COPYRIGHT Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder. All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.
I left Goddard's office feeling both relieved and weighted down.
I'd survived my first meeting with the guy, didn't make too big a fool of myself. But I was also in possession of a serious company secret, real inside information that was going to change a lot of people's lives.
Here's the thing: I'd made up my mind that I wasn't going to pass this on to Wyatt and company. It wasn't part of my assignment, wasn't in my job description. It had nothing to do with the skunkworks. I wasn't required to tell my handlers. They didn't know I knew, anyway. Let them find out about the Trion layoffs when everyone else did.
Preoccupied, I stepped off the elevator on the third floor of A Wing to grab a late lunch in the dining room when I saw a familiar face coming at me. A tall, skinny young guy, late twenties, bad haircut, called out, "Hey, Adam!" as he got into the elevator.
Even in that fraction of a second before I could put a name to the face, my stomach clenched. My animal hindbrain had sensed the danger before my cerebrum figured it out.
I nodded, kept on walking. My face was burning.
His name was Kevin Griffin, an affable if goofy-looking guy, and a decent basketball player. I used to shoot hoops with him at Wyatt Telecommunications. He was in sales in the Enterprise Division, in routers. I remembered him as very sharp, very ambitious behind that laid-back demeanor. He always beat his numbers, and he used to joke with me, in a good-natured sort of way, about my casual attitude toward work.
In other words, he knew who I really was.
"Adam!" he persisted. "Adam Cassidy! Hey, what are you doing here?"
I couldn't exactly ignore him anymore, so I turned back. He had one hand on the elevator doors to keep them from closing.
"Oh, hey, Kevin," I said. "You work here now?"
"Yeah, in sales." He seemed thrilled, like this was a high-school reunion or something. He lowered his voice. "Didn't they kick you out of Wyatt because of that party?" He made a sort of sniggering sound, not nasty or anything, just kind of conspiratorial.
"Nah," I said, faltering for a second, trying to sound light-hearted and amused. "It was all a big misunderstanding."
"Yeah," he said dubiously. "Where're you working here?"
"Same old same old," I said. "Hey, nice to see you, guy. Sorry, I've got to run."
He looked back at me curiously as the elevator doors closed.