In other circumstances Zach would probably laugh at the surrealism of recent events. He was declared clinically dead for a few brief moments after being poisoned, and brought back from the brink by the determined efforts of the Pennsylvania Hospital emergency response team, fronted by one Dr. Steven Richards. Yet, despite that he is still VERY much averse to the idea of facing up to his dad. A reality that is becoming more real as Adam Vaughn continuously demands to see his son, growing more incensed with each attempt.
‘He’s probably come to scold me for not even dying properly.’ Zach morbidly thinks to himself, unsure who he’d rather be in this instance. Himself, or the hospital staff.
“YOU IDIOTS ALMOST KILLED HIM! YOU BETTER LE ME SEE HIM NOW, OR SO HELP ME GOD I’M GONNA SMACK YOU DOWN WITH A MASSIVE FUCKING LAWSUIT!”
Guess there is no avoiding it now. At least Zach is able to get out of his bed. If not for the attempt on his life he probably would be discharged by now. The youth, formerly known as Impakt, signals to the attending police officer, a sympathetic individual named Ray Traylor, to permit his father’s entry. The look Officer Traylor responds with is a promise to the young Zach. With naught but a signal, the officer of the P.P.C.D will happily take “Atomic” Adam Vaughn down. The notion brings a small smile to Zach’s face, one that doesn’t last however when his dad storms into the ward.
“Fine mess you got yourself into now kid.” Adam Vaughn scowls. Zach can just feel the love. “You couldn’t listen to me just once. You had to go run off and do your own thing again. And now look at you.”
“Great to see you too dad.” Zach replies sarcastically.
“Don’t start up with me. The last couple of years we were worried sick about you. Not knowing where you were. And then I discover you disobeyed me yet again and had been wrestling. Under some stupid mask and name too boot! Are you trying to embarrass me? After all that hard work I put in to make the Vaughn name mean something?!”
“Cause everything thing I do is about you dad. Sure.”
“You’re just lucky you aren’t worse off.”
“I’m so sick and tired of people saying I’m lucky. First of all, LUCK AIN’T A SUPERPOWER! Secondly, how the hell am I lucky? Someone tried to kill me! And I think he’s working on behalf of that prick PI you hired to try and track me down.”
“If you hadn’t-”
“No. You can’t force the blame on me. I’m not the one who hired such a disreputable dickhead. But guess what dad. You won. I hope your fucking happy. I doubt I have what it takes to ever step foot back into the ring. Not after all this nonsense.”
“I did try to warn you Zach. You just aren’t cut out for the business. You don’t have what it takes. At least now you see that.”
Zach pauses and for that moment considers ceding defeat and accepting the blame. Then he recalls having cheated death (without the use of cheat-codes) only just recently, standing up to his dad is nothing in comparison. He steels himself.
“No. Fuck you dad.”
“WHAT?! You dare?!”
“If you had even once seen me as Impakt. Actually saw me, you would have realised how wrong you are. Sure, I never really won anything. But it’s not always about the winning. I was having a great time, enjoying myself and was getting a lot of praise from some of the big wigs. And now…well unless something is done Ouroboros are gonna send the CWF straight to the Shadow Realm.”
“Now you hear this boy. Loud and clear. You will never wrestler under my name. You will not diminish everything I have built because of your foolish delusions of grandeur and don’t you EVER use my finishing move again. You hear me?”
“Perfectly clear. The funny thing is…dad. For years I wanted to be like you, to be a Vaughn and fight beside and for you. But then you had your accident and you became a shell of your former self. Any threat I may pose to your legacy is pointless, because no one could damage that name anymore then you already have. I no longer want to be like you dad. I just want to be me. Now you can Fuck-Ro-Dah yourself right out the door.”
There is a brief moment as the anger within Adam Vaughn dissipates and something akin to a father figure shows itself, looking to his fallen son with worry and remorse. But it doesn’t last long.
“We expect you home the second you are let out of here.”
Zach waves his dad off in response. The Vaughn patriarch readies himself for another explosive tirade, but sees sense and thinks better of it, making his exit.
That is not the end for Zachary Vaughn however. Another visitor comes a-knocking at his door, having just witnessed in passing the rage-tornado that is “Atomic” Adam Vaughn…Let’s just say the nickname is well earned.
“Now I understand why you were so determined and so focused. That is quite the Dragon. With a sizeable shadow to pull away from.”
Zach turns to regard the newcomer.
“You being the expert and all on shadows I take it.”
The Shadow responds with a playful shrug.
“In a sense.”
“What do you want.” There is a bit more edge in his voice than Zach intended.
Though the Shadow is not necessarily unwelcome, Zach is just worked up close to boiling point.
“I have come to see how you fare. News of your…death has travelled.”
“Well I’m fi-Wait. What? My death?”
“You are aware Xander Haze poisoned you. His motivations are at this moment, unclear. But no one has seen fit to tell him you survived…yet.”
“What better incentive to get you back into a ring, then to face your would-be murderer.”
“You really think I’m ready to get back into the ring?”
“Only thing stopping you, is yourself.”
“For good reason! That makes what, two people who could have easily killed me? I mean this isn’t close to what I imagined a career as a professional wrestler would be. Fighting for the fun of it, for pride. Not life and death! I didn’t agree to Mortal Kombat!”
“Zach. Be calm. I can understand your misgivings, but there is something ou truly need to understand. And I know you have heard this one too many times. But for most of us, this isn’t a game. It’s not a soap opera. This IS life. This is our reality. Professional wrestling is not a simple competition, but mortal struggle, a real fight with tangible stakes and consequences. For most of us, this is our livelihood. It is not as if the results are predetermined and everything we say and do is scripted.”
“And maybe that’s a world I don’t belong too. Maybe, just maybe, my dad is right and I don’t have what it takes.”
“I do not believe that. And I don’t think you believe that either. We’ve all seen what you are capable of, we’ve seen you bound into the ring heedless of victory or loss. And most importantly we all saw what you tried to do at Paradise, standing up to the darkness that is Ouroboros. That my friend takes guts. And heart. And THAT is why some of us have rallied behind you, and supported you. THAT is why I know you will step foot back into the ring. It won’t be easy, I understand that. You have doubts and fear, but there are others who have lost far more than you. There are those battling much greater demons and they still somehow manage to fight, each and every day. Do you not even realise that someone like you is a beacon of hope to those others? All you need is a more tangible and extrinsic reason to keep up the fight.”
“Alright, alright, I get it. Trying to guilt me back into action.”
“This is a defining moment in your career, your life Zach.”
“Yeah I know. My choices really matter and the story will branch off accordingly. I just. I don’t know Shadow.”
“Golden Intentions is just around the corner. You have to decide. Do you want to continue?”
The Shadow raises his hands and starts slowly counting down with his fingers.
“It’s not that simple…”
“Dude, come on.”
“Gah stop rushing me.”
“Alright. Stop already. Geez.”
Satisfied the Shadow drops his hands, a smile creeping over his face.
“Gaming references, my one weakness…Look, I don’t know if I still got it in me. But if you and so many others still believe in my, then I’d be doing you all a disservice if I didn’t at least try. I’m gonna need some help though.”
“Oh that, I can happily oblige.”
There is no denying that Zach’s mind is full of doubts and apprehension, but the Shadow somehow managed to reach into the young man’s soul (in a totally positive way) and inspire him to push harder. Made all the easier by Zach’s desire to get out of the hospital (lest others try to finish the job) and to spite his dad.
There are worse reasons...