Helga Hoffmeier’s insane giggle was becoming like an echo, as the white smoke from the old woman’s ‘Hypno Hose’ assaulted Penny’s nose and mouth. Penny sensed that she had to get away quickly, or become an empty-eyed slave like her friend Charlotte Wingate, before the detective’s transformation into a living hosiery poster. But the drug worked faster than Penny could physically respond. And in just a moment, the old woman removed her stockinged foot, and whispered in Penny’s ear: "You belong to me now." And Penny’s wide open, blank stare was her assent.
The shop owner stood over the prone and nearly nude Penny. "Your detective friend provided an annoying - but ultimately rewarding - interruption to our experiment, Penny dear. But now it is time to resume." Penny said nothing, staring blankly at the ceiling.
"You will do exactly what I say, Penny. Now, please get up and stand in place." Penny did as she was instructed. Helga continued to talk as she walked back to the main counter. "I am in control now. You will do only what I say to do. Say only what I tell you to say. And think only the thoughts I give you permission to think." She retrieved the golden package containing the robotic catsuit, and carried it back to Penny. "Now, I want you to go back to the dressing room and put the catsuit on. When you come back, I will have my specially designed remote, and I will activate the special microchips. Once that is done, the circuitry will begin to supplant your nervous system, your organs, even your genetic code. You will become a walking display - a living statue, if you will. And in return for my gift of immortality to you, you will make me the most famous scientist in history." Helga paused. "I feel I should laugh maniacally about now, but my throat hurts a little. Go to the dressing room while I find some Sucrets." Penny took the package, and walked slowly back to the dressing area. "As you change, Penny, think only how wonderful it will feel to be a beautiful mannequin forever."
In the dressing room, Penny began carefully slipping on the gold studded bodystocking. Just as Dr. Hoffmeier ordered, she began to imagine herself standing motionless as people admired her beauty and perfection. She imagined her body beginning to move as Helga pushed the buttons of the special remote control, and Penny heard the audience gasp as the beautiful nylon encased mannequin became a beautiful stringless puppet, striking sexy poses and tantalizing onlookers. Penny felt her own desires grow as she imagined this future. And when the nylon suit was completely on, and Penny saw herself in the dressing room mirror, her pleasure practically exploded, hesitating only because Dr. Hoffmeier had not given such permission.
The main counter was a shambles, resulting from Helga’s frantic search for the fedora she had used to complete Charlotte Wingate’s pre-posterizing ensemble. Not only were the Sucrets hidden from view, but the special remote for the robotic catsuit was missing as well. Hoffmeier searched once more in the drawer where she had retrieved the bodystocking. There were some notes she had scribbled in the design process, and a second catsuit containing the special microprocessing studs. (This was a black leather suit with chrome studs - stunning, but not a match for Penny’s wholesome sexuality.) She tossed it and the notes aside and felt in every corner of the drawer. Still no remote. Angrily, she swept everything off the counter. Only minutes away from the culmination of her work, and it might be all for naught because of a missing remote.
The doctor moaned as she put her head down on the now empty counter. She was wondering how long it would take to fashion a new remote, when she looked to the side - and smiled. Penny’s short reprieve - from robotic transformation and from the doctor’s insane cackle - was over. There wedged together in a back corner was a small box of Sucrets, and the special remote. But as Helga grasped them, the front door burst open and a loud, very irritating voice bounced off the shop walls.
"Okay, where is that damn detective! We’ve got some business to settle!"
Hoffmeier immediately realized that she had failed to relock the front door after Penny’s detective friend had forced her way in by gunpoint. And while an accidental visit from some unsuspecting customer may have provided a brief but easily corrected interruption to her scientific history making plans for the evening, this situation appeared to be more daunting.
"I’m talking to you, old lady. Where is that Wingate bitch?" The ear-splitting shrieks came from a tall brunette with hair just recently (and inexpensively) coiffed, excessive makeup ruined by tears, and a too tight cocktail dress with matching four inch heels and apparently four inch layer of toenail polish that could best be described as Streetwalker chic - if one was in the mood to unfairly insult prostitutes.
Helga stepped from in back of the counter, leaving the special remote and throat lozenges behind. "I’m sorry but the store is closed for the day. If you’ll come back tomorrow perhaps I can help you . . . ."
"I didn’t come here to buy any of your crap. I came to settle a score with Charlotte Wingate. Now that’s her car out front, so I know she’s in here - probably hiding in the back, the picture-takin, life-ruinin, snoopy bitch. And I want a piece of her." The young woman started toward the back and the dressing rooms, but Helga quickly stepped in front of her. The store owner took a quick look around, but saw no trapping devices to catch the intruder. Not that she’d want to put her on display in the store, but she had to keep her from discovering Penny.
Before the two could clash, another young woman came running in the front door, breathless. "At least you could wait until I stopped the car to get out, Tania," she said catching her breath. When she saw that her friend appeared ready to physically assault an older woman, the latecomer walked quickly between the two and faced Tania.
"Jesus, Tania, don’t you think you’re in enough trouble without causing more?"
"But, Connie, that detective ruined everything. She took my pride, my dignity, and my man, just like that," Tania snapped her fingers.
"Maybe your pride and your dignity - but the problem was, he was somebody else’s man," Connie said sharply, but softly, calming her friend slightly. "Look, that detective was just doing her job. I say leave it alone. Besides," Tania’s more rational - not to mention more reasonably dressed in a blouse, jeans, and boots - friend looked quickly around the store. "I don’t see that detective anywhere."
Tania let out an angry grunt, and walked away from Connie and Helga, to the other side of the store. She looked up and down the aisles near the nylons and lingerie, partly to make sure Charlotte Wingate wasn’t hiding, but also to calm down a little.
Connie tried to make amends with Helga. "I’m really sorry. My friend’s just been through a really bad break-up with her, uhh, boyfriend. She went looking for the detective that the man’s wife had hired, and she thought she saw her car parked out front . . ."
"I didn’t ‘think’ I saw the car - that’s her car!" Tania added, but not as hostile as before.
"Anyway, we’re really sorry if we scared you." Connie finished.
Helga wasn’t really sure what to do. She wanted the two young women to leave quickly. But they had seen Charlotte Wingate’s car in front. It would do no good now to have her usual ‘helpers’ get rid of the vehicles before the owners were missed. "I understand how you must feel, Miss . . . ?"
