Worlds Colliding Ch. 04bycafetray©
All the standard disclaimers apply.
In the interests of citing one's sources, my definition for Behaviorism comes from Wikipedia.
When the knock on the door came, barely an hour after the warning phone call, and Asha saw who it was, she didn't try to hide her shock or her worry. She'd never been particularly good at masking her emotions, and even if she were, her visitor would have known anyway.
"I take it Victoria already called you?" Bridget asked.
"Leslie, actually," Asha explained. "She said I shouldn't be alone with you."
Bridget nodded, "We can talk in a nice, public spot ... whatever you like. But we need to talk. You going to tell them I was here?"
"That depends on what you tell me."
"Okay. Whatever they told you, take the opposite and you'll be a lot closer to the truth," Bridget began. "Victoria, Leslie, Allie and Tammi have all been taken over by this crazy woman. She's got this machine, I don't know how it works, and it controls people's minds. She's used it on them, and they'll be coming for you soon."
"You realize how crazy this sounds?" Asha took a look up and down the hall to make sure no one else heard how crazy it sounded. "They're saying you're the one who's crazy, and now you show up with a story like that. What am I supposed to think, Bridget?"
"I can prove it."
"Come to New York City with me."
Asha gave Bridget a skeptical look, "Why would I do that?"
"Because New York is where the proof is. Because you aren't safe here. And," Bridget took a deep breath, "because right now I need all the friends I can get."
That got through. Asha's entire posture relaxed a bit, "I don't know ..."
"Look, I won't make you do anything," Bridget continued, "but I am going to New York, right now, with or with out you and I really think it is in your best interest to come with me. But that's for you to decide.
"While you're deciding, though, think about this; you know me, we're friends. Am I acting crazy? Do you honestly think I've snapped? And while we're at it, how much sense does it make that Leslie called to tell you about me?"
"It makes perfect sense," Asha replied. "It's the kind of thing you always did for Victoria and if you were out of the picture, of course she'd find someone else to do it."
"That's all true, but why Leslie?" Bridger asked. "You know what Victoria thinks of her. And Leslie is all the way up in New Hampshire. Why wouldn't she choose someone closer, like Tammi or Ashley ... girls we both know she likes better?"
"I don't know."
"I'll tell you why. Victoria isn't calling the shots anymore, that crazy woman is and Leslie is in all the way with her."
Asha bit at her lip, "Think about what you are asking me to do."
"I'm asking you to go to The City to see my proof. If I'm lying, it isn't like there won't be people around to help you. But if I am right, you'll be here all alone when they come to turn your brain into goo."
"Let me get my bag," Asha finally said.
They didn't speak during the cab ride to the commuter rail station. Bridget began her explanation on the station platform and continued it on the express train, stopping briefly as people walked by their seat. At Grand Central Station, Bridget noticed Asha made sure to stay a step or two behind as they walked. She couldn't blame her friend for being cautious.
The two crossed Lexington Avenue, and as had been arranged, Bridget asked for Maura at the front desk. The hotel worker called up and 15 minutes later, two women stepped out of the elevator, heading straight for Bridget and Asha. * * *
The first thing Maura noticed was how young these girls were ... they were practically children! Or maybe she was just getting old? One of the girls was Indian, short and dark skinned with big, sloe brown eyes, a beautiful, delicate face and a heap of wild black hair barely contained by the pins positioned haphazardly in the mass. She was dressed casually in jeans, fleece and black t-shirt. Despite her youth, or because of it, she was absolutely adorable ... which was unfortunate for her because her companion was truly stunning.
This girl stood a head taller than her friend, which made them both shorter than Maura. Her straight orange/red hair ran to her shoulders and contrasted beautifully with her pale skin and brilliant green eyes. Maura could tell by her lines and the way she carried herself this girl was athletic and strong, but she was still incredibly feminine. She was dressed as casually as her friend in jeans and a loose sweater; but the sweater was not so loose as to hide a pair of magnificent breasts that left Maura a little envious but mostly a little tingly between the legs.
"Bridget?" she asked.
The redhead stuck out her hand, "Maura?"
"How do you do," they shook. "This is Cynthia. She's the head of the New York Coven."
More hand shakes. Bridget said, "And this is my friend Asha, I think she can help us."
"Let's head up to Maura's room so we can ..." Cynthia began.
