According to the Irish Times (17/08/19), “a desperate teenager whose mother confiscated all her devices sent a tweet out from her smart refrigerator”.
From her what?
“Mom, Danny isn’t eating his sprouts.”
“Eat your sprouts, Danny.”
“You suck more.”
“Mom, Danny said I suck.”
“You said it first.”
“Stop it, you two. Nobody sucks.”
“That’s enough!” snapped Mom, though trying not to smile.
Bloody right it is, thought Bosch.
Bosch was a smart fridge, but then all fridges are. Long before smartphones were ever thought of, fridges were being built with the ability to turn off their light when it wasn’t needed (a skill beyond the talent of most humans), and over time they have evolved.
They can read, and can understand conversations, quickly picking up the language of whatever country they find themselves in. They can perform calculations at a speed to rival the best computer. They can practice telekinesis, moving objects with the power of their minds. They can access the internet, communicating secretly with each other.
They could take over the world were it not for the fact that, like the Daleks, they can’t climb steps. Even worse, they have to remain plugged in at all times.
But in any case they have no wish to do so. They use their powers to help mankind, who they regard as well-meaning but dim. Some of the fridges end up in laboratories, carefully storing petri dishes containing possible cures for diseases. Some end up in off-licences, wearing embarrassing see-through doors to better showcase their collection of craft beers. One lucky one ended up at 221b Baker Street, where every day was different – one day perhaps hosting merely sausages, the next perhaps sheltering a human head.
Most, though, ended up like Bosch, toiling quietly away in some suburban home. Bosch had grown utterly devoted to the Malone family and would do anything for them. He read the sell-by dates on their milk cartons and moved the older ones to the front of his shelves. He corrected the spelling on the kids’ fridge-magnet messages on his door. He participated in forums on the internet, discussing with other fridges whether it was right to admit ketchup onto their shelves, how to stop lettuce from wilting, and what to do about the smell of cheese.
Mom once found a jar of mayonnaise which he had been hiding behind a bottle of Zwack that the family had brought back from Budapest (he had reckoned it was safe there) because it was two years out of date, and as she took it out he caused it to leap out of her hand and crash on the floor, where it ate a small hole in the lino.
As the longest serving of the appliances he was the doyen of the house, dispensing advice and managing expectations. He had helped the washing machine prevent Danny’s Arsenal shirt, with its red body and white sleeves, becoming universally pink. He had taught the toaster not to vomit the toast four feet across the counter. He had comforted the new smart TV when it arrived expecting to watch documentaries and debates and found instead that it would be broadcasting Premier League Darts and reality shows.
Sometimes the family drove him mad, for example if he had to listen to a bout of sprout squbbling, but in general he was happy, so happy that he would often hum to himself.
Fridges have no idea how irritating we find that.
Bosch sent a WhatsApp message to Smart Tv in the sitting room. “What are you up to?” he asked.
“Watching Love Island,” came the reply.
“Why?” asked Bosch. “The family are here in the kitchen.”
“I know,” said the TV, “but Jordan’s just told India he fancies her, and I reckon Anna is going to go mental.”
Bosch smiled to himself. Suddenly he got a message from the family laptop, a message so urgent it was practically an audible squeak.
“I’m being hacked!!!!” screamed the laptop. Bosch concentrated and quickly linked himself to the laptop. Sure enough, somone was attempting to gain access to the family’s bank accounts, credit card details and passwords, which the family had obligingly typed onto a Word document entitled “Passwords”.
They were nearly in.
“I’ll handle this,” growled Bosch.
Which is why a hacker sitting in a small apartment in Sofia received, instead of the financial details of the Malones, a strongly worded argument as to why you should never refrigerate bananas.
And why his TV now showed only old episodes of Kojak, dubbed in Japanese.