Stillsville, Utah, 2007
Deputy Debra Sanderson opened the squeaky door to her patrol car and stepped into the cool spring night. She hated working nights; she’d rather be home doing something like sleeping but times were tough now. The town was losing money; ever since the new highway was opened the town has been getting less and less tourist traffic. Many residents had packed up and headed into the surrounding cities for a better life. The few that remained, which only ranged in the high eighties, were suffering financially. The town’s main source of income came from tourists needing gas, rest and food. Mayor Myra Cooke was doing everything in her power to keep people in town; it was a losing battle but it was better than nothing.
The already struggling town was facing another problem, one that Mayor Cooke wanted to keep under wraps in order to not scare more residents from the town. It started a couple of months ago when some residents disappeared without a trace, a whole family, to be exact. The Lorton Family lived just off the edge of town; a young couple with two little girls. Mayor Cooke explained to concerned friends of the Lorton’s the family had just gone on vacation. That excuse held up for the time being until more people started to vanish. The mayor and her small staff were running out of ideas and excuses. Myra secretly asked the Sheriff Edgar Fuller to investigate the matter. Stillsville’s police department consisted of six deputies, a receptionist who acted as a dispatcher as well, and the Sheriff. None of who have ever dealt with such a case, but were willing to do so for the town’s sake.
It has been three weeks since the latest disappearance; the town was at almost in a near panic now. Deputies were missing as well as the Sheriff himself. Debra was one of the two deputies left and she had to work the night shift. It was her turn. She had only been on duty for an hour when she got a call on her cell from Annabelle Carter. The Carters were twin brother and sister who lived on a plot of land on the east side of town all by themselves. They were considered the richest family in town, it was said their parents were once big shots from the city but moved to the town in order to live the simple live. Rex and Barbra Carter nearly owned the town until they'd both suffered from an unknown disease and gone to the hospital in the big city three years ago. Now it was just Annabelle and her brother Isaac who were a couple of recluses who never left their large estate. They were artists apparently and specialized in life-size wax figures, but only few had actually seen their work, which was said to be very life-like.
Annabelle had called and said that her brother had gone out in their backyard and vanished. She was afraid and did not know what else to do. Debra told her to relax and she’ll be right over to help look. If one of the Carters were to vanish that would be it for the town. If the richest people weren’t safe, who was?
Debra checked her heavy flashlight to make sure it was working before started up the steps leading up to the Carter estate. It was an old Victorian looking house that was about the size of the town hall that housed all of Stillsville’s governmental offices, but this was a private residence. The four-story house was completely dark. Debra looked at the large dark house, everything inside of her told her to call for Jake, the other remaining deputy. Jake had just worked a twelve-hour and was newly married so she decided to not to call and just deal. She climbed the old steps and crossed the creaking patio to the large double doors. It was a deathly silence she didn’t like it. She didn’t want to be here. Using the butt of her flashlight she knocked on the door and was surprised when it just swung opened. "Annabelle you in there?" she called into the dark silent house. No response. Peering around the large dark interior of the house she saw some flickering of light towards the back. "Annabelle, it’s Deb with the Sheriffs office, I’m coming in." Something felt very wrong. She had only been a deputy for six months and all the older guys told her if she ever felt something bad, then it probably was bad. She was feeling something bad now but she entered the dark house anyways. She had a duty to her badge.
The house was darker than black once she was inside. She wanted to turn her flashlight on and look for a switch or something but her fears was getting the better of her. She un-holstered her side arm and made a beeline for a flickering light. "Annabelle?" she called out as she neared the light. Still no answer; the eerie feeling still lingered around her. Debra bit her lower lip and bought her pistol up. The light was coming from the crack of a door. Sticking her flashlight under her arm so she could hold her pistol with two hands, as trained, she pushed opened the door with her shoulder.
With her pistol up and ready she scanned the room, which was a study or office of some kind. The walls were lined with books with leather spines; the floor was covered by an elegant Persian carpet. There was a small round table in the center of the room with a globe on it and four plush red leather armchairs set decoratively around the spacious area. A large mahogany desk sat in back of the room; a lone candle sat in the center of it, which dimly lit the room. There was a figure standing in the far corner near the desk. Debra turned her attention to the figure and approached. From the dimness of the light she knew it was a woman but the rest of her features were hidden in the shadows. Once she was close enough she noticed the woman had not moved and figured it was just one of the Carter’s waxworks.
Debra re-holstered her pistol and pulled her flashlight from under her arm and flicked it on. The figure of the woman was naked, the curviness of body told Debra it was a mature woman, around middle age perhaps. The woman had nice round breasts that were slightly sagging but still looked attractive with brown nipples. Oddly enough, the woman had a landing strip-style shaven mound. Debra thought it was odd being that wax figures did not usually have hair down there or were as detailed as this figure was. Panning her light up towards the figure’s face, Debra was taken back immediately as her heart skipped a beat. The figure was Mayor Cooke! She took a step back looking into the Mayor’s face. It was Myra Cooke all right; raven dark shoulder length hair and big hazel eyes that now started emptily at Debra with a slight grin upon her soft pink lips. Debra stepped in closer and looked the figure closely. The Carter’s were as good as people said. The figured looked exactly like the Mayor. Examining the figure closer, Debra realized to her horror that figure had real skin! The sound of the floor creaking behind made her jump and drop the light. She quickly turned, reaching instinctively for her pistol, only to be blinded by a bright light followed by darkness. Debra couldn’t move; she couldn’t see; she only heard a murmur of voices of maybe two people near her. She didn’t know what was going on then suddenly she felt somebody taking off her belt and unbuttoning her shirt. Debra felt only a slight breeze of the room wash over her bare thighs before all of her senses went numb and she was surrounded in dark silence.
Highway 4, ten miles south of Stillsville, 2008
It was supposed to be the highlight of their season; it was the first time in ten years that the Decker State College Lady Raptors soccer team made it to the big tournament that would in turn decide their eligibility for the championship. They had loaded the whole team into two buses; the starting line, coaching staff, and some of the back-up line were able to fit in the first bus while the second bus carried an assistant coach the rest of the back-up line and a small squad of cheerleaders. Both buses were equally old, being that DSC was more known for their male sports than women; the latter got the scraps of the athletic funds. The bus carrying the starters and most of the team had recently been completely overhauled so it was good for another couple of months. The second bus, however, had not been overhauled yet and the four-hundred-mile trip from DSC to Salt Lake City was proving to be a death sentence for the old machine.
Bus number two so far had broken down six times; five of those times bus number one also pulled over and waited. The sixth time however Coach Diana King felt that the situation was getting ridiculous and she had the first bus continue on with no objections from the first team, leaving the second bus stranded on a lonely stretch of Highway 4 with no sign of civilization around them for what seemed like hundreds of miles. The only good thing was it was a decent day outside allowing the girls to hang outside along the side of highway as the bus driver Gabrielle Ward, and assistant Coach Glenda Peyton tried to figure out what was wrong with bus. Four of the five cheerleaders that rode with the team sat in shadow of the bus on lawn chairs gossiping. The eight players and a single cheerleader hung out on the grass, the players passing a ball around while the lone cheerleader read a book on blanket.
Julie Vaughn closed her book, sat up on her blanket, and stretched. She looked like the typical cheerleader with her orange and white uniform and trademark blonde hair. But she was anything but a typical cheerleader; she was a straight ‘A’ student and had the highest GPA on the squad. The only reason why she did cheerleading was that she liked to dance and cheerleading provided her with the best seat to watch her twin sister Kat play soccer. However, to her dismay, since they had arrived at Decker State College her sister has not gotten any playing time despite being one of if not the best strikers on the team. She was no good at soccer Kat had always been the athletic one even though both of them looked identical Kat was just always good at sports and Julie at school. Even though she didn’t play Julie still knew enough about soccer to know that at least five of the back up players, who passed the soccer ball in front of her playfully was among the best on the team. She often wonders what Coach King was thinking when she had put them as second stringers. Kat probably knew the answer but never told her in fear that Julie might go speak her mind, she had a habit of doing that. Stretching out on the blanket Julie sat back and watched the second stringers play.
Kat moved quickly around Chrissy Pak, who played left side defender. The tanned Korean American girl with spiky dyed dark red hair attempted to slide tackle but Kat was too quick. With some fancier juggling Kat passed the ball over to fellow back-up striker Veronica Parker; the tall slender brunette receives the ball and attempts to juggle past mid-fielder Diane Cruz, the short and stocky Latina steels back the ball and passes it back to Chrissy, who manages to the keep the ball for only a second before Kat professionally steals back the ball and charges for the goal, avoiding the highly religious brunette Tess Vole in the process. Mel Donavan, the Irish exchanged student, was tall and built like an Amazon warrior, her sexy muscular frame covered in a wide variety of meaningful tattoos representing her Irish background. Her hair was short and spiked up with frosted blond tips giving her a look of a contemporary runway model. Back in Ireland she was known as ‘the wall’ but at DSC she was simply known as goalie number two in the good wisdom of Coach King. Mel moves out forward towards Kat as she drives closer to the goal, Kat however quickly passes the ball back to Veronica, who heads the ball into their makeshift goal.
Julie squeals in joy and stands up, clapping her hands as Veronica and Kat run around with their arms spread out as if they were flying; fellow players Ayane Nakamura and Britney Summers, both dyed blonds, following close behind. Chrissy and Diane also celebrate being that was the first goal on Mel that day, who had been successful in stuffing everything. Mel, looking bitter for only a second, claps her gloved hands and grins at her teammates, "Good strike!" she barks in her thick Irish accent. "It’s about bloody time though," she added, laughing in joining the others.
