tagMind ControlAddicted

Addicted

bymoldedmind©

It was eleven am, Laurie was sitting in her office, staring at her computer, and she wasn't reading one word on her screen. It was eleven am, and all Laurie could think about was how this was the time she normally went to have a cigarette. That is, it was the time she normally did that, before she'd gotten the boneheaded idea that she needed to quit.

She was already wearing two nicotine patches, and that wasn't helping. Digging her nails into her palm wasn't helping either. There was only one thing that helped when she was craving it this badly – and she really hated listening to it at work.

But, it always came down to the fact that it was listen to it, or give in and have a cigarette. And she'd made it three weeks so far – the longest she'd ever gone – and she wasn't about to ruin that streak now.

With a sigh, she stood up from her desk, walked to her office door, and eased it shut. At home, she really preferred to listen to it with the lights off, but it wasn't an option here. At least, not before 5 pm – she'd had a few close calls after hours when she was the only one left, working late but sitting in the darkness with no one to notice was one thing. Her office had a lot of foot traffic going past at all times – someone would notice the lights off.

So the best she could do was a closed door. She returned to her desk, and fished in her purse for her headphones and cellphone. Finding them, she took them out, hooked one into the other, and placed the headphones in her ears, already scrolling through her phone to find her savior – "Self-hypnosis for Successful Smoking Cessation." She'd rolled her eyes at the title – once. Now it worked so well she didn't care what it was called.

With a sigh, she hit play. The beginning ambient tones surged through her headphones, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Just the beginning sounds alone were enough to calm her. She'd listened to this so many times by now, she knew it by heart, and yet it never seemed to stop working – only got more effective. If only she could listen to it all day, she'd never crave a cigarette again.

"Welcome," the pleasant female voice intoned. "Before we begin, please acknowledge to yourself the tremendous step you have taken in purchasing this recording. Many smokers try and fail to quit many times before they make it stick – by buying this recording, you have already made a commitment to quitting for real."

Laurie sighed. She hadn't even gotten to the induction yet and her mind was already hazy. She supposed she was slowly training herself to drop for this voice, this music, and her brain was tuned into the cues after so many listens. It was definitely getting easier and easier to drop every time – the first time it had taken her many listens. Now, all she needed was the command and she'd be under instantly.

"Let's begin," the soft-spoken woman coaxed through Laurie's headphones. "First, ensure you are in a comfortable position, as the recording will play for approximately 20 minutes, during which time you will not be able to get up. Please ensure you are ready to sit still for 20 minutes."

"Check," Laurie said to herself, leaning back a little further in her office chair.

"Please close your eyes," the recording instructed her. "I am going to count backwards from 10, and when I reach 1, you will be in peaceful hypnotized state, and we can begin fighting your addiction together."

Laurie sighed again. She couldn't help but feel a little anticipation. She'd never figured she was the type for it, but she'd discovered she really loved the feeling of dropping, of being induced. She exhaled, trying to be patient.

"10," the woman counted. "You can already feel your eyes getting heavy..." It was true.

"9," she added. "You feel your body sinking more deeply into relaxation."

"8," the voice said next. "A warm wave of comfort is passing through your limbs, making you feel drowsy and languid." On cue, Laurie felt that warm wave ripple through her. She sighed again, in contentment.

"7," the voice counted. "You feel drowsier, now."

"6," the woman intoned. "Your eyes are so heavy now." Laurie felt that it was true. She could feel herself sagging forward in her chair, as if she were about to nod off and fall asleep. She was so ready.

"5," she heard. "Your mind is becoming unfocused and hazy."

"4," was next, though she was starting to have difficulty focusing on the voice. She was so close, she could taste it. "All my words just slip right past you, and that's alright. You're so ready to drop now, that you don't need to understand what I'm saying. You only need to obey, and wait for my command."

"3," the recording played, but Laurie didn't hear it. She was drifting, just waiting for permission. "So sleepy, so pliable, so unfocused..."

"2," played, and still Laurie drifted. It was just a taste of what she would get, but it was still delicious.

"1," the voice said. "Drop now."

