The Best of Times Short Story Competition

Spring 2016 Results

The Journal of Count Malevolent, lord of all he surveys and self-confessed genius

Copyright © Greg Southwell 2016

Monday June 8th

Pretty standard kind of day. Put the finishing touches to my latest monster and tested it out on the village. This one is a giant killer robot with lasers for fingers. Thought it was perfect until I realised that it couldn’t pick anything up without incinerating it. (Note to self- Need to hire some new staff). Igor said it was my best robot yet. Gave him an extra bone.

Tuesday June 9th

Spent the day messing about in the lab. Tried my new death ray. Still can’t get the torqueing to work. This is the fourth time I’ve had to replace the wall in the tower in as many weeks. Seriously I think that stone mason must see me coming. Next time I’ll set my robot on him. I can hear crashing upstairs again, better go investigate.

Wednesday June 10th

Dear Journal, something amazing happened last night. Something incredible. I think I’m in love. Seriously. I think this is it. I saw someone. Not just anyone though, this was someone more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. I was looking out of the gaping hole in the study that my latest creature made when it went on its 8 PM rampage last night, and there she was. She was gorgeous. (The girl, I mean, not the creature). I only saw her accidently when I was micro-scanning the village with my ultra-high powered octiloscope, but then I couldn’t stop staring at her. I stared and stared, even when my octiloscope burnt out and almost wiped out both my retina I still kept staring. I couldn’t tear my eyes away, much like the way I literally can’t tear my eyes away from the octiloscope when it burns out. Finally I sent my flying spy monkeys to find out who she is but they haven’t returned yet. While I’m waiting I might put the finishing touches on my laser grid security system.

Thursday June 11th

Woke up to the smell of burning monkey fur. Fortunately one of them left me as note outside the grid. Installing those calligraphy skills has certainly paid off now. It said, “Her name is Adeline. She is the woodcutter’s daughter, she lives on the corner of Ariel and Elsa streets. She likes kittens and puppies. Ah, it burns, it burns.”

Adeline! Her name is Adeline! What a beautiful name. It rhymes with... Something... Power line? I’ve got to meet her. Maybe spend some time, get to know her. I mentioned it just casual like to Igor and he suggested maybe asking her out for coffee sometime. I know that she’s just a simple woodcutters daughter and I’m a near omnipotent lord, master and genius of everything but I’m sure there could be a chance for us. Maybe we could go on a date?

Friday June 12th

I sent my robot to go and get her. Fortunately remembered to deactivate the laser fingers first. I wasn’t sure about knocking her out. I don’t know what the proper etiquette is in these situations. I wanted to bring her back conscious just so that she could see that she was coming to the castle, you know, just to impress her, but she started screaming so much I had to administer the knockout drug. Igor seems to think it was probably a bad idea bringing her here at all. I do trust Igor but I think he’s mistaken in this instance. I doubt the villagers will kick up a fuss. After all, once they find out my feelings for her and that I mean her no harm I’m sure everything will be all right. I’m sure I can smooth it out with her father. Igor says he doubts it.

Saturday June 13th

Sure enough her father came round this evening to have a word, with 200 of his closest friends, all carrying pitchforks and flaming torches. I don’t understand what it is with these villagers and their obsession with pitchforks and torches. Every single time they’ve come to talk to me they’ve brought these things. What do they seriously think they’re going to do with them? I mean, here I am in my Castle-o-Doom, one of the most heavily fortified strongholds in the whole land. Do they think I’m going to see them and go, “Oh no! Not the pitchforks! Oh help, anything but that! Here, I’ll open my gates and you can just waltz in and take anything you want, like your daughter!” I mean, seriously? I had half a mind to set my radioactive badgers on them. I didn’t out of respect for Adeline’s father though, but I did send out my squad of sentient straw golems just to teach them a lesson. (Note to self- Don’t send out creatures who are essentially walking bales of hay against townsfolk armed with pitchforks and fire. Bad idea.)

Sunday June 14th

Adeline finally woke up today, she spent the last full day sleeping off the effects of the knock out dart and finally woke up this morning. I put her in the best guest bedroom and made preparations all yesterday and today for when she woke. I must admit that even I, with my tremendous intellect and superior brain, wasn’t exactly prepared for what happened when she did wake up. She screamed and screamed and screamed. I went in to talk to her, even offering her some of the fresh death’s head flowers I picked out of the garden (they are so cute, they look like little skulls!), and she just screamed at me. When I started to say hello she began throwing things. Our conversation went something like this, “Greetings, allow me to introduce mysel- OW!... What was that fo- OUCH!... You know it’s not very polite to- OOF!... Will you stop throw-GAH!...” Eventually I had to call the robot back in and administer another knockout dart.

Women! Who can possibly understand them?

