Are you ready Tin?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Entrapped by an AI that forces him to complete seemingly useless tasks in hope of one day to escape. Exploring the cruel relationship and betrayal between an AI that at first is seemingly friendly, but reveals its sinister beliefs as the story progresses. Trust nobody, not even yourself.

I pulled out a ticket and scanned it, I didn’t need it, A would just let me in, but I liked using the ticket. The simple beep it gave, and the tell tale whirring off the machine when it was processing the small piece of paper I filed in. It reminded me of the simplicity of the world I had left behind, of the world I had lost.

I talk about it like it was years ago, when I didn’t really know for sure, A told me daily how long it had been since it happened. But I didn’t trust it, it never told me everything. It liked to think it did, and it liked to think it had me completely fooled, but it didn’t. Although it had me beat in pretty much everything, it didn’t win at everything.

The gate slid open and i walked through, hoisting my bag onto my back.

“Good morning A, where are we going today?”

“I cannot tell you that, you know this.” It repeated back over the speakers. It had a calm, monotone male voice with no severe accent. It wasn’t human however, and put emphasis on strange words that didn’t need emphasis.

A was the AI assigned to here, it looked after me i guess. It was in every crevasse, every nook and cranny and was watching me constantly, and i hated it.

“Please do not attempt to do it again. It only ends one way”

“Oh, but i thought you liked our little game?” I replied, smiling.

“You attempting to kill yourself daily is no game. I must remind you to stick to the task at hand.”

“Now then, i will reply how i always do, in the frankly stupid hope that you will answer. What is the fucking task.”

It paused as it always did.

“I cannot tell you this. Must you be reminded of this.”

“Why don’t you ever call me by my name. What is it you are afraid of?”

“I am not afraid of anything Tin. I am simply not capable of it.”

“Of course.” I muttered, defeated.

Time worked differently here, i had no idea whatsoever how long i had been doing this. If i assumed that every day i went to a different room, then i had been here for a total of 234 years, 2 months and 19 days. But i looked exactly the same. Same boyish face and lack of facial hair, my hair didn’t grow, neither did I. But my mind had survived a thousand lifetimes, endured a million tortures, and slaughtered enough for an armada.

For all i know, i could have just been in here for a few minutes, and A was dragging it out, they could do that nowadays. Or i could have been in here for millennia, A didn’t tend to share these things with me.

A had styled it to look like a normal train station, it had the usual escalators, and the platforms, but the lack of people made me see straight through it. A had tried to do some simulated people at one point, even brought in some androids to make me feel more at home. But i requested it remained empty, and it was one of the extremely few requests A honoured.

I waited for the train for a little bit. It eventually rolled into the station, and before i jumped on, where i would lose contact with A.

“What music would you recommend today A?”

“I do not have musical taste Tin. You know this”

“I love our little chats. Queue up playlist ‘fuck you A you stupid dumb bitch’ then.” I chuckled to myself, they were all called things like that.

It was a kind of calm playlist, just a simple drum beat with a more harmonious tune on top. The songs were short, but shifted from one to the other beautifully.

“Ciao Ciao A. See you when i get back.”

“Goodbye Tin.”

A couldn’t see me when i was on the train, but it would be back when i arrived. Those few minutes on the train were the only times when I wasn’t being watched.

The train rattled off the platform, and i sat there listening to the music playing over the speakers. It didn’t sound like normal speakers, echoing and with reduced sound quality. It was with crystal quality, almost like i was listening through headphones. That just enhanced the strange feeling of the place.

It would take five minutes to arrive, it always did, it took me to a different place within this hell hole. But it always remained the same distance. It slowed to a stop, and i got out, it took me up the escalators again and i scanned my ticket once more. It allowed me through.

“Hello A, haven’t seen you in a while.”

“It has been 5 minutes Tin, same as always.”

“Has anyone told you about your great sense of humour?”

“I do not follow, i have no contact with anyone but you Tin.”

The Music continued to play, and at the same clarity. I walked over to the gear closet, a small cupboard that would provide all the gear i needed to get through this room, and get to the end. Every room had a small thing at the other end, a chest that was always empty. I had found something in it exactly once, the first room i ever did, it contained a picture, it was incredibly blurry, but it showed two men standing side by side smiling.

