A Viral Fashion Trend
by A. M. L.
Friday night, a little past six. It’s as busy as it gets in the city, all at once everyone’s trying to get home, to a restaurant or bar. High above it all, at the upper-floor of the tallest building it’s far quieter. In a parlor, empty offices behind its walls, there are just two woman sitting across from each other. The business woman with long blond hair, dressed in a skirt suit, short with ample cleavage. And the Muslimah, except for her hands and face, her body completely hidden by a featureless long black coat and ditto headscarf. Two woman who couldn’t be more different, right?
No actually, they are identical. Same green eyes, nose, mouth,… everything. They aren’t just sisters, they are identical twins. Up until their late teens nobody could tell them apart. Tastes, mannerisms, fashion sense, interests, hobbies,… All appeared to be just as indistinguishable as the sisters DNA. Only when they started their higher education did their ways finally part. Fey Falk decided to study neuroscience which led to a doctorate in neural engineering, a field she’s at the top of. And also got interested in spirituality with as result a conversion to Islam and a new name; Fatma Falk.
Meanwhile Fiona Falk had stayed as irreligious as ever, not even interested enough in such things to consider herself an atheist. Abandoning her interest in science, Fiona went to business school. And with success. Over a decade later she was a wealthy woman. Owning Falcon Fashion, a sizable company that designed and sold women’s clothing.
The twins had taken very different roads. They hadn’t seen much of each other since. Not that they disliked each other. The Falk sisters had simply grown up to become so nonidentical that it rarely merited making time in their busy schedules to meet.
That is until now, they had something in common again. As different the paths they took were, at the very same time they both hit a dead end.
“I’m fucked!” Fiona started. “We’re not turning a profit anymore, not for a while now. The last year I’ve actually lost money, more than a little too.”
“What happened?” Fatma asked surprised. “You were doing so well all these years.”
“I did very well for a couple of years, yes” she admitted. “Falcon Fashion was the brand for who wanted high quality, locally produced. Then the crisis caught up with me, not enough people want or can spend real money on clothes now.”
“You can turn this around again” the Muslim sister assured the other. “You’ll be in my prayers.”
“I’ll need a miracle” Fiona sighed. “I’ve got just enough money left to survive the next year. Get a new collection out. It’ll have to make a big splash. Otherwise I’m done for.”
“I’m already” the headscarfed woman stared at the darkening skies outside. “All my research… It was all for nothing.”
“That’s not true, as far as I could tell you had breakthrough after breakthrough Fey.”
“It’s Fatma” she corrected her sister. “Yes I had plenty of successes, that appears to be the problem. I just had a major one and the head of my department didn’t much care for it.”
“Jealousy? Fiona guessed.
“No” Fatma responded. “If it were just that, he’d just attempt to take credit for my findings. He was threatened by my work itself. Called it a tool for evil!”
“What? Why would he say that?”
“Cause it would undoubtedly be grossly abused in the wrong hands” the Muslimah admitted. “Which is exactly why our institution should have developed it. The wicked have brains too. Eventually a less than moral person will stumble upon the same technique. I want to stay ahead of that, know how to defend humanity against the inevitable abuses.”
“You still haven’t told what it is you’re exactly talking about sis.” Fiona had forgotten her own problems for a moment, she was filled with curiosity now.
“I’ve hardly told anyone. It’s a secret I don’t want to burden you with.”
“Burden me” Fiona responded eagerly. “We’ve never kept secrets from each other, ever!”
“True…” Fatma doubted this was a good idea. But she indeed couldn’t deny her twin sister, she wanted to tell her everything. “This has to remain between us.”
“I’ve been working with fabrics as well” the scientist began. “A most advanced neural interface made out of textile. Its fibers form a complex yet undetectable computer. It only needs to be touching the subject’s skin relatively close to the brain.”
“That’s incredible” Fiona was visibly impressed. “So it’s like a bandage that can take a brain scan?”
“Not exactly” responded Fatma. “First of all, the fabric in question is like a kind of silk. And it doesn’t detect what happens in the brain, it changes it.”
“Oh” the business woman realized how that could be dangerous.
“Not as direct as you might fear though” she assured her twin. “It simply controls the flow and production of brain chemicals like endorphins , dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline. But in a very precise manner. Giving the subject feelings of pleasure, euphoria, excitement, reward, in very specific circumstances. I believe it could be instrumental in curing mental illness or addiction and other destructive/criminal behavior, through positive reinforcements.”
“So you can make people feel good when they do the right thing?” Fiona surmised her sister’s incredible achievement.
“Exactly” said Fatma proudly. “I already tested it on a couple of people just before I got shut down. It can really work!”
“Do you see any commercial applications” Fiona asked hesitantly.
“I know what you’re thinking sister” Fatma replied. “I had already given it some thought. I think we can help each other.”
February 1st, months later. It wouldn’t be just a regular school day. Not at this college, at least not for the young women who are being educated to become social workers. The females that take that course will partake in World Hijab Day.
It was still early morning, at least a half hour before the earliest classes would start. A lot of the students were yawning. They would still have been in their beds if it hadn’t been for Miss Thomas. The teacher that bid them to come out so early today.
As she stood at the front of her class many of the girls had trouble recognizing her through their sleepy eyes. The young teacher had a very different look today. She was wearing a headscarf. All of her hair hidden by a layer of silky fabric decorated with white foliage on a red background.
“I’m wearing a hijab, the Islamic headscarf” Miss Thomas started. “As future social workers you’ll deal with all kinds of people. Also those that belong to minorities, the Muslim community being a prominent one. Understanding them and their way of life is key to your future line of work. So I think an initiative like World Hijab Day is a great opportunity for us all.”
The teacher paused for a moment to lift a large box on her desk. It was open at the top, showing a dazzling array of multi-colored silk.
“I’ve been approached by Falcon Fashion, a popular local clothing brand. They’ve been generous enough to sponsor this initiative. We all get a free scarf.”
