I stepped out into the frantic street started working my way through the throngs of people towards my hotel. What I thought was going to be a long and boring day had turned to simple enough. Ever since 2031 you’re required to go to your nearest ID chip hub for an update every year just to make sure you hadn’t been trying to tamper with it or stop anyone else from cloning it. Because I work and live alone in the solar panel fields out in the desert it’s not just a normal appointment for me so I usually take a couple of days in the city just so I can have some actual human contact. The most I ever usually get is crackling voice comms with engineers.
I always keep my mid back brunette hair in ponytail or braid. It’s just simpler to keep it out of the way than to try and do anything fancy with it. The same with clothes. Jeans and a tank top is the most imaginative that it gets. I know I look completely out of place alongside these power-suit wearing jackals that surround me as I wait to cross the road but I find that amusing rather than embarrassing.
I looked across to opposite corner to see a group of people approaching everyone that passes and handing out a leaflet. People ahead of me walk by without even glancing at the leaflet and obviously ignoring the person trying to get their attention. The chyme sounds to signal for us to cross and we set off in unison. One of the girls, she looks no older than sixteen, turns and catches my eye and starts to move across to intercept me as soon as I step onto the pavement. Oh great! This is exactly the time I don’t want to be distinguishable from all the suits. As I reach her I have no choice but to hear her out.
“Hi. I’m with Kerler-Hair. We’re having a product analysis session later today at our headquarters. If your interested in being a candidate please come along!”
“Uh..ye thanks” I nodded and accepted the leaflet, folding it away in my pocket and moving on as fast as I could. I made it to the hotel and stepped into the elevator. I held out my arm for the scanner and once it had recognised me it set off soundlessly. I took the leaflet out of my pocket and looked it over.
‘Kerler-Hair invites you to come and be part of a brand new product that will revolutionise the hair and beauty industry. Prospective candidates should attend our headquarters by 4pm and if you are selected will be generously rewarded for your help.”
I glanced at the reward and was a taken aback. Female candidates were being offered the equivalent of half my years salary, male candidates were a fraction of that but still an impressive figure. I decided that since I was didn’t have anything too special planned for the rest of the day to give it a go and scanned the back of the leaflet with my phone, instantly it had a calendar appointment with directions ready.
I didn’t need to guess which building was Kerler-Hair’s as I walked down the street. It was the most eye-catching in sight with multicoloured windows the twenty foot high rotating hologram above the pavement. I entered through the rotating doors and after brandishing the leaflet was shown to a side room. Inside were rows of chairs. If I had to guess there was around twenty other women in the room, no men since they had a later arrival time. I took a seat and let my eyes wander around the room. Numerous posters depiction all the products of Kerler-Hair. Shampoo, conditioner, hairdryers, clippers, styling razors, styling chairs and wash stations and so on. You could kit out an entire salon with products all from this company it seemed.
A door opened, not the one I or any of the other candidates had entered from but one that lead further into the building. A man in a white lab coat entered and surveyed the room before him. No one really knew where to look. I watched him as he moved through the chairs and glanced at each woman, occasionally fingering their hair like he was inspecting a dog show. Eventually he stood before me, I didn’t look away as he looked me over and tried my best to look as calm as possible.
“Your perfect I think” he stated matter of factly, “Follow me please”
He turned on his heel and started to walk away. Not realising immediately what happened I gathered myself and set off after him. I saw a few jealous looks as I went past the other girls but I didn’t care. I had past the first test, whatever it was. He lead me into an elevator and barked out a command,
“Proceeding to level 72. Research and Development” an automatic sounding female voice replied and off we went.
As we stood in the in elevator I really wasn’t sure wither or not I should try and make small talk or what to do. This guy didn’t seemed like the type to make idle chit chat with. The doors opened to the new floor and we set off down a pristine white corridor. On the wall I read signs for numerous testing areas and by the direction we where going it seemed I was going to ‘Testing Area: Alpha’. We rounded another corner and sure enough at the end of the hall I saw the door with a small sign denoting it. About halfway down the corridor he stopped and opened a side door, leading me into what looked like a meeting room.
Inside was a simple metal desk with six chairs around it. Standing against the wall was a women who was obviously waiting for us. She seemed a lot different to everyone else I had seen in this place. She wore lose fitting blouse with slim fit red jeans and actually looked pleased to see me. The man lead me to the table and gestured for me to sit.
