A young scientist stumbles on a drug that gives him the ability to influence others and tests it on his girlfriend
Compound 606, Chapter 1: Sarah's Apartment
Hey Dan, something came up – will be out of town for a while. I left the papers from our project on your desk. I’ll be in touch. -- Marko
I read the email three times before I shut the computer, murmuring to the empty apartment, “Well that’s strange.”
I worked with Marko on a neuroscience research proposal during our first year of medical school, but I lost interest in neurology and moved to another lab. Like me, he was an eternal student, on the long and winding road to an MD/Ph.D – a “physician-scientist.” Last I heard, he had secured an unusual Department of Defense grant and was hard at work on a new research project. Other classmates whispered about his maniacal devotion to his work, the strange nature of the project (something about behavior modification), and his withdrawal from the class’s social scene over time, but he didn’t seem all that strange to me. I saw him regularly when logging late hours in my own lab, and we often grabbed a coffee and bitched about classes, exams, lack of funding, lack of free time – the typical small talk of junior academics. Marko moved here to Chicago from Eastern Europe and had that stereotypical immigrant work ethic. He was overwhelmed by his project though, and he was so deep into uncharted waters that he said his advisor didn’t even understand the research anymore. I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks, and we certainly weren’t collaborating anymore, so I had no idea what sort of papers he would be leaving me. It was getting late and dark, and I was already at home, but something about the vague email piqued my curiosity. I either had to get up and do something or I was going to spend yet another night on my laptop with the TV on in the background, so I tossed on a peacoat, grabbed a backpack, and walked out to the bus stop in the cold evening air.
While sitting on the bus, I texted my girlfriend Sarah, hoping to invite myself over for the night. She worked for a hedge fund, which meant she never stopped working, but she did have a killer downtown apartment with a skyline view and an expensive bed. We met at a concert a year ago, and after a brief, sizzling romance, settled into a nice, comfortable relationship of two people too busy and stressed to care about the fact that the magic was gone. She was my age – 26 – and attractive enough: a straight-haired brunette with golden-brown eyes; olive-toned white skin; fine, narrow features with high cheekbones; and a lithe, athletic figure from her years as a college tennis player and her habit of early morning runs on the lakeshore. She looked sexy and commanding in her work “uni” of dark suits, light makeup, heels, and hair pulled back, but around the house, she always wore leftover “issue gear” (warmups, fleeces, T-shirts) from her undergrad days as an athlete. The sex was fine, but had become rote. I could almost always make her cum, because I knew the right buttons to push, but we usually cycled through the same efficient routine until we both predictably came. We would lie there for a blissful second afterwards, and then each would grab a laptop and go back into our own separate lives. Still, fucking a cute girl and sleeping in her giant, soft bed would beat jerking off and sleeping alone in my drafty apartment under nearly all circumstances, so I was happy when my phone buzzed in my hand: “sure come up when you get back”
I unlocked the lab, flicked on the lights, and found a messy pile of lab notebooks on my desk. Even though our generation barely remembers how to write, security reasons (and let’s be honest, cost) kept computers out of official lab records. Still wondering why Marko was suddenly leaving town and why he was leaving me his notes, rather than logical choice such as his advisor, I got busy making sense of the jumble of “chicken scratch” handwriting and shorthand references. Things started out normally enough: behavior modification was all the rage these days. If someone could figure out how to get obese people to stop eating, or smokers to quit smoking, it would save more lives than any of the drugs in the pipeline. It seems like Marco was interested in odder stuff though, like hypnosis and suggestion. Flipping ahead, I started to see references to olfactory signaling, chemical structures sprawling over many pages, lots of brain scans, “Top Secret” stamps in red (must have been when the military funding kicked in), and finally, a piece of looseleaf paper folded in half and stuck between the pages. I pulled out it and unfolded it, finding a hastily scrawled note. As I read, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and my heart started racing.
