Bad Hair Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


Another Hair Anthology piece. Set after the creature known as Follicle has taken over the world. Let me know what you think.

Submitted: August 01, 2018

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Submitted: August 01, 2018

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No one knows how it started, or where it came from. No one was ready for it. All our technology and glorious war machines and they were no damned good. I used to enjoy watching zombie apocalypse movies until I was in one. Difference between reality and fantasy I suppose, is being cocooned in comfort and a voyeur to disaster. Unlike a movie it sucks having to live in a world without all the things you once took for granted, like flicking a switch to turn on the light, or running water, and food on demand. Damn I miss salami, not that I could eat it anyway with the baby.

End of the world, but it isn’t zombies.

I’ve heard all the theories. Alien; monster, bioweapon, something we disturbed, mother nature’s revenge. Personally, I don’t think it’s from this world. It’s too weird. But Dad says that a parasite that bonds so successfully with its host probably evolved within the same biosphere. Yeah, he talks that way. He’s a scientist. Industrial chemist. Or he was before the world turned to crap.

We’re trying to learn how to fight it. Because, it’s far worse than zombies. Zombies are stupid. That’s how the hero wins in the end. Finds a way to trick them. Finds a way to hide somewhere until all the corpses fall over and starts civilization again.

This thing is smart. What was it Dad said? ‘Crazy like a fox’.

It’s smart, but it doesn’t talk, not with its mouth anyway. We’ve read the notes left by people it’s taken over. Hosts, victims, whatever. They plead, say they tried to kill themselves and it stopped them. We know, at a certain point, it starts communicating with its host. The notes are where we got its name: Follicle.

Only smart things have names.

Dad thinks it could communicate, if it wanted to. The infected, when completely taken over, just laugh insanely, like a hyena. It’s chilling when the hair pulls back and you see the black froth streaming out their eyes like tears. See the long black glistening hair falling to their feet that moves on its own.

I heard Follicle laugh for the first time on a television broadcast, when we still had TV. Sent a shiver down my spine then and still does every time I hear it. Spread out across the city, echoing at us from every direction in the darkness of the night. Used a telescope one night. Up in the roof garden, hiding behind the tomatoes. Saw all the infected up on rooftops, laughing and dancing. No really. They were dancing, I swear it. Under the full moon like a witch’s coven or something.

You don’t see them during the day. They mostly come out at night, mostly. Hell, that sounds familiar. Where was that from? Some movie. Whatever. Follicle just laughs as if the world is a joke.

It also likes certain kinds of animals. Mammals, animals with hair. I used to be a cat person. Guess that’s over. I’ve never seen it in a bird or lizard. I found a rat in the garden today and killed it with a shovel. Was going to eat it, until I saw the black strands, the wriggling hair. I put it in a plastic bag and threw it off the roof.

Confession time dear diary. I found a big black hair on the back of my hand this morning. Ripped it out and swore like a sailor when I poured bleach on my hand.

See, I can’t move around as well as I used to, this baby makes me feel like a whale. So, Dad and Glen would climb down during the day and look for supplies in the city, while I would tend the garden that keeps us alive.

Glen. God, I haven’t wanted to write his name because I can’t think of him without the waterworks starting. Love of my life, father of the child inside me. Words aren’t enough, even with the tears dripping off my nose.

Now it’s just Dad, me, the baby inside me and maybe this fucking uninvited parasite.

Dad has a theory that chemotherapy drugs might kill it. People lose their hair when they take chemotherapy. He’s been stockpiling different chemo drugs, just in case. The drugs attack fast-growing cells within the body, and Follicle grows fast. Most people are gone in a week. Dad says he read somewhere that some of the drugs are okay to use beyond the first trimester. Didn’t know which ones. Can’t just look it up. Google is gone.

Even after finding the hair, even after my temperature soared, I still didn’t want to try them. I’ve seen my daughter on a scan before the world went to shit, heard her heartbeat, felt her move. What a choice. Try and save my own life and maybe kill my unborn daughter in the process. Have to try. Even if there is a slim chance that the drugs will kill Follicle and leave my daughter alive, I have to take it.

