Seb rested his cheek on the table, willing the cool surface to soothe his overheated skull. He tried to tune out the clatter and chatter around him, but it was no use. Even with his arms wrapped around his head the dining hall pressed on his senses: he could hear the gossip echoing off the compact brick walls, picture the pockets of students at their round wooden tables, silverware clinking on dishes laden with vegan burritos and “gourmet” pizza slices. And there, not a hundred paces from where he sat: the raised, carpeted section at the end of the room. Right now it was the perching place for the ice cream station; last week, it was where Chelsea Jaeger had gotten on all fours and tried to lick him.
Seb groaned and tried to burrow deeper into his sleeves. To the dinner crowd around him, he was no doubt a familiar creature in the dining hall genus: the student that had gone too hard. But whereas other specimens had exhausted themselves pursuing test scores, game wins, or party favors, Seb had more unique affliction.
Namely that he was so goddamn horny all the time.
“Uh, hey dude, you okay?” Miki asked as she sat across from him.
“Hm?” Seb jerked his head up, blinking the heaviness from his eyes. “Oh, uh, y-yeah. Just a little tired.”
“TGIF, right?” Miki’s boyfriend, Tobias, nodded sympathetically as he joined them. “This week has been a nightmare. Professor Crawley added like, seven readings to the syllabus. Who the hell does that?”
Miki arched an eyebrow. “You know he’s going to spend the whole lecture rambling about his research anyway. Nobody actually cares if you read all of that stuff.”
“Yeah,” Tobias shrugged. “But if I’m going to pay to be here, might as well get everything I can out of it, right?”
“You’re such a nerd,” Miki smirked and affectionately ruffled his sandy blonde hair.
Seb grinned weakly. Miki and Tobias were the celebrated couple of the Diepner Players theater club, a title they attained only after circling each other the entirety of freshman year, sending mixed signals and awkward flirtations, and then turning to Seb for help decoding them. When the two of them finally hooked up at a cast party, the entire club breathed a collective sigh of relief, Seb most of all. Sure, he was maybe a little jealous of Tobias, but it was a small price to pay to see both of his friends so happy together.
Normally. Right now, they were driving Seb to the edge.
He had always found Miki attractive, her short black hair, cute smile, and petite, pixie-like body a recurring presence in his freshman fantasies. Those feelings had dulled with time, but now the Vox was sharpening them with unbearable precision. It didn’t help that she was clearly dressed for a night out: her tight black dress and glossy lips would’ve drawn his eye even before the Vox—now it was all he could do to tear his gaze away from her plunging neckline and small, perky breasts. She was wearing a push-up bra underneath, no doubt. And as she and Tobias continued to flirt, Seb found himself wondering if the Vox could convince her to take it off.
Could he entrance them both without anyone noticing? Having two dazed, open-mouthed subjects at the table would probably draw too much attention, but perhaps he could nudge them into withdrawing someplace more private, someplace he could take his time. With enough work, that adoring gaze of Miki’s would be fixated on him, and Tobias would happily surrender his lover to the Vox’s pleasure. In fact, perhaps Seb could even use Tobias to assist in Miki’s brainwashing. The Vox growled eagerly at the thought, conjuring images of Miki panting with arousal, stuttering mantras of surrender as Tobias’ tongue worked between her legs, opening her even further to Seb’s words and…
“You, uh, got any weekend plans?” Tobias asked over a mouthful of green beans.
Seb rubbed his eyes, pushing the wicked fantasy from his mind. “Um…not…uh, not really.”
“Hang on,” Miki interjected. “Aren’t you getting coffee with you-know-who tomorrow?”
Tobias nearly choked on his food. “Wait, you mean with Sophia? She’s here? How did I not hear about this?”
Ah, yes. The other reason for Seb’s sleepless nights. As if the Vox’s insatiable hunger wasn’t enough, his texts with Sophia were more than capable of keeping his heart racing. The content of the conversation was harmless enough, and it seemed like she was serious about trying to rebuild the bridges they had burned. They both wanted to see each other. Badly. But reconnecting after two years of distance would be a daunting task under the best of circumstances. To see Sophia as he was now…well, if he couldn’t even meet his friends without picturing them as a sex-crazed slaves, how would the Vox react to her?
