“My name is Lester the Lugubrious and I’m a villain.”
“The problem is…I’m not a very good villain. I…” he shifted his gaze to the table stocked with coffee and doughnuts rather than make eye contact with the other members of the circle. “I don’t really like it.”
A murmur rolled through the group and Lester was taken back to the moment he’d had this same conversation with his father.
“Disgraceful,” he’d snarled, twirling his black mustache with one hand. The conversation had landed him here; The Center for Faulty or Malfunctioning Villains. The others in the group had simply screwed up in the course of their villain duties; apparently, he was the first to want to shun them altogether.
The director, a tall thin woman with jet black hair and a tight leather corset who kept glancing at her watch, spoke above the eruption of voices. “When did you begin to notice these feelings, Lester?”
“I think I’ve always felt like this. When I was five, there was a cat stuck in a tree in our yard and…I rescued it.”
There was a collective gasp and this time even the director couldn’t hide the disdain that so closely mimicked his father’s.
“You come from a long line of villains,” his father spat, pacing the kitchen. “We have worked for decades to spread fear and strike terror into the hearts of children. We have fought the strongest of heroes!”
“And we have always lost!”
“You watch your mouth.”
“I’m tired of fighting,” Lester continued to the group. They were really uncomfortable now, looking to each other for support, to the director to make him stop. “I want to help people.”
“We do help!” exclaimed a man with a long scar across his face. He approached Lester until their noses almost touched. “You can’t have heroes without evil to fight.”
Lester shrugged. He didn’t care. He just wanted to save people.
Then, from somewhere outside, an explosion rang out, shaking their building. The floor vibrated. Dust fell from the ceiling.
A crack from above made Lester look up just as a beam directly above their heads worked its way loose. Without thinking, Lester outstretched his arms, pushing the man with the scar out of the way. The beam met Lester’s head instead.
When the world came back to him, he knew it wouldn’t be for long. He felt himself drifting away but stopped when he heard his name. The man with the scar was leaning over him, he seemed to be saying the same thing over and over. “You saved me, Lester! You saved me! Thank you!”