tagMind ControlA 101 - Forced Perspective

A 101 - Forced Perspective

byfiat_knox©

by Alex Greene writing as "Fiat Knox"

Copyright © Alex Greene. All rights reserved.

The sound of a chainsaw jolted Julia Markham out of her dream. She opened her eyes suddenly and gasped. For a moment she could not register where she was. Gradually, awareness came to her.

She was in her bedroom, back in her house. It was the morning, with early sunlight filtering through the curtains. She was naked and hungry.

And the chainsaw started again, outside.

Cursing under her breath, Julia slowly got out of bed, staggering, wondering why her body felt so heavy and clumsy this morning. Stumbling over one of her shoes, she tumbled forwards, her arms bracing herself. The impact of her arms against the bedroom wall jarred her, and brought her out of the dream she'd started to slip back into.

Nursing her sore wrists, Julia caught the edge of the curtain and pulled it back. The sunlight fell full on her face; she blinked and scowled, looking down.

Half a dozen men wearing yellow hardhats and fluorescent yellow Council tabards were working around a tree which had fallen over, taking out Julia's car in the driveway and blocking the street. Busy as they were chopping up the huge tree, they did not pay attention to Julia standing in the window.

Julia made her way downstairs. When she got to the foot of the stairs, she realised that there was a smell in the air. Somebody had been smoking. In her home.

Confused and angry, and more than a little frightened, Julia entered her living room and looked around the lounge. Everything seemed to be in order. Shaking her head in confusion, Julia wandered out of the room.

She did not seem to notice a glass ashtray, a cigarette lighter and a small ornate wooden box sitting on the glass coffee table in the middle of the lounge.

A moment later, Julia was in the kitchen. Standing in the doorway for a minute, she shivered, the soles of her feet chill on the linoleum floor.

A fresh croissant was waiting for her on a small covered plate on the kitchen unit, along with jam, butter and a knife. Julia lifted the glass cover and looked at the croissant. It looked as thought she'd prepared it the night before; she just had no recollection of doing so.

She looked around her. The kitchen was exactly the way she'd left it the morning before. Julia frowned, trying to remember what she'd done that other day, when the tree had fallen on her car.

Julia had a vague recollection of seeing her crushed car, the tree across the road, the bystanders staring at the huge tree trunk and scratching their heads.

The telephone rang in the kitchen. Julia picked up the cordless handset. 'Hello?' she asked.

'Hi,' said the familiar female voice on the end of the line. 'Karen here. How are you, Julia?'

'Oh, hi, Boss,' Julia replied. 'I'm sorry I didn't get back in touch with you yesterday. I –'

'Yesterday?' Karen exclaimed.

'Yeah, Monday,' Julia replied.

'Girl, today's Thursday!' Karen said. Julia nearly dropped the handset from shock.

'Thursday? How the hell could this be Thursday?'

'Don't ask me, girl,' Karen replied. 'You're the one who's been incommunicado for almost three days!'

Julia stood stunned for a moment.

'Julia?' Karen asked. 'Julia?'

'Karen?' Julia asked.

'What?'

'Did I close the sale?'

Karen chuckled. 'Did you ever!'

'I should be punching the sky right now,' Julia murmured. Somehow the thought of her receiving a commission from the sale of products from the magazine she was an agent of no longer seemed so urgent.

'Julia?'

Julia shook her head. 'Yeah. That's fantastic news, Boss,' she said. 'Look, I can't remember what I'd been doing since Monday. It's weird, but I really think I should be able to remember what happened after Monday.'

'It's okay, hon,' Karen said. 'Look, I'll talk to Admin. I'll put you down as taking a few days' leave since Monday.'

'Okay. Thanks.'

'Tell you what,' Karen added. 'You're on my commute route. I'm going to come on over.'

'Oh, you really don't have to –'

'Ah, come on, it's okay. Old school chums and all.'

'I wouldn't want to impose -'

'It's fine, girl. You just sit tight. I'm gonna come on over and check out the damage to your car. Somebody told me it's a complete write off.'

Julia sighed. 'You could say that,' she replied.

Unexpectedly, the doorbell rang. Julia jumped, startled. 'Okay, Karen,' she said. 'Come on over, then. I'll be here.'

'Okay, Julia,' Karen replied. The line went dead. The doorbell rang again. Julia sighed, and made her way to the door.

A smiling woman stood in the doorway, carrying a fruit basket. She was wearing a sleeveless red knee-length dress and red high heeled shoes. Short brunette hair framed a heart shaped face.

Her face seemed achingly familiar to Julia. 'Anna,' she said.

'Yep, that's me,' said Anna. 'Mind if I come in?'

