Flash Friday 07/11/2014: Barmy Army
“Did you take last week’s lesson on board?” the imp said.
The overlord nodded with enthusiasm. “You stated that every evil antagonist has to have an army in order to improve their portfolio and increase conflict chances in the story. You’ll be very pleased to know that I have already hired an entire army.”
“Wow!” The imp’s eyes widened. “I didn’t know you had it in you, kiddo. Getting an army so fast like that. I bet it cost you more than your treasury can hold.”
“Not at all. In fact, I got the cost down to one-third of the budget we put aside during our Evil Dictatorship Business Plan.”
“You found a deal, this quickly? Very impressive! I’m sure, with this newfound vigour of yours, we’ll be taking over the world and creating novels in no time. Well, do you have them here to show me?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t want to make a business decision without you overseeing it. Check out this army.”
The overlord crossed the throne room, opening the double doors at the end. He revealed his army with a wave of his hand and a flamboyant ‘ta-daa!’. He didn’t have to point them out, however; the imp had already seen them. And he was already unhappy.
The army of men that he was hoping to see — he really wasn’t asking for much, some farmboys with spears were trainable, at least — were not an army. They weren’t even men. In the spot that a budding fighting force should have been, sat instead a horde of puffballs. It was the only way the imp could begin to describe them.
Not only were they puffballs, but obnoxious ones. They had big, wide eyes, and chatted to one another in high-pitched tones. Some of them blew raspberries, bounced around the hallway, and acted in other ways that annoyingly happy fluffballs would act.
“Oh, no.” The imp looked upon the army with horror. “You bought comic relief.”
The overlord frowned. “Sorry, what?”
“You bought comic relief minions, you clod! These guys aren’t meant for the epic fantasy trilogy that we’re trying to craft, here. These are for…I dunno, some awful kids movie or something. You can’t have an engaging page-turner when you have comic relief minions!”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” the overlord said, with annoying calmness. “Look, see? They’re fluffy and cute. Oh, that one’s making a funny face! Hah! I love them. We should keep them.”
“We’re not keeping them.”
The overlord stared in horror. “Why not? I bet they can be mean fighters when we train them.”
“Because they’re comic relief minions. Even if we did train them to become useful…it would be even worse. The last thing you want to do is give these little bastards the limelight. How do you imagine the cover of your novel will be, huh? Maybe a picture of you reaching out to grab the heroes, all menacing and stuff. Or maybe the hero is looking one way, and you’re looking the opposite, like you’re his shadow or something. I swear to all the impish gods I know, if you let those little tykes take the spotlight, nobody is gonna be on the cover.”
“Who will be on the cover, then?”
“Those bastards. They can smell popularity. They feed off of fame and attention. The minute you give them it…nothing survives. They’ll be on the covers. They’ll be the feature characters in adverts on buses and train station posters. People will buy plushes of them, quote their lines. Movies will be made. Bad movies. You and whatever protagonist is dumb enough to get into this plot will slowly be devoured by the writers, until there’s nothing left. And then you know what happens?”
“With nobody caring about the actual characters in the actual plot…they’ll make a minion standalone movie.”
The overlord took some time over the words. For some reason, all he did was hug one of the fluffballs closer.
“No plot,” the imp said, pacing side to side. “You’re not in it. Your hero sure as hell ain’t in it. Nobody is. It’s two hours of watching…those things while they make fart jokes and do stupid stuff to awful pop music. We’re not — I repeat, not — letting them stay. They’re going back to wherever the hell you got them from. Understand?”
A cold air suddenly dropped across the throne room.
The overlord stared. A chill wind began to pick up around him, blowing fabric around. Ice began to form around the overlord’s right hand as he glared at the imp. He raised the hand, as if about to throw something.
“Hey, hey, HEY!” The imp pointed a finger. “Don’t use ice magic on me! I taught you how to use that. You’re gonna take back the minions, and you’re gonna like it, understand?”
“Let me,” the overlord said, his voice resonating around the room, “keep them.”
“But they’re stupid, and infectious, and they’ll ruin the whole book, and–”
“Let me.” The overlord’s eyes began to glow blue as the minions huddled in a pile. “Keep them.”
“Alright, alright! Sheesh! You can keep the stinking minions! It’s your money, after all!”
The cold air vanished in an instance, along with the ice. The overlord bent down and picked up one of the quivering balls of fluff, hugging it. “There there, it’s okay. I won’t let the mean old imp make me take you back to the store. Yes, I know, he’s a very mean imp. Shh shh shh.”
The imp rolled his eyes. Tonight, he was going to be researching markets for epic fantasy mixed with fuzzy fluffballs.