Failure Is Not An Option

Failure Is Not An Option

by Mike Olley

“LAUNCH SEQUENCE INITIATED,” a stark electronic voice uttered, echoing round the vast rock-hewn bunker. Once the severity of this message sank in, panic spread among the uniformed ground-workers who fled this way and that. The lights dimmed. Which didn’t help.

“Oh dear.” From the extreme comfort of his all-seeing lair, located high up in the cavernous space, über-villain Blomfeld, swivelled hesitantly in his chair. He stared at a handheld tablet, his finger hovering with uncertainty above the touchscreen. Damn this new technology, he thought, in the old days world domination was achieved by pushing a big red button to fire missiles, nowadays it was all done with apps. With this sort of specialist doomsday software there was no tech support; an oversight on Blomfeld’s part as, regrettably, the über-master had terminated the young whizz-kid developer. Blomfeld sighed, he’d have to resolve the situation himself. In the next three minutes.

He wasn’t trying to actually launch the warheads, his plan was to merely maintain the threat, hold the world to ransom; missiles were expensive—no point in seeing all his hard-earned money go up in smoke. He gazed out the large observation window; his impressive vertical array of rockets were starting to vent steam from their fuel tanks. Meanwhile, Blomfeld’s dedicated army of minions bounced off the walls—and each other—scattering like idiots across the dangerous concrete floor in a desperate search for a means of escape in the relative darkness. Health & Safety guidelines didn’t apply in a villainous secret operation. Neither were there Workers’ Rights; Blomfeld owed them nothing. However, they could not desert him now. He was their leader. He would not be defeated—failure was not an option.

Turning his attention back to the handheld device, Blomfeld jabbed the symbol he last touched again which resumed light levels. He grinned as he jabbed another icon; this wasn’t so hard after all. He was guessing in the right direction, getting warmer, although that could be because he’d mistakenly upped the room temperature to a more tropical level. Perspiration beaded his forehead, but in his haste to cool the situation, Blomfeld accidentally rotated the screen from portrait to landscape mode causing him to poke another icon altogether: the bridge over the ornamental indoor pond withdrew rapidly, dunking the armed guard stationed there into the water where he disappeared in a piranha froth.


Blomfeld began a screen-tapping frenzy.


Kettles boiled.


Toilets flushed.


Shutdown – Yes!


The rocket engines ignited. And rumbled.

No! Blomfeld reread the tablet screen again: It wasn’t Shutdown, it said Lockdown.

LOCKDOWN!! He’d closed the roof cover and doors, sealing everyone in.

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Mike Olley
Mike Olley writes short fiction. His work has been published in several anthologies. A designer by trade, he’s also quite a good carpenter and grower of cactus plants. Originally from London, England, he spent a few years in Spain before a quirk of fate brought him back to live in an English seaside town.

10 thoughts on “Failure Is Not An Option

  1. Loved the humor in this. It was great to make the villain so bumbling and unsure. It was just the right touch to accentuate the lunacy of tech possibilities these days (as well as the lunacy of who we dub our “leaders”) The sad thing was, that through the humor, it still felt very authentic and possible. Eegads.

  2. Who needs Bond, with mini-fingered Blomfeld fumbling with his i-pad? A few suggestions for polish:

    “a stark electronic voice uttered, echoing round…” might be “the stark electronic voice echoed….”

    “From the extreme comfort of his ” might be “From the luxury of”

    “Damn this new technology, he thought, in the old…” might be ” “Damn this new technology, he thought.

    In the old days…”


    1. Thanks, AGB. Although I do prefer ‘extreme comfort’ to ‘luxury’ as it sounds like marketing speak which I’m sure how the uber-villan’s lair would’ve been sold to Blomfeld in the brochure.

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