Alice blinked awake and her room quickly came back into focus. Erin was standing beside her, completely naked, staring intensely at the phone in her hands. Her breaths were deep and slow, and she stood with a robotic stillness that Alice found immediately unsettling.
She turned her attention to the bed and saw Tiffany sitting on it, fully clothed and crossed legged, holding her own phone and typing away with determination. She didn’t even look up at Alice, such was her focus.
“Hey, Alice,” Erin said in a dull, emotionless tone. “It’s Tiff. I’m having Erin speak for me while my throat is still out of action.”
Alice looked back at Erin, her cheeks flushing bright red as her eyes scanned Erin’s surprisingly lithe body and large breasts. Erin had always worn baggy clothing, so Alice had never imagined what was under there. What she didn’t understand was why she suddenly found her naked friend so incredibly sexy. Her mind was flooded with urges and ideas of exploring Erin’s body, of running her hands all over the smooth curves and kissing those full inviting lips…
She shook her head, suppressing the urges, the thoughts, the whispers in her brain that had been trying to seduce her for days now. Tiffany and Erin, how hot would it be to strip naked for them and beg them to fuck her?
No! Suppress! She could still keep control, though it felt like her time was running out. She shivered all over before turning back to Tiffany. Her voice caught in her throat. “Ti- Tiff?”
Tiff looked up for a brief moment, with a sparkle in her eyes and a slight curl on her lips, then returned to typing into her phone. “Hey, Alice,” Erin intoned shortly after. “Glad you could join us.”
Alice’s voice was shaky. “Tiff, what’s going on? Why is Erin naked?” Then sudden realisation dawned on her. “You put me in trance! Oh my god, what did you do to me!?”
“Stay calm,” Erin said as Tiffany typed determinedly on her phone. “I’m going to explain everything.”
Somehow, the rising panic in Alice instantly subsided. Staying calm so that Tiffany could explain herself didn’t seem too unreasonable. She took a deep breath. “Okay, so explain it.”
Tiffany looked up from her phone for a moment to smile gratefully at Alice. Such a simple thing sent a shockwave of simultaneous fear and excitement through the blonde. Why should she be scared or excited? It was a strange thrill, and she found herself unable to look anywhere else but at Tiffany.
“First of all, Erin put you in trance, not me,” Erin said, her voice devoid of all expression. “It was naughty of her, and she was even more naughty after. Don’t worry though, she will be disciplined in good time.”
“I… Okay…” Alice frowned, still switching her gaze between Erin and Tiffany. The way they were both staring entirely into their phones was particularly unsettling, but Alice was still able to stay calm despite herself. “I think I remember what she said just now… Just before my head went all fuzzy… Alice down the rabbit hole?”
“Yes, that’s Erin’s trigger for you. She has one for me as well, but I don’t know what it is.”
“Okay.” Alice murmured, rubbing her temples. To feel so mindless by having mere words spoken to you was unsettling to say the least. She examined Tiffany with a nervous curiosity as the honey skinned girl continued to type away on her phone.
“Secondly, a lot has happened these past few days, so we need to talk.”
“Yeah, okay.” Alice folded her arms. “Me first. I’m finding this weird and it’s making me uncomfortable.”
Tiffany looked up from her phone again with an anxious frown and mouthed the word sorry before typing furiously into her phone once more.
“Which part is weird?” Erin read from her screen. “Or just all of it?”
“All of it, really,” Alice explained even as she shifted uncomfortably. “I mean, you’re both staring at your phones, Erin looks like a robot, and she’s naked. Why is she naked?”
There was a pause as Tiffany typed before Erin spoke again. “Alice, thinking about everything that has happened since you and Trev discovered the Algorithm, surely you can see that this isn’t that weird. Erin being naked maybe, but I’m just using her to speak for me. If I could speak for myself, I promise you she’d be a chicken right now instead of being my voice.”
Alice considered this. Her stripper personality, Erin’s excessive time spent as a chicken, Josh and Trev’s bizarre behaviour from the bottle game… So much had changed since the day they discovered the Algorithm, it almost made Alice’s head spin. Lucy trancing Tiff, Tiff trancing Lucy and controlling Erin...
“Okay, so maybe it’s not so weird, and it sucks that Dillon did that to you.” Alice motioned to Tiffany’s bruised neck, though she found that she couldn’t bring herself to look at it. “He’s not normally like that, I swear. He’s actually really caring when you get to know him and—”
“Stop defending him,” Erin said in her blank tone, but Alice then looked to see Tiffany glaring at her from the bed.
“Just stop it,” Erin repeated. “And tell me honestly what kind of guy he is.”
