Nick Tarent stood in his office, a smile on his face. At the age of 27 he was already on top of the world. At 6'1" with dark hair and hazel eyes, he was a very attractive guy, and he knew it. He was senior vice president of a major corporation. He also had quite a bit of money sitting in a bank account. But none of these things were what made his life the paradise that he enjoyed these days. That he owed to something else entirely.
Glancing at the clock on his desk, he saw the display shift to 10:00 AM. It was time for his appointment. Reaching out to hit a button on his phone, he spoke into the intercom. "Cindy, send him in."
"Yes, Mr. Tarent," the female voice came back almost immediately.
Nick walked around to the front of his desk and then leaned back against it, facing the sole chair he'd placed in front of the desk just minutes ago. He always enjoyed this part almost as much as the part that came after. He just watched the door until it opened a few seconds later and a man in a business suit stepped through. The man was also in his late twenties, but had a far more nervous expression on his face as he hesitated. Nick just beckoned and then pointed to the chair in front of him, and after a few more seconds hesitation the man walked over and then dropped into it. Nick himself was dressed casually despite being in an executive office, he always dressed casually. The man was smart enough not to say anything about it though. All of the employees who worked under Nick learned very fast not to question such things.
"You wanted to see me, Mr. Tarent?" the man asked in a nervous tone. The man's name was Richard Ellings, he was a nice guy, a hard worker. Nick always liked to choose hard workers, after all they'd be doing all his work for him.
"You're not in trouble Richard, calm down. There was just something I wanted to tell you," Nick explained, the smile still on his face.
He could see the nervousness leave Richard's expression, and the man offer a small smile in return. "What is it, sir?"
"Lilac," Nick spoke the trigger word in a sly tone. The split second twitch of the man's body was all the sign Nick needed to know it had taken effect, it was a tic that was always implanted, to ensure Nick could know that the trigger word had been heard and understood. It was also a tic Richard would never even realize he had.
"I don't understand sir..." was all Richard said, confusion in his expression. After all, he didn't know the effect the word had, and it must have seemed a strange statement for Nick to make.
"Sorry, Richard, I was just speaking off the top of my head for a minute there. Anyways, you've been working here for a month now, Richard, and I felt it was time for us to have a talk. After all, I did tell you when I hired you that the spring quarter would be big for this company, and that April would be an important month for you in particular. Now, do you know how I got where I am in this company?" Nick queried, probably looking as amused as he felt at that moment.
"No sir," Richard said, keeping his tone respectful. Nick was sure the man had noticed that Nick didn't actually seem to ever do any work, but Nick was also his boss, and the guy didn't have the guts to make a snappy comment about it.
"Well you see, there was this friend I had in college. The guy was an absolute genius. He got a double-doctorate in Science and Engineering, and he still managed to graduate before me. But he was kind of a loner and I was one of the few guys who hung out with him, so we stayed friends even after college. Anyways, a couple years ago he invented something. Something amazing. A machine that could put someone into a trance so deep that their minds could be altered in whatever way another person wished. In essence, a machine that could allow one person to gain control of the minds of anyone he could trick into using the device," Nick told him, his smile broadening more with every sentence.
At first Richard just looked at him like he was out of his mind, but then finally Nick's expression seemed to convince him that it was all some kind of joke, because once more Richard smiled in return before speaking, "So what did he do with it sir?"
"Do with it? Nothing. Nothing at all. He died the night he invented it. You see, he was so excited over having managed to get it to work that he made the mistake of calling me and telling me all about it. He wanted to celebrate. I played along, at least just long enough for me to get him drunk and then drive him out of town to an isolated place. I told him we were going to a party, but the reality is I needed someplace quiet to kill him. Somewhere there would be no witnesses. You see when he called I never doubted for a minute that he was telling me the truth. He was never much of a liar, and he definitely wouldn't have lied about something like that. But as he was telling me about it I realized I wanted the invention for myself, and that the only way I could have it without anyone else finding out was if he disappeared. So I killed him, and then I incinerated the body so that the only evidence left would be ashes," Nick explained in a matter-of-fact way.
Richard looked very much like he'd swallowed something rotten. There were warring emotions in his expression, like he couldn't really bring himself to believe that Nick might actually be serious. But that if Nick was in fact joking, the joke certainly wasn't funny. Finally the man just nodded slightly and spoke in a carefully controlled tone, "Go on."
"So I went back to his lab and I found his invention, precisely where he'd said it would be. And it worked. Better than I ever could have dreamed. Well, after the first couple screw-ups, at least. You see, he'd explained to me how it was supposed to be operated and the effect it would have on people, but I guess I didn't really consider closely enough the best way to use it. What the machine does, as I said, is put a person into an extremely deep trance. I might describe it as similar in some ways to a hypnotic trance, but it's far far beyond that. Whatever the person hears, their brain simply accepts. There is no resistance, it doesn't matter whether it's something they'd normally do, it doesn't even matter if it goes against every single moral code they have. If you tell it to them while they're in that state, their brain will accept it as a fact of reality. They won't even be able to consider that it might be wrong, or untrue. They will never resist it, they will never fight it, they will simply accept it.
"But there's a minor problem. You see, while you can virtually re-write almost anything you like about a person's personality, even if they've been that way since childhood, there is one thing that can't be overridden. And that thing is all the other statements made to them in that state. Which means that if you screw up and they hear something they shouldn't, it can never be taken out. It could cause a permanent personality alteration that you never even intended. And if you go in and try to fix it by issuing even more commands on top of that, all you do is screw things up more. I sent two perfectly good women to mental institutions before I figured that out. I kept putting them back under and trying to fix my mistakes, and the conflicting commands kept causing their minds to go more and more haywire, until there wasn't really anything that could be done except to have them committed, because they could no longer function anymore.
"I learned from my mistakes, however. The key is simply two things. One is to put them in a soundproof room. You can't risk that there might be external influences, like a tv or a neighbor shouting or anything like that. Because while they're in that trance, it's not just your voice that effects them. Any statement spoken in a language that they can understand will take effect. It doesn't matter how they hear it, so long as it's words that they can understand, the words get imprinted on their brain. So a soundproof room is a must. The second key is to never give the commands yourself. You might get excited, you might stumble over your own tongue and misspeak a word, or forget part of a sentence, or whatever. And even just that much of a mistake can potentially screw up everything, because once it's said you can't go back and undo it. So the answer is simple. You make a recording of the commands you want ahead of time. You listen to it over and over again yourself until you're absolutely certain there are no flaws and no background noise. Then once they're in the trance you simply play the recording for them, and that takes care of that," Nick told him.
Richard was looking at him like he was a madman. Or if not insane, than as good as. "So, if you're saying you have this machine, and you can use it to control people's minds ... Why aren't you president of the country yet? Or better yet, why don't you control the whole world by now?"
"Very good questions. And the answer is that I've thought about both those things. And they're just too risky. I don't want to be greedy. In order to take over the world I'd need to mass-produce the machine, and that would require taking control of a team of engineers and letting them open it up and examine it in detail to try and figure out how to re-create it. And I'm just not willing to risk the possibility that if they open it up they might somehow damage it and be unable to fix it. The machine works perfectly as is, and I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize that.
.... There is more of this story ...