THE SACRED TIMELINE (1)
A series of events or paths all timelines must take. Inhabitants do not have free will and a strict script is followed.
Example. Conor Fuse: Regardless of multiverse, everyone goes through The Sacred Timeline. It should not be altered.
— — — — —
When I was young, I’d often lay in bed wondering what life would be like when I’m older. What journeys would I go on? What trials and tribulations would come my way? How would I succeed; how would I fail? And, ultimately, would I have the drive to keep going either way? I still find myself lying awake at night with the same questions. My mind never seems to slow down.
You know, of all people in the world Kevin Capone said something interesting. He said what is there to a gamer when they finally beat the game? There’s nothing. You’re done. You move on to the next one, the next challenge and lay awake at night asking the same questions under different scenarios. It’s the default notion, isn’t it? Beat the game and you win. Achieve the high score and you’re the best player. Stomp on the 8-4 boss’ head and there’s no need to play again for years, if ever. You don’t even have to go through every level. Skip the middle parts, it doesn’t matter. You can claim you won as long as you reach the end.
So that’s it, right? Conor Fuse wins the World Championship, show me the credits and cutscenes. The Vintage is etched in the High Octane timeline forever. They will look at this period and say I was special. He levelled up; he was a true warrior. Never backed down, always brought it and sent SRK packing. He was one-of-a-kind. A special player for sure, they’ll bellow as I wander down a new path, asking myself what life will be like for me in two, maybe three years. Goodbye HOW, I’ve proven myself. The “stupid gaming kid” is a force to be reckoned with.
Nothing left to accomplish.
Nothing. At all.
… … … … …
Headquarters Beercade – Chicago
August 25, 2021
Things are starting to change, I can feel it. I did a meet & greet last December in the lead-up to ICONIC. I had some fanfare but it wasn’t this intense. Inside arenas, chants for The Ultimate Gamer have grown. My name is brought up on dirt sheets more often. Apparently, I’m dating Blaire Moise. A bogus story, no doubt but I’m not setting the record straight. Vintage fever is sweeping the nation after I stood out in a War Games co-op littered with bosses of all shapes and sizes. The reps in sales tell me Conor Fuse branded t-shirts fly off the rack.
“Sold out of ‘8-BIT BADASS’ 4XL last week,” Debbie from sales told me on Tuesday when I bumped into her backstage. Sounds about right. The gaming demographic is a different breed, a gaming+wrestling fan is something entirely out of this world. I’d have been worried if she said they sold outta smalls.
HOW used to print a single Conor Fuse t-shirt. Now I have a handful. “!RANK !RANK !RANK”, “Weapon Get Me” and “PRESS START”. The sales department is ruthless sometimes, they’ll sell you anything.
And the icing on the cake… I find myself at the end of the game. Sutler Reynolds-Kael, my arch nemesis, THE Final Boss. He and I will battle at Bottomline.
The line-up to meet me is long and winds around the building. They’ve had to turn fans away but it hasn’t stopped them from peering in through the glass and waving in my direction. I’m keeping things casual, sporting black Adidas track pants and an SRK shirt with a big X through it. ‘Cause screw him.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll begin the autograph session momentarily, once Mr. Fuse settles in,” shouts the bar representative as I glance up with a raised eyebrow. I’m not some pompous boss, simply a regular wrestling gamer who walked into a few big victories. You can let them through.
“Send them my way. It’s all good, buddy,” I say to the man and he nods. He opens the gate and the first trio of people come forward. It’s a family with a kid approximately ten-years-old. He holds a Conor Fuse plush toy. I wasn’t even aware of this item. Did they get my face right? Although it’s my first plush toy, I’ve seen others. The faces typically leave a lot to be desired.
“Hi. Really nice to meet you guys,” I address as the kid seems blown away. We converse for a few moments. I ask him where he got the doll and he hands it over. I stare at it, giving the company a solid B+ on the look. I realize I could say anything and the kid will eat it up but I ask about him. I worry about this boy growing up. HOW isn’t really the PG type of show if you know what I mean… but hey, any support is good.
The parents are thankful, I tussle the kid’s head and they’re off. The next group is called to the stage and again, it’s a family. Two parents, one child, probably around the same age. Before they approach, I take a harder gaze into the crowd. There are lots of children.
“Interesting,” I shrug, waiting for the next family to arrive.
