The flight deck of the USS Octane was rapidly transforming before Clay’s eyes. The ring had finally started to take ship. Each piece being diligently put in place by the swarm. That’s what Clay had begun referring to the crew of the aircraft carrier as. Clay had really only encountered them at meals, and of course, right now. At meals they entered the cafeteria like a swarm of locusts. Devouring everything in site.
This trip across the big pond wasn’t like any other trip for the USS Octane. With Refueled happening this week, the majority of The Alliance had taken up residence. Being Lee’s hired cronies, the men of The Alliance weren’t subjected to the crew very often. Or more properly, the crew wasn’t subjected to the men of The Alliance.
On the backend of the flight deck, Clay could see the cordoned off area that Sektor and Jatt had claimed as their own. The two beach chairs, an umbrella, and the kiddy pool showed how seriously they were taking their week off. Jiles lurked below decks, being commanded around by Laser at every opportunity, Harrison was somewhere on this boat preparing his newest product to shill. He had only briefly seen JPD and Madison arrive to the ship, they were probably somewhere in the bowels of the Octane planning their next arson. Somewhere Solex was making sure the baby oil was fully stocked.
It had become a home away from home for The Alliance. The vices and depravity followed them like a traveling circus. Clay stood at the front of the boat, still amazed by the sheer size of the floating city. Clay turned away from the flight deck staring into the Pacific Ocean. The day was picturesque, the sun beating down and glistening off the waves. Clay watched as the waves crashed against the hull of the enormous ship, moments turned into seconds, seconds turned into minutes. The scene was almost hypnotic as The Behemoth finally took an instant to look away from the water to check on the progress of the ring.
He needed to feel it, he needed to touch it, he needed to know it, rings on land normally had a feel to them. The ship’s ever so slight movement was enough to concern The Monster from Plainview though. He’d fought on the Octane three times during the DeNucci Cup, but that was a cage. There wasn’t any running the ropes when the walls are made of steel, and Clay needed to stand in it.
Clay thought back to the teachings of Robert Byrd, a specific lesson that he had dismissed in passing decades ago. “Always have a second pair of boots for wrasslin’ outside.” Clay smirked as he imagined the old man seeing where his son was wrestling this week. That specific lesson pertained to The Texas State Fair, not an aircraft carrier. Even though Clay had dismissed it he’d always done it out of habit. He thought of his father showing him how to ruin the wrestling boots as the two sat at a picnic table in the old barn. The small grip tape fragments applied with absurd amounts of super glue was the technology then.
Now? Apparently the answer was a can of spray on nonslip surface finishing. At least that’s what the young kids had told him they were using. Wrestling had changed in thirty years, the technology advanced so quickly. Gone were the small apple computers and Oregon trail in the computer lab, and hello to smart phones that were more powerful than space probes from the same time period.
The world had changed before both he and Robert’s eyes. Decades of experience rendered mute, or insignificant in seconds. The innovation didn’t only happen in technology, it had happened in the ring as well. Now the ropes were for diving through or off of, the technicians now could spin you in knots quicker than you could blink. The world moved on in wrestling, it advanced, went to the next level, the next step.
Except for monsters. The monsters hadn’t needed advances, the physical freaks, the genetic oddities, they didn’t need to move with the times. The times needed to move for them. The style Clay had been taught to wrestle hadn’t changed in decades, sure there were some slight tweaks made over time, but nothing drastic.
As Clay watched them put the finishing touches on the ring he continued to stand on his quiet part of the deck. He needed the quiet, the calmness. Clay believed in manifestation, that if you worked towards something, imagined it happening over and over again, worked even harder, you could make something actually happen.
He had manifested this opportunity for the LSD Championship. By going to war time and time again for GOD, by putting in the effort, by working his ass off the bodies kept dropping. It took colossal effort. And here was the opportunity, the reward for the work and the pain. It had been dropped into his lap, perhaps a little early by GOD, but that was the reason to join The Alliance.
The opportunities came to you, it was your job to deliver.
