Razor Mountain is a serial novel, with new parts published every week or two. For more info, visit the Razor Mountain landing page.
God-Speaker left Cain in the borehole chamber, shuffling his papers. This was the furthest extent of the cave system, so he had to walk for a few minutes before reaching the secured door that led back into the outer neighborhoods of the city. From there, he made his way into the bustling city center. Among the shops and offices was a central pillar made in the tapered hourglass shape of a stalagmite and stalactite that had fused. It was actually engineered—carved from the rock over many years, like almost every space in the city.
The bottom of the pillar was sloped, and some of the tallest buildings were piled up against it. The upper half was painted like the ceiling so that it would at least partly blend into the artificial sky.
God-Speaker walked to a narrow space between two larger buildings, where there was a nondescript door with no handle. He waved his hand over the hidden chip reader in the wall nearby, and the door clicked open.
Inside, there was another door set up in a sort of airlock system. God-Speaker glanced up at the corner of the little room, where the glint of a reflection was the only sign that a small camera was watching. Anyone entering this space would be observed, and if they weren’t authorized they could be held until someone came to retrieve them. God-Speaker waved his hand next to the door on the opposite wall, and it opened to let him past.
From there, he was in the little catacomb of hallways and back rooms within the pillar. Although it was smaller, it was much the same as the restricted-access areas out beyond the exterior neighborhoods. Down the hall from the entry vestibule was an elevator. One wall was made entirely of glass, and God-Speaker looked out over the city as he rode up. To provide this visibility, narrow slits had been carved from the stone, cunningly hidden from below. The view took on a stuttering kinetoscope quality that made the city appear small and artificial, like an elaborate model village. The elevator continued up beyond the sky-painted ceiling of the cavern, and the tiny buildings vanished from view, blocked by a blur of rough rock speeding by outside.
High above the city, God-Speaker stepped out into hallways that were notably nicer than the utility areas below. There was carpet, doors and trim made from real wood, and occasional pieces of art on the walls. The lighting, hidden in the ceiling, was warm and inviting.
From the elevator, it was a short walk to God-Speaker’s main office. He had kept to his schedule, but he found Reed already sitting in a chair outside the office door when he arrived.
“You’re early,” God-Speaker noted, as he unlocked the office door.
“I wouldn’t want to keep you waiting,” Reed said.
The man stood and followed God-Speaker into the office. God-Speaker walked around to the other side of his desk and sat. Reed waited, standing, until God-Speaker gestured to the chair on the opposite side. God-Speaker noted that the lanky man showed signs of distress. He had a tendency to pick and fiddle, always doing something with his fingers when his mind was otherwise occupied; but when he really had something on his mind he was entirely still.
Now, he sat in the chair, his fingers steepled against his chin, unmoving as a statue.
“Did you find anything of interest?” God-Speaker asked.
Reed blinked slowly. “I have done extensive digging. I looked through all of his accounts myself. As you indicated, some of the accounting is a little…unorthodox…but I found no signs of anything nefarious.”
“What about other things? Anything outside the finances to raise a red flag?”
Reed sighed. “No. There are the usual interpersonal conflicts here and there. Some people find him a little bit grating. Some seem to appreciate his apparent earnestness.”
God-Speaker nodded. This was what he now expected, and perhaps it explained Reed’s tenseness. The man thought the absence of evidence would be taken as a failure on his part.
“I think it’s clear, but tell me, what is your opinion after this initial investigation?”
“I am sure there is more that could be done,” Reed said, “but I have found nothing to indicate that Cain is anything more dangerous than a young and opinionated person who is still figuring out his new position.”
God-Speaker nodded. “I agree. I’ve spent more time with the man over the past few days, and I realized that I may have misinterpreted some of his actions.”
“Are you sure that was wise, sir? What if he had turned out to be a threat?”
God-Speaker shrugged. “I have managed to take care of myself for quite some time.”
“Of course,” Reed said. “But people are unique. You have admitted that even you are not always able to read certain people.”
“I manage,” God-Speaker said irritably. “In any case, I think we can end this investigation. I am satisfied that we’ve come to the correct conclusion with Cain.”
“Very well,” Reed said. He was still nearly frozen in the chair. “Regardless of the outcome, I appreciate the trust you put in me for this…delicate matter.”
“Thank you for taking it seriously,” God-Speaker said. “Although I have noticed that some of your reports have been delayed while I distracted you with this.”
“It will be taken care of,” Reed said.
“Very well,” God-Speaker replied, standing. “I think we’re done here. You’re dismissed.”
Reed nodded and stood slowly. God-Speaker was struck once again by how tall and thin he was. He stood a head above God-Speaker, but surely weighed less.
Now that the situation with Cain was cleared up, God-Speaker could focus on the matter of his aging body. He stepped over to the bookshelf, trying to recall which of his replacement candidates was tallest.
He was not prepared for the searing pain in his right shoulder. He cried out and turned, his left hand instinctively reaching over. He felt wetness. Blood.
God-Speaker turned to face Reed. The man stood with a long, thin-bladed knife in his right hand, his face contorted, his jaw working as his teeth clenched.
“What are you doing?”
Reed struck again. God-Speaker raised his arm as a shield, and the knife cut deep into the muscle, scraping against bone. God-Speaker stumbled back and fell against the bookshelves before sliding down onto the carpet.
“I’m doing what that idiot Cain should have done. What we all should have done, years ago.”
2 thoughts on “Razor Mountain — Chapter 27.2”