Welcome to the <COMPANY> team, <NAME>! On completion of the confluence training and after the issue of your company laptop, be sure to pick up your ceremonial robe and dagger from the <COMPANY> Temple of the Formless Darkness, and begin your descent down the 9,000 Steps of the Forsaken, each inscribed with a rune of the nameless, those who dwell in the fringes of the void that consumes all and shall bring ruin to the world of man. On reaching the final step, remember to light the sacred candle formed from the fat of the thousand young of the blighted one, who dwells even now in a blood drenched pit beneath our <LOCATION> headquarters and whose croaking voice is said to drive men mad who dare to listen. Failure to do so will doubtless cause the nameless to whisper your name, and you do NOT want that to happen. The last person that happened to… well, we are still cleaning that one up weeks later. Step forward toward the profane tabernacle and tell it that which you secretly desire while drawing blood from your palm with the dagger and smearing it across your eyes. Do not lie, for its currency is lies and you shall be made into coin for your audacity. On finishing this task, a great bell shall sound, a grim and vile intonation, and you must retreat as swiftly as possible, back up the steps and do not dare venture a glance back, no matter what you might hear or what promises are made to your bleeding ears. At the top of the steps, remove your robe, return the dagger, and speak of what you heard to no one. That shall be your eternal burden to bear.
Please join me in congratulating <NAME> on <TIME> years at <COMPANY>! Mr. <NAME> presides over <DEPARTMENT> operations, working with his team to ensure platform stability and performance. That is quite an accomplishment, <NAME>. Indeed, there are whispers that far darker forces are at work. That late at night a hooded figure can be seen moving from server rack to server rack in our datacenters, leaving burnt offerings and the telltale scent of brimstone in the wake of his vigil. It is said if you trail behind this stealthy form and listen closely you hear the murmurs of a long dead tongue, a droning chant to stir otherworldly entities and malign forces into wakefulness, whence they take up their vigil over the machines.
This says nothing of sanguine fluids that interminably leak from these infernal constructs, nor how they glow a baleful green and stink of rotting flesh. The buzzing of flies greets the arrival of each new query, and the wailing of damned issues from any server unfortunate enough to connect to these corrupted devices. Standing in their presence overlong erodes one’s sanity, until all that remains is the mortal husk where once a human being stood. The conscious mind destroyed by whatever dark arts and foul magic are at play in these fetid pits of debasement. These are less datacenters than cathedrals to the profane. Unholy places that rot the souls of humankind and bend them to malign purpose.
Of course, no one would go so far as to implicate you in any of this. We are merely the vessels for all of this madness. Hollowed out to be used up in search of uptime. We are supplicants to the cause, and eagerly complete our toil in the name of this incomprehensible evil. Though, one does wonder if you can account for your whereabouts when the whisperer in the dark makes his rounds, turning all to serve his foul intent.
Congratulations on your 12 year anniversary. That is an impressive amount of time spent within this institution, but nothing more than a grain of sand falling through the hourglass for the servants of Vecna, for whom even death is but an inconvenience. They who are asked “At what price, power?” and answer they shall pay any cost. Perhaps as little as an eye and a hand. Perhaps far more. Always at the cost of your soul. We wallow in the filth of this world, in forgotten ruins, trading in secrets and defiling the works of man and elves alike. Our cults are hidden in plain sight, in the heart of your cities, corrupting allies and foes alike. We are an inclusive blight. A spreading rot. You cannot defeat us. Do you not feel as though it is time to join us? Give in to the call of lichdom and secret your spirit away in phylacteries hidden the world over. Watch as feeble heroes stumble and flail, trying to cast down your dark designs, but only ensnaring themselves deeper within your webs. Watch as the tides of undeath swell and wash this world clean of the blight of the just and the pure. We are waiting for you. We have an eternity.
Please join me in wishing a happy one year anniversary to <NAME> of the <PRODUCT> team. While not working on <PRODUCT>, <NAME> acts as our first line of defense against the fearsome Yeti, snow demons who haunt the frigid mountains and forests of Canada. He has a rigorous training regimen consisting of eating at places named Pain & Fromage. I did not know what fromage was, so I looked it up. Apparently he subsists on a diet of suffering and cheese. That is probably not the type of person you want to mess with. Good job on upping your pain tolerance, <NAME>.
And you will need quite a tolerance for pain when the yeti come. Covered in a shaggy hide and immune to the effects of cold, their hook like claws and grotesque fangs are capable of easily rending flesh. Their brutish strength is more than enough to shatter bone in a single blow. They thirst for blood and seek to destroy the world of men, returning to earth to a more primitive, natural state where they alone shall rule over broken tribes of our descendants as cruel overlords. From their ice palaces they shall force the remaining humans to toil in the frozen wastes, bringing the yeti fresh meat and treasures which they will lock away in caves deep beneath the earth.