"Tintorelli." Tania answered.
"Uhh, yes, Miss Tintorelli. But as I told you before, your detective acquaintance hasn’t been in my shop. I’m not sure why she parked out front. Perhaps she’s involved with some dangerous case." Helga was proud of the way she denied seeing Charlotte, while planting the notion of physical danger in the two girls’ minds. They might communicate that to police officers later if they are questioned about Charlotte’s disappearance.
"You’re probably right, ma’am," Connie offered. "I wish there was some way we could repay you - maybe if we picked something out and bought it."
"Oh, that’s not necessary. Besides, as I told your friend, I’m actually closed." Helga tried to hint for the two to leave, but Connie had made her mind up to ‘settle up’ for Tania’s outburst.
"Oh, we’ll just be a couple of minutes. C’mon, Tania, pick something out. I could use some fishnet tights," she saw the counter holding packages of the sexy legwear. "What about you, Tania? Maybe some tights, or it looks like they sell some nice nylons and garters here." Connie noticed that Tania was lingering in that section.
"I don’t like garters - they grab and pinch too much. And I’m not too crazy about tights either," she directed a little more bile at Helga and her merchandise. "I don’t think attractive legs need to be covered."
While Helga was dealing with the intrusion and its aftermath, Penny remained motionless in the dressing room, now fully attired in the nylon suit she would wear as a living mannequin. Since the shop owner had been detained longer than she had planned, Penny was ‘stuck’ on Helga’s last command: imagining her life as a computerized, robotic, nyloned model. The pleasure of that fantasy continued to induce an intense response of physical pleasure, which was outside the scope of Helga’s instructions. That ‘battle’ was beginning to strain the power of Helga’s hypnotic gas, already depleted by its use on Charlotte Wingate.
Penny’s hands remained motionless at her side for several minutes. But as she stared at herself in the mirror, and continued to mentally explore the image Helga had planted in her mind, the blonde captive reached up and gently stroked her nylon sheathed legs. The physical pleasure increased exponentially. Penny began to breathe faster now, and her increased need for oxygen made her draw in more fresh air, that further diluted the hypnotic gas. It was all moving very fast now: the fantasy, her image in the mirror, her stroking, her breathing, some quiet but intense moans, and then . . .
Not only from the pent up pleasure her situation had created. But release from the firm grip of Helga’s hypnotic vapor. In a day filled with tragedy and horror and a great deal of misfortune, Penny Hoze did catch a very important lucky break. The cry that rang out at her peak of self-pleasuring - a cry that normally would have brought Helga Hoffmeier rushing to the dressing room to insure that her beautiful captive would not escape - came at the same moment Tania Tintorelli burst in the front door and screamed: "Where is that damn detective?"
Even though Penny was not under the full power of Helga’s hypnotic commands, the residual effect of the hypnotic drug left her dazed and groggy, unable to move quickly or sure of foot. She sat on the dressing room chair, hoping that Helga would not come in back with her special remote. If she did so, Penny’s newfound freedom would be short lived, and the microchip studs in her bodystocking would seal her fate. She realized then that the bodystocking had to come off. But if she wasn’t wearing it, Helga would know the gas had worn off, and use another of her traps to keep Penny in the store, perhaps even turning her into some other kind of hosiery display.
No, she had to take a chance on leaving the suit on and pretending to be still under Helga’s power. Maybe she could figure out a way to subdue the shop keeper, before the shop keeper used her remote to subdue Penny. Permanently.
The loud argument continued in the shop, and Penny realized there were other people with Helga. Her hopes leaped - the police perhaps? She cautiously made her way to the dressing room door to peek into the store. Surely these visitors could help her in some way.
As Penny tried to plot some avenue of escape, Helga Hoffmeier was losing patience with her two ‘unexpected’ customers.
"I don’t mean to be rude," started the shop keeper, looking directly at Tania as she emphasized the word ‘rude,’ "but it is getting late, and I need to lock up and head home for the day." Helga looked for support from Connie, who was leafing through packages in Helga’s new fishnet tights display. "Please feel free to pick something out and take it with my compliments - consider it some compensation for your rough day." Surely the combination of unsubtle hints and free stuff would prompt the unwelcome visitors to exit the shop before something else went wrong.
Tania grumbled. "The only compensation I want is to get my fingernails on the eyeballs of that Dick-less Tracy who ruined my life!"
"Tania! God, what a mouth on you!" Connie said, her apologetic support beginning to wane. "This lady’s being really nice and really patient, and all you can do is give her grief." The auburn haired beauty was holding a package of black fishnet pantyhose. "I think these would really look great on me." She looked toward the back of the shop, craning her neck to see around the large middle sales counter. "Is there someplace I could try these on?"
Helga only half heard Connie’s question, as her attention was directed toward Tania on the other side of the store. The angry brunette was moving closer to the poster of Charlotte Wingate in the far corner of the stockings section. Would she recognize the detective in her sexy garb? How would Helga explain that away? And what was it the other one had just asked - trying something on? No, impossible.
In the next few seconds, several things occurred that sealed Tania and Connie’s fate. Tania raised her eyes from the stockings and garters display to the large poster of a sexily clad private eye on the nearby wall. Connie moved closer to the dressing area to get a better look at what lie beyond a back doorway. And a confused, groggy, but still curious Penny Hoze moved to the dressing room entrance to get a better look at what was happening on the shop floor, putting her in plain sight of Connie’s glance.
Connie spoke first. "Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am - I didn’t know there was someone in back. We’ve interrupted something."
And then Tania. "Wait a minute - this poster, or picture - the detective. Connie, that’s the detective! That’s a picture of Charlotte Wingate! She has been here!"
And that’s when Helga Hoffmeier knew that her late visitors would have to remain at the store longer than she had planned. Much, much longer . . . .
"I knew it! I knew that old bag was lying to us! She’s known that detective all along - hell, she’s probably some sort of partner. Now what do you have to say, Miss ‘ I don’t know what you’re talking about’?" An angry, but rather self-satisfied Tania turned to face the shop owner, as she raised her voice in mockery of the old woman. The trashy-dressed firebrand expected to see Helga non-plussed as a result of her accusations, but strangely enough, Helga’s expression was one of calm amusement.
"All I can say is: I think your observation is correct." Helga stated, and nonchalantly raised her remote.
