Slowly Stolen Away
To my readers,
This is a tale that I thought was lost forever. Upon recovering an old hard drive, I came across more archived works that were written some time ago. This was one of those stories. This is a somewhat macabre/dystopian horror story that’s woven around a hair related theme. I wrote this during a particularly dark period in my life, and it certainly shows. Hope you enjoy!
Just under five hundred people lived in Clearfield, an isolated hamlet in the foothills of the Rockies. This was why Leana had moved there for the summer. It was quiet and there was nothing to do, except write. Leana was an author of some reputation and had three best sellers on Amazon. She was a thriller/mystery novelist and would often seek solitude when trying to write seriously, or when facing a demanding deadline.
It was a chilly spring day when Leana drove into Clearfield. The sky was a dark blue, a morning frost still clinging to the grass where the sun had not yet touched it. She had called some weeks before in an effort to secure an apartment or cottage that would suit her needs. What became available was a small but quaint little cabin about a mile outside of town, which overlooked the village from the top of a sheer cliff face.
As Leana came to the end of the long driveway, a small deer was grazing on the grass outside the front door. As she got out of the car, the deer quickly darted into the woods. “How idyllic.” She whispered under her breath, as she lifted her bag from the trunk of her car.
Once settled into her summer home, she took time to walk out onto the porch, and took in the incredible view the place commanded “My God. That’s breathtaking.” She could literally see for miles across the wood-covered mountains, and the small village seemed like a postcard. Leana took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air and sighed. “I guess it’s time to get to work.”
She took her notebook computer out of its case and placed it inside the oak roll-top desk that held pride of place near the front windows. She had stared at the blank screen for nearly an hour, the space fairly mocking her before deciding that she was hungry. Locking the door, she set out for town, and a bite to eat.
It was only just six o’clock, and the village was pretty much deserted. The only place she found that was open was a small bar called the Squirrel Lodge. Leana parked her car and wandered into the place. There was a couple seated in a booth to her left, and the bartender, who was busy cleaning some shelves behind the bar.
“Hello, Miss.” The man beckoned, cheerfully. “Something to drink?” The bartender stood up and regarded the stunning beauty that sat at the center of his bar. Leana was beautiful, with long auburn hair and a pale cream complexion. Although her breasts were not large, her body seemed perfectly proportioned.
“Yes, please,” Leana answered. “A vodka tonic, with a twist?” She ordered, the words rolling off her tongue as if she had said them a hundred times. She sipped on her drink as the bartender looked on. Aware of his attention, she was quite used to being stared at, taking no offense.
“Just passing through?” asked the bartender.
“Actually, no.” Leana corrected. “I rented the Brandywine place for the summer.” She wondered if she had done the right thing telling this stranger where she was staying.
“What do you think of the view, Miss.?.”
“Leana, my name is Leana.” She offered, sipping again at her drink.
“It certainly is a beautiful place. My uncle used to know the Brandywines, and took me hunting up there when I was a kid. You’re a bit isolated up there. You should be careful” He warned, a story begging to be told.
“Careful of what?” Leana queried. Now he had her attention.
“A few years back, a young lady much like yourself was taken from that cabin. They never found her.” The bartender said, haltingly. “The police still have no idea what happened to her.”
“Sounds like a novel I would write.” Leana joked, intrigued and frightened at the same time. “I’m a mystery writer. That’s what I do.” Leana explained.
“Well, don’t be poking around too much up there. There’s no one even close to that cabin that could hear you. If you want information on that kidnapping, it’s all down at the local library.” He shuffled down the bar to wait on another customer that had just walked through the door.
As Leana was driving back up to her cabin in the woods, she was getting more and more frightened, and the drive down the long, tree-lined drive made her feel even more uneasy. She found herself looking over her shoulder as she made her way from the car to the door, and immediately turned on nearly every light in the cabin. Sleep was never easy for Leana, and the story of the young woman’s abduction made it near impossible.
