On her Stranger than Fiction Richter Scale, there was no digit large enough to quantify the incredulity of what she had just listened to for the last half hour.
He’d told her all about how he’d been placed on a spaceship and sent to earth moments before his home planet of Krypton had exploded, and how the earth’s yellow sun endowed him with superhuman abilities. He’d grown up with a family on a farm in Smallville, and his parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, had done everything to ensure that he’d had as normal an upbringing as possible.
Still, it all sounded very far-fetched, and much the product of an overactive imagination – and that was putting it delicately.
“So…Kal-El?” she echoed.
“Uh-huh. But I prefer Clark.”
“Of Krypton, you say?”
She fixed him with a suspicious, frosty glare. “Isn’t that an element on the Periodic Table?”
“It’s also a planet; or at least it was until it imploded,” he patiently explained. “As I told you earlier, that was the day my parents sent me to earth.”
“How very convenient for you,” she mused, feeling contrite when Clark looked at her with a hurt expression in his eyes. “Sorry, I forget you think all this is true.”
“It is true, Chloe. And I can prove it to you.”
“Oh, really?” she drawled, picking up her now tepid coffee and taking a cautious sip. “Don’t tell me you have your spaceship handy.”
He ignored the barb and instead nodded towards her coffee mug. “What me to reheat that for you?”
She blinked. “Excuse me?”
“Allow me.” He focused his gaze on the mug, and to her complete surprise, heatwaves began to emanate from his eyes. Within seconds, her cup was steaming hot again.
“Okay,” she finally managed when the shock began to wear off. “What the hell was that?”
“Heat vision,” he explained. “I have a host of other abilities which I don’t have time to go into right now, because the world I know and the one you live in are both in danger of being blown into oblivion – and like I said earlier, you’re the only one who can help me.”
“Me?” she gasped. “What’s any of this got to do with me?”
“I did some checking today,” he said. “You seem to be the only person who dares to tell the world the truth about Lex Luthor and what he’s capable of.”
On hearing Lex’s name, she bristled. “Lex Luthor has something to do with this?” she said, her voice hard.
“He’s in league with the person trying to kill me,” he said. “And no-one’s safe from him in this reality, either.”
“What the hell is he up to this time?” she asked, exasperated.
He swallowed. “Chloe, he plans to wipe out the entire Southern Hemisphere with a nuclear attack, and start a Third World War.”
“What?” she gasped.
He went on. “While the rest of the world is blaming the wrong countries attacking innocent nations, he’ll be picking up what’s left in the desolated areas and turning himself into the most powerful man in the world.”
“Do you have proof of all this?” she asked sharply.
Clark reached into his inside jacket pocket and handed her a sheaf of papers. “I knew you’d want to see these,” he said.
Quickly she scanned the confidential documents, seething as she verified their authenticity.
“That megalomaniacal bastard,” she swore, before rubbing her lower belly gently. “Sorry, little one,” she said sheepishly to the baby. “Back on topic: when is all this supposed to kick off?”
“We don’t have much time,” he said. “The launch coordinates go live tomorrow at noon.”
She exhaled deeply. “I see. What can I do to help?”
“The missiles are programmed to a remote detonator and are all scheduled for launch at the same time. I was hoping you might be able to override the command and initiate a shut-down sequence instead.”
Her eyes widened in dismay. “Oh, man. Clark, I’m nowhere near that kind of tech-savvy,” she replied, alarmed. “I used to be a decent enough hacker back in the day, but that was years ago.”
He sighed, and ran a hand through his hair desperately. “Could you at least try?” he pleaded. “You never know, it could be one of those things that come back to you as soon as you step back in the saddle.”
She frowned and bit her lower lip as she tended to do when she was worried.
“Computer hacking is hardly the same thing as riding a bicycle, Clark,” she answered.
He refused to give up. “Chloe, I know I’m essentially a stranger as far as you’re concerned, and I’m asking so much of you, but…” he paused, then crouched down and knelt in front of her, taking her small hands in his.
“I don’t know what’s happened to the world I live in, Chloe,” he admitted, sounding desolate. “It could be gone for all I know. And I sure as hell don’t want Lex Luthor or anyone else to send your world to hell in a handbasket as well.”
Chloe stared at their joined hands, her mind in utter turmoil. It wasn’t everyday a card-carrying alien showed up on her doorstep. It certainly wasn’t everyday that said alien told her that the fate of the world rested on her fair, dainty, unable-to-tan creamy shoulders.
“If you won’t do it for me,” Clark went on softly, “then do it for the future of your family.”
Automatically her hand went to her abdomen, and she seemed to draw strength from the life blossoming in her womb.
“Okay, I’ll do it,” she said at last. “Or at least, I’ll take a darn good shot at it. I’ll just grab my laptop, and-”
Suddenly there was a quick breeze, and Clark held out his hands. In one was her MacBook, which had been upstairs in the library. In the other was a robe that had been hanging on the bedroom door.
“Another one of my many talents,” he said with a smile.
This time, Chloe couldn’t help smiling back.
To be continued…