UT Southwestern Medical Center
~The picture slowly comes up, blurry at first, as if awakening from a dream… or a nightmare. The sound of a heart beat machine can be heard, setting up a steady cadence through the otherwise quiet room. The camera slowly pans to the side, where a light board is set up. A couple of X-rays are put up and clipped into place, allowing the doctors to see them better.~
Doctor: It doesn’t look good, does it?
Nurse: No, sir. Not at all.
~Even a non-medical professional can tell that there’s something drastically wrong with the spinal cord in the X-ray posted. The camera zooms back slightly, allowing us to see the nurse and the doctor. The nurse shakes her head sadly, while the doctor is keeping on his best game face.~
Doctor: In my opinion… I don’t think he’ll ever walk again…
~The nurse lets out a small sigh, before saying a quick prayer to herself. The doctor studies the X-rays for a moment more before ripping them back off the light board, a little more forcefully than required. The camera focuses on the blank light, zooming in, until it’s all that we can see. The screen goes white.~
January 17th, 2022
So here we sit. A new location. A new mountain to climb.
Things keep changing in 2022. I never expected to be recruited by Chris Page into CCP Enterprises. I certainly didn’t expect that new union to bear fruit so quickly. Yet here I am, invited to be part of one of the biggest matches of the year so far, Fight! Blood Money 2. I’ve watched Fight for a while now, hearing some polls naming them one of the top federations in the world. That’s a place you just have to check out yourself, you know?
Of course, I understand why I was allowed to sign on the dotted line. I’m clearly the hottest free agent in the world today, a man that’s going places in every territory he enters. I’ve already claimed the Thunder Pro Wrestling International Title, the first ever to wear that belt. I very well could be coming into Blood Money 2 as the XWF Universal Champion. Oh, and there’s the Pro Wrestling Valor Roth Invitational Tournament, that’s going to be a wild ride.
You can see I’m a busy man.
But that will never stop me from wanting more. I don’t plan on turning down any opportunity. The way you reach Legend status is dominating as far and wide as possible. And this is my chance to make my mark on the fans and wrestlers of Fight.
I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t admit to another ulterior motive. You see, Chris has informed me all about this NSQ group. Sounds like something off the New York Stock Exchange, but fine. So we have the New Status Quo, huh? Well, maybe you’ve had a good run as of late. But I’m anticipating that taking a bit of a twist at the end of January.
After all, I’m not the only one coming in at the behest of CCP Enterprises.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not making the trip to Disney World just for CCP. It’s also not just about the rides, although a brawl while riding Expedition Everest would be one for the record books. No, this one’s going to be about me as well. I’m looking forward to coming in and facing another cluster of people who take one look at me and immediately discount me from the competition.
I get that a lot.
But just because I’m used to it, it can still inspire me. The push is there to ignite my rage against my competition, and to make them pay for doubting Peter Vaughn. And having it be a match where anything goes, a free for all where we fight until we’re knocked out or pinned? A bloody brawl where only your allies will matter?
I really can’t think of a better scenario for someone like me.
~The drone shot leaves the glow of the sun behind, slowly aiming downwards away from the sky. We see the land below, where a clear road can be seen cutting the dry nature scene in half. A small Cadillac drives into view; mostly small due to the height of the drone, which moves closer. It drops perfectly into place above the car as it makes the turn into a dirt road, a rough entrance for the car. But it perseveres, making it up to the ranch house that’s in the midst of construction.
We can see several trucks lined up in front of the house, with workers streaming around everywhere. Some are currently working on adding insulation and waterproofing to the outside walls on the left, while others are digging up a trench to the right, likely for plumbing purposes. The car door opens, and Jonathan “Pryde” Barrows gets out, looking around the area through his dark sunglasses. He’s wearing a tan suit, which stands out greatly against all the casually-dressed workers. Some glance over him and start whispering, laughing at the man, but Barrows doesn’t notice. He’s searching for one person in particular.~
Jonathan Barrows: Hey Peter! Where are you at? PETER!
