Tech Horror Stories: The Creep


It’s Halloween Eve and it’s a Friday. Everyone in the office is in costume and the mood is jovial but focused. You’re in the midst of overseeing a ridiculously important project whose projected revenue boost would mean – among other, more important things – an open bar at December’s holiday party. As with most projects, success means producing the planned deliverables on time and on budget. Simple enough, right? Never.

A strained holler from QA announces: “Something broke the build!” Uh oh.

“Something? What kind of something?” you respond.

“Not sure yet. Looking into it.” You can’t see Chris over the wall of his desk, but you can tell from his faux accent that he’s dressed as Sean Connery.

“Okay, keep me updated.” you tell him. “How are those new menus looking?” you ask the UX designer.

“They’re coming together. I ran into a few areas we hadn’t accounted for that will need to be re-worked and animating them is proving to be a little trickier than expected.”

“Okay, maybe Karen could help out. Karen are you done with the responsive redesign of the search page?”

“Actually, I haven’t gotten to that yet. Still trying to resolve the issues on the index page.”

You feel pretty silly standing there in a Freddy Krueger costume with a look of deep concern on your face, so you turn around and walk back to your desk. On the way you can practically hear the project’s scope creeping up behind you like claws on tile. Unlike Freddy Krueger, scope creep exists whether you believe in it or not, and ignoring its threat only makes it stronger… So what to do?

With the unforeseen obstacles popping up, it’s clear you and your team need extra help, but you don’t have the budget to hire or work overtime. Making the deadline seems impossible if there isn’t some progress made over the weekend.

While mulling over ideas, you hear an engineer having a eureka moment across the office: “Ah! Of course! Yes!” You walk over to see what Sarah is so excited about and find her decked out in a Dog the Bounty Hunter costume and grinning ear to ear.

“What’s up Sarah?” you ask.

“Somebody on Experts Exchange just figured out the flaw in this piece of code I’ve been agonizing over.”

“Huh. The Q&A site?”

“Yeah, it’s Q&A and a bunch of other stuff. It’s been really helpful with this project.”

Interesting. You’d heard about Experts Exchange before, but thought it was just another tech forum. “That could be useful. I’ll check it out. Thanks Sarah.” She flexes her pillow-stuffed biceps at you and lets out a friendly grunt.

Back at your desk you begin poking around Experts Exchange and find that in addition to solving tech issues, they also offer a Project Testing service where they’ll connect you with people to QA your website, an area for proofreading feedback, loads of articles and videos and tons of other stuff. Who knew eureka moments could be contagious?

After signing up for a business account, you call a quick stand-up meeting and encourage your team to sign on before the end of the day and ask for help with any and all of the issues they’re encountering. “With any luck,” you tell them, “there will be some valuable feedback waiting for us when we come in on Monday.”

An hour later, Sean Connery, Dog the Bounty Hunter and all the ghosts and ghouls you call teammates begin filing out of the office and into the night. You’re preparing to do the same yourself, but first you log in and check what kind of attention your team’s posts have attracted. Wow, replies abound. The experts are swarming like bees on honey!

You shut your system down and hop to your feet, feeling extra light. While heading out you catch a glimpse of your reflection skipping gleefully toward the exit. It just doesn’t look right; Freddy Krueger acting this way. You switch from a skip to a menacing horror movie slink and begin dragging your claw along the wall. It’s going to be a fun weekend.

Read more tech horror stories:

The Unwelcome Guest

A Distant Cry for Help

It Came From Inside the Office

About Morgan Condict

I got my start doing QA in the San Francisco video game industry. Today, when I'm not writing or testing at Experts Exchange I'm likely reading, drawing, drumming, or out exploring San Luis Obispo with my wife and dog.