The Girl lay shivering on the damp earthen floor of her cell, unable to move, unable to speak. Rotting scraps of food lay strewn about her in whatever spot they stopped after her jailer had tossed them at her. She was unable to eat any of it; not when it was fresh; not now as it rotted. The Girl felt herself growing increasingly ill as the days - nights - weeks of imprisonment drew on. Lack of proper nutrition; proper conditions, had taken its toll. She was very sick. She knew she might even die. Of this she was certain and even wished for. In her semi-conscious state she could still hope for release - be it death - from her torment.
Why she was held prisoner thus, the girl knew was the doing of her evil brother who sought to prevent her from inheriting their family fortune. He was greedy to the point that he would turn on his own flesh and blood to keep the fortune to himself. What she could not understand, however, was why had she not yet been killed, for she remembered hearing her brother give instructions to the creature who imprisoned her to destroy her quickly and use her remains for his vile rites. He just need be sure nothing was identifiable of what may be left.
Instead, this thing she came to know as The Voo Doo King chose to keep her locked in this dark cell in some underground cavern. He seldom tossed her anything to eat and often wreaked some form of torture on her, cutting her with a knife, jabbing at her with his spear.
How she had not perished from loss of blood or infection she did not know, except that she had always had a strong fortitude. Now, however, it would seem she would die slowly of sickness and starvation. All her fortitude, -- her strong will - was to no avail.
The Voo Doo King had not been around for more than a week, or so she guessed, for the only thing she had to gauge the passage of time by was the thin stream of sunlight which shown through a crack in a board directly over head. The girl prayed he was dead and as a pain wrenching cough wracked her tortured weakened body, she prayed even more for her own death.
She was only vaguely aware of the boards above her cell being pulled back and of the enormous silhouette within the opening.
The Undertaker prowled the dark eerie woodlands looking for some clue to confirm his suspicions that one of his foes frequented these parts. He knew this particular creature himself would not be about for at their last encounter, The Undertaker did considerable bodily damage to him and he saw his opponent whisked away by medical technicians. Undertaker found out later that the Voo Doo King had been hospitalized.
Without the controlling machinations of his former manager, Paul Bearer, The Undertaker found he had much more will of his own now and came and went as he pleased. However, without Paul Bearer's control over him, he was severely injuring more of his opponents now. Some of them he was sorry for later, for they were not all bad. He was trying more and more to exert his own self control and felt he made some leeway until he ran into the evil Voo Doo King. This vile scum, he knew, needed to be eradicated from the earth.
Now he roamed these dank dark woods following a hunch, rumors he had heard of screams in the night and horrifying sounds of incantations echoing all about. If he could find the lair of the Voo Doo King and destroy it, the Voo Doo King would be forced to move on. - If he himself was not destroyed as well from encountering the Undertaker.
Undertaker's long legs carried him almost noiselessly over the damp, rotting leaves. How a man as large as he could move so quietly was a wonder to all who knew him and a horror to all who opposed him. He moved thus now, effortlessly, taking in all he saw; all he heard.
Suddenly, a sound brought him to a halt. He cocked his head ever so slightly, waiting - listening; no expression on his face. He heard it again - muffled as it was - he was certain he heard someone coughing. Slowly his eyes scanned the ground around him, for the sound seemed to come from below. Taking one foot, he brushed through the fallen leaves until the sound of his own movement changed slightly. Getting down on one knee he brushed the leaves with his hands and saw what appeared to be a wooden door.
Clearing the door completely, the Undertaker found a knotted rope handle. He pulled. The old groaning wood gave without effort to the powerful sinews of the Undertaker. He threw it aside and lowered his lantern into the opening.
Though his expression never changed from the same stoic countenance he always wore, the Undertaker was puzzled and a bit moved by what he was looking at. Without hesitation, he jumped down through the opening for a closer look.
There on the ground before him lay a semi-naked young woman, badly battered, extremely emaciated. He could not tell if the few rags that covered her poorly were remnants of clothing, or something meant to be a cover for her. Was she alive? He crouched closer to her, holding the lantern for a better view. Reaching out one large callused hand, the Undertaker brushed the hair from the young woman's face, noting a wound running from her forehead, straight down across the left eye, ending at the corner of her mouth. He traced the wound with one finger.
The young woman stirred, inaudible to all but the Undertaker's keen vision, and looked at him through silted eyes as he moved his finger to the pulse point on her jugular. She lived - barely - for how much longer, he was not certain. He knew he would not leave her here.
On closer examination he found the rags to be a scant cover. The Undertaker removed his own long black duster, pulled away the rags and covered the battered naked girl with his cloak. Looking about him he saw they were within a barred, secure cage. The only way out was upward - the way in which he entered.
