You Don’t Belong Here

You Don’t Belong Here

Posted on March 24, 2022 at 2:37 pm by Darin Zion

There is a chill running up and down my spine as his voice…my voice echoes through my ear drums.  Goosebumps crawl up from my skin every time he strolls by my bonded body.  Every time I struggle to free myself, he smashes his heavy, golden ring into my jawline. I still feel the pain surging through my entire body.  It leaves his trademark signet imprinted on my face. His frigid, demonic eyes glare a hole right through my soul.  Cracking his knuckles, the ruthless villain leans down straight down.  He grabs a handful of my brunette locks with brute force.  Bringing my face towards his, a fiendish sneer forms on Darin Adam Zion’s face.  The color begins to drain out of my face while his calculated words cause me to quake.

“HA!  HA!  HA!  HA!  I’m so glad our paths finally crossed.  For a brief second, you thought your little ragtag alliance with Xander could succeed.  Color me impressed!  You thought you stood a genuine chance against the Shark.  It’s a shame you made all Zions look pitiful with your fruitless resistance.  Bravo!  It’s the most Zion thing you’ve done in your pathetic life.”

Jamming his fist full force into chops again, snot flies out of my nose into the sky. The cracking sound reverberates off the vast, towering walls in Darin Adam Zion’s office. The haze in my eyes prevented me from seeing any more details around me.  Pacing back and forth, he rambles on like an incessant lunatic.

“It’s the boldest move you’ve made in the last three years.  I must admit, I never thought you had it in ya!  A killer instinct never arose from any of your kind.  It’s all about kissing everyone’s ass and making friends.  Gotta respect every worthless life you meet.  HA!  I’m shocked HOW hardened that soft heart of yours.  Still no matter what you did to foil us; everything’s still going to plan.”

While he continues with his monologue, a perplexed look appears on my face. The Contrasting Clone of myself scratches his robust, black beard.  Taking a moment to tap his fingers together, he ponders his thoughts.  A lightbulb triggers in that delirious brain of his.  Slapping his forehead, he yammers on with his speech.

“Oh, right!  I’m sorry, forgot for a moment I wiped your memories and replaced them with my own.  DUH!  STUPID DARIN, STUPID!  He has no idea…”

A twinkle fills the void in his eyes before he turns himself around out of my sight.  Murmuring under his breath in a high shrill, he dialogs with himself.  I can make out his faint words.

“Go ahead!  You should tell him everything!  It’s not like you’ll let this pissant survive the experience.  It’s the kindest gesture you could give this dead kid.”

Collecting and composing himself, the replicant version of me trots back over to my chair.  He kneels down beside me with a smug look on his face.

“It’s funny how you almost ruined a brilliant plan I hatched five years ago.  I cannot allow you to let the cat out of the bag.  Everything you’ve accomplished has the fans and the wrestlers eating out of the palm of your hands.  No one’s suspected a thing since…well, you came back to HOW. You’ve done an excellent job at garnering sympathy out of everyone who connects to you.  It’s unfortunate you don’t belong here.”

My eyes widened at this news.  Struggling with all my might, I flail around trying to escape, but my attempts are in vain. I cannot escape the clutches of Darin Adam Zion and his henchmen.  Snapping his fingers, his two daunting henchmen walk forward.  Shaking his hands, he signals for them to dispose of me.

“Fred…Ted…dispose of our guest…”

He pauses for a moment to cock his fist back.  Aiming for my nose, the CFO impersonator readies his next blow. His deadpan, vacant expression tells me everything I need to know.  It almost gives him a sense of pleasure to share his scheme.

“You Son of a Bitch, I’m taking back what’s mine.  You STOLE MY UNIVERSE from me!”

WHAM!

==========

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

1:42 AM

Crown Point, Indiana

Casa Del Zion

Shooting up from my bed, I awakened drenched in a cold sweat.  I can’t help but rub my jaw as an intense pain explodes from my chin.  Thank God I didn’t wake up Meredith who was snuggled beside me!

Everything that happened still seems vivid.  Finally, after a few weeks, I pieced the puzzle together.  All the sleepless nights, endless stomach pains, ceaseless nightmares, and monotonous reflections connected.  Tonight, everything came into perspective.

Wiggling out of the sheets, I meander to our master bedroom to splash some water in my face. As I gaze upon my reflection, I couldn’t help feeling like I am living a lie. A deep sigh expels itself from my lungs as my sides shake.  I didn’t dare awake Meredith with this revelation; she couldn’t know.  I vowed to Aeon I wouldn’t divulge anything about my multiverse excursions.

