“Wonderful!” Chuckled Sue as she put the mirror back onto her tray. “It is looking lovely in there! You’re doing a great job!”
“Thank you,” mumbled the woman as she looked up from the chair, a look of pure awkwardness painted on her face.
“Oh no, thank you!” Replied Sue, “it is people like you who make my job easy, good dental hygiene is a habit everyone should take seriously.”
“Right,” nodded the woman, obviously at a loss for what to say. However, before she could think of a better response, Sue walked up to her and pulled the sash off.
“We’re good to go!” Grinned Sue as she motioned towards the door. “I’ll call you for a follow up in six months!”
“Okay! Thank you doc!” Nodded the woman as she quickly dashed through the door into the lobby. “I’ll pay now?”
“Oh yes!” Smiled Sue as she went up to a small counter and started to fiddle with a computer and a card reader. “Got any vacation plans?” She asked as she held out the card reader.
“Maybe. I don’t know. I guess?” Mumbled the woman as she tapped her card on the machine, causing it to let out a little beep. “Okay, bye,” blurted the woman as she quickly dashed out of the lobby and out into the street.
“Well,” sighed Sue. “Could just make conversation, I’m a dentist, not the devil.” She let out another heavy sigh and grabbed her phone, quickly opening up her calendar.
She scrolled through it, checking to see what else she had to do that day. But she was shocked to find that she didn’t have another client until tomorrow.
“Well, at least I won’t have to deal with that again,” mumbled Sue as she closed her phone and walked towards the storage cupboard, deciding that she should at least spend her day getting something productive done.
She pulled a bucket and mop out of the cupboard and looked around the room, trying to decide where to start with her cleaning. After a few seconds of planning, Sue rested the mop against the counter and went back to her phone.
She tapped on the screen a few times and music suddenly started to fill the little lobby. “If I’m alone, might as well have music,” smiled Sue as she wandered back over to the mop, humming along to the tune as she did.
Sue grabbed the mop and started to dance around the room, doing her best to make her floor shiny and spotless. Just as the first song faded out, a knock at the door shook Sue from her work.
“Come in!” She smiled as she waved towards the door before turning towards it. To Sue’s surprise, at least ten people were walking into her office. All of them were clad in dark suits and sunglasses.
“Sue Misa?” Asked the woman as she removed her sunglasses.
“I am,” nodded Sue. “Do you need an appointment?”
“We actually want to talk,” replied the woman firmly.
“Well,” started the woman as she reached into her pocket. “We had a brief conversation but we feel a face to face meeting is better for us both,” she continued before suddenly pulling her hand out of her pocket.
Before Sue could react, the thing in the woman’s hand let out a soft hiss as a cool-mist hit Sue in the face.
“What?” Gasped Sue as she tried to work out what was going on. She tried to swat at the woman’s hand. But her head started to spin, it was as if someone had put her office on top of a record player.
Sue stumbled around, trying to find a way to support her body. Her head felt like it was made out of lead, she could hardly keep herself up. It was like gravity was sucking her down into the ground almost like the floor was made out of quicksand.
“Help,” gurgled Sue as she kept stumbling around, her vision blurring as darkness started to encroach on her mind. She fell to her knees and reached up to the woman, desperate for help.
But the woman didn’t react, she just looked down at Sue as she slumped forward, her face making contact with the cool floor. Her eyes fluttering shut as her mind totally gave up and plunged into the abyss.
Sue let out a soft groan as her head throbbed. It felt like she had a hangover and the flu at the same time. She felt drowsy and nauseous as well as horrifically dizzy.
She tried to rub her forehead, however, as she tried to do so she realized that she couldn’t lift her arm. Sue’s eyes quickly opened as she started to frantically look around.
She was in a large white room that was totally devoid of furniture, but she wasn’t exactly sure where that room was. As her eyes came back into focus Sue looked down and realized that she was tied to a metal chair.
