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Jogger's Trail the Story (Part 6)

The Second Peril: Pride

By Donna Fox (HKB)Published 8 months ago Updated 7 months ago 10 min read
Jogger's Trail the Story (Part 6)
Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

This is Part 6 for previous installments click the links below:

Jogger's Trail - Jogger's Trail the Story - Jogger's Trail the Story (Part 2) - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5.

Unlike the last door, this one brings on a cold constrictive sensation, stifling the breath within my lungs.

Looking down I see my body changing like it had before, suddenly dressed in a red dress shirt and men’s black slacks.

“Nakos?” I call, seeing he is no longer at my side.

“I am here.” He replies from inside my head.

“Just checking,” I admit, watching as the world around me continues to transform. I now find myself sitting in a small office space across the desk from an older man, dressed in similar attire.

“There’s been complaints from staff about your attitude, my son.” The older man explains, still looking at his computer. Then turning his disappointed gaze upon the young man I inhabit.

I can feel the young man’s gut grinding on itself in anger as he fights with himself to sit quietly and listen to his father.

“I need you to be a team player and show them you are capable of listening to them. Only then will they be able to respect you as their leader one day.” His father adds with an air of worry.

But this statement falls on deaf ears as the boy finally has an outburst that I am unable to hold back. “That’s not fair, I should be learning to do what you do not taking out the trash and cleaning the floors. I’m so much more important than this.” He proclaims in a whiney voice that makes it hard for even me to take him seriously.

“You are important but it’s also important to show the employees that you’ll lend a hand when times get tough. You want them to trust and be able to rely on you so that you can lead them in the restaurant one day.” His father explains, watching his son with growing impatience.

“You need to get control of the kid, he’s about to say something you’ll both regret.” Nakos chimes in, a hint of worry in his voice.

Before can I even attempt to gain control the boy's mouth gets the best of us, “I’m not doing it, this is not what I was agreeing to when I said I would come help you at the restaurant.” He snaps, getting to his feet in anger.

I continue to battle with the boy before he says more things we’ll regret. Admittedly it’s easier to take control of the boy than it was the man in the realm of Wrath, I just need to find the right foothold.

“Then you can go home because I don’t need to be worrying about your attitude here, I need a team player.” His father bellows, getting to his feet with a look of utter disappointment.

“Father, I’m sorry,” I say in the young man’s voice but of my own accord.

His father looks up in a mixture of confusion and disbelief but remains silent as I force the young man’s body back into the seat. Bearing a sombre expression of remorse.

“I guess I just thought this would be different, I was letting my pride get the best of me. I was busy thinking about myself and not the restaurant.” I explain quickly, trying to repair the damage the boy had done. “I’m sorry for the way I acted and that I’ve embarrassed you. If you can forgive me, I would like to try again and show you I can do better.” I add, looking to the ground in shame. I hope his father is the merciful sort of man I need him to be, in this moment.

After a pause, his father sighs, “I understand, my son. This is not an easy thing to ask of you but it is something I believe necessary to understanding our business.” He begins, “You can start by taking out the garbage and then report to Miles in the back, for more jobs you can help with.”

Immediately the young man grows hot with rage and it took more effort than expected to withhold him from having another outburst. As it turns out, Miles is not only the dishwasher and lowest man on the totem pole here, he was only hired a few weeks ago. So a brand new staff with hardly any experience is now our boss for the day.

Swiftly as I stifle the temper tantrum that the young man I inhabit attempts to throw, I mumble a very humbling “Thank you.” With a rushed exit before chancing that any more unwanted behaviours pop up.

“That was a nice recovery, Tesha.” Nakos praises me in a cheerful voice, “but now the real work begins.” He warns as we walk to the back of the restaurant and find the aforementioned trash bags. All eight of them.

Immediately I begin putting this young man’s muscles to work, as we take two bags at a time and throw them into the dumpster. After tossing the last of the bags in, I notice a wetness on my stomach and look down to see a large stain on the young man’s shirt.

Without warning he begins stomping his feet and yelling profanities about how this is beneath him.

Giving myself a shake I regain control and talk the young man down, explaining we can go clean it off in the bathroom and cover it with an apron or something. Once he allows me to take control again, we head back in and clean what we can of the shirt before going back into the kitchen to find Miles.

After asking around we find Miles scraping dishes and rinsing them before he starts to wash them. As we get closer it becomes more apparent that Miles has a very visible disability, which triggers my young friend inside my head, again. Making me work hard to keep him in check as I speak with Miles about what he might like some help with today.

