SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL

By: Sahara

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 13th Jan 2022

The Big Bang.

An Event Horizon.

Blood Money.

The singular event that started it all. The barrier of entry to greatness. It sets the tone for a new generation. A chance for new stars to rise. To make their mark. To make people take notice.

To change the landscape of wrestling … forever.

Everyone you see at FIGHT is here because of the success of Blood Money. It’s an event unlike anything else in professional wrestling. It didn’t just put FIGHT on the map, it capitulated us to the upper echelon of the wrestling world and carved the names of each and every participant into the annals of wrestling history.

Those that weren’t a part of it wished they were.

Now is their chance.

So, either step up and sign up, or step aside, as greatness rises … again.

Blood Money 2
Live from Disney World
January 31st, 2022

The most VIOLENT place on earth…

~~~~~

FIGHT TOWER
December 31st, 2021
The Final Countdown

Sahara paces the floor of her FIGHT provided apartment, sipping on a clear drink from a rocks glass. When she did stop pacing momentarily, her foot nervously tapped against the hardwood flooring in rapid succession. The pacing commences. She was disheveled. Anxious. Jittery. The television that clung to the wall behind her was mid-broadcast of the live showing of Preston versus Watson, which she was watching with nervous trepidation. If Preston couldn’t pull this off, she was fucked with a capital FUCKED.

As the excited calls of the FIGHT announce team wafted through the apartment, she stares out the floor to ceiling windows high above New York City. Lights twinkled in the distance as far as the eye could see, the city brimming with neon life. In the distance, the cityscape connects seamlessly on the horizon and gives way to the starry night sky.

Then that moment arrived.

The moment.

* B * O * O * M *

As the tower was rocked by an explosion of unknown origin, Sahara jumped into a wide stance to keep her balance. The entire building seemed to shift as if the world suddenly tilted on its axis. Glasses slid across tables, shattering against the ground. Furniture shifted and moved, careening across the hardwood floor. The television on the wall jarred loose, one end falling to the floor with a crash followed by an electrified pop. The glass she held had slipped from her grip and went skittering across the floor.

The supposedly unbreakable windows stress cracked and fractured under the immense strain, making an unbelievably loud popping sound as they exploded every which way in a shower of glass. Sahara threw her arms up to block the flying debris. A short-lived rumble followed as the building seemed to settle. As the initial chaos calmed, she could hear alarms blaring in the distance as cold winter air whipped through the apartment.

The scene was absolutely surreal.

Wisps of platinum hair flew in every direction as she approached the open-air windows that no longer served as a barrier of protection from the New York streets below. Gooseflesh covered her exposed skin as the arctic air chilled her bones. Her silhouette almost glowing as she gazed out into the cold, moonlit sky.

She had no idea how much time had passed as she stood there, shivering in the cold. It felt as if time had stood still. She felt her phone vibrate. She felt it vibrate again. Closing her eyes, she pulled out her phone and read the incoming notifications and declared emergencies. But her eyes fell upon one notification in particular, from ESPN Breaking News…

Dickie Watson has defeated Dane Pres–

She didn’t need to finish reading the headline. Her body language said it all–

FUCK.

Storming toward the bedroom, she dropped to her knees and shoved a small dresser to the side, revealing a floor safe. Punching in the code, she opened it and grabbed a duffle bag. Reaching into the safe, she began stuffing stacks of cash and jewelry into the bag, knowing full well it wasn’t nearly enough to cover her bets.

They may not have been involved in her schemes and scams, but Jennie, Ricky and Dane had just fucked her into a dark abyss.

One thought continued to rattle through her mind–

Fuck. Fuck me…FUUUUC–

* B * O * O * M *

Once again, another thunderous explosion rocked the tower. The sounds of creaking steel and concrete shaking loose, rippling through the walls surrounding her. Her king bed slid across the hardwood floor, and nearly crushed her against the dresser before it came to a stop. For a moment, Sahara remains on her hands and knees, a ringing sound filling her ears. Slightly disoriented, she shakes off the cobwebs and grabs the cash stuffed bag. Getting back to her feet, she looked around what was left of the quickly decaying bedroom and wiped her eyes.

For a few moments longer, her thoughts did not change.

I’m so fucked…

Stuffed into a corner of the large mirror that still somehow clung to the wall, she gazed upon a picture of herself standing between Dane and Allision, arms over their shoulders. They were all smiles. Better days. Similarly, she looked at a picture of herself along with Ricky and Jennie. She clung to Ricky’s back, and Jennie to hers. Again, all smiles. It seemed like yesterday those photos were taken, but so much has changed.

If those were the best of times–

Grabbing the photos, as well as a coat, she stuffed them into a pocket and made her way out of the tower, all the while thinking how she never should have started any this stupid shit.

She’d lost control.

And now, she was about to lose … everything.

