He quickly bursts into his locker room without the opportunity to talk to the cameras.
The victory against Ataxia was a godsend for Silas Artoria. Nearly a year ago the two had a series of matches together that ended in failure, despite the Passenger surfacing throughout this period. And now, with his efforts to better himself giving him results inside the ring, he finally overcame an obstacle that had crept under his skin for an insurmountable amount of time.
Unfortunately, the victory wasn’t without it’s setbacks. Silas was battered, bruised, tired, and bleeding profusely. The tax year had not ended, so Dr Leggett had not yet returned from his forced vacation, so the damage caused by a combination of his cane and Ataxia’s addition of barbed wire essentially shredded his inner lips.
He made his way towards the sink, and opened up his mouth to inspect. Cuts from the wire completely clouded his gums, but fortunately it looks like it didn’t penetrate the skin to cause too much lasting damage. Worst that can happen is unusually large ulcers for a few days.
He turns on the sink and starts to wash his mouth out, with stinging pains dictating his finger movements along the gums.
PASSENGER: Bravo, Silas, bravo.
Silas froze for a moment, but soon returns to scrubbing the blood out of his mouth.
PASSENGER: I must say that your efforts against Ataxia are impeccable, and your resilience is outstanding despite the sheer amount of torment you went through. It is something that should be admired by many, and from the crowd reaction you seem to be succeeding.
Silas spits out some blood.
PASSENGER: Just one more hurdle to overcome and you’ll finally fulfil the promise you have been circling around for over eighteen months! Truly a marathon journey to accomplish what many others were able to do in a fraction of that time.
More spit and Silas shot up to the mirror.
SILAS ARTORIA: What’s your point?
Silence clouded his mind.
PASSENGER: What happens after next week?
Silas continues to stare in the mirror, breathing slowly and trying to come up with an answer that was brief and to the point. The seconds entered the double digits in what felt like nanoseconds, and in the end, Silas had only one answer.
SILAS ARTORIA: I don’t know.
PASSENGER: You’re completely directionless.
PASSENGER: A shame for someone with our talents.
There is a spotlight from above, shining down on the ground; shrouding the area around it in pure darkness. Nothing to see, just the one spot. Silently, Silas steps out of the dark and stands in the middle of the light, head up and facing the frame. His posture was professional, smart, no hint of relaxed cockiness. His face was crestfallen-like, and his lips are scabbed up from his previous duel.
He stands there for several seconds, before taking a deep breath.
SILAS ARTORIA: Let me tell you a story.
The lights burst on, and the surrounding area is lit up clearly. Silas is standing in the middle of a ring, and the Pepsi Center reveals itself to be eerily empty. No a soul in sight, just Silas.
SILAS ARTORIA: Two years ago, a young man gets a call from a wrestling promoter, offering him a place in something called the Crescendo Tournament.
He closes his eyes, searching his thoughts for the next part of the story, while slowly controlling his breathing. He opens his eyes, and he starts to very slowly pace around the ring, circling the frame.
SILAS ARTORIA: They had no intention of allowing this young man to gain anything significant from their participation. They just needed someone to fill the final spot on the cards due to an unexpected retirement. The man had time to spare and was able to arrange travel and accommodation quickly.
He faces away from the camera and turns instead in the direction he was going. The frame can clearly see one side of his face, but the lack of visage is made up for his arms starting to become more animated. It moves in rhythm of his speech, while using his fingers to number each point. The tone of voice becomes progressively more frustrated, yet able to maintain calmness.
SILAS ARTORIA: He travelled with this company around Japan, and fought valiantly against the far more experienced athletes. Match one, pinfall defeat. Match two, pinfall defeat. Match three, countout after being knocked out by a devastating finishing maneuver. Match four, pinfall defeat. Match five, TKO from being unable to answer the ref after being powerbombed multiple times. Tiredness sinks in further, and match six, seven, and eight ends in more pinfall defeats. The young man is transported from town to town to essentially be kicked around like a trashcan. He was fulfilling a purpose to the promoters, but inside he was hollow, tired, exhausted, and depressed.
He stops. His arms don’t move from the position they were just in, and the aristocrat slowly starts to smile. Comforting. His voice reflects this change of tone, a soft, welcoming change.
SILAS ARTORIA: For some reason, this young man was able to muster up sheer energy and his resilience allowed him to outlast his final opponent. Whatever it was, something woke within him, and was able to not only defeat his opponent, but also deny his opponent an outright tournament victory.
His head slowly turns towards the frame; his face maintaining the smile.
SILAS ARTORIA: This man was the champion, top of the roster pyramid, and beloved by the people of his native homeland.
The smile changes, less towards light joy and leaning more towards euphoria.
SILAS ARTORIA: And he was beaten by a guy who didn’t win a single match under the promotion’s umbrella.
He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, releasing the euphoria that was building up inside him throughout the final part of his little story. He eyes open softly, and one of his arms slowly returns to his side; the other moving to reinforce his presentation, again counting.