Jessy Thomas had been called up only a few days ago. Been asked to come to the FF offices for a meeting with Fiona Falk herself. Falk informed Jessy that they’d liked to help her bring World Hijab Day to their city. And would provide free hijabs from the company’s new line of silk scarves.
The teacher politely declined Falk’s proposition. Making an excuse about lacking the time in her lesson plan or not wanting to organize something that would exclude her few male students.
Her real reasons were that she didn’t want to mix up her classes with corporate interests and didn’t see what her students would possibly learn by covering their hair for a day. The entire proposition smelled like a ploy to sell clothing on the one hand and sell Islam on the other. Jessy Thomas respected all ways of life. But didn’t much care for religion. Especially when they involved sexists customs in which women were forced to dress a certain way. Strange they’d asked her of all people she thought. Jessy Thomas was the city’s most infamous atheist campaigner.
Still this was Fiona Falk she was talking to, the most successful woman around. So Jessy made every attempt to let her down easy, not cause offense. So when Miss Falk asked her if she would at least try wearing one of their new scarves now, Jessy didn’t dare decline.
Falk guided her over to a full length mirror at the back of the room. She produced a large silk square. Jessy Thomas had always been a bit tomboyish. So the teacher didn’t care much for the fabric and certainly not for the design. It was pink with a blue and yellow flowers. Ugly! The business woman folded it into a triangle and laid it over Jessy’s spikey black hair. The scarf was knotted firmly under the young teacher’s chin.
Strange, she thought as she stared at her headscarfed reflection. It actually looked pretty good! Didn’t her face looked exceptionally beautiful like this? Surrounded by silk and with her short hair out of the way. It did clash with the rest of her outfit though. She found her jeans too masculine, that top too revealing. What was she thinking when she dressed like this for meeting the great with Fiona Falk? Not that Falk’s outfit was that much better. She glanced beyond her own reflection to the woman besides her. Look at that skirt and neck-line, that wasn’t okay either. Then she concentrated on her own head and everything was fine again. Had she ever looked so amazing before? She felt so good, excited even. Maybe there was something to this anyway?
After that they again seated themselves at Miss Falk’s desk, Jessy still wearing her pink headscarf. Fiona Falk started to discuss the details of them organizing the World Hijab Day event. Pretending as if Miss Thomas had agreed instead of declined only a few minutes earlier. The teacher pretended the same. Jessy was enraptured by this unfamiliar garment. Constantly stroking her cheek or neck through the silk. Meanwhile letting Falk dictate exactly what she’d be doing February 1st.
Fifteen minutes later Jessy Thomas left the Falcon Fashion offices carrying dozens of silk scarves with her, one of them still on her head. She felt so happy and at peace that she didn’t take it off until the following morning, January 31st. After all, what would people think at work? That day a FF neck scarf would have to do. A poor substitute, but it was something. Jessy consoled herself with the thought she could again wear whatever she wanted after work. And the day after she would have an excuse to wear her hijab at the college.
And here Miss Thomas was at the front of the class, not just wearing a headscarf but an entire matching ensemble. Last night she had gone shopping. Her closet seemed to lack clothing she really wanted to wear. Jessy felt she needed clothing that was feminine and kept her body hidden. Her face was her finest attribute, the rest seemed almost revolting to her. The world shouldn’t see it. Fortunately unlike the other stores Falcon Fashion sold exactly the style of dresses, skirts, blouses, sweaters and coats she was looking for. With some more scarves thrown in for good measure.
So here she stood not only wearing one of her many new headscarves but also a high-necked blouse and a long loose skirt. A type of garments she never even owned before yesterday.
“The idea behind World Hijab Day is that non-hijabi’s try it for a day” the teacher continued. Meanwhile she studied the nearly three dozen female future social workers seated in front of her. Their hairstyles, their attire. Never before had she noticed how unattractive these young women tended to style themselves.
“I’d like all of you to join me.” It would be a great improvement she felt. “Please come over and select a headscarf for the day.”
This course tended to attract mostly alternative women. A lot of Hipsters with some Hippies, Punks, Goths and such thrown in. As they gathered around her desk Miss Thomas looked forward to seeing their colored, shaved or dreaded hairstyles vanish under that beautiful silk.
They didn’t seem particularly keen though. They had a hard time finding a scarf they liked. And weren’t sure what to do with it once they did pick one.
“You might notice I secured my scarf using pins” Jessy explained. “That’s an advanced technique though. I picked it up just yesterday from Youtube. I suggest you girls just knot it your under your chin and again behind your head for good measure.”
“Do we really have to do this” asked one student. Robin a Goth chick held a white scarf with black markings. Even though Jessy thought it would match her black garb well, Robin looked down at it with clear dislike. “The boys don’t, they aren’t even here.”
“I can’t force you” Miss Thomas started. “You’re all adults after all. However I wish that no one will waste this opportunity. I’ll keep today in mind when I need to grade you. And I’m sure something else will come up more suited to your male colleagues.”
It worked like a charm. Most of her students were in fact not so eager, Robin had just been the most vocal. But now they were all convinced that they would indeed need to wear a headscarf today. Their studies weren’t easy, nobody could afford to squander any grades.
So unenthusiastically each girl placed a silk scarf over their head and tied it off. And then the mood in the room quickly changed. Those tired young women, who felt dispassionate at best about this whole World Hijab Day thing only a moment ago were transformed. Their minds provided them with fresh energy and good cheer. This headscarf felt comfortable, ideal on a cold day like this. The girls loved the silky caress on their skin. They looked around at each other and saw how pretty the other students looked. Compliments started being flung about. Their teacher received the most though. Everybody agreed she was dressed the best. The other women weren’t so sure about their own clothes, it didn’t look right.
“So, what do you think Robin” Miss Thomas gave the Goth in the white and black headscarf her pocket mirror.
“Wow” was Robin’s amazed reaction. “I’ve literally never looked better. And to think I didn’t want to try this today.”
“That’s okay” the teacher assured her. “Only a few days ago I was also skeptical.”