Under his instruction, we begin to mop the floor, gather more dirty dishes, clean the bathrooms, wash windows and do several unimaginably gross jobs around the restaurant. After a while, the young man I inhabit begins to relax as we get a sort of dialogue going with Miles and his companionship starts to grow on us.

It’s with a smidgen of regret that we say goodbye to Miles when his shift ends and we have to report back to the young man’s father for more jobs.

Upon entering his office, the young man’s father’s jaw goes slack at seeing the state we are in. But then his eyes shift and a smile tucks itself in the corner of his lips as he looks at us with pride.

The young man’s chest begins to swell with pride as he smiles back at his father. He’d never known what it meant to make his father genuinely proud before this moment.

“How was your day, son?” He asks in an apprehensive voice, as though worried he might regret the inquiry.

“It was hard but I think I understand what you’ve been trying to teach me,” I admit with the young man’s voice. “And I have to say, Miles…” I pause as the young man takes back over. “Is something else. His work ethic and sense of humour, even in a nasty situation were exactly what I needed to see and learn from today. Thank you.” He adds, smiling at his father as his chest begins to swell with even more pride.

“I’m proud of you son.” He states, getting up and walking around the desk to give us a pat on the back. “Why don’t you head home and I’ll be there shortly.” He offers with a fond smile like the young man has never seen before.

With a nod, we rise and exit the office door only to find ourselves in the Hall of Perils with Nakos at my side, as he was earlier.

“Thank God, I was worried I was going to be stuck as that little shit forever,” I say as I let out a sigh of relief and feel the tension leave my body.

All four Rellik laugh and we relax a bit as I lean against the doorway and watch from the corner of my eye as the sky-blue hue turns to grey like the ones before it. The ghost-like image of Miles is smiling back at me as I adjust to admire our handy work.

Smiling in satisfaction I start circling the room again, looking for the next doorway that speaks to me. Only to be distracted by the palpable tension that seems to have encased the room as I do so.

Then it dawns on me that the Rellik are likely nervous because this will be the third peril and they have yet to get past the third one. But this only makes me more determined to survive not only this one but the next peril and the rest that come after.

“Relax you guys. We can look through and pick an easier one for this just to get us past the third peril.” I say, hoping to cut the tension so that I can find the next door that calls to me.

Only to find my feet stopping before a lilac-purple-hued door, I watch the veil ebb and flow like the others before asking “What’s the riddle on this one?”

Stepping alongside me, “Some relish this and others avoid it. You must own it or it will be the death of you.” Mendel reads unsteadily, narrowing his eyes as he focuses on the text above.

“Good boy.” Nakos praises him, stepping alongside us. “You’ve been studying.” He smiles at his companion and places an arm around his shoulders for a sideways hug.

“I think this is responsibility or maybe the mortal sin sloth,” I mumble in thought.

“I agree,” Mendel says with a nod, then gives me a hopeful look.

“I hate to say it buddy, but I don’t think you’ll be able to help me with this one,” I admit with a sad smile, giving him a pat on his cold scaly shoulder.

As I turn to face the other two, I see Alaric walking around absentmindedly kicking a pebble around in a circle as he avoids eye contact.

“Tell me what you did.” I request with a sigh, starting to walk towards him.

“Nothing, I’m not the one to help you.” He denies it, focusing a little too hard on the rock at his hooves.

“Do you want to make it past the third peril?” I inquire, a harshness in my voice that seems unfamiliar to even me.

“I do but you don’t need me to do it.” He dismisses with a wave of his long-fingered hand as he continues to avoid eye contact.

With a huff I turn to face Nakos and the others, “Can I pick him without his consent or is that counterintuitive to the whole accepting responsibility thing?” I ask in annoyance.

Nakos sighs and shifts his focus from me to the Rellik behind me, giving Alaric a furrowed gaze of disappointment. “It is counterintuitive but I also feel like that makes sense in this case.” He admits, still staring at Alaric through narrowed eyes.

“So be it.” I agree with a nod and start to walk towards the lilac-purple-hued doorway, pausing only a foot away from the veil. “Are you coming?” I ask, turning back to see him still where I had left him.

“I don’t need to help you.” He reiterates in defiance, shooting me an anxious glance before focusing on his pebble again.

“Fine, then I will go in there by myself and likely fail. I hope you can bear the responsibility of that and maybe my replacement will be another Xander or better yet Niclaus.” I say, turning back to the veil and taking a deep breath in preparation to step through it.

