Budget Cuts

Budget Cuts

Posted on December 23, 2021 at 6:49 pm by Darin Zion

Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

11:15 AM

Undisclosed Location

The hair on my skin shoots straight up towards the sky.  Chills rush up and down my spine with each step I take into the forest. My stomach performs somersaults, almost causing me to throw up on my brand new gray suit.  The haunting memories of Meredith’s abductions flash through my mind.  I wander around aimlessly through the brushy forest.  The closer to the site of the Eternal Circle meeting I got; the more my body shakes.  Every time I heard a branch snap underneath my feet; the more startled I’d become.

Inspecting my surroundings, hallucinations dance through my imagination.  Xander’s maniacal laughter reverberates through the dense spaces in my skull.  Nightmares from the sleepless nights when I took care of Lexi flare up. The feeling almost paralyzes me throughout the journey.

Finally, I reached the destination of where this feud all started:  The Eternal Circle’s lair!  Everything still remains intact from my last encounter with them.  The polished oak pulpit still stood prominent amongst the natural forest stage.  The log benches remained unmoved and untouched by a single soul.  The charred remains of burnt wood and ashes laid right where I remembered.  Nature preserved everything in perfect fashion.  My jaw drops at how pristine everything looks from months ago.  The terror of the whole experience almost sent me into shock.

But then I remember business fears NOTHING!  I came here to do one simple job:  Budget Cuts!

That’s right!  The piper came to collect from Xander Azula’s under delivering ass.  Out of all my opponents at ICONIC; Xander is the most egregious spender.  Azula only nets HOW hundreds of dollars with his appearances.  His character breaks out banks with the special effects budget we waste on him.  HOW spends hundreds of thousands of dollars making his ass seem special week to week.  It’s unfortunate Mr. Azula cannot live up to the expectations his false goddess holds for him.

“BOYS!  Take it all back!  HOW needs to yield some return on it’s investment.  Let’s auction all this shit off on HOWauctions.com or some shit like that.” I blare out loud as the movers with orange vests storm the scene.  Hauling off the wonderful furniture to our special warehouse, I watch on admiring my work.  A small grin cracks on my face while I nod in approval.

After I finish gawking at my ultimate revenge against Xander, I whip around.  In an unexpected turn, Meredith startles me out of my socks.  My heart leaps from my chest, seeing her glaring at me. Her arms crossed against her chest while her toes tapped against the brush below.  Her face radiates an elegant shade of rose as she huffs out loud.

“So…your bright idea is to piss off the supernatural demon some more?  Are you fucking delusional? You think this solves a months-long feud between the two of you?”  She asks in an agitated voice.  It takes every fiber in her body from hauling off and slapping me.

I plead my case with her.  “Mer!  Baby!  Xander and I’ve grown apart.  That chapter in my life holds me back from reaching my greatest potential.  I gave the kid everything to sell that gimmick.  Tossed his ass off the top of the Alcatraz Guard Tower to give him ‘powers’.  Not my fault he can’t deliver us any profits…”

“Spare me from your sales pitch!  I won’t be a part of these mind games you’re playing with Xander.  I saw first-hand how insane he acts. Don’t fuck with Eris again, Zion!  You’re tempting your fate.” She interrupts as she storms off.

Chasing her down I continue groveling at her.  “Babe, please!  It’s 2021!  If Xander wants to believe in his personal Flying Spaghetti Monster, he can. I moved past his bullshit once I rescued you. It’s strictly business that brought me here. This isn’t an elaborate attempt at revenge.  The poor bastard should have thought twice before he fucked with Zion.”

My eyes begin to twitch mid-plea. The smile plastered on my face is more fake than Hollywood’s reinventions. My boo can read me like a book. Meredith continues to leave the scene.

“What the fuck happened to my man’s focus?  After you beat Xander at Rumble at the Rock, you lost your determination.  You’ve let these delusions of grandeur take over.  GAAAWD!  I hate this!”

I stammer while I continue.  “I have more initiative right now.  You’ll after I toss Xander’s worthless ass from that ladder.  But please understand I have a job to do.  We need every inch going into this ladder match.  HE NEEDS TO SUFFER FOR WHAT HE DID TO YOU!  I CAN’T LOSE YOU AGAIN!!!!”  As I try to reach out for her, she pushes me away and escapes. 

As I crash down into the pile of leaves below me; a recent conversation flashes through my mind.

