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by Kirk Hastings

(A "Lost Adventure" of Superman that takes place right after the events of "Superman On Earth")


The soldier at the wheel of the large canvas-covered military freight truck yawned. He glanced over at his partner, who was dozing in the passenger seat. The sun was just coming up over the horizon as the driver tried to clear the cobwebs from his head. He had been driving now for over eight hours, and it was almost time for his partner to take over driving for a while.

The truck was loaded with handguns, rifles, and hand grenades, on their way from a military installation in upper New York state to Fort Dix in New Jersey. The long trip had been uneventful so far. But that was about to change.

The truck was on a stretch of rural highway somewhere south of Trenton when the driver spotted what appeared to be a wrecked car sitting sideways in the middle of the road. The entire driver's side of the vehicle was smashed in, and it was still smoking.

He jammed on his brakes. Waking his partner up, the two jumped down out of the truck and ran over to the wrecked car.

The truck driver poked his head into the driver's side window of the car, to see if the vehicle's occupant was still in it. Suddenly he felt the touch of cold steel on the back of his neck.

"Don't move a muscle, pal, unless you want to lose your head," came a gravelly voice from behind him.
Slowly he turned around to face the barrel of a pistol just inches away from the end of his nose. The man holding the pistol was big, wide-shouldered, and brutal looking, wearing a dark suit and a fedora that was pulled down over his face.

# # #

Shortly thereafter, the two gangsters and the truck full of commandeered weapons were speeding along Highway 206 through the wild and sparsely populated area known as the Pine Barrens in central New Jersey when they became aware of a sound that was getting louder and louder, now starting to overpower the noise of the truck's engine.

It was a sound that criminals in the tri-state area had recently learned to dread -- the sound of rushing wind.
There was a heavy thump on the roof of the truck's cab. The gangsters both looked at each other, fear now on their faces.

Suddenly, something ripped the roof of the cab back like peeling the cover off a sardine can. A muscular arm dressed in tight blue fabric reached into the cab and grabbed the man in the passenger seat by the scruff of his neck. The gangster's head was then forcibly banged against the cab's passenger door, and he went out like a light, crumpling into a heap in his seat.

Panicked, the driver kicked open the driver's side door and jumped out. He hit the ground and rolled over and over in the sand by the side of the road, finally coming to a stop against the trunk of a tree. He looked up.

A powerfully-built man in a red and blue costume was now holding onto the driver's side door of the truck, his legs braced and his feet skidding across the road. Within a few moments the truck came to a halt.
His breath now coming in short gasps, the gangster hauled himself up from the ground and began to run toward the nearby woods. Every bone in his body hurt, but he ignored the pain and forced himself to stumble onward through the underbrush.

Suddenly there was that sound of rushing wind again. Abruptly, the costumed man who had brought the truck to a halt came leaping down out of the sky, landing directly in front of the fleeing gangster.
A fist came at his face. That was all he remembered.

# # #

Inspector Henderson of the Metropolis Police Department responded with a grunt to a knock on the door of his office. So far it had been a busy, hectic day, and he had a feeling this newest interruption was not going to be good news.

An officer walked in. "Here's that report you wanted, Inspector," the officer said, laying a piece of paper down on Henderson's desk.

Henderson looked the paper over. As he read his eyes got narrower and his brow furrowed.

"Are you sure this is accurate?" he growled, not looking up.

"Yes sir," the officer replied. "Every word."

"Get outta here," Henderson barked. The officer turned and left. Henderson stared at the report in his hands. "What kind of baloney is this?" he mumbled to himself. "A man in a red and blue costume rips the roof off a speeding truck, knocks out the two crooks who had hijacked it, and then disappears without a trace!" He shook his head back and forth. "Is this a police crime report, or a Captain Marvel comic book?" he lamented to no one in particular.

# # #

Clark Kent came into Daily Planet editor Perry White's office and crossed over to the older man's desk.
"You wanted to see me, Chief?" he said.

"Yes," White replied, looking up from his desk. "Did you see this police teletype report about the hijacked army truck?" He took the cigar he had been puffing on out of his mouth and held up a piece of paper.

"Yes, as a matter of fact I did," Kent replied.

"What does this sound like to you?" White asked him.

"Another appearance of that 'Superman' character from the airport?"

"Right. That's what I was thinking too. I want you to follow up on this. You were lucky once in getting a scoop about this mysterious costumed super-whatever-he-is. Maybe you can do it again."

"I'll see what I can dig up," Kent assured him. With that he turned and exited White's office.
No one noticed the slight smile on his face as he proceeded down the hallway.

