The whole voicemail ran for over four minutes, and the first minute and a half was mostly just undefinable noise. Sounded like a pocket dial. Jenny kept listening because she thought it’d be funny to tease Sarah about it when she got back from her trip. 

But then, about ninety seconds into the noise and muttered voices, there was something clear. Like Sarah had picked up the phone and spoken clearly just then.

“Jenny, I’m in trouble… I can’t get these thoughts out of me…”

Then, it was back to muffled sounds, static, and distant murmurs. After another couple of minutes, the message unceremoniously ended.

It scared the hell out of Jenny, frankly. Sarah wasn’t the prank-call type. And even if she had been, what was the joke? Sarah’s sense of humor bent towards the corny – gruesomely forced puns, that kind of thing. Sending a spooky, incomprehensible voicemail just to mess with her friend’s head? Not a chance.

Jenny didn’t know what to do. Sarah was out of town – off for a week in London with her new beau, Bradley. That had been a little unlike her, too. Sarah wasn’t a spontaneous girl. She’d only been with Bradley for like, two or three months. So this trip took Jenny by surprise.

It sounded like she was having some real problems, though. Some kind of… mental episode? As far as Jenny knew, Sarah had never had mental health problems before. Could she be having some kind of breakdown? Would that even make sense? Something she was suffering from, and in a moment of lucidity, reached out to her friend with a literal call for help?

Jenny listened to the voicemail a half a dozen times that night. She didn’t sleep. In the morning, she drove to the airport.


The flight to London was long, bumpy, and overall the most stressful thing Jenny had ever done in her life. Sarah wasn’t answering her calls, and Jenny wasn’t even sure she knew where her friend was staying. She had a hotel name, but Sarah had also mentioned they’d be visiting some friends of Bradley’s while there.

So what was the plan here, exactly?

Jenny bit her nail nervously, looked out the window as the plane descended into Heathrow, and tried to not panic.


So, Sarah wasn’t at the hotel she’d mentioned to Jenny. She wasn’t answering her phone. Jenny had no idea where to find her, was thousands of miles from home, and basically stewing in a constant mix of doubt, concern, helplessness, and anxiety.

She found a little coffeeshop to sit and get out of the rain. She went back through all her texts from Sarah over the last several months, scratching down notes of everything she could think of. Bradley’s full name. Places in London Sarah had mentioned wanting to go. The area of the city Bradley’s family was from. Everything she could think of.

After a couple of hours of that, Jenny had… very little, really. But it was enough to track down, with the help of a public records office and a lot of patience, a lead.

There was a house – a mansion, or a manor, or something – out in the country, not too far from here. Bradley’s father had been some kind of businessman (assuming Jenny had the right names) and his business owned this building (assuming she understood the documents she found correctly) and they used it for functions and parties sometimes (assuming the quiet, discreet hints in the society articles from twenty-five years ago she read were correct). 

It was about the least certain Jenny could imagine herself being. But there wasn’t much else to be done about it. She ordered an Uber and headed out.


She’d been expecting something stately. Large gardens, immaculate grounds, something like that. A gatehouse she’d have to talk her way past. Something.

Instead, she looked out of the car window at a dull, somewhat ramshackle stone building with untrimmed trees hiding most of it. She paid the driver and approached it, doubting herself more than ever.

The main door was immense, wooden, and open. She stepped inside. “Hello?” she called quietly. What were home invasion laws like here? It wasn’t like back home in Texas, where she could get shot to death just for crossing the threshold, right? She was pretty sure, but… well, old aristocratic families probably had their own ways of ruining you if they wanted, didn’t they?

“Good afternoon, madam,” a light voice said, startling Jenny nearly into shock.

The woman standing just behind her was well-trained, clearly. She didn’t react at all to Jenny jumping out of her skin and strangling a shriek. She was about 22 and drop-dead gorgeous, with wavy golden hair and pale blue eyes. Her uniform was strange – it was a crisp white blouse and neat dark pencil skirt, nothing revealing, but the way it sat on her was mysteriously sensual.

“Everyone will be meeting upstairs, in the study, in about an hour,” she said. Everyone? Jenny debated about her options, here – come clean, or play it close to the vest? She was rapidly feeling out of her depth.

“Help yourself to a drink as you go in,” the woman said, her voice smooth and sweet. She gestured gracefully to a nearby table with half a dozen glasses of champagne. Now that was a good idea – just a little something to chill herself the hell out and figure out what her next move was.

She murmured a quiet thank you to the woman, who smiled and slid out of sight silently. Jenny grabbed a glass, downing half of it on her way up the stairs.

The inside of the building was far more impressive than the outside. Perhaps that was on purpose, she mused – keep a low profile, minimize interest in… whatever happened here. Jenny reminded herself that she didn’t actually know that anything sinister was going on – just that her friend was in trouble and needed her. She had to keep herself together, focus on-


Holy shit.

There, at the far end of the room, wearing a beautiful dress and staring into space, was Sarah.

Jenny zipped across the room as fast as she could without making unnecessary noise. “Sarah!” she whisper-shouted as she came near. Her friend turned, half-smiling, looking at Jenny without recognition. 

“Hello there,” Sarah said, “How are you?”

“Sarah, are you okay? What’s going on here? I don’t understand what this place is. You look strange, are you alright? Did someone do something to you? We should get out of here, I think – right?” Jenny couldn’t seem to just ask one question. Sarah stared back at her, eyes half-lidded and smiling sleepily.

