[The Project][Part 8]


Mave knocked twice on the door before opening it and walking in; the antic she walked in to amused her slightly. Her subordinates were rushing around tables and hitting keys on one keyboard and then another; their movements were hurried and sporadic. Mave just stood near the door and watched, outwardly unamused, as Steven stapled a small package of papers together and Ashlee moved from one computer to the next, selecting new programs to run before raising their heads to see who entered the room. “We’re almost ready, but we’re not done yet. You’re earlier than what you said in your email,” Steven said very matter-of-factly, insubordination in his tone.

“Obviously I know that,” Mave said strictly. “Do you really think I would not want to read what you have prepared prior to presenting it to my superiors? Perhaps I need to consider finding more intelligent techs to replace the dense ones I already have.”

“Mave please, we have been working on narrowing the lists you wanted but they’re massive to begin with,” Ashlee said, leaving the last computer to begin processing. She grabbed off her desk a neatly stapled stack of papers and a red pen, which she handed to Mave. “These are ready for you to look at for your approval. It outlines the progress we’ve made in the listed databases and the action plan for where we’re going to move to next, and how we’re going to narrow the lists down further.”

Mave took the materials from Ashlee, gazed over it in passing before adding, “’we?’ Interesting that these tasks have your ID number on the time stamps and yet I gave both of you these to complete.” She looked over to Steven who was still rushing whatever task he should have accomplished with patience and accuracy days prior to her email. “And what have you been accomplishing Steven? Because by the looks of things all you have done is take up space and waste my time and resources.”

Steven’s face flushed red in anger and embarrassment from being told of his inadequacies by a woman, who was younger than him as well as in a higher professional position than him. “I have done plenty for this Mave. Maybe if you actually told us what we were working on, I’d be more willing to put more effort in to it,” he said, voice tense and straining not to raise his voice. He rose from behind his desk and handed Mave his own stack of stapled papers that was considerably lighter than Ashlee’s.

“And making sure you have continued employment is not motivation enough? I will be sure to take that in to consideration during my meeting later, if the topic of your use of resources is mentioned or the potentially reallocating my resources.” Mave had zero tolerance for Steven’s excuses because she had always known him to be a man who craved commendation on whichever assignment he was given, no matter how small. The belief was that being paired with the overly ambitious and young Ashlee would prompt him to excel but apparently not. Mave began using the red pen Ashlee gave her to add notes to Steven’s papers, crossing out entire paragraphs as though he was submitting a high school paper. She sighed loudly in a disappointed manner, shaking her head while putting the pen down on one of the tables. Mave shuffled around the pages she was given and held out the low priority files towards Ashlee.

“When the lists you’re working on now are completed, I need you to contact these individuals to come in to be interviewed. There is a list of questions you must ask in the top folder, and remember that all the interviews must be videotaped. Do you understand?” Ashlee nodded quickly in response to Mave. “Email if you have any questions or need guidance on how to proceed further. I am due upstairs soon. Goodbye.” With that final salutation, Mave left the office without waiting for a further response from either subordinate.

“Well that went well,” Steven stated, voice laced with sarcasm and distrust for his superior. “One of these days that woman is going to get hers. She’s not going to get away with talking to me like that.” Nonetheless, he continued working on his assignments and preparing the next step from there. Steven was not in that rage-induced state of worrying over one’s employment and reluctantly speeding up his work ethic.

Ashlee’s sweet and quiet demeanor quickly vanished and turned to impatient hostility towards her work partner. “Perhaps if you didn’t piss off our boss every chance you got, we’d know what it is we’re working towards. Now shut up and take half of these files.”

Mave stood outside the elevator doors again, waiting for it to make the lock trek back down to the fourth floor. She was contemplating how to phrase her disappointment in her lesser subordinate, and the full cooperation in replacing him with an individual of greater value. She could assure all involved that his knowledge of the Project was beyond limited, consisting of nothing further than massive non-specific lists of hearing-related citizens and just as non-specific pile of individuals who needed to be asked a list of seemingly random questions. The purpose of the Project would remain safely hidden.

The elevator door opened in from of Mave and she walked in, hitting the button for the 75th floor. She took a deep breath and watched the ascending floor numbers light up as the elevator brought her closer to judgment. She shuffled her papers and files and straightened for outfit, but something still nagged at her. She felt calm and prepared, as much as she could be considering how little notice she had. Perhaps that was what was bothering her so much, the fact that this request come so suddenly, especially after she spent all night in the office…

No one knew I spent all night in my office, even those watching the building’s own security cameras would not have been paying that much attention to notice her movements or lack of in leaving the building or staying.

A sickening twist began clawing in the pit of her stomach. Only one person knew, only one person spoke to her and closed his office door before she received the email. Was the why he closed his door? Could he be a bigger player in the company, just hiding on another floor so he could keep an eye on employees? Was Kayden there to keep an eye on me? And I insulted him too!

The elevator bell dinged and the doors opened to the lobby of the 75th floor. A man stood there, waiting for her.


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