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Craig Baird is from Alberta, Canada. He has written several short stories and also writes a monthly column for a local newspaper--Riverbend Ragg Times. While being a part-time writer (and hoping to become full-time), he is currently an IT Administrator.

* * *

Thomas entered the building; he walked past his coworkers as they typed away on the computers he maintained for them. He had been the IT guy here for longer than he wanted to admit and longer than he cared to remember. Years ago, he had dreamed of owning his own programming business but those dreams had faded with his vanished youth. He used to be an energetic young man with a full head of hair; now he was a large, overweight balding single man who spent his days working for a company that didn't respect him. In his younger years he had spent endless hours on the computer, which had filled him joy, and now it had changed to resentment.

Thomas walked into his office. It was a small, poorly lit space tucked away in the corner of the building, away from the front, away from the other employees, nestled in his little corner of the world. The office, cluttered as always, was filled with IT books laid out across his desk and on his filing cabinet. Everything from programming in Visual Basic to Networks for Dummies was there. Printed out emails and office memorandums were stacked in a makeshift pile next to his filing cabinet.

"I should really put those away" he thought to himself. He often thought about organizing his office but never actually followed through on the task.

To his left was the humming of the servers, four in all, which were placed in his office, rather in another location for the sake of convenience. Thomas hated them, each day from 8am to 4pm he heard the hum and whine of the servers as they emitted their warm air into his cramped, dirty, noisy, hellish office. He placed his bag down next to his desk and looked to his phone; the message indicator was on as usual. Every time he came in for his day there was a message waiting for him. He hated that little black triangle next to the 'Msg Wait' button. He hated pressing that button even more but despite the need to ignore it, he pressed the button.

"You have three new messages" said the computerized voice. He pressed the '1' key on his phone to listen to the messages.

"Thomas its Janice. I was using my computer here but the email does not seem to work now. I can receive fine but I can't send out, call me please."

He pressed the '9' key to delete it.

"Next Message" the computer voice said.

"Hey Thomas it's Dale. My email is not working. It was working fine yesterday but now it's not. Can you get this fixed for me please? Thanks."

He deleted the message.

"Next Message"

"Thomas. This is Michael. I was with clients and I attempted to email out a copy of an agreement to their reps but it came back with an error message. This is not good and I am not happy about it. Our email should be working and I should not have to worry whether I am going to look like an ass in front of very important clients. Fix this and call me."

Anger…annoyance rise…push down…Cover and repress.

"Same shit, different day," Thomas muttered. "Five years in this company and still no one can take the time to ready my emails. I emailed everyone advising about the changes in the system to make it more efficient. I told them all that they had to change was a setting in their email; I emailed them all instructions on how to do it. Yet they don't do it and then complain when their email doesn't work" Thomas shook the feelings away.

The phone rang piercing the silence of the humming servers.

Anger…repress…replace…smile…be happy.

"Thomas Speaking" he said.
"Thomas this is Dale again. Did you get my message?"
"Yes I did, I was jus…"
"My email isn't working properly."
"I know I was just abo…"
"I know it's not anything I did, because I haven't changed anything"


While still retaining his professional tone, he replied-- "Actually that is the problem. I emailed everyone instructions for changing their email to make it work better but I don't think that it was done on your computer."

"Why do we have to change things when it's working fine beforehand? Can't I just keep using my computer the same way I always did?" Dale asked snidely.
"It's just a small setting that needs to be changed. It won't take long," replied Thomas.

The "Msg Wait" triangle showed up again.

Anger…annoyance…repress…bubble to surface…mask with politeness.

"All right fine! What do I do?" asked Dale.
"It's in the email I sent you," replied Thomas.
"Well I don't want to go looking for this email. Can you just tell me over the phone? Isn't that your job?" Dale shot back.
"Sure. I will help you now," Thomas sighed with an air of resignation.

Annoyance creaking through his polite floorboards releasing hints of it in his speech.

"I just need you to go into your Outlook Express, Click on Tools, Accounts, and click your account then click change," said Thomas.
"Left click?" Dale asked.

