The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive

Kat and Mouse

Friday, Part One

The following morning was like a replay of the one before. Kat lay in bed, too-bright sunlight streaming through the blinds that she was constantly forgetting to close, striking her eyelids like a punch in the face. She listened to Marisa making her final preparations in the bathroom, Marisa the morning person always so chipper at this time of day.

Kat cleared her throat, so that sleep would not blur her voice. “Don’t wait for me, babe. I’ll make the interview.”

Marisa said. “And when are you going to be at the studio?”

Kat pushed herself up into a sitting position. “Ten, sharp. Won’t be late.”

“I just texted you the address,” Marisa said. “You can take the 1 train to Forty-Second Street.”

“Ris, I’ll be there on time,” Kat said, trying hard not to sound too exasperated. Marisa knew she was more of a morning person than her lover, and could get annoying about it sometimes. “I promise.”

Marisa paused on her way out. “Sorry, babe,” she said. “I know you’ll be there, I just ...” She made an ineffable gesture with her hand. “You know.”

“Yeah,” Kat said, thinking of the spot where she had hidden the thumb drive. “I know.”

* * *

Audiovoid was still building out its own recording space, so they rented time at a professional studio for tasks like this interview. The studio was in one of the legion of mid-sized skyscrapers that surrounded Times Square, its claim to fame being that Jay-Z had recorded some of his early stuff there, before he had become an industry unto himself.

Marisa arrived fifteen minutes early, walking over from the nearby Audiovoid offices, and the producer was already there. She had expected this: something about the kid’s voice on the phone had suggested desperation. His CV wasn’t as built out as some of the others Marisa had looked at, but he had produced the debut from a Soundcloud rapper whose career had been short-circuited by a gun charge. The album had tanked due to negative publicity, not because of its sound, which was impressive. His name was Dustin Roberts; he DJ’d under various pseudonyms involving the word “Dusty.”

Kat arrived on time, as promised, emerging from the elevator at 9:59 by Marisa’s phone. “Dustin, this is Katherine Alexander, she’s working as a consultant with me during this process.”

Dustin was an African-American from outer Queens. He had claimed on the application to be twenty-one, but he looked like he could be as many as five years younger. He had a weak handshake, which was not unusual; most musicians did. “Pleased to meet you,” he said.

There was some light conversation, which Marisa had said would be necessary to establish rapport. You didn’t want to dive straight in to the sort of request that they were about to make. None of it was really necessary for the producer job, as Marisa felt fairly sure that she could just play the SoundCloud album for Brad and he would hire Dustin on the spot.

After about fifteen minutes of such questions as “what was your first production” (he had cut his teeth on an album for a punk group in his high school) and “do you think about rapping yourself” (he didn’t, due to poor freestyling skills), Marisa tapped Kat’s foot under the table with her own foot, indicating that it was time to get down to business. “So, our final test in the interview process is a little strange,” she said. “Katherine can tell you more.”

“Okay,” Dustin said guardedly. Like most kids from the Iron Triangle, he would be suspicious of a scam.

Kat produced the thumb drive from a pocket. “I was reporting a story about subliminal messages in advertising, when I came across this audio file,” she said. “It had some unusual effects on the people who listened to it.”

“Unusual like how?” Dustin said.

“That’s the test,” Marisa said. “The audio file on this thumb drive, we want you to take it apart, tell us everything that’s in it. But, the file might be dangerous, so you can’t listen to it.”

“Can’t listen to it?” Dustin scrunched his face up in an unsubtle what-the-fuck sort of look. “It’s an audio file. I’m an audio producer. I gotta listen to it.”

“The person who sent me this file was a conspiracy-theorist type,” Kat said. She had practiced this speech in the mirror, hoping to get the tone just right. “He said this file could control people’s minds, and he had some evidence which suggested he wasn’t, like, one hundred percent crazy. So I need a second opinion.”

“The more you can tell us, the more likely you get hired,” Marisa said.

“How long do I get?”

“One hour,” Marisa said.

