The modern day human brain is a delicate thing. A person can have mental strength and be strong willed, but gather together the right ingredients and it will eventually snap. Our fight or flight instinct dates back to the caveman days. A predator would threaten the survival of our hairy ancestors, and the chemical mechanism triggered is to pump the body with enough adrenaline to either fight and kill the predator or to run away. Fast forward to modern times and the human race rarely has use for such mechanisms. Sure, a group of armed terrorists shooting up a concert will provoke that instinct to run and survive but that adrenaline is used up appropriately. Face a dangerous opponent in the ring who threatens to take your title or notch up a loss on your career record and again that adrenaline is put to good use. Thing is, when it comes to stress of the mind? The body uses the same mechanism, except there’s nowhere for that adrenaline to go. Sometimes it’s a singular trauma so severe that it festers away and eventually causes the demise of someone’s psyche. Most of the time it’s months and years of stress that no human is equipped to deal with over such a prolonged period of time. Eventually the mind can no longer cope, so something snaps. It could be the smallest event that finally tips someone over the edge but that’s all it takes. At this point, all the happy hormones are depleted and without rest or medication to plug the drain it will never recover. The brain shuts down and goes into a state of survival, seeking some way of coping.
Things have taken a turn for the strange for the Gold Standard recently. Very strange. But before we go stepping to the right, perhaps we should jump back to the left for a moment.
Losing to Zeb Martin hurt Sektor. It wasn’t the fact that he had lost to Zeb, although he did consider him to be an inbred moron. It was the means in which he had lost. He had allowed himself to be distracted by the presence of his daughter at ringside, who had recently kidded himself into thinking he had let go of. Now, as a result he and Jatt must defend the one thing he has left.
The Tag Team titles.
Every match feels like a means of survival to him these days. He’s trying to keep his name and legacy alive but up to now he feels like nothing more than a flop and failure. Now, more than ever, he is feeling the weight of pressure mounting on his shoulders. He doesn’t want to lose the Tag titles. He doesn’t want to let his partner down. More importantly? He doesn’t want to lose yet another match.
Sektor had always been his own worst critic. He always put himself under enormous pressure to perform because he believed so strongly that diamonds are forged under immense pressure. His history, his battles with addiction and injury as well as all the mental trauma he had been through in his life was all becoming too much for him. He knew something was wrong, but instead of doing the right thing and resting, removing himself from danger, he keeps walking forward and looking to fight through it.
The Gold Standard currently resides inside his luxury hotel room in Chicago, Illinois. He hadn’t left since his embarrassing defeat to Zeb Martin two weeks prior and was beginning to go stir crazy from the familiar surroundings of the room, as lucious as they are. The news of HOW heading back on the road for March to Glory was welcomed by Sektor, who had longed to travel again to give his mind some much needed stimulation and distraction. After all, it hadn’t been the easiest of starts for him in 2021.
He rubs his wet hair with a, white, hotel room towel as he steps out of the bathroom, clad in one of the hotel’s complimentary bathrobes which have been accessorised with the white slippers that come in clear plastic wrapping. His face sags with exhaustion, not from tiredness, but from the downbeat attitude he had been suffering lately. He’d spent the majority of the morning in the hotel gym, working up a sweat and pumping up the muscles in an attempt to get to himself in the best shape possible for his looming Tag title defence with Jatt. The other half of StarrSek Industries was due to arrive later in the afternoon for some food and to talk shop. Now fresh from the shower, he has a few hours to kill and relax before his enthusiastic and energy draining partner arrives.
As he rests his hands on the dressing table, he takes a good hard look at the man staring back at him in the mirror. The sideburns of his hair are greying, as are patches of his moustache which now had a salt and pepper appearance about it. He hadn’t bothered to keep up his usual ‘just for men’ routine.
“You look pathetic, Pappa,” he sighs, his head drooping down and staring at the carpeted floor. “Come on, John. Shake this sad-sack act off and man the fuck up!” he barks at himself, straightening himself up and taking a sharp breath in through his nose.
With that, he pounds his fist gently on the table, like a judge landing his gavel for his final verdict. Heading to his bed, he picks up his Ipad and begins clicking on the screen until the audible discussion of a podcast begins to fill the void of loneliness in the air of the room.
