Marisa Ivan looked at her computer clock and sighed. Music school doesn’t prepare you for days like this, she thought.
When Audiovoid had announced its plan to sign its own musicians and create its own content — essentially, the first music-streaming app to become a record label in its own right — she’d jumped at the chance to switch positions within the company. She’d pitched Brad, the Director of Content, on the idea that her classical musical training would allow her to spot talent who were equally well-trained, and he had agreed. What no one had bothered to tell her was, how much work the Assistant Director of Content job would entail.
First, the meetings: meetings with the Engineering team, meetings with the Brand team, meetings with the Accounting team, meetings with Legal team, meetings with the Data Science team, meetings with the Social team. Because Audiovoid had offices both in L.A. and in Manhattan, she was getting meetings scheduled three hours after most New Yorkers prepared to head home for the day.
Then, there was The Promise. Every song on every demo gets heard, the ads said, a pledge that could only be written by someone who was not within ten miles of having a demo submitted to them. In practice, it meant that Marisa and Amberlyn, the Content Associate, were constantly drowning in music. Links to Soundcloud pages filled their inboxes. The vast majority of them were mediocre, but some were so aggressively terrible that listening to a single song at nine AM could put her in a bad mood for the whole day. Marisa was constantly pressing to hire more associates to share the load, but so far she’d had no success.
And on top of all of that, was the reason why she’d had no success: ever since she’d been hired, the Director of Content seemed to have more interest in staring at her chest than listening to her.
The clock on her phone said 3:47 PM, and she didn’t have any meetings left for the day. In theory it seemed like plenty of time to clear a few demos off her plate, then go home to her girlfriend. But, many of the most mediocre demos were also the longest: interminable rock epics from dudes too egotistical to know that they could get signed just as easily with brevity, and too young to know that Billy Corgan had already done everything they were trying to do. She could be here until midnight if she wasn’t careful.
As she was thinking this, her phone vibrated in her hand. A text message notification appeared:
Surprise! LUV U
“Hey, Marisa?” The girly voice from behind her could only be Deborah, the bookish Reception intern who firmly insisted against being called Debbie. “Package for you?”
Marisa smiled. Kat must have sent the text as soon as she received the notification of package delivery. Or perhaps Kat had given her a suggestion last night, to forget about the text until right now. That was the thing about being in love with a hypnotist: every day had the potential for surprise.
“Thanks, Deborah,” Marisa said, turning her chair around. Deborah handed over a padded manila envelope, smaller than a legal-sized sheet of paper. Marisa frowned at the envelope’s size. Kat was more of the grand-gesture type, her imagination limited only by her budget.
“Is it your birthday or something?” Deborah said, in that vaguely rude way interns had when they didn’t realize they were being rude.
“No,” Marisa said. “I’m not sure what it is.”
“Happy birthday,” Deborah said, already walking away.
Marisa forced herself to remember that she’d been an intern once, and tore open the envelope. A small black plastic square fell out into her hand. It took her a moment to realize that it was USB storage, the sort of device she still thought of as a “thumb drive,” even though many of the newest ones, like this one, were far smaller than her thumb.
She heard a piece of paper sliding around inside of the envelope as well, and pulled it out. It was a letter, typed on a piece of plain white paper, folded three times. No, not typed, typewritten, like on an actual typewriter instead of Google Docs. There was no name, just the text:
I represent a consortium of musicians who wish to submit the enclosed for your approval.
“Wait, what?” Marisa muttered to herself. Kat’s text had thrown her off. How was this possibly a demo? There wasn’t even contact information listed. If it was good enough for her to start discussions, what was she supposed to do?
Marisa turned the device over in her hand and saw a small sticker affixed to its backside. The sticker showed a spiral, black and white lines curving along each other, reaching toward the center so as to appear like they were curving into infinity.
Come on, this has to be Kat.
But the letter wasn’t their style. All of this misdirection would only happen if Marisa was in a trance first, and Marisa had set a rule: work and play never mix.
Maybe, but who else would send me this?
Marisa plugged the drive into one of her USB ports on her MacBook, and opened the resulting folder. There was just one file, labeled “demo.mp4.” The file size suggested that it was three or more songs strung together in one file, probably the result of a marathon recording session. As with the lack of name or contact info on the letter, the file name was shitty trade craft: it was very easy to lose track of a file with such a generic name.
I should just throw this in the garbage, Marisa thought. No one who makes so many buffoonish moves can cut a good record.
