April 01, 2020, 04:56:25 PM

Author Topic: The Thing You Hate  (Read 128 times)

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Offline Elijah Carlson

The Thing You Hate
« on: February 04, 2020, 07:39:47 PM »
A single lamp at street side illuminates a mailbox with the name Carlson etched into the side of it. For a moment the world seems to hesitate and hang on that single snapshot in time before finally shifting, the view following a long driveway up toward an empty garage. Parked a few feet outside of the garage is a black SUV. Inside of the garage the silhouette of a trim individual maneuvers around with ease. A steel cylinder rattles across the concrete floor and the legs of a table reverberate in similar fashion a moment later. Slowly, the world draws closer to the individual who hasn’t seemed to take notice of the presence of those who were watching, simply going about his business.

Footsteps echo off of the pavement of the driveway, eventually causing the figure in the garage to pause and look upward just as he comes into focus. With a warm smile, Elijah Carlson extends his arms outward in a welcoming gesture before waving his right hand, inviting the outside world into his life once more. With each step the objects scattered around the garage become more clear. On top of the table are a few t-shirts folded neatly, stacked on top of each other and seemingly waiting to be used. The shining silver of a steel garbage can sits a few feet away from the edge of the table, and a few feet further beyond that is a red can with a warning sticker on the side indicating that the contents held within were flammable.

Wordlessly, Eli maneuvered through his garage, stepping to the otherside of the table and retrieving a few more t-shirts, his hands working to fold them neatly and set them in a stack beside the first set. As he does so, a glimpse of the word “mayhem” can be caught by those who were perceptive enough, hinting at their purpose just for a brief moment in time.

“You hate to see it.”

Clearing his throat, Eli finished setting the stack of t-shirts down and allowed his hands to rest on top of the most recently folded set.

“After all that we went through at Winter Wasteland, Chris, you really hate to see it.”

Softly, Eli’s tongue flicks out to moisten his lips, a heavy sigh causing his shoulders to rise and then fall in an exaggerated manner.

“It’s true, I don’t believe that you are on the same level as me in the ring. We’ve gone toe to toe twice now and both times I’ve left victorious. Yeah, you put up a good fight, sure. Everyone in this company puts up good fights when they get into that ring. Some of us manage to push ourselves to greater heights while others bask in moral victories. And I never thought you to be a man who basked in moral victories, Chris. But Then again, we’ve all been learning a lot about who you really are lately, you know?”

Softly, his fingers traced over the fabric of the stack of t-shirts his hands had been resting on. He takes a moment to let that thought sink in, a soft, gentle quiet filling the space that the voice of the North American champion had occupied a few moments before.

“You know, I offered you the chance to move on from what I knew was going to be a heartbreaking loss for you with some semblance of grace. I knew it was going to hurt, deeply, to have given all of yourself at Winter Wasteland only to come up short. But my, oh my, I look at you now and all I can do is wonder what it must feel like to have become the thing that you hated for so long? Chris Madison, just your every day, working class, take your lunch pail to work type of guy. Blue collar to the core, or so you would have had us all believe. I gave you more than you deserved that night, Chris. I gave you the chance to walk away with your head held high..”

His words hung on the air for a moment before he clicked his tongue, balling up one of the recently folded t-shirts before he tossed it into the steel garbage can half a second later. As it hit the edge of the can it unfolded slightly, and again for a moment there seemed to be a glimpse of a familiar face. Was it the man that he was speaking on currently? It certainly appeared to be.

“And then I watched as you crumbled afterward. I watched as your emotions got the best of you, and I shrugged it off because I understand what it means to go through the grieving process after coming up short in a match that means so much to a person. I held my tongue and I let you get all of that childishness out, or so I thought, because I understood and beyond that I was certain, deep down, of the kind of man you were. But I never stopped watching, Chris. Because I’m not the sort of man who is going to sit back and be blindsided by someone showing their true colors. And what do you know, in Newark, New Jersey you did exactly that. You showed the world that the Chris Madison who once set the standard in this company. The Chris Madison earned Hall of Fame accolades, that man is dead and gone. I can only imagine that it’s heartbreak and disappointment over the past few years that has built up to this. But imagine my shock when I was sitting backstage watching you become the thing you hated most.”

This time Eli’s fingers deftly work at unfolding the next shirt and there can be no mistaking whose face is front and center. It’s undoubtedly Chris Madison’s face, this t-shirt being one of the ones that had circulated during the culmination of his unbeaten run in 4CW.

“Imagine my shock when the Chris Madison of Two Thousand and Twenty became the spitting image of Jett Wilder Two Thousand and Sixteen. I remember the outrage. I remember the furor. I remember how indignant you were that someone would have the audacity to imply that your victory over him was unfairly officiated. And yet there you were, at Adrenaline One-Oh-Nine implying the very same. Go back and watch that footage, you said. Chris, I can tell you what that footage shows. It will show that, in spite of you becoming so very much like him, there’s still one thing that separates you.”

Leaving the Chris Madison shirt unfolded for those who were watching to see, Eli took a step to the side to the first stack of t-shirts that had been resting on the table all along. In similar fashion to the last, Eli unfolded this one with ease. On it was the bright, smiling face of none other than Jett Wilder with the letters F.A.G. inscribed beneath his face. Truly, it’s one of the most ridiculous nicknames that has every been associated with a competitor in the professional wrestling industry but even so, everyone knew what those letters stood for.