'Er,' Julia stammered. Anna brushed past her and entered the house before Julia could object further.

Julia stood a moment in the doorway, looking at the workers. They'd all stopped cutting the tree, and were staring at her.

'What?' Julia said, slamming the door on the men.

'Mind if I smoke?'

Anna's voice was coming from the living room. Julia ran into the room. She stopped in the doorway, stammering. Anna was already sitting back on Julia's sofa, taking a long drag on a cigarette. A cloud of blue smoke already hung in the air.

'Look,' Julia began.

'Y'see,' Anna said, leaning forwards, the hand holding the cigarette pointing at Julia, 'we already met. You know it. I know it. Only problem is, you can't ...'

'Can't remember,' Julia replied, finishing Anna's sentence. 'What happened?'

'What's happening, you mean,' Anna replied, taking another drag. 'We weren't finished with you.'

Julia shook her head. 'What do you mean?'

'What do you remember?'

'Er, not much,' Julia said. 'There was a reception area, and a girl, called ... Alicia?'

'Alicia,' Anna replied, nodding. 'Remember anybody else?'

'Doctor ... Henderson?'

'Good,' Anna said. 'Memory's coming back.'

'No,' Julia said. 'I feel I should know the names. I know your name's Anna. It's just ... I don't remember what I did there.'

'Did you get the good news?' Anna asked.

'About?'

'The sale,' Anna replied, executing a French snap and inhale and blowing out a thin streamer of blue smoke. 'You closed the sale. He bought a whole wardrobe from your catalogue, and you got your commission. You should be very happy.'

'It won't be enough to cover the purchase of a new car,' Julia replied, jerking her thumb towards the outside.

Anna stubbed out her cigarette in the ashtray and shook her head. 'Don't worry about that,' she said. 'Just wait and see.'

'What do you mean by that?'

'Well, for one thing,' Anna said, sitting back, 'you might have noticed how you haven't been picking up the phone and calling the police, even though there's a strange woman sitting in your room, smoking. And you don't smoke, do you?'

'No,' Julia replied, shaking her head, 'I don't.'

'And for another thing,' Anna said, her voice gentler. She got up, and crossed over the living room to Julia. She touched Julia's arm. Julia looked down. And gasped.

She was still naked. She had not put on one scrap of clothing.

Blushing deeply, Julia reflexively crossed one arm over her breasts, her other hand covering her bush. Anna chuckled and shook her head.

'Get – get out!' Julia cried. 'Just – just get out! Now!'

Anna shrugged and smiled. 'I'll see you later,' she said. 'When you're ready, call me. My number's on the card.' She pointed to the fruit basket on the coffee table. Julia looked over, and saw that indeed there was a card on the top of the fruits.

When Julia turned back to say something, Anna was already heading for the door. Just once, Anna glanced back at Julia; and for a moment, Julia saw something in Anna's eyes.

Pain.

Then the smile came back, and Anna turned and was gone. The door closed behind her.

There was a knock on the door. Julia, now clothed in a plain white blouse and her favourite dark blue slacks, came up to the door. She peered through the frosted glass, and saw dark skin and frizzy hair. She opened the door, and Karen stood in the entrance, smiling.

Karen was a little shorter than Julia, with coffee coloured skin, dark frizzy hair and deep brown, almost black, eyes. She was wearing a black business suit over a cream blouse. The top button of her blouse was undone.

'You gonna let me in?' Karen asked.

'Yeah, sure,' Julia replied, letting Karen come in. 'I'll put on a cuppa for us,' she added. Karen went into the living room. Julia went into the kitchen.

'Whoof,' Karen exclaimed, from the living room. 'Who's been smoking in here? You?' She chuckled. 'You never told me you'd started smoking, girl!'

'It wasn't me,' Julia said. 'It was -'

'Who?'

Julia looked up from the kettle. She shook her head. 'Nobody,' she replied. 'I got a visitor this morning. Insurance. You know, the car.'

'And he smoked? On duty? In your house?'

'He carried the smell in with him,' Julia replied. 'Hold on. I'll get the air freshener.'

'Don't worry on my part,' Karen replied. 'Long as someone's been smoking here already ...'

Julia heard a lighter snap, and she groaned inwardly. 'Karen ...!' she moaned.

'Relax,' Karen said. 'I'll clean out the ashtray when I'm done.'

'Ashtray?' Julia murmured. 'What ashtray?' She bent down to the closet beneath the sink, where the cleaning stuff was kept. She began to rummage around inside, looking for her usual Otrazon spray, but there wasn't any.

'Funny,' she said to herself, 'I could have sworn ...'

Her hands found an aerosol bottle. She took it out and looked at it. It was an unfamiliar brand name.