“And what’s your name?” I ask the awe-struck fan once he’s in front of me, making eye contact with his parents and giving a wink. The boy wants to speak but he doesn’t know how.
“C’mon, Johnny. Tell Mr. Conor Fuse who you are,” the mother adds softly but no word is muttered. He waves from side to side and smiles like a kid who just shit his pants.
“It’s okay, I’m gonna assume your name is Johnny,” I say with another wink at the parents. Jesus, how lame are you, Conor?
“Thanks for coming out,” I change the topic, grab an 8×10 of myself and begin signing it. “I really appreciate the support. Gonna be the fight of my life next week.”
“Well we,” the mother motions as if to insinuate herself and her son, “know you’re going to win the World Championship from evil Sutler Reynolds-Kael.”
I smile and thank the family. We exchange a few more words and I’m left to ponder briefly. Was she trying to inadvertently tell me something? She didn’t motion to her husband when she said “we know you’re going to win”. Hmph. Perhaps I’m reading too much into things.
Greeting the next family and their two children, I carry on.
“They turned people away, huh?” I glance up to the arcade rep. He validates my question with an “oh yeah, tons.”
Enjoy the ride, Conor. You’re getting somewhere.
… … … … …
Bottomline, World Championship Match:
Sutler Reynolds-Kael (C) vs. Conor Fuse
August 28, 2021
You know, for someone who’s so detail oriented, I don’t remember much here. My ring entrance is something I won’t forget, though. A vintage idea. Go full blown Legend of Zelda, complete with miniature (plastic) rupees falling from the rafters. The match itself is two kids fighting as if only one can have a future. I would expect nothing less from SRK. I may have a couple of years on Sutler but we’re in the same career “trajectory”. Can’t fuck this up, you only receive so many chances on the Last Level. Sure, the BOTS will welcome me with open arms but I’m not going back there. I refuse to be Cancer Jiles and SRK hits me like he’ll never mop the floors again, either.
For as much as the two of us went back and forth over the summer, it was nothing personal. There’s a level of respect here, albeit of subconscious form. A trust we have in each other, knowing we will take the other to the top, no matter what stands in our way. Yes, respect… even if Sutler is a…
No better than Bla-
DING DING DING
And suddenly I see referee Matt Boettcher calling for the bell. My hands and face are awash in the Son of Scions’ blood. Did I do this? Did I become the High Octane World Heavyweight Champion?
I was so close against Jiles. In Japan, the ref actually told me I beat the (war) game, only to have the decision changed by another referee.
Now The Vintage wins. 100% High Octane trophy.
I peer into the crowd, my senses slowly returning. There are cheers, loud cheers. There’s the ten-year-old boy in the front row (who shouldn’t be here, but I digress) jumping up and down. There’s the teenage girl, screaming and blowing kisses. There’s my stereotypical fan, too. The mid-40s 4XL gamer, in my “8 BIT BADASS” t-shirt. It’s time to buy more of those, buddy.
There’s even the middle aged man, the father, who stands in front of his son lightly clapping me on. Have I made him a believer?
But I don’t feel excited.
I don’t feel…
I thought the end of this game would’ve brought me ecstasy. “IF THEY COULD SEE ME NOW!” I planned to scream into the rafters and hold the achievement high. All who doubted The Power-Up King, said I was a joke… that I was one-dimensional. A video game virgin living in mom and dad’s basement.
No. I don’t live there anymore.
I live on top of the High Octane food chain. I am no longer Player One, my campaign has finished. I am the Last Level Legend. I AM 8-4! Pull your cheat codes out motherfuckers because “The Vintage” Conor Fuse is not an easy dance partner. I murdered Sutler. His blood is ALL OVER ME. Let this serve as a lesson to each and every one of you. From Doozer, to Steve Solex, to Jeffery James Roberts, I AM THE BOSS YOU SHOULD FEAR, not some murderer locked up in prison. I’ve weathered the storm, hit the right combos and done something only thirty-two others can lay claim to after all these years.
Come for me, step up and get knocked down.
This is what I thought I would say to myself. There’s usually such passion in my voice, I wear my heart on my sleeve. Instead, there’s an emptiness.
So what? Who cares? Show cutscene; roll credits.
Matt Boettcher walks over to me with #97MARIORed.
I hear a wild cheer.
… … … … …
Refueled LI, Round 2 HOFC Match
January 30, 2021
I’ve been here before. Such hope and promise.