One hour?

“If you break the rules and listen to it, that’s about as long as we can give you and be sure it’s safe,” Kat said. This was not a lie, exactly; Marisa’s first exposure to the demo had lasted almost three hours, so they figured one hour was safer.

“Man, I thought I was going to listen to somebody’s demo or something,” Dustin said. “Not this crazy stuff.”

“If it was just music, we have your SoundCloud for that,” Marisa said. “But Audiovoid is looking into doing live drama, podcasts, all kinds of productions. We need somebody who can handle unusual requests on a tight schedule.”

Dustin looked at them hard, for so long that it became awkward. Then he said, “Let me alone in the studio ’til noon. So I can get familiar with the hardware. Then you bring that drive in, and my hour starts.”

They shook on it, and Dustin went into the studio without another word.

Kat looked at Marisa. “What happens if Brad finds out that this was the test?”

Marisa shrugged. “He doesn’t really care as long as I hire people who are competent. If he knew, I could lose my job, I guess.”

“And you’re okay taking that chance?”

Marisa shrugged again. “It’s better than letting that asshole get into my head. If I get fired, at least Brad won’t have my tits to stare at any more.”

* * *

They used the timer on Marisa’s phone to parcel the hour out exactly. When the beeping notification tone sounded, they went into the studio.

To their great relief, Dustin was not slumped over the sound board. In fact, he was much more animated than he’d been during the pre-interview. “Yo, whoever made this thing is messed up,” he said without preamble.

“He is, huh?” Kat allowed herself a small, tight grin. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”

Dustin turned to the primary monitor. Several music tracks were laid out there, the volume graphs spiking like stock-market charts. Dustin pointed at the top track, which was the most crowded with spikes. “There’s your whole file. Like you said, I didn’t play it. I was able to isolate six layers inside.”

He pointed at the first track below it. “This is the bass,” he said. “Sounds like a bass guitar, but it’s not. Electronic bass, like I would use for a hip-hop track. Okay if I play a sample?”

Marisa nodded. Dustin hit a key on the keyboard, and the bass thrummed through the room. Dustin shut it off after a few seconds.

“This,” he said, indicating the second track, “is a theremin.” He hit the key again, and the weird wavering melody came out of the speakers. “But not an original theremin.”

“What do you mean, original?” Kat said.

“Look,” Dustin said, pointing to a couple of small forests of spikes on the screen. “Here and here, you can see the distortion clearest. It’s like if you burn a song off of a CD, then make a copy of the copy.”

Neither Marisa nor Kat could see what he was talking about, but they nodded as though they could.

Dustin said, “Probably the guy took a theremin song off of YouTube or something, then designed the bass to bang with it.”

“What’s this one?” Kat asked, pointing to the track which clearly had the smallest number of spikes.

“Your subliminal thing,” Dustin said. “This is what’s messed up.” He hit a key, and a man’s voice filled the room: Listen and relax. Relax and obey. Obey and listen. Listen and relax.

“Turn it off,” Marisa said instantly. She locked eyes with Kat. Kat’s concerned look said, Did you feel something? Marisa gave a small shake of the head: No, just being safe.

Dustin shut off the playback. Kat asked him, “Is that all he says? Just repeats those three things over and over?” As she said this, she thought to herself, print voice.

“Probably not,” Dustin said. He pointed at the end of the file, where the shape of the spikes seemed to change. “It repeats for a while, but then it changes at the end. Don’t know what it says, didn’t have time.”

“Got it,” Marisa said. “Did you have time to listen to the other three layers?”

“Yeah,” Dustin said. He hit a key, and one of the three melodies filled the room.

“A Hammond organ,” Marisa said.

“Nah,” Dustin said. “That ain’t a Hammond.”

“Are you sure?” Kat said.

“I know what it sounds like,” Dustin said. “My grandpa owned every record Jimmy Smith ever put out. Whatever that thing is, it sounds so much like a Hammond organ that I thought it was, like, a trick question on the test. But it ain’t a Hammond.”

