Brand New You
(cross-posted from Deviantart)
The author invites comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Time to get back to work!" Angie declared as she pushed away her lunch tray littered with empty fast food wrappers. She flipped some of her long chestnut curls as she waited for her two friends sitting at the table to join her exit of the mall food court.
The redhead dressed in black, Jan, still nibbling her way through a vegetarian pita, nodded. "Yeah, can't afford to lose a job in this economy. Even if it sucks."
The young woman in short black emo hairstyle, Cam, grunted, "Don't talk to me about sucky. At least you have an ok job. I'd rather work in a bookstore instead of a donut shop. I go home every day smelling like I've been deep fried."
Jan smirked as the trio walked out of the court and through the mall's cavernous corridors sadly under-populated with shoppers. "It's not that great the bookstore. Their idea of fine literature is a Judith Kranz novel."
"Hey Cam," Angie interjected. "Don't I have a respectable job?"
Cam snorted, "I'd rather be deep fried than, like, working at the Lacy's Department Store make up counter. You're collaborating in the perpetuation of the objectification of women which has enslaved our sex for centuries."
Jan rolled her eyes. "You had to get her started!”
Angie smiled, "I want to make sure she gets plenty of mileage out of her gender studies degree."
"She doesn't need any help with that. She can't go 15 minutes without bringing sexism into a discussion."
"Like you can't go 15 minutes without going on about the Ayn Ryand." Anne shot back.
"Hey, Ryand's Objectivist Philosophy is just what we need to combat the assault on the heroic individual in the modern era."
"The assault on the individual is just a subset of the continued enslavement of women..."
"Ok, break it you two." Angie laughed. "You can turn the dogma off. We've got a couple months before we go back to college. Hey, check out that! A new store opened. It looks popular too." She pointed to a group gathered at a store window across the mall, the most number of shoppers they had seen in one place all summer break. A sign over the store entrance declared "Luscious Lingerie"
The three detoured to get a look, though Cam protested, "We shouldn't be supporting this. Stores like this sell links in the chains of bondage forged by the patriarchy!"
"Oh hush!" Angie hissed as the got close enough to see what the crowd was so interested in. The group was staring at a store mannequin displaying a velvet burgundy-colored corset. The figure was obviously feminine and on the curvy/busty side of voluptuous. Her short hair was a flaming pink and her nails and lips had been painted to match. She was posed with her head slightly turned to profile. One hand fell beside her hip; the other was raised as if it was gesturing to some unseen person or object.
The closer Angie, Jan and Cam looked the more they realized why the mannequin was attracting so much attention. The level of detail in its features was too exact. Its surface appeared too soft. Its color was too real. Its eyes, though blank and unblinking, sparkled like no paint ever could.
Angie gasped what the others were all thinking, "Oh my god, she's real! She's alive."
The other people in the crowd shared her awe.
"I've been looking at her 10 minutes and I haven't seen her even blink," said one.
"I can't even see her breathe."
"She can't be real"
"May she is like a holo...thing."
"Hologram, you idiot, and you watch too much science fiction."
The three young women lingered in the crowd, waiting for some betraying movement to prove the figure's humanity but they received none. Time ticked away but the trio found it hard to pull their eyes away.
"Come on girls," Angie said finally, "We're already way late for work."
Cam nodded as they left the crowd. "Fuckin' slut. She is setting back the cause of her gender back decades, maybe even a century."
"Hmph!" Jan protested. "She is entitled to do what she wants with her body."
"Even if it negatively impacts her whole sex!?" Cam shot back.
"It's an individual's choice to make! She is not a slave to the masses." Jan retorted.
"She is a slave to the patriarchy!" Cam said at a near yell.
"I think she was kind of hot." Angie said in a low voice.
Jan and Kim's jaws dropped in mid argument.
"Eeewww!" They said in unison.
Angie shrugged off the reaction.
"You saw the attention she was getting from guys... and girls."
"You could get those looks too if you wore less, a lot less." Jan scoffed.
"And you danced around a pole!" Cam added.
Angie blushed and twisted a curly lock around her finger. "It's got to be, like, the most incredible turn-on; being frozen and just drinking in all that desire and envy. You could feel the connection between her and the people staring at her. It was electric."
"You're so naēve" Jan replied.
Cam snorted. "You've been sniffing too much perfume at the sales counter."
"Last time I confide in you two!" Angie laughed. "Here's my workplace; see you later."
"Ask for a transfer to the store window." Cam teased.
Angie gave her a quick middle finger and went back to work.
That afternoon Cam and Jan met at the bus stop.
"Bus will be here soon and no sign of Angie." Jan noted.
Cam shrugged. "Must be working late."
