It was a little after midnight on Halloween and there was a solitute about town that didn't seem congruous with the hustle and chaos just a few hours earlier. The city was peaceful with a light trace of snow that sugar coated the streets and buildings. The predominant opinion was that this would be a hard winter and a snow this early would reinforce that view. At sundown, the city had been alive with kids out trick-or-treating and adults out for wild and entertaining nights. The snow and its promise of slick roads had sent them all home early. Silence was all that remained.
Downtown looked surreal in its peace. A lone male figure strolled down Broadway, intermittently stopping to look at the store windows. In the front window of Hershel’s, the local department store, two female mannequins stood wearing the latest fall fashion. The track lighting above their heads cast a warm light giving them a cozy look despite the cold just outside the window. The next window featured a male mannequin wearing brown corduroy slacks, a red chino shirt and a leather jacket. He looked real enough that you wouldn't have been initially surprised if he began to move and stepped out of the display.
Walking past the department store and a book store was a small tux shop. In its window was a display featuring a headless male form wearing a black tux. Underneath the tux was a vest and necktie featuring the maroon and silver logo of the local university. Behind the display was a large pennant for the university and a poster highlighting the football team.
Across the street was Marian's Closet, a lingerie store owned by Marian Waxler, a fifty year old local woman who recently retired from the chemistry department of the university. Marian's window was simple yet elegant. It was about four foot off the sidewalk level and had soft track lights on a backdrop drapped with gold satin. On the right of the window was a torso form wearing a lacy black bra and panty set. To the front and left of the torso form was a bra form wearing a black bra designed to enhance the wearer's cleavage. In this case the cleavage didn't need enhancing. The bra form was sitting on top of a small black cube with its shoulders about a foot lower than the torso form's.
The heat inside the shop combined with the cold outside to add a slight sheen of fog to the store window. But even through the fog, you could see the erotic realism on the two forms. The torso form, with no head, arms or lower legs, stood with its legs apart, its shoulders and its back arched as if to accent its beautiful breasts. The bra form mimicked this sexy pose. Their necks leaned back and an observer could imagine that these beautiful women were frozen in climax and then trimmed down to the perfect display in the tight window space.
To the far left was another black cube. On top of it was a pantyhose form, sitting with its legs crossed in a very confident and feminine manner. It was wearing shear black thigh high nylons, with a beautiful pair of french cut panties. In the center of the window stood a black vase filled with black roses wrapped in a gold satin ribbon. The man lingered at Marion's window. Maybe it was because the window and its female forms were incredibly sexy. Maybe there was a haunting familiarity about the torso form that he just couldn't shake. Maybe he was plagued by a tragedy that occurred two years ago on this very night, that had to this date been unexplained. Six coeds disappeared that night and it was still a mystery. Maybe thinking about it all made his as lonely and depressed as a person could get. Maybe he would find some answers on a cold and snowy night on Broadway.
The name of the man walking down Broadway was Tim Steffen. Tim is 28 years old and incredibly lonely. He works in the accounting department for a local trucking firm and really doesn't associate with his coworkers, or anyone else for that matter. In his spare time he hikes alone in the mountains and frequently, walks Broadway at midnight. There’s something hauntingly familiar about the Broadway store windows that Tim just can’t explain and he’s compelled to return often. He comes at midnight, no one else is there and peace resides.
Although Tim is attractive, he hasn't dated in two years. Tim is a man looking for answers to the void in his soul. A void that started on this very night two years ago when the circumstances sucked his life away and left nothing behind.
It was 3:16 in the afternoon two years ago on Halloween afternoon when Jolene walked out the door and disappeared from Tim's life. They had met during their Freshman year at the university. Tim was into gymnastics and, along with his best friend Matt, had tried out for the three male spots on the football team's cheerleading squad. They both made it. A year later Jolene joined the squad and she immediately hit it off with Tim. In October of that year, Jolene's roomate left and Tim moved in. They lived together for two wonderful years. Two wonderful years that ended when, at 3:16 on October 31, Jolene left to work at the haunted house.
