Aphelion Issue 233, Volume 22
October 2018
 
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Mind Control 3

by Alvin Atwater





Continued a week after Story Two...


Tired, so very tired. I yawned as I stepped out of the school building. That study was horribly boring and it lasted so long. I didn't want to attend but sadly, teachers are the voices of tyranny and can force one to do whatever pleased them, so I had to teach several losers--I mean struggling students--some math and sciences. My day was basically robbed from me, absolutely free.

I passed a few blocks of a busy street before stopping to gaze at a large shining billboard. You know, one of those boards filled with flashy electronic lights and hypnotic messages that tricked poor saps into wasting money on their useless products. Well the billboard I stared at was flashy but the message it displayed read, "your uncle."

Coincidence? I think not. I frantically dug into my pockets until realizing I forgot my cell phone today. If Uncle was home, he'd be angry because I didn't say anything about a late evening study party. Goodbye allowance, it was nice knowing you! My current cash would not hold me over long enough for my summer job to kick in.

Just then, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I spun but saw nothing.

"What." I yawned. "Must be exhaustion." I pushed forward, weary of this eight o clock air, eager to settle down, and watch some Unsolved Mysteries. Then, I felt another tap on my shoulder but still, saw no one. That was definitely a human finger that tapped me not once but twice... I couldn't be going crazy. Or haunted. Right? Someone laughed. I looked around but not a soul could be found except the few people that strolled yards away on the other side of the street. Or the people that drove by, some smirking at me, flipping birds, you know the usual douche bag things. No one existed on my side of the street.

I sprinted for home but then the phenomenon got worse. I felt pokes from the back of my neck to my arms and legs. I stopped, sweat dripping from my hair, eyes darting left to right in a paranoid rage, something grabbed my butt.

"What the hell!?" I snarled as I sprinted for a bus stop ahead. I could see the bus from afar, heading in this direction. Home free, so, home free. That's what I thought but someone or something hugged me from behind. I froze, freaked, so, so freaked, afraid to turn around, silently cursing my teachers.

Oddly enough, whatever it was felt warm and soft. I did not want to turn around. It may be time to start believing in ghosts. This thing was after me and I just stood. Then laughter. Oddly familiar laughter.

"This was the greatest laugh ever."

That voice. I turned around but no one was there.

"I think I'll need a trip to the asylum," I said softly.

The familiar laughter returned again in response to my comment. I leapt backward, falling on my butt, scared stiff, debating if I was sane, dreaming, or none of the above. Then as if she blinked into existence, Gemini appeared in front of me, a grin on her face. I silently debated how to react to this and came up flat. I took a deep breath and let it out. "Gemini, answer me honestly. Do you think I'm going insane? Have I shown any signs of mental instability?"

She laughed hard, kneeling down, and throwing herself on me. "What in blazes-hell are you laughing about? I'm being serious here." Her laughter retracted to a snicker but I could tell she strained to keep it under control.

"Matt, you're not insane," Gemini said as she reached into her pocket and pulled out something. "See." She revealed a black diamond ring. I didn't like where this was going. I'm not talking about a proposal. No, this is Gemini. A weird object in her hands could only lead down to one path.

"Gemini... what's that?" I said, silently praying but knew inevitably where this headed.

"An invisibility ring," she said, grinning.

"You mean..."

"Yep, the taps, the hug, pokes--all that good stuff were all from me."

I gave her a death glare. She grinned in response.

"Scaring the living crap out of me aside, let me guess, you stole that from the mystery club."

"You know, stole is a stronnngggg word."

"Of course the magic trick is real, so I can sadly assume this another Iyan object, right?"

"You're on a roll!"

I face palmed. "Adding to that roll, you want me to help out with its investigation."

Gemini nodded.

"What if I said, no?"

"No is not an option," Gemini said.

"The hell it isn't--did I not declare that I wanted nothing more to do with the Iyans?"

"I'm part Iyan. Are you saying you want nothing more to do with me?"

"Oh don't pull that card--it's not--"

"You're doing the research with me," she interrupted.

