“This is all Mr. O'Neil's fault!” thought Dawn, frantically placing blame. “If it weren't for him, this story would be wrapped up by now. Instead I'M the one being wrapped up! For good!” Dawn Meadow's thoughts swam like a school of fish interrupted by a marauding shark; all directions and none of it did any good. She couldn't remember ever being so scared. Her body would have trembled had she not been bound so tightly. Begging and offering anything to her captors had already been tried to no avail. They were all eerily silent, beyond a skin chilling low chant. Their ragged brown robes with deep low cowls further monstrified them in mystery. “That's it, next time I'm leaving the pantyhose on the shower rod!” she declared in her mind. “I just wish there was going to be a next time!” she added with a whimper, biting her bottom lip.


Earlier that day...

“The answer is no, Meadows,”

“But sir!”

“I said NO! What part don't you understand? I suggest that you quit running your mouth and go get ready before you lose this story. You'll suddenly find yourself less relevant as the hotshot reporter that you've come to see yourself as. I might just find you less relevant to have employed here at the Rose!” The smoke cleared after Mr. O'Neil's tirade blew itself out. He huffed and puffed his overly large chest which was every bit as much bar room muscle as it was too much belly. If his size did not intimidate, his voice finished you off. Together, he was a presense to be reckoned with. The problem was that one very petite and foolish Dawn Meadows never quite knew when to quit pushing his buttons.

Today was no different, only Dawn had attempted pushing all of Mr. O'Neil's buttons at the same time. The results were as to be expected. Dawn had attempted to pursuade her editor to relax the rules on the Rose Tribune's strict dress code policy in the current investigation that she was spearheading. The story involved a secret cult operating within the city, and to describe them as dangerous was an understatement. The exasperated young reporter tried to explain that she would be gaining the evidence for her story in covert manners, but the possibility for danger was very real.

“I'm just saying that my skirt, heels, and nylons aren't the smartest or safest choice for a gal,” she had pleaded. “If I'm detected, and they chase me, well... let's just say that the hem of my skirt doesn't make it easy to move quickly, and I can forget outrunning anybody in these heels! That's even assuming I don't snag myself first in these flimsy pantyhose!”

Dawn's cause for relaxing the dress code for female reporters at the Tribune was met with the typical fear inducing fire and brimstone response. “The Rose is a professional publication and employs professionals. Jeans and sweatshirts are for the other guys, you know the papers nobody remembers the names of? You are to keep up appearances no matter the situation. I suggest you stay invisible or learn to run in those high heels. And for the last time, 100 degrees or -10 degrees, jungle, swamp, or office setting, you will wear pantyhose. I'll be kind enough to remind you since you're danger prone. A single run in your nylons and you're though. The women of the Rose will represent professionally from head to toe. Screw that up with a snag, and you might as well become the next victim of this so called cult you're investigating, because I won't be there to bail you out of peril.” Mr. O'Neil's harsh reiteration of the unforgiving requirements mantled by the women employed by the Rose Tribune were always enough to cause the shoulders to tremble a little with fear. Even when she remembered to buy support hose with reinforced toes, she was always a little paranoid, checking out her own legs for the deadly little betrayals of a tiny run that would end her career and in this case, possibly her life. It was enough to make any girl feel like peril was around the corner, or sharp file cabinet drawers as the case might be!

Dawn was content that she had at least tried to champion the unsung cause of the hot and tired legs of all the ladies working at the Tribune, and their diminished pocket books drained from constant and costly hosiery expense. Admitting her defeat yet again, she sauntered out of the office with shoulders slumped, turning her attention toward the investgation that she would be concentrating on that evening.

It didn't take long for Dawn to forget about the unfair advantage men had in the office as all the poor ladies dumped half their paychecks into the hellish man created thing that were nylons. She settled her thoughts into the excitement of pursuing truth and justice despite her own perils.

Her green jaguar pulled into a vacant lot, the engine a low growl. Dashing the lights on her approach, Dawn turned the key and put the car to sleep. Giving herself one last peptalk in the rearview mirror, she stepped out of the vehicle and gingerly closed the door. The lot was a gravel top, and almost instantly she was fighting for balance in the awkward points of her heels. Smoothing out her skirt from the ride in the car, and pulling the bottom of her suit jacket taut, Dawn did her best to maintain a semblance of grace.

The lot that she covertly parked in a low traffic urban setting, and more importantly, was located across the street from one of the city's prominent museums. While Dawn had no qualms about meandering the long corridors admiring the fine works within for many long hours, that was not her reason for the visit that particular evening. It was not the exhibits that she was interested in so much as the patrons that night. According to her sources, there was a group of individuals that were spending time in the museum after hours, and they seemed to be favoring the seclusion of the basement; a place that was off limits to the public to the best of Dawn's knowledge. The news wouldn't usually have captured the interest of the intrepid young reporter, but this group was anything but usual. Her sources indicated that there was evidence that this group of individuals dabbled in the occult and their acts were sinister as much as they were mysterious. The questions outweighed the answers at this point, but the suspicious nature warranted further investigation, and that's what Dawn was doing there so late and inapprpriately dressed; to gather evidence. “If I don't break my ankle first,” grumbled Dawn as she stumbled through the gravel lot toward the rear entrance of the museum.

