As technology takes over more of our lives, what will it mean to be human, and will we fear what we’ve created? What horrors will our technological hubris bring us in the future?
Join us as we walk the line between progressive convenience and the nightmares these advancements can breed. From faulty medical nanos and AI gone berserk to ghost-attracting audio-tech and one very ambitious Mow-Bot, we bring you tech horror that will keep you up at night. Will you reach the Kill Switch in time?
A sneak peek inside…HAÜS
by Garth von Buchholz
Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.
~ Charles Dickens
Mathias was five years old when his mother and father left him alone for the first time, just two weeks before Christmas. Lee and Eden were traveling to China on business and could not miss their flight. The boy’s grandparents were supposed to arrive earlier to be with him but their flight was delayed. A minor concern. Mathias’s parents were confident their HAÜS security system would look after him until his grandies arrived.
After a long series of tear-dampened goodbyes with Mathias the HAÜS immediately began the process of sealing the entrances, looping back to recheck and verify each closure. Mathias stood facing the garage door as he sniffled.
Hi Mathias! chimed a friendly, female voice, not too loudly, as if a real woman stood behind him. Those sounds are just the doors and windows locking, to keep you safe.
How would you like to watch a new movie? I can get some apple juice and toast for you, too. Mathias nodded again, this time a little less downcast. Wonderful! We’re going to have a happy day together, sweetie. Why don’t you go sit in your favorite chair and I’ll start the movie? It’s called Space Poppers 2. Do you remember when we watched the first Space Poppers together?
“Yes,” said Mathias, forgetting his abject sorrow. “I got a Space Poppers Hero Ship on my birthday.”
I remember, said the HAÜS. Your Mama and Daddy programmed Space Poppers 2 for you this morning. Go and get comfy in your chair. I’ll get your juice and toast and send it to you on a tray.
Beard, Greeneyes, Zipper, and Jawboy watched Mathias’s house as his parents left the garage. From their vantage point, they could see the house’s entire roof, front yard, and back yard. The lots were wide and the house was separated from its neighbors on the east and west sides by groves of trees and shrubs.
“It’s a HAÜS,” said Beard. “Security will be problematic, but we have some technology that will crack it without triggering any calls.”
“What if it doesn’t open the doors for us?” asked Greeneyes. “We could bang ‘em down. I brought C4.”
“Why the fuck are you bringing that military shit to a digital job?” Beard growled at him. “This is a fucking suburb, dude, not the Middle East.”
“We’ll get in,” said Zipper, the quiet one. “It’s getting out that I’m worried about.”
“What?” asked Jawboy, the youngest. “You mean out of the area?”
“He means out of the HAÜS,” replied Beard.
Mathias sat in front of the TV screen, sated, leftover bits of toast on his plate beside a half glass of juice.
Would you like to play with me now, Mathias? the HAÜS asked.
The boy leaped to his feet. “Yes! I’ll be Johnny Hero and you be the Targons! Where’s my gun?”
OK, I’ll be the Targons, said the HAÜS. Your Space Poppers gun is located…in the hallway storage closet. I will open it for you now.
Still in his pajamas, Mathias seized his weapon from the closet and started shooting plastic balls at any sound he heard. The HAÜS made sounds in the kitchen, the upper floor, the boy’s bedroom and the hallway to attract his attention. The gun made an explosive “whoosh” each time it fired and the HAÜS would oblige by crying out, Oh! You got me, Johnny Hero!
The four men crouched beside a five-foot-high portal door on the west side of the house, unseen from the street. Beard keyed in some settings on his tablet until — almost too easily — the door opened and inner lights flickered on.
“Who’s going in first?” asked Zipper, clutching his digital toolkit.
“We’re all fucking goin’ in together,” said Beard. “Except Jawboy. He can stand watch outside and ping us if anything unusual is going down.”
“I’ll go first,” said Greeneyes. The other two men joined him. The port door closed behind them.
“Shit!” said Zipper.
“Never mind.” Beard adjusted his kit. “We can open it again from the inside. Leave it for now.”
A booming voice from above made them jump back.
This is the HAÜS security perimeter. These premises are guarded and any trespassers risk injury, maiming, or even death beyond this point. Please acknowledge you have understood and received this warning.
“Fuck you, lady,” Greeneyes muttered.
Please reply in the affirmative.
“Yes! We understand!” yelled Beard, slamming his pack down on the concrete floor. “Damn it, it’s just boilerplate programming, men, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Thank you, said the HAÜS. You have been warned under Article 62 (13) 5 of the Criminal code. The HAÜS system is now authorized to use extreme force, if required…
EDITED BY: DAN SHAURETTE & EMERIAN RICH
GARTH VON BUCHHOLZ, H.E. ROULO, TIM O’NEAL, JERRY J. DAVIS, EMERIAN RICH, BILL DAVIDSON, DANA HAMMER, NACHING T. KASSA, GARRETT ROWLAN, DAPHNE STRASERT, PHILLIP T. STEVENS, LAUREL ANNE HILL, CHANTAL BOUDREAU