Dark Rebirth

By: Betsy Granger

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 27th Dec 2021

December 21st 2021
Toronto, Canada
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Betsy Granger hums merrily as she decorates the tree James Raven had just propped up in the bay window of their living room. He watches her carefully, drinking in the sight of her stringing up colorful lights strategically through the narrow pine branches. His hands fidgeted unwittingly with a large tree ornament; his brown eyes narrowed suspiciously. He knew her good mood was a deception for his benefit; her nightmares woke him up nearly every night now. She hadn’t slept at all the last two and had barely collected ten hours in the previous two weeks. Feeling his eyes following her every move, Betsy avoids his gaze on purpose, focusing on her task. But when she came back around the front, he was ready for her; taking the string of lights from her slack hands, he draws her to a chair, where he sits, pulling her into his lap. Running a hand through her hair, he holds her head in place gently, maintaining their eye contact.

“Are you alright Bets?” he asks her softly.

“I…” as much as she wanted to tell him she was fine; the words wouldn’t leave her throat. Tears spill from her eyes as she sighs and sags against him heavily. “It gets harder to fight him every day. Lycana is gone and I don’t know who else I can go to with this. What the fuck are we going to do? What if he succeeds…”

She tries to turn her head away, but he slides his hand down to the nape of her neck and keeps her looking at him. “He won’t, Bets… And if he does, we’ll find a way to knock him out of you.” Dropping his hand, he clasps his arms tightly around her waist and kisses her forehead gently. “You never can do anything normal like getting the flu or rob a bank or some shit, eh?” His voice is gentle, but she can hear the same fear she felt behind his teasing tone.

“I’m so tired…” She says breathlessly before dissolving into tears.

Seconds seemed to pass like hours as they remained entangled together in the chair. Betsy rests her head against his shoulder as she cries; James rests his lips on the top of her head and kisses her repeatedly. “Just don’t leave me, Bets. It’s that simple.”

A strangled laugh escapes between her sobs. “Believe me, I’m working on that.”

Sliding his fingers under her chin, he lifts her face gently for a kiss. As their lips finally part, their foreheads touch, and his fingers tangle into her golden locks again. “And if you do fall asleep, I won’t stop looking for you. Believe that.”

Betsy weeps gently as she clings to him tightly. “I don’t want to become what he wants to make me.”

Cupping her face, he kisses her tear-stained cheeks. “You never know, Bets; releasing some of that aggression and poison might be good for you.”

“He wants to make me a monster,” Betsy says, scrunching up her nose. “But he’s persuasive as fuck… He makes a lot of sense a lot of the time and it scares me.”

“I know I’m not known for being a moral compass, but there’s nothing he could make you do that would turn you into what he seems to be,” James says firmly. “I won’t let him.”

“Even now, I can feel him lurking in my mind. Waiting oh so patiently for me to give in,” she whispers fearfully. “I love you, James. Don’t ever forget, no matter what happens. You will always have my heart in your hands. I trust you with it as much as my life… and now my soul, I suppose.”

“No pressure.” he quips, which earns him a strained chuckle. His eyes narrow suddenly. “What about your family? Should we call them and tell them not to come?”

Betsy shakes her head vehemently. “I don’t want to do anything to worry them any further. They already know more about this than I wanted them to… Why make it any worse?”

James studies her carefully but remains silent as he nods his agreement. Betsy sighs and slides from his grip, wiping her eyes as she walks back to the tree. Her hands tremble violently as she picks up the string lights and continues her work; the room remains heavy with the deafening sound of their silence…

****An Impossible Promo****

“Hello, Michelle. I wondered when we’d finally have the opportunity to go toe to toe, but I never thought it would be for the title I’ve been chasing for months now. I appreciate the convenience of you winning it off of Toddy, it saved me from having to get my hands dirty with her blood. If they are to be stained crimson, let it be the blood of those who have made an honest enemy of me. It was a favor sent from hell when I found out it was to be you and I at Countdown… Not only will destroying you be a pleasure, but I can also finally put your bitch ass back in your place where you belong. I hope you’ve enjoyed the sweet taste of Manhattan while you had it, baby girl, because you’ll be left with the bitter taste of self-loathing and regret when I’m through with you. Everything you’ve worked for and thought you had locked tight, taken away with a mere three count. The look of defeat and despair on your face as I leave the ring with the strap will be the most rewarding prize, I could hope to take home with me on December thirty-first. Every moment of our match will be much more than a battle for glory and gold.

