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Written by MalloryDyatlov59 :: [Saturday, 16 December 2023 11:57] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 16 December 2023 23:03]

This story which is a sort of "Bonus Feature" from the FanFicTHE SUPERWOMAN FROM KRYPTON: THE ETERNAL COURSE - SuperWomenMania takes place in September 1948, chronologically between chapter 4 and chapter 5. It was not originally planned to include it but even though the FanFic is finished it seemed interesting to narrate what a normal day in the life of Clara Kent/Superwoman was like and the influence it could have on the lives of ordinary people. It's completely contextualized in the narrative but can also be read as a separate piece. I also have added extra scenes on chapter 2 (at the end), on chapter 3 (during the interview between Superwoman and Louis Lane and on chapter 5 (on the beginning). I hope you like it

The illustrated FanFic can be also downloaded on PDF on Epub in the following links



SWLiterari(I).pdf - Google Drive


SUPERWOMAN.epub - Google Drive



Diah didn't know what time it was in Metropolis, even she thought about it every time she came back from the typing school while she checked again and again the Dutch magazine that had fallen into her hands, where a thousand and one rescues of that wonderful woman in a red cape called Superwoman appeared. Her parents did not like the clothes of the flying lady. Aditya told her that Superwoman could shoot lightning and fire out of her eyes. Several people in Jakarta had seen her. Her friend Endah thought that she was a lying demon, and that demons liked nothing better than to take the form of a lovely woman. Kusno, the doctor's son, claimed to have seen her flying through the sky as he traveled by boat between Java and Sumatra. For a long time, she had wished to cross paths with Superwoman and see her at last, knowing that the superheroine had been to many places in Indonesia to aid people during fires, typhoons, or outbreaks of violence, but nothing had ever happened in her small town…until now that Diah prayed and prayed that she would appear and help them.

The typhoon hit hard and unexpectedly. They had invited neighbors and cousins to stay in their brick house, which was raised slightly off the ground in case of flooding. There were nearly twenty people in their small house. If the storm continued, there would soon be none. They knew that the wind had taken away the second floor with its tin roof, and bricks had poured down the stairs. Outside they could hear a terrible wind and a steady rain. Water was coming in through the doors and boarded windows, up to their knees. About twenty people, including eight children, were shivering, and sitting on the table or sofa. She and her father struggled to keep boards nailed to the window. Through a crack, though the wind and water hurt her, she could see the water from the river overflowing and the tide outside the house almost reaching the windows. As soon as the water level rose a little, the water would knock down the boards and the wall would give way, it would be the end. Diah tried to hold back her tears and continued to help her father.

From the stairs, which they knew would lead nowhere, water continued to fall in torrents. And a howling wind that sounded like the roar of a monster. That's why Diah didn't hear the footsteps. She didn't turn around until she heard a murmur of astonishment and a muffled scream. It couldn't be her. There she was. It was her. The wonderful woman came down the stairs almost sheepishly, smiling. Her hair was soaked, but she was much prettier and stronger than in the pictures in the magazine... which had now flown upstairs with all her stuff, along with the typing manual. Her outfit was bright red and blue, it didn't look wet. She looked like a goddess from ancient legends. And there she was, on her house’s stairs.

She spoke to them in knotty Dutch that no one understood but her and her father a little.

-I Help...I take you shelter in hill!

Diah nodded, her eyes were filled with tears of emotion. The wonderful woman in the red cape smiled back at her and walked over to the children, picking two up in her arms and disappearing in a second, leaving a red and blue blur. She appeared and disappeared, picking up her siblings and cousins, her grandmother and aunt, then her.

-Hang on!

She felt herself wrapped in a red cape and transported through a kind of blurry tunnel that hurt her eyes. Suddenly she felt herself being set down on the floor of the school on the hill, which was brick built and far from the river. The building was crowded with people. She looked around for all her family members, and there they were, still surprised and relieved. Then the wonderful woman appeared with her father. Diah ran to her with one of the five sentences she knew in English.

-Thank you! Thank You! Thank you!

The woman in the red cape smiled at her and squeezed her arm affectionately before disappearing.


Through the window they could see the wonderful woman in her red cape flying through the air, bringing tin roofs and metal plates that she placed on the windows to protect them from the wind. Diah managed to gaze through a crack in the window. The woman flew into the sky and seemed to be flying in circles at full speed, creating tornadoes high above them, something she had never imagined. She saw red lights and fire in the whirlwinds. She could see them near but also far away. The spectacle was incredible, it lasted for a few minutes…then the rain began to subside and so did the wind.

She proudly approached Endah, who was frightened and covered up with a blanket next to her parents.

-See, Superwoman is no demon!


Clara landed on the roof of her tenement and opened the glass trapdoor. It was starting to get light. She had rented precisely that apartment, though it was very small and old-fashioned and had a shower that barely worked, because it was the only one she had found for the money she could afford that had an opening in the roof which she could discreetly use.

She descended gently. Krypto woke up, gave two soft barks and jumped on her. Clara stroked him lovingly. The dog went back to sleep on his pillow. She went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Her Superwoman outfit was spotless and shiny as ever. Any dirt that fell on her suit came off easily as it flew off at the slightest speed, but she was a mess. Her naturally slightly curly hair was all tousled and dirty. She had sand and mud behind her ears. How much work the hurricanes and typhoons were giving her! She took off her Superwoman outfit, which looked like a strange and colored second skin, and had a quick shower. In a few seconds she got her office clothes ready: a light pink suit, a white shirt, a light blue silk scarf, a little pink hat to go with the suit, and a beige coat that didn't really go with the suit, but she only had three coats and she had to save on clothes.

