By Classicalla <email@example.com>
Submitted: October 2006
Summary: In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, death and sadness surround Clark on all sides.
Wham. There is no death of a major character but death and sadness surrounds Clark on all sides.
This story came to me as I watching newscasts commemorating the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
<Denotes telepathic thought>
Disclaimer: The familiar characters and settings belong to DC Comics, Warner Bros., December 3rd Productions and anyone else who may have any legal right to claim them. I am not profiting by their use.
Louisiana, or at least what I can see of it, looks worse than a war zone. I wonder if Mississippi looks as bad. Maybe they don't have so much water everywhere. Who would think water could be such a devastating enemy? The hurricane was awful, but the water…
What good am I? All these powers, and I couldn't stop it. I couldn't stop it!!
No, no! You can't start crying again. You've already done that. Did it help? No!
If the hurricane had been smaller… Maybe I could have redirected it… Broken it up. But Hurricane Katrina was different. She was angry — so very, very angry. And Katrina was so huge. What do categories matter? She was a monster.
And the levees… They just needed too much work. There wasn't enough time to even begin. I mean… I tried to do what I could with the levees. But I'm just one man. Superman, yes, but I'm still just one man.
This is one of the worse things I've ever seen.
And I've seen so many horrible things. Sometimes I wonder how I can remain an upbeat person with some of the things I've seen. But this… I'm definitely not upbeat right now.
I managed to rescue a few people… and a little girl's poor, little puppy. Fourteen people. Fourteen people among a sea of people. But still… Fourteen people who might have been dead if not for me.
Now I stand on the roof of this office building. I watch the water. The water. People in the water. People that I could have rescued.
I watch people on the bit of dry ground that I can see. They are hungry. They are thirsty.
They are defeated.
Two of them wave at me. One of them asks my name. I don't know what to say. Finally, I just say, "Kal."
Rescue efforts… What has gone so terribly wrong? Where is everyone? I stand on this building, and I feel helpless. I *am* helpless.
Oh, my head hurts. It's so hot here. Ungodly hot.
Who would think that someone would take such horrible advantage of this situation? Someone that I thought was dead. But he just keeps coming back.
I believed he was a man in need of rescue. He had blood all over him. Real blood. I could smell it! It just wasn't *his* blood.
When I landed on this building, he exposed me to kryptonite. And then to make sure I couldn't get away from the kryptonite, he put me in handcuffs and leg irons.
He had his henchman strip me. The man cut my clothing off with a knife.
Lex Luthor wanted to leave me humiliated.
How did he even get to this rooftop without being seen? He may not have been noticed when he arrived, but he was certainly noticed when he left. I remember hearing people screaming for those in the helicopter to help them.
They didn't get any help. Another monster — a maniacal monster — left people in shreds of desperation.
I now realize that Lois' talent of opening locks is a good one to have. I'll have to have her teach me. I guess I should have already learned how. But future knowledge won't help me now.
The handcuffs, too small and very tight, have left both my wrists bloody and raw. It's taken me three days to get one of them off. Dislocating my thumb didn't do the trick so I finally took desperate measures. I broke my thumb and the bones in my left hand in order to slide the cuff off my wrist. That wasn't an easy feat for a man in my weakened condition. I don't know what's worse — the broken hand that is now free of the cuff, or the wrist that is still tightly squeezed by a band of metal. After I got the one handcuff off, I managed to stretch out my arm far enough to get to the kryptonite. I threw it to the other side of the roof. I couldn't get it any further. Then I went about the task of re-setting the bones in my hand.
Kryptonite has left me vulnerable to the sun. The sun, which gives me my awesome power, has left me burned and blistered.
I'm still attached to the leg irons which are connected to a pole on the building. My left hand hurts so badly I can hardly move it. At least it *was* numb. The feeling is starting to come back now, but maybe that's good. Then I can start to work on getting the leg irons loose.
I feel so weak. I wonder how I even managed to stand up. This building has a ledge that is higher than the roof, so at least no one has seen my nakedness. This really means nothing, though, when it comes to saving lives. If I could, I would begin helping these forgotten ones right now, clothing or no clothing.
The worst part of the past few days has been hearing people crying for help. People crying for Superman. I don't think I could have taken it if people realized that it *was* Superman on this building.
I want so badly to help these people. But the last time I had a kryptonite exposure like this it took me two weeks to get over it. The sun continues to burn me, but I look at my left hand and see and feel that it has started to slightly heal. Maybe… I feel a surge of hope. Maybe, since my hand is starting to heal a little… No. The tears that I held back earlier flow freely now. I need to fly to get these people out of here, and I can't do that right now. The pain and the weakness force me to sit down.
