Hoovering

[NOTE: please read the second and third paragraphs from this post before continuing. Important–don’t skip reading them!]

Because of traumatic bonding, we survivors of emotional abuse may find it tempting to believe our abusers when they say they want ‘to connect’ with us again, or to be ‘reconciled’ with us. Nobody wants to lose friends; we all hate to see close relationships disintegrate.

But since the pain outweighs the good we received (or thought we received), we must protect ourselves from any new pain our abusers are planning to inflict on us. At the same time, their manner of communicating with us seems so kind, so patient, so loving.

Have they changed? Have they finally learned from all the mistakes they made in the past? We’d like to think so…oh, how we’d like to think so! After all, though the good that we got from the relationship may have made up a minority of the total experiences in it, that good may have been (or at least may have seemed to be) a rather large minority. A minority, nonetheless, is still a minority, big or small. What can we do to avoid falling into yet another trap?

If that ‘large minority,’ or ‘significant minority,’ of good times really was good, in spite of the clear majority of bad, we might want to think less of the quantity of experiences of good and bad, and think rather of their quality. Were the good experiences of any real importance, or were they just fleeting pleasures? If the latter, their large number (if they actually even were large in number) hardly comes close to compensating for all the pain that the bad experiences caused. If the good times were significant, the bad times all too often outweigh the good times, too. Either way, be careful!

Don’t let ’em suck you back in!

And if those abusers are asking you to get back in touch, you know their sucking you back in is not in your best interests.

I’ll give an example of hoovering I got from my older sister, J., the golden child of the family. She tried emailing me, after the falling-out I had with the family when my late, probably narcissistic mother died (read these posts for the origin story of my troubles with my family, if you’re interested), telling me about possessions of mine still in our mother’s home that I should collect. I didn’t want them. I never even replied to her email. I also blocked her and all our other family members.

Then she tried, several months to a year or so later, to contact me on Facebook. I rejected her message request. When you go No Contact, you must commit to it.

She tried, in her messages (the opening part that I actually saw, for I had no wish whatsoever to read them), to be warm and caring in her tone. I wasn’t buying one word of it. I know her too well. She likes to open her messages to me with such stale, formal language as, “I hope this email finds you well,” implying a lack of genuine, heartfelt emotion. She never was one for the sincerity club.

She would have me believe that the whole family misses me terribly (If so, why have neither of my older brothers–nor anyone else in the family, apart from her and Mom when she was alive–ever tried contacting me, except ever so rarely over the past twenty years I’ve lived in Asia after leaving Canada in 1996?); and they want us to “heal those wounds,” as my aunt described the problem on the phone just before my mom died in hospital. I haven’t contacted them because, frankly, I don’t miss them. Why would I miss emotional abusers?

Don’t be a sucker!

Furthermore, I assure you, Dear Reader: the only ‘healing’ they want is from their own point of view; they couldn’t care less whether I heal or not–I’m expected just to fall in line and do what they want. The ‘healing’ would involve me changing my ‘errant’ ways and apologizing for the hurt I caused them. They wouldn’t need to change, because in their opinion, they never did me any wrong. Their anger towards me is always ‘justified’; mine never is. I’m just an immature, selfish whiner, according to them.

I beg to differ, as I’ve explained at length in all the posts (links above) that I’ve written on the subject; there’s no point in my repeating all of that here. In any case, true reconciliation must involve reciprocity: it’s only fair. I’m prepared to acknowledge things I’ve done to upset them, in recent years as well as those further off in the past; but beyond a mere paying of lip service to their faults, they will only trivialize all that they and Mom did over the years to provoke my wrath. As her flying monkeys, they’re willfully ignorant of what she did, which was an atrocious string of lies and smear campaigns against me and our cousins over the decades.

The point, Dear Reader, is that it will take a lot more than honeyed words from abusive people to be worthy of your trust. It actually doesn’t involve them saying much of anything; it involves them doing those two things they’ll never do–listening to you and validating your feelings.

Always remember that, whenever your abusers pull the old hoovering tactic: it doesn’t matter what their mouths are doing, or what their fingers are doing when they write or type their messages for you to read; it’s what their ears are doing…and what their brains are thinking in secret.

Since we abuse victims have no way of knowing for sure what activity is going on in their ears and brains, our abusers should have a formidable task convincing us if they’re truly contrite. For if they’re faking their regret, their attempt to regain our trust should be an impossible task.

Validation

[NOTE: please read the second and third paragraphs from this post before continuing. Important–don’t skip reading them!]

Of all the aspects of emotional abuse that I suffered from the family–the autism lie, the bullying, the scapegoating, the explosive anger, the triangulation, the smear campaigns–in many ways, the most hurtful of all was the constant invalidation of my feelings and perspective.

This invalidation is especially cruel when one receives it as a child. Crucial psychological development is going on during those years, and telling a kid he’s ‘wrong,’ or he’s ‘making too big a thing’ out of the problems his abusers are causing, subjecting him to victim-blaming, saying his opinion ‘doesn’t count,’ etc. (all of these examples being lines I’ve heard come out of the mouths of my family, by the way), is damaging to his ability to grow self-confidence. Such invalidating, minimizing, and trivializing of one’s feelings and experiences are all forms of gaslighting.

Granted, we all have to deal with the reality of being wrong sometimes, and conflict occurs in even the best of families; but I’m talking about a consistent, systemic negation of the victim’s point of view. The victim is made to feel as though being right about anything is generally beyond his or her reach.

My late mother’s lie, about my supposedly having an autism spectrum disorder, provided the foundation for the apparent incorrectness of my perception of everything. The bullying I endured from my elder siblings, R., F., and J., only reinforced my inability to have a voice; if I tried to stand up for my rights, or challenge any of my siblings, they’d double down on the verbal abuse and physical threats, turning up the volume of their shouting at me–because allowing me to fight back would be a threat to their power over me…and emotional abuse is all about power and control.

If I tried to assert myself to my brother R., he’d say such things as, “You’re full of shit!” or “You misunderstand [Mom], just as you misunderstand everyone…” etc. If I tried the same with my sister J., she’d say, “Don’t get lippy with me!”, “I don’t wanna hear it!”, or “I don’t need to hear your attitude!”; then, she’d hypocritically judge me for not “voicing” my issues with her. If I challenged my brother F., he’d shout, “Who the fuck are you?! Oh, I oughta smack you for saying that!” They never take it as well as they dish it out.

Our mother, of course, defended them almost every time, especially J., her golden child. All of this, of course, reinforced my invalidation. Things had gotten so bad that I found myself with no choice, about three to four years ago, but to go No Contact with them. I’m sure they still blame me, and solely me, for our falling out. These people have no sense of introspection. If they had it, they’d have acknowledged the role they’ve played in this problem years ago…decades ago.

I’m sure, Dear Reader, you’ve dealt with this problem in one form or another, either with family, or in a former relationship; otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. Let’s face it: you’re not going to get any validation from people like that. You’ll have to rely on yourself to get it.

I’ve written other blog posts on how to ‘exorcise,’ if you will, the inner critic we sufferers of C-PTSD have. I also recommend auto-hypnosis, for the deep state of relaxation you get from hypnosis will make your mind more suggestible. And that’s where the validation of affirmations comes in.

Sit or lie down in a relaxing position, close your eyes, take long, slow, deep breaths, and become aware of every inch of your body, starting with your toes and feet, and work your way up, inch by inch, to your head. Feel your body vibrating all over, or–as I like to describe it–feel as if your body is part of an ocean, an infinite ocean of Brahman, with your body and surroundings as all gently flowing waves. No distinction between the outside and your inner Atman: it’s all soothing, peaceful water, everywhere.

Once you’re fully relaxed, begin to imagine good people who love you, an inner guidance system, new internalized good objects, saying these kind words of validation:

“You’re completely normal.”

“You have the same right to be heard as everyone else.”

“You’re a good, decent, caring person.”

“You deserve much better treatment than you’ve been given.”

“You’re smart, capable, and talented.”

“Your feelings matter.”

“You are beautiful, inside and out.”

Feel free to make a list of your own affirmations, if you can think of ones more suitable to your situation. To get the best effect, do this meditation again and again, every night over several weeks. If you don’t like the way I have set it up, try some YouTube videos, self-hypnosis videos with positive affirmations. I like the ones incorporating ASMR.

Whatever you do, I urge you to invalidate your invalidators. Consider the source. Ask yourself, “What the hell do they know, anyway? What makes them think they’re an authority on me, or on anyone?” You don’t have to say these words to your abusers’ faces (indeed, I’d advise against that, actually): leave them to blunder about in their narcissistic delusions. It’s not your job to fix what’s wrong with them.

Instead, invalidate your abusers in your mind. You’re the only one who has to know that they’re the problem, not you.

‘Creeps,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Twenty-Four

[sexual content]

“Did you read the news in the paper today, Guy?” Thea asked him as she entered the kitchen with the newspaper.  

“What’s up?” he asked after gulping down some orange juice.  

“Ken Maynard and Ricardo Davis had to plead guilty on all the charges against them, including conspiracy to engage in human trafficking,” she said, then sat down across from him at the kitchen table. “Hey, don’t spill your cereal on the floor.” 

“I won’t,” he said, scowling at her never-ending nagging. “So, they’re in jail now?” 

“Yep. They’ve been sentenced.” 

“I still remember all the confessions from the staff, how they were smiling while high on the Creeps drugs. And how they were frowning when they had to confirm those confessions once the drugs had worn off, and once the staff knew that Van Gorder and Bill Shavick had heard the sex slaves confirming it all, and once the authorities saw the video that recorded all of Mark’s criminal intentions.” 

