"How To Win Friends And Influence Enemies - With Mind Control!"
The title seemed to jump out at me as I walked through the cluttered aisle. I stopped and had a look at my reading list. At first, I thought it was some kind of joke, but then, I spotted it on the list - strangely enough, it was required reading for one of my subjects. I picked up a copy and my jaw dropped when I saw the label - $150. It was way too expensive for me.
Not for the first time, I cursed the publishing industry for making Uni text books so expensive.
Idly, I started leafing through the book. If I couldn't buy it, at least I could see what I was missing out on. And then I had a moment of inspiration. I leafed through until I found the section I wanted. I read through it carefully, rehearsing the tonal inflections under my breath. When I felt I'd got it right, I sauntered over to the cashier.
"That'll be $150, 10% less if in cash," she said, in a bored, detached manner.
"You don't want to charge me anything." I said, wiggling my hand in front of her like the book suggested. "You want me to have this book for free."
The cashier rolled her eyes and muttered under her breath.
"You're the sixth guy today to try that," she said, in that loud, clear voice people use when addressing morons. "Look buddy, it doesn't really work. The book's a parody — P-A-R-O-D-Y- illustrating the lengths people go to in order to maintain the illusion of control over unpredictable, random events."
She paused, and looked at my uncomprehending eyes. The corners of her lips twitched, and her eyes softened slightly.
"It's just satire," she said gently, patting my hand. "Your lecturer probably listed it for reading as a joke, or because she has a stake in the publishing company, or something. I took one of her subjects last year, and her classes are the biggest waste of space. Seriously, don't buy this book; you're just wasting your money."
I stood there, not saying a word. Her eyes flicked over to her boss, and then flickered back to the book that lay between us. She started playing with a bookmark that lay on the counter. I raised my eyebrows in a mute, pathetic supplication.
She sighed, and then leaned forward.
"Look, it's not really something that's flying off the shelves," she whispered. "I don't know why I'm doing this, but if you really want it, just take it. The boss wants those things out of the store. They're taking up too much space. We're crowded enough already, and if we don't clear some of the stock, the shelves are going to fall over."
"Mind control is a fantasy theme commonly found in erotica. Although it is classed as a genre in its own right, it is often merely used as a literary device to enable the protagonist to explore certain misogynistic fantasies which would not be feasible with a willing accomplice. Themes such as sex slavery, prostitution and incest are almost staples of this genre. It is used by the protagonist to overcome some deep-seated inadequacy, such as fear of intimacy or a sense of weakness compared to others."
The lecturer droned on. I looked at the clock - another fifteen minutes to go. I scratched my head. Who would've though that a subject like "Theory of Erotica" could be so boring? I glanced around the auditorium. It was clear that, like me, most of the students here had picked this subject for a laugh — half the class was absent, half were asleep, and the other half was chatting on their phones.
I tried to concentrate on the lecture, but my thoughts were fully focused on the book in my bag. Ever since I'd manipulated the sales girl for it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. It was burning a hole in my consciousness. If I could talk my way into a free book after reading it for a couple of minutes, what else was possible?
After the lecture, I headed straight to library to read my mind-control book. I had leafed through the first couple of chapters, and it was ... interesting. Some of the stuff seemed really daft, but some of it really made sense. I looked around the library. It was virtually empty; there were only a couple of girls studying in the corner, and a guy with earphones on in a study carousel.
I decided to try it.
I sat in the recommended lotus position and breathed deeply. I put my fingers against my temples as suggested and massaged three times in a clockwise rotation. I closed my eyes and reached with my consciousness out to the astral plane. I held my breath as I waited for transcendence. I felt a faint buzz as I pushed further...
"What on earth are you doing, Aards?"
I opened my eyes. Rachael was standing over me with a quizzical expression on her face. She grabbed my book and had a look.
"Oh Aards," she sighed, "you're such an idiot. I took that subject for first semester — biggest waste of time I ever spent. The subject's a joke and the lecturer's a creep. I can't believe you'd be that gullible to think that it'll work."
"I worked on the salesgirl," I countered. "She gave it to me for free."
"Let me guess — you gave her that hang-dog expression of yours, didn't you? The one you always use with me when you want to get your way? That's not mind control, Aards. That's just pity."
I gave her the same expression.
She giggled, and then the tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. She tugged at my jumper.
"Okay, it WAS mind-control then, Professor X. Come on, let's get some lunch. I'm staving!"
We walked out of the Baillieu and went up the steps to South Lawn. It was one of those balmy winter days that Melbourne occasionally tosses up — the sky was clear and blue, the air was clean and crisp, and the temperature had crept up to the high teens. Consequently, the lawn was crowded with students trying to catch a bit of the winter sun. We managed to scratch out a spot underneath the elm trees, between two groups of boisterous students.
