Excerpt of a short story “Clocks of Catharsis” continued from Issue 12 by Tyler Gagliardi
Lex and Keaton both woke up rather late that day. They both threw on their clothes and didn’t bother showering while still remaining to look sharp and attractive. They stopped at a gas station before leaving Flagstaff to catch some breakfast burritos and a coffee to wake them up. Leaving Flagstaff and merging onto the I-40 W toward L.A., Keaton began to think when he lit his morning cigarette. His thoughts wandered onto the vast barren desert plain and he began to see vultures circling in the sky. This reminded him of yesterday when they were getting gas and the Vagos were giving them dirty looks. Keaton began to wonder if it was possible that the Vagos were following them. As soon as he did so, he looked in the passenger side mirror and saw two motorcycles in the distance behind them. He thought in his mind that this couldn’t possibly be happening—or maybe it was just coincidence. Just as he thought that, and the neural circuitry in his mind fired action potentials, Lex floored it! Keaton realizing that there was obviously a problem decided it was time to fasten his seatbelt, which he never wore except in a case of an emergency. Keaton looked at Lex, who was still somehow perfectly calm and asked him:
“Ok—what the fuck is going on man!?” He asked with extreme fear. Lex proceeded to keep his mouth closed and just looked over at Keaton with the black glare of his dark black Oakley glasses.
“No, I’m serious, what the fuck is going on!?” Keaton asked. As the bikes got closer and closer, terror arose in Keaton’s mind. The hot desert sun beat down on the Boss 302 as it roared down the I-40. Behind them only 300 meters away was a crew of six Vagos bikers staring forward with devious intent.
“Listen, I’m not going to ask again, what the fuck is going on?” Keaton asked for the last time. Just as he did, Lex turned very slowly over to Keaton. The proceeding events seemed to happen in slow motion. Lex starred as cold as a frigid glacial tundra at Keaton and he slowly reached for his Oakley shades. Keaton was terrified and interested at the same time so continued to stare back at Lex. With a final second of time to spare Lex slowly lifted his Oakley shades until they lifted over his forehead. His eyes blasted an aura of immense white blinding light at Keaton in a very large area, similar to gazing at the sun. The irises of his eyes were completely blinding and left an imprint in Keaton’s visual field. He then quickly put his glasses back down and proceeded to drive. Keaton sat slumped in his seat as if he has just been gang raped. The endurance of trauma had seized after a few moments and the reality that they were being chased by bikers soon caught back up in his mind. The bikers were now only about 100 meters from their Mustang and they both knew that they had to ditch them. Keaton nervously turned on the radio for some comfort and switched to find the local radio station. Upon turning the station he heard a news report saying:
“The I-40 will be closed from Kingman to Barstow both ways”
The news was a shock to Keaton, considering that they already had some trouble getting to L.A. yesterday.
“This is fucking bullshit man, first Phoenix, now Kingman?—it’s like they don’t want us going there or something” Keaton said.
“Yeah, that’s what it seems like, doesn’t it?” Lex replied.
“I think you would know better than anyone—mind reader! What the fuck is up with that man?” Keaton said.
“We gotta loose em’ soon” Lex said.
“Why don’t we get off at Seligman, and take route 66?” Keaton said.
“Hmmm, that’s a great idea!” replied Lex. They got closer and closer to the exit of Seligman when Lex accelerated to 205mph. the bikes were somehow managing to follow their tail effortlessly. As they approached the exit Lex made a psychotic yet precise turn off the road at 205mph. There was a construction equipment trailer ramp at the exit and Lex accelerated onto it and projected their car off the ramp. As construction workers and civilians standing by all observed in horror, the car flew off the road and managed to land on the off ramp nearly slaughtering 3 workers. The Vagos did not see this coming and continued to head in the opposite direction.
“I think we lost em!” Keaton said with a sigh of relief.
“No way, once they get to Kingman they will have to turn around, and I am sure they will catch up with us at some point, it’s just a matter of time.” Lex replied.
