A Whiter Shade of Pale

By Rotwang (Zardreth@Cyberking.be)

It was time for Nina to get up, but she felt too lazy and rolled over. She closed her eyes again and enjoyed the warmth and comfort of her bed. She had drawn in her foot which had been hanging out of the blankets to warm it.

She opened her eyes and looked at the clock. Even if she jumped out of bed now and made a mad dash to the car and broke every speed-limit between her home and work, she’d still be late. And completely naked as well. A quick phone-call and a few coughs later, Nina was officially ill. She enjoyed another half-an-hour of do-nothing in her bed and then slowly got up. After a quick splashing of water in her face and a visit to the facilities, she opened the closet and took out a pair of wildly printed leotards and crawled into them. She began her exercises and woke her still sleeping muscles. Once she’d done her workout, Nina took a quick shower and went down to prepare breakfast.

She decided to take a day for herself and decided to go shopping. With all the work she’d had the last few weeks, she had been unable to make time for herself.

Parking the car, Nina noticed a shop she’d never seen before. She stepped out and looked into the window. It was a clothes-shop where everything was white. The clothes, the floor, walls and furniture and even the mannequins were white. She walked in and greeted the young woman behind the white counter. Even she was completely dressed in white. "Hi, can I help you ?" She asked. "Hello, I was interested in that white ensemble in the window." Nina said, looking back at one of the mannequins and pointing at it. "Is everything white in here ?" She asked the assistant as she walked over to the mannequin. "Yes, we deal in everything that’s white, from clothes to furniture." The woman said, pressing a button on the side of the display. Nina noticed that the glass of the outside windows was turning darker. Then the woman walked up and reached under the mannequin’s clothes and pushed something in her back. And then Nina stared. Slowly the mannequin began to move. Almost imperceptibly at first, but after a few seconds, she could see it move its head. The woman whispered something in her ear and the mannequin turned around and paraded down the main aisle of the shop like a practiced model. Nina watched the mannequin’s face but it didn’t look like a mask. It had no eyeholes. The young woman seemed to have noticed Nina’s reaction and walked up to her, gently guiding her to a seat, while Nina kept staring at the mannequin. "I’m sorry if we startled you." The woman said. "It’s just that we have a couple of rather unusual visual merchandisers." "What ?" Nina asked, still dumbfounded. "The mannequins, they’re real people, you know." Nina looked at the woman and narrowed her brow. "But her face, and body ?" "She wears some kind of make-up. Gabrielle ?" The plastic woman stopped parading and walked up to Nina and the woman. The woman helped Gabrielle to sit opposite Nina. Gabrielle stared at Nina with dead-white eyes. Although the face barely moved, she heard a muffled voice. "I’m not a monster." She said. Nina watched the glossy-white figure and seemed transfixed. Hesitantly, she reached out and touched her naked leg. It was smooth and warm. She pushed and it flexed, almost like real flesh. "Are you okay ?" The woman was sounding worried. Nina seemed to snap out of her fascination and nodded. "It’s incredible." "Isn’t it almost time ?" Gabrielle asked from behind her rigid plastic face. The woman nodded and went for something behind the counter. "I’ll show you something ..." Gabrielle said. Reaching for her chin, Gabrielle took a pair of surgical scissors from the woman and cut into her silky alabaster skin. She tore open the mask and revealed a smiling flesh-toned face. "Look, I’m normal." Gabrielle said. Nina was still enraptured. "Is she a person too ?" Nina asked, pointing at the other mannequin. "Yes, Colleen is just as real as you and me." Gabrielle said. "But how do you stay still like that ?" Gabrielle got up and turned around. "Show her Andrea." Andrea lifted Gabrielle’s angora sweater and showed a small flat box in her back between the shoulderblades, and pushed it. Gabrielle became as stiff as a board. "She’s resting now." Andrea said. Nina was stunned. "How did you do that ?" "It’s a small electronic gizmo which sends neuro-electric signals through the spinal cord into the brain, forcing it to tense the body, while inducing artificial REM sleep." "Say again." "It makes you dream, basically." Nina watched Gabrielle’s face. She looked sound asleep. "It’s incredible !" Nina said. "But how do you put them in the suits ?" "We have a special device which molds the plastic round them. "Come, I’ll show you." She said.

