No one wanted to be there; work there; live there. It was never their choice. But everyone ended up there, running away from something. They were offered protection. Safety. But it only lasted for as long as they did.

This was a dangerous business, after all.


5. Blaze

“Oi, wake up!”

Kicking at whatever was trying to wake me up, I blinked blearily, shaking my head to try and rid it of the tired fuzziness which was clouding my thoughts. The stabbing pain in my head, which had been present before I collapsed, had been replaced by the unsettling non-feeling kiss of non-prescription painkillers - probably off the back of some truck, knowing this company. The doctor wasn’t so bad, but they didn’t give him anything to work with. Everyone knew that; you took your pills and didn’t ask where they came from, or about the stench coming from under the floorboards.

“No.” Grunting, I rolled over and tried to snatch a couple more moments of sleep, but then whatever I kicked before kicked me back. “Fuck off!”

Finally, I allowed myself to be dragged off whatever I was lying on - some sort of bed, but everything just looked like a huge blur - and immediately crashed into someone, probably the person who was trying to make me move. The world flickered. I vaguely felt my arms being draped around someone’s shoulders. Movement. Pauses. Swearing. A faint comment about my weight, fading from existence as soon as it appeared. Darkness.

Later, I woke up.

“Who the fuck is that?” Someone grumbled, across the room - the room! My sight was back. My hearing too - whoever was next door was having a good time.

“Seth and Connor?” The rough voice startled me, as it came from someone who was sitting right next to me, who I hadn’t even realised was there. Whoever it was, his arm was around my waist, and it tightened when I flinched. “Hey, Blaze, it’s just me. You got hit in the head - hey, you do remember me, don’t you?”

“Oh shit.” The other voice came nearer. “Blazey, you got a concussion? You remember us?”

“I dunno.” My throat felt like a barren desert, and I sounded like some sort of croaking frog. “My memory’s blurry.”

“Drake?” The closest voice, it was concerned. I turned to it, looked it in its piercing dark eyes, tried to remember, tried my hardest. Quiet voices, quiet memories, flickering memories, but nothing concrete. The eyes swam for a moment, before the slightly tanned face hardened. “I’m gonna kill them. They made you forget us!”


“Management. Connor. D’you think it’s Connor next door? I’ll kill him. Kill him and his little whore.” The closest voice - Drake? - growled; animalistic.

“Nah, it sounds like a dude and a chick.” The other voice spoke dismissively - it belonged to a smaller guy, blonde, sparkling soft-blue eyes, ponytail. It came closer, cupped my cheek with its warm hand, looked into my eyes. “Hunter? Come on, Blazey. Hunter. You remember me, don’t you?”

“I’m… I’m sorry…” I could see the disappointment in Hunter’s eyes. Their eyes - that was what I noticed, about both of them. I could almost feel an old memory slipping into my mind, of seeing them - no. Not them, just their eyes… I wished I knew why. “I still feel all fuzzy. Maybe I’ll remember?”

“Probably the painkillers.” Hunter sat on my other side, took my hand in his. This was… it felt both unnatural and comfortable at the same time. Like breathing underwater. Wait… no. Bad example. Breathing underwater meant dying.

“We should start with the basics.” There was almost a warning tone to Drake’s voice. Hunter sighed, rolled his eyes. I didn’t know why, and it quietly infuriated me. “Do you know which company you work for?”

“Uh…” Words swirled around in my head, words which made no sense. Seth, Connor, S Trio, Ring, Interference, Dana, Prowrestling. I only realised I’d been saying them out loud when Drake laughed at the last one.

“We’re getting closer to prowrestling, I’ll admit, but we’re not there yet.” He smiled, kindly. I hated it. I hated this. I wanted to know what was going on. “We’re a sort of monster hybrid mongrel of prowrestling, streetfighting, boxing and mixed martial arts.”

“Sounds fun.” That explained the knuckledusters hiding under the other bed, if nothing else. “I… fights. I remember fights.”

“That’s good.” Hunter sounded hopeful. “What’s the last one you remember?”

“Seth?” I offered, unsure. The name had been floating around in my head for a while. Drake nodded encouragingly. “That’s when I got hit. In the head. Here.” I pointed to where the pain had been. I remembered that - I didn’t think I’d ever forget it. “But then it’s fuzzy.”

“Maybe we should try this in the morning. You should sleep.” Drake suggested suddenly, looking across at Hunter. “Can you go and get some beer off someone? Dana, maybe?”

“She’ll be wasted already. The Renegades don’t drink. I ain’t asking the pink chicks for anything. The S Trio?”

“S Duo. They had an argument over the interference.”

“I’ll try them.” Hunter nodded, and, after squeezing my hand and smiling, left the room, half-slamming the door on his way out.

Drake advised that I slept - which was what I wanted to do all along, but no one ever listened to me - so, while he sat on the end of the bed and started tapping on his phone, I rolled over and closed my eyes. Not being able to remember anything sucked. Drake and Hunter… the names felt familiar. I felt like I’d known them for a lifetime, but not lived that life. It almost hurt, not knowing who they were. We seemed… close. Not as close as our neighbours, who were still enjoying themselves, but at least very good friends. Friends…? Probably. Whoever did this to me… I wanted to murder them. Murder. That sounded familiar. Was I a murderer? Maybe. The not-knowing was killing me. If I worked in this company that they said I did-

What was that? Was he…? Something was stroking my hair. Something? Someone. Drake. Slightly confused, I didn’t move. He thought I was asleep, probably. I really wanted to know what he meant to me - we had to be friends, didn’t we? It seemed like the most likely explanation. Friends… but did friends stroke each other’s hair? Maybe girlfriends, but not guyfriends. This was… strange? Interesting? I didn’t even know. That was the most annoying and irritating part: I didn’t have a clue what was going on.

Before Drake could do or say anything else, however, the door opened, and he stood, I presumed, to take a beer off Hunter, then sat on the bed again. I heard the bed on the other side of the room creak, before an idle conversation began, paused every so often for gulps of beer and comments on our finally-quiet neighbours. Rarely, they flitted onto the topic of me, and my memory loss, but they never wasted too many words on it - they were going to kill whoever caused the ‘interference’ in my match and go from there. Maybe the scariest part was not knowing if they were serious about the ‘killing’ part or not.

Too tired to keep listening, I gave up, and welcomed the darkness of sleep.

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