Nolan Storey – Editor in Chief / Contributing Writer
These are the only options. There are no other choices. One man would leave in glory, and the other; if he were able to leave at all, he would leave in failure.
The competition was only days away and Louis Latterman was finishing his training alone. It was July 1st; the competition would take place on the 4th as it always had, ever since it was started by the first brave competitors ten years ago. The outcome had always been the same so far. For every competition, the winner had always been the same man. He was known simply as the winner. His identity was shrouded in mystery as the competitors always wore masks during the competition. Louis wanted to be the first challenger to ever defeat the winner. But he wondered if the winner finally lost this competition, what would he be called then? And would Louis from that point forward be known just as, the winner? Would his identity as Louis the challenger disappear forever?
These questions swam through Louis’ mind like fish swimming through mud. They were distracting and pointless, so Louis tried to ignore them and continue training. Sweat poured down his brow as he continued to prepare himself with all his might. His obstructing challenger mask and the nervous sweat of anticipation and anxiety blurred his vision.
While Louis was training and pondering the meaning behind the outcome of the competition, the winner sat, surrounded by his personal training team, in his hot tub inside his mansion. Shifting on his feet, one of the trainers softly suggested, “Sir…um… some of the other guys and I were talking …and uh….we think… maybe….well only if you want to… it might be a good thing for you to train before the competition.” The winner turned his head and his cold eyes burned through his sleek winner’s mask. With a suppressed rage in his voice the winner whispered, “And why, would you suggest that?” The trainer who had spoken was shaking as he squeaked out, “This new challenger guy is supposed to be good.?” It sounded more like a question than a statement. In one motion the winner got out of his hot tub and took this trainer’s head off with a roundhouse kick. The other trainers, shaking like leaves in a hurricane, took a step back. “No one tells me what to do.” The winner said this softly, but he may as well have screamed it. The other trainers scattered as he sat back into his hot tub. None of his trainers noticed the worried expression under his mask.
Dawn. Louis woke up to cheers outside his window. He put on his mask and gear, as he got ready to go to his training complex. As he stepped outside, the sun warmed his face and the cheering crowd warmed his heart and soul. These people knew that Louis stood a chance against the winner and could possibly end his reign of cruelty. Louis was strengthened by the hopes of the people and his strength in turn built up their hopes. Louis felt these people were depending on him to win this competition. He had something to fight for.
The light of dawn crept through the windows of the winner’s cold mansion as he opened up his cold eyes. He quickly slipped his mask on over his red hair and was sure to cover his beard as he arose heavily from a bed that was too big for him. There was utter silence through the mansion was the winner walked downstairs. He was surrounded by wealth and power but he was alone. His trainers crept nervously out of their quarters to see if he wanted help training. He turned to them and said, “I suppose I will train a little today, just so I can crush this challenger like the insect he is. The winner’s trainer’s believed that this would happen easily, but he didn’t.
Later that day as the sun was setting, Louis the challenger sat under a tree reflecting on the trial that lay ahead of him. He felt that he was nearly ready. The hopes of the people were his hopes; the dreams of the people were his dreams. The dream was to see the winner replaced by a new winner, someone whose identity was known, someone, who would change the face of this sport, this competition, and this way of life. As the sun was setting, the winner settled into his expensive empty bed. He thought of nothing as he settled into an uneasy sleep.
One day remains. Louis awoke to this chant outside of his window. “One day remains! One day remains! One day remains!” He glanced out and saw the winner’s trainers chanting in monotone unison. This was a yearly tradition. The day before the competition was to take place, the winner’s trainers would gather outside of the challenger’s home and chant in order to instill fear into the heart of the challenger as he contemplated his probable impending doom. This chant did not cause Louis to fear. Instead it got him excited to tackle his final day of training. He smiled to himself as he heard “One more day!” Because it was not a death promise as it would have been in the past. To Louis, “One more day!” meant that there was only one more day until he had the chance to destroy the winner and free the sport, the competition, from his cold grasp. Louis arose from bed with purpose and a smile. He had a reason to fight; he had a reason to live.
The winner finished eating his breakfast in the dark, expansive kitchen in his dark, expansive mansion. “I am the competition.” He whispered to himself as he ate alone in the dark. His voice was not as firm as it had been in years past. Before this Louis, there had been no hope in the people who watched the competition. They knew that the challenger would lose and the winner would win. That was the order of things and it had never been questioned. The competition had only existed for ten years, but it was so strongly imprinted in the consciousness of all people that it might as well have existed for all eternity. The winner shook with rage as he thought of how he was one of the creators of this competition. How dare some kid stand a chance at taking it away from him? He would not let him. He would not allow it. “I am the competition!” His whispering had slowly grown into a hysterical shriek.
