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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.

“On the Horizon”

On the Horizon is the 22 author scifi/fantasy boxed-set I’m super excited to be part of. It releases on May 1, 2018. My novel The Selection will be one of the 22 novels featured in this collection.

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Go ahead, click “pre-order” at the Nook store below! I’ll be extremely grateful if you did!

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Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 18

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

Chapter 18

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

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

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

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

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

“Mikey, I know.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 17

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

Chapter 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 16

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

Chapter 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 15

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

Chapter 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 14

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

Chapter 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 13

Welcome to the latest installment of my 2012 NaNoWriMo winning novel Master of the Drunken Fist. Missed a chapter? Catch up at the Table of Contents.

Chapter 13

Not long after he returned from Cortez and had his revelation, Mike decided he needed to go back. Or at least try to go back. He still wasn’t one hundred percent sure he knew how he got to the void, but he had a hunch it was through alcohol. Not being one to turn away from a good drink, he looked for his opportunity to let loose and find his way back.

His time came when Noelle had to leave out of town for work. It was a bit unusual for her to leave, but she did on occasion and he thought the timing couldn’t have been better. For days, he had been anxious to get back to the void, to continue his excursion with Cortez or even meet up with the brothers again. In either case, he knew he faced certain danger. However it appealed to him wildly. Besides, there wasn’t much excitement to be had pushing a broom and emptying the trash. This was his way out, and he was ready.

“Mike, I’ll be gone from Thursday through Saturday. You should be able to reach me on my cell most of the time, but I might be in class when you call, so just leave a message and I’ll call you back as soon as I can.”

She looked relieved and refreshed. Mike hadn’t been drunk in over a month and things seemed to be looking up. She figured he had enough and really was going down the path of straight and narrow. After the last few times he had something to drink, she hoped so. He got mean, and violent. And not always towards her. He picked fights with his friends, he yelled, he threw things, it was awful. That side of him only came out when he drank. All the rest of the time, he was fine. More than fine really. He catered to her needs, even those she didn’t know she had. He was remarkable in his attitude towards her. He was truly a gentleman when he wasn’t drinking. That’s what made it so hard for her to leave him. She saw the good in him, she knew it existed. If only she could get him to live that life all the time, then things would be so much better not only for her, but Mike too. She knew her leaving might lead to him slipping and falling off the wagon, however she felt it would be a test of his resolve to stay away from drinking. He was quite adamant to her that he would stay sober.

“Noe, don’t worry. I’m good. I’m a big boy, I can handle things. You go, have a good time. Try to relax after your classes. I’ll be here when you get back.”

He leaned in, grabbed her by her ass, and held her close while he kissed her. She loved that sensation of being so close to him, and it felt so inviting there. Their embrace lasted for a few minutes before she broke it off, not wanting to be too late. It was a long drive to the conference center. “Love ya Mike,” she said as she walked away. “Love ya to Noe. Be safe. See you in a couple of days. Hey, call me when you get there, OK?”

“Sure thing, bye.” She got in her car and left, waving by as she drove away.

Mike already decided he’d drink the night she left, just in case anything happened and he’d be out a few hours or more. He actually took the Friday off of work too, all in preparation for what might or might not happen. He waited, watching tv until Noelle called him from the conference center Their conversation was brief, it normally was when she was gone and with her colleagues. Most times, it bothered Mike as he worried what she might be up to. However, this night, it was welcome. He had plans.

After they hung up, he immediately went to the fridge and grabbed the orange juice. For some reason, he had a desire for a screw driver. He hadn’t drank one of those in a while, and it just sounded good to him. They still had alcohol in the house, and they had the staples: rum, tequila, whiskey, and vodka. It was the vodka he needed this evening, so he got the bottle and mixed it with the juice. He held it in his hand for a while, thinking he must be crazy doing this. He laughed at himself, to think that he could travel to another dimension…by drinking! It sounded absurd at the moment, but he wanted the drink regardless, and lifted the glass to his lips.

The sweetness of the juice was cut just a bit by the burn of the vodka. It was a perfect blend of fire and sweet to Mike. He let the taste linger on his palette a bit before he took another drink. Satisfied with the mix, he went to the living room, sat down with his computer, and started checking his usual sites for the latest news and whatnot.

He finished the drink fairly quickly, so he poured himself another. He wasn’t sure how many he had when suddenly, he slipped into the familiar white nothingness of the void.