“Yeah, it’s so nice knowing the whole staff of Capitol is now behind bars, and investigations are being made of all the other Capitol branches, uncovering the same criminal scandal with the Creeps.”  

“I’m glad they all got theirs,” Guy said, then shoveled some cereal into his mouth. 

“Check this out,” she said, reading from the newspaper. “The so-called ‘Commodities,’ most of whom have nowhere else to go, were formerly either destitute or from impoverished countries, or from families that had betrayed them by selling them. So the government—which has also purged itself of the corrupt enablers of Capitol and put them in jail—has judged that the appropriate way to compensate the victims for their suffering is to renovate each Capitol building so thoroughly as to make the places unrecognizable for their former use, and make them new homes where the victims will be given free accommodation. Isn’t that amazing?” 

“Yeah,” he said. “And what of Petunia? I guess she’s living there.” 

“Presumably. You gonna go over there and apologize to her?” 

“Apologize?” 

“Yeah, for paying to rape her.” 

“Thea?! What the fuck? Didn’t you already say I was a hero for helping to save all those people? Haven’t I atoned for my bad karma?” 

“Guy, I’m very proud of you for what you helped me do.” 

“That’s funny: I thought you helped me do it.” 

“Yeah, well, anyway, I still think you should go talk to her about what you did in that VIP Room. Making her have sex with you under those circumstances is still rape.” 

He sighed, then left the table, having finished his breakfast. 

Around lunchtime, Guy went over to see Petunia, in her new room, which was all refurbished and given new furniture, including a bed, refrigerator, stove, TV, and sofa. She opened the door, and they stared at each other for a minute before speaking. 

She was in a T-shirt and jeans, as was he. 

“Long time no see,” he said. “How is everything?” 

“Much better, thanks to you and Thea,” Petunia said. “Come in.” 

They sat on the sofa. She looked over at him, but he, frowning, or trying to smile, just stared down at his twitching hands. 

“It really has been a while,” she said. “Too long, really, since you last saw me.” 

“Well,…I saw a little too much of you the last few times.” 

“I don’t mind.” She put her hand on his shoulder. “You know, this room was actually the VIP room we’d fucked in the first time.” 

“Really?” he asked with a guilty smile. 

“Yeah. I kinda like it, actually, except for it being a little small. I feel a little squished in here. Though squished in here is a lot better than squished in those tunnels we tried to escape through.” 

“Yeah, I read about that problem you all had in the paper.” 

“I’m glad I’ll never have to do that again.” 

“I…really feel awful about what I did here, Petunia…” 

“Oh, Guy. It’s OK.” 

“No, it’s not OK. I took advantage of you. I treated you like a whore.” He was gulping back sobs; his eyes were getting wet. “And I always knew…you were better than that.” 

“Mark LeSaffre made me into a whore. Of all the men who paid to have me, you were the one I was happy to satisfy.” 

“But I was no better than they were,” Guy sobbed. 

“Yes, you were. Of course you were. You saved me, Guy. You and Thea saved me, and you saved all the other sex slaves. When you first found me in Capitol, sure I was uncomfortable, under my fake smiling, the smiling those Creeps were making me do, but I was uneasy only because I was worried you thought my slutty smiles were real. But now I’m glad you saw me there, because if you hadn’t, no one would have saved us.” 

“Yeah, I guess. I just wish I hadn’t fucked you.” 

“I don’t mind that. You were better than all the other Johns who had me.” 

“How was I better? In having you, didn’t I rape you?” 

“Not in my opinion,” she said. 

“How so?” he asked. 

“Because of all the guys who had me, you were always the one I wanted to have sex with.” 

“Why me? What’s so appealing about me? I’m a loser.” 

“Guy, you’re a hero. You saved all of us. I’ve been so hot for you, ever since I realized you’d done that.” 

“Well, maybe now, but how was I hot before that happened?” 

“Remember when I was sharing that apartment with Thea, and you used to come over and visit, to talk to her about, well, whatever? I saw you smiling at me, then you’d look away, all shy, whenever I looked back and smiled at you. You were such a cutie…you still are. I was always waiting for you to ask me out. I kinda liked your shyness, though: it was a nice change from all the aggressive guys who always bothered me.” 

“Was I any less aggressive when I screwed you in Capitol?” 

“Yeah, you were just as aggressive then, but that wasn’t the real you, just as me, acting like a happy whore, wasn’t the real me. I was happy to have sex with you, but not to be a slut: because deep down, I like you. I’ve always liked you.” 

“Really? Pretty girls never like me. They like guys with, you know, cars and money and stuff.” 

“Not all girls. I used to be like that, but after my ex slapped me around enough times, I left him in Vancouver, and came all the way over here, to Mississauga, to get away from him, and from my family, who only ever wanted to make me into something they wanted, not the real me.” 

“Why didn’t you get another guy right away? You’re pretty enough.” 

“I was hoping you’d be that guy. You’re sweet enough.” Then she pouted and whined, “But you never asked me out.” She playfully slapped his arm. 

You could have asked me out.” 

“Yeah, I guess I’m a little too traditional for my own good.” 

“So, you liked having sex with me?” 

“How many times do I have to tell you? I guess I have to demonstrate.” She pulled off her shirt. 

“Wait. Uh…” He started getting off the sofa. 

“What’s the problem?” she, now in her pink bra, asked. “You’ve already seen all of me. How is it different now?” She unzipped her pants and pulled them down. 

“I’m sorry. I do wanna do it with you; it’s just that…” 

“What?” She was standing before him in only her bra and panties. 

“Remember when you said, when we fucked in Capitol, it wasn’t the real you, and it wasn’t the real me? That felt…safer.” 

“But underneath the false me, the true me still liked it.” 

She took off her bra. 

“Why did you like it? I mean, with the false me?” 

“Because,” she said, pulling down her panties and kicking them aside, “I knew that, deep down under your false self, the lecher who leered at my body and checked me out, as naked then as I am now, your real self was still there, that sweet, shy boy who used to visit Thea in our old place, who came to visit me as much as to visit her.” 

“Oh, no. I came to see you…much more than to see her. I actually prefer staying away from her. She kind of annoys me. She’s a nag. Seeing my sister, that was just excuses to see you.” 

“Then let’s fuck.” 

“I want to…but I’m scared.” 

“Of what?” 

“That you won’t like me—the real me, I mean, when you know all about the real me.” 

“We’re all scared of that, Guy. But we try to love each other anyway, don’t we? And the more of the real you that I know, the more I’ll love you.” She unzipped his pants. 

He tried to stop her from pulling them down. 

“Why don’t I get to see you? You got to see all of me, and I don’t get to see you? That hardly seems fair.” 

“Yeah, but I look ugly nude. You have a beautiful body.” 

“I don’t believe you’re ugly nude, Guy. And I don’t care if I see physical imperfections. I love you as you are.” 

He finally allowed her to undress him. Both nude, they got on the bed. He lay on top of her, and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He pushed his cock against her wet vaginal opening, gently coaxing his way in. She put her arms around him. 

As he slid inside her, she looked up into his eyes; but his eyes were still avoiding hers. She held his face in her hands as he pushed in further, aiming his face straight down at hers, to see her wide-open eyes and mouth. 

He got all the way in, getting a squeal from her. 

Still, as he moved in and out, he wouldn’t look in her eyes. 

“Why…won’t you…look at me?” she asked in panting words. “Oh!” 

“I’m…still ashamed,” he moaned. “I remember…our first time.” 

“I liked it…I like it now…I love you, Guy…You saved me.” 

“Yeah, I did…I saved you all…the past…is over. Ah!” 

“Yes…you’re my hero…I love you.” 

“I love you, too, Petunia. Oh!” 

“This is…the real you, Guy…Ah!” 

“And I’m…making love…to the real…Petunia. Oh!” 

“I’m…almost there! Ah!” She came. 

“Me, too…But without…a condom…” He came. “Oh!” 

“It’s OK,” she said. “The Creeps they gave me…ensured I’d…never get pregnant.” 

“Really?” he panted. 

“Yeah,” she sighed. “And I don’t…wanna have kids, ever. Now, your come in me…That’s a Creep…I’ll gladly take…inside my body.” 

************************** 

They got dressed and went outside. 

Holding hands, they walked on the sidewalk beside the building that had once been Capitol. Now the sign in front said Community. It was a sunny afternoon. 

“It’s so nice to be able to go outside again,” she said, taking in a deep breath of fresh spring air. 

“Yeah,” he said. “It must have been awful being cooped up in there.” 

“Hey!” a woman’s voice called out to them. They looked back at her as she ran up to them. It was Arunny. Sobbing, she threw her arms around Guy. “I just wanted to say…thank you…for saving all of us.” Her tears were soaking his shirt by his left shoulder. 

“Hey, anytime,” he said. Both he and Petunia exchanged hugs with Arunny. 

After letting go of him, she looked deep in his face with her soaking wet eyes. She kept looking at him with those grateful eyes for several more seconds, then turned around while still looking at him. 

“Thank you,” she said again, and ran off in the other direction. 

Now, a tear ran down Guy’s cheek, as well as one down Petunia’s, as they watched Arunny continue running away, back to the Community building.  

They turned around and resumed their walk.  

As they continued walking further and further away from the building, they came by a neighbourhood, and someone’s house, which had a garden in the front. She stopped at it. 

