The Doug Petty that
Doug smiled and closed the door. “Yes, Lucy is a spitfire, isn’t she? Always was. Nearly as bad as Lois. On only one occasion have I seen the two together, and believe me, Mr. Kent, it’s nothing you’d want to be apart of. When those sisters start arguing, you’d better get out of the way. Richard learned that fast.”
Doug pulled a seat aside for
“Sure. Anything you’d like. Just as long as it isn’t used for blackmail or anything.”
Ignoring the rumbling chuckle from the older man,
“There’s a picture of you and Richard at the White household that Lois showed me. Forgive me for being blunt, sir, but you look different.”
Doug’s confusion completely melted with his laugh. His heartbeat didn’t change a bit. “Oh, you mean this one?” He grabbed a frame from his desk and handed it to
Doug took the frame back. A gleam was in his eye. “I can see you’ve been around Lois for a while. It looks like she’s finally rubbed off on you.”
“Uh, ‘rubbed off’?”
Doug leaned forward in his seat, the excited gleam brightening. “Off the record with you, Mr. Kent, I’m a very big fan of yours. I had heard from Richard that Clark Kent was supposed to be an awkward farm boy from
“Well! I, uh…”
“You’re welcome. However, I doubt you came here fishing for compliments. What can I help you with?”
Doug leaned back in his chair, which gave another groan. “Richard and I first met in high school and thought nothing about each other until we had chemistry projects together. It turns out his insightful wit and my humorous logic were wonderful partners, and we became fast friends after that. When we graduated college and parted ways, we were able to maintain the friendship by phone calls, and that’s how I found out Richard was working for the international section of the Planet Several months afterward, I got a phone call late at night.” Doug’s eyes momentarily took on a darker shade. “He was in
“And this was the time you discovered he was a pilot?”
Doug nodded. “He showed me the seaplane he had just purchased. There was this excitement and pride in his voice, but I could tell that something was bothering him. When I asked him about it, he said that he had an idea for a radio emergency signal that could be installed in the plane and initiated anytime he needed it. I had no idea why he was asking me, since I had just been accepted to the police force and had no clue where I would go from there, but he said that he wanted to be as safe as possible when he took another flight. Should something happen, he wanted someone on the police force to know about it, even if it was a rookie like me.”
“So, was the plan approved by your bosses?”
“Not until we could prove it worked. Richard and I spent months, nearly a year, perfecting that thing and making it work correctly. Once we were able to get a strong signal, we tested it mile by mile until we figured that it could send a notice within a fifty mile radius. During that time, I was elected to sheriff, got this office, and was made head of investigative matters. When I gave Richard the idea of an email or phone alert, we searched for all the necessary pieces until we had it. It’s funny - that was well over two years ago. We never actually used it until now.”
“So how did you know where to start in the investigation?”
Doug opened the inbox on his computer. While clicking through emails, he said slowly, “Richard always sent me emails on what he had gotten done where. He told me about this place on the docks which had been there for several decades and had done the best job he had ever seen on his plane. The last email I got from him was back in May. It had a copy of the receipt given to him and all the work done on his plane.”
Doug turned the monitor and showed
“Nothing. The building had collapsed by the time we made it there. I knew Lois was going to look into it herself, but I felt horrible knowing that she was caught in that. Thank God for Superman.”
Doug blinked in surprise. “No. Hanley and Bros. has been in service for a long time. As a matter of fact, I believe the business section of the Planet had an article commending the community service of Hanley and Bros. not too long ago. If she thinks it had been abandoned, she might have been referring to the wear and tear the building had taken over the years. For a place known for repairs, it sure needed some itself.”
“Did you find anything unusual in the wreckage?”
“Nothing that would suggest the collapse was anything but an accident. Really, the only thing strange was the roof damage. The shingles hadn’t been changed for a while and there was some evidence of leaking. Beyond that…” Doug shrugged.
“And is this wreckage still at the docks?”
“Not anymore. Once I realized that Hanley and Bros. was where Richard went for repairs, I had the wreckage moved to a secure location. It’ll be taken care of in a few days. We didn’t want the public to get into it.”
Doug gave him an admirable, if not sardonic, smile. “I’m sorry, Mr.
“It’s all with the wreckage.”
“And what are you doing in the meantime about Richard himself?”
“The email notification we received gives us an idea of where he is. We suspect that we might have a location on him in the next day or so.”
The grin that had been steadily growing on his face was filled with amusement, though
The light of the moon was blocked by thick clouds that still rumbled with the growing strength of a storm. Keeping his altitude close to the skyline and his eyes trained on the docks, Superman flew over the city streets and barely noticed the whispers of awe when he passed by. Weaving his way by buildings and eventually lifting into the sky, he stopped at the docks and observed the scene before him.
The police tape had been removed and the wreckage relocated like Doug had said. Concentrating his gaze on the wood, he found several scrapes and splinters of debris making a trail toward one of the buildings. It’s path lead him to another building sealed off, yellow tape stretching across its doors.
Glancing to either side, Superman trained his vision once again on the doors before him, watching them melt away before his eyes. The wreckage had been stacked messily in piles, but seeing them was enough to add detail to his memory. His gaze scanned each part piece by piece until…
He stopped, blinking, and focused harder. Buried near the bottom of the pile were the three sections that had been weaker. Lack of sunlight made it harder to see, but he committed it to memory anyway, intent on using it later to compare with the model he had made.
He stiffened. Pushing away the sound of the waves, Superman could hear the irregular heartbeat and the choking sobs that racked her body. She must have woken up again. For a moment he listened to her sobs, feeling the once determined fire drain from his body with every gasping breath she took. Earlier, after he had left the
Pushing the thought from his mind, Superman took one last look at the wreckage before its inevitable disposal and flew back into the skies above. Once he passed the atmosphere and let his body hang suspended in space, he opened his hearing to the rest of the world.
But her heartbeat, steady, strong, now even and regular, was the loudest sound of all.
When he woke up his first thought was to move. It was a terrible decision. His neck burned with the action, and he groaned painfully.
“Good. You’re finally awake.”
He could tell light was burning from the other side of his eyelids, but something told him not to open them, knowing that doing so would only result in more pain. He tried to swallow instead, and found his throat rough and sticky. Letting his head fall back to his chest, he slowly opened his eyes.
He was in a chair. His arms and legs were tied to the arms. There was a gag wrapped around his mouth, which would explain his dry throat…
His eyes burned. He clenched them shut.
“This isn’t a dream, I’m afraid. Opening your eyes again won’t wake you up.”
The voice was to the left. Taking a deep breath to calm his racing heart, Richard White opened his eyes.