May 24, 2024

CAGED

The alarm clock buzzed loudly, boldly displaying that the time had clocked 7am. There was a stirring beneath the blanket, a tired groan, followed by a lazy arm which stuck out to press the snooze button. Silence again filled the room.

After a few minutes, the clock rang more loudly again, jolting the man underneath the sheets. He jumped up, placing his right hand against his chest, trying to calm his heart. He glanced quickly at the clock, eyes bulging as he looked at the time. 7:30am! Like a mouse who just realized its tail was on fire, he shot out of bed, headed directly for the bathroom.

He had to be in the boardroom by 8am to present his carefully prepared masterpiece to prospective clients, considering it as his only opportunity for a massive elevation! He had prepared so much for this day, including sleeping late last night, putting final touches to his slides.

The voluminous bathing routine will have to be cut short today. He dashed out of the bath tub and in the space of 10 minutes was all dressed, looking smart in a maroon colored shirt, black trouser and suit. He was straightening out out his tie in front of the mirror, his blond hair though styled hurriedly, still looked elegant as it fell to his shoulders.

High-Tech Corporation was never uptight about their employees looks, but more concerned about their brains and results, which gave him the liberty to flaunt his hair as he deemed fit. His pink lips curved in a pleasant smile. But for this occasion, he had to put that hair in a pony, his blue eyes shone bright in anticipation.

Satisfied with his look, he grabbed his laptop bag and followed through the kitchen door to the garage where his Ferrari waited patiently.

7:55am

“Come on!!!! I’m running late here!” He pressed his horn harder and got an insult in response, from one of the frustrated road users like himself.

The traffic didn’t seem to be moving and the clock was ticking fast.

“Save me Lord…” He pleaded under his breath as perspiration broke out on his forehead inspite of the chilly weather.

The black shiny phone on the seat beside him began chirping loudly. He looked at the caller ID, it read; “Tech Boss”

“Could things get any worse!” He muttered to himself as he picked up the call.

“Hello Sir”

“Jade…. Where are you? It’s 2 minutes to 8am. You better get yourself here now or get ready to have your ass whipped!” Blip……. The silence that followed was deafening.

That was it, no chance to explain or reply.

“Is this how my career will end after all the hardwork I’ve put into it?!” His mind was a mess.

He had been warned severally not to flop this or he would lose his job without second thought, and here he was stuck in traffic. He looked down soberly at the steering wheel, his thoughts were overwhelming. Beyond this charade of good and smart looks, deep down, he felt like a nobody, a failure. No matter how he tried, he feared that he would never fit in and might just end up like his father — That was his greatest fear! He didn’t want to end up like him, which was why he put in his best at his workplace hoping for a chance for a better life.

The programming of this game — his game, was the only lifeline he had, but now, staring at the time that read 8:10am, he knew that all he worked for was gone and if it was gone, he too was gone. He wiped off a tear that fell from his eye.

Read also katherines journey

The traffic was clearing up and he as well knew he had to go dance to the drum beats. It took him about 10 more minutes to get to work. He hurriedly parked his car in the parking lot and briskly walked to the magnificent building, withich had a bold sign carrying the company’s name at the top.

The door opened as he approached and a highly British accented lady’s voice was heard a little above the din of the place…

“You’re welcome to High-Tech Corporation. Enjoy your stay!”

“Oh yeah, I don’t think ‘enjoy’ would be my experience today”. He muttered sadly.

The place was busy, many workers and clients were all over the place. The place was a beehive of activity. He took it all in an instance and his eyes rested on Olivia, the lovely intern who he had grown accustomed to.

She handled the typing and printing of needed documents. She was indeed a good hand. Their eyes met and she began frantically waving him over with a worried look on her face. He walked briskly to her desk, looking around if he could catch a glimpse of the Boss.

“Jade! Are you out of your mind? What were you thinking?”

“Please don’t go all judgemental on me. It wasn’t intentional.” He clasped his face with both hands, trying to calm down his rising emotions.

