Short Story Fiction
Pride Before the Fall
Scott A. Gese

Cliff Waters had screwed up and he knew it. He was hiding the truth from his stockholders. If they caught on his company would be ruined.

pride before the fallOPT Lasers/Pexels

Transient thoughts about letting them know were fleeting at best. As soon as those thoughts reached the forefront of his mind he brushed them aside like a pesky fly. He never gave them a second thought.

He knew if he spoke up, his reputation would be tarnished and his career would be ruined. He couldn’t let that happen. His pride was too great.

Cliff was known by many of his peers in the industry as the golden child. He had an uncanny ability to always make the right decision under pressure. He thrived on short deadlines and reveled in the thrill of capturing a worthy client.

The accolades and the compliments stroked his ego and puffed him up. For Cliff Waters, being at the top of the heap and the center of attention was as good as it could get. He wasn’t about to give it up. Until he could get a handle on the situation. He deflected the blame squarely on the backs of the staff in his I.T. Department. He would take the secret to his grave.


It all started when Cliff was tipped off about a new software program his main competitor, Coastal Cutters, had developed. The software would revolutionize the laser cutting machines they manufactured.

This was no surprise. Cliff’s company, 3D Cutters, knew this was coming.

Procuring new accounts for the cutting machine industry was a highly competitive market. Both companies constantly jockeyed for the most prime accounts. To Cliff, this was a high stakes game and he played to win.

If Coastal Cutters released new software, it would put his company at a distinct disadvantage. He didn’t plan to let that happen. He had safety precautions in place for times like this.

Cliff had spent the past two years placing a high level executive within the ranks of his competitor. They were in contact on a regular basis. He knew more about the inner workings of Coastal Cutters than most of its employees.

The insider had access to the companies software development department. The information he was able to get was thought to be classified. The insider was working on getting an actual copy of the software. Cliff needed it before Coastal Cutters released it. His reputation depended on it. His ego required it.


Yancy Jacks was the owner of Coastal Cutters. Six months ago he had discovered the mole Cliff had placed within his company. He could have fired the guy but instead he decided to use him to his advantage. He fed him low level classified information every now and again just to keep him believing he was earning his keep.

The time would come when Yancy Jacks would use him to take 3D to the mat.

Coastal was putting the finishing touches on a new software program that would revolutionize the industry. He knew the insider would try to get his hands on a copy to give to 3D.

He had his developers come up with a close replica that included a deadly virus hidden within the program.

The virus would be release at the appropriate time. The infected software was placed in a file where the insider would find it. It didn’t take long.

At their weekly meeting the insider had good news for Cliff. He had managed to get his hands on a copy of the new software. He also let Cliff know that Yancy was planning to bring out the new software in one month.

Cliff was ecstatic. He had his developers quickly brand the software to look like they had developed it. If he released it before Coastal, 3D would take the credit and his companies stock price would soar. There was no time to waste.

Cliff made the mistake of trusting what he had been given as the real deal. He didn’t bother to have it thoroughly examined.

3D released the updated software with much fanfare. The industry was excited to see it in action. Once the software had been marketed and installed on 3D client machines, Coastal unleashed the deadly virus.

It worked perfectly.

Two weeks after the virus was released, 3D was scrambling. They were in big trouble. The software was crashing all their clients machines, rendering them useless. The companies software team worked feverishly to find the the source of the problem. They needed to develop a patch, but they didn’t understand the software well enough to make that happen fast enough.

Meanwhile Coastal released a proprietary software packet as a replacement. 3D’s clients scrambled to get it. Once they installed it, they were essentially the clients of Coastal Cutters.

Cliff had been beaten at his own game. His pride wouldn’t let him admit it was his fault.

He blamed the software problems on his developers instead. They knew the truth and many of them left the company.

With all the new clients, Coastal Cutters had grown exponentially and gladly hired them.

Cliff wasn’t sure if his company would survive the debacle. They didn’t. After struggling for the next 6 months, they closed their doors for good.

Cliff Waters faded out of sight and was never heard from again.

© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

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