Setting the lantern on the ground, the Undertaker lifted the limp girl and lay her across his shoulder. He then began to climb to the top of the cell, using the few cross bars and latches as foot holds. Once at the top, he balanced himself agilely on the edge where he was able to grab the opening doorframe with one hand while he held the girl securely to himself with the other. The muscles bulged on the Undertaker's arm but no sign of strain shown upon his face as he pulled both himself and the young woman to the surface above.
Looking down into the dungeon below, the Undertaker removed a rope with a hook on the end from his side. He lowered it into the hole and snagged the lantern he had left there. After pulling it up he opened the tank on it and poured the liquid into the opening before him, shaking it to assure the Kerosene spattered far and wide below. He then took the still burning lantern and smashed it into the dungeon, watching expressionlessly as the flames spread.
After he was sure the fire had established itself, the Undertaker turned with his burden toward his home. He needed no light to find his way - instinct would guide him.
Focus slowly established to the girl's eyesight. Memory of the cage - the torture - pain - but not here. Different smell - different feel - different. Her eyes scanned her surroundings - a room -- sink - table - stove - a bed - no - two beds - one very large, the other smaller - make shift - the one in which she lay. No colors in this room - only grays and black - except for the fire on the hearth.
The girl's head swam, she had been raising it at the neck, trying to see - to understand - she was too weak. Her head fell back into the pillow. She sighed - closed her eyes and ran a dry tongue over even dryer lips.
Almost immediately she felt a hand cradle the back of her head, lifting it ever so gently. A cup touched her lips and soothing cool water was trickled through and as this realization struck her, the young woman began to drink thirstily, greedily, until besieged by a coughing fit as some of the water found its way into her air passages.
"Slowly," a deep gravely voice admonished, "slowly. Not too much now."
She felt her head placed back on the pillow, covers being rearranged around her. Head still swimming, the girl opened her eyes, determined to focus on the owner of that voice. A large auburn haired shape loomed over her; its back toward her as it straightened the bed covers, then reached into a basin next to the bed to wring the excess water from a cloth. Turning toward her -- wiping her face with the cloth -- wetting it and wringing it again -- placing it on her forehead. The girl found herself staring into the stern face of a man, beard and moustache as auburn as his long hair, a single teardrop tattoo on his right cheek just below the eye.
He stood to his full height, looming over her, and a giant of a man - massive chest -broad shoulders - mammoth powerful arms and hands. He looked directly into her eyes - never smiling - never changing expression. She felt as though he were reaching for her soul. Her vision blurred, head swam. She once again lost consciousness.
For days the young woman drifted in and out of consciousness, besieged by fever and chills. Through silted eyes and at times vision tinted red with a feverish haze, she saw the same giant of a man, clad always in the same black and grays, always there by her side - giving succor - cooling water - soothing dampened cloths to her face, arms, body. Never speaking much, only a few quiet words of encouragement.
Her mind could not grasp the reason for this succor. She did not know him - could not fathom who - or why. Many times her feverish state took her back to her days of agony and torture. Then, slowly, as the fever began to recede, snatches of memory returned to her like the slow flashing images in a pictograph. A lantern on a earthen floor - large callused hand - hair being brushed from her face - lying across a broad shoulder - climbing - not her - him with her - being carried through dark woodlands draped over his shoulder - this room - this bed - so large but so gentle as he cared for her - bathed her - hand gently cradling the back of her head - cool water - "Not too much now - sleep." - "Sleep."
The Undertaker heard the girl's breathing change from the fitful labored rasp of fever to a slow, steady one which signified sleep - normal sleep. He knew she was over the worst now, ready to start the slow road to recovery. It was a long fight to save her; she had lost so much blood - had so much infection in her wounds. Though he was not a doctor, he did have immense knowledge of medicine and healing the human body. By this he knew she would sleep for a time with no need of tending. He too could rest now, -- sleep - something he had only done in light snatches, always alert to the sounds the girl made. Always ready to give aide - comfort.
The Undertaker crept slowly into his own bed, removing only his shirt and shoes, barely draping a cover across himself. His mind touched briefly on why he would give care to this young woman - why he did not simply drop her by a hospital and leave her to be cared for there. Turn his back. Walk away. - Briefly - but the Undertaker's mind is not one as that of the average man. He did not dwell on such as this - what ifs - should haves - No. Her enemies were his as well - that was enough. Sleep overtook him.
Over the next several weeks the girl's strength slowly returned. While the Undertaker still fed and cared for her, he knew she could be left alone for periods of time. Gradually he began to resume his normal routine of work in his private workshop.
