Seb blinked rapidly as he stepped up onto the raised platform. Even without a spotlight, he was paralyzed by the crowd’s blinding stares, trapped with nowhere to run.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This was a stupid student variety show in a small, university dining hall; most of the people here were more focused on their food than him. He shouldn’t be this nervous. All he had to do was not be a colossal fuck-up, and Miki would be happy.
“Alright, next up: please put your hands together for Sebastian the Sensational!” Miki announced. Seb winced. He had told her no stage names. How had she roped him into this again?
“H-hello everyone,” Seb waved awkwardly to scattered applause. “Um. Today I’ll be putting on a little hypnosis show for you. Or, uh, if all goes well, you’ll be putting it on for me.” He smiled weakly. The truth was, it would be amazing if he could even get his subject into trance. Despite all his practice, the most Seb had managed was to get Miki to follow some basic suggestions, and even that was after hours of trial-and-error. For this act, Seb had twenty minutes.
“First, of course, I’ll need a volunteer,” Seb cast his eyes across the dining hall, searching for one of the club members Miki had said would be good subjects. All hypnosis was self-hypnosis, after all—the more open his partner was to the act, the smoother it would go.
But then he saw her. Front and to the left: stylish blonde hair and eyes that twinkled mischievously as they met his gaze. He had stared at her plenty of times during class, but this was the first time he felt her staring back. His pulse instantly quickened, and without thinking he blurted out her name.
The instant Seb had uttered it, he knew he had screwed up. Chelsea was not in the theater club, and she definitely hadn’t come to the dining hall to see a variety show. As she stood up and shot an ironic wink to the girl she had been sitting with, Seb’s stomach dropped. She wasn’t volunteering to be a hypnotic subject; she was volunteering to make a fool of him.
But it was too late now: she was already stepping up to the platform. Seb swallowed, his throat suddenly dry. “I, um, I didn’t know you went for this sort of thing.”
“Oh, I don’t, she replied with a wicked smirk. “But college is for experimentation, right?” The audience chuckled. God she was so pretty. Athletic, but with a perfectly-proportioned curves that still showed even in a t-shirt and sweats. Honestly, she was more liable to hypnotize him than the other way around.
“Great. Well, um, to start, I’ll n-need your hand,” Seb waited awkwardly as Chelsea hesitated, then complied. “Okay, thank you,” he nodded, wrapping his hand around hers. “N-now I’m going to do what’s called a shock, or instant induction, okay?”
The theory was simple: overwhelm the subject with stimuli and then shock them into falling into a trance. In practice, it was a lot more complicated. Seb had to move quickly through the steps, ensuring his partner didn’t have a chance to process what was happening. Which was easier said than done when the mere feeling of her skin against his sent a spike of nerves through his stomach.
And then there was the problem of his voice.
Seb hated his voice. It was fine normally, but anytime he got nervous or excited, his throat clenched up, leaving his words cracked and strained. Most hypnotists cultivated a particular voice when trancing a subject, a deep, soothing intonation that would inspire feelings of trust and relaxation.
But not Seb.
“N-now I want you to focus on the senSAtions in your r-right arm,” he stammered as he began to shake Chelsea’s hand up and down. “Okay, um. N-now bring your eyes o-over…over…”
“Is everything okay?” Chelsea asked with a bemused tilt of her head.
Goddammit. It was happening already. The tight feeling in his neck, the fight to just put one syllable in front of the other. Seb shut his eyes, trying to refocus. He had to project confidence. He had to…
“Uh, you were saying something about my eyes?” Chelsea asked, impatient.
Shit. He was losing it. “Uh, over here,” he said, raising his free hand. “Just, watch m-my h-hand as it…moves in f-front of your gaze. A-and, um, keep focusing on your arm as you…Sl-SLEep!” He barely managed to choke out the final command as he tugged her arm forward. In an ideal world, this would have sent her falling into a trance, ready to be guided into a state of deep hypnosis and suggestibility.
But of course, all he got from Chelsea was a startled yelp of surprise. “Whoa! What the hell?”