“..big show again this weekend for High Octane Wrestling, Matt.”
“Indeed, huge semi-final match in the HOFC tournament between Xander Azula and the ‘Son of God,’ Mike Best. I mean, no disrespect to Azula but I think we all know who’s heading to the final on this side of the bracket, amiright?”
Sektor makes an audible grunt of displeasure and rests the tablet back down on the bed, heading to the hotel room window where a crumpled pack of cigarettes lay on the sill.
“Before we get onto that, let’s jump straight to the main event. Tag Team titles are finally being defended by the Best Alliance, or rather, StarrSek, industries. Zeb Martin of course earned this opportunity by beating Sektor in what was one of the biggest upsets of the century.”
“Yeah, what was it, like, five seconds?”
Sektor eyes close for a moment as the memory causes him obvious pain. He yanks a cigarette from the packet and pushes open the window. Clenching it gently between his teeth, he lights it up and takes a long drag, ignoring the hotel’s non-smoking policy.
“Yeah, gotta say I’m worried about Sektor. First he lost in the first round of the HOFC tournament, then this?”
“To be fair, his match with Clay Byrd was a great fight. Sektor’s no fighter and was still able to put up some great offense against a man who would never be billed against him if this was legit MMA.”
“Sektor’s classed as a heavyweight..”
“Which would make Clay a super-heavyweight, right? Regardless, I don’t think anyone would have gotten up from one of those clotheslines.”
“But let’s look at the bigger picture here, Matt. When Sektor returned at the back end of last year he went on this great run and claimed that 2021 would be his year. We all bought it too. I mean he beat Eric Dane convincingly. He ended Harrisons unbeaten run. He won every match he had, including picking up the tag titles with Jatt. But fast forward to 2021 and he’s getting done by a school boy rollup from Zeb Martin?”
His head arches back as he practically sighs the smoke out of his lungs, pinching the bridge of his nose as he holds the cigarette between his index and middle fingers. The smoke lifts from the ember of the cigarette in a zigzag pattern, caused by the slight trembling of his hand. Cigar’s were his usual source of tobacco as he’d made many attempts to quit cigarettes. Like many vices in Sektor’s life, cigarettes had become an emotional crutch during times of stress. The mental relaxation he feels from smoking is contraindicated by the fact that the stimulation effect of the nicotine would only elevate his stress levels further, but this was a psychological crutch after all. He hadn’t yet stooped so low that he would require the class A narcotics which he has become synonymous with and he’d been making a conscious effort to keep his alcohol intake to a social basis only. Alcohol, however, is surely the next course on the menu.
“So he’s had a couple of losses? People can bounce back.”
“People, can. John Sektor? I’m not so sure.”
Sektor’s head snaps around, glaring at the tablet as though he was looking at the culprit of that statement square in the eyes.
“Look, I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for John Sektor and everything he has accomplished. But if his history has taught us anything? It’s that when things start to get a bit tough for him he takes his ball and goes home.”
Sektor’s lips withdraw tightly to display his gritted teeth like a rabid dogged ready to go for the jugular. His expression, however, soon softens as he realises the truth of the statement. His face then begins to face back into a picture of mere sorrow.
“I should just turn this shit off,” he grunts, staring at the tablet on the bed. “Couple of mark motherfuckers who have no idea what this life is really about!”
Yet he can’t. He knows deep down that he can’t handle the criticism at this fragile moment in his life. He’s on the brink of a nervous breakdown. The panic attacks, the stress and pressure he puts on himself to perform in the ring, the issues with his daughter? Combine these elements with his miserable start to the year and you have a recipe for disaster. Still, he can’t switch it off. It’s as though he needs to hear this as a form of self punishment.
“I think that’s a bit harsh, to be honest.”
“Come on man, five seconds? He just doesn’t look like his head is in it anymore, man. He looks like he’d rather be a million miles from that ring.”
“I was DISTRACTED!” he screams, breathing hard and puffing on the cigarette aggressively.
“C’mon man he was distracted! His daughter was at ringside, the real question we should be asking here is what SRK is up to?”