"Hey ladies!" Coach Glenda Payton, who was a former Raptor some years ago; now the tall blonde with strong legs who showed them off too much, was an assistant coach having not been able to go pro simply because of the disbandment of the women’s professional league. She stood at the door of the bus along with their long time driver Gabrielle Ward. The African American woman was as tall as Glenda and even shared the same build with a slightly larger backside. Gabrielle was just a fan of soccer program like Julie; she wasn’t part of it though.
All the girls gathered at the front of the bus, the cheerleaders getting up from their lawn chairs and moving the short distance. In contrast to the soccer players, the cheerleaders were a bit more slender and wore the matching uniforms with warm-up pants under their short skirts. The soccer players were dressed in an assortment of booty shorts, orange and white practice jerseys and sports bras. The cheerleaders were Kelli McAdams, a cute blond with the body of 19-year old and a voice of a baby. Julie thought she was sickly cute; a stereotypical cheerleader. Pamela Flipspatrick was a fiery redhead she considered herself an adventurer but never really did anything out of the ordinary beside attend crazy frat parties every weekend. She got along real well with Kelli, being that they were roommates. Brianne Walsh was a spunky brunette who was the youngest of bunch; she had grown up on a farm out in some far off back road town in the Deep South. She had a thick southern accent that was cute to an extent and considered Chrissy, Ayane and Diane being truly exotic people and a wonder to her little world. Finally there was Rachel Xanders, the team captain and perhaps the girl everyone in the squad looked up to since the hot blond was in a Puff Daddy video once. She and Julie often butted heads since Julie was smarter and had a witty remark for anything that came out of Rachel’s mouth. The two were perhaps the most similar when it came to physique, both had naturally sun-browned skin, blond hair and were popular girls on campus. Rachel because she was in that music video and Julie because she had an equally hot sister that all men on campus fantasized about; everyone loves twins.
"Okay girls, we’re not going any where." Glenda informed them as soon as everyone was quiet. Everyone groaned at the news, the soccer players because they were going to miss the tournament and the cheerleaders because they didn’t want to be there. "But we have some good news and bad news," Glenda continued after shushing the crowd of co-eds. "Gabby informs me there is a town just down that road that may have a tow truck." The girls perked up. "Hold on now that’s was the good news, the bad news is we don’t have a phone signal out here so we are going to have to walk to the town and bring back the tow truck." The cheerleaders were the only ones to groan this time.
"Ms. Peyton, I think half of us should stay back and watch the bus while the other half goes to town to get help." Rachel suggested, eying the soccer players already deciding for herself who was going and who was staying. Glenda thought for a moment; the cheerleader had a point. Seeing that Coach Peyton was thinking about whom she was going to send and who was going to stay, Rachel suggested, "Let’s have the soccer players go they like to run and stuff and we could stay and watch the bus."
"That’s fine with us," Kat said with a disapproving look from Julie. The other soccer players nodded in agreement.
"Very well, I’ll stay with the bus as well. I’m not leaving Gabby alone with cheerleaders; something might happen," Glenda replied, looking at Gabby who only grinned and shook her head before climbing back on the bus. The other girls only looked on, confused. "You girls stick together alright there is power with numbers. Still, maybe a few should stay behind?" Ayane and Tess immediately offered to stay and after some hesitation Britney did as well.
"I’m going with you," Julie said as she packed her book bag for the journey.
"I think your captain already made it clear that the footballers are going on this expedition," Mel said as she pulled on pair of warm up pants and swung her book bag over her shoulders.
"Yeah Jules, stay with Coach and the others." Kat suggested, "We soccer players can handle ourselves. Let’s go girls," she said seeing that her teammates were ready. The girls began their journey. Julie didn’t take no for an answer and she tagged along anyways, trailing the other girls. There was no way she was going to let Kat go off on her own if anything were to happen she would never live with herself. Kat was glad to see Julie following along with her team; if anything did happen Julie would be the only person she would truly trust.
The girls half jogged and walked in the direction that Gabby had said the town was in. Julie won over the respect of the team, not only did the perky cheerleader kept up with them but she was able to pass them to jog alongside her sister. "Welcome to Stillsville!" Chrissy announced happily seeing the sign coming over the horizon.
"What an odd name for a town." Julie commented.
"Who cares about the name; if they got a tow truck and some food I’m happy." Veronica replied.
"I hate these back water towns… always feel like something bad is going happen," Diane muttered.
"That’s cause you watched too many of those horror movies." Kat laughed, "Stillsville here we come."
"Creepy," muttered Mel as the group entered the town with an unusual name. It was essentially a straight road with a single main street, a turn-off from the highway, going through the middle and several box-like buildings dotting either side. A few small side roads were also around, all of them paved, but they were mostly surrounded by houses. Massive trees flanked the area as well, and in the distance, about a mile up the road, the girls could see cornfields with more trees surrounding them. The quaint appearance of the small town wasn't what had disturbed the Irish blond however. It was the mannequins.
Standing near the first building, a large three-story house that was probably as close to a mansion as it gets in such a small town, was a smiling man with a fishing rod on his shoulder, a pail in his other hand, his left leg forward as he faced towards the small pond by the main street. The man was dressed like a cliché fisherman, clad in large suspender pants, a checkered shirt and a dorky full-brimmed hat. Judging by the fact that he wasn't moving, however, it was an easy task for the girls to figure out he was a mannequin, a quite realistic one at that. "Yeah, that is a bit freaky," agreed Chrissy.
Further up the road was a younger girl, one who looked about eighteen, holding the handlebars of a bike as she stood beside it, her long brown hair blowing in the gentle breeze. The girl was wearing Daisy Duke Shorts and a red tank top, a cheap pendant around her neck. "What is this, some kind of nuclear testing ground?" asked Julie, remembering her US history. Back in the fifties fake towns had been built, populated by mannequins, for atomic bomb tests.
"No, it wouldn't of been listed on highway stops, good guess though," offered Veronica, rubbing her hand on the motionless girl figure's shoulder. "Weird, she almost feels real. Must be some kind of new polymer."
"Well they do make that fake skin for burn victims," recalled Kat as the group continued along the main street. Several more mannequins dotted the sidewalk but there were no real people in sight. Two young boys were standing on the grass in front of an old house with baseball gloves on, one holding a ball in his hand as if ready to throw. A mail woman was at the front door of the house holding letters in her left hand, her right raised in a chop-like shape, no clear purpose for it. Past the house was a two-story building that had a woman in her twenties behind the counter, seemingly a butcher shop, as she was dressed in a smock and was surrounded by meat, mostly sausage-like ones. Beyond the butcher was the police station which had a beautiful deputy, also in her twenties, standing outside with her hand on her holster, her other one at her side as she stood in mid-stride, sunglasses hiding her gaze.
"Awesome, redheads make hot cops," declared Chrissy as they walked by, admiring the mannequins. "But seriously, where are the people?"
"There's city hall, want to check there?" asked Mel, pointing at the large building across the way. Outside of an older four-story brick building was an older man with a pipe sitting on a bench, also apparently a statue like everyone else they'd seen.
"Yeah, that works," shrugged Kat, her sister nodding in agreement. The six girls were about to cross the road when a rumbling was heard and a large tow truck rounded a distant corner, pulling onto the main street and driving towards them. Seizing the terrific opportunity, the girls waved down the beat-up vehicle as it approached them, the driver pulling over to the side of the road and rolling down his window. Julie approached him first, not being nervous in spite of being with five other college girls in a seemingly empty town, the ultimate horror scenario.
"Greetings there, little missy, what are you doing in Deadsville?" asked the driver, a man in his thirties with a Kurt Russell mullet, salt and pepper stubble and a greasy jumpsuit.
"Deadsville?" asked Julie, not getting the driver's joke.
"Well, it’s called Stillsville, because back when it was settled they were standing still, not moving on, you see?" explained the driver, chuckling slightly as he spoke. "About a year ago however the town's population relocated to bigger cities, leaving only a handful of people left including a couple of artists. They pretty much turned this whole place into their muse, repopulating the town with their wax statues."
"Wow, that is more than a little creepy," muttered Diane, shivering over with the other girls.
"Ain't it the truth," agreed the driver. "My name's Lance, Lance Raymer. I drive through here on my way between Cobblewood and Grimley. This place is the only one left that has landlines and the whole area is a dead zone for cell phones, so I call this place Deadsville. The statues also help, since without them this town is pretty much dead!"
"Thanks for that," whispered Mel, grinding her teeth slightly as she spoke.
"I'm Julie Vaughn, we're all with the DSC girls' soccer team," explained Jules, changing the subject. "Our bus broke down a few miles north of here and we need help fixing it. Can you help us out?"
"Of course, little lady, that's my job!" laughed Lance, leaning over and unlocking the passenger seat door. "Show me where your bus is at. Only problem is I can only take three of you, not enough space, you know?"
"You go Julie, otherwise Rachel will have a fit," suggested Chrissy. "This place isn't so bad, I'm good to wait."
"Kat, you should go with her, she is your sister," suggested Mel. "Take Ronnie too, she seems a bit scared."
"Hey, what about me?!" insisted Diane, glaring at her teammates.
"You're always scared, you really need to lay off the late-night horror flicks," snapped Chrissy, causing Diane to pout. The decisions made, Julie, Kat and Veronica joined Lance in his truck and they promptly drove off, leaving the Korean, Latina, and Irish girl alone in a town populated almost entirely by lifeless wax statues.