“But why the hell are they even chasing us in the first place?” Keaton said, interested.
“They sensed you back in Ciudad Juarez, they were probably transporting a shipment back from Mexico when they felt you there.” Lex said.
“What do you mean when you say, sensed me? Keaton asked, worried.
“You are not their kind” Lex said.
“Kind?” Keaton replied.
“Yeah, you don’t belong here, they sensed you before you even knew it,” Lex said.
“What do you mean, don’t belong here?” Keaton asked, really worried. Lex decided it was time to turn on the stereo and blast some more death-core. The Mustang flew down old route 66 at a consistent 180mph, not a cop in sight.
As they headed west on route 66 things began to feel more relaxed, they had realized they would have time to just enjoy the ride. The dusty desert terrain with mountains and canyons in the distance seemed to be a drug that brought them peace on the chaotic trip. They saw very few cars as they drove down the road that seemed to stretch forever. Keaton began to get bored with the idle chit chat and decided to look at a map that was in the glove compartment. According to the map, because the I-40 was closed in Kingman, they would have to take a more northern route and then swing back down to San Bernardino to get to L.A. This meant only one thing:
“Dude, let’s hit up VEGAS!” Keaton said rather stoked.
“Vegas, is not exactly, the best place…” Lex replied.
“Vegas is the shit bro! Lets hit it up!” Keaton replied.
“Yeah, fine” Lex replied.
The driving was perfect for the remainder of that day, but Lex was still conscious that the Vagos were still following them. The sun started to set on the desert horizon and the temperature began to drop. The sky looked like a psychedelic bowl of rainbow sherbet melting. Keaton began to look bored and in need for some stimulation. As they began to enter Walapai, Keaton decided it was time for a beer. All of this driving had made him eager to entice his pallet and cool his senses with a tall glass of ale.
“Yo man, let’s hit up this saloon! I’m sooo thirsty man,” Keaton said foolishly.
“Yeah, I’m pretty thirsty myself man,” Lex replied.
They pulled in on a decrepit, broken down saloon on the side of the road with a few trucks and some bikes parked out front. The window’s neon lights evoked an inebriated crowd and cheap sex. The Mustang parked out front of the dirty bar and both Lex and Keaton got out at the same time, both cowboy boots crushing the dusty desert floor with the recoil of sand echoing in the distance. They slowly and curiously walked up to the front of the bar where a woman wearing a sleazy pair of extra short shorts and a provocative cut western shirt revealed more skin than ones imagination could even imagine greeted them. She said:
“You boys are dressed fine, this evening” putting her arm around Keaton. She then turned around and dropped her lipstick, and bent over directly in front of Keaton. This action was rather enticing to Keaton who was already to drink at this moment anyways. Lex diverted Keaton’s attention as he headed inside. When they opened the door which was in need for some paint, every single person in the bar proceeded to look at them. The saloon was comfortably roomy but narrow inside, its dimensions were rectangular in shape. There was a pool table located on the left side of the door with 2 bikers playing, with very long hair and an array of tattoos on their arms. On the right were a few tables with some truckers drinking with what seemed to be some concubines or lot lizards. At the bar, which was directly in front of them was a long bearded bar tender with a bald head, a few fairly attractive swingers, and a few lonely drunks. On the far left there was a jukebox and a bathroom entrance with a man with an unzipped fly walking out. The floor was sticky with the residue of beer spilled and the air burned the nostrils with a thick layer of smoke. The awkward silence didn’t seem to frighten Lex or Keaton as they walked over and sat at the bar stools. The bar tender said:
“What will ya have?”
“I’ll have the Peach Ale.” Keaton said.
“I’ll have the Oatmeal Stout.” Lex said.
