The mindset of prey is to get away, to run, to hide, to survive. For the first twenty-five years of her life, Caroline would have never expected that she would be so acutely familiar with the feeling of being hunted but she was now.
With only a backpack, the clothes she wore, a broken in pair of tennis shoes and her long beautiful red hair tied up under a light brown beanie, the battered woman had left. He tried to stop her but she fought back. Her abusive boyfriend who also happened to be extremely wealthy, powerful, and well connected was sure to have people searching for her. To keep her quiet. To silence her.
She had taken her car to initially create space but soon chose to ditch the vehicle off deep in the Alabama woods. Now she walked, porcelain skin coated with sweat in the oppressive humidity, unwilling to remove her beanie and reveal her most noticeable feature.
With only $200 in cash, she needed a place to stay. And a job to keep herself fed. She also had taken something from her boyfriend to protect herself. Stolen from his nightstand, she now carried a Glock 26 pistol tucked into the back of the waistband of her blue jeans. It rubbed uncomfortably on the small of her back but it’s presence and weight brought a different kind of comfort to her. She could fight if she needed to. Even if she didn’t really know how.
After what felt like an eternity of walking, Caroline found a small town. It was old but well maintained, as though those who had once occupied it had died off and were replaced by young professionals looking to get away from the big city.
Wiping her brow on the sleeve of her flannel shirt, she walked down the street of what the townspeople likely referred to as “downtown.” It was nothing like the city where she had lived with her boyfriend, being flaunted at fancy dinners in her elegant dresses that had been carefully chosen to cover the bruises on her body.
She hoped she could find a business that needed a worker or a for rent sign. Caroline knew nothing of work, having been the child of wealthy parents who passed while she was in college. With the payout of a large life insurance policy, she had been able to ride through college and right into the lap of her boyfriend who took care of her every need. If only she had known that was his way of taking control.
Finally she struck gold. “Help Wanted Inquire Inside” said the sign on the window. Without even taking the time to see what the business was, Caroline burst in through the front door.
”I’d like to apply for the job!” the desperate girl said as soon as she entered.
Only then did she pause to look around. She was in an empty barbershop. Well mostly empty. Reclining in one of the red leather barber’s chairs was a rugged looking, handsome man. He stood to greet her and she was shocked by what she saw. He was almost a foot taller than she was, probably 6’4” and had kind blue eyes. His hair was faded down to graying stubble on the sides and the salt and pepper hair on his crown was perhaps an inch long.
Wearing an olive green t-shirt that said “De Oppresso Liber” with crossed arrows over a dagger and a pair of cargo shorts and sandals, the man was casually and comfortably dressed. It something she was mostly unused to after existing in the high society of her boyfriend’s world.
The handsome man looked her up and down, rubbing the salt and pepper stubble on his chin. She didn’t feel like she was being checked out, instead it felt more like she was being sized up.
”Have you ever worked in a barbershop before? Any experience cutting hair?” he asked plainly.
Caroline shrugged her shoulders, “Not really.”
The man nodded thoughtfully, “Ok, what is your previous experience? Anything with customer service, administrative assistant work?”
“No,” the redhead said, looking uncomfortably at her feet.
”Any work experience at all?” he asked, opening his palms upward and shrugging his shoulders.
”No,” she said defeatedly.
”Then why should I hire you?” the man asked, Alabama drawl faintly coming through his direct question.
Caroline looked up and did her best to meet his gaze confidently, “Because I need this job badly. And I promise you I’ll work hard doing whatever you want.”
The man crossed his arms and nodded for a moment. “What are we working with under that beanie?”
Cocking her head to the side, Caroline squinted her eyes at the tall man, “Why?”
”Just take off the beanie,” he said impatiently, stepping forward as if he was about to rip it off.
Hands shooting up into the defensive, palms out position she was so familiar with, she quickly complied, “Ok! I’ll take it off, sorry.”
Reaching up, she pulled the beanie off of her head, taking the hair tie with it and allowing her long red hair to fall from under the hat. It tumbled down and fell to her lower back. The man nodded his head as he returned to rubbing the stubble on his chin thoughtfully.
”Ok, I can work with that. Here’s the deal, if you want the job, you have to stick to the dress code.”