“I do want to change now” Robin said as she gestured down at her black pants. “Back home I’ve got a long black skirt that will go much better with this.”
“Go right ahead” Jessy Thomas prompted her. “Your first class doesn’t start until a couple of hours right?”
After Robin most other students quickly left too. Going to find something more appropriate to wear or at least gone to find a descent mirror to admire themselves in.
None of the would-be social worker girls understood why, but that day turned out to be the best ever. They were just so happy and comfortable. Their classes and everything else they did was so much fun.
The problem with wonderful days is that they come to an end. This many girls found out the night of February 1st, also known as World Hijab Day. Most had simply taken off their headscarf when they made themselves ready for bed in their house or dorm. Cause that’s what you do, you take of the days clothes before sleep. Soon they regretted this.
Sleep wouldn’t come. Those girls felt cold, uncomfortable, anxious, depressed,… Those that slept with their lovers especially, felt quite unattractive too. A whole host of negative feelings cropped up.
Close to sunrise each and every one of them was sleeping like a rose though. However they had again all equipped themselves with their headscarf by then.
As they got up that morning all realized that World Hijab Day was now truly over. They had absolutely no excuse to cover their hair the 2nd of February. It’s not as if they had been turned into Muslims. Hadn’t start believing in Allah, the Quran or the rules that it held. Muslim women just happened to be dressed very attractively.
Each of these students went into the bathroom with their hijab, determined to exit without. Few succeeded, the bathroom mirrors made sure of that. As stunning as their faces had looked with hijab, as hideous they appeared without. Never mind that filthy straw that grew on top of their heads. Or the unattractively shaped frames that made up their bodies.
Robin was one of the few that made it to the breakfast table with only a neck scarf. Once she noticed how badly coffee was at waking her up that morning or ridding her of the foul mood she’d just gotten in, she finally caved. This would become the Goth girl’s second Hijab day.
To her great relief all the other girls in her class turned out to look just as spectacular as she felt. Besides those few male students, silk covered heads everywhere. Those that went shopping at Falcon Fashion the night before looked especially gorgeous. Robin was determined to do the same after class. She couldn’t wrap her head in that same white scarf with the black markings, day after day. She wanted more long skirts too.
But didn’t any of them realize how strange their behavior was? How odd that they completely embraced this attire in just 24 hours en masse?
Certainly, social work was not a course for fools. And plenty of other people had questions or remarks about these sudden changes.
The girls thought it was weird yes. However for the most part they just let it be a mystery. They all felt delightful and that was most important.
One of the more popular theories though, was that it was because of the winter cold. These clothes simply made the most sense this time of year. And as the weather warmed up the coming months they’d undoubtedly stop wearing the headscarves and such.
Robin believed she had simply stumbled upon the fact that modesty worked. It was elegant and comfortable. It’s how women dressed in most of the world for most of history for very good reasons. It was how they were supposed to dress, what was natural for her gender. Western society had simply lost it’s way when it came to women’s clothing during the 20th century. Catered exclusively to the need of men to see more skin and shapes.
That night Robin came home with a number of Falcon Fashion shopping bags. She had spent a lot today, everything she had saved up in fact. Her mother was not happy with how she spent so much on this weirdest of strange fads or phases.
Robin simply suggested to her parent that she’d try one of her new scarves, see for herself that they were really worth the money. It took some convincing, but eventually she let her daughter apply a scarf to her head.
A few moments later Robin’s mom was happy again, very happy indeed. Happy enough to spend an even larger amount at an FF store the day after.
Fiona was sitting in her office feeling immensely pleased. There was no scarf involved. She wouldn’t want one anywhere near her head. No, Falcon Fashion’s CEO just received an email with very good news. Immediately a call was made to her newest business partner, the other Falk sister.
“I just got news from our sales department sis” Fiona announced happily. “We got a big spike in sales in all our local stores!”
“Already” Fatma sounded surprised. “We only introduced those special scarves a few days ago.”
“What can I say. Apparently dozens of women purchased an entire new wardrobe in less than a week. Your atheist nemesis turned out to be an ideal emissary. Not only was she converted, she did the same to her students.”
“We didn’t convert anyone” clarified Fatma’s voice. “The scarves simply give them a strong appreciation of modest clothing.”
“And it so happens Falcon Fashion is the chain where those are most readily available” Fiona added. “Thank you so much sis. If sales keep up like this you will have singlehandedly saved FF.”
“I think that honor belongs to Allah” said the Muslimah. “Especially considering where my inspiration for the specific effects of these scarves came from.”
“Uhu” Fiona disregarded her twin’s religious comments like she always did. “I have to go now. Keep an eye on your bank account, lots of money is coming your way. Bye!”
While her mother was at Falcon Fashion store trying on headscarves, Robin had another great day at college. It had become a prettier place than the day before. There appeared to be a lot of girls outside her course covering their hair as well. Introduced to the practice by friends who studied social work or even friends of friends that did.
The male students didn’t really know what to make of this. For the most part they just accepted the new trend. Knowing it would of course blow over again, like all crazes eventually did. Besides a pretty girl remained a pretty girl. Even if her face was encircled by colorful silk. Flirting didn’t go away. It even became more common, since headscarf girls were always in a good mood.
Robin wasn’t interested at the moment though. She was instead engrossed by a story Sarah was telling. Sarah being a class-mate and also her best friend, at least since Sophia had disappeared. She was a Punk girl. Or was, all evidence of that in her appearance had recently vanished. She still liked the music though, what really counted. Her friend was telling about an experiment she did the night before.
All the headscarfed women knew how pleasurable the feeling of silk on the skin of their cheeks, ears, chin and neck was. It was one of the best parts of wearing it. Sarah had felt the same thing, also on another body part; her scalp. The Punk girl had a mohawk so the sides of her head were shaved bald. Considering that she didn’t like her hawk or any other women’s hairdo Sarah tried something. Last night she had shaved herself completely bald. And now she was glad to report to Robin that it felt even better.
