Kelly sat blinking at the computer screen. There were words there flashing before her eyes, but she had no awareness of them. There was something happening to her. Powerful, expansive tingles crawled across her shoulders, slipped down her spine, a thousand little nerves twinkling with pleasure, like a thousand swarming stars enveloping her naked body. She was amazed by the pleasure, the constant pleasure, running the length of her body, head to toe, rushing up and down so fast she felt them as shivers and wondered if she was cold. Should she get up and turn down the thermostat? Should she get a sweater from the closet? Should she put her clothes back on--
She felt her eyelids blink suddenly. Such a heavy blink. Her eyes felt tired and dry. Too many hours on the computer. This IRC thing was getting to be a habit. She felt the sudden need for bed and told her friend online she was signing off now. She'd never chatted with him before and didn't recognize the nick. Astyn.
By the time she'd clicked out of the program and shut down her computer, she was all but stumbling into bed, falling asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.
The dreams that came to her were strange and wonderful. She'd had dreams like this as a child, confusing. They were too personal, too hard hitting, too close to the center of everything she considered unique to herself. If felt almost as if things were being moved, separated, examined, then gently replaced, like a polite robber in her family home.
When she awoke the next morning, she spent a long time rolling around her sheets, stretching, yawning, feeling the sleep drop from her like so many bricks. She swung her legs off the mattress, feet searching sleepily for her slippers, hands seeking out her robe. But before she headed for the bathroom, she did a strange thing. She lifted her nightshirt and gently rubbed her belly. She poked her navel with a finger then shook her head as a moment of disorientation passed.
'Huh. Must've stood up too fast.'
The phone rang. Her bladder was about to burst so she let the stupid thing ring. The machine played its message and beeped, but the caller hung up. If it'd been important they would've left a message. This depressed her a little. There was no one important to her now, was there? She'd broken it off with her boyfriend less than a month ago, and now she felt the severe loneliness that came with such breakups. It was an unpleasant thought that mimicked her mother's voice. 'You failed again, didn't you? You could've made it work. You should've tried harder.'
As always, while she showered, brushed her teeth, rubbed lotion on her skin, she defended herself. 'He just wasn't right. It just wasn't right. I didn't fail. I learned . . . right? Isn't that what you were supposed to do, try people on for size then keep the one that fit the best? Right? Right!'
It sounded hollow.
She chose her office clothes, noticed a laundry emergency in the making, and got herself together the best she could. It wasn't a glamorous job, but it paid the bills.
The phone rang again.
Honestly! If this was a salesman she was really going to let him have it. She wished she could do that. She was too damn nice to follow through. She spritzed herself with perfume on her way to the phone.
"Hi, is this the Robinson residence?"
"Um, yes, who is this?"
A friendly laugh. "Kelly?"
She flinched, a little nervous. "Yes . . . who is this?"
"Enter program mode."
The floor was rushing up, the carpet, the ceiling slipping away, the ground humming like an old stereo. She felt dizzy and tried to put a hand to her forehead but seemed to have missed it. Then she realized her hand was still by her side. She hadn't moved at all. She stood there for what seemed an eternity staring at her answering machine, watching the glowing red light, feeling very blank . . . very . . . open. . . .
She felt a rush of adrenaline. "Huh? Oh, I'm sorry. What were you saying?"
That friendly laugh again. "It was good to finally speak to you in person, Kelly. I look forward to our next chat."
"Oh, yeah, me too." She felt suddenly very warm. Was she blushing? Was she flirting with-- Who was this again? "Oh, look at the time. I'll talk to you later, okay? I've got to get to work."
"Sure. See you soon."
"Okay, bye." She punched the off button on her phone. With another shake of her head, her mind finally came clear. Work. Yes. And later, she'd get on the computer. She couldn't wait for that, couldn't wait to get home and find Astyn again. Just the thought of it gave her a tingle. She felt practically giddy at the idea.
The moment she got home, the phone rang. She answered it and heard his familiar voice. He spoke to her quietly. She nodded and stared hard at the answering machine, wondering why she felt so far away, so disconnected, hearing her own voice as unintelligible hum.
And just like that she was hanging up the phone, massaging her face, trying to clear her mind again. But as she did so, she realized it was somehow becoming too clear! She was too focused. She understood she was moving stiffly, every step, every motion deliberate. Every thought was about what her next movement should be.