~~~~~

Down and Out
January 12th, 2022
Somewhere in the Burrows of New York City

”So, from the looks of things, the uh, collection didn’t go so well…”

Holding a bloody rag to her lip, Sahara glares at a man dressed in a perfectly tailored suit sitting on the other side of a large desk. He swept a hand across his shoulder, as if to let the dust understand it wasn’t good enough to land on him. He was an older gentleman, and obviously powerful in a world that was quite foreign to the blonde. The New York underground. A tensor lamp, a laptop, and a few other items were strewn about. And a duffle bag sat dead in the middle of the desk, right between her and him. It was the same duffle bag she’d filled with cash and jewelry days prior when evacuating FIGHT Tower.

Four large men stood behind the battered blonde, their arms folded rather stoically, watching her every move.

There was visible bruising on her right eye, and she wheezed, as if breathing itself was painful.

”So you’re everything they say you are. Ya took on five of my guys at the same time and you’re still breathin’! I gotta say I’m impressed. I mean it. Especially for a girl that looks like you. Honey, if you ever need a job when this wrestling thing goes kaput–”

”I wouldn’t hold my breath–” She winced through her words.

The man behind the desk looked up at his cohorts, almost in disbelief, and they shared a bit of a laugh.

”Ohhh, this bitch still got some life in her! I love it! Listen, honey–” The well dressed man nonchalantly motioned to the far wall. ”Go make yourself a drink, it looks like you could use it.”

Looking to where he motioned, Sahara gazed upon a makeshift bar. Her eyes darted around. It seemed as if everything in this room was makeshift. As if it were a temporary arrangement. Disposable. A row of crystal rocks glasses were spread before a plethora of various liquors. Including a few expensive ones. She looked at the man for a moment as her lip quivered nervously. She winced as she slowly pushed herself up from the chair and gingerly made her way across the room. Each step felt like a thunderous punch to the gut, as she held a hand over her ribs. She knew full well that everyone present was looking at her ass as she made the walk, adding insult to injury. But she didn’t bother looking back. It didn’t matter. As she approached the drink station, she closed her eyes momentarily before reaching out a trembling hand to pick up one of the crystal glasses. Tears of regret fell from her eyes.

The reality was – at that moment – she didn’t know if she was about to pour herself a drink or get a momentary glimpse of her brains spraying against the wall before it all went black. She’d never been so afraid. Thoughts of her friends flooded her mind. Ricky, Jennie, Dane, Allison, Michelle, Ashlynn. Her boy toy Thaddius. Even Vhodka, Voo and Le’Andra somehow entered her thoughts, as odd as that seems. All she wanted was her friends. To be anywhere else. To be back at the Rabbit. At the moment she thought it was going to end, that’s all she could think of. She wanted this nightmare to be over.

She attempted to right herself, taking a deep breath as more tears welled up in her eyes. She reached for an especially exquisite bottle of bourbon; Pappy van Winkle 23. Her hand began trembling beyond control, but soon another hand came over the top of hers, holding it steady, helping her pour a rather generous glass for herself.

It was the elder gentleman that was seated behind the desk moments prior. The man that was obviously in control of her fate.

”Relax, sweetheart. I’m not gonna kill you.” She felt a moment of fleeting relief, but quickly thought this is exactly when it’s gonna happen. They come at you with smiles. She waited, but that moment never came. The man continued– ”I just need you to understand the gravity of the situation. There are three things you don’t fuck with; A man’s family, a man’s reputation, and a man’s money. And if you fuck with his money – especially that much of it – you’re also fuckin’ with the other two.”

Motioning back toward the chair that was placed before his desk, he escorted her back to her seat. ”Have your drink and relax, Sahara. We’re just talking here. Like two professionals.” As he moved to the other side of the desk, he opened a drawer. “You need anything else? For the pain?”

She nodded and replied rather sheepishly, ”I dunno, aspirin?”

”Aspirin?” He let out a hearty laugh as he reached into the drawer, ”How about some Oxy? I heard that’s more your speed…how many?”

She paused for a moment, and gave off a bit of a joking laugh, ”The bottle?” Though she wasn’t actually joking.

”You really are somethin’, ain’t ya?!” He popped the bottle open and poured a small handful of the yellow tabs next to the duffle bag that remained between them. She reached out and took two, stuffing them in her mouth with a trembling hand. She swallowed them with a long pull of bourbon. She looked at and swirled the caramel-colored liquid for a moment. It never tasted so good. She then took the rest of the Oxy’s and stuffed them in a pocket.

