Leave No Stone Unturned
Oh, this is NOT happening to me, this is NOT happening to me! The thought repeated through Dawn’s mind as she pumped her desperate long legs as quickly as she could. Dressed in a short blue skirt suit, a cute white blouse, and a pair of smart nude pantyhose, the young girl charged ahead, huffing and puffing, her cheeks warm and red from the unexpected workout. In her hand she held her pair of heels that cutely matched her outfit. Running in them proved to be nothing short of impossible. After alternating a hop between feet, she slipped them off and carried them in hand as she scampered away in her stocking feet. At 16 years old, dressed to look older and more professionally than she really was, Dawn Meadows was quite the comic sight. After all, most girls opted for a bit less than hose and heels when running a marathon.
When running from the kind of people Dawn was running from though, a girl hikes her skirt up, hops out of her heels, and prays for the support the nylons always promise on the package. Truth be told, she sort of should have seen this coming. The casual observer might not have known that a little procrastination and being a little green when it came to undercover work was exactly how Miss Meadows found her long slender legs running for their very life.
A week prior, Dawn had been in her journalism class, a sophomore at the Ivy Ridge Prep Academy, daydreaming out the window, when her professor, Mr. Anderson, called upon her to give an early synopsis on her semester story. Caught off guard, and embarrassed, Dawn’s humiliation intensified when she had to confess that she had not made any progress yet on the assignment. Her professor reprimanded her in front of the whole class (including rival, Hannah Hoxley), and suggested that she ‘consider getting started’ as there was only a week left for the project, and considering she had not even started, she would be lucky to turn anything in at all. This scolding resulted in a smattering of snickers from her classmates, and the usual ‘on top of things’ Dawn Meadows found herself fretting over the matter.
Her procrastination was her first mistake. The second began in her project choice. With only a week to go, and little room for being picky, Dawn waded through leads and research to find a particularly juicy lead. The early information indicated that it would make an excellent piece, but it also required undercover work. Being only 16 years old and having very little experience in that field, and making matters worse, having less than a week to get her story, Dawn found herself forced into making increasingly bad choices.
The lead was a doctor Vincent Cooper, a man who had recently returned from an expedition in Greece. Apparently he had been researching the mythology surrounding Medusa, and the sects that worshipped the historical monster. The foggy parts of the expedition were that Cooper unearthed more than he had dreamed of, worked his way into the super secretive sects, and had returned from his expedition with something very hush hush.
That’s where information trail dried up. Vincent Cooper was known for his own secretive work in the city Museum, and the only way to pick up the scoop was to get close to where Cooper worked in the museum. This proved not as difficult as it could have. Not when you’re a beautiful blonde girl with long legs, and fluttering emerald eyes. Dawn landed an office temp position in the Museum that would give her access to what Vincent Cooper had returned from his little jaunt in Greece with. While the access was not direct, as that would have been too much to hope for, it was close enough for Dawn to exercise some of her sleuthing skills.
What Dawn learned the hard way, is that being 16 years old and sleuthing in a Museum that’s 10 times as old as you, with a very tight deadline, and the very real threat of danger, and you make foolish mistakes. In her case, Dawn found that there was a very small window of opportunity that arose at 4:00pm every afternoon when the small team in Cooper’s office would break to take their final coffee of the day. They always locked the door behind them, seeming to indict further that there was something to hide behind the closed door. Luckily for Dawn, she had acquired a set of lock picks long ago from a chest in the attic of her home, and as a young girl, practiced picking the various locks around the mansion. While she was hardly a pro, and often left evidence of her presence, she felt a twinge of pride in her amateur skills.
From her vantage point down the hall, she spied the team taking their final coffee break right on schedule, and after they rounded the corner, she tip toed down the hall toward the door they had just vacated. Planning ahead, and anticipating that she might leave evidence of her lock picking as had happened in the past, Dawn used a spare pair of nylons to cover the doorknob to ensure that none of pesky fingerprints would get left behind in case there was an investigation. No fingers would be able to point to her. She worked her magic with pursed lips, and wrinkled brow, concentrating until she heard the delightful sound of the click. Turning the knob covered in the wrinkly pair of nude nylons, she let the door swing open quietly on well-oiled hinges.
