Smart Kids

Written by: Dan Levine

Transcribed by Labrat

We open on a quiet, night-time street outside the Beckworth State School. It's an imposing building, but cheerfully lit within. Black, iron gates bar the entrance. Inside the school, we find a large pig with a pink harness and leash, whose name, we will discover, is Socrates. The leash is being held by a young, blonde-haired girl – this is 11-year-old Aymee. A boy – Phillip, 12 – stands beside her.

Phillip: (irritated) What's Socrates doing here?

Aymee: I'm not leaving him. We're in this together.

Phillip: Okay. But he's your responsibility.

Another boy – 11-year-old Dudley – taps the buttons on a jerry-rigged, hand-held electronic device. There is a click as the entry-code locking device on the wall beside the children opens.

Dudley: We're in.

Aymee: It's about time.

The lock of the door in front of Dudley disengages and he pushes open the door. The children enter the room, a fourth child – 10-year-old Karen – bringing up the rear. As the children disappear into the room beyond, the door closes behind them and we see that it is the school's infirmary.

Cut to inside the infirmary. Dudley uses his device to open a safe as the other children crowd anxiously around him.

Phillip: (to Aymee) What about the main gate?

Aymee: (shrugging ruefully) I can't figure out how to zap the security system.

Phillip looks disappointed. There is a click and the safe door suddenly swings open.

Dudley: Bingo!

Phillip: Okay, guys. Let's get smart. (he smiles)

Dudley pulls the safe door fully open to reveal a rack of test tubes filled with a red liquid. Phillip reaches into the safe and pulls them out. Dudley closes the safe door. The children pour the contents of the test tubes into small plastic beakers – one tube per child – and then bring the beakers together in a toast before drinking. From Phillip's dreamy reaction, the effects of the liquid are almost instantaneous and more than pleasant. After a second or two, Phillip opens his eyes and looks at Aymee.

Phillip: Main gate?

Aymee: (grinning) Consider it zapped.

Dudley: Look out Metropolis – here we come!

The other kids grin back at him.

Cut to a bustling, residential street. Night. Lois Lane struggles up the outside stairs to her apartment building, juggling two overfull sacks of groceries. Halfway up, a large can topples and falls from one of the bags, bouncing down the stairs. Lois sighs in frustration, trying to decide how to retrieve it without having to put down the bags. As she steps down, she trips and falls, landing heavily on her butt as the bags fall and the contents scatter everywhere. Lois grimaces in pain, putting a hand to her hip.

Nearby, the children and Socrates, coming down the same street, pause at the bottom of the steps to laugh at her. Lois frowns.

Lois: (amazed) Is that a pig?

Socrates grunts and happily begins to root among the scattered groceries.

Aymee: (supercilious) Of course it's a pig. Haven't you ever seen a pig before? (she glances at Phillip with a cocky smile) Not very smart, is she?

The children laugh again and move off as a disgruntled Lois looks after them. She rolls her eyes skywards.

Lois: Kids!

And we


The Daily Planet newsroom – bustling as usual. Clark enters the conference room for the daily briefing, taking a loud bite out of an apple as he passes where Lois is already seated. Lois looks up in disgust from the notes she's been writing.

Lois: Could you turn up the volume on that, Clark? I don't think they heard you in Borneo.

Cat Grant is seated beside her.

Clark: Fascinating place, Borneo. They did some wonderful work there preserving the natural habitat of the native orang-utan.

He takes a seat beside Cat.

Cat: Mmmmmm (she stretches lazily, showing off the curves packed into a low-cut red dress) I love a well-travelled man. (she glances at Lois) They broaden my horizons.

Lois: (dryly) Assuming that's possible.

Cat narrows her eyes at her.

Jimmy: (from his seat opposite Clark) You know, orang-utans always look so wise.

Behind him, Perry arrives.

Cat: (smirking) Orang-utans throw mud at people at the zoo, Jimmy. (she throws a ball of paper at him to demonstrate)

Perry: (passing the table on route to his seat at its head) Scatter!

The staffers look up at him in en masse confusion.

Lois: What?

Perry: (as though it's obvious) Elvis's pet chimpanzee. Scatter. Poor little fella drank himself to death. (He spreads his arms to indicate the tragedy of this and seats himself.) All right, let's get started. Kent, what's up at the governor's office?

Clark: Uh… (he opens the file in front of him) We can expect a fiscal turnaround sometime next year.

Perry (sarcastically) Oh well, now, that's some news. (he looks to Lois) Washington?

Lois: Three more people are claiming to be the President's brother.

Perry: (a slow grin forming) Well…his father was a busy man, wasn't he?

The staffers laugh with him.

Jimmy: (hesitant) Those kids are still missing from the Beckworth School.

Perry: (impatient) Oh, Jimmy, come on! We've been using that as filler for the last three days! Nothing's changed. Now, what happened to your nose for news?

Jimmy: (waving a helpless hand) Uh…

Perry frowns and looks around the table.

Perry: Scandals?

Cat (shrugging) The usual.

Perry: Now, look, kids. There are twelve million people in the city of Metropolis. There's bound to be something of significance happening somewhere.

The TV set in the corner of the room suddenly jumps into life in a burst of static. The picture shows Phillip sitting at a desk, holding a piece of paper. A large, handmade sign behind him states "Smart Kids News" in blue and red. The staffers glance over at the TV, startled.

Phillip: We interrupt your regular programming to bring you this special report.

A fanfare of trumpets sounds. Phillip looks up into the air and then shakes his head before continuing.

Phillip: Smart Kids still at large. Authorities search for clues to kids' whereabouts.

Lois gets up from her seat, eyes fixed on the TV.

Phillip: Meanwhile, the kids say: (tone becomes menacing) "Leave us alone! Don't look for us. Don't try to get us back. Or else." (pause, then he resumes in a cheerful voice as everyone in the conference room stares at the TV) We now rejoin our show in progress.

The TV switches abruptly to a black and white cartoon. A pig sneaks up on a black-clad villain with a cartoon bomb. The villain screams and the pig laughs. Cat watches the cartoon action, with a fascinated smile.

The cartoon continues with two police officers tossing the villain into the back of their police van. The pig tosses the bomb into the back of the van with him. The staffers continue to watch. Clark turns his head with a puzzled frown to view Lois as she leans close at his shoulder. They exchange a confused glance, before looking back at the TV. On the TV screen, the pig falls down and lands in a shower of coins. The picture jumps to a studio, where Aymee and Dudley sit opposite one another.

Aymee: What I liked best about this film is the metaphorical content.

Jimmy turns to looks at his colleagues, slightly amused. Lois and Clark continue to watch, Clark shaking his head in bemusement as Lois straightens behind him.

Aymee: Porky, of course, is our Everyman character. And his antagonist is Death.

Perry sits, frowning at the TV, face twisting in bewilderment. He looks around the table – is this for real?

Aymee: Dudley?

Dudley: I agree, Aymee. Who amongst us have not felt the pangs of mortality? Yet, we persevere. I give this film my highest recommendation.

Cat's expression as she watches changes to that of an adult contemplating a kid who's getting too smart for his britches. On the screen, Dudley gives the camera a double thumbs-up. The camera pans to Aymee who gives a single thumbs-up.

Aymee: I second that. And that about wraps it up. Join us next time, when we review that classic of post-modernist angst, "Bongo's Bad Day". Ciao.

The trumpet fanfare sounds again as a voiceover from Aymee states: "This has been a production of… (a pause and the rest of the kids chime in)… the Smart Kids!" The TV switches itself off.

Lois: (shaking her head, amazed) Kids?

Cut to the Planet newsroom. Lois moves down a steel staircase, hotly pursued by Clark. They are clearly in the middle of a philosophical discussion.

Clark (passionately): It's theoretically impossible!

Perry approaches them as they reach their floor in the newsroom.

Perry: Every TV set in Metropolis!

Clark: And every channel!

Lois: Well, somebody's behind it. And it sure isn't a couple of grade-schoolers.

Cat: (arriving to follow after them as they move to their desks) What is post-modernist angst?

No one answers. Across the room, Jimmy comes towards them in a rush, clutching a bunch of photographs. He spreads them out on the desk beside them. They are black and white shots of the Smart Kids who appeared on the TV. Jimmy names them as he puts them down, one by one.

