General Disclaimers: While it features no ‘on-screen’ sexual activity or explicit adult situations, this hypnofetish story does contain examples of fictional characters doing illegal, immoral and/or impossible things to other fictional characters. If you are under the age of consent in your community, are disturbed by such concepts, or want graphic sex in your pornography, then for goshsakes stop reading now!
Permission granted to re-post for free to any electronic medium, as long as no one's being charged to view it, and this disclaimer and e-mail address (email@example.com) are not removed. It would also be nice if you told me you were posting it.
Copyright ‘FMCU’ and Voyer, 2008.
Specific Disclaimers: One last(?) chapter for The Year of Doctor Fang, which takes us back to the very beginning; as noted in the copyright statement, the original version of this chapter was written by the site-visitor and Dr. Fang fan who goes by the nom-de-net FMCU. I, Voyer, did a rewrite and expansion of that material. Also, if such things matter to you, it's mostly Female-female MC.
The bus grumbled up to the curb and blatted open its doors. Eddie pushed his way through the mob of fellow commuters and out into the gray drizzle, making sure not to lose his backpack or (especially) the laptop case in the process. A new sound mingled with the bus’s departure, and he squinted skyward, shading his glasses with his narrow hand. Some sort of rinky-dink airplane, towing some sort of equally crappy banner: he finally made out the words.
THREE MORE MONTHS!!!
“Happy New Years.” He muttered to the world in general, which did not bother to reply. He slouched down the sidewalk, past the warehouses, all gray boarded-up hulks. At the ends of his skinny jeans-clad legs, his worn-down sneakers slapped at puddles. He watched the alleyways, and kept a careful grip on the laptop; the carrying strap was specially reinforced, and the machine itself was heavily encrypted, but if he lost it in this part of town, or anywhere for that matter, he would at the very least have to listen to another of Larabee’s hissy fits.
He arrived unmolested at his destination: a battered but sturdy metal door lurking in the shadow of another warehouse, looking exactly like all the others. He shot a glance at the overhead security camera, then mashed his code into the waiting keypad.
He yanked the door open, slipped inside, and made sure it was closed behind him; Larabee had gotten on his case about that as well.
And speak of the devil..
Larabee came oozing out of the shadows, looking even more pale, bloated and sweaty than usual; his UberCat T-shirt (did he only own the one damn shirt?) looked like it had been used as the tablecloth at a frat-house pizza party. He wasn’t a devil, Eddie decided. He barely even rated quasit or imp status.
“You get that goddamn coding cluster done? That’s only reason I let you take that goddamn laptop out of-”
“Yeah, it’s done.” For all the damn good it’ll do us, bastard. “I’ll shoot it over to you from my station.”
“No. Gimme that thing.” Larabee extended a greasy paw. Eddie somehow kept his eyes from rolling, and handed over the carrying case. Larabee examined it, and evidently unable to find any holes or burnmarks, grudgingly stepped aside. Eddie made his way down the dimly-lit hall, going past Lois’s cubbyhole. She was already in there, of course, bashing away at her machine, the lines of code reflecting off her black-framed glasses. The stringy brunette glanced over and gave him a distracted nod, scratching at her bare midriff. Eddie wondered, not for the first time, if she put that much enthusiasm into everything she did. He definitely would have made an effort to find out, but again, Larabee was always there, harping about ‘no unauthorized fraternizing’. Ah well..
He gave a small wave and pushed on, around a corner or two, past Rohmer’s (empty) station, finally arriving at his own little corner of the empire. Better than toiling in a cubicle, he supposed. No door, but at least he had actual walls to stick his notes and coding samples to. He stashed his backpack, hung his damp coat on the hook on the door, smoothed out his own T-shirt (Wet Biscuit McGlee, fairly whole and stain-free) then yanked open the tiny fridge he’d wedged into the corner, and snagged his first Rush Cola of the day. His machine was waiting patiently for him, and powered smoothly to life when he tapped in his second access code. It hurt a little to admit it, but Larabee came through in terms of equipment; you proved you needed something, you got it, with only token grumbling. Someone somewhere had deep pockets.
