Beads of sweat dripped from his brow and stung his eyes. The blinding light in his face disguised the henchmen in the dark corners of the room.
“Do you know what this world needs, Mr. Baund?”
James Baund instantly recognized the bourgeois voice of the sinister Dr. Neaux. Baund nonchalantly pulled on the ropes that secured his wrists behind his back.
“I would say a truly excellent champagne.”
“Very drôle, Mr. Baund, but no. The world needs a great villain. Cunning. Diabolical. Elegant. A proper villain,” said Dr. Neaux.
“And you’re applying for the position.”
“Better me than some psychotic terrorist with no raison d’etre. It’s all death and destruction. No sense of sport at all,” said Dr. Neaux.
“What’s sporting about tying me to a chair?” asked Baund.
“Touché, Mr. Baund. Since I am a proper villain, I’ll give you a sporting chance. Let’s make it a test of our intellectual mettle. You may ask me a question. Any question at all. If I answer correctly, you die. If I am incorrect, you go free,” said Dr. Neaux.
“Very decent of you.”
“I must warn you, Mr. Baund. I’m rarely, if ever, wrong. Pose your question,” said Dr. Neaux. He pulled up a chair and sat next to Baund.
The two men sat in silence as James Baund considered his predicament. After a minute, he spoke. “Was Humpty Dumpty an egg?”
Dr. Neaux sat up with a shocked look on his face. He laughed diabolically. “You must have a death wish, Mr. Baund. Of course he was an egg. An egg-man.”
The corners of Baund’s mouth curled upward. “Is that your final answer?”
“Of course. Simple. You disappoint me,” said Dr. Neaux. He snapped his fingers.
“I hope that means you’re going to release me.”
“Look at the nursery rhyme. You’ll discover it doesn’t say what Humpty Dumpty actually was. You mistakenly assume he was an egg due to popular folklore. Now, if you’ll be so kind, these ropes are rather uncomfortable,” said James Baund.
Dr. Neaux conferred with his henchmen. One had already googled the nursery rhyme on his phone. The blood drained from Dr. Neaux’s face as he read.
“It seems you have outwitted me,” said Dr. Neaux. He walked behind Baund, pulled a gun from his coat and shot him in the head.
Dr. Neaux handed the gun to one of his henchmen. “Don’t be so surprised, gentlemen. I may not be elegant, but at least I win.”