Jimmy: Phillip Manning, Aymee Valdez, Dudley Nicholas. 12, 11 and 11. (Clark and Lois pick up individual photos and examine them as Jimmy triumphantly continues – he knew there was a story in this) Three of the four kids who escaped from the Beckworth School last week. (he turns to Perry beside him) Did someone say something about a nose for news?

Perry: (smiling) That's good work, Jimmy. Now, what is this? A prank? A scam?

Cat moves around the desk and leans on it seductively.

Cat: (in a low drawl) Kids do the darnedest things.

Lois: (studying Aymee's picture) I keep thinking I've seen her somewhere before.

Perry: (to Lois and Clark) Okay. It's your baby. Give me some answers.

Clark hastily gathers up the photos, grabbing Aymee's from Lois, and the staffers scatter to their task, leaving Lois, still lost in her thoughts, trailing several seconds behind.

Lois: (looking up finally) Huh?

She looks around, realising she's on her own.

Cut to Luthor's penthouse. Luthor stands in the shadows, studying photographs of the Smart Kids. With him is a middle-aged man with an agitated air, wearing a dark-checked suit and bow-tie and slightly wind-blown white hair.

Dr. Carlton: We must get them back!

Luthor: Why so nervous, Dr. Carlton?

Dr. Carlton: (waving his hands about in agitation) You told me there would be no risk of exposure!

Luthor comes towards him, smiling as he continues to look at the photos in his hands.

Dr. Carlton: I have a reputation in the scientific community. I cannot afford to –

Luthor reaches him and – still smiling amiably – hauls off and slaps him across the face. Dr. Carlton falls back, stunned, landing in an antique chair behind him. He looks up at Luthor in disbelief and sudden fear, cowering as Luthor moves closer. Luthor's friendly smile is still in place, never having faltered for an instant.

Luthor: (solicitous) Better?

Dr. Carlton: (nodding, shakily) Yes.

Luthor's smile broadens in approval. He sits against the edge of the desk behind him, shaking his head slightly.

Luthor: (unconcerned) It's no time for panic. We'll have our little rug-rats back in the lab soon enough.

Dr. Carlton: But now the police are involved.

Luthor: Well, if they find them before we do they'll simply return them to the school. Ex hypothesi.

Dr. Carlton: But what if they talk?

Luthor: Well, they won't. They're too smart for that. If they do, it'll be their last taste of Mentamide 5. Now, do you think that they'd risk it?

Dr. Carlton: (suddenly brightening) No. The emotional dependence is too great.

Luthor: (spreading his hands in justification) Well then. Now… (he tosses the photos to the desk behind him, his tone firming, all business) …just how smart are they?

Dr. Carlton: (losing his fear as he becomes enthused by the science and his own cleverness, back on firm ground) Well, you see, I expected a 10 to 20 per cent rise in IQ. It seems to be a great deal more.

Luthor: Marvellous. Don't you think?

Dr. Carlton (nodding enthusiastically): Yes…yes.

Luthor: And how long before they reach stage two?

Dr. Carlton: Ah, well you see, that would depend upon the rate of absorption into each of their individual systems.

Luthor: Well, we'll need to pinpoint that data.

Dr. Carlton (face falling, suddenly anxious): Uh…but…erm…that would require…vivisection.

Luthor (laughing slightly): My dear, Dr. Carlton, you can't make chicken soup (he leans close, putting his hands on the arms of the chair to hem the doctor in, invading his space) without plucking a few chickens.

Dr. Carlton sinks back against the chair, his expression stunned. Luthor stares at him, soberly.

Cut to a chaotic Metropolis street. Traffic is backed up for miles, drivers honk their horns in a cacophony of frustration and harassed-looking traffic cops try to calm things down to no avail. The cause, for at least some of the cars, is a broken-down car at the head of the line. Steam belches from its engine as its driver looks helplessly under its hood. A traffic helicopter roars overhead.

In the middle of the jam sits a Metropolis yellow cab. Jimmy sits in the front passenger seat, absently tapping out a tune heard only in his head. Lois and Clark are in the back, Clark reading a Beckworth State School pamphlet.

Lois: (frustrated) This is a total waste of time.

Cabbie: What'd'ya want? I should pick up the cab and fly like Superman?

Clark lifts his head and looks at him, smiling slightly as Lois sneers:

Lois: In your dreams.

Clark: (reading from the pamphlet) The Beckworth State School, founded in 1953, (Lois looks bored and Jimmy tosses an amused glance at her, before going back to his own entertainment) is dedicated to fulfilling the educational needs of orphaned children who require the individual attention (the cabbie glances at the cab's meter, which clicks up another notch. Oblivious to all this byplay around him, Clark reads on) and specialised instruction available in a controlled environment.

Lois: Translation? Brats.

Clark: Why brats?

Lois: Because the public schools can't handle them, so they park them there to keep them out of trouble.

Clark: (protesting her casual writing off of these kids) That's sad.

Lois: They're problem kids, Clark.

Clark: Well, problem kids can be solved.

Lois: This story is a waste of time because it's entirely predictable.

Clark: (sceptically) How so?

Lois: A: Kids escape. B: Kids get mixed up in something that, at first, seems unusual, but is, in fact, uninteresting and dull once the facts are known. C: Kids are found and returned to school. End of story. (she taps him on the arm, sarcastic) This, you volunteered for. (point made, she comes to a sudden decision) We're walking. (To cabbie) How much?

Cabbie: Six fifty.

Jimmy and Lois open their doors and get out, Lois nudging Clark on the shoulder as she exits.

Lois: (meaningfully) Clark…

Clark hastily reaches into his jacket pocket for his wallet and hands some notes to the cabbie.

Cut to inside the Beckworth State School. Clark, Lois and Jimmy follow the school's headmistress through its corridors. The odd student passes by, but it's mostly pretty quiet.

Clark: All these students live here full-time?

Headmistress: (looking slightly anxious) That's correct.

Jimmy: Any of them ever get adopted?

Headmistress: At their ages, the chances are poor. This is their home. This escape has been very unsettling for all of us.

Clark is drawn to a nearby classroom. The others follow his lead and stop there as he casually peers through the window-blinds for a moment before he and Lois turn back to the headmistress.

Lois: Did you ever consider the possibility that they were kidnapped or coerced to leave?

Headmistress: Yes, we have. The police have, too. You see (they begin walking again, following her down the corridor) it would explain a lot.

Clark: Is there anything else that links these particular students? (the headmistress stops. Lois looks at Clark with interest.) They seemed…unusual.

Headmistress: No, nothing. I mean, for what it's worth, they're all very bright kids.

Jimmy has wandered over to the door marked infirmary. He tries the handle, but the room is locked. The headmistress notes his interest.

Headmistress: Oh, the infirmary stays closed when Dr. Carlton isn't here.

Lois looks up from where she's been writing furiously in her notepad, as Jimmy wanders back to the group.

Lois: Dr. Carlton?

Headmistress: Alfred Carlton. Staff physician.

Lois nods, noting down the name. Clark glances at the infirmary and surreptitiously pulls down his glasses.

Headmistress: He gives his time to the school, free of charge.

As she continues to explain, Clark uses his x-ray vision to look into the infirmary. He sees a cleaner pushing a pile of shredded paper down into a garbage bag.

Headmistress: He also has a degree in clinical psychology. He's been enormously helpful in our testing and counselling programs.

Clark pushes his glasses back into place as the infirmary door opens and the cleaner comes out, carrying the garbage bag.

Jimmy: He must be busy now, with the kids being upset about their missing classmates and all.

The cleaner dumps the bag at the side of the corridor and moves off, Clark's attention still on him as the others listen to the headmistress.

Headmistress: Actually, no. He wanted to let things calm down a bit before he began therapy.

Clark returns his attention to the headmistress.

Headmistress: Frankly, waiting seemed contraindicated to me, but…ah…(suddenly seeming to realise she's criticising a colleague they have need of to reporters)…he's the expert.

There's a small moment of silence, then the headmistress ushers them on.

Headmistress: If you'll all just come with me to my office then I'll get you the copies of the kids' files.