But she knew that she would not throw the drive out. For one thing, this could be an elaborate gift from Kat. And if it wasn’t Kat, there was also the fact that plenty of musical geniuses were stone-cold weirdoes. There was a chance, however tiny, that she was creating a legend about some such weirdo right now, the sort of thing that blew dudes’ minds in bars. I hear that guy sent in his demo with a TYPE-WRITTEN LETTER, bro!
She slipped on the bulky over-ear headphones that were expected for a person in a job like hers, and double clicked the file.
After a few seconds of silence, she heard a bass guitar, playing a D chord. Really strumming the hell out of it, holding the chord for a long time, longer than almost any band asked of its bassist. Huh, that’s interesting, Marisa thought.
Then the chord wavered, sliding up and down the scale in a way that no bass guitar could ever do. Listening close, Marisa realized that the bass was still playing in the background, but a theremin had been added. Had the theremin always been there, mixed to sound the same as the bass? Now that’s really interesting, Marisa thought.
Then the melody began. Gentle, rapid tones, either a Hammond organ or a superior electronic facsimile of one. A second Hammond was added in, then another. The song was a fugue, all three organs occasionally combining to play the main theme, but each one trailing off on its own variations here and there.
Between Soundcloud rappers and indie rockers, Marisa heard a lot of aggro music in her job. Something about the interweaving organs, and the theremin being used basically as a backup bass guitar, was deeply soothing. Maybe that was the new thing? Maybe the sensation she was feeling right now was what everyone was looking for, without yet knowing it?
Put some drums and vocals on this, and you’d really have something, Marisa thought. She felt her eyes closing, and forced them open. She should be taking down her thoughts on this demo, making notes that she could present to Brad. But right now that seemed like too much work. Her arms were too heavy to even put her fingers on the keyboard. She would take notes after.
Female vocals, she thought. Her eyes closed and this time she did not try to force them open. Some drums and … female vocals …
Marisa let the music take her away.
Marisa was sitting in a lounge chair, its leather soft and supple under her body.
The room was dark, but somehow she knew it was the Office. During their very first hypnoplay scene, Kat had asked her to imagine that their hotel room was a hypnotherapist’s office, and that Marisa was there for a session. She’d imagined it so well that Kat had returned there time and again in later play.
The Office was different this time. The lights were out, and it seemed to be getting dark outside, as thought it was either just before our just after sunset. The person sitting in the therapist’s chair was taller and physically larger than Kat, but hidden in shadow such that Marisa could make out none of their features.
The music played in the background, organs and theremin and bass. It was so deeply soothing.
“Listen to my voice,” the man’s voice said. Marisa could not see the shadow figure’s mouth move, but she assumed he was speaking. “Listen and relax.”
Marisa said nothing. There was no reason to say anything. All she needed to do was listen, and relax.
“Relax and obey,” the voice said. Marisa shifted slightly in her seat at the word obey. If she had been able to explain herself in that moment, she would have said that it was not a word that she typically heard in this place. Kat never had to order her to obey; following her suggestions came as naturally as the rhythm of their breathing synchronized while they spooned together in bed.
But then the three organs joined together, returning to the fugue’s main theme again, and Marisa relaxed too deeply to have these thoughts in any coherent fashion. The voice said, “Obey and listen,” and that was exactly what she did.
“Listen and relax. Relax and obey. Obey and listen.”
The phrases formed a circle, an inner tube floating on a river of gently flowing music, and she let herself float with it wherever it led. The voice guided her mind back on itself, around and around, until listening and relaxing and obeying all became one, and she was no longer able to distinguish between them even after the voice began to say different words.
There was no more music.
Marisa struggled to open her eyes. It was as if they had been gummed shut. She knew this sensation well. She didn’t remember the induction, but there was only one person who could make her feel like this, and only one way to do it.
Damn it, Kat, never at work! We talked about this!
She picked up her phone. The time readout said 6:19 p.m. Marisa nearly dropped the phone when she saw it.
Jesus fucking Christ, Kat, you put me down for two and a half hours!
As if on cue, she heard Brad’s voice, from within his office, across the hallway and directly behind her: “Marisa, can you come in here a minute?”
“Sure,” Marisa said aloud, while thinking, Shit, he saw me sleeping. Maybe he thinks it was just a cat nap or something.
After she entered the office, he said, “Close the door,” in a tone that left no doubt.
Katherine Alexander sat in the windowsill, half of her body in the apartment and half on the fire escape. The sun was down, and it would soon be too cold to do this — New York nights could be punishing, even in April — but she needed the fresh air to help her deal with the stress.
