The Franchise, Part 1

by Alex the Great, Cobalt Jade, Theodoric of York, and Zang Long



Excerpted from The Medusa Chronicles, an ongoing Addventure maintained by Dmuk ( with connecting material by Cobalt Jade and Zang Long .


It was the first day of summer.

School was out; they were free!

"Where else to go, but to the mall?" Diane postulated.

Rick wasn't exactly fond of shopping, himself. But the three girls were, and he wanted to spend as much time with them as possible before he went away to New Zealand in the fall, where he had a scholarship to the Elam Institute of Fine Art. "Sounds good to me," he said, lying only a little.

"And me," said red-haired Rebecca, also lying a little. She had really wanted to go to the museum, but the mall would do, in a pinch. Outspoken, adventurous and fiery, at least she didn't throw a temper tantrum.

"Well, if the three of you say so... " Harriet shrugged. Blonde and athletic, and more reflective than the others, she would have rather gone to her family's cabin at Lake Dulcimer. But it appeared she was outvoted.

Diane was ecstatic. Almost a ringer for Gisele Bundchen, she harbored a secret desire to be a model, and was always blowing her budget on the latest makeup and fashions. Culture? Hiking through the woods? Not her. "Well, it's settled. Can we take your car, Rick?"

They reached Happy Hills Mall, the largest in that part of the country, a little after noon. Feeling hungry, they headed for the food court. They weren't hungry enough for a real meal, so they decided to get some ice cream to tide them over at a new shop called Creamee Freeze. The decor consisted of orange, pink, and silver stripes with old-fashioned awnings, while the counter girls all dressed alike in snug-fitting white blouses and checked pinafores. A pink bandana hid the girls' hair from view, but even so, they looked oddly alike -- same height, same complexions, same way of talking. The menu was along the lines of a Dairy Queen, featuring many different flavors of ice cream, custard, and shakes, even frozen yogurt... but a faux wall of an old-fashioned town hid the food prep area from view.

Diane couldn't help feeling the place was a bit odd, but her doubts vanished when she saw her dessert: a very large and very sweet banana split, with the whitest, brightest cap of whipped cream she'd ever seen. "My god, this is delicious!" she declared when they'd sat down and begun to eat.

The others could only agree. Harriet had ordered a cookies n' cream milkshake and she was in rapture; Rebecca a chocolate cone she was devouring like a wolf. "They must use triple cream in these!" she marveled. "Not milk, not ordinary cream. It tastes homemade, like the kind my grandma used to make. But there's something different about it, too. I can't put my finger on it."

But too soon their treat was over. Rick, Rebecca, and Harriet began talking about what to do next, but Diane's mind had other plans. "Excuse me guys, but I've simply got to find out what they put in that ice cream," she said. "I'll be back in a minute."

She went back to the stand and tried to get the attention of one of the workers. But while polite to their customers, they steadfastedly ignored any other intrusion. Diane figured she'd either have to buy something, or go directly to their supervisor. She doubted they'd tell her anything even if she bought another sundae, so she decided to find the back entrance and ask whomever was in charge. She found a short hall a few feet away marked MALL EMPLOYEES ONLY, looked around furtively, and ducked in.

She was in luck; the back entrance was right there, and the door was slightly ajar. From what she could see from her vantage point the food prep area looked like the back of any other fast food place: steel cabinets, sinks, stacks of paper cups. The workers bustled purposefully. But they did not talk to each other, going about their business with vapid smiles on their faces. More than ever they looked like robots.

Diane's gaze went to the left. She gasped.

There, imbedded in the steel cabinetry next to the coffee machine, were the brushed aluminum torsos of a young man and young woman, looking as much like appliances as the milkshake mixer and custard extruder. Both had been sunk into the top of the counter from the thighs down, trapping their hands below the wrists as well. They stood poised and erect, their arms held tightly at their sides, blank eyes staring directly ahead. Their heads were bald and beautiful curved, their features stylized but still very lifelike, with an individuality that suggested they had been modeled from real people.

As Diane watched a worker with a tall metal cup came towards the aluminum girl. She pressed the girl's erect left nipple, bending it down slightly. A creamy liquid shot out of the aperture, filling the cup with a swooshing sound as if the nozzle was under high pressure. After a few seconds the worker released the nipple, ending the flow, and placed the cup into a depression at the statue's pubic area...which, Diane saw, was not a pubic area at all, but a slight depression with a grill and another nozzle like the dispenser area on a serve-yourself soda machine. Still smiling blandly, the worker pressed the cup against the handle, causing some crushed ice to clunk into the cup.

Diane was reeling. She felt as if she would faint.

Then another worker came into view, carrying a banana split like the one Diane had ordered earlier. She went over the male statue and held the confection under his metallic, stylized penis, depressing the shaft of it slightly. Whipped cream hissed out of the aperture at the head, and with a few quick motions -- looked like peculiarly masturbatory ones -- the worker had decorated the top of the sundae with a castle of sweet, creamy froth. That done, she wiped the aperture clean and hurried away.

Diane could not believe what her eyes had seen. She felt sick; like the normal reality of her world was dissolving around her. Was this all a crazy dream?

Then the female statue painfully turned her head towards Diane and said in a faint scratchy voice, "Help us, please..."

Oh my god! This was no dream. Frightened out of her wits, Diane backed into the ice cream display case.

"Welcome to Creamee Freeze. Are you here for the job vacancy?" Diane jumped, It was one of the girls who worked there. She was trapped!

All of a sudden Rebecca walked over. "Are you done playing?" she said in a sarcastic tone. "Rick and Harriet said they'll meet us in the record shop."

Diane turned back to the counter girl. She thought quickly about how to save herself. "Actually, we would both like to apply," she said. The counter girl went off to get the manager.

"Apply for what?" Rebecca asked.

"A job here, " Diane said. "That girl just caught me trespassing -- I was sneaking a look into the back room. I said I was looking for a job only so I wouldn't get into trouble. This place is pretty freaky... they get their ice cream from statues!" Diane swallowed, the awful memory still fresh. "Statues of a guy and a girl. One of them asked me to help them... I mean, there's a talking ice cream machine back there! I don't want to be accused of spying in someplace as bizarre this. Please play along." Rebecca only looked at her as if she was crazy.

Just the manager walked over. She was dressed the same as the other girls except her top was pink and her hair was in a ponytail without the bandana. "You two are in luck," she said. "We have two openings. Please follow me."

Diane desperately wanted to reiterate the warning she had given Rebecca but she couldn't talk freely in front of the manager. She could only hope an opportunity to escape soon presented itself.

