Paradigms Lost — Chapter 43

Chapter 43: Beware of Spooks Leaving Gifts

I stared down at the disk in my hand. The fact that it contained possibly treasonous information made it seem as heavy as lead. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t the worst of the things I had to deal with. My date with Sylvie last night, our third “real” date, had been bittersweet at best. We were happy to be together finally, but another fact overshadowed our enjoyment: despite three days of careful work, Syl, Verne, Morgan, and their few other trusted contacts had turned up precisely nothing. My “brilliant idea” was a washout, and Verne was worse than ever. Once in a while he seemed to improve slightly for a few hours, but it always came back. No mystical influences alien to the house. No mental controls on Kafan that they could find. Nothing.

I sighed. Syl wasn’t coming over today — the Silver Stake had three shipments that needed to be classified, and she didn’t want to be faced with Verne right now anyway.

I glanced at another envelope on my desk, one which in any other circumstances would be causing me to call up Syl for champagne and a very, very expensive dinner out. But even it barely gave me a momentary smile. I sighed; putting the CD into a protective case, I put the case into my backpack. Time to send it off on a delivery.

As I opened the front door, I saw a package lying on the doorstep. I picked it up, noting that it had no mailing stamps, no return address, nothing.

Belatedly it occurred to me that being in this business I might expect to start getting mail bombs soon. Well, if it was a bomb, it certainly wasn’t movement activated. I hefted it a couple of times; light, not much more than paper in here, if anything. There could still be enough plastique in it to do serious damage, though; it didn’t take much high explosive to do a number on you.

I shrugged. Not likely to be a bomb; what the hell. I ripped it open.

No explosions. Looking inside, I saw another envelope and a sheet of paper. It was a note:

Jason, you have the god-damned devil’s luck. Here are the IDs. Destroy the disk. Since I know you’re too damn curious for your own good, I’ll tell you that somehow whatever you’re up to got the attention of one of my bosses and they caught me. Instead of shutting us down, he told me to make the IDs. Must be personal — he told me not to even mention this to the other members of our, um, group. So this one’s free. But I’d worry, if I were you. If even HE thinks you’re involved in something important enough to let you off a felony charge without so much as a warning, you’re playing with nukes, not fire.


I stared at the package, then opened the envelope. Birth certificate… passport… driver’s license… Jesus, even documents showing he was proficient in woodworking and construction (about the only salable skills I could find) and a Black Belt certification from Budoukai Tai Kwan Do in California. I looked closer. That was a genuine passport, seal and all.

Who were these people? And what the hell had I gotten myself into now?