John Sektor stumbled through the corridors of the arena, his mind throbbing with defeat and a likely new concussion from the knee of Evan Ward. His head had received so many brutal blows over the past month or so that he was beginning to imagine it looking less like grey matter and more like a dense porridge in which all of his memories were mixed together like warm, wet cement. Some things jiggled around in there with sharp edges poking out here and there, while others sank into pits, distorted as if by currents. The mushy parts were covered over by smooth sheets of thin skin that looked pinkish-grey, though in reality they matched the colour of his scalp.
Each step felt heavy, weighed down by the weight of his shattered dreams. The echo of the cheering crowd served only as a haunting reminder of his loss. With each step, his boots thudded against the cold concrete floor, echoing his defeat. He reached the locker room door, his heart sinking with every step. Opening it, he stepped in, his body wracked with frustration.
As he reached the entrance of the dimly lit locker room, John’s clammy palms clenched into fists, knuckles turning white. His heart pounded in his chest, a symphony of anger and frustration. He had trained tirelessly for this championship defence, poured his soul into perfecting each move, only to be defeated at the last moment. The taste of victory had slipped through his fingers like sand, leaving behind an unbearable bitterness.
With a sudden burst of rage, Sektor slammed open the door, the hinges screeching in protest. The room fell silent as his fierce gaze scanned the space, his eyes locking onto anyone foolish enough to meet his seething stare. He found that the room was empty and he was alone, which was probably for the best. Sweat glistened on his chiselled jaw, his breathing heavy and laboured. The air in the locker room grew thick with tension, like a brewing storm waiting to unleash its fury.
He stared at the empty room in silence, feeling the emptiness consuming him as his heart weighed heavy. Instinctively he reached to his shoulder to remove the HOTv championship, but it wasn’t there.
His hand quivered above his exposed shoulder, trembling as if they were about to break out into a dance. His eyes darted back and forth, searching for an escape or a safe place to land. The anger was boiling under the surface, threatening to blow any second now.A stampede of memory and emotions began to race through his mind and felt like a flip book cartoon as he relived the final moments of the match. His jaw ached as his teeth were firmly clamped together, beginning to squeak in their roots before he finally snapped.
The physio table was the first to go as the former champion flipped it on its side and sent it crashing against the wall of the room, knocking a fair chunk of plaster onto the floor. Steel chairs began to fly in different directions, each one earning its own primal scream for momentum. With nothing left to throw he began pounding his fist repeatedly into the centre of one of the lockers, screaming with each punch and feeling no pain as he worked on trying to punch a hole through it. In his rage he hadn’t noticed that by beating the locker he had ripped the steel door clean off its hinges and thrown it across the room.
He reached inside the locker, not knowing or caring who it was, and began to disembowel it. A bottle of cologne was soon shattered against the wall as other toiletries littered the place like a scene from a nasty breakup.
John collapsed on the bench in the locker room, his head bowed and shoulders slumped. His anger had evaporated into thin air, leaving behind a sense of helplessness. He was completely alone, and he felt it deeply.
The weight of his defeat pressed firmly against his chest and he collapsed onto the bench, burying his face in his hands. Sweat trickled down his face, and his heavily bruised hand began to swell with pain. The room was filled with the sound of his heavy breathing, each exhale deeper than the last as if he were trying to expel all of his pain from within himself.
His mind was filled with thoughts of what could have been had he won tonight’s match – another rung climbed on the ladder. Another successful title defence against a high calibre opponent. Another victory in his undefeated restart to his career. But those dreams were now nothing more than distant memories that faded further away by the second.
He raised his head slowly, gazing into the empty space before him once more, filling it with sad reflections of what could have been. His hands balled into fists as he reminded himself not to give up – this wasn’t over yet! He vowed to be back stronger and more determined than ever before. He said a silent promise to himself that he would reclaim what was rightfully his -the HOTv championship belt!
With newfound hope John rose from the bench and glared at the exit of the locker room. His shoulder’s were squared and his back straightened and he began to channel all of the emotions he was feeling.
“No,” he growled. “This isn’t right. This isn’t how it ends. I want a fucking re-match!”
He took a step forward with the purpose of marching into Lee Best’s office and demanding a rematch the following week. It was do or die at that point and he didn’t care who he pissed off. He wasn’t thinking straight enough to try and be diplomatic and he knew Lee was a man of action and not words. He would march in there, slam his bleeding and bruised hand on his desk and look straight through his sunglasses and into his soulless eyes and not ask, but demand that he give him a rematch next week.