“I can make a name for myself tonight,” I lean over to the producer in gorilla. He’s much less interested in me than making sure I hear my cue on time. It’s amazing how fast you can level up. One minute you’re splashing around in the shallow end and the next you’re dropped into a ring with twice as many corners and a chain-linked fence.
Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II. Fine games, no doubt. I love to play ‘em at the arcades but I never did enjoy them as much as some may think. There’s no captivating tale there, ya know? I mean… everything is what you make it. Of course there’s some story but I don’t feel it. The platformers, the RPGs. The journeys, the single player campaigns. The cutscenes, the twists and turns. Now this I can sink my teeth into. Maybe I’m full of excuses because I can’t kick, punch and button mash like the top level HOFCs. The only reason I mildly hang with fighters is because I refused to play their game. I’m fast, agile and young.
Clearly, my upcoming opponent is more than just a fighter. He is literally a cheat code in the making. He is the fountain of youth.
“I’m a lover, not a fighter,” I nudge the producer once more, realizing it’s my way of coping. I’m rather nervous, I can’t stand still and my mind races more than normal. “You know, make love not war… craft.” I hope he thinks I’m clever and doesn’t realize I stole the joke from South Park. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, the producer continues to be busy with other things.
While many would shy away from this DeNucci Cup battle, I’m game. Are the odds in my favour? LOL, not exactly. I wasn’t born yesterday although I’ve worked extremely hard for the past month after pressing start on the tournament. I didn’t think I’d make it past the Hollywood BOT let alone be squaring off with Him.
“Eight corners, not a lot of room to maneuver,” I recalled standing in a vacant octagon a month prior, trying to gauge how I can wrestle the high flying style. It’ll be vital to play by my rules and not be roped into what I’ve seen happen so many times before. Tape doesn’t lie. He is a fucking genius. Time and time again I see them line up and think they can go shot-for-shot. Verbally, too. I swear I’ve rolled my eyes a million times and I’ve only been in HOW for six months.
Walter, my favourite Dearness resident, watched from outside the octagon where I trained. I moved into the DLC directly after my RATR loss to Jatt Starr last year, although I didn’t reveal it until later.
“You have to believe the space you’re using is bigger than it is,” he mentioned. I don’t know why I listened to a ninety-four-year-old with no combat skills whatsoever but he typically provided good advice. “And you can’t, under any circumstances whatsoever, be tricked into fighting His game.”
“I know, I know. I’ve been saying it since the beginning.” I replied, racing around the canvas. I don’t know if it’s legal and I don’t care but I jumped onto the mesh and pushed off, allowing myself new ways to find momentum.
“I’m faster,” I remarked. “Nobody can catch me when I’m rolling.”
Regardless, there was a cloud of dread hanging over me during those sessions. I knew the outcome was inevitable but I wanted to give it an honest shot. What kind of gamer would I be if I mailed it in?
Snap back to gorilla. We’re coming off a commercial break so the producer is heavily invested in watching the screens in front of him.
“Hit Fuse’s music,” he finally notices me. “And go, Conor. You’re out there.”
One deep breath. I reach out for the curtain and walk into the abyss.
It’s something out of a Batman ‘66 television show.
My pulse hammers through the side of my head.
Down on all fours, I find myself in the middle of the canvas, crawling around for help. My heartbeat is accompanied with vicious, blood-thirsty cheers.
My vision, blurry. No time to push off the mesh. No chance to accelerate. It’s something out of Resident Evil, maybe worse. I’m DOA, although I’m trying to sit upright like there’s a chance I could change this course of history.
Legs are dead weight. Arms are nothing.
Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump.
That grin. That shit eating grin. It’s almost infuriating.
Still crawling on all fours, Boettcher asks me if I can go. My world spins, round and round. I’ve lost track of the smile I caught out of the corner of my eye. The fans are going insane! The anticipation awaits and I realize, right now, no one is banking on a fight.
I thought I was on their side?
Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump.
I cough a WEAK “I can go” and with help from the mesh I pull up and push off but by no means is it the push I had envisioned. There’s zero momentum here.
Well, coming from me.
… …. … … …
Dearness Living Community
February 15, 2021
“I really don’t think I’m that depressed.”
I sit on a gurney, feet dangling freely as Walter is to my left and Dr. Steadman to my right.
“I’m doing fine. I did a closed set interview with Joe two weeks ago and attended Refueled on Sunday. I dunno what the big deal is.”
