It's a dream. I mean it's night out, so it's got to be a damn dream. I keep telling myself this but it doesn't make the man in the armor stop trying to slam his heavy effin axe mallet thing into my head.
"Wait! Wait!" I hold out my hand to make him stop.
He lets out a yell and swings at my forearm.
I yank it back, but not fast enough to avoid getting grazed.
My arm rattles like a mother. That's when I see the metal plate wrapped around it.
Holy shit, I'm in armor too.
I scream, "Stop! Time out!”
He just keeps coming.
I back up, my ass bumps a tree trunk and I get the hell out of the way as the psycho brings his war hammer high above his head to pound me into the ground like a tent stake.
"Jesus!" I trip over a root and fall down.
The sword, the damn sword I saw stuck into the tree stump when I woke up/fell asleep, is still there calling me to some adventure I don't want.
The psycho with the mallet stands over me. Jesus, he's tall. Like some freaky Indiana farm boy basketball player-tall.
His armor is chainmail, covered with some dirty rag thing hanging over his body and a rusty metal helmet on his head.
I don't stop to make my case. I just back the hell up again while he takes another wild swing at me.
I'm getting tired.
I don't remember feeling this way in a dream before.
Maybe I'm high – only I don't get high.
Crap, what if this is encephalitis and I'm strapped to some Jacob's Ladder gurney pissing myself? Damnit, when I come to I could have brain damage and be like those poor son of a bitches that can't remember more than a minute at time!
He misses my head and smashes a tree, sending bark everywhere.
Jesus, are those spikes on the end of his hammer?
I know one thing, if this ain't a dream and this asshole hits me, there's no way I live without brain damage.
"Fine! I'll get the damn sword!"
Oblivious, he takes two quick strides and is almost on top of me raising the hammer again.
I try to kick him in the chest, like I know gymkata or some BS and end up hitting him in the thigh.
It's enough to make him fall backwards.
Maybe under that armor he's not as solid as he looks.
I run over to the stump and grab the handle of the sword. It's wedged in tight.
Thanks. A. Lot.
Sir Asshole has regained his balance and is running towards me.
"Wait, let me get this thing free!" I shout, hoping this is part of his game.
Evidently that's not in his rulebook. He swipes at me again, this time swinging the mallet like he's Ty Cobb slugging for the fences.
I can feel the wind on my neck as the edge of the hammer breezes by, almost knocking my Adam's apple out of my throat.
When I pull back, the sword comes free and topples with me over the trunk and into a muddy ditch.
I grip the handle and scramble out of it while Sir Asshole stands astride the stump, hammer held up in the air like a psychotic Thor and prepares to jump.
I claw my way out of the trough and make it to the other side.
He pauses, not sure if he should leap or walk around.
I take off running, leaving him to his decision.
That's when I hear the sound of dogs barking.
Not playful, come tickle us barking. These are snarling, growling hounds on the hunt for something.
If I want help, that is not the direction to run.
I go the opposite way, slashing and stumbling my way through the brush in the darkness.
I realize part of the reason my head feels funny and I'm having difficulty seeing is because I've got a damn helmet on my head.
I consider taking it off, then hear the sound of Sir Asshole stomping through the forest behind me.
I realize temporary limited visibility is better than permanent blindness.
There's something of a path beyond a clump of bushes. I make my way to it, keeping a watch over my shoulder for my attacker.
I'm beginning to think this isn't a dream.
Sure, the last thing I remember was falling asleep on my couch, but how many rape victims have similar memories? I mean, not on my couch – but waking up somewhere unfamiliar.
Of course, I was all alone...
What if Sir Asshole drugged me? Maybe he's some kind of serial killer who snatches people out of their homes then brings them out into the woods so he can smash their brains in?
And dress them in armor?
Is that any weirder than making a girl-suit out of dead hookers?
Jesus, I don't know. If I did then I guess I'd be working for the FBI tracking down those jerk-offs.
JINGLE! JINGLE! JINGLE!
Like a meth-crazed anorexic Santa Claus, Sir Asshole is stomping his way towards me.
