Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 22

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

Chapter 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 21

We’re on the home stretch! Welcome back for the next chapter of my 2012 NaNoWriMo winning novel Master of the Drunken Fist. If you need to catch up, check out the Table of Contents.

Chapter 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 20

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

Chapter 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master of the Drunken Fist: Chapter 19

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

Chapter 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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.

Even if you’ve read my book, you can still pre-order this amazing collection of stories from a cast of international authors. With a price of .99 you can’t go wrong!


Right now we are able to offer pre-orders on the Nook (or Nook app if you’re like me and read on an iPad using all the different reading apps). By pre-ordering the collection on the Nook, you are helping us to achieve our goal and supporting talented authors from around the world.

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

Nook Pre-Order

Amazon pre-orders will be coming soon in a few months. They only allow a 90 day pre-order. If you wanna be alerted to when those are live, sign up to our email alert here and we’ll keep you updated!

PS: Feel free to share this with all your friends!


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.

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