The girl became aware of the times he was gone and once when her strength had returned enough to her that she could walk short distances, she snuck out to his workshop to find him lying on his back, lifting huge slabs of concrete above his chest as a weight lifter would a set of weights. She stared mesmerized, as he lifted the huge stones (which she thought strangely resembled tombstones,) seemingly effortlessly until her head began to swim. She felt her strength fade and could no longer stand.
The Undertaker was aware of her presence, but said nothing. Now he laid aside the stone he was pressing, slowly stood, and walked over to her. She had slumped to her knees against the doorway of his shop. He scooped her into his arms with ease, and without a word, carried her back into the house.
"You shouldn't have been out of bed yet," he admonished in a soft, deep voice as he tucked her back under the bed covers. "You're not quite strong enough."
"Who are you?" she questioned in a small voice.
He hesitated briefly - the thought crossed his mind to tell her a name - one he had not used in twenty years. He demurred. "Others know me as the Undertaker." He replied, turning his back to walk away.
"Undertaker -" the girl called softly to him as he reached the door. He paused, not turning around. "Thank you."
He stood immobile. No one had said those words to him in what seemed forever. He felt strange. A slow incline of his head was the only acknowledgement he gave but for the girl, it was enough. She settled into sleep with a smile on her face.
The girl's admiration and respect for this large powerful man grew as the days went on. That he was her rescuer, she knew. He had brought her into his own home and clothed, fed and cared for her as though it were the only thing to do. (She noted that he had given her one of his own large black shirts to wear which covered her to just below the knees like a gown.) Not once did he ever offer to harm her even though they shared the same bedchamber.
Periodically, she'd hear a car pull up outside and hear someone call out to him. - "Undertaker - its time." Then he would put on his duster and a hat and leave for several hours, locking the door behind him. Never a word.
When he returned, he would be exhausted and merely collapsed into his own bed. One night, the young woman ventured over to his bedside, poured a glass of water from a pitcher on the stand next to him and shook him gently before he settled in.
"Here," she said softly offering him the cooling liquid.
The Undertaker's eyes met hers. He raised slightly, drank, then motioned he had had enough. She sat, staring into his eyes. His large hand touched the side of her face, thumb gently caressing her cheek.
"Go back to bed," he said quietly, "I am fine."
On one occasion the Undertaker came home to find the girl tossing and thrashing, screaming out in her sleep. She was in the throes of a terrible nightmare - perhaps reliving her days of torment. He touched her arm, hoping to awaken her, but she only struck out at him and crawled to the corner of the bed, tucking her knees to her chin fetally. Her eyes were open but she was still in a sleep state, not recognizing him. He tried quieting her, speaking softly, reassuring her, but she was too frantic - unaware of her present surroundings.
The Undertaker finally grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her to him. The young woman screamed and fought violently. Though he was loath to do it, the Undertaker knew he had but one option. He slapped her, hard, across one cheek. It was hard enough that her head jerked to the side. He prayed that it had not been too hard. Sometimes he did not know his own strength.
Slowly the girl turned to him, tears welling in her eyes, but the relief of recognition was there as well. She collapsed against his massive chest, sobbing. Undertaker held her to him, rocking her gently. He was tired but she needed him. This was strange and new to him. He put an arm around her shoulders, one under her knees and carried her to his bed. He threw a cover lightly over them both and there they both slept, she beside him - her head resting still on his broad chest. Him with arms securely wrapped around her.
As the time passed and she strengthened, the girl would accompany the Undertaker to his workshop, sometimes just watching, sometimes handing him the tools of his trade. She was happy in the company of this strange big man and happiness was a thing she had experienced so little of after her mother passed away 3 years hence. From that time on she had lived with her stepfather and half brother. While the stepfather showered her with as much love and attention any real father could, her half brother was a horror to deal with. He was always jealous of his father's attention of her and upon their father's untimely death (an accident, they said, -- not fully explained. She suspected the boy had a hand in it - he was truly devious!) Her brother became his true evil self on finding his father's fortune was to be split equally between them.
She tried to think little on her past, realizing she had never even told Undertaker her name. The time didn't seem right for it, as she wasn't even sure she wished to go by her given name anymore. Now she contented herself just sitting, watching, and growing in awe and admiration of the power of this man. Though he spoke little, she sensed he enjoyed her company and would reward her at times with a faint smile - a hand cupped gently beneath her chin - a light caress with the backs of his fingers on her cheek.
One night, as he prepared to leave her for whatever nocturnal activity he engaged in, he seemed more withdrawn - preoccupied. Finally when the long black car pulled up and the driver called out the usual "Undertaker - it's time." He slowly placed the hat on his head, touched the door latch, then paused.