Someone was also paranoid. All these months, and he still wasn’t sure exactly what it was he was trying to do. Or rather, what they were all trying to do. Each of them worked in their own little area, and funneled all their results directly to Larabee. Probably could have worked faster, if they shared, and he probably could have found out more details on his own, if he really wanted to, but the paychecks were regular and didn’t bounce, and the code that he was battling was ferocious, wonderfully so..
Apart from poking Larabee with a stick now and then, he made real no effort to rock the boat.
The current code-dragon swarmed onto his central screen, spewing flames. He cracked his knuckles, and drew his electronic sword.
A couple of hours zipped by.
“Good morning, Gretchen.”
Gretchen looked up from her monitor with her usual start. It wasn’t just that she focused hard when working; dust was the constant enemy of all the delicate equipment housed here in the Hub, and crews worked round the clock to battle it. The constant vacuuming meant that people were always sneaking up on her. In this case, it was her supervisor, Bill Schneider, a pale thin man who always looked like he was about to keel over from a full brain-explosion, but was actually fairly calm and collected. Or at least acted like it. Heck, he was even cool, in his geeky way, when he wasn’t pointlessly interrupting important work.
Belatedly, her mind flitted back to the word ‘morning’, even as she noticed that the vacuum-pushers were wearing the early-shift blue overalls. She flashed a guileless smile.
“Hey Bill. Just thought I’d come in early and check out the latest Geneva protocol.” Bill gazed at her flatly, then shook his head ‘more in sorrow than in anger’...
“Come in early?
Wearing the same clothes as yesterday?” He sighed. “Plus the fact you never signed out. C’mon Gretchen. You did it again. Another all-nighter.” The blonde computer programmer put her feet into her heels and stood up. Her back made surprised noises of protest.
“Oh, all right. You caught me. I was closing up shop last night when the anomaly showed up again. You know how its been bugging me so I tried to trace it.”
This caught Bill’s attention.
Gretchen sighed again.
“No….I thought I almost had it... then it was gone.”
“Are you sure its not just a power surge or the usual system gremlins?”
“It could be. I don’t have any...” She waved a hand. “I just have that feeling. You know. Someone’s lurking out there in the underbrush. And if they are there.. they’re good.”
Bill laughed and shook his head.
“Well I hope not, considering that’s the kind of shenanigans the taxpayers keep us around to prevent. Or would, if they knew we existed. But seriously, Gretchen. You have to stop burning the midnight oil like this. We are three months away from January 1, 2000, and the biggest test this agency has ever faced.” He held up his omnipresent copy of the Times. The main headline blared: THREAT TO CITY’S MILLENNIAL CELEBRATION? “Even the press is starting to hear rumors. The Chairman is breathing down everyone’s neck. On top of all that, I don’t want my number one asset burning herself out and putting herself in the hospital.”
“Now who’s being melodramatic?”
Not a trace of a smile.
“I’m serious Gretch. You work 90 hour weeks, you’ve taken no days off. Even you can’t keep this up forever. I am ordering you to take a week off.”
He was, of course, also carrying his stupid clipboard; he probably slept with it. He flipped through the thick stack of attached papers, yanked one of them out, silently thrust it at her.
An Agency Grade 2 Personal Off-Site Unstructured Recreation Form. She glumly scanned it, hoping against hope that he’d forgotten to initial line 42g or get the authorization stamps in all three boxes, but no. Bill knew his Forms. No doubt the Copies were already on file in the Archives.
She sighed and smiled, more genuinely this time.
“OK, OK. Jeez. What’s next Bill? Threats of torture? C’mon and buy me some coffee.”
“Fine. Real coffee. Outside the commissary. Outside the building. And then you go home.”
An anomalous noise, and Eddie stepped away from battle. Larabee’s voice. Normally, he could effortlessly tune out this particular distraction until it was being channeled directly into his ear, but something was different, and tripped his own well-honed defenses. Larabee wasn’t griping or yelling, he was whining. Whatever was happening, it was coming closer, so he just watched out of the corner of his eye, his fingers tapping an automatic holding pattern.
The voice came close enough to pick out individual words:
“...tell that bastard that I’m doing my best, damnit! The Agency’s firewalls are way better than advertised!”
