Smallville: Infinite Possibilities


Episode One: Scarecrow








The two-story, blindingly bright yellow house looked as if it had been torn out of a magazine.  Set back from Hickory Lane and framed by tall colorful trees and neatly trimmed bushes, the place had a wide wraparound porch complete with porch swing, white shutters and trim around the windows, and a welcome mat at the door.

“Home, sweet home,” Clark Kent muttered, sitting on the tailgate of his blue Dodge pickup watching the workers unpack the moving truck.  The Kent family belongings – or rather, half of them, because their former home in Noblesville had been much bigger – were carted to the appropriate rooms in the house and unpacked at his mom’s direction.  His dad was out at the newly built greenhouse, moving his “babies” personally into their new residence.

Clark dragged his hand through his shaggy, dark hair and then dragged himself off the back of the pickup.  He supposed he should organize his loft-cum-bedroom in the old horse barn behind the house.  With his dad having bought the local creamed corn factory, Smallville was now home, whether he liked it or not.

“It’s always been home,” Jonathan Kent had said as he broached the subject of the move.  “The Kents have lived in Smallville since 1871, when Nathaniel Kent first purchased land in Lowell County.  Why do you think I never sold the farmstead?  It’s been waiting for us to return to where we belong.”

“Yeah, Dad, Smallville is the idyllic Kansas community, got it.”  Clark rolled his eyes at the mental reminder from Jonathan and jogged into the barn.  It was spotless inside, a team of cleaners having come through prior to the move.  Horses may have once been stabled inside, but the only evidence was a single horseshoe hung on a crossbeam for luck.

Up in the loft, a hammock stretched between two posts as his bed.  An indoor-outdoor couch big enough to fit his long frame sat across from it.  A desk, a chest of drawers, and a single bookshelf made up the rest of his furniture.  Labeled boxes were stacked on the colorful throw rug spread over the wood floor, waiting to be unpacked. 

The sun streamed through the open hayloft window – the best part of Clark’s new room.  As an alien, Clark’s body temperature was higher than humans’ and he loved open windows in the wintertime.  It was fall now, and a gentle breeze wafted through the loft, bringing with it the fresh scents of Kansas with a hint of bovine for flavor.

Clark sidestepped the boxes and went over to his desk.  A DSL line had already been run to the barn and Clark wasted no time in setting up his computer.  His cell phone was plugged into its recharger in its familiar spot on the desk.  He placed his portable radio above the computer on the desk’s shelf, plugged it in, and hit play.  A guitar wail filled the air and Clark let his dork-side show by strumming an air guitar with a little head-banging thrown in.

Grinning, Clark unpacked at blurred speeds, keeping an eye out for visitors to the barn.  He didn’t have a lot to put away.  Being rich had made his parents even more frugal and Clark had to earn allowance to purchase anything other than clothes and school supplies.  The cell phone was a “gifted necessity” to stop driving his parents crazy with the phone calls received.  The computer, his Internet line, and his truck all had been bought using his own money.

Once everything was put away and the boxes flattened for storage, Clark fell into the hammock and, with one arm behind his head, stared up at the support beams and pitched roof.  Tomorrow would be his first day of school.  At seventeen, he was likely to be the oldest sophomore, and with starting a month into the term as well as being the son of Jonathan and Martha Kent of KentCorp, he was sure to have a terrific day. 

He couldn’t wait.  Ha!

“Clark, come give me a hand, son!”  Clark heard Jonathan’s bellow from outside, his alien hearing picking it up under the music.

Clark got up, shut off the radio, and headed out of the barn.  Jonathan was crouched in the bed of his red Chevy pickup, feeling the soil around a potted apple tree.  The tall, blond man had a consternated look on his face.

“What’s up, Dad?” Clark said.

“Carry this into the greenhouse for me, will you?”  Jonathan hopped out of the truck and wiped his hands on his always dirt-soiled jeans.  “I want to get it into the ground right away.”

“Sure.”  After a quick look around, Clark reached over the side of the pickup and lifted the pot from the bed.  He carried the heavy weight easily, following Jonathan into the greenhouse.

The greenhouse was an enormous tempered glass structure that held the pride and joy of Jonathan and Martha’s life work: a hybrid strain of clover that, when mixed with ordinary cow dung, created the best organic fertilizer in the Midwest.

The greenhouse was temperature controlled, with automated sprinklers and shades in the windows.  Rows upon rows of carefully marked and staked clover lined the tables in soil trays, pots, or were planted directly into the ground.  There was more than clover planted, as his parents were experimenting with other varieties of flora to improve on their already remarkable fertilizer.  An annex was built right on the greenhouse and held a full laboratory, with stainless steel tables, high-powered microscopes, and shelves and cabinets packed with more chemicals and equipment than a University classroom.

Jonathan and Martha spent most of their time in the greenhouse.  Martha did take on the business end of KentCorp and relished in it but, as she put it, she loved puttering in the garden the best.  The majority of the household chores were Clark’s allowance-earning responsibility, as well as taking care of the dozen cows they owned.  Hired hands took care of the rest of the farm and they parceled out the fields to local farmers to rent.

Clark put the fruit tree where Jonathan said and assisted him in planting it in the ground.  “Anxious about school tomorrow?” Jonathan asked, as he packed fertilized soil around the tree.

“Kind of,” Clark replied with a half-shrug.  “I don’t like that it’s October already.”

