Shattering the Illusion
After nearly two days of frantic searching, Rick’s emotions were nearly stretched to the limit. He“d combed through half the city looking for Harriet, yet somehow every direction he turned seemed to result in a dead end. The city could truly be a cold and unforgiving place when someone you love turns up missing, Rick now knew. Still, deep down he assumed that all of Harriet’s changes over the past week had something to do with her new job.
While Diane searched the docks and Rebecca checked out the hundreds of shops and businesses dotting the West Side of town, Rick decided to narrow his search for Harriet along the massive retail district on the fashionable East Side. A fine mist began to coat his windshield around ten, and the chill in the air was cutting Rick to the bone. Already, he began smoking again out of sheer frustration and worry for Harriet. As he tossed another spent cigarette through the cracked window, he wondered where they’d gone wrong.
Only four days ago, he’d tried to surprise Harriet so that they could enjoy a fun-filled evening together, just the two of them--dinner and a movie. However, once he’d reached her apartment, he could feel a palpable chilliness from his darling friend. More than once, she seemed to be staring right through him, as if he weren’t even in the room with her anymore. He had snapped his fingers and called out to her, but she still acted so distant and cold. At one point, she even stood up as if in a trance, then took a few steps before freezing to a halt in mid-step. Rick was truly shocked when she finally broke the silence, saying in a halting tone, “Do you... think I am... pretty, Rick?”
Shocked by her behavior, Rick didn’t know what to say. Eventually, he decided that candor might bring her out of her funk, so he replied reassuringly. “Harriet, you are one of the most beautiful people I know, both on the outside and on the inside.”
Harriet seemed unmoved by Rick’s insightful comment, still staring straight ahead like a stuffed doll. She didn’t even teeter from her tiptoe stance over the course of ten minutes. Then, again, she broke the somber atmosphere, saying, “You’re an artist, Rick. Would I... make a... lovely statue?”
“What are you talking about, Harriet? Hey, snap out of it, will you?” Ultimately dismayed, Rick pounded his fists in frustration on the countertop, truly frustrated by Harriet’s self-centered demeanor. “Why are you doing this to me? I care so much about you, Harriet, and all you can do is stand there like some kind of wooden Indian! You are so much more than just another pretty face, darling, and I’m sick of you selling yourself short.”
After another uncomfortable pause, Harriet replied, “I can’t help... what I am, Rick. Why don’t... you spend the night with... one of those other fleshy girlfriends... instead.” Utterly crushed by her brash command, Rick stormed off in a huff, taking one last glance at his motionless friend before slamming the door shut. He didn’t know it at the time, but that final glimpse through her front door would prove to be the last time he“d see her. “Until tonight,” Rick added inwardly in an effort to regain the hope of spotting her.
As he rubbed his shirtsleeve across the steamed up side window, he let out a painful gasp as he scanned one of the distant clothing stores. “But, that can’t be!” exclaimed Rick to himself as he screeched the car to a halt right there in the middle of the street. Without even grabbing his jacket, he screamed through the car door and ran at a full clip to the odd window display featuring a chipper wedding party.
The rest of the plastic dummies didn’t draw his attention as much as the lovely bride did, dressed in a sultry petticoat. He studied those haunting eyes and the delicate curves of that face for a full ten minutes, totally shocked by the strange scene. Even though her hair color had been changed, and subtle body parts had been altered slightly (“Those breasts are huge,” thought Rick in wonderment), there was no doubt in his mind that the figure locked arm in arm with the wooden groom was his lifelong friend and companion, Harriet. With both hands forming tight fists, he pounded relentlessly against the glass as he shouted, “Harriet! Can you hear me, Harriet? Wake up, dammit!”
For the scantiest of seconds, Rick could have sworn he saw the fluttering of an eyelash from his stiffened friend. “Don’t worry, Harriet! I’ll save you somehow!” Frantically, Rick spun around and spied a massive bus stop bench. Using every ounce of strength, he tugged at the cast iron seat, nearly breaking his back in the process. Eventually, the mooring clamps snapped free of the concrete, allowing Rick to wield the massive stool unfettered. In one deft motion, he hurled the park bench with a guttural moan, sending the publicly owned furniture on a collision course with the thick glass at the storefront. A mighty clamoring crash echoed for many miles as the glass toppled, unable to bear the force of the mighty bench.
