Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Becoming Brainy (chapter 1)

~ Nicole ~

Quickly navigating the aged, uneven sidewalk, and shielding the brown portfolio case containing candidates’ files from drops falling from leaves soaked in last night’s thunderstorm, Nicole heard the wind whistle past another pink flyer stapled to the nearby telephone pole. She groaned aloud. It was another sign that Will decided it was time to move on to the next stage of their project, completely disregarding the legitimate points she argued the previous evening. She knew what was coming up next – dozens of naïve, helpless applicants and their off-the-wall, sometimes ludicrous phone calls. No, we can’t solve your weight problem. Yes, we are doctors, but not that kind. Nicole sighed inwardly. It was a clear end to the quiet, controlled environment she had enjoyed, but in the big picture, the annoyance was probably worth it. She knew the stakes were much higher than her temporary, mundane discomfort.

Of course today’s ominous storm clouds were made more damning this morning by the simple fact that she was running late for work, again. “What a crappy day,” she muttered while trying to formulate a decent excuse for this day’s tardiness. Nicole’s reasons always sounded lame, even to her, and Will was sure to jump all over her. It was his pet peeve. Her tardiness habit had to stop. Maybe there’s a program for THAT, Nicole wondered. She pulled open the front glass door and walked into the entry where Will was waiting casually at her workstation.

When she was hired, she had thought him to be kind of a wise old man, the ideal mentor for any graduate student. His prestige was always a great asset for their research. Organizational red tape seemed to dissolve when Will Freeman made the phone call. Now after a couple years she knew him much better and found some of his flaws cute and others troubling. In response to the concern, she reasoned that everyone had secrets, and she chose to hold those cards close until a time that was right to play them.

“Hey Nicole, glad you decided to show up today,” said a smug Will with a slight jab. “Think you can get settled in to start taking phone calls, writing notes, and meeting the interested ladies?” With the word ladies, he changed his tone to something that would be used at a chic downtown night club.

And should he need to be gloating, she thought. “I can handle it,” she said, bristling in response while swiping a stray strand of brown hair from her forehead. “We are not ready to move forward. I’m going to say this again. The lab animal tests were inconclusive, at best, and the data modeling has not been promising. Either we’ll get no results, or we’ll pay for some bad results. We should be waiting and you should not have posted those flyers.”

Will shrugged at her concern. “The word is everywhere now- phone poles, grocery stores, on corkboards near apartment mailboxes, at the dormitories. Additionally, we can’t wait,” said Will, adjusting his posture to seem more understanding as he followed her to her desk. “Look, I know you have reservations. But you need to remember that funding is the lifeblood of our research, so when we get close to running out of dollars, that means our time is almost up too. The longer we stay on animal testing and data modeling, the more dollars we burn up in those stages. You do like getting paid, don’t you?”

“Please don’t talk to me like that,” Nicole responded softly as she peered down to notice the flashing red ‘messages’ indicator on her phone. She was ready to diffuse the situation. “Of course I need the money, but you saw what was happening with the chimps and you know that the data modeling revealed no possible correction or any way to avoid it. It’s one thing to change the minds of female primates, but we’re not talking about that anymore. Now we’re going to alter the very complex and unpredictable brains of humans and-”

“If it works,” interrupted Will.

“Of course it will work,” Nicole snapped as she raised her voice and felt her face begin to flush. Diffusing was becoming less of a possibility. “This is a very strong modification process and-“

“Okay, okay, okay. Cool down. Let’s not repeat a debate that we already had,” Will said. After a deep breath he continued, “Look, I ran through the finances last night and it doesn’t look good. If we don’t move on, we’ll be stuck with no way to raise new money. Investors love the human trials; they get real excited about it. We need that new money, Nicole, or you’re unemployed and I’m back lecturing in front of a group of half-alert underclassmen. Neither of us wants that.”

No, I definitely don’t want that, thought Nicole as she began to cool. The possibility of not being able to pay the bills due to losing her first real job was a setback she would do anything to avoid. Well, nearly anything. It was nice to purchase the higher quality clothing and makeup and still be able to put some cash away for a rainy day. Yeah, she wanted to keep this job for a while.

“Alright,” she mumbled. “What’s next?”