“You of all people should know how much this game means to me. It was my big shot Olive and I blew it!”

“I’m so sorry Jade, but it’s really over now. The clients were here at 8am prompt and left after 5 minutes of waiting.”

“What! That was so fast! The Boss could have tried to delay them a bit, at least.”

“Trust me, he tried, but they had already lost interest. A tight bunch of stereotyped minds.” She huffed her displeasure.

“The Boss asked to see you immediately you arrive. He’s in his office.”

The heat rose up to his face till he felt like it was burning visibly red.

“Okay… Thank you Olive. I’ll go right up”. He smiled weakly.

“All the best dear”.

The restroom was on the route to the Boss’ office and he decided to stop for a splash of water on his face. The face staring at him from the mirror looked awful. Taking a soft towel, he wiped the water off and went out, heading straight in the direction he dreaded the most.

 

***************

Jade knocked lightly on the door and he got a response almost immediately. Opening the door nervously, he stuck his head in.

“Come in and shut the door, Jade!” The voice was loud and angry.

“Good morning Mr. Whyte”. He made a futile attempt at a smile. He felt so tense, he had to force himself to keep breathing.

Mr Whyte just kept staring at him, draining the life out of him with those set of piercing eyes.

“Jade, come, sit down.”

The pleasant way he said it made his fear triple, wondering what was up his sleeves. He looked at his Boss still gesturing to a chair with a big smile on. Summoning any courage he had left, he walked up to the chair and sat down at the edge.

“The clients were here earlier, are you aware?”

“Yee—e–ss sir.”

“Do you know what happened? Their response when they didn’t see you?”

“Sir, I truly apologize, I didn’t mean to sleep…… I mean, I didn’t mean to be late today. There was a huge traffic this morning and…….”

“Shush……” He put a finger to his lips.

“That client was our biggest ever and we just lost them!” He stood up, towering above Jade, which made him feel even littler. Mr Whyte’s body frame was quite imposing and intimidating.

“Just so you know, you have also lost your job!!!” His breath came in hard.

Jade began crying profusely…..

“No…. please sir. I’ll do anything. Not my job sir. I beg for your mercy.” He was on his knees pleading.

“You want mercy? Do I look like I’m handing out coupons of mercy?!” His eyes were wide in anger.

“You’re about to receive the full bout of my wrath, Jade!!” He laughed loud, his voice echoed loudly in the room.

There was a sound of clothes tearing and a deep growl. Jade watched his Boss transform into a hideous beast. He couldn’t make a sound, too shocked to move, he just looked on with wide eyes. The beast was massive, so tall that it reached the ceiling. Even as high as it was, still it hunched so that the room could accommodate it. Very wide, muscles visible everywhere and yellow eyes staring directly into Jade’s soul. What was on that dead skin flakes, was it maggots? Sure was! His eyes couldn’t decieve him.

“What have I done?” He looked around in panic.

The place had suddenly become dark as if it was night fall already.

“I am your greatest nightmare!!” The voice shook the building.

“You stinking beast! Let me be!” He shoved his shaking forefinger in the air, trying to warn Mr Whyte, wherever he might be inside the beast.

The beast roared with laughter and Jade fell helplessly to the floor.

“I am your greatest fear! And at last I’ve got you exactly where I want you!!!!”

Now fear was really clawing at Jade’s heart. His eyes were wide as he struggled to swallow.

“You’re just like your father, a weakling!” It spilled green slimy saliva to the floor and twisted its face in pity.

“I’m sorry it has to end like this.”

The beast started towards him, reaching out to lay its heavy fist on Jade. Just before the beast crashed into him, he got a hold of himself and swiftly moved to the left, narrowly missing the fatal blow. A fat heavy tail followed up what the fist had missed, swiping him off the floor and dashing him against the wall.

“Auch!” Jade whimpered in pain. He collapsed to the floor, his arms wrapped around his aching ribs.

