Lois and Clark were at the loft of barn, setting the table to have a romantic dinner. “This is it? Can we finally eat? I’m starving,” Lois complained.
“You don’t get starved. Not anymore. Impatient, on the other hand…” Clark said. Lois looked annoyed. He studied the table. “You know what is missing? Candles.”
Lois raised an eyebrow at him. “We really don’t need it.”
Clark ignored her commentary. “I’ll be right back.” He then left the barn in the blink of an eye. Before Lois could even sigh, he returned. “We’re outta candles in the house. I’ll go buy some.”
“Stay right here.” He then superspeeded to the closest market.
Lois shook her head in defeat and chuckled. This man couldn’t be real. She then realized she wasn’t alone in the loft. “What’s wrong, Scooby? Do you think I’m coming between you and Shaggy?”
Shelby kept looking at her.
Lois got down on her knees and started to pet him. “Don’t worry, the van is big enough for us three to hunt the phantoms.”
Suddenly, Shelby started to bark, taking Lois by surprise. “What’s it, Shelby?” She looked around, but there was nothing unusual. The dog kept barking. “Shelby?” Distracted by Shelby’s yelp, Lois didn’t realize that something was heading to her. It then attacked her, sending her falling down to the barn floor unconscious.
Lois opened her eyes, looking around confused. Instead of the dark of the barn, there were white walls. It looked like a hospital. Why was she here?
She needed to get out there before they find out what she is. When she tried to get up, however, she felt dizzy, weak. Her face showed a shocked expression. What happened to her? What happened to her powers?
A doctor and a nurse entered the room. “Miss Lane, you’re finally awake,” the doctor said, a warm smile on his lips. He was old, short, had blue eyes and white hair and a beard. He then looked at the nurse. “Tell her family she’s awake.”
The nurse nodded and left the room.
Lois looked at him confused and a little frightened. “Who are you? What I’m doing here?”
“I’m Dr. Hudson. You had a car accident two years ago, being in a coma ever since. I’ve been watching you since you got here.”
Lois frowned. “I think you’re mistaking me with someone else. I was at the barn when something attacked me.”
“I’m afraid your mind is tricking you, Ms. Lane. You arrived at this hospital after your car overturn while you were driving in a road in September 2004. According to reports, a strong lightning struck on the road and when you tried to divert from it, the accident happened.”
“What?” Lois eyes opened widely. “That’s impossible.” Lois put her hands on her head, trying to process what the doctor said. She then realized something. “Clark, my… My boyfriend Clark. Where is he?”
The older man looked at her confused. “I think we should wait until your family gets here.”
Lois shook her head. “No. Something is very wrong here.” She pulled the sheet out of her and got off the bed, still feeling a little disoriented.
“Ms. Lane, please...”
She tried to shove Dr. Hudson out of her way, but she was too weak to manage to do that. Two nurses entered the room and helped him to put her back on the bed.
“Get off me! Get off me!” Lois kept screaming as the nurses held her arms and legs. One of the nurses then gave Lois a sedative injection, making her fall asleep.
Lois opened her eyes slowly. In front of her, his father and sister, both teary-eyed. “Lo,” her father spoke.
With her eyes fully opened, Lois saw tears falling down both their cheeks and a smile on their lips. She knew why they were crying, she just couldn’t understand it. Their reaction, so real, was confusing her even more. “Can someone please explain to me what’s happening?”
“You’ve been in a coma –“ Lucy said.
“No, this part I get just fine. What I need to know is what’s really happening here. One instant I’m about to have dinner with my boyfriend and the other I’m awake from a supposed coma I’ve been in for the past two years.”
Sam and Lucy exchanged looks, confused at Lois’s question. “Lo, you’ve probably been dreaming,” Sam tried to argue.
Lois glared at him. “Don’t. The only dream situation is this one.”
Sam looked defeated. “I think we should wait your mother. She’s always been better to handle you than me.”
Shock took over Lois’s face. “What? What do you mean by that?”
