It started off just like any normal day. I was in the apartment flipping through a fashion magazine when Chloe decided to take both of us shopping. Mannequins. I never gave them much of a thought. You know, those life size models used to display outfits in the clothing departments? Yes, I’ve never paid much heed to those plastic figures. Well, I just wished I had been more cautious around their lifeless bodies.
I’ll tell you what really happened if I have to from the start. It’s not like I can get out of this place, even if I wanted to, even if I tried to.
Chloe was the best friend any girl could ask for. Of course, she enjoyed fashion and clothing more than I did. I’m not surprised that she always managed to keep up with the latest trend. And if she had the chance to buy the whole store, I think she would. To be honest, I didn’t really care much about fashion at all. Whatever that makes me comfortable, give it to me, I’ll wear it. And I didn’t really want to go shopping that day, but Chloe was being persistent and I was bored enough to accompany her.
We entered this particular clothes store, it was rather large. I think it was a new one as I’ve never seen it before in town. Indie music was playing in the background. And there were clothes everywhere, as expected. There were also, those things called ‘mannequins’. You can get different kinds of those. Those plastic mannequins either have no head, or have a face painted on them, and there are also the ones that do not have a face.
I’ve never been a big fan of mannequins, especially the ones with the faces painted on them. There’s something unsettling and unnerving about them that I can’t seem to put my finger on it. I know it sounds insane to you but, I’ve always felt uncomfortable around them. It’s as if they’re always watching me, silently. So to set aside these thoughts, I tagged along after Chloe so as not to feel left behind.
While Chloe was browsing and looking through a few shirts, I was just looking around, diverting my eyes at random objects around me. I was bored, I wouldn’t tell her that because it might hurt her feelings. As I looked around the store, one particular mannequin caught my attention. There were a lot of mannequins with faces painted on them compared to the headless ones but, this one; this last mannequin that was in a closet; there was something unusual about it.
Being the curious fellow as I was, I walked over to inspect it. It was taller than an average mannequin. Yes, it was definitely taller than the other mannequins that I’ve seen around any clothing departments. The faceless mannequin was dressed in an outfit of black and white; formally. Somehow it just seemed different from the rest, besides the fact that it had no face. Its head was just faced forward towards me. And it felt like it was watching me.
I was taken aback when Chloe called out to me suddenly. She was wondering why I was staring at a lifeless plastic figure. I went over to her, still having disturbing thoughts. No thanks to my disturbing thoughts, I got a little bit clumsy that when I turned my head to get another quick look at the faceless mannequin, I accidentally bumped into one of the other mannequins, this one had a face painted on. That bump made it wobbled for a moment, and then it fell. When it hit the ground, its head was twisted as if its neck had been snapped. I swear to you that I’ve not lost my mind, but I could have sworn that somehow its lifeless eyes seemed more lifeless lying there on the ground. I also could have sworn that, I heard a human’s cry play in my mind.
Chloe was shocked when she saw the mannequin lying on the ground. She told me to pick it up real fast before I got both of us into trouble but just then, an employee rushed over to see what the commotion was about. The employee assured me that it was alright and said something along the lines of “It’s fine, just continue your shopping.” I thanked and apologized to her, and did as she said. I continued to shop. As Chloe and I walked to another section of the store, I saw that faceless mannequin again in the corner of my eye. I think I may have seen it or remembered it differently, but it was looking at me.
When I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with that place again, Chloe said that she changed her mind and decided that she wanted something that she had passed up yesterday. So we went again to the same clothing store. First thing I noticed when I stepped into the store was that the mannequin that I had accidentally knocked over; was no longer at its spot. It was just an empty spot there. I felt kind of guilty, I must have broken it badly. Sure, I’m glad the store owner wasn’t mad at me, but I still felt guilty about it.
So I tagged along after Chloe to get the item she wanted. Once again, I noticed the faceless mannequin in the center of the store. Now I’m positive it had moved, or someone moved it. It had clearly been staring straight forward when I first saw it. Now its head was turned to a different direction; it was staring at the empty spot where the now broken mannequin used to stand. But, don’t store clerks change the mannequin positions all the time? As soon as Chloe was done with her purchase and we were on our way out, my eyes wandered again to the faceless mannequin. But then again, they didn’t. Because when I looked at where it had been, it wasn’t there. It wasn’t where I last saw it.
I paused, feeling slightly startled, but Chloe was pushing my back urging me to move forward, so I did. It was getting late. The sky was getting dark, like it was about to rain anytime soon. But I felt that I needed to calm myself down, maybe a cigarette or two would help, but I decided to take a walk instead. Chloe was tired, so I called a cab home for her and I was going to walk home.
I began to feel more relaxed as I walked slowly. There was a nice cool breeze, and not much traffic to annoy me with loud noises. It was all good until I felt an odd presence, like that feeling you get when you’re alone in your apartment on a Saturday night watching a horror movie, and someone is, watching you from behind.
Thinking it was just me being paranoid, I tried to brush off that unsettling feeling but, that feeling lingered. It didn’t go away. It stayed. It remained. I assumed that someone else must have been walking on the same sidewalk like me. Turning my head slightly, I noticed that there was someone behind me. I didn’t try to stare much at them, because that was rude. I didn’t manage to catch a slight glimpse of their features but they were quite behind me, so that was alright for me.
Then I started hearing the faint sound of their footsteps. It was slow at first. Then the pacing seemed to be different, it was getting faster, and faster. The sound of their footsteps was getting closer to me. Still I paid no heed to them; maybe they just wanted to get home fast before it started pouring.
Suddenly, they seemed to be right behind me.
