Sometimes Things Aren’t As They Seem

Sometimes Things Aren’t As They Seem

Posted on July 6, 2023 at 11:54 am by Dan Ryan

”You learned to run from what you feel, and that’s why you have nightmares. To deny is to invite madness. To accept is to control.”

– Megan Chance


The dreams are coming more frequently now.

Dreams? Or Nightmares?

It’s hard to tell the difference.

But they are vivid, lucid dreams that are the same every night. Always… always the same.

A wrestling ring, always a wrestling ring. Bright lights, big crowds. A faceless opponent across from me. I am within myself, watching as if a point of view character in a movie. I feel everything as if this were really happening, and who’s to say it isn’t?

I feel rage.

The rage within me burns like an inferno, consuming my every thought, my every breath. I am a fighter, a warrior forged in the fires of adversity, and today, anger is my fuel. My fists are clenched, my muscles taut, as I step into the ring, my eyes locked on my opponent. There is no room for mercy, no room for doubt. All that exists in this moment is my wrath, my determination to conquer and destroy.

As the bell tolls, the world around me fades into a blur. The crowd’s cheers and jeers become distant echoes, mere background noise in the symphony of my rage. My opponent stands in front of me, a mere obstacle in my path, a vessel for my pent-up fury. I can taste victory, sweet and satisfying, but it is revenge that truly fuels me.

With a primal roar, I unleash a barrage of punches, each strike carrying the weight of a thousand men. My knuckles connect with flesh, bone, and sinew, unleashing a storm of pain upon my faceless adversary. The sound of impact reverberates through the arena. My blows rain down upon him like a terrifying storm, unrelenting and merciless.

I see his blood splatter, his body contort with each strike. But it is not enough. It will never be enough. I want to see him broken, shattered, reduced to nothing more than a shell of his former self. I want him to feel the same anger, the same frustration that has fueled me for so long.

The taste of copper fills my mouth as I taste the sweat and blood. Adrenaline courses through my veins, heightening my senses, sharpening my focus. I can feel the strength surging through me, my muscles burning with a raw intensity. My anger propels me forward, driving me to push beyond my limits, to unleash something that can’ be contained.

As I feel the force of each blow, I scream out my defiance, my rage echoing throughout the arena. The crowd watches in awe and fear, mesmerized by the ferocity of my assault. Their cheers blend with my war cry, merging into a cacophony of chaos and power. I am an unstoppable force, an embodiment of wrath personified.

But amidst the chaos, a voice whispers in the depths of my mind. It speaks of control, of restraint. It reminds me that anger can be a double-edged sword, capable of both destruction and self-destruction. It warns me of the dangers that lie within the pit of unchecked rage.

I pause for a moment, my fists still clenched, my chest heaving with each breath. I look down upon my fallen opponent, his body battered and broken. The fire within me slowly begins to fade, the flames flickering, as I come to realize the futility of my anger. I have proven my point, demonstrated my dominance. There is no need to continue.

As the referee raises my hand in victory, a sense of calm washes over me. The anger that once consumed me begins to dissipate, replaced by a newfound clarity. I am a fighter, but I am also capable of harnessing emotions beyond rage. I have conquered not only my opponent but also the turmoil within myself.

In the end, it is not the anger that defines me as a fighter. It is the ability to channel that anger, to use it as a catalyst for becoming more. It is the understanding that true strength lies not in the blind fury of a moment but in the discipline and control that comes with mastering oneself.

I step out of the ring, my head held high, knowing that I have fought not only for victory but also for my own inner peace. The anger may have ignited my fighting spirit, but it is the wisdom to temper it that sets me apart. I am a fighter, not just of opponents, but of myself. And with each battle, I grow stronger, both in body and in spirit.

As I walk away from the fight, the echoes of my anger slowly fade into the background. I am left with a sense of fulfillment, knowing that I have unleashed my fury upon the canvas and left it there. The anger that once threatened to consume me has been transformed into a source of power and motivation.

I reflect on the journey that brought me to this point. The struggles and challenges have shaped me. Anger has been both my ally and my enemy, a formidable force that can either drive me forward or hold me back. It is a delicate balance, a tightrope walk between passion and control.

But I am not defined by my anger alone. I am a fighter with a purpose. The anger that burns within me serves as a reminder of the challenges I have faced, the battles I have fought, and the resilience that resides deep inside. It fuels my determination, igniting a relentless pursuit of excellence.

When I’m alone, when emotions subside, I find a sense of calmness in the feeling that I am no longer a slave to my anger. I have figured out how to direct that energy into a force that pushes me forward. It is through discipline and self-awareness that I find strength, not in succumbing to blind rage.

