Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Unto Eternity

Clark futurefic angst
1300 words
Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.

"That smells fabulous."

Clark Kent grinned over his shoulder as his wife patted him on the rear in passing. "Thanks," he answered. "It's Mom's recipe for chicken and dumplings."

"Oh, the kids love that stuff. Speaking of the little angels, where are they? Watching TV?"

Clark shook his head. "I turned it off and sent them out to get some exercise. That's the best thing about living in the country." He grinned evilly. "Chores."

Chloe Sullivan Kent laughed. She had a bright smile and brilliant hazel eyes, and her blonde hair fell to the middle of her back, so soft and smooth that he felt a compulsion to run his hands through it. "Yeah, I'm sure they appreciate the chores."

"They complain, but I think they really like living in the country," he said. They'd moved to the Kent farmhouse, where he'd grown up, after his mother died. He loved this house, where generations of Kents had lived, loved the cows and the horses, loved the flat, fruitful land. He loved the clean scent of the air, and the wide blue sky overhead.

He'd enjoyed living in Metropolis, but Smallville... Smallville was home.

With these thoughts in his mind, he turned back to the pot on the stove, but couldn't resist stealing another glance over his shoulder. Chloe was a beautiful woman. He'd fallen in love with her a very long time ago now, but his love had never wavered. After all these years, he still loved her.

He'd married her right after college. He still remembered standing with her in front of a church, while their friends and family looked on, smiling. Both of them had spoken the vows of the Kryptonian wedding ceremony, translated into English: I will love thee unto eternity.

He hadn't wanted to use the words of the human wedding ceremony, because he hadn't wanted to promise to love Chloe merely until death parted them, but forever. And he'd meant every word of his vows. He would love Chloe forever.

Death couldn't stop him from loving her.

Chloe grabbed some forks from a drawer and headed for the old pine table. "I guess I better call the k-k-k-kids," she said.

Clark frowned into the pot, trying to ignore the stutter. Chloe headed for the door, leaned her head out, and yelled. Seconds later four kids came swarming into the house.

"Is it t-t-t-time for dinner?"

"D-d-dad! What are you c-c-c-cooking?"

Damn it. Annoyed, he stirred the chicken and dumplings harder than was strictly necessary. It's getting worse.

His youngest, a three-year-old boy with dark hair and green eyes much like his own, flung himself at Clark's legs with enthusiasm. Clark braced himself for the impact, but the boy suddenly flickered... and disappeared. The other kids popped out of existence, and so did Chloe.

Clark sighed. He was no longer standing in the warm kitchen of the Kent farmhouse, the house in which he'd grown up, but in the enormous crystal and ice edifice that he called his Fortress of Solitude. A light dusting of snow swirled through the bitterly cold air that filled the still, dark structure.

Irritated, he raised his voice. "Kelex!"

Seconds later the bronze robot drifted into the room, floating toward him. "Yes, Master?"

"The holographic replicator isn't working again." Clark didn't bother to disguise his aggravation. He hated being alone. Of course, he was always alone, but he'd begun using the holograms a long time ago in a vain effort to ease his loneliness, and he found it hard to get through the long, empty days without them. "See what you can do to fix it, will you?"

"I will try, Master. But bear in mind that this technology is a thousand years old, and even Kryptonian technology does not last forever. It is simply... wearing out."

Clark sighed. That was the last thing he wanted to hear, although he recognized the truth of it. Machinery didn't last forever, not even the machinery of what had once been a highly advanced civilization. Nothing lasted forever... except, apparently, him.

"Try to fix it," he ordered tersely. "I'm going outside."

Seconds later he had launched himself into the charcoal gray sky and was flying away from the Fortress. The terrain around the Fortress still looked much as it always had-- a snowy, frozen wasteland. The difference was that the rest of the Earth now looked precisely the same way. A millennium ago, a nuclear war had begun, with so many missiles launched that even Superman couldn't stop them in time. He'd only been able to watch in horror as the world destroyed itself.

Every friend he'd ever known had been wiped out in a matter of minutes. Cities had been smashed, and the billions of people who depended on Superman, who trusted him to save them from disaster, had been killed.

