Chapter 1: Speak And Spell
Chloe Sullivan had been dying to tell Clark the latest piece of news - ever since the moment she'd entered The Talon and seen him sitting there alone at the counter, but, somehow, she'd managed to put it off long enough for her coffee to arrive. However, now that Clark was her captive audience, she couldn't resist telling him any longer.
"Hey, Clark, you'll never guess what? Some freak that the police arrested last night claims that he was defeated by someone with strange powers. He even gave them a name."
Clark went silent. "I know," he said, as he remembered the latest powerful mutant he'd defeated last night. He was hoping that the darkness would have concealed his identity, but obviously it hadn't.
"You do?" responded an annoyed Chloe, the wind taken out of her sails. "You know all about Insect Queen?"
"Of course I do," replied Clark, lying, with a big smile appearing on his face.
"So who do you think she is?"
Meanwhile Lana Lang was nearby chatting to her assistants.
"So, that's how my parents died," concluded Lana. "You looked like you wanted to know."
"You think that's bad?" replied Alvy. "My parent colony was in a field when suddenly these running shoes came falling from the sky, faster than you can possibly imagine, leaving my family destroyed forever. I'll never forget those running shoes and I've vowed that if I ever -"
"Oh, be quiet," interrupted a hurt Lana, adjusting her Insect Queen mask. "Who cares about a bunch of insects? I'm talking about my parents!"
"I'm sorry, my Queen" replied a sorrowful Alvy, as he turned from his friends and walked away from behind Chloe's coffee cup.
"Hey, you've got to have some sort of perspective," explained Lana to the remaining ants. "After all, my parents dying was a tragedy that will haunt my every moment until the day I die and beyond. You see, my story's important. I made the cover of Time magazine - I doubt if Alvy could even make the cover of The Tor-"
Lana's monologue was interrupted by a large SPLAT sound coming from Alvy's direction.
Chloe looked at the ant who'd she'd just crushed with her rolled-up copy of The Torch. "Yuk. Lana should take more care of this place. I can't believe how many insects I've seen round here lately."
"Maybe she's Insect Queen?" ventured Clark laughing.
"Yeah, I can just see it now. Orphaned at a young age when her parents were killed by a freak meteor, Lana vowed by their grave to defend the world from any meteor freaks. Now, with the size and the intellect of an insect, Lana Lang is the pink princess of petiteness known as Insect Queen. Using her bee-sting to carve her initials into meteor freaks everywhere so that when anyone sees the initials IQ they'll automatically think of Lana Lang."
"Stop it," yelled a laughing Clark, as he glamorously snorted coffee out of his nose. "Chloe, you're terrible."
Meanwhile, the miniature Lana, who'd been listening in on the conversation ever since Chloe had murdered Alvy, was unable to take Chloe's jealous rant anymore and pushed at the cup of coffee next to her sending it all over Chloe.
Clark sat at the counter alone.
"Hey, Clark," said Lana, appearing from behind the counter. "No Chloe?"
"She had to go and change. Coffee accident," explained Clark.
"I hope she wasn't saying anything nasty about me," said Lana, a hurt look in her eyes.
"She was," confided Clark. "But don't worry, I told her how terrible she was being."
"Well, that's really big of you, Clark," said Lana smiling. "Why if I didn't know better I'd think you had something to do with that accident."
"Maybe," responded a smiling Clark, not realizing that he'd dug himself into a hole and that it was getting bigger.
Whereas Chloe Sullivan's absence from The Talon was conspicuous, nobody had noticed Pete Ross' absence. Of course, Pete Ross had been absent a lot recently. Ever since the visit by Zatanna had revealed to him that Clark had a weakness against magic, Pete had been training himself as a master of the mystic arts, preparing for the inevitable day when Kal made a reappearance.
Now, as he prepared to summon his latest demon, Pete staggered unsteadily towards the pentagram (the spell had required a pint of virgin's blood and he was still feeling a bit woozy). Throwing the last spell ingredient, a videotape of the Buffy musical episode, into the magical fire, he uttered the magic words "It's Showtime!" and then, without even the slightest hint of anything resembling pyrotechnics, a red demon in a dapper suit suddenly appeared before his very eyes.
"Hi, I'm Pete," said Pete, introducing himself.
"Hi, Pete," replied the demon, shaking Pete's hand. "Great to meet you, but I've got to be going. Now that Joss has made me famous I'm in demand by amateur demon-summoners everywhere."
"But, I was hoping you'd make Smallville sing," moaned Pete.
"No problem," he said, firing a red bolt of energy at Pete. "You've got the Smallville franchise. I'll be back in 25 hours for my payment."
As Pete stood there, feeling the new mystical energies flowing through his body, the obviously question jumped to his lips. "What's the payment?"
"I need a queen," the demon replied, throwing a book at Pete's feet.
As Pete looked down at the user manual for his new powers, he wondered where he'd ever be able to find a queen in Smallville.
Chapter 2: Tunes Are Bustin' Out All Over
As Lana Lang set out on her nightly Insect Queen patrol, Pete Ross finished looking at the user manual the demon had given him and let out a large sigh. He'd been looking forward to the people of Smallville serenading him but it now transpired that he was responsible for providing both the words and music. Words weren't a problem – he knew lots of them – but music was a different matter. Pete had less than no musical ability (if that), and so, since there was no way he could write the tunes, it looked like he would have to steal them. And so it was that Insect Queen went into battle that night accompanied by a familiar tune.
Insect Queen, the microscopic mistress of mutant-hunting, flew through the sky, on the back of a fly, towards the Luthor ancestral home. Suddenly she heard some strange yet vaguely familiar orchestral music, but she had to ignore it for there was more than music in the air that night. There was villainy. A group of freaks had invaded Lex's home and she had to stop them.
As she smashed through the window, the freaks, along with Lex, who was being held captive, turned to her expectantly. As she used her mental contact with the insect species to call for reinforcements, the freaks looked at each other in confusion, and then started dancing and singing in unison "She's been making tall of being small and lately we can tell that she's been going through the mutants, freaking out the freaks, she's -"
And with that a dumbstruck Insect Queen, unable to believe what was happening, leapt from her faithful flying steed and, rapidly alternating between insect and regular sizes, delivered a series of knockout kicks to the mutants.
"What was all that about?" Insect Queen asked Lex as the music continued in the background.
"How can I repay –" responded Lex in a deep baritone, as Insect Queen flinched away from him in disgust.
"What have you been eating, Le- … erm, I mean Mr. Luthor?" she asked, while holding her nose. "Your breath smells terrible."
Lex took a deep breath and was just about to sing an answer when Insect Queen realized this and put a hand over his mouth and waited for the music to finish.
"So what's with your breath?" she asked again, removing her hand from his mouth.
Lex looked at his mysterious rescuer. "Well, one of those mutants over there had the power to bestow bad breath on people and decided to demonstrate his power to me. He assures me that it will wear off within a few weeks. In the meantime I guess I'll have to order some industrial strength mints."
"And the music?"
"It appeared to be from the musical episode of Buffy," responded Lex. "I've no idea where the music came from or why I was singing along to it, or, for that matter, why you weren't."
"Thanks for your help, citizen. And now I must go and continue my one-woman campaign against crime."
And with that Insect Queen shrank out of sight.
"Who was that masked woman?" pondered Lex, as he phoned the industrial strength mint company.
As Lana changed out of her Insect Queen costume that night she thought about the strange events of earlier. It was a bit like that episode of Buffy that Pete had forced her to watch that time, except for the fact that she hadn't done any singing. Maybe one of the mutants had a reality-warping power. Who cared? It was time for her to go to sleep and dream her dreams and by the time she woke up it would be morning and everything would be back to normal.
Lana woke up to the sound of birdsong. As she looked through her window at the cartoon bluebirds outside, eager to fly around her, she realized something wasn't quite right. As much as she wanted to go back to bed and give reality time to sort itself out she knew that Smallville was depending on her. This was a job for Lana Lang.
As soon as she took to the streets of Smallville, Lana's ears were assaulted with music. To one side of her a bunch of meteor freaks were singing to each other about how they had to have a gimmick, whereas to the other side of her stood another bunch of meteor freaks singing at her "Oh you pretty, pretty Lang, Lang. Pretty, pretty Lang, Lang we love you."
Amidst this cacophany she suddenly saw Chloe running up to her through the crowded streets, and shouted "Hey, Chloe. What's going on?"
As Chloe ran up to her, all the other music was drowned out by yet another tune that almost deafened Lana. As Chloe reached her and started spinning around, arms outstretched, threatening to knock her over, Lana, recognizing the music, guessed Chloe's response even before she started singing it to Lana and the 499 other people out that day.
"Smallville is alive with the sound of music, with songs to be sung for a thousand ears …"
Lana was in no way eager to hear Chloe finish her song and so set out to the Kent Farm hoping that things were more normal there. As she approached it and saw Jonathan in the field wearing a cowboy hat, riding a cow, and singing "Oh what a beautiful morning" she suspected the musical malaise was widespread.
And indeed it was widespread for its limits were bound only by Pete Ross' imagination and so it was that somewhere high above Smallville a magically-created representation of Heaven suddenly appeared. And somewhere in that vast Heaven sat Jor-El who, as he polished a red star, remembered back to that happy day on Krypton when Lara had told him he was going to be a father. He remembered wandering the shore by the Great Krypton Lake, wearing the latest '80s fashion, and singing "My boy Kal will be strong as a powerful train, and have a brain. My boy Kal will be fast as a speeding bullet, and have a mullet. And over buildings he'll leap with his head held high and his cape flowing straight behind his back, and he won't be bossed or tossed around by no Parasite or Brainiac! No –"
At which point his supervisor interrupted his mental song. "Hey, Jor, sorry to interrupt that song you were thinking about, but your son Kal-El needs your help on Earth."
"What's wrong? Has he learned his middle name's Russ?"
"No, nothing like that. It's just that we're worried about what path he'll take in the future. He might turn evil like you."
"My boy Kal will fulfill his destiny, will he!" reprised Jor-El. "My boy Kal - fulfill his destiny he shall, will Kal!"
The supervisor shook his head. "There's no time for singing, Jor-El, we've got to get to Smallville right away. You have to convince him of what's best."
The supervisor turned his back on Jor-El, ready to lead him to Smallville, and, as he did so, Jor-El sneakily grabbed the glowing red star he'd been working on and slipped it into his pocket. "Trust me," he said to his supervisor, "I know what's best for Kal."
As they set out on their way to Smallville, the supervisor turned to another one of his workers, a very flat man, polishing a white star. "You better come too, Mr. Lang. We're worried about Lana."
"Why? What's wrong?"
"She's too perfect. She's making Heaven look drab."
Chapter 3: Meet The Parents
Lana Lang looked around the Kent farm but, aside from Jonathan, who was still out in the field singing his song, there was nobody home. As she found out later off Jonathan (once he'd finished his singing and done the necessary repairs to the cow) Clark had just left to visit Lex while Martha had gone out shopping for some strange and interesting plants. Apart from this information, and his insistence on confiding to Lana the little known fact that he'd been born in Pennsylvania, Jonathan also seemed to know the reason for the strange musical madness that was gripping Smallville.
"It's obvious. I've always said he couldn't be trusted," started Jonathan, anger in his voice. "Why just this morning he was sneaking around here."
"Who?" asked Lana.
Jonathan looked at Lana, waiting for his musical accompaniment to arrive, and then, in a voice deeper than any Lana had ever heard before, he sang her the answer:
"Ol' man Luthor, that ol' man Luthor. He must know somethin', but don't say nothin'. He just keeps schemin', he just keeps schemin' away."
Meanwhile Lionel Luthor was visiting his son.
"Lex, I don't know why this musical affectation has gripped Smallville but you've got to take advantage of it. Get over to the Kent farm now. Who knows what information they'll reveal in song?"
"Then why don't you go over there?" asked Lex.
"Jonathan Kent would throw me out the moment he saw me. I was attempting to discretely look around there this morning but unfortunately my rendition of If I weren't a rich man in the loft alerted them to my presence."
"No, I'm sorry. I just can't do that."
"You've got to," begged Lionel, pulling Lex towards him and then pushing him away when he smelt Lex's breath. Lionel then suddenly started singing "Lex be A Luthor tonight. Lex be a Luthor tonight. Lex, if you've ever been a Luthor to begin with, Lex be a -"
At which point Lionel cut his song short as Clark Kent suddenly entered the room.
"Well, well. Clark Kent," Lionel said, appraising the young man opposite him. "It appears we have something in common."
Clark looked back at Lex's father, wondering what he was talking about. Then suddenly he realized what they had in common, and also realized that it was one of the things in the world most worth singing about.
"Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair," sang Clark and Lionel, shaking their heads with abandon, while a jealous Lex sat in the corner sulking.
A half hour or so later, Lana was heading over to Lex's, hoping that he'd be able to apprise her of his father's whereabouts, when she came across Clark, dancing on top of his station wagon with a ghetto blaster. As Lana, still wanting revenge on Clark for what he'd said in The Talon the day before, wished she had a camcorder with her, Clark continued to sing "Me! I'm gonna live forever. I'm gonna learn how to fly. High!"
"Yeah, as if," thought Lana. Who was Clark kidding? And those red shorts and blue legwarmers were just not a good look for him.
As Clark finished his song with "Remember. Remember. Remember" Lana had to smile. There was no way she was ever going to forget this, and no way she was ever going to let Clark forget it either.
"Any chance of a lift to Lex's?" asked Lana, even though she knew her innate charm made the question rhetorical.
"Sorry, Lana," replied Clark, much to her astonishment. "After what Lionel and I just did to Lex I think our friendship's over."
"Tell me more," asked Lana.
"Sorry, Lana, I'm just too upset to sing about it right now," Clark sighed, climbing into his station wagon. "Maybe later."
Lana waved goodbye to Clark as he drove away, and then resumed her journey to Lex's. On the way a strange man claiming to be her father gave her a present. At first she assumed it wasn't really him (after all, her father had been three-dimensional) but the way he told her she was perfect and then abandoned her to go to Heaven certainly fitted his M.O.
When she finally got to Lex's, she found him standing in a large empty room, wearing oriental pajamas and with his hands resting on his hips.
"Lex, I think your father's behind this. Any ideas where he is right now?"
"He's upstairs, but I don't think he's behind it. I was thinking that it could possibly be magical. Maybe we should get in touch with … can't seem to remember his name?"
"Zatara?" suggested Lana.
Lex nodded. "Zatara, Zatara, Zatara."
And then he walked to the center of the room and held his arm out to Lana.
"Shall we dance?" he proclaimed, and Lana, dismayed by the total predictability of it all, decided it was time to leave Lex and confront Lionel.
A sorrowful Lex, assuming his bad breath had driven Lana away, seamlessly segued into an incredibly moving rendition of "Someday my mints will come".
Meanwhile Clark was exploring Smallville's mysterious caves to see if they held the key to what was happening in Smallville. Little did he realize that he was being observed by a magically-created version of his father,
"Can he see me?" Jor-El asked the supervisor.
"Only if you want him to," replied the supervisor.
And with that, Jor-El became visible to Clark.
"Hey, I know you!" Clark exclaimed, recognizing the figure. "You're me from the future. Got another present for me?"
"No, Kal-El, you're mistaken. I'm your father, Jor-El, come back from Heaven to give you this gift."
As Jor-El handed him a star, Clark, affected by the star's magical red glowing, suddenly transformed into Kal. "You've got to be kidding me. You've been to Heaven and this is the best gift you could find?"
And then a burst of red heat leapt from Kal's eyes vaporizing his father on the spot.
