Flash Friday 18/11/2016: Old Age Inventioner
Margaret leant on the guard rail overlooking her underground lair, the floor of which teemed with scientists, soldiers, and the half-build chassis of a death ray. Yes, now she was living. This is what it felt like to live.
It couldn’t have come sooner. With Margaret pushing past her 80s and the 90s rapidly approaching, it was about time she found something that gave her life before it left her. Plus, it made for a solid pension plan.
“Alright, everyone!” she barked in an aged yet powerful voice. “I want to be the owner of at least one country before I kick the bucket. Let’s get this laser up and running, folks. I have a few leaders who are quaking in their boots, and I need something to show them I really mean business. Alright, hop to it!”
The crowd began to bustle a little more enthusiastically.
“Uhm, excuse me,” came a weak male voice from behind Margaret. “I hope I am not interrupting anything.”
“You’re not,” Margaret said, turning to face Peter. Peter was very bright, and definitely one of Margaret’s finest scientists, but he also had the problem of being particularly difficult to talk to. He wasn’t offensive; he was just shy. “If you did that five seconds before, you would have.”
“Yes, well…” Peter fiddled with his glasses. “It’s just that, well, we’re coming far beyond the simple pipe dream you had of taking over the world–”
“It was never a ‘pipe dream’.”
“Yes. Well, what I meant was that it’s becoming closer and closer to a reality. Soon, you may very well be the leader of the entire world. While that’s great and all, I’m concerned that you’re, uhm…that you’re…see, I don’t mean any offence, but you are…you know…”
“Yes! I mean, no! I mean, you’re…still a strapping young woman!”
“Yes. Well, I mean, what I’m trying to get at is this. I don’t doubt at all that you’re too old to be world leader. It’s just there’s the consideration that you’re going to…you know, that–”
“I’ll pass away.”
“Right. And you…well, you haven’t really set an heir to your rule should that happen.”
“I don’t have children,” Margaret said. “Never married.”
“So what do you have in mind?”
“Not sure,” Margaret admitted. “Depending on how many leaders we have under our control by then, we could probably let one of them have their time to shine. But until then, there’s no use worrying about–”
A red light began to blink between the two. The sign above it read ‘FRONT DOOR’.
“Ah, someone’s paying a visit,” Margaret said. “Thank goodness I have a batch in the oven. Be a dear and make sure nothing explodes, won’t you?”
“Yes Margaret,” Peter said, giving a slight bow as Margaret walked past.
Two men in identical black suits, wearing sunglasses and earpieces, stood outside the front door. One of them pushed the doorbell again.
“I think that’s enough,” the other said, with the tone of a plank of wood.
“Sorry,” said the other. “Just making sure they heard.”
The door creaked open. The frail, hunched-over figure of Margaret gently opened the door with a shaking hand, squinting as she adjusted the round glasses on her face. It was a far different side than how she appeared in the underground base; those who saw her negotiating with leaders knew which side of her was the real one.
“Oh, hello, young men,” she said, with a convincingly shaky and frail voice. “What can I do for you?”
They both pulled silver shining badges from their pockets. “Secret service. We have reason to believe that there’s an evil mastermind who lives in this vicinity who goes only by the name of ‘Mrs. X’. Do you know any information that will help us?”
“Ooh, yes, I do believe I do. Just hang on a moment, I’ll go get it.”
Margaret vanished back into her home. When she returned, she was holding a tray of freshly-baked cookies.
“Care to try one?” she said, holding them out. “I still use the recipe my mother taught me. They’re very nice. Chocolate chip.”
“Apologies,” one suit said, “but we’re specifically looking for information on Mrs. X.”
“Can confirm her intel is good,” the other said, taking another bite of the cookie he held. “Definitely contains chocolate chip.”
“Well, alright then,” the first suit said, taking one of his own. “Please realise the secret service will not accept these ‘cookies’ as a form of bribery. Now, please share anything you know.”
“Ooh,” Margaret rumbled. “You know, I’m not sure about any Mrs. X. Even if I did hear anything, facts go in through one ear and out the other these days. I’ll tell you what, though, it does remind me of a Mrs. Exon that I once knew. Back when I worked the theatre, she and I would put on the best shows in town. I have a few black and whites in the photo album; you should come in and take a look. I’ll even show you photos of my first ever cat, Morris. My, that takes me back. I got him when I was at the wee age of five, right about the time when–“
“Thank you,” one of the suits said, holding up a hand to stop Margaret. “Thank you for your cooperation and, uh, intel. If you learn anything, please let me know.”
“Sure you don’t want another cookie?”
“We’ll be seeing you.”
Margarets cheery disposition vanished the moment she closed the door. “Honestly,” she said, looking down at her tray of cookies. “Only one? Young men these days, so uncouth. Alright,” she said into an intercom beside the door. “All green up here. Let everyone know there are cookies up for grabs. I’m coming back down.”
She opened the door to the understairs cupboard, stepping into the hidden elevator within. Definitely going to do something about those brutish men when she owns this country.