"Helga Hoffmeier’s Hosiery Hut" - Part 2
Penny T. Hoze thought of three things, as she swayed back and forth in the suspended trap that her computer modified pantyhose had become. Her first thought was that the owner of Helga’s Hosiery Hut, Dr. Helga Hoffmeier - who had moments before captured her best friend Nina Tavares and turned her into a leg mannequin, and who now threatened to turn Penny into a computer controlled lifesize robotic mannequin - was crazier than a June bug.
The second thought was that, crazy or not, the good Doctor was a technical genius. Who else could have created a "nylon" magnet like the one that had attached itself to the soles of Nina’s stockinged feet, and then lowered the leggy model into a statue creating goo up to her waist, leaving only Nina’s beautiful legs pointing to the ceiling, stiffened into a perpetual pantyhose display? Or created an expanding control top like the one Penny was wearing - or rather, was now wearing Penny - that responded to a simple numeric command on Dr. Hoffmeier’s remote? No, when Helga Hoffmeier threatened to turn Penny into a lifesize mannequin/robot, made animate and then inanimate simply by the touch of her remote, Penny believed she could do it.
But Penny’s third thought was the strangest of all. Even with all that had happened in the last few moments of horror, Penny had the calm belief that she was going to get out of this. Somehow. Maybe it was because she had been in such a hopeless situation quite recently, and managed to escape. Maybe it was because her fear and caution had led her to keep an ace in the hole, and that card had yet to be played. Whatever the case, Penny knew that she couldn’t panic - wouldn’t panic - and that she had to buy some time. Fortunately for the trapped blonde, mad geniuses are quite susceptible to fawning curiosity.
"So, you’re going to use the pantyhose I’m trapped in to turn me into one of your . . . ‘displays’?" Penny asked, straining to put more curiosity than panic in her voice.
The scientist/boutique owner/nut case turned her attention from the mobile leg mannequins along the wall, to her immobile blonde captive swinging in a nylon net. "Certainly not, Ms. Hoze. The special microfibers in your control panel are effective, but rather simple. They only have the capability of rapid expansion." Helga Hoffmeier stepped behind the main sales counter, reached inside a cabinet, and pulled out a large square package, wrapped in shiny gold paper.
"Your ‘conversion’ requires something much more special," Helga stated dramatically, as she carefully unwrapped the package, and opened the box inside. She held up a full length, tan nylon bodysuit, with what appeared to be small gold studs up and down the sides of each leg, as well as in various patterns on the front of back of the garment’s top half.
"You will look quite beautiful in this, Penny. And with these special microchips fully activated, you will become quite submissive to my commands." As the old woman continued to admire her handiwork, Penny was struck first with a sense of great fear and dread. But then she realized something very important: for her to wear that robot- creating nylon catsuit, she would have to take off the pantyhose she was currently trapped in. Meaning, she would be free of her lingerie prison - at least for a few moments. But would it be enough time? She needed time to think of a plan. Which meant, she had to keep Helga Hoffmeier blabbing.
"This will be something different for you, won’t it, Doctor? I mean, creating a ‘temporary work of art.’" Penny stared sadly once more at the hardened legs of her friend, Nina. "I thought you were only interested in destroying others to make permanent displays."
Helga saw her lovely captive staring at the pantyhose display counter, and walked over to that area. She reached up and gently caressed the grey nylon sheathing Nina’s transformed legs. "I have created many kinds of displays for my boutique, Ms. Hoze." She waved her arms around her. "In fact, I have created all the hosiery displays you see, using my special talents."
"But, why? Why Nina? Why me?" Penny was still trying to think of the one best way to secure her freedom once she was freed from her nylon trap.
"Why does any sane woman forego a future bright with the promise of success and acclaim, and begin a fateful journey down an avenue of madness?"
Helga’s question hung in the air greeeted only by silence. And then Penny ventured a curious guess.
"No, you foolish girl! I was referring to the betrayal of a man. Helmut Hoffmeier promised me love and loyalty and a lifetime of affectionate companionship. But a mere four days after our wedding, I spied him caressing the nyloned leg of a young graduate assistant. A momentary lapse of moral judgment I told myself, and said nothing. Then at a cocktail party, I heard Helmut’s pleasured moans and the laughter of another female. And through a cracked door, I witnessed my loving husband massaging the silky smooth buttocks of an English professor’s young wife. I confronted him that night at home, expressing my displeasure and hurt, but Helmut laughed at me, and defended himself by saying he wasn’t really being unfaithful as long as the female was wearing stockings, and he was just touching. But then, one stormy night when Helmut was late for supper, I went looking for him. His car wasn’t at the university, but on the way home I saw it parked at a local lingerie shop - this shop. The shop was closed, but the back light was on, and through a broken window I witnessed Helmut’s ultimate act of unfaithfulness. Oh, she was wearing pantyhose all right - but they were crotchless pantyhose! That’s when I knew I must have my revenge. And so they are all here."