Sorry to dump this all on you, but things have gotten out of hand and I really don’t know whom else to confide in. The experiments are working, but there have been some adverse effects. When used, compound 606 causes profound suggestible states in all subjects, allowing behavioral changes in the subject. Unfortunately, unintended behaviors have been elicited, and the compound is much more potent than would be appropriate for clinical use. It has become apparent that the DoD is more interested in the military applications than the medical, and I have decided the trials must be quietly shut down or the consequences may be more than I could bear on my conscience.
The effect of compound 606 on the user has proven quite durable, and it is not clear if it is permanent or not. I am afraid that my presence at the campus will become too noticeable. I am taking a leave of absence and going to stay with my grandparents in Slovakia for a while. The remaining compound 606 is in an unlabeled vial in your desk drawer. Please do not dispose of it into the sewer system where it could end up in a water supply. Please immediately destroy this note, and store these lab notebooks in a secure location off campus. There is a copy of our proposal from M1 year at the bottom of the pile. If anyone asks, this is what I left you. I will contact you via snail mail (my emails are certainly monitored).
I flipped back through the pages of the notebooks, paying close attention to the design of the chemical. Apparently Marko wanted to find a chemical that “enhanced” the persuasiveness of a physician when advising a patient about lifestyle changes, and he focused on the evolutionarily dormant signaling pathway of pheromones. I had learned about the vomeronasal organ and nerve (the so-called “cranial nerve zero”) that some animals like voles use to process pheromone signals, but it has no known function in humans and is thought to be an evolutionary left-over from our past. Marko found otherwise, and in pages of brain scans, he demonstrated profound changes in the brains of subjects exposed to various chemical signals.
I frowned, and thought back to what I knew about olfactory signals. The olfactory system is the only sensory signal that reaches straight to the deep and ancient emotional centers of the brain, without being filtered in the thalamus like other senses. Presumably our ancestors, like modern-day moths, rodents, and the like, used chemicals to rapidly signal each other long before symbolic speech was developed, though no known chemical signals have been found for modern humans. However, researchers have found that spraying neurotransmitters like oxytocin into the nose induces a trusting and socially open state in human subjects. The subjects were unaware of the changes in their personalities, but the effect wore off. We always joked about the danger if sales people were to develop oxytocin sprayers. This sort of work has enormous potential for misuse, and I understood now why Marko was keeping it so secret.
Diving back into the notes, I saw that Marko was working with far more powerful and specific signals than oxytocin, which could induce subjects to consider suggestions before they even reached the level of consciousness. That alone would have been a major paper – or three – but he didn’t stop there. He found analogues of those chemicals produced in human sweat glands. The natural chemicals seemed to have no effect on human behavior, but he was working on drugs that modified sweat gland production so that an artificially strong pheromone-like chemical was released into the air. Hundreds of pages of trials documented many failed attempts at synthesizing a working drug until the 606th trial, when the notes suddenly turned cryptic after an initial success:
“October 21: compound 606 shows no physiologic effect. Will test behavior mods with subjects 120-130.
October 30: subject 126 returned – denies urge to smoke – urine screen negative for tobacco metabolites. Other suggestions followed in literal and immediate fashion. Subject expressed romantic interest in examiner. Instructions to forget encounter led to total recall failure. Further testing suspended.”
