The Unknown Object
Tim looked at the two women sitting in his living room sofa. Heather and Mom, their heads slumped to the side. Heather was still in her school uniform, and Mom was in sweatpants and a t-shirt. He hadn’t released either of them from his control, because, as the pounding in his head reminded him, the effects of the mind control gun could be…unpredictable at best.
The suggestions he’d given Heather had obviously been imperfect. Her shocked reaction to finding him with Mom, her attack on him, and her escape had put everything in Tim’s life in jeopardy.
He couldn’t allow that to happen ever again.
As soon as Mom had explained how to use the ‘find my phone app,’ Tim was able to track Heather down. It was lucky that she’d taken her phone with her, and that she’d left it turned on. If she hadn’t, he would never have been able to find her.
Tim had grown angry when he’d realized where she was.
Eddie’s house. Why was it that whenever he had an issue with his sister, Eddie was always involved?
As Tim drove Mom’s car to Eddie’s house, he thought of a plan, which he put into effect as soon as he parked in front of the two-story townhouse.
When Mrs. Berger opened the door, before they’d even had a chance to exchange pleasantries, Tim zapped her with the mind control gun.
He took a few moments to admire Mrs. Berger. Yang and Tim would often tease Eddie about how much his mother babied him, but there was an element of jealousy to their joking. Mrs. Berger was an absolute MILF. Blonde hair, green eyes, and a voluptuous body (albeit she could stand to lose about ten or fifteen pounds). She was a bit older than Mom, but still quite attractive for her age. Tim unconsciously licked his lips. He’d never even considered it up to this point, but maybe he should add Mrs. Berger to the ever-growing list of women to subjugate to his will.
There was no time to think of that now, however, not when the mind control gun had gotten him into so much trouble already. Before anything else, he needed to get Heather back home, figure out who she might have talked to, what she might have said.
He’d asked Mrs. Berger about Heather’s whereabouts, was displeased (but unsurprised) to hear she was in Eddie’s room. Then he’d instructed her to get Eddie to open the door.
Tim had lain in wait. Eddie’s eyes had widened for a split second when he’d seen that Tim was behind the door. Then Tim used the gun, felt the familiar warm vibration, and Eddie was under his control.
When he saw Heather, though, his heart was overtaken by a complex flurry of emotions. Anger, at first, for all the worries she’d caused him. But then sadness, when he saw the expression on her face—fear. Heather was afraid of him.
Tim never wanted his sister to be afraid of him—he wanted her to gaze at him with loving adoration and unfettered admiration.
After he controlled her, he ordered her downstairs and then gave commands to Eddie and Mrs. Berger.
They were to forget that Heather and Tim had ever visited the Berger household. Eddie had been alone in his room the entire time. Mrs. Berger had been downstairs, doing whatever it is she’d been doing before Heather stopped by.
Just as he and Heather were about to leave, Tim turned around again, gazed at Mrs. Berger. She really could stand to lose a few pounds. She’d be even sexier, then. He squeezed her generous bottom, and wondered how often she and Mr. Berger fucked.
“Mrs. Berger, starting from today, you’ll go on a diet and exercise regimen, and you’ll stick to it. You’ll want to become nice and fit. You’ll want to lose around fifteen pounds, and keep them off. But you’ll always want to do it in a healthy way. Do you understand?”
“…yes, I understand…,” she replied listlessly.
Good. Something to look forward to in the future, Tim mused to himself.
Tim guided Heather down to the car, had her sit down in the passenger seat, and then went back into the house and, instructing Eddie and Mrs. Berger to ignore him until he’d left, released both of them from his control.
Then, his mind-controlled sister sitting next to him, he’d driven back home.
And now, here he was.
He sat in the chair, facing the two women. They gazed off into some unknowable distance, their eyes glassy and unfocused.
“What am I going to do with the two of you?” he whispered to himself.
Initially, he considered just resetting the events of the day. Make it so that Heather would forget having seen what she’d seen.
