Monday, 2 February 2015

7 - A Gathering of Faeries (Picture Story)


Mandy had always aspired to be an actor, but when the time came to actually make it a reality, she quickly discovered it wasn't as fun as she had expected. Not even close. 

When she applied for a position in the College of the Art's theatre program, all she'd been expecting was that it'd help her to refine the skills she'd already developed in high-school theatre classes, that she'd maybe put on a few Shakespeare productions, and...well, that was it. She'd get her degree, apply for whatever position she liked in whatever production she liked, get famous, get rich, live happily ever after, cue the end. She was a natural actor - she had been all her life and had been told she was all her life, and as such she really wasn't expecting any problems. She'd breeze through her course and have no issues whatsoever. It'd be stupidly easy, and she'd enjoy it all the while.

As it turned out, she was only half right. Mandy was as good as she thought as she was, and it really was a breeze. She wasn't mistaken about that at all.

With that said, it wasn't always fun. 

Take this particular example, for instance. Her Bachelor of Stage & Screen Acting happened to interact with the other degree taught at the same campus, the Bachelor of Stage & Screen Writing. Part of the end-of-year assessment for the acting students was to perform a stage production put together by the writing students. It was a combined assessment, and as such it basically meant Mandy was obligated to act out whatever the writing students came up with. 

 Meaning literally whatever the writing students came up with.

The play was called 'A Gathering of Faeries,' and it was the most ridiculous example of stagecraft Mandy had ever had the misfortune to participate in. The brainchild of a perverted hipster in the parallel course named Christian Somers, it chronicled the story of the Mushroom Clan, a family of fairies who lived in the woods and were being attacked by the local human population who were after their magic mushrooms (not those magic mushrooms, literally magical mushrooms). It was the most cliched, uninteresting plot Mandy had ever seen; it was really just Avatar with fairies instead of the Na'vi, when you got down to it, but she didn't get much say in it. It was how the course was run, and if she wanted to pass, she had to do it. 

The play wasn't the issue, though. She could live with the cheesy, overdone plot. The real problem was her character. What she'd been cast as.

The Mushroom Clan had six members; the mum, the dad, the grandmother, the teenaged son, the teenaged daughter, and the baby. 

She was the baby.

"You can not be serious," she'd said to Christian the morning before day one of rehearsals. The university theatre hadn't been unlocked just yet, and the few students who had rocked up early were all huddled near the door in their thickest jackets and hoodies to ward off the chilly morning breeze. Mandy held the script in one hand and wagged a gloved finger from the other in Christian's face, aware that she was getting weird looks from the other two girls with them but not caring in the slightest. He was the lead story director, so this was his fault, and by God he would answer for it! "I am NOT going on stage wearing nothing but a fucking diaper. Do you hear me, you pervert? I WILL NOT." 

To his credit, Christian seemed a little embarrassed - not guilty, but at least embarrassed. He laughed abashedly, his cheeks finally finding some blood in the cold, and gently pushed his companion's gyrating hand back to her side. "Look, I'm sorry,"  he'd said gently. "Someone has to do it, though. If it wasn't you, it would be - " 

"Why does someone have to do this, Christian?" she'd snapped. "You want me to wear a diaper? Sure, whatever. I'm a baby, it makes sense, I'll live. I'm also a grown woman. Why am I showing my boobs off too? Why is that necessary, huh?"

"For the same reason you're wearing a diaper," he answered simply. "You're a baby. You're meant to look as innocent as possible, that's what the part calls for. What's more innocent than a baby in a diaper?"

"And at what point do you get off on this, huh? I AM NOT A -"

"It's symbolism, Mandy," he cut her off. He laughed self consciously again, something that was really beginning to get on her nerves. She bristled. "Symbolism. Innocence. Purity. Whatever. Look, I get it's going to be a little embarrassing, but it's what the plot calls for. The big bad humans come along to fuck up the fairy life, and they find and kill the innocent little baby and her mother - "

"Have I mentioned the plot is rubbish too?" 

He ignored her. "And the fact you're half naked really emphasis how bad that is," he finished. "You're innocent and pure and they go on and kill the two of you anyway. The sweet mother and the un-armed, naked baby. It makes what they do seem even worse."

