Category Archives: NaNoWriMo Writing

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 18

Welcome back for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist. Please be warned there is excessive cursing and alcohol use throughout the novel. If you need to catch up, check the Table of Contents.

Chapter 18

Abe stood there, expressionless. He had just witnessed the brutal slaying of his only remaining brother Elam. His blank face showed no sign of the rage dwelling inside. Like Mike, he too was covered in the thick, black blood of the Sponsers. Down on the ground, torn to shreds, were the remains of Elam. Mike felt pity growing for Abe. He had gone through so much pain lately, and Mike didn’t know how to heal him. He tried the only thing he could do. He walked over to Abe, and embraced him, like a brother.

It was then that Mike felt fully part of the brothers, full on Mikey. He felt their close bond. He knew what it meant to lose someone close to him as he recalled all the brothers. Looking up at the walls of the chamber, he cringed at the utter vileness of the hanging bodies. All of those people had a family, had someone that loved them. They all had an Abe.

“Abe, I’m sorry brother,” Mike tried to console. He was never good at that, but he felt so badly for Abe.

“Mikey,” he said softly, “I am too. We lost Elam, but his death wasn’t in vain. He died for a cause, a real cause Mikey. He will be remembered, just like you will. You done did good Mikey. Without you, ain’t none of this get set straight. We needed you Mikey. Thanks for coming back.”

“Well, I never left ya Abe, I’s always been here, just hiding, like you said.”

“Mikey, I know.”

“What are you talkin’ bout Abe?” Mike was honestly confused. He had no idea what Abe was getting at.

“Mikey, let’s git. I can’t see this death no more.”

“But what about Elam, should we do something?” Mike asked. “We don’t leave him here, do we?”

“No, we gonna bury him. I don’t want no critters getting to the rest of him.”

Going outside of the cave, they found a nice spot to use for Elam’s final resting place. Using their axes, they dug in the soft dirt under the light of the moon. When the hole was large enough, they went back inside and carefully brought out Elam or what was left of him. His face was mangled beyond recognition. His chest was tore open from the claws. They carried him to the grave, lowered him in, and after Abe said his good-byes, they covered him up, leaving a large boulder on top.

“Come on Mikey, we done here. Let’s go home.” Abe was trying to hold it together, but considering what he’d been through, Mike was worried about him.

The walk down was quiet except for the crunching of leaves and the occasional owl. “Abe, what didya mean back there when you said you know?” Mike asked as they reached the bottom of the hill.

“Mikey, I know about you. I know you leave.”

Mike froze. Abe looked at him with pity. “What do ya mean you know I leave?”

“Ya leave, ya go back. Mikey, you got a problem. Ya need to care for it before it gets ya.”

“What do you mean I got a problem? I just saw our brother killed, and got in the worst fight in my life to save us. I got no problem Abe.” Mike was getting worried, and cautious. Abe seemed to be letting on to something, but not saying it out loud.

“You go away, and ya got problems there. I know ya do. You don’t see it do ya? Well don’t leave it to me to tell ya what is and ain’t. You gotta do what ya need to do. I can’t do it fer you. You know what’s best, don’t ya Mikey? You take care of that. You got to think about what ya doing and who ya hurt. Got that Mikey? Look at what yer doing.”

Mike’s mouth went dry and he could hardly breath. Was Abe telling him he knew about his other life, about his other existence? How could he know that? How did any of this make sense? He was here to help them, not be preached at by Abe.

Mike tried regaining his composure. “Abe, what exactly you telling me? You know about my…other self?” Mike asked cautiously. He wasn’t sure exactly how far he could take this with Abe without giving himself up for the fraud that he was.

“Yeah I know bout that, we all did. We needed ya Mikey, and you needed us. It works that way here. We were weak against the Sponsers, but we knew you had the strength to take care of them. Just like I know you got the strength to take care of what problems you got back home. We will recover here, not easily but we will. You need to think about that Mikey, it makes all the difference.”

Recover? What the hell is he talking about? Mike thought to himself. His mind swirled at the thoughts of his two worlds colliding right in front of him. They knew, how did they know? He felt like he was struck with a crowbar over the head. They knew. They knew?

Moonlight washed over them as they stepped out from beneath the trees, and Mike could see that Abe was not joking about what he said. He believed what he said to Mike. Mike thought on it for some time, quietly mulling over all the possibilities of what Abe’s revelation meant to him. His two existences were fusing into one, and he wasn’t sure what that meant. He did know he was scared.

Before they got too much further on the path, Abe turned to Mike, “Thank you Mikey. You did us good. Now go, you got things to take care of. This is where we go our own ways Mikey. You get rid of them Sponsers, we can take care of the rest from here. Thanks Mikey, we won’t ferget you.”

“Thanks? What do you…” and suddenly he found himself spiraling downward, falling faster and faster into nothing. It was white, bright and brilliant all around. Just when he thought he was about to hurl from the spinning, he crashed.

Waking, Mike found himself in his bed at home. It was a familiar feeling to him to fall spinning only to find himself in his bed when he crashed to the bottom. He jumped up to look at the clock and it said four thirty. There was daylight outside, so it wasn’t in the morning. He wasn’t sure how long he was out. If it was over a day, Noe would be pissed to find him like this. He found his phone to check the date. It was still Saturday.   “Yes!” he said out loud. He was safe, or at least he thought he was.

His head pounded. Hangovers always sucked, especially when you hadn’t rested it all off. He tried to ignore it so he could clean up things before Noelle got home. Most everything seemed in it’s place surprisingly. He dodged a bullet with this one. He wouldn’t need to do much before Noelle got back except maybe take a shower and some pills to get rid of the pain in his head. For once, his luck was good.

Later that evening, Noelle came back home. At first, Mike was scared that she’d see something or know something. He had a brief moment of panic and paranoia, but it went away quickly as soon as she entered.

“Hi Mike, miss me?” she teased. She doesn’t suspect anything he immediately thought. Of course it was too early to tell, but at least the signs were pointing in the right direction.

“Of course Noe, I always do,” he said smiling and gave her a kiss. So far, so good man. Keep it up! he told himself. “Have a good shopping trip? Get anything good, anything for me?” he winked at her. He was feeling confident now. She hadn’t asked about him drinking, she didn’t seem to suspect anything, and she was in a good mood. He was three for three and would just need to bide his time till they went to bed so he could sleep off the rest of the hangover and then all the “evidence” would be gone. Luckily for Mike, that’s exactly what happened. Noelle didn’t nag him about what he was up to or if he was drinking. She seemed to accept it all at face value, and he was good with that.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts so please consider leaving a comment below. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 17

Welcome back to the next chapter of my 2012 NaNoWriMo winning novel Master of the Drunken Fist. If you need to catch up, check out the Table of Contents.

Chapter 17

Nightfall provided ample cover for the brothers as they sought vengeance on the Sponsers. It was a scary proposition going at night, but the brothers felt it would give them just the bit of an edge they needed to sneak up to the cave and do what needed to be done. All of them carried a weapon of some sort. Mike with the axe, Abe had one too, while Elam was left with the largest hunting knife Mike had ever seen, something like those Rambo knives from the movies.

Abe led them slowly up the hill. Fortunately for the men, there were scrub bushes and trees almost all the way up the hill. Strange sounds emanated from the forest. Growls, and scratching, and knocks spooked Mike, but he had to persevere. The brothers were counting on him, and he felt the urge to oblige. It was a clear night and their path was lit by moonlight. The lack of electric lights was quite noticeable here in this world, wherever it was. He knew they had no such thing. It was as if he not only went to a different place, but also back in time. Regardless, they were on a mission and he was going to see it through, unless the void took him back.

That part of the process troubled Mike. He kinda figured out the means to getting here, but he had no idea what caused him to leave here. Each time he left and found himself back home, there was something different going on. It wasn’t like an event triggered it, at least not that he knew. All he remembered was that one moment he was knee deep in it, and the next…poof! he was back home, usually waking up from passing out. The time he was out was different too. It could be days or only a matter of hours. There was no consistency to it, nothing to track, no pattern to it. If he could figure that part of it out, maybe he could manipulate it so that he stayed longer or left at the moment of his choosing. For all he knew, he could be gone before they reached the cave. It made planning anything here in this reality tough. He didn’t know if he’d be there or not, and mentally preparing himself for something and then it not happening was an exhausting exercise for him. He had to trudge on though, knowing he might be gone any minute added an extra layer of surprise to the venture. At least the people he left while here didn’t seem to think anything different about him being gone, if they even noticed at all. The rules of this place never did quite fit with what he expected.

