A monolith looming over me
Over the past year Evan had gradually distanced himself from society, becoming a hermit in his own home just waiting for the end to come. The aneurysm hung over him like the Sword of Damocles and paralyzed him from living the rest of his life. His home, as much as it could be called that, was a tiny bedsit in Hereford, all run down and crumbling. There were homeless people on the streets who lived in more luxury. A mouldy mattress was propped up against one wall, ready to be thrown on the floor when it was time to sleep, a fancy but really old and battered recliner sat on the opposite side of the room facing a TV with a Playstation 5 setup on the floor. Various drinks bottles, from both soft drinks and alcoholic drinks, littered the floor. It was a real shit hole, even worse than the one he would move into above the gym in the relatively near future.
There was enough room for some basic exercises, a wooden support had been wrapped in cloth and duct tape to create a rudimentary training dummy and there were a few weights around. Evan allowed himself to stay in shape but only out of habit. He thought he might go insane if he didn’t occupy himself in some way. He never left the apartment, he just ordered takeaways and had his shopping delivered. The digital age was built for the reclusive.
Today was like any other day. He had nothing to do. He had exercised. He had watched some bullshit on TV. He had played some God of War on the Playstation. Have you ever watched Disney’s Tangled? As a father, Evan had been forced to suffer through it by his son. That scene at the start, when Repunzle sings “When Will My Life Begin?” where she dances around day after day doing the same shit over and over and wondering when things would change was exactly what Evan felt like. The only difference was he wasn’t asking when his life would begin, he was wondering when it would end.
He guessed it sort of made life interesting. It was a bit like when you’re watching a horror film and you know a jump scare is coming up and the tension builds and builds and builds but it doesn’t happen,then just when you relax that’s when the monster lunges at the screen. It kept him on his toes for sure, even though nothing ever came of it. At least not yet.
His phone was buzzing again. There were oh so many unread notifications which he had no intention of reading. Messages from Sara, some from Rhys and Trent. Missed calls from Tony at the gym. People kept trying to talk to him but he didn’t want to talk to anyone,he just wanted to be left alone to wallow in his imminent demise. What point was any of it? Fuck it all. His death had no reason and it had no purpose. What would happen if he talked to his friends and family about it? What if he spent time with them? All they would do is console him and pity him and sympathise with him and fuck all of that, Evan wanted no part of it.
And yet people still kept trying to talk to him. They kept messaging him and asking where he was and what he was doing and how they were concerned for him. People like… Ward looked at the buzzing phone as it vibrated on the floor, waiting to be answered, it was an American number? Chicago, huh? It was Lee Best. The phone had stopped ringing as it was unanswered but just moments later it started again. Huh, strange. Lee had contacted Ward a few times over the last year. Before he had stopped answering his phone, Evan had heard out Lee’s occasional bid to get him back in the ring but he had always just told the God of HOW to sod off and leave him alone, that he would never return to HOW, and that was usually that for a few months.
The phone started ringing a third time. Lee hadn’t ever been this tenacious before. Evan scowled, wondering what could possibly be so important. He reached for the phone to answer it out of curiosity but stopped himself. No, it would just be another attempt to get him back in the ring. Evan couldn’t ever wrestle again so there was no point in answering. If he wrestled he would die, the doctors had all been very insistent on that fact. There was no safe way for him to get into that ring, especially not a HOW ring… But the more he thought about it, the more that dying in the ring sounded like the perfect way to end the story of Evan Ward. It would go down as one of the most legendary moments in the entire history of professional wrestling.
The phone wasn’t ringing any more but it did receive a text. “War Games.” was all it said. Dying in the ring would be legendary, but dying in War Games would be the next level. Another text came through. “Team Captain.” Dying as a captain, winning and reliving his former success at the same time? That thought lodged itself in his mind and found a nice little hole to squirrel itself away in to whisper to Evan. Another message came in: “Do it.”
Ward picked up the phone, unlocked it and impulsively replied: “Son of a bitch, I’m in.” He didn’t know how long he sat staring at the phone for. It could have been moments, it could have been hours. His mind sparked to life, so many excited thoughts flitting back and forth where there had been just a few sad ones milling about moments earlier. He was returning to the ring, back to HOW. So much to plan, so much to figure out. He had to get into shape. Properly into shape. He needed to train. Hone his craft once more. He had his drive again and it annihilated the tedium and boredom in an instant. He had spent the last year parked up and stalled out, unable to tick the engine over enough to get it running again. Somehow Lee’s messages had jump started it and Evan’s brain was firing on all cylinders again. It just needed that one idea. That one goal to get him into action. His death was now something to live for.
A new message arrived. “Good. See you in Manchester.”