Alice felt her throat dry up, a large lump of emotions getting lodged there and threatening to choke her. Without thinking, she started to spill everything.
“Okay, he’s hit me before too. He’s only ever done that when on drugs or drunk, but I know he thinks that it should be okay anyway, like when I’m with him he owns me. Every time he gives me a hit, he makes me pay for it with my body and then tells me I owe him for it. He says he loves me, and in those moments I believe him, but later I see it for the lie it is. He thinks I’m hot, he wants to fuck me all the time, but he doesn’t love me, and he doesn’t respect me. He’s the kind of guy that thinks he’s smarter and better than everyone else, who would sell out his friends and kill his enemies if he was brave enough to try. Honestly, he’s a scared little boy whose parents ignored him growing up, he doesn’t know what love is and he doesn’t even like himself.”
A few tears dropped down Alice’s face now. She wiped her eyes and saw that Tiffany was crying too, her electric blue eyes all red and puffy. She quickly typed something else into her phone.
“So why be with him in the first place? You can do better, you deserve better,” Erin relayed.
Alice sobbed, but her voice stayed steady through the sniffs. “Because I feel sorry for him. Because I want to be the woman in his life who can love him for who he is. Because I want to fix him…”
“But you can’t.”
“I know.” Alice slowly sank to the floor, a heap of tears and snot. “He brings out the worst in me, and the way he makes me feel, I go so high then so low, I barely know who I am anymore.”
Tiffany climbed off the bed now and sank to her knees, wrapping her arms tightly around the crying blonde. Alice buried her head into Tiffany’s shoulder and let her pain flood out of her. She had never dropped all her excuses and pretences like that before. The truth had stung her as she said it, but now that it had been released, she felt strangely lighter, like it no longer sat like a stone in her stomach.
Tiffany whispered into Alice’s ear, her voice still strained and hoarse. “I’m sorry. I want to make it all better.”
“Don’t, Tiff.” Alice shook her head and pulled away to look Tiff in the eyes. “Don’t try and speak, you sound awful…”
Tiffany tried to stifle a laugh and ended up coughing for over a minute.
“Seriously, Tiff, you need to rest!” Alice insisted, and started nudging and shuffling Tiffany back onto her bed. “What is it you say to me? Sleep, Alice, sleep, right? So Sleep, Tiff, sleep!”
Tiffany chuckled as she grabbed her phone and started to frantically type again.
“Soon,” Erin said moments later. “I’ll rest soon. We need to sort this all out first.”
“What is there to sort out, Tiff? Yes, I was being stupid running off to Dillon, but it doesn’t make everything you’ve done okay. I mean, what is going on between you and Erin anyway? The other day you two seemed to be at each other’s throats, and now? Now I’m just confused.”
Tiffany looked up at Alice with a thinking expression, clearly trying to decide upon something. After a few moments of Alice looking at her quizzically, she shrugged and typed into her phone once more.
“Okay. I’ll be honest.” Tiffany heaved a deep sigh, gathering the courage to reveal everything to Alice before she plugged away at her phone once more.
“Erin is my slave now. It’s something we both wanted, and something we’re both really enjoying so far.”
Alice looked astonished, glancing between the blank, naked Erin and the quiet and rather normal looking Tiffany. This, she had not expected. Lovers, yes. Girlfriend’s in an official couple sense? Maybe. Erin a slave though? She felt utterly speechless, so she simply waited for Tiffany to continue.
“I mean, that’s pretty much the long and short of it,” Erin added. “It took us a bit of clashing and messing with each other before we both realised what we really wanted.”
Alice put her hands over her mouth and blinked rapidly in succession. The relatively mild mannered bookworm Tiffany now had the brash and loud tomboy Erin as her slave? No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t make this information align with what she knew about her two friends. She wouldn’t have been as surprised if it had been the other way around, but it still wouldn’t have been a revelation she would have taken in stride.
“You probably have questions,” Erin intoned. “Go ahead and ask.”
Alice faltered as her infinite questions tumbled over each other to be the first out. “I just… How did… When did you- how, what? Just, how? Why? I’m sorry, I don’t—“
Tiffany typed more into her phone, then Erin cut in with her monotone voice. “Take a deep breath. Breathe. Take a moment and think about the question that really matters to you.”
Alice found herself regaining her focus almost immediately after she followed the instructions. The deep breathing grounded her, and her thoughts fell back into place. The first question she already knew the answer to, but she had to ask.
“This is all due to the Algorithm, isn’t it?”