The door of the room opened, a brunette woman in her forties came in. Lois froze as she watched the woman crying and running to hug her. “My little girl, you’re awake,” the woman said.
Tears fell from Lois’s eyes nonstop. “Mom…”
“I’m here, honey.”
Lois was smiling, happy to see her mother again. She suddenly pulled away, wiping the tears with her hands. “You’re not real. You can’t be.”
Ella frowned. “What are you talking about, Lois?”
Lois avoided looking at her mother. “You died when I was six.”
The older woman cupped her daughter’s face and made her look at her. “It was just a nightmare, honey.”
“Yeah, Lo. Mom is here with us,” Lucy added.
“I’d never leave you, Lois. For those past two years, every day I was here by your side, waiting for my little girl to wake up.” Ella hugged Lois again.
Lois knew she should fight this, but she couldn’t. She felt safe in her mother’s arms again. Sam and Lucy joined the warm embrace. She had her family back, how was she supposed to fight this?
“Make sure she takes those medications,” Dr. Hudson gave Lois’s family instructions to take care of her. They all were at the reception of the hospital getting ready to leave.
Lois was leaning against a wall, away from the conversation, trying to regain focus after the overwhelming feeling of seeing her mother again. Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard a high-pitched sound. She followed it, which led her to a closed door. Lois then opened it, surprised to find a black man in his forties in a straitjacket standing in the middle of room.
“Sorry,” Lois apologized and turned to leave.
“Lois Lane,” the man said.
Lois turned to look at him again, her eyes wide-open. “How do you know my name?”
“I need you to listen to me. You can’t –“
“Lo. There you are,” Sam said, putting his arm around her. “Let’s go home.”
The man stepped closer to her. “You can’t trust anyone.”
Sam appeared between them and glared at the man. “Stand back, sir.”
Two nurses came running to the room. One of them gave the man a sedative injection. “No! No!” The man tried to fight it, but fell unconscious.
“I’m sorry this man was bothering you, Mr. Lane,” the other nurse said.
Sam nodded at her. “It’s okay.” He then look at Lois and grabbed her hand. “Come, Lois. Your mother and sister are waiting us.”
As Sam dragged Lois away, she kept staring at the man, a puzzled look on her face.
The Lane family was in the car on their way home. Sam was driving and Ella was sitting on the passenger seat and the sisters on the back ones. Lois thought about that man’s words. He may have been in a straitjacket, but somehow he seemed the only who knew what was going on here. She needed to find Clark and figure out what was happening to her.
“Will you go back to work after you take us home, honey?” Ella asked Sam.
“No,” Sam smiled at her. “My little Lo is back. All I want is to spend time with the most important thing of my life, my family.”
Lois smiled slightly at his commentary. She craved to hear that her entire life. The sad part was that it only convinced her more this wasn’t real. And it hurt.
“Looking forward to catch up with you, sis,” Lucy told her.
Lois nodded, uncertain. “Me too.” She released a breath she was holding. Whatever, whoever, was causing this knew exactly how to hit her.
They soon arrived home. Lois looked surprised as she realized it was the same house she lived as a child. Left alone in her room, she picked up her cell phone and started to call Clark. She waited and nothing, the number didn’t exist.
Her powers were gone, too. She’d need a car to go to Smallville.
Ella knocked on the door and opened it next. “Dinner is ready, sweetie.”
The family sat at the table for dinner, smiling after cheering Lois’s return. She smiled seeing this. Her expression then turned serious, she had to remind herself not to get attached to this.
The doorbell rang. “You should answer it, Lo,” Sam said, a suspicious smile on his lips.
Lois frowned, but she went to answer it. She was surprised to find a tall and dark man with a bouquet of roses. She knew him from the time in the base. “Wes?”
“Lois,” the man smiled in relief and hugged her. “It’s really you. You’re back for real.”
Lois pulled away. “Wes, what are you doing here?”
“Your father told me you woke up and I took the first flight to come here and see you. Those past two year… It was a nightmare. See my girlfriend like that –“
“Your girlfriend?” Lois looked shocked.