~One or two workers look over. Could their names be Peter as well? We will never know, as Jonathan’s attention is caught by a shout from above. He looks up at the roof of the second story house, where Peter Vaughn steps up and waves down at him.~
Peter Vaughn: Hey, Jonathan! What do you think? Place is really coming along now that I have some help, huh?
Jonathan Barrows: Damn, Peter, what are you doing up there??
Peter Vaughn: Helping with the re-tiling of the roof on this side. You wouldn’t believe the water damage that’s seeped through over the last year, even as dry as it’s been. I’d reckon we’ve found a dozen broken tiles already. Damn hail.
Jonathan Barrows: No, I mean, what are you doing up there when you should be ready for me to take you to the event??
~Vaughn looks puzzled for a moment, considering Jonathan’s strange words, before his eyes light up.~
Peter Vaughn: Ah, hell. Is that thing today? I thought it was next week…
Jonathan Barrows: It’s today, and we need to be there in two hours!
Peter Vaughn: Okay, okay, don’t burst a blood vessel down there. I can get cleaned up relatively fast. They don’t mind a bit of sweat, do they? It might make it a little more special for them…
~Barrows doesn’t have an audible answer for this question, but it’s clear from his facial expression that he doesn’t agree. Vaughn shrugs.~
Peter Vaughn: We’re still working on running water here, so Clorox Wipes are going to have to do. I’ll be down in a… WHOA!!
~All of the sudden, the tile under Vaughn’s right foot gives way, sliding down towards the edge of the roof. It goes flying off, as Vaughn tumbles after it, rolling, trying to regain his balance. Barrows gasps, running forward, watching Vaughn cling to the edge of the roof for a perilous moment. Somehow, though, Vaughn hangs on, as another roofer hurries over to help him up. They both sit on the edge of the roof, with Vaughn breathing heavily.~
Peter Vaughn: Make that… 13 tiles… baker’s dozen… not usually that lucky….
Jonathan Barrows: Are you alright??
Peter Vaughn: Never better… but y’know, after careful thought… I think I’ll take the ladder down instead…
Jonathan Barrows: That sounds like a damn good idea.
~Vaughn and the roofer carefully get up, with Vaughn thanking him one more time before slowly making his way over to where the large ladder has been set up on the east side of the ranch house. He starts on his way down, making sure to step on every rung, as we cut away.~
January 16th, 2022
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Doctor: Trust me, we’re going to do everything we can.
~The doctor nods to the group in front of him, then turns and walks off. The group slowly disperses, with some taking a heavy seat to the side while others venture off, needing to clear their heads or maybe find a snack. The camera follows one of the individuals departing, heading off down the hall. Once he’s far enough away from the crowd, Jonathan Barrows gets on his cell phone, selecting the number he wants instantly.~
Jonathan Barrows: Hey, it’s me. Yeah. Yeah, it’s bad. Even worse than we thought.
~Jonathan rubs his free hand across his forehead, as if battling a headache. He closes his eyes, listening to the person talking for a moment.~
Jonathan Barrows: No. No, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I realize it puts some of our plans in jeopardy… now don’t talk like that to me, I didn’t make this happen.
~For a second, Barrows looked angry, showing a side of himself that usually was only displayed inside the squared circle, when he wore a mask and called himself “Pryde”. He looks around, noticing that a nurse is glancing his way, and quickly tones his voice back down.~
Jonathan Barrows: Look, just start contacting some of your sources. We need to find an orthopedic specialist, someone top of the line. Maybe they can get sent here to give a second opinion, give us some options, anything…
~The voice on the other end of the phone can be heard agreeing with the decision, although it’s hard to make out individual words from this distance. Barrows seems mollified, though, nodding quietly along.~
Jonathan Barrows: Okay, that’s a good plan. We need to spare no expense here to get this taken care of. We’ll talk again soon. Goodbye.