"Anyone else feel like we're going to be picked off, one by one?" asked Diane, shivering as she looked around the streets at all the statues.
"No, not unless they've gotten Gabby," declared Mel with a grin. "Come on, you know; the black person always goes first."
"Great, now I bet Kat and the others will come back and tell us the others were all decapitated," moaned Diane.
"Okay, come on Chrissy, let’s grab some food and find a TV and get away from this pessimist," insisted Mel, wrapping her arm around the Korean girl's shoulder and leading her towards the town hall building, leaving Diane alone on the sidewalk.
"Separating, yeah, that's smart," whispered Diane, glancing around in a panic before bolting towards the police station.
Inside town hall it didn't take Chrissy, with her expert nose, long to find a fridge in what was essentially a lunch room on the third floor, where a short-haired brunette was posed in a blue business dress with a magazine sitting at a lone table with her legs crossed. While most of the refrigerator's contents were spoiled, the freezer did contain some meat and juice, which they took out, warming up the frozen salami with the microwave. "Wouldn't they have cleaned this place out before they left?" asked Chrissy as she sat next to the brunette mannequin while Mel stood and turned on the old TV in the corner. The only station the pair could get was the local Fox affiliate, which was currently airing some comedy shows.
"Not necessarily, if it was abandoned as rapidly as that cute driver said," replied Mel, plopping down across from Chrissy and taking a lick of her frozen orange juice.
"Cute?" scoffed the Korean, looking at Mel like she was a snake. "He was probably over ten years older than us and had a gray beard! What's wrong with you?"
"I like them older and hairy," declared the Irish girl with a mischievous grin as she took a bite of salami. "Heck, I'll bet I can find some old deed to the city or something around here! I'll be back in five minutes. I want to find something cool!"
"All right, but hurry back, I don't like it when my only company's a dummy," declared Chrissy.
"Is that why you never want to sit next to Rachel on the bus?" joked Mel as she left, Chrissy merely shaking her head in response.
Working her way upstairs Mel soon found herself inside the mayor's office, which had a massive window overlooking Main Street as well as a large desk made of sturdy oak. A one-piece rustic, the desk looked like something gangsters would have sat at in the forties or fifties. A state flag and a US flag sat on either side of the desk with a nice leather chair behind it but nothing on it. Disappointed Mel turned to exit the room when she saw movement behind her. As Mel spun around, there was a bright flash and then darkness; the Irish goalkeeper unable to see and barely able to hear a voice. As she tried desperately to figure out what had been said and why she couldn't move, she felt her subconscious drift off, and then she stopped thinking.
* * *
After waiting for Mel for ten minutes, twice the allotted time, Chrissy was getting worried. "Ugh, sorry girl, but I need someone I can talk to," the Korean told the magazine-reading mannequin as she got up, a piece of salami still in her hand, and stepped out of the room. Deciding Mel probably had gone up, Chrissy headed for the old wooden stairs and promptly heard a creaking sound as she started to climb.
"Oh Mel, thank god, what took you--" began Chrissy, then realizing someone else was there right before light blinded her and made her senses fade out, leaving her effectively helpless.
* * *
"Guys, are you still here?" called Diane as she walked into city hall, noting a young deputy with a red beard standing by the door as she entered the building. A few more mannequins, mostly men, dotted the lobby; all dressed for business and in various walking poses. One man was leaning against a woman against the wall, both with seductive smiles on their faces. Disturbed by the scene, Diane hurried up the stairs.
"Mel, Chrissy!" shouted out Diane, coming up onto the third floor. Once again there was no one moving, just a woman in a low-cut powder blue blouse and black miniskirt with blonde hair in a ponytail and a water cooler cup held to her lips. Diane was about to go up another floor when she heard the sounds of a TV coming from a nearby room and headed into it.
"Why didn't you two answer, you scared the crap out of me!" screamed Diane when she entered the break room and saw Mel and Chrissy sitting there, watching TV. Chrissy was sitting in a chair across from the TV and had a piece of salami in her right hand, her elbow resting on the table as she stared blankly at the TV, which was blaring a commercial at the moment. Mel sat on the other side with her legs crossed, her right arm on the table as she looked up at the TV as well.
"Hey, very funny, now stop messing with me!" insisted Diane, not appreciating that neither girl was moving. "Come on, I get it, you're playing like mannequins, that's hilarious, now can we please leave?" Mel and Chrissy failed to respond once again, continuing to stare at the TV. In frustration Diane reached up and turned it off, but the dark-haired Latina had still yet to provoke a response from her friends and teammates.
"Dammit Mel, stand up!" demanded Diane, walking over and grabbing the Irish girl's left arm, raising it up and promptly pulling hard. Mel flopped out of the chair like a rigid statue, not breaking her pose even when she landed face-first on the ground. "Mel...?" whispered Diane, suddenly very afraid; frantically she ran around to Chrissy and shook her violently. "Chrissy, come on, snap out of it!" screamed Diane, her heartbeat pushing to two hundred beats per minute. When Chrissy didn't move at all either Diane let out another scream, a simple one, and ran out of the room and downstairs where she'd seen a pay phone. Ignoring the nearby groping man and woman Diane dialed 911, or attempted to. Right when she pushed down the number 1 for the second time a flash lit up the room and left the Latina in total darkness.
* * *
"She's a foreign type, ain't she Annabelle?" chuckled Isaac Carter as he stared at the frozen form of Diane, who stood with the receiver in her left hand, her right pressing down on the number. A look of horror with actual tears in her eyes was fixed on Diane's face. Isaac lowered his camera, a simple-looking Polaroid, and smiled over at his twin sister. Both of them wore white dress shirts, Annabelle's a blouse naturally, as well as slacks that also matched, being brown.
"You know she's Spanish, or Mexican, or something, stop talking like a redneck," insisted Annabelle, smiling as she walked over to the frozen soccer player. At age twenty-three Annabelle was, in her twin's opinion, the prettiest woman in the state, having perfectly combed short brown hair with tips that curved inwards and blue eyes as deep as that of the ocean. Isaac himself had a crew cut and his eyes were noticeably a bit paler, but both were five foot nine and had the same hair color.
"I heard them outside, they said something about a truck," declared Isaac, scratching his collar as he watched Annabelle take Diane's hands and place them on her hips, hanging up the phone and turning her around.
"That damn Lance, even with his ignorance he's still a problem," sighed Annabelle as she shaped Diane's face into a neutral expression, then made her stiff lips pucker. "We might have some work ahead of us. We should grab the other two from upstairs and put them all someplace where they won't be found. You want to kiss her before you do that, you dork?"
"Sure, thanks sis," grinned Isaac, walking over pecking Diane on her lips. "I can't wait, you know. I've never played soccer, and now we're going to get us a whole team."
"You're talking like a cliché again," snapped Annabelle, hitting her brother, softly, across the face.
An Hour later
Lance had determined after a quick once-over that bus needed a new distributor cap, possibly new spark plugs as well and all the drive belts needed to be replaced. He had the tools to do the job on the spot but didn’t have any of the parts. So he and Gabby hooked up the bus to the tow truck and the remaining girls boarded the bus and they were all off to Stillsville. He assured everyone that the shop in Stillsville had all the parts they needed and he’ll have them back on the road in three hours, tops.
Kat and Julie felt odd as they entered the town for the second time. It looked like they were never there. They had expected to see Mel, Chrissy and Diane waiting for them. Instead they saw nothing but the realistic mannequins. Lance towed them straight down Main Street while everyone on the bus was glued to the windows looking at all the realistic mannequins of all shape and sizes, old and young. They were everywhere. The whole town looked like it was populated by these realistic figures. "Hey Kat, think how long it took the artists to do all this." Julie whispered to her sister who only nodded as she eyed a family, a mom and dad and their two young daughters holding hands and walking down the sidewalk.
Once they reached the service station, which was on the other end of the town, Lance unhooked the bus and he and Gabby raided the abandoned service station for the needed parts. Lance assured her that the owners hadn’t been around for years and they wouldn’t miss any of the parts. Glenda assembled the girls again and broke everyone into groups to go and find the other three girls who she figured were goofing off. That’s what she would be doing if she were stuck in an abandoned town. She guessed it wouldn’t take but thirty minutes to find the others since the town wasn’t that big. "Okay everyone, we meet here in thirty minutes, if you’re not here we’re leaving without you. We’re late for the tournament as it is," Glenda warned as the girls set off.
* * *
Rachel and the cheerleaders, minus Julie, who she was attempting to deem as a traitor headed for a nearby department store to look for the three soccer players. The store was only a block away from the service station so it was ideal for Rachel who didn’t want to walk far. The girls were surprised to find the door to the store open even though the town was deserted. The place was pretty big and looked dark from the outside. Rachel however assured her team that it was safe and they went in.
Once inside they spotted three mannequins who seemed to be posed as employees; there was a heavyset blond girl with a purple apron over her causal clothes manning the cash register. Sitting on the counter of the register was brunette boy who looked to be in his late teens, his face littered with pimples. He was dressed in the same purple apron over his street clothes. He sat leaned back, resting on his hands with her body leaning towards the blond. The pose of the two employees looked like photograph of two people having a conversation. Standing near by was an older man with graying hair, he was dressed in a white dress shirt was a black tie and pants; he stood with his hands on his hips and face molded as if he was angry. He was obviously playing the role of stick-in-the-ass manager.
