Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners
Las Vegas, Nevada
Friday, July 22, 2022
Inside the offices of the parole board, a group of people file into a conference room around one half of a large table. The chairperson turns to the IT guy standing over by a computer station and signals for him to start the remote hearing.
The image of a computer desktop illuminates a white projection screen on the wall across from where the board-members have taken their seats, and slowly the Webex login comes into focus. The IT guy begins typing, and Webex launches the parole board’s meeting on the screen. The video reflects back on the board members seated at the table.
After a few moments, there is a loud BLOOP.
Clark County DA has joined the meeting.
A young man with slicked-back brown hair and a gray suit sits in front of a blurred background.
Prisoners Rights Office has joined the meeting.
A young woman at a desk adjusts her glasses. There is a large plant and a painting of Ruth Bader Ginsberg in the background.
Clark County Probation & Parole has joined the meeting.
An older bearded man in a blue collared-shirt sits in a kiosk, a large Las Vegas Golden Knights poster and Trump 2024 stickers affixed to the wall behind him.
Clark County Detention Center has joined the meeting.
A foggy lens displays an empty room surrounded by concrete walls and thick glass. The overhead light isn’t on, but lights in other adjacent rooms illuminate an inmate mopping a nearby hallway. The lights come on in the jail video room and a caseworker leans into the camera.
“You looking for Vega?”
“Yes,” the chairperson indicates.
“Okay, here he is,” the caseworker says, looking to his right, “sit down here and look straight into the camera. You don’t need to pick up the phone.”
Nova shuffles into view clad in a gray jumpsuit, and takes a seat.
“Are you Mr. Vega?” the chairperson asks.
“Okay,” the chairperson nods, “This is the case of Caesar Vega, we’re here for a parole violation hearing. Mr. Vega is present by Webex from Clark County Detention Center with counsel, Attorney Wright, from the Prisoners Rights Office. We have Assistant District Attorney Kazarian from the DA’s office, also by Webex, and it looks like from Probation & Parole we have…I thought we were going to have P.O. Gardner for this hearing…”
“P.O. Gardner is on medical leave,” the man from P&P pipes in, “I’m his supervisor, Dan Rogers, I’m covering.”
“Medical leave?” the chairperson mumbles, shuffling through papers in front of him until the woman to his left points to one of the documents.
The chairperson’s eyes widen. “Oh. Right.”
He collects his papers into a stack in front of him and looks to the Webex screen.
“Well, are the parties ready to proceed with the hearing?”
MGM Grand Arena
Las Vegas, Nevada
Friday, July 1, 2022 – Great American Nightmare (After the match)
Nova sits in a folding chair in a backstage locker room, still clad in his wrestling gear. He looks up at the two figures standing over him who he hasn’t seen since before the Survivor tournament began – Dickie Parker and Benj, the young men who masterminded the “Jail Cots to Jackpots” reentry program that ultimately allowed for Nova’s release from jail in Washington State to parole supervision in Nevada so he could participate in the reopening of PRIME.
“Well, I hope you had fun with your friend,” Benj seethes.
“Benj…,” Dickie starts, but Benj cuts him off with a wave of his hand.
“Don’t ‘Benj’ me, Dickie,” he says, “when we engineered your release, we put ourselves out there, whatever it is we ever hoped to accomplish in this or any other company!” Benj shouts, “we did that because we believed in everything we had heard and read about you…”
“You did that because you saw an opportunity to make your bones off someone who you knew wouldn’t be able to say no,” Nova replies.
“Oh, THAT’S…,” Benj erupts before Dickie steps in front of him.
“We invested a lot of ourselves in the belief that this would work out,” he says quietly, “for you, and yes, for us, too.”
“And no sooner do we unpack your bags before you’re running off with the homeless pirate captain guy in open and flagrant violation of EVERY rule you agreed to!” Benj throws up his hands.
“I just…,” Nova shrugs, “I just wanted to see if we could capture something special, something that felt like the old days…”
“Well, welcome back to 2007!” Benj says, clapping loudly, “you captured something special, my friend…openly using drugs and alcohol on television…violating your curfew and geographical limitations thousands of times…bringing in unauthorized personnel – demented, violent strangers, no less…”
Nova winces and nods with each mention, then looks around curiously.
“Hey, where’s…where’s…,” he snaps his fingers, “where’s, um, Dan-”
“David? David Foster?” Benj replies, “David completed his reentry program early, Nova! While you were off playing spaceman! We had a plan for that kid!”
“We were hoping he’d follow in your footsteps,” Dickie explains, “learn the profession, like a protege or something, eventually take over your moniker after your retire, y’know. It would’ve been nice.”
