Cassidy walked quickly through the city streets, trying her best not to attract any attention. She slunk around corners and ducked in and out of crowds.
It was no use. She could sense her tail was still behind her. She couldn’t shake him. She should have known he’d come for her.
Cassidy tried to fight back her panic, but she could feel herself becoming more and more paranoid by the moment. Had he planned this? Was it another experiment? Had he let her go just to test the many ways he could bring her back under his power?
She could hear the people walking around her. She started to pick up a particular rhythm to the footsteps. Were people walking in time? Were they gesturing in some way that already made sense to her traitorous subconscious mind? Were they in on it, being used to hypnotize her too?
She walked deeper and deeper into the city, determined to not let herself be trapped into any particular rhythm. She started to notice odd light flashes around her. The flash of sun off of someone’s glasses. The flash of a sequin in someone’s dress. The spiral of a barber pole that she had to pull her gaze away from. There were so many sights here designed to catch her attention, to leave her drooling and helpless here in the middle of town. She knew if she lost focus for a moment she’d be back in a trance before she could even fight. She began to feel overwhelmed as she tried in vain to ignore everything around her and fixate on the ground.
If she could focus straight ahead and stay out of a rhythm, maybe she could still escape.
That was when the voices began.
She hadn’t paid attention to them before- the people in the crowd. Their conversations had been just a background murmur that she could easily block out. But now that she became aware of them, she was horrified what she had been hearing.
“I can’t wait until the weekend so I can just relax...”
“I’m tired, I need to sleep earlier tomorrow night...”
“so yesterday, at obedience school, he...”
Cassidy spun around and around, shocked. They were. They were all in on it.
“..you can submit it until 4..”
“...she made her peace with it”
Everyone here was trying to hypnotize her. She couldn’t possibly resist all of them. What could she do?
“I’m just not very comfortable with that..”
“..I’m thinking I may need to give it up”
She didn’t know what to do. She sat on the ground, puzzled. She felt a familiar sense of dissociation creep up on her.
“He just needs to let go occasionally”
“But I’m so helpless with cooking..”
“Sometimes you just need to lose yourself in your work for a bit...”
She wasn’t sure how long she sat there. She was vaguely aware of people scoffing and walking around her but time was meaningless. Eventually, Cassidy felt someone gently take her arm and help her stand. She looked up and saw that he had finally found her.
She was glad. She tired of fighting.
“Do you feel lightheaded, Cassidy?,” he said. “Confused?”
Cassidy couldn’t speak. She was out of words. He smiled at her paternally.
“That’s OK- let’s go home and talk. You’ll feel much better.”
The man tugged her hand and she meekly followed along.