"You are strong now." He said with outlooking at her. Was there a catch of emotion in his voice? "Strong enough to leave - if you wish." With out another word he left her standing there staring after him.
Did he wish her to leave? She was not sure. At times he was so difficult to understand, always within himself - only allowing her so far inside his wall. She prayed he was not telling her to go; she had no where to go.
The girl sat on her bed, knees pulled to her chin, arms wrapped around them. He had said "If you wish." She knew she did not.
That night, when the car returned with him as usual, all did not seem right. The young woman heard one car door slam, which would normally have been him getting out, but then she heard another door open and something very heavy being thrown on the ground. The car sped away rapidly.
The young woman strained her ears, trying to detect some sound of the Undertaker; watching the door latch for movement. None came. Creeping on tiptoe, the girl went to the window and moved the sash only slightly. The sight, which met her, caused her heart to skip a beat.
On the ground, motionless, lay the Undertaker. Without hesitation she ran out to him, shaking him, trying to revive him. Frightened at his limpness and lack of response, the girl lay her head on his massive chest, listening. - It was there - a heart beat - still formidably strong though the large man lay unconscious. It had begun to rain while he was gone and now since he lay here in the open, the rain seemed to be coming down in torrents. She knew she would somehow have to get this man who must weigh upwards of 300 pounds, into the dry warm house.
The girl ran to the workshop. She had remembered an open front two-wheeled cart there. Grabbing it quickly she returned. She pulled on his arms but could not budge him. She grew frantic.
"Please Undertaker!" she begged tearfully, "Please wake up - I can't move you myself." She began to sob.
The Undertaker stirred, rolled to his side and attempted to get to his feet. The girl allowed him to use her for support. All he could manage was to roll himself into the cart. Seizing the opportunity, the girl wheeled him into the house, stopping the cart next to his bed. There she was able to roll him into the bed, pull his drenched clothing off him and cover him. Upon close examination in the light of the room, she noted that his ribs had a nasty bruise on the left side. She feared they were broken. He was bleeding from his scalp and had another cut above his right eye.
The young woman ministered to him as best she could, dressing his wounds, binding his ribs tightly. The gash within his scalp worried her. She was hard pressed to stop the flow of blood, finding it necessary to hold a compress to it for the remainder of the night. She fell asleep next to him; hand holding the compress to his head; her head resting on his chest, comforted by the steady thrum of his heart beat and the slow steady rise and fall of his chest with each breath.
The Undertaker opened his eyes, at first not recognizing where he was; then slowly gaining a sense of his surroundings. He stirred, causing the girl to sit up abruptly. She quickly pulled the compress away from his head, examining the wound. She was pleased that the flow of blood had ceased. She dipped a cloth in the water by the Undertaker's bed, wrung the excess water from it and began wiping his face where the blood had run down.
Undertaker grabbed her wrist, stopping her ministrations. He tried to sit up grimaced once, then lay back down.
"Don't try to sit up so fast," the young woman instructed, "I think your ribs are broken."
He closed his eyes and swallowed, nodding his assent. He turned his head toward the girl and looked directly into her eyes. Feeling a bit uneasy under his scrutiny, the girl tried to wipe at the blood once again just for something to do. He stopped her again.
"You stayed," he rasped, reaching into her once more with his gaze.
"W-Where else would I go?" the young woman replied meekly - he still stared into her.
"I-I will go - if you wish." She lowered her head.
Undertaker thought he saw tears in her eyes - she misunderstood -"No!" he said quickly, a little louder than he meant to. She jumped a bit, startled. He softened his voice, "Stay - please." There was a word he could not remember using for a very long time. He vaguely wondered what this snip of a girl did to bring about these changes in him. Only vaguely - for he knew only that he enjoyed her company and wished her to go no where. He was suddenly wracked by a fit of coughing.
The girl quickly poured a glass of water, helped him rise to one elbow, and held the glass for him to drink. He signified that he had enough and collapsed back onto the bed. Running a large hand down over his face, the Undertaker despaired at how weak he felt. He knew he would not get up so quickly from this one.
Only rarely had he ever been beaten in his encounters with his foes but this time the match was unfair. Three of them teamed up against him. - Took him by surprise. He had no chance.
Undertaker turned to look at the girl -'no' he thought, 'not girl - young woman.' He raised his hand, touched her cheek, caressing it with his thumb. If she had not stayed, he knew he would be still lying outside in the rain. Perhaps he would not even be alive now.
"Thank you," he whispered. She took his hand and pressed her cheek deeper into it, wiping her tears.
