When Mark Walker accidentally discovers a door at the rear of his wardrobe, he finds an Edwardian scene frozen in time. But the four female mannequins are not just a display; Mark discovers they have an ulterior purpose - and a history.
Author's note: This story is different from my more conventional Big Busts stories, but I hope you will enjoy this Halloween special.
by Charlotte Dickles
It was just like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, only without the lion and the witch. It was a Saturday morning and I'd been trying to install a shelving unit inside the wardrobe in my basement flat. I'd found the unit dumped in a skip the previous day and salvaged it, dragging it back to Baxter House, where I'd had a flat in the basement for almost a year. The flat had once been part of the kitchens in the era when there'd have been a dozen servants to carry food between the basement kitchens and the ground floor dining room. In those days, this would have been one of the posher parts of London. Now it was one of the sleazier, meaning that I could just about afford the rent.
The problem was the shelving unit was just a bit too big and wouldn't quite fit into the wardrobe. I climbed inside to try and use brute force to pull the unit in. As I strained, I heard a slight click and then as I leaned against the back of the wardrobe, I fell backwards into a dark void.
I managed to turn slightly as I fell, so my left buttock and shoulder took the force of the fall and I kind of half rolled, as I'd learnt to do decades before, when learning judo, coming to rest in a kneeling position, my hand clutching someone's shoe. It was pitch black, as the opening in the back of the wardrobe had swung back into place, and I couldn't see whose shoe it was. However, I could clearly feel a foot inside the shoe and at any moment, I expected to hear a yell to wake the dead. I had obviously fallen through the connecting wall into the adjoining flat, with their bedroom still in darkness, and here I was with my hand on their foot.
"I'm sorry," I said in a low voice. "I appear to have fallen through the back of my wardrobe into your flat. I'll leave immediately."
"Er, I've got my phone in my pocket. I'm going to get it out and put the torch on. Is that all right?"
I tentatively pulled out my mobile phone, switched on the torch facility and stared up into the face of an Edwardian lady. A very still Edwardian lady. How did I know she was Edwardian? OK. I was guessing slightly here but the dress kind of looked of that age. She had a lovely smile on her face, but she wasn't looking down at me, instead she was looking across the room at something beyond my line of vision. I shifted my phone slightly to illuminate what she was staring at, only to find another Edwardian woman staring back at her, her face split with a wide grin. She was much younger than the first and at a guess was the other woman's daughter. By now I'd realised these two figures were mannequins or similar and they definitely weren't going to start screaming.
I climbed to my feet and shone the light around some more. It was a similar sized room to my bedsitter, about fifteen feet by twelve and there were two other figures standing there, servants in black dresses with white, full-length aprons, both with looks of absolute joy on their faces. Clearly, the scene laid out before me was to celebrate some superb news they had just received.
I turned my torch around the room to the door I had clearly just fallen through, apparently the only door in the room. That meant that this room had always been part of my flat, rather than belonging to an adjoining flat. The locking mechanism was obvious from this side of the door and I opened it to stare through the back of my wardrobe into my flat beyond. A piece of wood ran horizontally across what I had always believed was the wooden back of the wardrobe – for strengthening purposes I had always thought. A hard push upwards at the one end would withdraw the bolt on the other side and the door would open.
That was the question. Why would anyone want to hide this delightful scene which had been set up inside the room? And what should I do now?
Get some light inside, take some photographs, do some digging into the history of the place. I didn't have any particularly close friends to share this riveting find with, and if I told the landlord, who lived upstairs, he'd presumably want to increase my rent in view of my enlarged premises, as well as removing my sitting tenants.
For they were mine, I realised. Finders, Keepers may not have much validity in law, but morally, I had no problem in accepting that until I found a more legitimate owner, these beautiful women were mine.
I found a lead light, plugged it in and took it through to examine the room in more detail. There were a couple of gas lights set on the walls but a quick check showed the gas supply was cut off, most likely, many decades ago. In the one corner was a free standing mirror.
The four women were gathered around a rectangular table, about eight feet by four, covered with a white broderie anglaise tablecloth. It was still very white, I realised, rather than covered with layers of dust, as you'd expect from laying untouched and undusted for around a hundred years. Which probably meant there was no natural ventilation in here. I nervously looked at the door but the power cord for the light ensured I couldn't be trapped. I returned to my flat and found out the fan I kept for the stifling days of summer. I plugged it in and wedged it in the doorway so it blew refreshing air into the room. Now I could return once more to my four women standing around the table.
The level of realism was remarkable, the kind you would see in Madame Tussauds. What was most remarkable were the looks of absolute joy on all their faces as though... My mind flashed back many years to when I was just twenty. I'd had a relationship with a widow – a woman much older than me who'd been sadly missing her daily rations following the death of her husband. I don't think she missed her husband at all.
I can still remember that huge grin as she had her first orgasm in over six months; a grin that seemed so similar to the grins on these four women. Was that what the artist had been conveying? Had he had sex with all four of these women and captured their exhilaration in these models? No wonder that this room had been sealed up ever since. Conveying male sexual pleasure would have been frowned upon in Edwardian times; to suggest that females could equally enjoy such pleasures would be considered a terrible aberration.