“THANK-you!” Sektor yells emphatically, shaking his head to look back out the window.
“He’s a seasoned vet! A hall of famer! Getting distracted like that is something that rookies do, not experienced wrestlers who are on their game. I’m telling you man, something aint right with Sektor. I don’t think we will see him on the network for much longer.”
He flicks the but out of the window with purpose, as though the cigarette is the one talking about him. He snatches another out of the pack and lights it up, feeling as though he’s going to need it.
“Well off the back of that loss, as stipulated, Zeb Martin now gets a shot at the Tag Titles with a partner of his choice. As we saw last week he has partnered up with Teddy Palmer, last year’s winner of the LBI. You think they have a shot?”
“Abso-lutely! Look man, when Sektor and Jatt paired up and took the tag titles I thought, damn, that is a dream team and those titles aren’t going anywhere for a long time. But you know what? A team is only as strong and their weakest link and right now John Sektor isn’t filling me with confidence.”
The eyes in his head bulge following this remark. “Weakest link? Are you fucking kidding me right now?” Again, he scowls at the Ipad as though it was a living, breathing, being.
“I mean, I hope you’re wrong.”
“So do I, like I said I love Sektor.”
“Fuck off!” Sektor scoffs, spitting the words out like venom as he smokes ferociously.
“At the last Refueled all hell broke loose when Teddy came out as Zeb’s partner. Solex attacked him from behind, Jatt and Sektor went to work on Zeb and even Lindsay Troy got involved. I don’t know, I don’t think Sektor’s done, not yet, he’s still showing me that he cares about those tag titles and I’m really excited by this match.”
“Yeah, but if they lose? Zeb’s gonna be full of confidence after beating Sektor and Teddy Palmer has looked to be in great form since he returned to the ring. The guy is an LBI winner for a reason. And you heard him, man, he’s pissed after what the Best Alliance did last Saturday. In his words they ‘Eff’d up,’ and he’s looking for some pay back.”
“Shut the fuck up! Teddy fucking Palmer?” he again scoffs, talking over the podcast discussion as it continues, as though involved in the conversation. “Won an LBI, yeah, but then what? Loses his title match against Farthington and then amounts to fuck all else? When I won the LBI I went on a two year tirade, with multiple World and Icon title reigns, breaking fucking records and earning my spot in the Hall of Fame! FUCK Teddy Palmer!”
“…so based on that, Zeb at least has a lot of tag team wrestling experience,” continues one of the podcast hosts as Sektor finally stops his rant. “I guess the big question is whether these two can hit the ground running as a Tag team and win the titles on their first outing. Will they have chemistry? Because we know that Jatt and Sektor have that in abundance.”
“Under normal circumstances, I would say no and that they would need some time as a team to gel and gather some momentum. But, and I got back to this point, this all hangs on whether Jatt and Sektor turn up. Jatt, we know, is in great form. He’s the LSD champion coming off a great defence against Bobby Dean. Jatt’s gonna have to carry Sektor if they’re to retain the titles.”
The color drains from the Gold Standard’s face as he freezes into a stunned state of silence. You can almost hear the anger fizzing beneath the surface of his skin as his rate of breathing begins to increase.
“Carry, me?” he gasps, almost not believing what he has just heard.
“Wow, that’s so weird hearing you say that but you might be right. When these two joined forces at the back end of last year Jatt was coming off a longer spell on the sidelines than Sektor had been so you’d probably argue that Sektor was the one going through that extra gear. But now, with Sektor on this losing streak and Jatt soaring I guess you’re right..”
“CARRY, ME?” he screams, tossing the cigarette out of the window without even looking.
“Yeah, and if they do get past Ted and Zeb then they’re gonna have the winners of the Hollywood Bruv’s vs the Hollywood Boyz to deal with. Jatt’s got his work cut out for him.”
“Do you, fucking, hear yourselves?” he shrieks, storming over to the bed and looming over the tablet as though he was again yelling at a real life person. “I’m John, fucking, Sektor God dammit! How fucking DARE you suggest that I need to be carried!”