The Undertaker regained his strength in half the time the average man would have. All through his recovery, the young woman was there for him as he had been for her, giving care and succor. The subject had never arisen again of her leaving. The Undertaker felt she was where she should be, as did she.
Many times that same long black car would pull up outside, inquiring as to whether the Undertaker was able to do battle once again. Always, the young woman would crack the door ever so slightly and bid them go away. The Undertaker needed time to recover. Never did she let herself be seen by the car's occupant, who never ventured very close to the dark foreboding house. Instead she chose to stay hidden by the door. Until the Undertaker was well to stand by her she did not wish to encounter anyone.
Finally the day came when the girl was surprised by the presence of the Undertaker next to her at the door. She had never heard him move near. He grabbed the door above her and opened it further to stand within it facing the sole occupant of the car. The girl quickly jumped behind the door. Undertaker lowered his hand from the door, without looking, found hers and squeezed it reassuringly.
"I will be ready by the next match." He told the driver, who nodded and jumped back into the car, which couldn't seem to move fast enough pulling away, spinning the tires.
The young woman looked beseechingly into the Undertaker's eyes after he closed the door. Still holding onto her hand, the Undertaker placed his other palm against her cheek.
"I will be fine," he said softly. She feared he would not. The angry bruise by his rib cage said otherwise, but she would never argue against him.
For the rest of the week the Undertaker worked relentlessly, using the huge stone slabs, which served as weights, restoring the strength to his muscles.
The young woman was a bit saddened by this and though he assured her he would be fine and that never again would they be able to take him by surprise as before, she still feared for him. She remembered all too well how badly he had been injured before. She had even asked if she could accompany him, but the only answer she received from him was a stolid stare.
The Undertaker, on hearing her request, felt an odd fear well up inside of him. He did not answer her because he was torn for the right answer. He feared if he said no that she would think he meant to imprison her here with him, which could not have been farther from the truth. While he did not wish her to leave, he did not want her to think she could not.
On the other hand, if he said yes, he faced two fears. One, that the vile creature who imprisoned and tortured her before had not expired and was still slinking about. The second was that she would see him when he was filled with the blood rage of battle, out of control. Undertaker was unsure of which he feared worse.
When the day finally arrived and the car pulled up outside, the Undertaker sighed, then acted on instinct. He bade the girl come with him. Smiling, she grabbed the hooded cape she had fashioned out of some cloth the Undertaker used for lining the coffins he made. In the time during his recovery, she had made herself a pair of soft leather boots from some scraps she found in a trunk and refashioned his shirt she wore into a dress, which now came to, above her knees. She also made a leather belt. All of this was in hopes of accompanying her large savior on one of his outings.
As they walked to the long black limo, Undertaker prayed he was not making a mistake. When the driver of the car looked questioningly at her, the Undertaker simply said, "She goes with me." From then on the ride was a silent one with the Undertaker holding onto the young woman's hand, toying idly with her fingertips. His mind seemed to be in some far off place and the young woman instinctively knew not to disturb him.
When they arrived at their destination, which the girl saw was a large arena; Undertaker led her to a dressing room through a crowd of onlookers clad in many colorful tights and robes. Once in the dressing room, Undertaker explained to her how he would be called for his particular match and bade her please stay within this room.
"I have heard rumors that that vile creature the Voo Doo King has been lurking about once again. It seems I did not destroy him after all." He said with a sigh. He took her cheeks in his palms, turning her face so she looked into his eyes, "I could not bear it if he regained control of you. You may watch the matches on this monitor. Please - say you will do as I ask."
"I will," she quickly agreed. The young woman was just happy to be allowed to accompany him this far and being privy, finally, to his occasional nocturnal activities.
Soon there was a knock at the door. It was time. He turned with one last look at her before he left.
"I will stay." She assured him. He inclined his head slightly, then went out without another word.
The girl sat in anticipation of what she was about to see. She heard the announcer call out "The Undertaker" and swelled with pride at the cheers, which accompanied his entrance into the ring.
She watched in awe, the match between her Undertaker and a young man with long blond hair who seemed to get the upper hand first. The Undertaker soon rallied and the young woman was amazed at the swift agileness of her large friend. She watched with mouth agape, as he would seem to fly through the air and bring his opponent down with what the announcer called a flying clothesline. She admired his agility as he twisted the arm of his opponent, then climbed to the top rope of the ring and walked it with perfect balance.
Just as the Undertaker had his opponent immobile, ready for the pin, the young woman saw another enter the ring with a chair, raising it far above his head. The girl drew in her breath, but the Undertaker seemed prepared for this new aggressor. He left the still form on the mat, reached out his hand claw fashion and grabbed the throat of this new opponent before the chair ever reached its mark.