"You don't think she's mad us for making fun of her, do you?"
"Naw; she can take a joke."
When Cam and Jan met at the food court for lunch the next day, all they could talk about was Angie's sudden disappearance.
"Her mom said she, like, decided to go back to school? Like last night?" Cam said in disbelief.
"Yup." Jan said before stuffing her mouth with some Chinese noodles.
"Just like that?"
"Yeah. I said it was strange but her mom didn't think so."
"That's pretty strange in itself. Her mother is, like, the Apache of helicopter moms."
"Even stranger, she doesn't pick up her cell."
"So she IS pissed at us for teasing her."
"Really pissed. We're even, cause I'm pissed she would just take off like that."
"You're pissed because you won't be able to borrow any money from her."
"No, I am pissed though because I was using her to get to her brother. He is like totally hot."
"Slut!" Jan joked.
"Guilty as charged." Cam said, looking at her cell phone for the time. "Time to get back to work."
The two passed the lingerie store again, and, again there was a crowd in front of the store window.
"Assholes." Cam grumbled.
"I did some online research on the store last night." Jan said.
Kim gave a skeptical scowl.
"As a business model." Jan sighed, "It has an interesting story. The line was started by a famous French model, turned lingerie designer, back in the seventies: Marie Luscious.
"What was she? The Martha Stewart of underwear?" Kim joked.
"Not really, the store mostly did high-end stuff in big cities like New York, Paris, and LA. You could only shop at the store by invitation. Luscious left the company in the mid 80s after she was diagnosed with some really bad cancer. She was, like, obsessed with beating death and the tabloids said she was hangin' out with weirdo mystical types, shamans and yogis, that sort of thing."
"Did she croak?"
"No one knows. Since she left, the company went downhill. The store was about to go bankrupt, but they got an infusion of cash from somewhere. They've opened up stores in malls everywhere and are doing real well, using that display gimmick we saw. The living mannequin thing has gotten them lots of free press."
"Typical. Using women in bondage to sell the chains of slavery. They are selling us the rope for us to hang ourselves with."
"Don't over-analyze everything. The shop is just giving people what they want. Hey, they got a new model in the lingerie store window."
Cam shrugged but she could tell Jan wanted to take a look.
"Come on, you fetishista, let’s see what they're serving up next in their debasement display."
The two detoured over to the store expecting to just glide past but, at the window, one glance at the model made them stop dead in their tracks.
She was a long-limbed young beauty, a near paragon of the goddess Diana. Her slim body was near perfectly sculpted by athleticism but not so much that it looked masculine or bony. The definition of muscles in her arms, legs and taut belly accented her curves, making them all the more delicious. The notches of her hourglass figure made a narrow waist between firm shoulders and a pleasant flare out to the hips.
Her pose had her standing with her hands on her hips, giving playful look from beneath bangs of bright powder blue hair that fell to just above her similarly painted eyebrows in front and well down her back behind her. She modeled a bra with a black flowery pattern that pressed her breasts together to make a dark inviting line of cleavage. A panty, with the same pattern as the bra, barely covered about all it was intended to cover. Straps from her low-slung garter belt connected to the dark stockings that decorated her long legs. Her feet were arched in glossy black shoes with heels of several inches.
Like her memorable predecessor, she stood impossibly still in the store window, a mannequin in pose if not in fact.
Of coarse, it was not only the breathtaking beauty of the model that captivated Jan and Cam's attention, nor her eerily remarkable ability to remain completely still. What interested them most about the model was it was Angie.
For a good ten minutes, Kim and Cam stood in dumbfounded silence, staring at Angie, oblivious to the appreciative stares and comments that their unmoving, posed friend drew from the crowd.
Finally Jan blurted, "Wow, Angie has been working out."
"Yeah!" Cam murmured in shock. "Nice abs." Then she shook her head as if trying to wake from a dream. "How can she do this!"
"The store must have given her a crash training course on being a mannequin." Jan replied. "She is good at it."
"No, I mean how can she do this after everything I said yesterday, how can she turn gender traitor!?" Cam cried. She pushed her way to the store window glass and banged on it. "You hear that Angie!? You're a traitor!"
The crowd gave a uniform gasp; first at Cam's audacity and then at Angie's poise. She didn't flinch at Cam's outburst. She didn't even blink.
Jan worked her way forward and made some silly faces and gestures of her own to try and get Angie to move, but she was unsuccessful as Cam. Even though Angie's expression had not changed in the least, it seemed to sparkle with an aura of mischievous defiance. The crowd appreciated Angie's refusal to budge. Some even clapped. This only added fuel to the fire of Cam's anger.
