When I was young, which was a long time ago, films like the James Bond franchise and similar all had super-villains. These super-villains had fantastic secret bases with elaborate traps and devices like sliding roofs and underwater entrances. Although secret, it never really took the good guy long to find them. He and his sidekick, often a beautiful woman who didn’t know how to run, broke into the complex by pulling a grill off a ventilation duct and just walking in.
At some point, the woman might get captured and need rescuing, because in those days women weren’t taught how doors work, not sure why. Anyway, the nuclear reactor/volcano/super-powered space laser would start to overheat, either deliberately or by accident, and the whole place would start to explode, usually accompanied by a suspiciously accurate voice counting down the seconds. The bad guy would be defeated, almost always falling into the aforementioned reactor/volcano/super-powered space laser. The woman would be rescued, and they’d get out just as the place exploded. Their method of escape was almost always a convenient and luxurious boat/submarine/hovercraft complete with mini-bar and a huge bed. There’d be friendship and maybe more, a hilarious double entendre and the credits would roll.
My question is who builds these bases and why do they always explode?
* * *
It was 14:37 when a knock sounded at the door. He looked at his bodyguard Mr Metal and gestured towards the sound. Mr Metal’s huge body slowly approached the door and yanked it open. A middle-aged man stood there, of average height but dwarfed by the huge bodyguard.
“Mr Domino?” asked the man.
Mr Metal didn’t speak but stood aside to allow the man to enter. He noticed the other man sitting behind a desk in a huge chair, stroking a white cat.
“Mr Domino?” he asked again. “Nice cat. I’m Dennis, the builder.”
“It’s Dominion, Mr Dominion,” the man with the cat replied.
“Oh, yes, sorry, my wife took the message, her handwriting’s terrible.”
“Please.” Mr Dominion gestured towards a chair in front of the desk.
“Thanks. Nice place you’ve got here. Took me a while to find it though, being underground and all.”
“So, what can I do you for?”
Mr Dominion produced some plans from a drawer and handed them to Mr Metal, who then handed them to Dennis. They were huge sheets of paper with what could only be described as an adult version of a child’s drawing.
“Hmm, ok, quite detailed. What’s this thing here?” Dennis pointed to a drawing like a figure of eight.
“That’s a crocodile pit,” Mr Dominion said, a strange smile on his face, “with a retractable walkway.”
“Isn’t that a bit dangerous?”
“Oh, well, you’re the boss. Now, these ventilation ducts, they look a bit large, bit of a security risk, someone could easily get in through there. Why not have four smaller ones instead of one large one?”
“Sounds like an unnecessary expense. Just put some grills over them.”
“Ok, your the boss. Now, what’s this thing right in the middle?”
Mr Dominion leaned over and looked at the plans. “That’s a nuclear reactor. I’ll be needing a lot of power.”
“Hmm, bit dangerous, putting it there. Why not have a separate building and then duct the power inside?”
Mr Dominion smiled. “I wasn’t born yesterday, Dennis. I know you’re just trying to get more money out of me.”
“Not at all, Mr Dominion. If that reactor overloads and explodes that’s your cat gone.”
Mr Dominion hugged his cat closer.
“No, I mean your cat-and-mouse, gaff, drum, house?”
“Ahh, yes. Again, that won’t be necessary. Nuclear reactors almost never blow up. I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
“Ok, it’s your funeral.” Dennis studied the plans a while longer. “Now, what’s this here?”
Mr Dominion leaned forward again. “That’s a retractable roof. For helicopter access and the airships with the bombs attached.”
“Of course not! You wouldn’t put bombs on airships unless you wanted to take over the world.”
“Hmm, ok. Does it have to be fully retractable? Why not just have a nice static roof with Welsh slate? Lovely stuff, Welsh slate, looks good and lasts for years.”
“No thank you. I’m sure it would look nice, but I need it to retract, and look like water.”
“Yes, to hide from the satellites of course.”
“Hmm, ok. And what kind of materials are you looking for, concrete, brick, stonework? Concrete’ll be cheaper but stone looks better.”
“Wood? All of it in wood?”
“The thing with wood is it’s flammable, that nuclear thing catches fire and the whole place’ll go up.”
“You’re such a fusspot, Dennis. No one is going be starting any fires.”
“Well, if you say so. Now, you seem to have a lot of these box things around. What are they?”
“Hmm, you seem to have a lot of them here, but none around the back. You could move these two and get full coverage.”
“That won’t be necessary, Dennis. We’ll have plenty of armed guards. Err, guards.”
“Guards ay? Fancy. Well, if you say so.” Dennis carried on studying the plans for a while. “Now, this hidden submarine entrance, is that for full-size submarines?”
“Dennis, you are a comedian. Of course not. It’s for miniature subs, you know, for escaping.”
“Escaping, when the in-laws call round, or the taxman, ay?” Dennis laughed.
“Yes, exactly. The taxman, as you say.”
“Now, we’re several miles from the sea here, I believe. That’s a lot of digging. Could get some machines in of course. What about an underground train? Get my lot down here with some barrows and picks and soon have a nice tunnel built for you.”
“Yes, that would be acceptable. A nice straight tunnel.”
“Well, you could put a kink in it, a few bends to stop the fireball when the reactor goes.”
“No, no, not necessary, no explosions any time soon.”
“Ok, you’re the boss.”
Dennis pulled out his notepad and wrote a few things down with a small pencil, mumbling to himself as he went. “Ok, I’ll have to get this priced up properly for you, get you an estimate in the next few days. All right if I take these plans is it?”
“I’m afraid not, Dennis. They’re top secret.”
Mr Metal moved over and took the plans, then handed them back to Mr Dominion.
“Ok, we’ll have to eyeball it then.” Dennis stood and walked over to the door.
“When could you start, Dennis? I’m quite eager to get started on world dom… the world of Mr Dominion.”
“Err, I’ll let you know when I’ve priced up proper, but all things being equal, a week Tuesday ok?” “That’s fine Dennis. Very fine indeed.”