Dumbing Doubter pt. 1

Sean is a writer of gay erotic romance, and when he gets into it with a fan about whether hypnosis is real, he ends up making a bet that changes his life forever.

Sean was feeling pretty good about himself—and for good reason.

Sean was a writer of gay erotic romance stories and one of his more significant undertakings was just recently released. It was a novel that revolved around the cutthroat court politics of a medieval fantasy kingdom and the steamy, forbidden love between a king and his knight.

The sales were going strong, thankfully. Sean had received something of a substantial advance from his publisher upon completion of the book and it was heartening to see that the money was being made up quite quickly.

Even though his metrics were good, Sean couldn’t quite rest just yet. He wanted to know what his fans thought. The book was generally loved by the critics, which was great, but what he wanted to know was what his loyal readers thought.

It had been less than a week since the release of the book, and Sean was anxiously waiting for the user reviews. They were expected to start rolling in, any day now, and he was both terrified and excited for them.

A quiet chime from the phone next to him on his desk startled Sean from his thoughts. A glance confirmed it was a notification from his Shriekr feed.

Swiping his thumb across the screen, Sean unlocked his phone. It was a ‘shriek’ from one of his most loyal long-time readers: Mensmerizer09.

Sean hadn’t heard from the guy in a while, but it was to be expected. He’d been so hard at work on his new book that he hadn’t published any new short stories since. He’d been neglecting his social media, too, so it warmed his heart that Mensmerizer09 was still following his work.

The new book from @SeanKingAuthor is fucking amazing. Bros, you gotta read it while you still can. Oh, man, it was so fucking good. Even the political parts weren’t boring!

Sean chuckled. The shriek wasn’t directed at him, but he appreciated the energy. He knew Mesmerizer09 had a fairly sizeable following on Shriekr and if he spread the word to his fans, Sean wasn’t about to complain.

The "while you still can" part of the shriek struck Sean as odd but he mostly dismissed it as an offhand comment. In all the time he’d known Mesmerizer09, the guy had had something of an eccentric streak. Besides, there was more than one shriek in the thread, and there was a chance it would be explained further down.

Word of advice though, bros: even if the book has sex in it, it’s proper literature. That means it’s smart reading if you’re struggling with big words now, dudes.

Ah, yes, Sean thought to himself. He remembered now. He was glad to see that some things hadn’t changed in the few months he was holed away working on his book. Mesmerizer09 and his audience were still the same as ever.

Spoiler alert, bros! I’m gonna talk about the book now! So if you wanna make those dim jock brains smoke by reading it yourselves, stop reading here!

Sean had to admit, there was something about the condescending way Mesmerizer09 talked to his followers that was appealing. To put it another way, he found it hot.

So anyway, as I was saying, the book was super great. Honestly, you might not be able to figure out the politics parts by yourself but they were still pretty satisfying.

Sean had tried to make the political parts of the book more accessible, but he’d anticipated that some people would have trouble navigating them so he’d tried to make sure the payoffs were still satisfying even if the reader didn’t completely follow.

Oh, man. I loved the big reveal in the middle of the book. When the king finally found out about the scheming bitch trying to get rid of his knight and smacked her down. Fuck. It was satisfying!

The corner of Sean’s mouth twitched into a small smile. He’d also had a lot of fun writing those scenes.

But guys. Dudes. Bros. Let me tell you about the sex. Oh my god this book has everything you could want. There was steamy. Hot. Gentle. Filthy. Romantic. Raunchy. Fuck, bros. It was like a smorgasbord of sexy man-on-man action.

The high praise made Sean blush.

When the king cornered the knight just after he was done training and was all sweaty and still wearing his padded armor? Fuck, dudes, I nearly fucking blew my load!

Sean remembered the scene. It had been one of his favorite. The way this big manly muscle man of a knight got flustered while his king licked the sweat off his balls had been a delight to imagine.