She seems anxious again. As the group follows her, passing the discarded garbage bag, Clark reaches out with super-speed, grabs some of the shredded paper out of the bag and shoves it into his pants pocket.

Following at the tail-end of the group, Lois is distracted by a noticeboard on the wall. As she peers more closely at one of the flyers tacked to it, a ball suddenly whacks her on the hip. Gasping in surprise, she jumps and turns to see a young girl standing further down the corridor, smiling at her.

Lois (approaching her, sternly) Now, listen to me, young lady –

Inez: I'm Inez. What's your name?

Lois: (curtly) Lois. Lois Lane. Now, listen carefully, Inez. I am not a target. I am an adult. You cannot just go and -

Inez: (urgently) Aymee's my big sister. Aymee Valdez. She escaped. You have to help her!

Lois (concerned now) Help her how?

Inez: She'll come back for me. I know she will. But then he'll catch her.

Lois: (bending down closer to her level, putting a hand on her shoulder) Who? Who'll catch her?

Inez: I can't say!

Lois: Listen, Inez. The best thing for Aymee is for her to come back and be caught.

Inez: (shaking her head, frustrated by the stupidity of adults) You don't know anything.

She runs off. Lois straightens to look after her, looking concerned.

Cut to a damp and mist-shrouded wharf in Hobb's Bay. Day. A clutter of crates stand on the quayside; from the objects scattered around and sitting on top of them, they appear to be full of expensive antiques, including several Roman statues and an Egyptian sarcophagus.

Phillip and Dudley appear around the corner of some of the crates and make their way along the corridor formed by the others.

Phillip: (stunned) How much is left on the credit card?

Dudley: (shrugging, laconic) A couple thousand.

Phillip: (eyes widening) That's it? I thought he was the richest man in Metropolis?

Dudley: Hey, everything costs money, Phillip. Supplies, equipment –

Phillip: I knew that TV stunt was a mistake!

Dudley: It was fun!

They turn the corner of a nearby building and walk into the cage of an elevator.

Phillip: It was expensive!

Dudley: We had to let them know to leave us alone.

Dudley leans casually against the back wall of the elevator as Phillip hauls the door shut.

Phillip: Well, I don't think it worked.

The elevator descends below street level. It stops at a basement room, a combination of playroom and science lab. A strange mix of items are scattered around, beeping equipment jostling for room with gumball and arcade game machines. Aymee and Karen, working at a pulsating ElectroStatic ball, look up as the boys exit the elevator.

Aymee: (walking towards them) Surveillance systems up and running. We've got the town wired. It's like a giant video game.

Dudley: Have you tightened the lasers?

Aymee (shaking her head) I'm waiting on components.

Phillip: (rolling his eyes skyward) Which we can't afford.

Dudley: (nudging him in the ribs) We'll come up with something. You worry too much.

Phillip: Well, someone's got to. I mean, look at this place. It's a mess!

Aymee: (protesting) We're kids!

Phillip: Yeah, but we're Smart Kids. We don't have to live like this.

Aymee: What a grouch! Just because you're the oldest and you've been on the Smart Stuff the longest –

Phillip: And that's another thing! We're almost out. You wanna go back to being dumb?

Aymee: We'll get more. I'll do the job myself. Soon as I rescue Inez.

Phillip: (shaking his head emphatically) No way!

Aymee: I'm going. And you can't stop me.

She pushes him hard against the shoulder in emphasis. Phillip stares back at her. They lock gazes for a moment, in a standoff. Then Dudley, who's been playing the arcade machine with Karen during this confrontation, comes over to them, grinning, breaking the moment. Aymee and Phillip look at him.

Phillip: (irritated) What are you so happy about?

Dudley: (smugly, folding his arms) I think we've got the money thing licked.

Cut to a bank customer tapping his code number into an ATM machine. A queue waits patiently behind him. At its end are Lois and Clark. Clark is holding a ball of shredded paper in his cupped hands, poring over it as he tries to decipher any information. Lois watches him with folded arms.

Lois: Anything?

Clark: (shaking his head ruefully) I don't even know what I'm looking for.

Lois: (spotting something among the mess of paper strips) What's Mentamide 5? (she reaches over and tugs at a strip of paper)

Clark (shaking his head) Never heard of it. It's mentioned several times though. Maybe it's some kind of medication?

Lois reaches into her purse and pulls out her wallet.

Lois: That reminds me. Don't you think it's strange –

Behind her a low, grinding noise sounds. Clark glances over his shoulder, distracted by it. Lois continues, oblivious.

Lois: - that that school doctor would delay counselling to the kids left behind? Isn't that the sort of thing you'd start right away?

At the kerb, a driver is changing the back wheel on his car. Unbeknown to him, the jack holding the car up is beginning to buckle. Clark divides his attention between watching the car with a concerned frown and focusing on what Lois is saying.

Clark: (as the grinding sound continues) That'd be my guess. We should talk to him directly.

Lois: As soon as possible.

Behind them, the jack is getting ready to snap – and the driver, frustrated by a wheel that won't move into place, leans forward and ducks his head and shoulders directly beneath the car.

Lois: You know, Inez seemed genuinely frightened.

Clark: (glancing over his shoulder again and shifting his stance slightly) Poor kid.

Lois: (still oblivious to the small drama unfolding behind her, distracted as the queue moves forward) Yeah…

She moves up with the rest of the queue, now a few paces ahead of Clark. The jack snaps – and in the instant that the car begins to drop, Clark darts out a hand at super-speed and catches it under the bumper, holding it up. The driver starts to withdraw from beneath the car, oblivious to his danger as Clark glances over at Lois. But she has her back to him and is deep in her own thoughts; she notices nothing.

The driver gets clear and starts to rise to his feet, then stops as the car suddenly settles a few inches downward in front of him.

Driver (baffled) What?

As he stares at the car, confused, trying to figure out what just happened, Clark lets go and moves up beside Lois again, as though nothing happened. Lois resumes the conversation, unaware that he'd even left her side.

Lois: I thought those kids on TV seemed really smart.

Clark (glancing back momentarily to check the driver is still okay) Too smart.

Lois: (turning to face him, emphatic) There's no such thing as too smart.

Clark: Yes, there is.

Lois: Borscht! Just because they're involved in a few stunts. (she gives him a 'don't be dumb' look) They're…just…kids! (she nods, point proven)

They've moved up to the head of the queue now. Lois steps forward and inserts her bank card into the ATM machine's slot as Clark ambles up behind her, shaking his head and smiling slightly.

Lois punches some buttons and the ATM begins to process her request. It whirs and then beeps. The money slot opens. Lois reaches in and takes out the cash within. She stares at it, frowning at first as she flicks through the notes and then mouth-opening wide as she realises that it's fake money. The notes are stamped "Smart Bucks Metropoly Money." Lois turns to look at Clark in disbelief. He shrugs, grinning and apes her earlier tone.

Clark: They're…just…kids!

Lois sighs, thoroughly annoyed, as Clark chuckles.

Cut to the outside of the Beckworth State School. Night. Aymee, dressed all in black with a black cap hiding her blonde hair and her face streaked with dark camouflage paint, sneaks up to the iron gates at the front entrance and fiddles with the buttons on Dudley's electronic device. After a moment, the keypad on the gates clicks over from red to green. The gate opens. Aymee pushes it wide and slips through.

She moves warily up the stairs to the front door, looking around her. Suddenly, behind her, the gate clangs shut again, the keypad clicking back to red. She turns to look at it, then back with a startled gasp as a heavy hand lands on her shoulder. She looks up at a uniformed security guard. He stares down at her with a stern expression as she looks up at him, wide-eyed.

Cut to Lois's apartment. Lois comes into the bathroom, dressed in a robe, intent on reading the newspaper. She carries a mug in her other hand, but puts it down on a cabinet as she passes by. She continues on, still engrossed in reading as she turns on the taps in the bath. Fixed on the newspaper, she reaches out blindly to run a hand under the water, testing its heat. Then, suddenly, she notices that the liquid coming out of the tap and coating her fingers isn't water but something viscous and green.

