fuses. Claire entered from the supposed bedroom.
Gloria/Claire: All on.
Suzy/Lois: In here too?
Gloria/ Claire: Yes.
Suzy/Lois: Good. Now—as I take out each fuse—tell me which light has gone off. Ready?
Claire ran back to the side of the room as if standing in the bedroom doorway.
Lois mimed turning various fuses. Gloria/Claire: Bedroom…bathroom…all out in there…(She returns from the bedroom)…ceiling…(she points) that one…
Suzy/Lois: *Which* one?
Dystopia December, 2121
"Which one?" asked the Inquisitor.
"Which one what?" Wil asked back.
"Which one of your collaborators stole the books from the propaganda box."
"Don't toy with me," the man ranted at him. "The box where we keep those vile books selected for destruction."
"I don't know! And if I *did* know, I wouldn't tell you," Wil began, and gathering energy from deep inside, he faced the tribunal. "Books won't stay banned. The pages may burn, but the books themselves won't incinerate. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education. And a liberal education includes the arts. You may cut out the tongue but not the hope of the singer or the actor. You may break the arm but not the spirit of the writer, composer or the painter. No matter what you do to us, we will be heard, we will be seen, and we will be believed."
Smallville, Kansas Thursday, March 31, 1994
"So do you believe me?" Liz Lathrop told her new ally.
"It sounds like the plot of bad play," Dr. Leit replied. "Let's see, twins separated at birth, time travelers, red glowing crystals that will change the world. No, no, no— impossible," he suggested. "Wait, oh…wait! I know. An early April Fools' joke."
"Not at all," Liz said, putting her arms around him. "Tomorrow's my birthday and I'm giving you and myself a great birthday present."
Smallville, Kansas Friday, April 1, 1994
<Concentrate!> Claire admonished herself, as she tried to pay attention to her government teacher's explanation of the Electoral College. She directed her attention to Clark Kent as he was elucidating the history of that process.
"The Constitution leaves the selection of electors to the state legislatures," Clark explained. "The only stipulation is that their number equals that of the congressional delegation and that officers of the federal government are not eligible. Candidates for elector usually are nominated by party conventions, in primary elections, or by party organizations."
Claire looked down at the blank page in front of her. She should at least be pretending to take notes. She looked up at her teacher and then back down to the pen in her hand. She was finding it so hard to look at him. His face was so like that of her father's. She could see the courage, the commitment, the caring that was so a part of her father's character as well. And it wasn't because Clark Kent was Superman. In her world, her father didn't have super powers but they were both the same man—heroes. And heroes were not born because they had super powers, they were made because they saw wrongs and needed to make them right.
It had been so difficult not to let Lois and Clark in on their plans. For the past two weeks, she had come to know and love both of them. They were her family, after all. But their love—the love they shared between the two of them was so synergistic that it overflowed to include not only their family and friends but their students and humanity in general. They didn't know she was family, but they had made her feel loved and she had missed that—missed her mother and her father.
But soon, soon… She would see her father soon and have back the life they once had. Tonight was the night. At rehearsal tonight, Dr. Tim Post would be…
"Miss Kennedy," Clark Kent said. "Miss Kennedy," he repeated. "You don't seem to be with us today."
"Huh?" Claire responded.
"Could you enlighten us?"
"Well…well," she groped for something to say.
"What if *you* tell us some of the problems of the electoral college," he suggested.
"Well," Claire began, searching back to her own studies. "The election is decided by a majority of the total electoral college vote which may or may not really reflect what the people want,"
"And…" Clark encouraged.
"Um…the electoral college system generally gives all of a state's electoral votes to the winner in that state, no matter how slim the margin. So sometimes it has happened that candidates have been elected even though they received fewer popular votes than their opponents. Umm…let's see…John Quincy Adams in 1824, uh…Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, a very close one with John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960. Then, of course the really controversial election of 2000 with Gore and Bush when Vice President Gore won the popular vote but…"
Claire stopped as the entire class stared at her.
"Gore and Bush?" Clark Kent asked.
Claire looked around the room. "Uh…uh…April fools," she added just as the bell rang.
Several of the Smallville Players entered the auditorium just as hordes of students were flooding out of the school after their last class. Jonathan went directly backstage and opened the door at the rear loading dock. He looked both ways and, seeing that those who were scheduled for rehearsal were on stage busily preparing, he signaled for Wells to enter unbeknownst to the others.
The two men moved over toward the light board on stage left. Wells unfolded his schematic and poured over the blueprints with Jonathan looking over his shoulder.
Two others were also observing as the Smallville Players readied themselves for this eventful rehearsal. They watched for their moment to get into position, and then the two physicians climbed carefully up to the catwalk and moved along the bank of lights. "Will this work?" Liz asked Dr. Leit.
"Of course," he said and reaching out, removed an amber colored flimsy piece of stiff cellophane that gelled the fresnel light, replacing it with a violet plastic disc.
Anne Holland, Keith Haley and Rod Purcell were sitting in the library waiting for Claire Kennedy so they could work on their American Lit. project. Anne looked up at the clock.
"Where is she?" Anne asked the others. "We were supposed to meet following seventh period."
"Mr. Kent asked her to stay after class," Keith explained.
"Is she in trouble?" Anne inquired.
"Well, she *was* fooling around—you know April Fools," Keith said, looking at the others.
"I think Anne's right. She may be in trouble," Rod told them.
"Does she need our help?" Keith asked.
"I don't know," Rod said, opening up the glass case over his watch and feeling the dial. "She might just be at the auditorium for rehearsal and has forgotten about our meeting," he informed the two as he picked up his cane and made for the door.
Anne watched him as a twinge of jealousy ebbed through her. Rod belonged to her. She had been in love with him since they were young children. She always believed that some day…
"Now, don't ask me to explain," he said, turning back toward his friends, "but she might be facing something really dangerous. And I need to be there to help her."
Dystopia December, 2121
Wil Kent faced the panel of judges.
"It is the final unanimous decision of this tribunal," the Inquisitor declared, "that you will be taken back from whence you came and remain imprisoned for a period of thirty days. From thence you will be taken to a place of execution and burned at the stake."
"Can I say nothing?" Wil Kent asked.
"What you say is folly," the leader of the tribunal reminded those assembled. "Spending time on art, music, theatre or poetry is inane foolishness. We no longer dedicate our lives to frivolity, capriciousness or emotional claptrap. The world will be based on logic, on the necessities of life."
"But without what you call frivolity, what is life?" Wil demanded. "The necessities of life sustain our life but the arts is what we stay alive for! The Humanities are ways of thinking about what is human—about our diverse history, values, ideas, words and dreams. What would life be without them?" Wil asked again. "The Humanities inspire us to ask who we are and what our lives should mean. They ask us to place ourselves in the worldwide context of humankind and to understand commonalities and differences. Without the Humanities, are we human? Without them, what are we? Who are we? And most of all, what will we become?"
