Saturday, January 05, 2008
Pitbull, Chapter 1
Manip by leothelion, used with permission of the artist.
Perry and full cast, from "Perry"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
"Scientists are calling today's impact one of the most significant astronomical events of the last century. The enormous solar flare has already caused power surges..."
Clark Kent stared at the TV, fascinated. He didn't hear the sound of the front door opening, or his mother's voice calling his name.
"Clark?" A deeper voice finally caught his attention. "Hey, son, you want to give us a hand here?"
Clark twisted his head around. "Oh," he said, getting to his feet. "Sorry, I must've got sucked in. You caught me right in the middle of this news special."
He took a bag from his mother's arms, then trailed his parents into the kitchen. He put the bag on the counter, and Martha started to put the groceries away, bustling around the room with her usual quick efficiency. Clark watched her, reflecting that he probably could have completed the chore in less than five seconds. But he tried not to make his parents feel bad by doing their work for them. He'd learned a long time ago that didn't make them happy.
"What was the topic of the special?" Jonathan asked.
"Solar flares," Clark answered, "and the effects on Earth's atmosphere. According to NASA the sun took a direct hit from a comet today, and that caused one of the biggest solar flares ever to be recorded."
Martha smiled. "You sound intrigued."
"Well..." Clark grinned back at her. "Honestly, it's kind of a relief to be researching a cosmic disaster that has nothing to do with me." He glanced over at the clock. "Oh, hey, I have to be going. I told Pete I'd meet him at the Talon to swap some notes."
He shrugged on his coat, then grabbed his old red backpack. His mom glanced at him over the grocery bags.
"Need a ride?"
Clark looked out at the bright sunshine, and grinned again.
"Nah. I think I'll run."
"...precipitates a huge explosion with powerful far-reached effects. The shock wave from this type of CME is so strong that it smashes the Earth's magnetic field, unleashing a geomagnetic storm. In layman's terms..."
Perry White stared blurrily at the television hanging over his head. He'd somehow found himself in a crappy little bar in the middle of freaking nowhere. He'd come to freaking nowhere on purpose, but the bar had been less deliberate. He'd been driving past when the idea of a drink had just grabbed him by the throat and refused to let go, like an itch he simply had to scratch.
The truth was, he'd scratched it a little too much. Hence the blurred vision. But despite his inebriated condition, he couldn't help but be fascinated by what the reporter on the television was saying. It was an interesting scientific story, a story with global implications. A real, serious story.
There had been a time when he reported on real, serious stories, too.
But that had been a long time ago, in the very distant past. A time when he didn't generally wind up in the middle of hick backwaters, drinking a liquid lunch.
He looked away from the TV and spoke to the bartender, his voice nearly as blurry as his vision was.
"Do you believe that there are powers greater than we can know, somewhere in the universe?"
"Sure," the bartender said. His voice had the condescending quality of speaking to a child, and Perry wasn't so drunk he didn't notice. The guy's tone grated on him. "Look, you mind if I switch back to the game?"
"Whatever," Perry said, shrugging. He didn't expect rednecks to be interested in science. It was a matter of training and background, and clearly the bartender didn't have any. Hell, he'd be surprised if the guy was smart enough to tie his own shoes.
The guy switched the station to a football game, and Perry grinned a deliberately irritating grin. "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for the Metropolis Sharks."
The bartender glared at him, and Perry lifted his shot glass to make a jeering toast. He raised his voice to make sure he could be heard. "To Littleville, Kansas... and all the little Kans-assians in it."
Not only was the bartender glaring at him now, but the guys on either side of him looked pissed, too. Bring it on, Perry thought, disregarding the fact that he was so drunk he had no chance of landing a punch in a fight. Hell, if he fell over he'd probably miss the floor.
But Perry "the Pitbull" White didn't back down from fights.
Well, yeah, he did. But there had been a time when he didn't.
Unfortunately, that time was in the distant past, too. He sighed, then sucked down his tequila and put the shot glass on the counter with a thunk. "One more."
"Look, pal..." The bartender was starting to sound exasperated. "We don't want any trouble here. I think you might have had enough."
Perry glared at him. "If you want trouble, buddy, you just try cutting me off."
The next thing he knew, he was sitting on his ass on the sidewalk outside the bar. A neon sign blinked over the door, garish even in the too-bright sunlight of a Littleville afternoon, proclaiming that this crappy little bar was called the Wild Coyote.
"Don't come back," the bartender said, and disappeared back into the bar.
Perry scowled at the swinging door, and slowly got to his feet. The world was spinning in a rather disconcerting manner, but he glared at the bar as dangerously as he could manage, just in case the bartender was still watching.
"Small town friendly, my ass," he grumbled.
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I'll find it."
Perry drove his rental car along a back road, a map in one hand and a cell phone in the other. Very vaguely, it occurred to him that having an object in either hand meant he didn't have a hand on the wheel, but he figured it didn't matter much. The roads in this part of Kansas were scarily straight, and there was no traffic, anyway.
Hell, even if he ran off the road, there was nothing to run into. There wasn't anything out here except empty fields bisected by narrow roads.
He decided he'd quit calling the place Littleville. Hicksville would fit it a lot better. Or Middleofnowheresville.
"No, no," he said to the cell phone, in response to his editor's increasingly worried queries. "I haven't been drinking. Thank you so much for caring."
He sighed as he closed the cell, then began folding the map. He decided it really didn't matter much if he watched the road. The car swerved a bit, but he wasn't too worried about it.
He got the map folded, then looked up to see a dark-haired kid in the middle of the road. Just standing there, gaping at him.
"Shit," Perry said, to no one in particular, and grabbed belatedly at the steering wheel. The car swerved sharply, barely missing the kid-- and thank God for that, because as many bad things as Perry had done in his life, running over a fresh-faced teenager would definitely be a new low-- and slammed into a telephone pole. Hard. The telephone pole slowly fell over, smashing the top of his car too.
Okay, so there was something out here besides fields, after all. And he'd managed to hit it.
Somehow Perry wasn't knocked unconscious by the collision, even though the front end of his car strongly resembled an accordion, and he doubted the top looked much better. He'd read somewhere that drunk people tended to survive accidents at a higher rate, because they were nice and relaxed. A very good reason to drink and drive, he figured. Drinking might have saved his life in this case.
The thought that he might not have had the accident at all had he been sober ran through his mind, but he shoved it away irritably. He was okay, and so was the kid, and that was all that mattered.
But even though he'd survived, he wasn't sure how he could get safely out of the car. He could see power lines sparking, and he knew if he got out, he was going to be barbecued.
The kid headed toward him, looking determined. Perry realized with horror that the kid was going to be the one who got barbecued. But to his astonishment, the boy walked right through the wires.
And then he yanked the door off the car and tossed it aside.
Perry gaped at him. The side of the car, he thought, could not possibly have been that damaged by hitting a telephone pole head-on. Yeah, maybe the telephone pole on top had bent the frame or something, but still, what the boy had done didn't seem possible.
The kid reached into the car and grabbed Perry, and the next thing he knew he was lying on the ground on the opposite side of the road, safely away from the power lines.
The kid bent over him, looking worried. "You okay?"
Perry stared at him. Dark-haired, handsome, tall. Nice-looking kid, but... "You pulled the door right off the car with your bare hands," Perry rasped out. "You walked right through the power lines."
The kid looked taken aback, just for a second, and then he shook his head and grinned. "You're a little drunk, Mr..."
He paused, apparently waiting for a name. Perry looked at him.
"My name is White," he said. "Perry White."
Read Chapter 2 here.