# # #

A short while later reporter Lois Lane opened the door to Clark Kent's office and poked her head in. "You might want to hear this, Mr. Kent," she said quickly. "Your 'buddy' Superman is on the radio!" She retreated and disappeared down the hallway. Kent jumped up from his desk and followed after her, headed to the city room.

As he came into the room, he found young cub reporter Jimmy Olsen and the rest of the city room staff standing around a radio, listening intently to it.

The stentorian voice of Carlton Avery, Metropolis's favorite mid-day radio news reporter, was booming out of it: "Who is this mysterious 'Superman' who comes and goes without warning or announcement, and, with incredible more-than-human strength, destroys trucks and violently collars criminals without any help or authorization from the police? ... We can be grateful that so far, this superhuman being, whoever -- or whatever -- he is, seems to be on the side of the law. But how do we know that he will remain so? Where did he get those weird powers of his? Where is he from? And what do our law enforcement officials intend doing about his continuing acts of unauthorized vigilante-style 'justice'?" Kent involuntarily winced at that last statement.

Then, after a slight pause, Avery changed his tone. "This just in!" he announced. "An apartment building on the north side of town, on West 76th Street, is on fire. Police and fire officials are cautioning all traffic and pedestrians to avoid this area, while they attempt to get all the residents of the building to safety! More on this as it comes in!"

Jimmy turned to make a comment to Kent, but he was surprised to notice that the reporter had already disappeared.

"C'mon, Jimmy -- grab your camera and let's go!" Lois exclaimed. She tugged on Jimmy's coat sleeve and dragged him out of the room behind her. He had just enough time to snatch his camera on the way out.

Meanwhile, Clark Kent was just ducking into a deserted storeroom down the hall from the city room.

# # #

The five-story building was almost engulfed in flames by the time Jimmy and Lois got there. Jimmy started snapping photos as soon as they were able to get past the police barricades, by showing their press passes. A pair of firemen were nearby, pumping water into a first floor window out of which flames were belching.
Lois stood nearby, staring up at the burning building's upper floors.

"Look!" she shouted to Jimmy. "There's someone up there!"

She pointed to a third story window, where a shadowy figure could be seen moving around behind a drawn shade. Jimmy snapped another photo. But when he lowered his camera, Lois was already running toward the building's entrance.

"Miss Lane! Come back!" Jimmy shouted. It was too late. Lois was already inside the building, bounding up the stairs just inside the entrance. She had gained the second floor and was preparing to go up the stairway to the third floor when she noticed that the way was blocked by flames. She turned around to backtrack, but then she discovered that the first floor stairway was now engulfed in flames too!

# # #

Two firemen stood crowded together at the very top of a hook and ladder truck's extended ladder. One was directing highly pressurized water from the hose he held into a second floor window. The second fireman was hoping for a chance to get close enough to the window to climb into it, but so far he was about a yard too far away to make the jump.

Suddenly, both men jerked backwards as something flew by them at a high rate of speed and dived into the window.

"What was that?" the first fireman exclaimed.

"I don't know!" his partner replied. "But it looked like a man!"

Indeed it was a man -- Superman! He landed on the floor inside the second story window and quickly looked around. Bringing his super sensitive hearing into play, he heard movement from the floor directly above. Bending down into a crouch, he launched himself powerfully upward.

In the room directly above, a young woman was frantically trying to get to the window of her room, but flames were blocking her way. She had been taking a nap when the fire started, and by the time she had become aware of the fact that she was in serious danger it had been too late to get out of the room, as the third floor hallway had been already engulfed in flames. But now she found that she could not get to the window either.

Suddenly a human form came crashing up through the floor, and a man in a red and blue costume appeared in the room with her! Taking no time for introductions, Superman grabbed the young woman around the waist and leaped out the window with her. The woman closed her eyes, deciding that she must be in the arms of a costumed madman who was committing suicide and had decided to take her with him.
But a moment later, amazingly, they both landed safely on the pavement far below. A fireman came over and gingerly took the woman from Superman's arms, all the while staring wide-eyed at the caped figure. The woman promptly passed out in his arms.

Superman spotted Jimmy Olsen standing nearby, yelling Lois Lane's name. He ran over to the cub reporter.
"Where is she?" Superman asked him.

Jimmy gulped at the sight of the costumed man. "She -- she ran in there!" he indicated, pointing into the building. Superman whirled and ran straight into the building, despite a fireman yelling to him to stop.
Inside Superman found the building to be almost completely involved. He looked up at the ceiling. Utilizing his amazing x-ray eyes, he looked through the ceiling to see Lois Lane slumped on the floor in the upper hallway, apparently overcome by smoke. So far she did not appear to be burned. Again he bounded straight upward, crashing through the floorboards to the upper landing.

