A to Z Challenge: Fred Felton’s Folly

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Fred had no idea how long he’d been falling, or how much further he had to go. It was probably the most frustrating part of tumbling into a bottomless pit. And to think the day had started off so well.

***

As a fraud investigator for FiendLife, the insurance company most trusted by aspiring supervillains, Fred Felton always had his hands full. Fraud, after all, was something every supervillain was intimately familiar with. There were very few cases where the grievances were genuine. Still, the job had its moments, and Fred knew no villain would be foolish enough to try and disembowel or disintegrate him. FiendLife didn’t look to kindly on the extermination of its employees, unless it was performed by the board of directors.

When the villain known as Flamethrower tried to file a claim after his house burned down, it seemed like an open and shut case. An accidental fire in an arsonist’s home? Sure, and maybe the Pulverizer didn’t hate puppies. He did. He really did. The Pulverizer had serious allergies.

The scene of the crime didn’t really offer any clues. The house had been completely razed to the ground, furniture, fixtures and all. Fred knew this could only be the work of someone with some serious firepower. Someone who could throw flames, for example. But he didn’t have anything to prove it. Not yet, anyway.

Fred noticed something among the ashes. A piece of metal that had survived the fire intact. That could prove to be significant. As he walked over to where the object was, Fred felt the ground give way under him. A trapdoor! He hadn’t dealt with one of those in about a year.

So it was that Fred Felton found himself tumbling down a pit without end, wondering why he hadn’t taken up a safer and more boring job. Maybe he could have been a lion tamer. At least they didn’t have to worry about wayward supervillains. But no, he had taken the job of fraud investigator at the premier villain insurance firm instead.

A sudden thought occurred to Fred while free falling through the void. Elaborate traps weren’t really Flamethrower’s style. He also wasn’t the kind of guy who would just have a trapdoor lying around. This had been a setup. Someone had wanted him to come here and fall in. But who would be diabolical enough to do that?

Of course! Fiendlife!

Fred realized that he’d just been fired. Fired while investigating the Flamethrower. Fiendlife really needed to work on their HR skills, but their sardonic humor was on point. Fred appreciated a good chuckle while facing down impending doom.

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