Manners Maketh Man
When I first got my powers, I’m pretty sure I was a good person.
Don’t get me wrong, I still took advantage of people. But I used to justify it to myself—“Yes, I’m fucking a flight attendant, but I just prevented that dictator from eradicating a village.” What’s two hours of a stewardess’s time, compared to hundreds of lives?
Nowadays…well, I still fuck my fair share of flight attendants. But I don’t even bother justifying it any more.
If I want it, I take it.
That’s the thing about human nature—you suppress one dictator’s urges, a dozen more pop up in their place. Who can even say if I made a difference? Maybe the two dozen I stopped would ultimately have been better for humanity than the hundreds who followed.
There are infinite people on the planet. More than I’ll ever encounter, anyway—even with my infinite lifespan. I used to find that frustrating; like a treadmill I could never leave, trying to improve the world, never able to make a substantive difference.
Nowadays, I enjoy it. The world is my toy box, and I have an infinite supply of playthings.
It was mid-afternoon when I visited the Vaughns. A quick scan told me everything I needed to know—mother, father, three children. The perfect nuclear family.
Colin was the father, and the bread-winner of the family. He’d just gotten home from the gym; Colin wasn’t a large man, but he was dripping with sweat. His shirt told me that he engaged in “Crossfit”, whatever that was; I’d heard the term a few times, but never bothered to look into it any further. When you’ve been around as long as I have, the coming and going of fads is easy enough to ignore.
He had two sons and a daughter. The daughter was off with his wife; some kind of interstate tournament. That just left him, me, and two teenaged boys for the weekend.
I walked into the living-room; the look of confusion on his face quickly replaced by familiarity. I had decided to write myself into their minds as a distant relative, an uncle or a second cousin. Someone that the entire family trusted, which is why they’d brought me in to deal with the problem they were having:
“Thanks so much for coming by,” Colin said, reaching out his hand. I drew him into a hug; he stiffened slightly at the male-on-male contact and ended the embrace as quickly as he possibly could. I briefly wondered if his reticence was because of his sweat, or if there was a layer of homophobia lurking under the surface.
By the end of the weekend, any issues Colin had with homosexuality would be well and truly gone.
“It’s my pleasure,” I said with a smile. “Where is he?”
“Upstairs,” Colin said, his awkwardness replaced by parental concern. “I…”
He hesitated, continuing only after a slight push.
“I’m just embarrassed, I guess. It feels like we’ve failed our sons, you know?”
Not yet, Colin. I thought with glee. Not yet.
Colin’s oldest, Mark, was upstairs. His brother Michael was out at football practice; this was one of the most athletic families I’d ever encountered. Mark was alone, probably lifting weights or getting ready for a marathon. Maybe applying for the Olympics.
One nudge later, Mark was bounding down the stairs, smiling as he saw me.
“Heya uncle,” he said, and I stifled a laugh at how closely his awkward reaction to my hug mirrored his father’s. After releasing him from the embrace, I gestured for him to sit down.
He obeyed without hesitation.
“Mark,” I said solemnly, “I think you know why I’m here.”
Shame crossed his face as his memories were quickly rewritten.
“Yes,” he said quietly. “I know.”
Colin took a seat beside him, and the pair of them turned to me, willingly waiting for whatever solutions I could suggest.
“It’s very serious,” I said, leaning on my cane. “You’re just lucky your father reached out to me when he did.”
“Of course,” Mark said, unable to make eye contact.
“What do we say?”
Another nudge, and Mark’s attitude changed. Gone was the contrite look, replaced by a roll of the eyes.
The teen boy turned to stare defiantly at his father.
Colin turned to me, a look of despair on his face.
“Do you see what I’m talking about? I just…I just don’t know what to do.”
“Well,” I said, “fortunately, this is an area I have some experience with.”
I paused for a second, reveling in the array of possibilities in front of me. In some ways, this was the sweetest part of the conquest. Right now, for the last time in their lives, this family man and his respectable teenage son were good people. Not perfect, but moral. Pure.
For the last time.
I quickly decided on the path I was going to take, and started rewriting the pair of them as I spoke.
“Mark, this is starting to get out of hand. You’re a young man living in a fine part of the country. You need to understand: manners matter.”
I couldn’t help but grin. The kid was so clean-cut; even after being rewritten to behave badly, he couldn’t bring himself to say ‘fuck’.
“I’m so sorry,” Colin started, but I held up a hand to silence him.
“Mark, this is your last chance. Are you going to learn some manners?”
I sighed, and turned to the boy’s father.
“Colin, this is worse than I thought. Your son has a real problem. He doesn’t seem to understand the basics of common courtesy, and has a real attitude problem. I assume you know what this means.”
The confused look on Colin’s face told me that he didn’t. Not that it was really his fault; I hadn’t given him the answer.
