The Treatment by Buzz
This is an old story that has been floating around the internet since the early 2000s, I believe. I don't know where it came from or who wrote it.
The year: 2014.
The problem: predatory teens.
The solution: The Treatment
Session 1: YOUTHQUAKE
They had been "partners in crime" ever since the sixth grade. It was easy to tell they were best friends -- they were the only two 15-year-olds in school to have shoulder length hair, and the first traces of beard growth on their cheeks. In recent weeks, they'd given up their real names -- Jim and Cliff -- and taken to calling themselves Slash and Burn. Infantile nicknames for infantile adolescents. They hated their parents, they hated the other kids -- they hated everything. In just a few days, they would both be turning 16. And they were scared. Because they knew that, according to a law that had been passed back in 2007, they were going to be forced to go through the government's "Adolescent Education Program," or, as it was referred to on the street, "TheTREATMENT."
Predatory teens had long been an increasing problem in America -- but after the riots of 2006, an enraged public had demanded the Government put an end to it -- any way possible. The riots of 2001-- the vids called them The YouthQuake -- had been devastating. Adolescents in four major cities had simply gone wild for three days -- vandalizing, looting stores and murdering over 300 people in broad daylight. Government troops finally put a stop to it, but the public screamed for harsher measures. No more YouthQuakes! It had to stop. Something HAD to be done. That something was -- TheTREATMENT.
TheTREATMENT had been developed to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents and had, in its first few years, achieved an astonishing success rate. Teenage crime had dropped an unprecedented 65 percent following the first year TheTREATMENT was administered to criminal 16-year olds. After a series of modifications, results had increased to 85 percent. Shortly after, Congress had passed The Juvenile Crime Rehabilitation Act -- and TheTREATMENT became a mandated, enforced part of every young boy's 16th birthday. The success rate skyrocketed to an astounding 96 per cent!
The public remained unaware of exactly what TheTREATMENT was -- and they didn't care. They only knew that there were no more YouthQuakes, and that young boys seemed especially polite and well-groomed lately.
Slash and Burn had heard rumors about TheTREATMENT -- nothing concrete, just enough to scare them. They didn't want to change. They liked the way they were. They liked their long hair and unkempt appearance, and no one was going to change them. No one! Burn's birthday came a week before Slash's, and the night before Burn was to leave for the Adolescent Education Program, he met Slash outside Consumer Complex 103.
"You scared?" he asked Burn.
"Jamb that!" Burn told Slash. "There's no WAY they're gonna do anything to me!" He ran his fingers through his very long brown hair.
"Me neither," Slash agreed, "Me neither."
Two days later, the doorbell to Slash's house rang. "Jim," his mother asked, "Could you get the door?"
"Yes you nag," Slash thought, "I'll get the stuffing door." He walked downstairs and opened it.
"Yeah?" he said. Then his eyes widened with shock. It was Burn! Oh my God, it was Burn!
"Hey Jim," Burn said, "How's it going?"
Burn was transformed. His very long brown hair was now very short, and very neatly combed. His face was clean-shaven, and he was wearing a clean white shirt and tan slacks.
"S**t!" Slash said, "What the hell did they DO to you? S**t! "
"Nothing! Hey, could you call me Cliff?"
"But -- your hair!" Slash stepped to Burn's back. His long hair was gone -- clipped into an ultra-short crewcut, shaved to the skin on the sides and back, with the top slicked down and neatly combed.
He came in, and in minutes Slash thought he no longer knew his friend. He was neatly groomed, polite, and quiet.
"S**t, I can't believe how different you look! What was it like? Did they have to hold you down to give you that gross HairCut?"
"No -- no. I got this yesterday. I just wanted to get a HairCut. I was SICK of that long hair. You should get one too, buddy."
"What?!? They didn't MAKE you do that? I can't believe it! What was it like?"
"Oh, it wasn't bad. They just ask you some questions. Then -- you, you watch . . . a movie."
"But look at you! Look at your hair! That's a bloody crewcut! You're not gonna tell me you LIKE that HairCut?"
Cliff shuffled in his chair, as though preoccupied. "Yes. Yes, I -- I like it. You -- You'll see."
"I don't WANNA see!"