”Thanks–” She whispered rather sincerely, but barely loud enough to hear.

”Alright, so business…you’ve suffered enough, so let’s get down to the meat of the matter.” Finally, he picked up the duffle bag and dropped it on the floor next to him before pulling his laptop in front and center. ”So tell me, how does a girl that’s laid a couple dozen bets in the past few months and never misses once, lay it all on the line on three separate matches, and somehow lose every fuckin’ one of ‘em?”

She didn’t have an answer.

”Jennie Phoenix–” He snorted a laugh. ”That was a stretch.”

”Ricky Rodriguez–” He shakes his head. ”You’d never once bet on this kid before, even when you were fuckin’ him, but this time you thought he’d pull it off?”

He laughed again.

”And last but not least, Dane Preston…”

Laughter filled the room. Only Sahara wasn’t in on the joke.

”Everything you had is in that duffle bag.” He pointed to where he dropped the bag. ”Your whole miserable little life. Every last cent to your name. And it ain’t even close to what you owe, not to mention the embarrassment you caused me when I told people you never lose. Ya know, I thought you had somethin’ goin’ with these bets. I thought you had a fix or somethin’. So ya see, when you laid those bets and word spread on the streets? A whole lotta people followed your lead. A lot of powerful people. So you got a whole lotta people pissed at you right now. And the only person stoppin’ ‘em from getting their pint of blood outta your sweet little ass is me! The girl that never misses a call when it comes to FIGHT New York missed all of ‘em.”

He snorted.

”And you didn’t just miss, sweetheart, ya missed BIG.” ”I-I believed in ‘em. Maybe I was stupid, I dunno. Look, either way, I thought I’d win at least one and could cover. I thought I was gonna get a big payout for the pay-per-view, but then th–”

He slammed a fist on the desk, causing her to jump, bourbon spilling over the edge of the crystal glass. ”You thought?! You thought?! Oh, that’s right, then they sat ya, right? That wouldn’t be because of that stupid fuckin’ missive you decided to put out, telling management to go fuck themelves in so many words, would it? They printed that shit in the New York Post. What’d you expect ‘em to do?”

Hand trembling, she nervously took another pull of her bourbon. When she opened her mouth to answer, he held up a finger.

”Rhetorical. Don’t say a fuckin’ word, sweetie. Just sit there and listen. Here’s what we’re gonna do–“ He quickly typed something up on his laptop before turning the screen toward the battered blonde. He jabbed a finger at the laptop for emphasis as he sat back in his chair.

”You’re gonna enter this, and you’re gonna win it. You understand me? That’s how you’re gonna pay me back every fuckin’ dime you owe me plus the juice. Not to mention all the others you screwed over with those longshot calls. And I know, it’s not your fault they copied off your shitty bets … but it is how the streets work, honey. This is your way out. Your only way. Think of it like…” He bobbed his head back and forth as if searching for the words. ”Think of it like your life depends on it.”

He followed that with a bit of a sinister laugh.

”B-Blood Money?!” She stammered, ”B-but that–that’s almost impossible! I–I–couldn’t you just bet on me to lose? I-I mean, I can take a dive at any point–”

For a second time, he slammed a fist into the desk to silence her near incoherence. ”In a match like that?! There’s no fuckin’ money in bettin’ on losers. You should know better. The odds are dogshit. Besides, fixin’ sporting events like this gets ya put in jail, sweetheart.”

”B-but you go-gotta understand how hard it’s gonna be for me to pass a physical after your fucking goons laid me out, let alone winnin’–”

He cut in with a dismissive laugh.

”You wanna remind me where that’s my problem?! Keep your cock sucker shut and listen.”

She felt his cold stare bore through the depths of her sapphire eyes. ”If you try to do anything stupid like gettin’ yourself injured, or skippin’ town? I don’t really care. Can’t pass the physical? I don’t care. I’m still holdin’ you responsible. I ain’t in a rush. I don’t care if it’s next month, a year from now, or a decade from now when you’ve all but forgotten about me. I’ll get ya. But in the meantime? I’ll get your fuckin’ friends. I saw those photos you had in your pocket. Lovely couples.”

Propping his elbows on the desk, he leaned forward, ”Do you understand me?”

She nodded, swallowing nervously.

”No. Now I need you to open your dicksucker and answer me audibly. Do. You. Understand. Me?”

”Yeah.” She nodded again, ”Yes.”

He motioned to her glass of bourbon, ”Good. Now finish that and get the fuck outta here. And remember what I said, I don’t care what you gotta do, you find your way into that event and win it! I don’t know, maybe you can have your little playboy pay some people off, whatever, I don’t care…just get it done.”

