“Making a Mountain Seem Like a Molehill”

Rated PG




1======Countdown Day 20.


Jon entered the front door whistling.  Martha said, “Okay, what’s going on?  Did that new UPS lady with the tight uniform bring you a package or something?”


Jon said, “Nothing like that.”


Martha said, “Well an hour ago, you were in a bad mood because the tractor broke down and Clara was away at college for the day and unable to help you.”


Jon said, “I might just give that old tractor away and buy a new one … with an air conditioned cab and a premium sound system.”


Martha said, “We couldn’t do that unless we touched the rent money that Clara gives us … and we swore that we would never touch that.”


Jon said, “We won’t have to.  I just sold ALL our crops at FOUR times the going rate.  Plus there is a ridiculous bonus if the crops are harvested and ready for pick-up in one week!  Three of our neighbors came by and asked if our night time crew … namely Clara, could help harvesting their crops …namely doing all the work for them.  If we agree and meet the deadline, they promised to give us half their bonuses and a cut of their profits.  I am sure that some of the other neighbors will want the same deal.  Clara could do it all in just a few days even if she had to do it with our junk tractor strapped to her back.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Luthors try to get into farming after this!  We’re in the money, Honey!”


Martha said, “Why would anyone in their right mind pay that kind of money for our food?”


Jon said, “The operative words are “right mind.”  It was a GOVERNMENT official.  Who can figure out why they do what they do.  This is almost as good as getting paid to NOT grow something!  Oh, and as an added bonus, the income from this transaction will be tax exempt!”


Martha said, “But even the government must have some reason for doing something like this.  Besides, if the government is spending taxpayer money wastefully, isn't it our duty as responsible citizens to point it out to them and the media AND refuse to profit by it?”


Jon said, “I have had far too many rough years working this farm to pass up a a chance to turn a profit.”





2======Countdown Day 19.


Clara had to stop work every time anyone drove by so that they wouldn’t see her pulling the farm equipment.  The constant interruptions almost made this harvest seem like work.  She was committed to helping 12 neighbors now and she couldn’t do it all at night and go to college and still manage to eat once in a while.  The latest passerby didn’t pass by at all.  He brought his sports car to an abrupt stop, parked the car on the side of the road and was jogging towards her at a fast pace.  Clara was getting frustrated by the entire situation.  She hadn’t done laundry in a few days so all she had on was some cut off blue jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt.  She said, “Damn it, what a time to be caught with only one shirt on and no bra!  I should make a run for it.  Why did HE of all people have to show up when I am so over-exposed?!  He needs all the discouragement he can get and this outfit will be like a bucket of gasoline thrown on a bonfire!”


Bruce Wayne yelled, “Clara!  Clara Kent!  This is urgent – no time for games.  I need to talk to you – NOW!”


Clara said, “Do I interrupt you when you’re working?  Do I keep you from that third martini during a business lunch?  NO I DON’T!  I’ve got work to do that I can’t do while you are here. I’m on a tight deadline.  I like to eat on occasion and every minute you spend here makes it less likely that I will have time for such luxuries.  I’ll NEVER forgive my Mother for giving you the idea that you stand even the slimmest chance with me!”  Bruce reached Clara and sank down on one knee in the dirt at her bare feet and took her hand.  She said, “You idiot!  That suit … those shoes … they must have cost a fortune!  Do you LIVE to waste money?  Don’t you know how to take care of what you own?  Or are you going to hand all your clothes to poor Alfred when you get home and make him clean up your mess for you?”


Bruce said, “My clothes are meaningless at a time like this.  PLEASE listen to me.  This is important!”


Clara said, “Okay, okay.  If it will make this go any faster, I’m listening.  Go ahead.”


Bruce said, “Clara Josephine Kent.  Would you please do me the great honor of becoming my wife?”


Clara said, “Oh, … let me think about it. … NO!!!”


Bruce said, “This isn’t a joke.  I’m more serious about this than I ever have been about anything.”


Clara said, “And so am I!  NO!  N … O … NO!”


Bruce said, “I have a minister standing by.  We could be married and on our honeymoon in Colorado by nightfall.”


Clara said, “Am I speaking English?  I said … Colorado?  A honeymoon in Colorado?  Dad is taking us to Hawaii if I get the crops in on time.  But I said, No!  That is, no to you but yes to Hawaii.”


Bruce said, “I would take you to Hawaii, but that isn’t possible now.”


Clara said, “That was yes to Dad and Hawaii but it would still be no to you and Hawaii.  Why can’t you understand what I am saying to you?”


Bruce said, “I love you Clara Kent.  I really do.  I'm not the man you think I am ... really I'm not!  I wish you had the time to find that out, but there is no time any more.”


Clara stood silently and stared down at Bruce for a couple minutes then said, “I don’t want to encourage you in any way, but what I am about to say is meant with all sincerity.  What you just said to me is very flattering and I appreciate you thinking of me so highly of me.  I don’t understand why you feel that way ... but it is really sweet and I really do appreciate it.  It’s just that if you treat some guys nice in any way they just follow you around like … like you are in love with them and that you’ll be their girlfriend or something … not that I have guys following me around or anything.  Anyway, I don’t like to be mean but I don’t want to be accused of leading anyone on.  So I appreciate what you said but I don’t feel that way about you … and I don’t think that you know me well enough to feel that way about me either.  Why don’t you go up to the house and let my Mom feed you something?  If I get a few minutes uninterrupted to do my work, I’ll even come in and let you stare at me some more.  Then we can talk for a while so you can see for yourself that I’m not that interesting and that I’m not the right person for you.  But right now, I really, REALLY have to get back to work.”


Bruce said, “You don’t have to be wasting your time in this field.  It won’t make any difference whether you harvest these crops or not.”


Clara said, “It’s my parent’s livelihood you are talking about.  They need the income to survive.”


Bruce said, “No they don’t.  Nothing you or they can do now will help them survive.  They are as good as dead right now.”




Bruce said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for that to come out.  It wasn’t a threat.  It’s just the way things are now.  I’d love to take your parents with us, but I can’t even take Alfred.  I used my influence to save you and myself, but they wouldn’t even allow you to come until I assured them that you were young and fit and of above average intelligence.  Only the strongest will survive the days ahead.”


Clara said, “GO … A … WAY!!!”


Bruce said, “I can’t go without you.  Come on!”


Clara said, “NO!!!  You have lost your mind!”  Bruce pulled at her arm but he couldn’t budge her.  He made a sudden move and emptied the contents of an aerosol spray can into her face.  Clara yelled, “YUCK!  That stinks!  What’s your problem!  You mental case!  And don’t you know that aerosol sprays are bad for the environment!”


Bruce said, “Don’t you get it, Girl Scout?  There isn’t going to BE an environment!”


Clara said, “What was that stuff?  Why did you do that?!”


Bruce said, “That should have been enough gas to knock out an elephant!”


Clara said, “AN ELEPHANT!  These pants don’t make my butt look that big!  You just don’t know when to stop, do you?  HEY!  Boy am I dense today!  Why are you trying to knock me out?  I said NO.  Were you planning to abduct me … or … OH MY GOD … FORCE YOURSELF ON ME!  I don’t even begin to know what to do with you.  You’re lucky I’m not like my friend Denise or I’d tie your male parts in a knot and shove them so far up ….”


Bruce interrupted, “ALL I’M TRYING TO DO IS SAVE YOUR LIFE!  If I can’t get you to go with me … I won’t go either.  I won’t live knowing that you were left here to die.  I really do love you.”


Clara said, “Tell me what this is about or go away.”


Bruce said, “I can’t tell you.  But please believe me, if you don’t take my offer, you WILL die … and so will I … because I’m not going without you.”