“Oh, yeah,” he said, standing behind her. “I remember that garden you used to take care of back when you were living with Thea.” 

“Yeah,” she said. “Those were happy days. I should try to set up a garden in back of the Community building sometime soon.” 

“And I can visit you there regularly, as I did in Thea’s old apartment.” 

“That’d be nice. It would bring back two pleasant memories.” 

“Two?” 

“Yeah. You seeing me in the old apartment, and you seeing all of me in the VIP room, which is now a much more important person’s room, with you as a visitor.” 

They kissed. 

She looked down at the garden soil. She started at the sight of a few worms crawling out of the dirt.  

It’s OK, it’s OK, she thought; they aren’t glowing.

THE END

‘Creeps,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Twenty-Three

It was almost 2:00, and Thea was standing at the front door of Capitol. Two young men came to the door. Thea stopped them. 

“Sorry,” she said in her vocal fry. “We’re temporarily closed. Repairs.” 

“What the fuck!” one of them said. 

“Come back at five,” she said. “We re-open then.” 

“Fuckin’ bullshit!” the other man said as they stormed off. 

Thea’s cellphone rang. “Hello?” she said in her normal voice. 

“Is Mark back yet?” Guy asked. 

“No,” she said. “All the staff are in the staff room, though.” 

“Do you think Mark called Ricardo and found out the meeting is fake?” he asked. 

“I don’t know. It’s a chance we have to take. I’m locking the front doors and then coming over to you. Are the green Creeps set?” 

“Yes. Everything’s set. It’s all or nothing. Petunia and all the others are in the sleeping room, about to wake up from their nap.” 

“I’ll be with you in five minutes. Bye.” They hung up. 

Thea went over to the staff room, looking inside and noting all the staff were there.  

Where is Mark? she wondered; He should be here by now. Oh, God, please don’t let Mark suspect anything. That ‘policy changes’ excuse coming out of the blue was an awkward idea. 

He came with his men in the back door, as Thea expected him to. She could hear them approaching in the hall. 

“Cameron?” Mark called out. “Where are you?” 

“By the staff room, Mark,” she said. Shit, she thought; Forgot my man voice again. Then in her vocal fry: “I assume you got my text about the staff meeting.” He nodded with a smirk as he came nearer to her. “Good. Shall we go in?” 

“In a minute, Cameron,” he said with a smile suggesting he knew nothing. “Before we go in, let’s go in this room over here for a second.” Mark opened the door, and he and his men went in. 

“OK,” she rasped, making sure he didn’t see her lock the staff room door behind her. “But Ricardo and Ken will want to start right away. We’ll have to make this quick.” She went in the other room, trying not to shake. 

“Oh, let me worry about Ricardo and Ken,” Mark said, standing by the door. 

Mark closed it when she was right between his men in the room. “Boys, grab her.” 

They took Thea by the arms and held her struggling body on a chair. Mark tossed them a pair of handcuffs, which they put on her, the chain wrapped behind one of the thin poles making up the back of the chair. 

“Mark, what are you doing?” she shouted as she kept struggling, her first two words normal, her last three in vocal fry. 

“Enough with the fake man voice, Thea Cummings,” Mark said, grabbing her fake beard and ripping it off. 

“Oww!” she screamed. “You bastard! You won’t get away with this! The police are coming, with the Minister of…” 

“They’re all on my side, Thea,”  Mark said. “You and ‘Jack’, or Guy Cummings, your kid brother, really, were plotting to take over and expose our business to the very people we pay to stay on our side.” 

“Not all of them can be bought,” she said. “We know…” 

“Did you know we had tech implanted in you while you were screwing—or pretending to screw—Petunia, the girl you’re trying to rescue? We put it in Guy, too. When Petunia was with you, and when his Commodity was with him, they rubbed their fingers in your ears, and tiny Creeps slipped in, fixing tech to your ears, brains, and even eyes. We could then monitor and record everything you see and hear, including your conspiratorial conversations.” 

“You might have stopped me, but my brother has the app to put green Creeps in the staff. He’ll make them confess to the cop we know who’ll help us expose you.” 

His men were using rope they had on them to tie her ankles to the chair legs. 

Mark took out his cellphone and called Guy. 

“Guy Cummings,” he said. “We ripped the fake beard off your sister. You haven’t sent those green Creeps into my staff room yet, have you?” 

“Not yet, but I will if you hurt her,” Guy said. 

“Oh, you were going to do that anyway,” Mark said. “So I’m gonna make this even more difficult for you. If you send out those green Creeps, I’ll sic the yellow ones you helped me program on all the Commodities in the sleeping room.” 

“Go ahead,” Guy said. “I don’t care.” 

“They’ll kill Petunia LeBar, too.” 

Guy paused. 

“I don’t care. Do it. I’m drugging your staff to help me, and the cops are coming now, as we speak.” 

“And I’ll rape your sister. Here, I’ll let her talk to you, so you know my boys and I really have her.” Mark put the phone to her face. 

“Go through with it, Guy,” she said. “Send out the green Creeps. I’m…” Mark undid her pants and pulled them down. “I’ll be brave.” 

Mark chuckled at her pink panties, then began to unbutton her shirt.  

“Do it, Guy!” she shouted. “Don’t worry about me. Don’t let these bastards stop you.” 

Mark took the phone back from her. “Guy,” he said into it, “Three of us, me and my bodyguards, are gonna gang-rape your sister. In fact, to help us get nice and hard, we’re gonna use the orange Creeps on ourselves.” 

 Guy formed an enigmatic smile at that last sentence. 

“She’ll get one up her pussy, too, so she can get nice and wet, like a good little bitch,” Mark said, then slapped Thea hard. 

Ah! You fucking bastard!” she shouted. 

Guy thought, Oh, shit. The orange Creeps in her? Since when did he start using them on the pussy he fucks?  

“Go find him, you two,” Mark told his men, who went out of the room seconds after. “As for me, I’ll keep little Thea here entertained. Normally I like to fuck my bitches raw. It’s the Sadean sadist in me, to put a girl’s pussy in pain. But I’d like you to enjoy this fuck, so it’ll make you feel like a slut, and traumatize you better.” He chuckled. He had her shirt undone all the way down, then he pulled it wide open to see her pink bra. A tight strap went around her to flatten her chest. He removed it. “Gee, they’re rather small to need to be strapped down, Thea.” 

She spat on him. 

He wiped it off his face, then ogled her bra. “So pretty in pink.” 

“Fuck you!” 

“Well actually, it’s gonna be the other way around, but first—“ he dialed his phone—“one thing I have to do.”  

Dino answered his ringing phone as he and Leo approached the stairs. “Yeah, Boss?” 

“Dino, if you see any cops or government people at the front door, take them to Room Five, make them some coffee, and tell them to wait for me. If they aren’t our people, quietly lock them in the room, so they don’t know. If they find out they’re locked in later, the door will be too strong for them to break down.” 

“Will do, Boss,” Dino said, then hung up. He and Leo went downstairs and to the front doors, where Officer Van Gorder and Bill Shavick, the Minister of Justice, were banging on the door. “Thea must’ve locked the door. C’mon, Leo.” 

Dino opened the door. 

“You people are closed?” Bill asked. “I thought you opened at two. That’s what it says on the door.” 

“We have a bit of a situation at the moment,” Dino said. “Why don’t you come with us?” He led Bill and the policewoman into Room Five. “Have a seat. There’s coffee over there. Help yourself. We’ll be right back after we’ve fixed this problem. Just wait.” He and Leo walked out and closed the door. Dino turned his key in the lock with impressive silence, putting his finger to his mouth to ensure that Leo wouldn’t say anything. 

As they hurried off to find Guy, Leo asked, “Why’d you lock them in? They could get us all in trouble.” 

“They could get us in even bigger trouble if they find out what we’re gonna do with Guy and Thea,” Gino said. “I’ll bet ‘Jack’ is in the Regulating Room. Let’s look there first.” They went back up the stairs to the second floor. 

As they went down a hall, around the corner of which was the one leading to the Regulating Room, they heard footsteps. Dino gestured to Leo to stop and wait at the corner for whoever was about to come around. 

Guy had just clicked his phone to make the green Creeps swarm into the staff room. He put his phone in his pocket and went around the corner. 

Leo grabbed him, and Dino punched him hard in the face. Dino then punched him in the gut. Before Guy could shout for help, Leo cupped his hand around Guy’s mouth, and they dragged his struggling body over to the room with Mark and Thea. 

They could all hear the staff screaming and fidgeting as the green Creeps slithered up their faces, and into their ears and noses. Mark wanted to turn the Creeps off, but he needed Guy’s phone to do it, for Guy had changed the access code to control the green Creeps. As much as they wanted to go into the staff room and help the staff, Dino and Leo didn’t dare, for fear of getting green Creeps in themselves. 

Dino and Leo got Guy into the room, where Thea had her panties pulled down to her ankles, and her bra undone to expose her small breasts. They threw Guy against the wall and closed the door. 

“Bill Shavick and some female cop are locked in Room Five, Boss,” Dino said. 

“If they know they’re locked in, we’ll have some explaining to do,” Mark said. “Never mind, at least they’re not gonna hear what’s going on up here. It’s too late to turn off the green Creeps with Guy’s phone, but we can get our revenge on him, by hurting the people he loves.” 

Leo punched Guy as he tried to get up. 