“Of course.” Tiffany looked up at Alice with curiosity before continuing to type. “I guess it’s brought certain feelings to the surface that were pretty hidden before. But I’ve not been programmed to be this way, if that’s what you mean. This was always in me. Same for Erin, really.”
“But you’ve both been in trance with it now. How do you know it hasn’t changed you into someone completely different…” Alice trailed off, looking down at herself. How different had her own behaviour been since she first went into a trance under the disarming beats and swirling lights of the Algorithm? Was she programmed to be different and not notice? Was she exactly the same and just freaking out at the idea of being made to be different? Could she even trust her own thoughts anymore?
Tiffany shrugged. “I guess I just know,” Erin spoke for her. “Maybe I have been changed, but I don’t dislike who or what I am right now, and I don’t think the thoughts I’m having are any different from normal. If anything, the struggle I face is that I’m not repressing my thoughts as much as I used to. But I can change you back, Alice. I can instruct you to become exactly who you were before you ever looked at the Algorithm.”
“No!” Alice said abruptly. She frowned, taken aback at herself. “Wait… I don’t? I guess I don’t.”
“Take your time,” Erin intoned. “Let yourself figure out what you really want. I want to help you, Alice”
Alice furrowed her brow, and then flopped onto the bed next to Tiffany, lying back and staring distantly at the ceiling.
“If I have you put me back to how I was, then all the pain and confusion and really shitty choices I’ve made over the last few days will mean nothing. I don’t think I’m okay with that… But you could make it that I could be okay with it, couldn’t you?”
Tiffany glanced down at Alice for a moment, looking at her with longing. She nodded slightly before returning to type on her phone.
“Yes,” Erin said. “I can.”
“You could do anything to me, literally change my mind about anything, couldn’t you?”
“Then why haven’t you, Tiff?” Alice asked, looking up at Tiffany’s face with confused curiosity. “Why not just make me as you want me? Wouldn’t it be simpler? Why not make me happy to be like Erin? Why talk to me at all, why not just make me…” She swallowed hard before she could utter her next words. “Your slave?”
Tiffany exhaled a deep, harrowed breath as she drank in Alice’s features. She shook her head slightly and gazed into Alice’s eyes. Alice could only wonder what was going through Tiffany’s mind in that moment. She looked tired, exhausted even, with large bags under her sky blue eyes and her raven hair tangled and frizzy in places. She was still beautiful, but she needed rest.
Eventually, Tiffany broke eye contact and returned to her phone. “It took me everything I had not to change you. Erin wanted me to, and she almost managed to force me to do it. But I wanted it anyway. I wanted to make you my slave so badly, but I knew it’d be wrong. Erin wanted to be my slave, I could tell. It felt right doing it to her, and I wanted to.
“But with you I feel so conflicted. I’ve always admired how much of a free spirit you are, Alice. It’s one of the things that made me fall in love with you. I just don’t think I can take that away. I know that I love you as you are, and if I hypothetically changed you so that you’d be with me, would I have erased the person I fell in love with in the process?”
“Tiff…” Alice gently took one of Tiffany’s hands in her own. “I did know you had feelings for me, and I’m sorry I never said anything. I guess I never knew what I would have said. The truth is, I just don’t feel that way about you, and I can’t. Not unless you change me, and if that’s what you do, we both know I won’t really be myself... I can already feel the changes, you know. You or Erin or whoever have already put thoughts in my head that aren’t mine, and I feel like you’re erasing who I am.” Alice grimaced as she spoke those words, knowing how much they would sting Tiffany. She wanted to apologise, to take it all back, to tell her that it didn’t matter that her newfound attraction was literally planted in her mind, that all that mattered was that she wanted to give into her urges and taste Tiffany’s inviting lips...
Thoughts like those has been like a virus in her mind, growing and spreading over the last few days. First, she tried to run away from them, then she tried to drown them out. But they would not and could not be denied, so all she had left was trying to stop them from taking over. It was a losing battle, Alice knew. Soon her lust for Tiffany and Erin and her desire to feel the full effect of succumbing to the Algorithm’s influence would make nothing else matter. She felt like she was barely holding on.
Tiffany’s eyes glistened, but she clenched her jaw and withdrew her hand from Alice’s so she could type into her phone once more. It was a few moments before Erin spoke, and in the silence, Alice watched Tiffany’s hurt expression with a heavy heart. Then Erin began once more. “All I did before I woke you up just now was make it so you wouldn’t run, you wouldn’t lie, and that you’d remain calm, because this stuff is weird and scary and I wanted you to be alright while we figure it all out.”
Alice raised an eyebrow. “Figure what all out, Tiff?” She watched with a growing nervousness in her chest as Tiffany continued to type.