“We wanted to move before the school year started, but the Rosses took a long time in accepting our offer, even though they knew me,” Jonathan said.

“I know.”  Clark picked one of the small golden apples hanging from a branch.  “I’m just worried there won’t be a spot for me on the school paper.”  He took a bite of the apple.  Flavor exploded on his tongue and he slurped the juices.

“I’m sure once the editor reads your writing, a place will be made for you,” Jonathan reassured with a clap on Clark’s shoulder that left a dirty palm print.

“Maybe.”  Clark took another bite of the apple and then gestured around.  “Nee’ any mow ‘elp?”

“You had to ask?”  Jonathan smiled jokingly.  “Why don’t you start unwrapping the beds in row one?”


“No, I’m not an alien, just the new kid.”  Clark stared in the bathroom mirror, checking for tentacles or horns, like he did every morning.  Thankfully, he only saw six-foot three-inches of preternaturally tan, gay farmboy, with overly large hands and feet, messy black hair, green eyes, and fat lips.

Clark dressed in well-worn jeans and a tight red tee-shirt that fitted to his muscled form.  He knew he was attractive and wore comfortable clothing that still showed off his body.  It helped him deduce who might play for his team, since he wasn’t out yet.

Satisfied with is appearance, Clark left the tiny bathroom that had been installed in the barn, put on his shoes, grabbed his backpack and a faded jean jacket, and headed for the house.

“Morning,” he greeted, dropping his bag and jacket inside the door.  He went directly to the refrigerator.

“Good morning,” Martha said, looking up from the newspaper, a cup of coffee held between her hands.  Sitting at the kitchen table, she was dressed nicer than usual in tailored trousers and a navy blouse that set off her deep red hair.  “How did you sleep?”

“Great.  It was nice and cool.”  Clark tilted the glass bottle of milk to his mouth and gulped half of it down.

“Clark, don’t drink from the bottle,” Martha chided.  “Where were you raised?”

“A barn,” Clark teased, wiping his lips with the back of his hand.  He set the bottle on the kitchen counter and rooted around the cabinets for the breakfast bars.  “What are you doing all dressed up?”

“I’m going out to the plant to meet with Gabe Sullivan this morning,” Martha said.  “The production transition needs to begin immediately.  Hopefully, most of the employees will want to stay on.”

“I don’t see why they wouldn’t,” Clark said.  “There’s no difference between crap and creamed corn.”

“Clark!”

Clark grinned innocently, as Jonathan came in the back door.  “Morning family,” Jonathan said, going for the milk on the counter.  He drank it directly from the bottle and Clark snickered at his mom’s exasperated look.

The house may look different on the inside, but the people in it were still the same.

“I’m going to school,” Clark announced unnecessarily.  He stuck the breakfast bar in his backpack, put on his jacket, and hoisted the bag over his shoulder.

“Are you running or taking the truck?” Martha asked.

“Running,” Clark said.  “I want to scope out the parking situation before I drive.”

“Be careful,” Jonathan warned.  “You don’t know the layout of Smallville like you did Noblesville.”

“I promise not to fall into any caves,” Clark said on his way out the door.

At the end of the driveway, Clark looked left and right before crossing Hickory Lane.  A cornfield grew tall on the property across the road.  He stepped between the stalks, drew up his mental map of Smallville, and shot off running in the direction of school.

Running, to Clark, was the biggest high.  The world blurred around him like a photograph of movement.  If he focused, he could see birds hovering frozen in mid-flight, as he zipped past.  The stalks of corn and wheat felt like feathers brushing against his impervious skin as he cut a swath through the fields.  He leapt fences and farm animals alike, thumping on the roof of a school bus driving down the road like leapfrog, unseen by human eyes at the speed he ran.  He was at the school before he knew it and slowed to a walk before emerging from a cornfield across the street.

Smallville wasn’t exactly small, but it was an isolated community surrounded by Kansas’s countryside.  Strangers stood out like sore thumbs and the gossip tree worked overtime in providing information on new residents.  Clark heard his name mentioned by the students he passed, even though he hadn’t introduced himself.  He entered Smallville High School with his shoulders back and a confident swagger, but smiled at those who smiled first.

The front office was busy as Clark stepped inside and he waited patiently for his turn.  A no-nonsense looking woman frowned at him from behind the high counter.  “May I help you?”

“Hi, I’m Clark Kent.  I have transfer papers for you.”  Clark unzipped his backpack and handed her the manila envelope from within it.

“Mr. Kent, yes.  We’ve been expecting your arrival,” she said, efficiently slitting the envelope, glancing at its contents, and then pulling a class schedule out of nowhere.  She handed it to him.  “Textbooks will be provided by your teachers.  Your first class is down the hall, second left, on the right.  Your locker is number one-four-two, first hall on the left.  You must provide your own combination lock.  If you have any questions, this office is always open.  Welcome to Smallville High, Mr. Kent.  Next!”

Clark was really glad he had a photographic memory, as he was jostled out of the way.  He left the front office and made his way through the crowd of students to his locker.  Depositing his jacket and backpack, he closed the locker with the lock he had, in fact, brought.  Armed with his schedule, a notebook, pen, and his breakfast bar, he found his first period class and took a seat as the bell rang.

The teacher, a balding middle-aged man named Mr. Price, came into the room and closed the door behind him.  He started what would be echoed throughout the rest of Clark’s day.  “Good morning, everyone.  I see that we have a new student.  Clark Kent, isn’t it?”