“And this is how I’m going to hurt him,” Mark said, getting out his phone and clicking on his Creeps app. “Good. Guy didn’t change the access code to the yellow or orange Creeps, as he had the green ones. Dino, turn on the TV. I want Guy to watch Petunia and all the other Commodities die, all the ones he’d hoped to save.” Dino turned on the wall-mounted TV in the corner of the room. 

“You’re willing to kill off all your sources of profit?” Guy asked, wiping the blood off his mouth. 

“Thought I was bluffing, eh?” Mark said. “I can replace all of them like that.” Mark snapped his fingers, hardly bothering to look up at the TV. All the Commodities were screaming on the TV as a swarm of yellow Creeps crawled onto their bodies. They frantically tried to wipe them off their arms and legs, but so many more replaced the ones wiped off that self-defence was futile. “I have people all over the world recruiting new Commodities. Families in Africa, India, Cambodia, Latin America…poor families actually sell me their 18-year-old daughters, sometimes sons, too. I pay them well, they kiss their kids goodbye forever.” 

“Exploitative bastard,” Thea said.  

“We’re gonna exploit you in a minute,” Dino said.  

“I’m not so sure, Boss,” Leo said. “She’s awfully hairy. Almost no tits. Ugly body. Who’d wanna fuck that?” 

“Fuck you!” Guy said, fiddling with his phone behind his back while lying on the floor. “I bet your mother is uglier.” 

Leo kicked him in the gut. 

“That’s why we use orange Creeps, Leo,” Mark said. “They give us the help we need when the woman’s body doesn’t inspire a hard-on.” He clicked an app to summon three Creeps. 

“I’ll bet you’re just impotent,” Thea said. 

Mark slapped her. “Boys, untie her legs, un-handcuff her, and lay her on the floor.” 

As they were doing that, Mark looked up at the screen. 

“The screaming stopped,” he said. “They should be burning up inside by now. Wait…what the bloody hell? They’re fucking!” 

Guy grinned. 

On the TV screen, instead of several dozen naked sex slaves writhing and squirming in agony from incendiary tech burning up their internal organs, they were all paired up in a huge orgy. Guy could see Petunia sucking a man’s dick, while another man was fucking her doggie-style. Arunny was sucking Petunia’s left tit while a third man was fucking her doggie-style, too. Since most of the lovers were women, there was a lot of lesbian sex to be seen. 

“What’s the use of a revolution without common copulation?” Guy said, mocking Mark’s incorrect quote of the Marat/Sade. “You must have clicked the wrong icon on your phone for them, Mark. Clicked ‘orange’ instead of ‘yellow’.” He laughed, hoping Mark would believe him.  

Mark looked back at the TV screen. Did I click the wrong icon, in my anger and absent-mindedness? he wondered. I thought I saw yellow Creeps on the TV screen. The room they’re fucking in is dark, so it isn’t easy to see clearly. Were they yellow, or orange? I’m getting sloppy. 

“Well, I’ll just have to hurt you and Thea more directly,” Mark said. Three orange Creeps slithered under the door crack and into the room. Definitely orange, he thought as he saw them crawling nearer. I’ve gotta be more careful. He, Dino, and Leo pulled down their pants and underwear. “We were going to have orange Creeps for you and Thea, but now I think we’ll just fuck you two raw, as we normally like our bitches. Only orange Creeps for us three.” 

Guy breathed an enigmatic sigh of relief at that last sentence. 

The Creeps crawled up the rapists’ legs. Guy smiled. 

“You’re taking those up the ass?” Thea asked, sneering. 

“Why not?” Dino said in a shaky voice, smiling and shivering as the Creep went into his rectum. “We have…kinky…tastes.” 

“Yeah,” Leo moaned. “They feel…good…up the ass. Oh!” 

“Leo’s…bi…by the way,” Mark said, also shaking. “He…likes you, Guy. Ooh!” 

Leo grabbed Guy and got ready to fuck his ass. 

Guy struggled as Leo was undoing his pants, but Leo punched him in the gut. Guy’s pants and underwear were pulled down to his ankles. Leo knelt behind him. 

“We’re gonna…rape you both, then…kill you,” Mark said, shaking as he got on top of Thea, Dino holding her for him. “Then we’ll…kill that cop…and Shavick…in Room Five. Stop squirming!” 

“You can’t kill everyone,” Thea said as she tried to get free of Dino’s grip and get Mark off of her. “Someone will find out and stop you!” 

“I own…the cops…and government. I just…have to know…their price…Wait, this doesn’t feel right…I’m hot inside.” 

“Not the kind of hot you were expecting, eh, Mark?” Guy said, smiling and noting the discomfort in Leo’s face. “Or you, Leo?” 

“I-I’m burning, Boss,” Leo said. “Aah!” He fell on Guy. 

“Me, too,” Dino said. “What’s in these Creeps? Unh!” 

As Mark lay screaming and shaking on top of Thea, who was now more frantically trying to get him and Dino off of her, he was clicking icons on his phone. 

“Remember those yellow and orange Creeps that got mixed up, Mark?” Guy said, finally getting Leo off of him. “I never sent them back to the supplier. I thought you and your thugs here would want to rape a few Commodities today, so I set up those Creeps at the last minute today, so your cellphone app would summon them.” 

“I know,” Mark gasped. “I should’ve…figured it out…when I saw…all the Commodities…fucking on the TV. Ah!” 

“As I said, I was hoping you’d use them earlier,” Guy said. “Before the meeting. Your monthly lunchtime fuck, with a Commodity as raw as we’d have been here now.” 

“I just summoned…all the orange Creeps…to come here,” Mark grunted. “You won’t be ‘raw’…if you know…what I mean. Ah!” He fell to the side, shaking and groaning for a few more seconds before dying. Dino then dropped down dead, falling on top of Thea. She shoved him off.  

“Oh, fuck!” Guy shouted as he looked at the door and heard the familiar screeching. 

An army of orange Creeps was crawling under the door, and straight at Guy and Thea, who were only now pulling their pants up. Before they could do them up, Creeps were already on their thighs, crawling on their bare skin, racing for their anuses and Thea’s vagina. 

“Oh, God! Guy!” Thea screamed. “They’re in me! They move so fast! Aah!” They were crawling up to her face. 

Guy was shaking from two that were already wiggling up his rectum. He raced to get Mark’s phone. 

“Can you…shut them off?” she asked, shaking all over. 

“Yeah,” he said in a tremulous voice. “I even know…how to get…into Mark’s phone.” Guy tried desperately to control his shaking body, and especially his hand, to touch the right numbers on the screen of Mark’s phone to access the app. Guy traced a swastika along the numbers 3-2-5-8-7, then 1-4-5-6-9. 

“How…do you know?” she asked, flailing her arms and legs, keeping her mouth closed tight, while Creeps were nearing her ears and nostrils. 

“I watched him…behind his back,” Guy said, accessing Orange Creeps, then Disable

All the Creeps lost their orange glow, just like Christmas lights being switched off; and they stopped moving, like insects on a farmer’s field sprayed with insecticide. 

Guy’s and Thea’s bodies stopped jerking about. Guy dropped on the floor beside his sister. The immobilized Creeps on their faces and bodies fell off. They lay there for a few minutes, panting, trembling, and waiting for their heart rates to slow down. 

Finally, Thea spoke: “Are the outer coverings of these Creeps going to melt inside us, causing the burning?” 

“No,” Guy said, getting up. “The programming is supposed to make the incendiary content inside melt the outer coating, then burn you. I turned off the program, so we’ll be safe. If the coatings had melted, we’d be feeling it by now.” 

Thea got up, and they both did up their pants. 

“So, to get these things out, we’ll have to shit them out?” she asked as she did up her bra and shirt. 

“Exactly.” 

They looked down at the bodies of Mark, Dino, and Leo. Guy got the key off of Dino. 

“Bastards,” she said, kicking Mark’s corpse. Blood gushed out of his mouth. “Eww. We’d better go get Van Gorder and Shavick.”  

They rushed out of the room, then looked in the door window to the staff room: all the staff were either standing, seated, or lying on the floor, rocking or fidgeting, their eyes agape and staring in a daze. 

“We need to bring Van Gorder and Shavick in there right away,” Guy said, “while the green Creep drug is still at its most potent point, to get them all to confess the truth.” 

“You really think it’ll work?” she asked as they hurried down the hall to the stairs. 

“Yes,” he said as they went down. “Sodium Pentothal is mixed into it; it’s like a truth serum. Besides, when Petunia and the others come down off that aphrodisiac, horny high they’re on, we can get them to confirm the truth about Capitol.” 

“I’m proud of you, Guy,” she said. “You’ve proven what a good guy you are.” They grinned at each other. 

On the first floor now, they could hear banging on a door. They raced over to Room Five, and Guy unlocked the door. 

“Why were we locked in here?” Shavick asked. 

“Because Mark didn’t want you to know that he just tried to kill us,” Guy said. “He ended up killing himself.” 

“I told you he was crooked,” Officer Van Gorder said. 

“C’mon,” Thea said. “Let’s go up to the second floor.” 

They all ran up the stairs and down the hall, much of which had an army of immobile orange Creeps on it, to the staff room. When Van Gorder and Shavick looked through the door window and saw the dazed staff, Guy got out his cellphone, clicked on the app controlling the still-crawling green Creeps that hadn’t yet crawled inside anyone, and turned them off. They lost their glow, and now lay as still and dull in colour as the orange ones in the other room. 

“Luckily, the door to the staff room closes tight enough to seal off any possibility for the Creeps to crawl outside,” Guy said. “Unlike the orange Creeps that were crawling into this other room.” He opened the door, showing the corpses of Mark, Dino, and Leo. 

