Once again, Tokyo was under siege.
A screeching roar, a rolling wave of fire and Japan's central railroad was no more. Telephone wires were stretched then ripped in half, as the creature stomped through downtown as if it were made of paper-mache.
The two young men sitting on the Fortress of Solitude's lone couch shook their heads in distress, but more for themselves than the shrieking extras running across the flickering screen.
Pete Ross didn't bother swallowing his nacho chips before exclaiming, "Man, this is cheesy."
Clark dipped his hand into the communal snack bowl. Grimaced with annoyance when he came up with little more than crumbs. "What do you want? I told you the VCR's broken."
"I'd rather watch 'Saved by the Bell' than this."
"No, you wouldn't." Clark tucked the remote more tightly beneath his arm, just in case. "Besides, this is a classic. I think."
Pete rolled his eyes. "Just because it's in black and white doesn't make it a classic. " He pointed at the TV with an orange-stained finger. "Look at the monster. You can see the zipper."
Clark squinted and searched the screen. "No, you can't. It's a rubber suit. Like for stream fishing, except it has a head."
"Imagine what it smelled like in there."
"That's disgusting." Clark shook his soda can from side to side. Empty, of course. He crushed it with a surreptitious squeeze of his fingers until it was no thicker than a cracker.
On the screen, Godzilla wasn't pleased. Another skyscraper was brazenly slapped to the ground.
"So tell me, Pete. Who'd you think would win? Him ... " Clark pointed at the fire-spewing nuclear mutant, "or Darth Vader?"
Pete made a derisive noise. "That's easy. Godzilla would win. He'd step on Vader like a bug."
"Really?" Clark ran a thumb over the flattened can's sharp, skewed edges. "Don't you think Darth Vader could outthink him?"
"Kind of hard to think when you're squashed under a giant lizard's foot. Face it, Clark. Brute strength is the way to go."
Clark's mouth turned a little dry. He wished for more soda but there was none. Not from the broken piece of metal in his hand at any rate. "I don't think it matters how strong you are. If you're stupid, the smart guy will figure out a way to get you ... somehow."
"Not if you kill him first," Pete said. He leaned back against the couch with a sigh. "Can I have the remote now?"
"No. And you don't think that a smart guy could avoid getting killed long enough to take me out ... I mean, take Godzilla out?"
"I guess." Pete's interest in the conversation was waning. He drummed his fingers along the empty bowl. "That's probably why Godzilla crushes things first and asks questions later."
Clark opened his mouth to reply, but the sound of footsteps tapping up the wooden stairs of the loft stopped him. He turned to see Lex standing at the top, dressed in head to toe black, his smile constructed, as always, with cautious care.
"Hey, Lex." Clark nudged Pete with a meaningful look.
"Yo," Pete said without enthusiasm, refusing to turn away from the screen.
"Hey, guys." Lex sounded cheerful, or at least like someone who was trying his hardest to sound cheerful. He nodded toward the TV set. "What do we have here?"
"The first Godzilla." Sheepishly, and Clark shrugged. "The VCR's broken."
"A classic," Lex said. He leaned against the railing, regarding the screen thoughtfully. "First environmental message film, I think. There's supposed to be a warning in there somewhere."
Pete snorted. "What warning? Telling us not to blow up nuclear bombs over densely populated cities? Like we never would have figured that one out."
"There's more to it than just the bombing, Pete," said Lex. "Cataclysmic events can unleash forces none of us can expect or understand, even after the initial catastrophe. Take the meteor shower, for instance. While the immediate damage has been done, we still don't know if or when the other shoe could drop." He smiled cannily. "Who says we'll never see invincible creatures and their foes wreaking havoc across the Earth for years to come?"
"Yeah, right," Pete grumbled. "Smallzilla, the meteor monster that can crush buildings with a single blow of his fist and shoot fire from his eyeballs to burn the countryside to a crisp. Uh, huh. I'll wait till the video comes out, thank you very much."
Clark's stomach dropped, as did the flattened can. It landed on the floor with a tinny clunk. He tried to change the subject "Say Pete, why don't we ask Lex who'd win. Um, Lex ..."
"Who do you think would win a fight? Darth Vader or Godzilla?"
Lex laughed. "Darth Vader, of course. Is there any question of it? An evil genius versus a stupid brute? Seems like a no-brainer to me."
He didn't know why, but a chill rolled down Clark's spine at Lex's words. "Yeah," he said softly. "That's what I told Pete."
"Whatever. I don't care what either of you bozos think," Pete said. He snatched the forgotten remote from Clark's lap with a victorious grin. "Ha! Seems like neither brains nor brawn can't save you, Kent."
Clark smiled wanly. Glanced over at Lex who'd quietly moved to the window and was staring out over the fields, lost in thought.
"You might be right, Pete," he sighed. "For now."
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