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Corporate Annihilation - A free chapter

As a free gift, I present to you a free chapter from my novel Corporate Annihilation. Chapter 39 One morning, as Penelope walked down one of the hallways of Coast City University, she was more nervous than ever before. She’d initially come here for women’s studies when she was eighteen, but then transferred to politics. Her degree remained incomplete. She was twenty-one years old when she was arrested during her third year in this university. “God damn it,” she thought, “I’d have graduated that year. Now I’ve come back, not as a drop-out but as a felon. I bet everyone here thinks I’m a failure. A laughing stock.” But then she tried to reassure herself that not every successful person went to university or had a degree. And not everyone was given a second chance, not like hers, especially when she has her daddy’s business to run. At the age of twenty-four she represented one of the biggest corporations in America. She’d came to do a speech. She was in her dark blue Helix blazer and skirt that went down to the knee, white blouse, black shoes to go with her black stockings. She had straightened her brown hair that that went down to her shoulders. She wore her smaller framed silver glasses. She came complete with the silver Helix Inc. pin badge on her blazer, and a briefcase. Her heart-beat was frantic, her sweat dampening her clothes and her stomach felt bloated, like she was about to throw up any minute. As the students walked past her in the hallways some recognised her, while others had their eyes on their smartphones, probably Horus phones. Footsteps echoed across the hallway as students made their way to lectures, chatting away and laughing. Penelope tried her best not to look at them. She cleared her throat. “I hope the vocal classes helped,” she thought to herself. Bzzz Bzzz Here phone went. She took out her phone and looked as she walked on. She received a text from El-Taco. “Good luck baby.” It gave her a weak smile. She texted back. “Thanks babe.” She found the doors to the symposium, and stopped in front of them. “What if it’s empty?” she thought. “What if everyone laughs at me when I walk in? Am I in the wrong place?” She paused for one moment to take in a deep breath before pushing the door open. “No. Let’s get this over with.” The symposium was packed. There were still students coming in to fill the seats, putting down their bags, taking off their coats and jackets, sipping away at their paper coffee cups, chatting away and gossiping among themselves. No one among this new generation of students recognised her. Probably better that way. Even if they did, would they care? The wooden panels on the walls were dark oak. The thin carpets were dark grey, they gave off a strong shampoo smell, they must have been cleaned during the weekend. All the seats and the tables were a lighter oak wood colour. The white ceiling held fluorescent lights that were every bright. They made every surface shine so that if you looked at them for too long it hurt your eyes. The wall at the front was painted light grey and it had a gigantic white square painted in the middle of it for the smartboard. There were a few tables at the front, also oak, with generic black office chairs behind them. And right there, in the middle of the space between the front wall and the oak seat going up to the back was the podium, also oak. It had two thin microphones attached to it. Penelope noticed the two large black speakers hanging on both sides of the white square on the front wall. She gulped. “I hope they’re not too loud.” Sitting at one of the desks preparing some paperwork was the Dean Jo Williams, a balding man in his mid-fifties. He had a dark grey suit with a light blue tie to go with his white shirt, dark grey trousers and black shoes. “Ah, Ms Helix, how nice to see you here.” He walked over to her. They shook hands. “Nice to see you too. Please, call me Penelope.” “I’d like to thank you again for your cause. Your father gave a speech here on a few occasions, many students since then have joined Helix Inc. and had successful careers ever since. We have not heard of such success stories for years. I think your speech will give these students a light of hope.” “I hope so,” said Penelope. With a weak smile. “Please take a seat, I’ll call you up in a moment.” He walked over to the podium. Penelope sat at one of the black office chairs, sat up and crossed her legs. She kept her head up and her back straight. “Alright everyone, may I have your attention please,” said the Dean. The students took turns to mockingly tell one another to hush. Shhhh-shhhh-shhh. “Thank you.” He smiled with a nod acknowledging their humour. The Dean began his introduction: “Good morning everyone, today we have a very special guest…” His voice suddenly faded from her mind. At least the speakers were not too loud. She had been craving the spotlight