I wheel around and hold my sword out as if he's going to voluntarily skewer himself.
"Is anybody there?" a woman cries somewhere in the distance.
"Run away!" I shout at the top of my lungs.
Sir Asshole is still sprinting towards me with the war hammer propped up on one shoulder, ready to strike me down.
"Stay back!" I scream, my sword wavering in my hands.
I want to run, but my body just can't anymore.
"Come on, man! Stay the hell away!"
He doesn't give a damn.
"AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHH!!!" he shouts.
Scared. Confused. Too stupid to know what else to do, I lunge at him.
My sword point punctures his ring mail and slides between his ribs. The man's momentum pushes it all the way through.
For the first time I see his eyes behind the visor.
The hammer slips from his limp fingers and hits the ground with a thud.
The man collapses, falling backwards, his hands trying to stem the flow of blood gushing from his body.
"Shit. Damn shit," he gasps.
I lean over him. "Let me help you..."
A bloody hand grabs my throat and starts choking me.
“Christ sake!" I yank myself free.
His hand falls to his side and he stops moving.
"Is anybody there?" calls the distant voice.
I run to her, dragging the sword behind me, not sure what the hell I'm supposed to do with it.
When I find her, she's bound to a tree with her chained hands pulled up above her head. Dark hair, early twenties and pretty if she wasn't so terrified. A thin white gown sticks to the sweat of her body.
She looks like one of those women in distress on the cover of a fantasy novel as some muscled barbarian protects her.
Only she's got me; a graphic designer who puked after his first session of Crossfit and never came back.
"Don't hurt me!" she pleads, trying to pull herself away.
"Is this a dream?" she asks me.
"I don't know. If it is, then it's mine. And it's messed up."
She pulls at her wrists. "Do you have the key? The man said it would be around the knight's neck."
"The man?" I touch my neck. There's nothing there.
"Christ. Stay here," I say stupidly then run back to the dead knight.
I'm half afraid he'll be gone when I get there, but not all relieved when I find out that he isn't.
"You okay?" I ask the body, nervous to get any closer.
The man doesn't move.
I squat down and feel for a pulse under his neck, just like they taught me in office safety.
I feel a thick cord and pull at it.
There's a key on the other end. But to get it off his head I have to take off his helmet.
Even though Sir Asshole is dead, I'm still afraid to remove it. A thousand horror movies have conditioned me to believing the monster isn’t dead when you think it is.
"Are you still there?" the girl calls out.
"Just a second..."
Somewhere in the distance the dogs bark.
Hells bells. When do I wake up?
I yank the helmet free and see the man for the first time.
He's old. An unkempt grey beard sits on a gaunt, tired face. He looks unwell.
No shit. He's dead.
But other than that, he's got the color of someone who has been sick, either from drugs or disease or both.
And I killed him.
"Please don't leave me!" the girl cries out.
I pull the necklace with the key free and run back to her.
"You came back," she says, relieved.
Tears are streaming down her face. "Some guy grabbed me and pulled me into a van."
"He's dead," I reply as I reach up to undo the lock restraining her.
"Thank you! Thank you!" She rubs her wrists. "I thought you were him."
I remember my helmet and take it off.
If I thought this would put her at ease, I was mistaken.
Her face goes pale and she lets out an ear-piercing scream.
She slaps me across the face, clawing my skin then takes of running.
"Wait!" I shout after her.
Not burdened by armor and energized by some level of terror I can't imagine, she vanishes into the trees.
You’re welcome, lady.
I pick up the sword and walk, not run, in the direction she went, praying that she'll come to her senses or I'll wake up.
Half an hour later, she's nowhere to be seen and I'm still here.
Except I can see beyond the trees to a road and overhead streetlights illuminating some abandoned industrial area.
I reach the middle of the street and look for the girl in either direction. She's long gone.
Helmet in one hand, sword in the other, I walk along the shoulder of the road trying to figure out where I am and what the hell just happened.
When the blue lights of an unmarked police car flash behind me, I take it in stride.
Why the hell not?