Erin’s head jerked slightly as all her faculties returned to her. It was almost like someone pressed the on switch on her back to change her from lifeless robot Erin to emotion filled human Erin. She instantly pouted up at Tiffany.
“Tiff…!” she complained, elongating the syllable like a whining child. “You still haven’t explained what’s actually happening! Or has happened! I’m seriously so confused right now! And you’re topless still, and you were naked a second ago, and I think my head hurts…”
“Read this.” Tiffany instructed stiffly, thrusting the note into Erin’s hands.
“Urgh! Fine…” she grumbled. Her expression soon turned from annoyed to shocked, and then to completely furious. She turned sharply towards the chair.
“You bitch!” she hissed at Lucy. “Oh… Oh we’re going to fuck you up real bad now, you—“. She jumped to her feet and looked like she was going to slap the mindless and defenceless girl.
“Erin, wait!” Tiffany ordered sharply. Despite the anger that she was also filled with, it just felt wrong to let physical harm come to the girl who sat deathly still. She was just sitting there, helplessly entranced by the lights on the screen and the repeating signals pulsing through the headphones. Tiffany felt a strong urge to hurt Lucy too in that moment, but she pushed the feeling aside.
“What? Seriously Tiff?” Erin looked back at Tiffany incredulously. “You show me this and then expect me to show any kind of restraint? Trev is our friend!”
“Yes…” Tiffany sighed, fixing her bra and grabbing her t-shirt. “And that’s why we’re going to show this to him and let him decide what to do.”
“Oh, c’mon Tiff!” Erin protested bitterly, her fists clenched. “He’s a fucking teddy bear with gumdrop buttons when it comes to her! He won’t do anything! We can really make her pay… We can really—”
“Stop.” Tiffany held her hand up firmly, steely determination in her eyes. “You obey everything I say, remember?”
Erin’s eyes scrunched up now, a wave of obedience hammering into her mind. She flinched, and then gasped, and then straightened up, looking at Tiffany with nervous anticipation.
“You’re really doing this, Tiff... You’re taking control.” she said, eyes wide as if she simply didn’t believe it.
“I am.” Tiffany agreed with pursed lips and an unwavering stare. “Just like you would, if you had the chance. Hell, you almost did before I made you forget you wanted to.”
“What?! No!” Erin looked horrified. “Tiff, we had a truce, and I haven’t wanted to—”
“Remember everything I made you forget about wanting to enslave me.” Tiffany ordered firmly as she finished putting her top back on.
Erin blinked several times, then blushed, biting her tongue. Tiffany approached her and ran her hand under the tomboy’s chin, lifting her head so their eyes stared right into each other. Erin’s face was fully flushed now, and she reacted to Tiffany’s touch with a soft gasp.
“You always tell me the truth, remember?” Tiffany gently instructed with a teasing lilt in her voice. “Now tell me, were you going to break our truce if you saw a chance to control me?”
This time, Erin didn’t blink, or flinch, or react in any way aside from her eyes tearing up slightly. She tried to bow her head, but Tiffany’s hand stopper her. Her face bright scarlet now, she instead gulped and uttered, “Yes.”
Tiffany just stared into Erin’s dark brown eyes for a moment. They were pleading with her, filled with desperation. But for freedom, or for submission? Tiffany wasn’t sure, and there was too much to do to really get into it right now. She plucked the note out of Erin’s hand and moved towards where Lucy sat in the chair.
“Go and free Alice please, Erin.” she ordered politely. “I have a couple of things I’d like to tell Lucy before we get Trev...”
“Yeah, okay.” Erin nodded as she obediently went over to Alice, glancing back in curiosity as Tiffany leaned towards Lucy’s ear.
Tiffany could smell Lucy’s sweet perfume as she leaned over her. She wanted to whisper her next words to Lucy so neither Erin or Alice could hear. “Lucy, whenever I say “Sleep, Lucy, sleep” to you, you will instantly fall back into a trance as deep and mindless as you are now, understand?”
“Yes...” came the dull, monotonous reply from the petite girl’s ruby lips. Those lips were so inviting to Tiffany now, so bright and attention grabbing. Lucy looked so unbelievably hot as she sat there like a robot, so blank and thought free. Tiffany could run her hands over her, she could plant a kiss upon those soft lips, she could grab a tuft of her auburn hair and yank… She could do anything.
“Lucy, I’m about to show your boyfriend the note you wrote before you went into trance. If you were awake right now, how would that make you feel?”
