Part 1: The Final Fall From Grace
Taker stormed out of the arena. This was the last straw. The fans, Kane, Paul, now the Big Show had turned on him. He could no longer stand it. He angrily got in his car and decided to drive as far away from the arena. His temper raging, he slammed his hands against the steering wheel and cursed outloud to himself in the car. In time of sanity Taker would have known better. Why would he really have to be upset at the Big Show? After all, he was the one who went out in the open threatening one day there would be a dagger in the Big Show's chest. But it was the Big Show who acted first. Why had he been so out of focus...perhaps he had been too in focus. Perhaps all the time of listening to Paul had finally taken out what little humanity there was left within him. How could he have allowed all of this to happen? The fire, he never set it, why did he admit to it? Did he do it purely to hurt Kane? Did he do it to hurt the fans? Or perhaps maybe he realized the terrible mistake he had made and just didn't want to face up to it. But at the moment the anger was so overwhelming. Everyone he trusted turned on him. Then just as he looked up....
The next thing Taker knew he was lying in a crumpled heap. The wreckage of the car was smoldering around him as if it had just been taken out of an oven. The body was completely destroyed. The front was smashed, the back was badly scraped and mauled. Taker opened his eyes realizing now he had just been in a horrible car wreck. He found people, mainly rescue personel, huddled around the wreck. He opened his mouth and weakly began to speak. "Help...me..." He gasped. He could feel people working at the car trying to push it enough to where they could get at the dying man inside of it. "Hang on, we're almost there!" A voice called. The next thing Taker knew he felt several pairs of hands pulling him from the wreckage. He felt his eyes growing heavy. He felt as if his whole body would give out on him then and there. Perhaps that was for the best, he thought. Maybe the world would be better off without me knowing what I have become...then, one thought entered his mind...Kane. So much left unsaid, so much unresolved... Taker slipped in and out of consciousness. "Kane...." he began to call. "Kane..." He called again. "Take it easy. We're gonna get you to the trauma center."
The next thing Taker knew he was in a hospital room. IV's and other lines were hooked up to him to keep him alive. He couldn't believe he'd let it come to this. How could he have? All the fame, the glory, all that he had that he loved so much...how could he have just tossed it all away? What had made him make such a terrible mistake? It didn't matter now. He had to fight now to stay alive. He could not leave this world...not with all he had done and not attoned for it. Especially what he had done to Kane...his own brother. He drifted in and out of a semi-conscience state. Every now and then he would open his eye slightly and see nurses and doctors come in to monitor his condition. No one really talked to him, or made any attempt to. Here, he wasn't a celebrity, he wasn't a great warrior. He was just another casualty on the battlefield of the trauma unit for the doctors to hopefully put back together and send on his way. Well, he thought. Would serve me right. Way I acted...I deserve to be treated like this.
The next time Taker opened his eyes, he was alone. It was strange. First moment he left the arena he felt overwhelming anger and hatred. He was angry, angry at Paul, angry at Kane, angry at Big Show, angry at the fans...but now, if he was angry, he was angry...at himself. He'd let arrogance and dillusion rule him. He let jealousy and bitterness rule him. The darkness that he was had become too dark. Now, anger had turned into sorrow. He realized now what he had lost. Lost his followers, lost his faith, his brother, his spirit. Would it really matter to Kane if his brother lived to settle matters with him? He began to wonder if any of this was worth it? Was it worth living for? He began to wonder if he cared at all if he himself lived or died. All that he had, now it had come to this. Depressed, lonely, and feeling rejected by all the world, he silently begged for death to take him...he wanted to be in this life...no longer.
He felt as if the last breath would soon escape him, then he heard a voice, a voice that appeard to be...singing. It was a soft, sweet female voice singing something. "An angel? Surely I cannot be in Heaven. I know I've done nothing to end up there. And I know they do not have such sweet voices in hell, unless it is to torment me forever..." Taker said to himself. Then, he opened his eye slightly. He was still in his room. Only now, someone was with him. He saw out of the corner of his eye a young woman. She looked to be about 25, heavy set but lovely none the less. Long burgandy hair flowed down her shoulders. She had pale skin, a pair of small, pale pink lips, and deep, deep brown eyes...so deep in color they were nearly black. She wore a white dress with a red and white apron on the front. She was a candystriper, hospital volunteer. She walked over to him. As she turned around he closed his eye so she would not notice that he has seen her.
She looked at Taker, at the time not knowing who he was, but even if she had, her compassion was not limited to a person's status or notoriety. She loved people, famous or unknown. "I can't believe they just walk in here and then walk out. They act like he's just another wreck brought in for them to repair. Honestly, I've seen cars treated with more respect. Well, you won't get that from me. I'm different. I look upon all people as precious lives. Oh, I have to go. Um...I'll be in to look on you tomorrow. My name is Hope. I know you're comatosed, but I know you can hear me. You'll get through this. I'll see you tomorrow." Hope said and then left. Had Taker just dreamed that? This young woman who did not even know who he was or what he had done...had compassion for him? How can anyone have compassion for me after all that I've done? She won't feel that way once she knows who I am and what I've done. It will soon end the same as it always does...she will leave me like they all leave me. I was destined to live alone, and I will die alone. No one shall speak more of me once I am gone, he thought to himself.