She must have dozed off at some point, waking up with the sun shining through the window and directly into her eyes. She never did make it into the bedroom, instead, sleeping in her clothes on the sofa. There were only two rooms to the place, to begin with, so she guessed it didn’t make any difference where she slept.
Leana stretched and made her way to the bathroom. During the morning ritual of brushing out her hair, she seemed to notice something different. Was her hair shorter? How could that even be possible? She brushed it some more, then reached back with her arm behind her back. She couldn’t touch it! Just two days before, she could grab her hair between her fingers behind her back. Looking in the mirror it was now a good two inches out of her grasp.
Leana ripped off her top and bra and stood in the mirror. She knew her hair had covered her nipples and now almost her entire breast was visible. “Oh my god!” She yelled out loud. Somebody had come into the cabin and cut her hair while she was sleeping. But how? Surely, she would have woken up. She was such a light sleeper. Who would do this to me?
Leana wasted no time in going into town and reporting the incident to the police. The police, although amused by her story, seemed a little skeptical of her report. They didn’t know her, so they wouldn’t have known if her hair was shorter. To them, she was just some crazy woman that was imagining things. Frustrated, Leana walked down to the tavern for a drink. The same bartender was quick to serve her another vodka tonic.
“Trimmed your hair a little?” He noticed. “It looks nice.” Said the bartender.
“I didn’t trim it!” Leana griped. “Someone broke in and cut it.” She took a large gulp of her drink. “Somebody actually came into my cabin last night and cut my hair.” The bartender looked at her a little strangely. “Seriously! Nobody believes me around here, not even your fucking police department.” Leana spat, on the verge of a tantrum.
“Why would somebody want to cut your hair?” The bartender puzzled. “Just seems a little strange, is all.”
“Well, great!” Leana slugged back the rest of her drink and walked out of the tavern. She felt funny about going back up to the cabin, but where else was she going to go; there wasn’t a motel around for 100 miles.
As the sun set across the porch and tipped the top of the distant peaks, Leana buried herself in her writing, and oddly enough she had chosen the Brandywine disappearance as her subject. She never bothered to do any research, having her own ideas about what might have happened to the girl. The next time she looked up from the computer it was dark outside, sending a chill down Leana’s spine.
She went around, locking all the windows and doors to the cabin. Throwing a few logs onto a dwindling fire, she curled up on the sofa, re-reading what she had written during the evening. The fire felt good against the chill of the night, and she slid off the sofa and onto the braided rug that rested in front of the hearth.
She woke up to the beeping of her tablet as it was about to power down. It was still dark, and her neck was stiff from leaning against the sofa. She placed her computer on the desk, and headed for the bedroom. She was about to crawl into bed when she inadvertently caught her reflection in the mirror.
“Oh no! Shit!” She quickly turned on the light beside the mirror to discover that her hair had once again been cut. This time it was completely off her shoulders. The blunt bob was unevenly cut, shorter on the left than the right. She went back to the fireplace and turned on the lights, discovering that the rug beneath where she was sleeping had a light dusting of auburn strands. Not all that had been cut, but just some evidence of the crime. Why was someone doing this? Leana was in a panic, deciding to sleep the rest of the night locked inside her car.
The morning arrived with a thunderstorm, and Leana was awakened by the rain beating against the roof of her car. She quickly ran inside and slipped out of her top, once again surveyed the damage to her once-glorious mane of red locks. It was horribly chopped. The left side was a full inch shorter than the right and it was jagged and uneven as well.
Sadly, Leana took a pair of scissors and tried to fix the damage, ending up with a chin-length bob all around. “At least it’s even.” She said out loud, as if someone was listening. She wept a little over the loss of her hair, but strangely, not enough to make her leave the cabin. She sat back down at her computer and began writing more of her novel.
