The hair was strewn everywhere in the path as they moved forward. It wasn’t grabbing at them like in the apartment, but it slithered out of the way occasionally. Heather was heading towards the center of the tangle confidently, while Julie trailed behind her, watching her footsteps carefully. She bumped into the back of her sister suddenly and let out a nervous laugh. Heather was staring at a giant mound of hair in the far corner of the next room. The license dropped into the pile and disappeared.
“Well this a hairy-”
“You’ve already done that one.” Heather interrupted.
“I don’t know that many hair puns.” Julie frowned at the pile. There was a solid inch of hair even on the far end of the room.
“Thank goodness for that.” Heather moved closer carefully, scooting hair out of the way before stepping down. She finally made it to the mound and tugged at a few strands tentatively. Everything shudder briefly and then several large tendrils of hair started wrapping around her arm. Julie let out a warning shout and stepped forward but Heather held out a hand to stop her, “It’s fine, don’t worry. Just keep an eye out for unexpected visitors.” She reached in with both arms and quickly disappeared into the pile of hair.
Julie turned so her back was to the pile and watched the two entrances to the room warily. The hair rustled around her but made no effort to grab her or interfere.
Heather found an arm first in the hair. It was thin, and felt too fragile. She gripped it gently and struggled closer, bursting into a small hollow in the hair. The arm was attached to a thin, pale looking woman wearing only an undershirt and shorts. She grabbed Heather’s arm and held it close and Heather looked around.
“Are you real?” The woman sounded less frail than she looked, but her voice was shaking with emotion.
“Oh, I…” Heather frowned as the woman pressed her hand against her face. The skin was cold and tightly drawn across her cheekbones, “I’ve come to take you home, dear. You’ve gotten in a bit of a mess.”
“I’m sorry. He promised that I could have it back.” She let go of Heather’s hand reluctantly.
“Have what back?” Heather frowned as the woman tugged on the flood of blonde hair coming out of her scalp, “Your hair?”
The woman nodded, sniffling, “Everything else I could handle. I could be optimistic… but when my hair started falling out.”
“Let me guess, someone popped out of the trinket the company gave you and promised to fulfill your desire.” Heather was beginning to see what had happened.
“I thought I was being smart. I didn’t ask for a cure… that’s a monkey paw wish if I ever heard one. I just wanted my hair back. Then it wouldn’t stop.” She sniffled again and it sounded painful.
“Did they introduce themselves?”
“Fitzel the Ascertain. I’ve tried summoning him again to take it back but he just laughs at me and I can’t leave here to get help without getting overwhelmed.”
“I need to let my sister know and then we’ll-”
“Don’t go!” The woman grabbed at Heather’s hand as she turned to dive back into the hair.
Julie’s legs were getting tired but she didn’t trust the hair on the floor not to try something. If Heather wasn’t in there somewhere she’d consider burning the whole place and being done with it.
“Would you like a chair?” The voice crawled up her spine and she glanced around the room for a source, “Or a lighter?” The voice’s owner slithered from a dark corner, approaching her slowly through the hair.
“Oh nice, now I get to do something.”
“If that is what you desire.” It had two eyes, she was pretty sure, and blinked as she lit a flame to light up the room better.
“I brought my own lighter, I don’t need anything.”
“Ooooh, another witch we have. I could give you more power.”
“I’m fine.” Julie watched it warily as it skirted around her, studying her.
“I could give you what you really want. Better grades, more money… height, knowledge…” It got in close, crouching in front of Julie. She remained silent as it peered through her almost, its eyes going black, “I could give you back your-”
The woman’s pleading only worried Heather more and she finally wrapped both arms around her and plunged both of them into the hair, bursting out with a shout of “Fitzel the-” which died out immediately as both woman tumbled to the now barren floor. The hair had rapidly vanished, leaving the woman with bald patches on her scalp.
Julie was standing over a charred looking lump of a minor demon. It wasn’t moving, but Julie was breathing heavily and both her hands were awash in blue flame. Heather left the woman sitting on the dusty floor and approached Julie, putting a hand on her shoulder. Julie whirled around with a cry and very nearly didn’t extinguish the flame in time, just stopping short of hitting her sister.
“You look exhausted, let’s go home.” Heather smiled wearily at Julie and gave her a quick hug. She muttered a quick spell at the woman, who stood up with relief, “I’ve given you enough energy to get out of here but after that the company will get you medical treatment.”
“You gave me more than enough to get out of here, let me open the door.” The woman said. Heather gave her a slightly surprised look as she opened a portal in the nearest doorway.
“I can’t believe I forgot you were a magic user.” Within moments they were outside the apartment building where the secretary was waiting with a nondescript white van next to their car. They handed the woman over and the secretary gave them a long look.
“Do you need assistance getting home?”
“We can get home all right… I’m going to take my sister home and then I’ll return for Mr. Esler.”
“No need, I’ll bring him to you.”
Heather wanted to be annoyed at the presumption but was too tired to argue. She simply nodded and got Julie in the car, climbing into the driver’s seat in silence. As they drove home she snuck a glance at Julie, who was staring out the window blankly.
“Do you want to…?” She let the question hang as Julie sighed.
“After we get Billy back in his body, okay?”
“Okay.” Heather wished that the radio worked in the car as the rest of the ride continued in silence.