Smallville, Kansas Friday, April 1, 1994
"What *are* you?" Clark asked looking at Claire, who had remained after class per the instructor's wishes. "*Who* are you?"
"We know who she is. Don't we, Mommy."
"Yes, son. We know."
Smallville, Kansas Friday, April 1, 1994
"I'm a strange visitor from another planet," Claire said, smiling.
"No, no. That's your line," she told him. "I'm a strange visitor from the future— from 2121 to be exact. My name is Claire Kent and I'm your great, great, great granddaughter."
H.G. Wells checked the dials and moved over to stand beside Jonathan Kent. "It's prepared," the writer told Jonathan, who then signaled to his wife.
Jonathan readied his hand on the lever that would put the stage into absolute darkness.
Martha looked at her two actors. "We have rehearsed this scene over and over again in the light. You know what each of you has to do. The only difference is that now we have to do it in total darkness. My plan is to try this many times over the next two weeks so that it works flawlessly. I don't want anyone getting hurt, and I do want you to feel very comfortable with the movements."
"Okay," Lois told the director. "I'm ready."
"When we get to hell week," Martha explained, "Jimmy will have the entire light board synchronized to your actions. Right now, we'll just shut off all the lights, so we can rehearse this part in the actual conditions. The furniture is all there, the doors are working. The props are ready. Is there anything else you need to make this happen?"
"I'll have no problem at all," Dr. Post said.
"I'm sure you won't, Doctor. You're the consummate professional and so very capable. The lights are still on at this point," she reminded them. "Roat is in the bedroom disposing of Mike, who he has just killed. Suzy is trying to get away. Jonathan knows the cue and will put you in the dark, once we get there. Again, just remember that the dark is your friend, Lois, but you are still a little tentative at the beginning because you are facing a murderer. Dr. Post, you are incapable of maneuvering in the dark, so your goal is to get the lights back on as soon as possible. Let's begin."
Tempus donned his dark sunglasses and black leather jacket to vilify, as much as possible, the part of the Roat character. Even though this was not dress rehearsal, he wanted to use this costume to give him a better opportunity to allow his evilness to flow over the footlights. He moved into the bedroom. "Ready," he called out.
Lois cautiously felt her way round the couch toward the stairway, but just as she reached for the railing, Tempus, as Roat, entered from the bedroom where he had just supposedly disposed of Mike/Dan's dead body.
Dr. Post paused, giving Suzy the false hope that she might be able to sneak out, and then he chuckled maliciously.
Tempus walked up the steps toward the door that went to the outside hallway and meticulously removed a chain from his pocket. He slowly and purposefully began to circle it around the doorknob and the stair railing, lashing it down securely, and then he took a few steps toward the petrified woman.
Lois slowly backed away as she heard him move toward her.
Roat/Tempus: I've locked us in, Suzy…
Dystopia December, 2121
The key turned in the lock as Wil Kent was restored to his cell. Scott Purcell awoke and looked up as Wil began to pace back and forth like the caged lion he was.
"They'll be here soon," the older prisoner told the younger.
"To carry out the sentence?" Scott asked.
"No, to save us. Claire will be here soon. I know it!"
Smallville, Kansas Friday, April 1, 1994
"I have to go!" Claire exclaimed, looking at the clock over the door.
"Go where?" Clark asked her.
"They're just about ready to do it," she insisted and moved toward the door.
Clark, using super speed, maneuvered in front of her to block her exit. He placed his hands on her shoulders and looked directly at her.
Sensory perceptions began to bombard him—visions of Tempus' eyes, sounds of his mother placating that man, the feel of Claire slightly trembling under his touch, the taste of fear in his own mouth.
"Tell me! You have to tell me."
Tempus, in his role as Roat, removed from his pocket a very lightweight chiffon scarf and turned to look at Suzy. He deftly flung the scarf into the air so it slowly floated down toward Lois' head.
She recoiled from it violently, putting her hands up as she felt this unknown entity brush her. The scarf tangled in her fingers and she backed away from it as though bat wings fluttered around her. Finally, it fell to the floor.
Roat watched all of this as though she was some kind of bug in an experiment and smiled ruthlesssly.
Suzy backed away a few steps.
Roat/Tempus: (Quietly, moving his mouth to within a hair's breadth of her ear) Do you frighten easily? Everybody's frightened of something."
"I don't frighten easily," Clark told Claire, his hands grasping her shoulders more tightly. "But I'm beginning to be scared. I'm trying to follow you…trying to understand all of this. But, but…there's something you're not telling me," he insisted, releasing his grip immediately as he noticed a slight flicker of pain cross Claire's eyes.
He took a deep breath, trying desperately to quell his anxiety and to trust the young woman who stood in front of him. "Is it about Lois? Is she in danger?"
Martha started to jot a note down on her legal pad as she saw a section of the scene that could be improved upon, and then stopped. This was not a rehearsal that would ultimately prepare the two actors for this very scene on stage. This was the last time these particular actors would be doing this scene, as soon reality would interfere. Martha looked up and watched the fictional characters getting closer and closer to that very real moment.
Roat walked around Suzy, slowly, eventually arriving directly in front of her.
Once again, as she had been meticulously staged by the director, Lois took a few steps away from him.
Roat/Tempus: I'm not going to ask you for it again, Suzy… You're just going to give it to me, aren't you?!
Lois felt her lower back reach the edge of the table. She took a half a step to the side and slowly moved her hands behind her, out of Roat's vision, to feel for the flowers. Tempus moved closer and closer. He touched her eerily on the arm to torture her.
Lois, her hand securely around the vase, threw its contents into her tormentor's face.
His hands flew to his eyes as if the ammonia affected him. The prop vase, filled only with water, did no actual damage.
Martha watched the movements. Tempus was doing a good job. But soon, very soon, he would have something authentic to react to.
Suzy made a violent dash for the bench lamp which was located left of the couch, knocking over a chair and stumbling over the fallen piece of furniture on her way toward the remaining source of light.
Suzy's faltering steps, gave Roat a chance to recover. He saw what she was aiming for and went round the other side of the couch in an attempt to reach for the lamp before she arrived. But Suzy had heard him move and abruptly changed direction hurling herself across the room. She reached the light switch by the bedroom door—the switch that would also operate the lamp. Roat made a frantic dash to get to his victim before she could reach the alternate electrical fixture, but he was too late. Lois, in her gutsy role of Suzy, switched the bench light off from the prop bedroom light switch.
Jonathan watching all of this from stage left, pulled the lever down just as Lois touched the switch, and the stage was plunged into complete darkness.
