A Writing Exercise for Character Development

I started thinking tonight, about how useful it is to test your characters against new obstacles. It lends them a bit of flexibility, and lets you know their limits. Even more fun: have your characters face one of your foe. Throw it out there and see what they do with it. I decided to have my character face a foe that visits me every April. 

Taxes.

 

That's right, the almighty U.S. government demands its due, and I can't figure out which forms I'm supposed to fill out. So today, I will have Dr. Traselhoff, Mad Scientist and father of Boris Traselhoff, facing off against this dreaded seasonal horror.

Dr. Traselhoff stared sullenly at the papers on the desk in front of him. He was in a small office, state tax assistance, that held nothing but a cheap laminate desk, folding metal chairs and a computer. He eyed the computer hungrily. He'd come into this office with the intention of letting loose a band of rabid mice trained to devour papers on the supply of refund checks in the nearby safe. The resulting outrage, as taxpayers failed to receive their refunds from the government would create sheer anarchy, and he Dr. Traselhoff, Mad Scientist, would take his rightful place as their leader and promise never again to make them fill out these silly little papers.

 

The desk was covered with them, and they all had his name all over them. Dr. Traselhoff scowled. To create a distraction while he released the mice, he'd been forced to fill out some of the detestable papers. It was the only way he could distract the clerk.

 

The clerk blinked through wire framed glasses and looked up at him. "Traselhoff, Myron Traselhoff..." He took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "You filled out form D-40B, but I don't really understand why... You didn't submit a W-2, so there have been no taxes collected for you, therefore, asking for a refund of collected taxes doesn't make sense. And on this other form, you claim an ailing relative as a dependent."

 

Dr. Traselhoff crossed his arms. He hadn't been selective with the forms, just grabbed an armful.

 

"It says here that you live at 634 Bowery St., according to the computer records, you haven't paid property taxes in... thirty years. In addition, you built a large tower that sways in the wind, without a permit and some sort of lightening rod that is proported to be a safety concern."

 

Dr. Traselhoff waved a hand in the air. "Vindictive neighbors."

 

"Yes, but you didn't even fill these forms out correctly. See here, you're supposed to add lines three and four together. You just left them empty."

 

Dr. Traselhoff had grown tired of the endless boxes. So he had chosen to leave them blank.

 

The clerk straightened his glasses. "And see here, you claimed a refund for a donation to a political party. Which party was that?"

 

"I don't remember, it was a very good party."

 

"I see." The clerk took off his glasses and placed them neatly on the desk. "Dr. Traselhoff, I need to explain to you how much trouble you're in. A child could fill out these forms better, and you didn't even choose the correct ones. If you don't file your taxes correctly, I will file an order to have your house and all your other assets seized." His naked blue eyes stared at Dr. Traselhoff, icily.

 

"Well," said Dr. Traselhoff. "Let me make this abundantly clear. I don't care about your silly commoner forms and paperwork. I am not beholden to your system. And which forms I filled out ...  is the least of your worries." He neatly tapped his index finger on his briefcase. Millions of mice scurried out of the case, devouring every paper in sight. They poured underneath the door crack, into the file cabinet and over the desk, making short work of Dr. Traselhoff's fake taxes. The clerk stared at the mice, frozen in his seat.

 

Dr. Traselhoff smiled. "And please, have a nice day."