Annie was quietly pleased that the roster had teamed her up with Jess for the day; there were some girls on the payroll that she was fond of, some that she really loathed and others that fitted somewhere between provoking neither fun nor fury. Jess fitted into the middle category and made herself desirable for the work of the day simply because she was a pleasant soul who more than anything else knew when to talk and when to shut her mouth. The shift was a long one and Annie needed to make it through without a constant line of inane chatter in her ear.
As they stripped off in the white-tiled locker room, Jess made a few small comments to her taller colleague, complementing her on the effect the gym was having on the shape of her hips and the flat muscles of her stomach. She framed them in her usual self-deprecating style as she folded her clothes with great care and placed them into her locker.
For her own part, Annie did what she had learned to do in the time that she had known Jessica: accept the complements with grace and keep her own sense of incredulity to herself. At first Annie had thought the other woman was being some kind of stealthy bitch based on the way she put herself down. Petite and perfectly proportioned with the face of a porcelain doll, Jessica had always struck her as the personification of Japanese beauty who made the taller and broader woman feel like a lumbering great thing in comparison. But time had taught her that Jessica meant every word and there seemed to be nothing she could do to change her mind.
Annie dumped the last of her own clothes into her locker in a jumbled pile and took a second to study her reflection in the mirror inside the door.
Perhaps Jessica was right to complement her?
The thought was sudden and the vanity of it took Annie off guard. But then she was employed in a profession that needed a degree of physical charm and the ability to stir desire in her audience. Maybe she wasn't too tall and maybe her skin, the colour of shelled hazelnuts, wasn't as imperfect as she thought?
Amused by her odd burst of self love, Annie gathered her shoulder-length, black braids up and pinned them to the back of her head before following Jessica into the adjoining dressing room.
This new room was smaller than the locker room, the walls sporting rails from which hung white bags fastened up the side with zippers. Annie and Jessica made their way to the rack on the left side of the room and located a pair of bags with their names printed on a small piece of card behind a plastic window.
Jessica smiled as she sat on one of the narrow benches in the middle of the room and Annie took a seat across from her on the other.
"I hope they listened after I complained about the instep in the boots," Jessica unzipped the bag that she had draped across her lap. "I don't think that I can take another shift in pain like that!"
"Mal told me he made sure it was sorted," Annie had already opened her own bag and started to pull the contents out before she realised that she had just said more than she wanted to.
"Well," Jessica laughed in a conspiratorial manner, "if Malcolm put someone on it I have nothing to worry about!" She fixed her colleague with a suggestive look. "If only we could all have caught the eye of our prince?"
"Forget I said a word, Jess," Annie shook her head, "no one did a thing and you're in for hours of pain and discomfort!"
She busied herself with checking the contents of the bag and ignored Jessica's childish giggles.
The bag contained five items that looked to be made of off-white latex and were clearly intended to be worn. First Jessica scooped up the smallest of the items and proceeded to pull it on over her head then inch it down until her face emerged and it was clear that the item was a hood. When she had finally negotiated it on the hood covered her from the tip of her head to the base of her neck, but left her face exposed as if to emphasize the contrast between its colour and her own skin.
Next she grabbed one of the larger garments and balled it up like a stocking before slipping her left foot inside. The foot found its way into the base of the garment where it fitted neatly into a snug, padded opening like a shoe at the bottom, only stopping when her entire calf was sunk into the same substance. Annie smoothed the remaining length of the strange garment over her thigh and then repeated the exercise with her right leg.
She stood up to examine the fit of the garments that seemed to be a hybrid of boots and stockings, noting that the shape below the knees gave her legs the appearance of ending in not feet, but instead in round appendages that were almost as wide as a dinner plate and started in an unbroken line from her kneecaps. She took an experimental step and was satisfied when her feet and legs responded in perfect harmony, hidden as they were by the padded latex of the leggings.
