Aka – How I Learn To Love Again
I can feel the pulse of his heart as he struggles beneath the choke.
I hear his hand slap the mat.
I release my opponent.
Sutler’s eyes narrow as his jaw tightens, his nostrils flaring while he pulls in a deep breath. His muscles tense as his hand instinctively moves to the back of the woman’s head, his fingers entangling themselves in her vibrant red hair. He doesn’t know why but it feels natural to him.
I can feel the pulse of his heart as he struggles beneath the choke.
He buckles, steadying himself on the desk as the woman adjusts herself. Such a fucking professional but then Elenore only invested in the Best. Clearing his throat the young man felt a lump in the back of his throat, like something had been born deep in his chest and was desperately attempting to crawl it’s way out of his mouth.
I hear his hand slap the mat.
The professional pulls away as Sutler gasps, his knees buckling as his pale face flushes red. So close, such a fucking professional. He lets his hand slip from her hair as he runs it through his hair, sweat slick across his smooth brow. She gives him a moment to catch his breath before she gets back to task at hand.
I release my opponent..
He has lost control several times in his life. Usually in anger, sometimes in fear but this time? He feels the blood drain from his face and he swears it pools in his feet. He’s been knocked unconscious by a Brow Beater from Max Kael and yet he’s never felt his knees buckle so helplessly before. He’s sure he makes an unflattering noise but honestly he doesn’t care, he finally understands the elusive euphoria.
The professional cleans up, she mentions something about how cute he is. He tries to thank her but his head is still spinning. His breathing is heavy as he stares down at his pants around his ankles still attempting to grasp how something could feel so good. When he has finally gathered his thoughts enough to say something appropriate she’s already gone.
And just like that the temperature of the room drops by about thirty degrees. The sensation of pleasure begins to fade and the cold reality of what has just happened settles neatly into place.
“Yeah, I mean.. It was great, Aunt.” Sutler blinks a few times, shaking away the lingering haze as he reasserted control over his faculties. In a smooth motion he sweeps down and pulls his pants up, buckling them as he turns his back to the icy blue eyes of Elenore Kael.
“She came highly recommended. Doctor Szinn believes that this kind of positive reinforcement may have an impact in your performance, both inside and outside the ring. Connecting a positive experience with victory, should you defeat your first opponent, you will be given full access to an escort of your choosing.” The porcelain face of Elenore Kael revealed no emotion nor hint of humanity, her voice is even, curt and informative.
He finally turns to look toward Elenore, the pale woman settled neatly into an ivory pants suit with ebony highlights looking every bit like an extra from a Tim Burton movie. She was so silent and so still he had forgotten she was in the room until she had spoken earlier adding yet another uncomfortable layer to the whole situation.
“Did you remember the mantra Doctor Szinn instructed you to repeat in your mind?”
“And you managed to keep it in your mind that entire time?”
She asked the question more like an accusation, the thin eyebrow over her left eye rising in a nearly imperceivable way. For Sutler it was obvious, a gesture from his Aunt to convey to him her doubt in case the tone of her question had left some uncertainty.
“I can feel the pulse of his heart as he struggles beneath the choke. I hear his hand slap the mat,” Sutler’s jaw tightens as he speaks through clenched teeth. He wasn’t sure why he thought he’d get to enjoy some sense of freedom with Max dead, while his Aunt had been kinder she was no less controlling and at least twice as vindictive. “I release my opponent. I win.”
She nods, a look of approval resting neatly on her face. He notes how her makeup makes her skin look particularly smooth today, the burns left behind by Max barely noticeable.
“Excellent. I have no doubt about your ability to win your upcoming match. Still, you know how important research is, go see your Uncle about getting information about your opponent, Kevin Capone. This can also be a chance to work on creating a closer bond with Michael opening more opportunities for advancing our agenda in High Octane Wrestling.”
He dropped his gaze from Elenore as he nodded. Elenore was always looking for the angle, always had some kind of plan going on, either following the orders of the long dead Wilhelm Kael or pursuing some mysterious agenda of her own. Sutler didn’t know which she was after anymore just that it was nothing personal, just family.
“Mike just.. I mean he’s going through a pretty shitty time right now.”
