To his dismay, Jo Sef (Nanah Cub’s given name while residing in The
Dimension of Barbarik) had been born with a shocking distinction from the other inhabitants of Barbarik. He had been “cursed”
with a head topped with unruly, flaming red hair! Hair that could be seen from a great distance. Hair that was startling!
Hair that was, well, not inconspicuous. Other Barbarikians had hair that was blue, black, brown, yellow or green and all the
shades in-between. But not one other Citizen in The Dimension of Barbarik had red hair such as his! At times in his life it
would become imperative that Jo Sef remain inconspicuous so that he could easily blend into a crowd. That was possible if
he had his hair concealed beneath a cap for he was of average height and build, but without that concealment it
was an absolute impossibility.
When Jo Sef was young, his hair was a constant source of embarrassment to
him. At one point he had come to strongly suspect that he was the epitome of repulsiveness, that he was a total freak. Why
shouldn’t he feel that way? That’s what some of his schoolmates at The Club for Young Citizens had called
him to his face. Freak.
Jo Sef’s mother in The Dimension of Barbarik had told him that it was
not other Barbarikians’ appraisal of his significance that he should be concerned with, that it was he alone who was
responsible for realizing his own true worth. She told him not to allow other Barbarikians’ mediocre expectations of
him to become his reality. She told him that no one could ever make him feel inferior without his consent. She told him that
he was unique. She encouraged him, praised him and congratulated him. She told him how proud she was of him and that
there was no one else like him in the entire Dimension of Barbarik (she got that part right).
Jo Sef’s Barbarik father told him not to take any crap from
anyone. Jo Sef was instructed to speak out in defense of his character and customs when necessary and he was also instructed
to defend himself if physically threatened. His father had set up a proxy fighter in the cellar of their home so that his
children would become proficient in self-defense. He insisted that Jo Sef and his two older brothers practice each day trying
to conquer it. Later Jo Sef’s little sisters would get their chance to challenge it.
During the first few years of encounters with the proxy fighter Jo Sef had
come away from the practice sessions bruised, sore and stiff. But eventually he was able to every time get the best of the
proxy fighter, a feat which even his older brothers were unable to accomplish. He had learned to duck, weave and dodge when
the fast punches and kicks were aimed his way and he learned how to get in his own punches and kicks in just the right place
and with just the right amount of force to score the points needed to come out the victor of each fighting session. Many years
later his littlest sister, Soo Zee, would demonstrate a startling proficiency in that arena also.
Jo Sef’s father was adamant that he and his brothers spend a portion
of time in this activity each day. Once upon returning home after a short absence Jo Sef’s father asked him and his
brothers each individually if they had spent the required time each day with the proxy fighter while he had been away.
He first asked Buk Lee, the oldest, if he had practiced every day that he had been gone. Buk Lee hesitantly
said, “Yes, Father, I did.” Then Jo Sef’s father asked Al Lex if he had practiced every day that
he had been gone. Al Lex looked at Buk Lee and then at Jo Sef and answered, “Yes, of course I did, Father.”
Then Jo Sef was asked if he had faithfully fought with the proxy fighter each day that he had been away. Jo Sef looked his
father directly in the eye and boasted, “Yes, I did, and I was the victor every time!”
Soon after that their father asked Jo Sef to please go and see who was at
the main entry door. Jo Sef replied that he had not heard the guest announcement chimes but his father insisted. So Jo Sef
went to answer the door while his brothers and father looked on. He swung the narrow but heavy door open wide. His father
had been correct, there was indeed someone at the door. Someone with dull, lifeless eyes, four arms instead of two and
two strong legs ending with big menacing feet, one of which swiftly kicked Jo Sef in the one place where he would least liked
to be kicked! He doubled over in agony and crumpled to the floor. Buk Lee and Al Lex's mouths were hanging wide
open and their eyes were round with shock. It was their proxy fighter!
Their father informed them that it had been at the proxy repair shop to be
serviced while he was away, therefore none of them could have practiced with it for any amount of time on any of the days
that he had been gone. That evening each brother was excused from their daily session with the proxy fighter. Instead they
each spent a fair amount of “quality” time in combat with their father. The brothers never again missed a scheduled
proxy fighter practice and never did they forget the valuable lesson they had learned on the virtue of honesty.
It was about this time that Charismatic Leader was sustained as ruler
of The Dimension of Barbarik. And it was about this time that a grim shadow began to creep insidiously over the land.