The week of.
In the days leading up to the wedding, Bella was starting to doubt herself on a much deeper level. What Maddy said had seemed totally ludicrous to start with – she was really sure she’d never been hypnotized – but now, the theory was starting to make some kind of sense.
She’d started biting her nails again, noticeably, and in public. This was a habit she’d trained herself out of more than a decade ago. Mark insisted that it was just nerves. Just the stress of this whole business. And Aiden was, thankfully, always there to help her out when she needed it. This was becoming more frequent as the big day drew ever closer.
On Thursday, there was an incident.
They were watching a film together on the couch. It was her pick, and she was feeling like something nice and light. She found a romcom she didn’t recognize and got some microwave popcorn ready.
“This is…” said Mark, moments after he’d nearly died cringing at the fallout from a simple misunderstanding the protagonist could have sorted out with a phone call. “This certainly is a movie.”
“Yeah,” she replied. “This is a movie”. She was smiling almost as much as he was frowning.
In the closing act, there was a wedding. It was big, bombastic, the leading lady had a beautiful wedding dress, both sides of the family were huge. The core drama was about whether one of the groomsmen was going to hook up with one of the bridesmaids, but the two of them were enjoying comparing the event to their own upcoming wedding. When the Bridal Chorus started playing, however, she… barked.
Mark looked over at her, but didn’t say anything. The camera cut away to some other scene where the guy was running late to his own wedding. The camera cut back, and the music started again.
She barked again. Even louder.
“Are you ok?”
She suddenly realized what she’d just done.
“Oh yeah,” she said, nervously giggling, “just being silly. Woof.” She played off like that had also been part of her explanation, but it was not voluntary.
She managed to suppress several more barks, and eventually the music stopped.
She bit her nails, confused as to what it all meant.
On Friday, things had blown up in her face.
Immediately prior to said explosion, she was engaged in more strange behavior.
She found herself looking up something she had generally avoided before – pornography. The first time she’d ever looked it up was in her teens. She recalled how her search terms were far too academic and she wound up with dry articles on sexual reproduction and organs. She wasn’t having that trouble anymore. Only a few days prior was the first time she had ever seriously looked up porn for a purpose other than getting Mark in the mood. Now, she felt like a black belt.
“Oh! Fuck me, yes, I’m your obedient fuck slave master!” screamed probably the tenth woman she’d seen getting fucked that day. She was initially shocked and overwhelmed by the variety of porn out there in the world. She’d heard of more than a few fetishes, but it was a new one she found herself gravitating towards. Mind control. Hypnosis. Brainwashing. She was finding the idea strangely erotic. To be changed, warped, controlled, fully at someone’s mercy. And as she watched the videos, she was thinking more and more about the idea that somebody had already hypnotized her. She probably hadn’t been, but… what if she was just hypnotized to not remember being hypnotized?
She tried to observe what the women were doing, and she slowly, unconsciously mimed some of the kinds of motions they made. As she envisioned the scenarios, she was getting so hot and bothered. She imagined herself in them. With a strong, dominant man taking her mind and body in equal measure. She tweaked and played with her nipples as she did.
Her other new favorite topic to search for was pet play. It was nothing to worry about, but the memory of the collar she’d found herself accidentally wearing led her down another rabbit hole. Bella wasn’t submissive. At least, she thought she wasn’t prior to the last few days. But when she happened across mind control videos that incorporated pet play, she knew something had been truly awakened inside her.
“Your eyes are getting heavier,” said the man in the video.
“Heavier…” the woman replied.
“Please… I don’t wanna be hypnotized...”
He snapped his fingers.
The woman’s eyes slammed shut.
The woman was hot. She had long brown hair, lovely blue eyes and was wearing tasteful business wear. She was reasonably tall, with long legs and a generous bust. But it was the way she was selling the dazed, hypnotized look that made her want to… something. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to reach through the screen and take advantage of her, or if she wanted to be her. The story, such as it could be called that, is that she was a naive, inexperienced door-to-door saleswoman. A man invited her inside and offered to help her relax. It seemed like such a nice offer, he was going to help her the same way Aiden was helping Bella. Except… not the same way. Because while Aiden was just helping her relax, the man in the video was hypnotizing her, and then he planned to take advantage.
He immediately went to work planting suggestions in her mind. They were silly, but at the same time, it was still extremely hot to Isobel. The man was testing her trance by having act like a chicken. Then, he had her awaken and act like a dog. She dropped down on all fours and started walking around, still fully clothed, still wearing heels and stockings. She marked the man’s leg, and panted, and barked.
