My Short Stories and Other Tidbits

These are exactly what they sound like. Random musings from the mind of moi. Please enjoy or not at your own leisure, and contact me about them if you like.

Read on!

Smile, Smile, and Be a Villain

“Did mummy witness something that’ll get you in trouble?”

Hamish glared out the window of the train, resenting the way the darkened landscape blurred until it was simply a grayish smudge. The blur wasn’t just from the speed of the locomotive. “Octavia Larson, you are not a kind person.” He said, his voice hitching. He continued to stare fixedly in the opposite direction of the woman seated on the bench before him, her black stocking-ed knees just millimeters away from brushing his black tweed-covered ones. Even so he caught glimmers of her reflection in the mirror-like glass- a petite, beguiling flash of scarlet and golden blonde hair, the edge of a wide brimmed, velvet hat.

“On the contrary, Hamish, darling, I am a very kind person.” Octavia’s low, soft voice did the exact opposite of what it sounded as if it should do, sending fresh waves of agitation throughout him. “It’s simply that I hold no sympathy for Villains.”

He sniffed, and felt a tear run down his jaw, dripping into his collar. “I am not a Villain.” he said oppositionally, knowing perfectly well there was no disputing the fact that he most certainly was.

Octavia dangled a handkerchief deliberatly in front of his face, and he was forced to look at her. Her ruby-painted lips were pursed disapprovingly, her sparkling blue eyes narrowed. “Take this.”

Hamish took it.

“Now listen to me, Hamish.”

Against his will, Hamish listened.

“You, my darling, are most certainly a Villain. Why, just the other day Melchior was informing me of that silly little brouhaha that you… er… interrupted with a bomb made from the pocket watch Melchior bought you for your birthday-”

“It was a tiny bomb. Just an eensy, teensy, little thing, Octavia, I swear it,” Hamish groused.

Her eyes widened. “There is no such thing as a tiny bomb, Hamish Victorr! I will concede to you that no one was hurt, yes, but still! And then, when you stole that woman’s terrier to do whatever ghastly things that you mad scientists do to animals these days-”

“It was going to die anyway, Octavia, and the death wasn’t painful. Why, I would kill myself that way! Completely painless…”

“And the jewel heist.” And here, Octavia Larson, the fiance` of Melchior Victorr- SuperHero- and soon to be sister-in-law to Hamish Victorr- Villain of small-to-nonexistent levels of talent- dropped her very fine looking face into her velvetine-gloved hands with a little moan. “Oh, Hamish darling, why did you steal the jewels?”

Hamish straightened in his seat, though the tears pricked once more with what felt like burning pokers at the back of his eyelids. “If you must know,” he began haughtily, “they were meant to be a wedding gift. For you. But I suppose it’s a good thing that the shopkeeper sleeps so near to his shop, because clearly you wouldn’t have appreciated them anyway!” And he huffed, and turned again to the window, cursing when the view was even blurrier than before.

There was a small, almost sheepish silence, and a rustle of movement in the direction of Octavia Larson. He watched her in the reflection without her knowing that he was watching her; almost without him knowing, either. It was practically an impossible feat to be in the same room as that woman and not have one’s eyes immediately drawn towards her- even for Villains. She was, likewise, watching him, and looking ever so slightly taken aback. Hamish found himself ever so slightly satisfied.

“You stole for me?” She said in the smallest voice that he’d ever heard come from her throat.

“Well, Octavia, there isn’t much money in Villainous deeds, is there?” He said, making sure it was quite clear that he was still offended.

“No one has ever stolen for me before.”

“And I suspect no one ever will again.”

The train flew over a few miles more of dark, indistinct landscape. Rain pelted the windows, and it was now completely impossible to see out of any of them. Unless one could see through things, like walls, and people, and trains. But, thought Hamish wistfully, it would take a true SuperVillain to develop something that powerful. Not some washed out, failure of a man who couldn’t even steal his brother’s betrothed a string of diamonds from a jewelry shop on High Street. Who couldn’t even-

“Why were you crying, Hamish darling?”

He glanced at her. “Excuse me?” He asked, even though he’d heard her perfectly well. It was just that it always sort of threw him when she used such endearments on anyone other than Melchior. Specifically when she used them on himself.

