Mick’s heart pounded as he stood motionless in the garage, awkwardly gripping his husband Paul’s hand. Ted’s laughter echoed around them, a chilling reminder of the power he now held over their lives. The air was tense. The scent of sawdust and whiskey mingled with their fear.  

Paul’s mind raced as his face ached from smiling. He tried to piece together how everything had gone so wrong and how he and Rick didn’t realize it until it was too late. Just a few hours ago, they had been enjoying a regular Friday night with Ted, their charming and seemingly perfect friend. Then everything changed.  

It started with an offhand comment from Mick. In his mid forties, Mick had a stocky build, his body bearing the marks of a former athlete who now enjoyed the comforts of middle age, complete with a love for doughnuts. His beard, thick and speckled with gray, framed a face that usually radiated warmth and humor. “Do you ever feel like you’re not entirely in control of your life?”  

Similarly built Paul shared the same bearish charm as his husband of a decade. Paul’s beard was fuller, and his blue eyes always held a spark of intelligence and kindness. Tonight, however, there was a shadow of unease. “Isn’t that just middle age? But yeah, sometimes it’s like I’m just going through the motions.”  

Ted, lounging in a wingback chair, leaned forward with a knowing smile. Ted was everything Mick and Paul were not: tall, muscled, and hypermasculine. His chiseled jawline, broad shoulders, and impeccable style made him seem like a model from a fitness magazine. About ten years younger than Mick and Paul, Ted exuded an effortless, attractive, and intimidating dominance. Both husbands wondered why Ted never seemed to date or even be interested in relationships.  

“What if I told you that’s because you’re not in control of your life?”  

Both men turned to Ted, lines of confusion etched on their faces. “What do you mean?” Mick asked.  

Ted’s smile widened, revealing perfect teeth. He looked like an apex predator closing in on its next meal. “I’ve been waiting for the right moment to tell you both. The truth is, you’re not in control. I am.”  

Mick and Paul exchanged bewildered glances. Ted had been a good enough friend to them both but never a particularly close one. Over the years, they’d gone to many concerts, museums, and happy hours. Still, Ted had resisted Mick and Paul’s ham-fisted attempts at getting him to be a third in bed or to “play” with either of them individually. The idea that Ted had any control over the couple seemed too absurd to believe.  

Then Ted reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, intricately carved wooden marionette. It was a replica of Mick, down to the smallest detail, including his burly physique and bushy beard.  

“This is some kind of joke, right?” Paul said, unease creeping into his voice.  

Ted shook his head. “Not a joke. Think about it. Have you ever wondered why you do certain things? Why do your lives follow such a predictable pattern? It’s because I’ve been pulling the strings.”  

Mick’s mind raced. He thought about the times he had felt compelled to act against his better judgment, the moments when he felt a strange disconnect from his own decisions.  

Last year, Mick found himself volunteering to host the neighborhood barbecue despite knowing that he and Paul were both exhausted from work. He remembered feeling odd pressure as if it was the right thing to do even though every part of him wanted to decline and spend a quiet weekend alone with Paul. Mick ended the day feeling drained and detached, as if the entire event had been orchestrated by someone else.  

More recently, acting on a suggestion from Ted, Mick suddenly decided to invest a significant amount of his and Paul’s savings into a risky business venture. Paul had been hesitant and voiced his concerns, but Mick felt an inexplicable urge to follow through. Thankfully, the investment paid off, and the relationship tension dissipated as their bank balance soared. Still, Mick had often wondered why he had been so easily swayed, as though he had been a mere passenger in his own life.  

Still, random feelings of unease were not enough to convince Mick of Ted’s claim. “Prove it,” he said, his voice shaking slightly.  

Ted stood up, holding the marionette aloft. With a subtle movement of his fingers, he made the Mick puppet lift its right arm. To Mick’s horror, his own arm raised in perfect sync. Paul gasped as Mick’s shocked expression was mirrored on his miniature counterpart.  

“How… how is this possible?” Paul’s voice cracked.  

Ted’s gaze hardened, a look of dominance replacing his usual affable demeanor. “I’ve always been in control. You’ve both been living the lives I’ve designed for you. It’s amusing, really.”  

Mick, struggling to regain some semblance of control, tried to resist. His arm wouldn’t budge. “Why? Why would you do this to us?”  

“Because I can. Because I enjoy the power. And because you two needed direction.”  