“Without a solid foundation of manners, your son will likely never get a job. He could end up on the streets, addicted to drugs. I’ve seen it happen before. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ don’t even seem to be in his vocabulary—at this rate, there’s really no limit to how low he could sink.”
Colin didn’t reply, but the look of horror in his eyes said it all.
“What’s worse, it seems pretty clear to me that this is your fault. You’ve failed him as a parent, as a role model.”
As I was talking, I was rewriting the boy. He was no longer an all-American sports-doer like the rest of them; now, he was a nerd. Lanky, awkward. His muscles shriveled as the words left my mouth, and a slight overbite appeared.
By the time I was done, Mark wouldn’t have been out of place in a show about the geekiest of the geeks.
“That’s why he is the way he is,” I concluded. “Because of you.”
“Fortunately, there’s a solution.”
“What is it?”
I paused, steepling my fingers, and maintaining eye contact with the concerned father.
“It’s pretty extreme.”
“Anything,” Colin pleaded. I couldn’t deny that I was a little impressed; I hadn’t implanted this level of concern, it was all natural. The man was a good father, it seemed.
“Very well,” I continued, glancing at Mark. He’d been following the conversation with interest, peering at us through his thick glasses. “Your son has to learn manners; the easiest way is to show him what proper manners can accomplish.”
“Waste of time,” Mark scoffed.
“Show him how?”
“Well, show him that by being polite, he can get more done. If your son asks you something politely, you should do it.”
Mark went to interrupt, but instead sat back and continued listening silently. I could tell his interest was piqued.
Now I was tempted to roll my eyes. Everyone in this family had more muscles than brains, it seemed.
“If your son says please, do as he says. It’s that simple.”
“Oh,” Colin said.
I gave him some time to consider what I was asking, and moved my attention to Mark. Probing his memories, I could see that he was a good kid. No girlfriend, but he wasn’t a virgin. Solid grades, no deviant tendencies that I could detect. Straight, of course.
That would be the first thing to go. It would just be men this weekend; a single mental prod was all it took to reverse Mark’s position on Kinsey scale. Where he’d once liked boobs, he would now be a butt man, now and forever.
Of course, that wouldn’t be enough by itself. Rather than tweak his individual proclivities, I just gave him a single overriding fetish: incest. All of Mark’s memories of cumming over swimsuit issues of Sports Illustrated (or whatever it was that teenagers masturbated to these days) were replaced by fantasies of taking his father, his brother, his various male cousins—I even added myself into the mix.
I changed the kid’s entire sexual history. For as long as he could remember, he’d been masturbating while thinking about his family members. He’d now lost his virginity to a man who reminded him of Colin, and insisted on calling him ‘Daddy’ the entire time. He would regularly sneak into his brother’s room to sniff his jock strap, and even listened to his parents having sex, just to hear his father’s moans of pleasure.
I tied his problem with manners into his fetish—it had become a way of masking his feelings. If he said please, he was worried that it would devolve into him begging his father to take off his pants, begging his brother to let him drop to his knees in front of him, begging them to take him from both angles. He was aware of how inferior he was, compared to his family. He was a scrawny pile of bones, surrounded by muscle-bound hunks.
It turned him on like nothing else.
At his heart, Mark was a good kid. I decided to keep that—maybe because I’m a softie, or maybe because I wanted to see how far an implanted fetish could push a genuinely decent person.
He’d spent the last ten years struggling with a dark secret. Now…he had all the power.
“What do you say, Colin?” I asked, knowing that the answer wouldn’t really matter. He would ultimately do as I commanded; I just find it more fun if they get there by themselves.
“I’m in,” he eventually announced, turning to Mark.
To his credit, the kid managed to mask his reaction. Reaching into his brain, I could tell that he was excited by the possibilities ahead of him. Dubious, of course, but excited.
If he were a smarter kid, maybe Mark would have realized that ‘teaching your son manners’ would typically preclude ‘bobbing up and down his cock’. Hell, if he were much brighter, maybe he would have realized the ramifications of even trying to turn the situation sexual.
But as far as he was concerned, this was something he’d been fantasizing about for ten years, and even with his new nerdy exterior, he was just dumb enough to take advantage of the situation.
“Please,” Colin said, ironically using the word that would soon be controlling him. “Mark. Son. It’s really important that you learn the importance of good manners. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
“Yeah yeah,” Mark said, his voice high and nasal. “Whatever, Dad.”
“I’m serious. C’mon, kid. Give it a try?”
“Whatever,” he said, throwing me a glance.
I bid the pair adieu and told them I’d be back the next day. I didn’t want my presence to influence what was going to happen next.
From their point of view, I departed. In reality, I sat down in a big armchair in the corner, and waited.
I’ve been doing this for almost half a century, and if nothing else, it’s taught me patience. Once upon a time, I would have pushed Mark, eliminated all hesitation, and mentally forced him to cut to the chase.
Patience, however, has its rewards.