A 101 - d2cbyfiat_knox©
by Alex Greene writing as "Fiat Knox"
Copyright © Alex Greene. All rights reserved.
Brazil. September, 1982.
Hot, humid, sweaty, the ancient hotel room with its crumbling walls and ratty-looking mat on the rough wooden floor to its uneven, lumpy bed smelling of sweat, had never seen better days.
Dr Thomas William Sharpton looked up from his book. Paolo had entered the room and stood in the doorway, batting away insects with one hand while holding an object in the other.
Dr Sharpton stood up from the chair on the balcony where he'd been sitting. He crossed over to the barefoot young lad, and looked down at the item in his hands.
'Good lad,' he told Paolo. 'How much did this set you back?'
'One hundred cruzeiros,' Paolo replied. 'All the money you wired to me.'
Dr Sharpton nodded, and crossed over to his bed. Taking out the wallet from his coat, he counted out a couple of bills and proffered them to the young boy. 'For your troubles,' he said. Taking the bills in hand, the boy handed over the object to Dr Sharpton and left the room.
Dr Sharpton went back to the balcony chair. Sitting down, he picked up his half-consumed sweet caipirinha and sipped it, turning the item over and over in his hand.
It was a small stone, fitting snugly in the palm of his hand. A stone bearing distinctive markings etched into its surface.
A stone which offered conclusive proof of the existence of the people he had been looking for.
The present day.
Julia opened the door, and peered out at the strangers.
The taller one was slim, clad in a full length red leather catsuit. Red hair, red heart-shaped sunglasses, red stripper heels. Her smile was natural; as she lowered her shades, Julia could see that the smile actually did reach this woman's eyes.
'Hi,' the woman said. 'The name's Tamsin. Dr Henderson's office sent me here. They say there could be some ... fun.'
Julia frowned. 'Mandy? Is that you?'
Tamsin stared. 'Julia?'
Anna peered around the door jamb and into the corridor. 'You two know each other?'
The other figure stepped forwards, looking at Tamsin/Mandy. 'Mum?' she asked.
'It's okay, Jenny,' Tamsin said. 'Look who it is.'
The second woman glanced at Julia. 'Oh my God. Auntie Julia?'
Anna slowly backed into the living room.
The Sharpton Institute.
The reception area was a clinical-looking expanse, with a vast, imposing reception desk at the far end. It smelled as clean as it looked; a place where dust particles dared not settle.
A couple, a man and a woman, stood and chatted casually, smiling and laughing, in front of the desk. The man was tall and red-haired; the woman was petite, her blonde hair in pigtails.
Both were stark naked. The woman held a gas mask in one hand, and the man's erect penis in the other. They were both hot and perspiring, as if they'd just finished some vigorous exercise.
Alicia, the receptionist, sat listening to Anna on the phone. 'Okay. Got it. Thanks, Anna,' she said, putting the phone down.
'Okay,' she said, 'now that was freaky weird.'
She looked up at Dr Henderson, who'd approached the desk while she'd been talking to Anna.
'That was Anna,' Alicia replied. 'Something unexpected has happened.'
'Report,' he said.
'Did you know that Julia and Handler One are sisters?' Alicia asked.
'What happened to you?'
The lighter snapped. Blue cigarette smoke wreathed Tamsin's face. 'There was this chat room,' Tamsin said. 'Amanda ... I ... joined it. The details are fuzzy. The way I figure it is this. There was a link, I think. I clicked on it. There was a page. Something on it - I don't know what it was - caught my attention, and the next thing was, I had accepted an invitation to visit the Sharpton Institute.
'And they processed me.'
'Me, too,' Jenny replied, sucking on an electronic cigarette and blowing out a cloud of white vapour.
'I didn't know you smoked,' Julia said to Tamsin.
'Not till the Sharpton Institute recruited me,' Tamsin replied. 'When I go back to being Mandy, I don't smoke.'
'It's the nicotine,' Anna said. 'It enhances the effect of the reagents we use in conditioning you.' She said this with a cold matter-of-factness; yet the other women just seemed to accept this fact. They were conditioned. They knew that they were conditioned. But they had been conditioned not to get worked up over it.
The living room smelled of Febreze, and the window had just been closed to clear the cigarette smoke; so the air was cool.
The face in the photo on the coffee table, belonging to some aging, bald, jowly man in an expensive suit, was vaguely familiar. Beside that photo was another; a stern-looking mature woman with a mane of blonde hair.
'His name is Arthur Michaels. He's a spad. Er, special advisor,' Tamsin said. 'They say he's in line for a Lordship some day. The woman in the photo next to him is his wife, Diana. She's not the second subject.'
