The Middle Men Ch.5


—–

The men had parked and were approaching the lair on foot. All while hunting their target.

“That donkey could be any one of these rocks. How do we tell which one it is?” Chevy knocked on boulder about the size of a donkey.

“Yeah, not even close” Luke put down Chevy. “When a victim gets turned to stone, they become stone, but don’t look like one. Just keep your eye out for a donkey statue. Can you handle that?”

Finding the Medusa’s lair was easy enough with the farmer’s direction. Plus, it being the only abandoned castle-keep for miles didn’t hurt their search efforts. It did however send an icy chill down their spines when they approached the ominous gateway that time had withered down, as it had likewise done to a large open section on the opposite side. Approaching it, Mac had pushed Chevy through the gate first and into the ruins. It was Chevy who volunteered them for this rescue mission, after all.

Besides their usual bags of tricks, they had brought one very special ingredient; a bottle of anti-petrification medicine that they traded for at the local market. It was a better option than dragging the stone statue out with their bare hands.

Inside, the men found themselves entering the main hall. With a twenty-foot-high ceiling and arching beams that had seen better days, it was unlikely they could keep an echo from signaling their arrival. To their surprise, there was still quite a bit of furniture remaining, which was even arranged with a certain degree of etiquette. There was a sizeable fireplace against the wall, along with fresh ashes in it. Run down but still cozy, they expected to find at least some cobwebs there.

Even though the keep was nowhere near as foreboding as they anticipated, they still found themselves jumping at shadows. This was a Medusa they were dealing with, of course. Just one glance at her could render them a trio of statues with no hopes of escaping. This called for big brains and big guts to solve. Unfortunately, they all lacked both. Still, that never stopped them before.

In fact, they had formulated somewhat of a plan in case of trouble. The first part of their plan was to avoid her and find the donkey.

“Spot anything yet?” Mac called to Luke in a hushed tone as they crept through the brittle floor and dirt.

“Nothing yet” Luke replied in an equally hushed tone.

“Well, keep your eyes open”

Luke shuttered. “You know, if we keep them too open, we’ll be scared stiff for the rest of our lives, won’t we?”

While the prospect of being turned to stone was bad enough, not having located the Medusa had frightened him even more. The suspense and danger of a surprise attack was unbearable.

“You’re a fraidy cat even when you stroll down the street at night” scorned Mac. “There’s nothing to be scared of. We can take this dame”

Chevy tapped Mac on the shoulder, causing him to yelp, which then spooked Luke.

“What’s the matter with you!? Don’t creep up behind me! Creep up in front of me!” a rattled Mac scolded Chevy, who was too excited to pay attention.

“I found it!” he exclaimed.

“Wait… the donkey or the lady of the house?” Luke crawled over.

“The donkey, of course”. Chevy led them over the debris to the stoned donkey. It stood on its two front legs, locked in a bucking position.

“That’s what I call ‘nice work’, kid. See? Send a jackass to find one” Mac ribbed him and retrieved the medicine from his pouch.

“Thanks” smiled Chevy.

Upon pouring the medicine onto the donkey, it caused a yellow beam to trail down its body, restoring its stone skin back into organic material. Once fully restored, it dropped its legs and stared at the men; more in confusion than gratitude.

“How’re you doing big guy?” Chevy patted its head to no reaction.

“There, he’s just peachy. Now come on, let’s ship this guy home” Mac ordered Chevy to lead the donkey out as he and Luke walked off.

Chevy grabbed a hold of its bit straps and tugged. However, he found himself gaining no ground every time he pulled.

“Hey Mac, hey Luke” he called.

“What?” they both answered.

“We need another solution-” he pointed toward their new problem. That being how the donkey had planted its rump fast on the ground and refused to move, like the stubborn animal that it was.

“Get a load of this” Mac griped with a scowl.

“Come here, ‘muley’. Come here” coaxed Chevy with a whistle and a snap of his fingers. No good, as the donkey stared straight past them.

“Aw, that’s no good. It’s too stupid to listen to that”

“Hey, maybe he’ll follow some food” came Luke, remembering how he’d seen farmers overcome this problem.