She pulled and struggled against her restraints, trying to get out of the chair. However, she was bound too tightly, she couldn’t get the straps to budge an inch.
“Help! Help!” Screamed Sue as she thrashed in the chair. “Help me! Help me!” She continued as her voice echoed back at her, making it sound like the room itself was mocking her terrified cries.
After several minutes Sue’s chest started to sting and her throat started to burn. She stopped screaming, unable to keep it up. As her echo faded into silence Sue started to panic. She had no idea where she was or what she should do.
She sat in the chair for what felt like hours. Her anxiety and fear growing with each passing second. However, just as all seemed lost, a door on the far side of the room opened.
“Please! Please!” Shouted Sue, hoping that the woman would free her. However, the woman merely walked towards the chair, staring a hole through Sue as she did.
Something about her seemed familiar, but Sue couldn’t place her. Her brain was still foggy and muddled that she couldn’t seem to pull up the correct memory.
“Miss Misa? " Asked the woman with a smile.
“Yes?” Whimpered Sue. She looked at the woman’s red hair and formal business shirt as she tried to find some detail that would jog her memory but nothing seemed to help.
“I see you’ve met my friends.” Smiled the woman. “Very efficient though they do lack customer service skills.”
“What did they do to me?” Groaned Sue, her head still foggy and throbbing.
“They just helped you relax. Dealing with important business can be very stressful, I know. So they just helped you be more calm and relaxed.”
“I don’t want to be relaxed, I want to know what is going on!” Shouted Sue as she thrashed again. A sudden rush of adrenaline ran through her body, clearing some of the fog as anger filled her.
“I just wanted to have a meeting with you.” Replied the woman, seemingly unphased by Sue’s anger. “To discuss our campaign.”
The woman reached into her pocket and produced a business card. She held it out towards Sue before quickly laughing to herself. “Oh right, you’re tied up.”
“Yeah?” Blinked Sue.
“Busy day, not enough coffee, you know how it goes,” said the woman as she quickly slipped the card back into her pocket. “I’m Jane Forester, head of marketing for Cleanwright pharmaceuticals.”
“That sounds familiar.” Mumbled Sue before a memory flashed into her head. “You make Brightsparkle toothpaste right?”
“We do!” Smiled Jane. “We make the whole family of Brightsparkle oral hygiene products.”
“You’ve sent me marketing! Yes!” Nodded Sue. “I know some of my patients use your brand!” She continued before remembering the situation she was in. “Wait? Why did you drug me and kidnap me?”
“Well, as per our last meeting, it seems you had issues with our new product.”
“Issues? Wait!” Shouted Sue. “You mean that new super-white toothpaste?”
“Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste, yes.” Nodded Jan. “We gave you a short presentation and several product samples. And asked if you would agree to be a promotional partner for the product.”
“I remember,” nodded Sue. “But that doesn’t explain why you drugged me and tied me to this chair.”
“Well, we feel that you have made an error in judgment. And we would be keen to understand why you don’t wish to be part of this synergistic marketing promotion.”
“Because I don’t really enjoy the whole spokesperson thing. I prefer to focus on my patients.” Smiled Sue, utterly confused by what was going on.
“Other dentists have agreed to our terms. They are more than happy to promote Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste.” Replied Jane.
“I don’t want to.”
“Why don’t you? What about Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste displeases you?” Said Jane as she pushed her nose against Sue’s. “What about Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste, makes you uneasy?”
“I,” mumbled Sue as she tried to look away from Jane’s gaze. “Nothing, it’s just.”
“Just what?” Interrupted Jane. “Please, your feedback is very important to us!”
“Toothpaste is all the same!” Blurted Sue, feeling too anxious to hold back her words. “It is settled science, all of the brands are pretty much the same thing! Sure some may look or smell different but it isn’t like one will have dramatically better outcomes or anything so it seems pretty pointless.”
“I see, I see.” Nodded Jane as she backed off and started to pace around the room.
