Tension filled the air as Janet stared Violet down. Her heart raced in her chest, thumping in her ears and drowning out any ambient noise. She tried her best to maintain her composure, to appear confident and in control.
She was afraid. Her breathing was shaky and her hands felt ice cold. There was no way of knowing how Violet would react, not with how impulsive Janet took her to be. Her best course of action was to tread lightly. She wanted to make the first move, but the venomous glare that was returned to her was paralyzing.
The suspense she felt was shattered by a sudden laugh.
Violet’s anger instantly dissipated from her face as she calmly sat at the edge of her bed, clapping her hands. “Bravo, Janet. I’m impressed. Honestly,” she said with a grin. “You certainly played a good game, but I’m afraid this is as far as it will go. Bit longer than I expected, but that’s okay. Sometimes things are better when you’re made to wait.”
Janet could only continue to stare, confused by Violet’s change in attitude. She stood there warily, trying to deduce her enemy’s intentions. With someone as unpredictable as Violet was, it was no easy task. “What are you talking about?” Janet asked. She eyed her cautiously.
“Let me ask you this,” Violet began. She leaned back onto both arms, crossing one leg over the other on the bed. “Do you think your actions up until now were your own?” The confident smile never left her face.
Janet scoffed, rolling her eyes. “Of course they are. What are you playing at?”
Violet shivered pleasantly as she tilted her head sideways. “I’ve been dying to have this conversation for so long.” She stared at Janet like a cat teasing its prey. “Here’s the thing, everything you know about these last few days is, well... wrong. Everything you’ve been doing behind the scenes was done because I let you.”
She paused for a moment, letting the information sink in. She pulled both legs up onto the bed as she ran her hand through her hair. “You see, I know you tried to program Snow the other day, before I arrived. I also know you believe that Rachel fell into your little trap with your teacher. What you may not know, however, is that I had them play along so that you could think you had the upper hand.”
Violet saw the uncertainty in Janet’s eyes now, the slight wavering of her resolve as she questioned the reality of her memories. It was precisely the reaction Violet had hoped for, and it felt delicious.
“It’s a fun one, don’t you think? Letting you have hope that maybe you’ll win in the end. Truth be told, you were just playing along to my instructions from the beginning.”
Janet took a step back. “That’s impossible. You’re lying...”
“You know the power of the device, Janet. You know very well that it’s possible. You see, I enjoy playing with you.” Violet rubbed at her neck before slowly sliding her hand down her chest, between her breasts. “You take everything so seriously, how couldn’t I?” Moving farther, her hand stopped at her crotch, pressing against it as she purred.
“You look so delicious right now. It’s a shame I’ll have to put you back under. Don’t worry though, I’ll be sure we get to play again. Maybe next time I’ll even record it! That way I can watch the moment you lose all hope. Again. And again. And again.” Her face flashed with excitement every time she repeated that word.
Violet stood up from the bed. She slowly approached Janet, swaying her hips. “The only thing that could possibly make this better is to see you willingly give up. Let me see you break. Realize that there is no way out of this for you.”
“S-stay back...” Janet warned, shrinking away.
Violet pouted. She stopped moving as she raised her fingers into the air. “One snap, and all will return back to how it should be, with you as my mindless slave. Are you ready, or would you rather go willingly? It’ll be so much sweeter if you do.”
Janet could only stare at the fingers in fear, waiting for them to make their sound.
Rachel held Janet’s tablet tightly to her side. She treated it as if it was the most expensive instrument in the world. If she were to have broken it, she’d as well have broken any hopes of reliving her experience with Ms. Gilio.
Worse yet, she’d disappoint Violet.
She stood outside the closed door, trying to catch her breath. Her race across campus was surely a spectacle to behold for the other students that looked her way. Those that did likely caught a glimpse of her bare ass as she ran by, her skirt offering little protection as it bounced wildly.
She rubbed her leg firmly. It seemed to her that she might have pushed herself a bit too hard, but that was something she could worry about later. All that mattered right now was what awaited her on the other side of that door. With eager anticipation, she gave two sharp knocks on the wood.
