waited patiently at the bus stop for a cab to take her to a motel ... 'twas
a long trip and she didn't exactly know where to go from there but sleep was
now a priority. Late at night, the big city didn't look anything but chill and
grimy. She hoped in the day it would appear more like the emerald city of her
After a long boring confab with a cab driver that she could hardly understand and a half-asleep desk clerk that gave her a 'professional' discount, whatever that was, she finally got checked into a room and managed to unpack everything she needed for a good night's sleep. In a morning that came way too soon she dragged herself out of bed and gulped a couple of headache pills to take the edge off. Following a wonderful hot shower she turned on the TV to unwind; initially just channel surfing. She decided on the discovery channel (she had always been a tomboy at heart) and the show presented was about Nocturnal creatures.
Smiling, she remembered being at home and always watching the scientific far out things. That place and time seemed far away to her, almost another world. Now to get ready to take on the world Tomorrow... «I need to do my nails» she thought. «Even just going to fill applications and handing out my resume I need to look Gooood» Stacey figured. Even though a "Tomboy at heart," she was far from that in her appearance. Standing a petite 5' 5 and 115 lbs she had a 34c bust with a 22" waist. Muscular legs and yes, Tan. Sandy blonde hair, fierce blue eyes and a killer smile. Her hands were average size with long nail beds; her nails had always been her pride and joy. Always trimmed a half inch past the finger tip and always neatly manicured. Feeling creative, she gets out a bottle of polish that looks white but goes on sheer but whitens the nails ... makes them look very clean and the color has a slight bluish tint to it that looks almost frosted. Stacey finished them with two top coats of clear that dried quickly.
Glancing beside her on the night stand she saw a dog-eared ad card, hawking several businesses and services. Curious, she reads
'Modeling ... $150/per hour ... no experience needed. Be the next supermodel! Call 1-800-GRT-LOOK 24 hours a day'
Dialing on a whim, she thinks to herself «I wonder what the catch is going to be this time..»
Half expecting a machine, she's surprised when the line picks up on the second ring and a melodious voice answers. "Hello - this is Ms. Johnson with Modeling Concepts. Can I help you?"
my name is Stacey Hansen. I wanted to find out some information on a modeling
job. Saw your ad here, that say you pay up to one-fifty per hour; is that correct?"
"Yes, Stacey it is, but the rate is $150 per hour. Not up to..."
Stacey looked carefully at the card again and saw that it did state just that. She apologized, letting her cool interview persona drop a little, continuing "Pardon me; I'm a little skeptical. That's a very good rate, but I was hoping for a bit more, given my experience." «Which so far has been bra ads for the local dry goods store, but this outfit doesn't need to know that!» she thought to herself.
Ms. Johnson responded, "I know; however in this day and age all things are not possible... I do understand your desire, but what we offer is a very legitimate position as well as being cutting edge; the technology we use is extremely advanced and unduplicatable by anyone else today."
Stacey thought very quietly to herself... «If this job is only modeling, why does it need to be so high tech?» then quickly she stated that same question to the woman on the phone, who seemed trustworthy.
Ms. Johnson continued, "Well, first we need to determine if you are right for us and if we are right for you. It's a very unique position we are placing our models in. Does that sound fair?"
"Yeah, I have to agree ... I guess," Stacey replied.
Ms. Johnson made the close by saying "Hey Stacey ... I know you must be very busy just like we are over here at Concepts ... so can I just put you in for an appointment tomorrow morning? Come in, take a look at what we're offering. Like an interview; it could be a very profitable one for you."
At that moment Stacey realized that if this worked out it would save her much time cold-calling on the phone today and cab fare going from one interview to another and all the hassle that would entail. This all seemed so easy; it was the first number she had tried. Excited about the possibility of taking in 150 bucks per hour she responded to the Johnson woman's question with a decisive "YES - Let's do it!"
"OK, then, so 9 am sharp at the address on the card; oh yeah, by the way, don't wear any make up. OK?"
"No makeup!?!?" Stacey blurted ... She had never gone on an assignment without her 'face' on.
'Yes; I know that must seem unusual. We will have to do some custom color matching for you and it just saves time and effort for us not to have to remove any make up to begin with."
"Oh OK ... That makes sense ... sort of. Ummm, no make up then."
"Great, Stacey," Ms. Johnson wrapped up the call. "So I'll see you tomorrow at 9. Have a great day and night. GoodBye."
"Bye, Ms. Johnson." Stacey said, putting the receiver back in its cradle. «Wow! Kinda made one phone call and just changed my whole life?… Noooo, it couldn't be that simple. Could it?»
