By: Ryan Elias
Date: 15th Jul 2021
DAYS AGO AND SOMEWHERE ELSE
“Move it dirtbag.” A solid kick to the side followed. Ryan curled into the fetal position and closed his eyes. “This came for you.” A box fell to the ground next to Ryan’s head.
As the man stomped off Ryan pulled himself up to a seated position back against the wall. For a long moment he simply looked down on the box and stared his mind racing over what it was. Three weeks ago he had awoken in a field, no memories, nothing, and now someone was sending him a package. Curiosity took over and Ryan pulled the brown paper off the wooden box and flipped open the lid. Inside a sticky note with an address and the words ‘thank you.’ Using the wall for support Ryan slid up to his feet and began walking, gripping the sticky note tight.
07/15/2021 UPSTATE NEW YORK
Ryan stepped off the bus onto the dirt road and looked down at the sticky note. At the end of the dirt road on a decaying wood sign was the address that matches his note. Ryan let the note flutter away from his hand and began walking down the road. Seconds turned to minutes, and minutes to an hour before he arrived at the small building. On the wooden door of the wooden building there sat a sign that read. ‘I have been waiting for you.’
Ominous as it were, Elias pushed the door open and stepped over the threshold. Inside rows of pews were lined up, and a podium stood on a very modest stage at the far end of the building. “I see you finally made it.” A voice came up from behind Elias. “I am sure you have many questions and we will answer them in time. For now please have a seat.” The man motioned with a dirty hand to a nearby pew.
Elias took a seat and took in the man before him. Dirty jeans, sweat soaked grey shirt, and mud covered boots betrayed what would normally be the expectation in this setting. “Who?…”
The man interrupted him with a wave of the hand as he withdrew a glass of water from a nearby pew. “We will have time for questions later, what is important is what must be done. I know you don’t remember anything, that is a blessing for you son. It will allow this process to go much more easily.” Elias felt an anger rise up within him as the man spoke, as if there was someone inside trying to get out.
“Suppress that feeling, don’t let it out son. I will remove the pain completely, make you whole again.” The man placed his hand on Ryan’s forehead and smiled. “That demon will no longer fight you, no longer try to control you, it will be gone when I am done.” At that moment Ryan felt his arms pull back and his body being lifted from the pew. Then darkness after a sharp pain in the back of his head.
Ryan awoke a fog filling his vision as his eyes opened. Instantly he realized he couldn’t move, his arms were tied at the wrist, his legs at the ankle, and he was prone on his back. “Give him the shot, he’s awake!” A voice yelled just as Ryan felt a pinch in his neck and everything faded out again.
“Did it work?” Ryan heard a man ask as if in a dream.
“I think it did, the demon should be gone.” Another dreamlike voice.
“He was sedated, but he fought so much, I have never seen that before.” The first voice floated in.
“It was a powerful demon, but it is gone.” A third voice interjected as Ryan tried to open his eyes. The fog overwhelmed him and the darkness took back over.
“He’s still out.” A dreamlike voice said.
“His body has been through a lot of stress, I am not surprised.” Another dreamlike voice.
“Think he will remember anything?” The first voice asked.
“He will be a blank slate, that’s why we have to give him this address and make sure he makes it back to the tower. He wanted to be free of the demon and now he is, but I doubt it will go all that well for him.” The second voice floated in and then everything went blank.
“You ok boy?” The bottom of the man’s boot pushed against the side of Ryan as he asked the question. Ryan stirred awake and looked around.
“Where am I?” he asked.
“Downtown New York!” The man said. “Thought you might be dead, was gonna take your shoes.”
Ryan glanced at his shoes and stood up. “My shoes?” he asked as he scanned the man, seeing the disheveled clothes, the matted hair, he instantly knew the answer to his own question. “Nevermind.” He said with a dismissive wave, realizing then he had a piece of paper clutched in his hand. He unfolded the paper and read it.
‘Though you don’t remember, and you probably never will, you were given everything you ever wanted and we can only hope that you truly appreciate it. Your future will continue at this address.’
Ryan crumpled up the paper and dropped it on the ground as he started to walk, trying to find his bearings. His memories faded in and out, as if his eyes were open underwater and then closed again. He tried to focus on them, but they kept coming and going with each step. “You ok?” some asked as he passed but Ryan just kept walking.
