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Jungle DevilThe Sequel
By Kirk Hastings
(Based on an original script by Peter Dixon/1953)

The small party of six people wound their way through a narrow trail in the otherwise dense Zinayan jungle, located in the middle of the small country situated in the heart of Central America.

Two of the party included Clark Kent and Lois Lane, reporters for the
Daily Planet newspaper located back in the United States. They were followed by Jimmy Olsen, a young cub reporter also on staff. The other three people include Dr. Ralph Harper, his wife Gloria, and their Mexican-born guide, Alberto. The latter three, having come into the Zinayan jungle to locate a plant that could be a possible source for a new miracle drug, had been captured by a group of local natives after accidentally losing the diamond eye of their tribal idol. The three Planet reporters had managed to rescue them. In the process (unknown to Lois and Jimmy) Kent, as Superman, had won the good graces of the natives after chasing away a local jungle god (who had turned out to be a large, albino gorilla), and recovering the idol’s eye. Now they were all on their way back to the clearing where the Planet reporters had left the small, six-seater airplane and its pilot that had brought them to Zinaya.

Soon they all approached that clearing. Bill Hurd, the plane’s pilot, was sitting on a small wooden box in front of a campfire he had built, drinking from a cup. A steaming coffee pot sat on top of a metal grill positioned over the fire. Hurd stood up as the jungle sojourners approached him.

Thank goodness!” he exclaimed. “I was wondering where you were!”

Kent went over to him. “We, uh, had a little trouble,” he said. He gestured at the Harpers. “But as you can see,” he added, “we found the Harpers!”

A little trouble?” Jimmy exclaimed sarcastically. “Yeah, if you define us being captured by hostile natives and Mr. Kent almost being sacrificed as a little trouble!”

After the Harpers and their guide had been introduced to Hurd (and vice versa), explanations were then made to fill in the details as to why they had been delayed so long in getting back to the airplane.

That’s quite a story,” Hurd finally responded. “It sounds like you’re all lucky to have come out without a scratch. But I’m afraid I have some news. Some good, some bad.”

Kent looked at him. “Uh oh. What’s the bad news?”

Hurd gestured at the airplane. “Both the plane’s engines are shot. I can’t repair them with the few tools I have with me here.”

What’s the good news?” Lois piped in.

I managed to get a radio message back to the airport at Costa Arena. I gave them our approximate position as best I could, and they said they would send a rescue plane out for us.”

Despite this, Hurd looked a bit downcast.

Unfortunately, it’s probably going to take them a while to find us -- just as it took us a while to get here. It could be up to a couple days before they locate us.”

Oh great!” Jimmy exclaimed. “So that means we’re all still stuck in this hot jungle for a while yet.” As he said this he took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped the sweat off the back of his neck with it.

I’m afraid so,” Hurd replied. “We should be all right, though, til we’re found. Fortunately we brought enough provisions along for all of us. And in the meantime, since it’s relatively undamaged we can make the plane our headquarters. I think I even have a tent and some sleeping bags stashed somewhere in the baggage hold, if someone would rather sleep outside than inside the plane.”

With all the bugs and snakes and other assorted critters crawling around out here?” Lois snorted. “Not me! I’ll sleep in the plane in a comfortable reclining seat, thank you very much!”

Kent smiled to himself. They would all be safe enough with him there, he thought. But knowing that they were all still going to be in the area for a while longer, he was a little worried about the so-called Jungle Devil. That gorilla that he had encountered, a large and ferocious beast, was still out there somewhere. And he had not been in a very good mood when he had finally lumbered away from his unsuccessful encounter with Superman. Kent hoped that his encounter with the ape would at least serve to encourage it to stay away from that particular native village in the future.

Kent wondered how such a beast had come to be in a South American jungle in the first place, as such gorillas were not native to that area. He was actually surprised that the somewhat lame explanation he had given earlier back at the native village as to how he had survived an encounter with the beast -- that it had been nothing more than “some poor gorilla that had escaped from a circus” -- had been accepted so easily. As bad as it was, at the time it was the only explanation he could think of to offer. But perhaps the stress of the entire situation -- and the fact that he had just escaped being sacrificed by the natives -- had been enough to encourage the others to overlook his superficial rationalization.

As the sun began to set the party helped Hurd to break out a tent, cooking utensils and food stores stashed aboard the airplane in order to set up a makeshift camp, where they proceeded to cook themselves a relatively decent dinner consisting of some meat, a couple vegetables, and rice cakes for dessert.

After their meal was finished, the jungle wayfarers had coffee, sitting in a circle around the campfire on wooden crates from the plane’s baggage hold.

So, Dr. Harper,” Kent asked the explorer, “what are your plans now going forward?”

