They Are Aware. (#Flashfiction)

My decade old smoke detector burned out on the 29th of last month. Little did I suspect that the replacements were more than networked.



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It’s an old house, three floors living space, lots of rooms. It takes a lot of smoke detectors to get it up to code. After years of trying to remember which room took what battery I threw in the towel and filled the cart with the latest and greatest. Carbon Monoxide and smoke detectors combined, all of them networked to let me know everywhere when one anywhere went off.

Sharpie in hand, I put the location on each and programmed them. Satisfied that my work was solid, I grabbed the cordless drill and ladder and mounted them. Once they were in place I set the basement unit off. Running up the stairs I could hear all of them warning of fire in the basement. Cool.

Two weeks went by before the suspicions formed. I was leaving the living room when I noticed the detector flash rapidly. Crap, bad unit? It stopped in a minute and when I hit the test button all was well. That evening I saw the one in the upstairs hall do the same thing. Same basic pattern. Not quite the same, but similar. As an old cryptologist I see patterns. Sometimes where they don’t exist.

In bed that night I was having a hard time falling asleep. Lying on my side, I watched the unit in my bedroom flashing like the hallway unit had earlier in the day. In the darkened house, I noticed that once the bedroom unit quit flashing the hall unit flashed four times and then stopped. For the next two hours it went on: the networked units were tracking me.

I didn’t dare use the computer downstairs to research this, so I went to the public library the following morning to research the issue. Others had suspected the same thing, but the company denied any motion sensing in the detectors. Fine. Coincidence or not, it was strange. I’d been working too much and not sleeping well for weeks. Just needed to clear my head.

That night I was reading a book on my tablet when it happened. It was unsettling, but I couldn’t be sure it wasn’t my imagination. The tablet scrolled “living room” across the spot where my email messages and instant messaging notified me of changes. I checked all the applications and could find no new messages. I’d never enabled gps on the device so it seemed very unlikely that was the issue. At that moment the camera clicked itself on for a moment and I saw the smoke detector rapidly blink until the camera shut off.

Powering down the tablet, I reached for my phone and did the same. The television was following me now, the picture on the screen was coming from my laptop in the other room. I dashed over and slammed the lid. This was off the rails. Returning to the living room the smart-tv was now running a line of script along the bottom with my location, thoughts, and body temperature.

It was targeting data. Drone? Sniper? I couldn’t take the risk. I reached into the pile of blankets next to the couch and brought out my 9 mm. One shot for every enabled device in the house. I ran from room to room, full tactical. The poor dog was in agony from the noise and I barely heard the cops bust in the front door, moments after I’d taken out that demon in the spare bedroom.

They were pretty good. Tased me from behind and cuffed me up before I could turn on them.

It’s quiet here. The nurses are pleasant enough and the food is actually good. No steak or chops, that would mean knives. But lots of pasta.

I just wish that soda machine outside my door wasn’t watching me all the time.

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Just to see if anyone reads this far, I’m having an operation today. Your prayers are appreciated. I’ll be back later this week.

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