by Hydrargentium

When he opened his eyes, everything had turned black.

Mason only had a moment to wonder if everyone else was blind before something smashed into the side of his head hard enough to make him see stars.

He shook his head, vague thoughts about functioning optic nerves mingling with an acute awareness of the sound of heavy steps off to one side. It was the same side that just got pounded.

Mason dropped flat, then started rolling — toward his attacker. Something like a size fifteen combat boot caught him in the ribs. He gasped at the pain. He hadn’t cracked a rib since high school football.

At least they were on the same footing, he and his assailant. What sounded like a half-ton bag of potatoes hit the hardwood a few feet away.

Crossing his fingers that the ribs were only cracked, and not broken, he shoved against the ground with one arm, and launched himself at the person he hoped was now sprawled on the floor.