"No."

"Yes."

"No."

"Yes."

"No way."

"Yes and that's final! If you don't, I'll prank you like this until you submit."

I sighed, defeated. Knowing Gemini, she'd probably take the invisibility prank as far as she could--nailing me in my own room, shower--every walk. I'd live the rest of my life paranoid!

"Glad you understand," she said. "We'll talk more about it during the club meeting tomorrow."

We both stood up. "Whatever," I said. "Who's finding these things anyway?"

"That is a good question," Gemini said. "Every now and then, someone's delivering objects to either the mystery club or the archaeology club. He or she's hitting every lucky spot at that burial site."

I yawned, exhausted. "I'm heading home. Catch you later."

"Not so fast, I'm staying over."

I blinked twice. "Why?"

"You should be used to my random company by now. Besides, you never stay over."

"That...that's not important," I said, recalling the last time I spent the night at Gemini's place. The only normal people in her family... I forced the thought out of my head. That's something no one needs to know or remember. "Never mind, let's go. We're only a couple of blocks away."

She smiled. "So how's your uncle doing?"

I sped up my walk, forcing myself not to deliver her another death glare.

"Let's just hope he's not home."

I don't know if Lady Luck decided to smile on me this once--maybe out of pity--but Uncle was not home.

"Oh thank God," I whispered. "Saved!"

"Aw, I kind of want to see him yell at you for old time's sake."

I gave her a blank stare. "Really? What are you, some kind of sadist?"

Gemini laughed. "If you want, I can be."

"No thanks," I said as I walked to my room. I could hear the sound of the living room's TV turning on and proceeded to talking off my shoes. My first shoe suddenly lurched into the air, spun three times, and landed back in the position I tossed it.

"Gemini," I said as I removed my hand from my chest. You know, if I had a heart attack at that moment and died, I'd probably be a happy man. It's a tricky situation because there is way to tell if I would either get one win on Gemini by scarring her for life or lose due to death.

She blinked into visibility again, smirk on her face. "I can never grow tired of this."

"No, please do," I said. "If you want my help with the research, then stop haunting me."

"Fine, fine," she said as she sat the ring on my dresser. "You're such a stick in the mud."

"Says the gem-obsessed girl," I said as I laid back. "I'm tired from teaching the test failures."

"Yeah, I was there."

Moment of silence. Maybe awkward silence. "Gemini, I think you should rejoin the track team. You really seem to have nothing better to do."

"No way," she said with a laugh. "What will the club do without me, its most dedicated member. You'll just fall apart."

"I can think of a lot of things," I said. "You may be the top student in school, possibly guaranteed a set future for life, but really let yourself go in the hobbies department."

"You're sugarcoating your dislike of the Iyans," Gemini said.

"A mad bunch... somehow able to defy every law of science and create mind-controlling gemstones. It's witchcraft, I tell you." I sat up. "But at least they're gone, right?"

Gemini grinned. "I'll take that as a no."

"Let's see, there's Demand, Love, Kindness, and Hate," she began. "We know those copies could be anywhere."

"How many copies do you think the Iyans made?"

"Who knows? The gems weren't exactly a walk in the park to make. There may not be anymore, but that's not even the scary part."

"What do you mean scary part?" I asked.

"Well, this is nothing more than a rumor. It can be found on a few reference books about Iyan culture. There were four illegal gems created without the permission of the leaders. Seduction, Evil, Hero, and the supposedly the worst, Colorless."

"There are more of them?" I said. "Seriously?"

"Probably not," Gemini said. "This rumor remains unconfirmed till this day and no evidence can be found of their existence--which sucks!"

"No, that does not suck," I said with a chuckle. "I don't even want to go into what Seduction could do. I think it's not much of a difference from the red. Evil, Hero, and Colorless are probably the problems, but if no evidence can be found, they probably exploded together."

"Such a waste."

"So the gem girl says," I laughed. "I'm going to bed."

"Bottom half of the bed?" Gemini asked.

"So I can get kicked in the face? Nope."

