The Massage Parlor by Fool

                - a sequel to "The Cabinet"

"Hello . . . ?  I'm, ah, calling to confirm my appointment this afternoon, with Michael . . . at 1:00 pm?"  Sherry sounded nervous on the phone.  She must really be needing it bad, Lori thought.

"Just a moment, please.  I'll be right with you."  Lori paged through a magazine on her lap.  The appointment book was open on the desk in front of her.  I'll let her sweat a minute or two.  They were always so easy to play with after their third treatment.  Lori grinned at the thought of Sherry sitting there by her phone, or, better yet, standing there and sweating, praying there hadn't been a mistake.  They were always so needy.

"Ma'am?  Ma'am . . . ?  Are you there?"  Her voice was timid.

Better get used to standing, dear, Lori thought mischievously.  Ah, well, enough with the suspense.  Don't want to make trouble for us later.

"Sherry, is it?  Yes, you're confirmed for this afternoon at one."

"That's great!  Ah, thank you, thank you very much."  She hung up the phone hurriedly, as if not wanting to give the other party time to change their minds.  Lori could just hear Sherry's relief, though.  There was no nonchalance in her voice at all.

Lori got up from the desk and poked her head in Michael's office.

"That was your one o'clock calling to confirm," she said innocently.

Michael snickered.  "They always do that."  He finished up the last few notes in his journal, closed it, and put it next to the VCR tape already in the safe.  He then walked over and joined Lori in the front room.

He came up behind her, put his arms around her, and pressed up close. "Make sure after we do, Sherry, that you take the tapes and the journal to the bank.  I want 'em in the safety deposit box before tonight when I see him."

Lori turned around in his arms and looked up at him.  Michael put his hands on her bottom.  "Is this really a good idea, Mike?  You're always talking about how strange Dr. Carnelian is."

He gave her a good squeeze, and she dug a little closer into his chest. "Hey, don't worry, baby.  Everything's set.  I got all the evidence.  He can't do nothin' to me without doin' it to himself.  He'll see reason." He took one hand off her butt and lifted her chin up with it.

He met her eyes with his.  "Trust me.  I know what I'm doing."

                * * * *

Sherry could hardly wait till one o'clock.  She had paced her apartment all morning long after calling in sick to work.  And, she reflected, she was sick.  She felt stiff all over.  If she stood still for more than just a few minutes at a time her joints would freeze up, and it would be almost painful to unlock them again.  She also felt, well . . . well, 'needy,' she supposed.  All she could think about was Michael touching her . . . touching her 'there,' and then 'there,' and then . . . .  Sherry shivered all over, shaking her long blonde hair over her face.

She looked up at the clock.  It was only 10:45.

"Oh, to hell with it," she said.  She'd go early.  Maybe he'd take her in early.  Sherry picked up her keys and purse and left.

The drive over was interminable.  Traffic was bad in the city this time in the morning, and Sherry's jerky movements were no help at all.  Her arms and legs would stiffen up at the longer stoplights.  Even turning her head on two or three times was difficult.  She drove slow to avoid an accident.

Man, do I need a massage bad.

She pulled into the parking lot after about thirty or forty minutes of being honked at.  She parked in a handicap space right in front. 'Heavenly Fingers,' the sign read, and oh that was so right.

It took her about five more minutes to get to the door.  Sitting in the car for so long had frozen her hips and back, and she moved up to the glass door like a woman who had been dipped in plastic.

She went in and immediately said to the pretty-looking redhead behind the front desk, "I know I'm early, I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, but I need to see Michael right away."  Sherry knew how desperate she sounded, and she hated it, but she just couldn't help it, either.

The receptionist looked at her sympathetically.  She got up and helped Sherry walk over in the direction of the therapy rooms, saying, "I'm sorry, Sherry, but Michael's with another client right now, and all our other therapists are out today.  You'll have to wait at least an hour. Would you like a magazine?"

Sherry couldn't help but let out a little moan.  "Could you ask him to hurry, maybe, please?"

She's so pathetic, Lori thought, excited.  She helped the client hop up onto one of the therapy tables.  "I'll see what I can do.  Just try to lie flat on the table and Michael will be in to help when he can."  She closed a curtain over the room's entry on the way out.  She pretended to walk off but then waited for a moment and peeked back inside.  Sherry was slowly taking off her clothes, her movements stiff and jerky.

Lori smiled and tiptoed back to her desk.  She removed a blank tape from a drawer, reversed the sign on the front door saying 'Heavenly Fingers' was open, and then walked into Michael's office.  She flipped on the VCR and monitor and made some connections.  Soon an aerial shot of Sherry in one of the therapy rooms was shown on the screen.  She had finished with her clothes and was slowly wrapping a towel around her.  The video camera was hidden in the ceiling and couldn't be seen from inside.  Lori watched as Sherry stretched herself on her back on the table, the view staring straight down at her.

