Welcome to the latest installment of my 2012 NaNoWriMo winning novel Master of the Drunken Fist. Missed a chapter? Catch up at the Table of Contents.
Not long after he returned from Cortez and had his revelation, Mike decided he needed to go back. Or at least try to go back. He still wasn’t one hundred percent sure he knew how he got to the void, but he had a hunch it was through alcohol. Not being one to turn away from a good drink, he looked for his opportunity to let loose and find his way back.
His time came when Noelle had to leave out of town for work. It was a bit unusual for her to leave, but she did on occasion and he thought the timing couldn’t have been better. For days, he had been anxious to get back to the void, to continue his excursion with Cortez or even meet up with the brothers again. In either case, he knew he faced certain danger. However it appealed to him wildly. Besides, there wasn’t much excitement to be had pushing a broom and emptying the trash. This was his way out, and he was ready.
“Mike, I’ll be gone from Thursday through Saturday. You should be able to reach me on my cell most of the time, but I might be in class when you call, so just leave a message and I’ll call you back as soon as I can.”
She looked relieved and refreshed. Mike hadn’t been drunk in over a month and things seemed to be looking up. She figured he had enough and really was going down the path of straight and narrow. After the last few times he had something to drink, she hoped so. He got mean, and violent. And not always towards her. He picked fights with his friends, he yelled, he threw things, it was awful. That side of him only came out when he drank. All the rest of the time, he was fine. More than fine really. He catered to her needs, even those she didn’t know she had. He was remarkable in his attitude towards her. He was truly a gentleman when he wasn’t drinking. That’s what made it so hard for her to leave him. She saw the good in him, she knew it existed. If only she could get him to live that life all the time, then things would be so much better not only for her, but Mike too. She knew her leaving might lead to him slipping and falling off the wagon, however she felt it would be a test of his resolve to stay away from drinking. He was quite adamant to her that he would stay sober.
“Noe, don’t worry. I’m good. I’m a big boy, I can handle things. You go, have a good time. Try to relax after your classes. I’ll be here when you get back.”
He leaned in, grabbed her by her ass, and held her close while he kissed her. She loved that sensation of being so close to him, and it felt so inviting there. Their embrace lasted for a few minutes before she broke it off, not wanting to be too late. It was a long drive to the conference center. “Love ya Mike,” she said as she walked away. “Love ya to Noe. Be safe. See you in a couple of days. Hey, call me when you get there, OK?”
“Sure thing, bye.” She got in her car and left, waving by as she drove away.
Mike already decided he’d drink the night she left, just in case anything happened and he’d be out a few hours or more. He actually took the Friday off of work too, all in preparation for what might or might not happen. He waited, watching tv until Noelle called him from the conference center Their conversation was brief, it normally was when she was gone and with her colleagues. Most times, it bothered Mike as he worried what she might be up to. However, this night, it was welcome. He had plans.
After they hung up, he immediately went to the fridge and grabbed the orange juice. For some reason, he had a desire for a screw driver. He hadn’t drank one of those in a while, and it just sounded good to him. They still had alcohol in the house, and they had the staples: rum, tequila, whiskey, and vodka. It was the vodka he needed this evening, so he got the bottle and mixed it with the juice. He held it in his hand for a while, thinking he must be crazy doing this. He laughed at himself, to think that he could travel to another dimension…by drinking! It sounded absurd at the moment, but he wanted the drink regardless, and lifted the glass to his lips.
The sweetness of the juice was cut just a bit by the burn of the vodka. It was a perfect blend of fire and sweet to Mike. He let the taste linger on his palette a bit before he took another drink. Satisfied with the mix, he went to the living room, sat down with his computer, and started checking his usual sites for the latest news and whatnot.
He finished the drink fairly quickly, so he poured himself another. He wasn’t sure how many he had when suddenly, he slipped into the familiar white nothingness of the void.
He knew what to do now, being an experienced man of the void, and began walking straight ahead. He looked all around, expecting to see a pinpoint of light or color indicating the exit he needed. Surprisingly, he couldn’t find a thing. He stopped for a moment, listening to see if he could hear the exit, and still nothing. He grew a little concerned that no exit from the void presented itself like the other times, but continued walking ahead, stopping every once in a while listening for the sounds indicating the exit was near. He still couldn’t see a thing, not even his hands, but it was something he knew to be part of the void.