"That's my boy," exclaimed a proud Jor-El, who now found himself back in the magical Heaven which, having served Pete Ross's purpose, then vaporized taking Jor-El with it.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Kal-El started contemplating his destiny. Mankind would kneel before the son of Jor-El, but first he thought he'd kill a few people.
Chapter 4: A Little Knight Music
Pete Ross sat at his keyboard, breathing a sigh of relief that he no longer had to write songs for all the occupants of Heaven. But despite that he was still occupied 110 with songs for the people of Smallville. As a result he didn't even notice when a demon suddenly appeared behind him.
"Hey, Pete, I'm back. Where's my queen?"
Pete looked at his watch, wondering how the 25 hours had gone so soon. Then he turned away from his keyboard to face the demon and suddenly Smallville fell silent outside.
"I need more time," he pleaded.
"You haven't found me a queen yet?" asked the demon aghast. "All this time you've been mystically linked to the people of Smallville, orchestrating their lives, and no-one suitable's turned up?"
"Well, actually there is a queen in Smallville for you," Pete pointed out. "I just haven't found her yet."
"Isn't that what I just said?" asked a confused demon.
"No," explained Pete Ross, holding up a copy of The Torch that Chloe had dropped off earlier that day. "Take a look at this."
The demon looked at the headline: Who Is Insect Queen?
"So, you've actually gone to the trouble of finding me a real queen?" responded the demon. "Got to say, I'm impressed. To tell the truth I would have settled for a cute waitress."
"Trouble is I don't know where she is?" admitted Pete. "Looks like she only turns up when danger is near, although I've already taken some steps to make sure that happens."
"Okay, kid. Well, be careful. I don't want her dead. Twenty-five more hours, but no longer and then I'll be back."
"Thanks," said Pete, but it was too late as the demon had already vanished. Getting back to his keyboard, Pete decided to up the danger.
Lana Lang made her way through the many rooms upstairs in the Luthor ancestral home looking for Lionel. She wanted to know why he'd made Smallville sing and, more importantly, why she'd been left out. She had a great singing voice. Didn't Smallville deserve to hear her? Admittedly she would have overshadowed everybody else, but she was used to that.
Finally, she came across a large door that, truth to tell, had only been magically created by Pete Ross earlier that day. Pushing the door open she saw the largest room that could possibly be, filled with dollar bills. But that wasn't all, for lining the walls were numerous glass cases containing all sorts of things from a car with wings to a broomstick to a set of dolls' clothes to a stuffed Oompa Loompa.
And then a sound from above attracted her attention, and, looking up, Lana saw Lionel leaping from a diving board into the money below.
As Lionel splashed into the money below, and then started to wallow in it, Lana gave a cough in order to attract his attention. This worked and soon he was singing to Lana, asking her to look at his stuff - wasn't it neat? Wouldn't she think his collection's complete? Would she think he's the guy who had everything?
While Lionel continued his song, Lana suddenly realized the twisted turn it was taking and that the thing he really needed for his collection (the thing that every evil person in Smallville seemed to want) was Lana herself. But there no way she was going to be part of his world and started turning on her heel to leave.
That was when Lionel changed his tune.
"Isn't it rich?" he observed. "Aren't we a pair?"
Lana's mind suddenly jumped ahead in the song, and, realizing what he was about to do, she started to run away as fast as she could from Lionel.
"Send in the clones?" pondered Lionel, as he heard Lana Lang's rapid footsteps in the hallway outside suddenly stopping. Presumably she'd come across the batch of Adam Knights he'd created earlier.
Lionel laughed as he heard Lana's screams. "Don't bother, they're here."
"What' the matter, Lana?" asked the Adams in perfect synchronization. "Do we scare you so much?"
"No," she said, although she was lying, and threw herself sobbing into the arms of as many Adams as she possibly could. "It's just that I thought you were dead. But now that you're back again you make me see there's nobody for me but you. Nothing to compare with you. I want to be with you forever."
"You mean?" asked the Adams, beginning to succumb to Lana's infinite charms.
Lana nodded, hoping she could turn this singing plague to her advantage for once.
As Lana and the Adams marched out of Lex's home, with the Adams singing a rousing rendition of "There is nothing like Adams. Nothing in the world. There is nothing you can name that is anything like Adams," Lana took the opportunity to slip away unnoticed.
"Hey," said the Adams as one, suddenly noticing Lana's absence. "Where's she gone?"
"She's tricked us," they replied to each other.
"Lana Lang must die!"
Lana ran towards the Kent farm hoping that Clark might be able to help her with the Adams. Of course he didn't possess any marvelous powers like she did, but she was getting kind of desperate. Suddenly she came across Clark wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses. He also had a pulsating red bulge in his pocket but he was no doubt just pleased to see her.
"Hey, Clark. What's with the shades?"
"Hey, Lana. What's with the endless whining about your parents' deaths?" Kal responded.
"Clark!" Lana exclaimed, tears filling her eyes. "How could you be so heartless? You know how that meteorite –"
"Rock!" interrupted Kal.
"Yes, that rock," continued Lana, slightly confused by Clark's interruption. "You know how it came whizzing from the sky –"
"Swoosh!" interrupted Kal again, in the same cold unemotional voice as previously.
Lana tried to ignore his interruption and carried on: "- and hit my parents –"
Wiping the tears from her eyes, Lana bravely struggled on: "- wiping out their very existence –"
"- and leaving me alone and eternally sad."
"Apart from that," added a sobbing, angry Lana, "every boyfriend I get turns out to be a freak. Present company included."
"Exactly," Lana agreed.
"Rock! Swoosh! Squish! Aargh! Misery! Misfits!" repeated Clark, and then repeated it once again. He grabbed Lana's wrist tightly, so tightly that she squealed in pain as she fell to the ground, and then he launched into song.
"You've had it coming. You've had it coming. You've had it coming since we met! And now I've got you, I think I'll kill you. That's a promise and not a threa-"
And then Kal-El looked aghast as Lana Lang suddenly disappeared.
Still, it didn't matter. She was just a human – small and insignificant. No, it did matter - she'd made a fool of him.
"Lana Lang must die!"
Chapter 5: The Knights Are Drawing In
Pete Ross was watching the havoc he was wreaking in Smallville through the eyes of his many real-life puppets. Up until that moment he'd been wondering why Lana Lang wasn't in the grip of his spell, but now as he watched her vanish in front of Kal everything dropped into place for him. Lana Lang was Insect Queen. She must have been immune to his enchantment because, at the time of its casting, in her shrunken state, she didn't reach the minimum height requirement he'd imposed (which, whilst also having the advantage of preventing numerous nauseating saccharine-sweet children from marching around Smallville singing the likes of Do-re-mi and Heigh-ho or introducing themselves to people as representatives of the Lollipop Guild, was mainly imposed by Pete to protect himself from his own spell).
Lana Lang crouched, shaking, in the microcosmos, looking at the bruise that was beginning to form on her wrist. She was safe here, alone with the insects, and part of her wanted to stay small forever. But there was another part of her - a part that wanted answers. That was why she found herself, twenty minutes later, regaining normal size at the Kent Farm behind Jonathan.
Jonathan suddenly turned round, his hand leaping to his chest. "Lana," he started to lecture her, "you shouldn't go creeping up on people like that."
Lana apologized and told Jonathan about what she'd witnessed that day (although she skipped over her shrinking ability).
When she'd finished her tale, Jonathan was silent for a moment as he looked around, trying to think of what to say to her. "You know, Lana," he said finally. "My father once told me something that might help. It didn't make much sense to me then but he said it would one day. Maybe today's that day."
"What did he say?" asked Lana, gazing at Jonathan as she waited for his words of ancient wisdom, and then he suddenly started singing in the strangest English accent that she'd ever heard:
Well what my father told me, when I was just a lad,
Didn't make much sense at all and sounded kind of mad,
But now today it kind of makes more sense I do suppose.
The biggest word I ever heard and this is how it goes: Oh!
If you stand right next to me you'll learn it by osmosis.
If you find it hard to spell your name is probably Lois.
Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay
Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay!
Well what my father told me, when I was just a lad,
As Jonathan started to do a dance that threatened to send him back to hospital and neighboring farmers came wandering in to join in, Lana made a quick exit. What help was that song supposed to be anyway? After all, only the Lex having halitosis bit made any sense.
While Lana shook her head at the unhelpfulness of the song, she wandered out into the field completely oblivious of anything in her way. A strange and interesting plant that Martha had planted earlier that day, which had obviously been exposed to green rocks somewhere in its history if its giant size was anything to go by, slithered its tendrils towards Lana's tasty body, but then recoiled in pain.
Lana didn't notice the hungry plant, just as she didn't even notice Kal until she walked straight into him.
"We've got unfinished business," announced Kal.
"So, you're finally ready to apologize," said Lana, stepping back from him and seeing again the strange glowing bulge in his trousers.
Kal looked at the curious Lana as her hands went to his trousers and pulled out his red glowing star.
"Give that back," he said, snatching the star from Lana. "It was a present from someone who claimed he was my father."
"Ditto," said Lana, pulling out a white star that her father had given her.
As she held the white star next to the red star, the two stars attracted each other. Kal tried to pull the red star back, but stars, with their great gravitational pull, were beyond even Kal's ability to keep apart. Slowly the stars merged, and, as the red and white stars merged into a pink star, Kal subsided and Clark came back, suddenly wondering what Lex was doing. But first Clark had to apologize to Lana.
"Lana, I'm sorry for what I said before."
"Yeah, whatever," replied Lana, entranced by just how pink the star was.
At which point a long tendril, that was no longer repelled by the plant-killing white kryptonite that had made up Lana's star, wrapped itself around Clark's neck and pulled him off for lunch.
Lana's attention was finally dragged away from her pink star by Clark's yelling. She turned around to see him playing with some giant plant that appeared to be singing to him. But she didn't have time for any of Clark's shenanigans, because an army of Adams were on their way.
At which point a Porsche came to a halt next to Clark in the time-honored Smallville way of crashing. As the poor singing plant went up in flames, Clark pulled Lex from the car just prior to its exploding.
"Lex, you must be really hurt," observed Clark, as Lex lay on the ground.
"No, Clark, I'm fine," reassured Lex.
"Wow, even with all those people inside singing about your bad breath?"
Lana threw the pink star far away and wandered over to Lex and Clark.
"Listen, boys. I haven't got time for this. An army of Adam Knights is on the loose and heading this way."
"What makes you say that?" asked Clark.
"Use your ears!" yelled Lana.
And so Clark and Lex used their ears, and suddenly, as the song about Lex's halitosis came to an end, they heard another one take its place. A song being sung from far away with voices in perfect harmony.
… Uh-oh those Adams Knights
Uh well-a well-a well-a huh
Tell me more, tell me more. How much pink did she wear?
Tell me more, tell me more, and I'll pretend like I care
… Uh-oh those Adams Knights
As they heard the Adam Knights shoo-bop bopping their way nearer, Lex gave a sigh. "Wish I'd got to sing this. After all, Clark saved my life - I nearly drowned."
Clark blushed. "I just showed up splashing around," he said with as much false modesty as he could muster.
Lana looked at Lex with pity. All these years and he was still going on about that day when Clark saved his life, fixating on it when nobody else really cared. Sometimes she just wanted to give him a big shake and tell him to get on with his life. But it was too late for that now, for there, entering the Kent farm, were the legion of Adam Knight clones.
Clark was the first to notice the green glow of the rocks they were carrying.
Chapter 6: Bad Spell
At the Kent Farm a collection of Adams Knights had just finished singing a song from Grease and were now inching ever closer to the pink lady known as Lana Lang. While this was happening, Pete Ross, who was mentally linked to the majority of Smallville, was starting to realize that the longer things went on, and the more elements he introduced, the harder it was getting to keep control of things. First of all there'd been that plant that was going to eat Clark – he'd had to destroy Lex's car, and almost destroyed Lex in the process, in order to stop it. And now there were the Knights who he'd given full knowledge of Clark's abilities just so that Clark wouldn't be able to beat them in the blink of an eye. That was purely so Insect Queen would have to make an appearance, but now, as he saw things through Clark's eyes, it looked more likely to end up with Clark, Lana and Lex's deaths.
It was time to end it all, before things went too far.
Quickly, anti-climactically, he typed the words at his keyboard and saw them appear on his monitor.
And then Smallville returned to normal. THE END
And then Smallville returned to normal.
And then Pete Ross sat back. His hands ached from his hours upon hours of typing, and his eyes ached from looking at the screen. Getting up from his seat he stretched and yawned, and then, out of habit he went to switch off his monitor.
But the monitor wasn't even switched on. It was all being powered by the spell, and the words were still there, along with some new ones:
Are you sure you wish to exit the spell? (yes or no)
Are you sure you wish to exit the spell? (yes or no)
As Pete typed yes some more words filled the screen. Words that horrified Pete.
User has exited spell. Spell will continue in automatic mode. Number Of Items To Display In Any Category: 3 Analyzing user input so far ...DONE ANALYSIS: Music: Non-original (TV and film musicals) Common Themes Detected: Lana Lang must die! Planning future actions ... DONE FUTURE ACTIONS: Kill Lana Lang - Probability 95 percent
(To modify this value use the F1 key)
Lyrics: Low quality parody
Bringing back evil characters
Humiliation of user's friends
Bring back Kal - Probability 10 percent
Kal/Insect Queen fight - Probability 5 percent
User has exited spell. Spell will continue in automatic mode.
Number Of Items To Display In Any Category: 3
Analyzing user input so far ...DONE
Music: Non-original (TV and film musicals)
Common Themes Detected:
Lana Lang must die!
Planning future actions ... DONE
Kill Lana Lang - Probability 95 percent
Pete looked aghast at the screen. A Kal/Insect Queen fight was the last thing he'd had planned. What chance would Lana have against Clark?
Frantically Pete started typing again, telling the spell to finish itself. For a few seconds the screen went blank, and then ten words appeared:
You can't stop the music. Nobody can stop the music.
You can't stop the music. Nobody can stop the music.
Pete grimaced and then typed Resume spell.
Welcome back replied the spell.
Pete smiled and continued typing: Cancel all planned future actions
Future actions cancelled appeared on the screen, followed by a row of dots and the word NONE.
What do you mean – NONE? typed a despairing Pete.
Que sera, sera, replied the screen.Whatever will be, will be.
Clark held tightly on to a fence post, all his muscles taut, trying to ignore the pain (which he couldn't) and, more importantly, trying not to show it (which he could – mainly because Lex and Lana's attention was centered on the wave of Adam Knights closing in on them).
And then Pete Ross, in a desperate attempt to slow the Adams down and buy his friends some time, instructed the Knights to start singing at Lana.
Smallville, Smallville. It's a helluva town.
Your folks went up when the space rocks came down,
And now they live in a hole in the ground.
Smallville, Smallville. It's a helluva town.
Smallville, Smallville. It's a helluva town.
Lana, doing her best to ignore the lyrics, looked around at Clark and Lex, and again at Clark who wasn't looking at all well. While the Adams danced around to their latest song it was time for her to make her escape.
"Lex, look after Clark. I'll lure them away. After all, it's me they want."
"Lana, no," groaned Clark. "They're too dangerous."
"Wait … somebody's ringing me," said Lana, and then used her hand to mime talking into a phone. "Hello? Who's that? Me from the future? I live? Phew, that should put Clark's mind at ease."
And with that, she started running towards a gap in the wall of Knights that their choreography had opened up. One of the Adams spotted her and attempted to block her path, but her momentum, along with a flying kick, got her past him. Landing on her feet, she sprinted away, leaving her adversaries there, singing their song.
