There's Something Wrong with the Guest in 2B (Compleed 2/25/22)

Chapter 1:


The gavel came down. Her blood ran cold. She was only following orders! Her country’s orders! How could her own government do this to her? After all the years of loyal service! Dishonorably discharged? The shock was quickly being replaced by anger. All her medals, accommodations, even her fucking pension! Gone in the blink of an eye. Why?

She felt a gentle hand on her back. She shook it off.

“I’m sorry,” The man said. He collected the papers strewn across the desk, and placed them in his briefcase. “The wars over now. The governments trying to sweep their dirty secrets under the rug and save face.”

“Why was I the scapegoat? I wasn’t even the head of Midnight Climax! That was Gottlieb, the bastard!” The woman hissed.

Her lawyer raised his head, his eyes full of sympathy. Another wave of rage. She didn’t want his good for nothing sympathy!

“You know why.” He said. She gritted her teeth. “The bodies were starting to pile up, and you were an easy target to pin it on. You’re lucky you weren’t given serious jail time! Take the slap on the wrist I got for you and start the next chapter of your life.”

                                          40 years later

The sun was beginning to rise over Sunny Acres Retirement Village located near Berkley University. Beatrice was already up and shuffling around in her blue striped pajamas and pink bunny eared slippers. She had just started a pot of coffee in Ol’ Reliable, an old Mr. Coffee she had picked up in a yard sale. Forget that fancy Keurig thing Darlene, her old washed up Southern Debutant roommate, kept trying to push on her.

Beatrice took a long sip and smacked her lips. Ahh, today was the day. She could feel it. She patted her stomach. Nothing like a hot cup of coffee to wake up the bowels. This is your final eviction notice. She was about to grab for the newspapers’ crossword puzzle but froze. There was a sound outside her front door. Something that sounded like jangling keys.

She hoped Darlene hadn’t been sleepwalking again. Last time they had found her out by the guard house in nothing but her Depends, sashaying back and forth as if she was on a runway, in front of a very traumatized security guard. Gracie and Beatrice had had to come and collect her, wake her up, and not so gently remind her, “No one wants to see you in your skivvies when your tata’s swing down past your belly button.”

Gracie, or Dr. Ambrose as she liked to be called, had slipped the poor security boy her business card.

“If you need help forgetting.” Gracie had said with a wink. The only way that poor lad’s mind would ever be purged of Darlene’s, wrinkly old pendulums of Disease and Despair would be the sweet relief of death.

Beatrice rolled her eyes. “Dr. Ambrose” the retired hypnotist/ tarot card reader/ resident nut job. Their housing unit was full of her, “healing crystals” and, essential oils for every ailment. The only thing they had ever done for Beatrice was make her smell like peppermint, and she hated peppermint.

There it was again! The sound of keys rattling in the lock, followed by the sound of, Beatrice frowned, splashing water? She crept to the peephole and peered into it. Her eyes widened. Instead of a half-naked Darlene, there was a young black haired woman teetering and swaying on the walkway.

“Kaaattieeee,” the young woman moaned. She appeared to be on a cellphone, but she was holding it backwards to her ear, case first. “Let me innn, Kathie, I have to pee! Pleeeassseeee.” She wailed. This woman was drunk off her rocker! “If you don’t let me in I’m peeing on the lawn!” Ohh, don’t you dare! George worked so hard on that lawn! “That’s it!” The woman said. “I’m-aww shit!” Beatrice could make out a dark circle forming underneath her on the concrete. Beatrice pinched her nose. Maybe if she called George, he could turn on the sprinklers and maybe that would chase her away.

“What are you doing, Bea?” a voice said behind her. She spun around to find Darlene in her bathrobe, and about 20 pink curlers in her hair, making her appear like an eldritch monster out of Greek mythology. She was almost sure if she cut off one curler, two more would grow in its place.

“There’s a crazy person on our front lawn.” Beatrice said.

“Let me see,” Darlene scooted over and peeped through the hole. “I don’t see anyone.”

She nudged Darlene out of the way, and looked through the hole. She was right. The mystery woman was gone. Nothing but the wet circle on the pavement.

“She peed on our walkway.” Beatrice said.

“Seriously? Is she okay? Shouldn’t we check on her?” Darlene ripped the door open before Beatrice could protest and stepped outside. “Eww, what did I just step in?” Urine wasn’t the only gift the woman had left it seemed, and Darlene had just stepped in it. Barefoot. Darlene let out a horrified screech confirming Beatrice’s suspicions of an Eldritch bloodline. Vomit coated the welcome mat and front door, and a pair of keys that didn’t even come close to fitting in the lock had been forced in and were dangling. Beatrice watched in amusement as Darlene hurried over to the grass and began dragging her feet while muttering under her breath words that were unbecoming of a southern bell.

“Eww eww eww ew-” Darlene froze mid chant. “Bea, I think I found the culprit, come here.” Beatrice scowled, before taking a large step over the pile of sick and stood beside Darlene. She looked where she was pointing. There, by the guest window, was an unconscious woman, face first, and ass up in the flower bed, mooning the neighborhood. “Where’s her panties?” Darlene asked.

Beatrice shrugged. “She might have taken them off after getting them wet.” They stood beside her, trying to decide what to do.

“Well we can’t leave her like this exposed!” Darlene said. “The poor thing, let’s bring her inside.”

“Are you crazy? We can’t just bring a stranger into our home.”

“Where’s your sense of hospitality?”

“You’re not in Georgia anymore, Darlene. We don’t show southern hospitality, we show Californian hospitality. If anyone shows up unannounced on our doorstep, we don’t invite them in, or in your case, invite them in and sleep with them. We blast them with the garden hose until they leave.”

“I do not sleep with random strangers that show up on my doorstep!” Darlene insisted, but in a much lower voice added, “anymore.”

“Wasn’t that how you met husband number, hmm what was it, number three or number four?”

“He was a door-to-door salesman.” Darlene said. “My second husband, Richard, may he rest in peace.” Beatrice watched as Darlene kneeled down in the grass and rested her hand on the woman’s back. “Sweet Pea, are you okay?” The woman let out a muffled groan into the dirt. “Bea, help me get her sitting up.” Between the two of them, they managed to get her into a sitting position, with her back against the house. Beatrice was surprised to discover this wasn’t some woman, it was a girl! She doubted she was even old enough to drink. She couldn’t be positively sure with a face full of dirt, but she was almost sure she was a university student.

“Maybe we should bring her in.” Beatrice admitted. “Someone might have spiked her drink. We shouldn’t leave her alone.”

It was difficult, but between the two of them, they managed to hoist her up by the armpits, and drag her inside. By then, Gracie was in the kitchen and nearly dropped her spatula when they dragged the girl inside past her.

“What on earth!” Gracie said.

“Help us get her into the spare room!” Beatrice said. Gracie rushed ahead and opened the bedroom door, and the three of them managed to get her into bed with great difficulty, almost dropping her in the process.

“My back.” Gracie groaned.

“My knees!” Beatrice said.

“My hair!”

The other two glared at Darlene for a moment before turning their attention back to the girl.

“We should get her undressed.” Darlene said.

“You’ve already had six husbands, are you trying for a wife now?” Beatrice asked. She left the room for a moment and came back out with a damp wash cloth.