“Come in,” she heard Ms. Gilio say from the other side. The voice was softer than usual, a more friendly tone that she hadn’t heard her teacher use before. It enticed Rachel, leaving her to wonder if Janet perhaps had given Ms. Gilio extra instructions as a surprise. She entered the office with high hopes.
Ms. Gilio sat behind her clean desk, smiling at Rachel. “Please, take a seat,” she invited. “I was just telling Melanie here that you were helping me with a very important project that I wanted to show her.”
Rachel tore her gaze away from her teacher, taking notice of Melanie as she sat in the chair to her side. She frowned slightly, disappointed that Melanie had beaten her here. There would be no appetizer to tide her over. Still, she had a job to perform for Violet, and was permitted to have some fun after it was accomplished. With that in mind, she exchanged pleasantries with her victim.
“Now, if you don’t mind,” Ms. Gilio said to Rachel, gesturing towards the tablet in her arms, “let’s get started. Once our business with Melanie is done, I’d like to have a moment to speak with you... in private.”
The way the teacher accented those last two words sent shivers through Rachel. The voracious look the teacher gave when she said them had Rachel weak in the knees. She was too preoccupied with the implications to be concerned over Ms. Gilio’s conspicuous voicing around Melanie.
Quickly shaking off yet another daydream, Rachel pulled out the tablet as she took her seat. Logging in with the password that Violet so graciously entrusted to her, she handed the device over to her instructor. She glanced excitedly between teacher and pupil with bated breath.
Ms. Gilio loaded up the program and promptly turned it to face Melanie. Rachel averted her gaze, careful not to stare at the colors despite a firm notion that it would make her feel good. Without skipping a beat, Ms. Gilio began talking to Melanie. “Now then, with this project, I feel it’s better to just show it to you, rather than explain it first. It’ll all make perfect sense soon if you’ll just watch the screen for me.”
Melanie looked down as requested.
“Very good, Melanie. Just keep staring at the screen. Try to follow the patterns with your eyes.”
Rachel’s full attention was on Melanie now. She watched every expression that her classmate made. She had only seen the device used on someone once, back when Violet helped make Janet happy. The experience then was just as exciting as it was now, and Rachel wanted to make sure to relish it while she could.
“As you keep watching, you may start to notice just how tired you feel right now. Being valedictorian must be so exhausting. It’d be so nice to just be able to get a break from all that stress. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? To be able to let go of all that stress and just relax?”
Her teacher had been speaking so sensually, Rachel had to look over and confirm that it was indeed Ms. Gilio that was talking.
“Yeah, that’d be nice,” Melanie replied. Her eyes continued to dart around, following the shapes.
“All you have to do is keep watching the screen. Let the colors and shapes fill your vision. Don’t worry about anything else right now. All those stressors are unimportant when you’re in this room. Just let them fade away from your mind as you finally get the rest that you so desperately need.”
Rachel waited with rapt attention. Any moment now she’d be able to see the tell-tale signs of Melanie going under. Just like Janet before her, Melanie’s eyes would soon start to droop, her breathing start to slow. Just a little bit longer and she’d be fully under. Then Rachel could accomplish her goal for Violet and receive her reward.
“Doing so well now, Melanie. Keep watching. Let the colors relax you. Feel your muscles drain of tension as you begin to feel tired. It would be so nice to just be able to sleep and let go of everything. Nothing could be more relaxing. Nothing could be more pleasant. Are you starting to feel sleepy now, Melanie?”
This was it. Rachel could tell that they were almost there. Maybe now it’d be safe to just reach a hand under her skirt and start fingering herself. She so desperately wanted to. Melanie probably wouldn’t even notice at this point.
“Mmm,” Melanie quietly purred. She adjusted her glasses. “Not really.”
Rachel decided Melanie should be under enough as she started gently sliding her hand delicately up her thigh. Images of Janet going under flashed in her mind. She could practically see the same look on Melanie’s face now. Better yet, it wasn’t much longer until she saw the same look on Ms. Gilio. It wasn’t until Melanie’s response was fully processed that her hand stopped its advancement.
