Ann: Phase II
Kendall Craft returned home from tennis at the club and was delighted to find a message waiting for him on the answering machine that was connected to his relaxation tape “order” line. The blinking light meant that one of the phase one subjects was ready for the next, most difficult step in the program. He grinned, wondering which one of the current phase I subjects had managed to deepen her trance enough that she would find and act upon the hidden suggestion to “order” the next tape.
The anticipation of creating another sexy smoker stirred his libido. Unfortunately, Kendall was alone in the house at the moment, since Petra had gone grocery shopping. He made a mental note to put Petra under tonight, and suggest that she go out of town for a week’s well-earned paid vacation. The second “relaxation tape” had to be custom-made, which would take several days of careful work to achieve the desired results, and Petra would worry if he seemed to vanish from the house. She could also take care of his arousal then.
“Hello. This is Ann Stillman,” the answering machine said, and gave the young woman’s address along with the COD request. All the relaxation tapes were drop-shipped COD from a dummy company’s address halfway across the country, even though all of the recipients were local women. Kendall reached into his files and pulled the one marked “Ann Stillman.” All of his subjects were women whom he had met one way or another. He had already tested their level of suggestibility before deciding whether they would receive the first tape. Ann was a short, attractive woman with reddish-brown hair and an average figure. He read his notes carefully, developing an outline for the second tape. Ann was the third non-smoker ever to reach phase two.
Armed with his notes, he opened the secret passage from his study to a basement room that was inaccessible by any other means. It had been one of the “neat” things he had discovered about his house after buying it with his first million. Kendall had had no idea back then that he would actually use the room, which had been used to store liquor during Prohibition. He started up the computer that would generate the images used for induction and got a fresh, custom-made, hi-quality VCR tape from the box.
The setup was fairly simple; the computer’s images, digitally rendered onto the tape would send the person watching it into a trance, if their suggestibility index was high enough. Once a sufficiently deep trance had been achieved, suggestions would play on the audio portion of the tape, enhanced by subliminal messages that were flashed on the screen. However, the key was that there was more than one program on the tape, a fact that was erased from the subject’s conscious mind if they accepted the suggestions to view the second and third programs on the tape. He set the video recording program in motion, a process that would take almost forty hours. The audio script and subliminal overlays would be added after the hypnotic images had been recorded.
Ann Stillman opened the COD box with trembling fingers. Yes! This was it! She took out the video tape, and carelessly tossed the invoice and packing materials away. Her second relaxation tape had arrived, and boy did she need it! The first one didn’t seem to be working as well as it had at first, and the second one promised advanced techniques in self-relaxation. She knew it was a ploy to get you to spend money on more tapes, but there were only five tapes in a whole set. At $9.95 plus COD they were inexpensive enough, and the first one certainly had lowered her stress level. The brochure stressed the need to get the tapes one at a time, since each successive tape built on the previous one. She was going nuts; her current research project required a lot of time, just when she needed to prepare for her master’s thesis defense. Ann had wondered if she had made a mistake when selecting the continuation option; now she knew she had. The relaxation tape had been the only thing that had preserved her sanity.
She eagerly put the tape in, plopped onto the sofa and started it. It seemed to take forever for the dot to appear. There it was! Ann watched it with devotion... and the tape began to speak. “Hello, Ann.” Oh, that was nice. It was personalized! “Welcome to the second relaxation tape. This will teach you advanced techniques in relaxation, and will show you how to use these techniques to stop the world for a few seconds in the middle of a hectic day and allow you to collect yourself. This is self-hypnosis. There is nothing wrong with self-hypnosis. It is a natural state, and happens to many of us every day. Since you have ordered this tape, you are obviously comfortable with the idea of self-hypnosis. Are you ready to begin, Ann?”
