Prompt provided by Writer’s Digest. Your old villain quit over creative differences, so you’ve put yourself in charge of hiring a new villain for your novel. What questions do you ask? What does the new villain’s resume say? Write this scene as if it were a job interview.
“Come in,” I call towards the door as I shuffle my manuscript notes into a neat pile and set them to the side. The large solid oak door leading into my office creaks open and a tall slender woman with pale yellow hair curled into a low tight bun steps inside.
“Ms. Knowles,” she says warmly with a slight nod of her head. Her long black linen dress covers her from wrist to boot, her starched apron stiff and brighter than my freshly painted white walls.
“Agatha,” I smile in return. “Punctual as promised. Please, sit down.” She nods again, this time with a slight smile, and sits rigidly in the squashy leather chair across from me.
“So, tell me about yourself,” I say to her. She has maintained eye contact with me without so much as a blink. Her silvery blue eyes look like they belong to a shark, not this pretty, genteel sort of woman in her neatly ironed clothes.
“I’ve worked as a nurse at Holloswaithe’s Asylum for Lunatics since my sixteenth birthday,” Agatha says brightly. “Sixteen is the youngest one can be hired. I waited my whole life to work there, for Dr. Benek.”
“That’s not exactly a profession many little girls dream about,” I say to her, probing.
“Most little girls aren’t raised in asylums,” Agatha replies simply. “I was. My mother was a nurse there and I was brought up within the halls of Holloswaithe, learning from Dr. Benek. I know everything about Holloswaithe. I know its secrets.” She still doesn’t blink, her eyes fixed unflinchingly on mine, smiling slightly all the while. I begin to rub my right thumbnail, a nervous tick I’ve had since I was nine.
“What secrets?” I ask intrigued despite the light tingling along my spine.
“I know why the walls moan in the middle of the night,” Agatha says flatly, but there is a cruel sparkle in her eyes. “I know why empty rooms whisper. I know why women with sound minds whimper with fear. I know why graves appear in the Asylum cemetery before there’s a body to go inside.”
She keeps her cool lethal eyes on me, studying me. I wish she’d stop smiling. It adds to the danger of her countenance somehow.
“Does Dr. Benek know about these secrets? The villain I’m searching for needs to be untraceable, their closest friend wouldn’t suspect them of a harsh word, let alone murder,” I ask her as I learn forward, reminding myself that I’m the one in charge, it’s my story. Her smile disappears. The once cool silvery blue of her eyes darkens until they seem to go black.
“Dr. Benek is the reason for the secrets. I keep him safe, pure, without sin,” she says calmly. She reaches up to her neck, twirling a silver cross pendant hanging from a necklace between her thin alabaster fingers. “‘Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.’ That’s what God says, does He not, Ms. Knowles? I’m the best kept secret of Holloswaithe.”