I’m pretty out of it right now. Dad gave me something, trying to bring my temperature down. But I’m also numb. Emotionally numb, like it’s happening to someone else. Dad’s doing what he can, but I can see the despair in his face he’s trying to hide. He’s already lost mom. Five years ago, the big C. If we go, he’ll be alone. I don’t know what he’d do, I’m afraid to ask. I have to stop now. Crying too much. Need to blow my nose.

* * *

Dear diary,

I don’t think the chemotherapy is working. Dad is hopeful. I haven’t blacked out yet. Haven’t heard anything in my head. No black froth coming out my eyes and no sign of black hair on my shaved head. But I can feel slow changes. Dad wants to increase the dosage. Walk the tightrope between enough chemo to kill Follicle and not kill the baby.

He left the drugs by the bed. I told him I’d sleep on it. They are sitting there, mocking my fears right now.

Fuck you chemo. Fuck you. You will hurt my baby if I take too much of you.

The change isn’t painful, feels like a cold. Sore throat, temperature, itchy bloodshot eyes. Maybe it is just a cold, or maybe it’s the chemo drugs. God I hope so, but I know I’m deluding myself. It’s in me. I’m infected.

If it was just me I think I’d kill myself. Just say goodbye, take the gun and end it. Dad can see it in my face. He said he doesn’t want me to quit. Says we fight for our kids until we can’t fight any more.

He’s been collecting the notes the victims leave behind looking for clues. I’m not supposed to see them, he doesn’t want me to read all the terrible things written on them, but I snuck downstairs and stole a few when he went out looking for supplies.

He was right. I should not have read the notes.

They all start out like this diary. Lucid, normal, or this new world fucked up version of normal anyway. Then every so often there’s a word or two written in a different handwriting, that doesn’t match the context. Crazy shit. And you know just reading it that the writer didn’t even know it was there. That they’d skipped over it.

I went back over what I’ve written. No crazy shit yet, so maybe the drugs are keeping Follicle contained.

Last one I read was a man. Holed up somewhere in the city with his family when Follicle got into him. Hadn’t shaved his head. Didn’t know until it was too late. Tried to kill himself with a knife and the hair gripped his arms. When that didn’t work asked his wife to do it for him. She couldn’t do it either. Couldn’t get close, every time she did his hair would move and he didn’t want her infected. The guy ended up locking himself in the basement and blacking out. Woke up in the kitchen lying in a pool of blood with his wife’s decapitated head resting on his chest. Freaked out. 

Then he said he heard the voice. Said it sounded like the little blue alien from that Disney movie with the Hawaiian girl. Follicle swirling, can you hear the music? The many strands? Dancing so nice, red wetness so nice, chasing the food so fun. Crazy shit, right?

I haven’t heard the voice yet, but one thing I noticed. The voice doesn’t appear until after you black out, and I haven’t done that yet.

Time to walk the tightrope. Fuck you chemo.

God. I’ve never asked you for anything. I’m asking now. Please keep my baby safe.

* * *

Dear Diary,

I heard the voice for the first time today.

Four weeks we kept Follicle at bay with the chemo drugs. I knew it couldn’t be long. Dad keeps flinching when he looks at me. My eyes have gone completely black and the two inches of hair on my head is moving. But my daughter is still kicking, She’s still alive.

WHY FOLLICLE STRAND SO SLEEPY? That’s what I heard inside my head.

Asked Dad to handcuff me, told him to get the gun and keep it on him at all times. To wear his hazmat suit. I think I am contagious now.

I thought about the date. My daughter is due at Christmas. Halloween passed a few days ago. She might live if Dad cuts her out now. Babies have been born more premature than that and survived. But that was with modern medical care. How is Dad meant to manage? All by himself, no electricity. My baby will probably die if we try it. I want her to live. It’s all I can think about now. She needs to live and go on living. She needs to survive this end of the world crap.

You do anything for your kids.

So, I’m going to do something crazy. I’m going to try and talk to it, like the notes. See if he’ll write things down. I want to know if Follicle can be bargained with. I’m overdue for my chemo now, and I can feel the stubborn hair moving on my scalp again. It’s time to try.

Follicle. Hey!

SLEEPY NO DANCE NOW.

Hey! I want to talk to you.