Rachael and I talked as we ate. She wasn't a stunner by any means; short and buxom, with freckly skin and with black oval glasses that lifted up whenever she scrunched up her nose. I watch her eat. I'd always thought there was something compelling about those glasses. At the moment, they were being lifted off her nose with a hypnotic regularity. Every few bites, Rachael would pause, take a pickle out of her sandwich, and scrunch up her nose in disgust. It was mesmerizing, like watching the wind blow across a wheat field.
"What are you staring at?" she said, in mid-munch.
"Oh nothing," I said, stifling a chuckle. "But who made your sandwich?"
"Then why did you put pickles in it when you know you can't stand them?"
"Aards, you know it's not a peanut-butter and pickle sandwich unless it's got pickles in it, don't you?" she said. "Without the pickles, it's just another stupid peanut-butter sandwich, and I've been eating those since primary school. I'm in Uni now, so I should be trying new things. This way, at least it's different."
She scrunched up her nose as she bit into another pickle.
"I probably could've chosen something else, I suppose."
We both laughed.
I'd known Rachael for as long as I could remember. She was fun and pushy, and we always got on well. We'd grown up together in Horsham, went to primary school and high school together. Rachael and I were the only ones from our year to have come down from Horsham to attend Melbourne Uni, and for the past six months, we had clung onto each other for support. University can be an intimidating place when you don't know anyone.
I blinked as Rachael gave me a teasing, mock air-kiss.
"What were you thinking?" she said. "You looked really zoned out just then."
"Oh, I'm just thinking how weird things are here, compared to back home," I replied. "We spent our whole lives wishing to get out of Horsham, but now that we're here, it's nothing like what I expected. Back in Horsham, it was so small and familiar. Melbourne's just so big, and the classes are so strange, and I don't know anyone here. Thank God I've got you around, Rach. I don't know what I'd be doing if you weren't here."
She smiled, and rubbed my arm.
"I feel the same way, Aards."
Our relationship had deepened this year. We had always been close, but since Uni started, it had got to a point where we seemed to read each others minds. She would answer my questions before I asked. I would see something funny, and we would both laugh out aloud. It was bizarre, but nice. Sometimes, in idle moments, I would even daydream about Rachael as my girlfriend, but never for long. It was just too weird to think of her in that light.
Rachael had fished out a tub of yogurt from her bag. She ran her finger over the rim and licked it languidly with her finger.
"I just love yogurt, don't you?" she smiled, blinking slowly.
I felt a buzz around my ears.
"So how's your love life, Rach?" I teased. It was a favorite routine between us.
"Oh, just dandy, Aards," she said, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. She snuck a quick look around us and suppressed a little smirk.
"I met this black guy at the University Bar and we really hit it off. We went back to my dorm and we fooled around for a while. The whole time, I could feel his monster prick grinding against my belly, and finally I had to see the size of the thing. When he unzipped his pants, I almost fainted. He had a massive cock, like an elephant's trunk! I was so impressed that I even fished out a ruler, but realised I needed two rulers to measure him properly!
"But then he grabbed my head and forced his cock in my mouth. I was gagging as he pushed it right down my throat! I can really empathize with what those deep sea drilling companies go through — he just kept boring away. I was dry-retching, but it felt really, really good. It was making me feel a bit dizzy, though. With that monster pounding my throat, I couldn't breath. But just as I was beginning to black out, he withdrew."
Rachael paused to push her hair out of her eyes again. I felt that buzz again as our eyes met.
"Anyway, while I was recovering, he flipped me over and started banging into my arse. I'd never tried anal; always thought it sounded gross but it didn't feel too bad. My arsehole felt ripped apart, and I'm still bleeding a bit now, but it was a good sort of burning, you know, like being the meat on a spit roast.
"I must've come twice before he withdrew and plunged right into my pussy. He was really, really massive, and I couldn't believe my eyes when he pushed that gargantuan papaya in my cunt! It really hurt, even more than in my arse, but I didn't want to bother him, so I just screamed at him to screw me harder. And you know what? Persistence paid off, and I felt this HUGE orgasm building within me."
Her face was radiant, and she had this knowing little smile on her face. In the corner of my eye, I could see people leaning in to catch her words.
"It was amazing. The lower half of my body felt completely numb, and for a minute I thought that he'd torn through my pussy and broken my spine. But then I felt this shivering, quivering explosion. And I screamed and screamed and screamed. And I began bucking around like a wounded animal. And then he came. There was so much semen coming out of me, I felt my pussy literally being pushed off his dick. The pressure was incredible, at least 23kPA. You might not believe me, but I snuck into lab earlier today and stuck the compressed-air nozzle into my pussy to compare. And it really was 23kPA!
