The Xtreme Machine sped along the lonely highway. Matt, the sensible, handsome-to-the-point-of-dashing young man was in the driver's seat. His younger, slightly un-hinged, multi-coloured brother Jeff was playing with his dog, Liger, in the back. Their beautiful girlfriends Lita and Trish sat, giggling to each other in the side passenger seat.
"I can't believe we're going to see a real live wrestling show!" Lita was evidently exited.
"Should be fun." Replied Matt, keeping his eyes, ever-so-sensibly, on the deserted road ahead.
"Are we nearly there yet?" Asked Jeff - for the third time that hour.
Matt groaned - for the third time that hour!
"Jeffy honey, be patient." Trish responded in her sweetest valley girl voice.
"It's not me, it's Liger! He's hungry! Aren't you boy? Yes you are!" Jeff's voice was sickeningly sweet.
Matt was getting ruffled. "Jeff you're ALWAYS hungry!"
"I said LIGER!" Jeff pouted. He was always getting the blame for eating all the food. Wasn't his fault Liger had a passion for skittles! Matt was SO unfair!
In the distance the silhouette of a tall ferris wheel came into view.
"THE FAIR!" Jeff squealed. "I saw it first! NER NER NA NER NERRRRRRRR!" He bragged, grinning proudly as he did the 'happy dance' in the back of the van.
Everyone sighed. At least Liger looked impressed.
As they approached, it became apparent all was not right at the fair. The ferris wheel sat motionless. None of the usual children-having-too-much-fun noises could be heard. In fact there wasn't a sound save the crashing of the waves of the ocean. Not even the cries of the ever-present-at-seaside gulls could be detected. All was quiet. Eerily quiet.
Lita looked confused. "That's strange it looks closed."
Jeff pondered. "Did we come out of season?"
Matt shook his head. "Jeff, it's August!"
Jeff thought for a moment. "Lunch hour?"
Matt groaned. "Fairs DON'T shut for lunch!"
"Well, maybe this one"
Jeff sat back, annoyed, but mercifully silent.
Matt drove the Xtreme Machine through the fairground gates and parked. Everyone got out of the van and looked around tentatively. All the rides were closed - much to Jeff's distress. The whole fair seemed to be deserted.
Matt took the initiative. "Hmmm let's take a look around."
They wandered through the grounds looking for any signs of life. They found nothing but the odd crisp packet and party hat flapping about in the breeze.
"Looks like a ghost fair." Whispered Lita.
Jeff looked worried.
"Can I help you?"
Jeff shot three feet in the air and landed on Matt! Matt dumped him unceremoniously on the floor.
The loud, brash voice belonged to a burly man in a baseball cap. Jeff took an instant dislike to the man who nearly gave him a heart attack. He made a mental note NOT to share any of his skittles with the loud-mouthed maniac!
Matt, again, took the initiative. "We came for the wrestling but it looks closed. What happened?"
The man took a deep sigh. "We are closed. It's a long story. I run the wrestling here. Name's Paul Heyman, pleased to meet you. But if I were you I'd get out while you still can."
Jeff took that as his cue to do a U-turn. The whole thing sounded far too ominous already and the last thing he needed was to be forced to solve another mystery. Matt grabbed his collar and dragged him back without so much as breaking the conversation.
"Sounds interesting. Can we help at all?"
"Well if you'd like I'll tell you all about it. God knows we need any help we can get. Follow me."
Paul took them to his office and they all sat round to hear the incredible story. He took a deep breath and began to relate the spooky events.
"I run the wrestling federation here, ECW. Trouble is nobody really comes to the fair anymore. There's a new one opened up the coast and we've tried relocating but they're just not interested in a wrestling show. I can't afford to pay my wrestlers anymore. Thankfully the WWF boss Vince McMahon as shown some interest in the guys. He bought some of our best talent's contracts but here's the spooky thing. Some of the guys with new WWF contracts have been going missing. When they return they'rethis sounds so pathetic, I know but they'rezombies!"
"Zombies?" Trish looked frightened.
"There's no such thing as zombies!" Lita sounded confident.
Paul didn't look so confident. "That's what I thought! But sure enough, whenever someone comes to the fair they're scared off. It's creepy! Not to mention frustrating. I can't feed my wrestlers."
Matt stood up. "Come on gang. We've got a mystery to solve!"
Jeff groaned. He knew it! He just knew it!
"Jeff, you take Liger and go and search the fair. We'll go see if the wrestlers know anything."
"Sesearch the fair? ALONE????"
