If you were out on the town Saturday night and happened to see a woman dressed, armed, and acting convincingly as Lara Croft, carousing with a dozen or so of her friends, then you were witness to one of the more elaborate posthypnotic illusions I've ever heard of. For nearly 12 hours, hypnoslave c was Lara Croft, and no one dared tell her otherwise.
The story began months ago, when c declared that her wish for her birthday was to go out partying with all her friends, dressed as her favorite character. (She is obsessed with Lara Croft, even more so than with Jack Sparrow.)
Her husband K agreed, and started quietly conspiring with c's subconscious, Megan, to make it an even more memorable night than c was expecting. He and Megan watched the films, played the games, and added musical cues to c's phone.
So for the past few months, while c was innocently telling me about her efforts to assemble a full Lara outfit (including black wig and toy guns), K and Megan were telling me about their parallel plan to hypnotically convince c that she was not just in character, she really was Lady Croft, and keep her utterly in that role for the whole night.
Saturday night, after c completed getting dressed up, and started walking downstairs to meet her friends, she felt her toy guns get heavier against her thighs. Her house turned into Croft Manor, and at the bottom of the stairs she introduced herself to all these unknown visitors as Lady Croft.
"It sounds weird," c says, "but I was Lara Croft."
Out on the town, the illusion just got more intense. Every time K sent her a text on her phone, the theme played and she became even more Lara-like. She walked (legs spread) like Angelina Jolie. She pursued a villain down the streets (onlookers' camera phones snapping). In a bar, she put her gun to a man's head and said she'd shoot him if he didn't give her what she wanted. "What do you want?" he asked. "For you to leave me alone," she said.
Remarkably, one of the bartenders pulled out a BB gun, handed it to her, and urged her to shoot at some bottles. (Megan reports that getting c to shoot straight was one of the more challenging parts of the night.) She broke one out of three.
Later, back home, Lara walked into one of her games. "That was hard," Megan says. "Lots of vines and grass and dinosaurs all needed to be factored in ... things for her to jump on, things for her to shoot."
She fell asleep around 4 am as Lara, and woke late in the morning as herself again.
c still sounds dazed and amazed by the experience. Megan, exhausted with the effort, says, "It's nice to give her something that no one else can."