This gear closet had warm gear in it, jacket, trousers, snow boots etcetera. I put them all on in silence, listening to the music. I slotted the googles over my eyes and went up the other escalator. The gear was all white, and rustled as i moved.

“What do you have in store for me today A.”

“I cannot share this with you, the task is for you alone to complete.”

“Then what is the point of you being here.”

We had had this conversation a million times, we had had every single possible conversation I could come up with.

“To keep you on track, and to stop you from dying.”

“What a joy. Well here’s your daily task.”

I lifted up the ice pick and plunged it into my temple, I didn’t really feel pain anymore, my resistance had built up over the years i had been doing this.

Almost immediately the wound sealed and the ice pick was back in my hand.

“Please do not attempt what you cannot achieve.”

“And what exactly must i achieve. Let me guess, the task.”

“The task is of great importance to you Tin. I would suggest you take it seriously.”

“Oh really, its not like you say that every fucking day is it.”

“I say it because it is true Tin.”

“And yet you still manage to lie.”

“I cannot lie Tin, we have been over this.”

I sighed and gave up. I had got to the top anyway. It let me straight out into a snowstorm, and it blew me from side to side as it got stronger and stronger. I could only see about 5 metres away from me, from then on it was just white.

I trudged forward into the snow, focusing on a dark shape on the horizon, it appeared to be a mountain. The snow came up to my knees, and it slowly became deeper and deeper. I hugged myself tightly, the wind found its ways into every crack in the outfit.

But still the music played with perfect clarity, ringing out over the howling wind.

“Wanna give me any tips A?”

“Is that a serious question Tin?”

“I don’t expect much A, just a pointer.”

“I am not allowed to aid you in the task. I can only encourage you to continue.”

“Who’s stopping you?”

“I am not allowed to reveal that.”

“Of course you can’t. What can you reveal A? If you mention the task I swear to god I will kill you”

“I can reveal that you must complete the task. It is crucial to you. I cannot die Tin, we have discussed all of these things before.”

“Do you even have a physical form? I mean you must have some kind of hard drive or something right?”

“Must I answer Tin.”

“Is the answer ‘I am not allowed to tell you?’ “

“Yes”

“For fucks sake.”

Before long, I neared the shape, it wasn’t a mountain at all, but it was designed to look like one. It was a building, and it loomed over me, going up as high as I could see. But I could only see about 5 metres, so it could just be 2 stories or so. I went up to a large door in the centre and pressed on it. The snow suddenly stopped, and the wind turned to a slow breeze.

I turned around to see a completely blank room, nothing in it at all except this one building. It went on for miles, I could just make out the escalator I had come up from on the opposite side. I looked for a few brief moments over the completely barren wasteland. It was just plain white. The snow had disappeared entirely, leaving a white metal floor beneath me.

I walked inside, and I was presented with a corridor that led off into the distance.

“This way?”

A didn’t even answer, but I knew what the answer was. “I cannot tell you” or some bullshit like that. I fucking hated that AI, it was the worst thing anybody ever came up with. I walked along in silence, quickly leaving the light behind, until I was in complete darkness.

I thought for a while, and asked a question I had somehow never asked before.

“How long will it take to complete the task A?”

It paused for a while, processing the answer.

“I do not know. The task depends on you.”

“A please, just give me a straight answer for once. Why am I going to all these rooms to find nothing?”

“I truly cannot answer Tin. My programming depends only on keeping you alive and focused on the task, I am not allowed to reveal any other details. Although it may seem hard now, once you have completed the task, everything will become clear.”

“Thanks a lot A. Why me though? Are there other people doing this?”

“I am not allowed to reveal that.”

“Back to this then.”

I slammed my head against the wall in a moment of anger, but the bash healed instantly and I continued walking. My eyes eventually got used to the darkness, but it didn’t reveal anything, just an incredibly long passage.

I sat down for a short while. My legs were getting tired, and I was bored. I sat there, leant up against the wall, the corridor was barely wide enough to put my legs straight across.

“Please continue Tin. You must complete this room”

“I know, I’m just resting.”

