I woke up and a demonic metal brontosaurus was leaning over me, shrieking, and then murmuring in a woman’s voice. Behind her was Satan, in a long black cloak with glowing red eyes. I screamed and screamed. “Low battery” said the demon. What the fuck? “Low battery.” What– Satan was my coat, his eyes were the reflection of my alarm clock in the window. The dinosaur was my lamp. I must have taken my phone off vibrate, it was telling me to charge it. Weird, it had never done that before. I could hear the neighbors thumping upstairs, thinking I’d been gutted. Their dog was freaking out. I found the phone, turned it off. Started drifting off again. Dreamt I was on a boat in the ocean. Mona was there, her sun-warm skin, her belly. The wind. Sardines glimmering in the sunlight under the waves…
SCREEEEE!!!!!!!! The room was vibrating, an earthquake, the house was going to be swallowed up in the dirt. A robot was cutting open my insides, slashing me from my sternum to my crotch with a razor blade and my guts were flapping out like that gopher that got run over in my parking lot; I saw my liver. It was shiny. The robot cocked its head. “Low battery” it said. Like the woman that says “I’ll record your message after the tone.” The perfect 50’s school marm voice. It was my fucking lamp again. I need to move it away from the bed. What the fuck keeps telling me low battery, I thought I turned off the phone. Now there was only silence. Slowly, slowly drifting off now… the Chinese water torture of waiting for it to happen again… weird half-dreams about my old boss now, no more Mona on the boat…
SCREE!!!!!– there you are, you little fucker. It was the Kidde® Combo Smoke/ CO Alarm Model KN-COSM-IB that I’d disabled after it freaked out over some chicken being roasted at 350. “Low Battery.” I’ll show you a fucking low battery, you little bastard. I live at the top of a big hill; I walked out barefoot in my boxer briefs with my night boner sticking out like a gearshift in the moonlight. Ready to chuck it down to Sunset Blvd where it would roll all the way to Hollywood. Wait, no. Wait. You’re gonna have to pay for this if you break it. You are still half asleep, go back inside. Shuffling, asleep on my feet now, back in the apartment, maybe if I just push this button– SCREEEEEEEEEEE!!!! FIRE! FIRE! CARBON MONOXIDE!!!! and a fucking carnival of flashing LED lights like Close Encounters of the Third Motherfucking Kind in the heretofore peaceful darkness. FIRE! FIRE! Fuck! Smash it, smash it; where’s the hammer– no, no. You will have to pay, it probably costs eighteen hundred dollars for this fucking thing. Relax. It stopped. I threw it in the vegetable crisper and shut the fridge. Turned a bunch of fans on. I couldn’t hear the school marm voice anymore but every– not every hour, but some weird unpredictable interval, like every 43 minutes, the thing would let out a little shriek that clawed through the insulated steel walls and all that white noise and woke me up. I spent the night in this hellish half dream, not awake enough to know what was going on and get up but knowing there was something out there, waiting to get me if I slept. Finally woke up and went to get milk for my coffee and there she was, the cunt. “Low battery.”
You can’t figure out how to remove the battery from the Kidde® Combo Smoke/ CO Alarm Model KN-COSM-IB. You are standing there with your hands shaking terrified that it’s going to go off again and the battery’s trapped under two complicated plastic panels that look designed to shatter at the slightest pressure and force you to purchase expensive new ones by mail from the Kidde® Corporation. Finally I figured it out. Inside was a gold nine volt, another product of Kidde®. This thing spent several days plugged into a power source and then sat there doing nothing; the battery should NEVER run out. But there you have it. In the empty battery hole, huge road cone orange letters tell you: CAUTION: BATTERY HAS BEEN REMOVED. Like it’s the pin from a grenade.
CAUTION. FIRE. CARBON MONOXIDE. There is never fire or carbon monoxide. What if 99% of HIV tests came back positive no matter what. What if the nuclear missile defense went into Defcon One and the entire government was locked under Cheyenne mountain every time a fucking goose flew past the radar. My landlady was required by law to shell out dough and install these newfangled combination smoke and carbon dioxide detectors in every unit and the FIRST DAY, the FIRST MEAL I cooked the thing went off screaming FIRE. FIRE. FIRE. You can’t help but believe it at first. You’re conditioned to know that the ordinary wailing and bleeping of a smoke detector is just a fake pain in the ass, but this thing fucking talks. FIE-YUR with perfect authoritative drama school diction. We’re all gonna die!
I am going to die in a fire BECAUSE of this Kidde® Combo Smoke/ CO Alarm Model KN-COSM-IB. Because it is absolutely intolerable to live with and EVERYBODY who gets one besides the most paranoid school marms is just going to disable it and stuff it in a drawer. I’ll leave a cigarette cherry going on the porch and it’ll catch some leaves and I won’t know because the Kidde® Combo Smoke/ CO Alarm Model KN-COSM-IB was so god damn annoying crying wolf all the time and whining for batteries that I just killed it to get some sleep.
This is the flagship of smoke detector technology. But what they can’t do with it, because of every whiny priss and every bullshit safety regulation, is make one with some fucking nuance. Make one with fucking SETTINGS, like how you can turn down your fridge when your lemonade is getting frozen. Make a smoke detector for a guy who doesn’t want to be told it’s a flaming holocaust every time he makes a pork roast with shallots. You can’t do that. It wouldn’t be safe. Smoke detector has to be a hair trigger; you have to use condoms and foam and birth control pills; the DUI limit has to be two cans of fucking Tecate. The whole god damn planet has to adhere to the standards of that one mom who makes her kid bring his own Purell to school. Fuck it all. I choose the flames.
In conclusion: zero stars.