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Thursday, 18 October 2012

To Whom It May Concern: A Short Story

Hello hello!
Well, because I love you and because I promised, here is your story for getting me to the 150 likes point on the fanpage. No cartoons today, I'll let you get to it. Enjoy the silliness, and start thinking about what YOU want to see on the blog. As I'm growing, I want to hear from you! Put your comments and questions below, and you can bet I'll answer back.
Well, without further ado--here it is, a story based on my day job--which I love--and the little-known administrative wing of supervillain organizations. Enjoy.

To Whom It May Concern

Being the administrative assistant for an enormous evil supervillain organization is less fun than it sounds.
Sure, I’m a secretary for D.O.O.M, Inc, but working for them isn’t a guarantee of glamour. The strangeness of most things and the novelty wore off a long time ago. Still, as long as I’m writing my official defection letter with this job application, I might as explain why, and give you an idea of what I do around here.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. It isn’t for the faint of heart—if one is afraid of breaking a nail, working for supervillains is hardly an ideal career choice. That’s why I get the manicurists to give me titanium tips. I digress.
Why do I want to join the other side, you’re wondering, when I’ve spent so long interacting with you already? After all, I can guarantee that whether you’re an admin staff member like myself or a manager, you have probably heard my voice on the phone, requesting insurance information. I’m one of the front desk people, and you barely know my name, but you know me extremely well nonetheless. It’s the reason I’m not wording this as formally as usual for a cover letter. We’re on the same side, in a sense. I can’t ask you to think of me as ‘one of the good guys’ yet, I know that has to be earned, but maybe if you understand more about my job, you’ll see my reasons for defecting.
I have to admit that there are certain perks that never quite lose their charm. Calling down a batch of henchmen to the lower lobby to deal with the heroes who drop by does become routine. Watching an intrepid yet hapless captive romantic partner being slowly lowered into a lava pit full of fire sharks, however, always improves my day.
Then there are the benefits packages—perhaps the riskiest part of leaving this job will be abandoning my benefits. Full health and dental, complete accident coverage including vaporization, irreparable frostbite, evil clones, and alien abduction or enslavement in addition to the routine ‘dismemberment or death’ inclusions is a pretty sweet deal. The fact that they cover 50% of my salon visits and include a gym pass with ten personal training sessions a year—evil has to look good—is more icing on the cake.
So, all in all, it’s a decent package. Or, it was.
I should preface further exposition by mentioning my most unique assets. There aren’t many women who can calm a pack of ravening rat-wolves with a single look, and the titantium-reinforced skeleton and unique cybernetic enhancements mean that I’m technically a bit more than human myself. The interfaced network on my systems makes Google’s look like an infantile joke, even if it does mean that I’m technically mostly AI. It’s not a procedure you can request from standard health care coverage, and it was done for free here. You wouldn’t believe how useful an in-brain scheduler is for updating morning torture sessions and ensuring that minions are cloned on time.

