I woke up in the morning, feeling fresh.
I could hear the sound of rain falling off the roof,
I could hear the sound of birds chirping on my window.
my nose powered up with the smell of petrichor.
my wound had healed, both of them still seemed to be fast asleep. So I decided to explore the house.
From the bedroom, I moved towards the hall where the girl was sleeping. Next to her bed, a few inches away on the dining table was a plate filled with eatables. I walked towards it, picked an apple, and took a bite. it was juicy as if fresh out of the farm.
Then I realized, my body was not digital as she said, I could also feel a slight pain in my forehead unlike yesterday when everything was numb. so I decided to put them to a test. I hid in the almirah to observe their routine. At 6 am sharp the alarm bell rang and both of them woke up.
They walked straight into the bathroom thus confirming they were not digital, but soon I realized that little girl had her dinner yesterday, she even used a phone. And the house and its people look somewhat familiar to me. Both of them came out of the bathroom, sat on the sofa, and were having tea. both of them seemed to be a bit confused. I slowly moved out of my hiding and moved towards them.
Me: Good morning
Ankita: good morning papa.
Mama: Take your tea.
There was a confusing vibe all over the house as if someone had tampered with the brain of its residents. I began to recollect the incidents as I sipped tea into my body.
My memory retention was better than yesterday. And as I was recollecting, the girls’ words flashed in my mind. she said something like ” why are people gathering in our line?” so it would be better if I go outside and ask a few people what happened last night.
I moved downstairs and everything there was messy. all the cupboards and shelves were open and the material was thrown around haphazardly. a complete contrast to the first floor.
Slowly I made my way out through the front gate. The rain seemed to slow down a bit. everything seemed normal, there were people all over going on with their routines, vehicles honking, etc.
As I was staring at the road, a voice from the side called me. He said he was my neighbour.
Neighbour: hey Leela, what have you been doing all night. there was a lot of noise coming from your building. I thought you were having some sought of event.
I tried to call you many times but you were not lifting the phone. I even tried calling your wife, no response from there.
Me (in my head): is this house mine? then who are the other two. he is saying I have a wife? then why was she shocked to see me?
Me: do I also have a daughter?
Neighbour: Ha you have a daughter who is 10 years old goes to school. what happened? why are you asking such crazy questions? are you alright?
Me: I am alright, I just feel dizzy. ok, I’ll meet you again.
Now, that I know this is my house, I need to find my daughter’s phone. I decided to explore the area around my house. nothing suspicious was found. As I was entering back into the house, I saw a dustbin filled up to brim with a black bag, which appeared a bit suspicious to me. I bought it into the house and opened the black cover. I found 3 phones in a switched-off state. I bought them back to the hall and placed them on the dining table.
Papa: let’s go outside , today is Sunday.
Mama: we need to go to the supermarket and bring things home.
Me: Did anyone of you go downstairs since morning?
mama: No, I am feeling a bit foggy.
Ankita: papa where is uncle? did he go away?
Me: who? who came here yesterday?
Mama: we should better check the CCTV footage.
Me: where is it?
Mama: In our garage. come let’s go.
We walked into our garage, where the PC room was. I immediately recognized the place. where I was knocked out. I moved towards the PC to check the footage, footage was being displayed from all rooms and my daughter’s phone (now that it’s back on).
My memories were slowly returning back, I knew I came back from the office that day, I wished my wife and children, then into the bathroom to freshen up. I heard a strange sound coming from the balcony so I headed there, a group of people was organizing a political rally, it was a lot of noise. so I closed the door and headed back to the bathroom. before I knew it I was down and messed up my brain.
As I was sliding the footage towards yesterday, my wife suddenly started to panic and rushed towards the first floor. I took my daughter and ran behind her. she ran down down the stairs towards an almirah and gave a loud scream.
“WE HAVE BEEN ROBBED! “
I didn’t know what to do, my memory was still recuperating slowly. Her scream alerted my neighbours and the couple came in. My wife seemed to have recovered fairly well. They must have injected some sort of drugs into us to make our brains dizzy. as a precaution, I immediately call the doctor and police.
Neighbours: what happened? why are you screaming?
Mama: we were robbed yesterday.
neighbours: there was so much noise coming from your house throughout the night, I thought you were having a party.
Mama: No, I had no idea what I was thinking, there are still fragments of those memories floating in my brain.
