Great Western Woodlands
Saturday, August 5th, 2022
The darkness had overtaken the Woodlands as another day had come to a close. It was another day that HOW Hall of Famer Jace Parker Davidson had spent all on his own surviving here in the Outback in preparation for his match at 97RED tomorrow night. It hadn’t been the easiest of times but every day, every hour spent here got a little bit easier for the man that would be challenging for the HOW World Championship belt.
Being alone gave him a lot of time to think. A lot of time to plan and a lot of time to reflect on things. He had done everything he could possibly do at this point to prepare to face the mountain of a man known as STRONK!
Jace sat cross-legged on the ground in front of the fire he had used to cook his dinner earlier in the evening. His hands were folded in his lap and his clothing was dirty and torn. His body was covered in certain places with bandages or medical aids. Each injury, each scratch, or cut a lesson learned about the territory that he has been living in. The crackle of the fire filled the silence of the night. The heat from the flames washed over him. He had his eye closed and remained seated in place. Focusing his mind until the sound of a voice spoke up.
“I never pegged you to be the type to resort to prayer. That’s absolutely precious.”
Davidson opened his eye slowly and looked over at the source of the voice. Seated cross-legged on the other side of the fire was the person that taunted him. The person, or rather, the demon that had been the voice in his head for months now. The Devil himself has an amused smirk on his face as he looked through the flames at the man that has cheated death twice now.
“When God in this instance is Lee Best, I’d rather just live my life as an atheist,” Jace responded calmly.
“Long time no see, mortal. You’re looking positively dreadful since I’ve last seen you.” The Devil critiqued. “You’re looking to be about a full B-cup right now but I’m sure in a few weeks or so you’ll achieve that C-cup you’ve been shooting for all this time.”
“Is Michael Oliver Best writing all of your material now?” Davidson asked with a slight rise of his eyebrow.
The Devil leaned back and laughed out loud before focusing his attention back on the Hall of Famer.
“That’s a good one, truly, it is. However, I’m pretty sure that focusing on what that fake British fancy boy has to say isn’t going to get you what you want.” The Devil pointed out. “You have a legitimate killing machine deadset on murdering you for what you did to his… what was it? His cow, believe.”
“Bull.” Jace corrected. “Its name was MONGO and he loved him very much.”
The Devil rolls his eyes.
“Cow, bull, what does it matter?” The Devil questioned. “Either way it was just a dumb animal that would have made a better steak than it would have a pet. Here’s a thought, why don’t let that muscle-bound simpleton milk you every morning and then all will be forgiven.”
“Why are you here?!” There was a stern tone to Davidson’s voice this time.
“Why am I here? You poor little mortal, I am everywhere.” The Devil revealed. “But I am here in this particular spot right now because you, you filthy mortal… are my property and I thought I would check in on you before you ultimately kick the bucket for good this time.”
Davidson’s facial expression soured a bit.
“So, you think I’m going to die tomorrow tonight? You think that is my destiny?” There was a bit of spite in his voice.
“The whole destiny thing isn’t something that I do. That’s the other guy’s department.” The Devil said dismissively. “I’m just saying that the betting money says that your final hours would be spent better digging your grave than it would be trying to find your center. Or whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish here.”
“Don’t you think that I know that?” Davidson asked. “I know the moment that STRONK! won War Games that he’d be the odds-on favorite in any match he’s in. So, against me? I’m sure that the popular opinion that Godson is going to grind me into dust. I’m used to people doubting me and my abilities.”
“Doubt? Is that what you’re calling it?” The Devil let the question hang in the air. “Doubt is for things like if a tuna sandwich is still good a day after its expiration date. They aren’t doubting you, mortal, it’s just that you’ve shown absolutely nothing at all to make them want to put their word or their money behind you.”
“Still sounds like doubt to me.” Davidson sighed and continued to try and calmed himself.
“And as usual, you’re missing the point.” The Devil hissed.
“That’s because other people’s opinions aren’t important.” Davidson countered.
“Of course not, but they all can’t be wrong.” The Devil fired back. “Where is the line between opinion and common sense in your mind?”
