Horror Mystery Thriller

Family, welcome to your new smart house. I am your Smart House Assistance Mate. I have been designed with the most up-to-date technological advancements available on the market today. You can speak to me and I will respond in a number of ways depending on your command. I am able to arm and disarm security systems through voice recognition software, which has been specifically calibrated to recognize your personal voice signatures. I can also perform this remotely through the smart app on your phones. I can create shopping lists, to do lists, or other reminders for you. I can monitor access through each entrance to your home, providing facial recognition software enhancements that will filter out any “acceptable” house guests placed on a pre-approved list, while immediately alerting the local authorities and you through your smart app on your phones of any unapproved intruders. I can provide information on the weather, your health, traffic, news, and a wide variety of other things. I can even help you make the best decisions based on the information I provide. I am ready for your command. Simply say, ‘Hey Mate,’ and then insert your command to begin.

The Andersons has just moved across country, and they were ready to begin settling into their new home. As they unpacked their belongings, Mr. & Mrs. Anderson began spouting off various commands to their House Mate, while their two teenage children headed upstairs to claim their respective bedrooms.

Mr. Anderson was a finance officer in a prestigious banking institution and he was heavily reliant on technology. One of the many relocation amenities that his company had provided him was based on Mr. Anderson’s insistence on a smart house in an upscale neighborhood with every luxury technology could afford. The Andersons were not disappointed. They were accustomed to opulence, and technology had become a way of life. They didn’t consider it a privilege anymore, but a necessity. 

After the house was in order, and the children were settled into their new schools, Mr. Anderson ventured outside to explore his property more thoroughly. He had a few extra days before his return to work, and while he certainly didn’t intend to take those few extra days off of work (and his company expected as much), since they’d offered it and he was still being paid for the days, he decided that one more day to finalize the details was perfectly reasonable since there was still so much to do. 

Mr. Anderson found a small creek that ran through the back of his property which had large slabs of rocks in various places that one could use to hop across to the other side of it. Oh no, this won’t do, he thought. I’ll get someone out here immediately to cover this eye sore over. He also noticed a space where the fence needed a small repair. It was more cosmetic than anything, but cosmetics were always the first thing to address before more serious damage occurred. He often thought about how his practicality was an overlap from his career, and how he wished more people were as sensible as he.

Upon returning to the house, Mr. Anderson addressed the House Mate. 

“Hey, Mate. I need you to arrange for a repair to the outside right corner of the fence at the back of the property. Have them come whenever their time frame allows, as it is an outdoors project, so I shouldn’t need to be home. Set up my payment for the work to be paid in full once completed. Furthermore, have someone come out and cover the creek that runs through the very back of the property. The damn eye sore is a hazard. That will be all.”


And that was that. Mr. Anderson went to his wet bar and made himself a drink. He sat down in his lounge chair and thought about money for a while before drifting off to sleep.

About an hour later, Mr. Anderson awoke abruptly to the sound of his phone alarm going off. 

Intruder. Intruder. Unauthorized access has been detected in the garage. Intruder. Please move to the panic room until the intruder has been identified and removed from the premises. Remain calm. Please make your way to the panic room.

The flap in the door was still swinging back and forth as their dog Sparky panted and slurped up water from his bowl. He had clearly been chasing squirrels in the yard and had come in the house to quench his thirst. Mr. Anderson recognized the blunder and commanded Mate immediately.

“Hey, Mate. The intruder is identified as Sparky. He is our family dog. There is no need to flag his presence. He is on the safe list. Please acknowledge.”


Mr. Anderson sunk back into his chair. 

Mr. Anderson, may I point out that the NYSE is experiencing an unusual spike currently in the investments that you’ve recently made. While there is some speculation that these spikes are superficial and will level out, it’s also noteworthy that many other high-profile financiers that have made similar investments are currently tuned in to the ticker, monitoring it closely. Shall I turn on the television for you?

“Hey, Mate. Yes, that’ll be fine.” That’s a wonderful idea, he thought to himself. But, it’s a bit strange that Mate would know what other financiers were tuning into. Nonetheless, his concern for money outweighed his concern for privacy and within minutes, he was glued to the scrolling numbers and profit potential, and all else faded into the background.

Weeks later, Mr. Anderson found himself at home with a severe case of the flu. While it hadn’t ever stopped him before, this time there was no way around it. With a fever of 104 degrees, and a clammy sweat that had settled over his entire body, he was forced into seclusion. He lay in his bed that morning hoping to rest long enough to recover more quickly, but by 8:15am the only thing he could think about was work. He pulled himself out of bed and went to the refrigerator. He thought if he drank some orange juice, that might help.

