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Euskal Idazleen Elkartea

Jon Mikel Arano Aramendi > Extracts

Narrative (short story and novel)

The End of the World in 2013 |

Future Memories Post Apocalypse

Imagine you're at work and that you can switch on the microwave oven by means of a single phone call; so, lunch will be ready by the time you get home. Or that you can wake up a little later every morning 'because the coffee has made itself. Amazing? Well, not really, you can do all these things nowadays, thanks to modern technology. A magazine article was entitled: "Domotica or home automation has joined forces with convenience and is on its way". The introduction was about the image the year 2000 brought to mind: Who has never thought that we would wear clothes the colour of metal or that our cars would be like those in science fiction films? We imagined our homes, too, completely transformed, and gradually that is what is happening.

The photo captions told us: "Intelligent electrical home appliances will immediately make the work of humans much easier, but they also have a use in risk prevention," and we were informed that we would be able to give the system orders and silly things like that by accessing a web page. I wasn't that surprised, either, because there wasn't such a big difference compared with what we thought when we were small: in our innocence we thought the slavery of military service would have disappeared by the time our turn came (but we were obliged to do it in the 1980s), or by the time we had grown up we would be able to eat a chicken in the form of a pill. On Mars.! And that was still aeons away in the year 2,000.!

I work for the civil service and for a long time now I've been issuing orders to my intelligent house from the computer in my office. It became something ordinary ages ago. Appliance management has been made possible by domotica or home automation for years now, and we had our home under control, because the system was capable of detecting fires, gas and water leaks and calling technicians in the event of any breakdowns.

In 2004 we built our New House. I am one of the Masters of the Universe and we filled the house with sensors and interactive equipment thanks to the Zisko Systems Internet company. The fridge, for instance, had a computer with a liquid crystal display in its door by means of which the shopping was done, or else we could see when the food inside had to be used by; from the computer I was able to water the garden when we were on holiday; or prepare the breakfast or heat up a pizza; I used to keep an eye on the house through the cameras fitted everywhere under the roof, I used to switch the heaters and lights on and off or the alarms when I was afraid there might be burglars; I also purchased the latest device: an intelligent frying plan, with a small screen attached that told us the temperature of the oil of the food and whether it was ready.

"Millennium Technologies" and the last word in everything!!! I've always been a Mr. State-of-the-art, and I've only lived for a wristwatch with built-in GPS, a digital camera, super pocket mobile and/or computer, cyberwalkman, creativity board, virtual systems everywhere and goodness knows what else. Just imagine it, I even realised that instead of being with my friends and relatives, I could keep their voices or smells in "emotion containers"! What an idiot, stupid know-all I was! And today I've paid the price of being "super progressive". What appeared to be cheap has cost us dear. We forgot the most basic things. It was what we deserved.

The strident voice of the alarm clock has repeated seven a.m., time to get up, as if it is afraid it might fail to wake anyone up. The house looks deserted. Eight slices of toast, eight fried eggs, sixteen slices of bacon, coffee and everything else have come out of the oven. The kitchen loudspeaker says: It's August 4th, 2013. It has reminded us that we are in Stubborn Country and has repeated all the day's data from the diary. The times continue to be given and then the orders off to work, off to school. But none of us takes any notice, no one goes down the corridors, no one has pressed the welcome button, the doors have neither opened nor closed. Outside a detector predicts rain. The blinds go up and down whenever a bird touches the facade. The garage doors have opened and the car has turned on its engine, but as there is no movement, it has turned itself off again. The eggs have congealed and the slices of toast and gone hard, the coffee has gone cold, and thinking they were crumbs a steel arm has thrown them into the sink instead of into the bin, and the plates have smashed against the glass door of the dishwasher. Afterwards mechanical rats made of rubber and metal have come out of the walls and have begun to clean the house. At ten o'clock the sun has come out after the rain. Our house (?) is the only one remaining in the city which has been reduced to rubble and dust. Little taps water the garden without any need and water comes in through the windows making the blackened walls wet. The frames of the photos of us, the two parents, and of the two children have smashed. The house is the altar of ten thousand bootlicker acolytes, but the new gods and the stupid rites insist on carrying on their own sweet way. The dog of the house has started howling, until he realises at least that he is alone in his world.

At midday lunch is ready on the table. It, too, has ended up in the same place as the breakfast. In the evening, after a chaotic afternoon, a branch falls off the tree beside the entrance to the house, breaks through a window and falls on the ceramic cooker and suddenly catches fire. Red lights come on and pumps sprinkle water from the ceiling. A voice says fire, fire! But by now it's too late, the flames have reached everywhere and the robots can't do a single thing against the "intelligent fire" that feeds on everything it can find. And in the night the house, which had all possible devices and many more, and all the voices slowly die. The clock, the music, videos, automatic lawn-mower, doors and windows have all gone mad. Thousands of things have happened, as if all the clocks in a jewellers' shop continuously chime almost simultaneously in a maniacal fit of madness. The cleaning rats carry on taking ash out of the house until the fire causes the building to explode. But before the last shower of fire, the oven has prepared a dinner of psychopathic proportions. In the end the house collapses. The attic falls onto the second floor which in turn collapses onto the ground floor. The upper one can reach the lower one through the mind and science. The fridge, armchairs, tape recorders, everything form an charnel house. The farmhouses lasted 500 years. Our intelligent house 9 years. By midnight a radioactive glow rises from the destroyed city that can be seen many kilometres away. And neither myself nor my loved ones nor anyone else is residing in this world. Automation and electro-mechanical p-arano-ia!

A donkey's head in the saucepan,
Legs and ears in the frying pan,
What a midnight feast
In our house at least!

Jon Arano the Martian-o (after-copyist).
2011 Euskal Idazleen Elkartea
Zemoria kalea 25 · 20013 Donostia (Gipuzkoa)
Tel.: 943 27 69 99 - Fax.: 943 27 72 88

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