tagMind ControlSnuggle Ch. 02

Snuggle Ch. 02


Chapter 2

Kendra's Tale

There are battles to be fought ... but we have come so far, with so many heroines along the way. From Sojourner Truth to Harriet Tubman to Rosa Parks. We owe them; all of us, black and white and brown and yellow. My generation owes so very much, though each of us must choose whether or not we want to repay that debt ... and how. As for me, I will go as far as I can. It's hard. There are obstacles every step of the way, but I will keep on. I owe them that.

It's easy to take things for granted ... when you have them. I've always had them. Daddy went into public service once he had his law degree. He met my mother overseas, brought her back to the States, and joined a fancy law firm. I've been in private schools my whole life. It was in college, at Cornell, that I added several new heroines to my list. Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison. And I decided I would try to honor my predecessors the way they had honored there's ... by being unique. I would write ... in my own words, in my own style.

And yet, for all my talk, there are a couple obstacles that I simply can't seem to get over. The first is the hardest to swallow. I do what I love, and I love to write. Unfortunately, I'm either not that creative, or more probably, just not that good. Not yet. Not by myself. Fortunately for me, I'm not alone. I'll come back to that in a minute.

And secondly, it's very, very hard to BE a strong personality, when you don't HAVE one. It's not that I haven't tried. It's just not who I am. I like to judge a person on how he or she relates to Dracula. No, not the monster ... the book. It's something most people have read, sometime in their lives; and in it are four wonderful characters. Men will imagine themselves as either Jonathan Harker or Van Helsing, depending who they most admire ... the patient observer or the self-described expert who's not afraid to take drastic action. Most women imagine themselves to be Mina: strong, gentle, reverent and chaste. But me ... I lie in bed and imagine myself as Lucy; the girl who, when confronted by evil desire, eventually surrendered her body and her soul.

The first time I had sex, I was drunk. It was all a cliché, really. It happened after the senior prom. He had brought a bottle along, and he had "car problems" after parking in a lovers' lane; then he goaded me with the booze and coaxed me into the back seat. I didn't like it. It hurt like the dickens, and eventually, I think I just wound up noticing things that annoyed me: his clumsiness, his breath, the mess ... that sort of thing. I swore off sex. Never again. That little resolution lasted about ten months. Our sorority (my freshman year) was invited to a frat party. It was almost the same scenario ... drunk, enticed, disappointed. And ... never again, I told myself. I held out for almost a year that time. It was another party. But this guy (a football player) got rough. There were bruises. And ... there were pictures. An assistant coach took them when I started squawking. I'll give you gals out there a little tip: you can't fight a college athletic organization, so don't even GO there. Before I had a chance to make a case, they were already lining up a case against ME, threatening to expel me for prostitution. The very erotic pictures all seemed to prove them right. I quickly saw the writing on the wall and the whole thing was dropped. Never again, I said. And this time, I made it stick. Of course, I had a little help.

The help was Janie. I don't know how we hooked up ... or really, at first, why. We met in a Foreign Authors class the second semester of our sophomore year. I'd seen her around campus, but of course, she's just the type of person you notice. Guys would follow her around like a line of ducklings, and she'd toss them little smiles instead of bread crumbs. The thing that caught my attention was the fourth straight A+ paper that was handed back to her. The first words I ever spoke to her were after class while she was holding that paper. "Are you sleeping with the prof?" I asked. (Have I mentioned my uncanny predilection for tact?) Instead of getting angry, she threw back her head and laughed out loud. Then, amazingly, she folded her arm in mine and turned me toward the door. "Let's get some coffee," she suggested.

And we've been together ever since. She is, without any mental reservation or purpose for evasion, the most intelligent woman I have ever met. But, oh my, she hides it well. The first thing we did was start studying together, and my grades all improved ... even in the classes she wasn't taking. We moved in together that summer, and I found that I was no longer simply running MY life ... WE were running OURS. I had never even considered sticking around for grad school, but for her, it was a given ... not just for her, but for US.