Bullshit. You just want to see my tits.

She glared at him, not entirely sure how to go on. At the end of the day, she didn't really have a choice - this play was his end of year mark, so he wasn't going to change it, and her participation was her end of year mark, so she couldn't afford to skip it. That didn't mean she wasn't going to be happy about it, though. She was going to kick, scream, bitch and moan all the way. This was not what she signed up for when she enrolled in the course!

"Mandy, I'm sorry," he tried. "Really. Look, it's not even like you have to do this every rehearsal for the next month. It's a one off thing on the night. Absolute worse, maybe twice, for the dress rehearsal. And even then - " 

"You're disgusting," she spat through clenched teeth. "I hope your lecturer sees this for what it is and fails you, you absolute fucking creep." 

And with that, she had stormed off to find a cafe while she waited for the theatre doors to open.

He hadn't been lying to her, though. Not once did he (or anyone else) insist she go through the rehearsals with her top off, and she had to grudgingly admit that that was at least some consolation. If he was getting his rock off to this, it was only going to happen once. As much as standing in front of an audience naked except for a diaper was going to suck, it was one time only. 

It was some comfort, but not much. She lived in a perpetual state of dread for the entirety of the month leading up to the performance.

The premier of A Gathering of Faeries wasn't waiting for her to come to terms with that dread, and before she knew it the time came to do the unthinkable. She reluctantly drove herself to campus at 6pm sharp, a full hour before the show began to make sure there weren't any last-minute things to take care of. Finding there wasn't, she promptly sat herself down in a corner and moped. All around her, her fellow cast members were reading over their scripts or rehearsing their parts, but she couldn't bring herself to participate. Besides, why should she? How exactly did she rehearse showing off her body and gurgling like an idiot without doing exactly that? 

Christian tried to talk to her at one point, but she shooed him away before he could even open his mouth. She didn't want to hear his apologies. He got to go home and jerk off after seeing her boobs in a diaper. She wasn't giving him anything more than that.  

Most of the others snuck into the audience to watch how the play unfolded when their presence wasn't required, but Mandy stayed in her corner backstage and morosely watched the stagehands do their part running props on and off stage. She was involved in all of one scene before her grand killing-off, and she did it without much thought or enthusiasm before skulking back to her reclusive hideout. The first one wasn't anywhere near as mortifying as her spotlight scene - this one she got to do in a frilly princess outfit while sucking a pacifier and shaking a rattle. No problem. She wasn't even the focus of attention there, she was off to the side while the adults talked. Sure, she had to put up with the baby paraphernalia, but that was never the main issue. The issue was modelling her naked body. She could be wearing the sexiest thong in existence around her waist, but if there was nothing covering it, she'd have a problem.

Why did I get into acting, again? She bleakly wondered to herself as the applause at the end of the first act seamlessly dissolved into the opening of act two. Shakespeare? You've barely heard the name since you got here.

The rumination got worse as her moment to shine drew closer and closer.

Finally, she had to reluctantly slip away to the changing room a scene or two in advance of her own. The room was empty except for the girl sharing the stage with her, a chubby, bespeckled individual named Lisa. She was playing the mother, and she instantly jumped up from the her vanity table and rushed to Mandy to hug her tight. Mandy duly noted her makeup was only half finished as she did this, bestowing upon her the twisted resemblance of a psychotic clown.

"It'll be ok, Mandy," she exclaimed, rocking her partner back and forth reassuringly. "I know you've been having a hard time with this, but it'll be fine. Over and done with in ten minutes."

Mandy nodded limply in the other girl's arms.

Her lack of enthusiasm didn't dissuade Lisa. "Do you want a hand getting changed?" she asked gently, pulling away to look Mandy in the eye. "I know when I babysit and I let the older kids help diaper the younger ones, they can't do it for the life of them. The tapes are tricky, you know, so if you like - "

"I'm not a baby," she snapped...and instantly regretted it. Lisa's face fell dramatically, and she cursed herself for being so stupid. This poor girl was only trying to cheer her up. What was she doing?

