Superior Defenses (Flash Fiction)

Bob stood in his viewing room and looked out at the coastline below. The deep blue of the ocean merged into emerald cliffs that spiked the horizon. A long plume of smoke rolled out from a distant volcano. He stood with his hands behind his back, taking in the majestic view, and sighed.

A soft set of footsteps approached. “Master?” asked the humble voice. Bob did not turn to look. “Master, what troubles you so?”

Bob shook his head and allowed his mind to wander while is eyes drifted along the length of the coast. “It’s not the same anymore. The world has changed. There’s no longer a place in it for people like me.”

“But master—”

“It’s true,” he said, turning toward the small man. The minion ducked down out of fear and respect and huddled a small hat close to his chest. Bob reached out and patted the man’s shoulder to ease his tension. “It’s okay, Brian. It’s okay.” He turned his view back to the ocean. “I’m not an unrealistic man. I know when my time has passed.”

“But master,” said Brian. “I don’t understand.”

“Look around, you fool,” Bob said quietly. “It’s the damned technology. It’s changed everything. I used to cherish the day when governments would send their best soldiers to assault my fortress. It was always such a spectacular challenge. The helicopter searchlights scanning the jungles and beaches. The explosions and gunfights. The narrow escaping via submarine.” Bob clenched a fist of victory. “It made life worth living. But now look.”

Bob turned and so did Brian. Across the room was a large computer console surrounded by large LED screens. “The defenses now are far too effective. No man dare’s to approach. Governments are like little children afraid of being slapped. Instead of sending their best men, they send sanctions.” Bob scoffed at the idea.

“But the kidnappings, master,” Brian said.

“Useless!” Bob shouted. “Instead of attempting rescue, they simply demonize me on social media. Reddit. Twitter. It all overflows with posts of outrage about how unreasonable I’m being, how I need to get out of the stone age.” He shook his head with disappointment.

Brian seemed to understand these things, and they stood together for several moments in silence. They watched a row of pelicans fly inches above the water.

“Would you like to launch some missiles?” Brian asked with a twinkle in his eye.

Bob’s head slumped down. “No use. They’ll only be shot down.”

Brian scratched at his course hair and put his cap back on. “You’re not thinking of retiring, are you?”

“What choice do I have?” asked Bob. “What can a man do when the world pushes him out?”

Brian rubbed at his chin with thought. “You could always go into finance. Investing, hostile takeovers, things like that.”

“Like Wall Street?” asked Bob.

Brian nodded.

“Nah,” said Bob. “I may be an evil villain, but those guys are heartless assholes.”

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