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Man of the House

Pamela Ferguson enjoys writing science fiction stories and reading all genres apart from biographies. Scottish by birth, she now lives in the North East of England where the weather is slightly warmer and very much drier. This is her first appearance in Daily Science Fiction.

"Hello?" Maxim tapped his thumb on the keyboard, "Hi, can I be put through to customer service?" he shivered--without power the temperature had dropped ten degrees. He couldn't even boil the kettle for a cup of coffee or make breakfast for the children. Oh crap, they are going to go nuts when the batteries drain on their tablets. Maxim checked his own phone, 76%. That should last him a while.
"Hello, yes my power is out." He waited for the automated response.
As simply as possible, can you describe the problem?
"Our man is not producing any energy. There is no electricity to power the house. Nothing works."
Are you with the man now?
Maxim walked from the kitchen to the room where they kept their man. It was a very cold room, as there was no heating in there, or light, Maxim could feel the concrete floor through his slippers.
He picked up the torch from the man's bedside. Their man was very still.
"I am now," said Maxim
Do you see any movement?
"None at all. Usually you can see the chest rise."
OK. Please now check around the man for any leaks?
Maxim felt around the length of his body; everything was dry. But then as he swung the torch from one hand to the other, he saw it, a red drip from his face.
"He has blood coming from his nose."
It is most likely that your man has died. Was he regularly maintained?
"Yes we have a tech that comes twice a week to clear the food and waste tubes." Maxim returned to the kitchen.
Ok. Did you purchase this man through ourselves?
"No, he was bequeathed to us." Maxim stood at the kitchen window, looking out onto the green lawn, "And he was very good, could produce 10 megawatts per hour. I don't know how we will manually run the devices. He was quite unique: he had a 87.5 terabyte brain. It ran everything."
Maxim looked at his phone, the automated voice was now female.
Do you have any spares in storage?
I know a brand new one would seem expensive. However the benefits are priceless. They are young, reliable, and will last 70 to 75 years. Brilliant inheritance present if you don't intend donating yourself.
We can get a new one to you in one hour, two hours, three hours, four hours--
"One hour, please."
Maxim hung up the phone and sighed. He dialed his wife, but she didn't answer so he left a message. "Hello, baby. I have some bad news. Your grandfather has died."
The End
This story was first published on Monday, October 17th, 2016

Author Comments

For this piece I was inspired by a family conversation in the car on a trip to the seaside. It stemmed from the mix of teenage babble, a certain Keanu Reeves film, and the sight of the great wind farms out at sea. After a while, staring out of the window, I got to thinking about objectifying. In recent years, objectifying has become highlighted in the media and people challenge the objectified view. But in this story I wanted to explore it further to see where it would ultimately take me.

- Pamela Ferguson
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