SILAS ARTORIA: Funny thing about titles, there are ways you can place yourself in the championship match. One, is to beat another opponent in a match to designate the number one contender for said championship.
Beat. His hand counts two.
SILAS ARTORIA: Two, you are directly challenged by the champion themselves and accept it.
Beat. Count to three.
SILAS ARTORIA: Or three, you pin the champion in a non title match.
His relaxed hand leaves his side, and is now mirroring the other. His voice progressively becomes more reinforced and punchy, as he gets progressively more excited.
SILAS ARTORIA: So the young man found himself in the position where he could elevate himself to the top of the company, despite being both an outsider, and a man with the most abysmal win/loss ratio in the company. It was undeniable in two, near incompatable ways, but the path was set. Both he and the man he beat would have to face each other for the championship, and when the young man succeeded in rolling him up for another victory, he set the stipulation.
He clicks one of his fingers and looks up.
A metal, coat-hanger resembling plate hangs above the ring, suspended by a chain. The click beckons the plate, and the chains start to lower. Silas holds out on of his hands, flat, and the plate, about the same width as the man himself, rests upon it.
He grips the upright equipment, and gazes upon the silver coated plate.
SILAS ARTORIA: I have a certain philosophy regarding ladder matches. Some people believe that to make a ladder match, you just need to strap some sort of object onto the harness and suspend it above the ring. First to get the object either wins or is able to legally use it as a weapon.
Long pause. His lips and his grip harden.
SILAS ARTORIA: I hate that mindset.
Sharp exhale, as his attitude leaned towards a careful but punctual and paced tone. He takes time to think, as his finger traces the corners of the triangular shaped steel.
SILAS ARTORIA: Mr Allen, I see the ladder match as a symbolic representation of our struggles. The victory is within your sights and you can nearly touch it with your fingertips, but there is more to it than that.
He looks towards the frame, as his stone faced expression is maintained.
SILAS ARTORIA: You have to prove than not only are you able to outsmart and outwit your opponent within the rules set out before you, but you have to prove that you are able to keep your lead without needing to constantly look back.
He lets go of the plate and the chain lifts it back up towards the heavens, and the wondrous Silas stands under the ascending equipment. He keeps his eye on the plate, and doesn’t squint despite at least two dozen lights shining down from above.
SILAS ARTORIA: A victory in a ladder match means that you have truly ascended above and beyond the rest of the roster, and it should be a milestone in your whole career. It should be the transition for before to after, and it’s a match where your victory should never be forgotten.
Pause, before his voice becomes somber. Regret, distraught, any emotion that could cause a man to be hurt from the heart, passes through the aristocrat.
SILAS ARTORIA: My last ladder match ended in failure. I wasn’t good enough to ascend out into greatness, and a man called Hidetaka Ito showed me that I wasn’t quite ready to be the man that I wanted to be, and in a way, the two of us are in the same position.
His head slowly lowers itself back towards the camera, and his face becomes stiff with pure determination, wanting to get the message across to those watching.
SILAS ARTORIA: We both claim to greatness, but we are mired by our pasts and our battles; stuck in the ceaseless cycle of fighting to accomplish even something minute. And now we have dealt with our past and buried it in our private cemeteries, and are ready to take the final step and stand beside immortals for all eternity.
Beat, he adjusts his foot positioning.
SILAS ARTORIA: I won my matches against you through outside interference, and you your match against me thanks to a glaring blunder from a third party, but the ladder match I presented to you, will serve as insurmountable proof that one is, indeed, better than the other.
She slowly starts to walk towards the frame, in a manner similar to a predator stalking its prey. The movement forces the frame to travel backwards and between the ropes.
SILAS ARTORIA: Problem is, you see the ladder match as a means to get property back, while I see it as the definitive end to an everlasting struggle.
He grips the top rope in near frustration.
SILAS ARTORIA: And yet, even after the match was made official, I still feel that I am missing something.
His face starts to slowly relax, and his eyes noticeably change to an emotion unfamiliar with the aristocrat. Unease? Fear?
SILAS ARTORIA: And I’s scared that the missing piece will serve as my downfall.
Beat. His breathing is low, and his lips are slightly quivering.
SILAS ARTORIA: I don’t want to go back there, Mr Allen.
He looks at the frame for several more seconds, but then closes his eyes. Deep breath, exhale. Deep breath, exhale. Deep breath, exhale once more. His eyes open slowly, but coldness and emptiness are the only things that exist in his look.
SILAS ARTORIA: So...try to take your precious property back, because there is no way on this earth that I will allow you to banish me back into the shadows from which I have lingered for long enough.
A pause, but a light smile escapes him. Deep breath, exhale. Pause.
SILAS ARTORIA: The Japanese word for cheering someone to do their best by their own efforts…
SILAS ARTORIA: ...is ‘ganbatte’.
His smile widens, and explodes his devilish teeth.
SILAS ARTORIA: Ganbatte, Jimmy Allen, because you are going to need it.