Brandon Doyle rapt on the frame of the lab’s door and whistled for her attention, in that patronizing way that Susan hated. Susan pretended to not hear him and instead focused on the steady crawl of data from the capillary electrophoresis instrument. The sun had set, the building was mostly empty, and Susan had been by herself in the equipment room. Her schedule was packed with making batches of nanomachines and checking their quality, in order to “reduce to practice” for the patent, as the university’s tech transfer office liked to put it. Brandon Doyle, her boss’ business partner, wasn’t a welcome distraction.
“Yo! Earth to Susan, you there?”
“I prefer Doctor Podgorski.” Susan peered into the CE, where a robot arm pipetted up another sample. “And I’m busy, Mister Doyle.”
Susan glared at Brandon. That didn’t stop the over-coiffed pretty boy in his trendy suit from shamelessly sizing Susan up like a piece of meat. Susan wished that her loose flannel shirt, men’s jeans, thick-rimmed glasses, and unmade face would discourage performances like that. But for some men, like Brandon, the gesture was never about what the woman looked like.
“Yeah, yeah, but this is important. Listen.” Brandon clucked his tongue and approached Susan. “I talked with Danny and he said you gave him an ultimatum. Does that sound right?”
“That’s between me and Dr. Marrelli.”
“If it’s about the nano robots, I deserve to be in that discussion. You know that, Susan.” Brandon leaned on the benchtop, forcing himself between Susan and the equipment. “You can’t go behind our backs and do whatever you want with them.”
Susan backed away from the bench, throwing her hands up and huffing in frustration.
“I’m not going to do anything with your robots or whatever the hell you think I make. That’s the school’s intellectual property. But I have a right to talk about my research. I’m coming up on three years in my postdoc and I need to publish and give talks.” As a ‘postdoctorial’ researcher, Susan had her degree, but no reputation. Such scientific journeymen hitched their wagons to established professors in order to work on the projects that would really start their career. “If I have to wait for you and Dr. Marrelli to put a company together, I’m going to lose my young investigator window.”
“You don’t have to worry about that.” Brandon held his arms out. He probably supposed his tone was reassuring. “Susan, I can pay you whatever you like through Nano Health.”
Susan nearly shoved Brandon out of her personal space and fought the impulse. Instead, she shouldered past him, out of the corner he had backed her into. “It’s not about money. I want to run my own lab. I want to do my own research. I’m not interested in playing silly games with patents and venture capital, for a fifty-fifty chance we get bought out and then all my work gets shoved in the back closet of a big corporation.”
“That’s not how it’s going to-”
“Don’t tell me how it’s going to work, Mister Doyle!” Susan jabbed an angry finger in Brandon’s face. His shit-eating grin faltered. “I don’t need career advice from a jumped-up MBA parasite, who thinks liquoring up VCs is as irreplaceable as the actual goddamn science!”
Brandon’s nostrils flare. His face went beet red. “That’s the way it is, huh?”
Susan turned her back to Brandon, giving her attention back to the CE. “And if you don’t like it, I can throw all the samples I’m prepping for you down the drain.”
“In that case,” His voice broke with anger. “I got one more question.”
“Jesus, I said-”
“Does this smell like chloroform?”
Brandon clamped a chemical-soaked rag over Susan’s mouth and nose with one hand, his other arm hugging her tightly. Muffled, Susan tried to scream. Thick, faintly-floral vapor filled her throat and nose. Susan felt numbness creeping through her passages, felt her eyelids gaining weight and the sound dimming in her ears. She clawed at the hand over her face with her own free arm. The limb drift away from her awareness, clawing through space on its own magic trajectory, rebelliously withholding feedback, as Susan’s inner ear tumbled drunkenly end over end, pulling her insides out in a long-arc of labyrinth curves where her drooling cheek left words smeared across the wall until suddenly-
Blank. Susan went down.