"You’re damn right my ‘observation is correct’! And since you admit the two of you are in this together, tell me where she’s hiding." Tania’s anger and attention were so focused on Helga’s placid countenance, that the young woman didn’t notice the older woman point her remote at a set of cabinets beneath the display of stockings, and punch in a series of numbers.
"You misunderstand, my dear," Helga said calmly, "I didn’t mean your observation about my supposed alliance with Charlotte Wingate."
Before Tania could respond, she heard a loud rumbling noise in the lower cabinets behind her. At first, she wondered what could be making such a racket, and then she believed she knew the answer. With a wide, wicked grin, she put her finger to her lips to quiet the shop keeper and her friend, Connie, and quietly moved toward the handle of the cabinet. She was certain that she had found Charlotte’s hiding place, but she continued her discussion with Helga Hoffmeier to make the hiding sleuth believe she was still undiscovered. "Oh, really. Well, then, which of my ‘observations’ were you agreeing with?" Tania reached toward the cabinet, preparing to jerk it open and pounce on Charlotte Wingate.
"Oh, you’re earlier observation regarding garters. How they pinch and are very uncomfortable. I couldn’t agree more." As Helga finished her explanation, Tania flung open the cabinet door - and like the old ‘compressed snakes in the can’ novelty trick, hundreds of garters flew out of the cabinet and began attaching themselves to Tania Tortellini’s body.
The garters were all shapes and sizes and fabrics. Black leather garters flew into Tania’s mouth and wrapped around her head, making an effective gag. White and pink frilly garters flew around her wrists and ankles, causing the young woman to lose her balance and topple to the floor. Amid her muffled screams, the garters kept pouring out of the cabinet. Old fashioned white garters with metal clips not only landed all over the girl’s writhing form, but the the clips began shearing their way through the fabric of Tania’s clothes and the metal of her jewelry. Long elastic garters attached one of their ends to Tania’s spiked heels and tattered dress, and their other end to nearby cabinet doors, and then began to pull, quickly removing her shoes, and then pulling her tight dress down over her feet.
Tania continued to struggle on the floor, while her friend Connie stood in shock witnessing the scene. When the garters finally sheared off what remained of Tania’s flimsy bra and bikini panties, the microchip enhanced strips began stretching toward the ceiling, their lower ends still holding the brunette firmly in their grasp. Still unable to speak, Connie heard the whirr of machinery, and looked up to see cables attached to winches approaching the area over the gartered girl. Two of the cables were lowered (by Helga’s remote) toward Tania’s head and feet, and several garters attached themselves to the cables. The motorized winch then began to lift the nude young woman off the floor.
Connie finally yelled, "Tania! Oh my God, Tania!" And rushed toward her airborne friend. But sensing another presence approaching, additional garters stretched toward the approaching Connie, and snapped like lunging cobras at the screaming girl. Connie stopped short and drew back from the attack. She shot an entreating look at Helga, but the old woman simply shook her head as if to say, "I’d steer clear of your friend and those garters, if I were you."
Once Tania’s writing body was lifted above the level of the display tables, Helga pushed more buttons on her remote. A long section of display shelving, holding a few leg mannequins and some small metal hosiery racks began tilting upward. The mannequins and racks remained stationary as they tilted sideways. Under the shelving was a long trough of a thick white goo. Connie gasped and then screamed, as she saw emerging from the goo the hardened upper torso of a nude female figure: waist, stomach, back, breasts, neck, face, and even long hair - all the same color of the goo from which it came. And judging from its relative position to the upward pointing legs on the tilted display top, this was a complete human figure.
Connie did not comprehend the purpose of this gooey substance as quickly as Tania did, judging from the wide eyes and increased struggling the nude captive made as the cables carried her toward the trough. But the horror of it dawned soon enough as the cables and garters began to lower Tania toward the goo.
"No! Stop it! Tania, oh Tania, no!" Connie cried, but to no avail. With her body just inches from the surface of the transforming liquid, the garters released their hold on Tania, and the lovely girl dropped into the sticky solution. There were only a few kicks and struggles, as the goo began hardening Tania immediately. As her body submerged in the white paste, the display counter began rising back into position, and in seconds covered the transforming trough completely.
Connie appeared to be halfway between a horrible scream and a dead faint, taking rapid and short breaths, and swaying back and forth. Penny also looked on in horror, for the brunette visitor who had suffered this ordeal, for her friend who witnessed the act and who no doubt was next on Helga’s list, and for Penny herself. In addition to the traps she had endured, the lovely blonde had now witnessed Helga’s third transformation. Each unique in its brilliance and evil. The scientist’s power seemed unlimited, and unstoppable. How did she ever think she could escape from this shop of terror?
The malevolent shop keeper walked over to the counter, pulled down a small panel on its end, and punched several keys contained within. In seconds, another motor inside the long display could be heard, but this time the display top did not raise. Instead, there were a number of short ‘thumps,’ and then a long whooshing sound.
"I want to apologize, my dear, for that horrible sight. It was unintended, I assure you." Helga said to a puzzled Connie. Did the old woman mean to say that Tania’s capture and dunking in this gooey ‘coffin’ was an accident?
But Helga clarified her comment. "That upper torso you saw should have been removed weeks ago, immediately after the nylon mannequin was made. I suppose something interrupted me, and I lost my train of thought. That sort of thing happens when you get to be my age."
Connie was still speechless, and watched in self-paralyzing shock as Helga squatted down and opened a larger panel at the same end of the display case. She looked inside, reached in with both arms, and pulled out the top half of a plastic mannequin. The same one that had been attached to the rising lid moments before.
"There now - oh, dear, just as I thought," she said, inspecting her weeks old creation. "She has spent too long in the solution to be of any modeling use. I’ll have to simply pulverize her into instant mannequinizing powder. Such a waste - she was quite pretty, you know."
Helga looked in again, and rose back up, smiling. "But fortunately, that is not the case with your attractive friend, Tania. She appears to have hardened quite nicely. Of course, she did not seem to care much for my Hosiery Hut. So, I have made it possible for her to be of modeling service elsewhere." The old woman reached in, and pulled out two plasticized feet. "Lovely. Will make a nice ‘footie’ display at Sid’s Discount Shoes over on Williams Avenue." Next came a larger piece, this from just above the waist to the end of the calves. "Perfect for bicycle pants. Several sporting wear locations - have to check the yellow pages."