Van Gorder and Shavick gasped at the sight of the bodies, then winced at their half-nakedness. 

“You said they killed themselves,” the policewoman said. 

“Yeah,” Thea said. “That’s why their pants are down. They let the orange Creeps crawl up their asses.” 

“Why?” Shavick asked. “Why kill themselves like that?” 

“They weren’t trying to kill themselves,” Guy said. “Normally, orange Creeps are for getting the sex slaves ready for sex. These three wanted to get themselves horny—“ 

“So they could rape us,” Thea said. “Then they’d kill us.” 

“Luckily, I had a box of these orange Creeps which had mistakenly been equipped with incendiary content meant for yellow Creeps, and vice versa, as we’ll see in the room where the sex slaves are kept to sleep at night. Mark used these wrong ones on himself and his two bodyguards, and so they killed themselves accidentally.” 

“Sorry,” Shavick said, wincing and shaking his head in confusion. “Orange Creeps? Yellow Creeps? What are you talking about? All these things on the floor?” 

“Yeah,” Guy said. “We’ll explain everything in time.”  

“Let’s go to the sleeping area,” Thea said. “Mark used the wrong yellow Creeps on them, thinking he was going to kill them in revenge for our exposing his criminal business.” They were hurrying over to the sleeping area. “Again, lucky for us, Guy tricked Mark with the switching of the colours,” she continued, as they reached the sleeping area and looked through the door window, “and instead of killing the sex slaves, Mark caused them to do this.” 

“What the hell?” Shavick said as he watched the naked women and men continue their orgy. “It’s like a porno film.” He chuckled; his and Van Gorder’s eyes looked away. 

“Yeah,” Guy said, clicking his cellphone to turn off the yellow Creeps, of which the few still lying on the floor became immobile, no longer glowing. “We’ll have to wait a few hours for them to come down from their horny high. Then they’ll be able to tell you what’s really been going on here.” 

“Do they have any clothes?” Officer Van Gorder asked. 

“Oh, yeah,” Thea said. “There’s a locker room on the far side of the room, where all their clothes are kept. That door in the right corner leads to it.” 

“It’s locked, but I have the key,” Guy said. “When they all come back to normal in a few hours, we’ll go in and get their clothes for them. But for now, let them indulge themselves, I guess.” He chuckled. “They aren’t hurting each other.” 

“It seems to be the best sex they’ve all had in a long time,” Shavick said. All four of them laughed. 

Is my sister Mary in there, in that orgy? Van Gorder wondered as she tried to find her among all the gyrating flesh. I don’t see her anywhere. Oh, well. I’ll try to find her later. 

“In the meantime, let’s all go back to the staff room, and get confessions from the staff,” Guy said as they all started walking back there. “As I told you before, Officer, the green Creeps act as a kind of truth serum, a pacifier that will make them perfectly cooperative. I also want to demonstrate, in the Regulating Room, how we can make them say anything we want. That’s how Mark controlled them.” 

‘Creeps,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Twenty-Two

On the 17th, Mark and Guy were in the Regulating Room, Mark watching the video screens of the clients having sex with the Commodities while Guy was entering data into the computer. 

“So, are those new Creeps programmed and ready?” Mark asked. 

“Just about…there,” Guy said as he typed a few keys. “All done.” 

“Good,” Mark said. “I have to go meet with the police commissioner and the Ministry of Labour, give them their thank-you gifts.” He grabbed the handles of two briefcases filled with cash.  

“I’m surprised you’re not having your usual lunchtime fu–,” Guy said, first with a slight frown of disappointment, then remembering he wasn’t supposed to know about what he was about to say. “D-don’t you normally go to F-Fredo’s for lunch around now?” 

“No time today,” Mark said. “Gotta give this cash to our business allies.” 

“Why do you have to go there physically in this electronic day and age?” 

“I could just wire the money to them by computer, I suppose, but I like the personal touch. It reinforces our relationship to give it to them personally, face to face.” 

“It’s sure nice having the government on our side,” Guy said. 

“It is. I really don’t like the government at all, but we can’t get rid of it. I’m a libertarian, at heart.” 

“And a libertine, at hard-on.” Guy chuckled, and Mark’s chuckles followed. 

“I’ve always been pleased with the similarity between the words libertarian and libertine, in sound and meaning. Well, if you can’t beat the state, take it over, I always say. With a business like this one, you have to, in order to survive.” 

And your hypocrisy in that regard doesn’t bother you at all, obviously, Guy thought. 

“I was thrilled when we were able to clinch the legalization of brothels. For me, it was a new sexual revolution, and in my view, the only real revolution. I remember an old play by Peter Weiss, the Marat/Sade, when the Marquis de Sade asks, ‘What’s the use of a revolution without common copulation?’ I don’t remember the exact wording, but the quote was something like that. Anyway, I have to go. Back by 2 PM. Take care of the place for me.” 

“I will, Mark. Bye.” Mark went out the door. “And…everything’s set up.” He got his cellphone and called Thea. “We’re ready.” 

“OK,” Thea said. “Where’s Mark?” 

“He’s off making the payoffs to the cops and the Ministry of Labour,” Guy said. “He says he’ll be back by two.” 

“OK, I’ll send an e-mail to him and all the others to get into the staff room for the meeting at that time,” she said. “But I’m letting Mark know last, so he doesn’t interfere in any way before then. Bye.” She hung up, then began typing the e-mail: 

To all staff, everyone meet in the staff room at 2:00 PM sharp for a general meeting. IMPORTANT. Stop whatever you’re doing at 1:50 and get in there for a conference with Ricardo Davis and Ken Maynard, who have important policy changes that must be discussed in detail. Only Davis and Maynard will be communicating by phone, because they are too busy where they are to be in the staff room. Everyone else must physically be there to ensure a proper relaying of the information. I just received word from Mr. Maynard himself of this. Urgent. Forward this message to any staff not addressed here. 

She sent the e-mail to Mark and every staff member whose name she could remember, while walking through all the halls of Capitol telling everyone and anyone she hadn’t sent the e-mail to about the meeting. 

As Mark was being driven to the police station with his two bodyguards, Dino and Leo, in the back seat, he got a message from a staff member on his phone, saying he’d be a little late for the conference. After reading it, Mark said, “What the fuck? Cameron never told me about Maynard or Davis saying anything about ‘policy changes’. Why am I being told about this all of a sudden? Cameron could have told me about this any time earlier today. I’m not too happy about him doing business behind my back. I’m getting the info directly this time, for a change. I’m calling Ricardo.” 

As he was dialing the number, his driver asked, “What’s the problem, Mark?” 

“Oh, my mixed-up assistant manager, Cameron Thewlis, just sent messages to all my staff about a ‘general meeting’ we’re all supposed to be involved with. We all have to be in the staff room in person, apparently, at 2:00 PM,” Mark said. Ricardo answered his call. “Ricardo? It’s ‘Free Mark’ here. What’s this about a general meeting to make policy changes, and everyone, except you and Ken, has gotta be in the staff room at 2:00 sharp today?” 

“What are you talking about?” Ricardo asked. 

“You don’t know anything about this?” Mark asked. 

“First time I’ve heard about it,” Ricardo said. 

“Never mind. I’ll e-mail Ken and find out what’s going on.”  Mark hung up and sent Ken an e-mail: “Did you tell my assistant manager about a general meeting to be held in my staff room at 2:00 PM today, everyone attending? Urgent: answer ASAP.” 

In two minutes, Mark got a reply. No. What is this all about? 

Mark replied: I smell a rat. Let me investigate. I’ll get back to you. 

“Alright, Cameron,” he mumbled as he set up an app on his phone to monitor ‘Cameron’, using the tech he’d had implanted on Thea and Guy, slipped in their ears by Petunia and Kusiima. “What are you up to?” He found an archived video recording of her chatting with Guy from a week before. He saw video through her eye and heard through her ear. 

“Wait,” Mark said. “That’s a woman’s voice. What happened to Cameron’s gravelly voice?…Oh, of course! It was a disguise! Yeah, come to think of it, I do recall ‘him’ losing that raspy sound and speaking like a girl occasionally. He is a she! Now, who’s this guy—his name is Guy—that she’s talking to?” 

“Cameron Thewlis is a girl, Boss?” Leo asked. 

“Yeah,” Mark said. “Shut up, I wanna hear what they’re saying. This ‘Guy’…looks familiar. His voice sounds familiar…” 

“We’re here, Mark,” the driver said, parking the car in the police station parking lot. 

“I’ll go in in a minute,” Mark said, eyeing the video on his phone with obsessive eyes. “Who the fuck are they?” His ears drank up every word of their conversation, which seemed to be in the living room of their home. 

“…and then we’ll get Petunia out of there,” she said. 

“Petunia?” Mark said. “Petunia…LeBar, the one we renamed Walker? That’s it! ‘Thewlis’ was that woman…what was her name? Cummings! She wanted to prove that Petunia was in Capitol against her will. Guy was that kid, her brother! His voice, his manner, is kind of like…Jack!” 

Mark turned off the video, and switched his phone over to the app for monitoring ‘Jack’. He found an archived video recording monitoring Guy from several days before, seeing what one eye of his saw and one ear of his heard. 

Mark was looking at video of Thea’s face, in the same living room, for Mark recognized its distinctive wallpaper and furniture, green and brown plant and tree motifs on the walls, and polished wooden chairs and tables. Her voice was identical to ‘Cameron’s’ non-gravelly voice. He heard Guy’s voice…the voice of ‘Jack’. 

