It should’ve been easy.
Throughout the year the evidence pointed in one direction, that the odds were firmly in Silas’ favour. His previous encounters, each perspective competitor's performance in individual matches, and the people they were up against. Silas had the performance stats and the credibility to finally put his year-old demon behind him, and move forward as a hot commodity.
Instead, his desperation got the better of him. He put his championship on the line to get the match, and allowed Autumn to pick the stipulation. She used his emotions to her advantage, and while the final memory he had was a long descent towards the stage, the familiar hazy sight of concrete corridors and people in white medical jackets told him the final result.
He lost it all. His demons had won.
The doors flew open to the designated medical room, and the frantic doctors got to work.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Stupid sonofabitch. What did he think was going to happen!?
ASSISTANT: Focus, doctor!
Silas was placed on the medical gurney, and the good doctor got to work examining the barely conscious man, starting with his chest. The closing moments of the match had seen the patient falling and landing on the stage, risking the rupture of several internal organs and internal bleeding. The doctor frantically looks at each and every bruise surfaced, trying to find additional abnormalities and signs of concern. If he was surprised, he didn’t show it.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Minor fracture of the ribs at least.
He forcefully opens the mouth of the Canadian and shines a torch inside, checking the back of his throat.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Bloody throat, likely caused by blunt force trauma--Are you writing this down?
He turns to look at one of the assistants, whom gives him an affirmative nod before Dr Leggett gets back to work. Stethoscope equipped, he carefully places them either side of Silas’ lower back. Several seconds pass, as the doctor listens with unrivalled focus.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Breathing slightly restricted but otherwise normal.
And now to the eyes. Both were red with the strain of the match, akin to someone who has not had an ounce of sleep. The pupils responded to the sudden flash of light, but otherwise expressed a sense of emptiness that the doctor had not seen from him before. He looked at Silas, not as a doctor but as a concerned acquaintance, for several moments as Silas finally regained his senses and looked back.
No flash, no bravado. Just the look of a man who feels nothing but pure hollowness.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Slight eye strain.
The assistant noted it down.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Leave us.
The assistant started noting it down, before she, among with her colleagues, gave Dr Harmon a look of surprise.
ASSISTANT: Doctor, shouldn’t we--
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Please...leave us. I won’t say anything more.
He was almost begging, but he didn’t say any more. They looked at each other, before resigning themselves out the door. The assistant herself left last, leaving the clipboard of notes on the side as she did so. The door closed shut, leaving only the former WCWA US Champion and the good doctor.
Dr Leggett just looked at Silas, not angry, more a mixture of surprise and disappointment, akin to a skilled student who had committed vandalism. Leggett, as is his job, watched the pay-per-view live copiously, and had expected to see the likes of Zach Van Owen or Dorian Hawkhurst in the emergency room, given their stipulation had the potential to cause some serious damage to their bodies.
He knew the Last Man Standing match would be a tough watch, but he wasn’t quite expecting the conclusion to be what it was. Autumn didn’t want to beat Silas, she wanted him completely out of the picture. Whether or not it was successful will be determined in the coming weeks.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: You’re a damned fool, Silas.
He picks up his notes and shows Silas, whom simply sits there without a single hint of remorse, regret, pain, of valor.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Do you realise how lucky you are to have these injuries, Silas? How lucky you are that you’re not on an operating table to ensure you’d remain a paraplegic, at best!?
He picked up a pen and started writing down his personal notes on the document, commenting on the luck his patient has before finally signing it.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Climbing up on the titantron, are you insane!? What did you think was going to happen!? Did you think that you’d get the advantage? Did you think of the possible repercussions?
He looks back at Silas in sheer desperation. He speaks as a person, not as a doctor, in the vain hopes that his words could piece the ‘athlete’s shell’, and into the emotional core of a person.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Do you know how many of us, medical staff and officials were watching this match? After that damn stunt many of them had to go home because they thought someone just died! They thought it turned into a snuff film all of a sudden--do you realise the pain you have caused not just to yourself but to our staff? Many of them likely won’t come in next week, having just bore witness to your damn foolishness!
He keeps his look on Silas, nearly breathing heavily as he poured every ounce of his emotional experience towards them. It was a doomed effort, he knew that from his past experience, but he wasn’t familiar with the type of indifference he was experiencing. Silas was normally expressive, but since the man regained consciousness, he’s just sat on the gurney and stared at the doctor.
Suddenly, the fire and passion the doctor expressed moments ago, gave way to concern as the state of Silas slowly clicked with him.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Silas? Are you alright?
Bad question, and the doctor knew it as he near interrupted himself for something more appropriate.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: How are you feeling?
He didn’t answer, just the cold stare to give at least a tangible answer. Harmon moved to his side, and discovered that Silas wasn’t looking at Harmon, but just what was ahead of him. It just so happened that Harmon was in front of him. The doctor takes a brief look at Silas, top to bottom, just to find some sign he could work from. There was no sign of the familiar Passenger that distorted every nerve in Silas’ body, nor was there anything abnormal like a sickness he could’ve caught while in the ring. Seemingly perfectly normal.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Is there anything I can do for you?
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Any….water? Orange juice?
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Do you want me to get your stuff? I’ve got you scheduled for a train home.
