He seemed like a nice guy.
As I was getting settled on the plane, the man in the next seat helped me put my carryon in the overhead. He kept his elbows to himself and later offered me the chocolate from his snack box.
I laughed at that, and told him I had plenty of chocolate already. That's why the carryon was so heavy; I was headed to a big confectioners conference with my samples.
So we chatted about the bean-to-bar process for a while -- until the air turbulence hit. I don't handle it well, and this was a rough one. I could see the wings flexing. I went clammy all over, gripped the seat tight, and closed my eyes.
"I'm sorry," I said. "I just have to ride this out."
"I might be able to help," he said. "I know a self-relaxation technique."
"Anything," I said. "This is misery."
"Put one hand on your tray table, open your eyes, and stare at your thumbnail... very closely. That's it. Focus just there. Don't let it get away."
And then he started talking to my body, guiding my muscles to let go their tension. His voice was so smooth and soothing. First he told my feet to relax, then my ankles, then my thighs, working his way slowly up my body.
I don't recall exactly when I stopped paying attention, but my mind definitely wandered away for a long time. From time to time I thought I heard him still talking.
I didn't wake fully until the wheels were touching down in San Francisco.
"That was amazing! It worked so well! I feel refreshed, even. How did you do that?"
"Bit of a professional skill, I admit. I'm a therapist."
"It almost seemed like hypnosis."
He chuckled. "Well, it *was* hypnosis. That's what I do. I'm a hypnotherapist. Hi, I'm Dr. George." He handed me his card. Deep Minds Hypnosis, it said.
Normally I would have just thanked him at that point, pulled my own bag down, marched off the plane, and gotten on with my day. I did have chocolate to promote.
But something made me linger alongside him, as we left the plane. I think it was his voice. I wanted to hear more of it.
As we passed a coffee place, I made up an excuse to stop in. "I want to ask you more about hypnosis before I let you get away. It fascinates me."
We grabbed our drinks and found a corner table.
"Thank you again for saving me from the airsick bag. But I have this nagging feeling that we kept talking, while I was out of it. Does that make sense?"
He smiled. "You're not mistaken. While you were away, I had a long chat with your subconscious."
"I do hypnosis a little differently from what you see on TV or at the county fair. After I connect with your deepest mind, your subconscious, I try to get to know her better. I learn what she does for you, learn about your needs. Hypnosis only works well if she and I are allies."
"Allies in what? What did you talk about?"
He was watching me carefully.
"Turns out your subconscious is intrigued by hypnosis. She told me you had some interest in really deep control of your life, and she has wondered whether hypnosis is the path to get you there."
I froze. Had he been reading my mind?
"I understand she's been nudging you lately to check out hypnotic submission."
Fuck. He really had been inside my head. This was getting out of hand.
"That's nice," I tried to sound frosty. "But mindless, drooling zombie is not exactly what I had in mind."
A guy at the next table looked up at us, then looked away.
Dr. George lowered his voice.
"Oh, it's so much more than that. When I'm working with your subconscious, I can control what you see, what you feel, even what you do. I'm bursting to show you, but this isn't the place."
He looked around.
"Here, just a quick, quiet example."
He picked up a napkin, unfolded it, and dangled it like a curtain around his iced coffee.
"Poof," he said. "My drink disappears."
He raised the napkin and ... the glass was gone. All I could see was a damp ring on the tabletop.
He lowered the napkin again. "It's back." He lifted the curtain and, it had returned.
He pointed to the glass.
"Pink." The coffee was pink.
"Green." It was green.
"Normal," and it was.
He was moving too fast for me to process any of this.
When I got my voice back, I just whispered, "Magic?"
"Not magic. It's all happening in your mind. It's happening beyond your conscious control."
"This is when I'm supposed to ask you about my free will."
"Ehhh, I'm not sure there is such a thing. Your conscious mind thinks it's all-important, but ... it's not really in charge."
Again, normally, at this point in a conversation? I should have made my excuses.
In fact, I was just trying to work out how to disengage, when he made his move.
