Frame of Mind

CHAPTER ONE

Thaddeus Chesterton looked angrily at the reviews of his latest book. “Wholly unoriginal, another stereotypical villain who’s ultimate plan is world domination,” said one reviewer. While another reviewer stated, “The man who originally brought non-graphic superhero novels to the mainstream has officially run out of ideas.” The most infuriating of the reviews read, “John Smith, A.KA Thaddeus Chesterton, was once thought to be our generation’s Stan Lee. Now, he’s looking like the George Lucas of superheroes. He started off with greatness, now he’s just milking each hero for all they’re worth, which isn’t much anymore.”

Thaddeus’s mind was a volcano of swirling lava. It wasn’t just the review that made him so rage-filled. It was the fact that the reviewer had used his birth name, John Smith. Thaddeus hated that name, and he hated his parents for giving him that name. “If you want something ‘wholly unoriginal,’ then you should ask my parents for baby names,” he thought to himself angrily. John Smith. Not only had his parents been bland enough to have the name “Smith,” they didn’t even have the decency to come up with something better than “John.” John Smith is the name an undercover agent would reject because it would be too obvious. Thaddeus hated the name so much, that he changed it to Thaddeus Chesterton. Three syllables for each name, and original enough for people to take a second look, but not so ludicrous that people wouldn’t know how to pronounce it.

Thaddeus continued with the self-torture of reading critic after critic, almost none of them had nice things to say about his story. After what seemed like an eternity in the deepest pits of Hades, Thaddeus finally got to the last of the reviews. The story ahead taken him months to complete, only for it to be a critical, and commercial flop.

Thaddeus looked at the bottom of the web page. The top article was a news story about an escaped convict being caught again. Curious to read about someone who was somehow having a worse day than him, Thaddeus clicked on the article.

“Self-made Billionaire/Convicted Murderer Back in Prison.” The article told of a man named Hector Rookman, who made a fortune in building security systems for houses. After living high and mighty for years,  he was found in an alley way with bloody knuckles and a man beaten to death beside him. He claimed that the man he was trying to kidnap a child, and he had intervened, but with no evidence of a child ever being there, and no eye-witnesses, he was sentenced to forty years in prison

Two days after he had been sent to prison, Rookman had to be restrained when he put four inmates in the medical ward. Three months later, he escaped by overriding the security protocols of the prison with a smuggled in smartphone. He was caught three states away, when a particularly observant guard who worked at the prison happened to be vacationing in the same spot, and he called the police on him.

Rookman was an indisputable genius, and according to the article, had military and prison fighting experience. And he was either an insistent liar, unlucky enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, or he was insane. In Thaddeus’s opinion, all of these were excellent qualities for what he needed. Thaddeus exited out of the article. He had a few phone calls to make.