As I stared at the four women, a little thought started to nag at my mind. An artist who openly conveyed such female lust would surely make his models true to life in all respects. I lifted a hand to touch the exposed part of the daughter's ample cleavage. Rather than being hard and unyielding as I'd expected a wax model to be, this was soft and squeezy. That softness really surprised me. These mannequins were not made of wax. Perhaps some kind of rubber moulding process had been used; a life mould perhaps, although how the artist preserved the smile during such a lengthy process was puzzling.
Whatever, the question of how true to life the artist had made these mannequins could only be resolved in one way. I suppose what happens from henceforth may sound a bit kinky, perverted even, some might say. But people who work in dress shops are doing it all the time; dressing and undressing mannequins and handling them as nothing more than bits of plastic. On the other hand, I reasoned, these mannequins were so lifelike, they seemed much more than that. I decided to dignify them by giving them names; in alphabetical order of age. The smartly dressed mother would be Abigail; the well-rounded housemaid was Betty; the daughter, Charlotte; and the young housemaid would be Doris.
I decided to start with Doris, since she had the shorter skirt unencumbered by bustles. I lifted the skirt, along with the petticoat beneath. They didn't wear knickers in those days. Nor did they trim their pubic hair!
The bush of dark hair almost (but not quite) hid the slit beneath it. I'm no expert on the range of sizes and shapes of women's genitalia, but it all looked incredibly realistic. Closer inspection was called for but first thing, I decided, I needed to remove all of Doris's clothes.
The apron was tied at the rear in a delightful shaped bow. It felt disturbingly erotic to pull on the laces to untie it and let it dangle free, and then to remove it over her head. The dress buttoned at the rear, and I nervously undid each button as though I expected her to protest.
This is crazy, I thought. It is simply a sculpture produced by a highly skilled artist. Nothing more. With such thoughts, I pushed the dress forward over her shoulders and let it fall to the floor.
Beneath, she was wearing a corset, another clue to the realism the artist wanted to achieve. Far easier for him to create a slimmer model. Or perhaps this was evidence he really had used a life moulding of a real woman. I unlaced the cords and pulled apart the two sides of the corset. Then I could walk around to stand in front of Doris and unclip the busk fastening and let it join the dress on the floor. Beneath she wore a rather grubby white shift, her breasts and stomach pushed through it, intimately revealing her shape.
The shift was too narrow to slide over her wide hips. Instead, it would have to go over her shoulders and that meant moving her arms upwards. Until now, I hadn't tried moving any of her limbs, but I found they would rotate around the shoulders in the way you would expect of a tailor's dummy. To be honest, I found that rather disappointing, especially as it seemed the movement was quite limited, and the skin seemed to bunch up when I tried to lift the arm further. Everything else had been so incredibly realistic; the movement of the arms was artificial in comparison. That's when the idea started to form that the incredibly created outer rubber moulding was fitted over a real tailor's dummy, which kind of made sense.
A brief experiment with Betty showed that she, too, moved in a similar way.
Returning to Doris, I raised both arms as far as they would go and managed to pull the shift over her head, so she stood before me completely naked. She was hardly what you might call a pin-up girl. A large tummy, fat thighs and bum, with small breasts, and it was difficult to understand why the artist had chosen her, or at least, not refined her form as he produced the mannequin. Perhaps it was simply that he'd had sex with her and then used her as his model, as maybe he had for the other three mannequins. Certainly, naked Doris looked even more lifelike than she had when dressed, apart from the limited movement of her arms, due to the tailor's dummy beneath.
So how did the outer skin go over the dummy? There were no visible openings anywhere in the skin, apart from the obvious ones. I experimentally placed my hand inside Doris's mouth to see if it could be stretched wide, but there was no mouth cavity, no teeth, just the wooden face of the dummy. Clearly, Doris needed more detailed examination and I looked around for inspiration upon the best way to do that.
The table, of course. I removed the broderie anglaise tablecloth to expose a rather plain table beneath. Then I lifted Doris up to lay her flat on the table. I guessed this table had frequently been used for the same purpose, the smart tablecloth disguising the real purpose.
As I've already said, she looked just like any other ordinary and rather plain teenager, except that there was no opening inside her mouth nor, as I quickly discovered, was there any opening at her anus or vagina. In each case, there was the plain wood of the tailor's dummy beneath. What then?
Doris still had her arms held as far upright as I could place them; they made an angle of about forty-five degrees to the table and beneath her armpit I could see a little lump which could easily be mistaken for a small deformity. Examining it more closely, revealed a bit of the skin that could be folded out from the surface to reveal a small, square metal socket just beneath. The kind of socket into which you might insert something like a square Allen key in order to turn it. Push the little flap of skin back into place and the hole virtually disappeared, especially as it was in the arm pit.
