Welcome to the dream world. This is something that I feel contains some of my most creative work. Thinking up the dream world took some effort, but it was wildly fun to do. Reach chapter 6 and you’ll be transported to this new, otherworldly place. If you’ve come here prematurely, then take a few steps back to read, chapters 1 & 2, then 3 & 4.
Fal, Alitor, and Koe approached Vesik as the young man was checking his gear for what seemed like the hundredth time. Fal startled the man with a slap on the shoulder then said, “The big day! Finally eh?”
“Yeah. Hey, thanks guys. I don’t think I would still be here if you guys hadn’t helped me out that day.”
Koe shrugged and said, “It was nothing, friend.”
“To hell with that. Damn straight it was something. You owe me, buddy. Big time.” Fal stuck a finger in Vesik’s face.
Vesik was speechless. Had Fal been helping him out just so he could get something out of him?
Vesik’s doubts scattered away when Fal burst into laughter and clapped him on the shoulder many times over then said through his laughter, “Just twistin ‘em bud. We’re all still here so we all graduated.” Fal sucked in a deep breath. “Life is sweet.”
Alitor said maybe his only few words that day, “No doubt.”
Fal shot him a disbelieving look. “Talkative around strangers now? You’re letting your guard down, big guy.” He referred to the dozens of other men dressing and checking their gear around them.
Alitor just shrugged and grinned.
The group conversed for a few minutes before being called out to the mess hall for breakfast. No one talked as they ate their food as if it was going to scamper off the plate if they took too long.
Bors entered the hall and his voice boomed, “Get your asses up and out into the yard!” As one and without hesitation, the men and women were instantly up and moving. Vesik noticed as Bors suddenly began weaving through the throng of moving Sentries. He saw that Bors held his chin high and clenched his jaw, something Vesik had learned meant Bors was on edge.
Against all of Vesik’s silent hopes, Bors walked right up to him, grabbed his shoulder and guided him from the group. Fal, Koe, and Alitor threw Vesik an odd look before turning back around and marching away.
Something was wrong, Vesik knew. This wasn’t going to end well.
“Vesik, they wanted to pass you.” Bors looked straight into Vesik’s eyes and caused the latter to look away. Vesik knew that Bors was privy to terrible fits of anger, usually not directed at Vesik but he’d gotten tastes of it here and there. Bors was certainly a different man than Vesik had first met now that he was comfortable with his assistant. “I can’t let them do that.”
Throughout his weeks of training and from the friendship he’d found, Vesik had developed some confidence in himself. He was able to respond to Bors when normally he’d sit quietly and accept his downfall without qualms. “Bors, what are you talking about? I’m here today. Why would you stop me?”
Anger flashed across Bors face and he growled, “Because you aren’t good for the Watch, Vesik. You pass all the written exams with flying colors. You are conditioned enough to get through the physical training well. But you can’t handle the pressure of this job. What happens when you fail to protect someone? Or you fail to protect yourself even? I heard of what happened in the yard when you just stood there and would’ve been stabbed. That wasn’t even real and you couldn’t help but shit yourself! I won’t let you become a dead body for no reason. This isn’t for you. Go back to college. You’re a much better assistant than you will ever be as a Sentry.”
Vesik felt that cold and hot sweat building. He was sure he was floating like he always felt when he was being demeaned. But now he was able to plant his feet firmly on the ground again, accept the slamming thuds of his heart without becoming mute, and say, “But why would you wait so long to tell me this? I see you every day and you never said anything to me.”
“I thought you’d already been dismissed from the program.” Bors was growing increasingly angry as he spoke. Vesik knew that he wouldn’t get a lot of time with his boss until he snapped and left. His time was even shorter than he had thought it’d be as Bors said, “They didn’t want me to stop you but I know you. They should have tossed you out that very day. I’ve been around you for two months and I know exactly what you’re made of, Vesik. Now you’re going to make me late for the ceremony. Get whatever shit you have left here and get the fuck out before I decide to look for a new assistant. Is that clear?”
