A little fiction to brighten your day. A bank has suffered a security breach. Can you solve the mystery?
The Bank Security Breach
The train swayed abruptly as it came to a halt. Passengers streamed on and off in the morning rush. Calista Davis closed her eyes momentarily to ease the nausea from reading. Reading on moving trains always did this to her. Behind her two women settled in their seats. Talkers. Just great. Now she'd never get done reading this book for her review.
"Ouch!" A raspy voice could be heard. One of those voices that would instantly annoy your ears and couldn't be forgotten. "These shoes are killing me. My feet are already sore from running stairs the last two days."
"You're not the only one! I had to run them too. And now the printer on the third floor is broke too. I'm so sick and tired of hearing Longnose yell about broken printers I could scream. You'd think they could afford to have stuff that actually worked." A second voice chimed in.
Calista couldn't help it. She listened in fascination.
"Tell me about it. The tech guys are a joke. Half the time they don't show up. Remember two months ago when all the shredders wouldn't work. Took them a week to get them fixed. I thought sure Longnose would make me whip out scissors and start cutting up paper. Up to my elbows in it."
"Yeah, he's the joke. Too ambitious. Drives me up the wall."
"Hey, you want to stop and get coffee and croissants at that cafe?" Raspy voice asked.
"I shouldn't. Almost out of money and Bill keeps complaining about my spending. As if he doesn't spend."
"Aw, come on. One little treat won't hurt."
"Oh, all right."
Calista thought how lucky she was to be self-employed. No bullying bosses and work day aggravations. She wouldn't even be on this train if Samuel hadn't asked her to come to the Conglomerate Bank. After all, he was always there to fix her computer when it went down. Which the darn thing did more often than she liked.
The train eased to a stop at her station. The two women behind her got up as well and hurried off. Everybody was always in a rush it seemed.
The Conglomerate Bank stood on the corner of Main and Sideway. A security guard met Calista at the door since the bank wasn't open yet.
"It's all right," a voice behind the guard spoke. Samuel Raines approached with his customary energetic pace. "She is here at my request."
The guard waved Calista through, turning to the next person at the door.
"Ms. Davis, please follow me." Samuel turned, rapidly walking away.
Odd, thought Calista. Samuel was a good friend and neighbor. He never spoke to her so formally. Shrugging, Calista followed him, nearly running to keep up with his long strides. He ushered her into a private office.
"What's with the formality?" Calista asked as soon as the door closed.
"Sorry about that, Cal. I told everyone that you were here to interview me about tech problems for a women's mag."
"And that's because?"
"I got a big problem here, Cal. There was a breach of security at Conglomerate and I was brought in to find how it happened. We tracked it to this bank because all the customers were from here. There accounts were hacked and a lot of money has disappeared." He sighed in frustration.
"Sam, I'm no tech security expert. You know that. I'm a freelance writer. How do you expect me to help?"
"That's just it, Cal. I don't think there was a hacking breach. I tested everything and can't find one. Online security systems and encryption are working perfectly. I think it is an inside job at this bank."
"Okay, well how do you think I can help?"
"You are great at observing people. I need you to hang around today and see if you see anything that seems out of place. Somebody acting weird or guilty. Just watch. I told them I was making you wait for the interview so you have a reason to linger in the bank."
"Out of the ordinary? Sam, I doubt I'll see anything. If you're right, the guilty party will be on guard. But I'll give it a try."
Sam nodded and motioned for a teller to show Calista where she could stay. The young man showed her to a chair in a corner of the back offices. There she had a good view of everything going on. Calista was eager to work on her book review, but skipped the idea so that she could concentrate on the people.
Most of the employees went about their work as normal. Many seemed tense but that was to be expected due to the investigation. Twice she was approached. Once by a teller who kindly offered her a cup of coffee. The second time was by a man in a suit who looked down his nose at her.
"Who are you?" He demanded.
"I am here to speak with Mr. Raines. He is busy so I had to wait." Calista politely replied, gritting her teeth.
"There is no one here by that name." He imperiously informed her.
One of the tellers was passing them just then and stated, "Mr. Raines is the investigator for the information breach. He is in the security room." She had a familiar, raspy voice, but Calista didnít recognize her.
All the teller got for her helpfulness was a curt reply. "Who ask you? Get back to work!" The man responded as he strode off. At a desk nearby, one of the employees muttered something about Longnose striking again. Odd, though Calista, she thought she'd heard that term recently.
Boring as it was, Calista sat there for three more hours until she had to move around. Asking a teller, she was informed the restroom was in the back and given directions. It was a relief to move around. Just as she emerged from the restroom, she saw the imperious suited guy she'd encountered carrying a large, full trash bag with red ties out the back door. He almost immediately returned.
"Odd," muttered Calista. "With his attitude I wouldn't think he would carry trash." At first she thought to ignore it, but then she decided to investigate. It was the only unusual thing all morning and it would give her something to do.
Stepping out the back door, she ended up in an alley with an overflowing dumpster. Fortunately for her, a trash bag with red ties sat on the ground by the side of the dumpster. Calista undid the knot and stared at lots of paper. Curious, she glanced at a few pieces and gasped. She had to get Sam out here quick.
Within two minutes, Calista, Sam, and another investigator were in the alley. Sam was crouched by the trash bag, rifling through it. Calista had explained on the way to the alley.
"This is it." Sam stood and looked at Calista. "This is our leak. Great work, Cal. Now I need just one more thing. Can you point this guy out to me?"
"Sure thing." She led them inside and directed their attention to the rude man she had seen with the trash bag.
"Thanks, Cal." Sam put a hand on her shoulder and gestured to the other investigator. "Now give White here your statement and go on home."
Calista started to protest, but Sam cut her off. "Cal, please just go. It's better for the investigation not to have you stay. I'll stop by this evening and explain everything."
Nodding, Calista gave her statement and left the bank. The rest of the day she tried concentrating on writing, but her mind kept wandering back to the bank. Finally at 8 p.m., Sam rang her doorbell. They settled in her living room with drinks and Sam began to explain.
"I interrogated the guy and a few other employees. Seems this guy, Reese, is a manager at the bank. To save money, he's been putting off fixing stuff at the bank to make the accounting look good to upper management. One of the things he put off was the paper shredder maintenance."
Calista interrupted, "Now I know where I heard that voice and the name!" Sam looked at her in confusion. "I heard a voice in the bank that was familiar, but couldn't place it. I just realized it was from the train. Two women were discussing their late work nights because of broken shredders and printers. And the name they used was Longnose. He was the one that made them work late. I heard that name muttered after Reese was so rude to me."
"Well Reese, or Longnose, chose to dump documents without shredding because upper management was coming for a visit two months ago. He didn't want to look bad. That's where the initial security breach occurred. He did the same thing today because of the investigators being at the bank." Sam shook his head in disgust.
"So how did the information leak then?" Cal asked.
"One of the trash men found the first batch of documents thrown out. He is deep in debt and decided to use the info to make some money. After you left, we staked out the alley and he showed up. He was checking the dumpster every day for more documents. And before you ask, there was no collaboration. Reese was arrogant and stupid, but he wasn't selling the information."
"Glad it all worked out, Sam." Calista smiled at him.
"Me, too, and it was mainly thanks to you. I really appreciated your help, Calista."
"Anytime, Sam, anytime."
Did you like the mystery? Was it too easy to solve? Would you like more short stories? Please let me know what your thoughts. I would appreciate any feedback.
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