“Let me put her under, I can find out what happened to her.” Gracie volunteered. Both Beatrice and Darlene rolled their eyes.

“Put her under? She’s out cold!” Beatrice said. She gently wiped the dirt off the girl’s face, revealing a gash by her left eyebrow. Next she unbuttoned the girl’s white top. “What in the world?” The three of them bent over and stared, each with a puzzled expression. There were wires running throughout her bra. Darlene picked up a small white remote and turned a knob.

“Oooh.” The three of them chanted, now transfixed. LED lights began to flash in different colored patterns on her skin.

“Oh my God!” Gracie said. “She’s loaded!” She held up a massive wad of cash she had fished out of a black purse.

“Where did you get that?” Beatrice asked, looking at the bag.

“The front yard, I figured it was hers.”

“Hello, wife number one. Oww! I was kidding!” Darlene said, rubbing the back of her head.

Gracie dug through the bag some more before pulling out a wallet. She opened it to reveal a University I.D. as well as a Driver’s license for a Courtney Flower’s, age nineteen. “Huh, a goat.”

“A goat?” Darlene asked.

“Chinese Zodiac sign based on the year you were born. It’s supposed to say a lot about your personality. Goats tend to be more reserved and shy, not the type to light up their titties at a party.”

“Ohh, what’s mine?” Darlene asked.

“Sorry, raging whore isn’t one of the listed symbols.” Beatrice answered.

“Neither is an alcoholic!” Darlene said.

“I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk, there’s a difference.” Beatrice said, sliding off Courtney’s skirt in order to clean the urine off her legs. “Alcoholics go to meetings.” She gently wiped down her thighs, but when she got to her more intimate area she stopped. “There’s something inside her.”

“What do you mean?” Gracie asked. “Like a tampon?”

“No, I don’t think so.” She pressed down lightly on her pelvis. She could feel a bulge. She put a finger down and traced the opening. Beatrice could feel plastic sticking out. “Let’s see what’s behind door number one. “ She pulled on it and out came a cord of individually wrapped powders and pills, resembling a small version of a Leigh people wore to graduations with candy and money inside. “Oh boy.”

“That would explain the money.” Gracie said, a disgusted look on her face. “And to think I was worried about a drug dealer!”

“Ohh, is that Oxycodone? My prescriptions almost out and I-” Beatrice held it away from Darlene.

“She’s not out of the clear yet.” Beatrice said, examining one of the bags. “Looks like one of them broke open. That’s why she’s out cold. It doesn’t look like much though. I think she’s just high right now. These look like individual doses.”

“So if she’s a drug dealer, should we call the police?” Darlene asked.

“I’m sorry, I was wrong about you.” Beatrice said. “There is a Zodiac symbol for you after all.”

“Oh yeah?” Darlene asked, intrigued. “What’s that?”

“A rat.”


Beatrice looked up from her chair as Courtney began to groan.

“How are you feeling?” Beatrice asked, her voice gentle and soft.

“My head.” The girl groaned, putting a hand up on her forehead. Beatrice couldn’t blame her. Between whatever had been in her system, and “Dr. Ambrose” burning incense, sage, and lighting aromatherapy candles, even Beatrice had a headache. She couldn’t sympathize much though. She held up the link of drugs.

“Why don’t you start by explaining these?” Beatrice watched Courtney’s face go white, followed by red. She wondered if she’d try denying they were hers, kind of hard to do considering where she had found them.

“Did you pull those out of me?! What the hell? What gave you the right to inva-” Beatrice held up a hand. “This one broke inside you.” She pointed to a half empty link with a hole in it. “What was it?”

“L.S.D.” Courtney admitted after a moment. “Where are my clothes? What am I wearing?”

“You soiled yourself.” Beatrice watched with some amusement as Courtney’s face turned a shade of red. “So you were dressed appropriately.”

“Is this a diaper?” She asked.

“Yes. Now stay here while I speak to the others.” Beatrice got up and left the room. Now that she knew Courtney was fine, physically anyway, she didn’t care anymore. They had looked at her, what’s-it-called page to learn more than enough about her. She wasn’t a victim of a trafficking crime, she was a troubled young lady.

She met with the other two in the living room and explained the situation.

“Can I? Please? We can reform her!” Gracie said. Doctor Placebo was begging to get to work. “She’s just a baby!”

“Do what you want.” Beatrice shrugged, before stopping in her tracks.

“How do I look?” Darlene asked, a large grin on her face. Underneath her tank top was glowing and flashing string of lights.

“You’re not fooling anyone. We all know your nipples are about 3 feet lower than that.”

When Beatrice went back into the room, she was greeted by a very disoriented looking Courtney, who kept staring at her hands.

“You ever notice how strange fingers look?” She said wiggling them around in front of her face. Beatrice would have been more concerned about being naked in a stranger’s house while caught with drugs on her person, but sure, let’s go with fingers. Clearly she wasn’t quite sober yet. It would sure make getting consent a hell of a lot easier, and it’s not like anything would happen. It was just a formality for Dr. Placebo, so she could feel more official in her old age.

Beatrice cleared her throat. “Umm, Courtney,”

“Is that me?” the girl asked. Beatrice sighed and nodded her head as the young woman began to chant her name in different ways, putting more emphasis on different syllables each time.

Beatrice opened the old video camera, set it on the tripod and began to record. “Courtney, do we have your consent to place you under hypnosis?”

Courtney looked up, a blank expression on her face. “Can I eat it?”

It was then that Gracie entered, followed by Darlene. Yes, let her explain her crackhead idea. All Beatrice could chalk it up to was Gracie having lost a few too many brain cells during Woodstock. She still couldn’t believe people actually used to pay her for this. Enough people in fact, that she had made an entire career out of it. Beatrice had her doubts about Gracie having a doctorate, she honestly thought it was all just a stage name.

“We’re just going to give your subconsciousness a few suggestions, that’s all. Just to help you relax and ride out the high in a safe place. Is that okay?” Gracie asked, after she had gone on a long-winded version of what she did and the “benefits” of sleeping next to a chunk of amethyst while Mercury was in retrograde this week. Beatrice had a habit of spacing out during her ramblings, only coming to when Courtney had given her consent.

How Gracie had gotten the young lady to look into the camera, state her name, age, and have her give her consent, when Courtney a minute ago looked like she believed the creases in her fingers held tomorrow night’s winning power ball numbers was beyond Beatrice’s understanding. That woman was on all a whole other wave length. Maybe if she herself was on drugs, Gracie would also make sense to her too. The Bailey’s she had added to her coffee clearly wasn’t enough.

Tick tick tick went the metronome. The room had gone silent. The curtains had been drawn to give the room a more serious yet relaxing ambiance. Gracie’s voice had gotten much softer. No longer shrill and keyed up, it dropped to a steady and monotonous tone. Beatrice wished she’d always talk like that. It was kind of nice.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

The steady rhythm was making Beatrice herself feel drowsy just from watching. A tingling was beginning to run from her head to her hands and down her torso, and she found it rather pleasant. She shook her head to stay alert.

