It took a bit longer than I’d hoped to produce the second of this series, but here it is! Enjoy!
Paperwork is the Devil
By Jacen Aster
“Alright people, calm down!”
The attendant looked flustered as he waved his hands at the gathered villains and villainesses. He was wearing a patch showing him as a qualified henchman sub-leader, meaning he was at least mildly competent, but clearly dealing with a line of irritated super villains was a bit much for the poor man.
“I understand that you all want a turn in the Evil Laugh Test Chamber, but we need to cycle our audience out! Doctor Snapper’s showing kinda…broke the last audience.”
Broke the audience? The crowd of villains stared at the henchman blankly. Finally, after nearly a three minutes pause, one of the villainesses managed to direct a disbelieving question at the test chamber’s operator. “Doctor Snapper broke the audience? That idiot is…but how…just what did he do?”
The henchman seemed to have gathered himself in the moments of silence. “Umm, well, he achieved a negative score when his evil laugh caused a few members of the test audience to pee themselves with laughter. We’re still cleaning up and resetting with a new audience while the first batch get back into the right frame of mind to be terrorized.”
The crowd looked at each other, then nodded in near perfect unison. That was much more believable than Doctor Snapper actually having a decent evil laugh. The man was a genius, certainly, but his basic villain skills were so horrible that he was regularly defeated by a trained animal team. Not super animals, mind you, just regular animals that some teenage heroine had trained to keep the poor idiot occupied when she got tired of dealing with him. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Villain Emporium got good use out of many of his inventions by buying them after each lost battle, selling them to other villains to put to better use, he’d never be invited to the expo at all.
Knowledge of the reason why they were waiting cooled the ire of most of the villains. Well, enough of them to keep the others in check at least. After another ten minutes had passed the nervous henchman finally announced that the new audience was in place. Overlord Drant was the first in line but Mistress Giggles suckered him with a show of cleavage and her oversized salad tongs, slipping in while he was distracted. Drant went red faced with a mottled mix of anger and embarrassment, while the crowd studiously looked elsewhere. If it had been anyone other than Mistress Giggles, they’d have sent a few sly remarks his way. As it was, she’d gotten every single one of them so many times that no one wanted to say anything, lest their own unfortunate past mistakes involving the woman be brought up.
A few moments later there was a chilling, terrifying sound from the chamber that made more than one hardened villain step back. It was followed by mad, cackling giggle-fits that sent a shudder rippling through the entire crowd. Each one of them swore once again not to get on the wrong side of Mistress Giggles. She was mostly harmless, most of the time, but if something set her off the woman was downright terrifying. When she sauntered out of the booth with a manic grin on her face and her salad tongs over one shoulder a 98/100 appeared over the booth’s doorway. A high mark for others to pass.
Overlord Drant took his turn next, his anger granting him a 7-point gain over his mark from last year, putting him at a solid 87. The Whisperer followed with a meager 56 that he shrugged off and Mr. Smirk managed to wow them all by nearly doubling his bad score from the previous year, bringing him up to a 93. Several villains abandoned their spots in line to get tips from him on how he’d improved so much in the last year. The resultant thinning of the crowd was just as well, as security had to remove Doctor Redeemer as his squeaky voice caused him to get a sub-30 score for the fifth year running and he went berserk.
As the chaos from the bouncers removing Redeemer began to settle, the henchman froze with an expression of terror on his face. A few villains called out, heckling him to get a move on, but he merely whimpered. They tracked his line of sight and most of them shrugged in confusion. Mistress Giggles was harassing Sir Organizer, the villain who created and hosted the expo. Two of the oldest villains in the crowd booked it for the door, sowing confusion as they appeared to panic and scramble to get out of the building entirely. As one of them was Madam Pain, more than a few of the smarter villains shouted cries of their own and freed their inevitable hidden weapons, preparing for the worst. Perhaps, they thought, the heroes were raiding them despite the foolishness of such a move and the traditional truce during the expo.
Then it happened. Sir Organizer, known to only the older villains by his former alias as Diablo the Terror, laughed.
A shudder of raw fear passed through the villains like a tsunami as the evil laugh test chamber exploded with a 999 frozen on the display. Hardened criminals wept for their sanity as the peals of a delighted dark chuckle silenced every voice and brought all but the most jaded of those in attendance to their knees. Someone screamed in agony and a woman, Madam Pain who hadn’t quite cleared the door, begged for a hero to save her, regressing to an early era when she’d been a damsel in distress jilted by her hero.
As the laugher faded, leaving whimpering and comatose villains strewn over the expo floor, a well-dressed man popped his head out of the audience room of the evil laugher rating booth, a woman’s head joining him a moment later. Looking over the gibbering mass of villains, the lawyer looked at his intern/secretary.
“Well, what do you know? Apparently, the devil really is all about paperwork. Make note of that, Ayna.”
“Yes, Mr. Roberts! They say he is in the details too, sir!”
“Indeed, they do. Perhaps he has time to give of us some pointers before the simpletons recover.”
With that the man began picking his way toward Diablo, unconcerned with the poor ignorant fools under his feet. They would never know true evil.