“I’m sorry,” replied Sue. “I’ve just, never been the type, you know?”
“Never been the type? Never been the type to engage in mutually beneficial marketing and promotion arrangements that interrupt the zeitgeist of the traditional toothpaste marketing duopoly?”
“You make me sick,” growled the woman, her fake smile faltering for a moment before returning bigger than before.
“I’m sorry? How is this my problem?” Blinked Sue as she wiggled in the chair, growing very upset with this woman’s demeanor and her refusal to let her go.
“Because we at Cleanwright pharmaceuticals pride ourselves on being the only toothpaste recommended by ten out of ten dentists. And thus, we can’t have you going around saying that you don’t like Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste!”
“I’m not going around saying I don’t like it! I just said I wouldn’t market it!” Shouted Sue.
“Look at you!” Interrupted Jane. “You can’t shut up about it! Every other sentence is pure, unfounded negativity about our fantastic product! You’re obsessed! I think it is envy!”
“Why would I be envious of a toothpaste brand?”
“Please be quiet and let me talk!” Added Jane. “I’m just trying to explain to you the flaws with your reasoning!”
“How is this a flaw in my reasoning?”
“Because you can’t understand the wonder of Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste, it is a revolution in toothpaste technology! It will give unparalleled whiteness!”
“But I don’t care! I just want to help my patients.” Argued Sue, only to quickly realize that she was still tied down. “This doesn’t excuse your behavior!”
“I just want what is best for you!” Interjected Jane. “I want to help you understand this opportunity!”
“I don’t want to understand! I want to go home!” Shouted Sue as she continued to wiggle in her restraints. Jane turned her back on Sue and walked to the other side of the room, shaking her head softly as she did.
“I can’t let you do that,” muttered Jane.
“I’ll call the police!” Screamed Sue as her heart started to pound.
“We can’t have nine out of ten. Nine out of ten is a failure. We need ten out of ten.” Chuckled Jane. “Cleanwright pharmaceuticals will have ten out of ten, we will accept nothing less.”
“What? You going to hold me here until I agree?” Asked Sue as a shudder ran down her spine.
“Oh no,” replied Jane as she turned around. “We’re going to make you agree.”
“What?” Gasped Sue. “What is wrong with you?”
“Nothing is wrong with me!” Shouted Jane. “I’m just brand loyal!”
“Please let me go,” begged Sue, her fear quickly overwhelming her courage. “We can talk about this, don’t do something you’ll regret.” She continued, as her bottom lip started to quiver.
“I won’t regret helping you make the right choice,” smiled Jane.
“Please, we can talk!” Mumbled Sue as she continued to shake in terror. However, Jane ignored her pleas.
Jane opened up a panel on the wall and started to fiddle with a computer that sat inside the small alcove. The lights dimmed as a soft whirring filled the room.
“What are you doing?! What are you doing?” Shouted Sue as she thrashed in the chair. However, Jane didn’t respond, she simpled closed the wall and walked out of the room.
“Let me out!” Screamed Sue as she looked around the room, desperate to find a way out. However, her restraints refused to budge even an inch.
After a few minutes, the wall in front of Sue illuminated. It looked almost like a cinema projection but on a much smaller scale. Sue glared at it, trying to work out what was going on and how she could escape.
Suddenly, cheesy music started to fill the room. “Cleanwright pharmaceuticals, the trusted brand for over twenty years,” boomed a female voice. “Since our foundation, we’ve been at the forefront of oral hygiene products.”
“I’m not going to watch an ad!” Screamed Sue.
“But sometimes, being the best isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to be better than the best,” continued the voice, not reacting to Sue’s screams. “Sometimes the public needs to be convinced of what they need and thus, Cleanwright pharmaceuticals has been proud to shape the discussion of oral hygiene.”
“I don’t care! I don’t care!” Continued Sue, her voice going hoarse from all the shouting.
“Sometimes, a small push is all that is needed to convince people to take the steps they need to take for whiter, cleaner teeth,” explained the voice in its obviously fake tones.
