“Bullshit,” I said, “I know that hypnosis is fake, it’s all a science fiction trope about mind control and it’s no more real than time travel.”

There was some laughter and the guy who had introduced himself as a stage hypnotist gave a weak smile, clearly humiliated by my revealing him as a fraud. Next to me, my friend Tracy groaned, I could tell she was annoyed that within three minutes I’d already started an argument. I had promised that for this party I would get along with people, be polite and try to blend in for our first year in the grad program.

Get through one party without starting a fight. That had seemed like an easy thing to do.

The hypnotist bro sighed, “Well it’s certainly exaggerated on television, like everything but I promise it’s very real.”

“Yeah well then I guess so are Vulcans and Klingons,” I shoot back.

“Come to my show tomorrow night and…”

“I’m not wasting my time on that, watching you with audience plants,” I interrupted him.

Tracy gave my arm a tug, “Becky, come on. Let’s go get drinks.”

The hypnotist bro extended his hand to me, “Rebecca is it? I’m Clark.”

Smiling having clearly won the argument I accepted his handshake. His hand was firm, smooth. He looked at me intently and then taking my hand by the wrist turned it over palm side up. He tapped my palm with his finger.

“Rebecca do me a favor, please imagine a magnet in your palm right here. Just picture a strong magnet right here in the palm of your hand,” he said then tapped my forehead, “and imagine another one right here. A strong magnet of the opposite charge. You seem smart, you can imagine that can’t you?”

“Sure,” I said, not sure where this was going.

“Great and if you had a strong magnet in your hand, a positive one, and a strong magnet on your forehead, a negative one, what would happen you think?”

“Well they’d be drawn together,” I said.

He nodded, tapping both my palm and my forehead again, “So if you’re imagining two powerful magnets, you’re picturing them drawn together, aren’t you? Seeing that in your mind now.”

“Sure,” I said, trying to sound unconvinced.

“And maybe not at the moment but as we talk you can just imagine this pull growing stronger and stronger and feel it pulling your arm up without worrying about it or thinking about it. In fact you don’t notice it as you’re just talking with me and everything is normal and you’re not relaxing and listening to my voice, isn’t that right Rebecca?” he said.

“Right,” I said.

He grinned, “And now Rebecca imagining that pull getting stronger with each breath you take, you can relax and let everything occur naturally. Just talking with me, imagining the pull. And I want you to imagine something else, imagine that as your hand floats up pulled by your magnets, that your eyes grow heavier and begin to close now.”

“My hand,” I said, not quite sure what I was going to say.

“Is floating up now, notice how high it is. And in fact Rebecca when it gets to your forehead, and when your magnets meet, you will relax deeply. Sleep deeply,” he said, adding, “won’t that be nice?”

“Yes,” I said, noticing that my hand was at eye level. I didn’t remember raising it. My eyes blinked, and I had to fight to open them. My hand was higher now, floating towards my forehead almost touching my fore…

“Bullshit,” I said, “hypnosis isn’t real, it’s fake.”

The hypnotist bro smiled as I removed my bra and sank to my knees. It was lucky that the party had a few extra rooms so I could slip away with him and show him just how much hypnosis didn’t work.