Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 26
“How do you feel?” asked Doctor Gray, in a tone of voice that said: “I’m listening,” as well as “I care,” and finally, “I’ve done this six times today already and it’s nearly lunch.”
“I’m great,” replied Girth Loinhammer, Dungeon Lord. “I’m at the peak of my dungeon-lording career! The forces of good fear me, the forces of evil respect me, and forces in general tremble before me! All bow before my glistening muscles and terrible leather chest straps.”
“Is that how you feel,” pressed Doctor Gray, adjusting her spectacles, “or how society wants you to feel?”
“I…uh…” Girth sighed. There was a couch here; he figured he might as well lie down on it. “The second one, I guess. Except…” He waited for Doctor Gray to ask “Except what?” but she didn’t. She simply waited patiently for him to continue, so he did: “Most of the time I get the impression that the way society wants me to feel is really, really uncomfortable.”
“I understand that you manage a large dungeon. Is it possible that you feel trapped in your career?”
“No.” Girth sat up again. “I used to run a dungeon, but it…didn’t go well. People…expected things from that dungeon that I…didn’t expect.”
Doctor Gray pressed her pencil to her lips, deep in thought. “It became too violent for your tastes?”
Girth laughed. “No! The opposite!”
“Hm.” Doctor Gray thought again. “Perhaps you feel this drive to tie people up because you yourself feel insecure?”
“So you don’t feel insecure?”
“No you don’t, or no you do?”
Girth lay back down. “I feel insecure, but that’s not why I tie people up. I really do just want to get lots of money and power by doing evil things. It’s just that every time I do anything—even after giving up the dungeon—it becomes…something else. Things always end up turning…sexual. They never go the way I want.”
“Hm.” Doctor Gray scribbled something in her notebook, then leaned in close, speaking gently: “This may be a lot to take in, but I believe your dissatisfaction with life may stem from deeply repressed homos—”
“I’M NOT GAY!!!” shouted Girth. Even though he was totally, completely, 100% certain, it somehow didn’t sound very convincing. “AND THAT WASN’T SUSPICIOUSLY SUDDEN OR LOUD!!!” he added. “THIS IS MY NORMAL VOICE!!!”
Doctor Gray didn’t write anything, but she did circle what was already there. She circled it several times.
“I’m really not gay,” explained Girth, much more effectively than before.
“Well, I’m happy to hear that.” Doctor Gray leaned in even closer. “I’m not really a therapist.”
“What?” asked Girth, reflexively.
Doctor Gray didn’t say anything, but this time she wasn’t waiting for him to continue. She was performing an eyebrow gesture that was becoming ever more familiar.
“You know, this sort of thing has now happened so often that in this particular setting it’s more disconcerting on a general, societal level than it is distressing to me personally,” said Girth.
He’d intended it as a detached, rational condemnation of the situation, but it turned out that it lost a lot of that effect if said while diving through a closed, third-floor window.