So I run towards it with fists clenched tight
Evan swanned into the hotel as if he owned the place, standing in the middle of reception with legs wide and hands on hips as if to say “Yes, I am here, no need to push, I can give you all autographs and then wipe my ass with them.” Sadly for Evan, not a single person took any notice of him, apart from maybe the lady behind the reception desk who looked at him as if to say “Golly, who’s this wanker?”
The hotel in question was the Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City. It was super fancy. Evan was pleased with his choice, he figured it was fancy enough to keep Charlie de Lacy happy with all the creature comforts which he had been sorely missing while Aceldama would be plenty happy with the buffet lunch because it had his national dish: Frankfurters. He knew Christopher America would be happy too as it was an American company which meant it obviously adhered to American sensibilities, though the Canadian flag being flown outside did confuse Ward a little. He figured it was probably vandalism and wasn’t important.
The hotel also happened to be pretty much right down the road from the arena too, only about a ten minute drive which suited Evan down to the ground. It meant there was no pressure getting ready for the show and hauling ass over there. With the grand event just around the corner, no more than a week away, Evan had no interest in rushing about. Right now he was all about taking it easy and slowing the pace down before the shit hits the fan.
Evan imagined most people, knowing their expiration date was so close but still being active and mobile, would be cramming as many activities and events into every waking hour as possible to hastily check off their bucket list. But not Evan. He had gotten his affairs in order, he had arranged the insurance payout to go directly to his wife. He had cancelled all his subscriptions and contracts, handed in his notice on his flat in Hereford and sold any belongings he didn’t need for the next week. All that left just a single entry on his bucket list: Win Ward Games.
His mindset at the moment was something unique. He had the absolute confidence of man utterly devoid of responsibility or repercussion. He could quite literally get away with doing absolutely anything because it was impossible for him to face any consequences… well, as long as it didn’t interfere in his ability to take part in the match. It was a state so utterly deficient of anxiety it bordered on spiritual enlightenment. He was at peace with the world, his life and his death. That didn’t stop him being an absolute cock of a twat though.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Roll up, roll up and pay attention!” Evan announced loudly as he hopped up on the very slick black marble reception desk. Slick in the sense of looking super fancy and expensive, but also so smooth Evan very nearly slipped arse over tit as he wasn’t expecting there to be so little grip under his feet,but managed to style it out. “May I present to you the one, the only, the death defying, high flying, soon to be dying, only true Captain and most important wrestler in the entirety of Ward Games and, dare I say the whole of High Octane Wrestling history, me, EEEEEEEVVVVVVAAAANNNN WWWWAAAAAARRRRDDDD~~~!!!”
Evan struck an arrogant pose atop reception and the receptionist glared even harder. “Get off the desk, puta inglesa!”
She was the only person paying attention to Evan, and that certainly wasn’t because he had captivated her with his introduction. If he hadn’t been standing atop the paperwork she was organising then she would have done her best just to ignore him. The lack of attention didn’t bother Evan. Indeed, he seemed totally oblivious to the fact as he carried on his pathetically egotistical little show anyway.
“You are all about to witness a moment in history, a once in a lifetime opportunity to see me, the most awesome wrestler to ever grace the ring with his presence, cut the final promo for the final match of his entire life!” Evan announced grandly.
“Everyone here, in this hotel, in this city, you’ve all come together to witness Ward Games, to see my team of three lackeys and their glorious captain bring honour and prestige to the Final Alliance as we bring home all three titles! We are Lee Best’s top team, the absolute peak of perfection, a team of the most brutal psychopath in the federation’s history; the current World Champion; and the next World Champion. The three of us represent the brawn, the skill and talent of the Final Alliance and none of the rest matter in the slightest! I know it, Lee knows it, everyone knows it! There’s also an English toff, but he’s not Alliance so whatever.”
A little boy pulled on his mother’s arm as they walked past, pointing up at Evan. Clearly he was excited to see a wrestler but his mother wasn’t having any of it and dragged him away from the crazy ranting man.
“Mike Best knows it too.” Ward said while he strutted along the desk. “He knows my team is the Best team. After beating the ever loving snot outta his team he knows they can’t compete with us. The two Scotts and the wannabe handball magnate are such empty shells of their former selves they make me look like a freaking complete and well rounded human being, while Fuse is too busy stomping poor innocent turtles and wishing he was Chris Pratt to bother to turn up most weeks.”
“Really, Mike, I’m sorry.” Evan breathed a deep and apologetic sigh. “I’m so sorry your dad rigged the draft so badly it lumbered you with the rejects and cast offs no one wanted. Even your potential wildcard is a joke. Lee wouldn’t get you a real Kostoff to play with because you already have one at home. Meanwhile, my team, Mike… My team has the best wildcard of the lot since Marvolo dropped out. Right Mike? Right?” Evan grinned and winked knowingly at where the camera would have been if this was being recorded. “You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? El Hombre Blanco, everyone knows he is the most legendary World Champion in the federation’s history, don’t we, Mike!”
