If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman
If I’m alive and well, will you be there holding my hand
I’ll keep you by my side with My superhuman might
– Kryptonite, 3 Doors Down
“Found anything useful?,” she asked as she looked over at Clark where he continued his web search on the new wireless laptop she had bought to help him more than herself. For the past ten days, she had watched stuffy men climbing in and out of the hidden basement as they carted out the finds,taking photographs of every inch of the room before moving so much as a single rifle, or a piece of yellowed paper.
Then the treasury people came for the gold, and by the time they gave her a percentage of the find, after taxes of course,Bart was all but choking with envy as he could do nothing but gape as she paid off her mortgage, and padded her savings and checkings accounts well into the next century.
Then came the reporters, who insisted on seeing everything, though Clark managed to always be somewhere else most of the time, and avoided the photographers when he was around with a skill he had likely honed in his own world.
Unfortunately, the few funny books she found of his ‘character’ had nothing about his current extra-dimensional traveling, and so he focused on the net, but was finding it hard to pinpoint anyone of Chinese descent who was studying the use of spatial frequencies.
“Not yet. Considering the insular governments here, however, its little wonder that not everything is immediately available…”
“What is it?,” she asked.
“I thought I heard the same sound again for a minute,” he told her as he lifted his head. “It was pretty faint. Obviously far off, but…”
“Do you think it might be the same source, then?”
“It might be weak, but I know the pitch,” he told her as he closed the laptop. “It’s the same sound,” he told her.
He started for the door, then stopped. “It’s gone again,” he sighed.
“If it happened twice, it’ll happen again,” she assured him as she flipped over the channels she watched now that she had power, and cable back on.
“I’m sure if we’re patient enough…”
“Wait. Look, this is the same man I told you about,” she said, pointing at the brief cameo of an advertisement for a program later that week.
“…can potentially pierce the layers of spatial fabric that quantum physics now tells us lines our universe,” the lean, Chinese man in a dark jacket was saying as he stood before a blackboard filled with seemingly arcane formulae.
“Dr. Chang Li,” Clark murmured, reading the man’s name beneath the screen. “Beijing University.”
“That helps, right,” she asked, muting the sound as the commercial went on to someone else in a tweed suit explaining the history of research into sound.
“A great deal,” he said even as he frowned, and looked up.
“What now,” she asked.
“A helicopter is coming in low. I think it’s headed here.It’s a government aircraft,” he added as he looked back at her.
“I thought the treasury was finished assessing all the gold they carried out of here,” she smiled. “God knows, I’ll never spend all the money I’ve made off this find even after all the taxes and fees they made me pay.Thanks to you,” she added, not mentioning that her family had been calling quite regularly in the past few days, all wanting to wish her luck, and less than subtly suggesting investments that she might wish to make.She had already decided she was going to send each of her children a percentage of her windfall, and live off the rest herself. “Clark?,” she asked when he glanced up again.
“I don’t think it’s the Treasury.”
“Oh, no. You don’t think…?”
“I’ll find out soon enough,” he told her as the sounds of an approaching helicopter filled her ears now. How he could see and hear so far off was still nothing short of amazing to her, but she was getting used to him by now.
Especially after he helped rebuild her house, car, and fence in days after she bought the necessary materials. He could make a fortune as a handy man if he wanted. Still, she had heard of some late night exploits across the country on the news lately that told her he was far more than just a handy man. Drunk drivers claiming they were miraculously saved by angels. A little girl lost for three days in the woods north of them suddenly found. Hikers lost in a bad snowstorm in the mountains to the west suddenly waking up at an aid station with no idea how they had gotten there. Lots of peculiar stories, and enough to tell her that Clark obviously didn’t sleep anymore than he ate if she was not watching.
“I made something for you,” she told him as he stared though the wall. “Just in case,” she smiled a bit uneasily, pulling out a small bundle of cloth folded over something else.”I thought, the way you said you kept losing your shirt an all, it couldn’t hurt.”
He looked at the very realistic copy of his own costume, and smiled. “It’s very nice. I think it’d be hard to keep low-key though.”
“I was thinking of what you said before. About being who and what you are wherever you go,” she said a bit quietly as the helicopter settled down just outside her main house near the barn.
“You might have a point,” he told Laura. “Excuse me a moment,” he said, taking the costume from her hands, and vanishing down the hall in a blur of speed. He was back in the next instant, still in his jeans and flannel shirt, but no longer holding the costume.
“I thought….?” He smiled as he pulled back the collar of his shirt, showing the expanse of blue material now covering his broad chest under the flannel shirt.
Laura grinned at him even as someone knocked on her back door. “Who is it,” she asked as they both headed toward the back door.
“Homeland Security, ma’am,” the man said. “We’d like to speak to you, if we could.”
“Of course,” she said as she opened the door.
“And you must be Clark,” the bear of a man drawled as he eyed Clark when Laura pushed the door open.
“You know my name,” he asked blandly as he stood beside Laura.
“I know your face. Your name is still open to debate,” the director of Homeland Security said as the woman behind him stared intently at him, obviously ready to act the moment he made the wrong move.
“My face,” Clark echoed.
“We have pictures from a bar on the east coast where you dropped several armed bangers with no more effort than you used to take out three navy jets over the Atlantic.”
“That was…a misunderstanding,” Clark told him, not bothering to feign innocence. This man was obviously canny enough to know who he was. Or at least, who he thought he was.
“So you say. Why not come with us? I’m sure the President would love to hear your explanations,” he told Clark curtly.
“Suppose I told you I can’t afford to do that? That it’s best if no one officially finds out who I am, or that I’m even here?”