“How, Thea, will we sync up the use of the green Creeps on the staff in the staff room, with Mark in there, sync that with you calling Officer Van Gorder and the Minister of Justice?” Guy said in the video. 

“Now, I know,” Mark said. “They want me in that room with them, so they won’t set the Creeps loose yet. Let’s hurry up and give the commissioner his money, then get back to Capitol.” 

“But what about the Minister of Labour?” Dino asked. “We have to give him his cut.” 

“Paying him will have to wait for the moment,” Mark said, opening the car door. “Hurry up. Let’s move!” 

Mark and his bodyguards rushed into the police station, his bodyguards even shoving people out of the way as he made a beeline to the commissioner’s office. He didn’t even knock on the door; he just barged in. 

“Excuse me, Doug,” he said. “I’ve got an emergency situation back at work. Here you are.” Mark plopped the suitcase of money on the commissioner’s desk. “Sorry. We’ll talk later. Bye.” 

Officer Van Gorder, who was in the commissioner’s office, looked at Mark with widened eyes as she saw him and his men rush out of the building with the same rudeness as when they’d entered. They got back into the car. 

“Drive!” Mark snapped. The driver started the car. 

‘Creeps,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Twenty-One

Two weeks later, ‘Cameron’ called Ricardo Davis. 

“Hello?” Davis said on his cellphone. 

“Hi, Ricardo,” Thea said in her gravelly voice. “This is Cameron. Mark wanted me to tell you that from now on, he’ll want you to discuss all your business with me instead of with him. I’ll relay all your messages to him from now on.” 

“Really?” Ricardo said. “That’s quite a change. Why’s this?” 

“Because with the growing success of Capitol, he’s finding himself much too busy with other aspects of the business, and he wants all his dealings with you allocated to me; so whenever you have new Commodities recruited, tell me about them, and I’ll tell Mark about it in our weekly meetings.” 

“OK, if that’s what Mark wants,” Ricardo said. 

Later that day, ‘Cameron’ sent Ken Maynard an e-mail telling him the same thing ‘he’ had told Ricardo. Maynard replied, saying he agreed with the whole idea, as he found himself busier and busier with his work for Capitol in New York. Thea smiled when she read that. 

************************ 

The next day, Thea was talking with Mark in his office. 

“There’s a message I need to relay to you from both Mr. Davis and Mr. Maynard,” she said, remembering her hoarse vocal fry. 

“Oh?” Mark said. “And what’s that?” 

“They were hoping that I would mediate between them and you, instead of you talking with them directly,” ‘Cameron’ said. “They’re getting busier and busier with their work, Ken especially—he told me himself, so they won’t be able to come over to discuss bringing the new Commodities directly; they asked me to do all that for them. Only on the rarest of exceptions will they come here, the same with your going over there to talk to them. I can handle it, and they insist on it. I hope that’ll be OK with you.” 

“Yeah, I guess you can act as middle man for us,” Mark said. “You’ve learned enough about the job, and I find that I can trust you just fine.” 

“I’m happy to hear that, Mark.”  

************************ 

Later that day, Guy was about to leave the Regulating Room, when, with the door just open ajar, he noticed Dino and Leo talking with Mark in the hall a few doors down. 

“I can’t wait for our next monthly bit of fun in the VIP Rooms on the 17th,” Dino said. 

“Shut up, stupid!” Mark snapped at him. “I don’t want any of the staff to know about that. Anyone in a nearby room could’ve heard you.” 

Guy smirked and closed the door. 

************************ 

That night, Thea and Guy were talking in their house. 

“Well, I’ve managed to minimize any contact between Mark on one side, and Ricardo and Maynard on the other,” she said. 

“Good,” Guy said. “Now we just have to make sure the three of them aren’t chatting with each other on the day we spring the Creeps on all the staff.” 

“We won’t be able to guarantee that, of course,” she said, “but I’ll do what I can to keep them from contacting each other, and figuring out what we’re up to. Shall we decide on a target day, when the shit will hit the fan?” 

“Let’s use around…say…the middle of this month to set things up and minimize anything getting screwed up. How about on…the 17th?” 

“That sounds all right. Mark usually goes to pay off the police and Ministry of Labour around that day. He typically leaves the office to do that in the early afternoon, so we can get all the staff in the staff room for the meeting then, without him getting in the way. He’ll be busy with the payoffs, which he likes doing in person, so that should minimize any risk of him chatting with Ricardo or Maynard. We’ll have plenty of time to fill up any holes by then. If there are any problems, we can add a few days to fix things, and maybe I can get him to delay the payoffs till then.” 

“Sounds good. Up until the 17th, we must do all we can to keep those three from chatting.” 

‘Creeps,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Twenty

A week later, Mark called Guy on his cellphone while the latter was in the Regulating Room. 

“Jack,” Mark said. “I need to meet you in the storage room, right away. It’s urgent, and I’m fucking crazy mad. Hurry up!” 

“OK, Mark,” Guy said. “I’ll be there in five minutes.” 

“Make it five seconds,” Mark snapped, then hung up. 

Guy raced out of the Regulating Room, running spastically down the hall in the direction of the storage room. 

Does he know? Guy wondered; has he been monitoring Thea and me? Did he have tech implanted in us, and did he listen to our conversation a week ago, about the plan to use Creeps on the staff? If so, we’re dead. He reached the door to the storage room and opened it with a shaky hand. 

Mark was a few feet away, staring at a box of yellow Creeps with a frown. Guy was so worried, he felt as if he was going to retch. 

“Oh, good,” Mark said, looking back at Guy, who was walking in slowly and leaving the door open on purpose. “You’re here. Something is terribly wrong here.”  

“W-what?” Guy asked. “Is it something I did?” 

“No,” Mark said. “My supplier fucked up royally.” 

Guy tried to keep his sigh of relief inaudible. “What’s wrong?” 

“These yellow Creeps have the wrong thing put in them. Hey, close the door.” Guy did. “What I’m about to discuss is sensitive information. My supplier must’ve got the orange Creeps and the yellow ones mixed up, that is, in each other’s coloured casings, because these yellow ones have the orange content in them. You know, the drugs with the synthesis of MDMA elements and aphrodisiacs, to make our Commodities horny and friendly with our clients. Vice versa, too, probably, with the incendiary content in the orange Creeps’ casings.” 

“How do you know this?” 

“First of all, take a look at this.” Mark opened a yellow Creep, in which Guy saw a thin, transparent casing for the content inside. “Notice how the inner casing has an O, for orange, on it. It should have a Y, for yellow. Second, I knew something was wrong last night when we tried to use yellow Creeps on two undesirable Commodities in the Escape Hope Initiative. Instead of burning inside, the targeted man and woman started fucking, right there in a widened part of the tunnel!” 

Guy tittered for a second, then stopped. 

“Yeah, Jack, it’s real fuckin’ funny to you, but it’s a big pain in the ass for me. I need to reorder more yellows pronto, and I’ll need you to go through these boxes and look for any more mistakes. When you’ve found them all, tell Hank to have them all chucked in the van and sent back to the supplier. I won’t have time to do both jobs, and you’re the only one I can trust with this sensitive information, so get on this right away.” 

Mark handed Guy the yellow Creep, then ran out of the storage room. Guy just stood there, thinking.  

As a man was walking into the storage room, he saw Guy about to touch the transparent casing inside the opened yellow Creep. 

“Whoa!” the man said to Guy. “Don’t touch the inner casing. It’s extremely sensitive. The slightest touch, and it will open. What’s inside will come out and burn a hole in your hand.” 

“Actually, it’ll probably get me hot in a different way.” 

“What do you mean?” the man asked. 

“See the O on it?” Guy said. “Our supplier put the wrong content in these Creeps. O is for orange, for the content that gets you horny. They were put in the wrong casings, the yellow ones. I have to check these all for Mark. He’s really mad about the mix-up.” 

“OK, and when you’re done sorting this all out, you’ll tell me, and we’ll ship the boxes back to the supplier?” 

“Yeah, sure,” Guy almost whispered, looking away from him. 

********************** 

The next day, Mark went into the Regulating Room to see Guy monitoring two clients, each with his own girl in a white VIP Room. Guy was speaking for the girls. 

“Jack?” Mark asked. “Did you fix the Creeps?” 

“Yes, I did,” Guy said. “The yellows are all yellow, and the oranges are all orange. The suppliers have been sent the wrong ones back.” 

“Good,” Mark said, then left. 

********************** 

Mark was sitting with ‘Cameron’ in his office that evening. 

“I’m sure glad Jack fixed that problem with the orange and yellow Creeps,” Mark said. “I was a little worried about future screw-ups.” 

“I worry about outsiders finding out about the Creeps, and especially what the yellow ones do,” Thea said in her vocal fry. I also worry about how many more times I’m going to forget my ‘man’ voice. 

“Don’t worry about that, Cameron,” he told her. “As Sade wrote in his novel, Juliette, it isn’t the sins we commit that we need to worry about, it’s the danger of being caught that matters. Everyone sins–the Church itself, in all its hypocrisy, admits to that at least. Covering up our crimes is what’s important. We have to commit them with a minimum of passion in order to be careful about them. I let my customers release all their passions on the Commodities, while I carefully manage the affairs of this business, ensuring that no incriminating evidence leaks out.” 

“Is just ensuring no leaks enough to be safe?” she asked, quickly remembering her vocal fry after saying the first word normally. “How can you be sure nothing will ever leak out to the wrong people?” 