Once inside, Dawn realized she had not planned any further. She did not know the layout of the room, nor what she was even looking for. At first survey, the room appeared like any of the other ancient Museum labs. Tapping her heel impatiently as she willed her little blonde head to make a decision, she dashed over to the filing cabinets. Paper trails are what brought down most corruption, or so she thought.
Using her well manicured nails; she flicked through folder after folder searching for the smoking gun that would give her, her precious story. After all, she only had two days left before the assignment was due. It had taken her two days to get the temp job, three more to learn the patterns of the coffee break; Dawn felt the pressures of her frustration mounting. She just needed more time to work this out. These folders don’t have anything! She grumbled in despair. Her entire operation was poorly planned and had a very last minute feel to it. At that moment, Dawn felt a weight in her gut. She had forgotten the pair of pantyhose on the outside doorknob of the lab! How could I be so foolish to forget something like THAT!? Dawn chided herself. I think someone is going to notice a girl’s undergarments hanging from the door pretty easily! And since I’m the only girl that’s working in this wing of the Museum… it’s pretty easy to assume that I’m going to get a visit from a good Samaritan trying to return my lost nylons, only I get the feeling I’m not going to like what they have to say… or do to me! The last thought caused Dawn to tremble slightly, and lose her place in the folder she had been analyzing.
Before she had the opportunity to cross the lab and snatch the errant gossamer evidence of intrusion outside the door, shadows appeared outside the smoky glass. There was muttering, and though unable to distinguish the exact words, Dawn was pretty sure it went something along the lines of: “Huh, you leave your pantyhose on the doorknob? No. You? Nope. Me neither” would offer up the third of the gruff scientists.
“Oh no, no no! NOW you’ve gone and done it Dawn!” she muttered to herself in panic. There was no way to get out the way she came, not with the three returning scientists, and a very incriminating pair of nylons blocking her path! Looking around the lab in unfamiliarity, Dawn prayed there was another way. Luckily there was another door, and just before they three scientists entered, Dawn had sprinted the distance of the lab in her stocking feet, the first of the scientists entering as the final tips of her trailing blonde hair, slipped into the open closet on the far side of the lab.
In all the movies that Dawn watched nervously as a girl, the villains always approached the hiding spot of the snooping heroine, and when her heart seemed like it was going to burst from her chest, the villain would always turn away at the last second, and the heroine’s hiding place was safe. As Dawn sat huddled down on her bottom, as small as she could make herself, she watched, heart hammering, as the shadow of the scientist approached the open closet where she hid. She reminded herself how tense these scenes were, and that the villain always turns away at the last second. She put her hand over her mouth to keep from screaming. Any second now, he would turn away. When the tension would not get any fiercer, Dawn learned one very deadly lesson. When the villain doesn’t turn away, when his footfalls enter the closet where you hide, and he turns down and glares at your visibly trembling form, holding a wrinkly pair of your nylons and asks you quite menacing tones, “Did you forget something, little girl?” When this happens, Dawn learned that the tension could get much fiercer than originally believed. The panic stricken terror is enough to kill a girl on the spot, for the inside of her ribcage was definitely bruised from the banging of her heart.
Dawn, cried in protest and struggled feebly against the much stronger grips of the scientists as she was taken into custody and hauled off to goodness knew what fate. When she was led to a room with a chain that looked like it came with the museum on day one, including the wicked hook on the end, her hopeful thoughts took a turn for the worst. Her tiny wrists were lashed together behind her back with a rough stretch of rope that cut painfully into her tender skin. As if that wasn’t bad enough, one of the bullying scientists, reached into the waist of the back of her skirt. The shock of the assault jump-started Dawn’s fear to action.
