Paranoia (105 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Macmillan: Paranoia

Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.

Part Five: 56 (Cont'd)

It was a little after eight. I got into Camilletti's office quickly and easily this time, now that I had the technique down. No one seemed to be around. I pulled the blinds closed, retrieved the little KeyGhost cable, and lifted one slat to look around. I didn't see anyone, although I suppose I really wasn't as careful as I should have been. I raised the blinds and then opened the door slowly, looking first right, then left.

Standing against the wall of Camilletti's reception area, his arms folded, was a stocky man in a Hawaiian shirt and horn-rimmed glasses.

Noah Mordden.

He had a peculiar smile on his face. "Cassidy," he said. "Our thirty-four-pin Phineas Finn."

"Oh, hi, Noah," I said. Panic flooded my body, but I kept my expression blasé. I had no idea what he was talking about, except that I figured it was probably some kind of obscure literary dig. "What are you up to?"

"I could ask you the same thing."

"Come by to visit?"

"I must have gone to the wrong office. I went to the one that said 'Adam Cassidy' on it. Silly me."

"They've got me working for everyone here," I said. It was the best I could think of, and it sucked. Did I really think he'd believe I was supposed to be in Camilletti's office? At eight o'clock at night? Mordden was too smart, and too suspicious, for that.

"You have many masters," he said. "You must lose track of whom you really work for."

My smile was tight. Inside I was dying. He knew. He'd seen me in Nora's office, now in Camilletti's office, and he knew.

It was over. Mordden had found me out. So now what? Who would he tell? Once Camilletti learned I'd been in his office, he'd fire me in an instant, and Goddard wouldn't stand in his way.

"Noah," I said. I took a deep breath, but my mind stayed blank.

"I've been meaning to compliment you on your attire," he said. "You're looking particularly upwardly mobile these days."

"Thanks. I guess."

"The black knit shirt and the tweed jacket—very Goddard. You're looking more and more like our fearless leader. A faster, sleeker Beta version. With lots of new features that don't quite work yet." He smiled. "I notice you have a new Porsche."


"It's hard to escape the car culture in this place, isn't it? But as you speed along the highway of life, Adam, you might pause and consider. When everything's coming your way, maybe you're driving in the wrong lane."

"I'll keep that in mind."

"Interesting news about the layoffs."

"Well, you're safe, though."

"Is that a question or a proposition?" Something about me seemed to amuse him. "Never mind. I have kryptonite."

"What does that mean?"

"Let's just say I wasn't named Distinguished Engineer simply because of my distinguished career."

"What kind of kryptonite are we talking about? Gold? Green? Red?"

"At last a subject you know something about. But if I showed it to you, Cassidy, it would lose its potency, wouldn't it?"

"Would it?"

"Just cover your trail and watch your back, Cassidy," he said, and he disappeared down the hall.

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Macmillan: Paranoia
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