Nothing, and Dr Leggett was running out of options. He took a few more seconds to find something he could say that might help Silas.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Silas, I need you to work with me. I’ve got you cleared for next week against Nina for Modern Warfare, is that what you want? You’ve got it! First class ticket home? You have it, it’s part of your contract!
No response. He just blankly looks on into the abyss, acknowledging nothing and no one. As if in pure instinct, the doctor picked up some bandages and returned to his patient.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: I’m going to bandage your ribs up, ok?
No response, and the doctor simply sighed in defeat. He carefully wrapped the bandages around the upper-midsection of Silas’s body; forcing the bandage under his arms as the usually weirdly polite psychopath remained completely disconnected from reality. Nothing was reaching him, not even his usual mannerisms, as the doctor finalises his work.
Dr Leggett takes a deep breath, and reaches the end of the line.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Silas, please. I’ve bandaged up your ribs, I’ve cleared you for work-- what else can I do to help--
SILAS ARTORIA: You can’t help anymore, Harmon. You’ve done everything.
Without another work, Silas calmly stands up without as much as a limp within his legs, and crossed over to the door he was carried through, not even giving eye contact to the man who just examined him. Nothing changed on his face, as he opened the door and crossed through to the otherside. There was no hint of glamour or hostility, as the door slowly closed behind him.
The doctor kept his eye on the door for a few moments, still perplexed as to what just occurred.
The repetitive tones of the train tracks resonated throughout the vehicle, playing a dead song as the beautiful sunset shone through the miles and miles of corn fields. Accompanying the repetitive tempo is one coming from the tapping of a pen, almost in pure unity.
Silas' hand had a light grip on the pen, as he stared outward to the horizon, taking no notice of anything or anyone. His expression was one of pure stoicism, showing nothing of the familiar grace and elegance that he had showcased to the CWF for over a year.
He slowly turned towards the frame; the tapping of the pen stopping in the process.
SILAS ARTORIA: What? Do I need to say anything more? Did you not watch the show?
He looks back into the sunset.
SILAS ARTORIA: I don't go into every match wanting to be defeated. But I sometimes go into them also looking to achieve another objective. It could be to make a statement, it could be to fix something that was broken, or it could be to wash away the sins that have been building up over the past year.
A deep sigh escapes him.
SILAS ARTORIA: You know what happened. I wanted to leave something behind, but I let it get the better of me to the point that they nearly killed me. That was my fault. All of it. No one but my own.
His lips curl, flinching with light pain.
SILAS ARTORIA: Autumn failed to kill me, but needless to say she has left some lasting damage that will affect me at this crucial point of time.
A long pause as the winter sun continues to set, lightly darkening the skies and giving the train carriage a sense of coldness, as if frost finally covered the steel structure.
SILAS ARTORIA: Modern Warfare. The long road where you are one mistake away from eliminating yourself from relevancy, and I am going into it at the lowest point I have ever felt. And against Nina, someone whom I don't know.
He lightly pressed his head against the cold glass; condensation forming around the contact point.
SILAS ARTORIA: She could be a worthy opponent. She could be a total cakewalk. Or she could be on the same level as I. Possibly. Likely. But I need to focus on more than just the potential Nina has, or what she has in store come Evolution.
He breathes out, forming a little fog among the glass.
SILAS ARTORIA: I need to treat Modern Warfare as a ladder, not to just the CWF Championship but to something better.
SILAS ARTORIA: A better me. A restored me. Someone who stops feeling sorry for themselves and remember why they go out into the ring; why they love to compete week after week after week. I'd love to be in that mindset right now but--
He takes another moment to pause, during which he slowly lifts his head up and looks back at the camera, expression completely unchanged from when the frame originally caught him.
SILAS ARTORIA: --but I'm not in the right place right now. I need to be by myself right now. Now...
He leans into his chair carefully.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...please leave. I need some time to myself.
The tempo of the train went on, and on, and on.
The doors to the front entrance opened, and through them stumbles one Silas Artoria; one hand carrying his luggage, and the other clutching his bandaged ribs. He flicked on the lights, looking around the handcrafted architecture with sheer disappointment. There were treasures all around him, some priceless, but none could provide him with the comfort he solely needed.
He took a deep sigh, then crossed over to a nearby telephone. It was beeping twice. A quick press of a button and the speaker started playing.
ANSWER MACHINE: Good evening Mr Artoria. You have...one...new message.
He began his journey down the long, great corridor as the message started to play.
ANSWER MACHINE: Hey, this is Stephan Wrathrall from the Toronto Electric Company. We’ve noticed some irregular activity coming from your residence, and in accordance to our policy, we’ll be coming around to check your meter. Have a good night, Mr Artoria.
No, no he wasn’t. The last thing he needed was someone who doesn’t understand him bothering his weary afternoon, and with the sound of a distant thunder strike, he opened the double doors to the one thing that could possible provide comfort.
The sheet separated the piano from the outside world, and with one swipe, the Ivory white shine showcased itself to its owner’s heir. Silas looked longingly at the structure soberly, with his eyes lightly welling up, before he carefully picked up the nearby screwdriver. One by one he played the notes, and one by one he carefully tuned each one so that it was pitch perfect; nothing less for arguably his prized position.
He sat down carefully, rested both his hands on the keys, and gently started to play.
Tonight, the Artoria Compound only heard the sounds of a weeping man, and the beautiful songs played on the Viscountess’ piano.