“Yes, sir,” Clark said politely, though his slouched posture indicated he was no suck up.  Appearance was everything.

“Very good.  Welcome.  Share with Lana today and see me after class for your own text,” Mr. Price said.

Clark glanced around, wondering which of the students was Lana.  The pink-clad, dark-haired girl on his left, with a pretty smile but oddly slanted eyes, scooted her desk beside his and straddled her history textbook between them.

“Hi, I’m Lana Lang,” Lana said quietly, as Mr. Price’s lesson got underway.  “Welcome to Smallville High.”

“Thanks,” Clark said, and paid attention to the teacher.

Lana didn’t pester Clark with questions or small talk during class, which he appreciated.  He gave her a large smile when the bell rang, signaling the end of the period.  “Thank you,” he said, indicating the book.

“You’re quite welcome,” Lana said, with a wide smile.  She returned her desk to its place and gathered her belongings.  “What class do you have next?”

Clark dug his schedule from his pocket and unfolded it.  “English with Mr. Hanson.”

“So do I,” Lana said.  “I’ll walk with you, if you’d like.”

“Sure.  Just let me get my book from Mr. Price.”

Lana, Clark learned, was as sweet as she sounded, but somewhat self-absorbed.  Clark made a silent joke about cheerleaders, of which she was one.  She was also genuinely nice.  It turned out she lived next door to him with her Aunt Nell Potter.

“I’d invite you over to study, but if I’m not at practice or a game, I’m working at the Talon,” Lana said.  “That’s the local coffee shop downtown.  My Aunt Nell owns it and the flower shop next door.”

“Sounds like you’re a busy person,” Clark said.

“I am.”  Lana moved out the way of the classroom door at the end of second period.  “I barely have time for Whitney.”

“Whitney?”

“Whitney Fordman.  My boyfriend.”  Lana sounded girlishly proud of that fact.  “He’s the quarterback on the football team.  I’ll introduce you later.  Do you play?”

“I’m not into sports,” Clark replied.  He’d long ago come to terms with not being allowed to play and why, and even understood it.  “I wouldn’t mind joining the school newspaper, though.”

“You’ll want to talk to Chloe Sullivan, then,” Lana said.  “You can find her in the Torch office during lunch.  It’s on the first floor near the gym.  You can’t miss it.”

“Thanks, Lana.”

“There’s Whitney.”  Lana waved her fingers at someone down the crowded hall, but Clark couldn’t tell who was the boyfriend.  “Can you find your next class on your own?”

“I’ll manage,” Clark said.

“I’ll see you in P.E. this afternoon, then.”  Lana touched his arm briefly and, with a whirl, fluttered down the hall like a pink butterfly.

Clark waited to see on which jock she alit and salivated appreciatively at the buff blond she kissed on the cheek.  The clean-cut quarterback was looking back at Clark with a warning in his eye, and Clark smirked.  “It’s not your girlfriend I’m hot for,” he said to himself, before swaggering off to find his Advanced Calculus class.


Lunch arrived finally and Clark chowed down his uneaten breakfast bar as he sought the Torch office.  It was, as Lana has said, near the gym, and the door was wide open.  Clark scrubbed the crumbs from his mouth and tossed his trash before venturing inside.

“Um, hello?” Clark addressed the two people bent head-to-head in front of one of the four computers in the room.  “I was told to talk with Chloe Sullivan about possibly joining the paper.”

“Then you’re in the right place.”  The perky-looking blonde bounced out of her seat, knocking the African American guy out of the way, and extended her hand.  “I’m Chloe.  And this—” she waved her other hand around, “—is the esteemed school newspaper, The Torch.

“’Esteemed’ because Principal Kwan is always steaming over your articles,” the boy said with a teasing grin, coming closer.  “I’m Pete Ross.”

“Clark Kent,” Clark said as he shook Chloe’s hand.  The two of them reminded him of salt and pepper shakers, and both barely came up to his chin.

“Kent as in KentCorp Kent?” Chloe held onto Clark’s hand, a spark in her eye.  “The Kents that just bought Pete’s Uncles’ creamed corn factory?”

“Guilty.”  Clark delicately extracted his hand from her firm grip.  He wouldn’t have been able to if he were merely human.

“So—”  A notepad and pen appeared from thin air and Chloe was poised to take notes.  “—what brings KentCorp to Smallville?  Do you plan on downsizing?   The creamed corn factory is the largest employer in this county and employees would be hard-pressed to find other jobs should the plant close.”

“Chloe, leave the poor boy alone,” Pete said.

“The Kents are worth approximately five-hundred million dollars.”

“Then, leave the rich boy alone.”  Pete shook his head and gave Clark a sympathetic look.  “You’ll have to excuse her, she was born pushy and impolite.”

Clark chuckled as Chloe whapped Pete with her notepad.  “I don’t mind.  Tell you what, I’ll give you an exclusive if you give me a chance as a reporter.”

“Deal,” Chloe said immediately.  “Let me introduce you to the staff.  I’m Chloe, Editor-In-Chief and Chief reporter.  Pete writes the sporting news.  Justin Gaines, our Editorial writer, is not in school at the moment, but he should be back next semester.  And now, you.”

Clark’s brows lifted.  “That’s it?”

“Yep.”  Chloe smiled wryly.  “No one wants to take orders from a sophomore.  Those that didn’t graduate defected to the Literary Journal.”

“Well, I don’t mind taking your orders.”  Clark knew he sounded suggestive and by the way Chloe’s cheeks flushed, she thought so, too.

