The blonde pantyhose model was also relieved. She hadn't known what
might be lurking in the rundown shack. At worst she expected dead bodies,
creatures, or some kind of strange trap that would have made her the swamp witch's next victim. But it was just an old barn. And it made Franny think that
maybe the "swamp witch" was just an old woman. A little crazy maybe, and smart enough to figure some out some kind of illusion to distract the models long
enough to strip them down to their pantyhose, and then keep one of the them trapped in the basement. But that didn't make her some kind of supernatural fiend.
The girls had obviously panicked, and that no doubt played right into the old woman's plan. Well, as soon as she found Donna Jo, things would change.
Since the girls still needed transportation, and there was evidently
none on the path Donna Jo had taken, Franny decided to ride the bicycle
around the back of
the house and look for some kind of car or truck. There was none, but the attractive blonde soon caught sight of a small orchard at the top of a slight hill. That's
probably where she would find Donna Jo. As she rode the bicycle to the orchard's gate, she saw the tractor sitting at the back near a fence and what appeared
to be a smaller and newer tree. But there was no sign of her blonde friend. The relief of a few moments before was being replaced by fear once more. Did the
old woman take Donna Jo back to the house? Back to the basement with Arietta, perhaps? To perform some nefarious ritual?
"Stop it!" she scolded herself. Donna Jo was probably heading back to
the shed the same way she came, and Franny had missed her by coming the
That probably meant Donna Jo couldn't get the tractor started. Franny was a little better at mechanical things, so she might succeed where her friend had failed.
As Franny passed the trees, she noticed that many of them had two large
pieces of fruit hanging from their front. Not fruit, really, more like
melons lay in a cart attached to the tractor, and on the ground around the vehicle. Franny walked the bicycle up next to the tractor, trying not to step on the
melons - or the sticky white juice that had spilled from the busted melons - with her stockinged feet.
An eerie wind whistled through the orchard trees as Franny began to
examine the tractor. Everything looked all right. It even had a starter
button instead of a
key. Why hadn't Donna Jo brought the tractor over to the barn?
And then she heard it. A whispery soft voice that seemed to be calling
her name. Fran-ny. Fran-ny. She looked around, among the trees and outside
fence, but saw no one. It must have been the wind. But when she reached for the starter button again, the sound came again. Louder, and more urgent. Franny!
Fran-ny! This time the sound seemed to be coming from the orchard's newest tree, right next to the tractor. Franny stepped over to the tree, thinking maybe
Donna Jo was hiding somewhere near it. All she could see was a brown trunk, not quite as weathered as the other trees. Hanging from the top were two large,
whitish melons, similar to the ones on the tractor and hanging from the other trees, and yet somehow newer and fresher. It was just a tree, and yet there was
something familiar about it, its branches outstretched like two long arms, seeking escape from a prison of roots and soil. Franny was about to turn away, when
she a long slit near the top of the bark. And when she stepped closer, the slit began to open and close slowly. And a sound came out. A sound that said "Fran-ny,
Fran-ny." And the voice was Donna Jo's. And Franny screamed
"Donna Jo! Donna Jo! Oh my God, it can't be!" She started to step closer,
and then backed away with the same movement. She looked down the bark of
tree, and saw how it looked similar to two long legs merged together. But the trunk went into the ground, with its roots . . . .
The ground! Oh God, Franny thought, it's the ground. And she hopped
into the tractor cart, fearful that the ground would swallow her own nyloned
minute, and turn them into roots. Just as they had to Donna Jo.
"Fran-ny. Fran-ny. Help me!" The tree that was - or had been - Donna Jo continued to implore.
"How? How, Donna Jo? You're too big, I can't pull you out of the ground." Franny cried.
"No. No." The slit moved slowly, forming its last words, its last message, ever. "I'm . . . too . . . ripe. Pick them. Please pick them. Too . . . heavy."
Them? What was Donna Jo talking about. Pick what? And then Franny's
eyes fell upon the melons. And saw the familiar shape. And while she didn't
what they were now, she knew what they had been.
