By Wednesday, Jenna was determined to get to the bottom of it all. She was confident that there was a group of people at work who had conspired to do… something to the women. Force foreign ideas in their heads. Control them.
When she got in to work, she avoided her desk again and went straight into the neighbouring office. Several women were at their desk, staring intently at their monitors, silently working. Some of them were already starting to zone out from what she could see. Suddenly, somebody almost knocked her sideways.
“I’m.. so sorry,” said Cathy, out of breath and evidently sprinting to get to her desk. “I almost didn’t make it into work on time, I had to get a taxi.” Jenna sympathised. It was imperative to do so, after all. If Cathy was running late, it was probably because she’d spent so long looking in a mirror this morning. Her makeup was flawless and she’d had her hair done since yesterday. Instead of the “classy hooker” look that some had been going for, she seemed to have more of a “gym clothes” aesthetic going on. She was wearing an extremely tight set of leggings that made it hard not to stare.
“That’s ok,” said Jenna, although it was in fact quite painful. “Hey, Cath, could you do me a favour?” she continued.
“Oh sure Jen, what do you need?”
“Just come with me for a sec, let’s grab a coffee.”
“Oh um, sure,” she said. “Just let me put my bag down.”
As she fetched a coffee with Cathy, she made some small talk. Really, she was just stalling her – she wanted to show Cathy what was happening to the other women, to see how she might react. She was also curious.
“Cath, how do you feel about your superiors?” she said, thinking back to what was being drilled into the women yesterday.
“Um, they’re fine I suppose,” she replied, looking a bit confused. Jenna paused for a moment. Oh fuck it.
“Would you do anything to please them?” she said after a pause.
“I would do anything to please my superiors,” said Cathy with no trace of hesitation or doubt.
That confirmed it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Whatever they were doing – it worked. She let out a sigh.
“I thought you might say that,” said Jenna. She was struck by a bolt of inspiration. “Hey, you know, I’ve been thinking… I’ve worked here a lot longer than you have, haven’t I?”
“And I’m technically a rank above you, yeah?”
“Technically, yeah. You’ve got your own little private area to work in. What are you getting at exactly?”
“So you could say that I’m you’re superior, right?”
Cathy looked a little torn. Jenna knew this was a bit of a logical stretch – Cathy did not in any sense report to Jenna, even though they were on different pay levels and Jenna had more responsibilities in the office.
“I don’t think that’s really how it works,” said Cathy. Damnit, she thought. I really need an ally. Wait, maybe I’m overthinking this…
“But you are a pretty girl, right? So you’d do as you were told?”
“Pretty girls do as they’re told,” said Cathy, “of course.” Jenna was relieved. So she couldn’t convince her that she was her superior, but Jenna didn’t even need to take advantage of any of the brainwashing to get her to cooperate, thankfully.
“Great, I’m so glad to hear it. You will come with me back to the office, but you’re not going to sit down or do any work today. Do you understand?”
“Um, yeah, I can do that,” she replied.
The two of them walked back through the corridors and arrived near Cathy’s desk. She didn’t sit down, so all was going well up to that point. Everyone else in that room was, as predicted, now asleep with their headphones on.
“That’s weird,” said Cathy.
“Yeah, I’m glad you noticed,” she said. “I think they’re doing something to the women here, Cath.”
“What? Doing what?”
“They’re um, hypnotising us, or something. I think it doesn’t work on me, but you were here yesterday just like these people, repeating phrases under your breath.”
Cathy looked completely blindsided.
“That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard, Jen.” Cathy turned to look at the people all there sleeping, mouths moving silently. “Although I do admit, this is next-level bonkers. Have you told anybody else about this?”
“Well, I couldn’t tell anybody outside, because you should never talk about what happens at work to outsiders. I wasn’t sure who to talk to. I know I want to get to the bottom of this, but I just don’t know who to trust.”
“If I was like that yesterday then...” Cathy looked increasingly panicked.
“I think it started last week, but I’m not sure exactly.”