The mad woman walked to the moving leg displays on the side wall. "The pretty young graduate student is here, wearing the tan hose." She pointed to a pair of attractive legs, walking to and fro. Then she pointed to a pair of plasticized legs coming out of the wall behind the main counter. "There, in the sheer ivory tights, is the professor’s wife." Helga returned to the display counter, standing beside the sheer black pantyhose display. "And here, more modestly attired than during our first ‘encounter,’ is the salesgirl from this store. The first to wear my special magnetic microfiber. And the first to be dunked headfirst into my special solution. They are all here - those who tempted my Helmut to be unfaithful, and those who will never get the chance to tempt him. Like your friend, Ms. Tavares. And like you, Penny Hoze."
It was an incredible story. Penny could have best used that time to think of a plan for escape, but was instead mesmerized by Helga Hoffmeier’s every word. But there was one question she had to ask, although she feared the possible gruesomeness of the doctor’s answer.
"And Helmut - your husband - uhh, where is he?"
Helga paused for a moment, and then looked up like she was trying to remember something. "Let’s see - Aspen, no, Palm Springs this weekend. At some medical convention - but probably just playing golf. He won’t be home until first thing Tuesday."
"You mean . . . you mean you killed all of these girls because your husband was unfaithful, and you did nothing to punish him for the things that he did? NOTHING?"
"Gracious," Helga said softly, "you are a rather vindictive young woman, aren’t you?" Penny could only fume and groan out loud. "Besides, Ms. Hoze, I am not a killer, as you say. My displays are not as permanent as you seem to assume."
Penny leaned forward and grabbed hold of the nylon surrounding her. "You mean, Nina - she’s still alive?"
"Well, ‘alive’ isn’t exactly correct. But neither is ‘dead.’ The transformation from animate to inanimate is quite real - but can theoretically be reversed. So, I don’t consider any of my displays to be deceased."
The robot-to-be blonde pointed at the legs only displays parading on the wall ledge. "But they have no tops! You don’t consider them to be deceased?"
Helga glanced up. "No, not really deceased. I prefer ‘extremely inconvenienced’."
"Extremely inconven . . . . I consider you to be extremely insane, MS. Hoffmeier!"
That set the old woman off. "Insane, you say! Is it insane to have mastered the intricacies of transistors and microchips years before the Japanese made them profitable? Is it insane to have discovered a way to combine this technology with that of clothing design, inserting in the smallest fibers of synthetic cloth computer technology more advanced than even experimental software at the world’s leading computer firms? Is it insane to use that technology to create my own personal museum of beautiful women’s legs displaying soft, sheer, and sexy nylons to an unsuspecting world?"
The old woman hesitated for a few seconds. "Well, okay, that last one is probably insane. But once I am able to show the scientific world that I can use my special nylon to create a lifesize human automaton, and make her animate and inanimate with just a small remote command, the world will likely overlook these small personal peccadiloes that an unlearned layperson such as yourself unfairly label ‘insane’. But enough talk - it’s time to get you fitted in the last catsuit you will ever wear."
The determined look on Helga’s face as she advanced toward Penny convinced the young woman that delay tactics would no longer work. Since she still didn’t have an escape plan, Penny decided to use the direct approach.
"I have just two questions, Doctor," Penny said, with a snide tone attached to ‘Doctor.’ "Since I’m already wearing one pair of your special pantyhose, how can I possibly wear your special catsuit?"
"Quite simple, Ms. Hoze." The old woman pointed her remote at the hook that held Penny’s suspended body off the floor, and punched in a series of numbers that caused the hook to lower the trapped girl’s legs to the floor. Penny was glad to touch ground once more, but was still held in place by the hook, and still held in the nylon by the clamped top of the fabric. Obviously, Helga Hoffmeier intended to take Penny out of her temporary pantyhose prison in order to outfit her in a more ‘permanent’ nylon home.
Helga noticed Penny’s relief at being lowered. "Don’t get your hopes up, my dear. There will be no escape. You’ll be simply be exchanging one pair of plain looking pantyhose," she held up the specially designed tan catsuit, "for something much more exotic."
