PART ONE: "Opening Remarks"
Magdalena Cartier saw the model hopefuls before they saw her, and that was just the way she liked it. People tended to lose their natural movement and expression and demeanor in the presence of fame and fortune. They became restricted and forced and artificial. And that made it harder to assess their talents and attributes, and choose for them their proper place in the Hose Queen family of fine nylon wear.
Perhaps, Magdalena thought to herself, ‘fame and fortune’ is too generous a self-assessment. Not every head of a multi-million dollar corporation is a recognizable celebrity. But she was different. The Cartier name was synonymous with Hose Queen, Inc., and Hose Queen has been the name in female hosiery for over a century. From silk to nylon, stockings to pantyhose – the many different lines of Hose Queen products had guaranteed women beautiful, perfect legs the world over. And unlike other large companies, where women have only recently gained entrée to the corridors of power and decision making, the head of Hose Queen has always been a woman. And always been a Cartier. And the latest personification of Hose Queen was Magdalena Cartier, herself.
Thurston Wembley, her longtime Head of Operations, was nearing the end of his opening remarks. The glamorous executive took another quick look at the cards containing descriptions of the invitees to this late night gathering, and the recommendations for their modeling assignments. The recommendations were mostly correct. She did make a note to change the assignment for two young women in bare legs (that wasn’t very smart; and she made a written note for another, rather unattractive, young woman’s assignment, whose selection she would discuss with her scouts.
How the girls grouped themselves always fascinated her. There were a couple of pairs that were obviously friends before they arrived. A threesome of attractive young women stood near each other, but were trying to create an impression of not being together. Interesting. There were a few loners. A diminutive, but quite attractive, oriental girl. One larger size young woman – the first one of those at a midnight call. And another young woman with long brown hair who had very lovely legs, but who was making a concerted effort to use her hair to hide her face. Yes, Magdalena thought looking at her card, that assignment is perfect for her.
Finally, there was a third pair of models standing together, one a bit older than the other, but still very attractive. The younger girl looked very familiar – as if she’d been here before. Magdalena knew that wasn’t possible, but there was some resemblance.
And the older of the two. Magdalena didn’t recognize her face, but did recognize her aura. Yes, Magdalena had seen that aura often in the business world. As Wembley wound up his legal and financial details, and began his introduction of the Hose Queen head, Magdalena took the cards of the younger and older female ‘friends’ and tore them in two. Their fate would be determined as the night unfolded.
" . . . . and so it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you a lady who embodies class, elegance, intelligence, beauty, and success. My boss and friend, the owner and chief executive officer of Hose Queen, Incorporated – Ms. Magdalena Cartier."
Magdalena walked toward the small dais and took Wembley’s outstretched hand with both of hers as the assembled models-to-be applauded. She stepped to the podium where Wembley had stood, and smiled her most photogenic smile.
"Thank you, Thurston, for those very kind words. What makes them even more meaningful to me, is that we’re nowhere near annual review time." Wembley laughed heartily, and a couple of the older girls also chuckled. The rest were either too nervous or too young to get the joke.
"And to all of you. Welcome, ladies, to Hose Queen!" Magdalena spoke with an enthusiastic flourish, and the prospective models responded with more applause.
The elegant hostess of the late night festivities waited for the noise to die down, and then began a short, well-rehearsed and oft-used speech.
"I don’t plan to bore you with a long speech, although a friend once assured me that it was impossible to be rich and boring." A few chuckles accompanied Magdalena’s humorous aside. "But I do want to say a few words about why you all have been invited here under, shall we say, unusual circumstances."
"I’m sure that some of you are here tonight because you would very much like to pursue a career in modeling, but since you are not 14 years old and shaped like a stick, you find it a difficult field to enter." A few more laughs, especially from the heavy-set, shorthaired blonde.
"Others are here because of how flattered you were to be singled out by one of my talent scouts – probably at the local mall, or some other public place. And whether you plan on being a model or not, a few extra bucks is a few extra bucks."
