The Force - Part I
By Scott D. Zachary
Edited by Bobbie Hess
Perhaps "The Force" is a remnant from primeval days, from days when men hunted in packs like wolves, from days when our ancestors challenged big woolly mammoths out of necessity. As contradictory as the idea might seem, perhaps The Force is just basic survival instinct. And just maybe, The Force is the result of an inordinate gush of adrenaline into the bloodstream—a shot of adrenaline so great that the body and mind react not unlike "The Incredible Hulk." Possibly, The Force is the result of the confidence-bolstering effect of a specific quantity of imbibed alcohol. What probability could be assigned to The Force being a proverbial guardian angel? Or is there some chance that The Force is a combination of these? If so, what combination? Who knows? Whatever The Force is, it is definitely not a presence of mind that I could willfully invoke, like when the magician pulls the rabbit from his hat. Nor is it my usual demeanor.
The Force initially introduced itself when I was staying in Katmandu, enjoying some rest and recuperation after sixteen days of rigorous mountain climbing in the Himalayan Mountains. Upon checking into the hotel, my first agenda was a long hot bath. Scrubbed clean and shiny, my next priority was to swill several imported beers. During the trek to Everest, I vowed that the goats milk beer, which my Nepalese Sherpas had packed for our trek, would never again touch my stomach walls. It reeked of rotten cottage cheese that someone seemed to have pissed in—and I don’t even like cottage cheese. I dressed in my finest jeans and cotton shirt, but I was hesitant to part with my hiking boots, so I didn’t.
I strolled to the colonial-style bar just off the lobby in my hotel and sat down. The bartender greeted me jovially, and I ordered a Heineken. After more than two weeks of drinking lukewarm liquids, I promptly disposed of that ice-cold beer and ordered another one. The bartender respectfully said, "We will be closing in five minutes, sir. This will be your last drink." I was stunned. It was only nine o’clock, and I was primed to party!
I asked the native bartender where in that Asian town I might find a place to further develop my festive yearnings. He looked at me kind of funny, so I rephrased my question and asked him where I might purchase another beer. He said, "Oh, the casinos are about fifteen kilometers down the road, and they stay open all night." I thanked him, left a fairly sizeable tip for his valuable advice, and trotted out the door. I walked through the gates in front of the hotel and was accosted by fifteen or twenty bicycle rickshaw drivers clamoring for my business. It seemed as though they believed whoever asked the loudest would get my fare. Having trekked for as many as thirty kilometers in a day, fifteen was just a short hike in my way of seeing it. I’ve never seen a group of people more disappointed or astonished than when I told them I was going to hike to the casinos.
About six or seven kilometers down the road, I encountered what seemed like a residential area where there were absolutely no lights. I could barely see the road in front of me and wondered if I had taken a wrong turn. But I pressed on with my trek, hoping that I would eventually see someone who could put me back on track. Three- and four-story dark apartments loomed on either side of the road as though they had been abandoned. There were no automobiles with their friendly beams anywhere.
Something moved across the street, but I couldn’t tell what it was in that lightless environment. Then another sinister entity moved ominously in front of me. If you’ve ever been so physically fit that you believed you were Superman’s cousin, or even Superman himself, you know the confidence that I felt under these questionable circumstances. But then it seemed as though the darkness all around me began to stir—to have a life of its own. I just trekked on, but not so quickly as before.
And then I heard a throaty "Grrrrrrr" behind me. I never go anywhere without my Swiss Army knife, so I retrieved it from my pocket and snapped open the largest razor-sharp blade. Prepped for the worst, I continued forward into the darkness, my ears perked for the next hint of aggression. Adrenaline spurted into my system. I heard another less throaty, higher pitched—but no less threatening—"Grrrrrrr" across the street. Seconds later I realized that I was at the vortex of some vicious force, surrounded by something evil that I couldn’t see, something that ostensibly desired to devour me like a bullfish sucks a guppy into its hungry mouth.
I halted. It—or they—were all around me. I sensed them moving closer. For a moment, the moon skirted past a slice of yielding clouds, allowing me to see a little better than before, but still not enough to illuminate my potential feasters. At that point, my mind seemed to begin metamorphosizing. I wasn’t me anymore; instead, I was watching the events unfold in front of me, but from a distance. In retrospect, I would call it a kind of out-of-body experience, where I was watching myself react to a situation that was out of my control. I watched this frightening ordeal unfold from afar.
As though this evil force was invigorated by my lack of motion, I could feel in the hairs of my arms that it was galvanized to attack . . . to attack me, but not me. I was outside myself watching. Another force, a benevolent force, seemed to step in—in my stead. Although this new force was using my body for its purpose, I stood back and watched. And although I am an extremely confident individual, I doubt that I could have done what this force did.
The moon poked its reflecting beams of light through the cloudy canopy and spotlighted thirty or forty underfed dogs with their teeth bared, ready for their dinner. Me! The Force panned his vision in a circular motion, summing up his enemy. He did the last thing that I would have ever done—he selected the largest dog and strutted almost cockily and casually toward it. The Force leaned forward and pointed the tip of my Swiss Army knife at the throat of a very large German shepherd and whispered, "I will die tonight, but you will, too." He initiated a stare-down with that canine beast, which continued for what seemed like forever, but it was probably only for two or three minutes.
At some point, the growls ceased. The aggressive movements dissipated moments later. The moon popped up in all its glory, and there was just The Force and the German shepherd, proudly sitting on his haunches. They were face-to-face, blade to throat, fangs unsheathed. The German shepherd exhibited no sign of fear and raised to all fours. He looked at The Force with a measurable amount of disdain and a certain amount of respect, then turned, and pranced away.
Well, if I wasn’t ready to party before that confrontation, then I was on a warpath to the casinos after that. I continued my trek to the source of merriment without further bestial or human interference. Four hours of gambling and drinking was enough for me, so I walked out of the casino and encountered a similar swarm of bicycle rickshaw drivers. Drunker than three cavorting skunks and more than ready to put my head on a pillow, I selected the most enthusiastic driver and gave him my hotel address. A couple of kilometers down the road, I realized that my driver was not much of a physical specimen. Worse than that, the chain on his bicycle was misaligned and popped with his every exertion. I told him to stop and let me take over. The look on his face as he sat in the rickshaw made it perfectly clear that no one had ever chauffeured him before.
I popped that chain vigorously all the way back to my hotel. As I bicycled past the point where those dogs had confronted me, some other primeval force prompted me to holler, "I’ll get you my pretty, and your little doggy, Toto, too. Ahhh-ha-ha-ha-ha!" The dogs wouldn’t dare, would they?
Feel free to share this story with your friends, but please give credit to the author--Scott D. Zachary.
Watch for Scott Zachary's thriller novel, "Scorn THIS"--available in October through www.Amazon.com, www.BN.com, and www.llumina.com.