by the hungry ghost
Marnie couldn’t help feeling uneasy for Susan when she watched her go to Felicia. She’d seen this dynamic before: everyone would be taken wherever, or whatever they were transported to, then drugged or lulled or somehow induced into a hyper-passive state, manipulated into sexual positions—and often, relations—with one or more of the other women. And if they did return (and god sometimes they didn’t) residual feelings for one or more of their partners could resurface back here.
If she ever thought her training as a practicing psychologist might actually come in handy during an emergency maybe it was here. It was at least keeping her alert, away from despair.
But it was obvious to Marnie that Susan was exhibiting signs of this emotional transference. Possibly because she was at wits over her friend Katie, who was still lost to that void. Thus, Susan was replacing her guilt, anxiety, stress and helplessness over an irrational inability to rescue her friend with a need for comfort and affection.
And who could blame her, Marnie thought. She needs comforting, in anyone’s arms.
As far as she herself was concerned, she remained immune to most of the side effects from these episodes. She wasn’t immune from being taken away, but based on what she heard when they came back, she was not being controlled as deeply. The voices they would hear, the loss of rational observation, the seeming transference of personality, that wasn’t—well, she hadn’t experienced these symptoms. Not to the degree the others would confide to her about.
She couldn’t help feeling, either, that her training—what her husband often teased as over educated thinking—was keeping her from falling apart. So what to do? Help where ever she could. The two young women who just came in still seemed baffled by the whole weird situation.
Susan’s emotional eruption, followed by her retreat to the chair where Felicia went to comfort her, gave Marnie a moment with just the newcomers. She stepped closer, diplomatically to the taller one. “Listen—I’m sorry, I’m Marnie. What’s your name.”
“Mallory.” She crooked her hand to her right. “Stacey.”
“Hi. To the both of you. So listen. None of us knows what’s really going on here, or what this place is. There’s not a whole lot of information available.” Mallory was touched by her soft irony.
“But ...” she reached her arm out to Stacey to guide the two of the them to another part of the room. “But I want you to be aware at least of what we do know. We haven’t figured any way out yet. And we don’t know who’s holding us. Except—”
Mallory watched Marnie sink a little before pulling herself together again.
“Except,” she whispered, with protective directness, “they often single out one or two or even more and take them to another part of the building. Some, not all, of us, have seen the aftermath of this. What it looks like.” Marnie paused. Mallory and Stacey listened intently, but incredulously. “I’m telling you because—” Marnie’s words failed her. Yes, why? She thought about Susan, missing her friend, despairing. Was this a good reason to tell these girls the worst of it? And was it worse? If they come back, if Katie comes back, not as herself…
Mallory waited for Marnie. “It’s Ok,” she offered, helping.
Marnie gathered herself, tried a grin. “They undergo something that changes them, brainwashes them, I’m not really sure....”
“Brainwash?” Stacey’s voice trembled. Mallory felt Stacey’s fear, but was less inclined to worry. She wanted to hear more.
Marnie, all five foot six in heels, inhaled, standing taller. “Yes. Believe me when I tell you this is very important. Not to alarm you or worry you. It’s just that now is not the time to get frightened. We need your help, you need our help, we all need to stay focused, because there’s a lot going on here that’ll throw you off. We’re either being tested, or prepped, or something because there’s a lot of hallucinatory events taking place that will ... oh, no.”
This time Marnie when paused it was because of a commotion behind Mallory and Stacey. It was Susan.
“Oh, jesus, no. Katie!”
Everyone turned around. Into the center of the room strode two women with a third behind them. Mallory immediately recognized her, the Waspy blonde from behind the counter. She trailed behind the other two without any discernable intelligence or animation, shoulders square, eyes unmoving, a little taller than the front two because of her heels. She still didn’t appear to be breathing.
The first pair were visibly more resolute, legs striding confidently into the room slowly, purposely scanning every body and contour that crossed their gaze. One was redheaded, freckly, the other chocolate skinned, sleek and lithe. Their robotic, uncompassionate postures made the small black boxes they held seem ready to dispense harm but what disquieted Mallory was that they were dressed so normally for the dispensing. The redhead in gray flannel slacks, black buster browns and white tee, her breasts steepled inside her taut shirt. The dark girl in mid-length hunter green skirt, black mock turtleneck, shiny black peep toe slings. Big earrings. As if emerging from a morning meeting, except they were wordlessly intimidating the others and seemingly ready to demand they all line up on the wall, arms and legs spread.