“Courtney,” Gracie said. “Relax and listen to the steady rhythm. That’s it. Good girl. Keep relaxing.” Beatrice watched as she sat down on the bed next to the young woman. “Now I’m going to count from five down to zero, and when I reach zero I want you to consciously relax every muscle in your shoulders and neck.” Beatrice listened as Gracie began. Once she hit zero she went on. “Feel the tension drain. The muscles are loosening. All the stress you’ve been carrying around is ebbing away, leaving you feeling light and relaxed.” Beatrice rolled her own shoulders around as Gracie instructed Courtney to do the same. She watched her give similar instructions and talk downs to her face, stomach, back and legs. Even Darlene was beginning to wobble on her feet.

“Your head wants to fall forward. Let it.” Beatrice was surprised to see Courtney’s head fall forward as if it was dead weight. “Now, I am no longer speaking to the Courtney of the present sitting here in this bed. I am speaking to the Courtney of the past, the purest form of Courtney full of innocence and light. The Courtney deep inside. I would like for that Courtney to come forward now.”

Beatrice watched shell shocked as a high-pitched giggle escaped the girls lips.

“Yes, that’s it. I want to spend time with that Courtney, at the age before the corruption, when you still held hope for your life and future. You’re so tired of the life you’ve been living. It’s so hard and stressful. You feel your desire to lead that life slip away just like the tension in your body.”

The room was quiet. They all held their breaths as the metronome kept on ticking.

“Once I count down from five, this other Courtney, this innocent Courtney full of light and love will be in control and no one else. Keep her in the forefront of your mind. Here we go…five…four…” Beatrice wasn’t expecting much. Maybe she’d have a little less attitude for a few days. “Three…two…” Placebo was a powerful thing after all, but it only worked if you believed it would. “One.” She wondered what age Courtney was when she had all her innocence, before she knew about drugs, alcohol, and sex. 14? 15? “Zero.” Gracie snapped her fingers.

The girl looked up. Beatrice, Darlene, and even Gracie were left speechless. A wide, dopey grin was on Courtney’s face and…not much else. Her green eyes were wide with wonder as she took them all in. A trail of drool made its way out of the corner of her mouth. She stuck out her tongue and blew a very wet raspberry before giggling and clapping her hands and sticking a few of her fingers into her mouth. The women stared in shock.

“I think you may have gone back a little too far.” Beatrice said, barely above a whisper.


Beatrice stared wide-eyed. It wasn’t possible! It couldn’t be possible, and yet, there she was. The 19-year-old with drugs up her cooter was sitting in the bed, eyes vacant and looking content sucking on her fingers. Maybe she hadn’t given Gracie enough credit? Maybe she was on to something? Maybe she knew what she was doing with all this crystal and hypnosis shit? Beatrice glanced over at Gracie, who seemed just as perplexed as she was. Or not…

Darlene let out a squeal snapping the other two from their shock. She rushed over to the bed and sat down.

“Aren’t you just the cutest thing?” Darlene said. She began waving her hands animatedly, making Courtney giggle. “Such a sweet, baby!”

“What happened?” Beatrice asked once she caught Gracie’s attention.

“Well, I-I’m not sure.” Gracie answered. She seemed shaken up. “None of my other patients have ever been quite this susceptible to hypnosis before. I only suggested she go back to being innocent.”

“Looks like she lost her innocence at a very young age then.” Beatrice said. Gracie bit her lip. “Can you fix her?”

“Fix her?” Darlene called from the bed. She had the girl pinned down in a fit of giggles, Darlene’s fingers racing up and down her sides. “Can’t we keep her like this?”

“No!” Both Beatrice and Gracie answered in unison.

“Can you put her back?” Beatrice asked.

“I think so, but the doctor in me is curious.” Gracie admitted. Beatrice didn’t like where this was going. “Why did she go back so young? I don’t think I should snap her out of it until I address whatever it was that caused this in the first place.”

“Drugs!” Beatrice said sounding exasperated. “Drugs caused this! Have you ever hypnotized someone who was high out of their mind?”

“Can’t say I have.” Gracie admitted. “Then we should definitely wait until they’re out of her system. If her subconscious is this susceptible, we could really end up doing more harm than good.”

Beatrice groaned.

“She could snap out of it on her own in time as well. Let’s just wait and see.”

“Oh, you hear that!” Darlene said. “You get to be my baby a while longer! Yes, you do! Yes, you do! Oh, I have the perfect dress for you to wear!” She turned her attention back to Beatrice. “Can one of you take me to my storage unit? I have the perfect things for this kind of situation.”

Beatrice narrowed her eyes. “What do you mean by that?”

“I have a few baby things lying around.” Darlene said, a little less enthusiastically.

“Don’t you think she’s a little too big for baby things? It’s nice of you to offer your children’s or grandchildren’s old baby things, but…” Gracie was saying, but was cut off.

“She didn’t have any children.” Beatrice volunteered. She really really didn’t like where this was going. Please don’t bring up the franchise owner. Please don’t bring up the franchise owner.

“One of my late husbands was, umm, well, he liked this kind of thing.”

“He liked…babies?” Gracie asked confused.

Beatrice pinched the bridge of her nose. “Not exactly.”

“Oh! I know! We should take her with us! Courtney! You want to go for a ride in the car?” Darlene asked, getting to her feet.

“Absolutely not!” Beatrice said. “There is no way we are taking her out of the house like this!”


“This is a terrible idea.” Beatrice groaned from behind the wheel of her white and blue 2002 Cadillac. She eyed the girl in the back seat anxiously. Courtney seemed to be as excited riding in the car as if it was her first time. She kept moving her head left and right as Darlene sat next to her holding her hand and pointing things out to her. Beatrice couldn’t tell who was enjoying this more, Darlene or Courtney, who was now drooling like a St. Bernard.

Gracie sat in the front passenger seat. She hadn’t said a word since they had left the house. She looked to still be in shock from the change that had come over her. While they hadn’t met the real Courtney, they had snooped through her social media pages and had learned quite enough. Part-time drug dealer, part-time exotic dancer and part-time student. Did her parents even know what their daughter was up to while they most likely paid for her college tuition? Did she even bother going to classes?

When they pulled up to the storage unit and got out of the car, Darlene pushed Courtney along in a wheelchair. When she opened the door to the unit, Beatrice moaned. It was piled high floor to ceiling with boxes. They were going to be here forever! How did she expect them to find anything like this?
“Be right back.” Darlene called. She walked in and around a few stacks. Beatrice worried they’d fall down and crush her, but a few minutes later she came back out with a large box, both Beatrice and Gracie were shocked she could carry by herself. “Open. The. Trunk.” She gasped, wobbling towards the car. Beatrice popped the trunk and Darlene dropped the contents in with a loud crash. “Woops.” she said. The box had opened, spilling the contents out. Beatrice wrinkled her nose. It seemed infantilism wasn’t the only thing the franchise owner had been interested in. There were animal ears, tails attached to silver bulbs, large baby bottles, mittens, adult sized pajamas, bibs, adult diapers with baby print designs, large colorful plastic silverware.

“Care to explain?” Gracie asked, picking up a pair of fuzzy, pink handcuffs.

“Forget the handcuffs, did you see the raccoon tail?” Beatrice said before turning to Gracie, “I’d wash my hands if I were you.”

