Based on the recent film version of “House of Wax”
“Every cloud had a silver lining,” Paige kept repeating to herself. Considering how bad their road trip had become since their friends jeep got car trouble, she just had to keep repeating that. She would never have actually considered going considering the destination, just another college bowl game but it was her boyfriend Blake’s insistence that won her over. Besides, she had a nasty suspicion to discuss with him; the ever present bane of the young and recklessly passionate. Better to get him into a good mood before springing the bad news on him, she thought. There could be no better way than to do a dance for him and the cozy tent did provide enough room for both intimacy and for her to put on a show. While Nick, Carly and the rest of the gang were in that creepy town getting the car taken care of, they at least would have some fun. They did not realize, however, that they were being watched.
Vincent came through the darkness through terrain years of tracking and stalking had made familiar. For him, This was no search for blood or the thrill of the hunt, but his mad obsession with beauty, a beauty denied him but he would preserve in others at whatever cost. He was glad for the cover of night to hide his face and it made sure that Bo was back home trying to corral the other subjects who had stumbled into their domain. Despite being his brother and his twin, Vincent loathed Bo’s approach to obtaining subjects for the artwork he made. It was so much trouble to have to repair the distortions caused by broken bones or slashed skin. He had just created a piano player for the empty baby grand in the museum and at least the injuries inflicted to that model could be stitched up and covered by the clothing. It was hard to be elegant with the drugs necessary to render the subject completely subdued and intact being so scarce. But he had to risk it this time for the perfect subjects now presented themselves, guiding him by the sounds of their music and horseplay. He came within 100 feet, 50 feet...they hadn’t noticed him and luckily would not until too late.
A partially-opened window and lights within the tent revealed the couple; a tanned willowy blonde and her black boyfriend. It was almost 20 years ago that another such couple had come to Ambrose, fresh from their wedding in Vegas. They had hoped to find an out of the way place to enjoy an extended honeymoon without interference from their objecting relations. At least that is what Bo had conveyed and he was grateful his brother, in a rare display of deference, actually followed his suggestion as to how to get them ready. It was a simple matter to serve them tea spiked with a mixture of valerian and valium while both drugs from their father’s pharmacy were still viable. It was fitting that they, Minnie and Marcus, should take the refreshments in the main drawing room of the museum, admiring the work and saying how exciting it was to be around it. Before the fateful drink, they even did a bit of a dance whose motions Vincent found magnificently inspiring as he watched from the peephole. They had no hint of suspicion even as some heavy yawning fell upon them and they went to sleep practically in each other’s arms. They were carried down to the waxworks in the basement below. Bo wanted to dispatch them then and there but Vincent objected strongly... they would remain intact and not suffer. They were disrobed and prepared by waxing and shaving as Bo went to procure the sedatives. They awoke in a sweet opium dream augmented by nitrous oxide to capture the merriment of the dance they did. Although it was was quite a chore to set the couple into the armatures and pose them precisely, they did not in any sense resist or display fear or worry. They babbled intermittently and giggled like children as the wax delivery system was primed and ready to dispense. Vincent would work on them constantly for the next two days, making sure they were comfortable in their slow, inexorable demise as the process would remove their lives even as they were perfected as statues. He had sculpted live subjects before, but these were the first never to show horror or shed tears. What further delighted Vincent was that the couple had in their luggage some good period clothing that went well with the tableau he had in mind. They would have a place of honor in the main room. He wondered if he could again ever have as satisfying an experience of creation as this beautiful couple.
Vincent brought himself out of his pleasant reminiscence as he neared the boombox that was fortunately situated well outside the tent. Here he would have to rely on his knives expertly wielded but would save the last of the opium for the young woman. His prized weapons already took out a trespasser to his workplace who would make a perfect guillotine victim for a future historic diorama he had always wanted to do. That would have to wait until these two were processed. From past captures, simply turning the music off would surely bring at least one of them out to check it. Predictably, there came the sound of a zipper as the tent door was opened and the underwear clad boyfriend emerged. A perfect opportunity to strike as the youth was also distracted by the phone he started to use after having turned the boombox back on. He seemed alarmed just prior to the fatal attack but it was too late. From behind, a straight downward thrust into the neck dropped the young man instantly and almost silently. His girlfriend was completely unaware, even turning out the light and calling out to him. Slowly he made his way over to the tent, readying his syringe, hoping to get right on top of her to inject it properly in one dose. She called out Blake’s name and could sense she was reaching for a flashlight. Too late to intercept her, the tent lit up, the young woman screamed, and commenced to flee from the tent, tearing it open in her terrified escape.
As he pursued her, Vincent cursed himself for being much too cautious. As his younger brother the hunter would have pointed out, a deer that is allowed to run past a certain time taints its venison with adrenaline and fatigue poisons as it goes into flight mode. Short of death, it was almost impossible to erase fear from the face and body....muscles tightened in certain ways that could not be easily smoothed out, especially with rigor setting in. But he couldn’t think ahead, he had to get her as soon as he could. Being a stranger, she would not know the area and be an easy catch. Still, she was nimble, stumbling across the body of her boyfriend and recovering without tripping despite the horror of the discovery.