Anger will always be a part of me, an indelible mark that shapes who I am. But it is how I wield that anger that defines me as a fighter. I choose to wield it with purpose, with intention, and with the knowledge that true power lies in controlling the fire within.

As I prepare for my next battle, I carry with me the lessons learned from my anger. I step into the ring not as a vessel of blind rage, but as a man who understands the strength that lies in harnessing and directing that fury. And with every punch thrown, every blow landed, I will fight with controlled aggression, unwavering focus, and a steadfast determination.

And then, as if changing the channel on a television, I am surrounded by dark figures, each a haunting silhouette which looks suspiciously familiar, but whose features I can’t make out.

They descend upon me all at once, for they are not interested in personal growth. They only know violence, they only know hatred, they only know death. I hear noises from beyond them getting louder and louder as they advance, and as the sounds reach a crescendo, I feel the first blow, and another, and another, and everything goes black.

I wake up every morning from this. The choice is in front of me. There is no ignoring it. I’ve had to make this choice before, and it led to near-ruin. The growing realization is that violence is who I am, it is what I am. It formed me, made me. Everything else is effort. Pain is effortless. I’ve been told that I am not the monster I once was. I can be, in small doses, but it has gotten harder and harder. In my younger days I never thought that maturing would be seen as a weakness, but here I am.

I can harness all of this, but the question remains, will they let me? Is the monster all they want? Or can I be more?

Yes, the choice is in front of me.

There is no ignoring it.


”The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Dan Ryan had just landed in Rio De Janeiro some thirty minutes ago. Steve Solex was off in the jungle, presumably looking for Christopher America, who had been kidnapped several weeks back.

STRONK was still the World Champion.

Dan had been tasked with protecting the champion, and that was all that mattered right now. With members of the Alliance either missing or off looking for the person who was missing, the heavy weight of protecting the champion would be on Dan this week.

He had some business meetings set up, but he had canceled them all. There’s no time. His assistants, Craig Massey and Phyllis Anderson were working hard in his stead to make sure future plans stayed in motion. There had been a lot of work to be done. This was no time to get lazy.

Dan walked out of the airport and into the bright Brazilian sun. He could feel the heat in his bones. The big Texan was well-acquainted with heat and humidity, but Brazil took things up a notch. He made a quick pass by his hotel, checking in and having his bags taken up to his room He followed the bellboy, handed him a tip and shut the door behind him. Turning into his suite, he approached the bedroom.

As he sat down on the bed, he pulled out his phone and started looking through texts. He had one from Steve Solex, who was updating him on his progress in the jungle. It didn’t sound too promising. Christopher America was still missing, and Steve was running out of leads.

Dan sighed and put his phone down. It looked like it was gonna be a fun week.

He got up and went to the window, looking out at the city. Rio was vibrant and alive, but he wouldn’t have time to enjoy it. There was work to do.

He grabbed one of his smaller bags, slinging it over his shoulder and headed out of the hotel, making his way to the arena where STRONK was training. The streets were crowded with tourists, each dressed more gaudily than the next.

He walked into the back entrance where several EPU agents were making sure that only authorized personnel were allowed inside. They each gave Dan a nod as he approached and stepped aside to let him through.

He soon found himself entering a large open room with copious amounts of training equipment. On the side of the room was a large table covered with what Dan assumed was STRONK’s post-workout meal of beef and chicken. To be precise, there were no less than six full sized roasted chickens and enough beef to feed a small country for six months.

Dan smirked slightly and looked up to see STRONK lifting massive amounts of steel as if lifting skyscraper girders into place one after the other.

He made eye contact with the huge World Champion and gave a little nod, which was reciprocated.

He noticed Michael Oliver Best walking in his direction. The brother of Lee Best, who had been guiding STRONK for some time now, held out a hand.

“Well, if it isn’t Mr. Dan Ryan.”

He smiled. Dan did not. But he took his hand and shook it firmly. “I thought it might be a good idea if we had a conversation, since we both have the same interest in protecting our boy over there.”

Michael nodded, “Sure, let’s talk.”

Michael led him over to a private corner of the room where they could speak without being overheard.

“I’m sure you’re aware of the situation with Christopher America,” Michael began. Dan nodded. “Steve Solex is leading a group of men looking for him, but we don’t have many leads. We need to keep STRONK safe, but we also need to find Christopher before it’s too late.”

Dan took a deep breath, “I understand the seriousness of the situation. I’ve already canceled my meetings to focus solely on STRONK’s protection.”

