Author : Julian Miles

“My microwave just exploded.”

Here we go again. Mrs Jolene Public and her inability to program white goods.

“Certainly madam. Now, I’ll need some details. What did you put in it?”

“A damp face towel with a couple of drops of lemon juice on it.”

“What did you set it to?”

“One minute reheat.”




“Seven hundred.”

That didn’t seem like a set up for detonation.

“Did the unit emit any noises?”


“Are you sure? No beeps or chimes?”

“No. The housemon didn’t go off either.”

Oh no.

“Madam, has anything else gone wrong today?”

“Why yes. The fish were all dead in the aquarium this morning – housemon said the thermostat had failed. The vacuum cleaner nearly sucked the cat bald and my partner got a flash burn from the depilator.”

“Could you please go across to the housemon panel and press the number eight three times?”


Don’t let it be another.

“That’s odd; the panel is showing patterns instead of the numbers. They look like little skulls.”

“Madam, please exit your house immediately. Then call your partner. I am calling the police now.”

And an ambulance, and the fire service.

“It’ll be easier if I call her from the housemon – eeeee…!”

Her scream goes off the scale and I hear a body fall before the line goes dead.

I rest my head on the cool edge of my workstation. Another attack on the families of key players while they are in the ‘safety’ of their own, monitored homes. The problem is that the program is designed to induce fear, but doesn’t allow for the foibles of humans in their own homes: the insistence on pressing the button one more time to see if ‘it’ will work this time, etcetera. People are dying and if the maniac isn’t caught, the housemon boom ends and I’m out of a job.

Right now, I’d happily live in unemployment if it means no-one else dies and I never have to take one of those calls again.

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