~Barrows hangs up the call, placing the phone back on his belt. He sighs and turns, deciding to go find a good cup of coffee. That won’t be easy in a hospital. As he walks away, the camera pans to the window and the parking lot outside.~
January 17th, 2022
So let’s take a look at the competition. There’s a hell of a lot, isn’t there?
This Dickie Watson guy, I’ve heard about him. Thought it was Dickie Waters, but maybe that was just a bad press release. I’m actually going to be meeting him in the first round of the PW Valor Tournament, so I guess we’ll already be well acquainted. I know he likes to brag about being the Empire Champion for six months or so. I suppose that makes him king of this particular mountain. You know, there’s nothing I like better than crowning a new king.
Actually, I like crowning the old king as well. Maybe I can find a good set of mouse ears to break across his head. Nah, not painful enough. Well, I’ll figure out something.
I remember Shawn Warstein from the GCWA. That guy’s a pain in the ass. Always does whatever he wants, breaks shit, and never apologizes. Honestly, I hated him back in the day. Now he’s almost a role model. But that won’t stop me from throwing him off the top of Space Mountain if I get the chance. He’s a name, and names are what I’m looking forward to annihilating.
It’d be a hell of a Plunge from the top, don’t you think?
Centurion is a bona fide legend, no question. I’ve been watching him step up his game even further over the past few months, getting out there and wrestling every match he can. Honestly, I’m trying to do the same thing, so I can respect that. Although I’m a hell of a lot younger, but hey, he can still go. Props to him for that.
That said, if I could eliminate both Watson, Warstein, AND Centurion? I’d be a made man. The wrestling world would finally have to acknowledge that I deserve to be high up on that Top 100 list at the end of 2022. I won’t lie; if I see a top star in front of me, I’m going right for them, no questions asked. I want them to curse my name at night.
Let’s see, next to Cent, we have…
It seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it, James? After being in the bottom tier for so long, I made my way to the top of OCW, becoming World Champion with that ultimate beat-down of Outcast. The question was, who would be the #1 contender? Xavier Lux? Ed Houston? Betsy? No, no, you decided to appoint yourself the #1 contender, and all of the sudden it was going to be Peter Vaughn vs. James Raven for a World Championship.
And then it all got blown to a billion bits with OCW going to shit.
I won’t lie. I sat up at night for weeks afterwards, thinking about it. My dream match. Ruined. It just didn’t seem fair. It didn’t seem real. Honestly, that probably played a major role in my departure from OCW. That’s right, unlike you, I wasn’t thrown out the door. I went out on my own, flipping them off on the way out.
But I’ve never stopped thinking about that match. Not once. Hell, I’m looking forward to fighting Mike “The Raven” Knox in PW Valor just because of the name, even if it won’t be the same. But the chance to actually find you in Disney World, find you and go one on one with the one that got away?
Oh, you know that’s going to be one of my top priorities, tracking you down. Please don’t disappoint me and get knocked out early. At least let me track you down and finally get to fire away punch after punch in your direction. Let me get the chance to finally fight the legendary James Raven and show him that Peter Vaughn is just as talented, just as amazing, just as dangerous.
It won’t be the same as a one-on-one match. I know that. Logically, I understand. But deep in my soul, it wouldn’t matter. I’d still love just the chance to beat the ever-living hell out of you, once and for all.
~Barrows is still waiting impatiently by his car outside the ranch. A few workers walk by, saying something to each other in rapid Spanish. Barrows stiffens; it’s not really remembered by many that he’s fluent in the language. He glares at the two leaving, but before he can say anything, the front door of the house bangs open and Peter Vaughn comes out. He’s dressed a little better, in a polo shirt and jeans. He approaches Barrows, raising his slightly reddened arms towards him.~
Peter Vaughn: How do I smell?
~Barrows looks a little displeased with the question, but he nonetheless leans in and takes a sniff.~
Jonathan Barrows: Less sweaty. More lemony.
Peter Vaughn: Perfect. Just what I was going for. Let’s head out. We’re… going in that?
