Back in BlackbyJukeboxEMCSA©
Marta woke up to the sound of insistent hammering at the door. She'd had a long day of filming, followed by a longer night of...whatever it was, it had started with rum, she remembered that much...and she wasn't sure how long the knocking had gone on before she even noticed it. Judging from the sound of the fist on the door, it had probably been quite a while.
She opened her eyes blearily, looked around for a robe, and finally muttered, "fuckit," and draped the sheet around herself. Benefits of being a porn star, she thought. You have unshockable friends. She stumbled out into the living room, went over to the front door, and looked through the peephole to see who it was.
It was Kitten. She looked...Marta woke up a little more looking at her. She didn't even look like Kitten. It was the same girl, of course, same frizzy blonde hair and tits (everyone remembered Kitten's boobs, they were so big on a girl so small that people wondered how she kept her balance.) But her brown eyes were set in a hard glare, her mouth was a thin line of seriousness and irritation, and her whole body language was tense as she continued to hammer away at the door. Marta almost didn't recognize her. She couldn't quite connect the giggly, bubbly girl with the serious woman that stood outside her apartment. She pulled back the chain, unlocked the door, and let her in.
"About fucking time," Kitten said, stomping into the room and walking right past her. "Sorry, that was uncalled for. I'm in a Mood. Do you have any clothes I can borrow? I know we're not the same size, but I can make do, and everything I've got is either pink or fucking purple."
Marta followed her back towards the bedroom, trying to shake the sleep out of her brain. "Kitten?" she asked. "Is...what's going on? You missed call yesterday, the bosses were really upset."
Kitten went into the bedroom and started going through her drawers. "Oh, I'll just bet they were." She laughed. It wasn't Kitten's usual 'OMG LOL!' giggle. It was a cynical, harsh laugh. "Probably fucking pissed themselves."
Marta went over and sat on the bed. "Kitten, are you alright? You seem..." A shirt hit her in the face. Kitten was pulling outfits from the drawer, tossing aside the ones she didn't want.
"I'm not alright, no. In fact, I'm not Kitten. I am Lady Merricat, Lady Merricat, Lady fucking Merricat!" She grabbed the vase from the top of the dresser and threw it against the wall, shattering it. She looked at the pieces. "Sorry," she said, breathing hard. "I'll buy you a new one. I'm just...I am very fucking tense right now."
Marta let the sheet slide off of her as she walked up behind...Merricat? She'd decided on a new screen name? She walked up behind her and put her hands on her shoulders. "I know a good way to get rid of that tension," she said, rubbing her thumbs in tiny circles.
Merricat spun around. She fixed her eyes on Marta in a way that made Marta feel like she was looking down at her, even though Marta was a good foot taller than the other girl. "Marta, I don't want to make you feel unwanted, but...I've spent the last eighteen solid months getting my brains fucked out, and I just now managed to put them back in again. Sex, even really good sex, is not on the agenda at moment. OK?" She turned back around, looked at another outfit, and made a satisfied 'ah!' noise.
Marta sat back down. "What has happened to you, Kit--" Merricat raised a hand sharply, and Marta stopped. "Merricat," she said. "What happened to you?"
Merricat set the outfit on the dresser and started pulling her clothes off. "Lady Merricat, but I'll let that slide for now, because I have Plans." She took off a pink T-shirt with a picture of a fairy on it, and threw it in the metal wastebasket next to the dresser. "Let me ask you something, Marta. How long have you known me?"
Marta tried not to be distracted by Merricat's gorgeous tits. "About...nine months?"
"And in that time," Merricat said, "have I ever talked about how I got into fetish porn? Have I explained why I do bondage movies, hypno-porn, all that? Have I, in fact, ever completed a sentence that didn't end with the phrase, 'y'know'?"
Marta blinked. "I...I mean, I just figured you got off on it. You always seemed happy being a submissive, even off-set. Remember the time we came back here after shooting, and you gave me that sponge bath, and--"
"Off-topic, Marta." Merricat had stripped completely naked now. The lavender bra and panties joined the T-shirt in the wastebasket, and Merricat looked down at her own breasts. "Fucking Christ," she muttered. "No sense of fucking restraint at all." She pulled on the black long-sleeved shirt that she found in the drawer. It came down to her thighs. "But you're right. I did get off on it. You have no idea how much I got off on it, Marta." She pulled her jeans back on. "I was getting off on it twenty-four seven, I couldn't not get off on it. I'd been brainwashed."
