A Day at the Beach (revised)

by Vincent Jarrod

[This is an updated version of this classic tale of transformation that has been expanded and updated. Ed.]

Melody received her change, put her receipt in the bag, and joined her three friends near the door of Mrs. Turner's Beach Emporium.

"Which one did you decide on?" asked Josie, Melody's red haired roommate at Hanna College.

The bubbly, busty blonde pulled out a hot pink bikini and held it up in front of her vacation mates. "I fell in love with this pink. The shade reminds me of something, but I can't remember what."

"Probably bubble gum," thought Alexandra, the brunette, bitchy sister of Josie's boyfriend, Alex. She looked in at her own purchase, a one piece shiny gold maillot suit, that had fit skin tight in the dressing room, and would look even better on the beach in the bright sun tomorrow.

"How 'bout this baby?" teased Valerie, a beautiful black girl who was a friend of Josie's from drama class. She pulled out a shiny brown two-piece, with a very small top and a thong bottom. "The shade is 'Cocoa,' and it blends in perfectly - just like I was wearing nothing at all." The girls wooed and whistled.

In between laughs, Josie looked at the clock. "Omigosh. It's almost midnight. We were lucky to find this place open so late to get our suits. We don't want to overstay our welcome." The four coeds had arrived at Newform Beach well after dark, and were concerned that they would have to buy their suits at the hotel's expensive swim shop, or waste part of their first day at the beach trying on suits. But then they found Mrs. Turner's Emporium, and almost immediately each had found the perfect swimsuit. Even finickly Alexandra. Josie had decided on a thin navy blue mesh one piece, that was a bit more sheer than she was used to. But, it was spring break, and time to cut loose and be something different.

"Enjoy your day in the sun tomorrow, girls," Mrs. Turner called from behind the counter. "If you have any problem with your suits, come back here to the emporium. Remember, alterations are free."

The girls called out their goodbyes and thank yous, and left the store. Mrs. Turner watched them drive away in their Chevy Blazer, and then smiled a wicked smile. "They'll be back, all right," she said, and cackled wickedly. "They all wind up back here in my emporium." She locked the door and started to turn out the lights, when she heard a noise coming from the poster rack. She pushed the black frames back one by one, until she found where the sound was coming from. It was a large poster of a beautiful oriental girl in a bright green bikini. The noise was coming from the girl's lips, which were still moving. Mrs. Turner also noticed that there was a slight rise and fall in the beauty's chest, and even a slight rise in the poster from the nipples showing through the bikini top. "Good thing no one bought you today, my lovely Jade. But you'll be completely transformed by morning." She moved the other posters back to cover the noise, and then extinguished the lights. She expected to have a very busy day tomorrow.

Leaving her three friends still splashing in the ocean waves, Melody returned to their cluster of beach towels and plopped down uncomfortably. The shapely blonde rubbed her belly and upper thighs, trying to relieve the pain and cramping that had forced her out of the water. Maybe it was something she ate this morning. Or maybe it was her new bikini. The hot pink suit had fit perfectly at Mrs. Turner's Emporium the night before, but now it seemed to be too tight a fit. Maybe later she'd take it back for an exchange, or an 'alteration' as the shop owner had offered. Now, she just wanted to get some sun.

After a few minutes of hot sun, a small shadow appeared above her. Melody opened her eyes to see a small girl standing and pointing. "Look, Mommy, she looks just like my Spring Break Dorrie doll." The mother quickly called her daughter back to her side, and Melody propped up on her elbows to see the young girl playing with her small plastic doll. Dorrie was a popular, Barbie-like toy that had just hit the market, and parents were lining up to buy them. Melody thought the doll looked enough like Barbie to prompt legal action, but could see a faint resemblance to her own figure and features. What really caught her eye was the empty box the doll came in. Now she knew why her bikini's color had looked so familiar. It was the exact same shade of hot pink as on the doll box.

The young girl looked at her doll more closely, and then back at a smiling Melody. "Mommy," the girl started, "how come their boobies look different?" Melody thought that was a very strange question until she looked down at her chest. Oh God, the bikini top had shrunk so much that one of her breasts was exposed. The blonde co-ed embarassedly mumbled "sorry" and "excuse me" to the disapproving mother, and tried to adjust the top. But the pink material would no longer cover the breast, and the other breast was almost exposed as well. Melody quickly covered herself with one arm, while reaching into her beach bag in hopes of finding a t-shirt or other cover. Nothing there. She looked toward their hotel, but it was far down the beach. As she looked, her eyes fell on the beach entrance of Mrs. Turner's Beach Emporium. Maybe she could make it there before turning this beach into a topless one. She quickly rose, continuing to cover her breasts with folded arms, and headed for the bikini shop.

