“I need you to do something for me Rachel. I need you to forget everything that happened since Friday that involved my program. I need you to forget everything about the program. Forget everything I did to you with the program. Forget everything we did together with the program. No more memories of any of these things, no more triggers, forget it all. As far as you’re concerned, you had a normal weekend.”
* * *
Rachel tried to stifle her yawn with the arm that had been propping her head up when the credits finally appeared on screen. Her other hand laid comfortingly along her friend’s stomach. She looked down at Janet, soundly asleep on her lap, the dim light from the tv illuminating her face with a soft glow.
Rachel smiled warmly at her friend, appreciating the peaceful look on her face. It was a look that brought relief to Rachel.
She argued the merits of spending the night on the couch with her, if only to avoid potentially disturbing Janet by getting up. She sat there silently for a few more minutes, the DVD looping back to the main menu, before deciding to take the risk.
Reaching down, Rachel cradled Janet’s head carefully in her hands as she twisted her body out from under her. With almost practiced dexterity, she deftly placed a pillow where she once sat, slowly and gently lowering Janet’s head onto it. When Janet made no indication of stirring, Rachel straightened up, proud of her accomplishment. With one last delicate move, she pulled the blanket up past Janet’s shoulders. Good thing she’s a heavy sleeper, Rachel mused.
Turning around, Rachel picked up the remote to shut their devices off. She made her way across the room and towards the hallway, staying on her toes and carefully avoiding the creaky spot on the floor. Entering her room, Rachel closed her door quietly before turning on the lamp next to the bed.
I feel like I lost a friend today. Rachel wondered whom Janet was referring to when she said that. The two only shared a few friends, and Rachel couldn’t see how any of them could have done something to affect Janet in such a way. She’d like to ask the girl, but wasn’t sure if she should pry. Maybe Janet will tell her when she was ready.
Whomever it was, Rachel was sure to get back at them for making Janet upset. How anyone could do that was beyond her. While preparing for bed, she began thinking of all the girls she wished it was, just so she could have an excuse to slap them. The idea left her chuckling. Every girl she despised began running through her head, even if they didn’t know Janet.
Dressed in her pajamas, Rachel crawled into bed. She arranged her pillows so that she could comfortably relax with her back against the headboard, wiggling her body to get into the perfect position. Satisfied, Rachel reached over and opened her nightstand drawer, pulling out her diary. Grabbing her pen, she flipped through the pages to find the latest entry.
A small square of paper slipped from the diary. What the fuck? She picked it up. It looked to be the same kind of material used for receipts. Rachel turned it over, noticing a phone number written on the other side. She looked for any other markings, finding none. She studied the number. It wasn’t one she recognized. With a look of confusion, she placed the paper on her nightstand, returning to her diary.
Rachel returned to the page the paper fell from. She scanned Sunday’s entry, the contents unrecognizable to her. She went back a day. Looking closely at the words, she scrutinized key letters. There was no mistaking it; it was definitely written by her, but she had no memory of writing them.
She flipped through more until she found the first section that she recognized, dated Thursday. “Three whole days,” she muttered. Rachel tried to think of what had happened over the past three days. She had a strong sense that it had been a normal weekend, but when she tried to recall any details, the days felt blank. Her last concrete memory was coming home from class on Friday. After that... the only thing that came to mind was that she had a normal weekend.
Rachel closed her eyes tightly and pinched the bridge of her nose. I must be tired, she thought. She shook her head before glancing back at the foreign words. They remained unchanged. “Crap”.
Through equal parts morbid curiosity and apprehension, Rachel began reading the first offending entry.
