6 Jan 2008

Colonial Center, Columbia, South Carolina (seats 18,000)

Life Support

It was all planned out so perfectly.

The Hacker had taken the appropriate steps to do so. The Hacker had started small, leaving messages on the CSWAvision to let them know who was there. The Hacker had slowly escalated the attacks until the crowning achievement " the hijacking of the Parsons Cruise Liner II.

Ray S. Cornette would have been proud.

It should have ended there. Just like Ray S. had hijacked the original PCL and tried to blow up Hornet and Mark Windham fifteen plus years ago, the Hacker had hijacked the rebuilt PCL and tried to drown the CSWA on what has since become known, affectionately and sarcastically, as the Cruise of Deception.

The Hacker didn’t want to legitimately kill any one person; the CSWA itself needed to die. The Hacker had watched this proud, unstoppable juggernaut run rampant over the landscape of professional wrestling just like the NWA had done forty years ago, and then watched the CSWA let it all slip away because of ego and complacency. Just like the NWA.

The Hacker had thought the PCL hijacking would have been the end of the road " Thomas was insane and unfit to run this company, leaving him and his crew stranded on the same island as last time would have been fitting punishment.

But then again, GOLD RUSH was more fitting. As much as The Hacker wanted the CSWA to die, the Hacker also loved the CSWA more than anyone could possibly know, and the GOLD RUSH was the perfect way to say goodbye to the business.

There were almost tears when everyone said goodbye that night, and The Hacker was short of breath as luck was wished, health was wished, and hopes to see each other down the road somewhere was wished.

Then McGinnis had to go and ruin it.

The Hacker was reminded of something that Eli Flair once said " Eli had moved away from the Bronx after September 11th, 2001, because he felt the city start to die, but he kept coming back because McGinnis had refused to let it. Six years later, McGinnis refused to let the CSWA die. The Hacker knew that McGinnis would keep booking shows until she popped out her kid and had to medically slow down, but by then the CSWA would ebb away to nothing, and that was not a fitting end for this proud company.

Ray S. Cornette, once again, would have been proud. Of her.

But McGinnis was filling the company with false hope, and false promises that they could bring the CSWA back to the greatness it had once enjoyed, and that would be worse than ending with the hijacked PCL and no final show.

McGinnis wasn't really a target, not really. Just a pawn in the game. Hopefully she would be able to forgive what was about to happen.


“Hello, Teri.”

“Who is this?”

“A friend. I need you to do something for me in Columbia.”

“Why? Who are you?”

“If you don’t, you’re going to find your most intimate secrets splayed on the video wall. And you know I know them all.”


“Good girl.”

And if she couldn’t forgive, that would be too bad.

Keeping the Network Happy

“We’re glad you could join us, Jim. It means a lot to us.”

CSWA owner Stephen Thomas walked down the hallway in the Colonial Center, a group of production assistants following in his wake. Walking directly beside him, James “Jim” Putsmear, the Programming Director for cable station U-62, home of CSWA events in the recent years.

“I’m glad I could be here, Steve. Getting SHOWTIME back on the air live is an important priority for us. It’s been too long,” Chuck replied.

“I agree wholeheartedly. Do you remember the last time you were with us?”

“Of course I do. Way back in Portland at the last SHOWTIME. Right after you and I made the deal to get you back on U-62 after NCN had that little problem with one of your guys throwing a fireball into another’s face. Craig Miles, right?’

“That’s right.”

“We’ve missed these events. Especially in light of the recent… ahem… scheduling issues. Don’t get me wrong, PRIMETIME and VERSUS continue to be ratings grabbers for the station, but after the issue we had with the PRIMETIMEs that were filmed on the Cruise…”

“Trust me, I know,” Stephen grimaced.

“…well, let’s just say that airing ANNIVERSARY free on U-62 went a long way to getting you back in the network’s good graces. And tonight will help even more. We both know how well the CSWA’s live events have always done. We just need to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Right?”

“Of course,” Stephen grinned, “We’ve got the situation handled.”

“Good. Because I don’t think my bosses would be real thrilled if we have any… repeats… of what we saw on the Cruise.”

“Not a problem, Jim. As you can see,” continued Thomas, “we have our best security possible keeping the card secure and flowing forth.”