Larabee came into slithering into view. There were two people with him, both of them wearing expensive business suits. The first was a chick toting a briefcase. Cute enough, with darkish skin, shiny black hair wound into a tight prissy knot behind her head, and curves in the right places, but ultimately, standard issue. The other.. Eddie’s alarm bells began ringing even louder. A man. Spear-bald, stocky, with even darker (but not quite black) skin; maybe from India or some place like that. Hooded eyes under an brow that looked like it could smash its way through the side of a building. He was instantly aware that Eddie was looking at him, and returned the gaze. Just long enough to size Eddie up, take him apart...
Larabee went on babbling.
“I need more time and money, Jinn! And better help! This idiots I’ve got right now couldn’t..”
Eddie turned back to his work, realizing just how close he had come to wetting himself.
He should have known the day was going to turn out like this, when Rohmer wasn’t here. The bastard had a way of being out of the building when, as they say, the excreted waste-product collided with the oscillating self-contained air-movement unit.
He stabbed half-heartedly at the dragon.
You should be following Rohmer’s sterling example, chump. Get out of the building. Right now. Even better, get out of town.
He thought about this, then pictured Baldy.. ‘Gin’, or whatever...
He swallowed convulsively.
He worked some more.
It was very quiet outside his doorway.
It was a mercy, really, when in a single sharp moment, his screen went dark, the undefeated dragon swirling triumphantly back into its cave. He sighed, and turned in his chair so he was facing the doorway. (The chair had been nice, too, the most comfortable he had ever used.) He waited, clutching his can of soda, and before long there was the sound of footsteps approaching along the concrete floor. Sharp and deliberate, and somehow, telling any listener that if the person making those noises had wanted to, you wouldn’t hear him until he was standing right behind you...
The bald man appeared in the doorway, filled it, shoulder to shoulder. In a distant corner of his mind, Eddie noted the suit again. It was quite probably the nicest one he’d ever seen, at least in person, obviously custom-made, and yet, at the same time, it somehow didn’t fit the man. It didn’t belong. Eddie actually had to stifle the impulse to ask Gin about it. He sat and waited.
And maybe, just maybe, there was the most microscopic glint of approval under that brow...
Gin, Mr. Gin, spoke, and his voice was as terrifying as the rest of him.
“This project has been terminated.” He extended his hand, and Eddie couldn’t repress a flinch. But instead of... something awful.. the hand held a long white envelope, sealed, so pristine it almost glowed.
Of course, he could probably kill me with that, if he wanted to.
Edward Gooberman jerkily wiped his hand across Wet Biscuit’s grizzled face.
Reaching out and taking that envelope was the hardest thing that had ever done.
He didn’t die.
Mr. Gin gave a curt nod.
“Your work has been duly noted, Mr. Gooberman. We will be in touch.”
Eddie managed to return the nod, but the other man didn’t wait for a reply, turning and disappearing like smoke. There were no further footsteps. Holding the envelope between thumb and forefinger, Eddie drained his soda can in one long gulp, and tossed it into the cardboard box with the other empties. Only then did he trust his legs enough to get up, collect his backpack and coat, and depart. For one insane moment, he thought about taking the fridge or maybe the chair, but then he got his legs moving down the hallway. He met no one, saw no one. The exit door opened when he pulled at it, and he was out in the gray again; it was raining harder than before. He started walking towards the bus-stop.
He almost collapsed, but then recognized the voice.
Lois was lurking in the alleyway, her pink coat pulled haphazardly over her shoulders, her floppy wide-brimmed hat jammed on her head, her own backpack dangling from a strap. In her hand she held a twin to his envelope. She saw his expression.
The rain dripped. She took a step closer.
“He’s... Larabee. He’s dead, isn’t he. I mean.. I knew that we could get into.. but..”
“Yeah.” Actually, Eddie suspected that if Henry T. Larabee was lucky, he was dead. Otherwise, he might be on his way to meet ‘that bastard’. Mr. Gin’s boss, presumably.
Who would.. who could possibly exist, that could give orders to that man?
“He was a total lardass jerk, but..”