Slash reached over behind Cliff's head, and drew his hand up the back of Cliff's freshly-cut head. The feel of the stubble remaining there was like sandpaper on Slash's hand. He pulled back his hand like it had been burned in a fire. Slash had never felt anything like it.
"S**t, man. Did they SHAVE you?!"
"I told you -- it wasn't them. It was me!"
Slash wasn't convinced. There was no WAY Burn could possibly have changed so much overnight. He knew there was more to it than met the eye -- and the realization that whatever had been done to Burn was soon to be done to him scared him. He tried to picture himself with a short HairCut, and his blood ran cold. Never. NEVER!
Just then, Slash's father walked into the room. "Hello Sir!" Cliff greeted him.
"Is that Cliff?" Slash's father exclaimed. "Wow! I didn't recognize you! You look great!"
"Thank you, sir."
Why is he calling my father SIR, Slash thought. Slash was disgusted! And scared. He was scheduled to leave for the Adolescent Education Program that night! He vowed there was no way he would go.
Later, after Burn left, Slash gathered some belongings and stole out of the house. He didn't know where he was going to go, all he knew was that there was no way they were giving HIM TheTREATMENT! He'd DIE before he ended up looking like Cliff.
When the Government van came to Slash's house to pick him up for transport to the Adolescent Education Program, his parents realized he'd run away, and reported him missing. A call was put in to the Location Bureau, and Slash was found by the police within 15 minutes. It was impossible to hide from The Bureau's advanced DNA-Radar Control Center.
He put up a struggle, but after they flashed a Tranq-beam at him, he became docile. They loaded him into the van and cuffed him to the seat.
"Don't worry," Slash heard his parents being told over the Police car's Com-System, "We'll bring him directly to the Adolescent Education Program. Next time you see him -- he'll be a whole new boy!"
Slash was terrified. He tried to hold back for all he was worth, but in spite of his efforts he began to cry. Underneath his punkish exterior, he was just a frightened kid. And with each passing minute, his fear increased. What would happen to him? Where were they taking him? What would they do to him? What was . . . TheTREATMENT??
Session Two: SUBJECT #6
Slash was inside an AEP (Adolescent Education Program) van with seven guys about his age -- all juvenile delinquents, all with long hair and a few weeks of scuzzy, sporadic beard growth darkening their young faces and adding to their menacing appearance. All had just turned 16, and, by law, had to undergo "TheTREATMENT." The van made several stops. With each stop, the rear doors swung open, and another predatory youth was hurried inside and handcuffed to the seat. Finally, the 14th delinquent -- a menacing looking teen with long blonde hair -- was collected, and they headed off to TheTREATMENT center.
Slash had heard stories about TheTREATMENT, and he'd been a little scared by them. And what it had done to his best friend, Burn, was unreal! He guessed it was some kind of brain-washing. He'd heard it consisted of everything from a bunch of lectures, to being given some kind of drugs, to watching movies about being a better citizen. What garbage! None of that s**t was going to change him a bit. He didn't give a stuff what they did to him. He would do what he wanted, WHEN he wanted, and to hell with anyone who stood in his way!
And as for his long hair and scuzzy beard -- well, maybe they would force him to shave and get a HairCut, but the minute he got out he'd just let it grow again until he looked exactly as he did right now. His greasy hair hung in ragged hanks over his eyes and well past his shoulders. He hadn't cut it in over 9 years. He'd NEVER shaved -- his sparse beard was still just beginning to coming in -- and he didn't give a s**t if he never shaved in his whole life. He liked the way the nasty hairs covered his chin, the way his partially-formed mustache made him look tough. And there way NO way that would ever change -- TREATMENT or no!
The van pulled into TheTREATMENT center, and its human cargo was lead inside to a waiting cell. Slash and the rest of the youthful predators waited about 15 minutes, then a cop appeared and called "Subject #1!" He took the first kid away, through the double-doors. Whispered comments revealed how scared these young men secretly were. They'd all heard stories about TheTREATMENT, and they dreaded undergoing it -- whatever it was.
Their fears were quieted -- for the moment -- when "Subject #1" returned in a half hour looking every bit as scuzzy and menacing has he had before he vanished. He sat down as "Subject #2" was lead away, and in minutes word spread that he had just been asked a few questions, fingerprinted, and photographed. They'd even given him a sandwich and some soda! What bloody idiots, Slash thought. Then he realized that the food might have been drugged. He resolved not to eat or drink anything they offered him. He was going to resist TheTREATMENT for all he was worth!