This is going to be good, she thought.  Lori laughed and switched channels.  The screen now showed Michael finishing with old Mrs. Trent, rubbing her feet and starting to oil up her plump legs.  She switched back to Sherry and put the tape in the machine.  Let her stew for a while.

A little later, after seeing Mrs. Trent to the door ("I'll see you next week at your regular time."), Michael joined Lori in the office.

"I see our client's here.  We all set?"

"Mm'hm.  We have no other appointments today, and I'll lock up in just a minute.  You can spend as much time as you need."

Michael smiled.  "Great," he said.  He walked over to his safe, opened it after a moment, then took out a large, exquisitely carved ebony box.  He put it on the desk, opened it, and began taking out the "special" oils. There were five large jars, each neatly numbered in order.  Sherry had already received Oils One, Two, and Three on her previous three visits. Now it was time for Number Four to do its work.

"You have any idea what's in them, Mike?" Lori asked.

Michael took out a hypodermic needle and a smaller medicine vial next.  He started preparing the shot.  "Not a clue.  I only know if I didn't take this before putting 'em on my hands, I'd be in a real world of trouble. After all, look what it does to them."  Lori turned away while he injected himself in his arm.

He stood there a moment, then rubbed his hands together and picked up the oil jar labeled Number Four.

"It's showtime."  Lori turned on the tape.

About a minute later Michael walked into the therapy room and greeted Sherry.  "And how're we doing today?" he said warmly.

Oh, thank God, Sherry thought.  She felt so stiff, so very ready.  "I'm sorry if I made you hurry, but I need . . . I mean, I want . . . ."

Michael told her it was alright.  Sherry was a special client, and so on. "Let me roll you over, and we'll start with your backside.  I know that's a problem area."  He carefully put his hands on her sides and slowly eased her around.  "My, you are a little stiff today, aren't you?"  Though not as stiff as you're going to be, he thought privately.

"Yes, I am . . . could you please, you know, do what you did last time . . . I mean . . . ."

"Don't you worry your pretty little head at all, Sherry.  I know exactly what you need, and I think you'll like today's session even better than yesterday's."  He began preparing his oils over by the sink.  Sherry laboriously turned her head and watched him.  God, he was sooo good-looking.  She stared at his thick chest and wide back, the muscles just straining under his white shirt.  He had such strong arms, and his hands . . . God, his hands were sooo powerful . . . the things they could do to her.  The way they could make her feel.

Sherry had only been coming to 'Heavenly Fingers' for a week now, and she already felt like she was falling in love with Michael.

He turned around and stepped over to her, a jar in each hand.

"No fair peeking, Sherry.  Put your head straight down in that little face rest there.  That's it.  Well, I think we're ready to go."

At last, Sherry thought.  She was already wet between her thighs.  I'm ready, let me have it.  I need it so bad.

Michael undid the towel and folded it out, exposing Sherry's entire backside.  Beautiful, he thought.  The stuff really clears up the blemishes.  There's not a mark on her, not one mole or imperfection.  He poured a stream of lightly heated oil all along her spine, right down to the base, and then dribbled drops over her buttocks.  It wasn't the good stuff yet, but that'd come.  He dipped his fingers in a small bowl beside him, coating them, then touched his client's shoulders and worked his fingers down her back.  Sherry arched her form a little and let out a low moan of contentment.

Michael's hands flowed over Sherry's body.  He pressed his thumbs deep into the thick knots in her shoulders, arms, and thighs, slickening the flesh and kneading it like dough.  She grunted with pain but mewled with pleasure at the same time.  The warm oil slid down her spine.  Michael didn't say a word; his calloused palms did all the talking she needed. Every once and awhile he wet his hands again with more oil, switching between cool liniments and coconut smells.  He reached down to her right foot and pulled it up level to her knee, the joints popping audibly.  He then popped her toes and rubbed oil down the instep, working down the ankle and then onto the leg and up the thigh.  Then he did the other leg the same way, finishing by cupping his hands under her thighs, putting pressure on the most sensitive part of Sherry's anatomy.  Her breath began to come in gasps, muffled somewhat by her hair falling forward past the edge of the table.

I can't believe how smooth she feels, Michael thought as he reached for Number Four.  It's more than the oil already covering her.  She's changed over the last four days.  Hell, she's changed since yesterday.  Her skin's firmer, tighter.  There's not a wrinkle on her.  He coated his hands with the special oil and started at her feet again, working up.  The skin on his hands began to tingle.  It felt good . . . warm and soothing . . . electric, in a way, and that was with the neutralizer already in his system.  Michael could only imagine what it felt like for Sherry.

