THE CAPTURE OF SUPERMAN!
Originally “The Capture of Superboy,” story by L.Cross.
Modestly text-enhanced by Rick Henry, 05-2021, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part One – The Discovery…
Young Bart drove north out of the city in his uncle’s 2007 Avalanche, he conceded to himself that this scheme of his uncle’s seemed a bit of an overreach, even for the gifted Dumont. Sure his uncle was a genius, but to “defeat” the Man of Steel seemed unachievable even for his intellect.
Bart was a good-looking youth almost 17 years old. He stood just shy of 6’ and weighted 160 lbs, had green eyes, and short blond hair. Bart, like his uncle, Dumont, was manipulative as well as deceptive; both had a cruel streak; it seemed to run in the family. Dumont, a wealthy young scientist from a family that had been powerful for generations, had spent the last several years studying Earth’s mightiest champion, Superman, with the sole purpose of discovering any Achilles’ Heel Superman might have. Dumont, hated Superman and everything he stood for; it was a fixation driven by both envy and natural cruelty. He wanted to defeat Superman and destroy him completely. Dumont wanted more than anything in the world to render the muscled Titan powerless and then subject him to every conceivable act of humiliation for his personal amusement. Bart smiled as he recalled his uncle’s antics several days ago when he read the latest headline of the daily newspaper reporting on Superman’s latest super feat; Dumont flipped out and threw a tantrum screaming he would defeat and utterly humiliate Superman by month’s end.
As Bart continued to drive north he recalled the events of the past year. Several months ago Dumont finally found what he thinks he has been looking for; the pursuit of it had occupied literally every waking moment of Dumont’s time over the last several years searching every relevant internet source and scientific resource available not to mention several grueling expeditions to east Africa to glean data relevant to Superman. But Dumont persevered and eventually found what he believes is a fragment of Superman’s home world of Krypton. Several years ago Dumont developed a theory based on scientific data that the planet Krypton exploded back in 1980. Using star charts and computer models only recently available, Dumont mathematically calculated the time it would take fragments of Krypton to reach Earth. He then cross referenced the fragments likely course to Earth with the position of Earth upon arrival and calculated that any fragments from Krypton large enough to survive the penetration of Earth’s atmosphere would impact Earth in east Africa; more precisely: Ethiopia.
On a subsequent expedition Dumont found a few suspected fragments of Krypton in an obscure museum in Addis Abba and bought them. Over the next several weeks of testing he discovered the element was indeed quite rare, in fact alien, and one of kind with an atomic number in excess of 126. Dumont named the element Kryptonite, after the doomed planet Krypton. He believes exposing any Kryptonians to Kryptonite will cause immediate physical pain and debilitation; it might possibly kill Kryptonians with prolonged exposure. Dumont theorizes that the mechanism by which green Kryptonite may hurt Superman is based on the fact that in some ways Superman is a living solar battery. Superman’s cells absorb electromagnetic radiation from yellow stars such as Earth’s sun which is the power source of his tremendous abilities and superpowers. Kryptonite’s radioactivity will interfere with this semi-photosynthetic process, and drive the energy of Earth’s yellow sun out of Superman’s cells in a very painful method rendering him utterly helpless before the bearer of Kryptonite.
After what seems like an eternity Bart finally reaches his destination: a secluded hangar on a deserted airstrip in a remote area far north of the city. Bart approaches the hangar and keys a code into his blackberry and the large hangar’s doors divide and slide open. He drives the truck into the hangar and parks the truck near the back wall as the hangar doors close behind of him. It is shortly after 10PM on a Sunday night. Carrying a heavy lead case, he makes his way to the back wall of the hangar and through a passageway that leads to service elevator and an array of steel stairs that descends more than 40 feet below the thick concrete hangar floor. The elevator has a sign that reads: “OUT OF SERVICE.”