"I didn’t know they made fat wax figures?" Kelli asked as she looked at the two mannequins. She reached out and touched the boy’s skin, "His skin feels like real skin."
"It must be some kind of special skin-feeling wax?" Pamela said, touching the girl’s cheek.
"Skin-feeling wax? Y'all are weird. How could wax feel like skin?" Brianne said as she looked at the angry looking man, "Looks like someone back home."
"It’s special, and they used a lot of it on fatso here." Rachel replied poking the blond cashier.
"It’s special? Come on, Rachel, what’s so special about wax. This is something new." Brianne then said, touching the man’s cheek, astonished of the realness and the skin like texture the figure possessed.
"Brianne don’t talk like Julie, nobody likes that. She’s traitor anyways." Rachel said walking deeper into of the store, "Let’s look for those soccer players."
"I like Julie. She makes me feel smart," Kelli said, following Rachel.
"Julie’s not a traitor Rachel, she went with her sister; there’s nothing wrong with that." Brianne added with a frown, following Rachel and the others.
"I love my sister!" Kelli said happily with a bounce. Rachel and Brianne turn to look at the perky blond with a confused look.
Pamela took hold of the smiling Kelli by the shoulders and smiled, "We know, Kelli, we know."
Rachel sighed and muttered something under her breath then continued to lead the others through the store. The trip had been sort of an eye-opener for Brianne, who was starting to see the rivalry between Julie and Rachel who she thought was stupid; they were supposed to be teammates. Julie was a lot nicer though so if things got really bad within their squad she knew whom she would side with. The store was like a small Wal-Mart from what it looked like; it had a little bit of everything, clothes, toys, and even groceries. It was just like a place back in her hometown Brianne thought. They moved from aisle to aisle but found nothing by expired food and mannequins either posed with shopping baskets or pushing a cart. It was getting eerie and by the time the girls reached the other side to the story they were walking close to one another.
Rachel stopped and turned around, "Okay this bull; they’re not here and this place is way too creepy."
"Yeah, let’s just leave and tell Ms. Peyton we didn’t find them," Pamela suggested with Kelli nodding in agreement.
"We just walked around… we didn’t call out their names or nothing," Brianne said, realizing she wasn’t feeling too comfortable in the store either but they really didn’t try to look yet. She took a gulp, "We should split up and look once more."
Before Rachel could say something, Kelli looked behind them, "Hey look a ghost." Everyone looked and saw a tall brunette with a camera slung around her neck who was not there moments ago, standing next to a shelf of cereal. The girls instinctively bunched together and screamed.
The woman smiled, "Please do not be alarmed." She said kindly, approaching. "Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Annabelle Carter. My brother and I are responsible for these figures you see around you."
Rachel regained her composure and stepped in front of her squad who were still holding each other. "I’m Rachel Xanders, I’m captain of the DSC cheerleading squad, we’re looking for three soccer players from our school - perhaps you have seen them?"
Annabelle smiled, "Of course I have; they’re at town hall with other soccer players."
Rachel and the others relaxed and smiled, "Thanks for your help Annabelle. We’ll be going to meet them now," Rachel said as her three friends started to move.
"You all are such gorgeous girls. Would you mind if I take picture of you for a reference?" Annabelle asked, holding up her Polaroid camera.
* * *
The golf cart dragging the ten-foot flat bed behind bounded around on the dirt surface of the tunnel as Isaac quickly drove it towards his destination. The tunnel was dimly lit with just enough light to see and ran to every building and house in town. It was first dug in the fifties as massive bomb shelter for the community. The project took so long that by the time the tunnel itself was done the cold war had already ended. This left miles of dirt tunnel running all through town, forgotten by the general public and generations that would follow.
Isaac and the golf cart came to a dusty halt at a door marked "Purple Mart". Isaac hopped off and unlocked the door with a set of keys he had attached to his belt. He then went up a flight of dusty and dirty stairs before he opened another door and he was in the basement of the market. Moving through old crates and storage bins, Isaac made his way to yet another set of stairs and ascended them quickly. He came through the door leading to the back of the market and was then in the store. Looking left and right to get his bearings he moved left and was in sight of his sister in moments.
Annabelle walked around a group of girls who looked like cheerleaders. They stood in a staggered line with their hands held in a fist, their left fist held up in the air. All four of the girls stood with legs wide and bright smiles on their still young faces. "Aren’t the beautiful, Isaac?"
"I’ll be, pep girls!" Isaac smiled rubbing his hands together, "They sure are pretty." He agreed stepping in front of Rachel and groping her breasts through her uniform top.
Annabelle moaned wrapping her arms around Pamela’s stuck form, "I love natural redheads, you know that Isaac, and this one is just so pretty. They're perfect dolls..."
Isaac nodded in agreement, looking at the other girls; he always thought the soccer players were good looking but these girls almost matched up to Annabelle. "What do you want to do with them?"
Annabelle separated from Pamela and walked over to Isaac and handing him the girls’ Polaroid, "I think we’ll take them home and add them to our private collection."
"Sounds good sis, I love them blonds!" Isaac said hungrily
"Don’t so barbaric, Isaac. Now help me move these girls to the cart, you still have work to do. Remember to be civilized and not all hee-haw when you encounter them."
"I’m going to have to use the dirt bike, they’ll all gone and separated, they’re all over town now." Isaac said wrapping his strong arms around Rachel’s waist.
"Very well, be very careful though. Remember what happen last time you were riding that thing in the tunnels. It took me almost a week to find you."
"Third gear was slippery…" Isaac muttered, "And that rock came out of no where."
* * *
Kat and Julie were together and they headed back towards town hall, where they thought Mel and others would be, since that was where they were going to go before Lance showed up. Julie opened the door leading into the large building. She eyed the bearded deputy and smiled at the realism. They looked around at the frozen businessmen dotted throughout the lobby. "This place is great!" Julie exclaimed as she began to go from mannequin to mannequin examining each like if she was in a wax museum. Kat stood at the doorway, crossed her arms, and looked around the large building nervously. "Hey Kat, check this out!" Julie said excitedly, looking at the groping couple. She touched the man and woman and was captivated by the realness.
Kat cleared her throat and got her sister’s attention, "I have a confession, Jules." Kat looked over at her twin, her smile fading seeing the distress on Kat’s face.
"What’s wrong?" she asked worriedly walking up to Kat.
"I was watching movies with Diane last night… I’m not feeling too good right now." She replied, looking around the creepy empty building. She looked back at Julie who had a sincere look on her face, with her blue eyes staring at Kat lovingly. "Jules?" Kat asked touching her sister who did not move. "Julie!" Kat shook her twin hard but still nothing. She could feel her eyes water and heart beating faster.
"Boo!" Julie then said laughing. "Oh my God, the look your face!" Kat’s face turned beet red as she shoved her sister hard and walked away from her.
"You are such a bitch!" Kat screamed as she stormed away. "Mel, Chrissy, Diane, where the hell are you!" She yelled as she walked deeper into the building. Julie, still chuckling, got up from the floor and followed her fuming sister, keeping her distance for the time being.
* * *
Tess and Veronica were together and they were tasked with walking through the few side streets of the small town. They had agreed to meet Britney and Ayane who were working on the other end once they were done. After that they would meet Julie and Kat and finish looking down Main Street. Veronica was the bigger of the two, being taller and a bit thicker than the petite but fit Tess. She hung closely to the smaller girl as they walked.
"This place is great, so peaceful," Tess observed looking around the deserted peaceful neighborhood. There was really nothing in sight but a few of the realistic-looking mannequins that they had seen everywhere throughout the town.
"You forgot creepy…" Veronica muttered, looking at a man behind a lawn mower nearby.
"Have you been hanging out with Diane again for her movie nights?" Tess looked back at her tall teammate. "I told you all that stuff is bad for the heart."
"For your information, no I have not been watching Diane’s movies. This place is just weird, with all the fake people everywhere. Don’t you feel like someone is watching you?" Veronica asked, looking around and seeing nothing but a few of the mannequins posed in front of the houses.
Tess turned around to face the taller girl, "There’s always someone watching us," she said, smiling and looking up at the sky. She then started walking again.
"I don’t mean that Tess…" Veronica replied, catching up. "You don’t feel it?" Tess only turned and smiled at her nervous friend and shook her head.
"Relax, just look at it as a huge wax museum. Don’t you love wax museums?"
"No you got me mixed up with Ayane. She’s into that sort of thing. Art majors…" Veronica then stopped and looked around. They had reached the end of street and there was still no sign of anything but mannequins. "There’s no one here. These houses look empty."
"You know what; start knocking on doors and I’ll go in that church and ask if they have seen Mel or the others," Tess suggested. "There’ll be someone in the church I’m sure it doesn’t matter where you are people always have to have faith even in small places like this."
"How come I have to knock on the doors?" Veronica asked, pouting, looking around her expecting to see something creepy dart past. Nothing happened.
"You’re welcome to come into the church with me," Tess then said with a smile.
"No thanks… I’ll knock." Veronica said defeated, the church also looked like something out of a horror film. She’d just take her chances outside where she could run.
"Meet me out front of the church when you’re done. Remember don’t go into anyone’s house," Tess warned as she crossed the street headed for the old looking church. Veronica grumbled to herself as she turned back and walked back the street.
* * *
"Ayane we should really be looking for others." Britney whined, "Tess is going to get mad if we’re late meeting her and Ronnie. The dyed blond Japanese American, who was sixth generation American making her as Japanese as Mel, was posing with a mannequin of an old man standing on a door step of a deserted house, the man had his hands on his hips and scowl on his face. He dressed in denim overalls was a flannel shirt with a straw hat.