Lois: (grimacing in disgust as she tries to shake it off her fingers) Urgh…

She turns off the tap and looks at her slime-coated fingers in disgust. Behind her, the phone begins to ring. With another exclamation of distaste, she hastily picks up a towel and wipes her hand before picking up the phone.

Lois: (flustered) Yes?

Inez: It's me. Inez.

Lois: Inez?

Cut to the inside of the headmistress's office at the Beckworth School. A nameplate on the desk reads Mrs. Powell. Inez sits behind the desk in her nightgown and robe as she speaks into the phone.

Inez: (impatiently) From the school. Is it past your bedtime?

Cut to Lois's apartment. She rolls her eyes at the question.

Lois: (slightly irritated) Inez, how did you get this number?

Inez: Information.

Lois: I'm not listed.

Inez: I copied it off Mrs. Powell's desk.

Lois: Isn't it past your bedtime?

Inez: I don't have a bedtime.

Lois: (softening with a small smile) All little girls have bedtimes.

Inez: Not me.

Lois: (sceptical) Inez, why are you calling?

Inez: Aymee's in trouble. They caught her. She came back for me.

Lois: (frowning) Who caught her?

Inez: The policemen.

Lois: (reassuring) Inez, Aymee is better off being caught.

Inez: No! He'll get her.

Lois: Who?

Inez: I can't say!

Lois: One of the other kids?

Inez: No.

Lois: One of the teachers?

Inez: Not exactly.

Lois: (pausing as she thinks it through and comes to the right conclusion) Dr. Carlton?

Inez doesn't answer. Out in the lighted corridor outside Mrs. Powell's office a shadow moves past the door and briefly tries the door handle before moving on.

Inez: Can't say.

Lois: (determined) I'll take care of it.

She puts down the phone. She draws a hand through her hair and sighs heavily.

Cut to Mrs. Powell's office. Day. Mrs. Powell sits behind her desk, signing a form. Dr. Carlton hovers over her as Clark and Lois, seated on the desk's other side, watch.

Dr. Carlton: (to Mrs. Powell) It's not in the child's best interest. (He straightens and begins to move around the desk towards Clark, switching his protest to him) Besides, legally –

Clark: - legally, we have here a faxed copy of authorisation from Mrs. Valdez. (He reaches into his jacket pocket and withdraws a document.) Aymee's mother. (He hands the document to Dr. Carlton, who all but snatches it from him).

Dr. Carlton: (surprised) Mrs. Valdez?

He quickly scans the document as Mrs. Powell looks over at him.

Dr. Carlton: Mrs. Valdez gave the child up for adoption. (he hands the document to Mrs. Powell, who puts on her glasses and looks it over.) She has no rights!

Lois: Just because she doesn't currently hold custody doesn't mean she has no rights. (Dr. Carlton straightens, squaring his shoulders, and glares at her. Lois switches her focus to Mrs. Powell) Aymee's already escaped from the school once. (Mrs. Powell looks up at her – she's listening) Maybe this isn't the place she wants to be. Maybe, we should try something else.

Dr. Carlton: (impatiently) Children don't know what they want. Or what's right for them.

Mrs. Powell takes off her glasses and directs an annoyed look at him. Clearly, she doesn't agree.

Lois: (challenging) Is that your professional opinion?

Dr. Carlton suddenly seems to realise that he's lost the argument. He glances around at them, slightly flustered and takes a moment to regroup.

Dr. Carlton: Uh, well, I'm just…uh…concerned for the child's welfare.

Mrs. Powell: We all are, Dr. Carlton. I see no reason why Aymee can't stay with Miss Lane on a temporary basis.

Dr. Carlton looks over at Lois dismayed. Lois smiles, relieved.

Mrs. Powell: I'll leave word that she's to be released into your custody.

Clark and Lois exchange pleased glances as Dr. Carlton looks frustrated.

Cut to a bustling Metropolis street. Day. Clark and Lois walk along the street, beside an outdoor café, with brightly-coloured umbrellas and diners enjoying the sunshine. In the near distance, the sound of a jackhammer disturbs the ambiance.

Clark: How you pulled this off, I will never –

Lois: Well, once I found Mrs. Valdez, the rest was easy. Her husband left when Aymee was four and Inez was just a baby. No money, no job, no family to help out. (she shrugs in sympathy) She felt her only choice was to give up her kids.

Clark: That's pretty tough on everyone.

Lois: Yeah. (pause) Now, all I have to do is find out about the other missing kids.

Clark: Lois, children don't automatically open up. You have to earn their trust.

Lois: (laughing a protest) The day that I can't outsmart an 11-year-old is the day that I hang up my press pass.

Clark: Maybe. But these are unusually bright kids. No one even knows how they're doing all this stuff.

They cross the street.

Lois: They're bright, but they're not that bright. Look, I was a smart kid. That doesn't mean I could outwit an entire city or hold my own with competent adults. Well…some I could…most actually, but that's –

Clark: Lois, have you ever actually taken care of a child?

Lois: My sister, Lucy.

Clark: (as though proving a point) Uh-huh.

Lois pulls him to a gentle stop with a hand on his arm.

Lois: If you're implying that I'm not capable of handling this juvenile, you are in for a big surprise. (she pokes him in the chest for emphasis).

They've arrived at their destination. The Metropolis Police Department. They enter the building.

Lois: She'll be putty in my hands.

An ironic jazz theme mocks her words.

Cut to Lois's apartment. Night. Lois sits in her sofa in the middle of the living room, wrapped from neck to waist in green plastic rope. Her hands are also tied at the wrists. She struggles in her bonds, grimacing and rolling her eyes with weary resignation.

Nearby, Aymee makes a few, final adjustments to the TV set and hits her hand on top of it in satisfaction.

Aymee: See? You'll get all the channels now. And, you won't even have to pay for them.

Lois glares at her.

Lois: (through gritted teeth) Thank you, Aymee. I'm so pleased. (pause, then, clearly holding on to her temper) Could we just talk in a calm, rational manner?

Aymee: (shrugging) Sure. (she points an admonishing finger) Because – before – you were yelling.

Lois: (yelling) I was not - ! (pause, then deliberately calm) I may have…raised my voice…

Aymee nods in agreement, smiling smugly at her.

Lois: Does this stuff come off?

Aymee: You just want me to tell you where the other kids are, because you're a reporter and you think we'd make a good story. And that's why you took me. Right?

Lois: (trying for sincerity – and failing) Of course not.

Aymee makes a quiz show buzzer noise.

Aymee: Ehh. Wrong answer.

Lois (sighing) Aymee, if you and the other kids are in trouble, I can help you. Who did this to you? (she jerks against the ropes tying her down).

Aymee: (playing innocent) Did what?

Lois: (impatient) Took you out of the school.

Aymee: (firmly) No one. We're on our own, okay? And we don't need you or any other stupid, old adults butting in.

Lois mouths a repeat of 'old', looking aghast. Then, rallies.

Lois: (sarcastic) Really? Then why don't you just leave and go back to them? I'm not exactly in a position to stop you.

Aymee turns away and walks casually to the TV. She turns back, striving for cool and unconcerned.

Aymee: This is a nice place. I like it here.

Lois makes the same quiz show buzzer noise that Aymee used a moment before.

Lois: Ehh. Wrong answer!

Aymee: (irritated) Okay! I can't risk being followed back. Besides, my sister Inez likes you. She's a good judge of character.

Lois: You know, we do have something in common. My parents are divorced and I have a little sister, too.

Aymee: (hitting a nearby table top with the flat of her hand, angry) You don't know anything about me or my family!

Lois: That's not true. I talked to your mother. She's very concerned –

Aymee: My mother doesn't care anything about me.

Lois: (sighing) Aymee…sometimes…it's very helpful to talk to an impartial…understanding adult.

Aymee laughs with derision.

Aymee: (pointing) You?!

Lois: (smiling desperately, knowing she's losing grip of this conversation) I would just like for us to be friends. That's all.

Aymee, smiling, picks up a spray bottle from the table. It's filled with an orange liquid.

Lois: (wary) Aymee, what's that? (pause) Aymee, what are you doing?

Aymee, still smiling, advances slowly towards her, pointing the spray bottle at her, with her finger on the trigger.

Lois: (worriedly, almost begging) Aymee…

Aymee sprays the liquid at her, smiling broadly and enjoying every minute of her discomfort.

