The Thinking Man

Hello!  I am still working on the next post.  It’s coming along and short of something going terribly wrong, it should be up tomorrow.  But in the mean time I decided to post something I’ve had done for a few months and just didn’t post because I felt bad working on a short story instead of the posts I was so far behind on.  But I decided that that was stupid since it’s already done, so it’s not like posting it is going to cut into my time to write.

So here is a quick short that I wrote a while back specifically to post here.  Most of my writing is from the viewpoint of the villain, and this is no exception.  I hope you enjoy it!

 

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A tall, lean man stood before a group of ten men arranged in two straight rows, all who wore heavy combat gear. The man’s face was half covered by a dark mask, a trench coat hanging loosely from his shoulders, and a black bowler cap atop his head. He wore fingerless gloves on his hands, one of which held a two-way radio a few inches from his face.

“Alright, people, listen up! This could score us enough to install that pool you’ve all been asking for, so let’s do it right and fast! Team A, are you in place?” He pressed a finger hard against the ‘talk’ button as he spoke.

“We’re in place, sir! Ready to go at your signal,” came the reply from the radio.

“Are we ready?” He asked the men standing before him, speaking loudly enough to ensure that everyone could hear him.

“Yes, sir!” They replied in unison.

The man smiled proudly. “Team A, proceed when ready!”

He turned away from the men in the room and looked to a large building visible through the window behind him. The darkness of the building’s rooftop above the dull streetlights made it hard to see, but he could still make out some movement, which let him know that his people were doing what he’d ordered. He watched the shadowy figures move across the roof, then turned back to those in the room with him.

“Team B, file out!”

The squad made an about face and marched briskly out of the room. The man in the bowler hat followed behind them, his stride much less urgent than theirs as they moved out of the building and into the one across the street that Team A was stationed on.

The building had a Roman design, the entrance flanked with large marble columns, and huge banners displayed the themes of the different exhibits in the museum inside. The men passed through the main doors, walked past all the unmanned ticket stations, and continued straight ahead to the ‘Featured Exhibit’ section. As they made their way to their destination, they could see the ticket booth’s cashier, tied and gagged, panicking on the floor. Her cash drawer was open and empty.

“STAND AGAINST THE BACK WALL!” The men shouted at the small number of patrons scattered throughout the exhibit, drawing their various weapons and pointing them aggressively at anyone who dared move in the wrong direction.

The man in the bowler hat strode in behind them, the same proud smile still on his face. He looked around, finding the number of patrons present to be quite odd. He had planned his raid for around closing time because he knew the crowds would be thinner then, but he had still been expecting more people; as it was, there were hardly more civilians than he had men. That was good news. He continued to survey the room, looking first at the security cameras, and then studying the pieces that were on display around him. His eyes widened with momentary panic, and his mouth set to an angry grimace as he looked around the room, taking in all the things that his brain told him he should not be seeing. The featured exhibits in the museum were always dimly lit to highlight the pieces, but he should have noticed right away that something wasn’t right.

He ran to the closest patron and grabbed his face. The poor man twitched, letting out a small, strangled squeak of surprise before he froze completely, his eyes lighting up with terror. They darted around frantically, from the face of the man before him to his own still limbs, and then to the people around him, who were all staring at him with expressions of confusion and fear. It took him a moment to realize that his eyes were the only part of himself that he could still move.

The man in the bowler hat closed his eyes and took a deep breath, his fingers tightening ever so slightly on his victim’s face as he attempted to control his emotions. He hadn’t intended to paralyze the man, but he had grown too angry to control his power.

“I apologize; I got a little carried away,” he said, forcing an impatient smile. “But would you be so kind as to tell me why there are no Egyptian pieces on display?”

He forced the man’s mouth open so he could speak.

“Please leave him alone!” The woman beside him pleaded. He reached over to her with his other hand and touched her arm, without ever taking his eyes off of the man in front of him. The woman twitched and froze, stuck leaning back in the awkward position she’d contorted herself into as she tried to escape his grasp.

“I am not a patient man. Answer my question.”