She tilted her head, and the brim of her gargantuan, black-velvet hat with the swooping edges and the scarlet roses nestled at the crown cast half of her keen face into shadow. “Earlier. You were crying just like a little infant, all red, scrunchy face, and those big, dark, brown eyes just swimming in tears. Why?”

Over the course of half a second, Hamish Victorr thought several things. One; that if he told her, it was inevitable that she would never let him live it down, and he would be forced to hear about it for the rest of his days. Two; that not only would he be forced to hear about it but, knowing Octavia Larson as he did, she would probably write songs and poetry and plays about it and strong-arm him into acting as her audience. And, three; that he wasn’t actually the one marrying her. Melchior was. And so those dangers were unlikely ever to be faced. Perhaps at family gatherings. But he would never have to wake up, and have the first words he heard be Octavia retelling his failure to their passel of children, or the last sight he see before falling asleep some fresco of his mistake painted on the ceiling above their bed…

“I was taking a walk,” he blurted. She raised her expressive eyebrows at the volume with which he spoke, and he lowered his voice, his sallow, Villain-like cheeks heating. “I was taking a walk. And it was so foggy outside, and there was a little girl just dawdling under the lamp post a few feet of me… it was dark, you know, and so lamps were quite needed at this time of the evening… she was just standing there. And I thought, ‘Villain Hamish Victorr, it is high time you learned to branch out. What are watch bombs, what is experimenting on innocent animals, what is vandalism, compared to the kidnapping of a real live child!’”

“Oh, Hamish…”

“…so I sneaked up behind her on the tips of my toes- I was wearing my house slippers, because they are stupendously silent, but of course you know that.”

“Of course.” She nodded.

“And I was barely ten inches away from her, the burlap sack that I keep in my coat pocket open and poised above her head, ready to pounce, when she whirled around and- and-” here he broke off, took a shuddering breath, wiped his leaky eyes with Octavia’s handkerchief, then resumed. “She whirled around and pummeled me! With that small little fist, right in the nose, and I was sure that she had broken it, but I suppose not. It hurt like anything, as you can imagine, and while I was taking the time to cry, away she ran! Just like that, disappearing into the fog like some little ghost… Heroes are extremely unfair, Octavia, do you not think?”

“Is this one of those times that you wish me to lie to preserve your delicate feelings?” She asked him with mocking sympathy, pouting her lower lip and batting her lashes hard enough that he felt the need to grasp his hat for the fear of it blowing away.

“I really don’t see what Melchior finds so very special about you,” Hamish sniffed.

“Oh, I imagine it’s my good looks.” She said flippantly.

Annoyed that he couldn’t disagree, he simply turned rather broodingly to the window as usual.

Heroes. It was widely assumed that Octavia Larson was one, but privately, he had to wonder just how true that assumption actually was.

It was quite simple, really. In the Kingdom, there were two sects of people. The Heroes, and the Villains. The Heroes were the good ones; the ones who traveled round spreading sunshine, and kisses, and candy, and puppy dogs, who helped old women cross the street, who planted flowers because they were nice to look at and not because they could be mixed into poisons. Everyone loved Heroes, and Heroes loved everyone, and that was how things were.

And then, there were the Villains. Evil, brooding, dark- they crashed weddings, laughed at funerals, blew things up, and dribbled drain cleaner on innocent people’s eggplant parmesan. A Villain’s greatest joy was the pain- or at least significant discomfort- of everyone surrounding them.

Within these two divisions of human kind there were different levels to work towards after one was assigned their title in primary school, based on the traits that one exhibited from a young age. For a Hero, the highest possible position to strive for was that of SuperHero. These were the beings about whom sonnets were written, the shining examples of Hero-dom that were paraded before the inhabitants of the Kingdom and made to feel like kings.

Melchior Victorr was a SuperHero. Anyone in his family would have been hard pressed to let that slip their minds.

For a Villain, the ultimate label was SuperVillain. These paragons of malicious intent, these people so wicked, so truly evil that plants within a ten-foot radius withered, were what every Villain dreamed of becoming. Heroes and SuperHeroes alike dreaded that inevitable day when they would have to face a SuperVillain, for it was more than probable that they would come out with- at the very least- some sort of mental or physical maiming.