All day, she wrote. She couldn’t remember a day when the words rolled off her fingers like they did that day. She must have written fifty pages. Feeling tired, she thought she would take a nap while it was still light outside. She went to the bedroom, stripping out of her jeans and top and stretched out naked on the bed, passing out almost at once.
Awakened by what she thought was a bang, she jumped straight up in bed. It was still light out, although the sun was just starting to set. Wanting to dress, Leana found that her clothes weren’t where she left them. Panicked, she looked in the mirror, relieved that her hair was the same. Her relief was short-lived.
Someone had taken her clothes; all her clothes. There was nothing in the closets or the drawers, not a stitch, no shoes, no socks, nothing. She crept into the living room and found that every piece of furniture had been removed. Everything was gone, including her laptop and her phone. Not only that, but her car was gone too. Leana was completely out of her mind with panic. She ran outside and began to yell at the top of her lungs, but knew all too well that no one would hear her. Shaking from fear, she ran back into the cabin and locked the doors, not that it would do any good. Whoever this was, she was completely at their mercy.
The only thing left in the living room was the braided rug. The fire was still glowing in the fireplace, so she added a couple of logs to stoke it up. Naked and cold, Leana, curled up on the rug and let the fire warm her flesh. The night was coming, and with it, fear of what might be next.
“How could this be happening? Why me? Why is this happening to me?” She sobbed, incoherently. Leana laid down on the rug, trying to absorb as much of the heat from the fire as she could. Eventually, her eyes closed, as hard as she tried to prevent it.
Leana was awakened by another loud bang. She quickly stood up on the rug and tried to look around her, but it was completely dark, the glow of the fire offering little illumination. She ran to the light switch, but the light didn’t work. In fact, none of the lights worked. There was no power. Leana was completely in the dark.
She went to throw another log on the fire but there were none, they were gone too. “What else is missing?” She said out loud. She walked carefully into the bedroom and could see from the faint light that filtered in the window that everything was gone. The entire cabin was empty. The only thing left was the mirror, her eerie reflection blue in the dim moonlight. She quickly felt for her hair, relieved once again, that it was the same as it had been. Left with nothing but a braided rug and a fading fire, she curled up as a dog might on the floor, and cried for the dawn to come.
Strangely enough, Leana did sleep, waking with the sun streaming in upon her; warming her. How was it possible that it could look so cheerful outside and yet her predicament be so desperate? Still naked, cold, and alone, she definitely had to pee.
She went back to the bathroom and sat down on the commode, wondering aloud if the plumbing still worked. When she reached down to wipe, Leana was shocked to find that her pubic hair had been removed.
“Come on!” she shouted “What the hell is going on? If you’re going to kill me, just do it and get it over with!” Standing up to leave, she walked by the mirror, noticing something wasn’t right. As she got closer, she realized what was wrong. Not only had this person shaved her pubic hair, they had also removed her eyebrows. On closer inspection, they had removed her eyelashes as well!
Now, the only hair she had left was that on her head, and she knew for certain that it was next. If only she had that pair of scissors, she could at least deny this asshole the pleasure of taking that away from her. She was going to at least try and escape. Even though the sun was shining, and the day warmer, Leana was unable to venture far from the cabin. Her sensitive feet were no match for the harsh terrain that surrounded the cabin. The driveway was cinders and soon cut her feet, forcing her to turn back.
Leana was trapped in this hellish nightmare, and as the sun set that evening she knew her situation was only going to get worse. By the time she had arrived back at the cabin, the sun was already setting, and this time there was no fire. Leana pulled the rug into the bedroom as the fireplace was useless. She locked all the doors before it got too dark and laid down on the rug and began to weep. She wept for what seemed like hours, but it soon was too much, as she was once again asleep, in spite of the cold.
When Leana finally did awaken, she was cold and shivering. The sun was just starting to rise and there was a soft glow in the room. She was thirsty and hungry, not having eaten anything in two days. She climbed to her feet and walked to the sink to suck some water from the tap when she saw her reflection.
