Two Falls Out Of Three
rating: +5+x

José Vargas (ring name The Nightwatch) stared, unblinking, at the abruptly terminated video call. Elianna hadn’t even bothered actually pressing the button to hang up, instead physically closing the laptop. She had her phone, of course, but Vargas decided against calling her. He clicked off the chat window and hovered over his text folder, neatly organized between “Work” and work, the latter of which was hidden under the conspicuous label of “Family” and encoded behind a series of encryption keys that made the Pentagon look like a pillow fort. A mixture of sentimentality and preemptive exhaustion washed over him when he realized he'd have to leaf through Uchikirou’s unkempt research files.

Jeez, he muttered to no one, a luxury he only allowed himself when no one was indeed around. Why the higher-ups had decided to inform Elianna of Uchikirou’s status before him, the project lead, was beyond his ken. It would've been nice to have some time to actually get some work done before his next match. Oh well. At least, he hoped, Elianna was getting some peaceful sleep.

-

Elianna was violently awakened. The car whose seat she was handcuffed to had taken a sudden left turn that slammed her head against the window and reopened the small gash she'd sustained earlier that night. Piloting the driver’s seat was Doom Machine, her opponent from her last match, and former Men’s Openweight Champion. Elianna quickly put two and two together.

“Dude, you spiked my antidepressants? Fuck you.”

Doom Machine grinned at her. His practiced, malicious smile scared Elianna less than watching him take his eyes off the boulevard they were speeding a cozy 80 miles per hour on. “That’s right, Panzer,” he hissed. “Next, I’ll spike you.”

“What does that mean?” Nothing good, probably. Panzer glanced around the semi’s cabin, all custom leather and tacky flame patterns, with a special annoyance that could only be achieved upon one realizing that they have a flaring migraine on top of a real injury. She spotted her belt, thrown carelessly between the seats, atop a toolbox. Outside the window, a camera crew from the promotion followed them closely; her instinctive spark of hope snuffed out when she realized they wouldn’t perceive whatever revenge plot Doom Machine had for her.

“Now, Panzer,” Doom Machine started again, “it’s not often that someone makes me want revenge. But you! I’ve been working for this company for ten years. I’m an icon, and you all swagger in, all the new young hotne-”

“Thanks.”

“Shut up.”

“You should be used to the sound of my v-”

Doom Machine swerved the truck. Panzer shut up.

“Anyway, ‘s not often that I hold grudges. I don’t like ‘em, you see. They carve you from the inside out, they eat at your soul, they leave you in little pieces. So I see them through. Immediately. We’re about to see you through.”

Panzer stared nervously at the toolbox. She could almost imagine the storm the commentators were raising in the dramatic pause she had left, listening, as they surely were, through one of the many mics Doom Machine’s truck was rigged with.

“When we get off this car I’m gonna turn your ass into compost.” Panzer made a show of struggling against her restraints, angrily pulling at the chair and kicking her feet.

“I told you to sh-”

“What, you’re gonna jerk the car again?” Panzer rattled the handcuffs. “Cuz you can’t even reach over and hit me while I’m tied up, no-”

“F-”

“You always need backup. That’s right, Doom, you and your little stable of losers following your decrepit ass around. The poor fools you’ve deluded into thinking you’ll be their guiding light, oh, how their teeth will gnash when they realize they’ve been led on by a worthless grand-”

Doom Machine tried to punch across Panzer’s face with his right hand. She bit his thumb.

The semi careened to the tune of Doom Machine’s screams as he pried his hand off Panzer’s bite, first with one hand on the wheel, then with both hands when blood started gushing out. If her mouth had allowed her, Panzer would’ve smiled when she heard the crack of a snapping finger just before they slammed into an Applebee’s billboard.

Panzer’s eyes slowly focused on the jagged piece of glass sticking out of her hand. She wiped her forehead gash with her other hand, the blood underneath finally liberated from the restraint of her feeble dermis, as she looked around the cabin. Her shackles had mostly come free, though, comically, Doom Machine had made sure to fasten the seatbelts on both of them. He was unconscious, and sported a huge bruise on his arm, from where the toolbox had flown with the force of the crash and slammed into his shoulder before spilling its contents onto the floor: a hammer and a large collection of nails. Outside the car, the camera crew scurried in a frenzy, setting up lights, trying to catch all their worst angles. After unclicking her seatbelt, Panzer tried to open the door on her side only to find it wrecked in. With a sigh, she busted the window open with the hammer, dramatically raining shards of glass on the camera intent on filming her outside, and crawled through the small hole, dragging the Men’s Openweight Championship title belt behind her. Doom Machine’s door swung open more easily; Panzer loosened him, helped him to the floor and watched. Half a minute or so passed before Doom Machine’s eyes fluttered open; as soon as they did, she started whaling on his back with the belt.

“This was your grand plan? A hammer and some nails?” Panzer heaped abuse onto Doom Machine, alternating between leaving large lacerations on his back and bruising his ribs.

Doom Machine tried saying something that sounded like a taunt before it started sounding like the muffled cry of him getting kicked in the teeth. One of the cameras zoomed into his face; across the globe, thousands of people subscribed to the XXL Pro Wrestling video-on-demand service were regaled with a view of Doom Machine’s bloody nose and newly chipped tooth. Panzer bent over and picked up one of the nails from the toolbox, then turned to face a different camera, pointing at the improvised weapon, trying to play up her considerable exhaustion before dropping the obligatory promo.

“Doom Machine has no finesse. None at all, now, I-”

A car door slammed shut. Cameras swiveled around, first to the semi, which lay abandoned, then wildly, trying to pinpoint the source of the sound amidst the darkness of the roadside. A man, dressed in a dusty gray striped suit, strode into the patch of lamplit glass, into full view of the cameras, and offered a clean handshake towards Panzer’s dirty, bruised, cut-up hands.

“Misters Krosta and Canilla? I represent the WWE.”

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