Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Visiting with villains

     I like a good villain. They're generally the most interesting when they're real people with a bit of complexity to them - what actual villain thinks they're the bad guy, after all? I'm sure Stalin thought he was a great Russian hero.
    As a treat, here's a brief visit with Creedy from Behind the Ruins (which you should pick up and review if you haven't):

They had a year or two, Creedy thought. If they weren’t established somewhere in Canada by then, the band would be in trouble. There was little enough room to go further west, and the south was a patchwork of dug-in cartels, cults, gangs and warlords that would unite to kill any interloper quickly. It would have to be the north. There he’d have the space and the time needed to explore future plans.

Creedy had reached the reception hall of the building, with its sandbagged windows and trio of guards, when Gregor appeared at his side.

"Sir? A moment?" Gregor asked. His face and arms were stippled with tiny droplets of blood.

"Certainly, Gregor."

"Harris has received the ordered punishment, Mr. Creedy. He’s unconscious now. I took him to the infirmary, and the doctor says he should live. Also, Max told me that the new staff are in the west wing, in the old classroom, and he’d appreciate it if you could spare a minute to okay them. Any further orders for me?"

"Go inform Max that I’ll be there within the half-hour, then get cleaned up and take some time off. I’ll see you in the morning, Gregor."

"Yes, sir."

Creedy watched Gregor depart. The factotum’s shoulders, swollen from obsessive weightlifting, almost eclipsed his head, and his silhouetted form combined with his shambling gait was trollish.

The three watchmen on duty had stood to silent attention when Creedy had entered the hall, and he took a few minutes to inspect their weapons and chat with each, offering a few words with a perfect facsimile of interest.

He climbed to the second floor, smelling the stale fish oil from the lamps that lit the corridors, and found Max waiting.

Creedy used Max as a recruiter. The little man was glib and harmless looking, with flyaway white hair and watery blue eyes. He smiled at Creedy and held the door for him.

"Afternoon, Mr. Creedy," he said.

"Max." Creedy scanned the three women, one was old and two were younger. All looked scared. The youngest, on the left, was the prettiest, with reddish hair and a body the shapeless smock she wore couldn’t quite hide.

"What’s your name?" Creedy asked her.

"Sam. Samantha Jakes," she responded, blinking. Her eyes were hazel, he noted. Max coughed theatrically. "Sir," she added, remembering.

"Miss Jakes, can you write?"

"Yes, sir, I can."

Creedy nodded. "Good. I think you’ll do. I need a girl for my office - someone to do correspondence as needed, fix tea, perform whatever duties I require. Do you have any questions?"

She blinked several times. Creedy smiled.

"Well, sir, what other duties? And for what pay?"

Creedy gestured and Max escorted the other two from the room. They’d be taken to the kitchens and shown to the dorms. When they’d left, Creedy closed the door and moved to stand looking down at the girl.

"You’ll be housed, fed, clothed far better than what you wear now. You’ll find that I reward service with gifts as well." He cocked his head to the side, watching her hands as she knitted the fingers together tightly in her lap. "Do you prefer straight answers, or romantic ones?"

"I guess the truth’s the best way. Sir."

"Good. I expect you to do whatever I tell you for the next year; two at the outside. Anything. If it’s to wear velvet dress and be on my arm for a headman’s meeting in some dirtball town, or to mop my office floor, or to get down on your knees and suck my cock in front of the assembled troops."

She paled, but kept eye contact. That surprised Creedy.

"If you do just that - obey me - you’ll find your life will improve dramatically. If you say you will, but decide not to - if something I ask of you seems too much - I’ll beat you until you find it less objectionable. If that fails to convince you, then I’ll probably give you to the troops as a fuck toy."

"Well," the young woman said, voice trembling a little. "My gran told me that’s about what I could expect. How long before you kill me?"

Creedy laughed.

"I don’t waste people. I understand my last girl, Dania, bought a saloon in Wenatchee. I expected a lot from her, and I paid her for it when I tired of her. Money is not an issue for me." Creedy paused, staring at Jakes. "You wanted it straight, there it is."

"And if I turn you down, right now?"

"You go work in the kitchens for a two-year stretch like the other pair. You will receive food and a cot and a piece of silver once a month. Keep this in mind: If you say you’ll work for me, and you run, I’ll find you, bring you back and kill you. Slowly."

Creedy clasped his hands behind his back and waited. Samantha bowed her head for a moment before lifting her gaze to his waiting smile. Tears made her eyes shine.

"All right, I’ll do it. For the money. For my own farm. For the money to buy some papered stock, I’ll do whatever you want. Sir."

Creedy smiled. He reached out, ran a fingertip along the curve of her jaw. He felt her flinch. They always sell themselves, he thought.

"Welcome to our little family, then, Sam. Let me show you where you’ll sleep, and get you out of that potato sack and into something more fitting."

Outside, the first flakes of snow swirled on the darkening air of November.