“Exactly, Sutler. He’s emotionally devastated, morally shattered and probably having mental breakdown. He’s one title loss away from being at Rock Bottom and he needs a friend. No, sorry, not a friend,” Elenore pauses as she turns to the side in thought. Her frosty blue eyes seem to twinkle as the words come to her finally as she continues. “A nephew. He needs the only real family he has left.. You.”
Mike wasn’t a good man, Sutler knew that. He didn’t look up to his uncle or think of him as some kind of hero. He was much like his brother, a little crazy with a mean streak that screamed bad childhood but as bad as he could be, Mike had never shown that to Sutler. He had used him, sure, just like everyone else, but more often that not it just resulted in Mike being nice to him.
Sutler might hate Max but he also understood that Mike cared about him. The idea of using Mike’s pain to further the goals of his Aunt under the pretense that it was helping Sutler didn’t sit well with the young man.
“But imagine, Sutler, if you manage to defeat Kevin Capone and get some air time with your Uncle on the next show, I’ll let you pick TWO escorts of your choice. Male or female, whatever you like. How does that sound for positive reinforcement?” Elenore baited, in her mind offering the ultimate prize to Sutler. He was polite, smiling and playing the part of a young man eager to please his Aunt.
“Well you know me, always thinking with my penis since five minutes ago.”
Elenore caught the sarcasm, her face falling neatly into an unfeeling, unreadable mask as she glared at her nephew. A tussle of red and black hair fell across his face as he tucked his chin down toward his chest. In the last ten minutes he had enjoyed his first blowjob then been issued orders to emotionally manipulate his uncle.
What a way to start the day.
Sutler had never really been sure if Mike’s whole bit about his Academy being a Church was a joke or if he was serious.
At face value Mike had always seemed pretty keen about it just being a turn a phrase, a way to sell his gym as being something of a grade above the rest. Like much of the Best Family’s business ventures it had been a lot of hype, ample amounts of glitz and a broken bottom line designed to create tax shelters to hide the real profits. The clients were mainly made up of never gonna make it hacks eager to fork over their cash in hopes of absorbing one iota of the talent my uncle has. This is a business that feeds on the dreams of men and women who are likely never gonna make it.
Elenore would call Six Time Academy a model of the High Octane enterprise scheme, a microcosm of the kind of environment the Best Family benefits the most from.
But then there are times when Sutler sees the fire in his Uncle’s eyes, when he has seen him bear down and get the work done in the training facility to prepare himself for a match. Sometimes it’s ridiculous or absurd, the kind of antics you might have expected from someone like Max Kael rather than the undisputed High Octane World Champion. Sutler saw the fire and the drive, saw the obsession and the belief, the kind of zealotry you only see in the eyes of true believers.
So maybe this place was a church, a temple, just not the one that the brochure and online coupons would have you believe it is. It is a sacrificial pit for the Best Family, an odious cathedral that fed body after body to Mike and his friends, to play with, to practice, to hone their deadly art before entering the ring for real.
It all sounds very melodramatic when you put it like that and, as we all know, there was a part of Sutler that couldn’t help relish it.
He had arrived at the Academy a few hours before to consult with his Uncle before hitting the mat hard in preparation for Kevin Capone. Sutler wasn’t sure what he had expected his uncle to tell him for certain, only that he knew he had to work his way into his confidence as per Elenore’s demands. The talk he had with Mike had left him… confused.
Instead he took that uncertainty with him to the floor and was presently working his way through a few of the trainees looking to move up the ranks.
A doughy looking man wearing a blue leotard named Buck L. Bomb was presently trying to box Sutler in with his saggy frame.
Remember what Mike told you.
Sutler’s brow was set as the world seemed to slow down for him. His mind was racing as his eyes darted across Buck’s torso and down his left leg where a cheap leg brace struggled to keep the joint supported. He spotted his first target.
Doesn’t matter who Kevin Capone is. Doesn’t matter if you know his history, if you know everything there is to know about him. What’s in front of you matters.
He heard Mike’s voice in his head as his eyes quickly caught Buck’s right hand clenching, a likely attack being prepared. Buck seemed to favor the right hand meaning he’d lead in hoping to score a haymaker. The towering mass of human tissue began to lumber forward, his body tensing as the right hand began it’s slow orbit from far behind Buck’s back on a collision course with Sutler’s jaw. His eyes darted to the knee again as he watched the leg push forward, the big man looking to put everything he had behind this attack.
