I had a friend, let's call her Alie, who wanted to break into the video game industry. She coded in Python and was a freaking wizard at design. She was always helping us with stuff. And I still remember the day about a year ago that she came up to me all excited, saying she just landed her dream job. She showed me the ad on Craigslist, saying I should apply:
"Bug testers needed. Absolutely no computer experience necessary. Free meal plan; all medical costs covered."
In retrospect I'm so glad I didn't apply. It saved my life. But Alie? She jumped at the chance, even though it meant moving like six hours away to just outside of L.A. I was really happy for her, at least at the time, and me and some other friends helped her pack a moving van.
Now Alie and I weren't the kind of friends that saw each other every day or talked all the time. We didn't need to. She used to say social media in general was pointless and too distracting from "the real world," when you already know what your friends are eating and where they hang out and that they're totally capable of handling whatever drama comes up in their lives on their own. Still, I did hear from her about her job through e-mail about three times. Looking back, I should've known something was up.
It did seem strange to her (she wrote to me) that she never saw a single line of code from her employers, but they paid well enough and kept her hours short, cocooned in her cubicle with mind-numbing, repetitive computer games. The cafeteria food tasted stranger still (almost always served with eggs of some kind), but how could she complain about eating for free? Strangest of all, though, had been how a couple of days ago she said "all one hundred nineteen tiny tumors came up benign."
I hadn't heard anything about this. I had no clue how long she'd been in treatment. I drove down to visit the very night I heard from her-- but I was too late.
Now nothing remains of her at all, just swarms of ravenous vermin crawling on a stained bed in an abandoned hospital. On the nightstand in what was supposed to be her room there was a "thank you" card from her company. It said that thanks to her painstaking efforts, the next generation of product would hatch even faster.