Tag Archives: villains

My Favourite Bits…The Godsend [2]

I’m a little late with this post, but finding ‘favourites’ to post has been a lot harder than expected. Not because I don’t like The Godsend. Far from it. In some ways it’s my favourite part of the story because there’s a lot of action in it, and horrible choices, and gaming. But…that’s actually the problem. Most of my favourite bits are either spoilers for the whole story, or lose their impact without the context of what comes before. And that would be another spoiler.

So apologies, but no action bits. Instead, I’ve chosen a chapter called The New Girl. It’s not as long as it sounds and introduces a new employee to Innerscape. Her name is Marisa Bell, and she’s been recommended by the Chairman of the Board, Andrew Walker. CEO, Peter McAlister isn’t happy about having to find a place for the Chairman’s protégé, but he has to suck it up and make the best of it:

The New Girl

The taxi dropped Marisa Bell off at exactly 3:50 pm the next day, and Peter McAlister watched her every move through closed circuit holo as she swung muscular, silk-clad legs out of the taxi and adjusted her short grey skirt. The skirt was part of a retro power-suit that highlighted curvaceous hips and a narrow waist. Her bust, however, was surprisingly small.

Zooming in on the woman’s face, Peter saw bright red hair, attractive features, and deep green eyes. She was attractive enough but nothing out of the ordinary, certainly not the femme fatale he had been expecting.

If anything, Marisa Bell looked more challenging than seductive, a far cry from Andrew Walker’s normal squeeze. The current Mrs Walker was a pneumatic blond with more ambition than brains, and the previous Mrs Walker had been same, both of them airheads, except when it came to money.

Had Andrew Walker finally changed his taste in women? Or was his story about a ‘friend’ actually true?

Shrugging slightly, Peter turned off the surveillance display and sat back in his deep, comfortable chair. True or not, Marisa Bell was now his problem. But at least she looked smart, which might help with Emily.

As the Nursing Liaison of Patient Care, Emily could not refuse a direct order, but she could make life very unpleasant for Marisa Bell, if she chose to do so.

If that happened, Peter would have to ‘rescue’ the Chairman’s protégée by placing her in another department somewhere, or taking her into his own office, heaven forbid-

The chiming of the comms unit broke into Peter’s thoughts, and he sat up straighter as his secretary, James, announced the arrival of Ms Bell.

“Any word from Emily Watson yet?” Peter asked.

“Not yet, sir,” James said. “Should I offer Ms Bell some refreshment while she waits?”

“Yes, good idea. Oh, and let me know as soon as Emily gets here.”

“Yes, sir.”

Rising from his chair, Peter walked to the huge plastiglas window that took up one entire wall of his office and stared out at the gardens. The rain had stopped, but the unseasonal weather continued. He hated waiting, for anything.

 

* * *

 

Emily had always meant to be a little late, just to keep Peter McAlister off balance, but just before she was due to leave, a genuine emergency had cropped up, making her well and truly late. And now she was busting to go to the bathroom.

Well, they’ll just have to wait a bit longer, she thought as she came out of the elevator and headed straight for the Ladies room.

Beautifully appointed, with flattering lighting and not a single full length mirror in sight, the executive bathroom was usually a treat Emily liked to savour slowly. Today, however, she was in a hurry and barely noticed that one of the stalls was already occupied.

When she came out a short time later, a woman in a well-cut grey suit with rich red hair done up in a chignon, was washing her hands at one of the white marble sinks.

Innerscape did not get too many casual visitors. Could this be her?

Acting on impulse, Emily smiled at the woman in the mirror as she washed her own hands.

“I always love using this bathroom,” she confided. “Makes me feel important.”

“Oh, but nurses are important!” the woman said with a quick smile of her own. “My mother was a nurse, and the stories she told us about doctors! Make your hair stand on end.”

“Are you a nurse, too?” Emily asked.

“Me? No, I was never smart enough. I just do filing and that sort of thing, although I’ve been told I’m a good listener. Sometimes patients need a friendly ear, you know?”

“Very true,” Emily said. “As nurses we try to provide emotional support as well as medical support, but the medical has to come first.”

“Oh, I’m sorry!” the woman said, her expression horrified. “I didn’t mean to imply that nurses didn’t listen. I just meant-”

“No, it’s fine. I’d be lying if I said we can be all things to all people. So what are you doing here today? Do you have a relative coming to Innerscape?”

“Oh, no. I…I’m here for a job interview.”

“A job interview? Oh, how silly of me!” Emily said. “You must be Marisa Bell!”

“I…yes?” the other woman replied, her expression uncertain.

“Not to worry,” Emily said. “You’ll be working in my department, so Peter McAlister asked me to sit in on the interview.”

