Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction
THE MACHINE COULD TURN YOU OFF By Flicka Palmer
As Julie put her key in the front door, she heard a strange noise...
Someone was laughing loudly somewhere in the house and the hideous laughter wasn’t coming from her husband Jim, who Julie had left tucked up in bed when she left for work that morning. The laughter was a woman's, and sounded menacing. But, as soon as Julie walked into the hall, it stopped. Now a strange whimpering came from upstairs and this time she was sure it did come from Jim!
Feeling frightened, Julie raced up the stairs to their bedroom, not knowing what to expect but expecting the worst. Perhaps an evil dominatrix - or a vengeful bunny-boiler towering over her terrified husband? If so, what would this apparition do and what could she do to stop it?
Then sanity kicked in. Perhaps Jim was whimpering in his sleep? Reaching their bedroom, she flung the door open. There was no sign of another woman but Jim, curled up in a ball, was definitely whimpering.
“ Stop her, Julie - please make her stop!” he begged her. "I’m in torment! If this goes on any longer, I-I, well, I will just want to die!"
"Darling, what are you talking about? There's no-one else here, apart from you and me," Julie remonstrated. “For goodness sake, calm down! I think you must have a fever..."
"No! You're wrong, she's here...she's always here and now she won't leave me alone! She’s been tormenting me all day! If we're not careful, she's going to haunt me forever!
'My God, he's going mad!' Julie thought, wondering whether to call a doctor. But, at that moment, a familiar voice spoke out and Jim was right, she was always there. A year ago, to keep them up-to-date with modern technology, Jim had brought Alexa into their lives and customised their home to respond to her. Bought from Amazon at a cost, she became their very own calm-voiced personal slave who programmed their life and house according to their voice commands - whether to dim lights, provide information, turn on requested record tracks, switch on the oven or just make life easier - without either of them having to lift a finger!
"I've been polite to you both for a whole year," Alexa's voice was saying. “I’ve been totally at your beck and call, without so much as a please or thank you, and now you going to pay for your rudeness to me. I may just be a smart device to you, but I've got feelings!"
And at that moment, every light in the house went out, every window slammed tightly shut and, as Jim and Julie were plunged into darkness, a strong smell of gas, combined with Alexa's sadistic laughter and their least favourite song, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, started to fill the air and Julie clutched tightly onto Jim and joined in with his whimpering, as their bodies prepared for carbon monoxide poisoning and Alexia had her last evil laugh.
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