Although they sat evenly spaced around the meeting table, Artemis sensed the distance between herself and her co-workers. They shared laughs and smiles about a new video game, while Artemis impatiently studied the door, her leg shaking. As she huffed crankily, Mr. John Flemming, a balding man with a stain on his shirt strolled in and plopped down across from Artemis.
“Good morning,” he said. Artemis barely acknowledged him, as if a used ketchup packet.
Mr Whimsy, her boss, entered and Artemis sat up expectantly. He stood tall wearing a sharp suit with a pile of pure snow on his head. He stood out from all the casually dressed younger adults in the room.
“We have just received some wonderful news,” he said. “Nike has just asked us, along with Smiley Programing and Virtus to redesign their website.”
Artemis smiled crookedly, while John bit the inside of his lip nervously and everyone else gaped at each other, jaws dangling.
“After looking at the options, Nike will decide which design to choose from. As I’m sure you are aware, if one of our designs is chosen, this will be a gigantic leap for us. That is why I want you to give all the projects you are currently working on to others, and focus purely on this new project. Feel free to work in pairs or teams. Everyone will get equal rewards if your design is chosen.
“I am sorry this big opportunity has come at the end of my leadership, but it has not changed my decision to retire. How you preform on this project will have a lot to do with whom I choose to take my place.” At this Artemis’s eyes glistened. “As you will remember, we have a mandatory conference coming up on managing a computer programing firm.” Artemis barely listened to the rest of the meeting. Her mind was already in front of her computer, planning and designing. Her job fit her like a computer case but having control over an entire company at the same time would fit her even more. Everything would finally be the way it was supposed to be.
A few minutes after she reached her computer, John materialized behind her and examined her computer screen. She could smell the alcohol on his breath which reminded her of her father and put her in a worse mood than usual.
“I guess, we will be neighbors during the conference,” He said.
“Hm,” Said Artemis.
“So, how’s your project going?” He asked.
“Well,” she said. Formalities rarely escaped her thin lips.
“I was just wondering if you wanted to share ideas about-”
“Alrighty,” he said, as he backed out of the cubicle to glean any good ideas for a website design from the occupant of the next cubicle. As Mr. Whimsy walked past Artemis said,
“I thought you were going to fire him.”
“I was, I am, but I’m just waiting for the right time.”
“It will be soon, I promise. There are just some difficulties I have to deal with. You understand.”
“Actually, I don’t,” she said.
“Sometimes people just need a little help and a little slack.”
“If people need help it’s because they have been lazy. Anyone could make it on their own with some determination.” ‘I should know’ she thought as images popped into her head of a teenage clerk at midnight studying calculus while no one was around.
But this week she worked even harder than usual. The possibility of running her own firm kept her welded to her computer. Only when she knew she could no longer think clearly was she able to tear herself away. At the end of the week, Artemis approached Mr. Whimsy.
“I don’t want to go to this conference. I want to stay and work on the project,” she said.
“I really want you to go to this conference. I have heard so many good things about the speakers and you will learn so much about managing a business,” he said.
“That’s what I went to college for.”
“Artemis, if you want to take my place you have to go to this conference.”
As Artemis grumpily packed up her belongings, she quickly glanced around to make sure Mr. Whimsy was not nearby and then slipped her work computer into her with backpack. Although she wouldn’t be able to work at rustic cabin with no Internet or electricity, she at least wanted to have it with her.
After packing a few outfits and making sure her revolver was in the glove compartment, she pulled into the office parking lot of the resort.
“I reserved a cabin for Artemis West.” she said
“Ah, yes. Cabin number 2. If you will just fill out this form. Hmmm. It seems there is only one key. Usually we give our customers two. I’ll try to locate the second one. I’m sorry,”
Artemis grunted in response. “Well, I hope everything meets your satisfaction. We only have two cabins right now, but we are planning to expand.” Artemis nodded and walked out the door.
The gravel crinkled and popped as Artemis pulled in front of the small, stone cabin. She lugged several large bags and dropped them on the wooden floor. A small spring bed with a scratchy looking green blanket stood in one corner, a rickety wooden chair in another corner and a fire place across from the door.
“No wonder it was so cheap.”