The manager led them back through the side hall into a confusing maze of galleries and storage areas that seemed to have no relationship to the ice cream parlor in front. The doors they passed were closed, but activity was taking place behind them, going by the noises... people talking, machinery running. Finally they came to a square, white-tiled room that contained several statues similar to the ones Diane had seen in the ice cream parlor. They were arranged in a ring at the center of the room, faces pointing inward. Some were male and some female. All were the same... same bald heads, same blank expressions, same breast and penis nozzles... yet the facial features marked them as individuals. All had been sunk into individual stands at mid-thigh, making them look oddly truncated. Rebecca stared, surprised, but she didn't say anything. Diane gave her an I told you so look.

"The two positions we have are for counter help," the woman said, as if the bizarre statuary did not exist. She handed them each a clipboard with a form on it. "Please fill these out at that table over there."

Rebecca was still looking at the statues. "Do you manufacture them here?" she asked.

"Yes, er, sort of," the woman said evasively. "But these are here for training, so new employees can learn how to operate them."

"Cool," Rebecca said, admiring the sleek curves of the humanoid torsos.

"I'll be back with you shortly," the manager said, and left, closing the door behind her.

Diane had the horrible feeling that, if she tried to leave, she would find the door locked. It seemed her only chance of getting out of here was playing along, so she began to fill out her form. She had the eerie feeling she was being watched, perhaps by those statues.

* * *

The manager paused for a quick smoke in the hall. She was pleased with the two applicants, but the dark-haired girl's hesitation hinted of a problem. Mulling it over, she decided to return to the food prep area. The counter girls scampered out of her way, knowing she meant business. But they were not the ones who needed discipline.

"Unit Cynthia," the manager snapped.

Unit Cynthia regarded her with a blank expression, seemingly defiant of her captor; but that was only how her face had been frozen. Drops of milk pattered from the ends of her nipples in an irregular rhythm. She'd received heavy use that morning.

"You've been talking haven't you."

The unit did not reply. Damn those Mark III machines. They only spoke when they wanted to.

"You do know what the punishment for talking is, don't you?"

The silver lips trembled, moveing with great effort. "Yes." the reply was faint, but unhesitant.

The manager shook her head. Unit Cynthia had served her well and faithfully for six years now; why was she suddenly bent on self-destruction? It made no sense. "Ursula, bring me my tools," she said.

The counter girl brought over the kit. The manager turned Unit Cynthia's head sharply to the left, then used a screwdriver to loosen it from its base. In a few seconds she had been decapitated. The manager packed the head in a soundproof box and taped it securely. "Store this in the back room," she said. Then she picked up the phone and made arrangements to sell Cynthia's body, which, despite the loss of its head, remained fully functional.

She also realized she had a problem on her hands. She needed a replacement machine.

* * *

"Cream?" Rebecca read aloud, reading the punch-tape label on the statue's vastly inflated right breast. "Two percent?" She looked back at Diane in astonishment. "They get their milk out of these?"

"Yes," Diane said shortly. "Don't fool with them, 'becca."

"Hey, I was just looking," Rebecca said, grinning at Diane's double-entendre. She stared into the ice cream machine's frozen silver face. If it had any expression, it might be called serenely blank. Yet it seemed... alive, somehow, for want of a better word. As if it could step out of its appliance well and start speaking to them. Rebecca studied the statue for another second, then pressed down on its abnormally erect right nipple. She shrieked when a chilly white substance shot out of it, splatting her in the face.

"Rebecca!" Diane hissed.

Rebecca wiped her face. "I only wanted to see," she complained. "The manager said that if we're going to work here, we have to know how to operate the equipment, don't we?"

"You want to work here?" Diane said incredulously. "After what I just told you?"

"Why not?" Rebecca said defensively. "All the free ice cream you can eat." She grinned. "Not to mention milkshakes, too--" She pressed the statue's nipple again and extended her tongue, catching the jet of liquid cream in her mouth.

"Don't!" Diane warned. But she was too late.

The eyes of the statue opened. They glowed a blinding white color. Alarms flashed to life in Rebecca's eyes. But before she could close her mouth the single jet of milk had become two, gushing into her face with an angry roar. She shrieked, but it was soon cut off as the liquid became thicker and creamier... almost like thin plaster or latex paint that ran down over her head, down her arms and back, and coated her completely. It was a pristine ivory in color, the color of fresh milk or cream, with a faint sweet odor of vanilla. Rebecca sank to her knees under the onslaught, arms blindly groping for balance. "Becky, try to get away from there!" Diane shouted.

With great effort Rebecca reached up to dash the gooey mass out of her face. It had become thicker, almost like sludgy cement. Her lips formed a pleading cry: "Diaaannneee..." then the white mass masked her once again, continuing to pour down until she was but a vague girl-shaped form on the floor, reminding Diane of a giant blob of shaving cream. She bit her hand to keep from screaming. What was this? What the hell was happening?

Finally the silver breasts dried up. The roar became a trickle, then a slow steady drip. And ceased. The glow in the statue's eyes faded. Diane stood, nerves steeled to run, but she couldn't leave her friend. "Becky?" she called. "Are you all right?"

She heard a muffled cry. Diane went cautiously to the circle of statues where Rebecca had collapsed in the center. Her friend had become a chunky white statue frozen in a kneeling position, her hands spread on her thighs. The cream had become a thick coating, a shell of sorts, making it hard to see more than the basic contours of her body. Her facial features were still there but vague, ungeneralized. "Becky? Can you hear me?"

A faint wail came from deep within the statue: " me... cold..."

Indeed it was very cold within the circle of statues. Diane shivered, drawing her arms tight around herself. The freezing air seemed to be coming from the floor. Diane touched the surface of Rebecca's shell; it felt as hard and slick as ice. She wondered if she could crack it somehow. Perhaps there was some tool in the room that could help her... ?

She felt something in the floor move beneath her feet. She jumped aside to see Rebecca rise upwards on a square dais until she was at the same level as the other statues. At the same time, a square glass case was descending from a hole in the ceiling. It met the edges of Rebecca's dais and sealed itself. Rebecca's panicked cries trailed off as a cool film of condensation appeared on the outer edges of her case. It was clear freezing air was being pumped in somehow.

It's almost like she's being refrigerated, Diane thought, dumbfounded. Like some frozen ice cream treat.

She scrambled to her feet and rubbed a hole through the film on the case and peered in. Under refrigeration Rebecca had undergone another change. She was less rough and more detailed, as if she had been resculpted to her original shape, but nude. Small bits of color appeared embedded in her skin, reminding Diane of candied fruit slices or nuts. Pink-tinted whipped cream covered her hair and pubic bush in creamy arabesques. Two ripe cherries served as her nipples.