The Undertaker lifted the struggling, choking form high above him with one arm. Another came at him from the other side but met with the same opposition. He discarded them both like so much rubbish.
The young woman's eyes widened. Instinctively she knew something had gone terribly wrong. She distantly heard an announcer yelling over the speakers.
"He's killing them! He's killing them!" He said excitedly. "Without the control of Paul Bearer, The Undertaker seems to have gone mad! Oh my God - is there no way to stop him? - He's killing everyone!"
The girl was instantly on her feet and out the door. She followed the sound of the melee within the arena. No one stopped her; all were too occupied with the Undertaker's frenzy. When she reached ringside, the sight that met her would have turned most women away. Seemingly lifeless forms lay strewn about the mat in odd broken positions. She saw the Undertaker holding a small man high above him, shaking him like a rag doll. Somehow she knew he could not stop himself. He was in a blood rage.
Others entered the ring attempting to subdue the Undertaker, but to no avail. The girl took a deep breath and rushed into the ring.
"Oh my God - What is that woman doing in there?" She heard the announcer's voice echoing through the speakers.
"Hey, I'll bet that's the woman everyone said they saw arrive with the Undertaker." Another said.
"I doubt that matters," screamed the first, "she needs to get out of there!"
By that time she had reached The Undertaker. From behind, she grabbed his arm. - She knew, somehow, she had to stop his madness.
Undertaker swiftly dropped his last victim and before she could speak, clasped his hand tightly around her throat, lifting her high above his head. The girl pulled at his fingers trying to loosen them enough so she could speak. If only he could hear her voice, maybe she could break the spell. The arena grew silent, all one intake of breath.
"Undertaker," the young woman rasped, "Undertaker - please - Stop." He wavered a bit; the hold seemed to loosen slightly. "Undertaker - I love you."
Something stirred in the Undertaker's mind. He began to tremble; his vision still hazed with the blood rage. A hint of recognition, the Undertaker's grip released as he quickly put a supporting hand under her arm. The young woman placed her arms about his neck as he slowly lowered her to the floor of the ring, sliding her body against his full length.
As she reached the mat, she stepped back and slid her hand down his arm, stopping as his fingertips reached her palm. She closed her hands around his.
"It's OK," she assured him. She felt him tremble with the last vestiges of the rage. His vision seemed barely focused. His chest rose and fell massively and the sound emitting from his throat was almost a growl. "It's OK." She repeated. "Come," she beckoned slowly leading him to the ring's edge.
The announcer finally broke the silence. "Who would have believed it! Ladies and gentlemen, I sure wouldn't have. - The beauty has tamed the beast."
The girl shut out all other sounds, gaze locked with the Undertaker's, as she led him from the arena. She feared if that gaze was broken, he would go wild again. Neither was aware of the beady eyes watching their departure with interest.
The young woman led the Undertaker to the dressing room, retrieved their cloaks, then after assuring herself one was available, led him to a waiting car. The ride home was once again a silent one. While he never let go of her hand, his other lay palm up in his lap in a claw like fashion. He starred at it, deep in thought. The girl was a bit frightened, -- not of him, -- but for him.
Once inside the house, the young woman led him to a chair, where he sat while she went to the counter and poured him a cooling glass of water. She brought it to him, -- he took it, -- then sat it straight on the table, untouched. He looked down at both of his upturned hands.
"You saw what I become," He said finally. "You saw the monster, -- I cannot stop myself." The girl swore she saw a real tear on his cheek. "You saw, -- and yet you could say," he swallowed hard, "you could say what you said to me?" He still did not look at her.
"Yes," she replied firmly. She got on her knees in front of him, closing the fingers of both their hands around one another. "Yes - because it is true."
"I - I could have killed you," He said emotionally, this time looking into her eyes.
"But you did not," she said, "and I know you would not - because it is true - and nothing you can ever do will change that. I do love you." She repeated softly.
In answer he stood, lifting her from the floor, scooping her into his mammoth arms and rewarded her with a full mouth kiss. That night they shared his bed once more, but this time it was not to sleep.
As the weeks passed the young woman reveled in the Undertaker's company. She loved accompanying him to his matches; always there at ringside; always ready to intervene when his rage got the better of him. (On those particular nights, the young woman sometimes would hold back any interference, sensing the growing energy within the Undertaker as his blood rage took hold. She had discovered the deeper his rage - the more intense their love was on returning home.)
On this particular night of a match, Undertaker bade the young woman stay home. She was in the middle of a full-fledged cold and feeling quite miserable. After much assurance from him that all would go well - his opponent was not one of great challenge - it would not hurt for her to miss one match - she reluctantly agreed. Besides, he told her, he would spend too much time worrying about her at ringside to concentrate on his match.
