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Jogger's Trail the Story (Part 5)

The First Peril: Wrath

By Donna Fox (HKB)Published 8 months ago Updated 8 months ago 13 min read
16
Jogger's Trail the Story (Part 5)
Photo by Giorgio Parravicini on Unsplash

This is part 5 of the Jogger's Trail Series, for previous installments:

Jogger's Trail, Jogger's Trail the Story, Jogger's Trail (Part 2), Jogger's Trail (Part 3), Jogger's Trail (Part 4)

Passing through the veil I am blanketed in sweat, like that from the heat of the sun. My skin sears in the blazing sensation as I step through to the other side, into the realm of Wrath.

I feel my feet begin to shuffle through a sand-covered landscape as the horizon around us changes, there is nothing but sand for miles around. The heat intensifies as the sun beats down on us and we continue to walk onward.

“Have you been here before?” I inquired, huffing as I continue to slog through the ankle-high sand.

“No.” Madra’s voice replies distantly.

I suddenly realize she isn’t at my side anymore, in fact, I can’t locate where her voice came from as I spun around. Seeing where her tracks end and mine continue, alone.

“Where are you?” I call into the deserted desert.

“I am with you in spirit. Only you can hear me from inside your mind, this realm is for you to experience and me to help you overcome.” She explains with an ethereal echo in her voice.

Nodding in understanding, I suddenly become aware that I am walking again and that my body is changing. Not only is my physical form shifting but I am aware that my thoughts are not entirely my own as a man's voice begins to speak in my mind, enlightening me to the inner monologue of another person. Or perhaps the person whose body I have now taken the shape of.

“What’s happening to me?” I ask in an unfamiliar male’s voice.

“When we enter another realm you will take on a new life,” Madra explains with a nervous tremble.

A panic attempted to break out in my mind at the thought of being in someone else’s body but is soon washed away by the man I inhabited’s thoughts.

I observe as he continues to carry us onward toward a village that appeared on the close horizon. He pulls a camel along by its reins as we set foot in the sand-covered village. Immediately another man approaches us, sweaty and breathless as he came into view.

“Since you’re departure, we have lost half of our herd.” He explains, nervous at the admittance. Sweat dripping down his temple in what I interpret to be nervousness, not to be attributed to the hot sun.

A heat rose in my chest, making the beating of the sun almost feel cool in comparison. “This is an outrage, find me the man responsible and bring him to me,” I demand in the man’s voice again.

I have said this before the thought even occurred to me, suddenly pushing me to the realization that I wasn’t in control. I am simply along for the ride at this moment, which would have sent a chill down my spine if this were my body to command.

“We’re on it sir, but there’s another problem. We’ve noticed odds and ends going missing throughout the temple and have discovered a thief. The traitor has been apprehended and is awaiting your judgment.” The man explains as we continue to walk along.

More heat begins to rise in my chest and I feel an uncontrollable rage growing within the man’s body.

“Bring me to him, I must lay eyes on the little whelk that dares disrespect the family of Abadi,” I reply with the man's voice, still being brought along for the ride.

We follow him through the village to the temple, all the while the man I inhabit continuing to grow in seething rage. We pass families and young children on the street begging for money, the man swats them away and threatens violence upon their approach. Finally, through the village, we hand the reins of our camel off to a servant and continue into the shade of the temple. The stone building repells the heat of the sun but an angry fire still burns within the man I inhabit.

I feel it consuming me as though I am being fused to this man’s soul and my thoughts and feelings are starting to fade away.

“Remember who you are Tesha, none of this is real.” Madra's voice spoke in our head and startles me back to reality.

It took me a moment to absorb what she meant by that, reminding myself that this isn’t my life and this isn’t my body. All this is an illusion designed to test me but I had no idea how to overcome the obstacle of not being in another person’s body.

While these thoughts continue to stir in my mind, we are led to a small room at the back of the temple, just beyond the kitchen. It’s no bigger than a closet but upon entry, the smell was what hits me first. The room reeks of urine, blood and sweat. Then I lay my eyes on the culprit, a young boy with large brown eyes who appears no older than eight.