Once they'd finished, the Adams turned in the direction Lana had gone and then started marching. She could run, but not forever.
Pete gave a sigh of relief. It looked like his gambit had paid off. Clark and Lex were safe for the moment and Lana, once she was out of sight of her friends, could just shrink to avoid the Adams.
Suddenly some new words appeared on the screen:
Recalculating probabilities ...DONE
Bring back Kal - Probability 90 percent
Kal/Insect Queen fight - Probability 85 percent
Kill Lana Lang - Probability 99 percent
It looked like saving Clark's life had come at a price.
Chapter 7: White, Knight
It had been months since Perry White last visited Smallville and now he found himself back there following reports of some bizarre local musical occurrence.
"It'll be the rocks," said the blonde-haired girl with dark roots opposite him. "Trust me. It's always the rocks. They're behind everything."
"Listen, Miss Sullivan," Perry responded with a forced smile. "The thing is -"
"Call me Chloe," interrupted Chloe.
"Okay, Chloe, the thing is I appreciate your input but you can't blame everything that happens here on space rocks."
"Why not?" she asked, amazed at Perry's skepticism. "What else is it going to be? Magic?"
"Of course not," he replied, and then paused to thank the waitress serving him his salad before continuing. "But I don't see how you can blame rocks for this. Maybe it explains her," he said, pointing at the front cover of the Torch with his fork.
"Oh, Insect Queen? Yeah, she's a rock chick, no doubt about it." Chloe looked across at Perry who was enjoying his food. Now that his mouth was full he was less likely to interrupt her while she tried to convince him of the truth. "But these rocks –"
"Great Caesar's salad," yelled Perry at the waitress.
The waitress looked back at Perry and smiled. She shouldn't really have been there but when she saw that Lana had just deserted the place, presumably to go off singing somewhere, she thought that she'd better lend a hand. And so she'd left her new plant back at the farm to fend for itself while she'd fed the few customers there that day. Now the place was empty apart from Perry and Chloe and it looked like the dozens of pies she'd been busy cooking would never get eaten. Still she'd better make a few dozen more, just to be on the safe side. It was just a shame that she'd never figured out where Lana kept the custard powder.
Chloe looked at Martha and then back at Perry. "Listen, Mr. White. I realize you don't believe me, but the only time I've sung today was first thing with that Smallville is alive with the sound of music thing – which, by the way," confided Chloe, "would make a great title for your story."
"I'm sure I can come up with a better title," insisted Perry.
"Of course you can," teased Chloe, knowing that he'd gone through at least 20 possible alternative titles in the last half-hour without success. "Anyway, since then, I've been mostly indoors and I haven't sung a single note. Now need I point out that space rocks tend to be found outside the home rather than in. Either that or whatever mysterious force is behind the music has just forgotten about us."
Somewhere, far away, Pete Ross groaned. He knew there was somebody he'd forgotten about.
Perry looked at Chloe quizzically. "You might just have something there, Chloe. Since I've been in here I haven't heard anyone sing."
At that point, in Lana's kitchen, Martha suddenly discovered the cupboard where the custard power had been hiding. As she reached up into the cupboard, Chloe was still in the main room of The Talon talking to Perry.
"So, you admit that my rock theory's not so far-fetched?"
"Well, I'll admit that it's starting to look like strictly an outdoor phenomenon," he said, as he prepared to start typing on the laptop that Chloe had kindly lent him. "You're real smart, you know that?"
Of course she knew it. Maybe it was her intelligence that scared the boys away, but Chloe Sullivan wasn't prepared to act dumb for anybody.
As Perry started to type his story Dancing In The Streets about the crazy outdoor phenomenon sweeping Smallville, his ears were suddenly assaulted by Martha's minimalist I got the custard out, immediately followed by Chloe's I'm just a girl who can't say D'oh!
Perry sighed as he realized he needed a new title for his story.
Jonathan had emerged from the house just as the Adam Knights had left. The first thing he saw were the green rocks littering the ground, and then he'd seen Lex trying to move a semi-conscious Clark towards them.
Running over (ignoring, as ever, his doctor's advice to take it easy) he angrily pushed Lex away from Clark. "What's your game, Lex?"
"Clark's ill," explained Lex patiently to the ever-unreasonable Jonathan. "I was taking him back to the house."
Jonathan reappraised the situation, and tried to stay calm (despite his son's condition). He had to get his son away from the rocks. Fast. "He looks bad. I need to get him to a hospital. Help me get him to the station wagon."
As Lex and Jonathan led Clark away from the rocks and towards the station wagon, Clark suddenly pulled Lex towards him and sung something in his ear.
"What was that?" asked a curious Jonathan, still moving Clark along as fast as he could.
"He was blessing my beautiful hide."
Jonathan looked back and suddenly noticed a glowing pink star that they'd just passed. That was all they needed – a new color of kryptonite. Just how many colors was that planet?
Eventually they got Clark into the station wagon, and, after giving Lex a begrudging thank you, Jonathan asked Lex to stay at the farm in case Martha came back. Lex reluctantly agreed.
As soon as Jonathan had driven out of Lex's sight he stopped the station wagon and turned to Clark. "Feeling better?"
Clark nodded, but he was still feeling bad. Bad about not being there for Lana.
"I've got to go after her, Dad."
"I know," replied Jonathan to the now-empty chair next to him.
The Adam Knights walked into the alleyway behind The Talon as the sky turned dark and the rain suddenly started to drip drip drop. They were looking for Lana Lang but instead they found the countess of creepy-crawlies known as Insect Queen.
As they marched towards the full-size super-heroine they suddenly noticed the alleyway growing larger and larger along with Insect Queen.
Insect Queen kneeled over the Adams.
"Hello, boys. Sorry I had to shrink you like that, but I hear you've been chasing after Lana Lang. Well, let me tell you something – it's not big and it's not clever."
"But I am," said a voice behind her, and just as she turned to see Adam Knight's face, she felt a lump of green rock smashing against her skull.
As the other Adam Knights rushed to dodge the falling Insect Queen, the full-size Adam Knight looked at Smallville's very own super-heroine and wondered who the girl was behind the mask.
Cautiously he moved over to Insect Queen's still body, lying there in the increasingly heavy rain, and lifted her blood-stained mask.
"Lana?" he exclaimed incredulously, but Lana was in no condition to give any response.
Chapter 8: A Small Killing
Martha Kent stood at the doors of The Talon, holding the pie ingredients that she still needed to weigh out, and looked out at the rain.
"Looks bad out there," observed Perry.
"Sure does," replied Martha, "Hope it dies down soon. I need to be getting home."
"Presumably it will – it's just waiting for all those guys out there to finish their Gene Kelly impersonations. Wish I was an umbrella salesman."
"And when that's over, there's bound to be a rainbow," moaned Martha. "And then we'll get the Judy Garlands coming out."
"Why are there so many songs about rainbows," mused Perry, "and what's on the other side?"
"But there aren't," countered Martha. "Name me one besides Somewhere Over The Rainbow."
Perry's brow creased in intense concentration but he couldn't come up with an answer. "You mean Kermit lied to me?"
"He lied to us all, Perry," said Martha with mock sadness.
"Hey, maybe we could write one," suggested Perry. "There's obviously a gap in the market."
"Not in this lifetime," she said, shaking her head. "I've got to go and weigh these ingredients."
As Martha walked off towards the kitchen, singing to herself"Somewhere over the rainbow, weigh a pie", Perry was suddenly hit by The Talon's door as somebody walked in.
"Watch where you're going," started Perry, as he turned towards the new arrival. "You could've …"
And then Perry fell silent as he saw Lionel Luthor's face. But Lionel didn't notice him – his attention was on Chloe who, as she stared straight back at Lionel, cavorted on the coffee counter to the music that had suddenly filled the room.
"The minute you walked in the joint," started Chloe, "I could tell you were a man of distinction, a real big spender …"
Perry stood there, watching Lionel, who was blocking the door. Lionel was the last person he wanted to be in the same room as, but Lionel's blocking the only obvious exit along with Perry's lack of a decent raincoat meant that he was stuck there for the foreseeable future.
Adam Knight stood in the alley, memories that really shouldn't have belonged to him (but instead to another Adam Knight clone) swimming through his mind. He remembered the great times he'd had with Lana – she could be really wild at times. But those times were long gone, he realized, as he watched numerous miniscule versions of himself marching over Lana's inert rain-drenched body singing "Ding! Dong! The witch is dead," or at least a variation thereof.
Of course she wasn't really most sincerely dead yet, but it was time to remedy that. First he replaced her mask, still amazed that weak, wild-mannered Lana Lang was actually Insect Queen, and then he lifted the green rock he had with him up in the air, ready to bring it crashing down on her. For a moment he wondered whether he was doing the right thing, and in that moment he suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Don't do it, Adam," said a trembling Clark. "I can get you help."
"I don't need your help," shouted Adam, although his eyes were starting to ache, and then he proceeded to kick Clark round the alley.
"I know all about you Clark. I know what you can do and I know your weaknesses."
"Adam … please …"
"It's a hard rock life for you," yelled Adam, grabbing Clark off the ground by his hair, and attempting to shove the green rock down Clark's throat.
"Eat rock, you Alien scum," commanded Adam as he pushed the rock further into the helpless, squirming Clark's mouth.
Meanwhile Lana, whose last memory was of Adam unmasking her, suddenly regained consciousness. But she wasn't helpless Lana Lang anymore - she was Insect Queen, back with a vengeance. Struggling to her feet, shaking tiny Adam Knights out of her hair, she walked up to her foe, whose every attention was on Clark. Since Clark was refusing to swallow the rock it looked like he'd just have to smash Clark's head in with it, and so, as he'd done earlier with Lana, he lifted the rock ready for a deathblow.
At that instant, Insect Queen wrapped her arms round Adam's chest letting her gravity-defying ring take his and her weight as she soared them high into the sky away from Clark.
"So, Adam, why exactly do you want to kill me?"
"Why not?" he replied, looking back at her, and she suddenly saw the blood running from his eyes.
"Look, Adam, we need to get you some medical help. Like we should have done last time. I don't want you to die now. I didn't want you to die before."
"Shame the feeling's not mutual," replied Adam as he swung the green rock towards Insect Queen's head.
Insect Queen saw the rock coming towards her and became smaller, and then, seeing the rock still coming towards her, became smaller still. Passing through the atoms of the rock, she found herself stuck inside it.
As Adam, now lacking a means of flight, plunged towards the Earth, he dropped the rock. Landing with a bone-crunching sound in the alley below he knew his time was running out and reached into his back pocket. Dragging out a box he crawled over to the still weak Clark, took the glowing red class ring out of the box, and placed it on Clark, no Kal's, finger.
"Help me," begged Adam, his tears mixed with blood. "I'm dying."
Kal looked at Adam, and all of the small Adams staggering around, their hands covering their blood-stained faces.
"My eyes bleed for you," he said coldly as a series of red beams leapt from his eyes putting the regular Adam and the mini Adams out of their misery.
"Now where's Lana Lang?" Kal pondered. "She needs to die too."
Chapter 9: It's Not Easy Being Green
Kal looked around at the dull, miserable alley. What a dump. Not just the alley, but Smallville itself. He shouldn't be stuck in this miserable backwater. Just the name of it - Smallville (which translated from the English and French into "little town") - made him want to scathingly disparage it in song, and so he did.
"Little town, on a tiny planet. Every day like the one before. Little town full of little people ..."
At which point the littlest person in Smallville decided she could be trapped in a lump of green rock no longer and risked resuming full size. There was a loud explosion as the green rock shattered under the pressure, sending tiny green shards all around, and leaving Insect Queen covered from head to toe to fake wings in glowing green kryptonite dust.
Kal screamed as his senses made everything go into slow motion. He could see each tiny green shard coming towards him but, as they'd started to affect him already, he didn't have time to outrun them. Still he had to try. But it was to no avail. As they got nearer and nearer to him he got slower and slower and the next thing he knew he was lying on the floor, his skin punctured by numerous glowing green slivers, and the world had returned to its normal speed.
And then there was more pain as a green glowing apparition suddenly approached him.
"Please ..." begged Kal, but then he drifted into unconsciousness before he got to finish his sentence with the words "stay away".
"Don't worry, Clark. I'll help you," the glowing green Insect Queen said as she knelt down next to him, willing herself not to cry. This was all her fault. She'd broken out of the rock without any thought for the consequences and, as a result, Clark now lay here dying. It looked like a rock was going to take away Clark, just as a rock had taken away her parents. But she couldn't afford to waste time with thoughts like these. She had to ignore them, just as she was ignoring the many questions that now filled her head (Where had all the Adam Knights gone? What was that burning smell? Did green look good on her?). There was only one thing she should think about and that was saving Clark.
Reducing her size once again, she roamed Clark's body, fighting against the tides caused by the rain, pulling out all the pieces of rock she could find. As the shards of kryptonite were washed away by the rain, and his various cuts started to heal themselves, Kal slowly began to regain consciousness.
And the next thing he knew, Insect Queen had become full-size and, in an attempt to resuscitate him, was pushing her glowing green lips against his and punching his chest. As he writhed beneath her, Lana Lang was amazed once more at the effect she could have on Clark.
"Hey, I'll let you recover from that kiss, while I go and wash all this green gunk off me. Don't worry, I'll be back in a minute."
And so Insect Queen reduced size once more, to leave Clark recovering in the alleyway.
Only it wasn't Clark, it was Kal. Slowly, as the traces of kryptonite left on him by Insect Queen were washed away by the rain, his strength returned to a level where he could carry on with his song.
"Now it's no wonder that my name means Star Child, I've got a Universe to quell. For behind that loser Clark, I'm afraid I'm rather dark. Very different from the rest of them. I'm nothing like the rest of them. Yes, different from the rest of them. Kal-El!"
Meanwhile, things weren't going too well for Perry White. Lionel had finally torn himself away from Chloe long enough to notice Perry and, after a brief interlude of light opera where Lionel had admitted that he was the very model of a modern major criminal (although he'd sung the details far too fast for Perry to have a chance to type any of them), Lionel had then gone on to have a seemingly pleasant chat with Perry, in which he'd implied the many ways in which he was going to re-destroy Perry's career.
If Lionel's veiled threats weren't bad enough, Perry still hadn't managed to come up with a title for his story. As he stared at the tempting object that Lionel had deliberately left behind on his table, he decided that now would be a good time as any to start drinking again.
Meanwhile, Insect Queen sneaked under the Talon's door, desperate to get to her power shower and wash off the kryptonite dust that not even the rain would shift. And then she saw Perry White opening a bottle of absinthe.
Perry typed his title Smallville is alive with the sound of music, put the bottle to his lips, and then took a large mouthful. He then promptly spat it out when he saw a sparkling green fairy on his keyboard shaking her head and waving her finger at him. He closed his eyes, not believing what he'd seen, and sure enough, when he opened them again, the fairy was gone. Wow, that was strong stuff. Maybe today wasn't the day to give up giving up drinking after all, he thought, as he pushed the absinthe bottle away from him and motioned to Martha for some more coffee.
Then, suddenly, the room filled with music once more that day, as Lionel in a blue jacket and Chloe in a golden ball gown started dancing around the floor. "What's happening?" Perry asked Martha, as she poured his coffee into a chipped cup.
"Tale as old as time," sang back Martha.
Chapter 10: The Boy Of Tomorrow
Pete Ross had had enough of sitting back and watching. It was time for action. Someone had to stop Kal before he killed Lana, and that someone was him. He'd had enough of being the villain. Just this once he wanted to be the hero.