After showering, (Stole Gemini's ring so she couldn't startle what's left of my soul. Good thing she showered first.) I pulled the trusty unused air mattress out of Uncle's closet and took it to my room. Gemini was vulnerably slouched on my bed, reading my copies of the basketball team mystery notes I invested in for weeks.

"At least read with some decency," I said as sat the air mat near the bed.

"Why? Are you staring?" Her blue eyes seemed to pierce right through me. I didn't exactly stare at her but my eyes are male and it was hard to focus on other things.

"No," I said as I turned plugged in the air mat's built-in inflator. The loud noise bought me two minutes.

Gemini rolled from my bed and landed on my air mat after it inflated.

"Is that a trade?" I said, grinning evilly. She grabbed my leg before I could move.

"Sit with me. I want you to tell me about this basketball team mystery. You seemed worked up about it the other day with Kate."

I sat down. "I--" Gemini moved so close to me that I swear I felt her minty breath. I gave her a blank stare. "Could you not push this story into the wrong genre?"

"What?"

"Never mind," I said. "You've heard of the story right. After the first spring home game, the entire team suddenly made separate claims of seeing ghosts or having vivid hallucinations. All of it was tied to some event that happened during the night of their victory party and--"

Gemini placed her hand on my leg. "What are you doing?"

"I'm just kidding," she laughed as she snatched it away.

"Do you even care about the mystery?" I said.

"Do you care about me?" Gemini said.

"Don't change the--"

"Well?" Gemini's sad face slowly manifested. Freaking guilt banged at the doors of my barrier. There was no room to leave this unanswered.

"Gemini, we've known each other since we were kids," I said, calming my racing heart to a manageable pace. "I'll let you answer that." When answers can't come to mind, leave it vague, I say.

"Matt, remember that day back at the mall?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"Let's kiss again."

Just then, my cell phone rang. I leapt from the bed and answered it, as if my life was at stake.

"Yes?"

"It's Kate. I have a case for your team tomorrow."

"I don't have exactly a team--"

"You, Gemini, Brandon, and Rachael. The archaeology club found a blue gemstone and a yellow gemstone at a new Iyan site." My blood shot cold like the depths of Antarctica. "Listen to me well, Matt. Please don't lose these! You and Gemini lost too many valuable items. I know your reports were excellent but I want to send the objects back to the archaeology club so that we can get them to a museum."

"If you're that concerned, get another team on it."

"Not happening. You two are the gem experts."

"Ka--"

She hung up, leaving me freezing of cold blood, a little of depression, and no motivation. The blue gem was back and I danced in its line of sight. I turned around and Gemini grinned right in my face. She heard everything.

I recalled my fears of the blue gem, every waking moment that Gemini had it, and the embarrassing things she made me do. Especially the public marriage proposal. I became the laughing stock of the entire school.

"No," I said. She kissed my cheek, smile still on her face, excitement engulfing her like a tidal wave or never-ending surge of traffic. "Gemini, no."

She stretched her arms out and yawned, humoring my trauma in the most cliché way possible.

"It's about time to hit the hay," she said.

"Gemini," I said softly. "You're not getting a hold of it."

Still grinning, evil at that, she said, "Matt, Demand is my favorite. I'll do whatever it takes to grasp it again. You'd better be faster than me out of your class tomorrow. I may start with demanding your true feelings. Then after that, something fun, something very fun." She turned and closed her eyes.

"So threatens the gem-obsessed girl," I said as pulled extra blankets out of my closet. "Even if you get it, I won't let you lure me into its range circle."

I waited about an hour, sure Gemini was asleep, and turned on my cell phone. I opened up the web browser, then Google, and did a little research on the four Iyan gems. At first, each page I viewed lead me to the same crap that I already knew. Persistent, I skipped over to the fifth Google search page and on link three, hit something interesting. It wasn't exactly what I hoped to find but still interesting.

Demand is the gem Iyan leaders used to take full control of their targets however it is limited to one task at a time.

Love forces extreme feelings of love or desires onto targets. Iyans held a mating ceremony during the seasons of spring and summer, activated the gem, forcing the two chosen to desire children.

