‘Cause it isn’t over yet

By: Sahara

Date: 12th Jul 2021

It was a long night, to say the least. While kill or be killed might be a bit of an overstatement, that was some straight up insanity. It was like a bunch of John Wickís got stranded on that island from Lord of the Flies, aní everyone started paintiní up their faces with blood and wrecking each other. Needless to say, a lottaí little piggies got crushed at Blood Money.

Including Sahara.

At one point she could swear she remembered someone kicking a door down and literally surfing over her with it down a goddamn stairwell, but it all happened so fast and sounded so absurd, it couldnít have actually gone down that way.

Oh, no, thatís right. That actually happened.

In any case, as it turns out, it was Dickie Watson that ended up holdiní the conch when all was said and done.

Aside from that, each FIGHTer — or whatever the hell theyíre gonna end up calliní us for marketing purposes — got assigned to a triage unit that they were to immediately report to for post-show physicals. Miss F was pretty damn adamant about everyone showing up to this, something about, “mandatory attendance in order to gain clearance for the next event”, should you be booked. Sahara didnít know what it was, but in her head, Miss F sounded like Roz from Monsters Inc., even though she didnít actually sound like that. She gave off a very creepy, “Iím always watching youÖ” vibe. The platinum blonde shuddered at the thought, considering this Trumanesqueí Occhi camera system they had installed throughout the building. She suddenly wondered if they had these cameras in the room theyíd assigned her, where sheíd been walking around naked half the damn time–

*Boom*

”Shit!” Sheíd walked right into the physician that had been waiting for her in the hallway, and damn near plastered him into the doorframe! This snapped her back from her daydream about hidden cameras and nakednessÖ ”Jesus Christ, Iím sorry,” the blonde somewhat hissed as she tilted her head to see the man she just pasted into the wall a bit better. She was holding a pinkish stained towel wrapped around some ice cubes against her left eye as she meandered the halls looking for this triage unit. He was a little guy, maybe around five-seven or so and hundred and fifty pounds soak ní wet. Sahara wasnít a petite little thing, standing at five-ten and weighing in at over one-eighty. For a woman that looked like she did, she had a well-toned, sturdy frame.

”You okay?!”, sheíd wondered considering she nearly sent this little guy through the wall.

The doctor nodded, ”I-Iím fine. Just take a seat on the examination table, Sahara.”

”You can just call me Lauren, yanno. And again, Iím sorry, I couldnít see with this thing on my eye.”

The doctor shrugged, ”Sorry, itís gotta be Sahara at any and all times within the confines of the building. On orders from above. When youíre in this building, youíre Sahara.”

”Fair enough, Doc Ö so whatís the damage.”

As he approached the blonde, he took hold of the ice wrap she was holding against her eye, ”Letís see what we got here–“ She let out a painful little whimper as he removed the towel, as it stuck to her face a bit as he peeled it away. ”Nice.”

He tossed the towel — ice and all — in a bin of other blood stained towels, as he took a closer look at her eye. ”Well,” the doctor absently spoke as he continued examining her, ”youíre gonna have a nice shiner for a week or so, but it doesnít look like youíll need stitches, which is nothing short of a miracle.”

”Thatís it? Thatís nothiní. This ainít my first rodeoí, Doc!”, she let out a little laugh as she attempted to scoot herself off the exam table, only to have the physician hold up a hand. ”Woah there, not so fast. Still need to check your heart and lungs, blood pressure, and take some blood–“

”Take some blood? For what? Like a cholesterol screen or something?”

The doctor motioned to the computer, ”No. According to records from the state athletic commission, you have a history of narcotics abuse.”

”Wha?! Thatís seriously in there?!” She leaned forward to take a look at her profile on the computer screen. There had to be years worth of health data showing, and more. This place was no joke. Talk about sparing no expense– ”That was like a hundred years ago, Doc–“

”Once youíre on that list, youíre on that list. So youíre gonna be required to submit blood from time to time to retain clearance. Also, as is standard, a HEP and HIV test considering all the blood you share in the ring. None of this should come as a surprise to you, as you said, not your first rodeo. Now, about the narcotics abuse, if at any point youíre in so much pain from the everyday wear and tear of your profession, or an injury sustained here at FIGHT, youíll need to contact HR or professional services immediately–“

The blonde sighed, as the doctor’s voice turned into something of the teachers from the Peanuts cartoon. She completely zoned out as he prattled on and continued the examination and blood draw. Talk about one life mistake following you around forever and ever. She hadnít thought about pain killers in what seemed like forever, but now that heíd brought it up, itís all she could think about. These sorts of triggers were a known thing amongst the addicts, but what would trigger it was always completely random. If her eye hurt when she entered this room, now it really fucking hurt. Just one pill, hell — just one-half and all the pain would be go–

The cold feel of the stethoscope on her chest suddenly snapped her out of her spiraling thoughts–

”Jesus, Doc, if ya wanna feel me up, ya just gotta ask!” Her tone was suddenly playful.

