by Doc Quantum
Alexander Luthor suddenly awoke in bed at his observatory home, beads of sweat trickling down his forehead. He looked around in a panic, searching for his wife, Lois. He was relieved to find her sleeping right next to him. But the dream had been so real. He sat there in confusion as he tried to figure out what was going on. Memories of death and some kind of white wall of energy quickly fleeted from his waking mind more quickly than he could remember them. That didn’t matter, though, since he knew that Lois was safe and sound. His beautiful wife was all that mattered, she and their son — their son!
Jumping out of bed, Luthor raced toward the room they kept their newborn son and his crib in. But as he reached the door and pushed it inward, he found to his horror that the little boy was gone. And not only that, but there was no evidence that he had ever been there at all. What was happening? Luthor fell to his knees and began to weep. Everything was wrong, so wrong.
Without waking his wife, Alexander Luthor went to his laboratory and began conducting tests upon tests in a futile effort to discover what had happened while he slept. He vaguely recalled making a futile attempt to save the entire planet through the use of an intangibility feature of his bio-suit at the last moment, but surely that was nothing but a dream. Setting aside his twelfth-level android project for now, Luthor determined that he would try to figure out whether what he had dreamt was indeed a dream or a reality. What he discovered after several hours shocked him to his utter core.
The universe had changed.
That much was true. It was still 1985, but the calendar date was no longer July but early December. And the world of Earth-Three, including all of its people and possibly other worlds as well, had somehow been transported or absorbed into a universe of antimatter. Normally, he would not have been able to tell the difference, since matter and antimatter were only relative to each other, but he had instruments that were attuned to the parallel worlds of Earth-One and Earth-Two, and it appeared that they were still intact, although divided from each other by a barrier of unknown origin. Earth-Three, however, now existed in a universe of antimatter and was now made of antimatter itself.
Could this have been part of his dream — the vision of a white wall of antimatter, and the face of Superwoman vanishing behind within it, utterly consumed by it? And then — oh, God — the vision of his own son. He and Lois had sent their only son away to safety on Earth-One.
He knew this was the truth, despite finding no reports of any kind on the news. Some kind of crisis had happened, which had caused Earth-Three to somehow be absorbed into this antimatter universe instead of obliterated by it. His son was gone, and yet somehow he knew that Alexander Luthor, Jr., was safe. Not only was he safe, but he knew that, somehow, Alex, Jr. was with… his mother?
Luthor shook his head and blamed the blurriness of his thoughts on lack of sleep. He was a man of science, and none of this could be proven. Still, he would worry about this supposed newborn son he dreamt of no longer. And soon enough, the memories of having had a newborn baby son would eventually vanish and become little more than an elaborate dream that was increasingly difficult to remember. Already, all evidence that Alexander Luthor, Jr., had existed in this world at all had disappeared. This was a mystery, one of several such anomalies that had been left over after the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
“My men found them, just lying there unconscious,” said the police commissioner of Metropolis, Tobias Whale. He was a big, bald man with very pale skin, but despite his unusual appearance had been the city’s most successful police commissioner. Alexander Luthor considered him a friend. “They’re being kept in a containment cell,” continued Commissioner Whale, “but it looks like they still haven’t woken up. Thought you might be able to help us with a better containment system until their trial dates come up, Alex.”
“I could do that,” said Luthor, stifling a yawn. It was early afternoon, and he hadn’t been able to get a wink of sleep since he awoke early that morning. “Let’s only hope the legal system doesn’t muck this one up again.”
For years, the Crime Syndicate of America had been safely imprisoned in a force-bubble in the nexus between dimensions referred to as Limbo. The properties of that dimension enabled the Crime Syndicate to survive without any need of food or water, since time seemed not to pass in any substantial way. Years spent in that dimension felt only like days or weeks at the most, and besides, the super-villains had each other for company the whole time.
However, the members of the Crime Syndicate had recently been freed thanks to the efforts of a particularly clever lawyer who had been working for years on their behalf. A criminal attorney in every sense of the word — Cockburn, Luthor thought his name was, or similar — had argued before the Supreme Court that such imprisonment constituted cruel and unusual punishment, and that the Syndicators had never had their day in court. Despite Alex Luthor’s protests, the attorney’s arguments convinced the court to free the Crime Syndicate from their extra-dimensional prison to await trial. Naturally, they had escaped conventional imprisonment in early July, shortly before the strange event that had caused the entire world to fall asleep and awake some five months later. The newspapers and history books would refer to this event as the Big Sleep.
The fact that the Crime Syndicate members had been found like this — all together and unconscious — was either a great deal of good luck or a setup. Luthor’s instincts told him, however, that whatever had caused him and his wife to send their only son away in a dimension-traveling rocket ship was likely the same thing that had left the Crime Syndicate in their present condition.
“Oh, well. As strange as this is, let’s not knock a gift horse in the mouth,” said Commissioner Whale, patting Luthor on the back.
Luthor began his mental calculations on the possibilities of restoring the villains to the prison made for them by the JLA of Earth-One, or even recreating it if necessary, and wasn’t happy at the prospect. A warning beep started to chirp, interrupting his thoughts.
Drat! he thought as a systems diagnostic readout told him what was wrong. It seemed as if whatever had caused the Big Sleep might also have damaged his bio-suit. The suit’s power reserves are at an all-time low. I knew this day was too good to be true.
Luthor began working quickly. He would try to ensure that these criminals were back in their custom-made prison, somehow or other, before they could awake. He wasn’t ready to deal with them just yet in his present condition. It would take a miracle to ensure that they didn’t awake until then. Thankfully, this was a day for miracles.