They crept at a slow pace up the hill. They were wary of startling any animals in case they gave away the fact that there was someone hidden in the forest. Carefully, Abe plotted a deliberate course uphill, watching for small branches littering the ground and trying his hardest to not step on any. Mike felt some excitement about the adventure they were on. Adrenaline started flowing within him, giving him the boost he needed to physically, and mentally, be ready for what was to come. Nerves within him were lighting up. He felt strong. He felt invincible.

Nearing the entrance to the cave, a glow of blood red greeted them from inside. For all the coldness he felt when near the creatures, he was surprised by the warm color of their lair. As they got closer, Abe brought them behind a large boulder just next to the mouth of the cave. He brought his hand up to his mouth, indicating they needed to be quiet. That wasn’t a problem for Mike. He didn’t intend on alerting these evil beings to their presence until it was too late. Then, he would enjoy killing them for what they did. Hearing no sound of them approaching, Abe took them inside.

Despite the red glow from within, it was freezing cold inside the cave. It sparkled from gems hidden within it’s walls, reflecting the red light. It was an eerie sight. Mike knew he had to go on, knew this was his destiny. He had to kill these things. If he didn’t, he had a feeling that they would eventually destroy him.

Slowly, the three of them walked inside and stuck close to each other. Abe took the lead and he kept them on the side of the cave, trying to hide behind rock formations. They continued on until they came upon a large chamber. Mike looked around and high up in the chamber, there were corpses and what was left of corpses hanging by chains. There were men and women, all rotting, with some bodies missing pieces or rotted away altogether. It looked like some of them were torn into by teeth or claws, ripped to shreds, with blood all over them. There were too many for Mike to count. It was a disgusting sight. Apparently, Elam saw it too, because he turned away and wretched whatever it was he had inside of him.

Looking at the ground of the chamber, Mike saw it was dark red, almost a maroon color. It looked to Mike like blood dripped down and dried there. He noticed blood streaks from the bodies above, going down to the floor below. Whatever these things were doing to people, it was an abomination. From the looks of the bodies hung up, it seemed like they were being tortured before dying a slow death. Many of the bodies were old and rotten while a few looked a bit newer. It was then that the smell overwhelmed him.

It was the most powerful stench he’d ever come across. He had never been to a meat processing place, but he had come across roadkill near his home and after baking in the sun for a couple of days, it could be an awful smell. This was that, but worse in ways he couldn’t imagine. It smelled like death, like what he expected death to smell like anyway. Rotten flesh, dried blood, and something else. He couldn’t figure out what the rest was, but it was terrible. Momentarily, he second guessed his resolve to kill these things. He was not ready to be their next victim up on the wall.

Off to their right, a loud howl startled them. Looking, there were the Sponsers. From what Mike could tell, there were only three of them. He thought there were more last time, and then remembered killing the one. They ducked down behind a rock and watched as the black figures closed in in the chamber. Their red eyes, flames, darted all around as they peered at the hanging bodies. Indiscriminately, they tore flesh off of bodies and hungrily ate it. It was clear to Mike that the chamber was a storage for their food, the people they took. Watching one of the creatures peck away at a body with it’s long, black fingers, he saw something that almost made him squeal.

Next to the body the creature was picking from, hanging up on the wall, was one of the brothers. Elijah, the voice inside said. He tapped Elam carefully and pointed up at the body. Abe saw it too. Their eyes filled with tears, followed by rage. Mike sensed it from them. He felt the anger and hate well up inside them. Surprisingly, he felt it grow within him as well. He didn’t know these men very well, but felt a strange close kinship with them. Something inside told him they were his brothers and he must stand up for them. Elam started shaking, the sight of his brother getting to him. Just then, he stood up and shouted at the Sponsers. That was when it happened.

The Sponsers turned toward them and shrieked their loud cry of death. They moved so effortlessly towards them, as though they were ghosts. Elam lunged at one, but it was fruitless. It slashed at him with its clawed fingers and gashed his head before he could bring the blade home. He slashed blindly as the blood flowed down his face, but his blade never found it’s mark. Abe lunged at it to help his brother, and though he caught it off guard, it still moved just enough to have the axe miss. Mike followed, and his axe didn’t miss, striking the thing in it’s head, splitting it’s skull, spraying black blood all over Elam. The other two creatures joined the fight, as though the death screams of their partner was a beacon.

Black robes flashed all around. Screams filled the chamber. Not just those of the Sponsers, but of Elam and Abe as well. Mike fell into a trance, a bloodlust he tried to avoid dwelling within him. He moved swiftly to avoid the claws of the Sponsers. Flaming eyes seemed to be everywhere, taunting him. He used those menacing eyes to plan his strikes. He slashed with the axe, bringing it down on what he thought were arms, spraying more of the black blood all over. It sprayed on to his face, but only forced him to desire it more. He was completely washed in hatred for these things. They needed to pay for what they did to the brothers. And he was ready to collect.

Turning just in time to catch a claw with the axe, he stopped what surely would have been a fatal blow. Twisting the axe free, he pulled it back and swung with all his might, loping the head off in one stroke. He felt very little resistance to the axe as it separated head from body. A fountain of black blood spewed out as the head screamed on its way to the ground. Its body went limp and fell backwards. That left one more of the creatures.

It was attacking Elam, clawing at him while Abe tried to free his brother. It seemed not to notice at all and Abe’s attacks were pointless. He was shouting while it raised its arms slashing down on Elam who was screaming. The Sponser tore Elam to shreds. It slashed at his throat, opening a hole that filled with blood. Elam went silent as the creature continued attacking him, tearing him apart. Abe’s advances didn’t faze the creature in the least. Mike lunged in and started to attack with all his might. It blocked his axe with its arm, and Mike let go of it as it stung his hands. It went flying overhead, crashing down behind him.   Abe screamed at the thing, but it seemed to not notice him at all.

Reaching down to his belt, Mike pulled his knife free. He lunged and stabbed at one of the creatures flaming eyes. Surprisingly, the knife landed in something solid and the creature howled wildly, trying to clutch at the knife. Mike twisted it, which seemed to bring more pain to the thing, before pulling it out. The flame was extinguished in the eye. Mike brought the knife down with both hands, stabbing at it, not caring where it landed so long as it was on the creature. He stabbed and stabbed, and stabbed, bringing the knife down in sweeping arcs on the Sponser. By the time the thing stopped screaming, he had buried the knife within it’s skull with a force he didn’t recognize. He stood there, staring at it, with the knife sticking up from it’s black skull. Both eyes were now extinguished. He took the knife out and stabbed it where he guessed it’s heart to be just to be sure it was dead.

Silence overwhelmed him. He ached all over. His arms and chest were covered in black blood, mixed with the blood of Elam and himself as the creature was able to get in a few hits. He didn’t remember being struck, but he was overcome with a bloodlust that blinded him to what was going on outside of his actions.

Elam lay dead on the ground, a mess of blood and torn flesh. Abe was injured, but still alive. At least I saved one, Mike thought to himself as he came down off the adrenaline. Looking at Elam, Abe began to weep softly. He was spent. He couldn’t move. Mike felt sorry for him. He witnessed almost all of his brothers get killed by these Sponsers. But now, they could do no more harm. They were dead. Mike killed them. He was needed here.

It was clear to him that if he weren’t there, they would all be dead and the Sponsers would continue to terrorize the people. He ended it. He alone had the strength to do this. There was a reason he was here, and it was to save the people and stop the Sponsers. Recalling the ineffective strikes of Abe on the creature only validated his thoughts. He had a purpose here. He was something here. There was no way Noelle would take that from him.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 16

Welcome to chapter 16 of my 2012 NaNoWriMo winning novel Master of the Drunken Fist. If you’ve missed a day, check out the Table of Contents to catch up.

Chapter 16

True to his word, Mike was able to smooth over his missing day with his boss. He’d been a pretty good worker for over a decade and his boss was a pretty good guy, always ready and willing to give someone a second chance. Mike knew that, and took advantage of it. He felt kinda bad about it, but he needed to keep his job in order to keep Noelle. In the end, it worked for everyone and all was well.