Once there he scooped Lois into his arms. Then he turned and leaped through the hallway window with her, out into the open air. Once again he landed softly on the pavement below, where he deposited Lois gently onto the ground near Jimmy, who came rushing over.

Jimmy bent down and examined the still-unconscious woman reporter. "Is she all right?" he asked, looking up at Superman.

"She'll be fine," Superman assured him, smiling. "She just inhaled a little smoke, that's all."

Just then two police officers approached. They both hauled their service revolvers out and pointed them at Superman. "Don't move!" one of the officers, an older man, barked. "You're under arrest!"

Superman looked at them, one eyebrow going up. "Under arrest?" he said, puzzlement in his voice.
"Y-yes," the second officer, a somewhat younger man than the other one, nervously replied. He appeared to be a newer recruit on the force.

"On what charge?" Superman asked.

"Damaging public property, practicing law enforcement without authorization, trespassing, vigilantism," the older officer snapped. "And we can probably think of a few others!"

"Officer, this man just saved Miss Lane and another woman from that fire!" Jimmy protested, pointing to Lois, who was still lying on the ground.

The look on the younger officer's face softened. "I know," he said quietly, as if his heart really wasn't in what he was doing. "But we have our orders. Once he's been questioned down at headquarters, perhaps this can all be straightened out."

"Straightened out my eye!" the older officer protested. "We don't cotton to people taking the law into their own hands in this town!"

Superman shook his head at this. Without a word he bent his knees and jumped up into the air.
Both officers and Jimmy just stared as the caped man disappeared into the sky.

# # #

Inspector Henderson was sitting at his desk reading police reports and trying to mind his own business when a sudden whooshing sound made him look up.

The latch on the large window of his office suddenly came loose, and its two panels suddenly swung wide, opening up. A moment later a body came hurtling through the opening to land with a thump on the floor next to Henderson's desk.

The cop jumped up from his chair and backed against the wall. "Great Scott!" he shouted in surprise.
Standing before him was a tall, muscular man, wearing a strange red and blue outfit. A long red cape hung down his back, and there was a stylized "S" symbol on the front of his shirt. For a moment the two just stared at each other.

"Who are blazes are you?" Henderson finally managed to blurt. "How did you get in here? We're on the 3rd floor!"

"That's not important," Superman replied. "Why did you issue orders to have me arrested? I'm on your side!"

As it became apparent that the costumed marauder was not going to harm him (at least not right away), Henderson's nerve started to return. "We've got laws in this town!" Henderson retorted. "We can't have just anybody decide that he's going to go out onto the streets and capture dangerous lawbreakers without being properly authorized first!"

"Well, authorize me, then!" Superman shot back.

Henderson's eyebrows went up. "Authorize you? I don't even know who in Sam Hill you are!"

"Surely you've read about me in the newspapers. I'm the one they've been calling Superman!"

"Yeah, I've read those stories. Up until now I thought they were just media bunk!"

"Well, they're not. As you can see, I'm real!"

"You're real, all right -- but I still don't know what you are."

"I'm a human being, just like you are!"

Henderson laughed ironically. "A human being? Last time I looked, no human being I know could rip truck cabs apart and fly through the air like a bird!"

At this Superman had to smile a bit. "I admit, I'm not your ordinary run-of-the-mill person," he replied. "But I'm not a threat to you either. Or to anyone who obeys the law. I'm on the side of the law."

"Am I supposed to just take your word for that?"

"For the time being, yes!"

Henderson's expression softened a bit. "Well, I have to admit too that so far you have helped us -- more than once," he conceded. "But I can't authorize you to do anything. That would have to come from a higher authority than me."

"What about the President of the United States?" Superman asked.

"Sure, I guess that would do it," Henderson replied.

"Then I'll get him to authorize me," Superman said. He turned and headed back toward the window.

"Wait!" Henderson yelled. "What about until then? In the meantime I can't just let you go around involving yourself in police business without permission!"

Superman smiled good-naturedly at him. "Try and stop me," he said.

With that, he leaped out of the window and was gone.

Henderson went over to the open window and stared out of it, shaking his head.

"No one will ever believe this," he mumbled to himself. "They must be putting too much caffeine into my coffee!"

# # #

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was working in the Oval Office when he heard a strange sound from just outside. Putting down the papers he was looking at he swung open the office's French Doors that led to the Rose Garden just outside.

