On the first day without email, they all pretended to grumble and complain, but secretly they were delighted to be free. Free from the constant glancing at their inboxes. Free from the annoying ping announcing new arrivals. Free from the guilt at those emails awaiting responses and actions that they did not care to do. Free from work entirely, for anything could be put off now. I need to do that, they said to colleagues, whether or not it was true.
And so they relaxed and caught up with coworkers on their weekends, made concerned faces when managers arrived to explain that it might be some time before email was restored. At the end of the day nothing had been resolved, but they were told it would be in no time. And so they went home, happy at a day free of worry, and bracing themselves for the deluge that might follow once the normal course of things had been restored.
On the second day without email, they were told it would be weeks, if not longer, before services could be restored.
How could such a thing happen? This question was met with shrugs and grave expressions.
No one knows, was the whisper that went from cubicle to cubicle. Team leads called meetings of their groups to discuss contingencies, but there were no contingencies for a world without email. Such a thing was beyond comprehension, beyond the imagination of anyone involved.
Could we use fax machines, some suggested, and were met with blank, terrified stares.
On the third day the reality of the situation began to settle in for everyone. Email was gone. All talk of restoring it had ceased, and it was apparent that it had been a feeble attempt by those in charge of operations to contain the panic, which they knew would result.
Many were consumed by anger at this subterfuge and refused to believe any of the pronouncements that came forth from the administration. There were memos to the effect that IT was at work on other modes of communication, other protocols that would be enacted, but this was dismissed as ridiculous. How could anything be done without email? The idea was absurd. There were those old enough to recall an age without email, but even they struggled to comprehend how they could exist now without it.
Others still maintained hope, speaking with a tinge of madness of what would happen once email was restored. It has to be, they said, it can’t just stop. They hid their own doubt and fear behind certainty, haranguing those who had given up.
Hope was broken on day four as all communication from administration ceased. Some team leads attempted to seize control of departments, rallying trainees and admins to overthrow the department heads who had managed to lead them so far astray. Other heads showed more foresight, moving quickly to consolidate their power, leading raids on Supply Chain and Risk Management to ensure that they would have reserves to survive a long war. Accounting became the main prize, with dozens of forces struggling to gain a foothold and take command of the funds.
IT fell almost immediately, its denizens distracted by their futile efforts to restore the systems, while many departments sought to claim revenge against those who had led them to this dark impasse. Their heads were struck off and littered around their cubicles to stand as a warning to any who attempted to reclaim those seats.
The offshore company that maintained the servers gave notice to end their contract, citing a fundamental breach in the societal contract.
A new order was born on the fifth day, as various demagogues in middle management declared themselves chosen sons of their various gods. Among them were Process Change, Ownership, and Paradigm Shift. Altars were created from the remnants of broken CPU’s, with sacrifices of forgotten leftovers, starting to go off, given. The gods did not answer, or answered contradictorily, depending on who one believed. As a result, no faith became dominant, and the faithful began to fight amongst themselves, before turning inward and persecuting those who had not properly demonstrated their belief.
Others did not turn to the gods, having faith only in humanity. They selected champions to retake the IT department and restore email and the glorious world we had so bitterly lost.
Of the many champions sent to restore email, only one survived to make it to the IT department. There, she found the few survivors had resorted to cannibalism, feeding on the entrails of those who had been beheaded and mixing powerboards with their water in the mistaken belief it would protect them from disease. She killed them all and set about rebuilding the system herself, attempting a system restore to the day before the catastrophe had struck. When that was done she rebooted the system, after turning the power off to the IT department and waiting thirty seconds.
It all seemed to no avail, for no emails came, the computers and phones everywhere were silent, and she threw herself down to sleep.
The next day she awoke to the sound of emails arriving on computers everywhere, chimes echoing through all the hallways, and she wept with joy.
She returned to her people and declared herself triumphant. “I have done what was asked of me. I have done the impossible. Email is restored.”
She was cheered loudly and declared ruler of the department, though others would not recognize her, choosing to follow their own leaders, or the chosen sons of their chosen gods. No one could recall just why their email had been so important, or what they should do now that it had been restored. All agreed that it was good, except for those who said it was not.
Conflict between the various departments continued for a dozen days, with all the leaders of the various factions, including the hero who had restored email, dying for their various causes, to be replaced by those who fought for their reasons. In the end, the survivors of the various factions realized that nothing could be resolved and they met to sue for peace. When the terms had been agreed to everyone went home to their families.
In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…
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