Project Puppetmaster

by ReverendS


Barry was hacker. It was how he made his money, it was how he spent his spare time, it was how he spent practically every waking moment. He had been doing it since the age of twelve, and he was one of the best by the time he was fifteen, and he was still the best now as he passed twenty five.

He had been in the private information business for so long, he was used to uncovering surprising secrets and unknown truths. From public access town records to top secret government files, he had hacked and obtained more information then most people normally absorb in a lifetime. With that being said, he was jaded enough that he was convinced he had seen it all, that there was nothing left to discover that would could truly shock him. He was wrong.

It was a routine assignment from one of his corporate clients that changed his life forever, hacking into classified military files for information to give them an advantage in the latest multi-billion dollar construction contract bidding war. Previous costs, siphoned funds, actual budget restrictions, that sort of thing. He had just finished accessing and downloading the requested stats, and was just casually nosing around the system before vacating when he stumbled across a file with a bunch of Weensville address scattered throughout the info pile. Curious, he flash-loaded the entire file and got out before the security measures discovered he was in there. It wasn't until a week later that he actually took the time to look at them.

It probably shouldn't have come as a shock to Barry that his home town was part of a vast top secret mind control experiment. But it did.

Barry spent most of that evening and the entire night sitting up in his bedroom/work station with a pot of coffee, pouring over the files meticulously. By the time he had drudged through the back-history of the experiments and read the updates on its current status, morning had arrived unnoticed. Getting to the heart of the matter was a long and difficult process, as military documents weren't exactly written like stereo manuals. But eventually he was able to get a clear picture of what was going on.

The project was called Operation Puppetmaster, and Weensville was the subject of the study. An ongoing experiment since the early sixties, the project involved the goal of brain-washing and then controlling large groups of people. Towns. Cities. Armies. The applications were limitless, and terrifyingly so.

It consisted of two phases: brain-washing the populace, then commanding them through mind-control. The first phase was multi-faceted in its approach, involving chemical additives introduced into food supplies and water sources, subliminal messages saturating public channels and local cable providers, and subversive propaganda techniques utilized in public schools and local government-run companies, of which there were many in the small town. Through these methods, the subconscious was trained to become complete responsive to outside influence, which could then be easily triggered by a pre-programmed series of passwords. After that, the subject would enter something very similar to a hypnotic state, completely under the control of their new "Puppetmaster".The commands were specifically designed to avoid accidental activation. When asked to spell "Chimera", anyone primed for mind control would instinctively answer with "I beg your pardon, Billy?". The correct response to this reply was "Orchid Ice Cream", which would trigger the hypnotic response. Any other answer, such as repeating the question, or asking who Billy was, would cancel the trigger, and the hypnotic response would not take effect. But once activated, it remained activated, the "Puppet" being completely open and obliviously obedient to any and all direction.

The project was a huge success, but it had hit a brick wall nearly five years ago, when the scientists involved discovered two major flaws that negated any practical military application.

First of all, once activated by a Puppetmaster, the Puppet could only be manipulated by the person who initially triggered the response. All attempts to transfer command or re-trigger subjects failed miserably. Barry couldn't begin to understand the complex psychological double-speak, but it apparently had something to do with confusing the subconscious mind.

Second, and more important, was the ease at which the subjects could be deprogrammed. Once they were made aware of the code words and their desired effect, all programming was instantly negated, as the conscious mind informed the subconscious mind, which promptly tore down the walls of the entire program. This meant Barry had technically already deprogrammed himself, a small relief overshadowed by the bigger picture.

In some ways, the town was safe, since the project was abandoned. But, in true military fashion, the town wasn't deprogrammed, but merely put in a holding pattern, in case the citizens could ever be made useful in the near future.

