She felt it as soon as she backed away from the overnight dry cleaning drop slot. A short pinch, a slight pulling, a small ripping. She quickly turned to see a wire mesh trash can with several metal points jutting out from top to bottom. Then she reached down with her left hand and felt along the smooth mesh or her silky, expensive hosiery. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing . . . . Something. Dammit.
Keeping her finger on the spot, she flexed her knee to expose more of her shiny tan leg from beneath a slit gown that already maximized exposure. She tried to look at the damage, but there was little light at this small, darkened shopping center. She awkwardly stepped over to the dry cleaner's glass front, where some illumination from the night lights inside enabled her to see better. But better was worse in this case. It was not a small, indistinguishable tear as she had hoped. It was a run. A long, ever growing, impossible to miss (especially in this gown), cheap and classless looking run.
"Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!" Lola Lowrey exclaimed, to no one in particular since the shopping center, and the parking lot, and the "someday this will be a busy intersection" in front of the strip mall were all deserted. Lola stomped to the open driver's side door of her Honda Accord, plopped down into the seat (or as close to plopping as the skin tight gown would allow), and sighed deeply.
"Now what?" she asked the same no one she had cursed at seconds before. She checked her watch - 9:15. She had wanted to arrive slightly, but fashionably late to the company party. But 'slightly' was slipping away, and 'fashionably' had been destroyed by a poorly made trash can that should bear the sign 'Hazardous to Hosiery.' So, what were her options. She couldn't go to the party looking like this. And she had not been anywhere near a tanning salon in the last three months, so bare legs were out. There was a convenience store a few miles up the road, but that only meant some cheap pair of no name hose that would probably look worse than wearing none at all. And it was at least twenty minutes, in the opposite direction from the party, to a WalMart that might have something half as attractive as the expensive pantyhose she had bought especially for this event. It appeared that on this night, Lola's ensemble had changed into a pumpkin long before Midnight.
And then, a bright white light came on at the far end of the shopping center. Just all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, illuminating the entire area. The light came from large letters over the glass doors of a rather large shop. They read, "MINNIE QUINN'S BOUTIQUE."
"Boutique?" Lola questioned. In this shopping center with the usual dry cleaner, beauty salon, and insurance agent lineup? Intrigued, Lola started the Accord, and slowly drove toward the bright lights. As she parked a row back from the store front, bright colored neon lit up the darkened window. "LINGERIE" in blue. "ACCESSORIES" in yellow. And then, finally, in bright red: "FINE HOSIERY."
Lola got out of her car, and walked slowly toward the shop, her black heels echoing throughout the empty parking lot. As she crossed the final drive lane, and stepped up onto the sidewalk in front of the shop, all of the inside lights came on at once, making Lola take a short step back in surprise. But she moved forward again at the sight of the display in the front window. A waist to toe mannequin displayed the sheerest, shiniest pair of light tan pantyhose Lola had ever seen. The look and texture were even more glamorous than the expensive pair she had ruined minutes before. And the shade seemed softer and more alluring than the Butternut shade she was wearing. In a word, they were perfect.
No one was in the store, not even a sales person. And the only car in the lot was Lola's Honda. But still, the attractive brunette stepped to the door and pulled the handle. It only made a clattering noise. Locked. She tried again, harder, with the same result. Lola started to pound on the glass, but was once more drawn to the leg mannequin displaying the stunning pantyhose. She had to feel those nylons on her legs. Party or no party. Tonight.
Lola returned to the door, ready to pull it off its hinges if necessary. But this time it glided open. And Lola Lowrey stepped into Minnie Quinn's Boutique.
"Hello?" she called out as the shop door closed quietly behind her. There was no one behind the sales counter near the back of the store. Lola started to move toward the counter, which stood just in front of an open door that probably led back to dressing rooms, storage, and maybe an office. Surely some employee was back there. Maybe in the rest room, indisposed (so to speak) at the moment. Or maybe something had happened. Something bad. A robbery, or an assault of some kind. Lola hesitated a moment, and felt her hairs stand on end for a moment. Maybe this fashion oasis was the last place she needed to be right now.