Pete didn’t, though, which was too bad, because he was cute in a bulldog sort of way.  “What year are you in?” Pete asked.

“Sophomore,” Clark replied.

“Got your schedule?”  Clark handed it over to Pete.  “Cool.  We have Computers and P.E. together after lunch.  Chloe’s in Computers with us.”

“What’s Computers?  I couldn’t figure it out, other than maybe it’s a basic word processing class,” Clark said.

“It’s a glorified study hall.”  Pete handed back the schedule.  “Teachers prefer reports and stuff typed up.  Computers gives everyone time and an opportunity to do it.”

“Got it.”  Clark glanced around the Torch office, with its filing cabinets, layout board, and computer terminals grouped in the center of the room.  The walls held awards and framed articles from past issues.  A doorway with a red light above it led to the dark room.  “So, um, what’s my first assignment?”

“Ambitious.  I like that,” Chloe said.  She kicked out a chair and settled herself into another.  “We’ll start with an interview.”


Clark was actually walking home after school, instead of running.  He wanted time to process his first day at Smallville High.  He wore his jacket for appearance sake, with his bag over his shoulder, his worn sneakers kicking up dust in the gravel along side the road.  It was a nice October day, blue sky and crisp air, and Clark tilted his face up to the sun as he walked.

His first day hadn’t been as bad as he thought it would be.  He was stared at like he had, as feared, grown a horn, but people were still friendly and several girls flirted with him.  Sadly, there were no flirtatious boys.

His classes were also okay, his teachers descent, and he wasn’t too far behind.  He had a spot on the newspaper after a superficial interview – he knew what his parents did for a living, but not the details Chloe had wanted – and made fast friends with Chloe and Pete.  Especially with Chloe, because she was the type of quick-tongued, no-nonsense women he admired and would go for if he liked breasts.

Clark was knocked out of his thoughts by a semi-truck honking its horn.  He raised his hand in acknowledgement of the courtesy alert as the truck drove past him.

Wind buffeted Clark as the truck rolled by.  He noticed a loose strap flapping behind the load on the truck bed.  He didn’t give it any thought until he came around a bend in the road and saw a roll of bailing wire lying in the middle of a bridge.

Clark glanced around and then zipped over to the hazard.  He was glad no one had sped around the corner in their car and wiped out when they hit the bailing wire.  Quickly, Clark carried the roll to the side of the road, at the edge of Loeb Bridge.

Clark spotted someone down by the river that ran under the bridge.  Dressed in a pair of mud-streaked overalls, the man stood barefoot on the rocky river’s edge.  He wore no shirt or coat and his pale skin was filthy.  What stood out, though, was a tuft of hair on an otherwise completely bald head.

Clark set down the bailing wire carefully so as not to catch the man’s attention.  He watched as the man walked surefooted on the rocks without wincing, going under the bridge.  Curious, Clark waited, and when he didn’t re-emerge, walked over to the other side of the road.

The river flowed out from beneath the bridge, but the man was not there.  Clark waited again and after five minutes, grew concerned.  He checked the other side once more and when he didn’t see anyone, made his way down the rocky incline.

There was no one under the bridge.

Clark stared in confusion.  He hadn’t heard a splash and he could see the bottom of the river, so it wasn’t that deep.  There were no big rocks or pillars to hide behind.  A drainage pipe about two-feet wide emerged from one side of the concrete, but no one was ducked behind it.

Scratching his chin, Clark wondered if he’d imagined the man.  Maybe he was having hunger hallucinations.

Clark stood there just in case for another ten minutes before giving up and going home.


“Dude, where were you yesterday after school?” Pete asked Clark at lunch the next day.  He was the only one in the Torch office, seated in front of a computer when Clark entered the room.  “Chloe tried calling you like six times.”

“Seven,” Chloe corrected, emerging from the dark room.  She gave him a sour look.  “I thought you said you had a cell phone.”

“I do,” Clark said, holding up his hands in surrender.  “But I don’t bring it to school and I walked home yesterday.  Then, I guess I was too occupied by the guy under the bridge to turn my cell phone on.  Sorry.”

“Guy under the bridge?” Pete questioned.

“Yeah.  It was weird.”  Clark took a seat.  “Some nearly bald guy was down at the river by Loeb Bridge, but he disappeared into thin air.”

“Nearly bald?” Chloe said.  “Did he have just a little patch of hair up top?”

“Yeah, he did.”  Clark was surprised.

Chloe and Pete exchanged glances.  “You saw the Luthor ghost,” she said.

“A ghost?” Clark said skeptically.

“Yep.”  Pete leaned forward on his chair and lowered his voice to appropriate story-telling level.  “Your family isn’t the first to be interested in the Ross factory.  Lionel Luthor tried to buy it once.”

“Who?”

“Lionel Luthor, CEO of LuthorCorp International,” Chloe chimed in.  She settled herself in front of another computer terminal.  “It used to be a huge company in the biochemical business before the Luthors all died.”

Clark was intrigued.  “How did they die?”

“Lillian Luthor died in 1993 of natural causes and her second child, Julian, died of SIDS the year before,” Chloe said.  “But it’s Lex Luthor that you’re interested in.”

“Lionel Luthor and his son, Lex, were in town the day of the great meteor strike,” Pete picked up the thread.  “They were with my Uncles by the factory when it hit.  Lionel was about to go into the neighboring cornfield after Lex had wandered off when the meteors—”

“Meteorites,” Chloe corrected.

