It must have taken her months to make. That was the thought that remained in Ryan's head the longest, persisting well after the rest of his mind had descended into a drowsy bliss so perfect and profound that he didn't even notice the burning sensation in his eyes or the weariness in his wrists and fingers. He'd drifted away from his own body, lost track of Miriam's voice, given up on resistance even in the privacy of his own head, but he still couldn't stop thinking about how much work had gone into the parasol she showed him.
Every panel was carefully embroidered with the most intricate of patterns, dozens of colors of thread cross-stitched through the fabric to create a blazing tableau of gorgeous blended hues. Ryan couldn't pick out the details; his eyes kept crossing and uncrossing in an effort to follow the swirl of decorated needlework as it flowed past his vision in an unceasing, hypnotic kaleidoscope of beauty. But he could tell that they were there. The constant motion wouldn't have seemed so smooth and captivating if not for all of the diligent work that Miriam had done to seamlessly integrate each gradation of dyed floss into the next. Just laying it all out on paper must have taken weeks.
Ryan didn't know what had happened to Miriam. He was sure she was around somewhere; it was her hotel room, after all, and he could still hear her calm, implacable voice saying... saying... saying something to him. Something important. Something very very important that he didn't need to think about or remember right now. He knew he needed to listen to each and every word, because he was a good boy and good boys paid attention and did what they were told, but he also knew that he could let all the details swirl away into the pretty colors that danced past his blank, glassy eyes and swept his thoughts along with them. That was the right thing for a good boy to do.
Even so, Ryan still couldn't stop thinking about the sheer amount of time and effort it must have taken to hand-stitch the parasol in such precise and perfect detail. No wonder Miriam worried about losing her um... her um... um... ummmmmm... Ryan blinked in confusion, a glacially slow blink that made his head swim as he opened his heavy eyes and tried to adjust his gaze to the constant motion of the flowing colors once again. He couldn't remember what he was thinking about. He could barely remember thinking. The past had taken on a distant, irrelevant quality in his mind, leaving Ryan mired in an endlessly stretching and distending present.
But the colors centered him again. Ryan's eyes locked back into their glassy stare, once again finding that the trick to following the flow and drift of the hues as they rotated past his field of vision was simply not to follow them at all. He could gaze unblinking at the red as it flowed into fiery orange, at the orange as it melted into cheery yellow, at the yellow as it mellowed into cool green, and simply let the optical illusion created by the spinning parasol become real and vivid in his mind. Trying to anticipate the motion only left him dizzy and weak and helpless. It was best to just watch and listen and obey.
Ryan didn't wonder anymore about that last word. It came naturally to him now, following along in his mind as automatically as the flow of green to peaceful blue and from blue to deepest violet. Watching the colors always led instinctively to listening to Miriam's words, nodding vacantly and repeating when prompted without realizing at all what he was saying. Listening to Miriam always led to agreeing, his numb and drowsy brain accepting everything she told him to say and think and do without question or hesitation. And obeying led to... oh. Ohhhhhhh. Of course. Obeying Miriam led immediately to pleasure. Pure, perfect, sexual pleasure. Ryan's cock throbbed and pulsed as the ecstasy once again filled him to the very brim.
But never past it. The moment Ryan felt like he might lose control and gush out all his arousal in one titanic spurt of wonderful release, he found his gaze falling back into the intricate patterns that swirled endlessly in front of his tired, heavy eyes. The climax was carried away along with the violet, receding into twisting knots of pitch blackness that tangled up his vision until he found himself following a different band of the twisting, captivating hues. They laid one over the other in contrasting plaits that constantly tripped him up with their continual motion whenever he tried to think of anything at all, even his own body. The only way to keep his brain from tumbling into helpless giddiness was to let go of everything and just stare.
But Ryan couldn't help thinking about the beauty of the parasol. He couldn't help wondering how Miriam had made the needlework seem to move the way it did, how she'd gotten that perfect illusion of precession in the colors that kept drawing away his mind into dazed, dizzy pleasure. He no longer connected the motion of the parasol's handle in his hands to the flowing kaleidoscopic dance that captivated him so completely; indeed, Ryan had long ago stopped noticing at all that his fingers spun the shaft around and around in a smooth, ceaseless movement, never stopping, never slowing down or speeding up. He had other things to pay attention to. And they were utterly fascinating.
