No sooner than the door slammed shut did her backpack hit the kitchen table with a thud. In her excitement to open up a piece of mail she had just picked up from her mailbox upon arriving home from work, Carlie Tremont was wasting no time on formalities. The letter was addressed from a modeling agency at which she had attended an open call the prior week. It wasn’t a big name in the business, but it was something of the caliber she had been looking for to get her start in the business – and certainly better than being a lowly cashier at a drugstore. Sure, it paid the bills, barely, but it wasn’t what she left her family for when she moved halfway across the country to the big city. Before the dinner she had picked up from a sub shop on the way home could even begin to cool, she had the envelope in tatters on the floor and the letter in her hands.
“Yes!” she exclaimed as she read the letter aloud to herself.
“In light of the positive impressions and enthusiasm displayed during last week’s open call, AZH Models would like to extend to you an initial limited contract offer of up to three bookings per week with potential for additional opportunities in the future.”
The letter continued, but Carlie was too excited to fully process the information.
“Please appear at 9:00 AM, next Tuesday the 25th of May at our Myrtle Street offices if you would like to accept this offer; otherwise please contact us to arrange for an alternate meeting should the arranged time slot not be favorable to your schedule. We look forward to seeing you then.”
“Three bookings per week isn’t going to allow me to quit RxWorld quite yet, but it’s something; more than I have going on right now, that’s for sure,” Carlie rationalized. “Maybe I finally got my foot in the door!”
As Monday night finally arrived, Carlie had trouble sleeping due to her excitement and anxiety about the following day’s appointment. She wasn’t really nervous about it as she figured the hard part was over, but just the same it was enough to keep her awake. Spending the evening alone as she usually preferred, she whiled away the time watching Netflix until about one o’clock in the morning when she finally retired for the night.
It was Tuesday morning, and Carlie was awake bright and early. After spending a little more time than usual on her morning routine, she was off to her appointment at AZH Models. The request in the letter didn’t specify any particular dress code so she opted to play it safe and neatly casual with comfortable fitting jeans and a cute short-sleeved blouse. Mere moments after she arrived and registered with the secretary she was greeted by the owner of the company, who was quite evidently a former model herself but was now a bubbly middle-aged blond woman wearing the stereotypical businesswoman’s black pantsuit.
“So you must be that Carlie I’ve been hearing about. Hello, I’m Annette Henderson and this is my modeling agency. I do apologize for not being present at the open call but I was called out of town at the last minute on business. How are you doing this morning?”
“Hi, Ms. Henderson, nice to meet you. I’m doing OK, a little excited; hopefully I don’t come off as being too nervous!” Carlie replied.
“Oh, think nothing of it. It’s perfectly natural. And just call me Annette,” Annette said as she motioned Carlie to enter the office. “So if you don’t mind, I’d like to get you started right away but first we have some of the usual formalities to address. So, I’m going to leave you in Sharon’s capable hands for that. This might be my enterprise but she’s the one who keeps the ship tight. I have some matters of my own to attend to and I’ll be back out to get you in about a half hour, forty-five minutes or so.”
“Great!” Carlie responded.
Carlie’s business with Sharon was the usual Human Resources bureaucracy: tax forms, policy and privacy statements, benefit elections, etc. Due to the nature of the business, Carlie’s current position was more part-time contractual than the typical hourly job so the process was a little different than she was used to but it wrapped up rather quickly and painlessly. Once things were completed she was directed to a lounge area where she was able to spend a little time perusing some notebooks showcasing some of the firm’s work. After about twenty minutes, Annette returned.
“Alright, I see you survived Sharon’s grilling, so let’s get on with the fun part, shall we?” Annette asked while motioning for Carlie to follow her.
“Certainly!” Carlie replied. “In the time I was waiting for you I was able to browse some of your work and it looks good! Do you mind if I asked what I’ll be working with?”
“Not at all. It’s definitely alright of you to ask,” Annette said as she led Carlie down a hallway and finally into a modest studio. “Right now I’d like to ask you to have a seat over there,” she said while pointing to a raised platform in the middle of the room. “If I’m not mistaken, you met with Brandon during the open call a few weeks ago, correct?”
“Yes,” Carlie replied. “He seemed quite meticulous.”
“Yeah, that’s Brandon. He’s a pretty good judge of talent and from what I can see he got it right with you as well,” Annette responded as she reviewed some files on a desktop in a corner of the room. “One of our more reliable modeling contracts is with Draper’s – we work a fairly significant amount of their circulars and catalog – and he thought you would work well with either their teens or misses apparel.”
Carlie shifted herself a bit on the platform as she continued to become less nervous in the situation. “Oh, I know them. They’re not where I come from but I’ve seen a few stores around here and have bought a couple of things.”
“Good, so you might have some idea of what we’re looking for then. Is that alright with you?” Annette asked with a hint of concern in her voice.
“Of course!” Carlie replied reassuringly. “I’ve never been a particularly snazzy dresser but that doesn’t mean I have a problem modeling anything as long as you think it suits me.”
Annette smiled and then turned to return to the doorway. “I like your attitude. We don’t want to put you in anything you’re uncomfortable in – as long as you realize the obvious consequences of declining work.”
“Definitely,” Carlie replied. “No work, no pay!”
“You got it!” Annette exclaimed cheerfully as she motioned somebody else into the room. “Carlie, this is Javier, he’ll be working your shoot for today.”
Javier and Carlie exchanged their greetings and then it was off to work. Carlie’s first assignment was to model a cute semi-formal ensemble consisting of a blue and white polka-dotted summer dress with a short white denim jacket and short-heeled black pumps along with complementary jewelry. After changing into the outfit, Javier helped fix her hair and makeup appropriately and then it was off to work.
The session broke for lunch a little after noon after Carlie was finished modeling another outfit similar to the first. She took up Annette’s offer to buy lunch from the Chinese restaurant in the building lobby while Javier went off on his own to search for food as he usually did.
As they were eating, Annette was curious to know Carlie’s thoughts on the morning. “So what do you think?” she asked.
“Well,” Carlie answered, “not to sound like I’m giving the boring cop-out but it was pretty much what I expected it to be – but that’s good; I enjoyed it!”
“That’s great to hear,” Annette responded. “I get a little nervous myself with somebody new because you never know what they’re going to expect. Most of our models have similar attitudes but every so often we get those high-strung ones who feel as though the work we offer is demeaning or something.”
“Yeah, some people…,” Carlie said, trailing off. “How would you say I did?”
Annette perked up and smiled. “I think you did pretty well for somebody who claims to have no significant prior experience. There were definitely some moments where I could tell you’re a newbie but all in all I would say you handled it well. One thing I noticed in particular is that you were incredibly steady and I don’t think Javier once had to ask you to adjust your facial expression. That’s what stood out to me the most. Most of our first timers are so jittery you would swear they drank a gallon of coffee before coming in and barely get through the first outfit without some kind of incident,” she said.
“I try. I guess it just comes naturally,” Carlie said, smiling coyly.
The two wrapped up lunch and returned to the studio, where Javier had earlier returned and was shamelessly shoving a hamburger into his face. “Don’t mind me,” he said, almost unintelligibly.
“That’s Javier for you, he definitely marches to his own beat,” Annette said to Carlie as she rolled her eyes slightly. “But a damn fine cameraman and stylist so you know what, if that’s what it takes I have no objections. Speaking of which, I want to expose you to the rest of our crew but so far I think you two might have a winning chemistry.”
“Thanks!” Carlie said, showing a subtle hint of embarrassment.
“I have business to attend to so I’m going to stop interfering with you two. There is one more outfit we want to get you in and then we want to try you at modeling some bracelets. Should be easy stuff for you. Once Javier is done with you, you are free to go home; he’ll take care of everything. We’ll contact you when we’d like to see you again, OK?” Annette asked.
“Sure thing; it’s been a pleasure so far,” Carlie remarked.
“Great!” Annette exclaimed. “Just so you have some idea what to expect, we’ll confirm in a day or so but we’ll probably want to to come back in on Friday for a similar catalog shoot. Depending on how things go I think we’re going to keep you on this Draper’s work as well, which would typically be every Tuesday just like today. As we see how well you fit with the work and the crew we’ll try to get you into some other spots as well so you don’t get bored with the work.”