Tim decided that was too dangerous. Unless he stopped controlling and having sex with Mom, the situation would simply repeat itself. No, he needed them to both be completely docile and accepting of the fact that he would be having sex with both of them—sometimes at once. And they were both still rejecting that particular command, for some reason. Some deep-held resistance still existed.
Instead, he decided to send both of them off to bed, still under his control. Once they’d gone to sleep, Tim went to his own bedroom and lay down.
As he drifted off to sleep, he pondered. He was now living with two zombies, and no idea what to do in order to get them to obey his commands.
His commands had backfired, each worse than the last.
He’d ordered Mom to be attracted to him, to love him—and she’d gone and fucked Dad. He’d ordered Heather to trust him and look up to him—and she’d run off to Eddie.
What should his next step be?
The problem, he realized, was that he had no idea of the limitations of the mind control gun, or how to phrase commands properly. A simple mistake in wording could backfire tremendously, as he’d seen.
If only Oskar Müller were still around, he could have just asked him for clear, explicit instructions. What he needed, he realized, was an instruction manual. Not just the vague responses his controlled subjects gave him, but real, detailed information.
Tim suddenly sprang up, headed over to his laptop.
He opened up his browser and began Googling for Oskar Müller’s papers. He’d mused about this before, but had gotten distracted by…other things. But he recalled Ms. Davis’ history class—she talked about primary and secondary sources. Secondary sources were second-hand reports. Primary sources were materials directly from people who had witnessed or participated in historical events.
So, for example, an obituary about Oskar Müller would be a secondary source. But the materials Oskar Müller had written, his research papers, his notes—those would be primary sources.
And Ms. Davis had mentioned that a lot of scientists or notable figures, like writers or government officials, regularly donated their papers to…
And there it was, on the fifth page of his Google results.
A short report on the city library’s collection of papers by notable figures in the town’s history.
Aldermen, judges, state politicians…and Dr. Oskar Müller.
It was a stretch, but if he’d written about his investigations into mind control, even if only in theoretical form, it might help Tim unlock the full power and ability of the mind control gun.
Tim bookmarked the library homepage and decided to visit it first thing tomorrow.
Looking at the clock, he realized that it was almost midnight.
Exhaustion suddenly overtook him, the day’s events suddenly weighing on him all at once.
As he flopped onto his bed, he drifted off to sleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Tim woke up promptly at six the next morning. His head no longer ached as much, but the lump on his head was still tender. As he went to take a shower, he decided on his plan for the day.
First, he woke up Mom and had her, still in her zombie-fied state, call the school and let them know Tim and Heather would both be out sick. It wasn’t ideal, but it would have to do, at least until he could come up with an acceptable solution to his problem. It was Thursday, and if he was absent more than twice in a row, he’d have to bring in a medical excuse.
Then, he had both Mom and Heather go downstairs and eat breakfast, then sent them back upstairs to wait for further commands.
He looked up directions to the city library—it was close enough that he could take his bicycle there. He decided to wait until morning homeroom to make sure he wouldn’t run into any of his classmates inadvertently. He didn’t want to be discovered playing hooky.
At eight o’clock, Tim cycled towards the library. It was a big five-story building near the center of town, originally built in the early 20th century. Tim remembered reading how it had undergone restoration just a few years ago.
Tim parked in the bicycle parking area just off of the entrance. He checked his wallet, made sure he had his library card in hand. He patted his shoulder bag, where he was keeping the mind control gun. At this point, he wouldn’t go anywhere without it. Besides, it might come in handy. Then, he walked in through the big glass doors.
The library’s main hall was a big, wide space with high ceilings. This was the largest part of the library—all the reference books, computers, and different genres of literature, both fiction and non-fiction, were here. Everything was classified using the Dewey Decimal System. On the right was the information center. This was where people returned books or sought advice from the librarians who worked at the city library. It was still early in the morning, and Tim couldn’t see any other patrons except for himself.