Another wave of pleasure washed through him, coinciding with a strangled moan that came from somewhere very close by in a familiar voice that Ryan couldn't quite place. There was a pattern to the surges of sexual heat, too; Ryan was sure that he could piece it together, if only he had a moment to think. Just a tiny bit of respite from the mesmerizing flow of colors that drugged his sleepy brain into insensate bliss would be enough. But it never came. He just kept sinking deeper, his overwhelmed brain straining and straining against the tide of ecstasy before finally surrendering and--
Ryan heard another desperate moan. He felt another intense throb of heat and desire coming from his cock. But he had no idea what caused it.
* * * * *
The next day began in a muddled fog of confusion for Ryan; he woke from a dream he couldn't remember in a hotel room that he somehow couldn't believe was his own despite the presence of his suitcases by the door. He caught himself wondering what day it was three times as he went through his morning routine; the previous day felt unimaginably distant in his dim and foggy memories, a blurry haze that seemed to peter out entirely somewhere around lunchtime. Ryan was at a loss to explain the void in his mind; he never touched alcohol, and he wouldn't know how to approach a drug dealer even if he wanted to. And it wasn't as though cross-stitching conventions were exactly a hotbed of debauchery and wild behavior, either.
And yet he had simply lost most of the previous day. Everything since... since... Ryan stood under the shower spray for several long minutes, only gradually coming to the realization that he couldn't even remember what he didn't remember. His every attempt to trace back the thread of memory from the relatively clear recollections of the early morning into the warm, pleasant mists of confusion led him into a fugue of sleepy bemusement that he only emerged from when he gave up and let it go. He caught himself masturbating three times just trying.
Obviously, he'd need to ask someone who saw him yesterday whether there was anything odd about his behavior, and yet Ryan found himself reluctant to do so. It felt odd and embarrassing to have to walk up to one of the staid older people who frequented the convention and ask, 'Excuse me, but I had a total blackout and don't remember anything I did after lunch yesterday. Do you recall seeing me, and was I acting weird?' Not only was it an awkward thing to admit to, but Ryan was a tiny bit worried that they might have an answer for him that he wouldn't enjoy hearing.
Even so, the question nagged at him for most of the day, making it almost impossible to concentrate on any of the classes and seminars that had seemed so interesting to Ryan at the beginning of the weekend. The convention was almost over, and Ryan knew he wouldn't be seeing any of these people again for months at the least, but somehow the worry that they knew something important about him that he didn't left him paralyzed with a mix of indecision and urgency. Several times, he opened his mouth to say something, only to close it again as a wave of chilly dread gripped him and refused to let go.
Finally, just as the closing ceremonies were ending, he made up his mind to talk to someone about it. He walked up to a random woman in the dwindling crowd and said, "Excuse me, um, ma'am? I apologize for bothering you, but I was wondering if you saw me around the convention yesterday? Only I seem to have misplaced something, and I can't remember where I put it, and... um...." Ryan trailed off into an embarrassed silence that was only partially an act, hoping that his sheepish smile would lead the stranger--'Miriam', according to her nametag--to fill in the blanks for him.
Amazingly, it worked. "Your umbrella, silly boy!" she said, favoring him with a smile and a squeeze on the arm. "You left it in my hotel room last evening. I took you up to show you the project I was working on--the parasol, remember?" Absolutely nothing she said rang the slightest bell in Ryan's muddled memories; if anything, he felt even more confused by her calm, confident insistence. A wave of dizziness washed over him suddenly, and he found himself leaning on her for support before he even realized the room was listing to one side.
Luckily, Miriam seemed as strong as she was certain. She not only supported his sagging body without any apparent effort, but she led him out of the now-empty room and along the hallway to the bank of elevators. There was nobody in their path; by this time, everyone had already checked out of their rooms and left their baggage with the concierge while they attended the last day's events. "You must have forgotten to take the umbrella with you when you left," Miriam said as they walked. "Come along, we'll go up and get it. Lucky for you I'm local--I stayed an extra day to relax and enjoy myself after the convention. Otherwise you might have missed me."
That sparked an odd, incongruous memory in Ryan's increasingly foggy brain; for some reason, he had a dreamy recollection of telling the front desk that he wanted to extend his stay until the next day. It was absolute nonsense--Ryan had a plane to catch tonight and a job to get back to tomorrow, he couldn't simply decide to spend another night in Seattle. "I, um, I don't think it's important," he murmured, wondering exactly when he'd lost control of the situation so completely.