The next day, Hope did come as she said she would. She looked in on the Undertaker who still had not given any sign that he was conscious. Hope walked into his room and checked all the machines that he was hooked up to. She could see that he was breathing normally so she called the doctor. "He seems to be breathing on his own. Don't you think we should take him off the ventilator?"
"My dear, he appears to be breathing normally which is why he's on the ventilator." The doctor answered dryly. "Yes, but he might be able to..."
"Look...you're not the doctor here I am. You didn't graduate with a degree in medicine. My job is to keep him alive. Your job is to check in on him, do your little customary five minute prep speeche and then leave. Your opinion does not count here as far as I'm concerned. Now do not question my authority again."
"Yes sir." Hope said trying desperately to hold back the tears. It saddened her that the medicine here didn't usually involve compassion. At least, not from the head doctors. He turned and left the room...but before getting out the door he added*and rather cruely*, "and please don't get involved with him. You don't even know him. For all you know he was probably just another idiot who asked for the situation he's in now." Then the doctor left. "Bastard." Hope cursed under her breath. She had compassion for people...except maybe him. "I don't care what he says. You can breath normally and he keeps you on that ventilator. He probably just does it to hike up the bill. He thinks he knows so much just cause he has a fancy degree and a white coat. He thinks jabbing needles in people and ripping out their internal organs and putting them back in qualifies him for a miracle worker. Then how come so many little children leave his office screaming in terror. It only takes five minutes to reassure a child that he's not going to kill them. He just tells them to be quiet and then just puts the needle in." Hope said as she sat down. She just couldn't hold back her tears. She saw that no one could see her, and she started to cry. What she didn't know was that the Undertaker was indeed breathing on his own and he could sense and hear her. He slightly opened one eye and saw that she was crying. He had heard the doctors unkind words to her. It angered him. She was only being concerned for another's welfare and she was being punished for it. He started to move his hand, then, he started to speak. "Hope....." he said wearily. Hope turned around startled to find Taker open his eyes. He wearily, slowly raised a hand to Hope's cheek and caught a stray tear that fell from her eyes. Hope put her hand upon his as he slowly withdrew it from her face. "You're awake. I'll get the...."
"No. I...don't want him...back in here." Taker said wearily. "If I'm disturbing you, I'll go." Hope said. But she found that he was holding onto her hand. "Please....you...don't have...to ...go."
"You..you poor thing. You must be so lonely. Don't you have any family that will come to check upon you?" Hope asked. Taker looked away. A look of sorrow veiled his handsome features. He was certain Kane knew by now, but would not care. After the way he had treated his younger brother, he could not really blame him. "No..."
"Well, then I'll just have to fill in." Hope said drying her eyes. "Please...I'm...I'm not worth wasting time...over." He said sadly. "You're not a waste of time. I'm not like that stuck up snob that calls himself a doctor. Look, you..you just rest. If you need anything, ring for the nurse and ask for me. I will see you later." Hope said. "I'll come back soon." She said and quietly left Taker's room. He began to feel a surge of strength in him. He slowly started to sit up. He got a little ways, but pain racked his body, and he had to lay back down. A nurse walked down the hall and noticed the Undertaker trying to move. "Doctor! The patient is moving! I think he's come out of his coma!"
"Doctor, I saw him sit up. I'm sure he's come out of his coma." The nurse protested. "Nurse, you can't be sure. I'm the doctor here. I alone am the only one who can truly determine whether the patient has become alert enough to...."
"If I speak freely on my own, will you shut up?" A voice sternly asked. The doctor looked in amazement to find Taker glaring harshly at him. "Well, I guess even a trained medical professional can make a mistake..."
"From what I've heard, you make many of them. And don't give me your holier than thou speeche about how you are the doctor and I am just a patient. It might interest you to know that while you were probably preparing a place for me in the morge I was completely aware of all that was going around me. I heard how you talked to that poor girl and I didn't appreciate it either. And refering to me as a *ahem* an idiot who asked to be put in the situation I'm in now. First of all, yes, I was angry behind the wheel, and I will admit that I wasn't paying attention to the road as I should have been. But that does not make me an idiot, nor does it give you the right to treat me as such. While I'm in this place you will treat me with some respect...and you will treat Hope with respect as well. You have no idea the wonderful person you have in her. First off, I am not just another patient, I happen to be a wrestler working for the World Wrestling Federation. I have a name. I'm called The Undertaker...and I expect that name to be said with the utmost respect when you speak it. Just as I expect you to speak the other names of other people here with respect or I shall be forced to seek drastic measures..." He growled. He could feel a measure of himself...the old Taker that protected the innocent returning to him. He looked at the doctor with eyes that could scare a corpse. "Don't make me come find you when the time comes dear doctor...." he said cryptically. The staff quickly vacated the room. He smiled a bit of a satisfied, smug grin knowing that doctor's attitude would be thoughly changed when he got done with it.