Clara said, “Go away.  Get some help, okay?  I have to work here.  No supper for me tonight.”


Bruce said, “I’ll leave my hot line phone number with your parents.”


Clara said, “Don’t go telling them anything that will scare them.  I’ll be watching you!”


Bruce said, “Please reconsider and give me a call.  But don’t wait too long.  There isn’t much time … for any of us.”  Bruce stared sadly at Clara.  Clara crossed her arms and stared coldly back at him.  Finally, he lowered his head, turned and slowly walked away.  When his car was over the next rise, Clara got back to work.






3======Countdown Day 17.


Clara drove to her parking spot next to the barn and ran into the house.  She yelled, “Mom, Dad!  Eve decided to marry Adam!  Isn’t that exciting!  I can stop work building Ken now and can spend the time on harvesting crops.  Eve wants me to perform a ceremony for them.  OOPS!  Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t know we had a guest.”


Martha said, “Clara, this is Professor Gabriel Adams.  He came to invite you to a seminar being held in Colorado.”


Clara said, “Really?  What’s the seminar about?”


Gabriel said, “Artificial intelligence.  We would like you to bring your robots Adam and Eve with you.  Do you have them here?”


Clara said, “No, they said they wanted to do some work at the lab tonight.  I think they just wanted to be alone to celebrate their engagement.  There was no point in them spending the night here anyway.  We could have talked on the way home and on the trip to school tomorrow, but I would be too busy to spend time with them tonight.  Maybe they would like to be married in Colorado.  Oh no, that’s right.  They wanted to be married on their grandparents’ farm.”


Gabriel said, “We can swing by and pick them up on our way to the bus station in Metropolis.  We’ve chartered a very nice bus.”


Clara said, “You don’t mean NOW do you?  I can’t go tonight.  I doubt that I can get finished with my work here before Friday!”


Gabriel said, “We have to leave tonight.”


Clara said, “I’ll go in a couple days.  If you are going by bus, I will be able to get there on my own before you even get there.  I promised to help several neighbors harvest their crops.”


Gabriel said, “I’m sorry, you’ll have to leave with me now.”


Clara said, “Why?”


Gabriel said, “We’ll need to talk on the way.  We want you to participate in panel discussions and maybe give a speech.  We’ll need time to prepare.”


Clara said, “Sorry.  My neighbors come first.  I’m committed.”


Gabriel said, “We really need you.”


Clara said, “So do my neighbors.”


Gabriel said, “This is more important.”


Clara said, “Having my help is more important to them than for me to be stuttering up in front of a crowd in Colorado … and it’s important to me that I keep my word.”


Jonathan had kept silent until this point but now he said, “Mr. Adams, my Daughter has made her mind up.  Just leave the address and she’ll meet you in Colorado.  She might even get there before you do.”


Clara said, “Hey!  Colorado.  This wouldn’t have anything to do with Bruce Wayne, would it?  And where is your car?  How did you get here?”

Gabriel said, “I don’t know a Mister Wayne … and my car broke down near here.  I called and our ride will be here soon.  Miss Kent, you’d better pack some clothes and get ready.”


Jonathan said, “Clara said she would join you in Colorado.”


Clara said, “I’m not going.  I don’t trust this man or the man I think he works for.  If there really is a seminar, they would learn more from me than I would from them ... so they have no business sending someone here who acts so rude and pushy with me.  Now, excuse me, Mr. Adams, but I have some crops to harvest and I really would like to have something to eat first for a change.”


Mr. Adams said, “You can eat on the way.”


Clara said, “I told you that I’m NOT going!”


Jonathan said, “Mr. Adams, I think that you should leave.”


Gabriel said, “Okay, I’ll leave.  But your Daughter has to come with me.”


Jonathan said, “Excuse me?!”


Gabriela pulled a gun and said, “Mr. Kent, your country needs your Daughter.”


Jonathan said, “For a seminar?!”

Gabriela said, “There is NO seminar.  The government is well aware of your daughter’s gifts and will need to make use of them if we are to survive.  They sent me to get her.”


Jonathan said, “You and what army?”


Gabriel said, “The United States Army.  The truck will be here in a moment.  Don’t worry Mr. Kent.”


Jonathan said, “My God!  This has been my greatest fear!  What do you intend to do with her?  You’ll have to kill me before I let you hurt her!”


Gabriel said, “We aren’t going to hurt her!  She’s a genius and she’s young and strong.  She is the kind of person we will need in the days ahead.”


Clara said, “I’m not going.”


Gabriel said, “You have to.  You’ve been drafted.”


Clara said, “If this was legitimate, you would have come right out and told me what was going on instead of lying to me.  Well, I’m pretty good at hide and seek.  Whatever is going on, it seems time related.  I’ll just go away and hide from you for a few days.”


Gabriel said, “Aren’t you forgetting that I have a gun in my hand?”


Clara said, “If you need me as much as you think you do, you won’t shoot me.”


Gabriel said, “That’s very true.  I wouldn’t even take the chance of superficially wounding you.  I will however shoot your parents.”


Clara said, “You wouldn’t!  You’re bluffing!”


Gabriel said, “No, I’m not.  They’ll be dead soon enough anyway.  It’s your choice.  Do they die now, in front of your eyes … or later when you are safely in Colorado?”


Clara said, “Sorry, Mr. Adams, since you are obviously in the military, I’m guessing that you don’t know how to dodge a draft.  Is that the truck coming?”  Mr. Adams glanced towards the window.  Clara blew a puff of air at him that slammed him back against the wall.  He bounced off the wall and fell to the floor.


Gabriel quickly got up and looked around.  He said, “What the …?”  He was all alone.  He ran from room to room and found no one.  The truck full of soldiers arrived and they searched the farm but found no one.  In the Clara’s library, he said, “We don’t have time to wait here.  There are others to collect.  Send someone to the university to pick up the robots.  We also might want to send a truck back for these books and journals.  They could be useful.”


Deep below the library, Clara said, “They’re leaving now.  I’m glad I built this safe house down here for you.”


Martha said, “This is nice down here.  It’s almost like going on vacation.”


Clara said, “Well, it will get a little cozier.  I’m bringing my books down here.  I worked too hard to make my library to have the military just take my books away.  You had better stay down here a few days.  Watch TV and rest.  I’ll go get Adam and Eve and you all can plan their wedding.  Then I’ll stay away from school for a few days while I harvest crops.  I’ll be sleeping down here with you guys.  I might even add a room or two.  Think a little about what else you might like down here.”


Martha said, “It sounds like fun.”


Clara said, “From now on, I’m not going to trust anyone that wants me to go to Colorado with them!”





4======Countdown Day 15.


Clara said, “Lex, let me get this straight.  You want me to go on a business trip with you to Colorado?”


Lex said, “Colorado.  You know.  Rocky mountains.”


Clara said, “I’m sorry Lex, but I can’t go!  I’ve got a lot of work to do and I keep getting interrupted.”


Lex said, “I’m sure your Mother would let you go.  I tried to go and ask her but the farmhouse looks deserted … like your parents have gone underground.”


Clara said, “Who told you that?”


Lex said, “Nobody told me.  That’s just how it looks – deserted.  Come on.  Call your Mom and Dad wherever they are.  Then come to Colorado with me.”


Clara said, “It is important for me to get this done.  It means a lot of money for my parents and my neighbors!”


Lex said, “Money?  Money isn’t worth anything any more.  Isn’t the love of money the root of all evil?”


Clara said, “I hate to be on this side of the argument for a change but the last few years have been tough for these people.”


Lex said, “Well, they haven’t seen nothing yet.”