Kat checked her phone: 7:51 p.m., same as the last time she had checked. She hated the long hours that came with Marisa’s new position. But the money was incredible, and she knew that Marisa was excited about doing something that no other company in the industry was doing, so she bore the long nights as best she could.
Marisa hadn’t responded to her text, not even with a “LUV U 2,” and that had Kat worried.
At last she heard the key slip into the lock. Kat pulled herself into the apartment and closed the window just in time to turn back around as Marisa entered.
She opened her mouth to say, Hey babe. Did you get my email, but before even one word came out, Marisa cut her off. “What the fuck were you thinking?”
Something about the way Marisa had barked the curse felt like a punch in the face. Too late, Kat saw the thunderclouds on her lover’s face, understanding that Marisa was ready for a fight. Kat was unable to react, a deer frozen by oncoming headlights.
Marisa dropped her purse and laptop bag onto the kitchen island and turned on Kat, hands fisted on her hips. “I almost got fucking fired today!”
“Oh my God, baby, I’m so sorry,” Kat said. The words tumbled out of her before she could ask herself why Marisa was so angry. She thought of the natural follow-up question, What happened?, but Marisa cut her off again.
“You should be sorry! Even if my boss hadn’t found out, that was the most inappropriate thing you could have possibly done! So I’ll ask again: What. The fuck. Were you thinking?”
Marisa paused, finally seeming to be looking for a response. Kat felt like she had been hit upside the head with a sock filled with sand. She could only sound completely foolish to her own ears as she said, “Ris, I don’t … know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, you don’t, huh?” Marisa turned to her purse, rummaging inside with short, furious motions. She turned away from the purse and hurled a small object at Kat. Kat had the reflexes to catch it — she’d played on a Division III champion softball team in college — but she could only stare at the small black plastic square as Marisa yelled, “I’m talking about that!”
“What is this?”
Marisa stomped into the living room. Though her fury had not abated, she lowered her voice, perhaps out of concern for the neighbors. “You hypnotized me at work,” she hissed. “I was under for two and a half hours! Did you think Brad wouldn’t notice?”
Kat turned the black plastic square over in her hand, to see the spiral sticker on the other side. Her mind tried to grasp what she had just heard. Hypnotized at work?
“Well, he noticed, Kat,” Marisa said, her voice still low and furious. “He asked me why I was sleeping on the job. I couldn’t say anything, because unlike you, I’m trying to keep this hypnosis thing private. So I guess he thinks I’m an alcoholic or a drug addict or something, because he said that if my social life affected me at work again, he’d have to let me go. And believe me, if you’ve never had a guy stare at your tits for fifteen minutes straight while he threatened to fire you, it’s even worse than you imagine.”
During this monologue, Kat managed to get her thoughts straight. She showed her palms to Marisa, a calming motion to accompany her words. “Babe, I swear to you, I did not put you into a trance at work today. I didn’t send you this thing, whatever it is. I am so, so sorry that Brad is an asshole and that you got into trouble with him, but I didn’t do anything.”
“Okay, you didn’t do anything,” Marisa said, in a tone of voice that announced, I guess we’re just getting started here. She pulled out her phone and activated it, showing the text message. “You didn’t send me that?”
Kat felt her face growing hot. “Well, yeah, I did send that—”
“Like literally seconds after I got that text, I got that thumb drive delivered to me,” Marisa said. “And then I woke up two and a half hours later, feeling just like I feel when you bring me out of trance. What did you do? Give me a suggestion last night and make me forget it? The drive has a trigger on it or something?”
“Babe, slow down,” Kat said. “I didn’t hypnotize you last night, I didn’t hypnotize you today, and I didn’t send that drive to you. What’s even on that drive?”
“I don’t remember,” Marisa hissed. “Probably an audio induction, because I had headphones on when I woke up. But I don’t remember, and I don’t want to re-open it, because whatever you put on there, it really works.”
“Baby, I didn’t, I swear to you,” Kat said. “I know you don’t want to trance at work, and you know I would never give you a trigger without talking about it first.”
“I thought I knew those things,” Marisa said. “But the way I felt when I woke up, only you can make me feel that. The way I forgot what is on that drive, only you can make me forget like that. And you told me it was coming with that text—”
“We’re going to San Francisco!” Kat yelled.
Marisa blinked. The rage seemed to dissipate somewhat, replaced by confusion. “What?”