I shook my head in disgust of the Iyan tribe dictators and continued reading.

Kindness forces extreme feelings of naiveté, gentleness, or compassion upon a target. Iyans often force enough to turn said target into an obedient slave. The stone is able to cancel out the effects of hate.

Hate, Iyans used this gem to create warriors. The hatred in which the stone delivered always created a desire to kill. Iyan leaders took the hate to another step and generated assassins too.

Non-Iyan people can only get the gem effects to last at a maximum of one hour. Those with Iyan blood can prolong the effects up to a day, sometimes even longer.

Just then, the sound of shuffling on my bed made me spin. Fortunately, gem girl was still asleep, just kicking. I sighed in relief and decided to call it a night.


* * *

After breakfast the next morning, I caught the city bus to school instead of walking. Gemini had already left ahead of me with the stupid invisibility ring.

During first period, she seemed especially cheerful. She raised her hand and correctly answered every question the teacher asked, putting shame to the rest of us non-top students. When the teacher turned around, I felt a paper ball smack against the side of my head. Anger rushed within me but before I could flip-out, I noticed Gemini gesturing for me to open it.

The first thing I saw was a poorly-drawn picture of a girl sticking her tongue out at me. Underneath that was a message that read, "Are you still mad at me?"

I mentally translated that message as the meme, "Are you mad, bro?" Almost ripped the paper to shreds. Instead, I replied, "Mad at what?"

Too bad she never got that message. Chelsea stood up at the worst time and pop! The smack at her face created the grimace.

I swiftly turned. Just because I hit her in the face with a paper ball does not mean I should take the blame for it.

"Who did this!?" she snarled, interrupting the teacher.

Everyone snickered but no one ratted me out. I simply blended a laugh with the rest of the class. "I don't find this funny!"

"Sit down!" the teacher yelled. "I don't find interrupting my class funny either."

I kept this record in my head: one Matt, zero Chelsea.


* * *

When all classes ended that afternoon, I headed to the club at normal pace. Gemini's last class was closer to the room than mine, making it pointless to run. When I entered, Kate waved me over to a table surrounded by Brandon, Gemini, and Rachael. To my relief, she had the gems in her hands. Demand wasn't in Gemini's grasps! Woo!

I noticed the nervous stare in Brandon's eyes. He knew our life somewhat depended on who got hold of the gems.

"I'm holding all of you responsible for the safekeeping of them," Kate said.

"I don't know," Rachael said. "After what happened the other day... I think they seem kind of dangerous."

"I can explain why, later," Gemini said to her. Uh oh, I immediately knew she made the first dibs on the gems.

"Actually, let's give Brandon a shot at teaching," I interjected.

"I--I'd rather take the ring assignment," he said to my surprise. I shot him a surprised glare. "You guys can handle the Iyan objects. They're not my strong point."

"Really now." Kate's evil grin finally emerged. "It's settled. 'You gon' learn today'--that's the old saying right? Brandon, you're taking one of them gems."

"I can take the other," Gemini said. "Both if you like--there isn't a single report that I created that didn't exceed the expectations of the archaeology club or our teachers."

"You do have a point," Kate said. "You're like the best of the best when it comes to Iyan objects, especially when you're working with Matt."

"No," I said. I had to think quickly... Working with Gemini is a nightmare. She'd make me a test puppet in no time. Her threat last night didn't sit well on my stomach.

"No?" I thought Kate would be the one to ask but that came from Gemini and in a sad tone. "Do you have a problem working with me?"

The entire club jerked their heads in this direction as if they had another better to listen to.

I grinned at the face of evil. "I thought you'd never--"

Just then, the door swung open. Chelsea walked in, carrying a bag, and whispered something to Kate.

"Okay," Kate responded. "Sure, go ahead."

"Thanks for having me," Chelsea said to the club. "I'm a representative of the archaeology club. Our president sent me to shadow your star officers. The reports were really good, not just from them, but all of you. Your star officers went beyond the par and demonstrated the most impossible phenomena, so now I'm here not only as a witness but a recorder for the Iyan documentary to be released later this year. Do expect a great increase in club funding and awards." She turned to our group. "Looking forward to working with you."

