Paranoia (162 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 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.

I obeyed.

I didn't turn around to face the guards. I froze.

I couldn't move if I wanted to anyway.

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Macmillan: Paranoia
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