Lois: Urggh…

She grimaces as the liquid covers her torso, but as the moments pass, it becomes clear that the liquid is dissolving the 'rope'. Her bonds are loosening. Still grimacing in disgust, she pulls the ropes free; her hands are covered with a gooey, green liquid. She looks up at Aymee, still the curious reporter, despite her discomfort.

Lois: How does this stuff - ?

Aymee: Uh, sorry. (she sits on the sofa next to Lois, holding up warding off hands) Can't say. (she waves a mock-disgusted hand at Lois) You should clean yourself up. You're a big mess.

Lois looks disgruntled.

Cut to outside the Beckworth State School. Day. Inside, Dr. Carlton enters the infirmary, Lois and Clark in tow.

Dr. Carlton: The streets of Metropolis are no place for unsupervised, delinquent children!

Lois: Unsupervised? So, you don't believe that someone else, an adult, a group of adults, is behind the escape?

Dr. Carlton: (slightly flustered) I didn't say that. We simply don't have the facts. I am a scientist, and I abhor rampant, unsubstantiated speculation.

Clark: In fact, you're a distinguished scientist. Your work on experimental neuropsychology is world-renowned.

Dr. Carlton: (flattered despite himself) Oh…well. You've done your homework, Mr. Kent.

Clark: That still doesn't explain why a researchist of your credentials is working as a school doctor in a place like this.

Dr. Carlton: Ah, well, you see, I think of it as accounting.

As Carlton speaks, Clark pulls down his glasses slightly and uses his magnifying vision to grab a quick peek at various piles of files and documents lying around the room, before returning his attention to the doctor.

Dr. Carlton: After all, the doctor-patient relationship is the framework for all medical science.

Lois listens, sceptical. Clark moves idly to the back of the room as she continues to question the doctor. Continuing to use his magnifying vision he scans the tables and finds a row of slides, marked as containing various chemicals. One is marked Mentamide 5.

Lois: Then why, after the break-out, didn't you think it necessary to counsel the other students immediately?

Clark gives them a quick glance over his shoulder to ensure neither is looking his way.

Lois: To help them cope with any anxiety?

Dr. Carlton: Ummm. (pause) I made an evaluation.

Using super-speed, Clark quickly reaches out and grabs the slides before returning to stand next to Lois.

Dr. Carlton: I made an evaluation based upon criteria which…uh…a layperson such as yourself couldn't possibly comprehend.

Lois: That's convenient.

Dr. Carlton's superior smile slips a notch.

Lois turns sharply on her heel and leaves. Clark gives the doctor a knowing look before following her. Behind them, the doctor gnaws anxiously at his knuckles.

Cut to the corridor outside the infirmary as Lois and Clark emerge.

Lois: (annoyed) Delinquent children, my -- ! What a jackass!

Clark: Look what I found.

He takes the stolen slides out of his jacket pocket and shows them to her.

Lois: Mentamide 5? (then as realisation strikes) "Found"?!

She's raised her voice slightly. There's a pause as Clark hastily returns the slides to his pocket, and Lois glances at a passing student, hoping they didn't hear or notice. They walk on, oblivious.

Lois: (lowering her voice a little and folding her arms, reproving) You mean stole, don't you?

Clark: (defensive) Well, I –

Lois: (disbelieving) You took advantage of a privileged interview situation to grab potentially incriminating evidence from an unsuspecting subject!

Clark is looking increasingly sheepish now. He opens his mouth to offer an apology, in agreement with her assessment that his behaviour was reprehensible – and Lois reaches out and enthusiastically grabs him by the jacket lapels. She yanks him close.

Lois: (grinning broadly) Oh, I love that!

She makes a happy squeal and lets him go before rushing off along the corridor. Clark stands for an instant, looking stunned, before he chuckles and follows, shaking his head at her capriciousness.

Cut to Luthor's apartment. Night. The penthouse doors as open on to the balcony to let in the night air. Luthor lies naked and draped in a towel as a burly, female masseuse gives him a vigorous massage. She pauses in her pummelling as the phone rings and he picks up.

Luthor: (slightly breathless) Yes. (pause) Wait…uh… (he looks at the masseuse) Helga, thank you. (he hands her his credit card) And add a nice tip for yourself.

Helga nods, grim-faced and then gives him a hefty slap on the butt before leaving. Luthor directs a dark look after her as he watches her go, then returns his attention to the phone.

Luthor: Yes, doctor. Yes, what is it? (pause) Is that so? (another pause) Well, I see your point, perhaps you should leave town for a while.

He gathers the towel around his waist and moves to sit on the edge of the masseuse table.

Luthor: (laughing) No, of course I'm not angry with you. You've done splendid work. The papers are filled with accounts of their exploits. I feel like… (he stretches) …like a proud father. (pause) Well, why don't you come over now? I'll have your final payment waiting.

He switches off the phone, smiling. Helga reappears, holding up his credit card and looking unamused.

Helga: Refused. Over ze limit.

Luthor: (laughing) That's impossible. I have a line of credit of $5 million in that account.

Helga: (unimpressed) Sure you do.

She crushes the credit card in one hand. Luthor looks up from where he's been rearranging his towel, smiling, then does a quick double-take, his smile slipping as he realises what she's doing. Helga drops the remains of the card and folds her arms, threateningly.

Luthor: Would you…take a cheque?

Cut to a Metropolis night-sky. Superman flies amongst the lighted skyscrapers of the city. He cruises over a large fairground, where the screams of those riding the rollercoasters reach him. He flies on, continuing his patrol. Over a lighted sports stadium, where a game of baseball is in progress. Finally, patrol over, he lands in a darkened alley, at the back of a bar, around the corner from the Planet. Looking carefully around, he runs around a corner, into a shadowed storage area, and emerges dressed as Clark. He walks casually from the alley as a voice says:

Phillip: Freeze.

The image of Clark in the alley freezes and we realise that it's a video replay. Phillip and the other children watch the tape in their darkened basement lair.

Phillip: Run it back.

Dudley runs the tape back at fast speed, stops it as Superman hovers in mid-air just prior to landing, then runs it forward again, stopping once more as Clark emerges from the alley. He is smiling. He and Phillip exchange knowing glances, smirking.

Cut to the Daily Planet. Clark sits at his desk, reading through papers.

Voice offscreen and distant: Clark Kent?

Clark looks up as he hears his name mentioned. A uniformed delivery-man approaches his desk, holding out a long, white envelope, which he hands to Clark.

Clark: Thank you.

The envelope is addressed "CLARK KENT, DAILY PLANET" in large, black capital letters. Frowning, Clark turns it over and opens it. Inside is a single sheet of paper. He unfolds it. In the same black letters, it proclaims:


Clark stares at it, aghast.

Cut to the Daily Planet conference room. Clark is watching the TV screen and another Smart Kids news announcement. Phillip sits behind the desk, reading from a sheet of paper, as trumpets fanfare.

Phillip: This just in. Water supply returns to normal. How did they do it? (chuckles) You'll never know. (Clark looks over his shoulder at Jimmy and Lois as they watch the screen). Meanwhile, the kids say again – "Leave us alone." It's a big city. Lots more can go wrong with it. The reign of the Smart Kids continues.

The TV sets switches itself off.

Lois: (sardonic) Wonderful. (to Jimmy) Okay. So what did you find on Mentamide 5?

Jimmy: (reading from a report in front of him) It's an organic stew. Amino acids, neuotransmitters, herbs, you name it. It's so complex, not even S.T.A.R Labs computers can analyse it completely. They were able to produce a synthetic facsimile, though.

He hands a sheet of paper to Lois, who glances at it.

Lois: So…?

Jimmy: So, they're testing the synthetic. Nothing conclusive yet, but it seems to stimulate cerebral hyperactivity in lab rats.

Lois: (grimacing and handing the paper to Clark) Translation, please?

Clark: (taking the paper from her) They got smarter.

Jimmy: A lot smarter.

Lois: These kids are on their own.

Clark: And somebody's been using them as guinea pigs.

Lois: I have a pretty good suspicion who. Mr. Experimental Neuropsychology.

She walks over to the phone and begins to dial.

