Monday, February 23, 2009

Land of Confusion, Chapter 9

Season 6, following my story "Wherever You Will Go"
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read Chapter 8 here.

Chloe had no trouble figuring out where Clark was. She could feel that he was no longer terrified, just wary, but given that spike of overwhelming terror, and given the fact that he was still in Metropolis in broad daylight, she was grimly determined to find him. Given their semi-telepathic connection, it was easy to locate him, even in an enormous city. She just concentrated on him, and instinctively knew which way to go.

Navigating through the city was more of a problem. Since few people used cars any more, many of the streets were at least partially blocked, with "box towns" housing the homeless, or with cars that had run out of gas, or with junk and trash that had been piled in the street. Chloe tried to keep the car moving, knowing that in a fancy car like this, she was as much a target as if she had a bullseye painted on her forehead. If she was stopped by a roadblock, she'd almost certainly be attacked.

Sure enough, she saw looks of envy and hatred on the too-thin faces she passed. She thought about ditching the car, but Metropolis was a big city, and the quickest way to Clark was behind the wheel of a car. So she stayed in the Lexus and used her knowledge of Metropolis to get around every obstacle she saw.

But eventually, she drove over a hill and found the road fully blocked, right in front of her.

She swore under her breath. There was no room to turn, so she threw the car into reverse. But in her rear-view mirror, she saw men beginning to fan out across the road behind her. Not Lex's muscled, well-fed soldiers. Just a group of ragged, hungry, desperate citizens of Metropolis, who'd spotted her car and figured she might have something else of value on her person.

She kept backing up, and gunned the engine in warning. But they didn't get out of her way. Two broke from the line and headed toward her, holding two by fours aloft. Their faces were distorted in animalistic snarls.

She gritted her teeth, and hit the gas hard.

The men behind her scrambled out of the way, barely in time, and she shot past them in reverse. A hard-flung plank hit the car's side with a thunk, but she didn't flinch, just kept speeding backward. Fortunately the road was fairly straight, because she wasn't much good at steering in reverse at this speed. She spun the wheel as the car entered an intersection, turned to the right, and hit the gas.

Her hands were shaking, so she clutched the wheel harder. That had been close. Too close.

She was beginning to understand why Clark had been so adamant about her not helping him in the city. The country was dangerous enough, but coming into Metropolis meant taking your life into your hands. The people here were desperate-eyed and empty-souled. They looked like they could rape and kill and mutilate... and enjoy it.

And she could understand their desperation. Hunger and fear and cold could drive men to terrible things. She glanced at the boxes lining the sidewalk, and tears rose to her eyes.

So much abject poverty, in what had once been one of the greatest and best-off cities in the world.

She thought about getting out of the car and walking the last few blocks, but decided against it. On foot, she might be less conspicuous, but she was still a woman alone. The car, on the other hand, was a deadly weapon. If she was threatened, she could take down her attacker if she had to.

She didn't want to run anyone over-- but the rules in Metropolis had clearly been stripped down to one simple law: Eat or be eaten.

She'd come too far to let herself be a victim.


Clark remembered Bart Allen as a cheerful kid who never shut up. He'd had a rough life, and had run away from home when he'd developed superspeed, but he'd still been basically happy and amiable, with a ready smile and a smart mouth that never quit with the jokes.

This wasn't the Bart Allen he remembered.

Bart sat curled on an old chair, staring into space, and he didn't even glance in their direction when they entered the room.

"Bart," Arrow said. "This is Clark Kent. He says he knows you."

There was no indication Bart even heard. He didn't glance in Clark's direction, only stared blankly into space, unblinking.

"Is he okay?" Clark said, frowning.

"Okay is a relative term nowadays," Arrow said. "He's alive. That's a check in the positive column, I suppose."

"But he doesn't...?"

"He doesn't talk much, no. See, your friend Lex--"

"I told you, he's not my friend."

"Whatever. Lex Luthor had him in what he called Level 33.1. He tested his abilities by putting Bart into an electrified cage. If Bart stopped, even for a second, he'd get fried. Lex tested him to see how fast he could run, how long he could keep going..."