The illuminated wall transformed into a black and white spiral that seems to have flickering glitches on it, almost like this was being projected off an old reel of film.
“What is this?” Grunted Sue as she looked on with confusion. Her eyes were oddly drawn to the pattern on the wall. Something about it was different, it was strangely mesmerizing even with the odd visual glitches.
“We aim for a synergistic and holistic approach to oral hygiene and brand awareness. Using the latest trends and images to help people understand our mission statement.” Continued the voice. It seemed to be echoing slightly, almost as if it was coming from several places at once.
Sue stared at the pattern as it continued to rotate. It felt like she was falling forward. Almost like the spinning pattern had a gravitational pull. She was also feeling oddly warm and fuzzy, every breath was making it harder and harder to think.
“This is why we ask those who question us, to watch this film and understand why Cleanwright pharmaceuticals are an important voice in the hygiene discussion and why we are important for you and your family.”
“I,” mumbled Sue as she continued to stare. She felt so drowsy, it was like the world was spinning at the same speed as the spiral. It was like she was riding a roller coaster around a big loop.
“You need to understand our purpose. That our purpose is your purpose. We both want what is best for you. We both want you to have a wonderful day and we try to make all of your days wonderful.” Continued the voice, its tone never deviating from its fake happiness.
Sue felt her head slumping forward as she continued to stare into the rotating pattern. She was still spinning around and around and her head was filled with thick fog.
It was at that moment Sue realized she had felt this feeling before. This was exactly how she felt when the woman sprayed that mist into her face.
“Oh,” gasped Sue, her brain taking a few seconds to catch up with itself. If this felt like the mist, did that mean this room was full of it? Sue’s heart rate spiked as she realized it was already too late, she couldn’t deal with one dose of that stuff, let alone a second one.
She tried to struggle, but her muscles were too weak and the spinning had left her far too disoriented to work out a plan any more complicated than mere thrashing.
“This is our goal, to bring you peace of mind. To help you navigate the modern world with your best look. To keep you cool under pressure and to keep your teeth sparkling white. To make you the best woman you can be, you need to accept you are worth it. You are worth the product. You deserve the product.” Droned the voice.
Sue blinked and tried to fight against the gas, but it felt utterly futile. The world was blurry, the only thing she could make out was the spinning projection.
Her eyes were drawn to it, it was the only thing that was staying stable. Trying to focus on any other part of the room made the dizziness worse and made Sue feel nauseous. The spiral, despite its absorbing nature, did at least seem to stay in one place and not constantly drift in and out of focus.
“Are you worth it?” Continued the voice as it echoed in Sue’s brain. “You are worth it! You’re worth the best! You’re worth Cleanwright pharmaceuticals. You deserve Cleanwright pharmaceuticals. Cleanwright pharmaceuticals are what you need.”
Sue groaned as her muscles started to tingle and go numb. She kept losing herself in the spiral pattern. Like she was dropping in and out of sleep every few seconds.
However much she hated to admit it, Sue was slipping. The voice was dancing around in her head and drowning out her thoughts. She didn’t understand what the voice wanted, but she could understand its point. It made sense to her. Beauty was aspirational, people aspired to have better teeth. People aspired to greater beauty. It made perfect sense.
“You want Cleanwright pharmaceuticals to support you in making the right choices for you. You understand that the best choices are made when you listen to the advice of those you trust. And the more you listen, the better your choices are. We know you understand this.”
Sue’s head nodded slowly as her brain continued to fog over. She couldn’t deny that this voice was making sense, she did make her best decisions when she consulted with others.
And the spiral was so pretty, the glitches were more frequent but they were beautiful in their own right. They were proud of their imperfections. They were so confident! They knew their inner-beauty! And that was so inspiring!
“You are so inspired, inspired to be better,” continued the voice. “With us, you can be better, if you let us decide what is best, then we can make you better. You want to be better and we are the way to that. As our founder said, the simplest way to better is via pure obedience and you understand the need to give us your obedience.”
