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March 22, 2063
- Being Hunted
I'm writing this blog, one, to share my story, and two, to warn against the dangers of today's Internet of Things. I was one of those guys who would joke around with the concept of cybercrime all the time. I've since realized that cybercrime is a serious issue. I mean it, these are real people doing real damage.
It all started when I came home early from work one day. I was actually supposed to take the day off, but I had set the wrong date on my phone’s Calendar app. I only found out when my boss walked past my cubicle and reminded me that I wasn't supposed to be there. You may find it strange that vacation be mandatory at my job, but having employees working seven days a week all the time really hurts the company image. And no, we don't normally get weekends off. But it pays the bills, at least.
Anyway, I got to my house at around eight, parked my car backwards, just in case I felt like going out later that night, and went inside. I decided it was high time I had a nice dinner for a change. I took out some steak from the freezer, put it on the defroster for a few minutes, then turned on the oven and left it cooking. I threw myself onto the couch and powered up my TV. Of course, a full night off work meant this was the perfect opportunity to catch up on my favorite series "Being Hunted". However, when I opened my TV's Netflix app, I noticed something strange. The interface was a bit different, the Netflix logo was now on the left side, rather than centered, and it hadn’t logged me in automatically. I figured Netflix had auto-updated again (which reminds me, I need to write a strongly worded letter to Sony about their update policy), so I went to the login page, and tried logging in. “Username or password incorrect”, it said. After trying several different username and password combinations, I got the idea that this might be prompting me to log in to my home server. This was odd, I didn’t see any reason for a streaming app to need access to all of the house’s devices, but a multi-billion dollar company like Netflix couldn’t do any harm, right? So I put in the username and password to my home server, the usual “Welcome to Netflix” text appeared, and stayed there for a while. I waited for a few minutes, during which I tried to turn on the ceiling fan, but it didn’t work. I couldn’t even tilt it towards me, not remotely at least. I’d have to grab a ladder and tilt it by hand, but what’s the point if the fan won’t turn on? After another couple of minutes on the screen appeared: “We’re sorry, the service is not available at this time. We are hard at work attempting to resolve this issue. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Bored out of my wits, I decided to check my Facebook wall. Alas, I couldn’t do that either. Actually, I couldn’t do anything web-related. Twitter, Youtube, not even Google. I thought that I might have been disconnected from the Internet, but of course, that would’ve been extremely unlikely. I mean, this isn’t the year 2028. However, I went ahead and checked my home server’s status, just in case. As I suspected, I was offline.
I went to check on the stove. After all, I never trusted the auto-cook function, it’s always stopping prematurely. As I was walking toward the kitchen, I couldn’t help but notice the faint sound of the security camera on the wall turning. I looked toward it and saw that it was looking right back at me. Now this creeped me out. It’s programmed not to follow approved people, and of course I’m approved, I control the list. And even if it was just a fluke, I thought I had set it to a fixed position. I even checked its app, there it is: “Camera Position: Fixed” I even tried setting it to “Variable” and then back to “Fixed”, but it didn’t work. It just kept following my every move. I wanted to contact the manufacturer about it, but alas, I had no access to the Internet. I’d have to go to their offices if I wanted to get this issue resolved. And so I headed for the main entrance.
As I reached for the handle, the lock engaged, indicated by a little blue LED on the side of the handle. I tried unlocking it, but neither the app nor the manual lock switch worked. Something was definitely wrong. Then the window next to me closed shut. Lock engaged. Another one, lock. A third one, lock. A fourth, lock. One by one, all the windows closed on their own. I started heading to the room with the home server: I had to check this out. As I walked past the living room, I was stopped by the feeling of a strong draft on my back. “But all the windows are closed…” I thought. I looked back and saw the ceiling fan, pointed directly toward me, spinning out of control. A split-second later, it dislodged and hurled at me. Naturally, I moved out of the way, my head barely missing its metal blades. I felt my smartphone buzzing. I checked it, only to find the words “Got you now”, displayed on it.
Then an awful smell started to fill the air. It didn’t take long for me to realize what it was. “Gas leak.” I said. I remembered that I had left the stove on, so I started running away from the kitchen in anticipation. Behind me, I heard a loud “swoosh” as if a large fire had been started. I could feel the heat from the flames inching ever closer to me as I ran towards the bathroom. It’s metallic, air-tight door should be enough to hold back the flames, I thought.
I ran into the bathroom and I slammed the door shut. For a bit, I thought I was safe... until I heard the door lock itself. Not knowing what to expect, I just closed my eyes and waited. Seconds later, I heard the shower turn on. "Really?" I thought. "What are you gonna do, wash me to death?" I opened my eyes and saw the window close, and its lock engage, indicated by a blue LED on its side, then I started to realize where this was going. I pulled back the shower curtain to confirm my suspicions. It was worse than I thought. The water in the tub was not only rising, but piping hot. He didn't want to drown me, but to boil me.
It didn't take long for the water to start spilling on the ground. I leaped onto the toilet, then to the vanity, then to the shower curtain beam, desperately trying to get away from the rising water. The window was just out of reach. If I could just unscrew the beam, I could use stand in the vanity and use it to smash through the window. What I hadn’t noticed was that the vanity’s faucet had been turned on as well. When I tried to put my foot down on the vanity, I felt a sharp burning sensation on my foot, which made me jolt and lose my grip on the beam. Then, I fell into the water. It felt like being on fire, inside and out.
And I ended up here, at the hospital. I don't remember who brought me in, though. Apparently I came in with serious third-degree contact burns, and my lungs also took a hit. I've been here for a few weeks now, still far from recovered, but way better than when I came in. Police are still investigating my case, but so far, they haven't found anything that indicates that my home server was attacked. They do at least believe me, though. It's not the first time this sort of thing happens, far from it actually. I'm just glad this is all behind me. It is, however, scary to think that someone could've that to me. Still can, actually... Once I'm out of here, I'm gonna sell the house. I'm gonna buy one of those vintage 40-year-old homes, complete with old, offline appliances.
Won't be enough.
Okay, that just typed itself.
No, it didn't.
I can't even backspace anymore. Who are you? Why are you doing this?
Still want you gone.
I don't know who, or where, you are, but I survived you once.
Because I saved you.
I called the ambulance, death by boiling felt boring.
What in the... doesn't matter. You wanna try to kill me again? Good luck. You won't find me at my old place, but I guess you already knew that... He's taking a while to respond, maybe he gave up?
You're mine now.
The numbers on my EKG machine just changed to "DIE", and my IV is going down really fast. My veins feel like they're gonna explode. It hurts so much...
Hahaha. How's it feel, being hunted?
Written by Magdiel Marrero