Land of Shadows (2.01) Shadow of the Abandoned Jan 28, 2020 22:59:22 GMT -5 Cory Steel, Rick Majors, and 3 more like this
Post by Stormm on Jan 28, 2020 22:59:22 GMT -5
In the distance, the sound of screeching tires moving back and forth across a paved road rang through the night sky. There was a slight breeze from the north, rustling the tall grass and weeds in the endless sight of Midwestern plains, and the moon, just bright enough to illuminate the middle of nowhere landscape. At this particular spot you would find a solitary road sign, indicating to anyone on its path that they were heading north on U.S. Highway 81.
The vehicle that made no effort at keeping its presence to nature, or the small town that illuminated the horizon to the North, finally came to a halt, but not without first sliding a good distance at a ninety degree angle from the direction in which it came. At a temporary resting place, the vehicle sat, its lights still turned off and the engine still running. Hushed voices could be heard from within, scheming, as the black cargo van rocked about. With a couple of slams and an order from an older sounding man, "Do it already!" the sliding door on the passenger side of the van came flying open, and two large men tossed another of equal size to the pavement.
Still this man lay, bound with straight jacket, but still breathing. "Let's go!" Another order from inside the van was taken, and the back tires began to squeal as the engine revved, and the sliding door was slammed shut. As quickly as the van came to a stop, it was back in motion heading in the direction from which it came. With a final glance, one could even make out a Kansas license plate attached to the rear of the vehicle as the lights were turned on just as it drove out of sight.
As the sounds of an engine being pushed to its limit and tires gripping pavement faded into the night, all that remained were the rustles of wind caressing the grass and weeds across the fields that nearly camouflaged the highway from sight. However, a new sound emerged, that of a man breathing, clearly in pain. As he struggled to bring himself to his feet, the straight jacket prevented him from gaining full use of his arms in his attempts.
"What the fuck?" He questioned with persistence while as he continued to find a way to get upright. As if the record were broken, this went on for several minutes, and what would seem like hours to the man. He was clearly shaken up as the subtle moonlight reflected off a puddle of blood on the pavement, coming from a more than noticeable cut above his right eye. The chilly night air became more evident as the man's breath could be seen with every breath, as well as steam coming from the blood resting on the cool pavement.
With the help of a couple already unbuckled straps on the straight jacket, the battered man finally freed himself from its bindings, and tossed the restraint into the ditch. Mere moments later, after several minutes of struggling, he was finally up on two feet, unsteady, but still able to keep his own balance. This would not be the case for long as he quickly reached out and grabbed the pole to the lonely road sign to steady himself again. Obviously he was still shaken up from the bump to the head he had taken, amongst other things that might have happened before he appeared from within the black van that was probably twenty or more miles away by now.
Continuing to use the road sign for leverage, the man turned around, using it to lean against, resting his shoulder blades on either side of the pole. "Where am I?" One of many questions running through his head at this point, he chose this one to ask aloud, as if the rustling grass or half full moon would reply.
Unable to move without dizziness or pain, he stayed put for the time being, and decided his next step would be to search his own pockets of the tattered blue jeans he was wearing accompanied with a plain white t-shirt and nothing more than a pair of plain white socks on his feet. In his back pocket, he found a wallet, and quickly looked through it, finding nothing more than a note written on a piece of torn legal pad that read, "Take 5 Daily."
He quickly tossed the note aside, having no idea what it meant, which wasn't a big shock, as he couldn't remember anything prior to the point in which a less than gingerly landing on the pavement woke him up. "Who am I?" Asking aloud again, with extra emphasis on 'who' he was. He turned his attention to the front pockets, finding nothing in the right one, though; he did pull something from the left.
Producing an unmarked prescription bottle full of pills, he thought back to the note he pulled from his wallet just moments prior. The blank white label on the bottle did have the same note, written in the same handwriting as the note. Ir was right then that the man, who was doing nothing more than trying to make sense of the situation, couldn't help but show his emotions. Tears started to run down both sides of his face as he frantically looked around for signs of life, and with the lights of the small town on the horizon to the north, the man had no choice but to struggle with the pain, and find it within himself to set out for help.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed himself back upright, standing alone on two feet. Steadying himself there, he took another look at the bottle of pills, and let out a heavy sigh, opening the bottle, grabbing one of the small white pills inside, and put it in his mouth. There it sat for a few seconds as he worked up enough saliva to aid in swallowing the pill. "What in the Hell is going on?" He asked aloud once more as he took a step and stopped, still unsure of himself.
Able to keep his balance, he did his best to ignore the pain he felt, and began walking. Headed in a direction he was unsure of, knowing nothing about who he was and where he came from, and certainly having no concept of what was to come, he had to follow the path life threw him right then and there... a path leading to nowhere.
