The sun’s brilliance on the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse wall of glass was almost overbearing in the humid warmth of noon magnificence.
But a shadow loomed.
A seven-foot void of light.
A Leather-clad vision of the end times wrought in flesh.
A Thorn-Tree of Nails and spikes, covering arms, shoulders, chest, and back. The heavy heaving breaths of raw power.
Sweat glistening on the exposed chest and arms.
Pressed between leather gloved hands is a regulation Basketball. It is logoed boldly with the Cleveland Cavaliers logo. The sun shining the radiance of maroon and gold inlays
“WHAT YOU BEHOLD RUSH STERLING IS THE PATH. HUNG WITH SACKCLOTH COLORED SKIES, NO STARS BURNING IN THE HEAVENS AND ONLY THE OCHRE DESERT SALT BLISTERED BENEATH YOUR BARE FEET. THERE IS NO WATER AND THERE IS NO LIGHT.
YOU AWAIT THE SOLAR BENEDICTION.
BUT NONE COMES.
YOUR HANDS FALL TO ALKALINE SALTS, IN THE PALM PRINTS OF ANOTHER MAN. HE TOO SOUGHT TO WALK THE PATH. YOU BEHOLD THE KNEE PRINTS AND DRAG MARKS, AS THE THIRST OF DESPERATION GRIPS THE THROAT.
THE BREATH BECOMES RAGGED. THE HOLLOWS OF THE LUNGS BECOME FILLED WITH SILT AND SALT. ABOVE YOU THE SKY BURNS IN RAINBOW MADE ONLY OF SULFUROUS YELLOWS AND ORANGES.”
The basketball begins to feel the pressure of two hands ever so slowly coming together, the leather cracking as the air in the ball shifts to accommodate its changing shape geometrically transforming from a sphere towards an ellipsoid.
Walt Whezl becomes visible, black-mist imbued parasol open, protecting the roundly overdressed little man from the sun. Ghoulish black and white face paint twisted into a smile that never touched his eyes.
His top hat sagged slightly in the humidity, his neck showing the faintest hints of sweat. The basketball resumed being a sphere as it is engulfed in the palm of tribulation.
“YOU SEEK HOPE, YOU SEEK THE WATER AND SUSTENANCE THAT WILL BRING YOU TO THE END OF THE PATH RUSH STERLING. YOUR PENITENCE BECOMES AN EMPTY GESTURE, AS YOUR PATH FOLLOWS THOSE WHO PRECEDED YOU. NO FLORA GROWS. NO FAUNA SURVIVES.
THERE IS ONLY YOU.
THERE IS ONLY THE PATH.
UPON ITS TERMINUS IN THE DISTANCE STANDS A SOLITARY FIGURE. THE SINGULARITY OF DOMINANCE.”
The heavy breathing continues as the neck slowly becomes more and more vascular. The voice changes from an incantation of thunder as zealots energy infuses it. The eyes grow wider, ice blue. The spiked over-mask vibrates visibly from restrained energy. Walt Whezl stands in front of The Lord Colossus nodding.
“LITTLE COULD YOU KNOW WHAT AWAITS YOU AT THE END OF THE PATH! LITTLE COULD YOU UNDERSTAND THE IMPERMANENCE OF YOUR WORDS AND THEIR MEANINGLESSNESS.
AS YOU CROSS THE CURVE OF THE CRUST, PALMS AND KNEES BLISTERING, TONGUE SWOLLEN WITH HOPELESS THIRST, PARTICULATE MATTER TURNING YOUR PHLEGM TO RUST. YOUR BODY COLLAPSING UNDER ITS OWN GROWING WEIGHT..”
“Yes! YES, MY COLOSSUS! TELL THEM! Rush Sterling MUST KNOW. THEY ALL MUST KNOW WHAT I WILL DO…”
Lord Colossus’ free hand swept Whezl aside as he stepped forward, second hand returning to the basketball. The shape began to contort in his hands again. Whezl crashed with a puff of black mist into the ground. Looking up at Lord Colossus.
“.. YOU WILL LOOK UP AT THE FIGURE AS IT GROWS TO ENCOMPASS THE WHOLE OF YOUR VISION RUSH STERLING. YOU WILL PROSTRATE YOURSELF FURTHER BY FLATTENING TO THE EARTH. YOU WILL HAVE REACHED THE ULTIMATE SINGULARITY ON THE PATH OF DOMINATION AT CLASSIC WRESTLING YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS SWEATED AWAY IN THE HEAT OF THE GLARE.
YOU WILL LOOK UP AND KNOW THE PRAYER OF THE FLAME FOREST, THE VOLTAGE OF THE ONE OF TRUE LORD.
YOU WILL BECOME THE SON OF THE FLAME. THE DISCIPLE OF ASH. BURNED AWAY FOR THE PENANCE OF YOUR ARROGANCE!”
The basketball explodes as the hands come together. Letting the final shreds of the ball pass through fingers to the grounds.
“CLASSIC WRESTLING. CLEVELAND, OHIO RUSH STERLING. YOUR WALK DOWN THE PATH OF DOMINATION. YOUR JOURNEY DOWN MY PATH. COMES TO ITS END.”
A single clawed hand offered.