Clara said, “It’s easy to talk about money not being important when you have plenty, but this isn’t just about money.  Many of my neighbors are putting kids through college – kids that won’t ever come back to work the farms when they graduate.  Many of my neighbors are too old to make this kind of a deadline without serious help.  My own parents won’t take the money I earn on the side ….”


Lex interrupted, “Tell me again how you make all this money on the side?”


Clara gave Lex the thumbs down sign and continued, “… they won’t accept it if I just give them money, but if I use the farming skills they taught me and their land and their tools to do it, then they let me contribute.  My Mom and Dad haven’t had a real vacation in years.  Hawaii, Lex, Hawaii!  Do you have any idea how that makes my Father feel to finally get far enough ahead of the bills to take us to Hawaii?  So wait just a few weeks and then you can just happen to meet up with on a Hawaiian beach.  I might even let you help me pick out my swimsuit … if you don’t go too crazy.”


Lex said, “I will take you and your parents to Hawaii right now for two or three days but then you HAVE to come to Colorado with me.”


Clara said, “Dad has to pay for the trip!”


Lex said, “Look, I’ll pay him to NOT sell his crops.  I’ll pay him and all his neighbors to just leave the food unharvested.  How much will it take?  One million dollars?  Two million?  Ten?  One Hundred Million?  I don’t care.  I’ll give your parents everything I have if they will just let me take you to Colorado!  We can get married and start a new life there.”


Clara asked, “Are you trying to buy me Lex?


Lex said, “I’m trying to show you that money is meaningless to me.  All that matters is that we survive the coming days together.  What do I need to do to get you to go with me?”


Clara said, “Well, don’t spray anything smelly in my face!”


Lex said, “What?”


Clara said, “I know you don’t use aerosol hair spray so you are more environmentally friendly than a lot of people, but don’t spray me with elephant tranquilizer!”


Lex said, “I wouldn’t do that!”


Clara said, “Well, I know at least one of your friends isn’t above doing that.”


Lex said, “What’s been going on around here?”


Clara said, “That’s what I’d like to know.  People have been coming around here trying anything and everything they could think of to convince me or force me to go to Colorado.  My parents ARE actually hiding out because their lives were threatened to force me to go.  What’s in Colorado?  What is everybody trying to save me from?”


Lex said, “I’m not supposed to say … and I have a feeling that you wouldn’t go with me if you know what’s about to happen and that your parents can’t come with us.”


Clara said, “It’s not like the world is going to come to an end if I don’t go to Colorado!”


Lex said, “No, … the world as we know it is going to come to an end … whether you go to Colorado or not.  But your life will be over if you don’t go … and my life will be over if yours is.”


Clara lowered her head and stared intently at the ground for a few moments before saying, “I don’t see it.  I just don’t see it.  I come from a family of Chicken Littles but I can not see why anyone would think that this world is going to blow up too.”


Lex said, “No one thinks that the Earth is going to explode.  And what did you mean ‘blow up TOO’?”  Clara gave a thumbs down signal.  Lex continued, “Scientists think that Earth will soon be uninhabitable.”


Clara said, “Is their going to be a world war, Lex?”


Lex said, “More like a war of the worlds.  There is a large group of asteroids on a collision course with Earth.  We’re about to experience another meteor shower.  The one that hit Smallville was nothing.  This will be the mother of all meteor showers.  It will end life as we know it in a little over two weeks.”  Clara looked up and surveyed the sky.  Lex said, “You won’t be able to see it until it is too late.”


Clara homed into one particular spot in the sky and said, “Why do things like this always happen when I’m busy?  I have these crops to harvest and now I have another problem to deal with.”


Lex said, “It’s all related.  The crops you are harvesting are going to be stockpiled to feed the people that have been chosen to live in the bunkers under the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere.”


Clara said, “It all makes sense now.  What a royal pain!”


Lex said, “As to dealing with the asteroids, the only thing to do is to hide out underground … unless you have an interstellar spacecraft lying around in one of your barns that you can hop into and fly off to some other planet.”


Clara said, “You scare me sometimes Lex.”


Lex said, “Good.  This is a time to be scared.  Please go to Colorado with me!”


Clara said, “No, Lex, I won’t.  As far as meteor showers go, Smallville is “pre-disastered.”  Just go home, Lex.  Go home and listen to some music and don’t worry about a thing.”


Lex said, “What is this?  The world according to Clara Garp Kent?”


Clara said, “Have faith, Lex.”   


Lex said, “I only have faith in myself … and in you.”


Clara said, “Well, then have faith in my faith.”


Lex said, “As much as I would like to spend an eternity with you in Heaven, I might not end up there.  I would love to spend whatever moments we can together in this plane of existence while we still can.”


Clara said, “We’ll spend so much time together that you’ll get sick of me.”


Lex said, “That could never happen.  You said that other people have come by trying to convince you to go to Colorado.  I don’t care who you go with as long as you go.”


Clara said, “Even Bruce Wayne?”


Lex said, “He came here?  Give me another option.”


Clara said, “Forty soldiers.”


Lex said, “Well, I’d better give it one last shot to sell you on going with me.  If you have enough people independently telling you to do something … or not to do something… that is a good reason to listen to them.”


Clara said, “Should Columbus have listened?”


Lex said, “Let me tell you a story.  It has to do with a misuse of faith and ignoring people who are trying to help you.”


Clara said, “Go ahead.”


Lex said, “There was a man who lived in an area that was flooding.  The Sheriff came and to his house to warn him and take him to a place of safety.  The man refused saying that he had been faithful all his life and that God would rescue him from the flood waters.  The next day, the flood waters had risen to the point where the man had to move to the second story of his house.  A boat came by to rescue him but the man refused saying that he had been faithful all his life and that God would rescue him from the flood waters.  The next day, the flood waters had risen to the point where the man had to move to the roof of his house.  A helicopter came by to rescue him but the man refused saying that he had been faithful all his life and that God would rescue him from the flood waters.  The water continued to rise and the man drowned.  He had been faithful and went straight up to Heaven.  When he saw God, he asked God why He hadn’t rescued him from the flood waters after he had been so faithful all his life.  God answered that he had sent a car, a boat and a helicopter to get him.  So, others have come to get you to save your life.  If it will help you to decide to come with me, think of me as someone God sent in a last desperate attempt to save your life.  He has a plan for you and he wants you to live.  I am as sure of that as I am of anything.”


Clara said, “Come closer.”  Lex came closer and she kissed him for a while.  She said, “I liked that story … and especially liked that you told me the truth to get me to go to Colorado with you.  No one else did that.  But, I’m not going.  Everyone is just making a mountain out of a ….  HEY!  That’s it!  Make a mountain!  You’ve told me other stories too and I listen to them all even if I don’t always agree with you or do what you want me to.  You told me that there aren’t problems, only opportunities.  I don’t believe that’s always the case, but since you told me that, I’m always looking for the opportunity behind what appears to be a problem.  Without you, I would have eventually seen this problem and tried to deflect it, but thanks to your influence on me, I’m going to look at it as an opportunity instead.  Thanks Lex!”


Lex said, “The only opportunity here is to go to an underground bunker and live … or take an opportunity to die a violent death.  Choose life.  Choose to be my wife and spend whatever time we have left together.”


Clara said, “Even if the world was ending, I wouldn’t run away this time.”


Lex said, “This time?”


Clara said, “I wouldn’t leave my parents behind.”


Lex said, “They would tell you to go … beg you to go.”


Clara said, “Of course they would and of course I would refuse.  No one could force me to go and no one will.”


Lex said, “Then let’s spend every moment together.  I’ll stay here with you … as your husband.  Marry me!”


