The Crimson Shadow of Smallville
Pete approached Clark in the hallway.
“How’s it going Clark?”
“Great, Pete. How are you?”
“No, really Clark, back up to speed yet?”
“Uh, no, but I’m better.”
Now Clark understood exactly what Pete was talking about. Clark had had to give up his high speed jaunts about town due to some embarrassing trips and falls leading to some, fortunately, minor property damage. He had not yet gained control to a new quirk in his vision that was messing up his depth perception. This made him too unsteady on his feet to risk his normal way of making up for lost time. He was getting control of his new power. Let’s just say that his telescope wasn’t getting the workout that it used too – and that Clark was again able to keep an eye on a certain girl even though she now lived across town.
Pete resumed the conversation, “I’m not really into pitying you for temporarily losing something that I have never been lucky enough to have. After all, you got the speed; I got the good looks. That makes us about even. Anyway, the boss lady sent me to give you a message – “You’ve got mail.” “
“Apparently Dr Swann thinks you are still working at “The Torch” and sent you an e-mail. Chloe says she’ll be out of the office from 2:00 to 3:00pm so feel free to collect your mail at that time.”
At 2:15pm, Clark logged onto one of the new computers at “The Torch” and replied to Dr. Swann’s e-mail with a simple “I’m here.” He was a little concerned with what kind of security he would have on a computer furnished by Lionel Luthor. Immediately came the response:
Clark, Hope you are doing well. This weekend, I am sending my Best and most trusted assistant, Rosa, to monitor a student experiment. Rosa will be supervising the use of various equipment I will be sending to observe the Crimson Shadow effect described in the Chloe Sullivan article entitled “The Crimson Shadow of Smallville: Ghost Visitation or Wormhole Phenomenon” (copy attached). I thought you might want to volunteer to assist your fellow student, Paula Hedger, in conducting her survey and observations. It shouldn’t be out of your way. From my understanding, you may even be able to see your home from that vantage point. I have asked Rosa to bring you a little something that might enable us to communicate a little better. Please plan to attend. Take Care. Your friend always, Dr. Swann.
Clark had heard of the Crimson Shadow all his life. As a child, the story frightened him. As he grew older he became curious for a while. When the teen years hit, he lost interest. Mysteries in far off places always seemed more interesting than anything to do with his hometown.
The story goes that an area of red light follows the path of the meteor shower through town and into the fields beyond. Some say that the light is the essence of the ghosts of those who died the day of the meteor shower looking for the ones they left behind. Some say that the skies were red before the meteor shower began. “Red sky in morning – sailor’s warning” – not that anyone cares about sailors and their warnings in Smallville. But old timers like Mr. Fforde, whose underwear is older than most Smallville residents, point out that the red skies were an annual event dating back before the time when Smallville was founded. Some historians say that the Native Americans who lived their long before white men set foot on the continent observed the red skies and hung a tribe member to a cross in sacrifice each year to appease the gods – a tradition adopted by the high school football team.
People used to gather to observe the phenomenon. Clark tried to go once and got violently ill. The path of the meteor shower was a path of pain for him. The whole zone was littered with what he has come to call “Kryptonite.” “Was” is the operative word. Some years ago, Luthor Corp purchased the mineral rights to the entire area and sifted the ground yard by square yard, inch by square inch for any greenish rock they could find. (One employee took that quite literally and tossed aside a hexagonal piece of metal he found that wasn’t the least bit green.)
Clark stayed home each year and, from his loft, observed Lana, alone on her front porch, haunted by her memories. How he wished he could get close enough to comfort her. The stories Clark had heard made him feel that he didn’t miss much by staying away. Even standing in the middle of the “crimson” zone, most people observed more of an orange glow. But some claimed to look up and see a red fireball in the sky while others a few feet away say nothing. Well, this year, Clark would give his telescope like vision a test.