Well, my original plan was to spend a week or two exploring in the jungle searching for the rare plant I was hoping to find, then radio the plane and pilot that had brought us here to come pick us up,” he explained. “Unfortunately, we came across the small village where you found us, and ended up running afoul of the natives by losing the eye of their idol.”

You mean by my losing the eye of their idol,” Mrs. Harper chimed in.

Her husband patted his wife’s hand. “
Who lost it isn’t important, Gloria. It was an accident. It could have happened to any of us.”

But what happened to all the supplies you must have had with you, and your bearers?” Lois asked.

The village natives confiscated all our supplies after the idol’s eye was lost,” Dr. Harper continued. “The weeks we were held captive they pretty much consumed all of the food we had brought. They destroyed our radio too, so we couldn’t message for help. They thought it was some kind of a demon box because of the noises it made. Then they set all our bearers free. They all left the area pretty quickly, afraid that if they stayed the villagers would end up changing their minds and sacrificing them to their idol -- or to the Jungle Devil. To his credit, Alberto was the only one who was willing to stick with us.”

I still wonder how many of our bearers actually made it out of the jungle to safety,” Mrs. Harper remarked. “After all, it’s a long way to civilization from here.”

They were all pretty jungle-savvy,” her husband replied. “And they were all familiar with this area. They probably knew where the next closest native village was, and headed there.”

Kent turned to the Harper’s guide. “Alberto, you seem to know a lot about this area too. Where are you from?” he asked.

Mexico City, originally,” he said. “But I’ve been living in Costa Arena for a number of years. I make my living guiding safaris through the back country of Zinaya. I’m very familiar with this area, and the people who live here.”

Where do you think those natives we encountered at the village originally came from?”

Alberto sipped his coffee. “They’re probably descendants of the people that were indigenous to this area,” he explained. “That would be mostly the ancient Mayans. About forty-two percent of the modern inhabitants of the area are of Mayan descent. Yet there really is no common sense of identity or political unity among the local populations, because they each have their own particular cultures and historical identities. At different points in their history there have been numerous breakups of the local population. The tribe we encountered, the Ketchi, is one of them, that at some point in the past broke off from some larger group and decided to make their home far back in the jungle, away from other people, who probably persecuted them to some extent -- possibly for their belief in the idol that got the Harpers in so much trouble.”

Would it be worthwhile to try to encourage the tribe to migrate back to some more civilized area?”

I doubt it. I’m only passingly familiar with that particular tribe. That’s how I know something of their language. But from what little I know of them, they have no interest in ever returning to what we call ‘civilization’. They prefer to continue to live as they do, reducing life to its simple basics.”

Kent nodded. “I see,” he said.

Alberto,” Jimmy interjected, “What do you make of this so-called ‘Jungle Devil’?” Jimmy asked.

I didn’t really know anything about it until we were captured,” Alberto replied. “The natives in that village we were in seem to be great believers in it. They also believe that their idol protects them from it. I don’t know their idol’s name, since out of reverence for it they don’t speak it. But I think he’s related to Maximon, an ancient Mayan god of mischief.”

Kent, what can you tell us about this gorilla that you observed?” Dr. Harper inquired. “I’m very curious about that.”

Not much. He appeared to be an ordinary gorilla, of a fair size.” Kent thought for a moment, measuring how much he wanted to reveal. “I will tell you one thing that I thought was very curious—he was an albino. His fur was white.”

Harper shook his head. “That’s very strange,” he replied. “First of all, there are only supposed to be a few species of small monkeys known to inhabit this area. I never heard of any gorillas being in this part of the world.” He looked at Kent. “And as for your observation that it could be a semi-tame gorilla escaped from a circus, that’s highly unlikely. As far as I know they don’t have any circuses in this area. And very little civilization. The closest approximation of a civilized town in this part of Zinaya is hundreds of miles from here. At least. Maybe further.”

Harper ceased speaking for a moment, as if he was weighing his next comment.

The thing that also bothers me is, if this gorilla is an albino, that could indicate that it is some kind of genetic freak,” he continued. “That could mean that it may have other, uh, unusual characteristics other than its albinoism.”

Such as?” Kent asked.

Well, it could mean anything from its having a particularly bad temperament, to its overall body growth being affected.”

You mean, it could eventually grow bigger than it already is -- bigger than would be considered normal for a typical gorilla of its species?”

Yes, that’s what I’m saying,” Harper responded.

Golly, I wish Superman was here,” Jimmy lamented.

Suddenly, there was a frightened outcry from Mrs. Harper. She jerked upright and pointed to the outskirts of the camp that was shrouded in darkness by the surrounding trees. The flickering light from the campfire revealed that a good-sized jaguar was standing on the very rim of the firelight, looking at the assembled band of humans. For a moment it stood there and snarled angrily. Then it started to slowly advance closer to the group.