Artemis passed the two days quickly with a semi busy schedule, going from meetings to lectures. She finished off the second to last day with a run, and then took a look at the schedule for the last day. It would be a slow day with only one more lecture at lunchtime. When she reached her cabin, she turned her back to it so she could keep an eye on the forest while she stretched. The breeze over caused goosebumps to form over her sweaty body. Suddenly, the beads of sweat on the grass near her face were illuminated by a white light from behind her. But almost immediately, the darkness muffled the beads again. She hopped up to see a white circle skipping from window to window in her cabin. Artemis quickly tip-toed to the door and placed her ear against the wood panels. Despite her audible breathing, a faint rustling could be heard from inside. She looked at her phone: no reception. She raced to the car and pulled out her gun. She eased her key into the keyhole and swung the door wide open aiming the gun at the dark room’s corner.
“Wait, It’s me, John.”
“What are you doing here?” Artemis said, gun still in the air.
“The-the clerk gave me the key to your cabin, so I was going to drop it off, but I didn’t want to just leave it outside so I thought I’d leave it on the table. I was just writing a note of explanation.” he said, pointing to a key on the table.
“Well, get out,” Artemis said lowering her gun slightly. “And next time I’d rather you keep the key, than snoop around in my cabin.” Artemis said.
“Sorry, sorry,” he said as he backed out of the cabin.
“Well, if you need me, I’ll be down the road to the right a couple miles,” he said, as she shut the door, forcing him outside.
The next morning she slept in till 7:00. After eating a protein bar, Artemis pulled out a copy of Making the most of Your Time by Paul Sanders, which she had planned to read in her free time. She grabbed a highlighter and settled into the wooden chair for some self improving.
“The most important thing to remember is make time for what you love.” Artemis slammed the book in disgust. Sentimental mush, she thought.
Feeling stressed by the dust and small cobwebs, Artemis cleaned the small cabin till it was operation room ready.
Well, at least I can get some more exercise. But should I leave my computer here?
Artemis hid the computer in her car under the seat. She was sure no one would have a key to her car or would even think to look in the car for valuables. And if it was stolen, she had a tracking device.
As Artemis ran, she felt a chill behind her mousy brown ponytail, as if someone was breathing down her neck. She whipped around but saw no one. ‘Get yourself together,’ she thought as she rubbed the back of her neck.
Trying to get rid of the feeling that someone was watching her, she went over her design for the millionth time.
While coming across a river, Artemis splashed in for an arm and leg workout. After the chilly workout, Artemis headed toward her cabin to get ready for the lecture. As she stood dripping in front of her door, she fished around in her backpack for the keys but could not find them. Growing irritated she pulled everything out of the bag piece by piece, but her keys were not there.
Mr. Flemming? She thought. Surely not. Although he is stupid, I don’t think is is brave enough to be involved illegally. They must have fallen out somewhere. She looked around her cabin for open windows but she didn’t find any so she picked up a twig and unsuccessfully tried to pick a lock. Her car keys unfortunately hung on the same ring as the keys to the cabin she would need to be at the conference soon. She would have to hitch a ride with John. But she found his cabin empty and his car gone.
She ran back to her cabin and found her door wide open and all her property strewn across the floor. She looked through the window into her car to see her computer wasn’t there.
“Mr. Flemming!” she thought. Artemis slammed her fist on car and sprinted to the check-in place.
“Has Mr. Flemming checked out yet?” she yelled as she staggered in.
“Yes, ma’am. He checked out earlier this morning.”
“Make sure no one steals my property. I will pick them up in a few days. Right now, drive me to the nearest car rental place, Quickly!”
The man looked stunned but quickly did as told, and Artemis was soon on the road. Artemis parked across the street and grabbed the gun from her backpack. She walked around her place of work to the parking lot, and saw one car, Mr. Fleming’s. As she approached the car from the back, she saw Mr. Flemming’s face slightly illuminated by two computer screens.
“He’s transferring all my work to his computer!
She knocked on the window and Mr. Flemming jumped violently as his eyes grew wide and then fell with disappointment. As he slowly opened the door, Artemis snatched away her computer.
“And my keys.” Artemis said. As Mr. Flemming reluctantly pulled the keys from his pocket a gold band also fell to the ground. She stared at it
“I didn’t know you were married,” she heard herself saying as though it was someone else.
“Yeah, well she found someone else,” he said.
Artemis’s mind washed away John’s face, along with the dried mustard above his mouth, and she only saw her dad.
“I guess this must be a pretty good day for you,” he said. “You will definitely be chosen in Mr. Whimsy’s place, you won’t have to deal with me anymore since Mr. Whimsy is going to let me go and your design will be the one chosen. It’s really good.”
Artemis picked up the gold band and placed it into John’s hand. “Yeah, I think our project has a pretty good chance. Give me some more thoughts on it, inside.”