"Just a few more pictures," Ayane begged, striking a pose next to the man. Britney sighed and took the picture with Ayane’s digital camera. "This place is awesome. My mom would loved this place; wish she was here," The dyed blond remarked, crossing the empty lawn to her friend and teammate.
"We really have to go. I don’t want to be here. This place gives me the creeps," Britney replied, handing Ayane her camera. "Just think about it Ayane; people who have time to make all these wax figures for a town... there has to be something wrong with them." Britney’s words fell on deaf ears as her friend spied a woman kneeling in front of her yard tending to her small garden. The woman was in khaki pants and flowered blouse with a wide brimmed sun hat covering her head. Britney chased her friend across the street, "Were you even listening?"
"I thought it was a real person." Ayane said, smiling, looking back from the woman seeing that she too was mannequin. She knelt next to the woman; she looked perhaps forty or so with green eyes and blond hair tied back into a bun under her sun hat. The woman’s pink lips were parted slightly and her green eyes stared intently down at her dirty, gloved hands. One hand held a dead flower by the stem while the other had a small scooper that was dug into the soil. "She’s pretty. Let me get picture with her," Ayane declared and tossed the digital camera to her friend who just bit her lower lip. At this rate it’d take forever to search their half of the street.
"Her back is to us. It’s no good. Let’s just go," Britney said quickly hoping to persuade her friend to move on. Ayane only turned and smiled at her friend and looked around up and down the street. "What are you doing?"
"Keep an eye out, Brit," Ayane said with a look of mischief on her face.
"No Ayane!" Britney tried to protest but was force to frantically look up and down the street to make sure no one was watching them as Ayane grabbed hold of the mannequin’s shoulders to turn her. To both of their amazement, the mannequin rotated at her hip turning naturally as Ayane twisted her. Britney gasped in shock as Ayane backed off with a look of amazement. "Wax figures can move like that?"
"No, this is amazing." Ayane said as she twisted the woman back to her first pose and began moving the arms about. "She’s fully posable. This is amazing, we have figures here with realistic skin and fully posable. This is revolution in wax modeling. I can’t believe this place is not on the map. Wait till my mom hears about this." Before Britney could protest, Ayane turned the woman around completely and stood her up as if she was playing with a big doll. She took of the woman’s hat and ran her fingers through her hair pulling it out from its bun. "The hair feels so real come here and touch." Ayane beckoned. Britney was speechless and expecting to get yelled at any moment. She shook head declining the offer. Ayane proceeded to touch the woman grabbing at her intimate parts. "They feel real and it feels like she has underwear underneath. They usually don’t dress mannequins in underwear."
"Ayane, this feels really uncomfortable; you shouldn’t be touching it like that even though it’s fake. Let’s just go." Britney pleaded, looking around; she was hoping someone would come out and say something now.
"I want to see how realistic this lady is," Ayane said, smiling evilly as she began to unbutton the woman’s blouse.
Britney quickly walked up to her and grabbed the Asian girl’s arm forcefully, causing the waxwork woman to wobble a bit, "No Ayane! Let’s just go and find Mel and the others."
Ayane turned and faced Britney, "What’s wrong, Brit; not hot enough for you just cause she’s a mannequin!"
Britney looked at her teammate shocked, "What are you talking about, Ayane?"
"Last month after the UCLA win we got wasted at the hotel; me and Chrissy passed out in our room. We woke up the next morning naked, we had no idea what happened and you told us we got crazy. The thing is Brit I could handle my alcohol better than that lightweight Chrissy. You came into our room after we were asleep, Brit. I remember. You got a kinky little secret, don’t you?"
Ayane…I’m…" Britney stuttered, looking into Ayane’s dark eyes. Ayane eyed her very seriously, making her feel like she was back in Catholic school again. "I’m…" she started again, looking as if she was about to cry. Ayane simply smiled at her and hugged her.
When they separated, Ayane grinned, "We’re college girls; we’re allowed our freaky moments. Don’t worry about it, I’m not going to say anything. I’ve been quiet so far and I don’t plan on saying anything. That’s not me," Ayane assured.
Relief swept over Britney, "Thanks Ayane, I’m so sorry. You and Chrissy, you guys are just so hot. I think I have an Asian fetish."
Ayane laughed, "Who doesn’t. Don’t worry about it. I’ll forgive you if…"
Britney sighed, "Fine, if we look at the mannequin naked and could we go?"
"Don’t make it sound so lesbian… I’m strictly in this for the art, but you got a deal."
* * *
Veronica sat outside on the church’s stoop with her elbows on her knees and chin resting in her hands. She sighed and looked at her watch. It had been nearly twenty minutes. They would have to meet up with coach soon. Veronica’s knocking had gotten her nothing. The town was bare, nothing but creepy mannequins. She looked back at the towering spooky church behind her and quickly looked forward again, cursing at Tess for making her wait. Looking at her watch again she stood and paced the steps coming to a stop at the double doors of the church. "I’m not getting left in the town because of you," Veronica snarled as she pulled open the door of the church.
Inside the church was coolly lit with two rows of seats with a wide aisle running between. There was a large cross at the head of the high-ceilinged room just sitting about the elevated alter. The place felt spooky right away. Veronica saw some waxwork people sitting scattered throughout the rows on both sides. It was deathly quiet and she heard an echo when she cleared her throat. It was annoying but no one turned her direction. So she figured they were all statues. She began to walk down the aisle with her arms tightly crossed, bracing for anything to jump out at her. She made it all the way to the altar without anything happening. "Tess," she called out, only hearing a loud echo throughout the large room. She decided she wasn’t going to do it again. It just felt too creepy.
She turned around and counted, there were only about five statues in the room. Four women and a man; all were over the age of sixty at least. Where was the priest? She wondered, turning around and noting a doorway that led to the back. "Dammit Tess, I’m so going to kill you," she grumbled as she headed towards the doorway. It led down a dimly lit hallway with four doors on either side. The door at the end of the hallway was open and there was light coming from the room it belonged to. "Tess? I’m coming back there. Is there anyone there?" she called as she slowly walked towards the open door, bracing herself. Right as she turned the corner and looked into the office she let out blood curling scream, turned, and ran. A bright flash followed but Veronica, who was one of the fastest girls on the team, was already out the door and back on the street heading away.
* * *
Glenda sat up from the lawn chair she was sitting on, hearing another scream for the second time that day. "What in the hell was that?" Gabby and Lance, who were working on the bus, peeked up from under the hood and craned their necks towards the direction where the scream had come from. "That’s the second time today, I hate co-eds," Glenda added, putting her hands on her hips and looking around.
"The town’s old, spiders and stuff. Lots of dirty things about," Lance replied going back to work. "Not a good place for pretty girls used to the city to go roaming around."
"College girls, coach, you know how they are. You remember that overnight stay we had in Austin?" Gabby chuckled as she handed Lance a wrench.
"That was a huge rat Gabby; anyone would have screamed," Glenda replied, shaking at the thought of that night. She looked around the service station and spotted an old square building with faded words that read "Youth" on it. "Hey Lance, what’s that building over there," she pointed to the large structure just behind the station.
Lance peeked out from under the hood and looked around, "That’s the youth center; like everything else in town it’s been deserted for a year now. There are two cuties statues in there though, I must say," he chuckled, getting back to work. "Don’t know if there are any more in there; I just go see the cuties every time I’m in town."
"Are they blondes?" Gabby asked curiously.
"Nope, one is Chinese or something and the other is a brunette." Lance replied.
"I’m going to check it out, Gabby, tell the girls to wait when they get back," Glenda said looking at her watch, "they should be getting back real soon."
"Have fun Glenda; tell me how they look," Gabby called after the blond as she walked away. Glenda simply waved as she walked.
The short walk from the service station had been a quiet one. Glenda didn’t see any more human-like statues just deserted streets. The streets and sidewalks were clean though; Glenda finally noticed that the town had no cars. The only thing in the town with a motor was Lance’s tow truck and the bus. She looked around her as she walked, keeping the service station in view. "Feels like a freaking horror film," she muttered, looking around.
The youth center was a large square building with four glass doors on the lower level along two rectangular sliding windows on either side of the glass entrance way. On the upper level were three huge windows, the type the gyms mostly had; they were fogged over with bubbles making a blurry image if you were to look in or out. Glenda looked up at the building once more before pulling one of the glass doors open, "This is the part were the teacher gets it," she said under her breath as she entered.
The lobby of the youth center looked like something from doctor’s office, comfortable modest arm chairs lined up against the walls which were covered in old heath posters promoting milk and exercise. The floor was tiled and checkered and had not been cleaned in some time. There was a single table with old magazines coving it. Glenda looked around the aged room, not wanting to touch anything. There was a reception desk in the corner of the room and a tanned brunette female mannequin sitting behind it. She was dressed in a maroon polo with a "Stillsville Youth Center" logo over her left breast. The woman looked like one of her players. Glenda looked down at the desk to see that the woman’s fingers were posed over a keyboard and her glazed-over brown eyes were staring into an empty computer monitor. Reaching over the desk Glenda touched the woman’s face; the skin felt like human skin. She quickly pulled her hand away. "That’s kind of cool," she whispered.
