Blood trickles down the side of my mouth at a snail’s pace. The haze surrounding my vision continues to blind me, clouding my judgment. I’m restrained to a chair and cannot escape from HIS clutches. Every minute that passes by, the stiff, thick hands of HIS henchmen collide with my rib cage. It’s a rare occurrence to see, but my brash, stubborn will continues to crack under the pressure. My soul knew in that moment; Darin Adam Zion held the advantage. In my heart, I almost believe he won. I couldn’t believe The Shark recruited a variant of me to his war against the Multiverse.
But sitting here brought me some perspective: I was in over my head. I didn’t understand a single ounce of this multiverse shit. Every time I offered advice; someone always outsmarted me. Usually my bullheaded assertiveness pays off at the end of the day. But all it led to now is confusion. As I squirm trying to wiggle free of the ropes; Darin Adam Zion lays down more punishment, taunting me.
“You stupid son of a bitch! TELL ME!!! Tell me why the fuck you got involve in my business with the Shark! I won’t ask you again. My boys will break you into fuckin’ pieces if you don’t tell me every damn detail!” He cries out before jabbing me in the stomach with his right hand. The ring on his finger drills into my stomach, leaving a small cut.
I bite down hard on my lip to suppress the information. My teeth grind with a serve force into my lips, leaving bite marks. I wouldn’t sell out my friends like this bastard. I’d left Xander and Aeon without any clues. Hell, I didn’t even know where the fuck these goons dragged me. Those jerks knocked me out and blind folded me. Closing my eyes, I began praying for a miracle.
Suddenly, a glowing blue light appears in the room. A couple of clanking noises perk my exhausted ears up. Everything happening next feels like a flash in a pan. A dense cloud of smoke sweeps over the room. I could hear the sounds of a skirmish occurring in the background. The two heavy bodies of the henchmen drop to the floor with a mass impact, shaking me. The zapping buzz of two portal guns echo in the distance. A sense of contentment fills my soul as Darin Adam Zion’s screams fill the room, fading into the distance. I hear a switchblade opening before the pressure from the ropes releases. Finally, I’m free!!!
A faint, but recognizable voice resonates with me. “Quick! Jab him with this!”
Straight into my thigh without warning, a jagged pain rolls through my body. Before I could process my medicine high; my two rescuers hoist my body off the ground and make a mad dash for the portal. Everything comes back into focus in an instant. The pain from my bones cracking into place causes me to shriek. In an instant, the serum healed me. Instantly I peer up to see Xander and Aeon’s faces. Praise Eris! They’re a sight for these sore eyes. I let out a sigh of relief before Xander interrupts it.
“Quick! We’ve got to get him back to the infirmary. We need all the time to repair Zion before our match with Sektor and Ellis. He’s gotta be at peak performance for these two goons.”
Sunday, March 6th, 2022
Carver Hawkeye Arena Locker Room Area
Iowa City, Iowa
The dust settles from the hellacious tag team encounter with Sektor and Ellis. Once again, I came up short against my arch rival in the ring. The daunting taste of defeat still lingers as I plop down on the bench. I could only wipe away a single tear from my eye. A stark reality comes over me as my eyes swell in terror.
We lost our chance at the HOW Tag Team Championship. We failed the multiverse on an epic level. The Shark completed his mission in thwarting us. Chills run up and down my spine, knowing the end of the multiverse is upon us now.
I wipe the sweat off my brow, wondering when everything would collapse upon itself. Is it now? Would a grand explosion occur? Would things shake violently as realities merged? Would I feel anything different? Every question pulsing through my head weighs on my heart heavily. As I start to massage my forehead to quell my angst about the impending doom, my locker room door flies open.
“I’m sorry I let you down, Zion!” Xander wails as he comes barrelling towards my direction. He latches onto me for dear life, giving me a giant hug. I could tell the immense guilt continues to plague him as his grip tightens. Up until now, Xander and I didn’t share a close personal bond like this. We’d never embraced each other, it felt off. But instead of pushing the annoying jackass off, I let him emote and I showed the bugger some compassion.
I give him a gentle pat on the shoulder, turning to him. “Dude, it’s not only your fault. I came up seconds short from saving you. Don’t let that guilt define your story, bro. You got a great future ahead of you…”
“What future? Everything’s about to explode around us. This universe is dead!” Xander cuts me off in a panicked state. He flails around in an animated fashion before I slap the taste out of his mouth. Without hesitation I grab his head and shake some awareness back into him.
“XANDER!” I interject with force. “Calm the fuck down! If this is our last damn moment on this plane of existence; I don’t need a debbie downer ruining it.”