”Anything! I need the job bad. And maybe you could point me to a motel to stay in? I need a place in town to stay,” Caroline said gratefully.
”We’ll take care of the housing issue later. Put your backpack down and come take a seat. We need to get you in dress code,” the man said, stepping behind one of the chairs and turning it to face her.
”What do you mean? I mean I guess I’m due for a trim,” the beautiful redhead said with a shrug. She walked over and took a seat in the chair.
”You need more than a trim to work here. This is a barbershop, you need to actually look like you get your hair cut here,” the man said, gathering her long hair up into a clip on the top of her head.
Caroline gulped and looked nervously at the man in the mirror, “Wait what does that mean? Like you’re going to cut it like a boy’s?”
The man shrugged his shoulders, tying a paper strip around her neck and draping a black cape across her body, “Not necessarily. I think I can come up with something. Maybe a bob with a high undercut. You can tie it up while you’re working to show off my work and then let it down when you’re off so it looks more feminine.”
”A bob and an undercut? Oh…I don’t know,” she said, starting to try to stand up.
Placing his hands on her shoulders firmly but carefully, “You said you’d do anything for the job. You have no work experience, I can’t imagine anybody will hire you. I can pay you $10 an hour and I’ll even let you stay here. For free. All you have to do is get a haircut. So sit.”
The man took her hair down as she nervously shuddered, “Oh…ok. Thanks. This is a pretty good deal isn’t it?”
”It’s a great deal. I’ve never heard of a first job paying that well. Plus free room and board. That’s better than I was doing when I started out in the Army,” he said, sectioning out the hair from the top of her temple and higher.
”You were in the Army?” Caroline asked, trying to learn the man who was about to take away so much of her hair.
”I was, I guess you didn’t recognize the shirt. Green Beret. Did my twenty and then retired. I came back to my home town and took over the barbershop my dad used to run. He passed a few years back so now it’s just me here. And I guess you now,” the man said, tying the bottom section of her hair back into a low ponytail.
“What’s a Green Beret?” she asked, pensively watching the man as he grabbed a pair of sharp looking scissors.
”Our other name is Army Special Forces. We go in and do a bunch of different things but we specialize in being the first in to a country and training up a resistance against the bad guys,” he said as he began to slice through the ponytail that held the bottom section of her hair.
She sat in stunned silence as the hair fell from the ponytail, a little bit at a time as it fell forward and framed her delicate cheeks. Soon he was through it completely and he held the ponytail aloft.
”Well, whoever you are, here’s the start to your new look! Who are you exactly? I’m Rick,” he said, placing the ponytail on the counter and turning to grab his clippers.
Caroline paused for a moment, realizing that throughout the whole time she had been running, she had never stopped to think of an alias or a story of any kind. Rick could see her nervousness growing and looked at her suspiciously.
”Um…my name is Cara! I just needed to get away and try something new after my parents passed away,” she said, stuttering out a poorly made backstory. At least the part about her dead parents was true, maybe the partial truth would help her lie be more convincing.
”Cara?” Rick asked, squinting at the face of the girl in the mirror.
”Yeah, Cara,” she said, trying to sound more confident this time.
”Wait a second, I think I recognize you,” he said slowly, setting the clippers down cautiously.
Instantly she knew she was made. Desperately, Caroline reached for the pistol that she had tucked in her waistband. As she drew it, she felt Rick’s strong hand snatch it away from her before slapping her firmly on the forehead.
”Ow!” she said, clapping her hand over her forehead.
”What do you mean ‘ow’? You just pulled a gun on me! You’re lucky all I did was take your gun and smack you on the forehead. I’ve killed people overseas for less,” he said, dropping the magazine out of the gun and racking the slide. A single bullet fluttered into the air and he caught it.
”Please, just forget I came here,” she said, trying to stand from her seat.
The man stuffed the empty pistol in his pocket and place the magazine and bullet on the counter before grabbing her shoulder and forcefully returning her to the seat.
“Not so fast. You’re that Caroline Woodwick girl from the news. The police are looking for you, something about shooting your boyfriend and then stealing from him? I guess you used this pistol?” he asked, patting the gun he had in his pocket.
