[Author’s Note: This is my first post in what was to become my Apocalyptically Doomed Beer Adventurer series. Indeed, it’s the first time I tried to write anything for the blog that had an actual story behind it. Once I finished it however, I realized I had to continue and write an on going story for all of the Elysian Apocalypse beers. You can find the full list of Doctor Hunter’s adventures here.]
[When we last left our Apocalyptically doomed beer adventurer, he had successfully found and opened the fourth seal, Peste. But now, he found himself in an entirely different predicament.]
“Do you know, why, we’ve brought you in Doctor Hunter?” the man in the black suit asked as, judging from the amount of ashes in the ashtray in front of him, he extinguished what was easily his sixth Morley cigarette.
“Because I was slow with my right?” I half asked as I looked over the man’s shoulder to the goon standing behind him. The bruising and swelling on the side of his face had gotten worse since the last time I’d seen him 30
minutes ago. A properly placed punch to the side of the jaw, even the large shovel-like one that the goon was sporting, will efficiently snap it around taking the head with it. He might not go down with the first one, but he’d be less able to defend himself for the second. I, unfortunately, had reacted too slowly, a by-product of my recent injuries, and my first punch landed a couple of inches off its mark.
“No,” the man continued, not looking up from the papers that were spread out in front of him. “You are here, because someone has beat you to the fifth seal.” The man stopped as if waiting for me to comment on this information and realizing that, after a moment of silence from me, none was coming, he continued. “When my superiors acquired your services,” he finally looked up, “we were assured we’d gotten the best.”
I hated this guy already. I didn’t know which was more offensive, the smell of stale cigarettes, or the stench of government agency bravado he was trying to give off. “Tell your bosses that I’m sorry if a two week stay in a Guatemalan hospital throw me off my schedule a bit.” I made sure the sarcasm was very apparent.
“I will tell my superiors that you thank them for making sure that you got the best medical treatment possible while being treated in what I’m sure was a less than modern medical facility,” the man said lighting another cigarette. “But be assured, as infinite as their generosity can sometimes be, their patience never is, and they are not happy with the current situation.”
“And what is the current situation?” I asked, making sure to put a little inflection on the ‘is’.
“An amateur has stumbled upon the fifth seal while following some clues he got from materials he obtained from the National Museum archives. Apparently an archeologist made note of some RUINs many years ago while he was searching for a gold statue somewhere in the jungles of Peru. Apparently this amateur was able to acquire his notes and make use of them.”
“How did this amateur find out about the seals?”
“From what we’ve been able to ascertain, he didn’t. Apparently his focus was to rediscover the location of the ruins, unaware of what they contained,” he said as he pushed a stack of papers across the desk at me. “The amateur’s notes.”
“And how exactly did you come to possess them?”
“This man was making journal entries on a PDA and then up loading them to a server that he believed to be secure,” he said. “It was not.”
I snatched the papers from the desk and began to leaf through them. Seemed legit. The entries started with mentions of trying to find lost ruins described in some notes made by a Doctor Jones. I started to scan through the words on the page quickly until I came upon an entry dated seven days ago.
Just as I was starting to believe I had been sent on a fools errand, I spotted something amongst the vegetation. I now find myself standing outside the crumbled structure that very much matches the description of temple ruins I am searching for.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. This kid is close to making one of the most important zymological finds in recent history and he’s uploading pictures to his “blog” using…instagram? God, I weep for the future of archeology. I scanned through the next couple of paragraphs with interest as they described his entry into the ruins, as well as his efforts to pry the top off of an altar that was located in the center of it.
After what seemed like an hour of a combination of pushing and attempting to move the top of the altar with anything I could find to use as crowbar, the block finally was shifted enough for me to reach inside and extract its contents – an ornate box. The box is old and made from a wood I don’t recognize, and covered with figures that looked more Native American than Mexican. Mayan, or some other indigenous culture perhaps?
But it was the next entry that really caught my attention.