"There may even be a few of you who are here for something more. An opportunity to achieve something you thought was out of reach. An opportunity to grab the brass ring from a carousel you thought you’d never get the chance to ride." Silence this time, but Magdalena could tell from the shy brown haired girl’s downward look, to the twinkle in the older woman’s eye, that she had hit a nerve.
"For all of you, and for all of your reasons – plus many of my own – this night will be something special. I cannot promise fame or riches. I cannot promise that your name or face – or legs, I suppose – will be in the limelight. But I can promise that after tonight at Hose Queen, your lives will never be the same."
"There are many reasons why you have been chosen to come here – at Midnight – to become Hose Queen models. My competitors and detractors would say it’s because I am too cheap to hire professional models." Magdalena chuckled, but then grew serious again. "But there’s a more important reason. I’m sure all of you read or look at the fashion magazines. And you see that nylon has virtually disappeared from sight. When I go to a movie premiere or fund raiser or social event, sometimes I’m the only one wearing pantyhose. But then I go into banks and offices and law firms and department stores, and see that women who have to work for a living are wearing hose. And I realize that I’m no longer making my product for the rich and beautiful of Vogue or Marie Claire. I’m making my products for working women. For ordinary – and yet, very beautiful – women. For all of you."
"My job is to make the average, everyday, working woman, a little more glamorous, and a little more beautiful. And your job, is to help me do that.
"And for that very important job, I thank you very much. And I look forward to what we will accomplish here together tonight." The group burst out in applause again, and after a few seconds, Ms. Cartier raised her hands to quiet the group.
"Thank you for that reception. Now our Hose Queen staff will be giving you your modeling assignments, and accompany you to your modeling area."
There was another smattering of applause as Magdalena stepped away from the podium. She lightly took Thurston Wembley’s arm and guided him away from the group and back toward the Executive Suite.
"As usual, Magdalena, an inspiring speech," Wembley effused.
"Thank you, Thurston. Did everyone show? I was thinking we had invited thirteen. Or maybe I was just hoping, considering one or two of the choices."
Wembley coughed nervously. "Uhh, yes, I think I know what you mean." He opened a leather portfolio and scanned a paper within. "Actually, there were thirteen invitations. But one of the young women – an Amber Bankhead – was more of a ‘maybe.’ Said she had some kind of engagement or interview out of town earlier in the day, and wasn’t sure she would make it back in time. I guess she didn’t."
"Well, those things happen. We will need to check in with her in a few days. Make sure there are no loose ends."Wembley nodded. "I’ll get back to the group."
"Just a couple more things, Thurston." She handed her assistant two cards torn in half. "I’ve changed the assignments for these two. Just an instinct."
Wembley put the halves together. "All right. Oh. Shame about this one. I think she would’ve made an excellent candidate for the Archive. Perhaps the long, brown haired girl – the one sort of withdrawn . . . ."
"You have a good eye, Thurston. But I think her assignment is the correct one. No, the Archive can wait for now. These things have a way of working out. Just put these two on hold for now."
"As you wish, Ms. Cartier." The short stocky man nodded, and headed back toward the foyer. Magdalena continued toward her office suite, to make a couple of phone calls and check on a few suspicions before overseeing the night’s activities.
"Your fax is coming in right now, Raymond," Magdalena spoke into the phone as her computer printer made a whirring noise signaling the start of a print job. "As usual, I knew I could count on you. If I need anything else, I’ll call in the next few minutes. I’ll be in touch late tomorrow to begin our usual ‘tidying up.’ Good night, Raymond." Magdalena pushed the off button on the cordless phone, then placed it on her desk. It was nice having a detective like Raymond Marlowe on retainer. He was very thorough and very discreet. She read the printer sheet quickly, then smiled and nodded.
"Yes, I thought so. If the memory is the first to go – I guess I’m not gone yet." The Hose Queen head picked up her phone once more, and dialed in only a few numbers.
