Crunch Time. That time at the end of all game projects when the rush to complete it reaches the point where the company attempts to burn out every individual on it to try and ensure meeting an insane deadline.
It was a Thursday, seven at night and I'd just finished my third night in a row of nasty pizza with my team. Rather than at home with my wife as I wanted to be.
My own personal bug list was empty. I was scanning my team members for bugs that I could take on to get this game over with. The excitement and passion for the project has now been replaced with a mind numbing grind to the end and a hate for the pain it was causing to our personal lives.
This is going to be my last go around, I've accepted a CTO position in Texas at a game technology company. They built some of the tools we used and did it on a nine to five working day schedule. I'd promised my wife this would be the last time and this job was why. I'd not told her about it, it was to be a surprise. We'd be moving to her home town, we'd be near her parents and she'd said she wanted that. So I figured it would be a big win for me and I expected a legendary celebration when I told her.
Windows alerted me that a Slack message had arrived. This gave me a moment of relief from scanning the unending list of bugs my teammates seemed to have.
Tabbing from the Firefox window to the Slack window, I saw I had a direct message from the Slack Bot and that it contained nothing but a bit.ly link. I stared at it for a minute, trying to decide if this could be malicious, take over my computer, attempt. Ultimately, I decided it wasn't and clicked on it. Figuring it would likely be another preview of the game sent by management to pump us up for longer nights in a grand push to get to the finish line.
My browser came to the fore and a new tab opened but before I could see the URL I was distracted by the sound of a coffee mug shattering followed by the deep guteral tones of a Scottish programmer swearing at his misfortune. If I were to guess he had just lost his beloved IT Crowd mug. One that proudly asked if you'd tried turning it off and on again. The mug was massive and these days he was only functional after drinking a whole mug of coffee from it.
Looking back at my screen, I found I was on Chaterbate and I was watching a couple engaging in some full throttle sexual activity. I pondered who would send such a link and how bad a bollocking from IT and then Management I would get for watching this site at work when the video went from blurry to crystal clear high definition video.
With that change, so changed my life. A tattoo on the arm of the woman did it. A woman who had her face buried in the bed, her arse in the air and some slightly overweight douche with a big dick fucking it like piston on a locomotive.
It was not just any tattoo mind you. It was a replica of the carving I'd put in a bannister at University ten years earlier. The carving had been a heart with an arrow going through it and my wife's initials as they had been then and mine. So, as you can see it wasn't just any tattoo. This was unique.
She lifted her head up for a moment and confirmed it was her for me. Both from the glimpse of her face and the sound of her voice as screamed at him to go fast, hard and deeper. The fucking bitch.
I had Facebook messenger open on another tab. I switched to that tab and then posted the bit.ly link to the friends and family chat group we had set up. Moving on, I launched Discord and then posted the link to our World Of Warcraft Guild server's general chat. Next, I opened my wife's Google mail on a fresh tab and sent an email to all of the people in her address book giving them the bit.ly link. That'll teach her to use the same password for everything. Not happy with that, I then logged on to her Facebook account and posted the link on her wall, inviting all to see her working hard at her new career. Finally, just to be certain it was seen by all, I created a Messenger group containing all her work colleagues and friends and posted the link there too.
By now, the Friends and Family chat had some comments in it. The first was asking why I'd send them a porn link, followed quickly by an apology and asking what I was going to do now.
The Discord channel had our guild members asking why I sent this or just commenting on how hot it was. I told them who she was, using her or rather I gave her Discord nickname which was also her in-game name. They knew from that this was my wife. The first comment after that asked if it was me with her. I replied no.
The first comment on her Facebook wall post read, "Oh fuck! That's John Jones, her boss." One reply offered an amusing and interesting snippet, "So that's how the bitch got MY promotion."
My phone rang then or rather vibrated as the company frowned upon the use of phones during "work hours."
