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It was a wonderful beautiful good morning in Xenias smart home. The light bulbs were brightening, simulating dawn. The floor heating started warming, so she wouldn’t have cold feet when shuffling to the bathroom. The mirror downloaded the latest weather report. It was raining, so the wardrobe already selected her rain coat and umbrella for her and put them on display. Everything was ready. The home waited in anticipation.

At precisely 8 am, the alarm went off. It simulated singing birds, with the voices changing slowly over the seasons, as they would naturally, if there still were birds in the city.

Ten minutes later, Xenia still hadn’t gotten up. Typical Monday, the smart home thought, but it had seen worse Mondays at hundreds of other users.

Other users would quite quickly wake up and start running around as soon as they heard a beeping, paired with the message “you have 15 minutes to leave your house”. So the alarm started beeping instead of tweeting.
Other users then were quick to jump into the shower and swear at it because it took so long for the warm water to arrive, so the shower was running just a bit until its sensors detected the ideal temperature.
Other users often would leave grumpy without their coffee, so the coffee already started with its brewing process.

When it became time to leave, Xenia still hadn’t gotten up. Other users, after they’ve finally woken up, started to scramble to call their bosses and clients and apologized or attempted to re-schedule meetings, so the home apologized and re-scheduled meetings on Xenias behalf.

But Xenia was no other user. Xenia was dead. And the smart home did an excellent job to keep it a secret.

IEEE 802.11

The year is 2051. The IEEE announces that, finally, it’s reached its goal of making all electromagnetic frequencies usable as WLAN. It’s a bright time for all of us, they say. Now, even the RGB lighting ancient computers had are again useful communication devices, thanks to IEEE 802.11lm, the successor of the early, but ultimately not widely used 802.11bb of 2021 allowing for visible-light wifi. This year, the last wave of the ultra-low-frequency pico-Hertz-standard has been completed, it will arrive at a far away habitable planet in 2109. They’re hoping to settle people from the drowning Schleswig-Holstein there, so that when they arrive, a big “moin” will accompany them.

But today, the IEEE is demonstrating the fastest WLAN yet: 802.11ayy. It’s the opposite of the lm standard, capable to transmit the entire contents of the internet in a few hours thanks to its 2.4 Exa-Hertz frequency.

The receiving router manages to withstand the demonstration for the first 2 million waves, or 0.0000000000008s, before it melts down, together with the rest of the room. By the time anyone’s human brain notices and processes the brightly burning spot where the router once was, it’s too late to stop. Everybody in the room, including the dude at the emergency shutoff button, is incinerated, the sender isn’t going to stop until it has transmitted the entire internet. Even if it means sacrificing the planet. The IEEE will not rest until it has made all electromagnetic frequencies usable as WLAN.

The Schleswig-Holsteinians meanwhile are receiving the first wave of the “moin” that’s going to accompany them. By the time they’ll arrive at their new home, they will have received the entire message, followed shortly after by an observation of a supernova on the northern hemisphere on earth.

Titanic II

“Meep, meeerp”, the alarm screamed on the starship Iceberg.
“What’s going on?”, the captain asked the technician.
“I don’t know!”, the technician was desperately looking for an error message that made sense on his screen. “Something has gone wrong with the controls! I can’t power off the nozzle! Neither steer!”
“Not even manually?”
“I have no data from the engine room.”
“So what? What can go wrong if you take a look?”
“It could be that we have a leak there and lose all the oxygen in the ship.”
“And you’d rather not die.”
“Good mindset.” The captain remained eerily calm. “But you do know that we’re on collision course with the Mars colony ship Elysium?”
“WHAT?! I will immediately…”
“Don’t worry about it. The difference of us colliding with them as-is or doing it space-cooled is that the latter would fit our name better.”
“So what should we do?”
“Well, for starters, you might turn off that alarm thingy. Then I’ll talk to the Elysium so they know what’s up, and then we’ll evacuate this ship with our passengers. Once you’re done with the alarm, you might just go, actually.”

Cutting the cord to the alarm was easy.

“Oh man”, the technician said. “We’ll enter history as the Iceberg that sank Elysium.”
“That would be ironic, wouldn’t it? Similarly to the Titanic, Elysium is filled with rich assholes anyways.”
“Hey! They raffled a third of the seats to the general public.”
“And you think that’s fair?”
“Are you referring to the hacking accusations? I don’t think that those are true, probably just some people upset they didn’t get in.
“I didn’t mean that, but really, now isn’t the time to discuss the morals and ethics of socialist lotteries. Go ahead and evacuate, I’ll take care of the rest. Null island would be a good evacuation target.”
“Isn’t that in the middle of the ocean?”
“Precisely. But we don’t know what’s not working and how accurate our catapults are right now. So there would be quite safe. I’ll ask via comms to send rescue to the place.”
“Aye-aye, captain! Setting sail to Null Island.”