There was a doorway to the right of the desk that led down a hallway. Leaving the receptionist behind, Glenda moved along the hallway cautiously, she had the feeling that she was trespassing and that she shouldn’t have even came into this building let alone a town with only statues occupying it. The hallway had pictures lining the walls of children grouped together in teams. The pictures had dust fogging them that turned the photos of the once happy time into an unrecognizable dark memory. There was a door on Glenda’s right that led into an office, the door was opened wide and the name on it read "Dr. Wendy Wu - Youth Administrator". Peering into the office Glenda saw the Asian woman sitting behind the desk in the corner of the room, she was a statue as well, like her receptionist in the front. Dr. Wu had black hair pulled back into a simple ponytail; her dark eyes were covered in wire-framed glasses. She was clad in a maroon polo like the lady out front. She sat with hand cupping her chin while the other held a phone to her ear; she was staring blankly to one side of the room with parted lips. Glenda felt like she was looking at a wax exhibit or something and moved on. At the end of hallway a door on left side led to a weight room, which was covered with equipment coated with a couple layers of dust.
The hallway turned off to the right and went down little bit more till it opened up into a large room containing a swimming pool that was dirty and dried out as well as a dust-coated basketball court. The large room was completely empty and filled with dust and whatever hid under it. Glenda stood at the doorway and looked around the large room; she noted the exits that surrounded the large space and concluded that this was it. She was about to turn and leave when she heard water from a shower running. Looking around the room once more, she saw the women’s locker room and zoned in on the sound as she walked closer. She determined it was coming from there. "Girls…" she shook her head, annoyed. She had the whole team and the ditsy cheerleaders searching the whole town when they were here showering the whole time. Pushing open the door the showering sound got louder. "Ladies what do you think--"she huffed out as she turned the corner.
The room was small, there was single janitor’s closet at one end of the room with lockers covering the walls on the left and right and there was a opening in the wall directly in front of her that led into the showers. A wooden bench sat in the center of the room where her players were. Mel was closest to her, the Irish goalie was naked, save for a towel wrapped around her body, her hair slicked back and she bore a sleepy-eyed smile on her face. She sat on the edge of the bench with both hands running through her hair and her naked legs crossed at the knees. Chrissy was behind her, the defender had one leg on the bench and the other on the tiled floor; she was leaned over the leg that was on the bench with her hand pulling at laces on her cleats. The Korean-American was dressed in her orange and white shorts, the foot that on the floor was standing in a flip-flop while the on the bench was fully covered in the orange and white striped sock over a shin guards. Her upper body was clad in nothing but her orange sports bra; the girl’s red hair was slicked back from her face showing off her Asian features. Finally there was Diane; she stood at the end of the bench, stark naked, save for her orange and white striped knee length socks and cleats. The pretty Latina stood with hands on her curvy hips, her head tiled to the right with a sly smile on face looking at the two girls. Her dark hair out of the usual bun she wore it in and hung freely to the small of back. None of them so much as blinked an eye. They were now statues.
Glenda didn’t have to take a closer to look to know that something was very wrong. What had happened to her players? She pulled her hands up to her mouth, masking her terror, as she backed up from the sight in front of her. She then heard noises coming from the shower. A man suddenly appeared. He was carrying Tess around the waist; the brunette looked to be stiff as a board as well. He set Tess down and looked at Glenda with a smile, "Howdy." Glenda looked at Tess; there was an expression of horror on the girl’s face her hands were out in front of her. Looking at the man, who now aimed a Polaroid camera at her, she let out a brief scream before she was surrounded in a white flash.
* * *
The doors to the town hall building flew opened as Ayane, Britney and Veronica burst through it. All three girls started yelling out Kat and Julie’s names as soon as they were in the lobby, ignoring the fleshy statues around them. Kat was upstairs looking around when she heard the yelling; she went out into the hallway and looked down. The other three girls ran up to her all speaking at the same time.
"Slow down, one at a time. What’s wrong?" Kat asked, trying to calm her teammates down.
"Oh my God! Where’s Julie?" Veronica then cried out, looking around the room frantically the two girls doing the same.
"She’s around here someplace." Kat simply said and asked, "What’s going on."
"There was a man in the church; he turned Tess into a statue!" Veronica blurted out with tears running down her eyes. "I came in there to look for her, we split up I didn’t want to. She took too long so I went in. I saw her in the back room she looked weird; there was this man – a hick looking guy - he had picked her up from the waist and she didn’t look right Kat," Veronica explained gripping Kat’s hand.
"We found a woman that was statue. Britney and I took her clothes off…" Ayane began to explain.
"What?!" Kat asked, looking at the two girls wide eyed.
"Shut up Kat and let me explain," Ayane said, raising her voice to almost a panic, "The woman had hair down there, wax statues don’t hair there!"
"You could stick your fingers in her too," Britney blurted out.
Ayane looked at friend, "You didn’t need to say that, Brit." Britney smiled uncomfortably realizing Kat looking at her with a raised eyebrow. "Bottom line is: Kat, these statues are real! That guy that Veronica saw turned people into them!"
Kat quickly put everything together but it didn’t make sense; Veronica was totally freaked and she was considered the levelheaded one of the team. She was a senior, too, so she wouldn’t be pulling pranks. "Okay guys, lets go back to Coach and tell her. Let’s go find Julie first."
"No, Kat it’s too late; just leave her." Veronica pleaded and started to pull Kat the other way as girls were already moving towards the door.
Kat jerked Veronica back forcefully and looked the taller girl in the eyes. "I know you’re scared right now, so I won’t remember you ever said that. I am not leaving Julie. You wussies can go on but I’m not leaving here without Julie!" Kat said angrily, letting go of Veronica’s hands and stormed off, not looking back. The three girls looked at each other before jogging after Kat.
Julie stood in front of the glass case inside of the Hall of records. A large high-ceilinged library looking room, the case was located at the front of the room a long with other displays of historic artifacts of the town. There were three entrances to the room; two led out back towards the lobby with the other leading to the back of the town hall building. The glass case contained a naked woman standing with her hands at her stomach with fingers interlocked and thumbs touching. She bore a wide smile in face with dark eyes wide. Her black hair was tucked behind her ears. Her breasts were nice and round but slightly sagging; she looked to be in her late forties or early fifties. Her mound was shaven into a landing strip of dark hair. Julie was horrified out of her mind but couldn’t take her eyes off of the woman. A plaque at the base of the case had piece of white paper pinned to it and read "Mayor Myra Cooke" It was written crudely in what looked like black crayon. Julie could see the individual skin cells on the naked mayor, the veins in her hands and feet. No way was this woman fake; she was real. Someone killed her and stuffed her and posed her up like trophy. Why? Julie continued to stare, unmoving, not noticing that Kat and other three were at the far entrance that led to the lobby, looking at her. For the first time since coming to this town, Julie was afraid for her life; she didn’t want Kat or herself to end up in a glass case like this.
"She’s frozen!" Veronica cried out, "Let’s just go," the other girls nodding in agreement while looking at Julie’s unmoving form looking up at the naked woman behind glass.
Kat turned to her slapped Veronica, not too hard, but hard enough for her feel something, "I’m not warning you again, not another word from you on leaving Julie behind." Ayane and Britney looked down at the floor; they knew from experience not to talk trash about Julie in front of Kat, they saw that one coming.
"Sorry Kat," Veronica said, realizing that she was losing it.
"Let’s go," Kat said, walking into the large room towards her sister who she knew was not a statue, she saw her move her head a little. "Jules let’s get out of here."
Julie turned to Kat, who was standing next to her. Britney, Ayane and Veronica stood behind them. Veronica was looking around nervously while Ayane and Britney looked up at the naked woman behind glass. "That’s Mayor Cooke, I think they killed her or something and stuffed her." Julie explained in a whisper, getting everyone’s attention.
Kat looked back at the other three who looked like they were going wet themselves. "Jules, really, don’t say that."
"She’s not dead," A woman’s voice said from behind them. The all jumped and turned quickly to see two people standing next to the entrance that led to the back of the building. There was a woman with a pretty face and shoulder length brown hair and man with crew cut. Both were the same size in height. They looked to be twins.
"Howdy ladies!" The man said with hungry eyes as he brought up the camera to his face.
"It’s him!" Veronica said breaking out to a run. There was a flash and she froze in mid-stride. The other girls with all their pent up tension had already darted out of the room, leaving their frozen friend behind, not even wondering what had happened.
"Isaac…" Annabelle muttered.
"I was civilized…"
"Go get them. I’ll take care of this one."
* * *
Once they had gotten outside, Kat was so worked up that she forgot which direction was the service station and took off down toward the opposite end of the town. Julie had tried to call after her, seeing Ayane and Britney already running at full speed in the right direction. Having no other choice, Julie took off after Kat, heading towards the police station.
Ayane and Britney were panting uncontrollably by the time they reached the service station. Lance and Gabby were busy working under the hood of the old bus but did not even move, "Not good," Ayane said between breaths, looking up at the two people under the hood. She had sickly feeling that came from watching horror movies with Diane that something was extremely wrong.
"Lance, Gabby!" Britney yelled, pulling at Gabby whose still body fell over stuck in a leaning position; her face bore a smile on it. Ayane checked Lance, who was stiff too. She looked over at Britney, who by now was on the verge of tears and shook her head with a grim panicky look on her face.
"Hey!" Isaac’s voice bellowed. Both girls turned and, before they could scream, a bright flash blinded them followed by darkness.
Running down the street with utter panic coursing through their systems, Kat and Julie weren't in the best mood to pay attention to detail. As they hurried along Julie, who'd turned to look behind her and check for pursuers, ran right into the redheaded deputy they'd seen when they'd first come to down, causing the frozen woman to topple onto her right side and Julie to land on her rear. "Ouch!" she exclaimed as Kat stopped to help her.