Bart angrily yells, “Dumont, you cheap bastard!” He gloomily descends the numerous stairs carrying the heavy lead box cursing Dumont as descends. Bart finally reaches the bottom of the shaft and enters an anteroom and stands before an enormous steel blast door. Bart moves to a keypad on the concrete wall next to the blast door and punches in a numeric code. Bart hears the whirl of machinery as the steel blast door shifts slightly and begins to rise and then stops with a loud thud that echoes through the anteroom. “I’m surprised the door is mechanized instead of a manual crank,” thinks Bart cynically.” Bart punches in another series of numbers and the lights within the room flicker and begin to slowly ramp up to 1/4 illumination. He enters yet another series of numbers and he suddenly hears the hum of the air handlers ramping up.
Bart quickly enters the Containment Room and moves to a lead arch built over a yet another numeric keypad recessed in the hangar wall. Within the arch Bart opens the lead box and stands for several minutes mesmerized by the eerie green glow from the Kryptonite fragments that illuminates the dimly lit Containment Room. He contemplates the order of a universe in which chain guns and missiles could not destroy SUPERMAN but exposure to a seemingly harmless green rock could.
Bart almost feels a slight sliver of compassion for Superman who he had no idea that an element such as Kryptonite even exists. In Superman’s mind he is invulnerable and rightly so; until now nothing has been able to destroy Superman much less hurt him. Since Superman’s emergence villains and criminals had conspired to destroy Superman every conceivable means: intense heat, intense cold, bombs, rockets, electricity, and even radiation. Nothing thus far has any been effective against the mighty Man of Steel! It seems everyone has given up trying and the crime rate has plummeted as Superman continues to foil the plans of many a career criminal. Yes, everyone has given up their dreams of destroying Superman, except Dumont. Yes, to date Superman is invincible; but that is about to change!
Bart suddenly snaps back to reality and shrugs as he nervously checks the time: 10:25PM. “Well, the Kryptonite is here snug in the lead box ready for Superman! 35 minutes until I send the signal to Superman! Well, I might as well head topside and have a well-deserved smoke while I wait to signal Superman.” Bart thought out loud. “Being way down here in this tomb with this Kryptonite gives me the creeps.” Bart replaces the lead cover on the container and starts up the double staircase leading to the hangar floor high above cursing Dumont on every step up the long array of steel staircases.
Above in the dark hangar Bart paces the large hangar floor chain smoking nervously and repeatedly checking his watch waiting for the designated hour to signal Superman. I’ve got to pull myself together Bart thinks. I just hope Kryptonite does what it is supposed to do otherwise I’m toast, juvenile status or not. Bart took several deep breaths and shook himself to regain his composure. That’s better thought Bart. He checks his watch again: 10:57PM. “Close enough. Show time! The end of Superman,” said Bart excitedly. Bart takes the Blackberry from his belt clip Dumont provided him and navigates to the untraceable e-mail address Dumont set up to communicate with Superman anonymously. “It’s time to bring the Man of Steel down off his high horse!” Bart says coldly. Bart locates the message that Dumont authored earlier and presses “Send.” Bart reads on the screen: “Sending Message.” A few seconds later Bart reads: “Message Sent.” Bart replaces the Blackberry back onto his belt clip and lights up as he nervously stares out the glass windows of the hangar scanning the clear night sky for any sign of Superman.
Bart continues to scan the clear moonlit night sky for a few minutes more, checks the time, butts out the smoke, and decides Superman is most likely headed this way and he should head below. He quickly descends the stairs two at a time and runs into the Containment Room. He reaches the keypad inside the Containment Room under the lead arch and quickly punches another series of numbers into the pad and the blast door shifts slightly and begins to slowly lower. The door lumbers closed with a heavy thud and a loud echo through the Containment Room. Bart hits another series of numbers and there is another mechanical thud as the lights in the hangar above illuminate. Bart listens anxiously as the air-handlers disengage and slowly ramp down and stop. Now there is only dead silence in the room as Bart stands uneasily within the lead arch Dumont has provided to cloak Bart from Superman’s x-ray vision; Bart shakily takes a cigarette from the pack and manages to steady his hand long enough to light it. He stands nervously smoking the cigarette in the dark with one foot on the lead box waiting for Superman to arrive.