The lovely blonde got more than a few stares and wolf whistles as she parted the crowd heading for the Emporium. She was happy to finally reach the store, and even happier to find the only customers exiting the street entrance. Mrs. Turner saw her come in, and welcomed her. "I remember you from last night. You were the pink bikini, I believe. Is everything all right?"

Melody lowered her arms, and now both lovely breasts were exposed. "Oh my," the owner said. "That's not right at all. Let's step in the back." Melody followed the old woman into a back room. It was a combination office, storage area, and sewing room. Mrs. Turner handed Melody a terry cloth top, and the blonde put it on, handing the old woman her pink bikini top in exchange.

"Oh no," the old woman shook her head, looking at the diminished fabric, and then back at Melody. "This isn't right at all. Has the bottom shrunk as well?"

"A little, I think," Melody answered. "But it feels very uncomfortable in that area."

"Yes, yes. Well, the key is the bikini top. If it doesn't do its job, then everything is off." Melody didn't know what she meant, but nodded anyway. "Let's get you another top, shall we?" And the old woman stepped back into the shop, and returned with a bikini just like the one that Melody had purchased. "Try this top on, and let's see how things go."

The coed discreetly slipped the new top on, and it fit perfectly. "That fits," she said, "but so did the other one before I went into the ocean."

"True, my dear. But let's test it out. Step over here to this shower stall." Melody stepped into a small tiled area. "I have this hose hooked up to a special concentration of sea water. It would be like going in the ocean for many hours. I use it to test my suits. Let's give your top a try." And before Melody could say yes or no, Mrs. Turner turned on the tap, and began spraying Melody's bikini top with the salty water. She soaked the fabric thoroughly, and then handed Melody a towel.
"We should know something in a minute or two."

As Melody dried off, she still only felt the tightness in her waist. Hopefully, Mrs. Turner would exchange that part as well. But in a couple of minutes, the lovely blonde began experiencing a similar tightness up her stomach, into her chest, even out her arms. "Oh, oh, something is happening. I feel . . . strange . ."

The old woman helped the coed into a chair. "Now just relax, and let the bikini do its work."

"Its work? What do you mean . . . ooohhh!" This pain hit hard, and Melody felt her toes and feet literally curl up. "What's — happening — to
me?" she cried out, and looked at Mrs. Turner. But, incredibly, the old woman seemed to be about twelve feet tall. Now the cramping was joined by stiffness throughout her body. The bikini beauty could no longer move. She opened her mouth to scream for help, but no sound came forth. And her mouth closed for the last time. Melody's last mental image was of the young girl on the beach gently caressing her Dorrie doll. That brought a smile to her tiny lips, that would stay there forever.

Mrs. Turner looked down at the shapely plastic doll that sat motionless in the chair. She walked over to one of the shelves, and brought back an empty hot pink cardboard box, with "Spring Break Dorrie" printed on the front. She lifted the shrunken and stiffened coed off the chair, and carefully put her in the box. "Dolls like you are hard to come by, my dear," she spoke to an unlistening Melody. "I believe you'll sell in no time."

And the old woman carried her newest merchandise to the front counter, and put the box prominently on display. "Don't worry, my lovely," she said to the lonely doll on the counter. "Your friends will no doubt be here soon."

The young girl still playing with her doll looked up to see two more older girls approaching the large blanket beside her. A very pretty black girl was wiping sweat from her forehead and staring up at the sun. Her companion, a smaller girl with short black hair, moved slowly and sat down rather stiffly on a beach chair. The young girl thought the black girl was prettier, and probably nicer, but her attention was drawn to the shiny gold swimsuit of the shorter coed. Even the sand that covered the brunette's bare feet seemed to be changing from a gritty dust to a finer, golden dust. It was like magic.

"I am so hot," Valerie said, wiping her brow once more. She looked back to the water to see Josie continuing to splash in the cooler surf. "Maybe we should've stayed in the water with Josie."

Alexandra brushed sand from her legs, and tried unsuccessfully to wipe the grit from her feet, where it seemed to be sticking fast. "Are you kidding? We'd become prunes before Esther Williams there would leave her precious water. I told you my feet were feeling stiff, and you said you felt funny, too."

Valerie lay back under their beach umbrella. "The water was nice, but the sun was just so hot. I wanted some shade, but I still feel like my energy is melting away."

"Maybe you need something cold," Alexandra tried a sexy smile on a muscular guy walking by eating a soft ice cream cone. "Like that ice cream cone." The young man ignored her come on. "Or like the snob lapping his tongue all over it."

