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Cathryn Price reclined back into her leather armchair, stretching out her long, slender legs, and kicking off her shoes. She raised her arms up into the air, before bringing them up behind her head to rest against her neck. Letting out a long sigh, she pushed her long, chestnut-coloured hair upward and allowed her fingers to run through her shoulder-length tresses. It had been an exceedingly stressful day! As she sat there with her eyes closed, quietly relaxing to some soothing classical music, she soon fell asleep.

She was abruptly woken by the sound of her front doorbell. Struggling to come round from deep sleep, she rose to her feet and automatically walked towards the front door. As she approached, she glanced at her watch and was amazed to see that it was half past eight! Had she been asleep for two hours?

Cathryn opened the door. Outside stood an unfamiliar young woman holding a holdall.

“Cathryn Price?” The stranger asked.

“Errr, yes?” Cathryn answered.

“Hi, I’m Kirsty?” She announced, puzzled by Cathryn’s obvious bewilderment. “From Trimmers?” She added.

“I’m sorry, Kirsty from where?” Cathryn asked, still recovering in a dream-like state.

“Trimmers. You requested a home visit?” Kirsty explained, “Unfortunately, Debbie has taken ill and so I’m attending her calls this evening.” Cathryn’s face changed as she realised what this was about.

“Oh, Trimmers!” She exclaimed. “Oh, I’m sorry, of course my hair appointment. Please, come on inside.” Cathryn held the door wide open and invited her into the hallway.

“I thought I had the wrong address for a moment.” Kirsty said.

“I am sorry,” replied Cathryn, “but I fell asleep and I wasn’t really with it .” She closed the door. “You say Debbie’s ill.” Debbie was her regular stylist, and had talked Cathryn into accepting a home visit service after Cathryn had told her how busy her working life was. Now, having agreed to the idea, she was somewhat disappointed that another stylist had arrived instead. However, it would be rude to turn her away Cathryn thought.

“Yes, she took bad this afternoon and had to go home. I don’t think it’s serious. Just a stomach bug, you know?”

“These things happen.” Cathryn said in a resigned tone. “If the salon had rang me and told me, I would have told them not to worry about coming out. After all, you can’t help it if you fall ill can you?” In her heart, Cathryn was not entirely comfortable with the idea of allowing Kirsty loose on her hair. Had she have known a replacement stylist was coming out, she would have definitely cancelled the appointment.

“No, you can’t. But never mind, I’m here now.” Kirsty replied. “So where will I be operating?” She asked, keen to get on.

“Through there, in the kitchen.” Cathryn pointed. “There’s plenty of space, and it has a tiled floor.” Kirsty smiled and walked through. Cathryn walked behind her, trying to remember seeing Kirsty in the salon. She couldn’t.

“This is perfect,” Kirsty said as she entered the kitchen, “I’ll set up there, by the breakfast bar. Shall we use one of these chairs?” She asked pulling out a high-backed chair from the breakfast table.

“Yes, that would be okay.” Cathryn answered. “I’m sorry I’m not better prepared for you. To be honest, I fell asleep when I came home and so I haven’t had chance to get anything ready.”

“Don’t worry.” Kirsty enthusiastically replied. ” Once you’re seated you can doze off again if you like! I’ll wake you when I’ve finished eh?” She busied herself emptying her holdall contents onto the breakfast bar, and then positioned the chair near to her makeshift station. “Okay, I’m ready for you. Come and take a seat.”

“Oh, right, okay then.” Cathryn felt nervous as she approached the chair. Kirsty stood menacingly behind it, holding a black cape over her arm, and smiling broadly. With some degree of resignation, Cathryn lowered herself into the chair. The cape whooshed around her in an instant, and she felt it tighten around her neck. Her beloved hair was gently pulled free and allowed to hang loose down her back.

“I’ll just fill my spray bottle with some water,” Kirsty said, “and then I’ll make a start.” Cathryn watched her walk over to the sink, still unable to picture her at the salon. It was strange because Kirsty had naturally blonde hair, precisely cut into a stunning chin-length bob. It was very distinctive and should have been memorable? Cathryn could only recall one blonde girl at the shop and that was the shampoo girl, and certainly wasn’t Kirsty? Just as Cathryn was going to quiz her about it, Kirsty’s mobile phone rang.

“Excuse me for a second.” Kirsty said, as she pulled the phone from her holdall.

“That’s fine.” Cathryn reassured her.