“I think it’s a bad idea.” Miki shook her head. “Girls like her can never be trusted, full stop.”
“W-well, it’s a little more complicated than that,” Seb corrected. Neither Miki nor Tobias had witnessed Seb and Sophia’s falling out, but that never stopped them from offering their takes.
“Exactly, it wasn’t her fault,” Tobias crossed his arms, “it was just a weird situation. Talking things through is the only way they’re actually gonna get closure, right Seb?
“I-I mean, I’m not sure if it’s as simple as…”
“I dunno,” Miki huffed. “In my book, kissing somebody still means something. You can’t string along a guy for years and then just leave him high and dry when it counts.”
“Uh, well, I wouldn’t say she was, um, ‘stringing me along’ but…”
Tobias sighed. “You’re judging her intentions, yet you’ve never even met her.”
“Well maybe we should meet her!” Miki shot back. “Maybe we should go with Seb and give him some backup. She doesn’t even have to know we’re there unless she tries something.”
“‘Tries something?’” Tobias scoffed. “You make it sound like a mob meeting. I’m sure all she wants to do is clear the air between them. Right, Seb?”
Seb swallowed, his head spinning. “E-eh…um…probably?”
Miki frowned. “Well, what about you, Seb? What do you want to get out of this?”
Seb hesitated. The Vox thrummed in anticipation.
Tobias laughed. “Maybe he wants to hypnotize her into falling for him again.”
The joke shot through Seb like a million volts.
Miki whacked Tobias on the arm. “Dummy. You can’t just magically hypnotize somebody into doing something they don’t want to. And even if Seb could do something like that, he wouldn’t,” her eyes turned to his. “Right Seb?”
Seb nodded weakly. He wouldn’t.
Seb stared at his phone, his reflection in the darkened screen distorted by the streetlight above him.
He was seated on a park bench in The Crossing, a central campus courtyard with stone paths leading to the major class buildings and main streets. All around him, students milled and met, the weekend buzz already in the air. Yet Seb’s gaze remained fixed on the black plastic in his hand, his earlier conversation with Tobias and Miki ringing in his ears. They hadn’t intended it, but the couple had made one thing clear over that interminable dinner:
He couldn’t face Sophia like this.
Every day that passed without using his power, the dark waters in his mind rose higher, drowning his better nature and causing each rumble of the Vox to reverberate against his skull. If he didn’t find a release soon, there was no telling when the dam might break, nor who might be swept away in the flood.
He couldn’t risk it. He couldn’t risk Sophia becoming a victim of…whatever it was that was happening to him. He needed an outlet. He needed relief.
He needed her. Even though he had sworn to himself not to make the next move, even if he still felt bad about how their last encounter had gone—she was the only one he could turn to now.
So Seb unlocked his phone, and held his breath.
Chelsea stared at the phone lying innocently on the sheets beside her. The Netflix stream on her laptop had cycled to another episode, but she barely even noticed. She just kept waiting. Waiting for the call that she knew was coming.
Waiting for her mother to spoil her weekend before it had even began.
If last weekend had catapulted her head into the clouds, Monday’s History of Markets test had brought it crashing back down. The hypnotic variety show hadn’t just interrupted Chelsea’s study session last week—it had completely derailed her pre-test prep. How the hell was she supposed to focus on the development of mercantilism when her life’s ambitions and free-will had suddenly been thrown into question? It was a miracle she hadn’t spent every morning in an existential crisis. Or masturbating. Or both.
Of course, asking for a test retake on the basis of world-shattering lust wasn’t an option, and thus came the first B+ of her college career, right on the online record for her mother to see. And she would see it. And there would be consequences. Any minute now.
But it wasn’t just Mrs. Jaeger’s impending judgement that had been casting a shadow over Chelsea’s days.