“Ahh, I don’t see that happening. I’m quite appreciative of the opportunity you’ve given me,” Carlie responded.
“Not a problem at all,” Annette said as she began to leave the studio. “Goodbye!”
“Bye!” Carlie responded, then turning her attention to Javier, who by now was finished with his lunch and preparing for the afternoon’s shoots.
Inspired by her busy first day of modeling, Carlie decided to take a stroll though the shopping district. The short experience had given her a new outlook on the industry; besides which she was interested in seeing all the displays and perhaps gleaning an idea or two for her future shoots. Not to mention, while she wasn’t as enthusiastic about it as she was toward modeling, visual merchandising was nonetheless a related field in which she had held an interest in for as long as she could remember. She had tried obtaining some positions in the past as a hedge against her desire for a modeling career, if not also for options as she inevitably aged and became less viable as a model. There was one particular large department store near her apartment – Melvin’s – to which she had applied shortly after moving to the city, only to be rebuffed due to a lack of experience. She would browse or simply cut through the store so often on her way home that she would often joke to herself that they might just hire her simply because she visited so often and probably knew the store layout better than some of their current employees.
As evening set, Carlie retired to her apartment for dinner and a relaxing night alone. She was in her early twenties, with an average build, about 5’-5” (165 cm) tall and 140 pounds (64 kg) with a fair complexion, big steel blue eyes and fine dark brown hair. Due to her job, looks and personality, she had little trouble meeting new people but the prospect of a relationship didn’t appeal much to her these days. Things were just too unsettled and she was more interested in just getting established first. She had been on a few dates but nothing serious became of them; there were even a couple one night stands thrown in as well.
Carlie’s next assignment at AZH Models was indeed the following Friday. This time, she was set up with a different photographer, Eric, who was every bit as eccentric as Javier was. “Must be a requirement of the job,” she mused to herself. Annette was out around town attempting to secure more contracts, but word of Tuesday’s session had reached Eric and he was looking forward to working with Carlie. This day’s shoots were to be a little more varied – the morning consisted of a few sets of frilly lingerie for a small boutique’s marketing materials and the afternoon’s shoot involved some formal wear for a bridal shop – both of which went without a hitch.
A few months went by with roughly the same schedule. The Draper’s sessions occurred regularly almost every Tuesday, with Carlie typically modeling misses casual wear with occasional forays into lingerie, swimwear and pajamas. There would usually also be a second session at the end of the week which tended to vary from week to week based on last minute needs to close out the week’s commitments. During that time there had been three separate weeks with either no sessions or just one. While she was happy with the work, it also felt to her as if things were stagnating. More than anything, she wanted to be able to quit her job as a cashier, but her income and week-to-week consistency just didn’t make her comfortable enough to do so. Eventually, a suitable opportunity to discuss the situation with Annette finally arose during lunch one Tuesday in September.
“Annette,” Carlie began, “as I mentioned this morning there’s something I want to talk to you about.”
Annette looked up. “Sure, hun, what is it?” she asked inquisitively.
“Well…,” Carlie stuttered nervously, “I realize I haven’t been around here very long but I’ve been getting the feeling that things have sort of stalled out a little for me.”
“What do you mean?” Annette asked with some concern.
“Not with the work itself, believe me when I say the experience has been great and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Carlie responded. “I guess it just seems like I’m not seeing any advancement in the number of shoots per week or anything like that – you know?”
“Ahh, I get it now,” Annette replied. “I see your concern and believe me in your short time here you’ve become one of our favorite models, especially with Javier. The thing is we’re in a tricky spot – we’re successful enough that we can’t really handle many more contracts with our current space and crew, yet at the same time we have a good cast of models that we’re trying to juggle and keep happy. Tell you what – I’m going to be out of the country all next week for family matters so I’ll be sure to have some time to try and figure out some arrangement that works for both of us. Deal?”
“Deal,” Carlie replied. “Like I said, I don’t want to be causing trouble, but I just feel like I need more of an assurance of stability.”
“No, I get what you’re saying,” Annette said while standing up from her chair, “and keeping the models happy is part of my job. Well, I hate to do this to you but I have to run – and it looks like Javier is done mowing down his sub so you’d probably best be running as well!”
“Ha, yeah,” Carlie said with a giggle.
Both then exchanged their goodbyes and went on with their respective business.
At the end of a busy Friday, two weeks after their discussion over lunch, Annette called Carlie into her office.
“You asked for me?” Carlie asked.
“Yes I did, please have a seat,” Annette said, motioning to a chair across from her desk. “Remember I said I would try to find an answer to your workload concerns?”
“Yeah, I do,” Carlie responded.
“Well,” Annette began, “unfortunately, obviously, we’re still in the predicament I had mentioned to you at the time as it concerned our ability to handle more work. Some of us have discussed expanding into a bigger space and taking on more crew and such but, well, the time just isn’t right for that. That said, I recalled some of the other things you’ve told me in the past and I may be able to help you outside of this agency.”
“Oh?” Carlie asked, inquisitively, her eyes lighting up with a bit of surprise. “What exactly are you thinking?”
“OK, and feel free to tell me to shut up if I’m making false presumptions, but foremost in my mind was that conversation we had over lunch a few months ago where you mentioned an interest in visual merchandising – you said something about having applied to Melvin’s at one point,” Annette said.
“That’s right…, well, actually, I’ve applied there three times so far with no luck!” Carlie responded, visibly embarrassed.
“Oh don’t be embarrassed, obviously they’re the ones making the mistakes,” Annette said, quite bluntly. “But anyway, I think I can help you with that. Kind of.”
“Go on...,” Carlie said.
“Well, I can’t help you inasmuch as getting you a job at Melvin’s. Heck, I’ve tried breaking them for a little contract work and they won’t budge. Apparently they like paying too much for their shoots,” Annette said, with a noticeable tone of contempt in her voice. “But, they’re the big players and they can do that; no doubt we’d do the same in their position so I can’t begrudge them that. I do have a connection to another modeling agency, however,” she said while gesturing air quotes with her fingers while saying modeling agency. “He’s a friend of my brother-in-law’s cousin – what they tell you about everybody knowing everybody in the industry is true!”
“Another agency?” Carlie asked, again surprised.
“Well, sort of,” Annette said. “And no, it wouldn’t have to conflict with your sessions here if you didn’t want it to, it could be completely on the side.”
“OK, go on,” Carlie urged.
“He runs this business, they’re not very common but there are a couple of them in this city where they hire models to act as living mannequins. Maybe you’ve heard of these before. Naturally, they tend to be expensive – more expensive than buying a plastic dummy – but certain stores swear by them. They claim that the curiosity they give shoppers and passers-by helps their sales,” Annette said, pausing. “I sense you’re a little taken aback by this?”
“Oh no,” Carlie said, hesitatingly. “I appreciate the thought and it’s an interesting idea. I was curious as to how a modeling agency would get me into visual merchandising. That never occurred to me before but it does make sense,” Carlie said. “I’m not sure it’s my kind of thing, though?”
Annette leaned forward against her desk and made direct eye contact with Carlie. “If you want my honest opinion – now I’ve only known you for not even five months so I can’t claim to know what makes you tick, so to speak – but I’ve seen your work and observed you here many times and I think you’d be a natural at it.”
“You really think so?” Carlie asked, her eyes meeting Annette’s.
“You bet,” Annette answered affirmatively. “I saw something in you without even being present at the open call, and I’m still sure I was right. I see this as the same thing. If you want my advice, go ahead and try it – you have nothing to lose.”
“Have you talked with him about me?” Carlie asked.
“No, I didn’t want go ahead and just assume you would be willing,” Annette responded. “It came up in business-related conversation with my brother-in-law’s cousin. He mentioned that his friend always seemed to be looking for models, as the work tends to require a special kind of model. Sort of the opposite of our problem here. I didn’t think anything of it at first as I didn’t think it applied to anything I could help with – until earlier today when I recalled my conversations with you. If you’d like, I can reach out to him.”
“I still want to think about it some more, but yeah, could you?” Carlie asked shyly.