"That raises my second question. What kind of maniacal, nutball thinking leads you to believe that I will come anywhere near that freaky looking catsuit - let alone put in on?" Penny was trying to raise Helga’s ire once again, hoping to make the scientist a little more crazy and a little less brilliant.
But the old woman wasn’t biting this time. She simply smiled, lowered her head to draw Penny’s attention to her feet, and then slipped a stockinged foot out of her right shoe. The shop owner pointed the remote at her foot, and Penny noticed a small bit of white smoke begin to emerge from the bottom of Helga’s foot.
"Computerized odor-eaters, I assume?" Penny tried to joke, but the catch in her voice revealed the fear she experienced at this newest, and as yet unknown, devious adaptation to nylon.
Dr. Hoffmeier raised the remote once again, and then placed her foot back in its shoe. "My, aren’t we the brave, clever quipping heroine? No, my lovely Penny, that wisp of smoke will make you do exactly what I tell you to do. And I’ll be telling you to wear my special garment, to take your place on a very special display, and to take on the mantle of immortality."
Helga pointed her remote at the clamp holding Penny’s pantyhose, and it unlocked, leaving the expanded top of the hosiery held only by the lowered ceiling hook, just a few feet from Penny’s head. Another press of the remote, and the hook came even lower, pulling Penny down to a prone position on the carpeted floor of the store. With a few moments of unattended time, Penny could possibly pull herself out of the hose. But Helga was walking toward her, and the lovely blonde realized she was about to find out first hand what that foot smoke was all about.
The scientist allowed the hook to pull the expanded panty portion down past Penny’s face. Penny quickly put pulled her hands out of the pantyhose, both to fend off the old woman, and pull herself out of the trap. But Helga quickly knelt down and grabbed the young woman’s wrist. Penny felt something like a scratch or pinprick in each wrist, and was afraid the old woman had given her some kind of needle. Before she could resume pulling down the rest of the nylon, she saw Helga press the numbers 5 -7 -1, and a nylon stocking came flying from a rack behind the main counter, wrapping itself around Penny’s wrist, binding her hands tightly together.
Helga laughed. "Another rather simple invention." She held up her arm, pointing at a gold bracelet. "The pain you felt was a couple of my microstuds, pressed into the flesh of your wrists. They are not very complex, but they do have a rather strong attraction for my special nylons, as you can see."
Penny struggled, but to no avail. Helga pulled out her foot once more, and moved it close to Penny’s face. "Now it’s time for you to experience the full effect of my ‘Hypno-Hose.’"
Penny almost chuckled at yet another silly name invented by this brilliant scientist. But she realized that her time had run out. She was about to begin the process that would result in her joining Nina as another display in Helga’s House of Hosiery.
And then, there was a loud knock at the front door of the shop. Helga looked up in surprise, expecting no more visitors this night. But Penny remembered the phone call she had made earlier in the day, and hoped beyond hope that it was a recent friend and accomplice coming to check up on Penny. The blonde started to yell out, but Helga’s stockinged foot came down on her mouth. Fortunately, Helga had not activated the hypnotic white smoke. But the old woman was strong, and she effectively muffled Penny’s voice long enough to point her remote toward the sales counter, and cause another stocking to fly towards her. Once the nylon was in hand, Helga quickly used it to gag her attractive captive.
"Patience, my pretty," the old woman hissed at a struggling Penny. "I will quickly send our visitor away, and then we can resume our scientific breakthrough."
Dr. Hoffmeier walked over to the main counter, and spoke into a small speaker near the cash register. "I’m sorry, but the Hosiery Hut is closed for the evening. We open at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning."
The old woman didn’t notice Penny smile as a familiar voice came over the speaker. "I’m not a customer. My name is Charlotte Wingate, and I’m a friend of Penny Hoze. She told me that she was coming here to model, and we were going out to dinner afterwards. Have you seen her this evening?"
Penny was impressed by the even tone and innocence in Charlotte’s questions. But she supposed that as a private investigator, Charlotte had honed this particular skill in numerous cases. Of course, the investigation in which Charlotte and Penny met, the disappearance of a cheerleader named Mindy Simpson, had nearly resulted in Charlotte being turned into a nude stone statue. Hopefully this time Charlotte was prepared for anything.
"You’re right. Ms. Hoze and another young woman were supposed to model pantyhose for me this evening. But they called and cancelled at the last minute. I guess Ms. Hoze wasn’t able to notify you of the change in plans." Penny had to admit - Helga was just as good at evenhanded lying. But surely Charlotte wouldn’t fall for it - she couldn’t . . .
