Author note: This is an older story that I dug up because I was sick last week. This is technically Chapter Four but stands on its own.
Tales of JOBCo
Vikki and the Dwarves Job
“Thank you and have a good night,” Vikki said handing the last customer of the night her bag of cookies. She turned off the lights in the display cases at Jolly Ole Biscuit Company and put up the closed sign. Everyone in the mall called it “the cookie store” but it was really just a counter with glass display cases and a baking area in the back.
Jesse, her co-worker for the night, was already putting away the unsold cookies. Tonight had been Vikki’s first time working with her. She was just few inches taller than her own 5′ 6″, with brown hair, and a slim build that hid how strong she was. She had been standoffish at first but over the evening she had seemed to warm up to Vikki.
“You’re not what I thought you would be,” Jesse said wiping the counters while Vikki cleaned the soda fountain.
“What did you expect?” Vikki asked.
“Well, I thought you’d be more intimidating.”
“Intimidating? Why would you think that?” Vikki asked.
“Well, I mean, I just thought being what you are… I just assumed that you’d be more… grrr,” Jesse made a snarling face and held her hands up like claws, “You know?”
Did Jesse know she was a…? She couldn’t know. Could she? Vikki faked a smile, “Is this about that mob on Monday?”
“No, well kind of, but you know what forget I said that. I should know better than than to buy into stereotypes.”
Jesse stopped cleaning and walked over to Vikki. She folded and unfolded the towel in her hands as she spoke. “So, I know we just met today and we don’t really know each other very well but,” Jesse took a breath and the sound of rustling leaves, creaking branches and whistling wind came from her mouth.
Vikki stared for a second and then said, “What?”
Jesse once again spoke but this time Vikki heard, “Will you [rustling leaves] through the [snapping twigs] with me and [birds chirping] from harm?”
“I don’t understand what you’re say.”
“Will you walk through the forest with me and keep me from harm?” Jesse said plainly.
Forest? Did she mean the park? Vikki lived on the other side of the park bordering the mall so it wouldn’t be out of her way. “Um, you mean tonight after work?” she asked.
“Uh, sure,” Vikki said.
After work, Jesse led her in a winding path along the the park trails. Every time they approached the edge of the park, Jesse took the trail back into the park.
“Um, hey, do you know where you’re going?” Vikki asked.
“Yes, it’s just a little bit farther,” Jesse said over her shoulder.
“Ok, it’s just that we’ve been walking around in the park for half an hour and-”
“Here it is,” Jesse said stepping off the paved path onto a dirt one that led into a small grove of trees.
“Wait, where are you going?” Vikki asked Jesse’s rapidly retreating back.
Jesse stopped, turned, and said, “I’m going to the forest. You said you would walk with me.”
“Ok I said that but I thought you just wanted to walk home. Is this going to take long?”
“No time at all,” Jesse said with a smile, “Come on.” She turned around and began walking. Vikki hesitated but she had said she would walk with her, so she followed.
The trees began to grow closer around the path and the underbrush wildly thick. They walked for several minutes, much longer than Vikki thought it would take to walk through the grove she had seen from the paved path.
The path widened, opening up into a small clearing around the gnarliest tree Vikki had seen. The trunk was several feet across, covered in knots and twisted like a rung out rag. Its bare branches were like snakes bursting out and over the clearing. The tree’s bark was dull lifeless gray.
Jesse walked up to the tree and placed her hand on it, “Stand behind me and place your hand over mine. And do not remove it until I tell you to.” Vikki looked at her puzzled. “Come on we don’t have all night,” Jesse said. Continue reading