“Will do!” Annette answered as she relaxed back into her chair.
“Thanks,” Carlie said. “Is that all?”
“That’s all,” Annette said. “You’re free to go home. Do your thinking, have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week.”
“Thank you, and have a great weekend yourself” Carlie said, rising from the chair. “Goodbye!”
“Bye!” Annette responded.
By the time the following Tuesday had arrived, Carlie had reached a decision that she was going to take Annette up on the offer. “Why not try it,” she thought, “and if it’s not for me I’ll probably know right away and I just won’t have to do it again.” She and Javier were just getting started on the morning’s first shoot when Annette popped into the room and indicated to Carlie that she wanted to meet over lunch. Carlie acknowledged the request and the shoot went off as planned.
After the shoot, Carlie walked over to Annette’s office and knocked on the door. “Come in,” Annette responded.
“Hi, Carlie, I’d like you to meet the person we talked about last week – the one who runs the living mannequin business, William Andersen of Andersen Merchandising Solutions,” Annette said, motioning over to a man sitting in a chair across from her desk. “Bill, this is Carlie; Carlie, Bill,” she said, introducing them.
“Hello, Mr. Andersen,” Carlie said.
“Hi Carlie,” Bill responded, a rather tall and burly man with a booming voice who couldn’t have looked less like the type of man you’d expect to see running a modeling agency; rather he looked like he should be chopping down trees in the forests of Idaho. “Please have a seat. You can just call me Bill. So I understand Annette told you that my business might be looking for a new model?”
“Yes,” Carlie said, “we talked about it a little last Friday afternoon and I’ve decided that I would be interested in maybe helping you out if you would like.”
“That’s great,” Bill replied. “I won’t bore you with the details of it right now, but Annette and I thought it would be a good idea to get together and bore you with the details of how we want to arrange this within your schedule if you were interested. Our hours and assignments vary, naturally, but they generally run anywhere from between four and ten hours from start to finish so ideally we’ll find some day you’re completely free. This week, I have an open spot for a model on Thursday as well as one for Saturday. Annette has indicated that you don’t have any sessions here on those days?”
“That’s right. I’m scheduled at my other job tomorrow, Thursday and Friday nights five to ten o’clock but they’re usually pretty liberal with hours so I can adjust if needed if you’d like to try Thursday,” Carlie answered.
“We can try Thursday if that’s alright with you,” Bill responded. “We have a lunch hour assignment from ten to two o’clock in a few stores over at the Northland Commons. We’d have you done and out of there well before you needed to be at your other job. That way we can also start you with a shorter session to help you see if it’s something you’d like to continue doing.”
“That sounds like a plan!” Carlie replied.
The group then got up and went out to lunch together at a nearby restaurant where Bill described to Annette and Carlie some of the ins and outs of the business as well as some interesting stories from past assignments. When lunch was finished, Bill gave Carlie his card and told her when and where to go on Thursday morning. He then left on his own as Annette and Carlie returned to the studio.
Carlie met up with Bill and four other models at his office on Thursday morning. There, the group was helped into the wares they would be modeling and were assisted with makeup and hair by his assistants. Bill explained that typically, the assignments would be disseminated to the models at least a week in advance with details such as where, when and what they would be wearing. Assignments were then generally given on a first-come, first-serve basis with some restrictions based on talent and seniority. Assignments displaying lingerie or formal wear were usually the most coveted. The last-minute nature of Carlie’s assignment reflected this, as she was to display a simple casual outfit of ballet flats, blue jeans, a white t-shirt and an open grey sweater. Hair and makeup were minimal and for Carlie, most of the prep session consisted of conversing with the other models as she waited for the time they would depart for the mall.
Once ready, the group packed into the company van where they were taken to the Northland Commons. From there, Bill directed the models to their respective stores, three in total, where they were to meet with the store managers who were expecting them and who would assist them in getting into position before they officially opened for the day. Carlie’s assignment was at a fairly average department store which was popular with young men and women in their twenties and early thirties. Since she was new to the process, Bill escorted her and the other model with whom she had been paired, Claire, to the store and introduced her to the manager, much as he did with all new recruits. Both models were then escorted to a relatively large platform upon which they would be displayed. This particular platform was in the center of a small open area in the store at the intersection of the two main aisles and was large enough to stand three or four display figures. After assisting the two into position, both Bill and the manager left the area, leaving the two models alone in the still-closed store where they quietly talked to each other about the job.
Carlie thoroughly enjoyed the session. “Annette was right; this really does seem to come to me naturally” she thought to herself as time passed and she realized that she was hardly expending any effort to remain silent and motionless. Her clothes were comfortable and despite being situated near a bank of bright ceiling lights, the environment was still comfortable as well. “Most of them probably do it to show off,” she thought, “but I bet the models also jump for the half-naked assignments because it probably gets hot under the lights in some of those stores.” Her favorite moments were when she would be noticed by a shopper, male or female equally. Many would double take at her and Claire as it was evident these were not just any ordinary mannequins. Bill also came around periodically and before she knew it, he stopped by one last time and subtly pointed at his watch. It was fifteen past two o’clock and that was the signal that the day was over.
Bill would typically spend the day walking throughout the mall to check on the models; if there were no shoppers nearby he would stop and ask them if they were having any problems or sometimes just chat for a minute. When not patrolling, he would find a place to sit down and attend to business matters.
Carlie was part relieved and part reluctant to leave her position. Relieved in the sense that she had been on her feet for nearly five hours but reluctant in the sense that she wasn’t mentally ready for the day to be over just yet. As the three walked back to the designated rendezvous location in preparation for the ride back to the office, Bill and Claire asked Carlie what she thought about the day.
The five models spent the ride back to the office recounting the stories of some of the odd things they witnessed while on display in the stores. They finally arrived back at the office where they spent some time closing out the day’s business and changing back into their own clothes. Eventually, Bill and Carlie were the only two remaining.
“So, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” Bill asked.
“No, actually it was great and I’m glad both that Annette found this for me and that I decided to try it out!” Carlie responded.
“That’s great,” Bill said. “From what I saw the times I walked by, it seemed like you handled it pretty well. So, if you’re interested, I can get you in on a session on Saturday. I have an assignment for five models again. All five spots are actually taken, but there is room for a sixth. I figure I can throw you in for free – or if nothing else you can serve as a stand-in in the event that one of the other girls can’t make it for whatever reason.”
“Sure!” Carlie exclaimed. “Where is this one?”
“Saturday is going to be at a bridal shop,” Bill said as he began to describe the assignment. “The models will be displaying as a bridal party so you’ll get to wear something a little nicer than you had on today. The bride position is already taken but you’ll get to model a purple bridesmaid’s dress. Be prepared though; it’ll be a much longer day than today was. First of all, the prep time is greater and Saturdays typically run longer anyway. So be prepared to be here by eight o’clock in the morning and we probably won’t get back here until about seven o’clock in the evening.”
“Wow, well that might be a challenge but I think I’m up to it. Only way to find out, right?” Carlie asked.
“No other way,” Bill responded. “Well, on that note it’s time to close up because I need to be somewhere else right now. Are you all set?”
“All set,” Carlie answered as the two headed to the door. “I’ll see you again Saturday morning!”
“Sure thing; goodbye!” Bill said once they were outside.
“Bye!” Carlie said as she started off back to her apartment.
The following day, Annette asked Carlie about her experience as a living mannequin. Carlie described the day and thanked her for finding the opportunity for her.
“Not a problem at all, hun; I knew you’d like it!” Annette said. “So I’d assume you’re going to go back again at some point?”
“Actually, I signed up for another assignment tomorrow,” Carlie answered. “This one’s going to be about twice as long, though, so we’ll see how it goes.”
“Wow, that didn’t take long, did it? I’m sure you’ll do just fine. You’re a natural; I just hope you’re not going to be leaving me now!” Annette said, with just a trace of concern in her voice.
“Oh, don’t worry,” Carlie said, reassuringly. “I like both of these jobs but in different ways. It’s a nice variety.”
“That’s great to hear,” Annette said. “I’ll see you back here next Tuesday, then, and you can tell me all about it!”
“Sure thing!” Carlie responded.
