Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Return of the Dark Lady!

Following on from A Day with the Dark Lady, we return to Her Evilness' fortress for more doom-laced hi-jinx. But this time, it seems, it'll take more than an agent of dim-witted derring-do to improve her mood. . .

* * *

There are very few times in life when it is vital to read the terms and conditions of an employment contract. Of course, everyone knows it's recommended - maybe even important - but even if you didn't it wouldn't be the end of the world.

The minion was beginning to wonder if any of its co-workers were aware that this was not one of those jobs. Though, to be fair, it didn't remember reading anything about the possibility of being run over by a throne.

As the aforementioned throne slowly finished its manic rotation, the minion crept out of its hiding place to proffer a bandage to his unfortunate companion. There would be some magnificent bruises, he thought, and luckily the invalid seemed to already be regarding them as a badge of honour. After all, there were relatively few - even among the senior staff - who could tell stories about the hazards of allowing evil overlords to combine their passions for imposing furniture and spinny office chairs.

The overlord herself, however, was not longer paying attention. Propelling her wheeled behemoth to the window, she hopped onto the windowsill and peered out over her fortress walls to the miles of desolation beyond - exactly two-point-five miles, actually, as specified by requirements of the fortress' status as a World Heritage Site.

The two minions waited apprehensively for any word, and were rewarded with an "ugh".

"Ugh" was the reason that not a single minion missed one of their daily physical fitness sessions. "Ugh" was at the top of the list (in capital letters, underlined) of Words Synonymous With Impending Doom That Are Ninety-Nine Percent Likely To Be Lethal.

"Ugh" was what turned a field of hardened, armoured warriors into an empty space full of discarded weaponry and distant cries of "Mummy!"

"Ugh" meant that Her Fearsomeness had something to do, and she really, really, really didn't want to do it.

Days of "Ugh", as the terrible occasions were known, were rare enough to have once been considered mere legends. There were plenty percolating, such one which claimed that the wellington boot embedded in the doorway above the sixth-storey dining room had been left there by the castle's previous owner (who, in actual fact, was a pretty considerable legend in their own right). Another of its ilk stipulated that Her Evilness' real name was so long that they hadn't invented a piece of paper big enough to hold it - although, technically, this wasn't so much a legend as a mangled truth that nobody had the energy to disentangle.

The last Day of "Ugh" had taken place just over three years ago, when Her Evilness had been confronted with a book of Sudoku puzzles by a rival overlord. Nobody knew what became of the Sudoku book, but as everybody knew what had become of its sender, the matter had never been brought up again.

For that reason, not a single minion went anywhere near the Shadowlady's private apartments for the rest of the week. The Head Henchman made sure everything went on as usual, answering the inevitable awkward questions as best he could and leaving those he couldn't on bright purple Post-It notes stuck to the foreheads of the askers.

It was only when the Bane of Righteousness' favourite dragon went down with colic (and no one could find the medication) that they turned to the eventuality of having to disturb her. There were myriad ways they could have decided this, and some of the bigger minions certainly had some very entertaining ideas about how to choose a nominee. And yet, even the more brutal among them couldn't bring themselves to condemn one of their number to an unfair end - not in the least because it went against the Rules, and anyone who knew anything knew that breaking even the least of the Rules would envy the fate of the one they had condemned by doing so.

So, instead, they turned to the oldest, most illustrious, and, alarmingly, fairest system of decision they knew.

Two thousand six hundred and fifty two fists rapped at the base of the door, and two thousand six hundred and fifty one voices let out squeaks of relief as they ran away to find the deepest darkest hole in the universe, dig deeper, and wait for the screaming to stop.

The screaming, of course, was coming from the one who didn't run away fast enough.



  1. Wow! I love your Dark Lady stories. These are awesome, Charley. Sounds like she's a right proper graduate of the Academy of Ultimate Villainy! ;)

    1. Ehehe, passed with flying colours I hear! Though whether that is due to her actual work, or something more nefarious, I am not sure. The last time I asked her, I was violently defenestrated.

