A near-future story of terrorism for profit. And loss.
Amer earned a very lucrative living by protecting large corporations from terrorist attacks… and investing wisely, through short sales and put options, on companies that failed to heed his offered “protection.”
But Amer’s success brought challenges. Not from disgruntled clients. Not from Federal regulators.
From rival entrepreneurs eager to disrupt his highly profitable industry.
From rival entrepreneurs who hit very close to home.
Sample of “Strike Prices”
Strike price: The price at which a stock or commodity contract may be bought (upon exercise of a call option) or sold (upon exercise of a put option).
One Monday morning in January, Amer walked across the lawn from his house to his office. The sounds of south Florida’s non-winter drifted to him from elsewhere in the gated community of acreage home sites. The distant buzz of mowers and edgers. The thwock of tennis balls from his neighbor’s backyard court, hidden by an eight-foot vine-covered iron fence. The plash of an alligator slinking into the canal behind Amer’s property.
His office had reinforced concrete walls two stories high, and a metal roof pressed and painted to look like red Spanish tiles. On a slab outside, the air conditioner condenser kicked into life as Amer approached.
At the door, he pressed his thumb to the fingerprint reader and exposed his retina to the scanner. Not even his wife or daughter could enter his office without him. With thuds and whirs, the door released its magnets and locks. Amer went inside.
After five minutes spent checking his office for signs of overnight intrusion, he settled into his upstairs desk chair. With the press of a button, he opened the curtains over the jalousie window. The window’s slats striped the view of the canal and the boathouses and mansions beyond it. More biometrics and a twenty-character password later, the bank of computer monitors woke up.
A quick check of the markets, then Amer got to work on his current project. A shortage in electricity deliveries to the western terminus of the trans-Atlantic superconducting cable would drive up electricity prices. He already owned a sizable long position in March futures contracts, as well as call options at popular strike prices on those same contracts. He could buy more, but every additional purchase could clue others in to his strategy.
He massaged his forehead with long fingers. A shortage in photovoltaic electricity from Africa might boost the stock prices of alternative energy providers. Lockheed Martin, FusorX…. a boost for FusorX could increase demand for boron… how many boron futures contracts could he buy unnoticed—?
The videophone app popped up an incoming call notification. The field team?
He relaxed. Iasmine. His daughter. He opened the call.
The way her sweatshirt’s hood bunched at her neck made her face like a flower opening from a gray bud. Her wide eyes, her unblemished skin, her oval face—she must know her beauty, but she dressed modestly and spoke of boys rarely, and only as distractions to her studies. She never pried about how he made his living and always treated Amer with proper respect.
Thank God. If she knew how little Amer could refuse her, she would ask for the moon, and he would neglect all else to acquire deed to it.
Despite his thoughts, he put on a paternal front. “Daughter, shouldn’t you be in class?”
“I have a few minutes before I need to go.”
“It must be cold there. Are you dressed warmly enough? Where are your hat and gloves?”
“By the door. Don’t worry, father, I’ll put them on when I leave.” She took a breath. “While I have a few minutes, I called to ask you something.”
Amer shook his head. “I will not raise your allowance—”
“Father, no, it’s, spring break is coming in less than two months, and I’d like to take a trip this year.”
“You don’t want to come home?”
“It’s not a party trip, father. Honestly. I’ve seen too many girls, and even some boys, come back the worse for spring break. I’d rather stay in my dorm than do that. No, it’s a service trip. Brighton University Students for World Peace. They’re going to central Asia to deliver refurbished phones and tablets to the Uyghurstan refugees.” She widened her eyes and an icy part of him melted. “I want to go.”
“Central Asia.” Amer leaned back in his chair. “You think because there’s no beach there won’t be any partying?”
Her expression crinkled. “Father, please believe me, that’s not why I want to go. There’s no way to party there. The host agency requires RFID chips in every bottle of alcohol and insists male-female married couples from the faculty go along as chaperones.”
Amer’s mouth scrunched. “Even if that’s so, I’ve told you, humanitarian aid doesn’t work. It all goes to the warlords and corrupt bureaucrats,