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Robert Tepper No Easy Way Out
Dearest Patrons of Grue, welcome to the ultimate showdown. We have had eleven grueling rounds of inexplicable carnage, numerous pretenders have stepped up to the throne and been ruthlessly dispatched and now only one remains. There have been countless thrills, unbounded spills and merciless kills aplenty. Tonight we take it to the vicious extreme as we witness the match-up of two undeniable behemoths from the annals of slasher. Only one can emerge victorious and, for the other, the time has come to accept second best. The Orphan Killer, unbeaten in eleven fights and The Shape, back from retirement for one last shot of supremacy. ‘Tis going to be bloody, make no mistake, and only one of these majestic warriors shall be left standing come the end. Hedge your bets now ladies and germs; the grand finale is upon us.
First up; heralding from Haddonfield, Illinois is our challenger. Every babysitter’s worst nightmare, the man without a face, known by many as The Boogeyman, it’s the inimitable, the magisterial, the irreplaceable…Michael Myers! Next to center stage and all the way from New Jersey is our current champion. He rips, he tears, he obliterates; nicknamed The Orphan Killer, it’s the seemingly untopplable angel of death, the sovereign of modern slasher…Marcus Miller! Take a seat wherever you can find one, grab your Twinkies and don’t forget to wear your mackintosh as things are about to get very messy indeed.
Grand Finale: Marcus Miller vs. Michael Myers
It’s the night he came home, the return of the prodigal son. Michael Myers has been away for some time now and things have changed considerably in his absence. There is a new swinging dick in town and he has utilized the platform he has been provided here to elevate himself onto the shoulder of giants. The path has been strewn with obstructions, some diminutive and others greatly challenging but Marcus Miller has come through every single encounter with machete raised high. Of course, this being the grand finale, he is very much aware that there shall be no easy progress. The Shape has been unchallenged at the apex of slasher folklore for over thirty years now and he sure as shit isn’t giving that mantle up without a bloody fight.
He is a picture of composure in his corner; head down, fiercely focused and not allowing the magnitude of the occasion get the better of him. Baby Sister has now left him to his own devices as she knows how much this win means to him. This will be strictly one-on-one with no interference; whoever is left standing come the end will have gotten there solely on their own merits. Marcus appears relaxed and resolute, his body language tells a tale in itself. Unfortunately, this being such a pivotal bout, there is always going to be adversity and there are a row of nuns towards the back of the amphitheater who have decided to heckle our reigning champion. This rowdy bunch of religious croons are trying every low-down and dirty trick in the book to upset the apple cart and have been hurling abuse at Miller right through the intermission.
There are a couple of minutes left until battle commences and The Shape is still meditating in his dressing room so Marcus decides the best defense is offense and picks up his already bloodied woodsman’s axe and proceeds to quieten these naysayers. “You’ll rot in hell Miller. You’re a filthy, evil child.” Sticks and stones sister, it seems wasteful to make your last words so teeming with vitriol. Marcus reaches the enclosure and the axe handle is raised above his head as these God-jeering bitches begin to see the error of their ways. He runs his eye over each in turn and, with that, his recollections begin to flood back. In the name of the son, the father and the unholy spirit; there is about to be blood.
So it begins. The axe drops time and time and time again, unfastening joints and severing limbs with absolute abandon. Some see only one strike and that is enough to end their vow of mortality. Others aren’t so fortunate. After nearly twenty punishing blows quietude is attained. The remainder of the crowd are totally muted, many of them coated in a thick layer of cruor from Miller’s reckoning. He looks around and surveys his audience then raises one finger to his lips. “Ssh” This is his only address and, with that, he makes his way back ringside to limber up before the pre-ordained arrival of his true challenger. Michael Myers is punctual as ever.