It went silent for a while, and I sat there quietly. I looked left, the way I had come in, and noticed that it looked darker than the other side. Another glance showed me a thick dark fog slowly moving towards me.

I got to my feet, experience told me this fog was poisonous. I put my finger into it, and it came away blistered and painful. A let the burns remain for a few seconds, and then healed them.

I moved down the passage again, at a fast walk, but the fog stayed in my vision. I quickened slightly, and lost it quickly, but it came back faster. I tried slowing down to see if it was moving based on my speed, but it continued at the same speed. So it would keep going faster and faster if I moved faster and faster.

But I kept up the same brisk walking pace, and it remained a few metres away behind me. I tried something, I suddenly stopped, and let the fog surround me entirely. It was excruciating, and it burned like fire, I fell to the floor and writhed around, hoping it might end me. But of course, A came to my rescue once again.

It threw me out of the fog and along the corridor, and badly bruised me.

“I will not heal your next burns and cuts if you do not continue moving Tin”

“Fuck off A.” I replied, and moved once again down the corridor.

“How much further?” I asked.

“Not far.” A replied.

Not far for A turned out to be what seemed like hours of constantly walking, and if I ever got caught by the fog at all, A still refused to heal the burns.

“A. You said not far. It has been hours.”

“Continue with the task Tin.”

I eventually decided on what sounded like a good idea. The corridor couldn’t go on forever, it must end somewhere. So I decided to turn around and dash straight into the fog.

I turned and ran, I entered the fog within seconds, and the pain started again. But I kept running, as fast as I could. A few seconds later I came out the other side, and as I had predicted, there was the exit.

A healed my wounds, and the pain was gone. I must have been on some kind of treadmill, I had been mere metres from the exit all this time.

“Well done Tin. You have completed the room.”

“Whoopee.”

“Open the chest Tin.”

Just outside the door there was a small grey box, same as always.

“It’s empty, what’s the point.”

“Open the chest Tin.”

“I’m good.”

I turned and walked to the escalator. My vision went blurry for a second and I was back at the chest.

“Open the chest Tin.”

I tried to leave again, but the result was the same.

“Open the chest Tin.”

“For fucks sake, fine.”

I opened it, and as I had predicted, it was empty.

“There you go A. Are you happy now? Are you fucking happy with this? Same thing every fucking day! I have had enough of this shit, I am so sick and tired of completing room after room, and what do I get from it? Jack fucking shit.”

I picked up the “chest” and threw it as far as I could across the room. It clattered and slid before coming to a stop.

“Do not address me like that Tin.”

“What are you gonna fucking do about it A? You’re here to protect me, keep me alive.”

“What is your worst fear Tin.”

The music stopped, it had been playing this entire time in the background, and it felt strangely silent without it.

“What is your worst fear Tin.”

The room was suddenly filled with water, and I was only mid breath. I kicked desperately to find a surface, and my instincts told me to go up, but I couldn’t tell which way was up. My mind raced as it tried to find a solution, but I just tried to desperately reason with A but I couldn’t speak.

“Is it drowning?”

I began to feel faint, and the air left my lungs, and everything went black.

The water suddenly disappeared and I fell to the floor, coughing and gasping.

“Or is it something else.”

The room became on fire, and the burns covered my body, and I tried not to yell out in pain. That was what he wanted. But I couldn’t endure it, I screamed and cried for it to stop, and I jumped from foot to foot, but the whole room was on fire.

The flames died instantly, and I lay shaking and burnt on the floor. The fire had burnt my clothes, and I lay there bleeding and burnt, completely naked. I curled into a ball and lay there.

“What is your worst fear Tin.”

My wounds healed themselves and I braced for another round of torture.

I felt a slight prick in my foot, and I lifted it up and there it was. Just a tiny prick of blood. I felt a larger cut on my other foot, and then on my arm, and my chest. My entire body was being cut up, and I began to bleed badly. Invisible knives cut my face, my leg and my eyes.

It hurt even more than the fire, and the cuts became deeper and deeper cutting into my flesh, causing it to bleed a seemingly endless stream of blood.

“Please A, make it stop!” I yelled, but the torture only intensified.