“Yeah.” He reached out, gently pulled her next to him. She leaned against him and sobbed a little before looking up at him.
“And.. did you see that woman?”
He blinked in confusion.
“Well.. yeah.. but I was more looking at..”
“Her eyes. When she gave me this thing.” She waved her envelope. “They were horrible. She was.. so happy... and.. dead..”
“Let’s get out of here!”
A sudden impulse. Eddie pried open his envelope. There was a single piece of paper inside. A cashier’s check, from Eddie’s own bank. There was a number with several zeros at the end.
“Yeah. Someplace else.” He tucked the envelope inside his jacket. The plane buzzed by overhead. For a fleeting moment, he would have cheerfully traded the envelope for a loaded rocket-launcher. “Someplace with sand and palm trees sounds real good right now. Whadda say? ..Together?”
She stared, then something resembling a smile surfaced.
Eddie found his cell-phone, and dialed the cab company. If nothing else, for one day, he could splurge..
Jinn stepped out into the rain. Behind him, he heard an umbrella be extracted from a briefcase and be popped open, but he allowed the drops to patter unimpeded on his bare scalp.
There was a noise behind both of them, the faint but unmistakable whoomp of fire igniting, rapidly spreading.
The limousine was waiting by the curb, long and drab, with heavily mirrored windows, an antenna array sprouted from the trunk, windshield wipers clicking like insect legs.
He opened the door, waited while his follower shook out the umbrella, then followed her inside. He closed
the door, and the outside world was sealed firmly away. It was clear at a glance that this vehicle was designed for practicality rather than luxury, but the wide back seat still gave in seductively around him as he sat down, but he resisted, remaining coiled and alert.
He waved a hand and spoke.
She nodded, pushed a button on the intercom, spoke into it:
The limo came to life.
Padma then stowed away her briefcase in its assigned niche. She then removed her sensible flat pumps, placed them in their hole, and finally pulled the knot out of her hair, letting the black river spill down her back.
She went to her knees on the car’s carpeted floor, placed her hands on her thighs. Looked at nothing in particular, a smiling statue.
Jinn waited while she did this, waited a moment longer, studying her, then pulled off his tie like he was ripping a cobra from around his neck, shrugged off his jacket and finally the crisp white shirt. Each of these he passed to Padma, who reanimated, folded them with origami-like precision and sent them after her briefcase and shoes. Finally, his upper torso was bare, displaying a truly impressive rack of muscles, marred here and there with a twisting scar.
Jinn flexed for a moment or two, those muscles twisting obediently around each other. There was something lying on the seat beside him, and he stroked it for a second: an enormous sword, glittering and razor-sharp. He made to pick it up, then instead made a noise, half rumble, half sigh, before speaking aloud:
Padma continued to smile,
gaze even more rapturously into the depths of infinity..
“She was bright, quick and highly receptive. She would be useful. Recruitment would be easy.”
Jinn grunted, and waved again. Padma swiveled to a new control panel close at hand: a collection of buttons and knobs under a monitor. She typed and twisted with smooth mechanical speed, never looking at what she was doing, never making a mistake.
Bursts of static, as a signal reached its way around the world..
Finally, something. Another monitor lit up, this one near Jinn. Only, it showed a dark space, revealing nothing. Padma’s hands dropped back to rest. An even darker shape loomed up amidst the shadows, tall and thin and as sharp as Jinn’s sword. A voice echoed from hidden speakers, cold and relentless as a glacier.
Padma’s eyes fluttered for a second, showing only whites.
“Sir.” Jinn did not fumble or look away, but cords showed in the backs of his hands. “The project has been terminated.”
“And the peasants?”
You never knew who might be listening in..
“‘L’ has been suitably chastised. The others..”
“As instructed, the ones who showed a modicum of talent have been compensated and discharged.”
Somehow, it was possible to see the shadow narrow its eyes, black deeper than all the rest..
“You perhaps think I have acted rashly?”
Jinn spoke so stiffly he looked like he was carved out of wood.