Reaching what she thought was the shelter of a warehouse, Paige crept into hat she thought was the protection of a dark corner. The lights suddenly flickering on all over the place dispelled that. She was stunned to see all kinds of cars and items there... a mute testament to the many victims that had strayed into the web the three brothers had laid about the ghost town. The hope that shone from a box of cell phones yielded none that worked. Grabbing a length of pipe to defend herself, she looked frantically for another place to hide. Her heart quickened even further than it was when she heard rough footsteps approaching. She fought to avoid the lightheadedness she felt coming on as a consequence of hyperventilation but there was scarcely any reason she could calm down. Every tabloid story and urban legend and motion picture about taking detours went through her mind. As Vincent teased her into the car lot and into a corner with surprise feints, he gradually put her into the spot he wanted. Paige didn’t feel it when from behind the metal grating, the hypodermic plunged into her neck through her now ragged sweater. What should have been a jolt that sent her scurrying like a rabbit was like a dull mosquito bite that instead had her collapsing in an overpowering warm rush that washed over her like a wave. She felt her heartbeat slow and her vision blurred. The feeling of being submerged increased as her body rocked back and forth as Vincent carried her over the rough terrain to an awaiting truck. There she was laid next to Blake’s corpse, already mostly bled out and turning an ashen color. That didn’t bother Vincent too much as he could easily add pigment to the wax batch to restore the original complexion. Paige was too drugged to notice her dead lover even as the drug wore off somewhat in the cool night.
The cold was soon replaced by an uneven warmth of the kind that reminded her of a campfire or a charcoal grill with the sooty, industrial smell of petroleum. She could hardly grasp her thoughts save of the one feeling she was in danger and tried to move. This feeling became more acute as she felt the cold blades of scissors as they cut her underwear away. In the corner of her eye she saw her clothing tossed into what looked like the door of a boiler, along with a familiar pair of boxers. On a table beside where she was she caught a familiar silhouette but couldn’t be sure it was Blake because of the intense light behind him. A tall figure eclipsed this light as it loomed over Blake. She could catch the silhouette of a large, curved surgical needle and suture. She had no idea how much time had passed as she heard all sorts of sounds that reminded her of what she would likely hear at the day spa she would frequent. She then saw Blake lifted off the table and heard a variety of mechanical sounds like levers being pulled and screws being turned. Lots of hissing and whining and finally a sound like the spray of a shower or waterfall.
The she knew she was naked and trapped, Paige felt strangely numb to it all. She had no idea of how much time had passed or even if it was passing. She felt she could move some more but stirring might warn her captor. Still, Paige tried to weep, mumbling, “Oh, Blake, I’m so sorry! I wish, I wish I could have told you....” Her outburst only brought the ghost face to her view and again she felt the dull stab of a hypodermic at her thigh. The sensation was different though. Plainly, what she was shot up with was wearing off for the most part but this was a new sensation. She was aware but unable to move a muscle or eyelid. Every so often the ghostly mask that Vincent wore popped into view and something like water was dripped into her eyes to moisturize them. Paige briefly recalled some crime show where the killer used a drug that paralyzed but left the victim fully conscious and unable to react. As trivial as it seemed, she tried desperately to recall its precise name, as if that scrap of knowledge could provide some comfort now. She had no idea of what was going on around her save that she was doomed and the manner of that doom was the mystery now.
Vincent lifted her off the table and brought her over to the armature harness. Originally designed to convert plaster and stone maquettes into waxworks, he adapted it to human anatomy easily. It could hold any body up to 250 lbs. into almost any pose while jets from every angle could uniformly coated the body with wax. Paige was conscious enough to behold the contraption and lose bladder control as it looked to her like something out of the Hellraiser films. Vincent ignored her incontinence as he positioned her in the armature. It was a simple standing pose with the left arm upraised in greeting to contrast with the Miss Ambrose statue he had just completed. Because of their slenderness Paige could actually feel the pinions of the armature as they pressed into her body like an iron maiden, only the flat points could draw no blood. She saw a standing figure seemingly covered in some rough material that was translucent enough to make out her boyfriend. Next to him was a nude wax figure of a young woman with long dark hair, right arm upraised in greeting, left arm curled up by her chest, and with a rather blank smile on her face. She noticed two piles of clothing next to Blake: a khaki blazer with dark pants and red shirt and black tie with black leather shoes. But what got her attention was right next to it: it was enough to startle Vincent as the realization hit Paige so hard it made the rigging slightly shudder. Next to the clothes she deduced were intended for Blake was a vintage wardrobe of a kind she never saw made for a real woman. A dark red mid-length pleated skirt, pink long sleeve blouse, wide white belt with matching buckle, faux fur golden yellow coat, matching dark red faux fur round hat, and pink pumps. “Oh my god!” Paige realized, “I’m going to be made into a Barbie doll!”