"Thurston. I believe I’ve come up with something for our two ‘question marks.’ Yes. Have them sent to ‘Fitting’ first. Give the older of the two ladies style ‘Black X.’ And the younger . . ." Magdalena paused, and took a brief look at her own legs and nude shade of pantyhose. ". . . a nice Taupe shade, something with a little glimmer, but not much. No, just a regular pair will do fine. Then they are to report to File Room 2 – yes, Thurston, I know what files are in there. Tell them they’re going to model as secretaries. Make sure the timing is such that theirs is the last session of the night."
This time Magdalena put the cordless in its cradle, and sat back in her high back chair. Yes, it would make a fitting ending to this special night ---
Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door, and a familiar male voice called out. "Miss Cartier! Miss Cartier, are you in?"
Magdalena walked to the door and opened it. There was her night security guard, Winston Raleigh, standing beside an attractive young black woman.
Raleigh took off his hat in Magdalena’s presence. "I’m very sorry to bother you, Ms. Cartier. But this young woman insisted that she had been invited, and demanded to talk to you personally."
Before the executive had a chance to offer any opinion, the young woman quickly spoke. "I really wasn’t trying to cause trouble. But I did get an invitation to the modeling session, and I was only about a half-hour late, so I thought it would be okay. I mean, I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity, and the only reason I’m late is that my plane was late getting in, and then I couldn’t get a taxi, and then . . ."
"I do hate to interrupt a fine string of excuses," Magdalena cut in, "but you mentioned you were invited. May I see your invitation?"
"That’s the thing, Ms. Cartier. I asked for that as well, but she said she left in her luggage," Raleigh began.
"Which was also delayed at the airport. And if I waited for it to arrive to get my invitation, I would have been here even later."
Magdalena continued. "And what is your name, my dear?"
"My name is Amber Bankhead. I had told your representative when I was invited that I wasn’t sure I could make it because of a prior engagement. I was just afraid you had written me off, and I would have no chance to model. That’s the only reason I was so pushy. I’m sorry – it’s just been a very bad day." The young woman’s exasperation was close to tears, but Magdalena respected the fact that she chose to hold back on so obvious a ploy for self-pity. Raleigh must have sensed the same thing, as the security guard’s countenance softened.
"No hard feelings, young lady. I’m just doing my job."
"And you did the right thing, Winston," Magdalena offered, and the young woman’s face fell, thinking she was about to get the boot. "But, Ms. Bankhead is expected, so return to your post and I’ll let you know if I need you later."
Winston nodded at his boss, and then gave Amber a little smile and nod as he ambled back toward his front door station.
"Thank you so much, Ms. Cartier. I realize I don’t have very much modeling experience, but you won’t be sorry that you gave me this opportunity," Amber thanked the Hose Queen owner.
"Your thanks may be a bit premature, Miss Bankhead. The only opportunity I’ve given you thus far is the opportunity to stay inside on a rather dreary night outside. Your tardiness has meant that all of our predetermined assignments have been taken. I’m not sure any openings remain that can best utilize your modeling assets." As she gave her little consolation speech, Magdalena walked around her female visitor, taking careful note of the young woman’s figure and features.
Amber Bankhead was very attractive. She was dressed in a gray wool suit that suggested her earlier appointment may have been a job interview. Underneath the gray jacket was a black silk blouse, ruffled at the collar. Her jet black hair was pulled back tightly, with a small bun at the end, tied off with a large red hair pin. Her shoes were expensive looking black leather pumps with a two or three inch heel. But what really attracted Magdalena’s attention was the young woman’s hosiery selection.
The lady executive recognized one of her own brands immediately. It was one of the newer styles - Power Hose was the name of this new line of pantyhose designed for female professionals. Miss Bankhead was wearing the Nude shade, a good selection considering her well shaped and dark hued legs.