She began to moan louder, not caring or embarrassed in the least.  A warmth was settling into her skin, from her feet and her legs (it's so delicious, she thought), from her butt and her back (he's right, it's better than last time), from her shoulders, arms, and hands (I'm gonna scream if he doesn't turn me over quick).  She began to hiss with the intensity of the feeling building up between her thighs.  It feels like I'm on fire, she thought.

"I'm going to turn you over, now, Sherry."

She didn't respond.  She couldn't respond.  All she could really do was rock her hips in time with the power now flowing within her.

Sherry felt Michael's strong hands caressing her breasts.  He stroked along the outer swell and then put his thumbs over each nipple, working them back and forth.  She could feel how erect they were, and that same delicious warmth-electricity settled into them.  Michael's hands pressed into her abdomen next, spreading the warmth there.  She kept her eyes closed, the pleasure she was feeling so great.

She knew what was next.

Oil poured down her pelvis, followed by the touch of those incredibly strong and firm hands.  The warmth-electricity seemed to shoot right through her nervous system.  Michael's hand made contact with her vagina, his fingers touching her clitoris, stroking it lightly.  Her legs spread wide.  He began to put more pressure on her sex, building her up and then taking her down, building her up and then taking her down.  He could feel the tremors running through her body.  Michael's technique had gone far beyond conventional massage therapy, and he smiled up at the camera he knew was overhead.

He was rock-hard, and he needed satisfaction.

>From the other room, Lori could feel her own thighs getting wet.  Go on, Mike, she urged silently.  Take her!  This is such a turn-on I can barely stand it.  Besides, it's not as if Sherry were a human being anymore.

Michael stripped off his pants and climbed onto the table.  Sherry felt the loss of contact and opened her eyes, begging, pleading for more.  Her arms and legs wrapped around Michael's body as he slowly pushed his penis past the outer lips of her sex.  She screamed in pleasure, and in the office watching Lori herself rocked with the orgasm wiping her out. Michael slipped all the way inside and ejaculated uncontrollably, his body shuddering.  It was fantastic how tight she was, how slick and how smooth . . . and how strangely 'hard,' like he was body-thumping a lovedoll filled with liquid metal.  It was great, and it was apparently even better for her.  The orgasm that ripped through her body felt like a super-nova. The world spun, and Sherry blacked out.

Michael staggered off, reached for the Number Four oil again, and bent down to finish coating her off.  He did her face and around her neck, then mixed the oil with a little water and ran it through her hair.  Shortly enough, there wasn't a part of Sherry not covered in Dr. Carnelian's formula.  The oils worked in stages, and in three years Michael had done eight women just like Sherry, beautiful young women who deserved to have their beauty preserved and, more importantly, wouldn't be missed in society.  It usually took less than a week.  They would come in for an innocent massage, and the first special oil would prepare them.  They would invariably come back for more, usually the very next day.  Each time a slightly stronger oil would be employed, the combination having a cumulative effect.  The women's bodies would firm up; their breasts would tone and cease sagging, if they ever did before, their thighs and abs would turn rock hard, and their legs . . . man, their legs would just become dreams of perfection.  At the same time, their skin would clear up, so that by the fourth or fifth visit at the latest they would have the same unmarked complexion as a supermodel might have.

Of course, the oils were also sexually addicting as hell, and they did make the women increasingly stiff and immobile as they settled in, but, hey, everything in life had a price.  Even if they hadn't volunteered for the process willingly, I'm sure more than a few would have done so had a choice been presented to them, or so Michael believed.

Lori came in while he was finishing up.  She kissed him.  "Was it as good for you as it was for me?" she teased.

"Oh, yeah.  Almost as good as you."  He sat down in a chair in a corner of the room.  "That's exhausting work."

"Yeah, real strenuous, I'm sure."  Lori looked over Sherry's still-glistening form.  "Hey, she's starting to wake up."

Michael got up himself.  "Good.  You take care of her.  She outta be pretty suggestible about now.  Some kind of hypnotic deal, only stronger. I'm gonna go take a shower and get this oil off me."

"Sure, go ahead.  I like giving orders."  Michael chuckled as he left the room.  Lori looked over at Sherry and saw that her eyes were open.  There was still a look of bliss on her face.

Lori snapped her fingers in front of the hapless woman's face.  "Okay, slut, get up."  Sherry silkenly tilted herself off of the table.  Her movements were smooth and normal; the current oil hadn't soaked its way all the way through her yet.  In her mind the world was glowing and warm. Everything was good.

"This is what I want you to do," Lori said.  "I want you to get dressed - don't worry about the oil staining your clothes, you won't be needing them after tomorrow - get in your car, and go home.  Then I want you to call your boss up at work and tell him you quit.  Call anyone else who you think might miss you over the next week or so and tell 'em you're going out of town for awhile.  Then just go to bed and wait.  Oh yeah, leave your door unlocked, too.  You got all that, sister?"