Cam beckoned to Jan. "Let's get her out of there!" she grumbled, stomping into the store and heading to the display window access.
They might have made it had not a store clerk rushed over to block her way. "Store displays are not to be disturbed," the female Clerk said firmly.
"Don't worry." Cam replied, sizing up the Clerk while deciding whether a push or kick in the shins might be the best way to incapacitate her. "This display figure and us go way back."
The Clerk snapped her fingers and a large barrel-chested security guard appeared beside her. "Frank. Escort these two out of the store."
Frank took each girl firmly by the arm. "Let go, you big gorilla!" Jan squeaked.
"We want to talk to our friend!" Cam cried.
The guard was wearing an earpiece. Someone must have told him something over it as he paused and nodded. He shoved Jam and Cam out of the store and told them flatly. "If you want to talk about your friend, come back an hour after closing. That's 10:30 pee-emm."
"Thanks for nothing, asshole!" Cam yelled back.
"Jesus, Cam!" Jan moaned. "What are we going to do!?"
"Get back to work, for one. Then come back here tonight to find out what the fuck is going on!"
Jan and Cam returned at the appointed time easily enough. Even though the mall was closed, the night security guard was more interested in texting on his cell than hassling them about being in the mall so late. When they arrived at the lingerie store the gate was pulled half way down.
"Shouldn't we have called the police?" Jan stammered.
"And tell them what? Our friend has been kidnapped and compelled to model lingerie against her will?" Cam replied.
"When you put it that way..." Jan conceded.
The two ducked under the latticework gate and entered the dimly lit store. Women's underwear was laid out in patterns on tables. Larger lingerie pieces hung from racks.
In the center of the room was the pink-haired mannequin they had first seen in the store window, still wearing her purple velvet corset, her face still stuck in its steamy stare. Cam boldly approached her. Jan was more cautious, moving like she was on a cliff face and afraid of heights, ready to dart away at first sign of trouble.
Cam waved her hand close to the model's wide glassy eyes to see if she blinked. She didn't even flinch. Cam touched the model's shoulder.
"She's warm!" Cam blurted.
"Check her heartbeat." Jan whispered.
Cam gave her a skeptical look. "You want me to feel her up?"
"Use your ear, you idiot!" Jan complained.
Cam put her ear up to the woman's breast and then felt around her wrist.
"She's got a heartbeat and a pulse but they're real slow." Cam said.
"Weird!" Jan exclaimed. "It's like she's in suspended animation or something."
Cam peered around the room. "Angie's not here."
"If this store has the same layout as my bookstore, there will be two more rooms in back and then a storage room."
"Ok, let's check em out." Cam growled.
"What if this is a trap or something? I am for staying close to the exit."
"Don't be so scared. I'm packing." Cam lifted her shirt to show a small grey pistol tucked into her pant's waistline. "It's my Dad's..."
"Do you know how to use that thing?"
"What's to know? You just point and squeeze the trigger." Cam replied, matter of factly. "'Sides, it's, like, mostly just to scare people. I don't even know if it's loaded."
"Great!" Jan grumbled sarcastically. "I feel way safer now!"
Cam grabbed her arm and pulled her deeper into the store. "Don't freak out on me now. Come on, let's find Angie."
Slowly, the two entered the next room. Two figures were on either side of the entrance. "Trap!" Jan cried and took a breath to scream.
"Chill!" Cam hissed. "They're frozen models like Angie and that one back there."
Jan regained her composure and took a closer look at the two new living mannequins they had encountered.
To the left was a kneeling long-necked woman with a heart-shaped face and braided bright, unnaturally yellow, hair. A rectangular panel of silk was draped across her front, from chest to thigh, barely held there by flimsy spaghetti straps over her shoulders and her sides, all joining together in the middle of her naked back like an elongated spider web. The form of the cloth over her front, the way it caught the outline of her plump breasts and thick nipples, the way a whisper of her hips' curves peeked out on either side, heightened the allure of what it concealed.
Her skin was light but luminescent, not pale. She almost gleamed like an angel but the "come hither" look frozen on her painted face was less than holy.
The woman on the right was of a darker tone, her skin deeply tanned as if she were born on some South Pacific isle but her features were Caucasian. Her elongated slim body was stretched in a lazy pose against the wall, her head turned slightly to the side with a coy look peering from her shoulder-length silver hair.
She was in a state of decorated undress. Her breasts were cupped by a skimpy floral halter from which a long triangular piece of see-through nylon stretched down her smooth tummy where it joined with a low-slung panty that covered as much as the most minimal modesty required.
"This is an underwear party gone crazy." Cam complained.
Jan peered closely at the kneeling model. "Hey, I think this is Trish Yearly," she exclaimed.
