She was as beautiful as a beauty queen. Ebony-black hair, full red lips, big high cheekbones, brows perfectly trimmed and nose finely-crafted—she bore a bust that drew many a man’s attention and commanded presence with but her body alone. She was, as anyone could have described her, awe-inspiringly beautiful, and for that she took herself to the stage—where, in New York, she would become the greatest icon in history.
Six feet tall, with substantial but slight measurements that framed her body in the utmost of glorious light—she’d walked into a modeling agency one day and was hired on the spot after she’d drawn the looks of everyone within the building, and on the day of her first photo shoot she wore nothing but a long, vulnerable sheet, all to cover her sex and the things that made her beautiful.
“Tilt your head up,” the cameraman said, “just a little higher.”
This beautiful woman who was as beautiful as a beauty queen pushed her jaw up into the air and faked a plaintive sigh as from the side the cameraman began to fire at her. One shot here, one shot there, another to the left and another to her right—she saw for but a few moments the bright bulbs and their amorous light before she felt upon her skin a breeze. This, she knew, was the trigger, the sex-bomb that all women in glorious makeup had, and it was when she opened her eyes and stared directly into the camera that her life changed forever.
Little more than a week after her photo shoot, she graced almost every magazine in the continental United States.
You’re beautiful, some would say to her in passing, as while she walked down the street she drew attention in her four to six-inch heels. I’ve never seen anybody like you.
That, this beautiful woman knew, was because there had never been anyone like her. The last great American icon had died in 1962, a cocktail of barbiturates and the gloom of the world around her. It was her blonde hair and her one birthmark that had inspired the world—that, ultimately, shaped the beauty of the modern age—but this beautiful woman was not like the other beautiful women. No. She was tall, she was waifish, she had long dark hair and a pair of eyes so strikingly-grey you could on some occasions see a storm in them—beauty could not be defined by shade, by color or by mark, so it was for that reason when she passed the newspaper stands that she drew all eyes.
Eventually, things became rough. A modeling agency by the name of something wonderful sent with her on daily excursions bodyguards tall and broad-shouldered. Her freedom, she first proclaimed, had been jeopardized, but it when the first of the money-hungry men came forward with his dingy little cameras and his selfish little hand she realized she could no longer be alone.
In one month’s time, the whole world had seen her face.
On the greatest throne she could have ever been seated upon, the reporter asked just who she was. We know your name, this man said, and we know you’re beautiful, but who exactly are you?
This beautiful woman could not speak. She knew nothing of who she was past the things she held inside. The little girl, the Barbie in her hand; the adolescent twelve-year-old, mistaken and mad; the teenager who grew up with legs too long and a body too lean that they often called her a beanpole; then as an adult, when, for foolish purposes, she had turned out beautiful—she could say honestly say without regret that she was just a simple girl from California, but that’s not what they wanted. What they really, truly wanted was to feed on her—wild dogs drawn to her corpse when her flesh was filleted like some poor dead fish.
After the interview concluded, the beautiful woman with the long dark hair took what she most loved during these times—a hot shower—then made her way into the bedroom: naked, save for the towel wrapped around her shoulders. It was there, in her hotel room, that she wandered to the window; and it was there, in naked glory, that she looked out and saw the awe-inspiring city before her.
It’s, she thought, almost unable to believe her thoughts, beautiful.
Beauty could not describe a thing so historic and revered, as along the streets she saw the cars and upon the buildings the glass. This place was new—utopia, it could be said, for the modern celebrity. It bore no scars, had drank no blood, nor had it ever within its surfaces captured the life and reason within it.
Outside, one of her bodyguards knocked on the door and called in, “The dinner plate is here!”
She dressed herself in a modest gown and opened the door. Through the threshold the skinny little barhop came, and pursued shortly by her bodyguards he entered the room. He lifted the wine bottle, poured a glass, lifted from the platter the lid, under which her favorite, a freshly-cooked lobster, was revealed. He offered two things of butter and then turned and departed, all without acknowledging her by presence or name.
“Roman,” she said to the sole remaining bodyguard within the room. “Why won’t anyone speak to me?”