In the background at a table listening very carefully a trucker said under his breath:
“Yeah, you will you fucking nigger…”
Another dead silence was in the room as the bartender poured the ice cold brews into the chilled mugs. Everyone at the bar was waiting in anticipation for the response of Lex. With a very slow turn of his neck, you could hear the sound of Lex’s neck bones crack as he turned around. He paused for a moment as the fat inebriated truck driver waited. Under the table the truck driver was packing heat and ready to shoot at any moment. Lex fully turned around, and slowly got up staring directly at the obese truck driver. He assertively walked over to the table crunching peanut shells and pretzel debris with his boot, where he halted at the table.
“Excuse me my good man, what did you happen to say?” Lex said, egging him on.
The trucker looked rather dumbfounded and laughed as he took one last sip of his ale which spilled on his shirt as he slopped it down. He chuckled again turning to his uninterested whores for a final time.
“I said—you’re a fucking N—I” before the word could be finished from his mouth, Lex picked the man up out of his seat with just his left hand and threw the trucker up in the air. Lex then leaped, cocking his arm back as if he was charging up with some type of energy. A small white aura circled him for a brief second and he surged a devastatingly furious punch at the trucker. The trucker’s body flew ten feet back in the air when it finally made contact with the window. His body expelled out the window and into the parking lot where it was heard tumbling a few extra feet. All this occurred in a lightning fast move that was almost in slow motion due to the serotonin levels increases in everyone’s brain. Lex stood there in the ricochet of silence that fell upon the room, and then he proceeded to walk back to the bar as if nothing had happened. As if it was some kind of panic, the people in the room continued to do what they had been doing as well, in fear of Lex annihilating them. The 2 lot lizards walked out of the bar to check up on their man, who probably needed a paramedic, or two. After the wake of the heroic event Keaton felt obliged to engage in drunken conversation with Lex.
“Man, where did you learn those moves? That was insane!—Ya know, I know some modern kempo myself…” Keaton said, with a cocky expression on his face. Lex looked uninterested in what he had to say and continued to poor down his oatmeal stout that looked quite delicious. The provocative dressed woman that greeted them outside made her way in with a few truckers checking her out. She walked up to Keaton and Lex and sat right on Keaton’s lap.
“That was really mighty impressive boys!—I saw that man fly out the window, and I knew it was you two!” She said, looking at Lex.
“Well it wasn’t me Lex said—It was Keaton” Lex said, winking to Keaton. She quickly turned her face to Keaton’s direction and looked him right in the eyes. She was only about 2 inches from his face still sitting on his lap. She seductively swiped at his neck with her finger tips and ran her fingers down his chest.
“You are quite the handsome boy aren’t you” she said, while licking her lips in a most malicious manner. Her eyes were a crystal blue similar to a wolf’s eye and were hypnotizing when your eyes met with hers. She had blond hair that was slightly wavy, with a few curls, and a dab of freckles on her face. Keaton becoming quite fond of the attention she was giving him adjusted himself on the stool with a nervous twitch.
“You have something about you that feels different—I can’t put my nose on it” she said. It was in that instant that Lex’s immaculate intellect kicked in, and told him something was wrong. Both the provocative girl and Lex felt a cold vibration stir through the room. She looked at Lex with a bit of vehemence and Lex instantly knew. She then looked Keaton in the eye and gazed deep into him, to the depths of his soul, where she found what she was looking for. In that instant, her eyes changed to a glowing yellow as she went to kiss his neck, a serpent like tongue drew fourth from her orifice. Lex, with haste, quickly grabbed her by the face with his right hand, jumped in the air with the aura of white light glowing around his body and slammed her body through a nearby table breaking it in half.
In that very moment, the door came bursting down. An eerie Tule fog made its way in the door as the room silenced. Six figures were seen in the mist unrecognizable to the naked eye. As they took a frightening step into the bar it was evident that they were bikers due to their boots. As the fog cleared, an insidious character stood at the gaping mouth of the room. His name was Samael; he was an intimidating 6’ 5”, with long greasy black hair. He wore black shades, had a dark tan, and a thick beard. His muscles were very large and covered with diabolic tattoos. Behind him stood a crew of 5 men of equal stature, all dressed in Vagos jackets.
