I get it. Fashion's mainly a matter of opinion. Just because some style ain't my taste doesn't mean it deserves to crash and burn. I know that what's considered fashionable can be kinda random some times. Some big trend can come out of nowhere overnight for whatever reason.
But even with all that said, this new trend's got me stumped. I started noticing it two weeks before Minotaur bit the dust. I'm starting to see more and more girls around town wearing shiny clothes. I don't mean they they've got sequins in em, they look like highly polished metal or latex. I'm talking tank tops, shorts, shirts, sandals and even chokers. At first, I didn't know any girls who dressed like that, but then my friend Linda showed up to meet me at a coffee shop wearing a shiny silver tank top and glistening green sandals. That was a bit weird because she usually didn't follow any fashion trends if she got the sense there was some pressure for her to go along with them. I asked her why she was wearing that stuff when we walked out with her drinks.
"I got curious and bought one and it's got this weird sci-fi aesthetic to it." she said, sipping her coffee. "I found out I liked how I looked in the top and thought 'why not get the whole ensemble'?
I laughed a little.
"Ya do realize this makes you a conformist right? Just a bit?" She rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, I know. I caved in and got 'influenced' or whatever."
Was it just me or was there a bit of a sparkle in her eyes when I said the word 'conformist?' Eh, probably nothing.
"Is it me or do things seem a bit less tense now that Minotaur's just a muscly side of beef?" she asked. "Hey, whodduya think's gonna take his place?"
"Hopefully nobody." I responded.
"My mom lost her shit when she found out Hypnoman actually offed him. Shit, guess every once in a while, two wrongs really do make a right."
"What, you a supporter of Hypnoman now?" I asked. Some of my drawl slithered out. I winced in embarrassment a bit.
"Ha! You kidding me? You think I'd have cared if both of em killed each other. Hell, if Miss Might got there a bit sooner she might've been able to rough Hypnoman up enough to help the police cuff him too."
My unease went a way somewhat. Linda didn't know my secret but I felt like she just gave me a complement nonetheless. We talked about other stuff during the rest of the outing. I saw a few more girls in a getup similar to Linda's while we were walking around town. Some of them smiled at her, some of them just gave her the thumbs up.
It wasn't until I was on my way back to my apartment that I realized something. This trend of shiny cloths had some weird...uniform look to it. The other girls who saw Linda in it seemed happy that she was and it looked like Linda actually enjoyed the attention. She seemed happy that she'd given in to a trend, that she'd fallen in line, given in to an outside influence.
That she'd conformed and embraced something that seemed to go against who she was. I shivered, thinking back to my mom's experience during the Gulf War. That Iraqi officer wasn't just trying to empty her of her love for America, but he was trying to fill the void with zeal for the Saddam regime as he was doing it. There weren't that many female POWs in their custody at the time but from what my mom remembers, he tried using the process on the few that were in the facility as well. What still scares my mom is the fact that he was actually making real progress brainwashing her. "A few times he showed me a picture of an American flag and I got so angry." she told me. "It was the flag of the enemy, my enemy. I could feel it in my bones. I tore up the picture a few times when he handed it to me."
I asked her what was supposed to happen after her brainwashing was done and my mom wasn't quite sure. She had a few nightmares about it though. One of the other female POWs the officer tried brainwashing was a USMC scout sniper from Springfield Illinois. My mom had a dream where the two of them were released near friendly territory and brought to a US base. Once they had the chance, they'd kill off all the men and prep the female soldiers for transport so the officer could process them too.
In another, the Iraqis ended up winning somehow and my mom was kept around with the other brainwashed POW girls. They were made into some sorta 'Amazon Brigade' that enforced the regime's will throughout 'Greater Iraq.' My mom chose the word 'brigade' because of the unit's size. In her nightmare there were a lot more female POWs to put through the mind control process. And she helped process them, dozens of them.
The war ended before he completely brainwashed my mom though. "I dunno what they had planned for me once he'd done his work, but a part of me being was being cut out and replaced. I still knew who I was, I still remembered everything in my life till that point. But an important part of me was bein' hollowed out, filled in and painted over." I couldn't shake the feeling that's what happened to Linda. Sure, she had a believable reason for getting those cloths, but she still gave in to a trend, joined some larger group that went against a part of who she was.
I was about to take a bath when I had a thought. How would Linda react if she saw me in similar clothing? Would she be happy like the other girls or what?
Well, only one way to know for sure.