Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Support

NaNoWriMo is upon us! Who of you are writing a novel this month as part of the annual event? Don’t be shy. Share your intent in the comments so the rest of us can support your efforts.

I’m a long time fan of NaNo and five-time winner. I’m not participating this year as I was in mid-writing on my current project and the timing wasn’t right for me. For the rest that are, I hope you’ve been hitting your word counts so far. What’s working for you? What’s keeping you from achieving your goals?

nanoprepIf you’re part of NaNo this year, I’d love to be your cheerleader. Writing can often be a lonely exercise but it doesn’t have to be. You’ve got a ton of others ready to see you hit that 50k mark and I’m one of them.

NaNo taught me to focus. It taught me to crush through my first drafts and go back to fix it later. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just written. Get those words out, only you can tell your story.

It wasn’t until I won my first NaNo that I realized I could do this writing thing. Before then I wrote short stories, mostly flash fiction, and winning gave me the confidence to push on and keep at it. Now with five novels released since I won, I can honestly say without NaNo, I wouldn’t be a published author. It’s meant so much to me and I want others to experience this joy.

Write on my friends. Keep at it. I invite you to share your tales and your experience with the rest of us. Having a strong support system helps tremendously and I want you to succeed!

Happy writing everyone!










NaNoWriMo 2017 and More

NaNoWriMo has been over for about a week now. How’d you do? Did you cross the 50K threshold? If not, did you at least make progress on a new project or work on an existing one?

I nailed my target on the last Sunday of November. This makes my fifth NaNo win since I started many years ago!

soul windowsThe book I wrote, titled Soul Windows, is probably my darkest one yet. I wanted to write something closer to a pure horror novel than anything I’ve done before. I think I did it, but time will tell. I haven’t gone back to revising it yet. Immediately after I finished it I went back to an older manuscript set in the same small town of Soul Windows. I have a third book also set in the town and my plan is to release all three of them in rapid succession for a horror “series” in the sense that they’re all in the same world. There might be a few minor tie-ins between them, but other than the setting they are stand-alone books. Once I’m done with the older manuscript, I’ll get back to Soul Windows.

While writing during NaNo, I was also busy revising and working with my editor for the new sequel to my scifi novel The Selection. I’ve rebranded it as The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1. My plan is a trilogy with the possibility of a series of 4-5 novellas set in the same world but not part of the main storyline. Think of it like the Star Wars movies where there are the main movies with other movies set in the same galaxy. The new book, Rise of the Forgotten: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 2 is due out January 19th. It’s actually up for pre-order now though the cover is a placeholder until I get the actual one. Feel free to grab it for .99 today! (Oh, btw…if you’ve read The Selection and would like to be part of my ARC team to help me launch with at least 10 honest reviews, let me know. I’m assembling my team now!)

GodsEyeCover2And as if that wasn’t enough, you may have missed my release of The God’s Eye: A Collection of Horror Short Stories. This might be the last short story collection I release. I have so many longer projects in the works that I haven’t written short stories in a long time. I only have a couple reviews on it, but wow–I struck a chord with my readers! I’m humbled by the kind words. You can get it here: The God’s Eye.

I’ve also got a short story in the new collection from Hellbound Books called Shopping list 2. It’s one of my darker pieces and something that made me squirm as I wrote it! Check it out here: Shopping List 2.

OnTheHorizonNoWoodFinally, my book The Selection is part of a 22 author, 22 novel international collection called On the Horizon. We’re offering it now for a preorder price of only .99! That’s 22 novels for less than .05 each! The theme of the collection is scifi and fantasy with little to no technology. My book was a perfect fit and I might be adding something to it that’s exclusive to the collection. Please consider preordering it on the Nook or Amazon. You’re support would be most appreciated by me and the entire collective of international authors.

So, yeah. That’s what I’ve got going on. What about you? Share with us your new releases, projects, or other awesome news in the comments below!

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 26

Well, this is it. The final chapter of my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel Master of the Drunken Fist. I do hope you’ve enjoyed the story so far, warts and all. It’s in dire need of a rewrite and clean-up, but since I was going to by busy working on a new novel this month, I thought it would be fun to share this one.

By completing this novel, I gained the discipline and desire to continue writing and become a published author. After completing this novel, that’s when I decided I was going to pursue this as long as possible. I hold this story as something special because of all it represents to me. Long live NaNoWriMo!

If you missed any of the previous chapters, check out the Table of Contents.

Chapter 26

Mike’s bleary eyes took some time to adjust in the near darkness he found himself. He was face down, laying on the floor. Looking around, he thought he made out the familiar shape of his bed through the door frame. He was cold. He must have been laying there for hours, his back was aching badly, but he didn’t have a clue as to how long he was out.

Slowly, he propped himself up on his knees. Dizziness overcame him, a familiar sensation, though never welcomed. Resting back on his heels, he tried to stop the room from spinning. He failed miserably. Stretching out his right hand for support, he leaned a bit to the side as the room kept up it’s playful dance, mocking him. He tried hard not to let it consume him, but in the end, the room won and he vomited all over the floor. He wretched and wretched until he felt as though the next thing to come up would be his stomach followed closely by his intestines. Never in his entire time of visiting the void had he felt this bad.

“Oh my God, this sucks,” he said to the darkness, spittle flying from his lips. Luckily, there was a full moon out on this late autumn evening, otherwise he wouldn’t have seen a thing. He tried to move, but the dizziness overwhelmed him again. Quickly, he stopped. He was in no mood to vomit again.

“What…the…fuck…” he said. “Where are the lights and…am I at home?” Confusion gripped Mike. Always, when he came out of the void, he knew within moments where he was at and what time it was. Now, well, now it felt off to him. It was as though a twisted joke was being played.

He reached down to push himself up to his feet, his hand landing right into the pile of vomit he left on the carpet. “Damn it! That’s fucking gross,” he swore to himself. He wiped his hand off on his pants and stood up, still reeling from the spinning room. He stumbled a bit before catching himself on the couch. Looking around in the dark, he recognized the room as his living room, so he was in the right place after all.

He noticed an eery silence in the house. Nothing was humming, or buzzing, or running. Utter silence. Looking to the satellite box, he tried to read the time, but it was dark.

“We have a power outage?” he asked no one. “Where’s my fucking power?” He then realized why he was so cold on the floor. Without the power, his furnace couldn’t work. “Damn, how long has it been out?” He thought if maybe he forgot to pay the bill, but his memory couldn’t recall when he last paid the bill. Actually, he couldn’t remember the last time he ever paid a bill. Noelle always took care of that.

Noelle. Just her name brought shame and love and anger to mind. He knew she deserved better. She tried to help Mike, tried to get him better, but he had none of it. He didn’t see the road he was on, and so, he ran her off. The best thing that happened to him, and he chased her off with his insistence on drinking and visiting the void because they “needed him” there. He smiled at that thought, because they did. They needed him badly. But poor Noe paid the price for his decision. She loved him tremendously, but she was unable to bring him back from his visits. She couldn’t stay any longer.

“Yeah, but that was what, just last week? There’s no way they turned off my power that fast.” Mike started to argue with himself. He was losing his grip on the reality around him.

Mike stumbled into the kitchen, looking for some paper towels and a bucket to clean up his mess, all the while trying every lamp and light switch along the way. None of them worked.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his phone, thinking he could use that for some light. He clicked the home button. It was dead. “Damn it!” he yelled out loud and threw his phone against the wall, shattering the glass screen into hundreds of tiny shards. “How long was I out? Or have I forgotten this bill too?”

Looking down at his watch, he noticed it said Dec. 3 for the date. When Noelle left him, it was early September.

“What the fuck? Where have I been? That can’t be right. It’s impossible. There was no way I was out that fucking long. I’d have died if I was. And wouldn’t someone come check on me, like my boss?” It was then that he remembered losing his job. He thought that happened just days after losing Noe. No one was going to check on him. He didn’t have any friends, he ran them all off long ago so he could spend more time in the void. He wasn’t particularly close to his family, so they wouldn’t be checking on him. He was alone. In the dark.

Mike figured he must have somehow been in the void ever since just after Noe left and he was fired. But that put him at about two and a half months of real world time gone to be there. He knew he was there for some time, but didn’t think it was that long at all. If so, that meant he must have missed the bills. And his power and phone, if not more things, were shut off. He didn’t have a job anymore either, so getting back on his feet again didn’t even register to him at that moment. He was in the dark. Without his girl. Without his job. Without anything.

The words of Abe, and then of Cortez, came back to him. “Take care of things,” they told him. At the time, Mike was just surprised they seemed to know about anything other than what was happening at the moment. In hindsight, he saw now that they were trying to warn him, to tell him to get his shit together. In his blind desire to be with them, he neglected everything on this side. He was standing in a dark, lonely, cold house to remind him of his decisions.

It was too much. He fell down to the floor, curled up in a fetal position, and just laid there. He was lost.

His mind wandered to the void. He started seeing images of Abe, of Cortez, of Victor, all swirl in his head much like the room had not too long ago. They floated about, like ghosts. He could see Abe running from the Sponser. He tried to yell at Abe, but then saw himself, or what must have been himself, because it didn’t look anything like him, hack away at the Sponser with a hatchet. The same voice that told him who people were in the void was the same one that told him that’s you when he saw the man attack and fatally wound the Sponser.

Then the images swirled, showing Cortez and another man fighting Aztecs on a hill. That’s you he heard the voice again. This man didn’t look anything like the real Mike either, but he knew it was him. He saw the fight and saw how cat-like he was in his actions. Impressed with himself, he started cheering himself on. “That’s it, go on Miguel! Kick his ass!” he yelled. While watching the fight, he noticed the Aztecs started turning black, with long flowing robes and eyes of flames. He didn’t remember that happening at all. It was as though this memory was made up, not real like the others. One of the Sponsers came flying directly at him and Mike flinched, scared of what it might do to him. In the void, he was the hero. Out here, he lacked the courage to stand up to the vile creatures.

