the mannequin factory
On the face of it there seems to be very little need for a state-of-the-art security system to protect a rundown old factory that makes mannequins, but you’d be surprised. Nobody is breaking in to make a killing with all the loot inside, you can be sure of that. There’s almost nothing of value to steal.
But that doesn’t stop them coming.
And no matter how well you try and stop them getting in, they will find a way. Once inside they will slink around in the darkness and some of them will walk from bow to stern and emerge on the other side without even a story to tell. The ones that knew from the outset that they were in a factory that just makes mannequins. Plastic and fiberglass. Inanimate dummies used to display clothes at the mall. It was empty because it was nighttime and it was dark for the same reason.
Nothing more. They knew all that in their heads and their hearts and they had a very anticlimactic evening.
Then there were the others who weren’t quite sure.
Out of breath, they would burst out of the other side with stories of how creepy it was and how they were certain that a few times they saw or felt something moving around in the darkness. Their friends would laugh, they would climb back into the car for the long drive home and eventually the entire incident would be forgotten.
And finally, there was a third group of visitors. The ones that wanted to believe there was more to it. More to everything. A shadow that lurked behind things and occasionally would let itself be known.
As soon as they crawled through a window they regretted the decision. Knowing that they would have to walk the length of the factory floor, their hearts pounded in their chest and they knew beyond a doubt that every time they looked in one direction, the mannequins standing on the opposite side would slowly turn their heads to look at them. When they whipped their heads back in that direction they would almost but never catch the movement.
Although it wasn’t a coincidence that these mannequins would always be staring right at them.
Then the noises would start. Footsteps. The sound of objects being dragged or dragging themselves across the floor.
Always just out of sight.
And then, finally, the heads lined up on the shelves that surrounded them would begin to smile. And cry and gasp, and they would feel a mix of terror and validation. Something had been revealed. Adrenaline surging through their veins as things that were always just out of sight made their way into view.
Horrors beyond description, everything that had ever scared them made real. Shuffling towards them like nightmarish children learning to walk. Some missing limbs, some without heads.
They run. They always run. Not knowing where they are running to. Just happy to be postponing the inevitable. Putting some distance between themselves and what they fear most. Bumping into everything, giving away their location with every crash and muffled scream.
Until they are cornered. Surrounded. Internalizing the definition of inexorable.
Until they finally see something that makes their hearts simply stop.
And they never emerge from the other end of the factory. Another car to be towed away the next morning.
Of course, some of their friends notice a vague similarity between them and the new mannequin at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but they know it’s just plastic and fiberglass so they shrug and keep shopping. That Neato D8 Intelligent Robot Vacuum with LIDAR Navigation isn’t going to buy itself you know.