“Doctor? Your 2pm appointment is here.”
The man in the purple dress shirt and black tie looked up from his copy of Psychiatrist Monthly, a frown upon his face. “Already? Damn, I thought lunch would last a little longer.” He ruffled his head of short, black hair before signing and standing, dusting crumbs off his pressed black pants.
The receptionist, a young woman in her mid twenties, rolled her eyes in what was a familiar routine. “Lunch is an hour, same as it was yesterday and the day before.”
“And the day before that?” He asked, grabbing a white coat from his chair, the words, “Dr. Kirkland,” stitched upon the breast. He shrugged it on before taking some papers from the receptionist. “Really Joyce, how can we know these things?”
“Well, seeing as you stamped the time card for one hour for the past two years, I’m going to have to assume it’s been that way since then.”
He rubbed his chin as he looked over the file. “Curses, foiled by empirical data again.” He paused, lifting up a sheet before looking at Joyce. “A Manticore?”
“Yes sir. Heather DeLancy, thirty-two years of age, American, no other health issues besides…”
“Cancer, right… Looks like the surgery was a few months ago, is she cleared from the hospital doctors?”
“Mostly, it was kind of a complicated surgery, but supposedly the tumor was found to be benign, just the placement was, well, you know.” She waved at the files.
Dr. Kirkland sighed and shook his head. “Is my disability insurance paid up?”
Joyce frowned and gave him a flat stare. “You always ask this when you get Manticores in the office.”
“It was a very important lesson in school. Besides, the rates have to be that high for a reason, right?”
“Yes sir…” She walked up and tapped the Doctor on the chest, before looking up into his face, that of a man in his mid thirties with sparkling blue eyes, “Be gentle with this woman, alright? I wouldn’t wish what she had to go through on anyone.”
He sniffed, walking to the door where the patient waited. “Joyce, I am a professional in my field with years of experience under my belt, and many, many patients who have overcome their experiences through the power of my gentle words.”
“But you’ll keep the property damage to a minimum, right?”
“I will most certainly try.” He opened the door and entered the room.
The room was a modest affair, colored in soothing, yet neutral colors of beige with wonderful, mahogany floors. Around the room were bookshelves lined with all sorts of books on Psychiatry that Dr. Kirkland had never read, along with various baubles and knick-knacks that made the place feel dignified, if maybe a little overdone. Atop a large, intricately woven, Persian rug, sat two old leather couches along with two chairs of the same make, the smell of new leather having long ago faded from the furniture. As faint light filtered in from the half-closed blinds, he made out of the shape of his patient sitting upon one of the couches.
She was a tall woman, perhaps 5’10”, with a robust, yet very feminine frame. She was quite beautiful to behold, yet something about her seemed off. She looked as if she might not have been eating well recently, for her arms seemed a little thin and her clothing, a loose blue T-shirt and black jeans, seemed to hang upon her too loose. Her skin even looked a little paler than you would have expected given that she was a Manticore.
Yes, a Manticore, a Monster whose body was mainly that of a female human, yet who was un deniably INhuman. Contrasting her pale skin, her arms and legs at the elbows and knees were covered in coarse, black fur that terminated into large, leonine paws ringed by grey, almost white fur at the joints. Around her neck was a similar string of fur, and if this wasn’t enough, atop her short cut, black hair sat a pair of feline ears that twitched as she sat there/
If this was the limit to what a Manticore was, perhaps the fascination with them would be lessened, but no, behind her too were a pair of large, bat-like wings colored a dull red which stretched out along the couch. There is one more feature which defines a Manticore, however as the door clicked shut behind him, Dr. Kirkland immediately took notice of it, or perhaps, the absence of it.
“Hello, I’m Dr. Kirkland, and you are, holy hell, where is your tail?!”
The Manticore, Heather, stared at the doctor with a shocked expression, her brown eyes utterly confused. “W..what?”
“I mean, wow.” He said, shaking his head. “You know, that thick, chitinous tail of yours? With the spines? I just, wow.”
The initial shock of his statement had faded and anger quickly played across her face. “What the hell is this? I come to a Psychiatrist, and this is the first fucking thing you say?”
“It’s just, I mean, shit, how often do you see a Manticore without a tail? Kind of freakish if you ask me.”
Her paws had balled into fists and she was standing, her face starting to turn red. It was quite obvious now that there was nothing behind her, and she seemed to stand a little awkwardly, as if not used to balancing her weight. She growled at the man, “Say that again, asshole.”
“I said, kind of freakish if-.” His words were cut off mid sentence as she charged toward him, slamming his back forcefully into the door and pinning him into place with both of her large, man-grabber sized paws. The force of her assault caused the whole room to shake and various baubles fell from the bookcase to clatter to the floor.
