EXT. LANG HOME/FRONT YARD — DAY
We have jumped forward to 1923. Clark and Pete, now in the third grade, ride their bicycles down a gravel driveway to the home of Lana Lang and her parents. Clark has with him a catcher’s mitt while Pete carries a sheathed baseball bat slung across his back. Pulling up to the front steps of the house, they climb off their bikes and go to the front door. Leaning forward, Pete gives the door six solid raps with his fist. A stocky man with receding blond hair and a pencil thin mustache answers the door.
PETE: Hi, Mr. Lang.
LEWIS LANG: Boys. What can I do for you?
CLARK: We’re going to the school yard to play some baseball.
PETE: And we need a ball. Can Lana go grab hers and come play with us?
LEWIS LANG: Sorry, boys. Lana’s not here.
CLARK: She isn’t?
LEWIS LANG: She left with the Braverman boy fourteen-odd minutes ago.
PETE: You know where they were off to, Mr. Lang?
Lana’s father shakes his head.
EXT. RURAL ROAD — DAY
Clark and Pete are making their way back from the Lang home along a long, empty stretch of open road when Lana, on her own bicycle, comes toward them from the opposite direction.
LANA: (raises arm) Guys!
The boys hit the breaks as Lana pulls up alongside them.
PETE: (annoyed) We were supposed to play ball today!
LANA: Kenny found this swell place! You’ve gotta come see it!
CLARK: What place?
LANA: C’mon, follow me.
Putting the pedal to the metal, Lana turns around and goes back the way she came. Exchanging short glances, Pete and Clark quickly follow along after her.
EXT. FOREST — TRAIL — DAY
The two boys and girl ride their bikes along a narrow dirt trail surrounded on both sides by tall trees. Lana soon comes to a stop. Hopping off her bike, she deposits it off to the side of the trail and heads into the trees.
LANA: It’s not much farther now.
EXT. FOREST — CLEARING — DAY
The three children soon emerge from the trees into a small clearing. In the centre of the clearing is a small decrepit shack and the rusting remnants of a moonshine operation. As Lana leads the two boys through this landscape toward the cabin, they take the sights around them in with awe.
PETE: Wow. What is this place?
LANA: Don’t know, but ain’t it the neatest? Kenny found it.
CLARK: Where’s Kenny at, anyway?
At that moment, the door on the shack swings forward on it’s rusted, broken hinges with a large squeak. Kenny promptly steps out.
KENNY: (smiles) Hi, guys! Glad you could make it! (holds up jug) look what I found!
As the others join Kenny, he hands the jug out to Clark. Taking it, Clark holds it up to the sunlight so as to get a better look at the contents nestled inside the brown glass.
KENNY: It’s hooch. My grandpappy down in Tennessee made some just like it.
PETE: What do you use hooch for?
KENNY: You drink it, dummy.
Uncorking the jug, Clark brings the spout up to his nose and takes a few short sniffs. As soon as the scent of the liquid hits his nostrils, he cringes.
CLARK: UGH! It smells real strange.
KENNY: That’s what it’s supposed to smell like. (beat) Let’s taste it.
Raising the jug to his lips, Clark takes a sip. He spits it out automatically.
CLARK: It tastes awful!
Repulsed, Clark tilts the jug over to pour the moonshine out. Horrified, Kenny reaches out to snatch it from him.
KENNY: What the hell are you doing‽
Wrestling with Clark, Kenny manages to pry the jug out of the other boy’s hands. It’s too late, though; the jug is completely empty.
KENNY: (angry) Goddammit!
LANA: (shocked) You took the Lord’s name in vain!
KENNY: Oh, shut up. (hurls jug) That was the only one, too.
A moment of tense silence passes between the four.
PETE: So … there’s nobody using this place, is there?
KENNY: (grumpy) Nobody’s been here in years.
PETE: Then we should make it our own place. Y’know, our own hangout. (beat) Yeah. All we need to do is clear out the junk, spruce the cabin up a bit, and it’ll be good as gold.
LANA: Say, that’s not a bad idea.
Leaving the boys, Lana walks up to a tarnished green copper still lying on its side in the grass. Taking its handles, she begins pulling on it; with effort, she slowly begins dragging it to the edge of the clearing. Deciding to help her out, the boys join her, each adding their weight and strength to the endeavour to get it out of the way.
EXT. FOREST — CLEARING — MONTAGE
Over the next couple weeks, Clark, Lana, Pete, and Kenny return to the clearing to work on converting the disused hooch station into their own private hangout. Together, they work to clear out the old stills and other distilling equipment while trying — with limited effect — to shore up the sagging walls of the shack.
As the long days of work finally come to an end, Clark takes a sign that he has made and hammers it down in the earth in front of the cabin. Written on the front of the sign in big, bold, black painted letters is “FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE”.
INT. SHACK — DAY
Clark, Pete, and Lana sit together in the shack, engaged in conversation.
LANA: (cont’d) Mama and Daddy actually took me to see a picture show while we were in Salina.
PETE: (amazed) You actually got to watch a picture show‽
CLARK: What was it about?
LANA: It’s about this silly little man with a small mustache who finds an abandoned baby boy and adopts him. They go around town conning people — the boy breaks their windows and the man charges them for repairs, y’see — until the police catch up to them and separate them before they’re finally reunited. They even meet the boy’s mother at the end. (beat) It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life!
CLARK: I’ve always wanted Ma and Pa to take me to see a movie, but Salina’s too far out of the way for us. (sighs) I wish Smallville had its own movie house.
LANA: Oh, we’ll get one eventually — by 1978, therabouts.
PETE: We’ll be old men by then!
LANA: (cocks eyebrow) Not me.