Vesik swallowed his anger and said, “Crystal, sir.” He turned and stalked away, back to the barracks that held his few items. He walked the lonely halls and thought of his parents sitting in the stands outside. Surely they’d be troubled when they didn’t see their son, but he couldn’t go to them now. Fires had started beneath Vesik’s skin, boiling his blood and melting his pride. He could kill something right now.
His rage failing, Vesik began to feel as though he’d begin sobbing. And for that, his anger reignited, so intensely that he needed to let it escape him. Without restraint, Vesik opened his mouth wide and screamed.
Three weeks had passed since Vesik was denied his title of Sentry. Since then, his job had become hell. Bors seemed to disdain him for failing to become a Sentry, although he himself was the only reason why Vesik hadn’t made it. He had told his parents what had happened the day after the ceremony. They showed nothing but admiration for their son. They were good parents.
After work, Vesik met up with Fal, Koe, and Alitor for the first time since the ceremony. He had run across Koe yesterday and the plans were set. Vesik no longer bunked with the sentries and had moved out of his parent’s house. He instead had his own small room within the station he worked at. He quickly learned that there were many rooms within the station that were vacant as only single staff of the Watch could live there. Families were not allowed to reside there and those who did, seemed married to their job, not to a wife or husband. Vesik was completely fine with making his job his only focus, although he hated it.
Vesik hadn’t been able to approach any of the guys since that day but now the hurt stung less; he could stomach their pitiful glances.
The group sat down at a table and Fal didn’t even wait until after he had ordered a beer to say, “Vesik, man, where the hell you been? You repay our kindness by dropping out after you graduate or what?”
“I didn’t graduate.” Vesik stared into Fal’s eyes.
“What do you mean? You were there with all of us that day. We thought that maybe Bors prevented you from attending the ceremony because he needed you for something.”
“No. Bors told me to go. That I didn’t cut it as a Sentry.”
Fal said, “Man, that’s some bullshit. So you froze up one time. But you’re still his assistant?”
Vesik nodded but kept his eyes down.
Fal sighed then turned his twinkling eyes towards Alitor. “Hey, Al, there any way this can be a good thing?”
Alitor thought for a moment. “Vesik, do you have access to Bors’ files, stuff like that?”
“Yeah. Bastard’s so lazy I’m surprised he doesn’t have me screwing his wife for him.”
Fal couldn’t contain a giggle and Koe smirked.
Nothing could shake the big guy when he was in thinking mode though. Alitor didn’t even twitch when their mugs arrived. “You could be our information source, Vesik. Anything you think we should know about, don’t hesitate. Details about jobs. Which ones we should push for and which ones to shy away from. Shit like that.”
“As long as I’m not doing anything illegal.”
Fal said, “Of course not, friend. Well, now that we have our mugs before us let’s shut the hell up and get drunk.”
The four raised their mugs at that then drank deep. Vesik drank quicker than the others.
He knew he was dreaming and the realization brought thousands of possibilities to the forefront of his mind. Only for a moment though.
Once his eyes drank in his surroundings, he could do nothing but gawk. Even if he had the control to create his dream in his own image, to sculpt this landscape would be impossible.
Vesik stood on something solid but he could not see it. All around him the ground boiled with thick fluffy clouds. Rocks and spires exploded from the puffy ground in random disarray except for in one place. Directly before him the rocks just barely pierced the veil of clouds and seemed to form the spine of a mountain.
Suddenly a splash of water leapt out of the blanket of clouds then fell back beneath it. As Vesik focused, he noticed many such splashes but oddly enough, the water made no sound.
He now believed that he was on an island but that thought immediately felt false to him. Especially considering the sky that stretched above him for what seemed like an eternity without sporting one single wisp of a cloud. This gave him the inclination to believe that he was standing at a level above the clouds themselves.
