Ironically, Amber was driven home by the very same man who had hit her so badly while trying to escape The Black Queen’s grasp. She had wished for Sean or David as her driver so that she could try talking them into reason, but luck wasn’t on her side in this particular matter. Apart from a fake address, she said nothing during the trip back and the giant driver remained silent as well. After dropping her off, he rapidly disappeared, his car being swallowed by the endless night.
For matters of safety, she chose a friendly neighbourhood not too far from her place and remained on the lookout at all times. Although a noble effort it was also a useless one, as The Black Queen had already begun to encircle her world, with a hidden beacon signal cleverly concealed within the battery of her cell phone.
Amber didn’t get much sleep that night, as she was brutally tormented by what she had seen but even more by what she had done… questions such as these haunted her brain: where would that road take her? And what would become of her at the end of the journey?
On the following day, she got up at the usual time and was decided to live according to her routine chores in the best way she could. First, there was the morning shower which she hoped it would clean her soul, as well; then, the ritual fashion parade in front of the mirror, followed by a quick jump into the kitchen for a very nutritious breakfast that harmonically combined a bowl of wheat cereals, a low fat liquid yoghurt and a piece of fruit. Oranges were her favourite, but there weren’t any that morning; an apple would have to do.
When the meal was over, Amber took hold of her set of books and set out to college. As soon as she stepped into the front lawn, a vehicle appeared from around the corner and stopped on the other side of street. It was a white van, with an immaculate paint job, a silent engine and vibrant new tires. A dark-skinned man occupied the driver’s seat. The man’s face had no distinguishable characteristics – they were all pretty much common and as such uninteresting, except for a pair of brooding eyebrows. His eyes were firmly set on her movements.
On any other day, Amber wouldn’t have even looked twice at the man and kept on her business. Of course, all of the previous night events combined had been responsible for an increase of her sensitivity to danger. A simple glance behind her shoulder confirmed her suspicions: the van’s licence-plate was a simple arrangement of three letters that were now a significant part of her life: TBQ.
“So she already knows where I live…” Amber thought, while beginning to move away from her house. Sooner or later, the van would probably do the same.
This time, she was dead wrong. The van didn’t follow her at all. The driver had both his hands on the wheel and his head was slightly tilted so he could still watch her, slipping away into the distance. He wanted to see her go, but why? What was the plan?
She stopped, considered about turning back, and was prevented by an incoming call. No number on the screen.
The Black Queen’s voice was heard:
“Good morning, Amber! I trust you had a good night’s sleep, but now the time has come for you to begin your training. My first order is very simple: keep walking and don’t look back until you reach your college campus. You’ll receive further instructions late in the morning. Don’t disappoint me, Amber”
“I will obey your commands, My Queen!”
“For your sake, I sure hope so, my dear!”
The call faded and Amber resumed walking, doing exactly what she had been told to do. Because of that, she failed to see the moment when the van’s doors were open, and four men carrying toolboxes started moving towards her house.
* * *
Fifteen minutes later, Amber was already entering her college. The Black Queen’s new set of commands came on the form of a written message. It said nothing more than this: “I want you to go on with your daily routine. Once again, I remind you that you are not to discuss any subject related to our encounter last night with anyone! Fail to comply and I can assure you’ll be severely punished! I have more eyes and ears than you can possibly know, so don’t try anything against me!”
With these thoughts hanging over her head, she proceeded to her classes. Naturally, she failed to maintain her focus at all times as the memories of the dreadful situation she was now involved in clouded her judgment.
An angry question offended her spirit. Hypnosis: What kind of forces dwelled inside this word? Was it fail-proof? If she was to find a way to fight The Black Queen’s outrageous schemes of domination, she would have to dig deeper into the matter, understand the enemy’s means of assault and tactics before attacking swiftly and mercilessly.
The first morning class was over rather quickly. During the whole hour, she never opened the book or took any notes, completely adrift in her thirst for knowledge intertwined with a growing anxiety.
Mrs. Moray, the English professor whose class she was going to attend next, didn’t show up and so the class was taken over by a substitute teacher who, despite the fact he looked like a real nice person, wasn’t very gifted in the ways of capturing the student’s attentions. Once again, Amber’s mind floated away, this time clinging to the apparition of that white van near her house. She couldn’t help thinking that something unnatural was happening in her own chambers at that precise moment, another step of a cruel and fiendish plot… The Black Queen had instructed her to stay away because she wanted to install her eyes and ears in the sanctity of her house, creating a network of heavy surveillance to control her more easily! It made perfect sense. It’s exactly what she would have done if she were on the monarch’s shoes.
By the end of the second class of the day, Amber’s head was pretty messed up. She skipped her usual protein snack and sank heavily on a library chair, surrounded with all the books she could find on the ways of hypnosis.
What she read caused her great discomfort. For psychologists all around the world, hypnosis was no more than a technique of relaxation, used mainly for therapeutic purposes, such as awakening repressed memories of helping someone fight a nasty vice. In all of the processes described, the induced hypnotic state never tampered with the subject’s mind. Although a bit more susceptible to some suggestions, a person could not be forced to do something that went against the very nature of its conduct and ethic and moral standards were never jeopardised. No one could strip away another human being’s will-power just like that… the brain was a very complicated machine, with numerous built-in alarm systems to ensure that the conscious self was never removed from the picture.