Penny was finding it difficult to look on, but noticed that Tania’s friend Connie was about to topple over. She wanted to yell out - tell her to run - but it probably woudn’t help Connie, and it would certainly spell her own demise.
Dr. Hoffmeier started to reach in again, but then pulled back up. "Wait a moment." She looked at the two sections of mannequinized Tania already removed. "This could cause problems." She walked back over to the main sales counter, picked something up, and returned to the display case. She picked up one of the plasticized feet, and began writing on it. "’Sid’s Discount.’ Yes, that should help me remember."
Connie finally snapped out of her shock. "Oh my God! Tania! No! No!"
Helga was writing on the buttocks part of the future Speedo display. She looked up as Connie yelled out. "Oh, don’t fret my dear. It’s not a permanent marker. This will wipe right off."
Helga’s calm but completely insane reply was the last straw for the attractive friend. She started backing slowly toward the door, but then turned and bolted for the front entrance. Helga quickly pointed her remote and punched in the door code. It snapped lock just as Connie reached for the handle. The young woman shook the door knob violently, and then pounded on the door itself, screaming for help. When she realized the futility of her efforts, she turned once more to the inside of the store. And saw Helga Hoffmeier walking slowly toward her.
"No. Stay away from me." Connie moaned in a low voice, moving away from the door and from the shop keeper, back toward the area she had been browsing in earlier.
Helga smiled. "If I remember correctly, you expressed an interest in ‘fishnet tights.’" She pointed the remote at the ceiling and punched in a new code. Connie followed the track of the remote, and looked up to see a giant net descend upon her. She put up her hands in defense, but the net came down on her hands and head, and the weight of it made the girl drop struggling to the floor.
"How about a ‘tight fishnet’ instead?" Helga quipped, and then giggled at her play on words. The net was tightening itself around Connie’s body, and in seconds it rendered her as helpless as the attacking garters had made Tania moments before.
Whatever thoughts Penny may have had about making a run for it were quashed by the sight of the garter and fishnet traps Helga had unleashed on her unsuspecting visitors. Who knew what else Helga had up her sleeve around the store? Penny felt the last ounce of hope drain from her soul. There was no escape from Helga’s Hosiery Hut. She looked up at the robotic hosiery display on the side wall. And she hoped that life as a living mannequin - a nylon automaton - would not be too painful. And as her gaze swept back from the display to Helga kneeling beside her netted captive, Penny’s eyes fell on another of Helga’s hosiery displays, and the product packages beneath it. Maybe she still had a chance . . . .
While Penny retreated quietly to the dressing room to plot her last chance at escape, Helga Hoffmeier patiently explained what was happening to Connie.
"If only you and your friend would have left earlier," Helga began, as Connie writhed and moaned in her fishnet encasement. "Before seeing Ms. Wingate in the poster, or Ms. Hoze in the dressing room door …" Helga stopped abruptly, and turned quickly around toward the dressing room. No one was standing there. She breathed a sigh of relief. "You had me worried there for a moment, my dear. I certainly wouldn’t want to lose my ‘lucky’ Penny."
"Please, let me go. I won’t tell anyone what I’ve seen." Connie managed to mumble through the close-knit netting.
Helga shrugged. "Chances are, no one would believe you anyway. But that no longer matters. Fate has brought you to me, and science will make you one of my beautiful displays. Forever!" Helga began to laugh, and then coughed. "Aaagghh, my throat! Excuse me." She opened the tin of Sucrets she had retrieved and pocketed earlier, popped one in her mouth. "And this has been such a good day for evil laughter. Drat these sinuses."
If the attacking garter belts and the giant net hadn’t already convinced her, Connie now was certain she was dealing with a maniac. She tried to move her hands slightly, to make another appeal to the old woman, when the captive young woman realized something was wrong. "My blouse is coming apart - the seams are breaking - and my jeans as well - what’s happening?" She cried in a panicked voice.
Helga held up a finger as she rolled the throat lozenge into her cheek so she could talk. "I was just getting ready to tell you. The netting I dropped on you is similar to the fabric I use to make my fishnet pantyhose. BUT, it has a few enhancements." The old woman pointed at the fabric strands as Connie looked on in quizzical terror. "You see, this particular netting has three distinctly colored strands. There is a red strand, closest to your body. And then a green strand. And finally a very dark brown strand. And each fabric strand has been designed to effect three chemical and molecular changes. The red strand has been designed to dissolve all cloth and metal substances. That’s what’s happening to your clothes right now."
And it was true. Connie’s blouse was literally coming to pieces, as were her jeans. She was now clad in only her brassiere, panties, and boots, and the boots were half dissolved.
"Oh my God! Why? How? What are you going to do to me?"
"No need to fret, my dear. Trust me - once your clothes are gone, the other threads are not destructive."
By now, all that was left of Connie’s attire were the metal hooks of her bra, with a few strands of white cotton still attached, and her jewelry. And the red strands of the netting were gone as well. Connie began to feel a tingling throughout her skin, as the green strands began their work.
"This was the hardest part of my design. I’m more of an engineer than a geneticist. But, I was playing around with some dna one day in the lab, and discovered a way to initiate drastic molecular change combining radiated dna with my special fibers. And that’s what you’re feeling right now."
At first Connie expected to feel intense pain as she was deprived of her protective layer of clothing, and her skin was exposed to the netting. But the tingling had a numbing effect - almost pleasurable, in fact. Yet, the young woman knew that something strange was happening. As she lifted her head slightly to look down her body, she could saw a greenish tint. At first she thought it was simply the green strands of the fishnet. But then she realized that it was her skin becoming green. And changing, somehow. Melding. Fusing. The last thing she glimpsed before the numbness reached her head and she sunk back down was her feet and toes. Only there were no toes, and her feet were stuck together and less feet than something else. Something green, and wide, and flat, and more flexible than feet.
"Now, the green thread is almost gone, my dear," Helga said softly, "absorbed into the lovely scales covering you from above your waist down to your remarkable fin. It’s quite true that a mermaid is a mythical creature. But fish are not mythical. And neither are beautiful young women. All it takes is science ‘thinking outside the box,’ to combine the two. Which is what I’ve done for you, with the help of my special fishnet."