I’m going to make you feel every slight you’ve ever committed against the New Status Quo.

Did you really believe the constant attacks would remain unanswered?

Did you think our encounter in the Tower at Ascension would be erased from my memory so easily?”

Betsy is walking among a snow-covered trail that is surrounded by thick rows of pine trees. The sky is dark blue with a smattering of grey clouds that threaten to bring more snow to the ground. Her heavy grey cloak trails silently against the ground behind her as she continues to walk.

“I remember it clear as day. You told me that Dynasty was the status quo and you would remain the top dogs in Fight. How’d that work out for you and your army of dickbags? You know, I could sit here and tick off all the ways you aren’t worth a fuck compared to me, and trust me, we will be getting around to that bit. But I thought I’d speak to you, woman to woman, no bullshit for a moment. Because you’re being dragged down by a marriage that’s going to end in flames. The way he influences your tragic little mind would be hilarious if it weren’t so utterly sad. Look at yourself Champ, your recent actions have been bitch-fueled, and I don’t mean that you’ve been fierce honey. Over and over, you follow the lead of your boorish husband and his band of Brokeback Buddies as they continue to stumble and fail their way through life. Brandon probably whispered everything you wanted to hear during pillow talk; delusions of dominance and glory that peons like the New Status Quo couldn’t hope to grasp at. Did he promise you a trip by his side to the top of the mountain? Hate to break it to you love, that was just a euphemism for his dick, and that isn’t going to get you very far either. You can look down your noses at my family and I all you want; it isn’t going to change what’s already come to pass and will continue for a long time to come. Fact is, Toots, the man you married is a garden-variety blowhard who happens to be one of the biggest crybaby bitches in this industry and girl…

You can do way better.”

Betsy smirks as she turns her hooded profile more towards the camera. The right side of her face remains hidden in shadow, while the left catches what little light is left of the day.

“Then again, perhaps your shit taste in men is a touch more telling than I realized. Over and over, you’d happily follow those bumbling halfwits, truly believing you were making a shred of difference. Hoping you would prove too much and drive us off with your antics, but look at where we are now. It’s true, I’ve gone through some trial and error while my brethren have risen to greater heights; hell, you’ve ascended to become ‘Queen’ of Manhattan… Christ, another self-proclaimed queen in Fight? How many of you basic bitches are running around, anyway? Oh, wait… Doesn’t Brandon call himself King of Blah and Blah? That explains it, only the truly narcissistic would consider themselves above those who are clearly their superiors. The truly powerful have no need to flex so hard; so maybe both of you should just sit in the corner and behave while the grownups set Fight back to rights.

You may believe you’ve taken back some of the control when you toppled Toddy to take Manhattan, but you shouldn’t let this one victory blind you to all the loss that’s coming your way. The Countdown to your ultimate downfall is ticking away like a bomb and I’m the fire that’s lit your fuse. I will grant you this: you were the only one capable of capitalizing on your opportunity. It’s more than I can say for the others who snaked the shot away from me at the last second. You were only the latest in a line of failures that Belt-Blocked me; it’s funny, I always said when I win that strap, I wanted it to be against someone who is considered a top-tier talent. But I suppose I’ll have to settle for you.”

The clouds finally break, allowing the afternoon sun to shine down on Betsy’s face as she turns to face the camera fully.

“You’ve made your position and feelings for me very clear and I just wanted to assure you that it’s all gravy, girlfriend. Shawn has been telling me for months that I can’t be friends with everyone, I’m just finally in a place where I agree. Besides, given who you run with, I wouldn’t want to be around such company as it was. There isn’t enough sage or crystals to eliminate the bullshit those boys emanate on daily. Honestly Michelle, how have you tolerated spending so much time with whiny little cunts like the Montuori’s without putting a bullet between your eyes? Being around that much micro-dick energy must be draining as fuck.