She studied Melanie’s face. There was no sign of tiredness. Her classmate looked fully alert. “Wait... what?” Rachel squeaked out. She noted the frown given by her teacher.
“Hmm. It doesn’t seem to be working, Rachel,” Ms. Gilio said plainly with a shrug.
“Th... that’s impossible,” Rachel stammered. There was no reason why it wouldn’t work. She knows Melanie was staring at it, she watched her the entire time.
Rachel wondered how long it had been. Melanie had certainly been staring at it for longer than Janet did just a few days ago. Why did Janet fall under so easily, but Melanie seem completely immune? It didn’t make any sense to her.
“What’s wrong, Rachel? You look upset,” Melanie said with concern.
Rachel looked up to see Melanie looking right at her. That wasn’t what she was supposed to be doing. “No, you have to look at the screen. Keep looking. Please!” Her voice was more panicked than commanding.
Melanie acquiesced and refocused her attention on the program.
“That’s it, just keep looking.” Rachel tried to come up with what to say to coax Melanie under, but she was too distressed. “You have to...to keep looking...”
“I think it might be broken, Rachel,” Ms. Gilio announced.
“No. It’s not broken. It can’t be broken!” Her voice was becoming frantic.
“Maybe you should take a look, find out for yourself if it still works,” the teacher offered. Without even waiting, she moved the tablet over to face Rachel.
Rachel was quick to look away, shutting her eyes. “No! I can’t, I...” This was supposed to be simple. She just had to let the teacher put Melanie under. Rachel just wanted to have fun with the teacher for a bit, and then they all could go meet up with Violet. That’s how things were supposed to be.
“You don’t want to disappoint her, do you?”
The question cut through Rachel as her eyes shot open. Just the idea of it was unimaginable to her. She looked up at her teacher in absolute fear. “Please. I promised her. What should I do?” She began hyperventilating.
“Just try staring at the screen for me, Rachel. Then we’ll know for sure. It’s all so simple. Don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to you. I won’t let you disappoint her. I promise.”
Ms. Gilio’s voice was calming. She promised to help. Rachel wanted so desperately to believe her. Her teacher would fix this, and then they could all go back and make Violet proud. Rachel gave her first tentative glance at the lights.
It all looked so beautiful. There was a familiarity with the display that Rachel could feel, just like the last time that Violet used the device on her. She had been so upset back then. Violet had made her feel better—so much better. If that familiarity was with her now, it meant that she was going to feel better again soon. She just had to keep staring and let Ms. Gilio solve her problems.
Rachel could feel herself being drawn in as she stared. Part of her realized that this meant the device wasn’t broken. Maybe now they could use it on Melanie. Rachel would get to keep her promise.
“It’s... working. Okay... Melanie?” Her voice was slurred, her body tensing as she fought to complete her task.
Ms. Gilio comforted Rachel as she began to lightly fuss. With a calming shush, the teacher began speaking to her student. “It’s okay. I’ll take care of everything. There’s nothing you have to worry about. Just keep staring at the screen, let all your troubles fade away. I’ll make sure Violet is proud of you.”
Rachel had never experienced such relief before. She let out a long sigh as her face completely relaxed. Ms. Gilio would make things right. It was the last thought that went through her head as the smile slowly faded to nothing.
With Rachel fully under, Ms. Gilio and Melanie both straightened up as their expressions went blank. Pulling out her phone, the teacher quickly sent a text out to Janet. She returned to Rachel to finish her instructions.
“Just give up, Janet.” Violet’s eyes were wild with excitement. She had Janet just where she wanted her. “I promise if you do this my way, I’ll reward you in ways you could never imagine. If I have to force you under, though,” she jiggled her hand, fingers at the ready, to emphasize her point, “I can guarantee you’ll regret it for weeks to come.”
Violet stood there, waiting for Janet to come to a decision. She was growing impatient.
Janet took a slow, deep breath as she straightened up. She looked firmly at Violet. “Go ahead.”
Janet clenched her fists tightly, her knuckles white. “If what you say is true, then snap your fingers. Put me under. If you already have control of me, then it doesn’t matter what I do. However, if you’re blu—”
Violet’s anger flared. “Bitch!” she shouted. She drew her hand back and charged at Janet.