The truth was that Clara Kent had lost a lot of clothes since she became Superwoman, at least for what it cost to dress like a serious journalist in Metropolis. At the very least, she had lost a dozen office outfits, four pairs of glasses, three coats, including an expensive light blue one Louis had given her, and two or three purses. But considering that she changed from Clara Kent to Superwoman twenty or thirty times a day (she once counted fifty in a single day), perhaps her clothing retention rate was a success. Still, it was a lot of money. Usually, when the call of duty caught her at home or at the Daily Planet, she could take off her clothes and store them in a safe place. At the Daily Planet, she often used the file or storage rooms. But when the urge to become her alter ego caught her on the street or in a less familiar place, things were more difficult. First, she would leave her clothes and purse in a mess, hidden anywhere: in the false ceiling of a phone booth, on a ledge, on a rooftop, on a fire escape, behind a toilet cistern, even under a car. She had lost many clothes in this way. Other clothes she had lost because of her nerves, her fear, or her carelessness while transforming: she had torn them with her super-strength or disintegrated them while flying at super-speed. A year after she started flying as Superwoman, she found a system: she always carried a stretchable military canvas bag in her purse, in which she put all her civilian clothes and her purse when she transformed, then hid it discreetly at super speed on the nearest rooftop or in any corner she could think of. Since then, she'd lost fewer clothes, except for the light blue coat she loved which she couldn't remember how she'd lost. She rarely carried cash, and as Clara Kent she always hid her identification documents in a discreet, barely visible compartment on the right leg of her Superwoman costume; if someone found the bag with all her things, they could never link it to Clara Kent, but so far that hadn't happened.

She always wore the Superwoman outfit under her everyday clothes. It was so thin and comfortable that she hardly noticed it. And the sleeves and cape could be folded up perfectly with almost no bulk, so no one would detect she was wearing it underneath. If she wanted to wear a short dress, all she had to do was fold it up and wrap it around her stomach and waist. Sometimes she fantasized about Louis ripping her shirt apart with a snap, revealing the red and gold crest of the House of El on her chest and her blue tights.

Oh Louis, you stupid, stupid man…

Clara lay face down on the bed. She would try to sleep for half an hour. She usually needed an hour's rest a day. Sometimes more, sometimes less. That night, she had done a lot of work around the world. She had calculated that she spent almost 12 or 13 hours of her day as Superwoman in her red cape, one hour of sleep, and the rest she tried to devote to her workday (although she usually lost half of it to her superheroic activities) and to some company and reading, whether it was with Louis, in Smalville with her mother, Krypto's walks, or a quick tea after the office with Lucy and Jimmy.

With half-open eyes, she looked at the four photographs on her bedside table. One was of her with her parents, when she was a tall, gawky teenager with awful glasses, on the porch of the Kent farmhouse. Another was from the newspaper. They were celebrating Christmas in 1946. She, Lucy, Jimmy, Ronald Troupe, Steve Lombard, Louis and, to her chagrin, Katz and Cat Grant, but she liked that picture because she and Louis were looking at each other. Then she had another one of her graduation at the Mary Ann Day Brown High School in Smalville, with Pete and Lana...sometimes she felt a little melancholy or a twinge of anger that they had ended up together, but they were two good people, both had helped her a lot, even if Pete had never understood her origins and superpowers. Clara barely spoke to them anymore, but she still considered them her friends. The largest photo was of Louis, dedicated. They had exchanged dedicated photos at Christmas '46. She gave him a small studio portrait of herself in a hat and mink coat. Clara didn't like the photo because the glasses were a little foggy and she thought she looked silly. She had dedicated it: Gratefully for everything, Clara Josephine Kent to Louis Lane, December 1946. Louis had given her a picture of him in a tuxedo smoking a pipe: From Louis J. Lane to Clara J. Kent, wishing many years of absurd arguments along with you.

What am I going to do with you, Louis, how difficult everything is.

She postponed the alarm to sleep, even if it was three-quarters of an hour instead of thirty minutes. Another day of work awaited her.


Frankie "Consti" Costanzelli sighed in the elevator as his colleagues discussed the strike with the building surveyor. It was inevitable that a strike would be called against the construction company for failing to comply with arbitration awards and for being almost five months behind in wages due to inflation. It wasn't stupid, $20 or $30 more a month would change a lot of things. Consti did the math in his head, the cost of his daughter's wedding, the car payment...the car that his idiot little son was driving too much of...well, he had survived the Great Depression, that really was terrible. A whole year and a half out of work, doing odd jobs. He and Sarah almost emigrated to California.

The surveyor went on.

-If there's a strike, even though I'm not unionized, of course I'll go on strike, but I know the company's numbers. A two- or three-day strike and they will negotiate. But you can only ask for half of the back pay because the company has no more. The whole labor budget is out of balance. They told me upstairs.

-This is the company's problem, not ours," Sabisch insisted. To Consti, Sabisch was a bit of an agitator and too young to understand how the union and negotiations worked.

The elevator doors opened, and they found themselves facing the ramshackle floor of the skyscraper, the bare beams, the fences...they were building the Hudson Tower, which would join the Empire State Building and the TELCORP Tower on the Metropolis podium. Consti had always been proud of the buildings he had worked on as a foreman.

The surveyor stood beside him.

-I still don't understand how we managed to keep these things standing.

Consti squealed.

-Chief, if you don't understand, we're in bad trouble because you're the construction manager.

The surveyor laughed.

-I mean... I understand the laws of physics, but sometimes they seem crazy to me.

-I feel sorry for you. I couldn’t care less about the laws of physics. There's a flying woman who defies them a little bit.

Every day they saw Superwoman flying back and forth. Sometimes she looked like a bird or a plane, sometimes she was just a red and blue blur, many other times they had seen her pass by very close and she had waved back at them effusively. Consti couldn't get used to it. It seemed like something completely magical and crazy. But whoever she was, she was a good girl, and she was helping, even if Sabisch said she could become a "tool of oppression," get back to your books, Sabisch, kiddo.