Joyce sighed audibly from outside.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Heather hissed, her face mere inches from Dr. Kirkland’s. Her eyes held a furious rage, bordering upon violence, her cheeks glowing hotly as she breathed heavy, ragged breaths upon his face. She opened her mouth and her sharp canines bore toward him in a snarl.
Dr. Kirkland’s face betrayed no fear however, despite the fact that a Monster was pinning him down, his comparatively weak, human frame unable to escape from such predations. He merely looked into her eyes with a flat expression before putting on a sly smile. “What are you going to do? Rape me?”
Her breath caught for a moment, the animalistic rage in her eyes melting like water sprayed onto wet paint, revealing confusion once again. Her grip upon his shoulders lessened as her eyes looked back and forth, her mouth working soundlessly, trying desperately to come up with a response. The longer this went on, the more certain he was that the new emotion appearing in her eyes was fear.
She slowly let go of him, his shoes clicking against the hardwood floors as her shoulders slumped, her body posture admitting defeat. Her ears folded down as she became despondent, turning away from him to slowly walk back over to the couch and take her purse, wings flitting gently. He could see that where her tail would have been, her pants had a patch over them, the fabric entirely the wrong shade to go with the jeans.
“So, you’re just giving up like that?” Dr. Kirkland said, adjusting his coat and tie. “You know that you paid for a full hour.”
Heather looked over her shoulder and sneered, “Oh, a full hour of you being an insufferable asshole? No thanks, I think I’ll just leave.”
“You can’t take one minute of someone commenting on your looks, and yet you expect to be able to cope with it the rest of your life?” She paused as he said this, looking down at the floor, her grip tightening on her purse. He nodded his head, walking over to a chair and placing his hand upon the back, feeling the coolness of the worn leather. “Your first reaction to being called on this is anger, followed by running away. Sure, you can avoid the pain for now, perhaps cow others into submission, but can you really do this the rest of your life? Do you want to do this the rest of your life?”
Heather began to shake, her mouth quirking as she began to blink, the corners beginning to glisten with moisture. She opened her mouth, but no words come out for a long moment until she hung her head and whispered, “No…”
Dr. Kirkland nodded his head and gestured toward the couch. “Please, sit.”
She looked down at the couch with a pained expression before relenting and slowly sitting, her wings flexing out behind her as she tried to get comfortable, her body posture still sitting as if she had a tail. He watched her as she did so, and as soon as she seemed relatively comfortable, too sat down and pulled out a pen, twirling it in his fingers. “I’m sorry about that before, but sometimes such things are necessary.”
“Bastard.” She said, looking away from him while wiping at her eyes. “Do you do this to all your clients?”
“Only those who can break my spine.”
A flicker of a smile came across her face before she shook her head again. “I don’t even know why I’m really here. Because Dr. Craigsleif said so? Bah.” She wiped at her eyes again. “It’s not like you can magically regrow my tail or anything?” As she said this, she looked up at him, as if searching for the vague glimmer of hope that he might be able to perform this miracle.
The single shake of his head dashed the faint hope, and something in her eyes deflated like a balloon. “No, I’m afraid that such things are outside my power.” The pen stopped twirling in his fingers to point tip-first at Heather. “The reason you’re here to me is to help you come to terms with who you are now.”
“Who I am now.” Heather repeated slowly before narrowing her eyes. “What is that supposed to mean? It’s not like they took my brain out when they removed that God-damned tumor, I am who I’ve always been.”
“Yes, really now.”
“Tell me about yourself then.”
She stiffened, searching his eyes for something. Seemingly unable to find whatever it is, she sighed and shook her head. “Damn shrink, should have left through the door already.” He didn’t interrupt her and after a few moments she began to speak. “I was born in Texas, land of cowboys and Mexican food, and I had a nice, gentle childhood. I got along great with my Father before he died and I have an excellent relationship with my Mother. I remember back when I was ten, the first time she taught me how to use my tail p-…” She paused, then grit her teeth before continuing.
“Anyway, yeah, it was a fine childhood. Had a few encounters with some boys during middle school and high school, where I’d… right, then I went to college, where I spent a LOT of time getting….” She put a black-furred paw to her head, looking down at the floor as she spoke, her eyes widening as if realizing something as she did so. “Graduated with a degree in Liberal Arts, failed to get anything of value with it, ended up raping a lot of men, never really loving any of them, until managing to work my way into a Management firm where I became an office predator. Oh and then I found out I had cancer at the base of my tail.”
She looked up at him, eyes half crazed. “Then they cut it off, and here I am! A tailless freak who only had sex in her life to keep her happy!” She slammed the couch with her free paw, nails digging into the leather. Dr. Kirkland could practically hear Joyce’s muffled screams when she sees this. “You happy then? That’s who I am apparently!”
