Consciousness In Predicaments
Fiction. But, like, very short bursts of fiction.
Memoirs of a Disillusioned Henchman (I of III)
Dear Diary, I really do not want to go on. This is the worst job I have ever had. The spandex is killing me. The chafe is diabolical.
Every day I toil, in costume, for a psychopathic, farcical madman who does not give a damn about Fairwork agreements. He is exploitative and unafraid of our threats to unionise and I think some of his pay-as-you-go tax stuff is a little illegitimate. I would quit but I desperately need the money and, also, Titan has a tendency to mwahaha and say, “Well your contract won’t be the only thing that’s terminated" if anyone mentions moving on.
I'm over it! Every day it is the same! Titan hatches some hideous plots in some nefarious factory and we are tasked with defending it from the Heroes. I walk endless, absent rounds of the perimeter with my buddy Damian, I feed the Bengal Tigers that Titan is “saving for a rainy day” and every now and then, depending on how much of the accounting team are still alive, I get roped into some clerical work.
Inevitably the Heroes find us. They always find us because they have amongst their squad a grab bag of sonic vision and cosmic hearing and super powered guessing ability. They find us and they fight to satiate their deep and vague pursuit of “justice”, and we spar with them good-naturedly. We go down easy. We stay down long. We gently stroke their egos with an orgy of hand-to-hand victories so that they don’t feel inadequate and start literally ripping us in half.
They will flatten our legion only to discover that Titan has slipped away with the crystal or blueprints or whatever the fuck he is using to terrorise the “gluten intolerant”, who are the most recent bearers of his endless vendetta.
I will be left with the the mopping of henchmen blood and gathering together of all the important payroll information that Titan, in his haste, abandoned. I will be relocated to some new and ominous cave or laboratory or warehouse tomorrow. And I will not be paid my casual loading.
Wallowing of a Cosmic Loser
The Psychic Council came to see me last night. There’s a rumour going around that I didn’t predict rain on a day that was already raining. The rumour is very much true and the Council is concerned that I’m starting to make them all look bad.
“We just can’t have licensed, certified Psychics running around, just… vomiting false predictions, Michael,” the President said. The father of the Psychic Council spoke like a showman all the time. His old blue eyes were wide, his cloak was weaved of golden silk. He beat his hands down like phantom gavels almost every other word. “Some of the trite you told Mrs Walsh was reallydark. She refuses to leave her home, Michael. And she thinks her cat is dead!”
I remembered Mrs Walsh. A real kooky lady. Saying there was a crazed axe murderer on her street was just a wild stab in the cosmic dark, but I did run over her cat.
“Not to mention poor old GeorgePapadopoulos. He nearly died last week because you said his abdominalpain was his late Aunt Tilly merely reaching out for a chat. He was so busy talking to his stomach that he didn’t even notice the Jaundice.”
“Are you here to kill me?” I said.
A look of grave concern crossed the faces of the Council.
“You’re really not very bright are you, Michael?” said Oliver the Oracle, the treasurer, pinching the bridge of this nose. “We’re here to do the Test. Obviously.”
The Council looked suddenly very guilty at the mention of the Test. All four men in golden cloaks knew my story, knew its tragedy. They must have felt bad about embarrassing me like this, especially because each and every one of them had reaped some reward from my bygone, nay, decimated, clairvoyance. Ernest Skyfather, for instance, who was standing by the door, had heeded my premonitions and avoided three costly divorces. He is unhappily married now but financially okay. Flow Dragon the Wispy stood to his right but would have been standing in jail as a white collar criminal had I not seen an audit coming seven financial years ago. Of course there was Oliver the Oracle who had purchased the fifteen-year warranty on a new toaster at my behest - that one is yet to come to fruition, but it will. And then there was the President who I had texted over twenty-six times with a warning that he was going to forget to feed his fish.
“We really are sorry to have to do the Test, Mike,” Ernest Skyfather said in his slow, enigmatic drone. “But we really have no choice.”
There was a time when the Test was as easy for me as it is for you to count the fingers on your left hand. It would have been insulting to ask me to do it. But now I’m not so sure. I’m not so sure of anything anymore – I look into my crystal ball and I strain to see my own reflection. I’m outright last place in my fantasy footy league.
