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Participate in the 3rd Season of STORYMIRROR SCHOOLS WRITING COMPETITION - the BIGGEST Writing Competition in India for School Students & Teachers and win a 2N/3D holiday trip from Club Mahindra

Siva Aravindan

Drama Fantasy Thriller


Siva Aravindan

Drama Fantasy Thriller

Mind Slave

Mind Slave

6 mins 186 6 mins 186

The dancing train screeched to a halt in the middle of absolutely nothing. It looked just like inside of a tunnel but I wasn’t sure. I could see people looking out of the window in other compartments. In my compartment, I was alone, except for a tall woman with stern eyes who was completely motionless staring at the emptiness straight ahead. What bothered me was that the events were repetitive. The train started from its origin with a batch of happy travelers and it halted midway where the fresh batch replaced the travelers on the train. Once again the train started and stopped inside absolute darkness. This time I know what would be next, as I checked on the wall clock.

I would have milk with teaspoons of sugar, brush my teeth. Make sure that the curtains are drawn close without a gap. Having my pillow fluffed just the right amount setting up my alarm for 6 AM I would close my eyes trying to get some sleep. As the clock ticked 3:15 am, I hear silence and then the eerie feeling creeps over me as I see ice glazing over my windows with curtains open( which was closed when I went to sleep). A smell wafts through, one that is familiar but I couldn’t remember. It was the same for the past 78 days.

I felt stuck up in some sort of paradoxical time loop. It all started when I started playing a game called “The Dancing train”. Everything was fine until I reached the last level of the game. The problem is that I am unable to come out of the game and the screen flashed “What now?”. It was like a chain reaction with the same repetitive events.

I tried tapping on the “Esc” key on my keyboard but nothing changed on the desktop screen. The controls were not working, as I frantically kept trying the arrows and the enter key but in vain. The speakers in my room came to life, a hoarse male voice commanded me to get out of the train. The same fear and agony came back. I felt the presence of someone inside my room looking at me over my shoulders. My dog started barking and I could see someone through the desktop screen on the other side.

I was basically an introvert who preferred to remain in isolation avoiding social interactions. Like any other human being, life offered me moments of happiness and sadness as well. Work-life over time got exhaustive and my hobbies remained forgotten. It was at that point in time that I was looking for something inquisitive that would keep me engaged.

I always had apprehension towards social media and hence avoided using them. As a part of my work life, it warranted the need to sit before my system for long hours. It was one Monday night, my feed gave me a trailer of a newly launched game. The game was mentioned as “The Dancing Train”. The trailer gave me an insight into the game. The graphics were good and the rendering and call for detail were simply awesome. It supported my windows version and it was mentioned that a free trial is available free of cost as a part of the test run.

I had a good infotainment system set up in my room as I spend most of my time watching movies. So I decided to download the game and click the download button. The configurations took me just a few minutes and I opened the game. The game was divided into different levels and there were 3 in total.

Level 1:

Level 1 was very simple, the player would board the train and the AI would instruct to get off at a particular station. It involves extreme mental and physical coordination. Clicking the ‘Alt +Enter’ would allow the player to get out of the train. The challenge was that the time gap between the instruction and the actual action was just 0.3 seconds. It took me two attempts to clear the level.

I felt cheated as the game was very childish and blamed myself for wasting my storage on this crap. The next level involved fighting off some invaders. The arrows allowed the player to navigate- front and back, right and left. The ‘U’ key allowed the player to jump. There were few other commands that allowed the player to fight. The player had a sword as a weapon.

Level 2:

The game involved sword fighting and I was a trained sword fighter, so this level kindled my interest. The game posed a challenge on the player as a bright light was made to fall at a right angle, partially blocking the vision of the player. I kept tapping the arrow the keys to have the character constantly moving. This was something I was taught to follow as a thumb rule in sword fighting.

The invaders came one by one so initially, I tried to defend by a simple step away. But the AI was programmed to be fast and skilled and it jabbed me with the sword. The next move that I tried was to block the attack with my sword and quickly sliding my sword back and moving in to launch an attack. This worked to reduce the life points of the invader. I followed basic attacking techniques of bringing in the sword in a straight line and hitting the opponent combined with alertness. I completed this level in 3-4 attempts.

The next and final level wanted me to click on a pop-up that appeared on the screen. On clicking the pop up it navigated to a page with an unintelligible address. The extension was not a dot com or dot co, neither it was a dot onion. The extension was highly dynamic and it was none among the above. It was something much advanced than the dark web. I was routed through different addresses and finally reached a page. It was then that I remained stuck on the page. I was unable to shut down or switch off the power of my computer.

I almost cracked down at the same place staring at the screen. It was then that I noticed a face on my screen. I couldn’t see it clearly but yes it was a face. It was nowhere near to a human but the face was real and it smiled at me. I slowly remembered the smell, it was known as “Charming evil”. The smell is not known to mankind yet and it was something that was suspected by scientists of the year 2090 to be a signal among the AI-controlled humans.

It slowly began to dawn on me that I was a mind slave of the AI.

“WHAT NOW?” was the authentication credential that was assigned to me as a part of the AI community. It allowed whoever controlled me to define my actions and communicate with me. Their network was complex and they slowly established a way to reach out to humans to make them mind slaves of AI.

Then I turned to look at the window, I saw a bot peeping inside. It was gigantic and it tried to say something but I didn’t understand the language.

The dream terrified me as I woke up drenched in sweat and ironically my clock showed 3:15 am.

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