Her hands immediately went to her head, but all she felt was stubble. She had to wait until the sun rose a little more to see how she truly looked. Bald, she sulked. She definitely looked bald. She was able to get a few drops of water from the tap, but her attention was drawn to the hideous reflection in the mirror. No hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes. She was a freak. She looked like a demented alien. Gone was the drop-dead beautiful redhead, in her place, an ugly bald knob.
Leana, slowly made her way back to the living room, only to find a package on the counter. She quickly opened it and found a loaf of bread and a bottle of water inside. Starving, she made short work of the bread and conserved the water, as she knew she would need it. Inside the package, there was also a note and a flimsy pair of sandals.
“Leave the cabin today and follow the red markers on the trees. You must collect the markers as you go, and place them in this package. Stray from the path, and you will be punished severely. Know that more food and drink lay at the end of your journey. I have taken all of your vanity, Leana, and used it wisely. Now go!”
There was no use in resisting. Whoever this was had her completely under their power. Leana slipped on the sandals, grabbed the empty package, and left the cabin in search of the first red marker. She had, with her newly acquired footwear, thought about simply escaping to the road. Whatever punishment they had in mind for straying, surely would be horrific, considering what they had done to her thus far. At the rear of the cabin, she saw a glint of something red, but not as bright a red as she was expecting. She walked over to it and found a lock of her hair nailed securely to a tree.
As instructed, she pulled at the hair, which easily slid off the nail, and placed it in the package. Every fifty feet there was another lock, and she continued to deposit the flags of hair into the box. Leana looked behind, at one point, realizing that there would be no way for her to find her way back.
She walked on, for what seemed like miles. By now the package was full of her red hair. The next marker was different than the others; a plastic bag containing all her pubic hair. The next one was also a bag, and this one contained what must have been her eyebrows and lashes. Seemingly in possession of every hair that had been stolen from her, she pressed on.
There were no more markers. How could there be? Over a small rise, a small building came into view, and she paused, hesitant to approach. ‘What a sight I must be.’ She thought. ‘A hairless, naked woman, walking through the forest.’ She knew they must have been watching her the entire way. The building was nothing more than a gray cement blockhouse. There was a small fire burning inside a stone ring on one side.
“Kneel, Leana, at the edge of the fire.” A voice commanded, seeming to come from all around her. Without question, she did as she was told. The heat felt good against her naked skin, which had been lashed by the wind during her journey.
Emerging from within the small structure a dark man, wearing a long black cloak appeared. He approached Leana from behind and knelt behind her. She was all but frozen with fear. This was who had taken everything from her, and Leana trembled in his presence.
“Place the box within the flames.” He demanded. Hesitantly, Leana did as he ordered, watching as her hair burned with a bright flash of yellow and black, reeking of sulfur. “Smell the evil of your vanity, Leana.” He ran his hand over her bald head. “You will never again be afforded the vanity of hair, Leana?” She nodded and knew that he meant what he said. “You will never again hide your body with clothing, Leana?” Once again, she nodded. “You, will be my hairless, naked slave. Say it aloud, Leana!” He shouted. She hesitated, for she knew that once she said it, it would be real. “Say it!”
“I will be… your hairless… naked… slave.” At that moment Leana knew that this was to be her new life. He led her inside the blockhouse and through a doorway within. To her surprise, she was inside an elevator, descending into a brightly lit room. Two women, clad only in white robes, took control of her, leading her away from the man.
They wound through a complex series of hallways and rooms to a large bathroom, with marble floors and walls. Everything was so brightly lit that it almost hurt her eyes. Leana was immersed in a bath, which had already been filled with steaming water. She had to admit that it felt amazing after her ordeal.
To her surprise, the women disrobed and entered the bath with her. They were also hairless. Each one took turns washing her body meticulously. They also took turns shaving her. Her stubbled head was soon as smooth as the marble walls. They left no hair. Even her arms were shaved of their fine downy fur. When she had been cleaned and shaved thoroughly, she was led into a darkened room, a hard exam table standing at its center.
