Derrick was plucking away at his keyboard when the young man sitting in the cubicle next to his growled. Derrick rolled his chair back so he could see him.
"What is it, Trent?" he asked one of his company's newest employees.
"Gosh darn you!" Trent exclaimed. "You haven't emailed that documentation to me yet! I can't get started on that module until you do."
Derrick tried to stifle a chuckle. He thought it was funny how that guy didn't like to swear.
"Sorry, dude," he said, smiling at him. "I'll do it in a few minutes." He wheeled back into his cubicle. "Shoulda figured it out himself," he thought to himself. He chuckled again
While on his lunch break, Derrick crossed the street while holding his bag of White Castles and talking on his cell phone. He didn't notice the bus.
Derrick waded through some odd mist. Where was he? What was going on? The last thing he remembered was--
"Oh, the bus," Derrick said with realization. "Aw man! Am I dead?"
"I'm afraid you are!" yelled a male voice nearby. Derrick tried to follow the voice. He almost ran into a cow as he found a man sitting in a very comfortable-looking easy chair. He was a middle-aged bearded man with graying hair. "Oh, do watch out for the holy cows. And also all their holy crap."
Derrick felt something squish below his foot when he took a step. "Oops." He tried to shake it off as he asked "So, who are you? Are you--?"
"I am Gosh," the man announced. "You are in Pre-Heaven. This is my domain."
"Maybe I'm not dead," Derrick said, smiling. "Maybe I'm just in a coma or something, dreaming. This can't be real."
"Oh, I'm afraid it is," Gosh said. "And I've got some bad news for you. You can't stay here."
"What?" Derrick said. Then he grinned and pointed upwards. "Oh, you mean I'm going up--?"
"No, I'm afraid you're doing down!" Gosh said. "Not all the way down, though."
"Huh?" Derrick said.
"You have been Darned," Gosh said. "I am responsible for darning people. I also Dang and Dern. But no matter the manner of transport, you all end up in the same place."
"You mean because that puss next to me--?"
Gosh clapped his hands loudly. Derrick experienced some dizziness as the scene changed around him. All of a sudden he was in an office, somewhat like the one he had worked in, but it looked more cluttered. Papers and cords and cables were scattered about. Broken chairs were shoved into corners. There were some other people on computers at tables - no cubicle partitions.
"Where is this?" Derrick said. It was warm. He was beginning to sweat.
"You are in Heck," said a very tanned-skin man in a dark business suit, coming into the area from a side office. "This is where all the Darned, Danged, and Derned go."
"Heck?!" Derrick said. "You've got to be kidding."
"You'll wish I was," the man said. "I am Tan. I used to go by Mr. T until that dreadful 80's show. But now I have to go by my full name. I am the boss of Heck. You will work here for the rest of eternity. This is not as bad as the other place you could have ended up but you will find that it still kind of sucks."
"Oh I get it," Derrick said. "I'm on a hidden camera show."
"This is your desk," Tan said, wiping off some old, moldy pizza from a very dirty chair. "You are in charge of Never Getting Things to People on Time."
"I am?" Derrick said. He looked at the chair, and what looked like an old, late 1990's era PC, in bewilderment.
"Yes, but before you get to work, let me give you a quick tour," Tan said. He ushered Derrick over to a side room that was filthy. It contained dirty chairs and a table, a coffee pot with molding old coffee in it, and a water cooler with slightly brown water. "This is the break room." Then Tan ushered Derrick over to the next room. It contained several people, male and female, of various races and ethnicities. Some of them were growling, others acting completely goofy. "And these here, they're the Friggins, Freaks, and Fuggins." After that Tan showed Derrick to a corner. There was a balding, tall man chewing gum. He was also sticking some of his already-chewed gum on some documents and throwing them in the trash can. "And this is Dad. He's in charge of gumming and then burning things." Indeed, as soon as the papers were in the trash can, Dad shrewdly lit a match and threw it in the can, which flamed up immediately.
"Uhh, hi Dad," Derrick mumbled. Dad scowled at him, chewing furiously as he did so.
"So, uh, Tan," Derrick said, "what's with all these derelict computers and computer equipment and stuff cluttering up the place?"
"These are all items that have been danged, darned, and derned over the years," replied Tan, "and in the past twenty years, that's been indeed mostly computers, computer equipment, and computer accessories."
Somewhere above Derrick heard a muffled voice, somebody yelling "Gosh dang this thing!" Tan and Derrick looked up. Both of them moved out of the way just in time as a printer came magically flying through the ceiling and crashing to the floor.
"Oh good!" said Tan, delighted. "A new printer for which none of us have drivers for! Excellent." Then he clapped his hands and yelled to the office at large: "This will be the default printer for the forseeable future, everybody!"
After a collective groaning, Derrick heard another muffled exclamation: "Darn it, stupid reception!" Then a cell phone came down and conked off of Derrick's head.
"Ouch!" he said as he rubbed the sharp pain on the top of his skull. Then about a dozen more cell phones rained down up on them, Derrick protecting his head with his arms.
"Oh yes," said Tan, "we tend to get a lot of phones lately, too. They tend to come in waves for some reason."
