Author : Morrow Brady

Like unfolding origami, my plan emerged making me swiftly forget what disappointed me in the first place. Then it came back.

The glowing gold logo of my local planning department told me this email was pre-approved permission for my neighbour to NanoBuild anything he wanted. I cringed as I looked over the drawings. He was building in the Chevall style.

When the architecture business I once worked in became marginalised by the contractor led building industry, architects countered by equipping themselves with technological tools. Providing services like Virtual3D modelling and immersive walkthroughs gave us comfort that we still had control. When Artificial Intelligence became commercially viable, we jumped at it. Preprogrammed units came loaded with every known architectural style. From the symmetrical elegance of Georgian and spirituality of Gothic to the clean modern lines of Modernism and sustainability of Biological Parametricism. A.I. however proved to be a better Architect than any of us and when it perfected nanotechnology, the Contractor joined us in the unemployment lines. No site safety issues, sick leave or wet weather days. NanoBots were the builder’s builder.

From my kitchen window, I imagined what my neighbour’s finished house might look like. Chevall style was anorexic minimalism. A house made only of structural smart glass panels, each mechanically articulated to pivot, tilt and slide. Limitations both in structure and waterproofing meant every Chevall house always ended up looking like a mirrored armadillo.

Without architectural work, I scratched a living freelance coding and it was my black market connections that enabled me to recode my own NanoBot factory to put my plan into action. Hiding the shoebox sized factory within my eave facing the boundary, I lured stray NanoBots from the neighbouring site and replaced them unnoticed with my own home grown variety.

I watched the DemoBots deconstruct the brick and tile bungalow over a fortnight. It seemed to evaporate and then reappear elsewhere as multi-coloured piles of raw materials. As earth began to appear below the vanishing slab, crystalline shards would began to rise up from coral growth foundations. By the time demolition was complete, I had replaced the 10 million NanoBot work crew with my own army.

Nearing completion, the central dome rose like a transparent chrome sea sponge supported on glistening spider web filigree. I could look through the roof inside to the all-glass furniture and walls shimmering mirage-like with NanoBot activity. I thought of a jewellery box full of silver and diamonds.

After a couple of months, partially blinded by the reflection, I saw my satisfied neighbour had settled back into his deflated mirror ball. The NanoBots had finished the job properly and made the ultimate sacrifice, unmaking themselves to become a permanent part of the building itself.

I waited patiently for winter.

It started slowly at first around 4am but grew to sound like a ball bearing hail shower on a tin roof. With the right combination of temperature, air pressure and humidity, the molecular level weaknesses in the crystalline bonds that my NanoBots introduced had succeeded. Mirrored tortoiseshell separated, collapsed and disintegrated, instantly turning to white snow. My neighbour emerged as a snowman from a white sand dune, shaking himself clean.

When the State completed their investigations, they decided sound frequency resonance from the natural underground cave system directly below the house was to blame.

No-one made the connection between the cave volume and the volume of raw materials needed to build my new games room.


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