“Tha ezibi lef ova tha wee-en,” the man answered, trying to speak as clearly as he could without the use of his lips. Tears of fear welled up in his eyes as he watched the anger grow in his captor’s.

“It left over the weekend?” He seethed.

“Yuh,” the paralyzed man confirmed.

He let go of the man’s face, leaving him and the woman beside him standing frozen in their very uncomfortable looking positions. He didn’t give them another thought as he looked around the room again, appraising the situation. There was nothing in the room worth as much as even the smallest pieces from the exhibit he had planned to raid. He touched a few of the statues that stood around the corner from the entrance, and could immediately tell that they were nothing more than replicas.

“Dammit, Steve!” He yelled, as he returned to the entrance. Steve looked terrified, despite that he was carrying a revolver while his boss was unarmed. “You were supposed to be paying attention to this stuff! How could you miss the end date of the fucking exhibit?! I thought you said you had this shit under control!”

“I-I-I…” he stammered, looking around at the others, trying desperately to find an excuse. “I thought it was next week…”

The boss’s anger deflated into exasperation as he rested his left elbow in his right hand and began rubbing his eyes with his left. He knew he should have double checked the information himself, but he hadn’t thought his second in command would fuck up something as straightforward as when the exhibit was leaving. He was about to speak again when he heard a commotion outside the exhibit.

“Oh, what now?” He asked, looking at the entrance, then at Steve. “What the hell are you waiting for? Make yourself useful and go find out what’s going on!”

Steve jumped and bolted out the door. The boss began assessing the pieces in the exhibit, trying to decide if there were any worth taking. He had spent the last few weeks lining up buyers for Egyptian pieces; they would not be pleased. He had to find something to keep them from abandoning him for the next job, at the very least. Perhaps some of the smaller pieces were genuine and might be worth something.

He moved from the entrance displays to the sculptures around the corner, and then on to the paintings, at which point he heard a thud, followed by something squeaking across the floor back by the entrance. He headed back cautiously, unsure what to expect. Whoever was interrupting his heist had taken a while to beat his minion, so it couldn’t be the city’s main hero, but who else would be dumb or bored enough to bother with his fairly low level job?

When he got back in view of the entrance, the boss was able to see that all the non-paralyzed patrons had backed away from the entrance, where Steve’s twitching – thus still alive – body now lay. His remaining men had their weapons at the ready and were watching the door. Whoever it was seemed to be trying to build tension for his entrance, so the man watched the door, waiting for the nuisance to show himself. He had guessed that it would be a low level hero, but he was still surprised to see a teenager in jeans, a t-shirt, and a cheap costume mask walk in. He rolled his eyes. This job was not worth so much annoyance.

“Jim, Gary, Dave: Go.” Three of the remaining nine men ran from the patrons to the invader. The boss watched, his expression impassive, arms clasped behind his back.

The boy looked at him with vicious glee. He let the first man, Jim, punch him without taking his eyes off the boss. The man’s punch seemed to have no impact at all. The other two men paused before striking, but Jim continued his useless assault, swinging his nightstick as hard as he could into the boy’s stomach. It still had no effect. Confusion and fear welled up in the man, so he stopped attacking for a moment, which was just long enough for the boy to turn and punch him square in the chest, with enough force to throw him to the other side of the room. The other two men took a step back, looking at each other with apprehension. Dave looked down at Steve, noticing that Steve’s gun was still in his hand, while Gary looked to Dave and saw what he was looking at. Both men looked back at their target briefly before simultaneously diving for the gun.

The team had primarily brought weapons that would be less likely to catch the attention of anyone outside the exhibit who might contact the police, since they were only planning to target and secure one exhibit, but now they regretted that decision. The boss made a note to bring more guns next time anyway, just in case. His men were fairly disciplined as far as minions went; he supposed if they survived this, it was probably time to trust them.

The teen seemed to fear the gun, as he rushed to get it away from the men before they could use it on him. He kicked at the henchman closest to him, but it didn’t have the same force as his punch had had. It did distract the boy long enough for Dave to get the gun, however, so he snatched it up from the floor and pointed it at the teen.

