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The inch and a half long arachnid lowered towards its oblivious target, moving at a jerked pace rather than a constant descent. One minute flowed into a second before it completed the journey from ceiling to destination and hovered near the ear of the task-oriented administrator.

Notable for her ‘lost’ episodes, the computer screen ensnared Morgan, as always to the peril of anyone or anything demanding her attention. Only a tap on her shoulder would guarantee disconnect from work to recognition of presence.

Harried from the moment she left bed three and a half hours before, Morgan chose to wear her shoulder length russet hair pinned up; she had no time to mess with a wash or her usual styling since it would take an hour to dry and she had overslept. Dress proved simple, a pleated, shades of grey plaid skirt reaching past her knees, a white turtleneck, black hose and a black blazer assembled on her in unthinking seconds. She made work with three minutes to spare before the big call from the London team, but at a cost of limited review prep time. At least no one pushed her on the usage metrics as Will was wont to do, but since the changeover, incomplete data made an accurate assessment impossible, at least for another month.

Success with the call bought her time to work Aaron’s review, necessitating closure of her office door, an act she loathed. Even though the separating wall from floor main was floor to ceiling plate glass, she preferred an open door and open communication. In another ten, she would seal the report and email it off to HR, open the door, and then schedule Aaron for his sit down.

Let’s see… insert percentage increase here…and here, total annual dollar amount there, and…adjust unit budgetary spreadsheet. Done. Throwing her hands up in celebration, her right taps something where air alone should be. Craning her neck around, Morgan spotted a pendulum-tacking spider on a fast backswing toward her head.

The resulting scream needed no open door for every other worker on the fourteenth floor to hear. Heads rose and doors opened, while several women and men scurried for Morgan Chadwell’s corner office. Vice Presidents just did not emit hair curling primal screams.

In an office adjacent and to the left of the one occupied by Morgan, three members of her team moved with imprecision, two scrambling into desk facing chairs while the third cut the clear five pound test fishing line at the suspended ceiling and tucked the remaining inch up and in. Mission complete, he sank into the seat behind the desk and picked up a folder, ostensibly discussing its contents with his two comrades.

Morgan entered a minute later, foregoing her usual knock, palm held up in front of her carrying a plastic spider, the toy bug trailing an attached section of fishing line weighted towards the spider end by a heavy binder ring, added by the pranksters to allow gravity to work for them and lower the spider to Morgan.

“You guys ever see this creature before?” she asked Aaron, her senior supervisor in charge of the in house network hardware.

“No, no. Why, did someone…you screamed about a teeny-weeny plastic spider?” Aaron struggled; holding his erupting laughter in like a heavy hit off a cigarette was about to produce the same result, except his would manifest as a nasal snort, not a choking cough. He did well though, until Morgan set the spider down on Jesse’s curly-haired head.

Within seconds, the three were lost in laughter so contagious it infected Morgan. After a few minutes of reverie, Morgan turned to leave, stopped, and offered, “I see you’ve recruited Nate into your impster’s circle. Nate, I hired you what…two months ago? See you at review time, Bucko! Oh…Aaron, I was just about to complete yours, now I see it needs alteration.”

Morgan left, still smiling. All three knew she would never give them a poor review. In fact, Morgan was a good sport, counted on to take their humour in the spirit intended.

Half a day later, lying in bed with her latest read after three frustrating hours of research, Morgan could still feel her fear upon seeing the faux spider. She despised the creepy things, not for any rational reason. She could handle a snake, she could walk forest and not worry about bear, but a bee or spider turned her to shivering protoplasm, sending her on a sprint the other way, tout suite. Today, her team had struck, through clever ceiling manoeuvring, right at her weakness.

It wasn’t the first time she fell to an Aaron prank. Six months before, she drove off for a takeaway order to the sound of horns beeping twice at her, not one, not two, but a quarter of every car she encountered along the two mile route. Beepbeep, beepbeep, beepbeep. Returning to her car, order in hand, she saw the hand painted cardboard sign: beep twice if you want to date me.

Then there were her desk drawers frozen and unable to open, her missing desk, the lime jello in pumps she inevitably kicked off and left under her desk, and oh, the Limburger cheese under her car seat in the middle of summer. She couldn’t remain his foil, nor did she wish harm to department camaraderie and spirit. Her department needed to function as a close-knit team, and occasional antics mixed in with hard work kept everyone smiling while they worked.

Yet…she wanted him to respect her in dichotomous, even contradictory ways. She was more than a worker bee automaton; she loved reading, the Red Sox, a good cross-country ski course, and her most egregious quirk, skydiving. The flop of this was respect for her capabilities at work.

Aaron could make her laugh and he knew it, but she doubted he knew of his propensity to make her smile when she saw him focused at his desk, scrutinising a report, his blonde hair forever looking in need of a cut even from the moment he left a salon, always tussled and somewhat askew. She had the urge to tame it; she felt like giving it an added muss. He too had talent, in a different field, but he knew computers.

A few inches taller than her five foot eleven, Aaron looked lean and fit. His muscles were not on bragging display, they were just there when needed. He was raised a farm boy, and farm boys came strong, not flash, just fact.

She needed to school him…she didn’t know how she needed to school him. Interesting choice, school as a verb, Morgan mused, giggling over the potential double entendre not at all meant as such. Or was it? No matter, she needed to emerge victorious in the prankster plots; of this, she was certain.

******************************************************

Aaron expected retaliation, but nothing happened, it never did with Morgan and for this, he felt guilty. In truth, the scream had been a little too loud, with potential impact on other units. While the prank made him and others laugh, maybe his excessive targeting of her had gone too far. Aaron wanted Morgan to see him for something beyond work and sophomoric antics.

Morgan Chadwell was many things – a rising star in a company nibbling at the edges of the Fortune 500, in her early thirties, a doctoral candidate in applied economics, a good sport, a clever conversationalist, and of particular interest to what he privately thought of as his own occasionally rising star, hot.

She wore her hair up the day of the spider, the first time so styled on his watch, and he wished she would again. Even when she dressed down, he saw her reconfiguration as reinforcement of his interest; she was no shallow package. Aaron liked tall women, liked them solid, not too heavy, not too thin, in fact, he preferred middle ground on all things shape, including breasts. Maybe she was a little too light skinned for his middle-of-the-run preferences, but her complexion was damn near flawless, and she had the damnedest cute button nose.

Morgan was also his boss, and company policy on office relationships meant one would need to transfer out of the department. Since it was her unit, he would be the one to go, and he hated the thought of not being in the office adjacent hers.

Yet, Morgan was so work oriented she rarely took time just to chat about life. She worked later than most, so when others went out for drinks or dinner, she remained in the office. When not working, she researched and worked on her doctoral dissertation. Aaron worked hard as well, he just believed in leaving it behind when the clock tickled five. The only way to get her attention was through the goofy stunts he and his cronies employed, as with the spider.

He needed to do more than spider her, he needed to break through, and if pranks were the way to get her talking other-than-work, he would go for a huge splash. Maybe he would fail with Morgan, but if nothing else, he would be office legend.

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