I looked around for the square metal key which would fit into the socket. It didn't take long to find. It was in a drawer under the table, and it looked like the hand operated egg whisk my grandmother used to have in her kitchen; a kind of metal frame about a foot long with a handle at the one end. At the other, instead of a beating mechanism, was a little gear arrangement which turned the square key.
By this time, I was experiencing a real exhilaration at the discoveries I was making. The key on the egg whisk thing fitted into the socket beneath Doris's armpit and I started to turn the handle. The skin immediately beneath the little flap split. I stopped turning and examined it more carefully. There was an almost invisible line running from the flap down the side of the rib cage as far as the lower curve of the breasts, and I realized this was where the skin would split apart.
I continued to turn the handle on the egg whisk and gradually the line lengthened until it stretched right down to the breast. As I continued to turn, so the lower part of the breast detached from the skin beneath. I carried on turning until the split ran to the mid-point between the breasts.
It seemed the mechanism was an early design of zip. Two helical springs beneath the skin, one on the underside of the breast, the other on the skin immediately beneath. Turning the key in the socket turned one of the springs whose distant end interconnected with the other, and as the spring continued to turn, so the two springs were wound together along their entire length. It would make a powerful joint, but the thickness of the 'zip' meant it could only be used where the skin was thick enough to conceal it; in this case, concealed in the underside of the breast.
I turned my attention to the other arm pit, where an identical flap concealed an identical socket.
Within minutes, Doris's breasts were detached along their sides and lower edge from her body, and I could hinge the breasts up and over her face. With a bit of very careful stretching, I could actually pull the breasts right over her head and as I continued to pull, the wooden head of the tailor's dummy emerged from skin and I could push the breasts behind her back, at the same time, easing it off her shoulders. Now I could push the tailor's dummy arms right around so I could peel the arms of the rubber skin away from the dummy and then pull it down the body of the dummy so that eventually I had separated the two.
Why would I, you might be thinking. Slowly the idea had been forming inside my mind. If a tailor's dummy could come out of the rubber skin, then another body could go inside it. Perhaps, I thought, this was the original intention of the artist.
I smiled nervously at the rest of my companions as I stripped naked and then sat on the table, and thrust my right foot through the opening in Doris's chest and down towards the right leg. I followed it with my left leg, gradually pulling the rubber skin up my legs until I could feed my feet down Doris's legs, my feet into her feet. Then I stood up and pulled her thighs up my thighs until they reached the obvious obstruction. It's worth saying that the rubbery skin was quite soft and stretchy, and gently squeezed my legs into a terrific shape. As I stared down my body, I saw a fantastic pair of female legs topped by my enormous erection.
What to do? For some reason, I really did not want to masturbate, and clearly I could not pull the skin any further up my own body with that sticking out. I decided to spend a few minutes neatly folding Doris's clothes which I had left strewn over the floor.
It worked and after a few minutes, I was able to push my problem downwards into the groin of the skin. That's where I had my next surprise, as if I hadn't had sufficient already that morning. There was a receptacle for my penis to slide into.
That turned everything upside down. No longer was I doing something totally weird; I was doing exactly as the artist intended. He, too, had done exactly as I was doing.
I pushed my penis inside the opening, noting that it lined up with the urethra opening on the outside. Doris's vagina was sandwiched at a rather artificial angle between my penis and my groin.
With those intricacies out of the way, I could continue pulling the rubber skin up my body to the chest. All this time, of course, the breasts and head had been hanging behind my back. Now was the time when I had to insert my arms through the shoulders. This was the trickiest operation so far, as I was terrified of tearing it. I had to twist first one shoulder backwards in order to slide my arm inside the skin, then the other. Finally, I had to ease the rubber skin up both arms together as I lifted them, wriggling and jiggling them about to try to ease the process.
It was done. The next operation was to pull the head of the rubber skin over my own, made especially difficult since it was hanging about the nape of my neck. I decided to try to let gravity aid the operation, by clambering into the table and squatting on my hands and knees, my bum pushed right up into the air so that the head would hopefully fall down on top of my own.
"Harder, harder," I moaned, feeling the orgasm about to consume me.
What was that? I jerked upright at the sudden pain I'd felt between my legs, only to realise there was no pain. I was on my own in this room, untouched by human hands for a century.
I shrugged. I needed to keep my imagination firmly under control. I returned to my previous position, without any repetition of the image, rested my forehead on the table and put my arms behind my head to ease the breasts and head of the skin over my own head.
That was relatively simple, and I pulled the head mask onto my own head. But getting the eyes, nose and mouth lined up with those on the skin was far more difficult. I had to climb off the table and walk over to the mirror to complete the task.
Then I could step back and admire myself in the mirror. Apart from the wide slash beneath my breasts where the primitive zip was undone, I looked, for all the world, like a normal young woman.
I returned to the table and the egg whisk contraption. Now its design became obvious, for its length meant that by crooking my elbow, I could grasp the device with one hand whilst turning it with the other. As I turned the handle, I closed the gap between my breast and my torso, pleasantly stretching my skin over my frame as I did so. It's worth saying that Doris, indeed all four women, were probably quite tall for their generation – say around five feet, six or eight – so whilst it was a stretch for my five feet, nine, it wasn't impossible. Anyway, I repeated the operation with my other breast, and I was done. I returned to the mirror to observe the result.
