Consensus:Part 2:Delusion

By: Jason Tesar
Rena stared at her hands. They were shaking. They’d been covered in blood a second ago, and now they were clean.

“Are you alright?” asked Dr. Mallory.

Rena nodded, but she wasn’t sure.

“You seemed quite agitated, so I brought you back.”

Rena took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she flexed her fingers.

“There was trauma in your past, but we’re not going to revisit it all at once. I want this process to be safe and gradual. Alright?”

“OK.”

“Do you need a minute or two? I can get you a glass of water.”

“No. It’s my responsibility. I’m ready.”

Dr. Mallory frowned. “Pardon?”

“Sorry. I meant … we can talk now.”

Dr. Mallory smiled before looking at the notes hovering above her open hand. “You were in the forest again. But you weren’t hiking this time?”

“No. I was hunting.”

The counselor lifted her head slightly, but her brow was furrowed.

“It’s like hiking, but you’re looking for an animal,” Rena explained.

“The … deer, as you called it?”

“Yes.”

“You mentioned birds before, and now a deer. Are there other types of animals?”

Rena smiled. “Hundreds. Thousands, probably.”

“And you’re sure they’re not people?”

“No, they’re not people. I mean … they’re alive and breathing. Sure. But they’re not like trees or something.”

“I see. So why were you following this animal?”

Rena glanced at the carpet and swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. “To kill it.”

Dr. Mallory opened her mouth, but all that came out was a sigh. She looked down at her notes again and didn’t look up when she asked her next question. “How did you accomplish this?” Her voice trembled.

Rena didn’t want to answer, but her rating and her parents’ approval depended on fully submitting to Dr. Mallory’s process. “With a weapon called a bow. It’s made from wood that has been dried and shaped. Then it’s bent and held under tension with a bowstring made of sinew.”

Dr. Mallory looked up and squinted.

“The tendon that runs through the leg of a deer.”

The counselor glanced at her notes again. “Go on.”

Rena realized her descriptions sounded morbid. Making weapons from parts of a dead animal in order to kill other animals? She has every right to be disgusted.

“Go on,” Dr. Mallory repeated.

“The bow is used to propel an arrow, which is basically a stick with a sharpened point on the end.”

“Hmm. And the deer allowed this to happen?”

“No,” she replied, remembering the large, dark eyes that had stared at her.

“Did the deer fight back?”

Rena remembered the painted face of the soldier with strands of moss hanging in front of his eyes. The sniper had been one second away from fighting back. From pulling his sidearm. She wasn’t sure how she knew the word sniper. Or carbine. Or any of the terms that had seemed like common knowledge to her while inside the vision. But she knew them. She could explain all of them if Dr. Mallory asked. Fortunately, Rena hadn’t uttered a word of that. Only the deer hunt.

“No. They usually just run,” she finally answered.

Dr. Mallory’s forehead creased. She was doing her best to keep her disgust from appearing on her face, but it wasn’t working. “So you had to chase this animal and impale it—many times, I imagine—in order to kill it?”

“Well … no. The idea is to train until you’re accurate enough to kill it on the first shot. If you aim behind the shoulder, here,” Rena demonstrated on herself, “the arrow will pierce the heart or lungs.”

Dr. Mallory crossed her legs in the other direction. “Rena, you’ve been using a second-person point of view to describe this event. Are you aware that you’re doing this?”

Rena thought about what she’d explained already, and realized why. “Well … it’s not like I invented hunting. My father taught me these things.”

“This man, Eldric, is one of your delusions,” Dr. Mallory interjected. “Your birth parents died when you were very young. And you grew up in the orphanage. So …”

“So I did invent it,” Rena admitted. “Which means I’m trying to avoid responsibility for the concept of hunting by distancing myself through my language.”

Dr. Mallory pursed her lips.

“Which means I’m morbid. And violent.”

“Rena …”

“And disgusting,” Rena finished, tears now streaming down her face.

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