For days after his last trip to the void, Mike thought a lot about it. He still was no closer to an answer to “why” and “how,” well a little close on to the “how” part. He was certain by now that alcohol somehow affected his existence in a very peculiar way. Namely, that it transported him to fantastic locales and interesting settings. There was no way in hell he’d ever go to Russia, or be on an expedition, or fight off the Sponsers if it wasn’t for the void. And to get there, he knew alcohol played a part. What he still didn’t understand was why didn’t he go to the same place every time and why did he go anywhere? Those things puzzled him immensely. He spent most of his waking hours trying to figure it out.

One day at home, lost in thought concerning the void, Noelle tried talking to him. “Mike, did you find help yet?”

“Huh? Help? Oh…yeah. My boss had someone the company uses for problems and I’ve been talking to him during my lunch hour,” he lied. He was not about to seek any help for a problem he didn’t have.

“Good. I’m glad to hear that. I know you didn’t want to, but I think it’s worth it. You will get better, and we will get better.”

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said in reply, not even thinking about what she said. He was too busy worrying about his next trip to the void. He had a stash of the ‘shine hidden in the computer room, and when the time was right, he planned on having some to see if he could get back to the void. He honestly didn’t care where he ended up, he just knew, had a feeling, that he was needed there.

For the rest of the evening, they sat quietly, watching tv until they went to bed. The next day, Mike got his chance to go back.

It was a Saturday, and Noelle was going on a shopping trip with her friends. They were only going to be gone for the day, but that was good enough for Mike. He desperately wanted back in the void, and he’d be able to. It wasn’t an ideal situation, because if he was gone long, she’d be pissed to find him on the floor again. It was a risk he needed to take.

Noelle left and before her car could get into the street, he was already at his bottle of ‘shine. It was some of Gene’s best stuff, and he kept it around just in case. He drank it straight, not bothering with a chaser. It burned worse than he remembered, and he had to stop and take several deep breaths. It stung his throat and ignited a fire in his stomach. This was the good stuff, and the pain told him so.

It didn’t take long, at least Mike didn’t think so, before he found himself in the nothingness of the void. The cool bright white surrounded him. He still tried to look at his hands, but like every time before, he saw nothing. He put his hands to his face, just so he knew they were still there, and yet he saw nothing. He could feel the touch of his hands on his face, but that was it. He was still surrounded by the bright, illuminating nothing. He let it go. It was something he needed to just accept and move on. It was one of those mysteries that would remain as such. It didn’t matter in the end, as it was only a means to an end. Kind of like the alcohol he used to get here.

He began walking forward, a familiar action for him once he got here. He decided instead of walking straight forward, he’d try and go in another direction, just to see what would happen. He stopped, took a sharp left, and walked forward fifty steps, counting each one. Then, he took a right and walked briskly forward. He didn’t fear running into anything as nothing ever got in his way here. The only time he recalled feeling the physical presence of anything here was when the mysterious hand thumped him during his first trip here. Other than that, there was nothing so he didn’t worry about it. He felt like a blind person, but instead of seeing darkness, as he imagined them to “see,” he was surrounded by a brilliant white radiance. The only thing he ever did see was when the void opened up and directed him to his destination. It took a long, long time walking before he finally found it this time.

Off in front and to the right, he saw the small speck of green indicating his exit. It was a wonder to him how so small a speck of color could be so noticeable. It was like looking at a speck of dirt on a clean white sheet of paper, and as you peered down at it, you start to see that it wasn’t dirt, but a picture all along. The closer you got, the more distinct it would get. As he got closer to the dot, which became a circle, and then a man sized hole, he saw it get greener and greener. There were trees, and hills, and blue skies above them. It looked somewhat familiar, sort of like the kind of place where he met the brothers. Stepping out into the green, he found himself standing in knee high grass just outside of the forest in front of him.

A thought occurred to Mike. He decide to say hello out loud. “Hello” he said calmly to the trees in front of him, and it came out in the backwoods-hillbilly dialect of the brothers. He was back. He made it back to the brothers! In a way, he was excited, even though the last time it ended with him killing a Sponser and the brothers being taken or killed by them. And in a way, he was terrified. Those creatures were ruthless and menacing. But maybe that’s why he was back. He killed one of them. The brothers seemed incapable of doing so. Maybe that was his calling here. With that noble thought in his head, he looked around for a sign of anyone.

Just then, Abe came running from out of the trees, in a white shirt and dark pants, trousers his head told him.

“Damn it boy, you get yerself in here fast! Them Sponsers is gonna git you, now run!” He seemed upset and more bothered than he ever did before. Not wasting a moment Mike decided to heed the warning and ran towards him. Abe led him to a small clearing not too far past the treeline, where Elam was waiting. Both of them looked pretty bad off.

“Where are the rest of the brothers?” Mike asked. All he saw were the two of them. Elam looked down at the ground, clearly disturbed by the question. “The Sponsers, they killed all but us two. They is after us Mikey. You been hiding purty well till I spotted ya out in the field there like you was out fer a stroll. Ya gotta be careful Mikey,” Abe said as he cuffed Mike on the head. It seemed that things went bad quickly after he left them. And it made sense that they thought he was in hiding after the last encounter he remembered. He left them. He wondered if maybe he could bring them back to the safety of his life in Brownsville, far away from the Sponsers. He did it with the hatchet and the coins, why not them? He considered it for a moment. It made sense. He’d have to revisit that later if and when the time came.

“We’s gonna find the Sponsers, and kill ‘em all Mikey. What you did to one of them made them really mad. They was screeching louder than ever after that, like they could all feel the pain of the one you took out. We think we know where they at, and we aim to get the best of them Mikey. You, Elam, and me. We gonna get them bastards and teach them ta never mess with us again. They spilt blood of our kin. We is gonna bathe in theirs Mikey.” And Abe looked ready to split them all in two. Mike was ready to do so as well. He did it before, and could do it again. Remorse was not part of his dealings with the Sponsers, they deserved nothing other than destruction. The way they maimed and tore apart the brothers, and to kill all but the three of them. They needed to pay.

It was interesting to Mike how quickly he bonded with the brothers. He actually felt part of them, as though he honestly could call himself kin. Here, away from all the cares of his other life, he wanted nothing more than revenge for the atrocities of the Sponsers. He was ready.

Abe unrolled a large bundle and out rolled several tools and weapons. Mike immediately grabbed the hunting knife, knowing full well how he’d use that from his time with the Russians. He also grabbed a large axe. Back in his normal life, it would have been too heavy for him to do much with, but here, his body was larger and more muscular, and he wielded it like he’d been born with it. He had his tools, now he needed to find the Sponsers to get back at them for what they did.

“You’s gonna do well with those Mikey,” Elam said slowly and quietly. “Them damn Sponsers don’t need ta bother anyone else again. We gonna end it for them Mikey. They hurt too many good folk. They gonna find we ain’t ready to be taken, that we is gonna fight ‘em. They ain’t gonna win Mikey, not now.” Mike felt a sense of need and urgency. He felt as though he brought some sense of stability and strength to the brothers. They looked to him for help, trusting he would and could do something about this menace. No one ever did that back home. At work, they just asked him to clean this or clean that or unplug the toilet after big Dale clogged it up after lunch. He was more than that here. He was a warrior, he was a fearsome force to be reckoned with. He felt it in his bones.

The brothers packed up what little things they had into their backpacks. Mike carried one so that Abe could take a break from carrying it. He switched with Elam after some time so that he was able to give them both a break at times. As they walked along under the cover of the trees, Mike learned that the Sponsers had slaughted all the brothers, even those they took as hostage at the last encounter they had, the one where Mike was involved. The Sponsers went from town to town, all throughout the small communities among the hills looking for Abe, Elam, and Mike. They terrorized the people they found, often killing one or two as a warning to the rest to mind themselves, lest they find the wrath of the Sponsers on them. So the brothers spent their time hidden in the forest, traveling lightly and quietly. They looked for him, and thought he might have been caught after all, though in the end it turned out they were wrong, he was just really good at hiding.