“This is the little leach?” I ask in the man’s voice, without my say again.

“You need to get control of him Tesha, this is your test.” Madra chimes in again.

“But how?” I wonder, hoping for more guidance as I helplessly observe the terrified boy before us.

“You need to concentrate, think about the outcome you want for this situation and make it happen,” Madra replies.

“We caught him stealing bread three days ago and since then he has admitted to stealing more than just food.” The guard explains, glaring down at the trembling boy.

I feel heat rising to the man’s throat and I know that I need to douse this fire if I want to overpower him.

“Please sir, my-“

“Silence!” The guard roars and lashes his whip out at the boy.

Catching him on the shoulder a fresh cut appears, oozing bright red blood down his arm as he huddles in a defensive position in the corner of the room.

It’s that image that creates a different kind of heat in me, the source of this is my determination. There’s a battle of wills that breaks out within our shared mind as the guard asks what we would like to do with the boy. The man I inhabit would like to execute the boy but I cut him off before he can speak.

“Come on Tesha, you can do this!” Madra urges me from the sidelines of the cage match in our minds.

“How long has the boy been kept here?” I ask, for the first time of my own accord but still in the man’s voice.

“Three days, we’ve deprived him of food and water as per usual.” The guard expresses proudly.

My chest aches thinking about how much terror the boy must be feeling in this moment.

The man in my mind is attempting to claw his way back into control, proclaiming the boy is on his way out anyways and all we need to do is finish him.

Swallowing hard and urging myself to stay in control, I crouch down beside the boy. Hardly able to balance with my large belly resting on my knees, “What is your name boy?” I ask in as sympathetic of a voice as this man’s rough tongue will allow.

“Desdemona, sir.” The boy replies in a small voice, one of his eyes peaking out from behind his hands that covered his face.

“Why have you been stealing from me, Desdemona?” I ask, still battling to stay in control.

The man in my mind continues to rant and lose his mind over how it doesn’t matter why he has stolen only that he be punished and set an example of.

“My family is starving.” He began, pulling his hands from his face and looking to the ground in shame. “My mother just had a baby and my father has died, I am unable to find work and there is no one to provide for us.” He finishes in defeat, his head hanging as he mumbled the last bit.

The man in my mind, almost bursts through and regains control at the confession from the boy. He demands we kill the boy and his family too, to spare them the misery of the slow death of starvation.

But I feel remorse for the boy and want to do something to help him, only I am unsure of what can be done here.

“That is no excuse for stealing from a Nobel family.” The guard bellows and pulls his arm back in preparation for another lash.

I block the guard's lash, “He’s been punished enough.” I mutter, still battling to stay in control and find a solution to this.

“Ask the boy what his skills are.” Madra's voice chimes in.

“What skills do you have?” I ask without hesitation, although I can feel myself starting to wane on the control front.

“I used to help my father tend to the camels of a rich man in the area. His name was Azul, I helped clean the stables and feed the animals. Even prepare them for trips at the man’s request.” Desdemona explains, his large brown eyes watching me in apprehension.

At this revelation, the fire inside the man begins to subside, with the mention of Azul. He seems to recognize the name and realizes that he may know the boy, the man he describes as his father was one of his favourite servants at his father’s temple only a few villages away.

While the man in my mind continues to muddle the idea, I use this opportunity to stay in control and determine the boy's fate. “Then that is what you shall do, you will earn a wage and will be able to provide for your family by tending to the camels here. When your mother is ready we shall employ her as well.” I proclaim, rising to my feet and turning to find the man who escorted us here standing at the door in shock.

“But sir, what about the boy’s punishment?” He asks, his jaw dropped in astonishment.

“He has been starved for three days and beaten, let that be enough of a lesson for a starving boy who only wants to provide for his family,” I say with a dismissive wave, taking a step toward the door.

