HorrorAddicts.net Press presents…Kill Switch
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…
A loudspeaker called Enid’s name. She stood in the waiting room, unsure if she would be hired or fired. To the other old folks waiting in the lounge of the Grandparent Experience, she wanted to look confident, so she headed to Mr. Lick’s office swinging her arms and taking long strides.
Entering Mr. Lick’s office she relaxed into a slump. He sat behind the desk and gestured toward a chair. As she sat, he rummaged in a file. He looked fit. She put his age at thirty-five or so, twenty years at least before he’d have to worry about retirement.
“Enid,” he said, and she drew in a breath, fearing his next words would release her from the Grandparent Experience and the limited protection it gave her. “Here is your next job.”
Enid sighed with relief. Not only was she not being fired, she had a job, an assignment. Her last evaluation had been poor, very poor. Her only defense had been that when playing “Happy Grandma” she’d taken it a little too far. Everyone knew “Happy Grandmas” sometimes drank. She hadn’t worked since then.
He handed her a battered folder labeled “Pearson.” Repressing a display of mawkish gratitude, she opened the folder. The photo showed a red-haired woman in her late thirties.
“That’s Tina Fisher. Tina has hired you to be the mother she never knew.”
“I’ve never played a mother,” Enid said. “Or been one.” Usually, Enid played her role for little brats whose parents wanted a reasonable facsimile of their vanished grandmother.
“She wants you for an afternoon. It’s some sort of family thing, a reunion. I’m sure you’ll do fine.”
Enid read the dossier on May Pearson, the woman she was to impersonate. Six months ago, the police spotted May walking at night using a cane. An ID check showed she was two years over legal age. Her subsequent objection to her arrest and her disorientation indicated as the report stated, probable early-stage dementia, even though the malady tended to be over-diagnosed. The picture of May showed a woman with short-cropped gray hair, lipstick, and beads at the wrinkled base of her throat. May Pearson was classified Not to be Resurrected (NTBR) and she was needled.
Management said death by “needling” was a good death. The ampoule delivered a warm chemical wash bliss, “A way to die when the life had exhausted its use.”
“The daughter was raised an orphan,” Mr. Lick added. “You’ll fill in the gaps.”
Enid frowned. She supposed she could play some variation on the various grandmothers she recreated: “Foxy Grandma” who told dirty jokes, “Prude Grandmother” full of euphemisms for body parts and blushing at off-color remarks, “Bible-Quoting Grandmother” who knew her Ecclesiastes, “Wacky Grandma” whose speech was characterized by non sequiturs from early drug use, and lately there was “Happy Grandma” who had gotten her into trouble.
“She looked at our pictures and said you were the closest thing we had to the woman in the photograph. That’s about it. She wants to know about her father.”
“And so I’m supposed to tell her about a man I never knew?”
“Nothing says home like a grandmother,” he said. “That’s what we’re selling here.”
“But, I’m supposed to be a grandmother,” she objected. “Not a mother.”
“Do you want the job or not?”
It wasn’t right to refuse, so she didn’t. As he completed the paperwork, she settled back and looked at the picture on the wall behind him. It was a picture of Jack Carl, the founder of the GPE. His face was nearly obscured behind a hat pulled low, a thick beard, and sunglasses. “Nothing says home like a grandparent,” was printed below him.
“Apparently, she was a bit of a free-spirit in her youth,” Mr. Lick said, standing to show Enid out. “You might work with that.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“I know you will,” Mr. Lick said. She thought she heard a subtext in his voice, Don’t screw this up.
The next day, Enid waited in a frock coat, beads, and silver-rimmed glasses. She carried a wooden cane. It was the Traditional Grandma look, right out of the company’s manual.
Standing beside a small, neatly tended plot of grass and a white picket fence, she looked out over a gently-sloping valley with a freeway running through its middle, the concrete white as bone. In the old days, which she vaguely remembered, dripped oil had stained the lanes. Her first husband, Roger, had celebrated the spoor as the last remnant of the old technological civilization. He’d been a funny kind of person, an entrepreneur with a quaint nostalgia for old technologies and terminologies, and yet a merciless eye for the economic realities ahead.
Two young people passed, looking at her curiously. You didn’t see many old people. If not employed by the GPE, they tended to be reclusive, fearing the door knock of health professionals about to do a checkup. Enid was sixty-eight, three years past retirement, a nervous age. Last spring she’d caught the flu and had feared going to the hospital. She might’ve received the NTBR label if a prohibitively long treatment loomed, especially if the GPE withdrew her protected status. Fortunately, she recovered. Since then, her morning regiment included a plethora of pills designed to strengthen, immunize, and bolster.
Turning, she saw the Sycorax model car and heard the whoosh of its electric engine, a sound like wind through the pines. As the car neared, Enid touched her powdered hair, shifted her weight against the wrap-around back support that made her look stout and matronly, though indeed her back had begun to bother her of late. She approached the car as the window rolled down.
“May?” She recognized the girl, Tina Fisher, from the photo. Enid was supposed to be her long-lost mother.
“I’m May Pearson,” Enid said. Her smile was sponsored by the GPE, the polished implants almost a company logo.
& EMERIAN RICH
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, GARTH VON BUCHHOLZ