Friday, 5/20Technically writing this Saturday morning.No way I could have written last night.Not after what happened! My arms are STILL sore.Don’t even know where to begin with today.Mistress made a thing.A program of sorts, on her tablet.Don’t know how it works,but it can make me do things. Feel things.She somehow made a device that she can controlpeople with. Like, actually control.First she made me call her mistress.As is evident, I can’t even write her name.Never knew she was such a perv.I admit I was pretty mad about it. Whatever.After what happened later, I can forgive her.Weird thing is, that could be her program talking.She made me okay with what she had done to me.I’m aware of that, too, and yet I’m not bothered.Spooooky.And then she did the toothbrush thing. Her ‘apology’.I don’t think words could ever describe what happened.It was like every orgasm I’ve ever felt, butcombined into one in the span of... I’m not even surehow long it lasted. Too bad it seems to be a one time event.Just thinking about it... Gotta go entry done! <3
Saturday, 5/21No matter how hard I tried,I just couldn’t satisfy myself today.Nothing can compare to last night.That’s not to say things were... bad...But they certainly don’t compare to last night.I’m just left trying to chase after memories.Mistress left her tablet here.I tried using it, but couldn’t unlock it.Damn password.I just wanted to scratch this itch, since I hadnothing else to distract me.Mistress was out of town most of the day.Had an argument with her when she got home.She said she’s worried about what she did to me.Doesn’t like how I’m reacting to her program.I tried explaining to her that I’m fine.She can be so thick-headed.It feels so good, so what’s the problem?I’m still not so sure she believes me.Anyways, Mistress promised she’d useher program on me again tomorrow.Don’t know what she plans on doing,but if it’s anything like last night’s surprise...Have fun, Tomorrow-Rachel! <3
Sunday, 5/22Janet sure knows how to get a girl worked up.Oh yeah, she finally fixed that ‘Mistress’ thing.She took me shopping, after using her program on me.She made me a passenger in my own body.And it felt SO GOOD.Janet made me feel so good.The girl at the store was so speechless, it was amazing!The look on her face.I think she wrote her number and put it in our bags.
Rachel glanced warily at the paper on her nightstand before returning to the diary.
I managed to hide it later, before Janet noticed.Maybe I should call the girl up some time?Anyways, back to Janet, and what she did for me. <3When we got home, she told me that I would feeleverything that she felt, and then some.And then she started masturbating, right in front of me!She was so cute, and she drove me so wild.She woke me up and I couldn’t help myself.I wanted her so bad.I think I might love her.But... she’s only doing this for Melanie.Tomorrow we’re supposed to meet with my teacher.Janet’s going to use Ms. Gilio to get to Melanie.I don’t know what to do.I promised I’d help her.I just don’t know what will happen with us after that.Do I say something? Do I stop her?Why does she want Melanie over me?Either way, tomorrow should be interesting.
Rachel was left dumbfounded, refusing to believe what was written in her own handwriting. There’s no way something so fantastical could happen, not when her weekend was so normal.
This had to be a prank. Janet found her diary, and wrote in it as a joke. Rachel felt betrayed at the invasion of privacy. Except... Janet wasn’t one to pull pranks. Not even failed ones. Plus, Rachel couldn’t see how Janet could forge her penmanship so convincingly. It was spot on. There’s no way that Janet...
I think I might love her. Rachel kept returning to that one line. She ran her finger over the words. Janet was her friend, nothing more. She never had any kind of further interest in the girl. She enjoyed her company, and cared deeply for the her, but that was it. Completely platonic.
She read through the pages again. The details sounded just as absurd as before. If it was true, and Rachel felt dumb for actually humoring the idea, that meant Janet had actually created a mind-control device. What if her confusion was a result of the device? Did it malfunction, or was this Janet’s intention?
She once again tried to recall what happened over the past few days, but it was a normal weekend. She was as sure of that as she was of her name. No, there had to be some other answer. Maybe she didn’t remember anything that happened because it was such a normal weekend?
She thought back further. She remembered details about other days. She went to class. She went shopping with Janet. I think I love her. She even remembered what she cooked Thursday night. She tried to think of anything that she ate the past few days, but it was a normal weekend.
Rachel was growing frustrated. She glanced at the paper on the nightstand again, studying the number. She considered calling it, but couldn’t work up the courage. She caught sight of the time on the clock, shocked at how long she had stayed up reading her diary.
She read the entries again. The dichotomy of her normal weekend and the insanity of the words on a page, and their implications, were making her head spin. She dropped the book on the bed and steadied herself against the backboard.
Rachel heard a creak coming from the hallway. Her eyes focused on the door to her bedroom. Silently, she reached over to turn off her light. She remained fixated on the door as she adjusted to the darkness.
After some shuffling, she finally heard Janet’s bedroom door close. She placed her diary back in the drawer, not wanting to turn the light back on to read it.
