Short Story: Just Breathe

“Breathe in, breathe out.” The words were calm and authoritative, delivered with certainty. His eyes seemed to sparkle as she looked up at him from the couch. She did as he said, without thinking. He repeated the command, giving her time to do each action but not enough to do anything else.

The regulation of her breathing calmed the anxiety that had been threatening to break over her, pushing it back with the simple movement of her diaphragm as it pulled and pushed the precious air in and out in a more than tidal ebb and flow.

“Breathe in.” He said, and she did, relaxing her eyelids and focusing on the flow of air in her nostrils.

“Breathe out.” He said, and she released the air from her lungs and relaxed her shoulders. He didn’t give her a chance to do anything but obey the next cycle that led her deeper and quieter.

She stopped counting the cycles after a while, and started anticipating them instead; reducing her world to this moment and those words. The anxiety was gone. Certainty was here. Obeying the words brought calm, and she nodded as he said so between the words of the cycle.

She breathed in when he said, she breathed out when he said, and knew in this perfect moment that buying him that book on hypnosis had been the perfect Valentine’s gift.

Short Story: Command Control

You stand there, and watch the figures scrolling as the results come in. The cascade of reported statistics suggests a deluge of events overunning normal operating parameters, and yet you can do nothing but stand there. The post-hypnotic commands I have carefully laced through the entire command centre crew’s consciousnesses have all overwritten your ability to do more than await your next orders.

You desperately try to twitch even a finger, but it’s no use, you can’t even crook it slightly. Worse you’re becoming aware that you are starting to feel warmer. If you could even remember what the trigger words were, let alone what the commands were you might feel less worried, more in control – despite how ironic that would be under the circumstances.

You can’t even turn to track where I am. All you can make out is the sound of my typing on a keyboard somewhere nearby, and occasional less identifiable sounds as if I’m moving things, or people around. You’re not sure which you find the less disconcerting option

You can’t even remember what I look like – no doubt a result of the commands – just a memory of someone, saying something, and then a blank and here you are. The screen is trying to tell you something, but it’s hard to focus on the details when you can barely move your eyes voluntarily.

At least the involuntary stuff isn’t affected. You can breathe, and blink. Excess saliva is beginning to drool. You hope that’s not an indication of some form of kink. That would be the worst, surely? But then are these your thoughts or something implanted along with the commands?

Before I leave, you feel my touch on your shoulder. A simple rest of the hand for a moment and then I’m gone. You feel volition return moments later and the sounds of alarm rise from all quarters. You turn to assess the damage but just see people milling in confusion. Whatever I was doing on the computer, nobody knows, or can’t remember at the very least. It’s another successful heist, but nobody can tell what was actually taken.