“…and make sure you’re ready for something very special next week as I’m going to have a very special guest,” Lizzie said, smiling to camera. “If you’ve been watching my friend Mary’s videos, you might be able to guess who. I’m going to finish up this series on ‘who I really am’ with something special.”
As her signature, she put two fingers to her lips and mimed blowing a kiss to the lens. “If you’ve enjoyed this series, or if you have any questions, please do me a favour. Leave a comment down below, ask a question, or just share the link to a friend who’d like it. And as always, don’t forget to like and subscribe - it really does matter to this channel.”
She smiled for long enough for her outro music cue to play in her head, then ran through the last couple of sentences and smile again so she’d have options in editing. Lastly, she struck a couple of different smiling poses for potential thumbnails.
Then she paused recording; her shoulders dropped back into a slump and her energy went out of her in a long sigh.
“Well, that’s done,” she said softly, and got up to go make herself a cup of tea.
It was easy for Lizzie Winter’s audience to feel like she just chatted to camera with only a little preparation, then uploaded the video. Easy for them to picture her as a friend - and she felt like she was a friend to many of them, although one who didn’t return messages as often as maybe she should.
And she wanted that to be easy, which was why she worked at it so hard. Any video took time to script, then time to shoot, then time to edit, and the shooting was usually the least of those. (Although next week’s promised to be an exception to that.) She had cultivated a strong audience of friends and like-minded people - she could even enjoy the comment section most of the time - and while early on her sex-positive attitude, naturally busty figure and preference for low-cut revealing tops had also made her channel a thirst trap, as she’d grown and adapted (and dialled across into less revealing tops) she’d earned the audience she wanted - ones who listened to her, at least, whether or not they also stared.
This whole video thing had seemed like fun - and it was - but she’d never realised how much work it would turn into when she started to take pride in them.
The post-shoot cuppa wasn’t just a needed break, it was part of the ritual. She drew a line under the shoot by going over what had happened and accepting that it was done. Early on she’d always told herself she could go back and shoot more if she needed, but having that available while editing meant you second-guessed yourself a lot more.
Lizzie sat in her kitchen and warmed her hands around the mug, thinking through what she’d said and forgiving herself for any slips. There was a reason she allowed herself to ramble off-script. It gave her the freedom to speak her mind and it made sure she was well-set for the little intercut asides that had become one of her trademarks.
The worst stuff would always end up on the cutting room floor, and she didn’t have to edit it today, either. Her special guest had offered her a window that afternoon, so the plan was to film a simple one, then film a more complicated one and get them both edited over the next couple of weeks.
As they were releasing a week apart, once she’d finished her tea Lizzie went for a shower, change of makeup, and change of clothes.
New makeup and new clothes (a lavender business-cut blouse was what the channel would see, but she’d added a grey suit skirt because she always felt odd wearing something on her lower half that didn’t suit the top) guaranteed the new video would appear to have been filmed on a different day. Lizzie always felt it was a bit daft not to be able to admit she sometimes shot in blocks - sometimes it was obvious, like when she and a friend would do three or four collaboration videos for each channel over a two-day period - but she’d found that her viewers felt cheated when she made it clear she did.
So while she made videos talking about how she organised her life, she often skipped over the obvious step, which was to block out time more efficiently, in case people realised. What she wanted from her videos was for her friends - she really did think of her audience that way - to feel like they were all friends chatting. It was worth all the work which went into it to make sure they felt like friends. The feeling was more real than the work.
This one was going to be shot in at least two bursts, because schedules demanded it, but it was going to be something fun, something different. And Lizzie would admit she had butterflies in her stomach as she checked her recording software and opened up her chat program.
The new contact was waiting there, at the top of her timeline, with a completely empty chat record. Her special guest. Someone she didn’t know - but Mary, a frequent collaborator, had brought him on as a guest not too long ago, when she was doing her first video opening up about the stress she felt over each month’s income, and had kept in touch afterward.
Ivan had been a fit for Mary’s explanation of stress and concern and ways to move forward. He was also a fit for Lizzie’s ‘Who I Really Am’ series, for slightly different reasons.
Ivan was a hypnotherapist. Not Mary’s; as she’d pointed out, her own therapist talking on her videos about her state of mind would violate all kinds of client confidentiality guidelines, even if she’d technically invited it. But he could discuss similar cases with anonymity and offer some careful insights.
For Lizzie, the plan she’d pitched to him was that they’d use him as a big capstone to the series, and they’d do a carefully-prepped walkthrough of her subconscious mind; a couple of questions culled from her top Patreon tier, some things she wanted to discuss that her regular formats didn’t allow, and get to show her audience something special.