      Very glad you like the stories, though. I enjoy them a lot myself!

  2. Only two thousand six hundred fifty-one? The Dark Lady is in dire need of some new recruits.

    A couple suggestions. Some sentences are overly long, and I had to reread several paragraphs to get their gist. "Of course, everyone knows it's recommended, even important, to do so, but for most of those situations, even if you didn't, it wouldn't be the end of the world." It's like the International Comma Association decided to use your blog for their annual convention. It's tricky because there isn't a clear way to rephrase it, but as it is, it's clunky. All in all, you use a lot of long sentences-- try a really short one once in a while. I think you tried to do that in "Nobody knew what had become of the Sudoku book..." but unfortunately a period seems to have skipped away from its place between "sender" and "the matter". And by the way, the "Days of Ugh" paragraph is a single sentence, yet it's longer than most of the others.

    Then there's the story. I thought it was about a spinning throne. Then you go into the history of Ugh. (That would be an interesting name for a band.) The story is about the problem of how to disturb Her Evilness, and yet you begin with a revolving chair. That's assuming this was supposed to be a story in itself, as the other one was. If so, I'd suggest beginning the story with "Ugh" and going from there. You have no qualms about explaining heavy backstory within the narrative, so starting a little later shouldn't hurt it at all. You could even have the Ugh before the bruised minion picks himself up off the floor.

    But methinks you wrote this spontaneously and slapped post. No problem with that.

    But... only two thousand six hundred fifty-one?

    1. Thankees muchly for the input - all will be well considered and controlled in the next installment, I promise you. Admittedly I do use short sentences sometimes, but they have a nasty habit of reducing me to fragment lines, so I've rather trained myself unhelpfully to avoid them. I'll see about those monstrously long ones, though. Even I didn't miss them, but as you said, it was a spontaneous post with only a few cursory reviews. Ought to amend that in future.

      Yes, horrifically understaffed, I know. But perhaps that might be fuel for a later installment, now that I think of it.

    2. I'm glad you took it well. It was only today that I realized I had written a novel-length critique on a short story. Whoops. I loved this story, though not quite as much as the first.

    3. Don't worry - all critique is good critique, because it means I can get better :)

      Yeah, I can see why. I'm taking a bit of time with the conclusion just to make sure i don't make too much of a mess, though. Feeling professional today, I am!

  3. Ugh.

    Haha! Great story! I don't think I have read any others. Did you write some a while back? I'm with Liam. Only two thousand six hundred fifty-one? LOL!

    I felt kind of jumped into the "story", but I am assuming that is because I haven't read any others. Is this something you are just doing for fun or maybe thoughts for a book?

    1. There's only one - I'll link it now that I edit the post.

      I'm just doing it for fun, for now, but the idea might mutate later. It might make a fun kids' book, I suppose :P

  4. :) Poor Minion. I think he needs to speak with the local worker's union about getting a better job. Or the one who got smashed with a wheely-throne. I'm hoping he gets some form of worker's compensation.

    Can't wait for part 2!

    1. Haha, indeed. He enjoys his job really, though. The perks outweight the hazards ;)

    2. Absolutely. Don't you get capes and funky boots with the job? That's worth any amount of inconvenience (like death) isn't it?

    3. Read the last post - ensured awesomeness AND practicality in their uniform! But yeah . . . always risk of death or serious injury, hehehe.

  5. I love the idea of a wheely throne. Will you make me one? :P

    There were a few clunky sentences, but the actual story was great. Would you like to write a guest post for the GSA (Good-Sinful Alliance) someday? You'd be great, I'm sure. You have the right weird humor...

    1. I'd love to! Yes, some of the sentences are bit borky, but given the fact that I didn't really edit it a lot I expect that. Me and my comma addiction!