Red Lettering is doing a Get to Know Your Characters Challenge (https://craftingstoriesinred.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/get-to-know-your-characters-challenge-right-hand-man/)
The options were:
- Your villains right-hand man is between three and ten. Write something that shows what their life was like at that point.
- Write about the time when your villain and his (0r her) right-hand man (or woman) met.
- Write about a time when your villain and right-hand man were interacting normally. Let us know how they talk to each other, what sort of friendship (or enmity) they have.
- Write about a year before the start of your story.
- Your character has lost something important—what is it, where is it, and why do they need it?
I picked the third. So… Here it is!
Graham looked up from his book. “Ah! Audrey.”
The young woman smiled faintly, her heels clicking quietly on the tile floor as she approached.
“Hallo, Graham.” Audrey said softly, sitting on the bed beside his wheelchair.
“How are you?” He asked, absently rubbing his thumb against the armrest.
She shrugged a bit. “I’m okay. I bit tired, but okay.” She paused for a moment. “Do you… Need me today?”
The older man nodded. “I’m afraid I do. It shouldn’t take long, though.”
She smiled, but even Graham could tell it was faked. “Let’s do it, then.” She said, and slipped her hand into his, immediately flinching. “You’re so cold.”
“Ah. The room’s a bit cold.” He said, glancing at the open window. “Not too much, though.” He said, “Go on.”
Audrey took a deep breath and closed her eyes, her grip tightening on Graham’s hand.
His vision faded slowly, and he closed his eyes, feeling his other senses leave him.
When he opened them again, he was looking at himself, seemingly asleep in the wheelchair. He slowly became aware of the bed under him, and the sound of cars outside the open window.
“You’re getting better at that, Audrey.” He said, through her mouth, his voice now that of a young woman’s.
“Thank you.” Came her soft reply, directly into his—or her—mind.
Graham dropped his own body’s hand, glancing with faint disgust over his white-haired, one-armed self, confined to a wheelchair for life.
He shook his head slightly, and walked toward the elevator door, muttering under his breath. “Let’s do this.”
Graham could feel Audrey’s curiosity at the back of his mind, but she knew better than to ask. He blocked it out.
He stopped in front of the elevator and lifted his hand to press the button, but the door slid open before he could.
He froze, watching the surprise flicker across the man’s face. The face he knew so well.
“Oh. Excuse me, Miss. I was just coming to see Mr. Bauer.”
Graham’s hand closed around the hilt of the knife he had insisted Audrey wear. He nodded toward the young man’s jacket.
“With a gun?”
Emotions flickered across the young man’s face, one after the other. So easy to read.
“N-no… I always carry this.”
“You didn’t used to.” Graham said, pausing for effect. “Gerald.”
The boy froze. “I’m sorry… Have we met before, Miss?”
“Yes.” Graham said, meeting his gaze. “Yes, we have.”
The young man stared at Graham’s eyes, his forehead wrinkling in confusion. “You seem familiar, but I can’t quite figure out…”
“I wouldn’t expect you to remember. It’s been at least a century.”
The young man froze for a half-second, then took a step back. “Graham.”
Graham stepped into the elevator, slipping the knife from the sheath. “Oh, so you remembered? I’m flattered.”
“How did you…? Whose body do you have?”
“If it bothers you,” Graham said, ignoring his question, “She volunteered.”
The young man’s gaze flickered from Audrey’s face to something over her shoulder, and back again.
“What is it, Gerald? Afraid you’ll hurt the lady, too?” Graham asked. “Well, you can’t get to me while I’m in here, so forget it.”
“Graham… I… I only wanted to speak with you, to—”
“To come at me when I was vulnerable?”
“No! No, that’s not it! I wanted to…” He trailed off.
Graham stepped forward, hissing through Audrey’s teeth. “Apologize?”
The young man faltered, then nodded, shifting his gaze away.
“It’s too late for that.” Graham growled, then dove at him, slamming him against the wall of the elevator with the knife pressed against his neck.
Graham could plainly see the fear, and perhaps hurt, on Gerald’s face, but the young man was perfectly still.
“Sorry,” Graham hissed, “Isn’t enough.”
A wave of fear and horror swept over Graham’s mind, and with it, the image of a masked man with a knife. Graham jerked back slightly, still keeping the knife against Gerald’s throat. “Graham, I can’t…” Audrey’s voice trailed off into a shuddering breath.
Something slammed against Graham’s chest, throwing his host body against the door of the elevator.
“Sorry, Miss.” Gerald grunted, scrambling to his feet. He pressed a button on the side of the elevator and ran out the doors as they opened.
Gasping for breath, Graham stood up, slipping out the elevator door in time to see Gerald drop off of the fire escape.
By the time he got over there, Gerald was on the pavement and jogging toward a car.
Taking a deep breath, Graham walked back over to the bed, sheathed the knife, and sat down, setting his hand on top of his own body’s hand. He closed his eyes.
This time, he felt Audrey strain, but when he opened his eyes, he was back in his wheelchair, his senses slowly returning to his body again.
He looked over at Audrey, who had a somewhat dazed expression on her face.
She took a deep breath, and Graham noticed the slight tremble in it.
“You…” She shook her head, dashing away the tears that were already making their way down her cheeks.
She leaned against his shoulder, whispering so soft that Graham almost did not hear her. “I hate doing that for you.”
He stroked her hair, feeling her tears soak through his shirt.
“I know, darling, I know. Not much longer.”