He could hear the beast approaching him again and he looked up just in time to miss a blow targeted right at his face. The big fist went crashing into the wall, making a big hole in it. The beast growled in anger, green saliva drooling down his open mouth, exposing sharp fangs ready to rip his heart out of him. At this point, he knew he had to defend himself. It was now or never!

Since this beast said it was his greatest fear, then he had to overcome it and now was the time. He stood up with determination in his eyes, he was going to fight and try as much as possible to survive, even if his chances were slim.

The office was in shambles — the table, broken in pieces, tiny bits of glasses scattered everywhere, the computer was beyond repairs — the sight was nothing close to what Mr Whyte’s office would look like on a good day. A sharp metal caught his eyes and he dived for it.

The beast was after him again, this time with red hot sulfurous breaths coming from its nostrils. Jade already had a good grip on his weapon and now faced the beast, ready for combat. Yelling his battle cry, he also approached this monster, the iron held high in his right hand. The beast was taken aback and stopped for a moment, taking in the sight of the little man running towards him with a tiny pin in his hand. When Jade got to it and stuck the iron in its enormous leg, the beast gave out a cry, holding its leg and hopping on one.

“Oh no, no, no. My precious leg. You’ve got me.”

“Sure I have!!” Jade laughed.

“How have the mighty fallen!” Jade turned to look for another weapon to end it all and instantly, he got a kick in his butt which sent him flying towards the bookshelf, crashing into it and making a whole new mess.

“I told you I will whip your ass, didn’t I?” The beast gave a thunderous laugh, whilst plucking out the iron and taking a mirthful look at it.

“Did you think you could finish me up just like that! How comical!”

Shocked beyond words, Jade just lay where he was, obviously about to accept defeat.

“Maybe I’m really like my dad.”

“Of course you are! You mug!”

The beast was by his side now, leaning close enough to his face so much that he could smell its venomous breath — very choking.

“I’ll crush you up like a salad and have you for dinner just like I did to your dad.” The beast slowly ran his long sharp talons across Jade’s face, slightly creating an opening that produced little streaks of blood. It licked the blood off its talons, savoring the taste.

“It tastes like victory!”

*******

Jade was exhausted, his body felt pain on all sides, all he wanted was for everything to end.

Just then, in an instant, he got a ‘light bulb’ moment — a strong impression dropped in his mind and he whispered it out, under his breath….

“If all fear had roots in the mind, then the real battle happens in the mind.”

His mother’s voice seeped into his consciousness as if she was right there with him.

“Sugar plum, I want you to know that you are a rare gem, so rare and special that no local or modern store has seen. Always believe in yourself darling. You are resilient! You carry much more value than you can ever imagine.” She planted a kiss on his forehead.

That happened fourteen years ago when he was ten years old. The memory still brought tears to his eyes.

“Oh, now he’s crying. So pathetic.”

“No! You’re the one who’s pathetic!” He stood to his feet.

“I’ve given you room in my mind too long, now it’s time to pack up and leave!”

“Are you outta your mind?”

“You got that right, beast!! I really am outta my mind.”

The beast lifted him by his neck and he struggled to breathe, legs kicking in the air.

“Show me what you’ve got Jade.” It had a teasing grin on.

Jade managed to gather his thoughts and focus his mind, despite the pain he felt. He thought to himself,

“This fear is real only in my mind and I have to let it go to overcome this. So dad, I forgive you for being a jerk. I forgive you for leaving us when we needed you the most, for leaving us no good role model and for planting this fear of failure in me.”

It was hard, but when he did truly let go, he felt relief wash over him and a long lost peace envelope him.

The beast groaned loudly, holding its head, gradually loosing its grip on its victim. Jade felt better and his voice could come out, though quite raspy. He spoke out to the hearing of the beast.

“I choose to live in fear no longer, rather I choose rest and peace, and my past or pain cannot define me anymore. Though I might lose this job, it’s not the end of me. No! It isn’t!” He felt elated already.