for years. To be honoured and respected. But not in these circumstances. “Do all these students know what I’ve done?” she thought. “That riot. Which one? My prison sentence? My online polls? The cringy articles I wrote? Did they see my apology video? My ad campaigns? ...Oh God, I gotta get out of here before they all start booing at me!” As these thoughts whizzed around in her mind, it had dawned on her that this isn’t some social media profile where she can just type away an argument nor a place to just record on a camera and upload to the internet. This was real life. She had to talk to her spectators face-to-face. “Shit.” A realization suddenly hit her. “Why did I have such a big breakfast this morning? I thought it would give me all the energy I needed to deal with all this. Now I’m gonna puke it all out on to the symposium floor.” “So without further ado, let’s give our guest a warm welcome, Penelope Helix!” The Dean began clapping. Most of the students clapped along while a small number remained indifferent. “Oh God,” she thought. “Stay calm. Stay calm.” She walked over the podium with her speech, she gritted her teeth behind a forced smile. She looked around to acknowledge the students, make some eyes contact with a few of them. “Thank you for having me,” said Penelope. A student wolf whistled at Penelope. She turned her eyes around the symposium, and spotted the sniggering youth in a hoody, sitting at the back row with his friends. “Why that little…!” The mantra in her head went: “Don’t feed the trolls. Don’t feed the trolls. Don’t feed the trolls. Don’t feed the trolls.” She started her speech. She cleared her throat. The Dean shook his head at the student with disapproval. “Some of you already know me through the press and social media. As matter of fact I run Helix Press which is a subsidiary of Helix Inc. My brothers and my sister run the other subsidiaries of Helix Inc. Helix Motors, Helix Gen, and Helix Tech. I have noticed many of you carry Helix tech already such as the phones and laptops. Heh. Which goes to show how Helix plays a role in your lives. We at Helix take immense pride in our ability to innovate and contribute to an evolving market. To serve people’s needs. Many people who work at Helix Inc. studied in this university and then moved on to work for us. As you can see, we are still growing. We are growing because this is the legacy of my Father, Gerald Helix, and those who came before him.” The symposium remained silent. “Before I continue, let me ask a question: Who saw the documentaries we released recently? Please raise your hand.” More than half of the students raised their hands. “Thank you,” said Penelope “Those documentaries came into being because we need to remind ourselves what we stand for and why we do the things we do. They were made by the most hard-working and talented people in Helix Inc. And we are going to need a new generation of talent. Starting with you. To continue my fathers’ legacy, the Helix legacy. We are passing down everything our forefathers gave to us so we can give it you, to make the world a better place for our children. For a better future.” She paused for a moment to give herself a quick breather. “So we’re going to need some new talent to work with our crew. So when you finish university you can start working for Helix Inc. and get your career started with us. We offer apprenticeships and internships. I am sure you all have fresh and new ideas. You can gain experience and start your career at Helix Inc.” “I think that’s it,” said Penelope. “I’ll take your questions now.” A small number of students raised their hands. She chose one. “What was prison like?” “Let’s just say you don’t wanna go there. Best keep out of trouble.” She chuckled. “I’m learning to become a software engineer. Does Helix Tech accept graduates too?” “Yes, whatever skill set you have to offer I’m sure there will a place in Helix Inc. for you.” “Yeah right,” one student smirked. He had a stencil cut out of Che Guevara on his t-shirt. “You just want cheap labour. What company doesn’t. Graduates have less experience, that’s why you wanna pay them less. Is that why you’re here?” The Dean gave the student a disapproving look. She paused to think of a carefully worded response. “If we did that then nobody would have stayed at Helix Inc. for long. We believe in meritocracy; we have many seniors among us at Helix Inc. who have been with us for years. As I mentioned earlier, some of them were graduates who came from this university. As a result, we have flourished. Recently, we recruited a friend of mine named Jane Saunders, she graduated from here and now she works for us. In fact, she was the one who did all the research for the documentaries you saw. We couldn’t have done it without her. If she can a massive impact for Helix Inc. and for this city, then you can do too.” To that, most of the students smiled. “Today, many young people have been tossed on to