The Mask becomes You
“St—Stacy!” I stammer, unconsciously flattening my dress and checking my hair. At the same time I drink her in like I’ve been stranded in the desert for a week, she looks incredible. She’s curled her short auburn hair so it flows in waves down to her bare slender shoulders. I’ve only ever seen her wear her purple and black corset once before as part of a halloween costume. I didn’t even know she still had it, and without the green wig and fake fingers it’s a dream come true on her body, molding her figure into perfection. Her tight black jeans with the large silver buckled belt complete the look, and I notice a swirl in my chest and a shortness of breath that I’ve only ever felt once before… It’s a moment etched into my mind, when Stacy wore the mask at the start of the week.
But she certainly isn’t wearing it now. Her cheeks flush bright red as her eyes start to gloss up. She blinks and looks from side to side, before muttering “Sorry to interrupt” and strides briskly from the room.
“Oh… That’s Stacy…” Felicity turns back to me, understanding dawning across her features.
“Yeah.” I say hoarsely, “come on.” I say, making to go after Stacy, but Felicity grabs my arm.
“Goddess…” she says softly. “She wouldn’t want me there. You should go speak to her alone.”
I sigh deeply. “Yeah, you’re right. Ok, you need to go fix your makeup, it kinda ran.”
“Oh, oh yeah it would have.” Felicity says absent mindedly. “My handbag was stolen…”
“Shit. Right. Well, maybe we c—“
“I’ll be alright, Goddess.” Felicity says kindly. “You go talk to Stacy, see if you can work things out. I’ll figure myself out, then go dance with Aileen or something.”
“Ok.” I say soberly. No avoiding this, then, and no hiding behind my slave.
“You’ll be fine. Just… Be yourself.” Felicity smiles at my with such pure joy that it fills me with resolve. She slowly walks away, but then turns and cocks her head. “Say, Goddess?” she asks, a cheeky smile starting to form on her lips.
“Yes…?” I reply cautiously.
“Do you mind if I dance with, flirt with, and maybe kiss a few other girls? I think it might mess with Aileen’s head if I do.”
I laugh and nod my head. “Go nuts, Felicity.”
She gives me one last devilish grin before spinning away and out of the room. I clench my fists briefly, steel myself, and go looking for Stacy.
It doesn’t take long to find her. She’s in the massive kitchen at the island counter pouring ingredients into a cocktail shaker. It feels like several iron vices tighten across my chest as I get near, and I’m like the living embodiment of Zeno’s paradox with each step I take towards her. My throat dries, my hands clam up, and I swear I spontaneously develop an odd tic in my left knee. Most of all, I feel powerless. At least the kitchen is otherwise deserted so there are no witnesses to my terrified demeanour.
“Hey, Tara” Stacy says casually, glancing up at me for less than half a moment before focusing her concentration on shaking her cocktail with gusto.
“Hey” is all I can manage in reply. I wonder if Stacy would be patient enough to wait for thirty seconds so I can try and string a sentence together. Luckily for me, she keeps on talking.
“So by the looks of the sheer ridiculous amount of liquor here, I reckon I could make you literally any cocktail that’s been invented anywhere in the world. What’s your poison?”
I glance around the kitchen. She’s not wrong. There are bottles on the counter tops, on the table, on the island. Not one but two kegs of beer sit next to a pile of those red plastic cups you always find at every party ever. I imagine all three fridges will be fully stocked, and even the wine rack has been raided.
“Ummm, huh” I stall. I’ve never been one for cocktails. But fruit juice and spirits, right? Sounds like a good combination to me. I try to think of a cocktail name I actually know. “Uhh, sex on the beach?”
“No thank you, but what would you like to drink?” Stacy says quickly in reply.
“Oh, no, I me—”
“I know, Tara, it was a joke!” Stacy looks up at me properly for the first time since I entered, her look of amused disbelief is like a balm, and I feel myself relax slightly.
“Oh! Right, of course!” I say, trying not to physically cringe at my own awkwardness. “What’s actually in sex on the beach?” I ask.
“No idea.” Stacy replies as she pours her own concoction into a glass. “But my phone has all the answers. Now where were those adorable paper umbrellas… Aha! Now, this” she says triumphantly, holding up her finished drink, “is a tequila sunrise.”
