Welcome back! Here’s chapter 11 of Master of the Drunken Fist. If you need to catch up, check out the Table of Contents. Thanks!
Several days passed while out at sea. Mike lost count of how many times the sun rose and sank while bobbing in the open sea. He and Cortez floated at the mercy of the waves, no direction at all. For the most part, they were quiet. Cortez seemed pretty beaten up about the situation. He was in a lot of pain and struggled to stay coherent. Mike did all he could to keep from passing out himself. He was cold, but not freezing in the sea. Luckily, they were in a more temperate part of the world, wherever that was.
One day, Cortez opened his eyes, looked at Mike, and whispered, “We must find land soon Miguel. We must.” And then drifted out of consciousness again. Mike wondered if Cortez was like him and would eventually escape this place and go back to another time.
While lost in thought, Mike looked up when he heard gulls making a racket. He hadn’t heard them in some time. They sounded strange to him, the silence of the sea being so prevalent. When he looked further out ahead of him, he swore lights illuminated the distance. Green was visible there too. Land! he thought. “Captain, Cortez…I see land!” Cortez barely moved. He was in bad shape. He moaned a little and that was it, passing out again. Mike started to push the two of them towards the light and green he saw in the distance.
Slowly, palm tree silhouettes filled more of his vision. The gulls got louder, the lights brighter. It was evening and the lights were a welcome beacon, calling him to shore. He swam with all the strength he had left. It was now or never, and he decided now was a better option. The shoreline grew in size, he could see torches beyond the trees along the beach. Sand never looked so good to him in his life. The waves carried him forward and eventually, he and Cortez ended up on the beach, breathless and thankful. Cortez appeared exhausted and pain filled Mike. He laid down on the sand, looking up at the stars, admiring the beauty of a full night sky with all the lights blinking. He didn’t recall seeing so many stars back in his own time.
He and Cortez rested on the beach for some time drying off after so many days soaking in the sea. Cortez needed help and Mike remembered seeing lights in the distance and decided to go get aid. He sat up, looked at Cortez and said, “You need help Captain. There are lights beyond the treeline. I’m going there to see what I can find.” Cortez struggled trying to tell Mike something, though what it was, Mike couldn’t guess. “You stay here Captain, and I’ll be back soon.” Cortez’s eyes widened, and with all his strength left, reached out and grabbed Mike’s arm. In the faintest of voices, he said “Savages…Aztecs” and fell back to the sand, weakened from his action. Mike considered for a moment what he meant, but he needed to do something, so he got up to leave.
Turning towards the trees, he saw four men approaching. They were menacing with war paint on their faces, small strips of cloth around their mid-sections, and bracelets up their arms. A couple had pony-tails, while the other two had very short, almost shaved heads. And pointing right at him were long, deadly looking spears held by each man.
“You are white skinned man from far,” the closest to him said.
Wait, I can understand them too? I’ve never heard this language in my life!
The men did not speak Spanish as the sailors did, but some odd, confusing language that his mind easily understood. The world beyond the void never failed to surprise him. Approaching him, they struck him with a spear over the head, dropping him to his knees. One of the men ran to Mike and quickly tied his hands behind his back. “We do not like your kind here. You don’t belong. Our god will take care of you,” the one tying his hands said. “You and your friend, you will do good for him. He doesn’t like your kind and we must sacrifice to him. Now get up.” Mike struggled to stand. He wobbled a bit, and the next thing he knew, he was falling in the bright white of the void.
Opening his eyes he noticed Noelle staring at him. Looking around, he recognized the furnishings. He was in his bed.
“About damn time you got up Mike. How you feeling? I hope you’re hurting, you damn drunk.”
Mike’s head did hurt, right where the tribal man thumped him with his spear. “I’m…I…what?” was all he could reply. Going back and forth so quickly from the place beyond the void to his time now really screwed with his sense of being. Getting yelled at when wakening seemed like the worst way to start things off.
“Noe, I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened. I must have drank too much…”
“You’re damn right you drank too much! You made a fool out of me and yourself. I don’t know how much longer I can keep up with this Mike,” and she started to tear up. Mike hated that, it crushed him so much, because he knew he was responsible.
“Look Noe, I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know that I was in another world, another place altogether.”
“I know you were, you blabbed on about nonsense, and about how you were gonna be a sailor someday. You drove off everyone with your ranting. Why do you have to keep doing this Mike? Why do you keep hurting me, and keep hurting yourself?”
Mike sat up, feeling dizzy when he did. “I’m sorry Noe, I really am. How long was I out?”
“You passed out around ten last night. It’s two thirty now. Honestly Mike, you have a problem. I will not sit back and watch you do this to yourself. You need to get straight if we are going to be married. Do you got that? I am not going to be married to a drunk, least of all to one that shouts about things that make no sense and scare everyone. This has to stop. The last few times you’ve had any kind of alcohol, you’ve ended up making a fool of yourself and passing out for hours, if not days at a time. That’s not good, and it’s not right.”
She paused then found the courage to continue. “You need to do something about it. I love you, and I want to help. I can’t stand seeing you this way Mike. Please, for us, do something.”
Mike sat there, stunned to hear what Noelle said. He thought these episodes were actually interesting and that maybe they meant something greater for him, as though he were a time traveler or something, doing some special work that mankind needed. It sounded hoaky, but he’d seen enough movies and played enough games to just believe it might be true. It was as though the alcoholic episodes were a portal to another dimension. And it was opened to him because he was chosen for some special purpose. He thought he was destined for something great, all because he could get drunk, go to another place, and have some sort of adventure. He felt it surely meant something important in the grand scheme of things.
And yet, here was Noelle getting on his case, wanting him to stop. He thought she didn’t understand him and she might try to stop him from fulfilling his purpose. She was crying because of his great gift. He thought about explaining it to her, telling her about the episodes and what happened, but thought maybe she wasn’t ready for the truth. She would tell him it wasn’t real, that he was having some kind of alcoholic delusions, and that wasn’t true. He was having adventures, and they were real, and they meant something. He wasn’t exactly sure what, but just knew they were vital. He was given a talent, a gift, of travel and of understanding that was so unique. So, he decided to do the only thing he could do, he lied to her.
“Noe, you’re right. I need help. I need to stop this. I’m sorry for putting you in this situation. We’ll do something about this, I promise.”
Noelle leaned over and kissed Mike. “Thank you, it means a lot to me,” she said through her tears. Mike felt guilt wash over him. He had no intention of stopping. He had to be careful, but he could and would do it. There was a small, gnawing feeling inside that told him it was right and it was necessary.
She left the room and Mike got up. Looking in the mirror, he saw no signs of the strike on his head. It hurt badly, but nothing indicated it was from a spear shaft. He smiled a bit, wondering what anyone would think if he told them what he experienced when they thought he was “passed out.” He figured he did more in his moments in the void and beyond than any of his friends did in their lifetime. He had something special, and he planned on keeping it that way.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts on the story. Come back tomorrow for chapter 12 of Master of the Drunken Fist.