“Maybe the update that went around on Thursday last week? Could they have done something to our computers then?” It was so obvious. She couldn’t even believe she hadn’t thought of that.
“That’s probably the best working theory we have,” she said.
“Jesus Christ. We have to wake them all up, right now.”
“No! If we make too much fuss they’ll just come down here and tell you all to get back to work anyway. You’d do it if I told you to, wouldn’t you?”
“Pretty girls do as they’re told, so yeah. Jesus, you’re right, we’re going to have to play this one close to the chest.”
Privately, Jenna didn’t trust Cathy at all. She was completely compromised and there could be dozens of secret beliefs and commands buried in her head. But she needed someone to help. She couldn’t just run away and never come back. It just wasn’t the done thing to leave work during work hours without permission. Because she didn’t fully trust Cathy, she elected not to take her to the second supply room. She considered it something of a private sanctuary – a fortress of solitude perhaps – and she knew there was a possibility that Cathy might get caught by someone. She would do anything to please her superiors, the poor woman. What they needed right now was a plan. Any kind of plan. The beginnings of a plan might be enough.
“Can you think of anybody else who might not be compromised, but isn’t an outsider?” Cath whispered. Jenna put some serious thought into it. “Is there anyone in IT we can trust, maybe? Do you have any friends there?”
Jenna explained to Cathy what had happened with the IT guy on Monday.
“Did you do what you were told?” she intoned, just in the way that Rachel had that day. She sighed, this wasn’t a productive line of discussion.
“No I did not. Do not ask me that again, Cath,” she replied. Cathy’s genuine confusion about why Jenna hadn’t done as she was told was overridden by her own desire to do as she was told right at that moment.
“Of course. I won’t ask you that again.”
“Good. But to answer your question, I’m not sure if there’s anyone there we can trust.”
“Do you know anyone from level three?” she asked. Another bolt of inspiration struck Jenna as the question entered her mind.
“Have you seen Sophie recently?” she asked Cathy. Cathy thought about it for a moment.
“Now that you mention it, I think she went away last week. Took some leave for family issues. I thought she’d be back by now.”
“If she wasn’t here, then she’s probably safe. But she also works here, so she’s not an outsider. Alright, we’re getting somewhere.” She was suddenly almost excited by this. The stakes were real, but it also felt like an old mystery novel of some kind. The main character is pretty fucking stupid, though, she thought to herself.
She instructed Cathy to wait in the bathroom until she got back. She was only too happy to do as she was told. The elevator dinged, and as before, she decided to duck into a corner where she wouldn’t be seen. A group of men got out, so she felt her suspicions were vindicated.
“Are we on schedule, Mark?” said a voice. Mister Grey’s voice. That fucking pig.
“Absolutely sir. Things have been going very smoothly. They’re taking to the suggestions like ducks to water,” said another voice, much more timid. Is that the IT guy from before?
“But has it worked on everybody, Mark? Have you tested everybody?”
They stopped walking.
“I um, yes. I’ve seen to it that we’ve tested everybody. There’s just one person who might be an issue.”
“Who is it?”
“Miss Greene. She seemed like she’s only had a partial uptake on the suggestions” he said. Jokes on you, fuckface. None of your fucking ‘suggestions’ worked on me at all!
“I assume I don’t have to tell you about the gravity of this situation, Mark,” he said. He sounded like he was starting to wind up. “I assume, Mark, that I am not required to make you fully and completely cognisant of the consequences of you fucking this up for me. For the whole company.”
“Absolutely not sir,” he said even more timidly than before. “I’m seeing to it that we pull her in for a manual adjustment today. I’m completely confident that it won’t be an issue, sir.”
They continued walking down the hallway and out of earshot. Jenna was terrified. They were onto her. She needed to contact Sophie, right now.
She managed to find Sophie on chat. She wasn’t friends with her, but she sent a message request and breathed a sigh of relief when it was accepted.
Jenna > Hi Soph. I’m sorry if this is a bad time. Do you have a sec to chat?