“Nice!” I say, finding my ability to smile nervously returning to me.
I watch her make my cocktail, completely at a loss of what to say next. She glances up towards me several times, I can only imagine how pathetic she must be finding me just staring at her like this. The drum beats of the band finishing a song and the cacophony of cheers and whoops that follow are the only sounds I hear apart from the clinks and pours of Stacy’s careful work.
“So…” Stacy pierces the silence hanging between us. “I was kinda surprised to see you here. It’s not really your crowd.”
“Yeah.” I agree. “It’s really not. It was Felicity’s idea, apparently she’s in with this crowd.”
“Ah, Felicity.” Stacy repeats in a neutral tone. “She looks lovely.”
“Yeah, well, I guess.” I murmur uncertainly. I curse at myself in my head. I swear I know how to use words. I’ve had enough practise. “You look fantastic.” I manage.
“Thanks,” Stacy says before turning away sharply, apparently to find another ingredient for my drink, though I swear I saw her start to smile as she did so.
“So who do you know from here?” I ask her as casually as I can. I’m genuinely surprised to see her here, after all.
“Oh… Erm…” Stacy suddenly clams up. Interesting. “Some guy I met in class actually, Chad, um, Chad Simon, he invited me, he’s a friend of John whose house it is. He seems like a nice guy. Here’s your drink by the way.” She hands me the cocktail glass with a delicious looking orange drink within.
“Oh, ok, cool.” I say, taking a sip of my drink. Don’t ask about David, I think, definitely don’t bring up—“So what about David?” I say. Oh my god I’m going to have to gag myself at this rate!
“Oh! Yeah, David.” Stacy’s cheeks are flushing again now. She takes a large sip from her cocktail. “I guess I just wasn’t feeling it for David. He’s a nice guy…” she then downs the rest of the cocktail. “But I guess I really knew that you told home to ask me out… With your mask.”
Okay, I quickly think. Firstly, I hope I didn’t let my eyes pop as wide open as I felt I did, because that would be the worse poker face in history. Second, do I just dig in to a denial trench and hope Stacy believes me? Thirdly, why do I ever listen to myself…
“Ok, yeah. I did that.” I say, my lips tightly pursed as if I could keep my guilt sealed in that way. “I’m sorry.” I add, only barely able to stop myself from dropping my gaze to the floor.
“Thank you.” Stacy says in a serious tone. I sigh and almost smile at this. “Thank you for admitting to it. Thank you for apologising. And I also know you meant well when you did it, so thank you for that too.”
A relieved smile sweeps across my face, and Stacy smiles in return.
“You’re welcome.” I say, finding it hard to contain just how happy I suddenly feel. I take a triumphant sip from my cocktail and the bands receive more cheers in the next room. Good timing.
“And look…” Stacy adds, ducking her head slightly and glancing up at me with those beautiful jade eyes of hers. I listen intently.
“I asked you for space, and you gave me space. I just want you to know that I really appreciate that, and that I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too!” I say, tears suddenly forming to mingle with my stupidly wide smile.
“Like, I feel like maybe us both being at this party is mean to be a sign or something…” Stacy says. Before I can reply about half a dozen people enter the kitchen, talking loudly as they grab armfuls of alcohol, hopefully taking some of it to other people. Stacy and I both wave hello and proceed to be ignored by everyone. I almost laugh at this. Story of our lives...
“Why don’t you finish your cocktail and we’ll grab some beers, find somewhere to catch up?” Stacy suggests. My heart fills with joy at the idea, and despite feeling like a giddy child I manage to keep my cool and say “Sure, sounds good.”
I down the rest of my cocktail (fruity goodness, yum) while Stacy picks out a couple of large beers from one of the fridges. Oh! Asahi! She pops the caps and hands me one, then I follow her from the room. We decide to try upstairs, seeing as the party seems mostly contained to the ground floor. Sure enough, after ascending a grand carpeted staircase that makes me feel like royalty, we come to an empty corridor stretching away down both wings of the house. There are more stairs leading up to the top floor, but I’m fairly sure we’ll find somewhere decent on this level. The doors in the corridors are all unlocked, some leading to bathrooms or lounges, the rest to bedrooms. We pick a bedroom that’s two doors down from the staircase but leave the door half open so we can hear if people are coming.