Apologies, dear, I’m slipping off topic again; this isn’t about the Limp Lizards Mafia, this is about us.

Although, I should warn you: my man is about to cripple your husband and everyone else that tries to get in our way. I hope you took out a life insurance policy on Brandon, because I have a strange feeling you’ll be cashing it in. James and Aiden are merely finishing what Shawn and Dickie started and defending what’s ours.”

The clouds break for a moment as Betsy turns towards the camera. The sun hits her face, casting it in a heavenly glow.

“And while Dickie keeps the Empire securely with us, I’ll be left to do my part. This isn’t just about me and my desire to become a champion once again. I know I carry the Islands Titles with my family, an honor beyond words; but I will always want more. Isn’t that why we’re all here?

My appetite for gold has grown and ever since I stepped foot in Fight, I’ve desired nothing more than the opportunity to claim the Manhattan Title. Obstacles stopped me from getting what I want, and I went through personal… growth… to get to where I am now. I may have fallen to opponents like Sahara and Apathy, but they served a purpose in the grand scheme of things. They can thank me later for giving them significant victories in otherwise insignificant careers… or more accurately, existences. Pathetic creatures that they are, they managed to overcome me at my weakest point and I owe them a debt of gratitude for it. The sting of loss they both delivered on me opened my eyes to the fragility of my own pride and allowed me to release it. For so long, I fought to control the darker side of my personality, and what for?

They didn’t defeat me, Michelle; they freed the demons inside of me.”

A dark smile crosses her scarlet lips as her eyes turn to balls of obsidian.

“You aren’t just fighting for your title this time, Michelle; you had best come prepared to fight for your life itself. For too long, I’ve tried to be the best of a bad bunch, but it’s time I was honest with myself. It’s time I acknowledged that nagging voice in the back of my mind that begs to be let loose; is this what you wanted? I promise you all, you have no idea what you’ve asked me to unleash; but congratulations, because you win.

Enjoy your short-lived rise to second-best in the fed, Michelle; your fall back to the bottom is going to be a rough one. You may be the Queen of Manhattan for now, but the clock is ticking and the Impossible Traveler is coming to take everything away once and for all. I should have ripped your insolent tongue out of your head at Ascension; if I could change one thing about my Fight journey thus far, it would be that. You almost got the better of me that night, but you have no idea how much has changed since then.

How much I’ve changed.

Patience is a virtue dear, and two opportunities have come my way wrapped in one brightly colored Christmas bow. Now I can take my time and take your head clean off your body; hey, maybe it’ll give Anne someone new to talk to. I can’t imagine she has many friends with a similar life experience; see that, I’m all about the spirit of giving this holiday season. And I’m about to kick your ass into the same sense of cheerful giving when you lose like a woman and hand me that belt.

Whether it’s stained in your blood or not is completely up to you, Michelle.

Tick tock baby; your time is up. I look forward to ringing in the new year with the Manhattan Title and the taste of your blood on my lips.”

Betsy thrusts a hand into the camera, causing it to fade to black.

_____

December 25th 2021

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As James and the Granger family sleep throughout the large house, Betsy slips out of bed quietly. Slipping on the red silk robe that matched her nightie, she looks over at James to ensure that he was still asleep. She leaves her feet bare as she tiptoes from the room and creeps quietly down the hallway and down the stairs. Her body is tingling with energy and as she finally allows the hot-white light to permeate through her pores as she distances herself further from those she loved more than life itself.

They couldn’t be allowed to witness what she was about to do. They’d beg her to fight, promise her they wouldn’t let it happen…

But they were too late to stop it now.

He had told her how it would come to pass and he had been right all along. Even now, she could feel the vibration through her veins from his victorious purrs as she knelt before the fireplace. Dropping to her knees and bowing her head, she closes her eyes and for the first time since he invaded, she bid him forward. A disembodied hand as cold as death grips her shoulder, causing her to flinch. A dark laugh follows this and she knows that he’s about to take his time with her.

