|Written by Simon Kewin / Artwork by Holly Eddy
“I just can’t do a thing with it,” said Meddy, glowering at her reflection, and at Fabio standing
behind her. Fabio who, it was said, could work miracles with scissors and comb. His salon was
if-you-have-to-ask-the-price-you-can’t-afford-it exclusive. A haven for the rich and famous. And, in
the upper room, those individuals in need of a discreet, special attention.
“You have problem hair, madam?” he asked, standing over her, assessing her. The gold and
marble décor of the private room sparkled around him. It was all classical arches and ionic
columns. She liked it.
“You could say that,” she said. “It has a mind of its own.”
“What products have you tried on it?”
“Lots. But there tends to be a…bad reaction.”
“May I see?”
She kept it covered up, of course. Hoods, hats, scarves. Whatever she was doing, her hair always
got in the way. A good pair of sunglasses sorted out her other issues, but always there was the
hair. It set her apart. Stopped her belonging. Supposed friends made excuses and claimed to be
busy when she rang. Same with lovers. Men were such shallow creatures. And so fragile. She
simply wanted an uncomplicated relationship or two. And so here she was, sitting in the exclusive
Hair Apparent salon, to see what the famous Fabio could do for her.
“Are you sure you want to see?” she asked.
“Quite sure, madam. I have been faced with many hairdressing disasters over the years. Once I
had a lady client who let her hair grow over twenty metres long. Such beautiful golden plaits but
you wouldn’t believe the split ends. Then there was the gentleman buccaneer who insisted on
setting light to his beard whilst at work. There is no situation I cannot rescue.”
“And your immunisations are up to date?” she asked.
The question threw him momentarily. She was used to it.
“Well, yes,” he said. “But I don’t see…”
He went silent, then, as she slipped back her silken cowl to reveal the writhing nest of green and
black snakes that made up her hair. Their tiny heads hissed and snapped at him. They weren't
poisonous, but their tiny teeth were sharp and could break the skin. As more than one lover had
discovered. Always an embarrassment.
“I see, madam,” he said after a moment. “Excuse me for asking, but is it true what they say?
About your gaze, I mean?”
“We’ll be fine so long as I keep my sunglasses on and I only look at you in the mirror.”
“Very well. And did you have any particular…style in mind?”
“I want to be, I don’t know, cool for once. Fashionable. What do you suggest?”
There was a pause while Fabio considered, assessing her from all angles. The calculating look on
his face didn’t bode well.
“Dreadlocks are very popular these days,” he said at last. “It’s really a very ancient style.
Classical, you might say. Perhaps some beads or bands to keep everything…in order.”
“Been there, done that. I may even have started it. I want something new.”
“Yes, yes, I see.” Fabio moved his hand towards her head. One of the snakes struck, too quick for
him to react. Two red pinpricks appeared on the back of his hand.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “They get very defensive. They’re just trying to protect me.”
“They’re certainly lively,” said Fabio. “Have you considered drugging them? To calm them down a
little I mean?”
“Won’t work. It’s the symbiosis. We share a metabolism, so I get affected too.”
“Then perhaps a good snake-charmer could persuade them to co-operate? To lie straight, for
instance, or even to curl up into a wave.”
“Tried that, too. As soon as you hit the night clubs they come out of their trance and start lashing
around in time to the music. They like a good rave.”
“And their…removal is not an option?”
“I see,” said Fabio. He was frowning now.
“There’s nothing you can do, is there?” she asked.
“Madam, I can see only one way to make your hair more fashionable.”
“If we can’t change the hair we must change the fashion.”
“Can you wait here for a moment?”
She sat while Fabio bustled off, down the stairs to the more public floor of the salon. Absent-
mindedly she let one of the snakes play through her hands, twisting and winding it around her
fingers. Then she heard footsteps approaching. Several sets. Fabio was no longer alone.
“Madam, I’d like to introduce you to some other clients of mine. Are you by any chance familiar
with the band Succubus?”
“Can’t say that I am. I’m more of a classical girl.”
“Quite. Well, their music is certainly invigorating. They’re wildly popular. A melange of the punk
and metal genres if that means anything. As it happens I’m their stylist. May I introduce you?”
“Sure, why not?”
Fabio stepped back to let his other customers file in. Meddy studied them in the mirror. Three
young women, dressed in black leather and spiky jewellery, the effect lessened only slightly by
their hairdresser’s ponchos. One had spiked red hair like frozen fire, another was completely bald
and the third had hair with some kind of electricity sparking away in it. All three wore dark
sunglasses, even though they were indoors.
“Ladies,” said Fabio. “I’d like you to meet Medusa. Meddy to her friends. Her gaze can turn you to
stone and she has a writhing mass of snakes for hair.”
There was a familiar silence as the newcomers took in what they’d been told. Then they began to
speak all at once.
“Oh my God, that is the coolest hair I have ever seen.”
“Live snakes. Actual live snakes. That is freakin’ awesome.”
“Look at them. They move. They actually move. I so want hair like that.”
One of the musicians—the one with the spiky red hair—knelt down beside Meddy, addressing her
in the mirror.
“Listen, I don’t suppose you’d be interested in joining the band would you?”
“I’m afraid I don’t play any instruments.”
The young woman waved a dismissive hand. “Detail. You can learn. It’s all about the attitude,
girl. And you’d fit right in, believe me. You can tour the world. Party ‘till you drop, have all the
guys you want and take no crap from anyone. Become one of us. What do you say?”
Meddy considered for a moment. Finally she smiled at her new sisters.
“Fabio,” she said. “It’s true what they say. You really are a genius.”
Simon writes fantasy, sci/fi, mainstream and
some stories that can’t make their minds up.
He is the author of over 100 published short
stories. He lives in England with his wife and
their daughters. His cyberpunk novel The
Genehunter and his fantasy novels Hedge
Witch and Engn were recently published.
He can be summoned from the aether at
simonkewin.co.uk. Sign up for news of his new
releases at bit.ly/snknews.