He watched her for a few minutes before placing the pen between the index fingers of both hands. “It’s nice that you had this revelation, but I’m afraid I asked you to tell me about yourself, not your past.”
“The hell is that supposed to mean?” She waved her paws in the air, ears standing up. “I told you who I am, an average Monster who’s a sexual predator now reduced to being a tailless, spineless freak who makes even her Psychiatrist look at her like she’s some kind of reject.”
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Your tail, tell me about it, how it used to be.”
She growled, nose twitching as the fur around her neck stood up. “My tail used to be the most beautiful damn Manticore tail you’d ever seen. It was long, strong, and had red chitin that shined so brightly it could blind people on a sunny day. Ah, and the spines, yes, I had so much venom in each of those babies that I could make a man go all night.” A predatory smirk comes across her face, “Oh, and you bet your ass the inside would make their cocks melt. I’m the best fucking tail-lay they’ll ever have, no one has a better tail than I do.”
He raised a finger. “Do you mean, had?”
She blinked before looking down at her paw, the palm facing up, as if holding something cylindrical within. Another glance showed her leaning in such a way as to expose the tail, and she began to deflate again, the fire leaving her eyes. “Right… had.”
“Are you married?”
“No, and you should know that from the paperwork I filled out.” She continued to look at her empty paw, as if unable to fully comprehend that it was empty.
“Because I never found the right guy? I don’t know, maybe I just liked empty sex or whatever.” She shrugged, lowering her paw back down, “What kind of question is that anyway?”
“Just one of many.” He twirled the pen in his fingers, face calm and emotionless. “Have you returned to work since the operation?”
“Yes.” She said, shifting uncomfortably. “I have short days sometimes, because I can’t take the looks people give me. I hear them sometimes, whispering behind my back, ‘look at her, no tail!’ or ‘poor thing, she must be so lonely now,’ or ‘can’t get a lay without her tail-pussy anymore.'”
“The men in your office, what do they say?”
She grimaced. “Oh, on the surface they seem polite, but even those I’ve tail fucked before seem to give me these glances, as if looking for the only thing they found attractive about me. Otherwise they’re on pins and needles around me, as if afraid to mention what their eyes are saying.”
“Your home life, what’s been like since the treatment?”
“I go home to an empty apartment, and I stare at my tail grooming kit until I take a bunch of painkillers and drift off to sleep, alone. Maybe I eat some food there too, who cares.”
He nodded his head before jotting a few things down on the record. It’s basically as he thought, and he nods his head, knowing what to do now. Without looking at her, he asked calmly, “What about your wings?”
She blinked, furrowing her brow as she looked at him. “My… wings?”
“Yes, those things on your back, what about them? Do you fly with them, or are they there for show?”
She sniffed indignantly, “Of course I fly with them. It’s how I got here after all! Why have a car when you can just zip around the city with a pair of these?” She flexed them for show, although he could easily see they seemed to lack the luster he’d seen on many other Manticore wings. She looked back at them and frowned, picking at a spot of dry skin, as if she hadn’t noticed it before.
“And your paws, your ‘man-grabbers,’ as they were?”
“Eh?” She said, holding them up to show him. “What about them? They’re strong, able to pin your ass into place, and uh…” She looked down at the couch, blushing some, “Sorry about that.”
“It’s no trouble, happens all the time in this line of work. At least you don’t have a knife.” Her eyebrow quirked up at that, but he seemed to ignore it as he continued to speak. “Those ears, do they work, or do they just look pretty?”
She rolled her eyes, “Oh no, they work well enough to know that your receptionist is biting her nails.” She raised her eyebrow at him, “Oh, and that your disability insurance is up to date. I wonder why you’d ask that, hmm?”
He feigned innocence, raising both of his hands. “Who can say? Always a good idea to be prepared, hmm?”
“Hah, well that’s what you get for making a mighty Manticore angry.”
“Do you feel angry now?”
She shook her head, smirking, “No, I feel a little like my Psychiatrist has a death wish though.”
He smiled and shook his own head, “No, although I do treat Ushi-Oni’s with PTSD.” She guffaws, slapping the seat with her paw, making it even more of a mess. Poor Joyce, she did so hate getting things fixed.
“No way! You really DO have a death-wish.”
“Bah, honestly you Monsters have all these crazy things, but do you know who the true Monsters are?”
Heather chuckled, using a paw to cover her mouth as she shifted her posture, reflexively crossing her legs while adjusting her backside to sit straight on the couch, wings fluttering behind her. “I know they said you could be eccentric, but I wasn’t expecting this.”
“I get that a lot from my referrals.” He laughed before shaking his head and leaning back. He pointed the pen at her and asked, nonchalant, “Hey, how’s that tail of yours?”
