The man, dressed dapperly in a black suit and crisp white shirt, slowly lowered the girl onto the floor. She smiled at him with her blue eyes bright, her unnaturally silky blonde hair flying as she bounced up and down in a hurry to get home. 

“Rodriguez!” The man barked in his usual despotic voice. To the girl with boundless joy, he was merely annoyed. “Get the car around! The leader wants to finally see her.” 

“Of course, sir.” Came the reply in its quotidian tone. 

A grand black car rolled onto the porch of the office, and the girl happily jumped in, eagerly looking out of the window as they crossed palatial mansions and elegant parks. 

The vehicle slowed down as they rode past a great iron fence. It was simply endless! As the girl looked around in amazement, her eyes fell upon the run-down houses that stood chock-a-block alongside the road, which looked as if it had been forcefully cut between them. As they took a turn, she saw a woman in rags, shaking with grief as she held a small child in her arms, no bigger than the girl herself, whose clothes were in tatters, as if they had been ripped, clawed at, and the wretched child’s face had been scratched so terribly that he was almost unrecognisable.

The women convulsed through her tears, shouting something ineligible, and the girl may have heard had the man not ordered his guard to shut the windows. Still looking, her amazement turned to horror, she asked, “Father? Why is that woman crying?”

“The wolves got to her boy, I assume. She is mourning, for that is the best use of her time, apparently.” The suited man replied, fixing his tie, his eyes darker than a moonless night.

“But why does she mourn so?”

Love, I presume.” He spat in disgust. “Simple people, my girl. They feel. Their feelings control them. Do not take much notice, we’ll be out of this hellhole soon.”

The girl remained unconvinced. She felt utterly bewildered and was almost moved to tears herself. She could feel the pain that coursed through the women’s veins, who had lost her one hope, one light in life… 

They passed a tiny complex, filled with people of different walks of life, who were apparently in a protest. The crowd radiated anger. In their hands they held megaphones, rocks and posters, some of which read, “Maximus Robert Pierre for president!” and “The law fears those who don’t fear the law.” The girl saw many men and women, seething hatred etched in their faces, as they proceeded towards a white marble building.

“Why are these people protesting, Father?” The girl inquired.

Her father’s lips curled up into a sneer. “For it worked and the plan is in motion. They do not trust their president anymore.”

She was dumbfounded. She could sense it, the rancour almost overflowing, taking control, of them, of her. “Rodriguez.” She snapped out of her sudden blind rage. “Stop gazing. You daren’t express sympathy, for His Greatness’ sake. You know you will be shot.” “I would never, sir,” Rodriguez replied in his monotone voice, averting his gaze. Not long after, the car rolled into the driveway of an expensive building. Her father grasped her hand and led her into a large room. A man was sitting at the desk. A large golden nameplate on it read ‘M. Robert Pierre’.

“Welcome, Markus. I presume this is the one?” He asked slowly and coldly, the muscles on his clean-shaven ghostly face barely moving.

“Yes, sire. Prototype 85B. She is the most convincing copy yet, and the most… human.” Her father replied. “The plan seems to be well in motion, sir. The deep-fakes have done well, and our AI has implanted ideas even better.”

“Very well. This one… she will help make them angrier. She can feel only in high magnitude, can she not? Then she is one of them. You have done well.”

Her father’s face twitched as he caught himself before he expressed his happiness at the compliment.

“The President’s daughter sounds good, yes?” Pierre asked, his voice harsh and icy once more.

“Yes, Your Greatness.” Her father hastily replied.

“Start the reprogramming. She will lead me- us, on to victory. But leave us for a moment.”

Her father slowly nodded and backed out of the room.

“Aren’t you just perfect?” The man lifted up her chin with his rough fingers. “So easily manipulated, these pawns. They think I’ll give them power, that they can be emotionless, and the rest think that my intentions are ‘kind’, that I’ll help them and their insignificant little troubles. You… you have proven to me that humanity yet flourishes, and you will help me end it.”

The callous man let himself smile as his gaze met hers, as he looked into the petrified eyes of the false girl, human because she could express it all,  human because she felt it all, human because she lived it all. 


-Yashasvini Verma, Amity International School, Noida


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