Sophie > Hey Jenna yeah I’ve got a min. What do you need
Jenna > This going to sound completely insane, but there’s something really serious going on at work and I need your help.
Sophie > Of course, what’s wrong
Jenna > Do you have access to a gun?
Sophie > Jesus whats happened are you ok
She spent the next half an hour in an extremely intense text chat with Sophie. She seemed to believe Jenna, or at least was humouring her. She knew it sounded completely insane, but promised that she would be able to prove it all as soon as she came back to work the following today. She made the urgency extremely clear, and Sophie promised that she’d bring in her boyfriend’s target pistol on the condition that it was unloaded. Good enough. I only have to threaten them if it comes to that.
The remainder of the afternoon was going to be trickier. She was wanted now. It was only 1pm and she couldn’t leave without permission until 5pm on the dot. She had to evade them until then, and considering they might be hunting for her, possibly not until much later, after everybody else had left. She opened up the crack of the meeting room floor. Level one is a possibility. Maybe the basement parking? No good, she’d have to go past IT on the way down.
She waited until nobody was around in the corridor, and she made a dart for the other end. She crouched past the main admin area and went back into the lady’s room. Cathy was still sitting there, staring into the mirror diligently waiting for her return.
“Cathy,” she said. She felt guilt welling up inside, but this was important. “I now need you to run a distraction for me. I’m going to… I’m going to run downstairs and try to get out of the building and I need you to go in and distract the IT people in the main office while I do that. Is that understood?”
“Yes of course,” Cathy said, smiling. Cathy seemed to take some pride in doing what she was told. Jenna knew this was not going to work very effectively – as soon as she went in there she was more or less going to be dancing to their tune, falling over herself to please them. But they were already looking for her, and she needed to throw them off until she could get somewhere else in the building. She needed them to think she’d left the building, as unthinkable as that would be to actually do. Cathy would be grilled about her whereabouts, she’d tell them what she believed to be happening.
A few moments later, she was ready to make a break for it. Her true objective was, as before, the secondary supply room. She signalled to Cathy to go in and start distracting them. Then she performed the odd hybrid of a crouch and a sprint towards her destination. Her heart pounded the whole way. I fucking made it! She closed the door as quietly as she could behind her and started making a little spot to hide in behind the giant stack of tissues, stationary and paper. If somebody opened the door, she wouldn’t be immediately visible as long as she could keep quiet.
It was dimly lit, and after the initial panic had started to subside, she started to relax just a tiny bit.
At 3PM, the door started rattling. Jenna’s brain surged with adrenaline, and she dropped to the floor behind the huge stacks of A4 paper. She’d become complacent and started using this pile as a seat. She tried to compact herself as much as she could to be less visible. The door opened. Please god don’t let them hear me.
The door finally swung wide open, and Jenna heard giggling. She knew it well.
“What was it you needed, sir?” Sarah said, punctuating the giggles. “Do you need to… interrogate me?”
“That won’t be necessary Sarah,” said Nathan. He had the tone of a parent speaking to their child, or perhaps a person speaking to a pet.
“Oh no fair, Cathy was in there for hours,” she said, letting out the slightest moan.
Jenna’s fear was momentarily undercut by a renewed pang of guilt. I’m so sorry, Cathy. She could feel the beginnings of a tear starting to form, but suppressed it. Making any sounds was going to give away her position.
“Don’t worry, you’ll still have ample opportunity to please your superiors,” he replied. “Give me your phone,” he said.
“Yes sir. The code is 1234,” she said enthusiastically. Nathan chuckled.
“Do you have Jenna’s number?”
“Yes sir, do you want me to call her?”
“No, I’ll send a message. What you can do for me right now is fetch Rachel, we’re going to have a little meeting in here.”
“Oh sir… I’ll be right back,” she said. Jenna could hear her rubbing his pants with and Nathan stifling his own small moan in response. The door opened and she pranced down the corridor to go fetch another victim for this asshole’s sick game. I will put an end to this. For Sarah, For Cathy, for everyone.