Hamish was not a SuperVillain, nor did he ever expect to be, though of course that was the title that he desired. He was simply a Villain, and one of the mediocre persuasion, to boot. He dabbled in the fields of mad scientry, but found that his hair wouldn’t turn gray and frizzy for at least another fifteen years, and he had no knack for gasses and fluids and molecules and the like. In fact, he had no knack for much of anything, but the headmaster of his primary school had told him he was a Villain, so a Villain he would be.

“Well that took long enough,” Hamish grumbled as Octavia finally exited her sleeping car. The two of them had had to stay overnight on their ride to Mother Victorr’s home, and the train was rapidly pulling into the station. “I was going to leave you if you hadn’t come out just then, you know. I have no qualms about doing things like that.”

“Don’t boast so, darling, it isn’t at all attractive.” Octavia said over her shoulder as she swept past him down the aisle. This morning she was swathed in a resplendent red silk dress that fit her snugly and cut off just above the knees, a black fur jacket, the same awe-inspiring piece of headgear as yesterday, red tights, and four inch, knee high, black patent leather boots. Her blonde hair was piled elegantly up under the hat, and as they hustled, she pulled a pair of black silk, elbow length gloves onto her hands. Hamish found himself thinking that it was a rather bold, rather scary color scheme for a Hero who had recently become engaged to a SuperHero, but his thoughts were quickly interrupted when someone dumped both his and her luggage into his arms and they were ushered out onto the platform.

“Now, Melchior should be around here somewhere…” Octavia said, bringing one hand up to shield her eyes from the steam that was erupting from the train at her back as she scanned the crowd. “Ah!” She pointed- unnecessarily, as Melchior Victorr stood a full head and shoulders above everyone else in the quagmire of people, Heroes and Villains alike- and Hamish nodded, following her somewhat reluctantly down the set of rickety steel stairs and towards his elder brother. He was still feeling so very lachrymose about the failed child-napping incident- not to mention the fact that he was being forced to attend Christmas at his childhood home with the brother that was everything he was not, a family that doted on said brother, and the alluringly enigmatic puzzle of a young woman that was brother dear’s fiance- that he declined even to trip a rather stuffy old fellow who was trotting along the opposite way as he and Octavia made their way towards the SuperHero.

“Richard, hullo, my sweet!” Octavia sang as soon as they came upon him, stretching up on the tips of her patent leather toes and sliding her arms about his neck as she kissed him lightly on the cheek. Hamish looked away, feeling suddenly sick.

“Good day, my squishy!” Melchior crowed.

“My squishy?” Hamish exploded. His squishy? They were both looking at the same woman, were they not?

Melchior turned his head slightly away from Octavia’s eager kisses to level a glare at his younger brother.

Even angry- well, annoyed. SuperHeroes never got angry- Melchior was… Well. Hamish would have chosen to hurl himself off of a bridge rather than admit this fact, but the truth was, Melchior Victorr was physically the most beautiful human being that Hamish had ever seen. He was tall without being gangly, thin without being reedy, had eyes and hair almost like a woman’s, and dressed like the king.

Whereas Hamish was simply gangly, reedy, and generally pathetic.

“Oh, come now, darling,” Octavia crooned, finally detaching herself from brother dear only to grasp his arm and tuck it firmly up against her side. She’d lean her head against him if she didn’t have that fabulous hat on, Hamish thought with a touch of bitterness. “Stop squabbling and say hello.” She smiled in a way that reminded Hamish of a cat. Hamish didn’t like cats.

Hamish growled a little in his throat, and very sarcastically returned Melchior’s shallow bow. Melchior straightened and let his gaze sweep from Hamish’s scuffed shoes, up his moth-eaten cape, to finally come to rest at the tip top of his threadbare fedora. “So nice to see you, little brother.” He hesitated a moment, tapping his chin with feigned reluctance. “Perhaps not see you. You don’t look very well, you know. But is nice to… er… be in your presence?”

“Oh, you as well, dear,” Hamish responded, adopting Octavia’s habit of demeaning pet names. He thought he saw her smother a grin. “Have you been ill?”