Sarah had no doubt, the more skin the silk around your head touched, the more pleasurable it felt to wear a headscarf. Except when you covered your face of course, that be hiding your finest attribute as a woman. That wouldn’t be right.
Throughout the day the news of the Sarah’s experiment spread all over the college. The coming evening a lot of headscarf girls were determined to go hairless. Robin was one of them.
It was morning some days later at Fiona Falk’s office high up in the Falcon Fashion building. She had just arrived and took a seat behind her big desk. Meanwhile Fiona’s secretary came in bringing her a mug of coffee. “Good morning Miss” the woman greeted her boss while handing over the mug.
Fiona noticed her secretary looked very different today. A look she knew all to well, all covered up except for hands and face.
“Susannah, why are you wearing a headscarf?” Falk questioned her employee.
“Because I really like it Miss” was Susannah’s answer. “Our new collection is really amazing. My sister introduced me to it last night.”
“Does she study at the local college?” Fiona questioned.
“No Miss, she’s an older sister. Graduated almost two decades ago.”
“I see” the business woman said thoughtful. Not sure if she should be glad or disconcerted.
“Miss I just received a call that your sister will be coming over soon” the secretary informed her.
“Thank you Susannah, send her up when she arrives. That’ll be all for now.”
Only a little while later Fiona’s twin arrived. She was in good cheer. Which was of natural origin, Fatma again wore a plain black hijab.
“Have you walked the streets of our fine city the last couple of days or so?” Fatma asked as she sat herself down.
“Can’t say I have” replied her sister. “My chauffeur always gets me here and home again.”
“If you had you would see that something wonderful is happening to the women” the Muslimah said enthusiastically. “Modesty is spreading like wildfire. Our headscarves are everywhere.”
“That doesn’t surprise me” said Fiona. “The sales figures keep rising. My production facilities actually have trouble keeping up with the demand. I’ve ordered more weaving machines.”
“That’s great!” Fatma reacted. “I’ll be ready to outfit them with the means to produce neural interface scarves.”
“Yes, thank you” said Fiona. “I was hoping though that you could make some slight adjustments to how the scarves work.”
“What kind of adjustments?” Fatma raised an eyebrow.
“Well, first of all I got word that theft has gone up dramatically in my stores. A lot of scarves get stolen. Nothing we can’t afford considering our high profits, but better without obviously. So maybe scale the focus on modesty back a bit and keep the wearers more from breaking the law?”
“Hmm” her sister began. “I think you’re underestimating how complex programming this neural interface is. I would love it if I could keep the subjects from immoral conduct in general. But the most I can do is focus on one very specific part of the behavior. Since you wanted to sell clothing, modesty, imprinting a specific positive self-image, is the only option. If we instead started producing scarves that combated thievery, crime rates would undoubtedly drop in the city. But so would your sales, cause people wearing those scarves would have no interest in buying new clothes.”
“Okay sis, you made your point” she interrupted. “Could you maybe just scale back the drive for modesty a little. It’s maybe a bit much.”
“What’s the problem?” Fatma asked. “You’re making money, your customers look good and are very pleased.”
“That’s true” Fiona Falk admitted. “I just think it’s spreading a bit fast. So many people completely changing their style seemingly over night, people will start to ask questions. We don’t want to get into trouble.”
“Don’t worry about that Fiona. Nobody except me knows enough about this technology to recognize it in this. Not even the misguided man that wanted to destroy my work. Besides new trends going viral is nothing out of the ordinary in the 21st century. I’ve noticed some non-Muslim women on the street that are wearing a headscarf, but it’s not one of ours! People are already dressing like this just for fashion’s sake.”
“I just don’t want to take the risk sis” said Fiona. “Falcon Fashion is now saved anyway. We can afford to let the trend grow slower from now on. So please tone it down a bit with the new scarves.”
“I’m sorry sister, that’s not how it works. With this technology it’s all or nothing. Trying to lessen its effect will make it completely ineffectual. And soon your sales will be as low as they were before. I see you’re nervous though, so you know what…”
Fatma paused a moment and started rummaging in her handbag. Then quickly pulled out a patterned red scarf. Lunged it towards Fiona’s head. “Wear this and relax!” She was going to tie it. Fiona quickly moved her head to the side. And only just avoided any contact with the scarf.
“What the hell were you doing?” Fiona yelled as she pulled the scarf from her sister’s hands.
“What I always do dear sister” Fatma replied unabashed. “Looking out for you. You must be one of the unhappiest women in the city by now. Wear this and you’ll feel so much better.”
“You’re not wearing one” Fiona said accusingly.
“I don’t have to” explained the Muslimah. “I already accepted modesty years ago. In fact wearing hijabs that are far more modest than these westernized brightly colored ones. And also feeling very good about it.”
“So you just brought the scarf in the hope of trapping me with it?” Fiona asked. “That’s sick!”
“No, no, no sister” Fatma tried to calm her down. “I always have a few scarves in my handbag now. Helping people that are troubled. Local Muslim mothers were always struggling with rebellious daughters, led astray by todays youth culture. I’m well on my way to solve that problem singlehandedly.”
“That’s even worse!” Fiona reacted. “You’re actively brainwashing people.”
“I’m not hurting anyone” Fatma defended herself. “Modesty is a good thing, it helps and protects women. Our scarves simply reward proper behavior. The same thing teachers and parents all over the world do with children.”
“I’ve heard enough!” Fiona snapped at her twin. “Get out of my office. We aren’t partners anymore. I made a big mistake, but it ends here. I will neither produce nor sell one more of your mind control scarves.”
“You can’t do that” replied her sister.
“I can and I will” Fiona coldly replied. “I’m the CEO of Falcon Fashion and you are a monster! Now get out of my building or I’ll call security.”
Fatma just grabbed her purse and calmly left. Without saying another word.
As soon as her sister pulled the office door closed behind her Fiona Falk started making phone calls. First to her factory. Telling them to immediately stop producing silk scarves. And to destroy all those they had in stock. Soon after all her stores got a similar call. They needed to destroy all their scarves as well. Cut them up or light them on fire out back. It was still a little before their opening time fortunately. This would stop today.
