Continues from part one
The Skeltons flew into the venue for the Transformations Ball at about half past three on the Friday afternoon, anticipating a fun and sexy weekend of rubbing shoulders, and probably more, with celebrities and other like-minded and wealthy people. It was a chance to let their hair down and go wild without having to worry about what the media thought, because the media would not know. Both Anna and Karl were hoping to meet some of the people they had had fun with last year and the year before.
Their first year they had come to the ball as skeletons, wearing black spandex body suits with bones painted on front and back. To their surprise they had passed the costume inspection and had spent a thoroughly enjoyable weekend watching the shows and getting to know people they would not otherwise have encountered; in a couple of cases getting to know them more intimately than anyone other than their spouses. In the course of that weekend they had donated over $50,000 to the Transformations Trust, which helps out other charities, by passing on donations to 'transform' people's lives. Even when you added in the cost of the private retreat that was the Transformations Ball, both Skeltons, brother and sister, felt it was money well spent, for a weekend away from all the cares and trials of their everyday life running their business empire.
Last year, their second, they had attended in the same outfits, which, of course, didn't pass muster. They were promptly 'fined' a $20,000 donation each to the Transformations Trust and led away to be supplied with better attire. They were surprised that after they had been processed they were still dressed as skeletons, but instead of a spandex suit they were clothed in a coat of paint. That weekend had been even better than their first, because other participants could get a better look at their good figures, unencumbered by clothes, and they had been intimate with several people they had only heard of before and hooked up with a couple from the year before. It also turned out that they met Mr Yung, who they met again later in the year to conclude a mutually beneficial business deal.
This year they had decided that they would come in the same costumes again, partly to give them an excuse to make some large donations, but mainly in the hope that the replacement costumes that were a tradition of the Transformations Ball, would be the wonderful experience the previous year's had.
Anna and Karl scurried from the helicopter to the limousine that would take them to the hotel where the Transformations Ball was being held this year. No-one, but them, knew what they were dressed in under the full-length black cloaks; they wore their skeleton suits. The short drive through the woods was as smooth and uneventful as expected and the hotel looked the part; grand and impressive, but not too showy.
A footman held the limo door for them, before guiding them up the imposing steps to the opulent front door, where another footman showed them to the signing in desk. At the desk another uniformed attendant efficiently supplied them with cards that would unlock the doors to their rooms and act as charge cards for their stay.
They turned to look for a bell boy to show them where their rooms were, but were greeted a young woman dressed as a sexy genie; Her pretty features accentuated in middle eastern fashion, under blonde hair tied in a ponytail high on the back of her head and topping a beautiful body clad in nothing but a see-through blue bikini and a blue gem in her navel, but the sight that caused both Skeltons to stand dumbstruck was the trail of bluish smoke lead from her hips to a middle-eastern-style lamp dangling from her left hand instead of legs. The apparition curtseyed, more of a bob in place, and then said, "Welcome to the Transformations Ball. Allow me to conduct you to 'Costume Inspection!'"
As they followed the genie, she said, "My name is Jenny, if you need something and can't find it, let me know and I'll try and organise it for you." They soon came to a door labelled 'Costume Inspection.' Jenny opened the door and ushered them in.
At the other end of the room was a table at which sat three people; an older lady, a younger man and between them an older man who was already scrutinising the laptop in front of him. "Anna and Karl Skelton? This your third attendance at the Transformations Ball?" The siblings nodded affirmatively in answer to the two questions. "Welcome back. If we may see your costumes for this weekend?" Knowing the form, the Skeltons, in a coordinated fashion that owed more to them being brother and sister than any rehearsal, untied and dropped their cloaks and showed the panel their skeleton suits.
The young man was the first to comment. "There is a certain stylish simplicity to the outfits and they fit well."
The lady added, "They are beautifully crafted; no saggy bits or rippling at the seams (so often a problem with spandex) and the bone design is excellent."
The older man drew the attention of his companions to something on his laptop and they nodded gravely. "Are these the same suits you wore to the last two Transformations Balls?" Again the Skelton Twins nodded. "In that case, you have failed the originality criteria for your costuming. You will be fined and taken to the Transformations Room, where you will be provided with more fitting attire." He rang a bell and another footman entered to take them to the Transformations Room.