The cheerleading squad was sponsoring a haunted house to raise funds so that the squad could accompany the football team to a bowl game at the end of the season. The haunted house was Tim's idea and it had been very successful. They started three weeks prior to Halloween and had already raised over $5,000 after expenses. Halloween was the last performance and that's when trajedy struck. Jolene, Matt and four other squad members--Heather, Jennifer, Tami and Art--worked the last night and then disappeared. That was two years ago and no one has found them since. They just vanished without a trace.
Tim would've been with them. He was planning on being there, but he woke up with the flu on that last day. As much as he wanted to be there for the final night, he couldn't. Jolene kissed him on the forehead and walked out the door at 3:16. Tim remembers the moment like it just happened. Once Jolene left the apartment Tim laid in the quiet room and stared at the clock. He counted the flashing red dot until the clock turned 3:17 after just 13 flashes. He counted flashes and minutes up until four.
Tim has never left that day. He loved Jolene. He's reminded of Jolene every time he smells the gentle fragrance of her perfume on another woman. The smell brings back memories of morning kisses and the muscular arch of Jolene's back when they shared their passion. They would be graduating in the Spring and Tim had hoped they would be wed soon the next summer and as a reminder of his love had given her a gold pendant on her birthday, just two days before she disappeared.
But the dream was shattered with Jolene's disappearance and Tim had just gone through the motions ever since. Life had lost its meaning. It was compounded by the loss of the other friends. Art had always talked of moving to a commune in Costa Rica after graduation. Had they all gone there and left Tim? He really didn't have any other friends. He was still miserable after two years.
It was a mystery, beyond all mysteries. The police searched, the newspapers surmised, the town gossiped, crime shows came to town--but no one really had any idea. The fact that it happened on Halloween just added to the mystery.
The haunted house was an unusual event in comparison to other traditional haunted houses. There were no monsters or vampires or spiders or bats. The local paper had called it "a psychological thriller" capitalizing on one's "inner fears." No children were allowed. It was all Tim's idea.
Tim's college job was a sales clerk in a struggling Army surplus store at the end of Broadway down by the train station. From his perch behind the cash register, he could look across the street to the showroom of Waxler Mannequins. The business repaired and manufactured mannequins that were sold all over the country. The company was owned by Price Waxler, an eccentric gentleman, who was often criticized for displaying his products in his front window, naked for all the world to see. People had written letters to the newspaper and had even tried to get city council to make Price put clothes on the ones in the window, but he refused. He felt that there was artistic beauty in the naked human body.
Price’s wife, Marion Waxler, was a prominent chemistry professor at the University. She was renowned for her research on chemical agents that slowed metabolism. At the time of the haunted house, she was still working, later she retired and opened Marion’s Closet.
Tim would often hear his customers talk about how Price's store either offended them or spooked them. Most were spooked. Young kids told each other to stay away from the store or you'd end up like them--pointing to the naked forms in the window. It didn't help that Price was just a little strange and that his shop was a total mess with a hodgepodge of body parts all over the place. Price had an intellectual appearance with a thin gray hair with a thick gray beard. He said very little.
It was just after school had started on the fateful year that Tim had an idea while listening to two of his customers ponder Price's strangeness. Since the shop was the talk of the town and people seemed to be spooked by it, why not give people a chance to realize their fears! They could hold an open house in the mannequin shop!
He pitched his idea to the rest of the squad and then to Price Waxler himself. The squad was a little reluctant, they'd seen the messy shop and agreed that it was more than a little scary. But the reluctance turned to exitement when they saw Tim's financial projections and thought of a bowl game in Hawaii or Southern California.
Price was the easy sell. He didn't smile, he just said, "that'd be fine, I bet my sister would help." Marion, the chemistry professor was a little strange in her own right. She had an extremely light complexion with dark black hair and red lipstick. She'd be a perfect side-kick to Price for a haunted house.
The haunted house was billed as "The Mannequin Factory" with a teaser that read "Beware of a Stiff Experience." It was a success from the first night. Attendees had to pre-purchase tickets and all tickets had been sold by the middle of the first week. There were three shows a night and the last show ended at midnight on Halloween.