It was this last part that scared Barry, because he knew the only thing they'd be useful as at this point was programmed killers, those brainwashed lone assassins you hear conspiracy nuts talk about all the time. Barry knew he had to do something, but he didn't know what. At first he thought of running to the press, but they wouldn't believe him, even with the documentation. And even if they did, the government would probably bump him off before they could break the story, most likely having one of his own programmed townsfolk do the dirty work.

Deprogramming seemed easy enough, and he could probably take out ad space on a local channel or in the newspaper and let everybody deprogram themselves like he had, just reading about it. But that was just as risky as alerting the media. There seemed to be no way out.

Barry eventually staggered downstairs and into the kitchen in search of more coffee, his brain hurting from the stress of the situation, his mind awash with conspiracy theories and desperate planning. He couldn't figure out what to do. He was so engrossed in the dilemma that he nearly dropped his fresh cup of coffee when he walked in on his sister and mother exercising in the living room.

Barry still lived with his mother, Helen, and he was comfortable with the situation, even if other people weren't. His father had died when he was just a boy, and so he had been the man of the house since then. He had felt a little guilty about moving out and leaving his mother all alone, and so he just never moved out. His bedroom still looked like he was a High School student, if you ignored the thousands of dollars worth of high tech computer equipment, but he didn't feel like he was living under her wing or avoiding adulthood. He managed to pay all the bills so his mother could work part time and take college courses (her new passion), and she kept the house neat and saved him the trouble of having to adapt to the outside world. It was an ideal situation, and he felt no need to escape.

His sister Nancy, on the other hand, had desperately wanted to escape, and did so. She currently lived on campus at the state college located two towns over, but managed to visit them every weekend. She and Helen hadn't gotten along when she was younger, but now they were growing quite close, and were getting into the Mother/Daughter relationship, which was one of the reasons Helen had started taking college courses. The whole bonding thing left Barry a little cold, but that was probably because he still didn't get along with Nancy. Even though he was five years her senior, she still looked at him as a computer geek loser and a mommy's boy, and she rarely hesitated to say so. He'd tried to explain it to her, but she was so deep into social groups and the night life that the idea of wanting to work in seclusion was practically an alien concept to her.

Nancy would come over early Saturday morning and work out with Helen, their new fitness craze that was another part of the bonding process, and that was what they were doing when he walked in on them. Barry usually made it a habit of avoiding contact with them until the afternoon, knowing how much their time together meant to them, but he had completely forgotten what day it was. He let out a yelp when he almost tripped over them, as they were on the floor stretching when he wandered in.

"Hey pumpkin!" His mother looked up and smiled at him, still stretching. "Imagine seeing you before noon! What's the special occasion?" Nancy looked up at him as well, minus the smile. She seemed a little annoyed that he was there.

Barry struggled to respond, but he was overcome by the thought that his family was under somebody else's control, unwitting slaves of Project Puppetmaster. Paranoia washed over him, and he found himself blurting out the first code word. He just had to know.

"Hey guys, how do you spell Chimera?"

The both stopped stretching and look up at him again. No noticeable change took place, and they still looked and sounded normal. But it was almost eerie the way they both replied "I beg your pardon, Billy?" in unison.

Relief washed over him, and he dropped into a nearby chair. Not only was he not crazy, but his mother and sister weren't under somebody's control. As he sat rubbing his temples, he noticed that they were both still staring at him expectantly, waiting for the next code word. He was about to disarm the trigger, but the program's flaws suddenly occurred to him. If he triggered it himself, then nobody else would be able to take them over! They'd be safe!

"Orchid Ice Cream" he said to them hesitantly, afraid of the implications of what he was doing. The minute they heard the second code word, they started stretching again. Barry just stared at them, wondering what would happen next. They stopped and confronted him again after a minute or two.

"What's wrong, dear," his mother asked. "Cat got your tongue?"

"Yeah, why are you acting so weird?" His sister chimed in, challenging him as usual. "Is there a reason you're sitting there watching us?"