Laurie let out a little moan as she obeyed the command. The feeling of slipping completely into trance, letting it overtake her was powerful, but quick. It was like a rushing wave, like a current sweeping her under the water and dragging her down.

It was over in a second, and she completely blank, and empty, listening to the same instructions she'd heard a million times, wearing the grooves in her mind in deeper. She didn't have to worry about anything now. She could just drift in this delicious feeling, with no thoughts or concerns, soaking it all in, until the voice told her to come up again.

She was startled by the feeling of her headphones being ripped from her ears. She opened her eyes, to see the face of her coworker, Jane. Jane was saying something, telling her to do something she hadn't had time for... still really didn't have time for... but the drifting feeling... she had to do it, yes, she had to do it now...

Jane was gone again, the door shut once more, and Laurie sat, drifting still, her headphones on the table... complete the Waller report... I need it today... complete the Waller report... I need it... the words looped and looped through her mind. Laurie's eyes, still glazed over from the trance she was under, stared unseeing at the screen, her fingers typing of their own accord.

***

Laurie woke from her trance at 3 pm. The time on the clock nearly gave her a heart attack – 4 hours! She'd been under trance for 4 hours! It was the longest she'd ever gone, and she'd never done a long stretch like that at work!

When she woke, it was to find a neatly bound report on her desk – when she read the title, her eyes bulged out of her head. The Waller Report.

The report that Jane, that bitch, had been on her case about for two weeks. The report she hadn't under any circumstances had time to complete – not in the middle of the billing cycle with all the other deadlines she had coming up in the next week. She had been so justified in putting it off that she'd gone with Jane to their mutual boss, Mr. Henrickson, and he had told Jane specifically that Laurie wasn't to be bothered, that the Waller report could wait, that Jane was to wait for Laurie to come to her for it when she was ready, if she didn't have time for it herself.

Not that it had stopped that conniving bitch. Every day, multiple times a day it was the same thing – "I can't wait for that Waller report any more, Laurie," and "I need the Waller report today, Laurie." As if Jane had the authority to assign her work! They were equals under the same boss, but Jane always acted like she was Laurie's supervisor, even when Mr. Henrickson repeatedly reprimanded her for it.

So how was it that she was now holding the Waller report in her own two hands?

She thumbed through the pages, only skim reading – but it was perfectly done. In fact, it was maybe even up to a slightly higher standard than the rest of Laurie's work, even though that was up to a high standard already. It looked like she'd poured a huge amount of effort into it, yet she couldn't remember writing one word on the page.

A shiver slipped down her spine as she realized what must have happened – Jane, as usual, must have burst into her office, demanding the Waller report, while she was in trance... and instead of putting Jane in her place like she usually did, and threatening to go to Henrickson, she had obeyed, and completed the report in one sitting – waking up only when it was finished.

She swallowed, still gripped by fear. She'd had no idea that could happen... she'd thought she was only susceptible to commands about cigarettes. Apparently, her trance was a one-size fits all.

What's worse was that Jane had seen her in trance. She could only pray that Jane wouldn't put two and two together. Of all the people in the world to discover Laurie's weakness for trance, Jane had to be the absolute most dangerous. If she ever found out, she would find a way to use it to ruin Laurie's life, Laurie had no doubt about that. It was terrifying that she had caught her like that... it couldn't ever happen again.

And she definitely could not give her this report – if Jane hadn't figured it out already, the report would be a dead giveaway. No, she had to unbind and shred it, leave it on her computer as a saved file, and wait until the end of next week to print it out and give it to her, when all her other deadlines had been met. It was the only way to be safe.

But a funny thing happened when she went to rip the binding out. Her hands froze in place, and she couldn't do it. In the back of her mind, she heard Jane's voice, to her horror – complete the Waller report... I need it today. She couldn't take it apart. Her body wouldn't let her.

Instead, she found she had the irresistible compulsion to take the report, stand, walk to Jane's office, and give it to her. She was already doing it, standing, walking, even as she screamed at her body to stop. She remembered now – she'd tried to cheat a few times in the past three weeks, just for one cigarette, and every time, she'd had the irresistible compulsion to put the cigarette down, even to throw the carton of cigarettes away. Each time, she'd been pleasantly surprised that the recordings worked so well.