Ann replied, “Yes,” to the empty room, and instantly felt stupid about talking to the voice on the tape. However, her embarrassment was short-lived as the tape resumed, “Very good. We may begin with our breathing exercises...” She started breathing, trying to time it with the pulsing of the dot on the screen. This caused her to focus very closely on the dot with fuzzy edges and its rhythmic dimming... and brightening... dimming... and brightening... “Can you feel the rhythm of the dot in your body?” said the tape.
“Yes...” Ann did, but her eyes were still affixed to the dot. Pulsing... dimming... brightening... dimming...
“Think calm thoughts... peaceful... drifting... carefree... as you breathe... Breathe in time with the dot...”
“Peaceful... drifting... breathe... in time... with the dot...” Ann droned, feeling her head spin. A soft buzzing noise filled her head.
“Yes, center on the dot... the dot is at center... bringing you to center... peace... in time with the dot... Concentrate on the voice as you watch the dot... in time with the dot...”
“The dot...peace... watch the dot...” Ann couldn’t look away. She didn’t want to look away. It was so relaxing...
“Listen to the voice... the voice is all you hear... all you see is the dot... in time with the dot... as you listen to the voice... you only hear the voice... repeat... you only hear the voice...” Ann faithfully repeated, “I only... hear... the voice...” Her voice was soft and faraway.
“The voice will take you down to relaxation... You only want to hear the voice... to relax... drifting... peace... only the voice...”
“Voice... relaxation... peace... only the voice...” As the dot flashed, holding Ann’s visual attention, and the voice droned on, the subliminal messages began to play...
Twenty minutes later, the tape was near the end. “Now, Ann... repeat... I only hear the voice of relaxation...”
“I only hear the voice... of relaxation,” the enthralled girl responded.
“I can see the dot... I can make it appear whenever I want... and I will hear the voice of relaxation... and relax until I need to come back...”
“I can make the dot appear... and I will hear the voice of relaxation... I will relax until... I need to come back.” More subliminal messages flashed into her brain, telling her to want to watch the tape, to need to watch the tape to learn more. And that the voice of relaxation would be with her guiding and teaching her more. There was even more relaxation to be found...
The tape ended, and Ann abruptly woke up. Boy did she feel refreshed! And she had learned how to do it to herself without the tape. She visualized the dot to try it. Instantly a voice in her head said, “Relax, Ann. Until you need to come back. Stay with the voice... and keep a count... each time you visualize the dot in your mind, you will increase the count by one, and enter a deeper, more relaxed state.
When you have reached a hundred...”
Ann sat quietly on her sofa, waiting for the relaxation tape to hit the fifty-five minute mark. It had been three weeks since the second relaxation tape had arrived. She was already in the light trance that had been triggered at the hundredth time she had taken a self-hypnotic break. When the tape was set, Ann pressed the “play” button. The dot immediately appeared, and the voice spoke. “The voice of relaxation bids you welcome to the next level, Ann. You will be learning more advanced techniques on handling stress, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of your free time. You would like to enjoy your free time much more fully, wouldn’t you, Ann?”
“Yes...” Her trance was already deepening as she watched the dot pulse.
“The first thing that you have to do is to visualize yourself as a calm, crystal-clear, pure, pool of cold water in the mountains... this is the first centering technique. You will find that the calm of the still water fills your body... The moonlight holds your view... your purity is a reflection of your mind... no thoughts... complete peace... and relaxation... learn from the voice of relaxation...
Ann... let the voice of relaxation carry you... away... only hear the voice of relaxation to relax...” The tape repeated the last phrases beginning with her name, and carefully designed subliminal messages flashed on the screen that told her she would obey the voice of relaxation. “Now Ann, you are ready to spin down to the next level. Study the dot, and as it grows dimmer, you will relax even more... and find that the voice of relaxation will keep you warm and comfortable... You are going deeper into hypnosis as the dot fades...” The dot began to follow the voice’s instructions, and Ann watched, transfixed. “Now you are almost as far as the dot can take you, Ann. Are you ready to go the last little bit? To surrender to the voice of relaxation, and obey?”