As different as we were physically, we were alike inside. Janie's problem was sex. With me, she was like a female Einstein: logical, calculating, witty and sharp. With men, she was the typical dumb blonde. She literally never said "no" to a guy. Like me, she never seemed to be satisfied by the sex; I think she just got off on the submission ... and maybe on the humiliation. She was constantly being left emotionally drained and physically abused. Midway through our junior year, I'd had enough, and I told her so. The solution was simple, actually; like everything, it became a problem to figure out for "us," and not just her. We formed a mutual protection society. When we wanted to go out, we went out together, either on a double date, or more and more frequently, the two of us alone; and eventually, men ceased to be a part of our lives altogether.

Now, we were two healthy young women. We had certain needs ... and no, we didn't turn to each other for sex. We each had BOB (Battery Operated Boyfriend) for that. We were very pragmatic about it ... very realistic. If I heard a buzzing sound in the night, I didn't think anything about it ... and I most certainly never mentioned it. Sometimes, that was difficult ... Janie is a "moaner," and is often quite ... well ... vociferous. But overall, it was just a necessity, like hygiene. A fact of life. Another aspect of our day-to-day existence. It was basic knowledge between us that someday ... well ... someday Mr. Right would come along for each of us, and we could dream about him when we were in bed alone with BOB. When that day finally did come, we'd face it. We'd be alright. But for now, we needed to get on with life.

After graduation, we joined the staff of the school paper together doing editorials. Then we published an article in a magazine together ... and then another, and another. At Janie's insistence, we started taking screenwriting classes, beginning with an undergrad course and then moving to some advanced classes. Finally, we started sending "spec scripts" to various TV shows, producers and studios. After a year of this, we attracted the attention of an agent; and finally, finally, we sold a feature script to the Sci Fi Channel. Then, of course, came the first re-write, and then the second re-write: delete this character, add that scene, change the location, turn the leading lady into a young girl ... and on and on. By the fifth re-write (the final, by contract), the thing bore little resemblance to the masterpiece it had once been ... but they shot it! They actually shot it! We were in IMDb! We had done it!

"Writing teams" are becoming more and more popular. As far as publishers are concerned (and producers, studios ... everybody), a team is treated like a single person. If a team is hired for a TV staff writer's position (for example), they get one individual salary that they have to split ... the same salary that is paid to each of the other "individuals." In other words, a "team" might be in it for the money, but they're not in it to get rich. Still, there is no source of satisfaction quite like the rush you get when you see your stuff in print or on the screen.

We had never really considered video games before we got the call from our agent telling us that Rankin Toddworth himself had requested to see us. We were absolutely stunned, but we shifted immediately into high gear and tried to figure the thing out. First, we researched Toddworth, who, most people seemed to agree, could be classified somewhere between wildly eccentric and downright cruel. We had told our agent (who was in Los Angeles) that we'd meet with the old man right away, but after another hour, we were both balking at the whole idea. And then, a lawyer showed up and asked us to sign for a thick envelope. It contained instructions for travel, a cell phone, and fifteen thousand dollars in cash (for "expense money," the letter said -- whether we decided to sign a contract or not). See you tomorrow, the letter said. Pack for a few days, because if we did sign, we'd go right to work.

Janie still didn't want to do it. I did. We flipped a coin. Isn't it amazing how dramatically your life can change just because a coin comes up tails?

After the "decision" had been made, Janie jumped in with both feet. She visited the campus library and the bookstores in search of information about writing video game content. Then we went out together and bought new suitcases, new clothes and travel necessities. The limo would pick us up at ten o'clock the next morning, since it was a four or five hour drive from Ithaca to Danbury. All the way there, we studied ... and we got more and more uneasy. Just about everything nowadays was a "shooter" game, and apart from the background "universe," which was mostly a graphics function, there wasn't anything even resembling the type of writing we had been doing. I announced that if it was a "D&D" themed game, we were sunk, since our required reading list would number in the dozens ... if not hundreds of gaming books, and neither of us would even know where to start.

The house, of course, was awe-inspiring, inside and out, and the grounds were not only immaculate, they went on for as far as the eye could see. Mr. Toddworth answered the door himself, and though he was certainly cordial, we both got the impression that he was studying us intently. This went well beyond the "undressing us with his eyes" routine, though I think there was some of that involved, too. He complimented Janie's "grace and poise," and he told me I had a nice figure. I pretty much decided that "dirty old man" was the thing nestled between "eccentric" and "cruel," at least in his case. He told us that the butler would show us to our room (we both noticed that the word was singular), that dinner would be served early this evening, and could we be ready by five? We gaped at him nervously, but said we could. Were we supposed to bring fancy dresses?