The weight of the world lays into my shoulders causing pressure to build in my chest. The room began to spin around me with reality crashing down into my thick skull.   Every bit of lore I believed the last three years is fake. My fists shake with intense duress while my tongue tied itself against the roof of my mouth.  Acceptance is hard to realize when facing adversity. Lord only knows with my Maurako Cup loss and my upcoming match with Jatt; I didn’t need any more trauma. But here I stood at my mirror, grappling with a truth that lay dormant for years.   Mustering up all the courage from within, I stagger through the four most painful words I must utter. I speak to them with a slow, awkward cadence.  But it helped bring reality into focus.

“I AM A VARIANT!”

==========

Sunday, March 20th, 2022

8:55 AM

Chicago, Illinois

Firecakes Donuts

Seven days remain until the battle of my lifetime.  I’ve anxiously counted the days down until my No Holds Barred match against Hall of Famer Jatt Starr.  The task feels more overwhelming than usual.  No longer can I rely on my so-called credentials.  GOD only knows if I accomplished those same feats of glory in my universe.  Gone are War Games accolades, various championships, and experiences I knew.  I can’t lean on that false sense of accomplishment.  They’ve become fabrications and lies.  This universe’s Zion left me a jumbled mess.

Now isn’t a good time to face an essential crisis! 

Facing Captain Jatt Sparrow at March 2 Glory now seems like a taller order to me. I’m up against one of HOW’s best Hall of Famers. Every time I stood toe to toe with Simon, the man had my number. Lee specifically recruited Starr and Sektor to end my HOW Tag Team Title run.  Like good minions, they followed their marching orders and achieved their mission. To my knowledge, I haven’t beaten Simon in any dimension including my own.  Some cruel bastard locked those memories up in my head.

Maybe I stood a chance with that recent momentum I secured…

All I knew in this moment; an escape is crucial to prepare for War Games.  Sir Simon Sparrow can smell the blood in the water.  Most wrestlers catch on to my insecure emotional state.  In the fight of your life, it’s dangerous to doubt oneself.  Only one person could help clear my mind.

“DUDE!  Thank you for taking me out for donuts!  I’m glad you didn’t forget about our newfound friendship after the Maurako Cup.”

The oblivious tone in Xander’s voice made my shoulders tense up.  My eyes darted towards the ground as he scarfs down his first glazed donut with ease. I, in contrast, cannot bring myself to eat the first chocolate cake donut I purchased.  Looking at food makes my stomach sick. The only thing I can do is spin my donut like a record in my hands. A morose demeanor forms across my face while Xander couldn’t contain his excitement.

“These are the best DONUTS I’ve ever tasted!  Man, you have good taste in food.”  He exclaims as the sugar rush conquers him. 

Xander fidgets around while I finally rally enough energy to fix my gaze upon my donut. “Yeah, I lived near Chicago my whole life.  These are the kind of things I know…” I respond with a monotone inflection in my voice. I expound a loud groan before taking my first bite of food.

After a quick double take, Xander starts gauging my disposition.  The annoying shithead tries to permeate through my force field of melancholy. His pleasant tone rattles through my thick skull, shaking me.  “Michael Oliver Best booked you against Jatt at March 2 Glory.   Under normal circumstances; you’re jumping for joy over a Pay-Per-View payday.  I’ve seen you leaping and squealing through the locker room any time you can fight on the big shows.  It’s your time to shine!  Why so glum, chum?!”

Visions of Aeon’s mission for me swirl around my head.  For a few seconds, I freeze up.  After careful consideration, I shirk off his attempt to cheer me up.  “I don’t want to talk about it…”

 Azula’s eyes broaden as he slams his fist down on the counter in front of me.  “Cut out the bullshit!  I’m not Brian Hollywood and I’m not going to use this information against you. I’ve stepped in that ring with Jatt…errrr…Simon before and he’s one tough wrestler.  I wanna help you out, buddy.  I can’t stand seeing you flustered during the biggest break of your HOW career.”

My eyeballs sink to the floor because my heart knows I can’t tell him.  I’d need to report myself to Aeon.  Everything I spent the last three years achieving goes out the window if he knows.  Sweat drenches my forehead while I mull over the decision.  Coping with my happenstance, I sputter out my words in a hush.

“I’m-I’m-I’m…a variant.”

