orange ribbon

What Color Is The Sky In Your Universe?
or, Orange Man!

by Maureen Wynn
Copyright 1998

This bit of fan-insanity was written for Jennie's Oranging at MediaWest 1998. What's an Oranging, you ask? Well, even if you didn't ask, I'm gonna tell you anyway. My friend Jennie really, really, REALLY dislikes the color orange. Being the foolish person that she is Grin!, she made the mistake of letting this dislike become general knowledge, and her friends (led by Sharon - credit where credit is due! evil grin) decided to "Orange" her as a birthday present when we were all gathered for the MediaWest Convention — attack being the sincerest form of affection, naturally.

We got her orange clothes, orange socks, orange shoelaces, orange scrunchies for her hair, orange food, orange toys... and wrote her orange stories for her very own Orange Zine, involving all of her favorite TV shows with orangeness in one way or another. This story was my contribution to the zine.

Love you, Jennie! :-))

"Clark! Oh my god... Clark... Clark!"

"What is it, Lois? What's wrong!?"

"You've got to see this — it's the worst disaster in the history of Metropolis!" she said, dragging Clark over to the windows.

"Come on, Lois, Metropolis has seen a lot of disasters! How bad could it be, really... Oh... my... god!" he said, staring through the window with a look of total flabbergasted shock.

"You see what I mean? Isn't that the worst thing that you've ever seen?"

It perhaps wasn't the worst thing Clark had ever seen, but it ranked right up there in the top three or four worst. Everything, and I mean everything, in the whole city was orange. Bright orange. Really orange. Can I tell you how orange it was? The buildings. The streets. The cars. The trees had orange leaves, the people had orange hair (but it went really well with their orange clothes), the cats were orange, the dogs were orange, the pigeons were orange... Well, why beat a dead (but orange) horse, suffice it to say, everything was orange. Clark winced as two cars narrowly missed a collision at an intersection. No one could decide who had the right of way, since all of the traffic lights were now — you guessed it — orange.

"Don't worry, Lois. I'll get to the bottom of this. Let me go and change..."

"Lois! Clark! In my office — now!" Perry roared across the newsroom, obviously in a foul mood. The two reporters looked at each other, sighed, and hurried after their editor. They entered his sanctum to find him pacing back and forth, muttering to himself. "Someone is going to pay for this. Maybe it's Lex — he's always responsible when things like this happen."

"Uh, boss," Clark interrupted, "Not that I would generally disagree with that opinion of Lex, but considering that he's dead, he's probably not to blame for... whatever you're blaming him for."

"Well, then, find out who is responsible!" Perry shouted. "And find out pretty doggoned quick!"

"Responsible for what?" Lois asked.

"All of this," Perry said, indicating the orange office, "and this," he continued, dangling a key in the air, attached to a key-fob with a picture of Elvis on it, which was now a rather bilious shade of orange. "I just took delivery of the car I bought at that auction at Graceland. The 1966 Chevy Impala that was once driven by The King; high-gloss black, bright chrome bumper and trim, with a turquoise leather interior. Except that now, IT'S ALL ORANGE!"

"Uh-oh." Lois and Clark said simultaneously.


The two reporters hurried out of the building, arguing about where they should go first. "The Mayor's press conference is in 10 minutes..."

"But he's not going to know what's going on," Clark protested. "I say we go to the lab and see what the scientists have to say about this... phenomenon."

"Clark, look!" Lois said, pointing up at the sky.

Clark looked up, sighing heavily when he saw that the sky, instead of its customary blue, was now as orange as everything else. "Yeah, it's orange. So?"

"No, silly," Lois said, slapping his shoulder lightly, "look there," and she pointed again at one part of the orange sky.

Clark looked again, and now he could see that someone was skywriting something across the Metropolis sky, but since the smoke was almost the same shade as the sky, it was hard to make out the words. "Bring... me... Lennie... or... everything... stays... orange?" he read.

"No, I think that's a "J" — the wind just blew it the wrong way. 'Jennie' — who's Jennie?" Lois asked, confused.

"I don't know, but I think maybe I need to ask our skywriter a few questions!" Clark said. "I'll be right back..." There was a blur, and then Superman was standing on the sidewalk instead of Clark. But a Superman who looked a little... different. Rather than his usual red and blue suit, he was now staring dumbfounded at an orange-on-orange skintight suit. Lois couldn't help it — she giggled. Superman frowned. Turning everything else orange was one thing, but changing his suit — now, that was just going too far!

He took off into the orange sky, and in seconds was hovering above the small plane that had finished its skywriting and was now circling above the monochromatic city. The pilot was looking down at the city, and didn't see him, so he leaned over and knocked on the windshield. The pilot was understandably startled at this, and lost his grip on the plane's controls, sending the plane plummeting toward the earth.

