Lethal, searing pain, the likes of which I have never felt before.
It all happened in the instant and from that moment on I lost track of all time and surroundings. The only thing noisier than my screams of bloody murder was the silence that encompassed it.
And then everything stopped.
Everything went completely silent and pitched black. Did I pass out from the pain? Did someone come and help me? Was I in a hospital or morgue?
I can’t sense anything. It was like I was swallowed up into a void of nothingness. Even the pain itself had gone away. However, I didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. As I floated around in the abyss, one thing kept repeating over and over in my head.
Lee is smiling as we fade to black.
GLORY GLORY HOW UNITED
Suddenly, I could feel overwhelming heat, but not the rage boiling from inside of me. It was honestly, hot as fuck. I could feel myself sweating like Kirsta Lewis walking into a Church. I could feel the all-too-familiar feeling of flames
Was I on fire?
I slowly opened my eyes, yes, plural, to realize that I could see out of both sockets just fine. Which was odd, seeing as the last thing I remember was being on the canvas in Madison Square Garden after having a pen plunged into my eye.
As my vision focused, I could see I was indeed surrounded by fire. I tried to look over the horizon, but it was a wasteland the likes of an episode of The Walking Dead. Yet, every single thing was on fire. It was more than I could take as I continued to scan the landscape.
Did you think that you could escape me forever?
I snapped my head around to find the sound of the voice and my eyes nearly fell out of my skull when I laid eyes on him. The one person that I did not want to see again.
The Grim Reaper.
“Where am I?” I demanded towards death itself.
Just look around. There is suffering and everything is on fire. Why don’t you tell me where you think you are?
There was a condescending tone to his words as he gestured toward the nearby surroundings. He pulled himself up from where he sat, the black hood up over his skull and his scythe in hand.
I don’t like to lose, not a damn bit, and you have been evading me for long enough. People say that Father Time is undefeated, but Father Time doesn’t have shit on me. You’re here in the place where you belong and it’s been a long time coming.
I bit down on my bottom lip as I feel my knuckles turning white from how tightly my hands with clenched.
“So, this is it? This is how my story ends. Pen to the eye and then boom, I’m living in an eternity in Hell?” My voice trembled with anger.
Don’t tell me you thought you’d end up in that place in the sky.
“I know that this is exactly where I would end up.” I snapped back. “I have no delusions of who I am as a person and the things that I have done. My issue is the way I got here and the fact that I have so much left to do.”
Yeah, pen to the eye is certainly a comical way to go, but what can I say? Even we demons have a sense of humor. I hear the same thing from every single soul that I bring down here. ‘It’s not my time, I have so much more to accomplish’ blah blah blah. Death waits for no living creature.
He turns to face me while slamming the bottom of his scythe into the ground.
However, I am just The Reaper of Souls, I am what you mortals would call the Uber driver to your final damnation. It’s HIM that makes the decisions on when someone kicks the bucket. Your ticket has been punched, I suggest you get used to it.
“HIM?” I narrowed my eyes. “You’re starting to sound like a Scott Stevens promo. I don’t give a fuck if you’re the Amazon driver of my soul or whatever you want to call yourself. If someone else is pulling the strings here then that’s who I need to be talking to.”
You just have no sense of impending doom or biting off more than you can chew, do you?
I didn’t offer a response outside of my steely demeanor and utter disdain for my current situation. The Reaper let out a sigh.
Have it your way.
He raised his scythe into the air before slamming it down into the ground with unearthly force. The entire landscape trembled and cracked as flames shot out from below. I watched on as those flames took on demonic features.
“Who summons me?!” The demonic flames command an answer.
This damned soul here seems to think that he can bargain with you. He is unsatisfied with the circumstances of his untimely demise. His name is—
The Grim Reaper is interrupted by the demonic flames.
“I know this one. I know this one very well, indeed.” The flames said in a sinister tone. “Just what do you think you can say or offer me that any other damned soul couldn’t? What do you have that would value you summoning me here?”
“You think I give a fuck about any other damned soul? I’m here for me and me only.” I pointed to my chest. “And you call this being summoned? I don’t know what the deal is, but I’m not down with this Wizard of Oz bullshit.”
The flames shot out from below with a new level of fury.