As the gravel lot gave way to the paved rear lot of the museum, Dawn's precarious balancing act turned to the distinct clicks of high heels on pavement. She tiptoed as daintily as she could up the steps and breathed a sigh of relief at the sign of a small wooden block wedged at the base of the door, holding it open just an inch. Her inside contact had come through for her. Normally, the rear door would be locked for obvious reasons, but Dawn needed a way in after hours, and she wasn't exactly officially invited to do her investigation. The truth of the matter was that none of the museum officials knew that Dawn was there, and they would be none too happy to find her snooping around their hallowed corridors. Should a night watch man catch her wandering, she always kept her well practiced innocent eyes and voice at the ready.

Peeking her blonde head in the door, she breathed a sigh of relief to find that the coast was clear. The large and quiet environment of the museum was instantly creepy at night with the minimal shafts of light cutting through the shadows. The exhibits felt more sinister in the emptiness as though they were watching an intruder, threatening to come to life. Dawn shook her long hair, chiding herself for her childish imagination, but she unconsciously hugged herself none the less.

After spending some minutes orienting herself in the labyrinth of corridors and backtracking a little, Dawn found the path that led to the basement. Thus far, she had not crossed paths with another living soul, though that seemed logical. A group meeting in secrecy might not advertise themselves to openly to unwanted attention.

The entrance to the basement was a wide set of double doors. It appeared odd at first, but Dawn soon realized the practicality of it. As she peered down the stairs, at the base she saw old (or new) exhibits wrapped up in clear plastic tarps. It occurred to her that if the museum needed to store large things, that it would need a large doorway to pass them through. Careful of her steps in heels, Dawn slowly descended the stairs, cringing with each click. While the landing ended in a large base, it took a turn soon there after, and it was not possible to know if there was anyone awaiting a nosy reporter around that corner.

Dawn held her breath as the took the last steps, and peeked around the corner. To her vast relief, no strange and violent hands grabbed her slender neck and choked the life from her wide green eyes. What she did find is herself in a large basement that acted as a series of storage rooms for the museums currently unused exhibits. The room was lit by a series of torches that were secured in wall sconces. The decidedly medieval lighting was unnerving in that it cast sinister dancing shadows along the walls and ceiling, and it indicated that somebody had lit those fires in the not so distant past. That same someone might be nearby. While several passages led off of the main room that she was in, only one hallway shone with the faint flicker of additional torch light.

Making her way across the main storage hall, Dawn weaved around the many obstacles, careful not to snag her nylons on any jagged outcroppings that sought to make a mess of her foolish fashion sense. The further she went, the more she realized how dusty the basement was. Despite trying to remain alert, she found her attention wandering to how long some of these forgotten artifacts had remained down there. Enchanted by the shadows of flickering torchlight beyond the corner ahead, Dawn's mind snapped back into place when the sound of low chants crawled faintly into her ears like little bugs. The voices were remote, barely audible, but the closer she got to the corridor ahead, the louder they became. The flickering shadows at the corner ahead promised to reveal much of the mystery to the intrepid young reporter and the heart that now hammered in anticipation against her ribs.

As Dawn crept closer to the corner, it became apparent that while it was chanting that she heard, there were also people speaking as in dialogue. With the low scuttling buzz of the chant, it was too difficult exactly what was being discussed. Mustering a considerable ration of her courage, Dawn poked her head around the corner. Compared to what she thought she might see, she was not prepared to. Under the chaotic flicker of torchlight, a circle of brown robed individuals stood with deep hoods pulled low over their faces. The chanted unknown words that gave the effect of ones skin crawling. In the center or their ring, was a horrifying display of candles and the remains of an unknown animal, gored and dismembered in a frightful sacrifice of mysterious purpous, its spilled blood used to pain symbols around the circle of candles and mess of its corpse.

The unexpected discovery caused Dawn to gasp in horror. Despite her shock, she fought for control of herself knowing that she needed to get her camera ready and document the evidence of the very real and very scary cult. While she was to be commended for her courage to get as close as she did, and tenacious drive as a reporter to have her camera ready no matter how dangerous, she failed to realize the effect the dust was going to have on her. Dawn's surprised gasp was met with inhaling an unhealthy amount of dust, and despite her best self control, she sneezed violently.

It was the cult's turn to be startled by the sudden appearance of a snuffling young woman. Their ritual was thrown into calamity, as several of the robed individuals whipped around, dashing this way and that, knocking candles over in their carelessness; flames that hissed out in the slick blood stained floor. The sought out the intruder and if they were alone. As the tide of chaos receded, and all the deep hoods faced her direction, Dawn felt the wave of dread coming her way. Their movements were slow at first, building steam as they approached her very alone form. Their identities were still a mystery, and thus they were as monsters.

