You wake up. There’s a demon in front of you. You can tell it’s a demon from the horns, the red skin, and the general smell of brimstone.
You suspect this is not a good sign.
“What happened? Where am I?”
“Oh come on. You’re clever. You can probably figure it out”
“Am… am I in hell?”
“Got it in one! I told you you were clever!”
“But why am I here? I lived a good life! I helped widows and orphans! I gave money to charity!”
“Hmm. That’s a good question. Why are you here? Your file looks quite clean. I don’t see why… oh, right. It says here you’re a programmer. How were you at writing error messages?”
“What? Well, uh, I guess I was OK at it. I mean uh, no one writes great error messages, right?”
You laugh nervously.
“Well, uh, I guess? I mean I said that something went wrong and I gave you a line number. That’s usually enough, right?”
“Ah, that’ll be it. There’s a bug in our filing software you see. It categorises programmers who write bad error messages in with the betrayers, child molesters and people who talk in cinemas. No one is quite sure why. Every time we try to rerun the result it just says ‘Out of cheese error. Redo from start'”
“Oh. Um. Well, maybe I could help you fix your software?”
The demon appears to perk up. “Oh, could you? That would be great. Honestly, bane of my existence. Bloody computers, right? Do you really think you could help?”
“Well I am a software developer. It’s sortof what I do”
“Great. How’s your COBOL?”
You swallow nervously.
“Well, I can probably figure it out given the documentation”
“Oh, we used the documentation to kindle the eternal flame. But it’s fairly self documenting, or so the imps who wrote it told me before I ate them. You should be fine”
“Oh, ok. I guess I’ll just check the test suite”
“What’s a test suite?”
At this point you are a nice green to match the demon’s red.
“I… guess… I… can… just… read the code?”
“Excellent idea! Here, let me show you to your terminal!”
He leads you to a decidedly old fashioned computer, blinking green on black at you.
“Here you go. Good luck! I’ll give you a couple hours to familiarise yourself with the system, and then your introductory flaying will begin. Don’t worry if you can’t figure it out immediately – you can always come back to it later. You’ve got an eternity to sort it out after all”