Anna and Karl were glad that the costume inspection had been short and that their suits had failed to pass muster, because they both remembered the trouble they had getting out of them and back in. The bodypaint had made getting close to people so much easier; they were hoping for something like that this year. And the fact they were already donating to the charity took some of the pressure off when it came to finding ways to donate as much as they wanted to and still have fun.
The Transformation Room was three doors down the corridor. The footman knocked, opened the door, ushered them through and closed the door behind them, all without entering the room himself. The siblings looked round; a young woman attended a table full of wigs, an older woman fussed with a huge rack of costumes hanging in white polythene sheaths and in the middle of the floor sat a young man in a faded green t-shirt and equally faded jeans straddling the reversed chair with arms and chin resting on the top of the back. They all had the same red-brown hair, which was not as red as the hair the Skelton twins had inherited from their father.
The women looked up and the older one greeted them. Once greeted the young man asked "Name?" while he eyed the new arrivals. He openly leered at Anna's spandex covered bosom.
"I'm Karl and this is my sister Anna." The man was not satisfied with the answer and was about to speak again. Karl feeling that he did not want to be on the receiving end of the man's rudeness, added, "Skelton."
The man shifted in the chair and picked up a ring-binder and casually flipped through the plastic pages inside. At one page he stopped flipping and said, "You two have a thing for skeletons."
Not sure whether this was an observation or an accusation, the Skeltons stood there and wondered how much ruder this scruffy young man could be.
After eyeing the twins, particularly Anna, for a further minute, the rude young man said, "Come back in twenty minutes and we'll sort you out for the weekend!" and then slouched into the connecting room which was full of odd shaped boxes and cabinets, some of which rang faint bells, but not loud enough to prompt recognition.
With the man rummaging among the equipment in the other room, the older woman came forward, arm extended offering a handshake. "I'm sorry about my son. He gets like that if he doesn't know what his next piece of magic will be. I'll go and see what idea he's had so that me and Hannah can prepare costume, makeup and hair. I suggest you go to the bar and have a snack and be back in twenty minutes so we can prepare you for your transformation." She went to the door and asked the footman, who had waited there, to escort the couple to the bar and bring them back in twenty minutes.
In the bar they ordered drinks and a sandwich and sat in a booth.
"What do you make of the Transformations Room?" Karl asked.
Anna considered. "It's not like last year, is it? It was great having so many people about and having to strip in front of them to get painted, but we are a bit earlier. I'm worried that this year won't be as much fun."
"If the rude guy is any indication, it might even be worth giving a miss."
"Hi, Anna and Karl Skelton, isn't it?" Jenny, the Genie, had appeared at the end of the booth. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help overhearing. You've met Mike?"
"Was that his name? He never introduced himself, or either of the ladies. We only know that the younger one is Hannah, because the older one, Mike's mother, let it slip while apologising for her son. He was downright surly," said Karl, in a tone that said ‘if he were my employee, he would have had his cards long ago.’
"I shall have to have a word; see if Mary, that's Mike's mum, can get him to be more courteous. But I think you'll find it worth it to go back and be transformed, like I did."
"So this is the result of a 'transformation?'" asked Anna, indicating Jenny's lack of legs.
Jenny drifted in a tight circle to show off the entirety of the remainder of her body. "It felt very odd while it was being done, but now it feels almost as natural as walking about on legs. And he was most polite while he did it. I get the impression that he is addicted to the magic and if he hasn't done any in ten minutes he gets a kind of withdrawal."
"So, what does he do?"
"He does the magical finishing touches to the costumes, hair and makeup that Mary and Hannah provide. I do hope your transformation is as impressive as mine." Jenny checked a small gold watch on her wrist. "I'll go and see if their ready for you, while you finish your snacks and drinks." Jenny floated away.
After a pause until Jenny had left the room, Karl asked Anna, "What do you make of that?"
"Well, she certainly seems happy with her transformation, although I suspect I'd worry about where my legs had gone. And if what she said was right, they are definitely good at what they do. And it's without a doubt the best costume I've ever seen, bar none. I say we give it a go and put in a complaint to Jenny if we aren't satisfied with the results." Her brother agreed.