Trish gave him a hug. "Jeffy honey, you won't be alone, you have Liger to protect you."
Liger sat down and refused to move. Jeff joined him on the floor. "No way! It's creepy!"
Lita grinned. "Not even for a Liger snack?"
Jeff and Liger jumped up. "SKITTLES?"
Matt produced a big bag of skittles. "They're tropical!"
"TROPICAL SKITTLES?" They looked exited. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah"
Heyman led Matt and the girls to the wrestling hall where he introduced them to some of the guys. The general feeling amongst them was one of apprehension. They were reluctant to take contracts from WWF despite the obvious work related benefits. They would rather not wrestle and be human than not wrestle and be a zombie. They spoke to each man in turn. One man who looked far too small to be in the business took them to one side.
"Hey, I'm Spike. I've got something to show you."
"Really? What?" Trish looked quite taken with him.
He led them outside and pointed to a figure on the cliff edge. "That!"
Lita looked confused. "What's that? A scarecrow on a cliff? Why'd they put"
"I believe I can answer that."
Spike whirled round at the ominous tone. "Raven! Hi! ErmI'll be off now." He disappeared into the building. Trish pouted.
Raven smirked as Lita checked him out. Matt checked him out too. Obviously unimpressed at the affect this man was having on his girlfriend. Raven noted him disdainfully.
"It's not a scarecrow." He paused dramatically. "It's a scaregull!"
Matt raised an eyebrow. "Come again?"
"A scaregull! Notice any gulls around? We don't have a crow problem here, the gulls, however, were a problem, stealing food and such so they posted a scaregull to protect the holidaymakers. Trouble is, damn thing scares off the customers too."
Lita was hanging on his every word. Matt folded his arms, still unimpressed. "How's that?"
"It's getting dark. You'll find out soon enough!"
Meanwhile, Jeff and Liger wandered through the park munching on their bag of tropical skittles. They had just left the freak show and the things inside had almost, but not quite, put them off their treats. They couldn't shake the feeling they were being watched. Needless to say they left in a hurry!
"Man that was freaky! What do you think Liger?"
Liger looked disturbed.
"Here, have a skittle ol' pal. Oooh!" Jeff's vain side kicked in! "The hall of mirrors! Let's see if there's any clues in here!"
Once inside, Jeff was soon lost in his own reflection. "Look! I'm as tall as a house!" Next one. "WOW this is coooooool! I've gone all wobbly!"
Jeff wiggled his hips, grinning at his distorted reflection. He moved to each mirror in turn. "Hey look, I'm all short and stubby like you!"
"Relax! I'm kidding. Ooh I've put on some weight!" He paused. "And a combat jacket! That's clever!" He moved to the next mirror but something dawned on him and he went back to the last one. Again his reflection wore a combat jacket. Dubious, he moved from side to side. The reflection did the same. He waved. The reflection waved back. Liger backed away. Growling.
"What is it pal? It's only a mirror. Look."
Suddenly the reflection raised it's arms, moaned and took a step forward.
"ZOINKS! It's a zzzzoooooooommmmmbbbbbiiiiiieeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!" He turned and ran for his life, flailing his arms and screeching like a banshee.
He ran past the mirrors in an attempt to get out. Fat, short, huge head, thin, zombie.
Wobbly, tall, zombie, squat, freedom.
He ran through the exit straight into a tree-trunk of a man! The impact knocked Jeff over. The huge man grunted and bent down towards him.
"AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" He was off again, leaving a trail of dust and skittles in his wake. When he reached Heyman's office he was breathless.
Heyman looked concerned. "You ok kid?"
"Hey kid slow down!"
"Okwe went in the hall of mirrors and my reflection was wearing a combat jacket. But it wasn't my reflection it was a zombie. He nearly got Liger but I saved him and we ran away. But when we got outside there was a really stocky one waiting. He nearly got us too!"
"A combat jacket? Sounds like a Dudley! They went missing two weeks ago. The one outside, was he in black wrestling gear? Long black hair?"
"Yeah! Big ugly brute!"
Heyman laughed. "That's no zombie! That's Rhino!"
"Yeah, the man-beast! He originally worked in the freak show but when he took out Van Dam in an argument we knew he had potential. We shaved him down and taught him to wrestle. Doesn't say much but he's a good worker."
Jeff looked bewilderedthen annoyed. "Dammit! He made me spill my skittles!"
The last dying embers of the setting sun shone over the ocean when the crew got back together. They each related what happened, seemingly no nearer solving the mystery. When Matt mentioned the scaregull Heyman went white.