Nathan had opened Sarah’s phone, and the slight buzz of the force feedback was just barely audible. Jenna realised that she had a huge problem – her phone was going to buzz two feet behind him if she didn’t do something before he sent her a message.
She inched her hand out of it’s concealed position and around to her handbag. By positioning her thumb and index finger on either side of the zipper and squeezing tightly, it was possible to open silently. It was a trick that had come in handy for the cinema or, when she was still living with her parents, when they’d insisted on taking her to church. She felt her blood pumping again and had to control her breathing as she grabbed her phone and unlocked it. It was already on silent, but she quickly disabled the vibration, and not a moment too soon. A message came in from Sarah, but she averted her eyes quickly. Who knows what these people can do over a telephone. She swiped the notification away without reading and rested the phone down on her stomach.
A moment later, the door opened again and Sarah pulled Rachel through the doorway.
“Oh sir, what are you doing here?” Sarah intoned seductively.
“Is there anything we can help with?” Rachel said. “Anything at all”. More giggling. Is this what men actually want? Giggling schoolgirls? In this case it at least, that did seem to be correct. Nathan stepped forward wordlessly and started making out with one of them – she wasn’t sure which. A few moments of animal sounds and breathless whispering later, they started to undress. Nathan’s belt made a ding as his pants hit the floor.
“Oh sir,” said Sarah, acting like Nathan’s penis was the most impressive thing she’d ever seen in her life. “May I touch it, sir?”
“No, not yet. You’re going to put on a show for me. Kiss each other.”
They didn’t hesitate for a second. The makeout session lasted for an uncomfortably long period of time, and Nathan started stroking his cock at some point during all the moaning and wet mouth sounds.
“Eat her out, Sarah,” Nathan said. “Mmmmm… that’s it. Yeah.
The smell of sex was now wafting around the corner past the A4 stacks. Jenna’s muscles were starting to hurt from the awkward pose she was stuck in. Even her phone started to feel like it was the heaviest thing on the planet, pressing into her gut. But she knew that if she was caught now, the whole jig was up. She’d be brainwashed, or maybe even killed. She took a slow, deep breath and tried to ignore the extremely exaggerated, pornography-esque sounds of two women trying their absolute hardest to please their superior.
“Ohhhh, siiiiir,” said Sarah as Nathan entered her from behind.
“Don’t lose focus, keep it up, she’s nearly there.”
“Mmmmm, yesss siiirr”
It took a few minutes before Rachel came. Nathan followed soon after, and then Sarah in time with that. Jenna severely doubted the authenticity of the final orgasm, but couldn’t deny that he had been pleased by their behaviour. They gave his cock a tongue bath without prompting.
“Mmm, that was wonderful girls.”
Is he going to say… oh please yes, Jenna thought.
“Clean yourselves up and get back to work,” he continued. “I’ll reward you later, if you keep doing a good job.”
“Yes sir,” the two said in unison, beaming at the opportunity to further prove themselves.
Jenna was simultaneously disappointed and relieved.
At around 8PM, frazzled, muscles acheing and emotionally drained, she finally felt confident enough to exfiltrate the building. She arranged for a taxi to meet her outside, waited a few minutes for it to get close, and then sprinted across the corridor, down the stairs, and out the front door. She had to hit the after hours exit buttons on the way through.
She ran through the plan she’d made with Sophie again in her head. Sophie would swing by to pick her up at 5:30am. They’d try to get in to work by 6am, which should be doable considering the light traffic at that hour. Sophie would bring her boyfriend’s target pistol (unloaded). Jenna would use her access card to get into the building before it opened normally, and then they would hide until everybody else started coming into the building. She would prove it was happening to Sophie by showing her the other girls getting into their “morning routine”. Then she’d confront Mister Grey, stick him up at gunpoint, and demand that he undo what he’d done to everybody. She’d force him to give her permission to leave work during business hours indefinitely, and announce that she was resigning. It’s a shame that you should never speak about what happens at work to outsiders, because otherwise I’d report their creepy asses to the authorities, she thought to herself. That was just how the world worked, and nothing could be done about it.