Leaving the magic spell for the second time that day, he grabbed a lead-lined box that he'd set aside for just such an occasion and headed out into the rainy, musically-enhanced night.
Lana was in the shower.
She'd felt guilty about leaving Clark alone in the rainy alley, but she'd just had to get the ingrained green dust off herself. She would've told Clark the reason why, but he'd have never understood.
It wasn't the mutating effect of the rocks, although, with the wound that Adam had left on the side of her head, the meteorite dust could have easily gotten into her bloodstream. That was the last thing she needed – to become an evil mutant – the kind of person she hunted down as Insect Queen. Talk about being your own worst enemy.
No, that wasn't the reason. Clark might've understood that. But how could he possibly understand what it felt like to be covered with tiny fragments of what fate had used as a murder weapon on your parents.
As the hot water mixed with her tears she frantically scrubbed off the only thing that could have protected her from Kal.
An excited Lionel kissed Chloe goodbye and then ran up to Perry. "Quick, you're coming with me."
"Excuse me?" asked Perry, still typing in his story.
"My bachelor party," explained Lionel. "You've got to come."
"Bachelor party?" asked a confused Perry, and then had to sit through Lionel's rendition of I'm getting married in the morning.
"But I thought you were going to destroy my career," said Perry, once Lionel had finished singing and dancing around.
"Oh that," said a disinterested Lionel, dismissing the matter with a wave of his hand. "It'll wait until morning."
Perry shrugged. "Okay."
And so Lionel and Perry exited the Talon, and stepped straight into the chauffeur-driven limousine that was waiting for them outside.
"So where are we going?" asked Perry
"We're going on the town," sang back Lionel, as the limo drove away.
Seconds later the vacant space previously occupied by the limousine was taken by Kal.
He looked down at his checked shirt and jeans, full of holes from his earlier kryptonite encounter.
In the blink of an eye he was standing in the same spot wearing newly-stolen sunglasses, a leather jacket, jeans and a white t-shirt.
Martha put her coat on, ready to leave, and then turned back to Chloe, sitting on the floor.
"Second thoughts?" asked Martha.
"Well, Lionel's old enough to be my father, incredibly evil, and I'm sure none of this would be happening if Smallville wasn't lost in music, but, apart from that, there was somebody else on my mind."
Martha smiled, mainly at how many words Chloe was able to pack into a sentence, as Chloe began to sing:
"There was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy. They said he'd follow Lana Lang, Lana Lang, over land and sea. A pretty girl and sad of eye but very pink was she. And then one day, a magic day he passed my way, and while he spoke of foolish fare, mainly hair, this he said to me: The hardest thing you'll surely learn is when you love but aren't loved in return."
Chloe turned her head away from Martha, tears welling in her eyes as she thought about Clark. Her only consolation, in fact the only reason she carried on living (or so a magic spell would have her believe), was that at least Clark and Lana's romance was over.
At which point, Kal burst through the Talon's doors demanding "I want Lana Lang!"
As Chloe buried her head in her hands, Martha turned towards Kal. "Way to go, genius. You could've let Chloe down a bit more gently."
Kal was silent.
Martha decided now was not the time to admonish Clark any further. They could talk about it later after Clark had sung his song from Fonzie! The Musical or whatever else it was that he was dressed up for. No, she had to get back to Jonathan, before he started to worry about her. As she left The Talon she looked at Clark, put a hand on his shoulder, and softly said "Bye, Clark. Be gentle on Chloe."
"Okay," said Kal, as, heeding his mother's words and resisting the urge to vaporize Chloe, he used his X-ray vision to search The Talon for Lana.
Lana, still in the shower, heard the door of the bathroom open at the same time as she saw the shower curtain being torn away at the same time as she felt a hand around her throat.
Kal used his hand to push Lana against the wall and hold her there, applying just enough pressure to hurt. Of course, for someone of Kal-El's strength, that wasn't easy – humans were so feeble, so flimsy, so - what was the word? - disposable.
"Today Lana Lang," he sneered. "Tomorrow the world."
Without her equipment, shrinking wasn't an option for Lana. As she screamed and writhed and choked and thought things had gotten as bad as they could, Kal started singing:
You won't be here tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow never comes. Just thinking about tomorrow – I'll create some heartbreak and some sorrow – kind of fun.
You won't be here tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow never comes. Just thinking about tomorrow – I'll create some heartbreak and some sorrow – kind of fun.
As he sung, his grip on Lana's throat was slowly tightening, and as it tightened he started to lift her up the wall. Lana felt so vulnerable, naked, as she just dangled from Clark's hand like some choking rag doll, gasping for breath as the shower water pounded against her face.
When I'm stuck in the dark, in Clark , that phony, I just think up a scheme, and dream, and say: Lana won't see tomorrow, when I break her collar her tomorrows will be gone.
When I'm stuck in the dark, in Clark , that phony, I just think up a scheme, and dream, and say: Lana won't see tomorrow, when I break her collar her tomorrows will be gone.
Lana took in another mouthful of water, wondering if she was going to choke or drown. Kal's grip continued tightening as Lana's body stopped struggling and went limp. Not long to go.
Chapter 11: With A Little Help From My Friends
Meanwhile, downstairs, Chloe was making her way through the bottle of absinthe that Perry had pushed away earlier. If it wasn't bad enough that the real love of her life had just announced to the whole world (well, to her and Martha) that Lana was the girl he wanted, he'd then preceded to just look around the room, totally ignoring her. She'd tried to get his attention with a smile but he'd just looked straight right through her.
And then it got so much worse, as Clark rushed upstairs to be with his beloved Lana. As she heard the sounds coming from upstairs, she stuck her fingers in her ears and launched into song (although there was no music to accompany her, since this song wasn't as a result of the spell – Chloe just wanted to drown out the sound of Clark and Lana).
"They can romance all night. They can romance all night, and still he'll beg for more. She's gonna spread her –"
And then Chloe stopped singing, realizing that there was no longer any noise coming from upstairs. Even Clark's singing had stopped.
Suddenly a rain-soaked Pete Ross rushed in, carrying a box. "Where's Lana?" he gasped, still catching his breath after running across town (the numerous dancers on the roads having made driving impractical).
Chloe looked at him sadly. Poor Pete – he'd brought Lana a present. It looked like Chloe's heart wouldn't be the only one broken that day.
"It's too late," she said, tears welling up once more in her eyes.
"Too late," echoed Pete despairingly.
"Yeah. Clark got here first." Chloe paused for a moment, seeing the devastated look on Pete's face. "I'll spare you the grisly details."
Pete slumped down on a chair opposite Chloe and then the tears came. "It's all my fault. All my stupid fault."
Chloe got up, staggered over to where Pete was sitting, and gave him a hug. "Don't blame yourself, Pete. She's not worth it."
"How can you say that?" gulped an incredulous Pete.
"Hey, I'm the one who's had to put up with her moans and screams and banging on the walls for the last five minutes," replied Chloe, drinking from her bottle. "Talk about attention-seeking. For a while there I thought she'd never shut up. Had to shove my fingers in my ears."
Pete sat there in open-mouthed amazement, unable to believe what he was hearing. How could Chloe be so heartless?
Ignoring Pete, fuelled by absinthe, Chloe continued. "Pete, get over her. She's back with Clark now."
"Back with Clark?" echoed a confused Pete.
"Well of course," replied Chloe sarcastically. "What do you think I've been telling you? Clark and Lana are back together."
"That moaning and screaming was ..." started Pete.
"Of course it was. What else would it be?" asked Chloe.
"Thank goodness," said a relieved Pete, assuming that Clark must have lost the red ring somehow. "I thought … well, it doesn't matter anymore. Everything's okay."
"Maybe for you," moaned Chloe, taking another drink from her bottle. "But I'll never get over Clark. I keep drinking to forget. Only trouble is absinthe makes the heart grow fonder."
"Hey, Chloe," Pete said, prying the bottle from her fingers. "I think you've drunk enough."
"Nowhere near enough," she replied, snatching the bottle back. "It's bad enough that I had to put up with Clark singing a song from Annie, but, while he's ended up with Little Orphan Lana, tomorrow, thanks to this stupid music, I'm marrying Daddy Warbucks."
"You're marrying Lex?" Pete exclaimed in surprise (mainly because the last time he'd been in mental contact with her, via the spell, she was dancing with Lionel). On the other hand, a whirlwind romance followed by marriage wasn't exactly uncharacteristic of Lex.
"No, you've got my analogy all wrong," explained Chloe, with the occasional unslurred word. "I meant Lionel of course. Lex may be bald like Daddy Warbucks, but he's way too young to be him. He's more of a ... Charlie Brown."
Pete took away Chloe's bottle once more. "I think I better make you some black coffee."
Meanwhile Chloe was extrapolating her Lex/Charlie Brown comparison. "Hey, Pete, I guess that makes you the little red-haired girl that we never get to see. Lana's equivalent, intellectually at least, would be Woodstock. And now she's upstairs with Snoopy, only he's wearing sunglasses and calling himself Joe Cool."
"Good grief!" exclaimed Pete as he suddenly realized that Clark was still Kal.
And then there was what sounded like an explosion upstairs.
The next thing he knew, Pete Ross was running upstairs, clinging tightly to his box. As he got upstairs he looked through an open door to see rain pouring in through a large hole in the wall, and a floor covered with insects. As he rushed into the room, he felt a blow to his head and then everything went black.
Five minutes earlier, Lana had momentarily regained consciousness to see Clark still performing his song.
Tomorrow, tomorrow. I'll own ya, tomorrow. You're always my destiny.
Tomorrow, tomorrow. I'll own ya, tomorrow. You're always my destiny.
She'd barely had a chance to register that Clark's head was covered with insects before lapsing back into unconsciousness.
Kal had started to notice the occasional insect appearing from the moment he started strangling Lana, and, as his song continued, the number of insects had grown. Of course, whatever high hopes these insects had, there was no way they could defeat him, and so he'd carried on singing. It didn't matter that the insects were swarming over his face. All that mattered was that his song reached its killer finish with him hitting that final high note, at the same time that Lana's life rushing before her eyes reached her parents' death scene, at the same time that Lana's neck made a satisfying snapping sound.
Despite the assorted ants and flies and bees and wasps and roaches and grasshoppers that had climbed onto his face - swarming into his mouth and nose, covering his eyes - he knew that he could still hold his breath for an awfully long time and that his X-ray vision meant that he wouldn't miss a moment of Lana's suffering.
Of course pride comes before a fall, and while Kal could hold his breath a long, long time, it was a lot easier if his lungs were full of air rather than insects. As he realized this, and not being sure how long the oxygen remaining in his blood could sustain him, he decided it would be best to just finish Lana Lang's life there and then, and so he squeezed hard.
Of course insects are a lot cleverer than people give them credit for, and, besides turning Clark's head into a home, they'd also deposited one of Lana's shrinking gas canisters in her hand. As she flickered in and out of consciousness she felt the familiar shape in her hand and managed to crush it in her fist, just as Clark was about to do the same to her.
As Kal felt Lana's neck disappear from his grasp, he looked around the bathroom for a trace of Lana, but, wherever she was, she was too small to see. This must be Insect Queen's doing, thought Kal. Twice she'd saved Lana Lang now, but no more.
"Insect Queen must die," he tried to announce, although the mouthful of insects made it impossible.
And then he started to feel a little light-headed. He had to get rid of the insects before he suffocated, and so took the most direct route out of The Talon - through the wall.
Lana saw Clark departing and resumed normal size, but then, hearing a rush of footsteps up the stairs, she feared that Clark was returning. Quickly she grabbed a piece of stone from the wall that Clark had shattered and hid behind the door. As the intruder rushed in she brought the stone down on his head.
"Pete?" she said, looking down at Pete Ross's still body. Beside him lay an open box containing a mutant-creating green rock. Lana stared in disbelief. Surely Pete wasn't going to attack her too? These days it looked like her only friends were the insects.
She picked up the rock and, after looking at it and remembering once more the fateful day when her parents had been hit by a larger version, she tossed it outside through the hole in the wall.
Outside The Talon, Kal had just finished vigorously shaking his head to remove all of the insects within. Now that his head was clear he thought that it might be quicker to just, in a flash of super-speed, kill Lana Lang rather than waste time trying to find Insect Queen. Unfortunately for Kal, just as he was preparing to put his thought into action, a green rock fell onto his head from out of the sky and rendered him unconscious.
Chapter 12: The Unbelievable Truth
"What have you done to him?" asked Chloe Sullivan, as she finally made it upstairs, despite her newly found ability to not walk in a straight line, and saw a naked Lana Lang standing over the unconscious body of Pete Ross.
Lana Lang pushed past Chloe. She was cold, wet, naked and still in shock from Clark's attempted murder of her and she didn't have time to explain her actions to a clearly drunk Chloe.
"Poor Pete," said Chloe as she sunk to her knees and cradled his head in her lap. "I was hoping you'd give us a verse of Mister Cellophane."
As a shaking Lana dried herself with a towel, she realized that she owed Chloe an explanation no matter how hard it would be for her to understand. Chloe was, after all, her friend and it seemed she had a precious few of those this day.
"Listen, Chloe, I better explain things ..." she started.
"No need to," butted in Chloe. "First you steal my one true love and then you beat up my best friend."
Lana was taken aback. She'd always thought that she was Chloe's (well, to be precise, everybody in Smallville's) best friend. "Listen, Chloe. I realize this might not be the easiest thing to take in but Clark's turned evil with super-powers.
"What, just because he slept with you?" asked Chloe as she laughed hysterically. "You've got to be joking. Who do you think you are? Buffy?"
Lana wanted to say something to Chloe, but couldn't. Sure, this weird musical malady sweeping Smallville had turned Clark into an evil fashion disaster in the first place - presumably just so he could sing his lackluster Chicago parody. But it was obviously the green rock that had turned him evil the second time and given him super-powers. The green rock that she'd exploded out of, covering him with masses of mutating fragments. It was her fault that Clark was now evil and super-fast and super-strong, all her fault.
Chloe saw the serious look on Lana's face, the sadness in Lana's eyes. and realized the truth. All these years Chloe had thought the green rocks caused the freaks, but it was actually sleeping with Lana that caused it. No wonder there were so many mutants roaming Smallville.
Suddenly Lana's voice interrupted her thoughts. "Shall I make us a coffee? You seem slightly the worse for wear."
"I'm not drunk, not in the least," insisted Chloe (although she thought that she better keep quiet about the insects she could see everywhere). "I'm just slurring my words deliberately for codemic effect."
"I think you mean comedic," laughed Lana.
"Listen, Ms. Witty In Pink," started Chloe as some music suddenly started. "You say comedic and I say codemic. You say -"
At which point Chloe feel asleep and the music came to a crashing halt.
Lana didn't have time to look after Chloe and Pete. She had to find out who was behind this music and find Clark. And so she doffed her replacement Insect Queen outfit (the first being irredeemably green) and her magical flight ring (which thanks to its future friction-free finish always remained spotless).
But there was one thing she had to do before setting out to find Clark and whoever was behind the music. First she had to assume miniature status to thank all of the insects who'd come unbidden to her aid.
"Well, actually," said an ant called Virgil, "we were a bit undecided until we recognized his running shoes. Those shoes that have stampeded across countless anthills, hornets' nests, and the like. Those shoes - the greatest mass murderers in Smallville's insect history."
Insect Queen immediately regained normal size. Wow, insects sure knew how to dwell on the past.
Leaping through the Clark-size hole in the wall, she took to the night sky, and announced "This is a job for Insect Queen!"