“Now he’s going to tech school!” Benj steams.
“Bottom line,” Dickie says, putting a hand on Benj’s shoulder, “we’re between a rock and a hard place here. You’re between a rock and a hard place. You’ve racked up countless parole violations over the last several months, any one of which could result in revocation and return to jail. The only reason P&P hasn’t swooped in to pick you up is because they believe – in part because we’ve told them – that once this whole Future of Wrestling Survivor nonsense blew over, things would calm down…”
Dickie takes a breath.
“…and you’d enter the program.”
“The program?” Nova’s eyes narrow.
“MESSIAH’s treatment program,” Benj says bluntly.
Nova sits up straight. “You motherfuckers told P&P I would do the fucking MESSIAH program?”
“You didn’t leave us with a lot of options, Hunter S. Thompson!” Benj yells back.
“We wanted to keep you out of jail,” Dickie offers.
“I won’t do it,” Nova shakes his head, “I won’t fucking do it. I know what goes on there, I know what those people become, and I won’t fucking do it.”
Dickie kneels down in front of him, looking him in the eye. “We’re out of options, Nova. MESSIAH is the way forward for you.”
Nova’s mouth hangs open as he watches the color drain like a water tank from Dickie’s face. Large purple bags expand under Dickie’s eyes and then grow upwards into black circles emanating outward around the tiny red coals that his eyes have become.
“NOVA?” Dickie says, his voice a deep, reverberating tone, his mouth dark and cavernous, “NOVA, ARE YOU OKAY?”
Nova tumbles backwards out of his chair as he attempts to move away.
“This can’t be happening,” he whispers.
When he looks up, Dickie’s face is normal and concerned. Benj leans over him and they both grab his hands, pulling him up.
“If by ‘this,’ you mean a meeting with your probation officer,” Benj starts, “literally right now, then yes, this very much can be happening.”
Nova doesn’t have time to react before Benj and Dickie step away and move towards the door of the locker room. Dickie turns back.
“This is your chance, Nova. It’s not too late to get back on track.”
They both exit out the door, but before it can swing shut, a hand catches it and Probation Officer Gardner steps into the room, a smug grin spread across his face.
“Time to report in, Vega,” he says, shutting the door behind him, “don’t suppose it’d really do much to ask you for a UA at this point.”
Nova takes a step backward before his eyes catch on the black bracelet that ensconces his left ankle.
The red light is blinking again.
“Yeah, your unit’s back on,” P.O. Gardner says, “really wasn’t hard to overlook for a while, or sell to the higher-ups. Y’know, ‘let him wild out for a bit, see how bad it all gets’…after all, it only further emphasizes the need…”
His lips curl up past where human lips are intended to stop, baring long, sharp, slender teeth in rows.
“No,” Nova says, looking around the room as tiny smoldering burn marks begin to dot and expand on the concrete walls of the locker room, “I won’t do it.”
“It’s not a request,” P.O. Gardner replies, taking a step towards him, “you don’t have options.”
Nova watches as P.O. Gardner reaches down to his side for a pair of handcuffs.
“Show me your hands, Vega,” he says, “and let’s take the first step of transformation together.”
He extends the cuffs.
“Show me your ha-erk…”
Nova’s right hand wraps around P.O. Gardner’s throat and with his left he grabs hold of Gardner’s waist belt and hoists him over his shoulders, slamming him down back-first through the folding chair where Nova had been seated and onto the concrete floor.
Gardner lays in a crumpled, unmoving heap. Nova takes a step back from him, running a hand over his scalp. Suddenly the radio clipped to Gardner’s belt starts squawking.
“Gardner, what’s the status? Are you with Vega? Are you bringing him in?”
“Shit!” Nova exclaims, “SHIT!”
He looks around quickly for a moment, then rushes over to Gardner, scooping up the handcuffs next to him and clipping Gardner’s wrist to the leg of a nearby bench. Then he turns and runs out of the room.
Sprinting down the hallway, Nova dodges and weaves between staffers and personnel, their faces a blur, the general din of their pay-per-view preparations drowned out by a primal drumbeat growing steadily louder inside Nova’s head.
Doors fly past on the left and right and Nova hears someone shouting his name in the distance behind him. Immediately he picks a door on his right and bursts through it into a small quiet room. He doubles over, hands resting on his knees, then leans back against the wall and slides down to the floor, catching his breath.
Nova opens his eyes and they are eventually able to focus on Brandon Youngblood, seated in a steel folding chair, still clad in his wrestling gear and soaked in sweat from his Universal Title defense earlier in the night. The belt is slung over his shoulder.