Barry suddenly felt very uncomfortable in the same room with them, but he couldn't bring himself to move. Facing the reality of the situation had lifted a huge weight off his mind, but it had also let the exhaustion of an all-nighter creep in, and he couldn't muster the strength to get up. Perhaps the lack of sleep was screwing with his judgement, but he decided now was as good a chance as any to see how this mind-control stuff really worked.

"Just ignore me," he told them. "Go back to your exercise routine, and pretend I'm not even here."

Without a moment of hesitation, they both went right back into their routine, ignoring him completely. He tested them out, clearing his throat and coughing a couple of times in an attempt to get their attention, but they didn't even flinch. As far as they were concerned, he wasn't there.

Thankful for the silence, he began to think things through. His impulse to keep his mother and sister free from someone else's control had given him an idea. He couldn't risk telling people about Project Puppetmaster, because people would talk about it, and then the government would catch on and do something about it. Perhaps something drastic. However, triggering people meant they were immune to others controlling them, and that was how he could protect the town. All he had to do was trigger the town himself, one person at a time. That way, if they ever decided to put the project into effect, it wouldn't work. It would take awhile for him to do it, but there wouldn't be any rush, as there would be nothing to raise the suspicions of the Project overseers, who most likely weren't monitoring the defunct program too closely.

Barry was contemplating the size of the task at hand when he was distracted by Helen and Nancy changing positions. Turning to face each other, they spread their legs to either side and leaned forward and back. Despite what he felt about their little get-togethers in the morning, he had to admire how good they both looked. Nancy had always been self-conscious about her looks, constantly dieting and obsessing over every excess pound, but Helen had only gotten into it last year, and the difference was more than noticeable. She had trimmed down and toned up amazingly well under Nancy's watch, and despite the slight signs of age around Helen’s eyes, you could easily mistake them for sisters.

Their workout clothing left very little to the imagination, and as Barry watched them stretch and lean, he found himself admiring their bodies. He'd never done so before, but perhaps the freedom of knowing they couldn't see him watching loosened his guard. They were both wearing those air tight spandex body suits you see girls wear in aerobics classes, revealing only the arms and neck line, but conforming with everything else like a second skin. It made their feminine figures impossible to ignore. His mother still outweighed Nancy by a good twenty or thirty pounds, but it was all tight and well proportioned. In fact, despite the family resemblance and their common shade of blonde hair, they were practically opposites. Where Nancy was short and skinny, Mom was tall and full figured, and this went for every part of the body. Nancy had not taken after Mom when it came to her bust line, and while her breasts were small and perky, they had trouble competing with Helen’s full melons, the kind that boyhood crushes are made out of. The same went for their posteriors, Nancy's being small and cute while Helen’s was large and provocative.

He almost jumped out of his skin when his mother and Nancy started talking to each other while they changed positions again, this time laying on their sides facing one another, lifting legs up, down, and side to side.

"So Mom, how are you enjoying your Anthropology class?"

"Not bad. Not as difficult as I thought it would be."

"How about Mr. Walton? Is he as hard as you thought he'd be?"

Mom faltered for a minute. "Damn it, girl, that's the last time I tell you anything."

"Aw, c'mon mom, did you hit on him or not?" Nancy teased.

"I most certainly did not!"

"But the only reason you took his class was `cause you saw his tight little buns on campus. Why don't you make a pass?"

"For Christ's sake, Nancy, even if I was going to, it was the first day of the class! What am I supposed to do, walk up to him and introduce myself like that? `Hello Mr. Walton, my names Helen, and I'd like to run my tongue over every inch of your naked body?'" They both giggled at this and continued stretching.

Barry was stunned. He had no idea that his mother was interested in other men. It shouldn't have surprised him, though. She was a far cry from being an old maid, and Dad had passed on a long time ago. It only made sense that she was lonely for some attention. No wonder she was getting into the mother/daughter thing. She couldn't very well have a girl's talk with him. Especially about licking her teacher's naked body.