Ted made another subtle movement with the puppet, and Mick’s expression changed. His face became slack and then settled into an unnaturally wide smile. His eyes glazed over, his posture hypercorrected, and his movements became stiff and jerky.  

“Mick. Babe, are you okay?” Paul asked, stepping back.  

Mick turned to Paul, the uncanny smile never leaving his face. “Oh, Paul, you have no idea how wonderful this is! Master Ted is so kind, so powerful. He knows what’s best for us.”  

Paul’s stomach churned at seeing his husband transform into this plasticky, grinning figure. “Mick, snap out of it! This isn’t you!”  

Mick’s head tilted to the side, his smile widening even further. “But it is me, Paul. It’s the real me, the me that Master Ted has helped me become. You should join us. You don’t know what you’re missing!”  

Paul shook his head, backing away. “No, Mick, this isn’t right. We need to break free from him!”  

Ted stepped closer, holding out another marionette, an exact replica of Paul, capturing his sturdy frame and kind eyes. “Why resist, Paul? You’ll see how much better it is to let go, to let me take control. Mick already understands.”  

Mick reached out to Paul, his movements stiff, his joints almost spasmodic. “Please, Paul. Join us. You’ll be so much happier.”  

Paul felt tears welling up in his eyes. “Mick, this isn’t happiness. This is control. This is losing yourself.”  

Ted’s expression darkened. He manipulated Mick’s puppet to step closer to Paul. “You don’t have a choice, Paul. Either you join your husband willingly, or I will compel you.”  

Paul’s eyes darted around the garage, looking for an escape. The space, once cozy with wooden shelves lined with tools and the comforting clutter of Mick’s projects, now felt claustrophobic. But Mick’s marionette-like movements were blocking his path. Desperation clawed at his chest. “No. I won’t let you do this to me!”  

Ted sighed, raising the puppet replica of Paul. “Then I’ll have to show you how much better my way is.”  

Paul braced himself. As Ted moved the puppet, Paul felt an invisible force tugging at his limbs. He resisted with all his might, but his body mimicked the puppet’s motions. He turned to Mick, who watched with that same terrifying smile.  

“Mick, fight it! Don’t let him do this to us!”  

Mick’s smile faltered momentarily, a flicker of the real Mick shining through. But then Ted tightened his grip on the strings, and Mick’s smile returned, more plasticky than ever. “It’s too late, Paul. Just let go.”  

Paul’s vision blurred with tears as his movements became more mechanical like the puppet Ted controlled. He felt his will slipping away, replaced by an overwhelming urge to obey.  

As Paul succumbed to Ted’s control, the environment around him changed. The warm, homey atmosphere of their house began to fade. Their eclectic wooden furniture morphed into plastic replicas, the rich colors fading into garish, bright hues. Walls that once showcased their travels and memories now displayed smooth, sterile lines as if everything had been replaced with cheap imitations.  

Paul’s skin began to harden and smooth out, taking on an artificial sheen. His beard, once a symbol of his rugged charm, transformed into a painted-on version. His body felt rigid, movements almost robotic and twitchy. He looked down and saw his flesh becoming plastic, hard and unyielding. The sensation was terrifying and strangely comforting as if he was being insulated from the complexities of the real world.  

His cock and balls, once a source of masculine pride, intimacy, and connection with Mick, were now smooth and featureless, molded into the sexless painted-on underwear of an action figure. The physical transformation mirrored the mental one as his carnal desires faded away, replaced by an artificial urge to play house and move in prescribed patterns.  

Paul’s last coherent thought was a desperate plea for freedom, but it was drowned out by the flood of compliance washing over him. His face settled into a mirror of Mick’s uncanny smile.  

Ted’s voice was a cold whisper in his ear. “See? It’s easier this way. No more worries, no more decisions. Just let me guide you.”  

Paul felt an overwhelming urge to obey and follow Ted’s commands without question. The complexities of his former human emotions and thoughts were replaced by an oversimplified, one-dimensional desire to please his Master. His mind, once filled with the rich tapestry of life’s experiences, was now a blank canvas, ready for Ted to paint his desires upon.  

Ted stepped back, admiring his handiwork. “Welcome to the fold, Paul.”  

Mick and Paul stood side by side, their expressions eerily identical, their movements stiff and synchronized. They were no longer men with their own wills and desires. They were marionettes bound by invisible strings to their puppet Master.  

And Ted? He smiled, knowing he had won. The strings might be invisible, but the control was absolute. 

Want to get regular updates and fun stuff like free stories that are only for subscribers? Sign up for My newsletter.