Lola turned back toward the door. A pair of pantyhose from WalMart was better than being attacked by some maniac. But as she headed for the exit, her eyes were drawn once more to the leg form in the display window. She would look so good in a pair of those pantyhose.
Suddenly, a hand touched her shoulder. Lola shrieked, and jumped away, running for the door. As she started to open it and run to her car, she saw the reflection of her assailant in the door glass. A small, gray-haired woman, with a wrinkled face highlighted by a lot of rouge, extremely red lipstick, and a expression of complete surprise.
"Uhh… uhh…may I help you, Miss?" the old woman said in a high cracking tone.
"I'm sorry I reacted like that," Lola began, closing the door and stepping back inside. "But I didn't see anyone, and I called out, and - well, I was afraid maybe something was wrong."
"I'm very sorry. I was in the back getting ready for our grand opening, and I was setting up some equipment, and trying out the lights…"
"Oh, so that's why they just came on like that. I didn't realize you weren't open yet. I'll come back another time." Lola turned back toward the front, but as she did her leg was plainly visible through the slit in her gown, and the old woman's eyes were drawn to the large run in Lola's hose.
"Oh, my, that's a bad one isn't it? And that beautiful gown is made to show off your very shapely legs."
Lola smiled a bit shyly. "Thanks. I was hopeful that I could avoid driving back to town, and then I saw those beautiful pantyhose in the window - what brand are those? They must be very expensive."
The old woman walked over to the mannequin, and ran her hand gently along a shiny leg. "Thank you for the compliment. They aren't really a particular brand - I mean, I make them myself. Sort of the garment equivalent of a home brewery."
Lola walked up beside her for a better look. Up close, the nylon looked even more sheer, and the shine even more luminescent. "That is amazing. How do you do it?"
"Oh, it's nothing really. Just doing maintenance on the machinery, a little oil, some basic repairs. The key is the ingredients for the fiber mixture. That's what makes the pantyhose really special. And of course, merchandising is also important. Good pantyhose forms are difficult to come by."
Lola nodded. "Expensive, I suppose?"
"Mmm, I suppose," the old woman responded, rather cryptically Lola thought.
The young brunette partygoer turned to find the hosiery section in the store, and her eyes were drawn to a rack of Minnie Quinn's Custom Pantyhose. Surprisingly, none of the packages were marked with a size.
"I can't seem to find my size - is there some kind of code?" she asked.
"Oh, no, each pair form fits itself to the shape of its wearer."
Lola looked puzzled. "You mean pantyhose this luxurious is One Size Fits All?"
"That's not what I meant. Each pair fits one person perfectly. And only that person."
Despite the conviction in her voice, the old woman's claim sounded like merchandising hype. Maybe, Lola thought, she'd get a couple pair, and hope at least one of them fit. Then she turned the package over, and glimpsed the price. She quickly put the package back on the rack, and stepped back. "Oh my, God! Is that the real price?" Lola thought out loud, and then hoped she hadn't insulted the old woman.
"Oh yes," she answered, nonchalantly. "They are quite expensive. But the stockings do more than just look good. They provide the wearer with, shall we say, a more youthful perspective on life. You see, my dear, the world is filled with two kinds of people: there are Givers and there are Takers. I tend to cater more to the Takers. And they are willing to part with a considerable amount of money to remain Takers."
Lola knew that at that price, she'd have to be a 'Taker' also - namely, by 'taking' her business elsewhere. "I'm sure they're wonderful pantyhose, and do everything you say - but I'm afraid that price is out of my range." Lola backed toward the door. "I'm sorry to take up so much of your time. Good luck with your new business." Just as Lola reached for the door, the old woman spoke.
"I'll make you a deal, my dear." She walked over to the pantyhose display, glanced at the few pantyhose forms surrounding the counter, then pulled out a package and held it up. "Hmmm, 'Malibu Tan.' I think these will do." She walked the package over to Lola. "Try these on . . ." Lola started to protest, but the old woman held up her hand. " . . . no, listen. Try these on. If you like them, you may wear them tonight, free of charge."