Jim looked unconvinced. “This is a laptop.”


“My computer is more advanced than this.”

“Is that so?” asked a familiar voice, as she sat down in front of the laptop computer. Ivy McGinnis put her bottle of water on the floor behind her station by the Hot Zone, “Let me explain how this works. We’ve completely eliminated the network signals from the show tonight. Everything that’s broadcast on the Vision has to come through this system. Every camera feed comes through this system. You can’t hack my software with a chainsaw, skippy.”

Skippy? “Now hold on a second"“

“You know how these technical people can be,” said Thomas, quickly, as he led Jim away, all the while shooting a death glare at Ivy, “Absolutely no people skills.”

“Not bad,” said Rudy.

“Thank you, shugah,” replied Ivy.

Welcome to SHOWTIME!

BB: HELLO WRESTLING FANS! And welcome to CSWA SHOWTIME in Columbia, South Carolina, here at the Colonial Center, home of the Gamecocks!

SB: You don’t really want me to touch that one, do you?

BB: In so many ways, no. Fans, we’re LIVE here on U-62 and thrilled to be back with you for this event. Off the heels of our last PRIMETIME up the way in Chapel Hill, we’ve got some incredible matches lined up. In a rematch from their double countout from PRIMETIME, Lawrence Stanley and Troy Douglas will face off in a match that will certainly impact their standing in the rankings.

SB: We have rankings? Who knew.

BB: The championship committee, of course.

SB: I just assumed that was Thomas, a monkey and a wheel.

BB: Also at PRIMETIME, JJ DeVille and Bobby Karma faced off against the United States and Presidential Champions in a tag match for the right to challenge for their titles. That means tonight, it’ll be JJ DeVille challenging Kin Hiroshi for the US Title, and Bobby Karma trying to make the Presidential Championship his first CSWA title by taking it away from two-time champion Cameron Cruise.

SB: It’s been a long time since there was a match where I wanted to pull against both guys in the ring. But I think that’s one of them.

BB: Greensboro Champion Kevin Watson looks to make it two successful title defenses in a row, but he faces Ice Tre! Also tonight, we’ll hear from Hornet, Eron the Relentless, Nova, Simon A. Theodore, as well as a special announcement about the CSWA’s next pay-per-view from Stephen Thomas. It’s the return of FISH FUND!

SB: The greatest cause in the world. Making fat women skinny and ugly women pretty. Is there anything more beautiful than that?

BB: You make it all seem so…

SB: Well is there!?

BB: I’m not even going to attempt to answer that one. Folks, it’s a packed SHOWTIME here on U-62 in primetime, and we’ll get started after --

(CUE UP: “Love Me Or Hate Me” " Lil’ Wayne)

Welcome Back

(Former CSWA star "Triple X" Sean Stevens steps out onto the rampway to the surprise of the crowd.)

XXX: Thank you, children.

SB(V/O): Glad he doesn’t have an attitude.

XXX: I’m a busy man. I’m defending World Titles in front of sold out crowds, I’m kicking ass everywhere I please, and I’m mere days away from humiliating Rocko’s Modern Life and holding onto MY World Championship.

So why am I here?

Simple. This is the CSWA.

(Pop from the fans)

This is where the greatest become legends.

(Bigger pop)

Simply put, climbing to the top of the CSWA will make the rest of the world finally realize what most of them already know " that I am the greatest wrestler in the sport today, and I am going to take my rightful place.

With the UNIFIED Championship, or without. But I think we can all predict how this story comes to an end. So why doesn't someone come on out here and we can start this off right?

(Triple X dropped the microphone to his side, and leaned on the ropes waiting for an answer.)

The best laid plans…

“There goes another one,” replied Ivy, as she clicked something on her screen, “I think he’s distracted by something, right now I could keep this going one-handed.”

Rudy Seitzer looked over her shoulder. Her setup was incredible " she had about nine separate workstations opened, each split down the middle. On the left of each was all the information that was received by the CSWA’s setup and halted at her workstation, on the right, was all of the information she was allowing through. Several times, obvious hacker attempts were thwarted at the gate.

