} It was a rainy day in Metropolis, the kind that puts a chill through
} your bones and into your soul; a day fit for neither man nor beast.
} The streets were empty. The crack dealers and winos had gone to
} seek shelter, but not me. Even in this late fall icy downpour which
} should have been named "Hurricane Pneumonia," I had to keep pounding
} the beat. Life's never easy for a junior reporter, but when you
} work for the Daily Planet, it's downright miserable sometimes. Like
} Lois always said, "You've gotta love it." She was my buddy Clark's
} girl; style, class, and legs that wouldn't quit all rolled up into a
} fireball that would roast you alive if you got in her way. I missed
} her. I missed them both, and for all I owed them, I had to find out
} what happened.
} Perry told me to forget about it, that reporting was a dangerous
} business and it was just the odds catching up to those two. If it
} had been anybody else, I might have thought that he'd been paid off
} to keep people from investigating -- I knew the cops had been. I
} knew better, though. Perry looked as stricken as if he'd lost a son
} and daughter, and I knew he just couldn't bear to lose one more of
} his own. I don't know why everyone just assumed they were dead.
} Lex Luthor was paroled last Monday, Lois and Clark were missing on
} Tuesday, and I suppose everybody just put two and two together.
} Finally, drenched to the bone and my last potential informant
} questioned, I returned to my office $5000 poorer and with no leads
} whatsoever. It was as if they really had vanished. If Luthor had
} had any part in it, he'd done it outside of his usual network of
} low-life scum, that was for sure. I'd paid off every two-bit
} henchman and thug in the city, and all for nothing. Dejected, I
} started reading my email, and there it was. My first clue had been
} sitting in my computer waiting for me all this time. Lex Vehicle
} Leasing -- LVL -- Lex V. Luthor, operating out of the UK! But what
} could it mean? Coat hangers...many kinds for women, but only small
} triangular ones for men? That was easy enough; a reference to
} Lois's enormous wardrobe and the triangular shield on the Man of
} Steel's chest. But what could that impossibly huge auto-sig have to
} do with it? Well, I thought, I'll start with the phone number, and
} before I could worry about what Perry would say about an
} international call, I dialed it. To my utter astonishment, I
} instantly recognized the pompous tones coming from the other end.
} "Orrie! I'd almost given up and gone home. I was expecting you
} hours ago! How've you been?" crowed Lex Luthor.
} "Better," I replied, maintaining my cool. "Are the kids still in
} one piece? It will go very hard for you if they aren't," I added
} "Oh, fret not, big guy. Supe, or should I say Clark, has had a bit
} of a scare, but he's just fine, or at least he will be," the arch-
} villain cooed.
} "So you know? How'd an idiot like you finally figure it out?"
} "I didn't, to be honest. I was just playing a hunch on that foxbot
} Lane when I put the kryptonite condom in her purse. I couldn't
} believe it when we broke in and found her gibbering over Kent.
} Would you believe that he still had his glasses on? Only when they
} fell off while we were moving him did we realize it had worked!
} "What do you want?"
} "Well, in my old age, I've gone a bit soft, if you know what I mean.
} I figure that on ten million dollars, and a lifetime supply of
} Viagra and Rogaine, not to mention the lovely Lois Lane, I could
} hide away quite happily for the rest of my days and never bother
} anyone again..."
} "So you want us to sell Lois into slavery to you? And what about
} Clark, or is he history either way?"
} "Oh, you can have the SuperEunuch back, though I don't think he'll
} ever be the same again..."
} "You're mad!" I screamed, involuntarily venting my mounting
} "Yes, and isn't it grand!" he cackled in reply. "You haven't asked
} about the alternative yet, though I know you'll never kowtow to my
} demands. You types never do. So, I'll just tell you. If my
} demands are not met, not only shall both of them be killed in the
} most painful way I can think of, but my specialized .sig virus will
} attach itself to every email message and usenet posting on earth,
} crippling the net with the additional traffic and enabling me to
} TAKE OVER THE WORLD!" I wondered who he'd been talking to in
} prison. He'd always been crazy before, but this time he really took
} the fruitcake.
} "Gee, Brain, where's Pinky?" I retorted. "You realize, of course,
} that you're insane, and you're going back to..."
} "What did you say?" Luthor interrupted, his cool veneer of contempt
} shattered for just a moment. I thought I detected something odd in
} his voice, almost like an electrical short. A voice modulator?
} What for?
} I knew something was up, but I didn't want to give myself away just
} yet. "It's a reference to a popular animated TV show. I'm
} surprised that even someone who's been in prison wouldn't recognize
} it," I deadpanned.
} "Yes, I know, but why would you say that? Does this sound like a
} time for joking to you? Do you doubt my resolve???" He was really
} hot about something, barking threats into the phone with vicious
} fury. Then I heard it. It was almost inaudible over the mad
} ranting, but I heard it: "Um, Brain, you're drooling all over the
} voice box, narf!" Then, in mid-sentence, Luthor's voice fizzled,
} and was replaced by that of the Brain! "...should kill them now,
} just to *pop fizzle* Oh no! The modulator! Oh well, no matter,
} our plan is in motion and NOTHING CAN STOP US THIS TIME!" He didn't
} hear me put him on hold while I got on the other line. I thanked
} whatever gods there were that Perry hated cheesy hold music.
} Hanging up the other line, I knew I had him, but I wanted to savor
} the moment. "Are you sure about that?" I queried. "Even if, say,
} LVL called in an exterminator for this afternoon to help them with
} their...rodent...problem? Face it, Brain, your plans are always
} doomed to fail!"
} "Curses!" came the reply. "Pinky, are you thinking what I'm
} thinking?" "I think so, Brain, but kryptonite chafes me so."
} "Pinky, don't make me hurt you..." with that, the phone hit the
} floor, and I heard a slap and some scurrying before I hung up the
} * * *
} The headlines flew fast and furious the next day, as the missing
} reporters Lois Lane and Clark Kent were discovered tied up
} underneath the IT desk of a small vehicle leasing company in the
} United Kingdom. "At first I thought it was just some kinky sex
} game," quipped the exterminator who found them, "but when I got
} undressed and climbed down there with them, she kicked me in my
} bits an' pieces, so I figgered maybe she just wanted out. I'm
} buggered if I know why I was called anyway; I didn't find a bloody
} mouse in the whole bloody building." The network manager found tied
} in the closet was taken to the hospital for observation after raving
} about talking mice.
} The .sig virus flew fast and furious through the internet in the
} days that followed, but thankfully the experts had it contained
} almost as soon as it started. The mutant hotmail and juno forms
} still exist, among others, but most netizens remain largely un-
} The profanity flew fast and furious in Perry's office when he
} discovered the two international calls on the phone bill. By now
} Lois and Clark were back home, safe and sound, and they both
} assured me that he was as good as new. Perry never did figure
} the significance of the two calls, and I didn't bother telling him.
} My work there was done anyway, and I quit not long afterward to
} head back to Bloomington. I still keep in touch with Clark and
} Lois; I send them a multicolored basket of condoms every year,
} and every year, they send me back all the green ones.