“Because you are beautiful,” her guard named Roman said. “Because they do not believe you are not a real person.”
Her flaws could not be defined by time, could not be shaped by biology or even by the natural evolution of the world, for she was something that they were not—cold, nearly-lifeless and often told without a personality.
When the beautiful woman with long dark hair considered the meal before her, she rose and made her way to the mirror.
Before the looking glass that reflected Hell and back she opened her nightgown, revealing herself to the world.
She bore no gender other than the impressions of breasts upon her body, where there were no nipples upon her frame and where life would have caused them harm, and there was no sex between her legs that defined her as what it was she was supposed to be. In cream coloring and carefully-carved features, she had been born of beauty—shaped, she and her kind understood, out of one single event that had changed the world forever.
“Madam?” the guard named Roman asked.
“Yes?” the beautiful woman replied.
“You should eat. Your food’s getting cold.”
It was with that notion that she sat down, took the fork in her hand, then carved from the exoskeleton the stringy meat beneath.
When she put the first bite into her mouth, the beautiful woman couldn’t help but sigh.
She was a mannequin.
How was she supposed to live?
She raised her shoulders and walked down the catwalk as in the audience hundreds of lights blinked forth. Some constantly shining, others flashing, a choice few impressing upon her a reel of snapshots that would capture her every movement—as she walked, and as she shifted her hips and rolled her shoulders, the beautiful woman who earned no name acknowledged the people and just what they were doing.
They are taking pictures, the mannequin thought, of me.
Then again, who could blame them? Those men in the crowd, those eyes on the streets, those carefully-guarded glances from men and women and even children who stood along the sides of the road to watch just what it was she was supposed to be—she was beauty incarnate because she had been molded by the hands of grace. First were her eyes, now a nice blue and startlingly wide, then was her nose—perfect, in nature, and finely-tipped. Even her lips, a normally-unattractive trait, caught the light from the many bulbs and phones and shutters and reflected it back to the world before her. They were looking upon her, this perfect thing, and it as with that knowledge that she realized she could not disappoint.
If only the clothes on her body wouldn’t have been so cumbersome.
The dress she wore fit tight to her frame and allowed little to be discerned by the imagination. Though sexless, her groin appeared shapely, feminine and not in the least bit obtrusive, and her breasts were fine and small, nicely-shaped and devoid of nipples but hidden behind a fine transparent bra. Around her, as they walked to and from the catwalk, she noticed the women and how, unlike her, they appeared boyish—much like a young man transitioning from his child to adulthood. Why they had not replaced these false sympathies with more of her kind the beautiful woman could not know, but in looking at them, she decided not to care.
At the end of the catwalk, she pressed a hand to her hip and jutted her head to the side, the many threads and rhinestones upon her body glimmering in the eternal night.
It’s her! she’d heard one cry. The mannequin!
Quit being disrespectful! another person said. Her name is G92X.
Though the mannequin could have cared less about what she was being called, she considered her name ugly, similar to a computer program whom in its scripting had been made to do the most meaningless of acts. Given her supposed lack of emotion, however, and the fact that she was not able to communicate with her facial muscles beyond standard autonomous eye and speech movements, she decided to ignore this fact, then turned to walk up the catwalk.
Two boyish women flanked her sides.
The beautiful woman merely ignored them.
When she reached the end of the catwalk and turned to make her way toward the dressing rooms, she was met with immediate applause and words of congratulations. You were the first, they said. The first beauty, the first act, the first mannequin.
What they had forgot to mention, in all of this, was the fact that she was a woman—not a mannequin, as many had coined due to her lineage, but as a perfect construct of the world’s greatest artists. Her first inclination was to ignore them, as in her head she could not help but pity them, but when they came forward to touch and smooth down her dress, she merely shook her head and started back toward her dressing room.
“G92X,” one of her stylists said. “Where are you going?”
“Back to the motel,” she replied. “I’m done.”
“You’re done? What the hell are you talking about? You blew that stage to pieces. You can’t leave now!”
“Watch me,” she said.
She entered the dressing room for but a brief moment to pull off her dress and then redress herself in civilian clothing. Once completed, she opened the door, pushed through the crowd, then exited the building.
