Corporate espionage in a cyber-security firm brings office politics mixed with psychological manipulation and romance for the Christmas holidays. The struggle for wealth and corporate power causes problems for many employees but benefits only the few. Internal affairs can be so rewarding and so wicked.
Targeted Age Group:: 18-75
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always been interested in organizational and social psychology, so the dynamics of maintaining security against espionage within a corporation was a natural interest. The manipulations of employees, especially executives in corporations is a fascinating theme to me. Psychopathic personalities compete for control and wealth using all available means. The software and hardware produced in a security corporation make it a perfect target for these crimes.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
All people deal with stereotypical behaviors and attributes in their perception of others. I, like all authors, have to select the behaviors and attributes that make my characters suited to play the crucial roles in a situation. For this book the corporate hierarchy, security workers, law enforcement, operatives and software designers all needed to be portrayed as believable and interesting characters.
Andrew sat in the bar off of Hamilton Street, he was looking out the window that had been decorated with spray on white snow and little colored lights. He was waiting for Heidi Klein, his Assistant Manager. They were meeting so they could share updates on the fallout from Lee Cardell’s most recent over-commits and then talk about any possible solutions.
Heidi walked in the door that rang all the jingle bells that had been attached for the holidays. She saw Andrew and walked directly to his booth, “Happy holidays, Andrew!”
“Happy holidays, Heidi! . . You seem to be in a good mood for just having been run over then backed over by Lee Cardell’s bus.”
“True, Andrew, but it’s only a couple of weeks until Christmas and it’s my favorite holiday of the year. I refuse to be a Scrooge.”
Heidi took off her coat and her new Christmas scarf while she started the conversation. “Andrew, I’m not the only one who thinks Harland is recording everybody on audio and video. I mean it’s for certain he’s monitoring our correspondence and the sensitive program work.”
“Heidi, I know what you mean. Most of that is part of his job . . . but there’s definitely too many coincidences, too much personal surveillance, just too many key firings. . . Too many upset interns. Harland’s job is security for a security firm, it would go against his instincts not be paranoid.”
Heidi ordered a coffee and Andrew ordered a beer.
“Andrew, when’s the last time you talked to Harland?”
Andrew nodded at Heidi, “It’s been over a week. . . ”
Heidi said, “I haven’t seen him snooping around or intimidating employees with his quiet presence for at least three weeks.”
Andrew was thinking now. When he looked at Heidi’s eyes he knew she was waiting for a deduction. As he thought it over he formulated an answer. “He’s either too busy or something’s changed I guess.”
Heidi spoke, waiting for more, “Yeah . . . and. . .”
Andrew laughed, “Heidi, just say it. What do you think?”
Heidi said, “I think Harland is focused completely on internal security or completely focused on exploiting internal security.”
Andrew rubbed his cheek and looked at the table, “Heidi, we have to have internal monitoring . . . for counter-espionage, or whatever. . . This whole company is going damn spooky. . . I’m not sure it’s all about Lee.”
As they spoke a tall figure walked up to their table. Heidi and Andrew looked up to see Harland Burr standing at their table in a dark trench coat.
Andrew spoke to him, “Harland, what a surprise! I didn’t know you came over here.”
Harland Burr, Director of Security, nodded with relaxed eyes as he glanced from Andrew to Heidi and back to Andrew, then he asked, “Can I sit?”
Andrew told him, “Sure Harland, please.”
Andrew glanced at Heidi and motioned for her to stay.
Heidi smiled, “Good evening, Mr. Burr.”
Harland spoke softly but clearly to both Andrew and Heidi, “I just need to touch base with you two about Arthur Browning’s retirement. I know Martin is considering Lee Cardell for Vice President, but I have questions as to what’s best for SecureSoft and Martin.”
Andrew responded, “Sure, we all do.”
Heidi nodded and looked at Harland, she tried to guess how he felt about the situation with Lee Cardell. She was also intimidated by Harland Burr’s background. Harland Burr had graduated the University of Virginia. After working two years in Somalia and Yugoslavia he won appointment to a rigorous post in the NSA. After eight years there he took over a special assignment in the FBI cyber-security operations before coming to SecureSoft. He had a big reputation in security, counter-espionage and cyber-terrorism, but he had come to SecureSoft for the money.
Harland Burr’s background was deep and wide in all areas. Part of his work was maintaining the persona of incisive precision with a business-like and friendly demeanor. He had to appear omnisciently formidable and indispensable in his role as a dedicated team player.
“Heidi, please call me Harland . . . I like my job at SecureSoft. I want to stay and make a lot of money . . . pursue some of my own pet projects without any conflict of interest.”
Andrew and Heidi listened, then nodded. They waited for Harland to continue, but he did not continue.
Andrew decided to answer, “Sure Harland, why not. . . Everybody likes SecureSoft – cutting edge work, great money, super colleagues.”
Harland sat with a calm demeanor still in his trench coat, but said nothing.
Heidi looked at Andrew and then decided to say something, “SecureSoft is the best place I’ve even heard of to work. . . But . . . We’re worried about how Lee Cardell might work out as VP.”
Harland looked at Heidi and nodded quietly. Andrew decided to say more because he knew that there was nothing that Harland didn’t know already – and he’d showed up here at his private meeting with Heidi. But Andrew was not sure yet that Harland was against the idea of Lee Cardell as Vice President.
Andrew decided to speak as if he were speaking to everyone, openly, “Harland, Heidi and I don’t see how Lee is good for SecureSoft or Martin. . . We’re afraid that if he has more power he will drive out all of the talent and divert SecureSoft’s resources to frivolous or dangerous projects.”
Harland nodded again. Then he cleared his throat slightly. “I agree Andrew, that’s why I’m here. . . We need to talk very soon, very privately, about probable outcomes and strategies. . . Can we talk tomorrow?”
Andrew shook his head, “Not a problem Harland. Yes, we need to talk.”
Harland nodded at Andrew, “After we talk you can bring Heidi in on the situation. Heidi, please don’t be offended but I have to talk with your boss about this first.”
Heidi was relieved for several reasons. “No Harland, I understand completely.”
Harland stood and walked out of the bar.
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