Lois: Dr. Carlton, please.

Clark looks up at her.

Lois: Lois Lane. (pause) When? (pause) Thank you. (She puts down the phone and looks at the others.) He took a leave of absence. No forwarding address. (she gives them a meaningful look)

Jimmy: I'm going to go back to the labs, keep tabs on the testing. I'll let you guys know.

He gathers his files and leaves. Clark nods, watching him go. There's a moment's silence.

Clark: How's Aymee doing?

Lois: I now get all the channels on my cable and I don't even have to pay for them. (she perches herself on the edge of the conference table, next to him.)

Clark: (ruefully) I guess that means no progress.

Lois (shaking her head) She won't even talk to me. I'm an adult, so that makes me the enemy.

Clark: Well, think about all she's been through. Orphaned. Force-fed drugs. I mean, do you blame her?

Lois: No. Even growing up in a normal household it's tough being a kid. Everybody telling you what to do all day long.

Clark (smiling) Even if you're smart enough to have better ideas yourself? Does this bring back memories?

Lois: (smiling reluctantly) I guess I'll give it another try.

She gets up to leave.

Clark: (musingly) I bet you were a cute kid.

Lois: (surprised then, being cute, smiling) I'm still a cute kid.

She smiles broadly at him as she leaves. As she heads through the conference room door, she passes another uniformed delivery-man. He is carrying a very large, square box, wrapped in brightly-coloured paper and topped with a large, blue bow. He sets it down on the table in front of Clark, who's been sitting, elbow on table, chin resting in the palm of his hand, as he wistfully watches Lois leave.

Clark: (straightening up with a frown) Thank you.

He gets to his feet as the delivery-man leaves and opens the box. Two silver, helium-filled balloons rise upwards into the air. Attached to their strings is a plain, white card in the style of an invitation with the following message:

Time: 2.00 p.m.
Place: 344 Clinton.
Attire: Superman Costume.

Smart Kids

Clark: (thinking) 2.00 p.m., Superman Costume, Smart Kids….

He looks at the card again and sighs heavily.

Cut to Clark's apartment. A table-tennis table has been set up in the middle of the living-room. Clark, dressed in t-shirt and shorts, play a frenetic game of table-tennis with himself, racing back and forth at super-speed. Finally, a particularly hard return sends the ball flying to the other end of the apartment, where we hear something smash and shatter. Clark grimaces and drops the bat to the table. He glances at the wall clock. It's almost 2 p.m. It seems like a good point to stop.

He heads over to his sofa. In front of it, a video camera has been set-up on a tripod – obviously not by Clark. A large notice stuck to the camera declares: Do Not Touch.

Clark hastily gets to work. At super-speed, he throws some dirty clothes over the back of the sofa and onto its cushions. He sets out pizza boxes and an empty beer bottle on the table in front of the sofa. He puts a filter into the neck of the beer bottle and fills it with apple juice before removing the filter. He takes a slice of pizza from the box and lays it, together with a scrunched-up napkin covered with pizza sauce on top of the pizza box. Then, he pours some tomato ketchup into a small, plastic cup.

Finally, he pulls a ratty dressing-gown over the top of his shorts and t-shirt, kicks off his shoes and slumps down on the sofa.

Just in time. There's a burst of static and a whine and the camera jumps into life. Phillip and Dudley appear on the screen.

Phillip: (smugly) How come you're not wearing your suit, Superman?

Clark picks up the slice of pizza and takes a large bite.

Clark: (muffled around the pizza) I don't have a suit. I'm not Superman.

Phillip: (ignoring that and reading from a sheet of paper in his hands) Here's what we want. An F-18 Hornet fighter jet….

Dudley: (whispering into his ear) Painted red and yellow.

Phillip: Painted red and yellow. (Clark continues to munch pizza as he listens, frowning in studied bemusement) Four mountain bikes, an emerald – 10 carets at least – 3 aqua-lungs, we want a 100 pounds of Gooey Bears and an island. That's all we can think of for now, Superman.

Clark: (protesting strongly) I'm not him! I wish I was! What makes you think that I am Superman?

Dudley: We saw you land.

Clark: Land?

Dudley: In the alley? Last night, behind the Daily Planet.

Clark: (acting as though it's all becoming suddenly clear) Oh! (he tosses the pizza to the table and licks his fingers) I didn't land there. Superman did. I was just waiting for him. As a matter of fact, he'd been out looking for you. He hadn't found anything, so I left and went to my office.

Phillip: (confused) Well, why would Superman be looking for us?

Clark: He's worried about you. So am I. Are you guys okay?

Phillip: (not convinced) Where did Superman go after you left?

Clark: Down a manhole, check the sewers, to see if you were somehow down there.

The two boys glance at each other, uncertainly.

Dudley: (whispering) That could be true. We don't have underground surveillance.

They look back at the screen. Clark is pouring his 'beer' into a glass. He takes a long drink.

Dudley: Well, not yet.

Clark suddenly drops the glass. It shatters at his feet. He groans.

Clark: Ohhh…

He reaches down, as though to pick up the broken glass – and surreptitiously dips his finger into the small cup of tomato ketchup, sitting beside him. He yanks back his hand, feigning a small cry of pain and examines the red-smeared finger.

Clark: (feigning a grimace of pain) Ah…

The boys look at each other, bewildered, as Clark sucks the 'wounded' finger clear of 'blood' aka ketchup.

Cut to the boy's in their basement lair, watching Clark on screen

Phillip: (hastily, convinced by now that they've made a mistake): We'll think about it and call you back tomorrow.

He picks up the remote and switches off the camera.

Dudley: (bewildered) Superman doesn't bleed, does he?

Phillip: (shrugging, not quite prepared to admit he got it wrong) I don't know.

Cut to Clark's apartment, where he still sits, sucking on his finger.

Clark: (sighing heavily) I hope that worked.

Cut to Lois's apartment. Aymee sits on the floor, sobbing hysterically. In front of her lies a large tangle of wires and mechanical parts. Lois enters the apartment and tosses her purse to the table, concerned, as she spots her.

Lois: (moving to crouch beside her) Aymee, what's wrong?

Aymee: (through tears) I'm not so smart any more. (she looks up at Lois, distraught) I-I took this apart to make it work better, then I couldn't put it back together.

Lois's expression softens. She pulls Aymee close and hugs her, stroking her hair.

Lois: (soothing) It's all right. It's all right.

Aymee: I think I broke it.

Lois: Oh, it's just a dumb old thing. It doesn't matter. (She takes Aymee's hands in hers and draws her to her feet.) Aymee… (they sit together on the sofa) I know about Mentamide 5. And what Dr. Carlton was doing to you and the other kids. It's awful.

Aymee: It made us smarter.

Lois: (gently) It made you something you're not ready to be. We start off as kids so we can learn to be adults. When I was a kid, I thought all adults were incredibly stupid. (she laughs) I thought it was because their bodies kept growing and their brains stayed the same size, like dinosaurs.

Aymee laughs through her tears.

Lois: (sobering) It's just not that simple.

Aymee stares at her, recognising the truth of this.

Aymee: Do you want to know how the Smart Stuff works?

Lois smiles and nods.

Lois: Only if you're ready to tell me.

Aymee gets to her feet and walks to stand in front of the window, before turning back to Lois.

Aymee: (still tearful, but calmer) At first…you don't even notice. Then things just get easier. You understand everything. You remember everything. But if you stop taking it, you get dumb again. Like me, now. It's just so hard to go back and forth from being smart to dumb. That's why we escaped.

Lois: Why didn't you tell someone?

Aymee: Would you have believed a bunch of problem kids?

Lois sighs. She can't deny that one.

Lois: (after a pause) Do the other kids have enough Smart Stuff to last them?

Aymee: (shaking her head) They're probably running out.

Lois: What will they do?

Aymee: (sitting down on the sofa again, agitated) I can't say!

Lois: Can you at least tell me where they are?

Aymee: If they get caught…no more Smart Kids.

Lois: (smiling gently) Would that be so bad?

Aymee: It's up to them.

Lois: (reaching out to push back a lock of Aymee's hair and put her hand against her cheek) Is it so bad for you?

Aymee moves to snuggle up close and Lois enfolds her in a hug. Aymee shakes her head.