Suddenly, the scene shifted again and he saw snow on the ground. It was bright outside. He heard voices, Russian ones, and knew where he was at. There were screams as four Russian men and one woman appeared before him, fending off an attack from about twenty or so Russian men. “Hey, they were Sponsers, not men. I was there!” he said aloud to his knees, still tucked in the fetal position. He noticed how three of the men were cowering and the woman, Anya, was holding her ground. The fourth man, that’s you again the voice in his head told him, was decimating the men one and two at a time. His fury was such that it frightened the rest of the attackers and the defenders as well. He saw how they backed away from him while in his full fledged attack mode. Still, he admired the work he did. He was brutal and efficient in his killing blows. Where the ability came from, he didn’t care. It was just a thing of beauty to watch him hack and slice his way through the enemy. He couldn’t remember why he was fighting them, but that didn’t matter. He was doing really, really well and he enjoyed the show.

Once again, everything shifted. Now in front of him stood Abe, Cortez, and Victor. Mike was taken aback at the sight of all three of them standing there together. He didn’t think there was any link between the three, not that he could tell anyway.

“Mikey, we dun told ya to take care o things back here, didn’t we? Now look what ya dun did,” Abe scolded him.

“Yeah, but you needed me Abe. You told me yourself.”

“Mikey, ain’t you got no bit of sense?”

“No he doesn’t Abe,” Cortez interrupted. This was getting to be a bit much for Mike as now they were all talking to each other. “He has so little sense, and now look at him. He’s pathetic.”

“What? No. No I’m not. I saved all of you!” Mike realized that he was speaking in his normal, everyday English and not the native tongue of either of these two.

“Mikhael, you didn’t save a thing. What did you think was going on?” This time, it was Victor speaking, and he too was speaking not in his native Russian, but in English, though with a heavy Russian accent.

“I thought you needed me, all of you. Each one of you said it yourself. Without me, you wouldn’t be able to succeed. I was there for you!”

There was silence in the dark house except Mike yelling. He stayed on the floor, though by now he had uncurled himself and started moving about while arguing with the air.

“No Mikey, we all dun told ya ta take care of things here. And what did ya do? Tell me Mikey, where are the lights? Where is your phone, ya got service in that damn thing? You ignored us Mikey.”

“He’s correct Mikhael, we all tried to warn you. What you did with that message, it was all up to you. We couldn’t do it for you. That’s what we meant. We said it was something only you could do. And it is. It was,” he corrected.

“No, you’re wrong. That’s not what you meant and you know it!” Mike was starting to lose control of his head. He didn’t know what was right, or wrong, or real, or not. Confidence in his own sanity wavering, he had enough of this. Standing up, he meant to confront all of them on equal ground, but they were gone.

“Oh my God, I’m losing it. I really am losing it.” He no longer saw images swirling in his head, they all disappeared into nothingness.

Mike was lost in doubt as to whether what he just saw was real or his imagination working against him. The more he tried to work it out, the more it slipped through his fingers like grains of sand. He finally gave up. Working through mental problems was not one of his strong suits, it tended to only cause him more grief than anything else.

“I don’t have a problem damn it! Why can’t anyone see it? There is nothing wrong with me!” Exhaustion took over and he sunk down on the nearest chair. And fell fast asleep.

Sunshine warmed Mike’s face. The bright light woke him from his slumber. He’d been sleeping hard, no dreams, no void, nothing. His body thanked him for it, as though it hadn’t had a restful nights sleep in what seemed like forever. He found himself slumped over the kitchen table, sitting in one of the mismatched chairs he used for company. How he slept so soundly like that, he didn’t know. But it didn’t matter, he felt refreshed and ready to take on the day.

It didn’t matter to Mike anymore if he had Noe, or his job, or even if he had power. None of that bothered him this morning. What did attract his attention was the fact that he knew the void was his playground, to go in and do as he liked. As long as he drank, he got there. And he was fine with both.

He giggled while he sat there. A maniacal, evil giggle that would have scared anyone had anyone been there. “I can’t believe it took me so damn long to figure out the connection with alcohol. I’m an idiot at times,” he scolded himself before giggling a bit more. His hold on his sanity seemed to slip, and he didn’t care. He had a place he could go and escape from all this shit. This world held nothing but ridicule and monotony for him. He found true life in the void. Adventure was found there, and he was the hero.

He thought about the void a bit longer and the more he did, the more it made sense to him. More sense than this world did.

Suddenly, he had a revelation. “Hey,” he said, “What happens if I mix the drinks? What if I make a cocktail with more than one kind of alcohol?” Excited by the prospect, he ran to the liquor cabinet and found several half-empty bottles of liquor. There was vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila, some various flavors of schnapps, just a random assortment. “Oh, the ‘shine!” he said and ran into the other room, where he kept the secret stash of moonshine. He ran right through the vomit on the floor, but in his ecstasy, he didn’t even notice the path he made through it on the carpet.

In the silence of his powerless house, Mike mixed the various alcohols together. There wasn’t a recipe he tried to follow, just as much or little of each as he felt necessary. He looked around. His house was filthy. Vomit on the floor, and by the looks of things, it wasn’t the first time there was some on the floor. Bottles lay everywhere. But he was happy. He had the secret of the void. He thought once more of Noe, but dismissed it. “She doesn’t care anyway man, she’d never understand your need,” he said out loud. He was right. He had this wonderful blend of alcohols, his very own “super-cocktail,” and it looked beautiful.

With no one around, in the cold, lifeless house he used to share with Noe, he took a seat at the table and raised the glass to his lips. He couldn’t stop smiling thinking of the wondrous adventure that awaited.

Thank you soooo much for reading my novel Master of the Drunken Fist. I know I wasn’t entirely happy with the ending, but for now it is what it is. If you’ve read along all month, please drop a comment below to let me know your thoughts. What worked? What didn’t work? What would be your ideal ending? Let me know! I want to hear from you.

Thanks again!



Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 25

Welcome back once again to the next chapter of my 2012 NaNoWrimo novel Master of the Drunken Fist. The end is almost here! If you’ve missed any chapter, please check the Table of Contents to catch up.

Chapter 25

Mike took off on a dead run. He knew what was going on by now, he was a pro at the void. He ran as fast and as straight as he could go. Before long, he found what he was looking for. There was an orange glow off in the distance. Spotting the color, he went straight for it and went right on through without a care in the world. He knew where he would be.

Stepping through, he was definitely in Russia by the sound of the conversation around him. He was in the common room of the inn, with it’s fire blazing warmly at the end of the room. Victor and the others were sitting at a table near the fire with another man Mike didn’t recognize. “Hope I didn’t miss anything boys,” Mike said as he sat down with them.

“No, no not at all Mikhael. Please, join us. You need to hear this. As you were saying Pieter,” Victor nodded to the man sitting with them.

“Well, yes, um…oh yes, as I was saying. The “mayor” as he calls himself seems innocent enough, but our men tell of him exacting fierce vengeance on anyone he considers an enemy. If you get in his way, he will cut you down. Either himself, or with one of his many followers. He is very, very dangerous. He rules this town with that fear. Not many are willing to openly stand up to him, however if we can get things started, let the townspeople know he will not win, then they will jump to our cause. We just have to take the first step.” He finished speaking and swallowed the last of the brandy in the glass in front of him.

“With fear you say, huh? Pieter, those are the men most easiest to bring down. It will take some, how would you say, physical persuasion, but it can be done easily enough. That’s what I brought my boys for, especially this one,” as he points to Mike. “He can handle himself well enough. And the rest of my men, they too are capable of leading this insurrection. Though I hesitate to call it that since this “mayor” has actually gone against the wishes and mandates of his majesty. But for lack of a better word, we can call it as such.”

“Liberation Victor, we can call it that,” Mike said. It was as though he were completely sold out to this world in Russia. He secretly hoped he never left here to go back to the real world. There was so much more promise for him here.

“Yes Mikhael, liberation is much more appropriate. The people can rally behind that, right Pieter?”

“Well, yes, of course Victor. They don’t really care what we call it, just so long as we rid them of the bastard mayor.”

The two men laughed together as they raised their newly filled glasses high. “To liberation men!” Victor toasted, and the two of them clinked their glasses and drank their brandy down. As cold as it was outside, that drink looked invitingly warm to Mike, but he thought better of it. What would happen if I got drunk here in the void? What would that do to me? he thought. Then he figured that was a question to better try later on, maybe when he was done with the work here in Russia.

The conversation went on for several more hours, though mostly about family and friends and how the latest harvest went. It seemed this city, Vostok, was doing quite well with trade and such. Their main source of trading partners were the folks living out to the west of the city and the Chinese merchants from the south. They were doing quite a bit of business with them, and those trade routes were the major force behind the king wanting the city back in his control again. Otherwise, all those taxes would continue to go into the hands of this “mayor” who used the funds to keep his control tight on the city. He bribed merchants and built a small mercenary force to act as guards to the port and the main gates. Mike had to admit, he sounded like a man that was in control and knew what he was doing. How they were going to bring him down, he wasn’t quite sure.

Pieter assured Victor that his men were ready, so not being one to waste the moment, Victor decided they would act the next day to get things moving in the direction he needed them to go. The conversation turned more mundane as he drinks kept flowing. As the evening wound down, all the men returned to their rooms to rest up for what was going to happen the next day.

Waking early, Mike walked to the common room to find Victor already there, sitting by himself near the fire.

“Mikheal, you are up early.”

“Like always Victor. Are we ready for today?

“Yes, of course. Once we get a good belly full of breakfast, we move out into the city and begin our work. I’m glad you came down here, I needed to talk to you.”

“Sure, what’s on your mind.” Mike had a brief panic attack, as though he was a caught spy and was now about to face the punishment.

“Mikhael, the others don’t seem to notice this, but I do. You seem…different than the rest of us. When we started back in Moscow, I don’t ever recall you being able to understand Chinese, but when we met those sailors a while back, you knew their every word. And then, every once in a while, you seem to disappear. I’m not sure where you go or what you are doing, but I know there is something else there. I know there is another life you lead Mikheal. I can sense it. I also know that there is something wrong there. I’m not exactly sure what that is either, just that it has brought you to your knees. I suspect a woman to be involved, it almost always leads back to that. Whatever it is Mikhael, you take care of it. I’d say right now, but we need you here. You can do things which we cannot. Your physical strength, your knowledge of language, is something none of us have. We need you to be successful in our venture.”