==========

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

3:15 PM

Bubbles World of Play

Liverpool, England

Rough barely scratched the surface of how I felt losing to David Noble on Refueled.  The bastard reminded me of a younger version of myself. David stormed the scene with incredible hype.  Yet he expected handouts based on his Fisher Price merits.  Failing at the opportunity to teach him a lesson; I basked in my future daughter’s excitement.

Lexi rushes around the amusement center filled with energy.  It’s her birthday, and Meredith and I wanted to give her the best birthday on the road. We couldn’t take her back to the states to celebrate with her friends.  She’s stuck in England with us for the rest of the tour. We spent all day looking for a place to ease her excitable mind.

After ordering and devouring the pizza, I took on the task of watching over her.  As she frolicked around, it made me miss my early days on the road. Once I had that spark to fight against the odds in my career.  But 15 years passed me by and I yielded nothing.  Always sacrificing and getting nothing in return grinded my gears.

Lexi loops around and falls straight into my lap.  Her innocent eyes sparkle with a youthful zest.  In a nonchalant manner,  she jabbers to the point of annoyance.

“Daddy…uh…when Greenie comes home with us; I promise to play wif him every day. I’ll give him as much attention as you gif me!  I can’t wait ‘til you win him at ICONIC!”

My heart melts while she babbles on.  It took every bit of effort to break the news to my precious daughter.  Sitting her in an upright position, I gaze at her straight on.

“Sweetie, what happens if Daddy doesn’t have an HOTV Championship match at ICONIC?   What if I came up short in the final run and didn’t earn the match I dreamt about having.”

Her young mind couldn’t comprehend the news.  A look of perplexion forms on her face.  Her eyebrows raise up while she asks the question.  “What are you saying, daddy?”

Wrapping my arms around her tight, I cling on to her small body, delivering the news.  “I’m wrestling in a Fatal Four Way Ladder Match, sweetie.  Nothing’s on the line.  Don’t worry, sweetheart!  I have a potential opportunity to win a shot at Greenie.  He may not come home with us when we expected…”

“WORST BIRTHDAY EVVVVVVAAAA!”  She hollers out at the top of her lungs before scurrying off to Meredith.  Sitting off in the corner, watching my daughter weep, set something off inside me.

==========

Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

11:30 AM

Undisclosed Location

Coming back to reality, a vicious glimpse forms in my eyes.  Cackling at the top of my lungs, I fold my hands together, watching the movers.  Everything went off without a single hitch.   Chives comes into focus, holding the clipboard I gave him.  For once, he’s on point, focused on the task at hand.

“Sir, Inventory shows we’ve netted over $50,000 back from this revenge…”

“Business venture, Chives!  Get it right!”  I correct him in a stern fashion, brushing the leaves off my jacket.

“Right, sir!  This business venture nets us a $50,000 investment.”  he snaps back at me with vitriol.

“Every penny saved is a penny earned, Chives!  Every penny earned is a penny wisely invested.  Don’t forget that life lesson.  HOW rewards initiative so I’ll give you a handsome reward.

I dangle a hundred dollar bill over the homeless drunkard’s head.  As Chives scrambles to yank it from my grasp, I pull it up higher.  After his fruitless struggles, he collapses to the ground.  I scoff at the man before pulling him up.

“First you have to earn your keep.  I require one more task from you before I release you back into your transgressions.” I assert my voice at my meat puppet.

Chives retorts back in a snide tone.  “Would you like for me to retrieve Mistress Meredith?  I’ll be happy to order her a fruit basket.  I hear they’re lovely gifts.”

“No!  Mer Bear and I will reconcile later in the evening.  No, this is about dominance, Chives.  The key to a successful operation is gloating.”  I toss my hobo the phone before hitting the record button.  I position myself in direct line sight with the movers.  A sneer forges itself on my face as the video starts.

“My fellow opponents for ICONIC!  You might wonder what the fuck is going on?  Every last one of you assholes has plagued my life for the last year in some capacity.  You force me into the corner with your inferior insults.  You’ve failed to respect my talents in HOW.  You assume I’m some spineless sniveling bitch answering your beckoned calls.  Every last one of you thinks I’m your damn play toy that you chalk up wins and losses again.

From the bottom of my heart; FUCK YOU!

You want to continue to slander and pillage my name across the corners of HOW.  Go ahead!  But it’s time I forge a regime each one of you fear.  I’m giving you a taste of your own damn medicine.  I’m crawling up into the depths of your mind.  Crawling under people’s skin is what I do best.

You want to fuck with my money and my family.  Now I’ll fuck with your legitmacy.  I’ll fuck with your pay checks.  I’ll crumble everyone’s perception of you when I climb the ladder of success at ICONIC.