“Go wait in the car, both of you!” Darlene said, picking through what she didn’t need and putting it back in the box. After a few minutes, the other ladies watched her wheel away Courtney, who had a variety of things on her lap. The two exchanged worried glances. Just as they were beginning to worry Darlene had taken her and had made a run for the southern border, they made a reappearance.

“Oh my God.” Gracie said. “Who threw that poor child into the 70’s?”

Courtney now had on black stretchy pants that flared widely toward the cuffs with black ruffles down the legs, and a pink no sleeve dress.

“Bell bottoms? How old are those?” Beatrice asked.

“Not that old.” Darlene said. “How long has it been since Carter’s been in the White House?”

“Ancient then.” Beatrice said. “Practically antiques.”

Once they were on the road again, Darlene insisted they stop for ice cream. The others had tried to protest, but once again had failed.

“It’s just ice cream. Let her run in and get it, and we’ll eat it in the car.” Gracie said. “The kid could do with a few extra pounds in all honesty.” Beatrice shot her a look that said, “I thought you were on my side,” but reluctantly turned into the Baskin-Robbins parking lot. Twenty minutes later, one glance in the rearview mirror made Beatrice regret it. The kid was coated in it. It was in her hair, all over her face, on her hands which had left sticky ice cream hand prints all down her windows. She didn’t want to know what the back seat looked like.

“What are you doing back there?” Beatrice asked, trying to keep the anger out of her voice. She knew she wasn’t doing a very good job. Darlene ignored her in favor of cleaning her up. Beatrice quietly seethed and started the car. They were fixing this as soon as they got home!

“Just twenty more minutes. Just twenty more minutes.” She chanted to herself. Courtney had begun to whimper, which had begun to increase in volume with every passing minute.

“Hey, Courtney. Look over here, Courtney.” Darlene flipped the switch and her chest began to glow and flash.

“You’re still wearing those?” Gracie asked.

Courtney was transfixed by the lights, she stared at them, blinked a few times and looked up. “Aren’t those mine?”

All three women sucked in their breath. They hadn’t expected her to suddenly snap out of it like that. They had expected a gradual process.

Courtney’s innocent expression went from confusion to anger. “What’s going on? Where am I? Who are you? Where are we-” She froze mid-sentence and doubled over holding her stomach. She let out a moan of pain.

“Sweat Pea? Are you alright?” Darlene asked, rubbing her back.”What’s the matter?”

Courtney was grimacing, her hands clenched into fists. “My stomach.” She whimpered. She slowly raised her head and spotted the empty cup of ice cream. “Did I eat that?”

“Eat it?” Darlene asked with a chuckle. “You inhaled in.”

A grim expression fell over Courtney’s face. “No, no, no!” Courtney moaned. “I’m lactose intolerant!”

“Oh.” Darlene asked. “A-are you going to be okay? Do you think you’ll be ill?” In fear of what was left of her interior, Beatrice pulled the car over on the side of the highway and rolled the windows down in case she was going to be sick.

“I-I don’t kn-” Courtney grimaced again and bent double. Even Beatrice could tell she was sweating from the front seat.

“If you’re going to be sick, please, I beg you, do it out the window.” Beatrice asked. Her car had been through enough from this girl!

Courtney’s eyes suddenly went wide. “Bathroom! Please.”
“We’ll be back at the house in fifteen minutes.” Beatrice said, pulling the car back onto the highway, now that an established exit route had been declared.

Courtney groaned again and began taking rapid shallow breaths through the pain. “Is there a gas station or something where you can pull over?”

“It’s best we just take you back to the house.” Beatrice said. “We had to change your clothes, and I don’t think you want to go out like that, and no one lets you use their bathroom anymore since Covid.”

Beatrice could see the sheen of sweat on her skin and, oh god, was she crying? She rolled the windows back down just in case.

Darlene was rubbing her back, before she leaned over and whispered something in her ear. Courtney flashed her a panicked look and vehemently shook her head.

“Just letting you know it’s an emergency option, and you look like you’re in an emergency.”

“You’re in charge of any mess she makes, you’re the one who insisted we stop for ice cream.” Beatrice said. Just ten more minutes. Just ten more minutes. Another peak in the rearview mirror. Courtney had removed her seat belt to take the pressure off her stomach. “Lay down if you’re going to go without a seat belt, I’m not getting a ticket over this.”

Darlene patted her lap and Courtney reluctantly laid down.

Five more minutes.

“Shh, there there, don’t cry. It’s okay.” Darlene said, running her fingers through her hair. Beatrice checked the mirror again. She was now curled tight into a ball, and by the way her shoulders shook, Beatrice could tell she was crying. It wasn’t until the smell hit did Beatrice realize she hadn’t made it, but she was still clutching her stomach in pain. Beatrice sighed.

“No real point in holding it anymore.” She turned up the radio and stuck her head out the window as much as she could as Courtney gave in to the pain. She didn’t care as long as she didn’t puke back there, and it had been clear Darlene had stuck her in one of those silly thick cartoonish diapers. As long as she didn’t have to be the one to deal with the aftermath.

“That’s it, you’ll feel better soon, love.” Darlene coo’ed.

An hour and a half later, Courtney sat on the bed in the back room seething in nothing but one of Darlene’s nightgowns.

“You haven’t answered any of my questions!” she growled. “Who the fuck dressed me up like that?”
“Clothes are the least of your problems right now.” Beatrice said. “You’re the one who needs to start answering questions! How about you start by telling us what you were doing last night with a cooter full of drugs?”

“You touched me without permission, that’s sexual assault!” Courtney said.

“I saved your life!” Beatrice said. “Ungrateful little…”

Darlene threw her hands up and stepped between them. She turned to Courtney. “We’re just worried about you, that’s all. We found you passed out in the front yard nearly naked, and brought you inside to rest. Given what we found, I think you’d appreciate us not turning you in.”

Courtney glared, before reluctantly nodding her head in agreement.

“What would your parents think of your behavior?” Beatrice asked.

“I wouldn’t know, I’ve never met them.” Courtney said through gritted teeth.

“Oh?” Darlene asked. “Then who did you live with? Who raised you?”

“I don’t know.” Courtney growled again.

“How do you not know? That’s the dumbest lie I’ve ever heard!” Beatrice said.

“I was in twenty-seven different foster homes since I was 12, how was I supposed to keep track?”

“Quit exaggerating!”

“Who did you live with before, dear?” Darlene asked.

“What is this, an interrogation?” Courtney said, rising from the bed. “Where are my clothes, I want to go home.”

“Still need to be washed.” Gracie answered. Courtney stared towards the new voice and went absolutely pale. She sat back down on the bed and retreated as far back as she could.

“Get that thing away from me!” she yelled in a panic. The two other woman stared towards the corner of the room, but couldn’t see anything.

“What? This?” Gracie asked pointing at the metronome. “It’s just a-”

“I know what it is! She used to use it on us! She-” Courtney stopped as if realizing what she was saying and turned away.
“What are you talking about?” Darlene asked, her face full of concern. “Did something happen?”

“J-just leave me alone! I’ll leave like this! I don’t care!” She tried to get up, but Darlene held her in place.