As the ring construction finally wrapped up, Clay approached The Swarm slowly. One of them in their 97Red uniform approached Clay waving his arms, shouting something about nobody touching the ring. Clay didn’t fucking care, his monstrous hand palmed the mans entire face as he shoved him to the laminated steel flooring of the flight deck. Watching the first one drop, The Swarm backed away from The Behemoth. Letting the giant hop up onto the apron.
“Wipe your feet” Robert’s voice echoed in his mind as he slid his feet along the apron before entering the squared circle. The Monster from Plainview gingerly felt his way around the ring. He watched for movement on the deck, the seas were calm, but Clay knew that could change. He imagined the boat rocking slightly, during the match, could that be enough to take a high impact move like a spear off kilter? Could that slight movement be what could saveTeddy Palmer?
He had to let the doubts go, he had to let the weak minded thoughts find their way out before he could continue. If the sea was choppy, or if it was wet he’d only use the ropes as a weapon. Reduce something as simple as footing becoming a colossal issue.
Clay yanked on the 97red top rope, giving it a hard pull, he drifted back into manifesting the moment. The exact second he’d send the soul of Teddy Palmer to the boatman at the river styx with a lariat.
“And in the personal column! There was a letter I read!”
Clay grimaced as Jatt Starr’s bellowing could be heard getting louder. The women of ill repute that he and Sektor had brought on the boat had formed a congo line. Sektor in the forefront.
“If you like piña coladas! And gettin caught in the rain!”
Clay turned towards the commotion, the snarl on his face obvious through his beard and his furrowed brows. Jatt stopped, his open Hawaiian shirt blowing in the breeze, his frozen piña colada at the ready.
“Oh come on Clay, you’ve been brooding on this deck all morning! Come down and have a drink with Sek and The Jattalonian Giant!” Jatt shouted as he and the women resumed the conga line and turned back towards the kiddie pool and beach chairs. “Where was I girls? Oh yeah, if you’re not into yoga!”
“That fuck has half a brain fer sure,” Clay mumbled as he watched the parade of degeneracy travel back down the flight deck. Just as Jatt had cleared shouting distance He noticed The Swarm, approaching the ring area again, and he sighed. He needed time to himself on this boat, and there was only one place to get that. He dropped to his back sliding out of the ring, and stormed into the abyss of the USS Octane lower levels. Clay quickly brushed away a tooth brush holding Laser as he continued on his warpath to his own room.
After what seemed like the most painful ten minutes of Clay’s life, Harrison popping out of a room with a horse shoe idea for merchandise, watching JPD block the hallway with a giant crate, Jiles walking around probably torched out of his skull looking for a fern, Clay had finally had enough. He slammed the door to his room and finally sat alone. It would take The Behemoth hours to regain his focus, to regain his composure.
Are you scared? I’ll be honest with you, this morning I was scared.
I wasn’t scared of your finisher, I wasn’t scared of your technique, I wasn’t scared of your technical prowess or your mental prowess for that matter. I wasn’t scared that even after being off the hooch for a year you could beat me in a whiskey drinkin’ competition. I’m not scared of you bein’ able ta lift me for an unscripted, Ted, I don’t fear anythin’ ‘bout ya.
What I feared Ted, what I feared was the small things, the details. Puttin’ the bows on my plans, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s if ya will. Nothin’ is left ta chance, nothin’ that could possibly be planned fer is forgotten. Each small detail, each intricate piece ta the puzzle of our match, is ironed out ahead of time.
That’s cause I’m a smart man Ted. As much as this accent and my size leaves people reachin’ fer the dunce cap, it’s simply not true Ted. I’m an enormous man Ted, I outweigh you by sixty pounds, I’m half a foot taller than ya are. I’m an athletic freak, I take care of myself. Even bein’ trapped on this boat in the land of misfits I’ve managed ta limit the distractions Ted.
I’ll ask ya again Ted.
Are ya scared?
Cause ya fuckin’ should be.