“Sounds like a sure plan. Go get something” nodded Mac.

“Yeah, go find some other food to feed the big guy” Chevy added.

Luke halted. “What do you mean ‘other food’? What about the food we brought with us?”

“You know I can’t work good on an empty stomach” attested Chevy.

“All of it?”

“All of it” Chevy affirmed with a small smirk. He quite enjoyed his lunch.

Mac grit his teeth and clinched Chevy’s tunic into his fist. “And I suppose you work good with a full stomach, huh?” blasted Mac from behind Chevy with a shove. “Too bad none of that food ever goes to your brain!”

“Well, I just-”

“What now?” wondered Luke.

“Time to kick things into gear. I’m not waiting around for some dead-weight, farm fodder to decide on its future” Mac huffed and rolled up his sleeves.

He marched behind the donkey at promptly kicked it in the rear. If it retaliated with a kick of its own, he could live with that. Just so long the animal didn’t ignore him anymore. But to his shock, it didn’t even react. He tried again. And again. Nothing improved, especially Mac’s patience. He growled out of pure spite and faced the donkey.

“Still got some rocks in your brain, have you? Boys, heave!” Mac ordered and grabbed the bit straps around the donkey’s head. He began yanking, only to be joined by the other two who yanked on Mac.

“What creativity…” the sarcastic Luke mumbled to himself.

Several minutes of strained grunts later were not enough to produce any progress. Needless to say, that none of the three men possessed the physical prowess needed to overpower a five hundred plus pound animal. The donkey sat comfortable in its place, hardly bothered by the men’s efforts.

“Listen you, you’re leaving this cave whether you like it or not!” Mac snarled through gritted teeth.

Luke never cared for physical labor and was also growing disgruntled. “Come on, you bloated bale of hay”

“Yeah, now you’re talking” Mac complimented the spark of fire in Luke.

“I think liked him better as a statue” Chevy wheezed behind them.

Eventually, they stopped to catch their breaths and alleviate their blistering hands.

“I’m dry on ideas. You?” said Luke.

“I’ll bring the whole damn wagon in here to tow him out if I need to” Mac glared at the donkey.

“Wait a minute. We were supposed to deliver it to the farmer in one piece, you know?” griped Luke.

“When did we agree to that?” Chevy rubbed his sore hands together.

Luke rolled his eyes. “Of course, he wants it back alive. Why else would he send us to get it?”

Chevy shrugged. “I thought he’d turn it into hamburgers or something. It doesn’t seem to be good for much else”. As usual, Chevy thought with his stomach first.

“That doesn’t sound like a bad idea right now” sneered Mac, still staring at the donkey who he was developing a grudge toward.

Luke rubbed his chin. “You know, donkeys don’t stay stubborn forever. So maybe if we just ignore it for a while it’ll-”

“M-M-Mac!” came Chevy’s stuttering scream.

“Quiet back there. You want that snakes-for-brains Medusa to find us?” Mac warned Chevy with his focus still on the donkey.

“Mac… uh, Mac!” Luke’s shouts followed Chevy’s.

This time, Mac turned to face them and their wide-eyed expressions. “Shut up. This is no time for a duet. What’re-” he stopped. When Mac looked in the same direction as them, he went just as wide-eyed as they were.

Approaching them was the blue-scaled Medusa, slithering up a staircase off to the side that they’d had their backs toward. The snakes in her hair, which were bound into two pig tails, were flailing over one another in the direction of the men. They appeared agitated but were drawn by the desire to touch all three of them. The Medusa, meanwhile, was confused at the sight of intruders, but then shifted to alarm once she saw the donkey back in the flesh.

“Oh no. Why did you set him free!?” she protested as her lips puckered into a pouty grimace. She glared at the men but did not invoke her petrification power.

“Crap…” Mac murmured, managing to suppress his dread. “Get the blindfolds! Quick!”

“Way ahead of you!” Luke was already retrieving his blindfold. Chevy copied his comrades.

While the boys knotted the cloths around the back heads, the donkey had also spotted the Medusa. It may have been a dumb animal, but it remembered to fear the Medusa. It hopped up and proceeded to run and buck wildly around the area trying to escape. It kicked chunks of wall and furniture around. Some of it almost hit the Medusa who managed to duck out of the way.