“Hello…..oh, hi…….yes, I’m with a client, what’s up?……right? ..oh, no……..where are you?………that’s just round the corner from where I am……..yes…….well, come and get it from me…..yes, it’s 15 Springvale Close……yes, fifteen……okay, see you in a minute, bye.”

“Trouble?” Cathryn asked.

“No, not really. There’s two of us working tonight, and her clippers have packed up.” Kirsty explained. “She’s only round the corner, so I’ve told her to come round and get mine. I hope you don’t mind?” She added, returning to filling up her spray bottle.

“No, not at all. You won’t be needing clippers here anyway will you?” Cathryn joked.

“Well, not unless you have something radical in mind?” Kirsty replied. “In which case, she can always hang on and wait for me to finish with them?” Cathryn was slightly unnerved that her humour had been met with such a matter of fact reply, and felt the need to make her feelings clear.

“I don’t think so, I love my long hair too much.” Cathryn insisted, “There’s no way I would have it cut short.!” Kirsty gave her a dismissive look as she returned from the sink, screwing the spray bottle back together as she walked. She gave the trigger a couple of pulls until a mist of water sprayed into the air.

“Right then, let’s get started.” She announced, standing behind caped Cathryn. With a few pulls of the trigger, a cloud of damp mist descended onto Cathryn’s head, and she felt Kirsty begin to comb through her cherished locks. “What am I doing for you tonight then Cathryn?” She asked.

“Oh, well, trimming the ends really.” Cathryn answered. “Just taking off the split ends, and giving it a general tidy up.” She was anxious to limit Kirsty to cutting off the absolute minimum. She could always visit Debbie in a couple of weeks if she felt more needed to be cut.

“Keeping the same style then, side parting and all?” Kirsty asked.

“Yes.” Cathryn relaxed a little as her new hairdresser obediently took her instruction. Her body eased in the chair, as Kirsty continued to spray and comb her hair. Just then, the front doorbell chimed.

“That’ll be my colleague,” Kirsty said, “do you mind if I get that?”

“No, not at all. I’m not expecting anyone.” Kirsty walked out of the kitchen, heading for the front door. Cathryn could hear voices in the hallway as Kirsty let her friend in. The voices grew louder until they entered the kitchen.

“I’ll just get them out of my bag for you,” Kirsty told her friend, “this is Cathryn, Cathryn this is Suzanne.”

“Hello Suzanne, nice to meet you.” Cathryn said. Again, she did not recognise this second stylist from the salon. This puzzled Cathryn. Surely she would have seen at least one of them before?

“Hi Cathryn, sorry about this.” Suzanne replied, as she walked over.

“Do you work at Trimmers too?” Cathryn asked.

“Do you want all the attachments and combs?” Kirsty interrupted. “Come and see what you need.” Suzanne ignored Cathryn’s question and walked past her to where Kirsty had placed her bag. Still sat in the chair, caped and with her hair damp from the water spray, all Cathryn could do was to politely wait for the two to finish. Facing forward, she was unable to see the pair of them, but could clearly h
ear them discussing what Suzanne needed to take with her.

Without any warning, Cathryn felt a strap pass over her head and down onto her chest. It suddenly tightened with a jerk, and pressed her hard against the back of the chair. At the same time, she was aware of something being tied around her ankles, also securing both of her legs to the chair.

“What are you doing?” She exclaimed. She received no answer, but could hear the sound of packaging tape being torn. From nowhere, a hand forcibly applied a strip of wide duct tape across her mouth, muffling any further questions and silencing any calls for help!

“There you go,” she heard Suzanne say to Kirsty, “easy as pie!” Cathryn struggled in the chair, but the restraints prevented much movement. Her frustrations were vented as muffled groans through the tape across her mouth. She wondered what the hell these two were playing at? If this was their idea of a prank then Cathryn was unimpressed, and Trimmers would certainly be receiving a complaint about it in the morning!

“Is that tight enough?” Kirsty asked Suzanne, as Cathryn felt the strap across her chest get pulled slightly.

“Oh yes, she won’t be going anywhere for a while.” Cathryn heard Suzanne assure her. “No, she’s all mine now. I’ve waited for this for a long time.” She added with a sense of satisfaction. Cathryn felt a palm rest on the top of her head. Then, slowly, the hand moved and Cathryn felt fingers run through her hair. “Do you remember me Cathryn Price?” Suzanne asked her. Unable to speak, Cathryn tried to turn her head round, but her questioner remained out of line of sight. “I remember you Cathryn Price! I remember you very well indeed.”