Asha cut her off, "Hold it. I'm not going anywhere yet."
She tossed her head at Maura, "You're supposed to be in the FBI? Let's see some ID."
Maura shrugged, reached into her jacket and pulled out her wallet, flipping it open to her photo ID. As Asha scrutinized it, she realized she had no idea how to tell a real FBI ID from a fake one, but the fact Maura had responded so quickly and casually led her to think this was legit. She looked at Cynthia.
"Unfortunately, they don't make identification for my position," Cynthia said regally. "You'll just have to take my word for it."
Bridget placed a hand on Asha's elbow, "It's okay."
The four went up to Maura's room, where Bridget explained what had happened, though she admitted she had no idea how Prof. Sawyer was doing what she was doing.
"To a certain extent, I can answer that," Maura said. She pulled a file with the Great Seal of the United States of America emblazoned on it from her satchel. It occurred to Bridget that it might be illegal for her to look at what was inside the file, though Maura didn't seem concerned. She dropped a stack of paper, bound together with a huge clip, on the table.
"It's called a control sphere. I don't claim to completely understand how it works, but it seems like subliminal messaging on steroids. It broadcasts a message into your brain at a frequency this Prof. Sawyer figured out bypasses all the filters we use to process data. Basically it pumps information directly into your head and, 30-60 minutes later, you do what the message tells you to do, without question or hesitation.
"Where did you get this stuff?" Bridget asked as she flipped through the pages.
"It was her proposal for a non-lethal weapon system 4 years ago."
Bridget put the stack down, "This is interesting, but how does it help us? I can't make heads or tails of any of this. Can you?"
No one could.
"Well, this is why I invited someone else to the meeting," Cynthia said, and at that moment there was a knock on the door. "Ahhh, perfect timing."
Cynthia stood and let another woman in. Trim and smart looking, she looked to be in her late 50's, "Everyone, this is Dr. Janice Selmon. Janice is a psychologist at the Atratyne Research Lab over in Florham Park."
Cynthia took her seat at the table. There being no where else to sit, Janice sat at the foot of the nearby bed.
"We were wondering if you'd ever heard of a Prof Karen Sawyer," Cynthia asked.
"Sure, everyone's heard of her, she's famous," Janice laughed slightly. "Infamous is more like it."
"What do you know about her?"
"You mean other than she's a lunatic?" Janice saw her joke had fallen flat. She assumed a more serious tone, "She made a big push into applied psychology a couple years back, made some pretty wild claims and backed them up with some even wilder theories. Let's just say she didn't survive the peer review process."
"Why's that?" Maura asked.
"Well, for one thing, she isn't a psychologist. She a physicist, if I remember correctly," Janice said. "And she took a pretty extreme approach to things. Basically, she's what we call a Behaviorist, and like most Behaviorists, she totally discounts any independent significance of the mind. She believes freewill is an illusion and that all behavior is determined by a combination of forces comprised of genetic factors and the environment either through association or reinforcement. Nothing wrong with that, so far; Behaviorism is a perfectly valid school of psychological thought. Her theory was that technology had now surpassed genetic factors and the environment in importance. To top it off, she said she was on her way to making a machine that would validate her theory."
"And that didn't go over well?"
Janice laughed again, "It's ridiculous on its face. Even if it were possible, the ethical problems of a machine that can manipulate behavior are pretty enormous. That isn't psychology, that's mind control."
Cynthia picked up the file and tossed it to Janice.
"What's this?" Janice asked.
"Prof. Sawyer's ethical problem."
Janice coughed skeptically as she read the overview. After a while, she flipped to a page deep in the pile, read quickly, then flipped back. 20 minutes later, Janice's eyes were wide open as she read, the silence in the room broken only by her occasional gasp of "Dear Lord!"
"Do you understand how it works?" Cynthia asked sternly.
"Sort of. I don't get the whole electronics end of it, the broadcast and frequency stuff isn't my field. But what she says it's all going to do agrees with a lot of the bleeding edge research out there," Janice looked up. The color had drained from her face. "You're saying this thing is real?"
"It's real, and she's used it," Cynthia confirmed. "She's used it on 4 members of Bridget's coven, including its head. It works all too well. What can we do to get our people back?"
"I don't know."
"There has to be something!"