There was also him.
The man hiding in the crowd of her most loathed and anticipated lectures; the eyes that seemed to always slip away from hers; the attention she both hoped to dodge and desperately, desperately craved. He was avoiding her—that much was clear. Whatever side of him had come out during their previous rendezvous, he was doing an awfully good job of suppressing it now. In some ways, she should probably be grateful. Given what a mess he had made of her formerly ordered life, giving her space to pick up the pieces was the least he could do.
And yet, each day she found herself craning her neck whenever she caught a glimpse of his face, or glancing over her shoulder hoping to find him staring back. A part of her reasoned it was a survival instinct. Another part knew that was a lie.
It was stupid. It was impossible. It was…
Her phone buzzed, causing her legs to buck and eject the laptop from her knees. She cursed and scrambled to recover it from the floor, hastily closing it before checking the call to see:
It wasn’t her mother. It was him.
Her hand froze over the screen, each vibration now a siren’s call. He hadn’t even so much as sent a text since they last spoke, yet now his number was lighting up her screen. Invading. Beckoning. Commanding.
Why was he calling her? Didn’t he realize the kind of position this put her in? She hadn’t even decided if she ever wanted to hear from him again—did he honestly think she was just going to answer the phone out of the blue? What could he possibly want from her now?
Maybe he wanted to test his power over the phone. Would that work? The possibility sent a shiver down her spine. Maybe even apart, she wasn’t safe from his power. Maybe even if she moved a million miles away, his voice would be as inescapable as the airwaves, ready to flow into her ears and wash away her will at any moment. Maybe this call would be the first of many. And maybe answering would be accepting that fact, accepting her helplessness—fastening an invisible collar around her own throat.
One more buzz and the call would go to voicemail.
She wouldn’t. She shouldn’t.
Chelsea’s thumb snapped across the screen. “M-master!” she exclaimed as she put the phone to her ear.
“Huh?” the voice on the other end said.
“Um. S-Sebastian,” Chelsea quickly corrected, cursing herself as she did. “What, um, what is it?”
“Uh…is this a bad time?”
“N-no, this is fine,” Chelsea bit her thumb. “I’m just…surprised.” He wasn’t using his “other” voice. Or, at least, it didn’t feel like he was. She wasn’t sure which she preferred.
“Sorry. I, uh, know I kinda ghosted you after last week, but I-I um, wanted…”
“It’s fine, Mas-Seb!” Chelsea snapped. “Just tell me why you’re calling!”
Chelsea’s heart hammered in her ears. Had she scared him off? Did she want that? Why was her head already spinning? God dammit—even without his other voice, even in complete silence, Master somehow always kept her off-balance.
Finally, she heard his throat clear. “I-I was wondering…if you…maybe…wanted to do another experiment?”
Chelsea’s grip tightened on the plastic case. “Like…with your…?”
“Yeah. With the um, with the Vox.”
“Oh, it’s what I’ve started calling it. You know, my ‘other voice.’”
“I see. The Vox,” Chelsea repeated. It felt like an incantation.
She paused. Dare she ask? “Are you…using it now?”
“What?” he exclaimed. “No! I wouldn’t—would never just, y’know, do that to you out of the blue.”
“Oh. Glad to hear it,” she lied.
“I mean…would that work?”
She hesitated. “You’re the one with the mind control powers. You tell me.”
There was another long pause. “Do you…want to test it?” Master asked.
Shit. Shit shit shit shit. “Well…I-I’ll…admit I’m…curious,” she laughed uneasily. This was torture. Of all the supernatural hypnotists she could have to encountered, why did hers have to be the sensitive type? Why didn’t he just take what he wanted and get it over with?
“Alright.” A shaky breath came over the phone speakers. “So, how about this: right now, over the phone, I’ll try to convince you to send me a, um, a sexy picture. Using the Vox.”
Chelsea hesitated. “By…‘sexy’ do you mean, like…naked?”
“Um. Only if you’re c-cool with that.”
