Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Third Place in the Letter Review Prize for Flash Fiction
New Fiction by Mahara Heslop
14th April, 2023
It would become known as the Day of the Uprising.
No one knew why, or indeed, how it happened, but it changed the world forever. On April first, 2032, the wigs came alive.
Oh, come on, I hear you saying. On April Fool’s day? Pull the other one.
I don’t blame you for being sceptical. Lots of other people assumed the same thing, that it was an April Fool’s joke. Well, except for the tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists, and when has anyone ever listened to them when disaster strikes? Anyway, that’s almost certainly the main reason the hairpieces got the upper hand so quickly.
Hair salons and wig shops were hit first. Without warning, wigs on display stands and mannequins leapt up into the air, diving at clientele and workers alike. They latched onto the faces of their victims and wound themselves tightly around heads, necks, ears – anywhere the strands of hair could reach. No matter how hard the victims pulled and tugged and fought, they were unable to get free before they suffocated.
A number of people in that first wave died from blood loss or stab wounds before they could asphyxiate — sharp implements are abundant in places where one deals with hair, you know. Those unfortunate individuals who were able to fumble for a weapon had valiantly, if somewhat foolishly, attempted to hack and slash their way free. In their panic, and due to being blinded by the wigs, many ended up accidentally cutting their throats, or stabbing themselves through an eye and piercing the brain.
The next wave occurred shortly after and targeted those who were actually wearing hairpieces. The wigs did not discriminate. Every type and style of wig you could imagine was suddenly animate, from the little toupees used to cover a bald spot to elaborate costumery worthy of Elvira herself.
These wigs, instead of smothering their wearers, burrowed into the heads they perched upon. The strands of hair they were made of, once so innocent and benign, became thousands of tiny needles that drilled through flesh and bone with surgical precision. This caused sudden massive brain trauma, killing the victims almost instantly. If you think about it, the wig wearers got off lightly compared to the people caught up in the first wave.
Are you starting to believe what you’re reading? Or at least, considering belief? If you are, right now you’re probably thinking, surely after all that, people started to fight back.
In an ideal world, yes — they would have. We would have. But the reality is, witnesses were either convinced it was a joke and didn’t take it seriously, or were so shocked and horrified they stood around like stunned mullets. Their inaction enabled the wigs to move on to their next victims, and so the third wave began.
What about the wigs that were part of the first wave? I hear you ask. Surely they’d be trapped inside with the dead. After all, they were only hair and fabric. How would they open doors?
Well, doors and glass didn’t stop them. They smashed right through and swarmed the streets, joining their brethren. Have you ever seen a wig break through a glass window or pull a door open? No, I suppose you haven’t. Trust me, you don’t want to see. This whole thing is enough to drive one mad.
Keep in mind, all this happened within the space of a few hours. Initially there was so much chaos and panic, few people thought to check the internet beyond posting their own footage on social media. By the time folks started to realise the Uprising was taking place in towns and cities all over the world, it was already too late.
In the following days, humans both alive and dead were scalped by the rapidly growing (pun not intended) wig army, and those scalps came to life to join the Uprising. Those of us who survived that attack quickly realised our own hair would have to go. We’re all chrome domes now, and damn proud of it.
I don’t know if anyone will intercept this brief tale of humanity’s demise, and I know it raises more questions than it will answer. I apologise. There isn’t time to go into detail; and besides, those of us who are left still don’t have an explanation.
If you’ve found this message, please — heed our distress call. We’re struggling to hold on. I’m broadcasting this message out across the globe and beyond in the hope someone will hear. If there is anyone out there, we could really use your help to take back the upper hand. We live in hope.
One more thing before I sign off: we’re not licked yet. Although far too slow to react when the invasion struck, we will continue to do battle, baldheaded. We will never give in. Bad hair will not get the best of us. Not today.
Author: Mahara Heslop
I’ve always enjoyed creative writing, but only just started to take it seriously shortly before the pandemic. My typical themes include dark humour (or just plain dark, without the funny), satire, social commentary, and the weird and macabre. On the odd occasion, my muse will go in the opposite direction and inspire something that is both outrageous and (hopefully) worthy of a giggle or two. I live in New Zealand with my husband, my son and a very sassy cat named Moxxi. I’m not mad for rugby or cricket, despite our apparent prowess in both. Yes, we have more sheep than people. And no, they don’t have a taste for human flesh, whatever the NZ Film Commission may urge to the contrary. Still, human flesh is fun to write about. And now I’m hungry. Alas.
Original Artwork by Kita Das