Tear him apart before he even gets to the ring. Who gives a fuck who Kevin Capone is? Once this match is done the real question you want people asking is who is Sutler Reynolds-Kael?
The ham fisted haymaker rounds the bend hell bent on striking Sutler with enough force to put the youngster down. Like a good hunter he waits, however, for his prey to fall into the perfect position, he just needs a little more extension from Buck. He feigns confusion as he sees Buck’s flabby face light up with anticipation as his mass looks to engulf Sutler like a sweaty catcher’s mitt snatching a ball out of the sky.
Then win. And never stop winning.
Buck likely didn’t know that this fight had been over before he threw the punch, it was over when he got out of bed and decided he wanted to continue his membership with Six Time Academy. The look of smug success is wrenched from his face as Sutler stiffly kicks the knee from beneath Buck’s stupid body. With so much of his momentum and weight thrown into the punch he can do little to course correct as his fist flies harmlessly through the air.
Never stop winning.
With a blur of motion Sutler swings his body around Buck’s bulk as he comes crashing down, the Son of Scions slinging his legs around the big man’s head catches the wild fist with his own arms. As both land on the mat Sutler clenches his locks a Triangle Choke around Buck’s neck. Like a bear whose head is caught in the trap, Buck struggles desperately though it only worsens his situation.
With no choice Buck is forced to tap. Sutler immediately releases the hold, rolling toward the ropes where he continues to run Mike’s worlds through his head.
His dark eyes look up as Buck is rolled out of the ring clutching his knee. Another one steps in, a weirdly proportioned kid about his age with rainbow colored hair and a plus symbol tattooed onto his chest. His name is Affirmative Action Jim.
..maybe stop after this.
Seeing a dead body for the first time is always a little jarring. The skin is absent of color, absent of warmth with an almost unreal quality to it. In places the flesh stretches taunt, purple bruising that begins to rot into a mildew green if left in too warm an area.
Max made for a particularly exquisite corpse given the nature of his life. His skin was so heavily scarred and damaged that the color didn’t really seem to change despite most of the blood in his body having dripped out the large hole in his head. His strange blue eye had no depth to it, a glass stare began to grow opaque, no reflection there only meat well past its due date.
The most jarring thing about Max wasn’t how horrifically mangled his body was or how shockingly little appeared to change about his physical appearance in death but rather how normal he looked.
His face wasn’t stretched into a hideous gaping smile or drawn downward into an accusing frown. His brow wasn’t knitted together like a villain in a Rankin-Bass Christmas special and no futuristic mechanical eye whirled around inside his head. He just looked like he was sleeping, resting after a brutal match with his brother, catching forty winks before he sprang up off the slab.
Of course with over seventy percent of his brain mass destroyed and all of the blood drained out of his body Max Kael was dead as dust and twice as useless.
“You know him?”
One of the crematorium workers peered down at the corpse of Max Kael examining the stitchwork across the corpse’s chest.
“Yeah, sorta. Through the internet, he was a big name in that wrestling company that runs out of down town, High Octane Federation or something like that.” his associate replied while fiddling with a clip board.
“I thought he looked familiar. Must have seen him on a poster or something.”
“Everything look good over there?”
The man examining Max Kael’s body takes one last passing glance over the body, pausing to stare down at his face one last time. His eyebrow quirked as he noticed something of interest, leaning down to stare into the mangled hole where that burning red eye had once been. He seemed lost for a moment staring down into that empty voice before he took in a sharp breath. Blinking he seemed to remember where he was, brushing off the feeling.
“Yeah, just felt like I was looking in the mirror for a second. Let’s load him up.”
The two men move to either side of the body, strapping the body down before they both move to the head. Both nod before pushing the slap forward, the sound of rollers coming to life as the body begins its final voyage.
The sounds of gears and machinery rumble to life as the massive black iron cremator awakens. The body vanishes beneath a heavy metal plate that slams down into place, both men locking it tight before they step to a small window granting them a view within the oven. The first man stays, watching the window while his associate leaves having no interest in witnessing what is to come.
Fire belches into the small space consuming the body. The hair is the first to go, searing away in a few moments as the temperature begins to rise rapidly within the chamber. The flesh blackens and bubbles as the fat and other liquids within turn to vapor. It doesn’t take long for the machine to render down the soft tissue leaving behind chard bones and a half formed metal skull glowing in the embers.
The man smiles.