Exercising the craft—February 1, 2016

By Ekta R. Garg

Prompt: The evil super villain and the hero are siblings. They still have dinner at Mom and Dad’s for the holidays.



Jack moved the poinsettia to his left hand and reached for the doorbell with his right. A gust of frosty wind gusted its way across his parents’ front porch, and he shivered before pressing the bell. The sound of a vehicle attracted his attention, and he turned to see an expensive car in jet black pull up to the curb. The driver side door opened, and a man wearing a chauffeur’s hat got out and jogged around the car. Jack watched as the chauffeur opened the passenger door closest to the curb and stood at attention.

A pair of long legs swung out, and a moment later Jack’s sister, Jill, ducked her head out of the car and presented herself to anyone who might have watched her arrival. Really, Jill didn’t know how to come to a place. She always had to land with a splash and rock more than the boat.

Jack watched as Jill came up the front walk.

Yeah, well, I’m not thrilled about seeing you either, Jack thought as he read her thoughts. And… He looked at the chauffeur. You really need to give your driver a vacation soon, or else you’re going to lose this one too. Man, J, how many guys are you going to go through? Do you really think sleeping with them justifies working them to death?

“Jackie!” his sister called, her voice light and airy as she came toward him. The fabric of her designer suit moved in fluid motions as she held out her arms to him. “My favorite twin. How are you?”

“I’m your only twin,” Jack said drily. He tapped Jill’s back with his fingertips, his version of a hug, and pulled away before she could squeeze any harder. “How are you?”

“I’m fabulous!” Jill said brightly. Without turning around, she held up a hand and motioned forward. The chauffeur jolted himself and went to the trunk, and Jack shook his head. The driver’s thoughts just became even more resentful as he pulled out an elaborately wrapped gift and brought it to Jill. She took it from him and shooed him away. The chauffeur went back to the car.

“How long do I have with him, Jackie?”

Jack watched the man a little longer. “If I’m being generous with my timeframe, probably a month.”

She sighed dramatically. “Well, I guess I knew that. I’ve already got my eye on a new friend anyway.”

As she tittered, Jack rolled his eyes. He turned around to face the door again, and just like that the driver’s thoughts slid out of his head. Jack wondered for the thousandth time how he’d acquired his superpower and at its limitations. If he couldn’t see a person, he couldn’t read their thoughts. The best results came when he could look the person in the eye, but it wasn’t strictly necessary.

“It was nice to see you in Beirut last month,” Jill said, and Jack heard a tinge of sarcasm at the edge of her voice. “Too bad you had to destroy all of my hard work there.”

Your hard work?” Jack countered, shifting the poinsettia in his hands once more. “Do you know how long the negotiations between those factions took? I spent months going back and forth with the ambassadors from six different countries and trying to help people regain some semblance of peace out there, and you come in with your long legs and your fake boobs and blow all of my efforts to pieces! What’s wrong with you, J?”

She narrowed her eyes, and Jack saw the woman most people probably encountered when they met her: the manipulator. The one who could also read thoughts…of a kind. She’d chosen many years ago to use her power for more sinister purposes, and something in that deliberate choice prevented Jill from reading the thoughts of everyone around her. The person had to possess some fundamentally evil element. It didn’t matter whether that element lurked around the corner of a façade or whether the perpetrator wore it like a coat for the world to see. Where evil thrived, so did Jill.

And Jack hated that about her.

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” she said, her voice changed. Its iciness rivaled the wind that had begun to bluster by in earnest. “You’re the one who lives in a fairyland, thinking peace actually has a chance, as delusional as a high schooler on crack. Grow up, Jackie. The world you want only exists in your head.”

Jack set his jaw and actually pressed the doorbell this time. He’d promised his mother he would show up for Christmas this year. Now he had to do everything he could to get in and out as fast as possible.

The havoc Jill wreaked always managed to keep him busy. Even during the holidays.