Carol read over the documents her lawyer had provided her at least 100 times on the private jet over to Homesville, KY. Another small town with a population of less than two hundred, right in the middle of nowhere; and with another small business selling homemade toys that were a bit too much like the ones her megacorporation sold. The Cease-and-Desist letter was almost a template at this point, for how many times Carol had sent them over to people.
Despite its repeated use, it was effective: every small business that Carol deemed was copying her ideas would stop its operations almost immediately after getting it. Sure, there would be a lot of tears and some curse words screamed at her, but it didn’t matter to her in the slightest. It was worth it, for the few extra hundred dollars she’d stuff into her estate. Besides, Carol couldn’t lie and say she didn’t sometimes get off on how miserable she made people. Especially people who were stealing her ideas.
She always hated the trips out, though. Many of these people were too dumb to know what emails were, and many of them didn’t even check their PO Boxes. So it was on Carol to fly out, hand them the letter, and try not to outwardly laugh at their tears. That was the only fun part. Otherwise, it was such a hassle to take time off, pack her bags, and fly to the nearest hotel. No, she wasn’t one to stay at a motel or AirBNB.
Her last trip out was to some town in the middle of fucking nowhere in North Carolina. She was all but driven out with pitchforks and torches. While she quite enjoyed people’s outrage after years of fighting to earn her standing, it did get tedious. Carol’s thoughts came to a halt when the jet began to land. As the jet touched the ground, Carol gathered her stuff with her assistant and made their way over to the hotel ASAP. Via limo, of course.
Luckily, it was only noon by the time Carol had arrived, so she had plenty of time to put her stuff down. She did just that, and called another limousine minutes later. They drove out as far as they could before the roads stopped. Carol huffed, got out, and decided to just walk the rest of the way. Her GPS stopped working, but that was fine. Surely, she couldn’t get lost in a town this barren.
Carol noted the myriad of holiday decorations lining the trees, houses, and small businesses. She almost forgot that it was the day before Christmas Eve. The holidays didn’t mean much to her personally, but financially was a whole other story. Being the CEO of a massive toys and games company, she always made bank by the time November rolled around. What could be more festive to her than shutting down a small mom and pop shop? Nothing said holiday spirit as much as that.
Speaking of, Carol realized she had just about arrived at her target. At least, she thought it was the right place. Who could run a business in a place like this? She scowled to herself, eyeing the “establishment”. It was an extremely run down building, the paint on the exterior peeling already. The sign on it, reading “Toys And Stuff”, creaked every time Carol took a step closer to it. It looked more like an old warehouse than a place of business. With a place like this, Carol couldn’t begin to imagine they were turning any sort of profit. That didn’t stop her, though.
Carol walked up to the door, knocking twice on it. Her knocks were loud and alarming, as she’d been told many times. It was a compliment. Eventually, the door swung open to show a very kind, and yet tired-looking older woman. She looked even more run down than the building she was in.
“Hello!” The woman greeted in a friendly, exhausted tone. She had clearly been working since sunrise, as she eyed the out of place businesslady up and down. “Um… how can I help you?”
“Good afternoon,” Carol replied with a fake smile. “My name is Carol. Are you the owner of this business?”
“Oh! Um, not really — but please, come inside, let me grab you some tea… My name’s Holly, by the way! I don’t think I know you…” The woman welcomed Carol inside, who faux-graciously accepted the offer.
“No need for tea,” Carol remarked, gazing around the exterior. It looked like the building hadn’t been refurbished in decades. It was normal, though. Many places focused more on utility than looks. Still, though, Carol felt like she was passing out from the seedy smell of hardwood. Holly left for a minute, calling out for someone else.
Carol looked around, clutching onto her $900 purse, the heavy scary legal documents, and shivering inside her $9,000 coat. Would it kill these people to at least turn up the heat? In the dead of winter, too! Carol was startled out of her thoughts when Holly returned with a much taller and younger-looking man. He had muscles for days, an apron that was filthy with wood shavings and paint. The mean businesslady almost winced looking at him.