Clara said, “I’d love to spend my final hours with you, but that will have to wait … perhaps several hundred years.  There are opportunities for my neighbors and friends that I mustn’t let pass.  I have to harvest the crops now … lettuce for the frightened rabbits in their underground bunkers to munch on.  Trust me, Lex.  You won’t need a car or a boat or a helicopter to rescue you from this one.  Just go home and relax.  Don’t worry about a thing.”


Lex said, “How can I NOT worry!”


Clara said, “Kiss me again and I’ll make you worries all melt away!”  She held him close and kissed him deeply.  The energy throbbed through him and his body relaxed.  Clara pulled her head back and stared intently into his eyes.  She said, “Go home, Lex.  Relax.  Don’t let anything trouble you.  Enjoy the things that the world has given you. Don’t worry.  Everything will be fine.  Clara loves you … loves you very, very much.  Everything … will … be … fine!”


Lex said, “Everything … will … be … fine.”   He turned and walked back to his car.


Clara whispered, “Sorry, Lex.  I hated doing that to you and I promise never to do it again unless it is absolutely necessary.  No supper for me again tonight.  Just when I thought things couldn’t get any busier.  Isn’t that always the way it is!”  Clara went back to harvesting the crops.





5======Several Hours Later.


Clara entered the bunker deep below her library.  She said, “Mom, Dad.  I am going to go take a few tests then I’ll be back.”


Martha said, “Is it safe for you to go back to school so soon?”


Clara said, “Not college tests -- physical fitness tests.”  Jonathan laughed.  Clara said, “No, really.  I wanted to haul some lumber to Mars anyway.  I’m going to see how much weight I can move and land on a planet before I risk any lives.  There are probably a few asteroids in the asteroid belt that are best moved elsewhere anyway.  I am pretty sure that I won’t have any problems … especially if I do a close pass to the Sun first.  If I can’t, we may be in this bunker a lot longer than I planned on and I might invite a few others to join us.  Dad, maybe you could help me while I’m gone.  Think about some place where there is a large block of government land that is basically worthless.  If it is near some iron foundries that are in need of cheap and available resources, that would be great.  If the area could use a good supply of fresh water or a lake or state park, that would be tremendous.  By the way, I did finish harvesting all the crops.  I’ll be back in a few days.”





6======Countdown Day 8.


The President asked Mr. Jacobs, his scientific adviser, for an update on the asteroids.  Mr. Jacobs said, “There is no longer a field of asteroids on a collision course with this planet.”


The President asked, “Was the initial report a mistake or did the asteroid get diverted somehow?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “The initial report was verified by independent sources.  There is no doubt that there were hundreds if not thousands of asteroids in a cloud formation heading our way.  Odds are the asteroids were initially one larger mass that was fragmented in some collision.  That is understandable.  But what has happened is not.  The cloud has been replaced by a single mass.  It is in the planet killer class.  It doesn’t matter because the destruction will be just as lethal either way.  But the question is how could that have happened and will anything else happen?  The science out there is pure – cause and effect.  We muddy things up down here but in outer space, it’s not supposed to be that way.  Unless the stress is driving all our trained observers crazy, the universe is going amok.  The moon isn’t supposed to move out of its orbit and then move back.  The largest asteroids in the asteroid belt just don’t go missing.  It’s crazy.  But if something strange is happening out there, we can only plan for the worst but hope that some of the strangeness in some way benefits us.”


The President said, “So bottom line is, the world as we know it was going to be destroyed but now … the world as we know it is going to be destroyed … unless whatever is messing around up there takes pity on us.  How big is this thing?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “It is slab shaped -- basically planar on one side but sloped to a central peak on the opposite side.  It is 5 miles thick at its thickest point, 28 miles wide and 42 miles long.  Its course still suggests that it will land near the equator in the Pacific Ocean 8 days from now.  Observations tell us that it is composed mostly of heavy metals and ice.  Strangely enough, the ice is mainly in a solid layer on the sloped side of the slab – like the water content had evaporated but then condensed and froze again on only the sloped surface of the slab.  If the asteroids had somehow collided into a single mass, the ice would have been marbled within the body that formed – not layered on top like icing on a cake.  Much of the mass will burn up in the atmosphere but it will still be more than 1000 times bigger than it needs to be to make the surface of our planet uninhabitable.  Maybe some of the mutated humans we have studied will survive this, but even that would require a miracle.”


The President said, “I believe we make out own miracles, but this moon business …. Do you think that the size of this thing is what cause the moon’s course to fluctuate and explain the disappearance of the other asteroids?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “Definitely … NOT.  It is no where near where the missing asteroids had been.  And it is relatively small and still too far away from us to have altered the moon’s course or our tides or anything else that anyone would notice.  The asteroid would barely have that kind of effect on the moon if it struck the moon instead of the Earth.”


The President said, “Is there any chance that it WILL strike the moon instead of the Earth.”


Mr. Jacobs said, “Only if the moon decides to move again … and moves halfway around the Earth from the position it will be in when the asteroid gets here.  Are you planning to alert the public so that they can prepare?”


The President answered, “There will be an announcement but it won’t be about the asteroid.  The panic would be terrible.  The world leaders that know what is about to happen got together and we made treaties with everyone.  The ones that don’t know made it hard, but we gave them practically anything they asked for.  We couldn’t make it TOO easy or they might have guessed that there was something going on.  In two days, the leaders of the world will announce world peace.  All conflicts will come to an end.  It took the end of the world for us to be able to do it.  But now, people can enjoy their last few days celebrating rather than being afraid.”




7======Day Zero.  6:00am.


Clara got home.  Martha rushed up to greet her.  Martha said, “Wow, you look great!  You’re glowing.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this happy!”


Clara said, “I feel great!  I did it.  I really did it!  I really AM supposed to be here.  I AM here for a reason!  I know that now.  I never felt so powerful … and so at ease with myself.  I’m going upstairs and shower and soak and put on my pajamas and come down and eat and eat and eat and not doing any more work for the rest of the week!


Martha said, “That’s great, Honey.  I’ll go start cooking up a storm!”





8======Day Zero.  9:00am.


In bunkers throughout the world, leaders, geniuses, scholars, athletes and people with the power and influence to buy their survival sat nervously waiting for the Earth to shake.  Twelve more hours.  After that, they would either be dead like the rest of the world or buried alive with only the slimmest chance of surviving.


In Smallville, Clara ate snack food and sketched designs for Eve’s wedding dress while Eve supervised and talked about her plans for the children she was going to make with Adam.  At the Luthor mansion, Lex read a favorite book and listened to music.  In the back of his mind, he knew there was something he was forgetting about but he decided to not work about it … there was nothing to worry about.


All around the world, people celebrated world peace.  The media sought out the leaders for comments about what the future held for a world at peace … but couldn’t find the people they were looking for.




9======Day Zero.  11:00am.


A sleek black car with tall tail fins raced down the country road and kicked up a cloud of dust as it slid into the driveway of the Kent farm.  Clara answered the door in her pink fuzzy cotton pajamas.  She looked into the broad muscular chest with the gray and black shirt on before tilting her head up and letting out a small gasp when she saw the mask. She squinted her eyes and said, “Bruce?!!  You silly ….”  She thumped him with the flat of the palm of her hand on the bat insignia on his chest.  She said, “You startled me!  That’s kind of funny.  Strange, but funny!  Come on in.  Mom’s been cooking and cooking … and you haven’t met Eve or Adam yet.”


Bruce pulled off the mask and said, “You realize that the world peace thing was a sham, don’t you?”


Clara said, “World peace?  Really!  I’ve been … a little out of touch … the past few days.  Mom is making popcorn now and we are going to play cards soon.  You can join us.  We might play dominoes later too.  I’ve got to warn you.  I’m VERY good at dominoes!”