The sky before him was a light blue as it would be at noon. But as he tracked the sky upwards he noticed it rapidly darkening. Vesik was not allowed to turn around, something just forbid him from doing so, but at the top of his vision he saw the sky become almost as dark as night and flecked with brilliant stars.
The stars reminded Vesik of shards of metal warring with rays of light cast off from a smoldering sun. Not a sun, moon, or planet showed across the sky though.
Vesik reestablished the notion that he was standing on a mountaintop. But the splashes of water made little sense. He felt a deep pang to plunge his head beneath the clouds and discover what the truth of this landscape was.
As he focused his sight back to directly in front of him he saw a great pillar in the distance. Immediately he was overwhelmed by the presence of the thing and would have fallen to his knees had he been able to. He asked himself why he hadn’t seen it previously but the thought escaped him quickly for it did not matter. All that mattered now was that it was before him.
The monolith was made of stone. The pillar either vanished beneath the clouds or floated on top of them, Vesik could not tell.
The great stone column was so big and stolid that the air around it seemed to be dead, as if it was incapable of supporting life. Nothing moved on or around the monolith.
The pillar was omnipotent, demanding, glorious, godly, and much more. Vesik suddenly felt a want, no a need, to worship the stone column. It was god and he was its servant. He felt pangs to spill blood for it, his own and others, to sacrifice for it, to love it, and to fear it.
This mix of emotion became all too real and Vesik realized that he was not dreaming, that instead, this was a real thing. He felt as though his lips and chin were quivering. Terror seized him and he felt himself no longer breathing.
This world somehow managed to become even quieter than the silence that had dominated it before this moment.
Suddenly, a bolt of light exploded off the top of the monolith. It took a few seconds but surely enough a deep rumbling sound tore through the land and assaulted Vesik. The sound was so loud and so clear that his vision became blurry.
When the noise died away Vesik heard and felt a breath of air escape the throat of something and wash over his neck.
Supernatural fear cloaked him but he felt the freedom to move. He turned.
Vesik was staring at a bookshelf across the hall from him. After several moments he registered the screaming voice of senior officer Bors and a tight grip on his arm.
He gasped then turned his head to look at Bors’ wide mouth spitting a torrent of obscenities in his face, ” …you maggot fucking, worthless shit! Wake up and answer me!”
Vesik was flustered and still gripped by the odd emotions that plagued his soul but managed to stammer, “S …sir? I … am awake.”
Bors took a step back and surveyed the man then growled and slapped him. Sharp pain exploded across Vesik’s face but deep rooted anger exploded within his head. He spun back to the officer with clenched fists and a crazed visage but was able to arrest his rage.
Bors didn’t seem to notice. “I’ve been here for several godsdamn minutes trying to get you up! And don’t think that was the first time I hit you either! What the fuck are you doing sleeping on the job, shithead!?”
Vesik wanted nothing more than to become that monolith. To radiate power and eradicate weakness by his very presence but as hard as he tried and as much as he wanted to, he could not.
“I apologize, sir, it just … I’m not sure how it happened.” Vesik dipped his head. He could only vaguely remember coming to work, as if that part was the dream and the landscape he had just woken up from was reality.
Bors spit on Vesik’s boot, not bothering to wipe the spittle clinging to his lip before saying, “You pull this shit again and I’ll drag you out of here by your hair and make damn sure that you don’t find another job in this entire city. You got that?”
“Good. Don’t expect to be out of here anytime soon today. Oh, and you’re working for free today. Get to work!”
Vesik nodded then sat down and with uneasy hands he began organizing paperwork and looking through journals. Bors entered his office then slammed the door. Vesik knew that next time he saw him, Bors would be drunk.
Anger burned through Vesik like a flame to dry grass. He felt anger that this man thought himself higher than Vesik, Anger that Bors treated him as though he could do nothing right.
Shame collided with the anger at the fact that Vesik could not stand up for himself and that even if he did, he knew that the end result would be very painful.
So he continued on with working for a man he despised, doing a job he scorned. His emotions marinated and waxed stronger with each passing minute.