“Hahahahaha!—Thought you could run Lex?—my friend?—I think not” Samael said.
At that moment Keaton was standing at the bar completely mortified thinking, how could this guy possibly know them?
“You can’t have him” said Lex in a tough bold manner.
“Ah, but I think I can” Samael said.
In that moment, Keaton feared that Lex was out numbered, so he decided to pray to God that St. Michael would defend them in battle. As he prayed, he helplessly kept thinking that they were doomed, that how would an invisible character possibly save them from real terror, in real life.
“It’s on mutha fucka!” Lex said. At the same time he snapped his fingers and the jukebox switched to After the Burial, and played another crushingly heavy breakdown. In a flash, an epic battle began. Lex dived at Samael delivering a pulverizing punch to the left cheek, blood splattered forth. Samael’s blood was a blackish color with small crystal granules in it. With a counter punch, Samael delivered a mean uppercut to Lex’s jaw, where a trace of pure white blood with shimmering crystals shot up. They began to throw fast attacks at each other, with even faster blocks and counter moves. Lex checked Samael with his shoulder furiously and Samael’s body flew across the room knocking over tables and chairs. Everyone else that was not involved in the fight was either cowering in terror or hiding behind someone else. Samael’s minions grabbed Lex by his arms so that he could not possibly move. Samael then powered up and gained a black aura around his body. He pulled a machete out from his jacket and charged ferociously at Lex who was helpless at this point. The time had completely stood still as everyone watched in terror thinking the worst. Five feet before he had reached Lex, he dove into the air and raised the machete over his head screaming out in a loud cry. The blade made contact with Lex’s forehead, when suddenly all action in the room froze. A figure was seen entering the doorway dressed in an all white suit, devastatingly handsome looks, black shades, and long slicked back blond hair. He had an immensely large white aura circling him. His movements across the room were nearly undetectable; you could make out the blurry line from where he had been a moment ago as if it was a cloud of smoke moving across the room. He leaped gracefully into the air where his aura became a radiant white that was as intense as the sun itself. He delivered a punch upon Samael that was so devastating that a shock wave shattered every window in the building. Samael and his machete fell to the ground and so did his minions. When time continued after the shockwave hit, Samael and his minions literally crawled on the floor begging for the light to end. The figure in white then effortlessly pinned Samael’s head to the ground, bones cracking. The figure pulled out a mighty sword glowing with a perfect white aura and said:
“I banish you to the depths of hell!!!”
Lex was bleeding from his forehead with a gaping wound in the center of his skull. As white crystallized blood slowly started to drip from his wound, he looked over at Keaton who was in shock. Keaton knew that they only had a few seconds left before they could escape safely. In this window of time, Keaton and Lex bolted for the door. Looking back Keaton saw the man in all white look over at him and he felt a rush of positive energy flow through him, then he smiled and kept running. As they tore out of the parking lot, dust blew and created a huge cloud in their trail. A white dove was seen flying away from the saloon as they drive down route 66 at 180mph. As they made their way into Kingman, AZ, they realized that they would have to head north as planned toward Las Vegas. They took the US-93 N toward Las Vegas. It was a beautiful stretch of road that went on for miles and miles. The moon still hung in the sky casting down its ivory lights upon their snow white Mustang. There was a peaceful feeling to the desert night, and they felt free once again. Keaton reminisced about the brawl at the saloon, and how that mysterious man had saved both of their lives. He turned over to Lex who was driving and who was miraculously healed from his battle scar. They both looked at each other and knew what each other were thinking and smiled subtly. As they pulled on up at Dolan Springs, they stopped at a beat down old motel that would always have vacancy. They opened the comforting but lousy motel room door and immediately went to bed upon landing on their cozy bed. Keaton’s mind was quickly drawn to his subconscious awareness where he was brought to a visual plane of whiteness again. The aura was so bright this time that he could almost see into it.