(FADEIN: Hollywood Hills, CA – Far up in the trails of Runyon Canyon Park, sitting hands over knees on a dirt perch overlooking the high rise buildings and city streets of Los Angeles, is CASTOR V. STRIFE. His back is to the camera, and next to him on a patch of grays lays two items side by side: the NFW World Heavyweight Championship, and a black gas mask. In the dirt by his feet, a small stack of white envelops secured by rubberband)
CASTOR: “The grand Maestro waits, in the dirt, in these hills, overlooking the real estate he once proudly owned that was taken from him by Eric Dane in a devil’s deal for the ages.”
(Bows and shakes head)
“My studio is gone. My staff, entourage, and fortune…crackling like the funny pages in a campfire as the self-proclaimed ‘Only Star’ blow-burns my life’s work. I know it’s not your problem, Sammy Brown, but I want to turn your mind to something…”
(Camera pans around slowly to the front, and Castor looks dead-ahead, brushing his hand over his long blonde hair)
“The birth of the masterpiece. Fellini, Kubrick, Chaplin, Bergman, Scorsese…all the great ones had it in them. It isn’t by luck, or through some “connection” or by proper financing that a master’s greatest work is done. The truth…is that a man like me is always pregnant in the mind – and like Zeus, my children are born through my skull. And they will ruin and remake this world in my image, because life is the great imitator, and art, and Castor Strife…is the great innovator.”
“I could understand if you saw me as a man who’s lost everything, who’s window is closing. But a true master, like an animal, will find shelter and birth his masterpiece when the time is right. For it takes more than an unlucky roll of the dice to destroy a man like me. You need to unmake my championship. You need to kill my living dream.”
(Camera closes in on Castor)
“I don’t think your coat hanger is long enough. The fault line on my head is widening, and soon the greatest scene ever shot will happen in living, breathing color. You went down one path, and ended up going the way of the Jaguar, Sammy. Can’t unsee what I’m about to show you. Can’t rewind what’s already in motion.”
(Takes the rubberband off the stack of letters, pulls one out of the first envelop)
“Want to hear something disturbing? This is from a fan and I quote…”
(Holds up paper, begins reading)
I am a fan of Dan Ryan but I also like you. Recently Dan lost to Cobra, and now that you remain I would ask a favor of you. The Director’s Cut broke the necks of men in NFW, A1E, and PRIME, and if you were to come across Cobra in the tournament, I would pay a handsome sum in cash if his neck was broken too. If it doesn’t break the first time, perhaps hit him with two? (I know, it usually takes one!) Thanks.
Your friend from Michigan,
(Castor folds the letter and puts it aside)
CASTOR: “A bounty. Shocking, isn’t it, that my work in the ring would affect the worst qualities in people with too much money and free time? Here’s one from a conveniently anonymous source…”
I never disliked you. We haven’t always been on the same side of the fence, but that could all change. You saw what happened to Blaine. Hell if I’m gonna let some no-name smark-hyped piece of garbage embarrass him like that. I want Zero in a wheelchair for life, and I’d like some equally bad outcome for every friend or family member he puts on television in his awful segments. You’re the most dangerous man in the tournament, and I know you can make it happen. Enclosed is a check from my personal account. $20,000 out of good-will. Another 20k for every loved on you hurt. 10x that amount for turning Zero into Christopher Reeve. You know I’m good for it, pal.
-You know who”
(Puts letter aside)
CASTOR: “Did I cash the check or return to sender? I’ll leave you in suspense. There’s a stack of letters just like this one, with different names and amounts signed to them. $400 for Sean Stevens, $750 for Troy Windham, $300 for Joey Melton. Some kid in Forth Worth paid me $20 in allowance money to break Orphan’s neck. This is what happens when your reputation precedes you. Ultratitle has brought out the very worst in good little boys and girls around the globe, and like Santa Claus, my P.O. box is inundated with Christmas lists of spiteful wishes. “
“Unrelenting fans who wish upon a star, demanding more and more from The Golden Dream, the fame-maker…”
“Will I relent? That’s the question, Sammy. Can a man like me be bribed into action? Let’s just say this…if the time is right, and the offer is fair, and the challenge piques my interest, then you might just find that dreams reallycan come true.”
“But not today, Sammy. All requests have been queued. Not a single one of them mentioned you by name, but you will find that you are worse for it.”
“As much as I love to grant a request, or operate as a bizarro world one-man Make-A-Wish Foundation, there’s still work to be done. The bracket saw fit to cast you for a bit part in the masterpiece unfolding…”
“The scene comes early. It’s here, in fact. Listen when they call your name, Sammy. Because it all happens (snaps fingers!) so quick. There isn’t another scene. There won’t be another shot.”
“I’m going to cut you out. Cut you into pieces. And for that, there is no wishing on a star, or hoping on hope. Ring that bell all you like, Sammy, because there’s no one at the door. Not this time.”
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