Now, she was horrified. She could not stop herself – she was already opening Jane's office door. It was too late, Jane would know and her life would be over—

"Jane, I've got the Waller report for you," She said, as if it was no big deal.

Jane looked up from her computer with a frown. "You've got the Waller report... for me?"

Laurie shifted uncomfortably under Jane's gaze, but she still couldn't seem to retake control of her mouth. "Yes, it's finished." Her body held it out, offering it up for Jane's inspection.

Jane reached across her desk and took it. She began leafing through it, her eyebrows raised. "I've been bugging you for this for weeks," She said, looking back to Laurie, her brow furrowed. "Yesterday, you told me if I mentioned it one more time, you'd shove your paperweight up my ass."

"Well, it's done," Laurie said, folding her arms across her chest. "Happy?"

Jane was giving her a very confused but calculating look. "What were you doing this morning when I came in?"

To her relief, with the report submitted to Jane, Laurie found she could control her speech again. "I drifted off into a nap," she said. "You woke me up," she answered simply.

Jane gave her a long look, and Laurie tried not to panic. "Thank you for this," She said, eventually, breaking the pause after a long time.

"Whatever," Laurie huffed, turning to leave. She couldn't get back to her own office quickly enough.

***

By 5 pm, she was dying for a cigarette again. The confrontation with Jane was eating at her, and she couldn't shake the fear that Jane would figure out her secret. She'd started smoking to cope with this kind of stress, and without it as a crutch, especially for times like these, she was at a loss.

On the way to the bus stop, she stopped and bought a carton of cigarettes. She wanted a cigarette so badly... and she needed to prove to herself she could break the programming.

As she stood, waiting for her bus, she took a cigarette out, and stared at it. She tried to bring it to her lips—she couldn't. You will not smoke, echoed in her mind. The compulsion to drop the cigarette on the ground overtook her, and she ground it into the sidewalk with her heel.

With a sigh, she took out another one. She tried to concentrate on how badly she was craving one – how good the nicotine would taste, that smoky satisfaction. Her hands trembled as she slipped another from the box.

I will smoke, she insisted to herself. Her hands shook even harder. She tried again to raise the cigarette to her lips, but it was like she was wearing handcuffs. She couldn't get it any higher than her hip. Again, the compulsion rose in her to throw it down and grind it out, and she did.

She looked up to see her bus coming around the corner. Frustrated, she tossed the carton of cigarettes in her purse to try and practice later, and as the bus pulled up, she stepped on.

She didn't notice Jane's purple car pulling away from the parking lot across the street as she did.

***

The next day was so busy for Laurie that she didn't have time to think about cigarettes – or Jane, for that matter. Losing 4 hours the day before meant she had serious catching up to do, as all of next week's deadlines were one day closer, and she was one day further behind where she needed to be.

The hours passed in a haze of jumping from project to project, and it didn't take her long to realize that she was going to be working late to make up for lost time that night. At least she was in a productive headspace.

She was so in the zone, in fact, that she didn't notice anything, and time kept slipping away from her until –

"Laurie." The sound of her own name startled her away from her work, and she looked up to see Jane on the other side of her desk.

Dread filled her stomach. "What are you doing here?" She snapped, trying not to let on.

"I just thought I'd stop by and see how you're doing," Jane said, her voice a little too friendly. "You seemed a bit loopy yesterday."

"I told you," Laurie gritted out. "It was just a nap."

"Hmm," Jane said. "Mind if I sit?" She asked, gesturing to the chair across from Laurie's desk.

"Yes, I do," Laurie snapped again. Normally, she would have threatened Jane with calling security on her ass, or with calling Henrickson at the very least, and if that didn't get rid of her, she would have actually gone through with it.

But a glance at her clock told her that wasn't an option – it was 7:30 pm, long after everyone else had left. In all likelihood, she and Jane were the last two people in the building. She had no recourse – and from the look in Jane's eyes, she knew that too.

"Well, I'll have a seat anyway," Jane said, lowering herself into the seat. She put her heels up on Laurie's desk, crossing her legs. She was wearing a skirt today, and with her legs higher than her waist, the hem of it slipped up a little too high on her thighs.