But the Doctor wasnít at all pleased with her little joke. He sighed and looked at her rather sternly, ”Sahara, I fully understand this might be your personality, but this isnít 1997, we arenít in the ring, and we arenít chums at the bar, so right now, if you could find it in yourself to retain some modicum of professionalism, Iíd really appreciate it.”

”Jeez, my sincerest apologies, Doc.” She couldnít help but roll her eyes as she gave him a half-assed salute. ”It was just a joke.”

”I understand that, but in these times, we all have to respect each other’s space. Now, prior to you zoning out, I was instructed to make it very clear to you that we offer services to those with a known history of substance abuse should you ever feel the need creep up. Do you understand what Iím saying?!”

She nodded, ”Yeah, whatever. Can we just get this done? I just wanna get back to my room and sleep for like a month–“

”Almost done. Just one last test–“, the doctor held up a clear plastic cup. ”Going to need to watch you urinateÖand Iíd appreciate no commentary during the process.”

She rolled her eyes as she took the cup before dropping off the exam table and heading towards the tiny bathroom unit attached.

”Can’t promise ya that.”

These obvious drug tests were rather annoying, so she stared intently at the doctor as she peeled her ring attire downward. It was very apparent she was going out of her way to make things as uncomfortable as possible, considering his speech about professionalism. With a sly little smile on her face, she stared directly at the doctor the entire time she urinated, catching just enough of it in the cup, without so much of a glance down in order to aim. That was Sahara. The Crimson Queen. She displayed absolutely no apprehension about urinating in front of a male doctor, didnít care that he saw her mostly naked, but even that wasnít enough to quench this giddy high she was on after the night she had, after all, whatís wrestling without commentary?

”Itís called a Brazilian, though Iím guessing you already know that.” She flashed a slightly bigger smile as she opened her legs just a little bit more, ”Sheís rather pretty, ainít she?!”

Quite pleased with herself, Sahara stood up and held out the cup of piss, her tights still down slightly above her knees–

With a gloved hand and a rather annoyed look on his face, the doctor took it from her, only she didn’t let it go at first. This further irritated him and just as he was about to say something, she let it go, thankfully without making him spill it all over the place. He let out another sigh of annoyance and capped it.

”Thatíll be all, Sahara.” He motioned toward the exit, likely thankful this particular examination was over.

She finally pulled her tights up and walked toward the door, ”I hope that was as good for you as it was for me, DocÖ”

~~~~~

A centimeter? No. It was less than that. Like a tenth of a millimeter or something. Hell, I donít know what these units of distance even mean, but trust me, I was this damn close. I skinned it with my fingertips. The precious feel of that cold steel was almost within reach. All I needed to do was stretch a little bit more and Iíd get that opportunistic son of a bitch Todrick Tabor-Ramsey off my back–

And then it was within reach.

Okay, it was a little more than in reach. It was suddenly under my damn face. Her reflection was the last thing I saw. That snarling, angry reflection in the shiny lacquered paint job of the cold steel of that chair. Then I felt her boot on the back of my neck when she gave me a closeup of what flesh and bone feels like when itís crushed down into the chair that was meant to be my salvation– Suddenly, it had become my damnation. And you took advantage. But I donít blame ya, Todrick. I donít blame ya because Iíd have done the same damn thing. When opportunity knocks, we answer. Thatís how winners win. They scratch and claw for every damn inch they can. Thatís how you kept goiní, aní I got eliminated. I let my guard down when I took out Anicka, and I gotta admit, I never saw ya cominí. Itís how I got this shiner. Look at me. Look at this face. I may not look it, but Iím not one to shy away from the pain and punishment that comes with the territory. After all, the fight withiní us ainít skin deep. And itís a fight I hadnít felt in a lonnnnnnng damn time. So I hope youíre ready for the return fire you got cominí. And by the way, I loved yer little Gumbo recipe, but I sure ainít no vegetable, well, not yet anyway. So here we go, the first show after the big bang kick-off show — I guess theyíre calliní it Venom. Now I ainít gonna lie, I donít know much about ya, Chef Toddy, I mean, Iím not sayiní this to diminish who ya are. Iíve heard of you for sure. You donít grow up in this business not knowing about or hearing about various wrestlers throughout the years, but letís just say I havenít been invested in what feels like forever. Last go around, I was more interested in my acting career than I was wrestling. A stint on Netflix here, another on HBO there — it kinda took on a life of its own, and it made me forget who I once was. Iíd buried that vicious girl deep down in a place I never thought Iíd have to go again. It wasnít until a week ago when that seemingly random business card showed up, stuffed into my locker, that I found myself drawn to this place. I had no idea what was goiní on. At first, I thought it was one of those guaranteed auditions, so I set out and came to New York not knowiní where I was goiní or what I was doiní. Thatís when I found this place. This wonderfully violent, wild, insane place that stretches into the sky. Itís wrestling but it isnít Ö itís something more, and we can all feel it. They say you only got one chance to make a first impression.

Well, the impression was made, and if ya look at the news, the media, or on the front page of ESPN, we got noticed. You, me Ö all of us.

“Try liviní again” was the message that was sent to me.

Message received. Cuz after that insanity, Iím startiní taí feel alive again!