“Yes... I am... ready...” The audio track went silent while Ann’s drowsy answer filled the twenty-second gap.
“Then SLEEP,” said the TV. Ann’s eyes slammed shut as the dot vanished and her last bit of resistance melted. She was now completely under. “Does it feel good to sleep, as the voice of relaxation has commanded?” The young woman nodded, her voice trapped by the trance. “You will obey the voice of relaxation, Ann, do you understand? Such relaxation... when you obey the voice of relaxation. REPEAT. Obey the voice of relaxation. I will obey the voice of relaxation. I must obey the voice of relaxation...” Ann’s voice softly began to chant in time with the tape. A black-and-white spiral filled the screen. “You may open your eyes and gaze into the spinning spiral... It will draw you even deeper into relaxation, Ann.”
Her eyes opened, automatically tracking the motion of the spiral. “Spinning deeper into relaxation... obey the voice... it feels so good to relax... and obey the voice...” Inside the spiral, the subliminal messages changed. Instead of drawing Ann into hypnotic thrall and reinforcing her triggers, the messages began to talk about smoking. How smoking was sexy. How attractive she would be... How desirable... smoking... “Obey the voice...”
“I will obey the voice,” Ann said, completely under the spell of Kendall’s program. The smoking messages were written into her extremely receptive mind. Smoking would make me more attractive... learn to smoke... obey the voice... learn to smoke... watch the video... must obey the voice... smoke... obey... smoke...
“Yes, Ann, you find that you will want to learn to smoke seductively... always relaxed... sexy... a relaxation ritual... The voice of relaxation commands that you learn the ritual, and you will obey. Do you understand?”
“I... understand.” Her eyes were wide, unblinking, as the subliminal messages continued to reprogram her.
“The relaxation ritual will leave you feeling better than you ever have before... You want to obey the voice and feel better... You must obey the voice... You will learn the relaxation ritual. You must obey. The relaxation ritual requires cigarettes that say 120 on the box. You will obey. Long cigarettes are relaxing... attractive... sexy. The voice of relaxation commands that you begin with Carlton 120’s. You want to be relaxed... You want to learn the relaxation ritual... and you want to obey... You must obey the voice of relaxation, Ann. The voice commands you, and you will obey. It feels so relaxing, so good to obey the voice.”
“Voice... commands... I will... o-bey.” She sighed happily. The subliminal messages played on, hidden in the spiral, filling Ann with images of how she would appear when she performed the relaxation ritual... Ritual... Must obey the voice... relax... perform the ritual... Carlton... 120’s... must obey... Carlton 120’s... ritual... Long... relaxation... cigarettes... relaxation... obey...
Three days later, Ann Stillman was deeply entranced, again watching the last ten minutes of the second program on “Relaxation Tape #2”. There was an unopened pack of Carlton 120’s and a lighter sitting next to her on the table. The tape had been designed to wear down any resistance that Ann would have to the idea of smoking, while instilling a desire to become a smoker. Kendall had found that linking the self-perception of attractiveness with smoking was a very easy way to override almost any female non-smoker’s reluctance. There were very few women who believed that they were attractive enough. Each time Ann viewed the second program on the tape, the subliminal messages reinforced Kendall’s vision of smoking. She had watched it five times in the last three days, partially due to the tape’s influence, but mostly because her life was driving her crazy. After leaving school that afternoon, she went to a drugstore and bought a pack of Carlton 120’s regular, feeling nothing particularly unusual about having bought them. Kendall had picked that brand to start non-smokers off with, since they were mostly air. The first program on tape three was where the women would be allowed to experiment and select their own brand of 120’s.
“I will... obey... the voice of relaxation,” Ann quietly said, her voice slurred. “I must obey...”