Jane, clearly having made herself very comfortable, slipped her hand into the pocket of her blazer – and pulled out a carton of cigarettes.

Laurie felt herself freeze in place.

"See, I noticed you haven't smoked even once in the last 3 weeks," Jane began, flipping the carton open. Laurie swallowed. "That's an unheard-of record for you. Every other time you've told the office you're quitting, I always catch you trying to sneak one."

The pang of annoyance at the memories of being caught by Jane wasn't enough to displace her terror.

"So, when you announced three weeks ago you were quitting again, I figured I'd find you failing sooner or later. But I didn't." Jane slipped a cigarette out of the carton and began twirling it between her fingers.

"I couldn't understand how you could quit just like that when you've been smoking as long as I've known you," Jane said. "But I think I have an idea now of how you've done it," she added, a slow smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. She looked just like the cat who had gotten the cream.

"See, I saw something very interesting yesterday evening... While you were at the bus stop, you tried to slip one. But you physically couldn't make yourself. You were compelled not to smoke. Just like you seemed to be compelled to write up that report for me yesterday." Laurie couldn't speak. She knew she needed to be rejecting Jane's assertions, and telling her to get out of her office, but she was too terrified to move. She couldn't make her brain work.

"So, I did a little research last night," Jane continued. "Do you know what the most effective treatment for quitting smoking is?"

Laurie couldn't respond. She was frozen in place, her heart hammering in her chest.

"It's hypnosis," Jane said, fully smirking now. "And you know what the market is just flooded with? Recording, after recording, after recording of guided hypnosis to help with quitting smoking. I put two and two together."

If she'd thought she was terrified before, she was wrong. When Jane pulled out the lighter, and began flicking it idly, that was true terror.

She positioned the cigarette between her fingers. "I just wanted to see something," Jane said, still with that look on her face. "You'll humor me, of course."

She flicked the lighter decisively this time and lit the tip of the cigarette.

The smell of the smoldering cigarette hit Laurie's nostrils at once. Her nicotine deprived body practically screamed at her with desire. It had been so long... she needed it so much...

"Please," she said. "Please, don't do this." Her voice was small, and weak – exactly how she felt. She felt helpless. She could feel she was about to break at any second.

"Hmm," Jane mused, regarding Laurie. "I think I like it when you beg." She swung her legs down off the desk, and leaned forward in her chair, extending the cigarette to her. It was so close... inches away from her face.

She inhaled the smell of the cigarette, and her eyes practically rolled back in her head.

Jane was rotating it now, so the tip was pointing towards her mouth. It was so close – Laurie leaned forward, her tongue peeking out... just an inch more...

When you are tempted, you will replay this recording. It was like an emergency switch had gone off. Before Laurie even knew what had happened, she was holding her phone and headphones, scrolling through for her recording.

She didn't even notice Jane smoothly unplug her headphones and pull them away.

She didn't notice that when she hit play, it was playing through the entire room, and not only her headphones.

***

"And wake," The recording stated, and Laurie came back to herself, only to find that Jane was sitting across from her, still smirking.

Oh God... the terror was rushing back. Jane had sat and watched, watched Laurie go into trance and be programmed to quit smoking. She'd seen Laurie's most private secret, had followed her into her deepest inner places... and now she knew.

Laurie was so screwed.

"Well," Jane said. "That was quite educational. You seem to be quite the good little hypnotic subject. I suppose all the many times you've listened to this recording in the past month have primed you for it."

"I'm leaving," Laurie said, standing up abruptly. It was her only chance. She had to get out of here and go home.

"No," Jane said, standing up just as fast. She was between Laurie and her office door instantly. "You're not. I've been trying to show you for years that I'm your better. And now that I've finally found a way, I won't wait another minute."

"I will shove you away from that door," Laurie said, conjuring up all her hatred for Jane. She needed the fuel.

"I don't think you will," Jane murmured. "I know your secret now, Laurie. I've seen it. I've seen you go into trance, and maybe you haven't admitted it to yourself yet, but you enjoy it."

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