“I really can’t stand this job, dad. Bors makes me so damn angry sometimes.” Vesik spoke into his mug as he and his father sat on the porch.
Erik looked at his son with surprise apparent in his eyes. He was not used to hearing curse words, especially from his son.
Erik said, “It may be hard now, son, but at this rate your boss is going to succumb to a heart attack soon enough.” Vesik didn’t even smirk because he truly hoped that would come to pass. “Things will get better. Bors will ease up on you eventually. Although it is hard mentally, at least your body is being saved some anguish.”
Vesik knew his father was referring to his own back’s injuries from farming the land.
Vesik sighed. “I know. I’m going to try to pass the training next semester. That’s only four months from now. I just have to hold on until then.”
“That sounds best.” Vesik knew his father and wasn’t surprised when the man left off the touchy subject quickly. “So how about life outside the office? Met any girls yet?” Erik smiled in anticipation.
Vesik did not return the smile. “No. I guess I haven’t really tried looking yet. I met some guys from training. They all graduated. We go out and have a couple of drinks every once in a while. Maybe I’ll talk to one of the girls at the taverns some time.”
Erik grimaced. “Well as long as your mother won’t lose it when you bring her by, then that sounds like a fine idea.” Erik said this for himself also. Vesik could tell his father wanted him to find a wholesome woman and those he might meet in a tavern might not be the most respected.
“Yeah.” Vesik felt a sense of comfort being at home with his family. This was a place where he was respected and didn’t have to worry about others potentially snapping at him. He enjoyed this feeling, wished that he could always feel this way.
That godly pillar pierced the blue sky many miles in the distance. The top shimmered for a moment as if light had just flared from it. An echo of a thunderous boom resounded throughout the valley. Vesik felt the breath of air caress his neck again but this time he did not turn.
He began walking forward, towards the spine of rock that stretched to the monolith. Although he felt himself moving, he wasn’t sure he was actually in his own body when he was in this dream world. He moved onto the spine and with uncanny balance, traversed the narrow way as if it were a flat valley floor.
Vesik risked a glance up and noticed the dark sky and shimmering stars had moved closer to the monolith. He felt as though the night itself was chasing him now. He moved quicker.
A splash of water struck the stone he walked on and a few stray drops landed where he guessed his feet would be. They burned and he almost tumbled off the side of the spine. The sensation of plummeting left him suddenly and he felt a pressure keep him from falling.
When he surveyed the land again, he felt as if the scene was wrong in some awful way. Nothing had visibly changed but he suddenly felt the urge to scream in frustration and fear at his surroundings.
The monolith looked much less inviting. The fear that Vesik had first felt was more akin to respect, but this new fear was borne from how the thing looked extremely imperfect now through his eyes. It was as if he knew some terribly damning secret about the monolith that lent him a reason to hate it. He wanted to take its evil core and wash it clean.
He tried to speak but nothing happened. He then contemplated turning around but recalled the result of that last time. Then he remembered the incident with his boss when he had awoken.
A loud crack sounded from the monolith. Vesik inaudibly gasped and tears immediately swam to his eyes as he looked at the pillar and saw it now jutting into the air at an angle.
A large piece fell from the top and began its slow descent to the ground. Vesik wanted nothing more than to fix his god. He tried to close his eyes but was incapable.
Moments before the chunk of rock reached the end of its fall, a pressure, like that of a friendly hand, fell onto Vesik’s shoulder. Something inhaled as if it was going to speak.
Vesik awoke in his bed and cried out. His breathing was ragged as he searched for the monolith. After several moments he collected himself then swung out of bed and began pacing around his room.
He looked at his bed as though it were a place of disgust and intrigue as his brain worked. He threw back a curtain and judged that he had a few hours before he was to report to Bors. He chewed his nail as he contemplated going back to his dream world.