“Glad you’re back on board,” said Will with a clap and a smile. He put his hand on the small of her back and guided her towards her chair. “Now, let’s start getting our ducks in a row. It looks like you have some inquiries already. Write up a template to help you respond to those phone calls and let’s begin adding to our portfolio of qualified candidates. To be sure we’re on the same page, what criteria have we prioritized for these candidates?”

Nicole wasn’t in the mood to be quizzed, but she went along. “We’re looking for women between the ages of 18 and 35 who have been in an emotionally, sexually, or physically abusive relationship with a man sometime in the last 2 years. They need to express a desire to move on from those experiences,” replied Nicole. “Oh, and they also need to be physically fit and not on any long-term medications including anti-depressants,” she said, recalling the additional qualifiers that were added by Will at the last minute. She heartily approved the additional criteria and if she didn’t want the same thing, she might have questioned his intentions.

“Exactly,” responded Will with an approving nod. “Hey, I know you’re worried. You know that my goal is to give the women who need this help a chance at a better life. Like you said, along the way we may need to make adjustments. For those changes, didn’t we leave plenty of wiggle room to do more programming customization?”

“Yes,” Nicole replied. She wanted Will to think she had not worked with the software much. The truth was she knew the variables that she could introduce to the programming were countless.

“So if you notice that we’re heading in the wrong direction, I know that you will make the needed adjustments. Besides, sometimes failure is the best teacher,” said Will as he turned to leave her work station.

Nicole blinked and shuddered inwardly. She recalled what she and Will discovered the treated female chimps doing to the non-treated female chimps in their shared pen. It was bad. Even worse was what happened to the boy chimps. They didn’t stand a chance. As Will said, he had confidence that she would make sure that type of situation did not happen again. She felt a twinge of uncertainty, however, in her ability to follow through.

- Will -

Well, that went better than expected, reflected Will as he entered his office and settled into the cool, black leather-bound chair behind his large executive desk. Though she appeared innocent and soft, Nicole can be a real fireball. He had not seen it often over the two years working together, but occasionally some situation really pushes her over the edge. That’s why he needed to stand firm on moving forward. Yeah, the money is an issue, but even more importantly, more time will help her concerns fade into the past.

With new confidence that their lab partnership was ready to move on, Will knew it was time to open up the paths to new funding. Logging into the University network, he located the “Research Central” database, clicked on his name and then the project name, “Empathy and Empowerment,” or ENE.

Clicking into the Project Update page, Will began providing answers to the most unoriginal inquisition that he had ever been subjected to. What stage did you just complete? What are you doing next? Please provide your impressions on the directions of the project. Are you pleased with the current progress? Why or why not?

It was all simple basic stuff until he arrived at the question “What have you observed that may jeopardize the original intentions of your project?” He paused and furrowed his brow. Will wanted to type “Nothing observed” and be done with it, but one phone call from the Dean’s office to young, naive Nicole would prove that there wasn’t much truth to “nothing observed”. There was an issue, a big issue, but he had to answer in such a way that he didn’t put all of his funding, or the whole project, at risk. He began to anxiously tap his pen against the wooden desktop. It was one of his jitter habits that condemned his amateur poker prowess to only minimal winnings on Friday nights. The guys told him it was his ‘tell’ when something was stressing him out.