Jenny drifted back into the bar and beckoned to the twins, who got up and followed her back to the Transformations Room. At the door, Jenny said, "Mike should be ok now, but I have passed on your feedback. I hope you are as satisfied with the results of your transformations as I am with mine." Jenny knocked and opened the door for the Skeltons to enter and closed it behind them.
The room was much as it had been when the left, except that in place of the chair in the main area of the floor had been replaced by a low metal table, with folded down metal sides and some chains.
Mary welcomed them back and apologised again for her son's dire manners. "Now for your costume and hair and make-up. Are you attached to those outfits?"
"Erm, why?" asked Anna.
"Well, I'm sorry to say both transformations will destroy whatever you're wearing, so it's a case of lose what you're wearing or do it naked. But, unless those costumes come off over your heads, there's really no need to until it's time for the magical finishing touches, which in your cases are most of the costumes."
Anna and Karl looked at each other for a few seconds, before reaching behind their backs to unseal and strip off their costumes. Neither Hannah nor Mary seemed particularly surprised by this development and frankly spent a few moments admiring the couple's bodies.
"It almost seems a pity doesn't it mum," commented Hannah; Mary nodded. Then it was back to business. "Who would like make-up first, while I do the other's hair?"
Anna went for make-up first, so sat in a chair while Mary applied face-paint, while Hannah worked on Karl's hair. Soon it was obvious that the face-painting was a skull.
"So, I shall be attending the Ball as skeleton for the third year running," speculate Anna.
"Yes," confirmed Mary, "but it'll be completely different, from the last two times; you'll see."
Meanwhile Hannah was fussing with Karl's hair and surprisingly making it look worse than it had started, which was just plain scruffy. The result of Hannah's applications of lotions, sprays and green highlights was to make Karl's hair look lank, very unhealthy and, in places, as if it was falling out.
"So, what am I going to be attending as? And why are you making my hair look so frightful?" enquired Karl.
"You'll going as a skeleton too," said Hannah, "but a different kind of skeleton from your sister."
"I don't know what you mean by 'different kind of skeleton'; a skeleton's a skeleton, isn't it?"
Hannah seemed about to say something, but Mary intervened with, "You'll see when you reach the magical part of your transformations." Hannah looked slightly miffed, as if she had been caught about to do something wrong.
The twins swapped seats so that Mary was now painting a bony grin on Karl's face, while Hannah did her kind of magic on Anna's hair. Soon her hair was gelled to a few wavy points and a generous quantity of orange and yellow highlights added; the resulting effect was as if she had a flame on top of her head.
During this stage of preparation, Mike came in from the other room. He was dressed as before, but gave the air of having purpose; he even just smiled as he glanced at Anna's nakedness, rather than the tongue-lolling leer that might have been expected, from the Skeltons’ earlier impression of him. He wheeled in what looked like a trolley; on the lower shelf were a set of long spikes and of the top was large clear round plastic tray about four feet across and six inches deep. Before he returned to the other room, he handed Mary a jar of something and told her it needed to be applied to Anna.
Once Karl's face was painted as a skull, Mary moved on to applying the ointment from the jar to Anna's skin, having put on latex gloves. "What is that stuff?" asked Karl, who was wondering if applying an unknown chemical to his twin sister's body was a good idea, especially if the applier was using protection.
"I don't know," admitted Mary and took a brief look at the handwritten label on the jar, "It says 'accelerant'. I’m not sure what that is, but I trust my son not to permanently harm anyone, or put them at risk of lasting harm."
Soon the application of the gel was complete, after short and slightly embarrassed moment when Mary asked Anna if she would like to rub the ointment into her more intimate parts. Then Mike returned, but a different Mike from that they had seen earlier; he seemed to have gained twenty years in physical appearance and about six hundred in charisma and maturity; this Mike strode in in a beautifully tailored suit and projected an air of confidence and competence.
"Good, you're both ready." He smiled. "Usually I would do ladies first, but in this instance, because Mr Skelton's magical transformation will take a bit longer, I hope you won't mind."
Anna shrugged; she was used to a certain amount of deference, but more because of her position as a leading business woman, rather than her gender, but woe betide anybody who treated her as lesser because she was a woman. "Go ahead, besides I get to see what you can do before you try anything on me."
