There was a Town.
In this Town, every house was alike – red brick walls, tiled roofs, a kitchen, two rooms, a bathroom, , and a basement. The basements though. They were humongous, the pride and glory of Town – stretching deep underground to beneath the middle of the road which these houses lined. Huge. They were quite simply, unlike any basement you would have seen.
Hugo was new to Town. He had wandered over from the Edge, having served his sentence and looking for a new life. There were always men like Hugo passing by the Town, but none of them thought about staying. In the day, all the Town had were its basements and splattering of shops. Nothing for men like Hugo.
“Let’s see what we got here,” he thought as he walked into the Talk of the Town. For all its namesake might imply, the Talk was deadly silent. There was nobody but the bartender. Hugo walked up to the bar counter. She looked up from wiping a wine glass, and Hugo noticed that she had yellowish-green eyes. Reminded him of a cat’s.
“A pint please. And where’s everybody?”
“You must be new. Everyone in Town pretty much lives in their basements during the day, that’s when all the work gets done.”
“Wait, don’t you know where you are? This place is known for its night bazaar. It is quite the attraction and also our only real source of income; it sounds sad but we draw a big crowd every night so we do alright. I’m surprised you’re surprised.”
“Yeah well I just came from the Edge so it’s been a while. Anyway.”
The bartender handed Hugo his pint. He took a gulp.
“So, what about you? Don’t you sell anything at the bazaar?”
“I do, or rather I used to. I sell hand braided fur bracelets while my guys work the bar – the ladies love them but I ran out of supplies recently. Left the cages opened one night. Those fur bunnies sure can run. ”
For all his misgivings, Hugo was not sure if he was comfortable with keeping rabbits in captivity for their fur, he supposed it was not particularly evil or anything. Moreover, she was a very attractive woman and he had been in the Edge for a long time. He decided he never liked animals that much anyway.
“What’s your name?”
“Pleasure. I’m Hugo.”
“What brings you to Town, Hugo?”
“Passing by – but now I’m thinking of staying around till this famous bazaar of yours opens. Anything around here till then?”
“Nope. As I said, no one comes out in the day. Well if you’re bored, why don’t you help me out? I have a couple crates of wine in my basement that I need to bring over. Could use an extra pair of hands. Drinks on the house.”
“You’ll regret saying that. I’m down.”
Eve chuckled. Today was her lucky day it seemed. She locked up the bar and led Hugo to her house with the red brick walls, tiled roof, and humongous basement. The interior looked just like what you would expect a house with a kitchen, two rooms, and a bathroom to look like. Then, they went down to the basement.
Hugo could not believe his eyes – you see he did not know about the basements of the Town – Eve’s basement was an entire warehouse of beers, wines, and spirits. Far as his eyes could see, rows and rows of boxes of alcohol. He tried to act unimpressed.
“The three crates are by aisle three, just over there.” Eve pointed to the aisle about 10 metres to her right.
He strolled towards it, wondering how many aisles there were in this basement. Eve followed behind. As he approached the start of the aisle, Hugo spotted a door at the end.
“Where’s that lead?”
“That’s where I make those fur bracelets, you can have a look if you want. Go ahead.”
Something at the back of his head told him he should not. Curiosity got the better of him.
“Don’t mind if I do.”
Hugo opened the door and was met with an overwhelming stench. Stench of filth and waste. Standing at the door, he could see fifteen cages, all opened, that looked a little too large for rabbits. In the middle of the room among the cages stood a small table that looked like a workstation. He did not try to act impassive this time – he was about to turn around when he heard a shrill voice.
“Goodnight my fur bunny”
Hugo felt a sharp pain at the back of his head as he blacked out.
He woke up to find himself chained and unable to move. There was an IV tube stuck into his right forearm, connected to a rectangular tank of blue liquid. He had no sensation anywhere, he was not even sure if he could blink his eyes. In fact, he thought he was blind initially. His eyes was covered, but not by a blindfold or anything like that. It was as if he was looking through very dark curtains with glimmers of light coming through the gaps. He realised it was hair. Panic filled him as Hugo tried to scream, but there was no sound. He could barely opened his mouth.
“Hope you don’t mind the chains dear. Just a bit of security after the last accident. Beside the hair growing, the serum is supposed to keep them paralysed but maybe they built up immunity. I don’t know, humans sure are good at adapting.”
Eve smiled as she walked towards Hugo. If Hugo could shudder, he would. Standing in front of him, she examined him with her beautiful yellowish-green eyes – almost shining in the dimly lit room. She had a small blade in her hand.
“You are reacting so well to the serum!” Eve gushed.
She got to work. Starting with his face, she gently glided the blade across Hugo’s skin. Long strands of hair dropped to the ground as she continued to remove every last bit of hair from Hugo. By the time she got to his calves, hair had already begun covering his face again. She gathered up the hair from the ground and walked over to the table in the middle of the room. Whistling the tune of Hotel California, she began braiding and weaving Hugo’s hair together. Before long, Eve had made dozens of hair bracelets.
“Time to open shop.”
Thanks for reading, I’ve decided to add in an Author’s notes section to reflect on the process of writing each piece.
This piece was hard to write. I really struggled with Hugo as a character and decided to focus on the …dialogue? The direction of the story was decided at random with bit of a “choose a number between 1 and 2” – it could have been humour or something dark. We ended up with the latter and I kind of liked how the story probably raised more questions than answer them.
Let me know what you think