Charles Claussen—never Chuck—walked through the lobby, his stacked-leather heels click-clicking on the marble floor, his posture military straight. He didn’t just walk, he marched like a man with a purpose. In reality, he was deeply troubled. He had spent all his political capital and considerable financial resources developing CleanSweep, his top-secret project. “Imagine a world with streets swept clean—no crime and no criminals,” one of his PowerPoint slides boasted.
His project was at risk, however; the safeguards he’d so meticulously designed had somehow been bypassed, and the project’s internal computer security had been compromised. Something wasn’t right. He thought he knew what the problem was—better yet, he now knew who the problem was.
Not given to cursing, he made an exception as he muttered under his breath, “That damn blogger.”
Clenched jaw muscles gave away his anxiety as he paraded with his entourage through the lobby and toward a waiting elevator. Two uniformed men behind the security counter stiffened to attention, the guard on the right tugging his jacket down.
“Good morning, Mr. Claussen,” they almost shouted in unison, their voices combining to create a stereophonic effect. He raised his right arm in passing, a not-quite-casual wave. Later, they would both savor the moment, recalling how the great Mr. Claussen had acknowledged them in passing.
The guard named Fred, who spent most of his free time watching the History Channel, thought the gesture seemed familiar—a sort of salute that tugged at his memories.
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