Chelsea closed her eyes. “I’m not ‘cool’ with it but…” The thought sent an illicit thrill through her body. Nude pics were absolutely forbidden in Chelsea’s world. They were vain. Dangerous. Exploitable. Any one of her mother’s enemies could use it to manipulate or humiliate the family. And yet…to capture herself for Master…to give him that power…
She exhaled. “It’s perfect.”
“W-well, it should be something I wouldn’t normally do, right?” she hastily added. “And this, um, fits the bill.”
“But you’re still okay with it?”
“I…yes, I mean no, I mean…” she shook her head. “It’s fine, okay? Just stop hedging and try it already. The suspense is killing me.”
“Okay,” Master took a deep breath.
“Can you hear me, Chelsea?”
Chelsea let out a gasp as The Vox descended on her. It was like rain falling on the desert floor, her parched mind eagerly soaking up each delicious morsel. “Yes, Master,” she answered.
“That’s good. It sounds like you already remember the way my voice makes you feel.”
“Y-yes,” Chelsea’s brow furrowed. Something was off.
“So relaxed and compliant.”
Relaxed and…wait. “Master?”
A pause. “Yes?”
“Something’s…not right,” Chelsea managed to say, the haze in her mind clearing faster than usual.
“Are you saying you want to stop?” Master sounded concerned.
“N-no!” Chelsea quickly answered. “It’s just…um…” She sat heavily on the bed, trying to get a grip on the strange feeling overtaking her. She could still feel the Vox pulling at her mind, but the crackles and compression of audio were like rocks and branches in a river, hitches for her thoughts to catch on, preventing the current from sweeping her away.
“I think…” she finally said, “I think the phone is making the Vox less…clear.”
“I see.” Master sighed. “Can you tell me how that feels?”
“It’s, it’s like…” Chelsea thought for a moment. “Like I’m hearing an echo of the Vox. I still feel it, and there’s a part of my brain that knows it should respond. But it’s um, it’s not as…overwhelming, like before.”
“Hmmm….” Chelsea could picture Master’s frown as he considered the problem. A part of her felt a spark of pride at having stumped him, of proving that she wasn’t completely powerless. Another part felt guilty, as if she were letting him down by not succumbing like a good subject. And yet both sides of her knew, deep down, that Master’s thoughtful eyes held a dangerous gleam, one that would allow him to pierce her armor eventually. She feared. She hoped.
“I noticed you still call me ‘Master,’” he said, “even though I didn’t tell you to this time.”
“Um, yes…Master,” Chelsea confirmed, a little apprehensive.
“In fact, I think I heard you call me that when you answered the phone, even before I started using the Vox. Is that true?”
Chelsea’s lips instinctively parted to answer, but she clamped her mouth shut. It was too embarrassing. The idea that he had somehow permanently altered her, that her subservience to him had become reflexive in any way…it was too hot and humiliating to say out loud.
Master laughed. Even over the phone, the sound caused Chelsea’s heart to skip a beat. “The fact that you’re not answering confirms that the Vox is less powerful over the phone. But it’s also as good as a confession…you do think of me as your Master, don’t you?”
Chelsea felt her face flush. But she managed to keep silent.
“I think it’s safe to say that I can’t control you like this, but I can still influence you. Especially since a part of you seems so eager to comply.”
“D-don’t get cocky,” Chelsea gripped the hem of her tank-top. “No matter what I call you, I’m still Chelsea Jaeger. I don’t go down without a fight.”
“Even when it would feel so good to lose?”
Chelsea didn’t trust herself to answer.
“You keep your phone on ‘vibrate’ don’t you?”
“Um, yes, Master.”
“Let me make a prediction,” Master continued. She could almost detect the cunning smirk in his voice. “Next time your phone vibrates, you will strip for me, take a sexy picture of yourself, and send it to my number. It will happen very naturally and instinctually—your conscious mind may not even notice it happening, but your subconscious will do as I command. Because it knows I am your Master. Isn’t that right?”
“Y…” Chelsea bit her tongue. “We’ll see.”