Superman, the Man of Steel, swoops down out of silent night sky and touches done lightly on the tarmac directly in front of a lone hangar next to a small airstrip in a remote area far north of the city on a cool and refreshing summer night in August. The caped figure stands facing the structure’s illuminated large metal and glass doors for several moments appraising the secluded location and the lone structure. Clark Kent had received a tip about a terrorist plot earlier that week from a tipster named Dumont. He had promised to contact Clark when the terror plot was corroborated and then Dumont would divulge the plot only to Superman. Less than a quarter hour ago Dumont had signaled that he needed to meet with Superman immediately at this remote location. As Superman takes in his surroundings, he extensively scans the area both inside and outside the hangar with his super senses and finds no one within miles; he takes one last look around and shrugs his shoulders and then walks to a door at the side of the hangar.
Superman, the Man of Steel, undisputed Male Titan of Earth, is nearly 30. The ripped, sculptured muscle hunk, still more man than man, stands 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 240 lbs. His spectacular body, his chiseled good looks, black hair with a distinctive split curl, bright blue eyes and clear voice, not to mention the aura and mystique of his super powers, make him a spectacular demi-god irresistible to both women and men. Superman wears a royal blue bodysuit with red trunks, a yellow leather belt, dark red leather boots, and a crimson red leather cape. A red and yellow “S” shield is emblazoned on Superman’s overly-developed chest. It’s a costume that only the Man of Steel can pull off and one that looks ridiculous on an impersonator. On Superman, the costume looks perfect and perfectly normal for a Super Powered icon of power and virtue.
Superman goes to the unlocked side door of the hangar and enters the structure, his cape billowing grandly behind him in the draft flowing through the large area. He strolls boldly to near center of hangar and stops and quickly takes stock of his surroundings. The structure is old yet in a good state of recent repair; the hangar measures roughly 100’ wide by 80’ deep and consists of three masonry walls that rise 50’ to a flat sloped open roof and two huge recently mechanized sliding hangar doors, windowed from midpoint to the top. The hangar floor is clean and completely empty with exception of a 2007 red Avalanche parked in the center of the hangar perpendicular to the back wall near a passage way through the concrete wall of the hangar; visible through the passage way is a stairwell and service elevator. Superman calls out, “Dumont!” He calls out again and receives no response. The hangar is empty.
Strange, thinks Superman as he walks to the passage way and observes the recessed keypad in the wall next to the passageway with a small LED display that reads: “Anteroom Accessible.” The passageway opens to a well-lit concrete shaft that houses an array of steel stairs that descend about 40 feet to a passageway leading to a sub-structure beneath the hangar floor. The shaft also houses a large service elevator; a sign indicates the elevator is out of service.
Superman peers down the array of stairs leading down the deep shaft for a moment then moves back out onto the hangar floor and scans beneath the hangar floor with his x-ray vision. His scan reveals a sub-structure deep beneath the hangar floor consisting of a shaft leading to an anteroom which in turn opens to a large storage area. A sealed power room perpendicular to the narrow sub-structure is accessible from the storage area. Nothing appears very sinister down there; the substructure is completely empty and there is not a soul around for miles. Superman walks to the truck and feels the hood. Odd, thinks Superman, it’s still warm; and there is the smell of a recently smoked cigarette in the air; and yet there is no one around here for miles. “Where is Dumont? This is the place he picked to meet,” thinks Superman out loud. He searches the vehicle but finds it completely empty and without any vehicle insurance or registration cards.
This is very odd thinks Superman as he inspects the machines shops, the small office and restrooms off the back of the hangar and finds them too completely empty. No tools, workbenches, or any type of office equipment; not even a piece of paper and certainly no drugs, guns, cash, or evidence of any sinister plot being hatched way out here. Superman returns to the passageway and cranes his head around looking down at the array of stairs that lead deep below. Superman turns and stares at the late model truck pondering the whereabouts of this mysterious Dumont and the purpose of this recently renovated completely empty structure out in the middle of nowhere. He takes one last look around the hangar, shrugs, and foolishly descends the stairs thinking he might as well have a look below as long as he’s here.