"Maybe, but I don't know what it is. This is so far beyond anything I've ever seen or dealt with. I don't know where to begin," Janice could feel the panic leaking into her brain. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "There are two people back at the lab that could help. Can I show this stuff to them?"
Everyone looked at Maura, who asked, "Are they in The Association?"
Maura sighed. It was clear she didn't want to let the file out of her possession. "Okay, but be particularly careful with that."
"I will," Janice stuffed the file in her bag and left without bothering to say good bye.
No one moved, or said anything, at first.
"What if she can't fix Victoria and Tammi and the others?" Asha finally asked.
"Then we try something else," Cynthia said firmly. "I've called for an Augur. She'll be here tomorrow."
"What's an Augur?" Asha whispered to Bridget.
"They're sort of like Janice, actually. They experiment with the magic, figure out how it works and come up with new spells as needed," Bridget whispered back.
"There's a bit more to it than that," Cynthia smiled slightly. "But that's close enough."
"Why tomorrow?" Maura asked. "We're in trouble now."
"There aren't that many of them. Victoria told me you could count all of them on one hand," Bridget said. "Who knows where the closest one is?"
"Actually, there are seven," Cynthia corrected, "and the closest one is in LA, which is why we wait until tomorrow."
Cynthia walked to the door, "My advice to you would be to stay in and order room service. Do not go out, and if you find you have to, do not go alone. Stay together at all times. I'll be back tomorrow." * * *
There was only one bed in the room. Bridget slept in the tub, and slept poorly at that. She got up a couple times, over the course of the night, and sat by the window to stare at the city. It was so unfair, trapped in what was the most exciting city in the world and she was stuck in a hotel room without a bed of her own. There were a lot of things unfair about the whole situation. Asha slept on the floor and Maura slept in the bed, which was only fair because she was paying for the room. Neither of them seemed to have a problem falling asleep. It was 3:30a before she was tired enough for the sleep to take hold. It felt like she'd barely closed her eyes before someone was shaking her awake. Maura stood above her.
"Cynthia's here," she said.
Bridger stepped out of the bathroom. Cynthia was indeed back, and she'd brought Janice with her. Maura and Asha were rooting through some clothing piled on the bed.
"I brought you a change of cloths," Cynthia explained. She handed Bridget a plastic bag, "and a Care Package ... there's soap, shampoo, deodorant, some make-up...
"And this," she continued, "is Irina."
The Augur was not what Bridget had expected. Irina looked barely older than Bridget, in her late 20's at most, and painfully thin. She wore a newsboy cap, a curl of jet black hair obscured her left eye. A nose ring glinted in the morning light. She had on a ragged white t-shirt and a fitted wool jacked, neither of which was long enough to cover her defined abs or bellybutton ring. Her skirt was short, almost indecently so, as opposed to her long, black stockings which went halfway up her thin legs, all the way to her knees. On her feet were a pair of ratty, red Converse Chuck Taylors, loosely tied.
Irina nodded, "Hey."
"Uhhhh, Hi," Bridget said.
The women gathered around the table, with Janice on the bed again. Bridget leaned against a wall.
"Okay," Cynthia called the meeting to order. "Janice, what have you got?"
"We worked all night and I am sorry to say we don't have much," Janice grumbled as she handed the file back to Maura. "We're still not sure how the thing works, precisely."
"Can we get Victoria and the others back?" Maura asked.
"I don't know."
"When will you know?"
"I have no idea," Janice admitted. "It could be quite a while."
Cynthia exhaled, her disappointment evident, "Okay, what do you have?"
"Given the output of its power source, this is what we know: It has about a 20 foot range, it requires a fairly quiet environment to work, and we have this," Janice placed a small plastic device on the table. It was about the size and shape of a cigarette lighter, with an LED display.
"What is it?" Maura asked.
"We know what frequency the control sphere broadcasts at," Janice said. "This will display three dashed if it finds that frequency within a 20 foot radius. Basically, it's a control sphere detector."
"That's all well and good," Asha said, "but how are we going to get our people back?"
"I may be able to help with that," Irina said. Reaching into the breast pocket of her jacket, she tossed a black ceramic square, two inches on a side, on the table.
"What is this?"
"Instant induction," Irina said, a gleam in her eyes. "You give a girl an orgasm with this little baby around and she's ours ... and it's good for three uses!"
"Do we know if it will work on the girls Prof Sawyer got?" Bridget asked.
"One way to find out."