“I’m sitting here in the Outback having a conversation with The Devil,” Jace responded. “I believe all opinion and common sense flew out of the window a very long time ago.”
A low growl came from The Devil on the other side of the fire.
“That’s the annoying thing about you, mortal.” The Devil confessed. “You think that you’re smarter than everyone else. You think that the rules don’t apply to you. You take any criticism, an insult, and just let it wash off your back because you’re too cool to care. Most people out there are going to tune in tomorrow night to watch you get destroyed and you’re just fine with that.”
“Just because they think that’s what is going to happen doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen,” Davidson argued. “Look, I don’t fucking care about what people think. I can bend over backward, I can win just about every title that there is to win, and yet, people will still act like I’m nothing. I’m never going to win a popularity contest but what I can do is win a fight.”
“Win a fight he says.” The Devil laughs again. “Clearly, that’s something you’ve been very good at lately, isn’t it? Just like you lost at War Games. Just like you lost that eight-person brawl when STRONK! was right there in the ring? Or how about that match against the mortal known as Townsend? You… you pathetic, mortal, have done nothing but embarrass yourself.”
“Enough of this mortal bullshit!” Jace barked. “I have a name!”
“Then do something significant to make me remember what that name is!” The Devil shouted which made the flames of the fire shoot higher.
“Is Hell that boring lately that you have to show up and harass me to get your kicks?” Davidson questioned. “What do you want from me?!”
The Devil rose to his feet slowly and glared down at Jace.
“Are you suggesting that I have an attitude problem?” The Devil asked with a scornful tone.
“Oh no…” Davidson replied sarcastically. “You’re practically a ray of sunshine.”
“I am pissed off!” The Devil proclaimed.
“No shit, Sherlock.” Davidson scoffed.
“I’m pissed off because of you!” The Devil added. “I’m pissed off because you’re not pissed off. You’re just sitting here like a lump of shit just bidding the time before you meet your maker.”
“What good is being pissed off going to do?” Davidson closed his eye again.
The Devil’s tail twitched back and forth much like a cat ready to attack its prey.
“What good?” The Devil retorted in an offended tone. “It would do no good at all and that’s why it would be perfect for you to utilize in this uphill battle. Instead, you’d rather be a wet blanket. You’d rather play it safe because taking a big risk is far too scary for you.”
“You call what I do ‘playing it safe?’” Davidson opened his eye again.
“Oh, does that bother you?” The Devil placed his hand over his chest. “Tell me what you’ve done that is so dangerous? And don’t say sitting out here on your own for days fighting off creepy crawlies.”
“I attacked Michael Oliver Best and got myself this title shot tomorrow night,” Davidson exclaimed.
“You attacked the manager of the guy that’s the real threat?” The Devil tilted his head. “The man that is probably old enough to be your grandfather?”
“I put down STRONK! with a shot to the base of the skull with a sledgehammer,” Davidson added.
“And you didn’t finish the job!” The Devil pointed his finger down at Jace. “You had there on the canvas, not even moving and you did what? Oh, you grabbed hold of that Championship belt and looked at it real hard. A belt that you didn’t even leave with because you placed it down on Godson’s body.”
“What is your point?” Davidson was getting annoyed by the moment.
“If one sledgehammer shot took him down so effectively.” The Devil explained. “Then why didn’t you give him a second, third, fourth, or even twelfth shot with that sledgehammer? You could have ended him right there and then and you didn’t. You’d rather let him have time to recover just so he can use your body as a railroad to bigger and better things.”
“That’s just not–” Davidson gets interrupted.
“Not what?” The Devil held his arms out wide. “The ‘right’ thing to do?”
Davidson’s nostrils flared as The Devil continued.
“That big oath is determined to end you tomorrow night and you’ve been pulling your punches this entire time.” The Devil began to pace back and forth in front of the fire. “You think that you’re going to talk that caveman into not murdering you? He’s barely able to traverse through a single day without killing himself accidentally. You have a steroid-filled monster Hell bent on vengeance and you’re playing with kid gloves on.”
