There was an authoritative knock at the door.
Gina spun around, barely able to suppress a small shriek. An immediate set of thoughts bubbled up in her mind:
Don’t answer it.
Don’t say anything.
Maybe he’ll go away.
“Gina?” Fred’s suave, cultured, voice came from the other side of the door, calmness personified. “I know you’re there. May I come in?”
Her throat worked convulsively, and her mouth opened. No sound came out at first. Finally, a whisper:
“I think we need to talk. You left so abruptly from your session, there were a few things we didn’t finish discussing. Important things. I think we were on the verge of a major breakthrough ”
“It will only take a moment.”
The knob rattled, and the door cracked open. Gina watched with silent horror as that crack widened. She clutched the edge of the table against which she was leaning. The table on which lay all of the evidence she’d collected... stolen... Why hadn’t she locked the door? Why had she come back to her apartment at all? She knew he’d be looking for her.. come after her.. he had to.. she knew too much.. had discovered too much.. and now it was too late..
Fred stepped into the apartment, radiating authoritative, calm, compassion. He saw her, and stopped for a moment, the aura around him not flickering for even a moment.
Gina stared at him, framed in the doorway, and could feel the muscles in her knees, in her entire legs, slowly turn to wet spaghetti. She collapsed to the floor, staring up at him now. She swallowed, and somehow found the strength to speak, to hiss:
“I know everything. I know what you are. I know all about you! You’re nothing! Nothing but a lousy ..pimp!” She spat the last word, her hands curling up in fists.
Fred smiled down at her, sadly. Without turning away, he pushed the door shut behind him. And locked it. The sound of the bolt snapping home was very loud. His deep voice filled the silence that followed.
“I see. As it happens, I know what you are as well, Gina. Firstly and most importantly, you’re very confused, and very tired. And you need to rest.” He slowly held out his other hand, a closed fist, fingers curled in and down. Then those fingers popped open, and like a conjuring trick, something tumbled out from among them, snaking towards the floor.
A pocket-watch on the end of a chain. It bobbled to a stop, bouncing for a moment at the end of its miniature golden bungee cord before settling down. He gave his hand a little twitch, and the watch began to swing back and forth. Back and forth.
“Yes, Gina, I know all about you. That’s why I took the unusual step of following you here to your apartment. But before we talk about you and your problems, I’m going to confess something to you, something that pains me deeply. I’m not able to completely help all of the women who are sent to see me. I can usually tell now, within just a few minutes of conversation, whether I’ll be able to truly help one of my clients through her problems. Make all of her problems go away. Forever. Some I can’t. Some I can only help with the specific problem that brought them to me. Smoking. Nail-biting. Nervous tension. They’re just to set in their ways to progress to phase two, and beyond. But not you, Gina. Nearly from the moment you walked into my office, I could tell your mind was open. Receptive to new ways of thinking. Talking to you these last few weeks has merely confirmed what I already knew, saw in your eyes. And I think our sessions have gone very well. We’re nearly there, now. We’re so close.”
She couldn’t tear her brown eyes away from the watch, as it swung back and forth before her. As it reached the end of its arc, it would glint in the dim light from the curtained windows.
She could still speak, however, and did so, her voice grating:
“No... No! I’ll never.. I’ll never listen to you again! Why did I ever listen to you? You lie about everything! I’ll.. tell.. someone.. my editor...”
“But you need to listen, Gina. Everything I’ve ever told you is the truth. And with that truth, I can solve all of your problems. I can make all of your pain go away. Forever. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”
Her strong writer’s hands rose up and tangled themselves in her carefully piled swirl of dark brown hair. She didn’t look away from the watch.
“Nooo!” It was a despairing wail.
“Yes. It’s what you really want, Gina. I’ve researched your career and your life very carefully, you know. I have sources in all sorts of interesting places now. One of them, if fact, directed you to me in the first place. So, I know what you want. It’s what you’ve really been looking for all of these years, as you chased from one.. ah ..Big Story ..to the next. From one job to the next. From one city to the next. You only thought that you thrived on the challenge, the excitement, the competition. In reality, you’ve been looking desperately for a way... off the treadmill. Out of the rat-race... and into a place... of total peace, total security.. total rest.. And now.. you’ve found it.” The tempo of his voice now exactly matched the swinging of the watch. “I’m going to win.. in the end, Gina.. and you want me to win.. because then.. you win, too..”
