Friday, October 1, 2010

Earth-349: Jimmy Olsen

Earth-349: Jimmy Olsen
By Anton Psychopoulos, PhD
Disclaimer 1: This story was inspired by a story published in Superman #349,
1980, and also by a story published in Jimmy Olsen #105, 1967, both of which
are copyright DC Comics, Inc. It also draws inspiration from other sources,
including the works of Jack Kirby. This story is written solely for amusement
and is not intended to infringe those copyrights or any others.

Disclaimer 2: This story is not constrained by the stories which inspired it.

Disclaimer 3: This story is not recommended for person under 18, or those who
are uncomfortable with issues of gender and identity.


Jimmy Olsen woke up in the same bedroom he had been waking up in all month. He
supposed that made it “his” bedroom, although he was reluctant to think of it
that way because it seemed as though that would mean surrendering to his
situation, and he didn’t want to do that until he knew what on Earth his
situation was.

His brand of soap (Tugboat) was in the shower, though, and his shaving cream
(Spice Islands) and deodorant (Gladiator) were in the medicine cabinet, and the
clothes in the closet fit him and were more or less his preferred style, so in
about half an hour he was ready to hang his camera around his neck and face the
day.

His neighbor, who looked a lot like him aside from being a couple of inches
taller, was also going out, dressed much as Jimmy was, although his bow tie was
crooked. They both passed their landlady, a slightly plump woman with graying
red hair, who was shampooing the hallway. Jimmy noted with approval that her
bowtie was very neatly tied.

Jimmy stepped out into the street, where there were Olsens as far as the eye
could see.

Cars went back and forth, driven by Olsens of both sexes and all ages, obeying
the directions of a redhaired policewoman who was directing traffic. Jimmy
dodged to avoid a portly, balding Jimmy who was hurrying down the street to
open the bank and nearly ran into a freckle-faced nine-year-old of
indeterminate gender who was hawking newspapers.

Jimmy’s first idea was that the Olsens were all different versions of himself,
snatched by a time machine and dumped here, but that didn’t explain the
females, or the ones who were physically quite different.

A Jimmy of about fourteen, in short-sleeved white shirt, bow tie and leather
jacket, walked down the street holding a transistor radio to his ear. Jimmy
heard a snatch of what Big-O Jimbo, the Red-Haired DJ from the Planet Oh-oh,
was playing on WJO:

I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences

Take in the landscape with all eight senses

Can’t look at hobbles and I don’t like fences

Don’t fence me in….

Jimmy shook his head. Country-Western music hadn’t been the same since the
cowboys had discovered peyote.

Jimmy walked to the next block and entered the diner where he usually had his
breakfast. The waitress was cute and petite, which was a plus for Jimmy, who
was self-conscious about his height (especially now that he shared a town with
Jimmies who might be 5’10 or 6’2 (to say nothing of the nine-foot “Big Jimmy”
and the forty-foot “Turtle-Man”). He’d have made a pass at her by now, except
it felt kind of odd to think about dating someone who seemed like she was at
least his sister, if not himself.

The waitress brought Jimmy his breakfast: six eggs over easy and half a pound
of bacon, with half a loaf of toast, orange juice, tomato juice, prune juice
and a pot of coffee. Every Olsen Jimmy had seen eating had the same kind of
appetite, though they ranged from grossly obese through slightly plump to even
thinner than Jimmy himself.

The waitress smiled openly as she watched him tear into his breakfast, but
Jimmy still didn’t say anything. He hadn’t yet actually seen one of the female
Olsens naked, and he couldn’t quite shake the suspicion that they might all
just be boys who liked to dress up, seeing as how he kind of did himself.

Jimmy thought about all of these things as he ate his bacon and eggs alone at
the counter, while looking idly at last week’s Daily Planet. He’s already read
it. Indeed, he had written most of it.

Neslo the Magnificent entered the diner with a dramatic swirl of his cape, but
that was better than appearing in a puff of smoke as he was sometimes known to
do. When Jimmy had created the “Neslo” persona, he had dyed his hair black,
worn a false beard and used lifts to increase his height. But Jimmy had seen
Neslo in an open-collared shirt and shorts, and noticed his abundant black
chest and leg hair (Jimmy’s own body hair was neither) and sandal-clad feet.