Sliding further under the covers, Rachel adjusted her pillows before placing her head atop them. She brought her knees up to her chest as she lay on her side. She glared at the nightstand that contained her diary, almost afraid of its contents, afraid that what was written could be true.
Rachel continued her attempts to resolve the entanglement her mind found itself in until she grew too tired from the ordeal and finally fell asleep.
* * *
She awoke with a start. Her dreams were plagued with the passages of her handwritten words. She dreamt of Janet controlling her. I think I love her. And in her dreams, she loved every minute of it.
Rachel cursed at the memory. She cursed at the whole situation. She brought her diary back out, staring at the front, not wanting to open it. She wasn’t going to open it again. She wasn’t going to give it anymore thought. It had to be fake. All of it. So what if she had a normal weekend. It’s not like that was a bad thing, she argued.
She jumped at the soft knock on her door.
“Rachel, are you in there?” Janet called out.
She should just ask Janet about it all. She could confirm it was a joke and the two of them could laugh about how ridiculous it all was. A mind control program... like such a thing could possibly exist. No, it was fake, and Janet was her friend. She was certainly not someone who would go about controlling others. Everything in the diary had to be false.
Rachel got up from her bed, closing the empty drawer of the nightstand. She would show the entries to Janet. She could use a good laugh. She made for the door.
“I’m heading off to class. I have to stop by Ms. Gilio’s office afterwards, so I’m gonna be home a bit later than usual, okay?”
Rachel stopped in the middle of the room. Janet’s going to use Ms. Gilio to get to Melanie. That’s what it said in her diary. How did Janet know about Ms. Gilio? Rachel was certain she never mentioned her teacher to her friend, though she wasn’t exactly confident in the reliability of her memory at this point. If it’s true Janet couldn’t have known about Ms. Gilio, then the only explanation she could think of would be... Rachel didn’t want to admit it, but perhaps there was some credence for what was in her diary.
Her resolve was shattered. Rachel’s mind once again became a torrent of conflict. She shook her head. She couldn’t think straight. What had Janet done to her? What was she planning on doing? How could Janet—sweet, innocent, wallflower Janet—do the things detailed in her diary?
Rachel became aware that she hadn’t responded yet. She feared Janet entering her room if she didn’t say anything. “Okay. Have fun,” she called out to the stranger behind the door.
She waited until she heard the front door close, and then she waited some more. The situation was wearing her down. She decided she needed to get her mind off things.
Hastily dressing for class, Rachel cared little for her actual appearance at the time. She made her way to the front door, stopping in the hallway. She tapped her finger on her leg. Fuck class. She turned around to grab the slip of paper on her nightstand.
The phone rang once. Twice.
A girl’s voice. Rachel didn’t recognize it. The feeling was becoming tiresome.
“Hello?” the girl called out again with a twinge of annoyance.
“Um...,” Rachel began. She wasn’t sure what she could say that wouldn’t make her sound like she was crazy. “I... I found your number.”
“Congratulations. Here’s your reward. It’s the sound of a phone hanging up.”
“Wait! Wait... I think you gave it to me? Over the weekend.” There was a pause. Rachel wondered if the stranger actually did hang up.
“Oh! The girl at my store, with her weird friend?” Her tone changed completely, now sounding sweet and friendly. “I didn’t think you were going to call back.”
“Yeah, um... can we meet up, in person? Are you free right now?”
“Ooh, straight to the point. I like that,” the stranger purred. “Sure, just stop by the store at anytime.”
“Where... exactly was that again?”
“You were just here a few days ago. Do you not remember?”
Rachel hung up the phone after she wrote down the address. She was apprehensive about meeting this person; she didn’t know how implicit she was in everything. However, she may be able to give confirmation to what exactly happened during her normal weekend. Had Janet done the things described in her diary, or was Rachel actually slipping into some sort of insanity? As she left the house, she wasn’t sure which option was better.
* * *
Violet Desire. Rachel read the unlit neon sign that decorated the store front. On the door, another sign was illuminated, advertising that the store was closed. She tried to look through the tinted windows from a distance, not wanting to approach the building. She checked the address, verifying it was what she wrote. She crumpled the paper in her hand, stuffing it into her pocket.
