A solitary figure crouched in an alcove on the 35th floor of the Continental Oil Tower. A gleaming skyscraper of glass and steel buried deep in the heart of the Houston business district. Counting the seconds, the expected footsteps of the night security guard grew louder as the watchman entered from the far end of the hallway. Every so many footsteps brought silence while the guard paused briefly at each office door rattling the doorknobs to ensure the doors were locked. Then the steps would start again repeating the process. The man could be heard humming as he made his rounds, the jangling of keys on his belt adding to the rhythm of another monotonous evening.
Soon the humming and the footwork stepped to the same beat while the sentry performed his hourly ritual. The level of attention paid to the tedious task by the bored security guard adequate, but routine. In his ten years on the job, not a single event had broken the time-tested pattern, so the night watchman walked his rounds with the voice of latest country artist filling his earphones, the man's mind miles away in thought.
The figure shrunk into a tighter ball hidden at the bottom of the dimly lit alcove. As the guard approached, she held her breath worried that the even the quiet exhaling of breath might alert the guard of her presence. With eyes cast down, her sightline tracked the dimly lit shadow of the guard as it slid across the carpet, moved past the corner and then was closely followed by the physical form.
The guards timing was impeccable. The strict routine of the building patrols carried out like clockwork every hour of the night. The female figure started the countdown again and at the predetermined amount of time eased from the shrunken position to cautiously peek into the hallway. She watched the back of the guard disappear down the opposite end of the corridor.
Glancing back to the direction the man had started, the figure eyed the cameras in the ceiling. Her mind studiously plotting out a course that would take her undiscovered into the office of the Continental Oil’s CEO. With the route memorized, Netanya Kalb slowly rose, checked once again on the guard's progress then on soft-soled shoes moved quickly from the alcove. Her carefully placed footsteps resembling a macabre dance as she traced a zigzagged trail to her destination. The trek to the office a time restricted game of hide and seek with the rotating cameras.
Stopping tight to the wall adjacent to the CEO’s door, Netanya waited while the ceiling camera swept passed the office door and continued on its endless circuit. A new countdown began in her head as she rushed to the door, a pair of long thin picks ready to attack the lock. She had 20 seconds before the camera finished its arc and reversed directions. Her last attempt took close to 18 seconds. A time she hoped to better this time around.
…17…18…the lock tumblers clicked. Netanya dove into the office shoving the door closed then engaging the door lock. Resting on the floor, she calmed her breathing and in her mind ran through the room's layout. Now that she was out of the camera's view, she had time to complete her task. Her last visit to this office was one month ago, and she hoped that the tiny cameras she had planted were worth the effort.
Sliding the CEO’s chair close to the desk, she climbed onto the solid top and stretching on her toes reached a hand above the twin ceiling lights, her fingers feeling for the small shape of the hidden camera. For a brief second, she felt a stir of panic before the tips of her fingers rubbed against the tiny plastic box.
Netanya spent the next few minutes gathering the rest of her concealed arsenal of electronic recorders. With all the devices accounted for, she returned to the desk digging a specialized thumb drive from the inside of her suit. The drive was a model often used by the agents at Shabak. It served a dual purpose. When first installed it transferred the computers files to a predetermined email address and once the download was complete the drive released a virus that melted the circuit board when the computers password was next entered.
The downside to the drive, it had to be simultaneously installed when the power button was activated. If her timing were off, any safeguards built into the computer would come into play rendering her task pointless and without a doubt notifying the buildings security.
Netanya breathed air deeply forcing a calm to flood her body. Slowly exhaling she gently lifted the laptops cover enough to display the power button then with steady hands she lined the drive up with the computers port while her right hand hovered over the power symbol.
Netanya let out the last of her breath, then with skilled hands moving in perfect harmony her left hand slipped the drive into the waiting slot while her other hand depressed the metal button. A flashing light indicated the laptop’s response. She stood motionless. The screen flashed to life then just as quickly returned to sleep mode.
Retracing her steps to the buildings 10th floor, the Israeli agent crept back into a supply closet, exchanged her gear for a set of street clothes. The change complete, Netanya casually walked to the stairwell and down to the lobby, straight past the front security desk, her face partially shielded from the desk attendant. She paused at the main doors, her hand resting on the handle while she waited for the guard to remotely release the door lock.
“Leaving early tonight?” the voice of the attendant questioned assuming she was part of the night cleaning staff. Netanya remained facing the door, mumbled a barely audible reply, flashing her hand in the air waving the forged security card. Her heart sped faster. A tense silence chewed up seconds before the metallic click of the lock signified her release.
In a house on the outskirts of the city, Netanya sat hunched over a kitchen table reviewing camera video from the CEO’s office. A second figure sat mesmerized by pirated files from the same office.
Charles Ryan whistled in enthusiasm at the information garnered from the hacked computer of the Continental Oil’s CEO. Damning information laying proof that Continental Oil had sold out years earlier to the People Of The Earth Foundation. Under the guise of the independent holding company, false reports were produced showing a severe shortage of oil stock while millions of barrels of black gold left the state for a facility in the western part of the country.
The video Netanya studied contained even more damaging information for the oil company and the POTE. The acting CEO discussed the illegal transactions with directors of other major oil companies. A bevy of executives who, with the help of Netanya’s colleagues in Israel were discovered to be appointed figureheads, the leaders of an oil cartel operating under the umbrella of the POTE Foundation. A disruptive collusion aimed at starving the North American free market of oil products.
FBI agent Charles Ryan hid a smile as he sat at his desk in the Colorado field office. The FBI agent sat at his desk reading stories obtained from newspapers across the country. Ryan scoured the Internet on his latest purchase, a digital reading paper.
The FBI agent marveled at the timely invention from the techs at Silicone Valley. A small square of material that was the thickness of a few sheets of paper combined with the computing power of a modern laptop. Since the start of the climate struggles the use of paper products had grown scarce. The fuel to manufacture pulp became too expensive and with the decimation of forests for heating fuel created a void for innovation to fill.
A week had passed since he had met Netanya in the house on the edge of Houston. He returned to his home state and back to work while she traveled to New York and with the assistance of an anonymous group of hackers released the damaging files and videos to the World Wide Web. Links and videos appeared on several national news outlets.
The greatest pleasure to Ryan arrived from the saturation of the nation's press with follow up stories of outrage and protests from shocked American's left without jobs and homeless due to the subterfuge of the POTE and the undermined oil industry.
Protests not unlike the ones of years past but the storyline differed. People were now marching against the lying corporations and the corruption leading to a false green future.
Karma at its best, Ryan supposed. When Netanya had reappeared into his life a scant few months ago with the suggestion that a change of tactics may be needed to halt the undermining of the world economy, he had his doubts. With the recent cyber attacks against the left, anti-oil establishment, he now found a new hope growing.
Fight the establishment with the same deviousness and false truths invented by the green movement she had said. So far her tactics were paying off. Thus began the crucial game consisting of one side moving followed by the other faction providing countermoves.
A global round of chess where the world’s well being became the end game.
A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.