© Copyright 2004 - Vaughan - Used by permission
Storycodes: MF+/f; dress; magic; boxed; photo; packed; transformed; tranported; wedding; cons; X
Jennifer Simms entered the office she had been corresponding with for the last few months. She had first came across the Brides by Post company in the personal columns of the local newspaper. Having been recently widowed, she missed having a husband, but dreaded dipping her toe in the murky waters of singles bars and personals. After a week of thought she would drop them a line, to find out what they did. Having read the brochure, she felt she liked the idea of starting a new life in a less tame part of the country with a new husband. After much form-filling and other letters, she had been asked to send $200 for the service and to come to the office.
The office was up a flight of stairs over a small bridal shop. Jennifer was greeted by a woman in her mid-fifties and asked to sit. Jennifer sat on the low sofa, while the receptionist rang through to the other to tell someone that she had arrived. The receptionist then asked if Jennifer had brought everything she had been asked to bring. Jennifer showed her suitcase with enough clothes for a long weekend, which was all she was told she would need, her passport and her house keys.
"Would you mind transferring the contents of the case into that box," the reception asked--according to her name plate her name was Carol--"you can go through that door if prefer some privacy."
The box she had indicated was six foot by two feet by four inches and had a picture of a church porch on it and flying confetti, it looked as though it should include a bride. Jennifer handed over her passport and keys and went into the other room to pack her clothes and things into the box. When she emerged Carol took her case and the box and handed her a voucher. The voucher was a slightly dog-eared piece of paper addressed to the bridal shop down-stairs saying to supply the bearer with "one wedding dress to the usual specifications". She queried this with Carol, who told her that they always sent a bride in a bridal gown, but due to certain limitations they could not have it too big or heavy. They knew all about it downstairs. They would send her back up when she was ready.
Jennifer descended the stairs a bit nervous and went into the bridal shop. She was welcome by two assistants in their early twenties, who on seeing the voucher took her into the back room. She was told that she could select any dress from the rails here and they would get her ready for the people upstairs. Jennifer being a traditional kind of woman selected a beautiful pale blue dress in satin with enough lace to bedeck a medium sized yacht. The assistants, according to their badges Sarah and Diana, suggested that she try a very similar dress in peach and ivory with only yards of lace. Jennifer found she could agree with the recommendation. The girls selected underwear and accessories for Jennifer, who found she approved every choice. They sent her into the changing room where she changed into the dress and everything that went with it. She left her clothes in the changing room, because she thought that she would be back. Diana directed Jennifer to go up the back stairs. She climbed the rather steep stairs.
Jennifer knocked at the door at the top of the stairs and entered having been bid to do so. The room was somewhat dingy, with peeling wallpaper that was Lord knows how old. The features that stood out in this room were a very large and old-fashioned camera on a tripod, a very modern cam-corder also on a tripod, a cabinet made of perspex (six foot tall, two feet, wide and two feet deep) and lastly a short wizened old man, he was about four foot three inches tall.
"Allow me to introduce myself," instructed the old man, "My name is Matrinus. An unusual name I grant you, but ideal for a wizard in the matrimony business. You I know are Jennifer Simms. I prefer my name, but that's a matter of personal taste. Shall we get on with it?"
"Get on with what?" Jennifer queried.
"Packing you for transit, of course. I take the company name quite literally. We start by giving you a pill to keep you fresh and happy during your journey. By the way the video camera is running. You will get the video as a wedding present from us. So be a good girl so we do not have to edit it to make it a pleasant memory."
She popped the small green pill in her mouth. It tasted of plums. She swallowed it although she had meant to hide it in her cheek and spit it out when Matrinus was not looking. A pleasant sensation unlike anything she had ever felt gently lapped through her body. A smothering coating of acquiescence tried to drown the small nugget of rebellion that remained in her.
The old man told her to get into the cabinet. Her core of revolt forced her to examine the cabinet before she entered it. The cabinet was exactly as it appeared made of clear plastic with a front door that hinges on pins. There were no slots, trapdoor or moving compartments. The only thing inside the cabinet was the box she had moved the contents of her suitcase to. She stepped into the cabinet and pulled the door closed behind her and turned back to face Matrinus.
He regarded her critically, then said, "My dear, you are a picture." Matrinus began fussing with the camera, adjusting the bellows and the lens and filling a trough on a stick with flash powder. "I've been fascinate by photography since they invented it, you know, back in... oh the early 1800's I think," he muttered. When he had checked his equipment, he lit the fuse with a flame he produced from his thumb.
There was a blinding flash. When the smoke had cleared, the cabinet seemed empty, but there was something there. If you looked at the front there was a picture of a bride in a peach and ivory dress standing outside the porch of a church. The rest of the cabinet was really empty. The back of the door seems to be covered by a sheet of greeny-grey cardboard. Matrinus rubbed his caloussed hands and strolled across the room to the cabinet, which he opened. The thick card of the bridal picture floated from the door and landed face up on the floor. A faint sound was heard from the picture. It could have been saying, "I'll get you. I'll sue you through every court in the land if I have to."
Matrinus pressed a buzzer and another somehow younger dwarfish old man entered and immediately admired the bridal picture on the floor. With infinite care they lifted and carried it into the next room where they placed it on a table under a computer controlled laser cutter. After a short consultation they decided that the six inch pattern was the correct one. They tapped a few keys on the controller and the laser went into action making crinkly cuts across and down Jennifer trapped in the picture. With further care they dismantled the jigsaw they had created and put the pieces in a sturdy box and sealed it. Carol appeared and took charge of the box. She addressed it, stuck a large number of stamps on it and took to the nearby post office.
