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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Fantasy · #2307189
Gordian achieves total control.

Arbid Gordian settled back into his wheelchair, his enormous weight making the struts and supports creak as they adjusted to the movement. He waited as his manservant, Boris, approached across the expansive floor of the hall.

It was a scene almost mediaeval in the soaring height of the ceiling, the tall but narrow Gothic style of the windows, the bare tiled floor, and the echoes of Boris’ footsteps as he proceeded toward this appointment with his master. Only the plain and modern attire of the participants in the meeting gave the lie to the grand impression of the hall.

Boris reached his usual spot for consultation with his overweight employer and stopped walking. Here he was at a respectful distance but was close enough to speak in a normal voice. It was also just within range of the master’s wheezing and sibilant instructions.

There was silence as Gordian’s eyes, mere slits between voluptuous and bulging extrusions of flesh, examined his servant dispassionately. Boris knew better than to initiate conversation and he waited patiently.

Something must have satisfied Gordian’s inspection after several seconds, for his rosebud mouth opened sufficiently for a high-pitched voice to squeeze out a few words.

“Well, Boris, how goes my world today?”

The manservant inhaled and began what appeared to be a prepared speech. “It is just as you ordered, sire. Russia continues to squeeze the Ukraine while the allies inch ever closer to war, the Palestinians and Israel are at each other’s throats, and the farmers continue to protest in the Netherlands and Canada. Division grows in almost every country and…” He stopped as Gordian waved a leisurely hand.

“All very predictable,” said Gordian. “I didn’t plan all this for nothing. But what of our latest scheme, hey? How goes the matter of the bugs?”

Boris coughed politely behind a raised hand. “You were right again, sire. Not only are they discussing the need to start eating insects but there are even some companies marketing bug-based products already. Quietly, of course, but there are clues in the ingredients. No one seems to be taking much notice, so bound up with other matters as they are.”

“What fools, what fools. So damned predictable too. At this rate, I’ll have to speed up the timetable.” Gordian paused for a moment’s thought. “Yes, I think that’s a good idea. I want you to prepare the Learjet for me, Boris. We fly out tomorrow.”

Boris’ composure wavered. “Already, sire? I thought we were still a long way from complete control. There’s some time to go before they’re all eating bugs and our wars are only limited as yet.”

“It may seem that way, I know. But think for a moment, Boris. Who owns the banks and the currencies? L’etat, c’est moi, little friend. My pockets have proved large enough for all of the politicians. The schools and universities do my bidding. Even the giant companies are slaves to my ridiculous instruction. I can hardly believe how easily they capitulate to the most nonsensical orders I give them.

“So tell me, Boris, who, in all this chaos and confusion, is going to lift a finger against me if I reveal myself tomorrow? The leaders have their heads stuck so firmly into their fundaments, they won’t understand what’s going on, and the common people have no power.”

“It’s the common people I worry about. What if they revolt?” countered Boris.

“Not a chance. They’re too busy hating each other. And those few who understand what’s happening, they’re already in jail or the insane asylums. No danger from that direction, I think.”

He paused then, watching Boris’ reaction. And his manservant was clearly not happy with his orders, doubt forcing worry lines to appear on his face.

“You have always stressed the fact that timing is important in all this, sire. Often in the past you have pronounced exact times for actions to be taken, sometimes even years in advance. But to move now seems very, umm, precipitate.”

Gordian smiled at his servant. “Have I ever been wrong, Boris?”

“No, my lord. But, you understand, sometimes I worry.”

“It’s been a long road, I know,” said Gordian. “There have been times of waiting and, equally, opportunities when it has been necessary to act quickly. Trust me in this - now is our moment, the time we’ve been working toward. Tomorrow you will see.”

Defeated, Boris could only mumble, “Yes, master.”

Gordian relaxed back into the wheelchair. “Good. Well, off you go and get ready to leave tomorrow. You might find it difficult to find the pilot. And he’ll probably need sobering up before he’s ready to handle the plane. I’d have sacked him ages ago if he weren’t so good at his job.”

Boris nodded, then left the hall. For a while Gordian remained motionless, perhaps considering again his complex plans for world domination and this final step that would leave him in total control of every country and enterprise on the planet. As the light from the windows began to fade into the shades of evening, he stirred and wheeled his chair ponderously toward a door that had opened in the wall behind him.

As he turned for a last look at the hall where his great decisions had been made, a smile of accomplishment swept across his bloated features, pushing up his cheeks to hide his eyes in folds of flesh.


The next day, Boris was up early, shaking the pilot, Helmut, awake from the drunken stupor of his nightly search for oblivion. As the pilot surfaced groggily into awareness, Boris prepared the coffee that would settle the matter. Then he waited as Helmut groped his way back to humanity.

It took a while. After gulping down the last of the coffee, Helmut rubbed his face with his hand and asked about the agenda for the day.