“We’re going to San Francisco,” Kat said, more patiently. “There’s another hypno-con, like the one in Baltimore. I got us plane tickets and hotel reservations. I sent the confirmations to you today. That was the surprise I texted about. Didn’t you check your email?”
“No,” Marisa said. “I was too busy being in trance and then trying not to get fired.”
“Well, that was the surprise. A vacation for your birthday. I saved money for months on it, so you wouldn’t notice. And yeah, I was hoping to trance you tonight, to celebrate, but I would never do anything while you were at work. I would never.”
“Baby? I was definitely, absolutely, one thousand percent, in. A. Trance. At. Work. You’re the only one who has ever tranced me that deep. What else am I supposed to think? This is so red.” Their safeword system was green/yellow/red, with red meaning Stop the trance right now.
“Ris, I swear this is not a trance. But…”
“Maybe you just encountered something that put you under. Maybe I’ve been putting you under so deep, and so often, that random everyday shit can trigger you. And that’s scary to me, because I’ve tried so hard to be careful.”
Marisa spread her hands, looking and feeling helpless. ”So what do we do?”
“I think I need to see what is on this storage drive,” Kat said.
They set up Marisa’s work laptop on the kitchen island, and stood in front of it, staring at the open folder and the single file inside.
“This is how it works?” Kat said, skeptically. “They just mail you thumb drives with their demo files?”
“No,” Marisa said. “We’re trying to set up a web-based submission system, but it’s not ready yet, so they send links to Soundcloud or Spotify or their band’s MySpace page. Most artists already have their music in a cloud somewhere.”
“You listened to this and went into a trance.”
“I guess,” Marisa said. “I told you, I don’t really remember. I woke up with my headphones on, so I think I listened to it, but…” She shrugged.
“Where’s the contact information?”
“I don’t know,” Marisa said.
“You forgot the envelope it came in, too?”
“Babe, I told you, I was more worried about not getting fired. I probably threw the envelope in the trash.” Marisa shrugged again. “Maybe they say it as part of the demo.”
“Then make you forget it later?” Kat shook her head. “How the hell would you sign them if you like the demo? This doesn’t make any sense.”
“Do you see now, why I was so sure it was you?” Marisa said. “That’s the only explanation which does make sense.”
“Yeah, I kind of do,” Kat said. She reached for the trackpad.
Marisa grabbed her wrist. “Wait, you’re not going to play it, right?”
“I gotta play it, Ris. We’re not going to learn anything just looking at it.”
“But what if it puts me under?”
“Babe, I’m here, I’m a trained hypnotist, I’ve got you.” Kat tried a weak grin. “Don’t worry, you won’t be fired from the relationship.”
Marisa let go of her wrist. “I just…”
“Kat, you’re not messing with me here, right? Making me jump through all these hoops, just to play the file in the quiet of our place … it feels like a scene. And if it is, it needs to stop. Talking with Brad this afternoon, I felt awful. This is the reddest scene in the history of red.”
Kat put her hands on her lover’s shoulders, and looked her square in the eye. “Marisa. I know I play the evil hypnotist a lot. But that’s all it ever is: play. In the real world, I want to take care of you. In the real world, I will never trance you in public and I will never ignore the word red. Because the real world is the only place where your love matters, and it’s the only place where I could lose it.”
She kissed Marisa lightly on the forehead, and said, “This is not a scene. You’re not in a trance right now. I did not try to manipulate your mind today. And if I find out that someone caused you to think otherwise, we are going to make them pay. Together.”
Marisa gave a small smile, the first time she had expressed positive emotion since she got home. “Okay,” she said. “Together. Play the file.”
Unlike Marisa, Kat had no musical training, so the beginning of the song just sounded like low, droning tones to her. At one point Marisa said, “That’s a really interesting use of the theremin.” Kat nodded, as though she knew what a theremin was.
Kat kept her eyes on Marisa as the music continued. When the melody began, multiple tones weaving around each other, Marisa’s eyes lowered noticeably. “That’s … nice,” she said in a dreamy voice.
“Ris? You still with me?”
“Yeah,” Marisa murmured, closing her eyes.
“Marisa? Can you hear me?” Kat reached out to give her lover’s shoulder a slight shake. Marisa’s head lolled atop her shoulders, before the chin dropped to rest just above her breastbone.
The three melodies in the song combined into one. Kat’s vision blurred. She became aware of the heaviness in her eyes for the first time.
“Shit,” Kat muttered. She turned toward the computer, suddenly feeling unsteady on her feet. Her legs were heavy, and there was no question as to why; it was like trying to stand and walk after a long self-hypnosis session. She heard a thump next to her as Marisa went to the floor.