"No, I . . . I can't."
"Pleeeassee. . . ." the tree whispered, nearly at the end of its ability
to speak. "Plllleeaaasseee. . . ." And the slit stopped moving, the bark
closed over it, and the
tree would not - could not - speak again.
Franny stepped out of the cart, and stepped gingerly to the tree, looking
down at her feet encased in tan webbing, feeling for any movement of the
soil upon her
silky soles. She reached out and touched one of the melons, and it felt hard and slick, like a piece of fruit. She took a firmer grasp, and pulled. The melon came
loose with a sucking sound, and Franny placed it gingerly in the tractor cart. She did the same with the other melon, and hoped that somehow in her new form
Donna Jo was more comfortable.
As she set the second melon down, and turned back to the trunk to say
goodbye, she saw two small buds begin to bloom where the melons had been.
was truly flora now, and no longer fauna. But in her reverie, Franny failed to notice that roots from the other trees were beginning to emerge from the ground,
and were gliding toward her. Only when she felt one of the roots lightly touch her stockinged foot did the pantyhose model look around to see the legion of living
attackers heading her way. If she had to run, the roots would have grabbed her for sure and held her until the swamp witch returned. But Franny jumped on her
bicycle, and began pedaling madly, running over the roots and closing her ears to the sounds of their cries.
Franny quickly pedaled away from the orchard, her athleticism heightened
by the adrenalin of fear. The witch's house loomed before her, but the
turned the bicycle away from it and headed toward the road leading out of the swamp. She felt a sharp pang of guilt for deserting her friends, but after seeing
what had happened to Donna Jo, there was surely no hope for the others. All she could do for them now was find a way to escape, and find someone who could
put an end to the swamp witch's evil.
As she approached the area where their van had sunk into quicksand,
Franny carefully walked the bike past the area and onto the dirt road leading
then hopped back on and pedaled hard once more, ignoring the pain in her feet and behind, as those thinly covered areas came in contact with the hard rubber
pedals and vinyl seat. Occasionally she would look behind her for any sign of the witch, but the road was empty. Of course, other than the tractor in the orchard,
there was no transportation at the house. So, there was really no way for the old woman to follow her.
Just as Franny reassured herself with that thought, she heard a loud
whooshing sound in the sky behind her. She slowed the bike, jumped off,
and ran it over to
the side of the road near a large tree. She nearly cried out when she looked up through the branches to find the source of the sound. There silouhetted in the sky,
as if it had been drawn by some children's book illustrator, was the swamp witch astride a large broom. Her high pitched cackles echoed through the swamp
Franny watched the old woman dive up and down along the road, hurling
large white gobs onto the road and into the nearby woods. One of the globs
Franny and the bike, and struck a small sapling a few feet away. Franny looked in horror as the white gooey substance spread rapidly up and down the length of
the tiny tree, and then saw the plant change from wood to stone. If one of those gobs hit the pantyhosed model, the swamp witch would have a new statue for
her grounds. As the flying broom headed back into the sky, a trail of smoke came out of its end. The witch made several turns and loops, and when she was
finished, a smoky message was left behind: "Surrender Franny!"
"This can't be happening," the blonde model whispered out loud, and
even pinched her arm in hopes of waking from the most bizarre dream she
had ever dreamt.
But it wasn't a dream. There was still an ominous message in the sky, and a petrified tree on the ground.
The lovely model knew that she couldn't travel the road, or anywhere
near it, since one hit with that gob and her bike would be disabled, or
she would be turned
into art. So, she pedaled deeper into the woods, still heading in the general direction away from the swamp witch's house. Hopefully, the canopy of the swamp
forest would keep her out of the witch's - and harm's - and white gob's way. And double hopefully, there were no sinister traps awaiting her in this thick and
Franny rode and rode, for what seemed like hours. It had been a while
now since she had heard the hideous whoosh and cackle of the swamp witch
above. That was the good news. The bad news was that what little sunlight filtered through the tall trees had all but disappeared. Darkness was falling, and it
seemed that the forest would never end. The blonde model looked back in the direction of the swamp witch's house. Surely she was far enough away by now.