“Victor,” Mike began slowly, “I do have something to confess. I, I am not from here.” He was ready to spill it all, and why not. He figured there was nothing to lose by doing so. “I am from a different place Victor. My name is Mike, not Mikhael. This is some sort of alternate world for me, one in which I am needed and wanted. I’m actually from America, and I think from a different time period. I go into these trances and get teleported to strange lands and adventures. This one, here in Russia, is just one of three different places I’ve visited since I started this teleporting.”

Victor just looked at him, his glass of juice raised halfway to his lips. “Mikhael, that’s not what I meant about you being gone. This…teleportation you speak of is amusing, but I don’t buy a word of it. I meant you had a problem back home in Moscow!” That wasn’t the reaction Mike expected. He felt foolish for saying it. It sounded so delusional once the words left his lips. How could he have expected Victor to handle it? He wasn’t entirely sure, just not in this way. In any case, he stopped talking about it. It was clear Victor didn’t believe him and he didn’t want to lose the trust Victor and the others had in him, so he let the topic die. He so wished he had a drink at that moment to calm his nerves.

In time, the other men filed out of their rooms, sleepy and staggering from the previous night’s drinking. They sat down with him and Victor and they all ate heartily. It was hard to tell, but Mike thought they might have felt this could be their last meal. They were silent and savored every bite of the food. It was an odd turn for Mike, as normally they joked, and laughed, and wolfed down their food. The gravity of the days events must have weighed heavily upon them.

Finishing their meal, Victor got up and they all followed him out of the common room. They went back to their rooms to gather the necessary items for the day, namely their weapons and monkish robes. After getting their supplies, they met Pieter out in front of the inn. It was still early, the sun barely over the horizon and the cool of the morning washed over them.

“You men ready for this?” Pieter asked the four of them. Victor nodded and they followed Pieter down the street. He took them several blocks to the east and north until they came to what Mike thought was an old warehouse. It was large and when they walked in, primarily empty except for racks on the western wall full of blades of all kinds. There were sickles, spears, long knives, and even a few bows with quivers of arrows. It looked like a farmers collection of implements, but that was going to have to work for their liberation as there was nothing else available to them. “These are what we have Victor, it’s not much but it should work. As much as the mayor is ruthless, he’s never faced serious opposition before and I think we will surprise him.” Victor scanned the items carefully. Some had rust, others looked dull, but Pieter was right, they would do.

“Great Pieter! I think this will work well.” Pieter smiled, feeling confident he had done well.

“My plan was to ambush him at his home while he’s sleeping and kill him. We could then parade his head on a pike all through town so the people would know not to be afraid anymore,” Pieter said.

“I like the way you think Pieter, but how easy is it to get to him? Surely he’d have guards keeping watch. Men like him have to always watch for exactly what we intend. It won’t be that easy.”

“Of course not Victor. However, I do have a loyal comrade working as one of his trusted night watchmen, and he can grant us access to the mayor. It took some coin, but he is on our side all the way.”

“Hmm, a bribe you say? That often doesn’t lead one to be loyal.”

“Trust me Victor, he’s loyal. I have been planning this for some time now. This is the time to strike! We must overthrow him.” Mike noticed a hint of annoyance on Victor’s face while Pieter spoke. It was slight, but noticeable.

Just then, Anya came running into the warehouse. “Victor! It’s a trap! Pieter…” and then Pieter slapped her hard, knocking her to the ground. “Shut up you. I should have killed you long ago,” and he raised his hand to strike her again when Mike caught his hand, twisting it and bringing Pieter down with the pain.

“Leave her alone Pieter!” Victor growled as he raced to her side. Pieter broke free from Mike’s grip and started making his way to the door where Anya appeared from.

“She’s right Victor,” he sneered, “This is a trap. The mayor pays quite well, and you, well you are just an idealist. A dog at the foot of the king. You obey, but for what? Because he says so? Good bye Victor. You should never have come here.” And he slipped out through the door. There were shouts coming from all sides of the building, confusing them and not giving up what direction the ambush was coming from.

Anya was able to get up with a little help from Victor. “Are you alright dear?” he asked her. She shook her head yes in reply. She was visibly shaken up, but seemed to be ok. “Yes Victor, I’m fine. We need to get out of here. There are twenty or more men outside. The mayor is with them. They are going to kill us.”

Victor thought for a moment and seemed settled on a plan. “We must get some of those weapons. We are going to have to prepare for a battle with these men. I know they are mercenaries, but I also know we are more to handle than a normal man. I think if we coax them in here, we stand a better chance. We bring them to us, not us leaving to be picked off one by one.”

The others nodded in agreement and grabbed whatever tool/weapon they felt the most comfortable with. Mike was surprised to see Anya grab a bow with a couple quivers of arrows. She noticed the look on his face too. “It’s ok Mikhael, I’m quite used to these. My father had me learn to hunt when I was young. We all had to help.” He seemed pleased by her answer and left her to the bow. The rest of them gathered together, waiting for the enemy to come storming in.

Their wait was short lived. Several of the mayors men came through the same door as Anya, while a couple others came in from a rear door. All of a sudden, the enemy turned shape. They transformed right on front of them from men to the black, hooded, wicked shrieking Sponsers with flaming red eyes. Mike just stood there, dumbfounded by the transformation he witnessed. The others however seemed to not see a thing. “Come on Mikhael, fight on brother!” Victor called out to him. “These men are ready to die at our hands today!”

Mike could hardly move. Shock gripped him. For the first time in the void, he froze and couldn’t move from his spot. He wondered why the rest of them didn’t notice the change. “Victor, he stumbled out, “D-d-d-did you see what happened? The men…they…changed.”

“What? Come on man, get it together. Fight or die!!”

Mike swore all the men coming at him were no longer men, but the menacing Sponsers. They must have come here to seek revenge for what he did to their others when with the brothers. He broke from his stupor. Rage filled him. He hated the Sponsers. It was time for them to die.

In a flash, Mike whirled the sickle he picked from the collection of tools and wielded it like it was an extension of his body, as though he always had this tool of death at his side. He moved quickly and swiftly, darting in and out of the coming blows from the Sponsers. They tried to catch him with their spears and blades, but with his speed and deftness, they struck at air. He spun around, catching one of the Sponsers on the back of it’s legs, knocking it down. As it fell, he sliced with the blade, severing it’s head from it’s body in a spray of black blood. The sight of the dying Sponser only fueled his lust for more.

He spun and sliced and carved through three more of them before he noticed the others with him had stopped. He was in a blind rage-filled fury up until then, working carefully to dispatch the Sponsers one at a time, making sure they felt his blade.

All was quiet in the building. Victor looked at Mike cautiously. “Mikhael, are you…what you did…are you ok?” He asked hesitantly. The killing display put on by Mike was something to behold, and Victor and the others were astonished by it.

Out of breath, Mike replied, “Yes, I’m fine Victor. Those things must die. All of them.” His body heaved with each laborious breath.

“Mikhael, they stopped. Your flurry of blade scared them off. I think they turned away. Or maybe they went for more men. I don’t know and I don’t care. We need to leave now before they decide to return.”

They crept up to the door, careful to watch for more men attacking them. Once there, they found the outside deserted. There wasn’t a sign of any left outside. “You must have scared them off Mikhael. And to be honest, you frightened me as well. I knew you had the instincts, but I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Mike shrugged it off. “It’s nothing Victor. I knew they were weak and I was strong, that’s all. Now, where do we go from here?”

Anya pointed to a building high up on a hill, north of them. “There,” she said. “The mayor would go back there, his stronghold. If you keep up what you did back there, we will have no problem stopping him.”

Mike liked the sound of that. He was the hero, the one stories would be told about for generations. As he thought of how it might go down on history, he suddenly found himself falling fast down to nothingness. He started spinning wildly, faster and faster. Finally, he hit the bottom. And woke up. He wasn’t sure where he was at.

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to comment, please do so below. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. Come back tomorrow for the final chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 24

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 24

“No, no, no. Dammit.” Mike said laying on the floor. Things were about to get exciting in Russia, and he fell out of the void. There was no way telling when that would happen and he had no control over it, as far as he could tell. He was so close to being part of something greater than himself.

Slowly he got up, the hangover really working on him this time. His head throbbed. He was dizzy. The floor was soaked in piss. How long was I out? Damn! he thought, staring at his own urine on the floor. It was still a little bit sunny outside, so it wasn’t night, but how long he actually was gone he didn’t know. Right now, he needed something for the pain in his head and…on his shoulders? He rubbed them and felt ridges, as though he were clawed by something. He ignored the nausea building up inside him and ran to the nearest mirror.

Looking at himself, he couldn’t believe what he saw. Clearly visible marks were on his shoulders, as though clawed by an animal. A bear? he thought. Confusion washed over him as the thought of the bear he faced in Russia came to him. “But how can this happen? That was in the void, not here in real life! What the fuck is going on?” He honestly had no idea and was scared by it. There were too many instances of something happening in the void making an appearance here in the real world and it made him uncomfortable.

He sank down to the floor, holding his shoulders, rocking back and forth. “What’s real? What isn’t? What the hell is going on? I just wanted to be someone, to be something more than what I am here. How can this be happening? That wasn’t real, was it? Surely it’s not. There has to be a good reason for this. Did I do this to myself? Did the bear hurt me in a more real sense than I knew? Oh my God, I am going crazy!”

Mike sat there, for a couple hours, unable to move, unable to give credence to his thoughts. They were too outlandish to fathom, and he just stayed on the floor babbling incoherently.

Slowly, the effects of the hangover wore off. He began to claim control over his mind again. The fog of dizziness and nausea started to lift, revealing a much more coherent Mike. Finally he moved from his spot on the floor and cleaned himself and the kitchen floor. After getting some food in him, he felt like a brand new man.