Carlie was eager and ready to go on Saturday morning. Aside from the added complexities due to having to prepare six models to appear as a bridal party, her day pretty much followed the same process as Thursday had. Once the preparation was complete, the crew packed into the van for the thirty minute ride to the bridal shop.
Once at the shop, the models were briefed by Bill and the store manager and then assisted into position. The models representing the bride and three of the bridesmaids, including Carlie, were given standing positions while the remaining two models were seated on a raised portion of the display platform. “Must be another perk of seniority,” Carlie thought. “Although, I’d have trouble arguing that a sore butt after sitting on that hard thing all day is any better than having sore feet from standing!” Even though the bride’s train took up a sizable portion of the platform, there was more than enough room for the six models and the store manager was vocally appreciative of the larger crowd. She explained that the shop was running a one-day special on bridal gowns and the models should definitely create an added buzz on what promised to be a busy day regardless. Eventually, the store opened to customers and Bill headed off to a nearby library to catch up on business. He would periodically return throughout the day to check on the models.
For Carlie, this session was even more enjoyable than her first. For one, it was quite consistently busy and only became busier as the day went on. The clientele of the bridal shop was also understandably far more interested in the nuances of the dresses and materials available for sale than Thursday’s regular mall crowd and that directly translated into more interaction between the customers and the models. Carlie lost count of how many brides-to-be felt or pulled on her or the other models’ dresses. She couldn’t imagine how much effort it must have been taking the model playing the bride not to react – just as if she were a real bride, today was her day. There were several occasions where the girl would recoil in surprise as she realized that the mannequins were real living girls, but most of them seemed either oblivious to it or just too preoccupied with the task at hand to notice. The reactions of their apparent fiancés, on the other hand, ranged from averted eye contact to outright ogling. Carlie enjoyed every last second of it.
Before Carlie even realized it, Bill returned to announce a lunch break for the group, where they were provided catered box lunches in the store’s break room. A half hour later, the models were reassembled on the platform but in a slightly different arrangement. Bill asked Carlie if she wanted to be seated for the second half of the day but she said she didn’t mind standing again. This time around, her feet began to get sore in her heels shortly after lunch but she was able to power through without breaking pose. By mid-afternoon, the day might have felt as though it was beginning to drag a bit but the store was so busy and so much was happening that she scarcely noticed. Eventually, with the sunlight outside fading into evening, Bill returned with the store manager to release the models and they returned to the office.
“I would say you handled that quite well!” Bill said to Carlie, quite pleased with his newest model’s latest performance. “Normally, I wouldn’t expect a first-time, well, second-time model to handle an assignment that long but from what I saw you handled it like a pro. I’m glad Annette directed you to me.”
“Me too,” Carlie said. “I’ll be honest; the day did seem to start to wear on a little by the end and my feet are pretty sore right now. But overall I really enjoyed it. When do you want me back?”
“That’s perfectly normal,” Bill responded. “You’re not used to standing on your feet continuously for that long a time. I think you’ll find that just like with anything else, you’ll eventually get acclimated to it and it won’t bother you much if at all. Just take it easy for a couple of days. As for a schedule, well let’s see. If it’s alright with you, I’d like to get you in regularly for one or two assignments a week. Do you have a problem with that?”
“That’s all?” Carlie asked in a joking tone. “No problem at all; in fact if you can assure me of that workload I will be able to quit my other job and just focus on splitting time between you and Annette.”
“Based on what I’ve seen of you over the course of these two days I’m pretty certain that I want to keep you around, so do what you want in that regard,” Bill said. “We’ll take care of you. Right now I can get you in on two assignments next week, Wednesday and Saturday. Wednesday would be for an evening, lunch to close displaying lingerie; whereas Saturday would be a lunch hour and early afternoon assignment displaying casual dress wear. Are those acceptable to you?”
“Sounds great!” Carlie said.
“Alright, I’ll pencil you in for those then. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend and give those feet a rest!” Bill said.
“Thanks, will do, and have a great weekend yourself!” Carlie responded.
Carlie’s weekly schedule into the winter typically consisted of two days at AZH Models and another one or two days modeling as a living mannequin for Bill. This workload had enabled her to easily do without her job at the drug store, though she held onto it on a limited basis just because it afforded her an opportunity to interact with people, which is something she couldn’t really do with the modeling jobs. Still, though, she had an urge for more that she just couldn’t seem to suppress. The days where she was modeling just flew by and the days off, while relaxing, sometimes bored her. She again quizzed Annette about assigning more shoots but the opportunity just wasn’t there for the same reasons as before. Bill was able to help her out by giving her up to three assignments per week, at which point she had become his busiest model. The work was more physically and mentally demanding than the job at AZH, but it was still just as if not more enjoyable. This busier schedule kept her satisfied – for the time being.
While her livelihood finally felt secure enough to allow her to loosen up her life and maybe even try dating again, she still had an incredible urge to always be busy modeling. “It’s not even about the money any more, it’s just natural; I just enjoy it,” she thought. As winter began to thaw and the summer fashions began to come out again, the urge only became greater. One Saturday in April, upon returning to the office after an assignment, she again asked Bill about getting more work.
“My, girl, I’m beginning to think you’re addicted to this stuff!” Bill exclaimed. “You know you’re one of my best models so I want to help you, but we’re a little better matched for the workload than we have been for some time so it might not be easy.”
“It’s OK if you can’t; I definitely understand,” Carlie said.
“There is something I want to show you, though, so if you want to hang around until I finish clearing out this book, I’ll show you,” Bill said.
“Sure, I’ll wait,” Carlie answered.
Bill was finished in about fifteen minutes, at which time he and Carlie headed out of the office. Carlie didn’t ask where they were going; rather she just followed where he was leading and the two made small talk along the way. They eventually reached Melvin’s, at which point Bill could sense some level of disappointment coming from Carlie.
“What’s the matter, don’t you like this place?” Bill asked with a knowing smirk.
“Well, to put it bluntly, I’ve applied here four times. Four times! Just for a stupid visual merchandising position and four times have gotten not even a simple response,” Carlie answered.
“Yeah, I hear you,” Bill replied. “If you can believe it, I’ve even tried to get gigs here but they’re ’afraid my models would scare the customers.’ But just hold your nose for a few minutes for me, OK?”
“Ugh,” Carlie grunted. “OK.” She then followed him into the store and through a small labyrinth of aisles. Bill finally stopped in an open area in the middle of the intimates and sleepwear department.
“Alright, this is what I want to show you,” Bill said, gesturing to a display mannequin.
“Show me what?” asked Carlie. “That’s just a mannequin wearing a lace nightie.”
“Look again,” Bill instructed. “Look closer.”
“It’s quite a nice mannequin, but I don’t get what you’re trying to show me,” Carlie said. “So what, normal peasant mannequins aren’t good enough for them either?”
“Doesn’t she strike you as – should I say, different, from the others around her?” Bill asked.
“Subtly, yes,” Carlie answered. “It’s subtle, but she does look a little more real than the two next to her, I suppose.”
“OK,” Bill said. “That’s because she is more real than the others.”
“What do you mean?” Carlie inquired.
Bill paused for a second. “That is, or rather, was, a girl named Lindsay Allensworth,” Bill said. “Until about a year ago, she was one of my models.”
“Hold on a second. You’re trying to tell me that one of your models was turned into an ordinary mannequin?” Carlie asked, incredulously but quietly so as not to draw attention to herself. “That’s not possible!”
“It definitely is possible; I watched it happen myself,” Bill retorted. “She was probably my best model at the time; definitely was my busiest. She just couldn’t get enough.”
It was then that the real reason Bill brought her here hit Carlie like a load of bricks. “Are…,” she stammered, “Are you saying – you think...”
“Maybe,” Bill answered calmly as the two began to leave the store. “I’m not saying it is for sure, and if it is it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. You might want to really do some thinking about it. Strange as it may sound, that might be a very real option for you to consider. In the meantime, I’ll try to get you more assignments but there’s only so much I can do. It’s a niche job. You do realize that.”
“Yeah, I do,” Carlie whispered. “It’s just – a bit of a shock. I, I suppose there might be a parallel.”