Aymee: (whispering) Not so bad.

Lois strokes her hair.

Cut to Luthor's penthouse. Luthor paces before his desk, unlit cigar in hand. Dr. Carlton sits in the chair opposite the desk, mostly offscreen, only a patch of his white hair visible.

Luthor: Well, we knew precisely how many had escaped. We knew precisely how much Mentamide 5 they had with them and so, therefore, we were able to predict, with reasonable accuracy, how long it would be before they came looking for a refill.

Dr. Carlton giggles.

Luthor: (circling around the desk and behind the doctor's chair) Well, yes, granted, it would have been easier if we'd caught them sooner, but then I'd have been denied (he leans an arm on the back of the doctor's chair, reaches down and picks up a newspaper) the pleasure of watching them perform.

Dr. Carlton makes mumbling noises.

Luthor: (shaking open the newspaper and chuckling as he shakes his head) I must say, doctor, you have outdone yourself.

Dr. Carlton grunts quietly. Luthor moves around to the front of his chair.

Luthor: And I'm sure, that with the proper time and the testing, that we'll overcome the stage two problem.

Dr. Carlton makes choking, grunting noises.

Luthor: Exactly. (He glances at his watch) Soon, our young Einsteins will mount their assault on LexLabs. There they will find Mentamide 5 and they will drink. (he laughs and moves back behind his desk as Carlton mumbles) Yes, but (shaking a finger at the doctor), of course, it won't be Mentamide 5, but new, concentrated Mentamide 6!

Dr. Carlton mumbles strongly. He lifts up one arm and lets it fall again.

Luthor: (pleased with himself) And then they'll be transported directly to stage two.

Carlton is becoming increasingly agitated, his moans and grunts becoming louder as his body jerks and thrashes.

Luthor: Don't pass go! Don't collect $200!

Carlton moans despairingly and throws up his arm again. It falls limply and hits his knee.

Luthor: (chuckling and pointing at him) Yes! A real knee-slapper!

He slaps his own knee in emphasis as Carlton continues to moan and jerk. Luthor pauses, sobering, and then moves up close to stand in front of the doctor's chair. Carlton's arm is now hovering in mid-air. Luthor takes hold of the doctor's hand in his own and gently lowers the arm so that his hand rests on his knee again. It stays limply where he places it, twitching.

The camera rises from that limp hand to Dr. Carlton's face. His eyes stare blankly. In his mouth, a funnel has been placed, and strapped to his skull. Luthor quietly removes it and then places it on the top of the doctor's head, like a clown's hat. Breath gurgles slowly and laboriously from the doctor's mouth as Luthor pulls the neck of Carlton's jacket closer against his throat.

Luthor straightens, picking up a glass flask filled with a blue liquid and sniffing at it. The doctor continues to stare blankly, his eyes registering dazed confusion.

Luthor: Ah, listen, doctor, I've arranged a little entertainment for this evening.

Carlton's head jerks as though he's agreeing.

Luthor: Nothing fancy. Wine, beautiful women, strip charades. (he looks up briefly as there's a knock at the door, then back down to the doctor) Perhaps you'd like to join me?

Carlton groans and gurgles.

Luthor: (putting down the flask) Asabi?! (heading for the door) Asabi!

He yanks open the door, impatient, and is confronted by a tall figure, shrouded in shadow in the dim hallway beyond. He takes a step back, startled.

Luthor: Asabi?

The figure comes forward, emerges into the light of the room. It's Dudley, towering over Luthor. He is wearing a buttoned-up trenchcoat, which reaches to the floor. He grins at the confusion in Luthor's eyes and waggles his eyebrows at him. Luthor's eyebrows rise.

Luthor: (almost stammering) W-who…?

He looks down as the coat rips open and his mouth drops open as Phillip – on whose shoulders Dudley is sitting – points a toy gun at him.

Luthor: No!

A jet of green liquid spurts from the gun as Phillip pulls the trigger.

Luthor: Noooooooo!

Cut to Luthor's penthouse apartment, some minutes later. Phillip, Dudley and Karen stand in the middle of the room. Phillip is still holding the toy gun.

Phillip: (to Dudley) Get the cart.

Dudley: (turning to go) Okay.

Phillip: (to Karen) And get…the Smart Stuff.

Karen crosses to where two racks of test tubes sit on a table. One, its tubes filled with pink liquid, is labelled Mentamide 5. The other, its tubes filled with purple liquid, is labelled Mentamide 6. Both are stamped with the legend: Property Of LexLabs. She picks up both.

Cut to the Daily Planet conference room. Clark, Lois and Cat look disgruntled at the front page headline of the newspaper which Perry has just tossed to the table: "Smart Kids Nab Luthor."

Lois: Why Lex Luthor?

Perry: Well, if they wanted someone prominent, who better? What do you think they'll ask for?

Lois shrugs and sips her coffee.

Clark: (dryly) Huh, could be anything.

The TV sputters back into life.

Phillip: If Metropolis wants Lex Luthor back in one piece, listen carefully. First, we want Aymee Valdez released from custody. Second, we want promises, in writing, there will be no more attempts to find us.

Perry and Lois exchange sardonic glances.

Phillip: Third, our own island. A nice one, with palm trees. Fourth, one hun - (he pauses, clears his throat) – one thousand pounds of Gooey Bears. (Cat looks puzzled) You have 24 hours.

The TV switches off.

Perry: What, no military jet? Oh, brother!

He gets to his feet and walks off. Cat leans forward, confused.

Cat: What is a Gooey Bear?

Lois gives her a look. Is she for real?

Cat: (hastily getting to her feet and following Perry) Perry?

Jimmy arrives, still wearing his coat, and sits down at the table with Lois and Clark.

Jimmy: (slightly breathless) Test results are in.

Clark: Tell us.

Jimmy: Again, this is from the synthetic they made, but…this stuff does boost intelligence for a while. However, once enough residue has built up in your system, there is a kind of an overload.

He hesitates, reluctant to continue.

Lois: Say it.

Jimmy: Conscious, cerebral activity drops to almost nothing. (pause) It burns out your brain.

The pencil Clark is holding between his fingers suddenly snaps into pieces as he reacts to this appalling news.

Cut to Lois's apartment. Aymee sits on the sofa, face stubborn, arms folded.

Lois: This isn't a game any more, honey. It's life or death.

Clark and Lois stand in front of the window, watching her.

Aymee: (shrugging) How do I know you're telling the truth?

Clark: We have the lab report.

Aymee: That could be forged.

Lois: (walking towards her) You don't know that we're telling the truth, not for sure. You have to trust us.

Aymee: I don't have to trust anyone. Adults lie all the time.

Clark: Do you think we're lying now?

Lois: (leaning closer, earnest as she takes Aymee's hand) Aymee, you have to believe us. Your friends are in danger. You can save them.

Aymee pulls her hand away, pointedly. Lois straightens with a sigh.

Lois: Okay. You do what you think is right. (shrugging) That's all any of us can do, no matter how young or old…or smart we are.

Aymee glances at Clark, then back to Lois.

Aymee: Just you two?

Cut to the Smart Kids' underground lair. Karen walks to the front of the elevator, holding the toy gun used to kidnap Luthor, and trains it on the gates. The gates of the elevator open and Aymee steps out, Clark and Lois behind her. Without hesitation, she heads out into the basement. As Clark and Lois begin to follow, Dudley steps out of hiding and points another of the toy guns at them.

Dudley: Hold it right there!

Aymee: (moving in front of him) Dudley, cut it out. They're with me. Okay?

Dudley: I have my orders.

Exasperated, Aymee grabs the tube that supplies the gun's liquid and yanks it free. Green liquid spills out onto the ground.

Dudley: Hey!

Lois: Where's Lex Luthor?

Dudley: Not so fast, lady.

Aymee: Guys! They're here to help us. Look, they found out that the Smart Stuff turns to poison if you keep using it.

Dudley: It's a trick!

Clark: It's not a trick. You guys have to stop taking Mentamide 5 right now.

Karen: But then we won't be smart any more!

Lois: You'll still be smart. You were always smart. You'll just be normal.

Aymee: Listen up. These are friends of mine and I think we should believe them.

