The Lafayette Deception, Chap. 10: Vive la Revolución!

Welcome to the sequel to The Alexandria Project, a cybersecurity thriller.  If you'd like to read the book this series is based on, you can read the first three chapters for free here.

Courtesy Kamalnv/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 UnportedFrank looked hungrily at the establishments on both sides of the main drag of Cedar City, Utah. He’d lost eighteen pounds, and it was payback time.

It had been early that morning, before sunrise, that he had left his campsite on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Now it was almost Noon, and he was a third of the way through Utah and had waited long enough. Impatient drivers swung around him as he motored slowly up the street, compiling a mental list of every restaurant, bakery, ice cream store and other variety of food emporium he encountered along the way.

With increasing absorption, he reshuffled his priorities and his order of attack. So far, the Häagen-Dazs shop was hanging on to first place. But he was intrigued by the possibility that forestalling the ingestion of a triple dip dulce de leche cone until desert might accentuate the delight of the experience through heightened anticipation.

Isn’t it time you  read:
The Alexandria Project?

a Tale of Treachery and Technology

Remarkably accurate while consistently spellbinding: I ran across a reference to this book at a blog unrelated to the author, and after reading one chapter, bought the book

Great thriller: In the spirit of Vincent Flynn and Tom Clancy, this cyber-security thriller is a great read. Compelling characters, great detail and an an unsettlingly plausible scenario add up to a real page-turner.

Delightfully unpredictable!  Updegrove has managed what many attempt but few can execute: a plot that is both credible and surprising….A great read – I can’t wait for the next one!

Strong characters and compelling plot: I read a lot of novels and this is a very good one. The characters are believable and engaging and the plot is compelling with several clever twists along the way….Highly recommended

Excellent and accessible techno-thriller: Updegrove…clearly knows the subject matter inside and out, but is too self-assured and smooth a writer to hide behind that insider’s knowledge….I look forward to Updegrove’s next book with great anticipation.

Great Read:  This is a very well written, highly engaging story. The scary thing about it is that the entire plot is far too possible to come to life.

Fantastic!  The Alexandria Project is a gripping novel of intrigue and suspense. The characters may be fictional, but we all know their real-life equivalents. The storyline may be fiction – but maybe not.

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But what if his sense of taste had become satiated by then? It seemed like an unwise risk to take. Perhaps he should have one cone now, and another later?

Visions of ice cream, pizza, and cheeseburgers provided a welcome diversion from the obsession that had been dominating his attention since he had discovered the exploit the hackers had used to hijack the pollsters’ data. He was beginning to feel like Butch Cassidy, constantly wondering, who were those guys? For weeks now he had been trying to devise a plan to figure that out. He told himself it was just because it would be fun to show up Butcher’s boys one more time, but he knew that it went deeper than that.

So far, he’d had no luck, because it seemed that the hackers had withdrawn from the field. Nothing suspicious was probing his honeypot system. And the poll results he was reading in the news seemed to be tracking the reality (if that wasn’t an oxymoron) of the candidates themselves. So where to begin, with the trail gone so totally cold?  Maybe a change of scenery would loosen up his thinking.

He had another reason for leaving the Grand Canyon behind: winter was upon him, and he had no desire to spend another season besieged by blizzards in the wilderness. It was time to head back east, he told himself. Not all the way, necessarily, but at least close enough to score the occasional creature comfort when the spirit moved him.

– 0000 – 0001 – 0010 – 0011 0100 0011 – 0010 – 0001 – 0000 –

An hour and a half later, an extremely bloated and remorseful Frank Adversego wheeled his camper back onto Interstate 15, heading north. He thought he might be sick at any moment, and was beginning to think that it might be a good thing if he was. Thank goodness Cedar City’s main street hadn’t been any longer than it was.

Maybe thinking about his destination would provide a distraction. His first highway option to head east would be Route 70, which was not far ahead. That would take him into Colorado. What was in Colorado? The Rocky Mountains? No sense stopping there. Too much snow. Where did 70 go from there? He glanced at the road atlas on the passenger seat. Hmmm. Kansas. Was there anything in Kansas besides cornfields? What other options did he have?

There was a Route 76 heading northeast from Denver. That led to Route 80 in Nebraska. More cornfields. He was about to flip the page back to Utah and see what he might find farther north when he noticed where Route 80 went after it left Nebraska – Iowa.