“Tail? What tai…” She froze, her eyes growing wide before looking down at how she was sitting, then behind her to where her tail used to be. She blinked a few times before her joviality changed to despondence as rapidly as clouds covering the sun. “Damnit…” She whispered, putting a paw to her forehead.
“For a moment there, you forgot you even had a tail, didn’t you?” She lowered her paw, looking at him over the fuzzy fingers. She didn’t answer however, and he sighed, shaking his head. “Heather, I work with people like you all the time, people who have lost things they’ve lived with their entire lives.”
He raised a hand and pointed at his arm, then leg, and finally to his abdomen. “Bad things happen to good people and Monsters, and whether that’s an act of God or the cruelty of fate, I can’t say, but what I can say is that if you let what you lost define who you are, you’re always going to live in the past.”
She began to say something, but he held up a hand, shaking his head. “You’re lucky you know? It might not seem like it to you though, how can it? You’ve spent your life with your tail, let it be your best friend, your gateway to pleasure, and now it’s gone.” He leaned forward, lacing his fingers together. “But you have so much else going for you.”
She looked at him, eyes filled with a wary fear, as if at any moment he’d trick her again and send her spiraling back into sadness. Still though, she held onto the ledge he had given her, one last time hoping against hope that it would bring her to solid ground. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before speaking again .
“You have so many wonderful things about you, but you’ve been so engrossed in grief over your tail, that you can’t see the forest for the trees.” He pointed at her wings, “Those beautiful wings of yours, able to carry you about wherever you wish, granting you unparalleled freedom. What of the pride you showed speaking of them?” He pointed at her paws, “Those paws, so powerful, yet so delicate. You barely think about them and how amazing they are, do you?”
She looked from her wings to her paws, her expression becoming pensive as he continued, pointing at her ears. “Those ears, able to hear far more than I ever could, what of them?” She felt the tips of her ears, as if for the first time, the pinnae slowing standing up as he moved his finger once last place, pointing toward her chest.
“M…my breasts?” She said, confused. “I mean, I… I guess I take them for granted too, but they’re just… I mean, they aren’t just…” She squirmed a little bit as he shook his head.
“No, not your breasts, as nice as they are, but your heart.” Her eyes went wide as he said this, and tears began to form at the corners of her eyes. “You have been so engrossed in what you were, that you can’t see the strong, powerful Monster you are. You lost your tail, so what? It will always hurt, but the first step to getting past this to accept that it is not who you are. You are so much more than just a ‘tail pussy,’ and I think you’re starting to realize it.”
Tears began to flow freely from Heather’s eyes now and she put a paw to her mouth, stifling choking sobs. Dr Kirkland merely leaned back in his chair, the supple leather creaking softly under his weight as she let out of all her worries, her frustrations, and her fears. He was no stranger to such things, and he knew that sometimes a person, Monster or no, showed their true selves when they cried. It meant he had done his job, or at least he had placed them on the right path.
A knock came at the door and it opened a moment later, admitting Joyce’s head. “Ms. DeLancy? I’m sorry, but your appointment time is over.”
Heather rubbed at her face, although her paws really didn’t do much to clean up the tears, mostly spreading them around like a mop. She sniffled, nose and eyes red as she nodded her head and gathered up her things. Dr. Kirkland stood as she did, and he gently put a hand on her back, leading her toward the door. “I think we’ve made some real progress today.” He said in a calm voice and she nodded, taking his hand in one of her wet paws.
“You… you’ve given me a lot to think about.” She said, a smile appearing on her face, though her eyes were still full of tears. She shook her head before laughing, the sound choked with tears, “I’m sorry, I’m such a mess.”
“Happens all the time.”
She laughed even more this time as she placed one of her man grabbers upon his chest. “I’d like to schedule another session with you Doctor… I’d really like to talk more with you.”
He smiled back, placing his hand upon her paw. Her grin only widened as he said slowly, “I’d love to get to know you better, although I’m afraid I only see patients during business hours.”
“What about after-hours?…”
He chuckled and pushed her paw gently away. “I’m sorry dear, but I’m quite gay.”
She stopped in place, looking at him with an utterly stunned expression. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Yes, you see, I’m gay dear.” He rolled his shoulders before shrugging. “I get these kind of requests all the time, but I just don’t swing that way. And before you ask, no, I’m not an alp, though I do counsel my fair share of them.” She looked down, deflating a little, and he placed his hand under her chin, pulling it upward. “But hey, if you wanted to go and look for some pants to help compliment your now unobstructed ass, I might be free for a little counseling.”
She looked to the ground, face going through a flurry of emotions before she closed her eyes and nodded her head, shit-eating grin appearing on her mouth.
“I’d like that.”