Stacey was in a better position to see their faces: unyielding, strong with emptiness, eyes bright with purpose. Their eyes dictated everything, pushing obedience and purpose out, and letting nothing in. Stacey felt their power without being confronted by it, recognizing immediately they could control anything they wish. It tripped a subtle switch inside her and for a moment she wondered if she’d be ordered to help them. For the first time in her life she was prepared to surrender if she had to fight. Put off balance, she hooked a finger in Mallory’s jean pocket.
As everyone in the room watched, Susan approached her friend carefully, not even to disarm her. “Katie? Are you ok?”
Susan could feel the disregard. Katie was busy responding to other signals.
Sensing no immediate threats, both automatons turned and took three steps. Then, in the center of the room they turned left, then right, then left again.
Susan followed trying to get her friend’s attention.
“Katie. Katie can you hear me?” She searched Katie’s face from the side and saw only a single, but mysterious purpose. Her lips, still lined with the lipstick color she and Susan bought earlier, were not sealed tight, just resting together. How pretty those lips were. How pretty Katie was, withdrawn, unblinking, determined. Susan’s head spun. When did pretty matter?
What she couldn’t know was how intensely Katie’s mind was buzzing with a white noise of arousal, subservience and a desperate longing to fulfill the directives implanted by other voices.
Katie was scanning the high school group and the dark-skinned girl, also buzzing with single-minded bliss, joined her. They had been sitting quietly in the corner, used to, and happy being overlooked. Then the dark girl spoke. “You—” she raised a hand and pointed to one of the cheerleaders.
Ms. Southern, their coach and chaperone, rose with anger and fear. “Don’t you touch her you bitch. Get away. Keep your hands off her—”
Susan heard the tinkling sound of Katie’s bracelets as she raised her hand as if she were offering the slim black box to the enraged woman. But Katie’s thumb tensed and a shrill high pitched tone burst forth and a green light struck the eyes of the woman. Ms. Southern stepped back as if punched, but didn’t fall. She just went quiet. Her eyes still held in the direction of Katie, but emptied like a sink, tranquil. The black girl said, “Sit,” and Ms. Southern did.
Katie lowered the weapon to the girl they wanted. “Come,” she said.
Linda couldn’t believe they were pointing at her. Until it sunk in.
“Why me?” she asked. There was no answer.
It seemed forever ago, normal life. Cheer practice. After school. Kicking around. Linda didn’t like sitting here, like a child at the dentist’s. She knew her friends, all silently quarrelling, would agree with at least that. If they were in danger, like Cassie said, they should be trying to get out, not just sitting here—Linda agreed that much. Beth was not offering anything but useless sarcasm. And Tyler was just going silently crazy, barely keeping it together. What Linda really wanted was the four of them telling Ms. Southern she didn’t need to be their coach or teacher or mom—she was stuck here as much as they were, and thinking she was in charge was useless. Unless she could actively work to get them out of here, like Cassie was saying. But when those two new girls showed up too, right after the bombshell sexpot, Ms. Southern told them to sit tight and speak not a word.
In the silence Ms. Southern insisted on, Linda sat and thought. She rationalized there was no need to blame anyone for this. Really, they were only driving back from cheerleading. They weren’t doing anything else. And all Mrs. Southern did was take a detour around road construction and got lost, so what? Cassie started giving Tyler a hard time right from the start, not just for finding this building but begging them to go here and get help to fix the car. Cassie thought it was creepy and an invitation to something gruesome. Linda and Beth told her to shut up. It was a pretty reasonable thing to do. And entering this room innocently, who even could know they would get trapped here? Cassie just needed to park it. Worse, Ms. Southern wasn’t acting like the cheer coach and phys ed teacher they were used to, in charge and equipped with a plan. Instead, she just retreated into relentless adult protection. They had to sit together and be quiet, not participate in any of the others’ discussions on getting out. They were eighteen for pity’s sake and really should be ignoring her, unless and until they got out of here.
Then the floor dropped, they flew away, or however you want to put it, went into that space and all that … all of that happened.