"Cor blimey, girl. You look fantastic." The words, in best Cockney, slipped from my mouth with ease, causing my grin to get even wider.
I briefly considered donning my housemaid' dress and apron, but discarded the idea. If I was going to step out in public, as I knew I eventually would, I must wear clothes appropriate to this century rather than the last.
I stepped through the back of my wardrobe into the world of normality, which I had left seemingly eons before.
Living on my own, until now with no experience of cross dressing, I had no female clothes I could wear. However, since many women wore essentially unisex clothes I saw no reason why that should be a problem.
I put on some jockey underpants; no bra of course, but then perhaps that was why I had subconsciously chosen Doris, the woman with the smallest breasts. I say woman, but as I stared into the mirror in my bedroom, in the full light of day, I looked no older than a girl of... what? Fifteen? Sixteen? Who knows? Perhaps if this had been a weekday, I'd have child protection officers interrogating me as I wandered the shops, demanding to know why I wasn't in school. For wondering the shops was exactly what I intended to do.
I couldn't help smiling at myself. I'd only been female for a few minutes and I was already planning my first shopping trip. So I slipped on tee shirt, jeans which only just fitted over my bulging hips, socks and trainers and I looked no different from thousands of other girls you see around.
I had nothing I could use as a handbag, which seemed a problem until I realised I'd need to wear a jacket and I could use those pockets. I had a lightweight fleece which would nicely compliment my attire.
Just before leaving, I disconnected the lead light and closed the door behind the wardrobe. I wasn't expecting any visitors but there was no point in taking chances. It would be just my luck to have a burglary on the very day when I'd discovered a one hundred year old secret.
Not forgetting my keys, I let myself out of the flat.
"I didn't realise Mark Walker was into young girls." The voice of Len Rogers, my landlord, took me by surprise as I climbed up the steps in the basement well, which led up to the pavement. He was standing outside the main entrance to the flats, at street level and peering down at me as I climbed up.
"Wot?" I said. My girly cockney voice seemed to come quite naturally. "He's my uncle," I added.
"Yeah. Right," he replied. "And I'm Ghenkis-fucking-Khan. Walker told me shortly after he moved in that he doesn't have any brothers or sisters."
"Strickly speakin'," I said, "he's my cousin once removed. But I've always called him Uncle Mark."
He snorted as I approached street level and added, "How much do you charge for a blow job?"
A King's shilling, Mister.
"Fuck off," I said to him and rapidly walked away.
I couldn't help smiling at the way I was entering into the spirit of being this cockney teenager, although I needed to keep careful check on what she actually said.
I turned out of the side street in which I lived and walked along the main road towards the shopping area. But it only took a guy to pass in the opposite direction for me to understand why Rogers had jumped to the conclusion he had. The guy's eyes locked onto my braless tits, jiggling along and his face lit up. After he'd passed, I zipped up my fleece.
The next guy to pass me looked at my face, this time, and then his face broke into a smile. "Hi," he said as we passed. "Have a nice day."
I still had that stupid smile on my face, I realised. I'd have to positively grimace, I reckoned, to remove it. Still, it made a change from the normal miserable look I had on my face. Things hadn't been too good recently. I'd lost my job then, when money started to get very tight and I couldn't pay my way, my partner of eight years had told me to move out of the house we'd been sharing. With my meagre savings, I'd been able to get the crummy bedsit in a crummy London suburb and pay the rent as I sought work but I was coming to the conclusion I would have to lower my sights and get some menial job, rather than the banking clerk I had been.
Which of course meant that ideas of going on a spending spree this morning were nothing more than idle dreams. I couldn't really afford to buy a bra, never mind a set of clothes to go with it.
I was passing the first shops in the High Street and I stopped to stare at myself in the darkened window of a wine bar. I still had the stupid grin on my face, my hair had a pudding bowl cut - probably quite literally, I guessed, my small boobs were indistinguishable beneath my fleece but my hips and bum bulged out. No one would imagine who was really inside the outer skin.
A sign inside the window, a wine bar, caught my eye. Waiting Staff required.
Well, why not, I thought. I went in.
As I left the wine bar that evening, I still had a massive grin on my face; only this wasn't only due to my natural look, I had a pocket full of money. Not just the living wage for the last eight hours, but it seemed that a great smile with braless breasts really brought in the tips. Matt Taylor, the boss had been delighted at how I'd charmed the customers and I'd agreed to go in all next week.
And I still had time to get down to the late night opening shops and buy a few things for me and my friends.
What was amazing, I thought, was the energy I'd had all day, and still had. At my kind of age, I was tending to lethargy, especially after being so long out of work. Today I'd been running around like the teenager I was pretending to be. And it felt great.
But what was really making my heart flutter was the flyer I'd picked up in the wine bar. Tomorrow was Edwardian day in Hyde Park.
