Time Dilation

Time Dilation

Posted on April 23, 2024 at 9:52 am by Christopher America

I feel the pain rain down on my back and my sides.

It feels like a stoning.

But I know what this is.

He explained it to me. He explained it all to me.

I know now that I was wrong to question Lee Best. I had my doubts because of the horrible things that I said about Zach Kostoff and his father, Chris. What I didn’t realize, and Lee helped me understand, was all the pain and trauma that Chris Kostoff put the Best Family through. Chris Kostoff was a psychopath. A walking colossus of a man who took every opportunity to destroy what Lee Best had created. Lee explained how he tried to work with Chris, gave him a job, and even gave his son a job at HOW. And the family ended up using Lee’s kindness to run roughshod throughout his company.

He couldn’t stand for it. He couldn’t risk having Zach Kostoff gain the necessary momentum that could ruin Lee’s company once more.

And that’s why I’m here. Taking all of this in.

What happened with Zach Kostoff couldn’t be allowed to happen again. My victory was just as much a surprise to Zach Kostoff as it was to myself. The fans felt the same way.

I didn’t compete. I escaped.

And if I’m being honest, I don’t know how I did it.

The match flew by in a blur. I barely remember anything from that match.

And this… Lee calls it training. Although, there’s one small problem. I haven’t been given any instruction. I have no idea what to do. The man across from me screamed at me to defend myself. And so I did the only thing that I felt was right. I pulled my arms up, covered myself as much as possible. And I’ve been enduring blow after blow for what feels like hours.

Right now, I feel tears streaming down my face. I’m trying my best to hide it. I’m trying my best to endure the pain but I honestly want to just give up. I want to just be left alone. I want these men that have followed my every move to give me space…

I just want…

I just want…

JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!

I see time slow down.

I could feel my right shoulder and arm absorb the blow. I felt the skin ripple as it tried to withstand the strike. And when I opened my eyes, looking down, with my head protected by my forearms, I saw the other hand … a gloved, closed fist coming.

I could counter this.

I can stop this.

So why am I not moving?

Suddenly, I feel the fist bury itself deep in my stomach.

The air went out of my lungs. My mouth opened, gasping for a fresh dose of air. I lowered my arms out of instinct to protect my stomach.

And then… BAM… nothing.

Just nothing.

The lights in the room went out. The ambient noise went completely silent. And the bones and muscle that held my frame in an upright position slumped to the floor, like a house of cards being knocked down.

When I finally came around, I was laying in a pool of my own sweat, drool, and shame. The lights had been turned off. The sun outside was starting to set. And there, in the corner, was the one who continues to stay by my side: the man in the skull mask. He sat in a corner on the ground, rocking himself back and forth, staring straight at me. With his head slightly lowered, it looked as if he was pissed off at me. Like I had let him down.

No words needed to be said.

The judgment was there.

I averted my gaze like I always do. I can’t stand to look at him. Something about him. Something familiar. Something unnerving. Something evil. I pulled one hand up to my mouth and wiped the drool from my lips. I then flopped onto my back and stared up at the ceiling. I rolled my tongue inside my mouth and winced in pain. I touched my face and felt it… the bulge… the swelling.

It was bad enough that after my match with Zach Kostoff that my face looked awful. A black eye, a bruised cheek, and now, what I assume will be a fat lip.

The lessons alone were tough. Learning how to apply a headlock properly. Learning how to put actual power into my punches. Learning how to throw someone off me. And now learning how to take a punch. To take a kick. And despite all of that. To keep pushing through.

Slowly, I get to my feet and straighten the clothes on myself. I take the walk of shame to the shower with the rusted handles and spouts.

******

America looks at the camera, remorseful.

Christopher America: It doesn’t take long for news to travel. It takes even less time for rumor and innuendo. In the short time since I joined… Joined?… is that the right word? Maybe returned? Whatever. Since I’ve found myself in the locker room of HOW, I sit in silence and listen to the things that people say.

When I listen to them talk about me, when they think I’m out of earshot, I hear them clear as day. The murmurs. The whispers. I hear them laugh at the way I look. Just like them, I can look down and see the loose skin from my stomach protrude over my waist and my shoddy wrestling attire. I see the same unkempt beard in the mirror every morning. I see the withered face. I smell the odor. I share in their disappointment. But most of all, I let them have their fun.

Why wouldn’t I?

America shrugs his shoulders, resigning himself to the situation.

Christopher America: What could I do about it?

I’m apparently only a shade of the man I used to be, if even that.

And as I listen to them talk about me, I grow frustrated. And I grow angry. Not because of the mean things that they’re saying about me. I get upset because they have something I don’t. They have a memory of the man I used to be. They seemingly know what I was capable of. And they know that I’m not that now. I’m not the man I was. And right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever be the man that I was. Hell, I don’t even know if I want to be the man that I was.