When they came back, they all came back. None of them spoke. Only Linda seemed willing to speak out loud about it, but then kept to herself. Ms. Southern sat very still and asked them, begged them, to be brave and to forget anything that they think happened, it wasn’t real. And also, do not leave this sofa. Ms. Southern did not say what happened to her, but you could tell it was something, and the other girls seemed willing to take their cue from Ms. Southern. Only Beth returned Linda’s attention, briefly. All she cared to acknowledge was that they each went through something they didn’t have the words for. “It’s fake,” she told Linda. “Just let it go.”
Linda really wanted to talk to someone, Beth especially. She wanted to ask Beth what she went through, but Beth glanced in the direction of the others, and gave the tiniest defensive shrug.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she whispered, closing her eyes to Linda.
So Linda sat down. They stayed like that for a while.
When the new girls showed, Beth was the only one to defy Ms. Southern by getting up to stretch her legs. Then ventured to be near and just listen to them. Cassie and Tyler kept quiet, considered their nails, checked their phones repeatedly even when there was zero reception, while Linda quietly resumed thinking this all through. That’s all she wanted because she was f’in’ sure she just had sex. Big sex. With another woman. Who was no longer here. And she was very much unsure what she thought of that. She’d woken up alone, head spinning by the effort to figure out if what was going on was real. It crowded her mind so hard she didn’t want to make sense of anything any more. She’d rather focus on fixing things. So she concentrated on what that woman, Katie, started talking about before they were taken away.
Katie too was also no longer here, but she left quite an impression on Linda. Back when she was conscious and trapped in this room with the rest of them, Linda hung on every word Katie said. She always admired—and was eager to be near—professional women, women who seemed like they had it all and could do anything they wanted. They could dress great and spend the money they earned, do what they like and be listened to. Linda hoped that would rub off somehow and Katie fit the bill perfectly. Especially when she started devising a hunch that there was something controlling the environment of this building, at work beyond these walls, making this all possible. You could almost feel it. If only they could just get into the inner workings, wherever they may be. Like everyone else, Linda sense what she was talking about too because she had experienced everything that took place beyond this room.
When the four cheerleaders and Mrs. Southern wandered into the space, most of the same women were already there. There was also a woman named Anita, who said she was a nurse, two friends named Carla and Toni, and the girl who was now a relentless automaton working with Katie: Jasmine. Jasmine had only made friends with Rana, but neither really kept it up. They just wanted to be left alone so they could leave that much quicker. It took some convincing to understand that everyone present, and now they themselves, were being held captive. Ms. Southern demanded answers that no one had and finally just exhausted herself imploring them for information or simply and repeatedly asking how to get out. Finally no one bothered to answer her so she kept to protecting her four charges.
When the floor seemed to drop and the weird floating sensation took over, Linda instinctively flailed but couldn’t move her arms or legs. At the same time she realized to her horror she was completely naked, for all to see. She tried to cry out for her clothes but couldn’t. Up she was lifted until the next thing she knew, she was floating. Not in complete darkness because there were little Christmas light things off in the distance. And she could see the other women from the room, them but also others she’d never seen before. They were all naked. Dozens of bodies all around, above and below, floating, motionless, like her. She hovered almost like she was on all fours, expecting her long, straight blonde to fall with gravity, but it rested on her back. She was unable to look at anything except what was in front of her. From what she could see, they were all like her, immobile, motionless, untouched, not acknowledging anyone else around them as if they were asleep. Seeing she wasn’t alone calmed Linda down.
But only barely. Soon they all started moving, and not on their own. Linda saw each body, and eventually felt her own body, maneuver as if they were just pieces being reorganized in space. She floated past Ms. Southern but neither acknowledged anything. She moved past Katie, whose eyes and attention were elsewhere. One of the hitchhikers glided below her. From opposite directions, Katie and then Jasmine drifted away from all the others else. Yet more and more it seemed everyone was being regrouped, moved and rearranged into pairs and triplets, falling deeply, intimately, into loving embraces with each other. She saw the woman named Susan fit carefully with that Latina lady, and Rana slowly join one of the hitchhikers, Allison. That’s when she saw Beth—and knew that Beth saw her—slide behind Tyler, who was already holding fast with arms and legs around the torso of—was that Marnie? She couldn’t tell because who ever it was, her face was buried within Tyler’s breasts. Beth slid behind Tyler as if to add another layer of hugging, but didn’t stop descending until she rounded the crest of Tyler’s ass and her head and shoulders fit closely to the pussy of the woman Tyler was holding. Beth’s own pussy settled on to one of the woman’s legs, but Linda passed on before she could see Beth’s lips reach and caress the woman’s lucky center.