Octavia sighed. “And that’s the best we can hope for from the Victorr boys. At least I can say that I tried.”

The sound of forks scraping porcelain echoed throughout the tiny kitchen.

“So what do you do for a living, Miss Larson?” Mother Victorr asked just before the lack of conversation almost drove Hamish to drastic measures. Drastic as in throwing the pan of biscuits at Melchior’s head. Or something.

“Please, call me Octavia,” she answered, looking just as relieved to be engaged in talk as Hamish was to hear it. “And I work in a hat shop. Hettie’s Fine Headgear. It’s just below Hamish’s flat, and so that’s why I traveled here with him instead of Melchior.” She and Melchior made eyes at each-other over the roast beef, and Mother Victorr smiled dotingly as Hamish gagged. “I met Melchior when- when he came to visit his brother one evening, and stopped by the shop on his way up. I was already acquainted with Hamish.”

Hamish snorted into his tea. Came to visit, indeed. Try, stopped by to berate me endlessly for defacing a library book, Octavia darling, thought he. Catching Octavia’s warning gaze from where she sat at his right elbow, he silenced himself.

“And you are a Hero, of course, Octavia.” Mother Victorr said in her blunt, rather rude way.

For the second time that day, Hamish saw Octavia speechless. She glanced his way again, though he wasn’t sure why. “I wasn’t under the opinion that those things mattered to you, Mrs. Victorr.” She said with a little less delightfulness than had been in her tone earlier.

Suddenly, it seemed as if the temperature of the room dropped by at least ten degrees.

Mother Victorr raised her eyebrows. “My Melchior is a SuperHero, Miss Larson, if you were not aware.”

“Of that I am more than aware.”

“As such, he will need a wife who upholds the same moral values as he-”

“I assure you, Mrs. Victorr, that my moral values are more than healthy.”

“And I assure you that no one in the world is as moral- or as valuable- as my Melchior.”

The Victorr boys had been following this exchange closely, heads whipping back and forth as if they were at a tennis match but when this remark was made, everyone at the table froze.

Silence prevailed.

Octavia’s eyes were smouldering as she pinned the older woman with that glare which was so familiar to Hamish. “I wonder,” she murmured in that smoky, terrifying voice of hers, “if you know that you have two sons?” And then she unfolded her legs from under her chair, pushed away from the table, and stalked haughtily from the room.

“Well,” Mother Victorr breathed. Melchior half rose from his chair, seemed to think better of it, and sat once more, turning his head and shooting daggers at Hamish with his baby blues. Ah, so now it was his fault. Typical.

“Melchior. You have found yourself a most dissatisfactory woman.” Mother Victorr hissed, staring at the wall as if afraid what the force of her glare might do to a person if she looked at them.

“She’s normally not- that is to say…” Melchior blustered.

“I thought she was brilliant.” Hamish said, spooning a healthy quantity of roast beef into his mouth and chewing. Quickly he saw that that had been quite the wrong comment to make. “Shall I…” He gestured listlessly at the door with a fork. “Yes, I think I shall.” Said he in answer to his own question. He stood- with considerably less grace than his predecessor- and backed out of the room.

He found Octavia in the library. Not because of any impressive sixth sense, but because the house was dreadfully small and, Mother Victorr being a Hero, not terribly interesting. The library was by far the least dull place in the whole building.

“Would you like me to maim her for you?” Hamish asked, entering and coming to stand be his brother’s fiance` at the window. Snow was falling outside, having replaced the rain, but it was powdery and didn’t seem to be sticking. So much for a white Christmas.

He watched her watch the snow, feeling ridiculously proud of himself when she gave a faint grin. “You wouldn’t do that.” She said, glancing at him out of the corner of her eyes. “You wouldn’t have the guts.”

“You would be surprised by what I would do for you, Octavia Larson.” He commented, leaning a shoulder against the wall in order to afford himself a better view of her. The hat and gloves were off now, giving her a less intimidating air. Less. Not nonexistent. “I did break into a jewelry store for your wedding gift.”

Her smile grew, but then just as quickly shrank down into a frown. “Melchior would never maim his mother for me.” She murmured almost to herself, continuing to gaze out onto the white-dusted fields that surrounded Hamish’s childhood home.