As the sun was setting on this, the last day before the competition, Louis had finished his training and sat under a tree. He watched the sun set as he let the warm dirt sift through his fingers. His girlfriend Carlie sat at his side with her hand running through his soft brown hair. He turned from the sunset and gazed into her lightly sparkling green eyes. She whispered to him, “You can do this. You must do this. Everyone is counting on you.” Louis nodded solemnly. He knew that he must not fail.
As the sun was setting on this, the last day before the competition, the winner held his mask in his hand and looked at the ground. His trainers had all left, and he would not see them again until the competition was over. The wind blew through the mansion, reminding the winner how empty his house was, how empty his life was. He was his own reason for winning the competition. Without the competition he was nothing. He rubbed his hand over his cold steel countertop. He had worked hard for all of this. Some pathetic challenger was not going to take it away from him. If he lost the competition tomorrow, he would not have any reason to live. But then again, in the process of losing the competition, one usually died anyways.
It was time. The day of the competition had arrived. Louis was at the arena although the sun had not come up yet. In a few hours, this place would be packed full of hopeful faces, people who were counting on Louis to win this competition. His success was their success. His failure was their failure. Louis knelt down and brushed the ice with his hand. Nine brave men had stood up to the winner here. Nine brave men had died here as they stood up to the winner. Today would be different. It had to be.
The winner rolled out of bed and slipped his mask on and pulled out his ice skates. He arrived at the arena in his gold silk robe and pulled on his skates. Today these skates would take the life of the tenth challenger if all went as it was supposed to. “This is my competition. I am the competition.” The winner snarled to himself. After all, hadn’t he been the one who had started this competition of ice-skating kick boxing?
The lights in the arena beat brightly down as Louis walked onto the ice-ring. The crowd erupted in cheers. Louis took off his simple cotton robe and kissed Carlie as if it were for the last time. A tear rolled down Louis’ cheek as he said goodbye. Carlie smiled and said, “This is not goodbye Louis. You will win today.” Louis’ troubled look turned into a smile as he turned away from Carlie. He knew he could do this.
Once Louis the challenger was in the ice-ring, a spotlight shown onto the winner as he strutted towards the ring. He flung his silk gold robe into the crowd. There were no cheers. The winner skated over to the side of the ring and sneered through his mask at Carlie. “It would seem that I am going to make you a widow today woman.” She spit into his face in defiance. The winner grunted in anger and skated back over to his side of the ring.
The bell rang and the ice-skating kickboxing match began. There were no hits in the first round as both competitors blocked each other well. The second and third rounds continued like this. By the fourth round, both Louis and the winner were starting to get fatigued. As the bell rang, the winner sprayed ice into Louis’s face. Louis fell onto his back and the winner took advantage of this opportunity to jab his ice skate into Louis’ ribs. There was a crack as two of Louis’ ribs broke and blood began to trickle onto the ice. Louis glanced over at to where Carlie was sitting. As he looked into her eyes he began to smile despite the pain he was in. As the winner raised his skate to stomp on Louis’ neck, Louis rolled out of the way and the winner got his skate stuck in the ice.
Louis took this opportunity to roundhouse kick the winner in the face. The kick was not dead on but Louis managed to knock off the winner’s mask. Everyone in the crowd gasped. The identity of the winner had just been revealed. The winner, Chuck Norris, gave a yell of fury and yanked his skate out of the ice. With a roundhouse kick, Chuck sliced off Louis’ right ear.
Louis fell onto his back once more, but this time it was on purpose. As Chuck Norris jumped into the air preparing to give the final blow, Louis put both of his feet into the air and with two quick motions, cut off Chuck Norris’ feet. Chuck Norris fell to his knees and with one last kick, Louis sliced off Chuck Norris’ head.
The crowd erupted into cheering as Louis was helped off the ice and given medical aid. Carlie threw her arms around Louis and cried tears of joy as she kissed him. The winner had been defeated. The dreams of the people had been fulfilled. Louis’ success was the peoples’ success.
Louis the challenger was still Louis. He had kept his identity by revealing that of the winner. There was no more winner and there was no more challenger. There were people, and they had names.