Fun fact: Carl the Mercenary in this story is the first fictional character I ever came up with. He was my character in these Lego RPG games I played with my friends when I was 10. Anyways, the prompt was “Central power.”
“Hey, dude, can you not smoke that around me?” Grondar the Wretched said after waiting two long minutes of cigarette smoke wafting pass his big dumb face.
“Why?” Carl said, trying to play these unfortunate circumstances off with a shrug; he had been waiting for Grondar to confront him about this the whole time.
“You’re going to give me lung cancer man!” Grondar, a Dragon-Man with gorilla arms and an ox face, said briskly.
“But…it’s evil,” Carl proposed excitedly, bouncing up and down like a baby that just saw something real goofy.
“Hm…interesting proposal, we are evil. But I would argue that there is a time and place for evil, and while I am waiting here to meet the HR Director at our Evil Mercenary Club, I feel that this is not the time.”
“Don’t be lame, man,” Carl groaned, reaching up to scratch his cheek, his clawed hand sliding through the swirling black energy that surrounded his head, a black magic that left him featureless.
“Just get rid of the cigarette, man,” Grondar groaned, throwing a magazine in front of his face, thus ending the argument.
“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” Carl sighed as he pinched his cigarette, putting it out. Sadly, he flicked it into the trashcan five feet to his left, and went back to slouching in the waiting room, his demon wings folded neatly behind him.
“So, uh…” Carl started, drumming his talons against the armrests. “Kill anyone interesting lately?”
“Fuck off, dude,” Grondar the Wretched grunted. Apparently he was a little insecure about his success as a mercenary.
“I hear ya,” Carl nodded, turning towards the gum chewing Receptionist. “Hey, is Ms. Morte ready for me yet?! I’ve been here for like—I dunno, eight minutes!”
“Eight minutes?” Grondar asked, tilting his head to the side curiously.
“What?” Carl shrugged.
“That’s just so specific,” Grondar chuckled, scratching his chinny-chin-chin. He raised his voice, pushing himself up in the chair. “Get a load of this guy, huh!?”
All the other mercenaries in the room shook their heads at Carl. Carl’s resulting blush was so bright that it shone through the black magic that continuously swirled around his head. He pointed at the Receptionist. “Well?!”
“Your appointment started three minutes ago,” the Receptionist tutted, shaking her head as she polished the Ancient Ax of Kartoom.
“Three minutes ago!?” Carl jumped out of his seat, “Why didn’t you tell me?!”
The Receptionist pointed to a sign next to her that read, “Be warned: I don’t actually do anything.”
Carl froze, his teeth grinding, fishing for an insult but ultimately coming up with nothing. She had covered all of her bases; and he couldn’t stay mad at that. Snapping and pointing at her, Carl pushed the door open and ran through the hallway, skidding to a halt at the door. He knocked on it in a panic.
“It’s open,” a cold voice said on the other side.
Carl pushed the door open gently, peaking inside to see his boss, Bella Morte, sitting at a desk made out of charred skulls.
She was studiously filling out paperwork, her red eyes flickering about as she plowed through the piles of evil forms. Her pen rapidly signed form after form, the papers levitating into a box besides her after being filled out.
The sheer stack of paperwork dwarfed the small girl. It was as if a “Bring Your Kid to Work Day!” had gone wrong. And like any other HR Director, Bella had the lovely demeanor of a glacier.
“So, uh, what’s the deal with that Receptionist, huh?” Carl asked as an ice breaker as he crossed over to the seat in front of her desk.
Bella briefly looked over her reading glasses to stare draggers into Carl. Sighing, she brushed her long white hair behind her ear, sitting up. “Saves us money. You had an HR related issue?”
Carl nodded, his leg bouncing up and down nervously. He always felt uncomfortable about Bella. She had lorded over him when he was just a dumb lackey working at the ice cream shop; she had been a very anal shift supervisor at the time. One day, while Carl was eating some Jimmies by the scoopful, he had felt a knife slide up his back, poking against his neck.
“Do you want to join the Evil Mercenary Group I work at?” she whispered.
“Do I?!” he cried out.
Carl had been in the biz for thirty six years and he hadn’t even come close to making the jump to corporate. God, how good it must be to live a life of not murdering people and instead murdering people’s spirits as an HR Director.
“I’m evil, right?” Carl asked, his lips quivering.
Bella looked at him very seriously, leaning back in her chair, eying him like she would a lab specimen “Are you uncomfortable with your placement?”
“Yeah, a little,” Carl admitted, “I’ve been killing lots of no brainers. Like white collar criminals and internet trolls. But like, I never get thrown anything spicy, y’know?”
“And?” Bella asked with crossed arms.
“Well, I’m just killin’—I want to be challenged you know. Like, make me kill a demon child or something.”
Bella laughed. “You want to be…” Throwing up some air quotes, she continued. “Evil?”
“Well, I mean, I am evil,” Carl leaned forward, propping an elbow on her desk. He looked down shyly from her stare but nonetheless persisted, but in a mumble. “But I’m being treated like some bonehead who’s not going to ice someone when it has to be done.”
“Carl,” Bella interrupted. “Just because you have evil energy swirling around your head doesn’t mean you’re the baddest of the bad.”
“Bella please,” Carl cried, grabbing onto her hands. “Tell me what I have to do.”
Carl plodded back into the waiting room, staring at his feet the whole way, arms slack at his side. He turned over to see Grondar the Wretched still reading his magazine. Carl reached into the trashcan where he had previously tossed the cigarette. Lighting it, he stepped in front of Grondar, nearly on top of the dragon-ox-gorilla beast.
“Hey, man, sorry for being so rude earlier—“ Grondar started, looking up at Carl. His brow furrowed as he came upon the cigarette. “What are you doing?”
Silently, Carl took a long drag from the cigarette.
“Don’t do this, man,” Grondar panicked, his blazer becoming stained with sweat.
Carl continued to say nothing, his evil energy fortunately hiding the tears pouring from his eyes, and let the smoke drift into Grondar’s face. Grondar yelped and tried hiding his face with his hands, but it was no use; gases stops for no form of matter that doesn’t create a 100% blockade.
Carl dropped the cigarette to the carpet and stepped on it. He let out a deep sigh then put a hand on Grondar’s shoulder. “Your odds of getting lung cancer just went up a solid point o’ five percent.”
Grondar continued to weep only. Gradually, all of the mercenaries turned their heads to the commotion. The silence in the room was so thick that it almost felt like they were floating in it.
“You son of a bitch!” a Lizard-Man known as Fanhoop shouted, getting up from his chair to pull out a knife. But just as his hand went to the hilt, he felt two tired hands wrapped warmly around his. Fanhoop’s grandmother had insisted on hanging out with him that very day.
“Don’t you do anything, Fanhoop,” Fanhooper’s grandmother said in a firm voice, “That son of a bitch is going to live a long, unhappy life.”
Carl nodded meekly, and headed back into the hallway, slouching. Sliding back into the office chair before Bella, he muttered like a kid that had finally done his chores, “It’s done. I’m evil now.”
Bella allowed herself the faintest sliver of a smile. “So how do you feel about hiding behind doors and tripping people?”