The first sensation that returned to Susan was the splitting headache. Blinking awake, slowly separating light from shadow, Susan pieced together that she was lying down, that something was shifting in her arms with each breath, that something hard kept her from closing her mouth… Susan remembered that Brandon attacked her and with a surge of attention, tried to jump from the examination table and was stopped by straps on her wrists and ankles and around her stomach and neck. Her teeth bit into a wadded-up rag. Needles were stuck into her arms -- IVs, Susan realized. Susan screamed in muffled anger. It elicited a familiar, enraging laugh.
“Welcome back, princess.” Brandon mocked. Susan could lift her head just enough to see Brandon standing next to Dr. Dennis Morrelli, her boss. And more disturbing, the two men stood next to the control unit for the nanomachines, the one she and Dennis had rigged up on a rolling cart for animal studies. The three of them were in the research clinic, Susan realized, and at least one of the IVs must have been releasing nanomachines into her blood. How long had she’d been out, Susan wondered? Had the nanomachines reached critical saturation?
Her demands for an explanation were a little hard to understand.
“Susan…” Dr. Morrelli stepped closer into view. His face looked despondent and victimized. “I’m sorry it had to come to this. But the world needs this technology… It’s too important to let you jeopardize our patent.”
Susan tried to spit.
“You know technology doesn’t get made if a company can’t license it.” Dr. Morrelli whined. “You’re so selfish, Susan! You brought this on yourself!”
“Give it up, Dennis. If that could change her mind, we wouldn’t need this.” Brandon slapped the top of the control unit. “What did you call me, princess? A parasite with a MBA? I might not be a high and mighty inorganic bioengineer, but I think I can impress you with my grasp of the practical applications.”
Brandon walked over with a pair of shears. He started to cut into the waist of Susan’s slacks.
“What are you doing?” Dr. Morrelli hissed, like he was afraid Susan would hear.
“Dennis, you have to enjoy yourself at times like these. It’s how you keep guilt from getting to you.” Brandon cut away the crotch of both Susan’s pants and the panties underneath. He shoved the triangles of cloth in Dr. Morrelli’s hands and went back to the control unit. He got the signal gun and took a reading of Susan’s groin. She heard the affirmative beep. Adrenaline fading, Susan felt cold fear. Her blood was saturated with nanomachines.
Brandon met her eyes and grinned. He started to set parameters on the control unit. The nanomachines weren’t tiny robots, like most people would imagine. They were web-like amalgams of heavy metal adducts and designer proteins, whose configurations could be altered by magnetic pulse sequences. Different configurations had different kinds of molecular interactions. So if a patient’s blood was saturated with nanomachines, then a physician with the magnetic signal gun could induce a drug-like effect from a menu of them, as locally as desired, for exactly the time desired. Like all medicine, the potential for torture was equally immense.
Brandon took careful aim at Susan’s crotch and pressed the trigger. The rush of arousal was immediate. Her clit pushed loose of its hood and continued to stiff, becoming painfully so in less than a minute. Hot blood poured into her fold, as her snatch began to clutch hungrily. The sensations spread insidiously. Her chest, neck, and face blushed. Her hands went clammy. Shame mixed grease-like with watery anger.
Her legs pulled on the restraints, instinctively trying to clamp around her crotch protectively. They couldn’t. Chuckling, Brandon leaned down - practically sticking his head between Susan’s legs - and softly blew. The air playing on her hole and clit set Susan off. Her body went rigid. Her back arched as far as the restraints would let. A low, humiliated moan oozed out from around her gag. Susan leaked - drool from her mouth, sweat from her brow, quim from her cunt, and tears from her eyes.
The moment had been the best sex of her life, and it hadn’t even made her cum.
“Good god, is this necessary?”
“What we discussed is rape either way, Dennis. May as well satisfy our curiosity and see what our little robots can really do.” Brandon grabbed the front of Susan’s flannel shirt and tore it open. He got the shears and slid them under the bridge of her sports bra. “Why? Are you going to stop me?”
Susan didn’t hear Dr. Morelli’s reply. Brandon cut her bra in two. Like a workman with a drill, he pressed the transmission gun to her nipples, one after another. They stiffened like nails. Brandon flicked one with satisfaction, eliciting a teary-eyed scream.