Lois stood still as she had been directed to do; and Tempus, as the script dictated, now no longer able to see, threw his sunglasses away. They clattered to the floor as he groped for the bedroom light.
The two actors carried through the movements as choreographed by Martha. And, as almost if in a dance; the two vied for space and control.
Tempus, arriving finally at the bedroom switch, turned the light back on. Jonathan saw the cue and timing it carefully, pulled the lever up simultaneously with Roat's movements, so some light bathed the stage.
Lois, hearing Roat's reaction and realizing the light had been restored, kicked off her shoes and made a dive for the bench lamp. Tempus took out a knife from his pocket and opened the blade.
Roat/Tempus: Don't touch the lamp!
Not pausing for even a second, Tempus threw the knife directly at her.
"Is..Lois..in..danger?" Clark asked again deliberately.
"No. She is in control for the moment," Claire explained, looking at the clock once more. "And Martha, Jonathan and H.G. Wells are with her."
"H.G. Wells, the writer? But…"
"Trust me," Claire persisted. "Lois will know exactly what to do. The script will guide her."
The exact moment that the knife appeared to leave Tempus' hand, Jonathan pulled the lever and the lights went out. The knife in actuality was dropped into a box filled with foam rubber that was behind the couch. At the same moment another knife leapt out from a small slit in the wall and quivered right above Lois' head—the result of Linda Bott's, the prop master, discharging her duty by springing the wire on the specially designed mechanism.
Using that as her cue, Lois smashed the lamp on the floor and then, in the dark once again, she reached up and took the knife.
Suzy/Lois: (Quietly) I have your knife, Mr. Roat.
Tempus paused, took out a box from his pocket and then struck a match.
Roat/Tempus: (Very calmly) I can see you now, Suzy…I have a whole box of matches…you're over by the safe.
As directed, Lois moved carefully stage left by feeling the wall and then leaned down to pick something up. She turned and getting her bearings, walked, as she had in several rehearsals before this, straight for the man who had threatened her.
Tempus looked at what Lois was carrying—the gallon can of gasoline he had brought in earlier.
Roat/Tempus: No! (He blows out the match) I've blown it out. It's *out!*
Suzy, using Roat's voice to aim by, soused him thoroughly with the gasoline.
Rod Purcell made his way down the hallway from the high school library toward the auditorium. He had promised Claire that he would be there to help her. He was, if necessary, to use any sound effects to insure that the appropriate people were distracted when the… But had he misunderstood? He had thought they were to meet in the library and then get over to the auditorium. But her being delayed by their teacher, Mr. Kent, might have changed everything.
As he rounded the corner, he stopped. Familiar footsteps were moving toward…but then they were gone. The faint sound of music from the band room on the other side of the hallway was interfering, and he dismissed the idea that had briefly flitted through his mind.
The liquid engulfed Tempus—but once again the gasoline was in actuality water and, as called for, Tempus choked and sputtered.
Suzy/Lois: Just try lighting a match *now!*
Roat/Tempus: I won't!
She struck a match and held it out towards Tempus and moved two steps closer.
Suzy/Lois: Throw your matches onto the floor…now! Or I'll set you on fire.
Roat/Tempus: They're on the floor.
Suzy/Lois: (More calmly) Now stand perfectly still where you are…(With more strength in her voice)…and listen.
Tempus began to tiptoe away.
Suzy/Lois: (Sharply, but deliberately) Don't move! However quietly you move, I can hear you.
He stopped moving.
Suzy/Lois: Now listen…go slowly to the bedroom door and walk so I can hear you…go on. Now go inside…close the door and knock from the other side. I have the key here.
Roat/Tempus: What are you going to do?
Martha held her breath. Wells moved closer to the stage and Jonathan moved his hand to be ready.
Suzy/Lois: Just go in there—close the door and knock. I'm going to lock you in…go on.
Roat opened the door, moved inside and…
Up on the catwalk high above the Smallville High School Auditorium stage, two people waited.
In Clark's classroom, Claire restrained the anxious man.
Backstage, Wells and Jonathan stood poised.
Out in the auditorium, Martha closed her eyes in prayer.
In the sound booth, Rod Purcell, who had just arrived, put on his headsets to check on Claire.
Anticipating his cue, Tempus erroneously jumped a part and neglected to allow Lois to close the door, which he was then supposed to force open, but instead, simply walked back into the living room.
Roat/Tempus: No! Let me stay in here. I won't move. I'll stay at the table…
In the sound booth high above the back of the auditorium, Rod Purcell became privy to several conversations, and all taking place at once.
From what Rod could gather, Dr. Post had skipped a line or two and was back in the living room continuing the scene. Having watched this portion several times before, Rod knew it was no tragedy, as the gist of the scene could be understood without those two lines. Yet, the chatter that was coming through the headsets from the various locations was way out of proportion to the incident.
Jonathan Kent and a voice he could not recognize were arguing.
Martha, wearing a headset in order to cue the backstage people, was anxiously trying to redirect them in a vein attempt to alter some cue to another spot in the scene.
Linda Botts, also on a head-set, was asking a series of questions.
And where was Claire? She should be backstage as her entrance cue was coming up. But Rod's attention was directed away from that dilemma as he heard something else.
Two more voices—voices not coming from headsets—but coming from the catwalk. Rod reached over and dialed down the headset sounds and dialed up the small microphone that was placed on the catwalk so a stagehand didn't have to shout when adjusting the lights.
The voices were subdued—a woman, and…and…Dr. Leit!
On a pitch-black stage, Dr. Post and Lois were continuing the scene, both unawares that several scenes were taking place in other parts of Smallville High School.
Keith Haley got up from his chair in the library and put his arm around Anne Holland's shoulder. "Rod's blind in more ways than one," he said to her.
Anne looked at Keith and smiled. "Maybe we should go help him find Claire. If Rod thinks Claire needs us, then I'm sure he's right."
"Get ready," Liz told Dr. Leit, as she held a small flashlight over the script she was reading. "The cue is Lois screaming for help. That's in about a page and a half."
"I've got the appropriate lighting instrument ready," the doctor told Liz, slightly adjusting the fresnel. He looked over at the script. "When Suzy screams, Claire in the part of Gloria enters the stage and tries to put on the lights, when she reaches for the light switch, *this* light goes on, the beam will aim right at her and she'll be as blind as Lois Lane's character."
"So you're finally joining us," Liz told the man who just then came along the catwalk to stand by the other two. "We couldn't have done this without you. Thank you for all the information on the rehearsal schedules."
"Will I get my payment?" the man asked.
"Yes, your son will be able to see again." Dr. Leit informed him.
"No! Dad," Rod whispered.
"We have another chance," Martha told the people on the headsets.
"What's going on?" Linda asked.
