As usual, here is your warning that this story has cursing, sex (not graphic), innuendo, and violence. It’s my Rated-R action adventure called Derailing Bedlam. This is the fourth outing (third official) for Cassidy and Lloyd, so feel free to click on one of the two covers to see how it started. Each one is 99 cents!
A ring of stones has been set up behind a museum, which has been turned into one of the Norwegian schools. Citizens with nothing better to do have gathered in the bleacher stands, the factions mixing instead of paying attention to the designation banners. Children sit in the front row with axes in their hands and headdresses that repeatedly fall over their eyes. A single teacher is in charge of the unruly students, who are easily appeased with juice boxes and handfuls of homemade candies. Ragnar and Hatshepsut get a mild round of applause when they appear on the rooftop with their beach chairs and a cooler of drinks. In contrast, Katie and Tyler are ignored by most of the populace, the exception being an old woman who repeatedly scowls in their direction. Taking their seats next to the faction leaders, they stare down at the simple arena where Erik is stretching and showing off his muscles in the middle. On the far side is Lloyd, the serial killer having turned his back to the crowd in order to pee in a bush.
“Are you sure you can beat him?” Cassidy asks as she approaches. When he is about to face her, she grabs his shoulders and forces him to continue looking ahead. “I don’t need to see any of that. Look, I know better than anyone that you’re a talented killer, but this feels different. You don’t have any weapons and you can’t sneak up on him. This challenge doesn’t play to your strengths.”
“Can’t forget the hand sanitizer,” Lloyd says while pulling a bottle from his pocket. After cleaning up, he pops a pill and shudders at how it tastes worse than the last one. “Need to take these more often or people will forget I’m on them. Don’t worry about me, kid. I’m the man who killed a Half-Dead with his bare hands. There’s nobody I can’t kill. Uh, this fight is to the death, right?”
“Not sure, but accidents happen,” the mercenary casually replies. Watching Erik, she gets the feeling that he is not taking the challenge seriously, which makes her feel better about her partner’s chances. “This is where I’m supposed to give you some sage advice, right? Frankly, I think you’re fucked, but you wanted this fight. I’m surprised Katie and Tyler went along with goading him into it. Okay, I do have one suggestion. If you see his fist coming at you, get out of the way. Getting punched hurts like Hell.”
“I knew I should have made friends with a tiny old guy in a Navy watch cap.”
“Oh, and remember to hit back.”
“Just for that, I want a Viking funeral and I’m taking your stuff with me.”
“What if I just set you on fire now?”
“Hmmm, flaming bear hug might be a way to finish this quickly.”
“Looks like he’s starting his speech.”
“Then I better move fast.”
Erik raises his hands for silence and begins to speak, “People of Alexandria! As your honored may-”
The mayor’s prepared speech is cut off when Lloyd tackles the larger man from the side and knocks him out of the ring of stones. Holding up his fists and jumping around, the serial killer acts like he has already won while his opponent scrambles back into the circle. Red-faced and breathing heavy, Erik charges with his arms stretching for the lanky man’s throat. Lloyd stomps with one foot and goes into a wide stance that reminds everyone of a sumo wrestler. Fist clenched in front of him, he appears ready to meet the attack even though his opponent outweighs him by at least one hundred pounds of muscle. With a sudden wave, the serial killer falls backwards and lands on his back while the mayor’s grab sails over him. Erik is unable to stop his momentum, which carries him into kicks to both of his knees. Stumbling and in pain, he is hit by a quick punch to the groin, but ends up collapsing on top of Lloyd.
“Your breath stinks. This might help,” the serial killer says before putting the hand sanitizer bottle in the other man’s mouth. He squeezes the container to send most if it into Erik’s throat and scrambles away to avoid getting puked on. “It really sucks getting hit in the balls. Throws your entire system off, huh? Come on, I didn’t hit you that hard. Like my high school Italian teacher used to say, walk it off, buddy.”
“I’m going to tear off your arms and beat you with them,” Erik snarls as he stands. Spitting out the rest of the hand sanitizer, he bends over and does his best to fight through the pain. “This fight was going to continue until one of us gave up. Now, I’m proclaiming that this is a fight to the death. I hope you’ve made your peace with whichever god you follow.”