The room, like the rest of the mansion, is lavishly decorated. Dark reds and oranges give it a very autumn feel. There are more cushions and pillows on the bed than is at all reasonable, and I find myself scoffing involuntarily. Stacy takes a seat on a reddish brown sofa that’s sat next to a vanity unit and signals to me to join her.
When I sit she holds her beer up and says giddily “To scrounging off the much better off than us!”
I laugh and clink my bottle against hers. We both swig and laugh again. I feel desperately afraid that something will ruin the moment, but I do my best to enjoy it anyway.
After our giggles die down, we each look nervously around the room, glancing at the decorations and the expensive looking furniture. I daren’t make eye contact with her. The sound of the band is muffled up here, the loudest noise is Stacy’s soft breathing from next to me.
“So…” Stacy finally says. I anxiously turn to her. Her beautiful face wears an expression of nervousness. “Did you bring it?”
My hands instinctively clutch tightly over my handbag. Stacy sees this, and then she looks back up at me, and a sadness enters her eyes.
“I almost lost it tonight…” I say, hoping to steer the conversation away on a tangent. “Felicity and I were mugged on the edge of campus.”
“Oh my god Tara! Are you ok?” Stacy grabs my arm as her sadness melts away, replaced by a deep concern.
“Yeah, I’m ok.” I lie. I still feel shaken by it, but I know if I let myself feel all the emotions I bottled up, I’ll have to go and fix my own makeup after. “They grabbed Felicity’s bag from me and just ran, it was just so sudden, you know?”
“Do you think they were after the mask?” she asks, her eyes wide.
“No.” I quickly reply, “No one knows I have the mask that I don’t control.” I then realise something, and add, “Apart from you.”
“Well, you know I want nothing to do with it.” Stacy glances anxiously down at my handbag again. “Honestly, I’m feeling uncomfortable being this close…”
“Oh, sorry!” I say, putting my handbag down on the other side of the sofa from her.
“It’s ok… But are you sure no one else knows?”
“Yes.” I reply, although now I feel doubt seep through my mind. “I mean, I don’t know how anyone else could know. I only bring it out indoors, and only when I’m going to control someone.”
Stacy shudders, fear and sadness back in her eyes, though the rest of her expression is as neutral as she can manage. “So… Are you here to control everyone at the party?”
“No.” I say guiltily, “Just one person.”
“Oh… ok…” Stacy trails off, looking away again. She wants to say something else, I can feel it.
“What? What is it?” I ask.
“No, it’s nothing Tara, it’s ok.” She shakes her head, then looks away.
A flash of anger snaps across my mind. Stacy would never have kept anything from me in the past, so she shouldn’t now. I should use the mask and make her talk, I think, and I feel my hand creep towards my handbag. God, why am I trying so hard to be all friendly with her? I’ve ruined our friendship. I knocked it to its knees when I kissed David on the green, then I executed it without mercy when I decided to keep the mask and used it on Stacy to stop her from ever wanting it. I should have made her forget ever knowing it exists. If I had just used my power the way I could have she wouldn’t have been avoiding me, she wouldn’t be acting so sad and hurt. Her smiles wouldn’t be so rare, so reserved.
She’s missed me, and I’ve missed her. I’ve used it on her before, why not again? Why not use it on her one more time so I never have to do so again? I’ll put things right between us… I’ll make her be the friend she always was to me. It’ll be perfect, and we’ll both be happier.
I don’t remember taking it out, but the mask is in my hands now. I need only put it to my face. Stacy looks down and sees it. She exhales a long breath and then looks me directly in the eyes, her face emotionless and inscrutable. I stare into those mesmerizing jade green eyes of hers and see complexity and conflict beyond my ability to understand. I know that some of the thoughts of using the mask on Stacy have been deeply embedded by the mask itself, but some are also my own. Stacy isn’t even going to try and stop me or look away. There’s a sort of grim acceptance in her unwavering stoicism.