"It was so hot and sticky as it filled me. And then these pints of fluid just poured out of my cunt. I could feel it intermingle with his baby-making juice, and it was so sexy knowing that every venereal disease known to man could have been floating around in my pussy. And it felt so exciting knowing that there was a risk of pregnancy; that this one chancy fling could end up ruining my life forever. I felt so horny I almost came again just thinking of it."
She was grinning now, fully into the story. People turned around and stared at us.
"And then my roommate showed up. You remember Sarah, right, the frigid blonde with the killer body? Well, you should've seen her face when she came in! She was still a virgin, see, and she hadn't even seen a cock before. Her eyes were popping out of her head when she saw his massive member — did I mention it was massive? We were too far along to stop, so we just kept fucking in front of her. But Sarah couldn't take her eyes off his cock! She just sat on her bed and watched us, and when we took a break, she asked if she could join in.
"Now, I didn't want that thing out of my pussy, but when Sarah told him she was a virgin, he whipped it out of me and shoved it straight into her. She wailed so loud that it took me a day to get my hearing back! The guy just kept hammering away. Sarah must've got off four or five times before he pumped her full of his nasty baby-making seed. And when he was done, she just stuffed it in her mouth and sucked him dry. I was getting really horny at this time and wanted another ride, but he said he had some other bitches to fuck that night, so he left us. Sarah and I ended up licking and sucking his cum out of our vaginas for the rest of the night. So, pretty typical night really."
"Really?" I asked, raising one eyebrow. My cheek muscles twitched as I tried to suppress a smile.
"Why do you think I'm sitting on my jacket? The bastard stuck it in my arse so many hard I can barely sit down!" She burst out laughing. "Yeah ... well at least it gives these eavesdroppers something interesting to listen to."
There was a visible snap as the people around us jerked back. The babble of conversation around us, which had been muted during Rachael's story, resumed.
She was like that, our Rachael.
"One stock character commonly found in erotica is the well-endowed black man. This character is typically found in rape or impregnation stories, and has intercourse with either virginal or promiscuous white women. Some consider this concept of the "sub-human African" purely as a racist conceit, others see him as a representation of the unacknowledged, suppressed lust that resides in us all, and still others believe it merely supports the supposition that 'once you try black, you won't go back'"
I turned sharply in my seat.
There it was again — a murmuring buzz right behind my ears. I started scratching, but I couldn't get rid of it. Several students looked at me as I started shaking my head. The lecturer looked up at me and paused. I stopped, put up my hand in apology and tried to concentrate on the lecture, but I just couldn't. The murmur kept going.
My mind recalled that lunch with Rachael, and suddenly, the buzzing hushed. I ran through the images in my mind: how her hair seemed to glow in the sunlight; how bright and vivacious she'd been when told me her story, how indefinably pretty she was. I remembered that story she told, about her and the black guy. I started picturing them together — her, naked and sweaty, screaming with delight as the anonymous black dude hammered her from every angle.
The fantasy switched.
Suddenly it was me that was pounding away at Rachael, me who was filling her with baby-making cum, me who lay exhausted on top of her hot, delectable body. I could feel her ample breasts in my hands, her body shaking beneath me. I could taste her sweat on my lips as I nuzzled her neck. I could hear her whispering inaudibly in my ear. It was a low, murmuring burble that, try as I might, I couldn't understand.
I snapped out of my reverie as I felt other students pushing past my seat. The lecture had finished. I quickly packed my bag.
It kept nagging me as I slipped out of the lecture theatre. That persistent buzzing had come back. I dismissed it as the after-effect to the lecture, but then I heard it again as I walked through the law courts. A thin, plaintive wail seemed to carry on the air, tickling my eardrums with a hypnotic vibration. I was drawn to it, walking through the archway and down the steps, in the little alcove behind Wilson Hall.
But my baby's so vain, she is almost a mirror
and the sound of her name, sends a perennial shiver down my
It was Rachael. She lay on the bench; her eyes closed, her head resting on her bag, her legs crossed at the ankles and her arms on her stomach in repose. A pair of earphones was stuffed in her ears as she sang. She was beautiful, like an alabaster statue with breast implants. She wore a red print slip dress that reached mid-thigh and knee-high black boots. Her breasts rustled the fabric as she sang. Her thighs shifted and pressed together as the hemline slipped further up her legs. My dick twitched.
My mind was in turmoil. I'd never really thought of Rachael sexually this way before. Our Rachael had always been the safe girl in my life, someone I could confide in. She was the one I could always talk to, the one who would always listen. She was the one who always picked up the pieces when I got dumped by my girlfriends. She was probably the only person with whom I was completely honest. And now, because of one silly daydream, she wasn't our Rachael anymore.