Ollie Bruce approached him. They had worked together on the same work crews for over twenty years. They were good friends and neighbors. When they first started working, they were put on separate crews because Ollie was black and he was white, but fortunately that was a thing of the past.

-Consti, it was very windy tonight, the new beams were half riveted, some bracing needs to be done. I'll tell the surveyor.

-It's still a little windy, but no big deal, it's what we have to do. We've seen worse things.

Consti, Ollie, the surveyor and four other workers put on their helmets and harnesses and approached the last beam. Consti and the surveyor made a small jump and the beam moved.

-This is a piece of shit.

In front of them, the crane was manipulating another beam that was swinging too much in the wind.

-Hey, what's that idiot doing?

-Thompson, who's on the crane? Harris or Snopek? Tell him to stop being an asshole. You can't use the crane in this wind.

The wind had picked up, drowning out the voices. The beam supporting the crane swung closer and closer.

-Idiot! Move it!

-Let's get out of here.

The six men tried to cautiously file back to the safety of the platform, but the dangling beam struck the corner of the beam where they were standing. The beam shook and creaked. Consti watched in horror as the surveyor and Ollie fell into the void. Barely a second later, the beam gave way and he and the others fell to the ground.

Consti fell face up, for a split second feeling a strange relief at not seeing the ground, and for another he thought of his daughter and her wedding. Then he saw, or rather felt, a flash of red and blue light and soft arms that also only lasted a split second. He felt a huge tidal sensation, as if the world was spinning, and then he was gently lowered to the cold ground. Above, he saw the huge metal beam falling towards him at full speed, then a figure wrapped in a shiny red cape seemed to slow it down and grab it. The beam gave off a huge metallic vibration and seemed to bend. The figure in the red cape began to descend, holding the huge beam with a single arm. She landed a few feet away from them and set the beam on the ground, the caped woman let out a huge sigh. For the first time, Consti looked to his sides; his five companions, including Ollie and the surveyor, were all safe and rising from the ground.

Superwoman approached them.

-Are you all okay?

They all nodded shyly.

-Thank you, Superwoman," Ollie muttered.

-No one needs a ride to the hospital? I don't think anyone's broken anything. You shouldn't be working with the crane in this weather," Superwoman said seriously, but with a slight smile.

Consti kept feeling his chest to make sure he was in one piece. Superwoman approached him and held out a helmet in a very friendly voice.

-I think your helmet came off Sir, here it is.

Consti looked at her. She was an enormously kind, blue-eyed beauty.

-Thank you, Miss El.

-Thank you for calling me Miss El! I really don't like being called Superwoman at all...,” the superheroine lowered her voice and told him in an accomplice voice. Then she walked away.

-Be very careful, I always try to be around, but please be careful and have a nice day," the woman in the red cape shouted as she slowly levitated...then she soared into the sky at full speed, making a deafening noise like a balloon popping.


Jimmy Olsen was pouring coffee from a thermos to the people around the table where sports reporter Steve Lombard III, twirling his mustache, was describing a baseball game.

-And the idiot batter screwed up his last strike by looking up while Superwoman was flying…

-OK, now we know Superwoman hates the Mets," Ronald Troupe joked.

-I don't think Superwoman has ever thought about the Mets," Lucy Weiss asked acidly.

-Have you seen the joint defense organization of France, England, France and Belgium?" interrupted Clara Kent.

-I'm sure Mailer and Cat would be happy to discuss it with you, Clarybelle," Lombard replied dismissively.

Clara glared at Steve Lombard from behind her thick glasses. Lombard stubbornly kept calling her Clarybelle and trying to take her out to dinner. She always refused, except one time when she wanted to make Louis jealous, but it was a disaster. Lombard was a presumptuous idiot.

-I believe they also want to discuss your friendships with you," Clara inquired mischievously.

Lombard laughed loudly.

-Clarybelle dear, people make friends in baseball or football without having any idea who they're talking to. Mailer in his neighborhood has probably sat with more mobsters than I have in my life.

Jimmy noticed Clara's hostile look and smiled at her, she smiled back and rolled her eyes as if to say, "I know Lombard's an idiot”.

Louis Lane walked out of the office he shared with Clara and leaned against the door. As always, he was impeccably dressed in a blue-gray double-breasted suit and a dark green tie. Jimmy noticed Louis and Clara searching each other's eyes.

-Lombard, be careful, every day you sit with these people you are closer to being victim of a police raid...or worse, a Superwoman raid,” Louis said in a jovial tone.

-I would love to be arrested by that flying beauty, Louis, I should learn to put myself in real danger like you do,” Lombard replied.

Clara continued to look at Louis, whose expression had become more somber.

-I stumbled only once," Louis replied, now with false sympathy.

Jimmy could see Clara's eyes narrow as if in disbelief at Louis' words. Lombard took a sip from his coffee cup and continued to ruminate.

-She's a beautiful, Superwoman, but she's still a woman...imagine a being with that much power during a period of hysteria or with the ups and downs you girls have," Lombard tried to give Clara an attractive smile.

-For whatever reason, Superwoman saves the world every day without a problem, and she is a woman, and Adolf Hitler was a man," Lucy Weiss replied.

-You can do better than that, really it was a poor answer," Lombard countered.

Louis sighed.

-She's not a human woman, so whatever her feelings, desires and faults are, they won't have much to do with ours. Don't worry...or rather...worry very, very much,” Louis began to laugh at his joke, but Clara looked at him almost angrily.

-Coffee, Mr. Lane?” Jimmy asked.

-No thanks, just cold drinks as usual,” Louis smiled.

-Can I get you a nice scotch? Lombard joked.

-Give me an hour and a half to acclimate.