Wiping the tears away from his face, Xander begins to listen with intent. His eyes fixate on me as I leap off the bench to give him a pep talk.
“I’m the first one in HOW locker room to share his honest feelings. While I loathed the idea of teaming with you at first; I’ll admit I was wrong about you. I wanted nothing more than to punch you in the damn face if you set me back. I bitched and moaned to everyone in the locker room about you being dead weight to me. Still wanted to toss you off a building and kill you for what you did to Meredith.”
I pause for a moment, watching Xander almost ready to curl up into a ball. “But kid, you brought me back to relevance in HOW. We ran roughshod over our division. We became the favorite underdogs. Hell, you humbled me more times in the last few months than anyone has humbled me in my 8 year career in HOW. You’re one helluva fighter. You got one big fuckin’ heart too. While it seems like people expect me to kill you for failing, you came through for me. It’s enough for me to call you…”
I turn my head to see Xander’s eyes sparkling with glee. It takes a while for me to muster up my next words. Never thought I’d say them in a million years. After my stints with Hollywood, Hanson, Scottywood, and Stevens; it takes a lot for me to admit the close bonds I have. Stuttering and stammering, the words come blurting out of my mouth.
Sticking my hand out in good faith, I smile at Xander. Before I could fathom his reaction, Azula grabs my hand and pulls me in for a giant hug. After obliging for a couple of seconds, I push him away and continue with my sentiments.
“While it seems our paths may diverge from time to time; it doesn’t mean we aren’t partners. I’m proud to call you my tag partner. Hell, I’m proud to call you an ally and friend. I’m always a phone call away, buddy. Even though we lost, doesn’t mean we give up on those tag belts.”
“You love to see it!” Xander exclaims before a small, green portal opens behind him. Aeon sticks his head out to poke fun at both of us.
“You two dorks done with the sappy love fest? Good! The multiverse isn’t going to explode. While the activity spiked after you lost your match; somehow, I didn’t expect this to happen. Card subject to change and all. Your bonds with each other increased and saved us temporarily.” Khronos exclaims. “I know! SHOCKING! Darin Zion truly likes you. Didn’t think that cold-hearted bastard had it in him.”
Before I can punch the multiverse traveler’s jaw, Xander expresses something shocking. “FUCK YOU, Aeon! You ruined our moment. What in the hell do you want?”
“Great! He’s rubbing off on you!” Aeon rolls his eyes before responding. “I don’t need any more Zion’s cluttering the damn multiverse.
“Somehow that should be the LEAST of your problems,” I add with a smug look on my face. Aeon’s annoyed glare speaks volumes.
Turning his attention back to Xander, Aeon carries on with his point. “I gotta pull you back into the multiverse, Xander. We got some bigger fish to fry with the Shark. I’ll let Zion handle clean up duty with his variants in this realm. The Shark created quite a mess.” Khronos sticks his nose in the air before motioning to Xander. My fellow Master of the Multiverse partner extends his fist out to me. “Until the next chapter…” he says.
“Praise Eris! Stay safe buddy. The story doesn’t end here.” I exclaim before he passes back into the realm. I let out a huge gasp of air from my lungs before sitting back down on the bench.
While everything continues on with a high note; something still left me unsettled. Missing pieces to the puzzle continue to come forward in my memory. Aeon’s last words to me left me more jarred. The usual smile that dawns my face stays sequestered beneath the surface. I couldn’t put my finger on this new feeling. I stare off into the distance, devoid of any emotions, left to sulk about the Maurako Cup loss.
Thursday, March 10th, 2022
Garfield Park Conservatory
After my loss at last week’s Refueled, I’ve had a crazy busy week. HOW sent me on a promotional tour around the Chicago area. With the upcoming M2G show, I’ve gone nonstop the last few days. From press tours to autograph signings; I haven’t experienced a lot of free time. Not to mention between excursions in the multiverse; I haven’t seen Meredith much. To say the last few months were a nightmare is an understatement.
Needless to say, the Love of my Life and I decided to take a day to ourselves. After a fantastic breakfast date at a local hot breakfast shop, we came to her favorite place. Garfield Park’s surrounded with beautiful, luscious greenery. Recently Meredith took up the hobby of photography, and she wants photos. We frolicked around the park a bit before she set her equipment up for a shoot. As she hauls her bags filled with tons of tools, she lets out a sigh of relief.
“I finally don’t have to deal with that pest Xander Azula anymore. It feels like a weight came off my shoulders, dear. You know how daunting it felt to have my kidnapper around the last few weeks? IT SUCKED!” She rambles on while pulling her tripod out of its case.