Kendall’s voice spoke to her from the television. “If you have the long cigarettes, a lighter, and an ashtray next to you, you will be prepared to learn the relaxation ritual. If you do not, you will close your eyes and go into a deep, deep, relaxing sleep. You will awake at the count of ten, feeling fully, completely refreshed. Then you will rewind the tape, the relaxation tape which makes you feel so good... so relaxed. The tape is blank for the first fifty-five minutes... The next time you watch the tape, you will start it at the fifty-five minute mark. You must obey, Ann. You will obey, Ann. If you are not prepared for the relaxation ritual, you will SLEEP!”
After a few seconds, the tape began to count to ten. This was a segment of the tape that Ann had never seen; she had always been in a deep hypnotic sleep.
“Ten...” said the voice, and the screen played subliminal messages for ninety seconds. “Ann, fast forward the tape to the one hour, fifty-minute mark and play it from there. The voice of relaxation will teach you the relaxation ritual... You must obey the voice of relaxation... it feels so good, so relaxing to obey the voice...”
“Yes... I am ready... I must obey... the relaxation ritual... I must learn... the relaxation ritual... Feels... good... to... obeyyyy...” She followed the instructions, turning the tape to “play” at the specified time. The black and white spiral reappeared.
“Gaze into the spiral once again, Ann... go deeper into relaxation... down into relaxation... follow the spiral... and the voice... you must obey the voice.... follow the spiral... You can feel your mind becoming blank, at ease, at center... When you are at center, you are ready to learn from the voice of relaxation... This tape is blank for the first one hour and fifty minutes. It is a blank, as is your mind... Do you understand? Each time you use this tape, you must start it at the one hour, fifty-minute mark. You will obey.”
“One... hour... fifty minutes,” she slurred. “I will... obey.”
“Remove a cigarette from the pack, Ann. The relaxation ritual begins with removing a cigarette from the pack. Do you understand? The voice commands you...”
“And... I obey... the... voice,” Ann finished, sighing happily while opening the cellophane outer wrap. The subliminal messages hidden in the spiral told Ann to move in a relaxed fashion... there was no need to hurry... as she relaxed, she became more attractive... more alluring... and the voice would take her to complete relaxation with the ritual... She would obey the voice...
“During the following exercises for the relaxation ritual, you will act when you hear the voice command you to ‘obey.’ You will only act when you hear the voice of relaxation command you to ‘obey’ until the practice for the relaxation ritual is ended. Do you understand?” “Yes... I understand.” Her eyes reflected the spiral; Ann’s conscious self had been completely overpowered by the images on her screen.
The tape spoke again. “When you relax in the ritual, you will always hold the cigarette with the insides of your index and middle fingers. You will never pinch it between your thumb and forefinger. The voice of relaxation commands that you bring the cigarette to your lips now, Ann. Obey.” The young woman mindlessly brought the unlit cylinder to her lips. “You will only clench the cigarette in your teeth if you need both hands for something else, do you understand? The ritual is elegant... ladylike... attractive... relaxing...”
Ann slowly removed the cigarette from her mouth, still unlit.
“Elegant... attractive... I... understand...”
“Every movement with the cigarette is relaxed, graceful, flowing... so relaxed... You will obey.” For the next ten minutes, Ann practiced removing a cigarette from the pack, and how to handle and hold it. Her eyes were locked onto the spinning spiral on the screen, while the voice and the subliminal messages worked their way deep into her brain. She was elegant, graceful, relaxed, and so incredibly attractive... And the voice was teaching her... she would happily obey the voice. Ann had pulled five cigarettes from the pack in her entranced “practice.” Now it was time for the next step.
“You will watch the spiral closely... allow it to relax you even more... as the voice draws you into the spinning, spinning wheel... spinning down, spinning into obedience... you will obey... you hear only the voice of relaxation... you will obey... you will feel so relaxed... when you obey... the voice...” Aided by the subliminal messages, Kendall’s tape sent Ann into a very deep state of hypnosis: she would only perceive what she was told to at this level. “Remove a cigarette, and place it in your mouth. Obey. Now take the lighter, and bring the flame near the end of the cigarette. Obey.”