“We’ve been following them instead,” Elam said, talking about the Sponsers. “We think we found their hiding place up in the hill over there,” he said pointing north of them at a large hill. “There’s a cave up there, and we heard them wail and scream up there. We been waitin’ Mikey, to attack them where they live. We been waitin’ and finding you tells us we are ready, ain’t that right Abe?”

“Yeah, it’s right Elam. We are ready Mikey. You showed up just when we needed ya most, and I do think that be a sign from Almighty himself that we are meant to do this. These are demons, and we gonna send ‘em back ta hell.”

Mike hadn’t thought of them as demons, but it seemed an appropriate term describing who they were. It didn’t matter. They were evil, and he was going to do something about it.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment below. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 15

Welcome back to the next installment of Master of the Drunken Fist. Please note, this entire work contains excessive profanity and alcohol use. If you need to catch up, you can find check out the Table of Contents.

Chapter 15

Mike sat there for several minutes while the finality of what he did sank in. He took the life of another man, and enjoyed it. He felt comfort with what he did. He felt justified in what he did. He felt…natural with what he did. He wondered if the man he was now, this “Mikhael” enjoyed the blood lust as much and if he was a natural killer. Mike felt as though it came too easy for him. The swiftness with which he glided the blade to it’s target and the force he used, all told him this was not the first time he killed. He tried to think of other times, other moments of killing and couldn’t come up with anything. The void was great for giving him new abilities and allowing him to do things he never would do otherwise, but it was terrible at giving him the backstory about anything.

Sergei spoke first, “Great job Mikhael! You ok? That bastard chink deserved it. We’ve got their ship now.” The others patted him on the back for a job well done. Victor looked towards the ship, “Alright boys, let’s see what we’ve got here. If nothing else, at least we have some easier transportation.”

They boarded the ship. It was small, though not too small for the four of them to travel comfortably. Inside, they found travel gear for the men. There were still two men inside, dead and bleeding. “Get them out of here we don’t want their blood ruining things in here,” Victor said to Mike and Alexsander. They grabbed the first man, Alexsander with his arms and Mike with his feet, and hauled him to the deck. There, they unceremoniously dumped him over the side. The dead body made a loud splash as it hit the river. They did the same with the second, and watched them float downriver, facedown. Mike thought it looked like some movie he’d seen where the dead were tossed overboard without a thought or concern about them. It was sad.

Back inside, they looked around for anything of value. There were a few pieces of jewelry, some rings and gems. Other than that, they saw nothing else to steal and sell. “There must some trap door or hidden compartment,” Sergei said, full of impatience. It seemed to Mike that Sergei acted really anxious about the whole thing. He was a bit more on edge than even Mike was. That worried Mike. If one of these men seemed to be concerned, than maybe he should be too.

It took a lot of searching, but finally Alexsander turned up the hidden compartment. With a grin, he opened it like a birthday gift, slowly at first, then pulling the hatch open quickly. He revealed a space under the front bunk that was full to the top with gold and silver coins. Alexsander looked at Victor and his eyes were huge. Mike swore he saw a tear run down his cheek. It seemed they made it big with this haul. Mike too was filled with excitement about the find, though it took him a moment to realize that this was the void and he’d never be able to share in these riches in his normal life. Each man grabbed some coins and let them fall through their fingers. Mike held one up and saw they had Chinese characters all over them. He was unable to read the letters, another curiosity of the void. He figured he’d be able to read foreign words just as easily as he spoke them or heard them. It appeared his “powers” had limits then. He stuffed a couple in his pants pocket, and the men all started shouting about their great fortune.

“We’re rich Victor! We finally made it!,” Sergei shouted with such joy in his voice. He was truly in heaven with this find.

“Yes we are Sergei! We don’t have to go on this damn exploration anymore! The king can kiss my ass if he thinks I’m going to keep on this trek. I don’t need his money anymore and I don’t care about finding some land in this terrible, God-forsaken part of Russia. We are done. If we can make our way back, we will take our riches and part.”

The other men all agreed, not wanting to spend any more time out on the elements than they had too. They were more than willing to take the money and run. It sounded good to Mike, he was not one to forge ahead either. He looked again at the hoard in front of him and smiled. I wonder what I could do with some of that back home, he thought. I’d never have to work again! And he started to think on all the things he’d buy, from a new house, to a new car, to anything he could possibly want. This ship was loaded.

As he stared at the hoard, he noticed something strange in the middle of the stash. He bent over to get a better look and a large, white, hole of nothingness opened up right in front of him and he fell forward into it. The fall scared him and he screamed. It was a sudden and seemingly never ending falling and spinning. Eventually, he hit the bottom, and woke up.

Sweat ran down Mike’s face. His shirt was soaked. He felt wet all over. Opening his eyes, he found himself face down on the living room floor. Raising up on his hands, he looked down at his crotch, which felt especially odd. He was wet there too. “I pissed my pants!” he said out loud. “Just how long was I out this time?” he grumbled to no one. His head throbbed. His neck was sore, in the place where the man attacked him and pulled the cord tight around him. He rubbed it and looked at his hands expecting blood, but there was none.

Mike felt dizzy, sore, and spent. The clock said twelve fifteen. He found his phone on the counter in the kitchen and he had three missed calls. The date on the phone said it was Saturday. “Fuck!” he said at the phone. “I missed work. If they fire me, Noelle is gonna kill me!”

He checked his messages and two were from Noelle, and one from work. Noelle called to tell him she made it safely and the second she sounded a bit more ticked off that he wasn’t answering. She accused him of being drunk again. Damn, she’s gonna be pissed at me again. But then again, when isn’t she? She’s always ticked about something.” He checked the last message and it was from his boss. Like he feared, he was fired. He said Mike could pick up his things when he decided to show his face again, and that he was through with him. Mike hung his head and put his face in his hands. Damn it, damn it, damn it. This sucks. I need that job. Noelle is not going to be good with this.

 He didn’t know what to do. He was out for over two days, off exploring with some strangers in what he thought was Russia. And to boot, they killed other people. He killed a man, all while this life was unraveling around him. Confused and lost, he wanted to go back to the void, go back to where someone wanted him. At least there, they knew him and respected him. Here, they acted like something was wrong with him. He was fine. They were the messed up ones, not him. He was going to have to find a way to make it all work. He had to.

Walking into the kitchen, it looked like a party gone bad. There were dishes all over the place. Empty bottles of vodka, at least three of them, and an empty orange juice container littered the counters. There must have been enough vodka drank from those bottles to get at least fifteen or twenty people really drunk, yet Mike didn’t remember having anyone over. As far as he knew, he was the only person there, and no one else came over either. Of course, that was hard to know for sure because he had been out for the past two days. He decided to look around for anyone else, just in case. Shaking his head, which hurt from the massive hangover he had, he moaned while staring at the mess and the shape he was in. He’d never pissed himself, as far as he knew. It was gross. Only those nasty drunken bums did that. He saw one once when he was in the city. They had a sign saying something like “Homeless, please help,” with a small cup ready for some change. He remembered the bum smelled like alcohol and piss. It was clear as day that the bum pissed his pants too. He hated the sight of that man, and remembered thinking how the bum should quit sitting there and get himself a job or something. Ironic, he thought, I’m gonna be the one to need a job now.

That reality hit him while he went from room to room, looking to see if anyone else was there. He was jobless for the first time in his life since he first started working when he was fifteen. He’d always worked. And he never, ever got fired. He left a couple jobs, but always on good terms. This was different. Yet, he also felt that his boss was being a bit unreasonable. He only missed a couple days in the past year, it’s not like he had a problem or anything like that. There were a lot of people at the factory that missed more time than him. He felt picked on. He felt like his boss was trying to make an example, or maybe justify the fact that they needed to move the plant to Mexico because these Americans were too untrustworthy to rely on for a stable workforce. Whatever. He didn’t care. They were wrong. They’d see.

He finished looking around and saw no sign of anyone else. In fact, he didn’t see a sign that anyone else had been there with him while Noelle was gone. Satisfied with his search, Mike decided it was time to get cleaned up. He went to take a shower and as he dropped his pants to the tile floor in the bathroom, he heard something clang about. Reaching down into his pocket he found three coins, two gold and one silver. They had familiar Chinese markings on them. Mike gasped, and fell to the floor, clutching the coins. “How?” he said out loud and couldn’t manage to say anything else. He was stunned. Speech seemed impossible at the moment. He was frozen, caught staring at the three coins in his hands. They were the same ones he held and put in his pocket aboard the ship in Russia. His body started rocking back and forth, shaking uncontrollably.