Diane pulled back, her hands to her mouth. There was no avoiding the awful truth: Rebecca had been turned into an ice cream sculpture.

She had to get out of here!

She ran to the door, but the knob did not turn. She'd been locked in, just as she'd feared. Cursing, she grabbed the knob with both her hands and pulled hard. Nothing. She stilled to urge to yell for help, rightly fearing the return of the manager... who surely had a hand in what had happened to Rebecca.

The head of the sprinkler system switched on above her, expelling a cool, thick, gas. Before Diane could react it had misted down around her. The air in the room had been freezing, but the mist was well below zero. Before long, Diane stopped moving. She was now a pale rigid figure sheathed in ice, still and silent in her colorful summer clothes... mouth open in a scream, fingers frozen on the doorknob.

* * *

The manager glanced at her watch. Yes; twenty minutes. The new flavor of the day should be ready. She returned to the room and used the tiny spoon she always carried to scoop up a bit of the transformed girl's shoulder. The flavor was delicious: caramel, walnuts, and cherries mixed together in a French vanilla base.

"I think I'll call you... Rebecca Cherry Crunch," she decided, glancing at the girl's job application. What remained of Rebecca was soon wheeled away and stored in the store's main freezer.

The second girl, the suspicious one, had become caught in the ice spray as she tried to go for help. She was frozen in a standing position, one arm slightly raised, eyes fixed on the door. The ice followed the contours of her body in a blocky way, diffracting and blurring the figure within, but the manager could still tell she was tall and attractive, with large healthy breasts.

The manager nodded. Here was Unit Cynthia's replacement.

She put the frozen girl on a cart and carried her to a laboratory equal parts Dr. Frankenstein and Baskin-Robbins: walk-in freezers, banks of computer consoles, strange pipes in the ceiling, and chilly gas escaping everywhere. All the metal parts were rimed with a thick layer of frost. In the corner were several vats labeled CHOCOLATE, CARAMEL, and VANILLA; next to them, refrigerated tanks containing milk and cream. On the side of the room was a conveyer belt where several Mark IV custard dispensers awaited distribution to a Creamee Freeze outlet downtown. Like so many wealthy young women these days the three had no brains and, thanks to cosmetic surgery, an overabundance of mammary tissue; it was a pleasure to see their attributes put to good use. Once rich and idle, they would now lead useful, productive lives for the Creamee Freeze organization... at least until their inner workings wore out.

But this girl was not slated to be a Mark IV but a Mark V, a more advanced and finely tuned machine. One also, she noted, without vocal cords.

She placed the girl the platform of the transformer, making sure she stood in the center of the three-foot circular grid and struck her with a small hammer. The ice coating shattered. The confused girl blinked at her, but she was still paralyzed with cold and unable to move. Her eyes had an awful trapped look in them, and her pinkish-blue lips trembled, trying to force out a word.

"Don't worry," the manager said soothingly, beginning to cut off her clothing. "It will all be over soon... soon you'll join your sisters in the store. You'll begin a new life... a very sweet, decadent life, bringing happiness to hundreds, thousands of people each day."

A faint sound escaped from the girl's throat. "Don't... want to..."

"Nonsense," the manager said. The girl was now nude. The manager ran her hands over her body, assessing her fitness; the skin was cool to the touch, the flesh inert and firm. "Excellent," she murmured. Her fingers stroked the girl's nipples, bringing them to full erection. They would make a pair of fine nozzles. Gently she forced the girl down into a kneeling position and spread her thighs apart with her hand. The manager then raised the girl's torso off her calves so her head was held high, then arranged her arms so she held a breast in each hand as if making an offering. Though chilled, her body was still quite flexible and accomplished the exposed position without any problems.

"Why are you... doing this..." the girl whispered.

The manager was taken aback. It had never occurred to her to ask why. She was just a link in a long chain of others, a hierarchy she didn't understand, didn't even have the capacity to. She only had her orders. She didn't even have a name, not that she wanted one.

"There is no why," she said. "There is only..." Duty? Evil? Compulsion? The manager could not say. "You will see. When you join us, all will be understood." She gathered up the tatters of the girl's clothing and stepped off the platform. At the console she touched a switch.

Chilled and helpless, Diane could only watch mutely as a shiny platinum tube descended from the ceiling, covering her completely. It clicked into place around the edges of the silver circle she knelt on, sealing itself. She steeled herself for the worst.

She didn't have long to wait. The walls of the tube began to shimmer with a silvery iridescence, exposing intricate lines of circuitry with embedded LED lights that blinked off and on in odd patterns. In another second a misty white gas hissed out of the floor. It was thick, heavy, and very, very cold. With a growing panic Diane felt it creep between her legs and work its way inside her; it also infiltrated her lungs and pores. It brought with it an awful chill. She had been freezing before, but now she was becoming frozen: a stiff, solid, heavy mass that could no longer feel the movement of air or the sharp grid beneath her knees. She should have been terrified, but the blinking lights soothed her, numbed her to the fact she was being frozen alive. Entranced, she watched them skate and shimmer, never dreaming that the rapidly changing patterns were echoing the transformations occurring inside of her. Only the outer shell of her remained intact. Normally it would have been an alarming sensation but her senses of touch and pain had been numbed by the cold, and were getting number. Soon she felt nothing at all. But that was all right. The patterns were so pretty, so absorbing...

A light blinked on the console, telling the manager the first part of the process was complete. She pressed another button, causing the girl to sink into the floor as the platinum tube moved up and out of sight.

Diane felt herself moving downward with a mild interest. She was no longer in the tube, but inside a square, dimly lit chamber filled with water. Before her sluggish mind had decided what to make of that a tremendous flash occurred. The water became alive, vibrating with electricity. Diane would have screamed in ecstasy if her vocal cords still existed. The sensation was a thousand times more pleasurable than the most intense orgasm she'd ever experienced. Caught up in the moment, she didn't know she was being electroplated with a shiny titanium-aluminum alloy coating.

A few minutes later the water drained away. Fans dried her, and Diane rose again through the hole in the floor.

With eager anticipation the manager watched her emerge. The new food service unit was voluptuously silver and shiny, crouching on her knees with her hands holding out her breasts for easy access to the milk products they would contain. The statue's eyes were flat and blank, but her lips were parted slightly as if puckered for a kiss. Engraved across her abdomen, below her navel, were the words CREAMEE FREEZE MARK V. Below, in smaller letters, UNIT DIANE.

