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  • Indrid Calder
    Indrid Calder

    Following Live From Toronto…

    Indrid Calder limps through the curtains, pushing them aside and ascending the slim metal staircase leading to the gorilla position. He takes up a black rag and he wipes at the sweat that shines across his brow, droplets of perspiration oozing down to roll across unblinking eyeballs.

    He stretches his knee, slapping a hand against the side of the patella and testing the leg. It’s as sore as meat battered with a mallet on a butcher’s block, but it’ll do.

    He continues along the narrow corridor, and the silhouette of a giant awaits him. Rayner towers there, shadows painting his mountainous shoulders, those tree-limb arms crossed at the sternum.

    Knife-blue eyes shift up to the old monster’s grizzled face. There is an ungodly shine in those eyes tonight. The eyes of a man who has made a discovery that titillates the wrongness that dwells in his heart.

    “I was wrong about that boy…”

    Rayner cocks his head, humoring Calder.

    “What you saw in him…I never thought it truly there. I thought it whimsical fantasy. The conceptualization of what you wanted to see. But now I’ve felt what he can do. I’ve tasted his rage, Cal…and I swoon at the flavor.”

    Calder’s eyes drift higher, looking at absolutely nothing in particular. Detached eyes. Eyes leading to emptiness.

    “I watched a puppy die tonight, old friend. I watched Josh reach inside of himself, take that cute little puppy by the scruff of the throat, choke it, throttle it, crush that brittle skull, mash in those happy smiling teeth and the lolling tongue. Each time he smashed into this knee of mine…he butchered more and more pieces of that part of himself. I dared him to do it, but I didn’t think he had it in him. But he did. He grasped that light glowing in his soul, and he dismembered it with every single bit of the onslaught that he threw against me…”

    A smile splits Calder’s face into something wholly inhuman. There is genuine joy in him as he states this. Describing what happens when the light dies, and the dark crawls in…

    “I crave competition like that, and it’s been too fucking long since I’ve properly satiated the craving. The fight of a lifetime. He gave it to me, and I shook his hand, and in the very TISSUE of that boy I smelled the HATE baking and fermenting in him. I understand now, Cal. That’s why Dresden is sniffing around him, trying so desperately to convert him to his cause before it’s too late. Buck sees what I see…”

    A pause, strange thoughts swirling.

    “Josh can shift the balance. He can turn the tide. And the timing is KEY. Dresden gains more heart by the day. I want to excise that heart, and don’t wolf fangs make the cleanest of cuts? There are even rumors that Smiles is pulling himself up out of the pit that I put him in. That CAN’T stand, Cal. I like Smiles wallowing in that pit. I find him tolerable when his greatest pal is despair. That’s the Smiles we want. A friendless kamikaze with missing organs and missing hope…”

    “They ain’t got the numbers. Fuckin’ can’t ever get the two of em’ on the same page neither. What you worrying about?”

    “Don’t linger on the present. Think two, three, sometimes even four steps ahead. Light is best extinguished when but a flicker, and not allowed to become a wash of sunrays. We hold the high ground here solely because of the synergy of the hive. Our camaraderie is what drives us. That is why I push the ideology that I do…”

    Calder licks his lips, those infernal eyes flitting from side to side.

    “Recruit, recruit, recruit. Seek out and cultivate new Pillars. Spread and enthrall. We do that, and we ensure the future of HATE. We are the architects of HATE’s next generation, and that growth is the most important thing for us.”

    Indrid massages his temple, a million dark thoughts fluttering moth-like in his head.

    “Josh Kaine was born to be a Pillar. I know that now…”

    A vulpine gleam alights in Indrid’s eyes, and his voice lowers to a conspirator’s tone.

    “You know what they say about you, don’t you, Cal? You’d have to be deaf not to hear the jibes. The forgotten Pillar. The old fossil that can do little more than stumble about before falling into dust. The buffoon. The oaf. Replaceable muscle. The low man…on the HATE totem pole. These remarks eat at you, do they not? The fact that you’re remembered…for almost nothing but that…”

    A flush rises to Rayner’s cheeks. His tombstone teeth grit together in frustration.