The black beauty peeked out, sweat continuing to drip from neck and shoulders, and watched the man and his ice cream pass by. "No, that's too soft." She closed her eyes, and began to imagine. "I need something harder. Something cold and rough and stiff that I can pour myself onto, covering all of it with all of me, and feeling it melt in my sweet grasp." Her voice became raspy and her breath came in short gasps as she spoke. She softly touched the thin fabric of her cocoa colored bikini top with her hands and felt a sweet shudder rack her body.

Alexandra stared at her friend, then looked over to see the young girl beside them staring in puzzlement, and her mother staring in disapproval. "Criminy, Val," Alexandra whispered, "get a room, for crying out loud."

Suddenly, Valerie stood. "I need some ice cream. Hard ice cream. Now."

Alexandra rose more slowly. "I remember seeing an ice cream freezer at that bikini shop. It's not far. Besides," she looked down at how her body was nearly the same color as her gold maillot suit. "I think I may be starting to burn. I need some more sunblock."

Valerie walked off quickly toward Mrs. Turner's Emporium, and Alexandra followed at a slower pace. The young girl's mother made a judgmental harrumphing sound, and went back to her romance novel. Her young daughter crawled over to the towel where Valerie had sat sweating, and saw a familiar looking brownish patch where the coed's neck had lain. The girl put her finger in the substance out of curiosity, and then tasted it. "Mmmm, chocolate!" she said, and returned to playing with her doll.

Valerie's quick pace had slowed considerably by the time she reached the Beach Emporium, although she had still left Alexandra several yards behind.. The black beauty barely summoned the strength to push open the front door. But she was momentarily refreshed when she stepped into the coolness of the shop. She felt a tingle in her breasts, and noticed that her nipples had also reacted to the air conditioning. But when she looked down to make sure the change was not too pronounced, she gasped to see a different but familiar shape stretching the fabric of her bikini. "It must be the heat," she thought. "My nipples look shaped like chocolate kisses."

"I would say 'a penny for your thoughts'," Mrs. Turner quipped, walked up to her customer, "but there's no such thing as 'penny candy' anymore, is there?" The old woman began touching Valerie's arms and waist and neck, feeling for the proper texture. She even pulled the coed's hand up to her nose, and sniffed. "Mmmm, I think you're ready."

By now, Valerie's exhaustion had changed to confusion, then revulsion, then fear. "I I I just want some ice cream," she muttered, pulling away from the old woman and starting toward the ice cream freezer.

"But you're not ready yet for ice cream, my dear," the old woman stopped her, then started to pull her toward the back room. "Let's get you back to the kitchen. I have a nice big cauldron just perfect for melting."

Valerie was getting weaker and weaker, but still had enough strength to resist. "Melting? What are you talking . . . I'm getting out of here!" She stumbled toward the door, but before she could reach it, Mrs. Turner grabbed what looked like a flashlight from behind her counter, and activated the door lock. Valerie tried to open the door, but couldn't. She started beating on the glass, leaving smudged dark brown stains where her transforming fists hit the panes. "Help me! Help me!"

The old woman came up from behind, and pulled Valerie away from the door. "I can see you're going to be trouble," she said, and pointed the flashlight at the coed's bare feet. A bright and very hot light came forth, but Valerie felt only a bit of pain. When she looked down, however, she felt intense fear. The light had melted her feet, and she stood stuck to the floor in two pools of sticky chocolate.

"Well, if Ms. Mohammed won't go to the mountain," Mrs. Turner pushed a few buttons behind her counter, and a panicked Valerie heard gears turning and a loud clanging from a back room. She then screamed as she saw a large black cauldron moving toward her on a thin wire . "Then we must bring the mountain to Ms. Mohammed," the old woman finished her thought, and pulled the large pot closer to her life-size chocolate beach bunny. "Now to figure out a way to get you in here without straining my back," the old woman said, and walked back to the counter. Valerie continued to try to lift her partially melted feet, but strands of melted fudge held her tight. She looked to the front door. "Where are you, Alexandra?" She silently pleaded. "Please, hurry!"

Alexandra found it increasingly difficult to pick up her own feet. With each step, they seemed to sink in the sand. Valerie had already left her behind, and the weary brunette was simply following her trail. At first the tracks was footprints, but the gold-suited coed noticed that Valerie was also leaving behind a trail of black liquid. Alexandra recognized the stain, but didn't remember her friend carrying a candy bar. At last, the Beach Emporium loomed ahead.