You would come at a specific time for a specific showing. At the precise time on your ticket a security guard would let you through the front door to a room full of naked bodies. In the center of the room was a cluster of mannequins--two females and a male--that were dressed in jeans with white T-shirts and wore sunglasses. The T-shirts read "I almost survived the Mannequin Factory." Artwork on the T-shirt was two nude mannequins—a male and a female. A sign at the base of the dressed mannequin said that T-shirts would be on sale at the end of the tour for $15 each—another of Tim's great ideas.
Only twenty-five people were in each group and they were allowed to either have a seat or mingle around the room. Scary music and smoke filled the room. After about ten minutes the crowd relaxed into casual conversation.
"Welcome to the mannequin factory! I came on the tour just yesterday and look at what happened to me!" The crowd jumped, a woman screamed! The male mannequin spoke! The one with the shirt and jeans. He was real after all!
The mannequin was Art and he led the people into the next room. In the center of the room was a table and on the table was the upper half of a female mannequin. She had long brown hair and, with the exception of sunglasses, was naked. Art acted embarrassed and moved her hair to cover her breasts. He then told the group about how he had been chosen to become a mannequin himself after taking the tour and warned them that Price would be looking for volunteers. After a few minutes Price himself came into the room and introduced himself to the group. He was wearing a white lab jacket. He ordered Art to go back on display and asked the group to follow him into the "first chamber."
The first chamber was dark with a machine in the middle of the room that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. The lights were low and focused on a six foot long flat cart with wheels on it. Price's sister, Marion (also wearing a lab jacket) was fiddling around with the dials on the machine. Price introduced Marion as his assistant.
He then became serious and squinted his eyes to scan the group. "I'm am looking among you for two candidates for a client, Hershel's Department Store, just down the street. They just phoned and want a male and a female. Do I have any volunteers?" The crowd was silent. Price then walked into the crowd and eyed each attendee up close, paying attention to their face, height and shape."
"You and you, come with me." Price then escorted a young couple up to the cart. "Please stand on the cart." The couple looked impish—embarrassed and amused. The crowd was silent. He asked them each a few questions about their height and clothes size. "Perrrfect!" he proclaimed with a fiendish smile on his face. Almost as an after thought he asked them their names. Matt and Heather was their reply.
"Give them the jolt, Marion." Marion quickly pulled out a wand on a cord and touched each one on the butt. With each touch, the machine gave off a spark and the corresponding person jolted and then froze in place. The crowd was silent, trying to figure out if what they saw was somehow real or if the two were actors planted in the crowd.
Price walked around the frozen duo as if to examine the quality of his subjects. He smiled with a pleased look. He then turned and walked to the crowd. He picked out two young girls that looked like they were still in high school. He motioned them to come forward. Would they be next? "Please undress our new mannequins," was Prices command.
They were reluctant at first, and then came Price’s second command. "Please undress our new mannequins, or . . ." It was a poignant pause. "or I’ll add you two to my showroom tonight!" With this command Price gave Marion a stern look and she readied her hand on the shock wand. The girl’s looked at each other, not sure whether to giggle or be scared. But they did as they were told. The first girl started unbuttoning Heather’s blouse. The second began undoing Matt’s shirt. Marion helped them.
While they were undressing Matt and Heather, Price walked forward to the crowd and told them about the process of making a mannequin from a human. He told them that the two were still very much alive and would remain that way even when they were on display at Hershel’s. The wand had delivered a shock and a shot. The shot was that of an experimental chemical that Marion had developed in her lab at the University.
Price went on to say that once they had been stripped to their underwear, they would be posed and then wheeled into the kiln to be baked to perfection. They would then be fixed so that they could be taken apart in order to be dressed more easily. Price mentioned that every mannequin that Waxler’s had ever done started out just like Matt and Heather. "I give them a sort of immortality, permanent beauty. I think my subjects love me for it. Although they’ve never been able to tell me so."
Price had a fiendish, Halloween night seriousness to his voice that made the crowd wonder how serious he might be. Throughout the talk they had one eye on Price and the other watching the two girls undress Matt and Heather. By the end of Price’s talk Matt stood tall wearing a pair of Navy blue briefs with a white waistband. Heather revealed herself in a matching red bra and panty set. Both were obviously in good shape with well toned muscles.