This intense anatomical inventory made Amber nervous at first, especially the way Magdalena Cartier stared at her legs. But the young woman reminded herself that she was there to model hosiery, and Ms. Cartier was simply inspecting a prospective product. And the time the executive was taking seemed to suggest her approval. Amber congratulated herself on taking a few extra minutes at the airport boutique to pick out a pair of Hose Queen’s most expensive pantyhose.
"I honestly thought my ‘other business’ would take only the morning. It was just an intern position at a design house on the West Coast. But the interviews and waiting just went on and on. For what it’s worth, I kicked myself the whole time for jeopardizing this opportunity to be a part of Hose Queen." Amber didn’t want to be overly apologetic, but she did want to impress upon Ms. Cartier the importance of her earlier appointment and, by implication, her strong qualifications for the fashion industry.
"Intern position? An excellent opportunity. When will you know something?"
Now is the time to play the sympathy card, Amber decided. "I’m afraid I knew before I flew back. I didn’t get the position. Which makes being late here all the more exasperating." Amber looked for some sign of a crack in Magdalena’s persona, but the hosiery queen’s gaze was fixed on Amber’s sheer legs.
"Those are our pantyhose, aren’t they? I mean, they are made by Hose Queen, I believe?" Ms. Cartier asked.
"Oh yes. I think they’re called ‘Power Pantyhose’ - or maybe just ‘Power Hose.’ They’re very comfortable and rather attractive - I think."
"Yes," Magdalena nodded. "Very." The woman rubbed her chin for a moment, deep in thought. "Intern, eh? Hmmm." Magdalena walked over to her desk and picked up her cordless phone. "Thurston. Our thirteenth model arrived a little late, and I’m speaking with her in my office. I’ve decided to create an intern position for her here on the Administrative Wing. When you’ve finished what you’re doing, meet me at the Archive." Magdalena replaced the phone, and turned to Amber. "Now I’m being presumptuous. Would you be interested in such a position?"
Amber could hardly contain her enthusiasm. "Oh yes! Very interested! It’s a dream come true, in fact."
Magdalena smiled. "Excellent. Come with me to our Hosiery Archive. There’s some information I need, and then we can get started."
The executive led the way out of her office, and Amber Bankhead followed closely behind, still not believing her good fortune. Ms. Cartier walked at a very fast pace, but Amber noticed that was a common trait among powerful women. Even those who wore high fashionable heels as the Hose Queen head was wearing tonight. Amber had to hurry to keep up, being careful not to make a misstep on her heels and turn an ankle, and making a mental note to practice speed walking in heels.
While Magdalena’s speed and singularity of purpose did not surprise the African-American beauty, the executive’s silence did. As they walked down a few corridors toward this ‘Hosiery Archive,’ Amber expected Ms. Cartier to point out various office landmarks – like restrooms or break areas – or at least give her new intern a broad overview of the office landscape they were so quickly traversing. But Magdalena was in a hurry to get where they were going, and broached no chit chat or guidance. Amber echoed her new boss’ silence.
Finally, the two women reached a large glass wall at the end of a corridor. The name ‘Hose Queen Archive’ was stenciled in large letters on the glass, with ‘Archives’ and ‘Files’ in smaller letters on each of two small glass doors. Magdalena quickly punched a code in a numeric lock at the side of the doors, and the two ladies entered.
The receptionist’s area had a large desk with computer, and a small waiting room off to the side. Down the hall past the waiting area was a series of doors. The first was marked ‘File Room 1,’ and while Amber couldn’t read what the others were marked, she assumed they were additional file rooms numbered sequentially. But tonight’s business lay behind a locked wooden door at the end of a short hall on the other side of the archive area. This door was marked very simply ‘Private – Do Not Enter.’ Magdalena raised her arm to reveal a beautiful gold charm bracelet. She selected a tiny key charm from the bracelet, and carefully inserted it in the door. The two women entered a small anteroom, and on the wall opposite the outside door was a beautifully ornate door carved out of a rich, dark wood. A square plaque was affixed on the wall beside the door, made from the same wood but lettered in italicized gold. It read ‘Hosiery Archive.’