“L’s failure was manifold. But I am informed..” A carefully deliberate glance in Padma’s direction... “That ‘S’ could easily be recruited. Perhaps with the.. proper motivation, she can still-”
“No.” A very terminal word, swung like a headman’s axe. “She, or even the other.. ”
“G.” The most refined and subliminal of sneers. “They may some day be of some further small use. L was the best choice, and, as expected, he was not enough. My time runs short. Fortunately, an opportunity has presented itself.”
“I shall be at Location 23. Join me there.”
The monitor flashed off.
Jinn leaned back in the seat a little further, his hand automatically reaching out and finding the sword’s handle again.
With his free hand, he snapped his fingers, and Padma activated again.
Crawled forward and helped him relax, just a bit more.
The room was low-ceilinged, with walls that shimmered and endlessly curved back in on themselves. Elegant clusters of candles swirled here and there, producing incense which further blurred the room’s dimensions.
There were two women. One was kneeling on the thickly-padded floor: she was black, intensely black, with long hair woven into a complicated pattern. She wore a garment that was half sleek bikini, half ragged slave-toga. Her hands floated aimlessly in front of her, as if she was submerged deep under water.
The other woman loomed over her. She was of Chinese descent, tall for a woman, and slender, her jade-green silk dress dropping sleekly to the floor. She wore a single piece of jewelry, a thin silvery band around one wrist, set in turn with a single small emerald. Her fingernails were long and golden; they shimmered in the candlelight, in particular the one she was slowly waving back and forth in front of the black woman’s wide, unblinking eyes.
“Now then, Princess Adannaya. Tell me. How do you.. feel?”
The kneeling woman jerked, as if she had been pulled by a line, but no words came out of her mouth. She repeated the movement. Again. And again.
The Chinese woman stroked a pattern on the princess’s brow.
“You may speak.”
“I feel very well, Mistress.” Soft, flat, utterly earnest.
“No more.. doubts?” The waving finger flicked, and the princess spasmed, never blinking.
“No, Mistress! I have only clarity and purpose.”
“I shall cease my childish frivolities. I shall return to Buranda. I shall take my place as ruler of my people. I shall let nothing stand in my way.” For a second, her hands turned to claws, slashed at the air. She jerked again, two, three times. “Thank you, Mistress.”
This emerald wristband began to vibrate, buzzing just at the edge of hearing. The wearer gave an equally-noiseless snort of annoyance. Adannaya continued, unhearing.
“Your guidance. Your wisdom. I owe you everything. I owe you my life I owe you my nations wealth my mind my soul-”
Another slashing gesture in the air, this one gold-tinged, millimeters from the princess’ eyes.
The princess cut off in mid-syllable, and toppled sideways, her eyes even wider and blanker than before. She did not go all the way to the floor, but listed there, her hands still floating.
The green woman stalked away without a backwards glance. A door opened before her, closed behind her. She was in a corridor, spartan
and angular. Another Chinese woman was waiting there for her, much shorter, with black hair to her shoulders and wearing a short green dress which revealed most of her bare legs and feet. She bowed, nervously.
“Yesss, Zhen?” Madam Li extended her hands, and Zhen began efficiently removing the golden “fingernails”, which were actually held in place around Madam Li’s fingertips with small loops. They then went into a small box bolted to the wall.
“I know you did not wish to be disturbed, but a message has come in on your Private channel. And you told me-”
“Yes, yes.” Madam Li waved her no-longer-glittering hand. “It was expected. I will attend to it.”
“And here is the GeosynchCo Report which you desire.” A folder was gingerly extended.
“Ah. Yes.” Li took the offering. “You may go.”
Zhen bowed and fled.
Li went down the corridor until she came to a plain unlabelled metal door. She placed a fingertip on the waiting scanner, spoke a word, and the door slid open. Beyond was a rounded space just large enough for a low but comfortable chair and a wide viewing screen. She arranged herself in the seat, skimmed rapidly through the report, and allowed herself a small triumphant smile. Putting it aside, she tapped at the controls build into the arms of the chair.
The screen came to life. This time there were no shadows; encryption is easier when not beamed from a moving car. Still there was the occasional spurt of static across the man on the screen, symbols dancing around the edges. Robed. Seated on a steel throne chased with golden dragons. Tall, thin to the point of being skeletal, the sharp planes of his face surrounding his black bottomless eyes. Young and ancient. He spoke.