Tim figured that Dr. Müller’s papers would probably be in a special section where the different donations and collections were, rather than in the main hall. He knew there were individual rooms where researchers could look through different materials, though he’d never been to one. He figured the librarian would know all about it. He decided to go to the information desk and ask.
As Tim walked up to the information desk’s service counter, he saw a middle-aged, overweight man at a computer, and a severe-looking woman sitting at the counter next to him, using a bar code scanner on some books, and then stacking them. She was probably handling recent returns, he assumed. The woman was in her mid-seventies, from the looks of it, dressed in a blouse and skirt, with her gray hair tied up into a bun. The name card pinned to her chest said “Ms. Sommer—Head Librarian.”
Well, if anyone would know, it would be this lady, Tim thought.
“Good morning,” he said. “I was wondering if you could—“
The old woman looked up at him, put the bar code scanner down and gave him a withering glare.
“Library card,” she said.
“Do you have one? Show it to me,” she said with a sigh, as though Tim were causing her a great imposition.
Tim pulled the card out of his pocket, slid it on the counter towards her. The woman took it in her hands with a somewhat distasteful expression, as though she were holding a dead fish, adjusted her glasses and scrutinized the identification.
“Timothy H. West,” she read. “It says here you’re still a high school student. Today is a school day. Why aren’t you in class?” She glared at him again.
Luckily, Tim had anticipated this, and pulled out a piece of paper.
“I’m on assignment, supposed to do a research paper,” he said. “Here’s the excuse from my mother.” He slid that piece of paper towards her as well. He’d dictated it to his mother, and it stated that he was working on a history paper that had been assigned by Ms. Davis.
“Hmph,” she muttered, reading through it. “You realize this could have been written by anyone.”
Tim actually hadn’t really thought of that.
“W-well, ma’am, if I were playing hooky, why would I be at the library of all places?”
“Who knows why you boys do the things you do these days,” she sighed. “All right, let me just write this down.” She took down his information on a slip of paper.
After a few moments of waiting, she looked up at him again.
“All right, young man, now, what can I help you with? What’s this research you’re doing?”
“Well, it’s…I was reading this…,” he said, taking a printout of the library’s website from his pocket. “I saw that you have this person’s research materials in your collection.” He’d printed out the list of famous personages who had donated their papers to the library, and circled Dr. Müller’s name. “It’s this person. He was a well-known researcher, wasn’t he?”
Ms. Sommer stiffened when she saw the name, then relaxed.
“You want to look at…Oskar Müller’s papers? What could you possibly want with the doctor’s papers?” she asked, her tone of voice changing. Did he detect sarcasm?
“Well, like I said, my history teacher—“
“Your history teacher, this Ms. Davis, she asked you to research Oskar Müller specifically? I can hardly believe that. Why?”
“W-well, she asked us to, uhm, research someone…notable…and his name just sort of, caught my attention, I guess.”
“It just—caught your attention?” Ms. Sommer asked, as though trying to hold back laughter.
“Y-yeah. I mean, is it a problem?” Tim was getting tired of this. There was no one else in the library; he should just use the mind control gun on her and the other man and have them fetch him the papers.
“No, not at all. I’ll have to fetch his materials from the collection. You can’t take them out, you understand, you can only view them here in the library. Come with me, I’ll take you to one of the viewing rooms. Christopher,” she said, motioning to the overweight man at the computer, “you take over the information desk for a bit, alright?”
The fat man blinked, sighed as though he were being tasked with a heavy burden, and finally nodded.
Ms. Sommer stood up and beckoned him to follow. Tim followed behind her as they walked past the various collections and to the staircase located at the very back of the library.
They went up the stairs to the third floor. Tim had never been to this part of the library before. There was a metal door, and Ms. Sommer unlocked it using a set of keys. A blast of cold air hit Tim when the door opened.
“It’s a bit chilly, I know,” Ms. Sommer said. “We keep the microfiches in a temperature-controlled environment.”
“Microfiches?” Tim asked.