“Call it a stroke of luck and let the show move on,” replied Rudy, his tone lowered, “from what I understand, Mr. Putsmear has the contracts in hand in Stephen’s office, and we’re finally getting picked up again because of the plugs you’ve put in the security holes.”

Ivy smiled. “It’s all in a day’s work, Rudy.”

Rudy shook his head and turned away, towards the locker rooms. “Even when you’re doing something selflessly, McGinnis… humility doesn’t look good on you.”

“Most things don’t,” added Teri Melton, as she walked past both Rudy and Ivy’s setup with a cup of steaming hot coffee in each hand.

“Don’t you have a conference table to buff with your back somewhere,” asked Ivy, not taking her eyes off the screen, “As it stands, you’re just taking up space.”

She smirked. Teri stopped walking, and turned towards her.

“Of course, how would Thomas get his coffee without his secretary, right?”

“Listen, McGinnis,” said Teri.

That’s all she got out.

In what seemed like a slow " motion reenactment, Teri tripped over a combination of her own two feet, the various wires strewn about the arena proper, and various other debris that may or may not have been there.

What she tripped on doesn’t matter.

The fact that both cups of coffee landed squarely on Ivy’s laptop, with a good deal of splatter hitting her shielded " by " stockings legs is what matters.

Ivy jumped up, both in pain from the scalding hot coffee, and in shock at the sparks that flew from her cherished machine.

“What did you do?” she asked, “Do you know what you just did?”

Teri’s eyes darted from the dead laptop to the setup across the room. Three of the engineers nearly immediately turned around towards the women. Ivy immediately bolted out of her chair and ran towards the loading dock where the production truck was parked.

“Game over,” whispered Teri.

Impromptu Main Event!

BB: “Triple X” Sean Stevens is BACK in the CSWA, and he's just tossed out an open challenge to anyone who wants a piece!

SB: Maybe Ivy can come out and they can tongue-wrestle.

BB: Don’t you think that’s a bit much, even for you?

SB: Hey, if the FemiNazi is going to become Betty Crocker, where better for the world to see it than LIVE on SHOWTIME.

BB: I don’t think it’s Ivy, but it looks like business is about to pick up!

(The arena goes dark.)
(CUEUP: “Time of Dying” by Three Days Grace)

On the ground I lay
Motionless in pain
I can see my life flashing before my eyes
Did I fall asleep?
Is this all a dream
Wake me up, I'm living a nightmare

I will not die (I will not die)
I will survive

(Still dark, except now spotlights are flashing around the arena. Everywhere except the entryway and the ramp.)

SB (V/O): Who the heck is this? And where are they?

BB: I’ve got no idea. Triple X called out anyone in the back, and it looks like that’s just what we’ve got!

I will not die, I'll wait here for you
I feel alive, when you're beside me
I will not die, I'll wait here for you
In my time of dying

(As the chorus begins to repeat, the spotlights converge on the entryway. As the crowd erupts, CSWAvision springs to life. In the lights, a man stands in street clothes.)


BB: The one and only! And he’s marching down the ramp with a purpose! We haven’t seen these two tangle since Hornet last held the United States Championship.

SB: Forget the title, Buckley. These two were really fighting over one thing, or should I say one FemiNazi in particular. It’s the old boyfriend versus the one who knocked her up!

BB: Come on Sammy. A little respect.

(Hornet rolls into the ring, tears off his jacket and pulls off the T-shirt underneath, tossing them toward Rhubarb Jones. He’s smiling, but he and Stevens are already jawing at each other.)

BB: Hornet clearly wasn’t expecting to wrestle tonight. He was scheduled to appear, but not in a match. It looks like he’ll be wrestling in jeans and sneakers, but I don’t think he cares!

SB: Why should he? He’s getting paid just to show up and lose like he did at PRIMETIME to Nova.

BB: And I think it’s safe to say that no one except you considers that a “bad loss,” Sammy. Nova is one of the standout stars of the year.

SB: Why? Because he’s renamed every move in the book with some smarmy, smarky name? Come on. The man’s a tool.

BB: Referee Patrick Young has joined the ring and is calling for the bell, so it looks like this one is official! It’s the Blue Eyed Badass against the CSWA’s Franchise Player! They lock up, and Stevens quickly uses his lower center of gravity to try and whip Hornet across, but the former UNIFIED Champ reverses and sends Stevens into the corner, then follows up with a quick elbow!

