RPG and Web programmers. Like apples and ear muffs. Different and separate. One of these things is not like the other; one of these things is a little bit strange. Does it have to be that way?
They were exhausted and out of breath when they reached the top of the ridge. Her blouse was torn, but he hardly noticed, glancing over his shoulder at the line of torches following them from the valley below.
"Are you OK?" he asked, gasping for breath in the hot, humid air.
"I'm being chased through the woods by a bunch of blood-thirsty zombie web programmers," she gasped. "How do you think I feel?"
"If we can get a little farther, I know there's a safe house that we can get into."
She looked at him carefully and then calmed her breathe just a bit. "Is that like when you said 'Oh, they're web programmers; they can't hurt us?' "
He shrugged and looked off into the distance. "How did I know they had razor-sharp teeth and the ability to suck someone's brain out of their spinal column with a straw?" He looked back at her unmoving stare and simply said "Who knew?"
She let out a long sigh that only emphasized the tear in her shirt and then grabbed his hand. "They're coming," she said. "We need to keep moving."
They hurried down the ridge, moving as quickly as they could, but no sooner had they reached the bottom of the valley than they saw the torches of the zombie army cresting the ridge. She heard him involuntarily draw in a deep breath. He pulled her close and looked into her soft brown eyes.
"I want to tell you something," he said. She felt herself being drawn closer to him as he leaned toward her. "I want to tell you that if something happens, if they catch us, just run, as fast as you can to get away, because the most important thing to me is that you survive."
Despite her misgivings about him, she felt a sudden surge of sympathy for him and she let him draw her closer. He pressed his face against her curly brown hair and continued.
"I want to say that." And then he drew back. "But I just can't. I swear, if you leave me to those animals, I will track you down and kill you."
For a moment, she just stared at him.
"I just wanted to let you know how I feel."
She hesitated, tempted to let him know just how she felt, but a sudden howl on the hill behind them moved her on.
"Whatever," she said, and they both stumbled on through the night, a branch ripping at her already torn blouse.
Then suddenly, ahead, they saw a single light. "That's it," he called. "The RPG Safe House." They both surged forward, drawn by the shining white light while behind them the zombie web programmers kept getting closer and closer.
In a few moments, they were there. He banged on the door, and a frightened voice from inside yelled, "Who's there?"
"It's me! I'm an RPG programmer. Let me in!"
From inside a shrill voice screamed, "He's lying. Shoot him in the head!"
But suddenly a calm voice said, "No, I know her. She's OK. Let them in." The door opened, light flooded out into the darkness, and they tumbled into the room. A group of frightened faces stared at them, and they quickly shut the door, shutting out the night.
"How far behind you are they?" asked the calm voice. She recognized him immediately as an i programmer she had worked with a couple of years ago.
"A few minutes", she replied. "We couldn't get away from them."
"I knew it," said the frightened voice. "They've led the brain-eating bloodsuckers right to us."
"Shut up," snarled the calm voice, and she found herself moving closer to him. "They need our help."
A guy who was standing on the outside of the discussion leaned in. "What happened to your blouse?"
For a moment she just stood there. "The producer insisted on it," she said, slowly gathering steam. "Do you think I wanted to do this? Hey, butthead, I'm a serious actor." She looked away for a minute and then continued. "Besides, we're going to Malibu next weekend. Anyway, I don't see how it's any of your business. I'm a strong, brave, female character…with a severely torn blouse. Do you mind?"
The guy backed up and disappeared into the crowd.
"OK," continued the calm voice, "can we move on from your blouse and decide what we are going to do with a horde of zombie web programmers bearing down on us?"
She hesitated, and then, looking at the frightened faces before her, said what she was thinking. "What if they're not so bad?"
"They suck brains out of your…"
"How do you know that?" she asked, turning on the guy she had come in with. "What if they really aren't so bad? What if they don't want to eat our brains? What if they are just like us, just trying to do the best they can with the language they have available? Trying to learn everything they can."
For a moment, everyone was quiet, and then there was a soft but heavy knock on the door.
"What if they're just as scared and just as arrogant and just as unsure as we are? What could we learn from them? And they from us?"
The door shuddered with another soft knock, and then with the third, it broke into a thousand pieces. Smoke and dust and haze filled the room. The frightened voice screamed. The calm voice was silent. The guy she had come with whimpered quietly in a corner. She moved forward, slowly, steadily into the haze, and suddenly a figure materialized before her. It wavered a bit on the uncertain air and then broke into a smile.
"Dude!" It exclaimed. "Whazzzzzup!"
She moved back slightly and then said in a relatively small voice, "Just chillin', man."
The smiling face pushed himself into the room, followed by other smiling faces who were extinguishing torches. "Awesome," he said, hardly noticing the incredibly torn blouse she wore. "Are you guys RPG programmers?"
For a moment, no one said anything, and then she replied in a quiet, inconsequential way, "Sort of."
"Far out," the face replied. "We've been looking for you guys for a long time. Want to jam? You know, code-wise?"
The calm voice stepped forward. "So you don't suck out the brains of other programmers and use them to advance your own agenda?"
The smiling face recoiled. "Whoa, that's disgusting, dude. We just want to jam." A few more of the torch people pushed their way into the room. "You guys want to code something? You can code some business rules, and we can tie that into the web. OK?"
The calm voice moved forward. "Yeah, I guess we could do that. Would you like to bring your guys in?"
"Totally," replied the smiling face. "It's pretty chilly out there." Then he looked over at her and said, almost shyly, "Man, your blouse is totally blown, babe."
She smiled and moved toward him. "I thought you'd never notice."