Then something caught his eye and halted his next step. It seemed that a wall mounted TV in the far corner of the room had survived his rampage and was now bringing a live feed of Chaos back from the commercial.
Sektor stared at the monitor, only the sound of his own heavy breathing resounding within the four walls. He was looking at Adam Ellis on the screen, standing tall with his wife by his side. The Tv had been muted, so he carefully made his way over to it and turned up the volume. The first sounds he heard caused his back to straighten:
“FUCK LEE-BEST! FUCK LEE-BEST! FUCK LEE-BEST!”
This was the first time he’d seen Adam since he’d attacked him mercilessly at the Heartland the week prior. He had been left with conflicting emotions, but mostly remorse. He was angry with Adam, but never wanted to hurt him. Seeing him on the screen, looking well, brought a certain amount of relief.
He listened carefully as Adam spoke. He felt himself feeling proud that Adam was still showing courage and fight, and wasn’t allowing his actions against him to get the better of him. He still had the heart of warrior and not even Sektor was able to take that away from him. He could feel pride warming him and he could only assume that this is how he should of felt had he raised his own daughter properly and been there for her.
His smile soon faded as his own name was in the mouth of his former apprentice.
“John told me to be patient and promised that things would look better Sektor and I won a tag match against Conor Fuse and Darin Zion. But what happened? Sektor half-assed his way through the match and ultimately got pinned. The HOW contract offer never came and I felt betrayed and disillusioned.”
It was the ‘half-assed’ comment that did it. He felt the rage bubbling again and it was still warm so it didn’t need much encouragement. Failure always brought out the worst of him. Being reminded of it by his former apprentice only served to exacerbate both his anger and self loathing over his failures.
He screamed like a wild beast as he ripped the TV off the wall, ending the transmission abruptly. It flew across the room and cracked against the wall, landing in a broken and irreparable heap.
The city lights of Charleston flickered outside John Sektor’s hotel room, casting a colorful glow on the worn-out carpet. He lay sprawled across the King-sized bed, his wrestling trunks discarded on the floor beside him. It had been a tough night for the seasoned wrestler, losing the HOTv championship to his rival, Evan Ward. Sweat clung to his muscular form, evidence of the gruelling match that had stolen his crown.
John stirred, his eyes fluttering open as a chill sent shivers down his spine. There, at the end of his bed, he saw a figure, bathed in an ethereal glow. He blinked, certain he was still caught in the hazy realm between dreams and reality. But the figure remained, her presence tangible and undeniable.
“Chloe?” John’s voice was little more than a whisper, disbelief etched across his face. His estranged daughter, Chloe Sektor, stared back at him with piercing azure eyes that held a lifetime of hurt and resentment.
She looked older than she should be, the weight of disappointment and abandonment etched upon every line of her face. John’s heart ached as he realised the years he had missed, the memories stamped with his absence.
“You’re-you’re not real,” he stammered, his voice laced with a mix of fear and hope. “You’re just a ghost, a figment of my guilt-ridden imagination.”
With a bitter laugh, Chloe shook her head, her voice dripping with disdain. “You always did have a flair for dramatics, Dad. But I’m no ghost. I’m flesh and blood, just like you. Or at least, what’s left of it.”
John’s breath caught in his throat as Chloe’s words hit him like a sucker punch. His daughter, once his pride and joy, now sat before him, armed with a lifetime’s worth of resentment. The realisation of his failures as both a father and a wrestler hung heavy in the air.
And so, in the silence of that dimly lit room, the battle began. Not in a wrestling ring with triumphant cheers and roaring crowds, but in the fractured heart of a broken family. John Sektor, the man who had embodied strength and resilience in the ring, now faced his greatest challenge yet – his own demons and a daughter who refused to let him escape the consequences of his choices.
“I hope losing that championship was worth it, Dad,” Chloe spat.
With a sudden thud in his chest he woke up panting relentlessly. His right hand clutched his chest as his heart felt as though it was going to break through his sternum like something out of Alien. As the sweat poured off him he looked around at the same hotel room and at the same spot where he had seen his daughter sitting, except she was no longer there.
As his mind gathered and the panic settled he realised that she was never there, but simply a haunting of his own inner demons coming to torture and torment him.
“I’m fucking losing it,” he sighed, burying his head in his hands and wiping the sweat from his brow.
He couldn’t go back to sleep, even if he wanted to. His mind was racing and the best thing he could do was get up and try and reason with himself. He was his own worst enemy in these situations and he knew it, but usually he could get a handle on it. This time felt different. Losing the title, losing to Ward, Adam Ellis, Chloe…they were all proving too much and he felt himself crumbling.
