Get ready for gore galore--the first murder has arrived on the scene...
“Ah, God, yuck,” I spit, shivering from head to toe in revulsion. I peer around to make sure nobody is watching my humiliation before I kick my poor, helpless, newly cow-patty-covered stiletto into the dusty patch of land between the salon and our local Ma & Pa store. I sniff a little, silently paying my respects to my third-favorite black heels, forever slathered in the most revolting substance known to man. Now I’ll have to get my second-favorite pair of red ones out of my Subaru. I’m not taking the risk of walking around barefoot in a town where you can’t step out of your car without planting your foot in a manure-flavored glob of custard. “Eloise lied. She lied. There is a cow on the loose.”
Scowling, grumbling to myself, flicking my legs up behind me to launch the nonexistent remnants of cow feces into the street—this is how I enter the salon. This is me, in all my glory, before my jaw hits the floor and I start screaming bloody murder.
The lights inside have been disabled, so the blue- and purple-painted box of a room is illuminated only by the harsh, gray light of the sky, which can’t seem to figure out whether or not it wants to bring rainy havoc down on Wildewood. The chairs transform into crouched imps in the darkness, waiting to pounce on anyone who dares to enter. Behind these demons, shadows drench the walls. Inky blackness encircles the wisps of smoky hair resting on the tiles; the pair of scissors lying with its jaws wide open in a murky pool of demise; the clawed paws of the tall, opal sinks. It dances itself into a vapor the higher my eyes climb, playing tricks on my vision. In focus, out of focus, in focus, out again—my pupils can’t see reality. Because surely, surely that’s not Eloise slumped against the seat, her neck cracked and bleeding over the edge of the basin so that her head sleeps upside-down on a pillow of newly red hair.
I’m numb, numb to everything, even my own voice, which is shrieking so piercingly that half of the town must have gathered around me by now. But my mind has fallen too deeply into a hornet’s nest of inconsequential thoughts, the only lifeline I have too keep from fainting. I have to keep thinking. Keep my head clear. Do I really want red hair? My eyes are gray. Does red go well with gray? It goes well with green. Eloise’s eyes are green. Were. Were green. Just like her hair was blonde, but now it’s red. But…wait. If Eloise had just arrived—was just getting her hair washed—she wouldn’t have gotten her hair dyed yet. But it’s red. It’s red! I can see it, glowing like a fire truck against the white of the sink, except for a thick inch of liquid around the bottom, which is slowly rising as it seeps in bucketfuls from her neck.
And then what is probably obvious to the crowd behind me clicks in my brain.
“It’s blood,” I say to no one in particular. “Her hair is dyed with blood.”
I don’t know who catches me when my legs lock up and I collapse away from the horror filling my eyes, but I make a mental note to send him a thank-you card when I wake up. I don’t want to end up as dead as Eloise, bleeding and mutilated at a trivial, second-rate salon in an obscure little town the middle of absolutely nowhere.