The Villain Institute - Megan Linski Page 0,1

the deep voice responded. “You don’t look blind.”

It wasn’t the first time I heard that one. My foster families had told me that my whole childhood.

“I don’t have to look blind for it to be true,” I said. “But hey, if you’re afraid a blind guy will beat you—”

He huffed. “I’m not afraid of anything, hear me?”

I took a step forward. I felt the air currents around his form. He was bigger than me, so much that his breath passed the top of my head. He must’ve been at least six-five, but I wasn’t scared of him. Marty had taught me how to hold my own in a fight.

“Then prove it,” I challenged. “If it helps, I’ll even close my eyes— not like I need them anyway.”

Air moved through his nose quickly, like his nostrils were flared. “Fine,” he conceded. “A hundred bucks for the bull’s eye.”

His friends laughed, and someone placed a dart in my hands. I ran the tip of my shoe along the hardwood floor to feel for the line of tape, then stood behind it. I drew a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut tightly. I couldn’t see the dartboard, but I’d sat in this pub listening to the sounds of darts hitting the wall long enough to know exactly where the board hung.

I thrust the dart forward, and it flew out of my fingertips. Ripples of air rushed past the fletching, and I knew I’d aimed slightly off course.

I didn’t know how I could do it, but when I prayed for the air to follow my command, miracles happened. I could feel the air particles shift around the dart, nudging it back on course in mid-air.

A thud came, then cries of disbelief. The man I was challenging must’ve been gaping like a fish, because I could feel the air coming out of his mouth in waves.

“That-that’s impossible,” he sputtered. “He’s blind!”

“Oh, come on,” one of his buddies encouraged. “Pay up.”

“Told you a blind man could beat you,” the other taunted.

My opponent huffed his disapproval, then reached into his back pocket. “A deal’s a deal, I guess.”

He sounded more willing than I’d anticipated. I was expecting a double or nothing deal here. I heard the sound of a bill sliding over another, and I held my hand out for payment. He placed a crumpled bill in my hand, and his friends’ laughter grew. They tried to hide it, but it was pretty apparent. I knew immediately that I was being swindled.

“We agreed to a hundred,” I snapped.

The man scoffed. “We also agreed you couldn’t see.”

I’d only been guessing about the swindling, but that was all the confirmation I needed.

“I can’t, jackass!” I fumed. I really needed that money. “I just happen to know when I’m being taken advantage of.”

The man laughed and grabbed his beer off the table. He took a swig before responding. “Oh, go walk off a bridge… if you can find one!”

He and his buddies roared with laughter.

Anger bubbled up inside of me. No one used my blindness against me. I curled my hand into a fist, crumpling the bill even further. I brought my fist down onto the table, startling the three men.

“We had a deal!” I growled.

The man stepped closer. I could feel the heat rolling off of him. “It was all just fun and games. Now run along. Don’t walk into the door on your way out.”

“I want my money, dipshit!” I demanded.

Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say, because the next thing I knew, air rushed toward my face. I was so furious that I caught it too late. The man’s fist cracked across my jaw, and I went spiraling toward the table. I grabbed the edge to catch myself, but I couldn’t slow my momentum. The table crumbled beneath my weight, and I crashed to the floor. Bottles shattered, and liquid seeped into my jeans. The smell of beer hit my nose, but it barely registered. I was freaking pissed.

I took just a moment to process the assault. The whole bar was in an uproar, so much that I could barely hear the music. Chairs screeched across the hardwood, and people started yelling. The main asshole laughed with his buddies. He didn’t even realize when I pulled myself to my feet— must’ve thought a blind guy wouldn’t fight back or something. I knew exactly where he was by feeling the air around his form.

I launched myself at him and tackled him to the ground. My fist