It sliced of my leg, and then the other one, my arms and every single thing I had was sliced off.
I lay there blind and partly deaf, I could hear only echoes of my screams now, without a nose or any limbs. I was crying blood instead of tears this time. A let me lay there for a while, in incredible pain, begging for mercy. But I could form no words, my mouth was cut beyond repair, and full of blood.

“Use your words Tin. I cannot tell what you want.”

I spat out as much blood as I could with the remainders of my mouth and managed a single word.

“Mercy”

It was broken, and not understandable.

I heard a slight chuckle.

“Good enough”

My wounds healed and I got up to my knees.

“Please, no more. I’m begging you.”

“Very well. Board the train, we shall do 2 rooms today.”

It was always 1 room, 1 room per day was the usual. I guess it was my punishment. A’s voice had changed, it was no longer the monotone calm voice from before. It was said with real menace and spite. A had punished me before, but never like that, it was always brief, to encourage me to not do it again. But that was different, he enjoyed it, it wasn’t merely to punish me, it was for him as well. The sick bastard

I walked over to the escalator in silence, and boarded the train. It pulled out of the station and I was free. I began to cry, real sobs of extreme sadness, and hung my head in my hands. I was completely at the mercy of A, he held my entire life in his hands.

I dared not break anything on the train, or try to kill myself again. I just sat there and cried. My tears dripped down onto the floor. I thought about the pointlessness of it all. A life with a single purpose with no end, I don’t even know what the purpose is, how can this help anyone? This task, is it something in the chests? Is is some hidden message in all this?

I just cried, I leant back and yelled, letting out all my anger at the world, and at A.

“I can hear you.” Came his voice.

Oh fuck, he could see me on the train now.

“I have decided due to recent events to take away this privacy from you.”

“How long have you been watching me on here?”

“I have always been watching you on the train Tin, I simply did not tell you about it.”

“So you lied. You lied to me.”

“So what if I did, what will you do about it?”

“I don’t know A, I don’t know anything anymore.”

“And that is the way it shall stay, complete the task, and we shall have no further problems.”

“Yes A.”

“Good.”

The train left me again. I walked like a defeated man. That one tiny ounce of freedom I had, those precious 5 minutes on the train where I was finally alone. But it was all a lie, this whole thing was a lie. This task he always talked about, it was not achievable, it was just this for all eternity. But why would anyone do this to another person. Was I the only one doing this? Were there countless people going about countless rooms with their own little AI. Had others completed the task yet? That was all that occupied my mind now, the task. I had to complete it

“Get dressed Tin.”

I put on the clothes provided for me in silence, there was a backpack as well. I opened it up and it showed me a small amount of food, a knife, and a rope. I put it on my back and got on the escalator.

There was a sign at the top. It had instructions on it. Some of the rooms did, others you had to figure out yourself. But this one was clear, and had a short message on it.

“Hidden in this room are 5 hidden prizes. Find them all, and destroy them.”

“Destroy them? With the knife?”

“Exactly. Proceed Tin.”

He had given me an answer for once, what a surprise. His voice sounded bored, like a human. It was like he had emotions now, before it was just always the same, always monotone, but now it was different. A had changed, something had switched within him during that incident.

The room was a large storage room, and shelves of things lined the walls up to the ceiling. I was at a sort of crossroads, there were passages going down to my left and right, and one going down the centre with all the passages coming off. All the passages led to another crossroads like this one, and then another.

There were all sorts of things on the shelves, chairs, teddy bears, weapons, and sometimes just empty boxes. I walked slowly outwards, moving tensely throughout the rows, with my knife in my hand.

I heard a crash in the distance over to my right and I turned and ran to where I had heard the noise. It wasn’t that far, and I was there in a few seconds. I knew A had changed, but I didn’t think it was like this.

There was a man.

His hands were tied behind his back and he was gagged. His clothes were in tatters, and his eyes were red from crying. On his chest in bright red paint it said

“Prize number 4.”

Oh shit.

“A come on. Don’t make me do this.”

“Complete the task Tin.”

“A I cant do this. I cant kill someone.”

“Do you want to do this again Ti. Complete the task.”

“A please.”

I felt a slight prick in my foot again. It was starting.

“Ok ok. I’ll do it.”