the scrap heap and left behind. My father gave young people a chance. My father believed in opportunities. That is what made Helix Inc. great. And I too believe in that. Helix Inc. offers many exciting career opportunities for young people because my father believed that young people are the future. If we invest in the future, we make a better world for our children, for the future. Whether you seek a temporary role to gain experience or a permanent career path at Helix, there is something here for everyone. It’s my father’s legacy. The Helix legacy. And I plan to honour that legacy. We all win.” She stood away from the podium and opened out her arms, and made her call: “Who’s with Helix?” There was a sudden shot of hands reaching for the sky. All the students were in favour. *** Later that day, Jodie was in Saint Luke’s Cathedral. She walked along the aisle slowly to marvel at the interior design. It was a grey day, there was no sunlight to shine through the stained-glass windows. She sat in one of the vacant rows of seats and looked ahead. There was a small number of people in the cathedral. In the corner of the cathedral stood an old nun who was talking to some visitors. Jodie looked around the cathedral, hoping nobody was watching. What if someone recognised her? So what if they did? That’s a not a reason to hide in the shadows. She no longer cared. She wanted solace. Regardless, she looked forward and focused her sight to the front of the cathedral, admiring the stunning artwork of the polyptic: the paintings of the saints, of Mother Mary, and of Jesus. She took in a deep breath and exhaled. There was something about this place that made her feel good. She felt liberated somehow. Two elderly women spotted Jodie. One looked amazed in joy, dressed in dark green, the other was cynical, dressed in dark red. They began to whisper among themselves. “I say, that young woman over there looks like Jodie Helix,” said the one in dark green. “It can’t be. A woman like that has no morals.” “Don’t say that, Eveline. People can change for the better, you know.” “Humph! If that is her indeed then she has a real nerve coming here. A church, of all places.” “Come now, dear. There’s no need to be like that. She only recently came out of prison. Perhaps she learned her lesson.” “Oh, don’t be so soft, Martha.” “Let’s go and talk to her.” “No, I can’t.” Eveline turned away and folded her arms. “Very well then, I shall go and talk to her myself.” And so Martha timidly approached. “Pardon me, dear. I don’t mean to disturb you. But are you Jodie Helix?” “Yes. I am.” She blushed. “Oh, how wonderful to see you here.” “Really?” “Why, yes, of course. You see, I’ve been an admirer of your mother and father for many years. They used to come here quite often. It has been a long time since a member of the Helix family has visited or prayed in this cathedral. It felt sort of empty. Might I ask what brings you here?” “I don’t know,” said Jodie. “Hope, I guess. Maybe I was feeling lost. It’s hard to explain.” “I understand, dear,” said Martha. “Even if you don’t find God, God always finds you.” Martha smiled. “Thank you,” said Jodie. “Now I shall leave you to your day, I shall pray for your family.” “I appreciate it. Thank you.” “Have you finished, Martha?” a cold voice boomed. It was the old woman in dark red. “Eveline, keep your voice down.” “No, Martha, I have a good reason to give her a piece of my mind.” Then she turned to Jodie and soured her face. “What makes you think you have a right to be here? Especially in a house of God after what you’ve done?” “That’s enough, Eveline.” Martha placed both of her hands on her shoulders as she shook her head in disapproval. Eveline’s harsh voice was so loud it made people look in their direction. Jodie swallowed. She shuffled her feet, unable to make eye contact with the old angry face chastising her. She pulled at the collar of her blouse as she looked around. Other people watched as she sat there and took it. “What do I do?” Jodie thought. “Get up and run? No! People will think I’m a coward. But I’ve got to stand up for myself. Stand up and do what? What do I say? No, just sit there. Don’t say anything.” “You’re a spoilt little brat,” Eveline went on, “That’s what you are. You’re just pretending. I know a liar when I SEE ONE! Just because your father was a successful businessman doesn’t mean you are any better than us. You think you’re so special?Huh? Do you think the world belongs to you?” “Let’s go now. You’re making a scene,” Martha urged. The old nun in the corner watched in dismay. She placed a hand on the cross that hung down from her neck. “There’s something wrong. I must intervene.” But her feet remained rooted to the ground, she could not move. All she could do was watch. “Ha! Your mother was a wonderful woman. But you. You will never be like her. You’re a WHORE!” Jodie’s jaw dropped. Stunned by what she just heard she slowly turned to face the old woman yelling