[ultimate_heading main_heading=”Short Story by Sona Maniar – Issue.XXIII : December 2016 ” main_heading_color=”#1e73be” sub_heading_color=”#8224e3″ spacer=”line_with_icon” spacer_position=”bottom” line_style=”dotted” line_height=”1″ line_color=”#1e73be” icon_type=”custom” icon_img=”id^48|url^http://ashvamegh.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Ashvamegh-ICO.jpg|caption^null|alt^Ashvamegh Journal Icon|title^Ashvamegh ICO|description^null” img_width=”48″ main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_font_size=”desktop:34px;” line_width=”3″ margin_design_tab_text=””]modernist and contemporary…[/ultimate_heading]

The Curious Incident of Hacking

Introduction to the Author:

Sona Maniar is a chemical engineer from UT Austin and an MBA from INSEAD (France). She’s currently working in strategy for a large engineering conglomerate. Her short fiction has been published by the Jellyfish Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, Quail Bell Magazine, Tuck and Femina. More on her website: https://sonamaniarblog.wordpress.com/


Everyone in the East End knew that Jacob Thornton was a successful real estate developer, but the ones who worked for him also knew that he was a painful bastard. Mandy was to discover this first hand.

It was 630 on Monday morning when the phone rang loud and clear, causing her to leap out of bed. Battling with her long tresses, she reached out to answer the phone.

“Adrian, it’s just 630! What on earth is so pressing?”, she practically screamed.

“Mandy, the company website has been hacked.”


“Also, old boy Thornton is aware of it”

“Double bollocks. Alright, I’m onto it.”

As head of Media, Mandy Maine was responsible for the corporate communications and also the corporate website. She immediately logged onto the website. To her alarm, she found that instead of the staid blue and white page with neat sections on business, projects, and financials, there was a picture of chubby old Thornton holding up a placard that had the word “Biz” cancelled and “Piss” scribbled below it. After her initial shock had waned, she burst into laughter at the naughty joke. Then, straightening herself up, she dove into sorting out the mess. She had the software engineers cleaning up the site and within 20 minutes, it was back to its normal self. Still, the matter was far from over. Thornton would be sure to confront her on this subject.

Thornton was a big man in his late sixties who had taken over his family’s ailing construction business and single-handedly built in into a prolific property empire with projects dotted across the length and breadth of the country. But in his advance, he had managed to rub a load of people the wrong way to the extent that the band of folks who disliked or grudged him could easily rival the size of the army of a third world country.

Back in the office, Thornton was least amused by this hack.

“Mandy, look at the sheer audacity of someone trying to trespass Thornton Enterprises!”, Thornton bellowed, his nostrils flaring wide in displeasure.

“Mr Thornton, we’ve strengthened the firewalls in the system. The IT head has assured me that a repeat of this kind would be impossible.”, Mandy explained in an attempt to pacify Thornton.

“Why would someone do such a thing?”

“There could be a few theories to explain this. Bragging rights, or perhaps simply mischief”, Mandy replied.

“Somebody is trying to put me down”, he said wagging his finger. “Mandy, I do not like the fact that the hack happened in the first place. Given that the corporate website is your domain, don’t expect any bonus this year. I’ll deal with IT separately.”

“Mr Thornton, this is most…,” Mandy opened her mouth to protest this unfair ruling. But Thornton dismissed her protests by a mere wave of his hand. And with that, her plans for a holiday in Paris evaporated swiftly, leaving behind a sense of sickly disgust.

At 36, when most women her age would be busy running after their little ones, Mandy was sat by herself in the Hole in the Wall, drowning her woes and dreams and spirit in pints of house beer. Her boyfriend had dumped her the previous summer and since then she had spent all her free moments planning a trip to Paris in hope of a new romance. Now with the bonus gone, Mandy felt as though the general sweetness had been wrung out of her life. She was weighing up her options when her thoughts were interrupted by a deep male voice.

“Sorry. You weren’t the intended victim of the hack”, he said.

She looked up to find a young man in his early thirties, dark hair and a stubble, dressed in a casual pair of jeans, settling onto a bar stool next to her.

“You don’t know me, but I used to work for Thornton and the hack was my way of getting back at him.”

Ah, so it was the case of a disgruntled former employee after all.

“Knowing Thornton, he’ll probably penalize you for this. I’d like to make it up to you.”

“But I don’t even know your name.”

“You don’t need to. I also happened to hack into Thornton’s computer a few days ago. I have some information that could be useful to you.”

Mandy continued to stare at him dumbfounded.

“Thornton is about to report a steep loss and future earnings warning at the investors meeting next week. It will cause the share price to slide. You’ll be better served if you sold your shares in Thornton Enterprises right now.”

With that, Mr Thingummy slid off the bar stool and headed out of the bar. Long after he was gone, Mandy was still sat in the Hole in the Wall, drinking and mulling over the dramatic events till her thoughts became difficult to dissect in any coherent way.

She woke up the next day with a terrible hangover. By afternoon, when her headache had mostly subsided, she decided on a clear agenda – to sell her stock options in Thornton and find herself another job. Any thoughts about reporting Thornton’s computer hack got shoved aside. Sure enough, as the young man had stated, Thornton went on to report a loss and lowered the earnings guidance at the next investors meet. The market reacted adversely, but because of her timely sale, Mandy was adequately shielded. In the final analysis, she realized that the profit she made from the sale of the stock options far exceeded any bonus amount that she may have received.

Later that summer, Mandy was in Paris for her much awaited vacation. On a cool and clear night, as the moon rays streamed gently into the hotel room, she got out of the bed, where Remi, her French date lay sprawled across, bare. She paced up to the window and looked out. The waters of the river Seine flowed serenely in the night and one could spot the Eiffel Tower looking majestic in the distance. Below the window, there were a few passers-by, when Mandy noticed a figure standing under the streetlight. He seemed somewhat familiar, young looking and dressed in casual pair of jeans. Could that be the unknown hacker? Was he stalking her? She couldn’t tell. She paced back

to Remi, his hand pressed eagerly into hers and in response, her fingers curled tightly around his palm.