The lights dim and the deathly hush grows quieter still as The Shape appears from behind the crimson curtain. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife right now but, chances are, it would cut you straight back. His walk to the ring is leisurely, no reason to run, he takes it all in his stride like the true champion that he very much is. But every dog has its day and perhaps we are about to see something truly spectacular tonight. A real Rumble in the Jungle. Michael certainly isn’t taking the occasion lightly, thirty five years ago he was the underdog, wet behind the balls, he wasn’t expected to make the impact he did that day. Champions are born that way and this is The Orphan Killer’s sole chance to redress the balance and join the slasher elite.
The stage couldn’t be more set for this bloody battle to-the-death. Both men are of similar body mass, likewise reach and identikit stats. Even during weigh-in, the ordinarily vocal Miller chose not to utter so much as a solitary word, clearly as a mark of reverence but also to show the free world that he can let his actions speak for him. He isn’t blinkered, he hears the cynics’ venomous deconstructive criticism and that is part and parcel of the industry he has chosen to ply his trade. But like any true warrior, his dignity has remained intact throughout. While lame-brains like Leprechaun were prancing about in their polished buckled shoes and attempting to lighten the mood with limericks he didn’t rise and instead let his weapon do the talking. That sets him apart and is entirely the reason why he has earned himself countless new fans over the course of these twelve punishing rounds.
The two great men square up and commence the obligatory psyche-out. Nothing, not a flicker of emotion, faces are game and both are fully focused on matters at hand. Michael tilts his head to the side but both sets of peepers remain locked together the whole time. As the bell tolls and they return to their respective corners, The Royal Rumble reaches its zenith. One thing is totally clear this night, blood shall spill from both goblets. In addition, there will be no underhand tactics or showmanship. Miller has even refused to wield his trademark machete and is meeting Myers on his own terms, with a kitchen knife and just his wits and endurance. They turn back to face one another again and, at precisely the same moment, stride back to commence their skirmish.
Injuries are sustained instantaneously by both combatants. They trade early slashes like Wall Street brokers and each weapon gains its first taste of blood. Michael comes away slightly better from the opening exchanges; three or four gashes across his biceps and an admittedly rather nasty aperture on his right shoulder. Marcus has taken the same number of blows but one in particular, down the side of his left cheek and right down to his shoulder blade, has left him flinching. This provides Myers the vital moment in which to achieve his primary insertion. He chooses Miller’s thigh and slides the elongated blade in about three inches, just long enough to sever sufficient nerves and send Marcus staggering backward onto the ropes. This will be his first true test of character in this bout as many would throw in the towel with no further ado. Not Marcus Miller.
He grunts as he slides the blade free and tosses it back towards his opponent. Myers procrastinates not in retrieving it from the canvas and marches back to apply more pressure. He swipes at Marcus, weapon glancing his sternum but this time there is retaliation. Miller plunges his knife into Michael’s lower neckline and slowly rotates it in the cavity. He continues this for a handful of seconds, during which time, their gaze becomes locked once more. Both are surveying for tell-tale signs that doubt is creeping in but both investigations yield the same desolate result. Utter commitment on adjacent fronts, these two proud lions are prepared only to emerge victorious and no thoughts of defeat have entered either man’s head. We are witnessing something of significant magnitude Grueheads.
The crowd are on their feet unanimously and the entire room is ablaze with emotion but tellingly none of that is escaping the ring or making its way across the threshold for that matter. Another lunge from Michael and this time his blade finds a temporary home in Miller’s right hand before exiting through his palm just inches away from his face. Marcus refuses to make this a one-way exchange and plants his knife into The Shape’s lower abdomen but, before it can gyrate, Myers steps back and applies his hand to the rupturing wound. For the only time yet he looks ruffled, Michael knows full well that he has just suffered a critical blow and lesser men would have dropped to their knees but he stands defiantly and ready to reconvene.
This time however he decides to take the low road and plunders his blade into Miller’s left boot, pinning it to the Grue-sodden canvas. To make matters worse, he then nudges Marcus back on his heels, keeping his grip tight on his weapon. It tears through ligaments and forcibly exits between his toes, leaving The Orphan Killer at a new level of agonizing pain. Still, he isn’t done, and Myers reclaims his knife and rises once more to his feet. Miller is still upright but clutching the barbed ropes to steady his shit before the next episode commences. Then something totally uncharacteristic occurs; Myers stops dead in his tracks, faltering just long enough for Marcus to lodge his own attack.
