Reaction: Strength

by Amy Wolf

Thomas Jerome Newton was the main character in The Man Who Fell To Earth.


The alien looked as sickly as ever, but his eyes were alive with excitement. "You made them disappear." His voice was filled with awe. "Just like that. Can you make anybody disappear?"

"Considering all the employees here now report to me, it shouldn't be too difficult." Lex pulled up the chair. The alien, as usual was sitting on his cot. Lex had to think of something better to call him. Even dogs had names.

"This means you can do all the other stuff you promised, like getting rid of the rocks and letting me go outside and everything?" The alien's expression varied between delight and sheer incomprehension, baffled by the prospect of someone doing good things for him.

"I can and I will. I have an arrangement set up that will allow us to almost completely eliminate your exposure to the meteor rocks. That's part of the reason I came by. I need to finalize the details with Dr. Miller."

"Will you make him disappear too?" The alien smiled at the prospect.

"Why? Did he hurt you like the others?"

"He's always ordering experiments where they drag me off and cut holes in me and it really hurts and nobody tells me what's going on." There was an almost childish petulance, as if he were complaining about early curfew.

"But he didn't molest you, or do anything sexual."

Blank incomprehension. "What does sexual mean?"

Lex sighed. "That's a big question. Remember the people who I got rid of? Did he do anything like that?"

"Oh, the touching. No, he never touched me. So that's sexual? When they do that to you?"

This conversation was not going well. "What people did to you was a type of sexual assault. Normal sexual behavior is when both people want it, and it's actually quite good."

"Good? How?" Disbelief, and a bit of horror.

So Lex scooted his chair into a passably comfortable position, and explained Good Touch/Bad Touch, or his own particular version of it, to the alien boy. An orderly scurried in right as he was giving a basic list of sex acts (edited of course because the boy was only fourteen, he'd dropped anything more exotic than a rim-job).

"Mr. Luthor, sir? Dr. Miller is waiting for your appointment."

Lex eyed the orderly casually. "I'm a little busy right now. Why don't you check back in another half hour?" The orderly opened his mouth. Lex raised an eyebrow questioningly. The orderly snapped his mouth shut and bolted out of the room. Lex turned back. "So where were we?"

The alien was back to the look of wide-eyed wonder. "You can make people do anything, can't you?"


"Mr. Luthor, you've seen this project from the beginning. The havoc the boy caused before we discovered the meteorites. Eight separate escape attempts, and by our estimates, he was less than five at the last one. What your son proposes is reckless and foolish."

"Foolish?" spat Lex, "Foolish is killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Foolish is rejecting a workable plan based on sheer cowardice. My device is sound. It has performed well on all tests to date, and there is no reason to think it wouldn't work in real life situations."

"So we should scrap a proven means of controlling a dangerous creature in favor of some toy you cooked up?"

"Dr. Miller," interrupted Lionel, "The cost of the time you have just wasted is currently equivalent to three month's salary. Now did I or did I not put Lex in charge?"

Dr. Miller froze, then stared down at the floor. "Yes Mr. Luthor." he squeaked in a toadying voice, "I was only trying to look out for the company's best interest."

"I pay you for your bioengineering skills, not your business sense. In the future, stick to your job."

"Yes Mr. Luthor."

Lionel glanced irritated. "Leave. Now." Dr. Miller scurried away.

"Lex, if you can't keep control of your people, I will have to take this position from you. Do you understand?"

"Yes Dad." Lex kept his voice steady, and made a point of meeting his father's eyes. Then he turned to walk away.

"Oh and Lex, about that name you gave it..."

Lex stopped.

"Thomas Jerome Newton?" He could hear the raised eyebrows.

Lex turned, a calculated smile playing across his lips. "Project Icarus? You have your little jokes and I will have mine." Then he left.


"It's so small" said Thomas, holding the device. "This is really going to replace all that rock?"

"It's a highly efficient system" replied Lex, plucking the lead capsule out of Thomas' hand. "A tracking device will show us your location on the planet at any given time. Provided you don't try to escape, you won't be exposed to any meteorite. However, should you run off, the concentrated supply ought incapacitate you until we can find you. But really, this operation should be your last exposure." Which could only be a good thing. Five minutes away from it, the rolling spider-veins were gone, and his skin was beginning to take on a healthy color. Without the meteors, Thomas really looked astonishingly human.

"If you could get it into the chair, I am ready to start the procedure." Dr. Miller spoke up from behind a set of scrubs

Tom climbed into the chair. Lex smirked, "I think he can here you just fine."

"Don't anthropomorphize." snapped Dr. Miller. He moved to the lead cabinet.

Lex cleared his throat. Dr Miller stopped, "I am going to open the cabinet with the meteorite. This will hurt." He glared at Lex, "Perhaps you'd like to hold it's hand?"

"Tom, do you want me to hold your hand?"

Tom looked up. "Why would I want you to do that?"

"Never mind." Lex nodded to the doctor. "You may proceed."

The doctor slid the cabinet open. Tom winced, and the skin on his back tuned a pallid green. Dr. Miller reached for a scalpel, then stopped himself. "I am going to make the incision now, if that's okay with you." he asked Lex. Lex nodded curtly.

The scalpel dug in. Tom hissed through his teeth and gripped the armrests. The doctor withdrew the scalpel and took the capsule from the counter. He poured a bottle of alcohol into a pan and submerged the capsule. Then he slid it into the incision. A creaking metal sound momentarily distracted Lex, who looked up at the air duct. When he looked down, the doctor was stitching up the incision. He tied the thread off, and wiped the area clean. When he slid the cabinet shut, Thomas pushed himself upright.

"Is that it?" he asked, "No more rocks?"

"Unless we need a tissue sample." replied Dr. Miller.

Lex asked, "How do you feel?"

"I feel really good." Tom stood and stretched. "Better than a long time." He took a deep breath. "I feel great."

"That's good." said Lex, distractedly. He was staring at the armrests. He'd been warned about alien strength, and had hoped for it as a consequence, but knowing and seeing were two different things. The armrests were crumpled, with the covers torn and the stuffing falling on the floor. But what most impressed Lex were the individual finger marks embedded in the metal. He had half a mind to check them for prints.

"Lex," asked Tom, "You promised I could go outside?" He was practically bouncing on his feet.

Dr. Miller stepped over to where Lex was standing. "You sure you know what you're doing?" he whispered.

Lex lifted his head. "Yes," he said, "That's right."

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