The word “obey” jumped out at Ann in large, flashing neon letters each time she heard it. She immediately, eagerly complied with each command. “Suck gently to light the cigarette. When you feel that your mouth is full of smoke, you will remove the cigarette, and push the smoke out through a narrowed opening. Obey.” Ann did, producing a cloud of smoke in a hurry. “Very good, Ann. Relax. Deeper into the spinning spiral... Obey.” She sighed happily at the praise, focusing on the spinning wheel. I must obey... I will obey... become... elegant... sexy...
The tape made her repeat the action, rewarding her with the command of relaxation. “Now, Ann, it is time to learn how to control the smoke... you wish to control the smoke so that as it drifts, you watch it and relax... Do you understand?”
“Draw gently on the cigarette, until you feel that you have as much smoke in your mouth as you can comfortably hold. You will hold it for a while, then push it out slowly... Always relaxed... elegant... seductive... Obey.” Ann followed the instructions perfectly. “At the word, ‘Obey,’ you will stop the tape, and repeat this exercise for the relaxation ritual until the cigarette has burned down near the filter. You will then extinguish it in a relaxed, ladylike fashion, then turn the tape back on.... Always relaxed... The ritual... OBEY.” She clicked the tape player off and finished her first-ever cigarette without inhaling. Then Ann picked up the remote control to start it again, too far under the spell of Kendall’s hypnotic method to even realize what she was doing.
The tape was silent and the screen truly blank for several seconds. Suddenly, it came back to life. “Very good, Ann. Relax, my dear. SLEEP.” Her head pitched forward, and her eyes were locked shut. “Listen carefully to the voice, Ann. It will teach you more of the ritual... each time you do the ritual, it is to relax, and you will not notice anything that may be different about your surroundings. Your body will feel refreshed, and when you awaken from the ritual, you will be completely alert, with no memory of the ritual. Do you understand, Ann?” She replied affirmatively, in a soft hum. “Once again, you will act only when you hear the voice say the word “obey.” You may open your eyes, and let the spiral draw you into relaxation and obedience... Obey.” Ann lifted her head and stared into the spinning spiral... relaxing her... spinning... down... to obedience... relaxing... so good...
“Now you are going to learn the final stage of the relaxation ritual, Ann.” She had an instant sense of intense anticipation. The subliminal messages had left her hungry to reach this point. They continued to reprogram her open, extremely receptive mind, playing messages of how attractive and seductive she would be if she smoked. “You will feel a strange sensation in your body; it is not uncomfortable, it is merely different. Your body will need to get used to the relaxation ritual. Do you understand? Repeat. What I feel is not uncomfortable, merely different. My body needs to get used to the relaxation ritual. I need to do the relaxation ritual. You will repeat in time with the voice of relaxation, as you spin with the spiral. Obey. What I feel...” Ann spoke slowly, in perfect synchronization with Kendall’s voice, repeating the phrase ten times. “And you feel more relaxed than ever now, Ann. Obey. It feels good to obey the voice.”
“Ye-e-esss,” she sighed in a half-moan of pleasure. “Feels... So... good... to... o-beyyy....”
“The voice commands you to light a cigarette. This begins the relaxation ritual, Ann. Obey.” She did, pulling a cigarette out of the pack and bringing it to her lips. She held it near the filter, between her index and middle fingers, drawing smoke into her mouth, briefly holding it there before pushing it out. “Good, Ann. Relax. Obey.” She smiled, feeling warm and happy, so relaxed... “Now, repeat the action, but this time, you will swallow the smoke, and just let it flow through your nose and mouth. Obey.” When she swallowed the smoke, her body objected to the small amount she had inhaled, but it only registered on her mind as a different sensation. “Excellent, Ann. Relax. Obey.” There was a short pause in the soundtrack. “At the word ‘Obey,’ you will stop the tape, and repeat this exercise for the relaxation ritual, feeling more relaxed with each repetition until the cigarette has burned down near the filter. You will then extinguish it in a relaxed, ladylike fashion, then turn the tape back on.... Always relaxed... The ritual... OBEY.”