Rachel approached the door, knocking tentatively. Part of her hoped no one would answer, that she had just misheard the girl and wrote down the wrong address. She stood next to the door awkwardly, trying to avoid being seen by other people. There was little to block her view from her surroundings.
Within short order, Rachel heard the sound of the door unlocking as it opened before her. A green-haired girl appeared in the entrance.
“Oh,” she exclaimed. “I thought you were the other one.” The girl looked Rachel up and down, causing her to blush. “Not exactly dressed to impress... well, come on in.” She stepped to the side, opening the way for Rachel to scramble through, thankful to be off the sidewalk.
The interior was dark, the lights turned off. The only source of illumination being whatever filtered through the mostly-opaque windows. Rachel looked around, feeling anxious. It wasn’t exactly the kind of place she expected to have a conversation.
“So, did she send you over here, or does she allow you some freedom to do what you want at certain times?” the stranger asked nonchalantly. She walked past Rachel towards the other side of the store.
Rachel jumped slightly, almost forgetting the stranger was there. “I’m sorry?”
The girl stopped next to a door near the back, turning to face Rachel. “She said you were into role-play. Was that not some sort of owner-slave scenario you two were doing the other day?” She looked a touch disappointed.
“Look, this isn’t exactly the location I had expected when I asked to meet up...,” Rachel proclaimed, furtively glancing at the shelves around the store.
“That’s why we’re going to my room upstairs. I live on the second floor. You coming?” She waited impatiently on Rachel.
The door opened to reveal a set of stairs as Rachel followed the girl up. At the top, they walked through another door that led to a small studio. The walls were painted a dark blue, with no windows in sight. A single light in the center of the ceiling was all there was to brighten the room.
The green-haired girl led Rachel over to a couch in the corner, kicking a few scattered clothes out of the way. She gestured for Rachel to sit.
“Sorry, I’m Rachel. I didn’t catch your name.”
Looking displeased, the girl responded. “Violet. I must have misunderstood, why are you here again? Because I thought this was a hookup.”
Rachel’s eyes went wide with shock. “What? No!” She watched the girl plop down on the other side of the couch, sighing.
When nothing was said, Violet turned to Rachel, gesturing to indicate she was waiting for her to continue.
Rachel had never felt so uncomfortable in front of someone before. She desperately wanted to just get up and leave, but that meant returning with no answers. She didn’t want to go back without something. “I was hoping you could tell me what happened the day you met my... friend and I.”
Violet thought back to that day. She remembered how the girl entered the store, with Rachel following behind her. The look on Rachel’s face, the way the girl pulled her along, drove Violet wild. The memory was a stark contrast to the person sitting next to her currently. “Why?”
“Because I can’t remember a single thing about that day,” Rachel responded, a look of determination showing in her eyes.
Violet’s interest was piqued at Rachel’s statement. Her rough demeanor relaxed. While she may not get what she expected out of this interaction, she did admit there was something interesting about Rachel. She decided to humor the girl.
“The two of you came into my shop to buy some sex toys.” Violet closed her eyes, imagining the scene from memory. “She was leading you around, like a doll. You didn’t speak, didn’t move, unless she moved you.” Violet purred.
Rachel stared in shock. Her diary... Violet’s testimony basically confirms that part of it. That means... “she actually did it...”
“What did ‘she’ do?”, Violet asked, bringing Rachel’s attention back to her. “I think it’s only fair you tell me what’s going on.”
“I think Janet made an actual mind-control device,” Rachel explained, almost trying to convince herself of the idea, still unable to actually believe it.
Violet studied the girl in front of her carefully. “How do you know?”
Rachel went through everything that happened. She told Violet about how her last memory before her normal weekend was coming home from school on Friday. How she recalled Janet crying over a lost friend Monday night. How she went to go write in her diary, only to find entries in her handwriting that she didn’t remember. She went over the contents of those entries, and how Janet somehow knew about Ms. Gilio. How she was going to use her teacher to get to her crush, Melanie.
Violet listened to the girl as she rattled off all the details, a mischievous glint in her eye. When Rachel had finished talking, she paused for a moment, contemplating what she had been told. “That’s a fascinating story, but I don’t appreciate you wasting my time like this.” She stood up, dejected.
Rachel stared at her, exasperated. “It’s true! It has to be!”
