Stefanie knew that stripping down to her underwear was not the brightest thing to do in a secluded wood, in the dead of night, but, hey, she did what she needed to do for art. She stepped up to the rock where she had trained two lights and her tripod-held camera set on time-delay. In between each click, telling her that the camera had taken a picture, she struck and held a pose with a katana a friend who was into swords and knives had leant her. Her poses were those of a warrior. In one, she was of a victorious sword-maiden, her weapon held confidently at her side. In another, she was holding her sword up high as if ready to make a strike a final, victorious blow. In another, she was crouched down on her hands and knees as if stalking prey. In another, she was standing with a haughty gaze, holding her katana, as if a warrior princess expecting tribute.
To see Stefanie pose, one might mistake her for an anime heroine from some fantasy Manga series. Her body was petite, with a slender waist, that most women would kill to have and men would do anything to hold. Her thin limbs were long but athletic and she moved them with grace as she switched from one pose to the next. Her face was lovely, topped with copper-colored hair and ornamented with dark green eyes that twinkled with smartness and sensibility and laughing vivacity.
Stefanie was so consumed with her work that she did not notice the man who had stepped out of the darkness. He was a small, olive skinned man with thick curly hair and a goatee. He wore a tight v-necked shirt and threadbare jeans. On his wrist was a thick, golden bracelet studded with colored gems. As the young woman posed for her camera, the man watched her intently as if a critic examining the merit of her work. Only when he clapped in appreciation did Stefanie realize, to her complete surprise, that she was not alone. She jumped and nearly fell off the rock but quickly regained her balance. She held her sword hilt tightly in one hand and another with the scabbard. If the man was dangerous, she meant to use the weapon to defend herself even if she did not completely know how to fight with one.
"Excellent, excellent work. Your poses were deeevine," The man said in a strange accent.
"Thanks." Stefanie replied gruffly. "And you are?"
"I am Alessandro." The man said with glee. "Alesandro too is arteest. Alesandro ees seeking a model for a commission in town square. Alesandro has found her. Eet es you. You shall be Alesandro's muse."
Stefanie was skeptical. What kind of artist hangs around a forest in the dead of night? Then she checked herself—she was an artist that would do that sort of thing. She stood up and walked over to her clothes, keeping the sword next to her while she put them on just incase the strange man tried anything.
"What did you have in mind?" She asked him as she jammed her legs into her pant legs one by one.
"Alesandro needs model for statue. You would make perfect model for Alesandro. Like one of the poses you made just now. Excellent. Alesandro like. Alesandro like very much.
Stefanie quickly put on her shirt. "What do you want me to do? Meet you at your studio?" She said accusingly to let him know she suspected he had ulterior motives.
Alesandro shook his head. "No. Meet Alesandro in town square. Three o'clock in the morning. You model for Alesandro then and there." He walked up to Stefanie, who tensed, ready to split him in half with her sword if he tried to attack her. He handed her a business card and bowed after she took it. "Tomorrow at three am." He reminded her. "Bring the sword." Then he stepped jauntily into the dark wood and disappeared.
Stefanie read the card aloud. "Alesandro. Life should be art. Art should be life." She hmphed, gathered her equipment and went home.
The next day, Stefanie decided to forget the strange man and his offer but out of curiosity she Googled his name to find out if he was legitimate. To her surprise, he was indeed a real artist and a fairly famous one. She found pictures of his work—mostly incredibly realistic nude statues—positive reviews of his work and lists of his exhibitions.
"Well, that changes things." Stefanie thought to herself. She had just been asked to model by a famous artist. How could she pass that up?
Stefanie had become so excited by her modeling job that she found the hours passed interminably for it to take place. It was as if 3:00 am would never come. Finally, the time she set to leave for her date with Alesandro arrivd and she made her way through the eerily quiet town streets for the square and her appointment, swinging her borrowed samurai sword with enthusiasm as she thought about the art she would help to create.