Normally a jungle cat would not approach a burning fire, but this particular specimen was extremely hungry, not having eaten for days. Thus it was now willing to risk the presence of the fire for a possible meal.

Hurd very carefully began to reach for his rifle that was lying on the ground next to him. Clark quickly assessed the situation. He knew that in a moment the jaguar would be dead once Hurd had the chance to bring his rifle to bear. Not wanting the animal to be killed, Kent focused his heat vision on one of the cat’s front paws. This caused the cat to suddenly jump up into the air in surprise, startled by the sudden pain in its foot.

Its nerve broken, the cat wheeled and quickly bounded back into the forest.

Everything’s all right,” Hurd announced. “Cats don’t like camp fires. That cat finally learned its lesson, and I doubt very much whether it will come back again tonight.”

The danger over, everyone started to settle back down.

Well, on that cheery note, I think I’ll say goodnight,” Hurd announced, standing up. “As for the sleeping arrangements, I think the men should sleep outside in the tent. The women can sleep aboard the airplane.

That sounds just ducky,” Lois commented lamely.

I also think we should also appoint a couple sentries for the night, to keep the fire going and keep a general eye on things,” Hurd added. He came over to Kent. “How about if I take the first watch,” he said to him. “You can take the second.”

Oh, no, Bill,” Kent replied, shaking his head. “I’LL take the first watch. You’ve had a long day, working on the airplane. Get some sleep.”

Are you sure?” Hurd answered.

Yes. Go,” Kent admonished him, pushing him toward the tent set up under the left wing of the plane.

Hurd shrugged his shoulders. “Well, if that’s what you want,” he said. He turned and went into the tent. A moment later he came back out with a rifle in his hands.

Here. You’ll need this,” he said, offering the weapon.

Uh, thanks,” Kent replied. Kent took the rifle, but as soon as Hurd reentered the tent he propped the weapon against the trunk of a nearby tree.

Won’t need that,” he whispered quietly to himself.

At this everyone stood up and made for their accommodation for the night. But as Lois passed by Clark, she took hold of his sleeve. Kent stopped and looked at her.

Something else you need, Lois?” Kent asked.

No,” Lois replied. “I just wanted to tell you, that was a really brave thing you did back at the village, going off into the jungle with those natives when you had no idea what they were going to do to you, just to keep the rest of us safe.”

Kent touched his glasses in a gesture of modesty.

Well, Lois, all I can say is, I didn’t have much choice in the matter,” he replied with a smile. “It was either one of us, or eventually all of us.”

Maybe. But you took the whole situation like a man. And I just wanted to tell you I really respect you for that.”

Thanks, Lois,” Kent responded. “That means a lot.”

After Lois walked away Kent got himself another cup of coffee from the pot over the fire, and then settled back down on the wooden box he had been using as a seat.

However, it wasn’t long before his acute hearing picked up some sounds coming from the jungle. It sounded like something moving through the underbrush. And it was getting closer.

Another jaguar, or similar denizen of the jungle? he thought.

Just then a native man plunged out of the forest and fell face down just inside the rim of the firelight. Kent jumped up and quickly ran over to him. He turned the native over and propped him semi-upright against his knee.

It was one of the natives from the Ketchi tribe! The man was panting heavily and severely out of breath. He had obviously been running at a breakneck pace through the jungle for some time.

Jungle Devil!” he blurted, looking into Kent’s eyes with a frightened stare. He pointed back in the direction of his village. “Jungle Devil!” he repeated.

The native had apparently heard the Harpers use that English term, referring to the gorilla that the Ketchis feared.

The native passed out from exhaustion and shock. Kent deliberated. It sounded like the albino gorilla had in fact returned to the Ketchi village. He gently laid the native back onto the ground. Then he got up and stepped into a dark area among the trees.

A moment later he reappeared as Superman. Effortlessly he lifted the unconscious native up into his arms.

And then, slightly bending his knees, he shot straight up into the darkness with his burden.

Good thing this native is still out he thought to himself, or he’d probably be more afraid of this method of travel then he was of the Jungle Devil!

Superman soared through the night sky over the Zinayan jungle, the unconscious native draped over one shoulder. Before long he came within sighting distance of the village he, Jimmy, Lois, and the Harpers had just recently left.

He came down on the outskirts of the small settlement, close to the same spot near the village idol where he, Lois and Jimmy had first found the Harpers. Once on the ground he laid the still-unconscious native down next to a nearby hut. Then he stopped for a moment to listen. Something was happening toward the center of the village, as he could hear various sounds that indicated that some kind of commotion was in progress.

He moved toward the source of the disturbance. Momentarily he approached a small clearing that served as the center of the village.

Natives there were running in every direction. The Jungle Devil was there too, pounding angrily on the wall of a native hut. Looking at him, Superman could swear that he was a full foot taller than he had been the last time they had met.