"Look, I'm sorry," she sighed. She pulled Lisa back into a hug again, squeezing her apologetically. "I've been dreading this, you know? I didn't mean to take it out on you."

Lisa smiled weakly as she shrugged free. "I understand," she said in a sympathetic voice. "Let's just get changed, ok? It's almost show time."

"Sure. Ok."

They went their separate ways - Lisa returned to her table to finish her makeup, and Mandy stripped off everything but her bra and panties...and after a moment's hesitation, she removed those too. A minute later, she was diapered for the first time since she was three years old. She examined herself in the dressing room mirror and felt like crying. It was bad enough she had to be naked on stage. She had to look ridiculous as well? In a diaper, of all things? 

She didn't even resemble a baby. She resembled an idiot.

"You look cute," Lisa offered from the sidelines. 

"I look like a certain playwright's wet dream," Mandy said weakly. She couldn't take her eyes off herself in the mirror. She was going on a stage looking like this? Unconsciously, her hands crept to her breasts, keeping them out of her own sight. "I'm meant to go on stage like this? Really, Lisa?" 

Lisa snorted. "Ten minutes, remember?" she said. "That's it, then it's over. It's really not as bad as you're making it out to be. At the end of the day, it's art, anyway. People will get it."

"The art of the wet dream." 

"If you say so."

They didn't speak again till after their contribution to the show.

*

"Get ready," The stage director's voice whispered in her ear. "Any second now..." 

Mandy tensed, preparing for the mad rush on stage. She tried to block the stares she was getting from the prop team out of her mind. It would all be over soon enough. Lisa was right about that much. 

Ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck.

"In five...four...three...two...one..."

 The stage lights went out.

"Go!"

Mandy bit her lip, and went.

As always, there was the moment of silence as the props from the last scene were quietly swapped out for the ones in the next, and the actors rotated likewise. In those five seconds, it seemed as if the entire world was holding its breath in anticipation, and Mandy was sure that the thudding of her poor, overburdened heart must be perfectly audible to those even in the back row of the audience.  The crinkle of her diaper certainly had to be. She was positioned centre stage, so she had a decent enough distance to waddle across for her undergarment to announce its presence to the world. She fought back a cringe and failed. She sounded as ridiculous as she looked.

Now that the time had finally come, all the dread she had suffered through over the last month seemed inconsequential to what she was feeling now. She felt so naked and vulnerable wearing as little as she was, even with the darkness to hide it, and she almost felt physically sick. She was actually sweating, and considering how cold it was with how little she was wearing, that certainly said something. 

Ten minutes, remember? Ten. Minutes.

She forced a smile to her face and her hands to her sides. A good actor was one that seamlessly became the character they were portraying. A good actor wouldn't appear phased by the fact she was naked for the world to see, because she really was a baby and babies didn't care. Sure, they didn't have boobs either, but seeing as one Christian Somers didn't get that particular memo...

Either way, her marks depended on her being that good actor, so that particular line of thought ended right there.

There was an audible gasp from the audience as the lights shimmered into existence and the scene and its inhabitants revealed themselves. It could only be called a soft glow at best, but it was enough to illuminate both the set and its two residents. It was enough to breathe life and depth into the enchanted forest backdrop (outsourced and hand painted by the Bachelor of Illustration students), creating the illusion that Baby Mushroom really was drinking her bottle a top an enormous toad stool while Mama Mushroom tidied the kitchen off to the side. It was enough to bring Somers' imagination to life...

...and, of course, it was enough to inform everyone in the room that there was a topless lady on stage. 

Mandy struggled to maintain the dumb, content smile on her face as she suckled from her bottle. Any second now, she thought. She felt close to hysteria. Any second and the laughing will start. The whistles. There'll be some horny jock that'll make some dumb ass joke as loud as he can. Some old lady will get offended and huff and puff as she carries her kid out. Any second now...

But it never came. There was the gasp, and that was it. 

"All fine over there, Baby Mushroom?" Lily called over her shoulder in a sing-song voice as she fussed around the make believe there kitchen. She organised and re-organised a comically enormous amount of pots and pans a top a stove-top made to look as if it had grown out of a tree. She was making much more noise than was probably necessary as she did so, seemingly deliberately banging everything against everything. All to emphasise what was going on for those in the back who might not be able to see as well, of course.