“I figured it would be, but I felt I had to show you,” Bill said. “So, unless you want me to, I won’t mention this again,” Bill said. “I’ll see you Monday morning?”
“Sure thing,” Carlie answered, still a bit shaken.
“Alrighty then, enjoy your Sunday!” Bill said.
“Will do, enjoy yours too!” Carlie replied.
At first, Carlie didn’t want to think about what Bill had shown her, but from that moment on it never left the back of her mind. It wasn’t something she had ever thought of before, even as a wild fantasy. More and more, though, it ate at her. “I’ve never really considered that what mannequins do is basically modeling, too,” she would think. “Perhaps if I had been hired for that visual merchandising position and I was dressing those things, maybe I would have made the connection? I don’t know. Even so, I still wouldn’t have been able to realize that I could actually become much less want to become one. Do I want to even find out what I would have to do to make it happen?”
May finally arrived and spring was in full bloom. One particular Tuesday after finishing up at AZH Models, Carlie finally summoned up the courage to call Bill and find out. Unfortunately, he must have been busy, because the call went to voicemail. She suddenly got cold feet and didn’t leave a message.
About an hour later, Carlie was in her apartment doing some chores when her phone rang – it was Bill returning the missed call. She was almost afraid to answer it but did so just before it went to voicemail.
“Hello?” Carlie asked.
“Hi, Carlie,” Bill answered. “You tried calling me?”
“Yes, I did,” Carlie said, hesitating. “I’d like...”
“Excuse me?” asked Bill. “I couldn’t hear what you just said. It’s a little loud here.”
“I, I need to know more,” Carlie said.
“Need to know more about wha, errr, oh, you mean – Lindsay?” Bill asked. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I mean, I think so,” Carlie said, a little more sure of herself now.
“Alright, give me a little time,” Bill said. “We’re just about finishing up an assignment now but I’ll call you back after I get back to the office and discharge the models, OK? Won’t be for at least another hour.”
“OK,” Carlie answered.
“Depending on what I can arrange, do you think you might be able to come over to the office tonight?” Bill asked.
“Sure, I don’t have anything planned,” Carlie said.
“OK then. I’ll call you back. Bye!” Bill said.
“Bye,” Carlie said.
Two hours later, at about seven o’clock, Carlie’s phone rang again. “Hello?” she asked.
“Hi Carlie, it’s Bill again. Are you still available?” he asked.
“Yeah, I am. Do you want me to head over there now?” Carlie asked.
“If you could, yeah, that would be great,” Bill said.
“OK, I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes, see you then,” Carlie replied.
“Sounds good. Bye!” Bill said.
“Bye!” Carlie responded.
Carlie quickly threw on a jacket and headed over to Bill’s office. All the while she was equal parts nervous and excited about what she would be learning. By this time, it was about the only thought she could maintain, so while she wasn’t expecting it she was quite grateful that Bill was able to have her so quickly. When she arrived, Bill was the only person remaining in the office.
“Hi, Bill,” Carlie said as she entered Bill’s office.
“Oh, hello Carlie,” Bill said. “Just finishing up the day’s paperwork if you’ll bear with me. So if you don’t mind me asking, just how serious are you about going through with this?”
“It’s OK. I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to think about it after you showed me Lindsay but after a few weeks it kept creeping into my mind and lately I can’t get it out. I don’t know that I ever want to go through with it but I want to find out what it entails, you know?” Carlie said.
“That’s what I kind of figured,” Bill said. “Well, I didn’t know the person who did that to Lindsay, much less that it was even possible in the first place. She was the one that actually found him and did all the leg work. She just called in one morning and told me what she was doing and if I wanted to see it. Naturally I was skeptical of it but the curiosity was too strong, so I did. It might have been the most bizarre thing I have ever seen in my life, but I can assure you it did happen. One minute she was living and breathing Lindsay and the next she was just a more realistic version of an ordinary store mannequin.”
“I’m assuming what she did was permanent?” Carlie asked.
“I believe so, but don’t hold me to that” Bill answered. “Anyway, I’m going to get you in touch with the guy who can do it; he’ll be able to answer questions I can’t, which is to say all of them. I called him right after I called you back the first time and he’s available to discuss things tonight. I didn’t set anything up, though, because I wasn’t exactly certain where you were with it, so I’ll need to call him back to let him know you’ll be over. I can go along if you like.”
“Yes, I’d like that, and if you could I would appreciate it,” Carlie said. “I’m curious but still apprehensive.”
“That’s understandable,” Bill said. “I’ll call him up again and we can leave in a few minutes. I’m just about finished.”
Ten minutes later, Carlie and Bill got into Bill’s car to visit the man who transformed Lindsay. “He lives some distance outside the city and since you don’t have a car I wouldn’t want you to have to figure out some way to get there,” Bill said. After a forty-five minute car ride, they arrived at the address given, a stately house in a semi-rural neighborhood on the fringes of the suburbs.
Shortly after Bill knocked, an avuncular and spry older man in his early seventies opened the door. “Hello sir and madam, I take it you are William and Carlie?” the man asked.
“Yes sir,” Carlie answered.
“Excellent, right on time. As you probably already know, I’m Werner Schmidt, nice to meet you. Come on in,” he said as he gestured for the two to enter. Bill and Carlie entered and followed him into his living room, where he offered them a place to sit as well as light snacks and drinks. A few minutes later they were all settled in.
“Miss Carlie, William explained to me that you are interested in hearing about the details of one Lindsay Allensworth, am I correct?” Werner asked.
“That’s right, Mr. Schmidt,” Carlie replied.
“You can call me Werner,” he said. “Anyway, through some channels I can’t exactly recall, Lindsay came to me a little less than a year ago. Though I object to the term, I’ve always been seen as something of a mad scientist. She had caught word that I had developed an experimental procedure that would turn a flesh and blood human into a plastic display figure. We corresponded a few times over the space of about a month as I think she was a little unsure of herself. Eventually, curiosity or desire – or maybe both – got the better of her and she called me up one day and we made it so, at which time I turned custody of her form over to William.”
“Could you explain to me some of the details of would happen to me?” Carlie asked.
“Certainly, my child,” Werner said as he wasted no time entering into a detailed description wherein he described the process in detail. “The process takes place in a closet-sized chamber I have constructed in my basement that I could show you tonight if you like. It’s large enough and with various configurable platforms on the floor such as to afford you plenty of room to select the pose you prefer. If you were to elect to go through with the procedure, I would first provide you with one quarter liter of a special cocktail to ingest, after which you would enter the chamber. Time zero is when the chamber door is locked and you announce that you are ready. At that time, I would then initiate the filling of the chamber with a special noxious gas, similar to what you would be given to be placed under anesthesia. You would need to have your pose selected by this time as within approximately twenty seconds of inhaling the gas you would become very mentally loose and relaxed while your muscles and skin tighten, becoming nearly rigid such that movement becomes very difficult if not impossible.
“At time thirty seconds I would then deactivate the gas and activate in its place a certain frequency of electromagnetic radiation. This radiation would activate the chemicals in the cocktail you ingested earlier, to the effect of causing your body to hollow from the inside. Somewhat regrettably, as the radiation includes bright light one cannot practically view their transformation. This is because you would instinctively want to blink but you would not be able to, nor would your pupils be able to constrict as a result of the gas, so you would effectively be blinded. The contents of the cocktail would continue to react and hollow you out until they reached the surface of the skin, at which point the reaction would change, creating a six and a half millimeter thick plastic shell accurate to your original body contours within a one millimeter margin of error at any point. Because of this, any skin that is within tight contact with other skin, such as your toes, fingers and lips will be fused together.
“By two minutes the process would be completed and I would then deactivate the radiation and allow the chamber to cool, as by this time the temperature would be well in excess of eighty degrees centigrade. Once the chamber has suitably cooled I would enter and retrieve your form. Finally, the only task remaining would be to create your articulations. I have created a device just for such a task which will perform the cutting using lasers which work only on the plastic form, ignoring clothing and what have you. I would then place the attachment hardware into those cuts and fully reassemble you as required. Once this was completed, probably no more a half hour after entering the chamber, you would have been completely transformed into a very realistic but fully inanimate plastic display mannequin.
