Honestly, if someone writes a biography of my life, it would be more like a sci-fi novel rather than a boring old memoir. It takes my whole will to not reach out to a producer and give him/her a movie idea, the idea being my life, duh. It is just so extraordinary; I have a hard time believing it myself. It all feels like a dream. Maybe it is. Aren’t we all part of our own imagination, not awakening from our slumber that we have accepted our dreams as our reality? I mean, how do you definitely say that this is all true and not part of our minds, who might have creatively come up with a coping mechanism to not face the mere non-existence of us? But that is for another day, for, right now, I’ll be telling you what happened in my life. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s true or not.
It was the third year of quarantine. It wasn’t going well. I was ready to do anything to get out of the house. On a fine(ish) morning, while I was coming to the living room, I heard from the TV in the background that the colleges and offices were to open the next month. I was elated. I started jumping up and down. My parents were extremely ecstatic to see me so happy after so long, after months of absolute raw boredom. We quickly decided we needed to go college shopping, for I needed new clothes because I was basic to the core and believed everyone needs new clothes before starting something new. It was going to be the beginning of a new era in my life. So, after a few hours of convincing, my parents agreed to take me out. I wouldn’t blame them, even they were excited to get out of the house.
But that began my story. I was infected with the virus. I was tested positive by the local doctor. My parents were distraught and wanted to admit me to a hospital that had a good reputation. My entire family was scared. My friends and relatives kept calling me, trying to reassure me that everything will be alright. I was extremely bummed out and was afraid I might miss the first day of my offline college. After a day or so, my dad brought in a private doctor he found on the internet, who had a 100% recovery reputation. He was called Dr. Indra Prasad. The next day, he visited our home, prescribed me a few medicines, and reassured my parents that everything would be right. What I found odd, though, was that he was wearing a full sleeve shirt and a doctor’s coat on top of that despite being the month of May and the sun was excruciating. However, that was utterly ignored for obvious reasons, and only my illness was discussed. He told me that by using the medicines, I would be good as new in a week. I was relieved because I would be able to attend college without any disruptions.
Luckily (or not), it all worked out. I was cured of the virus in a week and was healthy once again. The doctor made another visit then and, like some extremely unprofessional scammer, told me the side effects of the medicines he gave me now. He said that something in the medication would fade my hair out, but apparently, that was it. I was not that worried about this. In fact, I was kind of excited because this will be a nice change that I would want to adapt to.
After a month or so, my college began. I was feeling a mixed combination of excitement, nervousness, and sheer happiness. I was finally going to meet the people I had become friends with over the last year online, and I had a whole campus to explore. On the first day, my parents came to drop me off and fill out some formal documents. Life had been peaceful for the next week; I met so many people and learned about my campus. Then on a bright Sunday, when I woke up late after a long time, I faced my first shock. I gazed at my reflection in the mirror and, staring back at me was a person who looked exactly like me but with brown hair instead of my usual. The doctor had warned me about this, but it was too out of the blue because it happened overnight, literally. My hair was pitch black the previous day. It took me a while to get used to, but eventually, I accepted my fate and decided to live with it. The worst struggle was explaining my situation to my batchmates.
While giving my friends this huge life update, I tripped and fell (shocking). That was not the weird part (definitely), for my knee wasn’t bleeding. Instead, there was an odd transparent liquid that was oozing out. My friends pointed it out to me as if I hadn’t noticed. I quickly went to the campus nurse. She told me to visit the local doctor because she didn’t know what was going on (when did she?). So, I took a little bit of gauze, tied it around my knee, and went to the nearby clinic. The doctor examined my knee quickly and said that it was just a unique case of pus. He gave me a couple of pills and warned me that my skin would experience a mild burning sensation for a week, but that is nothing to worry about. I believed him, majorly because there was no hospital in the vicinity for miles. And travelling a considerable distance just for tripping and falling seemed silly.
Little did I know that I was getting myself into a scam, one which was worse than all the pyramid schemes you’ve ever heard of.