I couldn’t help but stare off into the distance, pondering life. I tune out her celebration of freedom. In a stoic, dry tone, I mutter a few words back to her. “Yeah, sure!” Crossing my arms against my chest, more pieces to evil Darin Zion’s monologue surfaced in my brain. The more his faint words echo in my head, the more isolated I become. My mind wanders, my vision blurs, and I’m focusing trying to bring that scene back to the forefront of my mind.
Meredith’s backhand knocks me back into reality. My shocked expression catches her off guard as her eyes bulge out of her head. “Sorry, dear! I didn’t mean to hit you THAT hard.” She expresses as she leans down to kiss my forehead.
“It’s fine!” I retort, walking off towards a nearby palm tree, moping underneath its shade. Meredith chases after me and rests her arms on her hips. She makes an audible huffing noise, glaring a hole straight into me.
“Thought we were going to spend more time together today…” She lectures me, tapping her heels on the ground. The smile faded from my love’s face. My eyes dart straight towards the ground, avoiding eye contact.
“Sorry babe. I’ve got something on my mind. It’s-it’s-it’s…I don’t want to talk about it.” I stutter and stammer, sprawling out on the grass. I take a few deep breaths in, processing more of the vision.
It’s clear to Meredith something’s on my mind from my multiverse experience. To avoid another depression episode, Meredith crawls up next to me and cuddles with me. She lets out a gentle smile before encouraging me. “I shouldn’t press you. But I guess I don’t want you to fall into another spell of crippling anxiety. You’re on the hottest win streak of your career. You’ve only lost one match against a Hall of Famer. And you’ve got Steve Harrison on deck.
I gaze into her radiant, blue eyes. “It’s not one of those episodes. I’m not worried about facing off against Steve Harrison. That smug bastard has grinded on my last nerve for a while now. I look forward to smacking him around for theMilwaukee crowd. That’s a stress reliever for me.”
Meredith and I both chuckle as I reach my arm around her back. Pulling out my iPhone from my pocket, I snap a couple of selfies with our cute faces. We both lean back and look up towards the skyline. The bright spring sun shines down on us. I continue rambling on. “Hell, I’m the most thankful about my position in years. Got a beautiful girlfriend and started a family together. Made a new friend and mended bridges. Hell, it’s the first time people have approached me in years.”
I let out an exasperated sigh. “Shit, I’m aching for some singles action right now. I’ve spent any and all free time training this week. Watching tapes…hitting the gym…polishing up old moves…you name it. I’ve got to fight hard against the Milkman. He’s one of HOW’s toughest opponents when he wants it. But he’s a sad sack of shit other times. It’s not bothering me that I got bounced from the Maurako Cup with my last chance at gold. It’s…”
I paused while the words of Aeon Khronos echo through my skull. “NOT ONE WORD!”
Leaping up off the grass, I compose myself back together, reaching my hand down to my darling Meredith. “Nevermind, I’ll let it go. I promised you the perfect date day. Sorry I made it about me.”
A fake smile rolls across my face while I strike a pose for Meredith. Her laughter eases my distrubed mindset. Every time I change my stance, the more animated I become in motion. The flashes of Meredith’s camera capture every moment. While I struggled underneath my skin, on that occasion, I knew everything I’d do this week; I’d do it for her and Lexi.
“Do you ever feel like you lost your sense of purpose.in life? Like you’re meandering around trying to figure out what you mean to the world? Like the world stripped you of that meaning?
I spent months for the chance to prove I could earn myself another championship match against Jeffrey James Roberts. I climbed the ladder of success, grabbed the spoils, and the bastard cheats to screw me out of my title shot. Meanwhile I get shoved into the craziness known as the Masters of the Multiverse. All while Captain Jatt Sparrow keeps knocking on my door like some jilted ex lover begging for another bottle of rum. I couldn’t fathom the crazy run I’ve had over the past three months if my life depended on it. I’m the hottest I’ve been since 2016 and I’m blessed and humble for it all.
But recently, things have changed. As the Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire’s theme song says; my life got flipped-turned upside down. Recently, I overheard HOW officials tell me they refuse to give me another championship shot. Meaning last week was the final chance Darin Zion could earn HOW gold. This is the time I could discuss how John Sektor broke my fragile heart, but I choose not to act like Simon Starr does. I’m not going to knock on doors and annoy the hell out of people.
Carpe Diem, Seize the Day.
And boy, do I plan on seizing the day by it’s fuckin’ balls. See now I’m put in a predicament I haven’t been in since 2014. That’s the last time I forced HOW officials to recognize me and my God given talents. The moment I debuted on this roster; I made it my life’s mission to run roughshod over every single HOW talent who stood in my damn way at glory and honor.