“—crashed in Smallville.  One hit close to where my Uncles and Lionel were, and the shock wave flipped their truck and it flattened Lionel.”  Pete’s eyes glowed with the morbid enthusiasm and he demonstrated with a fist hitting his open palm.  “Splat!”

Horrified, Clark stared at Pete.  “What happened to Lex?  And your Uncles?”

“My Uncles were fine, just knocked down.  But Lex vanished completely,” Pete said.  “The cornfield he’d gone into was razed as far as my Uncles could see.  It was nuts that day and it took a long time for them to get help, but Lex’s body was never found.”

“People say they see Lex, though.  Or at least, his ghost, here in Smallville.”  Chloe rotated her monitor so Clark could see the webpage she’d pulled up.

Clark looked at the picture of a young boy with bright red hair, sharp blue eyes, and a smattering of freckles.  Nine-year-old Alexander “Lex” Luthor casualty of Smallville Meteor Shower, the caption read.

“But the person I saw was a man, not a nine-year-old,” Clark said.  “Ghosts don’t age.”

“And people don’t conduct electricity like lightning,” Chloe said, “but that’s what Jeremy Creek is alleged to have done to Frank Kramer.”

Clark’s mind slipped a track at the abrupt subject change.  “What are you talking about?”

“That’s why I was calling you yesterday,” Chloe said.  She moved the monitor to face her again and began clicking links.  “I was listening to the police scanner—”

“Isn’t that illegal?” Clark said.

“Not if you’re Chloe,” Pete replied.

“Anyway.”  Chloe glared at the two of them and continued.  “I heard that Frank Kramer was taken to the Smallville Medical Center with severe electrical burns.  This is not the first or the second time this week someone’s been badly electrocuted.”

“That does sound suspicious,” Clark acknowledged.

“I know.  So I went to the hospital by myself—” another glare at Clark, “—and did some poking around.  The first guy electrocuted, John Bazman, was awake and I was able to talk with him.”

“She snuck in and annoyed him until he broke,” Pete clarified.

Chloe ignored him and went on.  “Bazman said that even though it sounded crazy, he was electrocuted by a person, not an outlet or anything.  And that person was Jeremy Creek.”

“Which, as we discovered, might not be as crazy as Bazman believed.”  Pete tapped his own monitor.  “Jeremy Creek disappeared from the State infirmary a few days ago where he’d been in a coma for twelve years.”

“So you’re saying he just woke up, came to Smallville, and is electrocuting random people?” Clark’s skepticism returned, though it was tempered with a reporter’s curiosity.

“Not random, former jocks,” Chloe said.  “The three that were electrocuted all went to high school with Jeremy.”

“So?”

“So Jeremy was the scarecrow twelve years ago,” Pete said ominously.

Clark’s brows furrowed.  “The what?”

“A barbaric Crows tradition, whereby the jocks pick some hapless kid every year at Homecoming, strip him down, and hang him up in a cornfield like a scarecrow,” Chloe said flatly.

Chloe was right, that did sound barbaric.  “I still don’t get what it has to do with Jeremy,” Clark said.

Pete and Chloe paused and looked at each other.  “Should we show him?” Pete said.  Chloe nodded.

“Show me what?”

“Follow me.”  Chloe stood and headed for the dark room.  Clark followed as instructed and glanced sidelong at Pete, who stepped up beside him.  Chloe stood in front of a projector screen.

“Clark Kent, let me introduce you to the Wall of Weird.”  With a flourish, Chloe retracted the screen.

Like a giant bulletin board, the wall was covered in tacked newspaper clippings and photographs overlapping one another.  Headlines such as “Area Man Gains Finger on Left Hand – Loses One on Right” and “River Dredging Reveals Bizarre, Glow-in-the-Dark Geodes” stood out at Clark.  The photographs were like those found in the tabloids: pictures of a teenager walking on water, a dog with glasses on his nose reading the newspaper, a carrot as tall and wide as a man.  Clark saw a snapshot of the Lex Luthor ghost as a young teen, looking more like a dirty, waifish version of the nine-year-old Chloe had shown him, only with the single tuft of hair that matched the man he’d seen.

“What is this?” Clark said, amazed and disgusted all at once.

“It’s every strange, bizarre, and unexplained event that’s happened in Smallville since the meteorite shower,” Chloe said.  She tapped one of the newspaper clippings.  “’Comatose Boy Found In Field Twenty Yards from Meteor Strike.’  Guess who the boy was?”

“Jeremy Creek,” Pete answered unnecessarily.

A Time magazine cover caught Clark’s eye.  Heartbreak in the Heartland, it read over a picture of a pink-clad, crying little girl.  Beneath it read, “Four year old witness parents’ tragic death.”  Penned on the bottom was a name – Lana Lang.

Clark felt a ball of dread form in his stomach, which intensified when he read the date of the meteorite shower.  “How many people died that day?”

“Sixty-four,” Chloe replied.  “It was the highest death toll this town had every seen, even worse than the 1977 tornado – although more people were injured from the tornado.”

Clark set his jaw and forced himself to memorize every article and photograph with a sweep of his eyes.  Anger added to the deep horror raging inside him.  The day of the meteorite strike was the same day he’d crash-landed in Smallville, the day the Kents had chosen for his birthday.

“So, what do you think?” Chloe pressed with a note of hopeful pride in her voice.