With the initial job done Price released the two teenage girls back to the crowd and Marion took a few minutes to pose the two into mannequin poses. The two were stiff and remained in whatever position Marion put them. She even worked on their facial expression.
When she was finished she stood back to admire her work. "What do you think? Will they make good mannequins?" The crowd was silent and awestruck at how much they actually DID look like mannequins. Marion then wheeled Matt and Heather off into the next room.
"Jim, our guy in the back will take it from here, you’ll see the product of their work later on," Price interjected. "For now let’s go into the next ro--." Price was interupted by the sound of the phone, which Marion came back and answered.
By this time most of the crowd figured that Matt and Heather were part of the cast (and they were right). But they weren’t sure about the two young girls that undressed them. But they were sure that this was a unique and cool Halloween experience. Price and Marion were very convincing in their roles. And Matt and Heather did look like mannequins.
After Marion hung up the phone, she walked over to Price and whispered in his ear. In soft tones they talked back and forth while looking into the crowd. Then Price walked forward and spoke to the group, "that phone call was one of our clients with an immediate need for two females. This is for a lingerie shop so a good body is very important. Do I have any volunteers?"
The crowd remained quiet. There were a number of women in the crowd that had the physical attributes to volunteer, but the fact that they had seen Heather stripped down to her underwear by a seemingly total stranger didn’t make it appealing.
Marion picked up the zapping wand that she had earlier used on Matt and Heather and followed Price into the crowd. Most people, especially the women back up against the outer wall and tried to avoid eye contact with Price. But Price’s eyes weren’t on their faces, he was carefully studying their bodies as if he was trying to imagine the form that lay beneath the occasional loose fitting clothes.
He stopped at two girls and asked them their names. Jolene and Tami was their response. Jolene was tall with straight blonde hair. Tami was a statuesque redhead. Price subtly pointed to Marion and gave a hint of a positive nod. In a flash Marion zapped each of the girls. Jolene let out a scream and froze, her mouth agape with a look of surprise. Tami was caught trying to turn away with a fearful look painted on her face.
Marion went into the back room and came back with the cart that had previously held Matt and Heather. Price carefully lifted each girl onto the cart and then rolled them back to the middle of the room.
Price then walked to his right to the far reaches of the crowd. There were two couples stand were obviously together. He asked the women to come with him to undress the new girls. One of their husbands jokingly offered to help, but was met with a glare from his wife. Reluctantly the two women went.
They started together on Jolene and quickly stripped her down to a white bra and pink cotton French cut panties. Jolene was blessed with perfect breasts—not too large or too small. Her bra provided ample coverage and support. All that remained was the small gold pendant that Tim had given her a few days before. Marion told them to leave it on her.
At about this time, the crowd jumped when a high pitched female voiced scream came from behind the wall in the workroom. "Halloween pranks," Price smiled and said.
Tami was wearing a blouse and skirt with black pantyhose. Marion told them to leave the pantyhose on. Tami was left wearing a shear black bra—so shear that the crowd could faintly see her nipples and areola. Some in the crowd wondered if Tami’s bra just wasn’t a little too sheer. The crowd could also see her black lace panties through her shear-to-waist pantyhose.
The two other women were told they could go back with their husbands and Price joined Marion to pose the new acquisitions. They first went to Jolene on the right side of the cart. They positioned her with her legs apart, standing in an aggressive position. They arched her back and moved her arms to point straight away from her body like a letter "T". With her arms outstretched they moved her forearms and hands to point straight up at a right angle to her upper arms. She looked like a goal post. They tilted her head back so that she was looking straight ahead above the crowd’s head. Many in the crowd had a perplexed look on their faces regarding this unusual position.
Price then went over to the side of the room and brought back a black display cube about two and a half feet square. He sat the cube on the cart and positioned Tami to sit on the cube. Like the others she stayed wherever he positioned her. Marion moved Tami’s legs so that they were crossed while Price came from behind and positioned her back to be very straight and arched like Jolene. They then moved her arms and head in the exact same position as Jolene. The two looked very unusual and yet very sexy in these positions.
