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The Atomic Captive — Epilogue

by Tom Nichol

based on the episode of the same name from the
Adventures of Superman

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This episode was a direct outgrowth of the “Cold War” period of the 1950’s. Because nuclear physics and nuclear medicine were both still in their infancy at this point in history, some of the scientific principles involved were understandably stretched to, or beyond, the limits of credibility by the program’s writers and produ-cers. This was a common practice in Hollywood during this period, and, to a certain extent, still continues today.]

Ten days had passed since the dramatic events surrounding the attempted abduction of Dr. Aaron Ladislav, a nuclear physicist who had defected to the West more than a decade earlier. In due course, he had become a naturalized American citizen, and had become actively involved in nuclear research. Then, some months earlier, he had accidentally been exposed to a fatal dose of nuclear radiation, to the point that he had been declared dangerously radioactive himself, and had had to live in isolation in the desert ever since.

His former government, however, wanted him back, and had proven willing to go to almost any lengths to abduct him and take him back to his native land by force. They had even threatened to execute Dr. Ladislav’s two sisters, Anna and Sonya, if he refused to comply with their demands. Just when he had been about to put on a radiation-proof suit identical to the ones his would-be captors were wearing and go with them, Superman had arrived and driven the two would-be captors away, although both he and Ladislav knew that they or their superiors would soon make another such attempt.

In the rush of subsequent events, Dr. Ladislav, along with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, had all been exposed to the force of the blast of a relatively small atomic bomb that was being tested by the U. S. Army, as had the two foreign agents and their leader, a female spy known only by the code name, “X-29.” In rescuing the three of them, Superman had not only managed to reverse the nuclear explosion, driving it all the way back into the ground, but had miraculously decontaminated them as well, to the point that even Dr. Ladislav himself was now free of radiation, and no longer facing the grim prospect of death by radiation poisoning.

To top it all off, the Man of Steel had even rescued Anna and Sonya Ladislav from what would otherwise have been certain execution by the dictatorial government of their native land. In doing so, Superman had passed along a stern warning that if any further attempts were made to kidnap Dr. Ladislav, or to take reprisals against him or either of his two sisters, they would face retaliation, not only from the United States, but from the Man of Steel himself. Faced with such a “no-win” situation, the government of the Ladislavs’ native country had reluctantly given in and given up.

Now, some ten days later, Perry, Lois, Jimmy, and Clark, along with the Ladislavs (Aaron was an old friend of Perry’s) and General William Barrel, were discussing these events in Perry’s private office. As might be expected, Perry was still in a celebratory mood, since the story had, as he had predicted, proven to be the biggest one in the Daily Planet’s history. Even General Barrel had approved the way in which the Planet’s reporters had handled the story.

That reminds me, Mr. Kent,” the General said, turning to the disguised Man of Steel, “just how did you escape the blast?”

It’s simple, General,” Clark replied. “Superman saw me and carried me out of the danger area before the bomb exploded—that’s all there is to it!”

Speaking of the blast,” Jimmy spoke up, “what about those two spies that were trying to kidnap us? What’s going to happen to them?”

General Barrel took a deep breath before he answered. Then, in a solemn tone of voice, he replied, “It already has happened, Mr. Olsen—they’re both dead!” As the others in the room gasped in horror, he explained, “You see, those supposedly ‘radiation-proof suits’ they were wearing were, in fact, anything BUT radiation-proof! On top of that, they removed their hoods in order to see clearly while they were driving. As a result, they both received a full, and FATAL, dose of prompt radiation from the blast, and died within a matter of hours!”

For a long moment, there was silence in the office. Then Jimmy took a deep breath and asked, “And—and the other two agents—the ones that tried to kidnap Dr. Ladislav the first time?”

Not much better, I’m afraid,” the General replied. “Their suits weren’t radiation-proof, either—so, when they tried to kidnap Dr. Ladislav, who at that time was still radioactive, they both received a fatal dose of radiation themselves. Mind you, they’re both still alive – but they won’t be for long. We’ve tried to interrogate them, but they’re refusing to talk—most likely, out of fear of reprisals by their own government against their families!”

Again, there was silence in the office for a long moment. Dr. Ladislav shook his head sadly. Then, Perry said quietly, “Don’t feel too badly about them, Aaron. By participating in a scheme to kidnap you and force you to return to your native country and work for their dictatorship, those four hoodlums brought their fate upon themselves. It’s like Sherlock Holmes said: ‘Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another!’ At least you’ve been cured, and your sisters are now here in America, and can begin a new life in peace and freedom!”

Dr, Ladislav let out a long sigh. “Yes, my friend, that’s true, and I assure you that the three of us are extremely grateful for that fact. In fact, that brings up another point: My sisters and I will soon be spending our first Thanksgiving Day here in America together. I have been in America long enough that I know what to expect, as it were, but Anna and Sonya here have not. While they are both excellent cooks, they have never prepared a Thanksgiving Day dinner before. Can any of you give them some assistance in that regard?”

Are you kidding?” Perry shot back with a laugh. “Between my wife, Alice, Miss Lane here, and Jimmy Olsen’s mother, we can fix you up without the slightest difficulty!”

Wonderful!” Anna spoke up. “Then let’s all get together on Thanksgiving Day!”

Yes,” Sonya added. “Given the course of recent events, I for one can’t think of any group of people my siblings and I would rather spend that day with!”

As it turned out, General Barrel was already committed to spend Thanksgiving Day with his own family. The others, however, were only too happy to accept the Ladislavs’ invitation. Perry, who was an amateur historian as well as an amateur scientist, carefully explained the history of America’s Thanksgiving Day to the Ladislavs.

As the meal was being placed on the dining room table, Perry remarked, “That reminds me, Clark—how is your mother back in Smallville doing? Is she all right?”

Clark, beaming with pleasure, responded, “She’s fine, Perry, and thank you for asking! Several other relatives on both sides of our family are getting together with her, so she won’t feel lonesome, I can assure you!”

Well, don’t forget to call her anyway, Clark, please!” Lois remarked.

I won’t forget, Lois, I promise—and thank you for your concern as well!”

With that, the Ladislavs and their guests all sat down at the table for a Thanksgiving dinner that none of them would ever forget—all of them giving thanks for the happy outcome of one of Superman’s most dramatic rescues.

Posted August 8, 2020

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