“The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.” – Markus Zusak
He stared at his reflection in the dirty mirror, his eyes studying the crack in the skin just above his right brow where a sliver of silvery metal was visible. His face was frozen into a disgusted frown as he glared at the injury he had received from Darin Matthews on refueled. He had nearly gotten his hands on Meredith when the former Zionist managed to catch him ill prepared with a pair of chair shots.
That would not happen again.
He chided himself for letting Darin get the better of him but ultimately the end result was the was he desired. Mike retained the HOW World Championship and thus would be continuing to No Remorse to defend the #97Red strap at the Five Time Academy in Tampa..
..the Minister’s Five Time Academy.
“I’ve wasted too much time on this.” the Minister snarled under his breath as he turned away from his reflection and stalked out of the dirty, broken down bathroom into the main lobby of the Tampa Five Time Academy. In his absence his followers had been busy preparing the gym for the coming battle.
Gym equipment had been moved to create a maze-like obstacle course across the main gym floor, the ring itself had been left very much alone, the ropes still drooped and several of the turnbuckles lacked padding. High above the effigies of 24K members who had “joined” the Congregation still hung by their necks. Pallets of bricks lined the walls near the entrance and small groups of dirty loyalists were keeping busy by unloading them into large stacks for some unknown purpose..
The Minister surveyed his followers’ work as the scowl slowly melted away into a cruel smile, his burning red eye scanning the room maliciously.
“Finally after months of planning and preparing the moment is nearly upon us.” he hissed gleefully as he rang his hands together, his golden rings clattering as they came into contact with each other. For months he had waited patiently, played the eMpire and the Group of Death to his ends, manipulated and intimidated his way to the top of the food chain and now he was poised to push over his final domino, Michael Lee Best.
In this place the end would begin.
His mind wandered into the endless depths of violence, cruelty and malice that both men would fall to in order to escape each other’s wrath, the sweet blood and viscera running through his mind like a deluge of the grotesque.
He was shaken from his violent daydream by the sound of an alert on his phone. Retrieving it from his pocket the Minister strode through the rearranged gym floor while reading the message he had just received.
“Hmm.. Mike finally put something out about No Remorse.” he muttered to himself as he dismissed the alert and slipped his phone back away. “Good, after his performance with Zion I fully expect him to be well motivated. Heh-heh..“
He made a note to watch it as soon as possible before his mind wandered to what Mike could have said, the acid he likely lashed out with, the vitriol he probably brought to the table, the Minister was expecting Mike’s Best, pun fully intended.
Picking his way through the maze of equipment the Minister moved toward the door to the basement. Before he could open it, however, the door flew open as several disheveled looking followers of the Minister wearing dirt and mud stained grey jumpers with mining helmets.
“Minister! MINISTER! You gotta see this!” One of the three men says in an excited voice before scrambling back down the stairs.
Raising his eyebrow the Minister eyed the two other men before he quickly descended the stairs into the bowels of Five Time Academy. The scent of feces and mold was quick to smack the Minister in the face though the twisted entity didn’t seem to mind or notice. The floor was strewn with broken tables and chairs, old North Korean computer equipment and metal shelving that had started to rust over.
Further in, however, chunks of concrete, dirt and mud began to pile up on the floor where the Minister’s Congregation had been digging around.
“So we were doing what you asked, expanding out the basement, when we discovered the north wall was a fake.” the man said as he pointed to the far side of the basement where the wall had been torn away.
Cocking his head to the side the Minister eyed the previously unknown section of the basement. There appeared to be an unfinished section of the basement, the ground still not but dirt while the concrete walls were unpainted. The hall led back before turning right into darkness.
“What’s down there?” the Minister queried as his red eye narrowed as his curiosity was piqued.
“We ain’t looked, Minister.” the follower replied hesitantly “We cleared the wall and immediately ran up to get you.”
Gold covered fingers stroked his chin as the Minister continued to stare down the hall thoughtfully. What had Mike hidden down here behind a false wall?
This had been.. Unexpected.
“Bring me the Apostle.”
He had no idea how long he had been in this prison now for. Six weeks? Three Months? Ten years?
He preferred the big open fields to this small cell, at least with the fields he could wander around and see things. In this prison cell Max Kael had nothing more than cot, a toilet and a view down a long hall which ended in darkness.
When was the last time that the Minister had come to visit him?