“I know you don’t want me to take your choice away, but I just can’t let you have complete autonomy, at least for the next few days. Not after what’s happened…”
“Wait, what?” Alice started to protest, before Erin spoke again, interrupting her.
“Tell me, are you craving right now?”
“Well, yeah… but—”
“And being honest, if the cravings get stronger, do you think you might run back to Dillon or look for a hit elsewhere in the next few days?”
Alice shuffled away from Tiffany now, sitting up on the bed and curling up so her chin rested on her knees. “I dunno, maybe. I’m going cold turkey, I’m going to do my best but fuck, Tiff, I’m not perfect!”
“I know, I know. That’s why I want to help, that’s why I want to put some things in place to help you through it all.”
“No,” Alice replied calmly but bluntly. “Tiff, I know you’re looking out for me, but no. No putting any more thoughts or ideas in my head. Enough…”
For the first time since Alice had emerged from her slumber, Tiffany seemed to be at a loss for words. She looked at Alice like she didn’t know what to make of her. Eventually, she typed something for Erin to announce.
“I’m trying to help you.”
“I know you are, Tiff, but how I want you to help is by being my friend, helping me through this without mindfucking me. It’s… it just isn’t right.”
“I can make it just so you don’t run away again. That’s all I’ll change.”
“Tiff, sometimes I fucking run away! Okay? It’s my way of coping, and yes, I wish I had better methods, but that’s who I am. I’m pretty sure I’d have normally wanted to leave this room to be away from you by now, but you’ve made it so I can’t, you’ve made it so I can’t behave like myself!”
“You can change who you are and still stay you.”
“Yeah, but not by being brainwashed into it, Tiff. Not by having a machine scramble your thoughts and have new ones dropped in.”
Tiffany growled in frustration as she gave Alice a brief glare. She returned to her phone with aggravated determination, and Erin soon spoke again in her dull monotone.
“Living life scrambles your thoughts, experiences drop new ones in. It’s just a different way, it’s not a bad thing. Please listen, try to understand.”
“I think I do understand, Tiff. The Algorithm gives you the power to control people that you never could otherwise, and it’s now your solution for everything. And as much as I’m terrified of what it might do to me, more than ever I still want to develop it, I want to find out what it can really do…”
Alice then threw herself off of the bed and started pacing her room restlessly. “I want to know if it can turn me into a lesbian slave, I want to know if it can make me never crave drugs or alcohol again. I want to know if it can let me feel the high I get from crack without feeling the comedown after, and without being addictive. I want to know if it can take every last thing I don’t like about myself and make me either change it or stop caring about it.” She ran her hands through her hair in frustrated excitement.
“I want to run experiments to see if we can alter entire personalities, erase or create memories, brainwash someone into renouncing everything they hold dear in life! What if we could make a rapist jump off a bridge?! What if we could make a schizophrenic think clearly for the first time in years?! What if we could make corrupt politicians spill all their dirty secrets?! We could do anything! We could change the fucking world!”
Tiffany watched in fascination as Alice shook her herself down frantically from head to toe then dropped to her knees before Tiffany. She looked up pleadingly and continued talking in a distressed whisper.
“Don’t you see how terrible that would be? And if we could do all that, I’d still want to do more, trying to find a limit that can’t be found. The Algorithm is dangerous, Tiff. I can’t stop thinking about it. Every moment I was getting shitfaced at Dillon’s, it was always on my mind; when I was high, when I was low, I couldn’t escape it! I feel like it’s already warped me, to the point that I don’t think I could delete it even if I had a big red button in front of me. It’s why I’ve been trying to fight all these urges and ignore the thoughts, because if I don’t I know they’ll control me and that’s fucking terrifying.”
Tiffany frowned as she typed. “It’s not dangerous if we’re careful with it,” Erin said. “We shouldn’t delete it, we just need to practise restraint.”
“If we can…” Alice muttered. “Not gonna lie, Tiff, being next to Erin while she’s naked as you literally use her as a text-to-speech app doesn’t cry out restraint to me.”
Tiffany ran her hand over her face and cringed before typing her reply.
“You’re right. I don’t know what I was thinking at the time. I think I need to sleep, I just wanted to talk to you first. I wanted to help you, to see if you wanted my help.”
“I do want your help, Tiff. And don’t get me wrong, a part of me really wants you to control me and make me okay with it all. Honestly, that feels like the easier way out… But another part of me still knows who I truly am, and that part knows that I wouldn’t really be this keen to complete the Algorithm, and it also knows that my attraction to you and Erin is fake. Sure, it feels real, but that’s no longer enough to know that it is.”