With Noelle gone, he didn’t have a good baseline of time anymore. Looking at his watch, it said it was Monday at seven thirty six. “Holy shit! I’ve been out for two days! Damn, I hope I still have my job.” Just as he said that, he noticed there were two messages on his phone, both from work. Reluctantly, Mike listened. The first was his boss, asking where he was. The second was his boss again, much more irate. If Mike didn’t show up within the next half hour, he was fired, no more leniency. “Well shit, I blew that, didn’t I?” Mike said.

Frustrated with himself, he sat down on the couch, running his fingers through his hair, trying to calm himself. “What do I do now? I’ve lost Noe, I’ve lost my job. What the hell do I do now?” He didn’t have an answer for himself. He was so wrapped up in being in the void, he forgot to care about the things of this world that needed his attention. He felt anger. He felt guilt. He hated himself for what he became. He couldn’t believe what he did to himself. Yet, he still couldn’t shake the feeling that he needed to finish something back in the void.

The void. The land beyond the void. All of it weighed on him. He was so caught up in being there. He felt more alive there than at any other time in the real world. How could he leave all of that? He had a gift, a spectacular gift of travel and understanding and heroism. There was no way he could give that up, no matter what happened here in the real world.

He sat there, thinking deeply about the void and what it meant. He hadn’t yet really tried to figure it out, just accepting it for what it was and not questioning it too much. But now, the urge to think, to discover overwhelmed him. It wasn’t like he was going anywhere anyway. He had no girl and no job to turn to anymore.

The first thing that bothered him about the void was how he got there anyway. He knew it was from the alcohol, he had no doubt about that. What he was unsure of for the longest time was how did he get to the various places. He had been to each place a couple of times, and there had to be a method to it. He thought about what he drank.

Before he found himself with the brothers and those vile Sponsers, he had some of Gene’s moonshine. It was the roughest stuff he ever drank in his life and after a few they went down smoothly. But he was positive it was moonshine before the brothers. The second time he met the brothers, it was after drinking the ‘shine again. He got pretty lit up off the stuff and the next thing he knew, Abe was bringing him out of the clearing into the treeline. Regardless, it was moonshine he had before the brothers.

And then there was Cortez. He was drinking margaritas at the party with Noelle before finding himself on the deck of the ship with Cortez and his crew. He distinctly remembered margaritas because those were Noe’s favorite, and there was plenty to go around. The second time he met Cortez, what had he been drinking? He didn’t remember at first. Then it came to him. He mixed some tequila with soda. He had tequila. That was the alcohol that took him to Cortez.

Finally, there was the Russians. Mike recalled clearly that it was vodka both times before going to visit them. He still had the empty bottles from the last visit in the trash can to confirm his theory.

So, he figured, the type of alcohol dictated where he was going. He smiled to himself as he thought of the drinks he had and the places he visited. “How fucking stereotypical! ‘Shine for the hillbillies, tequila for the Spaniard going to Mexico, and vodka for the Ruskies. Oh my God, this is unbelievable!” He laughed a lot more, mostly about himself for not catching on to it sooner. It was so obvious once he reasoned it out. “How did I miss this? It was all right in front of me!” With that part of the puzzle seemingly solved, he figured he could now control where he went just by the type of drink he concocted.

The next part still stumped him. How did he end up in the situations he found himself in once he got to the void? At first, he thought maybe there were multiple exits from the stark whiteness of the void, and if he walked around enough, he’d find those other places. He remembered trying that once, and it still led him to the same place as before. So they places he visited weren’t random, but were selected by some unknown process. Why he went to those places, he wasn’t entirely sure. He did think that in each case, his presence was necessary for a positive outcome to occur. More than once, he was told that he had some power or ability that the people there didn’t have. Once he exercised this ability, he became the hero. That feeling was the strong pull Mike felt to the void and the worlds beyond. It gave him such a rush of adrenaline and confidence that he couldn’t resist going there.

He couldn’t help shake the feeling that somehow, those scenarios he found himself in were meant for a reason. It was like he had to be with the brothers. That was his destiny. That was the name for it, it was his destiny to be in those situations, and no others. He was meant for the brothers and Cortez, and the Russians. He thought about that last group some more.

He just returned from the Russians, and he didn’t feel like he closed out that adventure just yet. When he left, he was on his way to taking care of business, and then he was suddenly gone. With the brothers and Cortez, he felt like there was some closure there, as though he was done with what he was called to do in those situations. But with the Russians, he didn’t have that same sense of closure. There still felt like work to be done.

However, that brought another line of thought to him. He started thinking about how it was that he left the void and why. Those events felt random at best. There was no rhyme or reason to them as far as Mike could tell. At least he knew that drinking a certain kind of alcohol brought him to certain places. But leaving those places never felt like it followed a certain plan. One moment, he was knee deep in the adventure, and the next he found himself spiraling down until he awoke in the real world. Unlike entering, there didn’t appear to be a trigger as to when he left. If he could figure that out, maybe he could use his time there a bit more wisely. If he knew he was going to leave after a certain event or amount of time, then he could better control how things happened in there. And, he could control how it affected the real world, getting him out of any future trouble.

He still was no closer to figuring that part of the equation out when he decided to give his theories a try. He decided there was still work to be done with the Russians. Going to the liquor cabinet, he found an unopened bottle of vodka. “Ohhh, there you are,” he said affectionately. He hadn’t been out of the void for longer than six or seven hours, but he didn’t care. There was nothing holding him back in the real world now. Better to take chances living out adventures in the void instead of dying a slow boring death here in the real world he thought as he knocked back the bottle and started drinking it straight. The comforting burn returned, almost worse than the moonshine, but he didn’t let that stop him. He was on a mission. Burn or not, he would endure it to do what needed to be done. Before long, he found the white nothingness of the void once again. He was home.

Thanks so much for reading! Please 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 23

Welcome back! Here’s the next chapter of my 2012 NaNoWriMo winning novel Master of the Drunken Fist. If you’ve missed any of it, check out the Table of Contents to catch up.

Chapter 23

Mike stayed with the Russians for what felt like forever. He hadn’t spent so much time there consecutively as he had at this point. He was there so long that he started to think it was his real life and the life he lived back in that boring, small midwestern town was the fake. It became a distant memory to him as he was more and more involved in the daily activities of the Russian life.

Victor took them on a long winding trip around the city where they were going. At first, Mike didn’t see the need to stay so far away from a warm, soft bed. It took him a day or so to figure out his plan. Apparently, he felt they were being followed by some of the locals, and not to share recipes. He had received warning ahead of time that they were not ready to bow to the king. They were ready to take out his “special envoy” as Victor was called by them. It surprised Mike to think that the king would only send four men to subdue an entire region, and this city, when a squad of his soldiers couldn’t hold it.

One evening, the night before they were to sneak in to the city and do what needed to be done, Victor received a visitor from the city. She was a fine woman with long curly hair. It had been so long since Mike had seen a woman in this side of the void that it surprised him at first.

“My lovely Anya! It’s so good to see you. How did you know I was here?”

“Come Victor, you are easy to spot. When the townsmen start scurrying about in silence, gathering some of the best hunters, then something tells me you had come back. They want you dead you know? They have a bounty on your head. For all of you, but most of all you Victor.”

He smiled. It was a warm smile. She was beautiful. “My dear, they can’t take me alive. I’m too good for that. Besides, we have might Mikhael with us, not even a bear let alone some farmers with pitchforks can take us in.”

“Victor, that’s sort of the plan. They don’t care if you are alive or not. As long as they present your head, then they get the bounty. A rather large sum too.” And Anya looked at him salaciously, as though she had thought to collect it herself.

“But that is not why I’m here. You know I pledged to assist you for what you did for me so long ago. I’m not a woman to take those things lightly. I came here to help you get inside. There is a growing number of townsfolk ready for your arrival. They are anxious to be under the kings command rather than that of these warlords. They keep the people under harsh rules. They are ruthless in their justice. The things they do are…despicable. You have a force inside ready to back you.”

“Good, good Anya. What you say brings me great joy. I had hoped to have someone on the inside helping us. How many do you think you have loyal to the crown?”

“I’d say a good forty to fifty, maybe more. For a city of this size, that is more than enough of a force to bring about a change. They await your direction. But you must be careful getting inside. That’s why I sought you out. I have a way for you to get inside. Hurry, I have some clothes hidden over there in that thicket,” she pointed off to the right. They followed her to find four brown monks cloaks laying in a heap under some leaves.

“Here,” she said to the men. “Put these on over your clothes. You will look natural enough. If we wait till the sun goes down, there are fewer guards and with me trying to, um, distract them, you should be able to slip by the gate without a problem. Once inside, I can send out a messenger to gather the men. Within a day, we will have you in place.”

“How efficient of you Anya. You do have your ways about you, don’t you?” Victor replied to her. “Just do as I say, and you will get in the city without a problem.”

The men dressed in the woolen, brown monks robes with a large rope cord around the waist to keep it tight. Looking at the other men, Mike could hardly tell they carried packs on their backs and lethal weapons under those robes. They were just large enough to cover everything but not too large to really raise suspicion.

Until that point, the other three men were silent. They followed the directions of Anya just as Victor had. Apparently she was a close ally of some sort. Mike could only guess as to what kind of things Victor did to get her in his debt like this. It was that or maybe she couldn’t live under the harsh conditions she alluded to any longer and saw Victor as her only way to a better life. Or maybe both. In truth, he didn’t care. He saw this as an opportunity for the hero inside of him to be released once again. If he could really liberate this city, he would be a hero to thousands. He enjoyed that thought. He was ready. He felt the courage building up inside of him.

“Victor, do you trust this woman?” Sergei whispered as they began their way towards the city gate. “I mean, she could be leading us to our death. How much do you know about her?”

“Trust me, she is no angel of death. She has no malice within her. I took care of her the last time I was here, and she is indebted to me. Besides that, she believes in the cause of the king. The men leading this city are tyrants. They are worse than the king could ever be, and that says a lot. She does this out of love of her people. No Sergei, she doesn’t lead us to death.”

They carefully walked in the snow making their way to the gate. Finally they approached two guards at the small gate. This was not the main gate to the city, but a smaller one used by the clergy to enter and leave as their faith took them.