His online indicator was green so she sent the call invite. A few moments later the bleeps ceased and his face filled the screen, in front of a bookshelf full of geeky collectibles. Very clearly - and very deliberately, she guessed - not a professional backdrop. He was attempting to appear professional in his button-down shirt and calm demeanour to strike the balance he wanted to show.
On the other hand, he’d already had that wall. Lizzie suspected that the Ivan he wanted to show and the actual Ivan were probably not actually too far apart.
Lizzie smiled warmly. “Hi. Don’t worry, we’re not recording yet.”
She could see the relaxation in him immediately. Shoulders went down and the deadpan expression sagged into a smile. Lizzie knew exactly how he felt.
“OK,” he said. “Hi. So we’re doing this, huh?”
She grinned back. “I guess we are,” she agreed. “I was wondering how you wanted to go about this?”
Ivan tilted his head to one side, obviously considering the answer. “I learned a lot about video talking to Mary,” he said, but obviously I’m still miles behind you in terms of what looks good. So I’m going to leave that responsibility with you, okay?”
Lizzie wasn’t quite sure if that was a compliment or something else, but she nodded. “Sure. So your responsibility is…”
“My main one will be getting you under,” he said. “Then working through what we’ve agreed. I’d like to do a little pre-test first, though. There are two reasons for that.”
“So, first of all, people respond to different hypnotic styles differently. Some folks find one way works easily and smoothly. Others have no reaction to it. So I’d like to make sure we’re doing an induction that works for you, and if we’re recording it, I’d like you to have already experienced being under so you know what that feels like for you.”
Lizzie nodded. “And second?” she asked. Her fingers were clicking away at her keyboard, making notes in a separate program. She might want to get his answers to a question about that during the recording; her viewers liked the chance to learn whatever strange facts she’d had a chance to pick up.
“Second, I’d rather not point this out on the video, but being as there are lots of different ways that someone can behave, look, feel, even think under hypnosis, and being as some people spend most of their time on their way down into trance trying to spot the imaginary point where they slip from wakefulness to trance, I’d like to ask you to do something as we take you down.”
“I’d like you to focus instead on a good way to look when you’re under. You’ve got some idea how hypnosis looks in movies and TV, right?” Lizzie nodded, and Ivan smiled. “Obviously that’s all complete bollocks,” he continued. “But bollocks or not, it still affects how people look as they go under. And while there’s no sure way to know how someone will look in trance before they go under, for a video, you definitely want to be trying to go under in a specific way.” He grinned. “Right?”
Lizzie nodded. “OK, that makes total sense. And I hadn’t thought of that. Is there anything I might do that could look really bad? Scrap-the-video kind of bad?”
“One or two things you might not be comfortable with,” Ivan conceded. “But I won’t tell you what they are until we’re done. Why put that in your head?”
Lizzie nodded again.
“Right,” she said. “I think, you know, I’m ready.”
“OK, good,” Ivan said. “So. You’ve got a multi-screen set-up over there, right?”
“Yep,” she nodded.
“Cool,” he said. “I’m sending you a link. Can you open it in your spare screen?”
She nodded. Clicking on the link, she expertly snared the new window just as it opened and dragged it to the new window.
It looked like an older screensaver, honestly. Something that had been designed to show off graphical capabilities but still be easy on the eye. It was a smooth yellow-to-red gradient running diagonally across the screen, all in soft, muted tones. And from time to time ripples emerged from seemingly random points on the screen, bubbles of a beautiful, vibrant pink or a distinctive, pleasant lilac which emerged, then popped, then rippled out into each other, the ripples overlapping and merging.
Lizzie’s surprise at the image must have shown on her face, as Ivan started talking again.
“I wanted to use a visual focus,” he said, “as that way, for the video, we’ll get the visual interest of your eyes in any clips you use. Even now I can see the movements of your eyes as you dart from spot to spot as they open. That’s fine! That’s natural. Don’t try and stop it happening. Just watch the screen.
“Obviously if I put a spiral on my chat you don’t have my expressions for your viewers to play off. If I’m swinging a pendulum we could end up distracting or even trancing any susceptible viewers. And we don’t want that. So the solution is a screen like this.” Over the course of his explanation it seemed like his tone had completely changed. It was lower now, softer. Gentle, but coaxing. There was a confidence to it that felt very like an authority, even if it technically wasn’t.
“So instead we have this screen. Isn’t it pretty?”
Lizzie nodded, a tentative smile on her lips. “Oh, definitely. Is this yours?”
“Yes, it is. Will you be wanting to ask that during the recording?”
“Yes,” she agreed simply.