Wes knitted his eyebrows. “Yeah. Lois, is that anything wrong?”
“I’m not your girlfriend.”
The smile left his face completely. “Lois, why do you say that?”
Lois raised her voice. “Because I’m not. You’re not real, none of this is real.”
The family heard Lois’s yelling and approached them. “What’s happening here?” Sam asked.
“Lois is rejecting me, general,” Wes said, hurt. “Apparently, knowing each other since we were nine, dating since we were fifteen, planning to get marry since we were sixteen, means nothing to your daughter.”
“Planning to get marry?” Lois asked.
“Before your accident we were supposed to get married.”
“Wes, go easy on her. She’s been having a difficult time with her memory,” Lucy told him.
Lois angered. “Stop, I’m not! My boyfriend is Clark. Both of you know him,” she pointed to Sam and Lucy.
“Who’s Clark, Lois?” Ella asked.
“He… He lives in Smallville. He’s Chloe’s best friend.”
Silence took over the place. “What?” Lois asked, puzzled by the sudden quietness.
“Lois, honey, do you remember what happened to Chloe?” Ella asked, worried.
“What? What happened to her?”
“She… She died a few months before your car accident. You were actually on the way to visit her grave.”
“No… No. She’s alive, it was just a plan to fool Lionel Luthor. Daddy helped her, actually.”
Sam shook his head, his eyes full of concern for his daughter.
Lois took a deep breath. “Doesn’t matter. I’m going to Smallville.”
“Lois, there’s no Smallville, there’s no Clark. Chloe is dead. You have to understand that, honey,” Ella said.
Lois glared at her. “You’re not real. None of you are.”
Sam grabbed her arm. “That’s enough, young lady. Go to your room and rest.”
“No,” Lois freed her arm forcefully. “And since you’re not really my dad…” She then punched him in the face.
Everyone looked at her shocked, including Sam. There were also anger and hurt on her father’s eyes. It made her feel guilty, even if she still thought it wasn’t real.
“I’m sorry,” she gave him an apologetic look. She then grabbed the car’s key and run to it.
“Lois!” Wes called, in vain. She got in the car and drove away.
Lois kept breathing hard as she got closer to her destination. This whole situation has been too much, she was fighting to not have a breakdown.
As she reached the city limits of Metropolis, she stopped the car, puzzled by something she saw. Instead of the Smallville’s sign there was Granville’s. How could a town disappear like that?
Getting out of the car, Lois then dialed Chloe’s number. “C’mon, Chlo, pick up. C’mon.” Invalid phone number. “Damn it.” She then tried to call Oliver, also in vain.
Out of desperation, she then started to slap herself consecutively, each time harder. “Wake up, Lois. Wake up.”
Lois sighed when all it gave her was a headache. She leaned against the car and put her hands on her head, fighting the tears that were threatening to fall.
Lois returned home a couple of hours later, sad and exhausted. Ella was waiting for her in the living room. “How’s daddy?” Lois asked, still feeling guilty.
“Disappointed. How could you do that, Lois?”
Lois avoided her question and turned to leave to her room.
“I know what is happening,” Ella said.
Lois looked at her mother again, a hint of hope in her eyes. “You do?”
“After you left, I kept thinking about the things you said. Then, I went to your room and started looking through your things and I found this.” Ella grabbed several papers and offered it to her daughter.
Lois approached her slowly and grabbed it. “What is it?”
“It’s a story you’ve been writing since your cousin’s death.” Lois looked at her confused. “It’s about you. How you and Chloe’s best friend, Clark, found together that your cousin was alive. He is a super powered alien and you got super powers because of him. You two eventually fell in love.”
Lois gulped. “Mom, you have to believe me. This really happened to me.”
“This isn’t real, Lois. I’m not dead, you and your father and sister aren’t distant.” Ella cupped Lois’s face and made her look at her. “Chloe’s death hurt you badly. You decided to honor her obsession with aliens writing this. But this isn’t real, Lo. Your cousin had mental illness just like my sister. I know you must have felt you could have saved her from committing suicide, but you couldn’t, honey, none of us could.”
