Varissa Skink tapped her black-painted fingernails irritably against the podium. She looked out over the scowling faces staring back at her from the nearly empty conference room. Hopeless, she thought. They were all hopeless.
“Welcome to the third day of the Evildoers Professional Development Seminar,” She forced a wry smile. The microphone squealed as feedback charged through the sound system. Varissa backed up and covered the microphone to make it stop. Then she went on. “Today we’ve finally gotten to the really good part. Your Moment of Triumph. Now, I need a volunteer.”
The audience stared at her skeptically. Lumps, she thought. Worthless lumps. Not a scrap of talent out there. Typical.
“How about you?” She pointed to a man in a long black coat. He shrugged and stood up, then walked to the stage as if he didn’t really care about anything. “Thank you, Mr…” Varissa bent to read his nametag. “Horus.”
He tipped his chin up in response, then crossed his arms and waited impatiently for instructions.
“I want you to imagine that you’ve finally defeated your arch-enemy. You have him at gunpoint,” Varissa handed Mr. Horus a fake but very authentic-looking handgun. “Now what do you do. Let’s see some good imagination here.”
Mr. Horus turned, staring at an empty point on the stage. He scowled, raised the gun. He leered. Then he threw his head back and laughed maniacally.
“Okay, stop, that’s enough,” Varissa said. “Thank you, Mr. Horus. Can anyone tell me what he did wrong?”
No one budged.
“He laughed!” Varissa said. “While he’s busy laughing, something like this…” Varissa kicked the gun out of Mr. Horus’ hand, caught it in mid air, and had it against his forehead in half a second. “…might happen.”
A feeble applause from the crowd. Varissa sent Mr. Horus down and took another volunteer.
“You might think of escaping, even now,” this one sneered. “But if you so much as move a muscle, I’ll shoot. Listen while I tell you how miserably you’ve failed, how soon I will rule the world!”
“Wait. Wait just one second,” Varissa interrupted. “Did I really just hear that? Are you going to tell your arch-enemy your evil plans?”
The volunteer looked confused. “It’s standard procedure,” he said.
“No no no no no,” Varissa laughed bitterly. “Never tell ANYONE your evil plans. They’ll always get away and defeat you.”
“Not anyone?” the volunteer asked.
“Not a soul.”
“Not even my evil minions?”
“No, they might betray you. Or get captured by the enemy and tell them everything.”
“How about my most trusted evil assistant?”
“Let’s take a hint from the good guys. They’re always saying, 'Trust me, this is going to work.' That’s all they’ll say when their buddies ask them what the plan is. Now, repeat after me. 'Trust me, this is going to work.' That’s all you need to say.”
Varissa thanked her volunteer, but before she could ask for someone else to come up, there was a crash as the door burst open. Police uniforms, men and women in colorful tights, one in an expensive suit, and two in trench coats.
Dang it. The cavalry is here.
“Stay where you are, evildoers! You’re all under arrest!”
“Remember what you’ve learned!” Varissa shouted. “We’re obviously outmatched! Everyone run for it!”
None of the villains listened to her. They all stood up and faced the new arrivals. “Come and get us, boys!” One of them laughed maniacally.
Hopeless, Varissa thought as she jumped off the back of the stage and crawled to her escape trap door beneath.