The podcast discussion continues but every word now falls on deaf ears as Sektor has completely lost his shit. He paces up and down at the foot of the bed, panting like a lunatic and practically foaming at the mouth.
“I’m fucking dripping in skill, speed, momentum and technical ability. I am the most gifted technician to ever grace a fucking wrestling ring and you have the gaul to suggest that I need to be carried by Jatt Starr? DO YOU HEAR YOURSELVES TALKING?”
He yells at the top of his voice, the tablet now gripped firmly in his hands as he holds it up to his face. Stray spurts of saliva glisten on the screen as he continues to yell.
“I will not lose! I will not quit! I will NOT blow our chances of defending at March to Glory! Are you listening? ANSWER ME!” His fingers are white from the sheer pressure he is squeezing the IPad with, his whole body shaking with rage. “FUCKING ANSWER ME!”
Dropping to his knees he presses the tablet of the hotel room floor as though he were strangling someone.
“CARRY ME? CARRY ME?!”
His eyes are wide and maniacal as throws a stiff punch down at the screen, which suffers a single crack right through the middle in a diagonal line. The look in his eyes tells the story of a man who has finally snapped. All sense of rationale has gone out the window along with the butt of his last cigarette. John Sektor has finally lost his mind.
“HAHAHAHAHA, CARRY ME?!”
The insane laughter echoes around the room before he proceeds to repeatedly punch the screen which slowly crumbles into tiny fragments which begin to embed themselves into his cracked and bloodied knuckles. He eventually relents and leans back on his heels, panting heavily with his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth. His mouth slowly breaks into a smile but his eyes are screaming with pain and glistening with tears as he begins to laugh uncontrollably. The laughter is almost sarcastic as he looks around at his surroundings with desperation.
“I-I-I,” he stammers repeatedly, his head and shoulders juddering slightly with every utterance of the letter ‘I.’
Again more laughter cackles out of him whilst the tears wet his cheeks.
“I need to get out of this room,” he eventually whispers, with a frantic tremor in his tone.
Several hours later..
The hotel room is now littered with various brands of shopping bags and shoe boxes. Womens clothes and shoes are scattered all over the bed and furniture as the Gold Standard, if we can call him that, sits in front of the mirror at the dressing table. A tight fitted, black leather corset hugs his physique up to the armpits as the tops of his pecs, unflatteringly, bulge out of the top. His thighs down to his toes are decorated in fishnet stockings and atop his head is a curly black permed wig.
The room has an eerie and quiet calm about it as the only sound heard is the delicate brushstrokes as he puts the finishing touches to the heavily applied, blue, makeup around his eyes. The eyes themselves are sparkling with pride as they stare into themselves in the reflection of the mirror.
“You are beautiful, no matter what they say,” he sings, in a quiet, chilling tone. “Words, can’t, bring you….”
He dabs the brush on the corner of his eye, leaning back and smiling back the persona sitting opposite. There is a sense of pride in what he has created.
“..down.” he whispers, bringing a close to that line from the song.
The dressing table is cluttered with various assortments of make up. It’s clear that Sektor has been out on a mad spending spree, buying all kinds of tools and accessories for whatever this is.
“Mmmm, honey. You are looking GOOD,” he exclaims, putting some finishing touches to his thick, bright purple and glossily lips before puckering them together. “Jatts going to be here soon and the two of you are gonna go out dancing,” he gasps, like an excited child.
He then lets out an audible shriek of excitement as he leaps up from the bed and grabs his phone, flicking through Spotify to find a song. Soon the famous opening melody to ‘Girls just wanna have fun,’ by Cyndi Lauper erases that eerie silence to pave the way for something even more stranger.
He begins twirling around in the room like a free spirited teenage girl, locked in her bedroom and burning off some energy.
“I come home, in the morning light, my MOTHER says when you gonna live your life right?” he sings, dancing around in his Frank. N. Furteresk getup, using a hairbrush as a microphone to be cliche. “Oh mother dear we’re not the for-un-ate ones. And girls, just wanna have fu-un. OHHHohhh GIRLS, just wanna have..”
More twirling around and dancing continues as the song once again hits that famous melody.
RAP! RAP! RAP!
