Knives Out

By: Kasey Winterborn

Date: 25th Aug 2021

The weight inside her chest made it hard to breathe. The roar of the crowd was nothing more than a dull buzz, and she couldnít focus on anything other than the entrance ramp. She just needed to slide out of the ring and make her way thereÖ The dull, aching throb in the back of her head intensified as she rolled under the bottom rope and dropped to the floor. Which ended up being a bit of a mistake as her vision blurred and she stumbled back slightly. She threw out her hand to steady herself against the ring apron, and once her vision was cleared she slowly began making her way up the ramp. She thought she heard someone calling her name, but it sounded tinny and distant. All she could focus on was getting up the ramp and to the backstage so that she could gather her things and get the hell out of this building.

Finally, she pushed through the black curtain and stumbled to the backstage area, while a few crew members threw her a few concerned glances. When they tried to help her, she waved them off with a flick of her wrist as she leaned up against a production crate to catch her breath. Only a little further to go, she thought to herself. Then I can just get out of here and

A sudden but gentle hand on her shoulder startled her slightly, and she whipped her head around (and then immediately regretted it) to see Shawn Warstein giving her a concerned look. But instead of giving him a warm, caring smile like she usually would, she just shook her head sadly and turned her gaze back to her intertwined fingers resting atop the crate.

Hey, you hustled out of there pretty damn quick. Everything OK?” he asked, gently rubbing in between her shoulder blades.

It took every fiber of her being not to throw herself into his arms and break down in front of him, though her voice wavered a little bit when she spoke. “Yeah, fine. Just…got a little woozy after the match. Got dropped pretty hard at the end there, felt like I was gonna throw up. Didnít really wanna do that in front of the fans, yunno?

Well, you could have waited for me. I would have helped you out.

This time, she gave him a half-smile. “I was OK. Besides, I didnít want to interrupt your fun.” She tried to straighten up, but a wave of dizziness overtook her and she stumbled again, though Shawn was quick to catch her up in his arms. He carried her back to their locker room area, where they gathered up their things to get ready to leave the arena.

Later, as they were driving back to Shawnís home, she could feel the sideways glances he was throwing her way every few seconds, and she let out a sigh. “I can feel you staring.

Just making sure youíre not falling asleep or anything. You did get dropped on your head pretty badly tonight.

She looked over at him with an expression that clearly conveyed she wasnít buying his bull. “Uh huh,” she deadpanned.

OK, OK…Iím just worried Ďcause youíre just not really acting like yourself tonight. I just hope youíre not taking that loss too hard. Dude got stupid lucky, knocked you silly and took advantage of it.” He picked up one of her hands and pressed a kiss to the back of it. “Youíre still one hell of a fighter, and youíll come back from this better than ever.

She was quiet for a moment, before turning her gaze back out the window to watch New York speed past. “Yeah, I know. But for right now, I just want to be sad about it for a little while.

Shawn just nodded and gave her hand a quick reassuring squeeze as they continued to drive on. The next morning… Sitting at the kitchen island dressed in one of Shawnís oversized T-shirts and her hair thrown up in a messy bun, Kasey sipped at the cup of coffee cradled in her hands as she absently stared out the window with a small, serene smile on her face. The sound of footsteps drew her attention, and she turned to see Shawn walking into the kitchen. Her smile grew wider as he walked up to her and wrapped his arms around her from behind.

Feeling better this morning?” he asked, his voice still rough from sleep.

I am,” she answered. “Your particular methods of…cheering me up last night were extremely helpful.

He chuckled and dropped a kiss on the top of her head. “I aim to please.” He walked over to the main counter to fix himself a cup of coffee.

Not only that, but I just got this little piece of info this morning as well,” she said, holding up her phone to show him the graphic displayed on the screen. It was a vibrant neon green match card for the Toxic Tag pay per view coming up, showcasing a four way match between Kasey, Valkyrie, Todrick Tabor and JJ Starfire for an opportunity at the Manhattan title.

A smile appeared on Shawnís face as he hugged Kasey tightly. “See? What did I tell you? This is your bounce back. Youíre gonna kick their asses, get that title shot, and then go on and get that title.

His enthusiasm was infectious, and soon Kasey was smiling just as wide as he was. “Well, letís not get too ahead of ourselves. Just gonna take things one step at a time. Gonna keep my focus on Toxic Tag for now, and getting that title shot.” She got up from her stool, kissed Shawn on the cheek and went to leave the kitchen, before turning back and collecting the handful of small throwing knives that had been sitting there.