Linda continued, pushed along like a rolled up rug. She wasn’t taken far though as she was brought alongside Anita, the nurse, who had only just introduced herself back in the room. Anita was now lying on her side, naked and pale and curvy. She even seemed to welcome Linda with arms mechanically opened to receive the teenager and in turn, Linda’s arms reached for Anita. Even Linda’s legs spread at the knees to fully wrap herself around the older, eager woman. As she came to rest against Anita, Anita sealed her arms around Linda, visibly glad Linda was with her. Like a dream where she had no control, only sleepy acquiescence, Linda’s heart gladdened too as she settled into the embrace and accepted a deep, soulful kiss, lips upon lips, swapping breath.
It was the first time for such a kiss for Linda, as well as for Anita. Neither ever kissed a woman before and Linda had only made out once or twice with Derek before they split. In the arms of Anita, however, Linda melted, feeling like she was falling in love her. Anita’s breasts were fuller, Linda’s smaller and pointier, but they pushed together as the kiss got sexier. Their nipples found each other and Linda started grinding hers stiffly, in small motions, back and forth against Anita’s. Down below, a slick, swampy heat wafted between them. Linda pushed her mound against Anita’s, feeling each other’s hair smear together. The kissing got hotter and she rolled her hips up and down Anita’s soft curvy body, thrusting everything against this woman’s puffy vulva, in search of a hot pink clit that would ignite them both. She wanted to run her hand through Anita’s short thick hair when, instead, and Linda couldn’t believe it, her body slowly started to lift again. Anita followed, too, equally surprised to be out of control. Breasts still mushing together, both women moved in unison, pitching forward for Anita, backwards for Linda.
At one point, still grappling naked in each other’s arms, their kiss broke. It gave them a moment to look at each other. Anita was flushed and at first seemed a little woozy, blinking some, but as her eyes focused on and recognized Linda, she started to smile, possibly recognizing her cheerleader lover. But that was quickly, involuntarily, interrupted when her eyes rolled upwards, disappearing behind her eyelids. Still in Linda’s arms, still moving as one, Anita ceased rocking from her hips, stopped smoothing Linda’s ass with her hands, stopped being present.
They’d almost completely flipped position by then. Linda was not quite flat on her back but she was still holding Anita closely when another force took hold of Anita and raised her upper body slowly out of Linda’s arms. She all but winched backwards and upright, obeying a perfect hinge, spreading her knees wider so that she could straddle Linda who stretched long and nearly supine beneath her. From below, Linda watched Anita’s head loll on her shoulders like she was drunk and just coming to when suddenly Anita’s eyes sprang open, focused and sober. Her entire body reanimated, regaining awareness not only of where she was but whose stomach her pussy was riding on. It must have been a very pleasant reawakening for Anita, because she ground herself a little more thoroughly on Linda’s hipbone. To Linda, however, this was a different Anita. A wide, devilish grin opened along this Anita’s lips, baring her teeth in delight when she realized there was a very pretty, very available tender girl trapped beneath her. Anita bore down on her, body and mind, and her focus grabbed Linda’s like a vampire. Linda barely had a chance to wish for the old, embracing Anita when she felt immobility creep along her body again. Anita’s voice sounded in her mind without actually speaking: I’m gonna fuck that pretty pink mouth baby girl. It was a voice that practically ate Linda whole: “Yesss, gonna fuck that pretty mouth raw.”