“Jett Wilder, the Future Amazing Great. The man Chris Madison in all of his chameleon-esque glory has suddenly chosen to embody. Except for the fact that the future of Chris Madison is littered in the past of this business and this company. The days of the fans looking at him and being amazed by anything he does inside of MY wrestling ring are gone. No longer does anyone look at Chris Madison and the imagery that comes to their minds being one of greatness. No, Chris. You’ve become a shell of your former self. You don’t have that next gear that you had at one point in time and in your desperation you’ve reduced yourself to the thing that you loathed for so very long. Jett Wilder spent months ridiculing you. He spent months shitting on everything you had achieved and you sat back and took it. I guess it was at that point that we all should have seen what you would eventually become. We all should have seen how spineless you truly were. I’ll give you that one, Mayhem, you’ve had a lot of us fooled for a while.”

Reaching over to the second stack, Eli balled up the shirt featuring Chris Madison’s face and tossed it into the garbage can, watching as it disappeared down into the steel cylinder along with the first one he had thrown.

“But it’s fine, because once more we get to see the distinction between you and I. We get to see exactly where the line in the sand is drawn. Unlike you, Chris, I’m not going to just sit back and let my name, and my accomplishments, be dragged through the mud by the likes of you. I’m not going to hide in Frontier Grappling Arts playing with a roster filled with spinal stenosis and whores giving blowjobs in alleyways for attention. No, I’ll be standing right in that ring in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Adrenaline One-Eleven. And you’ll have to do the same thing you’ve had to do twice now. The same thing you had to do at Adrenaline Ninety-Seven. The same thing you had to do at Winter Wasteland just a few weeks back. You’ll have to look me in the eye and figure out a way to beat me. And you know that footage you told Wallace to go back and watch, you know what that footage will show you, Chris?”

Grabbing the remaining t-shirts from both stacks off of the table, Eli tossed them all into the steel garbage can, his eyes quickly shifting to focus on the viewing audience and, more specifically, his opponent.

“It will show you that what I said all the way back in that build up to our first match is the truth. That deep down, at the core of who you are. The essence of Chris Madison is fraudulent. You’re a man who makes promises and then promptly turns around and breaks them. It will show you that in spite of all of the gusto. In spite of punching a middle aged fat man in the head because you can’t help but throw a temper tantrum like a toddler with a shit filled pull up, your best isn’t good enough. Not against me. Sixty minutes in the ring with me was supposed to be what gave you the edge you needed. You swore by it. You swore by the fact that you were going to put me through the ringer and at the end of the day I wouldn’t be able to keep up. But the footage shows, in spite of your protests, that for sixty minutes and beyond there wasn’t a moment in time where I was down on the scorecard. And at the end of the day it was I who had the stamina. It was I who wouldn’t stay down. It was my name that Powers was shouting from the heavens. Everything you swore you would be, you had to sit back and watch as I embodied it, and there was nothing that you could do about it. Just like there will be nothing you can do about what’s coming for you in Milwaukee.”

Shifting his focus, Eli turned and walked a few paces around the table and then beyond the steel garbage can, kneeling down to pick up the red gas can that had been sitting there somewhat ominously all along. With an easy flick of his wrist he popped the lid off and turned back to the steel can.

“You see, Chris, this isn’t about streaks anymore. I’ve already got that locked in the bag. Walking into Adrenaline One-Eleven it’s not about legacy and adding another gem to my crown. It’s not about a showcase of Hall of Fame talents. I beat you before I was in the Hall of Fame. I beat you the night they announced my induction. Heh, I did more than that. I pretty clearly broke you that night. It’s not about that, though. Hell, it’s not even about gearing up for Ana Hayden and the 4CW Championship match at Retrograde. This is about collecting on a debt. This is about retribution. This is about vengeance. There’s not going to be any friendly handshake offered at the conclusion of this match, Chris. Those days are past. You had your chance to move on to whatever your career was going to be post Elijah Carlson with class, with grace, and with your head held high. I’m not just going to beat you, Chris. I’m going to make an example out of you.”

Tilting the red can upward, Eli emptied its contents down into the steel container. A gently chugging sound echoed rhythmically as the liquid exited its container and splashed down softly onto the fabric below. A few moments passed until finally Eli shook the can a few times to get the last couple of drops out before he set the can off to the side and then reached for the steel garbage container, dragging it out of the garage to sit it on the paved driveway.

“And I can’t help but wonder, Chris…”

Shoving his hand into the right pocket of the blue jeans that he was wearing, Eli rummaged for a few moments before eventually laying hold of whatever it was he was looking for. When his hand was pulled free from his pocket, a small book of matches were held in his hand.

“Will it be worth it? Will it be worth it to have sacrificed your character for… for this? Will it be worth having sacrificed your reputation only to end up disappointed once again? Will it be worth it in the end to have behaved so childishly, only to have everything everyone believed you were. Hell, everything you probably believed you were…”

He paused for a moment, flipping the book of matches open. Swiftly he ignited one of the matches and then used it to light the rest of the matchbook on fire only to toss it into the garbage can half a second later. Immediately flames ignited and launched upward out of the can before dying quickly down. And as the mixture of t-shirts burned, thick black smoke began to billow upward.

“Was it worth it to watch it all go up in smoke?”

Shrugging, Eli turned away as the visuals on the scene shifted and elevated, panning upward over the burning trash can. Through the fire, the smoke, and the flames a final shot of Chris Madison’s face burning away into nothingness flashes. A moment later black smoke chokes out the scene and brings thick, heavy darkness. And then nothingness.