“Impressive,” Clark lied, tucking his feelings away for now.  “I’ll suspend my disbelief about Jeremy being lightning boy and investigate him.”

Chloe’s beaming smile shined a little light on his dark mood.  “Finally, someone who understands that anything is worthy of investigation, even the improbable, in search of the truth.”

Pete groaned.  “Now you’ve done it.  She’ll have you chasing after three-headed chickens before the day is out.”

Clark forced his lips into a grin of camaraderie, counting the minutes until the end of the school day.


“Lana, hey,” Clark greeted, subdued, running into her on the front steps of the school.  The last bell had rung, releasing students for the day.

“Hi, Clark.”  Lana smiled friendly, which served to twist Clark’s gut into a knot.  “How was your second day?”

“Informative.”  Clark guided her out of the path of exiting students, stopping by the bike racks.  He studied her, taking in her soft, engaging openness and wondering why she wasn’t bitter.  “I found out why you live with your Aunt.  I’m sorry.”

A shadow passed across her features before smoothing away.  “It happened a long time ago Clark.  But thank you for your sympathy.  It’s sweet.”


Clark rubbed the back of his neck, feeling like a jerk for dredging up memories of death for her.  “Yeah, um, sorry for bringing it up then.”

Lana touched his arm.  “It’s really okay, Clark.”

No, it wasn’t, Clark wanted to say, but instead he half-smiled, took her hand from his arm, and squeezed lightly.  He spotted Whitney coming out of the school and suppressed a genuine chuckle at the murderous glare he received.

“Here comes Whitney,” Clark said, releasing her hand.  “He looks jealous.”

Lana’s nose wrinkled adorably.  “Well good.  Maybe he will actually ask me to attend the Homecoming dance with him tomorrow instead of assuming I’m going.”

Clark grinned.  “Good luck.  See you tomorrow.”

“Bye.”  Lana turned to meet Whitney and Clark headed off to the parking lot.  He’d driven his truck to school and the ride home gave him time to formulate what he was going to say to his parents.

Clark parked the truck near the barn, dropped his jacket and backpack in the loft, and then went looking for his folks.  Unsurprisingly, he found them both in the greenhouse, hip deep in recording changes from the move.

“Hello, Clark.  How was your day?” Jonathan asked, barely glancing up from his work.  Martha stood beside him with a palm pilot.  “Subject C-8: good coloration, no curling of the leaves.  Petals full and firm.”

“I’m mad at you guys,” Clark stated, as Martha entered the information into the PDA.  He folded his arms and glowered.  “Why didn’t you tell me about the meteorite shower that hit Smallville the day I arrived?”

Jonathan and Martha stopped working immediately and exchanged quick glances.  “Where did you hear that, son?” Jonathan asked.

“At school.  Chloe has an entire wall dedicated to the disaster.”  Clark’s glare did not waver.  “Why didn’t you tell me?”


“We didn’t feel it was important,” Martha replied.

“Not important!” Clark exclaimed.  “I killed people!  I think that’s kind of important!”

“You didn’t kill anyone, Clark,” Jonathan said firmly.  “We think the meteors covered your entry, but you are in no way responsible for that.”

“You were a baby,” Martha continued.  “If anyone is responsible, it’s whoever sent you here.”

Clark deflated miserably.  “But if it weren’t for me, no one would be dead.”

Martha gave Jonathan the PDA and hugged Clark.  “I can’t say I’m sorry for that,” she confessed softly, as Clark buried his nose in her hair.  “I wouldn’t trade you for a million lives saved.”

Clark blinked the mist from his eyes, as Martha leaned back and kissed him on the cheek.  “You’re a good boy.”

“Mooom,” Clark dragged out in embarrassment, breaking their hug.  He was too tall for her to ruffle his hair like she used to, thank goodness.

Jonathan moved in and clasped him briefly on the shoulder.  “I have to agree with her Clark.”  He jerked his thumb towards ceiling.  “Their loss is our gain.”

Clark wiped a hand over his eyes, and then tried futilely to brush the dirty palm-print from his shoulder.  “Is there anything else I should know, so I don’t get blindsided like today?”

“Not that we know of, dear,” Martha said.  “We moved to Noblesville a few weeks after you came, to avoid speculation as to your identity.”

“Your adoption is legitimate,” Jonathan said.  “We’d fostered children before, so it wasn’t difficult to keep you in the days surrounding the shower.  The Division of Family and Children assumed your folks were killed that day and it was just a matter of time before you became our son legally.  You were already our son in our hearts.”

Clark ducked his head and shifted from foot to foot.  His parents were certainly mushy at times.

“Is there anything else?” Jonathan said openly.  “Honesty is the best policy within these four walls.”


“No, nothing else,” Clark said.  “Oh – Chloe thinks that the meteorites have caused mutations around here, but I’ll believe it when I can prove it.  Still, watch your soil.”

“Chloe thinks, huh?”  Martha’s tone was teasing.

Clark rolled his eyes.  “She’s the editor of the school paper.”

“Is she cute?”

“She’d cut off my ba- er, head, if I said yes,” Clark replied.  He started to leave before they got on the topic of his love life.  “I’m going to do chores.”

“Dinner’s at six o’clock,” Martha called after him.

Clark acknowledged her with a backwards wave.


Jeremy Creek had been chosen as the scarecrow because he was gay. 

Clark had done background research on Jeremy during lunch and Computers Friday, piecing together a history for a possible story.  Then, he’d gone to the hospital after school and interviewed John Bazman.