“Terrified,” Lucy stated calmly. “And furious.”
“Good,” Tiffany whispered in satisfaction. Anger was bubbling up inside her, but she knew she had to control her temper, lest she do something truly horrific to the mesmerized, helpless girl.
“As it is, you’re not going to remember anything of this evening since you spun the bottle between the two of us. You will only remember it landing on you, and everything else will be completely fuzzy. Once we wake you up from this trance, you will simply remember having a great time, and you find that you really like us all now.” Tiffany furrowed her brow for a moment, before adding “By which I mean you now really like me, Erin, Alice, and Josh way more than you used to. I’m not going to alter your feelings about Trev, I’m going to let him do that once he reads your note. Do you understand all that?”
“Good.” Tiffany leaned away just in time to see Alice shuffle off the bed, helped by Erin. She already had both of her index fingers pressed against her nose, and was looking at Tiffany nervously.
“Alice! I’m so sorry you were stuck on the bed for so long!” Tiffany exclaimed, throwing her arms around her dramatically. Alice felt stiff under Tiffany’s arms, and she pulled away so much that Tiffany quickly pulled back herself, looking distraught.
“Sorry, Tiff, I can’t do hugs while having to keep my fingers on my nose...” Alice remarked coldly.
“Alice! I...” Tiffany stammered, “I didn’t mean to... I mean, I”
“Forget it Tiff, I know you didn’t mean to... It just wasn’t all pleasant... My head was spinning and I couldn’t make it stop.”
Before Tiffany could gush more apologies, Erin impatiently interrupted.
“Tiff! Focus! The note, remember?”
“Oh, right.” Tiff acknowledged dejectedly. She held up the note for Alice to read, adding “Lucy wrote this, she didn’t mean for anyone else to see it.”
“I know.” Alice said bluntly. “I saw. I may have been shitfaced, but I still took a lot in.”
“You did?!” Tiffany felt her already frantic heart leap into overdrive at this. She didn’t realize Alice was aware while she was artificially drunk and stoned on the bed! How much did she see? How much did she remember? She wanted to unleash a barrage of questions at Alice, but the blonde girl was busy finishing the note Lucy had written, and her eyes were now wide with shock.
“I don’t believe it!” Alice said shrilly. “She wouldn’t! I mean, she can’t have!”
“She did!” Erin scoffed. “And she was arrogant enough to write it down under our noses.”
“But why?” Alice asked, mystified. “I saw her write the thing down, but I couldn’t always hear everything being said, especially with Erin making chicken noises in my ear... Why write this?”
“She had me under her control using the algorithm,” Tiffany explained, blushing and looking away bashfully, “but she wanted to feel what it was like to go into the trance. So she wrote the note and told me to instruct her to forget writing it. I think it was her way of discovering just how well the program worked.”
“God, so many questions...” Alice muttered. “Honestly, guys, I’m starting to think this whole trance program thing is a bad idea, like we should just delete it and forget about it.”
Something about that sentence pulled at Tiffany. She was forgetting something, but she couldn’t figure out what. Everything bouncing around her head was getting to be a bit much now. She had Lucy in trance in the chair and Erin under her direct control. She had a phrase to drop Alice into a trance, and the same for Trev. The possibilities this allowed her made her dizzy, and the thought of just dropping Erin and Alice both into trance right then and there was like a siren song in her head that she fought actively to resist. This note that Lucy wrote was making that easier, however, and derailing every other thought she had.
Despite the extraordinary things the program could do, Trev was still her friend. Yes, she relished the idea that she could drop him into a trance where his mind would be malleable and compliant, but Tiffany, in all honesty, had no intentions of getting carried away with such power. Trev was her friend, and she needed to be there for him right now. Whatever it was she was forgetting, if anything, it clearly couldn’t be that important.
“I think you’re right,” Tiffany lied as she emerged from her thoughts, “but we can worry about that later. Right now, I want to deal with this. I think we should show it to Trev.”
“What? No!” Erin protested. “Lucy is in the chair, deep in trance. Let’s fix her so she never does it again... Better yet, let’s turn her into the perfect girlfriend for Trev, and let him have the partner he deserves... Showing him this won’t be good. It’ll break his heart.”
“Honestly, I think we need to show him...” Alice sighed heavily. “I mean, how can we keep this from him?”
“That’s what I was thinking...” Tiffany nodded grimly. “As for changing Lucy, Erin, I think we should leave that to Trev to decide. I mean, what if he just wants to dump her?”