There was no time for television. She had tasks. Chores must be done. And they must be done well, efficiently. She set about gathering her clothes, separating them into their appropriate piles. Her movement felt jerky, uneven sometimes, but she was getting used to it. It was beginning to feel normal, and any time it didn't, she found herself thinking about her bellybutton, rubbing her finger around it, waiting for the urge to poke it. Why, there was an urge now. . . .
Tingles made her shoulders shudder. She let her head fall back, closing her eyes, enjoying each last sparkle, hearing her voice again, feeling her lips move by themselves. She didn't bother to listen to what they were saying, she was lost in the tingles, surrounded by a million popping bubbles.
When they were done, she felt the change almost immediately. Now, she was very stiff. Each move must be planned. Every move must accomplish a goal. Every motion must be well directed. She spent the next three hours loading her washer with clothes, moving them with short efficient movements into the dryer, bending over at the waist, claiming dry clothes with locked elbows. Folding them was a challenge.
In three hours, she felt the urge to prod her navel with a finger almost six times. By the time eight o'clock arrived, she was nearly exhausted. She was tired from all the tingles, and yet charged with nervous energy.
She logged onto IRC and waded through chatrooms and annoying come-ons
until she saw him. Astyn.
Kelly: Hi :)She found herself blinking slowly again, watching the computer screen . . . absorbing. . . .
Astyn: Good to see you. Get all your laundry done?
Kelly: Yes. How did you know I was doing laundry?
Astyn: Well you did ask for a more robotic experience.
Astyn: laughs and pats your friendly bottom.
Kelly: Hey! You keep your hands off my friendly bottom. Understand pal?
Astyn: Enter program mode
She arrived at the airport late. Better late than never. When she walked past him, he noted her confused expression. Yes. She would be wondering how she'd gotten here, wouldn't she?
Kelly stopped by the phones, her hand on a receiver, wondering who she should call. Home? Someone here? She felt a presence behind her. She turned and looked at a stranger with a generous, friendly smile.
"Um, can I help you?" she asked.
"Enter program mode."
She awoke in a chair. Her hands were strapped down, her legs as well. She thought she should be frightened, but she wasn't. That just didn't make sense. There was a stranger adjusting something around her skull, tightening a band of some kind, turning screws, gathering wires. He noticed her open eyes.
"Oh, hi. How do you feel?" His voice was pleasant enough.
She swallowed. "I . . . I'm not sure. I feel okay. What's happening?"
He shook his head in surprise. "You really don't remember a thing do you?"
She tried to shake her head, but it was fastened in place. "No. I'm . . . what's going on? I don't-- Where am I?"
He put a cool hand on her forehead. "It's okay, Kelly. Open memory module 1."
She felt her eyes drift for a moment. Something opened in her mind, unpackaged itself and spread itself out to be examined. With some trepidation, she began moving through it, remembering. . . .
She'd met him online. They'd discussed her fantasies. He'd asked if she'd like to try hypnosis online. She scoffed. How could hypnosis work through a computer. He asked her to trust him and see if it would work. She agreed. She remembered watching the words, feeling nothing at first, but trying to visualize the images he typed out. Then there was the awareness that it was, at least it seemed to be, working. She remembered being startled by that.
While she was falling for what felt like forever, he began asking her questions. She recalled how easily she'd answered, without thought, just answering any question he asked of her. She remembered how open and trusting she felt. She remembered him playing with her, telling her to feel his hand on her belly rubbing, soothing her deeper and deeper.
Then the real questions began. Questions about her life. About her fantasies. About her sex life. She admitted to all of her most embarrassing inner thoughts. She'd never told them to anyone. She couldn't. They were too weird. Too perverted.
But they weren't strange to him. He admitted he'd picked her because he'd noticed something about the way she chatted online: the words she used, the IRC gestures, the channels she visited, the topics that sent her blushing with pleasure but laughing as if it didn't affect her at all.
All this unfolded in her mind. She blinked her eyes, realizing she'd been staring at the empty wall for a long time. "Oh my god." It was a whisper. Her whisper. She was stunned and oddly relieved at the same time.
She heard an vacuous whirring from behind her.
"Kelly?" Astyn peered hard into her eyes. "You okay?"
She gulped. "Yes. But I still don't understand. What are you doing to me?"
"Open memory nodule 2."