On the third day after this incident, I woke up and went to my desk where the pills were located. I put one in my mouth, opened my bottle, took a huge sip, and swallowed. And the moment I swallowed, my whole body started burning. It felt like my skin was peeling off, but there was no blood. I could just see the base layer of whatever is supposed to be underneath my skin (hey, I don’t know bio, this is an excellent place to mention that). I started screaming for help, for the pain was unbearable. But then something else happened. The lamp sitting on my study table in front of me started moving. I had seen it moving, but I didn’t care enough then, for my entire body felt like it was on fire. The lamp started moving away from the table, it was moving towards me. It started pretty slow, but then it accelerated at a rate that I am pretty sure lamps are not supposed to. And then, in a couple of seconds, it hit my throat.
The funny part is, it didn’t hurt a tad bit. In fact, it felt so good. It felt like I was putting ice on a severe burn. Something inside me gave me a sensation of completeness. I instantly stopped screaming, but by then, all of my floormates came to my room, staring at me in horror. The absurd part was, the lamp started melting. It wasn’t dripping down; however, it was sticking to my body. It was almost like it was creating a new layer of skin. And the same thing happened again, but this time with my bike keys, which were on my nightstand. And then slowly, it happened with all the metal objects in my room. All of them flew from their positions and melted onto my body, and got integrated into my skin. The non-metallic parts of the objects, like glass/plastic, just fell down on the ground.
A bigger crowd had gathered around me by now. No one was talking, for everyone was freaked out. No one even knew what to do, for nothing of what happened was normal. I almost lost control of my body for a while. A deep sigh of relief was let out of my body, involuntarily. The next thing I did, not me technically because it felt like I was being controlled by someone, is I rushed through the crowd to the balcony. My vision was blurry, but I was mildly aware of what was happening around me. At the balcony stood a man who was about the same height as me. I could not see his face because he was facing the other way. But my body decided to move up to him and pat him on his shoulder.
The man turned around and staring back at me was a familiar face. It was Dr. Indra Prasad, yes, the one who treated me for COVID-19. My mind was so confused but, apparently, my body wasn’t. In fact, it went ahead and shook his hand. I was getting tired of my own body,
for it was not coordinating with my brain. And if y’all going to say that it had only been a couple of minutes, I humbly advise you to shut it.
Dr. Indra Prasad looked down at me now (yes down, yes, I am short), with a big smile defining his face. After what felt like forever, someone spoke. It may not have been the words I wanted to hear, but the silence was killing me.
“What took you so long?” he said.
Okay, I was expecting a “how are you feeling now?” and I might have been a little (very) pissed that that wasn’t it, but hey, my whole body almost got burnt, literally. So, I overcame my puppet master (yes, I’ll be referring to the person, or not, who was controlling me like that) and screamed, “give me some medicine. ”
He looked a little taken aback and asked, “wait, did you really think I was a doctor all this time?”.
Duh. I did. Why the hell wouldn’t I? I probably muttered out a little “huh?” because if I did anything else, I don’t remember. I fainted. Don’t blame me, I am shocked I didn’t pass out earlier.
After god knows how much time, I gained consciousness. I was in a golden-ish room that I did not recognize (unless I had brain damage along the way here) but all I can say was that the mattress was extremely comfortable. Using a little bit of my core strength, I struggled to sit straight and take in what was around me. It was an orange room with a big window with the curtains draped. Right in front of my eyes sat none other than Dr. Indra Prasad. On seeing me awake, he got off the chair, walked towards me, and removed his coat. Underneath his shabby old doctor’s coat lay his skin. It was nothing like the normal skin that most of us have seen in our lives. It was silver, and the light was bouncing off of it. My face must’ve portrayed a sense of bewilderment, for he spoke and started to explain what was happening (finally).
