The Mannequin Challenge
He gave a cocky grin to the cashier as he strolled into the store. From that moment she knew he would be trouble. The lady refused to move from her desk, watching Charlie diligently until he slipped around the corner.
The direction he was headed was clear. It was a direct path towards clothes that were his size, and he was confident with each step.
Once arriving at his destination, Charlie was quick to get to work. In one fluid movement he slipped a pair of pants beneath his thick winter jacket. The boy then looked both ways to check if there were any wandering eyes before ripping a thin leather jacket off the rack to stuff beside the jeans. He was not done yet, continuing his pursuit.
Little did he know that the cashier had not paused in her pursuit of keeping a close eye on him. She bit her lip, watching the camera behind her desk. The boy was quick in taking what he wanted. For a moment, she let him think he had won.
The time ticked to 4' o clock.
As if on command, another lady walked up to the lane expecting a simple switch of shifts. The look on her co-worker's face added a glimmer of hope to her eyes. "Do we have a thief?" she asked.
"Monica," the original cashier greeted with a smile. "It's nice to see you. There's some kid who thinks he can take the whole store with him for free."
Excitement rushed through her as she closed the distance between them, leaning over the desk to take a peek at the camera herself.
At that point, he was taking a t-shirt off of a mannequin. Monica shook her head in disgust. "Let's catch him," she said.
Charlie looked between the jackets. They were all thick and warm like his. As much as he wanted one, his own jacket was already pushing the limit over how much it could hold.
That was when he came up with an idea. He took his favorite hood-less one, heading towards the dressing room. Once inside, he took off his jacket.
His collection of clothes spilled out. In a rush, he placed the new jacket on and stuffed the stolen goods within it. The boy placed his own jacket on top, covering it all once again. Charlie decided he had enough, walking out of the dressing room with the intention of going home.
Instead he was stopped by the cashier he had passed on the way in. His heart dropped as she lightly placed her hand on his shoulder to stop him. "What do you think you're doing?" she asked.
The lady hadn't caught him yet. "What does it look like?" he asked, his voice brimming with sarcasm as he pushed her hand away. "I'm shopping. Don't you have something better to do than to pick on your shoppers?" His eyes scanned her name tag. June.
Suspicion brimmed her eyes. Before he could stop her, she unzipped his jacket to reveal the new one beneath it.
"Good job, June," he said with a sarcastic chuckle. "What a big revelation, I decided to wear two jackets to your store today."
Her grin was as wide as her face, as if she was hiding something. "I don't need to prove to you that you're a shop-lifter. I've already seen you stuffing clothes beneath your jackets on camera. For all I know, you were in the dressing room to put on more jackets," she said.
This one was clever.
A noise behind him of metal clanging against itself was his only warning. He turned to see another lady wielding a thin metal clothing rack. She was clumsy with it, as she had bumped it against another metal rack, but it was already too late for him at that point.
Before he could react, she dropped it against his head. It seemed as if this was accidental, but it was effective as he dropped to the ground, his vision going black.
When he woke up, he could tell that he was in a back room. Mannequins surrounded him, as well as clothes that had yet to be placed on their shelves.
Charlie was groggy with a massive headache. He was in too much pain to search for an escape. Although he felt lighter than before. They must've taken the stolen clothes away from him.
"He's small," June commented to her comrade, alerting him to the fact that they were in the room with him.
"The boy is skinny though. He'll make a good addition to the children's section," the other one responded as they walked around the corner of a large shelf to face him. "Alright kid, everything is set up for you."
"Wha-?" he attempted to ask, gripping his forehead when a massive shot of pain sliced through his head.
Both women walked up to him. They each took one of his arms, dragging him around the corner from which they had come from. On the other side was what looked like a mold about the size of his body. It was shaped like a human.
"I'm going to need you to hold perfectly still," June was instructing him as he struggled.
Together, they shoved him into the mold to hold him down as hot plastic burned into his skin. Their hands held him down without hesitation. He screamed, feeling unbearable pain but no one came to save Charlie. As it dried, it began to hold him in place itself. Only then did their grips loosen.
When the bottom dried, they placed another mold on top of him.
Charlie didn't remember much after that. He had passed out from the pain, and when he woke up he was in a world of darkness.
There was nothing for him to do. He felt them move his cocoon of dry plastic, draping him with clothes and placing him standing up.
A faint sound of children and adults, chattering and walking by could be heard during some parts of the day. During other parts, there was silence.
Hope was lost on ever being saved, for no one had realized he was there.
Eventually, he became comfortable. It was his new life, and all he had to do was relax. It was boring, and doing nothing was driving him insane but what else did he have left to do? Just as he was settling in to his new life, he could feel someone slipping the clothes off of him.
He tried to make a sound to warn them, but he knew that they could not hear him.
All he could hear after that was the metal clang of a clothing rack meeting the skull of another victim who would never escape.
This made him happy as the piercing screams echoed from the back room. He was not alone.
© 2017 Alexis Chantel