Guest Blog: 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…


If the five children in our family represented sensory organs, I would have been the ears. I loved everything about sound, every nuance, every tone. I found music especially fascinating, enchanted by any song from little ditties to the classic melodies of a grander nature. And speaking of nature, those were the sounds I liked best—the rustle of the wind in the trees, the rap of the rain on the roof, and the twittering of the birds on a sunny day. That’s how it used to be, anyway.

In addition to its ears, I was the family “oops.” I was the reason my parents had married when my mother was only sixteen. This was also why a great gap in age—eight years—existed between me and the next oldest of my siblings.

Mikey was the eyes of our five. He hadn’t come along until my parents were ready for him. No “oops” there. Same with Abigail, three years after him, and Peter, three years after her. Lizzie, while an after-thought, had been planned as well.

I was just about to start university when the youngest of our passel made an appearance. Mom had said no more kids after thirty-five, so I’m guessing Lizzie was her swan song before she hit that mark. Lizzie was all about touch, grabby little hands that had to finger everything she saw. She didn’t have to put everything in her mouth like most babies, but she insisted on knowing how it felt.

The strangeness leading up to my family’s unhappiest incident started when I came home to visit my second summer after leaving for school. I was studying to become an audiologist. Lizzie, two and a half, wouldn’t leave me alone at first. After mauling my luggage, she latched onto me. As annoying as it was having toddler fingers entangled in my hair and sticky hands pressed against my face, she was irresistibly cute. I tolerated her explorations until my novelty wore off for her, then she wandered away in search of something different to manhandle.

Used to rising early for my classes, I was the first up the morning after my homecoming. I awoke to sunlight on my face and decided to stroll the old neighbourhood before breakfast, taking in familiar sights and, better yet, sounds. Everything was as I remembered it until a lilting birdsong from a simple sparrow caught my attention. It started out right, the expected trilling twitter, but it rolled out into an ending that was just off.

I might have shrugged it away if it were not a sound I had listened to more than a thousand times before. Not that the song was discordant, but when you are waiting for a well-known ending to a familiar beginning and it doesn’t come, it just doesn’t sit right. Suddenly, you are on the lookout for everything else a little out of place, or comparing it to the things you knew did fit.

Rather than returning home refreshed and relaxed from my walk, I arrived on edge. I had played witness to that faulty birdsong several more times along the way and the wrongness of it had tweaked my anxiety level with every repetition. I wasn’t sure why it had bothered me so much, but it did. I mentioned it to Mikey over cereal. He gave me a funny look.

“Are you sure it’s the same kind of bird? Maybe you have them mixed up. Maybe it’s something almost the same that’s not normally found around here.”

“When have you ever known me to confuse sounds? I can describe every bird out there based on its song. You know that. I wish I hadn’t noticed it because it’s silly to obsess over something so insignificant, but the song keeps playing back over and over again in my head. It’s like listening to a Beatles tune and having it switch to something by Peter Gabriel just before the fade out. I’d definitely recognize the song from the start and know that’s not the way it’s supposed to end.”

Putting it like that made it a little easier for Mikey to understand, but I’m sure I could have convinced him if I could have explained it in visual terms. He shrugged it away, and I tried to do the same, but the uneasiness lingered.

Dad decided to barbecue for lunch that day. The entire family sat on the back deck, eating our slightly charred burgers when I heard the errant bird again. I gave Mikey a nudge and gestured toward the sound.

“There. That’s the one. Do you hear it? It’s strange enough to make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Not so far off that it sounds entirely out of place. Just enough to be irritating and sort of scary.”

Mikey couldn’t tell the difference. It was too subtle for him. He shook his head but squinted in the direction I pointed. He hesitated, not in response to the odd song, but rather to something he spotted there. His brow creased.

 “You’re right. There’s something wrong with that bird. Its eyes don’t look right and the way it moves… Let’s get closer. I need a better look.” He grabbed my arm with a firm grip. He wasn’t as strong as our father, but he was athletic enough that it hurt.

We slid out of our plastic chairs and sauntered toward the tree where the bird perched. Even with us moving slowly, it still noticed our approach and flew off before we got close.

“Did you see anything else?” I asked my younger brother.

He glanced back at me, his freckled face pale and his hazel eyes frightened.

“Its eyes looked like tiny camera lenses. It was too stiff for a regular bird, too. Not quite as bad as a mechanical toy, but it reminded me a little of one. Maybe it’s one of those drone things. They talk about them all the time on the news and the Internet.”









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