He banished the idea for he might awake with Bors screaming in his face again. His one-room apartment had one corner occupied by his bed, another by an oak desk with a drawer on either side, and another bore his door. Three new outfits hung in his closet while the clothes he’d taken with him from his parents’ house sat in a chest on the floor. The short, thick blade he’d bought many months ago lay on the side of his bed opposite his door near a small table harboring a thick candle.
Vesik dressed then stepped out into the hallway of the officers building he both lived and worked in. It was too early for breakfast so Vesik made his way to a library across the street from the building.
He was one of the few people there and the only one who actually seemed awake. The others walked around in a dazed stupor, either from not having slept yet or just waking up, Vesik could not tell.
He approached a bookkeeper and asked, “Excuse me, do you have a book that gives descriptions about the gods?”
The woman yawned then gave him directions in a very monotone voice. Vesik thanked her and headed off.
Vesik weaved through a few shelves and finally came upon the bookcase he sought. He grabbed tomes off the shelf and sped to a desk where he flipped through them. There were many gods, each with several names and a rough physical description.
Nowhere did Vesik find any information about a monolith or anything that described the world he stumbled into when he slept. Desperate, he approached the bookkeeper again. He said, “Do you know of any books that have to deal with an enormous monolith? One that might have something to do with some god perhaps?”
“I don’t believe we do. At least I have never heard of any book like that nor a god that has anything to do with a monolith.” A look of intrigue crossed her face. “Why do you ask if you don’t mind?”
Vesik thought it best if he didn’t tell her anything too detailed but his mouth betrayed his thoughts. “I’ve had dreams with a giant stone pillar as the focus of them. I’m just trying to understand what it might be.”
“Oh, well you might have more luck at a temple.”
Vesik departed and head for the closest temple. It was a shrine of Malkor, a very well-known and respected god in Cavia. He had no more luck than at the library.
He cursed and decided that he would only get answers through his dreams. He needed to get to the monolith next time. Suddenly he felt troubled because he remembered a piece of the monolith breaking away from the whole and dreaded the possibility that the entire thing had shattered.
He craved sleep but warded off the obsession and went on about his day.
Sitting behind the desk before Bors’ office, Vesik heard many things about sentry duty. Today he paid careful attention when a senior chief came to Bors’ office. The carefree man left his door ajar and the voices of those arrogant men rang clear in Vesik’s head.
Bors said, “Chief, it’s good to see you. Have a seat. How are you?”
The man had a very gruff voice that escaped through a seemingly constant dry mouth. “I’m good, officer, and … um.” Vesik heard the sound of trickling liquid. “Bors, it’s barely first light, man.”
The pouring ceased and glasses banged together as Bors hastily cleared the alcohol from the table. “Um, yes, of course, sir. Just slipped my mind, how early it is.”
Vesik shook his head and barely contained a giggle.
Bors continued, “So for what reason do I owe the pleasure of your company today?”
Vesik could tell that the man tried not to sound condescending but it was a part of his nature.
The chief did not call any attention to Bors’ small transgression. Bors was known for such behavior. “We all know of the pull problem affecting Cavia. Thus far we’ve only been able to discover the small operations. But now, we have the whole damn thing. We know where they’re at.”
“That’s great news. How’d we figure it out?”
“This is a bit complex so pay attention. A Sentry was caught up sneaking a look at some secured files. He was questioned, and then his answers didn’t check out. We took it a little further and came to find a lot more than we had intended.”
Vesik was suddenly captured by the explanation. He listened a little harder and even leaned towards the open door. He was thankful that either man didn’t have the foresight to shut the door.
The chief continued speaking, “The gang we’re going after, they’re big. They don’t just run a pull operation, they have their hands in a lot of different pots. One of them, is extorting people with bad debts. So, this Sentry we caught, turns out he had racked up a lot of bad debt at the Serpent’s Eye. No logical man would stay the night at that inn unless his debts had been paid. Well, turns out that doing just that gets a man noticed by the gang. They operate the gambling that goes on there. Staying with a large debt is a sign that you mean to cut a deal, and he knew that. So his deal was to get it all wiped out for periodic information about our movements.”
