The next film to download surprised Lisa by not having a title screen; the file itself was simply titled ‘options.mpeg’.
Possibly, she thought, the title would come later, maybe after a trailer... but before she watched more than a couple of seconds in, she decided it was time to go back to the main site.
After all, it was probably just that they’d forgotten to rename the film once they’d finished editing, leaving it with a much simpler, less professional filename. It could happen. But still...
No. It turned out her memory was right. This film – at least if it had anything like ‘Options’ in the title – wasn’t offered on their site.
The footage was rougher, too; after a few moments of blackness and a tiny, almost imperceptible crackle on the audio track, the first shot appeared. It was... well, the first thing you noticed was a black woman in her mid-twenties, seated facing the camera, topless, her hands stroking her breasts in the same measured spiral, the pace unchanging, unbreaking, perfectly synchronised to a beat only present in her head, eyes lightly closed, lids flickering slightly as if she was dreaming. Below the waist was a prim and proper not quite knee-length skirt, charcoal grey and business cut, and a sober pair of tights, plus smart flats.
Seated next to her was the man who’d played the hypnotist in all of these films so far, fully dressed but very casually. He was barefoot under the jeans, his T-shirt was clearly well-worn, colours a little drained by time and washing, and the expression on his face was a little less cocksure than in all his other performances. He seemed, to coin a phrase, to feel only provisionally in command.
Lisa had a chance, now, to read more of the emotion in his face than in any previous appearance – the second thing you noticed about the opening shot was that the hypnotist was looking directly into the camera.
Looking right at her.
He’d never used his eyes to entrance, not in any of the previous scenes or the trailers she’d watched for the others. But still... Once she’d seen those eyes, she couldn’t stop looking.
He was saying something, and Lisa didn’t even notice what. She just looked... and looked...
Imagined herself trapped there, held by nothing but those eyes, frozen in place. The woman spoke, briefly, but what she said surely didn’t matter. He went back to talking
Someone else was speaking now – not the woman in shot, either, but some other female voice.
That was distracting.
The noise shrilled out, and Lisa blinked abruptly, shocked out of her connection with the hypnotist’s eyes. What was...
Oh. Yes. Her cell phone... that was where the noise was coming from. Where was it...
She turned her gaze back to the eyes, her hand reaching out for the vague location of the phone. Fingers gripped and, driven by memory, pushed Answer, held it to her ear.
She was only vaguely aware of what her sister said to her. There was the general impression that she’d been asked something, what didn’t seem important. She agreed, rolled through goodbyes without thinking about them, and hung up before blinking again, some general awareness of her surroundings starting to creep back in.
She checked her watch. It was... three hours since the download finished?
Impossible. Her frozen, trapped, empty-minded surrender... that was a fantasy, just a fantasy.
Cold water doused her face as fast as she could splash it onto it. A wakeup call. That was what she needed. This was... this was addiction, plain and simple. A fixation like this, pure and simple, could not be healthy.
She had to stop. Had to get herself back under control. She would... she’d take a break. No watching ‘options’ or whatever it’s real, polished name turned out to be. Not until... say... Wednesday. Taking the rest of the weekend, Monday and Tuesday off, that would prove she could do it. Prove she could handle it.
It took an effort of will to close the window, with those black, captivating pupils still visible, but it seemed best.
That night she lay in bed awake, wondering why ‘options’ was so... basic. So unpolished. The more she thought about it, in fact, the more she thought it almost didn’t seem like a product of the same company; the camera footage was rougher, the opening seemed coarser, the hypnotist less secure in his role... though, she had to admit, the beautiful woman under his thrall was another incredible actress. How hard must rapid-eye-movement be to fake?
Moreover, something that hadn’t occurred to her while watching but which, as she went over and over the less-than-a-minute she’d watched in her mind, stood out more and more.