“I know I would.” Alice looked over to Lucy with daggers in her eyes. The intensity of this glare was lessened slightly by the fact that Alice still had her fingers pressing against her nose, and Tiffany would have laughed were it not for how heavy her heart felt just then.
“Two against one, Erin.” she remarked. “Let’s go tell Trev.”
“Urgh! Fine!” Erin scowled. “But I swear, Tiff...”
“Shhhh...” Tiffany put her finger to her lip and then smiled in satisfaction as Erin obediently became silent. Her glare intensified, but Tiffany turned away to return to the lounge.
“You’re just going to leave Lucy sitting there like that?” Alice asked, frowning slightly, as she followed, Erin trailing behind.
“Why not? It’s a good way to make sure she doesn’t go anywhere.” Tiffany replied with more than a hint of bitterness. “And besides, I want her already in trance for- Woah!”
Tiffany stopped dead in the doorway, eyes wide in surprise. Alice bumped into her and quickly gasped as she too saw what had given Tiffany pause. Erin peered around them both to see, and her face spread into an amused grin.
Standing in the kitchen, with his trousers down was Josh. His dick was poking out of his boxers, and was dangling down into a large glass of milk that he held. He looked like a deer in headlights as he stared at the three girls in the doorway, and was completely frozen, his muscular body tensed.
“Ummm...” Tiffany trailed distractedly. She tried and tried and tried but she could not stop starting at Josh’s generous endowment soaking in a glass of the white stuff. It was almost as mesmerizing a sight as the screen back in the bedroom. Alice had moved her hands so that in addition to touching her nose, they also covered her eyes. Erin’s Cheshire cat grin only got wider as the seconds of awkward silence shambled by.
“Uhh, so... Umm, Josh, have you seen... uh, Trev anywhere?”
“Guest bedroom,” Josh said stiffly, quickly adding “This... uh, isn’t what it looks like...”
“Okay.” Tiffany nodded with pursed lips. “Uh, thanks.” With a surge of effort, Tiffany tore her eyes away from the sight before her and headed to the corner of the lounge leading to the guest bedroom. The door was ajar and she saw Trev inside meticulously dusting the top of the wardrobe.
“Josh...” Alice said nervously, her eyes tightly shut and behind her hands still. “I’m going to open my eyes in a few seconds. Any chance that what I saw just now will never be seen again by anyone in this flat ever by that point?”
“Right! Yeah! Shit!” Josh suddenly snapped into motion, pulling the glass away from himself and spilling milk over the floor in his haste. Erin burst out laughing and pushed past Alice who stood otherwise blocking the doorway to Josh’s bedroom.
“Hey Trev...” Tiffany said anxiously as she pushed the guest bedroom doorway wide.
“Hey Tiff.” Trev barely glanced around at Tiffany before returning to his cleaning. “Sorry, kinda... busy here,” he muttered, wiping away.
“I need to show you...” Tiffany started, but quickly turned to her side and snapped “What is it Erin?!”
The tomboy was relentlessly poking Tiffany in the side and motioning frantically to her mouth, her eyes a combination of desperation and excitement.
“Fine! You can speak, just quit it with the poking!” Tiffany batted her away.
“Trev! Come quick!” Erin blurted out ecstatically, “Josh has made a mess in the kitchen!”
“NO!” yelled Tiffany, Alice, and Josh simultaneously, but Trev was already rushing through to the kitchen fretfully.
It was general chaos for the next couple of minutes. Alice and Tiffany tried to hold Trev back from the kitchen, but even between them they could only slow him down, especially since Alice using her hands to try and restrain Trev caused inebriation to wash over her once more. Josh was frantically trying to clean up the spilled milk before Trev could get there, and Erin was dancing around laughing and shouting things to do with “dick milk” before Tiffany snapped at her to shut up.
Tiffany and Alice ended up on top of Trev on the kitchen floor, having tackled him to the ground. Josh fervently declared that it was completely clean before he sank to the floor in laughter. Erin was in stitches nearby, and the trio on the floor couldn’t help but join in. Eventually, everyone sat around the now spotless floor of the kitchen, out of breath and still chuckling.
“So what the fuck was that about?” Trev asked, looking quizzically around at everyone.
“If we tell you about it in twenty years’ time, you’ll tell us we should have waited until you were dead.” Alice said gravely, igniting more laughter.
“Alright, fine.” Trev chuckled, though looking confused. “Hey, where’s Lucy?”
Tiffany shared a glance with Erin, then Alice. There was no avoiding it any longer.