at her while the other elderly woman tugged her arm. “Eveline!” Martha gasped. “You’ve gone too far! Enough! We’re going. Come on!” The spectators also gasped. Other members of the church looked on in shock. “What?” Jodie replied disgusted. Her eyes began to swell up with tears. Her mind raced with thoughts. “What did you call me?! I have a good mind to claw your face right now! You bitch!” Her inner voice intervened– “DON’T! DON’T! Whatever you do, don’t respond. People are looking at you. If you misbehave in front of all these people right now the whole world will know about it. Don’t respond. Bite your tongue.” She pressed her ankles together so hard the joints began to ache. At first she gave an angered look at the old woman, but then she turned her head away to face the front and close her eyes. Her jaw trembled as she tried keep her mouth firmly shut in fear of saying anything stupid by mistake. She pressed her ankles against one another even tighter. She bowed her head and clasped her hands tight trying to ignore the mad woman yelling at her. This was not a place for Jodie to unleash any fury. Her primal instinct was to lash out and attack. If this was any other woman, Jodie would have unleashed a string of insults from a snake-like tongue., that Jodie was in the past, not this time. She was not going to let some elderly woman humiliate her in front of everyone in Saint Luke’s Cathedral, nor was she going to let herself be provoked that easily. “I will not react.” Her rebellious inner voice went on, “I will not react. It’s not worth it.” The nun could sense the torment within Jodie from where she stood. She too felt her chest tighten and her stomach shrink. All she could do was watch as she shook her head. “Now look what you’ve done. Everyone is looking at us. Now come on. Let’s go.” Martha tugged at Eveline’s arm one last time. “Let go, already. Fine.” She jerked her arm away “Humph!” She marched towards the main entrance. Martha sighed, she shook her head, Jodie opened her eyes to look at them. All Martha could do was mouth “Sorry about that, dear.” Then she hurried along to catch up with the friend who stormed out. One by one the onlookers in the cathedral went back to minding their own business. Jodie clasped her hands even tighter when she closed her eyes again. She felt her stomach shrink. Exhausted by the whole ordeal, she couldn’t get up. Her ankles loosened. She was out of breath with a sinking feeling in her stomach. Her breathing became frantic. All she could whisper was: “God help me.” As if the nun heard those very words, she walked over to Jodie and leaned in. “Are you alright, child?” Asked the nun in a soft tone. Jodie looked up at the nun, hoping for a bit of mercy. “I’m fine,” Jodie’s voice broke. She swallowed. “You did the right thing. You held firm. You are a lot stronger than you think.” “I didn’t do anything,” said Jodie. She was about to break down. “I’m beginning to think coming here was a mistake.” She was out of breath. “Not at all. You are in the right place.” She noticed Jodie’s hands desperately clasped together unable to let go. “And I can see you are trying to pray.” Jodie look at her hands. She gave out an awkward chuckle. She couldn’t release her hands. Her jaw began to tremble. “But... I don’t know how,” said Jodie. She bowed her head in shame, then shook her head. Her voice croaked fighting back her tears. All the muscles around her shoulders were tense, they began to ache. “It’s alright, child.” She placed one hand on Jodie’s shoulder and one on her back as she sat next to her. “It’s never too late.” She allowed a longer moment of silence to pass. This gave Jodie the much-needed break to inhale and then exhale. She felt weak. “Here, I will recite a prayer and you can follow me. Yes?” Jodie nodded. The nun’s soothing voice helped her relax a little, it helped loosen her hands. The world’s weight was lifted off her shoulders. The nun sat next to Jodie, looked ahead and placed her hands together in front of her as she looked forward and focused her eyes on the painting of Mary. Jodie sniffed, then placed her hands together gently as the nun did. The nun recited a prayer, slowly, one sentence at a time. Jodie repeated: Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Jodie let out a huge sigh of relief. She relaxed. All her inner demons were let out. They got up. “There,” said the nun, placing one hand one top of the other over her stomach. “Feeling better?” “Yes. Thank you,” said Jodie with a grateful smile. She wiped the tears from her eyes with her fingers. She held back her urge to put her arms around the nun to give her a big hug as a grandchild would hold her grandmother. Instead, she reached out her hand for a handshake. The nun took it with both hands. They felt warm. “May God be with you,” said the nun. As Jodie left the Cathedral, the nun watched. She drew a cross with her fingers and whispered to herself, “God bless you, child.”