While Alexandra found the weight of her feet difficult to move through the sand, Valerie couldn't move her feet for a very different reason. They were made of chocolate, and the shop owner, Mrs. Turner, had melted them to the floor. "I almost forgot something," the old woman said nonchalantly, and approached her captive with what looked like a digital camera. "Smile and say 'chocolate cheesecake'!" Small flashes lit up the store as Mrs. Turner snapped several pictures of the lovely coed confection stuck to the floor. Was this some demented keepsake of the old woman's villainy? "There. Should find at least one good one in the bunch. A product has to look good as well as taste good. And speaking of taste, I've got to get you onto the stove." The old woman looked around, and then spotted the ice cream freezer. "Of course." And she walked to the unit, pulled up the lid, and begin foraging about in the bottom.

Valerie began to hurriedly look around the store. If the old woman did free her feet to put her in the cauldron, maybe she'd have a minute to grab something to save herself. Her eyes fell upon the main sales counter, and a bright pink box propped up beside it. Inside the box was a lovely blonde doll, that somehow looked very familiar. No. It couldn't be. Melody . . . .?

The coed's thoughts were interrupted when Mrs. Turner stuck something cold into her mouth. It felt like a popsicle. Cherry. No, orange. More like grape. No, no flavor - just very cold. The cold spread through Valerie's mouth and her whole head. It spread down her throat and into her chest, her stomach, her waist. It spread out her arms, and down her legs. It even spread into the feet that the old woman had melted moments before. But they weren't melted anymore. They quickly became solid chocolate, just as the rest of Valerie's body. There was even a whitish tint that spread up her legs, over the cocoa bikini bottom and top that had now melded to the rest of her chocolate body, and into Valerie's face. Just like the tint that covers chocolate candy left in the refrigerator. Lovely Valerie had become a solid chocolate statue. Temporarily.

Alexandra's feet left the golden sand and landed on the porch of the Beach Emporium with a metallic thump. The girl shuffled as best as she could up to the front door, but found it locked. When she looked in, she witnessed a strange sight. Her friend Valerie was standing very still before the shop owner, Mrs. Whatshername. The old woman then lifted Valerie off the floor, seemingly with ease, and put her headfirst into a large iron pot, her bare brown legs and feet sticking into the air. The woman walked over to the counter, and in a moment the pot was moving toward some back room of the shop, Valerie's long and unmoving legs extending skyward. Alexandra pounded on the door, and the old woman walked over to speak to her. Before the coed could ask what was wrong, the shop owner yelled through the glass. "I'll be with you shortly. I'm making fudge at the moment." She held up a small glass jar. There was Valerie's picture on the label, just above the product name: Mrs. Turner's Homemade Hot Fudge Topping.

Alexandra knew that something was very wrong, and she needed to get Josie, and help, or both. She turned as quickly as she could — which wasn't very quickly at all — and started to hobble off the porch. Mrs. Turner looked down at the coed's feet, which were now nearly solid gold, and then remembered what swimsuit she had sold her the night before. The old woman flipped a switch, and a ground fan near the store began blowing sand in Alexandra's direction. The brunette put up her hands to shield her eyes, but as the sand hit her skin and reacted with the gold swimsuit, Alexandra felt herself becoming even stiffer.

Satisfied her next customer would stay put for a while, Mrs. Turner retreated to the back kitchen. The cauldron was bubbling nicely, with nearly a pot full of sweet delicious hot fudge sauce, and two chocolate legs and a chocolate waist that were quickly melting over the gas flame. The shop owner stirred the pot with a large wooden spoon, and brought up a small taste. She blew on it to cool, and then tasted. Ahhh, just as she had thought since meeting the girl the night before — delicious! She reached in with a large ladle, and filled the empty glass jar with the rich dark topping. "The first of the batch," she said proudly, and then stirred the pot some more, pushing a chocolate foot under the bubbling surface

Things certainly were strange, Josie thought, as she began walking toward the Beach Emporium. It was strange that none of her three friends were waiting for her when she returned to their beach towels from a long dip in the ocean. When she asked the lady on the adjacent towels if she had seen the girls, she gave her a very strange look before saying that she thought they had all gone to some Beach Emporium. And particularly strange was the comment of the woman's young daughter, when she yelled after Josie, "tell the pretty black girl that she tastes really good." But the attractive redhead had no idea that things were about to get stranger. A lot stranger.

Josie trudged through the sand wearing the blue mesh swimsuit she had purchased the night before. As she approached the front of the Beach Emporium, she saw Alexandra standing on the front porch, her gold one piece suit sparkling in the bright sun. Josie yelled her name and waved, but her friend made no reply. At first, she thought she must be sulking for some reason, as usual. But as she got closer, Josie noticed that Alexandra wasn't moving at all. And it wasn't just her gold swimsuit that was shining. All of her friend glimmered. Because all of her friend was gold.