Cathryn was starting to feel quite nervous about this situation now. The mood now had a sinister undertone, and what she at first thought was a daft wind up was beginning to feel more threatening. Suzanne suddenly stepped out in front of her, squatting slightly to be at eye level.

“You can’t imagine how surprised and delighted I was when I saw you at the salon. Miss fancy-pants Price having her precious locks teased. There you were, as usual, bragging about yourself. What was it? Oh yes, the new marketing campaign which you have been put in charge of. Then you bragged about your new company car……an Audi, I believe? Then there was the skiing holiday you had in January, and the trip to America you’re taking in July? That poor girl couldn’t shut you up could she? It was all me, me, me!”

Cathryn stared at Suzanne completely bewildered. She still couldn’t remember seeing her at the salon, but she clearly remembered discussing all of these things with Debbie. How did Suzanne know all this? Where had she been? Suzanne smiled as she could see Cathryn’s mind racing.

“Yes, you remember saying it all don’t you? The trouble was that everyone could hear you going on about yourself Cathryn. What a bore you are!” Suzanne stood up again, folded her arms, and grinned down at Cathryn. “You were so busy talking about how wonderful you are, you didn’t even bother to think who might be listening did you? Especially when you were arranging a home visit. Hearing you give out your home address, and planning the date and time. What a golden opportunity eh?”

Suzanne slowly walked around to stand behind Cathryn again. She then spoke softly into Cathryn’s right ear.

“Don’t worry, I phoned up and cancelled tonight’s appointment for you. Debbie won’t be coming!” Suzanne let out a laugh and, again, ran her fingers through Cathryn’s damp hair. “I spoke to the receptionist. She was very understanding.” Cathryn pulled her head away from Suzanne’s fingers and struggled against her restraints again, hoping they may give a little. Her futile attempts were met with more laughter from Suzanne.

“You have lovely hair Cathryn,” Suzanne continued, “so long and wavy. Then again, you always did have nice hair didn’t you? Once more, Cathryn felt Suzanne’s fingers crawl slowly through her tresses, and the tips of her fingernails scratch against her scalp. “Isn’t it nice Kirsty?” She asked her accomplice.

“It’s too long for my liking.” Kirsty answered abruptly.

“Maybe?” Suzanne mused in a dreamy voice, whilst still combing through Cathryn’s mane with her fingers. “But, boys like long hair don’t they Cathryn? Makes you look much more feminine, doesn’t it Cathryn?” The delicate touch of her fingers turned to gentle pulling, which progressively became rougher. “Yes, when you have hair as nice as Cathryn, you can toss your gorgeous long locks around and turn the head of whatever boy you fancy Kirsty.”

“I don’t care, I still think it’s too long.”

“Well, that’s where you and Cathryn seem to be in agreement. Why else would she want Debbie to come round and cut it for her?” Suzanne moved to stand in front of Cathryn again. She reached down and ripped off the tape covering her mouth. The sudden sting of pain brought tears to Cathryn’s eyes. At last, she was able to confront her aggressor!

“What do you want with me? Who are you? She cried, as she tried again to struggle free of her restraints. Suzanne just smiled down at her.

“It’ll come to you,” Suzanne answered her, “you just need to give it some careful thought, that’s all. Stop thinking about yourself for one minute, and think about all those whose feelings you’ve trampled over during your sweet existence!”

“Look, if I’ve offended you then I’m sorry. I’m very sorry! But I don’t know what I’ve done! Tell me what I’ve done?”

“Like I said, it will come to you.” Suzanne looked across at Kirsty. “Well, I suppose we’d better get on with this then?”

“Okay.” Kirsty replied from behind Cathryn, who now became very uneasy with what the two of them intended to do.

“Get on with what exactly?” Cathryn asked Suzanne, as she walked back past her. At first, she did not receive a reply. Then she felt hands grasping her hair, pulling it up into a ponytail. She heard the distinctive sound of a rubber band being wrapped around the base of the gathered ponytail.

“Well Cathryn, if Debbie isn’t coming round tonight, and you still want your hair cutting, then I suppose I’ll have to do it for you?” Suzanne finally answered her. Cathryn could feel the ponytail secured tight against her scalp.

“Don’t you dare touch my hair!” She shouted. “Don’t you dare think about cutting it!” Her warning was met by the ominous sound of scissor blades opening and closing, as Suzanne flaunted them in front of Cathryn’s face.