Louis approached Clara and took her by the arm with an affectionate gesture. Everyone looked at the scene with some surprise, Louis was not affectionate with anyone, but with Clara he behaved with excessive closeness, she also with him…although today she seemed angry.

-When are you leaving for the orphanage?

-In half an hour.

-Are you going to adopt a child?” Lombard asked amazed.

-No, I'm going to write an article on a real estate developer who wants to evict an orphanage with seventy children.

-Classic Clara Kent piece," Lombard replied.

-Do you have time for us to look at something from yesterday's bum raid that Jimmy photographed?” Louis asked.

-A bum raid?

Jimmy interjected.

-Yes, Miss Kent, last night, surprisingly. They hadn't done that in five years. They took homeless people off the streets.

-Someone from the newsroom should accompany you on your nightly forays, Jimmy, it can't be that no one can write about last night’s story now. Can you tell Clara briefly what you saw so she can type it up? Clara, if you can stop by the police station this afternoon and confirm the story, we should get an article out for tomorrow.

-Of course," Clara said, adjusting her glasses.

-This mayor doesn't know what to do to win the elections, he's unbearable,” Louis sighed.

Jimmy could see how Clara now took Louis' arm with affection and said in his ear "you're not going to have a whiskey now, are you?" "No, don't worry, it was a joke" "Oki douki, a joke, don't even think about touching a glass".

The three of them entered Louis and Clara's office. Louis took off his jacket.

-Well Olsen, unwrap your story… Clara after lunch you must go to the police station. This takes priority over the orphanage, at least for this week.

Clara sat down at the typewriter and winked at him.


The criminals were getting more and more fucked up and original, Agent Hallam thought as he readied his weapon. The road narrowed. There were five police cars chasing two vans, now several hundred yards ahead of them, from which occasional shots were fired.

The Bat seemed to be a Gotham thing, though he sometimes appeared elsewhere, but since Superwoman, the woman in the red cape, and then Flash, the scarlet speedster from Chicago, had appeared, though crime had dropped dramatically...but whoever was left was becoming more violent, more devious, and their plans more intricate. The new criminals tried to be quiet, they used guns with silencers. They planted bombs at one end of the city while executing their plan elsewhere. They took hostages and human shields in silence. It was always about not making noise, not setting off alarms, taking hostages, and sometimes using extreme violence. Both the police and the three superheroes had filled the prisons, but every now and then real madmen, like the ones they were after, would show up.

Hallam wasn't quite sure what the story was, but apparently some bastards had been quietly taking civilian hostages one by one in different parts of the city during the early morning. They had posed as gold or diamond buyers and had taken the hostages into Chicago's main bank. They had used pistols with silencers and managed to get the guards to surrender or shoot them. Not a sound, not a scream, not a loud shot. Whoever they were, they knew the bank's alarms. Three tons of gold. And they had fled, leaving two dead, six wounded, and taking five hostages. The police had found out too late. And Superwoman and the Flash hadn't heard about it or were otherwise occupied. By some miracle, the police had spotted the vans and were now chasing them as they fled.

Hallam preferred the speedster Flash. He was more normal, he was a friendly man, he just ran, and he was somehow strong, but not very much, nearly a human. Hallam distrusted Superwoman. Too strong, flying, too many powers. His partner Kowalsky laughed at him and said he mistrusted her because she was a woman. That wasn't true. If there was such a powerful man, Hallam thought, he would react the same way.

Hallam was in the car closest to the vans. So far, they hadn't taken any bullets. Carefully, he drew his pistol and began firing at the wheels of the vans in front of him. He had no idea how they were going to help the hostages.

Lieutenant Morrison's car passed them. The lieutenant was their boss, he had opened the door and was standing on the running board of the car, firing at the vans all the time. To their surprise, the back door of one of the vans opened with a bang, and two gangsters were loading a heavy machine gun while third gunman held a pistol to the head of a woman, a hostage. What in heaven...

The machine gun started firing, the police cars tried to zigzag. Hallam ducked under the dashboard as the car window exploded. Lt. Morris let out a scream of pain and was thrown off the running board onto the road. One of the two gangsters grabbed a megaphone and yelled, "Stop or this woman will be killed”. They fired again from the machine gun. Two cars were knocked out. Hallam didn't know if the lieutenant was still alive. Kowalsky was still driving with his head under the wheel. Hallam lifted his head and fired out the window at the van as the criminals reloaded the machine gun. Fucking bastards.

Then a red and blue blur passed in front of him. The woman in the back of the van disappeared, and the man holding her down, with a gun to her head, was ejected onto the roadside. Almost at the same time, the machine gun shot out of the van, being shattered into pieces in the air by a strange heat beam. The two vans were surrounded by a red and blue blur that moved everywhere. The drivers of the vans were also blown away. Two men with rifles jumped out of the van and tried to rise from the ground and shoot at Hallam's car, but something knocked them to the ground. Kowalsky tried to brake the car before they crashed into the empty van, which was now moving chaotically.

-We're going to crash!!!

Hallam opened the door and was about to jump out when something slammed the door shut, pushing him inside. The car seemed to levitate swiftly just a couple of feet away before slamming into the van. Then it descended gently. A woman with tousled jet-black hair and deep blue eyes, wrapped in a red cape, appeared beside them.

- Are you all right, agents? I sincerely apologize for the delay.

Superwoman's voice sounded afflicted. From the rest of the police cars, the other agents got out and ran to the vans. The criminals writhed on the ground as the policemen slapped handcuffs on them. Some tried to flee across the fields near the road, but Superwoman brought them back and threw them at the feet of the police. One who had been hiding in one of the two vans tried to open fire, but Superwoman instantly snatched his rifle and split it in two before his eyes. Two officers lifted Lieutenant Morris from the ground, bleeding profusely from one arm. Superwoman pulled the hostages from the vans and comforted them. Several gold ingots were scattered across the road. Hallam ran to his lieutenant.