Outside—not only alone, but in the rain—she stepped forward and considered the idea of taking a cab, though realized soon after that she had no money.
Because you don’t need it, those people had said. Because you have no actual, physical, human needs.
The truth in that sentiment was strong and not in the least bit inappropriate. She required no food, though she could taste it when welcome to eat it, and never would her body wane in strength for the fact that she was made up of several interlocking parts, each of which had been surgically implanted to resemble the mainframe of the human body. She need not even blink if she didn’t want to, nor would she ever have to open her mouth. She was, as anyone could have described her, completely autonomous, and run by nothing more than the Rising which had occurred five years ago.
While trying to decide what to do while she stood at the side of the road, she stared into the street and attempted to discern just how far her walk would be.
Five miles, she thought. Maybe ten?
Of course, if she waited, they would always take her back to the hotel. But since she refused, she looked up and down the street both times before starting forward.
The rain thickened.
The beautiful woman pushed into the long, dark street opposite the convention center.
Through the darkened depths of the alleyway, in which she walked toward her ultimate goal, she could hear nothing—not even the rain.
A flash of movement came from her right.
The beautiful woman turned.
A man held a knife in his hand and brandished it toward her. “Hey there little lady,” he said. “What’ve you got in those pockets for me?”
The beautiful woman merely blinked.
What? she thought.
“I don’t… understand,” she replied.
That, in hindsight, was a lie. She knew of men like these—knew that, when pushed to the most dangerous of circumstances, they would attack unarmed women and even children—but she’d never known herself to be a target. The fact that she resembled something of a woman was most likely the reason she had become a target.
“Ok bitch,” the man said. “You’re done for.”
The man lunged.
The beautiful woman stood her ground.
The knife sunk into her chest—gouging, instantly, a hole into her body.
The man looked from his weapon, to her, then back again. “I-I-I,” he said, freeing himself of his weapon and beginning to step back. “I didn’t know you were—“
The beautiful woman backhanded him.
Made of hard plastic, her blow was enough to send the man sprawling into the wet alleyway, blood streaming from a nose obviously broken and a lip split.
Looking up, she let out a sigh of trapped air and then continued forward.
It wouldn’t be much longer before she would arrive at her hotel.
She was escorted to her room by an unwarranted security guard who stepped forward in the moments following her entrance and began to lead her through the hotel. Her casual clothes soaked, the wig on her head in disarray, she was led to the elevator, then into it, where shortly after they began to ascend to the penthouse.
“You’re… one of them,” the security guard said, “aren’t you?”
The beautiful woman looked down. Though she’d long discarded the weapon, the bloodless hole in her torso was obvious, especially considering her blouse had been severely torn.
The bell signifying that they’d finally reached the last floor echoed out at them.
“Thank you,” the beautiful woman said.
“No prob—” the man began to reply, then the elevator closed, silencing him.
After taking a moment to consider what the man might have wanted to say, the beautiful woman made her way to the door.
A simple knock was all that was required to make an entrance.
Her bodyguard opened the door.
Before she could even begin to enter the room, he stretched his hand forward and examined the gouge in her chest.
“Madam,” he said. “What hap—“
She ignored him and pushed forward.
There would be no reason for this—not now, not so late at night.
“Why do you think they do it?” the beautiful woman asked.
“Do what?” Roman replied.
The man frowned and crossed his arms over his chest. “The weak always like to prey on the innocent,” he said.
“Because they want to show their victim that they’re dangerous.”
Atop her place on the bed that had been reserved for her, the beautiful woman gingerly examined her wound with the tip of her finger. Necessity had crafted her kind without nerve endings. So far as she understood, such a wound would have caused a normal man or woman great harm, if not death.
At least, she thought, it was not your head.
Even if her head had been damaged, there was a very-reasonable chance that she would not have ‘died,’ if they could even consider it such a thing. No. To kill a mannequin, you had to tie it to the ground and then burn it, head and all. Her plastic kind were easily susceptible to such things. Her fiberglass brethren would have lasted a bit longer, but they would eventually shatter and be freed of this world.