'I'll come to that in a moment. Look here.' Another photo skidded across the table. Arthur Michaels in a photo with the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister.
'There was an article on him. Something about exerting undue influence over the PM. Too much influence. A chance just arose to correct that.'
'Which is why we've got to do the p2p thing,' Julia replied.
'd2c,' Anna corrected.
'So who's the second subject?'
Tasmin slid another photo across the table. Julia saw a pretty Middle Eastern woman smiling in the photo. Long, straight hair, dark brown eyes, high cheekbones, full lips. 'His mistress, Sahirah Farah Shamima,' Tasmin said.
'Interesting,' Julia said, looking at the photo. 'Why do we need her?'
'As much as he enjoys being married to his wife Diana,' Tamsin said, 'he loves Sahirah. We need that knowledge to turn him.'
'That's all well and good,' Julia said. 'But how do we do that, Mand- I mean Tamsin?'
'We start,' Tamsin replied. 'with a phone call.' She held up her smartphone.
The phone rang. Diana Michaels, dressed in her gardening overalls, Wellington boots and gardening gloves, still carrying the scent of the garden with her, picked it up.
'The Michaels residence,' she said, her voice plummy and cultured.
'Hi,' came the voice over the phone.
'Who is this?'
'Time to sleep.'
'Diana's face went slack. She let out her breath. Her eyes glazed over.
'Unconscious mind,' the voice said, 'say hello.'
'Hello,' Diana said, her voice a hollow monotone.
'Begin,' the voice said. 'Follow your instructions.'
The line went dead. Diana blinked and looked at the phone. She shrugged and put the receiver down. 'Wrong number,' she said to herself.
She turned to go back to the garden; then checked herself and turned to go upstairs.
In one of the spare rooms, Diana opened a Victorian armoire and reached for a heavy shoebox on the top shelf. Inside were two silvery metal gas cylinders, held together by a rigid frame, capped with a grey triangular device. Diana attached a short, transparent plastic hose to a nozzle on top of the device. Then she flicked a switch to arm the device - a red LED came on - and put it back in the box.
In the echoing garage, she unlocked the Jaguar and opened the door. Diana reached beneath the front passenger seat and pushed the device under the seat, out of sight.
Then, closing the door and leaving the garage, she returned to the phone. Dialling 1471, she let the number ring twice and hung up. A moment later she shook her head in confusion, unsure what she was supposed to be doing. Sighing, she returned to the garden.
Tamsin looked at her phone. She looked at Julia, Anna and Jenny. 'Done,' she said. 'We're good to go. All we have to do is wait for Arthur Michaels to pick up his woman.'
'And what makes you so sure he's going to be taking that car, to pick her up?'
'Diana's been of great help,' Tamsin replied. 'None of his other cars are working right now. Various mechanical problems.' She smiled. 'Also, today is Friday night. Arthur always takes Friday afternoon off to pick up his woman and head off to his country house in Hampshire.'
'Does his wife know about their affair?'
'Oh, she does,' Tamsin replied.
Anna chuckled. 'When do we move?'
'Twenty minutes,' Tamsin said. 'We need to have all the pieces in place by the time Arthur rolls.'
Stephanie Sharpton looked closely at the delicate flowers, each isolated from the other under glass.
'What are they?'
Dr Sharpton turned to Stephanie. 'Orchids,' he replied. 'Brazilian orchids, from the deepest part of the rain forest. Unheard-of outside of their tropical environment.'
'Are these what all the fuss was about at Customs?' Stephanie asked.
'They are,' Dr Sharpton replied. He crossed over to stand beside Stephanie. 'They are very important to my research,' he added.
'Don't worry about that,' Dr Sharpton replied, patting Stephanie on her shoulder. 'Let's just say that my research into human behaviour modification just took a massive step forward.'
'We've set up the collection for this point here,' Tamsin said, pointing to the map. 'On the B3420, before the Three Maids Hill roundabout here.'
'How are you arranging it?'
'Collection van here,' Tamsin said, pointing. 'Fake traffic lights here. Cones here to narrow the road and create a bottleneck. B team wagon here, out of sight, ready to move in and clean up once the deed is done.' She looked up at the team. 'Does everybody know what they are doing?'
The others replied in the affirmative.
'Then let's do it,' Tamsin replied.
The Jaguar passed by the young Lycra-clad cyclist, forcing her to stop at the side of the road.
'Target acquired,' Jenny said, to her mic pickup. 'He's on his way.'