“Stop, who are you?” Anya answered for the men. “They are monks from Moscow, making their long way here as a pilgrimage to the shrine at the church.”

“They are huh, how do we know that?”

“Do you honestly think I’d lie about something like that?” Anya sounded a bit put off by their questions, no doubt a ploy to get them to let them pass.

Just then, Victor walked past Anya and with the swift movements of a stealthy cat going after it’s prey, he reached out with both hands and stabbed the two guards right in their throats. The sudden move startled them, and the placement of the knives was spot on as the two men fell instantly silent. They clutched at their throats, but Sergei and Alexsander knocked both to the ground while stabbing them repeatedly until life left their bodies.

“Victor! I said I had this under control! You didn’t have to kill them, they were good boys doing their job!” Anya really looked upset by what he did. As much as she talked about having to change the leadership, she didn’t seem too ready to take it to the extremes that Victor was willing to.

“They were asking too many questions. Besides, two less men we will fight later on. Come, take us where we need to go.” All niceness and pleasantry left Victor’s voice then. He was here on business. They walked a few blocks down the street and came upon a small inn. Mike couldn’t read the sign outside telling the name, one of the only few drawbacks being in the void had. They opened the door and stepped in.

When Mike set foot on the floor inside, he found there as no footing and he began falling fast. “No!” he yelled as he began spinning quickly. His speed built up as the spinning grew more and more furious. He fell farther and farther down, until finally he hit the bottom. Opening his eyes, he laid on the floor of his kitchen, staring at the linoleum floor in a growing pool of drool and piss. He was home.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story. Feel free to leave comments below. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 22

Welcome to the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist. If you’re behind, check out the Table of Contents to catch up.

Chapter 22

Mike rifled through his cupboards, looking for any and all alcohol. He needed to get back to the void, things were getting too serious, too confrontational here in the real world and he felt powerless to do anything about it. If he could get back to the void, he could at least be someone again. After some searching, he finally found a little over half a bottle of vodka. He didn’t even bother with mixing it, just opened the bottle and drank away. It burned, but it was a familiar feeling, one that told him all was well.

It didn’t take him long, at least he didn’t think so, before he found himself in the friendly confines of the void. Brilliant, blinding white engulfed him. He tried, in vain, the see his hand again. He wondered why it was always like this, but didn’t think on it long. He started to walk straight ahead, looking for his exit. He noticed it far ahead. It was a blue color, mixed with a little green. As he got closer, he saw some white there too. Is this Russia again? he thought. He didn’t care. As long as it wasn’t back in the real world, with Noelle getting pissed at him, he was fine with it.

Mike stepped through the hole, finding himself on a small ship, gliding down a river with snow covered banks. In a way. he was excited to be in Russia. The last time he was here, he hated it at first and then he killed a man, a real man, for the first time ever. It gave him an odd feeling knowing that he killed a man, but he got over it. It was something he had to do. He was trying to preserve his life and that man was trying to take it. Of course, that man had every reason to. They were raiding his ship and killing the rest of his crew.

Sergei, Alexsander, and Victor were all there on the ship. Victor was at the helm, steering the small sailboat down the river, going east. It seemed like they hadn’t gone too far from their last time together. He wondered if while he was gone, if they’d notice at all, or if there were some other “Mikhael” that took his place while he was gone. It was a legitimate concern. How would they react to him if all of a sudden he was there one moment, and then gone the next, and then there again.

“Mikhael, here, take the helm for a moment. I gotta piss,” Victor said to him. Apparently there were no issues with him being there and gone and back again. Mike tentatively took the wheel, unsure of how to pilot a ship. He’d never done so before and this was definitely not something he was comfortable with. Victor stumbled away, going to the side of the ship and began pissing into the river. He seemed…drunk to Mike. The Russian sailor laughed as he relieved himself. Finishing, he came back to Mike. “You did good boy. Now let me take that back. We got some ways to go. We gotta get to the east. We are going back to the Kamchatkan district. I’m told by his majesty to take control out there. Things have gotten out of hand. You ready for this Mikhael?”

Mike wasn’t sure what to say. He thought for a moment. Was he really ready to stay here in the world beyond the void, helping to rule some far out Russian province? He smiled. Yep, he was. There was a reason he was here. There had been in the other places too. He was meant to be here. There was something only he could do that his comrades couldn’t. He didn’t know what it was, but when the time came, he’d know. “Yeah Victor, I’m ready. Let’s take care of things. I could use some excitement in my life.” Victor just laughed and mumbled something about damn Chinese stirring trouble. His laugh was low and hardy exactly like what Mike thought Russians sounded like.

They sailed on the river for several days. He never once saw another person besides his fellow sailors. Through their conversations, he figured out that they were in Siberia moving east, going to the far northeast part of the country to a far off province that apparently Victor had “discovered” some years back. It seems that Victor started falling out of favor with the crown because he had a penchant for raiding vessels. One too many complaints reached the crown and he was put in prison for a bit before being let out to go and subdue the Kamchatkan region. And that was where they were headed. A small group, almost a suicide mission Mike figured, going to rule over a large region far from the capitol. Just his luck. He leaves the real world only to find himself in a very dangerous situation.

It wasn’t too much longer that they came to port in a small town just outside the province they were to subdue. They unloaded their cargo and kept a sharp eye out for anyone that looked suspicious. They had a lot of gold and silver coins and were not willing to part ways with them easily. They found a small inn that had two available rooms, and settled in for the night.

It was getting colder outside. Miike guessed it was the dead of winter, and in Siberia, that wasn’t the best of times to be there. Inside the inn, there was a large common room with a blazing fire in a fire place at the end of the room. The four Russians gathered there, warming themselves at the fire.

“Sergei, do you think you can find the supplies we need here?” Alexsander asked. He was sipping on a cup of warm tea the inn-keeper had ready for them after getting settled. “Yeah, I think so Alexsander. I saw a few shops on our way here that should have all we need.”

“If we have to, we can sell the ship,” Victor said. “We don’t need it any more. Where we are going, the ship cannot take us. We go on foot from here. It’s cold. It’s hard. It’s the only way up there. That’s why no one went there but me. And what I found was astonishing. They had a large city up there. His majesty didn’t even know it was there until I told him. He sent troops in to take over and claim it for the crown, but after they left, they had a weak man take over the administration of the city. He couldn’t handle it. That’s why there are problems there. That’s why we go there. You boys wanted adventure, well it doesn’t get any better than this,” and he laughed at that last part. He was fearless. Or stupid. Either way, Mike was following him because adventure seemed to ooze from him. His demeanor, his way of carrying himself all told Mike this was a man to stay close to.

Sergei sold the ship. They stayed a few more days at the inn before packing up and setting off towards their destination. They got some mules to help carry their gear. It was frigid outside, but they had blankets on their backs and were bred for such a thing.

Victor took the lead. He seemed to have a keen sense of direction, because all Mike knew was that everything looked the same to him. It was all white. And it was cold. The wind blew fiercely through the trees as they trudged their way north and east. They would set up camp, get a large fire going, and then the next morning, pick it all up and go on again. That was their life for the next week.

One night, just before they reached the outskirts of the city Victor had talked about, Mike heard a noise outside his tent. The temperatures were brutally cold, and he was reluctant to go outside to check it out. However, Victor yelled at him inside their tent. “Go out there and check and that Mikhael, it’s your turn.” Mike grumbled some, but grabbed his knife and bundled up before opening the tent flaps, revealing a sky full of stars. The cold smacked him like he’d never felt before. He shivered and closed the flaps on his coat a little tighter. The fire was almost out. The other tent looked fine and the mules were in place. So far so good.

He heard the sound again, coming from behind him and on the other side of his tent. He turned around and there was a large figure staring at him. It rushed at him, crunching over branches and brush. It got closer and Mike realized it was a bear. A large brown bear. He thought it was a grizzly, but he didn’t know his bears, unless it was a white one. This bear roared as it charged at him. Instinctively, Mike pulled out his knife to defend himself. The bear lunged at him. Mike stepped aside, bringing the knife down on it’s back. It roared in pain before turning on Mike, swiping with it’s large claws. It caught Mike on his side, but with such a heavy coat on, it didn’t dig too deep in him. Mike pulled the knife free to more growls of pain from the bear.

He stepped back to brace for another charge from the bear and wasn’t disappointed. It came at a lunge, trying to maul him with it’s sharp claws while growling, revealing it’s large teeth. Mike stood his ground, and when the bear lunged, it’s front paws landed on Mike’s shoulders while it’s mouth tried snapping at him. He took his knife and struck upwards, going right for it’s heart. He plunged the knife in, making the bear scream in pain. It tried to swipe at him, but he ducked and all it got was air. It tried to bite at him and caught him on the shoulder, bringing instant pain. Mike tried to strike with the knife again, but his weakened arm wouldn’t give him the strength he needed. Filled with adrenaline, Mike jumped back, then raced in at the bear, bringing his knife down hard on it’s skull. The long blade pierced the bear’s skull, entered it’s brain, and killed it instantly. It collapsed dead on the ground with a large thud.

By then, the other three had left their tents, near naked, frightened by the sounds they heard outside. They were all so terrified, they were unable to move to Mike’s defense, figuring he was doomed and they wanted no part of it. He looked around and saw six scared eyes staring back at him, wide and full of fear. They had never seen a man kill a bear like that before in their lives. Mike did what they never could do, and they were aware of it. Victor in particular seemed aware that there was something off about Mike, though he said nothing. It was something in his look at Mike, something in the way he leaned and took in the whole scene that told Mike there was more in his head than looting and carrying out whatever it was the crown wanted him to do.

“Mikhael…are you…are you alright?” Sergei asked. He seemed truly frightened by all that happened. Mike guessed they missed most of the fight, but were able to see the last part of the dance, the one where Mike took a beating and came out on top. He didn’t recall seeing any of them while the bear attacked.

“Yeah, I think so,” Mike replied breathlessly. It was a struggle to fend off that bear, but he did it. He smiled at his efforts, but even that seemed a little tough. He didn’t remember being this tired after the Sponsers or the Aztecs. Leave it to a fucking bear of all things to get to the mighty Mike, he thought.