Besides, she had to try to make the road once again, regardless of the risk. It was getting too dark here in the thick of the woods.
She turned the bicycle in the direction where she believed she would
intersect the road. She knew she might encounter wild beasts or quicksand,
but she had
come to believe that such a fate would be better than one suffered at the hands of the swamp witch. The forest began to thin out, and a weary Franny kept
pumping her nyloned legs. The woods behind her was completely dark, but there was enough dusk remaining ahead to reveal the long empty space of the dirt
road. She had made it. She gathered enough strength for one last push out of the woods, bracing herself for a possible encounter with the swamp witch.
Instead, when she reached the road, she was caught in the beam of bright
headlights, and a large car threw dirt and rocks behind it as it screeched
to a halt just
a few feet from where the exhausted model sat on the bicycle, shading her eyes. Franny prepared to pedal away if the old woman got out, but instead she
recognized the round face of the models' agent, Bert Haley, coming toward her.
"Franny? Is that you? My God, what happened to you?"
The blonde model dropped the bicycle and rushed into the man's arms.
"Oh, Bert, Bert! It's awful, horrible?" She abruptly stopped her crying,
and looked around.
"We've got to get out of here, now! Come on!"
She was pulling the man back toward his car. "Hold on, Franny. Keep
it down. My mother's inside there. I drove out here to pick her up before
coming to check
on you all. Where's the other girls?"
Franny ran to the other side. "Just get in, Bert. And step on it. Anywhere but to that Hell House you sent us to!"
With a puzzled look on his face, Bert got back in the car and drove
off. Franny looked in the back to see someone covered up, snoring slightly.
"Mom's a heavy
sleeper, thank God. But shouldn't we head to the house and pick up the girls . . . ."
"No!" Franny screamed, and then composed herself. "There's no girls
to pick up there anymore. Something has happened to them, all of them.
Bert, and let's go get some help."
"Okay, Franny, we'll get some help. You sit back and relax. We're heading
for the nearest town." The man continued driving. "What happened back there?
Where's your clothes?"
"I don't know, Bert, I don't know. The old woman at the house, she did
something to us. She did something to Arietta. And she changed Donna Jo
into a . . . into
a," and she started to cry.
"Don't worry, Franny. Just sit back and take it easy. Everything will be over soon."
Franny lay her head back and tried to go to sleep. She was exhausted,
but much too frightened and alert to rest. She looked out the window and
swamp woods begin to thin out as the car headed for the nearest city. She started to nod off, but something occurred to her.
"We're headed for the city, right?"
"You bet. And straight for the police," Bert said.
"But, you didn't turn around. You said you were headed for the old woman's
house, but now were heading for the city. And you didn't turn around. That
you had to be coming from the house . . ."
Before Franny could finish her thought, the backseat passenger threw
off her blanket. "That's right, my pantyhosed pretty. Looks like you surrendered
sweet Franny." The old woman cackled, reached up and grabbed the shocked blonde model around the neck, and pulled her into the backseat. Franny's
stockinged feet kicked in vain as the witch pulled her closer. One foot struck Bert on the back of his head.
"Hey! Take it easy, Ma. I'm trying to drive here, okay?"
When Franny heard Bert say Ma, it all came together in a horrifying
instant. The remote photo shoot, the unusual setting, Bert's sudden appearance.
witch was Bert's mother. But clarity was not helping Franny in her struggle. The old woman had incredible strength, and combined with Franny's exhaustion, the
young model was no match.
"You're a feisty one, all right. But that'll change once I get you under
my cloak. You'll find being lingerie much more relaxing, sweetie." The
old woman was
unbuttoning her cloak, and pushing Franny's head inside at the same time.
"Hey! No way, Ma! Remember your promise. I get one," Bert interjected.
The struggle continued, with Franny's nyloned feet kicking against the
car ceiling. "I'll keep my promise, Sonny. But let me have this one. She'll
make a real nice
pair of pantyhose. Just like her friend, Christi."