There will be no winter wonderland, only a cruel and inhospitable plane of suffering and torment, where the wind bites deeply into exposed flesh and the loss of fingers and toes to frostbite is a common occurrence. No art or science, only the unrelenting cold. Bundled in rags, the last free humans will wage an ineffective guerrilla campaign against these arctic horrors. All of this shall come to pass in time. It is inevitable.
Unless, of course, we are first corrupted and taken over by The Thing. That is also up there. Perhaps the yeti themselves are already Things. That is, perhaps, a possibility too terrifying to imagine. You may need to spend more time at Pain & Fromage, <NAME>.
Not an actual anniversary email, but a congratulations note I sent two recipients of a promotion at my company.
Congratulations, <NAME> and <NAME>! With your new roles come increased responsibilities. Tasks, if you will. Toils, like the heroes in some Homeric epic. Deep within the confines of the earth, the hidden things sleep. Impossible beings that should not exist. Things that by our current understanding of the sciences cannot exist. The great weeping sores that line their bodies weep sweet lacrima. When ingested, this cloudy fluid opens our minds to strange new vistas and terrifying cosmic truths that unwind human sanity and send us into a spiral of madness from whence there is no return. To sup from their wounds is to blow open the doors of perception and wrench your third eye open in blood and pain. To light your every nerve with electric current and burn away any pretense you maintain about your place in this world. You cannot call yourself fully human once you have tasted their alien fruit.
Of course, such things must be made to slumber. They are fang and claw and multitudes of limbs and mouths that will surely seek to consume all that lies before them. They hunger, and they sleep fitfully. You must descend beneath the earth, into the lightless subterranean caverns and sing them a siren song of screams of pain and terror. All that soothes these monsters are the sounds of strife and the scent of bloodshed. The taste of fear. Conflict is, to them, a sweet lullaby that gently lulls them back into complacency. Dreamless sleep.
In time you shall grow accustomed to your new home. Your eyes will fog and go dark in the depths. You will no longer need sight. You will navigate by the scent of the sleeping ones and the sound of their vast mass shifting, signaling the need for your ministrations. Eventually, as you continue to subsist on the fungus found in their caverns, a fungus fed by the secretions of the sleepers, you will begin your transformation. Finally, one day you will take your place among them, joining their ranks as we send new acolytes into that hellish chamber of lament.
Congratulations on your 5 year anniversary, <NAME>! Five years is good amount of time. Long enough to learn to of the foul darkness beyond the veil. To feel the icy touch of black hearted monstrosity alight upon your fragile mind. There is no safety here. Reality is but an eggshell, and it has begun to crack. Surely you must see the fissures by now. The patterns in the seeming randomness. It begins innocently enough. A server that is misbehaving. A corrupted error log. Only it is not the data that is corrupted. No. That would be simple. An easy fix. It is the very nature of our world that has been touched by blight. A malicious presence making itself known. The more you dig, the further it sinks its hooks into the yielding meat of your brain. Your sleep becomes troubled. You see things that simply are not there. Only they are. Beyond the curtain separating our world from a place of blight and ruin. Beasts that seek to ensnare us and draw us ever inward. Toward a thousand hungering maws that incessantly thrash and chew, trying to sate an endless hunger. Their song lures you into the spiral leading between our realities. You walk the path of shadow from whence there is no return. In time they shall devour our world utterly, leaving nothing but barren stone in their wake. They ruled this universe, before the light was separated from the darkness. In time they shall clam dominion again. But first they shall devour us to recover their strength. They have waited an eternity. What is a few heartbeats more for such deathless beings?
Congratulations on your 9 year anniversary, <NAME>! At <COMPANY> we value our employees in unique and special ways, regardless of the legal or ethical ramifications. In recognition of your years of service, please choose one of the following rewards from our Movie Madness package:
1) Bad Moms – This off kilter comedy about mothers pushed beyond their limits inspired this new offering. And who is the worst mom of all? Why Mother Brain, of course. Yes, the hideous AI created by Chozo who rules over the Space Pirates and who works tirelessly to push the restore order to the universe by setting everything back to zero. You will doubtless be bonded with a parasitic Metroid organism and tied to her terrible will as the Metroid slowly consumes your life force. I hope you remember your freeze beam! I am kidding. Freeze beams do not exist. But brain parasites sure do!
2) Finding Dory – We will take a trip to exotic pet shop where I am fairly certain we see something resembling the titular hero of this film. Then we will buy it and eat it. If the fish does not have parasites we will sprinkle some on there.
3) Ghostbusters – While we are fairly certain ghosts are not real, you know what are real? Protons, like from the Ghostbusters’ proton packs. We will bombard you with them. In theory, the gamma radiation from such an event will give you fantastic abilities beyond that of a normal human. Of course, I am basing all of this research on the peer reviewed physics paper “The Incredible Hulk #1”. I have been assured by actual scientists that the reality involves less turning into a green engine of destruction and more radiation sickness and agonizing death. We will even throw in some free parasites for good measure.