I had packed a light cotton summer dress, and even though the temperature had turned cool, it would just have to do. Janie didn't even bring a dress, but with her shape, she could make a pair of Dockers adequate for the Met. The fact that we were both in the same room (with only one double bed) really had us stumped. Did he think we were lovers or something? Whatever. What's just one more little hardship? We were in the business of persevering. We spent our remaining time helping with each other's hair and makeup. I thought we looked pretty damned good, myself.

We were aghast, however, when we found our way to the drawing room and saw Toddworth and another man wearing tuxedos. The new guy was younger than our host ... probably around fifty, I guess, and he looked like a young Sigmund Freud, replete with full, short, gray-shot beard. Toddworth introduced him simply as "Dr. Arnold," and we both just assumed that he was a full-time private physician. We were served Champagne punch cocktails, but disappointingly, no appetizers. Because of the time the limo picked us up, we had eaten nothing since breakfast, and very quickly, the drink started going to my head. The butler arrived to tell us that dinner would be delayed fifteen minutes due to a failure of one of the burners on the kitchen stove; and after taking the man aside and whispering some pointed instructions in private, Toddworth apologized and told us there was simply nothing else to do but have another drink.

Janie was visibly wobbly on her feet, and I wasn't much better, so I maneuvered her to the couch by the bay window and carefully sat us down. This seemed to dismay the two menfolk, however, and they worked together to drag a chair over and position it facing us. The doctor sat in it and contemplated us carefully. "Do you know what type of degree I have?" he asked us.

"A Doctor's Degree?" Janie guessed, and she giggled. I looked at her wide-eyed. She couldn't be that far gone after only two drinks! "A Doctorate in Doctoring," she announced, and guffawed.

"Janie!" I admonished ... but then a laugh bubbled up out of my mouth. I bit it off with an effort. "I'm really sorry, Doctor. We haven't had much to eat today, and the drinks were ... um ... very good. What type of doctor are you?"

"I'm a clinical psychologist, my dear. I specialize in hypnosis."

Janie very suddenly stopped her laughter, and she regarded the man with seeming wonder. "Really?" she said, swaying slightly, bumping her shoulder against mine. "I've never been hypnotized. I've always wondered what it would be like."

"It's the most wonderful feeling in the world, my dear. You'll be completely relaxed ... completely open and honest. You'll feel euphoric and happy."

She swayed back and forth. "I don't know. You'll make me bark like a dog. You'll control me."

He chuckled. I got the feeling that he didn't WANT to appear condescending; he just couldn't help it. "You might be open to suggestion ... intelligent people usually are ...but a person can only be 'controlled' if she really wants that."

I wrinkled my brow in thought. There was something about that statement that didn't meet the criteria of "Philosophy 201: Introduction to Logic." For a moment, I thought I had it. All people want to appear intelligent. Intelligent people are open to suggestion. Therefore, all people want to be open to suggestion. However, after I decided to go over that in my head one more time, I found I'd lost my train of thought.

"Okay," Janie declared. "Do me."

"Janie!" I whispered harshly. "I'm not sure this is the time or situation to go around giving up emotional control."

To my surprise, she bristled. "I think I've been holding down my share of the 'situation,' Ken!" she barked. "You don't think I deserve a wee bit of euphoria?" I must have looked as shocked as I felt, because she was immediately conciliatory. She blinked those big green eyes at me and said: "Sorry, babe. I didn't mean to snap. It's just that I've always been really curious about this. You don't mind, do you?"

I tried to take in my surroundings, which was difficult, because the room was spinning. Toddworth, who was inclined against the wall off to our left, was leaning forward expectantly. The good doctor of psychology was also leaning toward us, his elbows on his knees, his eyes glittering. Something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Little Miss Hamlet, however, didn't seem capable of figuring it out. "Okay, Janie. I'll stay awake and make sure ... um ... he doesn't turn you into a chicken."

"Oh, that's alright. I AM intelligent, after all, so I must be suggestible, right Doc?"