'Acknowledged,' Tamsin said, some way up the road. 'Get ready.' She called up an app on her smartphone, and remotely triggered the lights.
Presently, the Jaguar hove into view, slowing down and stopping at the temporary traffic light. The collection van bore the livery of the local council. Sitting in the driver's seat, wearing a council worker's uniform and signal orange tabard, her face half-concealed beneath a cap, Tamsin could see Arthur and Sahirah sitting in the front seat. Arthur clearly preferred to drive his own car, rather than have a chauffeur.
Tamsin waited for the right moment. Then she remotely activated the gas cylinders underneath Sahirah's car seat.
'What's going on?' Arthur asked. The lights had been red for what felt like an eternity.
'I don't know,' Sahirah replied. She looked up from her phone, where she'd been tweeting about how the journey always seemed to take forever. She blinked and shook her head. 'Is there a problem?'
Arthur rubbed his eyes. 'Not sure,' he said. 'The lights are stuck on red, I think.'
Sahirah nodded and began to yawn. Her head and arms felt heavy. 'Oh,' she said, as her phone slipped from her fingers.
Beside her, Arthur yawned, beeping his horn for attention. It didn't look as if there was anyone around, apart from that one workman sitting in the council van. Arthur tried beeping the horn again, but there was no response.
A creeping lethargy stole upon him. His hands slipped from the wheel onto his lap.
Sahirah fumbled beneath her chair for her phone. She felt it, but she could not gain any purchase; her fingers were really clumsy. Unbeknown to her, her bending down to reach beneath the seat was bringing her face closer to the end of the hose, exposing her to a greater concentration of the releasing gas.
'Wait,' Sahirah said, yawning, her eyes half-closing. 'I've got it.' Her hands closed around something hard. 'No, that's not my phone,' she said. She coughed. Beside her, Arthur also coughed, followed by a huge yawn.
'Oh, this is taking forever,' Arthur said, irritably. For some reason, he could barely move his limbs. 'What is going on?' he said, the words slurring.
'What the hell's this?' Sahirah said, slurring her words. She pulled out the gently hissing gas bottles and the hose, and tried picking up the device with leaden hands. She only managed to pull out the hose from the device; gas rushed into the compartment, blowing into their faces.
Sahirah's eyelids felt heavy, and her body was becoming unresponsive. She found herself staring at the device, wondering what it was and why it was making that noise; as she thought that, she passed out as Arthur succumbed to unconsciousness beside her, his head lolling back as his eyes closed.
'They're under,' Tamsin said, as the targets slumped in their seats into unconsciousness. She shut off the gas flow in the device, and remotely unlocked the Jaguar. 'Pick them up.'
The back of the van opened. Julia and Anna emerged from the van, wearing council uniforms and tabards, their faces concealed behind gas masks. They were carrying more gas cylinders like the one in the Jaguar, but with tubes ending in medical masks. Quickly, they made their way towards the car. Opening the doors, they got to work, undoing the seat belts holding Arthur and Sahirah and strapping the medical breathing masks to their faces.
'Let's get them in the back,' Anna said. 'We've got to drive the car to Arthur's country house and leave it parked there for the weekend.'
'Is that where the second unit is?' Julia asked.
'Yes,' Anna said. 'They're waiting to take the targets to the Institute.'
They hauled the couple into the back of the car. Anna got into the driver's seat. 'Julia,' she said, 'you go on back to the Institute with Tamsin. Take the payload here with you and secure it.' She gave Julia the gas cylinders which had been planted under the car seat.
'We only need one driver for this,' Anna said. 'Go. It will be fine.'
Julia made her way back to the council van, as Jenny arrived on her bicycle.
'Let's go,' Jenny said, hauling the bike into the back of the collection van. Already, the lights were on green and the Jag was pulling away, the two unconscious targets slumbering in the back.
Julia and Jenny closed the back doors of the van, and Tamsin began to pull away. Even as the van drove away, Julia could see a lorry coming along to pick up the cones and traffic lights.
'In a few minutes,' Jenny said, 'it'll be as if there was no-one there.'
Julia pulled off her mask. 'Just how it should be.'
Arthur could not remember how he came to this room. As far as he knew, he had always been here and had always intended to come here, to whatever this place was.
The chamber he was in looked like a luxury hotel room. He was sitting on a leather sofa that had to be worth two grand, minimum. There was another one facing him across from a glass-topped coffee table on which rested a small wooden box and a lighter. There was what looked like a coffee dispenser at the far end of the room, opposite from him, situated beneath a large mirror mounted in the wall.