“I don’t think you’re in a position to tell anyone what to do Cathryn.” Suzanne sternly retorted, pulling the ponytail hard and taught. “Your pretty world is about to get awful ugly Miss Price!” Before Cathryn could voice any further protests, she felt the scissor blades slide against her scalp and into her thick, luxurious hair.

“No!” She screamed. But the blades savagely chewed through the base of the ponytail, and suddenly the pain of the hair pulling ceased instantly. Kirsty gasped as Suzanne held the severed ponytail away from Cathryn’s head. She waved it triumphantly in front of her victim’s face.

“You cannot begin to imagine how satisfying that is.” She exclaimed. “God, have I waited so long to do something like that!” Her face beamed with delight as she stared at the mass of chestnut-coloured hair hanging from her fist.

“Why are you doing this to me?!” Pleaded Cathryn, with tears rolling down her cheeks. Suzanne just brushed Cathryn’s face with the ponytail, before dumping it on her caped lap.

“I haven’t even started yet, you slut!” Came the curt reply. “I have an entire makeover planned for you, and I’ve only just begun!” She walked back behind Cathryn, and could be heard rummaging in the holdall. Returning to stand in front of the chair, she held out a metallic object for Cathryn to look at.

“What’s that?” Cathryn fearfully asked. Suzanne stared at the mystery object lovingly.

“This? Oh this is absolutely priceless.” She began. “This is called a mouth gag Cathryn. It’s used in dentist
ry. It’s used to keep a patients mouth wide open so that the dentist can work on their teeth undisturbed. I bought it off Ebay. It’s stainless steel, you know?” As she spoke, she demonstrated how the jaws of the gag expanded to clamp inside a patients mouth. Cathryn watched horrified. What did Suzanne intend to do with it? She didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Suzanne stepped forward and, despite Cathryn’s best efforts to move her head violently around, she forced the gag into her mouth. She soon felt her jaws begin to separate as Suzanne wound the gag apart and soon her mouth was wide open. Suzanne stepped back and looked at her helpless victim with pure delight.

“There you go slut, you’re ready for your dental treatment to begin!” She smirked as she disappeared behind the chair again. Cathryn was absolutely petrified now, and tried to scream out loud in the hope that rescue would come, but her efforts were just unrecognisable groans. Suzanne reappeared.

“To prove I’m not the bitch you think I am, I’m going to give you some painkillers before I begin. It seems only fair, considering how much pain I’m going to put you through!” She pushed several tablets out of a blister pack, and dropped them into Cathryn’s mouth. At first, Cathryn wouldn’t swallow the tablets but Suzanne just shook her head. “Look dear, it’ll be easier on you if you swallow them. It doesn’t bother me either way!” Resigned to what lay ahead, Cathryn decided to swallow afterall.

“Good girl.” Suzanne laughed. “Trouble is, there were not painkillers. They were extra-strong laxatives!” She roared with laughter. “I’m sure you’ll shit yourself when I start pulling your teeth out, but I wanted to make sure you were sitting in your own shit!” Cathryn was scared beyond belief as she heard Suzanne talk of pulling teeth, and Suzanne could see the fright in her eyes and played on her fears. “Yes, that’s right slut, I’m going to be pulling those pearly whites out of your mouth one by one! But first, we have a haircut to finish, don’t we Kirsty?”

“We sure do!” Kirsty replied, pulling on Cathryn’s remaining hair and wrenching her head back. “One super-short haircut coming up!” Cathryn could feel the scissor blades chopping into her hair again. This time, there was a frenzy of random cutting, and clumps of hair cascaded down the front of the cape.

“I thought you should have a nice head shave, but Kirsty thinks this will be better.” Suzanne told her as she watched Kirsty do her work. “I suppose a smooth, bald head would still look respectable. This way, you’ll have tufts of hair here, no hair there. You’ll just look like a freak.”

“Especially with no teeth!” Kirsty added laughing.

“Yeah, especially with no teeth.” Suzanne howled, standing with a expression of complete satisfaction as she watched Cathryn transformed. Kirsty used her clippers to shave patches of hair clean away, in various places on Cathryn’s head. The end result was a brutal and savage looking haircut, reminiscent of prison haircuts in centuries gone by. As Kirsty snipped away at the last few tufts, Suzanne sniffed the air and smiled broader than ever.