Janet stumbled backwards, saved from falling only by the wall that her back slammed into. She grunted from the impact. She brought her arms up to protect her face as she closed her eyes and looked away. Time seemed to slow as adrenaline rushed through her.
It took a few moments for Janet to realize that she hadn’t been struck yet. She noticed that the room had fallen silent. She no longer heard Violet’s feet stomping on the carpet towards her.
Cautiously, Janet opened her eyes to peek over her own arms. All she saw was white.
Janet realized that Snow was standing in front of her, the back of her white head blocking Janet’s view, her arms extended to both sides.
Janet had never felt so relieved. For a moment she really had questioned if what Violet was saying was true. The idea that she was changed in ways she couldn’t even comprehend frightened her. For Violet to have known what she had done with the other two had only strengthened her claim.
In the end, Janet decided it wasn’t impossible to figure out. There was only one point where she had control of the device to use it on Snow. And for Rachel to go silent right after leaving the shop? Violet had made a lucky guess, or was otherwise more intelligent than Janet gave her credit. Either way, for her to react this way after calling her bluff only proved to Janet that it was just that.
Timidly peaking over Snow’s shoulder, Janet caught sight of Violet. Her fist was still raised in the air, ready to strike, but she wasn’t moving. She was staring at Snow with a horrified expression.
“Snow, why?” she asked. When she saw Janet’s face, her scowl returned. “How dare you use her like this,” she spat angrily. Realizing that Snow would protect Janet, she lowered her fist, but continued to glare daggers.
“It’s over, Violet. No more games to play, no more people to abuse.” Janet continued to hide herself behind Snow while keeping a careful eye on Violet.
“Coward,” Violet said under her breath. “If you think you’re going to use Snow against me, you’re wrong. You don’t have it in you to be coercive, there’s no way you’d hurt her. You have nothing over me. I’ll never look at your device. You’ll never control me.”
Janet stepped out from behind Snow, who in turn lowered her arms and went back to staring straight ahead. “I have no intention of using the device on you.” She saw a brief look of surprise cross Violet’s face. “I don’t need it to solve my problems. I certainly don’t need it to deal with someone like you.”
Violet scoffed. “So what’s your big plan then, hero?”
“Simple. I’m just going to leave.”
That caught Violet off guard as she stared speechless.
“More importantly, I’m going to make sure that you never see Snow again.” Janet could tell she struck a chord when she saw Violet’s mouth drop, her eyes wide. “Goodbye, Violet.” With that, Janet turned towards the hallway with Snow following behind.
Panic set in. “Wait! You can’t do that!” She took a step forward, arm outstretched. Snow quickly moved to intercept, halting Violet’s efforts. She took a step back in response, watching as Snow turned once again to follow Janet, the both of them ignoring her. “You want me to beg? Is that it?! Fine! Please don’t go! Don’t take Snow from me again! Please!!” Violet was shouting, her voice cracking.
With annoyance, Janet turned around, sighing. “After all you’ve done, why should I do anything for you?”
Violet’s response was loud and dripping with desperate emotion. “Because I don’t want to be alone anymore!” She collapsed to her knees. Her words seemed to echo through the room.
For the first time since she took Rachel, Violet actually looked human to Janet. Her expression softened, and against her better judgment, she almost felt pity for the weeping girl before her. It still wasn’t enough to forget the indignation over Violet’s actions. “You should have thought about that before you kidnapped Rachel. You have only yourself to blame, with your spiteful, manipulative nature.”
Violet glared up at Janet once more. “You think I don’t know that?! Do you really think I like who I am? I can’t fucking help it! I can’t change myself, so I just learned to embrace it. I’ve accepted the kind of person I’ve become.” Her shoulders were heaving from her heavy breaths.
The two shared a cold stare as Janet looked down on Violet. “And that’s why you’ll always be alone.”
The words hurt more than Violet cared to admit, the kind of declaration made all the more powerful because she believed it herself. Her will was destroyed as she slowly rose to her feet, her head low and her shoulders slumped. “Just get the fuck out of my house and leave me alone.” She climbed into bed, her back to Janet, staring angrily at the wall. Her fist clenched her sheets tightly against her chest.
