The Typer of the Code

During the 19th century, emigration from Ireland was hardly unusual, and those leaving took their culture with them.  Even though the poem “The Walker of the Snow” by Charles Dawson Shanly might have been set out on the Canadian tundra, this ghost story–in which the ghost does not seem specifically malevolent but at the same time isn’t terribly helpful either–still seems like it has an Irish feel to it.

My introduction to the original poem came via Davy Spillane’s album Shadow Hunter, to which I was introduced while I was doing database programming.  An empty office building may not be as exotic a setting as the frozen wastes of Canada, but it can still be plenty creepy.

Go home, go home, programmers;
We’ve reached the old week’s end.
You should take advantage of it,
Or you might go round the bend.

As you shut down your computers,
I’ll tell you of my plight:
How I met the Pale Programmer
Who walks these cubes at night.

It was late one Friday evening;
I was in programming mode.
The structure came so simply,
And syntax fairly flowed.

The janitors had finished
Their duties for the night.
My monitor and desklamp
Were the only source of light.

The silence in the office
Was practically complete
Save for the distant throbbing,
Of the H-VAC’s steady beat,

And the sound of my own typing,
As the minutes flitted by.
Outside the moon, unnoticed,
Was rising in the sky.

Said I, “Though night has fallen,
And my logic still has flaws,
I’m sure I’d think more clearly,
If I took a little pause.”

Then I jumped up and I shouted
As my desk-lamp bulb went out.
My hopes of getting finished
Dissolved in clouds of doubt.

Long I sat in darkness,
Ticked at that burned-out tube,
When a dusky figure approached me
And paused outside my cube.

I didn’t recognize him,
But blamed this on the light.
I asked what he was doing,
At work so late at night.

No word or answer gave he,
But to my place he strode;
And a cold chill settled on me
As he edited me code,

For I saw by the sickly screen-light–
And my blood began to freeze–
That his fingers, moving slowly,
Made no contact with the keys.

I asked what he was doing,
But established no rapport:
He turned and stared right at me–
I remember nothing more,

Till on Monday morning they found me,
My face upon the keys.
My program had been lengthened
By forty million z‘s.

They mocked my explanations
And told me not to whine;
But with the z‘s deleted,
The program worked just fine.

Laugh on, young whipper-snappers,
Apologies I’m owed
Should you by chance encounter
The Typer of the Code.

Copyright 2010.

And if you’re fond of spookiness and/or suspense, you might also find this one interesting….


9 Responses to “The Typer of the Code”

  1. dhparker Says:

    Fantastic! (in every definition of the word!) 🙂 I love it!

  2. grandmawacaster Says:

    A reall thriller! Good job!

  3. A Halloween Treat | Thoughts From Mystery Hollow Says:

    […] The Typer of the Code by Donald Parker […]

  4. Karen Says:

    Very clever! It gave me a good chuckle.

  5. Kathy Cretsinger/Katt Anderson Says:

    Very good. I enjoyed reading it.

  6. Deirdre Mansel Says:


  7. Jill Roy McLemore Says:

    Supercalifragilitisexpealdoshos (Spell check didn’t have this one but “mary Poppins” does!

  8. Gail H. Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this!

  9. Ramona Says:

    Wow! It looks like talent runs in the Hutchison/Parker genes!

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