Helga smiled as she admired the beautiful mermaid that lay on the floor before her, covered now with one last thin layer of netting. But the transformed girl was too far gone for the shop keeper to worry that she would somehow break the thin netting holding her still. And there was still one more transformation - the most amazing of all - to go.
"The last thread is the most special of all, my lovely creature. The one that will make you a part of Helga’s Hosiery Hut forever." The scientist looked down to see the molecular change begin in Connie’s fin. The fan of green scales, flapping up and down just seconds ago, had become completely still, and was changing in color to a dark brown, and in substance to a hard, firm bronze.
"The dark thread has begun the final change. A very special chemical alteration. In some respects similar to what your friend, Tania, experienced in the mannequin goo. But much, much more special." Helga smiled proudly as the bronzing worked its way slowly up the girl/mermaid’s body. Like a film in time-lapse photography, each section of scales and skin changed into the preserving form of bronze. The half of Connie that had become fish was indeed impressive in its new metal form. But as the dark brown transformed the girl’s skin, well-shaped breasts and erect nipples, lovely shoulders and slender arms and delicate hands, and finally beautiful face and goddess-like hair - Helga was overcome by the beauty of her newest recipient of immortality.
The netting was completely gone now. All that lay on the floor before Helga Hoffmeier was the lifesize bronze statue of a lovely mermaid. Helga knelt in silent awe before this magnificent work of art.
But the silence was broken by the soft, but unmistakable sound of nylon tiptoeing on carpet. Helga continued to stare at Connie’s transformed body, but smiled knowingly. The effect of the Hypno-Hose had apparently worn off. And lovely Penny was trying to make a quiet escape. Helga still had one more display to create. The most special display of all.
The shop keeper activated another of the ubiquitous ceiling hooks, and it descended toward her newest display. She pretended that she didn’t know that Penny had left the dressing room and was somewhere on the sales floor. While she attached the hook onto the bronze mermaid with one hand, she placed her other hand on the special robotic remote in her skirt pocket. Helga punched in the command for the hook to raise the statue, and as the motor whirred to life, she spun around to see Penny searching the counter top and drawers of the main sales center.
"I see that you’re ‘up and about’, Ms. Hoze." Helga called out, and Penny stood bolt upright. Helga was relieved to see that her beautiful subject was still wearing the studded tan bodysuit. A foolish omission by the girl. But the scientist knew that she would have trapped Penny somehow, even wearing nothing at all. And Penny probably knew that, as well.
"I believe you are looking," Helga held up the special remote, "for this." Penny slowly backed away from the sales counter, and gave a couple of quick looks at the door.
"I know what you’re thinking, pretty Penny, and you’re right. It is too far for you to go. My special remote has excellent range, and can robotize you in mid-stride. Why adopt such an unartistic pose?"
Now Helga pointed the special remote directly at Penny across the room. "The time has come, Penny. Just like this lovely mermaid," she patted the suspended bronze statue, "and her friend. And your friends before them. Now it is your turn to join my hosiery displays. Don’t be afraid. The process should be quick and painless. You will hear a loud humming, and experience some vibration as the microstuds on your suit begin changing your internal nerve synapses. But that will last only a few seconds. And then you will become perfectly still. A mannequin of flesh and nylon. This is a special moment for you, Penny Hoze." The mad doctor pressed the command button, and a loud humming began. "And a great triumph for me."
Penny turned her back to the doctor, but it was too late. The humming continued as Helga Hoffmeier tried to laugh, but mainly coughed. Meanwhile, Penny’s nylon sheathed body began to vibrate just as the doctor had predicted. The young girl was jerking violently, but her feet remained planted in place. After a few seconds, Helga lowered the remote, and the humming ceased. Penny’s body spasmed a few more times, less violently now. And then, after a few more seconds, Penny’s body moved no more. She stood silent and still. The shop keeper looked across the room at the shapely form of Penny’s dainty feet, well developed calves, firm buttocks and trim waist, and smooth back, all covered in shiny tan bodystocking. And all irreversibly converted into a flesh covered puppet subject to the commands issued from Helga’s special remote. Penny’s chances had run out. She was now a living mannequin. The most special display in Helga Hoffmeier’s Hosiery Hut.
Once she stopped coughing, Helga smiled with glee, and turned her attention once more to the bronze mermaid display. She guided the free swinging statue over to a display case, and then directed the hook to lower the figure gently onto the display.
The transformed and immoratilzed Connie now lay on top of Helga’s display of fishnet pantyhose. The shop keeper opened a bottom cabinet, and pulled out a specially made sign she had prepared for just such an occasion. She affixed the sign to a small easel nest to the bronze mermaid, and then stepped back to read it. "’Mermaids aren’t comfortable in fishnet, but you will be. Take home a pair of Triton Tights. You’ll be a changed woman.’" Helga smiled. She liked that last line. Not all of the packages contained her unusual fishnet fibers, but selected women would be given the special tights to try on at home. And while the ‘Bronze Mermaid’ made Connie a special display, the pantyhose did come in different styles: ‘Ebony Sphinx’, ‘Golden Centauress’, and ‘Marble Lamia’ - to name a few. Yes, Helga believed this new product line would be quite successful.
The doctor finished her new display by draping a long thin piece of fishnet over the mermaid’s bronze bust. She then entered a code on the remote control that sent the still dangling hook and cable back to the ceiling. Helga then turned her attention to the most special display in the store:: the roboticized Penny Hoze. As Helga strode toward the inert blonde beauty, she surveyed the overall look of her living mannequin, pausing a moment to unwrap another throat lozenge and pop it in her mouth.
"Hmmm," she said in a disapproving tone, moving slowly toward Penny’s body, looking to the left and right, "I must say, my dear, that I am not pleased with your look in that bodysuit. I guess I expected more of a gleam - a shine. Perhaps I should have used the black, chrome studded suit. Of course, now that your biological circuitry has been completely altered, you can wear any outfit. The remote will act directly on your nerves and muscles." She came up directly behind Penny, inspecting her thoroughly, and shaking her head. "I’m just disappointed in the look of this garment. I made it special for this moment, and it doesn’t look any different than my regular line of bodysuits . . ."
Helga’s eyes suddently darted to the side, to the display of tan bodysuits with gold studs on a counter near the dressing room entrance. The same counter that had caught Penny’s attention while Helga had been overseeing Connie’s transformation.