About three hours later, it was Slash's turn -- "Subject #6." He was lead into a small, windowless room. He sat down, and a thin metal band was wrapped around his wrist. It dug uncomfortably into his skin. Slash moved to pull it off, but a cop grabbed his free hand and strapped it to the chair. Wires connected the band on his other hand to a machine that looked like a lie-detector. "We're going to ask you a few questions," a white-coated technician told him.
"Stuff you!" Slash replied venomously.
"None of your business!"
The rest of the interview went like that. The metal band on Slash's wrist that connected to the machine continued to dig irritatingly into his skin as he spoke. He responded to every question with increasing hostility. Screw them. He wouldn't answer a single one! And the lie-detector -- or whatever it was -- reacted to each answer by scrawling spastic lines across a piece of graph paper. After the interview was over, they released the band from his wrist and lead him back to the outer room. He congratulated himself for refusing their offer of food and a soda. They weren't going to drug HIM!
But as he rubbed his sore wrist, he didn't notice the three miniscule puncture marks that had been left by the band. This initial phase of TheTREATMENT had been designed to enrage the subject, increasing his blood flow and insuring quick absorption of the drug being pumped into his body through a microscopic delivery system implanted within the band surrounding the wrist. Far from avoiding TheTREATMENT, Slash had just successfully completed Phase One!
Back in outer room, Slash was feeling strange. He decided it was just having to wait for over four hours in this God damn room! Jesus, he thought, it seems like a lot more! And he wasn't wrong -- he didn't know that the clock on the wall had been set to register just a single hour for every two hours that passed! This was designed to distort the subject's sense of time, allowing the drugs to take full effect and further disorienting them in preparation for Phase Two of TheTREATMENT.
Finally, after an eternity of waiting, the subjects were moved into another room. They stood there for a full three hours! They weren't allowed to sit down, and were soon exhausted. Their conversation consisted of speculation about what was to be done to them next. This further heightened tension -- exactly as planned. They were ready for Phase Three -- the final phase.
Slash and the other subjects were lead into an auditorium, and -- finally -- allowed to sit down. Slash hit the seat like a ton of bricks. The menacing looking teen with long blonde hair was seated next to him. A white-coated technician appeared on the stage, and began to speak in a monotonous, droning voice.
"This's s**t," Slash whispered, and shut his eyes. In seconds he was asleep -- as was every subject in the auditorium. Again, according to plan.
Twenty lab technicians appeared -- one for each subject -- and administered a series of injections containing time-release tranquilizers, stimulants, and powerful psycho-tropic drugs. After they had completed their work, they waved an open vial containing a powerful stimulant under the subjects' noses, then quickly disappeared through doors hidden to the right of the stage. The subjects slowly woke.
Slash's eyes popped wide open. A sudden surge of adrenaline coursed through his body. "I must be getting my second wind," he thought -- but it was really the stimulant he'd been given, a remarkable new drug, which brought about forced attentiveness and heightened suggestibility. Slash felt totally wide-awake, and for some reason he couldn't take his eyes off the man on he stage.
"Welcome," the man said. "You boys are about to watch a short film. Afterwards, you will be given fresh clothing, and you will be taken back home. Enjoy the film."
Slash wasn't buying it. "Bulls**t," he whispered to the menacing looking teen next to him. "They're gonna give us HairCuts next, then try to f*** us up -- you watch!" The blonde was about to agree . . . but just then a movie screen lowered from the ceiling, and the film began.
It was a boring little movie about being a better citizen -- just as Slash had heard. But boring as it was -- he was strangely fascinated by it. He couldn't take his eyes off the screen! A man in the movie who advised the boys to "think of me as your BigBrother" was lecturing them on following rules. It was stupid, dull and moronic -- but it was mesmerizing!
The film, the heart of TheTREATMENT, was the ultimate masterpiece of subliminal conditioning. The product of decades of work by the government's top behavioral-modification researchers, its boring surface image masked the most powerful behavior-influencing subliminal implanting system known to science. Following the government's discovery that long hair and improper grooming habits had an amazing 92 percent correlation to anti-social, predatory behavior, TheTREATMENT had been developed to correct their behavior.