I, like most of these people here, don't know if my family is okay. They know nothing of my whereabouts. I've been in and out of consciousness, but I at least tried to warn my sons of danger. I don't know if my telepathic message reached them. I don't know if Lois understood the cryptic message.
Oh, Lois! I so wish she was telepathic right now. I wish I could ask her why there isn't any help here. I don't want to ask my children that question. I try to contact them, but I'm so tired. I feel exhausted from all this — especially from the effort of breaking and re-setting my hand. And I'm in such pain. I don't want to sleep, but I… Just as I slip into unconsciousness again, I vaguely perceive, <Daddy, Daddy?>
I awake with a start. The sun is over head. When I fell asleep, the sun was just beginning to set. Another day. Or…has it been longer than that?
Someone is coming up the stairs of the building. I'm frightened. No… Not Lex Luthor! No! I have to get back to Lois. My babies.. I… I don't want to die.
Relief! I'm so relieved. Thank God! It's not Lex Luthor.
The man runs to me. "Who did this to you?! Oh, crap."
The rescue worker hands me his own shirt. He's bigger than I am so I should be able to tie it around me. Tarzan, King of the Jungle! It's strange the bizarre thoughts a person can have at times like these. I'm so shaky that the rescue worker has to help me. The kryptonite is still far too close to me.
"I'm gonna go try to find something to get this handcuff and these leg irons off of you."
The other man that arrives must be a police officer because he uses a key to remove the leg irons and the remaining hand cuff. I gasp in pain as he removes them. The flesh is still very raw and bloody.
"Sorry, man. I know that must have hurt. Damn, bloody crime scene in the middle of a disaster. You… look familiar. What's your name?"
"Kal. My name is Kal."
Recognition hits the man. "As in Kal-El? Holy crap! I guess the question now is, *how* did someone do this to you?"
"Hmm… It wasn't easy. But it can happen." I don't want to tell him about kryptonite.
He looks at me and says, "Kryptonite?" I shrug and nod. He already knows about it. "Didn't realize it was that deadly to you. That the green stuff over there?"
"Yes. I managed to get it away from me when I got my hand loose. Can you keep the kryptonite issue to yourself?"
"Yeah. Name's Tom. I'll make sure no one finds it. When you're ready, you come find me. I'll leave it up to you to dispose of it."
"Thank you, Tom."
"Can you stand up, Superman?"
"I think so. I did yesterday." I close my eyes and pause as I try to remember. "At least I think it was yesterday."
"Have you been up here like this since you rescued those people?"
Mike said, "Tom, did I hear you say Superman?"
Tom said, "Yes, Mike. This is Superman."
"How…" Mike says in wonder.
Tom answers abruptly, "Never mind. Let's just keep this quiet until we can get him out of here. Okay?" He turns back to me. "Can we call you Kal for right now?"
I nod. "Yes. That is my name — or at least a shortened version of it."
Standing up is harder than I think. When I try to take a step, I almost fall. Mike and Tom help to steady me.
Mike calls on the radio. "This one's hurt. Gonna need help. He can't walk. I think a helicopter might be warranted."
"No! Use the helicopter for someone else. Just… give me a minute for the feeling to return to my feet." I start to walk to the stairwell. I notice as Tom puts the kryptonite in his pocket. Mike helps me down the stairs. Finally, after several agonizing minutes, I reach the first floor of the building.
Rescue workers — heroes all — hand me a blanket. I hand Mike his shirt back. "Thanks, Mike." I manage a little grin.
I get out of the boat and am led to a make-shift medical care area where my wounds are cleaned and dressed. I'm given something to put on — a unisex shirt and pair of pants that medical folks call 'scrubs'.
The frazzled nurse says, "What's your name?"
"Well, uhh…I.." She looks at me expectantly. "I'm not sure you would believe me."
"What?" she says, with a bit of surprise.
I see an anchorman I know near by. I've already heard so many people asking where I am, and why I'm not doing something to help. I know I need to make a statement. Should I go ahead now? Yes, I think that I will. Lois needs to know I'm okay. "Uhhh… I'm Superman. Do you think I can talk to the fellow over there?" I point to Daniel Sammons.
"Are you serious?" The look on her face tells me she thinks I'm delusional from dehydration.
"I'm serious. Dan will know me." I hope. He has interviewed me before. I'm sure I must look like I've been through Hell.