“You’re to ready the plane for a long flight,” said Boris.

Helmut raised an eyebrow. “Short notice,” he answered. “What’s the destination?”

“Don’t know exactly. The boss says the Maldives but he didn’t say which one.”

“I think there’s several international airports,” said the pilot. “I’ll check on that before we leave.”

Boris looked doubtful. “There might be another one by now. He bought one of the islands some time ago and may well have had an airfield constructed on it. You know how he hates going by official routes.”

“Well, I need to know. Have to file a flight path, whatever the boss thinks.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” said Boris.


When Boris had served Gordian his breakfast, he broached the subject of their destination.

“The pilot needs to know more details of the flight,” he said. “Apparently, there are several airports in the Maldives and he has to be precise about destination for the air traffic along the way.”

Gordian spoke through a mouthful of scrambled egg and bacon. “Tell him Velana International on North Male Atoll. We’ll go the rest of the way by boat.”

“Very good, sire.” Boris made a note of the names and then stood waiting. His boss continued to plough his way through breakfast, only his occasional sidelong glances showing that he was aware of Boris’ presence. It was as he relaxed with a cup of coffee that he resumed their conversation.

“What is it, Boris? You’ve been hanging around like a vulture at a feast.”

“It’s the Maldives, sire.” He spoke slowly, obviously choosing his next words carefully. “I was a bit surprised by your choice of destination.”

Gordian took another sip of coffee. “And why is that? You know I have a private island out there. It seems to me a pretty good place to sit back and watch the fun.”

“But I thought the islands were going to be underwater in a few years. With the rising sea levels and all that, I mean.” Boris was gaining in confidence as he explained his concerns. “It was just a week ago I was reading about how they only need a rise of a few feet and they’ll disappear.”

A burst of laughter from Gordian halted the manservant’s worried speech. “You believe that nonsense, Boris? But you actually helped in the dispersion of that global warming tripe in the first place. Surely you realised that the sea level thing was just part of the scam? Never noticed how all the rich were building themselves beachfront mansions? Never wondered why they would put themselves in the front line against the Great Sea Level Rise Scare they were selling to all who would listen?”

When he saw how Boris was squirming with embarrassment, Gordian laughed again. “Well, at least you prove that my scheme was even more successful than I’d thought. Lost the plot a little there, didn’t you, Boris?”

Boris could have been the model for the definition of the word “hangdog” at this point. “I guess you’re right, sire.” But he rallied when he saw that Gordian’s mood had been improved by his servant’s blunder. “It does seem a strange choice even so,” he said. “I’ve always thought you’d go to one of the centres of power when the time came. To be able to run things more immediately and directly. The Maldives are so far away from everything, after all.”

Gordian’s amusement has subsided now and he was looking intently at Boris. For a few seconds there was silence in the room and then Gordian began.

“That, Boris, is because you have never understood what we are engaged in here.” He held up a pudgy hand as Boris opened his mouth to speak. “No, just listen for a change, man. Of course you always thought that the plan was to take over the world and run it for my benefit from then on. And I admit that I did nothing to change your mind on that. We all have dreams, Boris, and I saw no need to disillusion you in your imagined ascent to power. But dreams dissipate in the morning and it’s time for you to wake up and grasp reality. The fact is, old friend, that we’re not going to be taking over anything.”

He paused then and Boris asked, “But what is it for then, sire? You have control of all the real power in the world. Surely you’re going to do something with it?”

Gordian smiled. “That, Boris, is the point. I’m not going to do anything. It’s time for the world to wake up and take responsibility. Those who think they run the world are going to find that nothing works for them as it did before. They will put forward their plans and I’ll meet them with the little word “no.” Whatever they try to do I will prevent. I’ll just sit there in the Maldives and refuse to bend to their pleading.

“And the net result will be that things begin to fall apart and run down. People will begin to wake up and see what a bunch of useless idiots have been voted into power. The people are not going to be very happy, are they?

"Effectively, Boris, I’m turning things over to the people who should have been running things all along. The people who keep things going, who find solutions to problems, who work with others to make the world a better place. It’s about time they had a real say in how things are done. They’re the ones who built the world as it is, after all.

“So now do you see, Boris?”

“I don’t know, sire. Seems to me a bit risky. You might be condemning everything to terrible revolution and destruction.”

Gordian nodded. “That’s true indeed. But it’s better than the path the present leaders had decided upon. At least with my way, civilisation stands a chance of assuming its responsibilities and finding the best way forward.”

“Damn,” said Boris. “I was so looking forward to being head minion.” They both laughed.

Word count: 1,994
For What a Character: Official WDC Contest, October 2023
Prompt: Write a story about a classic horror villain (vampire, werewolf, invisible man, mummy, Frankenstein, etc.) who's not a villain at all ... just misunderstood.

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