The Unknown Object
It was already getting dark when Tim’s consciousness gradually returned. He felt as though he’d been ten rounds in a boxing ring. His head was still pounding as he stood up, unsteadily, and walked over to the kitchen. He could smell the sickly-sweet scent of whipped cream and strawberries as he approached.
As he trudged to the kitchen, he suddenly yelped. He’d stepped on something, something metal. A knife? Cutlery?
He looked down, tried to steady his gaze. Neither. It was a set of keys. Not his. Heather’s?
Well, that would explain why she hadn’t come back. He’d locked the house so she’d have no way to get in.
Why Heather hadn’t come back…
Tim snapped to attention as his predicament came back into focus.
He ran into the kitchen, turned the lights on, and grabbed a couple of aspirin from the cupboard, washing them down with water from the faucet, then peeked past the curtain to look outside.
How long had he been knocked out for? It was already dark. It was quiet outside. No police cars, nobody asking him to surrender himself.
He looked at the clock on the kitchen wall. It was almost 7 PM. The whole evening had passed him by. He’d been out like a light for almost four hours.
He stood in front of the sink and washed the blood off his face as best as he could. As he did, he pondered the essential questions.
Where was Heather? She could be anywhere by now. A police station? A friend’s house? Maybe Aunt Lily’s?
Tim tried to reassure himself. Nobody would believe her insane story, would they? Though maybe they’d think she’d stumbled across something so awful her mind had cracked.
So, the first priority was to find her.
No, he corrected himself. The first priority was to go upstairs, check on Mom, get dressed, and then go out and find Heather. But how?
Then, another thought came into his mind. The mind control gun. Was it still up there?
Tim forgot everything else and bounded up the stairs, down the hallway, into his parents’ bedroom.
The bedroom door was slightly ajar, the lights on. As Tim ran in, he saw her.
There was Mom, still sitting where he’d left her, the drool now gathering in a pool around her lap. The mind control was still on the nightstand where he’d left it.
“Thank Christ,” Tim muttered under his breath.
Tim breathed deeply. He stank, he realized. Stale sweat and the smell Vaseline combined with his and Mom’s sexual juices, along with faint hints of strawberry and whipped cream.
Before anything else, he needed to take a quick shower. If the police did come, this was the last thing he wanted them to see.
“Okay, Mom, we’re going to go shower together. No time for hanky panky, just come with me.”
Mom stood up unsteadily, and Tim grabbed the mind control gun. He wasn’t letting it, or Mom, out of his sight.
The two entered the bathroom. Tim turned the lights on, looked in the mirror. He was an awful sight. There was still blood encrusted on the side of his forehead, and he had a gigantic lump on the right side of his noggin. He tried touching it gently. It was the size of a hard-boiled egg, and it hurt like the devil. His whole head was throbbing.
Tim turned the shower on and ordered his mom to wash herself, which she did, awkwardly, with zombie-like motions. While she did that, he wiped down the remaining blood as best he could, putting the mind control next to the sink.
When she got out of the shower, he had her towel herself off while he took his own turn. He mostly wanted to get the stink of sweat and sex off of himself.
He laughed bitterly when he thought of the last time he and his mother had been in this bathroom together, making love. It seemed like a lifetime ago. Now he felt like he was just marking time until an executioner came over to pull the switch.
He had no idea where his sister could be, and no clue where to start. He could have Mom phone Heather’s friends, but what story would she give them?
After a quick shower, he dried himself off using the same towels Mom had used. He averted his gaze from his mother’s nude body. No time for that now. Possibly no time for that ever again.
He directed her back to her room and told her to get dressed and then head downstairs and clean up the kitchen. She obeyed silently.
While she did that, Tim headed back to his own room and got dressed as well.
He felt like a dead man walking. He felt like he’d been pushed into a dark corner, and someone was going to attack him at any minute.
When he’d started using the mind control gun, he’d thought he could control every single circumstance, every problem he was presented with.
