Welcome to chapter 12 of my 2012 NaNoWriMo winning novel Master of the Drunken Fist. Missed a previous chapter? Go to the Table of Contents and pick right up.
Mike recovered from his latest trip to the void as he’d come to call it, and convinced Noelle he’d stay away from drinking. He kept up the sham for quite a while. In fact, it wasn’t too much of a sham since he didn’t drink for a while, but he never intended to stop visiting the void and the wonders beyond.
He thought long about the void and tried his best to understand what was happening. For instance, what exactly triggered his passage into the void? If it was the alcohol, as it seemed to be, then how did it work? Was it working on him like some odd time portal? Did it free his mind to the existence of alternate realities where he lived in these various adventures and situations? How did he find himself in these places? What dictated where he went and what he was doing? He had no concrete answers at all. The voice in him only said to continue on, and don’t let anyone stop him. He could do that.
He pondered the meaning of his talent, or gift, he wasn’t sure what to call it. Only that it meant he could go to places and times no one else could and he had the opportunity to explore places he never would have imagined.
He often thought of the brothers and what happened to them after the Sponser attack. It was a horrific event that felt so alive in his mind. The screams…the blood…the hatchet. He held on to that memento, keeping it in the garage hidden from Noelle. He wasn’t sure how he brought it back from the void. That puzzled him greatly. How could he possibly bring something back from another time and dimension? Did it affect reality when he did, like how they always said time travelers could in the movies? If it did, he wasn’t sure how it changed anything. Nothing seemed odd, except his new gift of travel, which to him, wasn’t so much odd as it was exciting.
Then he thought about the episode with Cortez and the storm. Never being one for boating, it was different finding himself out on the open sea, part of a crew, and surviving that monster storm. He’d never experienced anything like that before and was damn sure he was staying away from any boat or ship in the foreseeable future. Nothing about that appealed to him in the slightest. However he wondered what happened to Cortez, left laying on the beach, half dead, and the tribesmen taking him away. It didn’t look promising for Cortez, but there was nothing he could do from this side of the void. Well, nothing he knew of anyway. Cortez was on his own and from the condition Mike left him in, he wasn’t going to do much and most likely was dead already. Mike accepted it and let it go. Fate was cruel, and he couldn’t change things anyway.
One thought he returned to when thinking about his trips was just how he seemed to belong where he was at. The brothers thought he was one of them. They talked to him like they knew him forever. It was strange how familiar they seemed to be with Mike, even though he didn’t have a clue as to who they were. Cortez and the sailors were the same way. They didn’t think it unusual for him to just appear out of nowhere and be part of the crew. They too acted like he had a long history with them, as though he belonged.
He couldn’t reason out how this was. It confused him when it happened and still it boggled his mind. Everyone he met beyond the void seemed to think he belonged there. It was not unusual to them that he just showed up. He felt like he appeared out of nowhere, but they treated him as though he was with them all along. They didn’t seem to notice someone new pop up. He thought maybe when he appeared, that he ended up in someone else’s body and took control of their thoughts and actions. That would explain not being noticed when he appeared, and also explained how he was fluent in the native languages and would just “know” things like names and such. Those things tended to startle him when they happened, as though someone were in his head telling him what to think and say. As strange as it seemed, he was getting the hang of it.
One thing Mike knew for sure is that he thoroughly enjoyed his visits to the void. Sure, danger seemed to be around him each time, but it was way more excitement than he had in this life. It also seemed to mean something. In his current situation, he was nothing more than a glorified janitor, making less than decent pay, engaged to a beautiful woman. He had no prospects for advancing. His life seemed planned out and he could see the direction ahead. Straight ahead with little deviation. Monotony faced him squarely in the eyes. He had no hope for something greater than a life of obscurity in a small town. Eventually, he’d die, and no one would remember who he was.
But in the void, beyond it really, he was someone. He played a role in something greater than himself. He had no cares about a job. With the brothers, he was part of a group, and they cared for him. They were out looking for him, courting danger with the Sponsers, all to find him and bring him back. With Cortez, he was alive because of Mike. These people cared for him, way more than anyone in this life did, except for maybe Noelle. And at times, it seemed to Mike that her attention came with exceptions, and if he didn’t follow along, then he lost the privilege of being with her. It was all a test with her, and more often than not he failed…badly. With the brothers and Cortez, there was no test, just complete acceptance. It filled him with a sense of something greater than what this life gave him. He didn’t want to give that up.
Trying to tell Noelle that would have been an exercise in futility. He knew that no matter how much she claimed to love him, this would have been too much for her. She wouldn’t understand. He didn’t think anyone would. How could they? How could anyone know what he was going through? No one could relate. How many people in the history of the world had these kinds of experiences? None. No one had the ability he had, to go through some sort of portal and find themselves face to face with history. Thinking about it, he considered how crazy it would have sounded to someone else. He would never have believed it himself, had the evidence not told him otherwise. He was a time traveller, if not, then at least someone who had the ability to change dimensions. Either way, it was exhilarating to find himself in some new place, ready to take on whatever came his way. The only problem he saw was how to make it happen at will.
That was a concern of his. If he was going to use this ability to it’s fullest, he had to be able to figure out exactly how it worked. He had a sense that drinking played a part in it, but how much? Was it the place he drank that did it? He didn’t think so. The times he went to the void with the brothers, it was at Gene’s after he drank his special moonshine. When he visited Cortez, it was at his own home. So the locations had no special meaning, at least he didn’t think so. All he could figure out was that alcohol was the key, it had to be. All three times he left to the void, it was after drinking. However it worked, he didn’t know. What he did know is that contrary to the promise he made to Noe, he was going to keep drinking. People depended on it. There was no other way to get to them. It sounded so bizarre but it had to be the way. What other explanation was there? And how would he approach Noe about this? “Sorry dear, I have to drink. People are waiting on me. I have things to do and the only way to do it is by drinking. Sorry, but I got to.” Yeah, he thought, that would go over well. He knew better. She wouldn’t believe and so he was going to have to find a way to continue drinking without worrying her too much, or better yet, without her knowing. He’d figure it out. Someway, he would continue to drink. He saw no other way to reach the void.
Thanks for reading the latest chapter. I hope you’re enjoying the story. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.