I tasted last night’s indiscretions before I felt them. The stagnant flavors of vodka and fruit sat heavy on my tongue with just an undercurrent of vomit. I was either about to have a lazy Sunday or a very rough Monday. Not that this would be the first time I’d have to power through work acting like I was still alive.
Tiki drinks, my one weakness.
I felt like a freshman after their first kegger. I couldn’t get together the strength to push myself out of bed and instead lay curled under the covers until everything else started catching up with me. My head hurt, my stomach churned, and I really needed to pee.
I needed to stop drinking.
I didn’t recognize the room I was in. It was, unfortunately, not the first time this sort of thing had happened to me. It was small mercies that I had woken up alone. Less awkward than a conversation between two people who probably didn’t remember how they had gotten in bed together in the first place.
Though, the banging of pots and pans outside didn’t bring much comfort. I’d had enough lousy post-coital omelets to last a lifetime. Too many voices too. Roommates? I wasn’t keen on pondering the other options.
The night before was like a jigsaw puzzle someone had grabbed and shaken apart. What little memories I had were just moments, with no clear sequence of events. Only a dissociated mess of actions and beverages that could have happened in any order.
This was fine though. No need to freak out. Bathroom, shower, then a quick escape before they offered breakfast. McDonalds on the way home. This wasn't my first rodeo. Everything was going to be fine.
Besides, I was going to throw up all over their sheets if I stayed in bed any longer.
Plan in mind, I worked my way into escaping my current predicament. I untangled myself from the comforter and crawled out like a larval hatchling. I oozed my way out of my cocoon, knocking over the bottles that encircled the bed. It was like a boy’s dorm room, but without the cheesy movie posters. Dirty clothes and papers were spilled all over the floor and it looked like they’d been there for a while.
My feet managed to guide me through this wasteland, and I stumbled to the door, the world a bleary mess that felt like it was rocking back and forth. A bathrobe hanging near the coats was commandeered for decency and I pushed my way into what must have been the living room.
The three goofiest guys I had ever seen were hanging around outside. God help me, if I had slept with any of them I was going to neck myself with a can lid. With mounting horror, I started to realize I might be in a house full of theater kids.
A youngish looking guy sat at a table, taller sitting than I was standing, with an outfit that looked like he’d greased himself up to get into it. He had frozen, mid-shake of a hand, in his conversation with the man across the table from him, breaking into a grin at the sight of me. His companion’s outfit was another skintight affair, but at least looked more chivalrous than circus.
“Oh, finally awake Anne?” The better-dressed man said with an awkward smile. “We were a little worried there. Thought you might be sleeping through the rest of the day.”
I have a resting bitch face, so it was nice to know at least I wouldn’t be showing how confused I was right now. The taller man pushed off the table, nearly tipping it over as he stood.
“I hope you didn’t forget your promise about patrols with me this afternoon,” he said with a wag of his finger. “It would be awful if I won our bet that easily.”
A third person stood off to the side, a teenage boy wearing a goofy helmet over his head, leaning against a counter with a worried look on what was visible of his face. He asked the obvious question, “Revel...Anne, are you alright?”
I thought for a moment that these three weirdos dressed in faux latex outfits might be artists, but the room was far too clean for that. I couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say, so went for the obvious instead.
“I’m going to throw up. Where’s the shower?”
That had not been my voice. It was like someone had grabbed my vocal cords and cranked them up with a winch. I was so preoccupied worrying over my throat, I almost didn’t hear the response.
“Uhhh, over there,” the man at the table said with a point of his finger.
The world still looked like I was peering through a dirty windshield, but I could make out the door at the end of the hallway and intended to make my way there without embarrassing myself. I took a dive within the first ten steps, squeaking as my feet twisted over each other. The brief moment of panic from tripping was replaced with the abject hysteria of not falling.
My sense of balance twisted ninety degrees as I hung frozen in the air. A noose would have been more comfortable. My brain couldn’t catch up with what was going on, but apparently, wasn't needed. I flexed a sense that I know I hadn’t had before. My body glided towards the bathroom like a kite pushed by a gentle breeze, while I remained rigid as the moment I'd tripped. This did not do good things for my nausea and the moment the door had shut, everything inside was coming out of me.
The face reflecting back in the mirror wasn’t mine. I touched a hand to a cheek I didn’t recognize. I stood slowly, trying to not overexert my ruined body. Everything felt distant, my hangover the only thing painfully breaking through that dissociation.
The man outside had called me Anne. No, he had called me Revel. I recognized that name.