~Peter stares scornfully at Barrows’ ride.~
Peter Vaughn: Why don’t we just take my truck? It’ll be both faster and safer.
Jonathan Barrows: Not a chance.
Peter Vaughn: Why not?
Jonathan Barrows: Because I already had to drive all the way out here. I don’t want to have to get driven all the way back, just to do a return trip.
Peter Vaughn: But… you’re going to have to bring me back anyways…
Jonathan Barrows: … Well, shit.
Peter Vaughn: We can just take separate vehicles…
Jonathan Barrows: No, we need to talk before the event. Damn it. Fine, let’s take your truck then, at least I’ll save on some gas.
~The two men get into Vaughn’s dark red truck, a beauty he purchased as soon as he became the OCW World Champion. It’s also become a life lesson: don’t spend like the money is always going to be there. Then again, he’s renovating a house now, so maybe that lesson hasn’t quite sunk in yet. The truck pulls away, heading up the road and leaving the workers to fend for themselves for the day. The camera view shifts around, showing us inside the truck.~
Jonathan Barrows: So… when were you going to tell me?
Peter Vaughn: I’m going to need more information, chief…
Jonathan Barrows: That answer insinuates you’re hiding more than one secret from me…
~Vaughn doesn’t say a word. He just grins as he drives along the highway, causing Jonathan to fiddle with his seat belt in annoyance.~
Jonathan Barrows: Fine. When were you going to tell me about Chris Page and CCP Enterprises?
Peter Vaughn: Ahhh, that. Yes, well, I figured I wouldn’t need to tell you. It became front page news in the wrestling world, didn’t it?
Jonathan Barrows: Let’s be serious, Peter. I’ve been managing your wrestling career for the last year. Why the sudden switch?
~There’s a small note of hurt in Barrow’s voice, but it doesn’t fool Vaughn. He knows the man sitting next to him, better than Jonathan could even suspect. He doesn’t reveal any of this, however, keeping it to himself for now.~
Peter Vaughn: It was nothing personal, Jonathan. You should realize that by the fact that you’re still in charge of my finances and some of my business deals. But you’ve mostly moved out of the wrestling world. I need someone still connected who can get me the support I need. You know Bam’s signed with him too? And I know other Exiles are talking with him…
Jonathan Barrows: I’m sure you want to keep everyone united in that way, but I could’ve…
Peter Vaughn: So far, I’ve been extremely impressed with what he’s done in only a short time. He’s gotten under Jim Caedus’ skin in the XWF, and he’s working to get me fair treatment in TPW. Just look at what Chris has already managed in Fight, signing me to the Blood Money 2 match.
Jonathan Barrows: I know you’re excited to be in other venues, but doesn’t this one sound a little… chaotic? Brawling through Disney World?
Peter Vaughn: What kid HASN’T wanted to throw down with Goofy?? Or brawl with Chip & Dale?
Jonathan Barrows: Er…
Peter Vaughn: It’s going to be a once in a lifetime thrill, Jonathan. Grabbing a sword in Pirates of the Caribbean. Smashing someone upside the head with one of those animatronic horrors. Now, if we’re in the Magic Kingdom and they keep singing “It’s A Small World After All”, I might lose my mind, but otherwise, it should be a blast!
~Vaughn turns onto a major highway. They’re beginning to approach the Dallas/Ft Worth area now, so traffic is definitely picking up.~
Jonathan Barrows: I get that you’re excited, but you know, I could have probably gotten you that invite too…
Peter Vaughn: But you didn’t, Jonathan, and that’s fine. With CCP Enterprises backing me and with the Exiles growing in numbers every day, I’m really gaining everything I need to be a constant force on the wrestling circuit. I’m going to prove to Fight how dangerous I am, eliminating 4, 8, a dozen wrestlers just by myself. And when I’m there at the end, the only thing they’ll be able to say is…
Jonathan Barrows: LOOK OUT!!!!