The partygoer didn't know what to say. "That's, uhh, very generous of you, but why?"
"Let's just say that these pantyhose on those lovely legs will be, shall we say, great advertising for my boutique." The old woman smiled, her white teeth showing, as she held the package in front of Lola.
"Well, if it will help you out," she started.
"Oh yes, it will - very much," Minnie Quinn affirmed.
"All right, then," Lola said, taking the package. "May I put them on here?"
"Oh, yes, there's a room just over there," the old woman pointed to an area marked 'Dressing Rooms.' As Lola walked that direction, the old woman accompanied her. "Now, as you're trying them on, give me a running commentary. I want to know how they feel from the time you take them out of the package, until you've slid them on and smoothed them out."
"Oh, okay," Lola said hesitantly. That sounded a little weird, but she was getting a very expensive pair of hosiery out of this deal, so she would provide the old lady a little thrill with her play-by-play. At least the old woman stopped short of going in to the dressing room, simply pulling the curtain back for her young customer to walk through.
Lola quickly slid off her black pumps, and pulled off her ruined pantyhose. "I'm opening the package now, and taking the pantyhose out. They are very smooth and shiny. But darker than the pair in the window." Lola was a little disappointed. "I don't remember seeing this shade."
"No, it's not on display yet," the old woman said. "It's one of my new shades, so I want people to get a look at it. I hope you don't mind - it will still look wonderful with your gown."
She did mind, a little, since she had really liked that light shade. But, as her grandma used to say, 'Beggars can't be choosers.' "No these will be just fine." Lola hiked up the fabric of her gown. "I'm pulling them on now - oh, my, they slide on so easily. Perhaps they're a little too big." But before the old woman could answer, Lola spoke again. "No, my God, they are shaping themselves to my legs. This is amazing!"
"As I said before - each pair is meant to fit one pair of legs," Minnie Quinn reminded her.
Lola finished pulling the waistband up over her black bikini panties, and then started to smooth the nylon over her legs. It wasn't necessary. From her waist, down her thighs, over her knees, across her ankles, right out to the tips of her pedicured toenails - the amazing pantyhose clung to her like a second skin. Albeit, a very smooth, silky, and shiny skin.
"Are you finished yet, my dear? Come out and let me take a look," the old woman called. Lola was so excited about how well the pantyhose looked and fit, she didn't even bother slipping her heels back on. She stepped out onto the boutique floor in her stockinged feet, and walked over to Ms. Quinn, standing near a full length mirror.
"I hate to keep repeating myself," Lola started, as she turned back and forth admiring her nylon sheathed legs peeking through the slit gown. "But these are amazing." Minnie grinned, and blushed slightly. "I'm serious. Companies who spend millions of dollars making the most expensive hosiery in the business can't duplicate this." Lola thought about the expensive, but fragile pantyhose she had ruined earlier in the evening. "I bet they get runs pretty easy though."
"No runs. Ever. The only thing that wears out is that youthful 'invigoration' I mentioned before, and that lasts a long time."
"I guess that's why they're so expensive," Lola commented, still admiring how good her legs looked in this pantyhose. "But are you sure you want to just let me have these - I mean even just for the evening?"
"After seeing your legs in that shade, I'm absolutely positive. In fact, I want you to have these pantyhose to wear always." Minnie emphasized that last word, and then nodded toward the back storage room. A silent door near the ceiling opened, and a large sack-like structure emerged, suspended by a wire, and slowly moved toward where the two ladies stood talking.
"I still don't see how you made these yourself. They are just remarkable." Lola was too self-absorbed at the moment to detect the movement toward her.
"I think the best explanation is 'space technology.'" Minnie answered, glancing at the approaching sac/pod.
"Well, 'space age technology' or not, you could make some serious money if you sold your secret to some hosiery company," Lola's businesswoman instincts kicked in. Maybe she could broker some kind of deal. Out of gratitude for the old woman's generosity. And out of desire to make a large amount of cash for negotiating such an important deal.
"Well, it's not really 'my' secret to sell. And I think I misspoke. It's not 'space age' technology, just 'space technology.' No, that's not the best way to say that. Oh yes, 'alien technology.' Yes, that's much clearer."