Watching the film, Slash was bored -- yet hypnotized. Ten minutes into the film, he felt himself beginning to tremble. An overwhelming sense of fear and dread swept over him as "BigBrother" lectured on the importance of politeness. Deep within Slash's mind, the powerful psycho-tropic drugs he had been injected with were combining with the film's massive amounts of subliminal imagery to produce devastating subliminal emotional reactions.
Slash began to cry. He wanted to get up and run out of the theater, but he couldn't move. He almost threw up. And he was so busy hiding his tear-stained face, ashamed that the other boys might see him, that he didn't notice that they were crying too. The entire audience was having their behavior-patterns virtually re-written!
The tears stopped. BigBrother was advising the boys not to break the law -- and as he spoke, their unconscious minds were being forced to absorb a barrage of new behaviors at the mind-numbing rate of 300,000 per second!
This massive input produced a state of emotional exhaustion -- only the stimulants introduced into their systems prior to the film kept them from passing out. And they had no idea any of this was happening!
Next, as BigBrother reminded the boys of the importance of respecting authority, a new series of subliminal messages was implanted within them.
This series was designed to tame the portions of their brains that dealt with language. Without their knowledge, their language centers were reprogrammed with a dizzying 60,000 new words and phrases per second. Their capacity for using slang or disrespectful tones was virtually eliminated within 4 minutes.
In the film's final section, BigBrother lectured the boys on the importance of good grooming. And as he spoke, Slash shivered. He mechanically lifted a hand to his head and brushed his long, uncombed bangs out of his face. The audience of long-haired, unshaven subjects was being bombarded with an irresistible series of over two million subliminal commands that, once their programming was activated, would make them desperate to get HairCuts as soon as possible, and make the idea of ever having long hair again unbearable. A related series of 350,000 commands dealt with shaving habits.
As the film ended, the 20 young subjects breathed a collective sigh of relief -- totally unaware that they had been fundamentally changed, imprinted with a multitude of new behaviors that were pre-programmed to activate while they slept that night. But for the moment, all they felt was relief -- and a slight headache.
The lights in the theater went on. Slash, and all the other boys, felt like they'd been through World War III -- but they tried their best to conceal it. Another response the technicians had counted on. They had discovered that the stronger the subjects denied their feeling, the deeper the change in their behavior would be. That was why the subjects were given TheTREATMENT as a group -- so their denial would be mutually reinforcing.
A voice came over a speaker: "Please remain in your seat until your name is called." A wave of dread swept over the room. Without knowing why, the boys were all ready exhausted. What new torture awaited them? Slash's heart began to beat faster as he anticipated that next he would be given a HairCut and, finally, subjected to TheTREATMENT. But he was wrong.
After he was lead into the next room, Slash was given a package containing a change of clothing, as promised, and driven home. He couldn't believe it! Yes, he felt exhausted and slightly nauseous, but that was nothing. He had survived TheTREATMENT -- intact! Unchanged! Or so he thought.
Hours later, Slash burst through his front door.
"Hi!" his father greeted him, "How did it go?"
"Bulls**t," Slash said as he raced upstairs. Slash chucked his "new clothes" in his bedroom trash can, flopped into bed, and fell asleep instantly. He was totally exhausted after his hidden, tortuous ordeal.
"Ha!" he thought before nodding off, "That was nothing! Didn't change me at all!"
The next morning, Slash's father woke him at 6:00.
"Get up," his father told him. Slash was enraged! He started to tell his father to get the hell out of his room, but instead, he heard himself responding "Yes sir."
What?!?! Slash was horrified. Amazed. Confused. What did he say that for? What was wrong with him? He had a headache.
His father was smiling. "I need your help with some errands today."
"All right," Slash said softly. "Will there be time for me to get a HairCut? I'm looking forward to getting this mop cut nice and short."
Slash was beside himself. What was he saying? Who had taken control of his mouth? What was happening to him?!?
"Well -- yes! Sure," his father answered, "If you really want to."
"I . . . want to," Slash answered a bit haltingly. "I can't stand this hair another second. Thank you, sir."
For a moment Slash thought he must be having a nightmare. His head was spinning. Someone had taken possession of him! He didn't know who he was! What was happening to him?!? He didn't notice that his father was staring at him with an expression of mixed joy and bewilderment.
