Saturday Sampler: The Fourteenth Protocol by Nathan Goodman
October 17, 2015
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Saturday’s Sampler is an excerpt from The Fourteenth Protocol, a suspense thriller from Nathan Goodman.
As one reviewer said: Ripe with SUSPENSE, INTRIGUE and RIVETING ACTION, Nathan Goodman’s beautifully written novel preys upon our worst fears: Terrorism in our own backyard. LIKE JOHN GRISHAM’S THE FIRM, The Fourteenth Protocol introduces characters on the climb in over their head, a plot that keeps you guessing and an ending that will leave you hungry for more.
After an eleventh terrorist attack, the American people are at a breaking point.
But when a fledgling special agent stumbles across the one clue that could break the case wide open, she uncovers a secret CIA spy operation which rocks the core of the highest levels of U.S. government.
Come inside this spider’s web of espionage, conspiracy and intrigue, and witness young Agent Baker’s struggles against evil and her own fears as they take her to the edge of the abyss; and the clock is ticking.
Inside the elevator, the security camera mounted on the ceiling leered at them. Jana was unsure if the elevators were also bugged for sound, and she felt so very exposed. The elevator chimed as it rose past each floor–Five, Six, Seven
She whispered in Cade’s ear. “Relax, Cade. Whatever happens, it’ll be fine. Remember, we’ve got heavy backup outside. There are more guns trained on this place than protecting the White House.”
Eight, Nine, Ten . . . the elevator continued its rise towards the seventeenth floor. Cade drew in a deep breath, closed his eyes, and held it. Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen . . . His ears began to pop against the elevation. He exhaled hard, blowing out as many jitters as he could.
Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen . . . Jana squeezed his hand.
Seventeen. Cade stopped breathing.
The elevator doors slid open into a vacuum of bleak silence. At the far end of the sterile hallway, the guard desk stood vacant as an empty chair swiveled. The change shifts was happening; the guard had just stepped out.
(skipping ahead in the scene) Running her hands through the stack of papers on Rupert Johnston’s desk, Jana said, “And look how old some of this is. The pages are all yellowed. And these on the top are much more recent. They’re all dated. It starts back in . . . 1965.”
Without glancing over, Cade said, “Ah, kind of busy over here trying to steal the secret files, remember?”
“There’s different handwriting on some of the older ones,” she said. “Wow, looks like these were love letters from his service in Vietnam. He must have had a girl back home. I feel like I’m invading something private here.”
“What? Private? Oh, yeah, I think he started out as a private during the war.”
“Oh, you aren’t listening to me.” Jana read on. Private or not, she was captivated. It was like peering into a little piece of history you weren’t supposed to see. Some of the passages revealed two young kids in love, separated by a god-awful war. At first a smile spread across her mouth, but as she flipped farther back in the stack, her smile disappeared. “Cade?”
“Look at these. Some of them have perfect watermarks on them. Someone’s tears fell on these letters. This one is still damp.”
Cade looked up, but only for a moment. “Well, they couldn’t be Johnston’s tears, I can tell you that. I don’t think he has tears. And if he did, he’d probably kick his own ass just for crying.”
“Cade, it’s like the rest of these papers are a journal or something. . . it’s like he’s recording all his work.”
“His work? What work?”
“His work here. Here at Thoughtstorm,” she said. “Holy shit, he’s documenting his work here. My god, look at this! Dates and times of e‑mail campaigns, names of recipient lists . . . this part talks about some kind of . . . encryption . . . wait, look at this! CIA! Oh my God. He’s recording conversations he had with the CIA. Jesus Christ, Cade, this is evidence. This is like, this is like . . . finding the damned Rosetta stone. This is the key to everything we need to tie this all together.”
For once, Cade looked up at the papers. His mind was trying to concentrate on two things at once, and it wasn’t working. “This, this . . . was written today,” she said. “He’s talking about . . . about . . . it’s like he’s conflicted. He’s talking about blowing the lid on the whole cover-up. But wait . . . look at that. He sounds desperate to blow the whole thing wide open, but he knows he can’t. It doesn’t say why. What’s the laptop doing now? You said something about we didn’t have his password?”
“I’m going to bypass his password. In the morning, when Johnston logs in, he’ll be asked to reset his password. We have to reset our passwords monthly anyway. There’s a chance he won’t suspect a thing.”
Just then, a towering, hoarse voice exploded from the doorway. “Won’t suspect a thing!” Jana and Cade froze in terror, wide-eyed at the oversized man blocking their only exit. It was Rupert Johnston….