~Vaughn’s eyes widen as he and Jonathan see what’s happening ahead of them. A van has pulled out onto the highway at the worst moment, getting in front of an eighteen-wheeler. The massive vehicle slams on its brakes and begins to jackknife, swinging its rig back and forth.~
Jonathan Barrows: FFUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKK!!!!!!!
~As Jonathan yells out, Vaughn’s grip tightens on the wheel, and he suddenly lets his foot off the brakes and accelerates instead. It seems like madness, but in truth, Vaughn, on instinct, saw the one opening in the swinging of the trailer, and knew he had to get through. His truck responds beautifully, with a burst of power, and they surge through the small gap, avoiding the potentially deadly impact. In just a few seconds, they’re through, on the other side of the event. Barrows looks back over his shoulder, greedily gasping for air for a moment before speaking.~
Jonathan Barrows: I… I think… I think everyone else was far enough… back… holy shit, that was close…
Peter Vaughn: Yeah… I’m glad we brought Gabriela with us instead of your car. She came through for us.
~Vaughn pats the dashboard top with affection as they continue down the highway. Jonathan takes a few more deep breaths, then slowly looks over at Vaughn.~
Jonathan Barrows: …. Gabriela?
~Vaughn doesn’t respond, concentrating on the road. His pulse rate has definitely increased as well, but for Vaughn, it’s brought an adrenaline-induced smile to his face. We cut away from the drive, showing the short grass flying by outside the window..~
January 16th, 2022
UT Southwestern Medical Center
~The camera shows the pleasant, if windy, day outside and turns around, leaving the window behind to bring us back to the hospital. Jonathan Barrows is pacing back and forth, still looking agitated. A voice is heard down the hall, yelling towards him.~
Bam Miller: BARROWS!!
~You don’t normally hear such a bellowing voice in a hospital setting, so naturally everyone’s attention gets drawn to the two men walking up the hallway. Barrows turns to them, nodding to Bam, then, after a hesitation, nodding to the second man as well: Chris Page.~
Jonathan Barrows: Thank you for coming…
Chris Page: Don’t worry about it. I know it took a lot for you to call me. I can respect that. How is he?
~Barrows gestures for them to move to the side, to avoid attracting any more attention. It doesn’t seem like Miller or Page care that much, but they nonetheless follow him over to the seats, even if none of them sit down.~
Jonathan Barrows: He’s… he’s not good. The doctors… the doctors don’t seem too optimistic.
Chris Page: Doctors are wrong all the time.
Bam Miller: Where do we find them?
Jonathan Barrows: Room 212-B. I’ll… I’ll take you there.
~It’s clear that Barrows still isn’t comfortable having Page there, but sometimes you have to put rivalries aside. The three men move off, heading for the elevator. A few of the hospital visitors nearby breathe a sigh of relief, glad to see them leaving. We leave them behind, beginning a climb upwards to the second floor.~
January 17th, 2022
When I was young, my Dad told me that I always had to be a gentleman.
That meant always getting the door for people. It meant always saying “Please” and “Thank you”. It certainly meant don’t strike at women with your fists.
My dad was a very classy janitor, for sure.
But now that I’m in the wrestling business, I have no choice but to put his wishes aside. We don’t worry about genders anymore in this day and age. After all, every person deserves to be shown the same respect inside the squared circle, as well as outside. Everything should be equal. I mean, I believe strongly in equal rights and equal pay, and I’m glad everyone’s getting paid the same for a match like this.
At least, I’m assuming that’s the case. I’m leaving that up to others to worry about.
So when it comes to fighting wrestlers like Ashlynn Cassidy… Lycana… Todrick Tabor-Ramsey… Vhodka Black… Druscilla White… Ophelia Pain-Pinkston… well, I’m going to show them every bit of respect I can muster by not backing down. It would be like spitting in their faces if I didn’t go 110 percent against them, and I’m not going to do that.
Let’s talk about the Fenix sisters, who I know are having some issues with each other right now. I get along with both of them, for the most part. I participated in the Tara Fenix Charity Cruise, and Jinxie is currently dating one of my allies, Ricky Rodriguez. But would either one of them want me to “go easy” on them?