He jumped out of bed and went into the bathroom. When he got out of he shower, he toweled off, then looked at himself in the mirror. "God, you look like a mess," he heard himself say. He rubbed his face. In his mind he saw BigBrother, and remembered how he had spoken about the importance of good grooming. F*** that! Slash thought. F*** BigBrother! I HATE BigBrother! He heard his father calling from downstairs.
"Slash! Hurry up!"
"Coming sir," he replied, "And please. My name is JIM!"
"This is just un-f***ing REAL," Slash -- JIM -- thought. "What did they DO to me with that TREATMENT!?!? What -- WHO -- am I!?!?"
He rushed out of the bathroom, and retrieved the clothes he had trashed the night before. He put them on -- a white shirt and tan pair of slacks. And then, he heard himself speaking softly -- but out loud -- the most amazing thing he'd ever said in his life.
"I can't WAIT to get a HairCut!"
Session Three: THE CHAIR
"So you really want to get a HairCut today?" Jim's father asked him. He stared the wild, ragged mop of brown hair that fell well below Jim's shoulders.
"Yes sir!" Jim announced proudly to his father, "Nice and short."
His father was stunned. "Really," he said in disbelief. No, Jim thought, you f***ing idiot, NOT really. No way! No f***ing WAY! Slash, he told himself, my name is Slash. I do not want a HairCut. I do NOT want a HairCut! But then, in his head, he heard BigBrother reminding him of the importance of good grooming. Next he heard his own voice contradicting his thoughts.
"Yes sir," Jim answered. "I'd like to go to the barbershop right now. I'll walk, if you don't mind." His thoughts seemed totally disconnected with his speech and his actions. He felt as though a battle was raging in his mind -- a battle he was destined to lose. With each passing second, he could feel a piece of his old attitudes slipping away. In one instant he vowed to fight . . . but in the next instant he told himself it wasn't so bad. All at once, he couldn't remember his old nickname. He was Jim. Just Jim.
He rushed to the door, then began walking to the barbershop. As he walked, his inner conflict raged. I'm definitely getting a HairCut, he heard a voice telling him, I have to! My hair is absolutely disgusting! And these stray hairs covering my upper lip and face -- they've got to go. But no! I don't WANT a HairCut! I LOVE my long hair, and my new beard. It makes me look tough! But I AM getting a HairCut. That's for sure. It's what BigBrother wants.
As he neared the barbershop, anticipation rose. Catching the first glimpse of it, he thought about running in the opposite direction. And then he found he WAS running -- but towards the barbershop! Why? What was he doing?
What had possessed him to do the one thing he most hated? But there was still time to prevent it. Not a single hair had been cut -- yet.
He neared the door. His heart was pounding as he placed his hand on the knob. I'm not going in, he thought. Yet in he went. He looked around. Unfamiliar territory. Barber chairs. Strange smells. His mind was a battlefield, but he felt his body relax as he sat down to wait. For a HairCut!
There were two barbers, each working on a customer, and two other boys, a bit older than Jim, waiting in the chairs next to his. Each had extremely short, military-style HairCuts. Jim wondered what they were doing there. They hardly had any hair to cut! Anyway, he was going to get up and run out of the place at any moment. But he didn't.
Jim sat down. He suddenly recognized the kid one of the barbers had just begun working on -- it was the menacing looking blonde teen he'd sat next to during the BigBrother movie! He wondered if the blonde was going through the same torture he was. What kind of HairCut was he there for? The barber snapped the white cape tightly around his neck. There seemed to be a blue flash around the blonde's head; the barber and customer looked at a screen hidden from Jim. He couldn't exactly hear what they were saying, but after a pause he tried to hear what was being said.
"What'll it be?" the barber asked the blonde. His long, long hair spilled down to his shoulders. "I'd like a crewcut please, sir," he answered meekly. Jim was amazed. How could he possibly want a crew cut? But -- why shouldn't he, he thought again. His head hurt.
The barber began his work. With clippers in hand, he sheared the long blonde hair off the teen's face -- and in minutes his hair was uniformly short. A second brutal pass-over with the clippers left the sides and back shaved to the skin, neatly tapered. And then buzzed right over the top, just slightly longer, leaving no more than long stubble.
The transformation was amazing. Jim thought he looked -- great! NO! Horrible! Minutes ago he had looked menacing, and now he looked like a baby! And in a few minutes more -- this would be JIm! No. No!