While thinking on this reality, and in knowing that she could have just as easily died the night before, the beautiful woman couldn’t help but feel, in her non-existent heart, that she had to do something more.
If anyone were to have looked upon her, they could have easily seen that she was beauty—an icon in fashion whom, with her presence alone, had changed everything.
“Roman,” she said.
“I want you to call the biggest news station in town and arrange an interview with me. Tell them who I am and what happened to me.”
“Why do you—“
“Because I have a bigger purpose in this world,” she said. “Because I have an obligation to stop things like this from happening.”
She was stripped of her identity and reappropriated into the person the public wanted to see. Shoulder-length blonde hair, a set of blue glass eyes, a lipstick so fine and soft it made her lips appear only the slightest hint of red above a nude lining—she sat in the dressing room and allowed the men and women around her to turn her into something marvelous in which the mannequin people could find all of their answers. Though she herself did not like the way she looked, as she resembled far too many other blonde-haired and blue-eyed mannequins, she took it upon herself to ignore that status so she would have a level head when it came time for the interview.
“All right,” a man with his watch said as he came in. “You have five minutes. Anything else you would like to add?”
“No,” the beautiful woman said. “I don’t.”
Standing, much to the unease of her now less-dense side, she straightened her body out and used the makeup desk as a perch.
Five more minutes, she thought, to change their minds.
“To change their worlds.”
Most of the makeup crew shied away from her words. A few happened to look, but soon after they turned their heads, faking cleanup in a place that was already far too spotless for its own good.
“Two-and-a-half minutes,” the man with the watch said.
She stepped forward to signify that she was ready and followed him into the hall—where, in the deep, vast distance, she could see the double doors that opened into the newsroom.
When the light above the doorway turned green, the man with the watch let her inside.
“Ah,” the anchorman said, stepping forward and around the large oval desk at which he and his currently-missing cohost sat. “You must be the one we’re interviewing.”
“Yes,” the beautiful woman said. “I am.”
“There’s one thing I should probably mention,” the anchorman said, sliding an arm around her shoulders and bowing his head. “We need a name.”
“You’re not going to look very sympathetic if we call you G92X. It makes you sound like a product.”
“Which I’m not,” she agreed.
“Good. So… a name. Have anything off the top of your head?”
“Too common,” the anchorman said.
“You asked for a name.”
“And I said—“
“Thirty seconds until we’re back on the air!” a teleprompter called out.
“Come, Jessica,” the anchorman said. “Follow me.”
She took his hand and allowed him to lead her, with haste, up to the oval table. Once they sat down, final, last-minute adjustments were made to the lighting—which, when directly-centered on her skin, made her appear to be a freshly-coated piece of caramel.
The teleprompter before the anchorman started. “And we’re back,” he said, waiting a moment to flash a smile and to allow his eyes to grace the camera before him. “As has been mentioned before, we want to concentrate our next segment on a group of people who are currently suffering more in our country than any other minority in existence. Is this person gay? No. Transgender? No. Mexican, Chilean, Asian, Pacific Islander, African, Asian? No. Not at all. This person comes from no known place in the entire world. Rather, my guest today is a young woman who was born out of an event called the Uprising—when, all over the world, her people opened their eyes and woke up for the first time.”
A plaintive moment of silence followed the anchorman’s presentation—likely, Jessica imagined, to build tension. Even without plausible skin she could still sense it in the air—that tight, miserable anticipation leading up to some big event that was about to change the world forever—and for that she couldn’t help but feel as though she were bearing the world upon her shoulders, a strong man whose name she could not remember.
“We all know the history,” the anchorman continued, stirring Jessica from her subconscious thoughts and into the active world. “It’s undeniable, almost impossible to even believe, but five years ago we experienced an event that has come to be known as the ‘Uprising’—when, for no reason or explanation, every single mannequin with a head gained sentience and began to interact with the world around us. In those five years we’ve experienced much debate over what we should do regarding these things that now bore human intelligence. Should we consider them illegal aliens? A threat to the population? A weapon? It’s even been said that this may have been an orchestrated attempt by the government to create soldiers that could not easily die. Regardless of that though, we have come to learn one thing—that these creatures are as intelligent as you and I, and for that their civil rights become human rights.