A screaming native woman ran out of the dwelling the ape was assaulting. The gorilla grabbed her.

Superman shot forward. A second later he was standing right behind the crazed gorilla. He reached around the ape’s body and grabbed both of his arms, which were holding the woman. With nothing but brute strength Superman forced the gorilla’s huge, hairy arms apart, releasing the woman.

The woman fell to the ground. Immediately she began to scramble away from the ape. Once she was able to regain her feet she ran away as fast as she could.

Superman released the ape’s arms and stepped back. The gorilla whirled about and tried to grab the Man of Steel. But Superman brought his own powerful arms up and knocked the ape’s arms apart.

In their previous encounter, Superman had done everything he could to keep from hurting the animal; he simply wanted to scare it away, not injure it. But this time he knew that would not work. This time the ape was too crazed to be scared off.

With that in mind Superman cocked back his right fist and fired a potent haymaker right to the point of the huge ape’s chin. The blow was so powerful it threw the ape backwards more than three yards, where the beast fell flat onto its back on the ground.

He did not get up.

The surrounding natives who were still close by ceased running when they saw that the Jungle Devil had miraculously been overcome. They stopped in their tracks and stared at the costumed figure who had just done the impossible: he had knocked out the fearsome Jungle Devil with a single blow.

The natives watched as Superman strode over to his vanquished foe. They watched as the caped man bent down and slipped both his hands underneath the ape’s body. With a mighty heave the superhuman man lifted the 400-pound Jungle Devil up over his head.

Then, with his mammoth burden held high, Superman bent at the knees and then -- to the utter astonishment of the natives watching -- leaped up into the air.

# # #

Superman soared through the air with the Jungle Devil held up over his head. He remembered from the plane flight from Metropolis over the jungle a few days before that there was a medium-sized mountain range not too far away to the east. He headed in the direction of that range.

Soon he was plummeting downward, approaching the ground below at the base of one of the mountains. A moment later he landed with his burden, planting his feet onto the soft earth there.

Carefully he lowered the Jungle Devil onto the ground. The ape was still unconscious, but not seriously hurt. Knowing that the ape was of the mountain gorilla subspecies, he was sure that the creature could survive -- and probably thrive -- in the mountainous area where he was being deposited. This fairly remote area was quite a distance away from the nearest human outpost, guaranteeing that the ape would likely not encounter or endanger any more humans during the remainder of its lifetime.

Superman waited until the gorilla regained consciousness, in order to make sure that the beast would be all right. As he waited he noticed, for the first time, that there was something attached to the ape’s right ear. He bent down and examined the object.

It was a tag. A tag of the sort that zoos and naturalists attached to animals in order to categorize and/or identify them. And there was a strange, stylish “X”-shaped symbol stamped onto the tag that Superman had never seen before. It appeared to be some kind of corporate logo.

The ape started to awaken, and it began to attempt to struggle back to its feet. Superman quickly moved away from it and leaped back up into the air.

# # #

Superman returned to the camp where Lois, Jimmy, Bill Hurd, Alberto, and the Harpers were. He retrieved his safari outfit from the brush where he had hidden it and resumed his Clark Kent disguise. He was just in time, for only a few minutes later Hurd approached to relieve him from his watch period.

After he had settled down on a cot inside the tent that had been set up next to the airplane for the men, Clark mulled over the situation concerning the Jungle Devil. He believed that he now knew how the ape had gotten into the Central American jungle: apparently he had been brought there by some mysterious corporation that identified themselves with the X-shaped symbol that he had seen on the ear tag of the gorilla. At some point he had apparently escaped his captors and wandered off into the jungle. But exactly who was this corporation? Where was the facility that the Jungle Devil had originally escaped from? Clark reasoned that it was a good bet that it was in the Zinayan jungle somewhere, not far from the native village that the gorilla had been terrorizing.

If he was going to find that facility, he would need some time away from the safari camp. But how to achieve that, without arousing any suspicions?

Suddenly an idea struck him.

# # #

The next morning Clark came out of the men’s tent after everyone else had already been up a while. As he made his way over to the morning campfire, he made a point of holding his lower back, and walking a bit unsteadily. Jimmy, Lois, the Harpers, and Alberto were already sitting around the fire, eating their breakfast. Hurd hovered over the fire, where he had set up a metal grille and was cooking some ham and bacon on it.

Jimmy looked up from his food plate. “Gee, Mr. Kent, don’t you feel well?” he commented, noticing Kent’s unsteady gait.

No, Jimmy, not very,” Kent responded. As he sat down Kent rubbed his forehead, as if he was suffering from a headache as well.

Here you go, Kent,” Hurd said, holding out a plate of ham and bacon.

No, thank you,” Kent replied, pushing the plate away. “My stomach’s a bit unsettled. I don’t want anything to eat right now.”

Hurd put the plate back on the grille and stood up, staring at Kent.