I decided to go as Charlotte rather than Abigail. Not only had I really enjoyed and been invigorated by being a young woman the previous day but, for some reason, I loved Charlotte as a name.
As soon as I got home, I carefully removed her clothing and then went through the same process as before to remove the rubber skin from the tailor's dummy.
Then I used the egg whisk thing to unzip my own breasts. (I must mind that Freudian slip. They were, of course, Doris's breasts.) Then I could remove myself from Doris's skin. I took a shower, taking Doris in as well, so we could shower together - no, I wasn't doing anything kinky, I simply wanted to properly wash her. Afterwards, I managed to hang her upside down from the shower rose, with the head also held up so she could dry out. I realised I was going to have to be meticulous over personal hygiene.
Then I was sliding into Charlotte's body, zipping myself up and then standing back and examining myself in the mirror.
What a cracker! A beautiful face, a waist clearly trained by corsets since early teens; long, slender legs rising to shapely hips; full, firm breasts which I found, by a process of trial and error of the various-sized bras I had bought, to be 38C.
Having established the size, I turned my back on the garments I had bought with today's income. For tomorrow, I was going out in my full Edwardian garb. I spent some time trying on her clothes. In spite of her years of corset training and slender waist, I still found it difficult pulling the corset strings tight enough for me to fit into that elegant dress. But when I had done, I looked a cracker.
Finally, I was removing all my clothes, slipping into a beautiful nightdress I had bought specifically for Charlotte, and getting into bed.
"Hello love," Len Rogers said as I climbed the stairs from the basement. "You certainly look an improvement on the little scrubber he had here yesterday."
Dare a cat look at a queen? I paused for several seconds and then turned to stare at him. "Are you addressing me?" It was the first time I had spoken and was an incredible disappointment. It was not the first time I had seen beautiful women, only to be completely turned off by their voice. Now, I was listening to myself. I'd expected my voice to be Sloane Ranger, but it was also hard-edged, as though I could as easily give an order to castrate an unsatisfactory lover as to throw my dressmaker onto the streets for a missed stitch.
"Yeah. Is that a problem?" Len's voice came back with a show of bravado, but I could hear the tremor in it.
What a disgusting little man. "You have a loan from Barklands Bank, don't you?"
"How do you know?"
"I make it my business to know everything." (Obviously, I, Mark Walker, knew since I knew Len was in debt and I often saw the letters arriving from Barklands Bank, but I haven't a clue where the next words came from.) "I shall be lunching with Sir John McFadyn tomorrow." Who? I thought.
"Who?" Len said.
What an unbelievably stupid man. I sniffed. "He's the Chairman of Barklands Bank and I know he's concerned about the image given by the press of some of his customers. I suggest you start looking for the source of another loan." How did I know all that? It was true, for I confirmed it on Wikipedia when I returned home, but I'd never have been able to quote it, normally.
"Oh, come on," Len whined. "I only said you looked quite good."
I didn't bother to reply. I simply turned my back on him and walked away.
"That's an absolutely stunning costume you're wearing."
I had carefully avoided meeting the glances of anyone on the trains I had used to travel to Hyde Park, and had pointedly ignored any comments which might have been addressed my way. Ladies of my status do not converse with the lower classes. Normally, we wouldn't converse with anyone of upper class without an introduction, but the voice sounded refined so I ventured a critical glance. He appeared cultured so I said, "Thank you."
"It's original, isn't it?"
Does he really imagine I would venture out in an imitation Edwardian costume? "Of course." I spoke as though it would be the height of bad taste to dress in anything other than an original costume at what many saw as simply a fancy dress event.
"Madam. I implore you to remove it immediately."
Patently, one cannot always judge people correctly. "I beg your pardon!"
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," he blustered. "But that garment must be treasured and cared for; not worn to parade through the park."
"But it was created for precisely that reason," I said.
He smiled and said, "I cannot deny your logic, madam. But that was over a century ago. I implore you to treat your costume as an antique treasure."
"Treasure?" That was twice he had mentioned that word.
"Of course. Let me introduce myself. I am John Harper, a buyer for Sotheby's. Return with me to their offices and I will offer you a change of clothes so I may more carefully inspect your dress. Do you have any undergarments of the period?"
"Naturally," I snapped. Did he really expect me to parade through the park without even a pair of drawers beneath this beautiful dress? On the other hand, it did sound as though a serious amount of money was involved. Occasionally, very, very occasionally, it is necessary to forgo one's dignity in order to booster the family fortune. We hailed a hackney carriage.
The value Harper put on the whole outfit was a staggering amount of money. He almost wet himself when he heard I had another outfit like it at home. I told him the clothes belonged to Mark Walker, who had found them in an old storage cupboard. He didn't seem particularly worried they might be stolen. Such clothes as mine were almost unique; any thefts would be well known.
