CONAN THE RETIRED
by Steve Block
(based on the character by Robert E. Howard)

FADE IN: INT: TARANTIA — ROYAL BUREAU OF PENSIONS AND DOLES — ATRIUM — WEDNESDAY MORNING.


An enormous, imposing marble hall, the sort of place that is designed to make people feel small. Huge pillars line both sides of the hall. At the front of the hall are 20-foot-tall cast bronze double doors decorated with relief depictions of past kings of Aquilonia, partially open. Matching doors are closed at the back of the hall. The distant ceiling is decorated with a mosaic of the stern-faced god Mitra dispensing justice to multitudes. Near the depiction of Mitra a large skylight casts morning sunlight into the hall. A row of large marble desks are arranged at the back of the hall, just in front of the rear doors. Only one of the desks is occupied; the rest are deserted. A long line of old, halt, and lame citizens snakes from the front doors to the single occupied desk, behind which sits a man who looks like a plump, balding weasel. A line of sub-teen boys stands against one of the side walls.


A tall, broad-shouldered stranger enters through the front doors. He wears a voluminous gray, hooded robe; a gray beard projects from the bottom of the hood; from within the hood a pair of brilliant blue eyes gleam volcanically. The Grim Gray Stranger surveys the hall, heaves a deep, gusty sigh, and takes his place at the end of the line.


FADE TO:
A SERIES OF MONTAGE SHOTS AS THE GRIM GRAY STRANGER SLOWLY WENDS HIS WAY, AT THE SHUFFLING PACE OF THE OLD, HALT, AND LAME CITIZENS, TO THE DESK AT THE REAR OF THE ROOM.


The shadows march across the hall, reflecting the changing angle of the sunlight as morning changes to afternoon. From time to time, one of the supplicants beckons at the boys along the wall. A boy runs out and takes the place of the supplicant, who shuffles out of the hall. When the supplicant returns, he hands a copper piece to the boy who held his place. The GGS, however, grimly holds his water.


FADE TO:
INT: THE HALL — LATE AFTERNOON.


The GGS has reached the front of the line. His eyes glitter with all the vitality of river-washed pebbles.


BUREAUCRAT
HowcanIhelpya?


The GGS throws back his hood, and is barely recognizable as an aged Conan. The top of a chain mail byrnie is barely visible at the neck of the robe. The bored bureaucrat, however, has his eyes on the papers on his desk, and doesn’t even see Conan’s face.


CONAN
I haven’t received a pension check in three months. I came here after the failure of the first check to arrive, but they told me I had to wait a full three months before complaining. Now it’s been three months, and still no check.


The BB hands Conan an inch-thick stack of parchments.


BUREAUCRAT
Fill these out and come back next Tuesday – that’s Complaint Day. Hand in the forms, then come back the following Monday – that’s Action Day, when they’ll tell you what action they are or are not taking, and why or why not.
(The bureaucrat still isn’t looking at Conan. He doesn’t see Conan’s eyes ignite like twin blue afterburners.)


SFX: Fwoomp!


Conan ignores the parchments; his left hand snakes out, grabs the front of the WB’s tunic and hauls him out of his chair and half-way across the desk. The WB stares cross-eyed, close range, at the razor-sharp edge of the three-foot Ilbarsi knife that has somehow materialized next to his neck, in Conan’s right hand.


BUREAUCRAT
(In a strangled voice, as he forces the words past the constriction in his tunic collar)
Uhh… the check is in the mail?


CONAN
(Growling through gritted gums)
No. The Cimmerian is in the mail. I want the check to be in my belt pouch before my bladder cuts loose, or your head will be on the floor before your severed neck starts spouting blood.


BUREAUCRAT
(Genuinely alert for the first time all day.)
OK, OK, just leggo of me and I’ll write you out a voucher.


CONAN
The three months are already over. Better make that voucher for four checks.


BUREAUCRAT
(Desperately trying to breathe, and talk)
Yeah, yeah, anything you say, just leggo of me!


CONAN
(Letting go of the BB)
And don’t even think of calling the guards, or this hall will be awash in blood, and the first blood will be yours.


BUREAUCRAT
(Resentfully)
OK, OK. Sheesh! Some people!
(He scribbles on a blank parchment and hands it to Conan)
Take this through that side door,
(Pointing)
and take it to the cashier in the next room; she’ll pay you.


Conan takes the voucher and scans it rapidly.


CONAN
(Ironically)
Thank you. If I have any trouble,
(Menacingly)
I’ll be back!


Conan strides for the indicated door, to the massed applause of the supplicants. He passes through the door.


CUT TO:
INT. ROYAL OFFICE OF EXCHEQUERAL DISBURSEMENTS — CONTINUOUS.


Conan finds himself in a room almost identical to the one he just left. Along the far wall is a row of barred windows. All the windows but one are vacant. Behind one window is a grim-faced, gray-haired old lady. A long line of old, halt, and lame citizens snakes across the room to the cashier’s window. Conan heaves a deep, gusty sigh, and takes his place at the end of the line.


EPILOG: CONAN AND THE GRIM GRAY CASHIER.


FADE IN:
INT. ROYAL OFFICE OF EXCHEQUERAL DISBURSEMENTS — CONTINUOUS.


Conan has progressed to near the front of the line – only a few people in front of him. He looks at the grim, gray cashier lady – her blue hair, her downturned mouth, her frown wrinkles. He fishes into his robe, then his hand travels to his mouth, and covers it. His hand moves, and his jaws work momentarily, then his hand moves away from from his mouth. He smiles experimentally, revealing a mouthful of dazzlingly white choppers. Suddenly, almost magically, he is transformed from a Grim Gray Presence into a Silver Fox. He closes his mouth, but a slight smile still plays about his mouth. He settles down, patiently waiting his turn.


THE END.

“Conan” ©Copyright, Conan Properties, Inc. “Conan The Mighty” ©Copyright 1996, William Galen Gray.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email