Young computer programmer Rob Donovan receives an emergency call from his boss at the First Malden Bank in Boston after the first successful cyberattack in American banking history scrambles thousands of account records. First Malden’s survival is on the line as furious customers and voracious reporters descend on the bank. Rob is part of the team trying to fix the damage, until the FBI charges him with the crime and brings his world crashing down. Facing prison time and the loss of his fiancée Lesley, Rob’s only chance of reclaiming his life lies in cutting through a web of mistrust and betrayal to uncover the startling truth behind the attack.
Tim Whitlock plastered an automatic grin on his face when he came across Rob Donovan pushing the up button for the elevator. After so many years of hiding his seething resentment, Tim’s smile was second nature.
“Hey buddy,” Rob said, “what’s going on?”
The young men were both two years out of college and stood a shade over six feet tall. Tim had straight sandy hair that was swept to one side, while Rob gelled his short, black hair so tufts of it stood up here and there.
“Not much,” Tim said. “How about you. You up to anything tonight?”
Rob seemed to hesitate, but then he just grinned and said, “I’ll tell you later.”
Tim was fairly confident Rob’s plans for the evening didn’t matter much. They were almost certainly going to change.
The elevator doors opened and Rob gave Tim a half wave as he stepped inside. As soon as the doors slid shut Tim quickly doubled back to Rob’s cubicle. His heart was racing but he did his best to plant a relaxed expression on his face as he looked around to see if anyone was nearby.
He saw no one so he stepped into the cubicle and pulled a Ziploc bag from his pocket. The bag contained a shiny metal USB memory stick. Using the bag to make sure he didn’t leave any fingerprints, Tim opened the top drawer of Rob’s desk. He hesitated for a moment, but then took a steadying breath and with trembling fingers he dropped the memory stick near the back of the drawer, where it nestled among a litter of pens, erasers, and push pins. He closed the drawer and exited the cubicle, relieved that no one saw him.
Tim joined the end-of-day crowd riding the elevator down from the office tower. The main branch of the First Malden Bank occupied the ground floor, conveniently close to the bank’s headquarters on floors four through nine above. Tim and Rob both worked on the fifth floor.
When Tim reached the lobby, he turned left and walked into the branch. Five people were waiting to use the ATMs. Tim joined the line. He tapped his leg nervously and tried not to think about what he was doing. His tongue felt like it was stuck to the roof of his mouth.
He looked anxiously at his watch. Four-fifty-two. There was still time if the people ahead of him didn’t take too long. The hidden software examined Tim’s checking account every afternoon at five o’clock.
Another wave of acid roiled up from Tim’s stomach. He had been putting off this moment for the last four months. Every morning during that time he left his apartment intending to stop at an ATM and transfer the magic amount into his checking account. Twelve dollars and thirty-four cents. One, two, three, four. A few buttons pushed on an ATM keypad and his life would change forever.
Every time he arrived at the bank, however, the inner voice spoke up: What if it doesn’t work?
Tim hated that voice.
What if you get caught and go to jail?
The fear was too much for Tim, so every day he walked past the bank machines in the lobby without stopping ― and promised himself the next day would be different.
But now Tim could wait no longer, because earlier that afternoon his boss had announced a new project. Their team of software developers would be working on a new release of the Account Management System. Once the system upgrade began, someone might discover the surprise Tim had taken such risks to hide within the current version of the software.
Tim took a deep breath and jammed his hands in his pockets to keep them from trembling. He closed his eyes and reminded himself why he was doing this. He had been waiting since high school to settle the score with his good buddy Rob Donovan, lifetime president of the Let’s Screw Tim Club. This was the one and only chance Tim would ever have to get even, to reclaim the life that should have been his all along. His insider access at the bank gave him the perfect opportunity, and there was no way in hell he was going to waste it.
No, today was the day.
Copyright© Andrew McAllister. All rights reserved.