Chapter 6

Hector woke up and groggily got up out o bed. He felt cool from his freezing sweat. As he descended on his own two feet, he felt like he was going to just fall forward like someone who had just been stabbed in the back.

He’d had his first bout of PTSD in years last night. It was the eyes. It was always the eyes for him. Hector could clearly picture Mingus’s eyes looking into the camera. They were as real as the ones he stared at every day in the mirror.

Hector had been foolish enough to watch the news. He watched as people mourned the death of a beloved public figure, and Hector knew it would only get worse when they realized that the public figure had spent his private life fighting for the good of the city and the world.

“It’s not real,” Hector kept telling himself. But the words sounded hollow to him. Everything felt real, he even had an exact replica of his own home in this world. And it didn’t help that Thaddeus had gone completely quiet in his head. It was if Thaddeus enjoyed watching him collapse inside his own mind.

Hector found himself walking toward his training room. It was exactly how he left it in the real world. The weights were still in the exact spot that he expected. He walked over to the punching bag that was exactly how he left it, right down to the small tear in the top right corner.

Without putting on gloves, Hector hit the bag. Hitting it hurt his knuckles, but the pain felt good. He proceeded to pound the bag with no rhythm, just rapid strikes that would render a real opponent crippled for life. He imagined himself hitting Thaddeus for putting him in this situation, and his punches got harder. He was almost determined to see what would break first, his hands or the bag.

After nearly an hour of with the bag, Hector let out a cry and gave one last massive punch and walked away, leaving the bag swinging like rapid metronome. He instinctively began to unwrap his hands, only to realize for the first time he wasn’t wearing any wraps, or any protection for his hands. He went back over to the bag and steadied it. He saw his own blood all over it.

“It’s not real,” Thaddeus’s voice rang in his head.

“What?” Asked Hector, not fully processing anything at that moment.

“The blood, it’s not real. None of this is. It’s all a figment of your imagination. Well, my imagination. In your head.”

Hector had had enough, “get me out of here.”

The voice just laughed, “Don’t be so dramatic, you know what you need to do to get out of here.”

Then, an idea came into Hector’s mind, “I do know what I need to do.” He strided toward the drawer beside his couch, and he pulled his handgun out of it. It was fully loaded, just like it would be in the real world. Hector turned it around and faced the barrel toward his own forehead.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” the voice chided.

“Why not? If none of this is real, then I won’t actually die.”

“Look around you, Hector. You logically know that this world isn’t real, but your conscience believes that it is real. Feel the pain on your hands, it’s the exact pain that you would expect from hitting the bag. The gun in your hand feels exactly how your brain expects it to, and if you pull that trigger, it’s going to feel exactly how you would anticipate. Your conscience will believe that you are dead, so for all intents and purposes you will be. Even in the real world.”

“Why did you not tell me this before I came here?” Hector demanded.

“You didn’t ask,” the voice replied simply, “you were so caught up in the idea or a challenge, you didn’t ask about the risks. So, if you want to get out of this world you’re going to have to do what I tell you, which is to destroy this world. And you know how to do that, don’t you?”

The normally calm and calculated brain of Hector was starting to feel shaken. His thoughts were racing to the point where he could feel his head burning.

“You’re a b*stard!” Hector screamed.

“You can call me whatever you want,” the voice said, “it won’t change what you have to do.”

And then, the voice was silent.

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Chapter 5

Eric Bishop watched from a distance as detectives and rescue teams scrambled around to look for survivors from the blast at the Mingus Tower. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind of who the target was. They all knew that Mark Mingus was in almost the exact spot of the explosion, and they all assumed that this was an act of terrorism. But Bishop knew better.

The police didn’t know what Mingus truly did at night. They probably assumed that he did what most billionaires did, and they didn’t know what most billionaires did either. But Bishop knew that Mingus was the Mind Doctor. In fact, Bishop had worked closely with him on many occasions. So when he heard the news of the explosion, Bishop came right over to St. Charles.

Bishop had originally doubted that Mingus was killed, after all, there had been many attempts at his life before, and none of them had succeeded yet. But the police evidence reports of security footage of Mingus walking into his office not even a minute before the explosion was indisputable. Bishop figured that it was only a matter of time before the police found the secret elevator that lead to Mingus’s hideout.

Scanning the crime scene, Bishop eventually found who he was looking for. It was Detective Hal Davis, a tall man in his late twenties whose brown hair looked dangerously close to balding. What set Davis apart was the fact that he was able to deduce the Mind Doctor’s secret identity in his first year as a police officer. He was quite possibly the only person in the city who knew what kind of change the death of Mingus would cause. And he was most certainly the only police officer that Bishop had every worked closely with.

“Hal,” Bishop called out.

Detective Davis turned at the sound of his name. After a moment’s hesitation, he recognized Bishop and strided toward him. Ducking under the yellow tape, he took an abrupt turn to the left and signaled with his head for Bishop to follow him. He walked about fifty feet, before stopping and turning around, and Bishop met him at the spot.