'I don't remember a spray called Oxytocin,' she said to herself. 'Well, if it works ...'

A few minutes later, Julia entered the living room, where a large smoke cloud hung in the air. Karen was lounging back against the sofa, breathing out a stream of smoke.

'Who left you all this stuff?' Karen asked.

'What stuff?' Julia asked. 'The fruit basket?'

'Yeah,' Karen replied, stubbing out the cigarette in the ashtray, 'and the Turkish smokes.'

'What Turkish smokes?' Julia asked. Then she saw the box, open, containing cigarettes.

'Hold on,' Julia said, puzzled. 'The ... the box ... she didn't bring the box in. Just the basket. The box was ... She shook her head. 'The box was already there. Why do I remember the box?'

'What are you talking about?' Karen said.

'Oh, hang on,' Julia replied, coughing. 'Damned smoke. I can't think straight in this fug.' She crossed to the window and opened it to let the smoke out. Then she went back to the middle of the room, shaking the aerosol bottle.

'Here,' she said, spraying towards the ceiling. A fine mist descended on them both. Julia felt her skin faintly tingling where it came into contact with her face and neck. She shivered.

'I thought this was air freshener,' Karen said, waving her hand to clear the air.

'So did I,' Julia replied.

'Doesn't seem to have done much good,' Karen said. She smiled and sat back on the sofa, patting the seat beside her. 'Anyway, come and sit here. Talk to me about why you disappeared for three days straight. What have you been up to?'

Julia sat down, looking at Karen. Her friend's eyes seemed darker than usual. Her pupils were dilating. Julia felt a thrill as Karen smiled. It felt good to have a friend like her.

Julia smiled, and Karen leaned forwards. 'You know what?' Julia said.

'No idea, hon,' Karen replied, her voice soft.

'I really can't remember jack shit about the last three days,' Julia said, her own voice softening. Something about Karen's soft, low voice just ... 'I went to that address you sent me to, what was it called ...'

'I got a number and a street,' Karen said, 'and a name. Doctor Henderson. That's all.' Karen bit her lower lip momentarily.

'Well, Julia said, 'it turned out to be his business premises. Something something research institute.' A moment later, the name came to her. 'Sharpton! Sharpton something!'

'Okay. What next?'

'I can't remember,' Julia said. 'There was a woman. Anna. Short dark hair. I ... I remember her from the place.'

'What do you remember?' Karen asked. Her face was flushing.

'I ... nothing,' Julia replied, feeling an odd glow in her cheeks. Karen's face was close. Very close. 'I don't remember anything. Anything at all.'

'That's a shame,' Karen replied, biting her lip again.

'I ... the next thing is,' Julia added, 'I woke up, and I was ... well, when I came down, it was like somebody'd been smoking in the living room, and ...' She waved at the box. 'The box was already here, I think. But Anna, she brought the fruit basket later.' Somehow, the thought of this Anna being on such intimate terms made Julia feel more horny than frightened.

'And ... and there was something else, too,' Julia ventured.

'What?' Karen asked.

'I ... I was ...' Julia could not finish the sentence.

'You were what? Smoking?' Karen grinned. 'Naked?'

Julia flinched. Karen caught the look on her face. 'No,' she said. A moment later, Karen giggled. 'You were! Oh my God, you were naked!'

'You don't have to broadcast it,' Julia replied. Karen went on laughing.

Karen slowly settled down, sighed and looked at Julia. 'I never put you down as the barefoot hippy type,' she said. 'You were always so uptight in school.'

Her hands were resting close to Julia's. Julia found her fingers touching Karen's, and then covering them. Karen didn't seem to mind, even when Julia began sliding her hand up Karen's arm.

'Hang on. Anna? Anna from the lab?' Karen asked. Julia nodded. Karen turned her face away for a moment to look at the fruit basket. Julia found herself desperately wanting Karen to turn her face back, so she could look at those eyes again.

'So the box with the cigarettes was already here, and Anna from the lab came back with a fruit basket? Girl, what the hell have you gotten into? What's her number again?' Karen began to lean forwards to look at the basket. Julia also moved, leaning forwards to touch Karen's chin with a slender finger, turning Karen's head back towards her.

'What ...?' Karen asked. She looked at Julia's face. They locked gazes for a moment.

'I ... I never realised how much I want to ... to kiss you before,' Julia said. 'Till now.'

'Me too,' Karen whispered, her blush deepening.

They kissed, Karen's lips warm and dry, her breath still smoky and strange from the "Turkish" cigarette. Every touch of Karen's lips sent electric thrills down Julia's body. Her arms snaked around Karen, drew her tighter towards Julia. Karen responded by winding her own arms about Julia.

Together, kissing deeply, their eyes closed, Karen guided Julia down onto the sofa.