How about some nice hot coffee?” Lois offered, holding a cup out to him. She had the coffee pot in her other hand.

No, thank you,” Kent responded. For a moment his whole body seemed to shudder a bit.

Kent, I’m a little concerned about you,” Hurd told him. “If I’m not mistaken, you’re showing some of the classic symptoms of jungle fever.”

Kent didn’t reply. At this Hurd turned and walked over to the airplane and entered it. He came out a moment later with a First Aid kit in his hand, and strode over to Kent.

Let me check your temperature,” Hurd said, pulling a thermometer out of the kit. He placed it in Kent’s mouth.

Unknown to the others, while the thermometer was in his mouth Kent focused his heat vision on it for a moment.

When Hurd finally retrieved the thermometer, his eyes went wide.

Good Gosh, Kent,” Hurd exclaimed. “Your temperature is a little over 104 degrees! You’ve definitely got the fever!”

What exactly does that mean?” Jimmy asked, concern in his voice. “What can we do to help him?”

Jungle Fever is not too terribly dangerous, but he’ll need rest. Lots of it. And plenty of water. And we’ll have to isolate him by himself in the tent for a while -- at least 24 hours. Jungle Fever is very contagious!”

Hurd put his arm around Kent and helped him up. Kent acted as if he was totally exhausted.

I’ll put him to bed,” Hurd continued. “I had the fever not too long ago, so I’ve probably got more resistance to it right now than the rest of you do. Kent is young and strong. He’ll probably be able to sleep it off and recover on his own within a day or so, and be fine.”

Hurd carefully helped Kent back into the tent. A moment later he came out and picked up a jug of water, and went back into the tent with it. Then he re-emerged.

Now we’ll just have to wait,” he announced. “Hopefully he’ll be able to recover by the time the rescue plane finds us.”

Inside the tent Kent waited until he was sure no one else would come back in to him. Then he jumped up and started to strip off his safari outfit. Using a blanket from another cot he stuffed it into the clothing and arranged it on the cot under his own blanket, so it looked as if he was still there fast asleep.

Then, dressed as Superman, he pulled up the back flap of the tent and slipped out.

# # #

He hadn’t been flying over the jungle for long before Superman’s super hearing picked up an odd whirring sound that was foreign to the normal sounds of the jungle. Using his telescopic vision he was able to spot the source of the sound: a helicopter, traveling over the jungle a few miles in the distance ahead of him.

Superman focused his vision in on the craft. He immediately noticed that it had the same strange “X”-shaped symbol painted on its side that was on the Jungle Devil’s tag.

Superman swerved slightly and headed toward the aircraft. By the time he got somewhat close to it it was banking downward toward the top of the jungle foliage. It steadily slowed its descent, until it suddenly dropped into a small break in the trees.

Superman followed it down. After he had penetrated the upper tier of the jungle’s foliage he was able to land on the ground below amongst the thick undergrowth. Once there he could see sitting nearby a medium-sized, single-story building that was much too modern-looking to belong in the depths of the Zinayan jungle. The building looked to be prefabricated; it had probably been airlifted into the jungle in pieces, and then been quickly assembled.

No doubt this out-of-the-way location had been chosen, Superman surmised, because whatever was going on within its walls was probably illegal.

The helicopter landed on the building’s roof where there was a helipad constructed for its use. There appeared to be no one else about on the ground around the building, so Superman boldly strode up to it. The inhabitants of the building apparently felt that there was no need for perimeter guards, due to the fact that they were located deep in the jungle far away from any human observation. There was only one door located on the side of the building, and when he tried it Superman found that it was locked.

But since when was a locked door an impediment for the Man of Steel? With a powerful shove Superman pushed the door inward, breaking whatever lock had secured it.

Inside the building the Man of Steel found himself in what looked to be a large storage room. Though the room was unlit Superman could clearly see, thanks to his amazing superhuman eyesight. He noticed that along one wall there was a long clothes rack, and there were dozens of outfits hanging on it, all alike, that seemed to be some kind of worker’s jumpsuits. They all had the stylized “X” symbol on them as well as a number, and were light gray in color. Matching caps sat on the shelf above them.

Superman moved over to an inner door and stared at it. Using his x-ray vision, he was able to see a long corridor located on the other side. Along this corridor were many other rooms, each one marked with a nameplate identifying them. Many of them consisted of numbered laboratories. A few appeared to be other kinds of offices.

There were a number of inhabitants of the building walking up and down the main corridor. They all wore the same jumpsuits that were hanging in the storage room, but there were different-colored ones. The different colors seemed to designate various rankings within the building’s internal hierarchy. As far as Superman could tell, the jumpsuits in the storage room seemed to designate the building’s lowest rank, a basic worker. All the other jumpsuits were either red or blue, designating higher officials. And those officials wore no caps.