“Speak mortal before I decide to banish you from Hell to a place, far, far worse than this!” The flames ordered.
He’s not bluffing.
The Reaper chimed in.
“Look, I’m not here to dick around. I got nothing to offer you, motherfucker, I’m dead. So, why don’t YOU tell ME what I have to do to earn my way out of here and back to the land of the living?” I extended my arms out wide.
“You’ve fallen over off 20 feet high steel structure and through an announcer’s table breaking your neck. You lived on the streets as a child with no money or no shelter. You also managed to suffer a heart attack, which lead you to duel with The Reaper, and yet somehow you survived that. So, what makes you think you deserve an infinite amount of second chances?”
“You call that an infinite amount of second chances? I call that dealing with the shitty hand that life dealt me.” I barked toward the flames. “I get that this isn’t one of those a cat with nine lives sort of deals. I just have unfinished business to attend to and I need to be alive to do it. A majority of it involves professional wrestling but now? Now I have a new calling and a bald, damn near blind motherfucker to dish out revenge on.”
“Revenge you say?” The flames mused with a hint of interest.
“Don’t act like you don’t know what the son of a bitch did to me. Right in the middle of the ring in the most famous arena in the United States. And why? Just because I stood up for myself and pointed out the obvious. So, yeah. You’re damn right I want revenge and I’ll do anything to get it.” My words dripped with defiance.
I will say that the bald one is another that has escaped my grasp for far too long.
The Reaper added.
“I know that one is long overdue to be down here. He likes to fake his demise and toy with others’ emotions. I do rather have an extreme distaste for any mortal that dares calls himself a God.” The flames hissed. “Reaper… give him a contract.”
The Reaper slammed his scythe once again and a contract appeared out of thin air.
“I’ll let you go back, but on the condition that you sign your very soul over to me. I grow tired of you little ants thinking you can skirt damnation on a whim. So, if it’s revenge you seek then I will send you back, but your very essence is the cost of business.” The flames explained.
“Is that it? Where do I sign?” I shrugged my shoulders as The Reaper used his scythe to cut my finger.
Once you sign, there is no way to get out of the contract.
I rolled my eyes and then used my finger to sign my name in blood on the contract. The flames shot up with another level of rage and then began to speak.
“I hope this revenge is all it’s cracked up to be for you. But now that your soul belongs to me, I’ll give you life once again. You’ll still be the same man with the same ability, but just one less eye.” The flames snickered.
“You could send me back with no legs and I’d still find a way to kick Lee Best’s ass.” I retorted with confidence.
“I’ll enjoy watching how you try to make that happen. I’ll be seeing you soon.” The flames laughed before disappearing.
The Reaper slammed his scythe into the ground one more time and everything once again was pitch black. The pain returned in an instant but still, there was only one thing that I could think about.
Lee is smiling as we fade to black.
GLORY GLORY HOW UNITED
Wednesday, March 1st, 2023
Samantha Tolson made her way to the front door of the Denver mansion that she shared with the current LSD Champion. She opened the door to find Jace’s former manager/lover and current rival Madison Carter standing on the other side of it.
“How is he?” Madison asks sheepishly.
Tolson just shook her head slowly in response to the question, which wasn’t a shock to Madison in the slightest bit.
“Come on in. Maybe you can make this all make sense to me.” Tolson stepped to the side and allowed Madison to enter the home.
Madison approached the big leather couch in the living room as Tolson disappeared into the kitchen. Madison took a seat and looked around a bit before Tolson returned holding two mugs of hot coffee. She took a seat beside Madison and handed her one of the mugs.
“I thought I was stubborn…” Tolson began and then sighed. “But he’s–”
Tolson was interrupted by Madison.
“Oh, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.” Madison started to blow on the steaming mug of coffee. “He has tunnel vision when it comes to his goals and ambitions. Once he sets his mind on something there is no point in trying to change his mind.”
“Determination I understand.” Tolson took a sip from her mug. “But this? This is just insanity! I mean, he was stabbed in the eye with a pen in a wrestling match. I’ve been in my fair share of hardcore style matches, but never something like that. That is beyond wrestling, that’s just criminal assault, but yet he still wants to go back.”