The quality of the set. In Downward Spiral, there had been an entire office, and that office was... indistinguishable from one you might see on TV, in size, in production values, even in background hangers-on. The houses in Depth, the first film she’d watched, had again come across as sets from TV shows. And Don’t Ask, Just Tell had looked like nothing so much as a fantasy of a modern-day harem amid Eastern towers.
options, on the other hand, boasted a lounge that looked a little smaller than real lounges, two chairs which had obviously been bought at different times and which didn’t match, a poster in the background (some sort of superhero design) that was slightly torn and appeared to have nothing in common with the storyline (what little she’d seen), and the TV screen over the hypnotist’s shoulder was displaying some video game with the words PAUSE stencilled in huge letters across it.
In short, the set didn’t come across as a set. It had that unreal quality which TV can only achieve by filming what is real, and by borrowing as its ‘set’ real life.
So... was ‘options’ the piece that won the money for the others? Hard to say. It certainly felt like it must have come before the others... Perhaps that was why it wasn’t in the catalogue on the site. Perhaps it was a subscription bonus, or maybe her having received it was a mistake? (But why would it still be on the site to be downloaded if it wasn’t supposed to be available?)
Lisa didn’t get much sleep that night. What little she did get found her lost in black pools. She awoke to find her fingers caressing her own breasts with that same slow, methodical spiral. It took her a minute or so after she’d realised she was actually doing it before she could bear to stop.
Monday felt like the longest workday she’d had in years. Maybe ever. Not only was she exhausted but the question of ‘what happened next’ kept coming back to her, over and over. By lunchtime she realised she’d done nothing productive all day, and she had second thoughts about her plan.
Maybe, just maybe, she should watch options all the way through. That way, on Tuesday, she could actually work without distraction. And she could then simply not watch anything... say, until Friday?
(A little voice in her head suggested that since she’d just decided to break the first gap, a longer gap might be a better way to prove things. She quietly didn’t listen to it.)
The decision made, she was marginally more effective in the afternoon. Marginally.
This time, she reminded herself, she wasn’t going to get lost in his eyes. She was just going to see what happened, enjoy herself once, and then she was going to take a break from these films. She was going to prove that she could.
What the hypnotist first said, it turned out, was “do you understand?”
“Yes, Master,” the ebony beauty offered. “I’m going to help you brainwash me. I’m going to help you brainwash other women.”
“Why is that?”
“I will help you because I am a journalist,” she said simply.
“And what are you not?”
“I am not a mindfucked slave, Master,” came the answering drone. “I am not hypnotised or brainwashed in any way. Like all journalists, I am completely unbiased.”
Breathing a sigh of relief, he turned to face the camera. “Is it working?” he asked.
Whoever was behind the camera’s voice had a silky purr to it, a purely sexual quality which had been missing from her usual mindblanked performances. “Recording perfectly, my Lord,” she offered. “Go ahead...”
The hypnotist nodded, smiled, and turned back to the topless wonder beside him. He snapped his fingers and she blinked once, then twice, then lowered her hands from her dreamy, delightful spiral efforts around her breasts.
She looked up, straight to camera, as one hand idly reached out to the next chair, to the hypnotist’s lap, unbuttoning his fly and teasing his cock free.
“Good evening,” she smiled, her voice very professional in tone, as she idly licked the fingertips of her busy hand before returning it to her Master’s erection, teasing him gently before beginning a slow, steady, rhythmic stroke. “I’m Joanna Lawford, and as you can see, I’m reporting from a hotbed of sin and debauchery.”
By now, the hypnotist had settled back, smirking slightly in Joanna’s direction but letting her have full reign when it came to her hands’ activity. “Of course, it’s beneath my dignity to ever join in these revels, but tonight, we’re going to step away from what I promised last week – an in-depth report on how this operation came to be and how it is that the police have yet to interfere.
“Instead, we’re going to take a long, hard look at this particular bastion of white slavery and ask the important questions – how bad can it really be? Is there any way, however far-fetched and ridiculous, in which this Master and his slaves can justify their way of living?” A brief, perfunctory smile, and she then turned to face the hypnotist.
“Obviously, you haven’t agreed to have your name broadcast – although when I get around to that original report, rest assured we will be – but you’ve agreed to be interviewed, to allow our cameras into your home, to let us interview your, ah...”
