Part 4: A Dark Turn
“Where am I? Growl, growl?” The shiny white cavern seemed almost too bright for my one good eye. I picked myself up off the ground, brushed the dust and rubbed the blood from my new Horsemen shirt, and wondered exactly how things went so wrong.
What a day. As of right now, I have no idea where I am, but that mystery pales in comparison to what happened earlier today.
After we reformed the Four Horsemen with Team Top 10, JTE and myself, we started planning our return to the Collider studios. We knew there would be a taping later that day and so we thought a show of strength would announce our return and hopefully bring about order to the chaos that had consumed the Schmoedown.
Rocha was on the phone for even more backup. He contacted Kristian for his help. Despite the force that the Horsemen was, we knew we needed a person in power, someone the Internet community knew and respected to put this back on track.
Before we knew it, we had a crew of all-star faces to help storm Collider. Samm Levine, Drew McWeeny, Clarke Wolfe, The Wildberries, Mike Kalinowski, Jason Inman, Marc Andreyko, Emma Fyffe, and even…”Dangerous” Dan Murrell, ou of Schmoedown retirement, over from Screen Junkies.
“Where’s Ellis?” Rocha asked, turning to Kristian.
“He’s currently on a flight on his way to Des Moines,” the former Commissioner said.
“What about Rachel?” asked Andreyko.
“I couldn’t get in touch with her,” said Emma, Rachel’s manager in the Fyffe Club. “I hope she will get my message and meet us there.”
“Now,” said Rocha, stepping above the crowd. He is in his element here. “We have some of the best players in Schmoedown history here, and with our combined might, even Finstock will not be able to ignore us.”
“I’ve known Tom.. or Bob… or whatever he is calling himself now… for a long time,” said Kristian, “and he may be a moron, but he knows a good thing when he sees it. I think we can absolutely work this out.”
“What if we can’t?” I asked, tipping the black cowboy hat.
“Then, we make it work,” said Rocha.
Our Horsemen army made their way over to Collider and we regrouped in the parking lot. We could see the Kingsmen standing guard outside the studio doors.
“New guys,” I said, with a snicker.
“Out of my way,” said Macuga, pulling out a beer bong and a Coors Light, “this is why I am here. Wildberries!”
Macuga and Elliot Dewberry proceeded to move toward the door and in short order, the Kingsmen had succumb to the barrage of alcohol that the Wildberries seem to thrive upon.
“Good job, Macuga,” said Kristian. “Let’s go.”
With our confidence sky high, we were sure that when confronted by all of us, Tom Dagnino and his crew would understand reason.
Boy, were we wrong.
They were in the middle of a championship match between Sneider and Andrew Ghai when we came through the curtains.
“What are you doing here?” exclaimed Ghai. When he spotted Rocha, he said, “Dad?”
“We need to speak to Finstock,” said Kristian, but as he was saying it, Finstock had sneaked from the shadows and grabbed Sneider, immediately taking him to the control room. “Tom, this is over. Your little power play needs to come to an end. We need to save the Schmoedown.”
“Growl, growl,” I said.
The sparse audience had scattered leaving Ben Bateman alone in the crowd. Though we seemed to have the advantage in numbers, there was a bad feeling in my stomach. This was not going to go as we had envisioned.
“Dad?” Ghai said, rushing toward Rocha once again. The famous tackle had shaken Rocha once, and it looked like he was about to get caught again. However, Dan Murrell was suddenly there.
“Look out, John,” Dan said, heroically stepping in front of the rampaging Ghai. The spear drilled into Dan’s chest, knocking him backwards and striking his baseball cap adorned head into one of the cameras. Dan slumped to the floor in a lump. Ghai got up with a sick smile on his face.
“Look, I killed Murrell,” he said, almost with a lilt in his voice.
“What are you doing?” Rocha exclaimed, rushing to the side of the fallen Screen Junkie. The rest of us were shocked at the immediate violent response from the handsome, but unbalanced member of Team Action.
“Listen, Old Man Rocha, your days are over. This is a new breed in the Schmoedown,” said Bateman. “We are the ones running the show now.”
“The Boss is right,” said Finstock, booming his voice over the speaker system from the safety of the control room. “You made a big mistake coming here. Ken. Yodi. Mark. Show them.”
From the shadows of the studio stepped Ken Napzok, dressed in full brown Jedi robe, his hood hiding his visage, the Star Wars Championship belt around his waist.
“When did you get that back?” asked Kristian.
“Took it off of Witwer’s dead body. It is so great to fully embrace the Dark Side,” Ken said.
“I think someone has had too many trips to 7-11,” I said.
Ken reached back and beams of dark energy flew from his hands, striking Kristian, driving him back into the set. The group started to scatter, but that was when we saw Mark Reilly come through the curtain. The same Mark Reilly who I unintentionally killed by bursting out of his chest.
Mark Reilly, heroic champion of the Schmoedown, levitated off the ground. Before we knew it, Mark Reilly revealed himself as an android. Weapons sprang from his shoulders and arms sending an assault of bullets towards us. The red glow in Reilly’s eyes brought to mind the Terminator.
As if this was not enough, Mark Donica arrived, grasping the Wheel in his hand. Spinning it rapidly, Movie slices started flying from the wheel like knives in a circus act. I knew how dangerous these pieces could be, and I ducked behind the desk, in search of whatever shelter I could find.
What at once seemed like an army of faces were being mowed down easily by this trio of evil. As I was trying to think of what to do, I saw Rocha stumble over beside me, dropping to the ground.
“Rocha, what are we going to do?” I asked. It was then that I saw a Wheel slice, JANE FONDA MOVIES, protruding from his back. John’s breathing was slowing and his eyes fluttered. I supported his head as blood trickled from his lip.
“It’s….. up…to… you… Beast,” Rocha said, as if each word was being ripped from his throat. He held up the four fingers for a mere moment, before his arm dropped to his side, motionless. He was gone.
I slowly lay the Outlaw’s head back down on the ground, taking off the black hat that I had been wearing since he had given it to me as a peace offering. I placed it atop of his face.
I did not have time to mourn any of the fallen friends and colleagues around me, because I needed to find a way out of here. I felt the need to scream and yell and do something crazy, but I held that in. That would not be successful.
The soft whisper felt like a scream, but I was not sure where it had come from. The studio was a war zone with wounded and dying all around me.
Who could that be. It was as if the voice was inside my head, which shouldn’t have been surprising considering all of the weirdness that had gone on today.
“What?” I said, finally, frustrated with the situation.
I don’t know how I knew, but I followed the voice from my hiding place behind the desk through the curtains. I am not sure how I got through without one of the crazy Lion’s Den killers seeing me, but I did. Suddenly, I found myself in the darkness of a nearby closet.
“Okay, I’m here, strange disembodied voice. What do you want.”
That was when the voice manifested in front of me into a spectral spirit, floating in the air before my eyes, a glow cutting through the darkness of the closet. There he was. The ghost of Mark Reilly.
“Oh,” I said. “Hey. Sorry about killing you. Did you know that you’re a vicious killing android now?”
“Only you, Beast, can save the Schmoedown. In order to do that, you have to start your journey in a very special place.”
The ghost of Mark Reilly lurched at me, covering my body in his ectoplasmic residue. My scream rivaled that of Peter Venkman from the Ghostbusters film. Believe me.
And then I disappeared.
To Be Concluded.
Part Five: The Sword of Crushing