"This is it." Andrea showed her the deep hole in the ground. "Looks weird, like a deep Jacuzzi ..." Nina said and looked into it. "It feels a lot like a Jacuzzi." Andrea said. Suddenly she felt something in her back. "Hey ?" She felt the rush up her spinal column and felt her mind cloud over, instantly entering a blissful dreamy state. Barely aware, she felt herself being touched and moved. "Think happy thoughts ..." Her mind reeled on itself and weaved strange half-erotic images.

She remembered a long sensuous massage over her entire body and still felt tired, that great tired feel she had after sex. She remembered passers-by and people staring at her. She remembered being horny for some reason and woke up ...

"Did you enjoy it ?" Andrea leaned over to her. Nina giggled uncontrollably. Andrea smiled warmly. "I guess you enjoyed it, then" As she recovered her senses, Nina noticed her hands. White and smooth plastic ... Lifting her hands and spreading the fingers, she looked at them and gasped. "I ... I was a ..." "The whole day." Andrea said and offered her a glass of water. "I feel really ... great." Nina said to her own surprise. She felt really relaxed and strangely fulfilled. "It’s one of the side effects of the inhibitor, it tends to agitate some parts of the brain which are in relation to pleasure ..." "Oh, I feel like I took something, I mean, I feel as if I could see right through you !" Nina said still feeling a bit rushed. "It’ll pass in a few minutes." Andrea said. Nina blinked a good number of times and felt really strange, but relaxed and happy. A red-haired girl walked in. "See you tomorrow." She said and pecked Andrea good-bye on the cheek. "See you tomorrow." Andrea said and looked at Nina’s dreamy face. "Hey, wake up !" She snapped her finger in front of her face. Nina jerked back to reality and drank some water.

Minutes later her head felt crystal clear, focused like a cruise missile on its target. "Wow ! This is incredible, you should market that gizmo !" "Unfortunately it works only on certain brainwave patterns." Andrea said. "And only women seem to be affected so far. We have a scanner installed in the doorframe and when you stepped in, I knew you were a potential candidate." "Well, another neat trick the guys will envy us then." Nina said. Andrea smiled and handed her a piece of paper. "Here’s a voucher, I’m sorry we abused your time." "250 bucks for doing nothing ?" Nina looked at it. "I can’t take it !" "We did kidnap you in a way." "If every kidnapping was liked this, I’d done to me it every day !" Nina said. "So you enjoyed it ?" "Enjoyed ? I want ..." She stopped and closed her mouth. Andrea’s eyes took an expectant gaze. "I should be the one paying you for this !" Nina said. Andrea chuckled softly. "You really enjoyed it ?" Nina nodded. "Perhaps we could invite your for another session ?" Andrea said and reached for her appointment book.

"So all this toning finally pays off." Nina said to herself back home. In a sense it felt exciting she had been a mannequin all day. She’d made some money and got a few nice new clothes for it. And she felt physically and mentally hyped. She marked her calendar for next Saturday with a big red circle.

They had even taken a few pictures of her and the silky statue really looked like her. It was her face and her body and this strange, smooth white skin. She looked again and considered she looked great.

And she returned the next Saturday and the next and the one after that ...

Andrea and her friends had a few variations of mannequins, including several famous brands ... But there was one all important rule, they had to be pure white, so as not to mar the shop’s pristine whiteness. By using facemasks and a little padding in the right places, to give a more artificial shape, Andrea could change Nina into exciting new mannequins. Details could be altered, like fingerless hands or a featureless face, something that Nina felt very exciting.

