You are sitting across from one of the most dangerous super villains in modern times. His arms and legs are chained to his seat, and his blindfold is made of lead. He has been given a strong dose of a medicine known to repress superpowers. If it wasn’t for the fact that you’d felt the drug’s affect firsthand, you would not consent to be in a room with this man.
“Tell me, Arnold, why you started killing people,” you say. Arnold remains silent. He struggles silently against the chains surrounding him, but they don’t budge. Arnold is a tiny, ugly man who has no hopes of breaking out of prison now that he has been caught. “Well? Was it something someone did? Did they push you over the edge? Make you mad? What was it, Arnold?”
“I will not respond to that name,” he replies. You nod.
“Very well, Asphyxi. Will you answer my question now?”
“Of course.” He grins. His teeth are yellow. Luckily, the blindfold means that you don’t have to hide your look of disgust. “My first kill wasn’t a who.”
“Come again?” you ask.
“It wasn’t a who, but rather… a what. You’re asking the question wrong.”
“Fine. What was your first kill?” you ask. It had not been your original question, but you’d take what Arnold was willing to share.
“My sister’s puppy,” he says. He is smiling, as if caught in fond memory. “She’d just gotten in as a present from our grandmother. Grandmother had never given me any gifts, so I’d tried stealing the puppy into my room one night. I got mad when he wouldn’t listen to any of my commands, when he so obeyed my sister, and all of a sudden he stopped breathing. It was the first time I’d used my powers.”
“And how old were you?”
“Six, I believe.”
“That’s an uncommonly young age for someone’s powers to manifest.”
“But then again, there’s nothing common about us, is there, Doctor?” Arnold is grinning again. You have the feeling that he can see right through his blindfold, though that would be impossible.
“How do you know who I am?” you ask calmly. Doctor had been your superhero name. You’d had a brief stint with the local superheroes– flying around on Arrow’s back and covering for Bolt when raiding evil lairs– but you’d quickly grown tired of using your powers in such a way. It wasn’t exactly evil, as you’d been helping the heroes, but it still left you feeling ill inside.
Your power is the ability to give or take away the madness within a person. Since you hadn’t been cut out for a superhero– nor a super villain, for that matter– you retired your mask and buckled down for eight years of schooling until you could call yourself a Psychologist. You immediately began work at a mental institution. Innumerable people had been cured under your care, and you were able to work anonymously.
That is, unless the local league of superheroes decided to call in a favor. As they had been the ones to pay for your schooling, you couldn’t possibly turn away their request.
“Oh, please. I’ve killed hundred, and yet I’m not in jail yet? They tie me up and have me interrogated first? Do you think I’m an idiot?”
“Interrogation is standard for new prisoners,” you say.
“I’m sure it is. This kind of interrogation isn’t, however. Except for Ooze, perhaps. She was one mean son-of-a-bitch.”
You look at Arnold. “Let us return to the topic at hand.”
“Of course. So would you like to talk about the first person I killed, then? Because the puppy wasn’t the only animal I’d done away with.”
“Yes. The first person, please,” you say, rubbing your temples. Arnold is a psychopath, no doubt about it.
“I don’t know her name, of course, because I just hired her off the street. May have called herself Ruby, or Scarlett, or something like that, ‘cause she had bright red hair.” He pauses. “We went behind a dumpster and she got down on her knees, but I choked her without even taking my pants down.” His grin is savage. “I remember the feeling of it. I took the air out of her lungs, bit by bit, until she couldn’t breath at all. She tried fighting me, but she didn’t have the strength. I teased her a bit, letting her breath just before she was ready to pass out, but that grew old after a while. The fun in killing is seeing the life leak out of them, don’t you agree?”
“I wouldn’t know. I’ve never killed before.” You glance at the guards in the corner of the room, the ones who’d been there silently the whole time. They look ready to beat the prisoner within an inch of his life. You know that they’d never been faced with a criminal such as Arnold. Their usual super villains had solid motives for killing. For him, it’s just because he’s a sick bastard.
“Oh, surely you have. I saw some of your tapes from your moonlighting days. (Nice spandex, by the way.) I watch the way you could just look at a person and scramble their brains. They’d be weeping and clawing at their eyes and talking to spirits in seconds. Didn’t it ever tempt you to turn the whole world mad?”
“The world is mad enough as it is,” you say. “I returned each of the villains I cursed back to their original state. I don’t enjoy watching people suffer.”
“What differences we have, Doctor,” Arnold says. “Watching people suffer is what I live for.”
“That’s enough.” The comment is directed at the guards who have taken a step closer to the madman. Arnold smiles up at you.
“What? Had enough? Am I too mad for you?”
“Don’t worry. I can still help you.” Your powers are greatest when making physical contact so you reach forward for Arnold’s shoulder. He jerks backwards violently.
“I don’t want your help,” he hisses, and then it seems as if all the air is suddenly gone.
“A-Arnold.” You struggle, grasping your throat and falling to your knees. The guards act the same way. The drug has either worn off or has no effect on the madman, for he is calmly releasing himself from his bonds while choking you to death. “Asph…yxi,” you say, once he ignores you.
“Yes, Doctor? What have you to say?” Arnold asks. His hands are freed– you struggle to think how this could be happening– and he takes off the blindfold and stairs down into your eyes. You are curled up on the floor, now, still gasping for air that has fled the room. “How pitiful you look. And old, too. I confess I expected something else. Those tapes are outdated.”
Stop this, you want to say, but you can’t get the words out. Your vision is growing fuzzy. You wonder what has happened to the people monitoring the room.
“Goodbye, Doctor. You think any jail can hold me? You’re wrong. All of you are so wrong.”
You vision turns completely black, and then there is nothing.
For the Friday Fiction link up from http://nikkiyoungwrites.com/