-Lieutenant... how are you?

-Damn it! I got two or three bullets in my arm,” groaned the lieutenant.

Superwoman levitated gently upon them.

-I'll get him to the hospital right away…Lieutenant, let me give you tourniquet and I'll take you to Chicago, I can drop you off at the hospital in two minutes…please give me your ties…

Hallam took off his tie and held it out to the superheroine, who gently removed the lieutenant's tie as well, using both to apply a tourniquet to the officer’s arm.

-Was anyone else hurt?

One of the hostages was crying inconsolably as one of the officers tried to calm her down.

-What is it?” Superwoman asked worriedly.

-Her son...she is very worried about her son, a boy, he was in the bank with her during the robbery...she is afraid he is hurt.

Hallam interrupted.

-We have no information on any injured children, I'm sure he's fine.

Superwoman tried to comfort her.

-I'm taking her to Chicago right now with the Lieutenant, she needs to see her son as soon as possible.

Superwoman grabbed her arm and walked over to the Lieutenant and also grabbed his uninjured arm.

-I'm sorry I was so late...I had no real way of knowing...please forgive me...I'll try not to let it happen again.

Superwoman grabbed the woman and the lieutenant and took off with them at full speed, losing herself in the firmament.

Hallam looked at the two vans with the doors open and the gold scattered ingots, the four hostages still terrified and eight criminals in custody, some slightly injured.

What a hellish morning.

Kowalsky tapped him on the shoulder.

-It could have been a lot worse, we got them...and the hostages are safe.

-Fucking crazy bastards.

-Thank God for that woman.

Hallam nodded with a sigh.


Louis drummed his fingers on the table as he drained his glass of Spanish white wine. The Chalet Suisse was an elegant but discreet restaurant. An elegant couple, whose names Louis couldn't remember but who were very close to Senator Ives, greeted him by raising their glasses and Louis returned the gesture.


Clara's almost shouting voice startled him. He stood up immediately. There was Clara, almost sweating, with her handbag, her everlasting notebook, and her foggy glasses.

-Don't worry, my dear.

-I'm half an hour late! Forgive me, my morning schedule has collapsed.

Louis smiled warmly at her while he noticed a tender look behind the journalist's blue eyes. Louis took off her coat and told the waiter to take it to the checkroom.


-Louis...I never drink.

-Well, I hope you'll try a drop sometime.

-Sparkling water.

Louis motioned to the waiter and ordered another glass of wine and a sparkling water.

-I'll have a Wiener schnitzel with truffles, and you?

-I don't know, I think I'm in the mood for some vegetables.

-Whatever you prefer. How was the orphanage?

Clara twisted her face.

-Too emotional? Louis asked again.

Clara sighed and looked wistful.

-They're great kids...and their teachers and caretakers do a great job with them. It's a dirty trick what they want to do to them, a real dirty trick.

-The mayor's office says there are plenty of slots in other orphanages and it's okay to kick them out.

-Louis, they are used to this place, they have their teachers, their is their home for most of them, unfortunately. It's a shame they want to kick them out.

Louis took her hand.

-Let's go after the mayor for this. The developer they gave the building to is Bert Allen, a historical donor to these people's campaigns.

-I did a little research... Bert Allen's partner is a donor to the other party and a classmate of Norris, the opposition candidate.

-Don't look at me, I'm voting for the maverick conservative who's barely getting 15% in the polls. Both the mayor and Norris look like a pain in the ass to me.

Clara sighed again.

-Poor kids...

Louis took her hand again.

-Write a good article, it's the best we can do for them. Let's scare the mayor and the donors. One of the two candidates would have to promise not to touch the orphanage, and the election is close.

-The kids asked me if we could contact Superwoman.

Louis laughed cynically.

-Clara, dear, regarding this issue we can do a lot more for them than Superwoman can.

Clara smiled at him.

They ate in silence. Clara looked at him out of the corner of her eye.

-So... how is the campaign going?

-Mmm... it's going to be close.

-Are you tense, Louis?


-In a few months it will be over, fortunately...

-You look a little sad, Clara, are you fine?

-Yes, of course.

-Are you really fine?

-Yes... I just went through some situations this morning that...


-Tough situations, Louis, tough.

-This city sucks... but any European capital is worse today.

-The city doesn't suck, that's not what I meant.

Louis tried to strike a jovial tone.

-Well, Clara, we're leaving for Innsmouth the weekend after the election.

Clara blushed and looked down at the floor.

-I want to book two rooms for our upcoming “talk and walk”, so we don't run out of good hotels,” Louis insisted.

-But you always say there will be no one this time of year!

Louis made a silly clownish gesture and smiled at Clara.

-Yes, I'd go this weekend if it were up to me," Clara finally replied.

-Clara, let’s wait until the campaign is over.

There was a tense silence between them.

-Emily, how is she?

-She's very well.

-She's still in her Superwoman fan phase?

-Yes, she won't take off her red cape even to go outside or to sleep.

Louis noticed a slight twinkle in Clara's eyes.

-Well, that's normal... ....

-Yes, I suppose it is. She's a six-year-old girl.

-And Pat?

Louis was slow to answer.

-She's fine. Pat is great. The events of the world don't pass her by. Nothing upsets her. She is the perfect stoic. She has reached the total intersection of Epicureanism and Stoicism. She should write a book on philosophy," Louis said in an ironic tone that carried a certain bitterness.

-Was she always like that?

-Yes, it's her main charm.

Clara looked down at her plate. Louis took her hand again.

-Don't think about her.

-Which police station should I go to about the bum raid last night? Clara tried to change the subject.

-Jimmy said he saw it all over the financial district and Hell's Kitchen, so you've got all three stations in the area to start with.