“Please sign this non-disclosure agreement and this release form.” he produced two documents and placed them on the table and handed me a pen before stepping back and seemingly looking off into the distance.
I had no idea what to, both the documents were a few pages each and filled with legal jargon I couldn’t make any sense off, I just stared between the two.
“Oh for goodness sake Steve, show a little bit of tactfulness and understanding” the women stepped forward and offered her hand, “Hannah Kerler, founder and head Kerler-Hair. Nice to meet you Miss?”
“Bays…Lori Bays.” I shook her hand “I’m sorry, I don’t know what all this is” I looked down at the papers.
“My apologies for Steve. He’s my head researcher and doesn’t exactly interact with customers, he insisted that he picked the candidates for this product test. These are both boilerplate documents. One states that your not going to tell our secrets to our competitors or the press about anything that happens today and the other says you can’t sue us for something that might go wrong.”
I looked up at her, alarmed by the mention of something going wrong.
“But that won’t happen” she said hurriedly “It’s just a formality, all the components of the product you’ll be testing have passed extensive individual scrutiny. It’s just because this test is with them all together and is what we’re using as evidence for our government approval which will allow us to sell it. We need to cross the i’s and dot the t’s as the saying goes.”
I kept my eyes on this women, this Hannah. I had no reason to believe she was trying to cover something up I think. She was just being honest as to why I needed to sign the documents. I knew I wasn’t going any further unless I signed them, so I did.
“Excellent” Hannah beamed now evidently more relaxed, “Follow me”
We all trooped out the little room and made our way down through the door marked ‘Testing Area: Alpha’. Inside there was a few people standing front of monitors and taking notes and some hurrying about with cables. In the centre a large clear dome sat on a raised platform. Inside the dome I could see a hovering chair that seemed to be shaped to mould to the human body with a small tablet screen that was plugged in at the bottom.
“Lori.” Hannah took my arm and lead me towards the dome “Let me introduce you to our latest product and my personal pet project. The Omni-Style. The worlds first fully robotically automatic haircutting system.”
I wasn’t really sure how to react to the Omni-Style. I’m sure I’d had been designed to look as aesthetically neutral as possible but it came off a little under whelming. I think Hannah noticed my rather passive expression which prompted her to launch into what sounded like a script for a holo-advert.
“When you want your hair cut to these days you need to book your appointment at a salon such a long way in advance, turn up exactly on time and deal with all the noise and pompous associated with it that environment, wait an age while some chatty little bimbo poorly cuts your hair into a style your not really sure that you even want and then being asked to pay a half a months salary just for the privilege.
With the Omni-Hair that is all a thing of the past. All conventional haircuts you can think of are pre-programmed into its memory and you can download an app to your phone in which can design and upload your own custom style. All you need is to sit down, instruct the Omni-Style and off you go. For today’s non-stop lifestyles this is the perfect product at at least half the time and a fraction of the cost of a regular salon.”
I simply nodded along trying to seem enthusiastic. Having finished her pitch Hannah suddenly switched gears and stepped forward, announcing herself to the room.
“Right everyone! You all know the criteria for this to get government approval for sale. Only the client, in this case the lovely Lori, and a single operator, which will be me, can be in the room. I want everyone out by the time I’ve got Lori strapped in and ready to go.”
Everyone else obediently made there way to the exits, I saw that Steve lingered a little longer, ushering everyone out at the door.
“I’ll have the male candidate ready as soon as your done here” he called to Hannah and then disappeared, closing the door behind him.
Hannah took my arm and lead me up inside the dome, motioning me to sit in the hover chair. I hopped easily over the lip into the chair and settled back. Hannah went behind me and lifted my hair out so it fell down the back of the chair before standing beside me and smiling.
“Ok Lori, the tablet down here is actually a zero-gravity video panel that takes feeds from all the camera’s inside the dome. You see all those tiny black dots on the inside of the dome? Those are the cameras. We decided having a mirror in front of the client was unnecessary if we could show them what’s happening all the time during a cut. The computer will pick out the best angle to show you exactly what’s happening throughout the haircut and the video panel well always be in a place you can easily watch regardless of your position in the Omni-Style. Now, any last question’s before we get started?”