Clark felt pain and sympathy for the kid grip his chest. Bart had once been so funny and full of life, and now... "God," he whispered, staring at the kid's still, huddled form.

"And at the end of every session, when Bart couldn't go any longer, he got the hell shocked out of him. It's no wonder he doesn't talk much. He's been through hell." Arrow spoke coldly. "That's why we're not just about justice, Alien. Bart's not the only one who's suffered at Lex's hands. All my people were confined and tortured in the name of science. These people have earned the right to a little vengeance, damn it."

Clark tuned out most of the diatribe. He was fully focused on Bart. "Does he ever move off that chair?"

"Sure. He does some work for me. Like I said, we call him Impulse. He's fast. Might even be faster than you."

"He's definitely faster than me," Clark admitted. He approached the chair and knelt, because he was a big guy, and people sometimes found that kind of intimidating. The last thing he wanted to do was scare the poor kid.

"Bart," he said, very softly. "Hey. Remember me?"


Ollie watched the "alien" speaking gently to Impulse, and frowned. He still wasn't convinced this guy was an alien. Yeah, he had some weird abilities, but then, so did everyone else in Ollie's group. He claimed to be an alien, but he looked and acted like a human.

A decent human.

It occurred to him, not for the first time, that given all his abilities, this guy would make a good addition to their team. But he shifted uncomfortably, because he wasn't really thrilled by the thought. He didn't know enough about the guy. Not yet.

He decided to watch the guy interact with Impulse, and see what he could learn.

"Remember the time we raced?" the guy was saying, still in that soft, gentle voice. "You promised you'd stick around if I could catch you. And then... and then you kicked my ass. Running backward."

Something flickered faintly across Bart's face, but he didn't turn.

"And all that food my mom fed you." The alien-- Clark-- laughed softly. "She said you ate every leftover in the fridge. Not that she minded. My mom always liked cooking."

Bart didn't move.

"Come on, Bart." Clark put his hand on Bart's arm. "Remember when we ran down to Miami together? That was a lot of fun..."

Slowly, Bart's head turned. Ollie held his breath, because Bart almost never acknowledged anyone. He did the jobs Ollie asked him to do... but he didn't talk. And he certainly never smiled.

But Bart stared at Clark for a long moment, and then his mouth curved in a slight but unmistakable smile.

"Well, what do you know," he said. "Jimmy Crack Corn, fresh from the farm."

Read Chapter 10 here.


Anonymous said...

YAY!!! I love this story and have been waiting for an update. I can't wait for more! Thank you for working on it some more.

DeeDee said...

First of all - an update! Squeeee!

Poor Bart, he's been dragged through hell & back. I'm glad Clark was able to get through to him.

And poor Chloe's day has gone steadily from bad to worse, hasn't it? I just want her to meet up with Clark again, so they can figure a way out of this mess! :(

Thanks for the update, Elly. Looking forward to more!


Anonymous said...

Update update WOOOOOOOOOO!!

This story is coming along very nicely, thanks! I can't wait to read more.


Anonymous said...

Bart's appearance has me SO EXCITED! Love this update.

Anonymous said...


So happy this is continuing.

This chapter was more or less fantastic. If anything more.

So basically this is awesome and I love you.

red-81 said...

Yay for Bart! I'm glad that Clark was able to get a reaction from Bart, poor Bart. And Chloe is tuff, even pregnant she is one bad cookie. I can't wait for a reunion between her and Clark. Maybe Bart seeing her will cause another reaction from him.


Rhonda said...

Where have I been that I missed an update for this? I really love this series and can't wait for the reunion between Clark and Chloe. Will Arrow ask Clark to join the team?

Anonymous said...

wow... i definitely love this story - my favourite of the series. Just fabulous.

Dinah's portrayal is wonderful - pointing out the obvious to Ollie. HEHE! poor Bart .

Amazing work, thanx for the update and i hope for more soon (coz you've got me hooked) :)

Anonymous said...

Would love to see an update to this story - it's fantastic!