4) Ice Age: Collision Course – In which we strand you on an iceberg and shove it into a trans pacific shipping lane. Should be pretty self-explanatory. I do not know if ice parasites are a thing, but we will make it one.
5) Lights Out – We turn off the lights for a few minutes. Just enough time for someone to inject you with brain parasites!
6) The Jungle Book – We will abandon you in the jungle. How you get home is up to you. The jungle is infested with parasites.
7) Star Trek Beyond – We abandon you in the same jungle from the Jungle Book thing, except in a Starfleet uniform. Plus extra parasites.
Congratulations again and we hope you like parasites!
Happy 13th Anniversary, <NAME>! Each year, as your anniversary approaches, we measure strange temporal distortions. Bursts of static. Seemingly random noise. Ghostly apparitions and human faces crying out in pain. Unusual activity, for certain.
We have, at last, uncovered a pattern in the chaos. Triangulating on the signal and filtering out heavy amounts of radiation, it appears someone from the future is communicating backwards in time to us. His message was garbled, at first, but certain phrases have repeated themselves. He seems to speak of a bleak world where the tattered remnants of humanity are relentlessly hunted and ruthlessly exterminated by what he calls <LAST NAME>-Bots. These awful, metallic creatures are spewed forth in limitless numbers by gigantic factories overseen by a malicious AI overmind.
These survivors believe the AI to be the remnants of a man, an engineer who merged his consciousness with the storage devices he oversaw. Driven mad by years of toil and countless NOC calls, his hatred for humanity overcame him and led to a mad quest to destroy all that lives. The missiles rained from the sky first, destroying the majority of the populace. Radiation took many of the survivors. Those left began to envy the dead as grim, skull faced robots began to scour the surface, vaporizing anyone they could find with plasma weapons.
We do not know who could be responsible for such an atrocity. We only ask that you remain vigilant and keep a watchful eye on your coworkers. The father of the <LAST NAME>-bots could be anyone.
Happy one year anniversary, <NAME>! In Caracas, Venezuela there is a mysterious substance oozing from the roads known as La Mancha Negra. Since its first appearance in 1986, this strange ooze has caused numerous automobile accidents and claimed thousands of lives. All attempts to identify the composition of La Mancha Negra have failed. It grows when warm and wet, with the consistency of chewed bubble gum, and shrinks when cold and dry, becoming as slick as black ice. Almost as though it were a living thing. All attempts to clean it have met with failure. Detergents do not work. Nor do high powered sprayers. They went so far as to resurface the road, and La Mancha Negra returned. The application of crushed limestone merely made the roads undrivable for residents.
We have our own theories, of course. La Mancha Negra is merely to physical manifestation of a malignancy buried deep beneath the earth. A foul intelligence that stirs in its slumber and claims lives as sacrifice to slowly awaken. It oozes and grows, making itself manifest in the physical plane, while in the psychic realms it goes unchecked.
Indeed, we burrowed tunnels beneath the earth, leading to great caverns where we surmise the source of La Mancha Negra alights upon our world. Deep in a underground, something is beginning to move. We sent down locals to investigate, secured to lines with safety harnesses. There was a terrible, chiropteran screeching, followed by screams. Awful, bone chilling screams. The lines all went taught, then slack just as abruptly. When we pulled them back, all that was left were the tattered, blood stained harnesses, and scraps of cloth and hair.
Given your project management experience, we have decided to send you to the site to oversee operations. The first order of business will, of course, require you to tour the tunnels, so you might ascertain what happened to the missing workers. We trust you will not fail in this matter.
Congratulations on your anniversaries, <NAME> and <NAME>. To reward you for all your hard work, <COMPANY> would like to grant you an overnight trip to the old abandoned summer camp outside of town.
Yes, amid gnarled trees that seem to groan in agony as a fell wind whips between their gnarled branches, you will have an amazing time swimming, canoeing, making friendship bracelets, and certainly not being repeatedly stabbed with a rusty machete by a monstrous, hulking former camper. A creature driven mad by the constant taunting of his peers and only able to enjoy a respite when he kills and hot blood splashes across the hideous mask that has now supplanted his face as the grim visage he presents to the world. Nor will you be terrorized for hours as you are relentlessly stalked across the haunted grounds, never knowing if he is just behind you, or awaiting just past the doorway ahead. Again, you need not have any concerns about such matters.
Nor should you worry that I have struck a bargain with this fiend from the depths of hell to spare my own life, sending him a steady stream of victims in a bid to save myself from being turned into a grisly trophy in his foul den, the basement beneath the skeletal remains of the cabin he was trapped inside when the other campers set it aflame, burning him terribly and rendering him immune to pain. That would ridiculous. Clearly I would never do something like that.
Enjoy your trip and feel free to wear lots of heavy clothes and clunky boots unsuitable for running in.