by Starsky Hutch 76
“Me am not thirsty,” the patient said.
“You said you are not thirsty; therefore, you are,” the android said, bringing the water bottle up to the patient’s white, craggy lips.
“You’re welcome,” the patient said.
The android nodded graciously, knowing the patient meant thank you.
“Why does the patient feel the need to drink?” the second android asked. “The life support machine our creator attached him to should avoid dehydration.”
“The patient likes to mimic normal life functions such as drinking, SR-13X4B,” the first android answered. “Much like he tried to mimic death when his head crashed through the GBS Building and landed in the news studio at our master’s feet. (*) Bizarros, while a life form, are not alive in the conventional sense. So, a simple beheading could not finish him off.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Phantom Zone: The Final Chapter,” DC Comics Presents #97 (September, 1986).]
“It would have been more merciful, though,” the second android said, “than to continue on in this sort of existence.”
“Me can’t hear you,” Bizarro No. 1 said irately.
“My apologies,” the first android said. “SR-13X4B is a newer model among the Superman robots. He meant no offense.”
“None taken,” Bizarro said.
“He said none taken,” the second android said. “Does that mean…?”
“He is offended.”
Two white, craggy fists suddenly exploded through the S-emblems on the chests of the two androids who outwardly looked like perfect twins of their master, Superman. They both slumped to the ground, and Bizarro No. 1 found himself staring in shock as another Bizarro-Superman stood in front of him.
“Why did you do that?” Bizarro No. 1 asked the newcomer irately. “SR-1A0001 took care of me. He am my worst enemy!”
“Me am so unhappy to find you!” the second Bizarro said jubilantly. Around his neck hung a sign that said Bizarro No. 1.2. Until recently, this Bizarro-Superman had been just one of many, but after coming into possession of an original sign owned by Bizarro No. 1, he had happily adopted it as his own and merely added a .2 next to the No. 1. “Bizarro-Cave Carson find all sorts of wreckage of old Bizarro World buried when planet put back together, like this gruesome sign. All new Bizarros think you dead. But some say you not dead and you come back someday to show us all how to be true Bizarros.” The Bizarro World, called Htrae, had indeed been restored some years previously, and a new generation of Bizarros soon came to settle upon the cube-shaped planet. (*)
“This am horrible moment for all Bizarros,” Bizarro No. 1.2 said, lifting the head of Bizarro No. 1 out of the support system. “Me take picture to capture moment for history with camera me find in Fortress.” He held Bizarro No. 1’s head up next to his and looked toward the device he held in the other hand.
“Camera… in Fortress?” Bizarro No. 1 said, his eyes moving from Bizarro No. 1.2, who was grinning like a loon, to the experimental Khundian anti-matter cannon pointed in their direction. “No, wait!”
The blast soared in their direction. It was followed by a burning smell. Bizarro No. 1’s head fell to the ground, followed by the headless body of Bizarro No. 1.2.
“Wow. Him smart, even for Bizarro,” Bizarro No. 1 said. His eyes looked up to the life support system, then to the wrecked Superman robots. “Hnnh. What me do now?”
Bizarro No. 1 didn’t have long to think about it before the silence was broken by a popping sound. The Bizarro imp, Kltpzyxm, appeared. “Wow, am ninety days up already? Time to do good deeds!”
The imp looked down at the ground and exclaimed, “Oh no! Him am broke! Someone knock his block off! Well, for first good deed, me put it back!”
With a wave of the bizarre imp’s hand, Bizarro No. 1 found himself standing once more, his head now on the body of Bizarro No. 1.2. He lifted the sign and used his finger to rub off the .2 before hanging it around his neck once more.
“Why you come to bother Bizarro again?” Bizarro asked.
“Well, that am gratitude for you,” Bizarro-Kltpzyxm said.
“Bizarro happy to have fate worse than death,” Bizarro said. “Now him sad to be whole once more.”
“But Bizarro imp hate helping Bizarro family!” the imp exclaimed.
“Help Bizarro family?” Bizarro said. “What did imp do?”
“Me make sure son of Bizarro safe and sound!” the Bizarro imp exclaimed.
“But me send him into core of Bizarro World so him first victim.”