”It’s not like how they are saying! He tried to kill me and I had to shoot him. Then I just ran. If he finds me, I know I’m going to end up dead. I just know it,” she said, her voice audibly shaking as panicked tears began to form in her eyes.
”Ok, slow down for a second. Is that true?” Rick asked suspiciously.
”I promise it is. Please help me. Or at least just let me go. You don’t even have to finish my haircut, I just need to go,” she said, desperately begging the well-muscled man.
”If I’m going to help you, I need you to promise me something,” the man said hesitantly.
”Anything! Anything at all, please! I’ll pretend you never knew anything, I promise,” she took his hand in both of hers as she continued to beg.
”Well that’s a given, but I need you to promise me two things. One is that you’ll NEVER pull a gun on me again. I’ll teach you how to use this and then you can have it back but don’t even think about trying something like you just did,” he chided the young woman as though she were a child.
”Yes sir, never again. Thank you for being willing to teach me. What is the second thing?” she said, her breathing slowing down as she began to calm herself.
”Your hair and overall look is mine to decide. You’re going to be my new hair model as well as my assistant. It’s important that you no longer match the description that the police have anyway,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest.
The young woman sat for a moment, considering her options. This man who hardly knew her seemed completely willing to help. But his help meant she would lose complete control of her appearance. She knew her vanity would make that difficult, but she also knew she wanted to live. Whatever it took, she would do that.
”Deal. Do whatever you think you need to do to make me not stand out as much,” she cautiously said.
”Alright well, I would have done the bob but you pulled a gun on me so I’m a little mad. You’re getting a more masculine cut. Have you ever seen the movie Fury? With Brad Pitt?” the man asked, already adjusting the clip on her head to only hold the hair on the top of her crown.
”No I haven’t,” she said, squinting her brilliant blue eyes at him, causing her small delicate nose to wrinkle.
”Well I’m cutting your hair like his was in the movie. I guess it’ll be a surprise then,” he said, pulling the long hair that now hung down into another low ponytail.
He snipped the other ponytail away before placing it next to the first and picking up his clippers. He placed what looked like the smallest plastic guard onto the blades and flicked them on. The clippers popped and then hummed to life as Caroline’s heart began to pound.
”Head down,” he said as he gently pushed her head foreword, her chin nearly resting on her chest above her relatively average sized breasts.
She closed her eyes as she felt the cool plastic over the clipper blades on the nape of her neck, just below the hairline. Holding her breath, she nervously awaited the cut. Never having had hair shorter than shoulder length since she was a baby, Caroline couldn’t believe what was happening to her. Even as an infant she had been blessed with thick red hair.
Lost in thought over what she was losing, she had almost missed the first cut. Only almost though. As the clippers plunged into the short hair on her nape, she immediately felt intense breathlessness. The feeling of the clippers was unbelievably pleasurable. Almost erotic. No, definitely erotic.
Rick drove the clippers all the way up to the back of her crown where the hair was sectioned out. He buzzed away another strip which caused the runaway to shudder. She felt as though she might actually reach actual sexual release, something she hadn’t felt since before her abusive boyfriend. Doing her best to fight down the urge to fondle herself, she clenched the arms of the barber’s chair with her fingers.
The former soldier must have noticed because he spoke up over the clippers, “Ah so you’re one of those people,” he declared as he buzzed more and more hair away from the back of her head.
”What people?” she asked, barely able to utter the words as she shuddered with pleasure.
”There are people who find getting their hair cut to be sexually gratifying. Honestly I’m that way too, if it’s the right person cutting it. I also thoroughly enjoy transformations like what you’re getting right now,” the barber admitted to his new assistant.
Rick finished her nape and lifted her chin before tilting her head to the left and beginning to buzz way the red hair from around her ear. For the first time she saw how short her sides were being shaved. The hair was so short she could easily see her pale scalp through the bristly short hair.
Looking past herself in the mirror, she noticed a bulge forming in Rick’s cargo shorts. He was telling the truth, he found her cut as erotic as she did. Instinctively she tried to reach for his crotch, to satisfy the man who was doing so much for her. He smacked her hand away before continuing to cut.
”I know you can see it but no. It’s the middle of a business day and I just met you. I’m not saying no to the possibility but not today. We still have a lot to do,” he said, buzzing away her red hair all the way to the edge of her crown.
