tore the headphones off the minute she began to feel odd. She’d
heard the rumors, of course, that it was happening in recording booths
all over the country, but a subliminal program being used by
unscrupulous soundboard operators? It had to be an urban legend, and
anyway Mid would never try anything like that!

if he did… Would that really be so bad? It was sort of flattering,
really, that he wanted her enough to go to such lengths. Maybe she
should just relax and–
No! That was the
subliminals talking. It had to be! But… Could it really have affected
her so much in the few seconds she was wearing the headphones?

that wasn’t it. The headphones were around her neck, playing their
music right into her collarbone. Maybe she couldn’t hear it consciously,
and the effect was certainly reduced, but…

…but she was still being programmed.

grabbed the headphones and lifted them a few centimeters, planning to
toss them onto the floor. But then she hesitated. Maybe it would be
better to just unplug them? Or, no, she’d already started taking them
off, she should toss them aside. Or would that not be enough? Would the
subliminals still be able to wind their way into her thoughts from
there? But unplugging them would definitely stop it. But she’d already
started taking them off…

She needed to decide
quickly. As it was, she was holding them just away from her ears, so
close she could hear the faint music coming from them. She had to
choose… But the music, soft as it was, kept working its way
insidiously into her thoughts, distracting her, and it was just so hard
to think, so hard to decide… If only someone could decide for her…

that was what she needed… Someone to take away the burden of deciding
for herself, someone who could make the decisions for her… She’d do
anything for someone like that…

…and hadn’t Mid just volunteered? All she needed to do was submit and be programmed… So easy to just let go…

…of the headphones, which closed over her ears.

…of her thoughts, which dissolved into sweet music.

…and of her will, which Mid would take care of from now on.

little while later, she removed the headphones once more and again
placed them around her neck. Then she dropped her hands to her sides and
waited in sweet blankness for Mid to tell her how her life would be
from now on.