STORY : Home20 min read
Note : This story does not disregard the efforts of various associations around USA towards their vets. The story is my imagination of Superman in the modern day where all DC characters exist. All characters are the property of DC Comics. The story is a Superhero Abode original and might not be cannon.Nicholas Jay is a fictional character but the units and battle he served are real in the pages of history.
The azure Sunday skies made way to the Man of Steel as he swished past the continent at a speed unlike anything of this world. It has been quite some years since America knows Superman is around , otherwise that incredible sound of breaking sound barrier multiple times from above could have caused terror among the peaceful beings living underneath the clouds. But what generally appeals more to our hero about himself is not the speed he can travel in but the range of radio waves around him , each of which the Kryptonian eye can detect. However , today Clark ponders upon something else.
Sunday is the day of odd jobs – so are they called. A cosmic threat can arrive at any time , but other than that people on Earth seem to love Sundays – weirdly even bad guys. Every member of the league in random order gets entrusted upon a certain job this day- be it related with the funds Justice League raises for vets , children and others in needs or checking on to some other social affairs. Even Batman is not excluded from these chores. Superman today has been given a job , he is not very comfortable with – inquiring how the funds are being invested the League raised last months for the vets in America. Raising funds is a thing of joy for Superman but inquiring whether it is being utilized properly…. not quite ! But unfortunately , we don’t live in a perfect world and Superman has learnt it in the last couple of years. The association’s main hospital is at Coast City , so he needs to fly across the states.
Thankfully , he can within a matter of a minute.Upon sighting the hospital from miles above , Superman lowered his speed and swiftly flew downwards towards it , further lowering his velocity with every inch he flew downwards …small things he has to take care of every single day. There was a lot of scream on the sudden appearance of the #1 celebrity in the country. Not because he is Superman , but because he is somebody news media has been remarking as a higher calling in Television and Twitter over the couple of years. Most of the people around do not even know what he is capable of but the advertisements he does for non-profit organizations do carry a mass appeal to him. Welcome to 21st Century !
“Isn’t that the guy in the ‘faster than a locomotive’ advertisement ?” “Shh…it’s him.” “Oh my god , can he really fly ? ” “Dude he just flew down” Whispers started to initiate around making our hero real uncomfortable. He is actually not the person this world want him to see as. He is just a simple man who does happen to like helping people -the reason he took on the mantle of a superhero in the first place. If he hadn’t been from another planet with such incredible powers, he would have worked on the special-mix harvest he and Jonathan keeps talking about when he visits Smallville. Even with all the workload of both Superman and Clark , the time he gets to spend in Smallville is mostly invested in either farming or drinking a bottle of beer with his dad.
Much to his relief , the in-charge came running out and asked everyone to continue with their work.
“Superman , welcome to Coast City. I had a call from the Justice League saying you would be here. I can’t imply how happy and excited I am to meet you…” the in-charge forwarded his hand for a shake.
“Same here… ?” Superman and the in-charge had a handshake.
“Oh ! It’s Daniel. ” an excited Daniel Geez said. “Your hands feel just like another human being… I thought…“
Superman smiled. Daniel is not wrong thinking that way. His entire life , Martha and Jonathan has taught him how to use things without breaking them , how to feel humans without hurting them. As powerful he is , he is more precise in using his powers than we humans are in controlling our voluntary muscles. However, on realizing the responsibilities Superman has , Daniel said “Lets not waste your time , come with me please.“
The two walked down a corridor leading towards an office. “I can’t thank you enough Superman for all you people do. Forget the deathly threats you people defend us again , these small things helps a lot.If not for those advertisements and the social campaigns , most of the associations like us could not take care of our vets the way we do.“
“I do what everyone should , Daniel.This is the least we can do.”
The two went into the office and Daniel offered Superman a seat. He then opened up a drawer and pulled out a blue file to open it. “Yes , this is it. The names gets confusing at times,” he whimpered passing on the file to Superman.“Funds from 03/11 and 10/11 , $9,058,000 , its all here.“
Superman took the file , still a bit reluctant. He went through the pages quickly , going through the charts and numbers. Not that he was going easy on the calculations but the thought of someone thinking Superman doesn’t trust him/her bothered him a lot. One among the many attributes of Superman Clark was protective about. A noble sentiment but unfortunately too noble for us humans.But he had to do what he was sent for. Last month , the account for Gotham’s St. Mary’s Gifted children school was $300,000 short than what it should have been. Thankfully , one who was sent there made sure it won’t happen again.