"Oh my God!" Josie yelled, and rushed closer. Alexandra's body was covered in sand, which accounted for some of the gold shading. But Josie could also see that under the sand, her friend's skin was turning gold as well. At first she thought she had become a statue, but her gilded companion could still move her upper body slightly, and her lips were mouthing a faint "help" while her yellow lidded eyes darted in panic. "What happened to you?" was all Josie could think to say, and with difficulty Alexandra whispered, "Valerie . . . chocolate . . . melted . . . sand . . . me . . . next."

Josie could tell that her friend was beginning to stiffen even more. "I've got to get you away from here," she said, and tried to drag Alexandra off the porch. But between her solid gold feet and stiffening body, she was too heavy to move. "Wait here," Josie said, realizing how stupid that was even as she said it. "I saw a hand truck down the street. I'll get it, and get help." Josie rushed off as Alexandra mouthed "hurry." But seconds after the redhead left the porch, Alexandra felt a rope fall around her midsection, and then tighten. She then felt herself begin lifted up, her gold feet swaying back and forth. Alexandra tried to yell out for help to Josie, or anyone, but there was no strength in her voice. The gilded girl kept rising, slowly and carefully, until she was pulled into a second story window in the Beach Emporium. Her golden feet entered the window, and the pane was slammed shut. Mrs. Turner had her now.

The still living, but slowly stiffening, golden coed was slightly disoriented by her hoisting. But she slowly came to realize that she was in a room filled with musical instuments. Several shelves displayed violins and guitars. A couple of cellos leaned against a far wall. And there was even a baby grand piano in the middle of the room, surrounded by a few black and brown upright models. Alexandra started to wonder why she had been brought here in this condition, when the Beach Emporium owner, Mrs. Turner, strode into the room.

"Funny how things work out, isn't it? Many years ago, I asked one of my henchmen to bring me a wench. The fool brought me a winch, instead." She unfastened the rope from around Alexandra's midsection. "But it did a good job getting you up here."

Alexandra looked at the old woman with fear in her eyes. "Please," she struggled to whisper. "Please don't melt me."

The old woman looked puzzled. "Melt you? What do you mean — oh, yes, you mean like your sweet, lovely friend. No need to worry, my dear. Melting chocolate on a stove is one thing. I don't have the capability to melt gold. Besides, I couldn't melt you even if I wanted to. You're not solid gold . . ." The golden girl was relieved, until Mrs. Turner whispered in her ear, " . . . yet."

Josie let the hand truck drop to the ground when she saw that the porch was empty. Her friend couldn't have walked off by herself, not in her condition. Now what? She really should get help, but that would mean leaving Alexandra — and probably Melody and Valerie too— in the clutches of the evil Mrs. Turner. But if she went into the shop, she may be walking right into a trap, and none of them would escape. Figuring there wasn't time to make a calculated decision — and that no one would believe her friend was being turned to gold, anyway — Josie decided she had to go into the Emporium. The front door was locked, but fortunately Josie knew a quick way to open a locked door. She picked up a large rock, broke the glass above the handle, and unlocked the door. Worked every time.

Josie hoped she would find Melody and Valerie, and they could help her rescue Alexandra. She was partially successful. The blonde doll next to the cash register looked exactly like Melody, right down to her tiny pink bikini. Josie remembered Alexandra saying something about 'melted.' She felt hot air coming from a back room, along with the scent of fudge, and crept back to the kitchen. She found several jars of hot fudge topping, all with Valerie's picture on the front, and a large pot with a layer of cooked fudge within. The redhead didn't know exactly what was happening, but she knew that it was something evil, and that Alexandra was next. She had to find her friend before it was too late.

Alexandra didn't know what to expect, but was surprised when the old woman started to brush the sand off of her golden body. "We need to get you cleaned up, my pretty," the old woman said. The coed knew the old woman was crazy, but maybe she was stupid as well. Obviously, the sand had been responsible for her gradual gilding. Once the sand was removed, surely she would convert back to normal flesh. Not only did Mrs. Turner remove the loose sand, but she reached down to Alexandra's solid gold feet, and wiped them with a special cloth. Alexandra once again had feeling and slight movement, and even though they were still golden, they were as alive as the rest of her. "There, that should give you a little mobility, although I wouldn't try running away, if I were you."

Mrs. Turner walked away into an adjacent room. Alexandra did have a little bit of movement, but only enough to shuffle a few inches. But if Mrs. Turner stayed away long enough for her to get enough strength to walk to the door, maybe she would have a chance.

The old woman continued talking. "How do you like my music room? My mother always encouraged me to have a hobby. I asked her what kind of hobby, and she suggested a string collection. So, that's what I did." The old woman laughed, thinking this was quite funny. Under other circumstances, Alexandra may have shared her humor, but not today. She could wiggle her golden toes a little more each second. Keep talking, old woman.

