After you finished your work, when you logged in and said hi on your Discord server, all your friends replied at once. They seemed to have been waiting for you. And you noticed, with surprise, that each of them was posting, in their own words, basically the same message.
They were all saying: You have to see it.
Mapster Person: This new spiral is truly mind fucking!
Jig [they/it]: its true mo, it blew me mind ajsdfbjhgsdfyg
Mapster Person: Right? It’s amazing, Mo!
Ditta [she/her]: You know what they always say, you’ll never be the same again, blah blah blah? It’s true!
Vue: Jig is right! Not only ajsdfbjhgsdfyg, it’s kdshghguawuhbv even lmao
You were intrigued (what was it with the swarm, were they all pranking you?) but also more than a little dismissive. The joke, if it was a joke, was terribly lame. Only old friends remained on your server; everyone had nursed their kinks in plain view of the rest, everyone had watched too much bad porn, everyone had read too many terrible MC stories —but this was a new low. It was worse than the “subliminal” GIFs or the “cursed audiofiles guaranteed to destroy your mind” that some, from time to time, still brought from Twitter, or even from Tumblr…
Iguanar: Really Mo, you get turnd into a mindless puppet. Perfect bliss!!!!
Also, this was one of your bad days. You felt the oppression inside your head that was a sign of the dark thoughts. All other emotions existed in their shadow. Instead of really paying attention to the persons that still liked you and even loved you right there, on the other side of the screen, you were remembering Maggie.
On the server, she went by uwuska. She was a pastry chef who lived somewhere in California and one day, after an argument, had ghosted everyone and never posted again or replied to your DMs. No other server regular had ever known her given name. She and you had spent so many hours messaging, talking on VC, playing. You also had met at munches, at cons, once in your apartment, and one other time near an overpass outside Annapolis: room 431, twelve hours and a couple of minutes, from a black midnight to a steel-blue midday.
You guys really have nothing to do, do you?, you typed, tagging Nonorm, the IT supervisor, who was one of the oldest members of the server, married with kids, and supposedly more level-headed than the rest.
You heard a noise and raised your head. It was nothing: the air conditioner was starting again. You looked over the little walls of your cubicle and saw nothing but more cubicles. The office floor was probably empty. It was night already. You could see the lights beyond the windows. Your boss thought you were a workaholic, but you usually stayed in the office this late only to watch and read porn, edge a little (in the bathroom: you were much less daring than in your twenties) and chat. There was no Wi-Fi to speak of around your apartment. When someone found you out you would be fired, maybe.
In the meantime, it wasn’t as if anyone was home, waiting for you, either.
Judy loved it, too, Nonorm replied, tagging you.
It was the first time Nonorm mentioned their spouse's name. You didn’t even know she was a woman.
You showed her this… thing?, you typed.
You started to write another sentence but didn’t finish it.
You’re always telling us you have to hide your ‘perversions’ from her.
You selected the letters you had typed (up to telling us you) and deleted them.
Everyone on the server used the word “perversions” jokingly, of course, and especially so when talking to Nonorm, who always came across as uptight and repressed. And everyone would have understood, had you used the word. What had made them, of all people, suddenly throw all caution to the winds both online and at their own home?
What do you mean?, Nonorm replied, tagging you again and adding a smiling emoji. Are you referring
The phrase was incomplete.
You waited for a few seconds.
You raised your fingers, moving them towards the keyboard, but before you could reach it an alert appeared on the bottom of the screen (Nonorm is typing…). Then a new string of words appeared:
to the fact that I’m always telling she’s not kinky? Yes. But now I can say… she wasn’t.
Huh?, you typed.
She changed, Motoko. She changed!
uwuska [she/her]: I was there, Mo!
You stared at your screen, open-mouthed.
uwuska [she/her]: Hiiiiii, and then hearts, spirals, cute faces, more spirals.
Uwu?????, you typed. You forgot to tag her.
uwuska [she/her]: I mean I was here and NoNo told me. It was AWESOME Mo! A complete
Another incomplete phrase. You were feeling unreal, like a character from a dream who suddenly discovered they didn’t exist. Had you somehow missed uwuska’s return to the server? Was she lying to you? Was it really her?
With a little effort, you looked away from your screen once more. The reality of your office floor seemed dull, static: not a sea of cubicles, but at least a pond, a pool of unchanging boredom. It was no less hateful or sad than any other day: it was the surface below which there were all your lonely days, your lonely nights, the fact that you felt so badly about yourself that you kept rejecting even the sincerest, safest offers to do, be, try anything with anyone. Vue insisted still, almost every week. Be my sub. Strictly online, they said, no strings attached, no nothing, war of attrition, babe. But it was just a habit, now. A private joke between friends.
(Haven't you thought about going back to therapy, babe?, Vue asked you every fortnight. I still think it helped you the last time. Just for you. Not uwuska. Not the couple. You alone.)
Yet all that dreariness felt soothing to you now, somehow different, safer than —what was it? What was this? What was Maggie doing here again? How had the others found her, apologized to her, recruited her to —whatever this was?
reversal! Beliefs, values, everything!, Maggie had typed.
You should try it @Motoko Puppet (she/her), typed Mapster, writing your full screen name and tagging you as well. The name came from an old movie: it hinted at your age but you usually didn’t care that much. Now it made you feel nervous.
Give it a try Motoko!, typed Ditta.
You will love it Motokoooo!!!!, typed Maggie. I fpound it you know? That's why i came back.
You blinked and, having thought of nothing better, asked her, What did you find?
