The hum of the car’s engine relaxed me as I continued south along the eastern coast of the United States. Asynje’s Vindr came across the speakers as the song changed, and my vision began to tunnel. Son of a Bitch! Not here, not now! I’m on the fucking interstate! I shook my head in an attempt to clear my thoughts, turning my head on a pivot to find an exit through the mass of cars surrounding me.
Weaving through them, I made my way to an emergency shoulder and threw my parking brake on. I rubbed my eyes hard to clear them and took several deep breaths. I pawed around the floorboard for my bottle of Jack, remembering I had finished it off hundreds of miles ago. Fuck! I growled to myself. I dug in my pocket, retrieving my candy tin of joints, lighting one between my lips. I inhaled deeply as I rested my head on the headrest of the car, trying to center myself.
Get off the gods damn road, Cade! I swore at myself. Move before you get hit or, worse, seen by a patrolman. I finished my roach and lit a second one and made my way back onto the road, anxiously looking for an exit. A couple more miles later, I found one and hurried to the nearest petrol station, finding a parking space in a corner by their dumpster. I flicked the remnants of the joint to the pavement and closed my eyes.
The sound of bagpipes, drums, and the clamor of men shouting consumed me as I raised my axe above my head, releasing a primal roar. Soaked to the knees from the soggy moor, I trudged forward through the mud. The bright red and yellow of my kilt flapped in the wind in stark contrast to the browns and greens around me as the scent of mold, moss, and wet soil filled my nostrils. Hatred towards the English burned in my chest, and I charged at the onslaught of soldiers lined up in front of me. I swung downward, spinning in place as I took two down in a matter of seconds. I roared again and lifted myself effortlessly over their still warm corpses as I slew another group. An instant later, with a flick of my head, a sword flew through the air, piercing yet another English soldier.
I had learned a lot since the battles of my youth and had perfected the use of my powers. I knew how far I could push myself without exhaustion, making me a nearly unstoppable force. I had exceeded that limit and was slipping fast. As I came out of my daydream, I went inside and bought a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label and drank down half of it before putting the car back in gear. I found a nearby hotel and checked myself into a room.
I braced myself against the wall in the dingy shower as the water trickled over my back. Fighting to remain on my feet, I staggered, still dripping wet, to the bed. I collapsed on it, face first, and knew I was blacking out again. This time, it wasn’t from being awake. I struggled to breathe, as the weight seemed to crush me. A mhic ghràdhaich, fois. “I’m trying, Mother. I can’t…breathe.” My hand moved shakily as I called Wirglld to me. It flew from the rickety table into my grasp and I clung to it. The darkness consumed me once again as I lost consciousness.
My eyes fluttered open, and I gasped in a deep breath as I woke. Fuck me! I groaned and rolled over, clutching Wirglld to my chest. Continuing to breathe deep, shaky breaths, I lie there, centering myself. Your feet are on the bed in an upright position. Inhale. You hear your heart beat and the conversation between the couple in the next room. Exhale. You are in a hotel room in Maryland, USA. Inhale. The bedding smells of sex and mold and is rough to the touch. My breathing began to normalize as I continued. Your hands are gripped around Wirglld upon your chest. Exhale. There is a maid outside, three meters away, and her cart has a squeaky right front wheel. Inhale. A spring is digging into your fourth vertebra. Exhale.
I sat up slowly, reaching for my jacket. I retrieved the tin of joints and my golden zippo lighter. I placed one to my lips with shaky hands and lit it, inhaling deeply. I curled my toes in the revolting shag carpet and closed my eyes. Continuing to ground myself, I struggled to come back to the present. I barely remember making it to the bed. I shook my head, rubbing my eye sockets hard with my palms. Twelve hundred years, and you’ve finally gone insane, Cade. Bloody hell.
I stood and walked to the window, peering out at the car park. My Aston Martin was parked crookedly across two spaces as the maid passed my room, smiling sweetly as she caught a glimpse of my naked form in the window. The buzz of the neon vacancy sign near the street sent shivers down my spine as I fought to rein in my senses. I grabbed the bottle of Johnny Walker and finished it off.
Dropping the empty bottle in the bin, I crossed to the dingy bathroom and washed my face in the sink. The cool water refreshed me as it shocked my system the rest of the way into the present. I needed to feel the earth under my feet, the crisp, cool air of a forest whilst the animals ran and birds chirped. I needed my home, and I was thousands of miles from it, surrounded by people, concrete, and pollution.
I dressed before slinging my axe and jacket back on and trudged out to my car, discovering it wasn’t locked. Lombungr! I swore to myself as I walked around it and found it intact. Afraid to press my luck, I got in and sped back to the interstate as night began to fall. I cranked the radio and sang along off-key to Daughtry. Clearly, I needed to keep my head in the present, so the music of old was off the playlist for now.
Finally, back on track with a full tank of petrol, a new bottle of liquor, as well as a burger and fries, I was on my way. I didn’t stop again until I reached the shores of North Carolina. Reading a sign for a historical cove off the highway, I took the exit and followed the indicators for the hideaway. Pulling into the parking space, I took in a deep breath, locked my car, and made my way down an overgrown path.
Tucked away from the traffic was another world. A world akin to home. Trees lined the narrow way, leading to an undisturbed beach of white sand. The rustle of leaves in the breeze filled my ears as the crisp, moist air brushed my face. The sound of the waves crashing filled me, and I closed my eyes, taking it all in. I allowed my powers to ebb and flow as I stood there alone on the beach.