"Oh, Linda…uh…" Martha began. "We have to try another set of light cues. Can you do me a favor and come out here and help me with some sight lines? I need to know what the audience can and can't see."
"Sure," Linda said, removing her headset and making her way from backstage to the front of the auditorium by going out the back door and down the hallway to avoid hampering the scene on stage.
"When's the next opportunity?" Wells questioned Martha, now that Linda was out of earshot.
"In about thirty seconds, Suzy will stab Roat and force him into the bedroom. We can try it then."
Clark took Claire's hand. "Claire Kent," he said softly, everything she had told him finally registering. "So that means that Lois and I will…"
"I can't tell you. But none of it will happen unless the plan works."
Roat, once more with the upper hand, pushed Suzy away from the table and toward the bedroom. Suzy picked up a sharp kitchen knife off the table and hid it behind her back.
Roat/Tempus: I'm only doing what you were going to do to me. I'm going to lock you in there…go on.
Tempus put his hand lightly on Lois' elbow, but she shook him off and, turning while keeping the knife in front of her, started to go obediently to the bedroom. Roat followed just behind.
Roat/Tempus: That's right. But you mustn't shout. If I hear you call for help, I'll set fire to the stairs. Then no one will be able to help you until the firemen arrive and by that time…
Tempus smiled to himself as he escorted Lois toward the bedroom. Suzy crying for help—what a mockery. Fairly soon Lois would be his patient and she wouldn't be able to yell out 'Superman save me'. All was ready. As soon as Lois was pregnant, and by his calculations, it should be any day now, she would come to him for pre-natal care and the 'vitamins' that Dr. Lathrop prepared will invade her system and that of the life in her womb.
Tempus would win—and no one would have to be killed—not that he was opposed to killing, it just allowed for more suffering this way. Lois' child would simply not care about humanity—not care about creating a better world—a world that Tempus loathed.
Lois, in the role of Suzy, reached the doorway and, as Roat tried to push her inside, she turned and caught hold of his coat. At first Roat, as the script directed, did not see the knife in Suzy's other hand.
Suzy took the prop knife and plunged into Roat.
"She's going to push him into the bedroom," Martha told her conspirators over the head sets. "But be careful as Lois goes in with him for a few seconds. Get ready!"
Rod climbed carefully up the catwalk which hung forty-five feet above the auditorium. He moved quietly toward the three people. "Stop," he said when he realized he was upon them.
Liz turned and taking a few steps toward him, pushed Rod off the catwalk.
Instantly, Dr. Purcell yelled out, as did Linda Botts and Anne Holland who had just entered the auditorium from different directions.
Just as instantly, a flash of red and blue appeared and caught Rod before he hit the seats below.
On stage, Lois stopped when she heard the shouts, but the momentum of her knife thrust propelled Tempus into the bedroom.
Claire ran on stage and pulled Lois further away from the bedroom door.
From off stage, Jonathan cranked the bedroom door shut, and Wells pushed appropriate buttons. An electrical whirring began as steam funneled out from under the bedroom door.
Superman flew back up to the catwalk and using electrical cable tied up the perpetrators.
"Okay, everyone. Take five!" Martha said, sinking into her chair.
Two beats later, the auditorium door opened. "Got here just at the right time," Donald Botts told the group as he, too, sunk into a chair.
"Wow!" the little boy said, getting up to zoom around the couch. "I wish I could fly like…like…"
His father came into the room and lifted the little boy up over his head and 'flew' him through the air. "Time's running out. We have to go," he told the bundle of energy in his arms.
"No, Daddy!" his son said with his mother's determined look on his face. "I want to hear the end of the story."
"Not much longer, honey," she told her husband.
Smallville, Kansas Friday, April 1, 1994
The Smallville Players were sprawled around in various auditorium seats as Clark arrived, entering down the aisle, adjusting his tie.
"You missed it all, Mr. Kent," Keith told him.
"Yes," Lois echoed, her arm around Claire in the seat next to her.
"I'm sure I'll hear all about it later," he said, sitting down on the other side of Lois and leaning down to kiss her quickly.
"Hear about what?" Donald asked.
"Are you okay, Rod?" Lois asked, not bothering to respond to Donald.
"Yes," he said. "After Rachel Harris took everyone away, Superman told me that he didn't think my Dad would be held responsible. And maybe now, he will learn to face the inevitable."
"Well, we may never know what destiny holds in store for us," Anne said as she held Rod's hand. "We just have to make the present count for us and let the future take its course."
"That's right," Claire said, smiling at Uncle Herbie.
"But it's going to be a considerably illustrious one—a future filled with possibilities and wonder," Wells said, looking at them all. "Of that I'm *now* unequivocally certain."
"Well, speaking of the future," Martha said, "Now that Dr. Post has gone elsewhere and is no longer with us, I guess the show doesn't go on."
"No Dr. Post? No show?" Donald asked, completely at a loss.
"I've never had to cancel a play before," Martha said, looking around at the Smallville Players sadly. "But I'm positive that we can't get another Roat. And, with all that's happened today, I'm not sure I want to do this play, anyway."
"What's happened?" Donald said, interrupting.
"Hush!" Linda told her husband, jabbing him in the arm.
"Mom. It's okay," Clark told his mother. "We'll just take a much needed breather and prepare for the summer play."
"Clark's right," Lois told the cast and crew. "And Martha, please pick a play with no murders, no mayhem, no malevolent evil scientist."
"Right," Donald Botts echoed. "We should do a play that lifts everyone's spirits, that teaches us all about man's humanity to man, that provides us with a pulpit to preach goodness and nobility."
The entire cast and crew turned to look at Donald. No one spoke for a few moments.
"I know one," Claire said softly.
Utopia January, 2121
"Happy New Year!" Wil Kent said, toasting the others in the troupe. He looked around at the theatre, lit only with the ancient ghost light—but intact—the theatre in tact. Although a theatre was so much more than brick and mortar, having that tangible stage—the curtains, the boards, the lights—gave a definition to what was their theatre, their life, their perfect world.
"Happy New Year," the others echoed.
"Life is as it should be," Wil continued. "Thanks to Claire and also to Mr. Wells, we have defeated the Enchanter."
The 22nd century Smallville Players lifted their glasses.
Hear us, heathens and wizards and serpents of sin! All your dastardly doings are past; For a holy endeavor is now to begin, And virtue shall triumph at last!
Wil Kent smiled at the group. "And soon, our heroes will be here to celebrate with us."
The friends, clustered around Wil, held up their glasses once more.
At just that moment, the whirring sound, accompanied by gusts of steam, heralded the arrival of H.G. Wells. "I need your help," he told all of them as he alighted from the contraption alone. "You have a command encore performance to give."