One day, posing in the window as she did every Saturday, Nina, near Nirvana, noticed somebody she had seen before. From behind the one-way white eyes, she could see the man watching her. He wasn’t looking at the clothes, but at her. In his eyes, a look of admiration and desire. He looked cute, she thought and felt yet another wave of ecstasy go over her and delighted in being paralyzed while she so desperately wanted to move and relish in the pleasure given by the device on her back. He lingered for a long time, long enough to leave a circle of mist on the window where he had stared at her. Visibly sighing, he left and vanished from her field of vision.

The following Saturday, she arranged with Andrea to do the shop instead of playing mannequin and wait for the man. She noticed him, round about the same time, looking for her. Just as he was about to leave, she opened the door and began to dust the entrance with a broom. "Hi !" She said and smiled. He looked back and nodded silently. Stopping in front of the next shop, he glanced back and was visibly considering something. "Come on !" She said, "Don’t be so shy !" She thought and looked at him. She tried to smile him into comfort and lingered for a second, looking around, waiting for him. She could see him go over the opening line several times and ...

He walked away.

Next Saturday she had a name tag placed by all the mannequins. "Nina." said hers proudly. He looked up at her face and was happy she had a name. Frozen, Nina felt happy for her secret admirer.

Again she played salesperson the next week and tried to lure him in. He lingered for a second over Colleen and Gabrielle, but he wanted Nina. Again she broomed the dust and waited for him, but he was scared to ask. She’d probably be as scared in his place. Scared of being so close and yet so far from his object of desire. "Andrea ? Have you ever considered going into men’s clothing ?" "Yeah, a few times, why ?" "I’ve got a trap to set."

Two weeks passed and Nina was wiping dust, as always when he passed. "We’ve got a men’s section as well." She said and smiled. "Oh, really ?" "Come on in and have a look ..." "Uh ..." He hesitated. "White’s not really my color." "Shame, we have some very nice silk shirts. Cool in summer, warm in winter." She stepped back to lure him in. And then as if he’d gotten a dose of courage, he walked in. She tried to sell him a shirt and waited for his opening move.

"I really like this shop." He said. "All white like this ... Must be hell to clean up." "Hey, you catch me with a broom every time !" Nina quipped and desperately wished he’d commit himself. "Everything is white." She said, walls, furniture, carpets, clothes, even the mannequins ..." She pressed the point. "Yeah ..." He said, going into self denial and tried to focus away from the mannequins.

"I think I’ll change the display again, put Nina in it again." She was going for blatancy. A slight change of color showed his arousal. Inside his nerves had to be as tense as the cables of a suspension bridge. "She’s probably our finest mannequin." Nina, said and imagined Colleen and Gabrielle raising a few eyebrows inside their plastic shells.

"I’ll think it over." He said handing her the shirt back. "I’m late as it is." Nina waited for him to leave to sigh and roll her eyes. And then she cried out. "Colleen, hold the fort for me." And pressed her back and left.

She followed him. He grabbed a sandwich in a nearby deli and munched it up on a street bench. He then went to a shop. Nina looked at the sign. "Mannequin suppliers ?"

After a short stakeout it was clear he did the deliveries, loading mannequins into vans and getting them to customers ...

Passers-by almost noticed the bright light appearing above her head.

"Rick ? Somebody has asked us to deliver some mannequins. Here’s the address." "Sure !" He picked it up and tried to visualize the location of the shop. It was close to work it was ... the White House !

A set of four white mannequins to deliver. Surely they weren’t going to throw out Nina ? Perhaps he could salvage her in time of need ... He relished the thought and drove off.

"There has been a little cock-up." Andrea said. "They were supposed to be delivered to the convention center in time for a fashion exhibit." "No problem." "And, while you’re at it, our van is full of stuff, so there is no room for our other mannequins ... Could you move them for us, there’s a bonus in it for you." "No problemo at all !" Rick said, walking on sunshine.