Down below, Kal had just regained consciousness and managed to stagger out of range of the green rock. Suddenly, as he felt his strength returning, his super-hearing picked up Insect Queen's words. Hmm, kind of catchy, thought Kal, as he looked up to see Insect Queen flying through the rainy night sky.
Suddenly Insect Queen saw a flash of light to her left, and turned her head to see one of her fake wings had caught fire. Looking down below she saw Clark, lifting his sunglasses and staring in her direction. Obviously the green rock had given him some kind of pyrokinetic power and so, as the rain quelled her wing's fire, she soared higher trying to get out of his range.
She looked down again and saw a line of steam, caused by vaporized raindrops, soaring from Clark's direction up to her, stopping just an inch or two before it reached her. And then, down below, she saw Clark crouching and then leaping towards her. Shouting "Up, up and away!" she used her flight ring to soar ever higher away from Clark. With his single bound Clark had leapt higher than the tallest building and, at the apex of that leap, he lifted his sunglasses once more and stared straight towards her, but she was still too high above him for whatever pyrokinetic abilities he had to reach her.
Looking down at Clark returning to Earth, she realized that he was obviously a lot more dangerous than she'd initially thought. She had to lure him away from Smallville before he could do any damage.
Only one person on Earth could stand up to Clark Kent and that was Insect Queen.
Of course, as a result of her upcoming skirmish with Kal, somebody else would end up having to wear the Insect Queen costume, but Lana Lang didn't know that yet and even if you'd told her who'd be stepping into her shoes she'd never have believed you.
Chapter 13: Absent Friends
While Chloe Sullivan continued her slumbers, Pete Ross finally regained consciousness to find himself covered in pink sheets with his head resting on a pink pillow. Breathing a sigh of relief at this concrete evidence that Lana Lang was still alive (or at least had been alive long enough to drag him and Chloe into this room and adorn them with pinkness), he leapt to his feet and set off home, eager to re-join his spell and find out what had happened to Lana and Clark.
Meanwhile, Martha had just got home to find her husband and Lex discussing their favorite things.
"So first you hoe the field," began Jonathan, "and then you sow the seeds and then -"
"Not my kind of job, Mister Kent," interrupted Lex.
"That's what I said when I was young, Lex, and do you know what words of wisdom my father said to me?"
"There's no business like hoe business and sow business, you know?" guessed Lex.
"Might have been," replied a disgruntled Jonathan, robbed of his chance to impress everyone with his uncannily inaccurate Ethel Merman impersonation.
"Well you might seek fulfillment through work but personally," said Lex, before continuing in song, "all I want is a life somewhere, far away from this whole nightmare, with some enormous hair. Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?"
Martha looked at Jonathan, brooding as he watched Lex perform his song. If only she could unite them in a duet then they'd both be happy, but she couldn't see her husband wanting to duet with Lex. Then the solution hit her.
"Don't worry," she said, putting a hand on her husband's shoulder. "After all, anything Lex can do, you can do better."
"That's right," agreed a nodding Jonathan, as Lex's song came to a close. "Hey, maybe I should explain that to him in song."
Martha headed towards the kitchen to make some pies, as Jonathan and Lex started their duet. She loved it when a plan came together.
Perry felt uneasy, as Lionel got increasingly unhappier.
Things had certainly changed since they'd left The Talon. Back then, Lionel had been ebullient. "Come on. Perry," he'd sung, "let's paint the town … and all that jazz."
That had led to a tour of all of Smallville's night spots, which, entertainments-wise, left a lot to be desired. As Lionel sat there, losing at bingo, inspiration suddenly struck.
"I've got an idea!" he exclaimed, grabbing hold of Perry's hand.
"What? Are we going to put on a show right here?" asked Perry with mock enthusiasm while hoping with all of his heart that that wasn't the case.
"There's Metropolis," sang Lionel in response. "Come there. Metropolis. Peace and quiet are outlawed there. Get in my car, and I'll take you there."
Minutes later, Lionel and Perry were leaving Smallville, heading towards Metropolis and a night of disco, debauchery and dwarf-tossing.
Pete finally made it home, through the torrential downpour, despite being slowed down on his way - first by seventy-six trombonists, then by the big parade that they were leading, and finally by a stream of Streisand wannabes (some of them singing about the parade passing by, the rest about how they didn't want it to get rained on).
As soon as he entered his room, he headed for his keyboard and typed the necessary command to get back into the spell. Once in he immediately linked minds with Clark (or rather Kal) and had his senses assailed by scenery rushing past him faster than he could comprehend, and also from multiple camera angles (this was due to Kal's swiftly darting about between several positions in order to act as his own backing singers). Kal's singing was also speeded up, so that his version of Greased Lightnin' sounded something like The Chipmunks on helium.
Insect Queen looked down from above at Clark. Since they'd left Smallville, and the protection of its localized rainstorm, she'd had to fly even higher to protect herself from Clark's pyrokinetic powers.
But now, after all this time, she could stop and fight. Below was a large deserted patch of land where no innocent civilians would get caught in the crossfire. It was time to slow down for the showdown.
Seeing her stop, Kal skidded to a halt. Once the resultant dust cloud settled down, he suddenly noticed numerous ants marching towards him. As he remembered back to the events in Lana's bathroom, he realized that there was only one thing to do in such a situation. Sing.
"In our last fight, Lana Lang was going to Heaven, but by some chance some of your friends had come along, and there I stood and I hoped no-one would save her but those insects, they knew right from wrong. But I say to you now Get back! Get back, no blocking my throat. Yes I say to you now Get back! Get back, no blocking my throat, and I'll tear you all asunder with my heat-vision and a wicked gloat. Get back, get back, get back, get back! Get back, no blocking my throat."
Looking down from above at her loyal insect friends dispersing, Insect Queen's heart sank. It looked like things would have to get personal between her and Clark.
And that was when Pete Ross decided to help. He'd never actually seen the movie Brigadoon, or knew any of the songs from it. But that didn't matter – all he needed was the concept.
Suddenly a village that only ever appeared every one hundred years decided to appear right above where Kal was standing. Suddenly he was bathed in a giant shadow, and then, much to his annoyance, the village fell on him, and then, having done its work, disappeared for yet another hundred years.
Kal lay face down in the ground. And then, to the amazement of Pete Ross, Kal slowly got up, brushed the dust off himself, and said "Ouch," although he didn't really mean it.
He then looked around for Insect Queen, but she'd gone.
But Insect Queen hadn't disappeared, she'd just gotten smaller, and even now she was throwing a shrinking gas canister at Kal. As the canister hit him and he shrank down in size, he saw her growing in the opposite direction, until she was towering over his miniature form.
At first she considered just stamping up and down on Clark, but Clark had been her friend and it was her fault that he was in this condition. No, violence wasn't the answer – that would just be stooping to his level.
At which point Kal went on the attack with a blast of heat-vision.
"Ouch," yelled Insect Queen, as she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her shin. "Clark, what's your problem?"
Kal decided the simplest way to explain was via the medium of song. "I am swell, I am great. Gonna have the whole world on a plate. Starting here, starting now, honey, everything's coming from Pete Ross and magic spells. Everything's coming from sunshine and colored rocks. Everything's –"
"Could you explain without the singing?" suggested Insect Queen.
"Well, it's my Dad," explained Kal, referring to Jor-El rather than Jonathan, and then, to Insect Queen's consternation, he leapt into song once again. "He said My boy, I think some day you'll find a way to make your genetic supremacy pay. Son, you are destined. You'll have a talent for flying in air. Son, you are destined. People will pay for mocking your hair. Your IQ is wasted on science, and thinking will leave you a mess. Son, be a tyrant. You'll be a success."
Insect Queen looked at Little Clark with dismay. All this singing about world domination. She knew her shrinking gas wouldn't last forever, but she had to convince him of the error of his ways. Time for some scare tactics.
"Listen, little Cl, … erm, I mean little man. You're not going to rule the world from down there. Now start seeing the error of your ways, or I'll shrink you yet further and take you back to my Palace Of Pulchritude, where Micro the Insect Hamster will toy with you and the other freaks in my ninth-dimensional nano-dungeon."
"Ha," laughed Kal defiantly. "It doesn't matter how small I am, or if I'm caged. I'll keep trying and one day I'll take over the world."
Insect Queen looked at Clark with despair. Didn't he realize the futility of his words? Hadn't Pinky and The Brain taught him anything? And then Clark suddenly flicked out of sight for just an instant.
"What did you just do?" asked a concerned Insect Queen.
"I was just removing all of your shrinking and growing gas canisters" explained Kal, as he took a canister from behind his back and, crushing the canister, started growing.
"After all, wouldn't want you disappearing on me," he added, as he grabbed hold of Insect Queen's ankles as she attempted in vain to fly away.
"Now, let's make this quick, shall we?" said Clark, his eyes glowing red. "And once I've dealt with you then finally Lana Lang must die."
Chapter 14: Winged Victory
Insect Queen hovered in the air, while Kal's hands maintained a tight grip on her ankles. Before long she'd have bruises there to match the ones that Kal had already left on her neck and wrists. Fortunately Lana had taken the precaution of concealing those bruises, as best she could, with make-up, before donning her Insect Queen garb. This was so that Clark wouldn't make the connection between Lana Lang and Insect Queen, but now whether he did or not was looking largely irrelevant as Kal prepared to tear Insect Queen in half.
However a few typed words from Pete Ross persuaded Kal to sing one last song to Insect Queen before her death:
"So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, drop dead …"
As Insect Queen stared death in the face, her mind was racing. Clark had taken away her canisters so she couldn't shrink or grow her way out of the situation, and her insect chums were now afraid of Clark so they were of no help. Only one option remained – her ring. A ring that the sorceress Zatanna had cast a spell on enabling it to bestow insect powers upon Lana. Trouble was she didn't really know any insect powers. She'd meant to look that sort of stuff up but never got round to it, always putting it off until tomorrow. Now it seemed like it was too late. Think, Lana, think! What did she know about insects? They had short lifespans but Clark was taking care of that for her. Flying straight into windows wouldn't be particularly helpful. Maybe she could mate with Clark and then bite his head off. No, that was just too gross. Speaking of gross, she vaguely remembered something from science class about flies using their saliva to dissolve their food before eating it. Maybe she could use that to distract this new Super-Clark she'd created.
And so it came about that Lana Lang, in a reversal of their traditional roles, ended up drooling all over Clark.
Kal grimaced as a gallon of saliva washed over him. As the acidic saliva, capable of dissolving all earthly materials, started to eat its way through his clothes, he suddenly felt himself being lifted off the ground.
As Insect Queen had seen the smoke rising from Clark she'd instantly regretted her actions. She had to get him to a lake and see if she could neutralize the acid. Using her flight ring she pulled herself and Clark into the air, ignoring his continued singing from down below.
Unfortunately the acid only dissolved earthly material and the red kryptonite, along with Kal himself, remained unaffected. As Kal reached the end of his song and prepared to rip Insect Queen in two, however, the acid finally finished eating through the metal band of the ring and the red rock fell from Kal's finger.
"What am I doing?" said Clark as the red rock plummeted further and further away from him.
Insect Queen noticed the change in Clark's expression from arrogant and sadistic to confused and ashamed. "Are you okay?" she asked hopefully.
"Yes, erm, your highness," replied a blushing Clark, as he realized he was naked. "I'm sorry about … well, everything. I promise it won't happen again."
Insect Queen smiled. It looked liked hersaliva had dissolved all traces of the green rock from within Clark and left him unharmed. She'd have to drool on all the freaks from now on.
Slowly drifting them to the ground, far away from where the red rock had landed, Insect Queen bid Clark a heroic farewell:
"Well, citizen, it looks like my duty here is done, and so now I must go, for wherever evil doth rear its ugly head there must Insect Queen go-eth. Down, down and away!"
And with that Insect Queen shrunk out of sight.
Clark looked around. Here he was, stuck in the middle of nowhere, naked. Still, moving so fast that nobody would see him, he'd be home in a matter of –
"Hi, Clark," said Lana's voice from behind him.
"Lana?" exclaimed a shocked Clark turning towards her and then, remembering he was naked, quickly turning away again. "What are you doing here?"
"I was with Insect Queen all the time," explained Lana, making it up as she went along. "Although, of course, she'd shrunk me so I wouldn't be seen. Anyway, she just wanted to abandon you here after all that you'd done, but I said that I'd stick around and help you get home."
"Great," lied Clark, his plans of just running home having been thwarted. "Don't suppose she left any clothes for me."
"Funny you should say that," replied Lana with a smile, as she realized that the time for her revenge on Clark, for what had happened yesterday at The Talon, had finally arrived.
As they walked the long walk towards the nearest highway, Clark was still moaning about his attire.
"Hey, Clark, it's better than nothing. But I'm easy either way."
Clark smiled a false smile at Lana, while wondering just how much she knew of his powers after his encounters with both her and Insect Queen. Maybe he should just run them both home anyway. As he thought these thoughts, Lana suddenly put his mind at rest. "So, I guess those amazing powers the rock gave you have gone."
Clark nodded. Lana was so easy to fool. Whether he'd managed to fool Insect Queen was another story entirely, or so he thought. And then, once again, his thoughts were interrupted by another observation of Lana's. "That rock really changed your personality."
Clark frowned. It seemed like she'd figured out how the red class ring could affect him. Maybe it was time to change the subject.
"I hope nobody sees me dressed like this. Me and skintight spandex just don't mix."
"You could have worn her mask as well," pointed out Lana helpfully.
"What sort of disguise is that?" Clark asked incredulously. "She might as well be wearing a pair of glasses."
"You mean you've seen through her disguise?" asked a worried Lana.
"No, of course not. But that's just because she's nobody I know. I bet any of her friends would recognize her."
"Undoubtedly, Clark," agreed a patronizing Lana.
Clark looked towards Lana. Maybe it was finally time for some honesty in their relationship. He couldn't tell her all of his secrets, but at least he could confide in her about the red class ring. After all, she already knew all about it.
"I hate red rocks," Clark started, testing the waters.
Lana flinched, and looked at Clark in disgust. Sure the costume chafed, but that was way too much information.
After a long period of silence, Lana and Clark finally reached the highway. Suddenly Clark realized that there was a problem. "Who's going to give us a lift with me dressed like this?"
Lana shook her head in disbelief. "Clark, you're standing next to me," she explained. "Why would they even notice you?"
At which point, as if to prove her point, the first car they'd seen going in their direction suddenly screeched to a halt right in front of Lana.
Chapter 15: Sacred Cows
"Hi. Thanks for stopping. I'm Lana and this is Clark. We're trying to get to Smallville."
"No problem," replied the driver. "Headed there myself."
"That's great," said Lana as she settled into the passenger seat. The driver stared at the lovely Lana, unable to believe his luck. Suddenly he remembered that he had to introduce himself.
"Hi, my name's –"
Suddenly he found Lana's hand covering his mouth. "Don't say it! It's bound to be something like Oliver, and Clark would feel compelled to sing Oliver."
"Or Hello Ollie," added the lovely Lana's strangely dressed companion, sitting behind him, who the driver hadn't even noticed until now.
"It's not Oliver," he reassured them, as soon as Lana had removed her hand. "What's with your friend's outfit? Is he …"
"No, Clark's totally normal," explained Lana. "It's just that his usual clothes got covered in saliva."
"That was some major drooling," added Clark.
Lana could see that the driver was now worried, and kept checking on Clark in his rearview mirror. Maybe she could put him at ease.
"So, Man With No Name, why are you headed for Smallville?"
"I'm a comic."
"Wow, that's wonderful. I've always loved comics."
"Really," he replied. "Who's your favorite?"
