Drama Fantasy Horror

"Wait! Don't you dare hang up on me again. I---"

     Donnie slammed his cell phone onto his desk and swore softly to himself when the line was disconnected once more. Irritated, he hoisted his extra large frame from his sagging swivel chair and lumbered out of his office towards the kitchen for a necessary restorative snack; after all, he'd earned it while undergoing all the phone stress he'd experienced when trying to reach Customer Service.

    "What a wretched company. Every time I call them, I get the same old run-around or have to sit and sit and sit while I wait for a real person to come and help me. This Roboreality Home System isn't worth the money I dumped into it! A special deal for the new year? All your worries disappear at the touch of a button? Your home becomes aware of your every need when you speak to it? Yeah, right!"

He continued to grumble as he reached into the cupboard to seize and tear open a Family Sized bag of Snackatoodle Chips. In the process, several bright orange morsels spilled onto the counter top and floor. He added a liter of Mr. Bubbles to fill out his 'tweener' he called every snack he engulfed between meals, disregarding the mess he'd created.

    "Friendly staff will be available at any hour to assist you with all of your needs. They'll take care of everything. Hah! These guys haven't given me one iota of help."

    The twenty-something bachelor minced out of the kitchen on flattened slippers and into the living room where he plopped into his well-worn easy chair, continuing to malign the company that had promised him total efficiency with voice commands or a mere touch on the control panel they'd installed on his wall at the beginning of the week.

"I'm reporting them to the Better Business Bureau for false advertising and canceling this useless service. I can't even get the stupid lights to come on and off!"

As a new customer, Donnie Dorkus had received the most advanced programming from Roboreality Home Systems as a trial offer without knowing what was installed in his home. The salesman who'd assisted Donnie, son of the owner Brett Coody, had secretly designed the new version and decided to launch the upgrade without notifying the main office. He wanted to receive kudos and a possible fat raise if his personal project proved to be as incredible as he believed it to be. Brett Junior had big plans of opening his own branch of the company in neighboring San Diego.

  Donnie shoved handfuls of salty chips into his mouth, and crumbs fell to the floor. He ignored them. Sloshing Mr. Bubbles over the lip of the bottle when he set it down, he gazed impartially at the spreading stain on the already dirty carpeting and shrugged.

His ire rising again, Donnie lunged from his chair, dropping his treats on the littered floor, and deliberately stomped over to the control panel that glowed a pale blue on the wall. Donnie gritted his teeth, began to pound on every button with his balled fist, slamming the first five control buttons.

"You asked for it! Useless piece of junk! A waste of hard earned money!" He continued his attack. "Brainless unit! I'm about to put you out of your and my misery!"

A seasoned Californian, Donnie barely registered the slight tremor that briefly shook his home; he was used to mini-quakes.

But this shimmy was not what it appeared to be. Awakening, 845 Palm Drive was suddenly sentient and unwilling to return to sleep; the need to stop its owner from destroying it caused everything to fight back.

    Sudden and insistent bleating of his alarm clock gave the belligerent man pause, and he jerked in surprise to see every light starting to flash on and off throughout the house. He heard the growl of his garbage disposal hungrily demanding to be fed scraps.

    "Ouch!' He hissed when the remote vacuum shot out of the closet and raced over his foot, taking off a chunk of skin.

    An insistent whistling directed his attention back to the kitchen where the tea kettle, filled with heated water, danced on the hot stovetop, and the microwave merrily beeped, creating a discordant duet.

    He heard the garage door opening and closing, repeatedly crashing to the cement floor with more than usual force.

    "Oh my God! What is happening?" He shouted in frightened confusion.

    Another closet door slowly opened, and the roar of his scooter blasted loudly; the yellow three wheeled device rolled into the living room, straight at him.

    Donnie leaped out of the way, bruising his hip on one of the oak end tables. His mind worked rapidly as he rubbed his hip and sought to understand what was happening. From zero assistance to an overwhelming take over; he realized that his house had come alive!

"I can't believe this is happening to me!" he wildly exclaimed. "Please make it stop!"

Paralyzed, he stood in place and watched as the television came to life and began to surf speedily through channels on its own, the volume reaching ear-splitting levels.

The bathroom awoke and the shower blasted hot water, filling the room with steam; his electric toothbrush shook free of its stand and cavorted to the sink where it slid down the porcelain to twirl round and round in the sink like a demented merry-go-round. The electric razor on the vanity buzzed as if laughing at the antics of the toothbrush.

    As if on cue, Alexa began chatting away to no one, answering non-existent questions, and his printer vomited page after page of blank paper to cover the floor.

    "Stop!" Donnie screamed, but none of his devices listened to his strident command. "I'm gonna pull the plug," he shouted as if his barely audible and useless threat would bring the chaos to a close.

With his words echoing from the high ceiling, the furnace roared back its challenge, cranking up the temperature. The entire home began to heat quickly while the door locks quietly engaged.

"Enough is enough," Donnie whimpered and tottered over to the door to make his escape. Grasping the intricately carved knob, he yelped in pain and jerked away; the metal left a burned design on his palm.

Screaming in agony and running for his life, Donnie hurried into his small office, waddling from side to side like a viciously shaken weeble-wobble, and reached for his cell phone.

"Gotta call the company. Need help!"

Without his knowledge, the door closed and silently locked behind him, imprisoning him. But before he could place his desperate call to Roboreality Home Systems, the device blew up in his right ear, and he fell to the floor, clutching his head and howling in pain.

"Please stop! I beg of you! I take it all back! I didn't mean anything by it. Just leave me alone! Leave me alone!"

As he lay there, blood flowing from his ear and forming into a small puddle, the carpeting leisurely disengaged from the floor, staple by staple, and slowly approached the thrashing man, as if hunting the sobbing form splayed across it.

Striking as quickly as a reticulated python, the beige shag rug covered the wriggling man and coiled tightly, constricting Donnie.

Struggling to escape the compression while trying to breathe, the man slowly expired as his house happily absorbed the dead man's essence. Donnie was soon gone, but 845 Palm Drive continued to thrive.

February 08, 2023 19:45

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Wendy Kaminski
02:48 Feb 13, 2023

Gonna go ahead and unplug all my smart home devices now...Scary story about too much reliance on digital home invaders, for sure! I enjoyed it, Deb, and welcome to the site!


Deb Runyon
15:06 Feb 14, 2023

Hi Wendy: Thank you for the kind words. I was a bit shy of posting anything on the site, but it is actually quite fun! Deb


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Skyler Woods
21:37 Mar 17, 2023

Hi Deb, I really loved your story and I was wondering if I could narrate it on my YouTube channel? It would debut next month on the first Sunday, the 2nd, at around 6pm. I was also going to post the link to your Reedsy author profile in the video description box so my subscribers can see your other stories as well! I just thought this was a marvelous story! Please let me know if you'd like me to narrate it. I had one last question. I've narrated stories from my followers and I always ask if it's okay to change the title to their story. If ...


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Mike Panasitti
17:12 Feb 18, 2023

Great use of specific details to give life to a story of technology gone haywire. I particularly like the simile and metaphor in this passage: "The bathroom awoke and the shower blasted hot water, filling the room with steam; his electric toothbrush shook free of its stand and cavorted to the sink where it slid down the porcelain to twirl round and round in the sink like a demented merry-go-round. The electric razor on the vanity buzzed as if laughing at the antics of the toothbrush." Mr. Dorkus gets done in at the end. Perhaps a little...


Deb Runyon
18:34 Feb 18, 2023

Thank you for your observations, Mike. It was a fun peek into a world gone mad.


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