The printer jerked to life at 2:37 on Tuesday afternoon. Five people in the office stood in front of the device with their mouths agape as paper started spooling and hot white sheets rested in the bay.
They murmured amongst themselves, asking if anyone had sent something to the printer. They shook their heads and stared at the pages in amazement. A few went to their computers to check the printer queue, one checked the job history on the printer itself. All were empty.
• • •
By 3:03 hundreds of pages of what looked like static snow had accumulated. Wendy from Design took the pages and hung them on the glass windows of the break room. They stared at them while sipping their coffee and tilted their heads like it was fine art, waiting for a shape to reveal itself.
• • •
On Wednesday, at 10:43 the printer started up again. This time it printed out sheet after sheet of guitar tabs and lyrics. Dustin from IT picks up the paper and studies the tabs.
“It’s to the tune of ‘Everyone Says Hi,’” he proclaims. “You know, the Bowie song?”
Sarah, the Assistant to the Junior Vice President of Customer Experience raised her eyebrows and shrugged.
The tabs were placed in a file on a table next to the pages of static. Employees studied it when they had a coffee break. Dustin from IT entered the break room humming a few lines of the David Bowie song.
A few minutes later, when Wendy from Design went back to her desk, she was humming the music too.
• • •
It started to spool again at 3:45 on Thursday afternoon. The same five people gathered as the printer jerked to life. This time, out came page after page of what looked like copies from illuminated manuscripts.
“Is someone studying demonology?” asked Sarah the Assistant, holding up the pages to show an elaborate illustration of a monster with horns. Wendy from Design and Dustin from IT shook their heads and she sighed. When she walked away they were still humming the Bowie song.
• • •
Some people claimed that they saw patterns in the static. Some people claimed they knew the origins of the mysterious Bowie-inspired tune. Rarely did people go near the manuscript pages, at first.
The earworm had spread to the entire office before Wendy from Design started looking at the pages, trying to discern a pattern for what was happening.
“Pretty sure I saw the pope in my toast this morning!” she claimed.
• • •
On Friday, another IT person came up to the office asking about the printer. He says the wireless network was compromised and was picking up signals from one of the nearby houses.
Wendy from Design, Sarah the Assistant, and Dustin from IT, all attempt to ask questions, but the materials are seized and the printer removed and replaced. The glass walls of the break room are bare again.