He'd wanted to save them all, but the magnitude of the war was too great for one man to prevent, even a superman with alien powers. He'd managed to save his wife and kids, only to see them die of radiation poisoning days later, along with the pitifully small group of people who'd survived the initial missile strike.

In a matter of days, he'd found himself all alone on his adopted planet.

He flew over the land mass that had once been North America, as he did every day, even though he knew there was nothing to see but snow and ice. In the past thousand years, he'd flown over the frozen, desolate Earth endlessly, looking hopelessly for some sign of life. But there was nothing. No human life, no plant life, no animal life. Not even a cockroach.

Only him.

The atmosphere was entirely devoid of oxygen, but his Fortress of Solitude produced sufficient oxygen to keep him alive. But the Fortress of Solitude's systems were beginning to break down, and even he couldn't live forever without oxygen. Eventually the oxygen would run out, and then, at long last, he'd die.

And after a thousand empty years of solitude, he welcomed the prospect.

He reached the frozen ocean that bordered what had once been Florida and turned, flying back toward the Fortress. Hopefully Kelex had succeeded in fixing the holographic replicator, and he could return to his fantasies, to reenacting his memories of a happier time. Memories of people who needed saving. Memories of a building he'd once worked in, its top adorned with a slowly spinning golden globe. Memories of a green and beautiful Earth.

Memories of a wife and children he'd loved more than anything.

I will love thee unto eternity. He thought of Chloe, gone a thousand years, and tears filled his eyes. He knew he would never again see her true self, but he couldn't bear the thought of not seeing her face again.

But when he flew into the Fortress, Kelex sounded apologetic.

"I am sorry, Master. But the holographic replicator is no longer functional."

Clark wanted to yell, to hit the robot and knock it across the vast chamber, but he realized that was a foolish impulse. It wasn't the robot's fault the Fortress' systems were slowly dying. Sighing, he turned away and returned to the vast door, staring out through the crystal at the empty, barren landscape-- a landscape that now extended across the entire globe.

Stark, agonizing loneliness settled onto him. There was nothing to distract him now, nothing to help him forget everything he'd lost and remember everything he'd loved. He was alone in a fortress of ice, alone on a planet of ice, with no purpose to his existence. No one to save, no one to talk to... no one to love. Only him. A man who'd outlived everyone and everything.

He thought with black humor that there had been a time, a thousand years ago, when he'd called himself the Last Son of Krypton.

But now he was the Last Son of Earth.

-The End-

6 comments:

SelfAppointedCritic said...

Oh my God Elly, this was so tragic. The Last Son of Earth? Utterly heartbreaking. Only you could write such a tale with such poignancy. Thank goodness the oxygen will eventually run out in the FOS to end his suffering.

Anonymous said...

Elly....wow...I really am at a loss for words on this one. You had me going when I heard the first stutter...I thought it was a side effect of some tragedy...but...The Last Son of Earth...wow..that's a tragedy in itself.

I tip my hat to you in honor. How do you do it?? Every story of yours is new and fresh and wonderful. Where do the ideas come from? I really think you should get some sort of award for stories. You even had a story named "Crimson" before Smallville released the name of that episode! :)...well done!

Thanks for your stories

meg

Anonymous said...

Oh wow , not even the show has got me crying as much as I was reading that .Just breathtaking I can't get enough of your stories .

hrhsalla

Zelly said...

This is one of your best pieces IMO. This was also the first fic of yours I read, it got me addicted to your style of writing. Very sad and powerful.

Zelly, k-site

SelfAppointedCritic said...

Had to tune in once again and offer you another compliment for this poignant story. Its one of my all-time favorites; so good I made my husband read it too and even he was thoroughly impressed--which says a lot, trust me. Everytime I read it (and yes, I spend a great deal of time re-reading your wonderful stories), I just can't believe the level of emotion it evokes in me. You're amazing Elly.

blackheart_me said...

Oh man Elly this broke my heart :(. This was so sad. I really love how you started it. Clark being a family man and demonstrating his eternal love for a wife and kids that are now gone. I love how you describe the future, the technology that dies and the world that destroys itself. It's so sad to see him so alone, yet also so perfect. If that makes me sounds sadistic I apologize :P
Magnificent fic Elly :)