There’s maybe one tiny thing I would change about the story. Toward the end, the king was mind-controlled by one of his advisors into a dumb, obedient puppet. I just wish the knight took over as the king’s master when the advisor was killed instead of the king getting better!

Sean smiled as he read through the tweet. It wasn’t even surprising. Mensmerizer09 and his audience were big mind-control junkies. Even better when it involved dumbing down an otherwise intelligent character.

More than a handful of Mensmerizer09’s followers were self-professed "recovering intellectuals" who really played up the dumbing down act. Sean didn’t buy into the whole thing but he’d been hoping that Mensmerizer09 would say something about the scene in question the moment he started reading the shriek thread.

Even though it might have seemed like Mensmerizer09 was trying to tell him how to do his job, Sean didn’t mind. If anything, he took it as a compliment. After all, Mesmerizer09 had found the whole brainwashing arc of the book to be so hot that he wanted more of it.

Sean wasted no time typing out his response.

Thank you so much, @Mensmerizer09. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. I was looking forward to hearing from you! And maybe I’ll do something like that in another story!

Sean set his phone down on the desk as soon as he’d sent the shriek off. He was feeling a bit more at ease. At least his first user review hadn’t been a bad one.

A few moments later, Sean’s phone chimed again. He picked it up and saw that Mensmerizer09 had sent him a direct message.

Mensmerizer09: Hey, man! It’s been a while!

Sean considered whether to engage. He loved his fans and did his best to keep in touch but he also knew that conversations could sometimes stretch pretty long when he really got into them. It was why he’d mostly stayed off social media while working on the book before release.

Now that the book was actually out and on the shelves, though, Sean didn’t really have anything better to do. He figured it couldn’t hurt to engage a little bit after months of silence with only sporadic progress updates.

SeanKingAuthor: Hey there!
SeanKingAuthor: Yeah, it has been, hey? Sorry I haven’t been around much.

No sooner had Sean finished typing than the wiggling ellipsis on the bottom left-hand corner of his screen appeared to show that Mensmerizer09 was already working on a response. A heartbeat later, it arrived.

Mensmerizer09: No worries, man
Mensmerizer09: You were probably super busy with the book

"Super busy" was one way to put it.

SeanKingAuthor: Oh, yeah. It was a joy to write, don’t get me wrong. But boy, is publishing a book hard work

Sean guessed Mensmerizer09 must have been sitting at his computer because the replies came lightning fast. He almost felt bad for typing so much slower because he was on his phone.

Mensmerizer09: Bro, I can imagine
Mensmerizer09: It was so fucking hot, though
Mensmerizer09: So you did a good job!

SeanKingAuthor: I’m glad you enjoyed it

Mensmerizer09: Seriously though, bro
Mensmerizer09: Like, top-notch job
Mensmerizer09: Mind control kink needs to be represented better
Mensmerizer09: In mainstream erotica

SeanKingAuthor: Haha. I’m proud to do my part.

Sean smiled. He couldn’t say he was going to keep including elements of mind-control in future novels—he would if they fit the story—but they were a nice thing to have in the back pocket. If he never found a place to put them, he could always use them in the short stories he intended to start publishing again, soon.

Mensmerizer09: Oh, man
Mensmerizer09: You have such a fucking way with words
Mensmerizer09: The moment the advisor caught the king alone
Mensmerizer09: Oh, bro, I knew something was up
Mensmerizer09: And when the king started feeling light-headed
Mensmerizer09: Fuck
Mensmerizer09: The way you described it
Mensmerizer09: How the king slowly slid into trance
Mensmerizer09: How he surrendered control little by little
Mensmerizer09: And felt his will leaking out
Mensmerizer09: Getting replaced by the advisor’s will
Mensmerizer09: Feeling his thoughts slowly fade away
Mensmerizer09: Getting slower and duller and dumber
Mensmerizer09: Until he couldn’t think anymore
Mensmerizer09: And had to let the advisor do the thinking for him
Mensmerizer09: Fuck, bro,
Mensmerizer09: I got so fucking hard as fuck.