“How did I get these?” he asked in wonderment. He was stunned finding them. It was similar to finding the hatchet in his car, but still startled him greatly. He sat there for minutes, unable to move, fixated on the coins. Thoughts swirled in his head, and none of it made sense. He wasn’t sure if he was awake, or if he was in the void still, or what. It made no sense that he would have something tangible from the void. Yet, it happened before and he let it pass.

It just seemed…odd to him. When he got the hatchet, he killed one of those evil Sponsers to save the brothers. With these coins, the saw his murder of an innocent man, and being complicit in the murders of three other innocent men. Somehow, that made it all the more evil to him. It took Mike several minutes of trying to wrap his mind around it when he heard a car pull in the drive. “Damn it,” he said out loud. Not wanting Noelle to find him sweaty and piss covered, he jumped up and got in the shower.

Noelle didn’t come in to say hi as she normally did. She waited for him to get out and dressed before talking to him. He knew it was bad. She must have known something about what happened. At least, his paranoid mind said so.

“Hi Noe,” he managed through the silence. She stared at him, eyes glossy from having just cried. “Why Mike? Why the fuck do you do this all the time?”

“What are you talking about Noe? I don’t know what you…”

“Shut up! You know damn well what I’m talking about. Your boss called me yesterday looking for you. You didn’t show up for work. He told me if you didn’t get there soon, you’d be fired. Did you show up?”

Mike was silent. He never had a good poker face.

“I didn’t think so. God, you are so fucked up Mike. So tell me, why couldn’t you go to work? What was so damn important that you had to miss work…again?”

He couldn’t answer. He was not one for confrontation, especially with Noe. He always had a fear that she’d leave him, and fights were the sure fire way of making that a reality, or so he thought.

“Mike, you make this so fucking hard, you know that? All you had to do was go to work, and you couldn’t do that. I bet you were drinking again, weren’t you? You have been doing so much of that lately. Every time I turn around, you’re throwing back something else. If it’s not one kind of liquor, it’s another. And the more you drink, the more you are fucking things up. You do see that, right?”

Finally, he spoke up. “Noe, I’m not drinking a lot and it’s not been causing many problems. I can fix this. My boss likes me. If I go in on Monday and smooth it over, it will be fine.”

“Mike, you have a problem. Don’t you see that? You drink…a lot! It’s getting in the way of reality, of life. You care more about that next drink than you do me or even yourself. That’s called being an alcoholic. You need help.”

“A what? Alcoholic? Really? I’ve seen those kinds of people Noe, and I’m not one of them. I have a house, I have, well had, a job, and I’m well kept. I don’t have a problem.” He wondered if she’d ever understand his need to be in the void, to experience adventure, to seek glory. He couldn’t tell her that. She’d think not only was he an alcoholic, but messed up in the head too. She’d have him in with a doctor in no time. No, she’d never understand. He had to keep his gift to himself.

“Damn it Mike, I can’t take this anymore. It hurts watching you do this to yourself. You need to realize there is a problem, and you need help. I don’t know how or what you need to do, but I know you need help. If you are serious about it, I’ll stay and do what I can for you. But if you fuck around and don’t try to fix this, I’m leaving. I won’t stay and watch you kill yourself or others. I won’t Mike.” And she started sobbing loudly.

Mike was paralyzed, unsure of what to do. He didn’t need help, he knew that much. But, he wanted Noelle to stay. She was the best thing to ever happen to him. Losing her would crush him. He was never much good with break-ups. Silently, he pondered what to do, and again, he decided he’d lie his way out of this. Noe needed consoling, and assurance, while all he needed was time to figure out how to get back to the void, where he was someone.

“Noe,” he started in a soft voice, “I’ll do whatever I need to in order to keep us together. I don’t want to lose you, ever. If that means cutting back on drinking, I’ll do it.”

“No Mike, not cutting back. Stopping. Completely.”

“Noelle, I,” and then he shut his mouth, thinking what to say next. “Noelle, I’ll get some help. I’ll look into it.” She responded by nodding as her outbreak of tears began again and she was unable to speak.

That night, restless sleep came to both of them. Noelle because she was upset and frustrated with what had been happening. Mike because he was plotting how and when he’d visit the void again.

Thanks for following the story! You’re over halfway to the end. Please feel free to leave a comment below. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter in Master of the Drunken Fist.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 14

Welcome back for the latest chapter of my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel Master of the Drunken Fist. Miss any chapters, check out the Table of Contents and catch up!

Chapter 14

Early the next morning, Mike awoke to the loud bodily sounds of his Russian tent mate. It was disgusting, but the man, Victor, just laughed, “Yah, you should get up now Mikhael. The sun will be up soon, and we have plenty to cover today.” He laughed a bit more as he got up and dressed himself. Mike didn’t know what he thought was so damn funny, but decided he didn’t care either. He knew so little about Russians, and so little about these men that he thought it best to sit back and observe for a bit until he got his bearings.

Sergei cooked up breakfast for the men and they ate it around the almost dead fire that sat between the two tents. It was allowed to die down since they were on their way out. Wind whistled through their camp, making Mike shiver. He looked around them and saw nothing but forest. Evergreens cluttered the landscape, most with a good coating of snow on their branches. Mike wasn’t one for the snow, ever, and he couldn’t think of a worse place to be than in frozen Russia, assuming that was where they were.

The men were fairly quiet as they packed up the gear after breakfast, keeping to themselves. Mike didn’t like the silence of the men. It worried him. It was like a cat, going completely still and silent while watching it’s prey, getting ready to pounce when the opportunity presented itself. They all had an air of deadliness to them which he hadn’t experienced with his other trips to the void. He hadn’t expected that. He expected a romp in some other dimension, with no consequences or moral judgments to be made. With these men, he felt like he ought to watch his back the entire time, if only to find a knife sticking out of it and one of them grinning at him for doing it.

It took some time, but they got camp broken down and in their backpacks. Surprisingly, the tents fit easily in the packs and didn’t weigh much, as Mike was one of the two designated carriers, much to his dismay. As light as it was, it was still clunky and cumbersome to carry. Alexsander carried the other one and he seemed to not be bothered by it at all. Victor lead the way as they followed a path among the overgrown trees on an easterly course.

Walking along, Mike had time to think about his situation. He pondered the point of walking on in the snow, and what the hell they were even doing in the first place. Normally, the action in the void was immediate and the goal fairly obvious. With these Russians, they kept to themselves and he had no clue what they were about. All he knew was that it was cold. And white and green. The wind wasn’t constant, yet it made it’s presence felt often enough to chill him to the bone. He could see his breath every time he exhaled. Where on earth are we going? he thought to himself. He couldn’t figure out the plan at all. Even when they stopped for lunch, which was a wretched piece of salted, dried fish washed down with water from the stream where they stopped, they didn’t talk about anything but the cold.

After lunch, they picked up again, this time following the course of the stream. After about an hour or so, Mike didn’t have a watch on him, the stream emptied into a large river heading north. Victor continued on, following the river. At one point, he turned back to the men, “Shush,” he whispered. “I think I can hear them.” Them? Mike thought, Who? What’s he talking about? Victor motioned for them to get down, and they all did. He pointed south on the river and Mike heard the sounds that caught Victor’s attention.

From almost out of nowhere, a small covered boat appeared on the river. There were lights inside, and a couple men outside, steering it along. It had one sail, nothing like the large ship he was on with Cortez. They watched silently as the ship grew closer to them. As it did, Mike noticed they looked different. They looked Asian. He was surprised too, because it caught him off guard. They were talking among themselves, but it was loud enough for them to hear on shore.

“This river, it ends many miles up from here. We will find the market there and we can unload all of this stuff. We will come home rich!” The man on the wheel said to his fellow sailor. Mike paused for a moment, marveling at the fact that he could understand their language. The other men with him seemed to know he had the ability too, and they turned to him. “Mikheal, what did they say?” Sergie asked him quietly.