Isobel couldn’t help herself. She put a second finger inside herself and started moaning softly as she watched it. She imagined being on all fours herself, but with a collar and a leash, being led around by a master.
Her phone rang. She came back to her senses slightly, pulled her hand out and grabbed a tissue. She scrambled to close the videos, as if somehow somebody on the other end of a telephone would know if it was on her screen if it was merely paused. She was doubly grateful she had when she saw who it was.
“Hi mom,” she said awkwardly. “Shouldn’t you be on a plane by now?”
“Bella, they told me the tickets were canceled!”
“Wait what? Why? Did the flight have problems?” she said, adjusting her clothes and checking around her to make sure there was no evidence left from what she’d been doing.
“No no, they said that we’d canceled them. I said that’s ridiculous, what kind of idiot do I sound like?”
She’d bought the tickets for both of her parents. It certainly wasn’t that they couldn’t afford it, money flowed like water in the family down from her grandfather. But she was the tech savvy one. Her uncle had offered to have his secretary take care of it, but she’d insisted on doing it herself.
“Oh mamma you didn’t yell at them did you?”
“Of course I did! What kind of stupid mistake is this?”
“Let me call them, I’ll fix this, I swear,” she said.
It took another minute before she managed to get off the phone, but as she hung up, she was plagued by doubts. She looked at her phone log. She’d called the airline just yesterday. But she couldn’t remember doing it. She dialed the number again, but her hand was trembling slightly.
The man on the phone was helpful, but the news was bad. According to them, she’d canceled the tickets yesterday. She could afford to book new ones at the last minute, but it was humiliating. Her phone buzzed. It was from Mark.
“Are you ok? Your parents told me something happened with the flights.” Read the message.
“Yeah. There was a screw-up. I’ve fixed it now though, don’t worry.”
There was a screw-up alright, but it wasn’t at the airline. She thought about her dress. She looked at her nails. She looked at the phone logs. What if someone had been hypnotizing her?
Her nipples were rock hard. She needed to talk with Madison.
* * *
Madison Dyer took a sip of her coffee and checked her watch again. Come on, where are you? As if answering her thought directly, the door to the coffee shop swung open, and there she stood. Bella looked completely unhinged. She was twitchy, checking over her shoulder, and clearly hiding something inside a conspicuously oversize coat, probably owned by her fiance.
Maddy signaled her to come over to her corner booth. There were only a few other people around, all waiting for takeaway orders and hopefully out of earshot.
“You’re looking good today,” Bella said.
“Thanks, um, you too,” Maddy replied, then pulled out a seat for her.
“I think you’re right, Maddy. I mean it still sounds insane saying it out loud, but I think you really were on to something. It’s like… something inside of me wants to ruin the wedding. And I don’t think it’s me.”
Bella spent the next ten minutes going into excruciating detail about the last few days. Maddy pretended to take some notes about all of it, but she was really only interested in a few of the details.
“And you don’t remember doing any of it?”
“No. Not the dress, not the cancellations, the nails, and…”
“… and the pornography,” she eventually eked out at an extremely low volume. Maddy almost spat out her drink.
“You don’t remember looking up porn?”
“Shhh! Yes, I mean I do remember that. But it’s weird.”
“Is it? I mean…”
“Well it’s weird for me, anyway. And don’t forget the… barking either.”
She lowered her pen to the page again. Started looking up porn? Behaving like dog?
“Ok, I still don’t think I have the full picture here. But it’s starting to come together,” she said. She was overselling her confidence a touch. Maddy had a few theories. “I want you to continue going about your business for now. But I don’t want you to be alone if you can help it. Does Mark have the rest of the week off?”
“Yeah, he does.”
“Ok, I don’t want you to leave his side, alright?”
“Ok, yeah. I can do that. If I have to go out, I mean, I’ve always got this, right?” Bella said, opening her coat and revealing the item she was doing such a poor job of being inconspicuous about. It was a pistol. It looked comically oversize compared to her small hands. She was wearing workout clothes below the coat.
“Jesus, is that real?” said Maddy, at the same time as she was trying pull her coat closed again before somebody saw it.
“Yes, of course. It’s my self defense gun,” she said in a strange tone of voice.
“Your… when did get that?”
“It was…” she trailed off. “I um, well it’s my self defense gun,” she said.
“Does Mark know about this?”
“Of course not. He’d freak out!”
The wheels were turning inside Maddy’s brain. Gun. Assassination? What if this wasn’t just about a wedding? But some of the other details were vexing her. Why would somebody be training an assassin to bark like a dog and look up porn?