Suddenly her day had opened up and instead of stuck in her hotel room, Stacey decides to take in the town some, and heads out without knowing exactly what to expect. As it turns out, that is the right attitude for this city. After 11 pm, she returns in good spirits but tired out again. Calling the front desk, she requests a wake up at 7:30 am, then touches up her nail polish. Checking her nail surface on her top lip to see if they are dry enough to go to sleep, she realizes one of the things she loves about having long nails is the smoothness of the polish on them. Smiling to herself she slides down into the sheets and hits the remote to turn the TV off. Because it's been such a long day she does drift off to sleep with no problems.
In her dreams, though, she sees many people around her wearing fancy clothes as if they are all at a party ... everybody is very festive but the odd thing is that although she herself is walking around them she notices that everyone else present is ... is ... not moving ... like they are a picture that you can walk around in ... there is something else. Everyone is so perfect, they all look as if they are Mannequins. She walks over to the side wall where there is a bar and sees the Bartender ... he is moving ... very alive, and kind of cute. She orders her drink, then asks 'why are these people not moving?' He simply replies 'oh .. That's because they are working ... kinda like just being the beautiful people that they are. You look very beautiful, too, if I say so...' At that moment she hears the bar phone ring and she notices that the bartender isn't answering it ... she then asks why he isn't answering and he says. 'because it's for you... Time to go to work, beautiful.'
At that instant Stacey wakes up, her heart racing, and realizes the phone in the room is really ringing. Anxiously, she pick it up..."Hello" is all she gets out before a recorded mechanical voice tells her it is 7:30 in the morning and this is your wake up call. "Oh, OK, thanks." She replies groggily to the recording and sits up on the edge of the bed. Time to get ready for a new day.
«Well, if I am not wearing make up I'm not gonna dress up, either» she figures. Stacey slips on a nice pair of shrunk-to-fit jeans and a crisp white blouse along with her sneakers. Without makeup she decides she looks almost like she is back in school.and so brushes her mid-back length hair out, pulling it back into a pony tail tied with a rubber band. No makeup kit or clothes bag, she grabs her purse and calls a cab feeling very liberated. Minutes pass, she begins to fret about missing her appointment. Upon the cab's arrival she tells the driver to go to the address on the card. "Ahh, the driver replies .. that's the SouthEnd Mall. Very fancy; an excellent location." Thirty-five minutes later they arrive.
"How much do I owe you?" Stacey asks, pulling out her money, figuring in a reasonable tip.
The driver then says ... "Nothing - it is already taken care of."
Stacey gasps as her jaw drops open. Things like that just never happen, especially
in this city.
The driver grinned back at her confusion. 'Hey, if you have an appointment it is better to be early, isn't it? Time's a-wasting, Miss Hansen."
"Umm yeah, I guess," Stacey uttered, totally perplexed. Before she could ask the cabbie any questions, he waves and drives away quickly.
She looks at the address on the card, noticing 'suite 330' and seeing the elevator just inside the entrance. «Hmm. I guess it is the top floor» She checks the info bulletin on the inside of the front entrance and within 5 minutes she standing outside a curtained wall labeled with chrome letters reading '330'. Quietly she knocks.... there is no response. Just as she is about to knock harder she hears talking, then a young lady emerges from the door, talking to someone behind her, before asking. "Yes? Can I help you?"
"M.. My name is Stacey Hansen..." she stutters, suddenly nervous. Easy or not, this is an interview.
"Oh yes. Ms. Hansen - the nine. I'm Glad you are here; come on in and we can get things rolling. I'm Ms. Johnson - we spoke on the phone..." the lady said, talking over her shoulder as they walked into the almost bare reception area. Stopping in the center of the room at a small raised platform about 2' by 2' square, she continued. "Would you please step up here, Ms. Hansen?" She pointed with her free hand.
"Call me Stacey if you want," she said, stepping confidently onto the platform and moving to the center. Noticing there are overhead lights focused on this spot, she wonders what kind of stage setup it is.
"Sure; I go by Cindy, by the way," the young lady replies.
"OK. Cindy it is." Self-consciously, Stacey puts her arms behind her back.
'Good. Now, Stacey, I'll start by telling you just what it is that we do here. Modeling Concepts are contracted by many many Retailers to do high-end visual merchandising. Although it can be accomplished in many ways, we concentrate on static Living Mannequin modeling here.
Stacey wasn't sure she had heard right. "Stati... livin'... who?"
"Static.. Living.. Mannequins," Cindy repeated slowly. "You know. Freeze modeling, Window modeling, Tableaux... and the like."