Sean blushed. He wasn’t used to people raving so hard about his work. It wasn’t an unpleasant experience, but certainly an unfamiliar one. He wasn’t even sure how to respond.

SeanKingAuthor: Haha. I’m glad you liked it! I really tried to get into the mind of the king in that scene. I knew he was pretty strong-willed but the advisor was someone he trusted. I wanted to show how he was slowly taken in, not even realizing until it was too late that he had been betrayed, and then giving in to it anyway just because it felt better, it was easier to just let go of his thoughts rather than to keep fighting.

Mensmerizer09: Fuck yeah, man
Mensmerizer09: That’s what I’m talking about!
Mensmerizer09: You get me!

SeanKingAuthor: Oh it wasn’t anything that special… I just put myself in the character’s shoes and followed the logic, I guess?

Sean really wasn’t used to taking a compliment.

Mensmerizer09: So have you had any experience with hypno before?

Sean shook his head before realizing that the person he was talking to couldn’t see him.

SeanKingAuthor: No… I can’t say I have. Sorry.

Mensmerizer09: Seriously, bro?
Mensmerizer09: Not even once?

SeanKingAuthor: No… Sorry.

Mensmerizer09: Maybe you just don’t remember
Mensmerizer09: LOL.

SeanKingAuthor: I think I’d know if I’ve been hypnotized before. I can’t think of any time it could have happened.

Mensmerizer09: Oh well.
Mensmerizer09: Just saying
Mensmerizer09: Because the way you wrote that scene
Mensmerizer09: Definitely made it look like you had some experience
Mensmerizer09: I just wish the changes were permanent, you know?
Mensmerizer09: Would have been so fucking hot

It was another compliment, Sean supposed. He hadn’t really even done much research into the topic if he was being honest. He’d just written out what felt right.

SeanKingAuthor: Honestly, I don’t even really believe that hypnosis works that way. I guess it can’t fundamentally change who you are? Sure, the advisor did manage to take the king under his control for a little while, but that didn’t erase the king’s old personality, just suppressed it, so when the control was broken he recovered.

Mensmerizer09: Nah, man
Mensmerizer09: Hypno can do all sorts of shit
Mensmerizer09: Just look at my followers bro
Mensmerizer09: Some of them used to be so fucking smart
Mensmerizer09: Like, honestly, genius-level bros
Mensmerizer09: Now look at them
Mensmerizer09: Fucking meathead jocks
Mensmerizer09: Some of them can’t even read at an 8th-grade level anymore
Mensmerizer09: And it’s fucking permanent, too
Mensmerizer09: No going back for these dumbfucks
Mensmerizer09: LOL.

Sean sincerely doubted that. It was one thing to be hypnotized into clucking like a chicken or stripping in front of a crowd, and another entirely to go from promising young genius to illiterate meathead brute.

Based on what limited knowledge Sean had, hypnosis came down to self-deception. It was all about what a person could convince their brain to do. He had a hard time believing that a brain could be convinced to pretty much permanently turn itself off.

SeanKingAuthor: I really don’t think it works that way. I haven’t really done too much research but I’m pretty sure that you can’t just magically make someone dumber with hypnosis.

Mensmerizer09: Bro
Mensmerizer09: I know how it works
Mensmerizer09: Not that baby hypnotherapy shit
Mensmerizer09: The real, hard stuff, bro!
Mensmerizer09: The stuff that really gets in there
Mensmerizer09: And fucks with your head
Mensmerizer09: The kind where
Mensmerizer09: If the ’tist wants to
Mensmerizer09: And you’re suggestible enough
Mensmerizer09: He can erase your personality
Mensmerizer09: Or like, replace it with a new one

It seemed Mensmerizer09 was quite invested in this fantasy of his. The right thing to do would have been to disengage, agree to disagree, but Sean didn’t think it was a particularly healthy thing to believe in. Against his better judgment, Sean argued back.

