Paranoia (068 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 Three: 34 (Cont'd)

An ASIC, I knew, was geek-speak for a fancy custom-designed computer chip that does a bunch of different things.

"Lucille?" Mordden said, and the doll turned to look at him, blinking. "Fuck you, Lucille." Lucille's eyes slowly squinted, her mouth turned down, and she emitted an anguished-sounding wa-a-h. A single tear rolled down her cheek. He pulled up her frilly pink pajama top, exposing a small rectangular LCD screen. "Mommy and Daddy can program her and see the settings on this little proprietary Trion LCD here. One of the ASICs drives this LCD, another drives the motors, another drives the speech."

"Incredible," I said. "All this for a doll."

"Correct. And then the toy company we partnered with fucked up the launch. Let this be a lesson to you. The packaging was terrible. They didn't ship until the last week in November, which is about eight weeks too late—Mommy and Daddy have already made up their Christmas lists by then. Moreover, the price point sucked—in this economy, Mommy and Daddy don't like spending over a hundred bucks for a fucking toy. Of course, the marketing geniuses in Trion Consumer and Educational thought I'd invented the next Beanie Baby, so we stockpiled several hundred thousand of these custom chips, manufactured for us in China at enormous expense and good for nothing else. Which means Trion got stuck with almost half a million ugly dolls that no one wanted, along with three hundred thousand extra doll parts waiting to be assembled, sitting to this day in a warehouse in Van Nuys."


"It's okay. Nobody can touch me. I've got kryptonite."

He didn't explain what he meant, but this was Mordden, borderline crazy, so I didn't pursue it. I returned to my cubicle, where I found that I had several voice messages. When I played the second one, I recognized the voice with a jolt even before he identified himself.

"Mr. Cassidy," the scratchy voice said, "I really.... Oh, this is Jock Goddard. I was very much taken by your remarks at the meeting today, and I wonder if you might be able to stop by my office. Do you think you could call my assistant Flo and set something up?"

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