The explanation she gave for these strange orders was that a dangerous chemical had gotten into all their new scarves. Fiona was hoping this would also scare those that were already wearing them enough to stop doing so.
Susannah Dreyer was a good secretary. She worked hard and was attentive to the wishes of her boss. The only thing that made her less than perfect was Susannah’s tendency to eavesdrop.
It wasn’t her fault really. Conversations from Fiona Falk’s office tended to be carried through the air vent to the secretary’s desk. She couldn’t help pay attention whenever that happened.
So Susannah had been privy to the Falk sisters plans since the start. She didn’t think much of it at first. Two desperate women that had put their final hope in a technology that couldn’t possibly exist yet. The secretary had already started looking for a new job, Falcon Fashion would be bankrupt in a few months.
Like Fiona Falk, Susannah didn’t know how to feel once these scarves turned out to be a great success. Yes, it was scary what they were doing to women. On the other hand, she’d be keeping her job.
And then there was another thing. A perverse curiosity in how it would feel like to be controlled and transformed by these headscarves. It would be easy enough to try. The building included an entire show-room full off clothing from the new collection, scarves included. But Susannah resisted the temptation.
That was until she met up with her sister yesterday. Who had been convinced by someone at her job to try an FF scarf, she loved it. Now she wanted her little sister Susannah to do the same.
Unlike all those other women, Susannah Dreyer knew full well what it would do to her. She had some hope that being aware of the effect would negate it. She let her sister convince her, she took the risk.
The silk square was green with panther spots. It was pretty, that helped. Susannah put it over her head, after first folding it into a triangle. Which she followed up with a tight double knot under her chin. It started working instantaneously.
Susannah was quite the party girl in the weekends. But no substance she ever encountered compared to the feeling that filled her now. She was never going to take this off!
Now a day later having a layer of silk covering her ears didn’t do much to hamper Susannah in listening in on her employer’s conversations. As Miss Falk started to make phone calls, the secretary soon did the same.
“Good morning, Mister Perrot. It’s Susannah here.”
“Hi Susannah!” Mister Perrot greeted her back. “I just got off the line with Miss Falk. Did she forget something?”
“Indeed” answered Susannah. “Turns out it was all a misunderstanding. The scarves are safe, you can keep producing and shipping them out.”
“I already thought it was a strange request” said Perrot. “I couldn’t figure out how such a contamination could possibly have happened.”
“It was misinformation from a competitor” the secretary explained. “In response to our big success they are trying to hurt the FF brand.”
“Argh, that’s nasty” he responded.
“We’ve just worked out a strategy to fight this. We want all employees to become ambassadors of the new collection. Give all the workers some free scarves from your stock to take home to their friends and family. For the time being we’ll also require all female Falcon Fashion employees to wear a headscarf.”
“Good” said Perrot. “I’ll make it happen.” Then he paused. “You know at first I didn’t really like this new trend. I got quite a shock when my daughter first came home with a headscarf, feared that she had an Arab boyfriend or something. And then my wife started wearing one, that was even weirder. But to be honest, since then things got a lot better at home. Before my daughter was struggling with depression and me and my wife were heading towards divorce. The last few days all those problems seem to have gone away.”
“It’s the power of fashion” declared Susannah and then they said their goodbyes.
After that the secretary made similar calls to their stores and all the different departments within the building.
Since last night Susannah always felt good. But knowing how many women she just helped to become happier and more attractive, she felt even better.
A few hours had past since the Falk twins had their falling out. Fiona had been making calls non-stop since. Now that she felt confident that her company would not sell one more brainwash scarf, it was time to concentrate on those that were already out there. Women needed to stop wearing them. She would have to get the media involved.
“Susannah, would you please get in here” she spoke through the intercom. “I need your help, we’re going to call a press conference.”
“Yes Miss” Susannah answered. “I’ll be right there.”
“Why are you still wearing that!” Fiona Falk nearly exploded when her secretary entered. “Didn’t you get the message?”
“What message would that be Miss?” Susannah remained pleasantly calm.
“The email that said that those scarves are poison, idiot!” Fiona nearly screamed at her still composed employee. “You were supposed to send it out to every Falcon Fashion account.”
“That mail didn’t get sent” the secretary informed her boss. “Instead everyone got the message that in order to promote the brand, every female was required to wear a headscarf to work, starting today.”
“What, why would you do that?”
“Cause they aren’t dangerous, that’s a lie. These scarves are a good thing for women. They make you look your very best and every moment is a joy.”
“It’s not a good thing” disagreed Fiona. “Those feelings aren’t really yours. They are unnatural, it’s mind control.”
“You aren’t very convincing Miss” said Susannah. “I’ve starting wearing this voluntarily, fully knowing what it does. It’s simply better, you just need to try it.”
With that the secretary’s left hand appeared from behind her back. Where she had been hiding another scarf. “By now you must be the last woman in the building that isn’t wearing one of these. Lets fix that, shall we?”
Susannah walked over to Fiona. Holding the scarf out towards her seated boss. As she rounded the desk Falk sat there stunned for a moment. Not believing this was happening. Another step and Susannah would have her within reach. The scarf would close around her head. And she would never want to take it off again.
“No!” Fiona sprang out of her chair. Just in time to avoid the silken square. She ran out of the room.
There were office cubicles all around. Since this was a women’s clothing company, most of the staff that filled them were female. Their heads peaked out, looking to see what the commotion was. Every single one of those heads was wrapped in a scarf.
As she ran, Fiona saw them look at her. She knew what they were thinking: “Why isn’t she wearing a scarf yet? She’d look so much prettier in a headscarf. She really needs to put one on, it will calm her down.” Fiona Falk ran even harder.
She needed to get away from here. Away from her own company, her own employees. They were dangerous!
That evening Robin had gone shopping again. Not for herself though, the Goth chick now had plenty of scarves and modest clothing. Mostly in darker colors too. And her mother was always willing to lend her daughter something if necessary. No, this time it was for her fifteen year old cousin Betty.