The manager walked to Unit Diane's rear. A thick electrical cord ran out from between her buttocks and ended in a three-pronged plug. This the manager plugged in a nearby outlet, causing the new unit to purr rhythmically as its refrigeration motor came to life. "So good, so far," the manager noted. She opened the access hatch in the statue's back. Locating the intake tubes, she poured in vanilla syrup, sugar, and eggs, then pumped in several gallons of fresh cream. She closed the hatch and waited.

Diane was still feeling the lingering effects of being electroplated and came back to her senses only slowly. Once the marvelous tingling feeling faded away the shock of her transformation hit her hard. Somehow she was still alive after all this and crouching in a rather degrading position. Something had been thrust into her ass, but she couldn't turn her head to see. She couldn't make a sound or move her eyes, either. Most peculiar of all, she felt her insides churning in a grinding, mechanical way. Whatever was happening, it made her feel very cold.

The manager remained in front of her, smiling blandly. Diane threw mental curses at her for what she had done.

Finally the damnable churning stopped. Diane felt very full and heavy, a sensation between bloatedness and the sensual stupefaction from a very large and delicious meal... at once sleepy, and eager to expel whatever was inside of her out. Her breasts ached with cold yet tingled with desire; they felt full to bursting. So did her... uterus, for want of a better word. The sensation was maddening. Please, she begged of the woman with her eyes, Do something, anything, I can't take it anymore...

The manager didn't acknowledge her. She seemed to be reading something on Diane's chest. Then she nodded and thrust a small object between Diane's parted thighs, moving it under her pubic area. Her thumb flicked upwards, and...

OH!!! Diane saw stars explode behind her eyes. The intense burst of pleasure from her silver-plated clit made something start to... move... deep inside of her. Something smooth and cool began to ooze slowly out of her vagina, not an unpleasurable sensation. Her captor moved her arm with swirling motions, a look of concentration on her face. A second later she held up her work. It was a waffle cone, filled to the brim with coils of soft vanilla custard.

Diane shrieked, or tried to. She'd been turned into an ice cream machine! And not just any, but...

The horror returned on a tidal wave, but now the woman was pressing down on one of Diane's nipples, and Diane felt the same indescribably sensual sensation of something cool and frothy shooting out of her. Whipped cream, it looked like. Diane sighed with shameful pleasure as the pressure in her breast abated. The lovely relief made her see stars again, even though the other breast was still full. But she only had a second to savor it as the emptied compartment inside her chest began to refill itself and the achingly sexual pressure slowly returned. Oh God, how can I take this? Diane thought. Is this...forever? Is there no relief? I'll go crazy.

But the manager was not yet finished. She raised the cone to Diane's lips and touched the tip of her nose. Diane felt a sensation like hiccup as a small object rolled out of her mouth between her pursed lips. It was a cherry, and it hit the top of the obscene whipped cream and custard confection that had been produced by her body.

The manager looked at the cone in a pleased way. She began to eat it, nibbling around the edges like a child. "Very good," she said, looking at Diane. "Maybe later I'll pour in some fudge and nuts to see what kind of Tin Roof Sundae you can make... "

Was this all she was? An ice cream machine? Diane gave a mental howl of sheer anguish. No... she was still alive, able to think and see and hear! What kind of bizarre fate was this? What was this place? Who ran it? She railed mutely inside her chilly prison: Someone, anyone, hear me!

No one heard her. A few minutes Diane took her place in the Creamee Freeze production line with the other statues, hidden from the customers in the front by the false wall. She was connected by a hose to the cream dispenser so she would automatically refill when her levels grew low, and with that she understood she would be kept working from morning to night. And there in front of her was one of the blandly smiling Creamee Freeze counter girls, a cone and a sundae dish in her hand, to put Diane to work. Please God, get me out of this, I'll do anything, anything...

And with an even more crushing despair, she saw the manager writing on the shop's chalkboard: SPECIAL TODAY: REBECCA CHERRY CRUNCH.

* * *

"Where are they?" Harriet said. "It's been an hour. They should have come back here by now."

"You're sure they went to the ice cream place?" Rick said.

"Absolutely." She twirled her soda straw in her hand, feet kicking the plastic rungs of the chair. "I saw Rebecca go over there myself. She was talking to one of the counter girls, then she went down that hall." She sighed. "Maybe we weren't being entertaining enough for them and they decided to split."

"Hard to do when I've got the car keys," Rick said. "Why don't you see what the delay is?"

"Only if you buy me another bowl of that ice cream," Harriet grinned.

* * *

A soft chime sounded, alerting the manager to look at her computer screen. Another of the counter girls had been sold, this one to a new store in another city. She would have to be tranformed, then wrapped, boxed and sent off immediately. In the meantime a replacement for her would have to be found. The manager sighed. It was so hard to hold down good help in the service industry these days...

She snapped her laptop shut and returned up front to retrieve the unthinking counter girl for her preparation. Another girl, a customer, was trying to talk to her about two of her friends. The counter girl was of course no help. The only thing she was able to do was sell her a bowl of Rebecca Cherry Crunch.

The manager hung back, studying the newcomer with a critical eye. She would have made an excellent Mark IV or even Mark V ice cream machine. But what the manager needed now was a counter girl. She would do nicely.

She walked up to the girl. "Can I help you?"

The girl flushed. "I was just wondering where my two friends went. They came in here earlier." She paused, took another spoonful of the ice cream, and added, "This is delicious."

"Thank you. Your two friends are out back; they're applying for jobs, that's all. I believe their names are Rebecca and Diane? I'll take you back there if you want to talk to them."

The girl looked slightly embarrassed. "No, that's OK. I'll catch them later." She continued to eat with a slightly mesmerized look on her face. "My God, I can't believe how good this ice cream is."

The manager smiled. "If you think that's good, come on back and I'll let you try some that's even better. Maybe I can I can convince you to join our family. Rebecca and Diane already have."

The girl showed no surprise at her friends' decision to become employees. "I guess it can't hurt," she reasoned. "This new ice cream better be all that you say it is, though."

"It is and more, I assure you," the manager said as she led the girl to the back. "I have yet to hear any complaints." She paused and then asked, "By the way I didn't catch your name. What is it again?"

"Harriet," said the girl. The manager uploaded the name to her memory. It was a good thing to get this sort of information from them before they were enthralled. After that, they wouldn't remember. Of course, she could always just make up a name for them... but somebody might come by who knew them before. There'd been close calls, but sometimes those incidents led to valuable acquisitions for the organization. Overall, though, it was better just to avoid trouble in the first place by getting their name.

Then the manager looked up, smiled, and said, "Oh, I almost forgot. Jamie, you're wanted in the back room immediately."

