A volcano erupts, belching lava and steam into the dense, smoky atmosphere.
Near the base of the volcano is a large pool, its surface roiling and lapping against the craggy contours of its edges.
Beneath the surface, two globules float listlessly in the primordial soup.
It’s Nova and Hoyt.
Hoyt seems upset about something.
The camera zooms out to the environment surrounding the pool and time speeds up. The volcano continues to spew and then ceases. The dense smoke that covers the atmosphere dissipates. The pool connects to a broader body of water, and as waves crash against its edges, sediment slowly builds to form a beach over time.
As the smog of the atmosphere clears, the sun is visible in the sky.
Nova explodes out of the water’s edge, collapsing in a reptilian heap on the sand. His scaly flesh shines under the sun, the enormous nostrils on his elongated snout rapidly expanding and contracting in desperate pleas for oxygen.
An indeterminate amount of time passes before he is able to roll over and press his webbed hands and talons against the sand. As he pushes himself up out of the grit, a second figure breaks the surface of the pool and reaches for the sand.
Hoyt emits some kind of low, wet growl as he flails about. He appears stuck in the muck under the surface of the pool. His talons grip at the sand but can’t seem to grab hold of a support.
Hoyt looks to Nova and cries out again.
Nova rolls over and throws his arms around Hoyt’s shoulders. Hoyt holds fast to Nova’s grip, and slowly he emerges from the muck encasing his lower extremities, eventually flopping next to Nova on the beachfront.
They lay there together, breathing in freedom under the warmth of the sun.
The scene fades out and into a wide shot of a canyon. The red clay walls rise majestically around the sandy floor. A bird chirps its mating call in the distance.
The camera pans around the corner of the cliff wall, where a group of primates are gathered around a group of rocks jutting out of the ground.
One in particular is at the center of the group’s attention.
Hoyt stands in the middle of the group, gesturing wildly at the sky with his hairy arms. Around him, the other primates stare at him, blank-faced.
Nova stands nearby, resting his forearms against a rock-face. Hoyt looks over to him, and Nova offers an encouraging grunt before raising one arm and slapping his hand on his resting rock.
Hoyt stands still, taking a deep breath. Then he leans down and places his right index finger on the ground, slowly drawing a shape in the sandy dirt.
Hoyt finishes the cross and again gestures to the sky. He stares around the group, locking eyes with each of his peers, desperately waiting for a response.
Followed by laughter.
The other primates fall over themselves, screeching and howling, waving their arms dramatically. A few begin gesticulating towards the sky in mocking fashion.
Hoyt stands in the middle of it, not immediately processing the group’s reaction. He looks around at them, then over at Nova. Nova’s shoulders sag and he hangs his head.
Hoyt gestures towards him and then to the group. Nova looks away before stepping backwards, ducking around the corner of the rock he was resting against.
Hoyt’s eyes remain fixated on the place where Nova had been standing moments ago. Eventually he turns back to the group, who are still carrying on and mocking gestures towards the sky.
Hoyt’s eyes narrow, and his lips curl into an angry snarl.
Later that night, Nova shoots upright to the sound of an agonized scream. He shuffles out of the corner of the cave where he had found a suitable resting spot to the central living area, where he stops in his tracks.
Hoyt stands fully-erect in front of a rock that has been rolled across the entrance to a separate tunnel of the cave. Behind the edges of the rock, it’s clear that a fire is raging.
And behind the rock, screams emanate and echo off the cavern walls.
Nova believes in the moment that he can hear fists beating and scraping against the other side of the rock.
The fire continues to burn, and eventually the screams fade. Hoyt stands unmoving in front of the rock. Nova takes the opportunity to scramble towards the entrance of the cave, starlight illuminating its entrance.
June 24, 2023
Coronado Island, CA
Nova stands on the balcony of his hotel suite, forearms resting the railing, smoking a cigarette and looking out over the water back towards mainland San Diego and the lights of the Petco Center in the distance.
There’s the sound of a needle hitting the surface of a record, then a warm crackling noise and the sound of someone inhaling a breath.
I know you’re exhausted, Hoyt.
Yours is a never-ending rail-shooter of an existence.
You lash out at what you don’t understand, and that tends to lead to a ton of lashing because there is a LOT you don’t understand.
You’ve always struggled. Some people don’t integrate into the world, or social fabric, of daily life. They react like they’ve been deposited into a hostile environment and have to immediately fight their way out.
That’s what you’ve been doing for more than two decades.
Something could have made a difference.
Someone could have made a difference.
I don’t think you needed someone to necessarily buy into the religiosity bullshit. That was always a bridge too far for literally anyone else. You weren’t going to find that person.
But I do think you needed someone. To soften the edges.
To remind you that things weren’t as bad as you thought they were.
You live in a confusing, lonely world, Hoyt.
You were always on the outside, and I knew it wasn’t right. We came up together, and we entered PRIME’s Golden Era together, but you weren’t CC’’ed on the emails. You weren’t in the group chat.
Angelo. Karina. Brandon, even when he didn’t have his shit together.
Tchu. Troy. Silver.
Even when you beat Killean. Even when they put the ultimate respect on your name.
You were on the outside.
I could’ve been a liaison. I’m sorry I wasn’t. I didn’t have the time. I’m not sure anyone would have.
Nova lights another cigarette.
I don’t want God’s Championship.
It’d be cruel to take that from you.
What I want, Hoyt, really, is exactly what we have lined up next week at Tropical Turmoil.
It’s been a wild ride. This is our home, and we came back (or were, um, transported back) because it meant something for us to stand for this place.
But the message was received, and now we’re both adrift at sea, waving at the planes that pass overhead flying banners that testify to our greatness.
All I want…
…is to step into the ring…
…with an old friend, because we are ultimately friends…
…and provide one last violent testament to what this place means to us.
Then I want to take a step back.
Take a break.
Enjoy what I can. Work through some trauma.
Nova snuffs out his cigarette and turns away from the sunset.
I can’t think of a better partner for the send-off.
See you soon, buddy.