The girl had called up Robin an hour ago. Turned out she had quite a tumultuous day.
For days now the other girls at school had been pushing Betty to try wearing one of their headscarves. She had absolutely no interest in this however, declined every time. It’s a trend the teenager didn’t at all care for.
As the headscarf girls kept trying harder, Betty got creeped out by their attempts. It only made her more adamant in her subsequent refusals. What was wrong with her schoolmates?
Finally today, they stopped asking. Betty was cornered in the girl’s toilet and they headscarfed her by force. As every woman before her, she absolutely loved it. But like so many others she now felt her current wardrobe was mostly inadequate. A lot of pants, no long skirts. So the girl called up Robin, planning this shopping trip.
The cousins went to a lot of stores. With the great success of the FF chain all competitors had drastically lowered their prices. Betty was a girl on a budget, so those places came first. There wasn’t a lot, but every shop had at least some clothing that was compatible with the new fashion.
Then came the main course; Falcon Fashion!
This being the brand’s home town, FF had multiple stores in the city. Still they were all chock-full of customers. A big difference with all the other establishments they’d visited. Those were slashing their prices for a very good reason indeed.
As busy as the FF store was, they still could spare a girl to advertise the new collection outside. She appeared to target female passersby that weren’t covering their hair yet. In a very assertive manner to say the least. The store clerk just came up to women and immediately started to tie a scarf on them. All her victims were delighted with the result though.
To the cousins it was hart-warming to see how the proper way for women to dress was taking their city by storm.
The girls ended up buying a lot that evening, it was so cheap. A woman that worked there had told them, word had come from the FF offices today to lower their prices to a minimum. Especially for the silk scarves. Of which there were now over fifty designs.
Betty was now assured she’d never have expose anything but her hands and face to the world, ever again. The unattractive features of the female body would stay hidden forever. And she dearly hoped the rest of woman-kind would get the same opportunity soon.
After the Falcon Fashion store, Betty and Robin decided to make one more stop. They were looking for that depilatory creme that removed hair permanently.
As frightened as she was, Fiona Falk hadn’t fled the building. If she wanted to stop this, she would have to stay right here, at the Falcon Fashion headquarters. As much as the women in these offices tried to undermine her, legally she was still the one and only boss. People like her sister and Susannah had just blindsided her. Fiona wasn’t going to let that happen again. She was determined to take charge now, let nobody stop her.
As the woman took refuge in a dusty storage room, Fiona realized she would need help. Fortunately half the city was born with something that made them completely immune to Fatma’s demon scarves; a penis! Now that all women except her weren’t thinking straight, men would save the day.
She would contact the authorities. And she would come completely clean about what she’d done. Take responsibility for her actions. Admit that in the face of bankruptcy, she helped come up with a monstrous plan to brainwash her customers.
The problem was, how would she reach anyone here? Her phone was left behind during the flight from her office. And she didn’t dare leave the dark of this room when there were headscarf women all around. Every last one of them undoubtedly yearning to add Fiona Falk to their number.
No, she’d stay in hiding until after office hours. Once the building had emptied she could get to a phone easily.
The rest of the day Fiona Falk spent cowering behind boxes of junk. Laying in the dust, in an out of the way storage room with the lights off. The CEO of Falcon Fashion, the city’s richest woman.
As uncomfortable and tense the situation was, eventually the humbled business leader drifted of to sleep.
Fiona woke up coughing loudly from the dusty air. As soon as she realized where she was, she held her mouth in dread. Certain that someone must have heard. She stayed as still as possible listening fearfully for the steps of someone coming to investigate the noise.
Instead she observed only silence. No telephone calls, no typing, no people passing by or printers and copiers spitting out paper. Nothing but a distant electrical hum. The office day had come to an end, everyone had gone home. Gone to convince more sisters, mothers, daughters or girlfriends to try on an FF scarf.
Fiona warily got to her feet and opened the storage room door. It was as dark beyond it as it had been inside. The sun had long since set and all the lights were turned off.
She walked down the hallway until she came to an office. She entered and sat herself down behind the desk. A clock on the wall told her she’d been asleep for a while, it was past midnight. Never mind that, she had work to do.
She called the police department demanding to speak to the chief. He had of course long since departed by this hour. But when the great Fiona Falk wants to be connected through to the chief’s home number, a lowly police clerk isn’t going to refuse. So soon enough she had him on the line and told the whole story.
“That’s quite a tale Miss Falk” responded the police chief when she’d finally finished.
“I swear it’s the truth Sir” Fiona assured him.
“And I believe you” he said. “A remarkable change has come over the women of this city lately. Now it all starts to make sense.”
“So what happens now?” Fiona asked.
“I can’t go into detail Miss. But be certain I’ll be planning and making calls all night. In a few hours everything should be ready to come into action.”
“What should I do?”
“Best to stay where you are for the moment” the chief advised. “And come to my office in the morning. I can use you then.”
“I’ll do that” she promised him. “Good night Sir, best of luck!”
“Good night Miss Falk” he ended the call.
Fiona went up to her parlor on the top floor. The exact place where it all started months ago. She pored herself a straight vodka and settled herself on the couch.
Nothing else Fiona could do now. It was up to the police to organize a response for the coming day. A plan to confiscate and destroy every last one of those scarves. And unfortunately it would almost certainly mean jail time for Fiona and her sister. But that was a fair trade against the alternative; a captive mind.
For the moment Fiona tried not to think about what her future would hold. She put on the television, hoping to otherwise occupy her mind. That’s how she spent what would most likely be her last free night, flipping channels.
The last thing she watched before turning the TV off was the city’s early morning news. The main story being that strikes were brewing in a number of local businesses. Starting today female employees whose male management didn’t allow them to work in a headscarf would refuse work until they got their way.
After seeing that report Fiona got going. It was morning, but still well before business hours. The perfect time to take her leave unnoticed. She took the elevator down to the lobby and got out on the street. Fiona Falk was not prepared.