“I am #42069. Commonly known as Alister among you earthlings. Honestly, I don’t understand why y’all can’t just have your code as your name. Anyways, I am from, what do you call it, ah, planet Saturn. I am part of the exploring team over there. We travel around
the universe, in search of other planets with inhabitants and recruit them as our slaves essentially. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t disrespect you guys at all, we are just completely empty of our slave-worthy inhabitants, which loosely translates to gantists who don’t use their wit more often. Oh, by the way, gantists are ‘people’ of ‘Saturn’. We are having difficulty doing our extensive research because we keep getting interrupted by the mundane, yet essential, chores of our daily life. But, as I fore-mentioned, we are out of slaves, who used to do the tasks for us earlier. So, we decided to take control of other planets. We’ve seen that your planet is extremely stupid, no offense, so we decided we take advantage of you guys. Did I mention that we don’t actually look like you earthlings? Well, since we don’t, we usually find a random earthling and start controlling them, like I am controlling this Indra dude right now. Any questions so far?”
He paused, just like how a lecturer would pause in the middle of some class waiting for doubts. My mind was overflowing with information so I had nothing to even ask about.
“Right, moving on. So, what we basically do is, we choose a random person, feed them some pills prepared by the laboratories on our planet, and let our thoughts control them. Now when I say it like that it sounds all too easy, but it isn’t. There is a catch. The controlee should have to take the pills willingly, which I managed quite easily in my first 2 recruitments, this Indra dude and you that is. You humans make my life a little too easy with your dumb wit paired with generic naivety. So, after you take the pills, you slowly start losing control of your body and mind, you slip into my hands. And you reach a stage where you can only use your own brain and listen to your own heart when I give the access. All of this is a little too easy with your backward idea of what science is and how reluctant you are to know you might be wrong.”
He paused again as if it were obvious for me to ask something, but I couldn’t. It was a lot of information to process and keep track of. I didn’t even know if I should believe him. But something about the absurdity of his appearance and surety in his tone made me trust him. Although I was utterly confused about what actually was happening, I decided to pull it together and make it seem like I was interested because I was and I was desperate to know what exactly was happening. After a couple of seconds, he continued talking.
“I would go into the details of why you all are wrong about your notions of science, but I can’t because of the time constraint. And trust me, I tried my hardest to include that conversation, for it is so interesting, but it is impossible. So, as I was saying, we figure a way for you to take the pills, which is easy because y’all are hella gullible. That is what we did to you. We faked our online presence and guided your father to choose this doctor. And then, we gave you some pills which when combined with what you humans call ‘pus medicine’, rips your skin apart while heating and magnetizing the layer underneath it. Hence, the magnetic materials nearby get attracted, and then melts due to the heat, after which, you have metallic skin which won’t let you get injured physically ever. Now I have a bone to pick with you. We were expecting you to hurt yourself way earlier, for we have observed you are an extremely clumsy person. But for some reason, you didn’t and we are more than a week late to our schedule. Thanks.”
I finally had some sense to start speaking. I said, “You are welcome” and then I realized it was way better when I wasn’t talking. Now, it just seems like I don’t get sarcasm which is so not the usual, but maybe I was just tired. What is ironic is, is that my biggest pet peeve is when people don’t sarcasm. The fake doc rolled his eyes and continued.
“Anyways, after about 3 days, you’ll be entirely in my control and we will use it to recruit more people like we did with the Indra dude. Also, don’t worry about what the others who’ve seen it happen. We’ll erase their minds. Now, I don’t expect you to ask any questions because you have stayed rather silent for most of it, so I am going to answer the plausible question of when we might leave, back to our planet. We are going to leave when we have enough recruitments and that is 98 more.”
I had no words to say. I couldn’t even believe what was happening. But I didn’t want to be a slave for some random aliens who call themselves gantists, if it were even true. I would say it was a huge prank but I had physical proof of what was happening. My metallic skin. I wanted to get out of this as soon as possible.
“So, I understand y’all are a whole bunch of aliens and all but is there any way for me to get out of it? I mean, this just feels a little, a lot, unfair. I was just enjoying college life after so long, this is not what I would want myself to get into, although it sounds so cool.”