So as the car pulled up to take him away, Undertaker turned to the young woman with an upraised warning finger and an admonition to stay warm; stay in bed and get some rest. He kissed her gently on the forehead, then went off to his match. As he closed the door of the limo an uneasy feeling crept into the pit of his stomach. - Did he see something move in the bushes by the house?
Undertaker gave a wry grin and shook his head, chagrinned. What strange feelings this thing called love gave one. He knew it was just his anxiety at his first separation from the young woman since their acknowledgement of their feelings for one another.
The young woman drifted off into a sound, well-needed sleep to the drone of the limo's engine as it carried her Undertaker away. So sound was her sleep that she never heard the door open nor detected the creature who stealthily crept to her bedside. When a cloth was placed firmly over her nose and mouth, only then did she awaken to a foul smell that permeated even her clogged sinuses. With fading ether tainted vision she found a face she had hoped never to see again.
Undertaker entered the arena as his entrance music began. All evening in his dressing room he was hard pressed to shake the uneasiness which stayed with him from the time he left the young woman at home. He knew he must put that aside if he were to have a successful match. Opponents were quick to tell if another were not one hundred percent in the ring and would use that to their advantage.
He stood in the ring awaiting his opponent. The man's entrance music began and the spotlights turned to the entrance for his appearance. It seemed to go on for quite a while with no sight of the man. Then the music stopped abruptly.
"Undertaker," a voice rang out across the speakers. The arena grew hushed. Undertaker went rigid. He recognized that voice even before its owner chose to show himself.
"Undertaker," the man called out again, this time revealing himself. - It was the Voo Doo King. "Your opponent is - unavailable." He continued with an evil chuckle.
"Instead, I propose a special match - you and I." Undertaker raised his head and glared disdainfully at him. "A match with a special prize." He seemed to draw this last out.
Voo Doo King motioned behind the entrance. The sight that met the Undertaker's eyes made his heart sink. Two of the Voo Doo King's henchmen came into view. Between them they drug the young woman, shackles on her wrists and ankles, a gag in her mouth. She struggled valiantly. As she reached the side of the Voo Doo King, she managed to get a good kick in at him before the ankle shackles caused her to loose her balance and fall to the floor. On the floor she managed to use her hands to pull the gag away.
"Taker!" she screamed as the Voo Doo King pulled her up by her hair.
The Undertaker started for the ropes. He wanted to tear the vile creature apart. Voo Doo King raised a cautioning hand.
"If you come at me now - she dies now." The Voo Doo King motioned his henchmen who drew her head back by the hair and placed a knife at her throat. A low rumble emitted from the Undertaker's throat.
The referee placed a cautioning hand on the Undertaker's chest. While he held a deep-seated fear of the Undertaker, he also held great respect for him and understood his turmoil. "He'll do it Taker. - You know he will." He cautioned.
"What say you?" Voo Doo King rang out his challenge. "In there - now. - You win - she lives. You loose," - for a finish he made a slashing motion across his throat.
The Look in the Undertaker's eyes was unmistakable. You could almost see the red haze growing there. For an answer, he stepped back a few paces, inclined his head and with a broad sweep of his arm he motioned the Voo Doo King into the squared circle.
The Voo Doo King leered evilly as he made his way to the ring. He motioned for the girl to be brought along. He wanted her on the edge of the mat so Undertaker would be distracted by her torment. He knew he could not defeat the man from the darkside with his skill alone.
Undertaker was ready for him. No sooner had the man entered the ring did the Undertaker's arm shoot out, clenching his hand about the Voo Doo King's throat. He raised him high, then brought him down with a choke slam.
The Voo Doo King was back up in an instant and circled the Undertaker, causing him to turn so that the girl was in his line of vision. Whenever he looked in her direction, the henchmen would clout her about the head or shake her violently as were their instructions. The Voo Doo King used this to his advantage, catching the Undertaker off guard, -- striking a blow, which knocked the Undertaker off his feet.
"Undertaker - No!" He heard the girl call out to him. Her voice seemed to give him renewed strength.
With a lightning swiftness, the Undertaker was on his feet and in a continuation of the movement, grabbed the Voo Doo King by the throat once again. This time he held him high above his head, clenching his fingers around that vile throat. The Voo Doo King made a gargled choking noise.
The henchmen saw their master's struggle and also saw his strength fade. One of them grabbed the gag, which had now fallen about the girl's throat, and began twisting it tightly. The Undertaker's back was to them. They knew they had to get his attention. With one final twist the henchman felt the girl go limp.