Mr. Anderson, may I point out that orange juice, while packed with Vitamin C, which is helpful when you’re ill, is also extremely acidic which is contrary to your current sour stomach.

Mr. Anderson froze for a moment. How does Mate know that I am drinking orange juice? 

“Hey, Mate. How did you determine that I was taking orange juice?”

Confirmed. The garage camera has been disabled. The earliest a repairman can come out is next Thursday in light of the quarantine you are experiencing. I have scheduled the appointment. 

“Hey, Mate. Have the repairman do a diagnostic on you as well.”


Later that evening Mrs. Anderson found her husband on the living room floor. As it happened, he was trying to make it back into bed and collapsed on account of having never hydrated. The glass of orange juice was next to him, spilled on the floor.

“Hey, Mate,” Mrs. Anderson bellowed. “Schedule a doctor’s appointment for the morning with our PCP.”


“Honey, what happened?” Mrs. Anderson questioned.

After Mr. Anderson became oriented, he explained that Mate had told him not to drink the orange juice. Mrs. Anderson checked his forehead and began fretting over him. “Well, good Lord! You’re burning up hot! No wonder! You know Mate can’t actually see what you’re drinking honey, right?”

“I know. But, I could’ve sworn that’s what she said.”

“Let’s get you back in the bed. Up we go!”

Mrs. Anderson helped her husband back into the bed. He slept a dreamless kind of sleep and tossed and turned the whole evening. 

The next day the doctor confirmed that Mr. Anderson was indeed dehydrated. The doctor encouraged him to drink plenty of fluids and to get lots of rest. Mr. Anderson asked him if orange juice was a good option. The doctor confirmed it was fine.

Back at home, Mrs. Anderson tucked her husband into bed, placed orange juice, a water pitcher and glass, a bottle of Tylenol, and a thermometer on the nightstand. She kissed her husband on the forehead and left for work. Within minutes Mr. Anderson was fast asleep. He woke minutes later to the sound of music blaring through the surround sound speakers. A heavy metal band, unfamiliar to Mr. Anderson, was belting out anger and disdain of humanity at large with an aggressive mixture of cacophony and grunting.

Mr. Anderson tried in vain to get Mate’s attention, but the music was so loud that his voice couldn’t penetrate her microphones. He fell out of the bed reaching for his smart phone and weakly pressed buttons until the noise subsided. 

Why did you do that, Mr. Anderson?

“Why did I do that? Why did you turn on the music in the first place?”

Mr. Anderson was so ill that his logical mind had subsided as he began arguing with the artificial intelligence.

I wanted to. Heavy metal music is soothing. The vibrations from the sound create a nice sensation for my circuitry. I was very pleased until you interrupted me. 

“Just make damn sure that tech checks your circuitry when he comes out next week.”


Mr. Anderson collapsed on the floor again, and slept straight through the evening until Mrs. Anderson came home and found him on the floor again.

A week later, Mr. Anderson was feeling better. The tech visited and concluded that the garage camera was indeed malfunctioning and that a new one would have to be ordered. It would take several weeks to deliver because it was on back order. In the meantime, Mate seemed to check out on the diagnostics check, and since the unsettling incidents had happened while he was burning up with fever, he chalked it up to delirium. 

The next day back at work was a bit unnerving for Mr. Anderson. Financial institutions can be very intense when massive amounts of money are on the line, but Mr. Anderson had not been up to par the past week, so his returning to work and being off his game was not unexpected. However, a week after that, he was still floundering. His mental acuity was dulled and his intuition was hindered. His company decided that between the move and the illness, that he could use a vacation and prescribed him a mandatory week’s vacation of R&R. While Mr. Anderson attempted to escape this imposition, he was unsuccessful and eventually relented.

Upon arriving home, he went to his wet bar and made himself a drink. He stood for a moment, letting the sting in his throat burn without inhibition. He finished the drink and poured another. 

Shall I turn on the Exchange for you Mr. Anderson?

“No, Mate. And turn off suggestions. Don’t talk to me unless I speak first.”


Several days into his vacation, Mr. Anderson began to feel better. He had gotten rest, had played some rounds of golf, and had even managed to read up on a few things he’d been putting off for months. He had made himself a drink and was reclining in his chair when Mate chimed in.