"On second thought, we can arrange some transport ..." Andrea said, "Except for a single one of them." Rick bobbed his head in agreement. "Just take Nina with you." Some nerves snapped inside and the bridge went lopsided. Andrea smiled as she saw the gleam in his eyes.

Again Rick was placed before a nerve wracking problem ... To drive to the convention center and deliver the mannequins or stop and enjoy Nina ... "Oh damn ! A flat tire !" He said and parked the truck. He looked at his watch, with a bit of luck he’d change it in say thirty minutes. He went over to the back where Nina was waiting for him.

Naked, except for some lingerie, she stood legs open, left hand with fingers splayed open held back and right hand forward, gracefully pointing down. She was unusual since she had no seams, like the other mannequins. And then he noticed a card tied round her neck. "Read Me !" It said. He opened the card. "Push my button." He read. He looked at her and looked for her belly-button, but she had none. Looking round the back, he noticed the flat box between her shoulderblades. "You’re not mechanical are you ?" He said and pressed it.

Nothing happened.

He pushed a few times.

Nina cursed as the device was switched on and off making her feel dizzy. He’d pushed one last time and froze her by mistake. "So close and yet so far !" She thought. He waited for another minute and then gave up. carefully lifting the lingerie, he noticed her body was firm, but soft. Half dreaming, Nina tried to wake up, but she couldn’t stir a muscle. He put his warm hands on her breasts and felt them. he squished them gently and leaned over to her face. Pecking her cheek, he reached around her and tried to lift her, but she was heavier than he thought. With care, he undid her bra and dropped it on the floor. Kissing her neck, he just held her tight and didn’t do much else. He’d even kept his pants on. Nina felt hot inside her plastic skin and started to sweat. He let go of her and looked at her face. He danced his finger over her lips and nose and eyebrows ... And then he kissed her on the lips, licking them with the tip of his tongue and enjoying the moment.

"Strange, there is nothing going on here for the moment." The guard said to Rick as he tried to explain there was a fashion show on. "They gave me this address." Rick said. he double-checked it and let the guard check it. "There is a Star Wars convention next week ..." The guard said.

"Nina was supposed to tell you ..." Was Andrea’s first reaction, but she realized things had gone wrong. "Nina ?" "Our shop assistant." Andrea said. "For a moment I thought you meant the mannequin !" Rick said. "We’ll sort it all out, don’t worry." Andrea recovered in time. "Would you help me put the mannequins in the store-room." "Okay." "Here’s your little bonus." Andrea handed him a check. "Thanks."

"She’s heavy !" Rick said, carrying Nina. "And very nice." Andrea said, helping out.

"There you are." He said and didn’t notice Andrea pressing the button. "Hey ?" Rick exclaimed as Andrea ran away and closed the door behind her. "Hey ! What’s going on ?" Rick banged the door and didn’t know what was going on. He considered taking out his cellular phone and call the cops when he noticed something.

Nina was staring at him.

He looked up and saw the hand move ever so slowly and ...

Rick was transfixed, phone in hand he watched her slowly come to life. Her face with its gently smile and her slim, well shaped body stirred his nerves and set the bridge crashing down. "I’m Nina." She said. Rick couldn’t whisper a single word. Heart pounding, he watched the mannequin reach for him and hold his hand. She placed her hands on his red-flushed face and kissed him.

Andrea peered inside and blew a sigh of relief.

Rick watched Nina. Her perpetually frozen face looked so ravishing he didn’t dare to ask her. "Are you ..." She nodded. "You’re the Nina I’ve met before ?" She nodded again. "I ... Lo ... love you !" He said and felt surprised by his own words. "I know." She said softly.

"I’m basically very shy. Especially with women ... " He tried to explain. "But mannequins are easier ?" Nina said, having unmasked herself. "You can’t disappoint them, scare them or say something stupid or offensive to them." "But they can’t love you back ?" "I know one who can ..."