"Oh, all of them," replied Lana. "Who's yours?"
"Bill Hicks," he replied. "I'm a bit like him, but with a later expiry date."
"Cool, I love him," bluffed Lana. "He's my favorite too. Glad you're not one of those political comedians – people in Smallville never talk about politics. We don't like cussing either."
The driver smiled. Lana was obviously just teasing him, so he thought that he'd play along. "So what can I joke about then? Do you watch a lot of TV?"
"No, not really," said Lana, shaking her head.
"So what's left to joke about in Smallville. I better not joke about your local Richie Rich – Lex Luthor. Not after our first meeting in Metropolis last year."
"What happened?" asked Lana, for once genuinely curious.
"He walked into one of my shows. Didn't recognize the guy. Hey, where are you from? I shout, Baldy-more? He gave me the most convincing fake smile I've ever seen."
Lana looked at him blankly
"Hey, I never said it was an interesting story. So, where was I? Looking for things to joke about in Smallville. What about that old meteor storm - or has everyone forgotten about that now?"
Lana went silent, as the driver continued "Or how about cows?"
Clark gave an audible gasp of horror, and for just a moment the driver could swear he felt Clark's eyes burning into the back of his neck.
"Some things are beyond a joke," explained Lana, and decided to turn her attention to the backseat passenger.
"So, Clark. Have you any ideas why Smallville's singing?"
"Let's start at the very beginning," reasoned Clark. "That's a very good place to start."
"He's going to sing," Lana warned the driver. And then, just as warned, Clark started singing. Normally this would have been worrying enough for the driver, but things were made even more disconcerting by the sudden inexplicable appearance of background music. The fact that Clark's song made little obvious sense, on the other hand, didn't surprise him in the least.
D'oh! Ideas – you need ideas. D'oh! Ideas – you need ideas
'ray, I've thought of one at last.
Me – a name I call Kal-El.
Far – I get there very fast.
So, what else is there to say.
La – the start of both your names.
T – the guy who plays BA.
Which will bring me back to:
'ray, I've …
D'oh! Ideas – you need ideas.
D'oh! Ideas – you need ideas
And so Clark continued, in a seemingly endless loop. In order to ensure that the driver didn't throw them out, Lana once more turned her attention his way.
"So, where are you from?"
The driver answered, and after that answer came further questions from Lana, getting more and more personal. As he answered the questions, his interest in Lana grew to the extent that he was even managing to ignore Clark's singing.
"So, Lana," he finally said. "You're certainly taking an interest in me."
"Oh, that's okay. I'm used to feigning interest in dull people. It's part of my job."
The driver laughed. Not only was Lana gorgeous, but she had a sense of humor as well. This was turning out to be a really good day.
It was two hours later and the car had reached Smallville. Following the driver's briefly telling a joke to Lana, and the subsequent half hour of trying to explain it, everyone had been silent. Except, of course, for Clark who'd been singing his song. However, during that time Clark had lost track of the words somewhat and it had now mutated beyond all reason.
D'oh – Ideas – you need ideas.
Raimi – directed Spider-Man.
Sofa – a place I like to sit
Latte – a drink sans jam or bread
Which will bring us back to –
D'oh – Ideas – you need ideas.
At which point the car screeched to a halt.
"I'm afraid the car's broken down," explained the driver through his clenched teeth. "Hey, Clark, I've got some clothes in the trunk if you want them."
"Thanks," said Clark, and then he and the driver went to retrieve the clothes. As Lana and Clark said their final goodbyes to the driver, a question suddenly occurred to Clark. "Why didn't you mention the clothes at the start of the journey?"
"That wouldn't have been funny," explained the driver, as his car suddenly started working again and sped off from Lana and Clark.
Clark suddenly started laughing as he and Lana stood there in the pouring rain.
"What's so funny?" asked Lana.
"Baldy-more – I just got it," explained Clark.
Meanwhile, in Metropolis, the Atlantis night club, upon a last-minute request from Lionel Luthor, had suddenly gone retro. As Lionel strutted his stuff on the dance floor in his newly-acquired white suit, Perry White stood at the bar, cradling his mineral water, and wincing as he listened to the Bee Gees music. It wasn't that Perry didn't like the music, it was just that it brought back memories from years ago of his investigation into Lionel Luthor - mainly his discovery of Lionel's large Bee Gees memorabilia collection and, along with that, the realization that Lionel had modeled his look on Barry Gibb.
Of course Lionel would do anything to stop the truth getting out and that was how Perry's career had been destroyed the first time round. Perry guessed he'd have to wait until tomorrow to find out how it would be destroyed the second time.
As Clark and Lana walked together in the rain, Lana looked at Clark and wondered how she could have been so afraid of him earlier that day. Still, there was no point dwelling on it now, for that particular nightmare was over. Besides, they were nearly at the Kent Farm.
"So, what was your idea?" asked Lana, remembering Clark's song from earlier.
"It was what my Dad said earlier. Well, sang actually. That bit about magic Pete Ross."
"I know what you mean, Clark, but that was just gobbledygook," explained Lana. "But now that you mention it there was something he said to me earlier. Something that he insisted on telling me despite the fact that it held no obvious interest to me whatsoever."
"Yeah, that sounds like Dad," nodded Clark.
"He told me he was born in Pennsylvania."
"But he wasn't," replied Clark. "He was born here in Smallville."
"Maybe it's a clue," suggested Lana, but Clark had finished listening to her as they'd just reached his home. Despite the late hour there was a light in the window, and there, illuminated by the light, was Lex, in his black jacket.
"Well, I guess it's time for us to go our separate ways," said Lana.
But Clark wouldn't hear of it. "No, Lana. Come inside and dry off. You can use our phone to call a taxi if you want."
Lana gratefully accepted Clark's invitation and, as the two of them walked up to the door, Lex opened it for them. As they walked in through the door they saw a red-haired maid, and, in the distance, a shadowy figure in a black wig, corset and fishnet stockings.
"Wow, Lex has brought a maid with him," observed Clark. "He must have really gotten bored with Mum's pies. Speaking of Mum, what do you reckon she's going to sing in that outfit? Something from Cabaret or something from Chicago?"
As Clark looked at the figure in the distance, and as the music started up, and as Lana suddenly recognized the maid with the dark red wig to be Martha, she turned to Clark. "Clark, have you ever seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show?"
"No," replied a confused Clark. "Would I want to?"
At that moment the shadowy figure turned around, strode towards them, and revealed that he, a heavily-made up Jonathan Kent, was a sweet transvestite from pan-sexual Pennsylvania.
"In answer to your last question, Clark," replied Lana. "Not after tonight. No."
Chapter 16: Smile
Chloe Sullivan was awoken with a start by the sound of angry shouting downstairs. Still drunk from the absinthe, she staggered to her feet, made her way to the stairs and then went down them as noisily as possible by performing an impromptu freefall. Landing at the bottom of the stairs, she was tempted to go back to sleep again when she heard someone running towards her.
"Are you alright?" asked a tall, dark but not conventionally handsome stranger.
"No, I'm half left," giggled Chloe, as she put her hand to her aching head. Then she looked at her hand, covered in blood. "And I'm leaking," she added, her eyes wide in astonishment, and then she started giggling again.
"Hey, funny girl," said the stranger, "I'll go and find some bandages. You stay here and watch the world go round."
"Yeah, both of you hurry back now," shouted Chloe at the disappearing stranger.
"Shouldn't I be singing?" Chloe thought aloud. She waited a moment, and then a few moments more. "I guess not," she concluded.
And then the stranger returned. "Talk about bad days," he moaned, as he tilted Chloe's head towards the light to see where the cut was.
"Actually this is the highlight," confided Chloe, as the stranger cleaned her wound with a damp flannel. "I guess the lowlight was listening to Lana and Clark."
"You too?" replied the stranger, briefly pausing from tending to Chloe.
"You know Lana and Clark?" gasped a surprised Chloe.
"Met them a few hours ago. They wanted a lift. Clark had got covered in saliva and he was wearing this weird costume. It was kind of a –"
"Spare me the lurid details," insisted Chloe. "I've had enough of Clark Kent and Lana Lang's love life to last me a lifetime."
"So you know them too?" asked the stranger, applying a plaster to Chloe's forehead.
Chloe tried to nod, but was prevented by the stranger's holding her chin. "Have you nearly finished?"
"Just about," he replied. "Now, is the rest of you okay?"
"Think so," said Chloe, moving her fingers and twitching her toes.
"Okay, you stay sitting there and I'll get you some black coffee."
"That would be nice," she said, smiling at the stranger, but he didn't smile back.
"My name's Chloe by the way," she added as he started to walk away.
"Hi, Chloe. Nice to meet you," he shouted back as he disappeared into The Talon's main room.
Lana Lang walked through the Talon's doors, surprised to find them unlocked. Presumably Pete and/or Chloe must have gone home and left them that way. Then she saw a figure standing there, his back towards her, making coffee. Lana couldn't believe it. Surely this wasn't someone else who wanted to kill her. As the figure, tall with brown hair, turned towards her, she recognized him instantly.
"Not you again," she said wearily. "What are you? A stalker or something?"
"Just popped in for coffee," he replied. "Ended up having to take care of your friend Chloe."
It was then that Lana noticed some blood on his shirt sleeve. "Oh my God! You killed Chloe!"
"No, no," said the stranger, shaking his head. "You've got it all wrong. Chloe just had a little accident."
"I bet she did," shouted back an angry Lana, adopting a fighting stance. "And now, so will you."
Chloe, hearing the noise, walked in at that moment and saw Lana Lang circling the stranger, sizing him up.
"So, Lana, are you going to beat this one up or sleep with him?" asked a curious Chloe.
"Chloe, you're alive!" exclaimed a startled Lana.
"Yeah, and this guy was helping me stay that way."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," said a sorrowful Lana turning her head between Chloe and the stranger. "I just jumped to the wrong conclusion. Guess it's been a long day."
"Are you okay?" asked Chloe, seeing the look on Lana's face, while the stranger went back to making the coffee.
"Yeah, just wet," said Lana reassuringly. "And Clark's okay too."
"Surprised you didn't stay with him," said Chloe snappily, suddenly remembering that Lana had stolen the unrequited love of Chloe's life.
"No, I couldn't stay at the Kents' any longer," Lana explained, trying not to think back to Jonathan's unsettling performance. "To tell the truth, I just couldn't bear to look at poor Clark anymore - unable to move a muscle, a tortured look in his eyes, never wanting to see that corset and those fishnet stockings ever again…"
"Okay, I get the idea," said Chloe. How brazen could Lana be?
"Well, I think I'll crash here for the night," said Lana yawning. "Can you lock up the place?"
Chloe nodded and Lana, after bidding the two of them goodnight, made her exit.
"Is she always like that?" asked the stranger, placing two cups of coffee on the counter.
"No," replied Chloe, "she usually mentions her parents getting hit by a meteorite."
"Oh …" said the stranger, looking into his coffee.
"What is it?" asked Chloe
"Nothing," he replied, remembering something he'd said earlier to Lana. "Hey, sorry I made all that noise earlier. It's just that it's been a really bad day and I was really stressed out and when I walked in here and found no-one to serve me I just snapped." The stranger clicked his fingers to emphasize the point. "Don't think I could take another day like today."
"Hey, no sweat. We've all had bad days." And then she looked at her watch. "Is that the time? I need to phone Dad."
"Here, borrow this," said the stranger, passing over his cellphone.
As Chloe's drunken fingers attempted to dial the right number, she started to take deep breaths hoping that she'd be able to sound convincingly sober. "Hi, Dad. It's me. I'll be home in a … What? Stay here? It's just a bit of rain. People have been singing in it all day… Well, okay, you're the boss… Oh, and by the way, I'm not drunk at all. Bye."
"Very convincing," said the stranger, smiling.
Chloe looked at him as she handed his phone back. He was only a few years older than her and he had such a nice smile. If only she wasn't marrying Lionel in the morning.
"What are you looking at?" he asked, slightly confused.
"You, that's what I'm looking at. You should smile more often. It suits you."
"Thanks, but it would ruin my deadpan image."
"Why do you need a deadpan image for?" asked Chloe. "You're not a comedian."
"So the audience tonight seemed to think. Make me laugh, make me laugh. Don't you know everyone wants to laugh they kept singing. I couldn't even be heard over them. If I never hear that tune again it'll be too soon."
"You're a comedian?" giggled a disbelieving Chloe. "No way."
"Really," he said. "Although I'm definitely in the struggling category at the moment."
"Don't worry. I'm sure you'll be famous one day."
"No doubt about it. I'll be rolling in money, my face will be on posters and I'll be riding a Harley. You'll have to come and visit me in Gotham one day. I'll put a smile on your face – I guarantee it."
"It's a date," agreed a smiling Chloe.
Lana thought back to the stranger downstairs. She'd been wary of him when he'd given her and Clark a lift. Her instincts had warned her against him – that was why she'd pretended not to get his joke, purely in the hope he'd lose interest in her. But it appeared that she'd been wrong about him. Maybe she'd been wrong about Pete Ross too. Maybe her run-in with Clark had affected her more than she'd thought. As she stood in front of her wardrobe mirror, she pulled the neck of her sweater down to reveal the imprints he'd left – a purple necklace to match her purple bracelet from earlier. Unfortunately the bruises Clark had left were more than skin deep.
Chloe had gotten to know the stranger over coffee and, now that their drinks were finished, she'd followed him into the kitchen where he'd insisted on washing up.
While she watched him, and leant against a trolley containing a mountain of pies that Martha had made earlier, she realized that she didn't want him to leave. He was kind and smart and funny. Sure, he didn't look like Clark, but then again who did and, anyway, it wasn't as if Clark would look that way forever. For a moment she wondered if these were her true feelings or just emotions thrust upon her, like her earlier longing for Lionel, all for the sake of a silly song. But none of that mattered, all that mattered for now was that her stupid drunken mouth didn't say anything to drive him away … or sing anything.
Chloe looked at the mountain of pies next to her and felt scared. All it would take was a shove of the trolley and she'd no doubt end up singing Push A Pie Mountain. No, she couldn't let that happen. If only the pies weren't there she thought. And then she thought some more about the situation as she looked closer at the pies and realized why Martha had been looking for that custard powder. Here Chloe was, in a room with a comedian, next to a mountain of custard pies. It was time to be spontaneous and hope this guy had as much a sense of humor as he claimed. Grabbing the first pie she came across, she flung it in the comedian's direction.
At that very momenthe turned towards her and the custard pie hit him directly in the face. As Chloe laughed at the stranger's now white face, he wiped the custard out of his eyes and suddenly noticed the mass of assorted fruit pies Martha had left by the sink.
Picking one up, and taking careful aim, he fired it at the side of Chloe's head that didn't have the plaster. A moment later Chloe was licking blueberry from off her face.
After that, while Chloe resisted the urge to sing Food, Glorious Food, the battle escalated, with pies flying thick and fast..
Lana lay in bed. Suddenly she heard footsteps thundering up the stairs, the door opening and then, in the light from the hallway, she saw a figure come in. She tried to scream but there was a hand over her mouth and another hand was pulling back her pink covers. Then she heard Clark's voice slowly singing as she felt his hand running down her body.
Getting to know you. Getting to know all about you.
Getting to know you. Getting to know all about you.
Helpless, she looked at him in the dark. The only things visible were a pair of eyes, glowing red, and his bright white teeth that formed a twisted smile.
Getting to like you. Getting to hope you like me.
Getting to like you. Getting to hope you like me.
And then Lana woke up screaming from her nightmare, her body wet with sweat.