"Okay, let's say it works. How long before we can get more of these?"
"There are no more."
The air rushed out of the room, "Excuse me?"
"There are no more."
"You said this thing had three uses?"
"We've lost four girls," Bridget pointed out. Irina shrugged.
"So what good is it?" Asha exploded.
"Well, first of all," Irina enunciated as if Asha were an idiot, "it would be good to know if we can get them back at all, don't you think? If we can, I'll figure out how to do it again. That good enough for you, sunshine?"
Asha looked like she was going to explain exactly why she didn't think it was good enough, but Bridget stopped her, "She's right, we need to figure out if we can even get our people back, and we have enough here for a plan. One of us needs to go back up there, get one of them alone and see if this ... square ... works. Whoever goes can use this thing Janice came up with to make sure they aren't using one of those control spheres. The only question is, which one of us goes?"
Everyone spent an uncomfortable moment looking at each other.
"I'll do it."
Everyone looked at Asha.
"It's the only thing that makes sense. None of them will go anywhere near Bridget without one of those control spheres. Can't send Cynthia because we've already lost one coven head. We can't send Maura because she's got kids, for God's sake. We can't send the Spice Girl here because, ooohhhhh," Asha sarcastically waved her hands in the air, "there are only seven of her in the whole world. And we can't send Janice because, nothing personal, she's a little old for their tastes. So that leaves me. I'm probably on their list anyway and Tammi's my best friend so she won't think twice about seeing me. I'll go, I'll get Tammi and if it works, I'll bring her back."
Cynthia looked at her watch, "A train leaves in two hours."
Asha showered, and given the circumstances, was allowed first choice of the clothes Cynthia brought. They all walked her to Penn Station to see her off. Maura and Bridget went back to the hotel. Janice, Irina and Cynthia left from the station.
"How long, do you think, before we know?" Maura asked once they were in the room.
"Four hour train trip, an hour to get to Tammi's place, figure another hour or two if Tammi isn't home ... sometime tonight at the earliest."
Bridget stretched, then pulled her sweater off, "God, I reek! I'm going to take a shower."
She stripped down in the bathroom, ran the water as hot as she could stand and let it flow over her. She was shampooing when the bathroom door opened a crack.
"Bridget, I'm going to run to a pizza place I know around the corner, you want anything?" Maura called.
"Cynthia said we shouldn't go anywhere by ourselves."
"It'll be okay. It's less than a block away and I'll be right back."
Bridget thought it over, "Bring me back a plain slice."
She finished the shower, and dried herself. She didn't bother with her hair, she wasn't going anywhere anyway. Wrapping a fresh towel around her body, she stepped into the room to pick out something to wear.
Someone was in the corner, by the table; Bridget saw her out of the corner of her eye. She screamed, then arms were wrapped around her. The two tumbled to the bed. She thrashed, trying to break free, the arms wrapped her up tighter.
"It's me, it's me," Maura yelled, hugging Bridget close, trying to calm her. When Bridget stopped struggling, she said softly, "I forgot my wallet ... I just came back to get it."
They lay on the bed, holding each other until Bridget started to laugh. But she was still trembling. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," Maura assured her. "It's my fault. I didn't mean to scare you."
"I guess it's all starting to get to me."
Bridget looked up, "If this thing with Asha goes bad, if they get her, it's all over. You know that?"
"It occurred to me. But it hasn't gone bad yet," Maura said. She ran her hand up and down Bridget's back. The towel had come loose, her hand drifted all the way down to Bridget's naked behind. She pulled her hand back, "Sorry."
"It's okay," Bridget whispered and pulled Maura close. Her head rested in the crook of Maura's neck. She could feel Bridget's breath, then her lips.
"Bridget," Maura whispered.
"It's okay," Bridget repeated. The lips became more urgent. Maura was rolled on to her back.
"We shouldn't," Maura murmured.
"Why not?" Bridget asked. She was on top of Maura now, their mouths drifting closer and closer, and Maura suddenly couldn't think of an objection. Bridget gripped the lapels of Maura's jacket, pulling together as they kissed.. Maura's hands slid over the curve of Bridget's naked ass. Maura could still feel Bridget trembling as their jaws worked and their tongues thrust. Bridget lifted up, grabbed the towel sandwiched between them and threw it aside. Maura was thrilled to see Bridget's nakedness was as glorious as she'd hoped.