Superman turned about and walked over to the clothes rack, where he put on one of the jumpsuits over top of his uniform. Fortunately it fit loosely, making that possible. He grabbed a cap too. He also noticed there were boxes of surgical-type face masks on a nearby table -- so he put on one of those as well. The only part of his costume that now showed was the very bottom of his red boots. He hoped no one would notice this, realizing that most people rarely looked down at other people’s feet.

Suitably disguised, he opened the storage room door and stepped out into the corridor. Once there he noticed one other difference between his outfit and what everyone else was wearing -- everyone else had a military-style belt on with a holstered pistol. He hoped no one would notice that he didn’t have one.

He proceeded to explore the building, with the help of his x-ray vision finding numerous laboratories and caged animal subjects within its walls -- making it clear to him that the purpose of the facility was to perform genetic experiments on those animals (probably illegal in the outside world). By using his x-ray vision to read various papers and documents in some of the offices he passed, he was also able to learn that the corporation financing this operation was simply referred to as “X”, so as to maintain as much anonymity as possible. He also found out that the company had originally been located in a small European country, but had been outlawed there because of their experiments that had defied that country’s laws. That was when they had relocated their unethical work to the middle of the Zinayan jungle.

Hey, do I know you?” a senior official (judging from his blue jumpsuit and name tag) exclaimed from behind Superman. The Man of Steel stopped and turned around.

What’s your clearance code?” the officer questioned again.

Apparently, Superman thought, this particular officer DID occasionally look at other people’s feet! Superman had no answer for the man, so he just stood there, nonchalantly shrugging his shoulders.

The officer then reached out and yanked the surgical mask off of Superman’s face.

Guard! Seize this man!” the officer immediately shouted to an armed man with a red jumpsuit standing nearby, having instantly recognized that Superman was not an authorized member of the facility’s employees.

The red-suited guard rushed forward and grabbed Superman by the arm. Within moments another pair of guards came running from down the hallway and did the same.

Take him to the detention room!” the senior officer ordered. The three guards pushed Superman roughly down the hallway to a room that had bars on the entrance instead of a traditional door. Superman did not resist. The guards quickly unlocked the barred door and shoved Superman inside.

Superman waited calmly while another official was summoned via a small radio unit and microphone that was attached to the shoulder of the blue-suited officer. Momentarily the summoned official appeared. He was wearing a yellow jumpsuit. This was the first yellow jumpsuit that Superman had seen. And the officer had the number “1” on his suit. This suggested that he was the senior official of the facility.

The man stared at Superman through the barred doorway.

Who is this man?” the officer demanded.

He’s definitely not one of us,” the blue-suited officer replied. “He must be an intruder.”

Who are you?” Officer One said, this question now directed at Superman. “How did you get in here? Where did you come from?”

Superman did not reply. Once again he just shrugged.

We can’t take any chances,” Number One continued. “Shoot him. Then have his body buried out in the jungle somewhere in an unmarked grave.”

Number One watched as the three guards all pulled their side arms and aimed them at the Man of Steel through the barred door. Without any further ceremony all three fired their weapons.

Superman calmly put his hands on his hips and just stood there as the pistol fire filled the front of his jumpsuit full of holes. Completely unharmed, he shrugged at the guards again, smiling at them.

What is he wearing, a bulletproof vest?” Number One yelled. “Shoot him! Shoot him again!”

Puzzled at this, the guards nevertheless opened fire again. This time their repeated firing completely ripped apart Superman’s jumpsuit, revealing the bold red and yellow “S” on his chest.

Once the guards had completely emptied their weapons at him they just stood there in shock, not knowing what else to do. At that point Superman came to life. He ripped off the remnants of his gray jumpsuit, completely exposing his costume. Then he threw off his gray cap and grabbed hold of the barred door. With a surge of super-strength he ripped the heavy door off its metal hinges, and then threw it aside. He stepped out into the corridor.

At this the blue-suited officer turned and bolted. One of the guards who had a rifle (which was now empty of bullets) grabbed it by the barrel and swung it at Superman’s head like a club, but Superman caught the weapon in mid-swing and ripped it out of the guard’s hand. Then he brought his knee up and broke the rifle in half over it. The guard, now totally nonplussed and as an act of utter desperation, threw a punch at the Man of Steel. But Superman immediately blocked the blow with his left arm and swung his own right-handed haymaker at the guard’s jaw. The man crumpled, going down like a rock.

Another right and the second guard went down. Superman hit the third guard square in the stomach with his left fist, doubling him over. Then he belted him with a right uppercut that sent him flying halfway across the corridor.

The yellow-suited officer finally recovered himself from this turn of events and took off down the corridor. Superman went after him. As he pursued Officer Number One down the corridor other red-suited guards tried to engage him along the way, but Superman easily knocked them aside.