Life had become a sort of dull routine. Wake up in what Max assumed was the morning to eat his breakfast which was always laid out for him. Stretches. Two hundred pushups. Two hundred sit ups. Three thousand steps. Take a nap and wake up to lunch. Practice his beatboxing for which he had no instructor nor any tutorials for meaning it was mostly just Max Kael making fart noises into his hands for about an hour. Two hours of improvisational hand puppet shows before another nap. Dinner was followed by quiet, long glances down the hallway.
Max had deeply underestimated how much he missed people.
The whole concept of them, what with their heads and eyeballs with that weird butthole full of teeth that noises came out of. He missed talking to people. He missed beating people up. He missed his eMpire family Cecilworth Fartington and Mike Best. He’d even be happy to talk to Darin Matthews at this point..
..but the days dragged on and he never saw anyone.
It had occurred to him to try and see whoever was dropping his meals off however he realized that only when he was asleep did they seem to arrive and no matter how short the nap might be the mysterious food would simply show up before he could spy who it might be.
Of course.. It also occurred to Max that this was all in his own head, that there was no prison, Max Kael was not literally locked up and that this was all the doing of the Minister. He probably didn’t even need to eat then the hunger pangs felt very, very real.
So it came as a rather welcome surprise when he heard the gurgling chortle and saw that glowing red eye cutting through the darkness beyond his prison bars.
“Hey-HEY!” Max said as he jumped up from his cot excitedly, his strange blue eye wide with excitement. “Welcome back stranger! It’s been awhile!”
A grin tracked far across Max’s face as he rushed to the door of his cell, his fingers curling around the bars as he pressed his face between them. The red eye grew into a scowling face set atop a white three piece suit and #97red tie while golden rings bedazzled his hands. He did not look amused.
“Why the long face, I’m the jackass behind bars buddy!” Max cheerfully squawked simply happy to see another person, even if it was just himself.
“Something’s wrong with Mike.” his dark counterpart hissed.
“What’s wrong with Michael?”
“He’s being a bitch, a weak, pathetic little bitch. He couldn’t even be bothered to address me, he wasted ten fucking minutes of my time talking to YOU!” the Minister roared as he lunged forward, kicking the bars of Max’s cell door causing them to spack Max in the face.
Letting out a yelp Max jumped back holding his face in pain. Pulling a key from his pocket the Minister unlocked and opened the door to Max’s cell slithering in with malice on his face. Before Max could respond the Minister’s hand was around his throat, lifting him with surprising ease into the air.
The Minister bellowed once again before hurling Max into one of the nearby concrete walls cracking it. Max’s body crumbled like a ragdoll to the ground, the air driven out of his body with a gasping noise.
“He thinks I’m just a part of you Max. He thinks that this fight is going to be between two brothers!” the white suited monster reached down and grabbed Max by the hair, dragging him toward the toilet. “And now I found a secret area beneath the Tampa Five Time Academy, Max! Something left there by Mike..”
Though the Minister is speaking Max’s head is filled with fog. He just sees flashes of pain and light as the other man’s voice beats down on him. None of it makes sense as he blinks, trying to figure out what the fuck is happening.
Still, some fucked up part of him considers this is more “human” interaction then he’s had in recent memory.
“WHAT’S HE HIDING DOWN THERE?!”
The Minister’s howling question cuts through the confusion in Max’s head but without context Max has no idea how to answer.
“…uh.. I do-”
Before he can finish the Minister drives his face into the toilet, his face submerged in the murky water. Max fails and grabs at the Minister’s hands but he lacks the strength to free himself from the seemingly superhuman grip. Finally the water washes away and Max finds himself staring into the face of the Minister, a cruel, hateful expression burnt like a permanent scar upon his face.
“What’s Mike hiding in the basement of Five Time Academy!”
The demand is made once again as Max chokes up water and phlegm gasping for air.
“I swear I will fucking kill you!”
“I don’t know! I don’t.. I don’t know..” Max managed to sputter out before another fit of coughs took hold of him. The hateful burning red eye of the Minister glared down at Max as he searched his memories. Max was telling the truth or had managed to somehow hide the memory of it from him, he couldn’t be absolutely sure. “..and even if I did.. I wouldn’t tell you.”
Max then spit in the face of the Minister before a broad, metal tooth smile stretched across his face .
“Cause if anyone can stop you.. It’s Michael. Heh. Heh.” Max said before mocking the Minister’s laugh. The sneer on the Minister’s face straightened out as he grasped Max’s head between his hands. Max could feel the fingers crawling over his scalp as he was drawn close to the Minister’s face.
“..No.. if there is anyone who could have stopped you.. It’s Mike.”
Max felt his body being lifted into the air before the world rushed around him. The sound of his head cracking as it was smashed into the wall was the last thing he remembered hearing before everything went dark.