Bors gasped and Vesik half smiled as he could tell it was a fake noise made to appease the chief.
“The gang reaches further than that even, has branches of it all through Cavia and contacts in Durthlem, Arnamos, and Nemere. Anyway, pull is their big thing. So, this is what we’ve come up with. The Sentry who was selling us out, isn’t going to be punished any further if he simply swaps sides. He’s given us the location of the hideout. Black and Moors.”
Bors said, “Where? I know Black Street but not that intersection.”
The chief said, “It’s a real small street, Moors is. And the intersection sits nestled against a bend. It’s easy to walk past. Unless you’re going to that intersection, it’s usually untraveled. And, let’s face it, it’s a shit part of town. Anyone over there won’t care about our protection and would probably take a shot at one of our guys if they thought they could get away. We’re keeping the whole thing quiet for now. But tomorrow, we roll through that place and cut the head off their organization. Sure, some of it will keep going. But we’ll take enough prisoners to give us the information to go after the whole godsdamn thing afterwards.”
Sincere interest dripped from Bors’ voice as he said, “Godsdammit, what a stroke of luck! Well that and someone doing their job right and pinning that fucker who had turned on us. Do they suspect anything coming from us?”
“Not a thing. Fish in a barrel.” The man paused, then, “Well not exactly. I believe that they’re going to do whatever they can to keep from getting locked up. It’s going to be a dangerous mission to say the least. We’re taking a lot of men so I just wanted you to be in the light about events. You’ll be coming with.”
Vesik could just imagine the look plastered on Bors’ face right now and a grin crept across his. “Me? But, sir, we have so many new recruits. Why not throw them the case? Ya know, get them some action in the field.”
“That’s the exact reason why you’re getting called in. I am heading this operation along with a few of my superiors and other chiefs. It seems as though the force will be broken into teams, each led by a senior officer. You’re leading a team in.” The chief’s tone changed to one of a nonchalant nature. “Come now, Bors, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten how to swing a sword.”
“No, of course not, sir. I completely understand the plan and agree with it. Those new guys need an example to follow. This will be a great experience for them.”
“Glad to have you on board, Bors. Well I’ll leave you to your business now, officer. You’ll hear from me soon.”
“Of course and thank you, chief.”
Vesik feigned disinterest as Bors walked the man to his door and bade him farewell. Bors stared at Vesik with anger in his eyes then retreated back into his office.
Vesik could just barely make out the sound of liquor filling a glass.
“Damn good work, friend, damn good.” Fal raised his glass as he slapped Vesik on the shoulder.
Alitor broke character for a moment to say, “Indeed, so we should steer clear of that one, eh?” He looked to Fal who was chugging his beer.
Fal set his mug down and said, “Something like that, yeah.”
Alitor nodded then took a long pull on his ale himself. Koe’s eyebrows perked up.
Koe looked to Vesik then said, “Hey weren’t you saying that you were going to charm one of these fine women one of these days? Well if you don’t do more than just talking, you’ll be on your deathbed with yourself being the only person to have ever touched your dick, man.”
Vesik shot him an odd look as Fal burst into laughter and Alitor pounded the table with his fist. Koe forcefully wiped the smile from his face then said, “I’m just saying that maybe you should stop talking and start doing.” He pointed to the bar.
Vesik glanced over and beheld an attractive woman sitting on a stool seemingly alone. She scanned the doors every few moments.
“Oh. But what should I say to her?”
Fal perked up and quieted his friends by raising his hands. With a smirk on his face he said, “I got it, I got it. Okay, so you have to approach her with a sad look in your eyes. Sit next to her then look into her eyes and say, ‘ya know, someone very close to me died today.’ Then she’ll say something along the lines of, ‘oh goodness, I am so sorry to hear that.’ You glance at the ground then say, ‘yeah, his name was My Dick,’ then look at her, ‘and I was wondering if I could bury him between your legs.'”