Shawnís eyes widened slightly as he watched her pick them up. “Uh, babe? Whatcha…whatcha doing with those?

Oh, just sharpened them up a bit. Gonna do a little target practice later.” She gave him a wink as she disappeared from the kitchen.

Blinking a few times with a shocked look on his face, he instinctively moved one hand over his crotch before shuddering and walking out of the kitchen to follow Kasey. ———– THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. The rhythmic sound of metal meeting wood opened up the scene, centering on the feisty, fiery redhead of Fight! NYC known as Kasey Winterborn. The lanky beauty had a focused, determined look on her face and a handful of throwing knives as her dark brown eyes stared ahead to the plank of wood set up a good ten feet away from her. Raising her right hand in which she gripped a knife by its handle, she gave a well-practiced flick of her wrist, twirling the blade in the air and catching it on the sharp side before letting it fly through the air towards the wood, where it sunk in with a resounding THUNK. A satisfied smile appeared on her face as she turned towards the camera lens, idly twirling another knife in her hand.

Well, all good things must come to an end, right? Not that I was expecting my good luck to last forever, but damn. Should have at least got some dinner before I got screwed, right?” She gave a cheeky wink to the camera. “Oh well, you live and learn in this business. Onwards and upwards, and all that jazz. I mean, I canít be doing too bad for myself if Iím getting an opportunity at a title after four matches in the company. Clearly Iíve impressed someone around here, if thatís the case. Only thing I gotta do now is go through three other people to claim it.

She took a few steps to the side, switching the three knives into her dominant right hand and casually flicked her wrist, sending them careening towards another wooden plank, this one with three 8×10 glossies tacked up on them. Each one hit its mark dead centre in the photos of Valkyrie, Todrick Tabor and JJ Starfire. She walked up to them, studying each one like a painting in the Louvre. “You know, I could stand here and wax all poetic-like about each and every one of you, but in all honesty I canít say that I know much about any of you.” She shrugged a bit sheepishly. “What can I say, Iím still kinda the new kid on campus. But lemme give it the olí college try, shall I?

She walked over to where Valkyrieís portrait hung, taking the knife out from it. “Valkyrie. You havenít exactly had a good go of it around here, have you? You and I both started out here on the third Venom show. But where you lost, I won. And not only that, the very next show I went on to beat the guy that beat you, while you tapped out in a triple threat. Hell, even the one win youíve managed to secure for yourself came as a result of forfeitÖ” She winced slightly. “I gotta say girl, the odds are definitely not in your favour.

She then moved on to the second target, pulling the knife out of JJ Starfireís picture. “Then, we have a guy who hasnít been in a match since the inaugural Blood Money event. I mean seriously? How in the heck did he manage to weasel his way into a contendership match, anyways? Either someone up in the head office likes this guy…or they hate him and wanna see him get his ass beat.” She shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. “Not that it matters much to me either way. If homeboy here has some delusions of getting that contendership spot, heís gonna get them soundly knocked out courtesy of a few roundhouses from yours truly.

Finally, she came to the final picture, that of Todrick Tabor. She studied it thoughtfully for a moment before she took the knife out. “And then we come to the more colourful character in the match. I can honestly say that Iíve never met someone like Todrick in my years on the wrestling scene. A devastating combo of charisma and athletics, youíve got everything it takes to be a real player. So when I look at your track record here, itís kind of disappointing.” She shakes her head a bit sadly. “Itís really a damn shame. Two losses and both for some bullshit reasons. Maybe one day soon youíll bounce back and become the darling of Fight, but itís not going to happen on Saturday night. Iím going to make sure of it.

With the three knives back in her hand, she starts to walk away from the wooden plank, twirling the blades in her hand. “See, the truth of the matter is Iím coming off a loss. And while there are some that would just mope around and complain, I ainít one of them. If anything, it lit the biggest fire of motivation under my ass. And the promise of a champion contendership is just that sweet drizzle of chocolate syrup on the sundae. It wasnít that long ago that I once held gold, so I still know the feeling of that weight in my hands, around my waist. The intoxicating feeling of being at the top of your game. Knowing that there was a line of people gunning for you because youíre just that good. Itís a feeling thatís far more addictive than anything on this Earth, and I want it again. So Iím ready, willing and able to go through whoever, to do whatever I need to do to get it.

With a confident smirk gracing her face and without even a backwards glance, she flicked her wrist towards the plank set up behind her, and the camera followed the knife to see that she had nailed the shot on a picture of the Manhattan championship being held aloft by the current champion Joe Montuori. The camera slowly zoomed in on the image, before finally fading away to black.