Julia woke up slowly. Someone was lying on top of her, and she felt stiff and sore from sleeping on the sofa. Her body tingled in the afterglow, particularly between her legs. She'd had one hell of an orgasm. She could still feel vaginal juices warm and slick, drying slowly on her fingertips.

Opening her eyes, she saw Karen, her face a few inches from her, breathing gently, still asleep.

Julia's arms were still around Karen's waist. Julia gasped as she realised that Karen was naked; the bare skin of her back was in direct contact with her bare arm.

She gasped again as she realised that her own arm was not the only part of her that was bare. Once again, she was naked.

'You've got a tattoo,' Julia murmured, looking at the design of pursed lips above Karen's left nipple. 'I thought the company frowned on tats. When did you get a tat done?'

Karen stirred slowly, opening her eyes. She looked at Julia.

'Honey,' she murmured, sleepily.

Despite herself, Julia kissed Karen on the mouth, slowly sucking at her lower lip. 'Hey,' she said.

'I ... I don't know what to say ...' Karen said. 'I can't stop thinking about you.'

'Nor me,' Julia replied. 'But I'm not a lesbian.' She tried to think of the last man she'd had sex with. A stranger's face flashed in her mind, hovering a few inches from Julia's face, straining; the name "Ted" bobbed up from the depths.

Julia gasped. Karen looked at her. 'What?'

'There was ... was a man ...' Julia said. 'And a woman, too. I think she could have been his ... his wife.'

A memory flashed into her mind; a blonde, seemingly drunk, naked, dancing in front of her, gyrating her hips at Julia, and Julia doing the same. She had another memory, of being naked and dancing, and touching a man's erect cock.

'Damn,' Karen chuckled. 'I always knew you had to have been bi like me, but ... damn.'

'These ... I think they're memories,' Julia said. 'I think I'm recovering my memories. Karen; why did the two of us just end up making love like this?'

'God knows,' Karen replied. 'All I can say is, I feel like I could still go another round with you any time.'

'I know.'

'It's like all at once, I couldn't keep my hands off you.'

'Me neither,' Julia replied.

'But I've got things to do,' Karen added. 'This has put the kibosh on my whole day's schedule.'

She got up. Julia looked at Karen's naked body. She felt that same thrill she'd experienced when they'd kissed earlier.

'I've just gotta ask, though,' Karen added, turning around and bending down over the coffee table, 'if anyone can tell you what has been happening to you, most likely this one can.'

She turned back, disappointing Julia – who'd been enjoying the sight of Karen's dark, furry snatch and her glorious butt – and showed Julia something in her hand.

The business card. The one Anna had left on the fruit basket.

'Wonder what'll happen when I call this number?' Karen asked.

'I don't know,' Julia replied. 'She told me that when I was ready, I should call her back.'

Karen pushed Julia's legs to one side and sat on the sofa beside her. 'Well, I think you're pretty damned ready now.'

'Better put our clothes back on first,' Julia said. 'Answering the door to Anna naked, twice in one day, is bound to get the neighbours talking.'

'Girl,' Karen replied, chuckling, 'they've got you into some seriously kinky shit.'

When Anna returned, it was late in the afternoon. The BBC's afternoon detective shows had come to an end, and there was nothing to watch on the TV. Karen zapped channels and sighed.

'Digital telly's supposed to have all this great stuff on it,' she yelled. Julia, in the kitchen, stuck her head into the hall.

'I don't watch it much nowadays anyway,' she replied.

The doorbell rang. Julia answered it.

'Did you try some of the fruits?' Anna asked, as Julia opened the door.

'Did you spike them?'

Anna shook her head. 'Nope. Bought them myself from Sainsbury's. Better than getting one commercially – florists put wax on the fruits in their presentation fruit baskets. Give me an allergy every time. It's easier to just buy a wicker basket and fill it up yourself.'

'You've got some explaining to do,' Julia said, grabbing Anna's arm and yanking her into the house before slamming the door shut behind her.

'Anna turned to face Julia. 'Where do you want to start?' she asked, apparently unphased by Julia's hostility.

'Well, for a start, my Boss is here,' Julia said. 'What's in those cigarettes you've left for me?'

'Whatever do you mean?'

'They're not Turkish smokes, are they?' Julia asked.

Anna shook her head. 'They're a ... special blend,' she replied. 'But they aren't Turkish. And no, they're not grass, either.'

'But ... but I don't smoke!' Julia said. 'What made you leave me something like that?'

Awareness, and memory, dawned. 'Hang on,' she said. 'You left me them behind ... because you've been here.'

Anna smiled. 'Those three days? The three missing days? I was here. The whole time.'

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