Emily was ecstatic when she first opened her boutique. From childhood she had dreamed of having her own store, a magical place where it was possible to find the perfect dress for every moment. Unfortunately, despite her charm and excellent taste, her need for perfection conflicted with the needs of a thriving business. She was committed to having the best selection and the best quality, but her sales never quite managed to keep pace with her costs for long. Her store’s location in the mall assured her of visibility but also of higher rent. The continuous changes of each season dictated that she sell the remains at a bargain price, eating further into her profits. A few bad decisions here and there, and after two years of struggling, Emily found that it was totally impossible for her keep her store open. Not only was she totally in the red, but even if she closed the boutique, Emily would be in debt for many years. But there was no other option.
Broken-hearted, she put up a “Going Out of Business Sale” sign, in hopes of recovering some of her losses, and began to collect her personal things about the store that had been the center of her life for two years now. When she closed up the boutique for the final time, Emily couldn’t stop crying, and in her thoughts appealed to any power, any god to keep open her store. No matter the sacrifice, it would be worth it to keep her dream, her baby, alive. And she was heard.
But not, unfortunately, by a god. Or at least, not by a good one.
Emily’s despair awoke a spirit, old and evil. It was a thing that had lain asleep for uncounted years, locked away by a long-forgotten tribe and held fast in the deep earth beneath the land on which the mall now stood. Her anguished thoughts would never have disturbed it, but Emily was descended of the people of the tribe; it was barely a fraction of a part of a single drop of blood from the grandmother of her grandmother... but enough of a connection to weaken the spell that had bound the evil spirit for millennia, enough for the entity to break its jail, free to roam again.
The spirit, a thing of pure thought, first entered the minds of every person in the mall, learning in seconds everything about the long centuries though which it had slept. True magic seemed to have been forgotten, and thus there was little fear of being sealed away again. It would take no risks, however, and so it decided something must be done about the human who had made escape possible, the one person it knew could be a threat. In the tradition of its kind, it would grant her wish... but not in the way she desired.
When Emily went into the store’s back room, she felt a sudden chill. Stiffness invaded her body, her sight was clouded by dizziness. When she tried touch her forehead, her hand felt cold... and soft. She saw it... and she moaned. Her hand was plastic!
She wanted to scream, but the stiffness had spread and only a dull grunt fought its way out of her mouth. Terrified, without understanding, she fell to the floor and within moments her paralysis was complete, leaving her frozen in an awkward pose, her gaze locked on the sole mannequin remaining in the store.
Emily tried to scream for help, but she could no more speak than move. The mannequin, indifferent ’til now of her distress, slowly turned its head to regard her. A moment passed; the silent figure took a step towards her and then another. Emily stared blankly in dreadful wonder as it approached her.
The spirit that now inhabited the display figure had needed a body for its new physical incarnation, and had chosen a female form. The artificial body would serve well ... after a few changes, thanks to her liberator. It reached down, picked up Emily, and posed the paralyzed woman so her rigid body would stand without aid. She was half-crazy, trying to understand what was happening, but the mannequin was as silent as it was efficient. Emily screamed mentally as she was stripped, and her clothes taken by the mannequin, but nobody could hear her thoughts. Soon she stood naked before the mannequin, which was now dressed in her stolen clothes. The figure placed its right hand in its own face, and reached out with the left to touch Emily’s face. With a strange gesture, the features of Emily were exchanged with the those of the mannequin. After another twitch, the plastic figure of the mannequin grew more and more alive, until it seemed to be flesh and blood. Now, Emily was totally unrecognizable, only a simple display figure, and the mannequin was... Emily.
Then the evil creature spoke at last.
“My thanks for liberating me, girl. It has been long centuries since your ancestors locked me away. In return for my freedom, I now grant your wish, the wish which, through your sadness and desperation, alone could rouse me and break the binding spell. You wanted to stay here, in your store, forever, and so you shall. But I’m afraid that it will not be as you thought ...”
Again, Emily screamed, but her plastic body could make no sound. And the spirit laughed cruelly.
“Now, I will go to explore this... modern world. It has greatly changed, but I am sure that I can play with the ambition and bad desires of the humanity as I did so long ago... But I need something more of you, your memories. Now I am almost you, but I need your knowledge to fully be you...”
The fake Emily put again her hand on the forehead of the new mannequin, and Emily felt her mind being ... drunk, empted slowly of her memories running, back, back to the day she was born. The girl tried to fight, but it was futile. Within seconds, Emily was gone, only a blank soul inside of a shell of plastic, incapable to think, to feel in a artificial body. Then nothing.
With an evil smile, the new, fake Emily left the mannequin with the other useless stuff of the closed store, alone in the back room, but in her store, as she had been promised.
Searching her new memories, the spirit considered what would be its next evil in this new modern world. The face that had belonged to a human named Emily twisted in a cruel expression. This would be fun.