The 52 special

The Eve of Destruction – Part Two

by Lois Lane

METROPOLIS, JANUARY 4 — 

People were counting backwards. It was almost that time. Almost New Year’s Day. They were looking up to the sky, a sky swarming with young “heroes”, poster children for a world proud of its manufactured music stars and fictional reality television. And through it all, if they squinted hard enough and looked past the drunk girl with the blue skin getting sick on the rooftop of a Wayne Enterprises building, or the man dressed in a giant turkey costume hitting on a squadron of uninterested blondes, or even past my new acquaintance and spokesman for the unoriginal, Booster Pack, they might just have been able to make out the “S” symbol, the sign of Superman, usually revered and applauded this time of year. 

But a true Superman was nowhere in sight. And Metropolis was about to learn just what that meant.

The unison “three” sounded. Then “two”, then “one”. But there was no music. No strangers kissing, no Old Lang anything. It took a second before they even thought to scream. The sky was falling. The children were coming crashing down.

There was a woman standing next to me, who kept elbowing me all night, in some attempt to get me to move over a little, where to exactly, I’ll never know. We were packed in so close together, it was a challenge even to exhale fully without overturning the coffee of the man standing next to me. But when the Everyman victims starting falling, when their powers failed them simultaneously and they plunged down to the ground, I looked over at the woman by me. I’m not sure why. To gauge her reaction maybe, I don’t know. But I looked over at her, and she was still smiling. She hadn’t realized what was going on. And then suddenly, I was on the ground, and I couldn’t find her anywhere.

Something heavy had fallen from above me. Something had knocked me over a barricade into the police officers standing behind it. My ears were ringing and I was having a hard time seeing anything. Something was in my eyes. I wiped it off. It was blood. And it wasn’t mine.

I got to my feet somehow. I heard the cop next to me yell something in Spanish, and there were crashes all around. There was smoke, the ground was shaking. Things, people, were still falling from the air.

But I couldn’t move. At least, not of my own accord. I was being shoved. Like cattle frightened by lightning, the crowd flowed without consciousness, without intent. I was adrift with them, stumbling and tripping until I found myself pinned against a wall, and then knocked hard to the ground against an unfamiliar building behind me. But there was someone else down there with me. He was lying a few feet away on the broken sidewalk, people rushing over him as if he were merely an old coat put out with the garbage. I watched as his hand was crushed by a woman’s thick-heeled boot, as another man accidentally kicked the back of his head with his sneaker, knocking his face toward me. And I recognized the fallen boy. We’d just spoken less than five minutes ago. He was Booster Pack, but not anymore. Now he was just a child in a funny costume. And then I looked at him more closely, and I realized that wasn’t the case either. That figure on the ground, staring at me with blank eyes as the men and women of his city marched over his shattered body, he wasn’t anyone anymore. Just a lifeless, limp thing.

Suddenly there was a sharp pain at the base of my neck. And I couldn’t see anything.

I woke up in a hospital bed with my husband holding my hand. I was lucky, all I had was a concussion and a few bruises. Hundreds were dead, even more injured. There was no Superman to save us this time. And the Everymen were a thing of the past now. 

No, in this new year, when the citizens of Metropolis look up to sky, there will be nothing there for them to see. 

And I for one don’t know what to think about that.

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