“My guest tonight is a young mannequin by the name of Jessica. You may know who she is, and you may even recognize her by her appearance, but what’s happened in her past is not the forefront of the issue. Rather, it is what she experienced no more than twenty-four hours ago that has made her rise to the position she is currently in.
“Jessica—would you tell me, and America, what happened to you?”
“I,” she started, then stopped, her glass eyes shifting about the room to take in everything from the lighting above to the interconnected fabric of wires running along the raftrers. “I…”
“Take your time. I know this is hard for you.”
She saw in one of the cameras her position and gave a short, stout nod. Though she could not cry, she felt her voice would tremble. Once that happened, she would be seen as weak—a target, some could say, for the extremist anti-mannequin groups.
“Last night,” she said, simulating what would have been a deep breath by allowing her chest to rise, then to fall, “I was walking back to my hotel in the rain when I encountered a man wielding a knife.”
“Why did he target you?”
“I assume it is because he thought I was a woman.”
“And what did he do upon realizing you are not, in fact, human?”
The anchorman remained quiet. Instead of leading in to another question, he cleared his throat and fingered through what she could easily see was a touch-pad interface before the pictures of her disfigurement was revealed.
“What I’m about to show you,” the anchorman said, “may be graphic to some viewers.”
The beautiful woman waited.
The pictures of her wound appeared on the wound behind her.
It appeared nothing of the flesh and blood, of the life that was so determined within the world by millions upon millions of years of evolution. It, instead, looked like a gash—an incision, she could easily see, was about five inches long—whose countenance was made not of the evisceration of muscles, but of the torn and jagged rips of plastic.
Did he really… damage me so badly? she thought.
“Though Jessica may be a mannequin,” the man interviewing her continued, “such wounds can aggravate if not completely disable a creature such as her. Tell me—how have these wounds affected you?”
How have they affected me? she thought. They haven’t—
Make something up, the anchorman thought, his eyes lewd and harsh under the room’s oppressing lightning. Don’t make me look like a fool.
Like a fool, she thought? Who was he to act the fool when she was right before him, almost as if she were a creature of flesh and blood?
Rather than lie outright, the beautiful woman sighed, cleared her throat, then said, “I am having trouble with my mobility.”
“How do you mean?”
“The chest,” she said, reaching down to trace her fingers across what only the audience could see as a picture. “It’s like I’m being filled with air.”
“Have you been repaired?”
“No,” the man said. “Repaired.”
This time, the beautiful woman couldn’t help but frown.
“How about we move on,” the man said, sliding through a few pages of text on his touchscreen before returning his attention to her. “What made you want to come on this program, Jessica?”
“I wanted people to be aware that I am just like they are—that I have feelings and emotions and thoughts just as you do.”
“Is it true that you received these feelings and emotions by leeching off others?”
“It’s been said,” the anchorman began, “and by science, I should add, that mannequins are not born with what you describe as a conscience. They have to learn what is right or wrong by absorbing it from the consciences of others.”
“We are not real people,” she replied. “We—“
“What are you then if you are not a person?”
“I don’t think that’s—“
“We’ll have more with Jessica after we hear a word from our sponsors,” the man said.
In but a blink of an eye, the beautiful woman flung herself from her place behind the desk and began to stalk her way toward the door.
“You can’t leave!” the anchorman called back. “We’re not done yet!”
“I am not being a part of your political campaign,” she said. “Goodbye.”
She turned and walked out the doors.
She felt the cameras all the way behind her.
“G92X—aka Jessica—spotted storming out of a news facility after controversial questions arise,” Roman said, tossing the paper onto the bed.
“It is… already live?” she asked.
“Live?” Roman laughed. “It’s all over the news. All over the world. You can’t type the letter G into a search engine without your name coming up.”
“That is… troubling,” she mumbled.
The sight of herself post-interview and in disarray was quite the shocking scene. The wig halfway off her head, her makeup smeared down her face as she walked into the rain, her shoes waterlogged and making her constantly trip—had she been human, she would have been seen as some huge starlet done over on cocaine or drunk from a club. Since she wasn’t, her actions could only speak words—and in this case, they’d spoken far too many.
