with Adrien Bobst
Leigh was feeling a bit tired after cramming for a test the night before as she walked across campus. She crossed her arms holding her books tightly to her chest and filed into her Media Issues in American Pop Culture class. Today there was a guest lecturer on The Marketing and Effects of Hypnosis on Modern Media. In preparation, the class was to prepare a short essay on what they recognized to be effective hypnosis techniques used by the media. Leigh was proud of her essay as she turned it in. Unlike the other students, she did several hours of research on hypnosis in the media and came to several well thought out conclusions.
The man at the podium, Professor David Perlman, was good-looking, Leigh thought. As she sat only about five rows back, she was able to study him without straining. Not too good looking, where he could vain, but pleasant to look at. She guessed he was in his mid-thirties; light brown hair, understated wire rimmed glasses, maroon shirt with khaki pants. Very distinguished, she thought. She enjoyed listening to his voice. It was smooth, genuine, nice. She found herself drifting off while listening to his words.
She was snapped back into reality by the applause of the class. She quickly began clapping, feeling a bit embarrassed about not paying attention to the professor's lecture. Leigh's embarrassment was soon extinguished when she remembered her essay and how hard she worked on it. She began to walk out the doors when a voice called out, "Leigh ... Leigh Walters!" She spun around to see who it was. Professor Perlman walked up to her holding her essay.
"Leigh Walters, right?" The professor asked.
Leigh was a bit taken aback. "Yeah ... I mean yes, I am."
"I just wanted to say that I was impressed by your essay." Professor Perlman spoke with the same calm, relaxing tones he used during the lecture.
"I didn't know you had time to read it already," Leigh said surprised.
"Well, I looked over a couple of them before my lecture to see if I was going to be repeating things everyone already knew. I am fascinated with your conclusions and was hoping I could use some of the points brought up in your essay at a meeting I am having at my house later this evening."
Leigh was stunned. She could not believe what she was hearing. After three years of attending college and the countless hours of course work, projects and essays, she never had a professor praise her work so highly. She also had the sense like the professor was coming onto her. She had never thought of herself as a desirable girl; actually, she was rather plain looking. This was all too flattering. She softly chuckled to herself. "Sure. Yes. I have no problem with that. Um ... do you need my sourses?"
"Yes, that would help me." He handed Leigh his business card. "My e-mail address is on there. If you could send me those by 4:00, I would appreciate it."
"Sure. I'll take care of it as soon as I get home." Leigh felt stupid. She felt like a giddy schoolgirl. When the professor turned around and headed back to the podium, Leigh was disappointed. Not as though she really expected anything to happen, but still, a glimmer of hope was there. Her life was so uneventful since she came to school, consisting of classes, studying and being alone. She had a couple of boyfriends in the past, but no one for a long period of time. They found her boring. She felt it much easier to keep people at arms length anyway. After her parents died, leaving her a rather sizable inheritance, she always felt self-conscious, even though she did not advertise her wealth to anyone. But somehow, she found an interest in this guest lecturer, Professor David Perlman.
Leigh made a disappointing face and turned to go, when Professor Perlman approached her.
"I have an idea," he said. He looked directly into her eyes. His voice dropped slightly and he spoke softly. "Why don't you come tonight? My colleagues would love to meet you."
Leigh felt a strange sensation come over her. It was warm, calming. She felt a bit woozy. She could not take her eyes off of his. Leigh took a breath and said,
"Yes ... I will."
"Go to the address listed on the card at 6:00 p.m. I will be waiting for you then." He stepped closer to her, looking down on her glazed face. "Do not be late."
"Yes ... Master."
Professor Perlman stood for a few seconds longer, then turned to gather his things at the podium. Slowly, Leigh found herself returning back to reality. She shook her head. The warm feeling had passed. "What was that?" she wondered. "I don't know," she answered herself, "but I liked it."
Leigh did not do any homework that evening, which was unusual for her. She found it easier to do homework every night, even the weekend, so she could keep on top of her studies. She was carrying over 32 credit hours this semester, two more than last semester, and with no social life, her 3.9 grade point average was the center of her pride.
Instead, after her classes Leigh went by Analiese, a boutique centered in the trendy part of town. She remembered her mother talking about going there when she needed something to wear for a special occasion. And Leigh always remembered her mother looking fabulous in whatever she purchased at Analiese. She had not thought about her parents recently. They were killed in a car accident almost six years ago. Until she was eighteen, her parents' estate was handled exclusively by the family attorney, Brad DeMarco. Leigh never really liked Mr. DeMarco. She could never put her finger on it, but she never did trust him. After Leigh took over the estate, she had not had to see or hear from Mr. DeMarco, which is just how she liked it.
Leigh came home to her apartment with a cream colored, low cut, slip style dress she purchased at Analiese. It had embellishments and lace all over the bodice. She had never thought of purchasing something so revealing in all her life, let alone spending that kind of money on it. But it felt good.
Putting the dress, she admired herself in the mirror. "Boy," she thought, "I DO look good. I have a chest and a waist. Professor Perlman is going to be impressed!" She also put makeup and perfume on and found some high-heeled shoes to wear. She could not wait to go to the meeting.
Leigh pulled her car up to the guard shack outside of the address Professor Perlman gave her. After Leigh gave her name, the guard let her in. A valet took her car at the front entrance. The house looked like an early twentieth century Tudor, not too ostentatious but well taken care of. A man came out of the house to met her by her car, then led her into the study and asked her to wait. Leigh felt like she had a million butterflies in her stomach. She felt ridiculous again, trying to get a hold of herself. "I am going nuts over a man I had a five minute conversation with!" she thought.
She took a deep breath, turned, and saw Professor Perlman with several other people. Suddenly, she felt a chill down her spine; something was not right. Then, she recognized Brad DeMarco from the group. Her heart began to pound out of her chest. All the euphoria she felt earlier was gone.
"I am impressed. You are on time." Professor Perlman said. His voice was still smooth, but cold.
Leigh looked around and realized she was here for a reason. Everything within her told her to run as fast as she could. But she did not. She began to shiver. "What is going on?" she said softly.
"I want you to meet Victoria Sellers," Professor Perlman motioned to the woman on his left. "Of course you already know Mr. DeMarco."
"Yes." Her voice was barely above a whisper.
"You must be wondering what is going on." Professor Perlman slowly walked toward Leigh.
"The thought had crossed my mind," Leigh said through her teeth, staring at Brad DeMarco. She glanced back at the professor when he approached her.
Professor Perlman stood about a foot in front of Leigh. "You are here to undergo a ... conversion, a re-awakening, a re-birth, if you will." He motioned his arms as he spoke. "The details of this are not important, at the moment. But I must say, you look absolutely radiant this evening."
Leigh wondered if she should reach out and hit the professor, but before she could lift her arms, two men came beside her and forcibly grabbed her arms, then began to drag her to a door leading to a basement within the house. She saw DeMarco smile as she fought and thrashed as she was dragged down the stairs. The led to a dimly lit room with a cement floor, chains on the floor and on the walls, an unusual chair with straps and leg extensions, a metal table and a tall silver mechanical device with many colored wires coming out of it. Everything she saw in the basement was frightening and she began to thrash wildly and scream. Professor Perlman and DeMarco had followed and the Professor came up to her and took her face in his hands, looking directly into her eyes, as he did before. His face was so close to hers, he could smell the sweet scent of her perfume. Leigh's struggles ceased.
"Leigh, my love," the professor said, softly, "you must calm down. None of this is going to help you. Just accept the fact this is going to happen." Leigh's body was now limp.