SeanKingAuthor: Isn’t the more reasonable explanation that your followers are just roleplaying, basically?

Mensmerizer09: I promise, bro, it’s real!
Mensmerizer09: And it’s super powerful shit
Mensmerizer09: It’s fucking life-changing, man!

Sean shook his head. He failed to understand Mensmerizer09’s fanatical devotion to the power of hypnosis.

SeanKingAuthor: That just doesn’t make sense to me. If it’s so good why isn’t it more widespread? Surely, if as you say, it’s life-changing, people everywhere would be using it to make changes for themselves.

Mensmerizer09: LOL
Mensmerizer09: You think they don’t?
Mensmerizer09: How else would the government do its cover-ups? Mensmerizer09: Do you really think anyone wants
Mensmerizer09: To be the guy that goes in the sewers
Mensmerizer09: And breaks up those big chunks of fat and shit and garbage?
Mensmerizer09: Nah, bro!
Mensmerizer09: The people running the show
Mensmerizer09: They use hypno daily
Mensmerizer09: Just to make sure their secret agenda stays secret
Mensmerizer09: Besides, bro
Mensmerizer09: How would you know if they did?
Mensmerizer09: How do you know they didn’t just hypno you
Mensmerizer09: Into not believing that hypno is real?

Sean should have expected the conspiracy theory. He really should have. It nevertheless came as a complete surprise, and he was somewhat taken aback.

SeanKingAuthor: Seriously? Do you have any proof? If they can hypnotize me into not believing in hypnosis, how come you believe in it? And I seriously doubt that the government is using hypnosis to hide its secrets and what, hypnotize people into doing the dirty jobs that keep society running? Just because the jobs are dirty doesn’t mean they aren’t honorable. Aren’t you being needlessly insulting?

Then again, Sean supposed it was pointless asking for proof. Conspiracy theorists rarely had anything substantial to show for their deranged conclusions and demanded that you take their arguments on faith.

Mensmerizer09: Of course they do, bro!
Mensmerizer09: Honestly, man
Mensmerizer09: When I read your story
Mensmerizer09: I thought you were one of the cool ones
Mensmerizer09: I thought you understood, bro!
Mensmerizer09: Can’t believe you’re just one of the rubes
Mensmerizer09: Kinda disappointing, tbh
Mensmerizer09: And I know hypno is real
Mensmerizer09: Because I know how to use it!
Mensmerizer09: They can’t hypno me against my will
Mensmerizer09: Because I know how to protect myself
Mensmerizer09: Trust me, it real, bro
Mensmerizer09: It’s real and it’s potent and it’s powerful
Mensmerizer09: And I can prove it.

Here we go, Sean thought to himself. He’d been on the internet long enough to know how things usually went with conspiracy nuts. Either they told you to do your own research if you challenged them to show proof, or they sent you an unhinged video or article of some description that was supposed to prove their point but didn’t really do a very good job of it.

After a minute or so, though, the link that Sean had been expecting never came.

SeanKingAuthor: Just how are you going to do that? Prove it’s real, I mean.

Mensmerizer09: Sorry, bro
Mensmerizer09: I was trying to find this video
Mensmerizer09: It’s really great
Mensmerizer09: And it explains everything
Mensmerizer09: From what real hypno is about
Mensmerizer09: What regions of the brain it stimulates
Mensmerizer09: The history of the technique
Mensmerizer09: Spoiler: the Mayans invented it
Mensmerizer09: Who uses it nowadays
Mensmerizer09: And how to do it yourself
Mensmerizer09: I could have sworn I bookmarked it
Mensmerizer09: But I can’t seem to find it

It was good that Sean’s instincts weren’t too far off base. He’d long feared that one day he’d become the technologically-illiterate grandpa and he was glad to know that he wasn’t quite out of touch with the internet just yet.

