Benjamin sat at the kitchen table, ink spatters covered his hand. He was trying to write his essay for entrance to The Villain’s Academy.
He wasn’t completely sold on this idea. He was beginning to have doubts about this career path his mother was forcing down his throat. But then he didn’t have the energy for the arguments and the emotional games either. He scratched his first words, yet again.
I would be an excellent candidate because…
Benjamin crossed it out. It was the second time he’d used that phrase and he knew it was bad. His mother made sure he knew that. He just couldn’t get past that stupid starting. He sighed and began tapping his forehead in a steady beat, hoping to get the juices flowing, but really just driving himself mad. He got up and strode around the table. His mother entered. A basket of laundry on her hip. Her dark hair wrapped in rags. She was always picking up and dropping off laundry. He wasn’t sure when she actually washed it, but she did a lot of deliveries.
“Sit down and write.” His mother said dropping the basket by the door.
“I have been.” Benjamin slumped in his chair. He wished he were still young enough to cry, but then he wouldn’t be old enough to write an essay about why he should be allowed into the exclusive Villain’s Academy. Well, I can read and write.
That should put him over at least half the applicants. He scribbled it down half-heartedly. He wrote the next thing that came to his mind.
My mother is pretty insistent that I go. (She’s threatened to kill me if I don’t get in and do well.) So I am motivated.
He decided a list might be a good place to start. He was 12 and hadn’t as yet needed to write any essays, so he thought he deserved credit for the amount of time he was putting into this.
My father was a great Villain, so it’s in my blood.
Benjamin scratched that idea out. His mother wanted Benjamin to get in on his own merits and not on the tailcoats of his dead father’s success. He glared at his mother who was digging into a chest under her cot.
I love a good problem. I can work out a solution to most things.
He brushed the feather end of the quill under his chin as he thought.
Even my mother admits I’m very intelligent, if I am properly motivated. She believes the Academy will be that motivation.
I am excellent at working independent of others.
I am very familiar with working in the shadows.
I know how to be invisible when I need to.
I can move in complete silence.
I work well under pressure and threats.
I am experienced in dealing with fowl tempers and overly ambitious personalities.
I know how to lie.
I know when I’m being lied to.
I have been raised in a manipulative environment.
I can predict fairly accurately when someone is about to stab me in the back.
I am smart.
I can recognize the smell of at least 12 different poisons and know the best ways to mask them. (Though I haven’t yet successfully poisoned my mother.)
I am personally familiar with the effects of 12 different poisons.
My mother has thoroughly immersed me in all antidotes. (I carry a flask of universal antidote and drink it religiously after every meal.)
I can easily extract information from peasants without suspicion.
I can fake illness and injury convincingly.
“Let me see that.” His mother snatched the list. “Hmmm. Not bad. Though you’ve never been able to pick out when someone is lying to you, but then I guess you said that you knew how to lie.” She handed it back with a nod. “That’s a good start.”
This is a character sketch exercise I wrote in connection with my upcoming novel, The Villain’s Assistant.
Photo Credit: Hilke Kurzke