Dawn burned precious seconds before her body had the good sense to turn tail and run. She pumped her legs as hard as she could, but it was too difficult to run in her high heels. As the cultists began running behind her, it became very clear to her that they would catch her. Knowing that she was a goner if they caught up with her, Dawn decided to go lax on the company dress code this one time, and lose the heels. Stopping for a mere precious moment to hop out of one heel at a time, the menacing group closed in on her. Glancing behind her and seeing the clutching hands of the cult, Dawn let out an involuntary scream, and pumped her legs as hard as she could, a shoe clutched in each of her fists. She glided on her stocking feet, slender legs taking long strides forcing her short black skirt up her thighs, she risked a fearful glance behind her to see how close her pursuers were.

Running in a skirt proved exhausting even after a short distance, and attemping to run in heels at first had eaten up much of the lead she had on the cult. The rest had been sacrificed when she paused to take off her heels. Dawn did the best she could, running in bare feet gave her the best chance she had. But her feet were not quite bare. It didn't take long for the cluttered basement floor to snag the reinforced toe of her barely black pantyhose, and put a fast end to her fearful flight. She shock came initially at why her leg wouldn't come forward, then the stretch of her reinforced toe. When the nylon would give no more, Dawn slammed down hard on her stomach, the wind knocking from her lungs. Stunned from her fall and her sudden hang up, Dawn twisted about on the ground to see what happened. There was the toe of her nylon held fast on the end of a jagged splinter in the floor. Tugging feverishly at her calf, the filmy nylon stretched pathetically, but would not give her up.

Dawn planted her arms on the ground behind her, and risked a glance up. The cult had formed a semi circle around her trapped form, glaring at her with interest from the depths of their shadowy hoods. With a soft whimper, she looked up at them with scared green eyes, giving her leg another pathetic tug to no avail. The reinforced toe of her pantyhose irritatingly did exactly as the package advertised. “Thanks for nothing, Leggs!” thought Dawn, swallowing a gulp. She tried to shrink away from their grabbing hands, screaming “Nooo!” but she couldn't squirm away. Grabbing fists full of her lucious long hair, they pulled at her. The pain exploded in Dawn's scalp and spots flashed before her eyes. She frantically thought to earlier that morning when she grudgingly took her damp pantyhose from the shower rod and forced her legs and buttocks into them. She promised if she got one more chance, she would never wear a pair of stockings again as long as she live. It sounded like a great promise since because of a pair of nylons her life was proving to be quite short!

For several agonizing moments, Dawn felt the fire in her scalp as on one end she was being tugged by her lovely blonde hair, and on the other end, her ridiculously reinforced toe pantyhose were snagged, holding her painfully in place. Unexpectedly, it seems that neither Dawn's poor head of hair, nor her tenacious nylon clad toes were going to give in, so the only scientifically possible result occurred. Dawn's long slender legs were simply pulled right out of their silken pantyhose!

As Dawn was dragged by her hair down the corridor to an unknown fate, she noticed oddly enough, that one of the cult members picked up her flimsy nylons, and unsnagged them from the pesky splintered floor. Little more was afforded her memory after she felt a damp cloth pressed tightly over her mouth. The fumes were fast acting, and potent, and soon the imperiled reporter found consiousness no where to be found.


Sometime later...

As the effects of the drug wore off, Dawn blinked away the haze. She was first aware of the fact that she was not alone, and it was next apparent that she could scarcely move. Fluttering her eyes a bit more, she oriented her vision and realized that she was lying on some sort of stone table, and surrounded by the group of cultists that had captured her. The next fact caused the bottom of her stomach to fall out in an endless drop. They were wrapping in some sort of bandages, tightly binding her! They pulled on them tightly as they wrapped causing a considerable amount of pain. In the midst of her horror, she realized that her legs were once again sheathed in her dreadful pantyhose, the same detestable garment that was leading her to a young and horrifying death. Despite her horror, she managed to feel humiliated at the idea of the cultists putting their hands all over her legs and privates putting the pantyhose back on her after ripping her out of them so unceremoniously by her poor hair (she remembered with a wince).

Dawn tried everything she could think of in begging the cultists to spare her poor pathetic young life. She offered them money, she promised she wouldn't tell anyone that she saw them here, though she realized with bitter irony, she wouldn't be telling anybody anything. In mere moments, she would be the next mummy displayed in the museum!

As Dawn fretted over her fate, they cultists finished their wrappings over her nose, mouth, ears, eyes, and the last bits of her wavy gold lockes. The last of her air was used up near instantly in the instinctive panic and feeble bucks she made with her tightly wrapped body. Her screams were muffled as they submerged her in the preservative fluid that would keep Dawn Meadows a modern mummy for centuries to come.

Not long after she was in a display case with a fake biography plate, set up in the museum's eastern wing. Ironically, she was one of the museum's most popular new exhibits, none the wiser that beneath all the bandages was a very young woman. It was not a centuries old mummy recently discovered, as everyone believed. Not yet anyway.


-THE END

Illustrations by Mistytang

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