“So. Martin.” The cold, direct voice of The Administrator filled his office. “You know why I called you in here?”

Martin remained erect, but frozen, in the steel guest chair.

“Of course you do,” he lamented. “You know, they told me that you weren’t cut out for this. That your psychological profile was…unsatisfactory. But I saw something in you. Perhaps I was blinded by your striking resemblance to me. Perhaps my instincts have softened in my old age. Regardless, it turns out they were right.”

The Administrator approached from the shadows, his jet black shoes clapping against the limestone floor. His chiseled face revealed less emotion than his tailored suit. Towering over him, his thumb and index finger cupped Martin’s chin. He let go.

“I thought I could prove your worth to us. You know, start you off slow.”

Martin stared blankly at him, watching him place a cigarette between his lips.

“After all, we couldn’t give you the ability to start the world on fire until we were sure of you.” On cue, the cigarette lit itself.

“The ability to make someone else sneeze seemed pretty innocuous. Easy to keep hidden. And a quite effective tool at extending someone’s life. Have to admit, you impressed us when you saved the Senator, delaying his first step into the crosswalk.” The Administrator turned his back to Martin, resting his hands on his desk.

“But you couldn’t help yourself. You had to play with your new toy. Showing it off at parties, placing bets on who would sneeze first. Making the President embarrass himself at his own inauguration. All fun and games, I know. But telling your wife was the last straw. This organization has the power to make this world a better place, but only if our secret is kept.” The Administrator paused, then turned around. “We’re now half way to keeping that secret.”

Martin’s eyes darted at his boss, rage masking the pain behind them. He kept quiet.

“It’s a shame, really.” He put the cigarette out. “I don’t like killing anyone, even for the greater good. Even though I’ll gain your power when you die.” The Administrator laughed. “Now, do you have any last words before you spontaneously combust?”

Martin did not.

“Alright, then. I admit this will take a few seconds longer than my cigarette. You seem to like parlor tricks. How about we end this with a magic word? Shazam? Presto-chango?”

Martin’s expression remained unchanged.

“Oh, I got it. Here we go.” His splayed his hands out in front of him as if it were necessary. “Abracada…ah! Ah! Ah-CHOO! Abracachoo!”

Martin rose from the chair, watching The Administrator clumsily stumble with an endless sneezing fit. Walking behind his former boss, he waited for him to rise from his latest attack. In one motion, he cradled his head and snapped his neck. The lifeless body slumped to the floor.

A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door. “Come in!” called Martin, finishing the last button on his new suit.

“Sir!” barked the young man as he entered. “Are you done in here?”

Martin nodded.

“Good. We may not have much time. Talks are breaking down between the U.S. and China. And both sides have their bombs aimed and ready.”

“Well then,” Martin replied, looking down at the body. “It looks like we’ve got a fire to put out.”


Martin looked up. “So to speak, son.” He approached the young man, putting his arm around him as they exited his office. “So to speak.”

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