"Oh, shoot! I was really looking forward to spending some time with Penny. And I’m not sure how to get in touch with her." Oh, no, Penny thought. Charlotte believes the old woman. There was the sound of Charlotte opening her purse, and then the detective spoke again. "Would you do me a favor? Can I give you a message for Penny - just in case she calls back, or even stops by later on?"
"Well, I am rather busy at the moment," Helga cast an evil grin at her nylon-bound and gagged prisoner, "But I suppose it would do no harm." The old woman was so relieved at being able to get rid of the intruder, that she casually stepped to the door, activated the open keys, and propped the door slightly. "If you’ll just hand me the message, I’ll . . ." Helga broke off abruptly and stepped back from the door. Penny lifted up enough to see the old woman backing up, and then a black handgun appearing inside the door, pointed at Helga by private detective Charlotte Wingate. Helga continued to back up as Charlotte walked in and closed the door behind her.
"The message is that Penny shouldn’t leave her Beanie Baby Penguin out in plain sight, like it is in the car out front. Someone might take it. Now," Charlotte held the revolver even closer to Helga Hoffmeier’s shocked face, "Where’s Penny?"
Penny still couldn’t speak, but she was able to maneuver the nylon stocking in her mouth enough to give her space to moan very loudly. Charlotte followed the sound of the moan, and gasped when she saw her bound friend.
"Lord Almighty, girl! What have you got yourself into this time?" She started to move to Penny to free her, but noticed a look of panic come into her friend’s eyes. She spun around just in time to see Helga Hoffmeier come at her with hands raised and a countenance of fury. She surprised the detective enough to knock the gun to the floor, and then started to point some sort of remote control device at a sales counter. Penny tried to yell out, "Get that remote!", but it just came out as more moaning. But Charlotte was clever enough to realize that the device portended some sort of evil, so she quickly knocked it from Helga’s hand before any buttons could be pressed.
This angered the old woman even further, and she shrieked at the detective as she grabbed Charlotte’s arms. Even in her angered state, Helga was no match for the well-trained former police officer, and Charlotte quickly pushed Helga to the floor. But even then, the old woman grabbed Charlotte ankles, trying to pull her down, to no avail. As the detective kicked the old woman away, Helga fell back against a nearby counter, hitting the back of her head. The force of the blow caused her to slump over.
Penny breathed a sigh of relief as her victorious friend walked over to help her get free.
"Don’t take this the wrong way, Penny, but have you ever considered getting out of the modeling business?" Penny managed a muffled chuckle, and a smile of relief as Charlotte bent down to inspect her nylon wrappings. "Maybe you should try being a secretary - or a waitress, even." The brunette detective was trying to loosen the nylon gag in Penny’s mouth without hurting her friend. Finally, she was able to pull the nylon out and tuck the knot beneath Penny’s chin.
A relieved but still exhausted Penny breathed out a couple of times before speaking. "God, Charlotte, am I glad to see you."
The detective turned her attention to the nylon wrapped tightly around Penny’s wrists. Unlike the gag that Helga had tied herself, this knotted fabric was not budging a millimeter. "I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner. I was doing some surveillance that got a little hairy. Lucky for us, I guess - that’s why the revolver was in my purse. Damn! That old woman sure tied a mean knot in this stocking."
"She didn’t tie that one - it wrapped itself around my hands by itself, or at least, by remote control." Penny noticed Charlotte giving her a very strange look. "It’s a very long story that I’ll be glad to tell you once we get the hell out of here."
Charlotte was reaching in her purse once more. "I think I have a penknife in here. Yeah - here we go." She opened the blade and began carefully sawing at the nylon, trying to avoid cutting Penny. "Where’s your friend - what’s her name, Nina? Didn’t she come with you?"
In her relief at being rescued, Penny had forgotten about Nina and her fate. She choked a little as she answered Charlotte. "Dr. Hoffmeier - the old woman - got to her first." Penny nodded once in the direction of the leg mannequins where Nina had been transformed.
Charlotte turned and looked at the pantyhose display, and then something clicked. "Oh my God, you don’t mean . . ."
With tears stinging her eyes, Penny nodded again. "She’s the one modeling the gray pantyhose. I don’t know how, but Hoffmeier lowered her into some whitish goo that stiffened her legs into a mannequin’s. All the displays - all the mannequins - were alive once. Helga says it’s just temporary - that she can change them back. I don’t know for sure, though. But we’ve got to at least get Nina out of this place!"
"We will - as soon as I get you loose." Charlotte continued to slice at the nylon binding. "I don’t know what kind of fabric these hose are made of, but I’d pay good money to wear them. I don’t think they’d ever get a run in them." The detective was trying to lighten the mood a little. Cushion the terrible shock that Penny had gone through, seeing her friend turned into a mannequin.