I returned home wearing the loaned track suit, my own clothes having being locked into Sotheby's secure storage. Fortunately, Len was not lurking around when I arrived on the doorstep. I went down to my flat and removed every stitch of clothing from Abigail's body. Then, I ordered another taxi to take me and the clothes back to Sotheby's. Both costumes would go to auction in two weeks' time. In one day, I had made the equivalent of almost a year's salary.
The following day, Monday, I dressed as Doris again, in preparation for my waiting job at the wine bar. I went to the shops in the morning and bought some clothes more suitable for work, although in view of the money I'd made in tips on Saturday, I left off a bra again. It worked a treat, and for the rest of the week, I continued to bring in the money. I suppose in view of my expected windfall from the sale of the dresses, I could have stayed at home but I not only needed to maintain a little ready cash, I also tremendously enjoyed the work.
I mean, it was only a menial job – waiting on people earning positively indecent salaries, and who were sometimes quite rude, especially when the food wasn't that good, which was quite often. But I managed to meet their complaints with sympathy and charm. Matt Taylor was highly appreciative, so much so that he tried it on with me. I managed to push him off, telling him I had someone I was quite close to (if only he knew the truth), and he accepted that and left me alone after that.
Unlike the chef, Ronny Jones, who apart from being lousy at his job, kept groping me. I told him, with no lack of clarity, to fuck off so many times, he just regarded it as a joke. It got to what one might call a climax (although neither of us did) as we were clearing up after Friday lunch.
"Come on, you little raver," he said, caressing my bum as I bent down to load the dishwasher. "You've been flashing your tits at me all week. Let's cement our relationship."
"Fuck off, Ronny," I said, quickly moving away from his grasping hand.
"Fucking is just what I intend to do," he said, continuing to move onto me.
The problem was, I was backed into a corner and as he came onto me, I did what he least expected and stepped forward. He certainly wasn't expecting me to drive my knee into his balls. He gave a tremendous yell and collapsed on top of me, squirming in agony.
Matt came in to see what was happening. It didn't take much imagination as I was trapped against the wall, with Ronny doubled up in agony. "That's all I need from you, Jones. People have been complaining about your cooking for ages and now this. Get out of here and don't come back."
Within minutes, he'd departed and Mark was staring around the kitchen with a scowl on his face. I knew he'd been trying to recruit another chef for ages, without success and he was wondering how he was going to cope.
"I think I'm going to stop the food orders for the time being," he said. "I'm sorry, but that means…"
"I know someone who might be able to help," I said. "I'll need to talk her into it, though. I'll send her round this afternoon, if that's all right."
"Why didn't you mention her before?" he asked.
"I wasn't certain she'd want to do it," I said.
I went home and stared at Betty, wondering, just wondering if it might work out. In Doris, the maid's rubber skin, I had been a brilliant waitress; in Charlotte's, I had been a real upper-class bitch. If I became Betty, the cook, could I become a chef?
No way, I thought, but I stared at Betty and the confidence swept through me. Of course I can.
In honesty, I had thought about it several times during the week, and I'd sneaked a look at the Ronny's recipe book; well. OK, I'd taken a copy of it and I reckoned that any reasonable cook should be able to cope. That was the problem, of course. As Mark, I was useless at cooking. Would my hidden skills come through, once I donned Betty's rubber skin?
I knew I had to give it a go.
Like Doris, Betty didn't wear many clothes: a shift, a corset, her black dress and apron, with a crinoline beneath. They were easily removed to reveal a Rubenesque figure beneath: corpulent hips and plump buttocks, with breasts of a size I thought didn't exist before enhancements.
It was strange. When I'd first examined Doris and Charlotte, I'd simply been looking at rubber suits. Doris's scrawny teenage body had not been particularly attractive when she was alive, and I certainly didn't feel anything for her effigy. Charlotte had a superb figure, but it was still only a rubber suit I was examining, and later wearing.
But when I stared at Betty, lewd thoughts immediately went through my mind. I'd have willingly have had sex with her and, she seemed to be saying with her orgasmic smile, she'd be happy to receive me.
I shook my head. I didn't have time for such thoughts. I had to get inside her skin in the way that nature never intended. But, I'd had lots of practice. I lifted her onto the table, got the egg-whisk thing and opened her up. I had rather imagined that with her being so much more rounded, the tailor's dummy beneath would be so much larger, but it was just the same size as the others and the difference was in the thickness of the rubber skin.
That made the rubber skin quite heavy, I realised as I sat on the table and lifted it up. I would be gaining several pounds weight and, as I moved around in it, probably sweating like a pig.
That stopped me for a minute. We all sweat all the time, so how come when I'd been wearing the rubber suits of Doris and Charlotte, I hadn't had a buildup of sweat inside the suit? Had the artist invented some kind of Gortex, decades before the material we know had been invented?
I gave another shrug. I still didn't have time for those thoughts. I started to slide my legs inside her torso.
"Doris tells me you're in need of a chef," I said to Matt Taylor. "I'm Liz." Betty is so passé. For that matter, so was Doris, but I hadn't been able to quickly think up a modern day equivalent when I had first presented myself to Matt Taylor.
