Today we find ourselves in a strange place, unfamiliar but familiar all at the same time. A long dark hallway in a derelict school. A thick layer of dust rests over every surface as if to remind us that this hallway hasn't had a foot upon it in many a long year. The familiar sight of Thomas Roll greets us as he floats through the halls in a dreamlike state.
"I remember it like it was yesterday, running the gauntlet the other kids in school lovingly called it. The bully filled hallway between the entrance to the school and classrooms at the other end. Every morning the children of the school had no choice but to face their darkest school fears and set forth into the danger filled hallway of doom.
Now for your average run of the mill student running the gauntlet was a scary enough prospect, but for me the new Asian kid in school? It was nothing short of terrifying.
As I stepped into that hallway the sweat dripped off my brow, my heart beat out of my chest it felt like I was going to explode. I hoped no-one would notice me, sadly though my hope, as it so often is was misplaced as a hand reached out and dragged me to the side of the hall. "
"Well what do we have here? The 70's called they want their hair back!"
A couple of school bullies stood before me one of them was a skinny blonde kid named Chuck the other his accomplice.
"Haven't ya heard? There's a tax on new kids who start here so you either pay up or we beat you up!"
"T..T.. Tax?" I stammered
"You heard us lunch money or punch money!"
They high fived each other as if the joke made sense.
"I need this for lunch though? Please leave me alone"
"Don't say we didn't warn ya!"
All of a sudden everything moved in slow motion as a balled up fist came towards me, I wanted to dodge, I wanted to fight back, but I just stood there, I did nothing. As my face exploded with a cascade of pain I literally did nothing.
"Same time tomorrow?"
The kids laughed and fist bumped as I ran away from the scene.
I spent the entire day with a seething rage building within me. Despite the anger I felt I just knew that I wasn't strong enough to fight back. I knew that tomorrow it would all happen again, however, that night on the way home all of that was about to change.
It was 4pm and I was rushing back home from school, my face still lightly throbbing from the earlier events of the day. I quickly shuffled through the run down part of the neighborhood when all of a sudden I heard a familiar voice.
"No please don't! I beg of you!"
The voice belonged to the bully from earlier Chuck. My eyes instantly shot a gaze over to where the sound had come from.
"Just let me get home please I done nothing wrong to you!"
Shockingly there in front of my on his knees was the big bad bully from earlier, stood above him was another kid who had a sick smile plastered across his face.
"Any last words Chuck? I warned you that if you walked down my street again it would turn into beat street!"
"This's the way I have to walk home!" Chuck sobbed.
"Aw poor Chuck gonna cry like a baby? Pathetic!"
The kid hurled his fist towards Chuck's face with a sickening thud. Luckily neither of them noticed me as I shuffled silently past. I remember the feeling of understanding that washed over me that day. I realized that Chuck was no tough guy he simply acted like one and everyone believed it.
That's when I discovered what this world was really about, this world isn't about being yourself. It's all about pretending to be whatever person you need to be to get where you want to go.
The next day at school I wasn't scared of running the gauntlet anymore, that hallway of bullies was nothing but a hallway of actors playing the part of a tough guy.
The next day I approached the gauntlet with a new found confidence, I realized as the new kid in school I can be whatever I damn well want to be and if today I want to play the role of the tough guy that's what I'll do.
I strode through the hallway with a swagger that said don't mess with me and when Chuck and his friend approached me before he could even get a word out out I leaned back and smacked his buddy clean in the mouth. From that day on I never had to worry about being the new guy or taking part in the gauntlet ever again. not until I came here to CWF anyway.
Thomas stands at the end of the hallway looking down towards the end of it.
"Now I find myself face to face with a coincidental case of history repeating itself, I stand at the end of a hallway yet again the new guy having to battle my way through a hallway of bullies.
However this isn't the same scenario as it once was a lot of things have changed since back then, I've changed. I'm not the same person I used to be. Some say long ago I went insane lost touch with reality, but perhaps that's just what I want people to think."
Thomas smiles at the camera.
"I don't have a personality anymore, what you see before you is merely a man with many masks, all of which have a time and a place to be used.
Who will we get this week at twilight of the gods? Who will run the gauntlet? The jester, the fighter , perhaps even the monster? Maybe all of them? I'll leave you all guessing for now,surprise is an element much sought after in the game of fighting and surprise is what I specialise in.
I'm going not only going to run the gauntlet at twilight of the gods, I'm going to break it and when I smash my way out of it's broken corpse the Paramount title will be strapped around my waist and there is not a damn soul who can stop me.
Silas Artoria I'm afraid your reign as champion is about to come to a swift and abrupt end. I'm gonna take Tom Marrow and Mad dog murphy out to the barn and put old yeller down and as for you Scourge perhaps I will show you what true darkness looks like as I crush you like a pathetic little bug.
Long ago as the new guy in school I ran the gauntlet as a boy and came out a man. This time I run the gauntlet as a man and come out a champion. HIT IT!"
All of a sudden Thomas Roll's DJ flies out of a door he starts to spin the decks and Thomas Roll begins to dance as the scene ends.