Smallville, Kansas Thursday, April 21, 1994
"Ten minutes! Ten minutes until the house is opened." Rod Purcell intoned into his headset for the cast and crew to hear, as he finished adjusting three of the casts' microphones. He moved his fingers deftly over the soundboard and checked one more crucial setting.
Martha looked over the impressive set and checked with all the backstage crew to make sure everything was ready. This had been the most exciting three weeks of her life. The Smallville Players from the future had descended upon them, Claire explaining to everyone other than the Kents that her father's theatre group from Elysian, Minnesota were arriving to do a show together with Martha's group.
The only sad moment in the three weeks was the death of Libby Barton and the memorial service that the entire Smallville Players' company attended. But life had to go on, and tonight it would go on with trumpets blaring.
Picking up Dan, Donald, Lois and Clark to flesh out their cast, and using Martha's backstage people, the two theatre groups—present and past—had worked together as if they always had. And tonight they were to present 'Man of La Mancha'—a musical that she had only dared to dream that they would do some day. Martha smiled and walked out to the lobby to begin greeting early arrivals before they opened the house.
In the dressing room, Donald Botts, comedy relief of the Smallville Players, looked at his reflection in the make-up mirror and added a few more strokes to his penciled in scruffy beard.
Jonathan Kent came up behind him and handed him his sword. "Ready, Donald?" Jonathan asked.
"I've been waiting for a moment like this most of my life," he explained. "We're all ready."
"Break a leg," Jonathan told him, patting Donald on the back.
In the wings, a priest stood marveling at what their group had accomplished in so short a time. He could hear the orchestra warming up in the pit and an adrenaline rush began to overtake him.
"Come on!" Lois told Clark, grabbing his hand and pulling him on stage. "We only have ten minutes."
"Ten minutes for what?" Clark asked puzzled. They had already exchanged pre-show flowers, kisses and good wishes back in the dressing rooms.
"We have to do this *here*", Lois emphasized, turning to face Clark once they had gotten center stage.
She put her arms around him and looked out toward the closed curtain that was masking the seats that would soon be filled with anticipatory spectators, and cryptically looked back at him. "We fell in love on this stage," Lois began. "You proposed to me right here on this spot, and two months ago we were married center stage in front of our friends and family."
Clark leaned down and kissed her. "I guess a priest kissing a whore would normally be frowned upon," he kidded.
"But Aldonza, the whore, does change. I do change." Lois insisted.
"You were the one who changed me. Without you I'd be…"
"And without you…"
Clark leaned down and captured her lips once again. As soon as their lips met, the gentleness and tenderness escalated frantically into a deeply passionate search for each other.
As their arms encircled one another and pulled them both closer, Lois knew she needed to stop as there was something important…so important…but it felt too good to stop. She wrestled with logic and emotion, and emotion was winning hands down. Kissing Clark, making love to Clark, a concept that would have been foreign to her a mere seven months before, had now invaded her being—was so much a part of her, that stopping had become an almost impossible super feat.
Three weeks ago, after the incredible afternoon that wrested Tempus and Liz from their lives and assisted Claire and Mr. Wells in setting the future on its appropriate course, she and Clark had returned home exhausted—but as soon as Clark had kissed her, their passion had taken over and their night of love-making, taking place in several interesting locations throughout their house, lasted well into the weekend—their love-making had…had…
"Clark," Lois insisted, pulling back. "We've only a couple minutes left and I brought you here to tell you something."
"I know. I love you, too."
"Yes, I love you, Clark, and I'm pregnant."
"You're…you're…" Clark began, his eyes lighting up, and a smile filling his face. Then, lifting her up, he spun her around. "When…when…?"
"Around Christmas," she explained and kissed him.
In the wings, Wil and Claire watched the two embrace. "She's told him," Claire said, looking up at her father. "It's our cue."
The two visitors from the future walked toward center stage.
"Congratulations," Wil told the couple.
Claire hugged them both. "Since we already knew, it was awfully hard to wait until you found out, but…"
"We want to…" Wil began.
"Let me, Dad," Claire insisted. "We want to thank you," she told them. "Thank you for being you—for starting a generation of people who care and who made the world my Dad and I love."
"And most of all," Wil interjected, "Thank you for helping us get back that world you gave us—your future world. As a history teacher, Clark, you know that you can only comprehend where you're going, if you appreciate where you've been. You know a little of where you're going now, because of all this…" he gestured around him. "But we now want to give you something—an understanding of where you've been."
Claire handed Clark and Lois a small package. "This is from us and Mr. Wells. He…he…well…you guys know what he can do. Anyway, here!"
Clark unwrapped the gift and removed the globe from the box. It hummed and glowed mysteriously.
"It will talk to you when it's ready," Wil explained. "Now *we* should get ready," he told them and pushed everyone off-stage, just as the house opened, and members of the Smallville community of 1994 started to stream in.
Halfway through the performance, Claire was in the wings stage left, waiting for her next entrance.
Kia walked up behind her and turned Claire to help her adjust her costume. "Thank you, Kia," Claire said, her eyes welling up with tears. "I know that Antonia is your part. Thank you for letting me do it this time."
Kia smiled at the younger girl. "You've earned the role," she explained. "I've done it several times, and now, because of you, I'll have this and other parts to play in the future. This performance, here and now, is a special moment and it's time for you to step up and be there on stage with your father," she said, giving Claire a hug. "I'm happy to just be in the chorus to support all of you. But right now, I've got to go help Linda with the other costumes," she said as she turned away.
Once again, as that extraordinary time arrived, Claire Kent moved from the wings to her favorite spot close to the corner of the proscenium and kneeled down. An encore of her father's finest moment was about to occur. Seeing him sing this song again the way he had before the Change; and now, being able to do it again in 1994 with their new friends around them, was incredible. She knew that with the help of all of these people, she and her father could return to the future—to a future of rededication to the truths and beauty that was so much a part of who they were.
Don Quixote/Wil: (singing)
…And the world will be better for this, That one man, scorned and covered with scars, Still strove, with his last ounce of courage, To reach the unreachable stars!
Just as in 2121, the audience rose instantly to their feet. Claire smiled and caught her father glancing over at her with love in his eyes.
Somewhere in the space/time continuum
Wells looked at the dial in front of him—2005, 2004, 2003, 2002—he and his precious cargo were honing in on 1994. Any minute now…
Lois moved next to Claire in the wings. "I know I'm not the one you would want to see doing this part. I'm not your mother," Lois whispered.
"But you are!" Claire exclaimed, softly. "You are in so many ways," she said smiling, and put the shawl around Lois' shoulders. "Let's go, we're on."
On stage the lights dimmed down to spot Don Quixote, huddled, weeping on the floor.
Lois, in the difficult role of Aldonza came toward him, her face devastated by loss and pity as she beheld his vanquish.
