“You must understand, Mister Blonde, that there was no possibility of a normal childhood for me. To say that I was misunderstood is to suggest the possibility that other children might have comprehended even a part of who and what I am, and that has proven beyond the reach of adults—of even your own Secret Service, Mister Blonde. Even as a smaller, less-developed version of my real self, I could hardly be understood by my ‘peers’; I didn’t have any. Naturally, some of the more physically-inclined thought it might aid their understanding of me were they to blacken my eyes, bloody my nose, steal my schoolbooks. Someday, perhaps, on a whim, I will show some mercy, and send a few telegraphs letting the authorities know where to find their bodies. Or what’s left of them, at any rate.
“When I was eighteen, I was in possession of my full physical faculties, and my studies in the assorted philosophies of worthwhile predecessors had imbued me with a strategic knowledge and a phlegmatic nature. Most people underestimate Nietzsche’s ‘Will to Power’ for a simple reason: they want to believe less of those ideas. They don’t want to believe that power, power for its own sake, power unencumbered by the desire for the material, or a need for the erotic, is, in and of itself, a purifying element; you do not need what the weak-minded would consider “subservience” in order to gain it. It comes from calm in the face of that which inspires fear and anxiety; from coolly taking risks and opportunities others would avoid because those persons are wholly unable to handle the burden of potential failure.
“It was natural to go into biochemical research. The technologies were evolving at a rate which was quite perceptible to anyone who wanted to look, and the possibilities were, if not endless, close enough to be a reasonable substitute thereto. Make a few molecular alterations, and you’ve got a drug with enough highs to make everything else feel unimportant. Or you’ve got a steroid which lets any fool be the action hero of the last film she saw….for a time, and for a price. Or one might produce a stimulant which replaces sleep almost entirely; I don’t like to dream, Mister Blonde, and I haven’t done so for years now.
“I realize this all sounds like something you’d see in a poorly-written film, and that’s part of the charm. We all like to live out the images of our icons, be the shadows we project on the wall, tall and dark and ill-defined, rather than actual, weak physical creatures of altogether too-solid flesh.
“It’s been a pleasant empire, Mister Blonde, but it was never a permanent idea. The only drug kick which is endless is the one which is superseded, at its apex point, by death. To give a pertinent example, even the finest stimulant is imprecise, cannot wholly replace proper somnia, and so, while I feel little physical fatigue, there is a scarab carving away at me from the inside. My time is, as they say, borrowed, and soon the world will call in that debt.
“I’m not a fool, and I’ve no illusions about how long I’ll remain free and alive once they find your body, or traces of its removal; and I’m sure they’ll manage one or the other. You’re much too talented not to have left some trace, gotten out some message; I’ve read your file, and it seems to be part of that extraordinary vitality and life force which make you such an impressive tool of your government—or, as I suppose you’d say, rather more romantically, of such useful service to Crown and Country.
“My consolation is that it will be your body; I appreciate the subtlety with which you’ve been working at your ropes, and had I not been watching for it (but who would read your file and not expect resistance?)—I assure you I wouldn’t have noticed. So do let your sense of professionalism be assuaged by the recognition that your escape attempt would, under many circumstances, have succeed. But that numbness in your hands isn’t simply a restriction of circulation due to the rather tight knots; it’s poison. A poison of my own devising; not that there aren’t suitable toxins already on the market, but we all have our little vanities, and creating the right chemical for the job is one of mine.”
“Certainly, drugs are inexact. It’s not as if there are no risks associated with letting a living enemy get within spitting range, particularly one as formidable as yourself. But it’s deeply affirming to have a chance to tell my story to a real connoisseur, and how many people in the world would truly appreciate what I’ve done? Most would be awed or horrified; only another killer, one of cunning and experience, could really get me. My therapist suggested that talking to a peer might have a positive effect on my emotional balance, and I have to say that it gives one a real feeling of connection with the rest of humanity to speak to another monofocused sociopath. You were so intent on removing your bonds and, thereafter, my life that—I presume—you didn’t even notice the drugs taking hold. That’s dedication. I can empathize.
“I believe you’re either unconscious, dead, or faking it now. But I need to be sure, and you’ve seen fit to relieve most of my staff of their lives. So before I check for a heartbeat, I am going to pump your body full of bullets. Messy, but smarter than approaching a master of hand-to-hand combat without first pulverizing the body. Low risk, high impact; you’re almost certainly not in a position to harm anyone ever again, but if you are alive, you’re going to be rather upset. Only Rasputin’s been known the survive both poison and the gun, Mister Blonde; but in that case, I highly suspect incompetence on the part of the poisoners.
“I’d say ‘Goodbye’, but I strongly suspect it’s rather too late. Sorry about that, old chap. If I capture another agent of your calibre, I’ll remember to get the social niceties done while there’s still a pulse.”
This isn’t intended as a Bond parody—the world has enough of them. (Sure, the name’s clearly Bond-derived, but I tried several other cognomens, and none of them worked. I wanted to try “Mister Churl”, as I thought it was a neat little literary reference, but it simply offended my ear.)
What I wanted was a chance to make a small point or two about the infamous Villainous Monologue, and there are few people whose villains have more iconic monologues than Ian Fleming’s Bond.
That’s not coincidental; I’d argue that Fleming’s villainous monologues actually make sense for those characters. Yes, “monologuing” involves telling your life’s story to a resourceful enemy, which is a massive danger; but the world of the books made it quite clear that Bond was often impressed and frankly intimidated. And as Bond’s emotional state was a real factor in his performance, you could easily argue that there was real advantage to be had.
Then again, I feel that the best of Bond has always been in his struggle. Oh, I get a thrill when James fires a brilliant shot or when Daniel Craig does some stunning parkour. But whatever challenges one might have either with Mr. Bond or Mr. Fleming, I find that some of 007’s best moments happen when he’s out of his depth, and some of those are when he’s having conversations with his adversaries. Bond is smart, but most of his antagonists are smarter; they’re almost always geniuses. They have to be, to break society in the ways that they do.
But that’s another story.
A bit about me:
Dark Lord Jeff Mach is a writer and creator who has long aspired to be the sort of person who neither needs to promote his other work at the bottom of his short stories, nor need speak of himself in the third person. Sadly, in both regards, he has failed.