~~~~~

As she finally closed her dormitory door, she fell back against it and let out a sigh of absolute relief. She felt like melting down the door to take a much deserved rest, but knew if she did, she probably wouldnít get back up off the floor. Taking a few deep breaths, it felt like the tension had finally released. After what went down at Blood Money, Sahara spent her time heading directly to the infirmary floor before trekking her tired blonde ass up to her assigned living quarters, with an eerie feeling that she was being followed the entire way–

It wasnít until she closed the door behind her and latched the locks that the show finally felt over and done with. Sheíd been looking over her shoulder the entire time she was walking the halls of this towering skyscraper to her final destination, not quite sure she wouldnít get randomly attacked again.

It was pressure and anxiety personified.

She softly banged the back of her head off the door before finally pushing herself away, ready to ravage the fully stocked mini-bar that she knew was waiting for her with itís loving display of alcoholic beverages. Namely wine. Red wine that had her name on it.

Thatís when she saw it.

A lovingly wrapped package laying on the glass minimalist coffee table with a card tucked beneath a black bow that adorned the top of the unexpected gift. She picked up the card and unfolded the little envelope, pulling out its contents, which she folded open. The handwritten lettering was plain and simple–

“A little thank you for all the hard work.” – The FIGHT Staff

She tore into the crimson colored wrapping paper that covered the package and took the lid off. This wasnít some randomly tossed together cheap cardboard box, either. This ranked up there with that well made packaging Apple uses to wrap their various technologies. It was another small reminder that whoever put all of this together wasnít cutting any corners.

Pushing the packing peanuts aside that covered whatever this was–

She suddenly took a step back, mouth slightly agape.

It couldnít be–

Reaching into the box, the blonde pulled out something she thought she would never see again. It was the EWA Combat Championship. It wasnít a world title or anything, or even from a place most had heard of, but to her, it was everything. Hell, at the time she won it, it was considered the lowest ranking title in the organization — but that didnít matter — to her, it was something more than could be described. It was her very first title victory–

Lifting it up, she remembered the heft of it. Sheíd held it on two occasions, but the first was the one that defined her. Itís when she became known as The Crimson Queen. A title she elevated from the doldrums of obscurity to arguably the most important title in the company at the time. Itís when she first learned the one enduring fact of professional wrestling — it wasnít the title that makes the man or woman, itís the man or woman that makes the title.

Her bloodstained yet perfectly manicured fingers gently brushed over the gleaming golden faceplate of the title, feeling its design and carefully crafted contours. The name Sahara was etched into the faceplate near the bottom in bold black lettering.

”It canít be”, she whispered.

But somehow, it was. This wasnít some replica, this was the original title sheíd held — she could still see the flaws, the dings and dents, including a few sheíd put there herself. This was the real thing.

She hadnít noticed, but sheíd fallen back onto the sofa while she stared at it like some long lost lover, completely lost in thought, as an endless flood of memories came rushing back. Closing her eyes, for a brief moment, she could hear the roar of the crowd when sheíd done the impossible, as the referee handed her this beloved championship trophy–

Snapping back to the present, she noticed something else resting atop of the packing peanuts that remained in the box. A note. Reaching forward as she situated the title neatly across her lap, she opened the letter–