Suddenly, from out of no where, he stepped through the exit and into a frozen wasteland. No wonder I couldn’t see the color, it was white like the void! he thought as he stared around him at blowing snow. The wind cut through him even though he wore a heavy fur coat. His hands and feet were covered tightly in thick wool gloves and leather boots lined with some type of fur. The layers seemed to not stop the chilling air is it howled around him. Where the hell am I?
He expected to be on a beach, or with the tribesmen, or at the least with the brothers. He didn’t expect this at all. Never in his his time here had he been in the cold. It was always warm when he visited here, so this caught him off guard a bit. Luckily for Mike, whenever he went to the void and beyond, he was always prepared with what he needed.
Mike looked around and saw shadowy figures standing nearby with some dogs. As he walked closer, he could start to make out some tents and a fire. The dogs barked at him approaching. The snow was blowing so heavily that he didn’t see the flames of the fire until he got closer to the figures. They were all hooded, and as far as Mike could tell, all male.
Stepping close enough to talk to them, Mike heard a language that seemed odd, though he recognized exactly the words they said and he understood every bit of it. The wonders of the void never ceased for him, and the one which instantly translated language was by far his most favorite one. As they talked, their accent reminded him of someone. Boris…Natasha? Mike saw images of a cartoon moose in his head and some spies. Are they speaking Russian? he thought. He listened some more and the recognition bells in his head started going off, telling him yes, it was indeed Russian he was hearing. Looking at the three men there, he was able to spot the leader easily as the voice inside him said Vladimir. The name clear as day, Vladimir. That told him all he needed to know about who these men were. He was transported to Russia.
The conversation of the men concerned boats and plunder. It sounded like they were looking forward to another haul. Of what, Mike didn’t know. They all spoke of going east, looking for some region. Kamchat, or Kamchatka or something like that. Mike had a hard time following, even with the gift of translation. Every once in awhile during the conversation, the one called Vladimir would turn to Mike and say something to the effect of “Isn’t that right Mikhael,” or “Don’t you agree Mikhael?” to which Mike would nod. He was afraid to say anything out of fear that he’d be discovered as a fraud. Eventually, one of the other men, Alexsander the voice inside told him, looked to Mike and asked him, “ So which way do you propose?”
For a moment, the question startled Mike. He wasn’t sure what to say or who he was supposed to side with. Finally, he said, “Whatever Vladimir has chosen, we will do,” and this time, he was honestly shocked with the voice that left his lips. He heard clear English in his head, yet like before, he spoke the native language fluently. And the Russian coming from him sounded so natural, and yet he never had a desire to learn it in his life, he hadn’t ever been around a person that spoke it either. Yet here he was, fluent and none of the other men were the wiser to it.
Vladimir smiled, turning to Alexsander and Sergei the voice helped him with, and waved them all towards the tents. “Tomorrow, we go east. The land isn’t that much further. Another few weeks and I know we’ll find it.”
That was when Mike noticed there were only two tents. He waited for just a bit to see which tent two men would go to, leaving him the other one. Alexsander and Sergei went to one tent while Vladimir went to the other, telling Mike that was his place, and he followed him inside. It was cramped, but it stopped the wind from blowing on him and instantly his face began to thaw.
Removing their heavy parkas, they both leaned on their mats of fur, turned towards each other. “Thanks Mikhael for supporting me, you know how much they have been wanting to leave this expedition, especially Sergei, but I think they will stay on course. Thanks my friend.” And then he covered himself up in wool blankets, turned to the other side, and slowly drifted off to sleep.
Wow, Mike thought. I’m in frozen hell…with Russians. I’m not sure where we are either. It’s freaking cold though! Man I so wanted to be on that beach again. Maybe I’m needed here? There has to be a reason for it. As he laid down and reached for the blankets, he noticed for the first time his arms were hairy. Not just normal man arm hairy, but almost bear like. It startled him at first because he was not used to seeing almost black arms on himself. Then he let it go. This place offered so many strange things that he figured hairy arms were the least of his concerns here. Staying warm seemed to him the most pressing need. The blankets did just that and with the tent holding it’s own in the wind, it wasn’t half bad here. After a few moments, he was able to fall fast asleep. He no longer cared where he was, he was along for the adventure either way.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment below. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.