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  • Jordan Keller

The Case File of Disintegrator, Told by Agent Mason Seth

Documenting superheroes was my first job at Check Chew Inc. Removing dangerous ones was my last job.

Disintegrator was my final assignment.

He possessed a dual power set: Flight and the ability to disintegrate any non-living thing he saw. It was the latter ability that had us all on high alert.

Disintegrator had been quiet for six years. Only making appearances in coastal towns usually outside the country. Check Chew Inc. decided he was the problem of those countries, and we kept our focus on soil-bound threats. As far as the public knows, Disintegrator hasn’t killed anyone. It’s an easy thing to believe, he can’t target the living.

According to Sealed Report 19-87B his death toll is 18. A tanker ship was destroyed in the ocean. The crew didn’t make it out of the hull before it submerged. I think they sealed the report to stop panic.

Not that there was any reason to cover up the attack. With powers of disintegration, people knew to be scared.

When a satellite image captured Disintegrator flying toward our country we started to panic. When that satellite captured the image of him passing the coast and coming inland, the nation’s higher-ups began to panic. When Disintegrator flew across the city, everyone began to panic.

Everyone thought it was just a matter of time before one of the downtown buildings was turned into a giant domino and set off a chain reaction, flattening the city.

Check Chew Inc. called in their best agent for the job.

William was sick that day. Playing sick anyway. I knew he was hungover after our poker game the night before. I may have won the $78 pot that night, but I felt like the loser when the executives slapped Disintegrator’s folder on my desk and told me to get to work. I’m still not sure if I should be mad or grateful that William played hooky that day.

Check Chew Inc. scientists and logistics pinpointed Disintegrator’s landing point, and I was shuffled off in a dark-tinted SUV with a duffle bag of experimental devices. I remember laughing at the contents. No matter what devices and tools and weapons they sent me with, Disintegrator could destroy them with just a glance.

I took the Ultra Glasses and left the rest inside the SUV. They looked the least suspicious and would prove additional use as I neared the destination. The vast openness of the city’s dump. Spirals of forgotten trash stretched into the sky. Hills made up of rotting food scraps and invincible plastics rolled through the desolate landscape. The glasses blocked the harsh sunlight from stinging my eyes, but nothing blocked the smell.

It was horrid.

The dump was a reminder of how dirty and wasteful we humans are. A rat ran across my foot and jumped into a milk carton.

I scanned the sky and watched Disintegrator land in the center of the trash heap. I looked for the target he must have sought out here. I looked for something he could destroy that would lead to mass casualties in our city as my boss predicted to happen. Right then, it looked like just the rat’s home was in danger. Until he looked at me. Disintegrator’s fluorescent green eyes snapped to me, and my heart lurched. Glowing smoke poured around the edges of his eyes. The display inside my glasses flashed a warning that the UV waves in the area were increasing. The infrared heat sensors screamed around his eyes until they could no longer track the temperature increase.

Despite knowing Disintegrator’s powers didn’t work on a living body, I still feared death. The green light fled from his eyes and shot into a pile of trash on my left. Once the light cleared, I saw it was gone. The trash. The smell. The plastic that would take decades to break down. Everything was gone.

He looked at the stack of trash on my right, and in an instant, it was gone too. Only the rat remained, looking between us and blinking. The rat scurried off while Disintegrator annihilated another pile of garbage. I watched as this man freed the area of every scrap of trash and waste from the dump. The air quality meter of my glasses kept dropping. The smell kept improving.

After Disintegrator hit the final stack, I approached him.

“Pardon me.” I feel just as awkward now retelling this story as I did then. Who politely interrupts a super-powered criminal who can destroy things just by looking at them?

Disintegrator looked at me. The green of his eyes still glowing, still making most of the meters in my glasses uncomfortable, but when he smiled the threat of death crept away.

“Howdy there. Didn’t see you before. You good?”

I can’t place his accent, and to this day he still hasn’t told me where he’s from. If you ask me off the books, I swear he’s not from Earth.

“What are you doing here?” I skipped the pleasantries, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

He pointed around himself, around the now empty landscape. Without the mounds of garbage, I can see the flickering surface of the far-off ocean. “Cleaning up. I kept finding trash in the oceans and finally tracked it up here. You’d never guess a water bottle tossed out here would find its way all the way down the tip of the coast. This ought to keep things clean for a while.”

“You’re cleaning the oceans?”

“Wouldn’t you?”

His question was obvious. Of course, I’d clean the oceans. I’m about to tell him so. I’m about to tell him if I had his powers, I’d do the same thing. But I don’t. I shouldn’t need superpowers to recycle. I shouldn’t need death ray eyes to better our country’s disposal system.

“You wouldn’t believe how hard it was getting up here,” Disintegrator chuckles. “I had to dodge three jets, a couple of heat-seeking rockets—those are easy for me though, so long as they aren’t close to the jets, and four flocks of geese. It almost feels like people don’t like me.”

“We don’t understand you,” I admitted. “You’re listed as the most powerful…” I stop myself. It doesn’t feel right to call him a villain. “I didn’t know you were cleaning up the oceans.”

“What else would I be doing?”

“With laser eyes?”

The understanding that came over his face turned his expression sour. He looked ashamed. Not for himself, but for me, Check Chew Inc., for this whole nation that assumed the worst of a stranger.

“People tried buying my powers before,” he told me. “Wanted to enlist me as a weapon in some long-ago war. I stopped hanging around people after that. You’re not one of those, are you?”

Green wisps oozed from his eyes. My glasses warned at the increasing heat around them. I shake my head.

“What kind of person are you then?”

No one had ever asked me that before, and to this day, no one has since. At that time, I didn’t know. I knew what I appeared to be. A man in some Men In Black style suit with super-spy gadgets and a job I could never list on a resume outside the government.

“I’m not sure.”

Disintegrator chuckled, clapping his hands together like he had the most brilliant idea. “Would you want to be a person who changes the world?”

That did sound nice, so I nodded.

“Can that buggy of yours get me to the next dump?” He pointed at the SUV. “Believe it or not but flying really wears a guy down.”

“And you wouldn’t be targeted.”

Disintegrator tapped his nose at my correct assumption.

“On one condition.”

“I didn’t think being a hero required a condition.”

I unlocked the SUV with my key fob. “We make a pit stop along the way. I want some nose plugs.”

Disintegrator laughed again. It sounded too joyous to belong to someone called Disintegrator. “I bet we can make this whole world smell better in a month.”

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