Rick climbed past jagged spears of crystal as he made a beeline for his beloved Harriet, halted in a moment of surrogate joy as the focal point of a false wedding. With a quivering hand, he felt the model’s face and was rewarded with a soft, pliable sensation. He leaned in with an ear, gently placing the folds at Harriet’s chest. “Still beating!” cheered Rick, before becoming aware of a stiff expanse of skin that used to be the soft pillows of her breast. He gently rapped a knuckle against the rigid skin and heard a muted clunking sound within the small, closet shaped room. “What have they done to you?” cried Rick in anguish as he wiped a tear away from his eye. “Hold on, honey, I’m getting you out of here!”
Rick aggressively slung his arm around her lithe waist. “My God,” thought Rick as he tightened his grip, “you look like you’ve been through a vice, Harriet. Your waist is only a few inches around!” After ensuring a secure hold, he lifted her entire body up, grunting as he elevated her. It took quite a bit of effort to raise her up, until he realized that she was tightly secured to the glass base they were both standing on. Eventually, he twisted her slightly as he hoisted, freeing the metal plate from the glass base. Wasting no time, Rick stumbled with his slightly hefty load, carrying his precious cargo to his running car. He quickly opened the back door and laid her prone figure across the length of the back seat, then ran back to retrieve the abandoned glass base in the display. “She may still need that thing, for now at least,” thought Rick, as he danced back to the car, placing the thick glass platform in the passenger seat before peeling away.
All the way home, he scanned his rear view mirror, fully expecting the police to close in on him at any moment. However, the cops never did show up with lights blazing, much to Rick’s relief. However, after getting his helpless friend set up in his living room, he wondered whether having the authorities around would have served to assist his paralyzed companion, since he was at a total loss as to how to revive her. She even swayed a bit after he placed her back onto her shimmering base, as if her whole body were as dense as iron. Carefully, he studied her body, feeling every inch and contour in an effort to understand. His blood nearly chilled in his veins as he felt the once inviting folds of flesh on her hands, only to find they had been utterly transformed into hard and lifeless plastic. He wiped the tears away as he held her, ultimately trying to come to terms with her partially plastified body.
At eleven-thirty, Rick remembered that Diane and Rebecca were still out searching for Harriet. So, he pried himself from the woeful sight of Harriet, grabbing a cordless phone from a shiny base. Without even thinking, he dialed a number from memory, saying, “Diane, call off the search. I found her! Get over here right away!”
“Well, what does she have to say for herself?” asked Diane in concern and rage.
“I’m afraid she hasn’t uttered a single word yet, Diane,” replied Rick with much sorrow in his voice. “Please pick up Rebecca and get over here as fast as you can. Harriet still needs our help, perhaps more than ever before!”
“We’ll be right over.”
Within the hour, all three kids were running their hands along Harriet’s body, a look of pure panic crossing their faces as they realized the extent of her conversion. Rebecca sighed in agony as she muttered, “So, it looks like her hands, breasts, waist, crotch and feet have been changed into plastic somehow. Do we know if this is reversible?”
“I don’t know, Becky,” replied Rick helplessly, ashamed for not correctly reading the warning signs four days earlier. “What do you two think we should do first to try to save her?”
to the parent episode “Inventory C”.
Wed, 21-Feb-2001 14:27:49
I’ve left the original alternatives of the Medusa Chronicles.
I somehow prefer a fifth alternative:
Jeanette appears - she has been alarmed by the movement of Harriet’s pedestal and followed its tracking transmitter. Harriet’s friend read Harriet’s online diary on the computer Jeanette has brought with her. Of course this floods their brains with subliminals and afterwards all the sorrowness and agitation changes into pleasant anticipation to join Harriet in the display ...
Read Part D