My old blog rather went away when I rebuilt this for the Justice Academy, so some old stories rather vanished. I’m going to repost a couple of them, the ones I particularly like, or are particularly relevant, and this bit of flash fiction falls into both categories. It’s the first story in my Doctor Deathray series, and features a monologue from a retired supervillain.
You can hear me perform this story on episode 59 of the Word Count Podcast. And you can find it in my anthology StorycastRob: Mic Drop.
“I’m just going down to the shed, dear!”
Louise gives me a distracted wave, too busy on the phone to notice me. Gossiping with that awful Wilson woman again I expect. The keenest journalistic mind of our generation confined to scandals at the village fete and scribbling for the local rag.
It’s a victory of sorts. I take them where I can.
I get asked all the time, at those interminable dinner parties ‘we’ throw, how did Doctor Deathray end up married to Captain Supreme’s ex-girlfriend? I laugh, ever the genial host, and talk about mind control radiation. The guests are all horrified in that middle-class, Middle-England kind of way, until she throws a tea towel at me, to break the moment.
The truth is much simpler, really. I used to kidnap her so often in the sixties, we spent more time together than she did with Captain Supreme. Even if you include his time as mild-mannered photographer Ken Cooper. So when the good Captain evolved into a being of pure energy and ascended to become the ruler of the Realm of Otherwhen … don’t blame me, it was the seventies… but… it was the most natural thing in the world, I reached out. We bonded over our loss.
Nothing happened overnight. We got older. We grew together. The world rather got over super-activity. I hung up my Deathray. She hung up her typewriter. And here we are. Two normal people living out our golden years in rural splendour.
I have my shed to escape to, thank god.
She thinks she knows my secret. I tell her I’m going to sit in my armchair and read the local newspaper. She thinks I’m sneaking off for a cigarette and a glass of whisky… well, except, she calls it scotch. There are times when she is still dreadfully American.
I do love her very much, you know. And I do hate to disappoint her.
But I am no longer content to sit and idly await death. Turn on a television. Go to a cinema. Superheroes are big again. But it’s like they have forgotten we actually existed. This is all some special effects fantasy land to the children today.
But we did important work.
And they don’t remember us at all.
Well, I am not content to fade to some forgotten myth. It has taken time; I had to empty all of the bank accounts I hid from the authorities. But I have rebuilt it. My super laser is complete, better than ever, a weapon worthy of a new millennium, and the world will cower… no… the world will tremble in terror… better… hah!… the world will tremble in terror once more to the name of Doctor Deathray!
And there will be no “Captain Supreme” to stop me this time!
Wait. What’s this?
“In a recent council meeting, delegates from the Chamber of Commerce petitioned… agreed to an increase in parking… more on page seven….”
Who wrote this? My… but… I told her. That’s a nesting area for the lesser crested… and those idiots on the council want to… They can’t be allowed to…
She can’t hear me of course, up in the house.
No, but this will not stand. I am Doctor Deathray, and they shall not brook my will.
I shall write a sternly worded letter to the councillor, and if that doesn’t work, then my MP will be hearing about this, mark my words. And there will be nobody to stop me.
Oh, where is Louise? I think I’m out of stamps. She probably has some in her handbag.