“But sir-“

“The boy will learn hard work and will provide for his family in an honest way. I knew his father and he will be a good worker just as he was.” The man’s voice states, catching me off guard as he took back control of his body.

We then reach for the door and pass through, back into the Hall of Perils.

“You did it!!” Mendel shouts, jumping up and down as I took on my real form again and find Madra at my side.

“Of course they did, she is The Chosen One,” Nakos replies but his voice sounds just as relieved as Mendel’s.

Giving myself a shake I turn back to the doorway and watch as the rose-red hue turns grey like the one in the centre of the hall. An image of Desdemona appears in the middle, ghost-like as the image of my soul is in the entryway. He smiles at me and I return it, my heart pounding from the exhilaration of what we had just accomplished.

“We did it,” Madra mutters, looking upon the doorway with pride as she scooped me into a sideways hug.

“We did,” I agree with a grateful sigh.

Suddenly energized to do it all over again, I begin circling the room in search of the next peril I would like to encounter. Wanting to keep the momentum going before the adrenaline wears off.

My feet stop before a doorway with a sky-blue veil in the middle, the voices behind it are less noticeable than the previous. There isn’t as much obvious emotion on the surface of this one, which has me intrigued but I still wonder about the source of the voices as I ask, “What does this one say?” As I point to the text above.

“This can be hard to swallow for those that appear shallow. But once in check you no longer fear for your neck.” Nakos reads, a sour expression on his lips.

“I’d have to guess ego or pride is behind this veil,” I reply a little absentmindedly as I still wonder what happens to those who fail the perils. My gaze appraising the stone doorway as though it holds the answer.

“What do you think?” Nakos counters, appraising the door alongside me.

“I think they are one and the same and this will be a hard peril to overcome.” I admit, “What happens to those that fail?” I ask, letting the worry become a reality for a moment.

“They are trapped within that realm,” Mendel replies. Smiling obliviously, happy just to be of some help.

“Forever?” I inquire, pinching my brows together in worry.

“Yep.” Replies Alaric, stretching as though stiff from standing around so long.

“You don’t think they could be freed if we complete all the perils?” I ask, looking at Nakos for an answer now.

Suddenly everyone pauses and all eyes are turned to Nakos, who stands with a thoughtful furrow on his brow.

“Honestly, I’ve never thought about it.” He admits, then turned to see us watching him. “We’ll have to wait and see I guess.” He adds with a hopeful smile.

“We’re getting ahead of ourselves anyways,” Madra adds, “We should only worry about one peril at a time.”

“Agreed.” Alaric and Mendel speak together.

“Okay. Well, who wants to take on pride with me?” I offer, looking at each of them hopefully but all avoid my gaze.

“Fine,” I walk over to Mendel and hold my hand out silently asking for his.

He places it in mine and we begin jumping through flashes of memories and brief moments but nothing settles like it did with Madra for wrath. After a moment, I pull away and move on to Alaric.

Offering my hand out as he ignores my presence, “Hand please.” I request in a firm but gentle tone.

“You just assume it’s me because you don’t like me.” He mutters, still withholding his hand from mine.

“No, I don’t. I checked Mendel first and now I’d like to look at you.” I explain, holding my hand out closer to him, almost in demand.

“It’s me,” Nakos interjects before Alaric can reply.

We all pause and turn to him again, this time in surprise.

“When I was young, even younger than Mendel. I was rising higher into the ranks hoping to become an archangel but was instead sent to be part of the guardian angels. Many thought that was a more noble cause than fighting the forces of evil, but I thought it was a job well beneath our kind.” He explains humbly, his lips pinched together in an ashamed pout.

“But you’ve always taught me that being a guardian angel was an amazing responsibility. You’ve said that without humans angels would have no purpose and would disintegrate into nothing.” Mendel replies, his eyes brimming with tears and disbelief.

“As I said, I was very young at the time. Too full of pride to see the gift I was given.” Nakos admitts, looking at his young friend in sorrow.