Linda had no choice then. As if answering Anita’s intention, Linda’s lips and jaw widened and her tongue, as if pulled out by something, came to life. Both were fucking involuntarily. Without changing expression or adjusting her eyes, Anita’s body lifted just enough off Linda’s body to snail track her pussy up Linda’s stomach, over those pointy tits, and settle heavily and wetly over Linda’s mouth. Once there, Anita’s pussylips immediately began a slow, syrupy bushy tilt forward and then backward across Linda’s lips and nose. As Linda fought for air, panicking silently under the humid mouth seal of Anita’s cunt, she felt her own mind disassociate. Her awareness rotated inside as if she were spinning and pitching, though a tiny part of her still relished how Anita’s coarse bush rubbed against her lips and chin. Something else took hold. It tossed aside her terror and panic. It wiped away any confusion Linda was suffering and replaced it with a needful, lurid arousal. She was going to lay under this woman and fuck her with her tongue, eat her from her lips on up, chew and spit on her fat clit, starved little baby dyke that she was. And she was going to be used like disposable virgin. Wordless bewilderment was completely replaced by a new, ravenous want, obeying something outside of her that operated her voice with new words of her own: Fucking grind my princess mouth, you cunt.
Yes! She wanted her face to be the smooth and bumpy sybian ride Anita’s pussy was craving. These new urgings told her that her tongue existed only to pierce and ridge this grinding pussy, so she felt it rise long, stiff and wet from her mouth. More perverted guidance came and caressed her mind: Keep it stiff Linda was told, and told again: Tell her. Linda knew what that meant. She pushed her tongue further up into the busy pussy above her while sucking with her lips and jaw to coax out more Anita-gush. When that felt right and deliciously lewd, she wanted more: Grind my princess mouth, you cunt, make it raw. Anita snarled again, Gonna fuck that pretty mouth, until, apparently answering another need, Linda heard Anita consent, Yeah, gimme them too. Linda already reveled in knowing her world would always be centered on the pussy in her mouth, but she felt her legs lift stiffly behind Anita who with surprising strength and stability maneuvered Linda’s slim legs under her arms, causing Linda to lift up even further, almost entirely onto her shoulders. Her legs and feet scissored teasingly in front of Anita: ruddy pink, coltish, and sweet. They took Anita’s attention away from Linda’s active mouth. By now Linda knew her head was almost completely hidden beneath Anita’s grinding cunt as the rest of her body raised nearly vertically, legs hooked around Anita’s hips and thrusting up under her arms. As if she knew where this was going, Linda felt a hand grab her thin right ankle, causing her knee to bend slight and just as quickly, her entire right foot was subsumed with heat, wetness and tongue wrapping enclosure. Her shapely narrow foot entered and stayed secure in Anita’s mouth. Anita’s vacuuming and slurping around her foot sent waves down through Linda’s body, crashing into her core. She’d never felt so… continuous. From her working, enabling mouth to the sensation of penetrating someone’s mouth to the receptacle of own hot pussy, back to her busy mouth, circulating around and around, building her first orgasm closer and closer. She possessed just enough mindfulness to feel her other foot rest on Anita’s shoulder then nudged further so that her big toe squirmed into Anita’s ear. Anita responded with an eye closing swoon. As if payback was the rule, Anita’s free hand worked its way down between them, insistently digging between her stomach and Linda’s thighs, then prying Linda’s thighs just enough to drill one two three knobby fingers into Linda’s pussy, plunging in and out with such force that Linda’s last thought was Grind my princess mouth, you cunt before they both ignited and sent into common explosion
Grind my princess mouth, you cunt
Gouge my slutty hole with your foot, pretty girl
Grind my princess mouth, you cunt
Gouge my slutty hole with your foot, pretty girl
Linda woke up alone, wrapped in a convulsion of sheets. She knew deep down what had happened, that she’d come, at the hands of another woman, with a force that knocked her out. And felt so fucking good. Somehow she was now in a bed. She could smell Anita, even before she opened her eyes. But a brief commotion, a movement of bodies, made her open them hoping at least to see Anita coming toward her in the same open armed approach she offered Linda when they first came together.
Instead, she could just make out Anita, or the pale shape of Anita, walking naked and erect away from her, arms unmoving at her sides, her taut asscheeks hardly quivering above the stout legs carrying the rest of her body away from Linda. Her once rapacious lover glided silently into the darkness beyond the room Linda lay in, her stiff and purposeful movement, without a second look behind her, suggesting she was being pulled or lured away. And she was gone.
The next thing Linda realized, she had made her way back to the room. She checked: yes, she was clothed. And yes, she so wanted Anita to be waiting for her here, but she wasn’t. Instead, there was a taciturn reunion with her friends, with Beth, and Ms. Southern. They were not to leave this sofa and forget it all. It didn’t happen.