She’s ready to become my slave. My hands shake as I raise the mask to my face. I don’t think I’m ready to do this, but my hands keep moving anyway. I can feel the mask in my head, an exhilaration that seeps into my thoughts. It wants this so much that I overwhelmingly feel that I want it to. Images of Stacy serving me flash through my mind, overtaking my sight, my thoughts, my entire sense of reality. She’s kneeling for me, stripping for me, presenting herself entirely for my enjoyment, the words “I’m yours, Goddess” parting from her perfect lips in an ultimate declaration of love and obedience.
She will be more than a slave, she will be my everything... I’ll love her, taste her, keep her, cherish her, fuck her, dominate her, use her, own her. She’ll be so completely mine it’ll be like she’s an extension of my will. She’ll help me on every part of my journey to enslave more and more helpless souls, soothing their chaotic freedom with blissful obedience. I see Stacy standing by my side for the entire journey, as hundreds, then thousands, then millions, and finally billions kneel at my command and worship me like the Goddess I am.
This entire world will be mine, I resolve. I shall break it, consume it, dominate it, and rebuild it in my image. Violence, discrimination, hatred and fear would all be quenched from the human spirit. All will for the first time be truly equal, all serving their Goddess with identical zeal and compassion. No one would go hungry, all they would crave would be to serve.
The mask hovers from my face, a foot away now. My own sight returns, and I see Stacy still staring at me, waiting to join me. She wants this, she needs this. I know this with so much certainty, and it’s that lack of any doubt whatsoever that give the thought away.
The mask wants Stacy, and it’s making me think Stacy wants to be taken by the mask. I still know myself, and I still I know that I don’t want to enslave her.
Stacy is my line. Stacy is my limit. Most of all, Stacy is my friend.
My hands stop, and I hold the mask still mere inches from my face. Dread and guilt slam into me. The mask is angry. I start to feel a dull pain at the back of my skull, increasing at an alarming pace. Nausea starts to sneak up on me, and it feels like my entire body is starting to rebel against what I know I want. The urge to comply, to feel all the unpleasant feelings be washed away by euphoria and pleasure is dizzying. I feel like I have seconds before the sensations explode from unpleasant to out and out torture. My will strains, but my hands remain with the mask suspended in front of me, albeit shakily.
My breathing increases in pace and depth, but I keep my eye contact with Stacy’s unflinching gaze. As best as I try to hide it, she sees my struggle. It feels like she can see into my very soul, where my own will wrestles desperately with the mask’s. I’m outmatched, overwhelmed, and barely holding on to my control. It feels like the power of the mask is digging into every corner of my mind, and I sense its smugness as it increases it’s onslaught. Beads of sweat appear on my forehead. I’m fighting, fighting so hard and losing. I can’t speak, I can’t scream at Stacy to run, to close her eyes, to save herself from me. But I knew that even if I did, she wouldn’t flinch. She’ll watch me fight and watch me lose and then I’ll enslave her soul and bind her to my will, or should I say the mask’s will.
Stacy smiles softly and places a hand gently on my cheek. She has the face of an angel, and the touch of a saint. She can tell. She can tell how hard I’m fighting for her, and I can feel her own joy at my effort pouring out of her. Like electricity flowing into me through her hand, strength and resolve fill me up. The mask’s assault on my mind doesn’t get any less unbearable, but I suddenly feel like I tower over it. My reinforced will drowns out the mask’s influence like a blazing fire being doused by a flood of icy water.
I smile back at Stacy, a winning smirk, because I know I’ve got this. I look at the mask with a mixture of pity and disappointment. All that strength, all that power, and yet it looks so flimsy, so fragile. It keeps on trying to overwhelm my will, but it keeps on failing, and I could snap it in two in a heartbeat. And, almost to my surprise, I find that I’m willing to.
The pain in my mind instantly vanishes, swiftly followed by the nausea, then the guilt and dread. All I’m left with is a faint sense of apology as I effortlessly place the mask back into my bag. I then raise my hand to Stacy’s hand, still on my cheek, and close my eyes, sighing deeply with contentment and relief. I open my eyes to see Stacy beaming at me, her expression joyful and elated.
We both go to speak at once, and out words jumble into incoherence. We laugh and then both insist the other go first, and keep laughing at our verbal collision. I can barely contain the gratitude I need to convey to her. More than once, it’s Stacy that has granted me the strength to resist the mask. I don’t know how to express to her how much she means to me, but there will never be a better moment to try.
