Friday, January 27, 2012


The icons behind Yuri's overlapping text editor windows -- windows containing lines of code so small his boss swore it would drive a sane man blind -- shimmered losing their form of folders and documents to become gravestones still maintaining their grid pattern over a background landscape of the peninsula's oak covered hills. Yuri glanced at the vodka bottle, but it was only a third gone. He blinked. The graves remained.

He shook his head. The old Romany soothsayer had claimed he'd die this week. She was a fake. They had no power and she was just annoyed that Yuri's LAN party had kept her awake all weekend.

Hell, maybe the problem was he hadn't had enough yet. He poured himself a shot, and for good measure poured another one, because you didn't have a problem if you never drank alone. He kicked the cubicle wall to shoot his chair into the aisle. Yuri looked left and right, but no one walked down the aisle next to his cube anymore. It made no sense to him.

Since the QA team couldn't leave until he'd committed his features, he headed towards the QA bullpen. The drop was due today. Sure, some bugs they could check from home, but a half dozen regressions required on-site testing. He couldn't afford this nonsense. But, the bullpen was empty. They had to be here.

He looked at his feet, the same feet that thundered on the wooden floors of the flamenco lounge where his dance instructor tut-tutted him. Dancers were supposed be light on their feet, but he was ex-military. They must've heard him coming. Of course, that made no sense, wouldn't they have wanted a shot.

The lead QA had a parrot whose legs dangled over the edge of the desk and the birds beak was wide open. Yuri shrugged and poured the shot down its throat. The bird was the company's mascot, and he supposed giving it a drink would be good luck for the build. He stalked back to his cubicle.

Even after another drink, he still had gravestones on his screen. He ran a process checker, but it came up clear. He snooped the packets on the network, but nothing there either.

"Hey, when you going to check-in?" the lead QA asked.

Yuri poured a shot, but when he swiveled his chair, there was no one there. He stood and saw the lead QA hurrying away. Yuri rolled his eyes and slammed the shot down. He'd tried.

Only one more change and he'd have everything finished that product had wanted. Yuri supposed he should ignore the graves on the edge of the screen, and he pulled up the code again. Fat fingers dancing over the keyboard, creating line after line of code.

The graves shook and pixelated zombies crawled out from underneath them, and began to push the windows around his screen. His keyboard stopped working. Yuri looked at the vodka bottle and decided to take a swig.

The alarm on his smartphone vibrated. He needed to depart for his flamenco lesson if he was to arrive on time. But, he razzed the others when they checked in code that wasn't tested properly. How could he test his changes when the windows on the screen wouldn't sit still.

"You done yet?" This time the lead QA didn't run away.

"I'm trying." Yuri shrugged. "Look at my display." When Yuri turned back to his desk, the icons were the normal folders and documents. "Stay right there."

With the lead QA over his shoulder, Yuri finished the final callbacks and revised the unit tests. The build ran smoothly and every unit test completed. Yuri slugged the lead QA's shoulder. "Your job now. I'm out of here." He glanced at the time. He'd miss warm-ups, but he could still make the lesson.

"Better be no bugs."

This code would be clean. He ran down the stairs, elevators were for wimps, and slid into the front seat of his Mustang.

The engine roared when he slammed the gas pedal. He was thrust back against the seat. His window blackened and Yuri couldn't see a thing in front of him. And then pixelated gravestones appeared in front of him. Zombies crawled across his windshield until the glass shattered and Yuri was thrown forward to roll across the nose of his car and onto the concrete.

Yuri's blood spilled across the concrete. The sun grew dim. A man with a face of bone stood over him, dressed in a trenchcoat.

Yuri croaked, "Why?"

The teeth in the bones face parted and Yuri supposed it was the closest they could come to a smile. "Thought you'd like the gimmick."

"But, it's not my time. She has no power."

Death shook his head. "They always say that."


  1. Should have stayed at the office! I like a Death with gimmicks.

    1. I fear gimmicky death would find a way to overcome staying at the office ;)

  2. Oh poor Yuri - the life of a programmer or should I say death ^_^ Nice story!

    I think in this sentence, "He was supposed to leave to the flamenco lesson. you missed out go to

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I thought of you as it was turning dark for the final twist. Thanks for the note, I've modified the sentence above.

  3. When it's time to go, it's time to go.

    I like the little twists, and his fractured thought processes as the tale unfolds.

    1. Inevitably, many of us try to battle that process as much as possible.

  4. If they serve shots in QA, no wonder so many bugs wind up in my programs!

    1. Its the shots in Dev that really sink you ;)

  5. Great piece - love the fact he still had time to test his code!

  6. teeth in the bones face is a great line.. This is another wonderfully wild tale Aidan. You do have the strangest of imaginations, but all the better for it!

  7. Drinking at work! Must be one tough job.

    1. Especially tough for anyone who passes Yuri's desk.