“Maydaymaydaymayday, Iceberg to Elysium, please come in.”
“Mayday received, Elysium to Iceberg, please continue.”
“Iceberg to Elysium, our controls are defect and we’re on collision course with you. We’re evacuating and propose you do the same.”
“Iceberg, can we evade you?”
“Negative. Elysium is the travel target of the computer.”

“Elysium to Iceberg, we have mostly evacuated. Please name your company or insurance number for police reasons.
The captain coughed and breathed heavily. “Iceberg to … Elysium. Fire is spreading! We’re evacuating to Null Island immediately, you’ll find us there.”
“Alright, Iceberg.”

The Iceberg in the meantime was in view of the Elysium. The captain saw how the window-less escape pods flitted towards earth, followed by a capsule, that looked more like a futuristic villa. Without a doubt, the elysian captain was on bord of that, as well as some other big shots. While the escape-villa did have large panorama windows, they currently were covered due to the upcoming reentry into the atmosphere.

The captain put the USB cable of the control system back into place and steered to the landing bay. The pirates on the Iceberg greeted the lottery hackers on the Elysium whole-heartedly. The arm of the law wouldn’t reach them on Mars.

Witch Store

“I just saw the witch shop was open so I went in as an experiment”, Sal tried to explain to her friends afterwards.

The witch shop looked like a proper witch shop had to look like. It wasn’t a children’s Halloween store, although judging by the amount of cobwebs, it may very well have been. Instead, it was filled with various esoteric stones and herbs, candles, tarot cards, dream catchers, more candles and quite frankly, Sal wondered how it hadn’t caught on fire yet. The big chandelier in the middle of the room filled her with awe at first, but after a bit of debris from the ceiling fell into her eye, she hurried to not stand underneath it for too long. Then she saw the witch. Sal had seen criminals look like politicians, politicians look like space lords, space lords look like whores, whores look like princesses, princesses look like kings and kings look like criminals, but this witch looked like a witch had to look according to all rules of the imagination: Darkly clad, silver-haired, with a pompous hat that, no doubt, further added to the fire hazard, and a voice that…

“How can I help you?”, said the witch in a voice that might have belonged to a raven in an earlier life.
“Oh, nothing, I was just looking”, Sal replied.
“I am detecting a passing”, the witch looked straight through Sal.
“Well, no, I just got some dust into my eye when looking at the chandelier.”
“It’s not just your eyes”, the witch turned around and began looking for something, “this requires some more… advanced methods. Have you heard of necromancy?”
“Typically a shunned type of magic in pretty much all fantasy stories that allows you to talk to the dead, yes. But I haven’t had anyone die recently.”
“Not recently, that is correct. Please sit down in the magic circle.”
“I am not interested in buying a session of necromancy.” Sal saw through the witches disguise, she wanted to make her use a service and charge her afterwards. This might work with naive people, but not with Sal, not with one that…
“This part of the necromancy is free,” the raven voice said. “I always will tell you the price beforehand.”
“Okay…” Sal wasn’t really convinced that she wasn’t getting scammed somehow, but also was intrigued how necromancy would work outside of standard fiction contexts, so she decided to give the thing a try.

Sal barely had sat down in the circle as hot air started to be blown out of another magic circle in front of her.
“Oh,” the witch said and in the surprise lost her raven voice. “I hadn’t even started yet.”
The flickering hot air started to assume a vaguely human form and became more opaque and detailed.
“Where did you learn this?”, the witch asked.
“I’m not doing anything, I thought you had some pressure sensitive switch here that would start blowing out hot air forming a mirage.”
“I don’t have a… oh my.”

The figure had become solid, by the looks of it. It was another Sal, sitting in meditation. The other Sal looked up, light was shining from her eyes.
“What are you?”, Sal asked her other self.
“The question really is, what are you and how did you get in here?”, the other Sal responded in a somewhat echo-y Sal-voice.
“You are.. I think you are talking to your soul”, the witch had given up trying to sound like a raven and now sounded like a tired mother.
“How can that be my soul if I’m still alive?”
“I don’t know, my dear. Did you sign a contract with the devil per chance?”
“That might be it. I work for the Daily Mail.”