He smirked and said, “Well sweet. You have spoken. On your question, yes you can get out of this whole ‘scam’, like you would want to call it but then again, you need to come up with a solution on your own and you only have 3 days for that. So, theoretically, you can but practically, you can’t. Now, I am a little late for my next task, so if you don’t mind, I’ll be leaving now. I have another recruitment to take care of. It was happening simultaneously with yours. I have to repeat all of this stuff again, wish me luck.” On saying that, he turned around and walked out of the door while taking the body of the Indra dude with him.
Now, I had a lot of information to process. But the base of all is to figure out a way to escape this. How, in the whole wide world, did they end up choosing me as one of their recruits. I decided that for whatever solution I need to come up with, I need to process whatever just happened and for that, I needed to sleep. This probably was just an excuse to sleep even though this might be the most crucial time of my life.
I woke up after a 3-hour nap (there was a clock in the room right across from me). I had a much clear head and had some energy in my body. I got out of bed and started thinking while walking because that helps me focus better.
The information I had was that these aliens from Saturn, for some reason wanted more slaves and gently invaded our planet. Now they have somehow metallized my skin and say I have 3 days, at max, for me to find an escape out of this if I even could. The thing I hate the most is that the one thing I wanted from my childhood is being able to make my own decisions and not follow someone else’s orders. I want to be able to like what I am doing. I was desperate to get into college just for independence. This is literally going against my only point of living.
Then, just like that, it struck me. I had to just get metal, majorly iron, off my skin. From the knowledge I had gained over extensive preparation for competitive exams over the last two years, I knew what destroyed iron. It was nothing but oxygen combined with a little moisture. This combination converts iron into its oxide which is more commonly known as rust. And, rust is metal cancer. It kills the metal. Now usually when metal gets oxidized it forms an inactive layer on top of it which can easily be scraped off with some abrasive. So essentially, I could cover my metallic skin with some water and stay in a place with excess oxygen, the woods for instance, and keep scrubbing my skin with something like scrap paper and I should be good as new. Sure, this may hurt a lot and might fail, for apparently all the science we know is fake, but it was worth a try. I was ready to do anything and go through whatever it is, to get my independence back. My well-deserved independence.
So, the next day, I went out of the room to the hallway in search of someone. I couldn’t find anyone so I started screaming Alister’s name. A creature that was no taller than me, orange in colour walked out of a nearby room. I assumed this was him in his gantist form. Now, usually, I would be extremely scared if something like that happened, but given the set of events over the past two days, not so much.
“Um, hey Alister? So, you said I had 2-3 days for me to get out of this trap, to be modest, right? So, what did you mean by that? Do I have complete freedom to do anything I want; go anywhere I want?”
He looked at me as if I was cracking some sort of joke and said, “Yes, we don’t restrict you much for these 3 days, for we have the rest of your life to do that, literally. But the real question is, do you really think you can get out of this, I mean haven’t you heard of all the complications that would weigh in? Keeping that apart, just remember that we would be able to track wherever you go but we won’t take control of you till noon the day after tomorrow. Mainly because you would start growing weak after that for a few hours and won’t be able to survive without help from us.”
“Um, ’kay then, we’ll see how this goes. Bye, see you in a while, or not,” saying that I walked out of the hallway and then out of the building. I went straight to the market, quickly grabbed a few bottles of water, and headed towards the nearby forest. I realized I am unfit and couldn’t walk till there, not because the gantists did something to my body but because I have 0 physical strength, so I took a bus.