“Mister, whoever you are, whatever you are, the scenarios I’ve heard lately surrounding your presence are not good. Not good at all. You have our entire military on full alert, looking for your next attack.”
“That was not an attack,” Clark sighed. “I told you, it was a misunderstanding. I wasn’t fully in control of my abilities at the time, since I experienced . . .” He let the man draw his pistol.
“Now, this might not work on you, but maybe you’d prefer you didn’t get this woman shot,” James growled.
“All right,” Clark growled. “That’s enough.” Before the agents could blink, they were both disarmed, and Clark dropped two shapeless lumps of metal on the kitchen table as he stepped back, and pointed to the chairs. “Sit,” he ordered them.
James stared hard at the metal paperweights, but before he could make his own decision, Anna launched a potentially devastating kick at the man. James knew his agent was a skilled martial artist. The way she went down, howling as she clutched at her ankle, told him all he needed to know.
“I’ll get some alcohol,” Laura told the woman now sitting on the floor where she landed with a chagrined expression. “It’ll help the swelling.”
“Sit,” Clark told James again. “And I’ll try to satisfy you without starting something neither of us wants to happen.”
James carefully sat down. The big man said nothing as the agent reached out to heft his crushed semi automatic.
“Realistically, there should be no way in hell you could possibly do this.”
“True. Yet you know I stopped armed gunmen, and faced down your fighter jets. Why come here alone, without backup?” “How do you know we did,” Anna hissed, still holding her ankle as she sat on the floor.
He smiled thinly as he glanced down at her. “Don’t worry. It’s not broken. It’s just a light sprain. You’ll be fine in a few days.”
“How do you know-?”
“Trust him, sweetie,” Laura returned with alcohol, and an elastic bandage for her. “Clark here is a man of many talents.”
“So we have seen. I take it you dug up that buried treasure for Mrs. Hastings?”
“It was on her property,” he shrugged.
“All right. We obviously can’t compel you. We damn sure can’t dent you,” James glowered. “So just what are you willing to tell us?”
“You aren’t going to believe me, but I ask you keep an open mind until I finish.”
“All right. Shoot,” he said as Laura helped Anna to a chair.
“You’re kidding,” Anna finally said, being the one to speak fifteen minutes later after he had finished telling them an abbreviated version of how he had ended up on their world.
“I don’t think he is,” James told her. “So-You’re the Man of Steel from another dimension where comic heroes are real?”
“I would think you’ve seen enough to convince you that I am telling you the truth,” he told the man.
“So, let’s say I accept your claim. How do you think it’ll look if I go back to D.C., and tell my commander-in-chief that Superman crossed over from his dimension into ours? That he’s real, and living right here in our world now?”
“I can guess,” Clark told him quietly. “However, it’s not my intent to set up house here. I’m still looking for a way to get back home.
“And I think it’s connected to a Chinese scientist’s sonic experiments that may have brought me here in the first place.”
“Right,” Anna drawled. “Like we’re going to swallow that one.”
Clark sighed. “Whatever you think, all that really concerns me is trying to get back to my world. To my home.”
James studied him across the table where he had sit down after a few moments as he had spoke to him with such quiet assurance that he had found himself believing every unbelievable word. Yet he had seen, or rather experienced the man’s speed and strength firsthand. He had not even seen him snatch that gun from his hand, yet he had. Just as he had seen him crush it into a lump of useless metal. Along with Anna’s favored magnum.
“Suppose I believe you,” he said, holding up a hand to quiet Anna’s outburst. “Just what do you expect me to do? I have people to answer to myself, and they aren’t going to stop looking for you even if I went back and told them God Himself was here just looking around.”
“I have a lead on the scientist that may have inadvertently brought me here,” he told him. “I plan on going to see him very soon. If he can’t help. Or is unable to immediately help me, then I’ll speak with any of your superiors you want on my terms. “But only on my terms.”
“And what are your terms,” Anna asked rather nastily after Laura had finished wrapping her ankle, and even produced an old cane for her to use.
Clark smiled. “I’m not a weapon, nor will I be used as one.However, I do want to assure you, I’m not here to hurt anyone.”
“Tell that to the three pilots you downed.”
“As I said, that was inadvertent. Apparently, my power levels are somewhat elevated in this dimension, and I had to readjust my control over them. Still, if they hadn’t attacked me without provocation, I never would have faced them at all. I do believe I was over international waters at the time, after all.”
Anna opened her mouth, but said nothing as she looked at James.
“He’s got us there. Still, with the current threat from extremists we’re facing these days, we have to be careful,” he added. “So you can perhaps understand that our military is a bit edgy when it comes to strange flying phenomena in our skies.”
“Are you buying this?”
“Then, too, there is the matter of certain thefts in your wake,” he added.
“Yes, I regret that, but I couldn’t too well run about naked,” he said. “That would have drawn even more attention than I wanted.And once I earned a few dollars, I discreetly dropped off payment for anything I ‘borrowed’ from people along the way.”
“Hmmph,” Anna snorted.
“Ease up, Agent Graves. All things considered, I think we’re going to have to take his word.”
“I can vouch for him,” Laura said, turning from the teapot where she had made tea for them, though only she was drinking it. “Clark is an honest man, and a kind one, too.
“I happen to know he’s saved….” Clark’s expression stopped her, and Laura smiled, amending her words so she finished rather lamely, “He’s saved a few people who needed help right around here.”
Silence fell over the small group, and James kept staring at the apparent extra-dimensional hero without saying anything. Several times he would start to speak, but only shook his head. Anna merely fumed, obviously not liking the situation at all.
Which was when his cell rang.