This couldn’t be real.
I fell to my knees, but the urge to vomit was gone. Panic overtaking everything else. I crawled over a tiled floor to turn on the shower. The rush of water drowning out the voices I could hear faintly muttering right outside. It would hopefully also cover up any noise while I dry heaved and cried. I flopped under the warm water and lay there for the next twenty minutes trying not to think.
The situation hadn't improved by the time the water went cold. There were more voices outside now, discussing with each other. I managed to catch “can't believe again”, “call Myrddin”, and “damn shame” before I turned off the shower. As soon as they knew I could hear them, everyone fell silent.
The living room was a bit more packed this time around. I made the walk of shame from the bathroom to the bedroom while everyone pretended they were looking away. I was not going to think about this. I was not going to deal with this. I flopped onto the mattress, not caring how it upset my stomach, and decided I was going to just let myself die.
Even in the state I was in, it didn’t take long before everything went black.
The man that stepped into the room could only be Myrddin. No one else would be wearing such a dorky looking wizard’s robe and still somehow pull it off. He loomed over my disheveled form, sprawled over what I guess was technically my bed. He almost managed to block the wards peeking from behind him to look at the mess. His cold gaze swept over everything: the drawers pulled out, the papers strewn about, the empty bottles of wine and booze scattered like fallen soldiers. I couldn’t imagine the last time he was inside this room it had looked all that different. I didn’t have any impressions of who Revel had used to be, but your room didn’t turn out like this after one night of drinking.
“I am disappointed, Revel. One cannot allow their slovenly nature to take hold of them like this. I am certain you feel the ramifications of your current—”
The door closed shut and Myrddin popped a squat almost immediately. He flung back his hood, showing his face, caring eyes peering from behind rectangular glasses.
“Alright, so level with me here, what’s going on? Another break-up? Nightmares? Are you trying to get everyone sent to another course on alcohol consumption? You should know that Campanile would be beside himself if he was forced to sleep through any more lectures. Oh, a moment please.”
He formed a symbol with his hands and uttered a word of power that thrummed. A blast of wind scattered everything around him as a single cup of coffee phased into existence, as fresh as the moment he must have bought it. The drink floated in the air for only a moment, before it was scooped up by the Protectorate Leader. He took a sip.
“Ah, yes. Delicious. The beans are from Guam, you know. They always have the most delightful coffee. The shop I mean, not Guam, I've never been. Now, where was I?” He paused for a moment in contemplation, stroking a fabulous beard.
I turned away so I wouldn't have to awkwardly stare at him while he regained his train of thought.
“Oh right, I’m so sorry, where are my manners,” he asked with a slap of his brow, “would you like any?”
I groaned my response.
“Hmph, are you sure? Well, the offer is always open of course. You need something to help pick you up after all.”
Myrddin sipped at his drink, content to let me suffer in silence. I didn't particularly feel like talking. My breath still felt like the stale air in a men's locker room and I was worried if I opened my mouth to say anything, my stomach's contents would be following close behind.
And really, I didn't want to say what was at the front of my mind. Saying it would make it real. Right now, everything was still ethereal. Even the hero beside me separated through the haze of alcohol. The room was at a half tilt, shifting around in my vision. I wanted to keep it that way for as long as I could.
But Myrddin was patient, and it didn’t take long for me to crack.
“I feel like I'm either dying or dreaming," I said into my pillow.
"Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor. Sholom Aleichem. Comforting words in the trying times we find ourselves in." Myrddin swiveled around and sat his butt on the edge of my bed. "Oh, my mother wanted me to be a lawyer, but I decided on liberal arts. I’m glad I was able to find at least some use for that degree. But really, are you feeling fine? The alcohol aside?"
It was an easy answer.
He tutted. "I feared as much. Your demeanor is off. Do not worry, your secrets are safe with me. As long as you see fit to share them."
His hand felt calming on my back. My family was never fond of touch and he had the sort of grandfatherly vibe that a guy in his thirties didn’t have any right throwing around. He remained like that for a moment before pulling his hand back. "As you wish."
He pushed himself off the bed and uttered another word. A glass of water, ice cubes still in it burst its way into reality and he set it down gently on the nightstand. He floated his way over the clutter and paused, one hand rested on the door. "Tell me, do you still enjoy your pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse?"
I rolled over again, with a moan of discomfort. He laughed, nodding, as if that had been a response. "Excellent, they shall be prepared with boysenberry syrup."
And then he was gone and I was alone.
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