SeanKingAuthor: That’s too bad

Mensmerizer09: Yeah, I know
Mensmerizer09: But it’s alright
Mensmerizer09: Cos I just had a thought, man
Mensmerizer09: And I think I know how to prove it’s real

Sean raised an eyebrow. Mensmerizer09 was still typing, so he didn’t send a response just yet.

Mensmerizer09: You just gotta experience it, bro!

Sean blinked.

SeanKingAuthor: Excuse me?

Mensmerizer09 responded in record time.

Mensmerizer09: It’s pretty simple
Mensmerizer09: We can spend all day
Mensmerizer09: Arguing about whether hypno is real
Mensmerizer09: Even if I explained the mechanics to you
Mensmerizer09: You’ll probably
Mensmerizer09: Find some bullshit "science" reason not to believe me
Mensmerizer09: So the best and easiest way
Mensmerizer09: To get you to understand
Mensmerizer09: Is for you to get hypnoed yourself
Mensmerizer09: If you experience its power yourself
Mensmerizer09: Then you’ll have to become a believer!

Sean stared at his point for a minute. Of all the things he had expected to come out of Mensmerizer09, a salient point was one that he had not anticipated. It was true. If he did experience what Mensmerizer09 called "real" hypnosis firsthand, then he would probably no longer be able to deny its potency.

It was a tempting proposition, Sean had to admit. The idea of a technique being so powerful as to fundamentally alter the core of a person’s identity was intriguing but he was pretty sure it was just science fiction.

Sean stood to lose a lot, if he accepted Mensmerizer09’s proposition and it turned out that Mensmerizer09 had been right all along. He didn’t know if it was worth the risk but at the same time, by declining to participate he might as well admit that he was afraid there was some truth to the conspiracy theory and that was a thought he couldn’t quite stomach.

SeanKingAuthor: Alright. Fine. I’ll take you up on it. But what’s in it for me, if I’m right?

Mensmerizer09: I’ll give you $2000 if you’re right

The reply came faster than Sean had anticipated. He wasn’t afraid to admit that there were a lot of things he would be willing to do for $2000.

And so, despite Sean’s better judgment, he decided to accept the challenge.

SeanKingAuthor: Alright. You’re on. What do I have to do?

Mensmerizer09: Oh, man
Mensmerizer09: Bro, I’m so excited for you
Mensmerizer09: All you gotta do
Mensmerizer09: Is do my one-month dumb jock program
Mensmerizer09: If you’re still smart at the end of it
Mensmerizer09: Then you win
Mensmerizer09: How does that sound?

Sean should have expected it. On the off-chance that Mensmerizer09 was right, he would end up just like one of the dumbass meatheads that populated Mensmerizer09’s timeline on Shriekr.

It was too late to back out now. And besides, Sean refused to accept that Mensmerizer09 was right. He was confident that he would win. He was an intelligent man. Chances were, he could resist any and all mind games that Mensmerizer09 would play on him. The $2000 was as good as his.

SeanKingAuthor: Alright, "bro," you’re on.

Mensmerizer09: LOL.
Mensmerizer09: Awesome, man!
Mensmerizer09: That’s the spirit!

SeanKingAuthor: So, what do I have to do?

Mensmerizer09: Relax, bro
Mensmerizer09: We’ve got all month
Mensmerizer09: I’ve got you
Mensmerizer09: No need to be in a rush

Mensmerizer09 sent a link to an online IQ test that only served to make Sean more confident in his chances. Everyone knew those were wildly inaccurate.

Mensmerizer09: Let’s start by setting a baseline, yeah?

Suffice to say, Sean passed the IQ test with flying colors. He couldn’t help but be a little proud, even though he knew it was ultimately probably a bullshit score.

Mensmerizer09: 124! Nice, bro

SeanKingAuthor: Thanks. Alright. Now that that’s done, what’s next?

