Nightmare

By: Ashlynn Cassidy

Writing Prompt: No

Date: 31st Oct 2021

Don’t you come see about me, I’ll be alone, dancin’ you know it baby. Pa pa, pa pa pa pa…

Ashlynn Cassidy was walking on the Tara Fenix Charity Cruise, humming Simple Minds in preparation of her match with Kasey Winterborn. Kasey Winterborn, member of New Status Quo and undoubtedly a top star. In FIGHT! and whatever promotion she chooses to compete. This was going to be the biggest test under the FIGHT banner that she’s ever had. 

Ready to go. Just a few deep breaths. You’ll be fi-

“Sorry!” The voice of a young child spoke, as Ashlynn accidentally bumps into a small child. “No, I’m sorry!

“Are you?” 

I mean of cour-” The young FIGHTer looked up from her focused trance. Her jaw fell and her next breath was caught in her throat. 

It..how?

Zeke?

The sounds of the cruise and her surrounding’s faded. Her vision warped as the ring, which she’d gotten close to, looked farther and farther away. She put her hands on either side of her head. 

What the…

“You chose, but you didn’t choose me. So…” The boy motioned toward the path to the ring. 

“Go.”

The young boy ran in a separate direction, and after taking one last look at the ring,  Ashlynn took off after him. 

I tried to be the parent, and I couldn’t be good enough to be the one you deserved. 

I didn’t have a choice!

I didn’t ..right?

Ashlynn could feel herself getting dizzy, having to turn and spin around to try to keep up with him. 

How’d he get so damn fast?

Suddenly, Zeke leapt up on the edge of the boat, tiptoeing until he stood at the end of a wooden plank. He turned back to wave at her before leaping off it into the water. Ashlynn couldn’t be bothered to think about it, leaping after him. 

Momma’s gonna come get you!

She took a deep breath, not wanting to drink any water as she landed. As soon as she was about to hit the water, she instead landed hard on a carpet, now in a long, dark hallway. It looked like her old apartment. It was only lit by by dangling bulbs above the doorways. At the end of the hallway stood a shadow. She could only see it for a moment before it vanished. 

Ashlynn again followed the child-like giggles, starting down the hallways. 

“I was always so good at hide-and-seek, wasn’t I Mommy?” remarked Zeke, or more specifically, a disembodied echo of Zeke. 

I let you win almost 90% of the time. Other 10% scared the shit outta me.

“Come find me then.” 

You can hear my thoughts?

No shit, it’s a nightmare, might as well just say stuff out loud.

 

828” Ash repeated to herself, just passing 220. There’s a loud crash as all the dangling bulbs behind her fall and shatter. She stops in her tracks, relatively easy to jumpscare. She needed a second. She put a hand over her heart, hearing her heartbeat in her ears. 

With every step, a bulb fell and the light fades out. The shadowy figure reappeared, right in front of her. 

Who are you?” Ashlynn called out. The figure was already gone by the time she got the words out. She finally saw 828 on the door at the end of the hall. Spray-painted on the door were the words “RUNNING OUT OF TIME”. The woman made a mad dash for the door as she could hear Zeke’s voice in her mind. 

“3…

2…” 

Ashlynn burst through the door. As she looked back, she saw her son wave goodbye before the door shut. She immediately went to go back out the door but she ran into a problem. The doorknob disappeared and she became stuck in the room. 

Alright, so how do I get out?” 

Ashlynn stood and looked around the room to find that the rooms walls were all glass mirrors. There was only one other thing in the centre of the room; a golden crown. There was but a single word engraved on it. “Undeniable“.

Suddenly, her voice echoed, multiplied and distorted. She looked at the walls and noticed that the word was spray painted on every mirrored wall, even on the floor and ceiling. Her son reappeared in the glass, surrounding her. “You didn’t choose me” the distorted chorus repeats the earlier sentiment from the beginning of the nightmare. “Is it still worth it?”

I’m doing the right thing!” Ashlynn replied firmly, for herself as much as the mirror. The images in the mirrors disappear. Alone again, Ashlynn reaches out to pick up the crown. When her fingers finally touch the crown she found that ut was a paper crown. 

“WHO ARE YOU?” The chorus yells, startling Ashlynn. There is a new person in the mirror, a very familiar one. Ash tilted her head to check if it was her reflection. The Mirror Ashlynn just stared back with a disgusted expression.

 

I’m persistent.”

“Attention whore!” The words appeared in the mirror.

“I’m determined!”

“Needy!” Another word. 

“I show up, I want to compete!”

The Mirror Ashlynns temporarily morph into Centurion, who defeated her just Saturday. They maintain the same voice. “Not ready. Loser.” The mirrors are smeared in words, the light in the room shrinking. 