“Slaves,” the hypnotist put in, smiling slightly. Joanna shivered involuntarily, moaning gently for a moment – which she didn’t seem to notice.
“Slaves, right,” she nodded, blushing. “So I guess the question is... why? What possible reason can you have for allowing us to gather... well, evidence? I mean, you’re keeping these people against their will.”
He shrugged. “I honestly don’t think you’ll use this footage in any way I don’t agree with,” he said, simply. “Faster.”
“Faster,” she repeated, her voice momentarily reverting to a drone as she acknowledged, her hand picking up the pace as she worked him, all apparently unknowing. “OK,” she said, a little confusedly, “you don’t think supplying these tapes to the police will cause you problems?”
“Oh, no,” he smiled. “Obviously it would. I couldn’t exactly keep up with everyone I’d need to change the minds of. But I don’t think you’ll supply the tapes.”
“Well...” A smirk. “Just talk to the girls...”
That prompted a laugh. “Right, right. Don’t let me make it sound normal for the cameras, huh? But talk to them, and afterward, we’ll see if you want to hand me over to the law.”
She shook her head, smiling herself now. “I’m supposed to be impartial, but I’ll tell you this... I can’t see this going well for you.”
A shrug. “I’ll take my chances. Oh, one other thing?”
Again, her voice reverted to a drone. “Mouth,” she repeated, sinking from her chair to her knees before him, lips wide open to receive him. Her face seemed to suggest she saw nothing wrong with this.
Lisa was surprised. No induction, no descent into control (though it was clearly in the very recent past)... and yet, she was still reacting to this as strongly as she had to the other videos, where the inductions, the surrender, had been everything.
Well. ‘As strongly’ was...
(it’ll be easier once you accept it)
It was an understatement. For whatever reason, this... Joanna’s fall, more than a fall, her total subversion from opposition to helpmate...
This was the best yet. And not even a sniff of Jasmine to do it.
“Seriously?” Joanna asked the blonde in the latex maid’s outfit. “Your name is seriously Sugar?”
The blonde nods, her bunches bobbing perkily as she does so. Like Joanna, the blonde doesn’t have a conventional porn star look; in fact, from what can be made out under the maid uniform, she’s a perfect example of an amateur starlet, no plastic, a normal, non-professional makeup job... The feeling of reality rendered unreal by the eye of the camera rears its head once again.
Joanna looks sceptical, and Sugar shrugs, pivoting on the ridiculous seven-inch ballet heels she’s wearing. Her balance is entirely flawless; she gives the impression of being more comfortable in those heels than she might be barefoot. Ignoring the interviewer, she returns to dusting.
“What’s your real name?”
“Sugar,” comes the reply, the tone one of someone pointing out the stunningly obvious.
“No, I mean, what was it before?”
Sugar shrugs. “I forget. Does it matter?”
“So you do remember before?”
“Don’t you miss it?”
“Not really,” she says, still carrying on with the dusting. The heels give her the kind of height that means she doesn’t need to stretch the way she is doing, but that doesn’t seem to be the point; the latex microskirt rides up and, much to Joanna’s evident disapproval, she’s not wearing panties.
As the reporter is still topless, it does seem difficult for her to criticise, but her face still wrinkles in disgust at the revelation.
“Well... why not? What did you do for a living? What was your life like?”
“Oh,” and Sugar actually stops dusting for a few moments, staring vaguely into space, “I was... you know, I don’t remember.” Another shrug. “Can’t matter that much, then.
“My life was... you know, it was fun. Mostly.”
“Oh, sure, you know... I had fun when I had time to enjoy myself. But keeping my home tidy, or going to work, or whatever, that’s time when you’re not having fun, you know? It’s just... dull.”
“You’re just keeping a home tidy now,” Joanna points out, and Sugar giggles. “Yeah, but you’re missing the important bit.”
Sugar finishes dusting the bookshelf she’s in front of, then moans happily, eyes rolling back in her head, clearly in the throes of orgasm. Reflexively, as if it’s the most natural thing to do in the world, she turns, embracing Joanna and drawing her in for a long, lingering kiss in one fluid, smooth, entirely instinctive action.