George Smith had married his childhood sweetheart and then moved to the back of beyond to run the grandparent's farm. His wife had died of an extended illness in the city. He knew he could not find reliable hands at a price he could afford, so he thought of getting married again. He ordered a wife from Brides by Post and their rep had come three times to check him out. On the rep's last visit he told George that his new bride would be with him in the next fortnight so to book the necessary priest and witnesses for the wedding.
Twelve days later a package arrived that seemed to contain a large piece jigsaw and no picture to work it out by. The package contained the instructions, "Complete the jigsaw on a flat surface, avoid bending any of the pieces then call your Brides by Post representative."
That evening he carefully sorted the jigsaw and assembled the forty-eight pieces on a trestle table. The picture depicted a bride in peach and ivory outside a church porch. She looked wonderful. He bent down to kiss the picture. In the late evening silence he thought he heard a dreamy sigh. He thought, "It's late, I'll call the rep then get to bed". Which he did.
The day for the wedding arrived and the first person to turn up was the Brides by Post rep, who George knew as Bill. Bill had George help him bring in a perspex cabinet six feet tall, two feet wide and two feet deep. The cabinet was stood in George's study. Bill took off the door and asked George to show him the jigsaw. George led him to the back room where Bill transferred the picture face down onto the door which had a rim to prevent it slipping off.
The door bell rang and George rushed off to greet the pastor and his neighbours. Bill told him to send in the pastor to the study, when he arrived. Bill took a roll of cling wrap and used it to secure the picture to the door, then carried it through to the study. He re-mounted the door on the cabinet and retrieved a video camera from the van he had arrived in and set it up.
"Hello, William. long time, no see," cried the pastor, as he entered the room.
"Hiya, yourself, So, the greatest snake-oil salesmen of all time has become a priest. How's tricks Nathan?" replied Bill.
"OK, So how come a magician of your stature is here?" asked Nathan.
"Probably the same reason as you. The world does not seem to have room for real magicians, so we hide the magic and take up an honest trade. I hooked up with the Dwarves to make a Brides by Post business. They pack them, I unpack them. I suppose you have to avoid overt miracles?" said Bill.
"Yes, and it's so tempting at times," admitted Nathan. "But back to business. I suppose you have the necessary paperwork."
Bill handed the paperwork, marriage license and so on, to the priest, who ran an eye over it and handed it back.
"Time to unpack the bride," stated Bill. "You can watch if you like, but please do not interfere, the dwarves are very protective of their magic."
Bill pulled a flash gun from his pocket and triggered it. There was a half hearted flash. "Oh *&@#~!!!" yelled Bill, "I forgot to check the battery."
Nathan examined the picture trapped in the door of the cabinet. The cuts in the jigsaw had vanished and the picture of the bride was evidently separated from the background, but both were only the thickness of thick card and the bride looked distinctly unhappy.
Bill looked at Nathan and asked, "Have you got some flash about your person, 'cause I'm all out." Nathan pantomimed checking his pockets and then shook his head. Bill was looking very worried, "How in hell, begging your pardon, are we going to finish restoring this woman so you can marry her to George?"
Nathan asked, "What is her name. Oh yes, It was on the documents." He addressed the picture of the bride, "Jennifer, we have a small problem. If you'll just bear with us, we will sort it out. We need you to step out of the cabinet."
There was a moments pause then a transparent foot projected from the face of the cabinet, followed by the rest of a transparent, but naked woman. The woman looked down at her body and immediately looked embarrassed and covered up as best she could.
The priest told Bill to lend Jennifer his jacket and the go to find her some more becoming clothes and make up, then fetch a new flash unit. Jennifer sat down and looked at her bridal picture.
Nathan began to explain, "We seem to have had a problem restoring your body so we will perform the marriage using your soul which is what is sitting listening to me, then William will have got the necessary equipment to restore you properly."
At this point Bill bustled back in with some clothes and a veil. Bill then vanished in a flash and Nathan turned his back while Jennifer translucently dressed for her wedding, she wept a tear for the fact she would not be married in her wedding dress. She put on the gloves to hide the fact that she was see-through. When the veil was in place, it was difficult to tell that Jennifer was transparent.
The priest guided her to her husband-to-be and before the congregation of neighbours married George and Jennifer. Once Nathan had given his blessing, George lifted the veil to kiss his new wife and found himself kissing a faded version of the woman in the jigsaw. He gave a questioning look at Bill, who had just emerged from the study. Bill smiled and beckoned. George conducted Jennifer past his guests and into to the study.
George asked, "What's happened? She's transparent." Nathan entered having told the guests that there was some private paperwork to be completed. He took George aside and explained that he had nothing to worry about because he had just married Jennifer's soul, which was much better than marrying her body.
Meanwhile, Bill had Jennifer strip and re-enter her cardboard body. He pointed the flash gun at the cabinet and fired. Jennifer pushed open the door of the cabinet and rushed to embrace George; they kissed for what seemed a long time.
Nathan had them sign the appropriate papers and they all went out into the main room to join the reception. There was a bit of a stir that Jennifer was now wearing a proper wedding dress, but other than that everything went well.
George and Jennifer lived together happily for the rest of their days
and George often commented that getting Jennifer was the best investment
of $3000 he had ever made.