Gulping down the rest of her drink, she handed the glass off to one of his goons. Wincing as she pushed herself off the chair, she began the long walk of shame toward the exit. Grabbing her jacket by the door, she took her leave and found herself in some sort of long abandoned warehouse. It was cold and dark. Windows busted out. Rusted girders dangled from what was left of the ceiling. The elephant doors on the far end were drawn open, and likely not used in years. Who knows where in New York City she even was? She frantically searched her pockets, but found no phone or identification – for pretty obvious reasons. They’d also taken the photos with Dane, Allison, Ricky and Jennie. She bundled up her coat around her battered body and limped out into the cold wintery night, tail between her legs…

She’d never felt so alone. Brushing past a chain link fence, she stopped. Her face suddenly contorting as she fell against the fence, sliding down into something of a crouching position.

And she sobbed.

~~~~~

Doctor-Patient Privilege
January 13th, 2022
The Temporary FIGHT Infirmary

Sahara entered the makeshift infirmary that was erected within her assigned FIGHT supplied housing block. After the explosions at the tower, talent was relocated at the company’s expense to these temporary housing units. She approaches the receptionist’s desk, which amounted to nothing more than a folding table, a computer, a phone and some basic office supplies. She quickly scribbled her name on the sign-in sheet, and made her presence known.

The receptionist glanced up and did something of a double take as there was visible bruising on her right eye and a cut on the edge of her lip. The concern didn’t seem to last, though, when she realized who the patient was.

Probably just Sahara being Sahara.

”You’re late.”

Without looking up again, the receptionist pointed toward one of the many plastic chairs in the waiting room with her pen. ”Have a seat, we’ll be with you when we can…”

The blonde turned toward the uncomfortable looking seats and rolled her eyes before turning back at the receptionist, ”Seriously? There’s like no one here. I don’t got all day…”

The dismissive laugh that emanated from the receptionist’s lips came as a bit of a surprise.

”‘Scuse me, is something funny?”

The receptionist looked up at the blonde with a smile designed to annoy, ”Just because there’s nobody out here–” She motioned to the empty waiting room behind Sahara before jabbing her pen toward the back, ”–doesn’t mean there’s no one back there. Now … kindly have a seat and wait until your name is called. Sahara.”

The emphasis on her ring name from the snarky receptionist was duly noted–

”Look, I don’t have all day–”

But the receptionist merely smiled in return, ”Funny, your chart says otherwise. Right here on this handy little post-it note! See it?” ‘Don’t let her tell you she’s in a rush. -Miss F’ ”So, I have to assume you do ‘got all day’, because if you don’t pass this physical, you aren’t cleared for Blood Money. So, Sahara, pretty please with sugar on top … have a seat.”

Sweeping her shocking blonde hair behind an ear, Sahara bit her tongue, knowing what was at stake. She had to pass this fucking physcal by any means necessary, and that was already going to require a fair bit of subterfuge, without increasing the difficulty by being a bitch. Perking up, Sahara merely flashed a smile at the receptionist and turned toward the empty waiting room.

Taking a seat, the blonde heaved a sigh and rested her elbows on her knees. She winced a little as she leaned forward, but pushed through what residual pain she could still feel. She checked her watch at least five times within the first five minutes and rolled her eyes fifteen or so times on top of that. She was doing everything in her power to not think about that ‘meeting’ in the warehouse, as nervousness over her pending physical consumed her. She had to pass this fucking exam, and really had no idea how she was gonna do it. But with the right doctor, and just the right amount of flirtatiousness, she could probably pull this off–

As the minutes slowly ticked away, they felt like fucking hours.

That’s when her brow furrowed, and she once again looked at the entirely empty waiting room. She was convinced this wasn’t a coincidence. There was no line. No wait. This was someone up high putting her in her place. Again. This was a not-so-subtle reminder she’s not the one calling the shots…and FIGHT was testing the limits of her patience.

It wasn’t long after that she had rearranged some of the chairs so she could sprawl out a bit, maybe get some shuteye while she waited. This proved fruitless, however, as the uncomfortably plastic chairs made it almost impossible to find a relaxing position, especially considering the pain she was contending with. Staring up at the ceiling, she sighed rather audibly, ”Seriously, is this a fucking joke?”

”Lauren MacKay? We’re ready for you now…” Thank fucking God!

Wincing, the blonde pushed herself up to a seated position. The nurse that called her name looked rather familiar, but she couldn’t remember her name. Worked with James Vincent before that whole debacle went down…though she quickly dismissed the thought of her former doctor.

”Right this way, Lauren. Nice to see you again…”

Sahara couldn’t tell if that was sarcasm or not. She smiled and nodded. Ushering the blonde into an empty examination room, the nurse motioned to a plastic wrapped hospital gown. ”Take off everything but your undergarments and put that on. The opening goes in the back. The doctor will be in to see you momentarily…good luck.”