I see Xander’s ears erect while cupping his hands.  His voice bellows out while he asks me to repeat myself.  “WHAT?  Couldn’t hear you buddy!”

Grasping the collar to his shirt, I pull him closer roaring out:

“I’M A FUCKING VARIANT!  Quiet down before Aeon comes to wrangle me up and eliminate me.”

Xander’s now in a conundrum.  A frantic, frenzied gaze replaces his looks of elation.  Devastated with the news, he scratches his beard.  While I continue to bellyache about my problems, he listens with intent.  The panic in my voice rushes me to speak in rapid succession.  “I jumped in head first like usual and screwed up.  Everything I knew two weeks ago has now changed.  I don’t belong here and it’s showing and…”

Wasting no time, Xander clenches my lips shut.   Raising his finger at me, he attracts my attention.  I close my eyes and hone into his riveting words. “Don’t worry, old friend.  I’ve got a solution.”

Releasing my mouth, he fumbles around into his pockets to extract his portal gun.  Jamming a myriad of buttons, Azula slams his device against my chest.  In the most serious tone, he explains his idea.  “Hit the button when you’re ready.  It’ll take you to the Oracle, Iris’ right-hand person.  The answers you seek will help you defeat Jatt.”

I contest with him, “But—but…”

“Shut up and trust me on this one, Zion.  I know you think you’ve got the solution to everything; The Oracle will bring things into perspective.  Go now before Aeon discovers the truth.  It’ll change your life.”

After finishing his breakfast, Xander scrambles out the door.  He left me alone with his portal gun.  My heart races at a rapid rate.  Tinkering around with the device, I glaze everything over once.  While I regret divulging that information, something in me drew me to his answer. I ascend from my chair to search for a more private place to make the jump.

==========

Somewhere in the Great Chasm Between Universes…

Stars shimmer all over the navy-blue walls of the chamber I’ve entered.  The mammoth concrete pillars bring tears to my eyes.  Everywhere I look, murals of multiverse battles fill the walls.  My jaw drops in awe as I fall to my knees.  I call out with a sense of urgency.  My eyes fixate on a glowing, white, circular obelisk in the center of a main wall.

“ORACLE?!  Oh Lord Oracle, right hand of Iris; hear my cries for help!”

My head snaps around the room, but nothing happens.  My hands quiver while I raise them, offering up my invocations to the Grand Being.  “PLEASE!  PLEEEEEEASE!  I’m begging you, Oracle, I’m NOTHING without your help.

Still silence!  No grandiose light shows!  no clamorous banging sounds!  No cantankerous explosions fill the void. Tears flow from my eyelids while I appeal to Xander’s companion.  “Come on!  I haven’t got a leg to stand on against Sir Simon Jatthew Sparrow of the Starrs.  Whatever the fuck his name is!  I seek answers to vanquishing this thorn in my side.  I implore you to have a heart for me, Great Oracle.”

“Calm down, my child.”  A tin, acoustical, mechanical voice reverberates from the rafters.  “You knoweth the answers you seek.”

I do a double-take around the premises, but still witness nothing.  I’m astonished once this Greater Being appears from out of the monument in front of me.  “Jatt FUCKING Starr?!”

“I’m the Oracle, not your rival, young Zion.  I take on the appearance of the person or thing troubling my visitors.”  The Oracle reassures me before taking a quick moment to size me up.  “Interesting, I’ve never seen a Nexus Being in my presence.”

Confusion takes hold of my face while my brows raise.  “Nexus???”  I question before the Oracle interrupts me mid-question.

“Someone who accomplishes the same feats in many universes.  You’re a person that transcends the laws of the Multiverse.  Each of your variants looks similar in style.  It’s an anomaly I’ve rarely contacted in the eons I’ve existed.  But I suppose your self-confidence isn’t the true answer you seek.” He barks out, while sailing across to me.  His hands fold at his sides with intent.  Turning his head towards me, he listens into trouble.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I ogle the Oracle’s long, golden robes before he dawns a golden mask.  He gestures with his hand for me to persist with my story.  After shaking my head, I chat with the ominous entity standing in front of me.

“Never had someone read me like a book.  But I don’t think you need me rambling on about my wonderment of your existence.  I guess I let my emotions cloud my judgment in my upcoming match with Jatt Starr. There’s a lot to take in about this whole multiversal plight of mine.”

The eyeholes of his mask squint to hint his annoyance.  My eyes roll away from him while I carry on with my turmoil.

