Dr. Robert Berringer had been a hypnotherapist for over eighteen years. Today’s appointments seemed like any other day’s schedule: some new clients and some returns. One had been reserved by a newbie, a Mr. Bratton Severen. Robert’s pretty, young blond receptionist, Katrine, relayed the purpose of the visit was memory recovery. Other than that she had no idea why the client had booked time. Katrine had snagged her job not for her office skills, but her good looks, hot as a pistol, flirting unabashedly during the interview, and incessantly during her employment even though he was married, albeit unhappily. The session was slated as the last on Friday.
Prior to Friday’s meeting, the others had been run-of-the-mill treatments for tobacco/alcohol/drug cessation, sexual dysfunction, weight/mood/relaxation control, insomnia, and so on. Katrine would lead patients in, and while he enjoyed watching her enter, he savored the view of her derrière when exiting; often fantasized about running off to some tropical island with his sexy assistant and leaving the woman he’d no longer loved.
A few minutes after the penultimate patient’s treatment Katrine knocked softly, opened his door, and walked an early-thirties-something-looking man into the workspace before announcing, “This is Mr. Severen”.
“Mr. Severen, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” With a nonchalant gesture, it was indicated that the client should sit in the chair across from him.
“Likewise, I’m sure. Please call me Bratton,” Severen replied as he took the suggested seat.
“Now, how may I help you?”
Shifting nervously as he explained, “I have an online account I can no longer log in to because I forgot the password. I’ve tried signing in using different passwords for other accounts, but none worked. I’ve almost reached the limit of allowed attempts. The account is set so after a number of tries it’ll lock down permanently. I have one more try. Can you help me remember through hypnosis?”
“I’ll try anything.”
“Tell me about the account? What kind, how it used, what’s in it, the last time you signed in, anything you recall when you last logged in?”
Beads of perspiration had formed along the man’s brow. Bratton’s hands on his lap had all fingers interlocked except the index fingers he agitatedly tapped together.
“I opened it around a dozen years ago, only used it as a few times, so I believe the last I accessed it was about a decade ago and I think that was from my office at a company worked.”
“I rather not, consider it a personal matter, and that’s all I’ll say. I’m willing to pay you to help me remember. Other than that I’m not comfortable saying more.”
“With so little to go by it may not be possible. Memory retrieval is difficult. Fewer details the more it becomes like a haystack needle. Can’t you tell me anything else?”
“No,” he declared emphatically, “please, try to help!”
Robert rationalized since the man booked the session; if he were to be paid then he had to abide by those terms. After all, Berringer wasn’t here just for fun, even if the scenery Katrine shared was so easy on the eyes. Well, it was Severen’s money, and if that’s how he gambled, that was up to him. Money was money.
The doctor’s inner office had no windows. It probably had been a large storage area. Windowless provided an advantage of barring external light and sound that could interfere with the hypnotic process. In fact, the only source of light came from two bulbs overhead that would be dimmed via a switch Robert controlled from his desk. He now lowered those lights.
“Understand there’re no guarantees with limited information we’ll get what we’re trying to.”
“As I’ll be under the circumstances.”
“I want you to breathe deeply and relax. Release any tension or stress, keep breathing deeply, and slowly close your eyes.”
The hypnotherapist ran through the steps employed to bypass the conscious mind and make contact with the subconscious: big breaths, gradual relaxation, slowly assisting in reaching a mental state between deep sleep and awake, then strategic suggestions planted in their subconscious. When achieved some may get what they came for, while some may not. No guarantees. Severen was induced into what some called the trance state.
“I want you to see yourself in the office where you worked when you last used the account we’ll recover the password for. What do you see?”
“What’s on the desk?”
“A computer connected to a mouse, keyboard, and monitor.”
The patient fumbled in the empty air with a hand before returning it to his lap and sat still in silence. After nearly a minute of stillness, Robert asked again, “On now?”
“Booting and warming up.”
“Good. Take all the time it needs. Meanwhile, listen to the sound of my voice and only my voice. Understand?”
“Listen closely to what I suggest.”
“Waiting for the computer we’ll talk and you’ll answer my questions. Agreed?”
“What’s the name of the company the computer belongs to?”
“Smithfield & Associates.”
“What’s your job there?”
“In the accounting department I oversaw assets investment.”