"Hi Liz." Matt's eyes lit up as he saw me, and as he ran them down my body.
Strangely, a little thrill went through me, for I knew he was not simply assessing me as a potential cook, but I was still a man beneath everything, for heavens' sake.
"Doris tells me you can fill in for my last chef. What experience do you have?"
"Plenty," I said. I could see him working out the implications and it gave me pleasure to tease him. How weird is that? "I worked as cook for eight years in the household of a very rich man, but I'm afraid I'm not allowed to tell you his name."
"Do you have references?"
It was a routine question and he looked startled when I shook my head. "Sorry," I said. "A sudden fatality meant I no longer had a job. Look, Doris tells me you don't have anyone else for tonight. Let me work and if I'm rubbish, you can throw me out at any time. If not, you can pay me the going rate at the end of the evening. How does that sound?"
So it was agreed, and I went into the kitchen and had a quick look around. "It's filthy dirty in here," I said to him, as he followed me in. "I'm going to need help to clean it. Can you get someone in?"
"Do you have a number for Doris?" he asked. "She never gave me her mobile number."
"Sorry, Matt," I said. "There's someone that Doris and I have to take care of. I'm afraid, if you have me, you don't get Doris. You'll need to find someone else." I knew there several other girls who he could, and often did, call on at short notice.
"I'll get someone," he said.
I know I've always been rubbish at cooking, but most of it was just confidence. With Doris having 'borrowed' Ronny's recipes, it was simply a matter of running through them and then putting them into practice. Except that I made certain the basic food ingredients were good – I had to throw away much of the meat and get rapid replacements delivered – and that I exactly followed all the recipes. All the food turned out brilliantly and far from sacking me, part way through the evening, Matt made me a job offer.
It wasn’t the only offer he made that evening but I turned that one down. All the same, whereas all previous offers to have sex were either unwelcome or plain disgusting, I found it rather nice that Matt obviously thought me attractive
Betty and I rapidly got used to each other. For one thing, I guess we were about the same age – early forties, but it was something more than that. We were both skilled at our own jobs, and if she'd been born in my age, she'd probably have been a software specialist instead of a cook. But I found I picked up her skills very quickly, seemingly instinctively knowing what to do when something started going wrong with a recipe. I guess I must always have had those skills, since clearly, a rubber suit can't teach you much, but I guess it must all be about how my behaviour changed when wearing the skin.
Once or twice, I did think I might try on the Abigail skin, but without the clothes, which were shortly due to be auctioned at Sotheby's, she had lost her grand dame appearance and simply looked like a sixty year old woman who'd not had the privilege of twentieth century beauty treatments. Besides, I thought it was probably a case of like mother, like daughter. Charlotte had surely developed her appalling character from her mother's example, and I really didn't want to inhabit the skin of a person who so much despised ordinary people.
I often wondered how strange it was that I so readily took on the characters of the rubber skin I was wearing. I'd been quite good at acting at school but had been turned off by the appalling career prospects, never mind the tremendous egos of everyone else who wanted to act. So, I'd given it up when I left school and hadn't continued it since.
Betty and I bonded together well as a team. Matt and I started to develop a relationship – not actual sex, you understand, although I did let him do a little fondling – yes, including that special place, with which he seemed perfectly satisfied from the outside, and that's as far as I let him go.
It was one of those regular columns in the local paper – one hundred years ago that day – which caught my eye. When I say "my eye," I really mean Betty's eye, of course, as I rarely switched back to being simply Mark, not even inside my flat.
"It is with great sadness we announce the loss of yet another brave soldier on the Somme. Major William Baxter of Baxter House was killed when his company headquarters received a direct hit from an enemy shell. Major Baxter's death represents the end of his branch of the family, his son, Henry, having being killed at Ypres in 1914. His wife, Abigail, and daughter, Charlotte, were murdered by one of their servants in 1906, along with Cook, Betty Miller, and Junior Housemaid, Doris Smith. Major Baxter's brother, Mr Harrold Baxter died shortly after that tragedy."
A chill ran down my spine. What were the chances of correctly forecasting the names of four women living at this house in 1906? Almost zero. On the other hand, a multiple murder like that might well have come to my attention previously and been retained somewhere in my brain, only to reappear as though an apparently virgin thought, when I came across a replica of the four people concerned.
I went onto the web and typed in their four names, trying to find a site which I might have come across at some time, but without success, which seemed strange. On the other hand, many local newspapers had not digitised all their ancient back numbers. It was time, I thought, to go down to the newspaper officers.
I put on my best "Betty" smile as I made the request at the local newspaper's reception desk. It was met with little interest, and after a few minutes' wait, I was led to a dingy basement room, shown the basic organisation, and left to my own devices.
Obviously, it wasn't the death of Major Baxter I was interested in, but the murder of his wife, daughter and two servants. I decided to start at the end of 1906 on the basis that the story would probably have run for many months during the year and I'd pick it up more quickly. It was in a November issue: "Unexpected death of Mr Harold Baxter - same day as murderer of sister-in-law and niece goes to gallows."