The now clean-cut looking blonde teen got out of the chair, and the barber motioned in Jim's direction. "Next!" he said. The blonde with the new crewcut smiled at Jim, then gave the barber his cred-number authorization, and walked out the door. Jim decided to follow him out of the barbershop -- but instead, he jumped to his feet and started towards the chair.
"No, no," the barber laughed, "I think this young man is next!"
Jim slinked back. "Sorry sir," he heard himself say. "I guess I'm just anxious."
That was it. He was sure he'd lost his mind. Getting a HairCut was the LAST thing on earth he wanted, and here he was telling the barber he was anxious! It was beyond all comprehension. Then it hit him. TheTREATMENT!
But that was just a stupid movie, starring an idiot named "BigBrother"! It was nothing! But whatever it was -- it had done something to him. Changed him. And he liked it! What? What did he just think?!? He didn't like it! He hated it! He was gradually losing control of his own thoughts. They were being . . . replaced! What did they do to him?!?! BigBrother! He hated BigBrother!
Jim's internal monologue was interrupted by the second barber. "Young man?" he was saying, "You want a HairCut?"
Jim looked around. The other boy who had been waiting for a HairCut was in the first barber's chair having his high and tight trimmed up neatly. He had been lost in thought for nearly 10 minutes! He was next. He was next!
For a HairCut! OK -- this was the end. Now he'd wake up back in his bed. God, what a nightmare.
Jim glanced at his reflection in the mirror. His hair was long, wild and unkempt. His face was unshaven. He knew that if he got a HairCut, he'd be different. He'd look different, and FEEL different. This HairCut was going to change him. He didn't want it. He didn't want it!
"Yes sir," he told the barber anyway, "I want a HairCut!"
Jim climbed into the chair.
Session Four: NICE AND SHORT
Jim walked over to the waiting barber's chair and slowly, haltingly sat down. He saw his reflection in the mirror. His appearance disgusted him -- mentally, but not physically. The two halves of his being were at war. He felt slightly ill just looking at himself. The nausea subsided a bit as his barber wrapped a thin collar of white tissue paper around his neck, then covered him with a white cloth with blue pin-stripes. The sight of himself in the mirror was shocking. He was about to get a HairCut.
Just then, two closely-cropped boys Jim knew from school entered the barbershop and sat down to wait for a HairCut. Jim was embarrassed that his shearing was going to have an audience.
"Look at your image in the mirror Jim" (How did he know that?) "Smile".
Jim smiled at his reflection in spite of himself. Just then a fuzzy blue halo seemed to envelop his head, and was gone as soon as it came. A picture of him appeared in the bottom right corner of the mirror. It was a good picture of his face, but Jim shuddered at the terrible unkempt long hair. Ten seconds after the picture had appeared, Jim's hair began to morph out and he was left with a totally bald head in the picture.
The MAZAR sees right through your hair Jim. That's what your head looks like without any hair", advised the barber.
"S**t! You're not going to shave me bald? Let me outta' here" Jim yelled, but it came out only as a whisper. His mind told him to jump out of the chair, but his body would mot respond. Moments later the hairless of himself seemed not to be so bad. It was the first time he had seen his ears in all their glory since he was eight years of age.
"Not the time Jimmy. Just watch the screen". Yesterday he was Slash. Today he was Jim, and now he was Jimmy. No way. But he kept his eyes riveted on the screen. The words "Recommended HairCut" wrote onto the bottom. Immediately the actual recommended HairCut began to paint over his bald head.
What he now saw was a medium to short, short-back-and-sides, definitely not a high'n'tight. The style was a short CollegeCut, top just long enough to lay over, short fringe and the part on the right side about an inch and a half off centre. As though this was different enough, the hair in the image was now medium blond, instead of the mousy brown mess that he now had ..No sooner had the picture "OK," the barber asked Jim, "What'll it be? The recommended HairCut designed in the StyleSculptor, or something shorter?" the barber asked
Jim hesitated. He tried desperately to stop his mouth from speaking. But with each passing second, a terrible throbbing rose in his head. In an instant he was on the verge of tears, of throwing up. He knew what he had to do. He didn't want a HairCut -- but he had to try. It was what BigBrother wanted. BigBrother. This was all HIS fault! He hated BigBrother! He took a deep breath. He was about to get a HairCut.
