Charlie Brooker
The Guardian
July 7, 2008

I’ve got the opening scene of a dystopian thriller all worked out. It’s a hot summer night in a typical suburban flat. A young woman (let’s call her Alison) stands over the body of her boyfriend, who she’s just killed in a fit of madness. A crime of passion. She didn’t mean to do it, but gah – now look at the mess she’s made.

She’s quivering, gazing down at the body like someone staring into a hitherto undiscovered dimension filled with swirling nightmarish tapestries, still clutching the murder weapon in her dismal little fist, breathing through her nose like a cornered church mouse, and somewhere in the background the phone is ringing. Ringing, ringing, ringing. It takes her an age to notice. In a daze she answers it, her eyes still harpooned to the corpse. She presses the receiver to her ear and someone in a call centre greets her by name.

“Hello Alison,” says the voice, which – while friendly – sounds as though it’s reading from a card, for the 50,000th time. “I’m calling from OmniCorps Ltd, and according to our predictive software there’s a 97.8% chance you’ve just murdered your boyfriend. Now, we’re obligated to pass this information on to the authorities, which means the police are already on their way, but before they arrive we’d like to offer you the opportunity to take advantage of an exciting offer. So if you’d like to go to your window and look outside, our escape van should be arriving any moment…”

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