“G’morning,” the man greeted with a heavy southern accent. “Nice to meet you, miss! My name’s Felix, welcome to Toys And Stuff. May I get your name?”
“It’s my pleasure, Felix. My name is Carol Brights.” Carol didn’t say anything else. Her name was so well known that the way Felix’s and Holly’s blood drained from their horrified faces was commonplace. Somehow, that was even better. “I’m sure you’ve heard of me.”
“W-w-what do you want?” Holly stammered, fear taking over her previously welcoming voice. “I swear, we’re not — we’re not trying to copy your ideas or anything! We just wanted to—“
“I’ve heard it before,” Carol interrupted, happily handing over the C&D letter. The family whipped it open in a millisecond. Carol could already sense their waterworks starting. “Feel free to read it over, and then, mm, you know what’s next.”
“How could you do this to us?!” Holly demanded, all but storming over to slap Carol. “We’re not even making a penny here! I… you… this is awful!”
“Thank you,” Carol sang as if it were a compliment.
“Now, listen here,” Felix interjected, somehow keeping his voice more level than his mother’s. “I don’t really understand all this fancy legal terminology, or how you’re making more money from this — but please, just give us this holiday, and then we’ll leave y’all alone. We just need enough to pay our rent and bills, and then we’ll never take your ideas again, promise on my heart.”
“Mm,” Carol hummed contemplatively. “After zero consideration, no. Buh-bye!”
Carol ran out the door as soon as she came in, leaving Holly in tears and Felix fuming. She began speed walking back to her ride that was loyally waiting out there for her. Her pace quickened; she didn’t want anyone to come after her and start screaming in her face or pleading with her diminishing consciousness.
“Hey, wait up, lady!”
Carol exhaled in frustration. She turned around to see the dumb rural himbo standing in front of her. He must have been a fast runner. Though, he was quite out of breath.
“Yes? What is it now?” Carol asked impatiently.
“Just hang on a second,” Felix started, trying to stop Carol from running off and ruining their lives. “I just want to hear your reasoning, ma’am, if you’re okay with that.”
“…Sure, why not,” Carol smiled back. “I worked hard to come up with my own ideas. Imagine spending your whole life from scratch, finally making it big, and then someone tries to steal your ideas. How would that feel to you, hmm?”
Felix scratched his head, trying his hardest to look sympathetic. “I dunno. I can’t reckon it’d feel good. But y’know — no idea is really original, and really, do you wanna go around telling people to stop? Like, you must have better things to do with your time, huh?”
Carol shrugged. “This is like vacation to me, I promise.”
That elicited nothing but a long, exasperated sigh. “You sound like you’re fun at parties. Must have a lot of friends and be real happy, if you’re having fun doing this to people.”
Carol laughed, stuffing her freezing cold hands in her jacket. “I’m quite happy, I promise.”
“You know, you’ve probably already heard this, but the money isn’t really what matters,” Felix continued trying to reason with her. “Money’s not that important in life. What truly matters is family, love, and the holiday spirit.”
Carol just about started laughing in his face. She heard this spiel many, many times before from people trying to get her to understand them. She was quite sick of it. “Those things might matter to you, but not to me. I have everything that matters to me, so… I’m happy.”
Felix then said something that pissed Carol off just enough to get her to snap and take drastic action. “How?” he asked, genuinely bewildered. “How can you be happy if all you care about in the world is making a few extra bucks?”
Carol’s smile changed from cruelly laughing at him, to bitter toxicity. She hated people interrogating her on how she was happy when she had all she wanted. This was her fifth time getting that this holiday season, and she’d just about had enough. Carol had one final thing in her toolbox that would make him shut up for good — and make him a valuable asset to her.
“Sure. Why don’t I show you?”
Felix chuckled, happy that she was willing to continue talking with him. At least, it seemed that way. Carol pulled out from her inner coat pocket, a gorgeous pocket watch engraved with her initials. Despite Felix’s above-average height, Carol still had the advantage of being taller than him. She held the pocket watch a bit above his eyes. He clearly was lacking in smarts, so he didn’t have the willpower to question what in the world she was doing.