At the back of his brain he could feel a tugging, a pull against his current action, as if someone was trying to take control. ‘Remember who you are!’ He kept telling himself in his own mind, or was that someone else? He couldn’t tell. The voice sounded like his, but it felt foreign to him.
A collision of shoulders sent Ryan stumbling and the instinct was to strike, but he held back as he spun around and slammed into someone else, then another, before he knew it Ryan was retreating down an alley. ‘Remember who you are!’ He said out loud as he came to a stop bent over with both hands on his knees.
Three deep breaths later Ryan emerged from the alley. He pulled in another deep breath and opened his eyes to see the FIGHT tower right in front of him, there over the front door were the numbers on the paper he was handed. This was where he was supposed to be, or so he thought.
Minutes passed as Ryan stood motionless staring at the building before him. Finally his left foot moved forward, then his right, ‘You are not ready!’ the voice in his head yelled at him prompting Ryan to stop mid stride in the middle of the road. Horns blared at him but Ryan didn’t budge. ‘We are not ready yet!’ the voice said again.
Ryan shook his head to clear his mind and began to walk again. ‘The meld is not finished, we need time.’ the voice came again, Ryan once more freezing. Horns continued to blare all around him but Ryan didn’t move. Suddenly a memory flashed into his mind, the wooden building, the sticky note that led him there. As fast as it came it was gone and again Ryan shook out his mind and stepped forward, the marquee scrolling announced that tonight was Venom.
‘We are not ready.’ The voice said, but Ryan pushed past it and stepped into the building.
“Welcome Mr. Elias.” Someone greeted him at the door as he walked through.
“Are you talking to me?” Ryan asked.
“You are Ryan Elias are you not?” The man asked.
“Um…yeah sure, sounds good.” ‘Ryan Elias.’ Ryan said under his breath, the thought of what his own name was hadn’t even crossed his mind to this point.
“Well sir, right this way.” The man ushered for Ryan to follow him, and Ryan did so with a smile and head nod.
“Looking forward to your match up with Allison tonight?” the man asked.
“Yeah sure, it should be fun.” Ryan replied, his eyes darting from wall to wall, taking in everything around him.
“I don’t know if one would classify it as fun, but it will be interesting to say the least.” The man said as he pushed the call button for the elevator. “I must admit, we were worried that you wouldn’t make it. I assume you found your way, were you able to find what you needed?”
“Yeah sure.” Ryan said as he stared at himself in the mirror, he marveled at the sight, it was as if he was seeing his own face for the first time in the reflection of the doors. With his lack of memory, he for all intents and purposes was seeing his face for the first time.
“You seem confused sir.” The man stated as they waited for the elevator.
“A lot on my mind.” Ryan replied as he ran his hand over his head.
“I would try to not be overly distracted sir, Allison is not a pushover.” The man stated as the doors for the elevator opened. Reaching inside the man pressed the door for the desired floor. “When you exit, go left, it is the room at the end of the hallway.”
“What is?” Ryan asked.
“Your room sir.” The man said with a puzzled look as the doors slid shut.
The doors slid open and Ryan stepped out of the elevator and made a left. There were two doors, one to the right, and one to the left. Ryan moved for his door and just as he reached down to open it he heard an audible click. The handle rotated with ease and Ryan stepped over the threshold.
Lights in the room came to life, and the TV turned on. A man on the screen began talking and Ryan sat down on the couch to watch. “You have a lot of questions, in time you will get answers. It may take days for you to figure out what is happening but for now you need to focus on the fact that you will have to fight tonight. You may not remember how, you may not be very good but you will have to fight. Try and relax, because if you survive things will change forever.” The screen went blank and Ryan just stared at it, there reflecting in the dark screen was his face, the same face as the man that had just spoken to him on the screen.
He had just told himself to get ready to fight. But the only question Ryan had right now was, why? As he turned away from the TV Ryan caught a glimpse of his gear, and the phone rang. He grabbed it. “IT IS TIME! GET TO THE ARENA RIGHT NOW!” a voice told him over the phone. Ryan dropped the phone and moved for the door, it swung open and he stepped out into the hallway.
“Right this way sir.” The man from the lobby said. “Your match is about to start.” A different set of elevator doors opened and Ryan found himself pushed into the elevator car. “Good luck sir.” The man from the lobby smiled as the doors shut, the next destination for Ryan, a match with Allison Preston-Riggs.