The good doctor looked startled, and I couldn't help but feel a little vindicated for my previous thought ... whatever that had been. I shook my head to try and clear it. He took out a small penlight, pushed a button, and it started blinking slowly, a soft, pulsing red. "Just watch the light, my dear," he intoned softly. "Relax and watch the light, and soon, you'll be in a deep, deep trance. It's going to be the best feeling you've ever had ... the best feeling in the world. Relax for me, and just let go. Follow my voice, and let go. You deserve this. You've always wanted it, and now you can have it."

I watched her intently. Already, her mouth was hanging slightly open and her eyes had glazed over. "It's time to get sleepy now. The more relaxed you are, the sleepier you become. It's only natural to want this. You're going to sleep SO deeply. You can just let your eyes close, whenever you want to. Just let it happen." Her eyes slid shut, but he continued. "And you see the light, blink ... blink ... blinking, causing you to relax even more." Okay, that didn't make a whole lot of sense. Why would he be going on and on about seeing the blinking light, if her eyes were closed? "And now, as you watch the light blink, blink, blink, you are so relaxed, and so sleepy. Do you see how the color of the light is changing?" That made me turn and look at it myself. It was still red, though. "The light is changing to a wonderful, multi-colored sparkle. Can you see it?"

"Yes," Janie said, her voice low.

I wrinkled my brow and studied the light harder. "So relaxed, now. So relaxed and sleepy. The more relaxed you are, the better you can see the pretty, sparkling colors. Do you see them?"

Again, she answered yes, but her voice had a strange echo.

"You deserve a little nap," he continued. "You deserve to feel this relaxed ... to feel the wonderful sleep that is coming for you. So relaxed. So sleepy. Do you see the pretty colors?"

"Yes." There was an echo, no doubt about it. Some indeterminable time later, I thought I had the answer. "Yes, I see them," I said aloud. And I could, too. I thought I'd take a little nap. I deserved this. I deserved to feel relaxed like this.

"Close your eyes and sleep," he said. I felt wonderful. I don't remember anything else, but I remember that I felt wonderful.

I struggled up and up and up from the deepest sleep imaginable, even though I still felt exhausted and a part of me didn't want to wake up. Beside me, Janie was doing the same. We were in some strange bedroom without windows. There were three doors on separate walls, one of which was partly open, revealing a bathroom. The walls themselves were bare, and the whole thing looked ... plain. We were alone, but the door facing us was opening, and the doctor was coming in carrying a tray with two plates and two big glasses of water. "I'm afraid you slept through dinner," he told us. "I had the butler prepare your meals."

He put the tray down on a low coffee table, and we sat on the edge of the bed to eat. The plates, when uncovered, had a very sparse amount of food. "Is this all?" Janie asked groggily.

"We're very hungry," I explained. "May we have more?"

"I'm very sorry, but that's all there is. Perhaps you can drink plenty of water."

I sighed. There were only a few mouthfuls, but he was right, there was lots of water. We each drank a full glass. "What is this place?" I asked, looking around.

"Just one of the estate bedrooms," he answered. "I asked for privacy, because you were both such extraordinary subjects. He said he'd let us use this room." He paused, as if he'd had a sudden thought. "Here, let me show you." He pulled out the little penlight and set it to blinking again. "Look at the light and relax. Relax. That's it. Sleep, now. Sleep."

Janie gave a soft sigh and tumbled back onto the mattress. I couldn't seem to take my eyes off the blinking light, but I definitely knew something was wrong. Dr. Arnold continued to intone "Sleep. Sleep," on and on, and finally I just gave up. He was right about one thing: it DID feel good to be hypnotized ... and this time, it felt even better. This time, I had an orgasm.

Again, we awoke at the same time, and again the doctor was coming in, bearing a tray. We sat, groggy and disoriented, and viewed another very meager meal, which consisted of about half a scrambled egg, half a piece of toast, and a single strip of bacon on each plate. Janie groaned that she was SO hungry, and wolfed it down while I tried desperately to figure out what was wrong with this picture. While she wasn't looking, I put some of my food on her plate, then drank some of the orange juice that accompanied the meal. I felt really ... fuzzy.

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