Superman dove after him, and caught the plane, then, deciding that it would be easier to talk to the man on terra firma, started lowering it to the ground. The pilot tried controlling the plane's descent, but eventually gave up and turned off the engine, then sat and waited for the plane to touch down.

Rather than bringing the plane all the way to the airport, Superman brought it down on a quiet side street not too far from the Planet building. He wasn't surprised when he saw Lois racing toward them seconds after he landed, setting the plane carefully on its landing gear.

Once the plane was down, Superman stalked over to the pilot's door and pulled it open. The man at the controls flinched away from the angry Man Of Orange Steel, and tried to scuttle out the other door of the plane. Orange Man, um, I mean, Superman grabbed his shirt and hauled him out of the plane.

"Okay, mister, I think you have some questions to answer!" Superman demanded. "Who's responsible for the oranging of Metropolis?"

"Well, um, I am," the fellow said, rather proudly.

"You are?" Superman said, looking the guy over. He wasn't a very impressive figure, being rather short and scrawny, looking like a geek to the brawny superhero. "And just who are you?"

"I'm Milton... Milton Ochre. I did it with my invention, The Chromatizer."

"But why? And why orange?" Superman asked.

"And who's Jennie?" Lois asked, as usual focusing on the important things, like relationships.

"Jennie... Jennie is an angel!" Milton declared. "She's the woman I love — the only woman I've ever loved!"

"That's nice," Lois said, diplomatically. "And she really likes orange...?" she asked.

"Well, no," Milton said, "Actually, she hates it."

"Then why...?" Superman said, completely confused.

"She turned me down!" Milton shouted. "I asked her to marry me, and she refused. She said she could never love anyone... anyone named 'Ochre'. That's not such a horrible name, is it?" he appealed to Lois.

"I guess not," the reporter said, still trying to be diplomatic — after all, anything to get the story. "But I'm not Jennie. Maybe she has her reasons?"

"I don't care," declared Milton. "I love her, and if she doesn't marry me, Metropolis will go down in history as The Orange City."

"Oh, I don't know about that," Superman said. "We could always re-paint everything."

"Won't do you any good," Milton said slyly. "The Chromatizer controls wavelengths of light. It's not like I actually turned everything orange — what are you, simple? I mean, duhh!" Superman started to cloud up at the insult, but Milton continued, oblivious, "I control the wavelengths of light that reach your eyes, so everything you look at looks the same color. I could have made it any color in the spectrum, but Jennie hates orange. I figured, if everything she sees is orange, sooner or later she'll marry me just to get it turned off."

Superman decided to try a little reverse-psychology. "I don't believe you," he stated.

"What?! Why not?" Milton demanded, outraged that someone doubted him.

"Anyone can claim that they're responsible for something. Prove that you're the one who's controlling this."

"All right, I will!" And Milton pulled up his sleeve to reveal a large, computer-geek type wristwatch, with more buttons than the average 747. He pushed a few buttons... and everything turned pink.

"Ahhhhh!" Lois covered her eyes — this was worse than orange! But this was what Superman had hoped for, and he moved faster than human eyes could track, and he pulled the control off Milton's wrist, crushing it in his powerful hands. And everything turned... back to orange.

"Noooo!" Superman looked dumbfounded. Milton started to laugh. Superman frowned at him, and he stopped suddenly, choking a little. Lois patted him on the back until he got his breath back. "Milton, why is everything orange again?" Lois asked, secretly a little relieved — anything was better than Pepto-Bismol pink!

"Well, what you destroyed was just the remote-control. The actual Chromatizer is... somewhere else. Somewhere secret. Somewhere hidden, where no one will ever find it! I am the only one who knows where it is, and I'll never tell! I control the color of this city — me, and no one else!"

Superman and Lois waited patiently for Milton to finish his Nefarious Evil-doer Rant (tm). When he stopped, panting for breath, Lois asked again, "But why did it change back to orange? Why didn't it stay pink?"

"Because the Chromatizer's default setting is orange. I programmed it that way, so that everything would stay orange, even if something happened to me. If the Chromatizer doesn't get a signal from the remote, telling it to turn on a different color, or to turn off, it automatically projects orange. And if I die, it'll project orange forever!"

Lois and Superman stared at Milton, trying to think of a solution to the problem. Only one solution came to mind...


"It was a lovely wedding, don't you think, Superman?" Lois asked later.

"Yes, Lois, although I think you really only liked it because you caught the bouquet."

"They are pretty flowers, though, aren't they?" Lois said, looking at the bright bouquet of chrysanthemums and goldenrod.


Up in the sky... it's a bird... it's a plane... no, it's... ORANGE MAN!

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