Chapter 21 Page 4 of 5

The backlog of funds transfers that would normally have been sent on July 31st were sent the next day instead. All banking activity returned to normal. The only difference is that the Key Translation service for X9.17 is no longer offered. All banks must use the Point-to-Point Environment or the Key Distribution Environment. Those banks that had been using the Key Translation Environment were forced to switch over to the Key Distribution Environment. Since the key distribution service places no additional operational requirements on the participating banks, this is an easy switch to make and even these banks were able to resume normal EFT operations the next day. The public would remain forever oblivious of the peril that the banking infrastructure had suffered just days before. The United States had been brought to the brink of economic collapse. People that just days before had stood at the precipice and witnessed the near-plunge, filed slowly out of the room. The debriefing was over. There were only fifty of us, not counting the President and his cabinet. And it would remain fifty forever more. This was the theme that was emphasized most heavily in the debriefing: tell no one. Not ever.

As I walked out of the debriefing room with Lisa, neither one of us spoke. The meeting had ended on a somber note. We had been the first to leave, exiting quietly and promptly after the meeting concluded. While I considered several of the people in that room my friends, I was not sure I wanted to play in their world. Too dark, sinister, and secretive. Lisa and I walked down the empty hallway side by side. Lisa pushed the button to summon the elevator. The elevator doors opened and we stepped in. Lisa pressed the button for the lobby. The doors shut. She heaved a great sigh. “I want to forget everything and everybody from the last month,” she said. “If I never see another FBI agent in my life I’ll be happy… although Jonny was kinda cute,” she added with a smirk. Then her face contorted back into one of of complete exhaustion. “It has been exciting, I must admit. Nonetheless I’m glad it is over.”

As we stepped out of the elevator I suddenly realized that it was indeed over. Lisa and I would be going our separate ways. Apparently she was in a hurry to resume the life she was living a few weeks prior, before I interfered with her financial transactions. We had come together due to a coincidence: hers was one of the accounts that the millwright had selected on July 11th; and it was on that same day that I decided to study EFT error-handling procedures at First Chicago. Now, that which had brought us together was resolved.

“I guess this is it,” I offered.

“Yup. Finally! Now everything can return to normal,” she replied.

Yes, normal. The last few weeks had been wild; it would take me a while to settle back into my old routine… I was going to miss her.

“It was nice meeting you…” I let the words trail off.

She cocked her head to one side and adjusted the flap on her collar with her left hand. I tried to read her expression but couldn’t. Was she sorry to be saying goodbye? Her comments and attitude in the elevator would lead one to believe that she was all too happy to part ways.

“Well…” I didn’t know what to say next. I took a few steps toward the door.

“Uh… Carl,” she said. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“Umm… I dunno.”

The corners of her mouth twitched upward in a hint of a smile while her eyes sparkled with obvious amusement. She stepped closer. Her hand slipped behind my head and her fingers slid up my neck and into my hair. She gently brought my head down to hers. Her lips gently brushed against mine. They were warm, her breath warmer still. I reached out and wrapped my arms around her midriff. She pressed her abdomen against mine; I hugged her tighter. Her flesh was firm and yet it welcomed the pressure from mine. Her breathing came faster.


The elevator doors parted wide. I felt Lisa’s frame stiffen as she straightened up. I ungrasped my hands and let my arms fall away from her waist. She busied herself straightening the front of her blouse. A man I did not recognize stepped out of the elevator, glanced in our direction, nodded his head slightly, and walked on by and out the revolving door. Lisa looked up at me and smiled sheepishly.

“Well, where are you headed Mr. Hacker-Cracker?”