“The Substitute”

Rated PG


The fire department and a few neighbors had gathered at the Ross farm to do whatever they could to help.  It all began when Pete went missing.  In a stroke of luck, Mr. Ross had heard Pete’s muffled shouts coming from a small sink hole in a muddy field.  The family had attempted getting a line down to Pete but they couldn’t get it down far enough … and they were knocking mud down on top of Pete with every attempt.  The fire department quickly began digging a hole near the one Pete had fallen into so that they could dig a cross tunnel over to get Pete out.  They worked carefully because their was natural gas in the immediate area.  Jon Kent brought lumber to help keep the walls of the rescue tunnel from collapsing and Martha had emptied the refrigerator to bring food for the Rosses and the people who came out to help.


One of the firemen spotted Clara Kent hanging onto Martha’s skirt and got an idea.  He said, “She is skinny enough to be lowered down the hole to get a rope to Pete if she doesn’t mind getting a little muddy.”


Clara said, “Mommy, I want to help Peter … Please!”


Martha said, “Isn’t this a little risky?”


Clara said, “Pleeeeease!”


Martha said, “Okay, we can try.”


The fireman tied a rope around Clara.  Jon and Martha gave her a hug before she walked to the hole.  They began lowering her into it and all went well until her eyes went below ground level.  Her arms shot out and she pulled herself up.  Martha and Jon could see the terror on her face.  The fireman tried to calm her by talking to her, but Clara was frozen like a statue.  Jon came over and lifted Clara to his hip.  He said, “It’s no good.  She’s claustrophobic.  I’m surprised that she even tried it.  I’ll help you digging the rescue hole.”


Clara said, “Sorry!  I want to help Peter.  I can dig the hole fast.”


Jon said, “No, Clara.  There are many people here so we will dig the hole.  You sit with Mommy, eat a sandwich and watch me dig.  Okay?”


Clara sadly said, “Okay.”


Jonathan and the others got back to work on the rescue hole and were making great progress.  Mr. Ross, Jonathan and a fireman were in the hole when a natural gas pocket ignited.  The walls of the hole collapsed on top of them and flames shot out of the opening of the hole that Pete was in.


Clara screamed.  Martha held her tight and tried not to panic.  Everyone who could picked up a shovel and began to dig frantically.  Clara began shouting in a mixture of Kryptonese and English, “Daddy!  Somebody help my Daddy!  I’m scared.  I can’t help my Daddy!  Someone help him PLEASE!”


Clara could barely see through her tears, but she saw someone walking towards her.  A girl with long dark hair marched up and said in Kryptonese, “What’s the matter?  Why are you being such a baby?”


Clara said, “My Daddy is buried.  I want to help him but I am too scared!  Don’t let him die!  PLEASE don’t let him die!”


The little girl said, “What’s the big deal?!  There’s nothing that could hurt you.  It’s just dirt, water and fire!”


Clara said, “I KNOW!  I want to but I CAN’T!  I CAN’T!  I’m SCARED!  PLEASE HELP ME!”


The little girl said, “Oh blessed RAO!  I guess I have to be the one to get dirty this time.  I might as well – he’s my Father too.  And Peter is REALLY cute.  Why don’t you just relax while I do this?  Take a nap!”  Clara stiffened in Martha’s arms and passed out.  The little girl un-wrapped the arms around her, stood up and headed for the hole.  She picked up one end of the rope.  Two firemen tried to block her but she ducked and pushed between them.  At the hole, she turned back, looked at Martha Kent, smiled and waved, then she took a step backwards into the fire and disappeared down the hole.


The fireman rushed up and grabbed hold of the rope before all of it went down the hole.  They began pulling on it but they could barely move it.  More people rushed up to help.  Someone backed one of the tractors up and they tied the rope to it.  Slowly, the rope came out of the hole.  Like a string of muddy pearls, they popped out one at a time – Pete Ross, Mr. Ross, three firemen, Jonathan Kent and the little girl.


One of the firemen walked up to the girl and said, “That was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen.”


The little girl said, “That was nothing.  I’d better be going now.”  The little girl fell flat on her back.


Clara woke up in the bath tub of the Kent farm house.  Martha was washing the mud off of her.  Clara screamed, “DADDY!”


Martha said, “Shhh, Shhh, Shhh!  Just calm down.”


Clara said, “Is my Daddy … is he dead!”


Martha said, “You know better than that.  He’s outside getting hosed off.  You slept through us hosing you down.  We have to finish with you here so he can take a shower.”


Clara said, “I wanted to … help him.  I couldn’t.  I was too scared.  I didn’t want her to have to do it.  I’m sorry.”


Martha said, “What are you talking about?  I couldn’t hold you back.  You jumped right down that hole and got everyone out.”


Clara said, “No I didn’t!  Maybe … maybe that other girl did it … the pretty one with the long black hair.”