And another burst of memories rushed up out of some hidden place deep in her mind:
She remembered being so deeply under she couldn't even type anymore, only watch and listen. Her eyes had been glued to the monitor. She was blank. Totally without thought, without hope or complaint, utterly receptive.
He had questioned her most severely, learning things about her she didn't even know herself. This had been going on for weeks. He'd remained hidden from her, hypnotizing her into not remembering before she was ready.
And in one of these powerful trances she confessed her soul to him. Her deepest desire. Her years of guilty masturbation, imagining herself being turned into a dog in her early years. How it had changed in her teen years. How she'd read some books about bondage. Fourteen to twenty-one, she'd imagined being whisked away to Persia or some such place and being brainwashed, or conditioned, or just manipulate somehow into total submission. Being enslaved, and feeling terrible about it when the waves of pleasure had subsided.
Astyn promised to take away the guilt. After twenty-one, another more bizarre fantasy had come to life. More guilt followed. Her self esteem was being damaged now, eroded away by feelings of shame. The slavery wasn't enough anymore, was it? She needed true compliance. The utter abandon that being ripped from her human body could provide. Too many stories online, she supposed, about androids.
By chance, or fortunate accident, she remembered her brother talking about an old Star Trek episode. She sought it out now, renting it over and over from the nearest video store. People as androids.
"And memory nodule 3 as well I think," Astyn continued.
He'd asked her if she would really do it if given the chance. Would she? Become what she desired? It was possible, whether she believed it or not, but the body never survived the transfer. It was irreversible. Out of the deepness of her mind came the word, "yes".
Astyn held up a remote. Clicked it once. There were small pinches all around her head. She winced, feeling tears in her eyes. No, it hadn't hurt that bad. It was emotional, wasn't it?
"Do you understand what I'm about to do, Kelly?" Astyn whispered.
She closed her eyes, tried hard to blink away the tears, feeling the insufferable itch of their trickle down her cheeks. She tried to say yes, but could only swallow again and again. "Will it hurt?"
"No. You'll be asleep. Are you sure about this? This is your last opportunity to change your--"
"I'm sure," she choked out.
He stared at her for a long time, finally came close and gave her a soft kiss, peering hard into her eyes, searching for something. She wasn't sure what.
He clicked a button on the remote and a wall of darkness fell over her eyes. She felt as if a carpet was ripped from beneath her, and she began to tumble. . . .
" . . . activate all segments please."
She felt a mechanical kick in her spine. Her eyelids popped open. The vision was perfect. All colors surreal, so bright, so vivid. Everything was clear and clean.
"How are you doing in there?"
"Good, I think. I'd like to . . . see myself."
"Certainly. I think, yes, you're in the green all the way. There should be a three way mirror to your right. Please. Be my guest."
She jerked at first, then things began to go smoothly. All her movements were perfect. The liquid sway of her hips, perfect. The easy sway of her arms, perfect, like palm fronds waving in a warm tropical breeze. The gentle motion of her legs, perfect. She was perfect, wasn't she?
The beautiful, utterly female visage approached her from three directions. She touched her long, auburn hair, blinked her eyes, so green and perfect. She rubbed her soft arms lightly with the tips of her fingers. She felt her movements so natural, languid and strong, like a trained ballerina.
She turned to him, almost surprised, a warm blush on her cheeks, smiling. "I'm . . . I'm perfect."
He nodded, breathing out, " . . . yes . . . you are."
"But I . . . I feel okay. I don't feel . . . robotic. I don't feel like, well, obedient. I guess I thought I'd feel-"
"Enter program mode."
She felt herself stiffen. The humanness of her was falling away now. The emulator had clicked off and now she was left in the empty world of calculation and instruction. A self examination was performed quickly. Core checked. All programs intact. Yes. She had specific instructions that were clear and easy to read in this state, yet only moments ago, she'd had no awareness of it.
"Unit ready to obey."
Astyn's smile was enormous. "Kind of amazing, isn't it?"
Kelly remained motionless, staring fixedly at nothing.
He stepped close and pressed his fingers lightly to her lips. "How complete it all is. . . . This what you wanted, Kelly. Enslavement. Total enslavement."
He pinched her nipple severely, checking her eyes carefully for any sign of pain. There was none. The skin would not bruise. Short of a major catastrophe, it would never blister, bleed, or break. She was perfect. In every way.
"Ready to receive instructions, my sweet little bot?"
"Ready to receive instructions, Master."
So . . . very . . . very . . . perfect.