Lois was reading the papers, shocked by the accuracy of her adventures in it. “Mom, I –“
“Look, Lois, I understand how attractive this parallel world you created is. I mean, who wouldn’t want a tall, dark, and handsome blue-eyed and super powered guy to fall in love with you? Or to have super powers of your own? But you have a guy here who loves you even before he knew what this word really meant, you have a family who never left your side when you needed the most. You can’t live in this illusion you created forever. This is your life, embrace it.”
“I just… I just can’t believe everything I’ve been through is a lie.”
Ella put both her hands on Lois’s arms and looked into her eyes. “We’ll work this out. I promise you, okay? We’ll go to the hospital tomorrow and you’ll get your memories back.”
Lois nodded, uncertain.
Ella kissed her forehead. “Now it’s time to go to bed. Maybe sleeping in your own bed instead of the hospital’s one will help to clear your head.”
Lois and her family were waiting for the doctor to see her. She still wasn’t sure what to believe in. The memories of Clark, Chloe, and even Martha were very alive inside her head.
Suddenly, Lois started to hear the high-pitched sound from yesterday again. Was it that man? She needed to know. “Excuse me, I’m going to the restroom,” she told her mother.
Lois followed the sound, which led her to closed door. She sighed and then dismissed it as a trick of her mind, starting to leave. She stopped after hearing a voice.
“You can't give in, Lois Lane. You must resist. None of this is real,” a voice said. It was from the same man from yesterday.
Lois stepped closer to the door. “Who are you?”
“Like Kal-El, I’m not from here.”
“You know Clark? But he… Do you have any idea of what’s going on here?”
“When you were attacked in the barn, you were infected by a being that Kal-El released from the Phantom Zone. This spirit is trying to take over your body. The only reason it hasn’t taken you over with ease, like Zod did with Lex Luthor, is because you’re a lot stronger than that. You're kryptonian now. If you give in to Hudson and undergo this treatment, the entity will gain control of your body with all its powers and unite the other fugitives from the Phantom Zone. Together, they'll enslave all of mankind.”
“How can I regain my consciousness?”
“You have to kill Hudson.”
“Kill? I can’t…”
“He's not a man. Hudson's a Phantom.”
“Lois, what are you doing here?” Lucy spoke. “The doctor is ready to see you.”
Lois looked at her sister with uncertainty. Lucy then grabbed her arm started to drag her away.
“You know who you are, Lois. Trust yourself. Look within. Believe in yourself,” the man yelled as Lois and Lucy walked away.
“You shouldn’t talk with those crazy people,” Lucy said.
Inside the room, Dr. Hudson started to explain to Lois the treatment. As he was distracted talking to her family, she grabbed a scissor placed on the table and hid it with her hand behind her back.
“Now that everything’s set, are you ready to go, Ms. Lane?” Dr. Hudson asked.
Lois nodded. As the doctor passed her way, she took a deep breath. Her hand was trembling. Once the doctor had his back turned to her, Lois took the opportunity to stab the side of his neck with the scissor.
Dr. Hudson fell on the floor bleeding nonstop and with difficult to breath.
“Oh, my god! What have you done, Lois?” Ella said, completely in shock.
Lois gasped, waiting for this nightmare to end.
Sam went to the doctor’s side to check on his vital signs. Both he and Lucy kept glancing at Lois terrified by what she had done. “Lucy, call the nurses. Hurry, he’s dying,” Sam said.
Lucy nodded and went outside to call the closest nurses she could find.
Ella grabbed her daughter’s face with both her hands. “Lois, look at me. Why did you do that?”
Did she make a mistake? Was this real after all? Was she crazy? She looked at the doctor almost stopping breathing and so far the reality she wanted to go back to hasn’t show up. Her legs gave out and she felt on her knees. And then she cried, releasing every little tear she had been holding this entire time. At least she was where she felt safe, in her mother’s arms.
