Love and Dread

Deep within the bowels of the Fortress of Maleficence, the super-villain known as Dread was having a rough time finding love. She had known that “Evildoer” was a lonely career choice when she made it, but when she decided to pursue her passion for destruction she assumed that eventually she would meet her partner in both crime and love.

This had not happened.

Sitting now at one of the many tables set up by the Society for Creative Anarchy in their secret Antarctic fortress, Dread was doing her best to find some hope that she might find someone tolerable enough to go to dinner with, or at least pleasant enough to plot the conquest of the world’s nations with over drinks. This small pearl of hope was swiftly disintegrating as her speed date with the hirsute fellow whose name-tag read “Smashsquatch” was reaching the end of its excruciating fifth minute.

So, what do you think of Bigfoot, then?” Dread asked, swirling her glass of absinthe and watching her green reflection dance circles in the tumbler.

Graaar.” Smashsquatch gave a non-committal groan and shrugged. Dread sighed and looked across the stark gray laboratory that was currently serving as the base of operations for the Society’s dating event. Brushed steel tables were scattered about the hall, illuminated by harsh fluorescent lights and the occasional pulse of Tesla coils. Pulling one matted rope of black hair out of her face, she watched the doomsday clock tick away the final seconds. Smashsquatch was vainly attempting to communicate with hand gestures and guttural noises when the air raid siren sounded three times to indicate this particular date was over. Dread looked over at Smashsquatch with cold indifference as he stood, grunted something friendly, and moved to the next table. She ticked the “Not Interested” box on her chart and gazed aimlessly around.

That was when she saw him. Two tables down and moving through the room with languid grace was the purple-caped man of her diabolical dreams. Narrow eyed with impossible cheekbones and blonde hair, he sat just one speed-date away. Dread felt her heart skip. Before she could catch her breath however, her next date arrived and plopped down in the seat across from her.

Hi there.” Dread’s new date grinned from behind welding goggles and dropped a pile of junk on the table between them. She looked down at his name-tag; “The Trapper.” She sighed softly; she hated men who felt the need to add “The” to their supervillain titles.

Hello.”

So, I see your name is Dread. Is that because of your dreadlocks? Can you, like, animate them Medusa-style and choke your enemies to death?” The Trapper fidgeted with a mousetrap, opening and closing it nervously.

No, I can’t animate my hair.”

Oh. I’m into traps. Booby traps, snares, punji pits – you name it, I can build it.” The Trapper snapped the mousetrap shut, narrowly missing his own finger. “Ambushes, when the mood strikes.”

Fascinating.” Dread sipped her absinthe. The clock ticked away, and The Trapper began to rattle off a catalogue of devices that interested him. He quickly faded into the background and Dread found herself watching the mysterious stranger in purple who was eliciting easy laughter from Madam Catastrophe just a table away. Dread, who had chosen her name based on her own constant sense of unease, felt something stir in her sinister heart. The Trapper was enthusiastically explaining the trigger mechanisms of beartraps when the air raid siren sounded thrice to indicate the end of the date. Dread blinked with surprise at how quickly the time had passed.

Great talking to you, Dread. I think we have a lot in common.” The Trapper grinned like a crocodile and shuffled to his next date, dragging his dangerous luggage behind him. Dread swiftly checked the “Not Interested” box and anxiously looked up. Excruciating seconds passed before her next date reached her table. She smoothed her dreadlocks back as he sat before her.

Hello there.” He smiled and his crystal blue eyes gazed deeply at her. Dread felt the lingering sense of disquiet lift from her shoulders and she smiled for the first time since she successfully infected her nemesis Captain Action with ebola. She looked down at her date’s name-tag, which read “Lothar.”

Hi. I’m Dread.”

Dread? What a beautiful name. Surely because of the feeling you inspire in your enemies?”

Dread laughed uneasily and nodded. She was having trouble speaking and blood seemed to be rushing to her cheeks.

Uh, yes, that’s it.”

Well, judging from the way I am currently feeling,” Lothar smiled brightly and leaned in slightly. “I must not be one of your enemies. Lucky me.” One flawless golden curl fell delicately across his brow and Dread felt practically faint. She couldn’t wait to tic the box marked “Interested” on her date card.

So, Lothar is an interesting name. Are you an alien or evil magician or something?” Dread rested her elbows on the table and gave him her full attention as the Tesla coils crackled romantically throughout the lab. Lothar placed one of his hands close to Dread’s.

Yes, something like that.”

They held each other’s gaze for a long moment, and Dread found herself awash in chemicals she normally used exclusively for mind-control serums. She was falling in love.

So, do you have a superpower, Lothar?”

I do.”

I’d love to see it,” Dread whispered softly.

It’d be my pleasure, gorgeous.” Lothar gently lifted his pencil up to eye level for Dread to see.

You see, Dread, my power,” He placed the black tip of his pencil gently down on his date card between them, “is heartbreak.”

Lothar checked the “Not Interested” box just as the air raid sirens sounded thrice, and a moment later was gone.

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