Alright, here it is, the epilogue. With this chapter Maelstrom comes to a close. Thanks to everyone who has been reading this month, can’t wait to get back to my other projects!
If you can, please donate to my campaign for the first book in the Nick Ventner series which is due out early next year. Can’t wait to share it with you all!!
Just a reminder, this is unedited, a rough draft, is the product of too much caffeine and CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR WHITEOUT AND DOWNPOUR. You have been warned!
Links to previous chapters: Prologue,
Nick Ventner was booked into a single cell in a row of other single cells each containing a barely working toilet, a steel bed, and a scratchy pillow. He had been delivered to the jail by Murphy, who had walked him through the doors, to the processing center, and had even stayed with him right up until the minute the cell door was locked. There were no phone calls from government agencies, and there was no smug walk to freedom. Instead, Nick found himself trying to avoid the eyes of a shifty individual in the cell next to him that had tattooed pentagrams on his eyelids.
He found himself repeatedly looking at the man’s pentagrams and thinking about what a waste of time they had been. The symbol itself held no more power than a Ouija board, and in fact, probably less. Ghosts at least recognized Ouija boards as conduits. They likely just saw pentagrams as cries for help from anguished children who couldn’t get the attention of their parents. Nick of course said none of this, not wanting to get shanked in his first hours of prison time.
The headache he had been feeling all night was beginning to fade, but the bruises and bumps on his body from the absolute hellish week he had endured were no closer to fading. His entire body throbbed. It occurred to him that letting him rot in jail was probably the CIA’s rotten idea of a joke. He hadn’t done anything to stop the sea monsters, and they were out over a hundred thousand dollars from his shopping spree.
It was around midnight as he contemplated what his life would be like in prison and how many inmates would be fooled by a little bit of dark magic, that there was clatter in the hallway. Nick stood from his metal bed and looked out through the bars down the long corridor where two guards had stood moments earlier. Both were laying on the ground, unconscious and a third man stood above them, wearing an ill-fitting black ski mask.
Oh shit, this is the part where they silence me before I go to trial. “Help! Guards, assassin!” Yelled Nick, desperately, backing toward the edge of his cell. His blood pumped furiously in his veins. He was surprised the threat of death still elicited a response, but it did.
There was a puff of smoke at the end of the hallway and then a hand clamped firmly over his mouth.
“I was going for a silent entrance you idiot. Now shut up, and hold on.”
“Lopsang?” he tried to say from beneath the man’s hand.
“Yes, now shut up, and hold on.”
He had a chance to wink at the man in the cell next to him before the world dropped from beneath him once more. The jail flashed before him like a scene in a movie. First they were in the hallway next to the unconscious guards, next they were back in the processing area. A group of policeman around a water cooler looked up briefly to stare at the pair of men that had appeared out of thin air, but then they were gone again.
Cold air whipped around Nick’s face briefly and then he was sitting in the back of a beat-up sedan. The driver stepped on the gas and Lopsang took his mask off. “You just had to play pirate, didn’t you?” There was a chastising tone, but also humor in it.
“What are you talking about?” asked Nick.
“Don’t you remember saying it would be folly to leave Bertha without celebrating our victory?” asked James from the front seat. They pulled onto the freeway and James looked nervously to make sure no one was following them.
“No, I blacked out after we fell on top of city hall.”
“Well that explains a lot,” chuckled Lopsang. “See, I had been saving a bottle of mountain wine for the end of our journey.”
At the mention of mountain wine, Nick’s head gave a nasty throb of remembrance. “Oh dear.”
“We figured out pretty quickly that we weren’t going to get off the boat anytime soon. It was quite the drop, but what we didn’t think about was Adamyr’s body. When the police got there, you were hanging from the mast shouting ‘Take my picture, I’m a pirate’.
“They weren’t able to hold me for long, but I had to rest up before I could come get you two.”
Nick nodded, the picture finally beginning to make sense. “So you broke James out first?” Nick asked, slightly offended.
“Well, not exactly,” said Lopsang uncomfortably.
“CIA pulled me out. Turns out their boat made it through The Triangle safely, no monsters, no aliens, no nothing.”
“Why the hell didn’t they get me out then?!”
“Well… The general’s still a little pissed about the black card.”
Nick swore under his breath.
“Either way, I’d say it’s in our best interest to lay low for a while,” said Lopsang.
“What, a dead man, a demi-god and an enemy of the state? I think we need a drink more than anything.”
The three of them laughed.
“But one thing first,” added Nick. “Let’s get the fuck out of Florida.”