“You have read the dossier.”
“If you refer to Miss Hollister, yes. I have.” She smiled. “I find it amusing that you are able to so easily gain access to her vacation paperwork, and not her precious computers.”
“Can you achieve the desired results?” Cold, flat and dead.
“You know that it.. agonizes.. me to disappoint you, Doctor, but to execute this assignment.. I would have to risk traveling to America, taking with me much of what I need... and your dossier indicates she is a fanatical enemy of cyber-terrorism. Fanaticism is of course a two-edged sword, and can be.. used, but the psychological analysis strongly suggests she is not a natural hypnotic somnambulist. If I were to agree, I would have but five days to turn her into a trance slave so obedient to your will she would betray her great life mission...”
Doctor Fang waited, showing not even a sliver of emotion.
“Still. It is.. possible. But with only five days, it will not be permanent; any moderately competent...” A wave of her hand... “mind-meddler will be able to undo the process in a few weeks. Perhaps this is why you are not undertaking this procedure yourself? I believe you are not unskilled in this particular area...”
“I have other concerns.”
“Of course. Very well. I will do as you ask, but my fee will be triple the usual amount.”
“Of course. When you are finished, you will bring Miss Hollister to me. For personal inspection and payment.”
“But that will mean... traveling to America yourself... perhaps that is not..”
“I will be waiting at Location 23.”
The screen went dark.
Saturday afternoon. Gretchen cracked open the door of her town house, and peered outside. Then she took a deep self-chastising breath and flung the door open wide. She was wearing tennis shorts and flip flops instead of her normal business suit, and she didn’t care who knew it!
Also, there was no one in sight, so she didn’t really have to test that hypothesis.
She headed for her TMW sedan, parked its usual slot on the street.
It wasn’t like she had anywhere she wanted to go, but.. the weather was better today, she had been going stir crazy and had decided to go for a drive.. around in a circle, most likely, but that was better than doing it in her living room...
As she.. flip-flopped.. along, she noted that all the cars had some garish advertising flyer stuck under their wipers. She reached the TMW, and yep, she had been graced with one as well. The depths of her boredom were such that instead of just crumpling it up, she actually paused to read the lettering splashed across the blue and green cover:
ANNOUNCING THE GRAND OPENING OF SUZIE’S TRAVEL!!!
Gretchen opened the flyer, and blinked as a light waft of.. some scent.. tickled at her nose; she sniffed again, and decided it was supposed to be ‘tropical suntan oil’ or something similar, but it mostly made her eyes water. Even after blinking them clear, all she saw at first was a confused jumble. She then realized what the problem was, and rotated the piece of paper 90 degrees. This turned the object into a striking poster for some place called “Cara Del Est” located on, evidently, some island called San Lorenzo. There was a list of supposed attractions (Full Free Internet Access! was the one which caught her eye, along with a Historical Bicycle Factory!) but her attention was mostly drawn to the main artwork, a beautiful stylized beach painting, sand, sea, a few palm trees... In the middle a blonde woman with long braided hair not unlike Gretchen’s stretched out in the sand in a bikini; under a wide-brimmed hat her head was tilted so she was looking up at the sun. The sun was made of some sort of gold/sparkly reflective material and was especially eye-catching; it had shimmered as she had turned the paper. She twisted the paper some more. Were there words there? Or a face...?
5501 Duston was just in the next street over..
There was no way she was going to the Caribbean, but...
It was something to do...
She should go and check it out..
She started off down the sidewalk, still puzzling over the Sun.
Unnoticed, behind her, an anonymous brown van loitered by the curb. It cracked open a window, just enough to allow for the poking out of a thin metal rod. Veins unfolded, and the resulting grillwork was waved about.
All of the other flyers crumbled silently to dust.
Gretchen arrived at 5501; it was, she realized, a rather drab low-slung building she had driven by a hundred times without noticing. There was a small rather temporary-looking sign in the window saying, yes: SUZIE’S TRAVEL, and another even smaller one saying OPEN.