“Bella, I need you to give that to me.”
“I don’t think it’s safe for you to be carrying around a weapon like that. Not when there are so many unanswered questions.”
She looked confused.
“I need you to trust me on this, ok? We’ve known each other for this long, have I ever let you down before?”
“Ok, but have I ever let you down about anything important?”
“I promise I’ll give it back to you if you need it, ok?”
Bella looked at her, and Maddy could tell she was torn about what to do.
“Ok. But if I feel like I need it…”
“You’ll have it back straight away. I promise. And you have my word, I’m going to get to the bottom of all this.”
Bella opened her coat again. Maddy breathed a sigh of relief as she put the weapon into her handbag. This was going to be an interesting couple of days.
In spite of her assurances, Maddy didn’t really believe that Bella was going to stay close to Mark. She did believe that Bella thought she was going to. But there were forces at work here well beyond her control. A few weeks ago, Maddy hadn’t thought any of this stuff was possible – truly possible outside of the movies – but the evidence was mounting.
Trying to track down the magician who performed at the Bachelorette Party had proven to be a dead end. The name he gave to them at the time wasn’t used by any magician she could find referenced online or in phone directories for the state. If he had ever used “Malloc the Magnificent”, it wasn’t anywhere nearby in recent history. Who even calls themselves things like that anymore? Every hypnotist she’d actually heard of was named something like “Jessica Brown” or “Anton McLure”. Even professional mentalists just used their real names, or some slightly sexed up version thereof.
Her only real lead at this point was Bella herself. It was a good thing she’d had practice tailing people. Bella wasn’t likely to recognize the car she was driving, since she’d borrowed it from her parents. They wouldn’t mind, probably.
For a little while, Maddy thought Bella was just heading straight home, and that she was going to have to camp out on the street. She’d done that before, too. But eventually, she turned away from her normal route, and led her to a different house not too far away from her home. She kept driving past the spot where Bella pulled in and drove around the block slowly to give her time to get out of the car and enter. A thrift store?
Maddy approached the building slowly. The store was closed and she couldn’t see anybody inside through the glass. She must be in the other side of the building. She stood up on her toes to see over the small fence. Doesn’t look like anybody would notice. She took a running jump and landed as softly as she could on the other side. Her shins took the brunt of the energy before she fell onto her side. She suppressed a groan. Great, I’ll have to clean the dirt off later, she thought, looking down at her skirt. She recovered quickly and started moving around the outside of the house, checking the doors and windows as she went. She had brought her lock-picking tools with her, but it’s always better to check, first.
Yes! One of the windows opened slightly. She paused to see if anybody was going to react to the sound, before slipping her fingers underneath and moving ever so slowly. She cringed every time it made a slight noise, but managed to open it far enough. She waited again, another thirty seconds. Ok, we’re in business.
Inside the home, it was barren, like the place had just finished renovations. She thanked her lucky stars it was carpeted, at least. She was light on her feet, but creaky floorboards could spell disaster.
She heard muffled voices coming from the other end of the hallway. The door was open, but only just. The door was ajar. She inched closer, trying to keep close to the opposite wall, and putting pressure on each step gradually to check if it was safe. The voices grew louder. She slowly opened her bag.
“...worried?” she heard a deep, calming voice say.
She placed the tiny microphone under the door, and pushed it as close to the other side as she dared.
“Yes…” said another voice, dreamily. Bella. She sounded completely out of it.
“I understand. The wedding, it’s just so stressful, isn’t it Isobel?”
“Yes Sir, but…”
“I think somebody might be trying to stop it. I think that I might have been hypnotized, Sir…”
There was a long pause.
“Hypnotized? That’s absurd, Isobel.”
“Yes, Isobel. It’s absurd.”
“Why would you think such an absurd thing?”
“I ruined my dress. So many things going wrong. Can’t remember much about my party.”
“This is all just stress, Isobel. So much stress,” he intoned.
“So much stress… But…”
“There are no buts. It’s time to take your medicine, Isobel.”
Maddy’s heart raced. Bella may not have been in her right mind, but she’d managed to avoid giving Maddy away. I know you’re still in there!
“There we are, now swallow. That’s it. That’s a good girl. Let’s just give that a minute to sink in. You’ll be nice and obedient again, nice and compliant.”
Every suspicion was now confirmed beyond doubt. He was hypnotizing and drugging her, at least since the party and maybe longer. She couldn’t pretend to know what the drug was or how it worked, but even if she didn’t understand the mechanism, it did explain why this was even possible to begin with. If every two-bit stage magician could dominate your mind with just a pocket watch, they’d be in charge of the world by now.