"Sure."  The world was so good and warm.

"Then what're you waiting for?  Get going."  Sherry dreamily bent down to get her clothes and put them on.  After she was gone, Lori went in back to talk to Michael.

"Are you sure you got the goods on Carnelian?"

Michael was dressing, and he looked at Lori almost in annoyance.  "I said I'm sure, I'm sure.  He'll deal.  He'll have to."

Lori shifted her weight from one foot to the other.  "Then I'm going to go down to the bank.  I'll see you tonight."

He walked up and gave her another kiss.

"It'll all work out the way we want it.  Trust me."

                * * * *

Carnelian had Michael enter his house through the servants' entrance.  He was met at the door by the doctor's butler, who, short of Carnelian himself, was one of the strangest people Michael had ever seen.  The man's skin was as pale as milk, bone white, though his hair and beard were solid black.  He had no pores.  He didn't seem to be breathing.  He frankly looked unreal . . . and he moved just like one would imagine he would, like an automaton, each movement of his arms and legs mechanically precise.  It was graceful, in a strange sort of way, but distinctly nonhuman.  He reminded Michael of a wind-up toy, and he half expected to see a large key sticking out of the man's back.

The butler closed the door after Michael (shift, relay, click, Michael imagined he heard) and escorted him to a fancy sitting room.  It was furnished with velvet accouterments, French windows, and antique furniture.  A large painting dominated one wall, showing a landscape scene at night, a darkened mansion in the background, a young woman carrying a lantern in the foreground.  Carnelian was standing before it and examining it.  A pretty Asian woman was sitting beside him.  She was wearing a silk cheong-sam, the kind of dress waitresses in Chinese restaurants always seemed to be wearing, though this one apparently had a higher slit up the one-piece skirt than was usually considered fashionable.  Michael thought he could see the woman's dancer's legs all the way up to her thighs.  Her skin looked as artificial as the butler's did, only hers was an unusual yellowish-beige color.  Michael couldn't help but stare at her.

Carnelian turned and greeted him, motioning for the butler to leave.

"Mr. Offens.  To what can I credit this unexpected visit?  Have you perhaps another subject prepared?"  He was pale, though not unnaturally so like his servant was, but there was such an unusual quality in his eyes - they were so deep, deep green if was like they could look right through you - that Michael could never entirely return the man's gaze.  His accent was unidentifiable.

"That's part of the reason I'm here.  May I sit down?"

Carnelian motioned to a nearby chair.  The Chinese beauty hadn't moved once yet.  Her eyes stared forward into nothing like a mannequin's.

"You are here on business, Mr. Offens?" Carnelian prompted.

Michael told the doctor about Sherry and how she would be ready for tomorrow night.  A pick-up was arranged at the massage parlor afterhours. Then he told him about the tapes.

"I have recordings of you and your butler picking up the last four women. I'm shown too, but then I'm nobody.  I just run a massage parlor business, and I can set-up anywhere.  I can disappear anytime.  You, though, have got a more serious problem.  People know you.  You have lots of important patients, or so I hear.  You don't want to have to leave town, do you?"


Michael leaned forward a little in his chair.  "Like, hey, I'm sure you could pull a disappearing act of your own real well, cops would never find you.  But you don't want the hassle, right?  You're loaded.  All I want is $250 G, that's all.  And the formula for the oils.  I want to go into business for myself.  We can still do business together, even, afterwards, if you want.  But I'll find my own buyers.  You'll get the tapes, and hardly anything will change."  Michael forced himself to look into the man's eyes.

Carnelian stared back at him.  Michael couldn't read his face.

"Let me see if I understand you completely, Mr. Offens," the doctor finally said.  "I already pay you for your service, and pay you well, and I have taken you on as a patient, treated you for injuries you have sustained in your rather colorful career (Michael shifted a little uneasily at this), and now you want to go into 'business' for yourself and want me to pay for the privilege.  Is that it, sir?"

Michael settled back in the chair.  "Don't get any ideas, either.  The tapes and a very damning confession are already in safe storage.  Anything happens to me, and you're history here."

Carnelian smiled at him.  "I never threaten, Mr. Offens.  It's rude, and if there's anything I hate more it's rude behavior."  He paused for a moment, and while he did his chambermaid walked into the room carrying a featherduster and began to dust some of the bric-a-brac.  Michael jumped. She was incredible looking.  She was dressed in a classic French maid's outfit, a short-haired brunette with an hourglass figure and stocking-legs that went on forever.  She was as pale and robot-like as the butler, too . . . and Michael suddenly wanted her so badly it hurt.

"May I have some time to consider your offer, Mr. Offens?  I can let you know of my decision tomorrow night."