A strained silence hung between them, punctuated by the muffled sound of an angry car horn coming from the city streets outside.
Eventually, Tiffany typed something else. “So what do you want to do?” Erin spoke shortly after.
Alice ran her hands over her own face now. She could feel the fatigue gnawing at her nerves as well, and she was also beset by the crushing feeling of anxiety that was her constant companion for days whenever she came down from getting high.
She placed her clasped hands into Tiffany’s lap. “It feels like you’re waiting for me to tell you that it’s okay to change me, to make me into however you want me to be, but I’m not going to. I also can’t stop you, I’m literally at your mercy. We both know what you want, Tiff, but I’m not going to make your choices for you.”
Tiffany nodded, her face awash with conflict and confusion. Alice noticed how much her breathing had increased and how much she was fidgeting. Alice looked up at her earnestly, shuddering before she continued talking.
“I’m exhausted, Tiff…” Alice admitted as her shoulders sagged and her head sank. “I’ve wanted to kiss you and touch you and ask you to do all manner of things to my mind since you woke me up. I want to feel Erin’s body all over before I strip and mirror her and ask you to make me like her, because it looks fucking hot. I can’t keep resisting these thoughts in my head anymore. It’s too much, I can’t handle them. But before I give into it, I need you to understand that I’ve spoken my piece while the real me can, and you know how I really feel. Everything from this point is the version of me that isn’t strong enough to hold on any longer.”
Sighing deeply, Alice slowly climbed onto the bed and leaned into Tiffany. Tiffany tensed as Alice gently brushed her dark hair out of her face. As the blonde leaned in to Tiffany’s ear, Alice’s voice dropped to a quiet whisper.
“You know this isn’t me. You know you could never be with me normally, but I want you so badly right now…”
Tiffany didn’t resist as Alice gently pushed her over so that they both sprawled out over the bed. Alice’s fingers ran gently over Tiffany’s clothing, and she started planting kisses on Tiffany’s cheek.
“I can’t fight it anymore… I want to feel you, Tiff… I want you to get inside my head, make me yours. I wanted you to stop me before, save me, put me back to normal before it got too much.”
She ran her hands under Tiffany’s top, feeling her soft caramel skin and enjoying her shaky gasp.
“It’s been exhausting, Tiff… I give up... I don’t want that anymore.”
Alice drew back when she saw that Tiffany’s baby blue eyes were glossing up.
“Tiff, what’s wrong? Don’t you want this? Don’t you want me?”
Tiffany said nothing, she just stared into Alice’s eyes for a moment before bursting into tears.
Alice pulled her up into a hug. “Awww Tiff, aww c’mon, it’s okay… Really, it’s okay!”
Tiff cried into Alice’s top for what felt like forever. All Alice could think of then was of kissing and touching and exploring Tiffany’s body, unwrapping her from her clothing to reveal the promise inside. Having resisted such urges for days as they slowly grew stronger, actively surrendering to them felt like opening the floodgates on her suppressed desires.
Eventually, Tiffany spoke in her hoarse whisper. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
Alice sighed a mixture of sympathy and frustration. “Don’t be sorry, be happy, Tiff. This is what you wanted…” She shifted so that she was nose to nose with Tiffany. “This is what you wanted, right?”
“I… I...” Tiffany choked on her words.
“I mean, clearly if you wanted to stop me, you would have by now. So you’re what, feeling bad because you’re getting what you want?”
Tiffany looked up at Alice, guilt and confusion making her face a puffy mess. Alice shook her head and strained a smiled.
“Okay Tiff, look... I’m going to help you now, just a bit. I need you to think long and hard about what you want to happen here, because I don’t think you know right now, and that’s a problem. For what it’s worth, I’m tired, and I don’t care anymore. Do what you want with me, I’m just… I’m just nothing anyway.”
Alice took the phone out of Tiffany’s unresisting hand and quickly typed in something.
It took Tiffany a moment to catch up with Alice’s actions, and she jolted in surprise, snatching for the phone in a panic, but Alice dodged her attempts long enough to finish typing and hit send.
“Alice down the rabbit hole,” Erin said.
“Yeah, that,” Alice murmured as an irresistible wave of calm and relaxation washed over her. No longer resisting or even thinking about it anymore, she felt the phone pried out of her grip. She could then feel the thoughts evaporate from her head as a blanket of emptiness wrapped itself around her. The worries, the struggle, the heartache and the endless confusion dissolved into oblivion as she sank into trance, and if she could have, she would have smiled as the nothingness engulfed her mind.