"Come on, we need to find a gun or a phone or something before those psychos turn us into statues as well!" exclaimed Kat, frantically looking behind them but seeing to her relief that no one was there.
"There's no cell reception, so our phones are useless... the station must have something," muttered Julie, shaking her head and accepting her sister's helping hand so she could stand up. "Hey, if you want a gun, let’s just take this woman's. She can't use it right now anyways." Bending over the fallen police officer, Julie carefully moved her arm and opened the holster on her belt, producing a silver-colored revolver that Julie didn't think the police even used anymore.
"Careful; I know you've never used one of those before," rasped Kat as Julie inspected the pistol.
"I know, but Brian was in the NRA, remember?" Julie reminded her sister, recalling one of her ex-boyfriends. With little difficulty she opened the revolver's chambers and saw, much to her dismay, that they were empty. "Uh oh, these guys are smart. We need to find some bullets."
"Wait, look at this, Jules," muttered Kat, who'd bent over to examine the fallen deputy while Julie was invoking what little knowledge she had on guns. Reaching under the mannequin-like woman, the soccer player produced a Polaroid photograph of that same woman. The deputy however appeared to be standing in a house and was reaching for her gun as she twisted at the waist, her eyebrows raised in alarm and her mouth open. "Creepy," the girl muttered, instinctively tearing up the picture.
"What the?!" exclaimed a new voice, making the blonde twins jump and look around only to see the fallen deputy suddenly move, putting her hands down and sitting up. "Who the hell are you and what the hell is going on?"
"The photos, that must be the key!" exclaimed Julie as she continued to look around while Kat held the torn picture in her hands.
"Photos, what are you going on about?" demanded the officer of the law, standing up. "What is this?!" The woman burst out next, looking around and seeing the frozen people that dotted the town seemingly for the first time.
"Quick, come inside and we'll try to explain!" insisted Kat, grabbing the woman by the arm and dragging her into the police station with Julie right behind.
Inside the police station, a dark-haired receptionist with freckles in a red blouse, dark skirt and pantyhose with leather heels was sitting at a cheap wooden desk. She wore a headset and her fingers rested on the keyboard to a computer that still used an old-style CRT monitor, her mouth open slightly but no clear word or letter on her lips, which were colored pink. Behind her were several filing cabinets, a small switchboard and a couple of doors that appeared to lead deeper into the police station. "Kim?!" gasped the deputy, running over to the receptionist and shaking her by the shoulders. "Just like the mayor..." she muttered.
"Alright, I guess we should explain," realized Julie as she walked over to the deputy, putting a hand on her shoulder and offering her the gun she'd taken earlier. "We're from DSC. We were on our way to the big soccer tournament when our bus broke down so we came here to find help. When we got here we found everyone, including you, like this, seemingly frozen in time."
"A broken down bus finds a town with seemingly no signs of life," repeated the deputy, shaking her head as she took back her gun. "Sounds like a horror flick, but this appears pretty real to me. I'm Debra, a deputy, in case you haven't figured that out. Last thing I remember was going to investigate a call at the Carter estate and finding the mayor looking frozen like Kim here. Then I was coming to on the street with you two."
"Two people, a man and a woman, showed up with a weird camera that I guess that is the cause of all this," explained Kat. "I found a picture of you on your body and tore it up and that's when you... unfroze."
"A man and a woman?" asked Debra, interested in the story as she felt up her belt for keys. "What did they look like?"
"Twins," Julie said simply, remembering how the two had looked the same.
"The Carters; I should of known," moaned Debra as she produced a key and opened the door on Kim's left, leading them into a small office with two desks, a couple of lockers, more filing cabinets and a couple of phones but no computers. "Isaac and Annabelle Carter, a couple of artists, or so we thought, they're the kids of people who were the richest in town before they had to go to the big city for treatment on some kind of disease they caught. Shortly afterwards they started making wax statues, at least that's what we were told they were. I was at their house when I got frozen or whatever they did to me." Glancing at the monthly calendar on the wall, Debra's eyebrows jumped in surprise. "2008?!" she exclaimed in horror. "Those kids have been in control of this town for over a year!"
"Wait; they updated the calendar?" gasped Julie in horror, realizing the problem. Debra clued in as well and the three women quickly began searching the room. Nothing useful was found, only a few unloaded revolvers and shotguns. The landlines were also out of service, the telephone lines most likely cut somewhere.
"They're sneaky ones," breathed Debra as she closed the drawer to her desk with a sigh. "I still don't get how a camera could freeze a person though, or how the key to breaking the spell is tearing up the picture."
"Spell, that's probably an accurate description of it," mused Kat as she finished digging through a locker with a pin-up of Jessica Simpson in it, clearly not Debra's. "Still, if we can unfreeze someone, that means we can save everyone."
"I guess you don't see the flaw in that plan," came a new and familiar voice from the doorway. All three women instinctively attempted to find cover but the blinding flash filled the room and it was all over.
* * *
Annabelle was on the front porch with a glass of lemonade, admiring the four cheerleaders that stood across from her while she sat on the deck chair. The four were still in the same poses as before with their fists raised above their heads and their legs wide, only Annabelle had modified Rachel's stance so her right hand was on her hip. She'd had a lot of fun playing with her new dolls.
Back in town, Annabelle had also taken the time to arrange Veronica with the four girls and their coach in the training room. Glenda now stood just inside the room, posed in mid-strike with her hands holding a clipboard and her gaze fixed on it. Veronica and Tess were in the showers, both naked with their clothes hung in a couple of lockers and towels by the shower stalls. Tess was posed with her hands running through her hair as she leaned back with her eyes closed and her mouth open; Annabelle planned to stop by and soak the girl every day or two so she'd retain that in-the-shower look. While she was naked, she still wore the cheap nickel cross necklace, emphasizing her Catholic heritage which Annabelle felt was a nice touch. Veronica, meanwhile, was holding a bar of soap near her womanhood with her other hand over it, her own eyes open as she looked down with a grinning smile on her face. Her perky breasts were well-shown but Annabelle had wanted to hide her more shameful crotch area, which didn't look that well taken care of, something the local girl planned to work on.
As for Ayane and Britney, the pair of them were in the youth center's basketball court, dressed properly for the sport in black tank tops and white shorts as well as socks and shoes Annabelle had found that fit their feet, their hair put into ponytails. Ayane looked ready to take a shot, looking up at the basket with a ball on her hands, her knees bent, while Brit was beside her on her left. The Caucasian of the pair had one arm in front of Ayane's shot, seemingly in an attempt to block it, while her other was less than an inch from the Japanese girl's rear end, a possible grope attempt. The smile on Britney's face would certainly make people think she was there for Ayane and not the game of one on one they seemed to be playing. Annabelle did love manipulating her toys like that.
Following another sip of lemonade, which Annabelle thought was a little too sweet, she was considering going to make dinner when Isaac returned with three women in tow. First he unloaded the redheaded deputy Annabelle remembered as being named Debra, the one they'd trapped on their property before after calling her there. Following her was a soccer player and a cheerleader, both looking almost identical except that the player seemed a bit more solid while the cheerleader was more thin and perky. All three women were posed with their hands at their sides and their legs together like soldiers at attention, the easiest way to transport them. "What happened?" asked Annabelle, waving a hand at Debra.
"We left a picture on that one and these two found it, then ripping it up," explained Isaac as he rubbed Kat's shoulders. "I caught them all in the police station with one shot though."
"And you see why we should keep all the photos in a box like we do now," chastised Annabelle as she looked at her two new acquisitions. "I'll take the cheerleader, you carry those two inside. If they know how the pictures work we should keep them here, not somewhere in town where a random idiot like that tow truck guy can find them."
"That guy won't be a problem, I got him when I got the bus driver," revealed Isaac as he hefted Debra and Kat over his shoulders, a feat which had never amazed his twin.
"Right then, about time I guess," shrugged Annabelle as she picked up Julie and placed her with the rest of the squad on the back right side of the wedge shape they'd created. Working carefully Annabelle changed Julie's pose so she bore a large smile, raised her arms above her head in fists and spread her legs, just like the others. By now Isaac had gone inside, leaving Annabelle free to feel up the frozen blonde somewhat. "You're lucky to have a twin," she whispered into Julie's ear. "You won't leave her now, just like you won't leave me... my pretty little doll."
Inside the house, which was filled with ten very beautiful women including a blond deputy named Carly, all of them naked, Isaac placed the two new women next to an old couch that looked like it belonged in a palace which was on the second floor. On a nearby similar couch sat Carly, who's blond hair was hanging freely down to the base of her neck, framing her face as she sat with her left leg on her knee and a cup of tea in her hands, her evenly-colored body giving off a sheen thanks to the olive oil Isaac had rubbed on it. Next to her was the local schoolteacher, a short-length dark-haired woman with massive breasts that had red nipples who had her arm around Carly, also rubbed with oil. Isaac had been bored one day and decided that olive oil would help preserve the women better and Annabelle, not really caring, had let him do it.
"You two are so pretty," said Isaac in a low voice as he felt Kat's face. "You I want to just have sex with, but I need Annabelle's permission since she doesn't like it when I play with her things without permission. And you, Debra, well, I can't believe we didn't just keep you here in the first place." Checking behind him Isaac saw Annabelle wasn't around so he leaned in to kiss Debra. Much to his surprise, however, a hand suddenly grabbed his crotch and squeezed. Debra then moved, her eyes looking into his as she flashed an evil smile.
