Artemis was shaking as he hid under the desk in his parents’ office, biting his lip to keep himself from making any noise. His mother hadn’t come to get him yet like she’d promised she would and he was starting to worry that the bad man who’d hurt his father had done something to her too.
Artemis was sitting with his knees to his chest, arms wrapped around a folder his mother had asked him to keep safe. He had no idea what was even in it, but if his mother wanted it kept safe from the bad man, then that’s what he was going to do. He thought he could smell something burning, but the fireplace in the office wasn’t lit, he’d seen it when he’d come into the room, so he decided he’d just imagined the smell.
He heard someone call his name and he doubted the bad man knew his name, so Artemis thought maybe it was safe now. He moved slowly as he came out from under the desk, freezing when he saw a tall, tired-looking man with brown hair standing in the office doorway. He was dressed in dark clothes with what Artemis had a feeling was a gun on his belt and a knife in one hand.
“Ah, you must be Artemis.” The man said, his mouth slowly twisting into a smile. Artemis shivered when he saw it, the smile anything but friendly looking.
“Why don’t you come over here and give me that file you’ve got there Artemis?” The man said his voice soft, but unsettling at the same time.
He shook his head, hugging his parents’ folder closer to his chest. “Can’t. My mére said not to let any of you bad men have it.”
The man let out a cold sounding laugh, shaking his head. “Ah, I see your mother taught you well. But I am not a bad man. See, I worked with your mother and father…you don’t think they’re bad, do you?”
“No…” Artemis shook his head before pouting, confused. He didn’t remember ever seeing the man before, so he wasn’t sure if he was lying or not.
He never really saw any of the people his parents worked with, besides Vincent, his nephew and the Trudeaus, who had a teenaged son that sometimes talked to Artemis and his brother. Normally while their parents worked, Artemis and Jacen were sent to play or one of their nannies or Vincent would look after them.
“Come on Artemis, be a good boy now and bring that folder over here to me…”
“Uh-uh. We always get told not to go near strangers unless mama or papa or Vincent is with us and they say it’s okay.” Artemis replied, stubbornly shaking his head.
“Well your mummy and daddy aren’t here!” The man snapped, rolling his eyes when Artemis whimpered, taking a step back from him. “Just give me the file.”
He’d already given up on being nice, seeing as it wasn’t getting him anywhere. The man had no patience with children. He went to step closer to Artemis, but paused when thunder rumbled outside, having returned after fading away earlier. Smirking when he heard Artemis whimper, the man stepped closer to him.
“Aww, what’s the matter Artemis? Is mama’s little boy afraid of the storm?” He grinned as Artemis moved away again, ending up with his back against the desk. “But there’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s just a rumble, growing ever louder as the storm gets closer and becoming a deafening crack once it gets close enough to your home…oh and then there’s the lightning, the blinding flash that joins the thunder sometimes striking trees or houses and starting fires…”
“No! Stop it!” Artemis whimpered, holding the folder in front of his face, hiding the tears in his eyes from the man. He jumped when he heard thunder again, making an upset sound when he heard the man laugh at him, hating that this man could tell he was scared, but laughed instead of helping him like his mother or Vincent would.
He shut his eyes tight when lightning flashed. He thought he smelled fire again and wondered if the man was magic like in some of the books he’d read. Artemis remembered one that Vincent’s nephew, Joseph, had told him was called a comic and it had a girl in it who could make rain and lightning. Maybe this man was like that girl was, only mean…?
Artemis’ thoughts were interrupted after that, feeling another hand on the folder, pulling on it. He quickly opened his eyes and looked up to see the man trying to take it from him, looking angry.
“Gimme the damn file!” He growled, quickly yanking it out of Artemis’ hands while the young boy was distracted by more thunder from outside.
“That’s not yours, give it back!” Artemis cried out when he realised the man had taken the folder from him, trying in vain to reach up and take it back. The man was too tall for that.
“Give it up little boy, you aren’t getting this back.” The man said before pushing Artemis away, anything but gently. He watched as the boy fell back, not getting back up after colliding with the sturdy desk before turning to leave the room, laughing as he went.
The last thing Artemis remembered hearing before he blacked out was a gunshot and more yelling.