“I take steps in the direction I know I should go, even if I feel insufficient. I understand that life is full of ups and downs, but this is what makes my experience full and rewarding. So, I’ll no more let the waves of life overwhelm me, because with each passing day, I’m getting better and stronger!” Jade screamed out his resolve.

He felt lit up, on fire with so much courage than he had felt in a long time — fear completely dissipated.

**********

The beast let go of Jade’s neck, and crumpled up on the floor.

“Noooooooo!!!! I’m not letting you go that easy!” The beast tried to sound in charge, but its defeat was heard in its shaky voice.

It began to plead, “You can’t do this to me. We’ve been buddy’s for a long time now! Pleasssssee……Noooooooo!!”

Its voice trailed off, strength gradually dissipating. In no time, what was once an intimidating frame towering high over Jade, was reduced to puffs of smoke and had vanished completely.

Jade lay on the floor for a while, pondering on what had just happened. Everything still seemed just like a daytime dream.

“How come nobody heard the ruckus coming from this office?” He wondered.

“Jade…. Jade!”

“Was that Olivia? At last someone’s here.”

He stood up slowly and walked to the door, he heard his name again and was sure it was Olivia.

“I’m here Olive.”

He reached for the knob and turned it, opening the door. He was almost blinded by the brightness of light that flooded his eyes.

 

**************

Olivia was peering down at him and as he looked around, he wondered where he was.

“Where am I?”

“Oh, thank God you’re awake. I was worried. You’re in a hospital”, Olivia planted a kiss on his cheek.

“What happened?” He looked confused

“You fainted while at the Boss’ office. He told us you passed out right after he told you that you were fired.”

“What! Unbelievable! All that ruckus?”

“What ruckus?”

“Oh, never mind.” He looked pale.

“So, how do you feel?”

“Never been better.” He smiled weakly.

“Sure? Even without a job?”

“Of course. In fact, I know it’s a new beginning for me. I’m so elated Olive, super elated. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but it’s going to be one day at a time”. Remembering his Victory brought a bright smile to his face.

“I love that you’re this happy.” Her eyes shone radiantly as she smiled.

“Thank you for standing by me, Olive. You’ve been an amazing friend”. He smiled at her.

He took her hand in his. “Today, I decided to face my worse fears and I’ve overcome! Don’t ever let fear hold you back. You’re worth so much more than you can possibly know”.

Jade’s face was filled with so much peace. He smiled at her.

“I’m glad that you are good Jade. I’ll keep your words in mind.” Olivia managed to hide her surprise, hearing Jade speak like this

He made a mental note that he had to go visit his father, it’s been 14years after all, of being away and it was high time he rebuilt what was left of the almost non-existent relationship.

“So, what’s next now?” Olivia asked.

He smiled! “I’m going to start up my own Tech company.”

” Wow! This is so great!” Olivia was clearly impressed.

” Come and work for me!” he teased her.

“Oh, you bet!” Olive retorted. They bursted out laughing heartily.

It was indeed a new beginning!

**************

The End

About The Author

6 thoughts on “CAGED

  1. Kudos indeed to Esther for such an incredible inspiration which embodied the brain behind faliur “fear and pain”.
    I’m blessed to add to the Bank of my knowledge the awareness that until fear is buried in one’s life, he can’t thrive no matter what.
    Thanks to Esther for this spectacular work 💝
    Looking forward to more inspirational piece.

    1. Thank you so much Bitrus ❣️

      I’m delighted to know that you got great lessons from it. Keep following for more amazing stories that will be published.

      You can follow “Hunted”. It’s an adventurous ride.

  2. This is profound… it’s so encapsulating, full of depth.

    A whole lot of lessons to learn, and for me, it’s the ability to war against the negativity and the toxicity of your mind, which could be the reason for notable setbacks, misfortune, delay, anxiety and a whole lot more.

    Thank you for this piece! #caged #asherrich

  3. I don’t fancy reading but I stumbled on this link and decided to read the article and I’m glad I did. It came in handy with just the right words I needed to hear.
    It was a really good read, thank you!

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