This early there were already a descent amount of people walking the streets. Men and also a lot of women. Headscarf women, every last one of them. Fiona was getting stares. Her uncovered hair, legs and low neckline got looks of obvious disapproval and even disgust. Some of these women had started to rummage in their purse. In the process of pulling something out. Brightly colored fabric…
Falk saw the warning signs. She sped back into the lobby. Hoping that none followed her in. If it came that far, she still had access here to male security guards though.
Fiona wasn’t followed fortunately. However the problem remained of how she was going to get to the police office without drawing attention.
The idea entered her mind that she could just hide another day here until they had sorted everything out. But supposed that would reflect badly on her after she had promised the chief to come over. The more helpfull she appeared, the softer her punishment would probably be afterward.
Fiona considered just calling in, asking for a patrol car to pick her up. Then again, they not might be able to spare anyone today. So no, she had to get there alone.
The answer came to her when she passed by the show-room. She would disguise herself as a headscarf woman.
Fiona Falk started undressing herself then and there. She had to move quickly, before the first employees arrived. After wearing it 24 hours, she removed her skirt suit. The light grey garment was dirtied from laying down on an unclean floor much of yesterday.
Then she stood there among the mannequins in her lingerie. Stockings, suspenders, brassiere and slip she would keep on. Instead she undressed one of the plastic women beside her. She could keep her scarf on, but Fiona did take a floor length dark blue skirt and a satin blouse in a lighter shade of the same color.
As she buttoned up the blouse all the way up to her neck, the skirt already hiding her spectacular legs, Fiona considered the issue of her hair. She still couldn’t go out, not with her golden locks still showing. Unless she suddenly wanted to convert herself willingly, the scarves these mannequins were wearing weren’t an option.
Fortunately the woman knew there were still some silk scarves left over from previous collections present in the building. From long before she ever let Fatma tamper with her clothing line.
The Falcon Fashion offices had a lot more storage rooms than just the one Fiona frequented the day before. In one of them she located a box full of scarves that appeared to be from two years ago.
First she bunched together her long hair at the back of her head with a scrunchie. Then she draped one of the scarves over her head. A double knot under the chin, a double knot behind her neck and done.
No! What had she done? She had made a big mistake. These were new scarves after all. She felt her mind changing.
Oh, wait. No. As her momentary panic subsided Fiona realized she didn’t feel any different. This scarf didn’t feel especially pleasant or special. Her paranoid mind had just been playing tricks. She would have no problem at all with removing it again.
Fiona took to the streets again. The full morning rush hadn’t quite started yet. Still it was already fairly busy out there. She passed hundreds of headscarf women and headscarf girls as she walked. Trying hard to keep the worried look off her face. Except for when they saw an unheadscarfed woman these people always had a look of complete bliss on their faces.
Fiona tried her best to smile and appeared to be passing just fine. Good thing too. During her ten minute walk she saw at least three women get jumped for not wearing the scarf yet. The resultant scuffles were over before the surrounding men had time to turn their attention. The only thing to see was just another woman that had adopted the latest fashion. As most of the women they knew had done already.
Success, Fiona had made it to the police office. Even in the 21st century the vast majority of officers were still men. So this was assured to be a safe haven for her.
She went up to the desk and asked for the police chief. Who came to greet her a moment later.
“I’m glad you came Miss” he started. “However, I hope you understand we have to arrest you now.”
“I suspected as much” Fiona replied.
“I don’t think it will be necessary to put in you in a cell though” the chief continued. “I’ll keep you close by as the day unfolds. We will need to cuff you however. Officer.”
He gestured at a policeman standing nearby. Who got out his handcuffs. Fiona was going to cooperate, so she put out her hands in front of her. Where the officer quickly shackled them in steel.
“Now please come with me to my office.” The police chief gently put his arm around her shoulders, guiding her off into a corridor. And then into his office. A big room, but not quite as big as her own Fiona noticed.
Another thing she saw was that someone was already in there. Sitting at the desk with her back to the entrance was a headscarf woman. Her hair covered by a white scarf with black markings.
“This is my daughter Robin” the chief introduced her. “Robin this is Fiona Falk, the owner of Falcon Fashion.”
The girl turned in her seat towards Fiona. Giving a nod, not saying a word. Fiona gave no response herself. She was speechless. Staring in shock at Robin.
Robin hadn’t just hidden her hair with a scarf. Under that she had covered her entire head. Where her face should be there was just a silken floral pattern.
A few hours before Robin was sleeping in a headscarf and all-covering sleeping gown, when she suddenly woke. Something was wrong. For the first time in over a week things didn’t feel right anymore. That switch in her brain that had given her nothing but happiness had suddenly turned off.
She went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. There she saw it; her face!
It was still a pretty face, that wasn’t the problem. Robin just realized that it wasn’t supposed to be seen. Women needed to be completely covered up, their bodies invisible.
So the girl took off her red floral headscarf and reapplied it in a slightly different manner. She tied it over her head. Not just covering her hairless scalp, but her face as well. And with that the good feelings returned.
She couldn’t see much in this way. Just light and dark, shadows of large objects. But this was Robin’s home, she could manage. In that state Robin certainly had no problem locating a pair of satin gloves she owned. Her hands were supposed to be covered as well if she was to achieve perfect modesty.
That morning Robin’s parents had found a strange figure of which they assumed it was their daughter. No way to be sure. Neither the face or a single inch of skin could be seen. And it didn’t talk either.
Considering the circumstances, the police chief decided to take his probable daughter to work that day. Hearing this Robin took up some breakfast to her room. Where she could eat in privacy and prepare herself to go out.
Robin ate and drank with her facescarf resting over her head untied. Lifting up the food and drink under the fabric towards her mouth. After this meal her mouth was put out of business. She used another scarf to gag herself tightly. Women shouldn’t speak, that was immodest.
Then Robin retied the red scarf over her head, face and gagged mouth included. Over that came a regular headscarf, leaving the already covered face open. Just cause the girl thought it would be pretty that way.