“Hey, Brandon,” Nova manages.
“You alright, man?” Youngblood asks, arching an eyebrow.
“Yeah,” Nova says, still breathless, “yeah, man. Just…catching my breath.”
Youngblood shrugs. “You sure you’re okay?” A pregnant pause. A need to pull off a large bandaid. “So…never got a chance to talk since PRIME reopened its door. Been meaning to. I just wanted to say…I’m sorry. Sorry about a lot between us. That what happened at Turmoil…your neck…”
Nova closes his eyes and leans his head back against the wall. The drumbeat is growing louder again in his head.
“Don’t worry about it, man,” he says.
“I do worry. About what I took from you. The time you’ll never get back with…” Youngblood continues, “that was your night. I knew it. We all did in that ring. And I couldn’t handle it. I was jealous of you…jealous of Deville…jealous and not knowing if I was truly good enough…”
The drumbeat grows louder still, and Nova shuts his eyes tighter. “Brandon, now really isn’t the best…”
“It haunts me. I know there’s gonna come a time where it all comes due. Just want you to know…I don’t blame you when the time comes…”
Nova’s eyes dart open and widen as he watches blood pool around the four corners of the locker room ceiling, dripping through at points to begin running down the walls.
“Fuck, no, no, no,” he whispers, pulling himself to his feet.
The erratic shifts in his once-rival’s manner brings Brandon to his feet, cautiously walking towards him. “You’re…you’re scaring me, dude. You sure you-”
The saturated ceiling begins to sag under the weight and Nova turns and darts back out of the door. He continues sprinting, darting looks back towards the door to Youngblood’s locker room. He slows to a walk for a brief moment, his mouth agape in horror as he watches the door tremble, buckle…
…and then blow open as a cascade of blood floods the hallway, rushing towards him in a tidal wave.
He begins running again, his eyes catching the glowing red of an EXIT sign, and he leaps into and through a set of double doors as he feels the wall of blood rush by.
The doors slam shut behind him and he can tell by the hollow echo of the sound that he is in a parking garage. As his eyes refocus, he begins jogging between rows of vehicles, the padded soles of his feet the only sounds in the lot until he hears the creak of a door opening.
Thunderous laughter that reverberates throughout the garage brings Nova to a quick halt. He turns, looking back at the now-open doors that provide the only light shining out into the dark. A man stands silhouetted against the light and Nova can’t make out who it is, but he doesn’t need to.
Bruce “Violence Jack” Shanahan.
“What did I tell you not two hours ago, Nova?” Shanahan speaks into the darkness, “I told you this would end, and when it did, we would be here waiting for you.”
Shanahan spreads his arms. “Well…it has ended. And here we are.”
Nova takes two long, deep breaths, and lights a cigarette. Around the light that surrounds Shanahan, he is able to see shadowy figures fanning out around both sides of the vehicles that line his left and right. He watches as another crawls on all fours across the ceiling of the garage towards him, emanating low hissing sounds.
“Nova,” Shanahan continues, “you are lost in a sea of banality and futility. Accept the liferaft that is MESSIAH…or drown.”
“My answer is the same,” Nova replies before pointing around at the shadowy figures that encircle him, “and if y’all got something you need to do…DO IT.”
He takes a deep drag of his cigarette before flicking it up at the shadow lurking on the ceiling above him. Ashes spark off the shadow and it shrieks before scurrying away.
The shadowy figures converge on Nova’s position, lingering just around the edges of the vehicles. Nova centers himself and holds up his fists.
“Well, come on, motherfuckers! COME ON!!!!”
Detecting movement to his right he turns and parries a shadow’s lunge, grabbing the figure and slinging them around the grill of a nearby sedan, smashing out one of the headlights. He instinctively swings an elbow in the opposite direction and it lands on another figure with a wet THUNK! A third figure lands on his back and he slings them overhead and down onto the concrete as he drops to a knee, but before he can climb back to his feet, he’s bowled over by a fourth, then a fifth, then a sixth…
…and a boot smashes his head against the floor as he feels hands yank his arms around behind him to be cuffed.
Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners
Las Vegas, Nevada
Friday, July 22, 2022
“Well, are the parties ready to proceed with the hearing?”
“We are, Mr. Chairperson” Attorney Wright affirms, and the others nod.
“Alright,” the chairperson says before gesturing around him to the assembled documentation, “I mean, Ms. Wright, the State has filed…frankly, more violations here than I can recall having seen in my twenty-plus years on the board. Are we really going forward with a contested hearing?”
“I don’t think so,” Attorney Wright replies. “I’ve spoken with my client and he has indicated to me that it is his intent to admit to one or more of the violations and accept revocation of his parole and imposition of the remainder of his underlying sentence.”