“Hey! No! Stop! What are you doing? No! Let Go! Get your hands off me!” Dawn wriggled and fought, fearing the worst. Why was this scientist trying to get his hands down her skirt? The possibilities did not leave a girl feeling anywhere close to safe. Instead of assaulting the helpless teenage sleuth, the man firmly grabbed the waistband of her pantyhose and gave a painful yank, lifting the slim teen right off the ground, and with the stretch of the nylon, attached her up on the end of the hook, dangling in the air. The very uncomfortable drag on her nylons being hiked so unceremoniously far up her backside caused Dawn to groan in agony, and her eyes crossed from the strain. Wearing hosiery was uncomfortable. THIS was ridiculous.
Dawn was left little time to feel sorry for herself before an additional figure joined the party. Vincent Cooper walked in with deliberate intensity, scrutinizing Dawn’s dangling form. “Ah, I see we have a guest!” he joked.
“If this is how you treat guests…” Dawn’s sarcastic comment trailed off as she winced from the pressure of her overly taught nylons, twirling around on the hook.
“Yes, well Miss Meadows, it appears that you’ve taken quite an interest in my work here at the Museum, so I only thought it fair that I reciprocate the favor, and take an interest in you as well. It only seemed polite,”
“Interest in… me?” arched an eyebrow, suddenly feeling more nervous than before.
“Yes of course. You’re quite the talented young lady, for only being 16. I wouldn’t have thought someone your age would be able to ferret out the information you have about my expedition in Greece, but I suppose witnesses leave people to talk and when it’s something as exciting as my work, they can’t help themselves. Unfortunately for you, your sleuthing skills needed a bit more polish,” Cooper emphasized his joke by polishing an ancient looking mirror in the shape of a head, framed by many snakes, with the pesky pantyhose she so foolishly left to get herself caught. Tossing the nylons on the table, he turned the mirror to face Dawn so that she could see fear on her face for herself.
“Now it’s only fair, you being such an intrepid young girl and all, to give you the scoop that you so came hoping to find here.” He continued. “You want to know about my expedition, the secret sects of Medusa cults, and all the gory details. The good news is that it’s all true. From a sensationalistic stand point, your story would have been a hit.”
“And… the bad?” dared Dawn in a whisper.
“Cut her down, boys” replied Cooper, dangerously. One of the nefarious henchman scientists, used a knife and crudely cut through her bonds, then slashed through the waistband of her nylons, instantly dropping the intense pressure in her loins as well as her, landing roughly on her backside with a groan.
All four men stood facing her, as a long shadow approached from an adjacent room. The surrealistic outline of a head of writhing snakes was unmistakable.
"A real live… Medusa?” asked, the fear quite evident in her voice.
“A first hand account for you, Miss Meadows,” answered Cooper in viper tones.
“But… prom is next week!” whimpered Dawn, pathetically remembering.
“Did you already buy your dress, dear?” asked Cooper in mock sympathy.
Dawn shook her head no, a lone tear streaming down her cheek, as she stood up in fear. “I just picked up the nylons that matched the dress I had been planning to get,” she whispered.
“Tsk tsk, Miss Meadows. Always doing things last minute. Well, look on the bright side. Now you’re only out $4” replied Cooper patronizingly.
At that point, the dangerously dancing snakeheads and pale glowing eyes of the Medusa creature locked onto Dawn’s innocent emerald own. In her panic, she pondered maybe she could run and escape, but it was already too late. She felt her shoes turning to stone, the odd sensation creeping up over the tops of her feet, and inching every quickly up her long lean legs. The silkiness of her nude pantyhose faded to an ancient gray, the gossamer threads hardening into stone. The transformation claimed the creases in her short skirt, and solidified her curvy hips, and delicate slender waist. Dawn put her arms up protectively as if they would ward off the horror that had already claimed the lovely legs that garnered her so many looks on the sidewalk. She stared unable to look away at Medusa’s hypnotic eyes, her mouth open in a silent scream. In a matter of seconds, she went from a soft and tender teenage girl, to a cringing horrified statue, trapped in a cowering helpless pose.
Dawn Meadows would be remembered as she was left. A sniveling coward, cringing from her assailant. Prom was next week, but Cooper was right about one thing. She was only out $4.