“Of course he does, Sam.” Madison said nonchalantly.
“That doesn’t make any sense!” Tolson exclaimed.
“To you or anyone outside of HOW it’s normal to think it’s crazy. But you’re talking about someone that has been in HOW for a long time and that kind of thing is just ingrained in his mind and his veins. At this point, it’s pretty much all he knows.” Madison said in a matter-of-fact tone.
“He got stabbed in the eye with a pen, Madison.” Tolson repeated the gruesome details as if it would suddenly bring new clarity to the situation. “The company owner involved himself in a tag team match with the sole purpose of making Jace lose an eye. Right before a big title defense in England. He shouldn’t want to go wrestle a match in Europe. He should be pressing charges against this man and talking to a lawyer about suing him for every single penny that he’s worth.”
“That won’t happen.” Madison lowered her head and glared into the contents of her mug. “Lee has clauses in their contracts that pretty much protects him against any and everything that could happen to his wrestlers. In High Octane Wrestling, getting stabbed in the eye is normal. Murder in cold blood is just a thing that happens in that place. They all just shrug it off and continue to do what they do.”
There was a sense and awkward silence between the two women as they sat there and sipped at their coffee.
“So, how is he coping…” Madison said quietly. “Honestly?”
Tolson took a moment to think about how to answer as she leaned back against the cushions of the couch.
“He’s been held up in one of the guest rooms since he got out of the hospital. He won’t tell me the condition of his eye.” Tolson paused. “It’s bandaged heavily and under an eye patch. I know he’s in pain. He barely eats and just sits there in the dark popping pain medication and drinking alcohol. He doesn’t speak, Choi has taken over his social media accounts for the time being to keep the ‘Jace will make it to all of his wrestling commitments’ dream alive.”
“Can I see him?” Madison asked in a hopeful tone.
“He won’t allow anyone to enter the room but me. And even then, if I linger too long he hisses and gets aggressive until I leave.” Tolson grips her mug a little tighter. “I just don’t know what to do.”
“I know it’s tough, but you just have to give him time.” Madison reached out and touched Tolson’s shoulder. “I was here during the whole five-year period after his divorce and when he had to retire due to his neck injury. Even though he was told repeatedly he would never wrestle again, he refused to accept that. He won a match against the man that pushed him off of that structure in his last match and yet he still obsessed about returning to the ring.”
“Am I crazy for caring about his well-being?” Tolson’s voice cracked a little bit.
“Not at all.” Madison massaged her shoulder gently. “It’s just that Jace has a Championship belt. He got stabbed in the eye by the man whom he’s bent over backward over and over again since he returned to the ring. And he got pinned by the guy he’s supposed to defend his title against on the 12th. There is no way he’s going to be satisfied ending his career like that.”
“There is a difference between being tough and being reckless.” Samantha argued.
“There is also a difference between being reckless and being smart about how you’re going to get your revenge. Jace is hard-headed, but he still waited five years before he returned to wrestling. The only thing you can do is be there for him because he’s going to do this regardless of what anyone thinks. I feel sorry for Steve Solex.” Madison smiled weakly.
Tolson leaned over and laid her head on Madison’s shoulder. Madison wrapped her arm around Tolson and tried to comfort her the best that she could as the scene fades.
Thursday, March 2nd, 2023
The self-proclaimed Manager of Champions sat on the carpeted floor outside of the door where the LSD Champion had been held up for days. Choi had his back leaned up against the door and his phone in his hands. Choi looked like he hadn’t slept or bathed in about 72 hours. His cheap suit was in tatters but hung loosely on him since he couldn’t remember the last time he had a meal.
“I can only pretend to be you for so long, Champ!” Choi shouted through dry mouth toward the LSD Champion.
His squirrely fingers had gone to work on yet another tweet on Jace’s Twitter account. Just banter back and forth with a woman that went by the name of Kat Jones. It was all blurring together at this point. Choi began to question what he was even doing here.
“Give me a sign that you’re still alive in there, Jacey!” Choi reached up and knocked on the door a couple of times.