”Not my first rodeo, Nurse Ratchet–”

Unamused by the nurse Ratchet snark, the nurse made a bit of a sarcastic ‘Mmm hmmm’ sound, as if both acknowledging and dismissing her simultaneously. She closed the door, leaving Sahara to get undressed in private. Looking around the examination room, it was as basic as it comes, but in light of the sudden tower shutdown, it was better equipped than one would expect. Kicking her shoes to the side, she pulled off her socks and pants, but left both her undergarments and shirt on – despite being told to remove everything except her undergarments. It’s not like it matters anyway.

She hopped up on the paper coated examination table and waited for the new doctor to arrive.

And she waited.

And waited.

With nothing else to do, she sat rather impatiently, staring down at her dangling feet as she continued to wait. Her thoughts drifted…

Could probably go for a nice relaxing pedicure after this…

”Motherfuckers.” She whispered, interrupting her thoughts. She knew they were purposefully testing her patience. Waiting for an outburst of anger. Her hands gripped the sides of the exam table as her jaw clenched. Don’t do it, Lauren. Don’t give ‘em what they want…you have to pass this physical. Your life may depend on it.

Thinking of the new Doctor, she’d have to start all over again. Building a rapport with whoever he is. He’d better be cute at the very least. Always makes it easier. If Doctor Vincent could have just kept his fucking mouth shut, this exam would have been a slam dunk, but noooooo, jackass has to confess to his stupid fucking wife…

Sahara shook her head.

That’s when she heard a knock at the door. As the door opened, Sahara’s eye nearly spilled from her skull. FUCK MEEEE. She felt her heart sink. This Doctor wasn’t a guy at all! It was a slightly elderly woman, though she couldn’t quite tell her age. She instantly took notice of the rosary that served as a necklace draped around her neck along with the accompanying stethoscope. Sahara knew instantly from her Catholic upbringing; this woman was a fucking nun.

Goddamnit. Could this be any worse?

The older woman looked at the chart in her hands before looking to her patient, ”Lauren is it?”

Sahara nodded.

”I’m Doctor Mary Alvin. Sister Mary Alvin will suffice. I’m the new head practitioner for FIGHT point forward, and it would seem I’ve been assigned to you by request!” She held a rather thick folder up for Sahara to see. ”Usually, these charts are a couple of pages long. Yours is like a book.” She tossed the folder onto the desk next to the computer as she approached the blonde.

Sahara already knew it, this was going to be a problem.

”Get into a fight?”

Sahara somewhat laughed, “Well, it kind of comes with the territory.”

”Does it?” Sister Alvin asked rather rhetorically. ”Because you haven’t competed for weeks, yet you have a bruised eye and a cut on your lip–”

”Oh, yeah. That. I uh, just got into a thing. Nothing big.”

The doctor laughed a bit, ”I should see the other guy, right?”

Actually, she wasn’t that far off. But it was guys. Plural. Sahara let out a bit of a nervous laugh in response.

”Are you on any drugs right now, Lauren?”

The sudden and unexpected question took her by surprise. Sahara’s eyes darted around as she hesitated, ”Yeah, the um, previous physician had me on uh–”, the Doctor cut in and finished her sentence. ”Oxycontin?”

Sahara nodded rather sheepishly, ”Yeah.”

”Yeah, that’s done. Let’s get something straight right now, Lauren. I’m not an idiot. I didn’t live this long and come this far in my career to be treated like one, either. Everyone knows what you did with the previous Doctor in charge. You manipulated him with your looks and lady parts, and you used him to get exactly what you wanted. Prescription medications? Easy. Physical exam passes? Done. It was all for the taking, wasn’t it? I need you to understand it’s my job to look out for you. To make sure that in twenty years you’re still able to walk on your own and live a productive life. So, it all stops right now! You fill one more of those stolen scripts at the pharmacy, and I’ll have you arrested for forgery.”

Sahara blinked in silence, completely dumbfounded. They knew about the stolen blank scripts? That fucking OCCHI system. Thank God that stupid shit is gone with the tower. She felt like a twelve-year-old getting a tongue lashing from a Catholic Nun. Which was ironically true in this case, other than the age thing.

”If necessary, in or outpatient treatment will be afforded to you in order to wean you off the narcotics you never should have been put on. You have an addiction, Lauren. It’s in your chart, and FIGHT is concerned. I’m concerned. Outside of something terminal, Doctor Vincent should have known better than to prescribe you opioids. In short, the games are over. You’re either going to do this my way, or I’m not going to clear you, and you aren’t going to do this at all.”

The doctor paused for a moment, letting her words sink in.

”Am I understood?”

Unable to look the Doctor in the eyes, Sahara merely nodded.

”Good. Now, let’s get this examination going. I’m going to listen to your heart and lungs, take your blood pressure, I’m sure you know the drill by now.”

Moving the hospital gown to the side, the Doctor sighed. ”Didn’t the nurse tell you to remove your shirt?” She only paused a second before proceeding, ”It’s okay, I can hear just fine through your shirt–”

