“I’m talkin’ pedicure on our toes, toes. Tryin’ on all our clothes, clothes. Boys blowin’ up our phones, phones. Drop-toppin’, playin’ our favorite CDs, pullin’ up to the parties tryna get a littel bit tipsy.” – Ke$ha, my favorite version of James “Perfection” Fragilehold
One Week Ago….
A hot breeze rattled the dead leaves and discarded garbage that filled the desolate parking lot of the abandoned building that occupied the far end of an otherwise lively strip mall; a lingering remnant like some dead, withered limb never removed from the body. The front doors were cracked and broken, the once pristine and futuristic lobby was grey and dull, plant and animal fecal matter dotting the ground.
Standing in the middle of the lobby was the white suited Minister, his blue eye closed while the red one seemed to burn forward, unblinking. His hands hung at his side as he seemed to take in several deep breaths, a rigor grin spread across his waxy, pale face.
“Mmmm… breath in the smell of progress..”
He growled lowly as he opened his eye, a twisted flicker of life shimmering in the arctic cold blue ring that surrounded his pit black pupil. The sound of shuffling could be heard as a small congregation of his disheveled and dedicated followers. As always there are, among them, ninjas, EPU guards, the homeless and others who appear to be draped in weird, cultish robes. They all appear to now wear the white masks with red crosses on them though giving them a particularly disquieting appearance.
The sound of heavy breathing can be heard as the Minister’s willing followers all attempt to suck air in to taste the progress that the Minister had just spoken of. In all it sounds like the room was filled with mouth breathers after an hour of cardio. The smile previously stretched across the Minister’s face cracks into a frown as he listens to the chorus of suckering breathe.
“Okay, stop now, stop breathing in the progress.. ” He hissed as the laboured breathing stopped and his followers seemed to grow still. Shaking his head with a look of disgust the Minister clears his throat and lifts his chin, the smile stretching back across his face. “..You know what this place is, friends? A relic left behind by Mike Best, another toy that served its purpose once High Octane Wrestling returned to Chicago.”
Noticing something beneath the dead leaves and dirt that covered the floor the Minister slithered forward, sweeping away the debris with his foot to reveal the washed out red lettering of FIVE TIME ACADEMY. His shambling followers peered down at the words as a low, gurgling giggle escaped his throat.
“A year ago this was a state of the art sports performance center just a few miles away from the arena where High Octane Wrestling was hosted. Originally they said it was for a change of scenery but Max remembers seeing the paperwork and while he was an idiot,” the Minister spoke to his Congregation as he knelt down, his fingers tracing the edges of the red letters on the floor. “I’m smart. Mike and Lee were using this place as a tax dodge or some kind of slush fund. That’s why Mike never cared about this place and why he let Max do as he pleased with it. Now look at it… glorious forgotten, ripe for my harvest..”
A sharp, authoritative voice cries from the entrance of Five Time Academy. He rises as his Congregation turns to stare in the direction of a bright light that cuts through the dusty air.
“Hey, hands up!”
The dark figure moves the flashlight among the many masked faces, no small degree of panic filling the voice as they notice all of the faces hidden behind a white mask. The Congregation remains unmoving, staring forward as the figure takes a step forward to reveal themselves to be a member of the Tampa PD.
Pushing his way gently through the crowd, the Minister stepped into the light cast by the officer, a smile on his face as his hands were held up in a non-threatening manner.
“Officer, officer, please, we are a peaceful group, I’m one of the owners of this facility, I can show you the paperwork if you like.” he spoke in a softer voice then usual, obviously attempting to deescalate the situation. Unfortunately the Minister was a very unsettling looking man, what with his scarred visage, glowing red eye and unpleasant, silver toothed smile, and the hand of the officer slips over the holster of his firearm, the thumb unbuttoning the weapon.
“Stop! Stop. What’s your name? Why are you here?” the Officer sputtered nervously, one hand held up while the other stayed on the sidearm on his hip.
“My name is the M..Max. Maximilian Wilhelm Kael, I work for Five Time Academy. I’m here to survey the building to decide what to do with it.” he lied carefully through clenched metal teeth, his lips tightening as the dried skin cracks.
“Yeah? And who the fuck are they?”
A finger points to the host of masked individuals who stand to the Minister’s back. The twisted blue eye twitched for a moment as the Minister ran through a series of potential lies and memories locked in the back of Max’s brain. Finally settling on one the blue eye tracked back on the Officer, an apologetic look washing over his face.
“Oh they’re here to help clean up. They’re..my.. LARP group? We play..d..dungeon..er.. Wrestler. We play a LARP called Wrestler the Grappling, it’s..new.” His blue eye twitches again as he reminds himself to punish Max for having such a shitty brain. Linking his lips he does his best to bat his eyelashes toward the Officer in a disquieting attempt to look friendly.
“Oh for Christ’s Sake..” the Minister huffs, giving up all pretence of appearances, a cold, unpleasant sneer slipping over his face. “I don’t have time for anymore meaningless exposition or clutter, this isn’t a 24K segment. Look me up, look up Five Time Academy, I’ll sit right over here with the rest of my Cong.. LARP group while you call this in.”
