locked in bill’s dungeon
30 august, 2001 – by johnmichael patrick monty monteith
I was on my typical drive home from work on I-405 heading to Kirkland when I was looking out into the sky and saw a stream of bright lights blanketing the sky. In most cities one might think it came from a UFO, or perhaps a NASA experiment gone wrong, but here in the suburbs of Seattle it could only be one thing. A Microsoft operating system roll-out party. As I pondered how it was that Bill forgot to send me an invitation, suddenly a vehicle screamed by me in the emergency lane and nearly took out the front of my little Honda. It was a Ford Explorer with copies of Microsoft Office 2000 piled high inside.
I was so steamed that he almost hit me that I took it upon myself to follow him. As we started East on I-90 I reached a moment of confusion as I noticed it was an Eddie Baurer edition Ford Explorer. One often will find Ford Explorers filled with Microsoft software in the Seattle area. Just not Eddie Baurer Limited Editions. The ugly lime green one, no less. Clearly the only people in the Seattle area driving these two-tone monstrosities were current or former Microsoft employees. But why would one of Bill's Borg be hauling around copies of Office 2000? Sure, most people in the world could find some logical explanation for this. But not me. No. The only excuses I could think of were not pretty. Not pretty at all. Clearly foul play must be involved.
It came as little surprise that we drove right on to Microsoft headquarters and stopped in a packed car park. I watched from my spot as this short man with large rimmed glasses grabbed as many copies of software out of the back of his Explorer as he could carry, and then press the button on his remote to lock his vehicle. I quietly followed him into the crowd of Microsoft employees on a large front lawn boozing up and making merry. We had walked into the middle of the Windows XP roll-out party, although the short geeky dude in glasses was not stopping to try a plastic cup of bubbly. I managed to grab a glass or two during the chase for myself, however.
As I finished my last cup full we had finished walking past all of the people and the party and were walking through some woods. Well, if a collection of trees in the middle of the Microsoft campus could be called woods, that is. After a hundred yards of walking, in the middle of the Microsoft Forest, we came upon a large free-standing Windows XP sign with a digital clock counting the days to release on the left. While these signs were all over the Redmond campus to remind the clan of when the latest bible-ala-Microsoft would hit the streets, it seemed quite out of place in the middle of Software-Central-Park. I could only think it would serve as some sort of early-warning system for employees trying to escape campus on sunny days.
The Office 2000 delivery dude walked behind the sign, as I sat behind a tree in a cloak of shadows watching and waiting. After a few minutes, I thought he might just be trying to hide from me. Getting sick of the suspense, I quietly walked up and took a peek behind the sign. The dork was not there. Gone. Vanished. I had heard of Novell employees evaporating into thin air before, but never Microsoft. This was quite peculiar.
I searched for a more realistic explanation, and found a bizarre button hidden underneath the Microsoft sign. I pressed it and suddenly a trap door opened with a walkway to a hidden world below. Being the curious fellow I am, I walked down the old masonry stairs to the world below as the door above closed behind me. The space ahead revealed a dimly lit hallway, but lit by some strange futuristic lighting. The Tower of London meets Deep Space Nine.
Down the long hallways there were dozens of doors that opened to small rooms. The spaces behind the heavy wooden doors were dark and had various old computers setup inside. One room had a desk with an Amiga 1000 setup. The next an Atari 520ST. The next a Mac SE/30. Another with a Timex Sinclair. A dungeon of old out-of-date computer systems underneath Microsoft's Remond campus. Who would believe this? I was seeing it with my own eyes, and I could hardly believe it myself.
As I went further down the hallway I could hear a grown man screaming in agony. The sound stood the hair up on my neck as it bounced off each wall and permeated the long hallway. I started to run down the medieval chute to find where the sound was coming from, and eventually I came upon the room. It was locked from the outside, but a small slot was open to reveal the vile happenings inside. Two men were standing on either side of this poor soul sitting in a chair receiving the most heinous torture ever inflicted upon a person. All of those copies of Microsoft Office 2000 that the geek was carrying .. (I can barely type the words.) The God-forsaken individual was being forced to install copy after copy of Office 2000 on what looked to be a 90 MHz Pentium running Windows 98. How anyone could live through such torture is a mystery. It is likely he would reach triple digits in age before finding double digits in installations, yet there were still dozens more in the yuppie SUV I followed. I winced at the agonizing thought.
The man screamed from the inside, "Oh, save me! If I see one more completion window that shows complete and then starts completely over again, I might die!"
Suddenly a voice bellows behind me, "Enjoying the show?"