During Cancer vs. Dresden
The moment that Eli Dresden drove the back of Cancer Jiles’ neck into the canvas, she knew she had him.
Of course, she wasn’t about to risk not making damn sure of that fact–even if he was such a slimeball that it was a wonder her arm didn’t just slip right off him, he was also a former HOW World Champion. Not only that, but he was capable of absorbing one Hell of a lot of punishment and kicking out after. Even as she felt she was moving in slow motion with her impatience howling in the back of her mind, Eli hauled her opponent over to the turnbuckle, the GDI that followed as smooth as silk… and as she hooked the leg?
She anticipated the coming relief with baited breath even as she remained at the ready in case this wasn’t enough.
Cancer remained prone, still–was he resigned to his fate, or would he deny her at the very last possible second?
The entire world went silent, time standing still as Eli’s head broke the surface of the molasses-thick quagmire that seemingly slowed every movement of her life down to an unbearable crawl.v For a moment, the world fell away–the aches and pains that plagued her every moment, the feeling of Cancer Jiles’ still form beneath her chest, the sound of the fans cheering her victory over the former HOW World Champion.
For a moment, she could breathe again, enjoy the push and pull of air freely entering and leaving her lungs.
For a moment, everything was right in the world, giving her room to reach for what she always did in those token moments of calm.
She reached for him.
Her laughter carried on the wind, intermingling with her brother’s own.
The sun was warm on her shoulders as she stood on the pegs sticking out of the rear axle of Isaiah’s mountain bike, her hands on his shoulders as they flew down Route 428’s big hill like a Bat out of Hell. She knew they’d have to walk all the way back up the damned thing, but that didn’t matter. Neither did the scrapes on her knees that she knew she’d catch Hell for. Regionals were in a week, her mother would scold her. What would the judges think? That was something to worry about later.
For now, it was just Eliza and Isaiah Dresden enjoying the afternoon… and that was enough.
…but then reality came rushing back in.
Eli’s ears rang for a moment as if her hearing was returning after her eardrums were blown out, blue eyes blinking a couple of times to bring her back to the present. The urge to make some sort of smartassed remark in Cancer’s direction–something about how he’d actually used all three seconds he had to give to make a woman happy for once–was discarded as she got to her feet. Exuberance insulated that feeling of release as she celebrated her way up the ramp, slapping hands as she went to spread that feeling of goodness, of warmth that she was bound and determined to ride out for as long as she could.
The fact that the feeling was gone the moment she vanished behind the curtain was one Eliza Dresden pointedly ignored. She wasn’t ready to face the fact that this, too, was growing less potent.
She wasn’t ready to face it.
…she wasn’t ready to face a lot of things,
Well well well… if it ain’t Eris’ most disappointing disciple.
How’s the whole religious zealot thing treatin’ you these days, Xander?
Can’t be that well if you’ve been losin’ your ass off as hard as I was before I GDI-ed Cancer Jiles’ head in.
Of course, you’re not gonna admit that your schtick isn’t doin’ what it’s supposed to do. That’d be admittin’ that it was a lie all along, and we can’t have that, now can we? No, there’s only one way to keep the delusion that is your religion going; you have to keep adding to it and adding to it while hopin’ like Hell that it doesn’t collapse beneath its own weight. Movin’ the goalposts is how you keep the game afoot.
Ain’t it a shame that I’m not willin’ to move shit for you to keep you from losin’ to me again?
We’ve been over this, Xander. I’m closer to Eris than any vision could ever give you, than any trip on mushrooms or bath salts could bring you–than any cartoonish failure could bring you. That hasn’t changed just because you’ve reached a whole new level of delusion. Actually, come to think of it. I’m almost offended that you thought some other woman would make for a suitable vessel for your goddess since we both know I’m your only real option–but then I thought about it and realized that it proved how shallow your devotion really is. If you actually believed in her, after all, then you would’ve gone for the most suiting vessel possible no matter the risk to yourself. But did you do that?
Of fuckin’ course not.
Instead, you went for the path of least resistance. You tried to line up Darin Zion’s manager because you knew she wouldn’t be able to kick your ass the way I did the last time we were in a ring together.
What kind of bullshit offering is that?
“I’m sorry, O Goddess of Discord, but I’m too much of a pussy to get you a vessel that is truly worthy of you, so take this rando named Meredith instead.”
And then you wonder why no one’s taken you up on joinin’ your cult. You put
…well, there is one other explanation, though I don’t think you’ve smart enough for it. But you know what? I’m feelin’ generous today so, just this once, I’m gonna believe in you. Try not to regret it too much… oh who the fuck am I kidding? You’re gonna regret the fuck out of anything I do, so let’s get on with it.
Ready, Xander, for what I am temporarily believing you to be capable of?
Here it comes.
You know you’re full of shit just the same as I do.
You’re fully aware that you’re surrounded by deluded idiots that are incapable of noticin’ the plethora of warnin’ signs that the un-indoctrinated can see from miles away. You’re not a part of the pyramid scheme–you’re one of the son of a bitches that built it. The robes and chotchkies? Investments in completing the image for the gullible bodies you need to fill the ranks. You’re the con man playin’ three card monte with anyone that you think you can make a quick proverbial buck off of. It’s a classic formula, one that many a “cult” leader has used to amass money and influence and, like, a lot of wives.
It’s also an easy way to fuck with your opponent when you need to put a little fear in’em and you can’t do it by being a threat in the ring.
I know the “in” thing is to dunk on Darin Zion for bein’ a dumbass, but there’s nothin’ to insult about how he feels about Meredith. She’s an obvious weakness, and you went for it full bore because she can’t defend herself the way he can–the way I can. But you didn’t count on her importance to him bein’ able to motivate him to throw your ass out of that guard tower, now did you?
…and come to think of it, that’s how I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you’re a fraud.
Real belief means going to the ends of the Earth in the pursuit of who or what you believe in. Real belief means putting that person or thing first no matter the risk to yourself or anyone around you even if it only means three seconds of Heaven. Real belief means makin’ actual sacrifices, not just cartoonish parodies of what you think they should be because it looks good and strokes your ego just so since Eris knows nobody’s willin’ to stroke you anywhere else.
So now that I’m done wastin’ my belief in you, which is more likely–are you the blind believer, or are you the charlatan pullin’ at the puppet strings?
Either way, there’s no way you’re gonna come out of this match lookin’ good.
The only way you’re gonna be lookin’ is up at the lights as I get that three count and I get what I believe in. Ain’t it convenient that the closest thing to a temple that I’ve got is the ring? And considerin’ how I believe… no. I know how this is gonna end. You’re gonna swing, you’re gonna miss, you’re gonna eat a GDI, and you’re gonna lose… and more importantly?
You’re gonna be exposed for the charlatan you are all over again, continuin’ to fall short of the goal posts no matter how you desperately try to move’em in the hopes of makin’ it.
Now get the fuck out of my temple, you sack of shit. You’re takin’ up a space that oughta belong to a true believer.