“Now that I have described the process, what other questions might you have?” Werner asked.
Throughout Werner’s description, Carlie was having some difficult in taking it all in. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here, hearing this right now,” she thought to herself. “This is all so strange and bizarre, yet so – I don’t know how to describe it – erotic or something. I never knew I had this in me.” Finally, she responded. “Is there any way I could try this out to see if I like it? Will I retain consciousness during and after the process? Does it hurt?” she asked.
“All very good questions,” Werner replied. “Unfortunately, the process is not reversible, so no, you couldn’t just try it out. The reason is simple molecular physics. There is no way to retain the information in your body structure and therefore there is no way to recreate it once changed. Once the process is started there is no going back and once finished you will no longer be beholden to the aging process of humans but rather that of any other display mannequin. It’ll be as if you always were a mannequin.
“As for your consciousness, I’m afraid I can’t give a definitive answer, nor can any of my subjects as they obviously cannot speak. Ultimately, I suppose it’s a matter of faith. As for pain, again I cannot answer conclusively but I would be inclined to believe that there is no pain is involved. The last human sensations you should feel are probably the tightening of your skin and muscles but this would be offset by the relaxation of your mind and central nervous system. Sorry I cannot provide more detail,” Werner said.
“That’s OK,” Carlie said. “It’s a lot of information. What about my body attributes; for instance, can I choose my skin or hair color? Eyes? Enlarge my breasts? What about piercings? Things like that.”
“Now these questions, I can answer definitively,” Werner boasted. “The color of your mannequin form would remain similar to that as it is now, but slightly paler and with a slight sheen. There is no way to change that through the process though there are things that can be done afterwards just as with any ordinary mannequin. The coloring is also homogeneous, so any freckles, scars, tattoos or any other subcutaneous pigment will be erased. Epidermal pigments such as makeup or even paint and grime will remain unchanged, however, and can be removed after the procedure the same ways you would remove them from plastic. Your lips, eyes and eyebrows will be translated into painted features while your eyelashes and hair will become removable like a wig. The hair on your scalp is actually the only part of you which will survive the transformation virtually intact; you’ll essentially be a mannequin wearing an expensive human hair wig. If you were wearing artificial fingernails, they would also survive likewise and you would be a mannequin wearing artificial fingernails.
“Now as for your physical characteristics. The gas which tightens your skin confers upon it quite an amount of tension – and as you know, skin is rather strong in tension. Your skin will be shaped as if it were being inflated, but not to the point of deformation; in effect naturalizing your shape. So no, you can’t change your breast size or anything else like that but on the other hand, their shape, or would you say perkiness, will be the same after transformation regardless whether or not you were wearing a bra. As for piercings, due to the tension and the way in which the plastic shell is created and fused, they would all fall out. If you had a piercing you would like placed on you after the transformation, I would suggest you give them to me beforehand and I can drill them in afterwards. Anything else or are you ready to see the facilities?” Werner asked.
“I think I would like to see them, if you don’t mind,” Carlie said.
“Sure, not a problem, please follow me,” Werner said while rising and gesturing toward the stairs. Arriving in the basement, he directed them down a short hallway and into a brightly lit room about the size of a small bedroom. The far right corner of the room was occupied by the transformation chamber, a roughly seven foot square room partitioned from the remainder of the room by a construction of metal with several glass windows. Next to it is what appeared to Carlie to be the console from which Werner directed the various phases of the transformation, while the left side of the room featured several chairs, a few mannequin stands and a workbench around which various tools and hardware were neatly organized. “This is the room; if you’d like to have a look around please feel free, just please avoid touching anything. You may sit down if you like,” Werner announced.
Carlie briefly browsed the room and peered inside the chamber and then sat down for a moment. “It’s strange to think that the next time I walk into this room I could have to be pushed out on one of these handcarts. That is, of course, if I were to come back,” she thought to herself before another thought entered her mind. “Or...maybe I won’t have to come back?”
“You seem to be in a little bit of awe, if I may say so myself,” Werner said to Carlie. “Is there anything else you’d like to know?”
“No, not really, I don’t think so,” she replied. “You’re right, though. I was just thinking how if I wanted to, ten feet and fifteen minutes from now you two could be wheeling me out on one of these carts. It’s an interesting thought. So say I do. Say I decide to do it, what happens to my stuff, my apartment? Who tells my family and bosses?”
“You leave all of that to me,” Werner said. “I’ll take care of it all and I’m sure William would help with the effort, right?”
“Sure,” Bill answered. “Are you seriously thinking about going through with it right now, Carlie?”
“I wasn’t planning on it, no, but those are some questions I thought of if I were to eventually,” Carlie answered.
“Alright,” Bill answered. “I wasn’t prepared to be transporting a mannequin home on the way back, either, although we’d fit you in there somehow,” he said with a smile.
Carlie smiled. “Yeah. If you both don’t mind, I’d like to just sit here for a few moments and then we can head out. Werner, I’d like to thank you for the information and the tour and I’ll let you know if I decide to take the plunge, obviously,” she said.
“No problem at all, my child,” Werner said. “Take your time and don’t hesitate to ask if you think of any other questions.”
“OK,” Carlie said.
Several minutes passed and Carlie arose once again and took a quiet walk around the room. After a few minutes she cleared her throat while turning toward Bill and Werner, who were chatting just outside the room. The sound distracted them and they simultaneously glanced up toward Carlie. “Alright, I’m ready,” she said.
“OK, thanks Werner, it’s been nice talk...” Bill started to say as Carlie cut him off.
“No, I’m ready to be transformed,” Carlie said, matter-of-factly but with a slight nervousness in her voice.
“Are you absolutely certain?” Bill asked. “I thought you needed more time to think about it?”
“I might,” Carlie said, somewhat sheepishly. “But then I’m going to go home and think about it tonight, and then tomorrow, and then the next day until I do it. It’s not going to leave my mind. I know now that I have to do it eventually. We’re here now, so I want to do it now. I’m not walking back outside this room.”
“If you’re certain,” Bill said.
“Yes, if you are certain I will go ahead and start the computer and prepare the cocktail,” Werner added as he began to busy himself with the preparations.
“I am,” Carlie stated. “To be honest, I was kind of hoping things would work out as they did. I had a mani-pedi yesterday and I knew my last shoot at AZH today was going to involve makeup and an outfit I liked. They even let me keep it when I asked. I look the exactly the way I want to look when I’m standing in some store ten years from now.” Carlie looked herself over in a mirror and was satisfied with her appearance. She was wearing the same shoes she wore for her first modeling shoot at AZH Models – the short-heeled black pumps, this time accompanied by nearly opaque black tights and a black skater skirt with pink floral print which fell to just above her knees. Her top consisted of a blue camisole and elbow length cardigan set. Her look was completed with a hint of purple eyeshadow, black eyeliner and artificial eyelashes. Her long hair was still reasonably styled but was slightly mussed from the rush of the evening, a detail which she briefly noticed but didn’t display any concern over. She continued to look herself over in the mirror and fantasize about what would be as Werner broke her trance on herself.
“Miss Carlie, the cocktail is ready,” he exclaimed. “Drink it, drink all of it as soon as you are ready. The transformation can then take place as long as it remains in your system.”
“Thanks,” Carlie said as she accepted the glass from Werner and smoothly downed it. “Wow, I was expecting something bitter and medicine-y or worse, but that was actually sort of sweet!”
“Not everything experimental and scientific needs to taste bad,” Werner retorted with a smile. “Now, any time you are ready you may enter the chamber, but first, would you like to assign custody of your future form to William here?”
“Alright, thank you, and yes,” Carlie replied as she slowly stepped toward the now open door of the chamber.
“Carlie,” interrupted Bill as his modeling agent sense had kicked in, “don’t you want to take off your jacket first and fix your hair?”
“Meh,” Carlie replied. “It doesn’t make a difference, really. Tell you what, how about you take it off of me later on? We might both enjoy it more then. You’ll also have to fix my hair later anyway because you know it’s going to just get messed up even worse when you’re trying to fit me in your car in about a half hour from now. Even worse if you have to pop my head off and it rolls around in the car! But seriously, try not to let that happen,” she joked.