Possession is nine tenths of the law.
Sure, let’s play this game.
Mike, what the fuck is wrong with you? What’s happening? Are you sick? Running a fever? Got a cough?
What kind of horse shit was that Mike? What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Trying to throw a sympathy/respect curve ball at me like I’m Darin fucking Zion? Last week you thought that old Darin Zion really put in the work, right? He exposed you and that was what made him so great and mighty, that was why this time, maybe.. MAYBE.. He was going to beat you, right? Then, predictably, he didn’t AND YES some people could argue the only reason you won was because of me.. But we both know you were winning that match regardless of whether I was there or not. I might look stupid but it’s only cause the previous user kept listening to you.
Why? You know why, cause you made him feel better then he was then you cut him off at the fucking knees. A great move, really but back to back?
Fuck me, Mike, I’m not even worth originality? I get Darin Zioned?! You couldn’t even bother to take the wrapping off this before you tossed it into the microwave cause this shit is, as the kids say, burnt.
Jesus Christ, I get it. We get it. We all know now, you care more about “Insert Title” here than anything else. And if you don’t have a title it’s your next record. And if it isn’t a record it’s to prove you can still do it. And if you hit the bottom and you’re all out of ideas you just kick a bitch in the balls and wander off to some farm league to have fun wearing dragon shirts playing Big Fish, Little Pond.
What’s almost worse is you’re trying to appeal to my better nature, Mike, and no matter what you think you know about me and him, he isn’t part of this conversation.
Max is gone, Mike, and he is going to remain gone for all the reasons you already know. He was weak, he was stupid and he couldn’t bring himself to actually fight you. So stop insulting me by insinuating that we are the same person, we’re fucking not. I am in control, I am in.. possession.. Of your brother. I have no intentions of giving him up.
You’re spinning the same old yarn about how you’re clinging to that title because you feel like it’s all you have going for you in this life. You think that after you lost your apartment, all your things and a couple of kilos of cocaine, that the High Octane World Championship is all you have left? You’ve still got plenty of things to lose.. Like Cecilworth Farthington for example..
But hopefully it doesn’t come to that.
You’ve held that Championship nine fucking times now, Mike, and every time you spend a few weeks touting it’s importance before you lose it and move onto the next thing just like everything else in your life. The HOW World Championship doesn’t mean the world to you, Mike, it means a few moments of entertainment before you get bored. It means adding another tally to the number of World Titles you have held to hold over the rest of the trash in this shitty death fed.
So don’t you come at me with these tired talking points and needless praise, I don’t want it, nobody wants it. Don’t wax dramatic about how Max means so much to you after spending months doing nothing to help him. Don’t go on about how hard this is going to be and how much you are going to sacrifice to win because it’s all back alley donkey shit. This match means nothing to you and it shows.
You could have prepared yourself for this over the last few weeks but instead you dyed your hair. You could have promoted it but instead you hoped it would just go away. You could have addressed the situation more directly but instead you sold a shitty biography that has an entire page that just says “Give Me Money” over and over again.
Still, like any good Minister I pulled the weight. I selected the location. I selected the stipulation. I promoted the match. I make this thing between us mean something.
That’s what I fucking do. I breathe meaning into the meaningless, Mike and even I almost ran out of breath trying to keep this thing alive you selfish fuck.
Get your head back in the fucking game, asshole. Get your God damned mind back on track you lazy, whimpering little shit stain of a coke addict. I’m not interested in fighting the Mike Best who almost lost to Darin Zion.
I don’t need that Mike Best. I don’t want that Mike Best. NOBODY wants that Mike Best.
What I need is a trigger man. I need a man on the edge of civility driven by anger and desperation. I need a Mike Best who has nothing left to lose, a fucking lunatic who will stab me in the back and rip out my heart! I need a Mike Best who is so terrified of losing he will literally kill his opponent to stay on top.
Fuck off with whatever the fuck you’re trying to be right now.
You know I realize at the end of all of this that you’re just following your tired old narrative, Mike. You get something, you flaunt it, you lose it or discard it. A possessive man keeps things, Mike, locks them down, never lets them go. You can’t even keep your own apartment. You couldn’t keep Durango. You couldn’t keep the Group of Death together. You couldn’t keep your ICON Title. You couldn’t keep yourself clean. Your brother is MINE, has been since before you sported camouflage pants, Sergeant P*****, and I plan on keeping it that way.
And after No Remorse I’ll keep that HOW World Championship too because when you really think about it..
I am the possessive motherfucker.
Have a Blessed Day.