The story was quite convoluted and I had to search many other back numbers before I had the overall picture, but to summarise, a servant, John Warren, had been found guilty of the murder of the four women whose models appeared in my basement. The four women had disappeared at intervals over the course of the year, the two servants being the first to disappear, without much notice being taken, apart from the inconvenience of having to recruit another cook. But when Charlotte, the daughter of the household disappeared, there was uproar. At that time, it was thought she must have eloped, which was bad enough, but as several weeks went by and she didn't reappear, people started to suspect the worst. Then Mrs Abigail Baxter disappeared and a full scale investigation was launched.
Warren was a footman, one of the servants a 'typical' house would have in those days, aged twenty-eight and regarded by the other staff as a lecher. In Victorian times, it was considered essential that servants remained chaste; male servants were kept apart from females, with little free time to unleash their 'unnatural' feelings. Warren was obviously climbing up the wall with sexual frustration and he'd almost let his tongue hang out when he first saw Doris, who subsequently disappeared; then he started chatting up Betty, who also disappeared. When the police looked for suspects, he was the obvious choice. There seemed little real evidence against him, but it wasn't needed in those days and he was found guilty of the murder of all four and hanged.
Now, here's the weird bit. On the day that Warren was hanged, the brother-in-law, Harold, died from opiate poisoning. I found out the report of the inquest, and it was the pathologist's statement which had me reeling. Apparently, Harold had been known for some time to take opium in his tea. The police had found a considerable supply in his room of an unusual concoction, previously unknown to the pathologist. A little experimentation with animals showed the dosage was critical; a relatively small overdose being fatal. What was remarkable was that the experiments showed all the animals went into what the pathologist called an ecstatic trance before death. Harold Baxter's own face had been similarly notable for the huge smile on his face at death. The connection was obvious; he too had been in an ecstatic trance caused by the opiate. The coroner declared a verdict of misadventure.
My mind churned over with that statement. Clearly, all four women had died from an overdose of that same opiate whilst in their ecstatic trance. Maybe the four women had all been users, but much more likely was that Harold had discovered the original date rape drug. He had introduced it to their tea without their knowledge, knowing it would drive them into a sexual frenzy, and then taken advantage of their condition. And whilst the death of the first, Doris, might have been accidental, he'd have known exactly the risks he was taking with the lives of the other three. Ergo, he had raped and murdered all four women. His death on the day that Warren was hanged for murdering them was more likely to have been suicide rather than simply coincidence. If one was going to commit murder, I thought, dying in the middle of an orgasm was the way to go.
What was macabre was that at some time, Harold had sealed off in the basement. He had clearly taken a death cast of their bodies, and then poured liquid rubber into the moulds to create the models and kept them in the room. Whatever had happened to their bodies, which had never been found? Had he buried them beneath the floor in there? Quite possibly. With that rather depressing thought, I photographed all the relevant cuttings and went home.
The first thing I did when I got home was to check out the room. There was absolutely no indication that bodies had been buried there. The floor was made of quarry tiles, which were completely flat and professionally laid. If Harold had buried the bodies there, surely he'd hardly have employed someone to tile over the hole. Even if he had, the tiler would probably have come forward during the murder investigation. And bodies decay with time and the ground above subsides. At the very least, I'd expect cracks to appear in the tiles over the graves.
There was a garden at the rear of the house but that had been searched during the initial investigation. Maybe he'd dissolved the bodies in acid baths, as the acid bath murderer had done much later. Whatever, I was convinced that the sanctuary I had established with my four different personalities was unblemished.
It was in the early hours of the morning when I returned home from the restaurant, as usual. Unusually, I was still wide awake. I decided to have a glass of wine and go over the newspaper cuttings I had photographed, starting with trying to find out more about Harold.
I found out his obituary. He was born in 1864, so he'd have been forty-two when he died. A deeply respected gentleman, Eton and Oxford educated, who for several years had been a curator in the British Museum's Egyptology Department. For most of his life, he'd lived on the family's country estate in Berkshire, being an enthusiastic member of the hunting and shooting set. Unfortunately, a number of bad investments by his father had meant not only his father's suicide, but also the selling off of the estate and him moving to London to live with his brother.
Lack of money also meant he'd had to take up - shock, horror- that four letter word, work. Fortunately, his skills in taxidermy made him eminently suited to become the Museum's leading expert on Egyptian embalming and mummification.
I read the sentence again; and again. He knew how to skin and stuff creatures so they still looked alive; he knew how the Egyptians preserved dead bodies.
For the last month, I had not been wearing rubber replicas of the dead women's bodies; I had been wearing their bodies.
"Doesn't it feel great?" The voice said inside me.
"Yes," I told myself, "it feels great."
"In that case," the voice continued, "there'll be no more dallying with Doris, or my mistresses. We are as one now."
"Yes," I said.
"And for heavens' sake," Betty said, "let's go and shag Matt Taylor. I'm ready for another of those ecstatic trance, things. They really are to die for, you know."
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