Five days had passed since I saw the manifestation of the Monster from my dreams in the mirror while I was wide awake. That led to five more sleepless nights tossing and turning in bed running through the Infirmary match in my head. I had thought the nightmares were enough to make my skin crawl but now that I was having them during the day? My life had truly become a living Hell. Funny enough the Monster only appeared to me on reflective surfaces.
I avoided most of the mirrors in the house.
However, on this particular morning I found myself in the bathroom in front of the sink. The hot water was running from the faucet. The lower half of my face was covered in shaving cream as I held a straight razor in my right hand. Above the sink was a full mirror with light bulbs lining either side of the glass. It was like the Monster was displayed on his own big screen television and he was in a particularly sour mood. I raised the blade up to the right side of my face and began to shave away all the unwanted hair as the Monster hissed at me.
“This is how you choose to spend your last moments as a living human being?”
I tried to pretend I didn’t see or hear the Monster as I continued shaving. Yet, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that very thought was the one thing I wanted to avoid as much as I did the lifeless form in the mirror. I didn’t want to think about the possibility of not making it out of the Infirmary match at Rumble at the Rock. I wanted to treat every single day like it was a normal ordinary day, not the last days of my career/life. I knew what to expect when it came to the Infirmary match but I never walked into one against a Behemoth. The man had hands like a Catcher’s mitt. He didn’t need weapons, he was a weapon.
“You barely survived one Infirmary match nearly a decade ago against Evan Ward. What do you think one against Clay Byrd is going to do to you?”
And just like that I felt old as fuck. 2012 was nearly ten years ago but I still remember that match like it was yesterday. I was a cocky, overconfident son of a bitch back then. I walked into that match against Evan Ward thinking nothing of him just because he was a lightweight wrestler and the weak link in Ground Zero. Yet, that little pissant went about beating me bloody using the instruments inside of the Infirmary. I came close to losing but I remember having to tap into something deeper, something darker. That was the only way I overcame Evan Ward but would that be enough against Clay Byrd? Did I still have it in me to do something so horrific to another human being?
“You think you’re a badass because you set Ray McAvay on fire but you couldn’t even do that right. He came back and hit you with a fireball to eliminate you from War Games. Playing with matches is going to do you no good against Clay Byrd.”
The McAvay thing was still a sore spot but I have to admit setting Clay Byrd on fire was a guilty pleasure thought of mine. But I needed to get serious, dead fucking serious about this match. I needed to find a way to bring the Behemoth down to his knees and just keep beating on him until his body would eventually give out. Bedpans, scalpels wouldn’t cut it against a man that big unless I was precise with my slashing. What I needed was a 16 wheeler to drive through the prison and run him over with but that was out of the question. I ran the razor blade under the running water then continued to shave trying to think up a plan of attack. It wasn’t like Clay Byrd was without weaknesses. He had plenty of them but I needed to attack them with unmitigated fury.
“Against Clay Byrd, you’re nothing more than a mere kitten with barely any claws. The man is going to snap that stack of dimes you call a neck and put you in a wheelchair. And that’s the best case scenario for you.”
I shook my head before moving to the other side of my face with the razor. I knew this match would be dangerous. That’s why I can’t sleep at night but I didn’t need to be reminded of it. I wasn’t just some fucking pushover. I am the #1 wrestler in HOW. There isn’t a title in this company that I haven’t held. My name still carries weight in this business even after five years away. I just had to walk in there and fight for my very life. Wouldn’t be the first time I had to do it and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Clay Byrd be damned. I moved the razor along under my chin before returning it to the rushing water. I held it up and looked at the razor in my hand as the Monster in the mirror snickered.
“You should just take that razor and end it all now. That would be more of a merciful death than the one you’re going to face in the Infirmary.”
This Monster might have been the bane of my existence but I could tell it wanted me to give up before even trying. Sure Clay was big and Clay was strong but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t punch him right in his fucking judgmental face. Doesn’t mean I couldn’t break his nose or blow out one of his knees. Clay was a simple man with simple moves. He never needed to evolve or find new moves because he relied too much on his size and strength. If size was everything Clay would be the HOW World Champion not 6’1” 210 lb Conor Fuse. I would match his size and strength with sheer brutality and an unbreakable will. At the Go Home show I said that I would run right through him, so there would be no turning back now.
“You had the HOTv title taken from you. You had the main event of RATR taken from you. Clay took away your chance to pin the current LSD Champion and in a couple of days? He’s going to take away your spot in the main event of ICONIC.”