“Uh, sorry. I mean. Try to refOCus on my hand, and UH, um, aaahh…Sl-sleep!” He pulled on her arm again. This time, she barely moved, just gave him a look like he was out of his mind.
The audience was starting to chuckle now. Some of them were averting their eyes in embarrassment. Seb looked off-stage to where Miki was sitting, hoping she would cut the act short.
And that’s when he saw her.
There, in the far end of the dining hall, hovering by the exit. Despite not seeing her in years, Seb recognized Sophia in an instant: her messy black hair that always seemed to fall just right around her shy, round features; her black-framed glasses and large, thoughtful eyes; her full lips and small-yet-voluptuous body. The last time they had spoken, she had broken his heart. And now she was here, watching him fall to pieces again in front of everyone.
Not this time.
As Seb’s breath caught. Something inside of him clicked. A dam in the back of his mind opened, and a wave of calm, focused energy cascaded through his body, soaking his parched throat and easing his stiff muscles.
“Sleep,” he commanded Chelsea.
A flicker off shock passed over her face. Then her pupils rolled back, her eyelids fluttered, and she obeyed.
Chelsea was having a bad night.
While most of her friends and sisters were out on the town enjoying the Thirsty Thursday specials, she was cooped up with a monster practice test and crappy dining hall coffee. Then, right when she and her study buddy, Veronica, were starting to get in the groove, the theater club decided to throw a two-bit variety show. Just what the night needed: inane comedy skits and ukulele sing-alongs.
If it wasn’t for Veronica’s curiosity, Chelsea would’ve stormed out in an instant. But the second act did pique her interest: a hypnotist. When her friend playfully suggested that she should volunteer, Chelsea almost burst out laughing. And yet…she took a second look at the boy on stage. She recognized him from a few of her classes. He was the smart, quiet kind of guy—cute, in a professorial sort of way. Definitely not her type though: he was shaking like a leaf as he spoke, and it looked like a stiff breeze would knock him over.
Maybe that was perfect. Chelsea raised her hand and put on a dazzling smile. Sure enough, it caught the hypnotist’s attention. The trap was set.
“Chelsea,” he blurted out.
Aha, so he recognized her too. Christ, did that just make him more nervous? As Chelsea stepped up to the stage, she could practically feel the vibrations off his skin.
“I, um, I didn’t know you went for this sort of thing.”
“Oh, I don’t. But college is for experimentation, right?”
She smiled. In truth, college was also about staking your claim. About showing the world who you were and the power you could wield. It was like her mom said: the university was a proving ground, a battlefield of wits and wills. And if she was going to win, she needed to set an example.
Sorry, Seb, but the drama club had to learn an important lesson. And he was going to help her teach it.
She played the good subject at first, listening to his directions and following along, albeit with a sly interjection or two. When he suddenly yanked her arm though, she couldn’t help but shout in surprise. Was this supposed to make her feel relaxed? All it was doing was pissing her off.
His second pull on her arm didn’t startle her as much, but it brought her frustration to a boiling point. It was one thing if her studying was interrupted by someone with actual talent, but this was just pathetic. Chelsea pulled her hand away, ready to tell him off and storm of stage when…
Did his voice…sound…different?
Chelsea felt her muscles slacken, every part of her becoming heavy and tired. She struggled to keep her eyes open, but they refused to obey her whims. Before she could even comprehend what was happening, the world around her went black.
She was falling. Sinking into a deep sea of relaxation. In the darkness, she was vaguely aware of a pair of hands catching her, preventing her body from following her mind down, down, deeper and deeper still. The sounds around her grew murky, unable to penetrate the waters she was now drifting in.
But something did reach her. A voice, resonant and powerful, moving through her mind like a current, pulling her along.
“Chelsea? Can you hear me?”
“Yes,” she breathed, the words slipping effortlessly from her lips.
The hands holding her tensed. “Th-that’s good,” the voice said. “I-I’m going to let go of you now, and when I do, you’ll find it very easy and natural to remain standing on your own. You won’t wake up, but it’ll be very easy and natural for you to keep yourself upright and await further orders. Nod if you understand.”