“Sorry,” said Davis, “I didn’t want to be overheard. Over here, you’ll just look like a distressed relative of a victim.”

Bishop nodded and began to speak, “do you know who did this?”

“We have a few suspects, mostly business rivals and super villains, but those all look to be dead ends.”

“It’s not flashy enough to be the work of the Red Crusader, or any one of his other… Rivals,” Bishop agreed.

“There is one interesting piece of evidence.  The security cameras had a small glitch at around one-thirty. We barely even noticed it at first.”

“Well it’s not too hard to get past a security system,” Bishop said.

Davis shook his head, “you don’t understand. This building had some of the best security in the world. It was the top-of-the-line quality from Rookman Industries. It’s said that the Mingus Tower is the most secure privately owned building in the world.”

“No, the most secure ones are the ones that you don’t know exist,” Bishop stated, and he walked away, leaving Davis  gawking at him in confusion.

Chapter Four

It was nighttime in St. Charles. Although it was too cloudy for the stars or the moon to take much of an effect on the darkness, the streetlights and the virtual billboards provided Hector with enough light to see what he was doing, but not so much light that it was impossible to avoid detection.

Hector had bought a navy blue suit with a matching tie and briefcase. Although he did not want to be seen, he did not want to look like he was hiding. If anyone looked at the security system, they would just assume that Hector was a worker who forgot something at the office. The cost for the clothes was too microscopic to even be counted as a cost for Hector. He had discovered that all of his assets from the real world had transferred to his new world.

Hector pulled out the his key card. It wasn’t a key card meant for this particular building, but when Hector had built the key card system he had given himself a Master Key over all the locks produced in the world. He had done it more or less on impulse, but now he was glad that he did. Although Thaddeus could’ve just input one into the story, Hector only wanted to work with tools he would have in the real world.

Hector walked across the dimly lit lobby as he was typing on his phone. The average observer would’ve assumed that he was texting, but he was really overriding the security protocols that he’d buillt himself. Now that the cameras and the motion detectors were dead, Hector was free to ride the elevator up to the top floor of the building, which was the office of Mark Mingus, the Mind Doctor himself.

The elevator let out a ding to show that Hector had reached the sixty-eighth and last floor. Hector walked past the receptionist desk where the Mind Doctor’s frequent love interest, Henrietta, sat. He walked up to two large oak doors. These walls weren’t protected by Rookman Industries, rather they were protected by a knock frequency detector, where, you had to tap the right spot at the right time on the doors for them to open. Hector remembered how Mingus had done it in the book. He reached up, and gave two rapid taps, then he moved his hand to the left and gave a tap, then to the right, and then back up.

Nothing happened at first, and then the doors slowly opened toward the inside of the room. The room had an emerald green floor, with maroon walls, which was the same color scheme as the Mind Doctor’s crime fighting suit. Next to a large, bulletproof window, was an oak desk that matched the doors at the entrance of the office. Hector knew that if he entered the right code onto the keypad on the desk, then the walls would rotate, revealing an elevator that would go down an old abandoned garbage chute and into an arena-like room that was many layers underneath the ground. In that room was where the crime-fighting suit of the Mind Doctor, and a concoction that allowed him hear the thoughts of those in danger.

The desk, however, was the important part of Hector’s plan. His plan was quite simple. It is much easier to kill Mark Mingus than the Mind Doctor. So Hector went to the desk, set the briefcase down, and got to work.

Once he finished working on the desk, he had one more place to go… The security room.

 

Hector woke up in his hotel room. Apparently, the need for sleep is a consistency in both the fictional and the real world. Whether or not the body was doing actual work, his mind was working overtime and needed rest. Another thing that he discovered was that he needs to eat. As Thaddeus had said in Hector’s mind, “the rules in this world apply to you, so you will need to eat, sleep, and perform all of the other necessary body functions.”

Hector glanced at the alarm clock next to his bed, although he always knew what time it was within a few minutes, he needed to be precise at this moment.  Hector turned on his phone, and saw a picture of Mark Mingus’s doops to his office. Only it wasn’t a picture, it was a live feed from the security camera in order to tell when Mingus went into the room.

Hector stared at his phone screen for about four hours. He didn’t mind. He was like a hunter in a tree stand, safe with the knowledge that once the prey comes into sight, all of the waiting would be worth it. And eventually, all of the waiting paid off.

Mark Mingus appeared at the bottom of the phone screen camera, and walked into the center right next to the desk, and he was totally oblivious to the rig of explosives that Hector had placed there.

Hector grabbed his detonator and placed his thumb onto the button. Then, Mingus seemed to stare right at the camera. Hector froze. He looked so real. As much as he loved a challenge, Hector had never wanted to hurt anyone.

Hector shook himself, and reminded himself that the man on the phone screen wasn’t real, and then he pressed the button. There was a flash of light, and then the screen went black.

 

He