Immediately, he was transfixed. That was where the first real test of the primary season would be held – the Iowa caucuses! If the hackers that attacked the pollsters’ systems were still up to no good, wouldn’t that be where they would strike next? He keyed Des Moines, Iowa into the GPS on his dashboard and glanced at the readout. Just over 1200 miles. He could be there in a couple of days, no problem.

– 0000 – 0001 – 0010 – 0011 0100 0011 – 0010 – 0001 – 0000 –

Once again, Judd Powell was sitting alone in his car, parked for privacy behind a fast food restaurant a few blocks away from the Holiday Inn where the rest of the Wellhead entourage was settling in.

“Yes, I was right beside him. I’m always right beside him. But what do you want me to do? Throw a bag over his head every time it looks like he might say something ridiculous?”

The voice at the other end of the line was characteristically icy. “I don’t care what you do. The reason I pay your ridiculous rates is so I don’t have to orchestrate every move you make. Your job is to keep Wellhead from getting cornered by journalists to begin with.”

“How do you expect me to do that? He’s a candidate, for Pete’s sake! And if he doesn’t end up on the evening news every night, then you’re calling me out for underexposing him!”

“That’s your problem. And you better solve it right now, because there are plenty of others that would jump at the chance to replace you.” The line went dead.

Powell gave an involuntary shiver, but not from the cold. This guy simply gave him the creeps. Getting screamed at by a client was par for the course in his business. Yelling was easy to ignore; just set the phone down until it was over and then pick it up again after the buy was done blowing off steam. This guy never yelled. But something about him left you convinced that he was having you watched all the time. Powell had started to refer to his client to himself as “the Cobra.”

To be fair, the reporter from the local network affiliate had caught Wellhead being even more asinine than usual, which was saying a great deal indeed. Instead of letting the other candidates be lampooned by the press for their latest ridiculous comments, Wellhead had tried to one up them.

Powell turned his car on, and the radio picked up the evening news just after the headlines. He cringed as he listened to Wellhead’s unmistakable, folksy drawl repeat the statement that had so delighted the liberal pundits earlier in the day:

Well, I can assure you that if I’m successful in my quest for the Oval Office, I won’t just offer my opinion on whether Fidel Castro will end up in heaven or that other place.  Why, I’ll send me a few secret agents down there and we’ll find out the fact of the matter right…

That had been as far as Wellhead had gotten before Powell hustled him away from the reporter’s microphone.  But it had been enough to guarantee him airtime on every radio and TV news show for the rest of the day. Powell braced himself for what would come next on the broadcast.

Former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro today published an editorial in which he wrote:

“The selection of a Republican candidate for the presidency of this globalized and expansive empire is — and I mean this seriously — the greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance that has ever been.”

Powell smiled and felt the knot in his stomach begin to loosen. Maybe that crazy old bastard of a revolutionary wasn’t so crazy after all.

– 0000 – 0001 – 0010 – 0011 0100 0011 – 0010 – 0001 – 0000 –

No, all he needed was to keep Wellhead from going so far off the deep end that no one could believe it when the primaries started to turn in his favor, ultimately giving him enough delegates to sew up the nomination.  Or when the election itself went his way. A few blocks away, Lamar Wellhead’s most trusted advisor put down the phone in his Holiday Inn room.  If his plan was to bear fruit, it was clear that he’d need to surround his candidate with additional layers of defense.  Luckily, those defenses didn’t need to be perfect. A previous candidate from Texas had proven that you could be quoted saying ridiculous things all the time and still be elected president – not once, but twice. That was a hugely fortuitous bit of recent history.

The advisor poured himself a generous scotch from the travel flask in his suitcase, and settled in to watch the rest of the broadcast on Pox News.  Happily, it seemed as if Wellhead’s quote of the day wasn’t noticeably more idiotic than those of his rivals.

It would be an interesting challenge keeping his erstwhile candidate in check between now and November, but at least one thing was already in the bag: when the votes were counted, Lamar Wellhead would be the next president of the United States.

– 0000 – 0001 – 0010 – 0011 0100 0011 – 0010 – 0001 – 0000 –

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Comments (2)

  1. Is Frank up to his tricks again?  Seems he drove into Cedar City, ate at every establishment, and then sated left Main street in Cedar Springs?

    Don’t know if this is a typo, or a new meaning of the word buy.  It currently reads: … just set the phone down until it was over and then pick it up again after the ‘buy’ was done …


    • Minrich,


      I’d like to be able to say that I was trying to help you see things through Frank’s bleary, besotted eyes, but it’s not likely I’d be able to get away with that.  So I guess I’ll just have to say thanks for catching that instead.


        –  Andy



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