'You mean, you have people stand still and not move for like a long time? I could never do that. I mean ... I am way too shy and I just couldn't
well for $150 an hour maybe... but ... it is..." Stacey reddened, knowing she was blowing the interview.
"Well," Cindy interrupted with a quick smile. "What if I told you that every reason you mentioned for not being able to do this kind of modeling, I can promise that there is nothing that our technology cannot overcome."
Stacey calmed down a bit. "I'm kinda lost now... how can any technology do that? I've been shy even since grade school."
"Well, Stacey. first I want to ask you to do something for me really quick. Trust me, if you would, this isn't a test or anything like that."
"Sure.." Stacey replied, taking a deep breath and trying to calm down.
"Stand with your left arm out, as if you are holding a palm mirror, and pose your other arm as if you are putting on lip gloss; now hold that position for two minutes ... can you do that for me?"
"I guess so... OK; I will." Stacey agreed, assuming the position just as Cindy described and tried to will herself to be very still. She could see Ms. Johnson glancing at the wall clock's sweep second hand as the time seemed to crawl by. 1 minute ..... 2 minutes finally passed. Stacey wondered what was next.
"OK, Stacey, time. How was that?" Cindy announced finally. "You can relax now."
"Not very good," Stacey responded honestly. "I know I was like moving and it felt very strange posed like that. Well, kinda silly... I am very shy."
"Well, Stacey, we have a way to make posing motionless as effortless as it is for you to breathe; actually even less effort than that." Cindy stated.
"I don't understand... What are you talking about?"
'First of all, we have Technology that can bypass you altogether." Cindy said with a wry smile.
"Me ... bypass Me!? What do you mean by that?" Stacey hadn't ever heard of such a thing, even from her brother's geeky friends.
"This firm have adopted what is called 'Neural Mapping and Manipulation' technology. That's a big term to describe exactly how we can bypass you, but in practice the device is easy to operate. We simply use a small NMM unit, like this one in my hand, to chart the entire Neural Network of your body and then send impulses to the various voluntary muscles to hold you in a selected pose or have you assume any pose we deem necessary to get the visual merchandising job done. You don't even have to lift a finger." Cindy smiled knowingly.
Quickly Stacey looks at the door she entered from as her first possible exit. This situation was giving off a Twilight Zone like vibe that kind of scared her and at the same time brought other emotions to mind. «Relax. Stacey» she tells herself. «It is just an interview. OK? OK! It is just an interview. You can walk out of here at any time...» Yet she hadn't done that. Stacey notices that she is very wet ... and her crotch is on fire ... she smiles and thinks «Why is this whole freeze mess turning me on? Think about how helpless you would be...» Then at that moment her skeptical side breaks through. This was too bizarre to be real. " I don't really think that this mapping stuff you talked about is possible anyway. I know if I wanted to move, I'd just - move - no matter what you think that MMM gimcrack can do. It's just too far out for me to believe."
"Well, Stacey, that is a fair statement; believe me, the first time I heard about it I was looking around for the hidden camera! Now at this point, all I can offer you is to no longer waste any of your time trying to convince you and actually show you exactly how it works. Once again, you have to trust me. Are you interested?"
The part of her being that was aroused elbowed her skeptical side into the background and replied. "Yeah. I want to be shown, but I still have doubts."
me." Cindy suggests. They both proceed to a back room, behind another set
of doors. Inside, the decoration is not as fancy. Stacey recognizes a large
free-standing wardrobe and all the makings of a full blown dressing room - make
up mirrors and everything. "Let's get you dressed and made up for your
demonstration. Here at Model Concepts we find that appearance helps the experience.
Let me help you..." Three quarters of an hour later Cindy had Stacey looking
like a living doll. She was dressed in a French maid's outfit that flattered
her figure nicely, flawless makeup with shiny red lips, 5" heels and shiny hosery
along with another coat of clear polish on her nails. With Stacey feeling like
someone at a costume ball, out to the platform they both went again. This time
the idea of the posing platform wasn't so intimidating. «This is a blast,»
Stacey thought .. «I mean, it's fun playing dress up!» She smiled
very widely, remembering how sexy she looked in the mirrors.
"OK, Stacey," Cindy Johnson said, "this is the moment of truth... Are we right for you?"
"Sure," she agreed, nodding, maybe a bit too quickly.
"OK. Now lets see if you are right for us ... lift your hair up to expose the back of your neck." Stacy did as asked. Preparing her neck to receive the NMM unit, Cindy then placed the small silver wonder right over the small spinal bump on Stacey's neck pressing down slightly. Something felt cool to the model, and wet, but the sensation passed. "OK, it is done," Cindy concluded.
"Is that it? I mean is that all you have to do? That thing sure sounded more complicated."