“But him not!” the imp exclaimed. “Him survive! It turn out core safest place to be! Superman Revenge Squad find him and want to do experiments on him, so me make him human to keep them from finding him. Then me send him to Earth where he safe.” (*)
“Where… where am he now?” Bizarro No. 1 asked in a voice strangely husky with emotion for a Bizarro.
“Me show you!” Bizarro-Kltpzyxm said enthusiastically. He held up his hands, palms facing upward, and a globe appeared. Inside the globe, images appeared of a man and a woman talking in hushed tones.
“Why are we whispering?” the man asked.
“I don’t want him to hear us,” the woman said.
“He has super-hearing, Mary,” John Shakespeare said. “If he wants to hear us, he’ll hear us.”
“But he has to want to hear us,” she said. “Superman said that’s how it works. John, you have to talk the boy out of this.”
“You think I don’t want to?” ohn said, throwing up his hands in frustration. “He was already wanting to go out and use his powers before he… changed. Now?” he gave a frustrated laugh. “It’s a lot easier to tell a seven-year-old to hide his light under a bushel than an adolescent. And knowing that Superman started at the age he did…”
“I still can’t believe he just shot up overnight,” Mary said, resting her head in her hands. “It’s like our little boy was just taken from us.”
“It’s not his fault, Mary. Bizarro children age slower. So this was his real age. And whatever turned him human eventually made time catch up, and…”
There was a sudden crash from the other room, and John Shakespeare jumped up from his chair at the kitchen table and dashed through the door to the living room, Mary close on his heels. She let out a gasp as they both turned in the direction of the front door to the house and saw that it had been pulled off its hinges.
“What on Earth?!” Mary exclaimed.
“He must have overheard you,” John groaned, looking at the door that sat askew in the doorway. On closer inspection of the doorknob, he could see indentations of fingerprints where the upset boy had grabbed it to jerk the door open.
“I-I didn’t mean it like that!” Mary wailed. “I’d sooner hurt myself before I’d ever do anything to hurt him!”
“You and I both know that,” John said. “But even normal boys his age are one big bundle of new hormonal emotions they aren’t equipped to handle. Let alone a kid who’s suddenly jumped six years ahead!”
“What are we gonna do?” Mary said. “He could be anywhere! Literally anywhere!”
Kent Shakespeare wiped away tears with the back of his fist as he soared through the sky at super-speed, far from from the mountains of Oregon that had been his home these past few years. He had already reached the Eastern Seaboard before he began to slow down. It was so unfair. He didn’t ask for any of this. He was perfectly happy being a seven-year-old. Now he felt big, clumsy, stupid, and overly emotional. And, worst of all, his parents acted like they were afraid of him and didn’t want him around anymore.
Why should they be afraid? Even when he was small, he knew how to use his powers. Now that he was big, that should make him an even better Superboy. He had even gone out and gotten himself a costume, the one he wore now. They didn’t even want him to go to school with kids his own age. Before his change, they had at least seemed willing to talk about it. Now they wanted him to keep being home-schooled, hiding away in the mountains like some kind of freak.
Well, he was sick of it. He was sick of hiding. He was going to make his way in the world whether they liked it or not.
Several miles from Metropolis, Lois Lane’s knuckles were white with tension as she gripped the steering wheel of her car. She had been in so many life or death situations that she had come to take it for granted as an on-the-job hazard. She usually didn’t feel like she was responsible for putting someone else in the path of danger, though, and especially not someone so young.
Both the local police and the FBI were looking for the girl as well. The cynical voice inside her head said it was only because she was another potential star witness against her father, Anthony Lemonelli. Since a child couldn’t be forced to testify against her father, would they even be willing to look that hard when there were fellow mobsters, mistresses, and victims out there to make their case?
She knew she was being unfair. There were a ton of good cops out there. She knew many of them personally, and they would move Heaven and Earth to help a child in trouble. She couldn’t help it, though. She felt responsible, knowing the girl would never have taken off the way she did if Lois hadn’t exposed her father. Laurie was only one of many with whom she had spoken. The girl seemed to blame herself for everything that had happened, though, despite the mountain of evidence against him. She ran away, trying to keep from having to incriminate her own father. She could be anywhere, Lois realized. So she was bracing herself for a long, drawn-out search.
Lois let out a startled cry as she stared out at the road before her. There, on the wrong side of the railing on the overpass above the road on which she drove, stood Laurie. Apparently, the distraught girl had decided on a permanent solution to her problem.