The Great Clips Horror
The Very True Tale of Definitely No Hyperbole At All
It had been a dreary, rainy week at the end of a dreary, rainy month. The rain continued to pour as a lengthy February passed into March with little more than a cursory stumble in the damp. The clouds sagged grey, pregnant with rain to fill the coming weeks. However, despite these depressing atmospheric conditions, I exited my car in the shopping center with excitement in my step. I was of a singular goal. It had been since the previous year that I had last gotten my hair trimmed, and I was beginning to look the part of a madman. Matted locks of brown that could no longer be contained by my standard morning brushing. It had grown far too wild for far too long.
I stepped from my car with a splash. My sneaker seeped with the oily water from the parking lot puddle, but I paid it no mind. A new lease on hair lay before me, and there was no time to be down about such matters.
The storefront was an amiable enough place. Bookended by a brightly lit grocery store and a shuttered nail salon, it presented no obvious atrocities from the exterior. Perhaps I overlooked such things. The dimly lit sign may well have flickered in the gusts of wind. The brickwork along the sides could have illustrated an obvious crack in the foundation, ominously hinting at what lay within. But I saw none of this, if such a thing existed. I saw only the fluorescent interior, and the three bodies that sat in the waiting area ahead of me in line.
I pushed open the glass door, overtaken by a wave of barbicide and impatience, that intangible scent that lingers in waiting areas. The chill of rain disappeared behind the pane of glass as it swung shut behind me. One of the stylists on duty cordially offered a greeting, and walked over to the computer terminal to sign me in. I was informed that my wait would be less than a quarter of an hour, and I took a seat in the middle of the chairs against the large glass storefront. The shop was unchanged from previous visits. The same faux smiles on the same stock photo models on the same fading posters. The decor nearer the front of the store was noticeably more aged, peeling and void of saturation. The large pane of glass had amplified the sun’s damage over time. Today however, the clouds were providing a welcome respite for the curling paper. The stock image models smiled wearily on.
I was absentmindedly scanning the rest of the shop when I saw her.
I must tell you again, I was not made aware of any omen about the place up to this point. Perhaps my mind simply overlooked the blatant warnings. The clouds that had poured continuously all day long had granted occasional pockets of storm and lightning to shake the buildings below. It would be entirely conceivable then that I simply disregarded the rolling thunder that surely must have accompanied what I saw, for I am certain that nothing of her appearance could exist in an isolated state in this world. No ghastly creature such as this could possibly be, without perverting the surrounding nature in such a way as to betray its very presence.
Her face was void of all obvious emotion, only a thin pursed line for a mouth that downturned slightly at the corners. Her wispy grey hair was pulled taught against her scalp, back into a tight ball that barely protruded above her height. The bun did nothing to alleviate the stern features the rest of her visage presented. Her skin was near translucent, violet-grey veins and capillaries branching out just beneath the service. She wore a solid black overcoat that stretched from her neck to her toes. No other clothing was visible, or necessary, for the jacket hid all but her hands and head. The only secret it betrayed was her hauntingly gaunt figure. She stood in the corner of the shop, staring directly at me, a corpse attempting the faintest mimicry of life.
I must admit I gasped at the initial sight, but quickly recovered with a polite nod in her direction. I didn’t mean to offend, after all. She continued her hollow stare without an ounce of acknowledgement.
An unsettling feeling crept into my body, a physical shadow making its way across my skin. All joy I had felt for this haircut was replaced with the purest form of anxious dread.
“Shawn?”, the lady at the front desk intoned.
I stood up, and followed her to my chair in the back of the room, acutely aware of the ghastly woman’s continuing stare from the opposite corner.
With the usual courtesy and empty conversation, my stylist set to work on trimming my mop of a head. This was a reassuring and familiar sensation, and for a moment I allowed myself to forget the terrifying face from before. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the snipping of scissors around my ears. I opened my eyes - only briefly - to readjust, when I saw her again. At my angle from across the room, she loomed only in the corner of the mirror in front of me, nearly obscured from the various bottles of hair product.
Her visage was horrifyingly gaunt. The skin that ran from her ears to chin could not have been stretched any tighter without tearing apart. Her eyes sunk deep into her skull, so that from this profile view they were nearly absent. The tight hair bun was more obvious from this angle, pulling her hair tightly that her forehead was somehow even more translucent than the rest of her skin. The pursed mouth dammed back a flood of pure hatred. Her figure was so positively terrifying that I could not help but wonder how I was the only person that seemed to see her. Surely the other hairdressers could not possibly be sincerely smiling with such a cadaver looming. I searched for an explanation.
I happened upon the obvious answer. “Oh,” my brain reasoned, “that small child getting a trim in the seat over there cannot possibly be here alone. She must be his mother, watching over his behavior like a hawk.” Finding comfort in this analysis, I managed to relax for a few short minutes as the stylist began work on the front of my hair. I snuck only cursory glances at the woman during this time, contentedly appreciating the cold metal sounds of scissors brushing against my forehead.
Suddenly, the boy jumped down from his chair, haircut finished. He excitedly ran towards the lobby with an eager grin. I shifted in my chair - to the scolding of my stylist - to get a better view. He ran straight into the legs of his waiting mother, who stood up to pay for the service.
I quickly spun my head back around to locate the woman in the mirror. She had not moved, but was now staring directly back at me. Our eyes locked. Tendrils of panic began to slide up through my ribcage. I felt the fear swell in my chest as our eye-contact persisted. My soul was being weighed in her very gaze, and it did not prove worthy. Time dragged to a crawl. I refused to look away first. How could I? The moment I lost sight of her, she would surely grab me from behind and slit my throat from ear to ear in true Sweeney Todd fashion. Her eyes grew wider and wider, into pits of inky blackness, swallowing me whole as I helplessly kept the stare.
“How’s that?”, my barber interjected.
My focus shattered. I looked up at my hair as she proudly showcased her handiwork.
“uh- yeah. Thas good”, I muttered as I quickly glanced back at the ghoul’s corner of my mirror.
How?? I had only given her but a brief gap to escape unseen. My mind raced in wild panic. A chill slithered into my spine, entirely unrelated to the clippers now buzzing down the nape of my neck. I could not spin my head too wildly while being held in place. My eyes rapidly probed the corners of my periphery, unable to find even the smallest glimpse of my target. Helpless and captive, I accepted my fate. This was to be my end - covered in scraps of my hair and smelling of gel.
My stylist undid my cloak and let go. I spun around in the chair. There the creature stood, only a few feet removed from her initial position, just far enough to have left my obscured mirror view. She now stared not at me, but at the glass at the front of the store. I was the last client for the night. Only she and my stylist remained. I cautiously strafed towards the front desk, never fully removing her from my sight, determined not to be left alone with her for any length of time.
I paid my money, hurriedly mentioning that I needed no change, before backing out into the misty night air. I walked away from the building at an angle, approaching my car with quickened step. I had unlocked it from a dozen feet away, and in one fluid motion ducked inside while securely pressing the lock back into place. My eyes did not leave the store window.
As I pulled away, my rearview mirror framed the entire storefront. Her figure stood alone in the middle of the large window, vacuously staring out into the rain, surrounded by the fading stock photo smiles. It was impossible for me to have seen from such distance, but something within my deepest intuition tells me that the corners of her tightly sealed mouth twitched imperceptibly upward in that moment, in the most chilling of smiles.
I continued the short drive home in silence, listening only to the patter of raindrops against my car roof, unable to shake the feeling that that final smile would remain with me for the rest of my life…
comments powered by Disqus
But my hair looks fantastic now. 9/10; would recommend.