Violet waited until the door closed before she broke down in tears.
The two entered the store from the stairwell in silence. After crossing the room, Janet reached for the door before pausing. She stared at the handle in deep contemplation. With a silent curse, she kicked the door in anger before turning to Snow.
“I have a question for you Snow, and I need you to answer honestly.” Snow gave no response, she simply stood there waiting to follow Janet. “Do you love Violet?”
“Yes,” came Snow’s simple reply.
“Before all the programming, the changes she made to you. Even after all the fights you two had, and after everything she did to us. You still love her?”
Janet inhaled deeply, holding it in. She rubbed vigorously at her face before letting the breath out through her nose, the air hissing past her hand. “Stupid. This is so stupid, Janet,” she said to herself. She pulled out her phone, quickly sending out a text. Turning back to Snow, she told her to wait there.
Janet entered the bedroom cautiously. She found Violet where she left her, her back convulsing as she continued to sob quietly. She called out her name.
Violet whirled around on her bed, hastily grabbing a lamp on the nightstand and chucking it as hard as she could at Janet. She watched as it soared through the air before being dragged to the ground, caught by the cord. The brass frame thudded loudly against the carpet, the bulb shattering from the impact. Violet stared at it in disappointment before cursing to herself and plopping back on the bed, hiding her face once again.
Janet breathed a sigh of relief before picking herself up off the ground. She weighed her options, and was almost convinced to just give up and leave. “Can we talk?” she asked timidly. She kept her distance, ready to retreat at a moments notice
“No.” The response was quick and terse.
“I have a proposition.”
“I don’t want to hear it. Get out or I’ll find another lamp, an unplugged one this time.”
“Hear me out. If you don’t like what I have to say, then I’ll leave, and we’ll never see each other again.” Janet waited, but Violet gave no response. She didn’t decline at least, so Janet continued. “Do you love Snow?”
Violet rolled onto her back. “It’s Klara. You don’t get to say that name.”
“Just answer the question, Violet,” Janet responded in exasperation. Every moment made her question more and more why she bothered to come back.
“What do you think?” Her tone was as snarky as ever.
Janet tilted her head back. “Jesus Christ,” she said under her breath. “I’m trying to help you here, so just cut the attitude for one measly minute.”
Violet eyed her suspiciously, but for once didn’t give any retort.
“What if there was a way that you could still be with Sn—” Janet caught herself when she saw the look on Violet’s face. “With Klara.” She paused briefly. “I’d like to use my device on you.”
Violet let out a short laugh. “Like hell. No way I’m going to let you control me. I thought you were done using that anyways?” Part of her had been curious what Janet would say, but if that’s what she expected to do, then for all Violet cared, Janet could just fuck off.
“I said I wouldn’t use it to solve my problems, and I’m not. I’m doing this for her. For reasons I can’t fathom, she still loves you.” That seemed to get Violet’s attention, as Janet could finally see sorrow replacing the anger.
“You said it yourself,” Janet continued. “You can’t help being who you feel you are. My offer is this. Let me use the device on you. Let me help you be the person you want to be—for her.”
Violet pulled herself into a sitting position as she looked down at the bed, her mouth open. She brought her knees up to her chest, hugging them with her arms.
“Rachel is on her way with the tablet to drop it off. I’ll wait downstairs. Think it over for a bit. Ten minutes. After that, I’m gone. I have too much work to do trying to fix the rest of your mess.”
Violet didn’t move a muscle. She heard Janet leave, her footsteps fading down the hallway.
She collapsed back onto the bed, mulling Janet’s offer over and over in her mind. She closed her eyes and imagined Snow’s beautiful face.
Janet waited by the exit, her tablet in hand. Rachel had stopped by briefly, only long enough to hand the device over. Janet had her return to the dorm right away, just to be safe. She’d wait patiently there for Janet to return. She was instructed to call the cops if Janet didn’t show up in the next hour.
She looked at her watch, the time crawling by. It wasn’t much longer until she told herself she’d leave, and a part of Janet almost felt disappointed.