“Then I do believe you are the one to help me.” I agree, giving him a weak smile as the pair of us walked through the doorway and allowed the veil to pass over us as we entered into the realm of Pride.

Part Six:

Magical RealismFictionFantasyCliffhangerAdventure
16

About the Creator

Donna Fox (HKB)

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  1. Compelling and original writing

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Comments (14)

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  • Dana Crandell7 months ago

    I'm really enjoying the imagery and the tension in these. I'd definitely watch a series. Just sayin'.

  • Very well done and I loved how creative you were with what the perils would be. It was a like a story inside a story with all new characters but the old ones still along for the ride. This definitely seems like it would be a challenging story to write but you keep impressing me with each part. Can't wait to get to part 6 and wow you put these out so quick all perfectly proofread which is my weakness. I've been proofing my next story for two weeks now lol.

  • Rob Angeli7 months ago

    Nice poetic opening and atmosphere of the searing desert. This one takes such a moving twist, and extremely fitting representation of Wrath and conquering it through self control and empathy.

  • Thavien Yliaster7 months ago

    Okay, I gotta say that You constantly kept me guessing with this one. You're definitely putting some heart and soul into this series, Donna. At first, when You had the setting firm in place I instantly thought about "The Richest Man in Babylon." I liked how You were capable of showing that Tesha had to struggle for control. When it comes to Madra being inside of Tesha's head I would've loved it so much to have seen Madra also inside of the head of the Mr. Abadi. Cause right now we're working with Mr. Abadi^ Tesha^ Madra (think of this as exponents, to the power of). Since Madra has to deal with wrath from her own wrath, I would've liked to have seen her deal with not causing any harm befalling Mr. Abadi or the guards that struck Desdemona. Since Madra is known to be more motherly, seeing her trying to not fly into a rage and do something, like excite a herd of camels from stampeding into the temple crushing everybody except Desdemona, or that she has to stop something from falling atop his head, or we see a lady seeing Desdemona getting whipped and as she would go to poison Mr. Abadi's drink for revenge Madra has to stop this from happening like spilling the drink in the sand since two wrongs don't make a right. When it comes to Tesha, I like the fact that she took control. What really would've had me on the tips of my toes would've been if she had to subtly change the thoughts of Mr. Abadi with some suggestions (like what Ares did in the Wonder Woman movie, he would just whisper words in their ears providing suggestions but never truly guiding them). Instead of driving a car, it would be more like riding a horse, being that a horse still has its own free will. Hence, Tesha has to persuade and coax instead of outright have full control. Cause if Tesha has control does she get fatigued from taking control? Is there a time limit on the amount of control that she has? Is her control limited to words or also actions (imagine saying "I won't hurt You," only to have somebody continue to physically torture You)? What kind of rules does Tesha's control or influence follow? It's almost as if it's all about willpower. Even if the scene "isn't real" the emotions that are created are real. I was shocked that the kid survived for three days without water. Especially after being whipped. I thought Desdemona would've perished from dehydration already. Though I am glad that he and his family were provided for, and that they were given a chance to retain their dignity again. I remember that my mother told me that there's a phrase in the Bible that goes somewhat along the lines of, "It's not a sin to steal, only if You steal what You need for You and Your family, but so long as You do not get caught. For once You are found, You must repay the debts if possible." I haven't read the Quran, but I wonder if they have something similar. "Steal what You need, and only just." I like how You closed the door on wrath, but being that it is wrath, I was expecting more of a series of battles though and that Tesha would be in the center mediating everything; trying to stop Mr. Abadi from harming/torturing Desdemona any further and any more unfairly, trying to stop Madra from harming Desdemona, and maybe even trying to stop Desdemona or someone who cares for him (like his mother, or his newborn sibling a few years later) from enacting revenge (or Azul, cause Azul did employ Desdemona's father and may have been searching for Desdemona only to find him being harmed at Mr. Abadi's hands, then two rich people may have had a small battle with their servants etc. etc.). Oh! And I knew that Nakos was gonna be the sin of pride! Being of old age he must think better especially in his older years, and he might even still have some grudges from his younger years. The career thing makes total sense. Nakos was like, "I wanted to be in the army, but instead I got sent to the reserves." So, he had to eat some humble pie with a grain of salt. Also, I do wonder that when Tesha held Mendel's hands if she was only looking for something related to pride, or if she saw everything? Like, would she have a flashback and have to go back to Mendel again for a different sin like envy, gluttony, lust, greed, or sloth. Tesha: "Alright Mendel, You're coming with me through this gate." Mendel: "What? Why me?" Tesha: "We both know what I saw. Don't deny it. If You want it to stay private to only us, just come along or ese I'll blurt it out." Mendel: "Ugh, You drive a hard bargain, lady." I hope I got everything out of my head now for this installment of the series. If not, I shall return.