Magdalena turned the last ‘e’ in ‘Archive,’ and a small panel dropped out of the bottom of the sign. Hanging on the panel was a larger, very old looking key. Ms. Cartier put the key in the magnificent door, and turned the lock.
"Ms. Bankhead," she began, smiling, "Welcome to my private Hosiery Archive."
Ms. Cartier opened the huge door, and flipped several light switches inside the room. She stepped back, and made an exaggerated sweeping gesture with her arm, directing Amber to enter the room.
At this point, the beautiful young woman was overwhelmed by the whole process of arriving at this point. She wasn’t sure whether it was exhaustion from her full day of activity, jet lag from her flight, or nervous energy from going ‘toe to toe’ with one of the most powerful women in business. But the bottom had fallen out of Amber’s stomach, and there was the distinct sound of alarm bells and warning buzzers going off silently in Amber’s mind. Desperately fighting the urge to turn around and run away as fast as possible, Hose Queen’s newest archive intern took a deep breath, and entered the archive. And the modeling hopeful was shocked to find ---
--- nothing, actually. Well, it was a huge room. It’s walls were filled with all kinds of switches, and panels, and blinking monitors, and sophisticated alarms. And apparently all those expensive gadgets were in place to protect – several empty pedestals scattered throughout the room.
For a moment, Amber thought that perhaps whatever valuable items had been stored in here had recently been stolen, and Ms. Cartier would be phoning security and the police. But when there was no noticeable reaction from the CEO, Amber thought that perhaps this was an exhibit still in its infancy, and part of her job as archive intern would be to help develop some sort of collection. But when Magdalena simply sighed and said in awed tones, "Magnificent, isn’t it," Amber had her most frightening thought of all: Perhaps she was in a remote and locked area at the mercy of a very powerful and possibly mentally unstable woman. No wonder her flight instincts had kicked into overdrive.
"Please excuse me, Ms. Bankhead. You must think I’m like one of those people who walk invisible dogs around on leashes. It’s just that every time I come in here, I take a few moments to remember what it looked like the last time, and the time before that, and so on. And I’m best able to do that when the room is just like this."
That was somewhat reassuring to Amber. At least Ms. Cartier was acknowledging that there was nothing in this room. But if there was nothing here but memories, why did she need an intern?
Magdalena walked over to one of the panels nearest the entrance, punched in yet another security code opening the panel door, and then she pushed a large red button.
That was when Amber began to be awestruck.
The first sound she heard was that of multiple engines coming to life throughout the room. That was followed by multiple gasps and whooshes of air, as hydraulics in each pedestal activated, lifting an interior steel cylinder out of the pedestal, like a folded telescope being unfolded. Now there was a smaller pedestal sitting on top of the larger bases throughout the room.
Then the steel walls of the smaller cylinders began to slide back into the large base. And what this lowering curtain revealed made clear the name of this special room. Now, on top of each pedestal in the Hosiery Archive, was a pair of legs, each wearing a different style of Hose Queen hosiery.
As Amber stood staring, mouth open in amazement, Magdalena pushed another button inside the panel, and the leg displays began to slowly turn, making an even more impressive showing of the beautiful nylon sheathing each pair of legs as the overhead lights struck different parts of the spinning fabric.
Amber began to wander among the displays. In one area of the room, the leg models were adorned with silk stockings. Then the nylons of the pre-war and post-war era came into view, with garters snapped tightly in the black and tan ringed tops, then leading into the pedestal base. About half of the displays consisted of this early history of Hose Queen products. And then the pantyhose displays began, with waists and buttocks sitting atop the cold pedestals.
The new intern admired not only the quality and variety of the Hose Queen stockings and tights, but the realistic detail of the leg mannequins. The shape and pose and musculature of the models were too realistic and detailed to be assembly line mannequins. No, these were hand sculpted and hand crafted.
"The legs," Amber began, "are they wax or stone?"