At long last, she heard the door open from across the shop.
Violet shuffled towards her, tears staining her cheeks. She looked completely defeated, an emotion Janet was surprised she was even capable of. She paused halfway across the room and looked up towards Janet.
“Are you ready?” Janet asked, showing the tablet to Violet.
“How can I trust you? After all I’ve done, why do you want to help me?”
Janet didn’t even know how to answer that. Instead, she approached the counter and placed the tablet atop it. Turning to Violet, she gestured towards the nearby stool.
Violet stared at the device warily, afraid to take the first step. She watched as Janet backed away, giving her space. She found that her legs didn’t want to move.
Out of the corner of her eye, Violet saw Snow. She was standing by the entrance, motionless, staring at nothing. Memories of their time together flashed through Violet’s head—the day they met, their first kiss, the first time Snow screamed her name through the gag in her mouth.
Over time, that scream had become an angry shout. The arguments escalated, until that fateful day that Violet went too far and struck Snow across the cheek. That was the last time she had seen her.
Violet shook her head, breathing deeply. She focused on the fonder memories as she willed her legs to move. As she turned the tablet on, she took one last glance over at Snow.
Janet reached into her pocket and pulled out her glasses, drawing Violet’s attention. As she put them on, she saw Violet’s eyebrow raise. “It’s a precaution. These glasses make me immune to the screen.”
Violet recognized them as the same glasses Janet had worn when she put her under. At least... when she thought she put her under. Violet closed her eyes and let out a soft chuckle. “Of course...” she said quietly. “So you were faking the whole time?” Violet actually felt impressed that Janet had been able to fool her.
“Not quite,” Janet responded, her demeanor completely serious. “Let’s just get this over with.”
Violet wanted to question more about it. The lack of information made her suspicious. Instead she just simply nodded.
“There’s one other thing,” Janet started, causing Violet to tense up. “I’m willing to do this regardless of what happens, but before I bring you back out, I’m going to tell Klara the truth about everything. What happens between the two of you after that is up to you.”
Violet could feel the familiar swell of anger rise through her. How dare Janet try to change the plan at the last minute like this. She’d make her pay. With Snow on the other side of the room, there’s no way she’d be able to get over here in time to stop-
She caught herself, disappointed at her lack of control. She released the hand that had been gripping her knee, her nails digging into the fabric of her pants. She looked up at Janet. “I understand.” With that, she loaded up the program.
The screen came to life with a dazzling display of color. Violet had never seen something so beautiful. Against her will, tears once again began to flood down her cheeks, leaving darkened circles on her clothing. For the first time, she could feel her emotions settle as absolute peace washed over her. The room went dark, and she could hear a comforting voice speak to her.
She wanted to listen.
Janet pressed her head to the door of her home as she leaned her back against it. Despite her sense of freedom, she wanted nothing more than to just climb into bed and fall into a coma. The events of the last few days had completely worn her out and tested her sanity. She wondered if maybe she should see a psychiatrist to work through things.
She’d decided to bookmark that idea as she straightened up. There was still one last issue to deal with.
Janet walked into the room and took a seat at the dining table, placing the tablet on the floor to her side. She studied Rachel, seated silently across from her with unseeing eyes. The entire walk home, ever since Janet left Violet’s shop, she had tried to figure out what she was going to say to her friend. Nothing sounded right in her head. She’d have to wing it and just hope for the best.
“Rachel,” she said with a nervous voice. “I’m going to wake you up in a minute. When I do... I want all the control over you to be gone. Every trigger, every change made by the device, all gone. Completely back to normal, except for one thing...” Janet felt like she was pushing her luck with this, like she was betraying Rachel’s trust once more. It was important for her, and she hoped Rachel would understand. “I command you to just hear me out. Let me say what I need to say, and then you’ll be free of everything. Do you understand?”
“Yes...” came the expected response.
Janet sat there, too afraid to give that final command, too afraid of what she figured would come after. There was still a voice inside her telling her she didn’t have to worry. She didn’t have to deal with any of this. It would just take a few simple words, and the two of them could go on as if nothing ever happened.