“I’m undeniable! I’m resilient! I’m not going anywhere!” 

The Mirror People morph into different people including herself, her son, Centurion, and even Kasey Winterborn. 

“Failure!”

“Fake!”

“Fraud!” 

Ashlynn is shrunken into a ball, hands cupped over her ears, the light’s almost gone. The less light there was, the more suffocated she was feeling. 

I have to get out, I can’t stay here.

She got up, punching at the the glass

I can’t stay hidden away. Losing sucks! I know that. 

By now she can see and feel blood trickle on her knuckles. 

“No one, nobody” the chorus chanted until it was pitch black

 I can’t be forgotten. They have to remember me. He has to remember me! 

One. More. Punch. Keep. Fighting!

Her hand shoots up out of the ground and she crawls up out of the ground, resurfacing in a graveyard. She looks around to find that she had been buried in an unmarked grave. She passed out on the spot. 

No fucking way.

Ashlynn tried to slap herself awake, saying a word after every slap. 

Wake 

The

Fuck

Up!” 

 

Suddenly, Ashlynn found herself back on the ship in her cabin washroom. She saw a version of herself spray-painting the bathroom walls with IMPOSTOR, PRETENDER, FAKE, FRAUD, COWARD, QUITTER, NOBODY. It turned to face her, black pools where eyes would be. Tfigure began to take the form of Kasey Winterborn, It start to roar at her in anger and disgusted. Again, the voice was distorted and it was clear it was all in Ashlynn’s mind. 

 

“You’re running out of time! You’re running out of luck! You’re about to be exposed! You’re fighting above your weightclass pretender! You are pathetic. You have no business, stepoing in the ring across from me. 

 

Personally, even before arriving at FIGHT!, Ashlynn looked at Kasey with a lot of adoration. She was one of her idols in this industry. Ashlynn breathed deeply before glaring at the facechanging shadow. “I get in the ring and give it my best every single time. Every single time I step in those ropes I learn and I get better. Every single time I compete I have a chance.

The demon laughed, the sound echoing. 

“You? You’ve only had two matches in FIGHT!, one, you won because there was no one to lose to. You beat Dane Preston, but even after losing to you, he went back out there to fight a different fight. Maybe he wasn’t even focused on you. You know it and everyone knows it. The moment you realize you’re overmatched? You’ll run! You’ll quit!” 

Ashlynn shook her head in defiance. 

“You will, you will cry and fade away, not even a footnote in FIGHT!. No one will think any more of you than a pretender. You’ll be forgotten. You’ll be…

No one.”

The demon cackled and disappeared, not before motioning for Ashlynn to turn around. 

Huh, my face feels weird…

Ashlynn turns around toward a bathroom mirror. She had no nose, no mouth, no eyes. Her facial feature were blank and non-existent. She was no one. She let out a high-pitched scream, finally waking her up. 

Ashlynn’s eyes shot open and she jolted awake. She bolted toward the cabin washroom, taken aback but relieved to find her face still intact. It was still Halloween night and she was still wearing her Halloween costume, inspired by Winona Ryder in the film Heathers. 

Ashlynn returned to her bed and immediately grabbed a pen and her letter book. 

___

Zeke,

 

If you get thrown in the deep end right away, swim for your life, and there’s no way you’ll ever drown. 

 

Just keep swimming.

 

This week, I’m fighting Kasey Winterborn. I’ve told you before, a dream match of mine. I’ve also had literal nightmares over it. Maybe it was because it’s Halloween, I don’t know. 

 

Recently, I’ve noticed that consciously or not, I say yes to everything. I feel this need to be a part of things, just to say that I was. History will say that I was there. I need to be great, I need to be remembered. If I don’t, that means that I wasted my time chasing something that I thought I could do, and I failed you as a mother for absolutely nothing. 

 

I have some bad habits like that. 

 

I also have good ones. I can never let myself run away, I face every situation, regardless of the odds. My inner voice can be screaming at me to quit, and I persist. I think by now I’ve learned that whatever the outcome, no matter how many times that I go out there. I feel a need to prove my worth all over again. All that means is that I will give everything that I have. I will fight for my life in every outing. I will never take any match I have in FIGHT! for granted. People might say that I have no business going up against a top name in my second match. It’s my job to show the world that I do.

 

It’s a new season, a fresh start. This is my opportunity to set the stage something great, abd it starts with being a serious underdog. I have everything to prove, and nothing to lose, so I hope Kasey is ready. If I lose? The odds were never with me, all I have to do is not get dominated. If I win? That immediately would skyrocket my stock. I mean no word of a lie, it may be one of the most surprising upsets in FIGHT! history, and no one will ever forget my name.

 

<3 

Dead Girl Walking?

___