Annie bent and picked up the last two items from the bag and pulled the first one onto her left arm in much the same way as she had pulled on the leggings. Indeed the shape and form of the garments she pulled on were in many ways a miniature version of the leggings, but gloves designed instead to be worn over the hands and on the arms. Her hand sank into a padded opening in the bottom of the glove and she wiggled her fingers until they were comfortable, held in a position that gripped a portion of the material and kept them from moving individually. When she had pulled it all the way up, the glove ended an inch above her elbow.
With one hand sunk into the glove, Annie was forced to pull the second into place with her teeth as they ended in a more subtle and smaller version of the rounded appendages that had replaced her feet.
Annie glanced across at Jessica who had already finished dressing herself in an identical set of garments and nodded before they both made their way through into the third and final room on their bizarre rounded legs.
This was the smallest room yet and the space was dominated by four large devices that seemed to resemble an attempt to create a spray-tan booth capable of a lunar landing. Large enough for a fully grown adult to stand inside, a heavy door made of a synthetic material as strong as steel and yet as clear as glass allowed entry while numerous pipes, valves, tubes and wired snaked down from openings in the suspended ceiling to connect with the booths.
"Time to get into character," Jessica waved to Annie as she keyed in a code on the panel by the door of the first booth and stepped inside.
"See you on the other side," Annie turned and entered her own code into the panel of the opposite booth and stepped inside, allowing the weighted door to swing closed behind her with a suppressed hiss as the edges sealed her off from the outside world.
Annie had done this dozens of times before, but it was always at this point that she felt a slight jangle of nerves at the anticipation of the next few hours.
As the mechanics of the booth started to come to life around her with the familiar sounds, she recalled the techniques and tricks that she had learnt from her brief and abortive stint as thespian and began to mentally assemble the character that she would be playing.
She stood with her head slightly tilted back, eyes and mouth closed; arms held away from her sides and her legs a foot apart and allowed the booth to do its work.
When the first pair of jets emerged from their recesses and began to orbit around her feet, the combination of familiarity and her mental preparations meant that Annie failed to notice the sound that they made as they began to spray her legs and the cold sensation of the substance they used was nothing more than a vague tingle in the back of her mind. With the precision and efficiency only possible for a machine, the jets circled Annie's body from bottom to top, covering both her naked skin and the latex of her strange garments in a layer of thick, clinging liquid that coated her evenly.
The liquid was the same pale colour as the latex garments and rather than simply cover Annie's body it instead settled in a way that served to disguise the previously clear elements of her own skin and her clothing. In effect it gave the illusion of having merged them both into one skin.
Only moments after the first pair of jets completed their task, a second pair emerged above Annie's head and began to move down her body. These sprayed her with a finer liquid that was far from neutral in colour. A vibrant purple it coated her form once again and seemed to sink into the first layer, changing its colour to the same hue as it went.
Once the second pair of jets had completed their task, the temperature within the booth began to rise slowly until the interior reached a set temperature. Then the surface of the skin that had been sprayed onto Annie began to loose its liquid state and set, though it retained the smooth, shiny look of plastic or latex. Soon the entire layer was dry and the temperature in the booth dropped accordingly back to a more bearable level.
More devices descended from the ceiling of the booth as Annie stood stock still, but these were not jets. Instead each carried an intricate object that looked like a collection of cords or rope.
The first descended as far as Annie's, now purple, buttocks and was pushed firmly into the base of her spine. A plug at the end of the device connected with the spinal socket that was concealed under her skin and Annie became dimly aware of the fact that she had a new appendage that would respond to the impulses of her nervous system like any other.
As the first device moved back up to the ceiling of the booth, the collection of cords could clearly be seen to be a mass of braids or perhaps more accurately a thick tail of hair gathered into braids, a shade of purple so dark that it was almost black.
The second device only descended as far as Annie's head where it attached a similar collection of braids to her scalp and then to her upper back. These were long and somewhat finer than those that made up the tail and their extended length gave them the appearance of a mane rather than a normal head of hair.