Bruce said, “Alfred is with me.”


Clara said, “He can play too!”


Bruce said, “I thought there might be rioting … and that I could take my mind off … things … by helping keep the peace.  But the big lie is working and people are behaving themselves.  No one had any need for me … so I had nothing to do but think … and that’s the last thing I wanted to be doing.  I decided that I wouldn’t mind dying so much … if I could spend my last few hours with you.”


Clara said, “Oooooh!  That’s so sweet!”  Clara leaned over and kissed Bruce on the cheek.  She said, “No one’s dying … but you might lose that cape playing cards … maybe even the title to that rocket ship you’re driving.  So why the outfit anyway?  Did you think it would be fun to dress up for doomsday?”


Bruce said, “No, … I am … Batman.”


Clara laughed.  Bruce didn’t.  Clara said, “Oh!  You’re going to be sorry tomorrow.  So are you more … Bruce … or … more Batman?


Bruce said, “Bruce died a long time ago.  I’ve been trying to find him lately … so I could use him to talk to … someone … but he’s pretty far gone.  So, are you more Clara … or Power Girl?”


Clara said, “Power Girrrr ...?  Oh.  That submarine thing.  That’s not me.  No way.  She doesn’t even look like me.  You don’t have a picture of  … her … in that swimsuit … do you?”


Bruce smiled, blushed and said, “Several.”  Clara blushed.  Bruce said, “I had hoped to help train you someday … to expand your limits.”


Clara said, “My limits are pretty expansive already.”


Bruce said, “You’re pretty full of yourself tonight, aren’t you?”


Clara said, “It’s just that today … I know I have a reason for being here.  I always felt like was some big cosmic mistake but I don’t feel that way anymore.”


Bruce said, “It’s great that you feel that way and I agree with you, but everyone can learn to use the skills they have to better advantage – everyone has room for improvement.”


Clara said, “Riddle me this:  How big of a mountain does a girl have to be able to move to be strong enough?  How long does she have to be able to live in space without breathing?  And just how long does she have to be able to defy gravity with that mountain on her back?”


Bruce said, “You think you can do all that?  And you thought that I was crazy?”


Clara said, “I KNOW that I can do all of that … and more!”


Bruce laughed.  He said, “Oh, I’m a little dense tonight.  Sorry.  I get it now.  You were talking about card games.  You were kidding … bluffing.”


Clara said, “Well then, call my bluff.”


Bruce said, “What are you betting?”


Clara smiled and said, “I’ll bet you my asteroid!  But if you win the bet, delivery is not included.  You have to go get it.  I left it in Oklahoma.  Once the ice melts down, it should be about 4 miles high.”  Bruce just stood there and said nothing.  Clara said, “So, next time you have a little problem like a rock falling from the sky, don’t get all crazy worried about it okay?  Just give me a call.  I’m probably the world’s finest when it comes to things like that.  And if I need someone in a mask to scare someone for me, I’ll call that hotline number you gave my parents.  Well, don’t leave Alfred sitting out there!  We’ve got a big game to play.  The government paid my Dad a lot of money for our crops, so we are playing for high stakes tonight.  We’re betting nickels instead of pennies!”



10========= The Morning After Doomsday ========= With This Ring


Clara was lost in anticipation of her upcoming trip to Hawaii as she collected eggs in the hen house.  She was on top of the world.  She felt invincible.  Nothing could hurt her.  Nothing could frighten her … or so she thought.  She turned and her mouth dropped open in shock.  A shiver started at the tips of her toes and made its way up her spine and to the top of her head.  In front of her was a well-built man in a skin tight green and black body suit.  That he was able to approach her silently wasn’t what frightened her.  Instead of having a normal head on his shoulders, he had a disproportionately large head that was in many ways similar to the head of a chicken.  This was terrifying enough for her, but what was even more terrifying was that this was a being that had haunted her nightmares as a child.  She knew that something bad would happen if the chicken man ever showed up.  Inside her head, Clara heard a voice saiy, “I am happy to see you healthy and happy, Kayla Jor-El!”


Clara didn’t think.  She managed to stammer out, “Helllll – llloooowwwww!” as she scanned his head with her X-Ray vision to make sure that this wasn’t some prankster wearing a rubber mask.  She gasped at the sight of the blood vessels pumping and  a skull structure that told her that this was no mask.  She knew in her heart that he had come back to get her!


The man with the chicken head said, “It has been a long time.  You have grown fine and strong.  Here.  I think you missed one.”  He held out his hand.  In it was an egg grasped between his thumb and fore finger.


Clara said, “Tha … tha … thank you” as her trembling hand took the egg from him.  She hurriedly ran past him and towards the house without daring to turn her head in his direction.


From inside her head, she heard his voice saying, “You are very welcome.”


Clara slammed the kitchen door behind her and yelled, “MAAAAW-MEEEE!  MOM!  Mom, Where ARE you?!”


Martha said, “I’m right behind you!”  Clara jumped, yelped and flung the basket of eggs.  Martha managed to grab the basket without losing a single egg.  Martha said, “Mighty jittery today, aren’t we?  I’ve NEVER been able to sneak up on you.”


Clara said, “Kryptonite!  Mom ... Hurry!  Where’s the kryptonite?”


Martha asked, “What?  Slow down!”


Clara said, “Get the kryptonite I asked you to save!  You promised to keep some.”


Martha said, “Tell me why you want it.”


Clara said, “I must have spent too long in space or over-exerted myself or something.  I’ve finally lost my mind!  You have to incapacitate me before I hurt anyone!”


Martha said, “Clara, calm down!  If you still care about not hurting people then you can’t be that crazy.”


Clara said, “Please, Mom.  Please, PLEEEEASSSEEEE!”


Martha said, “First … we talk!”


Clara said, “No, Mom!  I almost punched that chicken man’s head off without thinking about it!  If it is really just a neighbor and I imagining the chicken head, then I could have killed someone!”


Martha said, “Chicken head?  Not that nightmare stuff again. You were over that years ago.”


Clara said, “But I’m wide awake!  And he’s back!”


Martha said, “Well.  Where did I put it?  Look.  It’s probably Lex … found out that you spent the day with Bruce.  You probably told him about the chicken head man and he decided to pull a passive aggressive stunt on you.  Sometimes it feels like it’s raining men around here and he’s bound to be feeling jealous.”


Clara said, “I checked him out with my X-ray vision.  My senses tell me he is real … and he CAN’T be!  That means I can’t trust my senses … ergo, I am freaking crazy!”  There was a sharp knock at the front door.  Clara said, “Mom, if it’s the chicken man, DON’T let him in!  They’re scary and have a big sharp beak!  They come out when something bad happens!  And they treat you like you’re their pet or something!”


Martha said, “Clara!  You’re not a child anymore.  Nothing and no one can hurt you!”


There was another knock on the door.  Clara shouted, “DON’T LET IT IN!  PLEEEEEASSSSE!”


As she strutted to the front door, Martha said, “We just got over that claustrophobia nonsense.  I’m not going to coddle you and let you hide inside for the rest of your life!  For all you know, it’s another man come to sweep you off your feet.”  Martha flung the front door open There stood a tall young man with chestnut colored hair and a strikingly handsome face with rugged, chiseled features.  Martha gasped, “MY GOD!  What a hunk!”  She paused and turned a shade of red that made her hair pale by comparison.  She asked the man, “I … I didn’t say that … out loud, … did I?”


The man smiled widely and showed Martha how handsome he really was.  He said, “Yes Ma’am, I believe you did.  Don’t worry though.  I’ve been put in my place enough not to get a swelled head over a few kind words from a beautiful stranger.”