The answer is no. They’re fighters, after all. #FenixForever.
I’ve known Alice Knight for years as well, although we’ve never been particularly close. She’s always been a funny lunatic with her owl calls and mustard. I gotta say, I’ve never been as sure about her wrestling ability as her ability to get into opponent’s heads and mess around in there. But I hope she stays out of my head. It’s… not pretty in there. A lady could get trapped in there forever.
Betsy Granger, my ally in the Exiles. I respect her tremendously, with all her talents. She is an epic competitor who can channel her darkness better than almost anyone.
I won’t go after her right away. After all, we have an alliance of our own, even if it’s not recognized in Fight. But I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s waiting there near the end, the time when alliances and friendships will finally be put aside for the greater goal of victory. Betsy, if it comes down to it, may the best wrestler win.
I know you’ll give your all. So will I. Always.
~Vaughn’s truck, now known officially by its name as Gabriela, makes it way into the turn, pulling into the parking lot of the NorthPark Center mall.~
Peter Vaughn: So where do we park? This mall isn’t exactly small, you know.
Jonathan Barrows: I don’t think it matters. The event is at the CenterPark Gardens, which is…
Peter Vaughn: At the center of the mall, yeah, gotcha. In that case, I’ll park by Dillard’s.
~Vaughn begins to bring the truck around to the south side of the parking lot, looking around for a series of parking spaces for clearance, to protect Gabriela.~
Peter Vaughn: I don’t understand why we’re doing a meet & greet, really, Jonathan. Not in 2022.
Jonathan Barrows: It’s been a rough few years, Peter. The fans want to see their idols, and you want to be one, don’t you?
Peter Vaughn: Yeah, but… having to shake so many hands with the general public…
Jonathan Barrows: You got all your booster shots, right?
Peter Vaughn: That’s not the point.
~Vaughn pulls the truck into a spot that looks good, close to the building but not overly populated. At least, not yet. He locks it into park and shuts off the engine, getting out, with Barrows joining him.~
Jonathan Barrows: You know the wrestling business, Peter. You need to have some fan support on your side, even if those fans are the ones who love to hate you. That’s the only way to truly get yourself over the way you’re wanting. It’s part of the path to becoming a legend.
Peter Vaughn: Ugh… I suppose so…
~Almost as if to prove Barrows’ point, a shout is heard from the mall entrance.~
Fan: It’s him!! It’s Peter Vaughn!!!
~Vaughn and Barrows turn and look as a young man starts jogging in their direction. He’s probably 12 or 13, and already a wrestling fan for life, judging by the Fight! NYC shirt he’s sporting. Vaughn weakly smiles and raises a hand towards him for a wave. After a second, though, Vaughn glances to his left, his peripheral vision having captured what’s coming: a fancy sports car moving way too fast in a public parking lot.~
Peter Vaughn: …..
~Time seems to slow down and almost stop. Vaughn’s eyes darted between the car, to the running young man, back to the car. We can see the driver of the sports car, holding his cell phone in one hand, just starting to react to what’s in front of him. The young man doesn’t realize what’s coming yet, as his attention is still on Vaughn. But he’s noticed something, as his head is beginning to turn…~
Peter Vaughn: No…
January 16th, 2022
~Vaughn takes a step forward, then stops, his eyes transfixed on the scene in front of him. He then takes a longer step, as if preparing to spring. But there’s just no time left. The sports car driver hits his brakes, causing his tires to shriek in protest. The young man starts to hop to his right… and then the car hits him, right across the legs. The teenager is sent flying into the air, cartwheeling freely, an amazing yet hideous sight. He comes flying down, crashing to the ground, as the sports car finally comes to a stop. Immediately upon impact, time speeds up again, as Vaughn slides in next to the youth. A woman’s scream can be heard: the young man’s mother, who brought him just to see a top wrestler. Vaughn spins to Jonathan.~
Peter Vaughn: CALL 911!! NOW!!!
