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The Return of Zero, part 1


League Member
Apr 12, 2012
varies depending upon the week
Showing his ID badge to security, Lint opened the primary door into the backstage environment of the coliseum. He wasn’t sure if he had been to this location before. The cities and their host buildings ran together after so long. In memories, they become generalities. His only indicators were the arrows shuffling the talent into the locker room area. Shifting his duffle into his other hand, he took a deep breath and slowly began following them back.

In the locker room, he sat his bag down and had a seat. A few other wrestlers were in the room, either getting dressed or in slow mental preparation stages for their upcoming bouts. One of them looked his way. Lint nodded a hello, and the gesture was returned.

He didn’t recognize anyone.

In the past, regardless of the program he was in, the specific familiar faces each week made the job a pleasure. Now with this, he wasn’t sure if he even had time for introductions, much less a new travel partner. Half of these people would be gone after the event, and win or lose, he would be none for the better. He had seen a sign earlier pointing to the over/under board for the night’s event. It was in the other locker room. He would wait for that verdict.

He unzipped his duffle and began to pull out the rented equipment. The organization in Maine where he had rented was sparse on available items. He had to travel to the small town of Mexico to receive the package. It was a high school gymnasium full of future wrestling superstar hopefuls putting their bodies on the line for gas money. He peaked through a side curtain to watch the action in the ring at that moment. Someone jumped off the top rope and executed a hurricarana flawlessly. Lint pushed the curtain closed to the sight of this brazen act of agility. His knees ached at the thought.

As he sat on the locker room bench, Lint examined the boots given to him from that event. Scuffs and stitches were the adornments. He looked closer and realized the pair was actually mismatched from two different manufacturers. Placing them on the floor, it became more obvious as the left boot was nearly an inch shorter in height from the right boot. At least they were the same size, more or less.

The only pair of kneepads they had was too large. Lint pulled them out anyway, along with the athletic tape he would need to secure them to his legs with. Lastly, he dug into the bottom for the attire he would wear for the night. As he pulled the shirt and pants out, a plane ticket fell to the floor. Bending down, he picked it up. It was a redeye that night to San Francisco. It had been ten years since his last visit to the Bay. Ten years with only phone calls and letters in-between. The time was upon him to make that trip back. Pressing matters required it.

He took a deep breath and tried to brush away his upcoming future in place for his immediate future. He put the plane ticket back in his duffle. He had a job before him. This was giving him the benefit to make such a visit. It was his motivation to give everything he had, and recreate what would surely be the majority for the rest.

He laid out his ring attire in front of him, and then looked around to the other athletes. He saw singlets, trunks, and every other type of stretchy material that served as the wrestler’s uniform. He then looked back down to his choices. A package of white tshirts and a cutoff pair of beige pants. In the frenzy of getting ready to travel here, the pants hadn’t even been washed after cutting them off. They still had the harsh scissor marks etched around them. He had originally picked between his white tshirts with the most minimal of stains but at the last moment, opted for something more presentable. Ripping the bag open, he took the one off the top and tossed the rest back into his bag. Gone were the adornments of chains and spikes. This would be his new uniform. This would be the uniform for Zero, reborn in the modern wrestling arena.

He opened up a locker to throw the rest of his belongings in. A mirror on the inside caught his attention. He stared at his face. He still didn’t buy it. All he saw was Lint Douglas looking back at him. The confidence of Zero was nowhere to be found. Especially as the moment drew closer where he would step out in front of the crowd, he needed this. Then. He narrowed his eyes to recreate the judgment and scorn he so often used in the past, but with no enemy but himself for so many years, self-hatred was no comparison to a rivalry.

He took off his pants and slid the cutoff shorts on. Then, turning his back to the other wrestlers in the locker room, he quickly removed his shirt and replaced it with the white one. The boots and kneepads would come later. He had to go for a walk. The original conversation regarding the Ultratitle never stipulated a guaranteed advancement per the contract. Instead, booking went right up until showtime. Contestants were learning their fate upon arrival to the arena. In his upcoming bout, he had to go to the next locker room to find out what the result would be against Blaine, and then actually work out a plan for the match.

Before he exited the locker room, he took one more look back at this environment. And a smile slowly began to creep up on his face. This might be his only chance to relive this world. He was scared, even if his body put up every defense to hide that emotion from those around him. But nestled in that fear was the energy of satisfaction he was facing the world he thought he could never return to. Even if this would be his only night allotted to him, he realized, it felt good to be back.
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