Price then spoke to the group, "So how do you like these poses? Have you seen any mannequins posed like this in the department store?" The group shook their heads no. While Price was talking the group watched Marion take a black string and wrap it around Tami’s waist, just above her navel. Once removed, the string left a distinctive black line where it had been. She did the same around Tami’s arms about an inch away from her armpit. Again it left a fine black line. She then went up to Tami’s neck and marked the very top of her neck, just below her chin.
Price continued, "You’re probably wondering what Marion is doing now." By this time Marion had proceed to go over to Jolene and mark her arms and neck in the exact same manner as Tami. She didn’t mark Jolene’s waist, though. Instead she marked Jolene’s legs, just above her knees. "You’ll remember that I was looking for mannequins in a lingerie shop and therefore a good body was very important. In reality, a good body is everything. You see, the lingerie shop has a relatavely small display window and their order was for three items—a torso form, a matching bra form and a pantyhose form. Unfortunately we will have to remove some of these girl’s body parts in order to fullfill this order. The lines tell them where to cut."
Marion wheeled the girls into the workroom. The crowd was extremely silent this time. Price was a great actor, he seemed so serious that it was hard not to believe that these two girls were in extreme danger. Many of the crowd had been talking with Jolene and Tami and some had a tough time believing that they could be actresses playing a part. When Marion came back from the workroom, a faint "help me" could be heard. The Halloween adventure seemed a little too gruesome. "Follow me to the next chamber."
The crowd, less the four that were gone, went back into the room with the upper half of a female mannequin with long dark hair and sunglasses was still sitting on the table. As soon as they were settled, a worker rolled in a cart that held the mannequin forms of Matt and Heather. Matt was still wearing his Navy blue briefs and Heather was wearing her red bra and panties. They were each standing on a glass base with a metal rod that looked as if it went right into their butts. They looked just like they had before only their bodies had a clean painted look.
The worker that rolled the new mannequins into the room, was a stereotype of a horror movie sidekick. He was shorter and less handsome than the distinguished Price. He wasn’t clean shaven at all. He looked as if he’d either been drafted right off the street or was just the artistic sort. There was a strange wild look in his eyes. He wore a blue jumpsuit much like an auto mechanic would wear, except the grease was replaced with flesh colored paint. The name "Jim" was stitched on the jumpsuit.
The crowd could see that Matt and Heather had seams where their arms and hands could be removed. There was no doubt that the seems were real when Price stepped over and removed Matt’s right arm. With the arm removed the crowd could easily see the metal hardware that held it to the body. The cynics in the crowd figured that these must be two mannequins that were made to look just like Matt and Heather. But they were so real. And their positions and facial expressions were exactly as Marion had placed them. It was eerie.
Then another faint "help me." This time is came from the vicinity of the female mannequin on the table. "This is a little strange," mumbled one of the group. "This is pretty cool," mumbled another, "interactive--just like being in a horror flick." "Yah, you just wonder who’s next," said one of the women who undressed Jolene and Tami.
"Follow me into the second chamber," announced Price.
The group followed. It seemed they had no choice.
The next chamber was larger with a curtain dividing the room in half. Most of the group lined up against the back wall while a lucky few women were able to sit down in front. Price began by explaining the process of the kiln and how, once zapped by the wand, a person’s body would be transferred into a mannequin substance in less than ten minutes depending on body mass. Once the kiln process was complete, a body could be cut with no blood. He explained that Jolene and Tami had gone through the kiln process while the group was giving Matt and Heather the critical look. Marion and Jim had been working on them since.
"Let’s see how they’re doing." Price pulled back the curtain to reveal half of the room. Marion and Jim were working with their backs to the group. On the far right end of the table was a pantyhose form, seated with its legs crossed in the exact way that Tami’s were and wearing the same black pantyhose. Through the pantyhose you could see the same black lace panties. The top half of the body was between Marion and Jim. One of its arms and its head had already been removed. The remaining arm, the right arm, was positioned out and up just like Tami’s. It was wearing the shear black bra and you could still see a hint of her nipples through the bra.
"How are things coming, Marion?" At that point Jim stepped to the back side of the table and Marion turned around and stepped to the center. When she moved, quite a sight was revealed on the far left of table. There on a tray, on the table was Tami’s head. Tami still had the same fearful look on her face as when she was zapped. You couldn’t see underneath the table and most of the cynics figured that Tami’s body was cramped down under the table. But, nevertheless, the scene was very realistic and troubling.