“What are we supposed to do?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Roman replied. “We can’t be sure of anything until we hear from your manager.”
A knock came at the door.
“Speak of the devil,” the big, burly bodyguard said.
Immediately upon opening the door, a tall, suave man with slicked-back white hair and a gaunt face stormed into the room and threw his hands in the air. “WHAT,” he screamed, “WERE YOU FUCKING THINKING?”
“I was doing what I thought was right,” she said. “Are you not—“
“I’m not anything with you, Miss G92X. Or should I call you Jessica? Huh? Maybe that’ll heighten the sensationalism of you storming out of a news office without any regard for your current commitments.”
“He baited me.”
“Of course he did, G9. He’s a bigot—a man who would rather roll around in the dirt with mud and get half a story when there is so much more at work.”
“What do I do?”
“Thank God this man is a notorious bigot and has constantly been baiting the mannequins for any kind of poison to be thrown at them.”
“So… things are fine?”
“I think you’re safe—for now, anyway. That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to hide forever.”
The beautiful woman bowed her head and laced her fingers together. She imagined, in that moment, that this would be a time where she would be able to hear her heart beating, had she such a biological structure. Instead, she heard nothing—not the sound of the bodyguards shifting near the door, not the sound of her agent’s frantic tirade, and not the sound of the streets below. There was nothing—absolutely nothing. She couldn’t help but feel ashamed.
“I am sorry,” she said, turning her head up to look at her agent. “Please… keep me.”
“I don’t think you understand the severity of your action, G9. You’ve fed fuel to the fire. Now they’re going to be coming after you more than ever.”
“They have come for me before?” she frowned. “Why was I not told?”
“Because you were in the infant stages of your development and needed time to grow your sentience,” the man with the slicked-back hair said. He gestured to a space beside her and she offered a nod, only briefly looking up to spot the name Alan Mars on a nametag. “You don’t have to worry about anything, G9—you’re going to be just fine.”
“I don’t want to be this.”
“You are a fashion model. That is where your strengths lie.”
“You are the perfect rack to wear fashion. Your measurements can’t change, you can’t grow any taller, and, most importantly, you will never get fat.”
“I would not fear that if I were a real woman,” she said.
“You’d be one of the few.” Alan shook his head and reached up to run a hand across his hair. “There’s another banquet going on tomorrow. If you are willing, I would like to invite you to come be a part of the show—after your wound is repaired, of course.”
She reached down and fingered the plastic where the knife had entered. She quietly debated whether or not she could or even should go.
“Will I be safe?” she asked.
“You’ll be fine,” Alan replied. “Now—if you would do me the honors: we’re going to go get your chest fixed up.”
When Alan offered a hand, the beautiful woman took it and allowed him to lead her and her two bodyguards out of the room.
Once in the elevator, things seemed to come into focus.
She had a job—a purpose. If she did not appreciate that, then she could very well end up being a display in a discount store—forever.
The following day was met with apprehension, a limousine, an amount of paparazzi eager and willing to tear at her like rabid dogs. First came the flashes as she was helped out of the vehicle, then came the questions that were called or yelled at her.
Jessica! one would call. What do you have to say about your interview the previous day?
Are you still injured? another asked. Can you even walk?
It would have appeared that she couldn’t, as with each step she took she had to hold on to her agent’s arm. Her wound had been healed yesterday afternoon when, after arriving at a plastics shop, a skilled craftsman had created a new piece to put on her chest. It wouldn’t, he said, be the perfect color come time for the show, but that didn’t matter. Little did he know that makeup could fix any mistake.
Backstage, while arranging herself into a dress in front of a multitude of female and male models, the beautiful woman tried not to concentrate on what may happen come the next few days. Tabloid sensationalism was a quick and sure-fire way to get attention, or at least enough people talking to where it could become a full-blown discussion, but she didn’t even want to think about that. Being seen in a private moment had been punishment enough, but to think that they would start stalking her relentlessly? How was she supposed to feel safe?