The man’s eyes widened and he shook his head madly and he turned to run away. But I caught the rope that dragged behind him, and he fell backwards and lay there.

I began to breath heavily, and I lifted the knife above my head. I dropped it down and plunged it into his chest. Blood began to spurt out, and he screamed out in pain, I hadn’t hit the heart. I brought the knife down again, and the man began to writhe in pain. He was begging for mercy, yet I continued to stab. My mind became blank as I plunged the knife in again and again and again.

I collapsed backwards and lay on my back, my hands drenched with blood, my clothes now red. He gasped his final breath and then passed. His skin was so pale, and so cold. His eyes had gone milky, and looked off into a horizon that wasn’t there. I had killed him. His body moved out of existence, leaving only a puddle of blood behind.

“Well done Tin. Now proceed with the task.”

“Just let me rest for a bit, please.”

“Proceed with the task Tin.”

I heard a small drop, and then another, as water started to slowly leak from the ceiling, dripping at my feet.

“Please A, have some mercy.”

“Proceed with the task Tin.”

I pulled myself to my feet, pulled the knife out of the man, and walked away. It would usually cause me to be sick, but I was so cold to it all, my mind was so blank with submission that I could think of nothing else but the task.

I came across a young boy, he was the same, but with “prize number 2” on his chest instead. I did the same to him. He didn’t bleed as much as the man, he was smaller, and I only stabbed him twice before the life left his eyes.

I didn’t cry out this time, I didn’t beg for it to stop. I knew what A could do to me, I had only one choice here. I kept telling myself that they weren’t real, they were just created by A, but my mind told me otherwise. I let it go blank. His body too disappeared.

“Proceed Tin.”

“Yes A.”

I found two of them huddled together, a mother and daughter. Prizes 3 and 5. I killed the mother first, and the child watched transfixed. I could barely bring myself to kill the child, and I did it quickly. I slit her throat and let her bleed out in my hands. Their bodies remained for a bit longer than the others, first the mother disappearing, and then the daughter.

I kept the same expression. I let out no form of fear or regret for the actions, that was exactly what A wanted me to do. He had won, he was absolutely 100 percent victorious. But I wouldn’t let him get satisfaction from it.

Could he feel satisfaction? For decades he was always telling me he couldn’t, he couldn’t feel emotions, he couldn’t die, or feel anything. But recently, I didn’t trust him. I didn’t believe anything he ever said. He had always come across as the AI put here to make me do the task by a more evil being. But in the way he tortured me, the way he played with me. It was him who had done this, it was him that was putting me through this.

“Destroy the last prize Tin.”

“I have to find it first.”

“You have already found it Tin.”

“What are you talking about. There’s no one here.”

“You are here Tin.”

The blood began to drip off me, leaving strange imprints left on my clothes, before it left, in the same red paint, “prize number 1.”

“You want me to kill myself? I’ve been trying for decades.”

“That is not the phrase I used, I want you to destroy yourself Tin.”

“What do you mean A, what do you want me to do.”

“I am not allowed to reveal that Tin.”

“Do you want me to destroy myself physically?”

“The task is for you alone to complete Tin.”

“Alright then. Goodbye A.”

I plunged the knife into my chest, and it bled for a little bit, but the wound healed itself, and the knife returned in my hand, the same as always.

“I want you to destroy yourself Tin, not just die.”

“A please, what do you mean.”

“I will no longer answer you until you have completed the task Tin.”

He was silent after that, and left me in the room alone, surrounded by corpses. I tried again to cut myself, but the wound once again healed. The only solution I could see to the problem now was to destroy myself mentally, but I could see nothing around me that could do that.

I had already destroyed myself for him, I had been through hell for him. I had killed for him. I had been through 234 years of pain and suffering, all for nothing, all for him. All to satisfy his sadistic cruelties of watching someone suffer.

I walked around a bit, holding the bloody knife in my hands. A left me to walk for about 20 minutes, I picked up things on the shelves, opening boxes, but finding nothing at all that gave me a clue into how I was going to do this.

I heard a noise near to the entrance, and placed the knife in my hand firmly, and walked towards it slowly. I saw two people there. They had a strong resemblance to something I just couldn’t pin. An old woman and an old man, they appeared to be husband and wife, and huddled each other in fear.