“The bedroom, I think,” Josh said. “She said a while back that you were all having nice girl chat in there and to leave you alone. Oh!” he added. “We ordered takeaway, by the way.” pointing up to the bags on the kitchen island. “You may need to heat it up though, it’s been there a while...”
“We started watching Mama Mia but it’s paused now,” Trev explained. “Lucy was supposed to be getting you guys... I’ll go get her.” Trev moved to get up, but Tiffany put a hand on his shoulder.
“Trev, wait.” Alice said, her expression grave.
“What is it?” Trev looked at Tiffany, then Alice, then Erin, all of whom looked nervous and uncomfortable. “Guys? You’re freaking me out.”
“Read this.” Tiffany said, handing Trev the note that she had frantically stuffed into her jean pocket a few minutes earlier. “I’m sorry.” she added.
Trev took the note with a perplexed expression on his face. The morph from confused to distraught was gradual as he read and re-read the note.
“Lucy wrote this?” he asked, his voice wavering.
“Yes.” Tiffany said. She could feel tears welling up behind her eyes and her throat going dry. She could see in Trev’s expression that his heart now ached, and she swore she could feel it with her own.
“She’s... she’s cheating on me? With James? I just... I just...” he hung his head and sniffed loudly.
“Don’t believe it?” Alice finished for him. “Yeah, neither do we...”
Tiffany sighed, her sorrow coming out in droves. She loved Trev like a brother, and to see him this hurt was unbearable. James was his flatmate and a close friend of his. He occasionally came over to Josh’s with Trev to hang out, but he was often busy with his own friendship circle, not to mention his girlfriend, Libby.
Josh took the note from Trev and quickly read it over. “I’m sorry, bro.” he said somberly. He then scrunched up his face and threw the letter into the middle of the circle. “Urgh, that tasted like... like... betrayal.”
“Look, Trev...” Tiffany said cautiously. “Lucy is in the chair right now, deep in trance...”
Trev looked up at Tiffany, a look of disbelief on his face. “Is that why she wrote this?” he asked, a cold anger simmering in his voice. “Did you make her write it, Tiff?”
“What?” Tiffany looked shocked. “No!”
“You never liked her.” Trev stated, accusation lacing his voice, before he looked around at anyone else. “None of you did!”
“Trev,” Alice said calmly. “Tiffany didn’t do anything. You know she… she wouldn’t do that.” Alice’s hesitation didn’t seem to be noticed by anyone, but it hit Tiffany square in the face. What did Alice remember from her drunken state on the bed that she hadn’t shared?
“Look, I’ll explain what happened,” Tiffany said, feeling flustered. She recounted the events of the evening as best as she could. At the end of it, Trev looked even more upset.
“She really said that? She was planning on controlling you all using the program?” his voice betrayed his disbelief.
“And you,” Tiffany added. “She talked about fixing you a lot. You know she doesn’t like you hanging out with us, right?”
“Well, yeah, but what the fuck do I know?” Trev ran his hands heavily over his face and through his hair. “I’m the guy who thought he had the perfect girlfriend until just now... Fuck...”
“What I don’t understand is why she would even do such a thing? I mean, Lucy, cheat?” Josh scratched his head. “I mean, this from the girl who hints every time we see her that the two of you are destined to be together, that you’re going to live happily ever after and have this perfect life with each other... It doesn’t make sense, man...”
“I don’t know, I don’t fucking know...” Trev just shook his head before burying it in his hands.
Tiffany looked around at everyone. Josh looked at a loss of what to say or do. Alice was strangely quiet, looking downcast as she stared at her feet. Erin was bizarrely quiet as well, but she motioned to her lips and then gave Tiffany an annoyed glance. Of course! Tiffany had yelled at her to shut up over the whole spilled milk thing. Tiffany had to admit to herself, putting Erin under her complete control had its perks...
“You can speak now, Erin.” she said as casually as she could. “I mean, you look like you have something to say.”
Erin gave Tiffany a knowing look, and Tiffany wondered if she had hidden the command well enough for no-one else to notice. They all seemed too preoccupied with Trev’s pain, however.
“Trev.” Erin extended a hand and placed it on his knee. When Trev finally looked up, she added, “We have Lucy in a deep trance as we speak... You can go and get her to spill her lying guts out, she’ll tell you anything with complete honesty while sitting in the chair.”
Tiffany nodded in agreement. That’s what she would do. However, it did concern her at how readily she was agreeing with something Erin suggested...