"Maybe I should get these pantyhose off, first. And then we can cut the stocking later." Penny offered, wanting to shed the special microfibered hosiery that had trapped her to begin with.
"Almost . . . got . . . it," Charlotte said, finally beginning to cut through a strand of the nylon. "I’d probably be able to do this a little better if that old lady hadn’t scratched my arms to pieces. Between her jabbing my wrists and grabbing my ankles, I thought I was in Wrestlemania, or something."
Penny started to laugh, and then a worrisome thought entered her mind as Charlotte mentioned her ‘jabbed’ wrists. "Charlotte, maybe you’d better get that remote. That’s what Hoffmeier uses to activate all her traps."
"I’m making some progress here, Penny, are you sure?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I’m real sure. I’d feel a lot better if you had that remote."
Charlotte got up. "Okay. I think it fell over here near the counter - yeah, there it is. Hold the knife while I go get it." She walked over in front of the counter where the remote lay on the floor. But as she reached down to get it, it suddenly hovered in the air, and then flew past her toward the prone body of Helga Hoffmeier. A very conscious Helga Hoffmeier, who held up her wrist as the remote flew and attached itself to a large bracelet.
"I don’t know what’s going on here, but it’s time for it to stop." Charlotte spotted her revolver just a few feet away, and reached quickly for it. But not quickly enough - - -
"Charlotte! Look out!" Penny yelled, but too late. Helga’s grabbing of the attractive detective’s wrists and ankles had not been out of blind fury. There had been a specific purpose to her actions, and now as Helga pointed her remote at the counter and pressed buttons used once before this night, Charlotte learned the unfortunate consequence of those actions.
One stocking flew across the room and wrapped itself tightly around the brunette’s wrists, preventing her from grabbing her gun. Another stocking followed, tying Charlotte’s ankles together so quickly that the young woman fell to the floor.
"Charlotte!" yelled Penny, trying to use the penknife to enlarge the cut Charlotte had made seconds before. But with her wrists bound together, Penny couldn’t make large strokes with the knife.
The stunned and bound detective recovered quickly from Helga’s offensive, and began to squirm her body toward the nearby gun. Though her wrists were tied, she believed she had enough movement in her hands to pick up the gun and get off a good shot at her captor. But only inches from the pistol, Charlotte saw a black pump extend and kick the revolver across the floor of the store.
"You won’t be needing that, my dear," Helga smiled down wickedly at the struggling detective.
"You’re right, you crazy hag! I won’t need it to take care of you!" Charlotte began to maneuver herself into position to swing her tied legs and kick Helga’s feet out from under her. But once again, the old woman was one step ahead of her. Helga quickly stepped toward Charlotte’s face, and lifted a stockinged foot out of her shoe. White smoke was swirling out of the stocking. A panicked look came over the detective’s face.
"Your foot - there’s smoke coming out,"
Penny immediately knew what was happening - remembering when Helga revealed her ‘Hypno-Hose’ to her. She called out, "No, Dr. Hoffmeier! Leave her alone!"
But Helga just laughed, and then placed her stocking foot directly over Charlotte’s nose and mouth. At first the detective tried to maneuver her face out of the way. But Helga’s foot moved as well, and in only a few seconds, a large amount of the white vapor had been breathed in by the struggling captive. Charlotte struggled less and less as the vapor took effect. In only a couple of moments, she lay completely still. Helga removed her foot from Charlotte’s face, and put it back in her shoe. She stared down at the attractive detective, whose eyes were wide open and emotionless, staring up at the old woman.
"Now you are completely mine," Helga said softly, and then pointed the remote at the detective. A code was entered, and the stockings around Charlotte’s wrists and ankles fell away. But the detective lay completely still, entranced by the effect of the wispish drug Helga had administered.
The old woman walked a few feet this way and that, looking all around the store. "I just need to find someplace to put you, my lovely. Some way that your beauty can help me sell my wares." She spotted the revolver, and an idea came to the scientist.
"I have just the thing. Oh yes, this will be perfect."
Trying to remain attentive to Charlotte’s peril, while continuing to saw at her nylon binding, Penny knew she had to do something to help her friend. "I thought you wanted me to put on your special ‘catsuit,’ Dr. Hoffmeier. Or did you forget about making me a living robot?"