“My word, Lady Granger; what could have possibly happened to have caused you to summon me?” his voice is dripping with glee.

“You’ve been in my head two months now… You know what I want. Show me again what could have been and what could be.” Betsy says, her voice icy.

Without another word, she’s pulled further into her mind and pushed into a bright spotlight. Shielding her eyes from it, she looks around and sees herself surrounded by the opponents of her first XWF; the night she lost her debut and the chance to become a champion. As the lights dim, she drops her hand and takes a step closer to the ring; something was wrong. Ash and Geri had been obliterated on the outside and Betsy was slamming Jenny’s head repeatedly against the ring steps. The crowd was silent in horror as blood stained the cold, unforgiving metal; when she finally dragged Jenny back into the ring and applied the Tuez Les Etoiles, the champion tapped quickly and the match was over. Betsy was handed the title, which she held up victoriously into the air, celebrating amongst the silent fans.

“Always wanted to be a good sport and denying yourself what you deserve. You always had the skills to beat that pathetic nobody; where are any of those women now?” He laughs into her ear, a sound that sends a chill down her spine. “Gone and forgotten, just like the rest who fall at your hands will be.”

With nauseating speed, she’s taken from one false memory into another. Sahara… but which time? Did it matter?

“No, because you failed both times… unnecessarily, by the way,” he answers intrusively, gesturing towards the scene before them.

Betsy watches as she dismantles Sahara, taking apart the loud-mouthed burden piece by piece. The same wild look is in her eyes as the referee rushes in, attempting to stop her from taking Sahara’s scalp from her skull. Once again, the mouth is left in stunned silence as Betsy hisses at the ref and drops the Crimson Queen to the mat, where she lay unmoving. Betsy taunts the crowd, but they give her nothing in return for it. Smirking, Betsy kicks Sahara over with the toe of her boot and drops down for an easy pin. The referee makes the count and quickly leaves the ring, clearly disturbed by what he’d just witnessed. Blood trickled from several areas of Sahara’s body; Betsy slid from the ring and walked up the ramp backward and admired her handy work as medics rushed in to check on her fallen foe.

“That’s barbaric,” Betsy says disapprovingly, but her eyes linger on the scene.

A sinister expression crosses his face as his hands gently land on her shoulders. Turning her on the spot gently, she now watches as she stomps Apathy deeper into a pile of glass and thumbtacks. The full-figured vixen attempts to roll away, but as soon as she’s face down, Betsy catches her and slams her head into the pile. The crowd gasps loudly as the ref watches helplessly, unable to stop what’s happening. The rest of The Cure attempt to come out to make the save, but Betsy doesn’t even look up; NSQ had already arrived and made quick work of the others. Betsy lifts Apathy’s unconscious head from the pile and takes a long, slow deliberate lick up her cheek as blood pours from several wounds.

“This is what you would make me?” Betsy asks, her voice now betraying her intrigue.

“Tell me, Betsy… How badly do you want to take what you’re due and leave Countdown as the new Manhattan Champion? And don’t try to downplay it, I’ve been living in here for two months.” He says teasingly.

“I want it more than anything else,” Betsy confesses, her head hanging further. “Too many people have stopped me from having what I want and I’m sick of it.” Her heart races as she feels his mounting victory within her. Poisonous evil was starting to seep through her veins, turning her blood into a liquid fire in her body.

Images started to run through her mind now, but this time she was staring Michelle in the eye as the blonde blocked her from performing Galactic Advantage. Setting up for a DDT that would send Betsy face-first into the cement floor, Michelle smirks as she runs her mouth again.

“If there’s something you better learn, it’s that the status quo ain’t going anywhere, bitch. We the big dogs around here,” she says condescendingly.