She opened her eyes as I sat beside her.
"It's good of you to come, Aards. I've been expecting you."
"How did you know it was me?"
"I just knew. Intuition and romantic fatalism shouldn't be taken lightly, Aards." She gave me a winsome little smile. "We're star-crossed lovers, doncha know? Like Romeo and Juliet, Cathy and Heathcliff ... It starts off all nice and sweet, but when it's all said and done, it always ends up in sticky globs of goo."
I sat down beside her, but didn't say a word. It cut a bit close to bone.
"So how's that mind-control book going, Aards? Bagged any hot chicks yet?"
I punched her in the arm. She squealed as I wrestled her to the ground. She giggled and asked me again.
"It's really interesting," I said. "The book seems to be in two sections. One part is just about passive manipulation. It just goes through things like hypnosis, subliminal suggestions, voice control ... it's so much work that you might as well try and score in the traditional way. The other part is really, really weird, and doesn't make sense at all. It's freakish, though. I tried the Jedi Mind Trick technique in the mirror one time, and woke up a minute later with a really sore neck and my Wookie in my mouth."
Rachael sniggered. "It's a nice idea though, isn't it?" she mused. "Intimacy without fear of rejection, influence over those you care about ... all with minimal chance of getting hurt in return. But, have you ever thought that the reason intimacy is so prized is because of the risk of rejection? If you could have intimacy without being vulnerable, it wouldn't be intimacy, would it?"
"Yeah, maybe, but it's still a nice fantasy. And anyway, guys always like the idea of guilt-free, easy sex. And if anyone had that chance, they would still take it."
She looked at me peculiarly, and nodded. I had a little thrill as she tucked her hair behind her ear.
"Erotica is downgraded by some as garbage, or upgraded by others into art, but in my opinion, it doesn't inhabit either world. All erotica is, in the end, is sexual role-play created by the writer on behalf of the reader. Writers picture themselves in situation that they would normally not inhabit. They use the medium as a way to work out certain appetites that they themselves would rather not acknowledge. Or they use it as a way to overcome conceived inadequacies, and to project an idealized form of themselves. And the reader views this jumble of sexual deficiencies and brings to it their own preconceived notion of sexuality. Erotica is subjective and intuitive and at the end of the day, all meaningful analysis is bunk."
The lecturer paused and looked right up at me. I stopped clicking my pen, raised my hand in apology, and she resumed.
My mind was buzzing with Rachael. I saw her in my dreams, in my daydreams and even when I closed my eyes. And yet, I couldn't ask her out. She was Rachael, Our Rachael. She was the girl I hung out with for years; the girl who joked and swore and who always was just one of the boys. It was weird, way too weird. What if I asked her out and she rejected me? What if we never spoke again? Was it worth that risk?
I met her at the gym that afternoon. I waited for her while she finished her aerobics session. She was flushed and sweaty in her T-shirt and bike shorts. I watched as she moved; saw those toned, shapely legs bend and flex in the air. She pushed her arms behind her back, thrusting her breasts out proudly. She was certainly well-endowed; my fingers twitched as I imagined holding those puppies in my hands. I was glued to her chest, watching it strain against her T-shirt as she moved. Rachael didn't believe in bras. She burnt her first one in high school and hadn't looked back. The boys didn't look back, either; we just kept looking at her front.
Rachael grinned and waved as she spotted me on the balcony. I joined her in the foyer when her session ended. She was hunched over, gasping for air.
"Could you hold my bag for a minute?" she asked. "I have to get a drink."
She bent down to the drinking fountain. I was transfixed as the crystal clear liquid bubbled against her soft pursed lips. I drank in her toned, athletic form. Her breasts peeked out of her low-hung T-shirt. Instinctively, I stole a look. Her plunging cleavage drew me in, dragging me down into her steamy boudoir. It was like looking into the sun, and I couldn't turn away. She stood up, a little smirk on her mouth.
Rachael wiped a drop of water off her chin and sucked it off her finger. Damn she was beautiful.
"So how are you?" I asked, as we walked off for dinner. "I haven't seen you in a week. What have you been doing with yourself?"
She shook her head in mock-tragic despair. "Don't ask because then I'll be forced to bore you to death with the details of my tortured existence. Such is the fate of any self-respecting philosophy major. And you?"
"Oh, you know this and that. I've got some shifts at the Prince of Wales and that keeps me busy most of the time. I've also sent a couple of stories to the Farrago, but I don't know what's happening with that," I said. "It still feels so weird, being here. Wasn't Uni supposed to be the best days of my life?"