...Shadow of the Abandoned...
Sitting inside of an opened file folder labeled “Patient 727” was a single Poloroid photograph. The picture was taken at night of man lay unconscious on the side of the road underneath a US Highway 81 sign. Written in black marker under the picture were the words “Alive – Geneva, NE”, and in smaller writing under that in the corner was the date “10/22/09.”
Just a day after Justin’s birthday was the last sighting and known location for the man that has been missing for over a decade. While the late Dr. Sorrow was the mastermind behind it all, Justin couldn’t shake the guilt he’d carried with him for years over having Kaden committed to Southwind Gardens for treatment.
The young Greek superstar had his share of personal issues, but under Justin’s tutelage, had started to become something of a national phenomenon in the states. Due to his rise in popularity, the Force of Nature figured solving some of his mental health issues and forcing his ideals onto Kaden’s personal life was in his best interest. “To get ahead of the beast,” as he had put it back then.
Little did he know, back then, who Dr. Sorrow was, let alone what he was capable of. He definitely knows now.
Underneath the opened folder were the three other files passed onto him after the passing of his uncle’s wife, Margaret. On the bottom of the stack was his own, nothing he needed to look at, and nothing he had looked at since being handed his “inheritance.”
Above his own file, the file marked “Patient Zero” was sticking out just barely. Dr. Sorrow’s file. Or, more aptly, Wayne Arthur Michaels’ file. The only piece of information inside that hadn’t been redacted was his birth certificate, which Justin had verified for authenticity. A truth that has left a bitter taste in his mouth, knowing he was actually related to that monster.
Lastly, between the opened folder above it, and his great-uncle’s below it, was the mystery of the lot. A big red “CONFIDENTIAL” was stamped across the front of the folder itself, but the tab was still marked, just like the rest of them, with a black label from a hand-held label maker. “Finn Dahl” was a name he’d never heard of, so he’d yet to open it.
The mystery of it definitely intrigued him, but the search for Kaden took precedence over someone who might as well have been a John Doe to Justin. Yet, he still found himself flicking away at the bent back corner of that specific file while contemplating his trip northwest, to Nebraska.
“How early do you plan on leaving in the morning?” Lindsay’s voice brought him back to reality, and he looked up from his stupor. Her messy blonde hair didn’t distract from her beauty, to the contrary, it added to it in Justin’s eyes, and he smiled at her.
Picking the Poloroid up and giving it one last look before tossing it back down and closing the folder over the top of it, he stood up from his desk. “If I’m going to make it back in time for us to catch our flight, probably pretty early.” He responded.
There was still a faint glow coming in through the windows of his office as the Winter sun sat down over the hills and trees. Along with the decorative lights reflecting off of the showcase of Stormm’s past accomplishments in the trophy cabinets, the two could just make out each other’s features. “I still think you should have left yesterday, and given yourself more time.” Lindsay admitted as she flipped the overhead lights on to her husband’s sanctum.
“I spent too much time away from you and the kids last year.” He planted a kiss on his wife’s forehead as he made his way her, wrapping his arms around her midsection, and resting his hands on her stomach. “I need to prioritize.”
“If he’s still out there, I can think of a couple people who would appreciate you prioritize finding him.” Lindsay stated. “Could you imagine if Joe or Remi just disappeared?” She questioned, resting her head against the side of his as he sat his down onto her shoulder. “It would be worse than outright losing one.”
Kissing her neck and letting go of her, Justin let out a heavy sigh. “You’re right, and it’s been almost fourteen years since I basically sent him to purgatory.” He conceded. “Why didn’t I go looking for him sooner?”
“I suspect you thought, just like me, that he’d turn up eventually. Or, maybe, he didn’t want to be found, and sent back to that hell.” While she was right, Lindsay’s statement didn’t reassure Justin at all. “I know that’s now what you wanted to hear, but it also gives you something to fuel the search, knowing you get to come clean, and share the tragically good news with him.”
Justin shook his head and stared at the floor. “I don’t even know how to go about explaining the last couple years, let alone the last decade or more.” He huffed. “If he’ll even let.”
It was Lindsay’s turn to kiss Justin, not out of affection, but out of comfort. “At the very least, you’re going into it with the thought that you will get to try and have that conversation. Until then, you just have to keep looking, or start.” She smiled, and gave him another little peck. “Besides, this is something the kids and I can do with you, or at least travel with you as you look.”
“Which is why you and the kids are staying home tomorrow while I drive seven hours there and back?” Justin joked, nudging his wife gently in the shoulder.
“I said it’s something we can do with you, not something we will always do.” She giggled. “Do you really want to stick them in a vehicle for that long, just to put them on a plane later?”
“Maybe we just leave them here with Izzy, and you can come with me?” He asked sarcastically. “It’s been a while since we’ve gone ‘cruising.’” Smiling slyly at Lindsay, she lowered her eyelids at him.