Michael turned and said, "What?  Oh, yeah, sure, that's fine.  Say, is that your . . . ."

"Then I'll see you tomorrow at your establishment, then.  Ann will see you out."  He waved his hand in the direction of the door.

Michael got up and started to follow the sweet-figured little maid.  "Uh, yeah, I'll see you tomorrow."  He stopped in the doorway and looked back. "Think about what I said.  It could work out for both of us."

"I'm sure it will, Mr. Offens.  I'm sure it will.  Good evening, sir." The last Michael saw of him that night he was helping the Chinese woman to her feet.  She moved just like the maid, and then he was at the backdoor again looking out at the alley.

The maid was holding the door open for him.  Michael stepped up close and put a hand on the woman's (was she a woman, he thought, or a machine?) behind.  "When your boss sees reason . . . your name's Ann, right?  You know, you and I could . . . ."

Her hand flashed down faster than he could see it, grabbed his offending paw, and squeezed.  Michael yelped in pain.  There was still no expression on the maid's mannequin-like face.  She guided him outside, let go of his wrist, and closed the backdoor in his face.

Michael backed up against the alley wall and winced.  Christ, she's strong, he thought.  Feels like she almost tore it off.  After a while, he gathered up his pride and slowly walked back to his car.

Things will still work out, he thought to himself as he drove off.

                * * * *

Back in the house, Carnelian was walking downstairs to his vault, Lin Yua closely following behind, her every movement a machinist's dream.  They stepped into a large, high-ceilinged basement.  The doctor walked past the entrance to his Gallery and stopped before a large metal door set flush into the wall.  He turned a combination on it, opened it, and looked around the inside.

Rows and rows of custom-made dolls lined the inside walls.  Each was about two feet in height, perfectly proportioned, male and female set alternately beside one another, with little nameplates hanging in front of them.  Carnelian soon found the one he wanted and lifted it up.  Lin Yua stayed outside in the hall.

Her master turned and looked at her.  "I did myself a disservice with Michael, I think now," he said reflectively.  "I underestimated both his greed and his stupidity.  Careless of me.  He had such good taste, though."

He walked back out of the vault and handed the wooden doll to the servant. "Come, I have many preparations to make for tomorrow night."  He closed the vault door, then said to Lin Yua, "That's the problem with being a physician.  Your hours are never your own."

They walked upstairs.

                * * * *

Sherry could barely move on her bed the next day.  She felt stiff everywhere, even worse than yesterday, though how she knew that she couldn't say with so much of the previous day still such a blur to her. She knew she shouldn't leave the bed, but she wasn't sure if she could even if she tried.  There was no pain in her body, it was just, well . . . she was feeling so strangely rigid!  It was a chore just to move her arms and legs from side to side, and they developed a disturbing tendency to freeze in whatever position she left them in.  To put it another way, she could move, but only with great deliberation, and when she stopped, she really stopped.  She found she could hold any positon for as long as she liked . . . or for as long as she didn't like.  Sherry remembered waking up that morning lying flat on her back with arms upraised in front of her, and with her right knee turned and raised so that her right foot was resting flat to the bed.  She had slept like that the whole night.  Yet, it hadn't been uncomfortable at all.

In a way, it felt kind of natural.

Now, though, she was starting to get a little scared.  She had almost no voice at all; she could only talk in a whisper.  The muscles in her throat had apparently stiffened up, too.  She couldn't call for help.  The idea of her getting out of bed and out of her apartment under her own power was by now ridiculous.  Not that she would probably go to the hospital anyway. If she could drive, if she could get around, Sherry knew the place she'd go would be 'Heavenly Fingers.'  She needed Michael sooo bad.  Just the thought of him touching her, stroking her body with those warm yet electric hands of his, coating her up and down with that luxurious oil . . . she began to shudder with the half-memory of those powerful orgasms.

Sherry knew she would beg, plead, do any disgusting thing he wanted if Michael would only deign to touch her one more time.

Outside her bedroom she heard her front door open, and then, miracle of miracles!, there was Michael.  There was another woman beside him, but she didn't matter, was almost invisible to Sherry in fact in the hyper-aroused state she was in.  Sherry would have squirmed around her bed for Michael, the divine Michael, positioned herself more enticingly for him, but in her excitement she forgot how to move her so incredibly rigid form, and so she just lay there, begging with her eyes.

"She looks like a department store dummy . . . or a lovedoll," Lori said, laughing.  This was the first time she'd gone with Michael on a pick-up. Usually he did all the work himself.

Michael sat down on the bed beside Sherry, moved the rest of the covers away to expose her nakedness completely, and touched her breast.  "She feels like one, too.  Here, see for yourself."