“Well, they said they had a lot of items to sell up at some market and they were going to come home rich.” Victor grinned, and it scared Mike. It was one of the most evil looking faces he’d ever looked on. It had murder in it. His eyes sparkled with it. “We follow them, and when the time is right, we strike. We’ll see who is rich my friends,” he said, laughing a little too loudly. One of the men on the ship looked around, but seeing nothing, went back to his work.

Mike didn’t like where this was going. He didn’t like the cold, he didn’t like the Russians, he didn’t like the feeling he was having. There was an air of danger about these men that he hadn’t picked up on before. He cursed himself for not noticing it earlier. Looking around, he saw knives, large bone handled and definitely used, hanging on the waist of all of them. He looked down at his waist and one hung there too. He lifted it up and looked at it. The blade seemed a bit rusty, except for the fine edge, which was shiny and deadly. The bone handle looked old and worn, spotted with what he thought were rust spots from the blade, or possibly blood stained. He preferred to think it was rust. Dread filled him. Was he a killer? Were all of them? Or was the knife for hunting? The thoughts swirled in his head as he tried to make sense of it all.

This was not what he wanted from the void. He wanted adventure, not death and killing and who knows what they had planned for the rest. Of course, he could have just been getting ahead of himself and making it all up. He hoped so. However, the lust emanating from the men’s eyes told him something different.

So for the next few hours, as the sun made it’s way across the sky, the four Russians followed silently. They maintained a safe distance from the ship, but never out of earshot. Occasionally one of the men would turn to Mike, asking for a translation, but the talk on the ship was fairly common chit-chat. Mike figured they were wanting to know if the sailors had spotted them. “I’ll let you know if they say anything about us. They don’t know we’re here. If they do, they are hiding it well,” he said to Sergei. Satisfied with that, the men continued on in their stealthy silence.

It wasn’t until late afternoon that the ship made it’s way to the shore. The men on deck talked about getting on dry land for a bit and holding up for the night. Luckily for the Russians, they docked on their side of the river. Hidden by brush, the four Russians carefully unloaded their packs. Victor was the first to speak. “We have our fortune ahead of us men. By my count, there are only three of them, so this should be easy. We wait a bit while they get comfortable and their guard is down, then we go in for the kill. We get a ship and some goods tonight.” The other men nodded in agreement. Mike was taken aback. He’d never imagined this. He was about to kill another human being, something he had never, ever, ever come close to doing. And these men seemed like it was nothing, as though it were as natural as putting on your pants. “Mikhael, are you ready?” Alexsander asked him. Mike hadn’t shown his best poker face and they must have seen something different in him. “I, ummm, I’m ready. Sorry, the cold has gotten to me,” he lied. He was scared out of his mind! He’d never sign up for killing anyone and didn’t know if he could do it. He wasn’t much of a fighter back home. He fancied himself more as a lover instead. A lot of good that’s gonna do me now, he thought. This seemed crazy, there had to be another way. Looking in Sergei’s eyes, death smiled back at him. Apparently, there was no other way. They were going to do it.

The sun started it’s slow descent into the darkness of night, the time of day when shadows ruled, and things lurked about hidden. They happened to be the lurkers this night. And Mike was shaking from the thought of it. Slowly, as hunters stalking their prey, they approached the ship. Mike saw a few lanterns inside lighting the small cabin. There must have been a cargo hold somewhere because he couldn’t see anything inside that told of wealth.

As they closed in on the ship, Sergei pointed out one of the men on the bank, sitting down on a stump, enjoying a pipe. Smoke twirled in the air as he took a drag and let it out slowly. He was in pure enjoyment of his tobacco. The smoke he puffed out billowed around his large conical hat. He wore dark blue garments that Mike thought looked similar to those kung fu movie robes he’d seen so often. He half expected the man to stand up in a crane-like pose and begin a beating on the four of them. Then he thought better of it when he realized this was not a movie and something serious was about to happen.

Sergei put his fingers to his mouth as a sign to stay quiet, and he went around behind the man enjoying his pipe. Slowly, he crept closer. Mike saw the blade in his hand, pulled back and ready to strike with deadly force. Mike watched, horrified, as the man dragged on the pipe one last time. Sergei wrapped his left hand around the man’s mouth, silencing him, while with the bone handle knife in his right hand, he plunged deep into his back. Blood ran down his arm, onto the ground. He twisted the knife, making the man whimper ever louder, but the large Russian’s hand was in a tight stranglehold across his mouth, muffling the sound to the men on the ship. His eyes widened to an unnatural size before the glossy look of death swept over them. He slumped forward and Sergei carefully let him down. Now there were only two.

Mike shuddered at the sight of death. It was a lot to take in. He silently hoped the void would take him away, though there didn’t seem to be any sign of that happening.

Sergei waved them closer. The Russians drew their knives, and Mike did the same. Walking toward the ship they could hear the men inside talking.

“Damn, what I wouldn’t do for a woman,” he heard one of them say. “Yeah, these Russian women are nothing like our women. I cannot wait to be done and get back home,” the other replied. Of course, the Russians had no idea what they were saying, though Mike with his “gift” knew their thoughts exactly.

Alexsander walked back to the dead man, took his hat, and put it on his head. As he walked back, he said, “It will give us a moment of surprise. Should be all we need.”

Stepping on to the ship, the other two on-board didn’t even break from their conversation, obviously thinking their partner was coming back on board. Sergei followed as did Victor. “Mikheal, stay here in case they escape.” The three men stepped down into the cabin, not caring what the sailors thought. They were cornered and death inevitable. Mike heard screams and through the small windows and saw arms flailing and the glint of a blade. Blood splashed on the window, splattering all over it, obscuring his view inside. He cringed. As he stared at the ship, he suddenly felt something around his neck.

Fear engulfed him as he realized it was a cord of leather wrapped around his neck. He could feel the brim of one of those hats on his head and saw dark blue sleeves on both sides of his head, hanging on the hands that wrapped the cord around his neck. He could hardly breathe and started seeing spots mixed with blackness. No! he screamed inside, he was not going to die like this, not here. He struggled with the man. They must have mistaken the number of men on board. He fought hard to free himself from the stranglehold. He tried to find something to brace himself on when his feet slipped from under him. His attackers held on to the cord with one hand as he slipped another cord, already knotted, around Mike’s right hand. Pulling violently on it, he drew it tight against him. For a moment, Mike let go of the arm at his neck to try and free his hand, which ended up being a mistake. The man grabbed ahold of Mike’s free hand and quickly tied it to his other one behind his back. Mike gasped for breath as the cord went slack around his neck, but just as soon as he did, the man reached up and tightened the grip again. Mike’s hands were bound behind him and he couldn’t free himself. He felt death’s vile hands slip around his life. It was only moments now.

Sergei and Victor climbed out of the boat, cheerful in their victory until they caught sight of Mike subdued by the remaining crewman. Running towards him, they knocked him back. Mike felt air rush into his lungs as the cord slacked from his neck. His arms were still behind him as he fell over from the blow of the Russians on his captor. They pummeled the man senseless. Alexsander went to Mike and loosened his bonds. Mike reached down for his blade and firmly held it in both hands. Looking up from their beating, Victor and Sergei saw blood-lust in Mike’s eyes, the same thing he saw in theirs before. They stopped their beating and Mike saw that the man still breathed, though it was shallow and slowing. Victor smiled. “Have at him Mikhael,” and Mike stepped forward, plunging the knife all the way to the hilt in the man’s chest. Blood spurted from his mouth and soon he stopped breathing. Mike’s knife rested deep within his chest with his hands still on the handle. He felt the last breath leave him, felt the power of taking another’s life surge through him. And unlike what he would have guessed, he felt no remorse for what he did, but rather a sense of relief and power. He held the key to this man’s life and he snuffed it out without hesitation. It helped that he looked on it as self defense, though he wondered if that would have mattered anyway. The sick feeling he thought he would have was replaced with a sense of awe and wonder. He took this man’s life and it felt wonderful. He removed the knife and cleaned the blood off on the dead man’s coat.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re enjoying the story. Feel free to leave a comment below. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 13

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.

Chapter 13

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.


Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 12

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.

Chapter 12

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.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 11

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!

Chapter 11

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.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 10

Welcome to the next chapter of my NaNoWriMo novel from 2012, Master of the Drunken Fist. Miss a chapter? Check out the Table of Contents and pick right back up.