The music swelled as the lighting changed back to that of the dungeon, and the various prisoners clustered around the fallen man and then parted as if the red sea, to allow the captain of the guard to enter.
Captain/Dan: (Shouting) Cervantes! Cervantes! Prepare to be summoned.
Cervantes/Wil: (Confusedly) By whom?
Captain/Dan: The Judges of the Inquisition!
The Governor/Larry: Captain! How soon?
Captain/Dan: Soon! (He exits)
The Governor/Larry: But not yet. (To Cervantes, with satisfaction) Good. You'll have time to finish the story.
Cervantes/Wil: But the story is finished.
The Governor/Larry: What?
Cervantes/Wil: At least so far as I know it.
The Governor/Larry: I don't think I like this ending.
The various prisoners growled, Claire among them. <Yes, this is the ending,> she thought. <The ending of her time here in 1994, but this ending is also a new beginning—the new beginning of her life back in 2121 and a new beginning for the Lois and Clark of 1994.> The prisoners growled again.
The Governor/Larry: I don't think the jury likes it, either.
The Duke/Scott: Well, then—he's failed.
The Governor/Larry: Miguel de Cervantes. It is the sentence of the court-
Cervantes/Wil: (Panicky) Wait!
The Governor/Larry: For what?
Cervantes/Wil: If I could have a little more time?
The time machine stopped with a thud as it reached April 21, 1994 and billows of steam filtered out from both sides. Wells escorted his passenger back stage.
On stage, Larry, once head of the underground freedom fighters known as ENCORE, glanced at the prisoners he now led.
The Governor/Larry: Oh, *I'll* grant you time. But the Inquisition…?
Cervantes/Wil: A few moments only! Let me improvise.
The prisoners moved around quickly to change the dungeon into the shape of the bedroom in Alonso Quijana's home. The lights altered to bounce off the cyc in a way that emulated shafts of dying sun, as the bed and its occupant—Don Quixote—are revealed to the audience. Quixote's eyes, looking like windows on a mind that has retreated to some secret place, fluttered and then opened.
Antonia/Claire: (Voice low, talking to Carrasco) Can you do *nothing*?
Padre/Clark: (With soft compassion) I'm afraid there'll be more need of my services than Dr. Carrosco's. (Waves a hand slowly across Quixote's unseeing eyes) Where is he, I wonder? In what dark cavern of the mind?
Dr. Carrasco/Scott: According to recent theory-
Padre/Clark: Doctor. Please.
Dr. Carrasco/Scott: (Resentfully) Don't you think I did right?
Padre/Clark: (Sighing) Yes. There's the contradiction.
Donald Botts, finally fulfilling his life long dream to portray the role of Sancho entered the 'bedroom' with his hat timidly in his hand.
Antonia/Claire: You again?
Dr. Carrasco/Scott: Tell him to go away.
Padre/Clark: (Wearily) What harm can he do?
Antonia/Claire: Yes—it's all been done! (She lets him pass, grudgingly)
Sancho/Donald: (Bobbing his head to the Padre) Your Reverence. Could I talk to him?
Claire, whose next line was several minutes off, watched the cohorts—the Smallville players of 2121 and the Smallville players of 1994— edge slowly and deliberately closer to the end of the show. This had been an incredible journey—a journey of time and of understanding. Her father was right—knowing your past is the best way to value your future.
She looked over at her father as he lay in the bed 'dying'. Claire had thought she had lost him; and now he was found, and so was she. Her eyes took in the others. Clark—knowing him had been a way to look into her own father's soul, and Lois—being with her was like having her mother back.
Scott, playing the role once occupied by Tempus, looked at Claire. She took Scott's hand, and squeezed it. They were soon going home—home to a better world.
Quixote rose up and looked at Aldonza.
Aldonza/Lois: (In protest as he rises) My lord, you are not well!
Don Quixote/Wil: (Growing in power) Not well? What is sickness to the body of a knight-errant? What matter wounds? For each time he falls he shall rise again—and woe to the wicked! (A lusty bellow) Sancho!
Sancho/Donald: Here, Your Grace!
Don Quixote/Wil: My armor! My sword.
Sancho/Donald: (Delightedly, clapping his hands) More misadventures!
Don Quixote/Wil: Adventures, old friend. (Rising with support of Aldonza/Lois and Sancho/Donald—he sings)
Oh the trumpets of glory now call me to ride, Yes, the trumpets are calling to me, And wherever I ride, ever staunch at my side, My squire and my lady shall be.
I am I, Don Quixote-
Aldonza/Lois and Sancho/Donald joined him.
The Lord of La Mancha, Our destiny calls and we go! And the wild winds of fortune shall carry us onward Oh, Whithersoever…(Don Quixote falters)
Aldonza/Lois: (Cries out apprehensively) My lord—!
Don Quixote/Wil: (Trying to reassure them)
Whithersoever they blow, Onward to glory— (He falls to his knees)
…I…go… (He crumples to the floor)
Dr. Carrasco/Scott pushed Aldonza aside and knelt to Don Quixote's left. He bent over and placed his ear to Quixote's heart, then rose and moved to Antonia/Claire, who was weeping softly. He lifted her bent face and kissed her lips gently. This was their first stage kiss and as Scott looked into Claire's eyes, he knew that this was not going to be their last—either on stage or off.
The Padre came to Quixote and knelt. He crossed himself and chanted.
De profundis clama ad te Domine, Domine.
Aldonza walked slowly to Sancho.
Audi vocem meam Feam aures tuae intentae Ad vacem obse creationis meae Si delictarum Memoriam Serva neris…
Sancho/Donald: (Stunned, pathetically) He is dead. My master is dead.
Aldonza/Lois: (Quietly) A man died. He seemed a good man, but I did not know him.
Aldonza/Lois: Don Quixote is not dead. This man is dead, but Don Quixote lives. Believe, Sancho. Believe.
Lois looked over at Clark, whose cowl hid from the audience the loving glance he gave to his wife. Yes, they now had so much to believe in. Was it only seven months ago that she had arrived in Smallville alone, and now here on this stage she had gained love, a family, friends and a belief in a glorious future to come.
Sancho/Donald: (In confused hope) Aldonza…?
Aldonza/Lois: (Gently) My name is Dulcinea.
Back stage, Jonathan Kent was readying the stairway; and up in the booth, Jimmy handling the computerize light board and Rod Purcell, his hand poised over the sound board, all heard their cue and moved appropriate levers or pushed appropriate buttons.
In the dressing room, Linda looked at the woman in front of her and tilted her head. "I know!" she exclaimed to Kia, who was helping the woman remove her current clothing; and moving quickly to the wardrobe closet, removed a gray tattered muslin dress. "This one was really too big for Claire, but it will fit you beautifully," she explained as she took in the woman's condition.