    “I hear em’ all. And if I hear em’ saying that horseshit in front of me, they gonna remember the sound of their own teeth hitting the floor when my knuckles bust them out.”

    Indrid hisses through his teeth, smiling that thin smile.

    “A softer touch, Cal. You won’t beat them that way. But I’ll tell you how you CAN prove them all wrong. Change the narrative, old monster. Finish the job with Josh Kaine. You have my blessing, and the House opens to him on this night. You saw what I did not…the potential inside of him. It falls to you…to turn him. Show him the HATE that left that puppy bleeding and breathing its last in the doghouse of his soul…ravaged by the wolf that claimed dominion…”

    Calder leans forward, and his next words come in a whisper.

    “You come walking back to the House, and make certain that Fenrir comes walking behind you. That’s what they’ll remember. That’ll gall them to no end. That, my friend, is an accomplishment that cannot be ignored…”

    Rayner starts to nod, slowly at first, but then with more conviction.

    “That’s all I needed ta’ hear…”

     

    ***

     

    We’re taking everything, Mister Donovan.

    I want you to grasp the weight of that statement.

    Pause, and ruminate.

    I am a Tag Team Champion of the World. Sahara is a Tag Team Champion of the World. NOTHING is the EWA World Heavyweight Champion. And for most, that would be enough. We’d bask in our gold and we’d call it a day.

    We are not like others.

    We want it all.

    Now of course you’ve sat on the sidelines up until now, because that is your role, isn’t it? You’re a fair-weather man. You show up when it’s convenient, and your shoddy track record is a testament to that. You take no real interest in the broader scope of the EWA landscape. You’re content to suckle on sugary drinks while cooking up harebrained marketing schemes with The Lemonheads.

    You haven’t come afoul of HATE because we rarely notice the minuscule, Mister Donovan. It escapes our attention. A great white shark rarely wastes time hunting a sea slug, you understand? Especially a docile sea slug that makes no attempt to join up with Dresden’s ragtag anti-HATE group.

    Don’t mistake me, I know your merits in the ring. Your athleticism speaks for itself, and you proved yourself capable by defeating both Sterling and Yoshida for the Network Title, but is that sort of performance a common occurrence for Philip Donovan? I think we both know the answer to that.

    I’m more familiar with you phoning it in when the going gets tough as opposed to beating the odds and triumphing.
    That’s the legacy that you’ve built here. Donovan can go when he’s on point, when he’s on his game, but…how often is that?

    Once in a blue moon, Mister Donovan.

    And you’ll need the bluest moon of them all to beat me.

    Every single championship is coming to the House of HATE after Battlelines 43.

    Every waist and every shoulder decorated in gold.

    Every Pillar gleaming, and I’m content to gleam with the Tag Championship and the Network Championship, and Sahara will gleam even more after she embarrasses Buck and wins back the Combat Title that she made famous.

    I want to starve the men and women on this roster that think that they can change things here. The fledgling heroes and the misguided optimists…all of them need a lesson…and the lesson is that this life is a yeasty void, nothing matters but the dominion of strong over weak,  and morality serves only to shackle in times like these….

    Shine that title for me, won’t you?

    I like to see my reflection in the faceplate.

    Even a fair-weather fellow such as yourself should be capable of taking a moist rag to a possession that is soon to be mine.

    I hope you find it within yourself to fight harder for this than you have ever fought for anything in the EWA, Mister Donovan.

    I’ve found that when a man fights harder, the sound of his flesh hitting the canvas makes all the difference…because he falls harder.

    Be witty.

    Be cute and clever.

    Be amusing with your pop-culture references.

    Be whatever you want to be, Mister Donovan…

    But most of all, be the victim that I deserve…

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