“Woah there! Hold on, we need to make sure you’re safe first, then we’ll drop you off wherever you want just-”

“No, don’t touch me! I’m leaving! I’ll just take the bus an-”

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Courtney slumped forward. The two other woman shot Gracie a look. Gracie just shrugged and let the metronome keep ticking. “Sorry, couldn’t help myself.”

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Tick. Tick. Tick.

The woman stood over the frail girl scowling.

“Eat it.” The woman hissed. “You know you’ll feel worse if you don’t take your medicine.”

The frail girl looked down at the unappetizing looking lumpy oatmeal. She felt nervous and jittery as it was. She had been seeing dark shadows in her room in the basement ever since mother had increased her dose, but the thought of the shakes, vomiting and headaches made her pick up her spoon and begin shoveling the tasteless porridge into her mouth. Mother’s scowl quickly turned into a warm smile.

“That’s it, Sarah. You’ll feel better soon.” Once the bowl had been scraped clean, the woman removed it from her lap and handed her a glass mason jar. Sarah slowly stood, wobbling a bit from side to side, before picking up the jar and heading towards the partition, where the toilet sat out of view of the rest of the room. “Stop.” The woman commanded. Sarah looked up questioningly. “Do it there, where I can see you.” Sarah knitted her eyebrows together. Mother had never demanded to watch before. She put a hand to her head. She was starting to get a bit lightheaded.

“I-I’m not sure if I can, standing here. The medicine is starting to take effect. It would be easier to sit over the toilet like usual.” Sarah protested.

“No” Mother said, writing something down on her clipboard, before looking up. “I want you to do it in full view, and I want you to make eye contact with me the entire time while you do it.”

“I-if I do that, I might miss, and you won’t get the morning’s sample. What if my levels are too high? You won’t know until it’s too late. You’ve always said that’s why it’s very important to check them right after I’ve eaten.”

“I don’t need all of it, just wave the jar around until you hear it catching. This is a test to check your proprioceptive sense.” Sarah frowned. Mother often used large medical terms she didn’t understand.

“What does that mean?”

“It’s the sense of knowing where your body parts are without looking. I need to check the conversation between your brain and body and make sure they are still in sync. Now quit wasting time. Stand up straight and look in my eyes.” Sarah straightened her body and stared ahead. “Good, now spread your legs as far apart as you can, and without breaking eye contact, hold the jar under you.” Sarah whimpered, but did as she was told. She felt off balance, and now instead of one mother, there were three. The room was beginning to roll around beneath her.

“I don’t feel well.” Sarah complained.
“You can lay back down after you finish this test. Don’t look away, keep your eyes on me! Keep them open. Keep the jar down a foot beneath you, don’t move it up. There, now whenever you’re ready, you may begin.”

Sarah stood there awkwardly for a second, hunched over with eyes straight up at Mother. She tried her best to relax and let it out naturally, but it refused. Come on, she urged herself. Mother’s brown eyes bore into her, a look of impatience growing on her face. A sense of modesty was something she had never developed, but performance anxiety on the other hand she understood all too well.

“What are you waiting for? Get on with it!” Mother snapped.

Sarah whimpered. She didn’t want to make Mother angry, but her limbs were shaking from the effort of standing in such an awkward position, and she felt too ill from her medicine to relax. “It won’t come out.”

“Do I need to get the paddle?” Mother threatened.

With a renewed sense of fear of a beating, Sarah fought against her body’s hesitancy and pushed until she felt herself begin to urinate, but the lack of weight in the jar told her she was off. In a panic she began to move her arm around, fighting against the urge to look down. Mother’s sharp gaze watched her. When she felt warm liquid begin to splash her arm, she quickly moved her hand back until, to her relief, she could hear it trickling and collecting in the specimen jar. Sarah let out her held breath and relaxed. Now all that was left to do was finish.

All at once, her sense of panic returned. She stared at Mother horrified as she felt the jar in her hand slip free. The urine soaking her hand along with the added weight of liquid, had made it too heavy to hold with one hand. She let out a whimper when she heard the jar smash and shatter on the floor. She remained quiet, eyes full of fear as the rest of her urine pattered onto the concrete floor below. Mother stood expressionless as she waited for her to finish.

Once all sounds had ceased, Mother stared down at the mess between Sarah’s legs.

“Pick up a large piece of glass.” Mother said. Sarah gulped and obeyed, tearing her eyes away and looking down for the first time. She selected a piece, holding it in its center as not to cut herself before straightening up. Her heart was hammering inside her chest. “Now take the glass, and stab yourself in the hand.”

“No! Mother! I’m sorry! Please no!” Sarah cried.

“Do it.”

“Please!” Sarah begged, choking on her sobs. Sarah let out a whimper as Mother began to remove something from her lab coat. It began to tick rhythmically. Sarah’s shoulders slumped forward, all fight leaving her body as her tear filled eyes began to glaze over.

“Now take the glass and stab your other hand.”

Without any hesitation, Sarah held the glass up high before jamming it into her palm. A thin trickle of blood began to drip down onto the concrete below. A smirk began to form on Mother’s lips. Progress.


The three women stared at each other anxiously. They had been asking Courtney routine questions under hypnosis, when Courtney had begun to let out more child like whimpers. Fearing she was going back into baby mode, Beatrice was about to tell Gracie to snap her out of it, when Courtney began speaking.

“That wasn’t what I meant!” she moaned. “Mother, please!”

“I thought you said you didn’t know your parents.” Beatrice said.

“It’s my fault! It’s all my fault!” Tears were falling from Courtney’s face now. “I just wanted a friend, I never wanted this!”

Beatrice gave Gracie a look, but Gracie shook her head. “She needs to work through this.” Gracie whispered, but when Courtney fell silent and relaxed, they all let out their collective breaths.

“Courtney dear,” Darlene said. “You need to stop doing drugs; they’re bad for you.” Even nosey Darlene seemed uncomfortable with the way this was going, Beatrice thought. Instead of prying more, she had jumped into Gracie’s plan to give Coutney’s subconscious healthier suggestions. Beatrice couldn’t put her finger on it, but something didn’t seem right with this girl.

“Mother says I need to take my medicine every day, but I don’t want to.” Coutney said, falling into a flat monotone. “But Mother will get angry if I don’t.” Courtney shivered.

“What medicine? What happens if you don’t take it?” Darlene asked.

“She puts it in my food; so I try to go without eating as long as I can. It makes me feel loopy, and sometimes the shadow men come.” Oh great, Beatrice thought. This girl was off her rocker. She was talking about anti-psychotics. “But if I don’t take it, the shaking and vomiting start.”

Gracie frowned seemingly deep in thought. “Doesn’t that sound like withdrawals to you?” she whispered. Beatrice shrugged. Lots of regular medication, including anti-psychotics, made you feel ill if you stopped taking them. “It reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

“Courtney,” Darlene went on. “Have you tried going to rehab?”

“Three times, but it never works. I’ve lost my savings.”

“Do you want to get off drugs?” Darlene asked.

“More than anything.” Courtney said. “But if I don’t take my medicine, Mother will be angry.”

The three locked eyes again. She couldn’t mean… Beatrice thought. That was absurd. Was her mother actually supplying her with drugs? At least that was what Courtney seemed to think. Beatrice still thought she was nuts, it was the only logical reasoning behind it. Courtney had partied hard one too many times and fried her brain like a piece of bacon.