"What's going on here?" he asked. He observed two of his Secret Service agents, their guns drawn, confronting a strangely-costumed man.

"Mr. President, get back inside sir!" one of the agents shouted. "We have an intruder!"

"Mr. President, I'm not an intruder!" Superman insisted. "I'm the one the newspapers have been calling Superman, and I'm here to see you on a matter of great importance!"

Eisenhower's ability to quickly assess a situation and immediately decide whether danger was or was not present had been greatly honed by his experiences in the war -- and, despite the visitor's odd appearance, he felt no impression of danger or menace from this brightly-clothed individual.

"Wait!" he ordered. The President looked over Superman's form-fitting suit. "He's obviously not armed," he said with a half-smile. "Let's see what's on his mind first."

The agents lowered their pistols, but still stood between Eisenhower and his visitor.

The President looked at Superman. "How do I know you are the one the newspapers have been talking about?" he asked.

"Well, first of all, I got this far without being discovered, or stopped!" Superman replied.

"That's true," Eisenhower admitted.

Superman looked around. There was a metal rake lying on the ground near one of the gardens. He walked over and picked it up. As he did the Secret Service agents nervously lifted their weapons again.
Superman put his palms up to show that he meant no harm. Then he hefted the heavy rake and slowly bent it into a twisted pretzel.

Both Eisenhower and the agents looked astonished.

Superman threw the mangled rake away. "I'm on your side, sir," he said sincerely. "I'm on America's side. Furthermore, I'm on the side of whoever believes in law, order, fairness, and justice. I have dedicated my life to those goals, and I need your aid to help defend them."

Eisenhower thought for a moment. "Come in," he finally said, indicating his office. The Secret Service agents looked like they didn't know what to do. "Remain here," the President told them. "If I need you I'll call you."

Superman followed Eisenhower into the Oval Office. Once inside, the President sat down behind his desk.

"Now, what can I do for you?" Eisenhower asked.

Superman remained standing. "I want to use my superhuman powers to defend truth, justice, and the American way, sir," Superman replied. "I can do a great deal of good with my abilities. But without some kind of official sanction, I cannot work side-by-side with local law enforcement the way I want to. I want to cooperate with proper authority, not fight against it. I was hoping you could do something about that."

"Where are you from, son?"

Superman smiled. "Well, to be honest, I'm not exactly sure," he said. "I was found abandoned in a field by the couple that ended up adopting me, and I grew up on a farm in Kansas. Beyond that I don't know a whole lot about where I originally came from, or how I got my special powers. All I know for sure is that I made a promise to my father before he passed away that I would use those powers to battle evil and injustice, and to help those who are oppressed and in need. I intend to keep that promise, sir."

"I believe you," Eisenhower replied. He thought for a moment. "I could put this before Congress, but they'll probably bandy it back and forth in their usual manner for God knows how long. And there's no guarantee that, in the end, they'll give you what you want. But there's another way."

Superman looked quizzically at him.

"I can issue an Executive Order fully authorizing you as a duly-deputized agent of the law, which will give you the right to work with law enforcement agencies all across the country, in every state."

"That would do it, sir."

"I'll get to work on it right away."

The President stood up, reached across his desk, and shook Superman's hand.

"Do a good job, son," Eisenhower said. "We need more Americans like you, especially in these troubling times. I'm counting on you to bring us the help we need."

"Thank you, sir," Superman replied. "I won't let your trust in me go to waste. I promise."

Eisenhower smiled. "Somehow, I think you're the kind of man who keeps his promises," he said. "God bless you."

Superman turned and walked back out into the Rose Garden, where the two Secret Service agents were still waiting. With a final wave to the President, he leaped up into the air and was gone. The Secret Service agents just stood there, their mouths hanging open.

"Gentleman, I think we've just seen the beginning of better days for this country," Eisenhower told them. "Possibly the world." With that he went back into his office.

# # #

Kent had not been back at his Daily Planet office long when Jimmy Olsen came rushing pell mell into his office.

"Hi, junior!" Kent said. "I understand you met this Superman person earlier today!"

"Jeepers, Mr. Kent, I sure did!" Jimmy said excitedly. "I saw him fly and everything! It was incredible!"

Kent glanced down at the front page of today's Planet in his hands, which had just come off the presses. The story of the fire and Superman's appearance there was the headline story. "I see you got some photos on the front page too!" Kent added. "Good job!"

Jimmy beamed.

Then Kent noticed another smaller article in the lower right-hand corner of the front page. "I Flew With Superman" read the headline. The byline underneath it read "By Lois Lane". Kent couldn't help chuckling to himself.


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