“Either the both of you are trying to play a joke on me, or she’s trying to play a joke on you. Either way, I want no part in it.” Violet approached the door, opening it and stepping to the side. When Rachel made no move to get up, she sighed. “Mind control? Really? That’s science fiction. Your friend is playing you. She wrote those things in your journal, or paid someone to do it. Shouldn’t be hard to find out who your teachers are, either. And to mention that same teacher after she wrote it? Nah, it’s too convenient, and you’re falling for her act.”
Rachel’s ears perked up at the last sentence. She thought about last night, when she had to console Janet during the movie. Rachel smiled. “That’s evidence right there,” she said with a short exhale of breath. “Janet couldn’t act to save her life. I’ve seen her try, it’s awful.”
“Well, I still don’t believe you, so if you don’t mind, I have a store to open.” Violet once again gestured towards the door.
Rachel scrambled off the couch. “What if I can get proof? The program is on her tablet, I’ll just bring the tablet. Although...” Rachel paused in thought. Her diary said she wasn’t able to get past the password. She certainly couldn’t just ask Janet for it. There had to be a way. She began pacing the room.
Violet grew visibly annoyed as she leaned against the wall by the door, her head thudding softly against it. She watched Rachel move about, hearing the girl muttering, the words incomprehensible from this distance.
“Could work...,” Rachel spoke to herself. She turned to Violet. “I think I can bring it, but it’ll be late.”
Violet sighed again. “Do what you want. At the very least, maybe she’ll have some interesting porn on there. For now, we’re done.”
Violet watched as Rachel descended the staircase. When she heard the front entrance door close, she plopped down on her couch, a grin spreading across her face.
Part of Rachel was relieved to finally be out of that place. She found Violet to be unpleasant, and under different circumstances would be happy if she never saw the store owner again. She was so convinced that her assumptions were correct, and Violet refused to believe her. Rachel would show her she was right, even if it meant ‘borrowing’ Janet’s laptop to do so.
For now, she just had to pass the time until she could enact her plan. Rachel glanced at her phone. A lot of time. She whimpered as the anxiety crept back in, now that she was once again alone with her thoughts.
* * *
Rachel had decided to attend what remained of her courses for the day, and seeing her friends helped some. Pretending that everything was fine around them, however, was exhausting. Faking a smile and dismissing their concerns with a simple explanation that she was ‘just tired’ seemed a far better option than telling them the truth, though. Not that Rachel thought anyone would believe her. Violet didn’t, but she would fix that.
After classes, she caught a movie, picking the first one she saw on the screen. It didn’t matter what the movie was, just as long as she had something to distract her. She watched it passively. She was brought back to reality as the ushers began cleaning up. The lights had already come on, the other viewers long since dispersed. By the time she left the theater, the sun had gone down. Out of ideas of how to pass the time, Rachel began heading home.
She carefully listened outside her dorm door. Hearing no discernible sounds coming from inside, she cautiously entered. The lights were off. Janet must not be home yet. Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. She wasn’t sure what would happen when she finally saw her. It was inevitable, but for now, the longer she could hold off confronting Janet, the better. Hopefully by then she’ll have figured out what to say, what she needed to do.
Rachel climbed into bed, leaving her door cracked slightly as she positioned her back to it and waited. She did her best to shut her brain off, but wasn’t faring too well in that regard. She resigned herself to it. An hour passed. It felt like more.
At last she heard the front door open. A vaguely familiar voice was speaking. She then heard Janet’s voice, causing her to stiffen up. She couldn’t quite make out the words. There was a thud, followed by more words.
Rachel listened as the two began approaching the hallway. She could hear them kissing now as they stumbled closer. Every now and then, there would be a bang on her wall, followed by Janet growling in frustration.
When the two passed her bedroom door, Rachel carefully let out a sigh of relief. She wasn’t aware that she had been holding her breath.
The other girl had to be Melanie. It was the only thing that made sense. Janet had done it. She did exactly what Rachel’s diary said she would do. She is controlling the girl’s mind, and fucking her in the other room. Why does she want Melanie over me? The intrusive thoughts returned.