The on-stage lights went out, and in the darkness came the snarling roll of the drums of the Inquisition as the prisoners took their places. The drums gave way to the clanging of chain on chain as the stairway ground slowly into position, and the lights faded up on the prison.
The Captain entered at the head of the men of the Inquisition. They descended to the vault.
Wil, now readying to take on the role of Cervantes, kneeled and removed the Don Quixote beard and make-up.
Captain/Dan: (Unrolling a scroll) Under authority of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, (Reading) 'By reason of certain offenses committed against His Majesty's Most Catholic church, the following is summoned to give answer and submit his person for purification if it be so ordered: Don Miguel de Cervantes.'
Cervantes/Wil: (With wry bravado) How popular a defendant I am. Summoned by one court before I've quite finished with another. Well? How says the Judge?
The Governor/Larry: (Musingly, weighing the package he now held in his hands) I think I know what this contains. The history of your mad knight? (Cervantes nods assent. The Governor hands him the package) Plead as well there as you did here and you may not burn.
Cervantes/Wil: I've no intention of burning. (To his manservant) Well, old friend? Shall we go? (Reassuring him) Courage!
The two walked to the stairs. Wil turned back toward all the prisoners gathered in the great room. He looked at Clark, then Lois and lastly his eyes rested on his daughter, Claire. For just a second he let his mind wander. He remembered again the words his own father had said to him. 'Theatre is more than bricks and mortar. It is drama, and passion, mystery and comedy and life. And life must go on.' And because of all of them, life would definitely go on.
He took a few steps up the stairs.
The Governor/Larry: Cervantes. (Cervantes pauses) I think Don Quixote is brother to Don Miguel.
Cervantes/Wil: (Turning back and smiling) God help us—we are both men of La Mancha.
The Captain, the hooded men, Cervantes, and Sancho ascended the stairs.
Aldonza/Lois: (Singing, softly at first)
To dream the impossible dream, To fight the unbeatable foe,
The other prisoners joined in one by one, their backs to the audience and their eyes following Cervantes as he climbed the stairs to his fate.
To bear with unbearable sorrow, To run where the brave dare not go.
Kia draped a shawl over the additional actress' shoulder and stood in the wings as she watched Karen Kent inch slowly onto the stage to add her voice to the chorus already singing.
To run where the brave dare not go, Though the goal be forever too far, To try, though you're wayworn and weary, To reach the unreachable star…
Out at the back of the house, Martha Kent, watching the performance reach its climax, had tears in her eyes. Martha could hear several of the audience members sniffling as well. This was what theatre was supposed to be—a view into the humanity of man—a glimpse at who those who watch are and what humankind can ultimately become. H.G. Wells removed his hat and entered the auditorium to stand beside Martha. "She's on stage," he said softly.
Martha turned and smiled at him through her tears. "How…how…?"
H.G. Wells indicated the theatre and its actors on stage in an inclusive gesture. "You should appreciate this more than anyone, Mrs. Kent—nothing's impossible."
As the music swelled to include the full chorus, Wil turned once more to look down at the assembled prisoners. A well- known pair of eyes caught his attention.
Amidst the prisoners, Claire watching her father, and knowing every gesture, every expression, every single nuance, saw something different. Following his gaze, she turned slightly and her heart stopped.
The prisoners moved closer together as they looked up at Cervantes, and then, as their blocking called for, reached out to take one another's hands. Karen and Claire found each other and grabbing on, smiled up at Wil, who although he yearned to run down to both of them, held steadfast.
Karen put her hand on her protruding belly. She smiled again at the daughter who stood next to her—the young girl who had become a young woman. "It's going to be a boy," Karen whispered, beaming, "and I think we're going to name him 'Wells'".
"Wells, that's me!!!!" The little boy yelled out, gleefully.
"Now Roddy, you know that the story is talking about your Uncle Wells—Wells Kent. You're Roderick Wells Purcell," Claire told her son, smiling at him.
"Come on!" her husband, Scott, called out as he walked down the stairs into their living room. "We'll be late. The curtain goes up at 8:00 promptly and it takes forever to get our make-up on."
"Just two more minutes," Claire said to her husband and turned the final page.
Lois saw Claire and Karen clinging to each other, then smiling, took Clark's hand.
The brand new father to be, his back to the audience, moved his wife's hand up to his lips and gently kissed it. Then the Kents, present and future—knowing their posterity was assured—joined all the other actors as they turned to face the audience for one last time.
To reach the unreachable star, Though you know it's impossibly high, To live with your heart striving upward To a far, unattainable sky!
'Arsenic and Old Lace' by Joseph Kesselring (1940)
'The Man of La Mancha' by Dale Wasserman — Music and Lyrics by Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh (1966)
'Just in Time' by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne (1956)
Review of 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' James Zwick Harper's Magazine (1890)
'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' by Samuel Clemmons AKA Mark Twain (1889)
'Wait Until Dark' by Frederick Knott (1964)
Robert F. Kennedy Eulogy by Edward Kennedy (1968)
Ronald Colman web site: http://themave.com/Colman/rc.htm
'Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman' by Deborah Joy LeVine et. al. (1993- 1997)
The theatrical terms in the following glossary were obtained and edited from http://www.theatrecrafts.com/glossary/glossary.shtml
Glossary: (some of these may be obvious, but I thought I would include a range of terms that might be helpful)
AD LIB The presence of mind by an actor to improvise when; 1) another actor fails to enter on cue. 2) the normal progress of the play is disturbed. 3) lines are forgotten.
AUDITION Process where the director or casting director of a production asks actors / actresses / performers to show him/her what they can do. Sometimes very nerve- wracking, but auditions can be a fairly painless process if handled properly.
AUDITORIUM The part of the theatre accommodating the audience during the performance. Sometimes known as the "house". From the Latin Audio — "I hear".
BACKSTAGE The part of the stage and theatre which is out of the sight of the audience. The service areas of the theatre.
BARNDOORS A rotatable attachment consisting of two or four metal flaps (hinged) which is fixed to the front of a Fresnel or PC type lantern to cut off the beam in a particular direction(s). Similar to shutters or large doors, hence the name.
BLOCKING The process of arranging moves to be made by the actors during the play, recorded by stage management in the prompt script. Positions at the start of scenes are noted, as are all movements around the stage (using terms such as "Gardener X DSL" meaning the Gardener crosses to downstage left.)
BOARDS Slang term for the stage floor. (e.g. "How long have you been treading the boards?").
BREAK A LEG A superstitious and widely accepted alternative to "Good Luck" (which is considered bad luck). More available at the link below.
CANS 1) Headset ear piece, microphone and belt pack used for communication and co- ordination of technical departments during a performance. (e.g. "Electrics on cans", "Going off cans", "Quiet on cans!"). 2) Any headsets.