Pulling a silver cigarette case from his pocket the Minister turned and signalled for his Congregation to be seated. The sound of the officer speaking into his radio echoed in the empty lobby of the gym as the Minister began the pace back and forth angrily. He turned and retrieved a golden zippo from his pocket, flicking it on.
“Sir, there is no smoking indoors.”
The officer’s voice cut into the side of the Minister’s head causing him to grind his teeth together creating a high pitched squeal. He turned his head slowly, his lips twisted into an aggressive, hateful smile.
“Thank you for your service.”
He flashed a thumbs up as he slipped his lighter and cigarette away. It was then that his phone let off a soft alert. That was fast, he thought, it must have been someone from the office calling him about an intrusion at Five Time Academy. He relished the idea of throwing all of this into the Officer’s face as he pulled the phone out of his pocket to see Lee’s name. Perfect, he’d get all this squared away.
“Ah, Mr. Best, perfect timing. I assume you’re hearing about the bullshit down here at Five Time Acad-..” He stopped as Lee’s voice could be heard on the other end. He was loud, as Lee often was, not angry but certainly not in a great mood. Minister’s expression changed from satisfied smugness to confusion. “Five Time Academy? No.. no the one in Chicago is Six Time Academy and I guess Mike already tore part of it down. No. Five. FIVE TIME ACADEMY. Yes. The old name. In Tampa. No, Tampa, Florida. No I can’t smell Kostoff’s wife.”
More prolonged speaking from Lee, most of it sounding dismissive before the name Eric Dane is heard.
“Of course I know who Eric Dane is, cum shot Cecilworth Farthington’s father to death then bailed on the Industry… uh huh. Yeah.”
The Minister turned to stare at the Officer again who seemed heavily involved in a conversation of his own. He flashed him another feral smile as Lee continued to speak into his ear. He was only half paying attention when Lee passed an idea he was having along to him. Whatever it was shook the Minister free of his glare.
“..whatever you think is best, Mr. Best.”
He didn’t wait for a reply as he hung the phone up. He stared down at his phone for a moment with a blank expression on his face before he turned and threw it full force against the nearby wall. Upon striking it exploded into a rain of metal, glass and plastic.
He bellowed, his voice filling the lobby and carrying out. The Congregation cover their ears while the Officer immediately spins around, their hand on their firearm again as they stare wide eyed at the Minister.
Spittle drips from the Minister’s bottom lip as his upper is pulled upward into a hideous snarl. His strange blue eye churns with a kind of bottomless hate while his unblinking mechanical eye burns #97red. His breathing is ragged as he gnashes his teeth together, his pale face flushing bright red.
There were probably better ways to handle learning he would be teaming with Eric Dane the following week.
The darkened room churned with a thick fog of cigarette smoke. A blade of light danced through the swirling miasma, images skittering through the smoke until they collided with a wall where they projected their images.
Mikey Unlikely and Jesse Kendrix appear to be the two subjects of the video images being examined. Their time in HOW had been filled with wins, they were even the current HOW Tag Team Champions having bested some of the top ranked tag teams at War Games including Andy Murray, a fellow member of 24K and a former champion.
They weren’t playing by freebird rule anymore though so it was exclusively Mikey and Kendrix were the only targets worth studying right now. The only two men that Minister had to set time aside from his otherwise 24/7 war against Mike Best.
He did not feel it was worth his time. The titles were not even on the line.
Locked away in this small room the Minister had been reviewing everything he could get his hands on. Having Lee close at hand meant he had access to all of the High Octane Wrestling tapes, even the stuff that never made it to the final edits of the broadcast. Multiple camera angles, close ups, the kind of data that was useful in preparing for an enemy. He was hoping to grasp his understanding of the Bruvs in reign talent because trying to understand them outside of the ring?..
Not disappointing like James Grannygrip aka Perfection which, at this point, was really becoming a bit of a running joke.
The soft crackle of the cigarette burning away as the Minister sucked it down hissed in his ears as he watched the War Games Tag Team Title Match for the sixth time today. He watches as Kendrix manages to hit the double knees to Joe Bergman’s face, stealing the pinfall before Andy Murray can escape the grip of the eGG Bandits.
As Hortega’s hand hits the mat for the third time the video pauses and returns to the beginning of the match as we start all over again. He pulls the burning cancer cylinder from his lips and licks them, the sugary taste of the filter a pleasant treat. He ashed the end of it into a nearby ash tray which had a large mound of white and black ash along with over a dozen spent butts.
He took one more long drag before he jammed the smouldering cigarette into the ashtray and slowly stood up, his head rising through the smokey haze, his eyes still looked on the projection on the wall.
“I’ve seen enough. Show me Dane’s good stuff.”
His command is stern and aggressive. As the video flickers to white for a moment the Minister’s face comes into sight. It’s pale with dark circles beneath his eyes, his skin is dry and sullen. He looks as though he hasn’t slept in days and while his physical appearance looked worn down his strange blue eye seemed bright and aware.
