COPYRIGHT Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder. All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.
Part Eight: 87 (Cont'd)
Of course, there's the other ten percent, I thought, as I heard footsteps thunder nearer. They were close, now, that much I knew. Maybe a few yards away, in the cubicle farm.
Shit, it wasn't working!
What were the other tricks they'd taught me?
Something about a plastic bag full of water ... but I didn't have anything like a plastic bag with me.... What was it? Old fingerprints remained on the surface of the sensor like handprints on a mirror, the oily residue of people who'd been admitted. The old fingerprints could be reactivated with moisture....
Yes, it sounds wacky, but no crazier than using a piece of tape with a lifted print on it. I leaned over, cupped my hands over the little sensor, breathed on it. My breath hit the glass, condensed at once. It disappeared in a second, but it was long enough—
A beep, sounding almost like a chirp. A happy sound.
A green light on the box went on.
I'd passed. The moisture from my breath had activated an old fingerprint.
I'd fooled the sensor.
The shiny steel door to Secure Facility C slid slowly open on tracks just as the other door behind me opened and I heard, "Stop right there!"
And: "Stay right there!"
I stared at the huge open space that was Secure Facility C, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. My eyes couldn't make sense of it.
I must have made a mistake.
This couldn't be the right place.
I was looking at the area marked Secure Facility C. I was expecting laboratory equipment and banks of electron microscopes, clean rooms, supercomputers and coils of fiber-optic cable....
Instead, what I saw was naked steel girders, bare unpainted concrete floors, plaster dust and construction debris.
An immense, gutted space.
There was nothing here.
Where was the AURORA Project? I was in the right place, but there was nothing here.
And then a thought came to me which made the floor beneath my feet buckle and sway: Was there in fact no AURORA Project after all?
"Don't move a fucking muscle!" someone shouted from behind me.