Yer my only focus Ted, the only thing runnin’ through my mind. I wake up thinkin’ of what I’m goin’ ta do today ta hurt Ted Palmer. I go fer my jog, start eatin’ breakfast, and think what can I do next today ta hurt Ted Palmer. Hurting ya has consumed me Ted. Every neural pathway is firing in one direction, every thought. Ted, much like Ms. Troy I can’t seem ta get ya off of my mind.
Yer a tricky lil belle aren’t ya?
Have yer ears been burnin’?
They should be. Cause I just can’t get ya off my mind.
Do ya think of me the way I think of ya?
I think of the moment I beat ya, and take that title off of your ashes every chance I get. When I eliminate the flame that fires Ted Palmer. Just like Cecilworth did last year, when I snuff ya out will ya crawl away? Will ya find the bottle and leave Ms. Troy and her band of idiots behind? I can have one o them bottles dropped off at yer dressin’ room tomorrow, just in case ya need it fer after the show. Just incase the bottle of Canadian Club is yer real true love.
I’ll ask ya again Ted, are ya scared?
Every addict I’ve ever met had let fear conquer them. The fear of the next moment, the next temptation, the next incident. They didn’t have the mental fortitude, they didn’t have the fuckin’ discipline ta control the small things Ted. They couldn’t walk away from booze and beautiful women, they couldn’t handle the smallest temptations.
Ted, that’s who ya are at your very core.
That’s what ya are, and there’s no escapin’ it.
Yer a creature of fear, a bein’ of panic, a human crippled by anxiety, that’s yer existence. And what yer scared of Ted? What yer fear is? The impulse of the dependency, Ted, Saturday night when yer liftin’ yer head off of a cold steel bed in the Octane’s medical facility and ya realize everythin’ that just transpired. That ya don’t have the LSD Championship anymore, that ya weren’t strong enough ta avenge Ms. Troy, that Clay Byrd was Superman’s kryptonite. When all those things come rushin’ back inta yer concussed brain, there’s only one thing that can soothe the hurt, the pain, the agony.
It’s goin’ ta be the bottle Ted.
Saturday at Refueled Ted we fight the battle over yer soul. I’ll be placin’ the ultimate temptation in front of ya Ted. Yer worst fuckin’ fear.
Are ya scared now, Ted?
Like I told ya the first time Ted, this is my opportunity. This is my chance ta make an impression fer the first time in fifteen fuckin’ years Ted I will accomplish somethin’ of actual fuckin’ significance. This is the most important moment in my life Ted. I care more about this opportunity and this chance ta take that next step more than anythin’.
I have the discipline ta distance myself from the distractions Ted. I have the discipline ta remove myself from poor situations, I’m not gonna stay up late talkin’ ta Ms. Troy on the telephone. I’m not gonna sip a diet coke dreamin’ of somethin’ different. I’m not gonna end up on twitter makin’ stupid fuckin’ decisions.
Ted I’m fuckin’ different than ya are. Because I’m a better fuckin’ man than you. I’m a stronger fuckin’ man than you, and I’m a better fucking wrestler than you.
Clay sat in silence. His back against the cold steel of the USS Octane, leaning back, thinking.
A storm rocks the USS Octane, the lightning crashes over head while the two men continued to battle. Each moment in the ring is shown in flashes, Clay stood over Teddy who was on his back in the guard position. Clay rained down punches, looking for the moment to end the fight the moment to end the battle.
Teddy Palmer was like lightning, slipping his leg up over and behind Clay’s head. He caught the arm in one fluid motion and pulled back grimacing. Clay roared as Teddy tightened his grip, he continued to struggle. Each moment turned into seconds. The oxygen supply from Clay’s brain began to fade out quicker than a southern gasoline crisis. This moment, this opportunity, he’d given up his integrity, he’d sold himself out for this exact moment…
He wouldn’t let it pass, the rain had made him slick, the boat rocked with the wave, and Clay was out. A stunned Teddy Palmer quickly found the raining fists careening off his skull again. Clay pulled Palmer to his knees, diving with a lariat. Teddy’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, his mouth slacked open. Clay pulled him up and crushed him one more time, to make sure.
Clay smiled, the silence finally allowing him his moment.
“That’ll do… That’ll do…”