The bugle was hard to ignore, as I opened my eyes and slowly crawled out of bed. After clearing the metaphorical webs out of my eyes, I got my bearings and remembered the situation and stood up to dress for the day.
"Breakfast is ready," Mr. Parsons called out from the floor below. "Get dressed for outdoor activity and be down to eat in five minutes!"
Aware of what was ahead, I put something more casual to wear. A pair of skinny jeans and a shirt seemed more appropriate for the day. I looked over at Josh and the bugle had failed to wake him up. I gazed over at the desk and his laptop was there, along with a few empty cans. He had brought a six pack of his favorite energy drink and some of had been consumed, which told me everything I needed to know. He had been up most of the night writing. It's obvious Josh was inspired after witnessing and mildly participating the confrontation at the table last night. Conflict usually spurs him along, and it appears the previous day was no different. I had considered waking him up, but thought against it. Since he was working, he deserved to sleep in as a reward. As I descended down the stairs, I could see Mr. Parsons at the bottom with his bugle and smiling at me as I came down.
"Cute," I said to him as I reached the bottom of the staircase. "Unfortunately, writers who were up all night are immune to its effects."
"Oh really?" Mr. Parson said, as he looked ready to try again.
"Let him be," I said to him, "If he was working, he should be allowed to get some rest."
"Was he working?" Mr. Parsons asked.
"I believe so," I replied, "Josh only downs his energy drinks when he wants to stay awake. He only does that when he's getting some good work done. If there's nothing coming, he'll just let sleep creep up and consume him for the night."
"Okay, that makes sense." Mr. Parsons said, putting the bugle down to his side. "We'll let him skip the hike if he's been working too."
"Sounds good to me," I said, in full agreement. "Odds are he might use the solitude to get even more work finished as well."
"Get some grub," the boss repeated, "You'll need the energy."
"Yes, Sir." I said before breaking away and strolling into the kitchen.
I noticed both Jimbo and Nicholas were already in the kitchen, eating and chattering. They obviously knew what was going on so I took a seat and waited for breakfast to be served. After Jimbo brought over my plate, I spoke up.
"Thanks, Jim." I started, "What is going on that we will need our energy for it?"
"Looks like a team building activity." Jimbo replied.
"Oh dear god," I said, muffling my complaints with scrambled eggs and crispy bacon.
"I'm afraid so," Nicholas added. "We're taking hike, and that will take most if not all day to do."
"Do we have to do this?" I asked.
"That depends," Jimbo replied, "Do you want to remain employed?"
"Shit," I said, sighing deeply. "I was afraid of this. He wants us all to bond."
"I realize human interaction is your kryptonite," Nicholas said, "But Mr. Parsons seems rather vocal about getting everyone out there to bond and connect."
"I was afraid he'd be that kind of boss." I admitted, "But it could worse."
"Of course it could," Jimbo added, "He could always be a skirt chaser."
"I know," I said, trying to keep my insincere thoughts to myself.
"Finish up," Nicholas said, "He wants to take off sooner than later."
"Is Josh coming down?" Jimbo asked.
"He's not." I answered, "He was up all night working. He does that when inspired. He'll be asleep till noon."
"Fair enough," Jimbo said, as he turned off the stove top. There was no one else to cook for.
Things were rather silent after that as the people present continued to eat and fuel up on caffeine spiked java until the boss finally strolled into the room. He appeared to be all smiled as he was very excited at the day they had planned.
"Is everyone ready to hike?"
"As ready as I'll ever be." I answered.
"Yes, Sir!" Jimbo said, as he appeared just as excited.
"We're going to get started in fifteen minutes!" Mr. Parsons continued, "So get what you need and be ready to go. Once we take off there will be no turning back so make sure you don't forget the essentials."
"Alright," I said, almost dreading what was to come but accepting there was no choice. All employees had to participate if they wanted to remain under contract I guess. Then there was the promotion that was still up in the air. This hike was clearly the boss' new way of judging the contenders and finding out what we had in us.
After I finished breakfast, I went back upstairs to make sure I wore something more appropriate for the big hike. I put on some cargo pants that were lighter than jeans and didn't chafe as much. Comfort was going to be important out there, especially with all the walking ahead. I also wore a long sleeve sweartshirt, to protect my arms from bugs.
As I changed into the new threads, I looked over at Josh who was still snoring on the bed. He hadn't moved an inch since the bugle went off. A heard of elephants could have stampeded by and he wouldn't even open his eyes. He was dead to the world, and as much as I wanted to just crawl back in and cuddle with him, I had commitments. I want this promotion, and if taking a cheesy hike with the boss helped, then I was going to hike my ass off.
"See you when I get back," I whispered to Josh before leaving the room.
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