"Enough of the huggin'. Let's kill 'em."
Booger, "Revenge of the Nerds II - Nerds in Paradise"
MASTER AND SLAVE
by Roy Stead
The day was drawing to a close and the light was failing. As the
glow of the night lamp receded, Jenny was filled with a terrible
sense of dread as she realised that it would return to plague her
again that night, attacking her with its awful visions once more
as it attempted to swamp her senses and confuse her mind long
enough to take it over as it had all those years before, when she
was eight years old.
That time, she had only the words of other people to tell her
what had happened, the three days being blanked from her own
memory. Apparently, her younger body had killed two people. Two
ordinary, innocent people had died because Jenny had been unable
to resist the advances of the thing which, she now knew without
any doubt, was to return to plague her this night.
Jenny's parents were dead. It had killed them, using her body as
its weapon. She had no idea what it was, or where it had come
from, but she somehow had the knowledge that it wanted to kill
again, this time making use of her older form for its purposes.
Jenny began to sweat.
Three hours later, it struck. Jenny was reaching across to her
bedside table for another mug of coffee to help her remain awake,
when she felt its presence. The five senses heard, saw, felt,
tasted and smelt nothing, but some more primitive ability knew
that it had arrived. The coffee. piping hot and still in its
flask, wafted its scent to her nose, but that sense was ignored
for the moment. She turned her head slowly to the left, away from
the flask, and it was there that she saw it.
The room had faded, not into blackness but into non-existence.
Her blind spot had expanded to fill her entire field of view. To
find your own blind spot, put two dots close together on a blank
sheet of paper and hold it at arms length. Focus on one dot, then
move the paper slowly toward your eyes and, at one point, the
other dot will seem to vanish. This is your blind spot. Now try
to imagine that blind spot growing until it is all you can see -
or, rather, not see.
Jenny stared at it. Not because she wanted to, but because she
could see nothing else. Her mind simply refused to see anything
outside of the creature's form. If she moved her head, it still
filled her entire view. Either it's form was very distorted, or
the blind spot was simply absorbing her vision and stretching
what little she could see - the creature - to fill in the blanks
which her mind refused to see. In either case, what Jenny saw was
an oddly proportioned cat. The Cheshire Cat's grin would have
been positively comforting beside that face.
"Hello again," it grinned, "Are you ready to play again?" The
words were not spoken. Neither did they echo in her mind. Rather,
the grin somehow conveyed something to her. The thing did not
bother with speech, or even telepathy. It seemed to think that
such activities were beneath it, preferring to rely on this more
direct form of communication instead.
"No." The force behind this single syllable astonished Jenny at
first, shocking her that her hatred of the cat-like form before
her could be so vehemently and graphically expressed in a single
The thing (Jenny could not bring herself to call it anything
else - to give it a name would be to accept its existence, and
she wanted nothing more than for it not to be) grinned at her. No
message this time, it simply grinned. I hate to abuse an old
cliche, but this grin was Evil. With a capital 'E.' It seemed to
be unsurprised at the woman's defiance. Perhaps it had known that
she was expecting it, and ready and willing to fight. That grin
disquieted Jenny: it seemed to know the future, and burned into
her mind as a hot poker into net curtain. The message spread like
wildfire in Jenny's brain: "Give up. You cannot win."
Jenny stared at it - not that she had a choice - and glared
defiance at its mind with all her power. Did it flinch? It seemed
to. Though perhaps it was her imagination. There - that was no
imagination. The thing recoiled from her, as though stung by her
mind. Quickly rallying, however, it attempted to leap toward her.
Not toward her bed, which she could not feel or see, nor toward
her body. But, rather, toward the very her of her. That part of
her which religious people might call her 'soul'.
Jenny's mind stayed, unflinching, against the onslaught. The
last thing she saw before unconsciousness claimed her was its
grin fading into disbelief, then the entire cat vanishing with a
surprised expression on its face...
"Yes, but does it work?"
"We can't be sure, nurse, but it certainly appears to. Not a
single patient given this treatment has showed any symptoms of
mental disorder again. You are familiar with the theory?" A nod
from the nurse, but an encouraging nod - perhaps he would ask if
she was doing anything that night. "Well, we hypnotise the
patient, and encourage him or her to personify their disorder.
Then, there is a showdown between the conscious mind and the - in
this case, paranoid - mentality. The conscious wins, and expels
the illness. Simple, but effective. The patient sleeps for a day
or two, then returns to society cured."
"But, doctor, what happens if the illness wins ?"
"I can't win. The conscious mind always has more power." A
puzzled frown, creeping across his forehead, the doctor turned to
the one-way mirror to look at the sleeping Jenny. "It can't win,"
he repeated, as if to reassure himself, "Yet, there was something
odd about this one..."
Jenny woke up, screaming. Darkness lay about her, and -
somewhere Out There - she could sense the thing, gloating. It's
grinning visage swam into view, filling her heart with dread. The
grin was saying, "Now who is master and who is slave?"
(c) 18/4/90 Roy Stead
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.