The entire group burst into laughter and even Vesik chuckled a bit. He took the situation seriously though for he had been working up the courage to talk to a woman for days now.
Vesik said, “I’m not sure if that will get me the response I want. Ya know what, I’ll just wing it.”
Koe raised his mug and said, “Good luck, buddy. Just charm her. Say whatever it is you think she wants to hear from you. Believe that you’re confident and she’ll believe you are too. Women like that shit.”
“Thanks for some actual advice, Koe.” Vesik shot Fal a deadly look.
Fal shrugged and feigned honesty. “What? I’m just trying to help. It works when I say it.”
Alitor shoved him as Vesik turned around. He heard Alitor say something about how with the right amount of coin any line will work on a whore.
Vesik drowned their voices away as he approached the woman. His heart threatened to carve a hole through his chest and he felt himself beginning to sweat. By the gods, why was this so difficult?
He reached her and almost didn’t speak, but as he sat down he forced the words out, “What’s a pretty girl like you doing sitting by yourself? If you don’t mind, I’d be honored to keep you company.”
Vesik thought to himself, what the hell was that? He was about ready to piss himself ten seconds before but his words made him sound like the most confident and smooth guy in the tavern. He marveled at his success thus far but paid attention to the girl.
She looked at him then back to the bar but a huge smile betrayed the effectiveness of Vesik’s words. She looked back to him as she said, “Um, well I was supposed to meet someone here but it seems as though he might have forgotten about me.”
“I apologize. Maybe I could take his place for tonight. My name is Vesik.”
Her smile grew, “I’m Aeris.”
“A beautiful name. It suits you perfectly. It is a pleasure to meet you, Aeris. Would you like a drink?” Vesik rejoiced inside, but another feeling began to overwhelm him. He couldn’t keep his mind from straying to the monolith and he felt just as powerful as that godly pillar. Dominance flooded throughout his body.
“You’re sweet, Vesik.” She bit her lip and he could tell that she was mulling something over. Finally she said, “But I should give my date some more time. I’m sorry. If he doesn’t show though then I would be more than happy to spend the evening with you. It’s just … well it would be a mess if he walked in and saw me with another guy.”
The dominance faded. He wrestled with several feelings at once and neither one could take precedence. “Of course, Aeris. I wouldn’t want to put you in a situation such as that. I’ll be sitting at that table there. Again, it was great to meet you.”
Her eyes sparkled. “Likewise.”
Vesik departed and felt her eyes on his back like hot daggers. His friends tried to keep straight faces, as if they hadn’t witnessed the interaction but they were like vultures on carrion the entire time the two talked.
When Vesik sat and had taken a drink, Koe said, “Wow, Vesik, you surprised the hell out of me, man. She’s thinkin about you. And hard too. Give it a few.”
Fal said, “Yeah, man, that was good. Hell you almost had me ready to take you up on that offer.” He giggled and the others just stared at him. He got uncomfortable. “I was just messin, ya fuckin idiots.”
Alitor said, “Guess what, Fal, so are we.” The group laughed and Fal made a very obscene gesture with his hand and waved it at the three.
When Vesik quieted, he said, “Man, I surprised myself even. Hell I’ll call that one a win. Just getting my feet wet and I didn’t do half bad. The game’s not even over yet. I still have a chance.”
Fal said, “Yeah well your number better come up quick. We’re not sticking around much longer. Gotta be up bright and early tomorrow.”
Vesik glanced out an open window. The night sky had just chased the sun away roughly half an hour past. “Oh, c’mon guys. You’re sounding like me now.”
Koe said, “A few more minutes then, just because we’re such nice guys.”
Fal pointed at Vesik and said, “Minutes, man, that’s all you get.”
Vesik accepted the offer then went back to his ale. A couple minutes of light banter passed and Vesik noticed that his friends had drained the last of their beer. Vesik silently cursed.
Fal rose and said, “Tough luck, friend. Try again next time, huh? C’mon guys.”