Will thought back to the activity they witnessed. To start, certain female chimpanzees were selected to be treated with injectable drugs and subjected to visual stimulation. In the early phases, the results were positive. The treated females were ignoring and rejecting the instinctual sexual advances of the untreated males in their pen, as if they had vowed a life of celibacy with no interest in breeding or sexual physical contact. Nicole continued the treatment at the same dosage and exposure level for at least two weeks and around day 16, something mental snapped in the treated females. At the beginning of that day, it was just one female, but soon the others were following suit. The treated females began getting sexually frisky with the untreated females. The following day the behavior had turned into undeniable sexual assault. As the majority of the untreated females responded favorably to the advances, the treated female chimps’ preference for female-to-female stimulation became insatiable and non-stop. That was a complete departure from instinctual breeding activities. The untreated female chimps that rejected the advances, which were in the minority, were physically harmed by the sexually hungry females. There was biting, clawing, and ultimately some form of sexual domination taken out onto the untreated females. Will had insisted that Nicole continue the treatments as planned, much to her concern and his curiosity. After taking only 24 hours to conquer the untreated females, the modified girls turned on the males. After reviewing the video recordings, not one male was left unscathed. Every treated female engaged in peculiar, complex patterns of seduction, trickery, and finally sexual domination. The poor boys had to submit to every whim of the sexually charged females just to survive. They were barely shells of primate masculinity by the end of the whole episode.
It all upset Nicole, who felt guilty and responsible since she was the one who delivered the continuing treatments. She said that even though the female-on-female part of the affair disturbed her, the strange interactions that led to the males’ submission were more disturbing. The affection between the females could be tolerated, but the domination of the males was out of bounds for her. At the thought, Will felt a peculiar twinge in the pit of his stomach and perspiration began to form on his forehead. He needed to not dwell on it any longer.

Nicole informed him that the specific trigger for the behavior would be nearly impossible to find. He responded unconcerned by saying “You’ll just modify the solution and the programming and this will all work out.” It was clear his desire was to see how this scenario ended.

Glancing back at the screen, he set his clammy hands on the keyboard. “Nothing observed at this time,” typed Will. All of this needed to stay hidden. If Nicole brought it up again, they will have to have a firm manager-employee discussion. Maybe having that little tart in the hot seat, squirming under his grilling, wouldn’t be such a bad thing, whispered the carnal corners of his mind.

Will entered his name, date, employee number, and then scrolled down to click “Submit.”

“There’s a bit of irony,” he said as he clicked the button. The real question is “who will be submitting to whom?” he thought.

A tapping at his office door interrupted his train of thought. And there she is, Will thought, as he motioned his young lab assistant into his office.

“Will, I’ve decided that I’m going to stay solution-focused and move forward with you,” declared Nicole, speaking in a sweet conciliatory tone as she walked toward him. “And on that note, I’ve begun narrowing down the list of callers that have already reached me today. There were twenty-four messages; here are the top ten candidates with their own files. I’ve incorporated the best ones from our earlier research too. I think there are some real promising girls in here.” She placed the files onto his desk with the name tabs facing him. He nearly touched her delicate hands as he reached for the records to read the name.

“Also,” Nicole continued, “do you mind if I put in some late hours to see test some new modifications with the new batch of chimps we received this morning?”

“Sure, that’s great,” said Will. “What was done with our first group?”

“As you instructed, I extracted blood samples from each animal and labeled it according to treatment status and behavior. Those are in the lab cooler. Additionally, I had the animals themselves removed from the facility,” Nicole stated, knowing that Will was not interested in the details and probably glad she remained vague. It was no small or enjoyable task to remove twenty chimpanzees from the place they considered their home.

“That’s good,” he replied.

As Nicole turned to leave, Will let his eyes scan her physical profile. He had no regrets in hiring her. The bright 24-year-old brought an energetic and curious mind, far beyond what most students exemplified in the classroom. She cares about her work, observed Will, and more importantly, she also takes good care of herself. Without the professional adornment of lab lenses and a white lab coat, he was now able to check her over, settling on her well-formed butt encased in stylish jeans. Although she had not spent any time in the sun, Will wanted a piece of that candy. He felt himself begin to stir. It was enjoyable to ramp himself up in these moments.

When Nicole unexpectedly glanced back, Will kept his gaze, not fearing if she caught him. Even this stolen morsel is more than I’m getting at home, he rationalized. Though quite attractive and a consensus physical trophy, his wife, Beth, was as frigid as the arctic winter towards him. She always seemed to be angry at him about something and because of that, she intentionally went to bed earlier than he did. She never waited up for him. There hadn’t been any intimacy of note for a while. Therefore, he could either relieve his fleshly tension in front of his computer late into the night, or direct those energies into productivity at the lab and stealing the occasional visual nugget off his pretty assistant.

“Is there something else you want?” Nicole asked with school-girl innocence as his testosterone-riddled mind transformed the casual inquiry into a husky sensual tone. For the split second, he saw her brunette hair up in pigtails, a black form-fitting skirt that ended mid-thigh, and a white blouse that was unbuttoned two levels beyond modesty.