“I don’t want to lose my scholarship, I’m scared. It’s my only chance to turn my life around.” Courtney mumbled.

“Courtney, have you ever been diagnosed with a mental disorder, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder?” Beatrice asked. If she said yes, it would explain everything.

“Yes.” Courtney answered. Beatrice sighed, she knew it! Now to get this crazy person out of their house and… “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Cibophobia.” Beatrice frowned. That wasn’t a schizoaffective disorder.

“Was that what mother was treating you for?” Darlene asked.

“No. Mother was studying me.” Courtney said. She wrapped herself in a ball and began whimpering again.

Gracie pointed to the door and the two of them followed.

“Ladies, if my hunch is right…” Gracie said. Beatrice noticed she looked much more pale and frailer than usual. “No, it can’t be.” Gracie shook her head.

“What?” Beatrice asked. Gracie only shook her head again. “Well, all in favor of putting this nut job back where we found her.” Beatrice raised her hand, but Gracie and Darlene just glared at her.

“She needs our help.” Gracie said.

“No, no she doesn’t.” Beatrice said.

“How long does it take to flush your system of drugs?” Darlene asked.

“I think she could be clean in two weeks, but it depends on what she’s addicted to.”

“It looked like painkillers and acid, she had.” Beatrice said.

“That was Cocaine that broke in her, not acid, but judging by her reaction to it, I don’t think it’s her drug of choice. I’ll have to ask.”

Beatrice frowned. “She said it was LSD.”

“She was high, are you really going to take her word for it? LSD doesn’t come in a powder.”

“Well, sorry Miss Woodstock, I never did drugs.” Gracie shot her a glare before retreating to the bedroom and returning a few minutes later.

“Her, ‘medicine’,” Gracie said putting up air quotes, “sounds like acid and Oxycontin, but.” She trailed off with a frown. “I thought she was someone else.” She shrugged. “It could be a psychological addiction.”

“What are you going on about?” Beatrice asked.

“There was a strange case in the news about eight years ago, I thought she might have been one of the victims, but it doesn’t make sense. You don’t get withdrawal symptoms from LSD. The only thing I can think of was if someone else convinced her if she doesn’t take it, she’ll be ill, but it’s been so long, you’d think she would know better by now.”

“It’s probably not her then.” Beatrice said.

“You’re probably right.” Gracie said. “I was thinking though, what if we kept her like that for a couple of weeks. Let her stay here, let the drugs work their way out of her system?”

“No! We can’t just lock her in a room for two weeks! It’s false imprisonment.” Beatrice said.

“Not if we record her volunteering to stay.” Gracie said.

“Is it really volunteering if she agrees in that state? She said she wanted to go home.” Beatrice said with a frown.

“I know,” Gracie said biting her lip. “There’s something bothering me though about her situation and I just can’t let it go.”


“You know how she went to an infantile state when I suggested she go back to a time before she was introduced to drugs?” Gracie asked. Beatrice nodded. How could anyone forget? “What if that wasn’t a fluke? What if that really was the only time she wasn’t on drugs?”

“So her mom was a crackhead, and she watched her shoot up.” Beatrice suggested. “It doesn’t mean her mom was literally giving her drugs. Gracie, seriously, she’s not our problem.”

“Hey guys! You need to see this!” Darlene called from the bedroom. Beatrice scowled. When had she snuck back in? They went back in to see Darlene looking excited. “Watch this. Courtney, raise your right hand.” They watched as the girl on the bed silently raised her right hand. “Now rub your tummy to the left with your left hand” Courtney rubbed her stomach, her right hand still raised in the air. “Now rotate your right hand to the right.”

“What are you doing?” Beatrice asked.

“Do you know how hard that is?” Darlene asked. “You try!” Beatrice sighed before doing it with no trouble. She raised her eyebrow. “Oh,” Darlene said sounding dejected. “Maybe it’s the other way. Courtney, switch directions.”

“No way.” Gracie whispered, wide-eyed. “This isn’t how hypnosis works! Courtney, stop.” The girl stopped and returned to her previous position, still as wide-eyed and blank faced as ever, almost as if waiting for further instruction. Gracie looked to Darlene and Beatrice, half horrified and half ecstatic. “Would you mind if I looked her over for a bit by myself? I’m worried if too many people are in here at once talking, it will interfere.” Darlene scowled, but Beatrice just shrugged. She was over this and was happy to camp out in front of the television with a cup of coffee. The less she was involved with this the better.

Beatrice left the room, made herself a cup of coffee, and collapsed into her favorite armchair. Darlene still hadn’t emerged from the back bedroom, but no matter. If she wanted to get in Gracie’s way what did she care. She turned on the television and watched an episode of her favorite show, and then another. She was vaguely aware of Darlene emerging, heading straight for the kitchen, and returning with a bowl of something. By the fifth episode she was starting to doze off.

When Beatrice had awoken from her nap, the room was now dark except for the glowing light of the tv. She got up and searched around the house for the others. It had been hours since she had seen them. Were they really still in the back bedroom? She peeked her head in the back to find them sitting in chairs by Coutney’s side, spoon-feeding her with the large plastic utensils.

“Seriously?” Beatrice asked, looking at Courtney, who was wearing a bib that said, “Groovy Baby” and was back in one of the large adult sized baby diapers with stars and teddy bears. Beatrice pinched her nose. “What are you guys doing?” Gracie got up and joined Beatrice outside.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Gracie admitted. “I tested a few things out, and this is far beyond the power of suggestion, Bea, this is complete obedience. I’ve never even heard of this before.”

“Okay, but why is she still here?”

“You don’t get it! If anyone was to learn about this.” Gracie said dropping her voice. “She could be in danger. I need to undue this.”

“Yes, you do.” Beatrice said with a scowl.

“This isn’t something I did, and honestly, I don’t think she’s even aware this is happening. This is the result of years of… I’m honestly not even sure what. Brainwashing? Conditioning?” Gracie said, waving a hand through her hair. She looked into Beatrice’s skeptical gaze and said, “Imagine if someone told you to kill someone, and you were powerless to stop yourself.”

“Oh,” Beatrice said. “It could still just be power of suggestion.” Gracie shook her head.

“It’s deeper in the brain than that. I know you’re not happy about this, but I’m keeping her here.” Gracie said sounding forceful. Beatrice was taken aback. Gone was her wistful attitude. Beatrice didn’t comprehend what was going on, but Gracie seemed shaken up. “I already had her email her professors that she would be out of class for two weeks due to covid. She’s going to need around the clock care, and I’ll do my best to break whatever it is that’s causing this blind obedience. This is where your power of suggestion comes in. The idea is to break her addiction, cancel out her fear of food, and promote independent thought and action. I’ll need your help too.”

Beatrice sighed. There was no avoiding this it seemed. “What do I have to do?”

“Changing diapers won’t be necessary. I don’t think so anyway, as long as you take her to the bathroom every few hours. You might need to tell her what to do though, like sit on the toilet, urinate, defecate, that sort of thing. We’ll also need to feed her, make sure she drinks water, and wipe her down. Just be very careful, if you say the wrong thing in this state there could be consequences later when we pull her out. I think it’s best if we take shifts.”