Brandon waltzed back to the control unit. “Now, Dr. Princess, I’m sure you’ve noticed you’ve got a second saline drip. What could you need all that fluid for, right?”
Readying the signal gun, Brandon beamed new instructions for the nanomachines into Susan’s chest. Susan grunted, feeling one of her breasts start to swell, feeling the flesh under her aroused nipple tighten and stretch. Brandon laughed maniacally and turned the gun on her other breast. The strange mix of arousing pain, anger, and sheer embarrassment made Susan’s head swirl. She thrashed against her restraints, trying to shield her breasts from the control signal, and that only let her feel the unfamiliar weight jiggling.
“Fantastic! Princess, you’re a genius!” Brandon pinched a swollen breast. Susan screeched around her gag in rage. “Dennis, have we got any aloe? Her stretch marks are going to be awful.”
“Brandon, please, let’s just get on with it. This is… gross.”
“Sorry, Princess. We can’t play anymore. I’m being ‘gross.’” Brandon lightly slapped a wobbly tit and went back to adjust the equipment once again. This time, he brought the signal gun up to Susan’s head and began to slowly scan it along her scalp. Realizing what was coming, Susan went wide-eye in terror.
One of the most important applications for the nanomachines was neurotherapy. They could adapt a form that could easily permeate the blood/brain barrier, then be reconfigured for interaction with the synapses. Brandon was preparing step one, soaking her grey matter in nanomachines. The two men were planning to lobotomize her.
“How does this work? I give them the signal and then I tell her what we want her to forget?”
“No, it’s…” Dr. Morelli hesitated. “Initially, you can’t control it. After the first cycle, she’ll be more suggestible.”
“So she’s just going to forget random stuff?” Brandon laughed cruelly. “Hey, Princess, try not to think about your social security number.”
Susan didn’t have that problem. What her racing mind focused on was how the nanomachines could edit synaptic connections. By modulating the activity of proteins responsible for the release, sensing, and reuptake of neurotransmitters, synapses could be made to more easily make connections… or erase them. Which synapses were affected was a matter of what the subject was thinking about. At least, that was the hypothesis, after hundreds of hours of showing flashcards to brain damaged mice. Panic overtook Susan as she desperately tried to not think about anything. But when Brandon adjusted the signal gun and leveled it against her skull, Susan couldn’t help the words pounding in her mind.
The words exploded in her brain, sending blinding auras pouring through her eyeballs and streams of white phosphorus through her thoughts. Years of neuroscience unraveled themselves. But it wasn’t merely words and equations being neatly excised. It was the faces of classmates who sat through the same lectures. It was the weight of textbooks in her hands that she packed and unpacked from apartment to apartment. It was late night coffee and agonizing over grant applications. It was the fear she imagined in the eyes of a mouse, right before she pinched the base of the skull and the root of the tail and pulled sharply.
Grey matter burned and in its pain, it wracked the body -- a seizure. Susan fell backwards through the pain, through the darkness, through the swirling devils of fearful hallucinations whose forms defied the senses. Susan tumbled endlessly down the rabbit hole between the kaleidoscope windows of human cognition and that dark, underwater mud of a primordial nematode struggling to understand what it meant to be alive one moment and dead the next.
Words came from outside, wind blowing through the burning house. “Nanomachines.”
The broken world shuddered. Susan felt made of torn flash paper and more burned away, more and more, memories and moments twisting into razor-sharp glass. Somewhere far away, her jaw ached from how hard it bit into the gag and her palms burned from her fingernails drawing blood. Years crumpled as contextual glue melted. Why did she move to this city? Why did she ride the last bus in dead exhaustion so often? Why did she go to all those talks? What the hell had she been doing with her life?!
“Science.” Cut out.
“Jesus Christ, stop it.” Whatever that meant, it was meaningless now. Susan floated in the ocean of hornet’s buzz made by the fragments of her mind grinding against each other. Lost in half memories, she breathed in and out, aching as identity contracted bit by bit, settling into blessed unawareness.