Placing the cold stethoscope against the back of Sahara’s shirt, Sister Mary Alvin knew it couldn’t have been the cold faceplate that caused her to shift around rather uncomfortably. She noted the curious reaction and continued–

”Take a deep breath and let it out slowly–”

At most, Sahara took a shallow breath, gritting her teeth to contain the pain she could still feel despite the Oxy barrier.

”Deeper, Lauren. Deep breaths–”

She took another shallow breath and the Doctor let out an exasperated sigh.

”Lauren, if you aren’t going to cooperate, I can end this exam–” The Doctor’s rather stern voice trailed off as she lifted the blonde’s shirt. She slowly peeled her shirt upward, revealing what the blonde had attempted to hide. Massive bruising that spread across the entire left side of her ribcage. The bruising was prevalent from front to back. Dark hues of blue fading into a disgusting yellowish green.

Sahara could hear the Doctor say, ”Oh, darling…”, in a very concerned tone.

The Doctor’s tone had suddenly shifted. ”Just from sight, it looks like you have multiple broken ribs. This bruising is deep–”

Sahara tried her best to block out the thoughts that flooded her senses. To that warehouse where it all went down. When they’d finally gotten the best of her, five men repeatedly kicked her in the ribs as payback for the damage she’d inflicted on them while defending herself. She’d come up way short on the payment, and this was the result. The only saving grace was she still had almost a month to recover for Blood Money 2.

Pulling up a swivel chair, the Doctor took a seat before her patient, and looked up at her with a sympathetic gaze.

”Lauren, is someone beating you?”

The blonde shook her head.

”These wounds are consistent with classic domesest–”

”It’s not–”, Sahara cut her off. ”It’s not domestic abuse. Please don’t investigate anyone I’ve been with.” She quickly wiped her eyes. ”I didn’t fall. It wasn’t an accident. I made a mistake, and that’s really all I can say. It was just one big mistake.”

”Lauren,” The Doctor shook her head. ”If you’re in trouble, I can report this up the chain–”

”No. Please. You have to keep this between us–” ”Look, I sympathize, but given this turn of events, I can’t in good conscience clear you–”

Sahara immediately started shaking her head, ”No, you can’t. Listen. Listen. I–” Her voice wavered, ”If you don’t clear me for this event–” She paused and could hear the man’s voice ringing in her head, ‘I ain’t in a rush. I don’t care if it’s next month, a year from now, or a decade–’

Sahara heaved a deep enough sigh that it caused her to wince, ”If I can’t do this, you’re signing my death warrant. I swear to God. No more lies.” Sahara looked as though she’d hit the end of her rope.

”I owe people something. More than just money. The uh, wrong kinda people. I mean, the kinda people you don’t think exist anymore. And I don’t know if I can even get out from under this, or if they were being’ serious with me or just tryin’ to light a fire in me, but I have to take it seriously. And this event? Blood Money 2? It’s my way out…” ”Lauren–”

”Wait. Please. Lemme finish. You gotta give me the chance. From now until the event – until Blood Money 2 – I swear I won’t take any drugs, and I’ll go to physical therapy every fu–” She stopped herself from swearing in front of the Nun. ”I’ll go to physical therapy every day, from now until the event. I’ll take any tests, and I’ll do anything I have to do to get clearance. But you have to give me the chance … please! I have to fix this…on my own.”

Sister Mary Alvin leaned forward and sighed, taking a few moments to contemplate the blonde’s words, but this was an obvious cry for help.

”You’ll do everything I say?”

”Everything.” Sahara was quick to respond.

”Did these people say you have to win this event?”

Sahara shook her head, ”No.”

A lie, a choice, or an omission of fact, it didn’t matter.

”I just have to do good, and I will. The way the betting works on events like this is the longer you stay in, the more it pays off. That’s all I need to do–”

The doctor sighed.

”Please.”

”Well, if you do everything I say from now until that event and you can pass a physical the day of–” The Doctor nodded. ”I’ll clear you. But if you’re in danger, I’ll have to repo–”

”I’m not, I promise. Not if I can compete…” ”And if you can’t pass the physical?”

Sahara was resolute in her response, ”I can. I will. I know this looks bad, but I’ve had way worse.”

Sahara leaned her head back, fighting the tears that still somehow streamed down her cheeks. She’d never really tried this truth thing before–

”That um, previous Doctor”, Sister Mary Alvin motioned to Sahara’s rather detailed chart. ”Doctor Vincent. He really liked you. Obviously more than he should have, given the report I read. But I can tell by the copious notes he took that you meant something to him. He believed in you, and he worried about you even if what he did was wrong. His notes on you are the only reason I’m going to give you this chance. I want you to understand that.”

Sahara nodded.

”Okay, I want to go ahead and complete this exam even if you can’t clear, so take the gown off. I’ll help you remove the shirt. We’re going to need an x-ray of those ribs and a blood draw to check your vitals for sepsis.” She pointed a stern finger in Sahara’s face. ”And no more Oxycontin, young lady. No more lies. If you fail one drug test, or miss one appointment between now and Blood Money? You’re done. I’ll put you into mandatory inpatient treatment. Understood? Promise me.”

Sahara looked Sister Mary Alvin dead in the eyes, unflinching, and nodded.

”I promise, Sister. My hand to God.”