SB: Blasted Bugbrain! Why can’t he just retire already? The man’s like 60!

BB: You know better than that, Sammy. Sean Stevens comes out of the corner and locks up again with Hornet. Again he goes for the whip and Hornet reverses! But this time, Sean puts the brakes on, catches Hornet with a forearm and sends him into the ropes. SWINGING NECKBREAKER! ONE!!!! NO! Hornet’s up, but the early fall by the former Presidential Champ.


BB: Isn’t it a little early for that?

SB: It’s never too early to call for Hornet’s death and demise.

BB: Just a wee bit overboard, don’t you think?

SB: Was it overboard when he handcuffed Tom Adler to a limousine? Or when he pulled out a branding iron and made an indelible mark on Mark Vizzack? Or when he…. Wait a second, those are the few things I actually LIKED about him.

BB: Sean keeping Hornet off his feet with a series of German suplexes. These two men are almost even in weight, with a slight height advantage going to Hornet. Stevens holds on, but a quick standing switch by Hornet! Full nelson locked in! Full nelson slam!!! The cover! ONE!!!!!!!! TWO!!!!!!!!!

(The arena lights go out!)

SB: What the…

BB: Fans, as you can see, the lights have gone out on us. I’m sure it a momentary technical…

(The lights come back on.)

BB: …glitch. Referee Patrick Young ruled that Stevens was able to escape the three-count. Triple X takes advantage of the momentary distraction to get to his feet… quick dropkick right to Hornet’s chest! Hornet charges out of the corner… HURRICANRANA! Hornet rolls through to avoid the pin, but is clearly winded. Sean pulls him to his feet and delivers several European uppercuts, backing him into the corner. Hornet charges out…. X-FACTOR!!! X-FACTOR!!! Hornet came out of the corner and got ROCKED by that superkick from Sean Stevens!!!


BB: It looks like he’s trying to do just that. Stevens springs to the top rope! He’s setting up for a frogsplash!!!! Will Hornet get out of the way in time or is this it!?


SB: NOOOOO!!!!! Whoever replaced Marvin better start looking for another job… this is ridiculous!

BB: Did you just say ridicurous?

SB: Why would I say ridicurous? Stop doing bloody Seinfeld jokes and GET THE LIGHTS ON!


SB: And it was good.

BB: Don’t get a complex. Patrick Young is standing on one side of the ring and he doesn’t know what to make of it. Both Hornet and Stevens are down on the mat… I’m not sure what happened with the frog splash, but it doesn’t seem like it did the damage Triple X was hoping for! Folks, we have to take a break… but we’ll be right back here on U-62!

Too late, the heroes

“Go ahead and cut off the CSWAvision completely,” said Ivy, “and kill the pyro. We know he'll try for those next. I think we’d all rather the matches look less produced if we can keep control of the rest of it.”

“We’re locked out of the entire system,” lamented Adrian as he pounded keys of his own, “He’s inside the entire system.”

“How much control do we still have?”

“The only reason the pyro hasn’t all gone off at once is because he hasn’t hit it. He's been content with letting us know he's around by playing with the lights.”

Ivy backed up, fighting off the tears that started to well in the corner of her eyes. She paced, ignoring the flare of pain that throbbed on her burned leg.

Usually she had ice water in her veins back here. But last time out, she saved Nova from being scorched by the hacker by the skin of her teeth.

This time, she was completely isolated from the system, and of all people to be in the ring, it just had to be Trip.

“Can we get Bill and Sammy on the headset yet?”

“Take a look,” replied Adrian.

The lights in the arena begin to flicker and continue to, causing a strobe-like effect inside the ring as Trip and Hornet continue to go at it no matter what. The crowd puts up with it at first, then begins to boo. The lights even out, then immediately start to flicker again.

“Damn it!” said Ivy, as she kicked the wall with the heel of her shoe.

“Options?” asked Billy Parsons.

They had no options. “Go get Thomas,” said Ivy, “and if we can’t get Bill and Sammy from back here, go get them " and Sean and Paul out of there as fast as you possibly can.”

