/ Day 15. Haunting The Ghost

Continued from Day 14. When the Ghost Chases You

Being a social engineer means thinking incredibly fast on your feet. The people you’re conning can be highly unpredictable so you need to be ready for anything. You need to know exactly what to say and deliver it convincingly with a rock solid poker face. Falling out of character for even for an instant could spell disaster. Especially when you’re surrounded by a squad of grunts and your mark is your own father.

Like a chess Grandmaster, Patrick’s mind began working through different strategies and calculations. He needed to stay several steps ahead if he was to come out of this on top. Alright, what could they know? What do they have on me? He’d been meticulous in his planning, he’d covered his tracks, set false leads in his wake. No matter, he knew what he needed to do now. The game was on. “Dad!” He got up to give his father a hug. The man closest to his father moved to block him.

“No, it’s alright. He’s my son,” his father said and the man backed off.

*Protective detail. Interesting. *

They hugged. “It’s so good to see you son,” he said in Patrick’s ear.

“What happened dad?” he asked, still holding on to his father. Shoulder holster.

Releasing his grip, his father rested his hands on his son’s shoulders. He stared at him in silence for a prolonged period. He smiled with his mouth, but not his eyes. So much had happened, so much had changed. “I can’t talk about it,” he said, sitting back down.

Patrick took his seat. “So, dad. What’s going on?” he was playing completely innocent.

“You see that rather irate looking fellow out there?” he said tilting his head toward the glass front door.

There was a man in uniform standing outside by a Humvee. His rank insignia made him a general. So, it’s to be friend and foe. He could handle “good cop/bad cop.”

“He isn’t very happy about what you did and he wants you to return what you stole.”

“Stole? I didn’t steal anything! I was looking for you!”

“Son, who do you think you’re dealing with? This isn’t some third-rate outfit you conned. Listen, right now I’m the only thing standing between you and the hotter-than-hell fury of the Pentagon. And that’s only because I’m your father and made a request for leniency.”

“So, what do they want from me?”

“All the files. Every copy.”

“Then I go free?”


Patrick reached into his pocked and pulled out a thumb drive. He hesitantly handed it to his father.

“This is everything? What about copies?”

“Too sensitive, couldn’t risk keeping more than one copy. I’m not an idiot. I don’t want to bring down a country because I’m looking for my dad.”

The senior Harris paused for a moment, thinking that over. “Alright,” he said, motioning to the men in the room. Two of them walked over to Patrick and began to cuff him.

“But you said I could go!”

“Yes I did. And just as soon as we can verify that this is the only copy, you will.”

One of the men put a black bag over Patrick’s head. “I’d rethink my strategy if I were you,” he said from under the bag.

His father paused and turned toward his son, “oh?”

“Ever heard of a dead man’s switch?”


“Well, if I’m locked up, I won’t be able to stop my contingency plan from ruining your day.”

His father was very attentive now. “What contingency plan?”

“What would your irate general friend out there do if his precious documents got into the public domain? Because that’s exactly what will happen if you cart me off.”

There was silence for a moment.

“Keep him here,” he heard his father say as he walked to the door.

He’s got to check with his boss.

A few moments later the café door chimed as his father walked back in. He signaled the men to take the bag off Patrick’s head. “Uncuff him,” he said with reluctance in his voice.

Patrick smiled. “I’m free to go?”

“Yes. But this isn’t over. We need assurances that those documents will be destroyed.”

“We’ll talk,” he said, walking out the café, past the general and into the night. He needed to get to a safe location and get online. They’d be plugging that thumb drive in soon, and he was looking forward to the access it would give him to their systems.


Read more from the archive.