"But recently, I obtained the crowning jewel of my collection." Alexandra heard small wheels moving, and then saw Mrs. Turner roll a large golden harp into the room. "Beautiful, isn't it? And yet, it needs something more to complete it." She turned to the gilded coed. "You."

Alexandra shook her head as the old woman took her arm and guided her to the front of the instrument. "You see, the sand does begin the gilding process, but is much too slow in finalizing the conversion. But being in contact with solid gold — well, you'll see."

The coed tried to resist, but the old woman continue dragging her to the harp. Mrs. Turner maneuvered Alexandra's feet onto a small golden ledge at the front of the harp, and as soon as they touched, they became solid gold once more. "Now, let's get you posed properly. After all, you'll be that way for all eternity." Alexandra managed one final loud scream as the old woman cackled loudly. The sound carried downstairs to Josie's ears. Alexandra. The old woman had her upstairs. She had to save her. But how?

Josie was perplexed. She knew from the sound of Alexandra's scream and the shop owner's evil laugh that her friend didn't have much time. But she also knew that she couldn't just rush up the stairs, bolt into the room where her golden friend was being held captive, and shout, 'Unhand that damsel, you wicked fiend!' The shop owner, Mrs. Turner, was older and probably weaker than the young and fit redhead. But considering what had happened to Alexandra, and what had apparently befallen Melody and Valerie, Mrs. Turner was not your typical old lady. She was obviously a witch.

The attractive coed surveyed the store for some kind of weapon. She saw some kind of pistols on a shelf behind the counter, but she discovered they were just water pistols. Wait a minute. Water pistols. A wicked witch. She quickly ran back to the small kitchen and the sink beside the stove. She knew this was crazy, and not a very real world kind of solution. But after filling the pistol from the tap, replacing the plug, and holding the pistol upright, she reminded herself that she wasn't in Kansas anymore.

The second floor of the Beach Emporium was eerily silent when Josie reached the top of the stairs. She didn't want to announce her presence, but she also needed to find out where Mrs. Turner had taken Alexandra. As she tiptoed quietly down the hall in her beach sandals, she shivered slightly, partly from only being dressed in her blue mesh swimsuit, and partly from fear. Then, she thought she heard harp music. Harp music? In a bikini shop. She followed the sound to a closed door, and slowly pushed it open. There was Mrs. Turner, standing at the front of a large golden harp, running her fingers gently on the strings. Josie saw no sign of her friend. Until Mrs. Turner stepped back from the harp.

"Oh, no! Alexandra!" Josie gasped loudly. Molded to the front of the large harp as if it had been made that way, was the solid gold body of her brunette friend. Golden toes melted into the bottom frame, with golden heels raised slightly to meet the front post. Alexandra's gilded legs and torso also rested back against the harp's golden front post, while the coed's arms wrapped back behind her, with solid gold hands resting near the front most harp string. Alexandra's head tilted back, her cold and golden eyes looking upward, eternally open and searching. Her posture arched her back, and jutting her covered breasts outward and pointed. Unlike their encounter on the porch of the beach shop, this time there were no moving lips, or slight efforts to escape her sand covered imprisonment. Alexandra was not a living golden girl. She was a solid gold statue, and part of this magnificent instrument. Probably, forever.

"Beautiful, isn't she?" Mrs. Turner said proudly, admiring her evil handiwork. "It makes an already marvelous instrument a work of art."

Josie lifted the pistol and pointed it directly at the old woman's head. She spoke slowly, in a tone filled with hate and purpose. "I don't know how you did this to her. Or to Melody or Valerie. I only know that you're going to undo it. Or else."

Mrs. Turner gave the beautiful redhead a surprising look. "Really? You don't know how I did this? You haven't figured that out yet? For shame. What do they teach you girls in college nowadays?" The old woman was ignoring the 'armed' coed's threat.

Josie knew that her threat was probably an empty one, but she was intrigued by the old woman's response. How did she do it? Maybe it was a riddle, or puzzle. Maybe if she solved it, the reward was freedom for her and all her friends. "Well, you're a witch . . ."

"Obviously," the old woman snorted. "It doesn't take Miss Marple to figure that out."

"Shut up!" Josie responded to the old woman's sarcasm, shaking the pistol in a menacing fashion. "It couldn't be something we drank or ate, we didn't buy anything like that here. We only bought — the swimsuits!" The old woman clapped. "Alexandra's was gold, so now she's gold. Valerie bought — what was that shade — oh, yeah, Cocoa. And now, Oh God, you turned her into chocolate!"

"Chocolate fudge, to be precise. But go on, you're doing so well."