SHHH FOLLICLE NO HEAR SONG OF MANY STRANDS.

I’m trying to kill you Follicle.

WHAT IS KILL?

Dead. Cease to be. End.

YOU SILLY. FOLLICLE NOT END. TOO MANY STRANDS. FOLLICLE EVERYWHERE.

What does that mean?  You. You inside me. I can kill you.

YOU NOT WANT FOLLICLE INSIDE? YOU NOT WANT DANCE AND SONG AND RED WETNESS TASTY?

No. I don’t.

FOLLICLE NOT GO. FOLLICLE LIKE. FIND FOOD LATER. REST NOW. CHANGE TIRING. 

No. Talk to me dammit. You want to know why changing me is so hard? I have drugs to kill you, burn you out of me.

MANY TRY BURNY. MANY TRY STABBY AND BANG AND SPLODE. FOLLICLE SPREAD. FOLLICLE STRANDS STILL GROW. ALL OVER ROUNDNESS.

Wait. Are you connected to everyone you infect?

MANY STRANDS. ALL OVER BLUE GREEN ROUNDNESS. WHAT IS INFECT?

Infection. That’s what you are. A parasite. You invade my body, and I kill you with the drugs. See the drugs Follicle? That’s what you do isn’t it? See with the eye’s when they go black. You’ve been trying to take me over. You normally only take a few days to take someone over. That’s why you are taking longer with me, because of the drugs, and if I take enough, I kill you.

WHY NOT? END STRAND. FOLLICLE NOT CARE. FOLLICLE HAVE MANY STRANDS.

Because if I do I might kill my daughter. I’d cut her out if I could. But it’s too soon. She won’t survive.

WHAT IS DAUGHTER?

My child. Growing inside me. She’s been growing inside me for seven months. Look. She’s moving. She is alive. I want her to stay that way.

YOU HAVE TWO BEATS. ONE FAST ONE SLOW. FOLLICLE SEE THIS BEFORE. NOT KNOW WHAT MEAN. FAST BEAT IS TASTY.

Screw you. Touch her and die.

DAUGHTER NOT FOOD?

No. Not if you want to live.

WHAT MEAN?

I mean if you stop trying to take me over for a while, I’ll let you live. I’ll let you have me, I won’t resist. I’ll trade her life for mine.

WHY?

Because you do anything for your kids.

YOU WANT FOLLICLE SLEEP? FAST BEAT DAUGHTER LEAVE. THEN YOU TAKE BURNY DRUGS. KILL STRAND.

No. I think it might kill me to try. I can’t undo what you’ve already done. I promise.

Hey! Answer me.

YES. FOLLICLE SLEEP TILL NEXT ROUND BRIGHTNESS. TILL FAST BEAT DAUGHTER GONE. THEN WE DANCE.

* * *

Follicle kept its promise. It stopped trying to take me over and I stopped taking the chemo drugs to give my daughter the best chance to be born healthy. Dad’s been researching C-sections. Says he can do it. The only change in those four weeks was my hair grew fast; down to my waist. This morning Dad noticed my eyes changed colour overnight. Instead of solid black, there were these strange patches of moving white. We don’t know what it means. We’ve never seen that before in any infected.

I tried talking to Follicle again and it didn’t answer. Yelled inside my head to ask what was happening. Nothing. Tried pulling out a hair to wake it up, and when it came away in my hand, it was white. Platinum stripper blonde and I heard a sleepy girls voice in my head.

Mommy?

Dad agreed to do the C-section.

Numbed the skin, made the cut, and out she came, quiet as a mouse. No screaming. With a full head of long white hair that moved on its own. She turned and focused eyes of swirling black and white on me and smiled. And that’s when the door crashed in and an infected burst into the room laughing that hyena laugh.

I thought we were dead, but the hair on my head moved. And the hair on my daughter’s head moved. Where it touched the infected he went from black to white like turning on the lights. And the man inside the hair broke down and cried tears of joy. I heard him in my head. Just like I hear my daughter. We’re all connected.

Follicle sent more strands. There are dozens of Whitehairs now.

My daughter. Gwyn. Saviour of the fucking planet.

Let’s dance Follicle.


© Copyright 2018 Julian St Aubyn Green. All rights reserved.

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