“No. But Melchior is a SuperHero. It’s hardly a proper thing for a SuperHero to do.” Hamish reasoned, feeling guilty as he said it.

Finally, Octavia looked at him, and he rather wished she hadn’t. She looked sad- sadder than he had ever seen her look before- with only a touch of the anger that they had all been privy to at dinner. “I’m not,” she said in a small voice.

Hamish hesitated. Was she saying what he thought she was saying? “You’re- you’re not a SuperHero?”

“…No…”

“And also… you aren’t… you’re not…”

She dropped her head into her hands. “Oh, spit it out, Hamish dear,” she wailed.

He laughed, a little breathlessly, and rubbed his hands together. “You, Octavia darling…” and here his voice lowered as he leaned towards her. “Are a Villain.

“No, Hamish. I’m not a Villain, per se…” Octavia slid her hands up her face and through her styled hair, wrecking it in her angst, and then clasped them in front of her stomach, twisting them aggressively.

His knees buckled, and he sat heavily on the window seat. Slowly, she sat next to him.

“You are a SuperVillain.” He said flatly.

“Yeeeesss…” she croaked. Looking absolutely petrified.

And like a flash, Hamish was angry. “You’re a SuperVillain, yet you gave me the hardest time about a simple little watch bomb! A watch bomb, darling! Whereas you- what have you done, murdered the prime minister?”

“No I’ve never murdered anyone! And use your head, Hamish, if it had been the prime minister you would know. No, I stole Madam Smith’s two children for ransom, and had them in my possession for a few days. Never murder!”

“Oh!” Moaned Hamish tragically. “Kidnapping! And I suppose at dinner today you weren’t angry on my account at all; it was all because you were the one being slighted.” He said. It was surprising how hurt he was at this thought. It was nice to believe that just maybe she had… cared.

“No! Your mother was simply dreadful towards you, going on like Melchior was- was the only one who mattered at all, when really I don’t know how anyone can stand to be in the same room with him for more than a little while. He’s so very arrogant, and all he talks about is how wonderful he and his crime solving mates are; I can barely hold a conversation with him without wanting to throw something at his head- you know.”

Octavia continued to speak, clearly not realizing the impact that her words were having on her partner. He stared at her, growing more and more bemused as her speech lengthened.

“I try to seem as if I love him, I really do, and for the most part I would say that I succeed, wouldn’t you?” She asked, luckily for Hamish not waiting for an answer. He was so paralyzed with his feelings that his mouth wouldn’t have worked, anyway. “Maybe we’re both just a little too fawning- but it’s better than being cold and distant, isn’t it? And if we can keep it up until we die… oh, I don’t know.”

Octavia was crying. Octavia was crying. This had escalated quickly.

“A SuperVillain and a SuperHero… but you can’t tell him Hamish, surely you can see that.” She said desperately, turning towards him and grasping his hands where they lay in his lap. He jumped. “If he knew- he would never marry me then. He and that harpy of a mother, they would see me ended, I just know they would. Please, don’t tell, darling.”

Before he knew what he was doing Hamish was comforting her, and promising over and over that he wouldn’t tell, would never tell, would take her secret to the grave. He patted her on the head in an awkward but well-intended way as she angrily wiped at her tears. He knew that what he was promising was rash, was irresponsible, was completely unreasonable- but he was a Villain. And she was so sad…

“Octavia,” he asked presently, after the sun had set outside and the moon was casting a silvery glow over everything. “Why are you and Melchior marrying each-other?”

She sighed, sounding genuinely pained. “As I told you, dear. Melchior Victorr, SuperHero, wants me for my looks. The drop-dead-gorgeous, suffocatingly proper Hero wife at his side to look just good enough to compliment him, but never to overshadow. That is why Melchior wants me. As for the reason I want him…” She cut her eyes over to Hamish and shifted slightly in their seat. “You promise not to tell?”

He didn’t hesitate, though he knew that he should. “Yes.”

“When one is a Villain, as you know, darling, one has a constant, unquenchable thirst for crime.” She said, her voice taking on a preachy tone. “And when one is a SuperVillain, then that thirst is intensified by a million. I haven’t done anything worth anyone’s time since the kidnapping of those Smith children, and I absolutely ache for something else. Something big. If- when- I marry Melchior, everyone will believe what he tells them- that I am a Hero; and that way, I will have an alter ego to hide behind. One that is infinitely better than that of a hat shop assistant.