The board members look around at each other.
“Um, okay, I understood there was an offer on the table from the State where if Mr. Vega agreed to enter into a treatment program to be proposed by Probation and Parole, the State would agree to continue him on his existing parole conditions,” the chairperson says.
“That’s correct,” DA Kazarian chimes in.
“And I’ve spoken to my client about that option,” Attorney Wright confirms, “and he has declined it. He will accept revocation.”
The chairperson turns to Nova’s screen. “Is that what you want to do, Mr. Vega?”
“Yes, it is,” Nova confirms.
“Well,” the chairperson says with a shrug, looking at the other members, “if that is how you wish to proceed, it is your right to accept revocation and serve the remainder of your-”
The Queen of the Ring has joined the meeting.
The board members and video participants look around at one another quizzically.
“I’m sorry,” the chairperson says, “could ‘The Queen of the Ring’ please identify yourself and state your reason for participating in this hearing?”
Silence. Video remains off.
“Excuse me,” the chairperson repeats, “could ‘The Queen of the Ring’ please identify yourself and state your-”
The doors to the back of the conference room push open and Lindsay Troy storms in, flanked by nervous parole officers.
“I’m sorry, chairman,” one of them stammers, “we tried to explain…”
“My name is Lindsay Troy, I’m the president and CEO of PRIME Wrestling, and I’m his boss,” she says, pointing at Nova on the screen. “And you can’t let him make this decision.”
“Lindz,” Nova says, “this isn’t your call to make. This is my dec-”
“Mute him,” Troy barks at the IT guy, who quickly nods and mutes Nova’s video screen.
Nova keeps talking and begins gesticulating, to no effect.
“Ms. Troy, I don’t know how familiar you are with parole board proceedings,” the chairperson says with a polite smile, “but a parolee retains the fundamental right to agree to an outcome in his violation proceeding.”
“You can’t let him make this decision because he isn’t legally competent to make it,” Troy explains, “and I have a video exhibit I’d like his attorney to admit into evidence to support that contention.”
“Ummm, Ms. Wright?” the chairperson asks, scratching his head.
“Er, um, sure, yes, we’ll move to admit the video,” Attorney Wright says, flustered.
“Great,” Troy says before typing into her phone.
The Queen of the Ring has started screen-sharing.
Across the screen flashes a montage of Nova and Garbage Bag Johnny’s journey through Survivor. Two old men in silver jumpsuits and AR visors wander down the 28th floor of the MGM Grand Hotel. The Anglo Luchador interviewing Future Nova and Future GBJ. Future Nova striking Grady Patrick with a colostomy bag ringside during a 5-Star Title Match. Nova and GBJ in their homemade coffins in the desert as Future GBJ points a handgun at Nova. GBJ tossing the limp body of Future GBJ onto a horrified Hayes Hanlon. Nova and Future Nova dragging Actual GBJ’s body across the finish line during the blindfold maze challenge. A smoldering wreck in the Nevada desert.
The Queen of the Ring has ended screen-sharing.
“So, to recap,” Troy explains, “Mr. Vega and his partner genuinely believed that versions of themselves had returned from more than fifty years in the future, utilizing profound new technologies, in order to assist them in some way with their goal of winning PRIME’s Survivor Tournament. This belief, brought on by what I can assume was a prolonged psychosis, is what generated the overwhelming majority of alleged parole violations before the board now, and as well resulted in widespread chaos and dysfunction within a multi-million-dollar wrestling company.”
She pauses for effect. The board is speechless.
“So I believe Mr. Vega’s attorney will be asking the board to order a competency eval,” Troy ends.
“Ummm,” the chairperson says, “Ms. Wright?”
“Uh, um,” Attorney Wright starts, “um, yes, Mr. Chairperson, that is our request.”
The chairperson turns to the prosecutor. “Mr. Kazarian, do you wish to be heard on this request?”
“I honestly wouldn’t know what to say, so no,” he replies.
“Alright, well, based on the evidence presented to the board, the board will order a competency evaluation of Mr. Vega,” the chairperson concludes, “but there is still the issue of whether or not he is to be released pending the results of that evaluation…Ms. Wright?”
Before Nova’s attorney can speak, Troy raises her hand.
“Are you volunteering to take custody of Mr. Vega, Ms. Troy?” the chairperson asks.
Troy laughs. “No, my days of babysitting that man-child are over. But I have someone else who is.”
She points to the back of the room, where PRIME’s Co-Head of Security Wade Elliott waves to the board. “How y’all doin’?”
On-screen, a muted Nova throws his hands up in the air.