-If they listened to me at any of them... What would they have done with the homeless?

-Put them on a train to New Jersey or Philadelphia, or put them in shelters and some in dungeons. Just stupidity on the part of the city government to pretend that the mayor is taking care of the city when practically everything is already being done by Superwoman.

-Superwoman only volunteers for public order and first aid,” Clara countered seriously.

Louis laughed loudly, and several guests at other tables turned to them.

-I have never heard anyone describe Superwoman's activities so amusingly...anyways.

Louis called the waiter back and asked about desserts.

-...and we have our special dessert for the third anniversary of the presence in Metropolis of our dear Superheroine, the Superwoman Blueberry and Raspberry Cake.

-Uh, the name disgusts me, but the flavors really appeal to about you Clara?

Clara had a certain tired look in her eyes...

15.20 (GMT-5) BERLIN

Ullrich tried to walk slowly along the sill. He knew that behind the corner there was an already open window of the other section of the building, through which he could enter and run to the rooftop. The old woman from whom he had stolen a few old and inconspicuous pieces of jewelry was crying inconsolably and calling for help from behind the window through which he had just escaped. He had not touched her. He never would have touched her. Ullrich had pulled out the knife just to frighten her, and the old woman had burst into tears.

Ullrich stuck to the dating wall and walked slowly, it was a fifth floor, one of the few more or less intact fifth floors left in Berlin. He had to be in the Soviet zone in an hour to deliver the proceeds of the two robberies to Arno and to secure two or three more days of food and a warm mattress for him and his brother.

The night was cold and dark. Almost the whole city was in darkness. During the last hour he had seen the flying American woman several times, carrying huge containers on her shoulders. Ullrich counted the hundreds of planes that supplied the western area every day and the number of different containers that Superwoman carried. Arno said that breaking the blockade was bad business for them. Ullrich didn't care. He didn't care about a lot of things, he just wanted to make sure he and his brother were safe. Superwoman brought in two dozen huge containers a day, much larger than the planes, the size of small ships... But where was this woman when his parents were killed in a bombing raid? And where was she when the Germans did those terrible things that Arno claimed were lies, but he suspected were true? To hell with the flying woman, the Russians, the Americans, Arno, the English, the French, the rest of the Germans, the old woman crying over the jewelry she had stolen... Ullrich only cared about his brother Jonas, who was barely ten years old.

The front wall was frozen, he felt cold in his chest. He clutched the cloth bag with the jewelry tightly, ignoring the old woman's screams. But to his misfortune he soon heard whistling and murmuring in the street, kaput. Three auxiliary policemen and a French officer tooted on their whistles and ordered him to stop as they entered the building. Go to hell, you bastards. A few more meters and he would enter through the other window, he would have to run fast to get to the roof before the cops. One more step, two steps even. But he slipped. He never slipped before. The second step he took was misjudged and he slipped. He couldn't hold on to anything on the cold, smooth wall and he fell into the void, kaput.

He felt himself embraced from behind and a bright red cape wrapped around him. The police were still whistling and yelling. He was still floating, but somebody stopped hugging him and moved on to grab him by the neck.

-For God’s sake! You are a kid!

The woman was screaming in English, but he more or less understood. Ullrich found himself face to face with this damn flying woman holding him in the air. He felt a strange sensation because she had beautiful blue eyes and a very pretty face...she looked like a movie star. She was wearing the strange outfit with a red and gold "S" on her chest.

The woman gently flew over and dropped him on a rooftop several blocks away.

-Give me the jewels,” The flying woman spoke good German.

-No," Ullrich replied firmly. The woman grabbed his shoulder.

He felt a quick pinch in his hand, and without noticing when or how, the woman in the red cape held the cloth bag in her hand and looked at him sadly.

-Stay here, I want to help you, please...I'll return this to its owner, and we'll talk.

The woman walked away, and Ullrich yelled a "go to hell, bitch" in English so the damn woman could hear him as he jumped to the other rooftop.

He was already on the other building when he felt his arm being grabbed.

-Please...," the woman said again in German.

-Leave me alone! Why don't you turn me over to the police?

-You are a child! Why are you doing this? Where are your parents?

Ullrich laughed mockingly.

-Why am I doing this? Where are my parents? Look around you, you bastard. Stupid.

Superwoman looked at him sadly.

-No need for insults...I want to help you, I won't turn you over to the police...Do you want me to take you to a shelter?

-A shelter! Fuck you! You fucked me up good! Because of you, Arno is going to kick me and my brother out tonight! I'm fucked!

-You have a brother? Where is he? Who's going to kick you out? Who is this Arno?

Ulrich wanted to burst into tears, but he looked defiantly at the woman, her red cape was floating in the cold light breeze. Her arms were crossed, and she looked at him with sadness and understanding, like a mother.

-Tell me," The woman insisted.

-Arno is my boss...I have to bring him things...and he lets me, and my brother…and more children sleep in a warm building. He feeds us. We must work for him. If you fail and he doesn't throw you out, he gives you to the Soviet police, who put you in terrible orphanages.

-Do you live in the Soviet zone?


-Tell me about your brother, and Arno, what's your name?

Without knowing why, Ullrich told her his whole story, since the death of his parents. How he looked after his brother. How Arno found them and put them to work. To make petty thefts, to sell things, to act as a courier. How Arno was a smuggler between all the occupied zones, bribing the police. His center of operations. How Arno stole morphine with the help of children and nurses. What Arno did to some teenage girls he gave shelter to. How Ullrich just wanted himself and his little brother to be safe, that they had an aunt in Stuttgart, but they couldn't leave Berlin. Superwoman listened with a look between sadness and anger behind her blue eyes.

