Superman: Creature of the Atomic Age
(© Robert Denham)
Dedicated to the memory of Noel Niell
The first--and the best--Lois Lane.
5:45 am; Atlantic Ocean
hour and a half out of the docks, the sun just clearing the horizon in
slightly-overcast skies, the fishing boat FULL CAPACITY bobbed in
choppy waters, slowly trolling, looking for the day’s first catch.
"What the hell is that?" Mike Franke asked, indicating the blip on the
fishfinder readout. "Look at the size of that reading."
"Could be a whale," Derek Morgan, owner and captain of the fishing boat,
replied off-handedly. "We’re far enough out; either that, or it’s a huge school
of something. Tell the guys to go ahead and drop the nets, port side, and let’s
see what goes."
The three-man crew did as told, and the heavy nets sank into the foamy wave
caps. Morgan smiled; "Whatever it is, it’s big, and we’re almost right over it.
We could get our whole day’s catch, right here. Finish up early and get on home
for the weekend."
Franke nodded brightly. It did happen.
Suddenly, the waters parted violently, and a deafening, unnatural roar filled
the still, salt-tinged air. As the roar faded, only the sound of the eternal
waves slapping against the hull cut the silence.
Even the gulls hitching a ride on the boat’s rigging were speechless.
For a moment. They suddenly took to the air, squawking raucously, fleeing in
alarm and heading in the direction of shore.
The five men stood on the vessel’s worn, rusty metal deck, staring upward in
It was not a whale.
It definitely was not a large school of fish.
The floating wreckage of the FULL CAPACITY was found almost two weeks
later, by a Coast Guard vessel. No bodies were among the debris.
10:32am, Washington, DC
The group was assembled in the Situation Room at the White House.
"It’s fifty-eight miles out to sea from Metropolis, at the moment, Mr. President."
Admiral Wilkins advised the assembled group, which included, besides the
president, the other members of the Joint Chiefs, and a scientist named Doctor
Vance, supposedly an expert on this particular problem. "It’s on a bearing
straight for the city. It’s not in a big hurry, though; it’s fast, but it’s
like it’s taking its time, somehow; keeping a bearing on something. We expect
it to reach the coast within three hours, give or take."
many ships do you have in place, admiral?" the president asked tensely, gazing
at the satellite image on the overlarge screen.
right now;" Wilkins answered, "three destroyers and a carrier. We’ve positioned
all of them out of its direct path, but within striking range of their guns.
They’re keeping pace with it. It’s not hard to get eyes on, that’s for sure.
More ships are en route, but we doubt they’ll get there before the thing makes
landfall. Given past experiences, though, we don’t think anything we have will
have any direct effect on it, anyway. But then," he added, "...Metropolis does
have its own defense."
The president nodded, uncertainly. "If he’s around...or even on the planet." And
that was always a big ‘if’.
was only one of him, after all.
the mayor’s office and the state’s governor have been alerted," he said. "The
Metropolis police are evacuating the waterfront areas as we speak, but there
isn’t time for a full evacuation. No one outside the ‘need-to-know’ circle is
being told; there would be a mass panic." Which one was worse, there, he
couldn’t actually say.
Gatsby, the Army representative, spoke up, then; "The governor has called up
the National Guard; they’re setting up a perimeter for ten blocks around the
evac’d area. They have tanks, artillery and air support, such as choppers and
drones. Like the admiral said, though, we don’t expect to have much, if any,
effect," he said grimly. "Look at what that thing did to San Francisco,"
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