by Dan Swanson
Later, as the two women flew back to stately Knight Manor, Doris Knight checked the various police radio bands and discovered that the police and emergency crews had arrived at the demolished power plant, that no one had been injured, and that she and Lily DeLuna had not been seen. They decided they didn’t need to tell Ted, either.
Lily had something on her mind. Her radio was still broken, so she flew closer to her friend. “Doris, that night — you knew I was there, didn’t you? You know there has never been anything between me and Ted, and there never will be, don’t you?”
Doris knew instantly what night Lily was talking about. (*) “Of course I know that, Lily Loo. I was just making sure you and Ted both knew it, too!” She smiled, lazily.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Showcase: 1949: Lily DeLuna, Investigative Reporter, Chapter 5: The Power Rod.]
Lily got the point. But she wasn’t finished yet. “So, how would this be for a nickname?” She flew closer, and just as she whispered, a gust of wind came up, drowning out her words for any eavesdropper more than a foot away.
“Lily! You wouldn’t dare!” It was Doris’ turn to blush.
“Not really… how could I ever call you that in public? It’s too bad you don’t like Dorilee. I think it’s great!”
“I’ve reconsidered, and I like Dorilee just fine, Lily Loo! Certainly better than any others you might end up embarrassing me with!”
“Considering how you embarrassed me that night, I’d say we’re even!” Lily answered with her own self-satisfied grin.
The next morning there were no morning papers, but the local radio station, WOPL, which received all its power that day from their huge diesel-powered emergency generator, reported that an unknown super-being had demolished the Opal City Electric power-generating station last night and vanished. It sounded as if it would be an unsolved mystery. The radio newscaster even wondered if renowned radio detective Roy Raymond might visit Opal City and investigate.
Lily DeLuna’s flight to New York International Airport the next day was delayed indefinitely. Until full power was restored, only essential flights were allowed in and out of Opal City Airport. The Knights, however, were not without private resources. Lily’s bags were quickly loaded into Ted’s Piper Cub, and Ted and Doris delivered her directly to New York City in plenty of time to catch her ship.
On the way home, Doris subtly guided the conversation toward astronomy. Eventually, she asked Ted about Sky Watch, a non-profit organization that he had helped set up, which looked for and cataloged Earth-crossing asteroids. They had not found many, so far, but Ted estimated that there were probably several hundred of them.
“So, Ted, any action at Sky Watch recently?”
“Funny you should ask,” Ted replied with a bemused expression on his face. “Night before last, we spotted one. But it was very unusual. It crossed Earth orbit about a million miles in front of us, which isn’t unusual. But nobody saw it before then. Ken Rumstay at Harvard Observatory checked his plates going back a month, but nothing showed up. It’s almost like it was invisible until then! Very mysterious.”
“What’s your theory, dear?” she smiled mischievously.
“It can’t have just appeared out of nowhere. It must be very dark on one side and very light on the other, and rotating very slowly. It is very difficult to see a black object that small in space, and much easier to see it if it reflects a lot of light. Seems pretty unlikely, I’ll admit, but a lot more likely than just appearing out of nothing!”
Lily would have recognized Doris’ self-satisfied grin.
The next day, Opal City Electric was able to divert some power from other nearby power grids into the Opal City grid, and important functions, such as traffic signals and subway service, were restored. The National Guard brought in a bevy of gasoline-powered generators for places that required full power, such as police and fire stations, streetcars, hospitals, and the train station and airport.
Non-essential events, such as this year’s National Cat Show, had to be canceled in order to save electricity. Gloria Giles Finley was philosophical as she watched her cat carriers being loaded into the baggage car of the train to Metropolis. She had expected her big goofy Maine coon, Mr. Butterscotch, to win another best in show ribbon, and thought her smaller cats, Shayla and Bandit, would do pretty well in the American short hair and Siamese divisions, respectively. Oh, well, she thought to herself. There’s always the Gotham Cat Show next week. I just hope that the conductor will let me into the baggage car to visit my cats!