Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

In Allendale, California, the fully automated house of the McClellan family continues as if humans still lived in it. It is the only house in the neighborhood, standing among ruins, the silhouettes of the atomic-flashed family still visible on the west wall. On August 4, 2026, the house proceeds with its usual routine: serving breakfast, then cleaning up afterwards, sprinkling the garden, cleaning. A stray dog sneaks in around noon, but it only wanders around before dying; the robotic cleaning mice quickly clean up its remnants. The children’s hour takes place at 4:30 PM, at 5 PM a bath is filled, and at 9 PM a poem is read aloud for the benefit of Mrs. McClellan. At 10 PM that night, the house begins to die: a falling tree falls through the kitchen window, starting a stove fire. The fire spreads through the house, setting off explosions. The next morning, all that’s left of the house and its routine is the voice repeating mechanically, “Today is August 5, 2026.”

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