Dear Sahara, I hope this gift finds you well. First and foremost, I want to welcome you back, and thank you for staying long enough to give yourself a second chance. I know this isnít Hollywood, some motion picture or television show that came calling, but Iíve believed in you since the day we met so long ago. It was no small effort tracking this gift down. It was procured from a collector of various wrestling memorabilia, and itís our gift to you, to hopefully rekindle something you lost long ago. You once walked away from wrestling, citing that you no longer loved wrestling because wrestling no longer loved you. And for a brief moment, you found some success in Hollywood, but your heart was never in it. I know this because if it was, you wouldnít have been co-starring in random television shows or making spot appearances here or there, youíd have been headlining major motion pictures. Acting is merely a profession for you, but a wrestler is what you are. Wrestling is in your blood. Blood youíve spilled and blood youíve yet to spill. Itís not something you fall out of love with. If itís in you, itís in you forever. I still see it in you even if you cannot. But if youíd like to see what I see — what we all see — all you have to do is turn on the television provided in your room and watch a special edition of Blood Money that others will never see. With our state of the art system, you will be able to view any scene you are in throughout the entirety of the show, and from any camera angle available. Simply select the time code you want to see, and there it is, unedited and uncut, from multiple points of view when possible. Itís a technology unlike anything youíve ever seen, or anything thatís ever been used in professional sports or anywhere else for that matter. This special behind-the-scenes footage is locked only to scenes you appear in, whether it be alone or with others. You will not be able to see other FIGHTers behind the scenes footage unless it aired on the version of Blood Money that was broadcast live. Iíd suggest flipping to the time marker indicated on the back of this note, to serve as a reminder of who and what you really are. Enjoy the gift! P.S: It was good to see The Crimson Queen alive again!

There was no closing signature. Flipping the note, other than an indicated time code, there were no other clues as to who had written the note. Whoever it was, it must have been the same person that left her the business card that started her on this journey. They left something of a clue, they’d met at some point, so whoever it is, she must know them, but that could practically be anybody!

She sat back against the sofa, thinking about whoever this mysterious person was. Her fingernails gently clicked against the golden faceplate of a title belt that reminded her so much of a time that had been lost in, well, time Ö for lack of a better description.

”Okay, this calls for copious amounts of wine–“ The blonde shoved herself off the sofa, grimacing a bit from the tightening of her muscles after a night of pure insanity. Heading over to the mini-bar, she opened a bottle of wine and poured herself a half glass of Cabernet — never mind — make that a full glass. Actually — never mind again — as she tucked the bottle beneath her arm before picking up the glass and heading back to the sofa to snuggle up with that gift and to watch whatever the hell this mystery person told her to watch–

Turning on the television, a series of apps popped up, the usual — Netflix, HBO, Peacock — and one sheíd never seen before labeled FIGHT. Selecting it, a brief demo began playing, complete with Miss F narrating — “Iím waaaatccchinnnng youuuuu, Wazowski, alwayyyysss watchinnnng!” — there was that voice again. She didnít know what it was, but that’s all Sahara could hear.

After the brief app tutorial, she selected Blood Money: Sahara – Behind the Scenes, and skipped forward to the timecode indicated on the back of that note–

There was a stairwell, with a flashing red emergency light, a flight of metal stairs that went up, and another that went down, but for about ten solid seconds, nothing happened. Then the blonde known as Sahara suddenly burst through the door and slammed it shut behind her, leaning her body against it and holding the handle straight to prevent whoever the hell was chasing her from getting to her. Loud banging could clearly be heard on the other side of the door. She was heaving for breath and already bleeding from who the hell knows where. Her bright platinum hair was already stained with a pinkish hue. When the scene finally calmed and whoever was on the other side of the door gave up, she slid down the door to take a breather, though she knew she couldnít hide all night, as you had to actually eliminate people to win the damn thing–

She took a few moments for herself alone in that stairwell Ö when she started uncontrollably laughing.

Thatís when she hit pause, staring intently at the screen–

And there it was.

What should have been a terrifying moment — with a horde of fighters all trying to eliminate anyone and everyone, trying to kick down the solid metal door to get to her — through the blood and the sweat, she was Ö laughing. It was an odd, uncontrollable laughter that could only be brought on by a hundred percent pure unadulterated joy. While she eventually got eliminated by her upcoming opponent Todrick, it was in that very moment she realized she wasnít worried, she wasnít afraid, and she sure as hell wasnít punchiní a clock–

She was having fun.

While the thought was fleeting, she could remember the exact thing that was running through her mind at that very moment; There’s wrestling youíre a part of, and then thereís wrestling you want to be a part of.

And Sahara wanted to be a part of this.

Lifting her glass to toast whoever this mystery person was that did all of this for her — just in case these cameras truly were everywhere — she took a lonnnnnnng drink from her glass of Cabernet. The weary blonde — who was still in much need of a shower — looked down and patted the gift sheíd received. Looking back to the screen, she stared at herself laughing maniacally in freeze-frame, and then she smiled–

”Long Live the Crimson Queen.”

~~~~~

Chase a couple hearts
We could leave ’em in shreds
Meet me in the gutter
Make the devil your friend
Just remember what I said
‘Cause it isn’t over yet