Sarah sat huddled in the corner, crying and nursing her injured hand. She didn’t understand how she had hurt it. She didn’t remember picking up any glass, but Mother said she must have. Mother had bandaged it for her after soaking it and removing any bits of glass. Sarah whimpered. It hurt so much!

Sarah looked up when she heard her heavy metal bedroom door begin to unlatch. Mother was there, holding a dress. Puzzled, Sarah forgot about the pain in her hand and stood at attention in the corner as Mother commanded.

“We’re going out today. Put these on, I’m taking you to the park to play.” Sarah’s heart leaped with joy. She could count all the times she had been outside on her fingers. Mother said she wasn’t well enough to mingle with other children and had to be kept indoors for her own good. She quickly accepted the clothes, struggling a bit to put them on. She was usually naked so Mother could keep track of her measurements. She didn’t mind, although it did get cold sometimes.

She could hardly walk in a straight line once they were out on the street. Sarah had never been allowed to play. Her eyes grew large with excitement when the playground came into view. There was a tall piece of metal with stairs children were climbing up. She observed when they reached the top, they sat on their bottom and let themselves glide down to the bottom. She wanted to try that first, but oh! There was another strange piece of equipment children sat on and were pushed by adults. Sarah watched them rock back and forth, going higher in the air. She wanted to run there, but she felt Mother grab her hand and give it a firm squeeze.

Sarah turned to look up at her. Mother smiled at her.

“Would you like to make friends to play with at home?” Mother asked. Sarah nodded eagerly. Mother bent down to eye level with her and gave her a hug. Sarah froze, unsure of what to do, suddenly aware of a strange ticking sound. Her body went limp in Mother’s arms. “In thirty minutes, invite someone who is here without a guardian home with us to see our cat, t’s just had kittens.” Sarah heard a snap and stood up straight. She looked at Mother, who smiled again. “Go play.”

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A cliffhanger! Nice!

It had been six months since Mother had begun bringing other children to stay with her in her room, but Sarah had never felt so alone as she did now. She sat huddled alone in a corner while the other four sat amongst each other. Each new face that appeared seemed to resent her as much as they did Mother, and for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out why. One day, she had gotten up the courage to ask.

“Why do you hate me?” she asked the silent room. A red-headed boy named Peter, around twelve or thirteen, lifted his head from his arms and glared at her.

“Why do you think?” He snapped. Sarah shrugged. She really didn’t know. “You brought us here!” Sarah stared at him, feeling more confused than ever.

“What? No, I didn’t.” She said.

“Yes, you did!” Another girl said. “You led me down here because you said your cat had had kittens, and then that woman locked us in.” Sarah looked into Samantha’s eyes, once bright and cheerful, now sunken in. Black circles now surrounded everyone’s eyes, and morale was so low hardly anyone spoke. Sarah couldn’t understand it, her room wasn’t that bad.

“I don’t even have a cat.” Sarah said. “Why would I tell you I had?” Her eyes searched desperately from face to face willing someone to believe her, but all she was met with were hardened glares. Except for one. The youngest.

“She’s just as stuck down here as the rest of us.” Esther said. She was seven, with long curly brown hair, and the latest new person as of two weeks. “You’ve seen what that lady does to her when she plays that ticking box. Maybe she didn’t know what she was doing?”

The others looked away or merely shrugged.

“Is that what she’s trying to do to us too? Turn us into puppets like her?” Peter asked. Now Sarah was more confused than ever. What were they talking about?

“How long have you been down here, Sarah?” Esther asked.

“Always, this is my bedroom. This is where I live.” Sarah said. The others grimaced. “What? Isn’t your bedrooms like this?”

They began telling her of fantastic lives, of clothes, food, television, school, and beds. They had to be lying! They had to be! Wasn’t this normal? If what they were saying was true, why would Mother take them from such magical sounding lives to be down here?

“I’ll ask Mother to let you go.” Sarah said. Esther smiled weakly at her.

“Thanks, but I don’t think it will help.”
“Why not?” Sarah asked. Everytime she had asked Mother why she kept bringing more kids here, she told her it was because Sarah had said she wanted friends. Maybe if she told Mother she didn’t want them down here, she would let them go.

“She’s trying to make us like you, a puppet.” Peter said.

“I’m not a puppet!” Sarah said.

“Yes, you are, whenever she breaks out that little box, you do whatever she says. We’ve seen you lick the floor, smash your hand with a hammer, punch Steven in the face.” Peter said. Sarah’s eyes went wide with horror.

“My…my hand?” Sarah asked in almost a whisper. “And Stephen.” She looked at the boy with a black eye. “I did that?” They nodded. A knot began to form in Sarah’s stomach. Why would Mother tell her to hurt herself and others? Why was she obeying? Why couldn’t she remember? “No, that can’t be right. Mother wouldn’t…”

“Is she really even your mom?” Peter asked. “What kind of mom locks their kid in a basement and orders them to smash their own hand with a hammer?”

“Maybe you were kidnapped like us.” Esther said. Sarah’s heart began to pound. No! No! This was all a lie. “We can prove it to you.” Esther said. “I have an idea.”


Darlene stirred awake to the sound of whimpering. She opened her eyes. She was sitting in the rocking chair in the spare room and-oh no! She saw Courtney sitting up and whimpering loudly. Darlene couldn’t believe she fell asleep on her shift. She strode over to Courtney and checked the time. 8 pm! She was supposed to walk Courtney to the bathroom three hours ago. She cringed as she pulled down the blanket. Her bladder looked distended. Gracie had made it clear they had to be regular about taking her to the restroom or damage could be done. She didn’t seem to be able to regulate bodily functions on her own.

Courtney whimpered loudly again. Darlene grimaced. She was afraid having her move would hurt her more. Well, she was wearing a diaper for a reason.

“Just go ahead and pee there.” Darlene whispered. The moment the words left Darlene’s lips, Courtney stopped whimpering and a look of serenity began to form on her face. “That’s it love, you don’t need to wait for us to tell you to pee, if you need to go, just go.”


Beatrice was surprised to find Courtney sitting in a wet diaper the next morning. Everything had been going surprisingly smooth all week. They’d each feed her during their shift by giving her verbal commands such as, “open your mouth” “close your mouth” “chew”, and “swallow,” followed by phrases of encouragement that, “food was good” and, “you like eating.” Water was given via Darlene’s massive baby bottle, she didn’t even want to know what she had done with it, and after each meal they’d tell her to “stand” “walk” “sit” “pee” “poop” “wipe” and“flush.” Beatrice had learned the hard way she had to hand her toilet paper first after instructing her to wipe for the first time. Beatrice was horrified to see Courtney reach down with her bare hand.

Now for some reason, Coutney had seemed to develop urinary incontinence. Maybe it was a side effect of being in a trance for so long? She’d have to ask Gracie about it. She cleaned her up, but when she looked next to the bed, she found the diapers and baby powder there already waiting for her. Had this already started happening earlier? She finished up taping a new diaper, and went outside to find Gracie.

