Bethany can actually feel it in her head, the last moment before she stops thinking. There’s a sensation of pressure, intense but strangely painless, like a headache without the ache. Even putting one word in front of the next becomes impossibly difficult, like trying to hammer in a nail made out of rubber. The spinning disc in front of her eye goes out of focus, and it seems like a small eternity before her sluggish brain realizes it’s because her eyes are too relaxed to stare properly. Then the bubble of pressure in her mind collapses, taking all her thoughts with it.

There’s no immediate sign that her conscious mind has simply ceased to function. Her stare is glassy and unfocused, but it’s been a good five minutes since she’s even tried to look away from the spinning disc, and at least ten minutes since the last time she succeeded. Her blank, unseeing gaze is only different from her hypnotized stare by a matter of degree. Even when her head lolls to one side, watching the constantly rotating spiral pattern with her face tilted like a bewildered puppy, it’s not much different than she looked a few moments ago.

So the music continues. There’s no risk to it–it’s not like her head can be made too empty and vacant, her mind too malleable and compliant for the next steps in her conditioning. The hidden observers are watching her through a camera with no microphone, perfectly safe from the numbing effects of the subliminals. They’re happy to let the hidden harmonics combine with the overwhelming visual stimulus of the swirling spiral as long as it takes to guarantee that Bethany’s brain is completely melted to mush.

It’s only when they see a slow trickle of drool escape the corners of Bethany’s faintly smiling mouth that they know she’s ready. That’s when the secret door at the back of the changing booth opens, and the smiling, blank-eyed woman (Bethany’s future, even if she doesn’t know it) leads Bethany back to the next room. There’s a spiral there as well, spinning in front of a comfortable chair that Bethany sinks into with dreamy exhaustion. There’s a pair of headphones, which the blank-eyed woman settles carefully onto Bethany’s head. There’s nothing else in the room. There doesn’t need to be.

Bethany will be thinking again soon. It’s just that the thoughts she thinks won’t be hers.

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Oh hey^ 😜

Fucking fantastic