The loud banging at the door forces him to freeze like a statue, almost as though the surprise of it has triggered something in his mind as his eyelids begin to flicker. With a slight heir of panic, he snatches at his phone and shuts off the music, staring at the door for a moment.
BANG! BANG! BANG! (on the door baby)
“That must be Jatt,” he whispers, before hastily heading back over to the mirror.
He begins to check his hair, flicking various bits of the cheap wig delicately with his fingers in an attempt to perfect the styles. He then pouts his mouth and turns his cheeks to both sides, checking all angles of his makeup. Eventually he straightens up, grabs hold of the top of the corset with both hands and gives it a good hard tug, making sure it’s nice and snug in the crotch.
Walking gingerly in the ruby red high heels, he makes his way to the door, opening it to reveal Jatt and Hugo standing on the other side.
“There he is! John, how..” begins Jatt with his usual chipper tone before being completely stunned into silence as his eyes finally register what stands before him.
Sektor merely smiles a soft smile, as though everything is completely normal and not a single thing is out of the ordinary.
The following morning..
The Gold Standard lays on the hotel bed, fast asleep and completely naked, save for the smudged makeup he was wearing the night before. The womens clothes and shoes still clutter the room and bed. He lets out a quiet and growing grunting sound as his eyes begin to flicker to life. Slowly, they lift open, taking their time to allow the light of the room in and come into focus. Eventually he pushes himself up onto one side and begins to rub his head, letting out an audible yawn as he takes in his surroundings. He smirks as he spots Jatt passed out on the bedroom floor, wrapped in a giant bath towel like a cocoon and in the fetal position. He then frowns slightly as he pans around and sees all of the womens clothing. Next to him at his side his eyes land on a pair of hot pink, french laced, panties. He scoops them up with a finger and smiles.
“Must have been a great night!” he exclaims, before finding the crotch area of the panties and pressing it against his nose, inhaling deeply. He seems completely oblivious that these panties, and all of the womens clothes for that matter, were worn by him and him alone. “Ahhhh,” he sighs with satisfaction, having just inhaled his own scent.
Delicately, he swings his legs over the side of the beg and begins to make rolls with his toes on the carpet, getting some sensation in them before deciding to weight-bare and stand to a vertical base. Sektor then proceeds to the bathroom, flipping the seat up on the toilet and pissing away like a race horse as he leans back with his eyes closed.
He then looks down and gives his junk the three shakes, grimmacing slightly as he feels some discomfort in his testicular area. Having flushed, he moves to the sink and turns on the faucet, washing his hands before glancing up at himself and then back down at the water. Quickly, his expression snatches back up to the mirror as he does a double take, spotting the smeared makeup all over his face.
“What, the, faaaaa?” he gasps, his mouth gaping wider than Jatt’s was the night before.
It’s clear that Sektor has no memory or recollection of his time in drag.
Around thirty minutes later..
Jatts eyes crumple together tightly from their slumber as Sektor snatches open the curtains and allows the light of day to penetrate the room.
“Wakey-wakey, rise and shine you mother-fucker, you!” comes the sound of Sektor’s booming voice from across the room.
Having been abruptly woken, Jatt struggles to focus for a second, until finally he begins to make out the silhouette of his tag team partner. Much to his own relief, he notices that Sektor is dressed in jogging bottoms, sneakers and a hoodie which has been pulled up over a baseball cap on his head. Not a heel or sequin in sight.
“John?” he asks, confused and surprised to see him back in mens clothing.
“Yes, John. Now I don’t wanna hear about last night, Jatt. I fucking mean it. I don’t know what kinda crazy shit led to us having an orgy and me covered in makeup but Im going to assume that we had a fucking great night and leave it at that, alright?” he instructs, looming over Jatt with authority.
“But,” he begins, before being abruptly halted.
“AH-AH!” Sektor cackles, his eyes wide with warning. “Not another word. Now come on, get dressed we gotta train. Tag title match, mother fucker…”
As Jatt glares up at him, desperately trying to make sense of all this, there’s a new sense of confidence and enthusiasm exuding from his partner.
“No way are we losing those titles, Pappa!”