“Usually, I rely heavily on my brash combat style.  Often, I let my emotions guide me in my wrestling matches.  It’s that passion and dedication to my craft that fuels me.  Punch first, ask questions later.  I don’t take time to calculate and plot a methodical match.  Now I stand against a Hall of Famer whose charisma outmatches mine.  His quick-witted quips agitate me constantly.   My anger blinds me frequently.  I can’t do that against a man of Simon’s nature.  His calculated efforts deliver him constant wins against me.  I’ve busted my ass for hours honing my craft.  I’ve spent years in MVW, winning titles, evolving, but yielding no results.  I’m tired of reaping the consequences of my losses.  It cost me against that jackass Steve Harrison.  I’ve won almost all my matches in 2022.  Now it’s time to take my strategy to the next level.  But I stand in my own way over analyzing this misfortune.  I didn’t plan on hurting Conor’s idol.  Everything happened so fast.  I need a new strategy in handling this.”

The Oracle’s hands raise up into the air.  In a sudden flash, a videotape appears in his hands.  He extends his hands out to me at a moderate, easy pace. My hands flicker while reaching out for his gift.  His feedback came in the form of a vague idea.  “Your heart stands in your way.  Reveal the truth to the light.”

“But—I don’t want the limelight on my good deeds.  I don’t do them for recognition…” I squabble with the right hand of Iris.  “I don’t want…”

He cuts me off without haste.  “You MUST do it or suffer the ramifications.  If you’re tired of people wiping their feet on you…stand up for yourself.  Establish your brand and own your own definition of yourself.  Otherwise, others will continue to treat you like a doormat.”  The person vanishes back into the light, leaving me alone in the hall.

Gulping at what transpired, I clinched the tape close to my chest. Before pressing buttons on the portal device, I mutter these words under my breath.

“I know what I have to do now.”

==========

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

12:00 PM

Chicago, Illinois

Best Arena Backstage Hallway

Rushing down the corridors towards the locker rooms, my breathing becomes heavy. Droplets of perspiration soak my HOW training shirt.  I’ve spent all morning in the ring for a Pre-March 2 Glory training session.  You can see the exhaustion layered all over my face. Now with a few moments of free time before lunch, I bolt down the hallways without a care in the world.

“MUST…GET…TAPE…TO…JATT!”  My tongue stumbles and struggles to murmur those words to myself.

Rounding the corner to Jatt’s locker room, I collide with a pale, chiseled body.  Immediately I tumble straight to the ground.   My voice raises in a frantic, fearful tone.  “I’M SORRY!  I’M SORRY!  I’M SO SORRY!!!”

The familiar voice consoles me and lifts my ears with glee.  “ZION!  LET’S GO BUDDY!  It seems like forever since we’ve gamed together, brother!”

It’s HOW World Champion and my dear old friend Conor Fuse!

As he hoists me up from the floor, I pull him in for a brief hug before discussing my business here.  “Look, I’m in a hurry.  They’ve got Giordano’s Pizza in catering, my favorite pizza.  Plus, I damn well gathered Simon doesn’t want me around his locker room. I don’t want to get in the middle of this situation, but I need a huge favor.”

A deadpan expression forms on Conor’s face.  He conveys his point in a robotic tone.  “YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS FOR A FAVOR, BOT.”

Then he breaks character. “Bahahah just kidding, Zi-Guy.  You should see the look on your face.  We’re cool dude, we’re cool.”

An angered contortion swirls across my eyes while I tap my toes.  My hands uncross from around my chest while I shake my head.  “Not now!  I want to resolve this situation between Jatt and I, man.  I don’t have time for jokes.  I need him to watch this before he steps into the ring with me.

A skeptical front appears on Conor’s face.  With the conflict between his AoA buddy and myself, I understand his position.  He doesn’t want to catch himself up with any drama.  I plea with my friend and mentor.  “Please, buddy.  My word’s good and I wouldn’t lie to you.  I wouldn’t put you in the middle of a war of mind games.  I can’t in good conscience let this squabble ruin a potential relationship with Jatt.  We’re nearing the point of no return in this feud.  I want this to end at March 2 Glory.  If he doesn’t see it, we’ll battle until one of us ends the other’s career.  And you damn well know I don’t want that.”

Conor observes the look of intensity burning from my eyes.  I lock my gaze directly to his pupils.  “Please?!  If you want us to work things out…it’s crucial you do this responsibility for me, friend.”