Steve Harrison, you’re the lucky schmuck who drew first honors. Congratulations, I’d hand you a participation trophy and a glass of fucking milk, but the joke is old and stale like you.
Don’t believe me? Everyone fuckin’ groans when you cut a damn promo. You haven’t evolved since you took an arrow to the knee. It’s the same old, tired dog and pony show with you. It’s like serving only vanilla ice cream at an All You Can Eat Buffet. Spice your shit up, get some variety. For some cocky piece of shit from Virginia; I’d figure you’d have some personality.
In every single promo you’ve cut since you’ve returned; you’ve recycled the same fucking Zion jokes over and over again. Hell if you and Stoovins would put your pea sized brains together; you could open a wonderful recycling plant. If I had a nickel for every time some irrelevant, piece of shit wrestler called me a lonely loser; I’d have built a better mansion than Brian Hollywood. For fuck sakes, if you’d followed me the last six months while nursing that bum knee of yours, you’d have learned a lot more about me. You’d know I’ve made friends. I’ve cultivated a successful relationship. I’ve fought damn hard for my family’s sakes. And hell, I’ve given myself a promotion as HOW’s self-proclaimed CFO. Xander and I formed a group called the Masters of the Multiverse. Conor Fuse took me under his wing.
Hell, you could reach for me holding the MVW Men’s Heartland Championship. You could make fun of me winning another feds gold, but not winning the real McCoy. Mike Best throws better insults my way than your pathetic, worthless ass.
I could spend all day hurling insults at your direction, Harrison. We could have the most cringeworthy promo battle in HOW history. Everyone from the audience to Discord servers to the Twitter Nests to the Metaverse would all let out a collective moan. Shit, we could set the world record for longest groan.
But I have no interest in becoming a shitty stand up comedian like you. I’d rather have my face plastered all over milk cartons than become as washed up as Gilbert Godfrey.
I’m going to put some shit into perspective for you, Harrison. You spent all your free time last week dressing your friend up as a cowboy to knock your jollies. You wasted more time giving yourself laughs than preparing for the throes of war. Those two wrestlers you spent all your time insulting, turned YOU into the punchline of your own joke. You spent no damn time putting their asses over. And you embarrassed yourself on live television.
The biggest murder machine in HOW couldn’t save your back. You had a Hall of Famer protecting you, and you let him down.
I haven’t lost a singles match since last year. The first match I’ve lost in 3 month came against a Hall of Famer and his protege. I beat Jeffrey James Roberts and dealt him his second loss. I’ve beaten Hall of Fame wrestlers Jatt Starr and Mario Maurako. I made two hockey studs tap out like little bitches. I got strapped with someone that everyone considers weak. I turned every piece of chicken shit I got dealt into chicken salad.
So who’s the fuckin’ loser?
Put some damn respect on my name or get my damn name out of your fuckin’ mouth, son. I’ve held 6 more HOW Championships than you. I could yammer on until I break my knee and need a 6 month break…
You have to cut the shitty material out this week, Harrison. No seriously, I’m giving you advice. You’re stepping into the ring with a different Zion than you left behind. I’m a pissed off submission machine ready to break necks and cash checks. I’m pissed off. I came up short and let one of my best friends down. I’m seething because once again, I left money on the table for my family. In a 15 year career, I’ve left more opportunities on the table these last 3 years, and I won’t do that with you. I’ve seen what you did for the Best Alliance. I watched you and Jiles squeak those tag team titles away from Dan Ryan and Conor Fuse. You’re one ruthless, slimy son of a bitch in this sport.
You’ll try to sneak a win away from me. You’ll utilize shortcuts and manipulate the situation to get yourself a win. You’re the most dastardly piece of shit I’ve ever seen entering that ring.
It’s why I damn well have to fight with my heart. I have to come out swinging. I NEED to lock those Red Rings of Death in and make you tap out like the pathetic ant you are.
At Refueled this week; this match won’t be a laughing matter. There will be no Steven Colbert, no Johnny Carson, and no Daid Letterman ready to welcome you into the late night hall of fame, Harrison. It’ll only be you and I standing in that ring. And I’m looking to draw blood. I’m looking to make an example out of you for Simon Sparrow.
Everyone will learn to put some respect on my damn name. I’m tired of this shit you two have pulled on me unprovoked. If you stand in my path; I’ll make your ass tap. You’ll become my next victim. And the world will understand there’s no stopping the impending wrath of Zion. Mark my words; you will tap out, Harrison. And I’ll leave you in a puddle of your own shit you’ve talked into existence when I’m done with you.”