Dudley and Karen are silent, watching Lois and Clark dubiously. Then, slowly, they lower their guns.

Clark: Where's Lex Luthor?

Dudley: Phillip's got him, in the main spy centre. Down the hallway.

Lois: (to Clark) Go ahead. But be careful. I'll keep an eye on these three.

Clark: All right.

He heads for the spy centre. As he trots into the corridor, out of sight of the kids and Lois, he takes off his glasses and puts them into the breast pocket of his jacket. His expression is grim. He pulls off his tie and yanks open his shirt to reveal his Superman suit beneath.

Cut to the spy centre. Phillip sits in the corner, wearing dark sunglasses. He turns his head as a blur of red and blue races into the room. Superman stops dead nearby.

Phillip: (smiling smugly and unfazed – nor seemingly surprised – by the sight) Hi, Superman.

Phillip strolls into the centre of the room. Luthor is tied to a chair. Phillip holds up a remote-controlled device.

Phillip: Even you're not fast enough to stop me from using this.

Superman glances at Luthor. A bundle of large, plastic hypodermic needles are tied around his chest, attached to tubes filled with red liquid – presumably Mentamide 5 - their needles pointed at him.

Phillip: Mr. Luthor here could end up with the IQ of a…radish.

Luthor gives him a dark look.

Superman: (worried) Phillip, are you all right? Did you take more…Smart Stuff?

Phillip: Yeah. The new and improved version! My mind is…is…so big!

Luthor: (stunned) You took Mentamide 6? But you're still –

Phillip: Smart? (he laughs) Oh, yes. There's a flaw in the formula. But I fixed it.

Superman has moved to stand behind Luthor's chair.

Superman: Phillip, the other kids want to go back to being normal. How about you?

Phillip: (removing his sunglasses) Normal is boring.

Superman: Different is worse. I know.

He moves around Luthor's chair, all of his attention focused on Phillip.

Superman: Different is never quite fitting in. Never quite blending. Different is wishing you weren't.

Luthor gives him a disgusted look and focuses his own attention firmly on Phillip.

Luthor: You're not different, Phillip. You're special.

Phillip looks confused, torn between them.

Luthor: Now, I had no idea that Dr. Carlton was using his research grant at LexLabs to experiment on you kids. (He glances up at Superman, who gives him a sceptical look) I'm shocked, of course. (Returning to Phillip) But I take full responsibility. Let me make it up to you. You and the others. But don't change.

Superman: (urgently) Don't listen to him.

Luthor: See, he wants to take it away from you! I want to give.

Superman: It's the other way around. Come with me. I can show you.

Phillip: (shaking his head) We can see everything from here.

Superman pauses, temporarily nonplussed. Luthor shakes his head, not sure he's winning the battle either. Superman sighs heavily.

Superman: Okay. (he looks at the TV sitting on a nearby table) Metropolis Park.

Phillip pushes a button on the remote. The TV switches on. A picture of the park appears on the screen.

Phillip looks questioningly at Superman. Luthor sighs.

Luthor: Look, can I jump in here?

Phillip/Superman: No!

There is a small pause. Then Luthor closes his mouth over what he was about to say and sighs.

Superman (pointing at the TV) There! Watch.

A young boy runs into view, trailing a brightly-coloured kite behind him across the park's grass.

Phillip: The angle's wrong. They should run into the wind to get the lift. (He shakes his head) Basic physics.

Superman: (folding his arms and giving him a knowing look) You'd get it right the first time?

Phillip: (switching off the TV) Every time.

Superman: (earnestly) Then you've missed something! Learning while you mature is an exciting and wonderful experience. Why deny yourself?

Luthor: (bursting out in frustration, making Phillip jump) Because he doesn't need to get stupid again! He's got everything that he needs, everything that he could ever want, in his grasp, right now! Power! Privilege! Wealth!

He yelps as he strains too hard against his bonds.

Superman: But would he enjoy it?

Luthor: Well, who wouldn't?

Superman: Someone who has moved beyond humanity into becoming…something else.

Luthor: (sighing, shaking his head, frustrated) Phillip…(he glares briefly at Superman)…nonsense!

Phillip stares at Luthor.

Superman: What do you feel, Phillip?

Phillip turns his head sharply, to view Superman.

Superman: How wonderful or terrible is it, really?

Phillip stares at him, frowning.

Superman: You are the only one who knows. (pause) And you're the only one who can decide.

Luthor: All right. That, I agree with, Phillip. Choose! Back to kiddie-hood, or onward to greatness.

Phillip considers. He looks to Superman.

Phillip: Would you go back to being a kid? If you could?

Superman. No. I've already been one. I've moved on. Someday, you will, too. When it's time.

Phillip: It's not easy, being a kid.

Luthor is beginning to realise that he's lost the argument.

Superman: (gently) No one ever said it was.

Phillip has made his decision. His expression changes as he glances at Luthor again. Seeing something in it he doesn't like, Luthor's face tightens.

Luthor: (in warning) Phillip – don't do anything you'll regret.

Phillip casually points the remote at him and pushes the button, arming the device.

Luthor: (an alarmed whisper as Superman looks concerned) Phillip…

Phillip lowers the remote. Luthor relaxes with a charming smile. There's a pause. Then Phillip lifts his arm again. As the remote beeps rapidly, Luthor's smile becomes an expression of alarm. His eyes widen as Phillip pushes the button. Luthor gives a gasp of fear as the rig containing the needles lurches for his chest. Then Phillip smiles.

It takes Luthor a second or two to realise that he still has all his mental faculties. He glances downwards. The needles are still full of the red liquid. He looks up at Phillip, stunned, as Phillip walks towards him, grinning. Phillip wipes a finger across the tip of one of the needles and then puts it in his mouth. He looks at Superman, with a broad grin.

Phillip: Mmmmm. Cherry!

Superman chuckles. Luthor glares at Phillip.

Luthor: (growling) You…

Cut to a play area outside the Beckworth School. A crowd of children run around, laughing and playing. Clark, Lois and Jimmy stroll across the playground, Jimmy idly twirling a basketball in his hands.

Jimmy: Some story, huh?

Lois: Thank god Lex wasn't hurt.

Clark, unnoticed, rolls his eyes skyward.

Lois: Do you know he made sure all of Dr. Carlton's notes, samples, everything was destroyed?

Clark shakes his head in mock admiration.

Lois: He even offered to pay off the charges the kids put on the credit card.

Clark: (deadpan) Well, Luthor deserves a lot of credit.

Lois: (in agreement and oblivious to the sarcasm) Mmmmm.

Jimmy: Well, with the kids de-Einsteined and Carlton turning himself into a vegetable –

Clark: I think the phrase that Luthor used was 'overcome with remorse'.

Jimmy: (a slow smile forming) Yeah. Well, no more Smart Stuff.

He tosses the basketball towards the hoop, then runs to pick it up. Lois and Clark continue their stroll across the playground.

Aymee: (offscreen) Lois…

Lois looks over, smiles and waves. Aymee blows her a kiss from where she stands a few feet away. Inez smiles at them. Lois and Clark chuckle and wave again. Lois's smile fades. She looks a little wistful. Clark looks at her.

Clark: Sorry to give up foster parenthood?

Lois: (smiling) Sort of. (pause) She was a handful, though.

They walk on.

Lois: You know she told me that she and Inez had a long talk with their mother. They're thinking of arranging a visit. And that is the end of that.

Clark is suddenly distracted. His smile fades. Nearby, Dudley and Phillip sit on the ground. Dudley smiles up at Clark. Written on the ground in front of the boys, in yellow chalk, is the message: Superman = Clark Kent (Maybe). Phillip winks at Clark. Dudley's grin widens.

Clark sighs.

Clark: (wryly) I don't know, Lois. Something tells me we haven't seen the last of the Smart Kids.

Dudley and Phillip are using yellow and blue chalk to scribble over the message, obliterating it.

Lois: (folding her arms and looking sceptical) Well, what makes you say that?

Clark shrugs. A loud grunting takes their attention. Socrates snuffles at a pile of rags on the ground.

Lois: (pointing, puzzled) I've seen that pig before.

She shrugs as she and Clark exchange a look and we


Transcript Index

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