Frank opened his eyes sometime later and sat up. He was on the sidewalk. Rubble littered street to his right and the crumbled ruins of Green Tower were on his left. Mr. Impossible was standing a few feet away, staring at the pile of debris. Frank jumped to his feet.
“What the f-! What the fuck are you doing?!” Frank said. “We have to get out of here!”
Impossible turned his head to Frank and smiled.
“Relax, Frank,” he said.
“Relax?! Ten stories of super poisonous metal just exploded! And…” Frank said, then thought for a moment. “There was no Terrorite, was there?”
“No,” Impossible said. “There wasn’t.”
Frank brushed his sleeves, straightened his collar, and ran a hand through his hair.
“You could have just told me that,” he said.
“And miss your freak out? Not on your life.”
“Not on my life huh?” Frank said. He smirked. “Guess my life couldn’t buy a cup of coffee right now, let alone a little respect from a superhero.”
“I respect you, Frank,” Impossible said. “I just don’t like you.”
“Story of my life,” Frank said. “So…you plan to go after him?”
“The Mastermind,” Frank said. “Who else?”
Impossible lowered his head. Frank saw regret in his eyes. He’d seen that look countless times. Impossible wanted to weep, but he wasn’t going to. He was never going to.
“He’s dead, Frank,” Impossible said.
“He’s been dead before,” Frank said.
“This time it’s real,” Impossible said.
“It’s been real before,” Frank said.
“I know,” Impossible said. “We dug through the rubble minutes after the collapse…”
“And?” Frank said as calmly as he could. It felt like his heart was pounding inside a ring of fire.
“We found his body,” Impossible said.
“You sure?” Frank asked.
“I recognized his face,” Impossible said. “We did some tests. The armor is the same suit he was wearing. Not a replica.”
“DNA matched exactly,” Impossible said. “It was him, Frank.”
“I don’t believe you,” Frank said.
Impossible pulled a photo from inside his glove. He handed it over. Frank looked closely, scanning every inch with meticulous attention. He looked it over once, then again. He turned the photo over and back. He felt the edges, held it up to the sun. Anything to prove the glossy high definition photo was a lie. But it wasn’t. The picture was real. Lying there, pinned beneath concrete and metal, was the Mastermind. Motionless. His helmet was gone. Frank could see the face of Arthur Warden staring into the camera with lifeless eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Impossible said.
“What are you sorry for?” Frank said. “You didn’t kill him…he went and solved your problem all on his own.”
“I didn’t want him to die,” Impossible said. “I’m sorry because he’s gone. I’m sorry because you were right, Frank.”
“Right about what?”
“Supervillains are dreamers,” Impossible said. “They have dreams about revenge and taking over the world. But…heroes have dreams too. We dream about the things that might happen if we give them a chance,” Impossible looked back to the rubble. “I think we heroes opt to save the bad guys because…we believe one day these soon to be gods and wannabe kings might return and put all that raw talent to helping the world rather than just themselves. We believe that one day, if we do our job right, all crime will end and the world will be a perfect place,” Impossible looked down and smiled. “Sounds pretty naive when you say it out loud, doesn’t it?”
Frank’s eyes were still fixed on the photo.
“You’re a hero,” Frank said. “You can be a naive as you like…”
“I’m also sorry…,” Impossible said, walking over to Frank. “Because I know how it feels to lose a hero.”
Frank looked up.
“Yeah, I suppose you do,” he said.
Impossible held out his hand. Frank glanced at it for an instant, then met Impossible’s eyes. He placed the picture into his pocket.
“I’m going to need that back,” Impossible said.
“Not going to happen.”
“Now, Frank,” Impossible said.
“You’re going to have to kill me to get it,” Frank said.
“It’s not every day a man loses his career, his life, and his hero,” Frank said. “So yeah, I’m pretty serious.”
“Fine,” he said. “Keep it.”
Impossible readied to take off, then stopped.
“If you need my help, Frank. Just ask,” he said. “I might not like you, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to sit by and let you get fired.”
“And have you rescue me again?” Frank asked. “Not on your life.”
“That’s what I thought you’d say,” Impossible said. “Goodbye, Frank. Remember, my offer still stands.”
Impossible stepped back, looked up, and zoomed into the air. A gust of wind rustled Frank’s hair and suit jacket. Frank watched Impossible until he was a speck on the horizon and then headed to his car. He shoved his hands into his pockets as he walked. One of his pockets was gone, but he pretended it was still there. His suit had been ripped and torn in the explosion. Ruined.
“Down to my fourth best suit,” Frank said with a sigh.
He made it around to the Green Tower parking lot where he’d parked his car and where he found his sleek black Lamborghini crushed flat under a submarine. Frank pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes.
“Of course…,” he said. “I mean why wouldn’t my car be crushed beneath a giant freaking submarine?!”
Frank looked up towards the sky.
“Anything else you want to throw at me? Huh?” He said.
The sky flashed. Thunder cracked. A torrent of heavy rain fell right onto Frank’s face. He spat out a mouth full of rainwater.
“Super,” Frank said. “Thanks for that.”
He pulled out his phone. Water was already dripping off his face as he dialed Karen’s number. The phone rang. Frank spotted the picture Impossible had given him lying on the ground. He bent down, grabbed it. He looked at the picture while the phone continued to ring.
“Christ, Frank!” Karen’s voice came over the speaker. “Are you alright?!”
Frank instinctively smiled.
“Yeah,” he said. “Sorry to disappoint.”
“Why didn’t you call me earlier you asshole?!”
“Why, were you worried?”
“Shut up,” she said. “Look, do you need any help? Are you hurt? Where are you?”
“Right by Green Tower,” he said. “Mind come picking me up? I need-”
Frank stopped. Something about the picture caught his attention. Something he hadn’t noticed before. His eyes lit up.
“Frank? Hello?” Karen called out.
“I need to call you back. Sorry Kare,” Frank said. He pressed the end button on the call and dialed another number.
“Hello, Mr. Sonata,” October said. “How can I help?”
“October, can you look up a file on Arthur Warden?” Frank asked.
“No problem. Which file?”
“Warden requested a custom medication,” Frank said. “I need to know what kind of medicine it was.”
“That would be a private customer file Mr. Sonata,” October said. “I’d like to help, but not even I could access that.”
“Right. Of course…,” Frank said. “Can you at least tell me which doctor fulfilled the request?”
“Let’s see,” she said. “Hmmm, it seems most of the files concerning Arthur Warden have been removed.”
“Damn…I forgot,” Frank said. “Right, okay…try the doctor’s personal logs.”
“You want me to access their personal logs?”
“Please, October,” he said. “This is important.”
“Alright,” she said. “Give me a moment. Here we are.”
“Find anything?” He asked. “Which doctor was it? Stepman or Rhine?”
“According to the personal logs…the only doctor to have any mention of an Arthur Warden is Dr. Stepman.”
Frank’s heart skipped.
“Alright…now one more thing,” he said. “You mentioned someone delivering a package to Green Tower.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Tell me…how big was it?”
Frank smirked as he asked the question, looking down at the picture again, staring at Arthur’s left eye and noting the scar wasn’t there.