  • Mohammed Darasi7 months ago

    That was a great chapter, and I like how you went about with the peril. The fight between the two personalities was really interesting, and what you added towards the end about them being stuck in the realms gave a more concrete notive and real stakes for the main character to complete the perils... Really well done 👍🏽😊

  • ThatWriterWoman8 months ago

    This is honestly so brilliant Donna! The way you wrote the first peril was masterful! I really enjoy the idea of changing into another person and fighting their own version of wrath! Inspired! I find myself becoming very attached to the characters, they are written very well! Thank you for this series Donna! Can't wait for more!

  • Lamar Wiggins8 months ago

    Wow! This quickly drew me in, and then it amazed me. I love the story line; it has an intricate plot. It can go in many directions but the direction you chose is very satisfying. The following scene was pretty damn awesome. "Nodding in understanding, I suddenly become aware that I am walking again and that my body is changing. Not only is my physical form shifting but I am aware that my thoughts are not entirely my own as a man's voice begins to speak in my mind, enlightening me to the inner monologue of another person. Or perhaps the person whose body I have now taken the shape of." This transformation worked really well for me. I could feel it happening to myself as I read it. Very well done, Donna! 👏👏👏🤩

  • Novel Allen8 months ago

    This has come along so very nicely Donna. Kudos on building such a well presented plot.

  • Alexander McEvoy8 months ago

    That was really good! I’m just loving how you develop this idea and the little sprinklings of lore that you give us throughout! Your description of the man’s wrath and the boy’s absolute terror was beautiful! It really carried me into the story and I was almost sad to see the realm of wrath go. I can’t wait for the realm of Pride!

  • Tina D'Angelo8 months ago

    Really good. You could feel the boy's fear and the struggle of the fight within the man's body. I want to read more!

  • J. S. Wade8 months ago

    Awesome 👏 Epic tale. This story is going somewhere! The battle for control of rage was spectacular Donna. 🥰

  • ema8 months ago

    Hi Donna, I like the choice to put Tesha in another body! Her decisions are even more difficult because she has to fight with another soul, but at the same time people aren't affected by her persona because they don't see her. I like how you are developing the story!

  • My heart broke for Desdemona. No dont get me wrong, I strongly dislike kids and babies, lol. But kids and babies are not at fault. Their parents decide to "have fun" without protection and bring them into this world. It's just so stupid. I might seem arrogant if I say this but those who don't have money and cannot provide basic needs like food for the family should never have children. Because anything can happen anytime. Look at Desdemona's father. He died. And the mother had a newborn. So irresponsible if you ask me. I'm sorry Donna, I know this is just a story but things like this boils my blood. Just because they can have kids, doesn't mean they should. Sorry about my rant above. I'm so glad Tesha managed to gain control over the man. I loved how Madra was helping her telepathically all the way. I feel so sad for Nakos. He seems to deeply regret how prideful he was. Can't wait to see what's coming up next! I loved this part so much!

  • Mark Gagnon8 months ago

    You handled rage beautifully! I love how this is going. One editorial note, check your tenses. I may have misread some but I think you mixed a few. Also, in the first couple of sentences you used the same word twice. Great story!

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