Frustration bursting through shielded surface rising to the floorboards of his mind. Push back down to the basement…. Maintain.

"Yes left click. Always Left Click."
"Okay. I'm there, now what?"
"Click SMTP Server and change it from mail.vorilin.com to mail.sismtl.com"
"Change it now?"

Anger seeping through floorboard cracks.

"Yes…," Thomas said through clenched teeth. "Try it now!"
"Oh. It works now. K Bye" Dale said before hanging the phone up with a click.
"You're welcome" Thomas said to no one on the other line.


Thomas sat there for a moment, thinking about his office and job. Nobody seemed to listen to him around here. He was just the IT nerd who fixed problems, had bad hair and was generally taken for granted or made the butt end of jokes which he was never meant to overhear. Things had not changed after high school. He did not get that high paying dream job, the model wife, or the fancy house. In fact, his fancy house was a small apartment atop a supermarket. The noise always filtered up to him. The sound of carts, people, children, noises were always there. They continually egged him on and pushed at him. He could not escape the noise. The noise of home, the noise of cars and the outdoors, the noise of servers humming incessantly in his office, never stopping.

He looked to the servers. Lights blinking, humming continuing, heat spewing and making his office half a sauna, half a deep freeze.

Frustration cracking floorboards, walls shaking, mind rattling!

He began to fidget with himself, twiddling his thumbs as his body started to shake. Years of turmoil, noise and confusion spewing through his mind like a flood of disjointed memories destroying the house of the mind. Eyes darting back and forth as he tried to calm himself.

Push down…patience…anger and frustration push back…fight anger…push patience…understanding…frustration and anger pushes back harder than before.
The walls shook in his mind and the memories fell off the walls as the anger seeped through every nook and cranny.

The phone rang.

Walls snap, floor rises in thrust of splintered wood, patience falls, and anger replaces the void left by it.

Thomas grabbed the phone from his desk, ripped it from the wall and threw it with everything he had at the server. A loud crash emanated from his office traveling at the speed of sound through the hallways; causing heads to rise from keyboards as they were shaken from their waking slumber by the crash of anger over patience. The server began to emit a piercing shrill like a wounded pig bleeding from the spear in its side.

Anger consumes all, house in ruins, only multiplying anger and rage remains.

With a heave of strength, he ripped his monitor from the desk and threw it into the server, then the CPU, then his keyboard. The server smokes emitted the same shrill distress signal, as if it were begging for help from anyone but the raving mad lunatic in front of it. The server did not understand what was happening to it; it could not. It was a machine designed to make the lives easier for those outside of the humming.

Thomas grabbed the mouse, swinging it like David swinging his sling against the monster Goliath. He let go and the mouse flew through the air before meeting its end against a machine one hundred times its size.

Workers left their offices in response to the server distress.

Thomas vibrated with anger as he looked for more to throw against his tormentor. The monster-- always laughing, humming; he hated it and must destroy it. The hate for it consumed him, fed by the seething anger.

Thomas grabbed his handy screwdriver, the one he had used to build so many mini-monsters and so many agents of the monster in front of him. The screwdriver he had used to repair so much; the screwdriver he now used to destroy the chains of his life. Running at the monster in front of him with his lance held high, he prepared to strike.

Workers started to return to the office. They saw what used to be Thomas-destroying his beloved server, destroying their link to the outside world, destroying the link to the continuation of their business.

Thomas made one last scream as he drove the spear home into the belly of the beast, piercing through its soft spot. The spear ripped into it aided by the increased strength, courtesy of the anger.

The workers saw him shove the screwdriver in the power supply.

A flash consumed the room and Thomas with it.

Thomas fell onto the ground, heart pounding in the last attempts to keep alive after a counter attack from the monster.

Workers shielded their eyes from the flash. The server went dark, and Thomas fell, with electricity coursing through his body as his chest heaved for the last time.

Thomas lay there looking up at the dead monster. The light of its eyes gone… the noise, the hum- gone.

He closed his eyes and for the first time he heard its silence.


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