Admittedly, there are downsides. I’ve been here for a year and a half, and that’s considered formidable. An uncomfortable number of my predecessors and coworkers have been eaten by unspeakable tentacled horrors—not just on dates. And, of course, we’re often in the line of fire when hero teams hit the building. Force-fields around one’s desk are only so effective, hence my upgrades.
Unfortunately, being partly computerized—bionic, if you prefer, though it’s more than that—hasn’t given me the godlike patience true computers and AIs have. You can only page the lab about a hyena-lizard-chicken escape so many times before the pall of cleaning up all that dung afterwards kills any excitement. Summoning the cleaners, forwarding our insurance bills to accounts payable every time The Strong Arm breaks the door down dramatically…it has become tiring.
Then, too, there’s the public vs. private image discrepancies with the villains. When El Destruyado, Hell’s Own Luchador, charges into the fray against La Esperanza and they smash the downtown core again, he seems terrifying. Thunder, lightning, and wrestling moves that would incapacitate anyone in the human leagues in a single blow are not to be trifled with. But when the same man comes into the office with a double-chocolate biscotti crammed into the lower half of his mask, latte in one hand and ePhone in the other, it’s a different story. When Dr. May Hem has once again unleashed the wrath of science on New New York or Toronto, she’s a sight to be seen. The way she awkwardly flirts with Venus Fly Trap around the water cooler, though, shows the body language of a different woman. And don’t get me started on The Merciless Blob’s Friday snack binges, or the time I caught The Frostinator crying deeply into the receiver as an awkward sex trade worker comforted him on speakerphone.
People—perhaps even some heroes—tend to forget that under the masks, the villains lucky enough to be full-timers are still people. They still have uncomfortable holiday parties where The Newt drinks too much. They still have board meetings to discuss strategies for the next quarter. Some of them still get very lonely.
I do wonder about my status among the supervillains I interface with. You can only bring so many lattes to the lab and tolerate the way they forget your name each time for so long. (Granted, these are workaholic scientists, and one needs to cut them a certain amount of slack for that.) Perhaps it’s the awkward sense of sympathy I feel for some of them, or the frustration of working around the time constraints of evil schemes, but in spite of my aggravation, I feel some guilt about this career move.
I’m worried that knowing too much puts my life in some danger, of course, but in a perfunctory way. We’re not quite family, but I’m more than a mere peon, or so I’d like to think. Obviously, I’m keeping my options open.

Incidentally, I still haven’t mentioned another of my primary qualifications for this position, namely, the time I’ve spent dealing with heroes. They tend to be very polite when they’re not destroying the furniture dramatically, though once in a while things get more interesting.
“I’d be happy to direct you to him, sir, but Dr. Impervious is out and you’ll have to make an appointment.”
He looked at me with the befuddlement only an entitled, unconsciously privileged hero can muster. “IT’S A CHALLENGE TO FIGHT TO THE DEATH!”
“And you’ll need to book an appointment. You can use the direct line on the platinum phone in the lobby.” I gestured at the glossy , old-fashioned phone on its marble plinth.
“Actually, sir, you’ve reached the Canadian branch. I’d be happy to assist you with a Vancouver-related incident, but I can’t help with San Francisco. You’ll have to try the D.O.O.M. Inc, office on location in San Francisco. If you have a concern for Canadian operations, however, you’re welcome to wait. I’d be happy to get an evil representative to assist you.”
The look of stupefaction on his face was magnificent, but it was quickly replaced by his default emotion, righteous meathead anger. “HE CAUSED THE QUAKE! HE MUST PAY!”
I used my intercranial wireless to access both the government and civilian seismic databases to search for info on the most recent earthquake. It takes very little digging, and .5 of a nanosecond later, I had my answer. I put on the seriously-annoyed face, the one that makes extraterrestrial diplomats pause. “It was a natural earthquake, sir, and I’m afraid that if you continue with that tone, I’ll be calling disposable security goons to see you out.” I slapped a sticky note with Dr. Impervious’ extension on the desk for him.
With a furious glare and an emasculated curse—heroes don’t really swear—he went over to the phone, dialed the number I’d given him, and scowled at me.
“Please wait patiently, sir. An evil representative will be with you shortly. Otherwise, I’ll be happy to get you a complementary beverage.”
He glowered at me and reluctantly accepted a triple-shot skinny moccachino with lizard milk. They almost always take the coffee and wait, in the end.
This isn’t to say that all heroes are, in fact, assholes. Plenty will just arrive, politely issue their thundering challenges, fight through the goons, and go on their way. I’ve always liked the few corporate heroes that are emerging—the ones who show up in Italian suits to broker peace negotiations have a sense of style, of sophistication, that you don’t find with the old-school meatheads. Sometimes we still send goons after them for fun, but it’s pleasant to see the opposing side meeting us on our level.

