In HIS Image

In HIS Image

Posted on April 10, 2024 at 11:59 pm by Darin Zion

“The truth is, we all face hardships of some kind, and you never know the struggles a person is going through. Behind every smile, there’s a story of a personal struggle.”

-Adrienne C. Moore

It’s time I address the truth head-on. Growing up, I’ve always been drawn to the world of theater. The ability to assume different roles, donning various costumes, and portraying characters fascinated me. However, behind the facade of each performance lies a hidden struggle.  When you’re watching someone play a character like Jared Padalecki does; you never get to see the personal demons they struggle fighting.

From battling depression to grappling with addiction, everyone faces their own demons. Despite striving to be the ideal son, I’ve faltered lately. I committed a cardinal sin in this industry going quiet on my father. At the time, I couldn’t pinpoint my emotions, but now I recognize a transformation stirring deep within my soul.

Abraham Maslow once said, “In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” It’s easy to hide from one’s father, a theme echoed in biblical tales like that of the prodigal son. I’ve felt akin to that story in recent years, yearning for acceptance upon my return to glory.

However, the glitz of the wrestling world masks one’s constant struggles.  Consistent losses to former rivals weigh heavily on me.  Memories of my past triumphs haunt my mind, contrasting sharply to my current reality.  Now we approach the Pay-Per-View period that constantly plagues my conscience.

In 2016, Jace Parker Davidson drove his boot straight into my skull and changed my trajectory forever.  Now, I’m forced to smile and play the obedient servant to a man I loathe.  It’s a true testament on the descent of my hopes and dreams.

It’s time to channel my resentment and embrace my anger.  Let it all fuel my drive and dreams to win and conquer War Games and become the HOW World Champion.  As for my opponent Lexi, it’s time for her to face the same harsh realities I face daily.  Truly, I commend her passion for wrestling, but her innocence blinds her to the cold, hard truth of HOW.  She’ll soon learn the harsh realities of this business first hand when she steps in the ring to face me.

I’ll shatter her illusions, expose her to the corruptions and wickedness that propels the MACHINE forward.  Every blow I deliver to her will serve as a wake-up call; a reminder of the brutality GOD craves.  I’ll unleash all the weight of my burdens on her.  She will re-live all the pain I’ve endured during my HOW tenure, forced to confront her own vulnerabilities.

When Lexi and I collide in that ring; I’m not doing it as Lee’s personal puppet.  I’ll be his harbinger of doom, a symbol of his reckoning to come.  Lexi will be the first casualty of these NERDS who refuse to respect my Father’s house.  She will become a casualty of her own naivety.  Evolve or let the MACHINE consume your pathetic soul.

Those are your only two options, you fuckin’ marks.

There is no room for hesitation, no time for self-reflection.  It’s time for actions and results.  Make your choice or I’ll make it for you.

You can embrace the cold hard truth of the machine or become another nerd sacrificed at GOD’S ALTAR.

At Chaos, I’m offering you a glimpse of what your GOD has planned for War Games this year.  Rest assured; I won’t squander the opportunity to break any nerd in my path to satisfy my father.  Like a dutiful son, I’ll execute HIS will and havoc on the NERD masses.  Witness what awaits you worthless plebs when I make your temporary PWA hero Lexi Gold submit to GOD’s will.

By the end of the night; I will make all you nerds revere the GOD of HOW.

==========

Stepping out of the hospital, Zion’s head droops, his gaze fixed on the ground. Thoughts of his past errors burden him heavily, evident in the slump of his shoulders. A frown creases his brow as the memory of Jace’s attack on his adopted replays incessantly in his mind. With clenched fists, Zion strikes the wall before him, frustration and anger evident. He mutters underneath his breath

“I could have fuckin’ prevent all this shit from happening.  I could have won the LBI…”

Zion comes to the realizations dwelling on “what ifs” won’t propel his career forward.  If he wants to honor his father, he must confront his problem head-on.  Evading the truth and succumbing to his depression will not make him a responsible son.  It makes him one of those cowardly nerds.