Gingerly he threw his legs over the side of his bed. Every tendon in his body was tight as a drum and every muscle had seized up from the consuming match he had just had. The pain and immobility only made it worse. The ‘IT’ being the realisation that his age was catching up to him. Being HOTv champion gave him the opportunity to show the world that he can still compete week in and week out and most importantly, that he could win. He was failing and that hurt worse than any physical pain he had ever endured.
He opened up the mini bar and pulled out a few miniature whisky’s, taking the cap straight off one and pouring it down his throat. He felt it burn all the way down and soon it was burning even hotter in his empty stomach. Soon he would be reaching for the antacids because acid reflux was a real thing for people of his age.
He found himself wishing that he had kept an emergency pack of cigarettes. He had cigar’s but he only enjoyed those when he was happy and winning.
Standing at the window he looked out over the city as light spatterings of rain obscured his view. He began thinking about what his daughter meant when she said ‘was it worth it?’ It didn’t matter if she was a ghost or a dream. His mind was trying to tell him something but he didn’t know what.
Was he giving up. Was this the moment that he should admit to himself that he was wrong to come back? That he should have ended things when he lost the LSD title after such a successful run last time around? He had been undefeated up until tonight, but five matches wasn’t enough to prove anything.
He shook his head and unscrewed another bottle, downing it for added courage and to numb these toxic feelings. He couldn’t allow himself to be defeated. If we walked away now then he would only be proving everyone right. That he’s good when he’s winning but doesn’t have the resolve to come back from a loss or a losing streak. When the going gets tough he just walks away and hides.
He couldn’t stomach that thought. He had to prove that this was only a blip, a mistake.
He had a chance of redemption. He didn’t even need to demand a rematch because, as it turned out, Lee had had a similar tantrum to his own and made the rematch for next week without a second thought. It was a chance to heal all of these wounds. It was an opportunity to take back his crown and it was his final shot at saving face with Evan Ward.
It was the embarrassment that was killing him most. Ward had pushed the right buttons with his letter and mockery that he had made of him. He had promised Ward that he would be the one left looking stupid when the bell rang. As he looked around the city he felt sick at the thought that somewhere out there Evan was sleeping with his title and grinning smugly.
He was wrong to imply that Evan’s rank was a factor in their match. Rank is only a reflection of form not overall skill or ability. Evan was far better than his current ranking and he knew that. Evan had always been a challenge for Sektor. For some unknown reasons he was one of few wrestlers who he struggled to beat and struggled to figure out. A bogey-man as some would call it, just one of those rivals who for some unknown reason he couldn’t get the best of.
But he had to. It was as simple as that. This was a mammoth challenge and he knew it but losing wasn’t an option. He had to find a way to win.
Sektor knew that he had to change his strategy if he wanted to win against Evan Ward. He couldn’t approach this match with the same strategy as before and expect different results. He needed to figure out Evan’s weaknesses and exploit them, but that was easier said than done. He had studied tapes of Evan’s matches, and he knew that Evan was one of the most well-rounded wrestlers in the league. He had no major weaknesses, and he was equally skilled in all areas of the ring. But there had to be something that Sektor could use to his advantage.
As he sat in his hotel room, watching the rain fall outside, he thought back to the last time he had faced Evan. He had lost that match, but it had been close. He had come within an inch of winning, but Evan had managed to catch him cold with his finishing move and pin him for the win. What had he done wrong? What could he have done differently?
He replayed the match in his mind over and over.
And then it hit him. There was a split second during the match where Evan had hesitated, just for a moment, before executing a move. Sektor had always assumed it was a fluke, a lucky break on his part. But now, thinking back, he realised that Evan had a weakness after all. He hesitated when he was uncertain.
It was a small weakness, but it was something. Sektor could work with that. He began to formulate a new strategy, one that would exploit Evan’s hesitation. He spent the rest of the night studying every move he could think of that might cause Evan to hesitate, and would practise them in the gym until they were second nature.
Defeat lies heavily. Hope? Hope was frail and brittle, easily broken, but he was hanging onto it desperately. He would have to use everything he had to beat Evan and take back the title. He would do everything it took to beat Evan. He would whisper things in his ear to get him riled up. He would cheat. He’ll make illegal moves when he knows the referee wasn’t looking. Whatever it takes he will find a way or he will go out swinging and trying.
If he loses this time? Then he loses knowing that he gave it everything he had. Then at least he can walk away without this feeling of shame lingering over him.
That’s all he could do..