Chapter 3: Business Meeting
Artemis and Butler parked as close to the entrance as possible. Not that it was difficult, after all, it was summer, and a Tuesday for that matter; most people were a work or staying as cool as they could in their homes. Artemis was impressed with the size of the shopping center. It had everything, a movie theater, numerous restaurants, bars and a few shops. The center of the shopping center housed most of the amenities, including a Barns and Nobel. The Barns & Nobel was very large with its own Starbucks on one side. Artemis bought a mocha double shot latte in the hopes of causing his brain to think faster, it did, and now Artemis was on the prowl. Butler opted for an organic green tea and sat opposite Artemis looking up guns and ammo on his laptop. Artemis amused himself with a mind game or two which had been the only stimulus he had had since he had come back to this dimension. He was bored again and told Butler he was going to look around. Artemis knew that Butler didn’t like the idea, but approved anyway understanding that Artemis needed to move around after the caffeine.
This was indeed an American book store; all of the brightly colored books with pictures were located near the eye line, while the intellectually stimulating books were near the top of bottom of each aisle. The store was practically deserted with only a few pre-teens in the Teenage section, some grown business looking men (If you could call them that they were still wearing jeans) were in the Automotive section, and some older ladies were reading in the Cooking section. Artemis who wasn’t interested in any of these subjects instead made his way over to the Current Event section to see if there was anything he hadn’t read in the entire sector.
The Current Event section was, for the most part, inside of Butler’s field of vision. Artemis began by walking along each aisle before selecting a few books he had not read before. Upon further examination he knew why. He was standing against the back of the section, which was a kind of L shape separating it from the wall aisle. Artemis began reading a book he knew nothing about, but was sure he had read something similar before when he heard a sound like that of a cooing vulture.
“I don’t often see people your age in this section,” said a low, dark female voice. Artemis couldn’t believe his ears, was someone starting a conversation with him? He looked right and then left until she spoke again. “O ’come on I’m in front of you for goodness sakes.” Her voice was still dark and smooth despite the sharpness of the insult. Artemis, curious about this voice, put down his book slowly, and walked briskly around the corner. When he reached the edge of the selves, he looked around the aisle, and saw a young woman standing in the middle of the wall aisle looking at a book. She seemed not to notice him until she gently lifted her head, and looked at him. The stress in her eyes, Artemis recognized as surprise, one of the many incorrect interpretations so far that day.
“Well you certainly didn’t need to walk all the way over here.” She said. Artemis was, needless to say, interested. She was short, muscular, yet she carried herself very straight as if she were twice as tall as she actually was. Her hair was black and thin barley coming down to her ears. Artemis found this interesting as he recognized her as being of Asian descent.
“And who might you be?” He asked trying to keep his cool in front of her. She was wearing a dark blue full skirt and business-like white button down shirt that was not fully buttoned. She smiled as if she were embarrassed he would ask
“You can call me,” she looked for a long time in the air before replying, “Sierra.”Artemis wasn’t sure what to say. Was this girl so disgusted that he was talking to her, that she would actually give him a fake name? “Out of curiosity, what is Artemis Fowl doing in Arizona during the summer?” The red flag finally sounded, Artemis was on full alert, it must have shown on his face because she looked taken a back and embarrassed. “You have nothing to worry about Mr. Fowl.” She closed her book revealing Artemis’s face plastered on the front. His book, she recognized him from his book.
“I see, and might I inquire why you say your name is Sierra, do you really expect me to believe that?” Artemis was interested; this girl was playing games with him. She put the book back on the self.
“I find your predicament much more fascinating really. First I notice you are indeed Artemis Fowl since you have not denied it, and many people would. Then I notice that you’re in your usual uniform, a suit, hardly fit for an Arizona summer correct? Then you’re in a book store where you probably know more about some of these subjects than the authors of the books, why? I can then assume that Butler is near, yet he’s not with you, why?” She paused looking at him more. “And on further examination you smell strongly of a cleaning solution often used on commercial airlines, and not from your room, which means you arrived today.” She paused again and walked slowly toward him, her dainty legs and low heals hitting to ground with purpose, then turning to the left suddenly just out of Artemis’s reach. “So questions remain, what is Artemis Fowl doing in a place like this on such short notice? I will then conclude that you’re waiting for someone and you’re just killing time. The next question is who . . . “Artemis was getting annoyed.
“Though this is all fun and good unless you are the man I seek I have nothing further to say to you.” Artemis had used this method of extracting information from someone before; act like you’re not interested and they will come.
This time Sierra did not smile, instead she held his gaze far a full two minutes unblinkingly, before she spoke, Artemis couldn’t take his eyes off her, it was if he were caught in a trance.
“You’re looking for a man named Hugo Gonzales; however you will not meet him today.” Artemis was now alarmed. How did she know about his contact, and if she had known this whole time how had she been able to anticipate his movements enough to corner him in such a way? Was she taking direction from someone else or was she acting alone, while thinking this Artemis instinctively looked around him.
“Why won’t I meet him today?” She smiled, and her eyes narrowed into a considerable evil glare, Artemis noted her right hand was in a fist her knuckles white.
“Because you’re going to die.” She said the word so matter of factually Artemis wasn’t sure what she was truly saying. He yelled out for Butler, but couldn’t, something was stopping him, he had no control over his facilities, in fact, he could hardly breathe. He looked at the girl helplessly, she only laughed. “It’s almost comical; you standing there all stoic before, your mind is racing trying to understand what has happened to you.” She smiled and turned to him looking at him straight in the eyes. For the first time Artemis saw them, colored contacts. “It isn’t chemical, but it will stay with you forever.” The color of her and the entire book store began to twirl into a mess of dye and sound, until he saw, felt, and thought no more.