"We better get you to a secure place, it'll be here soon."
Trish looked frightened and clung to Jeff. "What will be here soon?"
"The scaregull. Didn't they tell you? The thing comes at night. It comes to take the wrestlers. It turns them into zombies!"
Matt glanced out the window to the cliff. "Oh my God!" The scaregull had gone! Something moving caught his eye and he shivered.
Heyman quickly locked the door. "We'll have to stay here. I just hope the guys are safe."
The night seemed to last forever. Jeff watched intently out of the office window, waiting for the scaregull to appear. Well, he was actually hoping it wouldn't. Something moved. Jeff screeched, alarming everyone in the room.
"Jeffy honey? What is it?"
"Somebody's out there! Something moved." He was shaking.
Heyman shrugged. "They move around at night. You get used to it."
Everyone looked round at each other nervously. Slowly they began to settle again.
A scream rang through the building and everyone jumped. A muffled scraping noise could be heard outside the door. Everyone held their breath as the handle slowly turned. Upon realising it was locked, whatever it was trying to get in slowly shuffled away.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Jeff turned back to the window and screamed!
Matt jumped up. "Jeff what is it?"
"SCSCASCAREGULL!" Jeff was hysterical.
Matt looked out the window. There was nothing but darkness. "Jeff there's nothing there!"
"But there was! It had a huge pumpkin head with a big nasty grin and big claws scraping the glass! I'm not crazy Matt!"
"That's debatable. Well whatever it was isn't there now."
Lita turned to Heyman. "Who was that screaming before?"
Heyman shook his head. "I'm not sure but RVD just got signed to the WWF. I hope he's safe. I guess we'll find out in the morning. I suggest you all get some sleep."
They all tried to settle for the night but Jeff couldn't shake the feeling the thing was watching him through the glass.
Morning took it's sweet time arriving and Jeff was thankful of daylight. When he tentatively glanced out the window there was the scaregull, back at its post on the cliff.
"Jeff will you get away from that window." Matt sounded annoyed.
"I was just checking where the scaregull was! Its back on the cliff."
"Well we've lots to investigate. Come on gang! Jeff check outside, we'll look for Van Dam."
"Why do I always get the scary jobs? And on an empty stomach no less!"
Heyman interjected. "You guys do whatever it is you're doing I'll get the guys to fix breakfast for when you return."
"Breakfast! Now that's what I'm talkin' about!"
"JEFF!" Matt pointed at the door.
"Ok, ok I'm going! Jeez! Come on Liger, we've got zombies to be chased by!" He shot Matt a snotty glance and waltzed out of the office. Liger shot a similar look and walked into the doorframe! He shook it off and followed Jeff, pretending his pride wasn't dented.
Matt checked RVD's room. Lita and Trish looked around the other rooms, more for their favourite wrestlers than clues but it went unnoticed.
"Hey girls!" Matt hollered form the room. They came running.
"Jinkies!" Lita bent down and picked up some straw. "This'll be from the scaregull."
Trish looked confused. "How do you know that?"
Matt uttered the words 'valley girl' under his breath. "For padding, like in a scarecrow."
"Oh yeah" Trish giggled. "Ooh look!"
Lita bend down. "Footprints! Or to be precise, bootprints. Would a scaregull wear boots?"
Matt pondered. "There's something fishy here. I'd like to take a better look at that scaregull!"
Liger had also sniffed out a set of bootprints. They followed the trail right up to the ghost train. They stopped before the entrance and looked at each other nervously.
"Ermis that breakfast I can smell? Come on pal, let's eat."
They turned to leave and set off quickly. A groan behind them set them running. They didn't dare turn back to see what made the sound.
When they reached the wrestling hall breakfast was ready. Everyone sat down to eat. Matt asked Jeff what he'd found.
"Bootprints. We followed them. They went into the ghost train."
"Did you find anything in there?"
Jeff nearly choked on his food. "In there? You mad? I ain't going in there! There was a noise!"
"What kind of noise?"
"A zombie kind of noise! Anyway what did you find?"
"We found bootprints in RVD's room."
Raven looked up from his breakfast. "Damn zombies!"
Lita swooned. Matt gave her a nudge. "I don't think so. We found straw too."
"From the scaregull!" Trish stated, matter-of-factly, smiling at Spike.
Tommy frowned. "The scaregull wears boots?"
"It would appear so." Matt looked at him sternly. "Any ideas?"
"Hey don't look at me I bunk with Raven! We heard the scream. But there's no way in Hell I'm unlocking that door at night!"