His veins throb while reminiscing on the musings of Lee Best.  He recalls the last conversation they shared before Lee’s tragic onslaught at the hands of JPD.  “Quit your bitchin’.  Put in some damn effort into yourself, fuckstick.  Get out of my GOD damn office.”

Zion harbors no desire to return to the mailroom again, especially after failing miserably at that job.  Yet the idea ignited a sense of pride missing in his work since 2016.  Deep down, Zion did not want to admit Lee gave him a newfound sense of purpose in his career.  But now he must use this opportunity to move up in the world.

“For fuck sakes, the things I do for love…” Zion silently mouthed to himself, making his way back to his one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Chicago.  Zion scarcely scanned his surroundings walking back.  His relentless third for revenge became his sole driving force.

Ascending the staircase to his apartment, he envisioned every form of pain he could inflict upon Jace Parker Davidson.  Gradually, that imagine morphs into his upcoming opponent Lexi Gold.  Clearly, she poses an immediate path to War Games.  She became the obstacle in his way to getting revenge.   Embracing his inner demons, Darin retrieve a #97Red collared shirt, a black suit coat and trousers, white bow tie, and aviator sun glasses; hastily throwing them on.

He needs to attend to a crucial meeting, addressing his father’s business on any remaining matters.  Flexing his knuckles, he confidently asserts “Time to get to business.”

==========

Zion’s limousine arrives at the renowned Mastro’s Steakhouse.  Paparazzi swam him immediately, snapping pictures like crazed fans.  His absence from the spotlight became noticeable to many, prompting curiosity from the media.  It’s not in Zion’s nature to shy away from attention, especially when he could drum up sympathy using Lee’s name.

Zion strolls to the front door, disregarding all the flashes and incessant questioning.  He’s become a pro at tuning out the background noise from the plebs in media.  He must attend to important matters in a more private setting.  Navigating past the hostess station, Darin proceeds towards a secluded room with a crimson door sequestered in the back.  Only the most Chicago’s most influential could aspire to host a meeting in that space.

Pushing the door open with a sense of assurance, Zion strides towards a table where his longtime servant Bartholomew patiently awaits.  His hands clasped together eagerly anticipate Zion’s presence.  Darin nods, taking his seat, ready to engage in a confidential discussion.  Bartholomew gestures towards Darin, who leans in, fully engaging the conversation.

As Darin pulls up his seat, his manservant sternly reprimands him.  “You’re fortunately Lee holds you in such high regard.  Otherwise, I’d have personally presented him your head on a silver platter.  A mere snap of my fingers and his EPU guard would have tracked you down.”

Darin begins to stammer out excuses left and right. “I-I-I’m a little consumed by my father’s current state.  I’ve been stricken with grief.  I never intended to ghost his business—”

Before Zion completes his thoughts, Bartholomew interrupts him abruptly, demanding silence.  His commanding British accent resonates with a piercing, deep bass tone, piercing Zion’s ears.  “Take some ownership over your actions, you wretch child.  For God sakes you’re now a man.  Lee wouldn’t deal with your bullshit as you represent his Final Alliance.”

Zion crosses his arms over his chest, nodding to his friend.  After briefly struggling, he absorbs the information he heard, meeting his mentor’s gaze squarely.  “You’re goddamn right.  It’s about time for me to mature.  I can easily flaunt the fact Lee handpicked me out of obscurity.   I could coast off that fact alone.  However, that’s disrespecting the considerable effort he’s put into cultivating my renaissance. “

Zion reaches for the glass of wine beside him, swirling it gently before taking a sip.  He reclines back in his plush velvet chair, mulling over his next options.  “I need to make a statement before my match this week.  I can’t let anyone perceive any weaknesses heading into War Games.  I will not settle for anything less than a full victory this year.”