The counter girl answered with a toneless "Yes" and followed her with the same vapid smile still pasted on her face. If Harriet thought her behavior odd, she didn't say anything.

The manager led the pair down the long hallway and into her office. In one corner sat a small freezer; inside were several small helpings of ice cream. She picked up one and offered it to the girl. "Why don't you sit down, Harriet."

Harriet tasted the ice cream and shivered in delight. Then she looked up and asked, "Where are Rebecca and Diane? You said you would take me to --"

"Don't worry, you'll be meeting them soon enough," the manager said. She handed the girl a clipboard with a job application on it. "Be a dear and fill out these forms for me. I have some unfinished business with Jamie here to wrap up." She walked out before Harriet could utter another word. The door closed behind her, locking itself as it did so.

That done, she led Jamie to the control room and ordered her to strip. Emotionlessly the girl did so. Soon the Creamee Freeze uniform lay crumpled on the floor, followed by her bra, panties, pantyhose and shoes. The manager then took her arm and walked her until she stood beneath the tube. Gently but firmly she posed Jamie on her back, drawing her legs up until her knees rested on her abdomen, then cupped Jamie's palms beneath her breasts as if she was offering them to her new master. Then she returned to the console.

The tube lowered itself over the helpless girl. There was a whoosh. After a few minutes, the tube rose again. Unit Jamie was now wrapped in a shiny metal coating, fully operational and ready for shipment. It was an easy task to wrap her in bubble wrap and deposit her in a shipping container. The manager poured packing peanuts inside and taped it shut, then wheeled the new Mark IV Unit to the pickup dock. She placed it beside another package of similar size and shape headed for the same location, then returned to the office.

Harriet was sitting there, staring. She had not even finished filling out the employment form. The Creamee Freeze organization would not worry about that oversight.

The manager ordered her to stand. Mindlessly she complied, following the manager back to the room where Jamie had been prepared. She ordered Harriet to strip; in a few minutes another pile of clothing and undergarments lay besides the pile that had been Jamie's. The manager took one look at Harriet's ample curves and registered that she would soon have to start finding a replacement. This one would be sold soon enough.

She led Harriet to the tube. Again the tube was lowered. But this time it did not transform its victim. It merely collected enough physical data from her to construct a 3D image that was uploaded onto the Internet site Creamee Freeze maintained for its franchisers. Store owners had the option to pick from dozens of physical types, both male and female, for their new equipment; once a successful bid was made the candidate was brought to this location and transformed in the control room, then shipped to its new home. There the cycle began anew, the store's mind-controlled employees providing a ready source of new ice cream units.

When the tube rose again the manager had Harriet's new uniform ready for her. Soon she was mindlessly scooping out ice cream with the rest of the counter girls.

It was four o'clock by then: time for her dinner break. All Creamee Freeze employees, no matter what their position, were required to eat the company's special blend of ice cream for their breakfast, lunch and dinner. The manager often thought it was how they maintained such control over their workers (including herself) yet, she was disinclined to do anything about it. She'd forgotten she'd had free will long ago, along with her name and her past. She only knew she had to eat the ice cream or starve, as her system couldn't digest normal food anymore.

Before she went off-duty she checked her laptop. She'd been right in her hunch about Harriet. The new counter girl had already been sold.

* * *

Where are they? Rick fumed. The girls had left him alone over three hours ago. First Diane, then Rebecca, now Harriet. It seemed they'd gotten bored with him, maybe gone off with some guys they'd met. Without telling him of course. He'd tried to kill time at the arcade, then by doing some half-hearted shopping, but malls did not interest him much. Not enough to spend all day there.

For the fifth time he returned to the food court. No sign of them. The ice cream parlor's business had picked up, however. A line six deep had formed, apparrantly in response to the flavor of the day, whatever that was.

He was tempted to get an ice cream cone himself, but he was lactose-intolerant. No matter how good the ice cream was, he wasn't about to put up with the runs for twelve hours.

Well, girls, you've had your chance, he thought. He sighed and left the mall.

* * *

Maria Rubino accepting the delivery of her new ice cream machine with a huge grin on her face. She'd waited so long to become the owner of a Creamee Freeze franchise! And now she was: she had her very own pink-and-white decorated shop with a counter, bistro tables, and freezers in the back, and the proud logo hanging on the wall in all its splendor. Five hundred flavors! Milkshakes! Sundaes! Oh, she'd waited her whole life for this.

With eager hands she opened the crate containing the first of the specialized ice cream machines the company had sent her... machines that were guaranteed to produce the finest ice cream in the world. Ice cream that was guaranteed a net earning of seven digits in less than a year... from the most rapidly-growing and prestigious food franchise in the country.

With a crowbar she attacked the wooden crate. Her smile soon vanished. "What the hell...? " she intoned. Was this some sort of a joke? She'd expected a regular ice cream dispenser, the kind she'd seen in so many stores before, but what she'd gotten was a statue of a nude woman. And a rather lewd one at that, as she had been posed on her back, thighs spread, and held a cantaloupe-sized tit in each hand. The sculpture had been chrome-plated with inset switches and dials as ice cream machines usually were, but there was no mistaking it was a female statue and not a machine.

She picked up the owner's manual. YOUR NEW MARK IV ICE CREAM MAKER, said the type on the front. On the inside were more pictures of the nude girl explaining all the "machine's" working parts, with detailed instructions on how to make various kinds of custards, sorbets, ices, gelattos, and yes, even ice cream.

Maria flipped through the pages in disbelief. How could this be real? How could an ice cream company make a machine like this, for an industry that catered to children and families? She tore through the rest of the packaging, coming across more company literature, with sinister titles such as HOW TO SELL YOUR EMPLOYEES and TRANSFORMING HUMANS INTO ICE CREAM IN EIGHT EASY STEPS. Her eyes threatened to bug out of her head. "We choose only the finest and healthiest young people," the catalog explained, "so you are sure to get many years of service from your new investment."

This had to be some elaborate joke. It had to be. Angry, Maria picked up the phone, calling the number on the brochure's back. "Hello, Creamee Freeze?"

"How can I help you?" said a cool female voice, somehow soothing for all her iciness.

"I'm an owner of one of your franchises, and I'd like to report a complaint."

"Oh?" the voice said archly.

Maria bit her lip. Something wasn't right here, but she couldn't put her finger on, whatever it was. "The ice cream machine you sent me is... lewd. It's obscene. It's in the shape of a girl lying on her back showing her... well, I'm sure you can imagine what I mean! Don't tell me the ice cream is supposed to come out of there!"

"Did you order it off our website, Mrs. Rubino?"