Michael nodded, “Good. We need to be on our guard. There are too many people out there who would love to take a shot at the champ. And with America missing, the ranks are a little thinner this week.”

Dan knew what Michael was getting at. The Alliance had far too many enemies. With Christopher America missing, the ranks weren’t just thinner, but distracted too, and thanks to a certain blue Charmin spokesman, Lee was not in the best of moods.

“Well,” Dan replied. “Since Solex, whose ability I trust implicitly, is out finding America, perhaps you and I should be focusing on the task at hand. I have a match this week. STRONK does not. It will be necessary for you to make sure no one gets to him while I’m occupied in the ring. And as for our enemies… well… I will be making an example out of Scott McKlayn and Zach Kostoff, and our enemies, after I do, will think twice before trying anything funny.”

Michael nodded, “I agree. It’s important that we make a statement. And we need to do everything in our power to keep the champ safe.”

Dan looked at Michael, then glanced briefly at STRONK, who was now doing pushups with about five hundred pounds on his back. “I have a few ideas on how to beef up security around the champ. I think it’s time we take extra measures to ensure that no harm comes to him.”

Michael raised an eyebrow, “What kind of measures?”

Dan smirked, “Let’s just say I have some old friends who owe me a favor. They’re gonna come in and help us with security. And trust me, no one will be able to get anywhere near our big friend.”

Michael nodded slowly, “Alright. I’ll trust your judgment. But let’s make sure we stay focused. We can’t afford to let our guard down.”

Dan nodded, “Agreed. And Michael, make sure you keep an eye on Lee. Like I said, he’s not in the best of moods right now. Nothing goes wrong this week on our watch. Understand?”

Dan took a step closer to Michael Oliver Best, hushing his voice to a whisper. “And just so we’re clear, I would remind you that your brother calls me the Hammer of GOD for a reason. So if anything does go wrong, I’ll be the one doling out the punishment. Catch my drift?”

Michael silently gulped as a brief wave of fear washed over him, but after a moment he regained his composure.

“I understand,” Michael replied, his voice barely above a whisper. “I’ll make sure everything runs smoothly.” Dan nodded, satisfied that Michael understood the gravity of the situation.

As they were speaking, STRONK had finished his workout and was now making his way over to them. Dan stepped back, allowing Michael to take the lead. STRONK seemed as wide as he was tall, an absolute steamroller of a man.

Dan acknowledged the champion with another nod. “I’ll let the two of you get back to it. I’m sure he’s hungry.”

With a smile, Dan turned and walked away.

As Dan made his way out of the training room, the feeling that something was wrong grew. He trusted his instincts, and he had been in the game long enough to know when something wasn’t quite right. He made a mental note to keep his eyes open and his senses sharp.

As he walked down the street, Dan thought back to when he was just getting his start, young and naïve and full of bravado. Success came easily. He was young and ambitious, with dreams of gold overruling all else. But as time went by, he realized that there was more to the business than just winning titles. There was the politics, the rivalries, and of course, always the threat of the unforeseen. He had to learn to be aware of every possibility, to plan for every eventuality.

Dan knew that this life was not an easy one. He knew better than most. He had seen friends and colleagues come and go, some leaving the business for good, while others met untimely ends. All of it was in the past, but he had invested too much time and energy into the business, and he was determined to see STRONK avoid some of the pitfalls he had faced.

He pulled out his phone and dialed a saved number. Holding it up to his ear, he waited, then heard a click and a voice on the other end.

“Yeah… it’s Dan. I need to ask you a favor. I need you for some security down here. I need someone I can trust. And I need someone who can handle themselves in a fight.”

The man on the other end of the line was silent for a moment before finally speaking. “You got it, Dan. Whatever you need, I’m there.”

Dan smiled to himself. He knew he could count on his friend. “Thanks, man. I owe you one.”

The man chuckled. “You owe me more than one, Dan. But we can discuss that later. What do you need me to do?”

“I need you to come down to Rio ASAP. I have a match coming up and I need extra security for STRONK. Plus, there’s some trouble brewing, though I haven’t figured out exactly what just yet. I need someone with your expertise to help keep things under control.”

The man paused. “Alright, I’m in. I’ll book a flight and be there as soon as possible. Just let me know what I need to do when I get there.”

Dan grinned, relieved. “Thanks. I’ll have Phyllis meet you at the airport. She’ll have your instructions. I knew I could count on you. We’ll catch up more once you arrive.”

He stuffed his phone back into his pocket, turned back toward the crowd, and disappeared.