Chelsea’s head bobbed slightly. Of course she understood. It was easy and natural. Just like the voice said. The hands released her and, as commanded, her body remained in place, perfectly poised. Ready for further orders.
“Now Chelsea, on the count of three, I’m going to ask you to open your eyes. A-and you’ll find that they open just like that, responding naturally and easily to my voice and my commands.”
His voice…his commands…
Despite how heavy they felt moments ago, Chelsea’s eyelids lifted the instant the voice told them to. She could dimly make out her environment, the rows of tables and people sitting before her. They felt familiar, but all seemed so hazy and indistinct. So unimportant.
What was happening? If she could only just think…if her sluggish thoughts would just...
“Very good, Chelsea, that’s great.”
“How do you feel?”
“I feel good.” Thinking was hard, but answering was easy. So easy and natural.
“You feel very relaxed don’t you?”
“Very open and receptive to my voice and my commands.”
“And every word I speak, it makes you feel even better, doesn’t it? Better and better and more and more relaxed and open. And it’s so easy and natural, isn’t it?”
“Yes.” Chelsea smiled. It was just like the voice said.
“That’s because you are deeply hypnotized, Chelsea. Isn’t that right?”
If the voice said so, it must be true. “Yes.”
“Tell our audience.”
The audience. That’s right. That’s who they were. “I am deeply hypnotized,” she said.
Some of the people laughed. Others just gawked at her. One girl…Chelsea recognized her as a friend…she looked shocked. Why? Did Chelsea say something wrong?
Wrong…something was wrong…she wasn’t…wasn’t supposed to be….
“And when you’re deeply hypnotized, you know you have to follow orders, right?”
Wrong, her mind thought. “Right,” her lips murmured.
“Thanks to hypnosis, I can tell you things, and they’ll just become true. As though it were the most easy and natural thing in the world. For example: what if I were to tell you that the temperature in this room just spiked by ten degrees?”
What? That wasn’t…
A wave of hot air suddenly passed over Chelsea’s skin. She let out an involuntary gasp. The audience tittered.
“You’re feeling very hot now Chelsea. Hotter and hotter with every second that passes.”
The heat was radiating on all sides, pressing against her skin. Her clothes felt like they were smothering her. She had to get rid of them. Had to cool off. She pulled her t-shirt over her head, hands sweating as she yanked her arms free and threw the offending article away. This sent a ripple of commotion through the audience, but Chelsea didn’t care. Her camisole had to go next.
“Whoa, whoa, stop! Y-you don’t feel hot anymore! It’s not hot anymore!”
Chelsea froze, the hem of the cami half-way up her torso. The heat had suddenly evaporated.
“Phew. Um, that’s good. Just relax, let your arms slide to your sides. Drop deeper into trance for me as you realize the power my voice has over you.”
Chelsea let her arms go limp, her body swaying slightly as a wave of relaxation passed over it. She could feel her nipples stiffen against the thin fabric, knew that they would be visible to anyone who was looking. But she didn’t care. Her mind was lost in awe. The voice had been telling the truth. It could make her feel whatever it wanted. How could she possibly fight it?
Maybe she shouldn’t fight it…she should just give in…lose herself in obedient bliss…
Chelsea felt her mouth hang open slightly, the last vestiges of resistance leaving her with each breath. The voice was saying something about drifting, about dropping deeper, but she was barely even processing it anymore. There was no point. It was best to just let go, to stop trying to think. Let the voice do the thinking for her; let it take her to…
“I can even make you think and behave in ways you wouldn’t normally,” the voice said. “For example: on the count of three, I want you to become a happy, playful puppy for me. You’ll no longer be a student, you’ll be a happy, playful puppy, without a care in your happy, playful head.”
Huh? A Puppy...? She was going to be a…? Wait…
“It’ll happen as though it were the most easy and natural thing in the world. On three.”
A spark of protest still flared inside her. She wasn’t going to…she couldn’t be a…not in front of all these people.
Stop. This wasn’t right.