Cam nodded after she took a closer look, "Yeah, you're right. I haven't seen her since graduation. Wasn't she going to start a modeling career?"
"I guess she succeeded, but maybe not in the way she expected." Jan said, shifting uneasily.
Cam inspected the face of the standing woman. "Look at this one. Doesn't she look like Holly Goodman?"
"Holly Goody-two-shoes? Gosh, she was such a Jesus freak, she'd think she'd burn in hell just to even look at a store like this."
'Cam nodded. "Yeah, I think it's her."
"Like no way. She is a total beanpole."
"You're one to talk." Cam laughed. "You're so thin I can hardly see when you stand sideways."
"You're one to talk, thunder thighs!" Jan shot back.
Cam's eyes flared. "You total bitch!"
The subject of weight was a sore one for both women: Jan couldn't gain any and Cam had a hard time keeping it off. Though they’d had many a heated argument begin this way, Cam shrugged off her anger.
"Ok, let's chill. Remember why we're here."
"Yeah." Jan agreed. "What we got one more room to check out?"
"One more show room and then the store room." Cam corrected.
"Shit, I was afraid you were going to say that."
Jan and Cam entered the last showroom.
"Hey, if I tell you something weird, you promise you won't laugh?" Jan whispered.
"Uh-huh." Cam answered.
Jan winced, "Whenever we look at one of these mannequin women I totally get turned on."
"Yeah, me too." Cam answered. "When we were looking at Holly, I totally had the urge to swipe the sluttiest thing in here and go throw myself down for Angie's brother. Speaking of Angie, there she is."
They slowly walked over to where Angie had been posed -- by the far wall where a light shone down to spotlight her sculpted body. Her display pose was unchanged.
Cam gave Angie a pinch on one arm, but got no reaction as Jan marveled at her frozen friend.
"Like, wasn't she a little moley?" Jan mused. "Her skin isn't spotty at all now."
"Hmmm." Cam mused. "You're right. She had a scar on her shoulder too and that's gone. So whoever made Angie and the others into mannequins changed their bodies too."
"Man!" Jan muttered. "Like these are not the kind of applications you should find in a mall panty store."
"Well, whoever is behind this isn't showing themselves. So we'll have to check the store room.
"Oh no way!" Jan moaned. "Can't we just grab Angie and go?" Their still friend gave no sign of recognition as the two friends debated inches from her face.
"What are we gonna do Jan, take her to a doctor and tell him she's come down with a hard case of mannequinitus? The only way we're gonna undo this is to find the person that did it to her."
Jan had no argument to respond and nodded sadly.
"Come on!" Cam said. The storeroom is down here, past this hall where the changing rooms are."
Jan looked down the short corridor, which ended with the storeroom door. One either side were three doors to the changing room stalls.
"If this doesn't say trap, I don't know what does." Jan complained.
"You want me to pull out my gun?"
"Naw; that'll make this whole sitch even more dangerous."
"Thanks for that vote of confidence. You stay here if you're so scared. I'll check the changing rooms." Cam tip-toed forward, followed a few steps by Jan.
Cam opened each door and peered inside but found only the same thing: mirror, clothes rack, plush upholstered bench. When she reached the storeroom door she took the knob and turned to Jan.
"This is the last place to check. Moment of truth is in here, I guess. Coming?"
"Yeah," Jan said sadly. "Let me just get something to fight with."
"What are you gonna get, a clothes hanger? Come on!"
"Just wait, maybe I can grab a rod off one of these clothes racks." Jan complained.
"Oh you're useless anyway," Cam retorted as she opened the door and went into the storeroom.
Jan cursed her friend as she disappeared into the storeroom and pried at the rack, waiting to here a shout or scream from Cam. When nothing came loose, Jan sat on a bench with her head in her hands, afraid to follow.
Still nothing from Cam. Jan stood, debating whether to run or go into the storeroom. Jan admitted to herself that she had simply lost her nerve. Waiting back here she could make a run for it if something happened to Cam or meet up with her if something didn't.
While waiting, she took a look at herself in the changing room mirror, standing to see her full length. Her black pants and knit sweater and white t-shirt were tight but still concealed the near bulimic qualities of her body.
She was pale and gaunt. You could see faint trails of veins on either side of her forehead. A lot of people told her she was lucky to be thin but she didn't think so. Jan tried to shake off her introspection. "Shit, where is Cam!" she thought. "That's it, I'm outta here!"
Only Jan couldn't pull away from looking at herself in the mirror. She remained before it, staring. In fact, she had no control of her body at all. Instead of her reflection matching her moves, she was matching those of her reflection.