Finally a more complicated device hovered around her right thigh and with a point of searing light, etched onto her purple flesh a highly stylised image of a simple white flower.
The flower was a daisy and now she was ready to play the character of "Daisy-Anne" both physically and mentally.
It was clear to see now that she resembled an anthropomorphised version of a Pony Pal.
Everyone had heard of Pony Pals, the mass-produced, plastic ponies that had been a part of pop culture for the last decades of the twentieth century and even into the new millennium. There had been hundreds of them and hundreds of thousands of avid collectors who were not about to let the passage into adulthood deprive them of their obsession. Luckily for people in Annie's line of work as well, it seemed there were enough people out there with an appreciation of slightly perverse parody to make the process she had just undergone profitable in the adult entertainment industry as well.
With their skin coated in a unique latex derivative, tails attached, hands and feet buried in the rounded hooves of the Pony Pals and their own name and matching thigh tattoo, the ponies in the special enclosure had become one of the more popular and unique attractions of the resort over the past year.
Each of the girls who participated in the Pony Pal show was encouraged to come up with their own character for the purpose both in order to avoid messy copyright issues and because the minds behind the idea were certain that it would help them to get into the spirit of things more easily. For her own part, Annie had heard from Mal, that there was also a little something mixed into the liquid sprayed onto the girls that would be absorbed through the skin and help to enhance the idea that they were actually plastic ponies rather than women dressed up as such. Nothing radical just a subtle chemical high to push them in the desired direction and enhance the pleasure of the experience.
Knowing this was one of the reasons that Annie allowed herself to be taken over by the experience and fully embrace the character that she had created for herself. Daisy-Anne was anything but an attempt on her part to hive off part of herself and keep the experience of playing a human Pony Pal separate from who she was. Instead Annie had come to think of the application of the second skin that seemed to change her into Daisy-Anne as the physical manifestation of the effect that the addition of Daisy had to her own identity. In the same way that Bruce Wayne became Batman, she became Daisy-Anne for the duration of her shift and revelled in the freedoms that it afforded her as a result.
As the door to the booth opened and she stepped out onto the floor, Daisy-Anne gave her tail a quick flick in practice and stretched her long, purple limbs to be sure that the process had covered every inch of her body.
The sound of Jessica's booth opening drew her attention and she watched as the Pony Pal persona of her colleague stepped out.
Jessiebell was a bright pink from head to hoof and sported a thick head of glossy black hair that resembled an exaggerated version of Jessica's own, she wore a motif on her right thigh of a heart-shaped bell and her thick, black tail had been braided into one neat length. She had Jessica's demure manner and shy face, but beneath it was an almost wicked sense of humour and knowledge of her own physical allure that must have been just buried beneath the surface of the real woman's personality.
Daisy-Anne looked at her colleague (from this point on she refused to even think of herself as Annie for fear of dropping out of character) and Jessiebell returned the look. Both could feel the subtle effects of the chemicals that were being absorbed through the skin. They blurred the edges just enough to make them feel no fear or anxiety, made them more open to stimulation and excitement. As they each made a last effort to check that the other had been totally covered by the latex skin, it also made them take a moment more time and seem to appreciate the lines of their bodies as well.
Finally they helped each other into bikinis that matched the vivid colours of their skin and trotted down the short corridor to the door which would lead them to the Pony Pal stables. There they would amuse themselves for the next four hours, doing whatever the mood took them as they were watched from behind mirrored glass by those that could afford the privilege.
Malcolm slid the key card into the lock and let himself into the small cabin that he called home while he stayed on the island. It was later than he had thought and he was still rather unnerved by the experience of sharing a freight elevator back to the surface from the subterranean research department with one of its latest projects.
If he hadn't interviewed the girl for a position on the island himself it might have been different, but as it happened her remembered her very well. A fairly textbook example of eastern Mediterranean features that always put him in mind of Greek goddesses capable of going from mad passion to just plain mad in no time at all.
