The room has no adornments — plain four walls, gray floor, no windows, a table and two chairs, one on either side. Seated in the chair facing the door, a young man wearing a long white trench coat is looking over some applications. He has on a thick pair of horn-rimmed glasses; several ink pens protrude from his shirt pocket. His dark hair is unkempt.
The door opens. A man enters — roughed-up face, tattoos, tank-top, jeans, tousled hair, three-days’ growth on his face, and a cockney accent.
“I’m ‘ere about the job?”
“Take a seat.”
“Right! Now, wats the job?”
“I’m hiring henchmen.”
“’enchmen? Wats at?
“You know, helpers…”
“’An who might you be?”
“I’m a mad scientist.”
“A mad what?”
“Oh… so wats is job entail? Wat am I supposed to be doin?”
“You stand around in corridors holding a gun all day.”
“I do wat? Stand around all day? ‘Oldin a bleedin gun?”
“Yes, you’re supposed to lend an air of credibility.”
“An air of wat? I’m outta ‘ere…” Starts to go.
“Just a second. Don’t you want to see the cool uniform you’ll wear?”
The young man reaches down and takes out a t-shirt from a cardboard box under the table. He holds it up for the other man to see. The t-shirt has the emblem of a lightning bolt and a snake.
“That’s not a uniform… it’s a t-shirt!”
“It’s my first design. You like it?”
“It’s alright. But there better be more ‘an t-shirt to my uniform.”
“There will be… someday.”
“Someday? I’m outta here.” Starts to leave.
“Wait! Don’t you want to hear about your futuristic weapon you’ll be holding?”
“I guess… but it better be an improvement over that uniform.”
“Oh, yes… I have a picture of it right here.”
Once more the young man reaches down into the box and pulls out a sheet of paper.
“A picture? All you gots is a bloody picture?”
“I have the design, I just haven’t built it yet.”
“I’m outta ‘ere for good this time…” The man rises and heads for the door.
“Hold on! The corridor, where you’ll be standing… it’s inside my secret lair.”
The man has his hand on the door knob. He stops and turns around.
“Don’t tell me… you got a bloody picture of that, too.”
“Good…” The applicant comes back to his seat.
The young mad scientist reaches back into the cardboard box.
“I have a model…” and brings up a miniature.
The man opposite runs his hand down his face. “For chrissake! ‘Ow can you ‘ire ‘enchmen when you ain’t got no uniform, no weapons, and no secret lair. What was you plannin to use for cash? Play money?”
“I was hoping we could rob a bank.”
“Rob a bank? Just like at and den what?”
“Then I could afford to buy a private island, build my secret lair and hire more henchmen.”
The rough man extends his arm, pointing in the young man’s face.
“You’re daft! An absolutely nothin you say right now is gonna stop me from goin out dat door.”
“A mad scientist has to start somewhere.”
“From what I can see, you ain’t no scientist, you’re just mad. So long!”
“I’ll give you 51% controlling interest in my death ray I was going to use to conquer the world.”
The man stopped half way to the door and froze.
“I have a small working model…”
The man spun around and raised his voice. “I don’t bloody believe you. I suppose it’s in dat bloody little cardboard box. Well you can take your bloody little toys and go to bloody ‘ell. I won’t be a ‘enchman for you now or in da future. You got that?” He turns to leave and puts his hand on the doorknob.
“Sorry to hear you say that…”
A bright red glow lights up the room and a loud cracking sound fills the air. A pile of dust is all that remains of the applicant. The young mad scientist puts his death ray back into the cardboard box, shuffles the papers on his desk and puts a hand to his mouth.
William L Stolley lives in North Carolina with his wife and son. He enjoys writing science fiction and has published The Voices Saga — a ten novel series.