Artwork: AMC '23

Richard A. Smith: The Hero

Author: MFP '23-24
As seen in: Cool #

It’s every kid’s dream to be a superhero, which is why I spend all my time wandering around the research labs. I like to go at night—when the real science starts—and see which doors were left unlocked for future heroes. Most of the time I come home empty handed. But last Friday, I finally made it big: I was bitten by a mouse.


The first thing I did was check what lab I was in to see what kind of powers I was going to get. It turns out I was in the Richard A. Smith Memorial Cancer Research Center, which probably meant laser eyes. 


I decided to take the mouse home, thinking that maybe someday he’d be my sidekick. I never really wanted a sidekick, but it would be nice for whatever movie studio ended up getting the rights to my story, in case they were ever short on cash and needed to churn out a blockbuster.


When I got home I decided to name my mouse Richard A. Smith, a fun little easter egg for my future fans. Naming Rich ended up being a huge mistake because two days later he died and I started freaking out. I had never heard of a superhero whose power was dying. Who would want to see that? I mean, it might be appealing to the “hey when’s this guy gonna start losing his powers” crowd, but that crowd really only goes to the movies for the popcorn. At that moment I started to wonder if I was really cut out for the superhero lifestyle.


The next morning I woke up with a clear head. I realized that if I could figure out what killed Rich, then maybe I could harness that energy and become an even stronger hero with a standard lifespan. I went back to the Richard A. Smith Memorial Cancer Research Center and demanded answers.


“What killed my friend?” I shouted at the receptionist, holding Rich out in a ziploc bag. 


Her face became serious, yet friendly. It reminded me of the time my parents told me that I killed our dog. That was back when my parents were still alive before the accident I staged to give my character a tragic yet loveable backstory. 


“Let’s go to the cafeteria. I’ll explain,” she said warmly.


We sat down by the window. “Let me start off by saying that even for adults, cancer is a difficult thing to understand. Death is a part of life, and sometimes…”


It was really boring. I zoned out immediately and didn’t start listening until the end. “...leukemia is a terrible, terrible disease. That’s why we work so hard here at the Richard A. Smith Memorial Cancer Research Center. So we can beat it. Does that make sense?”


Leukemia! I should’ve known it was a space rock. “Yeah, that makes sense,” I mumbled, hopping out of my chair. “Thanks for explaining!”


She waved goodbye as I walked out the door, a single tear rolling down her cheek.


I was happy. I wasn’t going to die and eventually I’d learn how to use this leukemia thing for good. You can’t ask for much more than that. 


The only thing missing from my superhero story was a name. “Richard A. Smith!” I thought to myself. Then I remembered that I had already named Rich that. For clarity, I decided to go with Richard A. Smith: The Hero. Sure, it was a little long, but by the second movie people will start to abbreviate it as R.A.S.T.H, which sounds awesome once you get the hang of it.