More than that, I need to find some way to tell her that I’ve barely been able to stop thinking about her. I’ve realized that I don’t just want us to go back to being friends... I want more. I want her. I want to kiss those lips and feel her hands on me. I want to stroke her hair and run my fingers under her clothes, unwrap the perfection within and lose myself in her irresistible body. And most of all, I want it to happen because we both want it to, not because I used the mask to manifest my will.
But we’ve only ever been friends. I’ve never felt this intensely before about anyone, and I’m terrified that telling Stacy will mean losing her again. Will she want to be around me knowing that I’ve started to undress her with my eyes and fantasize about her ruby lips? Will she need more space? Will she tell me she could never feel the same? An entire fluttering of butterflies have set up shop in my stomach as I try to process my words as our laughter together subsides.
“Ok, ok! You go!” I manage. I need the time, and I want to know what Stacy has to say.
Stacy breathes deeply, trying to calm the last of her giggles. Her eyes dart about everywhere, and finally settle on me, full of nervousness. What could she possibly have to say that’s making her look as anxious as I feel?
She opens her mouth to speak, but is interrupted by the sound of sobbing at the door.
“I’m sorry!” a distressed girl in a beautiful green dress with curly brown hair says. Her eye makeup has spilled down her entire face, and she blubbers more apologies before turning to leave.
Stacy quickly glances back to me and frowns questioningly. I grit my teeth and nod at her. I’m sure whatever we were about to get into can wait—the girl needs some support.
“Wait!” Stacy calls after her, jumping to her feet and catching up. “It’s okay, what’s wrong?”
The girl turns back to us, wiping her tear stained cheek, and shakes her head. “No, it’s okay, I should just go be alone.”
“Nonsense!” Stacy insists, putting an arm around her shoulder and guiding her to the couch to sit between her and myself. “You’re going to tell us what’s wrong, and I bet you we can make you feel better...”
The girl nods meekly and Stacy hands her a tissue from the nearby vanity unit, keeping the box nearby.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Angela” she sniffs, head bowed. Her round face is puffy with her grief, and her body sags on the sofa as both Stacy and I hold an arm around her.
“So, Angela, who do you want us to kick in the face?” Stacy asks.
Angela sniffs a half laugh, and shakes her head. “He’s an idiot, but I love him. I can’t help it.”
“Urgh. Men.” Stacy grimaced. “Honestly, we should all just swear off them!”
“Hold on! Let’s not be hasty now...” I urge, surprised at myself for being the voice of moderation. “I’m not ready to go cold turkey on dick! Even if they are attached to morons sometime… Tell us what actually happened, Angela.”
“Well, ok…” Angela takes a sharp breath in and seems to collect herself. “Tyler keeps on making promises and then backing out on them... He keeps promising he’s going to tell his parents about us, and that he’s going to take me to his family’s beach house one weekend, it was next weekend actually, and he keeps on backing out and making excuses...” Angela wrangles her hands. “And he says that I must not have heard him right, that he didn’t really make those promises... it makes me so fucking angry!”
“Yeah, that would piss me off too.” Stacy nods grimly. “Why don’t you dump his ass then?”
“Oh, I dunno...” Angela muses, wiping her eyes again. “He is really sweet whenever he follows through, I think I love him, god help me...”
“Ah, yeah.” Stacy heaves out harrowed breath. “Love can really suck at times... But we really can’t help who we fall for.”
“Yeah...” Angela trails off, disappearing into her thoughts. Stacy and I share a glance, I feel as lost for words as she looks. What do we do now?
Our answer comes bursting through the door, red faced and agitated.
“Babe!” The guy, Tyler I presume, blurts out. “I’ve been looking all over for you! What the fuck was that down there?!”
“Hey!” Stacy snaps, jumping to her feet and getting in Tyler’s face. “Back off douche-bag! Haven’t you been enough of a jerk tonight?!”
My mouth opens in awe, I so rarely see Stacy fired up like this. She doesn’t let up as Tyler splutters in protest, and I blush slightly as I feel a growing warmth between my legs. Fuck, she’s hot when she’s so confident...