I was getting pissed off again. I laid the razor down on the sink and tried to take a few deep breaths. I could feel the rage bubbling up inside of me. The HOTv title had become a joke again with almost half of the competitors not sure on the amounts of promo’s they should do. Mike had an infinite number of title shots in that 970,000 page contract. Clay protected Sektor from being pinned by me before RATR and now I had to cripple this Behemoth just to get my spot at ICONIC. I’ve had enough with this bullshit. The Monster in the mirror goes to speak again but I scream out at the top of my lungs.
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”
I reached up with my right hand and punched the glass mirror as hard as I possibly could. The glass splintered and cracked in multiple places as the image of the Monster faded. I pulled away a bloody fist and raised my middle finger into the air.
So much for that Monster.
I found myself seated on the couch in the living room of my home. My right hand was bandaged up as my eyes were fixated on something. That thing happened to be Clay Byrd’s cowboy hat that I was holding in my hands. I received it from Jatt Starr when we met up before our tag team match at the Go Home show. My mind churned about my RATR opponent as I slowly turned the hat in my hands. I had wondered what to do with it since I got it.
Jatt suggested that I could set it on fire.
It was a tempting thought but I don’t think burning a pointless hat would do me any good heading into this Infirmary match. Wearing it to Alcatraz was another thought that crossed my mind but who knows what kinda lice or dandruff that Clay Byrd possessed. I could always just keep it as a trophy if I defeated Clay Byrd at RATR. It would be a nice reminder of what I had to go through to get that spot in the main event of ICONIC. And if Clay Byrd was the better man at Rumble at the Rock?
I could always just hand it back to him…
Nah, then I really would burn the motherfucker. Sure, all of that would be trivial but at least my mind was focused on Clay Byrd and the Infirmary match. I leaned back on the couch and looked under the hat when I heard the front door open and then close. After a few moments I was greeted by my half-sister Bailey who was standing over me looking none too pleased.
“I can’t believe you’re really going through with something like this!” Bailey complained.
I heard what she said but I gave little to no reaction whatsoever to her words. My focus remained on the cowboy hat in my hands and my opponent in Alcatraz. Clearly, Clay would have his adventures up in Boston but what exactly would he do to prepare for this match against me? Would he take it seriously or would he severely underestimate me going into this thing? Would one more chance at #97red be enough to push him to do whatever was necessary to get past me and main event ICONIC?
“War Games was one thing after coming back from a career ending neck injury.” Bailey continued. “But at least then it was comforting to know that you had teammates in there with you to help you survive. However, this is one on one against a Monster of a man.”
Bailey was good at stating the obvious, just like the Monster from my nightmares. But I’ve heard enough of it for one lifetime. Clay Byrd is a Monster, Clay Byrd is a Monster, Clay Byrd is a Monster. Doesn’t matter if he was from Plainview or a Disney movie. If you said it enough times then maybe Clay himself would actually start to believe it. Being big isn’t the end all be all of everything. There hasn’t been a big man that’s been HOW World Champion since Rhys Townsend. And there wouldn’t be at ICONIC if I had anything to do about it.
“Madison told me you’re having thoughts of not coming back out if this Infirmary match.” Bailey groaned. “You have me running the day to day operations of your massage parlor business because of your wrestling commitments. But I’ll be damned if I go off on a suicide mission and just leave me here with all of this!”
The way she said it made it sound like I wanted to die at RATR. Sure, I talked about it and acknowledged the fact that I could possibly meet my end in this match but that’s just smart. It would be dumb to walk into a match like this against a man like Clay Byrd and not realize the possible consequences. However I was not going to die in Alcatraz and I was done taking a backseat to anyone else on the HOW roster. I would take my spot in the main event, I would take Wrestler of the Year. I would take #97red and then I would take my spot in the Hall of Fame.
“Are you even listening to me?!” Bailey asked before rearing back and slapping me hard across the face.
I felt the red hot stinging across my cheek but still I didn’t reply to her. Bailey continued to yell but the words were nothing more than whispers to me. That was until a second slap connected with the side of my face. This one was so hard that it turned my head to the side and made me glance at a nearby mirror on the wall where you know who was watching.
“Just look at you. Taking shit from this little bitch? Pathetic. Here…let me show you what you need to survive this Infirmary match!”
And just like the black formless image leaped from the mirror and absorbed itself into my body. I felt something inside of me change. The anger continued to build the more Bailey talked. Then came a third slap followed by a fourth. I dropped Clay’s hat onto the couch and rose to my feet. Bailey reared back again but this time I caught her arm before a fifth slap could reach its mark.
“You have no idea the kind of shit I’ve dealt with heading into this match. You have no clue about the amount of shit I’ve dealt with since coming back to professional wrestling.” I hissed down at my half-sister.
“Okay, maybe I don’t…” Bailey pleaded.