I shock my head slowly, not really sure if I knew enough of what was about to happen to ask any questions of it.
“Fantastic” Hannah beamed “I’ll go to the control panel, get you strapped in and we’ll get straight into it.”
I sat and watched as she walked out of the dome and went to the panel that originated from the base and pressed a button. Suddenly a door seemed to appear from no wear and rose up to close the gap in the dome, it whispered a soft hiss as it close completely.
The lips of the chair suddenly flicked open and a criss-cross web of heavy silk like thread appeared at my feet and began gradually travelling up my body being pulled along either side at lip of the chair. Just as it reached my shoulder it stopped travelling before a soft whirling noise started and I felt the web being pulled tight over my body, pinning me to the chair firmly but comfortably. A clear plastic sheet followed the webbing and once it was at my shoulders promptly tightened down. I felt like I was shrink wrapped into the chair!
“Ok Lori. Your strapped in and caped up.” I jumped a little when I heard Hannah’s voice coming through an intercom beside my ear, “We’ll do a standard hair wash to start”
There was a small chime and I saw the video screen was now hoovering around for me to read ‘HAIR WASH COMMENCING’
The metal floor underneath the chair started to gradually open, revealing a complex array of metal and wires that I was even having difficulty comprehending. My chair began to lean me back towards the machine that seemed to be rising out above the rest. A basin that had pair of curved metal bars around where I guessed my head was going to be, the bars held little sponges and nozzles. I descended down until my head was in the basin were a robotic arm appeared and placed a clear visor on my forehead.
The could see myself in the monitor from one of the camera’s above my as the screen read ‘INITIAL RINSE’. Warm water started to blast out of the nozzles and the arms began gradually rotating around my my head. The splash back from spray was so immense I was glad of the visor which stopped my face from being drenched. The chair rose up for a moment, letting the nozzles soak all my hair before dropping me back down between the arms.
‘APPLYING SHAMPOO’ the monitor now said. I could see a small set of nozzles now spraying something, again I was raised up and lowered down to cover all my hair. After the nozzles stopped the sponges were moved forward onto my head. They started to roll and rotated over my hair. It felt so alien, like I was being poked and twisted with dozens of fat fingers. This time when I was raised up the bars moved and clamped around my draping hair allowing the sponges to tug and pull at my hair as they worked their way down to the tips. I could see in the monitor the sponges had down their work well, a large and even lather had built up all the way from root to tip.
I was still up high when the monitor said ‘FINAL RINSE’ and the water nozzles fired up again. The sheer force of the water was already dragging my hair about the bowl as I descended back down. For a few moments the nozzles were moved around over my scalp, it felt like any excess suds were being blasted off my hair rather being rinsed off. Suddenly everything stopped and the arm appeared again to remove the visor. The hair washing machine dropped back down and I was returned to my initial position, my hair now dripping wet.
The readout changed to ‘DRYING’. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for what happened next. I started to feel the air around me slowly start move around like a wind. It started to build and build and build to the eventual point that it felt like there was a hurricane happening just inside the dome. The ends of my hair wiped about so violently I had to close my eyes in fear of something flying into them. After around a minute the turbulence steadily tied down and the there was a chime with the readout saying ‘HAIR WASH COMPLETE’.
The doorway steadily appeared again as the door dropped away and the clean floor returned to hid the robotics underneath. Hannah came in and walked around me, inspecting my hair.
“Looks good” she commented matter of factly “Good thorough wash and rinse, I can’t see any residue soap. And its nice and dry. How did it feel for you?”
“A bit scary, but I suppose if its your first time that would always be the case. It would be a lot easier to handle if I were to go again.” I replied, trying to seem as calm and collected as I could even though my heart was pounding.
“Well that’s good” she went on. “The dryer will go again at the end of the next test.”
I tensed up a little at the mention of this but managed a meek smile on the outside. Hannah promptly exited the dome and went back to the control panel.
“Hope you like the idea of being a blonde Lori!” I heard Hannah chirp through the speaker.
Oh help, blonde?! I’ve never even had highlights never mind a complete colour change.
The chime ringed out again and I looked down to see the monitor reading ‘COMMENCING FULL DYE TO COLOUR 9F’ signalling that any reservations I might have were fruitless.