Considering his equilibrium being severely hamstrung at this point, his choice is an astute one and a glance of his blade is preferred to any ‘sticking’. It catches Michael across the brow, sliding across his hairline and unhinging the top portion of his ear. Myers retaliates rapidly but, for the first time in the fight, his blow isn’t landed. Instead he is left flailing and off center as Marcus shoulder barges him to the canvas. He can barely maintain balance himself and thus reaches back for the ropes as his foot is not able to withstand any weight. The Shape rises up to a seated position and glances round to the left while he ascertains his opposite number’s coordinates. Again he is back on his feet and any claims of being the actual boogeyman have been solidified after such a gusto-laden display. Win or lose he can leave with head held high.
Marcus reciprocates any attention and quickly surmises that this time Michael is not brandishing his trademark. He has left it in a fast-expanding pool of crimson honey and, furthermore, this hasn’t been an accidental pursuit. He has sensed that Marcus is undergoing hefty balance concerns and he desires to feel with his own bare hands from hereon in. In one final exhibition of gallant grace he too loses his weapon, dropping it outside the ring where Granny Boone scuttles over to retrieve it. It will look grand on her mantle and she has Pluto and Jupiter heading over a week on Tuesday for a southern-fried banquet. What finer cutlery to carve herself a pheasant.
Back in the ring, Michael has arrived and has both hands firmly snagged round Miller’s throat. As he tightens his vice-like grip, Marcus is forced into thinking on his feet as his airwaves are slowly sealing up behind the pressure of his probing thumbs. He hooks Myers; once, twice, three times. Still the air continues to dissipate in his gullet and lightheadedness begins kicking in. A fourth clout is more substantial and lands directly on Michael’s already decimated left temple, forcing him to relinquish his hold. Adrenaline dissipates and Miller clutches his throat, desperately catching his breath for a moment. His opponent is still punch drunk and swaying on his feet; it is this moment which can dictate history, Marcus is bruised, battered, bleeding and practically beaten but it is then that you see the true soul of man.
I’m guessing Marcus possibly never got round to watching Rocky IV. It’s hard to concentrate for a full ninety minutes when noxious nuns are swinging by to dunk your head in a bowl of holy water every ten minutes. Balboa would be proud as, Marcus Miller’s heart may well be a touch blacker, but it is no less committed. Fighting through excruciating pain, he stumbles over and places both hands on Myers, one grasping the back of his boiler suit and the other gripping his skullcap. He then summons every ounce of his reserves and drags The Shape to the edge of the ring and into the direct line of the barbed wire shackles. Michael is still regaining visibility and can see them coming but hasn’t anything left in his tank to prevent what has been bound to happen next.
He wraps the pinching wire around Michael’s throat and begins to press down harshly. It punctures in numerous spots around his neck, most crucially in his larynx. Marcus knows by the shift in body weight that the fight is won, his finger tips discern the life ebbing from this enigma and thus he performs last rites. He has remained muted out of pure admiration until this point and three words are ample to convey any fleeting sentiment. “Sleep now Michael.” He draws the wire together, pulling it taut enough to cut through Michael’s gargling throat chamber until the entire head frees up and rolls off the side of the ring. Granny Boone is delighted and scurries in like the face hugger that she is, wrapping the token in her apron whilst licking her lips. It is over. There really isn’t any coming back from that.
It has been decided. Time marches on and old friends say goodbye. But their memory still very much lives on regardless. Michael Myers has had a magisterial run, unchallenged for the most part but there is a new sovereign this night. Marcus Miller, or Marcus Miller to his closest friends, has proven his mettle consistently against a rowdy bunch of marauders all hell-bent on ending him. None have succeeded. Baby Sister joins him in the ring and they butt heads affectionately. This is his moment, her time will come as there’s also a women’s division. Had I negated to mention that? Must have slipped my mind.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014