Oh yes, thought Will. “No.” He paused. “Well, actually that’s not true. Look, Nicole, I really want you to believe in our De-Link treatment, that it’s going to protect women throughout our community. These candidates are going to be able to sense whether you’re a believer or not and it will probably influence the results.” He wondered how much of this employer mumbo-jumbo he would have believed himself if it wasn’t for what happened to his sister several years before. If only he could have saved her.

“Don’t worry, Will,” replied Nicole, tilting her face and sweeping the stray lock of hair out of her way. “I do believe in our ability to use the De-Link treatment to give these women better lives. I know your trying your best. Just trying to be cautious, that’s all.”

Will thought of a different slant. “I was wondering something. Have you ever watched the visual De-Link software all the way through?” he asked, under the assumption that neither of them had any time over the last three months to review the vendor-produced software.

Nicole hesitated in her response. “I’ve tweaked parts of it, but no, I haven’t. If you mean have I sat down and experienced it? No. I haven’t yet, that is. Why do you ask?” she said, shifting her weight from one foot to the other and giving Will a view of her inquisitive green eyes as she replied.

“Maybe you should check it out,” Will suggested, staring right into her glassy green orbs. “It may give you more insight into the process. You know, maybe it will be easier to relate to the candidates we select.”

“Well, if you think it’ll be helpful, I’ll try it out sometime,” Nicole said, trying to hide the flutter in her breathing. “That may be a good use of some of those evening hours I have in I’ve added to my future.”

“A little more intuition like that will help you be a better researcher,” repeated Will as Nicole headed out of the room. After she left, he pulled his sweaty hands out of hiding and dried them on his pants legs.

  < Beth >

Why unloading the groceries, a seemingly simple task, did feel much more laborious? When there is a good chance one would be dining alone, thought Beth. Then it’s just drudgery. With a ‘hrmphf’ she placed the last grocery bag onto the kitchen countertop and leaned back to take a breath.

“I bet he’s going to be late. Again,” she muttered out loud. “I agree to be the good housewife, keep the KING’s castle tidy and his social network humming, going to all the parties and receptions, and HIS HIGHNESS doesn’t even have the courtesy to be home on time.”

The rant continued in her mind until after the groceries were put away. She then made herself a quick cup of chamomile tea and relaxed in her favorite sofa chair. She released another sigh. “I sure would like more than just this,” Beth said to herself. Her soft hands slid down well-defined calves to reach and loosen the black leather three-inch heeled sandals that she’d been wearing. These were worn, like her entire outfit, to keep up appearances, even at places as common as the grocery store.

With neither children nor the financial need to work outside the home, Beth had agreed to be Will’s social conduit, as skill which he sorely lacked. For the well-known university researcher, she maintained pleasantries with all the influential and wealthy people across town. With her beauty she quickly earned the ‘trophy wife’ label. Though they were close in age, he appeared rougher around the edges and looked older, while she maintained her youthful vitality. Keeping her fresh look while also balancing community engagement demanded energy to work out, designate time to acquire the necessary spa and facial treatments and take part in social coffees and fundraising efforts. She was willing to put on the fake, plastic smile and do what had to be done to keep whoever she met connected to her husband and an ambiguous description of his endeavors.

Inevitably the question “What kind of research does he do, exactly?” would come up in conversation. Her patent response, every time, was “He has so many projects going on. You’ll really have to ask him. Would you like his number?” At that point, her primary job was done and hook was planted. They nearly always accepted the information and, with the business conversation over, they would move on to other things.

‘Other things’, she quickly found out, covered a wide range of activities and pursuits, from the socially palatable to the decadently perverse. The wealthy and influential dabbled in philanthropy, helping hungry children, sheltering animal, and saving environments, because these efforts were trumpeted by most everybody in their university-focused community. Then there was the less-than-socially acceptable quests. As Beth thought about the other end of the spectrum, which included all sorts of sexual deviance and pleasure chasing, her heart began to race. Thoughts and memories began surfacing from a lifetime ago; a time no one in Beth’s current life knew existed.