She didn’t know how much time passed. But words began to penetrate the fog again. They weren’t painful this time. This time, they spun the fog, became points of accretion, and pulled together memories into new webs. Slowly, the nodes began to orbit each other, and the webs tangled together.
Those words summoned disparate images that clashed, but slowly merged. NanoHealth, a company… and she filed its documents. NanoHealth, a company… and she answered its phones. NanoHealth, a company… her employer.
Brandon, yes, a man… how did she know him? He ran NanoHealth. She worked for NanoHealth. She worked for Brandon. She was Brandon’s secretary. She hated him, she couldn’t remember why, but she worked for him.
“Brandon… loyal… secretary…”
She hated him, but she was loyal (?) to him.
“Brandon… faithful… secretary…”
She hated Brandon, but she was loyal (?) and she would never (?) betray him.
“Brandon… trusting… secretary…”
She might hate Brandon (?), but she trusted him.
“Brandon… loyal… trusting… faithful… thankful... secretary…”
She trusted Brandon. She was loyal to Brandon. She would never betray Brandon. She owed Brandon so much. She loved Brandon.
“Brandon… secretary… lover…”
She loved Brandon.
“Brandon… lover… slut…”
Erotic shadows moved through Susan’s mind.
“Brandon… lover… sexy… horny… good girl… slut…”
A complex life began to form in Susan. She worked for NanoHealth. She worked for Brandon. She fucked Brandon. She owed so much to Brandon. She would do anything for Brandon. She would do so many things with Brandon. She was a loyal sexy secretary, working at NanoHealth, filing documents, answering phones, fucking Brandon… a life she was endlessly thankful for. She imagined this life in swirling fancies that fed on each other and grew.
NanoHealth… Brandon… Loyal… Faithful… Trust… Thankful… Secretary… Sexy… Lover… Horny… Good girl… Slut...
The office space smelled like fresh plastic wrap. It was sunny and sterile, and Nano Health’s four PCs sat disassembled on the desks and chairs shoved up against the wall. Suzy minced one-foot-in-front-of-the-other on red stilettos over the cheap carpet. She held Brandon’s Slabcuck’s order in front of her like an offering. Hearing Brandon on the phone in one of the side room’s made Suzy smile preemptively at a job well done.
“That’s good to hear, Dennis. Yeah, yeah, the new guy sounds great. He’s not having trouble with her notes? Well, do you think he’ll figure them out? That’s good to hear.” Brandon smiled at Suzy when she came in. Suzy bent at the waist to put Brandon’s order on the desk, coily giving him a deep peek down her cleavage. The saline injection hadn’t lasted. But Suzy had dutifully gotten 450 cc of silicone in each breast and stuffed them into a lacy push-up bra for extra effect. Listening to Dr. Morrelli on the phone, Brandon mouthed for her to stay. Suzy expectantly stood at attention by the door.
Brandon stared at Suzy appreciatively. “Things are looking good here, yeah, yeah. Furniture got delivered yesterday. I’ll be meeting Mike, that account I told you about, this afternoon. I want him to meet Suzy. Haha, yeah.”
Brandon winked at Suzy. It brought a smile to her cupid bow lips. She knew she would make an impression on whoever Mike was. Her pencil skirt and blouse emphasized her tiny figure and disproportionate breasts. She took great pride in her bleach-blond ponytail, her fashionable glasses, and her doll-like make-up.
“Sounds great. I’ll talk to you later. Okay. Okay. Bye.” Brandon hung up. He looked over at Suzy, then fished a small pink remote from his jacket pocket. A flick of the switch made Suzy shudder in time with the egg shuddering to life in her cunt. Suzy bit her lip in anticipation.
“Hey.” Brandon gave her a nod. “Get over here.”
Suzy skipped around to Brandon’s side of the desk and dropped to her knees. She fished out his half-hard cock. Cooing happily, Suzy rubbed the member against her cheek, then dutifully kissed the length of it as Brandon hardened. Brandon took the lid off his coffee and blew. Suzy slid her red lips down his length.
The science, somewhere, would take care of itself.