Curiously the chair began to slowly rotate. I watched I was slowly and steadily upturned so I was sitting in the chair completely upside down with hair hanging below me. Despite my position I wasn’t worried I would fall out the chair, the webbing under the cape seemed to adapt to hold me comfortably. Well, however comfortably you can be held upside down. I glanced down to see what was emerging from the mass of electronics.
A metal basin was slowly ascending up out of the wires, inside I could distinctly see a liquid gold like fluid swirling around. I glanced down at the monitor and it showed the basin had a long column underneath and it was pumping the fluid from the bottom of the column back to the top. As the basin rose up the ends of my hair started to playfully dance around with the edges of the bowl. Just as I took a deep breath to calm myself the chair slowly lowered me towards the basin. My hair immediately was pulled into the centre swirl and I imagine it was dragged deep into you column as I continued to descend. I suddenly realised I was being physically dipped into this swirling bowl of hair dye, just like a chip being dipped into sauce.
The chair dropped my head all the way into the basin until the liquid was swirling around just above my eyebrows. I was thankful that I at least wasn’t going to have to close my eyes again. I looked up at the monitor which showed a timer that had started to countdown from ’05:00′. The swirling fluid felt rather pleasant against my head, it wasn’t warm or cool but the movement felt like a soft massage. Every so often there was a gentle tug, I guessed it was something in the column untangling my long hair in the basin.
I started to feel a little light headed around the time the timer showed ’00:45′. Being held upside isn’t good for you no matter how comfy it is. The timer reached zero and immediately reset to ’00:30′ with the message ‘LOCK-IN SOLUTION’. I could just about see the golden fluid start to dissolve away to be replaced by something much clearer. I could tell by the pungent smell that it wasn’t water. Occasionally some of my hair came up high enough for me to see it had now changed to a golden platinum blonde.
The second countdown reached zero and the fluid swirled away. The chair lifted up just slightly before a pair of rolling bars flipped up and held my hair between them like a mangle. As the chair raised me up slowly I could feel my hair being slowly pulled through the tight opening, squeezing the excess fluid into the basin as it dropped away. The moment I had cleared the mangle arms I was rotated back to normality. The dryer steadily build up again, this time I watched as my blonde tresses were flicked around in the wind.
Hannah re-entered the dome once it had finished and made her inspections. I looked down at screen which was flicking around the different camera angles showing me my new look from every direction. I’ve never had any huge opinion on fashion but I was glad I worked and lived alone. Blonde was not my best look.
“Coverage is even, the highs and lows look natural enough.” She was running her hands through my hair in places. “Looks like the mix was right, it’s not feeling brittle or rough. Perfect. On to some cutting now”
She strode out to her console and I was again locked into the dome.
“We’ll do some layering now Lori.” the intercom sounded.
The chime sounded and the screen read ‘BASIC LAYERING – LONGEST AS CURRENT LENGTH’. The chair started rotating, forward this time. It settled with me looking straight down, my hair hanging down around my face. I watched on as three arms appeared from under me. At the ends of two I could see long comb attachments and they started drawing my hair into the attachment of the third. My hair was being combed into an elastic looking strap that was being held open wide. The combs were rough and alien, the teeth ran so taught to my scalp I was scared it might pull a few hairs clean out.
The combs ran through my hair dozens of times until it was all drawn into the strap. The little prongs holding the elastic retracted and the elastic snapped tightly around the end of my hair. I guessed it was around 4 inches from the very end. There was pause, which felt like the machine was deciding what to do almost. I could hear a humming noise from the arm that had held the strap. I looked up at the exact moment a tiny circular saw appeared just at the band. It shifted up, easily severing the hair caught in the band. The arm dropped away with a chunk of my hair clutched in the band and I was slowly rotated back to my starting position. Hannah didn’t come in this time, she just peered in for a moment.
“Oldest trick in book for getting layers. Pulling the hair over your head and cutting the ends.”
I replied with a smile, although I was starting to wonder when I was going to be released from this Onmi-Style. Hannah’s next words brought initial relief and then slight panic.
“Last test for you coming now Lori. We’re going for a neck length bob. And please don’t be alarmed by the burning smell.”
Burning smell?! Why on earth should there be a burning smell I wondered.