Paula Hedger, exchange student from Dorset, England and, following in the footsteps of her twin brother, was a math/astronomy geek who was a little ill at ease being out of doors. She carefully explained to her select group of volunteers the roles they were to play in recording the events they hoped to witness. Eight people were paired off in teams of two. The second person in each group was redundant to make sure no one went off course. Each person was given a meter sensitive to the crimson radiation they hoped to encounter. They were also given global positioning tracking devices. $Four positions were to be maintained: Forward, Right, Left and Center. The center team traveled in the path of the radiation as it traveled across the countryside staying at the highest level of radiation. The forward team stayed directly ahead of the center team moving forward the second any radiation was indicated on the dial. The right and left teams stayed in line with the center team and stayed at the point where the meter just began to register the radiation. The center team also monitored the relative positions of the other teams. Rosa followed in a golf cart with a compact yet powerful telescope. The teams marched on across the field and the readings were being fed into a computer. The three outer teams were walking on the perimeter of an ellipse with Paula holding the center position. It was hoped that the ellipse would indicate the angle at which the radiation was striking the ground and allow them to point the telescope along that angle back towards the source of the anomaly – giving them a chance to get a good look at it.
On the sidelines, Luthor Corp employees watched – saying they were instructed to observe and make sure that no minerals were removed from the site.
The march wasn’t the most exciting field trip the students had ever been on but Clark was lost in his own thoughts. He was aware of the weight of his own body. This was a strange sensation for him. He knew his body had weight, but he never felt any effort moving that weight before – even when he was carrying a tractor on his back.. Clark moved to the left and the needle started reading more red radiation and Clark was more aware of his weight. He moved to the right out of the zone and felt less aware. This was strange. Paula’s shouts on the walkie talkie to be mindful of what he was doing brought him back to an awareness of the task at hand. He looked over at his teammate Pete who looked back at him straight in the eye and said, “What’s wrong? Why are you walking slouched over like that? Not that I should mind – being around you generally results in me having a stiff neck by the end of the day.” “It’s OK, Pete,” said Clark stiffening up, “just a little drowsy.” This caused Pete to have a puzzled look on his face. Before Pete could say another word, Paula announced over the walkie talkies, “OK. Everybody can stop now. Put your instruments at your feet Let’s turn around and see what we can see. [Pause] Oh my dear God!” Paula was looking back from where they had come looking up at the sky with her mouth hanging open. Pete said, “Clark, I don’t see anything, but certainly you can. What’s happening?” Clark, “It’s my turn to be clueless, I don’t see a thing. Where she’s looking. I can see grains on dust on the moon, but I don’t have an idea what she’s looking at.” Paula began waving everyone to her as Rosa set the telescope up for a better view. Rosa also transmitted the co-ordinates so Hubbell could have a look. Clark was making his way through the field with some difficulty as Pete bounded ahead. As they got close to Paula, it was like looking around a corner into a tunnel with an intense red ball of light at the end. The edges of the hole that they looked though seemed to waiver a bit like opaque, billowing curtains surrounding the red light. Each person took a turn looking through the telescope. Clark’s turn came and he decided to get a really good look. Concentrating to get the best view he could – Clark looked through the telescope. He knew he was looking at a star. A red star. He smiled for a second and then he felt something. Something he didn’t recognize and he immediately decided he didn’t like it. He hadn’t realized that he had screamed. He was lucky he didn’t deafen his companions. Had Clark been human and had someone shine an intense light in his eyes suddenly in a pitch-dark room, he might have known what he was feeling. The pain shot down his neck and he was having his first headache. He staggered backwards and said, “Gotta go.” and left, stumping on a small rise in the ground and landing hard. He came back up with a deep cut in his hand. “What’s going on,” he mumbled. Pete came up to assist him as some of the other students laughed at what a wimp Clark had turned out to be. Clark tried to look at his hand but he couldn’t focus. Pete turned to Rosa and said, I’m taking Clark home, OK?” Rosa nodded and handed Pete a small package saying, “Dr. Swann wanted Clark to have this.” Pete took the package and helped Clark to his car and then home to the Kent farm.
At Martha’s insistence, Clark was taken to the optometrist on Monday. The doctor prescribed a pair of eyeglasses for Clark saying that Clark’s vision must have been getting worse for some time. One hour later, Clark was fitted for his first pair of glasses. His strength was returning and his cut was healing. The red zone seemed to have drained or negated the yellow sun energy that Clark’s body had stored, but his vision wasn’t giving any sign of improving.
The worry about being normal – something he had hoped for all his life but now felt anxious about, had made him forget the gift from Doctor Swann. He didn’t remember until Pete asked what he had been given. At home, Clark opened the package and found a cell phone. There was a single button on it. Clark pressed the button and in a moment heard the raspy voice of Dr. Swann saying, “Hello, Clark.”
