Sunday, July 31, 2016

I woke up face-down in the sand and rock.

Spring, 1963
Dead Man Peak, New Mexico

I woke up face-down in the sand and rock.

A voice sounded from somewhere over me. "Hey..uh...mister. You alright?"

I think I grunted. I was not entirely sure.

Tentative, the voice came again. "Mister?"

I felt a hand on my shoulder. A hand that slowly, gently turned me over.

I screamed at the intense pain that flared through my entire body and at the scorching arrows of fire that stabbed into my eyes.

"Dear Father in Heaven!" The voice was not tentative this time, it was outright scared. "What in God's Name are you?"

From scared to inquisitive in a heartbeat.

I groaned, unable to speak because of the pain, and the parched throat, and the cracked lips.

"Here, let me get you some water."

As best I could, I nodded. The simple motion made it feel like the skin on the back of my bald scalp and neck was ripping apart. I whimpered, and tried not to nod anymore.

"Who are you?" asked the voice again, this time concerned.

That was something that I did know, at least. As a matter of fact, it was only one of a few things of which I was consiciously aware. I cast around in my brain for what I was called, like a tongue feeling around in a mouth for a lost tooth. "Tenet," I managed to gasp.

I felt the voice nod, because the owner of the voice was over me, with one hand on the back of my head, gently raising me up so I could sip some water. "Good to meet My name id Aelred. Aelred Wall. Here...drink."

I drank. It was deliriously delicious. Then, darkness.


I awoke sometime later in cool darkness. It was glorious. I think it might have been the best thing I'd ever felt, in fact. Even though my entire body was wracked with a searing, tingling fire, I managed to crack open a single eyelid and take a brief look around. I was in some sort of high-ceilinged structure that was made of stone. It was all narrow pillars, shadowed, dusty walls, and eye-pleasing arches. It reminded me of ancient Spanish missions, and had a wide, covered, open-air porch beyond the main area where I was seated. Outside, it was night in the desert and the sky was alive with stars.

I realized that apparently, Spanish missions were something that I recalled as well, in addition to my name.

I saw a small, Mexican man behind a bar take notice of me, wipe his hands on a rag, pick up a glass of water, and then head in my general direction. Exhausted from my visual tour of the place, I closed my eye and settled in for him to visit me. I heard him approach and asked, "Aelred?"

The man's musical voice drifted up and down as he replied. I knew immediately that this was not the same person who helped me earlier. "Nah. He left ya here. He said something about needin' to go start a monastery or somethin'. I think you scared him halfta death. Put the fear'o'God inta him. You can call me Chuy."

Something made me raise a brow at the name, but I could not remember why. "How long have I been here, Chuy?" I asked, noticing that my throat was no longer as raw as it had been. Despite the dull agony, I opened my eyes and watched him.

The small man opened his mouth to reply, but all that came out was the sound of chopping, growling, thunder. Or, more accurately, the sounds of several massive motorcycles pulling up outside devoured his words completely. Chuy seeing a host of thirsty new customers, left me sitting and departed to see to them, leaving the glass of water in his wake.

I reached for the water and behind the transparent glass, saw the image of one of the bikers as he strode into the porch area. Something about the way the big, black-skinned, leather-vested, cigar-smoking man moved--like he was intently aware of the physical space around him--twigged something in my foggy, vacant brain. It was unexplainably odd, seeing him step up into the covered porch and noticing the slight spasm in his shoulders and neck, or watching him move through the tables, his eyes constantly scanning the area in a eight foot radius from him.

Almost as if he was much bigger than he really was.

Then, I saw him. I really saw him. He was much more than a man. He was massive: at least nine-and-a-half feet tall and probably six hundred pounds of pure muscle. Tattoos that burned with a subtle fire all their own covered every inch of his taunt skin and a single, red eye--the only one he had--rested in the center of his vaguely conical cranium.

A Greek word came to me, unbidden: Kuklōps.

A cyclops...

I rose from my chair and step-staggered out onto the open-air porch. The creature, who still looked like a man--albeit a very large, very well muscled, and obviously tough man--to everyone else there, turned and faced me as I entered. An ugly grimace crawled across his features and in his true cyclops form, I could see the single red eye flare with power. The night sky around his head literally rippled with the strange forces emanating from the eye.

The man growled and the members of his gang reached for their various stashed weapons.

All I could do was speak a one word question, "Ace?"

Art Source: "Punk" (c)/by Gimaldinov
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth, #Tenet, #TenetsTales, #Ace, #Cyclops, #NewMexicointheSixties


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