For some reason, Arthur was wearing what looked like a bathrobe of kingfisher blue silk. Underneath the robe, he was naked. He couldn't remember undressing.
The room felt hot and humid; a greenhouse. It reminded him of his own greenhouse back home, where he kept those marijuana plants growing between the tomatoes. His skin began to prickle with sweat. Persipiration covered his forehead.
'This is incredible,' Julia whispered as she peered at the CCTV display on the HD screen in the control room.
In the image on the screen, Arthur could be seen opening his eyes and coming around.
Anna leaned towards the microphone in front of her. 'Sahirah opens the door and enters the room,' she said. 'She is wearing only a short bathrobe. She crosses the room and sits opposite you, crossing her legs.'
The door opened, and Sahirah entered. She, too, was wearing a bathrobe; short-sleeved, it only covered her to the tops of her thighs. Smiling, Sahirah crossed the room and sat on the sofa facing him, crossing her long legs.
She smiled at Arthur.
'Wait,' Julia said, 'he's responding to Sahirah?' On the screen, Arthur turned towards the door, reacting to thin air; as they watched, he turned to follow something only he could see, crossing his legs and sitting back.
'He's got a hard-on,' Julia said, watching as Arthur tried to conceal his erection.
'Watch this,' Julia said, leaning towards the microphone.
Sahirah leaned forwards as Arthur watched. As she opened the small box and took out a cigarette, the front of her robe fell open and he could see a glimpse of her breasts.
He watched as she lit the cigarette, blowing a streamer of smoke into the air.
'You don't smoke,' he said, as she looked at him, her robe still lying open, her breasts still exposed.
She took another drag of the cigarette. 'I don't,' she replied. She blew a streamer of blue smoke at Arthur, pursing her lips.
Arthur coughed as the smoke reached his face.
Julia watched Arthur cough and wave his hand in the air in front of him. She looked at Anna.
'Did he just react to non-existent cigarette smoke?' she asked Anna.
'Yes,' Anna replied.
'I had no idea the gas could do this,' she said.
'No, it just induces hypnosis,' Anna said, as Arthur shifted uncomfortably in his seat. 'This is one of the triggers I put into his mind while he was in a deep trance. Watch this.'
She leaned towards the microphone. 'She is now getting to her feet and approaching you, undoing her robe ... she is standing in front of you, opening her robe and holding it open so you can see her naked body ...'
Putting out the cigarette, Sahirah then got up to her feet and approached Arthur, loosening her robe.
As he watched, she opened the robe and stood in front of him, exposing her nude body to him.
Then she got to her knees in front of him. Her fingers were warm and firm as she gently parted his bare, hairy legs.
Her eyes never looked away from his.
Julia watched, wide-eyed, as Arthur lay back on the sofa, his erection standing straight up. Presently, he began to buck and writhe slowly, one arm reaching for thin air as the other gripped the base of his cock.
Beside her, Anna sat back in the chair, regarding Julia with the look of quiet satisfaction of a professional at her work.
Arthur kissed and kneaded Sahirah's breasts. Her skin tasted sharp from perspiration, and had a faint, lingering flowery scent.
Slowly, Sahirah impaled herself on Arthur's penis, taking it deep inside her with a satisfied sigh. Arthur felt her body press down on his; felt the skin of her thighs, the warmth of her vagina sheathing his cock. He gasped.
Sahirah raised herself the length of the shaft of his penis, and slid down it again. This motion turned into a slow rocking. Arthur began to moan softly, his breaths rising and falling in time with hers.
Sahirah leaned forwards, still smoothly rocking her body on his cock. Arthur reached for her soft breasts and kept kneading them as Sahirah's breathing became moans of passion.
'He looks ready to explode,' Julia whispered. Anna continued to watch Arthur as the subject continued to make love to a companion who existed only in his mind.
'He is almost there,' Anna said. 'But he's not going to come until Sahirah says a trigger word. Until then, his orgasm's just going to build up and build up.'
'And when he blows ...' Julia said, looking at Anna.
'Oh, yes,' Anna replied.
'So just one thing,' Julia asked. 'Where's Sahirah?'
'She's being conditioned herself,' Anna replied. 'We've got her in a room with a real person.'
'Where else?' Anna said, smiling. 'Your favourite. Room A 101.'
'Huh,' Julia said. 'Who's the person that she's with?'
'You're going to love this,' Anna replied, flicking a control. The big screen changed, and Julia saw Sahirah inside Room A 101 - the room where Julia herself had been conditioned - and a woman whom she did not know.