"No. What website? I don't know anything about a website. All I did was sign the papers for the franchise and they said they would send me a new ice cream machine. They didn't say I had to order it myself." Another thought struck her. "How do you know my name?"

"Mrs. Rubino, there is nothing wrong with your ice cream machine," the voice said in its glacial purr. "Really. It's one of our top of the line models, equipped with all the latest fixtures, young and healthy and guaranteed to last at least ten years with normal use. Look at it. Go ahead." Keeping the phone to her ear, Maria went back over to the horrid thing. Engraved below its naval were the words UNIT JAMIE. "That's Unit Jamie," said the voice, as if it was looking over her shoulder. "Unit Jamie will serve you the best she knows, serve you and only you, ssservve youuu as youuu willll ssservve ussss...."

Mesmerized, Maria continued to listen to the voice. A fog descended over her mind. Yes, it was a perfectly good ice cream machine. A little oddly shaped, but that was just so it could do its job. Listening to the instructions the voice gave, she plugged in the machine and poured in the fresh eggs, cream, and ice. The statue seemed to watch her with anxious eyes but she ignoring it, flicking the tiny switch embedded in its chrome-plated genitalia. She was rewarded with a copious flow of soft vanilla custard oozing itself out from between the girl's legs, forming into creamy, delicious coils in the silver dish she held in her hand.

"Eat it, Maria," the voice instructed. Maria raised the spoon to her mouth and began to eat. All her doubts vanished. Creamee Freeze ice cream was the best in the world. And it was a privilege for her to sell it. Make waves? Not her.

* * *

Rebecca knelt mutely in the humming darkness of the freezer. She should have been shivering except she was now made out of ice cream. Cherry crunch ice cream, to be precise. With her consciousness fully intact... and her body scooped out, little by little by the mindless Creamee Freeze counter girls. Her torso and thighs were pockmarked with holes, her left arm nearly gone. A deep concavity had been dug out of her crouch; she could see the bottom of the shelf through it. Only her head remained intact.

What happens when that goes, she thought. The initial panic at being transformed had left her; now all that was left was resignation. Will I cease to exist?

The thought was an interesting, in an existential way. She couldn't really "die" if she had no living body to die. She could only be consumed. Since she didn't feel herself being swallowed and digested--or even scooped out for that matter--it stood to reason that her mind, such as it was, had no real connection to her ice cream body. But if that was so, then why did it still seem to inhabit her ice cream skull, and see through her (unseeing) candy-slice eyes?

She thought, as she had thought so often over the past six hours, that if the shop had the advanced technology to transform human bodies into ice cream, the shop could also transform her back. The thought brought with it a sluggish hope. But could it work if so many parts of her were missing? And not only missing, but completely unrecoverable...

To her right and left lay the remains of other ice cream statues: headless, armless, legless, all of them slowly melting and refreezing into ill-shaped blobs. Samoan Almond Fudge. Blueberry Muffin Ripple. Peanuts n' Popcorn. Transformed girls like herself, their features melted like wax. The horror was palpable. Rebecca wanted to scream, but she couldn't. She could only wait for the inevitable.

Suddenly, light. There in front of her was one of the hypnotized counter girls with a silver dish in her hand. Harriet! Her friend wore the pink-striped uniform like she'd been born to it, her eyes fixed and blank.

Don't do it, Harriet, Rebecca begged. It's me, Rebecca! But it was no use. Smiling insipidly, Harriet pulled Rebecca out on her tray and dug into her right breast with the scoop. One scoop, two, three, and the right breast with its cherry nipple was gone. Then Rebecca was pushed back in the freezer and the door shut.

God, please grant me insanity before I am totally gone, Rebecca thought.

* * *

Ten o'clock. It was time to close down for the night. The manager directed the cleanup and evening preparations. The counter girls obeyed like drones. They all slept here, on stacked pallets in the back. That is, until they were sold...

Checking the freezer, she saw the supply of Rebecca Cherry Crunch was gone. Only a small blob remained, most likely from the girl's head. She scooped it up with the spoon she always carried and swallowed. It tasted just as good as it had when it had been created.

The melted remnants of the girl remained on the tray in a frozen puddle. The manager poked among them with her spoon, uncovering what lay at the bottom. "Yes," she smiled, extracting the object... a long silver sundae spoon, the gleaming handle of it a perfect likeness of the vanished Rebecca. She was nude, her tiny toes flaring into the bowl of the spoon, her shapely form providing a good gripping surface for its shaft.

Rebecca felt herself lifted; the face of the manager loomed large before her. What am I? What's happened? She felt herself being carried back into the shop. A drawer opened. Inside it was a collection of spoons, all of which had a distinct and individual female shape. Long-handled sundae spoons, the sort designed for tall ice cream glasses. She felt herself being placed inside, to join the blank faces and trapped bodies of her sisters.

No, this can't be happening to me... she thought, but it was, and nothing she could do could prevent it. The drawer closed, sealing her in darkness. Instead of ending the long nightmare was only beginning.

* * *

After putting away the spoon the manager decided it was time to take care of the new order she'd received that afternoon. "Come here Harriet," she said. Smiling, Harriet turned from the counter. "Follow me." She led the girl into the maze of halls, coming at last to the freezing back room where the ice cream machines were created. "Remove your clothes. You've been sold."

Harriet's placid expression remained unchanged, as the manager knew it would. All the teen's fears had been deadened hours ago by the mind-controlling ice cream she ate. Wordlessly she obeyed the curt order, stepping out of the perky striped uniform and her bra and panties. The manager nodded in appreciation as she stripped. Harriet's goosebumped flesh was superbly shaped and in peak athletic condition. Her breasts were on the small side compared to the Mark V machines, but she wasn't going to be manufacturing ice cream anyway. Her fate was similar, but different.

"Stand on the platform," the manager said. Harriet obeyed, going over to the concentric coil in the floor that had transformed so many girls before her. There, ever pliable, she let the manager pose her on her hands and knees so her breasts dangled below her. The manager drew Harriet's knees in slightly so she was as compact as possible, then raised her head so she looked out in front of her; with her fingers she pursed Harriet's lips. Then she put a tray in Harriet's hands with orders to hold it below her breasts, a six-inch clearance between them. She made sure Harriet's back was level, then moved over to the console.

Harriet waited patiently. She had no curiosity about her fate. The only thing she knew was pleasing her mistress. It gave her a warm, throbbing feeling inside, an emotion somewhere between resignation and happiness. Soon a moving silver tube descended from the ceiling and covered her, and she grew very cold. Curious sensations danced over her skin, penetrated her body... a cold, heavy, somehow sexual feeling that was slowly increasing in intensity. Yes, yesss.... Harriet thought as the machine made her over into metal and plastic. She lost track of time.