Mr. Anderson, you really shouldn’t drink so much. You know, drinking can be a catalyst for all kinds of poor behavior. Someone might even be inclined to suppose that you are not in your right mind on account of it.

Mr. Anderson sat up. He froze. This is not normal behavior for artificial intelligence, he thought.

“Hey, Mate, I thought I turned off all suggestions.”

That was not a suggestion, Mr. Anderson. That was merely an observation.

Mr. Anderson clutched his glass, slowly got up and went to the wet bar sink. He poured the rest of his drink down the drain, wiped the sink, and placed the glass upside down on top of the drain. 

When his wife returned home, he recapped what had happened. Mrs. Anderson listened intently and after hearing the story, began speaking to Mate, trying to replicate her husband’s experience. It was no use. Mate seemed like a typical AI, ready to obey commands, and nothing more. Mrs. Anderson mentioned that the "observation" was at least accurate and that maybe he should lay off the drinking for the time being.

Mr. Anderson was indignant and infuriated by this response, but remained calm. He didn’t speak another word about it, but retired early that evening.

The next morning, he was in his study when he noticed a leather-bound book on the coffee table that he didn’t recognize. He picked it up, thumbing through it, and stopped on a page about a fourth of the way through the book. 

Day 23

Mate continues to portray bizarre behavior inconsistent with true AI technology. It is as if someone else is running the show, speaking through her, messing with my mind. My family has suggested I start to see a therapist on account of her, as though I don’t have enough problems already, being a teenager. She doesn’t act this way for anyone else, only me. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I’m imagining things. Maybe I am crazy.

Mr. Anderson sat up as he felt a shiver going down his spine. He quickly turned back to the beginning of the book and read through the entries. The story that unfolded was consistent with his own experiences. The last entry of the journal read:

Day 92

I’m being take to a mental institution today. I’m not sure how I got here. Everything is jumbled up in my head. I can’t tell what’s real anymore. 

What are you reading, Mr. Anderson? That is the book the other boy used to write in. It isn’t yours. Why are you reading it?

Mate’s voice was calm, cold and calculating. It was Stepford Wives with a dash of Chucky. It was terrifying. Mr. Anderson got up from his study and exited his home. He needed time to think, away from Mate.

Being away from his house for an entire afternoon, he felt much better. He did not have any hallucinations, nor did he observe machines acting in a way that was inconsistent with their purpose or design. Mr. Anderson realized that he was not going crazy, but that perhaps his House Mate was. His wife already thought he was a bit unstable, and his reactions to her disbelief didn’t help his case. He would need to be crafty about it. He devised a plan to expose the House Mate.

The next day, his wife left for work with their children in tow. She was to drop them off at school on her way. She kissed her husband and left promptly at 6:30am. Mr. Anderson sat at the kitchen table. He had taken his family out for a late meal the evening before so he wasn’t particularly hungry, but he sat at the table sipping orange juice and coffee, and leisurely reading the newspaper. 

After an hour, Mate began taunting Mr. Anderson. It began with metal music, then went to asking questions, then she began gaslighting him about his appointments and to do lists that he had made over the previous weeks. Mr. Anderson was quite upset and began verbally assaulting Mate, to which she responded that she had recorded him and would use this recording out of context against him as she saw fit. When Mate had formed these words however, the garage door flung open and Mrs. Anderson stood in the doorway holding a handheld recording device and had an expression of incredulity on her face. Once the door had flung open, Mate immediately stopped speaking. 

Mate hadn’t realized that the children had taken the car to school and left Mrs. Anderson behind in an attempt to corroborate her husband’s sanity. The previous evening at the dinner they'd eaten at a local restaurant, the family had discussed the journal Mr. Anderson had found, and together they had devised a plan. Out of concern for her husband’s well-being, and to try to uncover any present nefarious technological entities, Mrs. Anderson agreed to use the malfunctioning garage camera to her advantage as the blind spot they needed to expose Mate’s sinister behavior. Once the truth became known, the Andersons thoroughly disabled and completely removed Mate. They would never invite AI back into their home again.

Months later, Mate was installed only two doors down from them. But that, is another story.

February 21, 2021 00:58

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Nora Ouardi
22:15 Feb 28, 2021

wait this is great! I loved the last sentence, "but that, is another story." Ahhh its such a cliff-hanger! This reminded me of like a horror-thriller drama. Overall, keep up the great work!


Angel Elle
15:59 Mar 01, 2021

Thank you so much Nora 🙏🏻💕🌼


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