Chris Benoit woke up alone, covered in sweat, staring at the white plaster ceiling of his Charlotte, North Carolina hotel room. He blinked twice. He did not know what time it was, but he knew it was early.

Light had just begun to sneak through the off-white polyester curtains. He had been dreaming, not really dreams, nightmares. They came hard and fast, one after another. As soon as he managed to toss his way out of one, he was dragged into the next. They were fever dreams, vivid and hot. The sheets were soaked, the gaudy floral print comforter lying in a pile at the foot of the queen sized bed. Chris Benoit’s dreams were all about wrestling, in some way another. He rarely dreamt of anything else. He lay there for a few moments on his back, looking up at the ceiling. He thought about his last dream, the one about Eddie.

The two of them were riding in a big blue conversion van, driving through deserted, dusty roads somewhere in the American southwest. They stopped at these really out of the way places, rundown desert towns and gas stations in the middle of nowhere. Each place they stopped they found a wrestling ring baking in the hot desert sun. They got out of the van and wrestled one another in the ring. There was never anyone in the stands, no cheering children, no beer-swilling adults. It was just the two of them, Chris and Eddie; just the two of them and the dust and the sun and the ring. They kept driving, thousands of miles in circles, wrestling each other over and over.

They wanted to stop but they couldn’t, they were trapped, like action figures in the hands of a small boy. They kept driving and they kept wrestling, they never slept, they never ate, they never saw anyone else. They wrestled until bags formed under their eyes, till their hair grew long and greasy. There were tears in their eyes and they cried and they wrestled and they cried some more because they knew that they would never be able to stop.

Chris Benoit sat up in bed, the air cooling the sweat on his skin. He reached his hands to his face, rubbing his eyes awake. There was no point in staying in bed, he would toss and turn for another hour, sleep for a minute here, a minute there before being startled awake, sweating, in the middle of another nightmare.

It was three years after Wrestlemania XX and Chris Benoit was a broken man. Eddie Guerrero was dead. And 24 hours later Chris Benoit would return to his suburban Atlanta home and kill his wife, then his seven year old son, and then himself.