“You will lay on this table with your legs spread wide. You must not open your eyes. There will be a series of bright lights and some heat on your body. Remember, Leana, do not open your eyes.” She heard them leave the room and the door close behind them.
A whirring of machinery filled her ears, and then, starting at her toes there was a tingling heat. She wanted to look but she kept her eyes tightly closed. The tingling slowly moved up her legs and became more intense as it reached her sex. The heat waned again over her torso but became very hot and almost painful as it reached her face and head.
“Keep your eyes closed, Leana!” A voice called through an intercom. As the tingling passed over the top of her head the machinery wound down and the voice rang out over the intercom again. “You will turn over onto your belly.” Leana did as she was told and flipped over. “Spread your legs open, and again, keep your eyes closed.”
She heard the machinery wind up again and the tingling heat slowly worked its way up her body. When it got to the back of her head, it felt like a thousand little needles piercing her scalp. She wanted to scream with the pain, but remained silent, somehow. “Is it finally over!” Leana begged under her breath.
“You may open your eyes.” The room was full of a dusty mist that glowed amber in the dim lighting. “All of your hair follicles have been eradicated.” The woman said, nonchalantly, as if there was nothing unusual about that.
Leana was removed back into the light again and she could see her skin was bright white. As she was about to say something, the one woman placed a finger over Leana’s mouth. “You must never speak.”
A very colorful room came into view as they continued what could only be described as processing. “You are now to be tinted.” She mentioned, in an almost robotic fashion. “The follicle destruction also makes your skin receptive to permanent tinting. The overseer has selected your color. You will enter the booth here.” Leana was once again positioned with her legs spread wide. She was told to hold her arms straight up, fingers and toes spread. “As before, close your eyes until we instruct you to open them.”
She could feel a fine mist spraying over her body. The mist stopped and Leana thought the process was complete. “Your specific tint requires three applications. You will keep your eyes closed.”
The mist again began spraying onto her body. She could feel her skin tighten as the tint dried between applications. After the third and final spraying was complete, the two women once again stepped into the booth. “You may open your eyes, Leana.”
Leana’s skin was jet black, and resembled shiny plastic. “Your skin is still tight, as the tint has not been finalized.” She was led into another booth and warned again about protecting her eyes. This time, only one application was applied, but it stung like hellfire. Leana was unable to refrain from screaming as the vile liquid soaked into her skin.
“Your tinting has been finalized, and is now your natural skin color.” The woman explained. “Your cells will reproduce this color for as long as you live. This concludes your processing.”
Leana was now led to what would be her new home, which was little more than a cell. Inside was a simple bed and a small table. There was a toilet and a sink in the far corner and one entire wall of the cell was a huge mirror.
The room was lit by the same ambient ceiling lighting as the rest of the place. The door was audibly locked, as the women left her alone for the first time. Leana, stared into the mirror, getting her first good look at herself.
Her skin was shiny, and as she stepped closer to the mirror, she could see the depth of the tinting. This was most definitely permanent. Every part of her body was as black as obsidian. Running her hands over herself, Leana searched her body for a single hair, but not one remained, nor would there ever be.
She laid down on the small bed, curling up with her back to the mirror. A small panel in the wall spun around near her face, and a bulbous, elongated teat appeared. She could see a drop of whitish liquid appear at its tip. Reluctantly, she lapped at the drop with her tongue and found it to be irresistibly sweet. Leana hesitantly allowed the teat to slip past her lips, suckling, as the smooth sweet liquid began to fill her empty belly.
She tried to remember how she got there, why she was there, but as the warm nourishing formula filled her, her thoughts began to dissolve. The long row of monitors glowed in the elaborate library, but the man seemed focused on one in particular. He smiled, knowingly, as the young, sharp-witted writer’s eyes faded to a dull blank stare.