Chloe had known of the scarecrow tradition and never asked why Jeremy had been chosen.  Clark asked, and he hated the answer.

Gay bashing.

Clark checked his strength as he slammed the truck door shut, but just barely.  He was intolerant of intolerance, as the joke went, but it wasn’t very funny at the moment.  Being gay himself, it had taken a lot of control not to punch Bazman.

Clark stalked across the student parking lot towards the side entrance of the high school.  Chloe was working at the Torch, and he needed someone to rant to about this so-called tradition.  Barbaric didn’t cover it.  She may or may not be wrong about Jeremy’s “powers,” but they now knew the motivation behind the attacks.

The side door opened and Whitney and his jock friends exited the school, shoving and razzing each other.  They saw Clark and fell silent, and Whitney walked forward to meet him.

“I saw you hitting on my girl yesterday, Kent,” Whitney challenged without preamble.

Clark was not in the mood.  “Don’t mess with me right now.”

“Tough guy, huh?”  Whitney poked him hard in the shoulder.  “You have a lot to learn about the way things work in Smallville.”

“And you’re going to be the one to show me,” Clark scoffed.  He bumped rudely past Whitney—

—and stumbled as a wave of dizziness hit.

Whitney grabbed his jacket collar and swung him around.  “Come on.  Bring it, Kent.”

Clark caught his feet and put his hand on Whitney’s chest to shove him away.  Burning pain seared his hand.  Dizziness struck again.  Clark’s palm felt on fire and his entire body went weak abruptly.  He couldn’t breathe.

Whitney punched Clark in the stomach and Clark collapsed on the ground.  He’d actually felt the hit.  And it hurt.

Whitney bent over Clark, grabbed his lapel, and pulled him up.  Whitney’s fist was raised, preparing to strike again.  A glowing green necklace swung on a chain around his neck.

“What’s going on with you and Lana?” Whitney growled.

“Nothing,” Clark gasped, unable to take his eyes off the bauble.  His body trembled and he began to sweat. 

“Nothing, huh?  But you like her necklace.”  Whitney yanked the necklace off and forced it over Clark’s head.  Clark’s chest burned instantly under his shirt where the green jewel fell.  “This is as close as you’re ever going to get to her, Kent.”

The last thing Clark saw was Whitney’s fist flying at his face.


Clark shivered uncontrollably, even though he dripped with sweat.  His head hung forward, his shoulders stretched as far as he could lean while tied to a cross in the middle of a cornfield.  He was stripped to his boxers, a bright red ‘S’ painted on his chest.

He was this year’s scarecrow.

Lana’s necklace hung around his neck, swinging with every ragged breath he took.  The world swam in his vision, but as long as the green jewel didn’t touch his skin, it didn’t feel as though his veins were crawling or his heart was going to burst.

Clark didn’t know how long he’d been there.  It was dark outside, the night air cold, for once, on his fevered flesh.  He was extraordinarily angry, but he wouldn’t seek retribution if one of those jocks came back and let him down.

The cornstalks rustled and Clark raised his eyes.  He made out a blurred form standing within an arms distance.  “Help me,” he rasped.

“It never changes,” the male said sadly.

“Please, help me,” Clark repeated, blinking to clear his vision.

“I thought if I punished them it would stop.  But it never stops.”

It was Jeremy Creek.  Clark recognized him from the picture taken twelve years ago; thin features, sunken eyes, and dark messy hair.  It didn’t look like he’d aged a day.

Jeremy turned and started to leave.

“Wait.  Where are you going?” Clark panted.

“Homecoming dance.  I never made mine.”

“Get me down.  Please,” Clark called weakly, as Jeremy disappeared between the cornstalks.

Jeremy’s voice floated back to him.  “You’re safer here.”

Clark strained against the ropes holding him hostage.  He collapsed, unsuccessful, darkness curling at the edges of his vision.  He felt sick.  Breathing heavily and with tears in his voice, he whispered a plea.  “Someone help me.”

The corn rustled again, and Clark’s hopes rose.  Perhaps Jeremy had returned.  Lifting his gaze, he willed his eyes to focus.

The ghost of Lex Luthor stood in front of him.

It was the same man he’d seen two days ago down by the river.  He was dirtier close up, wearing the same overalls and no shirt or shoes.  The tuft of hair on the top left side of his head was an incongruous orange-red in color.  Piercing blue eyes stared up at Clark, a scar-split mouth twisted in a moue of displeasure.

Lex did not resemble the waif-like young teen Clark had seen in the photograph on the Wall of Weird.  Solid muscles bulged and tensed in Lex’s arms, shoulders, and pecs as he untied Clark’s ankles.  Clark almost whimpered when Lex walked out of sight, but then Clark’s arms came loose and he fell to the ground.

The shock of his body hitting the earth jolted Clark enough to fight.  He tore the necklace over his head and dropped it.  He shoved himself away from it and was suddenly spiked with energy and strength.

Clark stood, confused by the abrupt change in his physical well-being.  He heard a sound behind him and pivoted quickly.  Lex stood half-hidden behind the scarecrow cross, staring unabashedly at Clark.

Clark felt very naked under that gaze, but not in a sexual way.  Still, it made him uncomfortable and he was glad to see his clothes piled on the ground nearby.  Lex continued to watch silently as Clark put on his jeans.