Lloyd ducks under a wild swing and dances away, his mind focused more on his mouth than his fists. “While in jail, I sent a fan letter to an actor who played God, so does that count? By the way, I was already acting like this match is to the death. Good of you to finally catch up and take this me seriously. I mean, what would be the point of all the blood and sweat if both of us walk away? Only pillow fights should be non-lethal! Even then, accidents happen.”
With a roar, Erik lunges for Lloyd’s left arm, but pivots and tackles him when he dodges the fake attack. Still holding onto the serial killer, he gets to his feet and shakes the slender man to stop him from getting his bearings. He grips his elbows until his knuckles are white and puts as much pressure on his opponent’s back as possible. Whenever Lloyd attempts to escape, Erik spins in a circle to make him dizzy. He can feel vertebrae pop beneath his bear hug and knows it is only a matter of time before he breaks his opponent’s back. A sudden pain in his wrists and the sensation of dripping blood causes the mayor to hurl the serial killer away. He stares at two jagged-edged cuts, which are not as life-threatening he had feared. Erik scowls at Lloyd, who mockingly wiggles his blood-covered thumbs and dances in a circle.
Neither combatant dares to make the next move, which causes the growing audience to boo and taunt. Most of the insults are aimed at Erik, the locals reminding him that he has always claimed to rule by strength and force. It is when the kids begin singing a song about cowardice that the mayor loses his temper. Rushing Lloyd, he delivers a punch to the face and is surprised it makes contact. As the serial killer stumbles back, Erik lands a body blow and knocks the man down with a clothesline. The sight of his enemy spitting up a little blood makes him grin, so he parades around before sprinting back. Lloyd narrowly dodges the running tackle, but is laid out by an unexpected uppercut that launches him backwards. Something about the strike causes Erik to stop and stare at his fist, which is dripping with his enemy’s blood. One look at the other man’s split lip makes him ignore his instincts, which are screaming that the fight is taking a strange turn.
“I know I should be careful, but I have nothing to fear from you,” Erik hisses as he grabs Lloyd by the head. He grunts when kicked in the stomach, the half-hearted blow nothing more than a desperate escape attempt. “Wish you put on more of a show, but what could I expect from a miserable wretch like you? I’m going to feed your carcass to the dogs.”
“Just two things that I need to tell you,” Lloyd whispers while he is pulled into another bear hug. Thanks to the sweat on their bodies, he slips one hand free and weakly bops the mayor on the forehead. “First, I’m glad to get beaten up a little. Means my girlfriend is going to pamper me for a bit and she has this sexy nurse outfit that drives me wild. Second, I’m going to give your tonsils a Viking funeral. If they’re already out then that dangling thing that I can’t say without giggling like a teenager. Always get uvula and vulva mixed up, which doesn’t say much about me in the sack. Anyway, did you know that hand sanitizer is flammable?”
Focused on Lloyd’s face, Erik does not realize the man is holding a lighter until he hears it click next to his ear. Instead of releasing his hold, the mayor tightens his grip and yells for an extra rush of adrenaline. The roar turns into a freakish howl of agony when the flame hits his tongue and ripples down his coated throat. His lips are encased in flames, which singe his nose and threaten to ignite his beard. Dropping Lloyd, Erik puts a hand over his mouth and tries to run for the nearest source of water. He is pounced on and knocked to the ground where the serial killer punches him in the stomach. The blow causes the muscular man to exhale and he instinctively sucks in another gulp of air, which makes the burning in his body worse. Within minutes, Erik can no longer breathe and his mouth is a blackened mess. Sitting on his opponent’s heaving chest, Lloyd considers finishing him off quickly. Putting his hands in the right position, he realizes that the mayor’s neck is too thick for him to snap or throttle. Before he can think of something else, Erik stops moving and putrid smoke wafts from his gaping mouth
“Well, that sucks,” Lloyd mutters while getting to his feet. Staring at the horrified crowd, he takes a bow that he has trouble rising out of. “In my defense, he’s a fucking giant. That and he did say it was to the death. Look, I’ve made it this far without a creative kill, so I was due. After all, I have a reputation to uphold. Also, some internal bleeding. Maybe a concussion. Something is definitely broken and I don’t mean mentally. Uh . . . Don’t smoke, kids. Obviously, it’ll kill you. Yup, I think I covered everything. Time to topple over.”