”Yes sir, sorry sir,” she said, cheeks and exposed scalp flushing with redness.
”I find you attractive and would love to get to know you better. Maybe a proper date first,” he told her.
She tried to nod but his hand clamped onto her head holding it still, “That would be nice, thank you.”
The man smirked as he finished buzzing the hair from the right side of her head. Rather than moving to her other side, he rotated the chair and tilted her head away from him as he began to buzz the left side of her head.
”You might not want me when we’re done. You’re completely changing how you look. I have an emergency kit in the back. Something to help a person disappear. Do you wear contacts?” he asked, politely trying to move on from Caroline’s embarrassment.
”No? My vision is 20/20,” she tentatively said.
”Ok good. I have color contacts for you. If you had a prescription I’d have to order some for you but you’ll be able to wear them right away. We’ll do brown. Brown is inconspicuous. I’m dying your hair brown too,” he said, holding the young woman’s forehead with his off hand.
Her mood suddenly darkened at the thought. She would be safe with him but she would be losing everything she was so proud of. Blue eyes and red hair had always defined her and now they would be going away indefinitely.
”Oh and you’re going to use self tanner until you get a tan. I’m sure you always use sunscreen to keep that porcelain pale skin but no more. You’re going to sit out and tan as often as possible,” he said as he completed the left side of her head.
As the man unclipped the guard and began to fade her hair down to the skin, the fade starting at the level where her original undercut would have stopped, Caroline felt tears well up in her eyes. She had always been so careful not to burn or even tan, wearing hats, sunscreen, anything to protect her perfect skin which had been so often marred by bruises. Her skincare routine had been extensive and expensive but now that would be gone. Just like her hair and her blue eyes.
Rick saw her crying and rubbed her buzzed nape gently, “I know it’s hard but this is how you don’t get caught. You’re lucky you found me.”
The newly independent woman took a deep shuddering breath and stopped her tears from falling. She set her jaw in determination.
“You’re right. Thank you. How am I going to pay for all of these things you’re doing for me? I haven’t worked yet. I only have a little bit of cash,” she said with more confidence.
”That’s why I’m collecting your hair. It’s beautiful so I’ll be able to sell it to a wig company. I’ll take out what I need to cover these startup costs and then you can keep the rest. It should be plenty, you have, or well had, high value hair,” he said, shifting the chair and fading her nape.
”Thanks I guess,” she said as she looked at her strange reflection that would only grow more strange.
Rick finished fading her nape and the last side of her head. She desperately wanted to reach up and feel the bristly red hair but decided against it. Afraid to spontaneously reach climax in front of the man she was becoming increasingly attracted to, she chose to forego that moment of pleasure.
”Alright let’s lose this length up top,” the man said, placing the long hair on her crown into a tie about three inches from the root. He snipped it away as quickly as he had cut the other ponytails and set it with the rest of the long hair that had once been hers.
Her head felt lighter than ever before as he used a misting spray bottle to dampen the last hair on her head. Taking the same sharp scissors he had used to cut the ponytails away, he pulled sections of hair up with a comb and snipped them off. The damp hair joined the dry hair that had been buzzed off in her lap and around the chair on the floor. She already felt itchy from the short hair clippings on her neck.
”Once I finish cutting this, we’ll do the color. While we wait for the dye to work, I’ll get you the contacts and you’ll put them in. We’ll have to lose your driver’s license until we can get you a new one,” he said, continuing to snip the hair away with skillful hands.
Caroline couldn’t help but continue to find the experience extremely arousing as the attractive older man seemed to be so willing and capable to care for her. His possession of her look was both distressing and pleasing to her. She was nervous to be going through such a change but she was excited that he was making her undergo that change.
“What’s your alias going to be? Cara is a good first name. It’s close so you won’t forget it but far enough off that it shouldn’t get you recognized. What about the last name?” Rick asked, now shaping and thinning out the slightly longer than two inch hair.
”I could use my mom’s maiden name?” the girl who would now become Cara suggested.
“Nope, that’s too easy. I’m sure they’ll have access to that. Thompson. I knew someone with the last name Thompson. Does that work for you?” he asked, running the comb through her short hair, slicking it back.