"Undertaker," he called out, holding the girl with both hands above his head. As the Undertaker turned in their direction, still clutching the Voo Doo King, the henchman threw the limp form of the young woman into the ring. She hit the mat with a terrible thud, then lay motionless.
The Undertaker dropped the Voo Doo King and ran to the young woman. He fell to his knees beside her, raising her limp body to him. "NO!" He cried out in heart wrenching wail. His head dropped against her. His shoulders shook spasmodically.
The Voo Doo King regained some of his strength. One of his henchmen had slid his staff to him. The Voo Doo King got to his feet, then rushed toward the Undertaker, staff raised over his head.
Before he could connect however, the Undertaker's arm shot up and once again had the creature by the throat. Without looking at him, the Undertaker lay the young woman gently back on the mat, and placed a loving kiss to her still lips. As he turned to the Voo Doo King, slowly raising to his feet, the referee saw in the undertaker's eyes a far deeper blood rage than he had ever seen there before. He knew there would be no stopping him. Nor did he wish to. He knew the Undertaker would destroy the Voo Doo King and all who followed him, finally ridding the wrestling world of this horrid creature. It was what would come after that the ref feared, for he knew the Undertaker would not stop there but take out all in his path, be they guilty or innocent. There was but one chance. The referee saw something the Undertaker had not. With the Undertaker's kiss, the girl's chest rose ever so slightly, drawing in a breath. The choking gag had fallen limp, allowing air to her once again.
The Undertaker had slammed the Voo Doo King to the mat several times. Finally, with a snap that was heard throughout the arena, the Undertaker broke the Voo Doo King's neck. He then turned his attention to the henchmen who had been frozen with fear, immobile on the edge of the mat. Before they could react, Taker snatched them both high into the air.
The referee slipped behind the Undertaker's back and dropped to the side of the prone girl. He shook her gently, -- noted a slight movement, -- then shook her again. Her eyes opened.
"Call to him," the ref urged her. "Quickly, before it's too late."
The young woman's head swam but she understood what she must do. With assistance from the referee, she raised to one elbow. "Undertaker," she said but her voice was but a whisper.
The ref knew the Undertaker would never hear her. He looked toward the announcers sitting at ringside and motioned to them for a microphone. This little man, they thought was either very brave or very stupid. One announcer edged his way to ringside, ever keeping his eyes on the Undertaker.
The referee saw the announcer slide the microphone across the mat. It fell just short of him and the girl. Gently releasing support of the young woman he crawled toward the microphone. He sensed a movement, then saw the henchmen, first one, then the other, their limp broken bodies fly past him. He must act quickly. Just as he lay his hand on the microphone, he felt a vise like grip on one of his ankles. Suddenly he was whisked into the air. On his way up he threw the microphone toward the young woman.
The Undertaker grabbed the referee by the ankle and held him aloft. In his rage, all he could think of was to kill. His love was gone. All must pay.
The crowd roared with excitement. The Undertaker did not realize they were trying to tell him something.
The young woman weakly grabbed the microphone. Instinctively the crowd grew quiet. They knew the Undertaker must hear her. A very soft, weak voice came across the speakers.
"Taker," the voice was a little stronger this time. "Taker - stop," the young woman bade. "Taker - I live - for you."
The Undertaker turned toward the girl. She dropped the microphone, still propped on one elbow, and reached out to him with upraised palm The Undertaker unceremoniously dropped the ref and covered the distance between him and the young woman in two massive strides. A few feet from her he dropped to his knees and slid to her side, scooping her to him in his powerful arms. The young woman felt the last vestiges of his blood rage leave him as he shuddered against her. They touched foreheads; both openly showing tears streaming down their faces.
"I cannot lose you," the Undertaker told her, voice raspy with emotion.
"Never," she whispered to him. She placed her arms about his neck and pressed her head against his broad shoulder.
The Undertaker stood, lifting her with him and without a backward glance, carried her from the arena to his waiting limo.
As focus slowly returned to the girl's eyesight she immediately recognized her surroundings. She found it very reminiscent of the first day she opened her eyes here - same room - sink - table - stove - but a difference. Only one bed now - one which they share together. Now she found herself safely enfolded in his mammoth embracing arms, her head resting on his massive chest. She felt great comfort in the sound of his strong heartbeat.
The young woman could tell by the steady rise and fall of his chest that the Undertaker slept. She remained still, perhaps burrowing a little deeper in his arms. She felt more secure there than she ever had anywhere in her life. Her brother could have their entire inheritance and any other riches he could procure, if that is what truly made him happy. She had no need for any of that. She found her true happiness right here, entwined within the Undertaker's embrace.