~Jonathan scrambles to comply, even as Vaughn kneels over the badly injured youth. The driver gets out, sputtering about how he never saw him. If Vaughn had any ability to focus right now, he’d probably be ripping the driver’s head off. But his attention is fully devoted to the fallen fan in front of him, even as the mother drops to her knees next to her son, sobbing in fear. The camera zooms upwards, away from the scene, as the scene quickly devolves into chaos.~
UT Southwestern Medical Center
~The elevator doors open with that familiar “Ding”. Jonathan Barrows, Bam Miller, and Chris Page step out, with Barrows directing them down the hall. The numbers go by on the doors… 206… 208… 210… and finally the series of rooms for 212. The door is open, so all three step inside. A single bed is inside 212-B, with the young fan from earlier laying in it. He’s heavily bandaged and elevated to keep pressure off his injured spine. There are two people off to the left, the mother and likely the father. Both have been shedding tears freely, now deeply concerned about the future of their child. On the right, sitting in his own chair, is Peter Vaughn. His face is extremely hard to read at the moment.~
Jonathan Barrows: Hey, Peter. Got some visitors for you.
~Vaughn turns, seeing the trio, and gets up, walking over to them. Bam slaps a hand on Vaughn’s back, greeting him.~
Bam Miller: How are you doing, brother?
Chris Page: We came as soon as we heard.
Peter Vaughn: I appreciate it. Truly. The news is… pretty bad.
~Vaughn talks quietly, trying not to be overheard by the parents, although they appear to be lost in their own world of misery.~
Peter Vaughn: He’s got a broken leg and fractures in his hip, but the main concern is his spine. The doctors… they don’t know if he’ll ever walk again…
Chris Page: We’ll find better doctors, don’t you worry.
Bam Miller: Miracles happen every fucking day.
~Vaughn nods slowly, as if barely hearing their comments. Jonathan Barrows, meanwhile, steps around them, walking over to the parents.~
Jonathan Barrows: Mr. & Mrs. Kimble, are you both doing okay? I want you to know that Pryde Industries will do whatever is needed to help your son through this traumatic event. We will spare no expense to get him the best care.
~It’s a clear power move from Barrows, stepping in before Page can say anything, but if this bothers Page, he doesn’t let it show. He and Bam step over as well, introducing themselves and offering their sympathies.~
Mother: Th-thank you to all of you for being here. If William was awake… I’m sure… he’d love to see you… he loves wrestling… so much…
Bam Miller: We’ll hang out for a little while. Let me at least sign the kid’s cast.
~Miller steps around to the young man’s side, leaning over him. In the meantime, Page steps over to Barrows, who glances at him… then around him…~
Jonathan Barrows: Where’s Peter?
~Both men turn and look back. Vaughn has disappeared through the door, off to who knows where. Barrows and Page share a look, then quickly turn as one and head out as well to try and track him down. There’s no telling what Vaughn could do right now in his current state.~
January 17th, 2022
You can’t predict what’s going to happen in life. You can only deal with the aftermath.
A year ago, I was still trying to claw my way out of the basement at the GCWA. I was just struggling to stay at the top of a backyard fed called Outsiders, with my main competitor being a guy who wrestled out of a wheelchair.
I mean, he was decent, don’t get me wrong… but I never should have been there.
Since then, I’ve climbed the ladder to three championships. I’ve joined up in special events, competing in front of brand new audiences. I’ve found allies all over, people who I never thought would be willing to give a guy like me the time of day. And from all of that, I’ve found the confidence that I’d always been missing before.
I belong here now.
I’m sure every active roster member of Fight will consider me someone to watch, but they’ll be expecting one of their own to come out the victor at Disney World. They’re all expecting themselves to be the Mickey or Minnie, the Simba or Elsa, on top of the pile when all is said and done.
In a way, I’d be the Quasimodo that they’d never be expecting.