Sue couldn’t stop herself, she softly mouthed the word obedience as she slumped forward, her mind giving up. She had no idea what was going on, but she didn’t care, the spiral stopped the dizziness and that was all she wanted.
The voice was echoing around her mind, and that was okay. She wanted to be her best and right now the patterns and the voice were making her feel better and that meant that they truly wanted what was best for her.
Suddenly Sue fell back, sending her whole body into shock. The chair’s back had reclined almost as if it was a dental chair. Through the blur, Sue could make out Jane’s grinning face hovering above her.
“Isn’t this wonderful?” Cooed Jane. “Are you ready to make the right choice for you?”
Sue wanted to nod in agreement. However, before Sue could reply the spiral pattern appeared above her. It instantly drew her back into its swirling depths.
Once again Sue’s mind fell into the void, she couldn’t remember who she was or where this was. Next to her ear, she heard a sound that was instantly familiar to her, even in her foggy state.
“This won’t hurt a bit,” cooed Jane as she pulled Sue’s mouth open. Suddenly a wave of minty freshness filled Sue’s mouth as Jane inserted a brush into her mouth and started to brush.
Sue let out a soft gasp as her eyes opened wider. Her drowsiness made the flavor more intense, she had never realized that toothpaste could taste this good. That toothpaste could be so minty and so fresh.
“Yes, that is it,” smiled Jane as she gently worked the brush around Sue’s mouth. “You realize how good this feels, this is a good choice and good choices feel great!”
“Great,” garbled Sue, the toothpaste muffling and distorting her words as the spiral continued to distort her brain.
“You feel wonderful and you realize that only Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste can give you this feeling. No other toothpaste has ever made you feel this good, no other toothpaste has been such a good choice.”
Sue gargled on the foam as a wonderful cool minty pleasure washed over her mouth. This was amazing, it was better than any toothpaste she had ever tasted.
“This is wonderful, you love it. Nothing else is quite as good! Nothing else is quite as nice as Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste!” Sung Jane as she continued to brush Sue’s teeth.
Sue couldn’t help but echo Jane’s words in her mouth. Because Jane had made a good choice, Jane had made the choice that was best for Sue. And thus Sue had to listen to Jane so that Jane could continue to make the correct choices for her in the future.
The foam filled Sue’s mouth as she continued to let the spiral mesmerize her. The toothpaste was great, she loved it. She loved Jane. She loved Cleanwright pharmaceuticals. They were making the good choices she deserved. She was going to make great choices by listening to Jane. Everyone knew that the best decisions were made by listening.
“The best decisions are made by listening to me,” echoed Jane, her voice melding perfectly with Sue’s thoughts.
“Yes,” gargled Sue.
“Good, then why don’t you just sleep?” Cooed Jane as she used her free hand to gently close Sue’s eyes. The second her eyes closed Sue instantly plummeted into a deep dark void, enveloped in the perfect minty freshness of Jane’s words.
“Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste is the only toothpaste I recommend to my clients! It is the best!” Smiled Sue as she held the box out towards the camera. “In fact! I love it so much, I’ve themed my office around it!” She said as she pointed behind her.
The camera pulled back to reveal Sue’s office. However, the walls were now painted in Cleanwright pharmaceutical colors and every wall had a Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste advert stuck on it.
The camera focused back on Sue as she grinned into the camera. “Brightsparkle Ultra-White Mega-Clean Luxury Toothpaste! The only toothpaste recommended by ten out of ten dentists! Make the best choice today!”
“And cut!” Shouted Jane as she walked up to Sue and ruffled her hair.
“Did I do well?” Asked Sue softly.
“You did perfectly,” grinned Jane. “Now I need to get you ready for a magazine interview. Trust me, it is the best decision.”
“You always make the best decisions,” nodded Sue meekly as her eyes fluttered.