The techs and runners hit their tasks as Ivy took off her glasses and pressed the palms of her hands into her eyes. Adrian turned his head to watch her, but he stayed silent.

“I swear, McGinnis… déjà f’king vu, all over again.”

Match Interruptus

BB: Despite the technical difficulties with the lighting, these two athletes are putting on one of heck of show! We’ve seen both men take control and get near falls, only to have the other reach down deep and kick out before the three-count.

SB: It’s a wrestling match, Buckley, not Chariots of Fire.

BB: You’re showing your age again, Sammy.

SB: Not as much as that piece on your head.

BB: Both men are dog-tired as they get to their feet following that dropkick by Stevens. It’s going to be about who can reach down and find the will to win. They charge… double clothesline and they’re both back down! But Stevens kips up and is setting up for his second X-Factor of the night!

SB: Take his head off, Sean!!!

BB: Hornet to his feet, but then drops to his knees!!!! The X-Factor misses and Hornet swings Trip around! BELLY TO BACK SUPLEX! And now he cinches in a boston crab! Triple X is in HUGE trouble here, right in the middle of the ring!

(CSWAvision, previously showing the CSWA logo, goes black… then begins scrolling text as the match continues. The announcers completely ignore it in their commentary, while the production crew makes sure to keep the camera focused on the action in the ring. The crowd, however, begins to murmur.)

Merritt…. DELETED
Windham…. DELETED

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BB: Hornet’s face is locked in concentration as he pulls back on the legs of “Triple X” Sean Stevens. He continues to tell referee Patrick Young to “Ask him.” Young keeps asking Trip if he wants to submit, but he simply screams and shakes his head! He has his arm reached out toward the ropes, but he’s still well over a foot away from getting there and breaking this hold.

SB: Something’s gotta break, Buckley. And I’m not sure Hornet will even break the hold if Trip gets to the ropes.

BB: Why would you think that?

SB: You don’t think Hornet harbors some resentment, Buckley? Hornet was with Ivy… now Trip is. And she’s having his baby?

BB: I think we saw the two of them deal with that quite a while ago. If anything, this is business for Hornet….

SB: Nothing personal. Exactly, Buckley. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a branding iron hidden right under…


(Pyrotechnics go off around the stage and flames shoot out of the turnbuckle. The fans immediately turn to the stage, taking this as an entrance cue for a yet-to-be-named wrestler to interfere…)

(CUEUP: “Ride of the Valkyries”)

(…but nothing. Except more pyro! Smoke begins to thicken throughout the arena and the explosions drown out the voices of the announcers for a few moments.)

BB: ….. looks like Hornet has released the boston crab. I think he was expecting exactly what we were… for someone to make his way out of the back and make his presence known.

SB: GUNS, Buckley. They all thought it was the return of GUNS. I know you’re not allowed to say his name, but nobody’s put any restrictions on me.

BB: Either way, Triple X has pulled his way toward the corner… his legs are shot. I don’t know that he’ll be pulling off another X-Factor kick in this one. Hornet charges in, but Trip moves out of the way and Hornet slams into the turnbuckle. But Triple X can’t follow-up due to the effect of that boston crab on his lower back and legs!

SB: Guess he won’t be walking Ivy down the aisle anytime soon, huh?

BB: Hornet pulls Trip to his feet. BRAINBUSTER! Cover! ONE!!!!! TWO!!!!! NO!! He kicks out!!! But Hornet’s not done… he pulls him back up and he’s going to send him for the ride into the corner! This crowd can smell a Hornet splash coming!

SB: Is that like a ….

(Flames shoot out of the turnbuckles again! Hornet somehow stops in mid-whip and sends Trip out of control into and through the ropes!)

BB: This is…. That could’ve been…

SB: That could’ve been charbroiled Triple X right there! I told you Hornet had something up his sleeve!

BB: Stop it, Sammy. We both know that’s not… Fans, Triple X hit hard outside the ring, but he’s trying to pull himself up and get back inside.


(The arena fire alarm has gone off. Red lights pop up around each exit as the incredibly loud siren goes off. Then as quickly as it started… it’s gone.)