I lived in isolation for so long, away from everyone. I watched from my janitorial tower, unable to participate but loving everything I saw. And when I finally came out… many turned their noses at me, at my looks, at my wrestling style. They said “Why the fuck is a Janitor here?”
There was zero respect at first.
But I persevered. I kept fighting. I wanted my freedom, and I wasn’t going to let anyone take that away from me. If it meant burning everything down… I WOULD BE FREE.
And here I sit. My prison has been removed. I’m my own man. And no matter what people think of me now, it doesn’t matter.
I’m a champion. I’m a hero. And I’m coming for all of you. Prepare for a torrential downpour of The Plunge.
UT Southwestern Medical Center
~We find ourselves on the roof of the UT Southwestern Medical Hospital. It’s probably not an easy place to get to, but somehow, Peter Vaughn has found a way. He’s standing near the edge of the roof, similarly to how he was standing the day before on his own ranch house. His face shows none of the enjoyment it seemed to have then, however. It’s still a blank slate as he looks downwards at the people and vehicles below him. A short distance away, a door can be heard banging open. Vaughn doesn’t even bother to glance over, still keeping his eyes on the scene below.~
Chris Page: How’s the view?
~Page walks slowly towards Vaughn’s direction. He’s not rushing anything, taking it nice and easy as he approaches Vaughn. The man doesn’t answer, though, as he stares out into the abyss.~
Chris Page: We’re going to get that young man the help he needs. Kids like him are young enough to bounce back from almost anything. I have no doubts that he WILL walk again, it’ll just take hard work. We’ll get there.
Peter Vaughn: I’m glad to hear it.
~The words don’t match the tone, as Vaughn doesn’t appear to be glad about anything right now. His foot twitches on the brick edge, before settling back down. Page is watching closely as he takes another step in Vaughn’s direction.~
Chris Page: What’s going through your head, champ?
Peter Vaughn: I could have saved him, you know.
Chris Page: The kid? It may feel like that, but…
Peter Vaughn: It’s not just a feeling. I KNOW I could have gotten there in time. I saw the car coming. I put it together immediately. I started to react… and then I stopped. I just… stopped.
~Vaughn looks down at his hands, flexing them back and forth into fists. It’s almost like he’s studying them, how they work, having forgotten.~
Chris Page: You never know what you’re going to do when put in a situation like that. From what I heard, the car was speeding towards you. I can’t blame you for hesitating.
Peter Vaughn: But it wasn’t fear, Chris. Fear never entered into the equation.
~Puzzled by this, Page inches closer, while trying not to show it. Vaughn hasn’t yet reacted to his movements, still focused forward.~
Peter Vaughn: It was logic, Chris. My brain reminded me that if I got hurt, I couldn’t defend my title. I couldn’t face Jim Caedus. I couldn’t fight at Blood Money 2. I’ve put so much into this… that my body wouldn’t move. My brain weighed the pros and cons of jumping forward, of being the hero… and it weighed against the kid.
~Page has no words for this sort of admission. He just waits, knowing that Vaughn needs to get all of this out.~
Peter Vaughn: You know the worst part? It was sitting down there in the hospital room and listening to his parents sob. I should have felt terrible for not doing everything I could. I should have been blaming myself for not acting, cursing myself, maybe crying my eyes out as well. But I haven’t shed a single tear. Not one.
~The wrestler looks once more at the drop in front of him, before taking a step… backwards. After a few steps, Vaughn turns and looks at Page, who can’t quite hide his relief that they’re a little further from the edge.~
Peter Vaughn: I’m not sure what’s happening to me, Chris. Sometimes I wonder: are the emotions I’m showing to the world real? Or am I an actor playing a role? And I don’t know, Chris. I don’t know what that makes me.
~After a few seconds, Page walks up and puts an arm on Vaughn’s shoulder, gaining his full attention.~
Chris Page: That’s what makes you successful, Peter.
~Both men turn and stare out into the darkening sky, as a storm front appears to be moving in. They quietly observe everything before them, as the picture slowly zooms away and fades out.~
January 17th, 2022