Some distance down the corridor Number One yanked open a side door and entered a room marked “Building Management”. Inside the room a crew member dressed in gray (who was sitting in front of a panel that covered one entire wall) immediately stood up and saluted.

We’ve got to release Specimen #105!” Number One yelled at him.

The panel operator looked shocked. “But sir,” he replied, “that particular specimen is extremely dangerous! We’re not supposed to let him loose in the building under any circumstances!”

The higher officer impatiently pushed the other man aside, then twisted a couple of dials on the control board that were marked “Specimen #105 Enclosure” and “Release Cage Lock.” As soon as he had done this he turned and bolted out of the room, back into the outside corridor. He scurried down the hallway as fast as he could run.

Seconds later Superman came upon the same Building Management room. He had seen Number One make a detour into it, so he paused a moment and stepped into it to investigate.

When the gray-suited crew member manning the station saw the costumed Man of Steel, he jumped up from his seat and pulled out his sidearm. But before he could use it Superman grabbed the weapon away from him. He casually squeezed the pistol into a shapeless mass of metal, and then disdainfully tossed it aside. Grabbing the crewman by the chest of his uniform with one hand he lifted the surprised man up off his feet, where he effortlessly held him a foot up off the ground.

What did that man do who just came in here?” Superman said in a tone that demanded an answer.

He -- he released one of our animal specimens from its cage,” the crewman replied in a shaky voice.

Not certain why that was important, Superman threw the man hard against one wall of the room, where he collapsed in an unconscious heap onto the floor. Superman pivoted and exited the room, to resume his pursuit of the facility’s leader.

Shortly, though, Superman stopped in his tracks. He heard a strange, guttural snarl emanate from around a bend of the corridor that was just ahead of him.

The sound quickly got louder, accompanied by a strange scraping, shuffling noise. Something that was not yet in sight was approaching from the other end of the corridor.

Something big. Very big.

Abruptly that something appeared from around the corner. An involuntary expression of both surprise and revulsion crossed Superman’s face.

He had never seen such a repulsive creature before in his life.

The animal that was now standing in front of him blocking the corridor was (or at least at one time had been) a gorilla. But because of some kind of tampering with its genetic makeup, it was currently what one would (very kindly) refer to as a monster. It was a head or two taller than a conventional ape, making it close to eight feet tall, and its face was a twisted distortion of what it should be. The creature had only one large eye in the center of its forehead. Its snarling mouth was full of crooked, irregularly placed teeth. And instead of a uniform covering of fur over its body it had numerous large bald spots, with occasional tufts of scraggly reddish hair. Its legs were crooked and of unequal length -- this caused it to awkwardly lurch side to side back and forth across the hallway floor rather than walking normally.

But the weirdest part of the misshapen creature’s physical makeup was the fact that it had not two but three arms. There was an extra arm underneath its right one. And all three were huge, muscular, and extremely powerful looking.

This ape-like giant resembled a “devil” far more than the simple albino ape that Superman had encountered before in the Zinayan Ketchi village.

The huge monstrosity shambled toward the Man of Steel, its three huge paws outstretched in an effort to grab hold of him. Superman countered this move with his heat vision, directing it in a beam aimed at one of the gorilla’s three paws.

The ape stopped abruptly and howled in pain. It grabbed its injured paw with the other two, trying to soothe it. As it did so it bent over slightly. This action brought its head down far enough so that it was momentarily within Superman’s reach.

The Man of Steel then let loose with a powerful uppercut that caught the gorilla right on the point of its chin. There was a loud “thwack” as the mighty blow connected. The genetically-altered monster fell over backwards onto the floor with a thud.

It did not get up.

Superman approached the pathetic creature and stared down at it. Despite its horrificly distorted body, he felt sorry for the poor animal. It hadn’t asked to be experimented on by amoral, irresponsible human scientists, any more than the Jungle Devil ape back in the Ketchi’s village had.

This kind of immoral, illegal experimenting has to stop Superman thought angrily to himself. He turned and headed back toward the Building Management room that he had just been in. When he got there, he found the crew member he had just fought still lying unconscious on the floor. Looking around he observed a shortwave radio hookup in one corner of the room. He went over to it and activated it. Using it he notified military authorities in Costa Arena about the illegal activity going on there, and supplied them with the approximate location of the facility.

That done, he studied the huge control panel that covered one entire wall. He quickly figured out how to release the locks on all the animal enclosures located in the building. After he had done this, he noticed a special red panel under a plastic cover that was labeled “Building Self-Destruct”. Apparently the owners of the facility had included this function in the construction of the building as an emergency last resort to be used if the building ever happened to be discovered by the wrong people, so that in such a case all traces of what they were doing there in the depths of the Zinayan jungle could be completely erased.

