Title: From The Dust Returned.
Beta: Jose, Pollyanna.
Livia's challenge: Write a story using a title based on one of Ray Bradbury's works.
Two months had passed since the fateful day in June when Lex's relationship with his father was severed forever.
The three hurricanes that had hit the town of Smallville were but a metaphor for the inner storm occurring within the Luthor Mansion. Lex had viewed his father as an enemy for some time, and the struggle they had engaged in over the years finally boiled over between the two men. That night, words were exchanged that could never be taken back.
Lex had been successful in keeping the plant from closure, and had even rescued his father. Much as Lex had wanted his freedom, had planned for his release from servitude to LuthorCorp., the boy within him was crushed and saddened at the turn of events, at the continued conflict between father and son.
That child remembered what his father was like before his mother's death, and he still craved for the love and attention Lionel had once bestowed upon him.
Lex looked down at the watch his mother had once given him. What would his life be like had she lived? he wondered. Lex had been her knight, and she, his queen. But there was one battle he had been unable to overcome -- death. Death had taken her from him and it had been the catalyst that altered the relationship between the Luthor men.
Lex checked on the crew working on the grounds at the back of the house overlooking the lake. It was a beautiful spot, the one he had chosen for his mother. A new burial place closer to home. Closer to him. Lex had given his father the stock options Pamela had bequeathed to him and, in exchange, Lionel had granted Lex's two requests: for the plant to remain open and to have his mother's remains moved from Metropolis to Smallville.
Lex's beeper sounded. He brushed his hand against his belt, tilting the beeper slightly forward, noting the phone number blinking up at him. It was Gabe.
Lex moved away from the construction scene and made his way back to the house. There was no need for him to stand here and supervise a simple matter when other more important things awaited him back at the office.
As he walked away, little did Lex know that a small accident was about to take place. As the crew placed the coffin into the ground, the casket tilted to one side, opening slightly, allowing powdered dust, soil rich in meteorite, to leak in, settling on top of the clothes, hair and bones of the long departed woman. Nor would Lex have realized that as the workers refilled the grave they would cover it with new soil brought to the area. Soil mixed with small particles of green rocks. An area that had once been free of meteorites, was now contaminated with them.
Later that evening, after the crew had left the grounds, Lex visited the new burial plot. He read the new gravestone placed above it.
Lillian Luthor. Mother. Wife. Forever missed.
He had brought flowers for this occasion, having ordered them from Metropolis. Her favourites, lilies.
"Hello, Mother," Lex said as he laid down his flowers.
He pulled a toy soldier out of his coat pocket. It had been a favourite of his as a boy, part of the prized collection his mother had given him. A family heirloom, come down through four generations. Lex smirked thinking back to a more innocent time. To his mother the metal solders had been nothing but toys. To Lionel, on the other hand, the solders had been part of the life lessons he wanted to instill in his son. Lex buried the soldier just by the newly mounted headstone, something he'd been waiting eight years to do. Ever since his mother's death. He smiled and patted the small mound. Now she would have something of his to guard her in the spirit world.
Upon her death, Lionel had refused to allow this, what he called, "sentimental and childish action. She doesn't need that thing." But Lionel had nothing to do with this reburial.
"I miss you, Mom," Lex crouched by the headstone, tracing her name with his fingertips. "God, Mom, why did you have to leave me?" His anger at being abandoned suddenly overwhelmed his grief. "We had so many plans, damn it!" Finally calm, Lex stood, kissed the headstone and then walked back to the mansion, his long coat flapping behind him against the wind.
Six feet underground, in the casket that held the body of Lillian Luthor, the specks of green meteorite that had found their way inside the coffin glowed.
Four days had passed since the casket had first been moved into its new place. The landscape around the area had been reshaped, new grass planted and the soil underneath, altered.
The alien rocks mostly surrounded the new burial ground and the very spot Lex stood each night as he visited his long deceased parent.
During the frequent visits by the Luthor heir, the passion and longing reflected in Lex's voice, stirred the meteorites. His wish and dreams expressed by him during his private discussions with his mother, at this infected spot, affected the meteorites.
The alien rocks almost seemed to be enchanted, granting the wish of its victims. Of a heavy girl who desired to be thin, of a boy ignored to become invisible, of a sickly child forever teased for his shocking red hair and frailness to be granted freedom from illness and mockery.
The rocks had already granted a young Lex his first wish, so that now hearing his new need it triggered something within them so that gradually flesh began to form upon dead buried bones, and a woman once thought dead, a wife, a mother, was reborn.
Ever so slowly, Lillian's replenished body was able to move inside its confined space, ripping the satin cloth, pushing against the coffin door, until eventually she broke through the oak wood and dug herself out of the grave.
A hand pushed against the newly layered grass, until a small pocket opened.
A woman who was once mourned and loved deeply by her son, crawled out of the grave, picking herself up, with only one thought in her mind, to comfort her child. Green meteorite particles on her hair and clothing fell onto the ground as she made her way into the mansion.
Inside she searched room to room for her son, Alexander, until eventually she found him fast asleep.
She silently walked up to him.
