[When we last encountered our Apocalyptically Doomed Beer Adventurer, he learned who he was working for and fell victim to some kind of device. Now the story concludes. It’s been fun writing these. Cheers!!]
I take a sip of my beer as I glance around the bar enjoying the ice cold, tasteless liquid that numbs my taste buds as it flows over my tongue. Like every Friday afternoon, there’s only a small crowd of people here. Like every Friday, happy hour started at three. And like every Friday, I don’t really know why I’m here.
I feel like I’ve been coming here for years, a natural feeling conclusion to my boring 9-5 work week at the local beer distributor. Don’t get me wrong the bar isn’t a bad place, the bartender Jerry treats me well, my favorite beer is always on special when I arrive, and most of the customers seem content to keep to themselves. It’s the perfect bar. Well almost perfect.
The bar does have a few taps that cater to the annoying “craft beer” crowd. Those self-important snobs that feel the need to make fun of people like me who enjoy the cold crispness of a finely crafted American mass market beer. The worst is the guy who comes in and always seems to manage to sit next to me and drink some beer called Arrogant Bastard. Yeah, that’s the sad mentality of that crowd, always being taken in by some stupid name or hype. I’ve never understood it, even from my seat next to him the beer smells horrible.
My thoughts are broken when a guy sits on the bar stool next to me. He flashes me a smile as if I cared that he was sitting next to me before he makes eye contact with the bartender, “Hey Jerry! I hear you got the new Dogfish Head Mayan on draft.”
“Sure do,” Jerry returned as he grabs a mug from the shelf and took a few steps towards the other end of the bar before he turns toward me almost as it was an after thought. “New beer from Dogfish Head, Micheal. Want to try it?”
“No thanks Jerry, you know I can’t stand that craft beer crap,” I say almost out of reflex. Jerry nods with a weird smile on his face as he turns and walks down to the other end of the bar. I never understood why Jerry continued to insist that I try the latest craft beer garbage that came into the bar. But what seemed even more confusing was the almost robotic response I’d give every time . Almost as if it had been programmed.
But that’s not the only thing that had struck me as odd lately. There was the recent fiasco at the doctor’s office. I finally broke down and went to see someone about the pain in my side. Most days it didn’t bother me, but some days if I twisted the wrong way, or bumped into something, the pain made it almost impossible to breath properly. After a battery of tests, my doctor strolled into the examining room and declared that the pain was a common side effect from having broken my ribs.
“I’ve never broken my ribs,” I stated matter-of-factly, pretty damn sure that it was something that a person would remember doing.
“Well these X-rays state otherwise. Semi-clean breaks in 7, 8 and 9 on your right side. But by the looks of the malunion and callous formations I’d say you never allowed them to heal properly.” What proceeded was a twenty minute argument on how his X-ray department had obviously screwed up.
And then there was the dream. Persistent, relentless scenes of a bottle hidden inside a box, an odd tasting liquid, a chase, someone yelling. Every night I’d have the dream and the dream was always the same.
I lightly shook my head to dispel the visions that haunted me on so many nights when a female voice startled me, ” Would you like to try a shot?”
I turned to see a woman standing behind me with a tray containing a collection of small, plastic glasses. While she had a great smile with a very pleasing figure and dark hair that was pulled back behind her head in a ponytail, there was just one thing that struck me odd. “Aren’t you a little old to be a shot girl, dear?”
The instant look of anger or irritation that crossed her face was unmistakeable. I don’t know why but for some reason a wave of regret swept over me, and although I wasn’t normally a shot guy,” Sorry, so what do we have here?”
“Something new to our wholesalers,” she said still eying me with a look of annoyance. “We call it the Fall shot.”
I picked up one of the plastic cups and, praying that it didn’t taste like shit, tossed the liquid down. Obviously my prayers weren’t answered, the shot tasted as if someone combined a bunch of random liquors in the glass. And then there was this odd warm feeling that seem to begin to course through my body almost immediately after the liquid hit my stomach. I didn’t know why it was happening but I sure wasn’t enjoying it.
And then it hit. A jolt of electricity that felt like fire snaking through my brain. I remember screaming out loud as I dropped the shot glass, and sprang from the bar stool causing it to go crashing to the floor.
Before I could react, the shot girl forced another cup up to my lips in an attempt to force a second shot down my throat, “Why yes sir, you can definitely try another.” In reflex I try to push the woman away from me as my brain overloaded, half of it trying to make sense of the pain that is assaulting it and the other half trying to keep me from choking to death on the pie crust tasting liquid. Pie Crust?