But today, Xander’s the target!  You fucked with my family, Xiggy Azalea.  You fucked with everything I gave you.  I gave Eris a vessel, and now  she spoke to me.  She hates her new fucking fleshy home.  You’ve damned her to a life of disappointment and failure.”

I move out of the scene to show Xander everything I am taking from him.  My eyes flare with burning hatred.  Balling my fist up, I point at everything going into the moving fan.

“Xander, I finally heard her call and she wants me to strip everything she gave you.  She wants me to finish the job at ICONIC and damn you to hell.  Unlike you, I’ll oblige Eris and fling you from the top of the ladder.  This time, you won’t have cheap parlor tricks to protect you.  YOU’LL DIE AT MY HANDS.  When you fly, your skull will crash and crack against the concrete. I’ll gladly wear blood on my hands for what you did.  I’ll take pride in turning you into a martyr for the world to see her power.”

I whip behind Chives and end the recording.  My sides begin to split and I clap my hands together.  Chives’ eyebrows raise.  I can see the chills running up his spine.  “You can’t be serious?  Eris possessed you?  No way, sir!”

I walk away from him before jumping out and scaring the shit out of the homeless man.  Cackling under my breath, I toss him the hundred bucks.  “Fuck no!  But it’s my turn to fuck with that weak minded shit head.  Unlike him, I know how to channel my anger.”

Walking away from Chives, I post the video to my Twitter feed, praying Xander sees it.  Re-entering my car, I mutter some familiar words under my breath.  “You reap what you fucking sow against me.  Paying the piper is a hefty fine, but it’s time I collect some dividends.”

==========

To Whom It May Concern–

Everyone of my opponents hopes that I crawl into ICONIC as a pushover. I’ve watched you pigeonhole me into the usual corners.  Every last one of you assumed my weakness. It’s like everyone of you wanted to skip to the ending of the story.  You’ve assumed you’re the conquering hero that toppled the annoying little brother of HOW.  Some of you have beaten me more times than I can count.  Others believe false documents doctrine from the devil.  You think you continue to plague my nightmares.

You’re hoping I tell the same Cinderella story so you can eviscerate me in front of the world.  You want to prey upon the sweet, innocent Zion to increase your gains.

But I’m walking into ICONIC, a bitter and depraved man.

I spent the last two months clamoring for a championship match at ICONIC.  I spoke on HOW airwaves until my face turned blue, trying to speak my dreams into existence. I should talk about how opening ICONIC is a badge of honor in itself.  It’s the same old story I tell everyone backstage.  Regrettably, I’m lying and biting down on my teeth when I pass by the locker room and share my glee.

For the umpenth millionth year; HOW officials stick me into a clusterfuck at ICONIC.  Of course they dangle the proverbial carrot of a surprise over my head if I win.  But it only pisses me off more.

Not because I let myself down and didn’t deliver the goods, no.  It pisses me off that I get stuck with three buffoons.  All three of you floundered around waiting for Lee Best to swoop in and hand you an opportunity.  None of you shot your shot into doing more on the biggest card of the year.  You meandered around cutting worthless promos.  You chalked up victories and failed to capitalize on your momentum.  You’re a bunch of directionless hot heads that get handed the opportunities I deserve solely.  Like vultures you swoop in trying to kick me down to the ground.  You scavenge around failing to take any fucking risks.  None of you’ve evolved since our last encounters.  Each one of you assholes walks around with a bloated ego, harping on initiative.

But you never seek it like I do.  Hell, I admit I’m a walking mess.  Half the time I shoot myself in the damn foot and have to pivot because of my mouth.  I’ve owned it various times on HOW television.  It’s why I connect with the audience.  I’m the every man of HOW, always struggling to succeed.  Everyone in Section 214 and across HOW arenas fights those same battles.  Truth be told, I rally behind their energy to push me through.  Because it’s infuriating that I bust my ass weekly and don’t yield a damn thing.  Getting stuck in the same cyclical patterns bores the fuck out of me.

I’m a human being looking for challenges, expecting new horizons.  It’s why I’ve left each of you behind in my past.  I’ve shed myself of your dead weight in my life.  You didn’t form my career.  It’s my spite that’s driven me further off the edge.  I get tired of getting lumped in the 11:59 club with you worthless fucks.  I want to leave you all buried in the past.

Take my former partner Brian Hollywood.  We broke into the business having each other’s backs.  But every time that bastard stabbed me in the back taking short cuts.  The naive voice in my head kept telling me forgiveness is the best path.  I stuck by his side through thick and thin.  I bought into your hype. 