"And I get to see your beautiful form a short while longer," Mike returned and obviously meant it as a compliment, whereas before it might easily have been taken for a sleazy remark.
"Sir, have you seen a device like this before?" asked Mike, indicating the trolley he had brought in earlier.
"It looks a bit familiar, but I can't quite put my finger on it," admitted Karl.
Mike went behind the trolley and put the plastic tray aside and then pushed on a lever causing the points of the spikes on the lower shelf to rise through holes in the upper shelf. "Does that help?"
"Yes. It's that trick where someone lies on the top and the spikes seem to pass through them." The use of the word 'trick' earned Karl a sharp glance from Mike, but this was compensated by a smile that the illusion had been recognised.
"So you know you are the 'someone' that 'lies on top', as you put it?"
"I guess so, but I don't see what this has to do with a replacement costume," admitted Karl.
"All will be revealed in due course, I assure you," said Mike, patting the top of the trolley once the spikes had been lowered to the lower shelf.
For a moment, Karl was transported to the last time he had seen this illusion; at a friend's 12th birthday party; he had been volunteered to be the victim and backed out; his place had been taken by another friend, who later told him he had not felt a thing, but was still a minor hero for a few weeks. He had learnt that day that opportunity does not often knock twice. "Isn't this a trick for little kids?"
"You are here to play for the weekend, why not start now?"
Anna piped up, "He got that right! And you know what we decided before we came back."
Karl recalled agreeing with Anna that they would complain if they felt unsatisfied with their 'transformations'. "Ok, what do I have to do?"
"Just lie down; head this end and feet over there." Karl lay down as requested and was soon adjusted for position and then cover with a clear plastic cover that constrained him from neck to mid-thigh. "Great, now for the essential costuming touch." Mike took out a trigger spray bottle and a handkerchief. He placed the handkerchief over his nose and mouth and sprayed the spikes liberally with the bottles contents, until the spikes were wet.
"What is that stuff?" Karl asked. Mike showed him the label on which was written 'F. 752'.
Before Karl had his wits together enough to ask what 'F. 752' was, Mike had manned the spike raising lever and Karl was feeling the tips of the spikes against his back. All thought of what was on the spikes vanished to make way for the worry about this trick going wrong. Soon the pressure of the spikes against Karl's back had increased to the point that if he had not been held down by the cover, he would have been lifted by them. Mike continued straining against the lever, until suddenly it seemed to give way and the spikes penetrated Karl's torso.
Karl felt the multiple points of pressure instantly transform into a set of dull aches that started where the pressure points had been straight through him. He squinted down and glimpsed spikes emerging from his upper chest and had to assume that the view from elsewhere included spikes through him down to his upper thighs.
Mike tapped the tips of the spikes, probably more out of habit than any attempt to convince an already convinced audience that the tips and the bases of the spikes, which could still be seen below the shelf on which Karl lay, were still connected. He quickly resprayed the tips of the spikes from the bottle and then released the spikes to fall back to the lower shelf. Karl suddenly realized that he had been holding his breath for the twenty or so seconds that the spikes had been through him and took a deep breath.
Mike released him and rehung the cover on the back of the illusion, while Karl took the chance to check himself for any damage in the mirror that stood nearby; he found none, not even the expected pressure marks on his back.
"Mr Skelton, would you - please - stand in here while I perform Ms Skelton's transformation, and yours gets underway," requested Mike, placing the plastic tray on the floor next to where Karl was standing. He had no idea why standing in the tray was necessary, but took Mike's word that it was a good idea.
"And now, Ms Skelton, for your transformation," Mike said as he pushed the spiker trolley towards the other room, where it stopped neatly beside the open door. Mary and Hannah brought the low metal table back to the centre of the room and assisted Anna to lie down on it, between two rows of metal loops set into the surface of the table.
Mike took the chain and hooked it to the lowest metal loop. "Do you recognise that illusion, Ms Skelton?"
"Sorry, no. And please call me Anna." Mike briefly glanced at Karl, who seemed equally clueless of what the fate the magician had planned his sister.