Before Helga fully considered what might have happened, and could take steps to secure her captive, Penny quickly turned, and grabbed the remote out of the shocked shop keeper’s hand.
"No! It can’t be! I - I - captured you. Transformed you. You belong to me now!" The old woman lunged at the blonde beauty who had tricked her. "Give me that remote." She grabbed Penny’s arm. "You’re the same as all the others. Wicked and deceitful. You don’t deserve to be my special creation." The two continued to struggle. Despite her advanced age, Helga was gaining the advantage due to Penny’s slow recovery from the effects of the Hypno Hose gas. But just as the old woman thought she had her remote back, she felt her wrists being pricked.
"No, it can’t be!" she cried out, but before she could try to scratch the micro studs out of her wrists, Penny punched in the code she remembered Helga using earlier: 5 - 7 - 1. Penny just hoped that she had removed all of the studs from her own wrists. She would know the answer in seconds, as she saw a nylon stocking come flying toward the two women. But it went directly to Helga Hoffmeier, and wrapped itself around her wrists.
"You wicked, ungrateful creature!" Helga screamed, struggling to lose her tight nylon bind. "I was going to give you fame and immortality! And you turned against me!" The mad doctor continued to rant, in between attempting to bite herself free of Penny’s trap. Penny was trying to figure out how to stop sending the nylon ‘rope’ code, so that she could unlock the door before Helga managed to get free.
When the biting didn’t work, Dr. Hoffmeier tried beating her wrists against the sales counter top. But that turned out to be a very bad idea. The hard counter top broke open the gold bracelet containing the special micro studs, which then spilled down Helga’s entire body. Since Penny had not yet stopped the first code, nylon after nylon came flying toward the shop keeper, wrapping themselves around her bust and waist and legs, until she toppled to the floor - a virtual nylon mummy.
The sending code finally stopped - or else there were no more nylons to entrap the wicked doctor. With Helga firmly cocooned, Penny decided to retrieve her friends before leaving to get the police. She went to the counter where Nina’s grey pantyhosed legs pointed to the ceiling. She remembered the shop keeper pushing some sort of button on the end panel to raise the nylon stocking display on the other side of the store, and looked for a similar panel to raise the pantyhose display and figure out some way to remove Nina’s entire hardened body. But either this display had no such button, or it was hidden in such a fashion that only Helga Hoffmeier could find it.
Penny returned to the sales counter floor, and to Helga’s body lying on the floor. She planned to figure out a way to force the old woman into revealing how to free Nina from the display. Maybe even how to reverse the effect of the mannequizing - and give Charlotte back her third dimension. She looked down at the old woman, expecting to see a grimace of pain or fury. But she was surprised, and a little frightened, to see the old woman smiling, calmly sucking on her Sucrets.
"I know a little secret, pretty Penny. I just remembered something very important." She said, in an insane, sing-song voice.
"Yeah, you know lots of secrets. But the ones I want to know now are how to free Nina and Charlotte from their ‘displays.’" Penny tried to use a menacing voice, but menancing was not a posture the petite blonde was used to exercising.
"Oh, no, Ms. Hoze. I think you’ll want to know this secret. You see, my remote - the one you stole from me - controls everything in this shop. Advantage: Penny. But there is one thing I did create that I am able to activate with just my voice. And wouldn’t you know it, that ‘one thing’ is very, very close to you right now, Penny. In fact, it’s surrounding your entire body. Advantage: Me."
The old woman started to cackle, as Penny at first looked all around her, expecting to see something flying at her from the walls or ceiling, even from the carpet under her stockinged feet . . . . oh no, her stockinged feet! It couldn’t be, not after all she had gone through to trick the old woman and prepare for her escape. She felt the gold studs on her bodysuit, and quickly began feeling for the small hook on the back that fastened the suit onto her body.
"Those suits are a lot easier to get on than get off, aren’t they, Penny?" Helga laughed. "I have to admit, your switching bodysuits was very clever, but not clever enough. No one defeats Helga Hoffmeier in the Hosiery Hut." The old woman’s voice suddenly shifted from light to menacing. "You could’ve been my greatest creation. But now, after the studs induce a chemical reaction that will plasticize your entire body, you’ll just be another mannequin on a pedestal, or maybe a pair of nyloned legs sticking out of my display wall. The time has come, dear Penny. All it takes is a two word command. Studs!" She shouted. Penny felt the studs on her bodysuit begin to vibrate, and her skin develop a strange tingling sensation. This is it, Penny thought, one more word, and it’s over . . . .
"Now, I can finally have the last laugh," Helga let go an evil chortle as she prepared to shout ‘Plasticize’ and transform her unfortunate victim.
But the old woman forgot about the Sucrets in her mouth. And as she laughed and drew in a breath to doom Penny to her final fate, the lozenge stuck in the back of her throat, and all that came out was a choking, gurgling sound.
As Helga coughed and wheezed, trying to mouth the word ‘plasticize,’ the gold studs in Penny’s bodysuit ceased their vibration. Penny found the small back fastener, unloosened it, and quickly tore the nylon fabric from her body. The young woman picked up the remote, searched her memory for a moment, and then punched in 6 - 4 - 2, just as Helga had announced to Nina and Penny what had seemed like hours before. Penny heard the door unlatch, and not wanting to give Helga Hoffmeier any more time to recover and find some new way to trap the girl in the store, she ran into the street in her birthday suit.
Penny was grateful as she ran out into the night air, finally free of Dr. Helga Hoffmeier’s horrible genius. Now she had to get help - go back to the store - and figure out a way to release Nina, Charlotte, and the other girls from their nylon prisons. It had been life-saving good fortune that the shop keeper had choked on her throat lozenge before giving the command to turn Penny into a mannequin. But it had not been quite as fortunate that Penny had to approach two police officers for aid in thwarting a mannequin-making, nylon-entrapping, dimension-removing mad genius - naked as a jaybird.
The blonde model had every intention of presenting a rational explanation for her nudity, and the gravity of the peril she had just escaped. But somehow it all came out in a largely incoherent ramble, with phrases like "trapped in my own pantyhose," "turned into a poster," and "transformed into a living mermaid" not strengthening her argument. When one of the officers barked a code number in his walkie-talkie, Penny hoped that her sincerity had overcome the seeming lunacy of her argument, and that backup was on the way. But the backup turned out to be an ambulance. And Penny’s request for something to wear wound up having sleeves that tied in the back. And Penny’s loud protestations and pleas for assistance were met with a sharp jab in her bottom, and a slow fade into calmness, then unconsciousness.