"The early ones are wax. The later models are a special mix of wax and plastic."
"They’re really very good. Very realistic." Amber continued to admire the displays. And even though she considered herself one hundred percent heterosexual, she couldn’t help but be aroused by the blatant seductiveness of the poses and the glittering, glistening nylon.
After a few moments of such reverie, Amber shook off her artistic appreciation, and began to ponder what role she might have as an intern in this area of Hose Queen. She did note that while the displays were in a kind of chronological order, there was no indication of the exact year or style or product name on any of the pedestals. Remembering how limited access was to this area, this was no doubt because this collection was the Cartier’s private preserve. But this collection also had historical – and commercial – value, and needed to be made public. Maybe that’s what Magdalena Cartier had in mind when she decided to enlist Amber’s help as an intern. The black beauty turned to ask her new employer just that, and noticed that Magdalena was retrieving some sort of large remote contraption from another of the wall panels, and walking over to Amber.
"As I mentioned before, Ms. Bankhead. Before you can begin your new intern position, I need to gather some personal information." The Hose Queen CEO was holding the device in front of her, reviewing the keyboard.
Apparently, Amber thought, this was some sort of palm computer, although it looked more like a cross between a television remote and a stun gun.
"Certainly," the girl said cooperatively, "I do have a resume in my bag . . . ."
"Oh, no. I won’t need that. This is more of a, shall we say, fashion inventory. Now let me see," Ms. Cartier looked Amber over a few moments, and then starting punching keys on her mini-computer. "That is a wool suit, I presume?" Amber said yes. "And the blouse is silk – any rayon or polyester in the blouse?"
Amber shook her head no. This was an odd kind of application for employment. But this was an odd setting for completing an employment application.
Magdalena continued, looking down Amber’s body. "We already know what kind of pantyhose you’re wearing. Good girl." They laughed. "Are your shoes leather throughtout? No rubber?"
Again, Amber nodded.
"Now, please pardon me for getting somewhat personal. But I assure you this information is absolutely essential. Are you wearing a slip?"
"Uhhh, yes. A white, nylon slip." Despite Ms. Cartier’s assurance, this did seem rather odd.
"And your bra – cotton or nylon? Metal or plastic hooks?"
Standing amidst spinning nyloned legs, Amber knew she shouldn’t be embarrassed, but this was getting more and more personal.
Magdalena continued to punch keys and ask questions. Amber’s panty style was next. Cotton, just like her brassiere. Next came questions about her jewelry: necklace, rings (maybe, Amber thought, this is a clever way to ask whether she’s involved with someone at the moment), earrings. Magdalena even asked about nail polish – toenails and fingernails – and the material makeup of the red pin holding back her hair. In fact, the CEO even asked if all her hair was real, or whether she had one of those fake hair buns. Amber laughed nervously, assuring the woman that everything she saw was real.
"About how far does it fall when you let your hair down?" Ms. Cartier asked. Amber showed her it was about mid shoulder length, but now this was getting too weird.
But not nearly as weird, or personal, as Magdalena’s last question.
"And finally, Ms. Bankhead. Are you currently in your menstrual cycle, and/or wearing any sort of feminine products in that regard?"
Amber’s mouth fell open in shock. "Ummm, no, but . . ." she had to be careful here. She didn’t want to blow this opportunity, but she had to let the executive know that this was not an acceptable question.
But before she could say anything, Magdalena pushed a few more buttons, and then announced, "Well, that should be all I need. I’m pleased to say, you’re just what I’m looking for, and you’ll start your intern position tonight."
That sort of diffused Amber’s indignance, and she started to say thank you, and tell Magdalena what an asset she would strive to be for Hose Queen, Inc. But before she could say anything, Magdalena extended the ‘palm computer’ toward Amber’s face, and touched her cheek with the metal prongs extending from the end of the contraption.
Amber’s earlier observation about it looking like a stun gun was partially correct. When the device hit her cheek, a severe shock went through the attractive young woman, and she staggered back, twitching uncontrollably for several seconds.