"That’s very noble of you, Ms. Hoze. But there will be plenty of time for that," the old woman gave the mesmerized detective a wicked smile, "after I finish with your lovely detective friend. Now, Ms. . . . Wingate, wasn’t it?" Charlotte blankly nodded. "Yes, I would like for you to walk over to my display of garters and stockings. There, you will pick out a pair of black seamed stockings and black garters. There is a counter of lingerie nearby - pick out a frilly black bra and panties, as well - all your size, of course. Now, go do as I say."
Penny watched in amazement as the usually tough and resourceful private eye obediently stood up, and walked zombie-like to the display Helga had described. And like some suburban soccer mom leisurely shopping at Victoria’s Secret, Charlotte began looking through the sexy merchandise, picking out stockings first, and then browsing through the matching undergarments, trying to find the right shade and style.
The tired, but determined blonde was making slow progress with Charlotte’s penknife, but her friend’s actions prompted Penny to shout once more. "Charlotte! For God’s sake, snap out of it! Charlotte!"
"My dear Ms. Hoze, there is no ‘it’ to snap out of," Helga said patiently, thankfully continuing to watch her latest acquisition and not looking back at Penny’s sawing. "She hears and responds only to the first voice she hears. My voice - as you will shortly, once I finish with Ms. Wingate."
Charlotte finished her selection, and walked back over to Dr. Hoffmeier. The shop owner examined the lingerie. "Yes. Yes. Very nice. These will do very nicely, indeed. Now, step back to one of my dressing rooms, remove your garments, and put these on. I have a wonderful surprise for you when you come back."
The lovely brunette did exactly as she was told, and proceeded to the dressing area. She passed by Penny on the way, and Penny started to say something, but saw a frightening blankness in Charlotte’s eyes, and knew it would be to no avail. As the detective disappeared behind the curtain, Penny felt a deep hollow fear inside. She was certainly afraid for Charlotte, but she was also very afraid for herself. Afraid because her one avenue of rescue had been sealed off, possibly forever. Afraid because she knew Helga Hoffmeier’s ultimate plan for her. And most of all, afraid of the emptiness in Charlotte’s eyes that Penny knew would be her own emptiness once Helga placed her Hypno Hose on her face.
The old woman’s giddy energy was a marked contrast to Penny’s gloom. "Oh, this is going to be excellent! Just excellent! Now, if I can just find that old thing of Helmut’s . . . ." Hoffmeier began opening and shutting drawers and cabinets, apparently looking for something special. Since the old woman’s attention was directed elsewhere, Penny resumed cutting the extra tough nylon with the small knife. The cut didn’t seem to be getting much bigger, and the nylon still held tight. Penny wished Charlotte had helped her out of the special fiber pantyhose she was wearing. At least then Penny could make a run for it, without fearing Helga’s remote and being totally sheathed in nylon again. What Penny really wished is that she had talked Nina out of coming to this hosiery hut of horror. She wished that she, Nina, and Charlotte were sitting in a nice restaurant somewhere, lamenting their love lives and laughing over drinks. Instead of being on the verge of becoming permanent displays for Helga Hoffmeier’s insidious hosiery creations.
Thinking of displays prompted Penny to glance at the area where Charlotte had selected the lingerie. While the wall and countertop areas were rather plain, there was a lifesize wax mannequin modeling stockings and garters. (Penny wondered what poor customer had come in to try those on - never to leave the Hosiery Hut again.) What did the mad doctor have in mind for her detective friend?
"Aha! There it is!" Helga cried out, at about the same time Charlotte emerged from the dressing, clad only in black undergarments. The shop keeper stared approvingly at her newest acquisition. "Yes, very nice. Walk to the counter, my dear. I have one more piece of clothing for you to wear."
Apparently it was that ‘one more piece’ that Helga had been frantically looking for. Penny’s cutting was only half-hearted now, as she curiously watched this strange sequence of events unfold. Charlotte walked past Penny once more, this time headed toward Helga Hoffmeier and some as yet unfathomed weird fate. Once the detective reached her ‘master,’ Helga lifted her just found garment proudly.
"Here you are, my lovely private eye," the old woman announced, holding up a gray fedora, like the kind old time detectives wore in black and white movies. She placed the hat carefully on Charlotte’s head, looked at it carefully, then tilted it just a little to the side. "Perfect. Perfect." Helga was pleased.
Penny was confused. It was unusual, maybe even a little kinky, costuming. But what did Helga plan to do with Charlotte? Just simply stand her in a corner, in a zombie-like trance, modeling an outfit that only an old-time, cross-dressing private detective might like to purchase?
"What’s this about? Why do you have her dressed like that?" Penny asked, her curiosity piqued.