Trev seemed to consider this. “I dunno,” he eventually said. “It just feels wrong to interrogate her while she’s unable to... I mean, it just doesn’t feel right doing that. Nothing about that program we made feels right.”
“Agreed.” Alice instantly nodded. “I think it’s time to pull the plug on it, guys.”
“Wait a minute...” Erin replied sharply, looking taken aback.
“Uh, I didn’t want to say, as you all seemed so into it... But I think so too.” Josh grimaced slightly. “It gives me bad vibes, that thing. I don’t think we’re meant to mess with stuff like that.”
Tiffany felt her entire body seize up in apprehension. Could they be serious? Would they really destroy the program?
“We can’t just...” Erin tried to say, but Trev cut her off.
“Yeah, it’s really caused nothing but problems, I wish I’d never found this out. I wish none of this had happened. I wish I didn’t want so badly to go back to cleaning that fucking guest room... I’m not enjoying this anymore...”
“Yeah, but we can fix that...” Erin said, hints of desperation in her voice. “Trev, we can fix all of that. C’mon, don’t you think it’s being a bit hasty just pulling the plug?”
“No, Erin, it’s not hasty...” Alice looked nervously at her, and then at Tiffany. “I mean, look, you’ve spent more time as a chicken in the last two days here than you have as a person. Doesn’t that bother you?”
“No!” Erin replied shrilly. “It doesn’t! Look we’re barely scratching the surface of what we can use the program for... We haven’t even encoded the algorithm yet! We can’t just abandon it now!”
“Yes, we can,” Josh said firmly. Trev grunted in agreement, and Alice nodded grimly. They started getting to their feet. Tiffany rose with them, and Erin sprang up last, looking panicked.
“Tiff!” Erin grabbed Tiffany’s arm. “Tell them they can’t! Tell them they mustn’t!”
“Erin, I...” Tiffany started, uncertainty overwhelming her. Maybe this was for the best... Maybe they should stop playing with the program before something really bad happened. She considered how close she came to being completely and helplessly under Lucy’s control. The power the program exerted over people... it wasn’t natural... It didn’t feel right.
But... Tiffany bit her lip, partly out of anxiety, partly because she once more envisioned all of her friends under her spell, their eyes empty as they stared into mindless oblivion, their minds blank, waiting to be filled with her words, her ideas, her commands...
She couldn’t... She shouldn’t... If it went wrong, she could lose all of them. It surely wasn’t worth that risk...
“I’m sorry,” she finished, and she felt pangs of guilt as Erin’s face sank. “I mean, it’s already decided, right? They have three votes against your one, it doesn’t really matter what I think, I can’t force th—”
“Josh has dosh! Alice through the looking glass!” Erin blurted out. Tiffany and Trev both looked bewildered as Josh and Alice both froze, and then slouched, their faces draining of all emotion, their eyes dulling as their minds sank into the depths of trance.
“Erin!” Tiffany cried out in surprise.
“Dude! What did you do?!” Trev looked simultaneously scared and angry. He waved his hand in front of Alice’s expressionless face, then gently prodded Josh’s forehead. “They’re out of it. Erin, what? How? When did you—” Trev turned on the desperate looking tomboy and towered over her while Tiffany watched, wide eyed and frozen in shock.
“Tiff! Drop him!” Erin pleaded, her fear making her voice shake. “Please!”
Trev looked to Tiffany, a look of concern and distrust filling his eyes.
“Tiff, tell me what’s going on, now!” he demanded.
Tiffany’s gaze flitted between Trev’s anger and Erin’s fear. When Trev took a step closer to her, she sighed and said to him, “I’m sorry.”
Trev’s expression instantly turned to worry and confusion. He opened his mouth to speak. but Tiffany spoke first.
“Sleep Trev, sleep,” she uttered, and watched as Trev’s face drooped into a neutral blank expression, free of all thought and emotion. His pupils dilated and his breathing slowed, and then he stood there, motionless and mindless, just like Alice and Josh.
Tiffany quickly turned on Erin. “What the hell was that?!” she demanded, stepping up to the tomboy and staring her down.
“I had to!” Erin rebutted. “They were about to delete the program, Tiff!”
“Yes! They were!” Tiffany ran her hands through her hair. It was all getting too much. “And you know the reason they wanted to delete it, Erin?” she gestured dramatically to each of their mindless friends. “It’s so we wouldn’t do this to them! So we wouldn’t abuse the power! We’re out of control, don’t you see that?”