The identical phrasing of this second command served to reinforce her hypnotic submission. As earlier, Ann turned the tape off and finished her second cigarette, inhaling slightly with each puff. A beatific smile was on her face as she gingerly stubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray. So seductive... so attractive... so relaxing... the ritual... Ann turned the tape back on, and the ubiquitous spiral regained what was left of her conscious attention, slowing her... few thoughts... relax... obey the voice... must obey... obey...
“And now, Ann, it is time for the next lesson in the relaxation ritual. As before, your body must get used to the ritual. It is a different sensation, not an unpleasant one. Do you understand?”
“Light another cigarette, swallowing the smoke as you do so. Obey.” Ann’s actions were smooth, and the non-smoker handled the act of getting the cigarette lit with the practiced ease of a regular smoker. “When you take your next puff, you will breathe in after the smoke has partially filled your mouth. Your body will register the different sensation very strongly, but it will not feel unpleasant. Merely different. Obey.” She coughed with her first true inhale. To her mind, it was a strange feeling, but not one that was offensive. “Excellent, Ann. Enjoy complete relaxation. Obey,” said the hypnotic voice, and she felt such a wonderful rush of warmth and peace that the earlier sensation was instantly forgotten. “At the word ‘Obey,’ you will stop the tape, and repeat this exercise for the relaxation ritual , feeling more relaxed with each repetition until the cigarette has burned down near the filter. You will then extinguish it in a relaxed, ladylike fashion, then turn the tape back on.... Always relaxed... The ritual... OBEY.”
After Ann had finished her third cigarette, she turned the tape on. “You have now completed the exercises for the relaxation ritual. You will eventually be able to perform the relaxation ritual without the tape. You will enjoy performing the ritual, and all that occurs during the relaxation ritual will be a blank. You will only feel wonderfully refreshed. After the tape has ended, you will put away all of the materials for the ritual, and they will become invisible and forgotten until the next time you practice the exercises. Do you understand, Ann?” The tape went silent while she acknowledged the instruction.
“You will continue to practice the exercises at least once a day with the tape. You will obey. When you no longer feel the different sensation, you will call 1-800-RELAX NOW, and order the third tape. You will obey. You will only be able to perform the relaxation ritual with long cigarettes. They must say 120 somewhere on the pack. You will obey. Repeat. The voice of relaxation commands me...”
“The voice... of relaxation... commands me,” Ann slowly repeated, eyes wide, all conscious thought erased by the constant hypnotic onslaught. She spoke in a slightly delayed tandem with Kendall’s deep voice, “I will obey the voice of relaxation... I must practice the relaxation ritual... I will obey the voice of relaxation... I must use long cigarettes... I obey the voice of relaxation... only long cigarettes... I obey the voice...”
“Excellent, Ann. When the voice of relaxation commands, you will enter a very deep, very relaxing sleep. Your only awareness will be of the video tape player. When it shuts off, you will perform your last part of the exercise, then rewind the tape. When you touch the rewind button, you will wake up feeling more refreshed and calmer than you have ever been. You will forget the ritual until you hear the voice again. You must watch the tape every day. You must obey the voice of relaxation... obey... obey... obey... SLEEP!”
Ann’s eyes opened when the tape automatically shut off. She carefully put the cigarettes and lighter away, then emptied the ashtray. She hit the rewind button, and suddenly marveled at how good she felt. Maybe I can get some work done late at the lab... It was going to be a long night, but it had all been made possible by the relaxation tape. She could hardly wait until she was ready for the third one.