“You’ve been honest, so I’ll be honest with you. Only way I’m able to help is you tell me more. You want to solve this problem so tell me everything. I command you, Bratton.”
The air hung heavy for moments until Severen replied, “I’ll tell you. In 2009, I had invested $2,000 in cryptocurrency known as BitCoin. Since that investment, the BitCoin value skyrocketed. That amount of BitCoin would be worth nearly a billion dollars now. I never told anyone about it for two reasons: most people would’ve thought it was an unsound investment and that I was a fool for buying into it, and it wasn’t my money.”
“Whose was it?”
“Smithfield & Associates. I’d embezzled it but planned to pay it back when I cashed-in. Due to events occurring those years thereafter, and mainly because I was embarrassed and ashamed of what I’d done, I put the investment at the back of my mind and forgot about it. Only after a story on the news about BitCoin did I remember it.”
“Is your computer ready now?”
“I want you to use it to find a search engine to browse the internet, move your mouse so the cursor is over the icon for that application, then click to open it. In the search bar, type in each letter, number, or symbol of the site for your BitCoin. Strike each key, as you do say it’s name out loud, so you’re able to imprint that information from your subconscious to conscious mind and then retrieve it, unless I instruct you otherwise, when you awake. Tell me you understand and what you’ll do when commanded.”
“I understand you’ve commanded I use a browser, and type the web address I will say each key as I strike.”
Using his right hand he slid it forward as he moved the imaginary mouse across an imaginary desktop. Then with both hands held in the air, his fingers moved as if typing, and said, “h-t-t-p-s-colon-backslash-backslash-w-w-w-dot-b-i-t-c-o-i-n-dot-c-o-m”.
As he spoke Dr. Berringer jotted down each word on the yellow legal pad on his desk. After transcribing the final one, he suggested, “I want you to hit the enter key and go to log in.”
“Enter,” Severen said touching that key and spoke its name.
“Are you at the login page?”
“Move the cursor to the place where you’ll type in your username, and slowly say out loud what you’re typing.”
As his fingertips typed on the imaginary keyboard he said, “s-m-i-t-h-f-i-e-l-d-underscore-s-l-a-v-e-enter”, as Robert jotted it down this.
“Now, move the cursor to where you’ll type your password, then say what you’re typing. I command you.”
With hands and fingers moving over imaginary objects transcribed, “2-zero-n-e-r-e-v-e-s-zero-9”.
The password he’d been trying to remember was a combination of the year he opened the account and his surname spelled backward. For a password, you didn’t have to be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs to know he might as just as well used “p-a-s-s-w-o-r-d” when it came to keeping any hacker worth his weight in data bytes from deciphering it.
Dr. Berringer tore the page from the pad with the man’s site address, username, password, folded it before sliding it into his desk, and said, “Good, now close the browser, shut down your computer and listen closely to what I say.”
For the last time that session, Severen went through the motions of doing what he was told as he listened to the doctor.
“I’ll bring you out of your sleep, but before I can, you must do the following. You must forget every word that you or I have spoken while under hypnosis. You must accept what I tell you upon awaking. You will not remember you were here. Once you leave this building’s you will have no recollection of me, my assistant, this office, the building, or in fact, of scheduling this appointment. Tell me you will obey.”
“When I count to three you will wake relaxed, refreshed, and no memory of anything that transpired while under hypnosis. One-two-three!”
With a startled movement, Severen lifted the lids of his eyes and stared in momentary confusion around the office before regaining composure and asking, “Any luck?”
“I’m sorry, based upon your limited information we were unable to get anything.”
“Well, I knew it was a gamble, but we tried. I do feel more rested and relaxed than I have in a while. Know I should’ve asked when I booked this appointment if you accepted credit card, but that’s all I came with. I hope that’s okay.”
As he spoke Robert hit the desktop button to let Katrine know the meeting was over and to walk the patient out. When she entered the doctor said, “Katrine, I was unable to help Mr. Severen so I won’t bill him for my time, and no need to book a follow-up session. I don’t believe we’ll get any further. Please escort him to the lobby and be sure to see he gets to the street so he can go home and forget about today. Then Katrine, come back upstairs so we can wrap up the week.”