“No, Tiff, I don’t see that. You want to know what I see?” Erin shifted her stance and puffed herself up to meet the taller girl’s angry gaze.
“What?” Tiffany asked irritably. “What do you see?”
“I see You in control, Tiff.” Erin said slowly and deliberately. Tiffany shrank back slightly at this, like Erin’s words scared her. Her electric blue eyes stared intensely at Erin’s, a steely dark brown gaze meeting her. As Erin spoke though, Tiffany found that more than once her attention instead shifted onto her soft pink lips. “Isn’t that what you want?” Erin continued, a sly smile gaining confidence on her face. “To have all of us ready to do whatever you wish of us? All you have to do is say your trigger for me, and then all four of us will be blank and mindless, ready for you to control. Don’t tell me you don’t want that. Even though you’ve left me with autonomy, don’t tell me you haven’t loved being able to command me to do anything you feel like.”
“I... I did that to stop you from... from...” Tiffany tried to justify herself, but she could feel her own lack of conviction.
“Oh please, Tiff!” Erin scoffed. “You could have stopped me from misbehaving without making me obey everything you say! Admit it!” She grabbed Tiffany’s arms now, squeezing with every exclamation.” You like it! You love it, even! I’m not going to judge you, because if I could have, I’d be exactly where you are. And we both know that I wouldn’t be having the same reservations about it.”
Tiffany considered this. Of course she agreed with that, Erin seemed to have been bent on using the program to gain control of them all as soon as she realized what it could do. It’s why Tiffany was so afraid of what Erin might use it for. It’s why she felt she had to take control instead.
“Why, though?” she asked, her demeanor softening. “Why do you want to control us all so badly?”
Erin sighed, her grin vanishing into a troubled frown and her arms dropping back to her sides. “Because if I did, I’d know none of you would ever betray me. You wouldn’t all go to a club with me and abandon me when I have a bad reaction to the drugs. You wouldn’t all make me the scapegoat when we all got caught by the cops spraying graffiti on the underpass. You wouldn’t all stop talking to me because I said a stupid joke one day without realizing it would hurt someone’s feelings... You wouldn’t want to distance yourself from me when you found out about the shittiness I’ve been through in the past...”
Tears were in Erin’s eyes now, and her arms had slid up to cradle herself. She then scrunched her face up and wiped her eyes furiously, her cheeks burning red. Tiffany felt a heaviness in her chest. She hadn’t known that any of that had happened to Erin. She was the newest member of their group of friends, so it had been a little over a year since she’d met her, and they had never really hung out when not with everyone else. A growing powerful wave of guilt was now filling her up as she remembered how readily she had used Erin’s skilled tongue to get off so recently. She hadn’t let her remember it. What would she do if she knew?
“I hate that I can’t lie to you Tiff,” Erin said bluntly. “It feels like you’ve torn my armor away and I’m just naked and pathetic in front of you.”
“You’re not pathetic Erin.” Tiffany pulled her into a hug. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay...” Erin murmured, her face mouth muffled on Tiffany’s shoulder as she wrapped her arms around her in return. “You did what you had to do. You deserve to be in control, you’re not going to abuse the power the way I would... I know you just want to make Alice like you more and make it so the rest of us don’t notice the sudden change in her... It’s a lot better than what I’d be like.”
“I’m not so sure...” Tiffany replied, pulling away from the hug gently but keeping her arms on Erin’s shoulders. “I think changing anyone in any way is crossing a line, I don’t know how much difference it makes really what you actually do when you’ve done it...”
“But you’re going to, right?” You’re going to take control? You’re going to make it so they don’t delete the program?” Erin asked, nervous hopefulness in her quiet voice. She looked so small and delicate to Tiffany now. She wondered why she was ever so afraid of her.
“Yes...” Tiffany sighed, looking away, her expression conflicted. “I’m going to make it so they don’t want to delete the program, I’m going to make it so they want to use it and develop the Algorithm and ultimately benefit from it. But that’s it,” she declared, looking back to Erin. “I don’t think I’m going to do what I planned to do to Alice anymore. It would be so wrong, she wouldn’t know the difference but I would...”
Erin looked up at Tiffany in wonder for a moment. Her face went red again, and she looked away. When she looked back, she just said calmly. “Don’t forget to put your trigger in Josh now that he’s under. Once you do that, you’ll really be able to do anything you want...”
“Sure.” Tiffany smiled softly, and then whispered, “Sleep, Erin, Sleep.”