Speaking of which, remember, don’t sign anything...
She opened the door. A delicate chime tinkled somewhere, and she caught another whiff of the flyer-scent, only stronger, and rather more pleasant. Upon actually entering, she was surprised, and somehow delighted, to see that beach scene in the flyer had been blown up into a huge wall-covering display. The sun was made of the same strange reflective material, or.. maybe not.. there was some sort of light behind it.. and it was slowly turning... yes.. there were words there... and a face... and actual warmth..
Her toe tapped against something, and, startled, Gretchen looked down. A low flat box, or framework had been constructed out of wood, and filled with fine golden sand, again, the same color as the painting. It sparkled almost as much as the Sun...
She didn’t realize she’d drifted so close..
And there was the sound of waves, sloshing, back and forth..
The only thing missing was the blonde woman in the bikini...
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
Her reverie broken, Gretchen turned and found the source of that silky voice: a woman in a stylish business skirt/suit combo. Wearing a pair of delicate gold glasses. Blonde, even more so than Gretchen. And short; even in high heels, Gretchen had almost a whole head’s worth of height on her..
“I, um, came to find out about this Cara Del Est.” Gretchen waved the flyer. “I’m... maybe looking for a quick get-away.” She returned to looking at the display..
At the Sun..
The travel agent smiled and nodded “Of course! It is by far the best vacation we offer!” She had a faint accent, vaguely.. Slavic? “And I do love their advertising! In fact..” She cast a sly, rather theatrical, glance.. “Do you want to know what I do when nobody’s around?”
“Uh.. I th-”
Before Gretchen could get any further, the travel agent kicked of her heels with a girlish giggle.
She was not wearing stockings.
She padded past Gretchen and stepped into the display. She turned and with a charming smile. The Sun surrounded her head like a halo. She spread her arms. “C’mon! Give it a try!” After a brief hesitation, Gretchen laughed and kicked off her flip flops and stepped onto the sand.
It was wonderfully soft and warm.
She curled her toes against it, and the Scent came, ten times stronger than before, rising up from the sand.
And the Sun was spinning, faster and faster...
Gretchen began to sway as her gaze completely fixed on the light.
The travel agent’s bubbliness drained away like a plug had been pulled behind her face. She stood waiting, watching Gretchen intently. After a minute or two, she very gently took one of the other woman’s arms and checked her pulse. Satisfied, she stepped off of the sand. She marched to the front door and locked it. She took down both of the signs from the window, and closed the shutters and drapes. This heightened the effect of the golden sun, which was now the only light source in the room.
The agent looked at the sun herself for a moment.. swayed for a moment.. then padded to a desk and pushed an intercom button.
“All is ready.”
A few moments later, Madam Li emerged from a back room. The travel agent fell to her knees and gazed up at her mistress, an expression of blissful devotion filling her face as a new plug was rammed home...
“You have done well, Ivanna.”
Madam Li paused and allowed the spasm of pleasure to pass through her slavegirl’s body before she continued.
“Now go and prepare for the next phase of your new sister’s education.”
Ivanna rose and scurried from sight.
Madam Li walked to the display, her nose barely registering familiar scent. She had worked with it so long, she had developed a complete tolerance.
She was standing behind Gretchen.
She began to caress the American woman’s temples and cheeks, taking care to never block her view of the golden sun.
In a near whisper she began, timing her words to the rhythm of the Sun and the Waves:
“The Sun shines. Do you see it, Gretchen?”
“It is beautiful, is it not?”
“Yes.. so beautiful...”
“It feels so pleasant.. to watch it spin... and shine..”
She moved Gretchen’s unresisting head back and forth.
“So very pleasant. It will be... painful.. when it sets.”
Gretchen made a noise, surprise and pain.
“But at Cara Del Est.. the sun never sets. Cara Del Est is... paradise.”
“Yes. And it is meant for a special few... would you like to go there, Gretchen?”
“I... yes. Vacation? More than anything... I want to go.”
“Then we will begin. Listen to the waves, and the sound of my voice. Listen and gaze into the Sun, let all else fade from your perception.
My voice….the sun.
My voice ….the sun.”