BB: Fans, it looks like our night of technical mishaps continues. The arena’s fire alarm went off, but it looks like it was a false alarm. Sean Stevens has rolled back into the ring and he and Hornet are ready to lock up again. This one has been…


(And this time, it’s not just the siren. But the sprinklers. The crowd erupts in surprised screams and as they and the ring are doused. Hornet and Triple X look at each other, then at Patrick Young to find out what they should do next. The show must go on… they lock up in the middle of the ring in the middle of the deluge. In the middle of it all, CSWAvision imparts a final message.)



(The board goes black. Ring announcer Rhubarb Jones yells something up at the ring to referee Patrick Young. Young calls the match and Hornet and Trip back away, shaking their heads in disbelief. Bill Buckley and Sammy Benson have thrown their laptops and callsheets in their bags and dumped the headsets, having been told by the back that they’re off the air and the decades old “Technical Difficulties " Standby” message is up for millions to see on U-62.)


It was glorious. A triumph among triumphs.

”Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Causing all those people to scurry around like ants caught in a rainstorm. And the CSWAers, running for cover like at any moment the hand of God was going to come down and hit them with a lightning bolt.

”Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom…

Justice. For squandering every opportunity. For taking success for granted. For forgetting that fire that used to burn in their bellies to be the best. For their constant arrogance.

”Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Mercy. Not this time. Not with everything in reach. That had been his undoing, not mine. Not with the end of Merritt and Thomas at my fingertips. It had never been in their vocabulary, so why should they expect it from me. No quarter. No mercy.

”Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Ridicule. Laughingstocks. So many have tried to bring them down simply to be turned into clowns. Ray S. Cornette. Doc Silver. President Schmid. All remembered not for their contributions but for their failures. Puppets. Clowns all. But this time would be different. For all my suffering, they owe me…

”Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you…”

And so they ran. Unaware that the cause of their suffering was in their midst, reveling.

Redeemed in the waters falling from heaven.

Remade in the midst of chaos.

Reborn in the death of the CSWA.

Just... don't.

“So,” said Sammy, as he nudged Buckley with his elbow, “You wanna take this one?”

The arena staff had relocated to the backstage, and while a good number had quietly snuck out the back, most of the senior staff had hung around.

And why not? You could practically make out everything Jim was shouting at Thomas from behind closed doors. The nutcase had been, by intent or omission, making everyone else in the CSWA squirm for years since he seized control of the entire company, it was refreshing to see it come back around.

Except for the person sitting in the middle chair down the hall.

Ivy McGinnis had followed silently behind them after the show was scrapped, and even though Thomas was calm when he asked her to wait outside, there was a look in his eye that made her believe that as soon as Jim was done, she was next.

Even when Buckley sat to her left, and Benson to her right, she didn’t move from her position. She sat there with her glasses dangling in her right hand, while her left cheek, eye, and temple were covered by her left. She shook her head slowly.

“These things happen,” said Buckley, as he patted her on the back.

“Thomas knows you did the best you could,” assured Sammy, as he accidentally patted her burn.

Ivy chuckled.

“These things happen,” she repeated.

“It was all just a lot of bad luck,” continued Buckley, “You couldn’t have planned for any of this.”

“Bad luck,” said Ivy, once again echoing what was just said to her, “Bad luck is a cross blowing up in my face. Bad luck is a gang of flippin’ nutjobs tearing down my arena. Bad luck, Bill, is being locked in a cabin on a ship with people you’ve loved and hated for years.

“Calm do"“

“No, I will not calm down. What happened down there in the arena tonight, I was ready for. We had everything set up, we had everything uplinked and downloaded and whatever else you can think of " we were ready.

“You’re only human, all of us are just individuals.”

“Unacceptable, Sammy. I can’t afford to be ‘only human.’ I have to be better than that.”

“Seriously, this isn’t good for the baby.”

That might’ve been a mistake. Ivy stood up, knocking the back of the chair against the wall with a ‘CLANG’ that made Bill and Sammy, and most of the people who were still trying to hear the argument in the office without making it look like it, flinch in surprise.

“What isn’t good, Sam,” she continued, and he knew he was in for it, “is that this business has gotten so fucked up in the past few years, this company was the single holdover from the ‘boom’ that everyone likes to talk about with such reverence, and we could get there or close enough to it again so easily I can see it, but there’s always one more fork in the road.”