Neslo sat down next to Jimmy and gave the waitress a hard stare. She stood
still for a moment and then nodded. Jimmy didn’t know whether Neslo was really
ordering telepathically, or if it was just part of his schtick, although he
didn’t get the same breakfast each time, and never complained about it.

Jimmy finished and left the diner, leaving coins to pay for his breakfast and a
generous tip, and continued down the street to his job. Along the way, he saw
Secret Agent Double-Five scaling the outside of a building with his hand- and
foot-suction cups. He went into a second-storey window and moments later
emerged holding a female Olsen by the arm.

Elastic Lass suddenly appeared, stretching herself tall enough to grab the
apprehended woman’s other arm, while her free arm entered the apartment and
emerged holding a black satchel from which the ends of strange devices poked.

As he took photos of the arrest, Jimmy tried to remember how he had briefly
come into possession of a set of burglar’s tools from the far future. Or were
they alien burglar tools? It was hard to remember.

A police car pulled up between Elastic Lass’s taffy-like stretched legs. She
and Double-Five handed the burglar Olsen over to a uniformed officer with a
gray-furred wolf face, to the disappointment of a pair of flying Olsens (a boy
in a purple and white suit and a girl in orange and green) who had hoped to
have a role in the capture.

Jimmy continued on his way. The next block ended at Weisinger Plaza, the town
square, where the most important civic organs were concentrated: City Hall,
where a red-bearded Mayor in top hat and red sash held forth in majestic pomp.
The Clinic, where a fat and kindly old nurse kept an arrogant young doctor from
scaring away his patients. The Jail/Police Headquarters, where a hard-faced
Sheriff with six arms was even now taking custody of Burglar Olsen. And the
Daily Planet Building, a grand name for a two-storey building which also housed
a barber shop, a vacuum cleaner store and a used-book dealer. But it did have
a foot-wide brass ringed planet perched on a pole above a glass window which
reproduced the Planet masthead in gold leaf.

Jimmy remembered living in a big city, and being a photographer for the Daily
Planet, which was as its masthead described it, “A Great Metropolitan
Newspaper”. Now he worked for a very different Planet, as its sole
reporter/photographer, sharing its tiny storefront offices with a portly silver-
haired Olsen editor and a scrawny bald-headed Olsen janitor. It was only a
weekly paper in spite of the name, and they were hard-pressed to fill its eight
pages with any news at all, in a town with a population of no more than a
thousand.

It wasn’t clear how the newspaper made any money. Perhaps it didn’t. But once
a week the editor handed Jimmy an envelope containing a sheaf of garishly-
colored bills and shiny silver coins with portraits of assorted Olsens whose
clothing and grooming suggested they had lived in various past generations.
The shops of the town accepted his money, though. The haberdasher sold him
underwear and bow ties, wherever they came from. The restaurants gave him
food, from wherever that came from. There was a lot Jimmy didn’t understand
about his current life, but that didn’t make it all that different from his
other life in that big city called…? He wasn’t sure. Something sort
of…generic, wasn’t it?

Jimmy thought, as he did at least once every day, about talking with someone
about what was going on, at least to his editor. But somehow he couldn’t quite
bring himself to do so. He felt a powerful compulsion -- a powerful need -- to
play along, play his role, pretend nothing was wrong. So he developed his
photos of the burglar-Olsen’s arrest and typed up a brief account of the
incident before knocking off for lunch.

Rather than head for the restaurant where he usually had lunch (if he didn’t
just return to Olsen’s Diner), he walked in the opposite direction, to the end
of the street, at the edge of town.

The town was laid out like a game board, a grid of streets with a single
circular road surrounding it. There were no roads that actually led out of
town. Jimmy had explored the wasteland around the town on foot but hadn’t
found anything worth the effort he’d put into reaching it. This time, he
walked along the curving road, looking left to the sand and rock outside, right
to the bustling little town, and occasionally straight up.

