I could faintly hear the sound of a leaky pipe somewhere in the room. The slow drip echoed throughout my head like the heartbeat inside of my chest. I had been through a war here tonight. I was battered, beaten, and bloody. I probably had a concussion at this point but this is the price you pay if you want to etch your name into the main event of ICONIC. I had no idea who would walk out of RATR as the HOW World Champion tonight or who would be carrying #97red by the time ICONIC rolled around in London.
All of that was trivial at this point because my main focus was survival.
An Infirmary match was nothing to take lightly. Here I was locked in a glorious battle with a literal monster who had all the tools necessary to give me an autopsy before I was even dead. I’ve been through Solitary Confinement before but this? If you asked me, this is the most dangerous match on the RATR card. Mentally I kept yelling at myself to get up. Pleading with my body to get up off of the cold and dirty concrete floor. However, each stomp, each kick to the ribs was another reminder of why my body refused to listen to my demands.
I was coughing up blood at this point.
This was not a wrestling match. There were no ropes, no turnbuckles. Nothing really to jump off of and no ring to escape from to catch a breather. There was no fancy wrestling maneuver or small package roll up that would save me from further punishment. I had to get on my feet and I had to do something, anything, to save myself from dying in this prison here tonight. My opponent was bigger than me. He was definitely stronger than me and that made all the difference in a match of this nature. Speed, agility, accomplishments? They all meant nothing in a match like this against a man dead set on ending my life.
It really puts things in perspective when your life is flashing before your very eyes.
For five years I sat at home on my couch nursing an injured neck. All the while wishing I could be back in HOW wrestling in matches just like this. Putting my body and my well being on the line in matches that would be considered felonies outside of an arena. I wanted this. I craved this. I scratched and clawed my way back for five years to be in this moment. I was putting my life on the line for the chance to main event ICONIC. Not the World Championship itself. Not a Hall of Fame ring. Nothing at all other than a chance… a FUCKING chance to wrestle for #97red one more time. For a red leather belt with 16 pounds of gold on it.
I wanted it so bad, I would literally die for the chance.
Naturally, this didn’t make me the sanest human being on the planet but that wasn’t news to anyone who knew me. I threw everything including the kitchen sink at this monster but on this night my opponent would not fall. He would not yield; he would not have anything to do with letting me make it out of this match in one piece. Not to say that I underestimated Clay Byrd because I didn’t. It just so happens that no matter what I do or what I try my opponent isn’t Clay Byrd. My opponent is an actual monster. A formless, pitch-black entity with Clay Byrd tendencies. Sounds ridiculous I know but this was real life. This wasn’t just some video game where I could hit the reset button and give it another try.
I wasn’t Conor Fuse.
Nor did I have Daddy sitting back somewhere to hand over a contract larger than War and Peace to make sure I got everything handed to me while protecting me from ever not looking invincible.
I surely wasn’t Michael Lee Best.
I am Jace Parker Davidson and this might be the final match of my illustrious career. The monster grabs a hold of a bull rope. Fucking cliché, I know. But nonetheless the rope is wrapped around my neck. I struggled for air and the sound of the slow leak from earlier? It was replaced by the sound of my body being dragged slowly along the concrete. I scratched, I kicked, I tried to scream but nothing would stop the monster from his task. I could feel myself losing consciousness and the main event of ICONIC slipping through my fingers. Everything I worked so hard for had just kept being out of my reach.
The HOTV Title that I lost.
My number #1 ranking in the standings.
My shot at the HOW World Championship belt.
All of it would be gone if I just let this monster keep dragging me across the concrete. In the Infirmary match you would have to drag your opponent out of the room past a line on the floor to win. Yet, this monster didn’t want to drag me out of the Infirmary. He wanted to drag me into it. I tried to grab a hold of the door frame in one last ditch desperate effort. However, the monster was too strong and with one final yank I was pulled into the Infirmary. The door slammed shut, the lights flickered on and off and the only thing heard throughout the prison was my own blood curdling screams.