CLARK: The pronoun you’re looking for is “I”, not “me”. You should’ve said “Not I”.
LANA: Well hello, Mr. Fancy Pants English Professor! I bet you don’t even know what “pronoun” means.
CLARK: (smirks) A pronoun is a word that substitutes for a noun.
LANA: You think you’re so smart, don’t you, Clark?
Clark just shrugs, the hint of a smug smile worn at the corners of his mouth. Lana sticks her tongue out at him.
At that exact moment, the shack door creaks open and Kenny steps inside. Moving gingerly, he closes the door and crosses over to the opposite end of the shack, away from the others. Sitting down, we can see he wears a large bruise over the left side of his morose face.
LANA: (concerned) Gosh, Kenny — what happened to your face?
KENNY: (turns bruised side of face away from them) Just had an accident, that’s all. It’s nothin’ to talk about.
Though the three other children have a pretty good idea where Kenny’s bruises came from — that they aren’t just the result of an unfortunate accident — they choose to ignore the elephant in the room, at least for now.
The kids in the shack sometime later.
Clark, Pete, and Lana are currently engaged in a game of strip poker. While Lana has lost only her shoes and socks, Clark has lost his shirt and Pete is down to his underpants. Kenny, having chosen not to play, sits off to the side watching them.
PETE: (frowns) Why did we agree to play this dumb game?
The kids hear a commotion outside the shack.
PETE: There’s somebody outside!
Abandoning their game, the kids hurry to redress.
EXT. FOREST — CLEARING — DAY
There are indeed visitors to the kids’ Fortress of Solitude: Brad Wilson, Whitney Fordman, and Jason Teague, older than when we saw them last. Taking no care to watch where he’s going, Whitney trips over one of the old stills that was dragged away to the edge of the clearing and nearly topples over it.
WHITNEY FORDMAN: Son of a goddamn —!
Grinning like the Cheshire Cat, Jason gives Whitney a solid kick in the ass. Enraged, Whitney turns on the other boy and shoves him hard to the ground. Before they can get into a committed scuffle, Brad breaks them up.
BRAD WILSON: Cut it out, dingbats.
INT. SHACK — DAY
Having opened the door a crack, Pete peers out.
PETE: Aw, great — it’s the Three Assketeers!
Pete quickly shuts the door and leans his back up against it, bracing it shut.
PETE: (cont’d) What are we gonna do? They’re gonna run us out of here! I just know it!
LANA: They can’t do that!
PETE: Go ahead, tell 'em that. See how generous they are.
CLARK: This is our fortress; I’m not gonna let them just steal it from us.
KENNY: They’re bigger and stronger than all of us put together, Clark. We can’t beat them.
CLARK: C’mon, they’re gonna find us in here sooner or later; may as well make it sooner.
Pushing Pete out of the way, Clark pulls the door wide open and steps outside.
EXT. FOREST — CLEARING — DAY
As the Three Assketeers make their way into the centre of the clearing, Clark appears before them. Noticing the younger, smaller boy, they come to a halt.
JASON TEAGUE: Well, well, well — if it ain’t liddle widdle Clarkie.
BRAD WILSON: You by your lonesome, Kent, or is the rest of the sissies with you?
Slowly yet surely, the others step out of the shack, joining Clark.
JASON TEAGUE: (chuckles) Nice bruise you have there, Braverman. I hardly noticed it under your black skin!
Kenny recoils, almost disappearing back inside the shed.
WHITNEY FORDMAN: G’wan, twerps, get out of here! This place is ours!
LANA: (angry) We were here first!
CLARK: We spent weeks cleaning this place up! It’s ours by right!
BRAD WILSON: (to Whitney & Jason) Listen to the runts…. (to third graders) Listen, you clear out — and I mean right now — and I don’t send you home in pine boxes, alright? Now go.
Leaving his friends, Clark walks right up to Brad. Looking up at the taller boy, he locks gazes with him.
CLARK: Look, I know I can’t fight you; you’d easily kick my can, okay? So how about we compromise?
JASON TEAGUE: (puzzled) Compromise?
CLARK: Yeah, we reach a middle ground — you get some of what you want, we get some of what we want. (beat) How about this: You guys can have the place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and we’ll get it Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
WHITNEY FORDMAN: What about Sundays?
CLARK: Each Sunday, we’ll flip a coin. Best three out of four wins. (beat) So what do you think? Can we make that work?
Looming in close, Brad seizes the front of Clark’s shirt in his strong hands.
BRAD WILSON: What I think is I’m gonna enjoy feeding you my knuckles, you little turd.
Brad then punches Clark in the gut — hard. Doubling over, Clark doesn’t even have time to register the blow before the larger boy delivers another — this one right to the face. As teeth fly and blood sprays through the air, Clark goes down.
BRAD WILSON: (points at Lana, Pete, & Kenny) This shack is ours — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — got it? Now pick this ninety-pound weakling up and get the hell outta here before you get the same.
Sitting up, Clark puts a hand up to his split lip and bleeding nose. Eyes aflame with hatred, he stares daggers at Brad.
INT. KENT HOME/LIVING ROOM — DAY
Jonathan and Martha are engaged in a game of chess when they hear the front door thrown open and Clark storm in. Turning their attention away from the board, they see Clark — lip swollen, cheek bruised, and frown as deep and dark as a moonless midnight — stomp off to his bedroom.
INT. KENT HOME/CLARK’S BEDROOM — DAY
Entering the bedroom, brimming with rage, Clark throws himself face-down atop his bed. Burying his face in his pillow, he finally allows himself to cry.
“I am a writer. Therefore, I am not sane.”
― Edgar Allan Poe