“Even by your speed , I reckon those lists are huge. Let me bring you a cup of coffee.” When Superman tried to decline the offer , Daniel insisted ,”Nurse Ramona makes the best coffee in the town , believe me even if I am standing in an old-age home.“
Daniel was so persuasive that Superman had to give in. While the in-charge went in to get a coffee , Superman went on with his account. Obviously , Daniel’s calculations about Superman’s reading speed were wrong and he was finished with the file in another minute or two. He felt thankful that the calculations were on point since , as mentioned , he doesn’t likes situations where they are otherwise. After that he rose up and started observing the things in the room. Now this is the interesting thing about the last son of krypton. The range of his senses are incredibly wide and sometimes outside his own comprehension. It all depends what state of mind his brain’s thalamus is in , was what J’onn told him once.
So in his casual mood of walking through the room , a feeble sound caught his ears. “Sa….runnn….Naaa…“. He turned towards that noise and stood still for a while. The man seemed to be getting words out with great difficulty. He walked towards the voice and ended up in a big room filled with old men doing different things. Men all abandoned by family and society after they returned from war….Afghanistan , Iraq , Cuba , Vietnam and lots more. All of them were astounded to see Superman and so he tried to quickly walk past them. Super-speed was not an option at all – the after effects of it would be obnoxious.
He soon reached a bed with a old man lying on it – early 80s , was a strong built man at a point of time but time has not been pleasant on him. He has difficulty speaking but continuously murmuring the same words. “Saa…..runnn….Naaa”. The man was visibly suffering from something big. But what ? Superman’s X-Ray vision didn’t take time to figure out the problem was with the brain. The man had Alzheimer’s and examining his brain structure – it didn’t seem in its early stages. Superman stood by him and tried to understand what he is saying.Suddenly a voice broke his attention.
“Sam…run….. ” Daniel said passing on a hot cup of coffee. “though we still don’t know what that Naaa stands for.The guy’s not good with all kinds of consonants though he pulls it off sometimes.His brain has now decreased to two elementary things – to tell Sam to run and whatever that Naa means. Poor guy. Had a very rough life. How are you here ? You finished the file already ?”
Superman nodded taking the cup of coffee and glanced at the man – his eyes deep yet his vision shallow – his expressions confused with a tinge of sadness. Superman had a sip of his coffee and said ” Can I see his file , Daniel ?“
Daniel became afraid at this statement. “I…I mean we do all we can but this seems the last or so stage of the disease. When we got him in , he already had the disease.We can still feed him with a spoon and he can walk a bit sometimes but other than that , that’s it. A doctor comes weekly but he says we can’t do much until he gets breathing problem.”
Superman halted him. “I am not blaming you or the association , Daniel. I know what Alzheimer’s does.I just want to see his file once. How he ended up here. Just my curiosity , nothing else“
Both went to the office again. “Just give me a minute while I search for his file.“
Searching through the case , he narrated the man’s history to Superman as much as he was acquainted with. ” Name’s Nicolas Jay. Marine , served in Vietnam….just a minute , over here.” Daniel took out a file. “Right. here. 173rd unit.Here’s the file. And here we found a dairy in his pocket as well, have a look”.
The file of Nicholas Jay was too much for Clark. He sat there for one hour going through the file and the dairy , and every read made him read again. Here’s a brief insight about what Superman found out about Nic’s 80 years of life :
Nicholas Edward Jay (Nic) was born to a corpsman’s young widow in the early 40s. After her sudden death from an unknown disease , young Nic had only one friendly face in his life , Sam Wilson. Sam would have been just another kid in the streets if not for Nic who supported him throughout with both money and food from home. After Ms. Jay’s death , Nic wanted to follow his father’s footsteps and injected his patriotism into Sam as well. Both joined the 173rd unit and went to serve in Vietnam. In midst the bloody battle , both the friends found solace sometimes eating their lunch beside T’Nung Lake.Though it was a hour walk from the camp , it was worth it. The sunset there is one of the finest they have ever seen , just it is not written in any book or artifact in a glorious way. After a bloody fight in an evening of May 1965 , both the friends and two others from the 4th Infantry Division were held POWs in one of the Soviet camps. For months they were tortured by different means , one of which even blinded one of Sam’s eye. But that didn’t drown their enthusiasm for escape. After one unsuccessful attempt ,4 of them finally escaped. However within 10 miles or so , two 105 mm infantry rounds took the life of the other two soldiers along with a leg of Sam. Both of the friends stayed hidden and struggled for days to finally arrive the Đắk Tô Base Camp only to find Sam has had an infection in his eye. Medical aid was of little help so both of them requested they been taken back to America. However , it took time to happen and meanwhile Sam’s agony grew. One night Sam got tired of the relentless pain and requested Nic to give him a solider’s death but a moment of hesitation led an officer to come in and stop the act. Nic was barred from seeing his friend until he died 5 days later. There was still anguish in his pale face , Nic recollects in his dairy.