I shot up out of bed in a cold sweat. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness but when they did, I realized I wasn’t inside of Alcatraz. I was inside of my own bed here in Miami and it was just a nightmare. Same nightmare I’ve been having since the tag team match in the Staples Center where I teamed with Jatt Starr to take on John Sektor and Clay Byrd. Dream or not, it felt all too real to me. I tried to take some deep breaths to relax myself because it felt like my heart would literally thump right out of my chest. I laid my head back against my damp pillow and started mumbling repeatedly the same thing I did every night to myself after waking up in shock.
“Monsters aren’t real.”
Well, to say that I’ve been losing sleep over this match at the Rock against you Clayton would be an understatement. Ever since the Go Home show in Los Angeles I’ve had this clock ticking in my head. It’s been counting down to the Infirmary match in Alcatraz. This head on collision, this car wreck of a match that will put you in a room with me. Just the two of us and all the surgical equipment that the prison has together until one of us can claim victory.
To do that one of us has to incapacitate the other to the point of dragging their lifeless body out of the room.
And for what really?
The right to be placed in the main event of ICONIC and wrestle for the World Championship belt. Yet, one question has been nagging at me about this whole thing. I have to ask, do you really want this as much as it seems, Clayton? You said it yourself last week that you were tired of the title chases and yet here you are chasing another chance to put #97red around that big waist of yours. In this era of HOW alone you’ve had shots at the HOFC Championship belt. The LSD Championship belt on multiple occasions and a shot at the HOW World Championship belt.
However, you came up short each and every single time.
Teddy Palmer, John Sektor, Mike Best, and Sutler Reynolds-Kael all had your number but me? I’ve had two title opportunities since I’ve been back. An HOW World Tag Team Championship match in which my partner Steve Solex shit the bed. And a shot at the HOTv Championship in which I defeated the very same man that cost me a third reign as a Tag Team Champion. So, outside of the War Games match I haven’t received a shot at the LSD Championship or the World Championship. Do you think that’s fair for the man that’s the #1 ranked wrestler in HOW? Why should I have to fight for what’s entitled to me given the rankings?
You were handed your shots just because you were a warm body and there to fill a role but me? I’ve received less shots at #97red than both Darin Zion and Kevin Capone. And now I have to go through your nearly 300 lbs ass to get a shot at the main event of the next PPV. Given your reputation in title matches are you honestly just walking into this match to make sure anyone but me gets it?
This is really starting to piss me off.
Michael Lee Best cuts the line to the main event of RATR just because of his last name. I had to wrestle Sutler Reynolds-Kael for a shot to be added to that match and got that taken away because of Farthington. Then just last week I had John Sektor beaten in the middle of the ring. I had defeated the current LSD Champion but you and a steel chair decided to rob me of that too. This thing between you and me goes all the way back to the lumberjack match where I was defending the HOTv Championship belt. You decided to cheap shot me on the outside of the ring even though we were both members of the Best Alliance. I let that slide because I ended up winning the match anyway but I’m done letting things slide.
I still remember that thing you whispered into my ear when you first attacked me backstage with that steel chair.
So, Monster, Behemoth, it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t care about the nightmares. I’m walking into that Infirmary match just like I walked into the one I had in 2012 against Evan Ward for the HOW LSD Championship belt. This guy was Conor Fuse before being Conor Fuse was considered to be cool. I took a piece of his soul that night along with the LSD Championship. I scarred that man for life. And if you decide to go to Arkham to get ‘fixed’ like you said you would? I’m going to dissect you in the Infirmary to find out just what the fuck they ended up doing to you. I’m going to take a finger, a limb, a piece of who you are as a competitor that night as I prove exactly why I deserve to main event ICONIC.
Bring your worst, Clayton because you’re going to need it.
If I have my way? I’m sending you back home to the ranch for five years and make you decide if you really want to fight to get this back or not. I’m going to drag all 6’7” and 295 lbs of you out of that room. Might seem impossible to some but you wanna know how I’m going to do it?