As she sat up in bed, clutching her shrinking gas canisters tightly, she could hear loud noises – shouting and laughing – coming from downstairs.
Chloe realized that taking pies from the bottom of the pie mountain wasn't a good idea just a little too late. As the avalanche of pies engulfed her, the stranger decided that the appropriate reaction was to laugh hysterically and, needless to say, did so.
"That wasn't funny," insisted Chloe, sitting on the floor, covered in assorted pie fillings.
"You Smallvillites just haven't got a sense of humor," laughed the stranger, still holding a pie, as he moved towards Chloe. "I must have been trying to explain that joke to Lana for nearly a day."
"Yeah, but Lana's not the smartest girl in Smallville," started Chloe. "At one time it seemed like I was putting capiche at the end of every sentence I said to her … then I had to stop because she kept bringing me cups of coffee. Then there was the time she cried at the end of Moulin Rouge when she finally figured out it wasn't a sequel to Mulan."
"Speaking of Lana… Isn't she going to be upset by all this?" the stranger asked, looking around at the state of the kitchen.
"No," said Chloe dismissively, "Martha's pies were flat and left you wanting more – they'd have just reminded Lana of her parents."
"Wow, you must really hate her."
"No, Lana's okay," admitted Chloe. "It's just the drunk talking."
The stranger stood over Chloe and offered her his free hand. "So what do you do when you're not waitressing?"
"I'm not a waitress!" exclaimed an affronted Chloe. "I'm a reporter."
"Shame, I preferred you as a waitress," teased the stranger.
"Yeah, but reporting's like comedy," said Chloe defensively. "You tell people how you see the world. Try and make sense of it for them."
The stranger frowned. "And what about when it doesn't make sense?"
"I stick it on a wall," laughed Chloe. "Guess it's not like comedy after all."
"Guess not," said the comedian, as Chloe finally took his hand. As he helped her up, a question occurred to him. "Lana said that people didn't curse in Smallville? Is that true?"
"No, of course we curse," replied Chloe, "but obviously we don't do it directly to her face – that would just be rude."
The stranger laughed, and smiled once more, and as Chloe looked at his smile, and the glint in his eyes, she found herself wanting him more and more. And then she was pulling him towards her. Forget about Clark and Lionel, they didn't make sense – she should just stick them on a wall and forget about them. The only ones who mattered now were her and the stranger and there was only one way for them to make sense of this crazy, mixed-up, musical world.
And then she noticed the pie in his hand and couldn't resist grabbing it off him and shoving it on top of his head. As the apple pie filling started pouring down his hair the stranger had one more question.
"Have you quite finished?"
"Not quite," said Chloe, as she knelt down, stuck her finger in a cherry pie and then used it to draw a large red smile on him. As he smiled, making the cherry smile even bigger, Chloe knew she wanted him. She wanted to tell him how she felt about him, to wear her heart on her sleeve just this once. Maybe he wouldn't walk out on her like her mother had all those years ago. As Chloe wondered why that unexpected thought had suddenly surfaced, she started to think about what she was doing. The absinthe was making her act stupid, worry about parental abandonment and now she found herself wanting to make love with a complete stranger. The bottle should have carried a warning: This may turn you into Lana Lang.
But it didn't matter, for now, as she looked into the stranger's white face, and ran her fingers through his hair, now green from the apple pie filling, there was only one thing she could do. She knew it was wrong, but this was beyond her control, irresistible.
"Be a clown. Be a clown," she started singing, despite herself. "All the world loves a clown…"
The stranger looked into Chloe's face, with its eerie fixed smile offset by the tears starting to form in her eyes, and then backed away from her. Smallville was just too crazy for him. He had to get back to Gotham City and sanity. As Chloe ran around the kitchen singing her song, he ran out of the kitchen. There, sitting at the bottom of the stairs, he saw Lana, drying her eyes.
"Hey, Lana," he said, pushing some money towards her. "I've got to go now. Hopefully this'll cover the coffees and cleaning, if not the pies." Then he started to rush away, but suddenly, remembering something, turned back. "For what it's worth, I'm really sorry about my meteor storm comment back in the car." And then he set off again, out into the rain.
As Chloe finished her song, she rushed out of The Talon, the rain mixing with her tears, but the stranger was nowhere to be seen. Walking back in she saw Lana sitting at the bottom of the stairs.
"Hi, Lana. Did you ever wish that you had a time machine so you could go back and fix the mistakes in your life?"
"Constantly," replied Lana.
"Sorry if we woke you up."
"No, I couldn't sleep anyway," explained Lana, "so I came down to see what all the noise was about."
And then Chloe suddenly had a worrying thought. "So, how long have you been down here?"
"Long enough, Chloe," she replied coldly. "Capiche?"
Leaving Chloe standing there banging her head against the wall, Lana walked to The Talon doors and locked them. After all, she didn't want any more jokers dropping in that night.
Chapter 17: Ah Yes! I Remember It Well
At the Kent Farm the next morning, everything was silent except for the radio that was issuing constant flood warnings. While Jonathan and Clark avoided each other's gaze, and Lex watched them both with a bemused detachment, Martha suddenly started tap dancing around the room singing "Flood warning, flood warning. It's rained the whole night through. Flood warning, flood warning, to you and you and you and …"
Martha's eyes searched frantically for somebody else to sing to, when suddenly she heard somebody at the door. Quickly she ran to see who it was.
"… you!" Martha sang as she opened the door. There stood Chloe Sullivan, still showing traces of custard and assorted fruit despite the incessant rain that had been washing it off her on the way over.
"Hello, Chloe," said Martha cheerily. "You're up early."
Chloe nodded. An hour ago she'd woken up in The Talon with her head pounding and her stomach grumbling. To add insult to injury, the mixture of custard and assorted fruit fillings left on her from the night before had managed to stick her head to the table she'd fallen asleep at. Finally, after pulling her head free, and remembering, in dribs and drabs, the events of the previous evening, she'd decided to make herself scarce before Lana got up (or before Lionel showed up expecting her to marry him).
"Hi," said Chloe. "Just popped around to see how Clark is."
"So, Lana told you about last night, did she?" asked Martha, as she remembered how Lana had left almost sooner than she'd arrived. She'd not even stuck around for The Time Warp.
"Yes, she did," replied Chloe, taken aback that Martha knew the details of Lana and Clark's goings on, "but I'm surprised Clark told you about it."
"Oh, we were all there, sad to say," explained Martha. "I suspect Clark's psychologically scarred for life."
Chloe looked at Martha Kent in disbelief. Suddenly, hearing about Lana Lang's rampant exhibitionism, she didn't feel so bad about the comments she'd made about Lana the night before.
"Personally, I don't think I'll ever forget all of that pelvic thrusting," continued Martha. "So, shall I get Clark for you."
"No, I don't think I'm ready yet," replied an ashen Chloe, still trying to process all of the information with her hungover brain. "I better get going."
"Okay, I'll give Clark your regards," shouted Martha after Chloe as she headed home.
Lionel woke up to find himself sitting at home, in his chair, with Perry White standing looking at him.
"What happened?" asked Lionel, wondering how he'd got there and why Perry White was with him.
"You don't remember?" Perry asked, with a big grin on his face.
"Well, the last thing I remember was telling you I'd re-destroy your career for you," replied Lionel, holding his head in his hands. To his amazement Perry continued to grin.
"You don't remember that you're going to marry Chloe Sullivan today?"
"No, but, now that you mention it, I'll get my secretary to cancel it."
"You don't remember Atlantis?"
"Atlantis?" replied a stunned Lionel. He thought only he and a few select employees were aware of that undersea kingdom's actual existence.
"Yeah, Atlantis. You really wowed them with your John Travolta moves."
Lionel relaxed a little as he realized Perry was referring to the Metropolis night club. "Carry on."
"And then there was that real exclusive club you took us to afterwards. That club that you own. Even if you hadn't told me I would have guessed it from the Mahler on the jukebox."
Lionel immediately knew the place to which Perry was referring. "Were there many there?"
"Just you and me. That was pretty exclusive I must admit. Oh, and then there were all those scantily clad girls who worked there, claiming to be from some Paradise Island. Not to mention that escape artist doing his act. You really upset his assistant Oberon with your dwarf-tossing."
"They had dwarf-tossing?" asked a surprised Lionel.
"No, they didn't!" replied Perry. "Is it any wonder that the tiny guy was so upset. You're lucky he didn't press charges."
"So, sounds like a good night," reflected Lionel. "How much did I drink?"
"You had sixteen, going on seventeen, or so you insisted on singing to me on the way home."
"Well, the night's over now. Time to destroy your career I think, Mister White."
"But you can't. And please - call me Perry."
"And may I enquire as to why not?" asked a curious Lionel.
"Because I know your big secret," replied Perry. "You told me."
"You're bluffing," laughed Lionel.
"Try me," said Perry, his grin wider than ever.
"So, blackmail is it?" said Lionel, leaning forward. "Perry, I like your style."
"Thanks, Lionel. To be honest I've always thought my talents lay more in the realms of editing than writing. Deciding what the public need to know … and what they don't."
"I'll see what I can do," said Lionel, treating Perry with a new respect. "I'll have my people contact your peop- … I'll get them to contact you."
It was after noon when Lana finally woke up. She'd had trouble getting to sleep the previous night with her thoughts first being occupied by Clark, and then by a previously unthinkable plan of meeting her parents. Now that plan seemed a lot more achievable.
But that would have to wait. First she had to make amends with Chloe. But that was the least of Chloe's concerns as Lana discovered when she reached Chloe's home only to find her sitting down, crying over a note.
"What is it, Chloe?"
Chloe looked up at Lana with her tear-stained face. "It's my cousin, Lois Lane. I've had a letter from her."
Chloe passed the now-damp note to Lana, so she could read it. As Lana quickly read it, she failed to see the reason for Chloe's upset.
"She's on holiday in Las Vegas. Having a great time," summarized Lana. "What's the big deal?"
"Oh, poor, sweet, innocent, unthinking Lana. Can't you read between the lines? It's obvious that she's going to shorten her name, become a dancer, and then she'll meet a guy and he'll strangle her with a rope or maybe she'll choke him with a banana."
"Well, now that you mention it," said Lana, "it still doesn't make any sense."
"I can just see it all now," said Chloe, as a spotlight suddenly descended on her, and she leapt up and removed her clothes to reveal a long and flowing dress underneath. As the music started, and Chloe swayed in time to it, Lana wondered what was about to follow. And then Chloe started singing.
"Her name was Lo La. She was a showgirl …"
Lana couldn't believe it. Copacabana? A Barry Manilow song? Surely whatever musical force that was affecting Smallville was running out of ideas. To tell the truth, she only knew one big Barry Manilow fan in Smallville and that was Pete Ross. Wait a minute? Pete Ross? Hadn't Jonathan mentioned magic Pete Ross in that song of his, and, come to think of it, Clark had also mentioned Pete Ross and magic spells in one of his songs. Suddenly Lana knew who was responsible for the music in Smallville.
As Chloe continued "but just who killed who, with a rope or, rope or banana," Lana smiled to herself, as she realized that she was probably the world's greatest detective.
Ten minutes later she was changing into her second spare Insect Queen outfit (Clark having stretched the first totally out of shape), ready to face possibly her greatest foe yet … Pete Ross.
Chapter 18: Conquering Demons
Pete Ross sat at his keyboard desperately trying to think up some more musical numbers to parody when there was a knock at his bedroom door.
"Who is it?" asked Pete, as he frantically wondered how to turn his magical monitor off.
"Greetings, citizen. It is I, Insect Queen," proclaimed Insect Queen.
"Come in, Lana," said Pete, breathing a sigh of relief that, at last, Lana had turned up.
"You mistaketh me for someone else, mortal," said Insect Queen, entering the room, "for I am not anybody called Lana, but Insect Queen, friend of the fly, ally of the ant, buddy of the bee."
"Quit the spiel, Lana," said a smiling Pete Ross. "I've seen everything that's gone on for the last couple of days, and I know your secret."
Lana looked at Pete and, realizing that he wasn't lying, took off her mask and sat down on his bed. "Some superhero I turned out to be. Couldn't even keep my secret identity secret. What would Warrior Angel say?"
"Don't be hard on yourself, Lana. That's comic books and this is real life."
"Yeah, I guess so," replied Lana, and then remembered her real reason for being there. "Have you a change of clothing, Pete?"
"Sorry?" asked Pete.
"I know what's going on Pete. I'm not stupid. Some green rock's given you powers to create music, and you've been using it to make fun of everyone in Smallville, except for me - presumably because you've got a secret crush on me like all teenage boys."
"What?" exclaimed Pete in disbelief.
"Don't deny it. That's why you brought the rock round to The Talon yesterday. You wanted to surrender. But don't worry, all I have to do is salivate on you and your nightmare will be over."
As Lana got up and moved closer to him, her mouth opening ever wider, Pete had to act quickly. "No, Lana, don't! I'm not a mutant. Your drool of death will kill me."
But Lana Lang wasn't going to let Pete Ross fool her. "It shouldn't make any difference then. My saliva will just remove any of the rock traces from you, not harm you. Just as it did with Clark."
"I saved Clark," lied Pete Ross. "Stop looming over me for a second and I'll tell you the whole sorry story."
Lana backed away for a second. Her drooling could wait.
Meanwhile, Pete had to come up with a story that wouldn't jeopardize Clark's secret. "It was when Chloe told me about Insect Queen, I became jealous wishing that I could have super powers too."
Lana nodded. "Okay, carry on."
"So that afternoon I taught myself magic and ended up summoning a fictional demon from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, who gave me the power to make Smallville sing."
Lana was skeptical, but it sounded so unbelievable it must have been true.
"So, you've been orchestrating all these musical goings on? And when it looked like my drool would kill Clark, you used your magic to negate the drool and turn him back to normal?"
Pete nodded, although the last bit wasn't actually true.
"And it's you who's been trying to kill me?" Lana asked venomously.
"No, that was the magic spell," said Pete, glad to share his terrible secret with someone else. "It got out of control. I was trying to save you. It was me who dropped that village on him."
"So, it wasn't you who subjected Clark to that Rocky Horror fiasco?" asked Lana, grateful that Pete Ross might not be all to blame after all.
"Well, eh, that might have been my idea," said Pete.
"Pete Ross," said Lana Lang, with all the revulsion she could muster. "You're one sick, sick puppy."
"It kind of gets worse," said Pete hesitantly.
"Worse?" echoed Lana.
"In return for my musical abilities there was a price."
"A price?" echoed Lana.
"He wanted a bride, a queen, and I told him about the most desirable girl in Smallville - you."
"So, let me get this straight," said an angry Lana. "You're trying to marry me off to a fictional demon."
"That's pretty much it," nodded Pete.
"Typical," moaned Lana. "Well I guess I'll have to come up with a plan before he turns up. When's he due?"
Pete looked at his watch. "In about an hour."
At which point a demonic figure suddenly stepped out of the shadows.
"Well actually, kids, I'm early."
Lana looked at the red-skinned figure, recognizing him from the TV series. "I'm sorry, sir, but there's no way I'm marrying you."
But the demon's attention was now with Pete Ross. "Surely you didn't think you'd trick me by dressing up this girl as the Insect Queen? Still, I guess she'll do."
"Guess?" echoed an enraged Lana. "Most demons would consider themselves lucky to end up with me."
The demon looked at Lana once more. "Hmmm, you're right my dear. We could make beautiful music together."
"Yuk," replied Lana. "That's both cheesy and gross." And then she thought for a second. "Hey, wait a minute, I've listened to The Charlie Daniels Band and Tenacious D. I challenge you to a musical duel."