"Whhhhaattt dddiiiddd yyooouu dddooo tttooo mmmee?" she managed to say between convulsions.
Magdalena said nothing, but as the convulsions reduced in number and intensity, the head of Hose Queen took the young woman’s arm, and gently led her to one of the empty back pedestals.
"I think you better sit down for a moment. That can be quite a shock at first."
As she sat down, Amber was relieved to realize that the shock seemed to be wearing off. She was starting to gain control back of her thoughts and movements. Her first thought was to use what movement she had to get the hell out of there. Now.
"I – think – I – want – to – go," Amber started to say, and started to get up. But she noticed that her hairpin had broken and fallen out, and her hair was starting to come unbundled. When she reached up to catch it, the sleeves of her wool jacket began to come apart, and fell to the floor. In fact, the threads throughout the jacket and skirt were coming apart – nearly disintegrating – and in seconds Amber was wearing only her blouse and slip.
"What’s – going – on?" she asked in a still halting tone. Now her leather shoes had come apart, and her stockinged feet were touching the floor. The blouse was next to go, and then the slip began to come unraveled.
The young woman was in full panic mode. Not only was the classic nightmare of being undressed during an important meeting coming true, it seemed to be the result of some massive fabric meltdown.
But not just fabric. Amber felt a slight burning on her ear lobes, and felt a small pool of melted metal where her earrings had been seconds before. The same thing was happening to her necklace and rings. By the time her necklace had melted and fallen apart, her bra was completely gone, and she sat naked to the waist on the cold pedestal.
Amber had been so preoccupied with literally ‘coming apart at the seams,’ that she didn’t notice Magdalena press a recessed button in the pedestal base, activating a large sliding panel in the middle of the pedestal surface. What appeared to be a thick yellowish goo filled the base of the structure, and was only inches from the surface.
The panicked intern felt a strange tingling inside the crotch area of her pantyhose. She looked down in stunned silence to see that her bikini panties had literally disintegrated. And even stranger, as best as she could tell through the small cotton panel of her hosiery and behind the middle seam, her pubic hair seemed to be gone as well. All she had left was her pantyhose, and at first she wondered why they had not disintegrated.
But then she looked around at all the displays. Stockinged and pantyhosed legs pointing upward on pedestal after pedestal. All of Hose Queen’s best selling brands. All except the brand she was wearing. There was no display for Power Hose.
No display, that is, until now.
By now, the physiological effect of the stun remote computer, or whatever that thing was, had almost completely worn off. Another moment or two, and Amber Bankstone would be heading out the front door of this horror museum.
But before that moment passed, Amber felt something grab hold of her nyloned feet and ankles, and lift up, pushing backwards. All that Amber could say as her head and upper body headed for the thick goo was, "My job? My job?"
The last words were garbled as Amber’s head went into the preserving resin. There were a few struggles, and the black girl’s shapely legs kicked back and forth a few times. But they were firmly in Magdalena’s grasp, and in a couple of moments, the legs became quite still. Magdalena was about to let go and retrieve the hypodermic from its wall panel, when Thurston Wembley walked into the Archive.
"Thurston. Just in time. Please bring me the mannequinizing formula."
Wembley retrieved the large needle, and carried it to his employer. "You know I’m not good with needles, Ms. Cartier."
Magdalena sighed. "Yes, I know Thurston. So you can pose her." Wembley grabbed hold of the nyloned legs, and awaited instructions.
The CEO stepped back for perspective. "She has very long, attractive legs. I don’t want to lose that effect. I think we’ll put one foot just under the other, as if she’s about to start rubbing it against the other leg."
Wembley got up on the rim of the pedestal, and put the feet in position.
"Yes, that’s it. Hold it right there." Magdalena approached the legs, and injected half of the mannequinizing formula into each thigh.