The notion did sound tempting. With how anxious she was, how desperately she wanted to be done with this all, of course the easy way out felt appealing. It was more than that, too. More than just wanting to go back to normal, Janet had the opportunity to make things better for herself. She could live the perfect life with the perfect lover.
She knew if she went down that road, she may never forgive herself. No matter how much she changed things, a part of her would know that it would all be fake. Janet wanted to see Rachel’s smile, more than anything. Not the forced smile that she had with Violet, but the beautiful one she wore before it all.
She decided to just get it over with, like ripping off a bandage. “Wake up.” She almost flinched at her own words.
The world seemed to rush at her, leaving Rachel feeling disoriented. When things finally came into focus, her eyes settled on Janet. Realization of what transpired over the last few days dawned on her, and she gave her roommate a scowl. Rachel leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Hey, Rachel,” Janet said sheepishly. She gave a wan smile, attempting to lighten the atmosphere. It quickly slipped away in response to the cold stare she received in return. Janet lowered her gaze, feeling incredibly uncomfortable. She wasn’t sure where to begin, wasn’t sure what she could possibly say in a situation like this.
As Janet struggled to find her words, Rachel broke the silence. “So, are you going to talk, or do you expect me to wait for eternity, since I have to ‘hear you out’?”
The tone hurt, but Janet understood that it was justified. Steeling herself, she looked Rachel right in the eyes. “I’m sorry. For everything. Truly. I know that that doesn’t even begin to excuse what I did, but I have to say it. I’m sorry.”
Janet still felt terrible, but to finally get the words out did help, to an extent.
“That night, when I made you forget everything... If I had known it would have led to all of this... hell, if I had known anything would have come of it at all, I never would have done it. I was scared at how you were reacting to the program, and... well...”
Janet found it hard to talk. She closed her eyes, taking another slow, deep breath. She wanted to bury her head in her hands on the table, but knew that right now wasn’t the time for her cowardice. “I was scared at how it made me feel about you...”
She paused again, feeling a slight sense of relief over the minor confession. “When I got Melanie,” she cringed at her phrasing, “I wanted things to go back to normal between us. I thought the best way to do that was to just make you forget about the device.
“I was selfish and short-sighted. You got caught up in it all in ways I never expected, and certainly never wanted. I see that now, and I’m doing the best I can, what little I can, to make things right.”
There was no reaction from Rachel, but Janet didn’t expect anything anyways.
“That day... the day you were taken from m—... the day you were taken...” Janet tried to maintain control over the swell of emotions from her memories of that time. She thought she had lost Rachel for good.
“I’m sorry it took so long,” she said while releasing her breath. “I don’t know how else I could have done things. When you were gone, I knew it was up to me to think of something. I tried to come up with a plan...” She slouched in her chair. “Some plan,” she said, chuckling despite herself, “if you could call it that.
“It felt so hopeless. I had no idea what to expect, no idea what kind of person she was back then. But...” Janet thought back on her first real encounter with Violet. Even that first impression did little to prepare her for who Violet turned out to be. “There’s one thing that I had going for me. There was no way she could have known about the glasses. That knowledge was all I had.
“It wasn’t even enough, though. Sure, I’d be immune to the device, but then what? She still had you. Any effort I made to stop her, there was the threat that she’d use you against me. I couldn’t have that. I was about ready to give up...” Janet pounded the table in anger, her brow showing her grief as she looked to the side. “I was thinking... maybe if I couldn’t stop her, at least if I was there, you wouldn’t be alone.”
Janet sniffed. She wiped at her nose with her arm. “Melanie was still with me, trying to console me. It just made me feel worse. I felt awful for what I did to her, all because of some stupid crush. She didn’t seem to care about it though. In her mind, she really did love me, because I forced her to. I made her into someone she wasn’t.”
Janet closed her eyes, tilting her head upwards. “It was that thought that had given me hope. I figured Violet would use the device on me. There’s no way I could fake being under, I’d be found out in an instant, and who knows what would have happened then. But if I could just... become someone else... I could get Violet to believe she had won. I could wait until she let her guard down.