~~~~~

Blood Money 2. Watson, Warstein, Raven, and Granger. Page, Rodriguez, Fenix, and Miller. The Moore’s. The Preston’s. The Montuori’s … and so many more delicious little treats! How many more names ya gonna drop, Lauren?! None.

Yeah, I could keep on goin’. Name droppin’ all night long. I mean, the FIGHT roster reads like a who’s who of the wrestling industry. The best of the very best.

But this time, it ain’t about any of them.

This time … it’s about me.

It has to be.

What do I even say about an event where it feels as if my very life may depend on winning it? I no longer have the luxury of leaving anything in the tank. No reserves. No tomorrow. Win or die trying? You’re goddamn right. Longshot odds, I know. They say winnin’ an event like Blood Money is almost a shot in the dark. But this time, I’m shootin’ my fucking shot. My way. And I will go all the way. And I know I’m gonna need eyes in the back of my head. I’m gonna have to be in all the right places at all the right times, and never in the wrong place at the wrong time. And while you bitches can form your little alliances, in the end, they’re all temporary at Blood Money.

The only person that matters now is me … myself … and not you.

I’m starin’ down the barrel of a loaded gun but I ain’t gonna flinch. I can’t. This time I’m gonna look you all right in the eyes as I press my forehead up against the barrel and dare ya to take your shot. Even at point blank range you’re gonna miss. This time … it ain’t gonna be like last time.

This time … it’s my time.

When this all started, it was all about second chances. When I first arrived at FIGHT, I looked up at that glorious tower, wonderin’ what was in store for me? It was like a world of wonder and possibilities. And all it took was landing one punch at that inaugural Blood Money event that I realized my fifteen minutes wasn’t up, even though I thought it was. I felt alive again. It was my chance to show a new generation what I was made of. Who I am and what makes me tick. It was about survival of the fittest. No. It was more than that. It was about not repeating mistakes of the past. It was about never waiting tables again. At least, that’s how it all started.

But somewhere along the line, something changed. When I came up short at Blood Money, FIGHT still handed me the opportunity of a lifetime; a contract to stay on full time. They saw somethin’ in me. An unrelenting desire to be somebody. But who? So I jumped at the opportunity! It was everything I’d hoped for and then some. Even though I wasn’t makin’ the kind of money Michelle or Joe or half the roster seem to toss around like candy, I went from bein’ a waitress at Applebee’s and barely makin’ ends meet, to havin’ a six-figure downside plus a cut of merchandise sales.

All because someone at FIGHT remembered who I once was. And that someone wanted to give me a second chance at life.

And that should have been enough. It should have been perfect. Then came Ascension. That’s when it all came tumblin’ down. That’s when I stood next to Dane Preston and company and failed. We should have risen up as a team, instead, we fell as individuals. I had a front row seat to witness the rise of the NSQ. And then James Raven stepped up and put the icing on the cake. Taken out by a Dinosaur, I was down and out, tail between my legs. Everywhere I looked, it seemed like everyone was havin’ more success than me.