Lori touched Sherry's face, then ran her fingers down her chest.  "Wow," she said softly, impressed.  Sherry "did" feel like a department store dummy.  She tapped her nails across her flat stomach.  They clicked like on plastic.

Lori met Michael's eyes.  "She's as hard as a rock."

"Not yet."  Michael stood up and put one hand behind Sherry's head and the other on her hips.  He folded her upwards and let go.  She stayed in position.

"Is it my imagination, Mike, or is her hair longer?"

Michael twisted Sherry around so that her legs stretched unbending off of the bed.  Her bottom slid across the bedsheet like plastic, no friction at all.  "No, you're right," he said, grabbing his client's shoulders and pulling her forward.  He planted her feet on the floor.  Sherry was now standing by her bed with the top half of her body folded forward at a nearly ninety degree angle, her long blonde locks falling forward past her face.  "It's grown at least a foot from yesterday.  It always does.  I think we're looking at the final work in a Grecian sort of way, you know, with the hair falling way down past the shoulders."

"That's neat.  That's really neat."  Lori helped Michael straighten the woman by standing on her toes while Michael pushed upwards on her breasts. Sherry felt no pain; she was just excited that Michael was touching her so intimately.

"Please, please," she whispered.  "I need you sooo much."

Neither heard her.  "How do we get her outside?" Lori asked.

"Simple," Michael said.  "We put her in a long coat, you get on one side of her, I get on the other, and we carry her down like she was a drunk. We go down the back way, we move quickly and like we got a right to do what we're doin', and nobody'll pay attention to us.  It's easy."

"Just move like we got a purpose," she translated.  "That nothing's out of the ordinary."

"That's right.  It's the best trick in the world when you're doin' somethin' criminal and you don't wanna get caught."

"I'll go find a coat, then."  Lori went to Sherry's closet.

Michael then turned to Sherry.  "We'll have you down to the store in twenty minutes.  You won a free massage."

She was slowly reaching out for him, tugging with easily apparent difficulty at his belt and zipper.  She moved like she was in slow-motion. "I need it now," she pleaded softly.  "I can't wait."

Michael moved closer and whispered in Sherry's ear.  He made sure she could feel the bulge in his pants against her sex.  She moaned.  "You'll just have to wait, Sherry, and then I'll make you feel like you've never felt before."

Lori came back with the coat, and five minutes later they were all in the van driving back to 'Heavenly Fingers.'

                * * * *

Sherry was picked up at her apartment around 9:30 that evening.  By eleven Michael was putting his final touches to her, literally.  Sherry was in heaven.  The Number Five oil was spread over every inch of her body, from heel to crown, even to her hair.  She glistened, the lights in the therapy room reflecting off of her shiny, incredibly smooth surface.  Michael couldn't resist.  He mounted the slick, vinyl-like living statue Sherry had become and began rubbing against her.  Had she still had a voice she would have screamed in ecstasy as he penetrated her.  Lori watched the whole time, her hand inside the front of her panties.  She gave voice to what Sherry could not.

Later, after they had taken a long shower together and had finished their own bout of love-making, Lori and Michael came back into the therapy room to put Sherry back to her feet.  Now, this oil having soaked in faster than any of the others had, Sherry found she couldn't move by herself at all. Her body was completely frozen, and Lori took glee in arranging her pose like a mannequin's.

Afterwards, she looked over her work.  Sherry was standing with her legs apart, her arms splayed out in a V-shape, her head turned slightly to the right.  Her face was absolutely splendid, a look of almost total contentment on her gorgeous features.  They accurately mirrored her feelings inside.

"You do pretty good work for an amateur, lady," Michael said to his girlfriend, coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist. "If I didn't know better, I'd think she was a mannequin."

That's when they both heard a vehicle pull in behind the building. Michael pulled away from Lori and looked out a window.

"Okay, that's Carnelian and company.  You go hide in the office while they're here.  There's a gun in my desk if things don't go right."  Lori nodded and hurried down the hall.  Michael knew she'd be watching on the monitor.

There was a polite knock on the backdoor.  A moment later Carnelian, his butler, and his maid - Michael unconsciously rubbed his left wrist where she grabbed him last night; it still hurt - were all inside.  Carnelian was wearing a long gray coat and a very fashionable evening suit beneath. His servants were dressed in casual clothes, though there was nothing about them even remotely casual.  They both looked like life-size dolls brought to life.

Carnelian examined Sherry first, putting his hands on her flanks and running them up and down her appreciatively.  "Excellent work, Mr. Offens. I'm as impressed as always.  And her name?" he inquired.

Carnelian always wanted to know the names.  "Sherry Barnes."  Michael made sure he wasn't within grabbing distance of either of the servants.  "Have you made up your mind about our deal?" he asked.

"Yes," Dr. Carnelian said, not turning around, still examining Sherry, "and I've decided that there is no deal.  Our relationship as you know it is now terminated."