“I’ve worked too long and too damn hard to keep getting the shit end of the stick just because my last name isn’t Best or that I’m not on the cover of the video game. The only time I’ve been pinned is when Lee punished me against Zion and when QT Reese used his ass and his body odor to catch me off guard. No one has simply out-wrestled me.” I gripped Bailey’s arm tighter.
“That’s admittedly impressive…” Bailey barely managed to spit out.
“Yet, this big Texan keeps coming at me with a steel chair like I won’t stomp what’s left of his concussed brain into pudding. You have no idea what that motherfucker whispered into my ear when he attacked me with that steel chair weeks ago.”
“Jace… you’re hurting me!” Bailey screamed.
I came out of my rage induced tirade and saw that I was gripping my half-sister’s arm so tightly that it was causing her knees to buckle and her back to arch in pain. I let go of Bailey’s arm and she crumpled down to the floor nursing the injury with her other hand. The awkward silence between us was deafening. Instead of apologizing, I just grabbed a hold of Clay’s cowboy hat and headed out of the house to do more training.
Clayton Fuckin’ Byrd.
How’s the head, Buddy? Are they fixing you up there in Boston or wherever the fuck you’ve been hiding out since the Go Home show? I hope so, I want you at 100% going into this Infirmary match. I don’t want any excuses when I beat you senseless and drag your lifeless body across the concrete floor.
I’ve been losing sleep over this match. Maybe it’s because of the threat you pose going into a match like this. Maybe it’s because of the fact I’ve actually competed at Rumble at the Rock in an infirmary match before. Either way the lack of sleep has given me a lot of time to think and prepare ways to make you suffer in Alcatraz. I hope you watched that match I had against Evan Ward back in 2012.
Long time ago, I know.
However, back then you could see the lengths I was willing to go to just to unify the HOW Television Championship with the HOW LSD Championship. I literally took a scalpel and lodged it into the ankle of Evan Ward just because I wanted to walk away with two Championship belts. I took a pair of scissors and rammed them into his forearm just because he had broken my nose that night. I know I’m going to have to go through a lot of pain and punishment to win this match against you and I’m fine with that.
Pain has always been a good friend of mine.
Just like when Evan Ward pulled that scalpel out of his ankle and stabbed me in the thigh with it. I still have the scar on my leg from that attack. Eventually I got tired of the murder flirting and decided to get serious in that match. I grabbed a hold of a bonesaw and decided to try to saw off one of Evan Ward’s legs. The glorious blood lust, I remember it vividly. The sound of his screams were like music to my ears but now? It’s your turn big boy and trust me there will be no murder flirting between the two of us.
I’m coming after you full stream from the jump.
I’m going to take home with me a piece of you to go along with the cowboy hat of yours that I have in my possession. I think one of your fingers would make a nice trophy. Or maybe I relieve you of that bum knee of yours and make you a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. Oh wait, I know, maybe I’ll just take that precious arm of yours that you use to throw that Texas Lariat of yours. Just what kind of threat are you without your best weapon? You really have to ask yourself Clayton, are you willing to die just for a chance to main event ICONIC?
This is about what I am owed. What I’ve earned and cementing my legacy after five years away from the sport. What legacy do you have other than years of wrestling overseas? You’ve not got an HOW Championship belt to your name and you’ve had plenty of shots at them. 39 years old and you’re still on the rookie level of HOW. I know it’s jealousy that fuels you going into this match against me. That’s why you didn’t like me from the very beginning. You thought the Best Alliance was just fine without someone as ‘selfish’ as me. But you know what Lee Best told me before I signed my name on the contract and agreed to rejoin the Best Alliance?
He told me that the Best Alliance had taken a lot of losses and he was tired of losing.
That’s on Sektor, Harrison, and most importantly you, Clayton, you so-called Monster. Lee had to rely on people like me and Sutler to finally vanquish the 214 idiots. I have Hall of Fame credentials, I’ve beaten Mike Best multiple times, and I’ve held more titles than you’ve got humps on your back. You just have to come to grips with the fact I am the superior athlete and just like an old mule, I’m going to put you out of your misery in Alcatraz. You can say whatever you want about me but I’m going to break you Clayton. I’m going to make you regret ever crossing me. I’m going to make you eat those words whispered to me and I’m going to make you beg me for mercy.
I’m going to bring one of the biggest men on the roster to tears.
And when you’re done pleading for me to stop. When you’re done begging me not to leave you a helpless lump of a human being. I’ll do the merciful thing and stomp your head against the concrete floor until everything just fades to black.
Because now I am the real Monster and you will be nothing more than my prey.
See you Saturday night, fuckstick.