“My name is Cara Thompson, nice to meet you Rick,” she said, doing her best pleasant smile, allowing her once hidden southern accent to shine through.
“Perfect! The accent is a nice touch too,” he said, moving to get the brown hair dye.
”Thanks, I just kind of brought it back. That’s how I used to sound until my boyfriend made fun of it too much,” she said, continuing to fight the urge to rub her head. She hoped she would have a chance later to finally reach the orgasm she had been so ferociously fighting down.
”If he made fun of that accent, I get why you shot him. I love it,” the man said, using a brush to apply the dye to her hair while also attempting to use humor to help the young woman feel more comfortable.
She laughed, for the first time in what felt like a very long time, “You’re sweet, Rick. Thank you.”
”I just call things as I see them,” he said, applying the dye even to the stubble on the sides of her head and her eyebrows.
”Even my eyebrows?” she asked as she looked at the dark brown dye on her face and head. She had prided herself on her perfect eyebrows, plucking and waxing them into the perfect shape.
”We’re trying to completely conceal the fact that you’re a natural redhead. Expect plenty of touch ups. I guess if you don’t like dying it, I can just shave it with a razor every day. Eyebrows too,” he said, walking into the back room of the shop.
Caroline, who was now trying her best to think of herself as Cara, pondered on the thought of being bald for a moment. She knew she would look hideous to have no hair on her head at all but she had so thoroughly enjoyed the buzz that the thought of a complete razor shave was definitely appealing.
Rick emerged with two new contact containers and a bottle of contact solution. He could see that she was considering something and smirked in recognition.
”That was a joke. I’m not going to have some hairless assistant. Nobody will come to me if we do that. Maybe we can do a headshave one day. I do have a promotion during breast cancer awareness month. It might be a good idea to keep you shaved bald for that,” he said considering his options.
While the dye worked to change her hair color, Caroline/Cara worked to change her eye color. After what felt like an eternity and a half of a bottle of contact solution, she felt confident placing the contacts. It looked strange to see herself, short brown hair and eyes looking back at herself in the mirror.
Before long it was time to rinse out the dye and to style her hair. Rick gently rinsed away the dye with warm water, careful to keep dye from running into her eyes as he rinsed it away from her eyebrows. Finished, he sat her up and towel dried her head. Using a generous helping of hair gel and a comb he slicked her hair straight back.
”Ok the hair is done. I brought you out a bottle of self tanner, go into the bathroom and put it all over yourself. When you’re done, I’ll let you clean up for the rest of the day. You’ll be paid for a half day of work since you didn’t come in until midday,” he said, removing the cape from the now short haired woman known as Cara.
As quickly as she could, Caroline/Cara worked to apply the self tanning lotion to her body. Stripping down into the nude and starting at her face, she hurried to cover her whole body. With the task completed, she pulled her clothes back on before even taking the chance to look at her new appearance.
When she emerged, Rick waited with a broom and dustpan. “You look good. And very different. It’s nice to meet you Cara Woodwick,” he said, further reiterating her new identity.
Bashfully took the broom and dustpan to clean up. Throughout the rest of the day, she did what she could to keep the shop clean. She also cleaned the back room out to sleep in. There was a bathroom with a sink but no shower, a desk, a couch, a mini-fridge, and a mini-fridge. She would be forced to take sink baths and sleep on the battered old couch but it was air conditioned and it was safe.
As the work day drew to an end, she felt her stomach grumble but did her best to ignore it the same way she ignored the powerful urge to feel her head and to masturbate. Rick surprised her with a fast food bag that held a cheeseburger and fries. She wolfed then down as he ate much more calmly.
”No this doesn’t count as a proper date,” he said, as he picked up the trash, implying that he would not be spending the evening with her.
Rick left soon after, showing her where blankets and a pillow were. He left a bottle of men’s shampoo and told her to use it as body wash as well. Locking the door behind himself, he walked to his car and left.
Caroline who from now on would refer to herself as Cara, now finally alone, stood in front of a mirror and examined herself. She looked so dark. The self tanner had turned her skin an olive toned bronze color. Her hair was brutally short and brown. Her eyes were brown as well. Dropping her jeans and underwear, Cara finally allowed herself to experience the erotic pleasure that her new appearance brought her.