The chime sounded and the screen read ‘NECK LENGTH BLUNT BOB’. The chair adjusted slightly so my head was bolt upright. A single, rather menacing looking robot arm appeared from the floor. A long metal wire was strung tightly in-line with a little rolling wheel. ‘HEATING CUTTING WIRE’ the screen read. I glanced at the wire expecting something to happen. I didn’t notice at first because the change was so slow. The wire seemed to turn brown and then eventually orange. I realised the wire was being heated to the point it was almost red hot!
‘CUTTING TEMPERATURE REACHED’ the screen read. This signalled the robotic arm to move into place. The little rolling wheel was placed against my neck with wire parallel to the floor just millimetres from my hair. The arm started to move, ever so slowly, with the wheel rolling against my neck as it guided the wire into my hair. I watched frozen as the wire touched the front of my hair on one side prompting everything underneath it to just drop away as the hot wire seared it off. The burning scent hit my nostrils almost immediately and I had to fight down a cough incase I caused a horrible accident. I felt the roller pass under my ear. The wire rotating slightly with the curve of my neck. The limp hair that dropped away from under the wire briefly rested on my shoulder before gravity got the better of it as it feel past my feet into the dark base of the Omni-Style.
I watched in the monitor as the rolled and the wire reached the back of my neck. More blonde tresses fell away and for the first time in years the little butterfly tattoo on my neck was revealed. I felt the roller start to round around to my other ear and braced myself for the burning smell again. It had gone away for the brief moment the wire was at my nape. I watched in the screen as the wire carved a perfectly straight and level line through my my hair until it emerged through the other side.
‘CUT COMPLETED’ the screen read and the arm with the red hot wire descended down to hide away in the mass of wires were it had came. The chair rotated back it’s starting position and the floor closed.
“I’ll just get you uncaped and unstrapped Lori and then that’ll be you done.” I heard Hannah chirp from the intercom. The cape slowly fell away into the lips of the chair. The webbing gently loosened off and gradually disappeared letting me step out of the chair. It took a moment to catch my breath as I stood up, checking myself in the screen which was now just showing a mirror image. If I was being honest, I didn’t much care for the new me. The cut was functional for sure but the blonde just felt instinctively wrong. Maybe it was the different shade of eyebrows or my desert tanned complexion, whatever it was I was glad I was able to wear a cap until it grew out.
I stepped out through the gap of the dome to a beaming Hannah.
“Oh Lori, it worked! It all worked! I mean I knew it was going to work but still, all we need to do is the male tests and we’ll be ready to sell in less than a month!”
She seemed so enthusiastic I couldn’t help but smile and be happy for her.
“I’ll call Steve through and he’ll get your payment sorted out and show you the way out.”
She tapped her screen a few times and Steve’s face appeared. I thought her was looking a little concerned.
“Steve, all the tests with Lori went perfectly. If you can come and take her through and sort out her fee that’d be great.”
“Uh ye sure…” I could hear in his voice he was gearing up for bad news almost straight away, “Boss we have a problem. We don’t have any candidates for the male testing, only one that turned up was viable and he refused to sign the documents. We’re pretty sure he was a reporter for one of the beauty holo-pages.”
I watched the colour drain away from Hannah’s face. I thought she was going to faint as she almost fell back to lean on the desk.
“I can organise another test group but that’ll take another couple of days…” Steve said, obviously aware that he was giving news Hannah didn’t want to hear. I couldn’t understand what was going on so I asked.
“What’s the big deal? Cant you just wait for the new test group? I know this company’s easily big enough to handle a product testing delay so what’s the big deal?”
I looked between the screen and Hannah, waiting for either of them to give me an answer.
“Sure, the company can handle a delay. This project could overrun another year and the company wouldn’t even notice it” Hannah sighed slowly, “But this project has been my baby up until now. The board have been creeping towards pushing me out for months now Lori. Some of them don’t want someone like me at the head anymore and they’ve been gaining support. Enough support to force me to step down at the vote tomorrow. If I had shown up at the vote with government approval settled for the Omni-Style I would have won back the support of enough members to keep the company in my control. That’s why I needed all the testing done today.”
I could see she was near tears as she finished. I sort of understood why, Hannah was facing being kicked out the company she had started from scratch and this machine was her ticket to stay for as long as she wanted to.
“Why does it need to be a male candidate?” I asked Steve in the monitor after thinking for a moment.
He blinked, obviously taken aback at my question, before he glanced down at his papers.