*** That evening, Toby was at a Helix Fitness Gym. He was on the cardio machine. Wet with sweat. He had his eyes on the digital counters. So far he been on the cardio machine for 38 minutes. His initial goal was 30 minutes, but something made him go on. His heart was pounding against his chest. “Come on. Come on. Keep going.” He thought to himself. Pushing and pulling at the bars with his arms while he peddled with his legs. His joints were aching. Sweat ran down his face. His vest had dark wet patches all over it. The laces on his trainers were done up.

“Make it forty. Make it forty.” He said to himself. He watched each second on the digital counter. He had his wireless headphones over his head listening to motivational rock music to give him a boost. “Keep going.” He felt the pain the in his arm and his legs, he was out of breath. “Almost there.” There was immense tension in his muscles as if they had rubber bands tightly wrapped around each muscle, squeezing them tighter and tighter. “Come on! Come on! Come on!” His inner mantra went. The counter read: 39 minutes and 50 seconds. 10 seconds left... “10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… 0.” 40 minutes! “Yes!” He slammed a hand on the big red button on the the panel in front of him. He threw himself onto the panel to rest, panting, soaked in sweat. He did it. He did cardio for 40 minutes when 30 minutes was enough. Years ago his fatter self couldn’t havemanagetwo minutes. But tonight, he did twenty times that. He felt uplifted with a sense of achievement. “This is it Toby,” he said to himself. “If you want to get better you’ve got to raise standards. This is no time for settling for crap. You have one life. Do it now while you still can.” He took off his headphones and took out his plastic bottle from a rucksack to drink water from a plastic water bottle. A group of youths on the other side of the gym recognised Toby and approached him. “Hey Toby,” one called out. “Remember me? Of course not, you only know me by my screen name. I am BaboonBoom. From Brooks Box Live. We used to play online together.” “Oh. Huh. It’s been a long time.” Toby let out nervous laughter. He had almost forgotten what most of the people he played online with looked like. “What’s your real name anyway?” “It’s Terrence,” He was mixed-race and in his early twenties. His black and yellow cap was facing backwards and it matched his black and yellow trainers and tracksuits. He had a gold chain around his neck and came complete with black gym gloves. He’d shaven lines in his eye brows. He allowed a pause, then began his roasting. “Hey man, how come you don’t play anymore?” “I don’t have time. I have a multi-billion dollar business to run. Look at me. I’ve been overweight for so long if I carry on like this I won’t live much longer. I’ve got to take care of the business my dad built.” “Not even one hour for like… one match on ‘E-Football Manager’?” another youth whined. “I told you, I can’t!” Toby enforced it with a frown. “You chickening out?” asked Terrence in a mocking fashion. “No.” “You bailed out of a game midway, dude,” another youth added. “Yeah, what was so important you had to leave so suddenly?” another youth chimed in. “I told you, I’ve a business to run. It’s not as easy as you think.” “Bullshit. You can sit on your fat ass playing while everyone else is doing all the work making you money.” “I can’t do both,” said Toby. He sighed. “My gaming days are over. This company belongs to my dad and he gave it to me. I can’t let him down.” “Sure,” Terrence said sarcastically. “If he cares so much then why doesn’t he come back?” “Yeah, what’s he hiding for?” said another youth. “None of your business,” said Toby. “How about one game? Huh? Come on. Just one,” Terrence pushed one last time. “No. What do you want from me?” Toby confronted Terrence. “I just want you know that I have beaten every single game that has come out this year. I have more trophies than you now. Where are yours?” “I don’t have any.” Toby bowed his head as he shook in a sheepish manner. “Ha! How come?” “I don’t want them.” “Why? Because you’re no longer the champion? Because I am about to become what you used to be? Come on, man. You can do better than that.” “Yeah,” said Toby. “I’m in a game that is a lot bigger than what’s in the comfort of a living room. This is big. This is not a video game, it’s real life. You lose in one video game, there’s always another one. But I if I fuck this up my whole life will be over. This is what matters to me. In the future I will be making the games you’ll be playing. You’ll be on my platform. So you better watch yourself. You keep this up, I will delete your account and all your trophies.” “Oooooooooh!” The youths howled.

