The grand ballroom of the Elixir Spa Resort Hotel and Leisure Complex stood empty. Round tables stood around the perimeter of the room with round chairs around them, all positioned so they face into the room. Large glass doors at the entrance to the room were covered by heavy red velvet drapes, which hadn’t been cleaned in months. At the opposite end of the room, another table, a rectangular one, had been placed inside the room, with three chairs facing the door. A single chair was opposite, facing the three. A desk lamp on the table provided the only means of light in this part of the room, with other beams of light filtering through the gap at the centre of the curtains over the door at the other end.
Amidst a cacophony of clatter, laughter and shuffles, the doors burst open outwards, away from the room, and three figures fought with the red velvet to enter the room.
“Draw them!” one of the figures commanded, and walked across the room toward the rectangular table.
“Why us?” another figure asked, although the third had already pulled the curtains across as far as she could.
“Ew!” she said, blowing a bubble. “Dusty.”
“Never mind that! Take your seats!” the first man said, and the two followed the first to the table, who’d already sat on the centre seat facing the door. “Hurry! The first interviewee will be along shortly.”
The other man took his seat on the left of the man already seated, which would be on the right looking at them from the single chair. The woman sat on the other side, right or left, depending on the point of view.
“Papers! Papers!” the middle man said. “Get your papers ready!”
“They are ready!” the other man said, “They’re on the table in front of us. Maybe you should have gone for a brighter bulb.”
“No. This is bright enough. We need to be dark. Menacing.” The first man glared at his colleague.
“But you can be dark and menacing without being actually in the dark.” The woman said, blowing another bubble. “Besides, it’s so bright outside, it makes being in here even more darker. Maybe I should open the curtains…”
“No!” the middle man interrupted. “This lighting is fine. Pen! Pen! Have you got a pen?”
“They’re on the table in front as well.” sighed the second man.
“Time! What time is it?” the middle man bellowed.
“It’s 12:30.” The woman checked her watch. “I think.” She twisted her arm toward the lamp for a better view.
“Fine. Not long to wait now.”
The woman felt a sudden shaking on her left shoulder. “Wha? Where?” she asked, as she started to chew her gum again.
“You’ve been asleep for hours.” The man who sat in the middle said, in a disapproving tone.
“Hours?” she looked at her watch again, and in the dull light saw it was now 9:25. “Nine hours? I’ve been asleep for nine hours?”
“And you snore. Very annoying.” The man at the other side of the man in the middle said.
“Why didn’t you wake me sooner?” the woman asked. “I’ve not slept through the interviews, have I?”
“No, you haven’t slept through.” The middle man said. “Nobody’s turned up yet.”
As if on cue, the curtains over the door parted in the centre, and another figure entered the room. “Hello…” he said, quietly. “Is nobody there?”
“Yes. We’re here.” The middle man said, very disgruntled. “Get over here and take a seat.”
“Where are… ah… I can’t see you.” The man walked across the dance floor and took a seat in the empty wooden chair. “The light’s a bit dark in here, don’t you think?”
“No. We need it that way.” The woman said, blowing another bubble. “It’s dark and moody.”
“Menacing.” Said the man who sat facing the new man’s right.
“Now we’ve that sorted, let’s begin. I am the Dropped Apostrophe.” declared the man in the middle. “To my left is Matthew Mist and on my right is Bubblegum. Firstly, what is your name?”
“I am the Opposite Man.” said the man opposite.
“Yes, but what is your name?” the Apostrophe asked again.
“I think that is his name.” Bubblegum said, squinting at the badly printed and dribble-smeared row of text at the top of a sheet of paper before her.
“The Opposite Man?” Apostrophe asked with ridicule. “Do you have any type of super power?”
“No.” answered the Opposite Man.
“No?” the Apostrophe repeated. “What kind of super criminal are you?”
“I’m not.” The Opposite Man said with a smirk, although the three sat opposite him at the table couldn’t see it.
“So you’re telling me you have applied to join the world’s premier supervillain team without a superpower and without being a super criminal?” Tension in the Apostrophe’s voice was coming through clearly.
“No.” The Opposite Man answered.
“No?” The Apostrophe was confused.
“Are you trying to confuse us?” Matthew asked, hoping he would be able to calm the Apostrophe down somewhat.
“No.” The Opposite Man replied.
“You like one word answers, Op Man, don’t you?” Bubblegum asked.
“No.” The Opposite Man smirked again. “But I think you’re feeling my super power.”
“You’ve just this minute told us you have no super power.” fumed the Apostrophe.
“I didn’t.” The Opposite Man held back his laughter.
“Yes you did.” The Apostrophe’s voice was now two octaves higher. “I asked you if you had a super power and you said no. Is that not right?”
“Yes, it isn’t right.”
“Yes it isn’t…”
“So your power is confusion?” Matthew Mist asked, trying to work out what was going on.
“Yes.” Said the Opposite Man, “but no.”
“Yes but no?” Matthew screwed his face. “What do you mean by that?”
“Yes, but no. My power isn’t confusion, but it is.”
“Eh?” the Dropped Apostrophe sat back in his chair.
“Am I still asleep?” Bubblegum asked, blowing yet another bubble. “I feel like I’m dreaming.”
“You’re not dreaming,” Matthew answered, “this is real.”
The Opposite Man looked at Bubblegum. He squinted hard and focussed on her cheek, where he could make out what looked like printed letters.”Call me Tom,” he said. “Op Man is somebody else completely.”
“Tom,” Bubblegum asked, “just tell me what is your power? We’ve been here all day waiting for you to arrive, and none of us are ready for guessing games.”
“You’ve been asleep for most of it.” Snarled the Apostrophe, “but that’s a valid question. Answer.” He seemed to calm a little as he looked at the Opposite Man opposite, through the dull light.
“I answer questions opposite to what you expect.” He said, leaning back in his chair.
“So when you say ‘yes’, you mean ‘no’?” Apostrophe asked.
“No.” Tom replied.
Matthew Mist slumped forward onto the table and sighed heavily. “Hfmnoffstmmnpck.”
“What did you say?” Apostrophe asked.
“I think he was comparing Tom to you.” Bubblegum remarked, with a broad grin. She stood and held out her hand. “Welcome to the team, Tom!” she declared.
“Now wait a minute!” Apostrophe pounded the table.
Tom took Bubblegum’s hand and shook it. “Thank you. I won’t see you soon.” He stood and walked away from the table.
The Apostrophe watched in silence open-mouthed as he left. He turned to Bubblegum. “I am in charge of this team…” he started.
“Yeah, well,” Bubblegum blew a very large bubble, “I don’t see the point of these interviews if everyone’s in anyway! I just need to get some sleep and I’ll be right as rain tomorrow.”
Matthew sat back up into his chair. “Sense at last!” he sighed, “Sleep sounds very good right now.”
“Hopefully, more delegates will attend tomorrow’s session.” Apostrophe said. “Make sure you’re here early tomorrow.” He stood and walked out of the room without another word.