by Andrew G. McCann

The plump, balding psychoanalyst shifted in his chocolate-brown Naugahyde Execu-Chair. He looked down briefly, then up, his expression a mask. The air-conditioner hummed softly as he spoke to the large, battle-scarred warrior sitting on the client side of the white Formica desk.

"Konen, I'm not, uhhh, that is, it might be perhaps more efficacious were we to modify your prescription. Your current course of Rasputin™ has helped to moderate your 'insatiable lust for the flesh of wenches,' as you quite rightly put it." The analyst gave a quick, reassuring smile, but he kept his head immobile. "However, I think your recurring compulsion to kill 'fools,' to use your word, might be moderated by a course of two targeted psychopharmacological agents I have in mind, namely Vikene™ and Simitar™."

Konen lifted his piercing green eyes; his dusky hair rippled in the air-conditioner's breeze, and veins throbbed in his mighty temples. He let slip a low growl past grim-set lips.

The therapist opened his mouth, closed it. He looked away, then back. "OK, well, let's start the new regimen this Monday, Konen. Now, it seems to me that you're in touch with your anger at the moment, and that's good. So this might be the right time to take a look at that incident with your downstairs neighbors." With a whispery, treble whinny, the shrink cleared his throat. "As I understand from the arresting officer, you phoned a cockroach exterminator yesterday and asked him to come over and 'destroy' your 'cursed' neighbors for being noisy." He placed his mottled pink-white palms together, as if in prayer. "While it is good that you didn't take matters into your own hands -- this time -- I still think we should look at some of the reasons for your negative feelings toward these people."

The barbarian clenched his sinewy hands as he spoke: "They are all fools." He stared at the analyst, and a queer green light flickered about Konen's deep-set eyes; a light like the deadly sparkle from fabled King Nekrom's crowning jewel -- The Serpent's Eye -- in pursuit of which dozens of skilled gem thieves had, instead of clutching victory, pitifully missed their grasp and ended their days living out slow, horrible extinctions in the shadow ruler's dank, pitiless dungeons beneath the spider-shadowed Crypts of Skrheem.

"Hmm. OK, let's take a different tack," the analyst said. He raised one soft, unlined hand. "Let's go back a bit. Tell me more of your childhood." Somewhere in the room a clock was ticking faintly, steadily.

Now Konen's eyes burned with a strange, unfocused orange fire, not unlike that which surrounds the horrific Wraiths of Silikahn, which eat the souls of those men (or women, gay or straight, of any creed or color) foolhardy enough to set sandal in the dune-ridden wastes of ancient Nohpersonzland. "I was born in the vast, untamable wastes of northern Slusheria, where the River Harsh meets Lake Azphreezin. I was only too eager to taste life, so at eight months I hacked my way out of the womb with a broadsword fashioned from my umbilical cord." His right bicep tightened briefly.

Konen Not Happy!

The therapist's eyes widened. "Oh dear, you killed your mother?" He began scribbling notes.

Konen's bronze pecs twitched like a stallion's shanks. "By Dagwüd's Wife, no, you dog! My father's woman needed only to choke down a flagon of sheepmead -- the holy, ochre fluid ran down her chin like blood! She sewed the gaping wound shut with burlap stitches, and went right back to skinning live were-leopards in that frozen hell-pit I called 'hovel.'"

"Oh." The shrink stopped taking notes and sat back further in his plush chair. "OK, let's regroup, and take a look at what we've learned so far." He kept his head completely still and smiled gently at Konen's hard-edged face. "Go ahead."

Konen paused. "Huhn." He looked to one side, and the taut cords of his neck bulged like the mythical Kables of DuumShreek, from which the Black Wizardress of Bitshi suspended her victims over a nest of writhing vipers in the fetid, stone-lined Hell-Shaft of Skairti-Katt. "I learned, I learned that wine . . . alcohol . . . is bad. And recovery is, uhhn, good." In the quiet of the room, an ionizer whispered.

"Yes. Good for you." The therapist pursed his lips slightly, nodded imperceptibly.

"And . . ." Konen continued.

"And?" The doctor raised an eyebrow and tilted his head in puzzlement.

". . . And killing fools is good." The barbarian grinned, a wide feral smile, which echoed that of the hooded Cobra-Lord of Smarmia, just before Konen sliced off the snakeman's spell-spewing head with one powerful, wide arc of his notched battle-sword -- the well-honed, legendary Blood-Chugger, which Konen had won years back in victorious battle with King Veri Ohld-Guhy, the Hermit Ruler of the Cursed City of Red Sapphires.

"No, no, no, no, no, no," the analyst said, frowning momentarily. He stopped, took a slow breath, let it out. "Now, Konen, we're out of time for this session. But maybe next week we should look at your last statement, and perhaps what it says about how you might be feeling some feelings about being abandoned by your mother and ignored by your father. And, possibly, how you, through all your adventures, are still, essentially, just searching for parental love and approval -- in other words, at root, you could be yearning for nothing more or less than a great, big, special hug of some kind." The therapist was nodding like a newscaster as he spoke the words.

Konen's towering bulk slowly rose up, casting a jet-black shadow across the Formica furniture, not unlike the daylight-destroying twin ape-sphinxes that guard the Sighing Gates of Los T'Kauzz. He flared his bronze nostrils, narrowed his eyes, and shook his ebon, tousled mane, setting one callused fist on the jeweled haft of the renowned sword Blood-Chugger. "You . . . are . . . a . . . fool." 

Story copyright © 1994 Andrew G. McCann.
Illustration copyright © 1994 by Andrew G. McCann.

Cover | Masthead | Editorial and Letters
Previous Page | Next Page