And in that way, you and I have a kinship, Brian.

We’re not the men we once were.

You were a World Champion. That’s an incredible feat. Something that I’ve been told time and time again is not an easy thing to accomplish in HOW. And yet, I hear that people don’t respect you for it. Like when they talk about me, I hear them whisper about you. I hear them make fun of you behind your back. Apparently the mid-2010s, I think it is… apparently that time period in HOW suddenly doesn’t matter. That’s it’s… it’s like it’s been stripped away from the canon of a franchise. Lost. Forgotten. Never to be brought up.

But I’m here to tell you that it does matter.

That time… matters.

Because if we lose that time… we lose a part of ourselves.

And you shouldn’t have to.

America pauses, looks down, and his breath shudders.

Christopher America: I know what that’s like. To lose part of ourselves. To lose time that matters. To just plain lose.

I assume that… when you won that title, time slowed down. Watching you be handed a championship… an award… a title… for something you work your entire life for… those are the moments we cherish. You probably clutched it close to your chest. Maybe you kissed it. Wore it with pride. Treated it with the same reverence as every champion before and after it.

And then… to have people tell you that it doesn’t matter… like your work didn’t mean anything… well, it sucks.

You won’t get that same treatment from me.

The sincerity in America’s voice drops as a realization sets in. And sincerity gives way to remorse.

Christopher America: Or maybe you already have.

America furrows his brow and rubs his head, as if trying to remember.

Christopher America: That title that you won. That title that… that I supposedly won. It means a lot. It’s why everyone chases it. They want to see what it’s like to hold it. To grasp, for however long, the meaning that comes with the title. To assume the prestige. To bear the weight. To wear the title of champion.

This match that you and I have, it won’t be for that championship. But it will put one of us one step closer towards getting a shot at it. You want it because that championship is going to prove all those doubters about you wrong. It’ll prove to yourself that you were worthy all those years ago. It’ll shut the mouths of those that spread the rumors and whisper in dark corners.

For me, I need this because I’ve been told that within that championship lies the opportunity to unlock what’s going on up here.

America taps his head with force.

Christopher America: That championship might kickstart a wave of memories that might explain just what the hell happened to me over the last year. It might explain why people know me, but I don’t know them. Why Lee Best put his faith in me. Why he saved me. Why I have this constant nagging feeling that I trust him. I might even find out where the hell I belong. I might find out…

America’s voice trails off as he looks off camera. Although the camera does not move to meet America’s gaze, America stares into the eyes of the skull-faced man before turning back to the camera.

Christopher America: I might find out why I need to be under constant protection.

At Chaos, Brian, I’m not going to be the man that faced Zach Kostoff. I’ve been learning. I’ve been training. And I will… beat… you. Because there is no other route for me. No other choice I have. I must win. Or face punishment again.

*******

I feel the pain rain down on my back and my sides… again.

It hurts worse this time.

He’s aiming for all my bruises.

All my welts.

All my injuries.

He knows that’s what Hollywood would do.

It’s what anyone would do.

Am I really that important?

Does a win over me mean truly mean something? Beyond the next step towards some championship, am I that important?

How does anyone do this? How does anyone endure this kind of pain? I look at John Sektor, Steve Solex, Mike Best, Drew Mitchell, Bobbinette Carey, Lexi Gold… and yes, Brian Hollywood and I see athletes that could walk away from this unscathed.

And then there’s me.

Here I am.

I struggle so much.

It all just hurts so much and I just want it to end.

I just WANT IT TO END!

I see time slow down.

I could feel my right shoulder and arm absorb the blow. I felt the skin ripple as it tried to withstand the strike. And when I opened my eyes, looking down, with my head protected by my forearms, I saw the other hand… a gloved, closed fist coming.

I could counter this.

And this time… I do. As if by some other force, my hand catches the gloved fist with my right hand. In a flash, I pull it farther out to my right, looking at the fist in shock. Unknowingly, I am twisting my opponent’s arm.

He’s off balance.

More importantly though… he’s open.

Wide open.

My head lurches forward as I bury my forehead into his nose. I hear that smack. I see the blood begin to drip. I turn to finally look my opponent in the eye. He holds his nose and cries out in pain. He backs off and the man in the skull mask quickly gets to his feet, as if in shock himself. My opponent squints through the pain and looks at me. I look back with a mixture of bewilderment and confusion.

Time, for me, resumes as normal.

Slowly, my opponent pulls his hand down. He catches a towel thrown at him and puts it to his nose. He extends his other hand and forms a fist. He holds out to me as if expecting me to do something. I mimic his pose and my opponent walks towards me and taps my fist. The man then nods and turns to walk out of the room.

Left alone with the man in the skull mask, I look down at my hands wondering where the hell that came from.