Now, he just felt a sick sort of dread, a fear of being caught.
He imagined being arrested, being dragged away from his home. Newspaper headlines proclaiming him a degenerate.
What would Eddie think? What would Yang think? What about the rest of the school?
As he put on a pair of jeans, Tim felt more warm wetness falling around his cheeks.
Had the injury on his forehead reopened? Was it more blood?
No, he realized as he touched his face.
Tim finished getting dressed, put the mind control gun around his belt, safely set to ‘off,’ and then walked downstairs.
His mother was just finishing cleaning the table, using awkward motions.
Tim knelt down and gathered up all the clothing, including his mother’s underwear and nightgown. He went to the downstairs laundry room and threw it all in the hamper, and then returned to the kitchen.
For the first time since he’d woken up, he thought of someone other than himself.
How would his mother react to his arrest? No, not just that. What would happen to his mother’s reputation? If he was arrested, would they undo the brainwashing, all the suggestions he’d given her? How would she react when she realized what she’d done?
His mother was a warm, caring woman, but she was also proud, dignified. Would she be able to live down the scorn and humiliation of having what she’d done with her son become public knowledge?
Tim sat at one of the chairs next to the table, and wept.
“I’m…I’m sorry, Mom…,” he blurted out between the tears.
His mother stood, awkwardly, still under the control of the ray gun.
Tim pulled out one of the chairs at the kitchen table, directed his mother to sit.
He wondered whether there was still anything he could do to save himself. To save him from arrest, to save his mother from humiliation.
Anger flared. How could his sister do this to him? Why hadn’t she been at track practice?
“We’re f-fucked, Mom. As soon as Heather tells someone w-what’s been going on, we’re fucked. A-and she probably already has.”
His mother just stared at him, eyes devoid of all expression.
“It’s probably better that you’re this way, Mom. If you knew what was gonna happen, you’d be panicking just as bad as me. I’m gonna end up arrested. We’re gonna be all over the news. The only way, the only way I have e-even a chance of stopping this…,” he paused, took a deep breath, tried those breathing exercises his mom always used during yoga in a futile attempt to calm himself. “Th-the only way I can stop this is if I can find Heather, figure out what she’s been up to.”
His mother just kept staring off into the distance.
“T-there’s no way, is there, Mom?” he said, laughing manically. “Heh, th-there’s no way I can find Heather, right, Mom? Not after she’s been gone for so long, not even having a f-f-f-fucking clue where she went.”
“…find…Heather…?” his mother repeated after him. Of course, Tim thought. In her mind-controlled condition, she can’t tell I’m asking a rhetorical question. If she hears me addressing her, she assumes I’m asking her something.
He wondered if, in her current state, Mom could provide him any insight. She knew Heather better than anyone else in the family, right? Maybe she’d know where she would go.
“S-say, Mom, if H-Heather were in trouble, and she couldn’t go to me, or to you, or to Dad, where would she go? How would you find Heather, Mom?”
“…I…I don’t know…”
He gave a short, sharp laugh. Of course not. That would be too easy.
Heather’s legs ached from running. Once she’d gotten out of the house, she’d run as fast as she possibly could, not looking back, not aiming for any particular direction, for what seemed like forever. She didn’t stop until she was in a part of town she’d never been to before. It was an upscale neighborhood, and she could see an old man on the other side of the street, walking a dog. There was no one else around, no one she could ask for directions, or for help.
She was lost, but at least there was no way Tim could find her if she didn’t even know where she was herself.
She took a breather, tried to calm herself. Her school uniform was covered in sweat, and the aching muscles in her legs had gotten worse. She had no plan, no idea what to do. From the time she’d started running, all she could think about was getting away, making sure Tim couldn’t hypnotize her like he’d hypnotized Mom, though Heather was beginning to suspect that she might have already been a victim of his hypnotism.
Hypnotism. She still couldn’t quite believe it.