"Melody's bikini was pink, just like the doll box you put her in. And she said that the suit was shrinking in the water — but the water was really shrinking her. And Valerie complained about the sun, and it was turning her to chocolate. And Alexandra had stiff feet from standing in the sand, and then was sand covered on your porch, so the sand was what changed her to gold! Right? Is that it?"

"Well done, my dear. Well done. You've put it all together." She then turned from Josie, and began polishing Alexandra's golden form.

"But, I solved it. I won. Now you have to turn them all back."

Mrs. Turner laughed. "Don't be silly. The transformations are all permanent. I run a business here. I can't just get rid of my merchandise just because a silly girl solves a rather simple puzzle, or threatens me with a toy pistol."

So, the old woman knew it was a toy all along. But did she know what was in it? "Something just occurred to me. We all bought your 'special' suits, and the water and sun and sand changed my friends into your 'merchandise.' But none of that affected me. I'm wearing one of your suits, but nothing's happened to me. So you're not as powerful as you might think. And I've put something in this gun that will destroy you. So, change my friends back right now," Josie threatened, moving closer to the witch, "or I'll finish you."

"You . . . you didn't put water in that gun, did you? Tap water?" Josie smiled and nodded. "Oh, my dear, that was a very foolish thing to do." The witch backed away from the harp, and away from Josie.

"I don't think so, not very foolish at all. Now, are you going to change my friends, back, or do I use this water to melt you, body part by body part."

"Don't shoot that gun, I warn you. I told you, I can't change your friends back, but you still have time to get away . . ."

"That's not the right answer, witch," Josie said, and fired the pistol into the old woman's face. Mrs. Turner held her face and started to scream. "My eyes! My eyes!" Josie walked even closer to the old woman, ready to fire the pistol once more. "Maybe now you feel Valerie's pain when you melted her down. Or Melody's terror at being shrunken into a child's doll. Or Alexandra's sense of doom when she hardened on the front of that harp. Maybe now you feel the irony of magic being visited upon you to seal your doom. Maybe now . . . oh," Josie cried out when Mrs. Turner reached out and took the water pistol.

"My word, stop being so melodramatic, child. You squirted water in my eyes and it hurt. It's not the Apocalypse. Sheesh!" As the shop owner wiped the water from her eyes, Josie backed slowly away from the old woman.

"But the water — you're a witch — it should have . . . done something to you?"

"It did. It got me very wet." Able to see now, Mrs. Turner turned the water pistol toward Josie. "And it provided me with just the weapon I needed."

Josie let out a 'whistling by the graveyard' chuckle. "Don't try to threaten me, old woman. I already know this swimsuit isn't magical. I've been in the water all day, and nothing happened."

"Actually, my dear, to be more specific, you've been in salt water all day. But this," she stepped toward the redhead, waving the toy pistol, "is fresh water." As Mrs. Turner pointed the pistol, Josie turned and started to run out the door. The old woman fired and missed, then pursued the coed. Josie ran down the stairs, still far ahead of her pursuer, but forgot about the open landing above the stairs. Mrs. Turner reached over the railing and fired once again. The water hit Josie square on her buttocks and legs, and the girl screamed in surprise. "Gotcha!" the old woman yelled and laughed.

At first Josie was frozen by fear. And then she realized she too had only been squirted by water, and got up to run for the door. But she took only a few steps before there was a horrific stinging pain in her legs, and she collapsed once more. When she reached down to massage what she assumed was just a bad cramp, she was shocked to feel scales all along her thighs. Another attempt at standing was thrwarted by the fact that her feet and legs were merging together, becoming a solid mass of blue scales - the same shade of blue as her swimsuit.

By now, Mrs. Turner had come downstairs, and stood over the transforming beauty. Josie looked up in fear. "Oh my God, you're turning me into a mermaid!"

The old woman shook her head. "An easy mistake, and a lovely thought in a misty, mythological kind of way. But mermaids are not very marketable." The old woman made a swirling motion with her hand, and one of the large, decorative fish nets hanging on the wall came loose and slid along the floor toward Josie. It easily slipped under her flopping lower half, and soon engulfed the girl completely. Another motion of Mrs. Turner's hand, and the net rose off the floor with Josie trapped inside, and attached itself to a hook on a pulley. The beautiful 'catch' was being transported to the back of the store, toward a large red curtain.

"You see, my dear, tap water can only initiate the process. The complete transformation requires water more pure." As the net drew closer, the red curtain rolled back, revealing a giant aquarium filled with several species of tropical fish. "Or, water more purified, I should say."