“It doesn’t actually need to be a male candidate, it’s just that to do the full testing we need to use all components. And well, we wanted a male candidate because what the remaining components do would probably cause a women to kick up a fuss even with the non-disclosure document. And the last thing you want for a new product is bad PR before its even launched.”
“What if you had a women who didn’t care?” I asked with a little tilt of my head.
He snorted back laugh before replying sarcastically, “I’m sure there’s a city women who doesn’t care about the perfect appearance.”
“Shut up Steve!” Hannah blurted out, catching on to what I was implying “Lori, are…are you serious? Because if you are I’ll quadruple your fee. In fact I’ll pay you a matching salary to what you have now for five years!”
“Donate the extra to charity or something, I don’t need it. I work in the solar fields on my own so my appearance means next to nothing to me. Plus something shorter might keep me cooler out there.” I said with a smile, glad that Hannah was suddenly looking much more positive.
A solitary tear rolled down her cheek as she beamed at me.
“Steve, get everything together for the government approval so it can be sent off as soon as we’re finished.” she cut him off without waiting for a reply.
“Lori” she grasped my shoulders tightly “Are you absolutely sure about this?”
I nodded back, suddenly realising I was willingly volunteering to step back into the Omni-Style.
Hannah nodded back “On you go then, take your seat.”
I re-entered the dome and slide into the chair. I was tucked in under the webbing and cape again in moments.
“Ok Lori. This time around things are going to be a bit more intense than last time. I hope your ready for this”
I glanced nervously at the closing doorway, trying to imagine something more intense than the hot wire cutter.
The familiar chime ringed out and the screen read ‘LONG FLAT TOP – PLEASE ENSURE THERE ARE NO LOOSE ITEMS’. The extra message made little sense to me as the floor opened up again. A single robotic arm with an attachment raised up in front of me and stayed still just long enough for me to inspect it. The attachment had a clear, plastic, cone-shaped funnel and inside the funnel I could see I set of blades a bit like the antique lawn mowers. A clear tube ran out of the back of the arm and down into the depths of wires. The blades seemed to have little notches to hold onto inside the funnel so they could be moved up and down.
Suddenly I could hear a suction noise build up from the little arm and the blades started to spin. Faster and faster until they were just a metal blur. The blades dropped down two notches so they were no more than half an inch from the end of the funnel and the arm moved to just below my sideburn. I could feel the air being pulled towards the vacuum from my cheek. The arm moved closer and the ends of my bob started being drawn up and into the funnel. Without warning the arm moved the funnel flush against my head sending my bob into the blades. There was a terrifying crunching noise and a saw a chunk of my hair fly out the back of the machine and down through the plastic pipe. The sucking arm moved up the side of my head, dragging every hair near it into the blades. It started to move around the back of my head and I saw one side of my bob was gone, reduced to a length I doubt I could even hold with my fingers. With each movement of the arm I watched as more blonde hair sailed down the tube. It finished the sides and the arm moved to my front. I heard a definite change in the tone of the vacuum which told me it was now pulling even harder and the blades moved back up a notch.
As the arm moved through my hairline it sucked up what remained of my bob, more blonde hair disappeared almost without a trace and the hair that was left behind stood freely on its end from the sheer force of the vacuum I guessed. Or maybe it was because it was now so short that nothing was pulling it down. Back and forth the arm went, I smiled a little at the picture in the screen. My hair was certainly now flat on top. The haircut finished and the arm dropped away.
Hannah entered the dome. I could see her make up had ran from crying a little earlier but I didn’t mention it. She seemed to engrossed in inspecting my hair. She moved her pen over the top, checking that it was roughly level and even.
“I love that component. We pulled the design from something that was around last century, I think it was called the Flowbee. Back then there wasn’t the suction available and we had to add in the cone so you didn’t need to bounce it around the clients head so. There’s another attachment that can go even shorter than that one, but its just a shorter cone with finer blades. We don’t need to do that one and won’t. I feel like I’ve put you through enough already. I think we’ll go for the final cut.”
I nodded along trying to understand the best I could. I was pretty sure what was coming next but was very nervous about how it could happen. I think Hannah might have sensed this as she gently patted my my shoulder.