Minnie's use of the word 'alien' brought Lola up short. "Uhhh . . . you don't mean 'little green men, do you? You mean 'alien' like, foreign technology? From Europe? Or maybe from Japan?"
"No, I mean 'alien' like from outer space. But not 'little green men.' More like large sacs, or bladders actually." She turned and pointed up.
Lola's gaze followed the direction of the old woman's finger, and gasped aloud as she saw the large, black bag moving slowly toward her. The young woman's first thought was that for some crazy reason, Minnie Quinn had installed a plastic trash bag on a ceiling wire. But as the sac moved closer, Lola saw that the object's exterior was covered with purplish, vein-like lines that were pulsing at a regular beat. This wasn't plastic. Whatever it was, it was alive.
Lola's stockinged feet starting backing slowly toward the dressing area, her eyes riveted on the black sac. "What . . . the hell . . . is that thing?" She asked, her voice breaking.
"I really don't know its name. They've never told me. I call them my Benefactors, because they are what enable me to make my wonderful lingerie, including those pantyhose you're wearing right now." The sac had temporarily stopped, waiting for Lola to make some kind of move. Minnie Quinn continued. "We've been together a few years now, and have made some wonderful things together. Unfortunately, we do have to move around more than I'd like. Most places have a certain threshold for disappearances, and we have to be careful when we reach that point."
The frightened customer had no idea what Minnie was talking about, but she did hear the word 'disappearances,' and she could tell by its focused swaying that the sac was getting ready to pounce. Lola was sure that if she tried to run to the front door, or even move quickly to the dressing room, the creature would move quicker than she would. Using her peripheral vision, she saw something leaning against the wall near the dressing room door. She slowly moved to the side and back toward it.
"I hope you can tell it . . . uhh, your Benefactor . . . that I'm your friend, and I mean no harm," Lola said, trying to divert attention away from her movements.
"I guess I could, but it wouldn't do any good. All it really cares about is that you're young, beautiful, and probably quite tasty." When the old woman said 'tasty,' Lola noticed the sac puff out a little, and begin to sway more urgently. It was now or never.
The young woman quickly turned to the wall, and grabbed the pole that was used to retrieve clothing from high shelves. The alien bladder leaped toward her, but Lola swung the pole around and caught the sac squarely with the metal hook on the end of the pool. A horrendous screeching noise sounded through the store, as Lola continued to drive the hook into the outer covering of the creature. Minnie Quinn moved toward Lola to stop her, but a greenish goo began spraying out of the gashes in the Benefactor, and covered Minnie's eyes and face.
After several pokes, the screeching subsided, and the sac stopped moving altogether. The old woman was now moaning "my eyes, my eyes," trying to wipe the discharge off her face. Lola decided this would be an excellent time to leave. She ran straight for the front door, forgetting about her heels and purse left behind in the dressing room.
She also forgot that Minnie Quinn had referred to 'Benefactors' - in the plural.
Just a few feet from the door, a ceiling panel slid back and another one of the black sacs dropped suspended from the ceiling. Lola tried to reverse course, but she had no hook to fight back this time. The alien bladder leaped onto Lola's head, and a large slit opened in the bottom of the sac, engulfing the beautiful young woman's head, neck, arms, and chest. Lola screamed for help as she was sucked into the creature, but the shrieks diminished only seconds after her head was covered.
Minnie Quinn had cleared her face of the green goo, and walked over to the scene of the capture. There was still a lot of movement around the second Benefactor. She could detect Lola's fists pounding in vain inside the large sac. And the young woman's attractive legs and feet, now sheathed in Minnie's special pantyhose, kicked back and forth in the air, as the creature had lifted the young woman further off the ground. But both the struggles inside the creature, and the kicking outside it, were quickly slowing.
As her pantyhosed legs slowed their struggle, Minnie circled them for a closer inspection. Seeing that the black gown was hindering her view, she called to the creature, "Please ingest the entire gown." Almost instantly, the silky black fabric was drawn up into the bladder, leaving Lola's attractive legs bare but for the alluring tan nylon covering.