My mind was reeling, and I yelled out loud to the empty room “What the FUCK Marko – you can’t just give a drug to people without approval!” Then it all dawned on me: he obviously gave the drug to himself, finding that patients would follow his instructions (“in a literal and immediate fashion”) when exposed to the chemical he was releasing into the air from his sweat glands. Also what was that bit about “romantic interest”? Was that related to the pheromone chemical? I thought back to the note he wrote (“it is not clear if it is permanent or not”) and understood why he felt he suddenly had to leave down to escape the attention of his benefactors and supervisors. I felt a wave of paranoia and scanned the rooms around me for signs of activity, mumbling, “This is a bombshell… if this were to get out…”
I opened the top drawer of my desk, and found an unmarked brown glass vial with a clear liquid inside. Setting it on the desk, I stared at it while my mind raced. Overwhelmed with curiosity – I did consider myself a scientist after all – I went back into the notebooks once again. How much did he take? How long did it take to work? I lost track of time, but at least an hour passed until I had a pretty good idea of how he had dosed himself. I also figured out how I could probably safely destroy the sample with some chemicals I could borrow in the morning, but I wondered if I would regret it… I could use some powers of persuasion. Also, the thought of such a magnificent piece of work being lost to human knowledge forever was more than I could bear, and given the patchy qualities of the last few days of notes, I was unsure of the picture I was assembling in my mind was even remotely accurate. Actively avoiding contemplating the consequences, I drew up a dose of the fluid into a clean syringe and sat there looking at it for a while, before injecting myself in the arm in a fit of impulsiveness. I can’t really explain why I did these things, as I am usually not so incautious. I suppose maybe I just had to find out myself if my hunches about Marko’s work were true, or maybe I was in a rut and just needed a thrill? I felt nothing but a tiny burn where the needle entered, and while sitting for a few minutes with my finger on my pulse and my mind focused on my body, I felt no changes. Sparking up a Bunsen burner, I torched the note to ashes after reading it once more, slid the notebooks into my backpack and slipped the vial in my inside jacket pocket. I glanced around again to satisfy myself that no-one was around, and then headed back to the bus.
On the ride to Sarah’s place, nothing seemed abnormal, though I affected the usual public transit mode: eyes downcast, pretending that the other people don’t exist. I jumped off at the closest stop and walked the block to her building. Though I had been there many times and the doormen knew me, they always went through the protocol of calling her to get permission to let me in. I suppose it is good security practice in a dense high-rise, but it is annoying to stand there like a goon in the lobby while the doorman calls upstairs. I reached the desk and gave my name and Sarah’s name. As the doorman reached for the phone, I jokingly asked, “Won’t you just open the door for me this time?” A brief, confused look flickered across his face, and then he answered, “Sure thing, Mr. Adams,” as he toggled the switch under the desk. I almost stumbled through the door as it swung open I was so surprised – was this the pheromone working already? Maybe he finally just decided I was not a threat. I took the elevator to Sarah’s floor, pulled the not-so-artfully hidden key out from under the welcome mat, and let myself into her apartment. The lights were out – I had taken longer on campus than I had expected – so she must have gone to bed. I was pretty tired myself, so I tread softly to the bedroom, stripped to my boxers and crawled in bed with her, falling asleep as my head hit the pillow.
I woke up the next morning and became aware that Sarah was pulling on running pants beside the bed. It was probably about 4am, and I groaned, “Are you seriously going to go running in this freezing cold?”
She leaned over and kissed my cheek. “You can come with if you want.”
“No, I’d rather sleep here where it’s warm. Why don’t you join me.”
The same quizzical look flashed across her eyes as I had seen in the doorman the night before as she replied, “OK” and crawled back in bed.
I suddenly sat upright, totally awake. “Why did you just do that?” I asked.
“Because you asked me.”
“But you wanted to go running.”
“Yes, but when you asked me I realized that it was really cold out, and I haven’t seen you much recently, so I decided to stay in bed.”
Knowing her as I did, I knew that nothing would make her skip a run once she had decided to go – she had an iron will like that. It was pretty clear to me that she was rationalizing a decision that she didn’t consciously make in the first place. Now was this related to the pheromone production drug? Only one way to find out: “Well then strip off the rest of those clothes and come and cuddle with me”
“Sure,” she piped as she shimmied out of her tight running pants and underwear and comically kicked them off the edge of the bed. She then pulled her worn tennis warm-up shirt and sports bra off with one quick movement and they joined the pants in a pile on the floor. Next thing I knew she was the small spoon, tightly snuggled against me with my morning wood resting up between her long, smooth, naked legs. Sarah wasn’t the most affectionate girlfriend most of the time, so this new sweet and cuddly side of her was pretty adorable, and sexy.