Evan’s grin widened and he began to nod. “Yes, that’s right, that’s right, we all know, Mike, so there’s no point in anyone hiding it anymore… We all know under that mask it’s Adonis Smyth.”
Evan spun around as he reached the end of the desk and walked the other way. “But enough about bonafide champions with storied histories with the World Title and let’s talk about something totally different and unrelated. Let’s talk about Dan Ryan…
“Dan the man with the plan, or so he’d like to believe but really he’s just Dan the man with a van. Yes, yes, I know, ” Evan raised calming hands to a non-existent angry mob. “He doesn’t really have a van, it’s just a metaphor. He’s a great part of the Final Alliance, a group always needs a guy like him. A guy who has one single asset which is useful in a particular situation. You need to move a couch? Call your man with the van. Need to take some tag titles off a bunch of hillbillies in Missouri? Call Dan. It’s all Lee keeps him around for.
“And I know, Dan, you don’t have to go on about it.” Evan rolled his eyes and acted like Dan was right there taking exception to his monologue. “You’ve figured me out, you’ve got me clocked. Bravo, well done, have a gold star. Well, actually half a bronze star, let’s be fair. You showed your working and made a good punt at the answer but landed way off the mark. Bloody impressive to get so close and then, thwip, totally overshot it.” Evan clapped his hands together to emphasise the miss.
“Look, I’ve pissed you off, I can see that, and for that I’d just like to say that, honestly, that’s on me.” Evan put his hand on his heart and looked sorrowful. “It’s totally, one hundred percent on me because that’s the bloody point you thin skinned, braindead muppet. I’ve pissed you off, I’ve pissed Clyd off, I’ve pissed Stevens and Hollywood and Fuse off. I’ve been going around pissing off the whole federation for weeks and it didn’t even occur to you maybe, just maybe, that was the whole point? I mean, dude, seriously, I know thinking isn’t your strong point but come on, even you aren’t that dense.
“Have I been throwing out the most infantile, half-arsed, bottom of the barrel, low effort insults at everyone at any given opportunity? Hmm…” Ward paused to think for a moment while tapping a finger on his cheek and then nodded. “Yes. Yes I have. Does it matter? Judging by your reaction, not in the slightest! What’s the point in workshopping some highly targeted clever insult in an attempt to bamboozle you when I can just shoot any old bullshit out all scattershot and piss everyone off without any effort?”
Evan grinned goadingly, almost like he was willing his stablemate to turn up and punch him in the face. “I’m sorry for snatching this hollow victory away from you, Dan, I could tell it meant a lot to you, just like the epiphany that America knows what a wind up I’ve been. Great detective work there. He knows. I know he knows. He knows I know he knows. We all know, Dan, good to see you’ve caught up with the rest of the class. See, America is a professional, he’s a company man. He loves his belt but he will do what’s best for the Alliance, he’s said so himself, and what’s best for the Alliance is for him to work for me.
“You might think America is a complete idiot who needs a henchman like you to tell him these things but I actually respect the dude, I really do. I especially respect that title around his waist, it’s so pretty and beautiful…” Evan gazed off into the distance for a moment. “But enough about a consummate professional who puts his team ahead of himself, let’s talk about the complete opposite. Let’s talk about Dan Ryan.”
Evan hopped down off the reception desk and strutted around in front of it. “If you’ll take a moment to get down from your moral high ground of…” Evan mimed checking some notes. “Mocking my fatal disability and the mental health conditions it created… yikes. If you can get off that high horse for a second, just take a second to think. You’re talking to a dude who is expecting to die in this match and has spent weeks deliberately pissing everyone off to stir them into a rage for this match. Is it really the threat you thought it was when you said you’d beat me to death?” Evan raised a curious eyebrow. “Threaten a dude with a good time, why don’t you. You understand that Ward Games is my final match, right? I’m not taking a break, this is the end. Il Finito, as I assume they say around here, I’ve not bothered to Google translate it. This isn’t my retirement match, it’s my funeral and you’re all invited. You can make all the threats you want, even follow through with them, but the only way to piss in my cereal is to devote yourself to making sure I get out alive. That would really fucking upset me.”
The suicidal wrestler feigned being angry but just couldn’t do it. He was feeling far too jolly about the whole business and burst out laughing. “But enough about a dying man whose days are numbered, let’s talk about something else which totally demands the full attention it deserves. Let’s talk about Scott Stevens.” Ward stares, looking serious and angry.
