Author: Katlina Sommerberg
Joe has until the automatic build at 12:05 am sharp to submit his feature. It’s a stupid button that does in one click what used to take five, and the UX designers loved it in his presentation last month. It hadn’t been done before because of all the bugs, and the company’s flagship app can’t have even a minor glitch.
He’s up to his eyeballs in code, blue irises flicking from right to left monitor in a state of caffeine-induced hysteria. Dark mode is on, but his raw eyes are weighed down with so much exhaustion, even coffee is useless. His #gamerlife white mug can’t cheer his spirits. Neither can the Funko POP’s LT. Simon “Ghost” Riley.
11:45 pm. Less than fifteen minutes left. His palms, slick with sweat, fumble. But he still types the right commands into his terminal. Five minutes until everything finishes compiling on his local machine and the unit test results spit out, in borderline unreadable text format, in his transparent terminal.
He leans back into his ergonomic chair. Joe sinks one inch into the seat, but he barely notices as his eyeballs are glued to the screen. He sips the coffee, adds a pack of sugar. His legs fold into a misshapen pretzel, squishing down into the blue cushion.
11:50 pm. The build finishes. He tries to sit forward, but he only manages a twitch. His back won’t leave the chair. Grumbling, he determines to never work so hard he forgets to show for three days again, but it’s a lie. He tells himself this at least twice a month.
He pulls the desk. It wiggles, and his chair rockets forward. His knees slam, hitting his keyboard. It flies off and clanks on one of the many desks in the open office.
Joe doesn’t watch it soar through the air or contemplate the pain in his knees. He’s laughing in open-mouth astonishment at the screen. He’s passed all the checkpoints. He can submit this code to the cloud. His feature will be added to the next release.
He reaches for his laptop, but his hands can’t leave the armrests. Tugging harder, he screams when his thumb breaks free, leaving the skin stuck to the metal. He sinks down another inch. When he looks down, his mouth opens wider and his eyes go wide. His pelvis is completely fused with the blue cushion. His legs and torso connect to stiff padding, and his hips are nowhere in sight.
Now he’s shrieking. Wordlessly. Nobody hears, because nobody stays in the office this late on a Wednesday night.
The chair engulfs him, swallows him whole. The blue cushions, vibrant and squishier now, are as pristine as the day the factory shipped them off. Inside, somewhere between the chair’s metal frame and delightfully cozy padding, Joe is still screaming.
12:05 am. His feature builds, and Joe’s code successfully enters the core components of his company’s product line.
Meanwhile, Joe is still screaming, but only inside what remains of his brain. Tomorrow, his manager will discover the miraculous comfy chair mistakenly delivered to Joe instead of himself, and he will swap chairs. Then Joe will really have something to scream about.