"OK. Anna, I will need chain you down, for your own safety." He laid the chain across her ankles and threaded it through the next loop. Soon the chain was criss-crossing her legs and body, holding her down to the table and her arms by her sides. Once Anna had been immobilised, Mike began raising the sides of the table to make a box which surrounded her up to her shoulders. He then made a fourth side to the box by placing a wall across the open end with a tightly padded hole for her neck.
As if on cue, Mary and Hannah went and opened the windows as Mike produced and lit a blowtorch. He made some remark about being glad he had insisted the fire alarms be disabled in this room and the next, before he began directing the blue quietly hissing flame into the box and playing it over Anna's body. Almost immediately the blue flame of the blowtorch was out shone by smoky yellow flames coming from the box.
"Hey, Mike, what's happening?" Anna asked. "It feels like the table is getting rather hot. And can I smell something burning?"
"Don't worry. Your transformation will be complete in about a minute." He busied himself by setting up a fan to blow the smoke towards the window.
The flames from the box subsided and Mike put on a pair of heavy gloves and leaned over the box. The sound of the chain being pulled back through the loops was heard and it was removed from the box. Then the stock was removed and the sides of the box were lowered.
Lying on the table was a skeleton with Anna's face painted head instead of a bony skull. She sat up on the still warm metal of the table and discovered what had happened to her. She was about to ask what had happened to her and what kind of joke this was, when she heard a sound like someone about to vomit.
Everyone turned their attention to Karl whose skin had changed from a moderately healthy pink to a wide variety of shades of green, brown and yellow. As they watched, a gobbet of flesh fell from his thigh, this was soon followed by many others and not long after most of his skin and muscle was a fetid mess in the tray in which he stood. After about a minute the muscles holding his intestines in gave way and his bowels flopped into the tray dragging the rest of his organs with them, including pulling his stomach, heart and lungs from inside his exposed rib cage.
Mary brought a towel and motioned that he should step out of the tray of disintegrating flesh.
"You made us both into skeletons!" both Skeltons exclaimed.
"Yes," said Mike as if this was not only the plain truth, but a normal occurrence.
"But how?" they asked in unison.
"In your case, Anna, it was simply a matter of burning the flesh from your bones. In Mr Skelton's case, it was a bit more complicated. I injected him with 'F. 752' using the good old spiker."
"And what is 'F. 752'?" Karl asked.
"You may have heard of 'Necrotising Fasciitis', the British media occasionally refer to it as 'The Flesh-eating Bug'; well, 'F. 752' is a more cooperative strain of that family of organism." Not wanting to allow this revelation to sink in, he continued with, "So, now you are costumed as 'Death' and 'Pestilence'," indicating Anna and Karl in turn.
Anna smiled. "We've been called that before, but as soon as we discovered what was going on in that business, we divested ourselves of them double-quick. But what are we going to do about eating and drinking? It - kind of - reminds of the joke about a skeleton that walks into a bar and asks for a pint of beer and a mop."
Mike smiled. "You should have no problem of that sort, just don't overdo it, not that you seem to be into excessive indulgence. By the way, I would suggest you take showers once you get to your rooms, unless you want to go through the weekend covered in soot or rotting flesh."
Karl frowned. "What about sex? You must know it is a big part of what goes on here."
Mike leaned forward in a confidential manner and took hold of Karl's upper arm, which, after a little jiggle, came away in his hand, while not appearing to affect the position and connection of the lower arm. He positioned the detached bone at the base of Karl's pelvis, so that the shoulder end stuck out forwards. "It's not called 'boning' for nothing," he commented, then replaced the humerus. "I feel sure that now you have the idea, you'll get quite creative with it. Have a good weekend." Mike turned and left, dragging the still cooling table behind him to the other room.
Mary came forward, consulting a sheaf of papers. "I trust you'll have a good weekend; I expect it will be truly unique if nothing else. And we'll see you on Monday morning to restore you to former selves. There should be someone outside the door to show you to your rooms. Goodbye for now."
Karl did have cause to complain to Jenny, but not about Mike or his transformation. And the twins had a wonderful weekend, once they had got the hang of manipulating their skeletal forms they got very creative, and those they got creative with enjoyed it too.
Continues in part three