Welcome back! I hope you’re ready for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.
Brilliant sunshine beat down on Mike as he awoke from the void. At first, he thought he was still there, but the blaring of a semi’s horn told him otherwise. There weren’t any sounds like that there, were there? He thought. He pondered that for the briefest of moments as the sound of another horn brought him back to the present.
He was in his car, about a mile from Gene’s, off the side of the road. He was at the bottom of the large hill that indicated he was in “the bottoms,” a part of the land so called because the hills ended there and emptied out to flat, fertile soil. It was only eight miles from Brownsville, but felt so much further.
Sunlight burned him through the glass. It must have been late afternoon by the location of the sun in the sky. He looked to his watch, and he was right, it was 3:45. Oh my God, he thought, I’ve been here for hours! Noelle must be going crazy mad! He looked in the cup holder for his phone where he normally put it, and noticed he had six missed calls. All but one was from Noelle, the other was from work. Damn! This is gonna be hard to get out of, he said as he hit the voicemail button and started to listen.
This message recorded, Thursday, April 19th at eleven fifty-two, PM: Mike, this is Noelle. Where are you? I’ve been back home for about an hour and you are no where to be found. I called Gene’s and you aren’t there. Where are you?
This message recorded, Friday, April 20th at twelve fifteen, AM: Damn it Mike, where are you? Are you getting drunk again? Call me as soon as you get this, I’m worried. Gene said you left hours ago and no one has seen you.
This message recorded, Friday, April 20th at three ten, AM: Mike, I’ve been up all night. Where are you? I tried looking for you at your usual spots, but you aren’t anywhere. Mike, please, please call me back. Let me know you are ok. I don’t care if you are drunk, please call me.
This message recorded, Friday, April 20th at eight twenty-one, AM: Mike, this is your boss, Randall. Where are you? You are twenty minutes late with no excuse and no call-in. This will go on your permanent record. You had better call me back soon or look for another job.
This message recorded, Friday, April 20th, at six o-five, PM: Mike, this is Noelle. Where the fuck are you? Why are you not answering me? Your boss called today and no one knows what happened or where you went to. Call me back!
This message recorded, Saturday, April 21st, at five six-teen, PM: Mike, I don’t know where you are or what you are up to. I’ve called the police to report you missing. If this is some joke, you best let me know now. If you are hurt, we are looking for you. Please Mike, call me back.
Oh my God, he thought, I’ve been out for days! I’ve never, ever had that happen before. What is going on? Have I been here the whole time?
Mike got out of the car to clear his head. He was screwed any way you look at it. His job, his girl, and the police! Why did she call them? He looked down the road both ways and understood why no one saw him. He was in the brush on a backroad that was rarely travelled. His car looked almost hidden in the bushes and scrubs. The sun had just the smallest hole in the brush with which to awaken him like it did. He walked around the car, the urge to relieve himself strong and painful. He took care of it and leaned on the car, trying to think.
What about the brothers? Where are they? And those…Sponsers. What about them? He felt a cramp in his right hand, as though he gripped on something too hard for too long. The hatchett? He asked himself. No, it can’t be. None of that was real, was it? I mean, it felt real and I remember cleaving that black skull, but it wasn’t real, was it? Honestly, he couldn’t tell one way or the other. It felt so alive and real to him, but those things were not of this world and couldn’t possibly be real. But, at the same time, it all felt real. He half expected a Sponser to fly out of the woods at any moment and claw it’s way through his flesh and muscle like it did to the brothers. He looked over his shoulder just to be sure, but felt stupid the moment he did.
He had a difficult time differentiating between reality and..well, whatever it was he experienced with the brothers. He felt a tinge of guilt though as he thought of the brothers being taken away, screaming and in a panic, while he was here, safe, and smelling like shit. But that wasn’t real he tried telling himself. It was all a dream. They were some fucked up visions in your head. You can’t feel guilt towards fake people, can you? They were just visualizations of your sub-conscience, or something like that. He thought on that a moment, and then walked back to the driver’s side door.
Reaching in, he picked up his phone to call Noelle. He had to start there. She was going to be pissed and give him an earful for days, or weeks even, but he had to start there. So, with a bit of hesitation, he pressed her number.
It rang a couple times and she answered. “Mike, Mike, is that you?”
“Yeah, it’s me Noe.”
“Well where the fuck have you been? Do you know I have the cops out looking for you? I’ve been worried to death thinking about what happened to you!”
“I…I know, and I’m sorry Noe. I got drunk, and well, I guess I passed out. I just woke up in my car.”
“Are you hurt? Did you wreck somewhere?”
“No, I’m fine. I’m sore from sleeping in my car, but I’m fine. I think I’m on some back road just south of town, but I can make it back. I’m sorry Noe, I know you’re mad, but please, let’s work this out.”
“Damn right I’m mad! I’ve been up ever since that night, worrying and crying and just knowing that the cops were gonna find you in a ditch, dead. You messed up big time Mike. Your boss called and he wasn’t happy. I think you lost your job. Get the hell back home Mike…please.”
“Alright Noe. I’m sorry. I love you.”
“I love you too Mike. See you soon,” and she hung up.
She sounded angry, yet relieved, a sort of mixed bag that told Mike he was in for it, but it was gonna be alright. That was one less thing for him to worry about. How he was going to get his job back, he wasn’t sure. That could wait till Monday. All he cared about now was getting home, getting clean, and getting things straight with Noe again.
He couldn’t but help thinking of the brothers and the Sponsers as he got back in his car and started on his way home. The cramp in his hand told him it was true, but that could’ve been from anything. He began to dismiss it all when he looked down on the floorboard and noticed something. He slammed on the brakes and pulled off to the side of the road. Reaching down under the passenger side seat he pulled out a hatchet. It had some sort of black, thick fluid on the blade. “Oh my God, it can’t be!” he exclaimed. And immediately, he knew the brothers were in trouble and this was not a vision, it was real. The brothers were real. And that also meant the Sponsers were real. He shook with fear, not knowing what to believe anymore.
Thanks for reading! Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Come back tomorrow for chapter 8 of Master of the Drunken Fist. Click here for the Table of Contents and links for the chapters.