Marta let out an explosive giggle. "Oh, come on! You were brainwashed? That's the plot to eight of our movies!"
"They were movies to you. To me, they were reinforcers. All the hypnosis scenes we did in those movies were real, Marta. They kept me conditioned, programmed into a nice little bimbo slut who liked submissive sex so much she did it for a living. Motherfucker!" Merricat slammed her fist down on the dresser.
"So what about me?" Marta suddenly didn't like where the conversation was going. "Am I brainwashed too? Am I secretly not a lesbian dominatrix?"
Merricat grabbed a hairband from the top of the dresser and began pulling her hair back into a bun. "Fucking perm," she muttered. "It's going to look terrible until the dye washes out." She turned back to Marta. "Yes, and no, in that order. You're conditioned, but not nearly as strongly as I was. They didn't need to do as much to you. You're probably more or less the same Marta you were, you're not going to wake up one morning and find out you're actually a soccer mom from Des Plaines, but don't fool yourself, they've gotten inside your head too."
"No." Marta held up a hand, but Merricat looked...she looked so different now, so serious. The hair pulled back tightly, the dark clothes...even the height thing didn't seem to mean so much now. "No fucking way. I'm, I mean...I'd know, wouldn't I? I...I like being in charge too much to give in to hypnosis. No. You're wrong."
"Then ask yourself this. Subduction Video pays the absolute least of anyone in the industry. Rock bottom rates, you're barely making enough to afford this shitty little one-bedroom apartment. You're an amazing domme, with a natural screen presence and a body the camera loves, Why do you think you keep working for them?"
"Well, I..." Marta stopped to think. "I just like the atmosphere. I have fun there. It feels..."
Marta smiled. "Yes, it does."
"Makes you feel all sexy, doesn't it?"
"Just thinking about working for your boss, gives you all sorts of warm tingles down there, doesn't it, Marta?"
Marta blinked. She looked down. Her fingers had somehow gone between her legs, and she had been gently rubbing her clit with her thumb while her fingers were just beginning to massage her labia. "I, um..."
Merricat grabbed the metal wastebasket. "Still think you haven't been brainwashed?" She walked out of the room.
Marta followed. "But that doesn't make sense!" she shouted. "Hypnosis doesn't really work, it's all just...I mean, that stuff's all just fiction, just part of the fetish shit we do."
"That's your conditioning talking again. Trust me, it's real. I've spent the last eighteen months thinking I was 'Kitten'." Merricat had gone into the kitchen, and pulled out a bottle of cooking oil. She spilled a small blob onto the clothes in the wastebasket, then set it on the counter.
"So why'd they do such a big number on you? I mean, you're acting totally different, you're all...Domme, all of a sudden. Why'd they turn you into..." Marta tried to find a way to say, 'the hottest sub I've ever worked with'. Because she had been. Marta had loved topping Kitten, the girl had been so totally into the moment, so gorgeously submissive, it had been just a huge erotic charge. They'd carried it into their off-the-set interactions, and it had been even better there. She'd been about three months away from asking Kitten if she wanted to be collared to her permanently, and now she was this totally different person. Marta wasn't quite sure how to handle that. "...into Kitten?"
Merricat rummaged around, finally coming up with a box of matches. "Because I used to own the company," she said, lighting a match and dropping it into the wastebasket. "I started Subduction Video, back when hypno-fetish was just this minor little thing lurking on the Internet. I used to be their only hypnotist, hell, most of the videos were just me, hypnotizing and dominating people."
She watched her old clothing burn, a look of savage joy on her face. "Then I started working with some other hypnotists, James Corben and Zoe Lindstrom--'Mistress Zee', she called herself. You probably saw them on set once or twice. Jim was the guy with the over-styled blond hair and the watery blue eyes, and Zoe was the six-foot-six black woman with the shaved head and the tribal tats. Can't miss her. We were all doing the same stuff, it made sense to pool our efforts. It really made the business take off. But they started doing stuff I wasn't comfortable with. They started using hypnosis to get models to sign the consent forms, instead of getting consent to hypnotize the models. They started using hypnosis to smooth over labor relations, they started putting subliminals in the videos to improve sales...I called a meeting with my partners to discuss it. That was eighteen months ago."