After kicking a few phones out of their way, Tan showed Derrick back to his desk. He reluctantly sat down. Tan handed him a stack of papers. "These things, they all have to be done as soon as you can get them done."
Derrick picked up and looked at the papers... and at the circled deadline at the top of the first one. "Wait, these are all dated last month!"
"Lemme see those!" Tan snatched the stack out of Derrick's hands. "Oh... oh I see. Sorry. I'll fix that." He grabbed a pen out of his jacket pocket, scratched something out, then wrote something. He handed it back to Derrick.
"Now the deadline's three months ago!"
"Perfect! Now get to work!" And with that Tan strolled back into his office.
"I'll bet you're in here for not getting things done on time," said the man sitting in the desk across from him. He looked like he was of some sort of Asian origin.
"Yeah... I guess," Derrick said slowly.
"Hi, I'm Kyson," said the man, "so, like, were you Darned? Danged...?"
"I was, uhh... Darned?"
"Oh cool, me, too!" Kyson said, grinning and nodding. "Let's be the best of pals, shall we?!"
"Ah was Derned!" said a man at the desk next to Kyson. With his drawl, overalls, curly beard and Budweiser baseball cap, he looked like he belonged behind the wheel of a big rig truck rather than behind a computer. "Hey, Kyson, can you help me out with this here derned computer. I think it done shut down again or somethin."
"I have no idea, Bud," Kyson said. Then he turned to Derrick and whispered. "I'm in charge of being No Help and Useless. Bud here, he's in charge of being Completely Clueless."
Derrick looked back at Bud. He was slowly turning the monitor on and off. Derrick looked back at Kyson. "So, what am I supposed to do around here?" He looked thoughtfully at his papers.
"I dunno," Kyson said. He began furiously typing at his keyboard. Derrick slowly got up and walked around behind Kyson to see what he was doing. All Kyson had up was Notepad and all he was typing was "asdfjkl;" over and over again. He shook his head, sighed, and walked back around to his desk and sat down.
Derrick read the first paragraph of the first assignment. "Redirect users to the potential selection tool for the redirect links in the Information Salutation module." He scratched his head. "What's a 'Information Salutation' module?"
Kyson stopped typing. "It's a module for Information Salutations." He began furiously typing again.
"Oh I get it," Derrick said. "So, like, this is Heck. Not as bad as... that other place... but it sucks. So I wasn't totally evil, just a little bit. Or something. And now I have to deal with stuff for the rest of eternity that's not exactly torture, but really annoying."
"This is going to be great!" Kyson exclaimed.
"How come you're so happy?" Derrick said.
"Oh, this smile is totally fake," he said. "Every second page I type, a web browser pops up showing my mother on YouTube making out with my old high school gym teacher, who I didn't really like all that much."
"I see," Derrick said. He turned to his computer. The system looked like it was running Windows 98. He tried to open up Windows Explorer so that he could search for something that looked like it might resemble anything to do with his assignment. The outline of the window popped up, but it took what seemed like twenty minutes for the entire window to fully appear. "Finally!" When he tried to click in the window on a folder called "Salutations" his cursor turned into an hourglass. "Oh great!" He used his mouse to fling the cursor around the screen. After what seemed like another twenty minutes of this, everything completely froze up. "Man!" He banged on the keyboard, which brought up the Blue Screen Of Death, something he hadn't seen in years. Only it was different than any other he'd ever seen. In huge white, 8-bit lettering, in the center of the screen, was the word "DARN!"
"I face an eternity of THIS?" Derrick said. Now he wished to heck that he'd gotten things to people more on time. He sighed and manually turned the computer off and then back on. About an hour later it was finished booting back up.
He sighed and decided to go give some of the pieces of scrap paper littering his desk to Dad. Maybe it would be fun to see him gum and burn some more stuff.
”It’s YOUR fault!” Dad yelled at the paper before he stuck gum on it and subsequently set it on fire in the trash can.
”What?” Derrick said.
”I sometimes blame them, too,” Dad said, before sniffing.
”I see,” said Derrick.
After Tan finished the tour, Emily was shown to her filthy desk. "Now," he said to the red-headed girl, "you are in charge of Telling Everybody What to Do, And Being Pretty Much Ignored. Here's your list." He handed the uneasy and still somewhat confused Emily a sheet of paper. She studied it.
After reading the first item, she turned to the guy next to her. "Um, excuse me, are you... uh.. Derrick?"
"Yep," said the man. "And you are?"
"Emily," she said. "Nice to meet you. So, it, um, says here that, um, I have to tell you to send 'That Email to Carl' and do it 'on the double,'" she said.
"Hey that's me!" yelled the trucker-looking man across from her. "Ah've never figured out that dang email thing anyways. Oh, hey, Kyson, this ain't deletin stuff too well." Emily saw that he was brushing what looked like White Out onto his monitor.
"Keep at it!" Kyson said as he continued typing at an insane speed.
"Oh, Emily," said Derrick. "About that email thing..."
"I'll do that... eventually," Derrick said as he angrily clicked his mouse over and over.
"DANG THESE THINGS!"
Suddenly dozens of cell phones began raining down on them.