“Sarah, look, we… let’s just go, okay?” She said, putting her hand on Sarah’s arm. Sarah didn’t move, just smiled placidly. Jenny tried to pull her towards the door, stepping backwards, and crashed into something.

Someone, as it turned out. Jenny wheeled around to face a tall, handsome blond man in a fine charcoal suit. “I suppose you must be Jenny,” he said, adjusting his lapels after the impact. “Pleasure to meet you at last. I’m Bradley.”

Jenny stepped back a little, noting that Sarah’s expression had changed from totally vapid to something like quiet bliss. “I, uh,” Jenny said, looking back at Bradley, who was grinning pleasantly at her. “I was worried about Sarah,” she said, as if that explained showing up uninvited in a different country to a place she shouldn’t know anything about.

“I’m sure you were,” he said. “I think my little doll here managed to get out a call or something, yes? I had a feeling. She’s quite willful.” He adjusted his gaze a few degrees to peer at Sarah. “That is, she was. Not so much anymore, eh doll?”

Sarah just grinned. Jenny squeezed closer to her, trying to figure out how to grab Sarah, get her to snap out of this state, rush past Bradley, get out of this house, to the airport, and back home.

Maybe just start with the first part. She edged closer to Sarah, who looked down towards her, cooing softly as Jenny’s face squeezed nearer her cleavage.

“You really don’t have to worry,” Bradley said, stepping a bit closer. “She’s much happier now. Aren’t you, doll?”

Sarah made a small humming sound in her throat, something that wasn’t quite a purr and wasn’t quite a word. She continued gazing at Jenny. Jenny, meanwhile, was feeling quite overwhelmed. All this stress, all the anxiety, the lack of certainty and the pressure – it had been building up for days, and now, she felt like she was cracking. She couldn’t think straight. She couldn’t follow what was being said. Everything that was happening made so little sense, she felt dizzy.

“You look a little lost, sweetheart,” Bradley was saying. He reached down, plucking the half-empty champagne glass from Jenny’s hand. She’d forgotten she was holding it. He set it down behind him and looked at her more closely. “I’m glad you had a little drink. That reacts with the nanites in the air in here. Gets the process started.”

Jenny took a few moments, trying to tease out the meaning of his words. Her mental processing seemed to be moving in slow motion. She’d drunk champagne, and… there was something in the air, and… they… interacted? And there was a… process? She could track those words, but couldn’t seem to make them cohere into a rational thought. She realized she was staring at Bradley, whose grin had only widened.

“Did you tell anyone you were coming here, sweetheart?”

Jenny thought about it. Took her a while to respond. “No,” she said, and the slur in her voice was noteworthy, but she couldn’t spare the mental energy to figure out why. “Was in a rush.”

“That’s very good. I’m happy to hear that,” Bradley said, giving her shoulder an affectionate squeeze. “Think this for me: ‘I want to make Bradley happy’.”

I want to make Bradley happy, Jenny thought, and it was firm and sharp in a way her other thoughts seemingly weren’t. I want to make Bradley happy. The thought felt sticky, like it was adhering to her brain somehow.

Can’t get these thoughts out of me, she remembered someone saying, at some point. She couldn’t think of who, or when. It mattered, she could tell, but it was already vanishing.

Bradley was looking at… um, the other girl. Whatever her name was. “The buyers will be here shortly,” he said. “Go and wait downstairs. Mingle. Flirt.” The girl gave him a sleepy smile and slowly glid away. Bradley turned his attention back on Jenny.

“I’m going to miss her,” he said, “but she took to the programming very well. She’s going to fetch us quite a sum.” He checked his wristwatch, paused thoughtfully, and said “I don’t have time to work with you right now. It’s good that you’re here, but your timing was poor. Here’s what we’ll do.” He pointed at a door on the far end of the room. When Jenny continued staring at him, he took her chin in his hand gently and turned her face so she was looking at it.

“That door leads to a hall. At the end of the hall is a room. Go into that room and sit on the bed there.” He paused again, and added “The processing nanites aren’t nearly as strong in there, so when you sit down, think “I need to stay right here”. Do you understand, sweetheart?”

Jenny let the words roll through her head for as long as it took. It took a while. Finally, once she was able to piece them together, she nodded.


I need to stay right here.

Jenny’s head ached. Her muscles were tense and drained. Her eyes stung. She sat on the bed, staring at the dark wood of the door. She started to stand up.

I need to stay right here.

I want to make Bradley happy.

Her memory felt washed out, like overexposed film. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know why she’d come. She couldn’t remember what had happened the last day or two.

I need to stay right here.

Her mouth was dry. She was afraid. She wanted to leave. Every time she tried, though, that thought that had rooted in her mind pushed itself to the fore again.

I need to stay right here.

It had been hours. The room only had a small window up by the ceiling, but the light from it had moved all the way across the floor since she’d been sitting here.

I need to stay right here.

Finally, the door opened. Bradley walked in. He smiled at her. “Well, sweetheart, your friend has a new home. She’ll be very happy – Lord Calwell has some, ah, unusual proclivities, but we’ve made sure she finds them extremely enticing.” He chuckled at her blankly confused expression. 

“Anyway. Are you ready to begin your own processing, sweetheart?”

Jenny opened her mouth to reply, but Bradley held up a finger. “Wait a second. First, think this: ‘I can’t wait to be brainwashed’.”

I can’t wait to be brainwashed.

Bradley nodded. “Good. Let’s begin.”

I can’t wait to be brainwashed.

I’m probably going to reblog Moq’s entire history before the night is out! 🙂