Martha ran a hand through her hair and said, “Could I help you?”


The man answered, “I certainly hope so.  I’ve come to see your daughter.  I have a proposition to make and am very interested in her answer.”


Clara yelled, “Make him go away, Mom!”


Martha turned and yelled back to her, “This is no chicken, Honey.  You will hate me later if I send this one away.  Wait until you get a look at him.”


Clara said, “I can see plenty well from here!  Look at his ring, Mom!  I’m not going anywhere near him!”


Martha looked down and said, “Well, its not on his wedding finger!  One … Zero … One.  What does that signify?”


The man said, “Those aren’t numbers.  That’s a symbol -- a lantern.”


Clara said, “It looks like kryp … meteor rock!”


The man said, “I’m sorry to have worried you, Kayla.  This ring is made of an alloy that predates the destruction of your home world by hundreds of millennia.  It has several interesting properties but none that would adversely harm you – unless you attacked the person wearing it.”


Martha said, “I believe you have the wrong house.  My daughter’s name isn’t Kayla.”


The man said, “We both know better than that.  But you and your daughter have nothing to fear from me.  In fact, I may be the one facing a loss … depending how Kayla … Clara … answers the proposition I have come to make today.” 


Clara said, “Take it off if you want to talk to me.”


The man said, “I never take it off, but maybe this will ease your mind.”  The man threw a small box to Clara.  He said, “It’s not a lead box.  You can tell with your senses.  I’m told that you can even see what’s in the box without looking at it or opening it.  Yes.  It’s just like mine.  It’s for you.  I came to offer it to you and all that goes with it.”


Clara said, “Does a chicken man go with it?  They wear rings like this.  Do you work for the chicken men?”


The man said, “No, I work WITH him.”


Clara said, “Why did you bring him here?”


The man answered, “I needed someone I could rely on to help me deal with the asteroid cloud.  Since you managed to handle that on your own, I was supposed to come speak with you and he asked to come along because he wanted to see you again.”


Clara said, “Again?!  He’s one of the ones that used to follow me around?”


The man answered, “He was the only one.  You were in his care.  He was so proud of the way you handled that asteroid, he could barely keep his wings from tearing through his uniform.  His kind like to fly when they are happy.  He hasn’t been very happy for a long time.”


Clara asked, “What do you mean that he watched me?  That’s creepy!”


The man sneered and said, “Krypton was in space sector 2813 and therefore fell under his jurisdiction.  But when you came here, you became Abin Sur’s responsibility.  He was my predecessor.  Since his death, it has been my job to watch you … a job everyone neglected to tell me about until a week ago.”


Clara said, “You mean that you are supposed to watch everyone – not just me.”


The man said, “I’m supposed to watch everyone … but especially you.  Not that I’m going to put that duty very high on my list.  Anything that could take you on successfully would be out of my league.”


Clara said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  My Mom was right.  You have the wrong house.  Go and take that chicken man with you.”


The man said, “I’ve come a long way to talk to you.  It won’t take long if you’ll just forget about Tomar-Re and hear me out.”


Clara said, “I don’t know anyone named Tomar-Re.  Is he from this planet Krypton you were talking about?”


The man said, “No, Tomar-Re is from Xudar.  He is the man you have been referring to as the chicken man.”


Clara said, “Tomar-Re isn’t planning on coming inside is he?”


The man said, "No.  He sensed your fear of him and decided to keep his distance.  You really hurt his feelings.  The way you are treating him makes me lose a lot of respect for you.  I was born on this planet and love Tomar-Re like a brother.  Being an alien yourself, you should be tolerant of other alien, sentient beings even if they look a little different.  To use an old but appropriate saying – you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”


Clara said, “Well, you didn’t wake up to find him hovering over your crib in the middle of the night!”


The man said, “No, and I didn’t almost choke on a toy I was sucking on either!”


Clara said, “Did he go away or not?!”


The man said, “He’s gone, but not far.  He went to join the others.  They all wanted to hear what you’re answer is going to be.  It will mean a lot to them.”


Clara said, “No!  There are more chicken men out there?!”


The man said, “No, they are a diverse group of many sentient species from all across the universe.  They came to help deal with the asteroids.  If you didn’t deal with it, we would have.  But the Guardians wanted to give you a chance to show what you could do.”


Clara said, “We told you!  I’m just a farm girl.  I didn’t do anything!”


The man said, “If you’re just a farm girl then I’m just a pilot.  Look, I haven’t introduced myself.  I am Hal Jordan.  I am for the moment the Green Lantern of space sector 2814.  It is my job to guard this planet from threats that the people of Earth are not capable of handling at this time.”


Martha said, “I’m tired of standing here.  I’m heading to the kitchen to make a fresh pot of coffee.  Would you like coffee and some pie Mr. Jordan?”


Hal said, “Yes, very much, thank you.  And you can call me Hal.”


Martha said, “Thank you, Hal.  Why don’t you and Clara go sit on the couch so you can ask Clara whatever it is you want to ask her?  I’ll let you know when the coffee is ready.”


Hal said, “Thank you, Mrs. Kent.”


Martha said, “Just call me Mom … umm  … Martha!”


Clara said, “MOM!  We don’t know who he is!”


Martha said, “Something really must be going wrong with your hearing today!  That’s Hal, dear -- Hal Jordon.  He works for the Green Lantern League protecting us all from harm.”


Hal said, “Actually, it’s the Green Lantern Corps … at least in our language.”


Martha asked, “Do you speak many languages, Mr. Jordan?  My daughter knows several thousand.”


Hal said, “I only speak English and a little Spanish, but my ring translates any language for me so that I hear what people say to me in English and they hear me in whatever language they are most comfortable with.”


Martha said, “Oh.  Too bad you bothered learning them all Clara … since Hal has given you a ring.  You are going to keep it, aren’t you.”


Clara said, “You taught me not to accept things from strangers.”


Martha said, “Well, then you’d better go sit on the couch with him and make sure he isn’t a stranger much longer.”


Clara said, “I don’t trust him!  He brought the chicken man!”


Hal said, “Actually, the ring isn’t from me.  It’s from the Guardians.  If you want to return it, you’ll have to take it back to them … on the planet Oa … at the center of all things.”


Clara said, “You want to bet that I can’t fling it at least that far!”


Martha said, “Clara, your manners!”


Hal said, “I thought you were just an ordinary farm girl.  I have no doubt that you could throw it away, but the ring will want to return to you.  It will come back by whatever means necessary.  The power ring is like a faithful friend.   I don’t know who I am without mine anymore.”


Clara said, “Exactly why I don’t want one.  I will not be defined by a ring!”


Martha said, “Oh my.  I’ll leave you to it.  I’ve got some coffee to make.”  Martha walked back to the kitchen.  Hal Jordan sat on the couch and patted a spot next to him.  Clara walked over to the farthest easy chair from him and curled up in it.  She stared blankly at him from across the room.