BabbonBoom had no comeback nor a threat to throw at Toby other than: “Fuck you, fat-ass. You can have all the money you want, but you ain’t getting laid.” “I already have.” “HA! With who?” “Dude, didn’t you know? He’s dating that Blue Eagle reporter… uh... What’s her name?” “Adee Lee,” Toby answered. “Oh yeah, that cute red head.” “No way!” “Ha! Hell no man, that relationship won’t last,” mocked Terrence. “As long as she loves me, she will stay with me.” “If,” smirked Terrence. “If.” He repeated it one more time before he chuckled at himself and walked away. The rest of the gang of youths joined in with his laughter.

Toby tightened his fists, gritting his teeth behind his firmly closed mouth. “If?” Toby thought, “If? I’ll give him ‘if’. If he doesn’t shut up I will grab that little dumbbell over there and smash his face with it– DON’T!” An inner voice intervened. “Control yourself. These kids can take out their phones and film you any minute. Don’t even think about doing anything stupid.” “I finally got one over on Toby Helix,” Terrence thought to himself. “See ya later, fat-ass,” he called out before he left the gym. The rest of the gang of youths laughed along with him as they followed him out. Toby watched as he waited for the group to disappear. His eyes burned with rage. “I could have punched the guy. Right here right now. But that would have got me into a lot of trouble. Arrested for assault. My brand would have taken a hit. My father would be very disappointed, he may not be around but he’ll know about it for sure.” But all he could let out was “Phew.” He wiped the sweat from his forehead. The tension in his shoulders eased off, his stomach felt contracted no more. He allowed himself to stagger towards a bench and sat down. He took his fitness gloves off and threw them on the floor as he leaned his head forward for a breather. His hands were wet, giving off a stench of sweat. He felt weak, as if all the energy was sucked out of him. “I did it,” he thought to himself. “I stayed out of trouble this time.” He drank the remaining water in his plastic water bottle and put it in his rucksack. He picked up his gym gloves and put them in his rucksack. He got up, pulled a towel from his rucksack and wiped off the sweat from his body, then threw it over his shoulder. He picked uphis rucksack and then headed for the exit. That was enough for one day. *** That night, Eric is driving home, tired from work. It had been a long day. But he wasn’t alone, Marie sat in the passenger seat next to him. Also tired from a long day. They took a glance at one another and then smiled. He breathed in the scent of the leather seats, the pine air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror, the petrol from the car, combined with her sweet scent. Something about this made him feel complete. He took his time as he drove home from work. There was no need to rush. The traffic wasn’t as busy as usual. Down the street he noticed a pub. He thirsted for a drink. His dry mouth salivated. “Drink. I’m thirsty.” He thought. “Then how will I drive home–No! Wait! … Nah.” He turned his head away from the pub and focused on the road. They stopped at traffic lights. Eric’s car was at the front. But he wasn’t alone. To his left, was some guy in a white Brooks Car, blasting his techno music so loud. He revved the engine. He challenged Eric to race. He revved his engine again. VRRROOOOMMMM VRRRROOOOOMMMM “Oh no.” Eric thought. “Not now. I am not racing. No way. Especially when I’m with Marie. I am not getting in trouble with the law again.” He tried not to look at the guy in the white car and focussed on the road in front of him. He tried to ignore the revving engine right next to his car. VRRRROOOMMMMM! VRRRROOOMMMMM! But it was impossible. It was too loud to ignore. Each rev made his lungs vibrate. “Nope.” He thought. “Nope... Nope…. No! I am NOT doing this.” Then his thoughts switched from himself to the world outside his car. “Are there people watching? If so, how many are there? Have they recognised me already? Are they taking pictures of my car? Are they recording me on their phones again?