“Stop acting like I can’t fight fire with fire,” Davidson growled.
“That’s right, you set another mortal on fire that one time.” The Devil bends over and grins in Davidson’s face. “And then what happened? You got told you did a bad thing by that bald walking skeleton that clings onto what little life he has left. And much like the scolded dog that you are… you decided to put out any fire inside or outside of you because another mortal told you, a grown-ass adult, not to do it again.”
Davidson rises to his feet and stands face-to-face with The Devil. Anger is written all over Jace’s expression.
“I’ve had enough!”
“That’s a lie.” The Devil quipped. “If you had enough then you wouldn’t be in the situation that you’re in.”
“You know nothing about the fire inside of me,” Davidson argued.
“Whatever flame you think you have inside of you couldn’t even light a candle at this point.” The Devil lectured. “You’re no ‘King of Everything’ because you’re more like the ‘King of Welcome Mats.’ You let almost everyone walk all over you to achievements you could have had yourself, just perfectly content to wait your turn instead of taking what you want.”
“Shut up!” Davidson’s tone got more aggressive.
“How much longer are you going stand here with your thumb up your ass pretending you’re something you’re not?” The Devil kept pressing the issue. “You let someone stab you in the eye with a pen and what did you do? You let some fat, taco-loving, stoner do more damage to the bald bitch than you did. You let him urinate on you and did nothing about it. What? Does he have to literally shit on you before you take action?”
“What do you expect me to do?” Davidson yelled back.
“I expect you to open your eyes!” The Devil reached out and jammed his finger against the eye patch over Davidson’s eye. “Time after time I’ve watched you walk into that ring and just struggle your way through a match when it could be so easy.”
“Yes, because cutting my lifespan is so easy!” Davidson snapped.
“It is if this is what you call a life!” The Devil groaned. “You could meet your end in less than 24 hours and for what? Why did you sign over your soul to me for the chance to come back just to fucking waste it? I should honestly drag you back down to Hell right now and cut my losses.”
“I won’t waste it,” Davidson said in defiance. “Not anymore.”
“Then do what you know you need to do.” The Devil stated as he turned his back to Davidson. “Ditch the eye patch and show that thickheaded mutant on drugs what true power really looks like.”
With a snap of his fingers, The Devil caused the flames of the fire to explode with a blinding fury. Then the heat died down and the fire went back to normal, Davidson was once again alone in the Woodlands.
Great Western Woodlands
Sunday, August 6th, 2022
The sun hung high into the sky here in the Woodlands. The area was alive with the sounds of different birds and other wildlife. The sound of water can be heard off in the distance here on this Sunday morning. Jace Parker Davidson was going about his day like it was any other day, without the pressure of the upcoming match later tonight against the HOW World Champion STRONK! Godson.
Davidson had set up his camcorder once again and pointed it toward himself. Once he made himself as presentable as possible given the circumstance, he pressed the record button.
“This will be my last video from here in the Outback since tonight is the 97RED PPV and my match against the HOW World Champion STRONK!”
Davidson nods his head slowly taking in the gravity of what is to come in mere hours.
“I’ve already talked about Sir. Plot Device aka Uncle Ollie. So, I want to talk about my actual opponent, the man that I once considered my best friend. The HOW World Champion, that would be you, STRONK! Now, I know talking and words aren’t your thing but I want you to listen and focus very carefully on what I have to say.”
Davidson pauses for a moment and focuses his attention on the lens of the camcorder.
“I know you’ve been told a lot of things. Some of them are true and some of them are not. I know you feel like that I’ve somehow taken everything from you. Now, I’m not going to sit here and try to unclog your brain of all the lies and half-truths you’ve been fed since you’ve come back. What I am going to do is just tell you my side of things and just maybe… make you understand why things are the way they are between us at the moment.”
He takes a moment to clear his throat before continuing.
