Harold strolls up to me while I’m sitting at my computer typing. I feel his presence before he speaks, and I look up.
“Harold Martin,” he says, shaking my hand and sitting down across from me. “But you can call me King.” His air is self-deprecating arrogance, as if the arrogance was a put-on, but I can feel the tentacles of the con reaching out for me.
“Hello, Harold,” I respond firmly. “What can I do for you?”
“I have a favor to ask,” he said smoothly. “No — hear me out.”
I sat there, waited for the pitch.
“You’re writing this book, right? The one where people keep messing up my arm?” He gave me a knife-sharp smile. “There’s no reason you couldn’t let me win, right?”
“Well, except for the fact your goal is the obliteration of humanity, no.” I paused, curious. “Why do you want to obliterate humanity?”
“I want to be best at something. To do something nobody else has done.” His eyes glittered, and I understood at that moment that the suave exterior contained an evil insanity.
I spoke carefully, knowing that I sat across from a madman. “Why do you have to be the best?”
“My brother was always the best. My father said I wasn’t manly enough, and he did anything he could to make me more manly. It worked — I became what my father wanted. Still it wasn’t enough; my brother got all the compliments. I finally found a way to deal with both my father and brother, who disappeared in 2003. Families go missing all the time.” He smiled, and this time it was a genuine smile that reached his eyes.
I felt my muscles crawl, and I counted the steps to the exit.