Linda didn’t want to forget. She envied the women who didn’t come back: Toni and Carla. Jasmine and Katie. Where was Anita? Was she fucking someone else? Maybe, well, ok fine, she hoped so, that sexy demanding bitch. Linda knew she would get another girl all her own. She was fidgety, her heart was racing, she wanted to talk. More women came in. The sexy bimbo. Two girls closer to her age. Maybe?
Waiting on the couch, placating Ms. Southern, she started being aware of her fingers. Then her lips. The memory of pussy there. While her friends stayed put, and the others argued about how to get out, Linda played her tongue over her lips. She knew now how to use them on pussy. She was veteran. Also, yes: a phantom warmth spread over and in between the toes of her right foot, so that on the couch, they rubbed together within the confine of her shoe. It was her secret. She’d use that foot again, for sure. Weird and delicious. But she wanted more. She’d wait for more and felt her heart jump impatiently.
So who would take her? Who here? She swallowed with longing. Linda looked to Beth and wondered if she could confess to her friend she wanted sex again, sex with another woman, maybe do it with Beth herself, with her pussy on fire and her tongue at work, with fingers and toes all over her. Or another woman. Yeah, she could definitely eat Beth to orgasm if Beth gave herself in return. She’d seen Beth naked before.
Then they came back. Katie and Jasmine. And a willowy blonde.
And now, they were here for her. Aiming some fucked up little box at her.
“Rise,” Katie said. To Linda.
“Why me?” Linda asked. She choked up. It was all becoming too much, with Beth, with Anita, now…
She looked at Beth, whose eyes were wide in disbelief and subtly, but forcefully shook her head no. Ms. Southern had been stunned and offered no help. Cassie and Tyler had pushed themselves into each other alternately hiding behind and protecting each other.
And then, something clicked inside Linda. She’d gone through this real thing before, something that made her feel great and loved and new. She felt brave. And resigned. From somewhere inside of her she accepted this: they weren’t dead, they were just brainwashed. Alive at least. In control. And maybe she’d have a chance at crazy brainwashed sex. It seemed scary and too inevitable to fight. She stood up.
“No...” On her left Beth pulled on her sweater. “Don’t ...”
“It’s fine,” Linda answered. “Whatever.”
When she started towards her abductors, her acquiescence must have triggered something in them. They turned and led her without touching her. Linda knew all the women were looking at her.
“It’s ok,” she said to no one really. “Maybe I won’t remember a thing.”
Marnie said, “We’re going to find you, hon. Know that we’re out here, thinking of how to get you out. And that we love you.” Linda nodded, accepting. She turned her attention to the two women in front of her. And noticed the third one, the willowy blonde, waiting for them, staring god knows where.
To Mallory and Stacey, the whole event was scary, and involuntarily riveting. What was going on? Mallory felt Stacey seek her out, wanting her somehow to make sense of this. But Mallory just waited, observing. They had left that Waspy blonde at the counter, almost an unreal robot then. Yet now here she was, not only uninvolved in what was going on, but also seeming as kidnapped as Linda. Other than the wispy childish smile directed at no one and meaning nothing, she stood as if told to stay put and do nothing. And obey she did.
The blonde teenager made her way cautiously to the three robotic women, unwilling to join them, but unable not to. She was drawn to Katie, or what used to be Katie, instinctively. The bright impersonal eyes, which would not allow any of the white noise out, looked her over. Linda could see now how pretty Katie was, even sexy. Maybe a swift kiss would wake her up, she thought. Then Katie pivoted dispassionately as if clearing the way for Linda to walk forward. Her expression held on Linda, in command.
As if to explain further her head swiveled in the direction of the blonde woman in the blouse, skirt, heels, and no mind. Linda cautiously stepped forward and when she stood in front of Katie, the redhead commanded again, “Approach.”
Linda looked to Katie. There was nothing on her face but the order. She approached the other woman. Linda was about to ask now what when Katie said, “Closer.”
Linda moved closer.
Linda crept haltingly forward, hoping to hear “enough” but that didn’t come. She was directly in front of the woman now, almost as close as she had been when she and Anita first kissed, but no closer. Still, she could make out the skin patterns, the faintest blonde hair on her cheeks, the slight cracks of the woman’s dry lipsticked lips, the tiny breaths. Her green eyes were still vibrant, but only with color, not with thought.