Nic never had a good sleep after that day , even after his first sex after marriage. Life went on as it is supposed to , not good not bad either – the couple had a daughter whom they named Jane. Whenever Nic wanted to burst his heart out , his wife Liza and daughter Jane found him unrelatable. With a job of labor he came home drunk and in the process gave his family enough reasons to hate him. After his wife’s death , most of his time was spent on cross-talks with his daughter and fishing beside a lake near-by. One day he found out her daughter is dating a guy , who he didn’t saw fit for her. A hot talk provoked Nic to slap his daughter. The last bit of life died in the old man when his daughter looked him in his eyes with tears in her own and said ” I hate you Dad. We always did.” After she left , Nic realized how he never got to tell his daughter how much he loved her. With the house empty , he had no reason to stay in it. He named the house and all his remaining properties to his daughter and started travelling. Sometimes he wonders why he never said sorry. It still surprised him that after all this years , his friend’s screams still haunts him the most. He started working at different places and maintained a dairy. The last pages is clearly representative in the degrading of his written language to symbols and addition of some twisted sense of nihilism. The last understandable part in the dairy was ‘I pulled him in all these and he died like a dog , maybe this is just my punishment. I do not complain but will I ever be able to say to Sam , Liza or Jane that I never wanted any of this ?’
After reading for about 10-12 times , Superman closed the dairy and stared at the wall for a moment. “ I know what that Naa means. I need you to do me a favor , Daniel. Can you hand over Nic to me ?“
“Hand over ? Are you going to treat him with some special treatment , I presume ?” asked a puzzled Daniel.
Superman sighed. “I wish I could but I am not what people of Earth think I am.My thermal vision even with a filter can be fatal if operated on a human brain. The cycle of life is more powerful than me and it has already turned his face from him. But there is a last bit of thing I still can do for him. Tell me , he is going to die …whatever days he has left , can you hand him over to me , please ?“
“Jesus , Superman. Though he has nobody to claim him , this is still outrageous.However , nobody will be able to see something if someone took him out in super-speed,” smiled Daniel.
“I need a favor.”
“Did you finish your job ?”
“Yes , I did. But I have another one to finish and I need your resources for that.”
“What do you want ?”
“Can you manage for an Alzheimer’s patient’s stay from tomorrow in the location I just send you…for as many days as he is alive ?”
“This is outside America.”
“Can you ?”
“I will see.”
Nic didn’t even knew when he flew with the strongest person on this planet over continents and oceans , thanks to his ALS and the precise speed of Superman’s sense of flight. He opened his eyes to an Asian sky on a bed. Though he can not process much he can still hear things around him.
“It’s not just the War. This lake is known as the lake of tears since a long time. I hope it takes away all his, though.”
“Just take good care…”
“He is awake , I think he is trying to stand up”.
Superman went towards Nic and made him stand.He then made him look at the sun getting ready to set at the horizon of the lake nearby. Nicholas was confused and couldn’t understand where he was but a familiar poignant feeling started to hit his soul. Superman asked softly “T’Nung. Remember ?“
Nicholas raised his hand towards the lake and asked ” Naa ?“
Nicholas looked again at the lake , still not believing what he saw.
“You were asking for two things. One I can’t give you . This , luckily , I could. You can now come here everyday without any worries.”
A drop of tear rolled down the wrinkled cheek of the old man – a tear long overdue. His eyes fixed at one particular position rather than glancing the entire scene. Superman realized this and asked him. “You see him ?“
Nicholas slowly nodded his head. “How is he ?“
“Hooome,” Nicholas said with some effort looking towards Superman and gave a smile. The smile though small and the answer though not in context to the question, Superman got what the man implied. This was the best way a man long lost his path knew how to say ‘Thank You’. Superman smiled back at him.
“If there is somewhere people go after death , you will go there as a marine , Nic,” Superman said to himself smiling at the sunset. Though the man of steel has seen far better looking places in the entire cosmos , this strangely became one of his favorite ones.
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