Part of Rachel still held out hope that there was another explanation, that Janet was the same Janet she always knew. With Melanie here, Rachel finally understood. The words in her diary weren’t her words. They were Janet’s words, written by Rachel’s hand. Janet used her, manipulated her. I think I might love her. Rachel felt sick. Her mind tried coming to terms with everything while she could hear the screams from Janet’s room in the background.
* * *
Suddenly everything was quiet. Rachel opened her eyes. Despite everything, she had managed to fall asleep. She sat up. For the first time today her mind was quiet. She glanced at her clock. It was as good a time as any. She left her bedroom.
Janet’s door was left open. Moonlight flooded the room, casting shadows over the naked bodies asleep on the bed. Rachel stood in the doorway, one hand placed casually on the frame. Janet was facing her, laying on her right side. Behind her was Melanie, her left arm draped over Janet’s stomach. The two slept peacefully, with barely a movement aside from the slow rise and fall of their breathing. Rachel stared at them... and felt nothing.
She quietly entered the room, careful to not make any sound. Almost immediately she spotted the tablet placed upon the nightstand. She approached it and carefully picked it up, examining it closely. Rachel flipped open the keyboard attached to the tablet, searching diligently for the sensor. Without it, her plan wouldn’t work. She breathed a sigh of relief when she spotted it.
Rachel glanced over at Janet, carefully working out how next to proceed. She looked down at the sleeping-girl’s hands. Laying on her right side, Janet’s right arm emerged from under her stomach at the elbow, her left arm laying on top of it just below the wrist. Her open palm was facing upwards.
Rachel laid the tablet face-down on the bed, opening the keyboard 180-degrees. She turned the tablet on, hoping the light would be blocked enough to not wake the girl. Carefully, she reached down to grab Janet’s index finger.
Janet shifted slightly, a light moan escaping from her mouth, as she brought her arm further under her stomach. Rachel froze. She studied Janet’s face for an entire minute before allowing herself to relax. Janet was still asleep.
Using her left hand, Rachel carefully extended Janet’s finger, raising it slightly. With careful maneuvering, she held the keyboard above it. Using her own thumb to feel for the location of the sensor, Rachel adjusted the keyboard slightly. She watched for a change in the light, as she slowly lowered the device.
Rachel frowned, feeling the pressure of her concentration. She kept making quick glances at the two figures on the bed. She tried a different alignment of the keyboard, daintily pressing it against the finger in her hand. Waiting patiently, she almost shouted out in joy when the color from the screen changed as it threw its light upon the bed sheet.
She slowly released her grip on Janet’s finger, once again studying her face for any reaction. Seeing none, she stood up, turning the laptop over to face her.
Rachel saw the puppy wallpaper of Janet’s desktop as the glow from the device washed over her face. She tapped the screen, making sure the tablet didn’t go to sleep. With one last furtive glance at the two on the bed, Rachel made her way out of the building.
* * *
Violet yawned as she opened the door for Rachel, her eyes half lidded. She grimaced when the tablet was shoved in her face, the light blinding her in the darkness of the night.
“I got it!” Rachel exclaimed proudly. She pushed past Violet as she entered the store.
“Come on in,” Violet spoke to where Rachel had previously stood while performing an exaggerated gesture of invitation. She shut the door and turned to follow Rachel, the other girl already proceeding up the stairs. By the time she entered the studio, Rachel was seated at a table, the tablet set upon it facing her. She saw Rachel look up to her, tears wetting her cheeks.
Violet frowned. “What’s wrong with you? I thought you’d be happy after finding your supposed proof.”
Rachel’s lip quivered, her voice trembling as she tried to speak. “I saw her. She was there, and... and Melanie. They were... were... it was just like the diary...” Rachel sniffled. She reached up to wipe her face. “It’s all true. Everything. She... she...” Rachel looked back at Violet with blurry vision. “How could she do this to me?!” Her shoulders shook as she sobbed. She tapped on the screen of the tablet, the device sliding slightly from the force. She propped her head on her arm, holding her hand over her eyes.
Violet approached the table, sitting down at the other end. “If you’re looking for me to console you, you’ve got the wrong idea,” she said with a frown, shifting uncomfortably in her seat. She watched as Rachel shook her head in her hand. “So your friend used you. Big deal. You’ll get over it.” She looked away from the crying girl.