“Hello, Dr. Swann thanks for the phone. Sorry, I didn’t call right away, I’ve been kind of … occupied.”
“I was a little worried, Rosa said you weren’t well. If I had known I would have had her stay and make some chicken soup for you. Rosa makes the Best soup -- absolutely marvelous. Anyway, no worries about the phone. It’s absolutely secure, totally scrambled and it generates a signal that scrambles any bugging devices that may be anywhere around you.”
“That’s good. Thanks.”
“I wanted you to know something. I always assumed that the ship you came in formed some kind of warp field so that you could get here quickly -- or that you were in suspended animation for a very long time.”
“I really don’t know anything about that Doctor.”
“Oh, I’m not pumping you for information here, Clark, I’m supplying … at least as much as I can and I’m guessing about a good part of it. I thought that if your ship created a warp field, that the meteors that arrived when you did tagged along with you for the ride.”
“I know. People died so that I could be saved. I wish I had had some choice ….”
“Clark, that’s just it, your ship didn’t create the warp. It’s still there. And there is historical record to indicate it’s been there for a very long time. I don’t know what it is and it certainly can’t be natural but it seems like there is a Earth-Krypton interstate -- err, “Inter-world” out there – and the first stop at this end is Smallville.”
“But, still, if my Father hadn’t sent me through ….”
“Then the meteors would have rolled right on through without you. …”
“Clark, are you there, Clark?”
Clark was there. But he had lost another power, the power to speak.
A week later, Clark was heading down the stairs and out the door when Jonathan called to him. “CLARK, forgetting something?”
“I don’t think so, the cows are milked, the chickens are fed, …”
“And the glasses are …?”
“On my dresser. Great news, Dad, I don’t need them anymore! “
“Go get them.”
“Go get them.”
“Normal people don’t need glasses one day and not the next. Get them.”
“We’ll tell them I had Lasix.”
“Who performed the procedure? Who authorized someone as young as you to have that done?”
“OK. I’m wearing contacts.”
“I didn’t realize that you were that vain.”
“SON! We have to be careful here. Maybe later, you can find out about contacts and know enough about them to fool people into thinking you’re wearing them, but as for now, it’s just not worth the risk. I kept the glass display lenses that came with the frames. They thought it was odd that I wanted them but they gave them to me anyway. Swap the lenses. Put on the glasses and get to school. You can pretend to have Lasix when you are out on your own. It’ll be sooner than you think.”
Mumbles, “I’ll look like a dork!”
“Well, I’ll get you a pocket protector too and you can have the whole look going. Which reminds me – that British girl Paula has been calling several times every night for you. I think she has a HUGE crush ….”
“I’ll wear the lame glasses, Dad, just don’t say another word – not another word.”
There is no more. Every day
can't be exciting.
He just went to school ... in his dorky glasses...
And like every other day, he was bored, b o r e d, BORED!
He read all his text books the first day of school. Now what! Tray to stay alert and pretend to work at the average pace.
Oh, no. Writing ignment. Creative writing? In class. 20 minutes? Can't write at superspeed in front of people.
Heck No! Science Fiction?! What could I make up any stranger than my life in this town?
Think. Think. All I want to do is lie back and stare into space. Hmmm. Good Idea. Let me try that. Combine X-ray vision and telescopic vision. Good old sqeeky clean Clark is going to cheat for once. I won't write fiction at all -- I'll just write what I see on that planet over .... there! No, No -- that one! All right! Piece of cake.
Papers coming back. Can't wait. Whaaaat! "Not credible. Science fiction shouldn't break known phyical laws. Absurd. Could never happen." C MINUS! And this teacher has a crush on me!
Like I said. Not every day is exciting.
Every city has many stories. Some good, some bad, some strange, some scary, some funny. This one was dull.
Later that day at the Kent
Brush up, brush down, brush up, brush down. White wash the fence.
Hmmm. It's drying.
A little dryer.
Oops, not quite.
Wonder if Prue is doing anything fascinating right now? Wonder why she called me "the Max's brother?"