“I have influential people in the government and police on our payroll.” 

“But what if someone in the government or police who isn’t on our payroll finds out? There are always a few good boy or girl scouts even in the most corrupt institutions.” 

“True, but that’s why I monitor everything and everybody around me,” Mark said. “Creep technology has almost limitless applications in that regard, I assure you. I can have something slipped into someone’s body so surreptitiously that they would never know I was monitoring them, let alone when I was monitoring them.” He raised his eyebrows while saying that last part, to give ‘Cameron’ to subtle message that ‘he’ may, indeed, have planted Creep technology on ‘him’, too. 

“OK, but what about those who don’t get something slipped into their bodies? How can you be sure of them?” 

“Well, there are no 100% guarantees, of course, but you know how important loyalty is to me. Also, I have a way of testing out the personalities of new employees, to make sure they’re sympathetic to our business’s way of doing things.” 

“How do you find that sympathy?” 

“By finding out how lacking they are in sympathy, paradoxically,” he said. “No sympathy, that is, for the prostitutes. As Sade explained in Juliette, pity is really one of the worst sentiments anyone could ever have. It weakens us. Doing good in this world is ultimately futile, as evil will always prevail. This is the way of Nature, so committing crimes with a minimum of sensitivity, a minimum of emotion, without any pity, is the safest way to live, and to live while having fun. Most people avoid doing good and evil, and just live mediocre lives. Others waste their energy doing pointless good, arrogantly congratulating themselves for their ‘virtue’. Then, still others, like me, do evil, but are calculated about it, ensuring their safety from the consequences while enjoying their superiority to the mediocre masses. You and Jack can aspire to such greatness, too, if you work at it.” 

“I’m willing to do all I can to achieve that,” Thea rasped. You don’t merely do evil, Mark, she thought; you are evil. And we’re going to stop you. You’re going to face the danger of the consequences. 

‘Creeps,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Nineteen

At home, Guy and Thea took off their disguises and sat at the kitchen table. They stared at each other for a minute. 

“I have an idea,” Guy said. 

“I’m all ears,” Thea said.  

“I’m afraid to talk about it, though,” he said. “With all that advanced tech they have in Capitol, have you ever considered the possibility that Mark may have had Creeps put into our bodies without our knowing, to track us, or record what we say?” 

“How could they have put tech in us, and how would it be able to ‘record’ what we say?” 

“That may be how they stopped that other guy from helping us.” 

“I know,” she said. “I’ve thought about that possibility ever since I realized, at the mall, that our informer wasn’t going to arrive. It’s just a chance we’ll have to take. We knew from the moment we were being hired that we were putting ourselves in huge danger, but we’ve got to save Petunia.” 

“We’ve got to save all of them, not just her.” 

She smiled from hearing him say that. You have humanity, Guy, she thought; there’s hope for you. Not bad, for a man. “You’re right. If Mark is tracking us with something, maybe he doesn’t monitor it all the time. Maybe he only does it when he suspects somebody. Let’s hope he isn’t monitoring us now. By remaining in creepy character at all times when we’re around him, maybe he’ll never suspect, and will never monitor us. Now, what’s your plan?” 

“Well, apart from Officer Van Gorder, Mark’s paying off the police and the government, right? Well, what if we provided evidence so compelling that even the corrupt authorities just couldn’t ignore it, especially if we had Van Gorder show it to them?”  

“OK, but how do we provide that evidence in a compelling way? Mark won’t let us download any of it. I’m sure that’s how our would-be informer got caught.” 

“What if we used the Creeps on Mark and the staff, and manipulated them into confessing to their crimes themselves, just as Petunia was made to pretend she likes being a sex-worker?” 

“That…just…might work,” Thea said with a grin. “We’d have to find a way to get all the staff in a place together, maybe set up a fake general meeting in the staff room; then we could lock them in so they couldn’t escape, then unleash the Creeps on them. Any staff not affected might try to stop us. And we’d need lots of staff members to corroborate the confessions, to make the proof more assured.” 

“We’d have to use the green Creeps on the staff, to make them more docile and cooperative when confessing. They have Sodium Pentothal mixed in them, a kind of truth serum.” 

“And we’d need to use blue Creeps, to knock them all out while we prepare everything for the police and Ministry of Labour. It will all have to be timed to perfection.” 

“I hope Mark isn’t monitoring us now,” Guy said. 

“What if he finds out we have a…friend…we’re trying to rescue? What if he were to use the yellow Creeps on her? What could we do?” 

“We’ll have to think of some kind of precaution, that’s for sure,” Guy said, then thought, I wonder if I could exploit Mark’raw-fucking habit in some way. 

************************ 

Guy lay in bed that night, dreaming: 

He was in the white room with naked Kusiima, licking her pussy. He blew in her vagina, panting out the words, “We’re going to set you all free.” 

She sighed, “Thank you, Jack.” 

“I’m not Jack,” he panted inside her cunt. “I’m Guy.” A drop of his saliva entered her pussy. He stopped licking for a second and looked at the drop. It was a green drop, now wiggling like a worm. It crawled deeper inside her. 

He stood up and pulled out his cock. He looked down at his lover, but now saw naked Mark, on his knees as Kusiima had been. 

“I wanna piss on your face,” he said, then began spraying yellow all over Mark’s face. 

The piss came out like wiggling yellow worms, Creeps that crawled into Mark’s mouth, ears, and nostrils. Soon, Mark’s whole body was on fire. 

As he sat there burning, Mark confessed, “I’m holding these girls here against their will. We drug them all. We kill the ones that no longer make us a profit. All branches of Capitol should be shut down.” 

Guy slept like a baby. 

Second-Guessing

[NOTE: please read the second and third paragraphs from this post before continuing. Important–don’t skip reading them!]

Even though I’ve come to conclusions about my family, most of which are beyond a reasonable doubt, I’m still assailed by doubts. Have I examined my memories too selectively? Have I misinterpreted their meaning? Were things really as bad as I imagine them to have been? Am I too sensitive? Have I just been trying to justify a selfish attitude to the family?

There’s no doubt in my mind, on the other hand, that the family would smugly answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions, and not give the issue any second thoughts. They would insist that I am the real narcissist of the family (recall that, in their imagination, narcissistic = “autistic“), and that I am playing the victim, projecting my faults onto them.

Here’s the thing, though: constant second-guessing is a common behaviour of C-PTSD-suffering victims of narcissistic abuse; while a smug self-assurance that one has never done any significant wrong is typical of narcissists, including members of a collective narcissist social group.

Always questioning ourselves.

Where do I get my doubts from? A gradual accumulation of episodes of having been subjected to gaslighting. As I’ve explained in many posts already, my late–probably narcissistic–mother lied to me about having an autism spectrum disorder. My realization of the untruth of her words came not so much from 1) two psychotherapists telling me they saw no autistic symptoms in me, and 2) my score of a mere 13/50 on the Autism Quotient test [a score of at least 26-32/50 would be needed to establish the mere suspicion of clinically autistic traits] as it did from her wildly hyperbolic description of my supposed mental state as a child–i.e., the mythical psychiatrists’ recommendation to “lock [me] up in an asylum and throw away the key,” and her wondering, “Would I ever even make a good garbageman?”

Mom’s purpose wasn’t to make me believe I am retarded, for she claimed “a miracle from God” (she was never religious) had pulled me out of my supposedly hopeless mental state by the time I was around eight to ten years old…a clearly absurd claim. Her purpose was to make me believe I am somehow ‘feeble-minded’ in a more general way, that I am ‘behind’ everyone else.

This gaslighting, combined with her general winking at the bullying (from my elder siblings, R., F., and J., Mom’s flying monkeys) that she knew I was being subjected to, was all calculated to hinder my ability to build up self-confidence, to trust my instincts, and to question any of the family’s nonsense. Hence, my second-guessing.

We never feel sure of ourselves.

In contrast to that, their smug assurance that they’ve done no significant wrong to me came from Mom’s constant justifying of my siblings’ actions and general defence of them at my expense–their reward for giving her a steady feeding of narcissistic supply.

One example of my mother’s gaslighting through the autism fabrication was back in the early 2000s, when she’d been insisting, with no apparent need to check with a psychiatrist, that I have Asperger Syndrome (AS). She emailed me an article about a young man with AS. His life story of having been bullied for being different was meant, through her sharing it with me, to say that I am just like him. What’s more, the article stated several times that ‘he perceives the world differently’ from everyone else. I’m convinced my mother wanted me to think that my perception of everything is different, too. Translation: I understand the world incorrectly.

Similarly, R., F., and J. were fond of calling me a “dip,” a “dork,” stupid, etc., when I was growing up. R., as an example of his meanness, liked scowling at me and telling me, “Think,” implying I never do. Being subjected to this kind of emotional abuse regularly, throughout one’s upbringing and even well into one’s later adulthood, leads inevitably to the victim second-guessing his perception of everything…especially the emotional abuse.

We doubt ourselves, when we shouldn’t.

Bukowski once said, “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” Not to toot my own horn about my intelligence, and furthermore, I’m implying a lack of emotional intelligence in my abusers (they aren’t inherently stupid people); but all of this once again demonstrates the dialectical, yin-and-yang nature of reality. Another relevant quote: “To realize that our knowledge is ignorance, this is a noble insight. To regard our ignorance as knowledge, this is mental sickness.” (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 71)

My point, Dear Reader, is that if you–having suffered emotional abuse and gaslighting–second-guess yourself all the time, and are full of doubts about how badly your abusers treated you, remember that the big irony of all this is how your very second-guessing is one of the proofs that you really were mistreated.