I’m going to dribble your cranium off of the concrete with my boot.
And when it’s all said and done?
Everyone will see that the Behemoth is nothing more than my bitch.
“So, how do I look?” Madison asked as she twirled around in her Halloween costume.
She was dressed as a sexy nurse who was covered in blood and carrying a Butcher’s knife in her right hand. Madison was definitely a cosplaying genius and admittedly I had the urge to take her right there and then but I had more important things to worry about. Like the ticking in my head that was continuing to countdown to Alcatraz.
“Well, are you going to answer me?!” Madison questioned as she placed her hands on her hips.
“Huh?” I replied while shaking my head out of my previous train of thought. “Oh, yeah you look great. Totally a killer costume.”
Madison sighed loudly as she walked over and sat down on the end of the bed beside me. She placed the Butcher’s knife down onto the bed and stared down at the carpeted floor just as I was doing at the moment.
“I get it, you know.” Madison spoke up, breaking the awkward silence.
“Get what?” I inquired as I raised an eyebrow and turned my eyes towards her direction.
“I get that this is a huge match coming up for you and that it’s going to be really dangerous. I watched the footage of the match you had against Evan Ward in the Infirmary back in 2012 but Clay Byrd is an entirely different beast. One with bad intentions which is why I understand why you’re not letting me come to Alcatraz with you. I don’t agree with it but I get the reasoning. You’re going to need to do a lot of training and have a lot of focus going into this match. It’s just…” Madison’s voice trails off a bit.
“How does one prepare or train for what might be their funeral?” I said as I looked up at the ceiling.
“Don’t say that!” Madison reached up and punched me on the shoulder.
“Honestly? I feel like Lee Best walking into the opening match at Bottomline. I feel like I’m in the middle of a room just ready to take a knee to the skull to end it all. Instead of a knee it’s a big Texas Lariat. It’s a very sobering feeling.” I admitted.
“You worked too long and too hard to just get down on your knees and have it all end that way. Since coming back you’ve done nothing but proven that you haven’t missed a step. You’re the #1 ranked wrestler in HOW for a reason. Sure things don’t come as easily to you as they do others but it’s not something you aren’t used to.” Were the words of encouragement from Madison.
“I just know I’m not going to walk out of this match the same man I was when I walked into it. I have to fight for every little scrap I get and this time I literally have to pull it out of the hands of a man who is bigger and stronger than me. An angry Texan who seems to have taken a liking to bashing me over the head with a steel chair.” The simple thought made my head start to throb.
“Clay Byrd isn’t a puzzle that you have to figure out. He’s just a big, dumb brick wall that you have to just run right through. He might be 6’7” and 295 lbs but you’re 6’4” and 253 lbs. You’re more than man enough to take the fight right to Clay Byrd and knock him on his ass. Men smaller than you have done it, so no reason why you can’t either.” Madison pointed out.
“You make running through a brick wall sound easy.” I responded with a chuckle.
“If it was easy then the reward at the end wouldn’t be as sweet. Now come on downstairs. I want to spend some time with you before you get back to training for the match. We can watch Halloween Kills together.” Madison got up off of the bed and exited the bedroom motioning for me to follow her.
I picked myself up off of the bed and made my way over to the large dresser with a vanity mirror on the other side of the room. I stared at myself in the mirror and looked at the bags that were beginning to form under my eyes. I seriously needed to get some sleep that didn’t involve waking up two to three times a night from bad dreams.
“I look like shit.” I said to no one in particular.
I continued to stare as my hands reached up and began to touch my face. Suddenly instead of seeing my reflection in the mirror it was replaced with the sight of the dark, black formless monster from my nightmares. No way that I was so tired that I fell asleep standing up. I wasn’t just dreaming this time. I was wide awake and here it was tormenting me once again. Staring straight through me as a warning of what’s to come at Alcatraz. My hands gripped the edge of the edge of the dresser tightly as I broke out into a cold sweat. I closed my eyes tight and started to repeat the same mantra I had over the past week.
“Monsters aren’t real.”