With an overly dramatic huff, “Fine.” He finally agrees and comes stomping (clomping?) behind me as he practically shoves me through the veil and together we enter into the realm of Sloth.

Part Seven:

Young AdultMagical RealismFictionFantasyCliffhangerBusinessAdventure

About the Creator

Donna Fox (HKB)

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  1. Compelling and original writing

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Comments (12)

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  • Dana Crandell7 months ago

    This just keeps getting better! Your characters are building and blooming. The imagery is great. If you're still open to some proofreading/suggestions, I'd recommend "whiney" instead of "winey" and "past" instead of "passed" (I wish we had private messaging. This always feels like criticism, but it's not meant that way.)

  • Oh this was Excellent Storytelling Donna! I liked the conversation at the end of the peril when they are deciding for the next one. These little interludes are quickly becoming my favorite parts of the chapters. I really enjoyed this peril. A lot of lessons in what the father was trying to teach his son. I can't wait for the peril where everything goes wrong because I know that's coming. Maybe I'll have time to read another chapter this weekend. I've been incredibly busy with my own writing and work, work never stops. but I want you to know how much I truly enjoy your writing.

  • Mohammed Darasi7 months ago

    Great chapter Donna 😊. I like the peril in this one, and how you implemented the environment for it. I actually like even more the ongoing interaction between her and the rellik and how it's getting a little bit deeper each chapter. Really nicely done 👍🏽

  • Thavien Yliaster7 months ago

    Why do I feel like You wrote this chapter while watching an episode of Gordan Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares?" I guess it makes sense for Tesha to be able to get a better grip of this young man that Mr. Abidi since Mr. Abidi's considered to be a member of a royal family, they live in a harsh climate already, he lost an immense portion of his wealth being half his sheep herd, I'm going to assume that they were also in a different time period besides for just living on a different side of the world that Tesha's used to, and that the part of the world he lives in at the time means that You have to rule with both fear and respect which both need to be instilled. "Weak men make hard times. Hard times make strong men. Strong men make good times. Good times make weak men." Mr. Abidi can't afford to be weak, just like this young man's father. Hence, not out of a sake of pride, but out of a sake for creating a good time for his restaurant and his staff. Especially for Miles, since he has a distinguishable disability. I do wonder what Miles disability is. Is it something like rickets, a physical birth defect such as a stunted limb, or possibly something like down syndrome where Miles is capable enough to work a regular labor job but not much else? Having worked in minimum wage positions before I met a lot of people like that, and they were always happy to work and provide a helping hand. A lot of them were essentially the backbone of those places, ensuring that things were ran in tip top shape. The son learned to put his pride aside for the pride and well being of his father, his coworkers, and the family business. It's important to have pride, but not to allow one's ego to cloud their own judgement in a shroud of terrible pompous vanity. Also, before I read part 7 I was wondering what sin or sins that Alaric committed when it comes to sloth. I sort of had something going along the lines like this. Alaric: "What, I've done nothing wrong but made sure to properly assess the capabilities of the people I was guarding." Madra: "No, remember that one time back at the colosseum?" *several centuries ago in ancient Rome* Alaric: "Alright go out there and get them buddy!" Gladiator: "But these are lions! They've been feeding them human flesh and starving them just to entice them into fighting us!" Alaric: "I fully believe in you! You got this!" *gives him a thumbsup* *back at the perils of Efil* Alaric: "Oh come on! He was wearing armor and had a bronze spear with a short sword too!" Madra: *facepalms* "If it weren't for my motherly nature, I would've kicked you from the group long ago." Nakos: "How about that other time when you were given a person with a more peaceful life to live? Yes, yes, I remember now." *flashback to the era of Romeo and Juliet* Lady in labor: "God! Please have mercy on me! Please remove the burden that Eve has inflicted upon our kind with her and Adam's original sin!" Midwife: "Don't worry ma'am, the heads crowning right now!" Alaric: "See, I told you that you were in safe hands." *back at the perils of Efil* Nakos: "How did she die again?" *strokes beard* "Ah, yes, I recall now. She developed a nasty infection, but it wasn't from the pains of her laborious birth giving." Mendel: "Wait, how could Alaric could have protected her from dying of labor?" Madra: "Because she didn't die from labor." Nakos: "Yes, now I recall. She died from the midwife not properly washing his hands beforehand. Though he may have been very skilled, he lacked in hygiene. A simple bar of soap would've done. I'm surprised you didn't whisper something into his ear about the dirt and grime on his hands, Alaric." Alaric: "Oh come on now! How was I supposed to know about that?!" Madra: "She was the daughter of a wealthy vineyard owner. They literally made alcohol and soap. She took a bath every single day. Did you think that she needed to build up her immunity by becoming sick or something?" *yare yare daze* Alaric: "Oh come on! I'm not that slothful!" Nakos: "No, you're not." Madra: "You're just a big buffoon who overestimates the people he needs to be guarding." Alaric: "I'm not that bad." Mendel: "Uhhhh, remember that guy from five years ago?" *flashback to Planet Fitness* Alaric: "Come on buddy! Push! You got this! You got this! Two more reps!" Bodybuilder: "I don't think I can lift it! I'm need help! I've pushed to failure!" Alaric: "You got this! Keep going!" Bodybuilder: "Please, help me!" *looks around the gym, sees somebody far away, facing the opposite direction with earbuds in* "Help me! Please!" Barbell: *begins to crush windpipe* Bodybuilder: "Can't breathe! I can't scream! Oh God, please, somebody help me!" Alaric: "Fight or flight instinct, buddy! Come on!" ABC News: "Due to ego lifting, the life of a young, natural, bodybuilder has been tragically cut short." *back to the perils of Efil* Tesha: "Wait! You mean he f*cked up more than once! Does he have to go with me through the one of the perils! Haven't the three of you committed more sins to cover his!" Nakos: "Then wouldn't that be your sin of sloth, but not taking Alaric with you?" Tesha: "It's not sloth! It's common sense." Madra: "Told you she's a smart cookie." I must admit, it is nice to know that the Relliks must cooperate along Tesha instead of her just dragging them along. It really does make both of their efforts on a two way street. If anything else, I guess You could say that I was hoping for Nakos to provide Tesha with some dialogue, cause I would assume that he's meditated on his own words a lot and over the years even watched other humans in similar positions to him watching from a far just wishing that he could be a guardian angel over them again, but being incapable of doing so since he's a Rellik, and his words would barely be carried on the whispers of the wind let alone in somebody's conscience. Nakos: "I could've helped him, or her, or them, but I no longer can since I am what I am. This is the price for being damned. I must watch others damn themselves as well." The clomping(?) part You added in there fits perfectly with the vibe of the story. I must say that You've continue to carry this series extremely well.