“So what is it?” Kat said.

“Dunno,” Dustin said. “Give me a day with that thing and maybe I could tell you.”

Marisa’s phone hit the floor with the rubbery clattering sound that all phone cases seem to make. Marisa started when she heard it, not even realizing how relaxed she’d gotten.

Turn it off,” Kat barked.

“Okay, okay, okay!” Dustin said, silencing the playback. Instinctively, Marisa looked at the clock: no time lost.

“Did you?” Kat said, not having to finish her sentence with the words go under.

“I’m fine,” Marisa said, picking up her phone.

“Know what I think?” Dustin said, then went on without waiting for an answer. “Guy who made that thing might not even be a musician.”

“What makes you say that?” Marisa said.

“He stole his theremin track,” Dustin said. “Most of the rest of it, you don’t need instruments, you can do it with Pro Tools. He might could be a mailman or a bus driver or—”

“Or a psychologist,” Kat said quietly.

* * *

They only had use of the studio until two PM. Dustin wanted to take the file home with him — the prospect of working on some “honest-to-God MK Ultra shit, like on YouTube,” had him fired up — but Marisa flatly refused. “You’ve got the job,” she said, which was true, followed by, “We’re going to let the professionals deal with this thing,” which was a lie.

Dustin supplied them with the separated tracks for each of the layers he had isolated (Kat insisted on taking them). After that, he left, and the two women sat together in the studio, knowing their conversation could not be overheard.

“What happened?” Kat said.

“It wasn’t trance,” Marisa said. “I felt relaxed, but my eyes never got heavy or anything like that. What does that mean?”

“I don’t know,” Kat said.

“We have to talk to a psychologist, right?” Marisa said. “I mean, you’re a good hypnotist, but if you knew about stuff like this you would have told me by now.”

“Yeah,” Kat said, although she wondered about that. If I did know about this, would I tell her? Or would I keep her in the dark to preserve her as bait? “We find a female PhD who can tell us what these organ tracks are supposed to do.”

As she’d was saying this, Marisa’s phone, sitting on the console, vibrated. She picked it up to look at the screen, and almost instantly Kat’s hypnotist-sense began to tingle. Marisa’s face did not go completely blank, the way it did when Kat suggested she enter an eyes-open trance, but something about her affect changed, in a way that only a lover would notice.

“I was gonna have lunch at Washington Square,” Marisa said slowly. “I can maybe try to find a professor at Gotham U.”

“Washington Square, huh?” Kat said, trying to sound casual. “Isn’t that a little out of your way?”

“Huh?” Marisa looked up, blinking curiously. “I mean yeah, it is, but Brad isn’t expecting me in the office today because of this interview. Might as well take advantage.”

“I would join you,” Kat said, “But I need to re-hide the thumb drive, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, definitely,” Marisa said. “I kept worrying that Dustin would play it by accident and we three would all just keel over.”

“Don’t think about that,” Kat said. “We’re being careful. We’re going to find this guy.”

Heading down in the elevator, Marisa said, “Are you sure it’s a guy? I mean, I think it probably is a guy also, but if we’re both wrong...”

“The voice on that vocal track,” Kat said. “It’s what journalists call a ‘print voice.’ You know what that means?”

Marisa shook her head.

“It’s an old joke,” Kat said. “From the days when journalists could have voices so bad that they couldn’t do news on TV or the radio. No artificial voice sounds like that, and our guy sure didn’t hire a voice professional. I would bet anything he recorded that subliminal message himself.”

They shared a brief kiss in the lobby of the building, and then Marisa left, heading south. Kat walked north ... but only for a few steps, before she turned around and began to follow her lover.

In the Times Square area, the sidewalks were crowded enough that Kat could follow safely from a half block away. She had to be more careful on the subway, and on the street between the subway stop and Washington Square, but she felt sure that Marisa hadn’t seen her.

At that time in the afternoon, Washington Square Park was even more crowded than Times Square. Tourists, trust-fund hipsters, GU students, retirees, the homeless, parents awkwardly bringing along their children, children awkwardly bringing along their parents, and hundreds of others who defied easy description.