It leaned forward to get a look at her face, frowning as it inspected her thin skin. Then it smiled, and Jan did so simultaneously, to show that it knew that Jan now knew she was under its control.
Together they tugged up the bottom of their sweaters and pulled them off. Jan tried to mouth a protest but she could not even so much as curl her lip on her own.
She and her reflection pulled off their shirts.
"What the hell is going on!" Jan screamed in her mind.
No answer came; they were now removing shoes, trousers and panties, tossing them into a pile. Completely nude in front of the mirror, she studied herself, first scanning her front and then craning back to check out her bony behind. Jan didn't know which was worse, losing complete control of herself or her reflection’s look of distaste at their skeletal form.
The reflection reached to Jan and she extended her arms to it at the same time, their palms meeting on the mirror's cool surface. Their hands glowed as they touched and burned with a pleasant warm sensation. Jan softly moaned, an instinctual reaction from her flesh humming as the warm caress of the glow swept up her arms and flowed over her whole gaunt body. Her vision was obscured as she leaned her head back, still sighing involuntarily, but she could sense her body was changing somehow.
The effects of the change appeared mental too. The fright caused by her possession eased almost completely to the point that she ceased to care about it. In fact, she was finding it increasing hard to care about anything as her capacity to think was slowing to a crawl.
Finally, the glow receded, flowing back up her body down her arms and back into the mirror. Jan hardly noticed, her mind vacant, her eyes still seeing but her mind not contemplating much of what she saw. Her reflection stared at her new self with obvious delight in the change. Jan’s skin had pleasantly plumped up to cover up the outlines of her bones.
Instead of the hard bony shapes of shoulders and pelvis, there were now shapely curves. Her breasts had jumped a couple of sizes. Her skin had darkened to a healthy olive skinned cast. Her curly locks, her eyebrows, even her pubic hair was now a rich dark purple. Her nails and lips were painted the same color.
Both Jan and her reflection turned to the clothing rack from which now dangled light blue panty briefs. On the floor below were a pair of four inch heels of a matching color.
They took the panties and slid them up her legs. Next they slipped into the heels and posed before the mirror, primping, enjoying their newfound splendor.
"Jan! Where are you! No one was in the storeroom." Cam yelled in the hallway. Jan swooned for a moment as if waking from deep slumber. Her consciousness only had a flicker of its former strength.
"Here!" she blurted, stumbling clumsily out of the dressing room and nearly bumping into Cam.
Not recognizing Jan immediately, Cam squealed and pushed her away. Jan stepped back, with slumped shoulders and a confused glassy-eyed stare as if she didn't know what to do next and wouldn't do a thing until someone told her. She thought again about posing with her reflection and almost faded out.
Cam glanced at the model’s face and found enough of her friend's features. Surprise quickly turned to anger when Cam realized who the near naked purple-haired beauty was.
"Jesus fuckin' Christ, Jan, what the hell happened to you!" she cried.
The only word Jan could muster to explain was, "Dunno." Anything more was too complicated for her to form into thoughts, let alone words.
Cam's eyes narrowed.
"We're being fucked with big time. Let's get out of here!"
Jan found some will cutting through her fog but all she could manage to say was, "Kay."
"You can't go home like this!" Cam groaned. "Dag! Where are your clothes!?"
It was an easy question but Jan had to concentrate to answer.
"In. There." She said with effort, pointing to the dressing room.
"Wait here." Cam told Jan. She needn't have bothered. If Jan wasn't asked a question her mind slipped easily into an empty holding mode that left her staring into space as her body found an attractive pose to hold.
Cam searched the dressing room but couldn't find any of Jan's clothes. She was ready to give up when her eyes caught sight of her reflection. It began to move on its own and Cam found that how and where it moved, she had to follow. Her plump image put her hands on her hips and tapped her foot. Cam did the same. Cam tried to protest but she found herself mute. Her mouth was beyond her control. She and her reflection moved as one, but it was the reflection calling the shots.
They wriggled out of their hoody and discarded their t-shirts, bra and then yoga pants. This left them in a frilly Polka-dot thong, something that brought a smirk to their faces -- and to Cam an embarrassed mental cringe. Grinning at each other, they made a tsk tsk motion with their fingers.
Nude, they now examined their blocky figure: thick fleshy waist, thick broad fleshy thighs, thick fleshy arms. They leaned forward toward one another and pressed their palms against each other's on the cool mirror glass.
"I'm going to change!" Cam told herself. "Just like Jan, Angie and the others!"
The golden glow surged over her. She tried to scream, tried to deny the rushing sensation that was utterly pleasant but she was the only witness to her own thoughts and deep insecurity. Her own mouth emitted a soft sigh.