Jim then pulled out a hack saw and, in a matter of seconds, sawed the remaining arm off the body. He made sure to keep right on the black line that Marion had earlier drawn.
Many in the crowd began to wonder what was behind the rest of the curtain. They mentally tried to remember exactly where Jolene’s black lines were.
They didn’t have much time to wonder, as Price then pulled away the curtain to reveal the rest of the room. In the center of this area was a large table tilted up at a forty-five degree angle. On the table was Jolene. She was still wearing the white bra and pink cotton panties. Her mouth was still slightly agape in mid-scream. Her legs had already been removed. Her arms were out and up in the goal post position.
Price walked over to Jim and spoke with a sadistic voice, "may I have the honors this time." Without question Jim gave him the saw and Price carefully removed Jolene’s right and then her left arm. He then spoke to the audience, "I’ll do her head now, but this is potentially upsetting to our guests, so I’ll ask Marion to take you back to the other room for refreshments while I finish the job."
On the way out the cynics tried to explain the happenings to the others. The prevailing opinion was that it really was Jolene. She had been part of the act all the time. They had hidden her real arms and legs under the table and had used flesh colored clay to attach mannequin arms to her body. The low light made it easier to conceal the illusion. Either way, most agreed that they had done a terrific job in creating an environment that scared the hell out of everybody there.
Back in the room with the upper half of the brunette manneqiun, the table she was on was decked out with all sorts of Halloween cookies and candy. The mannequin served as an excellent centerpiece for the table. To the back of the room, Matt and Heather stood, unmoved, just as they were before the group went into the second chamber. To the right of Matt and Heather was a punch bowl filled with a goulish green punch.
The talk of the room was on how they did it. Some individuals talked about how they had all been afraid of mannequins and this only made it worse. Some wondered if the show was over, or if there was still someone among them that would be zapped and dismembered. In the midst of the conversation, Price rolled in a cart. The cart had two white cubes—one with a pantyhose form and the other with a bra form. In the middle of the two cubes was a torso form. Price invited the audience to come and inspect his work.
All the forms were still wearing their underwear. Jolene’s form was still wearing the gold pendant. Marion walked over to Jolene and Tami’s forms with two white T-shirts in her hands. She removed the two girl’s bras and slipped the T-shirts over their necks. "I almost survived the mannequin factory." This was fitting verbiage for Jolene and Tami. Jim and Marion sold 21 T-shirts in 10 minutes.
After a bit, Price made his announcement, "this ends our performance this evening, we thank you for coming. Your attendence has helped the University cheerleading squad to raise over $5,000 for a trip to a bowl game. See you again next year. Marion will lead you out."
The group left the room and entered into the main showroom. They noticed Art back in place with the two female mannequins when the evening’s last surprise came. "Help me, I’ve been made into a mannequin, don’t leave me." The group looked back into the room where they had just been. The female mannequin in the middle of the table was speaking and beckoning the group with her arms. Price quickly shut the door, but you could still hear her cries. The group then walked out the front door past the next group waiting to come in. As they left they passed a sign that read, "Keep the suspense alive! Don’t tell anyone the specifics of our program."
"Don’t volunteer, whatever you do," was the advice the outgoing gave to the incoming.
Tim and his group had spent every night for three weeks working as the cast for "The Mannequin Factory." Their grades would suffer this quarter. Tim had written the original script and it was Tami that added the parts where they removed body parts. Tami felt that the macabre element was needed to really make a Halloween impact. And it worked! The paper gave the program a positive review and most folks were good about not giving away the program to their friends. One headline read, "You Never Go to a Department Store Again." The suspense was always thick.
The parts that Jolene and Tami played involved the most make-up and work. On most nights one or the other of them would trade off with Tim. He blended into the crowd as either Jolene or Tami’s boyfriend and then ended up being picked to be turned into a male form—no arms, legs, or head.
And then there was Jennifer. She had the job of being the upper portion of the mannequin in the middle of the table. Tim had rigged the table with a hole in the middle, just the size of Tami’s waist. During the first two times the crowd would pass by, Jennifer placed a real mannequin on the table. She would take the mannequin’s place on the third pass through. As with Art out in front, the sunglasses kept people from seeing her eyes blink.