There was a look of surprise on her face after the doctor’s last remark while Severen protested in vain, “No, doctor, I insist on paying! I agreed it was a far-flung scheme and took up an hour of your time.”
“No, Mr. Severen.,,”
“Just call me Bratton.”
“Bratton, I just wouldn’t feel right taking money when not providing anything of substance. Just forget it.”
“I’ll forget it.”
After Katrine had departed with his patient he returned to his desk, took the sheet of paper from its drawer, opened his laptop, then surfed the web to the BitCoin site. There the doctor entered Severen’s username/password. All of Severen’s account details were displayed on the screen. It was currently valued at over 1.07 billion dollars and Robert was able to trade it for a discounted even 1 billion dollars before Katrine returned. There was no feeling of remorse for what he’d done. His patient had stolen the money, thus didn’t deserve to get it, and since it was so small an amount the corporation either didn’t notice and/or never bothered to investigate, or prosecute the thief, he was comfortable in making that money his. Well not just his, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Next, he linked a hidden offshore account maintained in The Cayman Islands to Bratton’s BitCoin account. An account he maintained for directing funds behind the back of the wife he’d come to despise. When their inevitable divorce occurred, and it was sure to happen, he could shield the bulk of his hard-earned assets. Bobby Berringer was nobody’s fool. When the lovely lady sharing his workdays returned he had not only transferred the cool billion but also the funds in joint checking/saving accounts he shared with his wife, verified those transfers, deleted the BitCoin account, cleaned his browsing history, and smiled brightly as she re-entered.
“Katrine, you own a bikini?”
Looking at her boss with confusion she shook her head in a sign of affirmation as a rosy blush spread across her cute cheeks, and said, “Yes.”
“One of those teeny-tiny little ones?”
“It’s a micro-bikini,”
“Hot, hot pink.”
“Have you ever been to French Polynesia?”
“French Polynesia, no, where in Polynesia?”
“Tahiti would be a good place to begin with.”
“No, not Tahiti.”
“Would you like to go?”
“Tahiti, when?” she asked, sharing a coy smile.
“Book two one-way tickets for Tahiti tonight, let me know when it leaves, then go home, grab that bikini, throw it in a bag with hardly anything else (we’ll buy whatever we need once we’re there), and meet me at the airport.”
“I’m on it. But what about your wife?”
“I’ll send her a text message from a burner phone saying I’ve been abducted by extraterrestrials who have absconded with me in their star cruiser to a galaxy far, far away…
“Oh, and Katrine, promise me we’ll never speak of my wife again. She’s cheated, lied, and made my life a living hell since the day after our honeymoon. From this moment we’ll only talk about you and me. Till death do us part, that okay?”
Katrine would not have been the first, nor should she be the last person to deduce that when you desire something strongly with all your heart and soul, Life will conspire in assisting to help you get what you need. “Okay,” the young woman breathlessly sighed taking his hand in hers to give it a tight squeeze while she held his gaze, “Till death do us part.”
After their flight landed in Polynesia, Robert and Katrine took a limo from Faa’a International Airport to a location they’d rent one of those tropical bungalows built atop stilts upon the Pacific Ocean water surrounding the 118 islands and atolls that constituted what’s known as French Polynesia. You know, with a thatched-roof and windows all around so there’s always an eyeful of the island’s natural and bountiful beauty. Interesting fact: the first over-water bungalows were constructed in Tahiti!
For nearly a month the couple spent their days basking in the sun (Katrine in her hot, hot, pink micro-bikini and Robert in a pair of cutoff jeans, except for the time they went to a nude beach), snorkeling, scuba diving, savoring fine foods and champagnes, and shopping trips together. Because Tahiti was rather expensive they were surrounded by upscale, affluent jet setters. But with the billion Dr. Berringer had taken from Severen’s Bitcoin account, as well as what he drained from the joint accounts with his wife, money was not an issue. He had even added Katrine as a co-holder so she would have access to his Cayman bank. He trusted her like his shadow with not only his heart but with every possession he owned. Love was love, and life was good with his new, young girlfriend.
These activities pretty much summed up the entirety of their days. All but for just one day. On that day she told him, with a wanton twinkle sparkling in her eyes, she wanted to go shopping alone to buy him a present. He consented, told her to take as long as needed, and hoped she was going on a lingerie shopping spree. Robert even had arranged for a limo to take wherever the woman needed. Coincidentally, it was the last day the two would be together.