As the glow receded, Cam could feel her body was much lighter and, when she could clearly see her reflection again, she understood why. She now had a dancer's body with a petite birdlike fragility that belied its physical strength. Her fatty mass had been removed, leaving her limbs trim yet powerful. Just as incredibly, her legs were longer and modeled to move with disciplined grace. These were not the only alterations to her figure. Her hips had narrowed and her shoulders broadened, making her hated pear-shape figure into an alluring hourglass.
Her skin had been purified of any imperfections. Blemishes, acne scars, freckles, even her tattoos, had disappeared as if erased, leaving a flawless lightly tanned skin.
Like all the others who had changed, her hair was a completely different color, pure white, which had grown to fall to her shoulders. So were her lips and nails.
Something to wear was draped over the clothes rack, though how and when it had appeared, she could not tell. She and her reflection grabbed the garments and glided into them.
The top was a sensuously slinky baby doll decorated with a black and white floral pattern and lace trim that ended high on the thighs. The fly-away front they brought together, gently covering each breast in a very loose bra by tying a lace strap at the bust into a bow. Below that light knot, the sides opened like playhouse curtains, showcasing her tight tummy punctuated by a long oval navel. A matching G-string covered her sex, now crowned with white hair like virgin snow. Finally, she stood into a pair of shiny black heels.
It was a body she could die for and she knew it came with a price, a price Angie was currently paying. She would be frozen and posed as a display figure, a sexy object, modeling this lingerie for who knew how long.
Fear and anger surged within her giving her consciousness the energy to regain control of her body. The smile on her face reflected in the mirror went slack now that her flesh met her own commands.
Cam returned to the hall, her mind sluggish with fog. She could tell she would simply stop thinking if she lost her concentration for even a second.
Jan was nowhere to be seen. Had she run away? "Jan!" Cam cried as she shook her head, trying to wake herself from her stupor.
Cam returned to the back showroom, her every step measured as she labored to withhold her consciousness from succumbing to a complete daze.
Beneath a spotlight next to a table of briefs, Cam saw Jan. "Jan!" she cried. But her friend didn't move. She was standing perfectly still. Her arms were crossed over her naked chest, discretely concealing her bosom. Her face looked down as if in a bashful blush, her lips fixed in a coy smile. Her eyes were glassy and unblinking.
"Oh Jan, not you too!" Cam moaned.
She tried to tamp down panic. Somehow, she had to get out of the store and convince someone about what was going on here.
Cam started running for exit as fast as she could. With her body now so light and sleek, she got off at a fast clip, her heels clicking loudly against the floor with each frantic step.
The burst of speed was short-lived. Her legs began to feel heavier as if she were climbing a flight of stairs that had no end. Gravity grabbed hold of her arms, pulling them down to lie helplessly against her sides. Her stride became slower and more labored and finally stopped all together. Her head and fingers moved in an ever-slowing action until most independent movement was denied her. The only parts of her body she still controlled were her lips, eyes, voice and mind.
"Oh my god!" she cried in despair. "It's going to happen. I am going to become a mannequin!"
Suddenly, she turned, or more accurately something, something invisible, turned her. Her legs kicked out and she swung her arms back and forth making a jerky toy soldier march back into the showroom where Angie and Jan were posed. As she slowly stepped along, her anger and panic-induced burst of adrenaline burned out and her mind began to again succumb to a cloudy torpor. It was harder and harder for her to think because as her fear and outrage ebbed, her mind became lazier. Information was harder to access; thoughts were harder to form. Desperate, she clung to her shrinking desire to remain free "Don't want to be a mannequin; don't want to be a doll..." she told herself over and over.
In her condition, it was hard to be surprised when another voice answered her.
"Oh Cheri!" A sing-song female voice with a comical French accent giggled at her. "Would it truly be so bad to become a mannequin?"
The sound of the voice somehow engulfed her like a wave, making her body vibrate with its tone. Cam struggled to hold on to herself as the feeling made her tenuous grip on her own mind tremble. She knew what was happening was wrong, but in her state, it was becoming increasingly hard find the arguments to object to it.
"No!" She cried. "Not a mannequin! Please!"
"Mon Dieu, such an ungrateful girl!" The voice boomed. Somehow, a feeling of shame ignited and throbbed within Cam. Even though she knew there was nothing to be grateful for, all the arguments to counter the ridiculous claim were so hard to grasp. Her failure to seize them seemed to give truth to the accusation.
"I've given you such nice things to wear." The voice told her.
As the words fell upon her, Cam almost became delirious from the touch of the silky soft texture of the baby doll nightie she wore. She had to admit it was sinfully sexy.
