This is a work of fiction, a short story of 800 words.
Quentin opened the box excitedly. Dan had explained how to do it all, so very soon, it was up and running. Everyone had a Miranda these days, or something like it, and Quentin had started to feel embarrassed about leaving it so long before catching the trend. It took some fiddling around to get it just right though. Dan had made it sound a lot easier than it was, that’s for sure. Once his appointments and favourite music were stored, he added the controls for the TV, and light switches. He would soon be a part of the digital world, just like all the others.
“Miranda, what’s the weather forecast?” He tried it out with something easy.
“Today’s weather is dry and cloudy, with a maximum of 18 degrees”.
Quentin smiled. He liked Miranda’s voice. Some of the others he had heard sounded like the voices that announced train departures, or the floors in a lift, but Miranda sounded all-too real, and had a smooth, sultry tone.
“Miranda, play the Red Hot Chili Peppers selection”.
“Playing Red Hot Chili Peppers Selection”.
As the music came through the speakers, he grinned again. So much easier than having to find a CD, put it in the tray, then use the remote.
“Miranda, add white wine and sparkling water to my shopping list”.
“White wine and sparkling water added to your shopping list” came the reply.
He rang Dan’s mobile, excited to hear his boyfriend’s voice. “It arrived this morning, and I have already got it going. I added things to the shopping list, and played some music, and asked about the weather too. The voice is so much better than your one, I tell you. it sounds just like a real person.”
It sounded like Dan was grinning as he replied.” OK, glad you are happy with it. I had better go now, bit busy here. See you tomorrow. Love you”. He hung up before Quentin had time to reply.
“Miranda turn on the bedroom light”
“Turning on the bedroom light”.
He smiled as he saw the light come on. Even though it was still daytime, it was good to know it worked.
“Miranda, turn off the bedroom light”.
“Turning off the bedroom light”.
Off it went.
“Miranda, set the oven to 200 degrees and turn it on”.
“Oven set to 200 degrees, and turned on”.
Quentin enjoyed a light lunch, then got ready to go into the studio. He would work for a few hours that afternoon, then perhaps join Carol and the others for a drink later.
Sitting in the bar laughing and joking, Quentin regaled them with the excellence of his new device. “I have it connected to everything. Oven, microwave, music, lights, even the fridge-freezer, I tell you, it’s just fab.” His colleagues grinned, wondering why he kept going on about something they had all owned for a long time now. But he was a popular guy, so nobody liked to burst his bubble.
It was dark by the time he got home, and as he entered the minimalist, trendy apartment, Quentin raised his voice.
“Miranda, turn on the living-room lights”.
“Turning on living-room lights”.
This was the life. Didn’t even have to throw a switch. Quentin checked his messages and emails, before deciding to turn in early. He was looking forward to spending the night with Dan tomorrow. He would show him just how good his Miranda was.
The music made him jump out of his skin. He recognised the song immediately, it was ‘Under The Bridge’.
Leaping out of bed, Quentin realised that the bedroom light was on. Rushing into the living room, he yelled above the deafening music.
“Miranda, turn off the music” Nothing.
Every light in the room was on, and he could hear the oven fan whirring. Walking across to the open plan kitchen, he slipped in a pool of water, which made him sit with a thump on the floor. The oven dial showed 500 degrees, and he could feel the heat from the glass door. A sudden ping made him jump, and the microwave started a second cycle, set to the maximum 30 minutes. The water was all over, coming from the electronically-dispensed tap on the door of the fridge-freezer. He got onto all fours, calling out again.
“Miranda, turn off the oven. Stop the music, and turn off the microwave and water dispenser too”.
Nothing. Maybe it was too much at one time. He moderated his tone.
“Miranda, turn off the music”.
“Miranda, turn off the oven”.
“Miranda, turn off the microwave”.
“Miranda, turn off the water dispenser”.
Could it handle four individual instructions, Quentin was wondering. And then the music stopped.
At last. Now for the rest.
“Miranda, turn off the oven”.
It took a long time to reply, as if thinking about it.