Rachel attempted to compose herself, with little success. She tapped the screen again. “What am I supposed to do? I just... I don’t understand.”
Violet remained silent, keeping her gaze directed at the floor, the walls, anywhere but towards Rachel.
Rachel sniffled. “This just isn’t like her. She was always so sweet. So kind. I looked up to her. I respected her. She was my best friend.” Silence. She let out a puff of air. She began speaking with a deeper, raspy voice. “It was the cutest thing, you know, when we met,” Rachel explained matter-of-factly. Violet glanced up at her. “I found out about her crush.” She furrowed her brow. “About Melanie. God, I teased her so much about it. The little thing, she just took it in stride. Didn’t huff, or puff, or fight back. She would just blush. She was like a tiny mouse, eyeing the most extravagant cheese inside a shop. I never questioned her aspirations. If I had... if I had known what she was planning...” Rachel stared hard at the ground. “And I’m just left wondering... why did she have to mess me up so much just to get what she wanted? All these fond memories of her, and they just don’t connect with the kind of person that would do this to me...” Rachel looked up when she felt the hand on her shoulder.
Violet was standing over her now, a look of sympathy in her eyes. “I suppose you can take solace in the fact that you’re back to...” she began, before quickly pulling her hand away, staring at Rachel.
Rachel looked looked up at Violet, noticing the look of foreboding in the girl’s eyes. “Back to what?”
Violet averted her gaze. Speaking quickly, she added, “It’s nothing, don’t worry about it.” Rachel pleaded to her to explain. With a crestfallen tone, Violet explained, “I was just thinking, you were saying you had all these nice memories of this Janet, and they don’t match with what you said Janet has done to you.” Rachel nodded. “How do we know these nice memories are actually real? You seem to have implied that she can erase your memories, who’s to say she can’t create ones as well? It might be impossible to know which of your memories are true, and which are fabrications. Maybe the you that you feel you are... is nothing but another diary entry?” Violet tapped the screen.
The color drained from her face as Rachel listened to Violet’s concerned words. “No...” she cried out. She lowered her head as she clutched her stomach in her arms. “No... I...” She began rocking back and forth. “That can’t be...”
She thought back to her childhood, back to the time that she tried to climb a tree before falling, breaking her arm. The memory became nothing more than a date and some words in her mind. She jumped forward. Her first kiss in middle school, now reduced to a string of numbers and sentences. The family vacation after she graduated. Were there actually any pictures, or was the vacation just a collection of letters on a page?
Rachel held her head in her hands, the room seeming to spin around her. “Please...,” she whimpered. She fell to her knees, reaching up and grabbing Violet roughly by the wrist. “Make it stop.”
Violet stared down at her, expressionless. “Tell me what you want me to do.”
“Something. Anything. I don’t know,” Rachel pleaded, her voice choked. “I can’t go on like this. How can I if I don’t even know who I am anymore. What if I were to go home to see my family, my friends, and they’re not there. Replaced by some strangers who don’t know me, because the family I thought I knew is just some falsification created by Janet and her...”
Rachel’s eyes went wide with a sudden revelation. She scrambled frantically back into her chair, grabbing the tablet and turning it towards Violet. “We can use this,” she exclaimed, her voice suddenly full of hope.
Violet scoffed. “Don’t get ahead of yourself. Do you know how dangerous that can be? We don’t even know how it works.” She tapped the screen. “We could end up doing more harm than good. No, I think you should try to think of another way.” She studied Rachel’s face intently.
“What if this is the only way?” Rachel cried out. “Please, I’m begging you. You don’t know what it’s like to question your entire existence like this. Please...” Rachel’s vision began to blur again. She watched Violet’s cold stare. “Please...”
With a sigh, Violet plopped down in the other chair, rotating the tablet back towards Rachel. “I’ll try, but I’m not responsible for anything that happens, ya hear? You asked for this.”
Rachel nodded as she turned her attention to the screen. She scanned through the computer looking for where the program might be. It didn’t take long to find, with an executable contained in a folder titled Melanie. She scrolled the mouse over the file, her finger ready to tap the touch-pad to open it. She glanced up at Violet, unable to read the other girl’s face. With a deep but shaky breath, she looked back down and tapped the keyboard.