I decided to press on, “Why don’t you help me out of my boxers too, babe.” She gave me a sexy little smile and got up on her knees, using both hands too strip them off me. My cock sprung out, hard from morning wood and my excitement about what I could do with Sarah if she were to keep following all my suggestions. I laughed, “Damn girl, look at what you do to me! How about you take care of that with your mouth.”
Sarah was a passably good cocksucker, but after our initial heated fling faded, she would only give me a few quick licks to get me hard before we moved right on to sex. Once in a while I would give her a hard time (“What are we, married?”) and I would get maybe 30 more seconds before she would get bored and want to move on. I could live with it, but I certainly wished for more. This morning, she seemed eager, and positioned herself between my legs, holding the base of my cock, giving me a sultry look, and fitting her lips around the head. She swirled her tongue around the tip as she sucked me in deeper, one hand around the base of the shaft and the other sliding down to cup my balls. As she worked up a steady rhythm, the first rays of sun pierced her window and illuminated her face, her brown eyes sparkling and her messy hair lit like a halo. She really was quite pretty, and there is nothing quite so sexy as a beautiful woman with your dick in her mouth. I lay back on the pillow and let my mind wander. I didn’t tell her to do anything other than put my cock in her mouth. All the extra sexy looks and enthusiastic cocksucking are coming from her alone, or maybe this has something to do with the pheromones too. Animals usually use pheromones for finding mates, perhaps the suggestibility comes with sexual undertones no matter the command. A wicked thought popped into my head: “further research will be required.”
By now this was the longest blowjob I had ever had from Sarah, and it kept getting better. She was hungrily taking my 8 inches as deep as she could, and I could feel the head bottoming out in the back of her throat. I could no longer focus on anything except the sensation of her smooth, velvety lips and tongue slipping up and around every inch of my cock and I felt my balls tighten up. “Swallow me baby” I managed to croak out before I shot ropes of hot cum into her sweet, small mouth. She plunged deep on my shaft while she gulped the cum, finishing with a smile. I lost myself for a moment in ecstasy before I realized she was still down there, grinding what felt like a very wet pussy on my leg. “That turn you on?” I asked her. She nodded, so I sat up and flipped her under me, kissing her slender neck before working down to her small, perky tits. She only wore a 32B bra, but her breasts always looked large enough on her narrow, wiry frame. She had small, dark nipples that always stood up quickly under my tongue, and she loved for me to play with them. One of the ways I could get her to cum quickly is to bite on her nipples gently while I fucked her. Today I felt like teasing, so I swirled my tongue around her nipples without actually touching them, then kept going, kissing down her flat, toned stomach. She kept herself waxed, with a little tuft of dark hair cropped short just above her labia, and I kept moving down until my tongue was just above the hood of her clitoris. Here she gave her first sign of resistance, reaching down towards my shoulders to pull me back up. She usually was not a fan of getting eaten out, and she would want to pull me up to move back to more traditional sex positions.
I humored her a second, but when I got up to her face, I said, “Just lay back, close your eyes, and enjoy yourself this time.” She immediately relaxed, closed her eyes, and nuzzled into the pillow as I headed back down, past the tuft of hair, and began licking up her swelling labia with a wide, flat tongue, tasting her salty, sweet wetness. After a few strokes I started to swirl around her clit with my tongue, pushing the hood away from her swollen button. She gasped as I pulled her exposed clit into my mouth and sucked on it, her hips bucking underneath me. To my surprise, she grabbed the back of my head and pressed my face into her snatch as I continued to play with her clit. I slid a hand up the inside of her thigh until my fingers were placed at her entrance and slipped two fingers in her wet, slippery canal, bending up towards my tongue and massaging her front wall. She was shrieking in pleasure now, and her fingernails were digging into my scalp as I increased the pace and pressure. After another minute, her legs started to twitch and spasm, and her pussy clamped down on my fingers before she came in waves, her hips bucking wildly with my face clamped tightly to her cunt as I drank her in. Almost afraid she would break my nose with the violence of her orgasm, I unclamped her hands and extricated myself as she writhed with aftershocks. I curled up behind her and wrapped my arms around her narrow waist, pulling her into me as she slowly came down from wherever it was she had gone. I smirked, and whispered in her ear “Good for you?”