I stopped my tracks, expecting them to carry on and continue their way, but they didn’t. They just slowed their pace and stood, right behind me. Maybe they wanted something from me I thought. So I turned around to see if they wanted something for me; I sometimes wonder why I hadn’t taken the cab home with Chloe that evening. I also sometimes wonder, what would have happened if I hadn’t turned my bloody head that time. Things would have ended much differently then. Maybe all this wouldn’t have happened to me, but maybe it would have.
I recognized this stranger immediately. You would have thought it was a normal person in a formal black and white tux, but who the hell walks in that late at that hour? Well, this person could pass for a normal person except it had one thing that made a key difference; this person had no face. It was the mannequin. The faceless mannequin.
I’m not the type of person who would scream at something like a horror movie or sort; but this one got me. When I opened my mouth to scream, no sound came out. There were some tendril-like things shooting out from the mannequin, or whatever the hell it was; they seemed to coil around me, grabbing my face with its slippery tendrils. It felt as it my face was being slowly devoured by live serpents of death. Its tendrils got into my mouth, touching my tongue so I couldn’t scream. I stood still, petrified, unable to move an inch. That thing, I don’t even know what to call it, bent forward a little and was staring deep into my very soul with its non-existent eyes.
Suddenly, the tendrils made a quick twisting motion. I heard a loud snap, and I fell to the ground. I couldn’t move. I think it snapped my neck, but I didn’t seem to feel any pain in my senses. I saw it standing over me and staring at me for a few seconds that felt like hours, and then, everything faded into the darkness.
When I came back to my senses, I felt fine. Fine as in my neck didn’t feel like it was snapped. I didn’t feel any pain at all. Perhaps maybe I was lying on a hospital bed that restricted my movements. Or maybe, I was already dead. But no, I’m perfectly conscious. Naturally, I tried to move and look around my surrounding. I couldn’t. My neck refused to budge. Even my head wouldn’t tilt. I figured that I must be wearing a neck brace or something. So I tried to move my limbs. I couldn’t.
I was getting scared. Panicked, I tried to blink my eyes; I still couldn’t. God knows what was coming over my body. I couldn’t move a damn thing. It was like I was made of stone, or wood, or… plastic.
I could still see though, and I was actually able to look at my surroundings. It was dark. But I knew where I was. I was too familiar with this place, and I was damn sure I recognize the smell of plastic too. And there were many mirrors around me, and I could see myself in them. I was plastic. I was a plastic mannequin with the face painted on it.
I wanted to scream, I really wanted to. I tried, I couldn’t. My mouth wouldn’t move. I could see my own reflection in the mirror. My painted-on face, my mouth in a permanent smile, my eyes lifeless and continuously staring. They didn’t move when I looked around, which I guess that was a bonus for me.
It was night, there was nobody to be seen. Well, except me and my lifeless plastic figure, and the other mannequins that stood still in the clothing department. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to feel. I could see the other mannequins, of course they weren’t moving. I couldn’t call out for help even if I tried.
Then something interrupted the silence of the night. Footsteps, I could hear them. As those sound of footsteps got closer, the speakers that played Indie music during the day turned on. But they weren’t playing the Indie music. No, this time they started out quiet, with a small and scratchy sound, and then slowly got louder as the footsteps approached. They were blaring static now. The creator of those footsteps stopped at the door to the store. They reached out a hand and placed it against the store’s automatic sliding doors. With a little bit of force they caused it to open, and that thing strolled inside.
I was scared, but not surprised. It was that faceless thing again. It strolled in casually, turning its head and looking around. I observed that it wasn’t looking at the clothes; it was looking at the mannequins; particularly the ones with the painted faces. It carried on walking, but then it stopped, in front of me. Not moving, it stared at me. Looking down from its tall stature; static in the background was still blaring. I couldn’t tell what it was thinking, but I’m sure if it had an expression, if it had a face, it sure as hell was smirking.
Not uttering a word, it turned its head, and continued forward. It stopped again at the closet, where I had first seen it standing in there, thinking it was a lifeless mannequin. It stepped forward, turned around its plastic figure, and posed like it had been when it was a mannequin. The speakers seemed to get quieter, and the static faded, leaving everything in silence. The faceless thing, now looking like a normal mannequin, was perfectly still in its closet.
So now I stand here; unable to move, unable to talk, unable to do anything but stare. It’s like being dead. But then again, I’m still alive; at least I’m pretty sure that I am. I don’t have to eat; even if I wanted to I don’t think I could. I feel no hunger. I don’t have to do any of the other requirements to live that I had to as a regular person either. All I can do is stand here. And wait until someone notices me.
I can’t remember how long I’ve been here. I counted the sunrises and the sunsets before; but days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months, and I just can’t keep track anymore that I gave up on it.
Every day I watch as the store is opened, and I watch as people come in to shop. I do see Chloe a few times. I miss her a lot, but I think she has found a new best friend now. She still looks very sad and depressed most of the time. I want to call out to her, at least to say goodbye, but I can’t. I wish her the best of luck; I hope she doesn’t suffer the same fate like I did.
And at night, when everyone leaves; it’s mostly still, mostly. The faceless mannequin, it starts moving at night. It walks out from its closet as a mannequin and walks out of the store. I have no idea what it does, but it always seems to come back right before the sun rises. I have a feeling that it might be looking for more victims, someone else to be part of its mad plastic fantasy.
But now I can only stand here. I can hardly remember what it feels like to move. I feel like I’ll be here forever, but that can’t be right. Maybe one day they’ll throw me out, and I’ll die, right? Or am I cursed to this plastic body forever? But for now, I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere soon; now all I can do is stand here. No one is aware of my sentience, but I’m here, and I’m watching. I’m watching everything you do.