The box contained a bottle! Made of some material that definitely isn’t every day glass. The way light reflects off of it is almost hypnotic. And its cold! Cold as if I had just pulled it from a refrigerator. I can’t wait to see what’s in it.
No, I thought as I scanned down further. Tell me he didn’t open it. But my fears proved to be justified with the next entry.
The liquid was cloudy with slight carbonation which brought a slight hint of malt and herbatiousness to my nose. The slightest hint of lemon danced on the edge of my perception. I drank greedily, allowing the cold refreshing liquid to wash 12 days of humid jungle from my mouth. Everything in my mind seemed to also wash way, allowing me to focus on only the liquid as I felt its rejuvenating effects course through his body.
Rosemary. Definitely rosemary with more malt and hints of citrus. And something else, something I wouldn’t have been able to identify before I started my journey. I am sure of the name of the plant, but thanks to the few times I had found a clump of it in and drank from its sweet, succulent leaves I now know the flavor all to well. Dang, this is good stuff! I only wish there was more than one bottle in the box.
Agave? Was that the plant he meant? I let my mind wonder a bit as I imagined the collection of flavors and smells he described. That must have been amazing. But then my focus shifted back to the next entry.
It’s been an hour since I drank the contents of the bottle and the flavors of the liquid it contained are starting to fade from my mind. I can now barely remember what it tasted like, even as I read back the entry I just uploaded, let alone why I opened the bottle and drank it in the first place. But while I’ve been examining the ruins I’ve come across a most interesting discovery. I’m not sure the significance of it but it seems to have been left here with a purpose. And to think I’ve been standing on it all this time.
And the entries stopped. I turned the pages in haste, hoping I’d missed something on the back of one of them, but it was indeed the last paragraph.
“Where are the rest?”
“I’m afraid that was the last entry. He never had time to upload another.”
“Then I need to find him and talk to him. There were supposed to be clues left at each seal location to aid in finding the next one. He obviously found something of interest, on the floor perhaps.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible, Doctor Hunter. The memory lapse he mentioned in the last entry? I’m afraid it was far worse by the time we got to him.”
I sighed deeply, “Does he remember anything?”
“Nothing I’m afraid,” smoking man said, the information causing me to spring out of my chair as a gesture of frustration. “But my superiors wanted to make sure that you were given these,” he tossed a large, thick envelope towards me. “And this.” The sharp clank of glass hitting the table rang out. I turned to see a familiar sight, a bottle, made of an unusual quartz like material. I’d seen four others styled just like it recently. “You’re to restart your quest immediately with the next seal”, he waved his hand in a dismissive fashion in the direction of the door to my left. “Outside of that door you’ll find two men who are instructed to take you where ever you need to go.”
The man sat back firmly in the chair in a way that indicated to me that our conversation was over, and that there was no sense in trying to continue it. I pondered my next move as I walked toward the door, absentmindedly slipping the bottle into my satchel.
Apparently the smoking man’s curiosity out weighed his desire to see me on my way as he asked one final question before I got to the door. “Why haven’t you suffered a similar memory lapse from any of the previous seals?”
“I don’t know,” I said as I continued towards the door. “I don’t know,” I repeated softly as tore open the flap of the envelope. Obviously I had to get to these ruins and examine the floor. I attempted to connect the dots between where I was and where I needed to be when the contents of the envelope stopped me in my tracks. It contained photos, but not just any photos, high res photos that under normal circumstances would have probably taken me several minutes to realize that they were of a floor if the person who had taken them had bothered to make sure his feet weren’t in the pictures. “Idiots” , I murmured.
Sliding the photos back into the envelope, I paused at the door. “Oh, and give your bosses a message for me,” I said not bothering to wait for a reply before I continued. “The next time you want me to come in, send a telegram. I promise I won’t miss that jaw a second time.”
I didn’t even turn to see the look on the goon’s face before I walked out of the room.
TO BE CONTINUED…..