“You shouldn’t have done that, my sweet child. But we’ll get through this. Once you get treatment, you’ll put this pain behind you and we’ll live happily and together.”
Lois frowned at her mother’s words. She just killed a man, how could she say that?
“Look within. Believe in yourself.”
Lois opened her eyes wilder as realization started to dawn on her. She pulled away from her mother’s embrace. “You’re the phantom.”
Ella looked confused. “Lois, what are you talking about?”
Lois grabbed the scissor again. “You’re the one messing with my head. The loving mother I’ve been missing. The paper with the fictional story. Convincing me to do the treatment. It was you all along who’s pulling the strings.”
“Lois, put this scissor down.”
Two guards entered the room and held Lois, making her drop the scissor. She struggled to free herself.
“Believe in yourself.”
Lois freed herself from the men’s grip and threw one of them against the wall and punched the other.
“Lois, stop. Please,” Ella looked afraid.
Lois gulped. The possibility of hurting her own mother, even a fake one, was hard to deal with. But she had to do it if she wanted to get back to her life. She put both her hand around Ella’s neck and started to strangle her.
“Lois, stop,” Sam begged, in vain.
“L-Lois…” Ella tried to speak, but Lois tightened her grip. Tears started to fall down Ella’s cheeks.
Lois closed her eyes, the image of her mother’s suffering was too painful. “Get out of my mind!”
She opened her eyes when she heard a loud yell, her mother’s eyes turned black and a redness formed around it. As the phantom left Ella’s body, it also started to leave Lois’s body. Lois screamed in pain as a red light captured the phantom. Shelby, who was yelping the whole time, stopped.
Lois, who was laid down on the floor, looked up to see Clark and the man who helped her. “Lois,” Clark got down on his feet to help her to stand up and then hugged her, breathing a sigh of relief. “I was so worried.”
“Welcome home, Lois Lane,” the black man said.
Lois pulled away from Clark’s embrace and focused on the other man. “Thanks for saving me. What’s your name?”
The man just smiled at her. He then flew out of the barn in a streak of red.
“Wait!” Lois shouted, in vain.
“His name is John Jones. He’s from Mars. He was the man who saved me in Seattle,” Clark told her.
“Why didn’t he stick around?”
“I don’t know. I’m just glad he was here to help you.”
“Did I really stay out for just a few seconds?”
“Yeah.” Clark was at the kitchen preparing a cup of coffee for Lois. “When I reach there, John was already helping you.”
“It felt like a lifetime.”
“How are you feeling after all of this?” Clark asked as he handed Lois a cup of coffee. He sat next to her on the couch inside the house.
“I don’t know,” Lois said, still thinking about the events.
“Well, if you want the opinion from someone who’ve been through this before, I’d bet you feel a certain emptiness.”
Lois nodded shyly. “I do. It’s weird, you know, I’ve come to accept my mother’s death since I was little. I impose myself not to think or miss her that much. But after today I realized I do miss her, a lot. I miss what my family used to be with her around.”
Clark raised his hand to her cheek, stroking it his thumb. “It’s okay to miss your mother, Lois. It’s okay to mourn as long as it doesn’t stop you from living forward.”
“You’re telling this to me or to you.”
“We both, I guess.”
Lois nodded and smiled. “I think I’m going to visit her grave tomorrow. It’s been so long since I last did that.”
Clark smiled back. “Do you mind if I tag along?”
“That’d be nice. It’s about time I introduce my boyfriend to my mother.”
Suddenly, Lois sighed. “That phantom totally killed the mood for our romantic dinner.”
Clark pondered it. “We still can have it. We still have the food and, let’s be honest, who cares about the candles or a formal dinner table? We and food is good enough for me. What do you say?”
“You’re speaking my language,” she grinned at him.
“I’m gonna warm up the food.”
As Lois watched Clark heading to the kitchen, all she could think was how glad she was this man was real. No matter how badly she missed her mother, she wouldn’t trade her current life for anything.