A Short Story by: Susan R.
A middle aged man had worked all his life in order to get into upper management. He continued on the journey of his entire working career to be reach this moment to obtain such a prestigious title that he had earned. He realized the more years that passed, the more knowledge he would need to expand in order to become more successful as the younger generation entered his world. One summer day, he began work at a different location of the business he worked.
He had moved to the rural southern community in hopes of even more success because he was sure that all the experience he had cultivated throughout the years would guide him into a position of more authority. He arrived at his new place and quickly became terrified as he saw that the new business relied so much on computers and technology, something he had very little experience with. He drove home that evening with fear in his heart that he didn’t know what he would do in order to keep up with the ever changing world. Just as he became deep in thought, he heard a loud “POP” and his car swerved to the side of the road. He had gotten a flat tire.
As he got out of the car, taking off his jacket, and went to the back of his car, he let out a sigh and mumbled, “Just a perfect end to a perfect day.” He noted sarcastically.
He was too busy putting the new tire on his car and did not notice a dark, cloaked figure coming from over the golden fields. The stranger walked stealthily up behind him, smiling wickedly.
“Are you having a bit of trouble there, my friend?” the stranger asked.
The man let out a heavy sigh, wiping the sweat from his brow, nodding, “You don’t even know the half of it.” He told the stranger.
“Might I lend you a hand there?” The stranger offered.
“Oh its quite alright, I’m almost done.” The man said. “But if you can tell me how I can learn more about this crazy world of technology and computers, that’d be just fantastic.”
“It’s knowledge that you seek is it, my friend?” The dark wanderer asked.
The man nodded, not thinking anything of it and began to put away his tools. “Oh that would be great. But yeah, I have to learn all these new things at my job and don’t know the half of it, really. And, I don’t even know why I’m telling you this to be quite honest.” The graying man noted.
“Well, I guess I just have one of those faces. I tell you what, I can help you out there. I can give you all the knowledge that you yearn for. All that you desire. If you promise me just one simple thing in return.”
The grey haired man looked at him skeptically. He couldn’t believe what this man was saying to him but he was very intrigued by his proposal. He leaned against his vehicle and tilted his head to the side, “Alright, what is that I need to promise you in return?”
“You have to promise me that in giving you such knowledge that you will give credit where it is due and to not take the gift I give you lightly. You have to make sure that you treat everyone around you fairly and know that I am always watching you. If you can do this simple thing, you may have the knowledge that you seek. However, if you fail to do this simple task and fulfill this promise, then the consequences will be very harsh.”
“Is that all I need to do?”
The stranger stood tall above the mortal man and nodded. “That is all I require. You treat others justly and humbly. If you do not, then I assure you, things will become problematic for you, indeed.”
The man leaned on his car and arched a brow, crossing his arms. He thought and realized that he could treat people well enough. He concluded that the proposition was incredibly feasible and nodded, “I can do this. Sure, I accept your deal.”
The dark cloaked man walked closer to him and put his hands on the man’s forehead. The man looked alarmed, “What are you doing?”
“Just relax, I am giving you the knowledge in which you seek.” The dark stranger replied.
After the stranger gave the power to the man, he bided him farewell and the man drove off. He shook his head as he thought about what just happened. He didn’t think anything of it and was still a bit unconvinced about everything.
When he arrived at work the next day, he sat at his manager’s desk and looked at the intimidating computer programs to generate tasks for his employees and times to meet. He studied everything that was in front of him for a moment and then he began to enter in the proper commands without thinking about it. It finally occurred to him that he understood precisely what was in front of his eyes. He began to smile gleefully as he became flawless in his work.
The days, weeks, and months passed by as he continued to enjoy his new found intelligence. However, the more time flew, the more rough he would get toward his co-workers. He became more impetuous and considerably more discourteous. Unbeknownst to him, the stranger stood by invisibly watching what was happening day by day.
As the business began to pick up around springtime, the more difficult the work would turn out to be. A coworker and subordinate of the middle aged man came into the office to inquire if he had a plan for the day’s business on how to generate the tasks necessary. She looked over the man’s shoulder to take a peek but found that he had no plan at all. The man slowly turned his head around to see her looking and covered up the paper. “Why don’t you go to the floor or something?” The man said with an exhausted tone.
“I thought I’d lend a hand to you if that’s alright. I have a few ideas that may be helpful.” She said gently.
“Look, I know what I’m doing here. I don’t need your help. I got this covered, I just need you to go out there.” He said rather harshly.
The young girl just nodded her head. Sure, she knew that she was just an hourly supervisor but she did know the work and how to get it accomplished. She turned heel to leave the office and closed the door behind her. The sadness in her eyes from being talked down to would be obvious to anyone watching, but of course the man did not notice. He hadn’t realized the way he spoke to her awhile now.
The dark stranger came out of his invisibility and walked over to the man, placing a hand on his shoulder. The middle aged manager snapped, “I said to leave.”
The cloaked stranger cleared his throat ominously and said, “Now, now, is that any way to talk to someone that tried to help you?”
Instantly the man gulped and felt his heart skip a beat deep within his chest. He closed his eyes and turned around to meet the eyes of the dark cloaked stranger who had been the reason he had so much knowledge. He remembered the promise he made him.
“You know, I don’t believe I ever gave you my name. Its Justice.” He finally introduced himself as he took a seat. “Now, I remember that when I gave you this power that you promised me, my friend, that you would treat people compassionately.”
“Listen, you don’t understand the pressure I’m under. I have a lot of things I have to deal with and a lot of work. I need to get this finished so if you don’t mind, would you care to leave?” The man stated defensively.
Justice stood up, placing his hands on his hips as he spoke, “No, you listen. I have been watching you, just as I promised, and through the months I have noticed each day that you are getting worse. You don’t care about those around you. You got what you wanted but at what cost to those around you?”
The man sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, “I could be nicer I admit but all that girl does is meddle into my business and she..she…”
“She’s been trying to help you ever since she’s been working with you. You can’t fool me. I know what’s been going on, the way you fault others when you do make an error, and now justice will be dealt out. You wanted knowledge and I will show you how far you’ve come.”
Justice turned the man around and put his hand on the computer, pulling up all the information over the course of time in which he had given him the gift of knowledge. He showed him how well production had been going and how much it had grown since. Then, he used his powers to show video of how he treated not just the girl, but of everyone in the office over the course of time he had gotten into upper management. He went from being tolerable to just utterly callous. Justice let him see exactly what he had done.
As the man watched everything, he cried out, “Oh, I am so sorry. Please, forgive me.”
Justice put his hand on the man’s head and forced him to watch. “You have not kept your end of the bargain and you can see exactly what you’ve done. I told you the consequences would be harsh, my friend. As far as forgiving you, my name is not Mercy.”
“Wh…what are you going to do with me?” The man asked with a tremble in his voice.
Justice took his hand off the man’s head and off the computer and stepped away from the man who had not one meek bone in his body. He knew he was only remorseful because of the terror of what would happen to him. Justice stood at the door way with his eyes holding the other man’s pathetic stare.
“You will get exactly what you gave to everyone else, in full, and seven fold over.”
And with that, the gray haired man found himself on the other side of the desk and Justice had been served.
Credits: Photo is used from the following website http://enigmaticon.deviantart.com/art/Angel-of-Justice-180844122