The other wrestlers also stated they heard it but were too afraid to investigate. Heyman turned to Rhino. "You bunk with RVD, didn't you hear anything?"
Rhino grunted. "Slept!"
Justin looked stunned. "You slept? Through that?"
"Vince is coming for him tonight." Spike spoke up. "What are we gonna tell him?"
Heyman sighed. "Same thing we tell him every time he comes for a wrestler."
Matt stood. "Thanks for the food but we have things to check out. Come on guys. Jeff? I dont want to hear it!"
Jeff grumbled and followed Matt reluctantly.
"We'll check the scaregull first. Come on."
At the top of the cliff stood the scaregull, motionless, silently awaiting their approach. As they neared Jeff became skittish. "That's it! That's the thing I saw at the window last night!"
They all got their first good look at the scaregull. It stood a good seven feet tall. A huge pumpkin head grinned on its shoulders. A blue boiler suit stuffed with straw made up its frame. Lita was the first to notice.
"Hey! It's got no feet!"
Trish pondered. "How's it going anywhere with no feet?"
"Exactly! No feet, no boots!"
Jeff butted in. "But there are boots! Look! Bootprints!"
Matt bent down for a closer look. "These match those in RVD's room! If it's not the scaregull making the prints it must be a wrestler!"
Trish frowned. "But who?"
"One who wears Doc Martens." Jeff seemed very sure of himself.
"How do you know that?" Quizzed Lita.
"I'm into rock music. Every goth worth his salt knows a Doc print when he sees one!"
"Brilliant Jeff!" Matt was impressed. "Were the ones you followed Doc's too?"
Matt looked a teeny bit disturbed. "Do you have a boot fetish I should know about?"
Trish giggled but shut up quickly when Lita raised her eyebrow. Jeff pulled his tongue out. "It had the timberland symbol in the print, thank-you-very-much!"
"OhAnyway off to the ghost train." Matt was determined.
"Oh do we have to?" Jeff whined. Just then a gust of wind caught the scaregull, which tapped him on the shoulder. "ZOINKS!" He squealed and chased after the others. "Wait for meeeeeeee!"
Back at the fair the gang stood outside the eerie ghost train. Liger and Jeff refused to move any closer.
"Not a chance. We're NOT going in there!" Jeff was adamant!
Lita rolled her eyes. "Not even for a Liger snack?"
"No way! I won't be bought! I'm NOT going in!" He folded his arms in defiance.
"How about a pack of tropical AND a pack ofMINT!"
Jeff began to crack under the pressure. "DAMMIT!" He snatched the packs and begrudgingly followed the others into the pitch darkness of the ghost train.
Once inside, Mr Ever-so-sensible Matt switched on his handy-dandy torch. They followed the tracks slowly. Something brushed past Jeff's shoulder and he leapt into the air with a squeal. Everyone jumped.
"Jeff! Calm down!" Matt shone the torch to show the mechanical hand dangling from the ceiling. "See? It's just the machinery!"
Jeff felt a little silly. "Sorry!"
Trish jumped. "Whwhat was that?"
Lita looked confused. "What was what?"
Trish pressed her finger to her lips. "Shhh listen"
In the distance a quiet groan could be heard. Jeff had to be restrained in his attempt to flee the building. There was another moan, this time from behind them. Everyone stood stock still in panic. They were trapped!
Suddenly a door opened and a zombie lurched forward with a terrible groan. It stopped with a jolt two feet away from the panic-stricken crew. Matt took a deep, relieved breath.
"See? It's just the machinery again. Nothing to worry about."
"Jeff stop panicking!"
"But MATT! Has it occurred to anyone else that if the rides are closed, nothing's plugged in, so nothing in here should make a noise let alone move?"
Matt stopped as Jeff's words sank in. He had a point! Matt decided this was a sensible time to panic!
Jeff didn't need telling twice! Two men, two women and a boxer dog ran headlong and flailing deeper into the building. The zombie took after them, groaning as it chased them down the narrow, dark track.
Matt noticed a maintenance door to the left and quickly ducked behind it, followed by four other petrified bodies. He locked it behind them just in time. The zombie was trying to get in. They all backed away from the door, trying to catch their breaths. Trish stumbled over something, which immediately let out a groan. Again they panicked!
"Zoooooooommmmmmmmmbbbbbiiiiieeeeee!!!!!!" Jeff didn't know where to turn. A zombie in the room and one outside just waiting for them!
"Wait a minute!" Lita was unsure. "Matt, shine your torch over here."