"You're really good at this. I'd enjoy exploring it with you, if you're interested."
Inside, I felt a giant tug, in his direction.
And that is how I found myself, on a warm September evening, on the San Francisco waterfront, sitting halfway up a big bank of concrete bleachers, with a mind-reading man I’d met a few hours earlier.
On my walk over from my hotel, I had found myself wondering what this subconscious of mine had blabbed to him. I'm strong and successful, but have often wished for vacations from responsibility. I'd love it if someone else could just take the wheel occasionally, tell me what to do, and maybe use me hard.
But I've learned not to reveal all that, certainly not before the first date. Had he somehow unlocked my secrets without my knowing it?
And why did that attract me?
I kept telling myself I was here out of curiosity; this man was clever. But I also suspected it was more than that. He had a particularly intense gleam in his eye. And a powerful magnetic hum in his voice. Some part of me was already pivoting toward him.
On the waterfront, at this hour, we had a private view of the dark, lapping waves.
Almost private. There *were* a few people scattered around when we arrived and sat down. But he pointed a finger at each of them, said "Zap," and they flickered. And disappeared.
He pointed a finger at his head. "Zap." My awareness flickered, and now he was wearing a wizard's hat. Pointed at his crotch. "Zap." Awareness flickered. He had lost his pants. Pointed at me. "Zap." Awareness flickered. My sweatshirt and bra were gone.
I'm no prude, but I had to pause a few seconds, to remind myself that I wasn't really topless in public, that he was just really good at these illusions. How good? I could feel the night air on my boobs.
"So do you bring all your girlfriends out here?" I was still trying to hold my own ground.
He looked out at the bay, then back to me.
"I've met a lot of subconsciouses. Yours is especially aware and adept. I want to make sure you realize how much control you can give up -- and imagine how else that control might be used."
I spread my arms. "Why stop now? Go for it."
He went straight to work.
"OK, so by now you know I can control what you see. Or rather, I can tell your deepest mind what to let you see.
"Now the rest of your body. I can control how it moves. Or doesn't move."
He picked up my left hand, tapped the palm, and said, "Velcro." He tapped the top of my head. "Velcro." He slapped my hand against my head.
It ... stuck there.
I could move it, very slightly, but not far. With my free hand, I peeled each finger away from my hair, and eventually pulled the trapped hand free.
"Hah," I said.
He grabbed both hands, slapped them across my mouth, and said, "Glued. The harder you try to pull them away, the tighter they're stuck."
I reflexively pulled my hands away -- wait. I thought I did. I sent the command. But nothing moved.
I felt humiliated and ... hot. I swore, in a muffled way.
He grinned in a juvenile way and left my hands in place. He pointed at my feet now.
"You feel ropes around your ankles, pulling them sideways, pulling your legs apart."
I crossed my legs at the ankles, trying to thwart him. But the tugging was insistent, my knees were pulled apart, and eventually my legs snapped into a nice vulnerable V presentation.
The analytical part of me was thinking that a bondage fiend could save a lot of money on rope this way. The other part of me was imagining what would happen if Dr. George decided to assault me right here and now. I couldn't do a thing to stop him.
"Now let's talk about sensations," he said, marching on.
He reached down and slid his hands along my thighs, just below my shorts. I noticed how smoothly his hands glided over my skin.
"What's important to understand is that sensations are just a signal, a report of touch. What meaning you attach to that touch... is up to your mind to decide.
"This is warm," he said, watching me carefully as he ran his hands along my legs. "Warm, yes?" It was, slightly, like sunshine.
I just nodded.
"Now this is warmer," he said. Same sliding movement, but damn, this time it felt like a comfortable bath.
"Now this is hot." Jesus! My legs burned. I tried to jerk away from him, but my tied ankles resisted movement. I squealed beneath my hands.
"And now it's cold," he quickly said. I jerked even harder; it felt like a bucket of ice water had been poured in my lap.
He freed my hands from my mouth. "Thanks," I gasped. I tried to get my breathing under control.
He moved my hands to my breasts, where they were, again, stuck. I was glad that no one was watching this.