"I want it nice and short, like the StyleSculptor," he spit out. "And a shave too, sir."
"OK," the barber replied, "Nice and short."
Nice and short, Jim thought. God, what am I doing?!?! I'm getting a HairCut.
Suddenly, the barber spun Jim's chair around, away from the mirror. Jim faced the two boys who'd entered the shop moments ago. This was horrendous! He wasn't going to be permitted to watch his transformation, but they were. And he'd have to face them throughout the whole ordeal! One boy whispered to the other. But Jim could hear what he said.
"Check it out -- Slash the hippie is getting a HairCut!"
Jim wanted to disappear. He could have died of embarrassment. This couldn't be happening. He didn't want a HairCut. Did he? No! No! But he heard BigBrother's voice, and he knew what he had to do: sit still, and get a HairCut.
A loud click sounded, and a pair of electric clippers drew near to the right side of Jim's head. Jim steeled himself. His HairCut was about to begin. The two boys watched intently, smiling as the barber applied his clippers to Jim, and with a quick pass sheared a wide path up the side of his head. The strange feel of the clippers vibrations were like a soothing tonic to Jim. This is good, he thought. I must do this. But a slight tremor ran through him as he watched a huge chunk of his own brown hair flop down on the cloth covering his lap. He couldn't believe this clipping machine was being applied to his head and shearing off all his beloved hair. He was getting a HairCut!
The barber made another few passes with the clipper, and in a few seconds the entire right side of Jim's head was shorn almost to the skin. Jim has horrified -- but he welcomed each new touch of the vibrating blade to his head, shearing him, shaving him, clipping him, freeing him of his old, nasty, vile long hair. The boys waiting for a their turn were laughing at him, but he didn't care. He was getting a HairCut.
As the barber came around to the back of his head, he swallowed hard. Now came the moment of transformation.
The long, scraggly brown hair that had reached so far below his collar for so very long was to be shorn off. The barber placed his palm on Jim's head and gently forced it downward, until his chin touched his chest. Jim realized this was to give the clippers better access to his head. He'd never thought about something like that before, but now he was having an experience he had never planned on. He was learning how to get a HairCut! A strange, thrilling feeling ran through Jim's body. He felt the cold metal kiss of the clippers against his bare skin. He was getting a HairCut.
Jim sat in the barber's chair, paralyzed, as the clippers did their work. This just can't be happening, he told himself. But it was. With one quick stroke, a swath of skin was revealed. Another few strokes, and half his head was exposed. He glanced out the barbershop window, and noticed two men passing by. They looked in, and saw him sitting in the barber's chair, half shorn and half shaggy, his white pinstripe cape covered with hair. It was like his private torture was on public display -- he was a prize exhibit whose HairCut was being shown to even the most casual passer-by for their amusement and entertainment. They laughed and pointed at him as they passed. He felt humiliated. He was getting a HairCut.
With a few more quick strokes, the back of his head was almost completely bare, or so his mind told him. Massive piles of hair were forming on the floor, and dense tangles were piled up across the breadth of his white cape. He could no longer feel his long hair on his back. It was gone. Clipped away. Shorn off. And the barber showed no signs of stopping. Jim felt sick. He was getting a HairCut.
The barber ran his clippers up the back of Jim's head a few more times, to be certain no stray hairs had escaped being buzzed off. Then, with the back completely stubbled, he turned his attention to the remaining, hair-covered left side of Jim's head. With four quick flips of his wrist, this too was clipped to the skin. Now, only a ragged mop of brown hair remained on top.
Jim moved nervously in the barber's chair. His appearance was being fundamentally and permanently changed. He had no choice in the matter. A force he couldn't comprehend had taken possession of his actions, and he was here, sitting in a chair as a stranger sheared him against his will. It was a nightmare. But he liked it! Or he knew he should like it. He was getting a HairCut.
"How old are you, son?" his barber asked.
"I just turned 16, sir" Jim managed to answer.
His barber smiled. He'd given HairCuts to hundreds of kids who had undergone TheTREATMENT. "I know it's hard," he said softly, "But you'll get used to it. Pretty soon, it'll be easy getting a HairCut."