Marisa approached this morass of humanity near the famous stone arch on the north side of the park. Though Kat could not see her face, she did not appear to be in trance; her gait seemed animated, not at all the heavy-legged walk she had when she was under. She carried no food, and Kat assumed that “lunch in the park” was just an excuse the hypnotist had planted in her mind. If asked now, she might not even remember that she had said it.

Marisa turned right before she passed through the arch, and walked west, down the path that circled the outer edge of the park. Kat had anticipated this. The center of the park was so crowded that, even there amongst a tapestry of humanity, it might look strange for a person to pick up their phone and fall into trance.

Marisa walked down the path. She was looking to her right, at the people sitting on the park benches. Would one of them be the hypnotist? Would he catch her eye and drop her into trance on the spot? Kat’s internal evil hypnotist decided this was unlikely. If he already had that level of power over her at this early stage, there would be much more aggressive techniques he would try instead.

A few steps past the children’s play area, Marisa stopped in the middle of the path, so abruptly that a man who was walking behind her bumped into her shoulder as he tried to get out of her way. Marisa did not seem to acknowledge that the bump had happened. She was still looking to the right, but no park bench was there.

Kat’s breath caught in her throat. She looked frantically for a spot on a nearby park bench, and found one next to an elderly white man who was asleep and snoring loudly. She looked back over at Marisa, who might have been thirty feet away.

Marisa looked left and right, until she seemed to notice that there was a park bench at her left side. She turned, walked over to that bench, and sat. Kat thought that she looked the same as when she had received the text in the studio: not in trance, but not exactly herself. Distant. If Marisa had looked to her right, from where she was sitting, she would have seen Kat sitting at the park bench and staring at her. Based on how intently Marisa was staring straight ahead, Kat thought the probability of Marisa spotting her was about the same as the chance of the sea swallowing Manhattan tomorrow.

A tricked-out Jeep, with the doors removed and the wheels covered in chrome, drove past on Washington Square North. Expensive speakers blared the Guns ‘N’ Roses song “Sweet Child of Mine” at an uncomfortably loud volume. The passengers, all shirtless white men, woo’d and shouted as students do in the throes of extreme drunkenness. Heads turned. People took pictures on their phones. An elderly man yelled “Go fuck yourselves!” at the passing vehicle.

Marisa took no notice whatsoever. As every head on her park bench swiveled to follow the vehicular manslaughter waiting to happen, her head remained pointed forward. There were heavy bushes at the park railing in front of her; she would have to stand up to see the sidewalk across the street. There was no park bench directly opposite hers. She was not looking at a person.

What is she looking at? What am I looking at?!

* * *

The man’s apartment had a balcony, with a sliding door. He laid on the floor, his body half in and half out of the balcony, his forehead parallel with the balcony’s edge. He peered over the edge with a pair of Zeiss field glasses.

On the call yesterday, he had specified a particular set of benches, directly opposite the small brownstone next to his building. The girl would be looking for that address. He couldn’t find her face online — or more accurately, she protected her online presence well enough that he couldn’t know which of the legion of Marisa Ivans brought up by his Google search was his — but he had a solid guess as to her age, based on how her trance voice sounded. If he didn’t see a woman of that age range staring intensely for the address of that brownstone by three PM, he would destroy all record of his interaction with her and start over with someone else.

There were a couple of potentials around a quarter of two PM, but then their heads would swivel and he would think, either she’s not the one, or the suggestion didn’t work. This was why he had chosen a park bench close to the jungle gym. The antics of hyperactive children, many of whom had adorable pets, would distract anyone who was not acting upon a deeply implanted suggestion.

The burner phone lay on the balcony floor next to him. It was open to an app named CallDesign that allowed him to play audio files over a phone call, with an option to mute that audio in his own earphones. The app was quite customizable, and he had done a lot of customizing. All that was required at this point was for him to tap the large red CALL icon at the bottom of the screen.