As for other clothing, she each time chose the most modest option available. The loosest skirt, the most voluminous blouse, the quietest shoes.
Robin returned down stairs and a little while later her father guided her to his car. The girl had to be guided everywhere now she was out of her familiar surroundings. Her sight reduced to some flowers, a red sheen and moving shadows. It felt wonderful.
Eventually she was sat down into an office chair and left alone for a moment. After which the girl was introduced to her hero; Fiona Falk!
“What…” Fiona tried to get over her shock. “What happened to her?”
“She did that to herself last night” answered the police chief. “But you don’t know why, do you?”
“No” she answered truthfully.
“Your sister mentioned as much” he casually remarked.
“She’s here, you’ve arrested her?”
“Not exactly” a voice came from behind Fiona. In the doorway stood her mirror image. Even the attire was quite similar, but all black. Fatma was holding up her gloved hands in front of her in triumph. Demonstrating that unlike Fiona she wasn’t wearing handcuffs.
“Sir, what’s the meaning of this?” Fiona demanded an explanation. “You should arrest her too.”
“Why?” He asked. “Your sister has committed no crime. The city’s women are completely satisfied with their life thanks to her. It’s a better place now.”
“You can’t possibly mean that?” Fiona was appalled. Had he gone insane?
“I certainly do” he confirmed. “I’ve talked to the mayor, he feels the same. I believe most men do in fact agree with us. We all love our women, but you can be quite a handful.”
“So all females should be brainwashed?” She called out.
“Don’t call it that” Fatma intervened. “The women aren’t doing anything they don’t want to do. I’ve done experiments, this technique is ineffective when it’s used to influence a subject to do something unpleasant. Meaning that women don’t actually mind modesty. Which proves it’s their natural state.”
“Indeed” agreed the police chief. “The scarves bring harmony. No more conflicts with women, just peace and happiness. The next step will get some getting used to, but it really is all for the best.”
“Next step?” Fiona asked.
“First of all, expanding our operation” explained Fatma. “Increasing production capacity, exporting to other parts of the country and soon enough the world. This is already starting up. Trucks full of Falcon Fashion clothing are spreading out across the land. But the chief probably meant something else by ‘next step’.”
Fatma stepped out of the office into the hallway. A moment later she returned guiding in a woman. Just like Robin this anonymous figure had taken modesty a step further, in more or less the same way. The only difference being that this person’s face wasn’t covered entirely. A thin slit was left above where her facescarf ended and her headscarf began, only just showing her eyes.
“You remember Miss Jessy Thomas?” Fatma Falk said amused. “I believe it was twelve days ago when you introduced her to FF’s new collection, making her the first to enjoy it. Ten days later a headscarf suddenly wasn’t enough anymore. Of which her new look is the consequence. And for Robin here the first encounter with our scarves was ten days ago today.”
“It’ll be ten days for my wife tomorrow” said the chief. “There’ll be things I’ll miss I admit, we’ll all be happier because of it though.”
Fiona Falk was struck mute by what she was hearing. How was this possible? Why would anyone want this?
“You might notice I’m still not wearing one of these headscarves” Fatma said as she stroked the side of Jessy’s silk covered head. “For your average Western woman this is a big step forward. For me it would be a step backwards. The bright coloring makes them immodest. So a good start for unbelievers, but only that. That’s why I programmed the neural interface to push after ten days of wear for perfect modesty. A level I have yet to achieve myself, cause it is so frowned upon in these parts.”
Fatma now walked over to the faceless Robin.
“This isn’t very practical though and still too colorful to be ideal. I believe they realize this too. But they just can’t help keep wearing these scarves. For this reason a few new garments have been added to the FF clothing line. Including an updated version of the neural interface. I suggest we show her Sir.”
The police chief forcibly grabbed Fiona and took her into a side-room of the office. There was a brown leather couch against the wall. And in front of it lay a large pile of black fabric, satin or silk by the looks of it. From it Fatma lifted a long loose dress.
“I present to you, the Falcon Fashion abaya. The best choice for anyone who wants to achieve absolute modesty.”
Fatma pulled it over her head. It covered everything below her head. Even her arms were gone, if she didn’t reach out. She did though, took another abaya from the pile.
“I have more than enough with me, here’s yours.”
“Aren’t you going to uncuff me first?” Fiona asked. Hoping it would give her an opportunity to escape.
“No need” replied her sister. “Besides, in a moment you’ll probably enjoy those handcuffs. You’ll see it as something that further enforces your total modesty.”
Fatma put the abaya on her twin. After which she was pushed back, landing upon the couch.
“This is going to be a big honor” Fatma took another piece of clothing from the pile. It was unclear to Fiona what it was exactly. More complex than a scarf, far too small to be another dress. “You’ll be the first to wear one of these. I present to you the Falcon Fashion niqab. A neural interface in the form of a three-layered full face-veil.”
“No!” Fiona started to panic. She struggled, but the combination of handcuffs and abaya kept her from achieving much. Fatma could easily keep her still.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be next” she tried to console her anxious sister. “I love you Fiona.”
Then the light started to dim for the captive sister, as the multi-layered veil was lowered. She thrashed her head about. Doing her best to fend the sinister fabric off. It did no good. It was on her. All three layers resting on her face. Hardly seeing anything anymore. The terror in her hart grew manifold. And then…
Fiona felt fine again. What had she been worried about? This was good, amazing even. Such pleasurable sensations she felt. What a fool she’d been not to do this sooner. People had no business seeing her face or any other part of her body for that matter. Neither did she want anyone to ever hear her voice again. Fiona wanted a gag.
In a matter of seconds Fiona Falk’s self-image had completely changed. She saw herself as a silent black cone of cloth. That was the ideal, for her and the rest of womankind.
As Fatma Falk put a niqab on herself, she felt exactly the same as her sister. As they sat there next to each other the sisters were experiencing the same, thinking the same, dressed the same. They were truly identical, they were truly twins again.