That’s when I resurrected … her … and as she stepped out of the shadows within, I slowly felt that anger and resentment I’d long buried start bubbling back up to the surface. I knew I shoulda’ put myself in check, but I didn’t. Instead, I gave in to my basest of desires. Booze? Pills? Sex? Gambling? I was livin’ the rockstar life again! I’d walk the streets of New York and all of a sudden I was somebody in a world of nobodies. I was back in the saddle. And the more shit I did, the more shit I wanted to do! And it didn’t matter who I hurt in the process.

I. Wanted. It. All. I. Deserved. It. All. So I got desperate to get it. And that’s when it all went to shit. I started lookin’ for shortcuts. Takin’ the easy way out. And I lost sight of what mattered, and got in way over my head. My patience had worn thin.

The more I hung out backstage or at the Rabbit and saw that money flowin’, I didn’t wanna wait my turn. I wanted to make some noise. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to jump the line. I wanted Dickie fuckin’ Watson hell or high water. No … I deserved Dickie Watson. But it was Dane Preston that was gonna get that chance.

The guy that couldn’t beat James Raven. Not the girl that … did.

Then I opened my stupid drugged up dicksucker and started diggin’ my own grave. When FIGHT sat me out at Countdown, it was like havin’ my heart ripped from my chest. My whole world was fallin’ apart. And on the final night of Countdown? It finally did. Everything I had to my name was gone over the course of a three day event I wasn’t even involved in, and if that wasn’t enough, I was almost blown up when FIGHT Tower nearly imploded. I’d fucked up everything in my life, from my relationships to that second chance FIGHT had given me. It was time to start over. Take a page outta Watson’s playbook and reboot the system. Enter CCP Enterprises. Enter Sahara v2.

You all need to understand somethin’ going forward; you ain’t ignoring me anymore. You ain’t dismissing me anymore. I’m not some ‘jane come lately’ that shows up and makes a splash and then fades away into the night. I’ve been at FIGHT since the start and I’m here to stay, and it no longer matters if you bitches won’t step up to me, because now I’m steppin’ up to you. And we’ll see who keeps up, and who folds under the pressure. I’m the one you all know stands a chance of doin’ what no other has been able to do; to bring Ol’ Yeller out back and do what’s gotta be done. Short range execution. Right between the eyes. When I get that chance at Blood Money, I’m gonna sheath my lady sword so far up Watson’s ass that he’ll taste the hate on my fucking blade.

But make no mistake, Watson’s the end game. There ain’t no doubt who’s king in FIGHT, but know this shit and know it hard … no king rules forever. And I don’t care who I gotta go through to get there, I’m gonna run ya over. And in case you’re wonderin’ how far I’ll take it? If Dane Preston himself somehow defies all odds and emerges from his cocoon at Blood Money and gets in my way? I’ll put his ass back into that coma along with the rest of ya. And keep in mind, I actually like Dane Preston … so imagine what I’ll do to you. Chris Page saw something in me that I’ve been holdin’ back … took me aside and instilled some of that wisdom only a veteran of so many years could possess. Said it was there for the taking, but that I’d have to step up and take it, not wait for it to get handed to me. Like sleeping beauty, he showed me how I’ve been asleep. How I’ve watched others rise up and blow past me on the FIGHT highway because they worked their asses off and made it happen. Yeah, even the fine folks in the NSQ. I put Sahara on auto-pilot and was cruisin’ along, waiting for a handout. Hell, if I’m bein’ honest, I wasn’t even driving … I was just a passenger goin’ along for the ride. But no matter how many princes I fucked, I fell deeper into my slumber. Dane? Ricky? Vincent? It didn’t matter. I couldn’t wake my blonde ass up. No matter how many pills I swallowed, or how many drinks I drank; I could not pierce that veil of sleep. I now find myself on the precipice of losing it all. And finally, my sapphire eyes have been opened. It’s time to throw caution to the wind. Sleeping Beauty is no more. I’m now in the driver’s seat. I’m doin’ what I want, when I want. Starting today, I am Sahara unleashed. Throughout my life, she’s served as my sword and my shield. My protector. My defense mechanism. But it’s time to go on the offensive. My eyes are locked on the ultimate prize. And right now? The gateway to that prize is Blood Money. Tickle us, do we not laugh? Prick us, do we not bleed? Wrong us … shall we not revenge. Yes, we shall. I want you all to look me in the eyes. I’m finally awake again. Every passing day from now until then, my strength returns. And at Blood Money 2 … at the pinnacle of pandemonium in what’s to become the most violent place on Earth? I’m gonna paint the house of mouse red with your blood. Every last one of ya. Friend or foe, it doesn’t matter. If ya get in my way, I’m gonna motherfuck you right outta the Magic Kingdom. My. Kingdom.

~~~~~

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a woman of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long years
Stole many a man’s soul and faith