Through the haze that her vision had become, she could see the computer just a couple feet away. Kat needed all of her strength to lift her hand to waist height. Her eyes closed, and when she tried to reopen them, the eyebrows only gave a weak twitch. The music was a gentle massage on her mind, and her body would soon follow.
She couldn’t see the keyboard. She would have to guess. “Ris,” Kat murmured, and let her hand fall towards the computer.
The sensation was exactly like an arm-drop during an Elman induction. Kat’s mind, like her hand, went into free fall. Her legs turned to rubber and she went to her knees in front of the kitchen island. Her hand slapped against something, but she was no longer in any frame of mind to figure out what it was. She sagged against the kitchen island, her head nodding.
A moment of nothing but quiet, peaceful warmth. A nap during the height of spring. Then Kat realized that the moment was so quiet because the music had stopped.
She told herself, One, two, three, awake, the same phrase that she used to rouse herself from self-hypnosis. It worked: she was able to open her eyes and lift her head.
She looked at the computer, simply because it was the first thing in her line of sight. The video was paused, as her desperate arm drop had managed to connect with the space bar. She checked the time: only a few minutes had passed since they had started the file. She hadn’t lost any time since she’d convinced Marisa to—
“Oh my God,” she said. Her voice was guttural, as though her tongue was still waking up. “Marisa!”
She turned to see Marisa sprawled on the floor, her brown hair covering her face. Kat, not quite trusting her legs yet, crawled on her hands and knees to where her lover lay. “Marisa, baby…” she caught herself, hearing too much panic in her voice.
Marisa’s green eyes fluttered open. “Kat?”
“How are you feeling?” Kat took her lover’s hand in both of hers.
“Good,” Marisa said vaguely. She stretched her entire body, catlike. “What happened?”
“What do you remember?” Kat pulled Marisa up into a sitting position and looked at her eyes. They seemed to be tracking her well enough.
“We decided to play the demo,” Kat said, her voice still sounding rather vague. “Then I got really sleepy … when did I lie down?”
“Not exactly sure on that one, Ris,” Kat said. “I almost took a little nap myself. You were right, that demo is really strong.”
Marisa squeezed her eyes shut, tightly, then reopened them. When she spoke, her voice was more lively. “You got hypnotized too?”
“Sort of,” Kat said. “I had to pause the file fast, or I would be laid out right here next to you.”
Marisa flung her arms around Kat. “Oh my God, baby! I’m so sorry I blamed you!”
“No, it’s okay,” Kat said. “I was blaming myself there for a minute.”
“I just thought that you had to be the only one who—” Marisa broke off, a look of horror dawning on her face. “Wait, if it’s not you, then someone made that thing! And they nearly got both of us!”
“No,” Kat said. “They nearly got me. They already had you for two and half hours this afternoon, and I want to know what that means.”
“We need to destroy that thumb drive,” Marisa said. “Who knows what it’s supposed to do!”
“Then how do we prove your trance ever happened?” Kat countered. “How do we find out what that file did to you?”
“But we can’t find that out anyway, babe,” Marisa said. “Anybody who listens to it goes under.”
“Maybe we can’t listen to it,” Kat said, “but your company is starting a record label. You’ve got to have some mixers and audio producers who can help us, right?”
“Actually, we haven’t hired anyone for those positions yet,” Marisa said, grinning with the realization of what Kat wanted to do. “But you know who has two thumbs and the power to interview some candidates?”
“That’s my girl,” Kat said, stroking Marisa’s cheek with one of her own thumbs.
They sat there, holding each other on the kitchen floor, for several long minutes. Kat spent that entire time steeling herself against what she would have to do next. “There’s one more thing I have to do tonight, Ris.”
“Whoever made that file is in your head. I have no earthly idea what suggestions they gave you, and it could take weeks to remove them. I need to put some protections in place.”
“But you don’t know what they did, babe,” Marisa said. “How can you protect me from them?”
Her casually innocent tone was like a lance in Kat’s heart. “Not protections for you, Ris. Protections for me.”
“Oh,” Marisa said, her voice strange. “I could be a threat to you now.”
“I mean … maybe,” Kat said. “If I were the person who made that demo, the first suggestion I would give you is to play it for everyone you lived with.”
Marisa had been hypnotized enough times to get a good idea where this conversation was going. “And you’re going to have to make me forget all of the protections,” she said. “Otherwise I could give them away.”