Everyone but me clapped. First of all, Chelsea's apart of the archaeology club? What rock did I just crawl from under? Second, I disliked her, a lot. You mean to tell me I have to deal with that stuck-up attitude everyday now? This sucked! Gemini's already a handful.

I turned around. She glared at me.

"What?" I said.

"Oh nothing. Just can't wait till I get my hands on Demand."

"Isn't the ring enough?"

"Who you think I am?" Gemini said. "Working on them both is child's play. I handle the tests, you take the notes like always."

"Yeah that's great and all until you start using me as a test dummy."

She giggled. I was relieved to see the glare gone. Could you imagine if the blue gem got into the hands of an angry woman? Yeah, I agree with you. Total catastrophe.

Chelsea and Kate joined us at the table. Kate still held the gems to my relief but I knew the inventible approached; someone was going home with Demand.

Chelsea and I eye made brief eye contact, blank stares if I must say. The silent messages we gave each other were too brutal for me to record but imagine within that two second timeframe war music.

"So, can you demonstrate the ring, Gemini?" Chelsea asked. "I've heard about its ability."

"Sure." Gemini pulled ring from her pocket.

"Not bad Matt, for a proposal ring," Chelsea said. She grasped a camera from her bag.

"You know, I think that paper ball you took to the face this morning damaged your brain more than it already is."

"Excuse me?" Chelsea bellowed, her face reddened with anger.

"Enough, love birds!" Kate said. "On with the demonstration."

Chelsea, muttered some things under her breath. Two Matt, zero Chelsea. Gemini placed the ring on her finger. The second she blinked into invisibility, gasps, awes, whispering, and other sounds that voiced human curiosity took over the room.

I felt a sensation on my lips before she blinked back into visible mode, in her original spot. I tried my hardest not to react. Nobody should be staring at my face to notice the blush.

"Matt, why are you so red?" Rachael said.

"What are you talking about?" I said.

"You're like a tomato all of a sudden."

"Let's stay relevant please."

"That is like so amazing," Chelsea said. "Want to demonstrate the gems?"

The entire club grew silent. "What?"

"I can demonstrate the blue gem, named Demand by the Iyan leaders," Gemini said.

"No demonstration is needed," Brandon quickly said. "Remember when she used it to make Matt propose to her in front of everyone."

Chelsea laughed. "Oh yeah. That was the day."

"I was absent that day," Rachael said. "But that seems like a pretty mean thing to do."

"I thought it was cute," Chelsea said.

"Those two are always fun to watch," Kate said. "Until they lose my material."

I sighed. "You're welcome to take my place as her torture dummy at any time."

Everyone around, including Gemini, laughed. They all thought I joked...

"So back to the matter at hand. Who's researching what?" I said.

"Let's give Rachael Demand," Chelsea suggested.

"She's too new," I said, dreading Rachael's chances of becoming a second Gemini. "I'll take it."

Silence again. "What now?"

"Well, it's kind of surprising that you're offering to take this gem," Kate said. I began to feel her evil aura... Dear God, help us all.

"I just want these things documented and out of our hands to the museum, where they belong," I said.

"Then there's only one person that could partner up with you and deliver highest quality results. She isn't the top student and your future wife for nothing." Kate grinned.

"You're kidding, right?"

"Brandon and Rachael, you two will take the blue. Gemini and Matt, you both will give us a full report on the yellow and the ring."

"I object to this setup," Rachael said. "I'll never learn if the two stars are sent off into their own world."

"Objection denied," Kate said as she sat both the gems on the table. "We don't have much information on the yellow. Chelsea's on a time restraint, so we need her to record as much as she can before she returns her club."

"Brandon, you take charge of Demand," I said with club officer authority in my voice. "Show Rachael the ropes, but remember she is new. Do not put her in danger. These stones may be identical to the original but they're still copies. Who knows how unstable they are?"