Monday June 15th

I sent Igor out to get me some women’s magazines so I could better understand Adeline and why she was acting so strangely yesterday. I’m pretty sure that she’s just overwhelmed with how wonderful her life has suddenly become and what her new status in the village will soon be as MRS Malevolent, and she’s just coming to terms with it. She woke up earlier this evening and I could clearly hear weeping coming from her room so she’s obviously overcome with joy at it all. I was going to go in but I was a bit concerned she would start throwing things again so I went and studied the magazines. Apparently women like it when you get to know them and give them something they like. Easy right? Well I’d learned from my flying spy monkeys (before they succumbed to their third degree burns) that she likes kittens and puppies. So, I went down the lab for a few hours and worked my magic, then I had the robot bring her down to show her. Well, you’d think that she’d appreciate all the work I did in grafting all those kittens and puppies together into one huge mass of mutated flesh, but no! What does she do? Starts screaming again. Calling me a monster! I’m not a monster, I merely make them for a living. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. Seriously! What’s wrong with women these days? You’d think she’d at least say thank you.

Igor said that maybe I should have just given her a kitten and a puppy separately, but sheesh, where’s the fun in that? I swear if she wasn’t so beautiful I would take her back to her father this instant.

Still, this is only a minor setback. I will win her heart. I know. I just have to keep trying. After all, I’m not a bad man, I just do bad things for fun.

Tuesday June 16th

The Blacksmith’s son tried to rescue her last night. 'Berric' I think his name is, or something like that. Silly fool tried climbing up the ocean cliffs behind the castle. Thought he would get in through the foundations or something. Luckily my gargoyles were watching and captured him. He actually managed to kill a few of them with a silver sword that he carried. I wonder where he got that from. Igor said he’d probably made it since he is, you know, the blacksmith’s son and all. It didn’t matter in the end, I put him in the second worst dungeon. It would have been the worst but that one’s being redecorated. Then when I told Adeline she broke down in tears and begged me to let her see him. I don’t know why, I know he’s handsome and strong and everything, but geez they’re not even related.

I asked her what would she do for me if I let her see him and she said, “Anything!” Anything hey? Wow. That’s a real turn around. Obviously the old Malevolent charm is starting to do its work. I knew she would come around eventually and see past my dark foreboding exterior to my dark foreboding soul underneath. She’s talking to Berric now in the dungeon. She asked me if she could talk to him alone without a guard and I agreed. After all, how could I say no to her? Igor says this is a mistake but what would he know? He’s never felt love for another person in his heart. I should know, I only built him last year.

Wednesday June 17th

After talking with her totally platonic friend last night Adeline has completely changed her tune with me. Suddenly she’s friendly and charming! I knew I would win her over. She’s even started asking questions about the castle and the creatures I’ve made. It’s wonderful! It’s so good to finally have someone who appreciates my brilliance. We’ve just been on a tour of the whole castle, I showed her all the secret passageways and how to get to them as well as where the guards were stationed and what times they changed shift. I even told her about my most precious secret, my special amulet that I wear that gives me protection from all my creatures which I only ever take it off to sleep. She was so interested. She kept asking me question after question, it was wonderful! She asked to see Berric again this evening and I was so happy I just said yes. Why not after all? She’s allowed to have friends.

Igor, in contrast, seems to be getting more and more suspicious by the minute. He keeps saying that I shouldn’t be telling her all this. I tell him that’s nonsense, this is Adeline! This lady is going to be my wife! Every time I told her something new she would smile and chuckle and get this beautiful thoughtful look on her face, and Igor would groan and roll his eyes and slap his forehead with his palm. I never thought Igor was the jealous type but I wonder if this could be a problem in the future.

Thursday June 18th

I woke up this morning and my amulet was gone! I couldn’t believe it. I looked under the bed and through my underwear drawer but it was nowhere to be found. I opened my chamber door to call Igor when I found him standing there just about to knock. “The prisoners have escaped my lord,” he said.

“What,” I asked, “You mean the blacksmith’s son?”

“Both,” he said.

I was going to ask him what he meant by ‘both’, when he said, “Both the boy in the dungeon and the girl Adeline have escaped together. They have your amulet and have retrieved his sword, and they are currently riding out of the castle on your best horse.”

I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t really believe it. I was sure Adeline was falling in love with me. The way she’d made all those notes about exit points and insisted that I had those eight glasses of wine plus the sleeping potion last night at dinner. I was sure she was just trying to get to know me. Igor says he could see it coming which really doesn’t help. Now we have a whole castle of monsters to deal with and no amulet to protect us. I just hope we can get out and start again somewhere new.

Even now I still think of Adeline and smile. I know now where I went wrong. It was that Berric who told her what to do. He must have been the one who stole my amulet, and my horse, and set all my monsters on me. He must have had something over her to make her act like this. Maybe it was blackmail? Maybe it was brainwashing? When I get out of here I’ll have to look into it for future reference.

However she did manage to leave me a note. A tearful and heart wrenching goodbye to a love she cannot have, a forlorn piece of paper stuck with a dagger into one of the wooden pylons of the drawbridge as they were riding over it together. I can’t help but feel that she was trying to send me a hidden message of how much she cared about me and the fact that we had something very special. She wrote, 'Die! Die! You evil bastard! Die!'

I just hope that maybe in the future I can meet someone like her again.

I also wish Igor would stop rolling his eyes and slapping his forehead with his palm all the time, it’s very irritating.