Marta just stared at her...boss? "So, if this stuff all works, if you were brainwashed, I mean...why aren't you Kitten right now?" And why can't you be Kitten again? she thought. She felt indefinably hurt that the hot, submissive girl she'd liked so much had been just a figment of someone else's imagination.
"Remember the shoot we did last week? 'Serial Recruitment'? With that new girl, Leeane?"
"Of course. That was hot--when you and her were pledging my sorority, and I hypnotized you both, and made you lick each other out? Damn. She was amazing. Best girl I ever worked with, next to y--Kitten."
"Oh, yes. I noticed. Leeane was a very good submissive. Watching you dominate her, it woke something up inside me. I wanted to make Leeane quiver like that, I wanted to redden her flesh with a riding crop, I wanted to tie her to the bed and fuck her with a strap-on. I'd forgotten how much fun that could be, Marta. It had all just been buried underneath a hot, bubbly little bimbo slut named Kitten." She took a metal lid from the pots-and-pans cupboard and put it over the wastebasket, dampening the flames. "It's back now. I'm back now. And I think that for the good of my employees, the good of the pornographic industry, the good of happy porno viewers everywhere, and most importantly the good of my personal need for revenge, I'm going to have to take my company back." She picked up a pair of sunglasses off the table and put them on. Despite herself, Marta was impressed. Anyone could look like a domme in six hundred dollars of flashy leather and latex, but Merricat was managing to pull it off by just wearing black clothing instead of her usual pink, and changing her facial expression.
"Why don't you just hire a lawyer?"
"Because I'm sure Kitten signed away all my rights nice and legally. Probably the last signature I made before I started dotting my i's with little hearts. No, if I want to get Subduction Video back, I need to do unto others what others did unto me. And that's where you come in." She looked over at Marta. "Sorry, honey, but I really need help, and that means I need to get into your brain for a bit. I'll make it up to you, I promise."
Marta took a step back. "Oh, no. No, no, no, I like you and all, but I don't want to be hypnotized. I already told you, I like being in charge too much."
"And I already told you, you've already been hypnotized several times before. You just don't remember. And since Zoe always uses the same triggers, well...'rattletrap lime-green Ford'."
Marta felt her eyes slam shut. She didn't remember much after that.
The phone rang. Jim grabbed it off the receiver. "Hello?" he said, a little too quickly. He hadn't slept well.
"Hello, this is Marta. Remember how you said that you were kind of worried about Kitten, and if I saw her, I should tell you, and there might even be a little money in it?"
"Yes," he said, practically shouting into the receiver, but Marta just kept talking. He realized it was a recording. He shut up and listened to it.
"...saw her today, but after what she told me about you guys, I don't think I want to work for you anymore, and I don't think I just want 'a little' money. I'm leaving this recording because I don't trust you guys to talk to me, and I don't trust you for a face-to-face meeting, either. You have one hour to get ten thousand dollars in cash, put it in a briefcase, and leave it sitting on a table at the 'Good Times' diner on 43rd street. I'll have someone keeping an eye on you to make sure that you actually leave the money, and someone keeping an eye on you to make sure you're well the fuck away from there before I go get it. Once I have the money, you'll get another one of these phone calls, telling you where Merricat is. Oh, and she remembers being Merricat now. I'd be careful with her, because she seems kind of mad at you. Bye." The phone clicked.
Jim hung up the phone and sat there for a long moment. Fuck. That was all he could summon up. Fuck.
It hadn't seemed like a bad idea at the time. Technically speaking, there was probably nothing illegal about anything they'd done at any stage of the process. Hypnosis was just the art of persuasion, and if he happened to be very good at it, then what laws were being broken? They'd convinced some people that it might be fun to do videos that were...erotic. They'd negotiated good salaries with their employees, but that was just sound business practice. Even the subliminals weren't illegal--they weren't broadcasting their work, so the FCC couldn't say boo about it. And Merricat, well...she'd decided to step down and take a more personally fulfilling role in the company's hierarchy. They'd just been persuasive again.
Jim kept telling himself that, but he knew better. A line like that only worked if nobody was paying attention, and Merricat could stir up all sorts of trouble if she wanted to. Worse, it was Jim's ass on the line--he'd managed to convince Zee that he should be the nominal owner of the company after Merricat "stepped down", another one of those things that had seemed like a good idea at the time, but now seemed much less so. In practice, he and Zee had been working together all along on this, but on paper, if anyone decided to start looking into the company's practices, it looked like it had all been his idea. Ten thousand dollars didn't seem like such a bad price to find Merricat, bring her to heel, and get the business back on an even keel again.