“I think those laxatives are working already.” She declared. “Mind you, you did have four times the dose slut!” Cathryn’s discomfort was obvious, for she had indeed soiled herself. “How’s that feel then? Now who’s in the shit eh?”

“I glad I’ve finished her hair!” Kirsty said. “I’m going outside for some fresh air.”

“That’s okay, I’ve got all that I need.” Suzanne said menacingly, as she stepped forward holding her pliers. “You go ahead. I’ll be fixing Cathryn’s smile for her.” Cathryn looked at Kirsty and groaned desperately, as if hoping that she might have a change of heart, intervene, and save her. But Kirsty just smiled back at her, and continued towards the front door.

“Finally! Just the two of us.” Suzanne whispered down to Cathryn. “Hey slut, how are you feeling? Are you scared? You should be, because nobody is going to save you are they?” She walked round to stand behind Cathryn once more, placed her hand on Cathryn’s chin, and pulled her head back so that Cathryn looked straight up at the ceiling. “This is really going to hurt honey!” She said as she lowered her pliers into Cathryn’s mouth.

Cathryn struggled again as she felt the pliers close upon a front tooth. Suzanne just pulled her chin up further, stretching her throat and making it virtually impossible for her to swallow. Cathryn groaned with panic as Suzanne repositioned the pliers on the tooth. Her eyes, wide with terror, looked up into Suzanne’s. The pliers were gently squeezed tight, and Suzanne began to twist them. Cathryn could hear her tooth begin to crack under the pressure and groaned even louder, but Suzanne merely began to twist the pliers in the other direction. Suddenly, Cathryn heard the tooth crack again and she felt a piercingly sharp, intense pain. The pliers were twisted once again and, this time, the pain was so excruciating that Cathryn passed out.

Suzanne pulled the pliers up out of her mouth, and smiled to herself. Cathyrn’s shorn head slumped down onto her chest. Satisfied with her nights work, Suzanne gently removed the mouth gag, the straps, and the cape, leaving Cathryn slumped in her chair. She packed her things back into the holdall, and took one more look at her victim. No longer was she the beauty who men would crave for.

“My God, what have you done to her?” Kirsty asked as she re-entered the kitchen, looking shocked at the apparently lifeless body in the chair.

“Nothing, she passed out.”

“Nothing? You don’t pass out over nothing?” Kirsty persisted.

“Well,” Suzanne smirked, “she may have one loose tooth.” She lifted up the holdall, and turned to Kirsty. “Come on, let’s go. Our work here is done.” The two of them walked out of the kitchen and towards the front door.

Some time later, Cathryn came to. Hearing no sound, she glanced around the kitchen to be sure that they had indeed left. Then, emotionally overcome with the events of the evening, she fell to her knees and was violently sick. She lifted one hand to her head and felt the bristle texture of what remained of her once gorgeous hair. Her fingers felt inside her mouth, gently moving her loose front tooth as she winced in pain. Tears streamed down her face and she cried uncontrollably as she remained knelt down on the floor. What had she done to offend Suzanne? What had she possibly done to make this woman hold such a grudge?

Meanwhile, across town, Suzanne sat on her sofa enjoying a glass of wine. She took the severed ponytail out of the holdall, and allowed herself a wry smile. As she ran her hand down it, stroking it as you would a cat, she sighed with satisfaction. She rose from the sofa and went into her bedroom. She pulled a suitcase, from under the bed, and opened it up. Lovingly stroking the ponytail one last time, she laid it into the suitcase alongside fifteen others. They ranged in colours, textures and lengths, but each shared the method of how they had been obtained. All had been taken forcibly.

Ironically, there was no history between Cathryn and Suzanne. There was no revenge to be had, or grudge to be settled. The simple truth was that Suzanne did not even know Cathryn existed until their chance encounter at Trimmers. Having overheard all the details she needed to stage tonight’s events, Suzanne had chosen Cathryn to be ponytail donor number sixteen. The mouth gag had been Kirsty’s idea. She worked as a dental nurse, and had a sadistic side to her character. She enjoyed watching Suzanne’s victims squirm with fear. In addition to that, the suggestion of a tooth extraction added to the sense of a revenge attack and, without fail, always made their victims pass out at some stage.

Suzanne closed the suitcase lid. There was still plenty of room left for some more ponytails, she thought. She looked out across the city skyline and imagined all the longhaired women out there. Somewhere, she thought, a woman was probably enjoying combing out her long hair before ge
tting into bed. Would hers be the next ponytail in the suitcase?

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