I have little time to wonder where that taste in my mouth came from when I was struck by another jolt of pain causing my body to go crashing to the floor. I looked up from my prone position to see Jerry emerging from behind the bar with a look of infuriating on his face, obviously yelling something that I can’t process. I’m relieved that help from this crazy woman is coming when she leans over and grabs me tightly on both sides of my mouth with her hand and squeezes hard. “Come on, Hunter, I know you’re in there!”
The taste of pie spices, especially cinnamon are unmistakeable as another dose of the liquid enters my mouth. Suddenly she’s pulled off of me, as once again my brain explodes but not with pain this time, but with visions and sensations. Strange symbols drawn in what looks like sand, a waterfall, floating in calm pool, the sound of gunfire, light glistening from a glass bottle, the smell of cigarettes, a mosaic of stone faces, swinging through the air, the face of a man with a crooked smile. And then suddenly, clarity.
I struggled to my feet using the bar to pull myself up and look around the room. The sight in front of me would have been comical if not for the destruction, the shot girl and the bartender were engaged in a fierce battle, flipping over tables and scattering what little customers were in the place either to the sides of the bar, or out the door. I felt the need to step in, although at the moment it appeared that Lara was holding her own. Lara? I knew this woman! But more importantly I knew the man she was struggling with.
I reached over and grabbed a mug sitting on the bar, and in one fluid motion I raised the glass to my lips and eagerly drank the liquid it contained as if I were a man stranded in the desert being given his first drink of water. The familiar taste of Arrogant Bastard flowed into my mouth and down my throat, quenching a taste that felt like it hadn’t been sated in years.
I slammed the mug down on the bar and looked at the man standing next to me who, with everything going on, could do no more than cast me a bewildered look. “Thanks,” I said giving him a nod as I pushed myself off the bar in the direction of the fight that was raging across the room.
Jerry and Lara had totally demolished a good section of the dinning area with their fight and were struggling in the corner. While Lara had been holding her own for awhile, Jerry’s strength seemed to finally win out as he was hovering over her as she lay on the floor.. As I crossed the bar room he grabbed her by the shirt and pulled her limp body up from the floor. With a horrible thud he slammed her against the wall and pulled his arm back ready to deliver what I’m sure he thought would be a knock out blow. “You should have minded your own business, bitch.”
I got there a split second sooner. I reached over his right shoulder with one hand and grabbing his jacket, spin him quickly around and give him everything I have with the other. He went down as if he had been shot, not totally sprawling out on the floor because I still had a hold of his jacket with my one hand. I sighed deeply, looking into Lara’s eyes and allowing the satisfaction of that punch sink in until I finally released Jerry’s shirt, allowing him to finally slump fully onto the floor.
“I told you I wouldn’t miss that jaw a second time,” I said as I gave his torso a self gratifying kick with my left foot. I looked at the woman leaning against the wall who looked like she’d been through hell and with as much whimsy as I could muster I spread my arms, “Lara!”
“Hunter,” she said with a sly grin as she stepped over Jerry. Suddenly I felt a hot sting on my chin that would have assuredly dropped me to the floor if I had not fell back against the only table that remained upright in the room. “What the hell was that for!”
“I told you I’d deck you if you ever called me ‘dear‘ again.”
I worked my jaw with my hand making sure it was still properly aligned, “Oh yeah. The meeting in the cave. Well I forgot. After all that was like, what, 7 months ago?”
“Hunter,” her face turned grim. “That was 4 years ago.”
I looked at her like someone looks at a person who speaks to them in a foreign language. Four years? I tried to process what Lara had just told me. Apparently Sam had done a damn good job wiping my memory some how and dumping me in another life. And apparently, I was lucky that Lara never gave up the search for me. “But how did you……?
“When you disappeared it was like you fell off the face of the planet. Nobody seemed to know anything. Remembering our conversation I feared the worst. But I never gave up. I kept looking, using any means I could. Finally, a couple of weeks ago I saw you sitting at this bar in the background of some girl’s photo on Instagram.”
I couldn’t resist an internal chuckle. Guess I can’t dump on that social medium anymore.
“I approached you awhile back, but you didn’t seem to recognize me. Hell, you didn’t even seem to know who you were. I took a chance. The shot glasses were full of the remaining liquid we shared in the cave that day. I was hoping it could restore the mind as well as the body.”
Apparently Lara’s hopes were valid, the ninth seal’s restorative properties must have counteracted whatever had been done to my mind. “But what the hell were you thinking?” I stepped up to her. “Why didn’t you bring someone to help you out? Flynn, River… JUNIOR!”