As the men rose and bade their farewells, a gentleman swiftly came through the doors. Vesik felt like stabbing the guy when he saw him head straight for Aeris.
Fal said, “Oh, just in time too.”
Vesik sighed and rose from his chair. He looked over at the two and saw Aeris with a perturbed expression. He said, “Goodnight, Aeris.”
She wiped her troubled look away and smiled at him. Vesik heard the guy whisper something to her low and quick.
The four made their way to the door but were stopped when Aeris’ date called after Vesik, “Hey, next time you come in here, I don’t want you talking to her. You got that?”
Aeris fussed at the man’s aggressiveness. “What’s wrong with you? He’s a nice guy. He backed off when I told him about you.”
Vesik turned and his friends did the same as he said, “Aeris, you probably don’t want me to hurt him so I won’t.” He looked at her date and felt the power that the monolith inspired in him grow. “If I had a woman like that waiting for me somewhere, I’d make sure to be on time. And I’d probably have a bouquet of flowers for her too.”
The man visibly took offense to that but Alitor cut him off, “Why do he get mad at you, friend? Is he bad person?” Alitor said this with a slur and heavy accent.
The guy didn’t take the bait. “You’re lucky you have your friends with you. I’d take you out otherwise.”
Vesik spoke without thinking, just like he had done with Aeris, “Let’s see how lucky you think I am after I beat you.” He looked at the guy but spoke to his friends, “Hey, guys, stay out of this one.”
Never before would Vesik have said something like that. The monolith had infected him with a sense of power and confidence.
The guy thought about it then decided he had to defend what he had said or be made to look like a coward. “Come on then.”
The barkeeper shouted, “Take it outside! You break anything in here then you’re paying for it.”
Aeris pleaded with her date to stand down but he followed Vesik outside. The Bar was located at an intersection and the street that the entrance to the bar was on was narrow. A moderate amount of traffic populated the area so this was going to turn into a show.
Vesik spun and walked backwards as he bade the man forward. As soon as the guy stepped onto the dirt road, Vesik put his fists up. He thought of them as boulders, extensions of the monolith.
The man rushed forward and attempted to tackle Vesik. Vesik spun out of the way and threw a right that missed. He pressed the man and landed a left jab then skipped back a step even before the man tried to counter.
And try he did. After the wild punch disturbed nothing but the air, Vesik sprang forward and landed a right cross that snapped the guy’s head back. He didn’t fall though.
Instead, as Vesik tried another jab, he rushed forward and got close to Vesik. He landed several short punches to Vesik’s midsection which caused him to drop his hands. Before Vesik even realized his folly, he ate a right hook and stumbled backwards.
Vesik barely kept his feet and tried keeping distance between himself and his attacker. As the man came in to finish the fight, Vesik lifted his foot and kicked at the man’s chest. He was still dizzy from the hook though and his foot only clipped the man’s side.
Vesik brought his hands up but the man assailed him with several quick punches that got the job done anyway. Vesik fell to the ground and was saved any further beating when Alitor grabbed the man and threw him to the side. “It’s over.” He said.
Fal and Koe flashed their sentry badges at the onlookers and shouted, “Break it up, we’ll take care of it.” Vesik was hauled away by his friends. He was conscious but his legs were too unsteady to be entrusted with his weight.
Alitor said, “Good try, Vesik. I didn’t think he was going to come back from that right. Not a bad showing.”
Koe added, “Yeah and if you would have landed that front kick, guy would’ve been too busy finding his air to hit you.”
Fal said, “It’s because you’re stuck behind a damn desk all day, man. Gotta get you back into fighting shape. Once you get out onto the streets with the Watch, you’ll tear up any shithead like that.”
Vesik wasn’t bleeding but his jaw was sore from that hook so it pained him to say, “Yeah, thanks guys.” Rage boiled inside him though. He knew that the monolith would crush any threat and he wanted that more than anything now. Vesik craved sleep right now.
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