She looks dubious but walks over to Daniel Sammons. "Mr. Sammons. There's a guy over there that wants to talk to you." She just shakes her head.
Dan and his cameraman walk over to me.
"Hi, Dan," I say quietly.
Dan just looks at me with shock on his face. He sits down beside me. "Someone did a number on you didn't they? And I know it must have been a *someone* — not a hurricane."
"Yes, I'll get to more of that later. I just thought that everyone might like to know where I've been."
"That's an understatement. You are very unpopular right now."
His cameraman questions, "Dan, who is this guy? Do you know him?"
Dan turns to him and says, "Yeah. Hold on a minute."
I swallow hard and say, "Let's make this brief. Okay? Very brief."
"Will you give me an exclusive later?"
"Hmmm… How about first dibs on the whole story?"
"Okay. Do you want to just make a brief statement then? No questions?"
I nod. Dan motions to his cameraman.
Dan says, "This is Daniel Sammons, live, for WBBB. I'm outside New Orleans, and I am sitting with someone who wants to make a statement. All of you know him." He nods at me.
"Hello. For those of you who may not recognize me at the moment, I'm Superman." I hug the blanket closer to me trying in some small way to comfort myself. "I'm very sorry I haven't been able to help. A very evil person took advantage of this terrible situation and hurt me. While this is nearly impossible to do, it *can* happen. I have been…" I pause, briefly unable to speak. I take a deep breath. "I've been chained to the top of a building in New Orleans for the past five days. I'd like to thank Mike and Tom, the rescuers who helped me. I also need to tell you that because of what has happened to me, I doubtfully will be able to be of any assistance for several days. I hope you can forgive me." I nod then hang my head. I don't want anyone to see the tears that are threatening to spill.
"This is Daniel Sammons, live, for WBBB. You have just heard Superman give a statement concerning his whereabouts. I'll return shortly with comments. Back to you, Maggie."
I start shivering — as much from my emotional state as from my burnt skin. I look at him desperately. "Dan, get me out of here. I hear people coming. They know I'm here somewhere."
Dan and his cameraman quickly hustle me out of the tent and into the camper they are using as a base of operations and as temporary living quarters.
Faster than I could have imagined, Lois finds me. I'm resting in the WBBB camper. I owe Dan a big favor. He's somehow managed to keep my whereabouts a secret. Before I give any other statements, I will make sure his exclusive with me airs. I'm a reporter, too. I know what that will mean to him.
Lois grabs me and hugs me fiercely. Dan is nearby so she can't call me 'Clark'. It's well known that Lois Lane and Clark Kent are friends of Superman's so Dan doesn't think it odd that she is glad to see me. She says, "Oh, Superman, you would not believe how worried your friends and… have been."
She is still holding me tightly, and because it hurts, I finally have to say, "Lois! Let go of me! I'm glad to see you, too, my friend." I'm unable to call her my wife.
As she lets go of me, she notices the first and second degree burns that cover my body. She says, "Oh, my!"
Dan smiles, "Hey, Lois, you should have seen him a couple of hours ago. He looks a tad bit better now. I figured Clark would show up. You leave him with the little ones?"
"Yes, he is with the children." She turns to me. "Well, the Planet helicopter is about ready to go back to… to some airfield in southern Kentucky to pick up another load of relief supplies. The Daily Planet corporate jet is waiting there to take you home to Metropolis. It looks like you need to see your doctor." She grins at me. "I take it you want to come with me?"
I let her see that my eyes are smiling, but I have no actual smile on my face. "Yes, Lois. I suppose I should make a visit to S.T.A.R. Labs."
I say nothing on the flight back to Metropolis. I just hope I can keep the *how* of what happened to me quiet. I'm pretty sure Tom will keep it quiet. He seems like a good man.
Jimmy was with Lois on the helicopter and stayed behind to retrieve the kryptonite. I spoke to Tom via radio so he would know that it was okay. I didn't get to say very much to Jimmy, but I could see that he also has been very worried. He has shared the 'secret' for a couple of years, so he understands the full gravity of the distress Lois has been feeling.
By the time I get back to Metropolis that evening, Lex Luthor has been captured. Or his clone has. No one is sure yet.
When he was arrested, he couldn't stop gloating about how he had killed Superman. It seems he hasn't seen the news.
When I arrive home, Lois shows me the shredded suit that had been sent to her at the Planet. The attached note simply states, 'He's dead.' Oh, my poor Lois.
I say, "I love you so much."
Then I rest. That's really all I *can* do right now.