When she arrived, he was instantly certain. Her face remained firmly pointed toward the north, looking outside the park, in a way that no one ever did. When someone is in Washington Square Park, whether it be a tourist or a native New Yorker, they want to take in the spectacle of humanity inside the park.

He was trying to screw up his courage to call her — even seeing her blank face through the glasses, he still had doubts, as he had before calling yesterday — when he heard the Jeep drive past, music so loud that he could understand the lyrics from up here. The girl showed not the slightest response, and in that moment he was as sure as he could be.

He slipped in a pair of mic’d headphones and pressed CALL.

* * *

Kat watched as Marisa looked down at her phone. Moving slowly, she slipped in her earbuds and tapped the screen. A few seconds later, her chin sank sank down to her chest, only to bob halfway back up. Kat could see her lover’s eyes, opened to half-mast. She saw her thumbs begin to move in slow motion on the touchscreen.



Kat looked around, frantically. Marisa’s bench had two male-female couples talking to each other, so they could not be playing the music. Her own bench was the snoring man, a couple of middle-aged women chattering away in Spanish, and a young white man reading a paper copy of A Confederacy of Dunces. No calls originating here. She wondered about the children’s play area — the evil hypnotist in her head was just cunning enough to hide itself in plain sight amongst the kids — but every person above the age of ten in there looked to be female. There was a curve in the path up ahead, bushes lining both sides, so no other benches were in view of Marisa.

“Where is he?” Kat whispered. No one on her bench seemed to take notice. Her phone vibrated with another incoming text.


relaxed and receptive

She craned her neck to look at the green space behind Marisa’s park bench. This was not yet park-blanket weather, and there were only a few people sitting in the grass: couples and groups, all of them. He couldn’t be much farther away than that, right? Just seeing her head slightly bowed would not be enough to satisfy him. He would want to be close.



Kat considered just walking over to Marisa, sitting next to her, taking one earbud out, and eavesdropping on the call. It was possible that she was so deep in the trance that she would not even notice. But, Marisa’s eyes were half-open, so it was also possible that some part of her would notice, and would feel compelled to tell the hypnotist. Couldn’t risk it.


twenty seven

He had asked her age. Would she give away her ATM code, or something even worse? Was the effect of the demo file that strong?


no i live with my girlfriend kat

Kat’s blood ran cold.

* * *

The phone rang a few times more than he expected. She was moving slowly to answer it, and when she finally did, she said “Marisa Ivan” in a much slower voice than yesterday.

The man smiled. Following the suggestions had put her half in a trance already. Had he lucked into a somnambulist on his first try? He tapped the icon in CallDesign that would play the music. He counted to twenty, then lowered the volume on the music and said, “How are you feeling, Marisa?”

The same long pause as she’d had before answering him on the last call. He studied her face as intensely as he could, the expensive field glasses making her appear to be as close as his own front door. Her features were blank, the head tipped halfway forward. He saw her lips move, and a half-second later the voice on the other end of the connection said, “Relaxed and receptive.”

“That’s wonderful, Marisa. You’re doing so well, feeling so relaxed and receptive. You may find it more relaxing to tell me some things about yourself, Marisa. Would you like to tell me some things about yourself?”

Another pause. The face remained blank. If he had looked at her hands, he would have seen the thumbs typing and swiping, but the Zeiss glasses were powerful enough to isolate her face from this distance, and that was all he cared about. The lips moved, and the dreamy phone voice said, “Yes.”

The pauses still puzzled him, but he was almost certain that she was not faking. She was simply too inert. Fakers couldn’t stay still like this, the mere act of faking caused too much tension. “How old are you, Marisa?”

Another pause, like clockwork. “Twenty-seven,” she said, speaking slow enough that the numbers sounded like separate words.

“Do you have a husband, Marisa? Or a boyfriend?”

Pause, longer this time. “No,” she said distantly. “I live with my girlfriend, Kat.” Through the glasses he saw her lips curve. The mere thought of her girlfriend made her smile.