CATWALK An access walkway to equipment, usually high above the auditorium. Unlike a Bridge, not necessarily across a void.
CENTER STAGE The middle portion of the stage — has good sight lines to all seats of the auditorium.
COSTUMES Clothes worn by the actors onstage.
CUE The command given to technical departments to carry out a particular operation. E.g. Fly Cue or Sound Cue. Normally given by stage management, but may be taken directly from the action (i.e. a Visual Cue).
CYCLORAMA Usually shortened to just "cyc" (pronounced sike). The Cyclorama is a curved plain cloth or plastered wall filling the rear of the stage. Often used as a "sky" backing to a traditional set, or as the main backing for a dance piece etc. The term is often loosely applied to a blue sky cloth, or any flattage at the rear of the stage. Although strictly a cyc should be curved, most cycs are flat with curved wraparound ends. From Greek Cyclos (circle) and Horama (view or vision).
DOWNSTAGE 1) The part of the stage nearest to the audience (the lowest part of a raked stage). 2) A movement towards the audience (in a proscenium theatre).
DRESS REHEARSAL A full rehearsal, with all technical elements brought together. The performance as it will be "on the night".
DYSTOPIA (not a theatrical term, but included here as an explanation) 1) The state in which the condition of life is extremely bad as from deprivation or oppression or terror. 2) The opposite of utopia—the ideally perfect state; especially in its social and political and moral aspects. 3) A work of fiction describing an imaginary place where life is extremely bad because of deprivation or oppression or terror.
ELECTRIC In the US, LX bars are ELECTRICs bars. LX1 in the UK (first bar upstage of the proscenium arch) is FIRST ELECTRIC in the US.
ELLIPSOIDAL A profile lantern with an elliptical reflector. Referred to as a LEKO.
ELYSIUM (not a theatrical term, but provided for benefit of the reader) 1) A dwelling place assigned to happy souls after death; the seat of future happiness; Paradise. 2) Hence, any delightful place. An Elysian more pure and bright than that of the Greeks. —I. Taylor.
FLAT A lightweight timber frame covered with scenic canvas. Now usually covered with plywood or hardboard and consequently not so lightweight. Most theatres have a range of stock flattage made to a standard size, and re-used many times.
FOOTLIGHTS A compartmentalized batten sometimes recessed into the front edge of the stage, used to neutralize shadows cast by overhead lighting. Modern lighting equipment renders footlights virtually obsolete except for period/special effects. But still utilized as a term that signifies the separation between actors and audience.
FRESNEL (pronounced "Fre-nell") A type of lantern which produces an even, soft-edged beam of light through a Fresnel lens. The lens is a series of stepped concentric circles on the front and pebbled on the back and is named after its French inventor, Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788- 1827).
GEL A sheet of plastic usually composed of a colored resin sandwiched between two clear pieces. Originally made of gelatin. The colored filter absorbs all the colors of light except the color of the filter itself, which it allows through. For this reason, denser colors get very hot, and can burn out very quickly.
GENIE (Trade Name) A range of mobile access platforms with either hand-cranked or compressed air lifting mechanisms.
GHOSTLIGHT / GHOST LIGHT A light left burning overnight on stage to keep friendly spirits illuminated and unfriendly spirits at bay. Also believed to keep the theatrical muse in a "dark" theatre, and to stop people tripping over bits of scenery when they come into the theatre in the morning.
HOUSE 1) The audience (e.g. "How big is the house tonight?"). 2) The auditorium (e.g. "The house is now open, please do not cross the stage").
MASKING Neutral material or designed scenery which defines the performance area and conceals the technical areas. (e.g. Masking flat)
OFFSTAGE 1) A movement towards the nearest side of the stage from the centre. (e.g. "Focus that spot offstage a bit please") 2) The area out of sight of the audience (e.g. "Get that donkey offstage!")
OKIES (not a theatrical term—but included here as an explanation) People from Oklahoma. Usually a derisive term meaning unsophisticated, dirt poor farmers. Comes to us from the Depression Era — the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
ONSTAGE A movement towards the center of the stage from the sides.
PIT The area housing the orchestra. Originally, a lower section between the front of the stage and the audience, although now describes any area around the stage housing the musicians.
PROPS (Properties) Furnishings, set dressings, and all items large and small which cannot be classified as scenery, electrics or wardrobe. Props handled by actors are known as hand props, props which are kept in an actors costume are known as personal props.
PROSCENIUM ARCH The opening in the wall which stands between stage and auditorium in some theatres; the picture frame through which the audience sees the play. The "fourth wall".
RAKED STAGE A sloping stage which is raised at the back (upstage) end. All theatres used to be built with raked stages as a matter of course. Today, the stage is often left flat and the auditorium is raked to improve the view of the stage from all seats. This led us to the upstage/downstage terms as the actor actually went up when he/she moved away from the audience, and down when moving toward them.
REHEARSAL (from Latin hirpex — "large rake used as a harrow". Rehearse means "re-harrow", or to "go over again". It originally meant "to repeat" (mid 14th century). It wasn't until the late 16th century that it came to it's modern meaning.) A session when actors are called to work through some scenes from the play in private. A TECHNICAL REHEARSAL is the first time when technical elements (lighting, set etc.) are combined with actors. A DRESS REHEARSAL is a performance of the show as it will be on opening night.
SET 1) To prepare the stage for action.(verb) — e.g. "Have you set the chairs for Act 1?" 2) The complete stage setting for a scene or act. (noun) — e.g. "What's the set for the finale?" French: dUcors.
SIGHTLINES A series of lines drawn on plan and section to show how much of the stage can be seen by the extreme seating positions in the auditorium. Often marked in the wings as a guide to the actors and crew.
STAGE LEFT / RIGHT Left/ Right as seen from the Actor's point of view on stage. (i.e. Stage Left is the right side of the stage when looking from the auditorium.) Stage Right = OP (Opposite Prompt) French: CotU Jardin, Netherlands: Toneel Links (translates to Stage Left!). Stage Left = PS (Prompt Side) French: CotU Cour, Netherlands: Toneel Rechts (translates to Stage Right!). Note: The Netherlands and Germany use the opposite to the rest of Europe; i.e. Stage Left UK = Stage Right. The directions are seen from the director's perspective, NOT the actors.
STRIKE 1) To disassemble a stage set, to remove props from the stage. (e.g. "How many crew do you need for the strike", "Strike the armchair after scene 1" etc.) 2) The act of turning on a discharge lamp (e.g. "Make sure you strike the follow spot at the half").
UPSTAGE 1) The part of the stage furthest from the audience. 2) When an actor moves upstage of another and causes the victim to turn away from the audience he is "upstaging". Also, an actor drawing attention to himself away from the main action (by moving around, or over- reacting to onstage events) is upstaging.
WINGS Sides of the stage.