Kat said quickly, “I would never make you forget the things that happened today. I can’t make you forget the demo, because then you couldn’t help me bring down whoever made it.”
“Then you should hide the storage drive from me while I’m under,” Marisa said. “Better if I don’t know where. When I need to give it to the producer, I can just bring you in as a consultant or something.”
This had in fact already occurred to Kat, but she said, “That’s a great idea, Ris. Are you ready, then?”
Marisa looked at her. “This is so crazy, babe. Like a TV show or something. Tell me one more time.”
“I know it’s crazy. But it is really happening. You’re awake right now. This is not a scene. Honestly, after hearing that demo, I never want to do a scene where I’m the evil hypnotist ever again.”
Marisa said, “Then get on with it, will ya? I could use some extra sleep tonight anyway.”
Kat smiled. “Okay, scooch over,” she said. They shifted around on the kitchen floor, until Kat was sitting cross-legged behind Marisa. She reached forward and put her thumb-tips on Marisa’s temples from behind.
“Close your eyes, Marisa,” she said, slipping into the Hypnotist Voice like a warm glove. “Focus on your own breathing, and the sound of my voice.”
She did not need to check if Marisa’s eyes had actually closed. Such was the trust between them. Kat began tracing small circles on Marisa’s temples with her thumb-tips. “Take a deep breath in, and let it out.”
She watched Marisa’s shoulders rise and fall. Kat’s forearms, lightly balanced on Marisa’s shoulders, felt all of the tension go out of the muscles there. “Take another deep breath in, and let it out.”
As Marisa exhaled, Kat begin to apply enough pressure with her thumbs to rock her head back and forth, in a slow oval shape. There was no resistance from the neck muscles. As Kat had expected, going under twice today with the demo file had primed Marisa’s mind for another induction to work even faster than normal.
“Take a deep breath in,” Kat said. As Marisa’s shoulders rose a third time, Kat took her thumbs away from her lover’s temples. Kat placed her palms on Marisa’s shoulders and yanked backward sharply, saying, “and sleep!”
Marisa collapsed, the breath going out of her in a sigh as she slumped backwards. Her head landed in Kat’s lap, the crossed legs forming a sort of pillow. Kat made sure to catch her head in her hands, the thumbs returning to Marisa’s temples as they resumed tracing their small circles.
“Deeper and deeper sleep, Marisa,” she said. “Deeper and deeper sleep. Calm and peaceful and focused on the sound of my voice. Picture yourself at the top of a flight of stairs. At the bottom of the stairs there is a door. This door leads into the basement of your mind: a place so deep down that you forget everything in it while you are awake. I’m going to count down from twenty to one, and its each number you will take a step down, relaxing more and more until you are ready to enter your basement. Twenty…”
* * *
After the suggestions were given, they went to bed early. No Netflix, no fooling around. Not even dinner: the events of the day had killed Kat’s appetite, and Marisa was too deep in trance to protest.
Kat sat halfway up in bed, pillows supporting her back and shoulder blades. Marisa curled up against her, head pillowed on Kat’s breasts, breathing slow and even as her trance proceeded into normal sleep. There was not a single light in the room. Only the distant sound of an occasional police siren reminded Kat of the outside world, which was good, because right now the outside world had Kat scared out of her mind.
Marisa was worried about the demo, but on a local level: what it had done to her, what it could have done to Kat. Kat was thinking bigger.
This is the most dangerous weapon that any human has ever invented.
Just putting someone into trance as quickly as the demo could do was a game-changer. It could be a weapon, to use against people who drive or ride in cars. It would be ideal crowd control for repressive governments. Any propaganda broadcast using the demo as theme music would be believed more deeply than the most sober newscaster.
That thing could change the course of human history.
As part of her fetish, she had read and studied a fair amount about attempts with mind control during the Cold War. Conspiracy theorists all over the internet loved to rave about MK Ultra, overlooking one simple issue: it had never worked all that well. Same with the KGB’s interest in hypnosis as interrogation: a ton of money and effort, no real results. For fifty years, the entire world had turned around a conflict that could have been ended by that demo file.
Whoever created it … they’re a better hypnotist than me.
She assumed that subliminal messages were somehow involved in the demo … but it couldn’t be only that. If it was that easy to use subliminals to put someone under that fast, it would be happening every day. Someone out there had invented the atomic bomb of psychology. For her to test her hypnosis skills against such a person was like a junior-varsity basketball player trying to guard LeBron James.
I’m going to get us both killed. No, “killed” is if we’re lucky.
It was enough to keep a girl awake at night.