“Of course, I hadn’t planned on telling you, but… it just sort of came out, didn’t it? And I like you, darling, though you might not think it.” She laughed indulgently when he blushed, and squeezed his hand. He only then realized that he was still holding it, and didn’t let go. “You will be helpful, I think, if you cooperate, which I hope earnestly that you will, if for no other reason than you can get back at your awful family. We might make you into a SuperVillain yet!”

“And you think the only way to achieve these goals is to marry Melchior?” He asked slowly and carefully. He didn’t fancy making her feel as if he thought her stupid or inferior, but he fancied even less seeing her saddled to Melchior, especially if she harbored no feelings for him other than contempt.

“Certainly the most convenient available option.” She nodded, locking eyes with him. “I want to keep Octavia Larson, Hero, my most known persona so that it’ll be harder to track me as a SuperVillain, and that will be hard to do with no one to vouch for me. Of course, things would be much better if Melchior was a SuperVillain or a Villain because then we would be a team, and… and…” but here she trailed off, staring at him. “But if you have another idea…” she murmured, sounding as if she rather hoped he did.

“Well.” Hamish cleared his throat once, twice, three times. “Well. You could always- you could always…” his words died. Octavia was smiling at him in her cat-like way, but he was realizing that perhaps cats weren’t so bad as he had first thought them.

“Yes, darling?” She purred.

His voice came out a whisper. “You could always marry me.”

Her smile seemed to stretch out to the width of the Kingdom. “I can do it if you can.” She said. They sat staring at each-other for a series of seconds, before she laughed broadly and threw an arm about his waist, squeezing tightly. “Oh, I was hoping you’d say that!” She said in a muffled voice against his shoulder as he returned her embrace. “I like you ever so much better than I like that brother of yours- oh, and Hamish, darling?”

“Hm?” He asked, feeling happier than he had in a long while. She drew back and looked at him with wide, blue eyes.

“Will you help me break the news to Melchior?”

Hamish groaned.

Several months later.

“The diamonds are lovely, darling,” Octavia said, leaning over the back of Hamish’s armchair and kissing him soundly upon the cheek. “And that heist was ever so much better than the first time you tried to pull it off. I was truly inspired.”

He smiled up at her and kissed her back. “Thank you. I was rather proud of it myself.”

Octavia seated herself on a footstool next to him and leaned her head against his legs, playing with the aforementioned jewels that hung down low upon her collar bone. “So,” she began slyly. Hamish felt dread groaning in the pit of his stomach. “While you were away yesterday I was suddenly struck by the most wonderful burst of creativity.”

“How lovely for you?” He said cautiously.

“Yes, indeed it was. I was sitting there in my lair when I had such a jarring idea that I simply had to retrieve a pencil and paper and transcribe it for you. Would you like to hear what I came up with?”

“I suppose I should.”

“Right answer, darling. It goes something like this;” and she cleared her throat, hiding a grin as she retrieved a piece of paper from who-knows-where and began to read. “Hamish Victorr traversed the roads, his head full of thoughts of lizards and toads. He spotted a child inside the fog, and he sneaked up to her with the skill of a dog- you know, one of those fancy tracking dogs that the Heroes are using now-”

“I know, darling.”

“Out of a his pocket he produced a sack, when the child turned around and gave him a whack! He turned wracked with sobs back to his house, while the child escaped, quick as a mouse.” Octavia looked up at him, grinning her cat-like grin, and rested her chin on his knee. “Beautiful, was it not?”

Hamish couldn’t help it. He laughed. And as he patted her on the head he remarked aloud, “At least you didn’t paint it on the ceiling.”

“Out of a his pocket he produced a sack, when the child turned around and gave him a whack! He turned wracked with sobs back to his house, while the child escaped, quick as a mouse.” Octavia looked up at him, grinning her cat-like grin, and rested her chin on his knee. “Beautiful, was it not?”

Hamish couldn’t help it. He laughed. And as he patted her on the head he remarked aloud, “At least you didn’t paint it on the ceiling.”