As if Vincent had read her mind and so to affirm her surprise, he took the figure of the woman and began to dress her in a long, cherry red satin gown, set a tiara on her head, a bouquet of roses in the cradle of her left arm, and and drape a sash with the words MISS AMBROSE on it. He combed her hair for a full five minutes before turning to Paige. The mask looked at her and Paige was wishing she could scream at her tormentor but she couldn’t think of what to say....her mind was reeling in panic again. Vincent went over to a corner and wheeled out a cylinder with tube and mask. He switched it on until the sound of gas hissed lightly from it. He covered her nose and mouth with it and pressed it into her face, giving her no choice but to breath it in. After a minute, Paige began to smile and Vincent began to fine tune the armature to hold her securely. Once finished, he went to the main controls.
Paige could not help herself save to cry and the tears did not go unnoticed. She heard a heavy sigh from the masked man, who promptly dried her face and then shot her with the last of the morphine. Another pithy quote had come to her mind, “Be careful of what you ask for, you just might get it.” She had loved Barbie dolls and fantasized about being her but now the thought of becoming one was just too much. Blake was obviously going to be her Ken and the thought of spending eternity in a display window with him by his side was the comfort that she looked for as she yielded to this exotic death. “I will be beautiful forever I guess...” were her last thoughts just before the main valve was opened.
The heavy dosing of drugs and nitrous oxide made the experience bearable. Paige was genuinely surprised to find the scalding wax which was permeating her body to be quite soothing. She knew enough medically that she would eventually die from a combination of dehydration and kidney failure as this would kill her skin and leave the rest of her body intact to mummify internally. She got the impression that this psycho at least would not have her suffer considering what he was obviously capable of doing. How many had he done this to? How could it have gone on so long? So many questions to ponder as she was enveloped slowly in a coating that locked her in its sensuous embrace throughout every pore and corner of her body.
Ghoulish as it seemed, it was a pleasure to watch Blake being finished as the excess wax was meticulously scraped down. Using hot wax and putty knives, he smoothed his body to the hunkiness he had in life. She found the sensation as she was subjected to this process to be rather enjoyable as well. He even dressed her in front of a mirror and it was a beautiful as it was morbid. What snapped her back to reality was when she and Blake were hauled out into the town and put on display in a storefront. There had been all sorts of commotion going on that her immobile body couldn’t perceive directly. At a certain point, Carly had come into view. “Please, please, look over here!” she cried out mentally. Nick followed up behind her. Almost at once, they both did a double take in Paige’s direction. They slowly walked up, eyes agog! Carly covered her mouth in horror, “Oh my god!!” Rage and tears welled up in her friends face as she came up to the glass window and smashed it with her bare fists.
“You fucking bastards!”
“Carly, shut up!” Nick warned, “Your giving us away!”
Nick took his sister by the arm and dragged her away.
“That’s it,” Paige shouted mentally, “Run! Run!”
She hoped she would be the only one to share this fate but she had a dread feeling that Nick and Carly might be the only ones to survive. Sadly that proved true as later on, after the day broke and police cars finally swarmed over the place, she heard the gist of what had happened when Nick and Carly confronted the mad artist and his normal faced brother. Morgue detail kept coming and coming. Over thirty missing persons positively identified so far, going back almost 30 years. Carly came up to point Paige and Blake out. After a while, they were both carried off to the morgue detail. At some point, the technicians noticed that she still had some vital signs left and Carly was rushed over to her.
“Paige? Paige? Can you hear me?”
Paige was able to slightly moved her eyes twice.
Carly gasped and hugged her friend and cried. “They say there’s nothing they can do! You’re going to die like this...”
“Are you in pain?”
Carly was at a loss for further words. Then she said, “This is going to sound crazy, but Vincent did an incredible job...”
“Wade and Dalton, they didn’t make it. Vincent made Wade into a piano player. He was in the middle of making Dalton into a statue but he was already dead. All those people...he made them into statues. It would have been beautiful if it wasn’t so horrible...”
“Do you want to remain like this?”
“We’re going to the hospital, Nick and I. I told them to do all they can to make you comfortable but I want them to take you with us...so we can be with you. Let your family know...”
Paige was put in a private ward to avoid the curious and the media as the National Enquirer would be all over this story like flies on a carcass. Through a special setup for the handicapped, she could communicate sufficiently via computer to make her last wishes known. She absolutely forbade being autopsied as it was obvious what she was going to die from. Family permitting, she wanted to be interred with Blake in a glass container and in public view. Surprisingly, donations for this undertaking came in substantially quantity as news of this grisly ghost town and its victims became known. As her vitals signs ebbed, she wished her surviving friends well and thanked them for their bravery and support.
No expense was spared for the memorial she and her doomed lover became and it was a testament to their love more than anything else over their unusual fate.