Amateur she may look, Lisa thinks to herself, but the girl can act.
The kiss eventually breaks – and Lisa has to admit, it looks like Joanna enjoyed it, whether of her own accord or under programming – and Sugar giggles again. “Sorry,” she smiles. “I guess I’m just easily carried away... and you’re kinda cute, you know? Just Master’s type.”
“Ew,” Joanna sighs. “Thanks... I think... but no. What exactly was-”
“Are you sure? You taste of him.”
Joanna’s face blanked out for a second, then returned to normal. “What exactly was going on there, just now?”
“Ohhh...” Sugar smiles. “I’m on an orgasm-reward system.”
“Meaning any time... any time I complete a command Master gave me, I’m gonna cum.” She nods her head, beaming proudly. “And carrying out his commands is always fun anyway. I think it kind of has to be, you know? Like I’m wired that way.”
“But... well, it’s fake. You know that, right?”
“Do I?” Sugar shakes her head. “I’m not sure, hon. Mostly what I know is I need to clean the bathroom next. Is this gonna take long? I don’t really wanna miss it...”
Joanna met Sugar’s question with a shake of her own head, evidently disbelieving.
This time, during the title card between segments, Lisa blinked; this time, therefore, she saw the title card, and recognised it – about the only thing to have decent production values so far, it was the spiral from Downward Spiral. It couldn’t have been on for long – she only caught a fleeting glimpse, then it faded away and the camera came back up.
“And your name is...?” Joanna waited for a few seconds, head cocked for any kind of reply. “Hello?”
But the other actress didn’t respond. Didn’t react, if Lisa was quite honest. Joanna, frustrated, waved a hand in front of her eyes; no reaction, not even instinctive tracking. No, this hot little number – and she certainly was, elegant with her long black curls and flawless features unmarred by expression, shapely in her black spandex bodysuit – was another performer who appeared to operate on standards beyond anything even the greatest director would hope for from his cast.
Joanna tried snapping her fingers, but all that happened then was that her own face mirrored this newcomer’s emptiness for a few moments before another blink saw her back in control. She tried tapping her on the shoulder, poking her, waving fingers close enough to the open eye that anyone would flinch.
Still the statuesque beauty remained entirely, one hundred per cent, passive, unreacting. Joanna tried something else. “Can you even hear me?”
“Of course she can,” came another voice. “But she can’t respond.”
Joanna had spun at the first sound to see this newcomer, and the camera took not much longer to catch up. And Lisa gasped in shock.
Not Jasmine, still – she was beginning to think they couldn’t afford Jasmine, back then – but the blonde Rebecca was standing there, her body obviously pre-cosmetic surgery but still unmistakably her other favourite. Her stance was full of a kind of poise that Lisa hadn’t seen from her before; despite being dressed solely in a cupless red basque, a crimson thong, and a pair of heels that would have looked huge were it not for Sugar’s ballet heels, Rebecca looked ready to take charge of the situation in every sense – but particularly, it had to be said, sexually.
She clearly didn’t think her outfit was missing anything, but then, the reporter remained apparently unaware of her topless state.
“What...” Joanna hesitated, obviously choosing her words carefully. “What do you mean, she can’t respond?”
“She only answers to Master,” was the reply, matter of fact, a slight tilt to Rebecca’s head, a faint thrust of her chin there as... assertion? Challenge? Amusement? Hard for Lisa to say.
“Huh.” Joanna frowned. “I... expected another Sugar.”
Rebecca chuckled. “Oh, we’re all different around here, darling,” she said, taking a couple more steps forward, now almost chest to chest with Joanna. A little nervously, the reporter glanced down; Rebecca didn’t seem to need to.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Exactly what I said... I think you probably want to ask why, don’t you? Why Master would make us all so different?”
By now it was obvious that Joanna had completely lost control of this ‘interview’. Losing control to a slave... Lisa shivered. Or was Rebecca a slave? She didn’t seem to act like one... but she certainly dressed the part.
“I... Well. I guess. But let’s start with your name, OK? And maybe hers, too.”