“Oh my god Dan, I have never cum that hard before. That was amazing!” She still looked a little dazed as I rolled over and checked the time on my phone: barely 5 AM, but I wasn’t tired at all anymore. We both lay in bed and chatted. She filled me in on what she had been up to recently: mostly work. I was only sort-of listening. From what I could tell, Sarah showed no awareness of being manipulated, and believed that everything she had done this morning was because of her own desires. I started to wonder myself how much of her horniness this morning was due to the effect of compound 606, and how much was due to the fact that we hadn’t slept together in a few days.
After a few minutes, I walked across the hall to the bathroom. I struggled to comprehend all that had happened since yesterday afternoon, and hadn’t ruled out the idea that this was all an elaborate prank on Marko’s part. If this was real, though, I could get myself into trouble in a hurry. I had an enormous sexual appetite, which I generally kept sublimated. I could entertain myself for hours thinking of elaborate sexual fantasies – which, in retrospect, certainly influenced me to inject myself with the drug as I keyed on Marko’s reference to increased romantic interest. I splashed water on my face and eyed myself in the mirror. I wasn’t a bad looking guy, if I had to say so myself. I was tallish (6’2”) and lean, though I wasn’t a workout freak like Sarah. I had short light brown hair in a stylish cut and green eyes that were my best feature. My vision wasn’t perfect, so I often wore glasses with chunky plastic frames when I was reading or working that made me look like a rocket scientist from the ‘60s. In a shirt and tie at work, I was a picture of professional composure, but with skinny jeans and a plaid shirt, I could easily fit in at a hip bar. If I tried a little, I could usually get laid, but I was bored with computing with the popped-collar douchebags at the clubs, and bored with the elaborate courtship rituals or causal one-night stands of the city’s yuppie downtown girls. I had also never met a girl with whom I felt comfortable letting go of my inhibitions and acting on all my wicked fantasies. Sarah was vanilla in bed, but otherwise a great girl, and tolerant of my busy schedule, so I was reluctant to push anything with her.
Wandering back to the bedroom, I decided to ask Sarah to do some things wholly out of character to see how far she would go. “Why don’t you call your boss and tell him you are working from home today.”
“OK,” she said, cheerfully, as she reached for her phone, flicked through the contacts, and placed the call. She left a brief message claiming she was feeling ill and would work from home today while I watched in amazement. “I have to cancel some meetings,” she explained as she whipped off a couple of emails, fingers dancing over her phone screen. After she finished, she looked satisfied. “Work has been stressful lately. It’ll be nice to stay home today,” she stated, matter-of-factly, as though it had been her idea all along.
I pushed further, thinking that I had had enough of the sweats and T-shirts at home. “You know that lingerie place that just moved into the neighborhood?”
“Why don’t you head down there this morning and buy the sexiest underwear you can find.”
That was easy. “And… sext me with some pictures of yourself in the mirror trying different outfits”
This idea seemed to turn her on, and she squealed “Definitely!”
I remembered one other strange detail from Marko’s notes, and decided to test it out. “Sarah, I want you to forget everything we did this morning as soon as I leave. You went to bed alone last night, and woke up with the idea to call in sick, head to the lingerie shop, and send me pictures all on your own, OK?”
I rolled off the bed, and pulled on my clothes from last night, calling out, “I’ll call you this afternoon,” as I headed out the door to catch the elevator. I wanted to get home and study the notebooks a little more in private before I headed back to campus and didn’t feel like waiting for the bus. I waved down a cab and got home quickly in the light pre-rush traffic. As I was pulling my wallet out, I remembered I was supposed to be conducting experiments of my ability to influence people (right?), so I said, “No charge, right?”
The cabbie looked in the rearview mirror, and said, “Right, no charge. Have a great day”