“You got it, Carlie,” Bill said. “Even in the face of being turned into a mannequin you’re still practical and looking ahead.”
“You know me! Oh, and don’t forget to show me off to Annette before you sell me off,” Carlie replied. “Oh wait,” she said as she hesitated for a moment to remove her earrings and handed them to Werner. “Please put these back on me when I’m finished,” she instructed Werner.
“Alright,” Werner said as he placed the earrings on top of the console. “Do you have any final questions?”
“Ummm,” Carlie stammered. “Oh yes, one more. About posing. You said I could pose any way I want, but what if I were to choose a pose where I can’t stay balanced on my own?”
“Good question,” Werner responded. “You’ll find various harnesses available which can be used to prop or hold any part of you in almost any position, should you need them. I can help you if you require. Then naturally, after you’ve been transformed, your body will be rigid and will hold any contortion you might choose. You then have two options available to you for maintaining your balance after the transformation.”
“What are they?” Carlie asked.
“The simplest option is for me to affix hardware to you wherever needed to allow you to be fastened to a stand,” Werner said. “The second option is to fit you with a receptacle which will receive a support pole.”
“I think I like the sound of the second option better,” Carlie replied, blushing a little.
“Alright,” Werner said as he walked over to the workbench and retrieved what appeared to Carlie to be a six inch long cylinder with a short flange on one end. “You’ll need this. Before you select your pose, you will have to insert this into your vagina and fit the flange under your labia. You will have plenty of privacy to do so in the chamber. It contains the mechanism that will secure to you a standard metal display pole, one of which you will find in the chamber. You then insert one end of the pole into this receptacle and the other end to any of the receptacles that you will find in the floor. You’ll know they’re locked when you hear a distinct click. Doing this will ensure that everything is aligned properly, because this receptacle will fuse seamlessly with your body as your skin is transformed into plastic. You will find the pole to be adjustable to your pose; you want to make certain there is just enough force on it to feel some resistance, but no more. When you are ready, I can help you set up if you like.”
“Sounds fun,” Carlie said as she took the receptacle from Werner. “So I’ll have to adjust my underwear and tights to fit the pole in and that won’t affect my final shape, right?”
“Absolutely not,” Werner replied.
“One of you will just have to fix me up after you take the pole out. I don’t want to tear my tights,” Carlie said as she finally entered the chamber. As she shut the door behind her, it locked with a satisfying click. She spent a few minutes setting herself up for the pole, first inserting the receptacle into her vagina and making sure it was snug. She then installed one end of the support pole into the floor and straddled it. While holding her slightly pulled down tights and underwear away from the receptacle she had just placed inside herself with one hand, she used her other hand to pull the telescoping pole upwards and inside herself until she heard and felt a satisfying click. “Oooh, this just keeps getting better,” she thought to herself, extremely aroused from the whole exercise.
“OK, Werner, I’m all set,” she soon announced. “Let me know when I need to finalize my pose, and thank you.” Before Werner could answer, Carlie was almost completely set up. She had chosen a classic pose; her left leg nearly vertical with the knee bent slightly forward and her right leg extended slightly to the right and ahead of her as if she was about to step off her platform. She set herself just enough out of balance so as to feel a slight resistance from the pole holding her in place. She then posed her right arm akimbo with the hand slightly flattened and nearly touching her hip while her left arm hung almost freely at her side, with a slight bend at the elbow. Finally, she adjusted her feet slightly so maintain the pressure on the pole. Werner acknowledged her and initiated the gassing of the chamber, at which time she cocked her head slightly down and to the left and stared ahead with a slight pout evident in her lips.
To Carlie, the first twenty seconds passed in a flash. She had no sensation of the gas as it was colorless and odorless, but she could feel her muscles and skin stiffening. She made slight attempts twitch her left arm and to her odd satisfaction, it became more and more difficult. “The sensation of my skin tightening is oddly pleasant,” she thought to herself as she could feel her labia clench shut around the pole receptacle and her breasts no longer felt constrained by her bra but were rather forcing the bra to conform to them. “All this and I’m still fully flesh and blood!?” she thought. She knew the thirty second mark had arrived when the chamber began to brighten and the temperature started to rise. “Werner was right, it’s like staring at the sun in here yet my eyes don’t hurt. Ooohhh!” she thought as she was startled by the sense of her insides beginning to dissolve, starting with her stomach and any other surfaces which were in contact with the chemicals from the cocktail. “I feel like this should hurt, but it doesn’t! It feels like air time on a rollercoaster that just doesn’t end...but keeps getting stronger...” she thought as the sensation was almost overcoming. “I can actually feel weight being lifted off my feet, this is incredible...” As it continued to increase in strength she was beginning to dread the thought that she might black out and lose all sensation as the transformation consumed her head, leaving in its place an inanimate object devoid of all sentience and consciousness. “Holy shhhhhhhhh!” was all she could think as the wave of transformation began to reach the surface of her skin, rebounding inwards and forming the plastic shell just as Werner said would happen. About a minute into the transformation, the sensation of skin transforming into plastic began to overcome the sensation of lightening as most of her volume had been converted into empty space occupied only by air. Still she waited for the dreaded final blackout.
The lights soon went dim and Werner entered the chamber shortly afterwards. “All set, William,” he announced as released from the support pole the mannequin that just moments earlier had been a girl named Carlie and carried it out of the chamber. “I’d say she turned out quite nicely, wouldn’t you say?” he asked Bill.
“Exquisite, I must say,” Bill said. “I wonder how that felt to her, and how she feels now if anything.”
“There’s no way of knowing, unfortunately. We have to rely on faith at this point,” Werner said as he carried the mannequin over to the work bench. “I just have to cut in her articulations and you’ll be good to go. Want to take a look?”
“I didn’t believe it with Lindsay and I still don’t believe it now,” Bill said. “It’s incredible. She’s still warm from the process, too; though that won’t last long once we get her outside into the car.”
Werner aligned the articulating laser at various locations on the mannequin’s body; neck, shoulders, wrists, waist and right leg in order to allow full disassembly for dressing, undressing or any purpose where the entire body was not needed. The machine cut the through the body in a flat plane, which was evident as the subject limb would slump inside the clothing. Bill then assisted Werner in pulling back the clothing so that the latter could glue the attachment plates and hardware into the hollowed-out form. Despite having to deal with the clothing, this only took them a few minutes per articulation, after which they readjusted its clothing. Werner then drilled holes in the lower portions of the figure’s ear lobes in order to reattach the earrings Carlie had given him.
Finally, Werner unpackaged a glass base and pole set. He affixed a pole receptacle to the base in a position that would allow the figure to stand properly centered and balanced on the base. As predicted, Carlie had been transformed into a complete and fully functional store display piece within the space of thirty minutes.
“I’ve done my part; she’s all yours now, William,” Werner said. “Let’s hope she has a long and productive new life. I’ll begin the process of discharging her belongings and I’ll be in touch with you as necessary.”
“I hope so,” Bill replied. “I hope it turned out the way she wanted it to.”
Bill lifted the mannequin up and grossly overestimated its weight, narrowing avoiding hitting its head on the ceiling. “I can hear her now, ’What the fuck, Bill!?’” he thought. As he carried the mannequin out of the room and out into the hall and up the stairs, Werner followed behind with the display stand and pole, returned to its packaging for transport. Once at his car, Bill leaned the rigid figure up against it as he tried to figure out how to get it in without taking it apart. “Well Carlie, looks like I’m going to have to fold down the back seat so you’re going to be half in the trunk,” he said. Reaching into the car, he lowered the rear passenger side seat back and popped the trunk. Werner laid the display stand package flat on the driver side of the trunk just before Bill pushed the mannequin head-first and face up into the trunk, with Werner helping guide the head and torso onto the back seat. With the mannequin now in place and reasonably secured, Bill shut the trunk and side door and thanked Werner for his help.
The ride back to the office was much quieter than he expected it would have been just less than an hour earlier. Upon arrival he unloaded the mannequin and placed it on its base and pole in front of a mirror in the dressing room. “We’ll leave you in here for now, Carlie, until I figure out what we’re going to do with you. I’ll have to sell you off like I did with Lindsay and I know you’re excited about where you’re going to end up. But until now you can stay here and take in your new form,” he said, hoping he was not just talking to himself just before snapping a few pictures and then walking out of the room, leaving it dimly lit by a single bank of ceiling lights. “I hope you enjoy your first night as a mannequin.”