There he lay, Alexander, all grown up. She took hold of the red satin sheets that during his sleep he had pushed to the side and pulled them closer to her son's body, tracing his eyebrow with the back of her hand, affectionately.
As though aware there was someone else in the room with him, Lex slowly opened his eyes, blinking, his vision adjusting to the darkness of the bedroom. He turned to switch on the lamp beside the bed, his heart beating rapidly at the vision he saw before him.
His mother alive.
And just as he was about to reach for her, he stopped, remembering the impossibility of this apparition appearing before him.
His mother was dead and buried.
The word rang out in his mind and the woman who stood before him, covered in soil specked with small green crystals, was a spectre, a phantom, that had no business here in this room, his thoughts, or his dreams.
Lex backed away, getting off the bed, eyes still on the stranger. He blindly searched for his gun by the night table beside the bed.
"Alexander." The woman spoke quietly, hands reaching for him just as he found and pointed the gun in her direction. Her voice made him stand still in shock.
"Mama?" Lex asked, confused, calling to her like he used to do when he was a child. His unsteady hands almost dropping the gun, no longer aiming it at the woman, the vision, before him.
"Oh, my, darling boy," she crooned, her hands touching his, steadying his grip. Eyes that were once deep blue now sparkled green, glowing brightly and Lex felt his chest contract, growing weaker, falling to his knees, fighting consciousness.
Lex looked down at his hands, their veins had grown dark, pulsating rapidly, skin aging, bones deforming and he knew whatever this was, it was killing him.
A memory resurfaced of Clark at Level Three pulling him to safety. Then the same thing had happened to Clark, and Lex wondered whether this was the reason his friend was so skittish around the rocks.
Wondered whether he would ever be given the opportunity to ask.
Just as suddenly as all of this had begun, it stopped. The woman backed away, releasing him as he fell to the ground, staring down at her hands stunned.
"Oh, God. Oh, God." Green tears ran down her face. "Alexander, I'm so sorry," she said, as she clasped her hands together.
She stood there transfixed, wanting to reach for her child but afraid of hurting him.
This was not supposed to happen. She was here to offer him comfort, not pain. Her hand went up to whip the tears from his face but seeing him flinch back from her touch she stopped.
"What are you?" He asked, still weak from the brief contact just slowly regaining his strength.
A year ago, he would have run screaming from this but time spent in Smallville had taught him strange unexplained things happened in this town.
Desires brought to life.
"I heard you. Every night, I heard your voice, as it beckoned me back to life." She kneeled beside him, her green eyes focused intently upon him. "From the moment I held you in my arms, I've loved you. Actually," she smiled softly, "my love for you just grown from that day onward. You were a gift god gave to me. This life inside of me, a son I bore who carried with him my dreams and hopes for a better life."
"You left me," Lex told her, hugging his knees tightly, protectively.
"I never left you, Alexander. Don't ever believe that."
Her hand almost touched his. At this close distance he could still feel a slight pain along his hand and arm as his veins turned green just below the surface of the skin, but unlike before the pain this time was bearable.
Lex raised his eyes to look at the women in front of him. He noticed the small green like crystals along her hair, and a smudge of soil on her cheek. As he continued to gaze at her, he resisted the impulse to throw his arms around her, like he used to when he was a child.
A part of him wished he could turn back time, so he could grow up having her by his side.
"Are you here to stay?" Lex asked, of all the things he could wish for...
"I do not know. I don't know how long I can maintain this shape. Maintain this," she brushed a strand of long stray hair behind her ear. "Now, tell me all that I have missed. Leave nothing unsaid. Let us wish as though we had all the time in the world, to talk, to share, grant me this my son."
"I..." Lex shook his head, hurting inside. He wished he was the man his mother had wanted him to be, maybe one day...he could be.
"It's all right. Nothing you say will ever stop me from loving you."
It started out as a whisper, scattered words to describe the loneliness felt by a child who had lost everything. Words that grew in their precision as his voice changed, a child now becoming an angry adolescent, slowly maturing, growing older, picking his battles more carefully, guarding his emotions against others...
Night slowly turned to day and a woman brought to life by her son's love turned back to dust and bones, reverted to what she once was.
Next day, after Clark dropped off the groceries Lex's cook had ordered, he went in search of his friend.
When he reached the main hallway, his hand reached for the wall beside him, to steady himself. Feeling sick, Clark scanned the room searching for evidence of meteorite rock. He breathed deeply, shocked, concerned when he found soil mixed with fine green crystals along the carpet leading to the staircase, and to the bedrooms upstairs.
He ran up the staircase, holding onto the railings, fighting the nausea, sidestepping the soil on the carpet, calling for Lex, finding him in his room, on the floor, leaning against the bed, with gun in hand staring intently at a small rectangular metal box containing what appeared to be bones and pile of green dust in front of him.
"Lex?" Clark asked cautiously, standing as near as he could to his friend. "Lex," Clark repeated, trying to get Lex's attention.
"Clark?" Blue gray eyes filled with pain looked up.
"What happened here, Lex?" Clark asked, wanting to come closer but unable to.
"Lost dreams," Lex said. "Lost dreams."
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