Conversely, the self-satisfied attitude of your abusers, who never feel a dram of remorse, also helps prove how right you are about how much they’ve wronged you; for people who truly care will wonder if they’ve wronged you, even if they haven’t–it’s called empathy. Bad people, on the other hand, kid themselves all the time that they’re doing right: if you don’t believe me, just look at your average politician.

Heinz Kohut, who wrote about narcissism.

Now, does this mean that we victims must torment ourselves with self-doubt for the rest of our lives, just to feel paradoxically vindicated? Of course not: over time, the gradual process of healing from our psychological wounds will allow us to feel reassured without any need to fear that we’re using our pride to blind ourselves to our faults.

Narcissists evade shame by repressing their True Self of egotism, and by disavowing their faults by, for example, projecting them onto their victims; Heinz Kohut wrote about this dual process (horizontal and vertical splitting) in his book, The Analysis of the Self (page 185).

When we victims, on the other hand, project vice onto our abusers, we’re merely giving back to them what they originally dumped onto us; we’re merely putting the vices back where they belong. As for our actual faults…well, let’s let the genuinely good people in our lives tell us about those.

‘Creeps,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Eighteen

At lunchtime the next day, Guy was walking down the hall and noticed Mark leave the Regulating Room with a look in his eyes that suggested he didn’t want anyone to know what he was up to. Fortunately for Guy, Mark hadn’t seen Guy noticing him as he scurried off to the stairs. 

What’s he up to? Guy thought as he entered the Regulating Room. The place doesn’t open for another hour or two. What was he doing in here for? 

Guy turned on the cameras to the VIP Rooms. He saw Mark enter one of them about ten seconds later. Then into the room went naked Arunny. She looked all doped up on a green Creep, but she exhibited none of the signs of horniness caused by the orange Creeps.  

Guy squinted his eyes to make sure. He zoomed the camera closer to her face, then to her genitals, which showed no signs of orange Creep lubrication. 

Is he planning to fuck her raw? Guy wondered. 

Mark pulled down his pants and opened his ass. Guy noticed an orange Creep crawling into the room, up Mark’s leg, and into his asshole. 

“Oh, dude!” Guy whispered, cringing. He looked over at the other screens, and on two of them he saw Leo and Dino, Mark’s musclemen, each in a VIP Room, too. Dino had a naked girl with him…and Leo had a naked man. “Holy shit.” 

The musclemen, like Mark, had their pants pulled down and their asses opened wide, ready to receive orange Creeps. The slaves they were to screw didn’t receive orange Creeps any more than Arunny had. 

Leo and Dino are gonna fuck the guy and girl raw, too? Guy wondered. 

Guy looked back at Mark and Arunny: sighing Mark now had a full erection; he was ready to screw. 

No orange Creep for any of the slaves, eh? Guy wondered, then zoomed in on Arunny’s pussy again. Still no lubrication. He winced as he saw Mark aim for her and ram in; she was wincing, too—she seemed to be in pain as Mark fucked her. He is fucking her raw. Guy looked back at the video screens for Leo and Dino. He zoomed in on the ass Leo was fucking, then on the vagina Dino was fucking; he saw a little blood in both fucked holes. For fuck’s sake, they’re all fucking the slaves raw; what sadists! The three slaves will be getting pink Creeps to heal their vaginal and anal wounds in about an hour or so, I guess. 

*************** 

Guy and Thea were with Mark that night in the Regulating Room. 

“Now I have to tell you both about one of Capitol’s more…shall we say…extreme methods of keeping our Commodities in control,” Mark said, setting the cameras to view the sleeping area. “There are a number of things we need to be concerned about regarding the Commodities. Are they getting older, and therefore less attractive, to our clients? Are they showing less and less enthusiasm for sex, and therefore doing it with less skill? Is this lack of enthusiasm due to growing depression and a loss of hope? In other words, the bottom line: are any of the Commodities making less and less money for us? If so, we have a system for reviving that hope, as well as for weeding out undesirables. The ‘Escape Hope Initiative’, as we call it. I’ll demonstrate.”  

Mark pressed a button at the top middle of the console, and Guy and Thea saw doors on the left and right walls of the sleeping room, doors by the beds of those Commodities Mark was tempting to escape, open up, showing entrances to the ‘escape’ tunnels. Two women and a man woke up. One of the women was Kusiima, whom Guy recognized in a second. 

“How did they wake up so easily?” Thea asked in her vocal fry. “I thought you gave them all blue Creeps to knock them out cold for the whole night.” 

“I did,” Mark said. “But those three got a lighter dose.” As the three crept into the tunnels, Mark switched the cameras to ones allowing him to monitor the movement of the three in the tunnels. He also had a computer graphic with three dots moving through a bird’s-eye-view representation of all the tunnels, so he could track the position of all three in the building. Two dots were blue, the third was yellow. Oddly, the bird’s-eye-view graphic representation of the building’s outer walls was shaped rather like a human body, and the tunnels seemed like an alimentary canal and blood vessels. “Now watch them try to escape.” 

It was difficult for Guy and Thea to hide their horror at watching those three doped-up, yet still fearful, naked people crawling through those tunnels in a desperate attempt to escape sexual slavery; it was especially difficult with Mark often looking back at his two new employees, with eyes that seemed to be interested in their reactions. 

Thea, remembering how important loyalty to Capitol was to Mark, faked smirks at the sight of the three trying to escape. I’m not Cameron, she reminded herself in her thoughts as she continued smirking; I’m Thea. Her wish to remember she wasn’t Cameron made her forget her vocal fry again. “Don’t they know it’s winter outside?” she asked in her normal voice. 

Mark furrowed his brow at that feminine sound. 

“Oh, Cameron, they’ve been doped up here for so long, they’re completely disoriented as to the time of year,” he said. “Besides, it’s not like any of them are getting outside. They’re not even sure if what’s happening to them is dream or reality, they’re so high on the blue Creep drug.” 

He pressed yellow and blue buttons on the console, releasing Creeps of those colours. He pointed to the computer graphics showing the blue and yellow dots, with smaller blue and yellow dots representing the Creeps chasing the three Commodities. 

“And now the real fun begins,” Mark said with a grin, again looking back at ‘Jack’ and ‘Cameron’, who quickly turned their frowns into fake grins. Mark’s grin lessened a bit. 

Along with cameras in the tunnels to help Mark and his two employees see the three naked crawlers, with the light giving a false hope to the Commodities that they were nearing a window outside, there were hidden microphones on the tunnel walls so Mark, Thea, and Guy could hear the slaves’ grunts and panting. When they heard the screeching sound of the Creeps behind them, their grunts and panting turned into moans of fear and agitation. 

Thea nudged Guy, pretending to laugh at the Commodities’ terror and widening her eyes to tell him to fake being entertained, too. Guy quickly joined in on the laughs with her and the genuine laughs Mark was letting out, as his eyes watched his new employees with great interest, to know their attitude towards his ‘extreme methods’ of controlling the Commodities. 

Thea’s and Guy’s eyes and mouths widened when the little yellow dot reached the big yellow one. They saw the corresponding Commodity writhing in pain on the TV screen as the yellow Creeps crawled up her legs and entered her body. In a minute, she felt the fire. 

“Aah! I’m burning!” Kusiima screamed. Guy’s jaw dropped lower. 

It took every ounce of their acting ability to pretend to enjoy watching Kusiima’s agonizing death. 

“Good!” Guy shouted. “Fry that fuckin’ nigger!” I can’t believe I just said that, he thought. 

“Yeah! Ha! Ha!” Thea shouted, then suddenly remembered she, as a ‘man’, wasn’t supposed to have so high a pitch. She coughed, then used her vocal fry: “Ugly bitch!” 

Mark looked over at them. With the lights dimmed, he couldn’t see the tears running down their cheeks. 

“I’m glad you both understand the need to weed out the undesirables,” he said. “She wasn’t satisfying our customers as she had been. She was pretty, but her lovemaking hadn’t the enthusiasm it originally had, either. Remember that the Commodities came from poverty, from broken families. Without us, they all would have died on the streets, or in the Third World countries we recruited them from. We don’t take their lives; we extend them. We simply have them die later.” 

Keep rationalizing, you murderer, Guy thought; wanna put one of those yellow worms in you so badly, it hurts. 

“Well, you have to do what you have to do to stay in business, Mark,” Thea said in her gravelly voice. I want to kill you so badly, she thought; I’ll bet this is how you got rid of Guy’s predecessor. “It’s fun watching them crawl around like that.” 

“Yeah,” Guy lied, trying to make his sobs sound like chuckles. 

“A lot of people can’t handle this aspect of what we do here,” Mark said. “I find showing this to new employees to be the ultimate test of their loyalty. I won’t show this to them until after several weeks of training and careful observation of their attitude. You two have passed with flying colours, I’m happy to say.” 

“Thank you, Mark,” Guy and Thea said together. 

I’ll be monitoring you two all the closer now, Mark thought; The politicians and police are all paid for, as you two are, and there’s no way you could prove any of this without downloading video here, which I can easily track with my own devices. We’ll see if you two can still be trusted. I’ll be watching. “OK, Jack and Cameron: good night. I’ll see you both tomorrow.” 

“Good night,” they said to him, and left the room. 

Mark switched the cameras to monitor ‘Jack’ and ‘Cameron’ in the halls. He turned up the volume to catch any conversation…any suspicious words spoken between them.