Heather looked around the area and saw a small park at the end of the street. She headed towards it. It was a wooded area, somewhat secluded, and there were a half-dozen park benches located throughout a large semicircular area. As she got closer, she saw that there was also a public restroom located in one corner.
It wasn’t ideal, but she decided it could make a decent hiding spot. As she walked in, Heather was surprised that it was fairly clean for a public restroom, no doubt because of its location in an upper-class area. Luckily, it was empty. She went to one of the stalls, wiped down one of the toilet seats, and sat down, locked herself in.
Now she could take the time to think.
What was she going to do? Going home wasn’t an option. She couldn’t go to her friends’ homes either—that was one place Tim was sure to look. What about Aunt Lily? No, that wasn’t a good idea either.
The obvious, logical, sane thing to do was to go to the police, report Tim for…for what? Hypnotism? Even if the police didn’t laugh right in her face, even if they took her seriously, what would she tell them? That her brother was hypnotizing Mom in order to have sex with her? That he’d probably hypnotized her, too?
He probably did hypnotize me, Heather realized. That would explain everything that had happened over the previous day, wouldn’t it?
Which meant…those things they’d done together…they’d been because…
It was a good thing Heather was already in a restroom, it made it so much more convenient for her to throw up right in the toilet bowl.
After she finished retching and had flushed the toilet, she went out to the sink to wash her mouth clean, looked at herself in the mirror. She looked surprisingly normal, albeit a bit sweaty. Not at all like a girl whose life had just turned upside down.
What should she do about Tim?
“Turning him in isn’t an option,” she said to herself.
Then she realized—whatever horror she felt at her brother’s actions, she still cared about him. She wanted him to be safe, get treatment for whatever had motivated his fucked-up behavior.
She wondered if that feeling was real, or if it had just been implanted in her by whatever he’d done to her brain. But the fact remained—she didn’t want him in jail.
She just needed to stop him.
She thought again about her own behavior. Whatever he’d done to her, however he’d hypnotized her, he had failed in one respect—she had been able to question her own behavior. She knew how incongruous and out of character it was for her.
Herself, Mom…had Tim done this to someone else? Maybe Dad—but whether Tim had hypnotized him or not, Heather couldn’t ask him for help. Dad was on a business trip, and even if she called him and told him the story, the first thing he’d do is call Mom. And then her mother would just reassure him it was all bullshit, just a sick story she was making up.
She ruminated on what Tim had done to her, to Mom—he’d had opportunities with both of them, at home.
Was there anyone else he could have had an opportunity to hypnotize, to mind control? Any other victims?
It was then that it hit her, like a bolt out of the blue.
That would explain everything. And maybe, just maybe, she now knew at least one person who’d be willing to help her figure out a way to stop Tim.
She took out her phone and opened up Google Maps.
Heather was surprised how far away she’d run from her house. Looking at the directions on the screen, she saw she was a forty-minute walk from where she wanted to go. Less than that, if she ran.
Heather washed her face, and looked at herself in the mirror, steeled herself.
“You can do this, Heather,” she told herself. “You’ll get help, figure out a way to stop him.”
With a final glance at the directions on her phone, she took off, running once again.
Less than thirty minutes later (she’d had to stop a few times to double-check directions), Heather was in front of a beautiful two-story townhouse. She’d been there a number of times before, but always with family. It had been at least two years since she’d last visited, though. She’d never imagined she’d be back here under these particular circumstances.
She walked through the front yard and up the couple of steps that led to the entryway. There was the familiar blue welcome mat with a butterfly design, and a doorbell next to the big wooden entrance door.
Heather rang the doorbell. After a few moments, she heard footsteps come closer, and then the sound of a lock unlatching.
The door to the foyer opened. Standing in front was a middle-aged woman with dark blonde hair. Her green eyes looked at her with momentary confusion, and then recognition. She gave a hesitant smile.
“Why—you’re Timothy’s little sister Heather, aren’t you? What is it? Did you need anything?”
“Good evening, Mrs. Berger,” Heather said, as calmly as possible under the circumstances. “Is Eddie home?”