A Sequel to "Crimson Shadow"
Sitting in the field, watching his paint job dry, Clark hears the phone Dr. Swann gave him ringing in his bedroom. He dawdled for a couple milliseconds then made the round trip to his room and then back to the fence before the phone rang a second time.
"Yes, Dr. Swann. Hey, thanks for sending that soup. Ma insists that Rosa send the recipe when she has a minute."
"Well, I haven't been able to get it out of her. She claims it is her job security. I'll have her call your Mom and maybe she can get the secret out of her. OK?"
"Well, I don't want to interupt you if it's a bad time."
"It's OK. I was just watching paint dry. It beats watching some TV shows. The changes in the paint at a molecular level is kind of soothing to watch. I can continue to watch while we talk. Whatever you say have to say will be our secret -- yours mine and the fence post."
"Sure you trust that fence post?"
"More than most."
"OK. Here's the scoop. Seems I mislead you. Mislead myself it seems."
"I wasn't able to find Krypton, so I thought it wasn't there."
"You mean Krypton is still ... somewhere."
"I mean ... that I ... just don't know. I did know, but I was wrong to be certain."
"I think the post understood that more than I did."
"You will understand. We studied legends about Krypton's star. It hasn't been sighted in at least a few centuries, so we thought it was gone. It isn't. You saw it throught the wormhole. We calculated where it should be and there was nothing there. Finally, we started studying the "nothing" that we found. It had borders. Regular, smooth borders. Some thought that they were looking at a black hole. Now it seems we were looking at a Dyson Sphere."
"O ... K ... ?"
"The solar system was dis-assembled. Whatever matter they may have had -- asteroids, planets, old aluminum cans, whatever, were used to construct a spherical shell around their sun. This shell is used to contain an collect any solar energy their sun chose to give up."
"What does this mean?"
"It means that the Kryptonians were far more advanced than I could have imagined. It also looks like they may have used the sphere to shield their existance from the rest of the universe. We knew where to look so we found them. Maybe the sphere was a better cloak at one time and has stopped functioning at full capacity. I don't know and can only guess. This could mean that Krypton had enemies -- or feared others seeking what they had. They protected themselves and cut themselves off. It's like the Great Wall of China on a vastly larger scale."
"Interesting. I appreciate you sharing this with me. I am really curious about my roots and all."
"Well, that's not all of it. Because we can't see into that sphere -- except throught that portal you observed a week or so ago -- OH! Your eyes. I'm so sorry, I meant to inquire how they are doing?"
"They are fine. We over-reacted going to the doctor. Now my father feels I have to wear glasses rather than raise suspicions."
"But you are all right. No residual weakness or any other issues."
"Only a residual appreciation of being able to see so well -- but I'm sure that will go away soon."
"Great. Uh-Oh. Help an old man. Where did I leave off?"
"Seeing into the sphere through the portal ...."
"Right. Normally, we can't see in there so we don't know what's in there. Krypton may still exist."
"Then why was I sent here."
"I said "MAY still exist." If it does exist, there still could been an environmental disaster or a political reason for sending you here."
"Or I may have been a failed genetic experiment."
"If that is the case, I wish my failures would have had such spectacular results. No, Clark, I doubt that you are a failure in any regard -- and the evidence in the form of your Father's messages suggest otherwise."
"So, are you going to try looking through the portal again next year?
"Certainly, but we are also exploring other options.
"Our end of the portal will soon be within the range of new technology. We will soon be able to calculate how far it is to the other end of the portal. Within the decade, we may be taking a little trip. Are you at all interested in returning to Krypton for a little visit?"
Next week, "The White Shadow of Smallville." Ken Howard, an ex-basketball star injured at the peak of his career gets a job as coach of the high school basketball team and marries the new sheriff.
Wait a minute ....
That can't be right.
Preferred" sequel to
.... To continue ... Lionel slowly gets out of his fence post costume and back into his $1000.00 pair of pants ....
Lionel (muttering): I wish that boy would learn the futility of using a whitewash when a high-grade polymer is called for."
"Well, It Wasn't A
Plane" Sequel to "Crimson Shadow"
"Clark, this is Dr. Swann again. This is kind of embarassing. We were finding Dyson sphere's everywhere, so we had someone check out the telescope and it seems a bird had done his business on the lens. I was right the first time. Krypton is gone. Unpack your bags. You're stuck with us."