“I hope I didn’t offend you-”

“Far from it. I like honesty. I think we’ll get along just fine.”

“Thank you, that means a lot to me.”

“Well, we’d better go, or Peter will fire us both!”

 

* * *

 

“So what do you think?” Peter McAlister asked after Marisa Bell had gone.

“She’s nothing like I thought she’d be,” Emily answered slowly.

You can say that again, Peter thought. He was still having trouble reconciling the competent woman he had seen getting out of the taxi with the sweet creature who had just left his office.

“But she does seem…very nice,” he said, wondering if Emily had picked up anything odd.

“Yes, she does,” Emily said with a frown. “I just hope she isn’t too kind hearted. Sometimes Patient Care can be rough.”

“She’s probably stronger than she looks,” Peter said carefully.

At one level he was glad Emily had taken to Marisa Bell, but on another he could not shake the feeling there was more to Marisa Bell than met the eye.

“I hope so,” Emily said as she rose to leave, “because I think she’ll actually make a great addition to our staff.”

“Well, that’s good news,” Peter said. “Keep me posted.”

“Of course,” Emily said with a laugh. “But I don’t think there’ll be much to report.”

I hope not, Peter thought as Emily bustled out. I really hope not because I’ve got enough on my plate already.

 

I hope you enjoyed meeting Marisa Bell. Apart from Miira herself, Marisa is my favourite female character. She’s ‘bad and mean’, to quote from the Louis the Fly commercial, and yet she’s not all bad. She likes cats, and dreams of owning her dream home one day. And she’s broken.

As a student of human nature, I’ve always been fascinated by why people turn out the way they do, what makes them tick. In my not so humble opinion, we are all the result of nurture on nature. In other words, our experiences act on our innate traits to mould us into the adults we eventually become. Nowhere is this process more stark than in the people [or characters] we call villains.

To an outsider looking in, all villains may appear the same. They do bad/cruel/vicious things so they are bad, cruel, and vicious. But very few people see themselves as evil. In fact, to quote Rebecca Solnit ‘We are all the heroes of our own stories…’ And that includes ‘villains’. They do not see themselves as bad. And unless they are born psychopaths who really don’t care, they find reasons to excuse their bad behaviour, or diminish its ‘badness’.

So, is Marisa Bell truly bad? Mwhahahaha! You’ll have to read the book to find out. 🙂

cheers
Meeks


Villains – what is it that makes them so sexy?

I was reading an excellent post by Alex Laybourne today in which he asked who we [writers] preferred to write about – heroes or villains.

My immediate response was ‘villains of course!” And then I started wondering why that reaction had been so instant. That lead to thoughts about villains in books that I had read or in movies I had seen. Almost without fail the most interesting characters were always the villains. Why?

In movies, villains are often portrayed as hunky guys oozing danger and sex appeal in equal measure so the attraction is not hard to understand but why does the same thing happen in so many books as well? After all, the author may describe a villain as ‘handsome’ but handsome is just a word and does not have the impact of a three-quarter profile in a close-up. Besides, in books it’s usually the personality that I find myself attracted to anyway.

I’ll admit that for quite a long time I thought there was something a little bit wrong with me until I started talking to other women about this bad-boy phenomenon and discovered that I was not alone. And it’s not something restricted to my generation either –  no.1 daughter is the same and when we first started playing rpg’s together guess who got our attention? Was it Cloud from Final Fantasy 7? Hah! Of course not. How could that angsty namby pamby compete with Sephiroth? I mean come on… even as a pixelated animation that long silver hair was just….

Ahem. I think I’ve made my point. There is something about a good villain that is exciting and yes, sexy and has as much to do with how quickly we turn the pages as any empathy we may feel for the hero of the piece.

Now I need to make a very important point here. When I talk about sexy villains I am NOT talking about romance novel villains. Or heroes.  I am talking about characters in science fiction novels and fantasies and thrillers and, of course, who dunnits. These villains are not out to seduce anyone yet so often they end up being seductive anyway. Why is that?

The only answer I can think of is that the author subconsciously projected that element of seductiveness without knowing that he/she was doing so. Furthermore I think that this element of seductiveness has something to do with the cold, calculating exercise of power. And success. No matter how cold or calculating a villain may be if he is an incompetent bungler then sex appeal goes flying out the window.  And he can’t whinge or whine either – that’s another huge turn-off.

So what the hell is it about villains?  I do have some suspicions but rather than launching into some long analysis that will probably end up being painfully boring I’m going to end this post with a book, a villain, a question and a challenge.

The book : Otherland

The villain : Dread

The question : Did you find Dread as compelling as I did?

The challenge : Name your favourite villain [and the book he/she appeared in] and say why in 500 words or less [preferably less!]

May the power of the pen be with us 🙂

 


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