It didn't take long for word to get out. It didn't take long for police to swarm the place. Coroners and medical personnel were flooding the scene, along with news reporters and all the media outlets.
Every single student, professor, member of faculty and staff had their exit interviews. Every person in the building had to relive those excruciating details just moments after going through them the first time. They had to recall everything they saw, everything they heard, or thought they saw or thought they heard. The detectives got every detail of every relationship anyone had to Trenton Michaels, trying to draw lines and conclusions to why he did what he did.
They never had a chance to ask him because it was me who put a stop to the rampage. It was me that killed off any possibility of a motive or explanation.
Rumors ran wild immediately.
Whispers of speculation offered the possibility of a second shooter.
Some students had different accounts than others, some were just in a disturbed haze of confusion and recollection was an impossible task.
I recalled my story just like all the others, from my time hiding in a broom closet like a coward...to my time bringing an end to another coward's destruction.
They shook my hand. They all shook my hand and they thanked me for my courage, honor and sacrifice. To me, I didn't feel courageous. I felt like it my moment of hesitation that caused so many deaths that day. Maybe I couldn't have stopped them all, maybe I couldn't have saved them all....but I could have done more. I could have done much more, and maybe some of those people would still be here today to thank me for it. Instead...I hesitated. Fortune does not favor the hesitant, and that is a lesson I will never forget again.
A week later, after things had settled down, the State College Police Department contacted me. They wanted to award me a Citizen's Medal of Merit for my role in "preventing a tragedy". I refused. I told them I didn't prevent a tragedy, I merely brought an end to one. I brought an end that came much, much too late.
They insisted. They said that the community felt it needed done. I decided to accept the award at my father's request. In some ways, it felt like an honor, but in other ways felt like it was just the exclamation point the public needed to bring a thrilling conclusion to the saga. Like it was just that easy to pick up the pieces.
I spent the next several days attending funerals, thirty four of them. I felt it was the least I could do. That was my finality, that was my resolution. I greeted and gave comfort to their families, hoping to offer any kind of sympathy I could.
Never again would I allow myself to be so selfish. Never again would I allow myself to hesitate.
(An excerpt from "A Moment of Introspection" written by Quentin Scarboro)
That was it, that was my big debut, Modern Warfare. The bright lights were incredible, a sensation I haven't felt since walking into Beaver Stadium for the first time. It was exhilarating. It truly felt like home.
Sure I had to deal with a few snide remarks from Tara Robinson. Maybe they don't know me yet, maybe they don't believe in me...
I'll make them believe. This Paramount Grand Prix is my opportunity to atone for past mistakes, this is my second chance and I will not let that out of my grasp so easily.
Come Evolution, I am going to be the phoenix rising from the flame. I am the American Thoroughbred, and in PGP, this Rookie Block is going to prove to be my hunting ground.
I've always hated the downtime between the big games in the past, it just seems to drag, and the professional wrestling business doesn't seem much different yet, at least in that aspect. I am still brimming with energy, eager to train and prepare myself to run the table in this thing. For now, I pass my time on the farm with my father. To his credit, he keeps me plenty busy. Milk the cows, bale the hay, and whatever you do, do not forget to keep the wood burners full so the farmhouse doesn't get cold.
He can't get around like he used to, he says. I guess he's glad to have me stick around after all these years, and I suppose, I'm glad he's stick around through all I've been through as well.
I got the call, the luck of the draw drew up the name of my next opponent, and it is plenty enough to give me motivation in approaching the weight bench.
I load that thing up with a couple hundred pounds of dumbbells. 315 pounds of dumbbells, exactly, I think, as I picture the monster Scourge in my mind, the demon, the Alpha of the Omega. The Darkness Incarnate.
I lay down across the weight bench and I laugh.
Scourge is no monster at all. He is just a self absorbed figment of his own misery. He is just another cookie cut out of the horror movie collection catalog.
Maybe this guy was abandoned at birth, maybe he didn't have the greatest upbringing. Fact is, once we step into that ring and go toe to toe, our backgrounds and our upbringings aren't gonna matter jack shit.
See, Scourge, all that is going to matter is fists and flying elbows. All that is going to matter is that when I lift your big ass up and slam you on your back. We will match power versus power. Brick shit house of a man versus the wrecking ball. The big bad wolf can put on his Halloween makeup and play his spooky music on the way to the ring, but the demolition man is coming to town and I am not leaving that ring without two points for Big Q, When it comes to PGP, I'll be rackin' and stackin' em.
...and I'm not gonna stop until Big Q is Big Qualified for a Paramount championship opportunity at the Confliction Pay-Per-View.
The 310 pound bar is raised from the rest position, once, twice.
As that sweat drips from my brow, nirvana.
That is, until I hear my incessant father yelling from the other room. I drop the weight and get to my feet, quickly making my way down the hall of the farmhouse to greet him as he is standing there in front of the kitchen table.
Lucas: Quentin, I just woke up from a nap and you know what?
Q: I know you were napping, Dad, I could hear you snore.
Lucas: Nevermind that! You know what?
Lucas: I'm hungry. Why don't you go down the street and get us some grub. I could go for a cheese steak.
Q: I'm trying to focus on the match I have coming up. This guy is no pushover.
My father laughs.
Lucas: Just hit'em with two moves and finish the match like ya did last time! What was it you were saying about a footballer who hardly did anything but took credit for his team's accomplishments? I was watching Modern Warfare, buddy, you weren't fooling anyone out there!
Q: Oh, quit yer yammering, Dad. We have plenty of food in the home, make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Lucas: That is how you are going to treat your old man on Valentine's Day? Really, that's what I get for bringing you into this world? I brought you in, I could take ya out, ya know.
That was always one of his favorite sayings, ever since I was a little boy. I know it was meant to be ironic, a joke, but I just get a laugh at the thought of the two of us in a physical confrontation. Something tells me that such an encounter wouldn't be good for his health if it came down to it.
Q: Valentine's Day....did you get me a card? Did you get me flowers? How 'bout chocolate? Man, you want me to take you out on a date? You gotta be outta your mind.
Lucas: Hey now, hey now...Q...did you not hear what I said?
Lucas: Cheese. Steaks.
Q: Shit, man, why didn't you just say so. Count me in.
Scourge, go ahead, buddy, watch another Creed music video. Field some calls from your abusive pops or that voice inside your head or do whatever you have to do to psyche yourself up for this match. Whatever you do, do not hesitate....or you are going to be spending the night flat on your back in the Horseshoe Hotel.
I always liked pancake platters, and I'll be serving them up all night Tuesday night.
You may be Darkness Incarnate, but when those bright lights come back on I'll be flipping the switch.
I'll be flipping the script and filling the stat sheet.
Scourge, zero. Big Q....two.