I reached the forest in about 10 minutes. As soon as I did, I opened the water bottles and drenched my entire body with water. I waited for something to happen because I know rust isn’t formed instantly. But it did get formed quicker than I thought it would, maybe because of some weird chemicals they had given me. I could see my metallized skin becoming rust. I quickly grabbed a rough stone nearby (because my smart-face forgot to buy sandpaper) and started rubbing my skin. Within no time, I was left skin-less, well metallized-skin-less to be precise. Underneath this layer of weird skin, lay my natural brown skin. I was a little too happy when I saw that. I mean, I had hoped for this to work but not this quick and this well. I was so happy, I could see my skin again, I could feel my body the way that I was supposed to. This meant that I was free. That I could be independent again.
Just then as I was dancing in my very own version of cloud-9, a couple of gantists appeared out of nowhere and grabbed me by my shoulder from either side. Neither of them was Alister, but I wasn’t shocked that a couple of aliens tried to kidnap me while I was trying to free myself from the slavery, they imposed onto me, given that I was successful.
They whipped out a device that looked like a mobile and pressed a button on it. The next instant, I was back in the hallway outside the room in which they trapped me. Alister, in his gantist form, was standing there right in front of me. I couldn’t read the expression on his face because he was a gantist and their face looks nothing like ours (unless you are a gantist reading this, in which case, hello, I’m glad you made it this far?). Alister walked towards me and touched me on the shoulder with his left hand and said, “Dear Mohan, you have shown your excellence by outsmarting us. You are a human with power over your own life now. Now, I don’t really know if you planned out for all these set of events to happen and predicted the outcome but, your work was brilliant. It showed that you have a little bit of intelligence and we respect that. We are going to show you respect by leaving you on Earth and not taking control over you. Not only that, we have a newfound admiration for your planet now and are going to leave y’all alone. We are going to convert the other humans back to their original form and not take any more recruitments from your planet. This is a big deal because we have the power to literally blow your planet in two seconds. We are going to erase your minds and take it back to the way they were. We genuinely are shocked by the amount of intellect you people have and would really hope you would use it for the benefit of the universe and the advancements of science. On that note…”
“Wait!”, I screamed and interrupted him in his mildly emotional speech, “I, kind of, don’t want my memory to be erased. I mean, as much as I believe this was the most traumatizing experience in my life and will have PTSD for the rest of it even by the slightest triggers, I had a lot to learn from it. I learned how useful our brains might be if we used them in an efficient way; I learned how slavery shouldn’t be imposed onto people because they might have worked hard to earn the independence that they were to lose; I learnt that I don’t have to believe everything that is being taught to me, for the lords of Saturn itself say it’s wrong; I learnt that there is so much more to explore in this universe and tonnes of new stuff to be discovered; and last but definitely not the least, I leant not to trust any random person due to their online presence. All of these are real life-shaping lessons and I don’t want to start over from the spot I didn’t know all this. I would really appreciate it if you wouldn’t erase my memory.”
Alister smiled (I think) and said, “Oh well, I see we’ve taught you more than we wanted to. Now, what you are asking wouldn’t be a problem for me. I want to help you, earthlings, out really bad. But, for the concern of our safety, we are only going to let you have your memory, and that is out of sheer respect. Now, there won’t be any need to lay out any ground rules on how you won’t utter a word about us to anyone. Mainly because the majority won’t believe you anyway. And to the fraction who do believe you and find their way into contacting us or harming us, we don’t oppose, for any person who could do that
must have a massive intellect and it would be a delight to meet them. So, have it your way, Mohan, your memory won’t be erased, but that of others who witnessed this will have those specific memories erased. I think that is a fair deal for both of us. On that note, dear, we are going to take you back to where this all began and you will have a fresh start from there, with these memories, obviously. Sayonara!”
I was taken back to the day I Dr Indra Prasad was to come to my house to treat me for COVID-19. Now, apparently, he had cancelled the appointment in the eleventh hour, which my parents found annoying and took me to another hospital. Thankfully, I was cured of the virus anyways and began my life at college again, with the memory of the whole incident flooding my brain whenever people mentioned anything that was remotely related to all of this. Honestly, I wanted to keep this secret hidden but I clearly didn’t, but that’s okay.
And that, my friends (because why not), is the story of my life. Sayonara!