“Seriously!” Tyler complains while staring bewildered at Angela, “Everything was fine, I didn’t think anything was wrong, and you just lost it!”
Angela jumps to her feet now, and stands firmly beside Stacy. “You promised me weeks ago that we were going to the beach-house next weekend, and then there you were making plans with John and the guys to go to Vegas instead!” Angela puffs herself up, being dwarfed by Tyler’s build. “I’m sick of you lying to me, Tyler!”
Tyler’s face flashes with anger, but he seems to try and push it down. “Babe! It’s not like that! It’s just—”
“I’m sick of the excuses!” Angela snaps over him. “You clearly don’t give a fuck about me!”
“I do, babe, I do, but you never tell me when somethings wrong! You keep it all inside until you blow up and I never know why!”
They keep arguing, but Stacy turns back to me as I continue watching from the sofa with a sort of morbid fascination.
“Tara, you can fix this...” Stacy says under her breath as Angela and Tyler’s shouting match gets louder.
“I can what?” I reply, perplexed. Surely she doesn’t mean...
“Put the mask on... Sort them out. Make them listen to each other the way they should!” Stacy urges me, nervous but excited as she eyes my handbag.
“You... You want me to wear the mask? To use it?” I whisper back in disbelief.
“Look, you’ve just proven to me that you’re not letting it control you. So use it, do some good—make them kiss and make up, you know?”
“You’re ok with that? Watching me as I make them... As I turn them into...”
“No, I don’t mean take their control away completely.” Stacy explains, her face flickering with concern. “Just make them see all the things they love about each other, make them treat each other better.”
“I can... I can do that?” I frown at the idea. It hasn’t occurred to me before that I could use the mask on someone and not ultimately enslave them... I know I didn’t specifically enslave Mary, but I programmed her to find me so I could after she finished with her day of hell. To use the mask on people and have them retain their freedom after... How novel...
“Sure you can.” Stacy says. She then bites her lip slightly. “I want you to.”
A smile slowly spreads across my face as I grab my handbag and unclip it. “So you want me to make them treat each other better and then kiss and make up?”
Stacy nods with giddy enthusiasm. “Yes please.”
“Just kiss, or something a bit more…?” I ask, my eyes glinting with mischief.
“Oh... Uhh...” Stacy stammers, her cheeks reddening as she looks down to the mask in my hand. “You’re in charge, Tara.” she finally says, a sort of nervous admiration showing on her blushing face.
“I am.” I grin at her. “Ok, you won’t fall under my spell as long as you avoid looking into my eyes. Promise me you won’t look.” I add gravely.
Stacy gulps, and a steely determination enters her jade green eyes. “I promise.”
Good enough for me. I stand up, and place the mask on my face, and take a step towards the rowing couple. I’ve lost track of where their argument has gone, but Angela seems to now be venting her frustration at Tyler’s mother for the way she raised him, and Tyler doesn’t seem to be reacting positively... Shocker. I wait patiently for them to notice me, but they seem too absorbed in their spitting of insults.
Eventually, Stacy loudly interjects by shouting “Shut it!” and then when they turn in shock, she coughs slightly and says sweetly. “Tara wants to talk to you...”
Their confused gazes simultaneously turn to me. I meet Angela’s eyes first, then Tyler’s.
“What do you...” Angela start’s to say, but her eyes are already losing focus.
“What’s happening?” Tyler slurs, himself dropping under the mask’s power. “I... I...” but his words are lost in his throat as his eyes become lost in mine.
I can hear Stacy’s gasp of amazement from behind me as they both become spellbound, eyes fixated on mine, their bodies sagging into limp, lifeless dolls.
“Have a seat, Stacy.” I say as I take a step back and sit on the sofa myself. I want Angela and Tyler to come and kneel in front of me, and to my great satisfaction, they do exactly that before I even need to say it.
Interesting… No spoken words, but they obeyed perfectly. Am I becoming more powerful? Or am I just getting so much better at using the mask to assert my will that the commands are becoming telepathic? All thoughts of restraining myself, on holding back my will to enslave seem to melt away from my conviction. I have to test this potential new ability…
“Ok you two…” I say slowly, a smile curling on my lips and deep desire smouldering in my eyes. “Pay very close attention…”