As an indeterminate amount of time passed, Penny experienced many sensations. The sensation of movement, being transported inside one vehicle, and then on top of another. The sensation of being grabbed, carried, jostled, poked and prodded. The sensation of activity all around her, walking, talking, crying, moaning, and even a scream or two. The sensation of being partly awake, partly asleep, trying to move and talk, drifting back into nothingness.
And worst of all, during the nothingness, came the dreams. Brief flashing images. Images of Nina Tavares, Charlotte Wingate, and other young women, calling out for Penny to help them. Images of Penny reaching toward them, but their hands always just beyond Penny’s grasp. And then there was running, moving, trying to get away. Not wanting to see what was behind, but always the feeling that at any moment the footsteps heard in the background would become the clutch of a menacing grip. Finally, Penny knew that she had to see what it was that was chasing her, closing the gap, reaching out to capture her and take her away forever. She turned and saw the face of Helga Hoffmeier, melting away into the same goo that had mannequinized Nina and another girl whose name she could not remember. Helga was almost upon her. The old woman reached out her hand, and it too was melting into the same evil substance. Penny knew that if that goo touched her, she would stiffen and be lost forever. And Helga’s hand was getting closer, closer, about to touch her shoulder and turn her into a statue forever. She felt the gooey limb touch her bare shoulder, and she screamed . . . .
"Ms. Hoze. Penny. I’m sorry. Are you alright?" Penny finally managed to lift her iron-laden eyelids, and view the source of the comforting masculine voice. It was a familiar face, but she couldn’t quite put a name with it.
"It’s been a while since we met. I’m Sergeant Geoff Bailey, Missing Persons. We met in connection with the Franz Jakobs/Mindy Simpson case. I’m a good friend of Charlotte Wingate."
Now Penny remembered. This was the policeman who had questioned Penny and Charlotte after they escaped from Franz Jakobs’ nightmare ‘gallery’.
"Yes," Penny said weakly, "I remember you."
The policeman nodded toward a young attractive woman standing near him in the room. "This is my partner, Rosa Torres."
The woman nodded at Penny, more businesslike than friendly.
"It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Torres . . ." suddenly, Penny bolted upright. "Charlotte! Oh my, God, Charlotte!" She grabbed hold of the sleeve of Bailey’s coat jacket. "We’ve got to go help Charlotte!"
"Take it easy, Ms. Hoze. That’s why we’re here," Rosa Torres said matter of factly. But Sgt. Bailey saw a look of urgency in Penny’s eyes.
"Penny," he started, "no one has seen Charlotte since yesterday afternoon. She didn’t report in to her office, and she isn’t answering her pager. She was involved in a nasty divorce case, and some physical threats were made. We found her car parked near a lingerie store over on the East Side of town - near where you were, uhh, found. So we thought you might have seen something. Can you help us?"
"We’ve got to go now, Geoff. I can’t explain it all right now, I’ll tell you on the way. But you’ve got to get me out of here so we can go to the Hosiery Hut."
"Hey, that’s the name of the place where they found that detective’s car," Torres said to Geoff Bailey. But she looked warily at Penny, not too thrilled with this attractive ‘nut case’ who called her partner, ‘Geoff’. "But I don’t know if the hospital will release Ms. Hoze. Not so soon after yesterday, and those stories she was telling."
"Rosa," Bailey looked at this partner, "I don’t know about yesterday’s stories, but I do know about the story that happened to her and Charlotte not too long ago." He looked at Penny. "And I believe what she has to say. Go get Ms. Hoze something to wear, and I’ll get an okay from the doc."
Several arguments and minutes later, Sgts. Bailey and Torres, and Penny Hoze were headed to the detectives’ sedan, ready for a trip to Helga Hoffmeier’s Hosiery Hut. After starting the car, Bailey paused a moment and dialed his cellphone. "Better get a black and white to meet us there." He called dispatch and gave them the Hosiery Hut’s address, and requested a patrol car to be waiting.
"Better make it a fire engine, Sgt." The dispatcher said. Penny leaned forward as Geoff asked the dispatcher to explain. "The Hosiery Hut - over on Center Avenue, East - burned to the ground last night. Fire investigators are on scene now."
Bailey took off as Penny slouched back in the seat. Tears were forming in her eyes as she thought of all the displays - once young women - lost in what was most probably Helga Hoffmeier’s last insane act.
"Penny," Geoff said gently, seeing how upset the young woman was, "can you tell us what happened?"
She tried. At first she attempted to frame the bizarre events in the scientific explanations that Dr. Hoffmeier herself had used. She could see that Sgt. Torres was skeptical, thinking that they had picked Penny from the Psychiatric Ward way before she was ripe. But Sgt. Bailey seemed a bit more open minded, so she went on. By the time they pulled up to the smoldering rubble that was the Hosiery Hut the day before, she was up to Helga choking on her Sucrets, and Penny’s last chance to get away.
"Some tale, huh?" Torres grinned toward her partner. Penny didn’t like the Latin beauty, and knew the feeling was mutual. She could almost sense jealousy coming from the woman.
"It’s pretty incredible, alright. But that doesn’t mean some of it might not be true." His words were meant to be supportive of Penny, but she still bristled.
"All of it is true, Geoff - Sgt. Bailey. I wish I could make you believe me."
The three walked toward what was left of the building. They were met by a man in an open firefighting coat, revealing a white shirt and tie beneath. The man identified himself as the arson investigator.
Before Bailey had a chance to ask a question, Penny piped in. "Sir, did you find anything: bodies, mannequins, anything?"
"No bodies, not yet anyway. No mannequins - but that’s not surprising, the plastic or wax would’ve melted."
Penny hung her head. Nina. Gone. And no point asking about quickly flammable wall posters. But, wait a minute . . .
"A statue. A bronze statue. Of a mermaid. Bronze wouldn’t melt so easily. Did you find a bronze statue?"
"Nope. No statue. Not much of anything really. Except for the damnedest thing." The investigator looked back, taking off his fire helmet and scratching his head. "The ceiling had all these hooks and pulleys and wires all over the place. And on one side of the store, there was a bunch of wire clamps all over the floor."
"You mean, like on garters?" Bailey asked.