"My dear Ms. Hoze," Helga started. "There is more to running a hosiery shop than creating space age microfibred hosiery, luring beautiful women into specially designed nylonic traps, and then converting them into statuesque masterpieces for display." She adjusted Charlotte’s hat once more, then stepped back to inspect the costumed detective. "One must also possess a sense of artistic style and fashion."
"Oh," snipped Penny, "guess this isn’t the career field for me, then."
"I assure you, pretty Penny, you needn’t ever worry about a ‘career field’ again." Helga continued to stare at Charlotte. Then she quickly snapped her fingers. "Almost forgot the coup de grace." She walked over to the floor where Charlotte had been snagged and then drugged, and picked up the detective’s revolver. Helga carefully tucked the gun inside one of Charlotte’s garters. "Now it’s time."
Helga lifted her remote, and Penny flinched in advance, sure that the mad scientist was about to initiate some kind of horrific transformation in Charlotte’s body - waxed, like the other mannequins; or maybe bronzed - or marbled, somehow, like Franz Jakobs had intended to do to Penny during their first adventure together. But, instead, the old woman pointed the remote at a small table near the back wall of the counter area. The table contained some boxes, papers, a small copier, and other miscellaneous ‘store-type’ things. But when Helga pushed in a series of numbers, a large whirring noise began, and in seconds, the table and everything on it, moved out from the wall, and then began to move to the right and back - a circular motion - along with a large section of the back wall. It was a revolving wall, like in one of those old haunted house movies.
Apparently, Penny thought, Helga Hoffmeier liked old movies - in addition to creating ways of turning beautiful girls into hosiery displays. But Penny’s silent conjecture about Helga Hoffmeier’s hobbies was short lived. For as the small table disappeared in one direction, a very large machine emerged from the other direction. As it ground to a halt, Penny noticed that it looked somewhat like a much larger scale version of the small copier that had been on the disappearing table. This machine had a large clear plastic ‘bubble’ crowning its top, and a large keyboard attached to the front.
Helga walked over to the machine, and lifted up the large bubble lid. It made a hydraulic "whooshing" noise as it opened. She then motioned the sexily clad Charlotte Wingate to join her at the machine. Penny didn’t like this. She didn’t like this at all. She had to try once more.
"Charlotte! Charlotte, wake up! Grab your gun, Charlotte! Listen to me!" But it was no use. Helga helped the detective hop up onto the glass surface on top of the machine. She then helped Charlotte to lay down on the glass, and began to position her arms and legs and head, making sure the hat and gun stayed in position. After just a few moments, Helga stood back and nodded, satisfied with Charlotte’s pose. The doctor then pulled down on the bubble lid, and it whooshed back to its original position, but this time with the beautiful body of Charlotte Wingate inside.
Penny thought of a million wisecracks, but only one thing came to her lips. "Please, Dr. Hoffmeier, please don’t hurt her."
The old woman’s attention was directed to the keyboard, and a small screen just above it. Apparently, though, she had heard Penny’s entreaty. "Don’t be silly, Ms. Hoze. I wouldn’t think of it." Helga continued to punch several keys, and then stopped, satisfied with her work.
Penny had momentarily given up on her attempt at cutting her binds. "What is that thing? What are you going to do to her?"
"Strangely enough, Ms. Hoze, I got the idea for this machine at the mall. I happened on a store named ‘Added Dimensions,’ for larger size women, I believe. Well, I thought to myself, if you can ‘add dimensions’. . . ." she punched a few more keys, and then gave a final definitive punch to one of the keys. A loud noise began, and soon after a light began filling the bubble where Charlotte lay posed. ". . . . then why not ‘subtract dimensions’ as well?"
Helga laughed, a maniacal kind of giggle that belied her earlier calm tone. Penny knew that something was about to happen to Charlotte. Something not good. As she tried to figure out what Helga was talking about, she looked once more at the relatively bland area near the stockings and garters. Her eyes wandered around the store, looking at the moving legs, the leg mannequins (including Nina’s grey sheathed legs), the sexy posters and advertisements, the packages of hosiery, the lifesize . . . wait!
Penny’s eyes surveyed the store again, ignoring the counters and displays, and looking just at the walls. The numerous color and black and white posters displaying beautiful women in hosiery - some with business suits or party dresses, some in sexy poses with nothing on but pantyhose or stockings. All attractive, all apparently well photographed, all in a setting conveying a brief story, all displaying the hosiery in that area of the store. In all the areas of the store. Except one.