The face and the nervous smile were unmistakable, but the marble skin and pedestal were new.
Malcolm had heard that there was a team working on the concept of a penthouse suite that featured living decorations, but he had not seen any of the proposals and had no idea that they had got as far as actually having a trial run with the prosthetics.
Estella, that was the name he recalled, had been turned into a living piece of sculpture for the project. From the waist down her body disappeared into a very convincing stone column, which Malcolm assumed was made of some form of rigid but breathable plastic that kept her upright and was only slightly wider than her own legs must have been beneath it. Her torso, arms and head had been left naked, but covered with a far finer layer of latex that resembled smooth, veined marble. The effect was quite stunning and had she kept her eyes closed and mouth shut he was convinced she could have passed for the real thing.
But then he also recalled from the interview that she was a compulsive talker as well.
The journey back to the surface may only have taken five minutes, but in that time Malcolm learned everything there was to know about how Estella had taken the experience of becoming a living statue. He smiled as her hands pointed out the finer details of the costume such as where the catheter drained from and the fact that all of her intimate organs below the waist were reachable in an emergency. He nodded as she cupped her breasts and marvelled at the effect the coating had on her nipples.
When the doors finally slid open he smiled and made his excuses, all the time hoping that the first person to stay in the room that Estella was destined for was a good listener.
After that endurance trial, all he had wanted was to relax and sleep.
But there were some things that could always change Malcolm's mood like flicking a switch could change the lighting in a room.
One of them was the sight of a purple-skinned Pony Pal, lounging on his bed wearing nothing but a sulky pout and flicking her tail in a petulant manner.
"You took your time," Daisy-Anne pulled herself up onto all fours and stretched her limbs, "I've been waiting for you here, all on my own!"
"Well," Malcolm dropped the files he had brought from the office that had suddenly become irrelevant to him on a table by the door, "here I am, so let's see if I can make up for your wait." He had managed to strip off everything he was wearing by the time he climbed onto the bed and knelt behind her, pulling her up from all fours so that her back met his chest. He felt the sensation of the tail as it brushed his groin and reached around so that he could run his hands over her stomach. The latex gave her skin a smooth, but warm feel as she reacted to his touch and pressed herself back into him.
Daisy-Anne only managed a quiet breath that embodied her feelings and needs, but her body responded on a subconscious level. Her tail twitched and then rose in a manner that made her desires clear in a moment and Malcolm found that he was ready to fulfil them. He entered her and felt the length of her body react to him as though he had touched every inch of her skin.
Under the spell of the moment, Daisy-Anne dug her hooves into the bedclothes and revelled in the experience of being ridden by a rider of her own choosing.
Malcolm flipped the TV on and scrolled to the news channels while Annie rested her head on his chest, still sealed in the skin of Daisy-Anne, but relaxed enough to let her own personality slowly return to the fore. This was not the first time that he had come home to find Annie waiting for him, she did that often enough, but the appearance of her still in costume was far rarer. Malcolm had never asked her how she managed to make it across the island from the Pony Pals enclosure to his cabin, though he had some interesting theories as to how she did.
He was forced to admit that he was glad she did.
The Pony Pals and their shows had been Malcolm's own brainchild, an idea that he had worked on from the first day to bring to life. For his own part he was intrigued by the fantasies that the island resort he worked for brought to life and the women who played the parts. Nevertheless he was only really interested in personally exploring his own fascination with the fusing of the human and the equine.
Malcolm had always been careful to keep his interest in such things quiet before he came to work on the island. It seemed hard to make it clear to people that he did not want to actually have sex with something that lived in a stable and liked the occasional sugar-cube as a treat. One former girlfriend that he had let in on his secret had insisted on taking him to see Equus in the West End, thinking that it would be right up his street. In truth the sight of Daniel Radcliffe and his hoof-pick had turned him white and ended that relationship in record time.