The screen went blank momentarily before bursting to life in a vivid array of colors and shapes that flitted about. Rachel studied the screen. She felt a dull sense of nostalgia, but wasn’t sure if it was anything more than an expectation in her mind.
“Is it running?” Violet asked.
With a nod, Rachel replied, “I think so.”
“Talk to me. What do you see? Do you feel anything?”
Rachel swallowed before letting her mouth hang open slightly. “It’s so beautiful... I’ve never seen anything so beautiful... it makes me feel... safe...” Her breathing calmed down, becoming more even and steady. Her face relaxed, no longer distorted by an expression of abject despair. “It’s nice... I don’t have to... don’t...,” she trailed off, her voice losing some of its character.
Violet leaned forward, analyzing Rachel carefully. “Don’t have to what, Rachel?”
Rachel’s eyes had been ever so slowly slipping closed. At the question from Violet, they widened almost imperceptibly. “Don’t have to... worry...,” she began, her mouth curving into a gentle smile. “About... anything...” Her mind was slowing down. Her thoughts came to her as if they were trying to gently crawl through honey.
A realization came to Rachel. She struggled against the pull of the program. Her smile faded to nothing on her face as she fought. She couldn’t let the program turn her brain off. With every ounce of strength left in her, she spoke out, her speech slurred. “Th... thank...you...” Her expression went completely slack. Her left hand, that had been resting on the edge of the table, slipped off. It tumbled limply to her side, swinging to and fro through its own momentum, before coming to a full stop.
Violet looked on with rapt attention. Was this it? She didn’t quite know what to expect. She waited for something to happen, but Rachel had stopped moving. The girl’s eyelids were half-lidded, her body slumped in the chair, her head leaning slightly forward. Violet could almost see the dance of light as the screen played across Rachel’s face and reflected off what little was still visible of the girl’s eyes.
“Rachel?” she called out tentatively. No response. She rose from her chair, approaching the oblivious girl. As she rounded the table, she glanced down at the screen of the tablet. Momentarily taking it in, she quickly redirected her gaze. As a precaution, she backed up a bit to avoid further exposure. She ignored the part of her softly badgering her to look again, refusing to even acknowledge its existence. She was stronger than such things.
“Can you hear me?” she called out.
With more breath than anything, Rachel responded, “Yes.”
“Je~sus, about time you stopped crying. So irritating,” she said out loud. Violet contemplated on how to go forth. Was there a procedure for this? Were there limits? She didn’t want to ask Rachel too much about it beforehand and risk making the girl suspicious. Such interrogations would probably be okay now, she decided.
“Rachel, if I told you to do something, right now, would you do it?” Harmless enough.
“Is there anything you wouldn’t do?”
“Explain,” Violet commanded, disappointed in the answer.
“I would only do things I am capable of doing,” Rachel intoned.
Violet rolled her eyes. “Obviously,” she spoke, more to herself than to Rachel. “If you were capable, though, you would do what I told you? Anything at all?”
Violet leaned against the table, her hands grabbing the edge. A chilling grin spread across her face as she continued to regard her victim. “Slap yourself.” Her full attention was on Rachel as she awaited the girl’s response.
Rachel lifted her left hand up and brought it across her cheek with a soft smack before slowly allowing it to return to where it was. Her expression remained the same as before as she continued to stare at the tablet, unthinking.
Violet’s eyes were wide with excitement at the display she just witnessed. “Harder.”
Once again Rachel’s hand rose up and connected with her face. Once again she returned to the same neutral position.
“Harder!” Violet shouted.
A loud crack echoed through the room. Rachel’s cheek flared red, but the girl made no reaction to the pain.
Violet gave a short laugh as she drummed on the table. She trembled, her blood pumping, as she felt the adrenaline run through her. “Oh, my my my. Such a wonderful gift you have brought me.” She walked up to Rachel, making sure to keep the tablet behind her and out of sight, before sitting on the edge, her right leg still supporting her on the floor.
She caressed the girl’s tender cheek delicately. “Right then, let’s get you ready for tomorrow. I can’t wait to see the look on Janet’s face.” She squeezed Rachel’s cheeks between her fingers, scrunching the girl’s lips, before dragging her thumb sensually across them. “I’m sure it will be quite... delicious.”