Chapter 10

Mike slept peacefully enough. The swaying of the ship soothed him in a way he never knew possible. Waking, the world was bright and for the briefest of moments, he thought he was back in the void. The smell of salt on the air told him otherwise. Well, I didn’t wake up in the “real” world, so that’s new he thought while laying on his bunk. He half expected to wake to a world with cars and internet and cell phones, though now he knew different.

“Trouble on the starboard side sir!” he heard someone yell from the deck in flowery Spanish. He could almost get used to being immediately fluent in various languages like this. It was an interesting “super power” he suddenly developed. Imagine what I could do with that kind of skill back home he thought to himself smiling. He would be the most important person on earth. Well, he’d be valuable, that’s for sure. Just think of how many conflicts he could avert as an interpreter that knew exactly what everyone was saying in their native tongue, and to speak it in return.

“There’s a squall coming right at us sir!” the panicked voice yelled. That brought Mike to attention quick. He jumped out of his bunk and ran top side to see what the matter was, along with the rest of the crew. Sure enough, far on the starboard side, the meanest storm Mike had ever laid eyes on loomed menacingly. He heard of bad hurricanes before, but he’d never experienced one. Living in the Midwest, he tended not to see many of those. This storm looked fierce. The sky was almost black and the rain pounded the sea. Waves began to get a bit more choppy where they were at and he could feel the breeze kick up. He didn’t like the feel of this one bit. Not being a sailor at heart, he wasn’t sure what to expect from this.

The crew scrambled in every direction, tightening ropes, pulling down the sails, getting loose items down below deck. He didn’t know exactly what to do. He started to take some loose barrels down below when the wind gusted and tore free a sail. The wooden beam it was attached to swung around and knocked a sailor overboard. No one seemed to care as they ran around trying to prepare the ship. Mike rushed to the side where he fell and looked overboard to see him struggling in the waves. He looked for a life preserver, then realizing those things probably hadn’t been invented yet, he found some rope laying in a neat coil near the mast. Running to it, he pulled it free and tossed it over the side, only to miss the sailor badly. He hauled it in for another try, but as he was ready to let it go, waves overcame the sailor and he never bobbed back up. Mike cussed, wishing he could’ve done more. The ship rocked wildly now. Up one wave and crashing down the other side of it. The black sky crept closer to the ship and wind and rain pounded everything.

Most of the crew stayed on the deck, holding on to the rails along it for their lives as the ship lunged up and down. Sailors yelled and were instantly drowned out by the howling wind. He saw the captain at the huge wheel, trying to control the ship, though it seemed futile. The storm did what it wanted with the large ship. Through the wind, Mike heard the main mast crack and snap. It was carried off by the wind, falling to the side of the ship, pulling rope and men with it. Another crack, and the smaller sail in the front split cleanly and flew off into the sea. All that was left was a small sail in the rear of the ship, which the crew had managed to pull in and secure in time. From side to side and front to back, the ship tossed about.

Mike thought this was more real, more terrifying than those damn Sponsers ever were. He feared drowning, always had. And now, it seemed he was about to find out what it was like. He desperately hoped the void would take him back to the world he knew so well, take him away from this. He didn’t want to die here. He didn’t want to die clinging to a rail in the middle of some sea with men he didn’t know. This was not how he wanted it to end. He closed his eyes tightly, wishing, hoping, praying for the void to take him back. It was hard keeping them open with the salty water spraying in them, and he pressed his eyelids together to protect and pray.

He opened them just in time to see a huge wave overcome the ship. It crashed down on top of him, engulfing the entire ship in the cold surf. It swept a man overboard and Mike didn’t dare move. He couldn’t help the man if he wanted to. The wind and rain and pounding waves battered him about too much. His grip felt loose on the rail. Constant waves and rain made it hard to hold on to. Looking around him, he saw other sailors holding on for their lives, tossed around and beaten by the waves. The captain tried to hold the wheel, but it broke against the strong current of the sea. Now they were in trouble, with no way to steer and no way to control the ship, leaving their fate to the storm. Mike looked away, he couldn’t stare any more at the broken wheel. Dread and panic seeped in. He was doomed, and he knew it. There was no way to get out of this. The void failed him, and he was not a sailor. Briefly, he wondered what would happen if he died here? Would that mean he died for good in the other “lives” he lived? There was no way of knowing and he was in no hurry to find out. With that extra bit of resolve, he clung to the rail with both hands, while intertwining his feet around them to get the most secure grip he could.

Just then, two waves converged on the deck, one from both sides. They slammed down with such ferocity that Mike thought they killed him on impact. That was only false hope. Instead, they broke apart the ship. It was as though the ship were a twig it broke so easily under the crushing blow of the waves. Sailors screamed and could be heard over the sound of the storm. Crunching and tearing accompanied the screams as the ship split, the front and back sections going in different directions. The middle, where the waves struck, leaned into the sea while the ends of the ship stuck up high in the air, blown by the strong winds. Mike felt himself rise up in the air with his section of the ship. Then, it began to slip into the water. He had visions of the Titanic, sinking in those icy waters so many years ago, and wondered where the life boats were now. Loud suction and creaking sounds filled his ears as the ship started its downward slide. Debris slid down the deck, hitting him all over. He closed his eyes as the stinging salt water and who knows what from the deck splashed over him. It was the end, he could feel it. He longed for the void. It didn’t come.

His section of the ship, the back end, the aft he heard himself say, quickly descended into the dark, cold water. The force of the sinking ship submerged him and held him under. Somehow, he broke free and swam up to get some air. Reaching the surface, he saw debris everywhere being tossed around on the monstrous waves. He tried to grab a hold of a barrel and got just enough of a grip for it to keep him from going completely under. Wrapping his arms and legs around it, he tried to not get pulled under the rough sea again. He took on a lot of water, swallowing more and more as the storm raged. He tried spitting it out, but only got more salt water poured in. He choked and coughed on the sea. A man bobbed up and down amid the waves, tossed with the pieces of the ship and various items from its cargo. There was no ship now, just a part of the last mast sticking up from the water. Waves moved it up and down until eventually the sea claimed it for its own.

Then everything went still. The storm raged on all sides, but the rain and winds stopped beating down on him. He must be in the eye, at least he thought that’s what it was like from what news stories he saw and read told him. He looked around to see utter devastation. Wood, barrels, parts of the sails, and clothes all dotted the sea. It was like a scene from a tornado touchdown, but only moving as the waves swelled.

It wasn’t long before the rest of the storm passed, though it felt weaker to Mike. The waves weren’t as high or ferocious. Only once did they knock him off the barrel. He clung to that barrel for what felt like hours after the eye passed him. Finally, the rain stopped and the winds died. The sea started to relax it’s vicious movement, settling down quickly.

In the clear after the storm, sunlight streamed in, bathing everything in a weird cheerfulness. The scene around Mike told of nothing but destruction. He looked frantically for more survivors and heard some moaning off in the distance. With what little strength lay in him, he swam in the direction of the sound, pushing the barrel along. He hit various chunks of wood as he moved along, as well as some body parts that floated up to the surface. Arms, legs, and for a moment he thought he saw a head bob up, though it was at such an odd angle, he thought it must have been severed from it’s body, so he moved a bit farther from it.

Eventually, as exhaustion settled in, he came upon a sailor holding on to planks that looked to have come from the deck. As he got closer, he noticed the man was the captain of the ship. Ferdinand Cortez the voice inside said. Mike paused at that recognition. Cortez? he thought. Wasn’t that some famous explorer or something? Didn’t he go to Mexico or somewhere like that? The captain let out a loud moan that broke Mike’s thoughts. He swam closer to see that his arm was badly injured.

“Captain, are you alright?” Mike said in fluent Spanish. It still struck him as odd when it left his lips.

“No, my arm is hurt bad. I think it’s broken. I can’t hold on for much longer.”

Mike saw some cloth floating nearby and reached out for it. He grabbed the two planks Cortez was floating on, and with the barrel between them, fastened a crude safety boat. But, it worked. He helped the captain up on the barrel in a way that allowed him to drape his arms around both sides to rest from all the swimming. Mike held on to one of the planks to keep himself afloat. Finally, he was able to get some rest. He was beyond tired. His body felt like giving in, but he wouldn’t let it. He made it this far, he was damned if he’d fail now. All he needed was to find land. As if it were that easy.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment below, I’m curious to know your thoughts. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 9

Welcome back to the next installment of Master of the Drunken Fist. Here’s chapter 9. If you want to catch up, check out the Table of Contents and start from the beginning or find the last chapter you’ve read.

