I read Jerry Oltion's "Scents of Compulsion" about advertisers using scents to cause compulsive behavior related to whatever the smeller happens to be thinking of (usually but not always the ad they are seeing). This reminded me of a different story in Asimov's or Analog in the 2000s about a paint gun type device; if the pellet strikes a person's forehead, the person has a specific compelled action - the example we see is buying fries at a specific fast food place. The main character is a woman affected by one of these devices - she initially works against the company that developed this technology but ends up working for them, marrying an executive, and using the device to keep her child in line (while presumably being controlled herself by the executive).

  • 3
    This happens in The Merchants' War (1984) by Frederik Pohl, but the main character is a man.
    – Spencer
    Jul 31, 2023 at 23:27
  • Yeah, this is kind of like Merchants War, but Mokie-Coke addiction didn't require any touching I think - the subliminal light show did the trick.
    – Andrew
    Jul 31, 2023 at 23:45
  • I remember this story, not "The merchants' war". I read it online, possibly here.
    – user108131
    Aug 1, 2023 at 7:41
  • I believe there is one misremembered detail in the OP's question: The MC in fact is the one who was kept in line via the chemical mind control, not the husband.
    – user108131
    Aug 2, 2023 at 6:27
  • You may be right
    – Andrew
    Aug 2, 2023 at 13:02

1 Answer 1


Found it! It is "Just Do It" by Heather Lindsley from F&SF in 2006.

The protagonist gets shot by a dart:

“You little bastard!” I yell at his retreating back as I pull out the dart out of my forehead. “I want your license number!”

Craving for fries:

The scratching releases a flood of chemicals that create a powerful and specific food craving. I brace myself. French fries. French fries from the den of the evil clown, where they don’t even pretend to use potatoes anymore. I hate those french fries, so golden and crispy on the outside, so moist and fluffy on the inside— No no no no no, I do not want them

Eventually using them on her son:

I unholster my parenting gun and shift the round in the chamber from Go to Bed to Wake Up. “Get up, Tommy,” I say as I draw a bead on his sleep-tousled head. “I’m not going to tell you again.”

Very dark comedy. I found it by googling 'dart fries craving', and it can be found online, but I am not sure what the copyright situation is, so find it yourself

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    Thanks! I added an Isfdb link
    – Andrew
    Nov 27, 2023 at 13:55
  • Wow... fun read, but agreed that it's quite disturbing.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 27, 2023 at 14:29

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