Betsy winces, prepared for the memory to play out as it had; of course, she should have known better. Just as Michelle is about to make her eat concrete, James appears from the shadows and tears her off of Betsy. Michelle hisses as she regains her momentum in a graceful twirl, baring her teeth as she crouches into a defensive stance in front of the of long-time lovers. Betsy has regained her feet and now she and James stand shoulder to shoulder as they prepare for Michelle to charge. Something seems to click in their enemy’s mind as she suddenly freezes and looks around, spotting no one around to provide backup. Her eyes widen as she locks gazes with James and Betsy once again, but she lets out a scream and hurls herself forward anyway. Betsy meets her in the middle with a boot to the chin that sends Michelle flying backward. From the shadows, one of the Montuori brothers appears, attempting to even the odds with a blow to James. The People’s G.O.A.T. responds by laying him out flat and snatching the Team Keys from his boots. Meanwhile, Betsy has turned Miss Michelle into a purple and scarlet pile of mush. The blonde twitches as her breath come out in rattled grasps, Betsy’s handprints dark purplish-black around her throat. James and Betsy meet in the center of the room and embrace passionately, exchanging a heated kiss that is soon interrupted by the rest of the New Status Quo. Watching as they retreat into the elevator, Betsy finally turns back to the Lich King as the doors slide shut with a ding.

“She needs to be taught who the fuck I am,” Betsy says with a low growl. “I’ll take that ladder we’re supposed to climb and stick it right up her vag; at least it’ll give her a good stretch that Brandon’s bitch ass clearly can’t provide. He’s been saving his best loads for Shawn and Dickie lately.”

“Oh, Betsy…” The Lich King says simply, staring at her with dancing eyes. “You’re so close to the precipice now; are you ready to jump?”

“Will I walk away from Countdown with the Manhattan Championship?” Betsy asks, giving away the depths of her desire.

A smile spreads across his face as he holds out his hand to her. “That will merely be the start of everything we’ll gain together. All you have to do is let me in.”

A strange, comforting warmth fills her as his presence begins to leak heavily through her body. Her head begins to swim as their memories begin to combine; a moment later, she could see him reaching out for her. She goes to take a step, but there’s a chasm between them that grows wider by the second. She looks back out at him with panicked eyes and shakes her head.

“No!” she gasps, taking a step back.

“You’re almost there Betsy; all you have to do is jump to me!” He calls out to her, his voice carrying over a screaming wind that had developed around her.

Taking a deep breath, Betsy takes a few more steps back before hurdling forward, screaming as she leaped towards the Lich King. His strong arms catch her and she gasps as he begins to melt into her. As the power of his dark malevolence begins to take hold, Betsy feels herself begin dragged deeper into her mind. “Wait a minute…” She gasps as he appears before her dominantly, in the full horror of his monstrous form.

“It’s much too late to wait now, dear.” He says in a hideous, echoing baritone that made her skin crawl. With a humorous smile, he reaches out and flicks her playfully on the chest. The force of the blow was enough to send her flying backward…

Right into the shallow grave, which he had helped pull her out of on that cold October night. Only now it had been dug much deeper; looking up at his leering face, fear takes hold. “Please… Don’t do this.”

“Thank you, Betsy Granger, for making this relatively easy. I’ll keep all my promises to you… We will have everything. No matter what.” He says, his face disappearing.

“WAIT!” She screams, but her only reply is dirt being poured on top of her at an alarming rate. Desperation fills her as she attempts to outclimb the falling dirt, but it falls too fast, thick, and heavy for her to make it to the top of the grave. As she’s forced back to the bottom on her back, she scratches desperately at the heavy dirt, but it’s to no avail. All too soon, she feels the weight of it piling on her chest as she begins to inhale clumps that begin to lodge their way into her throat and lungs…

“Betsy?” James calls out to her in the darkness. “Are you alright?”

Still knelt in front of the fire, Betsy opens her eyes, but they’re glowing a bright red. A victoriously wicked smile crosses her face for a moment as she stares into the flames. As his hand drops on her shoulder, the glow fades to emerald and she gets to her feet. Turning into his arms, Betsy looks up at James with a reassuring smile and runs a hand lovingly down his cheek.

“I’ve never been better in my life, beloved.”