We interrupt the regularly scheduled programming to continue our summer story saga… Sit back, relax and enjoy the tale, game reviews will resume again next month.
When Pauline awoke, she was in a small dark room. She was sitting motionless on a large old desk with an unkempt melanine top. A clip lamp illuminated metal shelving along the wall, with rows of arms and legs and mannequin parts that could barely be deduced at the periphery of her vision. Pauline’s gaze fixated on a shelf on a bin of glass eyes and could not be refocused. Everything was chilly, but not uncomfortably cold.
The world around her was clammy and metallic. The seemingly thin air enveloped her in a pervasive musk that was uniquely disorienting and seemed to permeate her flesh. The odor, if it could even be called such, slithered all over and throughout her skin. It was an indescribably odd sensation almost like tiny centipedes crawling all over her numb body like the tingle of being positioned poorly for too long and having part of oneself fall asleep to wake to pin and needle nerves twitching. Except that this was her whole being, not just an arm or a foot. Other than that, Pauline couldn’t feel anything. She couldn’t feel her limbs at all. Her only real consciousness was a sort of detached, reserved stiffness that rested at the root of her mind and held her in a rigid formal stare. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t turn her neck. She couldn’t avert her gaze. She just looked silently forward, unmoving, unblinking, unfocused.
There was a long tube extended down Pauline’s throat but she couldn’t sense it, and so she was completely unaware of its presence. The tube ended in a rusted out orange bucket and was extracting a thick reddish liquid from somewhere deep within her chest. The hollow cavity left behind in her bosom congealed and hardened to a resin-like consistency. She was unaware that she was only a torso, a framework upon which a full figure could be built, her arms and legs no longer a part of what was left of her body. She couldn’t see them on the metal shelves along the facing wall and, even if she could have, she certainly wouldn’t have recognized them as her own.
Off to the side, Pauline could hear a door open. A few moments later, a gaunt greying wire-haired man with deep black eyes strolled into her field of vision and stood before her… Chester. He pulled a nondescript wooden stool out from its nook under the table, sat down on it in one fluid motion, and studied Pauline intently through a pair of thick black-rimmed magnifying glasses pushed down on his nose. She tried to lash out or scream, focusing all of her energy into the effort, but she remained rigid and trapped in her postured pose. All that came out was a small worn whimper that Chester either didn’t hear or simply ignored.
He removed the tube from her throat and forced her mouth closed. A long sigh escaped as he pushed her lips together in a slightly smirking Mona Lisa smile. Despite whatever sound she had mustered forth, Chester just continued working, pulling a roll of blue painter’s tape out of his pocket to temporarily clamp her jaw in place while he waited for it to set. Pauline could feel her neck and mouth stiffening as they dried out.
Chester applied thick ruby paint to Pauline’s lips to gloss them a more sensual color and began touching up her blush to accentuate her high cheekbones in a stark retro-1980s fashion. He added smoky eyeshadow with powdery paints for a glamorous brooding effect. He super-glued a thick set of faux black feather eyelashes atop Pauline’s eyelids, curling them carefully to enhance the vampish vixen look. He carefully trimmed Pauline’s black bangs in a sweeping even motion and pulled the rest of her raven hair back, securing it in place with wig pins and a deep red satin bow. Pauline felt nothing, no gentle caress of her hair across her shoulders, no pinpoint pricking in her scalp, no head pinching from the fabric hair band… She stared straight ahead with distant eyes, blurring in and out of time and place.
Chester smiled at his handiwork, rose from his stool, and turned off the lamp, leaving Pauline to mewl voicelessly at the darkness as it engulfed her. She heard his footsteps creep up the stairs and echo overhead, joined by Betty Lou’s hobbled cane stride before being followed by a faint bell as they exited out the front door for the night.