If the women that she encountered met one of two important criteria- they either had money or she liked spending time with them- then she stayed in touch. The others were quickly forgotten. If they only had money, the plastic smile and a listening ear came in handy. It often felt like odd customs of old European aristocracy, to charm and to plot, which it basically was. And through it all, by eventually finding research donors and investors, Will’s trophy wife was always able to save his financial day and fiscal future.

Her cup of chamomile had run dry and her daydream faded away. Focusing on her next task, she walked over and scooped up the pile of mail from the countertop. “Let’s see what we have here. Bill, bill, credit card, new dentist in town, flyer, letter from the University for Will, grocery ads,” Beth rambled.
Then she paused and shuffled the stack back to the flyer. That didn’t arrive in the mail. Until now she had forgotten the item she pulled off the community bulletin board as she exited through the grocery store breezeway. The summons was declared loud and clear on an oversized pink cardstock postcard:

Women, Do You Want a Change?
Have you ever been emotionally or physically damaged by a man? Are you troubled by your desire for him even after his behavior? Are you ready to pull away from him emotionally but just can’t find the will to do it?
University researchers have begun the experimental program “Empathy and Empowerment.” This treatment has been designed to benefit women like YOU. Call us to see if you fit the profile of a high-potential candidate. You can leave a message for Nicole at (555) 5DE-LINK. She’ll call you back.
With our help, You can make the change.


At the bottom of the flyer, in the usual small print, Beth read “There is no charge to you to take part in this program. The Empathy and Empowerment: De-Link treatment program has been determined to be completely safe by our special board of University Directors and Scientists.”

Beth stared at the questions on the card. He’s never hurt me physically, but isn’t she’s experiencing emotional abuse? And why do I want Will so much after this neglect? Is it because I’m needy or broken? He repulses me and I continue to want him, my body craves his touch. Maybe I am messed up. Maybe it would be good to not desire him so much. If I get these feelings under control, then I won’t be so vulnerable to his neglect and heartlessness. Then I can protect myself.

She walked over to look at herself in the nearby mirror. The 30’s may be catching up to her, but through hard work and dedication, and some good luck, she still retained most of her college coed looks. Beth was pleased that her eyes and face had remained sharp and penetrating. Slipping the straps of her loose-fitting sundress off her tanned shoulders, she disrobed leaving just her cotton and lace panties in place and gazed back in the mirror. She slid her hands alongside her hips. They weren’t too wide, Beth observed, but wider than 10 years ago. They were the hips of a woman, not a girl. She turned and gazed upon her butt, still firm and shapely, like a perfect peach. Men liked to stare at that part of her, one part she was most comfortable using it to her advantage. It cost her nothing to put it on display, and gained her much. Her palms slid to her stomach. It was soft, but flat with a little tone. Not so bad, she thought. Her hands continued up to her cup her breasts, the definitive pride of her body. Although her calves were nice, and her butt was impressive, Beth was most proud of her ‘girls’. Unlike many of the women she knew, her ‘girls’ had never been treated by a cosmetic surgeon. They were all natural, and each breast was big enough to escape the cover of her hands and create admirable cleavage. Cleavage was a powerful tool when the circumstances called for it. She had used the advantage in dealing with both men and women as she did with her other assets.

“Very nice,” she whispered as she looked at herself in the reflective glass. While cupping her full breasts, she gave in to a bit of temptation and pinched her rosebud nipples, sending the electric signal that began to awaken the flower between her legs. Arousing her pink, soft chest tissue was always the green light for hours of self-pleasuring. As expected, her body was beginning to respond now as it had in the past. She gasped on the second pinch as she gazed upon her face and saw a reflection of a past self who was more seductress than socialite.

She closed her eyes and took a deep, cleansing breath. “Now’s not the time,” she admonished herself as her hands fell from her delicate orbs. Although she wanted to feel the fire and the eroticism running violently through her skin, she chose to maintain control.

Turning from the mirror, Beth walked over to the counter. As she leaned over, feeling her ‘girls’ sway away from her, she picked up the pink oversized postcard. Coming down from her erotic appetizer, she grinned.

The voice in the back of her mind told her this is going to be a good idea. It’s the way things need to be. Beth became convinced that whoever this Nicole girl was, she would be hearing from a woman in need of some serious therapy. She picked up the phone to dial.




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