“Now let’s talk about Fuse.” Ward continued almost without sparing time for a breath. “Fuse, dude, my mirror image from another visage. You can go far in this federation. As a young little upstart who is yet to spit out his milk teeth… seriously, you shouldn’t be putting those things in your mouth, why didn’t you throw them away when they fell out? You know, back in the days you were playing Zelda on that ancient console, whichever it was called. You know the one, dude, it had those funky weird controllers no one thought would be good to use… no, it wasn’t the Wii, it wasn’t the GameCube, the one with the funky analogue stick.” Ward snapped his fingers. “That’s it, the Switch. You should have left them at Old Trafford where I knocked them out, they don’t fit you anymore now you’re a big boy.”
Ward hopped up to sit on the reception desk again. “But enough about that petulant little snot nosed kid in soiled nappies, let’s talk about someone who changes them! Let’s talk about Steve Solex!” Ward put his hand on his heart. “Steve, as one father to another, I gotta say, I’ve always respected your devotion to your children, to raising them the right way and wiping the shit off their sphincters. I don’t envy you, dude, STRONK is one big asshole to be wiping. Big baby strength is really something to deal with when they’ve had a shitsplosion in their undies. The Alliance appreciates your work, ya big fat merc!” Ward throws a salute. “But enough about gun toting lunatics and their chonking massive man baby, let’s talk about something less scary. Let’s talk about Clyd.
“You keep rabbiting on about being a big scary monster, you- Wait a minute…” Ward stopped and thought. “That wasn’t Clyd, that was Dan bloody Ryan again! I mean, it was also Clyd but this time… THIS TIME! It was Dan. It’s so hard to keep track of all the monsters all the time. Look, Sully, calling yourself a monster doesn’t make you scary. Everyone calls themselves a monster these days. You’re a monster, Clyd’s a monster, Aceldama is a monster, Stevens thinks he’s a monster, STRONK’s a monster, I’ve even heard Marvolo call himself a monster. We all get it, you’re all big buff rage machines going smash, smash, rah, rah, rah. Anyone can just take a look at you and go, aha, he’s a monster type of guy… But when you keep calling yourself a monster it sort of diminishes it. It makes you less scary, like you’re trying too hard to prove the point. Really, the scariest monsters are the ones who don’t bring attention to it, they don’t look like monsters, they don’t overtly act like monsters and they definitely don’t call themselves a monster.”
Evan smiled softly. “I’m not a monster, I’m just the walking dead. At this point it doesn’t even matter if I win or lose Ward Games. What I’ve done in this short run back and what it will culminate in is going to be remembered. This year’s Ward Games are all above me. Even if I don’t win I will overshadow whoever does. If I fail to capture that World Championship as my final act before I shake off this mortal coil, at least I will die knowing I have given HOW, the Alliance and Lee Best the most awesome, totally unbeatable, absolute pinnacle of Ward Games matches ever to happen. When I walk down to that cage, the number 16 entrant, all eyes will be on me. Everyone in that ring will only have my name on their minds. Love me or hate me, everyone will be tuning in to see the absolute motherfucking Chaos and Turmoil which will break out when I charge down that ramp. Everything before that point is just pre-show, it’s just the warm up, setting the stage for the ultimate climax. But if I win…”
Evan swung his feet around to once more stand on the reception desk and mimed raising the World Championship in the air. “If I win, killing myself to hold that most precious belt one final time, I will elevate it far beyond what anyone else has done. It will be the shortest title reign in the history of ever for sure, but the prestige driven from the context of that reign, it’s never happened before and will never happen again. It will be nothing short of awesome.”
Evan stood dramatically for a moment before leaping down in an equally dramatic flip because he’s a prat. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, my most brilliant and loyal team of lackeys surely have just arrived.” He looked at the entrance. “I’m sure they’ll be here any moment.” The door swung open but it was just a porter wheeling through luggage. “Any minute…” They definitely were not there. “I can wait. I’m sure they’ll be here. Definitely.” He waited for a very long time and would have to keep waiting because they were not going to show.
Evan sat and waited. The match was underway and progressing nicely, soon it would be his turn to get in that ring and put his stamp on history. There was no turning back now, his path had been set in stone and rail tracks moved him in the direction. When he went out there, everyone would hate him. There would be a literal target on his back, his front, and his sides, but that was the goal. It was what Evan Ward had decided was the best thing to do. Better to die a villain in a blaze of glory than fade away to nothingness as a nice guy. This was it, this was his time. He got up and ran towards the ring as Brian McVay called out…
“WINNER OF THE MATCH VIA REFEREE STOPPAGE…..AND STIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLL WORLD CHAMPION…..CHRISTOPHER AMMMMMMERRRRRRIIIIICCCCCAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!”
At that moment history was made in Manchester.
When I was young
I had such grand dreams
Surrounded by the ones I loved
The future was so bright
I thought it would never end
But the end was always ahead
A monolith looming over me
Now I’ve grown older
Those dreams are snatched away
Standing alone in my own company
I look ahead and only see the dark
So I calmly accept my fate
I remain unflinching as the end approaches
So I run towards it with fists clenched tight