The other men then ran over to him, noticing the blood from the bear’s strikes on his shoulders. He had shredded more than what Mike thought he did, and when Alexsander tried moving part of Mike’s coat out of the way, he screamed in pain. “Damn it man, that hurts,” he snapped at him. “Sorry Mikhael, I was trying to help,” he replied.

“No, that’s ok. It hurt, that’s all.” And that was a lie. It was throbbing ruthlessly. It worried Mike a bit. He never had pain like this in the void. He was always the one to come out on top, and pain wasn’t part of the deal. He did get hit some, but for whatever reason, it usually didn’t linger long. This was something entirely different, and it concerned him.

They spent the next hour or so patching Mike up. He didn’t enjoy the primitive medicine and methods of getting his wounds taken care of, which was at least one thing he didn’t like about being there. Other than that, the courage he felt while there, the feeling of invincibility, was something he relished. He didn’t ever want to give this up. Noelle was wrong in trying to get him to stop. If only she saw what he was like here, how badly he seemed to be needed, then she wouldn’t be so mad and would come back to him. Until then, he had to keep it up. There was a reason he was here, and he would see it through. It had to be better than being a janitor.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re enjoying the story. Please 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 21

We’re on the home stretch! Welcome back for 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 21

Mike awoke to utter confusion. His house had been ransacked. While passed out someone robbed him and he did nothing to stop the intruders.   Away on his adventure, he let his real life get taken advantage of. He felt foolish, and angry. At first he felt anger towards Noelle. She should have been able to stop this, yet she was at work. Then, his anger turned towards himself. How could he be so blind to his real life and allow this to happen? Shame started to overcome the anger as he realized how upset this would make Noelle.

Mike jumped up from the couch and immediately felt woozy. He had a hangover, and sudden movements were not good for his head. The room spun a bit as he tried regaining his sense of balance, but it was too much. He collapsed on the floor, looking up at the swirling ceiling. He never noticed the patterns in the paint before, but they began to swirl too. He closed his eyes tightly, trying to focus on being still. For a moment, the spinning stopped. Opening his eyes, it all came rushing back, and he could hold it no longer as he turned to the side and vomited. He normally didn’t do that, but he must have had a lot in a short amount of time. That or his body hated tequila. Either way, he was not enjoying this, and he had a lot to clean up before Noelle got back.

After emptying his stomach, Mike sat there for a few minutes, just trying to breathe and let the dizziness pass. When he felt sure enough that it was under control, he stood up, much slower than before. Standing, swaying ever so slightly, he surveyed the room, and it was a mess. The bookshelves were tossed on the floor. Plants were knocked over. His lamp, which stood next to the couch, was on the floor, a large tear in the shade with the bulb busted on the floor. The television was on the floor, face down. Mike lifted it only to find it shattered all over the carpet. From the looks of it, Mike thought everything was still there, but in a mess. Now why the hell would anyone come in here and destroy my shit. They didn’t even take a thing he thought to himself.

He rubbed his side, the place where the tribesman, an “Aztec” Cortez called him, slammed his spear into his side. Lifting up his shirt, he saw a large bruise, along his ribs. It was long and thin, sort of like a pole, like the spear that hit him in the otherworld. It was sore and he could barely touch it. The red marks were distinct, there was no way of hiding that from Noelle, especially after it started to bruise, which it would soon.

Mike just stood there, looking at the destruction and feeling an immense amount of pain. His hands were sore, as though they were clenched. He could feel the muscles in his hands keep a closed grip, kind of like when he would hold the broom too long at work while cleaning up the floors. He tried to uncurl them and that only made them worse.

“What the fuck happened?” he asked out loud. No one answered. He had no idea how his place got in the shape it was in, and he surely had no idea how his hands..

“Wait, the fight. Is that it?” he said aloud again, looking down at his hands. He could feel the fight, feel punching that Aztec. He felt invincible then, felt like he could do no wrong. Nothing like he felt right now. He was weak, he was scared, and he knew anything he did was the wrong thing. That was the allure of the void and the lands it took him to. He was something, unlike anything he was in the real world. It was his one escape from the boring, monotonous life he had lived his whole life. At least there, he was worth something to someone, just ask Cortez. He knew then his pain was from the fight, that it somehow carried over into this life. It didn’t matter to him though. It was a badge of courage, a sign that somewhere, he was a someone. And pride started to well up in him.

It was then that he heard the car door slam shut. “Fuck!” he said out loud. There he was standing in the living room, wrecked, with puke on the floor. “Fuck” he said again.

Noelle walked in, laid her keys on the counter and walked into the living room.

Her eyes went large at the sight of Mike standing in the midst of the mess. “What happened? Mike dammit, what the fuck happened?”

He was at a loss, unsure what to say. “I, I, I don’t know exactly Noe. I think we got broken in to.” He sounded like he believed it, but Noelle saw right through it.

“You got drunk again, didn’t you? I leave for one night, to work, and you get fucking drunk! Dammit Mike, how can I trust you? Look at this place!”

“But Noe, I didn’t do this. I woke up, and it was like this. Everything is trashed.”

“My ass you had nothing to do with this Mike! When you get drunk, you get violent. You did this Mike, no one else. Why the hell would anyone come in here, trash the place, and then leave? Huh? Tell me Mike, I’d like to know.”

Mike fell silent. Inside, he knew he was right, he knew he didn’t do it. There had to be an explanation to this. “Noelle, seriously, I don’t know what happened, but I do know I didn’t do it. Why won’t you believe me?”

“Oh, so you ask me to trust you now? Sort of like trusting you to get help, to go to a therapist to help you with your problem? Tell me Mike, how’s that working out for you, huh? Tell me, I’d like to know.”

“What? We’ve been broken in to and that’s all you want to talk about? Really? Fine, whatever. It’s fine. My therapist says I’m doing great.”

“Mike, that’s bullshit and you know it! You haven’t been seeing anyone. I asked your boss, and he said you don’t have a company therapist. You’ve been lying all this time to me about seeking help. I went along because you did seem to be doing a better job of keeping your drinking under control. But not anymore. Fuck this Mike. I’m done with the lies, done with the fakeness. I can’t take this anymore. Do you have any idea what this is doing to me? You drink and drink and drink. Then in your violent, alcoholic rage, you destroy what you claim to love the most.” She began sobbing deeply, uncontrollably. This had been welling up inside her for some time, and it was all coming out at this moment.

Mike decided to stop the charade. “You’re right Noe, I haven’t been seeing anyone,” he said quietly. He was never one for confrontation, and this was way beyond his comfort level.

“But I had a reason Noe, a good one. I needed alcohol to get into the void, to the places and people on the other side of it. They needed me Noe, and that was the only way there. I didn’t think you’d ever understand that, so I had to lie in order to keep drinking.”

She stood there with the most complete look of anger Mike had ever seen in his life. “Who the fuck do you think I am Mike? I’m not a fucking moron. I’m not stupid. Why the hell would you say something so ridiculous as that as an excuse of why you need to drink? You are fucking crazy. I can’t believe you’d say something like that!” And her crying began again, stronger than before.

“I told you you wouldn’t understand Noe. Now do you see why I had to lie? It doesn’t make sense, it hardly does to me. All I know is that when I drink, I go to a place I call the void, and from there I get to meet other people and help them. I get to be somebody there Noe, not like here where I’m a nobody.”

“Mike, you are a somebody. To me! Mike we’ve been together a long time, and you have always been somebody to me. You are always there for me. You always take care of me. Mike, you mean everything to me. How can you say something like that?”

“Noe, it’s not like that. I know we are something to each other, but it’s different. It’s to be expected that we’re there for each other. But outside of that, who am I? I’m a fucking glorified janitor. Whoop-de-fucking-do. I’m a nothing. But there, in the void, I’m a somebody. And those people there, they need me. Without me, they can’t take care of the problems they’re facing. Noe, it’s complicated. The only way of getting there is by drinking. I don’t know how or why, but that’s how it works. I have to drink so I can get there. They need me Noe.”

“Mike, do you hear what you’re saying? You have to get drunk, just so some strangers can be taken care of…by you? That’s crazy Mike! Can’t you see that? The alcohol has gotten hold of you. Mike, you’re an alcoholic. You don’t go anywhere when you drink. You stay right here. You get violent and destroy things. And now it sounds like you don’t care that you’re destroying things with us. All because you have to drink to get to some imaginary place. Mike you seriously need help, you really do.”

Take care of things. Take care of her he heard Cortez say in his head. Take care of the problems back there Abe scolded him.

“Fuck you, all of you! You needed me, you both said so!” He realized he shouted out loud, and wished he could take it back.

Noelle was taken aback by the sudden outburst. Carefully she asked, “Mike, who are you talking to? Do you hear voices? What’s going on Mike?”

“Nothing Noe, forget it. I don’t have a problem. It’s just a means to an end. If you don’t like it, fuck it. You can go. I’m a big boy.”

Noelle stopped crying and looked down at the floor. “Mike, what are you saying?” she said softly. “Do you want to end this? We’ve been together for so long, and we are engaged now. Do you really want to end this because of alcohol?”

“If you won’t stop badgering me about it, then yeah I guess I am saying that. I told you, I don’t have a problem Noe. I have a need. That need is to get to the void to help the people in need. I’m a hero to them. And it’s real Noe. I didn’t think it was, but things keep pointing me to believe that it’s real and I have a place in it. My only means to get there is to drink. I’ve told you that already.”

Quietly, she turned around and picked up her keys off the counter. Before opening the door, she looked back at Mike who was standing, half-naked, in the middle of the trashed living room, looking so thin and frail. He was an alcoholic, and he was angry. She said a quick prayer for him, then turned to go out.

Hearing the door click shut brought Mike out of his stupor. Did she really go? he asked himself. He didn’t think she would. He figured she’d stay with him like always. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. She deserted him after he bared his soul to her and told her things he never thought he’d tell another living person. He heard her squeel out of the driveway, most likely on her way to her parents house. They lived in the same small town and weren’t that far away.