“I know thinking is a little difficult for you. That’s okay,” Carol cooed in a soft spoken tone. “Just watch the pocket watch. Watch it sway back and forth, as your mind just follows… yes, that’s right, just shutting down…”
Felix probably had never been hypnotized in his life, but he was quite an easy subject. It didn’t take a lot to break him, it seemed. He already seemed to be falling into a mindless trance, as if it were normal for him to be a brainless himbo. It sure seemed that way.
“Yes, that’s it, just fall deeper into the pocket watch. Deeper into my voice. Deeper into an empty bliss. Deeper, deeper, deeper.”
Felix was following the induction like it was clockwork. Carol hadn’t even told him to drop yet, but he was probably already deep in trance. He just needed that one final push. Carol put the pocket watch away — not that he noticed. She grabbed his shoulders, rocking him slowly back and forth and dropping him deeper. Carol grabbed a hold of his bushy, unkempt hair and dragged his head around by it.
“You can feel it,” she whispered. “You can feel yourself deeper… and deeper… and deeper… and drop.”
He dropped, flopping against Carol’s neck. Carol steadied him back on his feet, gazing into his empty eyes with a predatory grin.
“You wouldn’t understand if I told you,” she said. “So why don’t I show you why I’m happier this way?”
Felix didn’t wake up for a few hours, but when he did, he was shocked to find himself in a luxuriously plush bed surprisingly well rested. He’d never slept on a bed quite that soft before. Boy, did it feel nice… he was stunned out of his daze, though, when he sat up to find Carol at the table across from him, calmly sipping tea out of a fancy cup.
“Ah… huh?” Felix murmured as he woke up. “Where… am I? How’d I get — huh?” He stopped while thinking out loud, realizing something in his voice sounded… off. He always knew he had a Southern accent, and people always told him how lovely it was, but to him it felt… unrefined. Unsophisticated. Sheesh, he thought, had he always talked like that? It was a miracle anyone took him seriously.
“Wait… you’re—“ Felix continued waking up, sitting upwards as he saw Carol sitting there calmly. “Hey, what did you do to me, ma’am?!”
“Nothing,” Carol responded with a smile, and Felix knew she was lying. “You simply passed out in the cold. I brought you back here so the wolves wouldn’t eat you. How are you feeling?”
“I feel…” Felix furrowed his eyebrows. How did he feel? Thinking was even harder than it usually was, as his brain felt clouded by this thick mist. It seemed… green. The world seemed greener, more expensive somehow? “Uh… dizzy. I feel a little dizzy. Wait, why do I— you—!”
“Again,” Carol stood up, walking over to Felix. She was so… terrifying when she towered over him like that. Felix was easily the tallest man in the town, so seeing anyone taller than him was jarring. “I didn’t do anything. You just must have had something bad to drink.”
Felix growled. He stood up to face Carol. “I’ll have you know—“
Carol sighed. She clearly wasn’t in the mood to deal with any more conflict. She leaned into Felix, whispering into his ear— “Envy.”
With that one word, Felix crashed down onto the bed, the green mist becoming thicker and his head pounding that much more. His body felt driven, hot, like he needed something. In a strange way, he was turned on, but what was even weirder was how he needed… things. All of a sudden, his heart — reserved for love and family — felt overcome by this materialistic need to grow his wallet, start an actually profitable business, own more and more things… He had to slap his own face to come out of it and push some of the mist away. “N-now, what did you—“
“Don’t worry, dear,” Carol grinned, running her hands across Felix’s face and shoulders. “I know I’ve changed your brain a little. But you like it, don’t you?” He felt like prey in her hands, and he loved it. Somehow, her touch felt so cold and possessive, but he liked it. He liked the feeling of being owned by…
“N-no!” Felix pushed her off of him and began rushing out the door.
“Envy,” Carol repeated. Felix crumbled to the floor and she walked over to him, grabbing him possessively once again. “Envy, envy, envy.”
“Ungh…” Felix moaned out, trying his hardest not to reach down to the bulge in his pants. He was so horny, not just for Carol, but for the idea of being rich. Powerful. Wealthy. He wanted to be… like her… “W-what did you do to me?”