Katrine instructed her chauffeur to drive to one of the island’s luxury hotels and to wait outside. Once inside, she scanned the resplendent lobby until spotting Bratton Severen. The two rushed into each other’s arms. “I’ve missed you so much, darling!” she whispered as they embraced.
“You don’t know how I missed you too. Soon as I got your call I grabbed the first flight available and spent the time aboard fantasizing about things we’d do in bed once again.”
“I don’t want to wait much longer either, but we need to take care of something first. Do you have it?”
Reaching into his pocket he withdrew a small vial that he placed in her hand. “Once we do this, we’ll have all the time in the world. I know you’re the one that has to carry this out, but I wish I could be there to help. You still want to, right?”
“For me, it’s going to be just desserts. I want to stick that sexist pig so bad it’s not funny. The way he was ogling me during work and then treating me like some dumb blond bimbo made me sick. Not to mention the things I had to do once we got here.”
“I don’t even want to think about that. But we needed him to get the money and get it out of the country. I’m sorry it took so long for him to share his offshore account information. No need to inject him, by the way. It’s something call Botulinum, you simply add a drop in a drink or on his food. It works fast and it’ll appear organic, like a case of extreme food poisoning.”
Severen and Katrine shared a quick parting kiss before returning to the limousine and going shopping. Last stop before returning to the awaiting Robert, she used the limo’s car phone to order a cold seafood platter from one of the island’s gourmet shops. Along the short trip to the bungalow she dripped a drop of neurotoxin on each oysters on the half-shell, taking special care not to touch them. Katrine was allergic to shellfish.
Walking through the door of their lodgings she announced, “Honey, I’m home…, and do I ever have a surprise for you!”
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Yes!! I thought Dr. B was going to take it all!! I love the ending on this!
Cole, one never knows, does one? Thank you for the love!
Bravo!! Loved the ending!!
And I love comments like this! Thank you, Andrea.
You're welcome Stevie B.
I was unsure if I could like the main character for a while but then you brought the other guy back in and it made more sense, haha. I think the story ended as it should have. Good job!
Jeni, many thanks and so glad you enjoyed it. I love creating characters that are so full of flaws that just when you think you know them they undo themselves.
Wow - what a great twist, Stevie! I truly thought it was going to end with the good ol' doctor committing fraud and escaping his current reality. I was not expecting Bratton to return to the plot again! GREAT JOB! My only suggestion would be to spend a little more time with the dialogue, reading and re-reading it out loud. There are a few lines that were confusing to me and I had to read them a few times before I understood what was being said. For example, this line: “Understand there’re no guarantees with limited information we’ll get wh...
Mallory, thank for your well expressed suggestions. I really appreciate that you took the time to convey them so clearly to me.
Wow! That was great, the plot was just the right pace and it had me smiling the way through. Great read!
Ana, so happy to hear I was able to make you smile. BTW - have read some of your stories posted here on the Reedsy Prompt section and have really enjoyed reading your work.
Thanks so much Stevie! It's nice to know you enjoy my work!
Thanks so much Stevie! It's nice to know you enjoy my work!
Beautiful story keep it up.
Adebiyi, thank you for your encouragement.
Your dialogue in this is really lovely and as random as it seems I liked the names a lot! Katrine especially is wonderful.
Waverley, thanks for your feedback. It always helps a writer know when they've hit the mark they were aiming for.
Love the twist at the end. Great story . Enjoyed reading it.
Siobhan, knowing a reader makes it through to the end of a tale is a writer's greatest reward, and only made better knowing you loved it. Thank you.
Cool story 😎
Angel, thank you very much.
Wow... this may be the strangest story I have ever read (in a good way!!). It was like waves on a beach; you subconsciously told the reader what they needed to know and continued. The plot is incredibly detailed but not in a way that feels like info dumping (??? HOW) and the twist at the end hits the reader just right because you had taken them by the hand and lead them away from that conclusion. Marvelous read, an absolutely well deserved like and follow.
Priyamvada, your comment means so much to me. Thank you for taking the time to read this twisty tale.
My apologies to anyone reading this story who may have noticed a formatting issue or two when first posted. I've made a few edits that has hopefully remedied the problem.