The shop owner noticed that not only had the legs stopped kicking, they had begun their coversion to plastic rigidity. As she stepped forward to space them apart in a proper display mode, she looked up and noticed a small oversight. "One more thing, Benefactor, the panties, please." This time, the waistband of the Malibu Tan pantyhose rolled down part way, and a small black sliver slid down toward Lola's undergarment. It quickly sheared each side of the elastic, and carried the thin cotton fabric back into the sac. The pantyhose was rolled back just above the waist.
Minnie positioned the legs a few inches apart, with one knee slightly bent. "Finish, please," she said, and she felt Lola's legs harden completely under her hand and the shimmering nylon. The old woman twisted the legs slightly one direction, then back the other, and gave a firm pull. There was a popping noise as Lola's bottom half, now a plasticized pantyhose form, came loose from the sac and into the old woman's hands. "Take the rest to the back," she said to the alien, and the sac rose back into the ceiling, and began a slow journey back to the workroom, and the vat where Minnie prepared the mixture to make her special pantyhose. Normally, when the alien made a capture, it converted the entire victim into lingerie-making fibers. But it knew that when the victim was wearing the special pantyhose, Minnie wanted a display mannequin.
So, the remainder of Lola would only make three or four pair of pantyhose, instead of the usual eight or ten. But as Minnie Quinn placed Lola's lovely legs amidst the other pantyhose forms, and saw how well she modeled the Malibu Sun shade, she was satisfied that she had made the right decision. Minnie had been in the clothing business long enough to realize that sometimes good marketing was just as important as production. And tonight, she and her Benefactors had managed to do a little of both.
"Dammit, Jimmy! Why didn't you tell me your parents were going to be there? Okay, so it was a surprise - but you still could have called me." There was anger and worry in Annie Hooper's voice as she shouted into the pay phone at the darkened shopping center. "Why is it a big deal? In case you've forgotten, your Dad is a minister, right? Well, when I show up wearing this, he's going to throw me out of the house, or call the Vice Squad, or both! Not that bad, you say?" She looked down at her thin, tight blue top she was wearing, taking special note of how easily visible her less than aroused at the moment nipples were through the nearly see-through fabric. "Remember that blue spandex top I bought this summer at the beach. No, not that one - or that one," then she heard a few words and a loud groan, "yep, that's the one. Now do you get my point . . ." she looked down at her chest again, ". . . or 'points,' in this case? No, I'm not wearing a bra . . ." the word 'bra' echoed through the parking lot, and Annie realized how loud she was getting, and spoke softer. "I thought it was just going to be you and me tonight, and I figured I wouldn't need a bra - or even the top for very long. What? Put on a bra? Oh, good idea. Lucky for us I always carry a spare bra in the glove compartment. Yes. Yes, I was being facetious, very good, Jimmy. Jimmy, this is the middle of nowhere, it's late, and stores are closed. Oh, yeah, good idea - I'll just walk into the quickie mart and ask for a medium Slurpee and a 36C brasierre. Well, I'm sorry if you think I'm being difficult. I just don't like being surprised and humiliated this way. Fine. Fine! Let's just say, if I find an all night bra store, I'll mosey on over. And if not, call you later!" She hung up the phone, sorry that she had been so short with a guy she really liked, but still uncertain how she could avoid a major disaster if she made her scheduled visit.
And then, bright lights appeared in the window of a nearby clothing shop. The name of the store, MINNIE QUINN'S BOUTIQUE, lit up the dark parking lot. Curious, Annie walked toward the store. As she got closer, more neon lit up the front window. In blue LINGERIE was spelled out. And then, in yellow, ACCESSORIES. And finally, in bright red, FASHION BRAS.
This is too good to be true, Annie thought. And as she walked to the window, she saw some upper torso mannequins on display. And on them were bras that looked so soft and luxurious, that she knew she had to try one on.
But surely the store wasn't really open at this hour, she thought, and put her hand on the front door handle.
She smiled as it glided open. My problem is solved, she thought happily, and stepped in . . . .