Disclaimers: Superman, its characters and storylines, are property of Warner Bros. Studios and DC Comics. I gain no profit from it, and certainly see no reason to believe I would. I’ve got more things to worry about, anyway.
The silver SUV turned yet another corner before making a stop. A set of squeaky tires, wet with the rain and slightly brown with dirt, pulled across from a darkened building and settled when the engine died. Inside, behind the wheel, the driver took one look at the building and sighed.
No wonder he wanted to get this place fixed. In this part of the city it could masquerade as a crack house.
She opened the door and stepped out. Another sigh passed her lips.
Why did I decide to wear heels to this place? I knew it was raining, but no…
A gust of wind pulled strands of hair from its bun. Waving them away irritably, Lois reached inside her jacket pocket and pulled out a faded piece of yellow paper, rereading the address before scanning the building trying to find its match. Richard had said that this was the place, but surely…
Then again, the man had always been full of surprises. He had always talked about how sometimes the last missing pieces to a puzzle were right in front of you the whole time – the best things were right in front of your face.
Whatever that means, she thought with a huff. Even though she knew flying was one of his passions, Richard would never go to a place like this. The building was just off the pier, a fix-‘em-up for planes and boats and other water-based machines. A small dock ran into the water, while an open garage might have been a place for jet skis to be worked on. Rust covered every surface, and the darkened skies did nothing to help the place look any more appealing. The roof looked like it was slightly caving in on one corner. Set above an opened door in need of paint, was an old sign that matched the name and address written on the paper. I guess this is it.
She took a few steps toward the building, listening to her heels echo across the empty surroundings, and pulled her coat closer to her when the wind blew again. The door handle was cold to the touch and creaked when opened. Obviously the building had been abandoned for some time.
“Hello?” she called out, scanning the walls before her. There were pictures hanging crookedly on the walls, papers scattered everywhere. She took another step inside. “
The howling wind was the only sound that met her ears, the force of it making the building groan and slightly shift. There would be a storm soon. Better to finish things now than get caught in the rain at the docks. Or caught by whoever lives around here. She shuddered at the thought.
A small desk occupied one corner near a window. Most of the papers on the floor had to be from that area, and Lois, noting the open files on the desk, took a glance at them, keeping them in place when another gust threatened to blow them away. They were records of past clients. Several paragraphs were highlighted in yellow, others in pink. She folded back some more papers and checked the last names, pulling out a single sheet of paper with Richard’s name on it.
Oil changed, engine and propeller blades cleaned… nothing out of the ordinary. He said these needed to be checked before he left. She scanned the paper. It recorded everything from what was cleaned and how much space was in the small plane, but there was no sign of a charge.
The building groaned. For a moment Lois froze and looked outside. The wind had stopped blowing. Was water collecting on the roof?
Her hand moved into her pocket and closed around the small silver lighter inside. Since she had gotten rid of her cigarettes and vowed to stop smoking, the lighter had become something she had come to rely on, a lucky charm for any mess she had gotten herself into.
But this isn’t a mess, right? This is just a check-up on Richard and how the repairs went. If only there was someone here.
Shaking her head at her foolish fears, she folded the paper and tucked it into the breast pocket of her jacket, taking one more glance around the small room before making her way to the door.
The building groaned again. Loudly. Wood cracked from above her head and glass shattered all around her. Before she could scream she was buried under wet wood and sheetrock. One piece in particular, a section of the door frame, slammed hard into her leg and forced her to the floor. Her head cracked against the concrete and for a moment she saw stars.
Water flooded over her eyes and face. If time had passed she was unaware of it. Her entire body protested every movement, and her throat felt so sore she could barely speak. Groaning against the ache in her chest when she took a breath, she braced herself for the worst and muttered pathetically, “Help.”
In the chaos of the newsroom, with papers fluttering and voices chattering, coffee pouring and mouths screaming and muttering, keys clicking and pens clacking, footsteps racing to beat the deadline or moving slowly to their destination, the world outside as thunderous as ever, he heard her. He turned his head to the window, staring straight at the direction of the docks, and froze for only a second before racing out of the building faster than the human eye could see.
She couldn’t feel her leg. Or her arm. She was pretty sure that trying to move anything was going to require more effort than she could manage, and would cost more pain than she could bear. The piece of the building – whatever it was – on her chest seemed to get heavier and heavier with all the water flowing onto it. Had it started to rain? And if so, had she been knocked out for that long?
White flashed into her vision. The section of the roof was being removed but at an odd angle. She screamed, but her voice was so raw that it creaked before volume made any difference. The piece stopped moving.
“Lois?” His voice echoed into the haze of her mind. Gentle fingers removed small pieces of debris and dirt from her face. When she finally looked up at him, squinting at the light surrounding his frame, she could barely stay awake to talk to him. “I know it hurts to move it, but it has to be removed. I’m going to lift it straight up on the count of three.”
She tried to open her mouth to protest but found that she couldn’t do it. Her torso was being crushed beneath the roof’s weight and the pain had to be cracked ribs. She could hear his voice faintly in her mind but she couldn’t concentrate on it. He was saying something… slowly… numbers?
Suddenly the weight was gone and only the pain remained. After a few seconds of screaming in agony, she finally fainted.
“Lois? Hang on! Lois!?”