-I'll tell you what, Ullrich...let's go see the Army Chief of the American Zone. Now he knows me and trusts me. Let's go get your brother and I'll take you both to him, put you in a safe place so the army will send you to Stuttgart. The general will do it as a personal favor. In return, you will tell him everything you know about Arno and his crimes, and where he does what he does, so that he can be stopped.

The woman spoke to him kindly, she almost convinced him, but then he looked at her carefully... who the hell was she? And why should the occupying authorities care about him? It was all the same, he could end up sleeping on the street again...if they arrested Arno, they would know it was him...Arno would be out of jail in no time and could do something terrible to him and his brother. No, kaput.

-No, leave me alone.

-But you said Arno would throw you out...

-I'll be fine, I’ll manage it.

-Let me help you.

-No, I don't trust you, and they'll probably separate me and my brother. He'll be sent God knows where, and I'm almost of age. No, I'd rather make it on my own.

Superwoman tried to smile at him, but a tear rolled down her cheek.

-I'll tell you what. Let's go to the Soviet Zone right now and get your brother. I'll take you back to the American headquarters. You'll tell Arno's story, and then I'll fly you to Stuttgart tonight myself. We will look for your aunt, or I will leave you there with the authorities. They would not send you back to Berlin and you would be safe from Arno no matter what.

Ullrich thought about it for a while...and then nodded in approbation. The woman gave him a big smile in return. She grab him by his arm.

-Hold tight! Let’s go! Up, up and away!


It was already dark in Metropolis. The wind had died down. Clara gathered her things in the office. Maybe she could rest at home now or fly to Smalville…or maybe not. She liked to go home by bus or subway like a normal person, but she couldn't always afford it, too many work to do.

-Four eyes, you look tired today, you look like you have six eyes,” Bob Mailer's bitter voice sounded behind her.

-Hi Bob, good to see you too.

-What are you doing here so late?

-It took them a while to get back to me at the police station about the bum raid last night and I had to finish the article.

-Oh, that's right, I heard something. The drunken Irishman who rules us is incapable of not doing funny things with the police.

-You could try, just try, not to make horrible comments about people and your prejudices, at least not all the time.

-The mayor is Irish, isn't he? And he's a drunkard, right? Those are two things that are true. I'm a crazy Jew,” Mailer seemed to laugh at his own witticism.

Lord, give me the strength not to throw him out the window, I can't handle him.

-Listen Cross-eyed Copy of Superwoman, I just got a call from McCormack.


-Our correspondent in Berlin. The fat baboon.

-I know who our Berlin correspondent is.

-Listen, apparently there's a hell of a mess in Berlin.

-Uh,” Clara turned around curiously, trying to hide a smile.

-Superwoman must have gone into the Soviet Zone early in the evening and rescue some children who must have been exploited by criminals and brought them into the American Zone. She must have forced the arrest of some kind of smuggler from the Soviet Zone, who they say they caught in the American Zone, but the Russians are upset because they say Superwoman smuggled him out of their Zone. Hell of a mess. The head of our army in Berlin loves the red-caped lady because he says that without her the anti-blockade strategy would have failed, so he must have done her a favor by agreeing to take the kids out of the Soviet zone and arrest that thug, or so McCormack says. The thing is, it's all happened in the last three hours, and the State Department wants to throw the general out the window.

Clara feigned a pout of approval.

-Berlin, Berlin! Oh, what trouble Berlin is!

-Is that the smartest thing you Kansans can say?

-Good night, Bob.

-Goodbye, six-eyes.

Clara put on her coat, gathered her things and took the elevator down, humming the song Stardust. Maybe she should go to a movie theater for a while, a double feature, although it was usually impossible for her to watch a whole movie without someone needing Superwoman elsewhere. She was about to hurry out of the lobby when someone very small hugged her around the waist. Clara turned in surprise.


Emily, Louis' daughter...there was the little girl in a light blue coat and cap, with a red cape sticking out from under the coat. Clara got enthusiastic and knelt down.

-Well, if it’s Super-Emily!

She and the little girl hugged.

-I’m going to the movies to see Bugs Bunny!

-Oh, what fun! And what a pretty red cape you're wearing!

The little girl jumped up and stretched out her arm like Superwoman did when she took off. Clara turned to her right and a few steps away stood Louis with a slightly nervous smile, wearing his dark hat and coat. Next to him was Pat, looking at her with a kind of annoyance and indifference.

-Louis...Mrs. Lane....

-Hello Clara dear, how are you?" Pat gave her an ethereal kiss on the cheek as she took the girl by the hand.

-We had dinner with my parents and now we're going to the movies, we stopped by so Emily could say hello to Perry," Louis explained awkwardly.

-I finished the article on the bum raid and tomorrow's edition already has it.

-Great, thank you for the effort.

-What happened to the tramps?” Pat asked with mock curiosity.

-Oh, the mayor mobilized the police yesterday to remove all the homeless from the financial center.

-Well, it took him a while to think of it, anyways let's hope Norris wins... Clara dear, Mason is a very good friend of the family, if you want to interview him or ask him anything, just tell me," Pat said casually.

-Oh, don't worry, I'm not in charge of anything for the mayoral campaign...although we might annoy him with an orphanage thing.

-Well Clara, we’re late to the movies, thanks for finishing the raid article," Louis bowed his head sympathetically.

-Have fun with Bugs Bunny, Super-Emily!” said Clara returning to give Louis' daughter a hug.

-Would you like to join us?" Pat asked her in an almost hostile tone. She was a very beautiful and above all very elegant woman. She was very thin and shorter than Louis and Clara, but she had caramel-colored eyes that were very famous. Clara had never gotten along with her, and she knew how difficult her marriage to Louis had been. It was strange to stand next to the woman she wanted to be taken away from Louis...what would she think? Lucy called her "Poisonous Doll."