Mensmerizer09: You seem eager, bro

SeanKingAuthor: I’m just looking forward to getting that $2000 from you at the end of the month.

Mensmerizer09: LOL
Mensmerizer09: We’ll see, bro
Mensmerizer09: By the time the month’s over
Mensmerizer09: Such a big number
Mensmerizer09: Will be pretty much alien to you

SeanKingAuthor: I doubt that.

Mensmerizer09: Don’t knock it ’til you try it, bro
Mensmerizer09: Anyway, just relax for today
Mensmerizer09: We’ll get started tomorrow
Mensmerizer09: I gotta dip for now anyway
Mensmerizer09: I’ll see you tomorrow, bro
Mensmerizer09: I’m so excited
Mensmerizer09: Trust me, man
Mensmerizer09: Once you feel it for yourself
Mensmerizer09: You’re gonna beg me not to stop

Sean chuckled. He’d let Mensmerizer09 hold on to his fantasy for a while longer. Whatever superpowers Mensmerizer09 thought he had, he was going to be disappointed at the end of the month, and $2000 poorer.

SeanKingAuthor: Sure I will. Take care. You better not run from our bet.

The money was only really part of the experience for Sean, though. $2000 was a lot of money. He wasn’t going to be particularly disappointed if Mensmerizer09 ended up not paying out at the end of the month. He’d at least get the satisfaction of proving the guy’s devotion to hypnosis wrong.

Mensmerizer09: Don’t worry about it, bro
Mensmerizer09: I’m a man of my word
Mensmerizer09: If you’re still smart
Mensmerizer09: At the end of my patented
Mensmerizer09: Dumbing down treatment
Mensmerizer09: I’ll pay out
Mensmerizer09: $2000 and not a cent less
Mensmerizer09: I’m even willing
Mensmerizer09: To sign a contract
Mensmerizer09: To that effect
Mensmerizer09: I can have one of my followers
Mensmerizer09: Draw it up

SeanKingAuthor: Oh, I don’t think that would be necessary. If you insist, though, I’m not going to stop you. SeanKingAuthor: Wait. You’re going to get one of your followers to write a contract?

Mensmerizer09: LOL
Mensmerizer09: Way to judge, my dude
Mensmerizer09: Not all of my followers
Mensmerizer09: Are dumb himbos
Mensmerizer09: Some of them wanted to retain their smarts
Mensmerizer09: Most of their smarts, anyway
Mensmerizer09: They just wanted a little slowdown
Mensmerizer09: So they won’t be as high-strung
Mensmerizer09: And so they can focus their efforts
Mensmerizer09: On other things
Mensmerizer09: Like self-improvement

Sean sighed. It was good that Mensmerizer09 was replying fairly quickly but he was starting to get tired of every sentence being broken up into multiple messages. It kept him on the edge of his seat waiting for what was going to be said next.

SeanKingAuthor: I see. I see. Why aren’t we doing that instead of the whole dumbing down thing you were talking about?

Mensmerizer09: 🤷‍♀️
Mensmerizer09: It needs to be
Mensmerizer09: Something dramatic
Mensmerizer09: So there’s no room for interpretation
Mensmerizer09: If it were something more subtle
Mensmerizer09: Then how would we be able to tell
Mensmerizer09: Who won the bet?

SeanKingAuthor: Alright. Alright. Fair point.

Mensmerizer09: Anyway, I really gotta go
Mensmerizer09: 😘 Enjoy your last night
Mensmerizer09: Of freedom
Mensmerizer09: Tomorrow, we start your recovery
Mensmerizer09: Don’t worry, bro
Mensmerizer09: I’ll make sure you recover properly
Mensmerizer09: Intelligence is a serious disease
Mensmerizer09: I’ll take care of you

Sean couldn’t help but laugh. Intelligence, a disease? He didn’t think he’d ever heard anything more absurd.

SeanKingAuthor: Seeya. I’ll be looking forward to that $2000 in a month!

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