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Chapter 7 Prologue


League Member
Apr 7, 2012
Chapter 7 Prologue

Penny Pickett awoke to a very strange sight. Proteus, one of the wrestlers currently “boarding” at her house (against her will) sitting on the end of her bed, facing the wall.

“Guh!” she screamed. Maybe not that exactly but some gasp of fright escaped her mouth as her heart leapt from her chest into her throat with panic. For the split second after dreaming, she had forgotten the two were her guests. The sight of a strange figure sitting in her bed was deeply unsettling. Then after she remembered she had guests, it was still unsettling.

“What. The. Hell.” She growled in her normally merry British accent. “Were you watching me sleep??

“No, no,” Proteus insisted. “I was watching the wall. I was waiting for you to wake up. If you talk to someone who’s asleep there’s only half a chance they don’t imagine the words are coming from a dead relative or a talking dog.”

“So you just wanted to talk to me? Why couldn’t you wait outside like a normal person?!”

“Because it’s urgent.”

“Then why didn’t you wake me up?”

“Because it’s not that urgent. You looked like you were having a nice dream.”

Penny rolled over and buried her face in her pillow. “I’m not familiar with the level of urgency that requires you to wait politely in someone’s room while they’re asleep.”

“What?” Proteus said, “I didn’t catch that, it was muffled by the pillow.”

She rolled over again. “What do you want now?”

“We need to borrow your car.”

“Pardon?” She asked, “Don’t you have one?”

“It’s um...” Proteus struggled to figure out how to explain that it had recently had its tires slashed, windows smashed, set on fire, and vandalized with SHOWTIME SUCKS. “It’s out of engines. The gas is dead. I don’t know anything about cars.”

Penny gave Proteus a skeptical look but relented. “Okay, fine, give me twenty minutes to wash up and we’ll go.”

“No, it’s cool,” Proteus said, “We can just take the keys, we’ll be back by tonight.”

“I think not,” Penny said, getting up from bed, “I’ve seen the way you two run your lives. If you drive anything like that, I’m not letting you use my car without a chaperone.”

“Okay, but we’re in a hurry, and we’ve got a long way to go,” Proteus said as he got up to leave the room. Penny quietly cursed what had become of her life. She noticed Proteus’ arm was heavily bandaged. She thought it best not to ask.

Twenty minutes later, she was down in the parking garage, where Proteus and Showtime were already waiting beside her car.

“Took you long enough,” quipped Showtime, “Did you go for the whole spa treatment?”

“I briefly considered throwing my keys in the building’s incinerator,” she replied, “Rather than let you two in my car. Any more backtalk from you and I’ll drive us into a canyon.”

“You look lovely,” Showtime corrected himself as they stepped in. Both Showtime and Proteus went for shotgun.

“Hey, I’m the talent here,” Showtime insisted, “I need the leg room.”

“You don’t know where we’re going,” Proteus replied, “Plus I want to pick the radio station.”

Showtime replied, “You always spend the whole drive turning up and down the dial looking for authentic Serbian folk music. It’s distracting. I’ll pick some good music and stick with it.”

“Enough!” Penny replied, “My car. My music. Proteus in front navigating, Showtime, you can put your legs up on the seat in the back.”

“Oh, great,” Showtime grumbled, “She gets to pick the music. Get ready for two hours of Enya.”

“Or Sarah McLachlan,” Proteus added.

“Or Susan Boyle,” Showtime said,

“Oh God,” Proteus said, “She’s gonna Boyle us alive!”

“Shut. Up.” She commanded, turning the ignition. The CD player started up, playing The Offspring’s Self Esteem.

They began to drive, and continued for two and a half hours. In that whole time, the two wrestlers were uncharacteristically quiet, content to listen to Penny’s music selection of 90’s alt rock, such as Gin Blossoms’ “Hey Jealousy” and Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes.” The only driving directions Proteus offered were “Keep driving.” For half the drive they were in the desert badlands, with no signs of civilization around.

“Do you know where he’s leading us, Showtime?” she eventually broke the silence by asking.

“No clue,” he replied from the backseat.

“And that doesn’t bother you?”

“Not really.”

“And what happened to your car, again?”

“What did Proteus say?”

“That you were out of engines.

“That sounds right. I don’t know much about cars.”

“Keep driving this way,” Proteus interjected.

“I guess I was hoping this would be more thrilling than a tour of this vast expanse of American nothingness,” Penny said. “After all your talk about your lifestyle, how you thrive on chaos, I was thinking this would be the adventure part. Searching for pirate gold in an abandoned mineshaft. Hunting Bigfoot.”

“I’m sure we’ll get to that if there’s time,” Showtime said. “But in any case, Sasquatches are a protected species, so no, we won’t be hunting them.”

“Keep going a while,” Proteus said.

“Thank you,” Penny said sarcastically. She angled her head out the open window to catch some of the breeze. The interior of the car was like an oven under the desert sun.

Then she saw it. It appeared in the distance so suddenly she thought it might be a mirage. It blurred into focus under the unyielding sun, a big gray warehouse-looking building.

“Is this it?” Penny said. “Please tell me this is it.”

“No, this isn’t it.”

They drove past, resuming the silence and the sound of the New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give.” After another twenty minutes of driving through hot dusty nothingness, Proteus realized, “Damnit, you know what? I think that actually was it back there. Turn around.”

If she had been less exhausted, she would have cursed him out, instead of wearily making a U-turn and reversing course back to that nondescript gray building. When they arrived, she paused a moment before unpeeling her hands from the wheel.

The two wrestlers stepped out and stretched. “So what is this place?” Showtime asked.

“It’s a new gym,” Proteus said. “We’ve needed a new one since the last one... uh, evicted us.” They still had not told Penny they were now almost completely sure they were out of their previous living quarters because a directly-targeted arson, and that the perpetrators now knew they were staying with her.

“Why did you have to drag us all the way out here? Why can’t you just go to a gym in the city... or anywhere near civilization?”

“This is a special gym,” Proteus said. “Not because of where it is, but because of who’s inside.”

Showtime crooked an eyebrow as he looked up at the sign: “SPIDER’S WEB GYM: WRESTLING TRAINING.”

He grumbled under his breath, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

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