Front Cover
TAC Table of Contents
Contact Information

The Mysterious Cube — Epilogue

by Tom Nichol

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

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: In reading this story, it’s important to remember that at the time this episode as filmed, the penalties and legal procedures involved were somewhat different than they are now. With that said, I hope you enjoy my efforts!]

A week had passed since the events concerning a huge, mysterious cube had culminated in the arrest of master criminal Paul Barton, his younger brother Steve, and their assistant Jody Malone. The cube had been constructed by unknown means for the express purpose of housing Paul during his seven-year bid to be declared legally dead, thereby enabling him to escape prosecution for a number of criminal charges on both the State and Federal levels, including espionage. The plot had failed, however, when Superman had successfully persuaded Federal authorities to temporarily speed up the time signals from the atomic clock at the Arlington Naval Observatory to the point that the clock inside the cube was ten minutes fast when Paul had finally emerged from the cube, thereby allowing his arrest on the grounds that he had been found while he was still legally alive. The Barton brothers, as well as Jody Malone, were now housed in the maximum security area at the Federal Penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The whole affair was now being discussed at Perry White’s office at the Metropolis
Daily Planet. Perry, Lois Lane, Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, and Inspector William J. Henderson of the Metropolis Police Department were talking over the capture of the three criminals in an attempt to determine how best to follow up on the story of the three men’s arrest. Jimmy brought up the first major point. “Why are these guys being held at Fort Leavenworth, anyway?”

Perry White, a trained lawyer as well as the owner and publisher of the Planet, explained: “You need to remember, Jimmy, that Paul Barton stands accused of a number of Federal as well as state-level offenses, including espionage. By assisting him in his bid to escape prosecution, his brother Steve, as well as Jody Malone, have legally made themselves his accomplices. The legal term for that is, ‘accessories before, during, and after the fact’. As a result, they’ll face the same criminal charges—and penalties—as Paul Barton himself!”

“They’ll be tried on the Federal charges first,” Henderson put in, “by mutual agreement between the U.S. Attorney’s office and our own local District Attorney’s office.’

“How come?” Lois inquired.

“I’ll bet I can answer that one, Mr. White!” Jimmy piped up.

“And just what would that answer be, Mr. Olsen?” Perry shot back with a slight smile, raising an eyebrow at the same time.

“Because the Federal penalties are stiffer than the State penalties—at least, in this case!” the young cub reporter replied.

“Oh, come on, Jimmy!” Lois scoffed.

“No, Lois, our Mr. Olsen is exactly right on this one!” her employer responded. “It’s a standard practice in such cases to prosecute whichever offenses carry the harshest penalties first, whether they be State or Federal.”

“The Federal penalty for kidnapping the two of you alone is death by electrocution,” Inspector Henderson added, “and so is the penalty for espionage!”

Lois and Jimmy, who had been kidnapped by Steve Barton in a desperate effort to force the Man of Steel not to intervene in the case, nodded grimly in response. The attempt had failed, however, as Superman had rescued the two of them more than an hour before Paul Barton had emerged from the cube.

Jimmy, who was an amateur scientist, brought up the next remaining point: “What about that cube, Mr. White? Did they ever figure out what it was made of?”

Perry White, an amateur scientist in his own right, answered, “Not to my knowledge. Clark, did Superman have anything to say on this subject?”

The disguised Man of Steel shook his head glumly. “I’m afraid he’s as much in the dark as the rest of us, Chief,” he replied.

At this point, Inspector Henderson added, “Much as I hate to say this, I’m afraid it’s extremely doubtful that we’ll ever find out. Clark told us that Steve Barton told Superman that the scientist who devised the alloy that cube is made of ‘isn’t with us any more.’ Subsequent investigation indicated that the Bartons not only murdered the poor man, but destroyed all of his research notes on the subject as well! For national security reasons, the FBI has taken charge of the cube and its contents. While there was a small amount of the acid Paul Barton used to burn through the cube so that he could escape, the FBI feels that it won’t be much help, if any, in determining the alloy’s composition. Superman himself told us that even he might never be able to solve the mystery – and, as you probably know, his father, Jor-El, was the greatest scientist that Krypton ever had! Nuff said?”

The others nodded.

“So what happens next, Perry?” Lois asked, beginning the process of winding up the conversation.

“The case will still have to go before a Federal Grand Jury, Lois,” her boss replied. “Once the appropriate indictments are handed down, the case will be scheduled for trial. I’m hoping the charges against all three men will be consolidated, so that only one trial will be held. One thing you can be sure of however: The case against all three of these schmucks is air-tight. Whether they like it or not, they’re headed for a date with a Federal electric chair!”

That was exactly what happened. Despite the best efforts of their defense lawyers, Paul Barton, Steve Barton, and Jody Malone were tried on a variety of Federal charges, including murder, kidnapping, and espionage. The jury took less than an hour to convict all three men, who were then firmly sentenced to death. A year after their conviction, after all of their appeals had been exhausted, Paul Barton, Steve Barton, and Jody Malone all died in turn in Fort Leavenworth’s electric chair, thus bringing the case of the mysterious cube to a close.

Posted March 3, 2020

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