“You’ve never heard of it before? I would have thought Ms. Davis would have told you,” Ms. Sommer chuckled. “It’s a storage medium. Flat pieces of film that, when placed on reader, can be magnified onto a translucent screen for reading purposes.”
“Don’t worry, you’ll see what it is soon enough. I’ll show you how to use the device.”
Ms. Sommer walked ahead, and Tim followed behind. All around them were shelves filled with identical-looking little white boxes.
Finally, Ms. Sommer turned to her left and Tim saw there were a number of rooms, each with glass doors, a narrow table, a pair of chairs, and a big, bulky machine that looked like one of those ’80s computer monitors. Ms. Sommer opened the door to the nearest one.
“Wait here,” she said. “I’ll bring back the mas- Dr. Müller’s papers.”
Tim sat down at one of the chairs, and saw Ms. Sommer head down the hallway, the sound of her high heels slowly growing faint.
As Tim sat and waited, he wondered. Would the research papers prove of any use? He thought of his mother and sister, under mind control, waiting patiently for him at home.
After a few minutes, Ms. Sommer came back, carrying six of the microfiche boxes, three under each arm. She gave him what looked to be a distinctly artificial smile.
“These are the first six,” she said. “I thought you could get a head start on them while I bring the others.”
“The others? H-how many are there in total?”
“Oh, I think over twenty. Thousands and thousands of pages of research,” she said as she opened one of the boxes and took out one of the microfiche slides.
“Each one of these slides has ninety-eight images,” she explained. “The microfiche reader is essentially just a big microscope.”
Ms. Sommer opened up a piece of glass and placed the microfiche slide under it.
“Remember to put it upside down and facing towards you,” she continued. “Now, using these knobs, you can magnify and move from image to image.”
She proceeded to demonstrate how to manipulate the two knobs—the one on the left magnified, while the one on the left moved the microscope around. It seemed to be, frankly, annoying and time-consuming.
“Uhm, wh-why hasn’t this stuff just been scanned into computer?” Tim asked.
Ms. Sommer suppressed a chuckle.
“Oh, young man, the library doesn’t have the time or the budget to do all that. There are only three full-time employees here, including myself, and I’m not particularly computer-literate. Now, see here…”
She pointed at the page she had zoomed into.
“If you can read that, you’ll have no problem with any of your research.”
Tim squinted and began looking at the text on the screen. The handwriting was slanted and sloppy, but he could make it out.
“Wenn es um die Brechkraft eines modernen Mikroskops geht…”
“Hey, what is this?” he said, with a burst of annoyance. “This is all in German!”
“Of course, boy,” Ms. Sommer said, with barely suppressed resentment. “What did you expect? Dr. Müller moved to Lansdale in the 1930s from Germany. All of his research is in German.”
Tim glared at Ms. Sommer. Had this whole thing just been a big charade to her, a way to pass the time on a lazy Thursday morning, by hassling him? Or was there something else? For the first time, he looked at her. She wasn’t just annoyed at having to help him out, Tim realized. There was something else there—anger, and…suspicion? Ms. Sommer’s next words confirmed it.
“Now then, young man,” Ms. Sommer continued. “Why are you really looking into Dr. Müller’s work? And don’t feed me this story about your history teacher asking you to research an obscure, forgotten scientist who died almost sixty years ago. I’m far too old to be so gullible. I wasn’t lying when I told you there are thousands of pages of research here. You must realize by now you’d be searching for a needle in a haystack, so tell me—what concern is the doctor’s work to you?”
Tim was tired of playing games with this old crone. He grabbed his shoulder bag, unzipped it, and took out the ray gun, moving the dial to ‘CONTROL.’ He aimed it at her, and…
As soon as Ms. Sommer saw it, she gasped, her eyes widening, and then…
Awkwardly, painfully, she got on one knee. She looked up at him with an expression akin to veneration…and fear.
“H-how did you find it?” she asked, her tone one of awe.
“How did you find it? And…and does this mean…that you are my new master…?”