“Um, thanks for getting me down,” Clark said to dispel his odd nervousness.  He put on his shirt.  “I don’t know how long I would’ve been up there if you hadn’t come along, Lex.”

Lex’s eyes widened almost comically.  He grabbed the wood post with both hands and seemed to shy behind it.  “You know my name?”  His voice was a whisper of a baritone.

“Yeah, it’s Lex Luthor, right?” Clark would be able to debunk Chloe’s ghost theory at least, if not her theory on Jeremy—

Jeremy!

“Lex, I have to go,” Clark said, grabbing his jacket, socks, and shoes.

“Are you taking me home?”


Clark glanced at Lex in confusion.  “I can’t.  I need to get to the high school,” he said, figuring that was a safe answer.

The corners of Lex’s mouth turned down, then he nodded and pointed in the direction behind Clark.  “School’s that way,” he said.

“Thanks again,” Clark said, meaning it.  Then, he hurried into the tall cornstalks.

Once out of Lex’s sight, Clark used his speed to put on his socks, shoes, and jacket, and took off running towards school. 

The parking lot was packed.  The front doors of the school were open and music spilled outside.  Streamers, balloons, and banners decorated the entryway and steps, welcoming everyone to the Smallville High Homecoming dance.

Clark saw Jeremy cutting around the side of the building.  He zipped to the corner and peered cautiously around it.  Jeremy was standing in front of a steel box mounted on the wall behind the school, labeled as the school’s sprinkler system.

“Jeremy, don’t,” Clark said, stepping into view.

Jeremy turned quickly, surprised.  He stared at Clark.  “You should have stayed away.”

“I don’t know what you’re planning, but I’m not going to let you do it,” Clark warned, striding forward.

“I’m not doing this for me.  I’m doing this for you and all the others like us,” Jeremy said.  “The sprinklers will get them nice and wet, and I’ll handle the rest.”

“Jeremy, I want revenge as much as you,” Clark said.  “But haven’t you hurt enough people already?”

“The won’t stop until they’re taught a lesson they’ll never forget.”

Jeremy yanked open the steel box.  Clark was beside him instantly and grabbed his shoulder.  “Give it up.”

“No!”  Jeremy spun on his heel, planted his hands on Clark’s chest, and shot lightning out of his fingertips.  Chloe had been right!  Clark felt the electricity jolting down to his bones and staggered backwards.  

“I am not—,” Jeremy took a step forward and shocked Clark again, “—going to let them—,” and again, “—do this—,” and again, “—anymore!”

Clark’s teeth knocked in his mouth from the high voltage and he was sure his hair was standing on end.  He tightened his jaw, snarled in anger, and shoved Jeremy hard.

Jeremy flew backwards, landing in a heap on the ground below the control box.  He pushed up on his hands, shook his head hard, and looked up.  He smiled ugly and reached for the box.

Clark sped over, grabbed Jeremy, and threw him away from the building.  Jeremy hit the side of a parked pickup truck.  He barely paused, something making him able to withstand Clark’s strength – something Clark really didn’t like.  He climbed into the truck and started the engine.

Clark braced his feet and met the squealing truck head on.  His hands sunk into the metal hood and his shoes burned rubber on the pavement as Jeremy tried to run him over.  The vehicle drove Clark backwards by sheer velocity, crashing through the wall into the maintenance room.  Cinder blocks fell around them.  A water pipe burst, pouring water down on Clark’s head and through the broken windshield of the truck.

Jeremy began screaming, visible white streams of electricity dancing over his body and the metal of the truck.  Quickly, Clark stepped back and onto a fallen cinder block as the lightning electrified the puddle of water growing on the floor.

Abruptly, Jeremy shorted out, went silent, and slumped over the steering wheel.  Clark waited a moment before tentatively stepping down.  When he didn’t get electrocuted, he moved quickly to the driver’s side door and opened it.  A flood of water poured out onto the floor.

Jeremy groaned and straightened.  The pipe water continued to rain down into the truck. Blinking the water from his eyes, he asked confusedly, “Who are you?  Where am I?”

“I’m Clark, and you’re in Smallville,” Clark said, doing his best to check for injuries.  He touched Jeremy’s hand and was grateful not to be shocked.  “You had an accident.  We need to get you to the hospital.”

Jeremy nodded and Clark helped him out of the damaged truck.  They hobbled from the flooding rubble, both soaked to the skin.  Jeremy glanced at Clark.  “Do I know you?”


Clark shrugged.  “You might have seen me while I was hanging around.”


Clark sat in his bedroom, feet dangling over the edge of the hayloft window.  He’d opened the bottom half to sit and look out at the stars.  It was a peaceful, idyllic Kansas night. 

Clark snorted.  Interesting how appearances could be deceiving.  Smallville, Clark was quickly learning, was anything but idyllic.  Mutants that did indeed conduct lightning, a ghost that was surprised someone knew his name, and an All-American quarterback who strung up a person for looking at his girlfriend wrong all lived here.  Clark had a notion he’d just scratched the surface of a town full of secrets begging to be learned.

A truck pulled into the drive across the way, and Clark watched as Lana Lang climbed out of the passenger side.  She was pretty in her pink dress and wore a tiara.  The Homecoming Queen.  He’d have to congratulate her tomorrow.  Maybe with a kiss in public to piss off Whitney.  Or maybe he’d just kiss Whitney.

Clark smiled wickedly as scenarios of revenge danced in his head.  The possibilities were infinite. 

He couldn’t wait.



End



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