“The device took months to build. So much trial and error.” Janet began staring at her own hand as it fidgeted on the table, drawing invisible circles. “You never questioned all the time I spent locked in my room, not directly, but that’s what I was doing. Trying to make the device that led to all this. There were prototypes of the hardware. With the experience of the finished product, it wasn’t difficult to slap a functioning one together. I had backups of the program on my computer as well.
“The rest was up to Melanie. I had her read from a script. I’d technically be immune when Violet put me under, if all went well. At that point, my own programming would kick in. For all intents and purposes, I was as much a slave to her as you were.” She saw Rachel’s eyes narrow at the mention of what she had been. “Really had to sell that one... better safe than sorry.
“I had a back door though... a tiny part of me buried deep down, along with the pertinent memories. I’d only come out when absolutely necessary, otherwise hiding away, waiting for any opportunity.
“A plan to come up with a plan...” Janet chuckled silently to herself.
“Snow ended up being the key to it all, I just had to get you safe. Ms. Gilio and Melanie saw to that. Snow protected me the same way you protected Violet. I owe her so much now.
“I talked to her, before coming over. Undid everything I could. She doesn’t even remember any of their fights. Maybe that’s why she still loved a monster. I don’t know if there’s anything I could have done about that. It seems once a memory is forgotten, there’s no chance of getting it back. Unfortunately that means that your memories are gone for good as well...
Janet shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “That’s not to say she was happy. Quite the opposite, when she learned the truth about us, but she still wants to be with her.” She clenched her fists. “I didn’t want to let that happen. Snow was too good a person to be with someone like Violet. I didn’t want to see her get hurt again, but...” She relaxed her hand. “I also didn’t want to force her decision.
“Over the past few days, I had watched Violet carefully, waiting for her to slip up. During that time, I got a sense that deep down, I think she truly did care for Snow as well. I looked past my feelings, and gave her a choice. Maybe you won’t like what I did, but... I don’t think Violet will hurt her anymore.”
There was another awkward silence as Janet collected her thoughts. Rachel almost made her jump when she spoke up. “Is that all?” she asked tersely.
“I’m going to let Melanie go,” Janet quickly responded, staring into Rachel’s eyes with conviction. She saw a look of surprise come over her. “There’s something I’ve come to realize over the past few days. Despite everything that’s happened, everything that’s come of my program... I still enjoy using it. I love it. I love the feeling of control it provides me. I want to continue using it, because I think it can still offer amazing things.
“I think back on the time that we shared together. The words you wrote in your diary of events that you can no longer remember. Part of me wonders if you truly did enjoy it as much as you said you did, as much as you seemed to. Maybe I played a part in forcing that reaction out of you, I don’t know. I’m holding onto hope that maybe... that reaction was real. That you felt the same way as I did during that time.
“You see... I don’t want Melanie anymore. It didn’t feel the same with her.” Janet’s voice was getting hoarse. She could feel a lump in her throat over what she wanted to say. “Not like with you.” She leaned forward, reaching her hand out and placing it gently on Rachel’s. “I love you, Rachel.”
Rachel stared at the hand before slowly pulling her own away. Janet felt it slide under her fingers until her own fell to the table. As much as she understood the reaction, it still hurt.
“I want to be with you, Rachel,” Janet said, reaching down and grabbing her tablet. “To show you how much I love you.” She placed the tablet on the table, opening it up. Rachel stared at it nervously, afraid of what Janet was doing. “I want to use this on you, to have you obey my every command and hear you scream my name as you orgasm harder than you ever have. To fully control you...”
Janet loaded up the program as she looked back into Rachel’s eyes. She continued, her voice shaking, “But I don’t want to hurt you. I want you to want the same things, but not because I made you. So I’m going to leave the choice up to you. We can be together, and I can make sure that you love every minute of it, as I certainly will. Or, you can make me forget everything. Go on as if none of this ever happened. Or anything else you want. In the end, I want you to be happy, Rachel. That’s all that’s important to me. The only thing that matters. Just know that whatever you decide, I will always love you.”
Tears were streaming down Janet’s face. She tried to read Rachel’s reaction, but she was too blurry. She looked down at the screen and let herself go.
She woke up to an empty home.