They both rose to their feet and continued the conversation while they did deep knee bends. They faced away from Barry, and he found himself watching their spandex covered bottoms as they squatted up and down.

"Besides," Helen continued, "I don't think that I could. Its been such a long time since I've even dated a man, let alone offer him my tongue."

"Well if you don't, I just might. That guy's a hottie, and my tongue isn't exactly busy at the moment."

Between all of the talk about tongues and bodies and the sight of their tight butts flexing with each knee bend, Barry was horrified to discover that he was getting an erection. He also felt a little guilty sitting behind them while they were talking. It was like he was eavesdropping. He decided to take another wack at the mind-control stuff, see if he could get the hang of it. He was going to have to, if he planned on becoming the town's temporary Puppetmaster.

"Turn around and face me while you two are exercising." He commanded them. As if it was part of their normal routine, both women paused, turned in his direction, and continued their exercises. Interesting, he thought. Even though he wasn't present in their mind's eye, they still knew to listen to his voice and turn in his direction. That meant that they were obeying his orders without even realizing it.

"Besides," said Helen, "I still miss your father very much. I'd feel awkward with another man."

"I miss him too, Mom, but you can't live in the past."

"He was so handsome," Helen continued. "Not to mention sexy as hell. The things he did to me..."

"Mom!" Nancy cried. "That's the last thing I want to hear about."

"You're the one who brought up sex, missy!"

The stopped their knee bends and started doing waste bends, back and forth, side to side. Now Barry found himself staring at their breasts as they moved around. That didn't help his guilt, or his growing erection.

"I guess that's why I've never understood your brother's lack of girlfriends. He's just as attractive as your father was at his age."


His mother was right about him not dating, and it was probably because he was easily intimidated by social interaction. The fact that he was getting a boner watching his mom and sis exercise was a glaring testament to how sexually pent-up he was.

"Oh, be honest dear. Don't you think Barry is an attractive young man?"

Another "Ew!" was Nancy's response.

Maybe Nancy's immature attitude made him want to push the question, but he was also naturally curious.

"Mom,” he ordered. “Ask Nancy that last question again. Nancy, answer Mom's questions honestly."

He always teased Nancy and drove her away, but he did genuinely like her, and he had to admit that she had a hot body. Again, his hard-on confirmed that. He wanted to know if the feelings were mutual.

"Oh, be honest dear. Don't you think Barry is an attractive young man?"

"Of course I do, Mom, but he's not going to hook up getting a cathode tan twenty-four seven."

Barry was wrong. This wasn't like eavesdropping at all. It was better. Not only was he listening in on the conversation, he was controlling.

"Mom, ask Nancy to elaborate." He could have just asked Nancy to elaborate herself, but he was getting into the moment.

"What do you find attractive about him, Nancy?"

"Lots. He's tall and broad chested. He keeps in shape despite his full-time computer jockey status, so he's got a nice body. Even his face is kind of cute. His eyes and mouth can be pretty seductive if you get him on the right day. If he'd only get some sun and stop slouching so much, he'd be downright sexy."

Barry really hadn't expected that much of a positive response. She thought he looked sexy. Why hadn't she ever told him that?

Nancy looked sort of embarrassed after she finished talking, as if she'd blurted out something she wished she hadn't, but Helen seemed unfazed by her comments.

"Wow, Nancy. Sounds like you've been giving Barry quite a bit of thought. Not lusting after your own brother, are you?"

Nancy paused for a moment, and a look of horror spread over her face as she blurted out "A little bit."

Barry jumped nearly as fast as his boner did. He had told Nancy to answer all of her mother's questions truthfully, and so she was. She looked like she wanted to curl up and die, and things could only get worse from this point. Thankfully, years of hacking into heavily guarded cyberspace had given him lightning reflexes, and so he was able to jump into decisive action before his mother could overcome her initial shock and question Nancy some more.

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