She left me he said to himself. He stumbled a bit, exhausted from the void and the fight he just had with Noe. This was by far the worst they’d had. He always tried to avoid a fight with her, but this time he couldn’t help it. She pushed and wanted the truth. He gave it to her, though she didn’t like it, much as he anticipated she wouldn’t.

Lowering his head, he rubbed his temples. This was all too much to bear. Noe left him, his house was in a shambles, and there was the void still calling him. He thought if given enough time, Noe would come to her senses and would be back in no time. She had to, she always did after she got mad.

Mike started slowly cleaning up the living room. It took him all morning, but it was long enough for him to think more about the void and what was happening there. He was already longing to be back by the time he picked up the last piece of glass from the floor.

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

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 20

Welcome to the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist. If you’ve missed any chapters, please check out the Table of Contents to catch up.

Chapter 20

Several weeks of being outside the void and Mike started having withdrawals and needed to find a way back, at all costs. He knew there could be some serious consequences to his leaving again, however he carefully thought on those and reasoned that the risk was well worth it. He was not going to stay a boring person. He was going to have adventure, no matter where and no matter the cost. The need to be there consumed him. Every waking moment, he thought more and more about it. He decided he needed it as much as the people there needed him.

One afternoon, on a Saturday, Mike found himself home alone. Noelle had to work an overnight, which was a bit unusual. She had been at her job long enough to earn seniority and not have to work the overnight shift on the week-ends, but for whatever reason, she was. Mike feigned being upset, trying to show a good face, but underneath, he was elated. Here was his chance to try and reach the void again. She went to work around seven, and the earliest she’d be back was five in the morning, but usually later. It was the perfect set-up for having a few drinks and getting back to the void. If he was still passed out from it in the morning, she’d be no wiser. Briefly, he thought maybe the void was encroaching on reality again, causing her to work while coaxing him back. He didn’t need coaxing, he just needed the right opportunity, and here it was.

Immediately after Noelle left, Mike went straight to drinking. He picked up some tequila on the way home from work the day before and hid it in his car. He hadn’t had some in a while and it sounded good to him. He was still in “therapy” and people like him weren’t allowed to be drinking anymore, so he had to stash it somewhere she wouldn’t find it. He had gotten used to the fact that he was now sneaking behind Noelle’s back, but it had to be done. She didn’t understand, no one would. It was something he had to do. He mixed the tequila with some lemon-lime soda, the only thing he had that he thought would mix well, which it did. The drinks went down smoothly. He made them extra strong because he wanted to be in the void that much quicker, and the faster he was drunk, the faster it happened, every time. In no time, as he was kicking back watching some college football game drinking the tequila, he found himself slipping into the void.

Soon familiar brilliant white light surrounded and engulfed him. All around him, there was nothing but whiteness and it was bright. He knew the drill and started walking forward, looking for the familiar speck of color that told him where the entrance to the land beyond the void awaited. It didn’t seem like it took as long as previous attempts before he spotted the circle of color far off in the distance.

Dark shades of green within the circle gave him hope. He wanted to see Abe again, to talk to him some more about what he said just before he left the last time. He still hadn’t reasoned out what it all meant. He started to think that his worlds were melding together in some way and he wasn’t sure how he felt about that. The color of green meant he’d be going to the forest again, and he was certain Abe would be there. Walking closer to the circle, watching it emerge from the emptiness of the void, Mike saw the green of the forest grow deeper in color, mixed with blue skies and brown on the forest floor. He reached the edge, took a quick look around, and stepped through. He turned back to see if the white of the void would be there, but it was gone. It was like he stepped through an invisible hole into this world.

Looking around, Mike noticed the green hue of the trees, but it was not the same as it was with Abe. The trees looked…different to him. It reminded him of his trip to Florida with his family. The green was from palm trees and evergreens, not the maples and oaks he recalled when with the brothers. Wait, he thought, am I in…am I with…Cortez, yeah that’s his name. Where is Cortez? I think that’s where I’m at. As if in reply to his question, Cortez came strolling out from behind some trees, walking directly towards him.

“They got us good in here, don’t they Miguel?” He asked Mike. He was confused by the question, remembering the last time he was here being tied up by some tribal looking men speaking in a tongue he couldn’t identify, but still understood just the same as all the rest.

“Huh, what do you mean sir?” Mike replied. He added the sir because he recalled Cortez being the captain and thought it best to err on the side of being polite.

“Miguel, these natives, these Aztec’s, they got us good, no? They are ready to sacrifice us to their heathen god. I’m not sure I’m ready for that just yet. I thought they had you in another camp, I hadn’t seen you in days. You alright?”

So that explained to Cortez why he hadn’t been here in a while. To Mike, it sounded as plausible as any other excuse. “Yeah, captain, I was in another camp and decided to escape. I’m here to rescue you.”

Mike knew from Abe, that he could do things here that none of the people here could do. That gave him a sense of false confidence. He felt as though he’d be invincible here. He didn’t ever have a plan when he visited, but he decided it was time to “fake it till you make” as one of his old coach’s used to say all the time. What Cortez didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him he figured, so he went along with the ruse.

“Good man Miguel. We need to get out quickly before they return. Apparently the sacrifice is to be tonight. Which way did you come in from, maybe we can go that way back out.”

Mike froze for a moment. Since he didn’t actually come here from another camp, he didn’t know which way to go. He saw a path off to his left and that voice in his head that often told him the names of the people here in this existence told him that was the way to go. “There captain,” he pointed. For both their sake, he hoped the voice was correct and not just some wishful thinking on his part.

The two of them started slowly down the path, keeping watch for any of the tribesmen. Finding a group of them would not be in their best interest. They got down the path away from the camp where Cortez was held before they saw their first few tribesmen. Ducking behind some bushes, they waited for them to pass. Mike heard them talking and even though it was a strange dialect he didn’t recognize, he had immediate understanding of what they said. It was no more than talk about some crops, nothing exciting.

“Looks like we are clear captain, let’s get moving before they realize we are gone,” Mike said quietly to Cortez. They picked up their pace and started along the path once again.

Birds and monkeys made a racket above them. Mike tensed, thinking the sounds of the animals would give their position away. Just then, a large red bird with colorful tail feathers swooped down and buzzed them, startling him and Cortez. It felt like an omen, but the voice told him to go this way, so he continued on. Cortez looked concerned about Mike’s direction, but said nothing.

The path eventually ended and ahead of them lay a field of tall grass. Mike could hear the ocean, which must have been beyond the grass because he didn’t see it.   They hesitated. “Are you sure we go that way?” Cortez asked. “If we go out there, we have no cover and they will see us easily. Do you have someone waiting for us in a ship?”

Mike tensed, knowing he didn’t have anything prepared for them. At least, he didn’t think he did. The voice in his head said Spanish are there, waiting in the Maria del Mer. “Sir, I have a ship waiting, the Maria del Mer. Her captain awaits our arrival.”

Cortez smiled. Mike thought it looked more like a smirk, as though he had an evil thought. “So, they send that boy to rescue me, eh? I imagine he’ll enjoy knowing he helped the great Cortez escape death at the hands of the natives. Maybe then he’ll get his chance to finish me himself. Good job Miguel, I’m sure this cost you quite a bit. Well done boy!” he said and patted Mike on the back. Mike wasn’t sure what the hell it all meant, just that whatever plan was in place, apparently it was the right one. Cortez, assured of the safe passage out, began sprinting straight through the grass, ready to get on with it. Mike followed, running as fast as he could.

They reached a small crest, and once at the top, they could see the beach and a ship in the water just off-shore. There was a small boat, dingy the voice said, at rest on the sand. Cortez seemed relieved. He saw escape at last. They began descending down the other side of the crest, more like a small hill on this side, to approach the boat to board the ship.

Before they got half way down, they were spotted by the two crewmen stationed with the dingy. They waved at Mike and Cortez, who both waved back, letting them know they saw them. The two men waved frantically in return, and then started shouting. “Turn around, behind you!” they were shouting. Mike looked behind him and there was the group of natives they saw on the path, running towards them, spears in hand.

With war paint on their faces and small animal skins covering up their midsection,   the natives looked ferocious. Feathers were knitted into their hair, and he saw some jewelry on their arms. Their spears were made of wood with a large, long spear head made of stone. Those too had feathers tied to them. They were charging down the hill, shouting and raising their spears. Mike counted three of them. They were too far from the small boat to get on and sail to safety, so they were going to have to fight or run away, hoping to escape capture or death.

Cortez seemed to think the same thing, and turned around ready to stand his ground. Mike had a thought run across his mind. If I let Cortez die here, history will be all screwed up. I have to make sure he lives through this. What would happen if he doesn’t? Will I cease to exist? He knew Cortez was famous in history, knew he had some role in the discovery and colonization of the so-called New World, but not a clear understanding of what. He just knew the name from his basic history class back in high school, and nothing more. He never got into the whole history thing, it always seemed boring to him. But here he was, ready to defend it, if only because of the possible outcome of him not having an existence in the real world, a theory he remembered seeing in countless movies.

He and Cortez stood there, looking like two fools ready to meet their maker, unarmed against three wild looking natives. The tribesmen charged in at full speed, spears pointed at them. They tried to surround the two men, one on each side and one in the middle. The one in the middle was easily dodged, while the other two struck home, both slapping their spear head against the two men square in the ribs. Cortez bent over in obvious pain while Mike flinched a bit, but stood his ground. The pain was not as intense as it should have been. “We needed you,” he heard Abe tell him in his head. He felt a surge of strength wash over him like nothing he’d ever felt before. He was ready, and he would win.

Quickly, Mike reacted to the blow. He slammed his fist down hard on the man’s forearm, making him drop the spear out of pain. He tried to recover and collect the spear, but Mike was too fast for him. He punched the tribesman hard in the face, staggering him. He charged at Mike, and they both fell to the ground wrestling. Mike tried kicking and punching at the man above him, while the tribesman kneed Mike in the stomach, winding him. While trying to catch his breath, the man grabbed Mike’s head and started to bash it on the ground, sending wave after wave of pain with each blow. Mike’s vision started to blur, but he finally caught his breath and recovered. He blocked the man above him, struggling to free himself from his hold. He could hear Cortez and the other two men struggling, but didn’t have the opportunity to look and see what was going on. He could only hope that Cortez was holding his own for now.