The confrontation of the books written ‘scientific truth’ with what she had seen immediately caused a clash. If the power to overwhelm someone’s normal thoughts didn’t exist as it was claimed, then how on earth could The Black Queen manipulate all of those men with a single gesture? She was the living proof that the books were wrong and therefore they were useless in her quest. Feeling more and more discouraged, she left the library, looking down instead of looking forward, until she stumbled upon the one person she didn’t want to see that day. Sean looked at her, revealing a very faint smile. Even though it was the actual man standing in front of her, at first Amber only saw the slave portion of him, the one that had almost made her orgasm with the exquisite use of his tongue. Quickly, she banned that thought and confronted him with a stern expression. Tension was inevitable.
“Hello, Amber.” He said, not very sure of himself. “It’s been a while. How are you doing these days?”
“I’m fine, Sean.” She replied while trying to maintain a cool appearance. Deep emotions buried within her heart were revolting. Now that she had discovered the hidden truth behind his recent behaviour, all of the reasons to be mad at him had disappeared without a trace. Still, for everyone’s sake it was best to control her feelings… nothing in her actions could reveal her inner conflict and desire to hold him and smother his skin with kisses, saying everything was forgiven and forgotten…
“I’m glad to hear that. You deserve good things, much more than the ones I could give you…”
“Why are you saying that?”
“Well, because it’s true. I was never the right man for you. The more I think about it, the more I realize you did the right thing when you broke up with me. Even though the motive you claimed at the time still eludes me, we wouldn’t have gone very far as a couple…”
“I don’t want to talk of the past, Sean. What’s done is done. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m running late for my next class…”
“You’re right. I don’t know why I started saying these things in the first place. I also have a class to attend so. May be we can talk again soon… as friends?”
“May be. Goodbye, Sean.”
They parted ways without looking back but the conversation had already left its marks on each other’s hearts. Sean was grieving on the inside: everyone in college knew he was still in love with her and if he agreed to go out with Cheryl Johnson the night before it was only because she would continue harassing him until he said “yes”. As for Amber, the look in his eyes when he said he wasn’t good enough for her had felt like a stake piercing her heart. Did he actually believe that? Poor Sean! It wasn’t his fault that The Black Queen had beguiled him! If only that woman had never appeared in their lives!
During the rest of the day, she was silent and sad, engulfed in a sudden wave of despair. All of her natural beauty faded as if she had aged one hundred years in one hundred minutes. It was in this debilitated state of mind that she reached her house late in the afternoon. The white van was no longer in sight, its work completed many hours ago.
The activities that took place inside of it when everyone was gone were thorough and precise. Externally, everything looked pretty much the same, but it wasn’t so. The phone had been tapped, and her computer tampered so that The Black Queen could have access to all of her e-mails. A few cameras had also been secretly installed.
When she opened the door to her bedroom, the monitor of the computer was on. A new silver web cam stood on top of it and the internet connection was establishing a connection to an unknown site. On the video window, she saw the face of her mistress in a scarcely decorated, yet somewhat elegant, room. Sitting on a leather chair, she had David Mulder subserviently washing her feet with perfumed water. The Black Queen spoke first:
“Hello again, Amber. While you were at college I brought your house a little closer to mine. Since now you’re my student, I have to make sure my pupil is always acting accordingly. My teachings are very precious and I don’t tolerate any misuse of them. Now, be a dear and lock the door on the inside so we can talk without the risk of a sudden intrusion by one of your parents.”
“Yes, My Queen.”
She locked the door as instructed and sat as close to the camera as she could to listen more conscientiously to what the ruler had to say. The next sentence came shortly after.
“I’ve been thinking a lot on how this relationship of ours will work. I’m a very busy woman with lots of projects in my hands at the moment, and I can’t provide you with a face-to-face education as often as I wished, so we’re going to start with a few sessions like this. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 10 and 11 pm I want you sitting in front of the computer as you are right now so I can explain to you exactly what it is required of a true dominant female. I’ll share my knowledge and expertise with you by giving you the opportunity to witness a few more sessions of control and discipline. Slave David here will serve as test subject since I really cherish his services more than anyone else’s. Alongside with the web cam you now have installed in your computer, I’ve provided your house with a supersonic Internet connection so that we may talk in real time without delays and make the best of the lessons. Your family won’t pay any extra cent for this service, so you don’t have to worry about that.”
“Thank you, My Queen.”
“You’re welcome. When I feel you’re ready for a real test you’ll be allowed to come to my presence once more, where you’ll have the chance to practice all that you have learned in a fresh new slave specifically programmed for the occasion. Do this well and you may end up keeping it for your personal satisfaction.”
“I… I have no words to express my satisfaction. You’re giving me a great honour. I hope in the end I’m worthy enough to accept it!”
“I think you will. What I saw last night in your expression when Sean serviced you has led me to believe that all you need is a good guidance to express your inner strength. I’m not usually wrong in my gut feelings. Am I wrong about you, Amber?”