-I'd love to, but I'm so tired, see you tomorrow, Louis," Clara bowed her head in farewell and slipped out before the Lane's left the building.

Pat and Louis walked wordlessly to a taxi, and before she got in, she inquired fiercely.

-I don't care what you do, but I don't have to put up with her. She could refrain from greeting me or my daughter when I am present.

Louis ignored her.

-Look at the sky! Emily shrieked.

Between the skyscrapers at medium altitude a familiar figure was flying. Superwoman wasn't flying very fast, her red cape was clearly visible. This time she didn't look like a blur.


Superwoman landed and gently lowered the ambulance to the ground. She had made five trips in an hour between this hospital in the Marshall Islands - the only one that could be called that - and Regina Dozier Hospital in Gotham City. On each trip she had carried two sick people in the ambulance at thousands of miles per minute, ten in all. Ten men, women and children suffering from the after-effects of radiation and disease caused by the U.S. military's nuclear tests one and two years earlier.

Professor Helena Bertinelli, a young doctor (and former nun) from Gotham, had been coordinating medical aid for the many sick from the aftermath of the explosions. She had tried to get the attention of the world's press, but no one had listened. Despite her repeated letters to the Vatican, assisted by two Jesuit missionaries from the islands, no one had raised a voice. Finally, a Jesuit went to tell the story to Louis, who immediately wrote an article. Bruce Wayne knew of Bertinelli indirectly. The young Gotham doctor had suffered a traumatic childhood: her father - a gangster - and her mother had been brutally murdered nearly two decades earlier. The Wayne Foundation offered to pay for the treatment of the most seriously injured at Gotham's Regina Dozier Hospital. There remained the problem of relocation; the most seriously ill would not survive a boat ride from the Marshall Islands to Gotham. Clara read about it in Louis' article, and Bruce absentmindedly commented on the issue to her. A few days later, Superwoman appeared hovering over the Marshall Islands hospital, gently descending and asking to speak to Dr. Bertinelli. They had managed to get the first ten sick people to Gotham by flying an ambulance through the air at full speed.

Part of the medical team led by Dr. Bertinelli and a priest came to say goodbye and thank her for her help. Superwoman bowed her head before them in humility. Dr. Bertinelli was a young, serious woman with a Mediterranean air, few words, and a cold way of expressing her indignation. There was something about her that reminded Superwoman of Louis.

-Dr. Bertinelli, would you like me to take you back to Gotham? I can take you and your luggage.

-I'll be staying a few more days, and I already have my boat ticket. Besides, I have little to contribute, the Regina Dozier has the best specialists...

-Is there anything else I can do for you?

Dr. Bertinelli sighed.

-Nothing, Mrs. El, you've already done a lot... maybe I could ask you one thing.

-Tell me.

-If you ever give a speech at the UN again, mention us. Tell all those diplomatic penguins what nuclear weapons testing does.

Superwoman nodded.

-I will, don't think I'm sympathetic to these methods.

-What about the "American Way"?

-I wish it didn't include these kinds of actions.

Dr. Bertinelli smiled gratefully at her and returned with the rest of the medical team.

Well...up, up and away!

She lost herself in the sky, rising into the stratosphere. The world rolled away at her feet. She closed her eyes and listened. She was needed on five continents. In an hour and a half, she passed through China, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Italy, Ireland, Guinea, Brazil, and finally back to Metropolis. From fires to shootings, from landslides to floods. In Metropolis, she put out a fire in an unoccupied house where several refugee beggars lived, suspiciously close to the orphanage and other buildings that the city council and several developers wanted to demolish. It was still midnight in Metropolis, she would probably have to fly around the world another time or two before she could get an hour's rest.

Superwoman flew gently between the skyscrapers, thinking of her day, of the people she had met and helped, of Ullrich, whom she had managed to drop off at his aunt's house with his brother, of the deaths and injuries she had been unable to prevent in the Chicago shooting, of Louis, of the grateful smile of a teenage girl she had saved from the typhoon in Indonesia the morning before... then an ultrasound, a painful buzzing sound threw her off... it came, as always, from the TELCORP Tower. Luthor's corporate building was torture for Superwoman. The millionaire had installed ultrasonic devices on every floor to keep the superheroine away from the unbearable buzzing and beeping. If she stayed at least half a mile away, it didn't bother her, but she inevitably had to pass close by. She felt a deep resentment toward the tower. Sometimes Luthor would turn up the volume, he couldn't afford to do it much because it would hurt people, but for a few minutes a week he would try. It was his way of annoying her, of getting her attention, of reminding her that they were enemies to the death, a title he had unilaterally bestowed. It was also his way of summoning her.

Feeling anger and sadness, Superwoman flew toward the tower. The sound was terrible. She knew where Luthor's office was. She floated down to it. There the billionaire scientist stood, grinning maliciously, leaning against the glass. As soon as his eyes met hers, Luthor seemed to press a device and the sounds stopped. With her super-hearing, she could hear the man's words.

-Good evening, Kala-El.

-Luthor...," Superwoman spoke loudly and authoritatively so that Luthor could hear her on the other side of the glass.

-How was your day ruling over mortals?

-I don't rule anyone.

-No? Deciding who lives and who dies... who sleeps in a dungeon and who doesn't... is a lot like ruling.

Superwoman looked at him sadly.

-Why do you hate me so much?

-Because I love humanity.

-Sometimes I fear that those of you who claim to love too many great things in the abstract have more hate than love in you.

-What do you know of hate and love? You are not one of us.

Clara thought back to her day, to all the people she had tried to help, her friends, her mother, the memory of her father, Louis and Emily. ....

-I think I know more than you ever will, Luthor.

Clara smiled to herself, feeling hopeful, and flew towards the firmament, not listening to Luthor's reply as he turned the ultrasound back on.

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