Michael turned cold, mostly with anger but maybe underneath with a touch of fear as well.  This wasn't working out the way he'd planned.  Carnelian wasn't even facing him, the back of his coat obscuring his figure.

"That's a mistake.  You don't want to leave this town and the good life, do you?"

"I'm not going anywhere, Michael.  And neither are you."  Then Carnelian turned around, and Michael saw that he had something in his hands.

It was a doll.

And it looked remarkably like Michael.

Its face was carved into an almost perfect reproduction of his own features.  It was wearing pieces of a blood-stained leather jacket, the same sort of blood-stained jacket he'd been wearing when he first met the doctor four years ago.  He'd been in a bad motorcycle crash - Michael had been running form the police at the time - and a friend had introduced him to Carnelian.

"What's that supposed to be?" he asked.  "Me?"

Carnelian sighed.  He seemed almost unhappy . . . almost.  "You're a fairly literate person, Michael, for a thug, and I'm sure you know what voodoo is.  It's a fascinating religion, and though I myself do not practice it as such, I have adapted certain of its techniques in my medical practice.

"I have a doll for each of my patients, you see.  They're so much easier to treat that way.  All I have to do is repair the dolls, maintain them, and my patients enjoy perfect health as a result."

"No way," Michael said.  He was getting ready to run to his office. "There's no way you can convince me . . . ."

"I don't see a need to convince of you anything, sir, not when a demonstration is so readily at hand."  Michael's doll still had its nameplate hanging around its throat.  Carnelian snapped it loose.

Instantly all of the muscles in Michael's body seemed to unhinge.  He didn't even have time to cry out.  He fell to the floor like a puppet with its strings suddenly cut.  He lay in a heap completely unable to move, perfectly aware of everything going on around him.

Carnelian instructed his two servants to carry the Sherry-statue to the car.  They lifted her up effortlessly and with identical robot-like grace, and as they took her away, their master came and stood by Michael's head.

"I'm surprised you didn't think more about how quickly and completely you recovered from your crash.  Had you, you might have avoided this situation."  All Michael could do in reply was roll his eyes wildly.

They both heard a noise down the hall.  Carnelian's other servant Lin Yua had arrived after her mission in Michael's office.  She carried, half-dragged a struggling Lori in her arms, one hand clamped tightly over the other's mouth.  Lori could no more break the iron grip holding her than she could fly to the moon.

"I see you did have a compatriot after all," Carnelian observed.  "I had my suspicions.  And such a lovely compatriot she is."  Carnelian examined Lori much as he had examined Sherry earlier, with the same look of mild interest.

He looked down again at Michael.  "I always admired your aesthetic sense in regard to beautiful women, Michael.  It was one of your few saving graces.  I had just been thinking I had need of a good nurse."  He motioned for Lin Yua to take the woman out to the car, and as she went she passed the maid and the butler as they walked back in.  It wasn't as if Sherry were going to go anywhere.  "As I was saying, you had been linked to your doll four years ago . . . on the very same night as your crash, in fact.  I had more than enough blood, hair, and other sympathetic materials necessary to accomplish the procedure.  But, once so linked, I'm afraid the connection is rather permanent.  Any damage performed to your doll would have been reflected in you in pain and injury."

He knelt down beside Michael, handing the doll over to the maid and taking a leather string offered by the butler.  "But I dislike inducing pain in others, so I couldn't do that, not even to you.  I live according to the pleasure principle, you understand.  What I can do, however, is reverse the flow of energy between you and your doll.  Instead of you being the signified object, the doll will now take that favored position."

Carnelian took the small nameplate he had removed from around the doll's throat earlier and affixed it to the leather string he had just been handed.  He tied it around Michael's throat.  Immediately, a wave of incredible vertigo struck at Michael, a total blurring of his personal reality and identity, and when he recovered things looked very different to him.  He could see his own body slowly starting to rise!  He could sense two very strong "vises" (hands?) holding onto his middle.  His whole being felt wooden, remote, cottony . . . .

Michael was inside the doll.

No, it was more than that.

Michael had become the doll.

He couldn't speak.  He had no vocal cords.  He couldn't move.  He had no muscles.  He could see somehow, and he could hear and feel a little, but that was it.  He had been reduced to a plaything . . . a toy, literally. He dangled from the hands of Dr. Carnelian's maid, unable to do anything as he watched his old body being given instructions, of how it should go to the bank first thing in the morning and collect the contents therein from its safety deposit box and bring them to Dr. Carnelian's house.

That's my body, Michael silently screamed.  He saw it moving to obey, and then the maid turned and the scene shifted and he was being taken to Carnelian's car, a vintage Rolls Royce, and he was being put in a box, a carrying case, and there was nothing he could do, and then the case closed and everything went black.  That's my body.  He's stolen my body!