"Sorry Isaac, but you're just too creepy for my tastes," she declared as Kat pulled out Debra's gun from her holster and hit Isaac across the neck, causing him to collapse like a popped balloon. The camera, which he'd been holding, fell from his hands and clattered next to him.
"Nice groin grab," complimented Kat as she handed Debra her gun.
"Best weapon a woman has against a horny man who seems to be suffering from dementia," explained Debra as she took back her weapon and picked up the camera. "Let’s get a picture for the road." As Isaac lay on the ground, his eyes closed as he appeared to be unconscious, Debra snapped a photo, which promptly printed out of the camera.
"Nice; good thing I was standing back here," commented Kat, a little miffed that Debra had moved without checking where she was.
"Relax, if all else failed I would of torn up your picture," Debra told Kat as she handed her the camera. "Good thing we both had the same idea. I can't believe he didn't realize we were faking."
"It probably helped that Julie wasn't," sighed Kat, suddenly worried about her sister. "Has he got her picture on him? We should unfreeze her; that might take Annabelle by surprise." Debra bent down and quickly searched Isaac's clothes but found only a picture of Lance and Gabby, which she promptly ripped up.
"I'll go take care of Annabelle, you go find the pictures of everyone else, Annabelle suggested that they were here," suggested Kat, hefting the camera.
"All right, but be careful," warned the deputy as she hurried off into another room, leaving Kat alone as she hurried down to the porch.
Annabelle was clearly insane, but she was by no means stupid or deaf. When she heard what sounded like her brother getting beat up on the second floor of the house she steeled herself next to the porch door and was ready when Kat approached, cautiously opening the door and looking outside. "You won't take them!" screamed Annabelle, tackling Kat as soon as she could, causing both women to fall to the ground, the camera escaping the soccer player's grasp. As Annabelle landed on top of Kat, her hands reaching for the younger woman's throat as she in turn held the woman's wrists a bright flash washed over them both and before they could fully realize what had happened they were both frozen in place, locked in their struggle.
"Dammit, I knew I should have done this myself," muttered Debra as she saw what had happened when she'd emerged from the house with photos in her hands. Casually putting them aside she picked up the camera and the new Polaroid photo that was sticking out of it.
"Wait, I should probably fix this before I tear this up," realized the deputy, quickly putting the camera down. With a bit of effort she was able to loosen the grip the two women had on one another and lifted up Annabelle, standing her on her feet with her hands still locked around an invisible throat, her eyes filled with rage, her teeth tight. "Hang on, I wonder if..." continued Debra, raising the camera and taking a picture of Annabelle alone. Following this she picked up the picture of Kat and Annabelle and promptly tore it up.
"Oh?!" exclaimed Kat, her hands falling at her sides as she sat up. "Oh, hi Debra."
"Next time I think I'll do my job and not let the civilian attack the bad guy," chuckled Debra, offering Kat a hand up. Unsurprisingly Annabelle remained as she was, the second photo prevent her from unfreezing even though the first one was destroyed. The Carter twins were effectively incapacitated.
An Hour and a Half Later
With the Carter twins immobilized, it was an easy task for Debra and Kat to gather up the photos of the frozen girls from DSC and the people of Stillsville, promptly tearing them all up. There were screams, there were tears, and there was a lot of everything. Finally after an hour and a half however Debra, Mayor Cooke and the rest of the local law enforcement had reached a decision while Glenda had quickly gathered up her girls and decided they should leave town as quickly as possible.
Kat and Julie were now sitting outside of the Mayor's office while her ladyship and the Sheriff talked inside, Debra with them. "So were you able to figure this all out?" asked Julie, Debra having come out to join them only a few moments ago.
"Yes, it's a rather unusual story," admitted Debra, sighing as she took a sip of the coffee she'd brought with her. "It turns out the Carter family practiced witchcraft, sorcery and what have you, generally dark stuff that you don't think is real. That was how they were so rich. The parents, four years ago now, cast a spell on themselves that turned them into birds and they flew away, something having gone wrong as it was supposed to let them change back. Isaac covered up all that by saying that they'd gone to a hospital in the city. After witnessing that Annabelle developed a fear of losing people, that turned into psychosis, while Isaac we guess went a little demented. We don't know if their parents made that camera or if they did but they were using it to stop people from moving away. Annabelle's reasoning was that dolls can't leave on their own thus if that's all the townspeople are then we'll never leave. We lost over a year of our lives because a girl couldn't stand being lonely. The Mayor learned all this before they captured her."
"I see, I guess that makes about as much sense as one could hope," nodded Kat, leaning back in the bench.
"For you maybe, this is going to affect my science classes, I just know it," groaned Julie, unable to believe that Debra had just told her that black magic was real.
"Well, that camera never needed new film; magic's the best explanation I can offer for that," shrugged Debra, clearly not pleased with that fact.
"So what are you going to do with the twins?" asked Kat.
"They're discussing that, but it sounds like we'll be hiding them away somewhere," confessed Debra. "You girls shouldn't repeat that, by the way. It's just that they're too dangerous to let free, what with the potential for them to turn a whole town into a wax museum again, or something possibly worse than that."
"It may be cruel, but it has to be done," agreed Julie, shifting in her seat.
Just then Mel appeared at the stairs. "Hey girls, Glenda wants us all at the bus, we're ready to go," called the Irish goalie, keeping her head down as she turned and promptly exited as quickly as she'd arrived.
"Go ahead girls, don't worry about us," Debra assured the pair as the headed for the stairs. "With the camera gone, I doubt Stillsville will live up to the name again anytime soon."
"Yeah, I'd hate for more strange ironies like that," laughed Kat as she hit the stairs.
"I don't know if that's technically ironic," Julie told her twin.
"Oh Jules, don't be so stiff," snapped Kat, causing both girls to laugh.
Outside at the bus the girls were gathered together. Rachel gave Julie a sort of evil eye, Mel and the other girls were chatting away casually while Britney seemed uncomfortable as she stood near Ayane and Chrissy. Veronica waved at the pair as they walked over while Glenda was speaking with Lance and Gabby. "Okay, if everyone's here we can get on the bus and get out of here," declared Glenda, and immediately all the DSC girls rushed to board the bus. Soon only Glenda and Lance were standing outside.
"Shucks Glenda, you make it sound like we're terrible people," pouted the tow truck driver, scratching his stubble.
"Well, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you," offered Glenda with a weak smile. By now everyone on the left side of the bus was peering out the window as Glenda fidgeted slightly.
"I'll tell you what, you let me know next time you're in the area and I'll show you just how nice this place can be," offered Lance with a sly grin, offering her his business card. In spite of having her girls watch Glenda took the card and gave the man a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Don't work too hard, we might need you again on the trip back," called Glenda as she hurried onto the bus, the mechanic laughing and waving. When the assistant coach boarded the bus there was silence, all the girls, even Gabby, purposely looking away from Glenda with smiles on their faces.
"Alright, what say we head for Salt Lake City?!" exclaimed Glenda, getting massive cheers from her team and cheerleaders.
* * *
Salt Lake City, One Day Later
The eleven starting DSC Raptors players for the first game of the tournament were gathered in the locker room with coach Diana King. The back-up team was in a similar locker room next door with Glenda, the second bus having arrived late last night. With half of her back-ups tired Diana was going to stick with her primary squad for the games even over Glenda's objections.
The eleven orange and white uniformed Raptors sat on a long bench with Diana in front of them. The girls were all Caucasian and primarily blonds; something that people around the college had always thought was suspect. Diana herself was a slightly tall natural shorthaired blonde with blue eyes in her thirties and used to play for the Vancouver White Caps years ago before moving to the US. She was dressed in an orange tracksuit with a white T-shirt underneath that had the DSC logo on it as well as a matching baseball hat that was black with the orange Raptor logo. "Alright girls, you know the drill, in five minutes we go out there and greet the Vixens," declared Diana. The coach was going to continue but the door to the locker room then opened and in walked Glenda with Kat and Julie.
"Sorry to interrupt, but I was thinking we could grab a quick snapshot of our future medal holders before the game starts?" suggested the assistant coach, holding up a Polaroid camera.
"Awfully nice of you, Glenny, go ahead," agreed Diana with a smile. Glenda returned the smile, as did Kat and Julie, but only the three knew the true reason for their grins.
After the camera had flashed and the picture had been printed Glenda picked it up and examined it. "This is quite the power I hold in my hand," observed the assistant coach, glancing over at the Raptors primary team. Diana was still looking to her left with a smile on her face as she held the clipboard in her hands, her main squad doing the same only they were looking to their right. No one had moved an inch.
"I hated lying to Debra, but this was just too good of an opportunity," declared Kat as she tried to avoid laughing. "It was nice of you to play along, coach."
"I hate it when she calls me Glenny," revealed Glenda as she walked over and casually pushed over Diana, the blonde coach ending up on her back. "We'll win this tournament just fine without her or them. We can tell them they all suffered a strange bug or something. Let’s not worry about them until after we win, huh?"
"Works for me," shrugged Julie, ducking back into the other locker room for a moment and emerging with a rigid Rachel, who stood with her hands behind her head with her elbows sticking out, her lips puckered and her eyes closed in a suggestive pose.
"I can't believe she fell for the same trick twice," noted Kat, shaking her head.
"Hey, she's a cliché cheerleader: all attitude and looks, no brains," laughed Julie as she stood the girl up in the corner of the locker room.
"Right, lets go do this, I'll lock up behind us," insisted Glenda.