The sky overhead looked…wrong. The sun that rose every morning looked
artificial, somehow, as though if you looked at it through a filter, instead of
sunspots you’d see a Sivana Electric logo. Jimmy snorted at the thought of how
many watts it would be.

That wrongness made Jimmy wonder if they were even on Earth. They might be
under a dome on some asteroid, with artificial air and gravity. Or in a cavern
deep underground. It didn’t matter. There didn’t seem to be any way to get
out of the town, much less its enclosure.

Jimmy heard a distant thudding sound gradually growing louder. He looked out
into the empty land and soon made out the silhouette of the Giant Turtle Olsen,
the only person who regularly walked outside the town (seeing as how he was too
large to fit comfortably anywhere inside it). Jimmy watched the odd sunlight
glint off the many hexagonal plates of the Turtle Man: large ones for his
chest, smaller ones for his limbs, the smallest ones at his neck and groin.

Someone had objected to the Turtle Man walking around naked, and had persuaded
the flying super-Olsens to fit him with a huge blue loincloth, but they
couldn’t get him to leave it on. The Turtle’s yard-long penis, armored except
at the pink glans, dangled freely today. Jimmy was just grateful that he
didn’t, as many turtles did, have two penes.

Jimmy wasn’t sure why he was called a “turtle” man, anyway. With his plated
body he looked more like a dragon than anything from Earth, and really a lot
more like an alien from the cover of some old science fiction magazine. Jimmy
pictured the giant on a cover painting, tearing apart a bridge in a futuristic
city while a rocketship flew around his head.

Jimmy had absolutely no memory of ever becoming a pop-eyed armor-plated giant.

He turned at the next corner and walked back into the center of town. It
wasn’t possible to get more than four blocks from the town square.

A bulbous Olsen, his face obscured by a curtain of hair, a foot-long tongue
dangling to his breast, suddenly stopped and put out a hand to stop his
companion (who had a much more normal face but was entirely robotic from the
neck down). With its other hand, the hairy Olsen-freak pointed upward.

“Wuit! Upp in fa fky!”

Jimmy rolled his eyes. There were three Olsens who flew over the town every
day, as well as one who could strap on a pair of magic wings, and another who
could levitate telekinetically. What was so special about….

Then Jimmy did look up, and saw a flying figure which was definitely not an
Olsen. Even from a distance, there was no mistaking the perfect form and
confident bearing of Superwoman.

The Woman of Steel hovered above the town square, calling out in an
impossibly-loud voice that somehow didn’t hurt Jimmy’s ears.

“Ladies and gentlemen! Olsens! Please listen to me!

“You have probably been wondering, and speculating, on where you are and why
you are here. You may have your own ideas about what is happening. Please
listen, while I explain to you what is going on. You may find what I have to
say upsetting, but I hope you will trust me when I say that I know where you
came from.

“You are clones –“

Superwoman waited for the anguished cries and angry denials of many to die
down, and then continued.

“You are clones, many with your DNA slightly altered from the original, which
is why you come in both genders. Your apparent ages are simply what your
creators chose to grow you to – each of you is actually less than a year old,
some only weeks old.

“Your memories are edited and rewritten versions of the memories of your
original…a close friend of mine.

“You can’t stay in this place. It will soon be incapable of supporting human
life. But I can get you out of here, and I will. I have friends who will help
to place each of you on a parallel world where there is a place for you,
provide you with all necessary documents and assistance to help you get settled
in your new lives.

“Dabney Donovan, the head of the Cadmus Project, is responsible for your
situation. He has committed a terrible crime against you, and he will face
justice. Please take my word for that, also. He will pay.”

Several voices had already been calling out, but now Jimmy found himself asking
the same question as was coming from several others:

“Which of us is the original?”

Superwoman’s face darkened. She shook her head slowly.

“The original Kirsten Olsen…is not here. She never was.”

The implications of Superwoman’s flat statement sank in, and the Olsens stopped
asking questions. One by one, they went to prepare themselves for moving out
of the Olsen town.