This short story is in response to a writing prompt on Reddit. The original prompt is - Magic is discovered to be real. The catch? Spells are just like computer programs: difficult to write, and even harder to do correct the first try. You’re a spell bug tester, and you’ve seen just about everything go wrong, but today’s typo is on a whole other level…
It is a yet another uneventful day. Deepak is still a pig but that isn’t new. All testers are explicitly taught to always sandbox the environment before testing any spells but noooooo that was too mainstream for good old Deepak. Spells are like code. Just giving them a read is never sufficient to fully understand and verify what they do. There is a reason our jobs exist. So that we test all spells written by rookie wizards before they are moved to production to find all bugs, yeah we copied nomenclatures from programmers; sue us, and check them for all boundary conditions. It’s tedious but fairly basic. You setup the environment, isolated and as per the specs and run a battery of tests. Having been doing it for 4 years now it has almost become a second language to me. I, for most spells, can tell the issues that will come in a spell even before running any tests by just reading them. Yet, I never assume, like this ass Deepak, and follow the testing guidelines to the T. And that is why he has been in the form of a pig for 3 days and I have the “Best Spell Tester” trophies for all the years I have worked here.
The office is buzzing with sounds of tests being conducted in all the cubicles. A mix of micro-blasts, zapps, and what not. The company recently hired a lot of fresh inexperienced wizards from the premier Indian Institute of Wizardry which meant there were a lot more bug-ridden spells to be tested. I hate working with these new wizards from these high ranking institutes. They are pompous and arrogant and act as if the fact that their college has churned out some of the best wizards in the world makes up for the fact that they know jack-shit. I need more coffee. I just finished the testing report for a new wizard who does not even know how to conjure a basic garden gnome. It’s pathetic. It is well beneath my capacity and that has pissed me off. I walk to the pantry and pour me some coffee. I grab an apple as I walk out of the pantry. I cross Puneet on the way back but I am in no mood to listen to his BS about how he is will soon be a wizard. No tester ever becomes a wizard. It has never happened and it never will. I avoid making an eye contact with him and reach my seat. Time to fix the spell of the next moron. I pull up the next spell in the queue and start reading. It’s a fairly short spell. Seems entry level. A “Hello World” of magic. This wizard has tried to act smart and used the latest version of Mazik which is still in beta. Crap move kid! Although it reduces the size of the spell, using a tool which is still in beta means it could cause bugs which you weren’t even responsible for. That could fuck your assessment up real bad. Anyhow. Why should I care? I run my setupEnvironment.maz script to setup a test environment. Yes, I had automated this process. I’m that good. The script created a translucent bubble of enerzy around me for isolation and added me to the safe-variables list since I am still in the bubble and I did not want to be turned into anything other than myself. I hit the RUN key and lean back into my chair with the apple in my hand playing a game of catch with myself. The spell is compiling and this being a new version and all it will take a little extra time. I look towards the cubicle next to mine to see Priya talking on her phone, filing a report with one had. That beautiful, manicured hand. She’s nice. “Dude! You are staring” my mind reminded me. Itself. Not that she noticed or anything but I don’t want her to think of me as a perv. I turn back and see that my hand is empty. It has been empty for quite some time. Did I fail to catch the apple and drop it? I didn’t hear anything. I look under the desk. It isn’t here. I come back up. It’s dark all around. Damn-it. Some stupid wizards stupid lightning spell must have blown the fuse again. There is only the light from my terminal monitor. That’s strange. It’s not the first time the power is down. It doesn’t always look like this. There’s definitely always more light. I stand up to see around and hit the apple with my head. What’s it doing up there? Why is it floating? Will deal with this later. What’s with the power? It’s usually back within minutes. And why can’t I see lights from other terminals? Whoever fucked up this time is in for big trouble. Deepak’s condition is nothing compared to what will happen to the one who did this. I take out my phone from my pocket to see there is no signal. A problem for later. I switch on the flashlight and point it towards Priya’s cubicle. Or in the general direction where her cubicle should be. She’s not there. Actually, nothing is there. Nothing. No terminal, no cubicle walls, not her stuff. Not even the floor. My heart starts pounding. I started circling the sandbox bubble pointing the flashlight in every direction. Nothing. WHAT IS HAPPENING? Claustrophobia hits me suddenly, and hard. I am going to collapse. I somehow stagger to my chair and slump down. My vision is blurred with the almost tears in my eyes. I look around again. All I can see is the walls of the bubble, my terminal, and that floating apple. Apple. Why is it floating? Did..did I do this? I pull the chair closer to the terminal and see that the tests had run completely. There are no errors, just one warning.
Line 20, Col 12: The sub spell environment.getWorld has been used with the parameter “createNew” passed as true. This could instantiate a new world and dispose of the old one. Should be used with caution and in new dimensions only.
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