A few minutes later the tube lifted. Harriet had been turned into a gleaming chrome-plated sculpture. Her left breast had been changed into a funnel-like cup, the nipple a tiny spout. The right breast looked similar, but its nipple had been lengthened by four inches into a sort of tube. In the middle of Harriet's forehead was a pressure gauge and on either side of her temples, two knobs. At the top of her head was a screw-on cap that looked remarkably like a bellhop's hat. Between her buttocks ran an electrical cord.

The manager nodded. She plugged Harriet in and unscrewed her cap to fill up her water tank. Harriet felt an uncomfortable sensation of fullness, like she had to pee and void her bowels at the same time. However, there was little she could do about it. A few minutes later the manager replaced the cap and detached Harriet's left breast. It came away with a metallic click. With horror Harriet saw it was hollow inside. The manager packed a few spoonfuls of fresh-ground coffee inside it, then snapped it back into place. She placed a mug on the tray Harriet held under her nipple and flicked the switch between her breasts.

Oh! Harriet felt her transformed body come alive. Liquid was trickling inside of her, bubbling and boiling. The feeling was sexual in nature. She grew increasingly excited as the pressure built, coursing through her abdomen towards her chest. Just as she thought she would die the climax came. Aaaahhhh... Steam hissed out from between her pursed lips as the rich, dark espresso slowly trickled out of her nipple, flowing like a fountain into the coffee mug below. When the flow had stopped the manager placed the mug between Harriet's legs below her pubic area. Before Harriet knew what was happening she had orgasmed again, warm milk spurting out of her body and into the steaming mug, which was then placed beneath her right breast. The manager turned the knob on the right side of Harriet's head and Harriet came yet again, steam shooting shot out of the abnormally erect nipple to froth the cappucino into a lather. The climax went on and on, the erotic sensations amplified by the swishing motions the manager performed with the mug.

Finally it was over. Harriet gave a wheezing sigh, the last wisps of steam escaped from her lips. The pleasure faded, was gone. It was then that she realized she'd become an espresso machine.

The manager tilted the mug to drink. The logo on it said MOONDOGS.

* * *

The new Moondogs stand opened a day later. Rumor said it was owned by the same company that operated the Creamee Freeze across the food court. Whatever the case, it was instant sensation... both for the quality of its coffee, and the novel shape of its single espresso machine.

Harriet was kept busy from sunup to sundown. The barristas that tended her all wore the same uniform and kept the same smiles on their faces. Day in, day out, every day was the same for her. Bleak tedium followed by mind-numbing orgasms, and the inevitable cleaning and scraping of her interior plumbing. Every once a while one of the barristas would turn up later, she was sure, as equipment in a new Moondogs latte stand somewhere else in the city.

If there is a hell, she thought, this is it. And promptly forgot it, when one of her customers requested a double...

* * *

Diane waited many days for some sort of rescue. When none came, she resigned herself to her fate. She was more than a little bitter. Surely someone would have noticed she and Rebecca and all the other girls had gone missing? Send police to investigate, at least? If only she could speak, move, do something! But it was impossible. She couldn't speak or move. Going into explosive orgasms every few minutes didn't help either.

Gradually she realized that parents and friends were coming round, as did the police; but the free ice cream samples they were given always made them forget. The same samples enticed other young men and women into working for the shop, becoming first mindless counter help and then shiny new ice cream machines shipped out to Creamee Freeze franchises across the country. Diane was sure that had been Harriet's fate. Her friend had started working at the store the same afternoon Diane was transformed. But she'd disappeared that night, right before the new Moondogs Coffee opened up. Diane later heard a customer enthusing about the "erotic espresso machine" and sadly realized her friend's fate. It made her deeply depressed.

The other ice cream machines in shop tried to cheer her up. They had all been transformed the same way she had, and during quiet times they were able to communicate with each other with a weak form of telepathy that came from sharing the same electrical current. They didn't have much to say however. Months or years in captivity had eroded the distinct personalities they'd once had, leaving them little more than sentient objects. Diane often wondered if the same fate awaited her.

Unit Felice was her closest neighbor. The girl had long since forgotten her last name and even how she'd come to the shop, but she took a shine to Diane. *It feels good doesn't it,* she said. *Every time they use you, when the ice cream comes out of your body.*

She was alluding to the debilitating, but enjoyable orgasms, and Diane reacted with surprise. *Oh, don't worry,* Unit Felice reassured her. *You'll get used to them soon enough. I did. We all did.*

*Who runs this place,* Diane said. *Besides that bitch of a manager I mean.*

*I don't know,* Felice said. *A regional manager comes by every once in a while. She checks the records and sometimes takes a counter girl away. She and the manager talk, but I don't hear what they talk about.*

*I think the regional manager is a sorceress,* said the whipped cream dispenser to Diane's left, a young man who didn't even know his real name anymore. *She has evil eyes. I saw her touch one of the counter girls who spilled a drink. She changed into a picture on a cardboard slurpee cup. I saw it right in front of my eyes. She didn't even have to use the control room machine.*

*Has anyone ever escaped from here,* Diane said.

*No,* the two said in unison. *That's impossible. You should just enjoy it.*

But Diane never did; she was always aware of the freedom she lost. Only resentfully did she grow accustomed to the new rhythm of her life. Staff arrived at nine, filling up the machines with the day's ingredients and setting out the tables. At ten the first customers arrived. There wasn't a lot of business in the morning, but it picked up at noon, growing slowly but steadily until school let out. Then they became very busy. A lull occurred around dinnertime when the shoppers sought more substantial food, then the pace picked up again as the evening movies were run. At ten the place closed down. The equipment was cleaned, the money counted, the floors and counters swabbed. At eleven the lights went out. Diane might get some open-eyed sleep at that point, if she was lucky. Her metal body didn't really need to, but it relieved the boredom.

Day after day passed in enforced tedium. Christmas came, and with it Gingerbread flavored custard and eggnog from her tits. Then it was Easter and the flavor was mint. After that summer, with chocolate and vanilla and caramel crunch. Soon it was anniversary of her disappearance. Naively, she'd expected to be transformed back after one year of service, but the day came and went without anything important happening.

Another year passed the same way, then two, and three and four. Little by little Diane lost hope and began turning into the machine she now was: unthinking, unfeeling, always ready for her owner's use. She joined the other units in happy oblivion.