The darkness lasted for hours.

                * * * *

Back home at his three-story brownstone residence, Dr. Carnelian instructed Lin Yua to take Lori to the Asia Room and to the ancient device known as the Hei-pi Cabinet ensconced therein.  He had taken the liberty of having read her driver's license from her purse.  She continued to struggle as Carnelian worked the intricate hidden mechanisms needed to open the Cabinet.  When it was open, Lin Yua forced the captive inside.

"Let me go!  I swear I won't go to the police!" Lori screamed.

"I'm sure you won't, my dear," Carnelian replied, and closed the hinged doors in her face.


She continued to struggle and pound against the inside of the Hei-pi Cabinet for a good three minutes according to Carnelian's pocket watch. He liked that; she was a fighter.  Then, the noises slowly came to an end, and silence was all that emerged from inside the large lacquer box.

                * * * *

Later, downstairs, Carnelian said hello to Sherry again.  She had been secured in one of the basement workrooms, and it was only now that she was starting to realize that something might be seriously wrong.  She still felt incredibly good, but she didn't recognize the man now standing in front of her at all.

"I know this has been confusing for you, Sherry, and for that I do apologize.  I would rather have made this transition less burdensome . . . but then, that's life, isn't it?  Art is so much simpler."  He shrugged philosophically and went to work.

There were actually six special oils used in a treatment such as this, and he prepared the last one now.  Carnelian arranged Sherry in a more graceful and artistic pose, and then he quickly and efficiently lathered her up from head to toe.  He didn't bother with injecting himself with the oil's neutralizing agent.  He was already immune to its effects.  The same warmth and feeling of indescribable pleasure that she had experienced before under Michael's expert hands came to Sherry again.  The sensations settled even more deeply this time around, though, and Carnelian knew that her coming petrification would be the most pleasurable experience she would ever achieve in this world.

He stood back and watched the process unfold.  The cumulative effect of the six ointments on Sherry's body worked quickly now that they were all present in her system.  Her flesh paled, then whitened completely, hardening to the consistency of solid marble.  Her hair, bleached of its color, fused in a graceful shower across her bare shoulders.  Her eyes glazed behind their closed eyelids and became mineral.  Sherry was captured in the reclining pose of a nude still half-asleep, perhaps still dreaming of her lover from the night before.  She was on her side, her head propped up by her right hand, the elbow resting on a sculpted bed of marble.  The other arm settled across her outstretched legs, crossed slightly at the ankles.  Her face was upturned, the lips partially opened, caught in a moment of transendescent happiness.  The unearthly pleasure of the petrification flared in her soul, and then her consciousness faded.

All that was left was the statue.

The doctor allowed his hands to run over the liquid curves of Sherry's already chilling form, from her tight bottom to the upraised globes of her frozen breasts and on to the smoothness of her open lips and dreaming eyes.  He nodded in satisfaction.  He would have her put up in the Gallery tomorrow.  Right now, though, it would have to wait.

He still had one more thing he had to do that evening.

                * * * *

Lori came into Carnelian's study for his inspection.

Ann and Lin Yua had helped her dress.  She worse a white traditional nurse's uniform, circa the 1960s: short sleeves and short skirt, so short that her firm upper thighs were clearly exposed.  She wore white stockings and garters, and her shoes were white fm-pumps, adding a good four inches to her height.  A nurse's cap topped her brilliant red hair.  Her hair had been red before, of course, but more of a lighter shade.  Now, as Dr. Carnelian's servant, it was darker and more luxurious.  Her skin was almost as bloodless white as her uniform; she was porcelain in her perfection . . . poreless, blemishless, and unbreathing, completely transformed.  Her eyes were distant, and she walked with mechanical precision.  There was not a trace of the natural left in her.

"Very, very good, Lori," Carnelian breathed.  "You are an unexpected bonus in this sad affair, but a welcome one.  You will make an excellent nurse." He slipped his arms around her narrow waist, and she wrapped her soft yet also hard arms around his neck in a lover's embrace.  They kissed for a long time, and then he set her about her new duties, the first of which she performed the very next day.

                * * * *

"There's a package for you, Mom!"

Mrs. Trent came to the door and picked up the delivery.  There was no return address, but a note attached to the outside said it was a gift from 'Heavenly Fingers,' which unfortunately was going out of business.

That was a shame, Mrs. Trent thought.  Her back had been giving her so much trouble, and Michael had such good hands.  Inside the package was, of all things, a wooden doll with Michael's face on it.

"How sweet," she said.  "He's such a nice man."


Archivist's Note: As with the previous story, this one originally had artificially-shortened lines of text, which looked distracting, so I've restored them to full width, losing lots of redundant HTML code in the process. --Leem, 2012