“I didn’t want to have to use this much of it, Isobel. Did you know that? This compound is extremely expensive to make.”
There was no reply. But it didn’t really seem like he expected one.
“But no matter. This won’t be a concern soon. We’ll have another chat about this wedding of yours in a little while. But for now, you can continue working off your debt to me.”
Two guesses as to what he means by that, she thought. Bella obviously knew, because she could hear them both getting undressed.
“No-no- leave that on,” he said.
Bella was quiet. Eerily quiet. Maddy could only imagine what mental state she was in right now. She couldn’t remember this stuff, but was she aware of it when it was happening? Was she a helpless passenger, watching her body act of it’s own accord? Was she totally mindless? Did she know what she was doing, but simply not mind?
This should have been her cue to leave, but something kept her there.
I need to see this through, she thought. It was a violation. It was a rape of her friend’s body and mind. She was furious, she wanted to slash his throat open and watch him bleed out onto the carpet. But she also felt something else. Something stirring from within. She could hear “Malloc the Magnificent” letting out sounds of pleasure as her friend did… something. What was it that she was doing, exactly?
The door was still ajar. There was probably five inches of space clear on the side that it was open. Her heart was still racing from before. She didn’t know what she felt right at that moment. A mixture of conflicting thoughts and feelings. As the sounds from inside grew louder, she knew that there was an opportunity to peek inside – if she wanted to.
She had to fight to keep her breathing from getting too loud. She looked at the gap in the door, transfixed. Her imagination filled in the gaps. In her mind’s eye, she could see Bella, kneeling on the floor, mindlessly. She stared off into the distance while her hand jerked her violator off. Her lord, her master. Her god.
“Oh yeah, slowly, just like that,” she heard. She felt a fresh jolt of revulsion. But all the same, she found herself on the ground, inching closer to the gap.
What if he sees me? What if he fucking sees me and takes me too? She was shaking.
She finally rounded the corner.
Maddy was wrong. Bella wasn’t kneeling at all. Her oversize coat had been discarded on the ground long ago. She was sitting in her seat, wearing nothing but a sports bra and thigh high socks. She was pleasuring him with her breasts, not her hands.Her generous breasts were held together with the bra, and his cock was poking out the top of her cleavage at the crest of every thrust.
Madison had been submissive for as long as she could remember. From the moment she’d hit puberty she started finding a strange sort of thrill in doing as she was told – by people of all genders. She’d experimented with it in high school, and as an adult she’d briefly found herself in an extremely intense relationship with somebody in the local S&M scene. That was where she’d found her limits. But as disgusted as she was by all of this going on in front of her, as vile and repugnant as the man was, she could also feel her body responding to it. I have to move.
She rolled slowly back across and stood up. The two inside were still going at it. Unless he was on a short fuse, she should have enough time to get out. She slowly stood, still trying hard not to make a sound – although that probably didn’t matter as much now with the sounds coming from inside. She crept back along the same route she’d taken on the way in. She paused at the window on the way out and gently turned the lock on the inside of the door next to it before hopping out.
Time passed, and Maddy waited in the yard out back. She had to get into that office with the two of them gone. If she’d judged correctly, this wasn’t where he was living, or if he was, he certainly wasn’t doing his cooking and cleaning there. Either way, he should leave at some point.
At some point turned out to be over two hours later. Bella had left after fifteen minutes, but then there was nothing for a long time. At first she jotted down some notes while crouched behind one of the bushes. But eventually, the tension had faded to such an extent that boredom had taken over and she’d started scrolling on her phone. Her train of thought was interrupted when a car engine started out front. As it zoomed away down the street, she counted to ten, then got to work.
He hadn’t checked the back door on the way out, so getting back inside was trivial. His office was just as barren as before, A simple desk with a stack of papers and two chairs. She looked around for signs of the drug. She managed to find a small empty glass bottle. There was nothing printed on it at all, and it looked like it had been scrubbed clean and dried thoroughly. He must have taken the rest of it with him. In one of the drawers, there was a bottle of lube with the cap not sealed properly. She closed the drawer and sorted through the stack of papers. Bill. Bill. Junk mail. Bill.
The bottom of the stack was more interesting. The first document that caught her eye was hand written. It was some kind of codebook. Time being of the essence, she didn’t dwell too much on what it said, but she took a photo of the page. Below the codebook there was a partially crumpled sticky note on top of the codebook – “He approves! Tell S.B.” was written on it. She took another photo. She had no idea who that could be referring to, but if it was whomever this man was working for, she planned to find out.