"Nonsense," Miriam said forcefully, giving his hand a patronizing squeeze. "We'll just go on up, here, and you can take another look at my parasol. I'm surprised you don't remember it. You really enjoyed looking at it last night. Remember the parasol, Ryan?" The elevator car tilted slowly onto its side, and Ryan felt a moment of fascinated amazement at Miriam's ability to hold herself level to the floor while supporting his weight against the shifting center of gravity before he realized what was happening. He closed his eyes, trying to shake off the waves of dizziness, but all he could see was flowing patterns of color that made him feel even more dazed and uncertain of his footing.
"It's something I've been working on for months," Miriam said, seemingly oblivious to his growing confusion as she led him down the hall. "Years, really, but it's only just recently begun to come together the way I wanted it to. But that's always the way it is with the projects that make you happiest, isn't it? You work on them for ages and it feels like you'll never be done, and then one day you look at it and suddenly you realize it's all so absolutely wonderful. It is wonderful, isn't it, Ryan?"
Ryan nodded, sighing in relief as he collapsed onto the hotel bed. His eyes took forever to open, almost glued shut by the kaleidoscopic swirls of color that he saw behind his closed eyelids, but he finally managed to look up just in time to see Miriam holding an elegant parasol covered with embroidery. It looked so beautiful that Ryan lost several seconds simply staring at it before it finally occurred to him what was so strange about it, and another few moments trying to summon speech from his numb, exhausted lips. "It's, um... it's backwards."
Sure enough, all of the indelicate and awkward knots and loops and stray threads that most cross-stitchers normally hid at the back of their decorative wall hangings were visible on the curved surface of the parasol. It made the colors... the familiar, dizzying colors... bunch up strangely and pool together in ways that didn't look right to the eye. It seemed like such an odd, obvious mistake for a project so elaborate that Ryan spotted the problem even through the fog in his bewildered mind.
But Miriam simply chuckled. "It's not backwards at all," she said, pushing him gently back into a supine position before holding the parasol over his head. "It's simply intended to be viewed by the holder." She cupped his fingers around the handle, and he automatically began to move them in a rotating motion. "You remember now, don't you, Ryan? You remember the parasol?" She moved out of his field of view, undoing his trousers and pulling them off to free his trapped erection before wrapping her hand around it in an intimately familiar manner. A few light tugs later, and she was gliding freely over his cock with flesh slick with precum.
"Yes ma'am," Ryan said distantly, his voice a droning monotone. "I remember the parasol." He could still hear himself, still think about his words, but already they were beginning to slip away into that same void that had swallowed him so completely before. He could only remember it at all in this liminal space between waking and trance, when he was deep enough to recall the deliciously familiar sensations of sinking into Miriam's will but not yet so far gone that his brain was utterly numbed into insensate oblivion. Soon, he knew, he'd be emptied by the colors into mindless, obedient bliss.
"You want to learn how to make something just like that, don't you?" Miriam asked, her voice coaxing him into acquiescence before he could really even think about the question. He always said yes to Miriam. He couldn't remember any other answer anymore. She'd stroked them all away the night before in her hotel room, spending hours teasing his cock until all he wanted to do was agree with her every word and thought. Even the ones he couldn't remember. Especially the ones he couldn't remember.
"Yes, ma'am," he murmured through slack, drooling lips. "I want to learn from you." He knew on some level what their conversation was eliding over; his conscious mind didn't recall any of it, but his deep self heard every word the night before. Miriam had spent all weekend looking for just the right good boy or girl to stay with her and learn all her techniques, to be her perfect student and soak up all her expertise. The others had been too stubborn or too boring or had friends and family that would wonder where they went, but Ryan was absolutely perfect for her. He was going to learn everything she had to teach about hypnosis and control... but like the parasol, he would only see the other side. The side she wanted him to see.
She leaned down and kissed his balls, caressing him for a long moment with her tongue until he gasped sharply in thoughtless bliss before continuing. "You're going to stay here with me, aren't you?" she asked. Thoughts of Ryan's job flashed momentarily through his head, but the whirling colors swept them cleanly away and left him blissfully, rapturously blank and empty. A blank canvas, ready to be filled with Miriam's designs. He couldn't wait to see what she would make of him. He hoped he would be every bit as beautiful as the parasol he held.
"Yes ma'am," Ryan said, not even summoning up a token gasp of final resistance. His muscles sagged into limp relaxation, only able to keep the handle turning through the act of Miriam's will. His eyes stared straight ahead, seeing only the swirling colors created by countless hours of careful stitching. It must have taken her months to make, he thought... and then, just as before, that final thought collapsed into pleasure and he sank completely into her power once more.