All three men had just blinded themselves when the donkey’s commotion sent them running. They tripped and fumbled around as best they could for the exit, like the donkey, but to no avail. For them, anywhere but there was preferred. While the Medusa watched the scene in bewilderment, the donkey accidentally rammed its heavy body into a wall. It proved too much for the brittle support arches holding the floor above as they trembled in place before giving way. Several sections of the second floor came crashing down on top of them all. Once the falling rocks had stopped, the three men laid amongst the rubble groaning with nothing more than bumps, bruises, and dizziness. The chaos had ended up separating them, and with the blindfolds on, figuring out where they were was troublesome.

The only one who trotted away fine was the donkey.

Chevy lifted himself up first. This was far from the first time he’d received blows on the head, so he wasn’t too bad. However, he was seeing stars, even though the blindfold as he stumbled around. Soon it wore off.

“Hey Mac! Hey Luke! Where are you!?” he called out and, in his blindness, felt around with his hands.

Then he heard some stone being moved and an indistinct moan. He wandered over in its direction and reached out. Then he felt something. It was a hand, so he took it in his. “Gee, am I glad to see you… well, sort of. Who is this? Luke or Mac?” he asked, relieved to not be by himself anymore.

There was no answer, but a second hand took his other hand into theirs.

“Good, you’re both here. Come on, let’s beat it” Chevy led the way in search of the exit.

He maneuvered his way through the now cluttered hall, crawling over and under debris when needed. Over the next several minutes, he thought he was making great progress. But with the blindfold on, he was oblivious to the fact that he had been going in a large circle around the room. Still, he never let go of the hand behind him.

“Next time, we’d better bring helmets, huh?” he rubbed his head.

Chevy wasn’t sure where he was going, nor did he even realize that he wasn’t sure. Often his body acted before his brain did. But as long as he had Mac and Luke with him, he had a level of comfort. Especially right now, as he was surprised by how good their hands felt inside his own.

Next thing he knew, he stubbed his toe on some debris. “Ow-ow. Boy, I wish we didn’t have to wear these stupid things. It’d be easier to get out of here. And I wouldn’t mind getting another look at that snake girl. Hubba-hubba, she sure was pretty, wasn’t she?” Chevy daydreamed about the Medusa. As brief as it was, she left an impression on him. Even a simple mind could remember her pristine facial features and her split bra which showed off her slim but ample build. Though it was often the case that his thin focus steered him away from what was obvious, such as how she was half snake and dangerous. “Oh well. As long as we’re not getting lost in circles, I’m okay”

At that moment, Chevy’s leadership was pulled to a halt by the hands behind him. By turning around, he expected to get castigated by Mac. What he did not expect was for his mouth to get pecked by what he assumed were lips. Chevy’s brain took a moment to react, but when he did, a bashful smile arose on his lips. That level of affection had been new to him, so it was an instinctive reaction. But when his typically slow logic caught up with him, it enlightened him that neither Mac nor Luke would do such a thing. So who?

With his curiosity getting the better of him, Chevy left himself defenseless and unable to stop his blindfold from being seized from his head.

It was the Medusa.

In spite of his previous words, Chevy’s eyes bulged, and his throat tightened, choking out to much circulation in his brain to form articulate words. “Y- You- Nyaaah!” he shrieked and fumbled his finger up to a pointing posture. Now that he was no longer daydreaming, Chevy wasn’t lost so much in her enticing features to overlook how much her serpentine features creeped him out- particularly her hair-turned snakes that reached out to touch him.

Now with their gazes locked, the Medusa’s yellow eyes illuminated with a glow as bright as the sun. The terror-stricken Chevy was turned to stone before he could even think to call for Mac and Chevy’s help; or even drop his pointing arm.

After her eyes died down, she sighed. At first, she was livid now that her home was in shambles yet again. But for some reason, unknown to the Medusa, her mood had quickly cooled to a mild annoyance. She slithered over and inspected Chevy’s stone form. He was far from possessing the handsome features she held in such high regards, nor did he have anything approaching dignity. However, he wasn’t without a small amount of charm. At least, she kept telling herself that it was ‘small’. Just like kissing him felt ‘a little nice’.