“This last one is safe as safe can be I promise you. It’s very close to the technology we use for our leg hair robot except a bit more messy. Don’t worry, all the initial test guys said it felt very soothing the whole way through.” She winked as she turned on the way out. Despite her words of comfort I still wasn’t sure I was ready for whatever was coming next.
The doorway disappeared and the floor opened up. The screen read ‘COMMENCING CLEAN START PROCEDURE’ and somehow felt much more ominous to read than any of the other messages.
The floor opened up and a much smaller robotic arm appeared. On the end of it I could see a small spray nozzle as it rose up to aim down on top of my head. ‘APPLYING GRANULES’ the screen read. A fine white dust started to be sprayed all over my hair. It was so shiny it almost looked like glitter. It clung to my hair with ease, the nozzle wasting almost nothing. The nozzle turned off after a minute and I looked in the screen, my hair looked more silver now than blonde with the amount of the white dust that covered it.
‘APPLYING WATER’ the screen now read. The nozzle arm repositioned itself and sure enough began spraying water all over my hair and the dust. I could see almost instantly the dust reacting to the water. It expanded rapidly to cover my my hair in a white, almost cream like, foam. The nozzle moved rapidly spraying the water and setting off all the dust into this foam until it looked as if a giant marshmallow had been plopped onto my head. The foam felt very cold against my scalp, not uncomfortable but persistent nonetheless. I glanced at the monitor which now read ’04:57′ telling me I had nice wait for whatever this foam was to do its work. I closed my eyes and started to hum to myself, enjoying the near dream state the cooling sensation was putting me in.
With one minute left on the timer I heard more robotic arms start to move around me again. I slowly opened my eyes to see a rounded bowl was now sitting around my shoulders like a collar. Over the top of the bowl another arm stretched over the top of my head and was ready with its attachment at my hairline. I glanced it up to see a little squeegee at the end of the arm, poised to obviously start something at the end of the countdown.
The timer reached zero and the squeegee was placed at my hairline and slowly began to draw back. My eyes opened wide as I saw in the monitor that nothing was left behind but my pale skin, the short blonde haircut was somehow being cleaned away with the cold foam. The squeegee pushed the built up of foam off the back of my head and into the bowl the waiting bowl, in a moment it was repeating the same smooth motion to the right of the first pass. I was dumbfounded. I had expected some sort of blade to used as part of this ‘clean start’ process but all I could feel was the soft rubber fingers running over my head and leaving nothing behind. It took it all of 5 passes to do the top of my head and then the bowl was pulled away for a moment. The chair turned me around and gradually rotated my forward so I was facing down into the bowels of the Omni-Cut once again. The bowl came in again and I could see in the screen the squeegee moving up my neck, pulling the build up of foam over my head and dumping it into the bowl. There was a strange tingling over my head as I felt the air move against my scalp.
A final chime signalled I was done being cleaned of my hair and the bowl dropped away, I could see the mass of foam that had been on my head and had somehow taken the last of my hair with it. I was rotated back to normal and the floor closed up, for all it appeared I was now just a bald girl in a hover chair. The cape and and webbing went away and I could see Hannah was frantically doing something at her station. I took the brief moment to run my hands over my head. Every touch of my fingers over my bare skin was like a lightning bolt of pleasure. The doorway dropped open and I made my way out to talk to Hannah.
“What on earth was that stuff? How am I bald without some sort of razor?” I asked with one hand stall caressing the side of my head.
“The stuff that was sprayed on before the water…” she replied with a smile, “It was reactive ice crystals. If you combine it with water and you leave the resulting foam on hair it freezes and breaks it down. After that you can just wipe it off with something like a squeegee with no effort. It doesn’t effect the root of the hair so your hair will eventually grow back in.”
“I think I’m going to have to get one of those Omni-Styles for my personal station. Getting that done every morning would be heavenly.”
“I’ll make sure you get it free as part of your fee hun.” Hannah smiled as she finished typing something up and sent it away. She turned to me “Listen Lori, you had no obligation to get this done and there’s no way you could have known you look as good as you do bald. I owe you alot, you’ve kept me in control of my company. If you ever need anything don’t be afraid to get in touch.”
“Well…” I made a cheeky grin “Maybe you can take a spin in the Omni-Style and I’ll take the controls?”
“Ahhh ye” she laughed nervously as she glanced at my shiny head, “Maybe….”