The woman in front of her applied a generous dosage of base powder to G92X’s cheeks, brow and chin before she began to spread it out across her face. Here she used her fancy brush to blend all the pieces together, like a puzzle completed from a miraculous man’s hand, then the color came in full motion. She was not, like she had been the day before, the traditional runway beauty. Instead, she would be wearing all black—including, on her last walk, a wedding dress that would fit even the most deviant of men’s desires.
After the black lipstick, the smoky eye shadow and a near-bladelike contour of her cheeks and nose, the makeup artist gave her a thumbs up, one G92X quickly returned.
Well, she considered, falling into place at the end of the line. I can only see how it goes.
The music began.
The screams erupted.
The room began to pulse.
“Good luck out there,” one of the makeup artists said, taking a moment to grace her shoulder with his hand before walking off.
All the beautiful woman could do was nod.
It began as a procession toward what she knew and understand was one of the greatest creations in all the world. McQueen, Jacobs, Barcelona, Rodriguez, Cuho, London—they marched forward first in a single line, then eventually divided into two separate groups to display the varying types and contrasts in design. The lights were blinding, nearly-painful to look at, and though she bore no human body she could still feel everything that afflicted her. The noise, vibrating through her head; the tension, coursing throughout her joints; the unease, lighting a place within her stomach where she had learned once upon a time by glamouring a teenage boy—these emotions assaulted her as if they were swords and daggers, a knife in a petty man’s hand or even a bomb in which the lowest of them all would pull the snare and allow himself to self-destruct. Though she was no human, and though she only knew human emotion based on lie and deceit and theft, she understood that this was what it was to be in Hollywood—strong, tall and not in the least bit flawed.
As the line continued to decrease, and as the models who’d gone before her returned to their place behind stage, the beautiful woman prepared to walk the stage as the only mannequin within the modeling industry.
“You’re up,” a guard said.
The beautiful woman took a step forward. She lifted her dress, lowered her eyes, then raised her head to look out into the bright and beautiful Heaven before her.
She floated across the stage as if she were a boat within the water, a strong beacon of hope to those who swam along the beach and who realized that just beyond the nets there were predators waiting to eat them. To walk this stage—to cross this catwalk—was to step onto a road were many traveled but few ever reached their goal. Her makeup fine, her attention set, her hands cast down and to her sides as she delivered the gothic attire to the masses before her—she lifted her hands to reveal the fine lace about the hem of her skirt, then released hold of the dress before continuing down the catwalk. The screams were massive—gargantuan, even, and comparable to a great monster at sea—and as the lights before her continued to flash, almost blinding her from the scope of it all, she couldn’t help but wonder just what lay out in the crowd—in that great, grand ocean of humankind and emotion.
When she reached the end of the catwalk, she paused, set a hand on her hip, then raised her eyes.
The photographers erupted in applause.
The beautiful woman did her best to smile, though such features were often hard and overly-harsh on her plastic face.
After allowing the men and women to take just what they wanted from her, the beautiful woman began to turn in preparation for walking back down the catwalk.
A flicker of movement appeared at the side of her vision.
That same thing flickered in the crowd.
She had very little time to react before an explosion rocketed the crowd.
People screamed, ducked, cried out in horror.
The beautiful woman had but a moment to realize just what had happened before it struck her.
A gun? she thought.
The bullet exploded upon impact and sent shards of metal into her head. Shot in the nose, at the very center of it all, the plastic in her cheeks and along her lower jaw disintegrated almost instantaneously and down she fell onto the catwalk—twitching, pulsing, as in her head what was commonly known as her most human feature began to react to the effect of it all. Models who had come forward to grace her presence ran from the scene of the crime and then escaped back into the stage.
Somewhere in the crowd, someone laughed.
Is this, she thought.
She lost sight of color in the next moment.
G92X tried to lift her head.
When she found she couldn’t, and when a new feeling so powerful and unimaginable struck her body, she could only lay there and bathe within the emotion of it all.
It took her one fractured moment to realize what she was feeling.
Those were her last thoughts before whatever event had created her renounced its hold on her person.
In the crowd, a man laughed.
A woman screamed.
Sirens could be heard.
It was too late.
The beautiful woman was already dead.