I once called you the Sex part of Sex and Money Hollywood… but why?  You use your talents to flirt with us. But you ultimately fail in the bedroom.  You’re always delivering the same old vanilla shit every week.  You never pushed the limits of your potential.  Where are the whips and chains?  Where is the S&M you’ve hinted through pathetic subliminal messaging?  No one will ever say you’re anal about your performance.  Eventually, your woman… sorry, the fans get bored of you. They all leave you in the dirt… I mean they no longer care about you.

They stopped caring about you when you stopped drawing the company money.  Instead of improving your craft at SIX time academy; you showed up to the wrong school.  Every time you take one step forward, you fall five steps backward.  You’ve claimed you have no feelings, but your sentimental bullshit holds you back.  It’s always grandpa’s business holding you back.  Next week, you’re running from the feds.  Everyone expected you to kiss the Chair’s ass.  You’ve overplayed the same distractions like a broken record.  Eventually after your 15th billion reinvention, nothing surprises the crowd.

You have no room to talk about my weaknesses when the plank protrudes from your fucking eyes.  You’ve gone from martyr to delusional executive in a week’s time.  No one is buying your shitty products anymore.  You’ve failed to evolve and pivot like a true businessman.  It’s why your stock has fallen in HOW.  Lee doesn’t give you the same opportunities he gives me because he sees no damn promise.  Sure, you miraculously won the HOTV Title.  But a convicted felon destroyed the savvy businessman.

It’s why I am a more believable executive than you.  I show up and bust my ass for this company night in and night out.  I’ve given 21 weeks of stellar performances.  I might have choked in my various title matches; but I got more shots than you.

But nothing’s less believable than Eris and Xander Azula.  Fuck!  I unlocked your powers at Rumble at the Rock.  You vanished off the screen and gave life to Eris for 3.5 seconds.  And in your “best interests” you decide to shit the bed.  You don’t dive into your damn lore.  You act like a more pathetic version of me.  You’re scrapping at the bottom of the Zion barrel for pity.

I have none for you after what you did to my family.  I don’t plan on taking the higher path at ICONIC.  I still plan on finishing the damn job.  Every time I see your ugly face; I want to smash it against the pavement.    Hell, I bet Eris wants to do the same too.   That bitch trusted the worst man in the history of HOW to cause chaos.

Night in and night out you fail.  You couldn’t even beat the town drunkard like I’ve done countless times.  Be better!

David Noble knows how to act better.   He’ll only tell you in every single one of his promos.  It’s funny, you gawk at my career.  You’re heading down the same slippery slope I did when I came to HOW.  Back in 2014, I started off with a 9 win start to my career.  Within 3 months I wrestled in my first number 1 contenders match for the World Title.  I pulled the same shit you did when I kicked down the door.  I buried all the talent who stood in my way.

You know how my story ends, Noble.

Every time your expectations don’t match up with HOW’s you complain.  Everyone can see the passive aggressive bullshit you’re pulling.  You talk a tough talk about earning your opportunities.  You hope people buy into the hype when you talk about game recognizing game.  You want more challenges after you choked against the monster known as JJR.  You bounce back and forth like an indecisive child with your message.

Well it’s time for you to pay for your sins.

Actually, it’s time all three of you pay for your sins against the machine.

I’m tired of carrying dead weight to prime opportunities.  I have hopes and dreams too.  I’ve got to feed my family like the rest of the world.  I’m exhausted from building up HOW’s future only to watch all the competitors passing me.  It irritates the hell out of me when six months later they piss it all away.  I spent the last four months building myself up for a title shot at ICONIC.  Yet here I am saddled with you fuckers.

I’m not walking in with a positive attitude.   I’m barging through that curtain at ICONIC looking for blood.  My anger will feed me and it’ll leave you in a path of my destruction.

It’s time I showed initiative.  The time has come for me to unleash a ruthless chaos combining all my sides.  That ladder represents the glass ceiling I’ve saddled myself with the last three years.  Unlike you fuckers; I’m going to barrel my way through it.  I’ll leave a pile of your bodies on my way to the top.

I’m investing my damn penny and planning on yielding my dividends.  Every penny saved is a penny earned.  Every penny earned becomes a wise investment.  I’m betting on myself in this damn clusterfuck.  Time to cash in all my potential.  Because when I succumb to my delusions of grandeur; there’s always a reckoning.

Because I will change my narrative.  I’ll earn my shot at Greenie and leave you all where you belong:  in my past.

Sincerely,

Darin “Fucking” Zion

Self Proclaimed HOW CFO