"Yes, Stacey, that's it. The NMM is in place. Now, up on the platform again. Place your feet apart slightly and your hands as you were in your two minute pose before.." Cindy instructed.
complied. "Is this OK?'
"Yes, dear; hold it like that for a short time..." At that moment Stacey felt a tingle go through her entire body but she was able to say. "Hey... I can still move... Didn't you say that widget would hold me still?"
Cindy said, "All in due time; we just placed that pose of yours in the NMM's memory. That takes care of your objection of not thinking that you could do this pose. Now let's go outside and take care of another objection you had..."
"What is that?" Stacey asked. "The my being shy part?"
the being shy part, dear." They walked towards the elevators. In her excitement,
Stacey had forgotten her new appearance.
Since it was by now almost 11 am, the Mall was getting very busy with early lunch traffic. Stacey followed Ms. Johnson unknowingly, wondering what Cindy was about to do. As they went out into the Mall there were people everywhere, all smiling at Stacey because she looked extremely nice. They reached a small island near one of the stairways and stepped over a low raised border that separated the display area from the walkway.
'OK, come over here, stand up on this platform, and don't get off of it; OK?" Cindy directed the model. There was another low posing stand there.
"Got it. I won't budge," Stacey said, while thinking to herself «I am not from around here - so I don't know any of these people - and they don't know me from any other crazy model...»
Just then Cindy gave Stacey a compact mirror and a stick of lip gloss and said for her to hold them in her hands as if she were using them but to keep her hands at her sides. Stacey does as she is asked, wondering idly how long this 'interview' is going to last. Cindy, holding a small box in her hand, starts to adjust various knobs and controls on the box that activates the NMM.
Stacey feels a tingle again in her body. She can tell that Cindy is controlling the intensity of the sensation as she feels her pelvic and stomach muscles shift into the exact position they were in earlier without any effort on her part.
By now the activity has attracted a few passersby, mostly men, and she sees many people staring at her. Stacey is trying to stay calm.
She realizes she is losing control of her arms as they start slightly slowly moving back on their own into their previous pose as the intensity increases.
She tries to push them back down, but her thoughts are being bypassed. Her hand stops, holding the lipstick up to her face while the other hand holds a mirror that she gazes into... "No! " I won't do this," she tries to say, but nothing happens. She can feel her expression changing to one of haughty concentration. Seeing Cindy making more adjustments, Stacey notices more people start to walk over to her, just looking at her posed figure.
She tries to speak again, but nothing comes out. Just the she feels a huge increase in the tingling and her pose is solidified in an instant. She tries to move but she can't. Her body is as still as a statue. «I... I CAN'T MOVE! I CAN'T MOOVE...» she thinks, because she is now Immobilized. Frozen. Posed for all the Mall to see. Cindy is looking at her, smiling broadly as she talks into a cell phone. Stacey watches people watching her, thinking simply «I am a Mannequin - I Can't Move - I'm just a Mannequin..» Within a few minutes, two guys come out and lift her stiffened figure onto a dolly; everyone stares and follows as they take her back upstairs and set her up inside the main office on the central platform.
Cindy presses another control, the curtains covering the wall part, revealing a glass display window that opens out into the hallway. A few people that had followed them upstairs and now gaze into the office. "Do you feel that being shy would affect your performance now, Stacey?"
Of course Stacey could not answer Ms. Johnson but in her mind she formed the words... No, it doesn't matter at all.
Stacey felt the release of the pose. Suddenly her body was her own to control again. She relaxed, then smiled. "Wow! I couldn't move... couldn't move anything... just like you said. I was frozen. I was a Mannequin. Wow...."
"Yes," Cindy responded, "that's exactly what you were. I want you to meet some of your co-workers now; Mannequins just as you are... "
Just at that moment Stacey felt a tingle and her body locked up; her arms bent at the elbows with her hands palms down fingers cocked, nails very visible, glistening in the overhead light as her head turned slightly and a big Dolly face and smile emerged from her luscious red lips. The workmen returned with two figures draped in sheets. They were brought out in front of her, facing the newest mannequin model. Cindy uncovered the first one, "Stacey I would love for you to meet Jennifer." The mannequin was posed in exactly the same position as herself and dressed in the same costume but with red nails. Then Cindy uncovered the second figure and said "I'm pleased to introduce you to Lisa. The third mannequin model was posed with her right hand on her hip and the other behind her head. Just as motionless as she was. "These are your co-workers Stacey; they will be with you in the displays always. You'll all work together from now on."
At that moment Stacey's odd dream came back to her in an eerie flash. In her mind she said ... I am working... I am a living Mannequin.
No this is not the end