… Fuck!” He took in a deep breath as he briefly squeezed his eyes shut to take a quick inhale and then opened them. “Don’t look at them. Just stare at the road ahead. Fuck it. I ain’t doing this again.” His heart was beating so fat it was doing the racing for him. Marie watched his every move. His face. His eyes. With anticipation. “What’s he gonna do?” she thought. “Has he really changed? Is this all a facade? Is Eric lying when he tells me that he’s a changed man?” His eyes turned to look at the driver– “DAMN!” He turned his head to face the front again. He could have sworn the grinning guy at the wheel was yelling. “What’s wrong? You chicken?!” Mockingly laughing at him. Next to that driver was a blonde who looked like a supermodel. Eric recognised her. “Holy shit! An ex-girlfriend. From like…what… fuck knows how many years ago.” And she’s with him.Laughing at him. The couple gave off a hysterical laughter, like a couple of hyenas, challenging him to a race with their music blasting out of their car disrupting the peaceful and quiet drive Eric wanted with his girlfriend. His neck became stiff. He tried to calm himself down with another deep breath in and then out. It was almost impossible to hear oneself think with all that cacophony going on around him. But something made Eric turn to face Marie. Marie already had her eyes on him when his eyes turned to look at her briefly before switching back to the road. Her face was compassionate, but her eyes did all the talking. No... Not talking... WARNING. Her lips didn’t move. And yet she somehow telepathically spoke directly into Eric’s mind: “You better not, Eric. You better not.” The lights have been red for a while now, they were about to change any second. VRRRROOOOOMMMMM VRRRRROOOOMMMMMM VRRROOOMMM The loud engine next to Eric made his lungs vibrate again. Eric looked at the lights as he lights as he gritted his teeth behind his closed mouth. “Come on, change, damn you, CHANGE! Come on! Let’s get this over with.” His mind was a tornado of thoughts. “That driver thinks I’m a chicken. He’ll tell all his friends about it. Hey, I challenged Eric Helix to a race and he chickened out. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Ex-girlfriend will spread rumors about me. Online AND offline. Haha. He embarrassed himself in front of his girl. The cops. Jail time again. Where’s Dad? Helix motors. I will not fuck this up. Endless humiliation on social media. Marie’s watching you. The pub. The laughing hyenas in the other car.” His inner voice was thrashing about violently in mind. Combatting the demons in his mind, all he could repeat to himself. “Fuck off! Fuck off! FUCK OFF! FUUUUCK OOOOFFF!!!!” Green! The tires of the car emitted a loud screeching noise, desperately letting the whole city hear its screams.

But it wasn’t Eric’s car. It was the white the car. Smoke came out of the car’s exhaust pipe, burning rubber. The white car shot off with a ZOOM. Without even going a few blocks a police car burst out of an alleyway and gave chase. “Heh. Busted already. That bastard.” Eric chuckled to himself. His heart thumping against his chest like a big drum. Eric moved off at a steady speed, the muscles in his shoulders ached from the tension. “I bet Marie thinks I’m a real pussy now. Now the whole world knows that I chickened out of a race. It’s gonna be all over social media any minute. But god damn it, at least I still have my company. Helix Inc. My father’s legacy. I’m not going to jail. I’m clean. It’s over now.” But there was nobody around who recognised Eric. Instead the show was on the couple who got pulled over. A few people stood around to film them on their phones, laughing at them in a mocking way. Oblivious to Eric’s presence as he drove past. Eric’s hand was on the gear stick while the other was on the steering wheel. Then he felt a warm hand place on top of his, her soft pale skin sent a soothing energy that slowed down his heart rate. He began to relax. “I love you,” said Marie. He turned to look at her, he took her hand, and kissed the back of her hand as he looked into her blue eyes. His eyes and kiss said it all. “I love you too.” He didn’t need to say a word. They made their way home. Eric drove home in peace and quiet. Eric thought of something he’d read in prison: “Ego is man’s biggest enemy. A demon that seduces men as like an enticing woman, and the Heavens will throw everything at you to put you to the test to see if you succumb. Will you stand with Godly principles or will you submit to the devil? The choice is yours.” The Heavens tested Eric to his limit. He prevailed. He wanted a peaceful drive home with his girlfriend, and to have dinner with her.As ordinary as that may seem, it was a joyous occasion. His wish was granted. Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this chapter I think you'll love the rest of the book. To purchase a copy of my book, the link to amazon is here:

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