The woman leaned forward before Linda could react, filling the last tiny gap Linda had left so that the billow of her shirt brushed Linda’s sweater. Linda tried to lean back but the woman raised her arms as if to stop Linda from moving. In any other circumstance they would have been graceful and lithe, but apparently she no longer had any control over gracefulness because she closed them around Linda awkwardly, as if just informed how to embrace someone and she still needed practice.
Held like this, her hands at her side, Linda shrunk within the woman’s embrace, turning her cheek to rest above the woman’s breasts. So unlike being held by Anita. Absent of four inch heels, she felt childish.
“Rise,” Katie’s voice told her.
Linda lifted up on her toes and looked to Katie for approval. There was none, only a focused stare as the white noise purred and tingled. Linda balanced herself and turned from Katie to the woman holding her. They were now at eyelevel.
Mallory thought she could make out the mental processes at work inside the brainwashed counter girl. She was still smiling, canting slightly toward Linda, but also just waiting for the next procedure. And when it came, she responded: Tilt head slightly, meet corresponding lips. Obediently, she tilted her head, her arms tightened around Linda and leaned in slowly to lay her lips upon Linda’s.
They were dry, neither cool nor warm.
Linda surprised herself by not moving. She didn’t want to be seen kissing this woman back, but neither did she retract her own lips.
The kiss, stiff, impersonal, but exactly on the lips, continued. No one moved or said a word. Without exactly knowing why, except to bring the kiss to a conclusion, the timorous cheerleader finally moved her arms around to hold her companion. They both stood, in heels and on toes, at the same height.
Inside Katie and Jasmine the buzzing sparked and snapped with an unconscious thrill. They were obeying and the obedience caressed and lubricated them with arousal.
“You will fit together,” Jasmine announced.
“You will couple,” Katie said.
Someone protested, loudly. “What the—?”
It was Beth, angry, defiant.
Katie raised her weapon. Beth shrunk, retreating, terrified. The weapon held firm but unused in Katie’s manicured fingers. This one is not to be collected.
The counter girl relaxed and let go of Linda, ending the embrace. Linda meekly lowered herself, red with fear and embarrassment. The counter girl, whom no one here seemed to know or feel at all obligated to protect, resumed her vapid welcoming grin and mindless compliance. She remained very close, couples close, to Linda. Neither did Linda move. She would couple with her.
As if receiving one final edict, Katie abruptly shifted her attention from Beth to the window, where Felicia and Rana stood. The weapon swiveled with her. Susan saw this and yelled, “No!!! Katie no!” The fingers clenched around the box, but not at Felicia. The shrill green light struck Rana. It was so unexpected, she staggered back as if aggressively pushed. She didn’t regain her balance by herself. Instead, whatever she’d been hit with quickly took control of her body. Rana’s arms dropped to her sides and her whole expression collapsed from fear to open-eyed, open mouth blankness.
Felicia gasped and started to moan, terrified and overwhelmed by the sudden near miss. Susan too couldn’t find her breath, partly with relief it wasn’t Felicia, partly with astonishment and fearful respect for the capabilities of her friend, or what used to be her friend, now a hardened tool. This was her loss of Katie. The realization plunged deep into her stomach and billowed into a death-filled awe, weakened capitulation and terrible reverence for what she’d become. Katie’s unfeeling power and the precision she wielded it reduced Susan to consider surrendering.
As for Katie, she was still in a state of command and directing it at still, pliant, Rana.
“Come,” she said, and the girl stepped around Felicia and walked, eyes fixed on Katie. Controlled, Rana approached directly than Linda had. She stopped very close to Katie.
“We will couple,” Katie told her.
“We will couple,” Rana replied.
Unseen by everyone, unfelt even by herself, the crackling arousal of satisfying all commands inside Katie reached its edge, releasing a thin line of juice down her thigh, a slip that would have shocked Katie but was now a forgettable remnant of past auto-responses. The automaton closed her eyes to accept the wave of arousal and re-establish the even more delicious order of her programming. When the arousal passed, she reopened her eyes and sought the status of the other, Jasmine.
Just then Jasmine received her instructions. She listened, visibly scanning the room and causing her head to tick back and forth as if gathering and reading fields of information. When certain of the mission, she strode to the other corner of the room, where the hitchhikers stood.
