Lausanne. Switzerland. ‘I’ve heard stories… I’ve heard them long before we started working here. We were still at our old office by the Cathedral, where spiderwebs, burnt candles, and intricate Gothic ornaments inspired some character into an otherwise interchangeable workspace. And then one day, it happened to me. How could I forget that cold, foggy October evening? The majority of the employees had called it a day and the wretched few stayed behind to push the boulder of duty up the hill. That’s when anything remotely exciting usually happens, isn’t it? You’d hear people whisper in a cautious, low voice.
– ‘Have you noticed that?’
-‘It just moved. Did you see that?’
-‘I didn’t touch it. Oh God, look!!! It changed the value again!’
There was a sudden silence in the office. Nobody dared move, blink or breathe. The cells were alive. The numbers were changing, the tables were self-formatting into the strangest shapes and the formulas returned whichever values (the f***) they pleased.
‘It’s happening again, Ligeia!’, a terrified intern cried out. ‘Help! Help, please! We must stop this while there’s still time! I’ve been working on this worksheet for am an entire week, I can’t have it go all paranormal activity on me!’
Those were Theresa’s last words, before she succumbed to despair and fainted in a dark, very velvety, very, very well placed office chair.
The others dared not intervene. They looked at each other with terror in their eyes, before turning to check on their own computers.
‘All is lost!’, Annabel let out a cry and joined the unnamed intern in the realm of consciousness excused.
‘It has a life of its own, Eleonora! It is possessed. I told you so and you wouldn’t believe me! Look!’, Eva Ellen Paul, office manager, and part-time ghostbuster exclaimed. “We must activate the Excel Exorcism Plan! NOW!!” Ellen immediately pushed the power kill switch, thus forcing the evil spirit out of excel’s frail frame.
“It almost got us again, Madeleine”, Roderick Usher, bookkeeper, blurted out. “It always gets its way, the untamable beast!”
Slowly, many sick leaves, therapy sessions, and church visits later, things had gotten back to normal. People dared reboot their computers again and,, with a shaky hand attempted to rebuild lost data.
It was business as usual, until one chilly October evening, when the candlelights flickered and the values in excel started to pivot…