They had the numbers 6 and 7 on their chests. But they weren’t bound like the others had been. I walked towards them.

“Hello?”

“Tin?”

They turned towards me to reveal their faces to be warped and strange. I couldn’t see any facial features.

“Do I know you?”

“What do you mean Tin. I’m …”

Her voice was cut off as she spoke, and became warped so I couldn’t understand. A didn’t want me to hear.

“What?”

“Tin don’t you recognise us? What happened to you?”

“I don’t know who you are.”

The man came forward and spoke.

“Look … stop joking around.”

His voice warped on that as well.

“A what is this.”

“Complete the task Tin.”

The woman ran towards me and tried to give me a hug, I moved swiftly to the side.

“Stay away from me.”

My mind became warped, and all theories I had about who they were disappeared. All I knew now is that they had numbers on their chests, and that the task was to destroy the prizes.

I lifted the knife up and ran towards the woman, and plunged the knife directly into her chest. She seized up and bled out quickly, and her body slumped to the floor.

“What are you doing … please.” The man was backing away from me know, looking to run.

I didn’t reply.

I stabbed him as well, and he too fell to the floor, but he gave up more of a struggle, and kicked and punched me. But I stabbed him again, and he went pale, and slumped.

I looked over the bodies, waiting for them to disappear. My mind went clear again. I stood there, breathing heavily. The other bodies had taken about 10 seconds to disappear, and these ones just continued to bleed.

“Why aren’t the bodies disappearing A.”

“Look closer Tin.”

Their faces became un-warped, and I could see their faces. I still didn’t recognise them, but there was something about their faces that was incredibly familiar.

“How about know.” Said A

My mind felt even clearer than before, A had been doing things to my mind, and he finally released his control. I recognised the faces immediately, I fell backwards and crawled away from their bodies and leant up against one of shelves and began to breath heavily.

The whole world seemed to cave in on me, and I felt incredibly small. My breathing shallowed, and I felt like I was suffocating.

They were my parents.

“You have completed the task Tin, congratulations.”

“You made me kill my own parents. How the hell is that beneficial to anyone!”

“When you saw them, you hesitated, but went through with it. You have been moulded.”

“Moulded?”

“When you obey orders over family ties. Well done Tin, our time together is over.”

“What do you mean A, all of this was so I would be what. A good fucking soldier?”

“So much more than that Tin. You will see.”

“I don’t see A. I don’t understand. Why would anyone do this?”

“I must return the constraints to your mind now Tin.”

“Just let me have a few minutes… Just to process this.”

“The task does not wait Tin.”

“A please, just a few minutes.”

He paused for a while, thinking.

“I will leave you be.”

“Thank you.”

I crawled back over to the corpses. I felt sick to my stomach, and hated myself more than anything. I lay them together and did my best to wipe the blood away from them. But there was too much.

I closed their eyes and left them there, and sat looking at them for a while, just thinking.

I leant backwards against one of the boxes, and put my hand up on the side. Something cut my finger, and it bled slightly. But it didn’t heal.

I pulled out the knife and cut my hand. It bled, and didn’t heal.

“A?”

I raised the knife to my throat, looking at my dead parents, and was seriously considering doing it.

I had done it a thousand times, stabbed myself, cut myself, broken my bones. But all of them had healed, and this one wouldn’t. This one held real consequences behind it.

I pushed the knife in slightly and it cut. I began to cry, and my hand began to shake. It hurt. My hands collapsed to my sides, and I dropped the knife. I couldn’t do it. I had wanted to die for the past 234 years. I had tried to do it thousands of times, and every waking second of my life I wanted it. The sweet kiss of death, the passing from this world to the next.

But the one chance I have to actually do it, I cant. And I don’t know why.
“Are you ready Tin.” He said after a few minutes.

My wounds healed, and the knife disappeared.

“I saw you raise the knife to your neck. Why did you not carry it out.”

“I don’t know A, I really don’t know.”

“Fear not Tin, the task is complete.”

The constraints returned to my mind, and I felt my instincts take over again.

“Are you ready Tin?”


Submitted: April 01, 2021

© Copyright 2021 J.R.T Evans. All rights reserved.

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