Superman flipped open the plastic cover and activated the panel. He set the timer on the device for thirty minutes, figuring that that would be enough time for everyone (animals included) to safely evacuate the building.

Almost immediately a mechanical-sounding voice boomed throughout the intercom system in the building, stating that the destruct mechanism had been activated, and that all personnel had thirty minutes in which to vacate the building. This initiated an immediate and well-trained exodus of the building’s inhabitants through the main corridor of the building toward all the exits. Once outside the facility’s crew quickly scattered throughout the surrounding woods, as they also had been trained to do.

After about fifteen minutes had passed, all the animals in the building were released from their cages, and they came scurrying out of the building as well.

It did not take very long for the building to be completely evacuated.

Superman stayed behind inside the structure to make sure that everyone was out of the building. The thirty minutes went by quickly.

When the thirty-minute mark was finally reached there was a gigantic explosion from somewhere deep inside the lab building. As a result of this the building quickly imploded in on itself, just as it was designed to do -- and a huge mushroom cloud of black smoke rose up over the jungle foliage.

Some crew people, who were hiding behind some trees but still close enough to witness the destruction of the building, were astonished to see a human figure casually stride out of the twisted, burning wreckage. A red cape flapped wildly in the super-hot air churning around him. He seemed to be totally unharmed by the flames and the collapsed debris he had just quit.

Frightened by the sight of this superhuman demigod nonchalantly strolling out of the burning conflagration that was all that was left of the destroyed lab facility, the lab’s crew people all turned and quickly ran off into the dense jungle.

# # #

The next morning Lois Lane, back at the safari campsite, got up from where she had been sitting in front of the campfire.

It’s been about 24 hours,” she announced in a determined voice. “I’m going in to see how Clark is doing.”

I wouldn’t,” Bill Hurd warned her. “To be safe I’d wait until he’s well enough to come out of the tent on his own.”

It’s been long enough,” Lois replied. “I’m going in.”

She stopped at a nearby basin of water and soaked a cloth in it, intending to use it to cool Clark’s forehead if necessary. Then she boldly strode into Kent’s tent.

Inside the tent she found Kent sitting up on the side of his bunk.

Clark!” she cried in amazement. “You’re up!”

Yes,” Kent replied. “Actually, I feel pretty well now.”

He got up from his cot. Slowly he started to head out of the tent.

Lois followed him. “Look who’s back from the dead!” Lois announced, once they were outside.

Kent!” Hurd exclaimed. “You’re up!” He looked Kent over. “You look pretty normal too!”

Everyone crowded around Kent and took turns expressing their relief at what seemed to be his complete recovery.

Wait!” Jimmy suddenly interrupted. “What’s that sound I hear?”

Everyone looked up. In the distance they could see a military helicopter coming right toward them.

It’s the military authorities from Costa Arena!” Hurd proclaimed. “They finally found us!”

The helicopter came closer and closer, until finally it settled down to a landing in the clearing right next to the group’s disabled airplane. Once on the ground a number of soldiers jumped out of the copter and strode over to the jungle wayfarers.

Greetings were happily exchanged, and the soldiers assured everyone that another helicopter with half a dozen mechanics was also on its way, to help repair their stranded airplane.

As everyone in the safari group hurriedly scrambled to get their belongings together for the trip back to Costa
Arena Kent approached the copter pilot.

I understand from reports over our radio that you also just discovered a building in the jungle not far from here where they were conducting some kind of illegal experimental activity,” Kent told him.

Yes,” the pilot replied. “We got an anonymous tip about it just a little while ago. The building was blown up, and the people that had built it had scattered throughout the jungle. But we’re searching for them now. We expect to have them all corralled before too long.”

Kent nodded his approval.

# # #

Twilight was beginning to settle over the jungle as the officer known as Number One stumbled along through the jungle undergrowth. Many of his colleagues had already been rounded up by soldiers from Costa Arena, but so far he had been able to elude them. He was sure that the lab people that had already been caught would no doubt tell the authorities everything they knew in order to save their own skins. As a result, if he was captured, he would no doubt go to prison for a very long time. Thus he simply could not afford to be taken into police custody. He had to escape.

Determinedly, he moved on through the jungle.

But before long he stopped. What was that strange sound that he could now hear that was coming from somewhere nearby? Somehow it sounded strangely familiar.

A moment later he realized what the source was. To his utter horror the genetically-altered three-armed ape that he had been experimenting on back at the lab facility was now standing right in the center of the trail in front of him.

He pulled the pistol from his belt and began firing desperately at the hulking creature, who was now advancing on him, snarling viciously. But either the beast simply did not feel the bullets, or he was so enraged that he did not care that he had been repeatedly wounded. He kept coming.

Then Number One’s pistol ran out of bullets.

The last thing Number One saw was his creation’s huge head and slavering jaws hovering right over him.


Posted: January 21, 2024

"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"