After a minute of silence, Hal said, “Well, Hal, what exactly is a Green Lantern?  What is it that you do?  Well, Ms. Kent, I’m so glad you asked.  A Green Lantern is basically a policeman assigned to a sector of the universe by a race of immortal ancients.  Like I’ve said, I am basically here to handle catastrophic problems and prevent alien interference in the evolution of the planet – present company excepted.  All Green Lanterns are given a power ring and a battery to charge it – yes, batteries ARE included!  Your ring can actually charge off of you and store it in case you ever need it.  For instance, if your energy is drained by contact with a meteor rock, your ring will throw up a shield to protect you.  Most of us Lanterns rely heavily on our ring.  With you, it would be like supplemental insurance for a rainy day.  When a problem arises that one Green Lantern can’t handle, we can summon others to assist us.  For instance, if the Guardians didn’t know that you would take action, we would have handled that asteroid before anyone on Earth even knew it was on the way.  This caused a lot of anguish among the people in the know on this planet, but the Guardians needed to know that they were right about your readiness and needed you to get a broader sense of your powers and what uses they can be put to.  I will tell you this.  If we had handled it on our own, it would have taken a dozen of us working together and we would have left a mess just like the Lanterns that created the asteroid belt.  We’re not very tidy.  We really could use a woman’s touch.  None of us would have dreamed of making the work any tougher by cleaning up a nuclear waste site and creating a state park while dealing with the asteroid.  Classy. VERY classy!”


Clara said, “Why should I believe anything you’re telling me?”


Hal said, “Demonstrations could be arranged.  Just decide what you want us to do and we’ll do it.”


Martha yelled from the kitchen, “Hal, the coffee is on the kitchen table whenever you’re ready for some.”


Hal asked, “Is it all right if I take it in here?”


Martha said, “I’ll bring it right out.”


Hal said, “Don’t bother.  I’ll get it.”  A transparent green hand materialized, flew to the kitchen and came back with a cup of coffee.  Hal took it.


Martha yelled, “Clara, don’t you DARE give him back that ring!”


Clara frowned.  Hal said, “I know -- nothing more than a parlor trick.  I usually don’t put on a big show unless it is really necessary.  I got pretty tired … and depressed watching you work.”


Clara said, “Depressed?”


Hal said, “I know when I’m obsolete.  I’m a little young to retire, but Earth doesn’t need more than one Green Lantern and you’ve out-classed me by a mile … by a parsec … by a million parsecs.  Of course, maybe I could manage the local store here if you decide to go corporate and take the job they want you to take back at the home office.”


Clara said, “I don’t think you’re ring is working because I can’t understand what you’re telling me.”


Hal said, “The Guardians sent me here today to offer you a job.  They want you to join us.  …  Well, maybe not ‘us.’  If you decide to stay on Earth, the Guardians won’t be needing me.  How could I compete when your powers are built in and infinitely greater than the powers the ring gives me?”


Clara said, “Why do they want me?”


Hal said, “Because you’re perfect.”


Clara said, “That’s a bunch of hooey.”


Hal said, “I’m only the messenger.  They were aware of you from conception.  They say that you are genetically perfect.  They immediately wanted you to become the leader of the Green Lantern Corps.  Of course, they had to wait for you to grow up … and then Krypton blew up.  Now they don’t know if they should make you a Green Lantern or not.  It’s a split decision, right down the middle.  They decided to leave it up to you.”


Clara said, “Well, that was mighty white of them.”


Hal said, “Actually, they’re blue … a pale shade of blue.”


Clara said, “So, why do only half of them want me?”


Hal said, “They know that there is power beyond and above even them.  When you were saved from the explosion of Krypton without their intervention, some of them came to believe that the Universe itself has other plans -- higher plans for you.  They believe that you will never truly be one of us, except in spirit.  Still, a little training would go a long way.  You could spend a few decades on OA.  Feel out the job a bit.  Give me a chance to finish out my tour of duty here.”


Clara said, “And I am supposed to be the leader?  What is it with everyone trying to make me leave home and get training?  I just want to farm and sit on my front porch at sunset and, in a few years, take my doctor’s bag and visit my sick neighbors and help them feel better.  What’s wrong with that?  I had to leave my first home.  Why does everyone want to make me give up my second home too?  Mom keeps trying to marry me off to every loony that comes to the door!”


Hal said, “No offense intended, right?”


Clara just glared at him and said, “What’s wrong with me just staying here and being a country doctor?!”


Hal said, “Nothing at all.  Stay here and be happy.  I hope it works for you … but the universe has a way of drafting the ones it needs to get everything going.”


Clara said, “Are you going to take no for an answer?”


Hal said, “Of course.  But do you think I could force you if I wanted to?  The Guardians probably could, but that isn’t their way.  I think I’ll have that pie you’re Mother told me about.  While I’m enjoying that, would you mind doing a little favor for me?”


Clara said, “It depends how little.”


Hal said, “Tomar-Re is a gentle, selfless, loving soul.  He has been burdened by guilt for years.  He has been putting himself in harm’s way more than anyone could expect ever since his greatest failure.  The Guardians couldn’t risk the consequences of Krypton surviving.  Other world’s would have died had the planet survived.  But Tomar-Re begged them to be allowed to do anything he could to delay the explosion to give Jor-El a chance to convince your people to build a fleet of ships and evacuate the population.  They allowed him to do whatever he could.  Tomar-Re knew that your Uncle Zor-El had built a device to stabilize Krypton’s core.  He also knew that it didn’t have sufficient power to delay the explosion more than a month.  He took his battery and entered the reactor that powered Zor-El’s device.  He imprisoned himself inside it for over 3 years and served as the power source for that machine.  He never slept.  He never faltered.  He recharged his ring and fed power to the machine and prayed to his God that Jor-El would convince the people of Krypton to save themselves.  But a single Green Lantern could not hold together an entire planet by his will power even with the aid of a power ring – at least not forever, but he gave it a try.  Some of the material at Krypton’s core transmuted into a radioactive golden substance.  A necessary flaw in the ring does not allow it to act against yellow objects or shield yellow radiations.  There was nothing Tomar-Re could possibly do at that point.”


Clara said, “So that’s when he left Krypton.”


Hal said, “He never left.  The ring kept him alive.  The planet exploded around him.  Abin Sur was sent to fetch him.  The Guardians only know what happened through Tomar-Re’s power ring.  He has never spoken of it.”


Clara asked, “So what am I supposed to do about it?”


Hal said, “Lose your fear of him.”


Clara said, “I don’t know if I can!”


Hal said, “Try.  Just try.  Do you know what it’s like for a bird to cage itself?  He put himself in a prison and endured a hellish isolation and unimaginable pain to try to save your people.  Can’t you just TRY to see him as something other than your own personal Boogey Man?”


Clara asked, “Where is he?”


Hal said, “Go out onto your porch.  He’ll find you.”


Hal got up and went into the kitchen.  Clara got to her feet and nervously made her way outside.  She quietly said, “I’m here.  You can come out if you want to.  I promise … I won’t run away from you this time … I hope.”


A translucent green sphere with Tomar-Re inside dropped from the sky and dissolved.  Clara froze like a statue as he approached her.  She could hear a melodic chirping noise as his mouth moved but heard a voice in English clearly speaking inside her head.  The voice said, "I never meant to scare you.  You have always been very precious to me.  I was overly cautious when you were first entrusted to my care.  I should have never let you see me.  That first time … that toy was yellow and the only way I could get it out of your mouth was with my hand.  I was relieved when you screamed.  It was better than the silence as you struggled.  Still, I wish the toy had been a different color.  I wish I hadn’t frightened you.”


Clara forced a smile and said, “I never knew that I had a guardian angel.”