"Yes mummy," Mandy answered around the nipple of her bottle, careful to lisp the 'yes' into a 'yeth' and to do it in a childish falsetto. "Almost done drinking (dwinking)." She shook her drink in a theatrically overblown manner to show the audience that yes, it was almost done.

How about now? Surely now.

On the inside, she was cringing like she'd never cringed before, but there was still no comment from the audience.

Maybe this really will be ok, she thought with dawning hope. Maybe Lisa was right. They DO get that it's just art.

The further lack of response from the room only inspired her. Her previous month of incessant mental torture momentarily forgotten, she threw herself into the role with newfound vigour, determined to make the most of her lapse in horror while she could. She was still mortified to be standing on stage with her boobs on display, but she could take advantage of the subdued reaction and force it down for the time being. Repress the thoughts, so to speak. She'd act better without it hanging over her head, and she could always stress later.

"Such a good girl," Lisa cooed. "Finish it all for mummy, ok sweetie?"

Mandy nodded obediently and did her best to smile cutely at her 'mother.' To her eternal shock, it actually earned a muffled 'naawh' response from a few people in the crowd. 

The pair continued their inane mother-baby banter for another minute as the focus shifted to the other side of stage beyond the door of their 'house,' where the group of marauding humans paused to discuss how they were going to go about their raid. Mandy discretely (but carefully) watched the audience during this transition, and was delighted to see that nearly every eye in the house moved to the newcomers and off of her. She was sitting on stage in a diaper and with her boobs on display, and people were too interested in the plot to notice! By now, her terror was long forgotten, and she was even beginning to enjoy herself a little. They didn't care!  

The rest of the scene passed in the blink of an eye after that. The band of thieves burst through the front door with all the grace of a beached whale, just as they had countless times during rehearsal. They shot Lisa dead in seconds, then turned their attention to the poor, innocent baby. Although she was now actually enjoying herself, Mandy put on her best horrified expression, and sprang to her feet to waddle away as fast as she could. She performed her dramatic trip-over-own-feet-and-fall-on-toad-stool routine flawlessly, threw a teary, pleading look over her shoulder...

...then played dead for the next few minutes after being shot herself while the raiders ransacked the house. They found the revered magic mushrooms, had their diabolical conference in the ruined kitchen, and then it was done. Mandy leapt to her feet the second the lights evaporated, sprinted to the wings, and then fought back a case of the giggles as she collapsed on a crate. Somers was standing just off to the side watching the play unfold, but she didn't care. It was done with, and it had gone ok. She hated to admit it, but somehow, everything had gone better than expected. It brought an enormous grin of relief to her face, even if the cause of her discomfort was standing only a meter away.

She flashed Lisa a thumbs up as she hurried by, then turned her attention to the infamous playwright. All the late nights in bed stressing and dreading the last few minutes had been for nothing. She had snapped and bitched at Lisa for nothing. The grudge against him had been for nothing. Everything. Unbelievably, the crowd had got it. Incredible.

Christian had been right all along.

She gave him a begrudging smile and awkwardly got back on her feet, being careful to cover her breasts simultaneously. She might still be wearing nothing more than a diaper, but she also owed him an apology.

Mandy opened her mouth to speak, but he waved it shut again. He pressed his index finger to his lips and gestured backstage with his other hand. The point was clear - be quiet and head out. 

She nodded and slipped in front of him. The next scene starting up as they made their way into the green room, and the horrified shrieks of Father Mushroom as he discovered his slain family was music to her ears. 

"Do you want to get a shirt before - " he began. 

She shook her head. "You've already seen it, and I'll only be a second," she said. 

A faint smile graced his lips, and he crossed his own arms as he observed her. "Not so bad then?" he prompted. There was a glint in his eyes, visible even in the backstage twilight.

She shook her head reluctantly. "I guess not," she looked down at her boobs, still hidden in her crossed arms, then resumed eye contact. As far as she could tell, he had yet to break it, and she appreciated that. He really wasn't so bad after all. "I'm sorry. I guess I overreacted." 