“That’s fine. But for now I just want you to enjoy the prettiness. You do plenty of videos where you take quizzes or check research off screens. You’ve got to have some way to deal with the self-consciousness of being watched. Do you pretend people aren’t there?”
“Yes,” Lizzie admitted.
“That’s going to be a little harder with me, what with me talking directly to you and everything, but I suspect you can do it. You’ve got plenty of practice, right?”
“Yes,” she agreed again. Truth be told it was pretty easy to pretend he wasn’t there. As a matter of fact she was barely even listening to his words at this point. She knew she was meant to be enjoying the pretty graphics and that was turning out to be stunningly easy to do.
“That’s really good. And just so you know, as you watch the bursts, I’m watching your eyes to look for what I need. Would you be happy to hear you’re showing signs that you’re already almost ready to drop?”
“Yes,” Lizzie said, although she wasn’t completely sure what she was agreeing to.
“Past a certain point, your eyes start to pick up the patterns in advance. And you start looking ahead of the bursts, ready to catch the whole thing. Your mind is running on automatic,” he explained. Then, in a tone that sounded like a prompt, he said “Isn’t it?”
“Yes,” she agreed.
Lizzie felt herself dropping, a giddying high that felt like the floor had fallen away from below her. Her scalp and spine tingled with excitement at just how different everything felt as her sight blurred and was lost altogether. Her head hit the padded headrest on her computer chair as she flopped backward and almost bounced.
Lizzie opened her eyes. She felt light headed and strange for a few moments, blinking against the bright LED lights she kept set up around her cameras. Ivan smiled back at her from his screen.
“Hello,” he said. “How do you feel?”
“Um… really good, actually,” she said. She considered her answer for a few moments then nodded vigorously. “Yeah. Really good.”
“Good. How do you think that went?”
“I don’t really remember. Is that usual?”
“It can be,” Ivan said blithely. “Depends on the person, and it can depend on trust. Telling someone to forget isn’t always that effective, but some people enjoy the forgetting, and it works well for them.”
“That’s interesting,” Lizzie said. “I wouldn’t have thought I’d be one of them.”
Ivan nodded. “Honestly nor would I. I have to figure you’re very image conscious - you can’t succeed at your job if you’re not, right?” Lizzie nodded, and Ivan made a show of celebrating like he’d guessed something difficult. He snapped his fingers and pointed them as finger guns.
While he was finishing his pose, Lizzie’s hands rose from the keyboard and unbuttoned the highest button on her blouse. She smiled at his antics.
“So did you test anything?” she asked.
Ivan gave a mock frown as if trying to remember. With a melodramatic flourish, he declared “Oh! Yes!” and snapped his fingers. Lizzie’s hands opened another button as he continued. “I did take a couple of screengrabs of you in trance, so you could see what you’re like. Interested?”
“Coming up,” Ivan said. As his face was replaced with a screenshot of Lizzie - glassy eyes unfocused, both apparently trying to look at a point half-hidden by her heavy eyelids, lips parted, head tilted slightly to one side - she heard him snap his fingers again. She had no idea why, but her hands undid a third button. “Do you prefer this look,” he asked, “Or this?”
A second image filled the screen. Lizzie wasn’t slumped back in her chair in this one; she was sitting upright, ramrod-straight, except that her head had lolled forward. Her hair hung down over her face. She looked lost, just as she did in the first.
Lizzie realised only belatedly that seeing herself enthralled like that was hot. Weirdly hot. She bit her lip and crossed her legs, pressing wet thighs together - much wetter than this sudden exposure accounted for.
She didn’t find hypnosis erotic, did she? That could be awkward on camera…
(Somehow, there was no thought of how this afternoon might affect her boyfriend.)
“Hello? Hello?” Ivan asked into the silence, his voice amused. He offered a teasing snap of the fingers to encourage her back to awareness. Lizzie’s hands unbuttoned the fourth button on her blouse, reached up, and tugged the blouse open, framing bare breasts between them. She felt, if anything, even better than when she’d come round.
“Um,” she managed, swallowing heavily, “when you say which do I prefer…”
“I could try guiding you to one or the other for when we record. You’re going pretty deep. Or there’s one other, if you’re interested?”
Both views of her so far had got her highly steamed and excited, but she wasn’t convinced either was a way she’d want to present. “Go on…” she said.
The screen advanced to another capture; this time Lizzie sat upright in her chair again, attentive as the keenest schoolgirl, smiling giddily, happily, but vacantly. In this still her blouse was, again, unbuttoned, but the bra that no longer covered her chest was in place.
It was, she realised suddenly, like looking at her ideal self.