Jenka, tall athletic Nordic Jenka, not only couldn’t escape, she couldn’t avoid watching the entire procedure unfold in her direction as Jasmine woke, received and calculated the information, then initiate and complete her unobstructed advance within inches of her. The two women, dark and pale, one confused and free, the other buzzing with brainwashed impersonality, regarded each other.
“We will couple,” Jasmine finally spoke.
Jenka opened her mouth but nothing came out. What to say?
Allison grabbed her friend’s arm. “You’re not going.”
Jasmine raised her own little box, indifferently aiming it at Allison. She was still scanning her fair, future lover, whose cheeks flamed even wider with fear and panic. Jenka figured if she held her stare long enough she might delay, if not complicate Jasmine’s process, so the commotion on her left, coming from Allison startled her. Allison grabbed the arm with the taser and twisted, hoping to wrest the box away. It was a gambit. Though Jasmine was no stronger as a robot than she was when she was more human, she was still wiry and resilient. She resisted Allison as the desperate woman tried prying the box from Jasmine’s large, nimble hand. Then Jenka jumped in, and Sandy. They nearly overpowered Jasmine, whose face, expression, and stance hardly changed while in duress. She was tossed back and forth by the three women but did not let go.
Katie stepped forward and spoke. “Stop.”
Allison had a firm grip on the robot’s wrist and was working a finger between the box and Jasmine’s palm when Katie arrived. She grabbed Allison’s hair and yanked her upwards. With cold, even angry retribution, she trained her taser inches from, and directly onto, Allison’s face. As if the taser itself was furious, its powerful tase snapped Allison’s head back and the rest of her body followed, sprawling backwards. She crumpled against the wall three feet away, eyes open but unresponsive.
Seeing this, Jenka and Sandy stopped just long enough to allow Jasmine to free herself from them and Katie to retrain her weapon on Sandy. She stared wordlessly at Sandy, as if processing the situation. Shaking, Sandy could hardly focus on anyone or anything, let alone the lethal entity now in charge of the room. She kept her eyes averted from Katie who finally responded to the woman she had just subdued.
“False!” she declared, unquestionably reprimanding Sandy and then pressed her thumb. The taser fired, Sandy buckled, and once on her knees, swayed slightly.
All the free thinking women held their breath. None had ever witnessed anything like this. The only other woman to remain undisturbed and silent was Ms. Southern.
Finally Jasmine turned her attention to Jenka. “We will couple.”
Jenka’s head was swimming, but knew enough to relent, all but sputtering, “Yes, yes... please my friends...”
She was ignored. Katie slid behind Jenka, Jasmine pivoted and three of the them crossed the room to rejoin Linda, the stupefied Rana, and the Waspy blond.
Like everyone, Mallory watched Katie and Jasmine guide the others wordlessly toward a wall. Most remained too afraid to move or otherwise respond but it was Mallory who realized Katie, Jasmine and counter girl had simply appeared before. So where were they going? There was no door or opening. But now, with unbroken strides, she watched them guide their captives through what before was supposedly a wall but now was black space into which they vanished without a sound. The fake wall rippled behind them like a curtain closing and finally regained its solidity.
Left behind, Tyler gasped and started to sob. Cassie moved to Ms. Southern, hoping to wake her, though Ms. Southern remained stupefied, bearing a pretty, wondering expression on her face, unaware of the last several minutes or that the daughter of her best friend had just been taken from her.
Shannon, Felicia and Susan jumped to Allison and Sandy while Stacey carefully moved to help the remaining cheerleaders.
Emotions everywhere were running high but Mallory continued trying to make sense of what she’d seen: that at least one portion of the space they occupied, which they thought was a room with four solid walls, apparently was not. It was incoherent and she wanted to raise her suspicions with someone or at least confirm what she thought she’d just seen.
Only Marnie stood next to her, shaken but holding herself together. She returned Mallory’s glance.
Except Marnie assumed Mallory was simply in shock and disbelief with the whole affair. It didn’t occur to her that it was the physics of the exit that astonished Mallory. So, kindly, but with worry and expectation, Marnie said to Mallory, “Just wait. That won’t be all.”
In fact, even as she spoke, her voice seemed to slow and an upsurge grabbed a hold of Mallory, like a sudden wave.