Later on that day Hope returned to Taker's room to check up on him. She saw him sitting up on his own and was now unhooked from most of the machines that kept him breathing until he recovered. "You're feeling better." She said. "Yes. Thanks in part to you. I...I have to admit I didn't know if I really wanted to live or not. I...I don't have anyone really to go home too. I don't think I really have a home anymore." Taker said bowing his head. "Why do you say that?" Hope asked. "I...I don't think you would want to know. If you knew me, knew my past, you would not be standing here with me now."
"What is it about your past that is so terrible?" Hope asked. Taker looked at her for a moment convinced that she would leave in disgust if she found out the truth about him. But, she was insistent upon knowing, and if he was to know for sure that she was as true as she said she was, he would tell her. "It...it's complicated, but if you want to know everything, I guess I should tell you. It started about a year ago. I...I do have a brother, but I doubt he wants anything to do with me after the way I have treated him. My brother Kane and I are both wrestlers in the World Wrestling Federation. As I said, it all started a year ago. Kane and I were in a match against each other. We were fighting for a very coveted title belt. Kane and I tried to reach an agreement that I would take the title. But he and I let our egos get in the way of each other, and I ended up making a terrible descision that will haunt me for the rest of my existance. I went back to a man who betrayed me several years back...and betrayed my brother as well. But, at the moment, I was angry. I felt as if Kane had taken away from me that which I felt was rightfully mine. The next night, I came out, and I spouted off at my brother. I told him that a terrible accident that happened 20 years ago was something I did. I said he was weak, and that he had no concept of evil. I turned against all the people who had come to love me. I was angry. I said things that weren't true...all because I was jealous and upset at my brother. I did everything I could to make fans hate me. And that was just in the few weeks and months since that incident...things in the coming months got worse...much worse." Taker took in a sigh wondering if he could go on. "I took a leave of absence after a very gruling match. I came back and formed something called The Ministry of Darkness. And it was more than that...it was a ministry of fear, and evil. It was a reign of terror. I staged mock sacrifices, I kidnapped two young girls and terrified them. I tortured people. I was...evil personified. I did horrible, unspeakable things...and now...now I sacrificed my relationship with my brother...all for a damn belt. All for a pair of tag team titles. I can tell you honestly I hate myself. I hate what I am. I hate what I stand for. I'm nothing to no one anymore. And I brought myself to it. I gave up everything...all for something that was never worth it in the first place. I had so much...and I threw it all away. Now, all I have is my regret." Taker looked at Hope fully expecting her to walk away in disgust. She simply stood there. Her face firm, but also full of compassion for this big man who had just confessed his sins to her. He looked at her and began to speak again. "Tonight, I and a tag partner who ended up turning on me lost a crucial match. I left the arena in a furious rage. I didn't even bother to pick up my gear and change. I got in my car, drove while I was angry and didn't see what was coming ahead of me. The next thing I knew, there were medics all around me. I...I thought I was going to die. But I wanted to live at least long enough to settle unfinished business with my brother, to try to atone for the error of my ways. But now, I'm not sure I even have a brother anymore. Kane has been so emotionally tortured and torn...and most if it...is my fault. I can't believe what fool I've been. I wouldn't be suprised if Kane writes me out of his life...maybe he should. He'd be better off without me. Some brother I've been. He wanted a friend. He wanted someone to look up to. I was neither. I was concerned about myself. It would not suprise me at all if he never forgave me and hated me for the rest of his life."
"You don't know that. I know I don't hardly know you, and I don't know your brother Kane. But I think maybe the simple fact that you regret what you've done means that you're not beyond saving." Hope said. "Hope...after what I just told you, you think I'm still worth redemption. I hurt people Hope. I hurt them and hurt them beyond normal human imagination. How can you say that I'm still savable?" Taker asked completely puzzled. "Could the devil regret?" Hope asked. "No." Taker answered. "You regret. You know that you have lost something precious and you mourn and regret that loss. But it is something you can get back. Granted, it will not be easy, and it will take time. But I believe that there is no soul that I have met or known that was truly beyond redemption. I believe that so long as even a tiny flame burns, a soul can never just lose all the good that was inside of it. If there was good in you to begin with, then that good is still there. I think there is a lot more that you haven't told me. I...I want to know all that you've been through. A heart simply doesn't turn cold over night. Things happen to turn it cold and icy." Hope said. "I...I will explain things to you later when you come back. I'm tired and need to rest."
"All right. I'll come back later when you're feeling better."
"For what?" Hope aked. "For listening to me and not condemning me for my actions." Taker replied.
to be cont....