“No, My Queen, but if I may be allowed to inquire, why are you asking me this? How can I show you that what I said last night was truly meant?”
“Hmm… that’s a good question…yesterday I was a bit stressed with your interference to follow the necessary rituals. You said you were with me, yet there was no actual oath of allegiance, was there? As a Queen, I’m sure you understand how much these things mean to me. Kneel before the computer and repeat these words: The Black Queen is power, The Black Queen is control…”
Amber knelt as the words came to life in her lips:
“The Black Queen is power, The Black Queen is control… From this moment on and until death befalls me I will devote myself to the satisfaction of her biddings and obey without question for she is the supreme female dominant, the most powerful of all women.”
“Very good. This concludes our talk of the day. I’ll see you again in two day. Right now, I have some urgent sexual needs to be attended…”
The image of the sovereign faded into blackness but Amber didn’t get up right away. Her legs felt very heavy as though they were in need of a word of release before moving again. She couldn’t quite grasp how she was letting that woman grow more and more in her, confusing her soul as to its true goals. It was her mother’s voice that urged her to get up. Downstairs, Linda Watkins was shouting:
“Your friend Veronica is here to see you, Amber! Can I send her to your bedroom or are you coming down?”
“Tell her to wait in the living-room and I’ll be there shortly, okay?”
“Sure thing, dear!”
Amber pulled herself together and proceeded to meet her friend, with her mind filled with dozens of excuses to put an end to the conversation if things started to go awfully wrong. It had been strange confronting Sean that morning but Veronica would be even harder to face if she was in one of those days where questions kept popping out of her mouth with no apparent control. She knew her good enough to perceive that the limits of her persistency were as close to infinity as were the limits of her kindness. If she wasn’t careful enough, her friend could end up being caught in the turmoil as well and who knew what the consequences of what would be….
Veronica managed to surprise her by not talking a single time about the events of the day before. There was no explicit or implicit reference to the fact that she had been ignored after almost begging to talk to her and, if the fact had troubled her (which Amber firmly believed it did…), she never showed it. All that she saw in the hour they spent together were smiles upon smiles caused by something she had heard of before but had never had witnessed first hand: Veronica liked to say that her voice could change dramatically when affected by a sudden outburst of emotions like an unexpected crush on somebody, making her look silly every time she opened her mouth. Well, that’s exactly what happened that day. Out of the blue, Veronica had met a sweet guy at the cafeteria where she usually had breakfast and an unexpected chemistry began to unravel some of the most wanted mysteries of the universe in front of her eyes.
“I never felt like this before” she said at the end of her fifteen minute opening speech. “It’s strange but I really think he could be the one I’ve been looking for all this time.
“Aren’t you being hasty in your judgment?” Amber asked whilst raising a suspicious eyebrow. “After all, you’ve met the guy a couple of hours ago…”
“I know,” whispered Veronica “but the moment we started talking, I felt like I knew him since always, as if he was my soul mate, someone I cared deeply for in another life and I now had the chance to relive that happiness once again… It was really intense!”
Amber had never had the opportunity to feel something as powerful and vivid as the heartfelt experience her friend was confiding and for a moment she actually felt jealous of her. Jealous of her sudden discovery of what could be some form of transcendental love while at the same time her life was completely being changed by the revelations of a woman to whom she had just sworn allegiance… without consciously realizing it, she allowed her mind to drift yet again into that part of her brain where the remnants of all the articles about hypnosis she had read that morning awaited her.
She wanted so hard to believe that mental domination like the one she had seen The Black Queen exert was no more than a trick, a series of special effects like in the movies, but then Sean’s empty gaze would appear before her mind’s eye to ruin her false sense of safety and shred whatever faith she still had inside.
“Amber, are you listening to me?” retorted Veronica all of a sudden.
“Yes…” she said in reply. “Those are wonderful news, Veronica! I’m happy for you… really!”
“Not as happy as I am, that’s for sure! Ah, love is truly a magnificent thing, isn’t it? Sure, it can be harsh sometimes but its sweetness is one of life’s greatest rewards, if not the greatest of them all!”
“You’re absolutely right…” Amber had to agree, and that thought was a source of comfort that continued to sooth her spirit even after Veronica was long gone.
On that night, right after dinner, Amber went for a walk in a nearby park, enjoying the sweet caresses of the northern breeze on her cheeks, laughing flippantly on the inside when the same invisible gusts of wind messed with her hair. A bit of shallowness and superficiality felt good at the moment, to keep her mind from worrying about the two men behind her: sleepwalking servants of The Black Queen simply responding to her regal magnificence and making sure her protégé always stayed on the path chosen, and at plain sight in order to easily restrain her movements and social interactions if needed be.
Without any other purpose imprinted to their actions than to trail after Amber, the two slaves always maintained the same distance, stopping when she stopped and resuming their oblivious walk the moment she placed one foot after the other. A quick acceleration of pace from the red-haired girl was rapidly compensated by the heavy footsteps of her pursuers, and if she looked the other way, they would do so, too. In this giant puppet show of life and death, love and hate, freedom and control, no one knew for sure how the story would end.