She looked down at Sammy from her four inch heeled boots. “You’re lucky, Sammy… you get to sit out in the arena and be funny. That’s your whole job. Some of us… some of us have a little bit more to worry about.”

Her eyes caught Sammy’s, and they locked their gaze for a few seconds, before Sammy got up and walked away. Ivy watched him for a few seconds, and looked back towards Buckley.

“That was too far, wasn’t it Bill?”

Buckley shrugged. He was not nearly as close to Ivy as Rudy Seitzer, or even Sammy in his own way " he didn’t know what he should say here.

Fortunately, Ivy did.

“Damn. Damn, damn, damn.”

When you're drunk, every crisis is a PARTY!

(CUT TO: Random insanity backstage. Employees are scurrying up and down hallways, some soaked, carrying folders of papers or, in one man’s case, wheeling a fax machine behind him on a dolly. One young soul navigates his way through the throng, arriving at last at a red door. He knocks four times assertively.)

VOICE: (Muffled behind door) “C’min!”

YOUNG MAN: (To himself) “Did he just say ‘coming’ or ‘come in’?”

(The YOUNG MAN waits for well over a minute before deciding it was probably the latter. A balding middle-aged man shoves him aside as he waddles down the hallway, tears staining his ruddy cheeks. He’s sobbing uncontrollably and yelling about how his future is lost, CSWA is going under, his wife won’t support a loser, he’s going to kill himself, yadda yadda yadda. The YOUNG MAN pays him no mind and opens the door, where he is immediately confronted by a wall of ganja smoke emanating from the monstrous doobie hanging lackadaisically from the mouth of your favorite Greensboro Greenhorn and mine…NOVA!)

YOUNG MAN: (Waving smoke from his face) “Nova…Nova, are you in here? It’s Rod the Gofer!”

(The Rising Star has to scream over the Ghostface blasting inches away from his head.)


(Rod the Gofer walks over to the boombox and turns it down mercifully.)

ROD THE GOFER: “What on Earth could you be celebrating on a night like this?”

(NOVA is very plainly drunk. The hand that isn’t pointing a taped finger at ROD clutches a bottle of bourbon in a white-knuckle grip.)

NOVA: “Well, I was just sitting here, thinking about how all the sauce was getting me pretty parched and the weed was givin’ me cotton-mouth…and then these sprinklers overhead just started peppering me with cool, delicious H2-mother-funkin’-Izz-O!!”

(NOVA closes his eyes and leans his head back, tongue hanging out of his mouth, but the showers were cut off before ROD even came in the room. All that’s left is a mini lake across the floor, tiny waves gently lapping at the walls.)

ROD: “I came here to tell you your match has been cancelled.”

NOVA: “Good. I’m wasted.”

ROD THE GOFER: “You…you’re wasted? Now? But I only just told you that you weren’t going on! What would you have done if I had said ‘You’re on in five?!’”

NOVA: “Pssshaw. I would’a thought’a somethin.’ Besides, what’s the big deal, Gramps? You’re drunk, too.”

ROD THE GOFER: “Ummm…no, I’m not. I don’t even drink.”

NOVA: “You’re not drunk?”


NOVA: “Not at all?”

ROD THE GOFER: “Not at all.”

(NOVA suddenly leaps up, runs past ROD and slams the door shut. Spinning around, a mischievous grin is visible across his bearded mug.)

NOVA: “Well you’re about to be.”

(CUT TO: The hallway, practically empty now. Suddenly the red door is kicked open, practically off of its hinges, and a cloud of thick, aromatic smoke billows out into the uncontaminated air. NOVA and his new pal ROD THE GOFER emerge, arms draped over one another as they stagger forward, practically slamming into the wall opposite their doorway.)


(They begin stumbling down the deserted hallway, happily oblivious to their solemn, dreary surroundings. NOVA stumbles to the side, and then shoves ROD with all his might, knocking him end-over-end into a large metal bin full of dirty towels. NOVA jabs a finger defiantly into the air.)

NOVA: “Rod, muh boy, we’ve sheen worse dazen this!”

(ROD crawls out of the bin quickly, a towel draped comically over half his face.)

ROD THE GOFER: (Hiccup!) “We’ave?”