No, Penny thought, it wasn’t possible. Even with everything else she had seen and experienced this night. What she imagined now just couldn’t be possible. And yet, Helga Hoffmeier had told her that ALL the displays in the hosiery hut had once been living, breathing, human beings. Surely, that didn’t include the . . .
"Things are going very nicely. Just a few more moments, Penny, and we can resume your transformation." Dr. Hoffmeier looked at her computer screen, and then at the giant bubble containing Charlotte Wingate. Penny looked there, too, but at first all she could see was a bright light, moving up and down Charlotte’s lingerie clad figure. And then the light started to become even brighter, and Charlotte became harder to see. Brighter and brighter grew the light. Penny tried to keep watching, but finally had to turn away to protect her eyes. After a few seconds she looked back. And screamed.
The light was gone. And so was Charlotte.
Helga Hoffmeier punched a few more keys, and then moved to the end of the machine. Penny watched through tear filled eyes as a long sheet of glossy white paper began to slowly emerge into Helga’s hands. It took several moments for the entire sheet to emerge, but finally the bottom edge fell from the mechanical monster. Helga lifted the sheet in front of her, and gave it an approving and admiring smile. She then carried the sheet carefully to the area where Charlotte had obtained her special nylons and matching lingerie. The shop keeper stepped on a small stool, and attached the top of the sheet to a long metal clip on the wall. She slowly smoothed the length of the paper, and attached the bottom to a similar clip. Helga stepped back in glee, and then courteously stepped out from in front of the sheet so that Penny could see.
The sad, nylon bound, blonde captive felt a depth of despair she had never known before. The poster was like a black-and-white, lifesize photo. A beautiful girl stood with her back to the camera. One nyloned foot propped up revealing dark shaded toes and heels. The back seam of the stockings carried the eye up the back of shapely legs, to the tops of the nylons, and the attached garters. Inside one of the garters was a revolver. The garters were attached to black panties, and not far above those was the back strap of a black brasierre. As the eyes moved up to the neck, and the shoulder length black hair, there was a slight turn of the model’s head, and a come hither look in the one eye looking back. A lighter shade fedora sat on the model’s head, tilted toward the side. The model leaned against a desk in a cluttered office straight out of a 40’s detective movie. The name of the poster was in white shaded black block letters at the bottom right of the sheet, at the base of the desk and right next to the lifted stockinged foot. Like a movie title, it announced: "NYLON NOIR".
Maybe if you didn’t know who Charlotte Wingate was . . . is; maybe if you had no idea of the twisted inventions and scientific machinations taking place in this shop after hours; maybe if you were just making a quick stop for a new pair of pantyhose and were fortunate enough to bring a few friends and come in the light of day. Maybe you would never think to stare hard at the poster on the far wall that maybe had a little too much cheesecake for most people’s taste. And maybe you wouldn’t realize that the poster had been created from life - and in fact, was still alive!
But Penny T. Hoze knew all of that was true. And even with her back turned, dressed in bizarre fashion from the twisted vision of a maniacal genius. Even with just part of her face showing, and one eye staring back at the world from whence she had come. Even with all that - Penny knew that it was her good friend, Charlotte Wingate, in that poster. And Penny knew that Charlotte Wingate was in that poster because she had come here to save a friend. Now, somehow, that friend had to find a way to save Charlotte.
Helga’s voice jolted Penny out of her haunted reverie. "People always compliment my posters for how real they look." She reached up and rubbed her hand down Charlotte’s leg. The sound of crackling nylon filled the store. "If they only knew how real they feel, as well." The old woman laughed. "Better put some sealer on this. Protects it from the light and heat."
As she walked in the back, Penny began to feverishly saw at the nylon on her wrists. She was infused with a new energy. This was her last chance. Charlotte’s last chance. She had to cut through. After a few more seconds, the fibers actually began to tear loose. A few more swipes, and she would be able to pull her hands free. Then, she could get out of these stockings, and figure out some way to go for help.
Once. Twice. A third time, still wriggling her hands. And then, she was free. Her hands were loose. She wanted to scream for joy, but she was only halfway free. She still had to get out of these pantyhose. She was surprised at how easily the large amount of nylon fabric slid down her body, over her legs, and off her feet. Sure, she would be naked, but who cares? One more foot out of the nylon, and she’d be gone . . . .
The stockinged foot on her face surprised Penny.
She hadn’t heard Helga coming. The surprise eliminated any chance Penny
may have had to physically overcome the older woman. Penny made a quick
recovery, and reached up to push Helga’s foot off her face. But then the
white smoke started to come out of the bottom of the stocking. And Penny
felt her mind began to slip, hearing only the insane cackling of Helga
Hoffmeier . . . .