Up until now, individual moments had been clear but would quickly blur as time passed. The last few hours had been a total whirlwind but things were finally beginning to settle. “Oh my God, Bill, thanks for bringing me into the dressing room. Mirror, damn, I wish I could tell you. And don’t forget the pole.” Click. “Fuck that feels amazing! Yes, yes, fuck yes that’s me. Me – a mannequin. A hollow, inanimate piece of plastic. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Carlie thought as Bill placed her in front of the mirror. “Yes, no offense, it’s great to be here but I can’t wait to be packaged up and sent off somewhere. Shit, even if it’s just to a store across the street, I want to be put on display. I can’t wait until the models see me tomorrow morning! I hope Claire sees me – she’ll faint!”
“This is just incredible. To think not quite a year ago I was trying to catch a break in modeling, and now I can’t do anything except model! I should have done this the night he showed me Lindsay. I want her to see me. I love it. My eyes, just painted on. If somebody wanted to change their color, literally all they need is a paintbrush! Although, Bill, you still haven’t taken my jacket off or fixed my hair. I hope you do that before Annette sees me! Oooh, maybe one of your assistants can play around with me in the morning. Seriously. Fuck, tell her to feel me up; it feels amazing when you carry me.” Carlie’s mind would continue to race with similar thoughts throughout the night, unable to gaze away from the figure she had become and looking forward to what laid ahead.
The following morning broke and Bill’s assistants were the first to enter the office. Each one was puzzled by the figure standing in front of the mirror. “Doesn’t she look exactly like Carlie?” one of them asked the other. “He didn’t say he was getting into selling real mannequins.” Coincidentally, none of them had been around at the time of Lindsay’s transformation, so there was no precedent to be recalled.
Bill finally arrived just ahead of the models to be put on assignment for that day. He looked the figure over and then instructed one of the assistants to remove its jacket and clean it up after the models had left for their assignment. As the models arrived, they displayed the same curiosity towards the figure as the assistants had, until one of them recognized it looked an awful lot like Carlie. “Bill, that new figure looks an awful lot like Carlie,” noted Katrina, one of the models. “What’s the deal?” Bill concocted a cover story to distract her, something to the effect that Carlie had decided to move on in her life and had the figure made as a gift, before escorting the models out of the office and on to their assignment. At this time, one of the assistants attended to the figure as instructed.
As evening fell, the models returned and then departed almost as soon as they arrived. This time they paid little attention to the figure and soon Bill was alone with it. “You asked me to show you off to Annette, so I arranged for that,” Bill said. She’s going to stop by on her way home in a little less than an hour. I think you look just fine but if there’s anything else you feel you need to take care of before she arrives, now is the time,” he said with a smirk.
Annette soon arrived and asked Bill what he wanted her to see. He directed her into the dressing room. “Carlie! I didn’t expect to see you here. How are you doing?” she exclaimed as she saw the figure, but was met with surprise when she received no response. It didn’t take her long to figure out that the figure she thought was Carlie was instead just a realistic likeness. “Oh, how embarrassing,” she thought to herself. “Bill, I didn’t realize you dealt with plastic mannequins, and how, and why, did you have a mannequin made in Carlie’s image? Does she know about this?” she asked Bill.
“Well,” Bill started, “that’s what I wanted you to see. That figure you’re looking at is Carlie.”
“You’re full of shit, Bill,” Annette responded. “People can’t just be turned into plastic!”
“Actually, yes they can, and she chose to,” Bill said. “This isn’t the first time I’ve had this happen with one of my models, either.”
“Really?” Annette asked, intently looking over and touching the figure. “But why would she choose to do this to herself? Can she see and hear us?”
“I don’t know if she can; it’s impossible to tell and obviously she can’t respond,” Bill answered. “I like to think that she can, though. As for why, it was the same with her and a model I employed last year, a girl named Lindsay. They both reached a point where I couldn’t give them enough work – I swear I could have them displaying eighty hours a week and they wouldn’t have been satisfied. It’s as if they were addicted. Anyway, Lindsay is the one who actually found out about the procedure and followed through on it. When Carlie came to me about a month ago asking if I could give her more work, I took her over to see Lindsay where she is now displayed and told her that even though I couldn’t really help her out, there was another option.”
“Funny, that sounds a lot like when she came to me and I referred her to you,” Annette mused.
“I could tell she wasn’t expecting what I showed her and I think it shook her,” Bill said. “I actually felt kind of bad about it. Last night, though, she called asking if I could give her more information. I said sure, so I contacted the man who could perform the procedure and asked him if he was available to consult with Carlie, which he was. We went over to see him and he entertained her questions and then showed us his facilities. I could tell she was anxious yet deeply intrigued the entire time. She then indicated that she had seen enough and I thought we were just about ready to leave when suddenly she decided to just have it done then and there. And here she is.”
“Well, that escalated quickly for her then, from first-time model to mannequin in not even a year,” Annette said. “Too bad for us, I guess, she was a good model.”
“She does look amazing, though. If many more girls do this, I’m going to start having trouble competing against them for assignments,” Bill quipped.
“It’s uncanny,” Annette said. “I’m amazed at just how real she looks, yet at the same time it’s also obvious that she’s not real at all.”
“Yeah, now she can be the full time model I think deep down she always wanted to be,” Bill said.
“Ain’t that the truth. She’ll be young and twenty-four forever. Same can’t be said for the two of us,” Annette said with a hint of wistfulness in her voice. “So what happens to her now? You’re not going to hold on to her, right?”
“No,” Bill answered. “She wanted to end up in a store so I posted an ad with pictures last night. Wouldn’t you know it, I’ve already received five offers. I’m going to continue to accept offers for a few more days to see what else rolls in, but in the meantime I need to ready her for transport. Beautiful as she is, I could tell she was spooking my models a little today.”
“I have some free time; would you like me to help you with that right now?” Annette asked.
“Sure, if you don’t mind,” Bill said. “I picked up some boxes and packing materials that I think should do the trick.”
The two then proceeded to undress and disassemble the mannequin. Bill asked Annette to keep the clothing as it would no longer be needed and he had no use for it. Soon fully disassembled, they carefully packaged the parts in several boxes and moved them to an area where they would be out of the way but convenient for delivery.
A few nights later, Bill delivered the mannequin to Melvin’s. They were attracted to his ad and offered him a handsome sum because of the very favorable experience they’ve had with the other mannequin they purchased from him. Within a few days, the new mannequin was placed on the same platform alongside the older mannequin, both wearing similar nightgowns from the same designer.
Carlie had finally gotten her job as a visual merchandiser. She initially relished in the irony of how she managed to get a position at Melvin’s, being one of the very objects she had several times attempted to get a position working with. Her mindset gradually began to change over the weeks after the transformation, however. While her original experiences as a mannequin were tempered with her memories and recollections of life as a living woman along with anticipation of her future, those memories began to fade along with her memory in general within just a few months of her transformation. Her sensations and experiences are just as sharp in the moment they occur now as they always have been, but her memories of the past, even of just an hour ago, are just a hazy blur. Nor does she anticipate the future. She now lives almost exclusively in the moment as an object whose only purpose is to display and be viewed and touched; now the only things she longs for.
For their part, Carlie’s owners see her as the exquisitely crafted display piece she is and as such she has spent the vast majority of the past seven years on various display platforms throughout the store. Her assignments typically range in time anywhere from as little as a day for special sales to as long as a month. Her favorite time, if one without memory can have favorites, is when she is on display and a customer touches her or the wares she is displaying. Other times include being handled and prepped for display by one of the store’s visual merchandisers. Still another special time was about two years ago when she was temporarily removed from service for rejuvenation. During that time she spent a few days in the store room as one of the merchandisers cleaned, buffed and fully restored her. Her facial details were also touched-up and altered slightly. With regular maintenance of that nature, her owners hope to keep her on display for many years to come.
Carlie had finally achieved balance and stability in her life.