The effect of the formula was rapid. In seconds, the waist and buttocks hardened completely. The plasticizing agent moved up each leg, and in only a moment or two, Wembley noted, "I feel the feet hardening."
"Good, she’s done then," Magdalena acknowledged.
Wembley stepped down, and Magdalena slowly began to close the panel separating Amber Bankhead’s upper and lower halves. As the panel reached the midsection, Magdalena punched in a couple of new codes on her remote, and then touched the edge of the panel. The unit softened the panel steel, and it flowed around the girl’s waist, making a permanent seal before it hardened once more. Now it looked like the pantyhose display ended right on the surface of the pedestal.
"As usual, you’re right, Magdalena. She is lovely. What made you think of it?"
"Actually, it was Ms. Bankhead herself, and her talk of wanting an intern postion," Magdalena stated, as she walked back to the original wall panel. She punched in a few numbers that added the previously inactive pedestal to the rest of her exhibits. "Now she’s ‘in.’" And just like all the other displays, Amber’s Power Hose pantyhosed legs began to spin. "And now she ‘turns.’"
"You do have a way with words, Ms. Cartier. But won’t we have to put a preserved pair of pantyhose on the exhibit?" Wembley asked.
"Ahhh, that’s why I pay a research team." From a different panel, Magdalena retrieved a spray can, walked over to the new Power Hose exhibit, and sprayed Amber’s pantyhose liberally.
"A new spray from the lab. It will actually preserve the wear, appearance, and fragrance of the nylon for years."
"Don’t want that to get on the market, do we?" They both laughed.
"No," Magdalena agreed. "But it certainly does improve the look of my archive."
"Speaking of your researchers, they are at work on something now. I think you’d better get back to the office in case there are any questions."
"As always, Thurston, you are completely practical, and completely correct." Magdalena put away all the accoutrements she had used in converting Ms. Bankhead, and then stepped to the main wall panel. She started to turn off the pedestals and close them, but stopped. She looked at her chief assistant, with a girlish hopeful look on her face.
Wembley sighed. "All right. You can take another look. But just a short one."
Ms. Cartier grinned, and pushed another button. This time, the walls of the pedestal bases slid away, exposing a clear unbreakable glass enclosure. Magdalena turned off the room’s main lighting, then turned on recessed lighting inside the pedestal.
There in the many bases throughout the archive were the upper torsos of all the models whose legs formed the main part of this museum. All perfectly preserved in a clear, yellowish amber resin.
Another switch activated special mirrors in the pedestal, which made the upside down upper torsos appear upright. Magdalena walked through, admiring her perfectly preserved female specimens of beauty through the decades. At last she came to Amber Bankhead. As the newest addition to the Hosiery Archive, Amber’s hair and face, neck and breasts, arms and hands, all looked fresher and more alive.
"You know, Thurston, I think I’ll call my newest addition ‘Forever Amber.’"
"Very appropriate, Ms. Cartier. Except for one thing."
Magdalena looked puzzled. "Oh? And what is that?"
Wembley looked around the room. "Well, none of the other exhibits have names."
"Oh." Magdalena followed Wembley’s searching gaze. "You’re right. Well, no use going to all the trouble to name all of the exhibits, just because you have a clever name for one of them, I suppose."
The two walked back to the wall panel, and deactivated all of the special lights and panels.
"But, Thurston, if the next exhibit has a clever name that jumps out like that, I’ll think we’ll go ahead and name them all. Agreed?"
"Agreed, Ms. Cartier."
Magdalena closed the wall panel, and then turned out the archive lights, just as the steel walls closed around Amber Bankhead’s – and all the others – legs, and the exhibits sunk back down into their perpetual resting places.
"Let’s get back to my office, Thurston. We have a busy night ahead of us." Magdalena said, as she closed the door to the Hosiery Archive, and prepared for a night of surprises and unusual events at Hose Queen, Inc.
Better known tonight, as the House of Hosiery Horror.
To Be Continued... Read "House of Hosiery Horror, Pt. 2"