Annie huffed indignantly as she made her way across the grassy field that currently served as a car park. She had made the two-hour long journey from the capital to the agricultural show in the countryside with some friends from university. The show was the biggest event of the year in her agriculturally oriented country. While many exhibitions focused on farming there were also animal shows and funfair rides that could be enjoyed by anyone. Activities she would have been enjoying if her stupid friends had not gotten separated from her in the bustling crowds.
The July day was unusually hot, so Annie was clad in just a light tank top and tiny denim shorts. Her most striking feature, her long curly dark blonde hair was pulled up into a high ponytail. The style kept her lengthy ringlets off her neck and helped keep her cool in the sweltering heat. As she moved swiftly through the lines of tractors, jeeps and trailers, her blue eyes and stunning appearance attracted both male and female attention alike.
Annie was pulled from her vengeful thoughts at a high pitched bleat from the trailer she was striding past. She had grown up in a large town, so she was still quite enamoured with small baby animals. Annie peered into the transporting trailer and caught sight of some small lambs huddled in the centre.
“Aww, how cute” she cooed, reaching her fingers between the metal bars to coax the animals to her.
“Just what do you think you’re doing young lady?” boomed a voice from her right.
Annie startled, spun around and realised the voice came from an old woman who was emerging from the jeep attached to the trailer. The woman was probably in her sixties, she had greyed hair and deeply wrinkled skin however she still seemed tough and wiry.
“I’m so sorry” stammered Annie apologetically, “I mean no harm, I was just admiring your livestock.”
“What’s your name girlie?” enquired the old woman.
“Annie” The old woman gave her an appraising glance and then stated “Well, no harm done then. My name’s Ruth”.
Annie let out a relieved sigh and glanced back to the lambs. “Did you enter the show today?”
Ruth assessed the girl while she was turned away. She needed help on the farm, now that she was getting older but so far anyone interested was asking for much higher wages than she could afford. If only she would acquire someone who would work for nothing. Staring at the back of the girl’s head she got a wonderfully terrible idea.
“I did, didn’t win but I feel like my day is about to become much better” Ruth replied. Using Annie’s fascination with her lambs as a distraction she reached into the cab of her Jeep and pulled out a syringe filled with tranquiliser that she used when the rams were getting too rowdy.
“That’s a pity, you can always try again next year” Annie suddenly let out a surprised gasp as the old woman jabbed a needle into the crook of her elbow. She let out a panicked cry “What are you doing?”. She stumbled and managed to catch herself on the side of the trailer, her vision was starting to distort around the edges.
“Relax young lady” cajoled Ruth gruffly, “That will just knock you out for a couple hours and make my job a lot easier.”
Annie awoke with a start. Her surroundings were completely unfamiliar. She seemed to be in a shed, straw was scattered across the ground as dry bedding, so she assumed she was on a farmyard somewhere. With a sudden panic she noticed her wrists were bound together with strong chains, her ankles also individually chained to a metal ring embedded in one wall of the shed. She pulled desperately at the chains but soon realised that her efforts were futile.
“Help” she screamed, “Someone help me”.
“Quit with all that racket, you could wake the dead with your screaming” ordered Ruth as she strode into the outhouse.
“Please let me go” begged Annie “I won’t tell anyone just let me go and it will be like this never happened.”
Ruth let out a harsh laugh, “Let you go? You won’t be leaving any time soon. Perhaps if you serve your time and do your job properly, I’ll let you go in a year or so.”
“I don’t understand, what do you want with me? I’ve done nothing to you.” whimpered Annie.
“I’m getting on now girlie, not as young and spry as I used to be. I need help on the farm and young people nowadays demand so much money for so little work. I’ve decided that you will work for me for room and board, like the good old days.”
“What?” exclaimed Annie “Lady you are crazy, you are going to let me leave right now.”
Ruth ignored her outburst and placed the large black bag she carried on a bench along the wall. She began removing her implements and lining them up on the bench. Clippers, shaving cream, straight razor.
“What do you think you are doing?” shouted Annie as she looked at the tools in horror.
“I need to clean you up for the job” stated Ruth curtly “That mess on your head will only get in the way and make your job more difficult in the heat. Also I don’t want you getting distracted from your work and attracting attention from the maintenance workers who do jobs on the farm every now and then.”
“If you think I am going to allow you to cut my hair you are clearly delusional.” snarled Annie.
Ruth roughly grabbed the girl by her arm and dragged her to the centre of the stall where she forced her to kneel. She snatched the straight razor from the bench and held it to her throat. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stop being so petulant and realise that you have no say here.”
Annie began to sob and sank down onto her knees, she knew that if she did not obey Ruth, the old woman would take no issues in disposing of her. Ruth forcefully grasped the hair tie holding Annie’s hair in a ponytail and pulled it from her hair. Her gorgeous locks fell around her shoulders. Suddenly a deafening buzz filled the room as Ruth switched the cordless clippers on.
“Please don’t do this” Annie pleaded but Ruth disregarded her vain pleas and placed the humming clippers at her forehead. Without hesitation she pulled the clippers back and began peeling the girl’s hair from her head. Annie’s long golden curls tumbled to the ground, her beautiful tresses littering the floor much like the hay she was kneeling on.
Pass after pass Ruth made over the top of the girl’s head, leaving nothing put minuscule stubble in her wake. When all the hair from the top had been removed Ruth tilted her head to the side and began working on removing the hair there. Until finally all that remained was the thick curls at the back of her head. Annie winced as Ruth placed her hand on the short stubble on her crown in order to push her head down. Ruth positioned the clippers at the nape of her neck and mowed a path up to her crown.
Annie had almost not noticed the ceasing of the clippers when she was unexpectedly doused in water. She yelped again as Ruth poured more water onto her denuded scalp from a mug, she had filled in the water trough.
“What are you doing now?” sniffled Annie.
“I’m not finished yet girlie” uttered Ruth as she started lathering her scalp with the shaving cream. Once she was satisfied with the lather, she picked up the straight razor. She pulled the razor across the girl’s head, leaving nothing but smooth skin behind.
Annie thought she was finally done when Ruth relathered her head and again Annie was subjected to the horrid scraping sound of her hair being removed.
After the second shave Ruth took a towel and knocked her head from side to side as she roughly dried her depilated scalp. Ruth returned to her bag and produced a small pot. She unscrewed the lid and rubbed the waxy substance inside all over her pate. Ruth then used a small cloth to buff and polish the wax into her scalp. “That should slow down the growth for a while and make you nice and shiny” chortled Ruth.
Ruth shoved an old battered hand-held mirror into Annie stunned hands. Where she once had a magnificent crown of dark blonde curls was now a shining hairless dome. The late evening daylight streaming through the window was glinting off her barren scalp. “Much more suitable style for a girl of your age, less distractions and time wasting” asserted Ruth.
Annie was still too horrified by her appearance to react to Ruth. The old woman set about packing her tools back into her bag. “I’ll leave you here tonight to adjust to your new life. You have a long day of hard work ahead of you tomorrow.” Ruth stepped out of the shed, pulling the door closed behind her and Annie was left alone.
Annie reached up with her bound hands and for the first time touched her glistening scalp. Her head was completely devoid of hair, her hands searched for even the slightest reminder of her hair but all that was left was naked skin. Her bald pate was smooth, slick and oddly cold to the touch. She collapsed weeping on the straw and hair covered floor.