Bartholomew’s attention sharpens, sensing a significant departure in Zion’s demeanor.  With his hands folded, he leans forward, allowing Zion to lead the conversation.  “Honestly, I’ve grown weary of being treated like a doormat by the entire world.  I can’t keep embracing naivety, accepting it as my only stance.  I need to crush one of my enemies for some training.  I need to harden that tender heart of mine.”

“Thought you’d never ask…” Bartholmew exclaims before sliding Master Zion a blurry, greyscale photograph captured at a nearby warehouse.  The image immediately piques Zion’s interests, prompting a wide grind to spread across his face.  Darin recognizes a familiar enemy and begins to hang on every word Bartholomew speaks.

“I may have pulled some string with some of the lowest-ranked EPU guards to secure this ‘assignment’ for you.  Thought you’d appreciate the opportunity for real-time target practice on some old rivals…”

Zion rubs his hands together, his excitement palpable as he revels at this unexpected opportunity.  His eyes begin gleaming as he motions for Bartholomew to join, eager to seize this business opportunity.  It gives him to shed the last vestiges of his innocence, seeing the world just like his father does.

Zion’s eager to remove this off his to-do list and step straight into the future his adoptive father gave him.

==========

We cut to a dimly lit, frigid room, where visible wisps of cold hair hang in the air.  Four imposing EPU guards encircle a man dressed in a crisp business suit.  This man is bound to the chair, mouth sealed shut with duct tape.  He shivers uncontrollably while his eyes betraying a mix of fear and resignation as he awaits his certain fate.  Suddenly, the heavy steps of thick boots reverberate through these hallowed chambers, signaling Darin Zion’s arrival. All four EPU guards stand by Zion and Bartholomew’s size.  Darin forcefully rips the tape sealing the man’s mouth, causing this mystery man to yelp out in plead.

Suddenly, the gravity of the situation dawns while he locks eyes with his old friend who is giving him a piercing glare.  He cowers as Zion removes his suitcoat as cracks his knuckles, withdrawing a set of brass knuckles.  Wasting no time, Darin taunts his hold friend while he winces in fear.

“My old pal Jarome Owens” Darin begins with a sly grin curling on his lips.  “It’s amusing how our circumstances have changed.  It’s fitting that the last time we crossed paths you attempted injure me in hopes of derailing my career.  My how the tables have turned.”

Jarome’s voice trembles with fear.  He desperately pleads with Zion to spare him.  His body begins to quake while trying to reason with his buddy.  “P-P-P-Please man, show mercy.  Delilah can’t feed my family alone.  You can’t allow me to abandon them and fend for themselves.  I’ve got 6 mouths to feed.”

Ziow bellows at the top of his lungs, “You didn’t give a damn when I needed to support Meredith and Lexi.  You didn’t care about the consequences of your actions, nor about my future.  I needed to help them and aid them when I was a provider.  No, all you cared about was how you’d line your own damn pockets with blood money.”

A single tear trickles down Jarome’s cheek, his heart heavy with the realization he’s starring down his inevitable demise.  He makes one last plea for his life.  “My bad man, people make mistakes.  I’ve grown since those days.  I beg you spare my life…”

Zion’s sinister laughter echoes through the void as he fixes his eyes on Jarome.  They flicker to his brass knuckles, and a sadistic smile twists across his face.  “Oh, I’m not killing you.  I want you to live and tell the tale, Jarome.  I want everyone to see what I’ve done to you and how I’ve ruined your life.  I need you to spread the Gospel of GOD through the streets of Chicago.  What I’m about to do to you is a fate worse than death my friend.”

Zion cocks back Jarome’s head and nails him across the jaw multiple times with the weapon, continually fracturing the jaw and knocking him out.  He snaps his fingers and the EPU clean up the mess.

“Come Chaos, I’ll make everyone including Lexi a believer.  Now I am becoming HIS IMAGE.”