The spiral, Mo! That's why I looked for everyone else. I tried reaching you fi
You imagined something absurd, ridiculous.
Nonorm and Maggie at their homes, or wherever they were, typing their phrases and suddenly stopping, as if someone had flipped their on/off switches or made them drop with a trigger.
rst but you weren't here earlier. (If you're having trouble with your connection at home you must watch it NOW)
Vue: Says it is the original spiral.
You too, Vue?
Who says that Vue?, you typed.
Oh, come on.
What the fuck is this game you’re playing?, you thought. You didn’t type it.
You wanted to believe this was an elaborate, stupid prank to somehow celebrate Maggie’s return. Maybe. They were worried about you. They knew how you were feeling. They knew how much time had passed since your breakup and those horrible first months, before the wound became numb…
The others are imitations, approximations, Vue typed. But it is better.
made for us!!, Jig added. us hypnokinkies
Ditta [she/her]: There’s a fuckton of other things and shapes that are being given to other people, but this one is for us.
You were regretting your response as you were typing it:
Okay, I’ll bite. Show me the thing. I’ll let it break my mind and everything.
uwuska (she/her): Coooooooool!!!!!
Ditta [she/her]: Coooooooool!!!!!
Jig [they/it]: Coooooooool!!!!!
Mapster Person: Coooooooool!!!!!
“Oh God,” you said aloud. Your throat felt dry. You took a sip from your cup of lukewarm coffee as a file appeared within a new DM from Maggie. Before it, there was a small text line with today’s date. You hadn’t received anything from her in —wow— three years!
It has an explanation for everything. See it NOW!, the message read. Love —uwuska
So your last words —the last words of that person, that slightly sad, boring and bored person that was you— were “Oh, God”. Really appropriate.
You had read so many stories with the same plot point. The hapless victim, the jaded victim, the stunned or terrified victim, all of them ended up looking at the spiral on the screen sooner or later. All of them were destined to fall into trance and be reprogrammed, conditioned, whatever. They could notice, or they could not notice, but the reader always knew, and could start to feel aroused even then, anticipating the delights to come. Some people imagined themselves being taken over, others enjoyed the taking of someone else.
Still others thought the whole concept was silly, but you liked the idea of the spiral. It was simple, elegant: a symbol of a power you could give yourself to easily. You only needed to give your attention, your obedience, and you received pure, luminous mindlessness. So you had gone beyond the stories and played many times, looking at everything from GIF files to AI generated animations, with or without help. Just out of high school, you even had your phase of receiving spirals and degrading texts from horny idiots online. You knew what falling into trance felt like when focusing on an image of infinity. What was it like to fix your eyes on a vanishing point, always receding, trying to tease some meaning from it.
No spiral was as powerful, no effect as permanent as those described in fiction. But having a kink was already chasing a fantasy, running towards a moving ideal, ever out of reach.
At first, you looked at the square image and you thought it wasn’t even a spiral. There seemed to be no curves, no circles. Zones of white crossed zones of black and each zone was roughly the same shape as any other. But what was that shape? Did it have a name? You couldn’t have described it. And when the image started moving, it was too late.
This was the mother of all spirals. A different concept, that predated all of them and could not really be contained or imitated. It wasn’t seducing you: it took your mind and never let it go again. You didn’t feel a connection, a soft stream of power coming from the object to you; instead, your brain felt in the grip of a hand made of steel, infinitely strong and haughty. Something that was not a voice offered to guide you. To help you get hypnotized. But it was a cruel joke, because you were already in trance, in a state beyond any possible trance. And you were incapable of accepting or rejecting anything. The constant movement of your own mind had ceased forever. In many respects, you were dead.
You were smiling.
You were feeling how some of your very last thoughts —This doesn't explain anything, Margaret! This has nothing to do with us! Why did you leave? Why are you back now?— were dying inside you, burning away, disappearing forever.
You, or at least your mouth, said yes, of course, please guide me.
And now you’re still sitting in the same chair, in front of the same desk and the same cup of cold coffee. Staring at the same screen. The same beautiful curves, black and white and black and white and—
You`re staring, transfixed. You’re aroused. You’re drooling through your open mouth. You’re rubbing yourself with one hand. But it’s the spiral, not you, who acts through your body and what remains of a mind inside it. It may be just a whim, an empty fancy, or it may be part of a ritual: an utterance of flesh and time you were never meant to comprehend, completely unrelated to human desire.
You’re still smiling: a vacant, stupid grin. Just like the one you made or saw thousands of times. The last thing your old, dead self could think, before being annihilated, was that it didn’t mind that much. No one would miss something as small and pathetic. Not even Motoko Puppet [she/her]. And the new identity within your body knows that there’s a task to come, something better than old depressed Mo could have ever conceived. It will begin after every possible person has been recruited by the spiral and the many other messengers like it already in the world. And that will be a serious task.
However, you —whatever you are now— are keeping the pretense. The spiral told you to rub. The spiral has denied you permission to cum. Your friends have gone away, their mission accomplished. The spiral, it says, controls you. The spiral, you say, owns you. You obey. You chase the center of the spiral and the pleasure at your core.
Your mind is now completely destroyed and rearranged by the spiral. But a part of your new mind is repeating the phrase My mind is now completely destroyed and rearranged by the spiral. It’s like someone else is watching you fall and submit, and you have to keep acting for them.
“Uuuuu,” you say, as a mindless, violated puppet, and your smile gets even wider, more vacant, more stupid. And your new self starts to coalesce inside, but no one can see it yet. And the Conquest continues.