“Oh, dear,” Carol smiled at him warmly as he continued squirming and crumpling under her gaze. “I already explained to you. I just changed your mind a little. But you know, you were always like this. You never cared about any of that ‘holiday spirit’ crap. You were just jealous of me. You wanted to be exactly like me. I’m right, aren’t I?”
“H-hell no!” What he lacked in brains, he had in willpower. “Crap, I… I gotta go back to my store so I can clean up the mess you made…”
“Sure,” Carol chuckled evilly. “You have a business plan in mind for that? Not just for how you’re going to pay your bills — come on, you can dream larger. You could get a building that’s less seedy. A newer car than that pickup truck you have. You could even get an outfit more refined than… whatever you have on right now. Doesn’t that sound nice?”
“Y…yes, it does— no! That’s… not what matters to me,” Felix continued protesting. “It’s… not…”
“Really?” Carol was straight up laughing at him at that point. “Then fine, go home, back to your old life. I’m sure you’ll enjoy living in a box and dealing with debt for the rest of your life.”
Felix wanted to stand up, open the door, and rush out. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t lie to himself. He needed… more. More of Carol, more of this corruption, more things and money and wealth. He craved power. His family would be fine, right? He didn’t need… no…
His headache became splitting as he groaned in pain and pleasure. Felix was completely torn between the holiday spirit and this new corrupted desire of his. “I… want…”
“Money,” Carol completed. “You don’t need anything else. You just need money. And I can help you get it.”
Felix still had some thin strand of resistance and hesitation left in him. Carol could see it by the way his eyes quivered in horror at what he’d become in just a few hours. With one last frustrated sigh, Carol broke him completely with one last hypnotic phrase. “Money is Power, Power is Good.”
The previously dumb happy relaxed himbo broke into a corrupt businessman, exactly what Carol wanted him to become. Felix wasn’t sure if he orgasmed — it sure felt like it — but a feeling of bliss overcame him, knowing he was going to be rich, wealthy, and powerful. “Y-yes! I… need it! I need power!”
Carol smiled warmly, as if she actually cared about him in the slightest. “Yes, cutie. You do. And I can help you get it.”
“H-how?” Felix stammered, his eyes feral with greed.
“First,” Carol inhaled. “People who seek power don’t care about that ‘holiday spirit’ crap. Only if it serves them. Do you care about any of… that, anymore?”
Felix chuckled, his breath excited and weary. “N-no. I don’t.”
“Good!” Carol’s grin widened as she helped Felix up. “Now, I can help you become powerful — you’ll be my apprentice, in a way. We can catch the flight whenever we want, dear.” She leaned into Felix, who was shivering with excitement for his new future. “Let me teach you a few things about making it big and wiping out competition…”
It had been a few years since Carol had taken Felix as her student and her pet. Despite Felix’s homely upbringing, he proved to be quite the cruel and calculating businessperson. He loved his new life so damn much. Even just looking at him, people would feel scared and inferior. How had he never gone through with something like this before? He was grateful to Carol every day for showing him how great the world of business and finance could be.
Felix had completely changed — both in appearance and in personality. His beard was now cleanly shaven and he got $200 haircuts every week and he only wore the highest quality suits. Instead of being a dumb rural himbo, he only lived in big cities, was one of the smartest people he knew — in part thanks to Carol — and any trace of his old self was completely gone. His family wasn’t happy about it, but he sure was! And that’s what mattered in the end.
He had just gotten on a flight to another village in the middle of nowhere, with another damn company that was trying to steal his ideas. When he first started doing these trips, he felt a little bad at first — knowing he was making these poor people feel how he and his family felt all those years ago — but it stopped mattering to him, soon enough. He was a new man! People actually respected him now. And he was happily Carol’s beloved pet and plaything, so it was all worth it in the end.
Once again, it was Christmas time, the perfect time for sales. He knocked on the door to a run-down looking shop, and a tired-looking woman opened the door to greet him.
“It’s good to meet you as well,” he greeted with a cunning grin, handing her a cease and desist letter. “Now, uh, I have some documents I’d like you to look over…”