The doubt melts away from Conor’s face.  Extending his arm out, we both do our secret handshake.  I pull out the envelope containing the tape from my satchel.  “Listen man, we’re all gonna have problems with each other from time to time.  I get it.  I’m not getting in the way.  I’ll speak to Simon, I’ll speak to you.  But don’t go trolling me, either.  We gotta keep it real!  You owe me a mimosa for this… or maybe some Giordano’s Pizza.  That shit is yum.”

“Sans the alcohol, for sure, man!”  I exclaim before pounding it with my brother from another mother.  Both of us embrace before I leave.  While I turn the corner, I pray Simon listens with an open mind.  Otherwise, I’m poking the proverbial bear.

==========

“I hope this tape finds you Jatt Sparrow. Simon Starr. Jatthew Lord of Botches; whatever the fuck you want us to call you this week! I can’t keep your shit straight anymore!

I’ve got first-hand experience with the consequences of pride.  For the past few years, it’s sunk its devastating claws into my career.  It’s burned more of my opportunities than I can count on two hands.  I hope and pray this video finds you.  Because God knows you need a dose of reality before you step into an HOW ring with me.  It’s not that I’m better than you.  Everyone knows you’ve accomplished more in your HOW career than I have at this point.  It’s why Lee inducted you into the Hall of Fame.  And I recognize my time hasn’t yet come.

I didn’t want this feud to escalate the way it has.  It’s funny, I haven’t admitted to this fact in public.  But Conor and I are a lot alike.  Without Jatt Starr, Darin Zion’s HOW career wouldn’t exist.  While Conor represents your pure motives; you damn well know which side I represent.  I share your gift of gloating and ruthlessness.  I’m an unrelenting force when I damn well want something.  Selfishly, I’ve begged for championship matches over the past six months like a spoiled brat.  I refused to put in the work like a spoiled brat because I felt like the world owed me one.  Like every wrestler, I’ve dreamed of holding singles gold more than seeking humility.  Out of the entire roster, you should understand me.  I’ve got that chip on my shoulder with everything to prove, like you did.  You came back with it and won more Tag Team and LSD gold.  But that didn’t satisfy you.  You felt the need to issue slanderous comments to define who I am to the HOW roster.  Over the course of two years, you chipped away all the effort I put into HOW.

You’ve insulted me, bullied me, levied false accusations; whatever it took to ruin my career.  If it meant your Starr shines brighter; you did it.

I’ve grown tired of countless Hall of Famers trying to gaslight and define MY LEGACY in HOW.  It’s why I grow weary with your incessant clamoring.   It’s why I struggle with swallowing my pride because every time I did; I bend the knee.  I gave miles of goodwill and kind-gestures to every Hall of Famer any time I stepped on their toes.  They buried me in the depths of purgatory after I sacrificed and made myself vulnerable.  No matter what I did, I carried that guilt from the hurt I caused.  I even let it define my second coming in HOW.

But no, my sins outweigh everyone else’s. I’m always the one to blame for all the problems.  I must carry the burden on my back to prove I’m worth it, even though I’ve won my share of HOW gold.  Even if I put in the work, it’s never adequate.  Everyone calls me a lazy, good for nothing sloth.  I let it all fester up inside me for too long and things like this bullshit happens.

Well, it’s time to bring it all to the light.

Whether you choose to watch this video or not, it still airs on HOTV for the entire world to see your foolishness.  I promised the world you’d see a different Zion come March 2 Glory.  And I’m a man of my word.  What you choose to do with this tape, Jatt, is up to you.  You can smash it against the ground, press play; I don’t care anymore.

But come March 2 Glory, I’m going to teach you, a decades long veteran, about a lesson in respect in this business. I won’t allow you to do what the other Hall of Famers have done to me.  It’s time I stand up for myself and my boundaries.  I’ve grown exhausted from letting others step all over me.  I’ve got to earn my opportunities and man up.

The question now is; do you want to embark on that journey with me? Do you really want to see what I’m capable of in my own element; a No Holds Barred Match.  Because I’m about to yank at those fragile heartstrings, Jatt.  I’m about to rip apart that delicate ego of yours like no one else will.

In my eight-year career, I’ve learned a thing or two from my opponents.  You can thank my archnemesis the late Max Kael for this one.  The choice is yours, Jatt.  Do you watch on and accept the truth?  Or do I have to beat it into that thick skull of yours.  The choice you decide will define you.  What will you do?

[Press PLAY to continue]