“..the Sun.. the Waves.. your Voice.. ”
“Yes.. and so the journey begins. And so the journey ends. You are on the beach at Cara Del Est.”
Gretchen blinked. Just once. It was painful to blink, to look away from the Sun. Instead of a box of sand, she was standing on a pristine golden beach.
Small Waves of warm surf lapped about her bare feet.
Her tennis shorts and blouse were gone, replaced by the threads of a bikini.
And at the center of it all..
Bigger and brighter than ever before, spinning faster...
A tear of happiness rolled down her cheek, and a gentle hand wiped it away.
“It’s so.. Thank you! Thank you! Th-”
“Shh... no thanks are necessary.
So long as you listen and obey my voice…you will enjoy pleasures beyond imagining.
Now Gretchen. Look into the sun. Look deeper, and ever deeper.”
Gretchen stared. The Voice was right. The Voice was always right. The Sun went down and down and down..
doesn’t go down at all, does it, Gretchen?”
“Yes! No!” Gretchen spoke in purest wonder. “It goes UP!”
“Yess. Up.. and up.. and up..”
“And there are.. there are layers!”
Layers spinning against layers, faster than light, so slow they were going backwards..
Gretchen began to pant.
“I can’t.. It’s too.. please!”
“Shhh. You are doing very well. You are doing perfectly. You are in Cara Del Est. Just relax, and listen to my voice, and only to my voice.”
“Yes. Go deeper, Gretchen. Deeper into the Sun. Deeper and deeper.”
The layers all spun and didn’t spin, backwards and forwards and inside out...
“You are deeper now, Gretchen.”
“Yes. I am much deeper now.”
“What do you see Gretchen?”
“I.. a face. I can’t.. is it your face?”
“Silly Gretchen. You already know my face.”
And she did. The Voice’s face was.. an Asian woman, under a tight helmet of jet-black hair. Features carved from ivory, delicate yet strong.
And emerald eyes..
Gretchen smiled radiantly.
“I know your face. You are Madam Li.”
“You are.. You are my Mistress. I hear only your Voice.”
“But..” Gretchen’s arms rose up, she couldn’t stop them, they reached out, yearning, the tears running freely. “..the other Face! The Real Face, Mistress!”
Sharp, razor sharp, and eyes..
“I.. can’t see it! And I must see it! I must see it. I must see him. I.. I must love him! Please, Mistress!”
“Shhh. I will help you, Gretchen. We will see the True Face. The man whose eyes are the Sun. Together. And we will learn.. and unlearn... much in the process. Go deeper, Gretchen Hollister. Go much much deeper, a thousand times deeper, and listen only to my voice...”
Gretchen’s smile cracked crazily clear across her face.
“Yes Mistress. Thank You Mistress!”
There were no windows, but out beyond the thick stone walls, the snows eternally howled and lashed at the rocks.
Doctor Fang brooded on his steel throne amidst the shadows he had woven, his fingers steepled. Screens flickered around him, showing a blonde government programmer being systematically brainwashed into absolute mental slavery, showing scenes around the world, showing the stars spinning overhead.
It was irksome.
From the moment he had realized his destiny, he had striven mightily to purge himself of every last weaknesses of the flesh, to be ruled by intellect alone, as cold as the wastes which surrounded him here at the top of the world.
He was looking forward to this. Not to Gretchen Hollister, that techno-peasant was a pawn to be pushed to her proper place across the board. Not even to the Y2K plot that she would help, in her small way, to put into motion.
But to meeting with Madam Li in person.
There were things that could not be discussed across countries and continents, not even with the best of encryption.
There were.. certain fictions.. it was useful to maintain.
He stroked a control, and the largest screen filled with a recording: a tall Chinese woman, kneeling, clad in scraps of green silk, her eyes blank and rapturous as a single candle burned and she silently mouthed a mantra over and over.. He allowed himself a few moments viewing, then turned it off, turned them all off, rolled them back up out of sight.
He touched another control, summoning his minions.
His hour approached.
His millennium approached.
None would stand in his way. Not even Commander Amazing..
To be continued?
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story pageAll contents © FMCU and Voyer, 2008