After each evenings shows were done, the entire group—Tim, Art, Matt, Jennifer, Jolene, Tami and Heather –would head down to Cattleman’s Pub. It was just across the river and right on the path back to the dorms at the university. They had tried to get Price, Marion and even Jim to come along, but they just weren’t interested.
At Cattleman’s they would laugh over that night’s crowd reaction. During the second week, a woman fainted when Price announced he would be removing the girl’s heads. There were also a number of screams and jumps when either Art or Jennifer came life.
On two occasions someone volunteered to be made into a mannequin. The first was a young guy who looked like a geek. The next was a thirtysomething woman who looked to be something of an exhibitionist. Price was prepared to nicely tell them that they were either too tall or too short to meet mannequin measurements.
On the final night, Tim was scheduled to be with Jolene for the first and last acts. But instead he came down with the flu. It wasn’t a big problem, Tami would take his place and the mannequin form portion of the show would just feature two girls for that night.
But then at some point that evening, after the last show was over and before Cattleman’s, they all disappeared. And here it was, two years later and there was no sign of them anywhere. That year was the one and only time the "Mannequin Factory" had been performed. The current cheerleading squad had asked Tim to help them put it on this year, but he just didn’t have the enthusiasm any more. The seven of them had been inseparable and now just Tim was left.
The snow was about an inch thick as Tim stopped staring at the mannequins in the window of Marion’s Closet. He trudged down toward the river and and had a drink at Cattleman’s. Even Cattleman’s was disappointing. Connie, a long-time waitress there was gone for some reason. In two years of mourning, she had been the only person Tim had felt comfortable talking to. Connie was a mystery to Tim. She was strikingly beautiful with her long blonde hair. A few times he had asked her why she worked at Cattleman’s. "I like it here" was all the response Tim would ever get. He figured that she, like him, was running from something.
For some reason, he decided to go back down Broadway, one more time before heading home. Standing in front of Marion’s closet he looked back across the street to Hershel’s. The two female mannequins and the male mannequin appeared to be the ones they had used to fill in for Matt, Healther and Jennefer. Their looks made him continually wonder what happened to the group. He then looked back at the forms in Marion’s window. The torso form was wearing the gold birthday pendant that he had given to Jolene! He knew it wasn’t there before his walk down to Cattleman’s.
His heart was beating fast as he proceeded back toward the train station and Waxler’s Mannequins. The front of Waxler’s was dark. Tim could see the silhouettes of the mannequin figures in the dark showroom. He did notice a light peering beneath the door into the work area. The light intrigued Tim and he walked behind the store to see if he could get a look through a window.
In the back of Waxler’s, Tim did see a window. It was about six feet up and underneath it was a stack of pallets in the perfect position for him to stand on. It was almost as if they were placed there on purpose, so a person could get a good peek inside.
Once on top of the pallets, Tim managed to erase a little frost from the window to peek inside. On the floor of the second chamber stood a beautiful mannequin. She had long blonde hair and posed as if she was leaning forward, bracing her elbows on the edge of the table. Tim was looking at her left side and he could see that her legs were crossed in an elegant manner. She look sophisticated and sexy. Her upper torso was leaning forward at a forty-five degree angle, an angle that made her stiff breasts look almost real. Then Tim took a careful look at her face—it was Connie! Omygod it was Connie. That’s why Connie wasn’t at Cattleman’s tonight. Connie who, two years ago had said how much she enjoyed the show and had volunteered to be in it the next year. Connie who had sat next to him in Speech 101 his Freshman year. Connie who had a body like a model.
Tim watched as Marion began applying paint on Connie’s body with a spray gun. He could see a few identifying freckles go away as the paint was applied. Then Tim started putting two and two together—that the Halloween Mannequin Factory wasn’t as much of a play as reality.
It was the perfect explanation of what happened to Jolene, Art, Matt, Jennifer, Tami and Heather. They were all still in town, standing out front for everyone to see. Everyone that could identify them at least. The mannequins in Hershel’s weren’t just the stand-ins for Matt, Jennifer and Heather. They WERE Matt, Jennifer and Heather.