Tomar-Re said, “Not a good one, I’m afraid.  When the time came, I wasn’t up to the challenge.  I had to neglect you to try to buy time for your people.  I should have just taken you and your family and any others that I could have saved and left.  But in my arrogance, I tried to save the billions entrusted to my care … and failed them all.  I had to be rescued.  Some guardian angel!  I wish that my ring hadn’t held back … hadn’t saved enough energy to protect me.  I would have rather died than see what I saw!  And you … you were my priority.  I was able to stay inside that machine day after day after day because I thought I was protecting you.  You were the face of Krypton for me.  You were what made it all so real and allowed me to keep going when my mind and body were screaming for me to give up.  But it was all for nothing.  At the end of it all, I didn’t know what had happened to you.  I thought that you were dead.  There were rumors … prophesies, but I thought they were lies that people told me as a kindness to try to make facing the days a little easier.  Then, I was told by the Guardians that you had made it to Earth, but that you were no longer under my jurisdiction.  I was glad that you survived and glad that someone better than me would be there to watch over you.  I thought I would be too ashamed to ever look upon you again.  They asked me to come … to help you if you needed help with the asteroid cloud.  But you didn’t need me, did you?  You don’t need anyone anymore.  I couldn’t be prouder of you than if you were my own child.  I’m sorry … I’m sorry that I FAILED YOU!  You … and your people.”


Tomar-Re started to convulse.  Clara reached out and took him in her arms.  She said, “Don’t be sorry.  You couldn’t have done anything … no one could have.  I guess the universe had different plans for us.  It wasn’t your fault.  Thank you for trying … thank you for watching over me.”  Clara stroked Tomar-Re’s wings through the fabric of his uniform as she sang him a lullaby that Alura used to sing to her on Krypton.  Without trying, Clara had done what Hal had asked – all her fears had vanished.


11======Countdown Minus 14 Days.


The President said, “Mr. Jacobs, your report had better be good!  The most powerful people on the planet think that I’m an idiot or a lunatic or both.  After all the independent sightings and projections, how could that asteroid have missed us?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “It didn’t.  The asteroid is in Oklahoma, Sir.”


The President said, “I was led to believe that a water impact would be more destructive, but that an impact with an object that size would be a death blow to the planet whether it impacted on land or sea.  Was the size miscalculated as well?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “Our size estimate was right on the money.  It looks like our guess about the composition of the thing was pretty close as well.  That will be easier to determine once the ice layer finishes melting off.  It landed ice side up.”


The President said, “Well, pick some hero out of those that died and I will use that person in my address to the nation to personify the tragedy for the public.  We should be able to raise some funds for long range detection of these things once we convince the public that we were totally unaware of the danger.”


Mr. Jacobs said, “They haven’t found as much as a dead squirrel.”


The President said, “It obliterated everything?!”


Mr. Jacobs said, “No Sir, not at all.  No deaths have been reported.  This reminds me of the time when that munitions depot blew up in Ravenna, Ohio.  By the time the situation was accessed, the blast had done 6 million dollars worth of improvements.  This “catastrophe” will probably result in Oklahoma making a good deal of money over the next few decades.”


The President said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!  What about the dust cloud that was going to blot out the sun.  I’ve been to Oklahoma.  Don’t tell me that there was no dust in Oklahoma to be pushed into the atmosphere.”


Mr. Jacobs said, “A dust cloud would have been part of an opposite and equal reaction to an impact of great force.  The force of impact was negligible in this case.  It landed as close to zero feet per second as is worth measuring.”


The President said, “WHAT?!  Wouldn’t even a baseball dropped from shoulder height hit at a greater speed than that?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “The composite asteroid … we’re calling it that because it appears to be many smaller asteroids fused together, soft landed after an extremely slow descent through the atmosphere.  The asteroid disappeared from its original position and arrived above Oklahoma twelve hours before it was due to impact the Pacific Ocean.  Then it “floated” down so slowly that it lost practically no mass in the descent.  It didn’t even have any fragments fall from it even thought it is by no means a single solid entity.  It’s almost as if it had a structural integrity field around it as it came down.  It spun slightly before touching down and fit into the site like a missing piece from a giant, three dimensional jig saw puzzle.”


The President said, “How is that possible?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “It isn’t … unless it is a piloted craft.”


The President said, “IS IT!  Have we been invaded by aliens from another world?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “As far as we can tell … no.  It’s a big chunk of metal ore topped with a one mile thick ice layer.”


The President said, “Did it make a crater?”


Mr. Jacobs answered, “Well, the ground did sink considerably from the mass of the thing … but the land has been contoured in such a way that, when the ice melts, there will be a huge fresh water lake on one side of … this new mountain.  I’ve got satellite photos of the site from four days before the impact.  The ground was contoured perfectly to accept the asteroid.  There are what appear to be access roads leading to and all around the landing site.  The area surrounding the future lake looks like a state park.  There is even sand where swimming areas would logically be placed.  The “design” seems a little biased for people who like to fish … of course there are no fish there … or frozen in the asteroid.  The men studying the site for me now are ready to buy lots there or time shares.”


The President asked, “What are the odds that this is all some remarkable coincidence?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “About the same as the moon deciding to change its orbit then changing back to where it had been before.  Besides, I also have the satellite photos from a month before the impact.  It was a wasteland.  There was a strip mine that was played out twenty five years ago.  It has been a dump site ever since.  Now there are a lot of full size trees that have been transplanted and no sign of the wastes that were dumped there.  The satellite photos monitored radiation levels on the site.  It had toxic levels of radiation before and now it is so clean that it is hard to believe that a human being ever even visited there before.  It needs time for the underbrush to grow back, but it will be as beautiful as any national park in the United States before long.  I’ve been told that the vistas are breathtaking.”


The President said, “Maybe the owner of the property was cleaning the site up.”


Mr. Jacobs said, “We are the owners, Sir.  It is government land since it was abandoned by the mining company once the ore was depleted.  There is a tall fence around the perimeter, surveillance cameras scattered around and the entrances to the area are blockaded or guarded.  The equipment required to re-contour the land and move those trees never came through any of the gates.”


The President asked, “Why is it guarded?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “Nuclear waste … all of which is buried under a mountain now unless whatever … whoever … did all this moved it somewhere else.  The surveillance camera did catch a woman with a sketch pad out there.  There was no urgent need to go in there and get her out considering the world was about to end anyway.  If we can identify her, we might have an eye witness.  The changes to the area just seemed to happen -- land moved, trees appeared.  We did get good footage of the asteroid landing.  That’s how we know the rate of speed at which it came down and how it rotated into position.  The footage looks fake – something that big just slowly fitting into place.  Hollywood would have created a much more believable effect.  But this footage is legitimate … but just unbelievably unreal looking.”


The President said, “So, does whatever did this represent a threat to the United States or the world?”


Mr. Jacobs said, “The power or technology required to soft land an asteroid that size is far beyond us.  That power could be a threat.  But if you look at how that power was used, it doesn’t look like there were any negative intentions.  Number one, we aren’t all dead or living underground.  The danger was dealt with.  Number two, where we once had a garbage dump with poisoned water and nuclear waste in leaky containers, we now have a clean environment suitable for recreation, a huge supply of fresh water and mega-tons of metallic ore.  No one has shown up to take any credit or make any demands.  I know it can be frightening to know that there is that kind of power lurking out there somewhere … but I personally am comforted that that power is watching out for us.  At the moment, I would think the biggest problem is how to get back to normal day to day activities after our system of values have been put through the wringer.”


The President said, “Oh Hell!  What are we going to do with all the stockpiles of food we bought?!”


Mr. Jacobs said, “Ummm.  Well I do believe those treaties you signed promised generous contributions of food to the third world … as well as financial aide and sharing of technological information.”


The President said, “Oh my God!  The treaties!  If it’s one thing this country can’t afford right now, it’s world peace!”






[I was going to tell you what was going on with Clara, but when I stopped back to the farmhouse, the Kents had left for Hawaii.  It so happens that Lex has gone to Hawaii too.  I wonder if Clara will really let Lex pick out her swimsuit.  If I could afford to go to Hawaii to observe what happens, maybe I could tell you.  Maybe I’ll ask Clara when she gets back, … but she’ll probably give me the thumbs down.]