New Career Opportunity
Charlene was a bright and attractive young woman who had just received a promising career opportunity in another city. She had been doing some modeling on the side, so she told her manager at the agency, Ayla, that she would be leaving to pursue her opportunity. Ayla said she was sad to see her go, but thanked her for her work and wished her good luck.
A few days later, she received a call from the modeling agency asking if she would be available for one final session the following morning. They explained that they were in a rather urgent situation involving an impatient client and a model who had to cancel at the last minute. Knowing the little bit of extra cash would help, she committed to the session but stressed that it needed to be quick as she was leaving town the next morning and still had some loose ends to wrap up.
Arriving early in the morning, Charlene was briefed on the project and soon whisked away for makeup and preparation. She might have thought it was a bit odd that she had never even seen this particular manager before, but aside from that it was all standard procedure. What did soon strike her as unusual was what felt like an excessive amount of time spent on makeup for what was supposed to be a quick one and done shoot. The amount being applied seemed to be far more than what she was used to, and the makeup artist was going to almost ridiculous lengths to ensure everything was perfect. Eventually, though, it was done, and she was ushered into a featureless white room and told where and how to pose, just as she had done so many times before.
After checking to make sure everything was just right, the cameraman took a few shots. Then, just as quickly as it had begun, the shoot was over. The manager told Charlene she was done and could go back to the dressing room to change back into the clothes she had been wearing. She heard the instruction clearly, but suddenly came to the strange realization that she was unable to move. As the moments went by, she became more and more concerned about her situation as she was continuing to find herself unable to do anything besides stare forward blankly at attention. The manager and camera operator finally converged on her and seemed to be inspecting her. She was only further troubled when she heard the manager say something about her “turning out perfect.”
Finally, after a suspenseful couple of minutes that felt like an hour to Charlene, the manager explained exactly what had just happened and what she could expect to happen over the next several hours.
“The makeup that had been applied to your face was a special formula containing certain chemicals which instantly began to permeate your body. The specific wavelength of light emitted by the first flash reacted with one of the chemicals, with the result being an instant inhibition of even the slightest motor function. Likewise, the second flash activated a different chemical, beginning a chain reaction which began turning your skin into plastic. Right now, this plastic layer is still very thin and has only just begun to give your skin an artificial sheen, but in just a few hours' time it will result in your complete conversion into an ordinary hollow store mannequin.”
He then apologized for the length of time it took in preparation, but due to the fact that the makeup was to become baked into her skin, it had to be done just right. He said he wanted to move her into the dressing room to see all these changes for herself, but couldn’t because the plastic layer was still very thin and easily deformed, and besides, it’d be much easier to do later when she was much lighter. Finally, he told her he had to leave for another appointment but assured her he would be back in a little while and continue their conversation.
As she was hearing this, Charlene’s concern changed to shock and fear. Yet she was also convinced it was all just some kind of elaborate joke or she was just mishearing things - after all, there was no way it was possible to turn a flesh and blood living person into a lifeless dummy. But at the same time, she knew something was very wrong. Maybe it was just her mind playing tricks on her, but her senses did feel a bit numbed and her skin did feel a little weird. “No, it’s just my mind playing tricks on me,” she would try to reassure herself as she could do nothing but stand in place, with nothing to look at besides a camera rig, until somebody returned to release her. The whole ordeal had also made her completely forget that she didn’t have the time to spend just standing there.
Ayla, accompanied by one of the receptionists, came in to check on their new mannequin late in the afternoon. “She’s probably been ready for a couple of hours now,” she said, satisfied by the minimal effort required to lift the figure as she carried it down the hallway and into an adjacent office and setting it down a few feet back from a full-height mirror. As the receptionist began to give the mannequin a thorough inspection, Ayla began to explain to it what would happen next.
“Hello again, Charlene. I trust the guy you dealt with earlier gave you some understanding of what we did to you today. Anyway, as you’ve probably already known, the whole reaction is finished and you’ve been turned into a display mannequin. A very realistic looking and sexy one I might add, as you can no doubt see for yourself. You should be proud of yourself; I think Janice here is actually a bit jealous of you. You should be, and continue to be, fully aware of your situation and surroundings throughout this new chapter in your life. You’re probably a little confused, but from now on your existence will be a very simple and effortless one for you. All you need to do now is stand and be pretty just like you’re already doing. I hope you’re not angry with us for doing this to you, you shouldn’t be, but if you are I’m sure you’ll get over it soon enough. I don’t think I need to tell you there’s no going back. Anyway, Janice is going to finish inspecting you and then make touch-ups where needed. Then we’re going to affix you to a base, make sure you’re all stable and ready, and then we’re gonna take you apart and package you up. You’re going to an established boutique store in a high end neighborhood, and I’m sure they’re going to be very happy with you. Anyway, we better get moving if we’re going to make the overnight cutoff and get you on your way.”
Ayla and Janice worked diligently over the next few hours ensuring their product was up to the clients’ standards. Once they were satisfied, they stepped back to admire their handiwork before tearing it down for packaging. “I know you wanted this one,” Ayla said to Janice, “but you do understand that this one is better suited for this role. And I don’t know if I’m quite ready to lose you yet!”
“I understand, and besides, I didn’t really want to be a lingerie mannequin anyway,” Janice replied. “I just figured once I was one, I probably wouldn’t care what I was used for. Anyway, it really is quite fortunate that she accepted this session, so we didn’t have to lose a model in making this mannequin.”
Ayla smiled and assured Janice that her time would come. Meanwhile, they began to tear down and securely package the mannequin. The mannequin that just hours ago stepped in front of a camera as Charlene was left to ponder its own situation, in equal measures disbelief, confusion and anger. True to her plan, she did indeed leave town for a new job opportunity the following day. Just not in any way that she ever would have envisioned.