The police sergeant crouched over the woman’s lifeless body, sipping at his lukewarm coffee. Damn, he thought, another one. Just like the others: no hair, not even eyebrows or eyelashes. Her eyelids were a blotchy purple, and it wasn’t makeup. He knew that when the coroner’s report came back, the cause of death would be suffocation and there would be no trace of hair remaining anywhere on the body. Maybe this time they’d find some clue about this killer’s identity or motive. Unlikely, though. Last time all they’d found was some of Victim Number Two’s hair in the woman’s mouth and throat, with a few cotton/poly blend fibers. The women were apparently unconnected, and the sergeant was getting sick of whatever game this psycho was playing.
A man casually strolled past the yellow tape, weaving through the inevitable gawkers. He smirked inwardly and pulled his fedora down over his eyes a little further. The chill of the winter day made him less than conspicuous in his overcoat and hat. He scratched his chin, fingers searching for any sign of growth. So far he was still clean. Satisfied, he turned and headed away from the crowd to get his morning coffee.
Laughter followed Liz onto the street as she stumbled over the curb. She giggled, steadying herself against the tall man she’d met at the bar. She found his tobacco and lavender scent arousing and she pulled closer as they approached his car. She faced him, leaning against the car in a way that she hoped was seductive but wouldn’t leave her sliding into the icy mud on the street. He leaned in to kiss her, then suddenly collapsed, pulling her down with him. Her eyes grew wide and her shriek was cut short as a damp, chemical soaked cloth was pressed against her face.
Consciousness came slowly and painfully as sounds dimly filtered through Liz’s mind. Worst hangover ever, she thought, in the brief moment before she realized that her hands were not just asleep, but tied behind her. Her head throbbed as she craned her neck to look around and her heart rate increased its rhythmic thudding. She was laying face down on a futon in a sparsely furnished and completely immaculate room. A hairless man was sitting in an armchair across from her, sipping coffee.
“What do you want with me? Who are you? Where’s John? Where am I?” Her voice was dry and uneven, and she became aware of a soreness in her scalp. The man smiled, slowly, like a cat might smile.
“Tsk, tsk, chérie. No more talking.” He rose and strode toward her. “You need to freshen up.”
The man pulled her to her feet and she realized that she was naked. Her horrified gasp earned her no sympathy. He led her to a meticulously neat bathroom. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror; her hair was gone. Every blond strand had been plucked by the root, and her scalp was covered with red blotches. The strange man held a pair of tweezers in his hand as he reached toward her eye.
Once the man was done plucking her eyelashes and eyebrows he’d carefully gathered every single hair and placed it in a small silver bowl. Liz watched as he gently added these new acquisitions to a bulging pillowcase, carefully zipping the top closed afterward. She had seen the news stories and knew it was only a matter of time before he’d killer her and leave her hairless, naked body in the street like the others. She contemplated escape. The window revealed the rooftops of nearby buildings, so she was too high to try jumping. The room had two doors; one to the bathroom and a bolted front door off to her right. There was no phone, therefore no way to call for help.
By the time the sky outside had darkened, the man had shaved her arms and legs with a dry razor, carefully cleaning the blade and collecting the hairs in his little bowl, emptying it frequently in the pillowcase. Ignoring her cries of pain he’d plucked each of her pubic hairs and ripped the hairs from her underarms that had only recently broken the surface of her skin. He carefully dabbed each spot that she bled with alcohol, making her wince. Attempting to pull away earned her a hard slap to the face. Every hair was carefully gathered and added to the pillowcase. He worked quietly, but maintained a murmured monologue.
“Filthy, unclean little things. Get them all. She will be clean...get them all.”
Twice, he left her alone, going into the bathroom and closing the door. When he came back his skin would look pink and abused, and she guessed he’d been shaving. During his second absence she made a plan. As soon as he shut the door behind him for the third time, Liz scrambled to the front door and started working the bolt with her mouth, hands still tied behind her. She cut her lips and tasted blood, but was rewarded by a click as the bolt moved. She turned, grasping the doorknob in her hands, and as the door opened her brain screamed FREEDOM. Liz turned, moving her body into a corridor. A hand roughly pulled her back and knocked her down. The man stood above her, holding the pillowcase in his fist.
“Ah, chérie. We can’t have you going out and getting dirty again.” His eyes sparkled as he pressed the heavy sack against her face. Liz struggled and kicked, flailing desperately. She could smell the shampoo and perfume of other women as the fabric pressed into her nose. Her lungs tried to expand without success. She could feel burning weakness in her chest and limbs as oxygen became scarce. Gradually her struggles slowed, then ceased altogether.
The next morning the hairless, naked corpse of Victim Number Six was found in an alleyway between an apartment building and a coffee shop.