"Yeah, I guess that’s what they were. Since this place sold hosiery. But there sure were a lot of ‘em."
Bailey nodded, then saw a group of people standing nearby. Probably locals, attracted by the sirens and lights. "Rosa. Check with those folks over there. Maybe they saw something."
"You mean like somebody torching the place?"
"No, more like a truck loading stuff last night." The sexy detective sauntered over, while Bailey looked at a shivering Penny.
"I don’t understand any of this, Penny. But the more we find out, the more your story fits the pieces." He smiled, but Penny didn’t. Being vindicated didn’t bring Nina or Charlotte back.
In a few moments, Rosa hurried back over. "Nice hunch, partner. A couple of the folks said they saw a truck pull into the back alley last night and sit there a long while. They just thought the old lady who runs the place was packing it in and getting out of town."
"I believe they thought right," Sgt. Bailey replied.
"Hey, Torres! Back here in the alley, got something to show you!" It was one of the uniformed officers calling to Sgt. Torres.
"Guess I’ll go check it out, Geoff." She emphasized the ‘Geoff’ for Penny’s benefit. "You sticking around?"
"I think I’m going to take Penny home - I’ll clear it with the doctor later," Bailey interrupted Torres’ protestation. "Can you get a ride back to the station with a patrol car?"
"No problem. See you later this evening?" The lady detective virtually purred to her handsome partner.
"Yeah, sure. Maybe at the station." Bailey replied disinterestedly, and put his hand gently on Penny’s arm as he led her back to his car.
Rosa Torres walked to the back alley and found the patrolman - Kip Rodgers, a policeman she had seen ‘unofficially’ on more than one occasion - on one knee inspecting the pavement. She walked up and squatted beside him, her skirt hiking up as she did, revealing silky knees and a good bit of nyloned thigh, that Rodgers took in appreciatively.
"Tire tracks. Great. Maybe we can get a match, track down who was behind this. Good work, Officer Rodgers." Torres stood up, and saw that Kip was smiling, and holding something behind his back.
"That’s not all I found, Sergeant." He said, and then brought his arm around to reveal a silver package. "I took a peek inside - don’t worry, I didn’t get any prints on it. But I thought you might be interested in what’s inside before I bag the package."
Torres took a long look, then pulled out the contents. She smiled widely, as did Rodgers, although his was more of a leer. "Thank you, Officer. I do believe these need looking into a little further."
"Like tonight?" Kip asked, hopefully.
Torres put the package in her oversized purse. "Like later this week, maybe," she said flirtingly, and then walked back to the front of the building, to see about a ride back to police headquarters.
Penny sat silently for a long time as Sgt. Bailey drover her home. After several minutes, he looked over at her. "If you’re worried that the old woman - Hoffmeier, I think - might be after you, I’ll have police guards at your place 24 hours a day."
"I guess that’s possible. But that’s not what I was thinking about. She said that the displays were still alive. And she seemed to imply they could be returned to normal. I guess I’m just hoping we can find her before she does something with - or to - Charlotte and Nina. And the others. And that we can find out from her how to turn them back." She smiled at Bailey. "That’s a lot to ask, isn’t it?"
"Yeah. But still worth hoping for."
Penny nodded, then looked concerned. "Jeez. I didn’t even think about Helga looking for me."
"Sorry I planted that fear. But I was trying to reassure you. I’m almost positive that Helga Hoffmeier packed up that truck, headed out of town, and as far away from here as she possibly could."
"I hope you’re right." Penny stated. "But for Charlotte and Nina’s sake, I hope she didn’t go so far away we’ll never find her - or them - again."
And the two traveled in silence the rest of the way to Penny’s apartment.
Rosa Torres made only one date that evening. With her full length mirror. Before she premiered her newest garment for a male companion, she wanted to make sure it looked as hot on her well-toned body as it did in its glittering package.
And it did. Even hotter, in fact.
The body suit was the sheerest of black nylon, fitting snugly and revealingly over her tight bottom and her shapely breasts. But even more than the feel of the silky smoothness that covered her entire frame, she loved the shine of the chrome studs that went all the way up the side of each leg, around both wrists, and even formed a necklace of pain at the top of the garment.
Oh yes, there were plenty of men she could please and punish in this outfit. She just hoped that Geoff Bailey would be one of them. There was nothing Rosa Torres liked better than having men stare at her voluptuous body.
The old woman standing outside Rosa Torres’ window also knew that to be true. And she had the means to perpetually satisfy Rosa Torres’ deepest fantasy. She raised that means toward the window through which she was viewing the detective’s late night erotic fashion show. And she pushed the button on the special remote.
The pleasure that Rosa Torres was already experiencing seemed to suddenly intensify. At first she couldn’t believe that she had brought herself to the precipice of orgasm so easily. But then her body began to vibrate violently, and Rosa realized that this was not a normal episode of self-pleasuring. The policewoman seemed to be losing control of her bodily functions and movements. She wanted to move away from the mirror and window, but she was frozen in place. As the vibration reached a crescendo, Rosa Torres remembered what Bailey’s friend, Penny Hoze, had told them about Helga Hoffmeier and the special bodysuit she had designed for her captive. And Rosa Torres’ last human thought was that apparently the fantastic tale that she had heard that afternoon, was apparently true. . . .
After that, Rosa Torres stopped vibrating. Stopped thinking. And stopped moving.
At least, until Helga Hoffmeier pushed a series of buttons on her special remote, and Rosa Torres’ beautiful roboticized body sprang to life, and began walking toward the back door of her house. Under the cover of darkness, the beautiful former detective, now living statue, walked slowly and stiffly toward a rented van parked behind her house. She stepped into the open back doors of the vehicle, curled her stockinged legs and pulled her feet beneath them, and then stiffened once more.
Helga Hoffmeier placed a large white dropcloth over the immobile figure, so that it could not be seen. Then the old woman stepped behind the wheel, and drove off into the night, for a rendezvous with her other creations far, far away. As she exited the city limits, she thought once more of Penny Hoze. The blonde beauty who had outwitted her and gotten away.
Just for now, Penny, the doctor thought. Just for now. I have something you want - your petrified and poster-fied friends. And you have something I want - your - as yet - unattainable beauty.
Until we meet again, someday, Penny Hoze, the doctor thought.
Read "Penny T. Hoze: Gregor's Gallery"
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