Chris was pushed into Dr Hypnotica’s lair by one of her minions. They had found the hidden knife in his boot and tied his hands behind his back. Now, he only had himself to rely on in their confrontation. Fortunately, so far that had been more than enough.
“Enter!” he heard the familiar voice of Dr Hypnotica say. He had heard that voice over and over again- on the airwaves, in his cell- even recently in his dreams. It was the voice that had taken over the world. The voice that had reduced everyone into mindless zombies.
Especially his wife Sarah, Chris thought sadly. She had been one of the first to give in to the doctor’s teachings. After the broadcasts had started, she all of a sudden became an entirely different person. She stopped drinking with him. She took up gardening. Her expression had cleared from one perpetually worried to one that was tranquil and…blank. It was creepy. After about a month of brainwashing, she had left Chris in the middle of the night. She left a note on the table apologizing, saying her leaving was the best for both of them, and telling him that she was going to go live at one of the farming communes that Dr Hypnotica had started.
That’s what pushed Chris into joining the resistance. As more and more people fell under Dr Hypnotica’s spell, he began connecting with others who were unaffected like him. He started a popular youtube channel where he gathered and broadcasted new information and rumors about Dr Hypnotica’s evil plans. After learning that she might be doing something to the food and water supply, he began acquiring his own safe supplies from underground sources. The police, now completely under her control, had finally shown up at his home about 6 months ago. He had been on the run ever since.
And now- he was captured.
He didn’t know quite what he had expected when entering Dr Hypnotica’s lair, to be honest. In the comic books, world conquering mind controllers had throne rooms and spirals and dark surroundings. Rumors amongst rebels were that her lair looked more like a sex dungeon. In contrast to all of these ideas, however, her actual lair looked like a boring therapy office. Chris guessed that made sense- he had heard the rumor that Dr Hypnotica worked as a therapist before professional world-conquering. There was soft lighting, potted plants, and a comfortable-looking couch. Dr Hypnotica sat in a swivel chair in front of the couch and beckoned him to come sit in front of her. She was dressed in a blue casual dress with a white cardigan.
Befuddled and pissed off, Chris sat down.
“Hello,” she said in a pleasant voice. “Chris is it? I’m Marilyn.” She smiled and offered her hand to shake it.
Chris felt a surge of anger. He didn’t know quite what “Marilyn” was playing at, but he wasn’t going to play along. He stood up. He may not be able to hurt her right now (he was very aware of the guards behind him) but that wouldn’t stop him from giving this bitch a piece of his mind.
“Don’t ‘I’m fucking Marilyn’ me, you bitch! How fucking dare you! You ruined my fucking life!” He proceeded to yell and scream and tell her every nasty/mean thing he could think of. He ridiculed her looks, her intelligence, and her general awfulness. He blamed her for everything that had happened to the world, to his wife, and to his life. He had had to listen to this cunt for a year- now HE was going to MAKE her listen to him.
And, strangely, she did seem to be listening to him. She was giving him sympathetic looks when he described the hardships he had been through. She nodded her head empathetically with parts of the story. She even occasionally wrote things down on a notepad in front of her.
When Chis finally stopped to breathe, she nodded her head mildly and said, “I can understand why you would be upset with me. That makes a lot of sense.”
“WHAT?!” Chris screamed.
He let loose on her for another few minutes.
Marilyn continued to give him concerned, empathetic looks and to occasionally nod.
Fuck this, Chris eventually thought. She wasn’t reacting in any of the ways he had planned. It was like talking to an overly concerned wall.
He was worn out.
He sat down.
Dr Hypnotica smiled at him approvingly. “Thank you for being so candid with me,” she started.
“Fuck you!” he replied, sullenly. He looked at the floor.
“No, I think it’s important to acknowledge this!” said Dr Hypnotica. “From your perspective, I ruined your life! You’ve been fighting this overwhelming-seeming force for months. Your primary relationship ended and you’ve been isolated and frightened ever since. You’ve been through so much! No wonder you’re scared and overwhelmed.”
“I’m not scared!” he shot back. He had to admit that he felt a little less in control of his emotions than usual- but, then again, he was in unusual circumstances.
“Exhausted, then,” she remarked, soothingly. “Tired”.
He felt a wave of tiredness go through his body.
“Wait- are you trying to HYPNOTIZE me right now?” he said, incredulously. He laughed at this bitch’s utter audacity.
She reacted as if mildly insulted. “I’m only trying to understand, Chris. I can only help you if I understand what you’re going through.”
“Who the hell asked for your help!?” he replied.
“Well,” she started. “Maybe not help you, then. Maybe more to...ask for you to help me. In a way that would help both of us.”
“I would never help you,” he scowled back.
She let it pass airily. “Let me ask you something, Chris. I know you said that you came here partially to get revenge for your wife. Sarah, it was? My assistants brought me some information on her before you came in. You’ll be happy to hear, I’m sure, that she’s thriving in her community! Hasn’t touched a drink in over a year! Helps with the local daycare. Tell me- what was she like before?”
For some reason, Chris felt compelled to speak. “She was beautiful, “ he said. “She was free. She….felt things strongly.”
“Mmm-“ said Marilyn, noncommittally. . “And what was it like living with her?”
Almost in spite of himself, Chris flashed back to scenes from their relationship. Love. Fights. Flowers. Screaming. Driving her to rehab. Punching walls. Listening to her cry and apologize over and over.
“It was fine,” he tried to say.
But- somehow- what came out of his mouth instead was much more honest.
He sighed. “It was hard. She needed so much- much more than I could give her. Sometimes I think we brought out the worst in each other. I almost left her a few times, but- she needed someone to take care of her. And when she was doing ok, I would get a glimpse of the Sarah that she was when we first met. And- it would make me think that I should stay, even if..“
“Even if?” she asked.