“Jun….Jones, Henry Jones,” I said as I looked around the bar wondering how long we could have this conversation before someone would show up and ask a bunch of questions we didn’t want to answer.
“Michael,” her voice went soft with sadness. Lara rarely called me by my first name. “Jones is dead.”
The news sucked the air out of me more than any of my recent, or apparently not so recent, blows to my ribs.
“He’d heard I’d been looking for you. That I never gave up. He emailed me a month before he died asking for me to come and visit him.”
“What did he want,” I said out of reflex, the news still not totally sinking in.
“He told me that if I ever found you I was to give you this,” Lara leaned over and picked up a side bag off the floor. Reaching in, she pulled out an object that at first I didn’t recognize but once out in the open it started to unfold in to a recognizable shape, a fedora, looking a little worse for wear.
I reached out for the hat, the memories of the time we spent walking out of the Peruvian jungle flooding back like so many other memories released by the ninth seal.
“He told me to tell you something,” she said glancing down at the floor as if she wasn’t sure she should tell me.
“What was that?” I replied, rolling the hat around in my hands.
“He said, You may have lost this time Sonny, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.”
I let the words sink in as I flipped the fedora onto my head marveling at how well it fit. “I just have one question.”
I raised my face up from under the brim and looked purposefully into Lara in the eyes, “Where is Calagione?”
Doctor Michael Hunter ………………………………………………………Himself
Doctor Lyle Campbell…………………………………………………………Himself
Sam Calagione ………………………………………………………………….Himself
Ramon Carrasco (Man at Kabah)……………………………………………..Himself
The Follow Characters appear courtesy of:
The Smoking Man………The X-Files; Chris Carter, 20th Century Fox Productions
The Goon/Jerry…………………………….”The Jaw”, Tango and Cash, Warner Bros.
The Men in Black…….Malibu Comics, Lowell Cunningham, and Sandy Carruthers
Professor Robert Langdon…Angels and Demons, Etc; Dan Brown, Pocket Books
Lara Croft………………………………..Tomb Raider, Eidos Interactive, Square Enix
Henry Jones Junior……Raiders of the Lost Arc, etc; George Lucs, Lucasfilm Ltd
Story by Ed Morgan
Directed by Ed Morgan
Director of Photography, Gryffon
Musical Score, Gryffon (ah we didn’t have any music.)
Sound Editor, Gryffon (we didn’t have any sound either.)
Set designer, Gryffon (What sets?)
Visual Effects, Gryffon (Really, what are you doing?)
Gaffer, Gryffon (please, you don’t even know what that is.)
Key Grip, Gryffon (or that either.)
Snake Wrangler, Gryffon (Ok, now you’re just being stupid!)
Titles and Credits, Gryffon (yeah I think they could figure that out!)
All locations and references to Mayan culture and Gods are real. Certain liberates have been taken with actual details surrounding some locations to better fit the story.
The Apocalyptically Doomed Beer Adventurer Series was made possible by the kind people at Elysian Brewing.
This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to people actually living or dead is purely in jest. As far as the author knows, Sam Calagione has never kidnapped and drugged an archeologist to get a recipe for one of his Ancient Ale beers. As far as he knows.
Wait? When did you become co-producer?
THE APOCALYPTICALLY DOOMED BEER HUNTER SERIES
[Happy Hour K-9 Productions, MMXIII]
But Michael Hunter will return, on Her Majesty’s Secret Service
I walked into my house, tired and sore. My ribs feeling like shit. I just want to crawl into bed. “Jarvis, lights.”
“Welcome homme, sirrrrr,” the voice slurred in a way I’d never heard before. But before I could ponder why my home security system was acting up and why the lights hadn’t come on as they’d had a hundred times before, I caught a shadow standing in the dark across the room.
“”Where is Calagione?” You think you’re the only Zymological Archeologist in the world? Doctor Hunter, you’ve just become a part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.”
“Who the hell are you?” I asked, getting really pissed that my life had seemed to turn into a revolving door of bizzaro people.
“Nick Furry, director of S.I.G.N.E.T.,” the man said as he stepped out of the shadows. If it wasn’t for the eye patch, he could have passed as a mixture of one of the Jedi masters from the second Star Wars trilogy and that hit man from Pulp Fiction.
“AH,” I said, deciding to be polite and pretend like I knew what that was.
“I’m here to talk to you about the Beer Hunter initiative.”