Cancun, Mexico, even though it is late, the beach area is still busy with tourists trying to make the most out of the summer day before the incoming storm hits. Sanford Thibodaux is enjoying a cold beer in one of the chairs on the balcony overlooking the long coast line, sweat dripping off his brow, but obviously enjoying himself. Alastair McLean is on the other side of the table, a glass of whisky in his hand, but with a worried look at The Shadow, who has taken up a spot near the railing, sitting on a narrow piece of concrete on the edge of the balcony, his gaze lost in the distant lightning visible in the approaching dark clouds coming in from the Caribbean Sea.
Alastair: Ye hae tae at leest drink somethin', ye hae bin haur fur hoors.
There is no reaction from The Shadow.
Sanford: Good luck, Alastair, I’ve been trying all day. He’s at the end of his rope.
Alastair: I cannae blame him.
The sound of the patio door opening draws the looks of both Alastair and Sanford.
The Shadow: Any news, Ciaran?
The red-haired druid stops dead in his tracks, spreading his hands wide and mouthing a “How did he know” towards Sanford, who just shrugs.
The Shadow: Don’t waste your time trying to understand…
Ciaran: No. He is still not talking and I don’t expect him to either. He has not spoken a single word since we got him.
The Shadow: Because he’s not programmed to do it. The only one that could make him talk is Stewart and he went too deep undercover.
Sanford: So...what are we going to do?
The Shadow: We wait for them to come.
Sanford: What if they don’t?
The Shadow: They will.
There is a finality to The Shadow’s words that stop any further conversation as the picture fades to black.
The oncoming storm has arrived, the formerly busy beach is now deserted, the wind stirring up the sand, the normally calm waters frothy and whipping onto the beach with the storm’s fury. The dark clouds have swallowed the sun’s rays, leaving the beach area in a hazy twilight. Still one lone figure is braving nature’s onslaught facing the storm, his black hair blown almost straight back. The camera circles around him, the view time and again obscured by flinging sand, while The Shadow’s gaze never falters.
The Shadow: You know the old trope, that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? While it is true that to have been able to feel love, to experience it, to give and receive it is beyond any feeling life can give you. But does it make the pain, the agony of losing that love any less intense? Any less painful? Does it make the void any less palpable and deep?
Here I am, a man that has lost almost everything I held dear, my wife, my health, my friends, well, most of them. Greater men have fallen before the losses I faced, yet I am still here, I am still standing, staring adversity right in the face. Or in your case the burlap.
He slightly shifts to look at the camera.
The Shadow: So what happened in the end, Ataxia? What kind of screw did Stewart find that he could tighten (or loosen) to the point of you finally having been pushed over the edge? I think that we all can wholeheartedly agree that you have never been your “normal” person. Your past has more clouds hanging over it than Britain during autumn and nobody knows how you became, well, you. How did the mask come into play? Where did this Ataxianism come from, the unpredictability?
I am sure that these are questions a lot of people would love to see answered, but right now they do not matter. Right now the only two that are burning in my mind are where Myfanwy is and how to get you out of whatever stupor you seem to be stumbling around in, because I think we can all agree that despite all the zaniness and the apparent insanity this is even beyond you. What kind of spell does Stewart hold over you?
He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, shaking his head.
The Shadow: We’ve reached a stalemate. You have Myfanwy, I have DJ. Stewart is nowhere to be found and now we are going to meet yet another time in the ring. This has to end, Ataxia and this WILL end. Am I still the same man that ran the gauntlet at Modern Warfare? Yes and no. Sure, I have not really changed, I am still me, but having to deal with you and Stewart’s antics and now trying to find Myfanwy and make sure she is safe - there is only so much a man can do before something has got to give.
I fell into a slump, lost my title, lost so many more things, but as exhausted as I am, the fact that I will have one more chance to finish this business with you makes the stony path worth it, every step after painful step. Sure, I lost against Dan Ryan last week, but you know what? I don’t care. I truly don’t! To be honest, I could not care less about what happened there.
A thunderclap briefly disrupts his train of thought, lightning illuminating the scene, bathing everything in its ghastly white light for a split second.
The Shadow: My eyes are on you. Sure, I might have blinders on, I might not have my eyes on the prize that everybody thinks I should have them on, but extreme measures demand extreme actions. And isn’t it fitting that they made this a coffin match? Right up your alley. But why not make this a little bit more interesting, since we are at the beach. Let’s make this a Buried at Sea match.
He points at himself.
The Shadow: So look at me, Ataxia. The last survivor of the mighty Forsaken. What is there left for me to lose really? Nothing. And you know what? It is my biggest advantage over you. I have my back to the wall, there is nowhere else to go but up. You want DJ? Oh, I will bring him, but I want Myfanwy there as well. Stuff me in the coffin, I don’t care, but do not expect me to stay down. Do not expect me to accept defeat. Do not expect me to leave without Myfanwy and do not expect to walk away unscathed.
Ataxia, you will meet your judge and jury at Paradise and you will be brought to justice, even if it is the last thing I will do. Come Tuesday your world will never be the same again…
Another thunderclap rattles the speakers and a lightning strikes on the beach at the same time, briefly blinding the camera. As the image of the Cancun beach returns, there is nobody left.