“Bless your heart for trying, but you’re still not going to get me to do that again.” She playfully shoved Justin away from her. “After that first time, I’m not sure why you’d even suggest it.” She smiled at him, and cut him off before he could say anything. “It’s not happening on the plane either, mister!”
He impishly snapped his fingers and winked. “That’s fine, but you’re never going to stop me from asking.”
Justin flipped the office lights back off, and the couple walked out to the living room where Izzy and the twins were. As the kids continued to grow, Izzy’s role in the Michaels household continued to evolve. Not only had she basically become a part of the family on top of her live-in nanny duties, but she’d also taken on more responsibility with helping to manage the busy family’s schedules.
They loved having her around, but they had started to realize that it was mostly a way for her to avoid her own family. The problem was, they did a good job of avoiding her as well. “So, my parents aren’t going to meet us in Greenville after all.” Izzy said as the couple sat down onto the couch. “So I guess I’ll come sit in the booth with you and the kids Friday night, if that’s okay?” She asked Lindsay.
“That’d be great!” Lindsay exclaimed. “Too bad about your parents, though. We can’t wait to meet them.”
“Yeah, can’t wait.” Justin said under his breath before being on the receiving end of an elbow to the ribs, and a pillow flung from across the room. “I’m just saying, your Mom is too afraid to find out we aren’t the white devils she makes us out to be, and your Dad, well, he just needs to stand up to her from the sounds of it.” Justin stated bluntly. “Hell, get him to come by himself, I bet he’d love the chaos that Trauma is going to devolve into this week.”
“He has asked about it since you and him talked over the holidays, but Mom is, well, she’s Mom, and he has to live with her, so I don’t blame him.” Izzy rolled her eyes. “What’s so special about it this Friday, though?”
She was still pretty green when it came to understanding professional wrestling, both from history and storytelling aspects, as well as the sport itself, and all the rules behind it. “PCW has a history of these big matches with a lot of people in them turning into, well, to be historically accurate, they’re cluster-fucks. Not that one-on-one matches have ever been that much better, just with six people in the ring at once, that’s a lot of ego, and too much for one referee to facilitate.”
“Justin!” Lindsay shrieked, glancing at the kids and then back to him.
“Oh, they are too busy watching,” he paused to look at the television, “whatever the hell that is to have heard me anyway.”
The room fell silent for a moment, except for the cartoony sounds coming from the show the twins were enthralled with, and all three adults couldn’t help but picture the first time little Joey dropped an F-bomb after hearing Justin say the word himself.
“Whose this Cory Steel guy, anyway?” Izzy broke the silence by asking another question, continuing to show her ignorance towards the business that brought Justin and Lindsay together.
“Honestly, I’m not sure who he is these days, because he certainly isn’t the same Cory Steel I remember from his time here before. Not that our interactions back then were favorable at all.” Justin explained. “I lost a triple threat match he and I were in because he ate the pin from the other guy in the match with us pretty easily.” He continued. “Our other two run-ins were in big tag matches similar to the one coming up, and neither of those ended well either.” Justin thought about it for a moment, trying to recollect those events from nearly five years prior. “Maybe one of them ended in a big mess like what’s probably going to happen this week, I don’t quite remember.”
“You seem to always draw the short stick when it comes to tag partners, babe, I don’t know what it is.” Lindsay joked, and Justin couldn’t disagree at all.
“Yeah, and they keep booking me in them too. Not only do I get stuck with a guy who hasn’t been around for a while, but it’s against two other teams who see me as little more than a giant target.” He sighed. “I took the title from Grimm. Good old Gerry and his goon wanting to take it from me, and then Dominator, biding his time until he can try and get his hands on it. Can’t imagine Steel feels any differently, and wishes he could take a crack at the World champ too, rather than being teamed with him.”
“So this cluster-fuck you speak of.” Izzy smiled as Lindsay shot her a dirty look with a crooked mouth, trying to hold back a grin. “Would that be a bad thing with a match like this?” She asked.
“As long as I don’t get hurt, if it stops the match quick, it definitely wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.” The Force of Nature began to scheme, wondering if he could contribute to the anarchy, and work some (more) mental instability into the mix early on and either squeak out a victory, or at the very least, get the referee to stop the match, and have it end in a no-contest draw. “The last thing I need starting this year off with is an injury.”
The wrestling talk had finally been taken notice of by the kids, and during a commercial break, Remi turned toward her brother, and let loose the cutest battle cry. “Body slam!” While she hadn’t quite hit the nail on the head with her word choice, she landed a near perfect crossbody on her brother before slapping the rug three times for the pin, and both twins let loose infectious belly laughs.
It was probably the cleanest match any Michaels would be involved in all week.