The President called for the room’s attention with a theatrical circling of his hands, like he was doing a desperate standing breaststroke. He fell still. His voice boomed. It was time.
“I’m thinking of a number between one and ten!” he roared.
I looked him up and down and saw nothing. Zero. Nada. Diddly squat. Even when I put on my reading glasses. What I felt was more ethereal than embarrassment or even shame. I was gut-wrenchingly repulsed by my existence in all six dimensions. Even my chakras cringed. They cringed hard. How had I let it come to this? I used to answer phones before they even started ringing!
I had seen such beautiful prophecies in my ball of crystal. I’d read great, yet-to-exist love stories in the palms of people’s hands. I’d seen lives saved from the smallest gesture of kindness, I’d seen real happiness spewed out of infinitesimal chance. I’d seen every possible strand and tangent of the future laid out like a street directory, crisscrossed with the infinite roads of potential existence. It was gorgeous.
And now I see nothing but my own god-awful juju. I am a cosmic loser.
“I don’t know,” I sighed. “Is it six?”
A deep and pregnant silence hung in the room.
“Lucky guess,” said the President.
Memoirs of a Disillusioned Henchman (II of III)
Dear Diary, So Damian got stabbed today. Yep. My best friend in this godforsaken industry got stabbed right through the heart.
Captain Megaman and his Band of Immaculate Cotton Swabs or whatever the fuck they call themselves came to our base today in their perennial pursuit of Titan. They ploughed through us, of course, slicing through our very mortal battalion like a radioactive knife through butter. One of the Heroes actually shoots fire from her hands. Another was genetically spliced with a Great White Shark. Like that’s fair.
The Heroes were angry today. Mondays are tough on me too, I guess, but I don’t kill anyone over it. It was super powered lions against everyday gazelles out there and one of them, probably overcompensating for a bookish adolescence before being stung by some magic jellyfish, electrocuted Damian and stabbed him through the heart. Our force was ruined in four minutes. Some of us lay, dislocated limbs akimbo, groaning the most terrible groans. Some of us played dead. Some of us were actually dead. One of the Heroes with the super power of thermal vision (like that will help in a crisis) searched the lair and frowned, “It seems the wicked Titan has escaped again, Captain Megaman! His plot against the Netflix recommendations algorithm will go un-foiled today!”
I rolled my eyes, applying pressure to a radioactive cockroach bite.
“Drats! Curse you Titan!” boomed the Captain before adding, without the theatrics, “Okay folks, I’m off to the dentist, see you tomorrow.”
They flew and teleported and super-sprinted away, leaving six dead and fourteen grievously wounded. Damian was tossed on the pile.
Tomorrow we will be called in to once again be maimed and humiliated and maybe even killed. And still we will not be paid our casual loading.
Primary School Heartthrob Not Dealing With Mediocre Adulthood Very Well
We never just race anymore. You know what I mean?
Memoirs of a Disillusioned Henchman (III of III)
Dear Diary, It has been harder around here without Damian. The burial was brief, as they always are. Titan thanked his bloodstained corpse for its noble service to the noble cause. Whatever the fuck thecause is these days, ‘Tyranny over ATM Surcharges’ or something.
And so now, here, I will dedicate some time and words to Damian.
He was one of our best and brightest and I am very sorry to see him go. Damian was the perfect henchman, that is to say, he was the perfect balance of blind obedience, frailty, and gross ineptitude. He was always the first into a fist fight and he was always the first to go down. And he never got back up. I never saw him shoot anything, even at target practice – the guy could miss from closer range than anyone. He never, ever locked important doors.
Damian was the kind of henchman many of us wanted to be and I will feel his passing very deeply.
I do not know if I have the strength to go on but I’ve been sending out my résumé for weeks now and no one has gotten back to me. I have to get out of this life. I’m thinking of doing something in nefarious finance, or maybe even in evil real estate, but in all honesty I’d do anything. Even meter reading. Gas or water I don't care. So long as they don’t skimp on the casual loading.