The man was filled with irrational rage. I find the perfect subject and she turns out to be a lesbian! All manner of grade-school slurs ran through his brain, and there was a moment when he thought that he would scream them aloud into the phone. But something blocked his rage, bottling it and leaving it unable to find its way from his brain to his lips. As it had been blocked in grade school.

“What job does Kat have?” the man asked. He knew, from painful experience prior to his development of The System, that the question What does Kat do? was too vague.

“She’s unemployed.” The dreamy voice struggled with the syllable-heavy word.

“What job did Kat have before she was unemployed?”


“What does Kat write?”

“She was a journalist for a while.” Another long pause. “Then she wrote recaps of TV shows.”

Well, that’s all right, the man thought. He had nothing but contempt for both television and criticism, and could not imagine a world in which his years of labor could be undone by someone who had embraced both.

In that moment, the man felt he was indestructible. The only complication was that she was gay; he knew very little about such things and it did not fit into his plan. Still, at that moment The System seemed so powerful that even her orientation felt like a thing he could eventually change.

* * *

As text after text appeared on her screen, Marisa telling this strange and probably insane hypnotist more things than Kat would have wanted him to know, Kat filled up with doubt.

Did I read him all wrong? Maybe he doesn’t care about seeing her in person. Maybe he is just going to pick her brain for all useful information and then use it against her. Christ, this bait thing was so stupid and it’s going to ruin both of our lives.

How to stop it? She could call Marisa’s phone, pretend that the toilet was broken or some fucking thing. But she could imagine the man’s voice saying, The call is not important, and Marisa letting it ring until Kat’s phone ran out of battery.

Kat tilted her head back, rolling her eyes skyward. She was not a particularly religious person, but pleading to the heavens for help has been a thing that human beings have done since the first and most intelligent apes on the pre-historic plains learned to walk upright. And this was how she saw the apartment building across the street, a modern red-brick-glass-and-steel behemoth that looked brand new.

The apartment building had balconies. At least a dozen that she could see, and probably more.

The realization hit Kat like a thunderbolt: She was never looking at anything! He’s looking at her!

There was no one standing on the balconies that Kat could see, so he was probably in one of the non-balcony apartments. Watching with a telescope or a pair of binoculars. That was how he knew his shit was working. He saw her blank face and he knew he could ask her anything.

Why would he do this? Expose where he lives like that?

Well, he only just now had learned that he had another person to worry about besides Marisa. He didn’t know, and would not expect, that the person was a hypnotist. And maybe he didn’t live up there, just had use of one of the apartments somehow.

Does he see her texting? No. Or he sees, but he doesn’t understand what it means. Because if he did he would have asked about it, and she would have told him.

Kat wanted to break into a dead run. But at the last second she reminded herself that the man was looking down, and even if he was focused on Marisa, he might notice a woman sprinting across the street. Instead she stood up and walked, as fast as she could manage without looking panicked, out of the park.

She needed to know the hypnotist’s address.

* * *

The man had rolled onto his back as he asked more questions: how long had she and Kat been dating, where did they live, and the like. He no longer needed to see Marisa Ivan’s trance face. He massaged his erection has he heard her distant voice and imagined the blank face in his mind.

He needed to deepen his control over her, and the significant other was an obstacle. He had planned for a boyfriend, but he supposed the lover’s gender made no difference. Maybe a girlfriend could be even better, because...

“Marisa,” he said into the microphone, “would you play the demo for Kat?”

Pause. “I,” the voice said, and then another pause.

The man rolled back over onto his belly and raised the Zeiss glasses. The girl had cocked her head. Her shoulders were moving enough for him to see through the glasses, which meant she was breathing hard.

If she could resist me, she would not have told me about the girlfriend. She’s confused.

“Can’t,” Marisa said. She sounded less dreamy. He could hear strain in her voice.

“You’re doing so very well, Marisa. Relaxed and receptive. Relaxed and receptive. Relaxed and receptive.”

