The Interview

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Marissa sat opposite him, far enough from the heavy stone desk that she could see her knees pressed together where they peeped out from beneath her freshly ironed deep-green skirt. The colour had been a gamble. She knew black was an immediate fail, far too predictable. Reds, in fact all of the hot colours, were out. Too bold for a sidekick. Blue was an option, but seemed to be the domain of the good and wholesome. Not appropriate for this interview, so that and the bargain price tag sealed her decision.

She looked up at Dr Precarious, his elbows on the desk with fingers steepled, pen balanced on their tips distractingly. "No. I never have. Not in any manner." One of the few interviews where no prior experience was a bonus. She studied his face, which revealed nothing. Only the new angle of the pen, still balanced indicated anything of a response. The pen still held her attention as he let it tilt past its balance point then, before it slid, bent his fingers and flicked them so that it went spinning into the air. As it spun in the air, he leant back on his transparent polymer chair. He had found his balance when the pen bounced on the stone and rolled towards the edge.

He was watching Marissa's eyes as she followed the pen to where it stopped, diagonally balanced over the edge, when he spoke, "Do you have any questions?"

Marissa had tonnes, but could not select from the catalogue and thought it bad taste to start alphabetically, so she made up a new one instead, "How soon do you intend to replace that acrylic chair with a genuine crystal one?"

Dr Precarious inclined his head until his neck gave an audible crack before straightening it again. "How do you know this one isn't genuine crystal?"

She knew. By the way the light bent through it with little change to colour, by the smudge marks that lacked definition, by the slight bend given away by changes in refraction as he breathed and most convincingly by the moulding edges that had never been smoothed over. She also knew that these wouldn't do. She needed to impress. "Crystal is much heavier. A good lead crystal would be pulling itself forward, back to the ground, causing you to learn further back than the light polymer requires. It would give you any even more relaxed posture."

He lifted his right finger and tapped it down on the balanced pen so that it spun into the air and landed against his chest, from where it slid into his left pocket. Then he stretched his arms back above himself and his legs forward so that the chair gently returned to four legs. Then he sat up straight, not touching the desk, but leant forward. He looked like he might be about to stand and Marissa pulled her heels under her ready to join him.

But he didn't. "Are you loyal?"

Ooh, the hard one. No point saying yes. He would never believe it and you would just be revealing yourself as deceitful. Saying no was equally just as bad because unless your sidekick is loyal, they are useless. Being ambiguous was the required position and he must have heard one hundred clever answers already. Sidekick positions didn't come up very often and she knew the competition was fierce. Can't be like all the others. "No. No I'm not loyal. But I'm extremely predictable, to the highly intelligent. I suppose you'd already guessed this'd be my answer."

Finally a response. A nod. The faintest of nods that may have sent waves through a glass of water, had it been balanced on his head, but certainly not enough to unbalance one from its honoured position.

Another hard question, "So why me?"

Pointing out that this was the first sidekick vacancy that had come up since she had come of age would be suicidal, so honesty was out of the question. This was a vanity question and she was sure the answer didn't relate to the job or her skills. "Ego." She deliberately left time for the word to sink in and start to irritate. "Every other super villain is hobbled by ego. Often so momentous that they barely function at all. You, on the other hand, have been so astonishingly effective that I had imagined you to have no issues with ego whatsoever."

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