She leaned in close to his head. “You’re a little cute, I suppose. For now, this’ll hold you until I clean this place up” she crossed her arms. ‘Maybe this fool is more of a romantic than a thinker’ she thought to herself. She decided to give him a chance, regardless of the trouble he helped cause. She went to back away, but the defiant snakes on her head had latched onto Chevy’s solid face and attempted to force the Medusa into another kiss. She let out an aggravated moan and jerked herself free, along with her insubordinate appendages. It was stubborn insistence on her part to clean up her lounging area or try to salvage what she could.

At least the rest of the keep wasn’t affected by the cave in. Especially the bedroom.

Despite living in a ruined castle-keep, the Medusa was quite tidy with her lair. When that ornery donkey charged its way in a few days ago and began bucking the place to pieces, she was unscrupulous in stopping the beast by turning it to stone. However, her first thought was to remove all the broken furniture and fallen stone walls. Such a task was so time consuming that she had neglected to drag the stoned donkey out into the nearby field where the stone spell could wear off. A negligence that she regretted now that these scoundrels had allowed the animal to continue its havoc worse than before.

Next, she begun contemplating what she should do with the other two men. She was pondering where they had wound up when Mac sprung out from above and landed in front of her. He seized a handful of her normal hair and blindly slapped a dust-covered strip of Arachne web he had in his pocket right smack onto the Medusa’s face, into her eyes.

She squealed, more in shock than in pain, but nevertheless, recoiled and yanked at the sticky strip to free her throbbing eyes.

“Got you, didn’t I?” Mac gloated with a smug smirk when he knew he hit his mark. “An eye for an-”

But his pleasure was shattered when her snake hair sunk their fangs into his hand. Like a fox caught in a trap, Mac began squawking and hopping around, but the ever-cheeky snakes refused to let go. And with their fangs holding a tighter grip this time, Mac would not have the same luck to free himself as the Medusa had previously.

Soon, Mac was yanking the Medusa in a circle. And between the pain from Mac dragging her around like a caveman and the gunk assaulting her eyes, she yelled out orders to stop him. However, her hollers and pleas of reason failed to reach higher than his own, and thus, had no effect.

Meanwhile, Mac was beginning to panic. What else could he do now?

“Luke! Luke- ow!” he yelped.

On the other side of the room, he heard Luke. “That you, Mac!? Where are you!?”

“Don’t ask stupid questions! Ow! Get over here!” he raged and bit his thumb to cope with the pain. Getting another thought, he then tried biting the snakes, but one only latched onto his nose. “Ow! Get- Hurry up, will you!?” yelled Mac now in a higher pitch voice than before.

All the screaming made it simple for Luke to find them, even with the blindfold on. When he approached, he took a quick peek to assess the situation. Mac flailing about with a handful and nose-full of serpents, while the Medusa coiled and thrashed her long body to try reason with the frenzied Mac. He also noted the stoned Chevy off to the side.

Luke had no plan whatsoever but rushed over.

His tactics were no less advanced than Mac’s were. They didn’t have enough hands to pry all the snakes off at once before they bit him again. The only thing that managed to be freed was Mac’s nose. But his ranting and raving continued, blocking out the protests of the Medusa.

“Ow-ouch! That’s me, you ‘lamebrain’!” Mac cursed as Luke twisted one of his fingers back by accident.

“Sorry! I’m trying. This is a major knot!” he apologized.

“Well try harder!”

With two equally stubborn sides, something had to give. And the Medusa’s patience was at an end.

Mac was considering biting his own arm off when the Medusa had finally had enough of this predicament and swung her massive tail at them. The collision was more than enough to break Mac free send him ten feet away, along with Luke. Even if her snake appendages had, in a way, taken matters into their own hands, she nevertheless consoled them like a mother, to which they licked her in return. Then she returned to her eyes, tearing the strip off and working on clearing them.

