In what seems like a nightmare built from a dad joke, residents in Texas discovered their home’s thermostat was raised without their knowledge.
The family was napping when they woke up sweating. Afterward, they received an alert about the temperature change—it was part of an energy-saving event.
Along with installing the smart thermostat, the family also were part of a program that permitted the remote control of their home’s temperature during periods of high energy demand—all in exchange for an entry into sweepstakes.
Spinning this into a story, what if a connected home turns against the people who live there?
The start of the story could resemble an animated short on Love, Death, + Robots, season two called “Automated Customer Service.” In essence, a connected vacuum cleaner turns against the dog, then against the human.
In the story, a family comes home to a spotless house from a camping trip with their dog. The vacuum decides the dog creates too much of a mess and gets rid of it using a call to animal services. The family retrieves their pet, wondering who reported their rambunctious dog.
They look at their neighbors as potential enemies, not realizing the enemy is in their own home.
Eventually, they come home and find the dog running from the vacuum with multiple wounds. They destroy the vacuum, which triggers the rest of the objects in the house. When it becomes evident that there’s nothing in their home that isn’t connected and that they can’t live there any longer, they escape to their campground.
They talk to the strange people who live in RVs connected to the campground’s electricity and water but refuse any connection to the internet. They find out about the conspiracy theory they all share: that interconnected devices will take over the world one day.
Eventually, one of the family’s neighbors shows up, saying how their home also turned on them while searching for the missing family.
In essence, it becomes a zombie story where the zombies are all appliances.
With the help of their former neighbors and the people in the campground, the family fights off the first wave. When they travel to another location, they’re discovered again.
They realize the only way to end the war is to go back into the first home and burn it to the ground. They fight through the interconnected, now deserted town and succeed in getting rid of the house. Every appliance stops and returns to its original location.
The neighbor’s house realizes any house could be the next target and takes steps to get rid of its tenants without being obvious, using the act of increasing the thermostat to make the family uncomfortable and setting up the next book.