"TAKE IT DOWN," came the plea as soon as I answered. It was my wife's father and funnily enough, the owner of the accounting firm my wife worked at. It had been why I was sure she would be okay with relocating back to her home town and why the promotion comment amused me. He would have been delighted to facilitate her relocating back to the head office, the office he worked from.
"I can't," I told him. "It's not me broadcasting that video. I'm just making sure I have witnesses for the pending divorce."
"Please son, at least take down the links."
I hung up on him. His only thought, as it should be, was for her and her reputation. Mine was to burn the bitch's reputation to the ground.
I looked back at the wall. Carly, her friend from back home had posted, "Way to go girl. I love getting me some strange too."
Her husband replied, "And what strange dick have you been experiencing?"
Carly had several likes for her post. Her husband had more. It made me laugh for a moment as I pondered my next move and wondered what his would be.
Then it came to me. I clicked on the General channel in Slack and typed away then hit send before standing up and walking out the door.
My message was simple.
"Dear Management, Your impossible deadlines and insistence on Crunchtime has brought about the end of my marriage. If you don't believe me, check out this link. I quit. My lawyer will be in touch to deal with any reparations they feel I'm entitled to for the pain you've caused."
I was at the door before I heard it. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw my team had stood up and that they were applauding me or giving me the thumbs up. It had me wondering if any of them had bothered to look at the link yet.
It was dark in our apartment when I got there. Confirming that the stream wasn't coming from here. But that didn't mean she wouldn't return soon, so I worked quickly. One suitcase filled with my clothes later, I walked out of the place for the last time. Leaving with just the suitcase and my laptop in its bag.
Leaving behind everything else. Including my wedding ring, which was now on top of her wedding dress on the dining room table. Sitting in the middle of a urine puddle slowly being soaked up by the dress.
It took me a day to drive to Texas. Once there, the Texas firm agreed to let me start immediately. Offering me more time to work alongside the old CTO before taking over the reigns. It was comforting to be working and the old CTO helped me through the hurt a little. Having been there with his own bitter divorce just a few years prior. Indeed he was leaving town because he couldn't get away from his ex-wife and the scum she'd married. I wondered if that was an omen and I would find the same thing.
Three months flew by.
I heard nothing from my wife. But Facebook kept me informed. Most of the management at my wife's office had been let go, including her lover. It seems they knew of the affair and did nothing to stop it. She had also been terminated, which was a shock given who owned the firm and was now living at home with her parents. Sadly for Carly, she is now in the middle of a divorce herself. It seems she really was getting a bit of strange on the side.
My lawyer had filed for divorce citing adultery, citing a long list of potential witnesses to the deed plus a link to PornHub where the video had been posted for all to see. It wasn't me that did that, I didn't have the foresight to even record it that night. That honor belonged to his wife, who it seems was an IT security professional.
The divorce had sailed through and I was now a free man.
He also filed suits against my father in law's company and mine. The latter got the local labour board involved for potential code of conduct violations. Everyone at my old company got a big bonus for the game they still hadn't finished to keep them silent and I got an even fatter payout to keep quiet as well.
Her father settled for a handsome sum as well, but not until after a little bluster about the way I'd handled informing the world of her cheating. At least that's what my lawyer said, I had no contact with them.
Basically, I had a good amount of money in my bank account, a job I loved and freedom to seek out a new and happier life. I couldn't say I was happy but I felt now that I was truly on the way to getting there.
That was until this morning. Kelsi came in for our usual morning coffee and catch up meeting and blew a hole in my recovery. Kelsi had been a high school friend of my ex-wife and was now just a Facebook friend due to my ex-wife's behaviour and my position at the company.
She did it with a simple question "Mark, have you seen your wife's post today?"
When I shook my head, she placed my coffee on my desk and quickly exited the office. Closing the door behind her, which was a sure sign I wouldn't like what I was about to see. I never closed my door if I could help it.
I logged in and brought up her Facebook feed. I found a picture of a baby sonogram as her last post. The message that accompanied the picture read, "First picture of little Mark. The second love of my life. His daddy is the first.""