A Precise Cut

Horror story featuring gore and hair loss. TW: Hemophobia, trichophobia, and peladophobia. For 18+

Summary: Be careful where you get your haircut.

8 minutes

Sweet, silky blonde, so beautiful was the braid trailing from her skull. Like the leaves of a weeping willow, it swayed side to side as she walked in and sounded the bell above the door. I was caught, barely looked her in the face, enraptured as I was.

Directing her to a chair, I moved as hastily as my weak knees would allow and stood behind her. At first I didn’t dare touch. I kept my shaking hands by my hips. What if its perfection only existed in my mind? Like art made of glass, a single touch would surely shatter the illusion. But if not… How could I let such an opportunity pass by? I’d seen so much hair in my lifetime: Braids, up-dos, curls, crimples, blunt-cuts. Each beautiful in their own ways. This was different. I had been alone an hour before she wandered in. What was that if not fate?

Setting my glasses down to hang over my breast, I looked at the reflection of her face in the mirror. I couldn’t see any features, simply blurred flesh, a canvas on which I could project the exact image I wanted. She spoke at length, expressing her gratitude that I had no other customers to see to, that I could ‘fix her emergency’ without an appointment, how the hair had become quite tiresome.

Tiresome! Didn’t she recognise what she had? My word, it grew past her hips! It lay elegantly down the back of the chair, nearly reaching the floor. Despite being bound so tightly, it remained luxurious. It caught the shine from the shop lights.

Feeling my heart flutter in my chest like a caged bird, I moved to the door. I locked it and flipped the sign in the window to CLOSED. Then I moved back behind her chair, took the braid in both hands. I could hear the hair screaming. It was in agony at being bound. I pulled it loose, working my fingers through it, massaging the pain away. And oh! Oh, it was as soft as dreams. Utterly, utterly perfect. How could anyone call it tiresome? This woman was neglectful, that’s what she was! Abusive. Ungrateful. Pig-headed. I have a grandchild with alopecia. Eight years old. Not a fibre on her sweet little head. She craved hair. She would give up a limb to have what this woman had.

Tiresome. The word rattled in my mind. I had to do something. It would have been a crime to let the torture continue, when my own flesh and blood deserved what this woman would so easily discard.

I offered tea, which she refused at first to feign politeness, but I pretended not to hear. At my age, I’m so often deaf and so often underestimated that it’s easy to fool others. My hands are worn and leathery, my cutting grown slow and inaccurate over the years, but for the sake of rescuing the hair, I held them steady as I dropped a sleeping pill in the woman’s tea. I took it back to her on a tray which shook in my hands. The teacup rattled atop its saucer.

As the woman drank, I combed her hair and spoke to her about as if she were my grandchild. Without my glasses, I could paint her flesh canvas into my grandchild’s face. I put my glasses back on to make the first few cuts, tidying the ends that were frayed and in need of love.

“I want it very short,” the woman said around a yawn.

It was just a matter of waiting. Soon her head dropped forward. Asleep.

I set the scissors aside and went into the back room to fetch a scalpel and three ribbons. I bound her wrists to the arms of the chair so she wouldn’t slip onto the floor. I didn’t bound her as tightly as she had her hair. I am kind, see? She wouldn’t feel confined. She wouldn’t scream. She would get exactly what she hoped for. And she wouldn’t feel a thing.

The third ribbon went around her neck, which I held in one hand, so I could pull her head up. In my other hand, I picked up the scalpel. This is when slow hands have their uses. I began the incision at the top of the head in the centre of the forehead. The skin was as thin as paper. The blade went in easily. Blood swelled from the cut, so bright and red that it made me pause. I loosened my hold on the ribbon. The stranger’s head dropped forward. The blood dribbled down over her eyes, caking her eyelashes. There was no sign of it slowing. I would simply have to work through it.

I pulled the ribbon taut again, and continued the incision. I was right-handed, so I began with the easiest side. Sweeping the blade down to the right, the flesh leaned away from each other. Almost like unzipping a coat. Then I went behind the ear and around the neck – here, I loosened my grip on the ribbon again, carefully, so the head dipped forward just enough to expose her nape, which was now red with blood. Bits of it clogged together, forming crusty red grit. I stopped at the peak of the spine and returned to my place at the top of the head to do the same again but going left.

That was more difficult. I had to swap hands. My right had was slippy with blood, so the ribbon kept sliding out of my grip. My left head was weaker. The blade kept getting stuck.

But I was careful. Not a single, precious follicle was hurt, not one root left behind, oh-so careful as I was. The cut was precise. It took me hours before I could split the flesh from the skull and free those screaming roots from their torturous master. The sounded and looked like peeling up sticky tape that had been sat too long.

There was, of course, the issue of storage, though no sooner had I thought of the problem, I had a solution. A fridge, in the back, where I’d placed a packed lunch for the day in a plastic bag. I went into the back room again. As I reached for the fridge door, there was muffled cry from behind me. I turned. Hunched in the corner of the corner, zip-tied to a shelf, was the hairdresser. His eyes bulged. Snot and tears streaked down his cheeks, which puffed under the pressure of the tape over his mouth.

I looked down at myself. I looked an awful mess. There was blood on the front of my blouse, on the knuckles of my fingers, and under my nails. I walked past the hairdresser to the sink. He pressed himself closer to the wall to keep out of my path.

“Thank you, dear,” I said, managing a stiff curtesy. I scrubbed at the blood in my clothing, though it was no use.

The hair was waiting for me. I could hear it whimpering. I shouldn’t have left it alone with its former master. I took my bagged lunch out of the fridge and went back into the front to rescue it. I removed my lunch from the bag and placed the hair and flesh gently inside, streaking the clear plastic red.

Quite exhausted after the whole affair, I sat in the front of the store and ate my sandwich. In the back, the hairdresser continued to make soft, snivelling sounds. I paid him no mind and instead pondered the hairless stranger. Without her hair, she was certainly a hideous creature. I took off my glasses and in the haze of my aged eyes, she looked like a large rose bud.

After I ate my sandwich, I returned to the back room to search for a box to put the hair in. The shop had a delievery recently. I cleared out a box of branded shampoo bottles and gently placed the bag of hair and flesh inside.

Which is when I realised my mistake.

When I was picturing my granddaughter’s face on that stranger, it was easy to see how the hair would fit her. Only my grandchild wasn’t a grown woman. No. She – she was barely bigger than the box I’d packed the hair into. The hair would surely trip her. Or it would be too heavy for her delicate little neck. That wouldn’t do. It wouldn’t do at all.

The hairdresser watched me, his body rocking with the force of his breathing, each breath leaving his nostrils like the chug of a train engine. I glared at him and…


I hadn’t noticed before. Too focused on sneaking in, tying him up, but… there it was. Short, dark, delicate curls. Crimpled as a browning leaf. Light as air.

He had nice hair too.

If you liked this (or would prefer something less gorey) you might like my other horror/thrillers: Artificial Light, Home Not Safe, and A Countdown Halved.

You read to the end! I tip my hat to you.

If you liked this, let me know 🙂


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