Sidetracked and Attacked
October 1, 2012
He wasn’t able to beat the storm and it crashed into him like a vengeful girlfriend. Snow swept over the highway in mad arcs and more than once Jack wondered if he’d make it to Saint Paul. The old Ford proved hardy enough however, and he snailed forward, while often passing small vehicles that had buried themselves off the side of the interstate. He would have liked to help them, but his mother was in trouble and with the message already a week old, who knew what might be going on.
Things got no easier when he entered Saint Paul. Jack remained a thousand miles away from having something like a GPS and he had yet to visit his mother since she moved in with his Aunt Faye. Growing frustrated, with little more than a scribbled address to go by, Jack settled on what he often did in such situations and headed into a pub. He tried to justify the detour, by thinking that he might be able to get directions, but in his heart, he knew he needed a drink before seeing his mother.
The storm, appeared to have kept most patrons home, and only a dozen people, lingered around the pool tables and the stained wooden tables. The lights were kept low and the neon lit the area with a milky red glow, giving Jack the feeling that he was entering the internal organs of some giant beast.
Only two old timers sat on the patron side of the bar, so he headed that way. The bartender, was an older man, as skinny as his patrons were overweight. His well groomed mustache made him look more like a barber than a bartender. Jack gave him a nod and collapsed on the barstool with a sigh.
“The best ale you got,” Jack said quickly.
A coaster when under the bottle of Full Sail before it hit the counter. “You want to start a tab? I’m going to need-”
“Let me tell you what I need,” Jack said and then placed a twenty on the table. “I’m not from around here, but I need to find this apartment. If you can help me get directions, the rest of this can be your tip.”
The bartender looked at the scrap of paper that held his mother’s address. “Street doesn’t ring a bell. It must be way up on the north side though, I can tell you that.”
“Can your ogle map something for me or whatever those kids do these days?”
He chuckled, “I usually don’t do shit like that.”
Jack slammed his empty beer on the bar. “How about I get another beer and give you another twenty?”
The bartender grumbled. “I guess I can try to get that old piece-O-shit printer of mine to work.” Then without taking his eyes off the address, he excused himself into the back room.
“Is our little Stalwart lost?”
Jack whipped his head around to see that two men had left their pool game to confront him. They each wore dark red leather jackets, which had to be a bad sign. Both were tall, if unkempt men, who appeared to have prepared for the winter by putting on as much weight as possible.
“Yeah,” the second one said. “You’d think that a little Yiggling like this would know better that to head north where he could freeze his tail off.”
Jack sent out his Detect Darken ability, while the first man rambled on something about inviting Jack to a private party. Damn, they’re from the Temple of Pain. I need to watch myself, he thought, but the men had already begun their attack.
Unfathomable pain washed over him. The pair grinned as his legs threatened to buckle. Jack knew if he fell to the floor, he might never get up. Every vein and muscles seemed to be getting torn apart, Bones turned to fire. Jack gasped out and stumbled a step backwards. He tried to pull some air into his lungs while he used the bar for support.
“Our friend’s a little wasted.” The one with the goatee was saying. “We’d better get him home.”
The second one with the darker hair, rushed in. “Yeah real wasted!” he yelled, right before he brought the cue stick down over Jack’s head like an executioner’s axe.
Jack tried to fight the black stars that obscured his vision, but between the blow and the overload of their pain Bestow, unconsciousness claimed him.