Mike saw his chance as the tribesman reached back for a knife hanging from his waist. He thrust his hands upwards, catching the tribesman on the chin hard, jerking his head forward. He let his grip loosen and Mike pushed himself upwards quickly. Before the man could regain his balance, Mike landed punch after punch into his face, bloodying his nose. Soon enough, his eyes were black and blue and the right one started swelling badly. Mike continued his pounding, feeling a strength he never knew he had. He was lost to himself, knowing nothing but the beating and the sweet sensation of dominating another person. Eventually, he felt the man go slack. Mike had beat him severely. So much so that he wasn’t sure if he was alive still or not. He didn’t care at that moment, there were still two other men.

Mike turned from his opponent to see the other two men bruising Cortez badly. One held him down while the other smacked and punched and kicked Cortez with abandon. Mike filled with rage at the sight. He grabbed the dropped spear and swung at the head of the one beating Cortez. A loud crunch sounded as the spear connected, shattering his skull on impact, blood flying from his mouth and nose. He fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Mike knew he was done and took his turn with the last man.

The third man released Cortez when Mike swung the spear, and he hurled a small bone knife at Mike, catching him in his thigh. Mike screamed in pain, but burst through it with the adrenaline pumping inside. He brought the spear down towards the man who lept away just in time. Mike stumbled forward with the missing blow, staggering and losing his balance. The tribesman pounded him on his back, trying to knock him over. It almost worked, but Mike used the spear like a crutch and caught himself just before losing his balance and stood himself up. With reflexes he didn’t know he had, he whirled the spear around and tripped the man by knocking his legs from under him. In one swift, deadly motion, he pulled the spear up and rammed it home in the man’s chest, pinning him to the ground. His eyes rolled upwards as he choked up blood and spit. He clutched the spear, trying to remove it but Mike struck down so hard, that it wouldn’t budge from the ground. It didn’t take long for the man to lose his strength and eventually gave up the fight and died.

Mike’s vision started to waver in and out from the blow he received in the fight. He looked around to find Cortez and found him lying down on the ground, beaten and bloodied, but still breathing. He knelt down to check on him, Cortez’s breathing slight but steady.

“Damn savages!” Cortez said in between breaths. “They nearly got us Miguel, but you were here to save us. I knew you would be. We all did Miguel.” And then he closed his eyes, passing out from the exertion. Mike lifted him up and carried him like a groom with his bride on their wedding night, and started off towards the small boat waiting for them. By then, the two men that were on the beach had made it to him. One of them took Cortez from Mike while the other had Mike put his arm around him so he could steady him.

“You alright Miguel? We tried to get to warn you, we tried to get here in time. I’ve never seen a man do what you did Miguel. You took blows that would crush a normal man, yet you didn’t even seem fazed by it. You looked like you were another man, like you were possessed.”

“I’m fine,” Mike said, and he meant it. He felt full of strength. He felt proud. He felt like a warrior and one that performed his task admirably.

The four of them finally made it to the dingy where they laid Cortez in carefully. When they did so, he awoke and looking at Mike said in a low, weak voice, “I knew you were coming back Miguel. You had to finish the job, which we couldn’t do. These men couldn’t find me or keep me safe, but I knew you would. You have to return soon though Miguel. You have problems to take care of. They are much larger than me, you understand? You take care of her Miguel, she’s the best thing to ever happen to you. She loves you Miguel. You mean everything to her, don’t you see?”

“What are you talking about sir? Who is she? What are you saying” Mike replied puzzled. He wasn’t following Cortez at all, and the two men rowing the boat acted like they hadn’t heard a thing.

“Miguel, you know what I say. You must take care of things before they get worse. You keep coming here, you will lose yourself here. You die here, and she has no one anymore. You die for good if you die here Miguel. Do you understand that, you die for good. No more life, no more anything. Fix things Miguel,” and then his eyes rolled back in his head as he passed out from the beating.

Fix things? With her? Does he know too? Mike thought. Cortez, like Abe, seemed to know about his other life, his real one. He seemed to be warning him too. “If you die here Miguel, you die for good” Cortez told him. He pondered the meaning of those words when suddenly he found himself falling, spiraling towards the unseen ground below him. He grew dizzy as the spinning got faster and he fell farther and farther down. Finally, he hit the bottom, waking to find himself in his home, on the couch.

Thanks for reading! I’d appreciate any and all comments on the story. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 19

Welcome back! I do hope you’re enjoying this month long release of my very rough NaNoWriMo novel Master of the Drunken Fist. If you’re behind, check out the Table of Contents to catch up.

Chapter 19

Mike and Noelle went several weeks with their relationship going really, really well. So good in fact that Mike was preparing himself for the other shoe to drop. He just knew it would be a matter of time before it all unraveled. At some point he figured Noelle was going to get on his case for drinking and bug him about his “therapy.” His “therapy” consisted of lying to her about seeing some counselor at the cost of his company during his lunch hours. He even told a few of his closest work friends he was doing so just in case she decided to check on him. And then he’d go take lunch alone at some park nearby, having a beer with his food, just to take the edge off. He never drank more than that at lunch because he was afraid of going to the void in the middle of the work day. He reasoned that a small amount of alcohol was not enough to tip him into the void, and so far he was right.

It wasn’t long into this charade that Mike started to get the urge to visit the void again. Abe’s last words to him when he left really struck home with him. He was unsure of what to make of the fact that Abe acted like he knew about Mike, knew that he was a stranger there, knew that he was a fraud, and not a hero. But at the same time, Abe also seemed to know that they needed Mike to clear the Sponsers from their existence. They were incapable of taking them out themselves, and needed Mike to do it for them. It was all some sort of bizarre, twisted tale and Mike was unsure how to unravel it.

Since going to the void, he went under the assumption that the people he met there had no idea he had a different, “real” life outside of their existence. The way they acted towards him told him they saw him as part of their world and had been all along. They talked to him like that. He guessed they didn’t know anything else. Then, there was Abe telling him he knew about Mike, knew about his real life, knew about his so-called problems. That was unexpected to say the least. Mike was never one to speak well on the spot, and he was dumbfounded when Abe talked. He couldn’t reply intelligibly. He still didn’t know what it all meant. Are all these “worlds” just some sort of make believe creation in my head? He thought about that, thought maybe he was making all of it up.

If so, then what of the hatchet and coins? He couldn’t reconcile those things in the least. Those things scared him. He wondered how he was able to bring them from the void-world to his real-world. Nothing else seemed to carry over, except maybe some of the physical pain. He remembered his neck hurting after the fight with the Chinese man while with the Russians. He remembered getting thumped that very first time in the void and having a bruise on his head. Noe didn’t see it, but he did as clear as day. It was confusing. His mind hurt trying to wrap itself around it. It was at times like these, when he just sat back and pondered all he’d been through, that he really needed a drink. Not necessarily to get back to the void, but to relax and be better able to accept what was going on.

And all of these places, what did those mean? He was very confused about the various locations he encountered. He’d never been in the back-woods areas around his town, or anywhere for that matter. He never had a desire to do so. He remembered riding the school bus with some kids from the more rural part outside of town and they all smelled like cigarettes and Old Spice. That was about as far into the “back-woods” that he got, and the brothers were not like them. They were more like those hillbillies you see on some reality tv show.

Then there was the ship. He wasn’t exactly sure where he was there. He was never one to go out on a boat. He tended to get motion sickness and a ship rocking back and forth with the waves was not his idea of a good time. The crew were nice enough though, even the captain, Cortez. It was strange to be on that Spanish ship. And being caught in the violent storm was an experience he’d never soon forget. He somewhat recognized the tribesmen, the “Aztecs” Cortez called them. Their war paint and dress looked familiar, as though he’d seen it before in a book or something. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but he knew they were bad news and should be avoided. He associated their likeness with sacrifice, and something told him he’d have found out soon enough if he hadn’t gotten out of there like he did.

The strangest place to him, besides with those screaming Sponsers, was in what he figured was Russia. Never, ever in his wildest dreams could he see himself in Russia. He never had a desire to go there. Nothing there called to him, to come visit, to explore. He didn’t feel any connection to Russia. He did with other places, Like Ireland or England, but not Russia. It was like some cruel joke. “Hey, why not send Mike to the last place he’d ever go. Let’s send him to Russia!” the joke went, “And then we’ll have him beat up and kill some Chinese guys.” The joke wasn’t funny to Mike. He didn’t even like Chinese food, let alone being in the situation he was in. The Russians were exactly what he expected, hardy and self-confident. They saw their opportunity and seized it, regardless of the consequences. He admired them for it, but feared them all the same. If asked to go on a vacation anywhere in the world, he would never ever have chosen Russia. It just didn’t register to him as a safe, sane place to visit. He felt nothing towards the land or the people, and to find himself there was quite unusual.

He wondered why he couldn’t always go to the same place when he went to the void. That would have made things so much easier. He could plan, he could prepare, he could stop being shocked to hear his own voice in so many different languages. He’d very much prefer to always visit the same place. He could learn the lay of the land, get the whole picture of the place, stuff like that. Instead, he kept getting dropped into one situation or another with no warning at all.

That wasn’t to say that Mike hated the randomness altogether. He did enjoy going to various places. He enjoyed having some sort of adventure in his life. Rather than be a plain, boring janitor, he was able to do something that mattered. He could eliminate the “bad guys” in the guise of the Sponsers. He could endure a horrific sea storm, and he could be a Russian explorer/pirate. He couldn’t do any of that in his “real” life and these adventures seemed to give him purpose. They gave him a sense of belonging. Abe told him himself, they needed Mike, even though they knew he was from someplace different. He felt like a hero there and that was much more preferable than his boring life. He just would rather have some control of where he was going and what he was about to do.

All things considered, he decided he’d keep on trying to get to the void. He craved the adventure. He needed the excitement in his life. He knew he ran the risk of pissing off Noelle, but she’d get over it in time. She always did.

Thanks so much for reading! Please leave a comment below to let me know what you think. Come back tomorrow for the next chapter of Master of the Drunken Fist.