Flash Friday 24/06/2016: A Change of Scheme-ery
John Bath had been trained for scenarios like these. When caught in a troublesome situation with nothing but their bare fists, a spy is not expected to put their hands in the air and mumble surrender, even if the enemy have rifles. Of course, a large part of making sure you don’t get shot is not allowing them to see you coming in the first place. This is why the guard stationed outside the mastermind’s planning room didn’t go out with a bang, but with a soft thump from a punch by a spy dangling out of an air vent.
John Bath took the fallen guard’s weapon. If he knew Dr. Doomsday as well as he thought, asking for a fistfight wasn’t going to garner any favours. If a fight was going to break out, it was absolutely going to be against the new foul invention Dr. Doomsday might have invented. Pushing the button, the metal doors to Dr Doomsday’s lair opened with a whiff.
The lair seemed standard issue for a scientifically-minded megalomaniac. A large cave cavern was filled around its walls with computer terminals and giant screens depicting ominous threats to the countries of the world. Situated near the middle of the circular room, sitting within a hovering chair guided by a joystick on the armrest, was Dr. Doomsday. He was giving a leering smile that John couldn’t distinguish between sadistic pleasure and annoyance, his bald head and eyepatched left eye wrinkled from the expression. Lying in the very middle, strapped to a table with a large ominous laser emitted hovering over it, was John Bath’s current (and sixth) love interest Daphne.
“Aha!” Dr. Doomsday grinned. “So you finally made it here, John Bath. It’s about time. I thought my wine would evaporate from all the waiting.”
“Whatever nefarious plan you have in mind, Dr. Doomsday, I’m going to put an end to it tonight.”
“As you always say, John Bath. However, this time around, you may find things are slightly…different. Also — go on. Take a shot at me.”
John frowned. “No.”
Dr. Doomsday put on an exaggerated look of concern. “Why’s that, John? I thought you always wanted me to meet my demise.”
“Because every time I see you in that floating chair of yours, I take a pot shot at you, it reflects off, and you cackle and say ‘your attacks mean nothing, John Bath, for I am behind a force field’. It gets old.”
“It’s not turned on.”
“Yes it is.”
“Look, watch.” Dr. Doomsday pressed a button on his chair. Visually, nothing seemed to change. “It’s off now. You can take a shot. You’ll win.”
“I can’t tell it’s off. It’s an invisible force field. For all I know, you just pressed the button for the espresso machine.”
“No, that was it. That was totally it, one-hundred percent. It’s off now. You can shoot me.”
“So why are you smirking?”
Dr. Doomsday looked away, hiding his face. “Just feeling particularly good today, that’s all.”
John exchanged a look of disbelief with Daphne. Half-heartedly, he raised his rifle and took a shot. The bullet reflected off an invisible barrier.
“Ha!” Dr. Doomsday cackled. “Your attacks mean nothing, John Bath, for I am behind a force field.”
John rolled his eyes. “Very surprising.”
“Now that you know your attacks are useless against me, I present to you my latest plan. You have two options; save your precious Daphne from being torn apart by a laser, or disable the laser cannon I have set up pointed at the moon. Save the moon and your precious girl dies. Save your girl and doom the world to a permanent, literal half-moon. So, what will it be?”
John looked between Daphne tied to the table and the screen showing a very helpful and informative animation of a large laser cannon blowing up the moon. After a small deliberation, he said, “did you make that?”
Mr. Doomsday’s evil grin maintained; now, however, it was noticeably forced rather than natural. “Sorry?”
“The cannon. And the Daphne Laser.”
Mr. Doomsday blinked. “…yes, of course I did. You can’t buy moon-destroying lasers on the market.”
“I’m only saying because, well, the first time we met, you put a gun to the love interest’s head. Then you suspended one over a cliff edge, and the one after that was a slow descent into the shark tank. And now you’ve really upscaled.”
“To be honest with you,” Daphne said, “being compared to the moon, I’m feeling flattered right now.”
Mr. Doomsday scoffed. “So what if I upscaled? Isn’t it a villain’s duty to?”
“Given how you’ve basically advanced laser-based technology by a hundred years by yourself, why are you still demanding huge ransoms of money when you could be, you know, inventing and selling things?”
Mr. Doomsday went to answer, stopped, thought, then said: “It’s not like anyone will buy my stuff, given all the horrible stuff I’ve done.”
“Technically, you haven’t ‘done’ anything. I’ve always thwarted your plans before they come to pass. You could still, you know, not blow up entire celestial bodies and make something of yourself. So, how about it?
The secret services didn’t hear much else about what happened when John came back from the excursion. Just that there was a very much intact moon, and an uncharred Daphne, and promises that ‘everything had been taken care of’, despite the fact that Mr. Doomsday was nowhere to be found on the abandoned lair, alive or not.
Elsewhere, a new and wildly-popular laser surgery and tattoo removal center appeared. Customer reviews noted it was strange for the operator to strap them to a table, point something that looked like it was straight out of a sci-fi film at them, and cackle madly. Despite this, it was totally painless, the fastest and cheapest laser procedure of all the country, and the operator gave a free lollipop at the end, so it was alright and got five stars.