Please note this story contains an excessive amount of cussing and alcohol use.

Chapter 9

Mike stayed sober, well, somewhat sober, for the better part of four months after his last incident with the void and the encounter with the Sponsers. He had a beer a couple times within that period, but he didn’t get drunk like he did that night. He felt good about his control over alcohol, in fact, he just felt as though it wasn’t even a problem. It was as though the Sponsers had scared him straight, for the most part. With that confidence in himself and his ability to only have a couple and not go all crazy, he was sure nothing was going to break it.

Noelle’s birthday challenged this confidence. He threw a party for her, partly to make up for how bad he had treated her, and partly because he was going to propose to her, finally. He figured it would be the perfect time to take their relationship to the next level.

They had the usual friends, and cake, and her favorite drink, margaritas. He enjoyed them immensely. They reminded him of the vacation they took to Mexico. It was such a great time. They were so laid back and free then. Now, it seemed like work consumed them. So, the occasional margarita always brought back those fond memories for him. Noelle felt the same, but she also just enjoyed the taste. She had always had a fondness for them ever since she began drinking in high school.

Mike was on his second or third drink of the evening when he decided it was time to make his move and propose. He gathered everyone on the patio in the back and stood on the steps facing them. He had a drink in one hand, which one is this? he thought, my third or fourth? He began to talk about his love for Noelle and how much she had been there for him. She was blushing and tried to hush him, hating the spotlight on her like that. Mike reached out his hand and pulled her up to the step he was standing on. Getting down on one knee, he began. “Noe, you know I love you and you know…” and then it went horribly wrong.


Stark white blinded him. For a moment, he thought maybe he was looking at headlights. He couldn’t hear the music from the party any longer. He felt a coldness surround him. The void enveloped him again.

Oh no, not again, he thought. Tears began forming in his eyes. He was positive he kicked this, gotten rid of these visions long ago. How could this be happening, and now of all times! He was moments from proposing to Noe and starting a new chapter in their lives! The empty, blinding white of the void had other ideas it seemed.

He started walking forward, familiar with the drill of the void. He wondered what became of the brothers. How long was I gone from here? he questioned. It was a strange feeling to be back here, yet it all felt familiar, like he belonged here. It was in the void that he was able to actually do something to help someone, as he recalled killing one of those evil Sponsers. He couldn’t stop them all, but he made them pay for what they did to the brothers.

It seemed like he walked forever in the void. Eventually a pinpoint of light appeared ahead. He had hope, and fear for what lay beyond. It was exhilarating. Getting closer, he found mostly blue showing through the hole which grew larger and larger. And it bobbed up and down, as though it were moving. That seemed odd. He’d never seen it do that before in his previous trips here. He also smelled…the ocean? Where was he going? He remembered forests and hills from before. This was different.

Finally, he approached the opening and the sight astounded him. He was looking out over the sea, as though he were on a ship, rolling up and down large, gentle waves. He had never been the biggest fan of boating, but the void led him here, and maybe to the brothers as well. He stepped through the hole, ready to find the answers.

He stepped out onto the deck of a large ship with huge sails. It flew a flag he didn’t recognize, though his first thought was relief that it wasn’t one of those black pirate flags. There were numerous men on board, all busy with some sort of work.

“Hey, get to work you damn scrub!” the man next to him yelled. But, it was odd. He spoke in Spanish, yet Mike understood him clearly. He never took Spanish in school, opting instead for French. Yet here he was, being spoken to in Spanish and making complete sense of it. He didn’t have a clue what to do, he’d never been sailing before.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I don’t know what to do.” As he said the words, he heard them in his normal, plain English, but they came out in fluent Spanish as though he spoke it his entire life. His eyes grew large at the thought. He had something similar happen with the brothers. What the hell happened to me? How can I be doing this?

Just then, the large man slapped him on the back. “You best get to your duties or you are gonna find yourself in the brig. Got it?” And it was all spoken to him in the clearest Spanish, of which he understood it all. Where am I? he thought as he tried to figure out what it was that the man wanted him to do. Looking at his hands, he realized he was holding a bucket and a what appeared to be a mop. The bucket was made of wood and the mop was barely recognizable as a mop, but it seemed to be the right thing as he looked up at the man who nodded back, giving a look towards the deck. Well, if there was something Mike knew, it was how to clean. He hadn’t become head custodian by sitting on his ass at work. So, he did what felt natural. He started mopping the deck. Don’t they call this swabbing the deck, or something like that? he said to himself and grinned. It was all a bit funny and a touch bizarre to him at the moment.

He heard men talking near him about “India” and riches and “the king,” whoever that was. He heard them talk about “savages” and the need to be careful when they landed. It sounded like they were almost at the end of their journey on this destination.

The rolling of the ship made it hard for him to concentrate on the mop and the conversation. Things rolled around and his bucket moved all over the place. Salty spray of water occasionally splashed over the edge of the ship. Looking out at sea, all he could see was water. Waves rolled as far as he could see in all directions. There were some gulls circling above. They seemed to be part of the ship.

Darkness descended on the ship and the call was made for dinner time. Mike followed the rest of the men downstairs into a large room with several tables. He was given some kind of food that looked like oatmeal, though it didn’t smell or taste like it. It almost made him vomit. He tried to shovel some down, though it was hard to swallow. He was given a biscuit and it was hard as a rock with small bugs crawling on it. He noticed the other men all eating theirs and when one of them noticed his grimace, he smiled at Mike. “Miguel, since when do you not like the weevils? You always take to your biscuit!” Mike frowned a bit. What have I gotten into this time? “Sorry Luis, I guess they are getting to me.” Luis? how did I… and then remembered those strange memories coming to him when he was with the brothers, how their names and things would just be there, be a part of who he was as though he always was in this life, whatever it may be.

After dinner, they were all told to get back to their bunks. They were approaching land soon and they’d need their rest. Mike walked with the others to find the way. Once there, he found the bunk that was his. He had an impression that it was the right one, just like he did with the names. He laid down, swaying with the ship on the waves, and tried to reason it all out.

The best he could come up with was that he was on some old Spanish sailing ship on the way to…America? It seemed like something from history class. He felt like he was on one of those ships that came to the America’s on an exploration. Wait, he thought, didn’t they call the Spanish conquistadors because they came over to the “New World” to conquer it? Is that what this is? I’m on one of those voyages to conquer some Native Americans? He didn’t know what to make of that. It all seemed to make sense as he fit the pieces together. And his job in this adventure was to clean the damn decks! He tried falling asleep in his bunk. He was tired. He was lost. Noe was going to leave him for sure if he ever got back from here.

Laying in his bunk, Mike wondered if he’d wake up on the ship or someplace else back in the real world. Things were beginning to blend together for him in his mind, and what was “real” and what wasn’t became harder to distinguish. He felt “real” here on the ship. His body swayed with the rolling waves. He could see things moving with the ship. He could smell the salty air and the body odor of the crew. He tasted the disgusting food he had for dinner. He heard the men talking and yelling at him. His arms were sore from his chores on the deck. Yet, he knew it must not be real. He lived in the twenty-first century, in a small town, as the head custodian of the Eagle Cap factory. He drove a small Nissan Altima. He had a girlfriend, no a fiance now he reminded himself. That was reality. But somehow, it didn’t all seem to fit. He remembered the brothers, they were real. Well, he thought they were. He remembered the anguish on their faces as the Sponsers swooped in and mauled them. He remembered the blackness of those vile creatures. That was real. He had the hatchett, in the twenty-first century version of himself, to tell him it was real. But how? How did all these various personas, these seemingly separate lives, come together in him? It made no sense, but at the same time, it made perfect sense.

He couldn’t explain it, but somehow, it all made perfect sense. It was as though all these versions of him existed, together, yet apart, and it felt right to him. He started to drift off, not caring anymore what one person might consider real and another call a fantasy. He determined that no matter what, no matter what time in history, no matter the situation, he was going to be the best damn Mike, or Mikey, or Miguel that he could be. They would all remember his name.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think! Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.