“No...” She breathed the word this time, her eyes following the watch, her hands still in her hair, but motionless now. The tension draining out of them. Out of her entire body. She watched the watch swing, endlessly swing, and knew she was lying. To him. To herself. She wanted, more than anything, for him to remove all of the pain, all of the shallow, useless, confusion. Take it away forever.
And as these thoughts crossed her mind, it all began to happen. Everything began to fade away, except for the watch, and his voice. Fade away into blackness. The watch, swinging in front of her, back and forth across the darkness, shimmering against the soft, warm, darkness. Her mind started to sink into that darkness, become one with it, go down without a struggle. A great, strangling weight lifted off of her, and floated away with the rest of reality..
And just before the sparkling void swallowed her mind completely, she heard a final comment come to her, from a voice, a wonderful voice that she suddenly trusted and loved:
“One last thing, my silly little Gina. If I may be allowed to mangle a line from a certain popular movie, I am not a lousy pimp. I am an extraordinary pimp. I am perhaps the best pimp who has ever lived. But you’ll see that for yourself, soon. Very soon. But now it’s time.. for you to sleep. In fact.. you are... already asleep... Going deeper and deeper... into sleep... and listening to my voice... only to my voice... as it tells you what.... you want it to tell you... tells you what to do... what to say... what to think... what to be..”
The brown-haired woman emerged from the cabin, carrying a mass of papers in one hand, and a small object in the other. Smiling, she walked slowly, serenely, across the yard, to where a large metal barrel stood in a patch of trampled earth. Her bare feet kicked up little clouds of dust. A battered wooden table stood next to the barrel, and she placed the papers on it. Still smiling, she took the matchbook in her other hand, and opened it. Ripped off a match, closed the cover, and lit it. The matchbook tumbled out of her hand, joining several like it on the ground. She picked up the top piece of paper, and carefully held a corner of it over the small flickering flame. The sheet began to burn. She let it char up towards her hand for a moment, then dropped it into the barrel, along with the match, and picked up the next sheet from the pile. Dropped it in. And the next, a photograph this time, a woman in a long coat emerging from a hotel. Into the barrel. And so on. Slowly but without hesitation. One sheet at a time. With each sheet, the woman grew a little more excited, slowly licking her lips, and gently rubbing her bare thighs together. Her smile growing wider.
As the pile grew shorter, the minute bikini bottom she wore began to show signs of increasing dampness, soaking darker and darker. Her nipples poked out sharply against the triangular scraps of fabric stretched over them.
And then only one thing remained on the table- a small, plastic-laminated card. She picked it up, panting, her eyes, her body, her mind, inflamed as much as the inside of the barrel. The card had a picture of a hard-eyed, brown-haired woman dressed in a severe but stylish suit. Beneath the picture, a slashing signature: “Gina Sheldon.” And emblazoned redly across the card’s upper right corner, the word PRESS. The woman in the bikini looked at the card for a long moment, then ceremoniously held it out over the flames between her thumb and forefinger, her other fingers splayed up and out. The card dangled.
She let go.
The orgasm was long and intense, shaking her entire body. Her joyous screams echoed among the walls of tall pine trees that screened the cabin.
The door opened, and Gina walked into the room. The tall man and the blonde woman in the lab coat watched silently as she closed the door behind her and locked it. The sound of the bolt clicking home was very loud, cutting through the low hum of the machinery, the burbling of the water. Gina continued across the wooden floor. As she did so, she pulled at the knots holding her bikini in place, and the brightly-colored scraps drifted to the floor. She climbed without hesitation into the waiting tank, the warm water softly bubbling up around her naked body, washing the dirt from her feet, the sweat and oil from the rest of her body. The shimmering ball spun overhead, flashing sparkles around the room, into her brain. Completely in the water now, Gina gracefully lowered her neck into position on the padded headrest. The headrest gently but firmly clamped closed around her skull, and she let her body go limp.
Only then did the man speak.
“All done, Gina?”
“Yes, Master.” Gina spoke softly and dreamily, watching the ball spin and spin. “Reporter Gina is all burned up.”
“And what does that leave?”
“Slave Gina, Master.”
“Very good, Gina. Now let your mind go blank. Totally blank. And listen only to my voice. As you go down into a state of hypnosis. As you go down deeper and deeper into your place of total peace, total tranquility. Total joy. Total obedience to my will.”
As he had promised, he had won.
They had both won.