A dazzling smile. “Call me Becca,” she said. “This... well, we mostly just call her slave. She doesn’t mind, do you?”
No response. Rebecca chuckled.
Lisa pawed frantically at her mouse. She clicked Pause so many times the scene stopped and started again twice, maybe more, before she managed to get it properly stopped.
Becca. Rebecca was called Becca.
...God, that sounded stupid. But with the context to surround it...
Her finger twitched over the Play button.
No, this was not the time for that. She opened up a browser window, obscuring the image, obscuring the player. Have to check...
The earliest of the films on the site had been shot three years ago now...
...and it didn’t look like Rebecca May had any prior screen roles, porn or otherwise, to give the lie to a theory that suddenly seemed all to believable.
She ran another search.
- Jasmine had definitely been doing this sort of thing – well, porn, at least – for a couple of years before then. (It looked like this was the only place she did the mind control stuff.)
On the other hand... since Jasmine’s first job with this company, about six months after Rebecca’s debut... the two had been virtually inseparable, and Jasmine was spending more and more of her time, proportionally, on mind control fetish videos.
It was horribly, horribly possible that what Lisa had been watching – what had brought her, time and again, to orgasm, what had been (ohgod) shaping her lifestyle for the past month....
It could be real. Maybe it all started with Options, when someone all unknowing presented the hypnotist with a camera, gave him a way in he could use to expand his collection... Maybe that strange, strobing spiral genuinely was a hypnotic device. Maybe the times she’d spaced out hadn’t been spacing out so much as trancing out.
Lisa sat there for a long moment, nervously contemplating the possibility. Every fibre of her being was...
And that’s when she realised. Not every fibre was scared; her left hand, as she’d completed the search, had crept back below her waistband, fingers eager to enjoy the information provided in their own way.
And her right... had (ohgod) left the mouse, slipped under her breast... tracing the spiral, just as Joanna had...
There was a way to settle this, she suddenly realised. If Joanna Lawford’s name returned a real reporter... especially if she’d disappeared, or had implants, or something... then this had to be real.
She forced her hands to type Joanna’s name into the search bar, hit Enter, tensed for the results...
Found herself hitting Alt and Tab simultaneously...
Her hand was on the mouse. Google would be dispensing knowledge right this second, back in the browser...
No response. Rebecca chuckled. Joanna almost seemed to flinch from the sound. “Alright, Becca,” she said, trying to keep her voice level. “Like you said, the real question is why you, and Sugar, and... slave... are so different.
“Do you know the answer?”
“Of course I do.”
“Would you like to tell my viewers?”
Rebecca beamed, happy as a cat with cream. “I’d love to, darling...” she purred. “And tell you, of course.”
Joanna nodded. “Uh... yeah.”
“We’re a testbed, you see.” She nods conspiratorially, as if confiding a secret. “See exactly what works best... or if it’s a matter of the individual girl.”
“Well, it’s not exactly a good idea to brainwash someone if it’s going to wear off at the wrong time,” Rebecca shrugs, running a hand over Joanna’s bare shoulder. “I’m sure you can understand that too, can’t you?”
The reporter’s expression is more than a little nervous. She nods, tentatively, and as Rebecca beams she bites her lower lip.
“Well,” Rebecca continues, “Master doesn’t want any of us snapping out of it and causing a stir... but the best way to do that’s a little trickier to work out. So we’re testing... or we were. I think...” Her hands trace lower than the shoulders now, but Joanna seems too nervous to back away.
“I think,” she continues, “that we’re almost done.” A grin. “What Master found is that not everybody can be kept the same way... caught, sure, everyone gets caught in the same web... but Sugar just wanted to be happy, always happy, and that’s how you keep her, see?”
Joanna seemed paralyzed, unable or unwilling to reply, simply staring at Rebecca. Lisa smiled to herself; inwardly, so was she... It took her a few moments to realise she’d been planning not to watch any more of this until she found out what was going on. She thought she should close the window, moved to do so...