Me: let us continue checking the footage, we may find something out of it.
All of us moved up.
the footage was tampered with for an hour, which meant the person had enough time to know the make and model of our webcams and then hack it. while looking at the footage, I realized a person also entered the house as “papa” while I was watching from the garage. if I was drugged how did they manage my wife and child into believing that I was going into the bathroom at the same time?
meanwhile, the doctor and police joined in.
The police took over checking the CCTV footage and doctors took our blood samples for analysis.
In the evening they sent us a report stating that we have been drugged to induce hallucinations. It is a strange way to rob people but I knew something was off about this report. As they could have easily given us dosage of sleep-inducing drugs. Someone has done it with intention.
We were told by the doctor to visit a psychiatrist for rehab, we choose our neighbours because both of them were psychiatrists. During one such rehab session, he received a call with a strange ringtone different from his normal one.
Me: hey, nice ringtone.
He: it is my son, he put a custom ringtone to his number.
Me: When did he come back? he was settled in the US right, with his family?
He: ( a little bit tensed) he has returned for a vacation. can we postpone our session? I have some urgent work.
I am been watching anime for a long time, I knew I heard the song somewhere. with the task running in the background of my brain. I headed home. while I was watching home I saw a strange figure, looking at me from my neighbours’ terrace. a chill ran down my spine. I immediately took my family inside and locked the door.
Mama: hey let’s watch a movie on Netflix. all three of us together, it has been a long time since we laughed. let us forget about the incident.
Me: Ankita switch on the TV
Ankita: ha papa.
Ankita switched on the tv and logs into You-tube.
Mama: what movie shall we watch?
Ankita: lets us watch some cartoon movie. what do you say, papa?
Me: both of you decide what to watch meanwhile I will take a look at the news.
We stopped looking at the news, as they were repeating a lot of content. we preferred In-shorts. but today my instincts pointed me towards a local news channel.
News reporter: breaking news. A hypnotist expert techie, escaped from prison (shows his picture). Everyone who came in contact was hypnotized. lost memories. even the jail authorities found out he escaped, 2 days after he escaped. he is also a computer science major. which is a deadly combination. if you see him inform the authorities and flee the place. It was a flee on sight order.
As we were listening to it in shock,
“Tring” rang our doorbell,
Mama: Ankita, open the door.
Ankita: (rushes towards it in excitement) going ma…
As she was going towards the door, the guests’ mobile rang.
it was the same ringtone, AAAHHH I remember it.
It’s the “The first town” from sword art online.
Me: Ankitaaaaa, don’t open the door, he will kill all of us. Anu, please close all the doors and windows.
I ran ahead to stop Ankita and as I got hold of her, our front door received a heavy flow from a sharp weapon. I immediately took my daughter and ran upstairs and locked the phone. he tries hitting the door a few times but the voice stopped. I could see his shadow move from the front door. where is my wife? I immediately ran towards the garage and saw her staring at her mobile screen. I immediately closed the door and dragged her into a room and locked it.
with my family safe, I immediately called the police. my wife was still staring at the screen. I took a look and found a pattern revolving around her screen. I immediately took her phone and switched it off. (this is how he hypnotized my family).
CLANK! came a loud noise and we knew he entered in. He would immediately go to the garage and find out what we are up to from the CCTV. so I switched off the power to the room’s webcam from inside. police were taking a long time to come. I don’t know if we would all be able to survive today. Then I had an idea, I immediately called a bunch of media people and an ambulance giving them false news.
all of a sudden, there was a pin drop silence. he heard what I was planning to do. my wife and child were unable to speak in shock. breaking this pin-drop silence was a sniffle, he was crying…and my wife’s personality changed, she immediately ran towards the door to open it. I was holding her back, there was nothing to tie her down. Maybe he was using our triggers on us. to avoid this I forced all three of us into the attached bathroom and switched on the taps to muffle the sounds he made to trigger us.
every step of ours’ seemed to turn him insane. he was laughing at one movement and crying the other. we stayed in the bathroom for 15min before we heard a gunshot. then another one and then complete silence. after an hour, press came in and local people walked us out.
He was killed. They found him near the garage. He was the hypnotic killer, shown on TV who escaped prison.
my neighbours were taken into custody. He was their patient.
To the public, it is a solved case, but to us, it was a nightmare.
we were victims with triggers inside.