He knew what to do now, being an experienced man of the void, and began walking straight ahead. He looked all around, expecting to see a pinpoint of light or color indicating the exit he needed. Surprisingly, he couldn’t find a thing. He stopped for a moment, listening to see if he could hear the exit, and still nothing. He grew a little concerned that no exit from the void presented itself like the other times, but continued walking ahead, stopping every once in a while listening for the sounds indicating the exit was near. He still couldn’t see a thing, not even his hands, but it was something he knew to be part of the void.

Suddenly, from out of no where, he stepped through the exit and into a frozen wasteland. No wonder I couldn’t see the color, it was white like the void! he thought as he stared around him at blowing snow. The wind cut through him even though he wore a heavy fur coat. His hands and feet were covered tightly in thick wool gloves and leather boots lined with some type of fur. The layers seemed to not stop the chilling air is it howled around him. Where the hell am I?

 He expected to be on a beach, or with the tribesmen, or at the least with the brothers. He didn’t expect this at all. Never in his his time here had he been in the cold. It was always warm when he visited here, so this caught him off guard a bit. Luckily for Mike, whenever he went to the void and beyond, he was always prepared with what he needed.

Mike looked around and saw shadowy figures standing nearby with some dogs. As he walked closer, he could start to make out some tents and a fire. The dogs barked at him approaching. The snow was blowing so heavily that he didn’t see the flames of the fire until he got closer to the figures. They were all hooded, and as far as Mike could tell, all male.

Stepping close enough to talk to them, Mike heard a language that seemed odd, though he recognized exactly the words they said and he understood every bit of it. The wonders of the void never ceased for him, and the one which instantly translated language was by far his most favorite one. As they talked, their accent reminded him of someone. Boris…Natasha? Mike saw images of a cartoon moose in his head and some spies. Are they speaking Russian? he thought. He listened some more and the recognition bells in his head started going off, telling him yes, it was indeed Russian he was hearing. Looking at the three men there, he was able to spot the leader easily as the voice inside him said Vladimir. The name clear as day, Vladimir. That told him all he needed to know about who these men were. He was transported to Russia.

The conversation of the men concerned boats and plunder. It sounded like they were looking forward to another haul. Of what, Mike didn’t know. They all spoke of going east, looking for some region. Kamchat, or Kamchatka or something like that. Mike had a hard time following, even with the gift of translation. Every once in awhile during the conversation, the one called Vladimir would turn to Mike and say something to the effect of “Isn’t that right Mikhael,” or “Don’t you agree Mikhael?” to which Mike would nod. He was afraid to say anything out of fear that he’d be discovered as a fraud. Eventually, one of the other men, Alexsander the voice inside told him, looked to Mike and asked him, “ So which way do you propose?”

For a moment, the question startled Mike. He wasn’t sure what to say or who he was supposed to side with. Finally, he said, “Whatever Vladimir has chosen, we will do,” and this time, he was honestly shocked with the voice that left his lips. He heard clear English in his head, yet like before, he spoke the native language fluently. And the Russian coming from him sounded so natural, and yet he never had a desire to learn it in his life, he hadn’t ever been around a person that spoke it either. Yet here he was, fluent and none of the other men were the wiser to it.

Vladimir smiled, turning to Alexsander and Sergei the voice helped him with, and waved them all towards the tents. “Tomorrow, we go east. The land isn’t that much further. Another few weeks and I know we’ll find it.”

That was when Mike noticed there were only two tents. He waited for just a bit to see which tent two men would go to, leaving him the other one. Alexsander and Sergei went to one tent while Vladimir went to the other, telling Mike that was his place, and he followed him inside. It was cramped, but it stopped the wind from blowing on him and instantly his face began to thaw.

Removing their heavy parkas, they both leaned on their mats of fur, turned towards each other. “Thanks Mikhael for supporting me, you know how much they have been wanting to leave this expedition, especially Sergei, but I think they will stay on course. Thanks my friend.” And then he covered himself up in wool blankets, turned to the other side, and slowly drifted off to sleep.

Wow, Mike thought. I’m in frozen hell…with Russians. I’m not sure where we are either. It’s freaking cold though! Man I so wanted to be on that beach again. Maybe I’m needed here? There has to be a reason for it. As he laid down and reached for the blankets, he noticed for the first time his arms were hairy. Not just normal man arm hairy, but almost bear like. It startled him at first because he was not used to seeing almost black arms on himself. Then he let it go. This place offered so many strange things that he figured hairy arms were the least of his concerns here. Staying warm seemed to him the most pressing need. The blankets did just that and with the tent holding it’s own in the wind, it wasn’t half bad here. After a few moments, he was able to fall fast asleep. He no longer cared where he was, he was along for the adventure either way.

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