“Even if I didn’t want to,” he heard himself admit.
He didn’t mean to be saying all of this, of course. It was just spilling out. It wasn’t the happy story of him and Sarah that he told to other rebels. But- somehow it felt relieving to be honest for once.
Marilyn nodded sympathetically. “That must have been hard,” she said. “Living with someone so vulnerable. That’s so much responsibility. And it’s so difficult sometimes to decide whether to stay or go. But- you were also upset with me when I helped her make that decision for you, weren’t you?”
He felt himself nod. His voice seemed to come from a distance. “I felt embarrassed when she started doing better- as if it were so easy. Like she could have done it at any time. I would even nitpick and try to start a fight but- she wouldn’t take my bait. And then she became just- happy all of the time. Like a totally different person. And I didn’t have any control over that.”
“And I could give that to her,” Marilyn said, kindly, finishing his thought. “Where you couldn’t. No wonder you see me as some mind controlling monster. I stole your role in your relationship! And your wife! In some ways, that’s a lot easier than being angry with her for what happened with you guys, isn’t it? Or yourself?”
Chris didn’t quite know how to take that.
“I have your information here too, Chris,” Marilyn said gently, pulling out a folder. “You had to do a lot of work taking care of your mom when you were a kid, didn’t you? And your siblings? They were all so vulnerable. And you needed to be so strong for everyone else.”
This was none of her fucking business, Chris thought. He felt the rage build up inside him again. It grew and grew and finally got strong enough to break through the mental fog he had been in. He suddenly remembered that he didn’t have to answer any of her fucking questions. “Fuck you, “ he said, glaring at her. “I’m not here for you to psychoanalyze me with your bullshit. Let me go!”
“Oh, of course, Chris! My, you are strong willed, aren’t you!” She laughed, cheerfully. “I’m planning to let you go. But first- hear me out a moment longer. IN SILENCE.”
Chris could feel the intensity in her last words.
He felt his mouth close.
“You see,” she said. “I think you have the wrong idea about me. I developed my persuasive technology in part to help people like your wife. I would sit here in session week after week with people and hear so much pain. So much suffering. So many people who felt like they had no control over themselves or their problems. So many people walking around wounded!
“Of course, I wanted to develop something to ease their minds a bit. To make them happy and peaceful and accepting. To help them shut off all the noise in their thoughts and enable them to have a better life. And, of course, most people happily took me up on that! Life is so painful for so many of us! People were relieved to be saved from all that.
“But for you, Chris- you don’t want that at all! I think you want to be a helper. So- I’m going to give you a choice.”
She took a small vial of liquid out of her bag. She put it down in front of him.
“Option one is to drink this. It’s a powerful drug that creates a strong cognitive impairment. You’ll be happy but simpler. More open. More suggestible. Like a cheerful golden retriever.”
He still couldn’t speak, but he scoffed.
“Option two, which I HOPE you’ll choose, is to serve me instead. I have a great many things going on in my empire and I simply can’t take all of that responsibility on myself. I need an intelligent person to take some things on and make my projects work..”
Dr Hypnotica began to list different responsibilities she wanted Chris to have. Chris initially followed what she was saying but quickly found himself getting lost in the details. She was speaking fast- more quickly than he could fully comprehend. There were so many facts and numbers and jargon terms that he couldn’t keep up. But as she talked and he got more and more lost- he found himself feeling a familiar emotion.
How dare she? How DARE she? He came to destroy her and she was trying to give him all these things to do. And these things to think about.
It was overwhelming. He got madder and sadder as he thought about it, even as the doctor went about her monologue in the background.
Fuck her wanting him to take over her factories.
Fuck her for giving him so much to do.
Why couldn’t she take care of herself?
Why did he need to be the one responsible for her messes?
“Unless,” he heard Dr Hypnotica say, “You’re still focused on revenge.”
The thought pierced through Chris’s angry mind like it was in bright red letters. REVENGE.
“I mean,” she continued, “I need your smart mind. I need your ability to make rational decisions for me. So- it would be a shame if you took revenge and took all of those away.”
Fuck her, he thought. Where did she get off guilting him into doing anything?
“I have so many mindless sheep in my flock, so I really really need you to stay aware. There’s so many people and things we need to take care of. I know there’s an angry part of you that may want to turn that brain off but- that would be silly. That would be childish. That would be selfish. “
FUCK YOU, he thought.
“Especially when everyone needs your help. When I need your help, “ she continued. “Because- I know that being mindless would feel good. It would feel so good to get the best of me like that. But that would be so petty….”
“And you want to be a good responsible man for me, don’t you?”
“You don’t want to be cared for and safe and happy and blank. That’s for other people. They get it easy. You want to make sure you take care of me instead, isn’t that right? I need so much help, Chris.”
In a peak of rage, Chris grabbed the vial before him. He angrily chugged it down right in front of the doctor’s stupid fucking face. She wasn’t going to get her way. Not this time.
He felt it take effect almost at once. His thoughts, which felt like they were boiling, seemed like they instead started to fizzle. Then dissolve. Into a happy, blank, nothing…
revenge…he thought weakly, self satisfied as he blinked….out.
Marilyn sighed, looking over at the now dopily-smiling man. She hated to have to push so hard. Most of the people under her control were allowed to keep at least some, if not all, of their intelligence. She didn’t like to go to such extreme measures to help people resolve their issues.
Oh well, she thought. At least he wouldn’t be in pain anymore. And, he would have never been happy serving her anyway. He was too psychologically damaged from his past.
She had her guardsman escort Chris out. He followed docily, like a cow. She took a moment to breathe and recenter before inviting the next rebel in for his session.