  • Rob Angeli7 months ago

    Another creative overcoming of the obstacle. Having had to do a lot of hard work myself in life, from the lowliest to management responsibilities, I can deeply relate. Good lesson of integrity, and a twist into the human workspace!

  • ThatWriterWoman7 months ago

    This is so beyond AMAZING as a piece of work Donna! I adored how you represented pride through hard work in this one. It really felt like a moral tale! Your writing really feels classic. It draws me in and makes me forget I am reading which I value as the ultimate sign of a good story. Oooooh, what is Alaric hiding, eh? I can't wait to find out! On to the next bit!

  • Lamar Wiggins8 months ago

    I love how you describe how Tesha feels when the person she blends with is ready to respond in their usual way. "I can feel the young man’s gut grinding on itself in anger as he fights with himself to sit quietly and listen to his father." Awesome! there were some great ones in the last episode as well. Bravo, Donna! Great series!

  • It's so nice that the little piece of shit got along with Miles and finally understood what his dad has been trying to teach him! Hahahahahahhahaha that Alaric part was so funny! Like it's either you're coming or I'm gonna kidnap you 🤣🤣🤣 Also, um, hey, I usually do these things in private but I have no idea how to contact you privately, so here goes. There was one part where you spelled Nakos as Nekos. I'm so sorry to tell you this open in public 🥺 So next is Sloth! That's like my life goal, lol! Can't wait for the next part!

  • Novel Allen8 months ago

    Mastering all of the deadly sins is a triumph. Great going. See you soon.

  • Mark Gagnon8 months ago

    You keep coming up with new situations and ways to fix the problems. I'm curious to see how you handle sloth. Great series!

  • J. S. Wade8 months ago

    Another great episode! I love the three layer mentality in the rooms. The character, Tesha, and the Relliks. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like that before. Brilliant. 🥰

  • Tina D'Angelo8 months ago

    No need to take away words. Well done, again! Wouldn't that be such an awesome superpower? To inhabit the minds of outrageous people and make them do what we want? You are benevolent. I'd just be messing with them 😂

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