Walter rolls his eyes and peers at the doctor. “The big deal is Conor’s spent the last two weeks locked up in his room and hasn’t done a thing,” the Elder turns to me. “And while you did attend Refueled this past week, you sat there with a sad look on your face and stared at Jack Harmen the entire time.”
“Uhhh,” I dismiss, “he’s the guy who did this to me. Jumped in a game he had no business playing in.”
Dr. Steadman’s less interested in the trivial nature of my back-and-forth with Walter. He swings his chair around after scribbling down notes.
“What would you typically be doing, Conor, if you were feeling well? What’s a regular day for you?”
This is bullshit.
“I don’t know… hit the gym, watch some tape, review my strategies, play some Nintendo? The regular stuff?” Wait, I’m not finished yet. “Oh yeah, on Sundays I do consistent lines of blow and fuck a pack of strippers bareback. Forgot that one.”
I convey body language to Walter, explaining if he tries this again I’m gonna find a stupider thing to say.
“You don’t even know what barebacking is,” Walt quips.
However, Dr. Steadman is less interested in the content of what spewed outta my mouth and rather the context.
“And have you done any of these things over the past two weeks?”
I’m dismissive. “Well, uh, not really…”
The doctor nods and writes a few more things down before leaning over and picking up his prescription pad. Walter has a smug “I told you so” look on his face. I swear, I’m gonna put my favourite Elder in the grave a couple weeks early. I’ll be doing everyone a favour.
“Conor, I’m writing you a prescription for antidepressants. Not a high dose, only a couple of week’s worth. You fit the clinical diagnosis of depression but given your family history, your previous behaviour and what happened to you two weeks ago, losing something very important to you, I’d say you’ve got an adjustment disorder with depressive symptoms.”
“What the hell is that?” I inquire.
“It means you went through something difficult and you’re having a hard time adjusting. Here,” he hands me the prescription. “Take this for a couple weeks and I’m sure you’ll be doing better. They’re SSRIs, low dosage. You strike me as the type of guy who does his homework. Look these meds up, you’ll see. There’s no shame in going on them for a short period.”
I reluctantly snatch the prescription from the doctor, burning a hole through Walter as I do.
“Wow, thank you,” I reply sarcastically. “I love having a physician immediately available for all my arthritis and dementia-riddled needs.”
Continuing to stare at Walter.
“Let’s go, Walt. Thanks, doc.”
… …. … … …
Bottomline, World Championship Match:
Sutler Reynolds-Kael (C) vs. Conor Fuse
August 28, 2021
Similar to an NES blinking blue screen, I blanked out. I can feel a man place his hand on my back and move me upwards. It’s a struggle, I’m such dead weight. My senses return slowly. First, the feeling in my chest and arms. The person who tried to move me upwards realizes it’s impossible so they position me on my back. Next, my sight. From fogginess I eventually see the rafters and the last of the confetti. Oh ya, I won the World Title. Then, the ringing in my ears alleviates. I hear those merciless cries for MORE.
Finally, the pain. It hurts real bad.
“heY, heyy maTT…” I realize referee Matt Boettcher was the one who tried to help me up. My voice is weak so I’m not sure he notices I’m awake. He’s moved towards the edge of the ring, talking with Bryan McVay. “maTT boeTTcher. Hahah, tehehe, that’s fUN to sAY. whOoOoOa, wHat a triPpp I was oNNN.”
This pain is different. It’s not from SRK. My skull is POUNDING and it’s more than clear I was knocked out cold.
I realize… I’ve felt this once before.
How could I forget?
Boettcher converses with McVay. When he turns around, I can immediately see he’s surprised (and relieved) I’m alert. Matt clears things with the ring announcer and comes racing over.
The man doesn’t have to say a word, I’m already hunched over. Resting with my head between my legs, I won’t be getting up for a while, that’s for sure but I have claimed back some sanity.
“He- he’s come back, hasn’t he?” I ask Boettcher. Suddenly, the emptiness I felt upon winning the World Championship subsides. I feel my eyes darting from left to right. I hear the cheers, I know the knee.
I feel euphoric.
“I never thought this day would come,” I start cackling, a huge smile crossing my face. They’ll chalk it up to the concussion but I know better, I know Best.
Head between my knees, I rock back and forth. Closing my eyes, the cheers take me to a far away land. These are the reasons why I play. This IS the reason why it continues after tonight’s victory.
The SON of GOD returns.
And I can’t wait to truly meet Him.