He looked at me petrified. It was probably his way of coming in terms with the ‘reality’. His eyes had lost the gleam of hope.
‘What do you mean only seven of us?’
His question was incredulous enough for me to sit up on my bed and look at him annoyingly.
‘It means we are the only ones left to lead this resistance.’ I told him in a matter-of-fact way.
He grunted disapprovingly and forced himself back to sleep.
It took me some moments to sympathize with him. Peter was not too ‘old’ to understand the ways of the new world. But, the reality stared back at him coldly.
Peter was more a son to me than my younger brother. I let out a sigh of exasperation at my helplessness and went back to sleep, hoping that there was some still left to my eyes.
Decades must have passed; probably centuries. We were aliens to the ‘outer world’. People there would not even be aware of a group that had distanced itself from technology. There were no more innovations. Technology had grown beyond the reach of mankind. In fact, it had become an undisputed master of human slaves.
People were the new smart devices now. There were no more gadgets to aid them in their daily chores; neither did they need any of them. Communication had ceased between humans and there was no place for emotions anymore. There were myriads of texts, symbols, numbers and graphic representations to replace and replicate human feelings. They were nothing but puppets in the hands of an unknown master known to the world only as The AI Orb. He designed their new world, created perfect thinking humans and gave rise to a perfectly organized society.
But there was also another side to the perfect society. Though we did not personally like imperfections, neither could we imagine a life akin to a Lego world. We prided ourselves to be called the ‘Seven Samurais’. We hated the machine rule and revolted against it in our own little but futile ways. Only a few associated with The AI Orb were aware of us and had made several attempts in the past to flush us out like gutter rats.
We were proud of our ancestors. In spite of severe attempts to corrupt them, they had fought against it and remained ‘pure’. It was all long, long ago. I read about their lives and struggles years ago. But, it has remained with me since then and I had vowed to stay pure just like them till my last breath.
I remember reading the Great Revolt against AI which was said to have happened many years ago. My forefathers had fought bravely against the regime of machines, successful to some extent but ultimately sacrificing their lives. The remaining few survivors had made it to this ‘base camp’ safely.
I had no idea how could they survive for a long time after that dreaded cataclysm. They were successful in raising an entire colony of rebels thus remaining inconspicuous for several decades. It was then that The AI Orb took over the reins of the apocalypse himself. He extracted out majority of our ancestors through manipulations and led them to the ‘outer world’. As the population of the ‘pure’ race began to diminish rapidly, the survivors changed their hideout. We, the remains of those survivors had taken great care to remain safe, yet spread the message of revolt amongst the converted mankind.
But, our battle was not just an external one. There were four younger ones like Peter who were partly curious about the ‘outer world’ people and their perfect society, and partly rebellious about their stinking life in their dark hideout. The remaining ‘elders’, including me had tough time convincing them about our ideals and a hope of our bright future.
Off late, Peter had become adamant about going out, even if it meant for a short time and even at the cost of risking his life. But, I could never let him go. I had promised Papa that I would take care of my little brother. But, I could not contain him or his curiosity for a long time.
The Next Day
I woke up when the warm, gleaming beams of sun seeped in through the tiny window and glowing directly on my face. As soon as I opened my eyes, I saw what appeared to be a colorful pamphlet that was pinned to the soft board on the wall. Getting up from my bed, I approached the wall, and training my still-sleepy eyes on the pamphlet.
WELCOME TO THE NEW WORLD!!
LIBERATE YOUR LIVES FROM TECHNOLOGY. BE THE TECHNOLOGY YOU WISH TO SEE.
JOIN THE REAL WORLD OF TOMORROW.
BE A PART OF THE FUTURE THAT PROMISES A NEW YOU.
BE THE BRAVE SOLDIERS OF THE AI ORB.
Sleep had deserted me in an instant. I was taken up by a sickening feeling of defeat.
‘It is all over’, I thought.
I raked my brain hard and thought of endless ways this pamphlet could have gotten into the hideout.
‘Are there any insiders?’ I questioned myself. The next moment I was ashamed of suspecting my own men. This thought instantly made me look out for Peter.
‘Where is he!?’
Bewildered and shocked, I began searching for my brother. There was no one I could seek. I had sent all my men to scavenge the possibilities of other hideouts and rebels in the proximity.
Seeing that there was no other way, I decided to search for him myself.
I was finally going to step into the ‘outer world’ for the first time.
The Outer World
It was even worse than I had thought. Everything looked standstill as if crafted out through machinery. People walked around lost in their own worlds – singly and in groups. Their eyes seemed to be focused on something that was apparent only to them. It appeared as though I was watching a silent movie. Individuals were making discreet hand signals to communicate, signals that seemed to convey ideas that transmitted between their brains. I shuddered at the thought of finding Peter among them.
I was lost in thoughts when a warm hand grasped my shoulder. Taken aback in an instant, I turned around only to find Peter. I let out a loud shrill of cheer and embraced my little brother warmly.
How happy I was to see him safe and sound!
But, there was something strange in the way he embraced me. His eyes stared at me coldly and there was a scorn in his smile. I shook him up violently and urged him to come back with me. His smile was still intact and he gave me a derisive sigh.
After What Seemed Like an Eternity
I do not have the slightest idea about my whereabouts after the rendezvous with my brother. When I opened my eyes, I was in a strange looking place. It seemed like a dormitory of a big hospital, entirely white. I woke up panicking, shouting Peter’s name and looked around. To my horror, I could not see a single soul around and not a sound was to be heard.
A shrill beep reverberated within me and I clasped my ears in horror. I shut my eyes tightly in an attempt to keep away the sound but it gradually began to subside. I was still catching my breath back that was slowing returning to normal when I heard Peter’s voice inside my brain.
‘Welcome to the new world, brother. We will soon bring our five brothers too.’ The voice ended with a warm laughter that made me hate my brother for the first time.
Finally, I was one among them. A tiny speck in the universe of The AI Orb.
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