“I mean… if I can keep my clothes on, that’s fine,” she said, and while she’d thought she meant it as a firm rebuke and a reinforcement of her boundaries, she swore it came out more like flirtation. Somehow, again, no guilty thoughts of her partner surfaced.
“Oh, that’s perfectly fine,” he said. “But that’s the way you want to look?”
“Yes,” she agreed unhesitatingly.
“Open, malleable, suggestible?”
Oh, fuck. Now it sounded even better. Lizzie didn’t need to move to know just how much slicker her thighs were becoming.
“Yes,” she said again, much more firmly.
“That’s good,” he said. “Remember that, Lizzie. When you drop into trance, that’s the posture and expression for you.”
She bit her lip, feeling a shiver down her spine. “Did that just… happen? Because you said that?”
“I have planted a posthypnotic to help with this kind of thing,” Ivan said. “So yes.”
That wasn’t what they’d agreed, and Lizzie did wonder if she should feel like she’d been tricked, or abused, or just messed with; however, the fact of the matter was that she simply didn’t. Realising this, she found herself calmer, her breathing easier. Still excited, but any unease she might have had was gone now.
“Right,” she said. She picked up her bra - which, she now noticed, she’d spread across her keyboard, presumably when she’d removed it - and found beneath it her panties. Her eyes widened and she looked down at her skirt, realising the wetness was far more visible than it should be.
Well, at least that wouldn’t be visible when recording…
She flushed. “Wow, just how much did you do with me?”
“Do you want a complete answer, Lizzie? Or do you want to keep the mystery?”
As he said the last three words something between a sigh and a moan escaped her lips. She didn’t say anything, just collected her underwear and stood. “I’m going to get changed before-”
Lizzie’s forward momentum ground to a halt. Her legs locked, then her hips, then spine, then shoulders, a swaying wave rolling up her body until she was frozen in place. Her lips parted slightly, partly wanting to ask, partly just shocked at what had happened.
Ivan chuckled. “Open,” he said. “Malleable. Suggestible. What are you?”
“Open,” she echoed. “Malleable. Suggestible.”
“Run along,” he said. She hurried off.
The professional look and the blouse and skirt didn’t seem right at all anymore. She would be showing a slightly different side of herself in the video that seemed to be coming up. When she got back in, she knew, she’d have to ask him not to embarrass her too much. Although honestly she wasn’t convinced he would. This was wrong, it was dubious, it was clearly beyond her consent (it was, right? Why couldn’t she remember so she could be sure?) but it was so hot and she didn’t think that was all her, she had either a memory or an imagination of his voice oozing satisfaction as he said “…it’s going to feel even better…”, and being open, malleable, suggestible just seemed so wonderful.
She didn’t go back in the shower - time was pressing - but did take the time to clean up, re-touch her makeup, and secure her hair into a ponytail with a clasp this time, so stray strands were less likely to escape if anything went wrong.
She dithered for a while over a choice of tops, before noticing that her eager hands had already selected her bra - one she hated, honestly; it was buried at the back of her drawer, and had been used on camera before only once, when she’d been trying to make a point about how much the right underwear could change the shape of your body.
It pinched, it was too tight, and honestly if worn for long periods of time it left her back aching. But it did make her look bigger and perkier all at once, and evidently those wandering hands of hers had ideas of their own.
Lizzie slipped it around her, fastened the strap and then tugged it into place, adjusting it carefully until she was happy with it. She looked down at herself and nodded. Seemed like a decision maker; she’d show some cleavage again, the first time in a while. She might even quite enjoy watching the speculation she knew she’d provoke.
So a tight, deep-necked T-shirt she’d never worn on camera - only ever when she went out with friends - was added to the ensemble. She considered the results of the two garments together in the mirror, then nodded.
Let’s see who’s malleable now…
Rather than stay in the skirt or give Ivan an easy victory she slipped on some track pants instead of anything too revealing below the waist. But she left the panties where they were; that could be her own secret concession.
She made her way back to her office, anticipating the impact her new look would have on Ivan. His eyes widening, his reaction didn’t disappoint.
She took her seat. “I’m glad you approve,” she said. “Are you ready to shoot a professional looking video now?”
Ivan laughed. “Absolutely,” he said. “No funny business the viewers will know about.”
She looked back at him, her expression intended as stern, but he read the excitement she’d tried to mask in her eyes and grinned. After a moment, she grinned too.
It was a good job she’d recorded their pre-talk. She kind of looked forward to finding out just what games he was playing. If she could figure out the rules she might enjoy joining in.
“OK. Starting now.” She brought her hands together in a clap for the camera, something she could use to sync video and audio. “Let’s go.”