I should return to descriptions of my qualifying features. I will also be a valuable addition to your team due to my experience with difficult situations and triaging calls. For instance:
“Good afternoon, D.O.O.M. Inc, how can we destroy you?”
“Yes, I’d like to donate to the orphans of evil villains—“
“That would be our evil fundraising wing. One moment and I’ll put you through.” Click click. “Good afternoon, D.O.O.M. Inc, how can we destroy you?”
“You’ll never win, D.O.O.M. Inc! Good will triumph! You may have destroyed my Bear Cave—“
“Can I interrupt you briefly for your superhero alias or false identity, sir? It will help me direct your call.”
“I am The Grizzly, and—“
“Ah, thank you, Mr. Grizzly. I’ll be happy to direct you to our damage claims department regarding your Bear Cave. Please ensure you have your claim number and insurance information ready.”
“I don’t want your money! I want justice! Your clearcutting—“
“Actually, sir, if I may interrupt, D.O.O.M. Inc is committed to sustainable evil. We have very strict low impact environmental policies. You may be looking for DEATH Cor.  I understand that the Fire and Inflammable Villain Associates Guild also has a branch dealing with forest destruction.”
“That’s not good enough! I demand compensation for the lives of innocents you’ve claimed! This is far more than a matter of destroying my Bear Cave!”
His stage growl, reminiscent of a tracheal-tube-using Bob Dylan, gives way to his real voice, the reedy drone only old men can muster.  
“Just one moment please, and I’ll be happy to connect you with the complaint department.”
Of course, at the end of that call, we had a mauve alert—class C hero invasion—and the acid sprinklers went off unexpectedly. Just then, the Gibbonator burst through the wall, screaming in agony as his new rabid gorilla-shark hybrid apprentice tore its master’s intestines out. Even before the implants and fractal programming that supplements my consciousness, I’ve always had the ability to keep a cool head and a smile under pressure.

Now, due to your equal opportunity employment initiatives, I suspect I have a better chance than most for a position at WorldSavers United. Nonetheless, I regret to say that I am still concerned about one aspect of my future career with you based on past experiences with D.O.O.M. Inc. At D.O.O.M. Inc, I knew I’d never be a supervillain proper; staff structures tend to be very rigid and hierarchical, for all that our communication protocols are the most progressive in evil industries.
I’ve been hoping to make more physical use of my implants and accessories in a future career. I’d like WorldSavers United to be that career-fulfilling directional change.
Sadly, you can’t be a cyborg half-composed of evil hyperquantum computing parts without picking up a knack for analysis. I know that any applications from candidates with evil corporations on their resumes have a rejection rate of 87.965%, rounding down a bit. Therefore, I took the precaution of stating my case in a more familiar style, for greater warmth and appeal. I needed to ensure that the letter would be distracting and lengthy enough that you’d fail to notice the letter bomb nanobots that have already invaded your office.
I admit this was my idea—what better way to hit heroes where it hurts than to disorganize them hopelessly? A fake defection letter…it’s perfect. With no one to forward your calls and log evil challenges and appointment requests, you’ll be helpless.
By now, of course, your seconds away from destruction in a fireball full of deadly neurotoxic smoke, but I’ll dispense a bit of useful advice before I close.
Never trust an evil admin applicant, but don’t trust admin in general. Perhaps you will disagree, Cheryl on the third floor, but I suspect you and I have more in common than you’ve been led to believe. You see, I know you forwarded this letter to your superiors, and that they sent it to the heroes before you’d even skim-read the third paragraph.
And so it is to you, La Esperanza, The Grizzly, and (oh, I hope) The Strong Arm, that I address my final message. Wherever you work next, whether I destroy WorldSavers United or merely cripple it temporarily, keep something in mind. As you replace your staff at this or the next organization, remember—no matter which side we’re nominally on, all secretaries are evil.
As well, I hope you’ll consider my application, and that you’ll call me on the cell number attached to arrange an interview time.


Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on Twitter, Facebook, and on Tumblr. Don't forget to check back for short stories, more politics, analysis, scraps of science, and even some reviews. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out!

1 comment:

  1. Love it! You have a beautiful writing style, Michelle. Guess that comes from being an evil receptionist for so long. Best of luck with the applications and letter bombs!


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