Have you ever wondered about those henchmen who work for evil mastermind villains in action movies? Where did they come from? What do they do all day? How did they get their jobs?
Find out in the darkly comic short story, “Henchmen Wanted,” about a group of mercenaries who are guarding a secret mountain base when an unexpected visitor shows up.
Read a free sample of the 6,000-word short story below.
(Note: Henchmen have filthy mouths, so warning for explicit language.)
Tim Barry Jr.
“This is one odd fucking job,” says Vargas.
We stand strapped to alpine skis on the top of a snow-covered mountain, staring at a breathtaking view of the Swiss Alps. I can see for hundreds of miles in all directions, and there’s not another soul in site.
“Yeah,” I say, “but it’s the best fucking job in the world.”
“Fucking amen.” Vargas takes a swig from a flask. He and I just finished a run down the north face of the mountain—nothing but fresh powder. Now we’re staring down the south face slopes, also covered with fresh snow as soft as cotton. We basically have the entire mountain to ourselves, get to ski all day long, never have to wait in a lift line, and best of all, it’s free. Actually, it’s better than free. We get paid to do this shit. This is our job.
“Want a shot?” Vargas offers me the flask and I take a swig of vodka so cold I can barely taste it. “Twenty bucks says I beat you to the base!” Vargas launches himself off the cliff.
“You dick!” I spin the top on the flask closed and tuck it into my jacket pocket. Stabbing my poles into the snow, I launch myself off the cliff to chase Vargas down the slope.
The Craigslist post was titled “Armed Guards Wanted.”
I was sick of my job at the time (mall security guard) and was looking for something with a little more action, so I clicked the link.
“Experienced security guards wanted for remote research institute.” I had three years of experience, and “remote research institute” sounded a hell of a lot more intriguing than “suburban mall.”
“Must be proficient with firearms (long and short-range).” I had played paintball every weekend since I was nine years old. They called me Banksy because I painted so many people with my gun.
“Military training preferred.” I had played thousands of hours of Call of Duty on Xbox—close enough.
“Must be willing to relocate abroad.” I had no girlfriend, and I was itching to get away from my parents, who were constantly nagging me about said lack of girlfriend.
“Risk for injury or death. Must sign release form.” No big deal. I had to sign one of those release forms every time I played paintball. I even had to sign one to jump at an indoor trampoline park.
“Client’s name and research is confidential. Must sign non-disclosure agreement.” I had no problem with that either. The secrecy only made me more intrigued.
“Pay is minimum wage, but food and lodging are provided for duration of service.” As it was, I was barely making above minimum wage at the mall, and most of my paycheck was going towards food and rent anyway. With food and lodging provided, anything this place paid me would be gravy.
“Must know how to ski.” That was the clincher for me. I didn’t know how it related to security, but the only thing I loved more than paintball was skiing.
I typed up a cover letter and emailed my resume on the spot. Two weeks later, I got a phone call saying I’d been accepted for the job, and they flew me out to their “remote” headquarters in the Swiss Alps.
Vargas beats me down the slopes, thanks to his head start. I spot him waiting at the mid-base tram station, staring up the mountain at me with a smug grin.
“You’re fucking slow!” He laughs.
I speed down the hill then turn sideways to skid to a stop a couple of feet before Vargas, spraying snow all over his smug face.
“You’re fucking snow!” I laugh myself.
“You son of a—” Vargas slings an AK-47 off his back and aims the automatic rifle at me. “Who’s laughing now, bitch?”
I stop laughing as I stare down his barrel. “Still me.” I laugh again. “Your safety’s on, you fucking idiot.”
“Shit…” Vargas laughs along with me. “Like we’re ever going to have to use these fucking things.” He slings the rifle back over his shoulder. “Give me that flask.”
Over two years at this job, and I haven’t had to fire my gun once. I mean, I’ve fired it plenty of times, just for fun, but I haven’t had to fire it. Not at a person. Not even at a wolf or a bear.
They made a big deal about the injury and death risk when I signed the release form, but that’s probably because of some legal requirement. My client’s just covering his ass for the one in a million chance something bad actually happens.
So far, the only injury I’ve suffered was while skiing a few months ago. I got a little too fancy and tried to do a three-sixty off a cliff jump, but fell on the landing and sprained my ankle. I normally never fall skiing, but it probably didn’t help that I was drinking at the time. The injury kept me off the slopes for a couple of days, but I’ve been fine since.
As for the “client,” I don’t know his or his company’s name. I still haven’t met the guy. I don’t know what kind of research he does, either. He stays locked inside his facility at the peak and travels up and down the mountain via the tram. Why put your headquarters in the Swiss Alps when you don’t even ski?
We security guards stay in a separate facility at the base. There’s seven of us, and we alternate shifts to cover the twenty-four-hour operation. The work hours are long, but you can hardly call skiing and riding snowmobiles all day, “work.” All we have to do is patrol the mountain, armed with AK-47’s, and make sure there are no intruders. Yet during the two years I’ve been here, I haven’t encountered a single intruder once. Easiest job in the world.
“Vargas. Grant.” A voice speaks over our radios. “This is Hans, over.”
“What the fuck does he want?” Vargas takes another swig from his flask then hands it to me.
“He’s on radar duty,” I say.
One guard is always stationed to sit inside the radar facility on the top of the south face peak. Radar duty is one of the few downsides of this job. Stuck inside alone, staring at a screen for hours on end. Though when I’m on radar duty, I just drink beer and watch movies all shift long—can’t complain about that.
“Hans–that bastard–is probably just looking for someone to swap shifts with him so he can ski,” says Vargas.
I take a swig of vodka, which is even colder than before, then say, “Fuck that.” I love movies, but on a day like this, with the sun shining and the powder fresh, you’d have to kill me to get me out of these skis.
“What the fuck do you want, Hans?” says Vargas into his walkie-talkie.
“No one’s switching with you,” I say into my radio, cutting Hans off.
“No, guys, this is serious,” says Hans. “I think there’s an intruder.”