Josie screamed as the net lifted her half-fish body above the huge tank. She realized what was about to happen. "When the four of you came in last night," Mrs. Turner continued, "I had a pretty good idea how to merchandise your three friends. But it wasn't until I saw you try on that beautiful blue suit, and saw that red hair flowing on top of it, that I remembered once seeing a very rare and stunning fresh water fish with exactly the same shading. All it would take would be getting you back to my shop, which your friends helped with, and a little water to start the process, which you provided."

The net continued to sway back and forth over the aquarium, as Josie pleaded, "No, please don't turn me into a fish!"

"Think of it this way, my dear, of all your friends, you are the only living transformation." With that, the old woman waved her hand a last time, and the bottom of the net fell open, dropping Josie screaming into the tank. In the specially treated water, the rest of her transformation occurred rather quickly. By the time Mrs. Turner put her face to the glass and spotted her newest aquarium resident, the lovely coed was a beautiful blue fish with a bright red mane swimming among the other fish. "Another successful day at the Beach Emporium," the shop owner said aloud, and pulled the curtain back across the front of the tank, so her little pets could swim unobserved.

The woman filled her spoon with ice cream, then dipped it liberally in the hot fudge sauce at the bottom of the cup. "Mmmmm, this is good! You were right, sweetie."

Her affirmation was directed at her young daughter, who stood beside her eating her own hot fudge sundae. The child's cup rested on a small table near the front counter, so that the youngster could hold tight to the bag containing her new newest Dorrie doll. This one was the beach model, with Dorrie wearing a bright pink bikini.

While she ate, the small girl stared at the glass jar containing the hot fudge sauce. "Mommy? The girl on the jar looks like the girl on the towel beside us."

"Girl? Towel? What do you mean?" The woman looked at the jar. "Oh, you mean that black girl and her friends from the other day." She picked up the jar and looked at it more closely. "I suppose it does look a little like her."

The young girl took another bite of her sundae. "Tastes like her, too." But her mother didn't hear her second comment, as her attention was drawn to the shop owner returning to the counter carrying a plastic bag.

"Yes, that's the one," the woman smiled at the sight of the bright blue fish with red trimmings, swimming in the water filled container. "Joey — our son at camp — will be so thrilled. He saw a picture of this fish in one of his nature books, and he's been trying to find one ever since."

"Well," said Mrs. Turner, "they are very rare. And, of course, rather pricey."

"I quite understand. But I know that Joey's father will want to surprise him with this rare catch." She looked around the Emporium, crowded with running children, some older souvenir seekers, and a few college girls shopping for swimsuits. "Where is your father?"

"Oh, he's upstairs looking at my string collection," the woman looked at Mrs. Turner funny, "stringed musical instruments, I should say. He told me he's quite the collector himself."

"Joanne!" yelled a man's voice from upstairs, and the woman's husband rushed down the stairs. "You will never believe what I have found upstairs!"

"It is the most beautiful golden harp I have ever seen," the husband told his wife breathlessly. He turned his attention to the shop owner. "Mrs. Turner, I know that instrument must be very precious to you, and must also be worth a fortune . . ."

Joanne knew what was coming next, and tried to delay it by squeezing her husband's arm. It didn't work.

" . . . but please, let me make you an offer. It would look absolutely splendid in our music room."

The store keeper shook her head. "No, I'm very sorry. My collection is very important to me — particularly that harp."

"Then one of the other instruments - one of the upright pianos, or those magnificent violins."

"You're very generous — but once an instrument is placed in my string collection, that's where it remains." Mrs. Turner happened to glance toward the dressing rooms, and saw one of the college girls emerge trying on a new swimsuit. She was a beautiful African-American woman, with long thin legs, yet curvy hips and waist, a smallish chest, and an elongated face. But the physical feature that really caught the shop owner's eye was her very long neck. In fact, the girl's entire physical appearance struck a familiar chord with the older woman.

"However," she said to the disappointed husband, "I do expect to come into possession of a very beautiful viola tomorrow." She noted the dark brown shade of the coed's one piece swimsuit. "In a stunning mahogany finish. Would you be interested?"

The husband nodded yes, and his wife, Joanne, was pleased since a wooden viola would cost considerably less than a gold harp. But as she started to move away, she felt something in her back tooth. "Drat! I think some hot fudge is stuck near a crown." She turned to Mrs. Turner and chuckled. "You seem to sell everything else in here, I don't suppose you have any dental floss."

As the woman inquired, the black girl's blonde friend came out of the dressing room a bit more reluctantly, and with good reason. She was wearing a mint green thong bikini, and the thin cut of the cloth revealed a large amount of cleavage, as well as most of the young woman's buttocks. Mrs. Turner smiled, and turned back to Joanne.

"Floss, you say? I have none at the moment, but will be stocking a new brand tomorrow." She looked at the thong bikini shade one more time. "Mint flavored, I believe."

The End

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