"Yessss, nice things," she cooed.
"I've given you such a nice body, Cheri." The voice said in a sugary voice.
Cam dwelled on the glorious sensation from her lingerie caressing her lean sexy body, the feeling added to the rapture. Her manicured nails lingered over her nipple in a slow caress.
"Such a nicccce body..." she murmured, feeling guilty that she had been ungrateful to whomever or whatever had made her look and feel so good.
Cam halted at a wall display. She felt compelled to step up onto it and turn to face the showroom. A spotlight was turned on that shone down upon her. She was like an erotic icon at an underwear altar.
Cam was now only a shadow if her former self mentally, a protesting series of thoughts as abstractly annoying as an errant gnat compared to the delicious sensations her body was enjoying. "Not a mannequin. Not a Doll." She still tried to protest but in barely a half-hearted mumble as if she were trying to convince herself.
While she stood, her invisible puppet mistress posed her at whim. Her right arm was moved against her side and her fingers bent so as to take the string of her G-string, displaying the ease with which it could be discarded.
"Oui Cheri, you pose like a mannequin. Like a doll, oui?" The voice teased.
Cam's head was turned slight down and her other arm pulled up so her hand could brush back her snow white hair.
"Yes, you are such a pretty doll, Cheri."
Cam's could not but agree as she found herself posed and unable to resist. Her protests dissipated like vapor to be replaced with acceptance for what she had become. It was such a relief to not have to fight anymore.
"Doll." She agreed flatly. "I am a doll. I am a mannequin."
Invisible fingers moved her lips back into a sultry smile.
"Yes, you are, and it looks like you enjoy being one."
"Yes!" she sighed. Her breathing slowed until a near stop and her eyes ceased to blink but she felt no discomfort.
"Good, but dolls do not think; they feel. Stop thinking, doll."
The doll's mind went blank. It existed, it still saw the showroom; it felt the lingerie upon it, but all words, all contemplation of its surroundings and itself had evaporated. It simply was. It thought nothing about the laughter that twittered around the showroom like city sparrows chasing a breadcrumb.
When all the lights went out, the Cam mannequin entered a void.
The Cam mannequin's existence returned when the lights were turned on the next day. Its reality was all that its fixed unthinking, uncomprehending stare encompassed across the showroom.
A couple of store clerks entered and pointed and laughed at the new store display models. Without any ability to catch the words or attach meanings to them, their talk reverberated momentarily in the Cam mannequin's mind, as they would in the corners of an empty room, forgotten as soon as they had been sounded.
A young couple, browsing the store's goods, intruded on this blankness. They paused to stare at the Cam mannequin, standing in the center of her fixed gaze, their eyes taking in her motionless perfection. Slowly it felt something, an energy between the two, a magnetism they felt for each other; somehow it drew that connection and its energy into herself filling her emptiness with its warmth, its energy, in a rush of ecstasy. It drew deeper from the two patrons, sucking at their surface feelings of attraction until it extracted the roots their hidden carnal desires, their secret lust for the other's body, their intoxication with their touch and the hunger for consummation. These alien emotions and feelings filled and flooded the mannequin like wine splashing into an empty glass, becoming its food, its blood, its breath, making her transfixed body burn with life, neurons firing, nerves pulsing and centers of pleasure burning with rapture; the Cam mannequin became a vessel for a tempest of yearning.
The Cam mannequin did not steal the feelings of its watchers but reflected them – magnified – back on their owners, giving them a succulent taste of the full potential of what they did feel, could feel, wanted to feel but in the awkwardness of an early relationship were not ready to acknowledge or satisfy. The couple grew flushed as they stood before the elegant Cam mannequin; unknowingly drinking in the energy it emanated and looked at each other hungrily. The young woman grabbed a replica of the baby doll set that the Cam mannequin was wearing from a rack. They paid for it and ran out of the store, desperate to get home and give their desires physical manifestation.
So it was with other customers. The Cam mannequin drew out the fire in a married couple that had since gone cold and sent them home ablaze with the need to rekindle their sensuality. It sucked in the yearnings of a shy man and gave him the bravery and firmness of purpose to ask for what he wanted. It made a prudish woman's inhibitions fade before an awakened lust to experience her dreamed-of fantasies.
And there were so many others. The mannequin could not count them but it felt each as different and feasted on their desires. It felt waves of energy emanate from the Angie and Jan mannequins as they too delivered a similar impact on customers as she was giving.
* * *
Cam woke up, leaning back on a couch in the store storeroom, next to Angie and Jan who were also opening and rubbing their eyes. They lazily looked at themselves and each other, finding they were back in their old bodies and old clothes.