Pantyhose! Christi! Oh, God, is that what the old woman had planned
for her, Franny thought. The thought of her being pulled over the old woman's
legs almost made the model retch. But the swamp witch had more of her cloak unbuttoned now, and Franny sensed that once she was inside, her future would
be a nylon one.
"That's right, Ma. You already made one of 'em pantyhose. You promised one to me, and Franny's all that's left."
Franny was still struggling, but it was becoming a losing battle. "Alright
then, I won't make this one pantyhose. How about a nice sheer black bodysuit?
you can have the one I made into a vase? You'd like that vase, Bert. Real nice, with all kinds of handles built in, if you know what I mean . . . ."
"No, Ma, I don't want a vase. You promised me something for my car, and Franny's going to be it!" Bert insisted.
By this time, Franny was in no position to argue. Her whole body, except
for her head, was inside the witch's black cloak, and she was already starting
lighter, as if flesh and bone were beginning to change to sheer nylon. But just as she was about to disappear into a soft and shiny oblivion, the witch pulled her
out of her cloak. "You always got your own way, Bert. As a boy, and as a man. You want her, you got her."
The witch kept one arm around Franny's neck, and grabbed her nylon sheathed
ankles with the other. She aimed Franny's blonde head at the front of the
and for a moment, the exhausted model thought the old woman was going to throw her through the windshield. But then Franny saw the middle of the dashboard
fuse together, become rounded, and then open into a rubber rimmed, gaping hole that seemed alive. "In you go, sweetie!" The witch cackled, and hurled the girl
toward the opening. Franny braced for a crash, but instead of a hard impact, her body slowed momentarily as it approached the hole, and then her head and nude
chest were sucked in. Franny tried to scream, but the opening filled with a soft goo that surrounded, encased, and then numbed the beauty. She was indeed
disappearing into a peaceful and pleasurable oblivion, but it was not a silky one.
Bert continued to steer the car on the windy country road, but his concentration
was frequently diverted by the shapely and kicking nylon legs beside him.
shiny tan limbs disappeared into the hood of the vehicle, Bert's arousal was in overdrive.
"What the hell is happening to her, Ma?" Bert finally asked with a dry
mouth and a tremor to his voice. As he spoke, Franny's'struggling ended,
watched the bottom of her lovely feet disappear into the dashboard, a small nylon seam under her toes the last to go.
"Pull over and wait, Mister 'But You Promised, Ma,'" the swamp witch whined mockingly, and Bert pulled the large car to the side of the road.
The old woman got out first, and walked to the front of the car. Her
son followed, and listened under the hood as Franny's body was being shaped,
"This better not hurt the engine. I just got the oil changed yesterday." Bert warned.
"Shut up and watch," the swamp witch scolded, and they both focused
on the front of the hood. The noise in the engine area grew less and less,
and then quieted
completely. And then, something small and bright begin to emerge from under the hood. It seemed to seep through the steel exterior, like a small molten stream.
But Bert soon noticed that the stream had a definite shape. An extremely feminine shape. And when the stream stopped, Bert gasped aloud at the sight.
A small, but perfectly molded female figurine was affixed to the front of his hood. The right arm of the figure pointed upward, while the left arm rested under the small but well shaped breasts. The figure was of pure gold. And it looked exactly like Franny, even having a tiny gold band around its waist and a miniscule golden nub under a raised foot that was once the bottom seam of the pantyhose.
"Ma, it's wonderful." He walked over and hugged her. "You're the greatest!"
"That's enough of that. You'll probably have to melt her down when you get to the city, or someone will steal her for sure."
"Yeah, you're right," Bert said, as he helped his mother to the passenger side of the vehicle. "But we can enjoy her till then. Right?"
"Yeah, yeah," the old woman agreed. "It's late, son. Let's get going. You've got a bikini shoot scheduled for tomorrow don't you?"
"Sure do, Ma. And you're going to love these girls." He said, putting
the car in gear, and driving into the night, a small gilded Franny leading