Stories must be told. Welcome to Chapter 1, Part 1 of The Overlord. Happy Thursday.
I should have paid closer attention in my Beginner Kidnapping class when I was finishing my last courses in Criminal Community College, but I had other, more important things on my mind that semester.
Like cupcakes. I’m a fool for a good cupcake. I know, I know. I sat through Social Media for the Modern Usurper courses, and I am familiar with the memes. Evil is not supposed to admit weaknesses. But what can I say? I like cupcakes, and I want the world to know that. Sure I have to deal with the occasional poisoned cupcake, but I’m prepared for that.
I don’t know if you are aware, but some of the best chefs in the world are actually villains. They always have some cute little story about their mama’s apron strings and fond memories of delectable goodness and some other nonsense like that. It’s a partial truth. When you sit down with them over a burger and a beer, they all have another common story to tell. A poisoning. An incompetent lackey. A really tasty morsel that weaseled its way through defenses.
Minions. Lackeys. Sidearmor. Kitchen Sink. We call them different things. I learned in my Minion Awareness Intermediate Class that you always give the newer minions the job of taste testing. Nothing weeds out the weak like cupcake tasting. Mind you, if the recruit was especially promising, I tended to stick closer by with my antidotes. On the other hand, if the recruit was particularly annoying, I had a tendency to misplace things until too late. Or close to too late.
These days I use my Food Scanner 3,000 to check all of my food, curtesy of a loud mouth chef who just so happened to be a buddy in my academy days. We all suffered through his prototypes, and he remembers those puking sessions to this day and sends us free replacements. I don’t know about the others, but I make sure I send him gifts back, and I make sure that the gifts eventually cost more than the scanner. It’s not that I feel like I have to give him gifts. He would give me the scanner anyway. And it’s not a show of comparison, either. I appreciate his Food Scanner, and the other inventions he’s come up with.
I don’t like having minions, and I’m happy that I can replace them these days. Minions are a trend at worst. At best, they are a preference. They are popular now with the young ones, curtesy of them growing up with those movies that we tell them to forget in the earliest class of Villain Cultural Detox. Did I watch them? There’s nobody alive who can confirm that. And I certainly know how to dispose of a costume.
Pardon. All that cupcake talking reminded me that I had one last giant chocolate cupcake stashed in the cookie tin in the false shelf underneath the health food. I don’t share.
Why did cupcakes distract me that semester? Because those were the days after cupcakes had been all the rage. They had been replaced by donuts at that point, and thus, I was safe to try them without disturbing my rules of personal conduct. My first cupcake was a fresh, strawberry cupcake from the little blonde girl with a ponytail who worked the dessert section that year at the school cafeteria.
I couldn’t get enough of those cupcakes. It got to the point that the ponytail girl gave me odd looks when I came by, and passed me a note that I never read because I spilled coffee on it as I tried to save my cupcake from the hot ruin of my clumsy cup spill. I saved the cupcake, but I burned a random professor in the process. And that’s how I learned that it’s never a random professor. It’s always the professor you end up with the next semester in Health/Fitness for the Active AntiHero.
Cupcakes were not the only thing on my mind that semester. I had been accepted into the Masters program of Archfiend Academy. Only the top quarter of all the future graduates of all the Criminal Colleges across the world are reviewed for the academy, and less than half of that number are sent the thick folder of application forms. Half of those criminals are accepted into the academy, and many of those wash out in the first year.
Some of those wash out before that. They mark us, you see. If you are being considered, they make you wear a large, red target on your back. Literally, people. If you thought that the professors of the criminal community college were somehow softer than professors of the academy or even those who work with you in the doctorate program, you’d be wrong. Painfully wrong.
I was a nervous wreck of a twenty-one year old, despite all of my success on the fast track I had placed myself on back in elementary school when I realized that I did, in fact, want to take over the world someday. Thank you very much, Miss Adams of third grade. Yes, I do want to color outside of the lines with a red crayon.
It wasn’t that I didn’t think I had the stuff, it’s just that I had realized that I had made a mistake by not planning an off year between community college and the academy. I spent a lot of time that semester furiously scribbling and researching until I had updated my Criminal Birth Plan.
The plan was important, but I should have paid more attention to kidnapping class. Back then I was a little more black and white, you see. Age has gradually introduced me to the grey shades of decisions. Criminal Birth Plans? Also a fad, and I had succumb to that fad thanks to my Type Z personality. My practice minion did take notes, and I have them filed away. Basement? Attic? Office? Storage? See, this is why I don’t take lackeys anymore. A good maid, definitely. A private chef, yes. But a lackey? They tend to make you lazy, and lazy is what gets you put in jail or a grave.
Never let anybody tell you that being a criminal is an easy profession. It requires years of education and experience. Sure, anybody could become a criminal, but that doesn’t mean that just anybody can be good at it. Being a good criminal takes years of hard work and dedication. You have to be stronger than the haters, I tell my students. Nobody is going to ask you to be a criminal, I also tell them. You have to want it so badly that you can’t imagine life without it.
A lot of criminals struggle with this concept. Always, every semester, there’s a Little Johnny or Janie Scarface sitting in the front row of my auditorium. Mommy and Daddy are both criminals, and they have been primed for the role since conception when their parents drank the latest herb drink that promises to guarantee the traits that will secure the family legacy.
But do they want it? They always think they do, but I can tell which ones actually thirst for it. Honestly, I don’t know why more villain parents don’t prepare their children for the possibility of becoming a good, normal person. They know the story. They know the odds. But no. There’s no sit down with Pops in Jr. High, when they are more open to the idea of change. No, the parents of today’s future villains leave the bubble popping to me.
Little Johnny or Janie Scarface always stroll in late, and they always act like they don’t care. They don’t care, and that’s why I have to flunk them out each year. One year I actually got a set of them. Johnny and Janie. Twins. Matching track suits. Designer villain shoes. I tried to flunk them out immediately, but alas, their daddy was still the professor of Health/Fitness for the Active AntiHero. If I could give you only one piece of advice in life, it would be to never spill coffee. It brings bad luck. Every time.
But anyway, back to my current kidnapping dilemma. That yes, happened because of another cup of spilled coffee.