It’s been a few years. I’ve been at a few companies. I’ve leveled up. I’ve tried to learn certain lessons. Software development can take place without necromancy. But as I have attempted to blaze a path of good … fighting for the new grail of the white ones, the mystic trinity of DevOps/Continuous Delivery/Continuous Integration … I’ve found the old dark ways have wound their way in deeply. This is the church of JFDI. There are no prisoners.

I hadn’t realized I had inadvertently accepted a position with the Lords of Blackware until I went to my first backlog grooming session. There, amidst subtle attempts to warp the space time continuum and overwrite all standard notions of best practices, I caught, out of the corner of my eye, the senior development manager trying and failing to hold on to his human form. At one minute, he was a likeable guy fallen foul of a softening rugby physique; and then, over the top of my wish-they-were-bifocals, I could see the red scaled skin and suppurating sores of a programmer who had long ago signed a contract he truly could not break.

The kicker came when he described joyously the recent conquest of his life partner. “She set a meeting outside of core hours, and one of the developers refused to attend, claiming child care conflicts! Well! I’ll have you know she bit his head off right there and then! Blood on the carpet!”

My god, the man had married a lamia. I can see how they’d be really excellent project managers, but their inability to control their tempers and their taste for human flesh – especially that of children – makes them hideously difficult to control in the corporate environment. Chances are she had to arrange things to ensure she was able to keep in her human-acceptable form, and this person’s attempt to get her to operate OUTSIDE of that time period put her at risk of discovery. A quick and painful death doubtlessly served as a great object lesson to his peers, and I’m sure the fact he was a Salesforce expert meant his absence would be mourned by few of the other members of the team. But my God, to gloat about this in front of us? I briefly saw small trickles of ichor glazing down from the ceiling … only to disappear as I looked through, not around my glasses.

The H. P. Lovecraft Institute of Software Design is now officially BACK IN SESSION.

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