Meanwhile, the grumbling Mac pushed Luke off top of him and got up. Mac tried wagging the pain out of his throbbing hand. He also made a quick count to make sure that he still had all his digits. “Why those dirty- I ought to drag her to a barber for a scalp-job” seethed Mac at the preoccupied Medusa. “Great, I think I’m poisoned…”

The Medusa almost had the urge to clarify how she possessed no such poison. But she was too miffed for formalities.

“Really? Neat. Save me some of it. I may just use-” Luke said before a sudden bump to the head stopped him, courtesy of Chevy’s stoned arm, which stumbled him right back onto the ground.

“What-?”

Mac tripped over Luke and tumbled forward but caught himself on Chevy’s statue. It wasn’t long before he realized that it wasn’t just a rock; a realization that had him groaning hard. He had spent enough years with Chevy and Luke to recognize either of them under any circumstances. Be it their smell or just finding their incompetent handiwork, it was like a beacon for Mac.

“Always getting into trouble” he muttered. Mac’s only regret was that he couldn’t yank Chevy by the ear at that moment. “Come on, help me with this ‘boulder-brain’ before we’re a three-piece set”

Lucky for them, the Medusa had her hands full in trying to clear up her eyes. Even with her snake hair offering their assistance, there was nothing she could do to stop them from carrying off their third member.

Lifting the statue was no easy task for the two. Chevy was already the heaviest of the three, even before the petrification added to his weight. They floundered the load through the crumbling maze in desperate search for the door, tumbling down more than a handful of times.

“I can’t wait until we chisel this bum back to normal” Mac grunted and lifted the statue back up after yet another fall. He was building an increasing list of dressing-downs with Chevy’s name on it.

“Nobody listened to me when I said we should buy another bottle of medicine. Would’ve saved us from fumbling blind for a way out” Luke complained, knowing that he might incur Mac’s wrath, but was too gassed to care.

“If this button-faced baboon would’ve looked where he was going, then we wouldn’t have needed another potion, and we could have been out of here by now” he hissed.

Such a contradictory statement had stumped Luke, but as he thought about it, he realized something. “Hey wait… I don’t think we have to wear these stupid things anymore”

“Why not?”

“If she has that stuff in her eyes, how could she turn us to stone?”

“…Good thinking” Mac dropped the statue and un-blinded himself. He then picked Chevy right back up and resumed, rather than dwell on why he didn’t think of that himself. “Now let’s get out of here”

Seeing again helped them scamper out of the ruins and back to the wagon-train with the statue in tow. Mac drooled at the thought of how valuable the shining arm bands on the Medusa must have been. But he couldn’t sucker Luke into going back for them, so he threw the thought out of his head.

The two panting men were reminded of their true mission when they found the donkey munching on a berry bush nearby, without a care in the world. It paid them no mind as they glared daggers at it for all the trouble that it had caused for them. As peeved as they were, they tempered themselves and tore out most of the berry bush which they used to lure the animal into its quarters for the ride back. In this case, the cabin.

They were long gone by the time the Medusa washed her eyes clean. ‘It’s just as well. They would’ve made lousy husbands anyway’ she thought to herself, swollen with pride. He snake hair was not quite so adamant, as they stared and reached out toward the direction the men escaped to.

—–

Delivering the donkey back into the farmer’s hands also proved to be aggravating since the donkey obeyed its owner without question or hassle of any kind. But true to the farmer’s word, he loaded up a generous supply of grain and milk into their wagon-train before they set out for home.

“What do we do with ‘stoney’ here?” Luke knocked on the side of Chevy’s hard head.

“Stick him in the garden until he mellows out. Then it’s back to business” Mac sneered, taking a bite of bread. He didn’t want to spend any more cash for another anti-petrification potion.

Naturally, he was going to give Chevy a good, harsh piece of his mind before work resumed. After all, he sure missed having the big ol’ dummy around.

—–

Author’s note: Hope you’ve been enjoying the story so far. I will release the next five chapters when they are done. Sorry that you have to wait.

1 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 5 (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.
Loading...
217 Views

2 thoughts on “The Middle Men Ch.5

    1. Well, technically, they’re brothers, so there’s no romance between them. But no matter how grumpy or self-centered Mac can be, he’d never leave them.

Leave a Reply