Matt shone the torch on the figure to reveal a bound and gagged wrestler slumped in the corner.
"RVD!" Everyone was shocked. Trish released the gag.
"Thanks. Man, am I glad to see you guys! I thought it was more zombies."
Trish giggled, a little embarrassed. "That's what we thought you were."
Jeff looked nonchalant. "I knew all along itwhat?" Everyone was frowning at him.
Lita checked RVD over. "Are you ok? What happened?"
"I'm not sure. I woke up with the scaregull looking over me. It pressed something to my face. When I came round I was in here."
Matt looked concerned. "We think the scaregull is a wrestler."
"Really? But who? And why?"
"That's what we've yet to find out. Rhino bunks with you right? He says he slept through it. Did you notice him in bed?"
"Man, I didn't get time to look! Sorry!"
Lita blushed and smiled. "Oh, that's ok."
Matt made a mental note to keep her away from wrestlers in future! "We better get you back to the office. Let Heyman know you're ok." He helped RVD up and untied him. Gingerly, he unlocked the door, half expecting a zombie to come bursting through it. Thankfully it had gone.
Back at the office Heyman was relieved to see RVD fit and well. It wouldn't be long before Vince came to collect him and it was decided that it would be best if they didnt tell the others he was back. Matt quizzed Heyman about the bootprints but it turned out there was a few of the wrestlers who wore them. They seemed no closer to solving the mystery other than it being a wrestler who abducted the WWF contracted ones. But Rhino was top of the suspect list.
It was late when Vince arrived for RVD. None of the other wrestlers were present to say goodbye, as they were unaware of his safety. They thought this, like many of the other visits would be a futile one. After signing all of the required paperwork Heyman, Vince, RVD and Team Xtreme all made their out way to the van.
Suddenly, an almighty growl rang through the fair! The scaregull came running towards them followed by several zombies. Everyone panicked and scurried to the safety of the van. From out of nowhere came Rhino, running headlong into the scaregull.
"GORE! GORE! GORE!" Heyman screamed at the top of his lungs!
The scaregull collapsed back, clutching its ribs. Rhino looked at the startled crowd. "Found this!" He grunted. In his hand was a bottle.
Matt took it and read the label. "Chloroform! That explains why you slept through the scream!"
Several wrestlers came out of hiding to tackle the zombies who gave up instantly.
Heyman walked over to the scaregull. "Now let's see who you really are!" He removed the pumpkin head. Everyone was shocked.
Heyman looked hurt. "Butbut why?"
Raven looked disgusted but defeated. He was still holding his ribs and coughing. "You sold us out! How could you? We were loyal to you. We don't want to go to the WWF! Here we're top-carders. In the WWF we'll end up wrestling on Metal or Heat! We don't want to be curtain twitchers! We're top carders dammit! So I masterminded a plan to stop it. Some of the loyal guys like Jerry Lynn and The Dudleys were in on it. Would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for those meddling kids!"
Vince stepped forward. "Well Raven, if I remember correctly you have a legal contract to the WWF to fulfil. As do those guys! Get them in the van! Anyone else who wants a contract is welcome to come and work for me. It's better than starving to death in a fed with no money."
Everyone sighed. They really were loyal to ECW but it was a fact they would surely starve here. Reluctantly they agreed to join up and would go when Vince returned for them the next day.
Raven was bundled into the van kicking and screaming. Before they left he screamed an ominous warning. "Do not underestimate the power of The Raven! I'll go to WWF but I'll wreak havoc! Mark my words! In a few months ECW will rise again! I cannot be held and I cannot be stopped. ECW RULES!"
With that the doors were slammed shut and the van sped off. Tommy smiled to himself, secretly. Raven was his friend. Raven couldn't be stopped and Tommy knew exactly how Heyman could be persuaded to raise ECW from the ashes. All it needed was a little time and patience and havoc would indeed be wreaked in the WWF.
Matt looked at his gang proudly. "Well, it looks like our work here is done! Come on guys, time to go."
Heyman thanked them for their help and waved them off. Along the road Lita spotted something. "Hey! Look! What's that in that tree?" They all peered up at the big black shape as they approached. It spread its huge impressive wings and dive-bombed the van. Everyone squeaked.
"It's a RAVEN!"
Matt being the ever-so-sensible one did the ever-so-sensible thing and floored the accelerator in an attempt to outrun the big black bird. The raven landed on a branch and watched as the van sped off into the distance. Once out of sight it spread its wings and took to the air, heading straight for the fair!
© Gabi 2001