He shrugged. "I get it, Mandy," he said. He slumped down on the carpet against the wall, and after a moment she joined him, careful not to unhand her feminine parts in the process. "It was a shitty role, and I get it. I'm sorry it was you, but someone had to do it."

"I s'pose you're right," she offered in return. She was determined to ensure there were no hard feelings between them. "It's just art. Yeah, I looked ridiculous in this...thing, and my boobs were the centre of attention, but people got it. I wasn't expecting that. And, well, you know..."

Cue moment of awkward silence.

"You thought I was just putting in a character to perv on. That it wasn't serious."

She winced. "Something like that, yeah."

Cue second moment of awkward silence.

He turned to face her after that brief hesitation, and to her surprise he actually winked at her. It was perhaps the most lecherous and off-putting expression Mandy had even seen, or at least had had directed at her. She requested the urge to shift uncomfortably. What? "Maybe I did," he said. "Maybe I have a thing for uni girls in diapers. Maybe you were right all along and I do get off to all of this."

...huh?

She could practically feel her face becoming stony. "Look, I just apologised," she began. "And I mean that, so don't even joke about it. I was wrong to accuse you of...well, that. It did fit the scene, and - "

"Ok, Mandy," he abruptly interrupted. Before she could protest, he had jumped to his feet. "I have another scene shortly I want to watch. How about we leave it at that? You've been impossible to work with for the last month, and to be totally honest, I'm not interested in hearing it right now."

She winced. No hard feelings indeed. "Okay."

He hesitated, then a sly grin crossed his face. It was as random and discomforting as the wink had been. "I'll see you on the review tape," he said in parting, and threw in another wink for good measure.

Her jaw dropped. "Christian Somers, you better hope to God you are NOT saying what I think - "

But he was gone, vanishing back into the shadowed hallways of the wings. 

Did...did he just...

Review tape?

That couldn't be a real thing. Surely.

Lisa was sitting in the opposite corner and was in the process of removing her costume when Mandy hurried over. She looked up as the half-naked girl approached, and she smile widely in greeting. Mandy felt like screaming. All the good cheer she had accumulated the last few minutes was gone. Now was not the time for smiling.

"Hey!" the seated girl said brightly. "You did it! See, that wasn't so bad, was it? You were really convincing, you can't have found it that bad considering how well you - "

"Lisa," Mandy said weakly. She was sweating again, she realised. This was ridiculous. "Was this taped? Please tell me this wasn't taped." 

Mama Mushroom hesitated. "Well," she said. "I did notice they have a reel set up at the back of the theatre, although I've never heard of our Bachelor getting the tape back afterwards. Maybe the Writing degree has access to it, or it might just be for the assessors. I don't really know."

Oh I bet they have access to it. Access to my fucking tits.

"Oh fuck," she muttered to herself. The high she'd been riding on abruptly disappeared like it never existed. 

I'll see you on the tape.

Suddenly, she couldn't think of a creepier thing one person could possibly say to another.

"Mandy?" Lisa was saying. "Are you ok? You did great, you know. Even if it is recorded somewhere, it's only going to show how good a job you did. You had me fooled, it was just like babysitting my - "

"I'm going to get dressed," Mandy said. "Then I'm going home, and I'm never wearing a diaper again, ok? Not while Christian fucking Somers is within a mile of me." 

And that's what she did. And she didn't.

One time was all it took to be immortalised on video, though.

*

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of how Mandy Young, the aspiring actress who never wanted to do anything more than re-enact Macbeth or Othello, ended up in the private, fetish porn gallery of a certain playwright. She never managed to actually confirm that happened, but really, was it that far fetched? Sure, the audience 'got it,' and the play itself apparently got a decent mark from the assessor...but at the end of the day, was it really necessary for her costume to be as revealing as it had been? 

She thought not, and the winks and leers she started to get from Christian when they bumped into each other around campus were telling enough in their own right.

Mandy got a Distinction from her own assessor for her part in A Gathering of Faeires, but if failing was what it took to be positive that the creepy writing student wasn't masturbating at night to her frolicking around stage in a diaper, drinking from a bottle and baby talking her 'mother', she would gladly trade her mark in for a big, fat fail.

Just art. 

Sure.

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