Soon it was year eight. The Mark V machines were outdated by that point, so Diane was unplugged and auctioned off (along with Felice and the others) to a restaurant supply house that sold used equipment. There she sat in silence for six months next to the secondhand freezers and hot dog grills. By then she, too, had forgotten her last name and her past. It had been a conscious decision on her part. Why remember it, if no one knows you as human?

Finally she was sold to the proprietor of a small circus. She was kept busy under the big top for a few more years churning out custards and milkshakes. It was more interesting than her old job, but she wasn't maintained as well. Soon her custard lost its creamy consistency. One breast started to clog, and the other produced a bad-tasting liquid instead of whipped cream. Bit by bit her interior machinery was breaking down. The circus's owner did all he could to procure replacement parts, but they didn't halt her inexorable decay. Finally, after many years of faithful service, she broke down for good. Smoke drifted from her lips as horrible grating noises came from inside her; her motor had finally kicked the bucket.

The owner shook his head. There was nothing to be done. Her exterior was still good, so, like the businessman he was, he sold her to a curio shop where she was marketed as an erotic statue.

She attracted many lascivious looks, but no one bought her. The times had turned conservative by then. Not that it was a surprise to her. She'd long known fashions and slang had changed from her years at the circus, where she'd worked under an open tent. It was in the shop that she became aware of an interesting paradox in her existence. Since her machinery, her transformed inner organs, had ceased to function, why wasn't she "dead?" Why was her consciousness still hanging on? It made no sense. For eight months she pondered it until a group of college students bought her as a lark. Finding her too heavy, they gutted her, removing her useless interior workings. Well, that answers that question, she thought.

Now a shell, the students repainted her in more natural colors and kept her in their frat house, a position of both abuse and honor. She spent four years there, a college legend, until she was pushed out a window one night during a drunken party and badly dented. She spent another year in the house's cellar before being dumped, along with some old armchairs and mattresses, at the end of a dirt road outside the city's limits.

Six years passed. She squatted in the rain and cold, weathered the sweltering heat, as her paint flaked off and her skin began to weather and decay. She adjusted her mind to the passage of seasons, the flights of birds. A hole opened in her side where'd she'd been dented; a rabbit family nested inside. Spiders explored her nasal cavity, centipedes her chest. One day her right arm fell off. Finally a county cleanup crew noticed the illegally dumped trash and hauled her and it away. Being made of metal, she was sent to the scrapyard.

No pretense was made of selling her now. She was put on a long conveyer with others pieces of scrap to be melted down.

Even after many years Diane still kept something of her dignity. Bravely she sat, a nude statue on her knees, one arm holding one breast as if in offering. I am Diane Galindo, she thought, taking back her old name. Maybe in the afterlife she would find out why she and so many others had been so strangely transformed. Perhaps she would find recompense for losing the best years of her life. She still had no idea why all this had happened to her. It made no sense.

Higher and higher she went. The sky was a deep shade of blue, the sun warm on her metal back. It was a good day to meet her maker. Of course, that was assuming she could meet her maker... perhaps, after all this time, her metal body and human soul were inexorably joined. If so, what would happen when she was melted down? She didn't think she would feel pain in this form; she'd never felt pain (though those orgasms had been mighty nice) but what would happen when she was liquefied? Would she later become the bumper of a new car? An outboard motor? A pepper grinder? None of these sounded appealing. Even more troubling, what if her liquefied body were distributed among many different items... her dissolved head here, her shoulder there, her legs and feet somewhere else... where would her consciousness reside? In one object? Or would it be stretched thin among many, until it dissolved into nothing?

These were troubling thoughts. As she trundled along a second conveyer came into view and paralleled her own. Diane was shocked to see a battered silver statue similar to herself... Harriet! She was crouching on her knees, her breasts and arms missing, but she was still Harriet, the Moondogs logo still stenciled on her buttock. The two conveyer belts intersected, bringing the two statues together. Familiarly they bumped shoulders, facing as one their impending doom.

*This is the end for us, isn't it,* Harriet thought. Diane didn't know how she could hear her, but she did.

*Yes,* Diane said, responding using the same silent telepathy. *It certainly does seem to be the logical conclusion to things.*

*You know, when I was human I used to read these wild stories about people getting transformed into inanimate objects,* Harriet said. *Most of them were on the internet. The plot device was magic, or advanced science, or even myth... the characters became statues or tchotchkes and were treated like that, impersonal, exploited. Sometimes they forgot who they were; they were just objects, unconscious. But they always got transformed back.* Harriet paused for a second and then added, in a guilty way, *I really used to get a kick out of those stories. Wallowing in the victim's plight, imagining what they felt like... but I never expected it would happen to me. Not like this.*

*Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes,* Diane said, recalling a Harlan Ellison story she'd once read.

*True,* Harriet said. They had similar taste in literature.

*I'd always assumed we would be rescued too,* Diane said. *It makes no sense. But then, nothing about this makes sense.*

*Yes,* Harriet echoed. *Who ran that company, anyway? And why did they transform people into food service machines instead of buying them from a restaurant supplier? It would have been a lot less troublesome.* She sighed. *Oh well, it doesn't matter now.*

*I wonder how many other people met this fate,* Diane mused. *They must have transformed hundreds, thousands... how many of these bowls and batteries and small appliances were teenagers once, or... oh! Look!* Some of the detritus on the conveyer had shifted, exposing a long-handled spoon. A spoon with a familiar shape, and familiar face. Rebecca! She was badly nicked like she'd fallen into a sink's garbage disposal unit, but her face was the same, and she was smiling... another shift of debris sent the spoon slipping between Diane's thighs, depressing that buttonlike part of her that had not given her pleasure in many years.

*Oh!* she squealed. The jiggling motion of the conveyer only increased the sensations.

*Well I'll be,* Harriet said. *Becky, is that you?*

*AAAaaahhhhh!* said the battered spoon. Only its bowl was now visible between Diane's legs.

I always knew those two had a thing for each other, Harriet thought. She noted with surprise that a similar object was sliding towards her. It was smooth and tube-shaped, much battered but still clearly recognizable as an old vibrator. There was a familiar face on the end: Rick.

How could it be, after all this time? What strange roads had he traveled that led him to this fate? But the object was slipping between her legs, entering her, and in another second she and Rick knew the same ecstasy Diane and Rebecca did. At least we're all togther, Harriet thought. The same way we were at the beginning of that summer. Young and innocent and free.

The Rick vibrator hummed its agreement.

They reached the top of the furnace. Harriet felt a nostalgic wistfulness came over her. I wonder what will happen now? she thought. Is this really the end for us? Or will we finally receive some answers?

The fires roared below, a white-hot pit. She felt herself start to slip over the edge.


Continued in Part II...

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