“Stop! I will shoot you! What the hell did you do to Team A?” Dave yelled. Team A were the ones who usually distracted any would-be heroes while Team B made off with the goods, but they weren’t used to dealing with much more than scared civilians.

The teen moved quicker than the henchman’s frayed nerves would allow him to. Dave fired a shot at the boy, but the bullet ended up in the wall. A few of the patrons screamed and covered their heads. The boss made another note to instruct his men to shoot first and ask questions later. He was becoming increasingly annoyed at the spectacle in front of him.

“You shouldn’t hesitate, dumbass! You’re never gonna get me that way!” The teen taunted as he tackled the man with the gun, grabbing the weapon and throwing it out the door. The henchman fought back, kneeing the boy in the stomach. That action had as little effect as Jim’s punch had, but at that moment, Gary came up behind him and struck him hard across the back with one of the metal stanchions that held the ropes surrounding the displays.

“Is that all you’ve got?” The teen asked, picking up the man beneath him and throwing him hard into the man with the pole. Both men ended up on the other side of the room. “Oh, come on; I expected more of a fight than this!” The boy laughed as he brushed off his t-shirt.
The remaining men looked to their boss for guidance. He held up a hand, indicating that they should stay where they were, then walked toward the smiling teen.

“Oh, so you’re finally going to come at me yourself? You think you can do any better than your henchmen? Least they’re wearin’ armour!”
The boss was getting sick of the boy’s cocky grin. He decided to remove it.

“I imagine most people assume your powers are invulnerability and strength; am I right?” His voice echoed around the room as he walked. His men were watching him intently, so some of the smarter patrons took the opportunity to run out the door. The boss didn’t particularly care about them anymore, so he held up his hand again when one of his men moved to chase after them.

“Yeah, that’s right,” the teen replied, puffing up his chest.

“They’re wrong, though, correct?”

The teen looked puzzled.

“That’s not your power, is it?” He asked again.

“What the hell makes you think that?”

“Well, the fact that when you kicked Gary when he was diving for the gun, you didn’t send him flying. The times you did hit with strength were only after you’d been hit yourself. When you came in, you just stood here and let them hit you. You may be just a show-off, but judging from the effort you put into your…uh, disguise,” distaste dripped off the word as he waved a hand at the boy’s outfit. “Well, I’m guessing that showing off isn’t really what you came here to do. No, I think it’s more likely that you collect the kinetic energy of your attackers and use it to raise the strength of your attacks. Am I close?” He mimicked the cocky grin the teen had flashed him only moments before.

The boy looked nervous, but he stood his ground. He attempted to smile confidently, though he wasn’t very successful.

“You’re way off. I just kick even harder than I hit, and I didn’t wanna kill him.”

“Sure you did,” the boss said, now face to face with the boy. He reached out a hand and patted him on the shoulder condescendingly. “Now, do you know what I just did to you?”

The teen twitched once, then froze. Panic filled his eyes.

“Oh, don’t worry, it wears off. That couple over there,” he said, pointing at the man and woman he had paralyzed earlier who were still frozen in place, “I paralyzed them a few minutes ago. They’ll be able to move normally by juuust about the time I get out of here, which will leave you a few more minutes after that. But for now, because I’ve been having a very bad day, we’re going to have a little fun.”

He turned to his men, surveying the damage around him. He pointed at two of his henchmen and motioned for them to help their injured comrades. He pointed at two more, then at what he had decided was worth taking. He looked at the remaining two henchmen and smiled.

~~~

“This is the police! Hands in the air!”

The Villain Response Team filed through the entrance to the exhibit, low and ready to attack, and looked around the room. All the patrons had fled, and the villain and his men were long gone, a few of the more valuable pieces from the exhibit gone along with them. The team cautiously lowered their weapons. They were too late.

“Fan out; look for any of them that didn’t get away, or any sign of where they went!” The leader called out. He walked further into the exhibit, keeping an eye out in case any of the thieves were still hiding somewhere, and checking for any injured civilians. He turned to look into the second room of the exhibit, and there, framed perfectly by the entryway, was the teen…seated in the position of The Thinking Man.

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