"Gemini," Rachael said nonchalantly. I shot her a glare that said, "Silence, you fool!"

"Well, now that that's over, I'm going to head home," I said as I stood, grabbing Kindness. With Demand in Brandon's hand there only remained relief.

"Good, we'll start the assignment at your house," Gemini said with glee.

My eyes widened. Uncle excuses wouldn't work on her--our families have known each other far too long. Crap! Gym? No, as if that would work. Thanks to my family's genes, PE's provided workouts kept me in shape. Errands? That also is gamble since Gemini stayed over last night. Wait.

"Maybe later in the week," I said. "I still have tutoring to do."

"I thought that was once a week," Rachael said, shattering my awesome excuse. "You told us yourself--"

My blood froze as I remembered an important detail. "I don't remember saying anything about times."

"That's what the teacher forced," she continued. "Come on, I know you're tired but at least try to remember the faces of your own class."

"Well now that that matter's over," Kate partially repeated me with mix of evil, "let's get to it. I expect great things from you."

"I'm going too."

My eyes bolted on Chelsea. "You're not coming to my house."

"Yes, I am"

"No," I said.

"Yes."

"No."

"I'm there as both a witness and a documenter."

"Kate," I started but she already deserted us for another group. "You've got to be kidding me."

"I know you want to make out with your girlfriend but this takes priority," Chelsea blabbed.

"Just shut up and follow me," I said and headed toward the exit.

"Hey Matt."

I turned around and froze, horrified. Brandon and Rachael were stuck in an obvious diversion set up by Kate, explaining something nonstop, distracting the two. Gemini, Demand in her hand, pointed at me, and grinned.

"Nope!" I sprinted out of there. Who cared if Gemini was once the shining star of the track team? I planned to outrun her today.

I turned around and saw her chasing, laughing, and shortening the distance between us. If I slipped into that range circle--and Demand's range circle wasn't that small--that's it! My freewill, my body, my self-control--all of it will vanish.

I recalled the first time Gemini used Demand on me. It wasn't the marriage proposal--that only consisted of embarrassment. In her backyard, she made me punch myself in the face. Get my rift? Understand why I hate Demand?

I saw the city bus ahead and almost increased my sprint but stopped when someone tapped on my shoulder. I thought I was a goner but Gemini stood yards away. Chelsea blinked into visibility, holding Demand, smiling.

I couldn't let them win. I thought back to my research last night.

Kindness forces extreme feelings of naiveté, gentleness, or compassion upon a target. Iyans often force enough to turn said target into an obedient slave.

THEN A BRILLIANT IDEA DAWNED UPON ME LIKE THE SWEET RELIEF OF THE MORNING SUN AFTER A NIGHT OF A FIGHTING OFF DEMONS AND ZOMBIES.

I tapped my gem before she could do anything and induced her with Kindness' Iyan magic. I laughed when I saw Gemini face palm. Gemini face palmed! Gold!

"Chelsea, hand me your gem," I commanded.

"Sure thing, Matt," she said, her green eyes gleaming with false benevolence. "I'm sorry we tricked you like that."

I petted her, grin on my face. Even when the effects wear off, she'd never forget this.

"It's okay, my servant," I said, while doing my best not to laugh. "Make sure your friend, Gemini, gets home safely, okay? Do everything in your power to make sure that happens."

"Yes, I will."

I darted for the city bus as Gemini pointlessly struggled to convince Chelsea to let her off the hook.

I waved out the window at the both of them as the bus took off, smile on my face. Three Matt, zero Chelsea.


* * *

An ending where I actually won! Come on, give me a round of applause. Yes, of course, I know it's not over. The gems in my hand didn't blow up yet. We're not devising an excuse to our club president, Kate.

Kindness' effects will probably wear off in an hour. They'd come for me. I'll be ready.


THE END


© 2015 Alvin Atwater

Bio: Congrats, you can no longer look away. Deep within, you suddenly crave the voice of Alvin Atwater, a man born in Florida and currently serves in the Navy.

E-mail: Alvin Atwater

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