“I did not kill MONGO. I did not pull the trigger, however, I knew about the whole situation and helped in keeping the truth about what happened from you. So, that makes me just as guilty as the person who did it. That means that I was a bad friend to you and for that I am sorry. The STRONKUMMS company I never tried to take from you. I thought you had died. No one told me where you were or what was going on. I was the one that had to keep things moving with the company.”
Davidson took a deep breath.
“Did I do a great job of that? Probably not, I can’t say that every single idea I had with the company was a winner. Being the one in control of STRONKUMMS wasn’t my sole focus because I was worried about you, I was worried about competing, and I was worried about a thousand other things all at once. My thought process was to just keep the company going until you would come back so that STRONKUMMS could be what you envisioned it to be. But that didn’t happen…”
There is an edge to Davidson’s voice.
“There was no warning, no phone call, pretty much nothing at all from you. There was no meet-up where we would talk and catch up. Reconnect and go over ideas and the status of your health. No, you came back and instead of having Choi by your side, you replaced him with Lee’s brother. You had your mind set on what you thought was happening and have been fed orders and demands daily. Lee and his brother buttered you up with the whole making stronk into STRONK! Which is great because it’s no secret how much you love your muscles.”
Davidson looks down at his own body and the lack of muscle mass before sighing.
“You were so laser-focused on getting back to your previous glory that you couldn’t see what was happening around you. Lee gives you a new pet, he tasks members of The Final Alliance to supervise your growth from stronk to STRONK! like they actually did something important. And with you, it’s like any small bit of kindness. Any tiny gesture of caring blinds you from the knife being held behind that person’s back. And trust me, I understand why you’re that way. I know how rough it was for you growing up.”
Davidson’s demeanor tones from calm to deadly serious.
“But you’re a grown man now and it’s time you stop acting like a child. It’s time for you to let go of what happened to you when you were younger and move forward, not backward.”
Jace lets the words marinate for a moment.
“See, the problem is STRONK! that you are the HOW World Champion but you have no idea what it means to be the HOW World Champion. You don’t understand the history or the difficulty of wearing that Championship belt. In your eyes, that Championship is nothing more than added weight to your ‘BIGNESS’ that you’re obsessed with. The only reason you care about that belt, the sole reason you’re willing to fight to the death… even against me… for that title is because you’ve connected the dots in your head that having that belt means you’d give love from your precious ‘Papa Best.’”
Davidson’s face contorts like he’s got a foul taste in his mouth that he can’t get rid of.
“You don’t understand Lee Best, you rarely understand anyone because you are far too trusting. Deep down, you’re a gentle giant, and from the moment you stepped foot in HOW people have tried to take advantage of that. Myself included at times. No one person is ever completely good or completely evil. You need to be able to tell the difference. Was I taking advantage of you at first? Absolutely I was… but then I got to know you, STRONK! The more I got to know you, the more I liked you and considered you my friend. I wouldn’t have started STRONKUMMS with you if I was just using you.”
“If I wanted to take from you, I would have just edited some paperwork to have all of your share of the profits sent to my bank account and not yours. But I know it’s my word against the word of the ones you think honestly love you. I’m made to look like the villain in this tale. I tried to hold back all the times you attacked me or sent DOG after me. But I’m human, and finally had to fight back. Cause you can understand my aggression, my rage, and my punches better than you ever will my words.”
Davidson stops and then grabs hold of the camcorder. He holds it as he begins to move around. He comes to a stop in front of a small cage that is on the ground. Inside the cage is a Wallaby that Jace has caught.
“Say hello to my pre-match meal. See STRONK! I’ve been living off the land here in the Outback. Dealing with the elements and getting used to the surroundings and all the things that are luring around. I’m sure you’ve done a bit of the same but I’m sure you’re more concerned with trying to battle a giant Octopus or catching a Whale because that’s the shit that makes Lee giddy in the pants. But honestly, STRONK!? Life has been easy for you. Once you started doing the juice and getting ‘STRONK!’ you’ve had people willing to bend over backward for your services. Shelley Greene dealt with all the small things you never cared about all because you were his meal ticket. You made the money that kept Shelley with a roof over his head and drugs in his bloodstream.”