"Wow!" Cam exclaimed, taking a deep breath.
"Oh wow!" Jan added.
"Double wow!" added Angie.
"I felt..." Cam paused, unable to find words to describe the experience.
"Like a battery of orgasmic energy." Angie observed.
"One thing's for sure." Jan added. "It's going to be hard to find a guy who can top mannequin ecstasy."
An older store clerk appeared with three long slips of paper and handed one to each. "There's one for you, you, and you."
Their collective jaws dropped.
"A check of $10,000?"
"For a month's work. The sales and publicity you three generated it was well worth it."
Knowing what was coming, the Clerk raised her hand to cut off the question.
"You were transformed by Madame Marie Luscious."
"Where did she get the power to do that?" Cam asked. "She was an underwear model, for chrissake!"
The Clerk smiled. "Madame Luscious was close to dying from cancer when she met a mystic who freed her spirit from her body, making her exist absent the weakness of flesh. In her new state, she cannot die of disease or old age. She is pretty much immortal. As an extra benefit turns out she can exert some control energy and matter. She has gotten into redesigning bodies and minds."
"I can tell. So she is, like, a ghost?" Jan interrupted.
"You might say that. Part of the exchange of freeing her spirit is that it had to be bonded someplace on earth to survive, a place that they can never leave. Those who do this sort of thing usually get bonded to a house or some location outdoors. They're known as ghosts, poltergeists, elves or fairies, things like that, when people run into them and they show themselves. Madame Luscious chose to be bonded to her business."
"She haunts the store?"
"More like haunts all the stores. She can transfer her sprit between them. She likes to have a change in scenery. But she's not just hanging around. She runs all aspects of the company, from making the business plan, to clothing designs, to choosing and okaying the floor displays."
"That is one hard-working ghost." Cam joked.
"Yeah, well, eternity can get real boring if you don't have a day job."
Jan interrupted, "Hey, where are Holly and Trish?”
"They've crossed over." The clerk replied matter-of-factly.
"You killed them!?" Jan gasped.
The clerk rolled her eyes. "Of course not, silly. They've become mannequins permanently, with Madame’s assistance. "Take a look."
The Clerk went to two coffin-sized boxes and opened the lids of each. Inside one was Trish, inside the other was Holly, but not as they had appeared on them sales floor. Their skin was now a bloodless pale and looked hard; their features seemingly etched on their faces by a cast or print. They were both completely hairless. Their eyes were the same color as their skin, blank of pupil and iris. The curves of their bodies and muscles were subtle yet recognizable.
"In this form they will be valuable for Madame to remake into mannequins for any purpose at any time." The clerk explained. "She can have them grow hair, change skin color, enlarge or shrink the bust, give them different racial types – I've heard rumors she has made some look like animals. She can pose them in any way, even some, erm, unnatural positions. They'll be perfect for any display and can catch a good price if sold, say for a collector's sculpture garden."
"Are they still Holly and Trish?" Angie asked."
"Oh yes!" The Clerk replied. "Of course, as you know from your experience, when you are a mannequin, such things as identity are unimportant to the pleasure you feel from being one."
"I can't believe they gave up their humanity." Cam said in a tone that could have been shock or envy.
The Clerk gave a sly smile, "You remember how it felt. Is it that hard to believe?"
The three young women remained in a silence that became increasingly uncomfortable.
"Time to go!" Angie said finally.
"I'm going to be hurt if my family didn't notice I was missing." Cam grumbled.
"Taken care of." The clerk said with a smile. "They were, er, 'convinced' to think you went back to school early. Speaking of which, if you ever want to model for us again, stop in one of our stores and the Madame will see that you are properly ‘employed’. She would not have taken you unless she thought you each had the right potential."
The trio left the store fingering their checks.
"What are we gonna do with all this money." Jan laughed, waving her check.
"Save it." Jan said.
"Screw that, I'm buying a car!" Cam declared "'Sides, if I need any more money, we can always get another mannequin gig."
"Whatever happened to ‘this place objectifies women’, blah, blah, blah?" Jan teased.
"Well...it's..." Cam stammered as she struggled to come up with a counter-argument. "Um... this experience is all about self-empowerment achieved via reaching a – like – new plane of being; a truly transcendental experience. Anyway, being a mannequin doesn't fit with Ryand's Objectivism, blah, blah, blah."
Jan opened her mouth as she tried to make a retort, but Angie cut her off.
"Oh quit it you two! You'll have all semester to rationalize this experience according to your personal ideologies. For myself, I loved the endless ecstasy! But I haven't eaten in a month. I want to deposit this check and go to the fanciest restaurant in town!"
On that, both Jan and Cam heartily agreed.