But what about the others. Well, they must have either been sent away or the identifiable body parts had been removed. Omygod, again. Tim about fell over when he thought of the familiarity he had with the female torso in Marion’s Closet. And tonight it was wearing that pendant. Then the aweful, unbelievable truth occurred to Tim—that torso must be Jolene. But why the necklace—tonight? Tim concluded correctly that the necklace must be a lure to get him here this evening. He turned to run to the police.
"We’ve been waiting for you Tim." It was Price and Jim. Price had a gun pointed at Tim’s head. "I’d resist the notion to run if I were you. I’d shoot you on the spot. The papers would write you up as a perverted peeping-Tom in a mannequin shop. Instead I’d like you to come with me."
Tim did as he was told. He really didn’t have a choice. Once inside, he was greeted by Marion. "We’ve been waiting for you. The others would like you to join them."
"What the hel . . " These were Tim’s last words was Price prodded him with a zapping wand that packed a real punch. Tim froze stiff right on the spot.
Marion walked over and began to take off all his clothes. This was a little more than the Halloween show, she even took off his underwear. Marion and Jim then posed Tim into a stiff positoin, much as if he were standing at attention. They moved his arms away from his body at a forty-five degree angle. Marion and Jim then took the black marking string and went over Tim’s body. There was a mirror in front of him and terror struck as he saw where they put the marks. If this was like the show, a cut would be made through his body at everyone of the points. Just like his part in the show, marks were put around Tim’s legs just above the knee. Marks were put around each arm, just below the shoulder. And a mark was put around his neck.
"Is he ready for the kiln?" Mrs. Waxler.
"No not yet, Jim," replied Marion. "I’ve got one more thing to do." She then walked over to the sink and lathered up her hands with soap. She walked over to Tim and looked him directly in the eyes. "Mannequins don’t have sex organs, Tim. We’ll encase your manhood in a clay mound.."
As she talked, she rubbed her wet hands together around Tim’s unit. Even in its stiff condition, it still managed to stand up to Marion’s manipulation. Tim was trying not to respond, after all Marion was going to turn him into a mannequin form. This was his last night on earth.
Marion continued to talk, "Do you like what we’ve done to Connie? She was so fascinated with your mannequin show that she came by volunteering to participate this year. I told her we weren’t having a program but that we did have a position. She’ll be in the south window at Hershel’s by tomorrow afternoon."
Although he was trying not to respond, Tim had to admit that Marion’s work felt really good. If he was going to be a mannequin forever, he might as well go out in ecstasy.
"We’ve got a spot for you too. The tux shop has been sold to a local group who want to turn it into a high end men’s store. You’ll join Art at the front window. I could’ve sent you out of town, but I thought you’d like to be near Jolene. You now know that the torso in my lingerie shop is Jolene. Even with all we’ve done to her, she’s not dead. Although she’s not really alive either. It’s a different state of consciousness. Maybe its even better, I don’t know. But you’ll find out. Soon."
Tim let go in wonderful pulses of an intense marvelous orgasm. Then he blacked out.
The next afternoon Tim was delivered to the men’s store. A well dressed college age kid dressed him in a pair of wool slacks and a maroon turtle neck sweater. Since Tim had no arms, the kid tucked his sleeves into his pants. He then draped a leather jacket over his shoulders. Art wore a shirt and tie with a cardigan sweater. On display around them were shoes and shirts.
The Halloween night snow had turned into a November snow event. A couple of feet fell over the next few days. Tim felt warm in his leather jacket and watched people struggle outside.
Somehow, even though he didn’t have a head, his consciousness could see his reflection in the window. He looked good. Across the busy street he could see Jolene’s form, always wearing the pendant. Even though they couldn’t communicate, Tim knew that she could see him.
As time went on, Tim’s existence was slow and boring. But he was delighted
to be with the others but wished they could be real again. The highlight
of every month would be the time when Marion would take Jolene out of the
window and change her clothes. He eagerly awaited to see what she would
be wearing and wondered what it would be like to forever be on display
wearing underwear. He longed to embrace her, to touch her, to be passionate
with her. He wondered if Price and Marion were still in the mannequin business
and hoped they weren’t.