The square was deserted, almost anyway. The strange man she had met before was sitting against to large two-tiered pools of water. Both tiers had concentric rings of nozzles for jets of fountain water. In the middle of the top tier was a raised pedestal big enough for a person, or a statute of person to stand.
Alesandro greeted Stefanie enthusiastically. "Greetings. Greetings, Alesandro's muse. We shall do beautiful work together! Yes?"
"Yes." Stefanie replied giddily. "What do you need me to do."
"Please." Aleasandro told her. "Stand on the pedestal in fountain."
Stefanie looked at the pedestal, which stood in the center of the placid water in the tiered pools. "Um, did you really need to fill the fountain with water?" She asked.
Alesandro looked confused. "Yes. Ees fountain. Fountains have water, no?"
"Did you bring a camera? Or some things to sketch with?" She asked him.
Alesandro looked more confused. "Alesandro ees sculptor. Alesandro does not photograph. Alesandro does not paint."
Stefanie stared at the artist a minute confused but figured he would just make her pose on the pedestal and then work from memory.
Deciding that Alesanrdo had already seen enough of her the night before, she shed her modesty as well as her shoes and pants. Grasping her katana tightly, she waded through pools and climbed up the tiers. Finally, she pulled herself up the pedestal and stood on top of it.
"Ok?" She said in an exasperated voice. This was a lot of work for just a pose, she thought to herself acidly.
"Ees good!." Alesandro said with a appreciative nod. He raised a hand and fiddled with his jeweled bracelet.
Stefanie looked down to see the surface of the pedestal glow.
"What the heck." She blurted. "Oh no. You're not into performance art are you?"
Alesandro did not reply but continued to his bracelet with his fingers while he fixed a stare upon her.
"Ok. This is getting a weird." Stefanie said while she stood on the pedestal waiting some more direction. It was summer but the nights were chilly and she was wet and half naked. As the strange man took his time to do whatever he was going to do, she started to grow more annoyed and finally decided she had had enough.
"Ok, I am so out of here!" Stefanie declared and tried to jump off the pedestal back into the fountain only to find she could not move her legs.
"What the hell?" She gasped as she tried to bend down to see if anything had happened to her limbs. She managed only a slight incline but could not move any further.
"Hey!" She cried to Alesdandro. "Something is wrong. I can't move." She tried to raise her arms but they defied her command and hung limply by her side, one hand still holding the katana.
Stefanie noticed a satisfied look on the man's face and realized the source of her trouble. "You did this!" She accused. "You..." Her voice stopped abruptly. Her lips no longer moved at her command. She couldn't even get her tongue to budge. Stefanie stood completely still on the pedestal. Her own body was now completely beyond her control.
Dumb in speech and dumbfounded about what had happened to her, Stefanie could only watch as the man pressed jewels on his bracelet and could only listen as he issued her a command. "Disrobe!"
Instantly, Stefanie obeyed his order, stripping herself off her remaining clothes and tossing them over the fountain onto the square. She was totally naked when she realized how quickly and compliantly he had obeyed his suggestion. How did he get this power of her, she wondered. Now she was getting scared. Could he make her do anything?
"Show Alesandro your poses from yesterday."
Stefanie knew her poses well from her photo shoot in the wood last night. She had planned the shots meticulously and could have copied all of them for anyone who asked. In this situation, she strained to restrain herself from showing them but her mind and body obeyed the artist's desire and she struck the poses for him, holding each for several seconds so that he could get a look. One moment she was holding her sword up high as if ready to make a strike. In another she was crouched down on her hands and knees as if stalking prey. In another she was standing with a haughty gaze, holding her katana, as if a warrior princess expecting tribute. Stefanie never felt as vulnerable as she did now. It was as if he had his own personal remote control for her mind and body.
Alesandro finally stopped her exhibition when she took a pose with one arm down straight down by her side holding her scabbard while the other was slowly drawing out the katana blade. She was standing erect with her legs set apart. She looked like a warrior princess preparing for a fight against a hostile army. It was a pose for a picture she called "The girl and the darkness." "Stop!" He commanded and she instantly obeyed, remaining fixed in that position.
.... There is more of this story ...