Video started to stream of Eric Dane though from the quality and appearance it seemed as though it was from either the late 90ies or early 00s. The Minister lifted his chin, shaking his head.
“No, I should have been more specific. Show me his good stuff now.”
The screen flickered white for a moment then came back to life with Dane’s War Games match from last year. Again, the Minister shook his head as his blue eye narrowed.
“No, I have memories of this match, I don’t need to know about this. I need to know about what he can do now.” He hissed as he reached into his pocket to retrieve another butt, lighting it as he waited. The white screen washed out the room though, despite its brightness, it didn’t seem to cause the Minister to shield his eyes. After a few moments of nothing the Minister seemed to grow disgruntled. He turned his annoyed face toward the back wall where the projections box, a masked figure shrugging at the Minister helplessly.
Taking a long drag the Minister’s red eye seemed to pulse for a few moments before he exhaled, a flick of red ember flashing from the end of his cigarette. He seems thoughtful for a moment before he turns toward the white screen once again.
What had Lee gotten him into?
The following letter was handwritten and submitted to High Octane Wrestling’s front office. Instructions were it was to be posted publicly but not as a news article citing he didn’t want to interrupt Mike Best’s cocaine fueled merchandising ego trip.
It was later posted on TikTok. It is unknown if it was seen by any fans of HOW.
I’ve worked too hard for too long to let you two get in the way.
The Hollywood Bruvs.
Just saying their name makes my mouth taste like cheap beer and strippers. Thanks, Mike.
I know how it feels to be a tag champion in High Octane Wrestling, it’s a great feeling. I also know how it feels to have them unfairly stripped from you. Cecilworth Farthington and Max.. well..Me, won the Tag Team Championships. Then Mike decided to form the Group of Death and Lee, in his wisdom, thought that meant the eMpire stopped existing. Somehow Lindsay Troy and Dan Ryan got to defend those tag championships on the dear Murder boi and I’s behalf.
Obviously they lost them.
Our God works in mysterious ways and I’ve never questioned the decision. My faith and patience have paid off. At No Remorse I get my World Title Shot against Mike Best. I have free reign in High Octane Wrestling, it’s facilities and resources. We have fucking war ship, brah.
That’s what patience and faith get you.
Sometimes my patience gets fucking tested. Eric Dane returns to High Octane Wrestling under some mysterious contract with Lee Best. Now Lee is obviously still injured so it’s my job to babysit Eric Dane.
I don’t have time for this shit.
I don’t have time for Eric Dane to shoot off his mouth to Lee Best, I don’t have time for Lee Best to get his raisin balls all tight and angry and call me to interrupt my fucking day to deal with it.
On Saturday, however, during the glory of that Refueled X. X. X. To the number of motherfucking eye’s I’ve lost in the service of the God of HOW, I will have the TIME to make sure I don’t have to waste anymore of it with this tedious side work.
I’m sorry, Mikey and Kendrix, you both seem like.. I don’t know, “interesting” people. Like, the kind of fun and hip youngish guys who might get matching tattoos that results in hilarity! I mean, that’s just me spit balling, I saw it on Dude, Where’s My Car once. You’re clearly idiots but being stupid, while tragic, doesn’t immediately mean you’re not a likable person.
It’s being trapped in an unending cycle of stunted growth where you can not seem to rise above the personality of nineteen year old man-children despite being well into your 30ies. Maybe it’s that weird obsession with Frappes that’s keeping your body from moving past your teenage years, maybe you’re been successful long enough that you’ve never needed any form of personal development, our society is a cesspool of celebrity worship.
Now I know, I know, who am I to cast stones given that I am a fervent supporter of the greatest man-child I have ever known, the God of HOW, Lee Best. We have a fucking war ship, brah.
The answer is.. Because Lee Best pays me to. Because he’s powerful and it’ll always be better at the side of the devil then in his way, baby! And unfortunately that big bald manbaby sees something of himself in Eric Dane cause he wants me to make sure he scores a big win on Saturday.
So even though I don’t have the fucking time for this shit I’m gonna do it with a smile on my face and no small quiver of hate in my heart. This isn’t fair to you as I said you seem like nice enough guys, if a set of saddle-goose yaldsons. After what I did to Perfection, bringing him into my Congregation, I figured I’d leave 24K alone for awhile but..
Well, Lee is a cruel God. Not terribly likable. A Man-child. Sound familiar?
One who has the time to pick you two victims for Eric Dane’s big return, starring the Minister, cause Lee wants to make sure it gets done right.
I don’t have time for this shit but I guess I’ll have to make some on Saturday. Looks like two more members of 24K get to join the Congregation, I’ll be happy to have you, Perfection is getting lonely and most of my followers are vapid, shallow, empty vessels so you’ll fit right in.
So let’s have a good show, boys, er, Bruvs.
In case either of those dull brained broski troglodytes are illiterate can someone ask Andy Murray to review this letter for them?
Have a Blessed Day!