An excerpt from “Scorned” in The Lavender Menace

The Lavender Menace: Tales of Queer VillainyThe Lavender Menace: Tales of Queer Villainy is available now from Northwest Press. Edited by Tom Cardmone (a Lambda Literary Award-winning author in his own right), it contains thirteen stories of queer supervillains by writers including Hal Duncan, Charles “Zan” Christensen, ’Nathan Burgoine, and… oh, that’s right, ME!

To give you a preview, here’s the first part of my story, “Scorned”:

“You’re new.”

Marcus Harris had never seen the woman standing in the visitor’s vestibule adjacent to his cell, but her white coat, worn over a charcoal business suit, blared “psychologist.” She wore glasses and kept her curly blonde hair shoulder length. Sitting in the plastic chair reserved for visitors (who never came), she crossed her legs and settled a clipboard over her knees. When she smiled at him, it was completely unconvincing.

“I’m Dr. Emily Wheeling,” she said. “The warden asked me to come see you this morning and ask you a few questions.”

“Oh, is it morning?” Marcus asked, sarcasm edging into his voice. “It’s so hard to tell in here since I don’t have ready access to a clock. Or sunlight. Where’s Dr. Mathis?”

Dr. Wheeling looked down at her clipboard. “He had an unfortunate encounter with a homemade knife in one of the other wings, but I’m told he’ll make a nearly complete recovery.”

“That’s a pity. So why does the warden want you to speak with me?” Marcus asked, even though he knew the answer.

Dr. Wheeling tilted her head so she was looking over her glasses. “I think we can both say we know why, so let’s not start off like that, shall we?”

Marcus smiled. He liked her directness. “Please convey my apologies about his badge.”

“He was a bit more displeased with the second-degree burns to his chest.”

“I know he was attached to that badge, though.”

“Well, fortunately the surgeons were able to remove it successfully.”

Marcus said nothing in response. She was tapping her pen against the clipboard, whether out of nervousness or boredom, he couldn’t be sure. It was a felt-tip pen, of course. They were taking no chances with him now, it seemed. It also seemed like she wasn’t going to speak again unless he did first. He held out as long as he could stand the silence, which wasn’t long.

“So,” Marcus said, painfully aware that she had succeeded in waiting him out, “aren’t you supposed to ask me questions?”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “How are you?”

“How do you think I am?” he asked, not even bothering to mask his anger with sarcasm.

She leaned forward, clasping her hands on top of the clipboard. “Not well, Mr. Harris.”

For some reason, hearing her say his name—his regular name, not Megawatt, his alter ego—sent him over the edge. He launched himself at the barrier and slammed his palms against it. From past experience, he’d learned that open palms made much more noise than fists.

What the hell do you expect?