“You don’t believe me?”
“I think you’re underestimating me. We’ve only spoken twice, and already you’re acting like you know me better than I do. I think I’m more in control of my subconscious than you think.”
“And yet you still call me ‘Master,’ don’t you?”
“That…” Chelsea thought for a moment, trying to formulate an answer. She barely even noticed the slight tingle of the phone buzzing against her cheek. “That’s not a subconscious desire. That’s…something else. Something the Vox did to me.”
The answer apparently surprised her Master. “What do you mean?”
“I…I don’t know for sure,” she admitted, absently putting the phone on speaker. “But I think something you said last time, like, imprinted on me after you…made me come. Ever since then, I…I have to force myself not to call you Master.” She cast her eyes down. “Even in my head.”
“Hm…maybe the Vox can have even greater effects than we thought.” Master mused. “That’s very interesting.” He paused. “Almost as interesting as the photo you sent me.”
Chelsea stiffened. “What?”
“Look at your phone, Chelsea.”
Chelsea blinked and did as she was told. There was a text from Master sent only a couple minutes ago:
And below it, in reply, she had sent a picture. Of herself. Kneeling and nude in front of her standing mirror.
The image sent a shockwave of embarrassment and arousal through her body. It was a perfectly horrifying and horrifyingly perfect. Her pale thighs were spread wide, her one hand holding her phone while the other cupped her naked breast, teasing her hardened nipple with the tips her fingers. Her eyes were unfocused and half-lidded, her mouth open in the midst of arguing with Master’s theories, all the while unaware she was proving them that very moment.
“Do you see what I mean?”
“Yes Master,” Chelsea looked down, and realized that she was still on her knees, goosebumps tickling her flesh, her pussy salivating. A faint impulse told her to stand and cover up, to hide her defeat and shame. But she couldn’t move. Her body felt so heavy all of a sudden. It was so easy, so right to remain where she was, staring at the picture on her phone.
Master had won—he bent her subconscious to his designs. All without her even noticing.
No, it was even worse than that: she had been fighting a losing battle all night, she just had been too blind to realize it. Every step of the way, she could’ve broken his hold on her. She could have refused his challenge, could have hung up at any time—hell, she could’ve rejected the call and blocked his number with a few swipes of her thumb.
Yet she hadn’t. No matter how many escape routes presented themselves, she had crawled dutifully down the path of submission. Even as her conscious mind denied it, perhaps this is who she really was. A hopeless, helpless slave—a horny plaything for her Master’s whims. Eager, no, desperate, to obey.
Chelsea shivered, her breath becoming short and hot. How had she fallen this far? To hand over the tools of her own destruction and humiliation so easily? How had she gone from a proud heiress of wealth and power, to a submissive, empty-headed whore? From the jewel of the Jaeger family to a…a…
“Good girl,” Master murmured. And Chelsea’s entire world melted.
“Thank you, Master,” she whispered. And she meant it.
He sighed, satisfied. “You’ve done very well today. And I think I’ve proven my point. So I will wish you goodnight and—”
“W-wait!” Chelsea exclaimed, almost falling on all fours.
“Huh? W-what’s wrong?”
“I…I…” Chelsea tried to control her quivering voice. “I don’t want it to be over yet. I…want to go further. I…I want to see you.”
There was a long pause. She could hear Master’s deep breaths as the seconds went by. Inhale, exhale. An eternity passed in between.
“Are you alone?” he finally murmured.
Chelsea hesitated. “No Master,” she confessed. “My roommates are home.”
“Mine too.” Another excruciating pause. “Do you know where we can find some privacy?”
Chelsea swallowed. She did know a place. But it was public. Risky. It would probably be empty now, but if it wasn’t—if anyone caught her and Master together—there truly would be no going back.
And yet, could she really go back now? Could she hang up and return to her lonely night of waiting? Of worrying? Of wishing desperately for answers?
Her eyes drifted to the picture on her phone. Perhaps that was answer enough.
“Do you know where the graduate library is?” she asked her Master.