The demon contemplated for a moment. "Well, despite the fact that I'm neither the devil nor seeking your soul, I'll acquiesce to your request."
"Okay," said Lana. "If I win, you go away from Smallville forever. If you win … I'll marry you without any fuss and make you the happiest demon alive, or undead, or whatever you are."
"Very well, Lana, my dearest. You go first," said the demon, who was convinced of his own superiority. "Sing your pretty little heart out."
And so Lana sang the song that meant most to her - a song that she'd sung to her parents, bringing tears to their eyes just as it now brought tears to Pete's. As, with a voice unlike anybody else's, she imbued the theme tune to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood with passion and resonances it had never known before, the demon stared at her aghast.
"Best out of three?" asked Pete Ross hopefully.
The demon looked perplexed. No way was he marrying Lana now - no bride of his was going to be tone deaf. Maybe he should go back to marrying his summoner. After all, Xander, for all his faults, could at least carry a tune, and Pete Ross, while not ideal, wouldn't be any trouble. Maybe he was just being too picky. Anyway, his immediate concern was whether to tell Lana what he really thought of her singing. No, that would be mean - he was a demon, not Simon Cowell. "I'm out of here," said the demon. "After that, there's no way I'm coming back to Smallville."
As the demon slunk off to a corner to sing an obligatory song to wrap things up, Pete turned to Lana.
"Guess I under-estimated you, Lana," said Pete. "you're a true hero." And, for once, he was telling the truth. It was easy for Clark to fight the freaks with his ever-expanding range of powers, but for Lana, who could only fly, shrink and drool, to be willing to wear spandex and go up against any foe no matter how seemingly insurmountable took guts.
"Thanks," said Lana wearily, putting her mask back on.
"Don't worry," reassured Pete. "Your secret's safe with me."
"Just promise me you'll give up magic."
Pete nodded. "I guess you're disappointed in me?"
Lana wondered what to say to Pete. Sure, she was disappointed in him, but she'd been disappointed by people all of her life - her parents who weren't very good at meteor-dodging, that Time photographer who wouldn't wait for her to smile, Chloe who'd ridiculed her, Clark who strangled her … the list went on. No, she could have told Pete that, but it would have just made him feel worse. What she really wanted to tell him was to stop interacting with Smallville through magic spells. He'd spent too long being on the sidelines - he needed to join in the game. Life was for living. He needed to seize the day. Don't dream it, be it! But there wasn't time for a big speech, she had to get back and open The Talon, so she'd need to encapsulate it all in a few words.
"Get a life, Pete," said Lana as she left his room.
Pete stood there, alone except for a singing demon in the corner. Suddenly, looking at the monitor, he realized that there was nearly an hour of the spell still left. Maybe there was still time to try and make amends.
Time for a happy ending.
Chapter 19: When The Veil Of Dreams Has Lifted
As Pete Ross sat at his keyboard, typing away furiously, the musical demon finished his farewell song and then soared upwards, phasing through the roof, before finally dispersing into a brilliantly bright vapor, lighting the sky like a flame, and bathing Smallville in a sinister crimson glow.
Ten minutes earlier, Pete's typing had caused a mystical facsimile of Heaven once more to appear, and from that Heaven yet another parent (or, to be precise, an exact replica thereof) had descended.
Around the same time, at the Kent Farm, the unbearable silence between Clark and Jonathan had finally yielded to equally unbearable conversation. Wearying of their fascinating insights into cows, Lex had decided that getting wet was infinitely preferable and so had set off on his journey home, only to encounter a woman from his past who'd sung him a song, given him a gift, and then kissed him softly (although it left Lex reeling as if he'd been slapped). She'd then disappeared once more out of his life, leaving her rain-soaked son to ponder her song and the gift that she'd left behind.
As the bright red light from up above now illuminated everything, Lex walked across the red field, through the crimson rain. And as he walked through the storm, he held his head up high, just as his mother's song had advised him, and, as he did so, he looked at the star she'd left behind. It was to remind him that she was with him always, and that, as her song had said, he'd never walk alone.
It was, however, a useless present, for Lex didn't need any reminder. She'd always been with him, and he'd always known.
As the red rain turned to normal rain and then stopped entirely, Lex, his breath suddenly feeling fresh again, looked out at the golden sky and, for once, didn't feel the urge to sing.
"Look! Up in the sky!" yelled Martha, pointing at the sky.
Jonathan and Clark ran over to the kitchen window to see what Martha was pointing at. Clark's eyes widened as he saw, there in the sky, a large rainbow.
Jonathan pulled Martha towards him. "I've got a hunch everything's going to be back to normal any time now."
"Me too," she said, wrapping her arms around him.
As Martha and Jonathan kissed, Clark continued to look at the rainbow. Birds might fly over it, but he never would – nor would he want to, for if the last couple of days had taught him anything it was how much he'd missed the normal day to day life of Smallville. It was true what they said – there was no place like home. And how could he, in all conscience, even think of leaving anyway, with the constant legacy of freaks that would be plaguing Smallville for countless generations to come.
And also there, in his mental calculations, was Lana, the girl of his dreams. He could never leave her. They'd be together forever.
No, he could forget any thoughts he'd had about Metropolis. There was nobody who could ever persuade him to move there.
Well, nobody he'd met yet anyway.
Five minutes ago Lana Lang had left her Insect Queen outfit in a trashcan in an alley and walked away from it through the rain. Insect Queen was no more. She'd meant to fight freaks and keep Smallville safe, but lately, with those idiots from the future that had attacked Zatanna, and Pete Ross's disastrous foray into magic, she'd been the one who'd caused the danger.
And then there was Clark Kent, the boy from her nightmare. Even now she was feeling trepidation about how she'd react the next time she saw him.
But maybe Clark wasn't the problem, maybe it was Smallville. Why did she stay in this place where her parents had died so horribly? Maybe there were places on this world where she could forget her past and find friends who wouldn't insult her or try to kill her, places where attempts on her life weren't status quo. But where?
Suddenly a couple danced by singing some song from An American In Paris. Hmm, now there was an idea. Maybe they'd appreciate her there - after all, they appreciated Jerry Lewis.
Chloe Sullivan had had her heart broken and manipulated, and was now recovering from a night of alcoholic abuse, but that didn't concern her. Normally she'd be tearing her hair out as she worked on The Torch, convinced that there was a big story right under her nose that she was somehow missing, but not today.
For today Smallville had thrust a brilliant story right in her face - in fact the stories from the last two days alone would completely fill the next bumper edition of The Torch.
Chloe was truly happy.
Lana was back in The Talon when she noticed that, despite her having just opened up the place several seconds ago, all the seats were now full of customers. Suddenly some music started up and they burst into song.
Who can take a coffee That Lana Lang
Sprinkle it in goo
Cover it in chocolate
and a miracle or two?
That Lana Lang can
That Lana Lang can cause she mixes it with love and makes the world taste good
Who can take a coffee
That Lana Lang
Lana would have blushed at the lyrics if they weren't all true, but she still wasn't ready to forgive Pete Ross for what he'd done.
And then she saw a crowd outside staring into the sky, and, ignoring her customers (who still had a few verses to keep them busy), wandered out to see what the attraction was. As she looked at the rainbow up above, her heart skipped a beat. Maybe she could forgive Pete Ross after all, for this was the first perfect rainbow that Lana Lang had ever seen. It had all the colors a rainbow needed – red, orange, yellow, green blue, indigo, violet and, last but most important of all, pink.
Pete Ross, having finished his typing, walked out onto the streets of Smallville and saw people milling around - people who he'd never bothered with before, but that he now knew intimately, thanks to the mystical mental link he'd shared with them over the past couple of days. Suddenly he realized that Lana had been right - it was indeed time to get a life. As he walked the streets, exchanging greetings with surprised strangers, he felt happier, more connected, than he'd ever felt before in Smallville. In fact he never wanted to leave.
In Pete Ross' bedroom two words suddenly appeared on the monitor:
Chapter 20: Epilogue
The rain fell down on Clark Kent as he read the names on the two adjacent gravestones - Jonathan Kent and Martha Kent. He was surprised how much their deaths had affected him … still affected him. He remembered back to his younger days on the Kent Farm, when his adoptive parents had seemed invincible, able to do anything, but those days were more than a century ago.
As the storm continued, Clark wandered the graveyard some more, coming across the untended grave of Pete Ross. Pete's death had been fairly recent - it was as if Death had forgotten all about him. He'd still have no doubt been alive today, albeit immensely decrepit, if he hadn't taken that journey to the site of Kal and Insect Queen's legendary fight. It had been the centenary celebration of the unexplained phenomenon that was a hole to the center of the Earth (unexplained to most, but Clark knew that it was Insect Queen's unstoppable acidic saliva that had been the cause). Pete Ross had apparently been having a great time there that day until that village suddenly appeared out of nowhere and fell on him. Still, as Clark knew all too well, these things happen.
The next grave he came across was Chloe's. My, how he'd admired her. While he'd gone off to Metropolis wasting his powers fighting Lex Luthor, Brainiac, the Parasite, Mr. Mxyzptlk and lots of other bald guys who were envious of his hair, Chloe Sullivan had drawn on her experiences in Smallville and set herself the task of changing the way people think, challenging their perceptions, delivering a message to the world. Not only that but she'd been incredibly successful at it, becoming one of Hollywood's hottest writers. From her initial autobiographical TV beginnings with a series unkindly dubbed Dawson's Freak by the press, to a series of movies on the same theme that had been box-office smashes, even leading to numerous parody movies (Not Another Teen Mutant being a particular favorite of Clark's). Still, nobody lives forever, thought Clark, apart from himself of course.
Finally, he made his way to the pink marble headstone inscribed Lana Lang, Not dead, just resting. Lana had left the world tragically young. He still remembered the tear-stained note that Pete Ross had shown him.
Dear Pete, You probably don't know this, and I try to be brave and not to let on, but there is a great sadness at the core of my soul, an emptiness in my heart, that dates back to my parents' death at the hands of a meteor. So consuming is my sadness that I must finally take action. I'm going to meet my parents, Pete. Please don't wake me. Have a nice day. Love,
You probably don't know this, and I try to be brave and not to let on, but there is a great sadness at the core of my soul, an emptiness in my heart, that dates back to my parents' death at the hands of a meteor. So consuming is my sadness that I must finally take action. I'm going to meet my parents, Pete. Please don't wake me.
Have a nice day.
Clark left the graveyard and made his way through the storm to the deserted town center. Standing there was a large golden statue of Smallville's greatest defender Insect Queen, with the words IN MEMORIAM inscribed at the base. Clark owed everything to Insect Queen, whoever she was (he once considered using his X-ray vision to peek behind her mask, but she was nobody he knew so why bother).
It had been Insect Queen who'd inspired him to become a costumed crime-fighter. Well actually, now that he thought about it, it was probably Cow out of his favorite TV show Cow and Chicken - he'd even stolen the look - but Insect Queen definitely helped. Indeed the only reason he could leave Smallville for Metropolis was that Insect Queen remained behind to protect his home town. Fortunately Smallville's mutant population finally died down and Insect Queen disappeared (coincidentally, just a week or two before Lana's death).
Clark turned away from the statue and walked out of Smallville for the very last time. There was no longer any reason for him to go back there. Apart that is from Lana, who wasn't dead but just resting, but Clark didn't know that - only Pete Ross had known that … Pete and a few select insects.
Years passed and the tale was handed down, from insect generation to insect generation, about the sleeping princess - about her incredible beauty and her endless sadness. Now, after all these years, an ant called Miles, who'd braved a perilous journey to reach her, was finally going to wake the princess. As he looked at the giant cocoon he couldn't believe its size - this was going to take some time.
Slowly, ever so slowly, Miles picked apart the cocoon. "Wake up my princess!" he thought, as loudly as he was able.
Picking up the ant's telepathic signals, Insect Queen finally started to awaken, and then, seeing the cocoon enveloping her, started to panic. As she writhed around, tearing the cocoon, Miles was thrown across the cave. Looking across, he saw a figure like none he'd ever seen before emerge from the cocoon's interior.
"I'm not a princess. I'm a queen!" corrected the still sleepy Lana Lang, as she shrunk down to Miles' size, and used her wings to flutter over to him. "What am I doing here? Why have I got wings?"
"You don't remember?" asked Miles. "Legend says that you used your enchanted ring to spin a cocoon so you could sleep for a thousand years. And in that time it appears that you've somehow been transformed. All of your aspects have merged - your winged costume, your enchanted ring, your magic gasses are now all a part of you."
"Cool," said the shimmering naked Lana. "So this is the thirty-first century?"
"I've no idea," replied Miles. "We insects haven't invented calendars. But don't worry, your highness. I'm sure you'll like what you see."
And so Miles led Lana out of the cave, and all around was desolation as far as the eye could see.
"So where is everyone?" asked Lana.
"We're everywhere," said Miles.
"No, the people?" asked Lana.
"There are no people," explained Miles. "Only the insects survived."
Lana Lang had insisted on growing big again and exploring the desolate world, so the patient Miles, perched on her shoulder, tagged along.
"What is it you're looking for exactly?" he asked. "Maybe I can help."
"I'm looking for a time machine," replied a despondent Lana. "That's why I came to the future."
"Is that all? There are hundreds of those lying around."
Lana's smile suddenly dazzled Miles. "There are? Do you know how they work?"
"Of course I do," responded Miles cockily. "One hand points to the minute, and another points to the hour."
"You're talking about a watch or a clock, aren't you?" Lana replied as her smile turned upside down.
"Yes," said a startled Miles. "You know of such devices? Surely you are a visionary."
"We had them back in my time," explained Lana, suddenly feeling very old. "What I actually need is some way to travel back into the past. I once met some people from the future, and I was hoping that I could get them to take me back to the past so that I could save my parents."
"Oh, a chronal displacement unit," Miles said, realization dawning. "Why didn't you say so? There's one here in Smallville."
Hours later, Lana and Miles had made their way past the long-decayed security measures to find themselves in a large underground chamber. Lana used her glow worm abilities to light the place up, and looked at the numerous posters adorning the walls.
"Who lived here?" asked Lana.
"Oh, a great villain," began Miles. "His name was Tempus. He traveled back in time, and used his knowledge of future events to make himself rich, stealing another's identity and even killing their parents. He changed the timeline drastically causing chronal displacers to be forever outlawed thereafter."
"He sure has a lot of Bee Gees posters," observed Lana. "So, back to business, where's this displacer thingy."
And so Miles showed her the chronal displacer, which was fortunately still working (since it used energy from the past as a power source). As she stepped on the mat, she looked over at Miles.
"Thanks for everything."
"Goodbye, my queen," replied Miles as Lana Lang disappeared from his life forever.
Lana Lang found herself back in 1989 hovering over Smallville. Suddenly a meteor rushed past her heading for a cornfield, and then another one heading towards the town center. Suddenly Lana was flying faster than she'd ever flown before, catching up with the meteor and, as the heat destroyed her delicate wings, falling onto it. As Lana's new, improved body started sizzling away, her mind was on other things - she had to divert this meteor.
Being stuck in the cocoon with her shrinking gas canisters all that time meant that she could shrink, but she'd also had growing gas canisters with her. And so, ignoring her pain, she grew as large as she could. It looked like death was going to be an awfully big adventure for her, and she didn't mind about dying, for suddenly she felt the meteor divert ever so slightly from her path. As tears of joy and agonizing pain filled her eyes, she knew that her parents were safe.
Unfortunately the same couldn't be said of the girl in the fairy costume across the street who the meteor was now heading for, but, hey, sometimes you've got to make sacrifices.