But the voice said it would happen. She couldn’t. But…
The final number echoed in Chelsea’s mind. She felt the world beneath her shift, causing her to slide to her knees. She tried to resist. Tried to stop her hands from reaching out and resting on the ground. Tried to stop her ass…her tail…from raising. But it was no use. She was on all fours. Like a puppy should be.
No, not a puppy. She was a girl. She was…she was…
“That’s perfect. Just like that. Becoming more and more like a puppy with each moment. That’s very good.”
Very good...more and more…
The fog in her mind pressed closer, gradually extinguishing the fight inside. It was so hard to resist. So hard to think.
To think…to think? Why did she need to think? Puppies didn’t think.
A wide smile spread on Chelsea’s face as a wonderful feeling of contentment spread through her. That’s right. Puppies didn’t think. And that’s what she was. A puppy. A playful, happy puppy.
“That’s right. You’re a very happy puppy aren’t you?”
“Arf arf!” Chelsea barked in response. The humans in front of her laughed and clapped. That was good. They were happy too. Chelsea loved it when she made humans happy.
“Why don’t we show them some of your tricks?”
Chelsea panted excitedly, tongue lolling from her mouth. She turned to face the voice, eager to follow its commands.
And that’s when she saw him: the man with the voice. The source of this wonderful, bubbly feeling inside her. Everything about him radiated compassion. Safety. Strength. And control. Her Owner. Her Master.
“W-wow. You’re uh, really um, really feeling it, huh?”
Chelsea cocked her head quizzically. Master was acting weird. He seemed…not happy. Did Chelsea do something wrong? She was his puppy…she was supposed to make him happy. She wanted to help. Wanted to…
“Whoa! Whoa!” Master pulled back as Chelsea leapt up, trying desperately to lick his face. She needed to let him know that it was okay. She was here. She was a good puppy. She would follow his commands and make him happy and…
“When I snap my fingers, you’ll be awake!”
Chelsea blinked. What…just happened?
She was still on stage, but she was no longer wearing a shirt. And she was kneeling, her arms reaching for Seb’s shoulders, her head level with his…very prominent…
“Eh-eh alright everyone! Um, that’s m-my time!” Seb quickly drew away from her, hastening down the stage and past a peeved Asian girl who was stepping up to take his place.
“Well, let’s give it up for Sebastian everyone. And for his lovely volunteer,” the girl added, casting a perturbed look at Chelsea. “For…being such a good sport.”
The crowd whooped and clapped as Chelsea shakily got to her feet and recovered her t-shirt, still in a daze. Memories were coming back to her bit by bit, like recalling a dream she had just woken up from. Feelings, sensations, and thoughts she was struggling to process. Surprise. Shame. Embarrassment. And…
Was she wet?
“Are you okay?” Vernoica asked, suddenly by Chelsea’s side.
“Huh? Oh…” Chelsea tried to shake the last of the fog from her head. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure? You looked like you were pretty, um, y’know…out of it.” Veronica bit her lip, concerned. “Did he actually…?”
Chelsea’s face flushed. “What? No, of course not!” she scoffed, hoping to cover the panic rising inside her. “I just pretended I was hypnotized to mess with him. Did you really think he turned me into some mindless zombie just by saying a few words?”
“I guess that is pretty stupid,” Veronica admitted, abashed. “So…that part where he told you to be a puppy…”
“Did you see the way he freaked out when I tried to lick him? Priceless!” Chelsea laughed. “I just wish I could be there when that perv tries it on another girl.”
Veronica’s eyes lit up. “Ohmigod. He probably thinks he has some kind of super power right now. Chelsea, that’s so mean!”
Chelsea bowed with a grin. “All in a day’s work.”
“I can’t believe I actually thought he actually hypnotized you. I mean, can you imagine?”
Could Chelsea imagine what?
Could she imagine that Seb had put her into a hypnotic trance, just with the power of his voice?
Could she imagine him doing it again?
Could she imagine him taking her deeper, molding her thoughts and feelings to his liking?
Could she imagine him whispering away all the cares and concerns, stripping her of all pride, dignity, and free will until she was just a helpless, horny slave?
Could she imagine becoming a mindless toy at his disposal, ready to be used any way he saw fit?
“Ew, no,” she lied.