The helicopter landed within a kilometer of the ice fortress that Lex had spotted on aero photos. Lex, a totally white snowsuit, stepped out of the helicopter into the blinding snow then cut the fuel line. The pilot ran out of the helicopter and screamed. "Are crazy? You'll kill us both."
"Only one of us." Lex started to walk away from the helicopter; the pilot would die of hypothermia before help could arrive.
Lex touched indention in the fortress that appeared to be a closed door. "Welcome. You are the one that the pod has chosen for my son, Kal-el," said the holographic image of a dark-haired woman that could have been Clark's mother.
Lex tried not to shiver, as the computer scanned him, and walked into the ice fortress, because, no matter what obstacles it held inside, the structure would shield him from the wind and snow.
"I do not know any Kal-el." Lex Luther didn't cower to computer programs.
"Kal-el's mate, you meet him the day his ship landed on your world," the computer program explained.
Lex hoped the program meant mate as slang for friend or companion. "Clark." Lex acknowledged the program.
"You must make a choice to go forward or do you wish to return to who you were before meeting Kal-el?"
"Go back," Lex said. A computer program wasn't going to tell him what to do. The computer scanned him again. Green light filled the ice chamber. Suddenly, he felt weak and lost consciousness.
A nine-year-old boy opened his eyes to see a man in a funny red and blue suit stand over him. Lex started to wheeze. Where was his inhaler? It must have got lost in the cornfield. How did this snowsuit get on him? And why was it so cold? "Mister, where am I?"
"In my Ice Fortress," said the man. "I'll get you home to your father."
"My father is in Smallville," explained the boy between breaths. "He was buying another factory and it was so boring."
"And you ran away," said the man.
The cold made Lex sleepy. The boy fell asleep in the large man's arms and woke up in the hospital.
A nurse said, "We can't keep him in the hospital without his parents' consent."
"My dad is Lionel Luthor," said the boy.
"I'll contact him."
"She'll get your father," said the man. "Just tell him his son Lex is in the hospital. Don't tell him the boy's age or condition until he gets here."
"Sure, Superman." The nurse left.
"Will my mom be coming, too?" asked the boy.
"Your dad will be here soon," said the man in blue and red spandex.
"Why are you dressed for Halloween?'
"I'm Superman. I fight for truth, justice and the American way." The man, Superman, like Nietsche, sat by the bed. He had the muscles for an outfit like that, but he still looked like a comic book character.
"Right. My dad says nobody does something for nothing. What's in it for you?"
"You are awful young to be so cynical."
"And you're a little old to be trick-or-treating."
The nurse came back in and the man left. She said, "Honey, your dad will be here soon."
"I hate having asthma," said the boy.
"Once your dad gets here, we can work on getting you the right medication. Superman said you were nine years old."
"What year were you born?"
"1980. Do the math."
"That would make you a lot older than nine. Would you like me to get the book cart?'
"I've read everything on your cart, except sissy books."
The nurse left. Lex couldn't understand how he ended up in an ice cave when the last thing he remembered was running through a field and a teenage boy, with an "S" painted on his chest, tied to a cross. Lex had thought the world was coming to an end. Dad had bought him army men, so he could act out the Trojan War or create his own battles. Dad equated business with war. Luthor men were powerful, not chubby boys that ended up in the hospital due to asthma attacks. He was a disappointment to his dad.
The nurse came back with the book cart. Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper looked like a good book. Indian wars, conflict and adventure.
"Isn't that a bit old for you?" asked the nurse.
"I've probably read more books than you." The boy held the worn paperback in his hands.
"That may be true." The nurse sat by his bed and looked at his chart. "Lex, could you tell me who's the president?'
"George Bush, duh."
"Okay," said the nurse. "Who's vice president?"
"Dan Quayle." The boy gave her his best I'm bored look.
"What's the year?"
"1989. Do you want the date, too?"
"If you don't mind," said the nurse.
"October 13. The hick town my dad is screwing over was having some big game."
"The day the meteorites landed." The nurse gasped and scribbled something on the chart. "Read your book. Your dad should be here soon."
After the nurse finally left, Lex opened the book and started reading about colonial America. He was well into the book when his father approached his bed. Dad must have aged twenty years over the last couple days. "Dad, you don't look good. Too much cream corn."
Lionel went over to Lex and put his hand through his hair. "Lex, it's really you."
Lex pushed his dad's hand off. "Who else would I be?"
"The doctor needs to check you over then I can take you home."
"Is Mom home?"
"Lex, your mother died a long time ago."
"I just saw her a couple days ago."
"Lex, it isn't 1989. It's 2008."
"I'm sorry I ran away, but Smallville is so boring." In 2008, Lex would be twenty-eight. He was a nine-year-old boy. Dad must be lying to him.
Lionel sat down by the bed. "What do you remember last?"
"The meteorites falling from the sky. I wanted to be brave for you."
"You were brave. You be brave for the doctor." Lionel kissed his forehead.
"You didn't freeze me for eighteen years and Superman didn't find me in your secret laboratory in the North Pole?"
"No, son. We'll talk more when we get home."
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