(The Rising Star turns and slaps the wall.)

NOVA: “This ol’ girl’ll be alright! Trust me…” (Hiccup!)

(He slings his arm back over ROD’s shoulder and they continue down the hallway, their shoes splashing in the puddles of stagnant collected in the concrete’s recesses.)

I Hear

Punctuality has never been a strong practice of the man formally known as K-9; and now even when home base has become Charleston, SC … no more than an hour and a half from tonight's venue …

Kevin still arrives late and completely oblivious to what has gone on before …

As he lumbers into a side door he is greeted once again by Nemesis.

"It's a mess in there …"

Kevin stops briefly to take in Nemesis' words and appearance.

"Yeah?" Kevin responds.

"You might as well come with me, we have much to discuss."

Kevin replies quickly with a sarcastic tone; "I think I'll take my chances inside."

"I don't think you understood me, it is bedlam in there. The show has been canceled, I hear
U-62 pulled the plug, and general pandemonium has ensued." Nemesis cautions in a oddly casual nonchalant voice.

Kevin stops and turns toward Nemesis; "What have you done?"

Nemesis, taking little to no offense, explains "Kevin, Kevin … my simple friend; nothing at all. I simply showed up and observed as a masterfully crafted plan fell into place."

Kevin begins to speak, but is interrupted by Nemesis.

"…and before you get all huffy let me say although I admire, and truly marvel at what has transpired here tonight … I can not take credit, I've been called a lot of things in my day but a plagiarist not."

Kevin gets in Nemesis' face and begins to speak in a muffled rage, "Look, we're only going to go threw this one time. I had to fight tooth and nail to get this gig, and if you screw it for me … so help me God!"

Kevin turns away and heads down the hall way.

"God cannot help you in the quest before you Kevin! Nemesis yells.

Unmitigated Disaster

He had tried so hard. From the moment he found himself alive on the island all those years ago, he had come to terms with the fact that his life would be different. He had found the will to live through his burning desire to return home and show the world that he could be as good as anyone.

Even Merritt. The man that had shoved him out of the way and caused him to end up on a deserted island with a midget.

And he had done it. Returned and plotted a takeover that made Chad feel what it was liked to be forced out, to be tossed away like a piece of garbage.

After that, after proving he could make things run, he had lost his way for a while. But this ongoing business with the Hacker... almost driving the company into the ground... and then, ANNIVERSARY. It had given him purpose again, given him sight of the enemy again. And he had decided to prove once again that no one could shove him out of the way.

When did this become so hard?

When did it change to this?

The Stephen Thomas that steps out of the Presidential Suite is not the one that entered the Colonial Center earlier in the evening. He looked like he had aged five or ten years in a night.

Grasping the doorframe to steady himself, he tried to steel himself for what would come next. Having to tell the staff that the CSWA had lost its spot on television... would be without a TV deal for really the first time since they had gotten on almost nineteen years ago.

With no television, pay-per-view buyrates would drop drastically. He would have to drop talent, which would be disastrous given the current situation. He wouldn't be able to cover the costs of the insurance or lawsuits pending from the CRUISE debacle.

It would mean the end of the CSWA.

Who would want to do this? It's not Merritt's style. The Red Midget is under lock and key. He had even checked to make sure Schmid was still institutionalized as Green Valley Home for the Mentally Insane.

And why? Revenge? For what? Everyone he had screwed recently was all right here under his nose -- and it wouldn't make sense for them to destroy their meal ticket.

As he stirred the pot of his fragile little mind, one thing kept bubbling up to the surface. The one thing that made Stephen Thomas who he was, who he is, and who he will be after all this is over...

Wait...where was I again?

Oh yeah. Defiance.

Don't tell me I can't do something. Don't force me into a corner... or onto an island. Because you might not like what you get back.

The mind of Thomas crystallized around the singular thought, expending years of pent-up energy into looking at every facet of the problem. And all of sudden, possibilities began to open up.

He stood taller, letting go of the doorframe and pulling his cell phone out of his coat pocket.

"Marsha. I'm still in the Suite. Yes, I know they're calling... hold them off for right now. Send Hornet up here as quickly as possible. And call Birmingham and Sweetwater... we're not changing the schedule."

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