“I noticed that too.” Gracie said, once Beatrice had told her. “I’m not sure why either. Having you been repeating the phrases?” Beatrice nodded. Gracie had given them a list of encouragements and suggestions to repeat throughout the week, and for the most part it seemed to be working, much to Beatrice’s frustration. It had been much easier to feed and clean her when she did exactly as you said, but now she seemed to only obey half the time.

“We could have had a maid, I’m just saying.” Beatrice joked. “What do you think made her like this anyway?”

“Remember that case I mentioned?” Gracie said. “I did some research, and I keep going back and forth.”

“I had no idea what you were talking about then either.” Beatrice admitted.

“Are you familiar with something called Project MK Ultra?” Gracie asked. Beatrice shook her head. Another one of her conspiracy theories? “Back in the 50’s during the Cold War, the United States believed Russia was researching E.S.P, and mind control, so we started researching E.S.P and mind control.” Beatrice raised an eyebrow. “Some were willing and informed participants, others weren’t. Take Operation Paperclip, we teamed up with Nazi scientists and used various methods, L.s.d. Sensory deprivation, hypnosis, torture, verbal, physical and sexual abuse as a way to control patients minds. They tested this in hospitals, universities, prisoners of war. The list goes on.”

“She’s not our age though, she wasn’t alive back then.” Beatrice said.

“There was one called Operation Climax, the CIA hired prostitutes to lure our own men into a room with a two-way mirror and spike their drinks with L.S.D to study what would happen. There was a death, probably more than one, but they destroyed all the documents. They took a high ranking military official and made her the scapegoat. Everyone knew it, but the CIA wanted someone to pin it on.”

“But what’s that have to do with-” Beatrice started to say, but was stopped.

“Nine-ten years ago, a kid called 9-1-1, said their mother had hung themselves and had kids locked up in the basement. Police came, and found the kids, along with years of research on long term L.S.D usage and mind control. Turns out it was the lady who the government pinned it on. She had been kidnapping kids and continuing the experiments.”

“That’s awful!” Beatrice said. “But why?”

Gracie shrugged. “Some people think she lost it and thought she could earn her title back if she could prove mind control worked. Maybe she realized what she was doing and hung herself out of remorse?”

“So you think Courtney is one of those kids that was trapped?” Beatrice asked. Gracie nodded.

“It’s the only thing I can think of. It would explain her fear of the metronome, mother giving her drugs, the obedience.”

“We can always ask.”

And ask they did, but the ending was nothing like they expected.

“She held me captive all my life.” Courtney said in her flat monotone drawl. “But she didn’t hang herself.”


Tick Tick Tick

Sarah slumped forward and hung her head down, but her eyes were not devoid of life. She watched Peter for the cue. He snuck behind her and slipped the ticking box out of Mother’s pocket before flashing the thumbs up sign. She held her breath in anticipation. If Mother told her to hurt herself or others then everything they had told her was the truth, and everything she had known about herself was a lie.

She could see the rope dangling from Mother’s hands. She swallowed nervously.

“Sarah, look at me.” Mother said. Sarah looked up, trying to make her face as dead and expressionless as possible. “Today is a very important day. Your final test.” She handed Sarah the rope. Sarah took it, and inwardly cringed. Mother hadn’t told her to take it. Her heart began to hammer wildly in her chest, but Mother didn’t seem to notice. “Take that rope and strangle Esther.” Her heart began to pound. Her eyes filled with tears at the realization of what this meant.

“Why, Mother?” Sarah asked, looking up. Tears streaked her face.

“What the-” Mother said, reaching in her pocket, but the metronome was gone, only for Peter and Stephen to begin to hold her down, followed by the other kids. Sarah removed the rolled up wads of toilet paper from her ears.

“What have you been doing to me all these years?” Sarah asked.

“Let go of me!” Mother said, fighting against the arms that held her in place.

“Let them go, Mother, let me go!” Sarah said.

“No! My works almost complete! Once they learn what I’ve accomplished!”

“What have you done?” Sarah asked. “What was all this for?”

“I’ve created obedient soldiers! You follow orders without question, with no regard to your own or others well-being! Once I duplicate the results in the others-”

“NO!” Sarah yelled, slipping behind Mother and positioning the rope around her neck. She needed to show her she was serious. “This is your last chance! Free us!”

Mother began to laugh.

“You can’t kill me! You depend on me! I raised you since you were a toddler.”

“Do it!” the other kids chanted. “Kill her!”

Sarah tried to pull the rope, but her hands were shaking. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t do it!

“She’s a monster Sarah, do it!” Esther said. “She’s going to make you kill me if you don’t.” Sarah’s grip on the rope loosened. She couldn’t do it, she wasn’t a killer. Right before she was about to let her go, she heard the ticking.

“Kill her!” Peter shouted.



“Look at you!” Darlene squealed. “We’re so proud of you! Group hug!” The four of them squished into a pile and laughed. Courtney stood beaming standing in her cap and gown.

“Thank you, if it wasn’t for you, I don’t think I’d ever turn my life around.” Courtney said. She frowned a bit though and turned on Darlene. “I still haven’t forgiven you for making me incontinent though!” She let out a sigh. You said I’d get it back, but it’s been four years!”

“Be thankful it’s only urine.” Beatrice said. She thought back to when they’d woken Courtney up all those years ago when she no longer followed their orders. They had been spooked to the core to learn of her past, and they weren’t sure if Sarah, or “Courtney” as her name had been changed to when she had been rescued, was even conscious of what she had done.

They hadn’t had time to ask, they were too busy ducking and scrambling away from Courtney’s rage. It was only when she had settled down did she realize the benefit to what they had done. She had gained a little weight, and was surprised to find she was no longer dragging from the effort of moving. They had had a long talk that night, and it hadn’t taken long for her anger to dissipate. At least until Courtney had frozen in shock mid-sentence at the realization she was peeing herself. Beatrice and Gracie had admitted they didn’t know what had caused that, but Darlene had spoken up and admitted what she had said. Gracie had offered to put her back under and fix it, but Courtney said she never wanted to be hypnotized again.

“So what do you think you’ll do now?” Gracie asked.

“Look for a job I guess, but I’m still looking for my family on the side.” Courtney said. Despite her rescue, she was the only one who never reported missing, but she kept looking. She liked to think her real mother was out there somewhere, wondering every day what happened to her.

“Well whatever you do, you better stay in touch.” Beatrice said, who was the most surprised of all to find she really did like her, once she had come to her senses. They had all became friends, and looked after her as if she was their Granddaughter. “I’ll miss her.” Beatrice admitted as they watched Courtney drive off.

“Who knows, maybe another drunk girl will come crashing into our garden.” Darlene said.

“And if they do, you’re staying away from them.” Beatrice said.

The End

Two things:

  1. For a scene separator you should use this code (it’ll make some scripts that run regularly a lot happier :slight_smile:):
<div align="center">~~~</div>
  1. Don’t use spaces for layout, they will fuck up your post royally. It’s you’re trying to center stuff, use the same HTML above, but replace the ~~~ with the text to center. That way it will be properly centered on all screen sizes and (more importantly) you won’t have to fight with markdown parser. In markdown 3 or more spaces is the same putting everything until the next double-linebreak inside <pre></pre> tags. If you use the div tag method above, on smaller screens the text will still wordwrap properly when it needs to, :slight_smile: