My Doorbell’s Special Feature

My Doorbell’s Special Feature


It’s called Omnimode. And I can’t get rid of it.

For those who don’t know, Ring is a Smart Doorbell that comes with a camera. Once attached, the device sends an alert to your phone anytime motion approaches fifteen feet of your home. We got one for our house in the suburbs. My wife was worried about the recent string of robberies nearby. It wasn’t a permanent solution. But, hell, I thought the extra layer of security would help.

I was wrong. The install alone was an absolute pain in the ass. After two hours of yelling, screaming, and checking online manuals; I finally had the damn stationed to the wall and connected to the power wire. It still refused to charge, so I called the company and complained. They agreed to send me a new one.

After that call, I left Ring on the wall and put it out of the mind.

The alerts started a week later.

The first one pinged my cell during a meeting. I tried to silence it by turning off notifications. Even still, fresh pings vibrated every few minutes. I checked them quickly and quietly while my boss glowered at me across the conference room. They all said the same thing.

Suspicious activity in your neighborhood!

Suspicious activity in your neighborhood!

I finally excused myself and went to the bathroom after the fourth or fifth notification. Luckily, the stalls were empty as I locked the door behind me and pulled open the app.

Immediately, I could see that the property on the video was not my own. A man approached the front door of a middle class home from the street. He wore a beanie cap, black jacket, and lazy grey sweatpants. The grizzled beard and moderate wrinkles suggested the culprit was somewhere in his mid forties. The resolution was foggy, and the time stamp read 2:15 in the morning.

The man knocked at the front door a few times.

He looked around the area suspiciously to see if anyone was listening. After a moment, he appeared satisfied. The man disappeared out of view of the camera and returned with a rock. He leaned back and smashed it against the glass.

There was no audio on the device, so it was impossible to tell if anyone heard him. The man looked around suspiciously again for a moment and waited. Then he reached a jacketed arm through the glass and unlocked the door from inside the house.

Then the lights turned on.

The burglar vaulted back down the steps in a somersault as a second man in a nightgown approached him from inside. He had a bat in his hands. The second man swung the metal around viciously in a dazed fury. The burglar cowered back at first and shielded his face from the blows. He fumbled around for something in his sock as he desperately tried to avoid being hit.

Then the burglar produced a pistol and fired it. The scuffle was over after that.

The man in the nightgown fell to the steps, spread-eagle. A growing pool of blood by his head suggested he was dead. The burglar gingerly stepped over his corpse and waltzed inside. Then the video cut out.

What the fuck.

I fumbled through the settings in a panic. The app’s home screen had something called OmniMode activated. Suddenly, I was no longer in control of my phone. The second notification maximized on its own as the video buffered lazily.

Shit.

I looked around to make sure the restroom was still empty. Luckily, it was. The next video had audio.

The scene opened with a snow-bound landscape. It was nighttime again. Or early morning, I guess. The time was 4:15. A man in a postal service uniform stepped over a snow bank as he came into focus.

There was a long ax hidden behind his back.

I started to mutter no, no, no, to myself just as another pair of feet entered the bathroom.

Matt, you in here? Your part of the presentation is up.

The video on my phone continued to play. A woman’s voice answered the door groggily. She appeared to be wiping sleep out of her eyes as she mumbled her line.

Delivery? This early?

The intruder pulled the ax from behind his back with surprising speed. The woman had one moment to offer an

Oh,

Before it struck into her skull with a sickening schwap sound.

Matt? The hell you watching in there?

I tried to minimize the app. To mute it or shut it off or do something. But the video was determined to play until the end of the loop. Twenty more seconds.

The delivery man stared at the dead woman’s body curiously. He cocked his head to the left like a confused Golden retriever. He tried to pull the ax out of her skull. But, it was stuck in there good. After a few vicious rips, he offered a monotone shit, and gave up. Before he left, he looked towards the camera with dark eyes in muted surprise. Then he fled from the scene in a full sprint.

The video ended. No new notifications.

Matt, let’s go man, you feeling okay?

My boss was really starting to sound pissed. I took out the battery of my phone and exited the bathroom to greet him. I made up some excuse about my phone malfunctioning, and he bought it. None of the directors seemed to notice that I was sweating or stuttering. All of us code junkies are weird, anyway.

When I got home, my wife was in the kitchen making dinner. That was not something she normally did. We both worked full days, and some nights, in web development. So it was a really nice surprise that she had spent her few hours cooking.

She must have thought me unappreciative when I ripped our brand new doorbell off the wall and threw it in a drawer.

That thing is fucking cursed,” I told her in a frenzy.

What are you talking about? How can a doorbell be cursed? You’ve been reading too many of those stories again.

That made me mad. To prove her wrong, I pulled my phone from my pocket and reconnected the battery. As soon as the banner went away, the Ring app opened on it’s own.

See?! I did not do that.

You have notifications…” Em rolled her eyes at me and started to walk away as the latest alert opened.

I can’t stop them. They keep playing. I saw two people get killed in this fucking app today, Emily, please look at it.

That got her attention. We watched the next clip together.

It was our house this time.

The date was set to two days in the future. As always, it was dark. Our familiar land-gnome winked and spun in the lazy breeze of the evening. The time was sometime after midnight.

A pair of headlights approached from down the street.

What is this…” Em started.

The car parked in front of our property. Three guys exited in a hurry. They were dressed in black head to toe. The car’s headlights kicked off as one approached the front door and the other two headed to the backyard.

The man that approached our steps had a mask over his face. He was shorter than most people, but that was the only discernible fact. I can’t even guarantee that it was a man. Whomever it was peered into our windows nervously before looking towards the side of the house for confirmation.

The door opened and I was standing in the frame.

I don’t know how else to describe it. The video showed me, or at least, the back of me; in my boxers, half asleep, with a Louisville Slugger perched cautiously on my shoulder. I didn’t have time to swing it.

The masked individual produced a long knife from behind his back and stuck it in my gut. I fell forward like a sack of bricks. There were screams in the background. I heard Emily beg them to leave. I heard her cry for her life through the cackling audio. The video cut, and thank God, she was still standing by my side.

In real time, I threw the phone across the room.


We moved sometime after that. I refused to buy any more Smart technology. The case was reported to both Ring and the police and I became a self-proclaimed Luddite.

However, my wife is still required to keep a work phone. Last night, she got a new alert.

Suspicious activity in your neighborhood!

She doesn’t even have the app installed.