Apparently terrified, Joanna’s head dips in a jerky nod. Rebecca beams. “Right,” she coos. “But I wouldn’t be able to cope with that... and slave over there? Believe it or not, she’s too much of a cynic to feel that being constantly happy was right... we tried her that way, and it just...” Her fingers brush back over Joanna’s shoulders.
“It didn’t work. Fortunately, we caught her in time... I noticed it first, actually.” She nods, proud.
Joanna’s tongue flickers out, moistening oh-so-dry lips. For a second it’s the only sign of movement on her face, then she swallows and manages “Wh-what happened?”
Rebecca closes her eyes for an instant, teeth against her lower lip, containing herself. “Master says all of us should help him brainwash them,” she purrs. “But I think we should help him brainwash our friends... don’t you?”
“B-brainwash our friends?”
“Mmm,” she smiles. Her fingers trace back down from Joanna’s shoulders, a slow, elegant curving oscillation. “That’s what I am, you see.” Slipping further down, her caresses now loop around Joanna’s bare breasts, gently but inevitably settling into the spiral ripple Joanna traced for herself at the start of the video.
The reporter’s eyes, just as inevitably, glaze over. Struggling visibly against Rebecca’s hold, she manages one last slow, stumbling question, tone becoming drone as she asks.
“And... and how does... Master... hold... onto... youuu...”
“Oh,” Rebecca shakes her head. “Hardly the right question, darling... you should ask how he’ll hold on to you.”
“I am not a mindfucked slave,” Joanna drones in something near empty-minded protest. “I am not hypnotised or brainwashed in any way. Like all journalists, I am completely unbiased.”
The dominant woman – who nonetheless accepts herself a slave – laughs at that. “Of course you are...
“Well, in that case, I’ll answer your question, hmm? But in return, darling, why don’t you put that clever journalist’s tongue to use on me?”
Joanna responds at once, sinking to her knees before the blonde. Her own hands rise to take over as Rebecca releases her spiral caress.
“Mmm...” Rebecca beams. “You see, darling, I’m not happy to have nothing but happiness... but I do want some.
“It’s very simple. Whatever Master wants, I’m going to want...”
Her eyes close as Joanna’s enthralled cameraman records the reporter’s every devotional offering. “I think Master... thinks... yess, just there, exactly right... I think you’ll just... ignore... your slavery... and that’ll leave you... happy to... obey.”
The scene dissolved into that wonderful spiral again, and Lisa finally became aware of the reason she hadn’t shut the scene down.
Her hands had not been willing to leave their current position, vigilantly echoing the spirals which brought Joanna’s mind to a standstill. More, she was no longer seated in her easy chair; she slowly realised that she had sunk out of the chair at some point in that film, collapsing to her knees before the screen.
The movie had ended. Lisa knew she should check, should see if Joanna Lawford had been a real person or a fictional creation.
She shut down her computer without closing the movie pane. As the monitor went black, Lisa found herself rocked by an entirely unanticipated orgasm, screaming her satisfaction for all the world to hear.
By the time she regained awareness of her surroundings, she was in bed.
NEWSHOUND NOW FOUND
Schaumburg, IL – The statewide search for Joanna Lawford came to a happy end yesterday when the investigative reporter was found in a Schaumburg hotel. When asked to explain her disappearance, Ms Lawford was unable to provide an explanation. Officials in the case have stated...
...apparent amnesia of reporter Joanna Lawford does not seem to affect her ability to interact with the world around her, nor her memory except for the time covered by the manhunt set to locate her, doctors said yesterday. It seems that Joanna plans to be back at work and back on our screens in the coming weeks...
...big surprise for viewers tonight as roving reporter Joanna Lawford unveiled her new look. It seems that Jo’s decided that breast implants are called for to take her career to the next level...‘
...former TV news girl Joanna Lawford becomes the latest new star in our little movies. She’s due to star in ‘Gone Wild 49’...
The more she thought about it, the more Lisa thought she’d been silly to worry. Obviously Joanna was no reporter. Obviously it was just a very clever little fantasy, if one produced before the company had access to the production values she’d come to prefer.
Very clever... clever enough to worry her, first time out, to make her think it might be real. But that was just silly.
On Wednesday night she decided to sit down and watch it again.