Our summer break continues. For some people, summer means outdoor fun. If, like me, you hate sun and temperatures above "chilly", it can instead mean air-conditioned indoor fun. And it's all fun and games until someone loses their job. Original. -- Remy

Frank slammed his axe into his co-worker's skull. Ernest grunted and raised his double-barreled shotgun in reply. "Merry Christmas!" he shouted as he fired both barrels. Frank exploded into several gore-colored polygons.

"Jerk," Frank grumbled as he waited for his respawn. It was late Decemeber, 1997, an era of before thumb-drives and when Quake was the best deathmatch money could buy. Normally, such lunch-time and break-time violence was frowned upon, but it was the holidays. When most of the office is on vacation, and the people that aren't just need to keep the lights on and not make trouble, you can get away with those sorts of things, so long as you uninstall it after the New Year. They Quaked away through the holidays.

Months later, the Auditor swooped down onto their floor. He arrived cloaked in darkness, and paperwork clouded his footsteps. His sign was a red floppy disk and the odor of rotting roses. "I'm here," he announced, "to check for unauthorized software."

Guided by the dark god of Audit Compliance, the Auditor started with Ernest's desk. He ordered Ernest to stand aside, inserted the floppy disk, and rebooted the machine. The machine booted from the disk, churned through the hard drive, and popped up a series of messages. "MALWARE DETECTED - INFRACTION LOGGED TO a:\audit001.log."

Ernest's stomach churned when he realized that the infraction was Quake. "Unauthorized Software" was a serious offense, but having games installed had sent people to the unemployment line. Ernest watched everything the Auditor did through a veil of terror, and started thinking about how to brush up his resume.

"Thank you for your time," the Auditor said.

Ernest wasn't the only one that had forgotten. The Auditor worked up one side of the aisle of cubes, and then started back down the other. Several groans and, "That isn't mine!" protests announced his victims. Ernest cast about, and saw Frank's cube right behind him. The Auditor was a few desks away.

Ernest rang Frank's phone. In a harsh whisper, he said, "Don't turn around. Share your floppy drive."

Frank turned around and stared at Ernest, even as he whispered into the phone. "What? Why?"

"I'm going to fix the audit."

"What?" Frank raised his voice and Ernest winced. "What?" he repeated, more quietly. "Use somebody else's drive. I actually cleaned out my disk, just like I was supposed to. I'm not getting fired for you."

"You aren't going to get fired," Ernest promised. "Don't do it for me. Do it for Dave, and Chris. Do it for John Carmack."

"Fine." Frank rolled his eyes and hung up.

Ernest quickly mapped the drive from a DOS prompt. As the Auditor stalked into Frank's cube, Ernest typed format x: /Q. He stared at the screen, carefully watching the faint reflection of Frank's cube. His ears strained to hear the "chunk" of the computer accepting the disk.

As soon as he heard it, Ernest slammed the enter-key. Even as the Auditor grabbed the mouse to shut-down the machine, Ernest saw Frank's floppy drive activity light shine. As the Auditor started the reboot, Ernest saw the best words he had ever seen appear on his own screen: Format Complete.

Nothing was actually deleted by the quick format. A quick run through with a recovery tool could easily fix it. Frank played dumb, and for the Auditor it came naturally. He sat with Frank for twenty minutes, absolutely convinced that Frank's floppy drive was non-functional. Eventually, he agreed that his disk was no good and tossed it out. "I'll be back," he warned. "And we'll have to start the audit all over again."

Ernest cleaned up his computer, and smiled, confident that his job had been saved. Unfortunately, a week later, it was revealed that the audit had been little more than an attempt to shrink the department down before everyone was laid off. Their twenty-person IT staff could be replaced by twenty people in Bangalore for a fraction of the cost. But a few lucky souls, like Ernest and Frank, were retained for an extra two months to oversee the transition. It provided them plenty of time investigate the newly released Quake II.

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