“Relaxed. Receptive.” Her chin dropped all the way to her chest. The man wanted to shift his position, his erection trapped uncomfortably between his belly and the concrete floor of the balcony, but after hearing the strain in her voice he dared not take his eyes off her again.

“Marisa, why can’t you play the demo for Kat?”

“Kat ... hid it.”

At once the man’s feeling of invincibility crumbled. He strained to keep his voice calm. “Why did Kat hide the demo, Marisa?”

“She thinks it’s ... dangerous.”

The weather was cool, typical of early April in New York, but the man could feel himself begin to sweat. “Why does Kat think the demo is dangerous, Marisa?”

“She heard it and almost went into trance.”

Cold droplets running down his sides. His penis had gone flaccid. “Why does Kat think it was a trance, Marisa?”

* * *

Kat wrote the building’s address down on paper, and put it into her phone as well. She thought she would want multiple copies of this.

There was a doorman. Kat thought about approaching him. But it was a big building, with lots of tenants. He might not know every single occupant by name, and even if he did, she knew nothing about the guy she was looking for. What would she say? Excuse me, sir, I’m looking for an evil psychologist and I think he lives in this building...

Kat turned to leave, and jumped backward a full foot.

Marisa was walking towards her.

The green eyes were blank, staring right through Kat, the building, and the isle of Manhattan itself. She moved slowly, with heavy legs. The wireless earbuds were in, the phone probably stowed in her purse.

Eyes-open trance, Kat’s instincts told her. Forget about fractionation, he’s skipping straight to the end.

Later, what would keep Kat awake at night was her first thought in that moment. Marisa fifteen feet away and closing, the hypnotist’s hooks fully in her, and Kat’s first thought was, If I let him have her, I’ll know who he is. Said in the evil-hypnotist tone her inner voice adopted when she was planning scenes.

It sounded like a decent plan long enough for Marisa to take two steps. Then, Kat’s inner voice of reason reasserted itself. And then she loses her fucking job because she skips work to be brainwashed, you lose the condo because you can’t pay the mortgage, and when you call the cops to his place she meets them at the door and offers them cookies and milk!

The mental image of Marisa smiling brightly at the police and saying, Everything’s fine, Officers shattered Kat’s indecision. She took three steps forward, putting herself into Marisa’s personal space. She reached toward Marisa’s neck, grabbed the cord that connected the two wireless earbuds, and yanked on it as hard as she could.

The earbuds came out with audible, meaty, popping sounds. The rubber covers that protected the ear from the metal speakers went flying. Marisa cried out, hands instinctively going to her head.

“OW! Why the hell ... Kat? What are you doing h... where am...”

“Come on, Ris,” Kat said, “Let’s go home.” She put an arm around Marisa’s shoulders and guided her away from the building. Marisa, still dazed and suggestible, did not object.

* * *

Kat did not try to wake Marisa as they walked. She thought it make take too much time, and she wanted to get away from the hypnotist’s building as quickly as possible. She paid the price for this decision on the subway platform.

As the train rumbled into the station, Marisa started to shake, so violently that the word Kat would have used to describe it was vibrating. Tears began to stream from her eyes. “Red,” she whispered in a shaky voice. “This is red, red, red…”

Kat pulled her into an embrace, burying Marisa’s face into her shoulder as Marisa began to sob the word “red” over and over. Kat couldn’t break the embrace to get on the train, so she shuffled awkwardly through the doors and into the subway car, pulling Marisa along with her.

It was still early enough in the afternoon that the train was not so busy. Kat was able to find two adjacent seats, and Marisa’s audible discomfort drove away the guy in the Hold Steady T-shirt who would have been sitting next to them. Heads turned, but no one offered to help and no one took pictures on their phones. She held Marisa tight, whispering into her ear, “It’s all right, it’s going to be all right” over and over.

They boarded the train at 4th Street; it was not until around 42nd Street that Marisa’s sobs began to subside. By 59th Street, Marisa had quieted enough that Kat finally thought to take out her phone, to see the last message:


kat trances me all the time