"What temperature would you like on your breasts?" he asked.
"Um, warm? Warm!"
Immediately, somehow, warmth radiated from my hands, flowing into my chest. It felt comforting.
"And now, tingly," he said. I have no idea how to describe that. Hot, cold, sparkly, all at once, all over my breasts. My nipples snapped to attention and stayed erect.
He released my hands, released my legs, sat down beside me and cuddled me for a bit.
"This is really intense," I told him, my face tucked against his chest. "Thank you for intermission."
I may have drifted there for moment; I sat up with the sense that once again he'd been talking without my really hearing him.
Out of the blue, he snapped his fingers. Best I can say is that I sensed a shift inside my mind.
"Spread your hands out in front of you. I want you to count your fingers, one at a time."
OK, what could go wrong here?
"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. "
"Hang on. That's not right."
I tried again.
"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 ... 11."
"So, you have 11 fingers?"
"Yes. I didn't used to, but now I do."
Then he took away my middle name. Crap. It was just a blank space.
My mind felt suddenly untethered, shaky. I was suspicious of my sensations, unsure of my words, not sure whether I really was sitting on these steps having my mind folded like origami.
I didn't want to show him how badly he'd rattled me, but when he offered to return my missing memories, I just said, "Please, please."
And when he did return the number 6? I admit I squirted a bit. I like smart guys, I know smart guys, but this one's brain had just pinned mine down.
All of this was just a warmup to the big fireworks finale. He started messing with my arousal.
He counted up to 10 ... and I came.
He counted up to just 8 ... and I came again.
He counted up to 5, then to 2.
Then he didn't have to count at all. He just said, "Cum."
And I came, as hard as the rest combined.
"In case you wondered, now you know," he said. "It really is possible to orgasm on command."
I was an exhausted, drooling mess at this point, but he had one more trick in mind.
He moved my clit. To the palm of my right hand.
My body and mind clearly were no longer mine at this point. Sure, whatever. My clit is there in my hand. I just stared, waiting for something to happen.
He held my hand up like an oyster shell, raised his eyebrows and stuck out his tongue. And licked my clit like a tiny ice cream cone.
I lost it. I screamed. And screamed again. And rolled around on the steps, shaking uncontrollably.
That's when the cops showed up.
Bright lights played over us.
Behind the flashlights, there were two of them, male and female.
The guy strode up the steps, two at a time, and stood between me and Dr. George.
"We had a report of screams from up here. And then we heard them too, just now. Ma'am, is this man hurting you?"
"No! Not at all." I was sobering up, fast.
"Uh-huh." He was unconvinced. I did look a sweaty mess.
The woman cop said, "Sir, I'm going to ask you to step over here and answer a few questions."
The guy towered over me, legs spread, hands on his belt. For someone who thought I was a victim, he sure barked loudly.
"Where did he touch you?"
"Actually, he didn't, much, at all."
"Ma'am, where did he touch you?"
"Um, he was holding my hand."
He shone his light up and down my arms. "I don't see any bruises. Can you feel where he touched you?"
"Oh god, yes," I said, involuntarily. That was the wrong answer.
"What were you two doing up here?"
"Really, we mostly talked. He mostly talked. And he touched my hand. And it felt really, really good. I guess I was loud?"
He just stared down at me.
"Does that sound as stupid as it sounds?" I asked.
The other one took a little longer grilling Dr. George, and then the two cops stood between us, conferring.
Finally the woman spoke, to both of us.
"Folks, we're going to let you go. But we have a strong recommendation: Get a room."
"Got one, thanks!" I said chirpily, so relieved.
The man rolled his eyes and turned to go.
"Oh, Ma'am, don't forget these," he said, leaning over and picking up my bra and sweatshirt -- BRA and SWEATSHIRT -- from the bench in front of me.
"In San Francisco, we don't care if you're topless, but it does get cold here at night."
I blushed all over, and got dressed.
It struck me in a rush: They must have been off the whole time.
I said nothing until the cops were out of sight.
"You bastard. You seemed like a nice guy!"
He just smirked.