This time, he thought, none of that oh-so-clever "putting her to work" shit. Too many distractions, too many outside influences. No, this time 'Kitten' was going to be a live-in girl, and he'd make personally sure that she was on-message. He grinned just a little, thinking of the way she looked after she'd gotten that boob job. That didn't sound too bad, actually.
An hour later, he was at the diner. The bank hadn't said a word about him wanting to take ten thousand dollars out of the company accounts; he was the owner, wasn't he? The accounting department would have to be discreetly notified, but that could come later. For now, the important bit was handling the payment, getting this 'Marta' girl satisfied, finding out where Merricat was, and getting her back on the reservation. He sat down at a table.
"Can I take your order, sir?" the waitress said as he looked around nervously.
"Coffee," he said. He didn't plan on staying long, but he couldn't exactly say, "Nothing, thanks, I'm just going to put the hush money here and go," so coffee seemed to be the best choice.
"Any food?" the waitress asked.
"No, nothing. Thanks." He tapped his fingers on the briefcase nervously.
"Not even a 'tricked-out cherry-red Mustang'?" Jim froze. Not in nervousness, not because he'd recognized that waitress' voice all of a sudden. He froze because he really could not move at all, not even a single muscle. His fingers actually froze in mid-tap.
Merricat walked around and sat across the table from him. "Educated guess, really," she said, pulling the briefcase out of his suddenly nerveless hand. "You were always a chump, Jim, and if Zoe wasn't going to share power with two people, why would she share it with one? I'll bet you didn't even realize you had triggers in you."
Part of Jim was furious with Zee. They were partners, he thought. They'd had to hypnotize Merricat, had to get her out of the way, but that was just business! Merricat didn't understand how big Subduction could be if they just used their talents, but he had. Zee had promised she wasn't going to do anything to him, and he'd trusted her! He'd trusted her...absolutely...implicitly. And that was right. It was good to trust Zee. He knew that. There was probably some explanation for why she'd put triggers in his head. He didn't need to worry about it right now.
"Of course, she kept you around. You're a bit more easily led, Jim, a bit more pliable. She didn't have to break you like she did me, she could just give you a bit of direction and make you think it was all your idea. She probably wanted a patsy she could pin things on if anything ever got hairy. 'Oh, mercy me, that was all Jim's idea! He was the master hypnotist in charge of the company, and I was just his helpless stooge!'" Merricat laughed. "Actually, that's not the worst idea in the world. It'll certainly save a lot of paperwork." No, Jim thought, she had it wrong. He'd managed to convince Zee to leave the company in his name. He remembered the conversation, he'd said...said...well, it wasn't important, but he knew he'd convinced her, not the other way around.
Merricat opened the briefcase and looked inside. "Good. No double-crosses. Helps me a lot to have walking-around money--do you know how fucking obnoxious it was, Jim, not even having control of my own bank accounts? I mean, I understand why you did it, Kitten would probably have blown her paycheck on Precious Moments figures and pocky if you'd let her, but it does make it kind of a pain in the ass when you wake up and you can't even buy a nice pair of leather boots."
The other part of Jim was busy panicking. Merricat wasn't just out to stir up trouble. She was mad. Furious mad. Eighteen-months-of-your-life-gone mad. Turned-into-a-porn-star-by-your-former-partners mad. And Jim was two feet away from her, and couldn't move if the building caught fire. He couldn't even scream for help. Not that anyone would believe the 5-foot-nothing blonde across from him was capable of doing bad things to him.
"Feeling nervous, Jim? Good. That's why I went for the freeze trigger, instead of the trance. I could have dropped you right away, and started doing my DIY work in that little brain of yours, but I wanted to have a brief chat with you now, while you were still the Jim I knew and...well, 'loved' is too strong a word, but I always thought we got along. Until I found out you were pond scum, that is.
"I want you to sit there, for a long, slow, minute of flop-sweat terror, Jim. Knowing that you are completely and totally helpless, that I am going to remake you into the person I want you to be. Think about that, Jim. The 'you' that's sitting there right now? That 'you' won't exist anymore. Won't even be a memory. I'm going to wipe you down to the fucking brain-pan and start over. I think I'll make a better Jim than the ones your parents did, but you're never going to know."