Abdullah Choi was a man not known for loyalty. His biggest trait was knowing when to cut bait and move on to the next big thing or the next person with a huge upside. He went where the money and fame were because that was how he made ends meet. That’s how he supported his drug habit. He was thanking whatever deity it was that he believed in, that he had made the decision to meet with Stronk. It was a genius move to inject him with that lethal dose of different drugs and chemicals just in case things with south with the LSD Champion.
“I know you’re tougher than this. A terrible thing that Papa Best did to you Sunday night, but you’re not one to just roll over and accept your punishment. You’re still the LSD Champion and you still have all of that praise and respect to garner for yourself.” Choi pleaded.
In the back of his mind, Choi knew that Stronk would one day be STRONK again. And eventually, regardless of being under Lee and GREAT SCOTT’s care, STRONK would need guidance. STRONK would need someone to take care of his daily needs. Purchasing massive amounts of meat. Having a plumber on speed dial. Booking flights to and from different events. Choi hated every moment of it, however, right now that seemed like Heaven compared to his current situation happened to be.
“They’re all laughing at you. Steve Solex, everyone on the roster, and anyone that knows you well enough to follow what happens. All of them are having a mighty good giggle over the fact that you got a bottomline from Papa Best. Even Scott Stevens, who has an eye patch of his own, is laughing about what happened to you. They’ve started to call you the Pirate King.” Choi confesses.
Chances are that Jace Parker Davidson was a broken man. Coming back from a neck injury is one thing, but getting stabbed in the eye by your boss on television is a whole new level of fucked up. Where was the upside? How was a one-eyed Jace Parker Davidson going to overcome Lee Best and his Final Alliance? How was Jace going to be ready in time to face Steve Solex for the LSD Championship belt in England now that Lee had stacked the deck in Solex’s favor? Conor Fuse had proved to be useless on Sunday night and everyone else on the roster was either worthless or someone Jace had already pissed off.
Every fiber of Choi’s being told him to go crawling back to Stronk and not look back but here he was.
“If you decide you just want to bow out gracefully? I won’t judge you. It’s probably the smart thing to do here.”
Choi paused and then thought over his words carefully. Hoping to get some kind of confirmation from his client.
“Lee Best has all the power, he’s the GOD of HOW for a reason. I don’t like Steve Solex any more than you do. However, he did pin you on Sunday night, so, he’ll be super confident heading into the PPV. Especially because Lee made the stipulation of the match that the LSD Championship belt will be hidden somewhere within Old Trafford. The first man to find it wins the match. He’ll tell Solex where to look.”
Choi’s head slumped as he slowly placed his phone back into his pocket.
“Listen…” Choi spoke in a somber tone. “I’m sorry for what happened to you. I thank you for taking me on as your manager after everyone thought STRONK died. I really owe you one for helping me keep the secret of who killed MONGO.”
Choi reached into his pocket for a tissue that he has used to blow his nose… among other things.
“You never know when the end is coming until it gets here.” Choi coughed into the tissue. “But you’ll be fine, Jacey. You got this nice place and a beautiful woman. You still have STRONKUMMS LLC and your ownership in the LFL and the Roller Derby league. You’ll be as much of a baller as an owner as you were as a wrestler. But I think that I need to cut–”
Choi is interrupted by the door swinging open unexpectedly. He falls over onto his back but quickly scurries away from the room towards the banister on the staircase. He watches in amazement as a hooded Jace Parker Davidson emerges from the darkness inside the room. His eye is heavily bandaged and covered with an eye patch. His hair and beard are unkempt and wild but in his one good eye? There was nothing but a burning hatred and determination.
“Pull yourself together and be ready to go in a couple of hours.” Jace spoke for the first time since Sunday night.
His voice was raspy, but his body was tense with both anger and pain. Choi gulped down the knot in his throat and then pulled himself back up to his feet.
“Ready be ready to go where exactly?” Choi questioned while flinching in fear of being attacked for trying to quit on his client.
“Where do you think? I have an LSD Championship belt to get back.” Jace growled.
Choi nodded his head and then ran off to go eat. He also needed to shower so that he could be ready as Jace commanded. Once Choi was out of sight, Jace leaned over and placed his hand over his bad eye while trying not to cry out in pain. His teeth ground together as that same thing just kept repeating in his head.
Lee is smiling as we fade to black.
GLORY GLORY HOW UNITED