Davidson looks down at the Wallaby who seems ready to attack at any moment.
“From Shelley, you went to Lee, and now from Lee, you have MOB. Who is next in line? Who is the next person that you’re going to depend on to fix your shitters, provide you with steroids, and copious amounts of meat for you to shove in your face hole? They call you the ‘STRONKEST! Man Alive’ but you’re not that, not at all. As much as you love your ‘BIGNESS’ and take pride in it, it’s all just a fraud. You’re not big, STRONK!, not where it counts. No matter how many pokes you take from a needle, you’ll still be a short little shit height-wise. Instead of looking like a normal human being, you look like a walking, grunting, shitting, meatball.”
Davidson continues to observe the Wallaby in the cage.
“And yeah, I know that I don’t fit your definition of ‘BIGNESS’ anymore. I’m sure MOB has told you by now about the Estrogen in my system but I am sure that’s too big of a word for you to understand. So, basically, I’m more lady than man at the moment. I’m like ‘ROBERNETTE’ without annoying mouth noises and constant yeast infection. So, I’m sure you think that crushing me will be a simple task. But remember what happened at War Games. Remember how I put you through the cage and took you down for longer than Lee or Ollie will ever admit to you? Remember how I took you down with a single shot with a sledgehammer that you didn’t see coming? Underestimating me isn’t something you want to do.”
Davidson turns to face the camcorder in his hand.
“You see, STRONK! You’re stuck in the past and how your family and your so-called friends were all shitty people. So now, you take any small gesture, whether genuine or not, and you put it on a pedestal. You’re looking for love and acceptance but you’re going to the wrong people for that. Lee Best doesn’t love you STRONK! He’s not a ‘Papa’ to you. Lee only loves what you can do for him. Lee only loves the fact that that belt is around your waist. You have to ask yourself, what happens if you lose that belt? What happens when Christopher America is finally found and he decides he wants to win a 4th War Games match? What happens when Mike Best’s butt gets itchy and he decides you’ve had too much time in the spotlight?”
A smirk slowly forms over his lips.
“That means Mike will pester Lee until Lee gives him what he wants. It means he’ll take his ball and threaten not to play anymore until Lee forsakes everyone else to keep the Golden Boy happy. All those men you consider ‘brothers’ will all want their turn. Just like Dan Ryan, just like Jatt and Mike. Just like Solex since he’s never won it. Just like Christopher America since he had a commitment ceremony with that belt. Slowly, but surely, you’ll drop on the totem pole of Lee Best’s love back order list. You just won’t believe it until you see it with your own eyes. And that brings us to later tonight.”
Davidson grabs hold of the cage and shakes it around violently. Once he stops, the Wallaby cowers to one of the back corners of the cage frightened.
“You are just like this little Wallaby. You’ve got the name in all caps, STRONK! but the reality is that you’re still that little neglected and abused little boy locked in a cage. All the liquid muscles in the world aren’t going to hide the fact that you’re still small. You think that Championship belt is what keeps you big and STRONK! However, I’m going to do everything in my power to take it away from you. The added weight, the source of Lee Best’s love and affection, and the thing that makes your so-called family from turning on you. Not because I’m an evil person, not because I’m the villain in your story. I’m going to do it out of love.”
“Real, honest love that isn’t always what you want to hear or see but what you need to hear and see. And after that happens? You can continue to hate me if you want to, you can make it your mission in life to crush me. Or you can take a moment to carefully think about how you want to go about things moving forward. We can start to rebuild that bridge and make you more of a self-sufficient person. Or you can be the monkey dancing for coins for someone else. Either way, later tonight at 97RED…”
Davidson reaches up with his free hand and pulls off his eye patch. He opens the eye that Lee Best stabbed with a pen and looks right into the lens.
“I’m going to open your eyes to reality because now, my eyes are truly wide open. See you later tonight, buddy.”
Davidson holds the camcorder and focuses it on the eye that is bruised and discolored around the socket. The color of his brown eyes has faded and turned slightly grey. The eye just glares, unblinking, before the camcorder is turned off.