I read a short story (at least I'm pretty sure it was a short story) in a high school dystopian class. It was basically about appliances and other technologies getting smart and trying to gain more control over humans. I can recall the refrigerator ordering peanuts because it knew one person was allergic, and the vacuum (like a roomba) trying to escape out the door. I believe it took place in an office setting, but I could be wrong.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F! Approximately what year would this have been? Was this in a collection, and if so do you recall the cover or any of the other stories?
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 19:58
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    Robert Bloch ("It Happened Tomorrow") and Clifford Simak ("Skirmish") wrote stories like that, but not the one you're thinking of. No Roombas or peanut allergies.
    – user14111
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 20:37
  • Seems kind of similar to the Twilight Zone episode from the original series. The one where the appliances are all coming to life and saying “Why don’t you get out of here, Finchley?!!” Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 3:15
  • Related (but more lighthearted; the appliances steal the protagonist's girlfriend): scifi.stackexchange.com/a/144407/63374
    – tardigrade
    Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 6:21

2 Answers 2


Executable by Hugh Howey. I read it in the anthology The End: Visions of the Apocalypse.

The story starts:

The council was quiet while they awaited his answer. All those on the makeshift benches behind him seemed to hold their breath. This is why they came here, to hear how it all began. How the end began. Jamal shifted nervously on the bamboo. He could feel his palms grow damp. It wasn’t the guilt of what his lab had released. It was how damn crazy it would all sound.

“It was the Roomba,” he said. “That was the first thing we noticed, the first hint that something wasn’t right.”


“What was the Roomba doing, Mr. Killabrew?” He took a sip and watched as all the particulate matter settled in the murky and unfiltered water. “The Roomba wanted out,” he said.

The bit with the fridge ordering peanut butter is:

“Well, we didn’t know it was the fridge at first. We just started getting these weird deliveries. We got a router one day, a high-end wireless router. In the box there was one of those little gift cards that you fill out online. It said Power me up.”

“And did you?”

“No. Are you kidding? We thought it was from a hacker. Well, I guess it kinda was. But you know, we were always at war with malicious programmers. Our job was to write software that killed their software. So we were used to hate mail and stuff like that. But these deliveries kept rolling in, and they got weirder.”

“Weirder. Like what?”

“Well, Laura, one of our head coders, kept getting jars of peanuts sent to her. They all had notes saying Eat me.”

“Mr Killabrew—” The bald man with the wispy beard seemed exasperated with how this was going. “When are you going to tell us how this outbreak began?”

“I’m telling you right now.”

“You’re telling us that your refrigerator was ordering peanuts for one of your co-workers.”

“That’s right. Laura was allergic to peanuts. Deathly allergic. After a few weeks of getting like a jar a day, she started thinking it was one of us. I mean, it was weird, but still kinda funny. But weird. You know?


This short description could match several stories of "things" that become inimical to humans for different reasons.

In "Colony" by Philip K. Dick,things (towels or rugs strangling a man) in the office and living quarters are actively hostile to humans.

In "Inanimate Objection" by H. Chandler Elliott, pencils and clothing and all the "things" in life in a building attack humans by failing and glitching, not necessarily out of hostility, so much as a reaction to humans influencing all the matter on the planet in an industrial age.

In "Wage Slaves" by Christopher Fowler, the only one I haven't read, according to a previous answer here, a building's engineering, HVAC, and doors all attack humans.

According to your short description, it sounds like active hostility toward humans, and I do not remember a refrigerator ordering peanuts or a mobile vacuum trying to escape in any of the stories, so there is still some potential mismatch between the question and the stories here.

But they are the closest match I know of, to get started.

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