But Jim didn't WANT to get used to it! He didn't want his HairCut. He would NEVER get used to it! NEVER NEVER NEVER! He hated short hair. He hated BigBrother. But here he was. He was getting a HairCut!
The barber paused momentarily to change the guard on his clippers, then set to work with a vengeance on the mushroom-like top of Jim's head. He started at Jim's forehead, and ran the cool, vibrating clippers with a number 8 internal adjustable guard from the front of his head to the back, then returned to the front and repeated the action again. And again! And again! Jim's head rocked slightly with each pass. With each pass, what little remained of him -- the "real" him -- was being deleted. He was stupefied. No torture could have been any worse. He would NEVER get used to this! But -- he loved it! BigBrother TOLD him he loved it! How he hated that voice. How he hated BigBrother! The barbershop floor seemed covered with an ocean of hair. His white cape had turned dark with hair. A thousand and one tiny bits of hair covered his face, and still the barber was clipping, clipping, clipping. He was getting a HairCut.
Next he felt a new set of super fine head clippers attacking his hair-flecked cheeks, buzzing them, shaving them smooth. He felt them working around his ears, and finally invading his hair-streaked upper lip, shaving it clean, freeing it from hair. Then the buzzing went silent. Now his face was being covered with warm, soothing foam. And even though he wanted to get up and run, it felt good. He liked it. A blade was drawn across his face. A soft scratching sound accompanied each gentle swipe. He was being shaved. His face was being cleaned. All traces of his youthful beard were being taken off. He was being shaved.
After his first-ever shave was completed, the barber wrapped his face in a hot towel. All resistance melted away instantly. Jim's entire body relaxed and welcomed his new attitudes and behaviors. Getting a HairCut wasn't so bad. It was . . . good! Great! Incredible! He felt happy. Why? He was getting a HairCut.
The towel was removed, and the barber began fine-tuning Jim's HairCut with a pair of scissors. New flecks of hair began to spill down onto his cape. Snip, snip, snip, snip blending the shorn sides to the short top -- after a thousand snips, Jim felt the old anxiety returning. What was he thinking?! What was he DOING?!? He was getting a HairCut!
The shearing had to stop, and it did. Jim was turned back to the mirror, shaven and shorn. He could not believe his eyes; he loved the HairCut; he hated the HairCut. He made to get out of the chair but still could not. Surely there was no more, but there was. The cut was exactly as Jim has seen on the StyleSculptor screen, but unfinished, and there was a difference he could not place. Stepping back the barber punched several buttons on a control panel and a see-through helmet descended from the ceiling right over Jim's head. For a moment he was scared out of his wits, but still could not move out of the chair. Within the helmet a golden light filled the space around the head. As Jim watched in the mirror his remaining hair started to turn from that mousy brown color to a rich light golden blond, eyebrows, eyelashes and all. That was the difference. Now he was a blond. Having finished it's work the helmet rose once again to the ceiling. At least he liked being fair-haired; what was left of it.
"That's your new color Jim. How do you like it? Computer designed. Permanent. Never grows out"
Still the process went on. A gluey blue gel was applied onto Jim's head. The barber rubbed it in thoroughly, not missing a spot, then took out a special comb. Jim felt the tines of the comb digging slightly into his scalp. The barber was combing his hair, regimenting it, taming it, parting it deeply and perfectly straight, forcing it into wet, neat, shiny, perfectly groomed little rows. The sensation awoke new fears. He regained a bit of his old self. This was such bulls**t like he couldn't believe! What the hell was this barber DOING to him? The gluey blue gel felt strange on his freshly sheared head. The compound was a remarkable new product called Liquid Comb Memory Gel - PermaGel, an amazing new discovery -- a mixture of silicons, polymers and other ingredients. Jim had never felt anything like it before. He was getting a HairCut.
Next, the barber produced a small device that resembled a flashlight. He activated it, and a weird blue light shone from its end. He passed the light over Jim's gelled head, slowly shining it on every slicked down hair. He held it above the deep new part high on the right side, then turned it off. The light activated the unique properties of the PermaGel. The result was that for the next month, Jim's hair would remain exactly as it looked when the light was applied to the gelled hair. It would stay slick and wet looking, didn't need to be combed, and couldn't be messed up! Even after showering and shampooing, the polymers bonded to his hair would "remember" their style, and re-form his hair in exactly the style his hair had been cut in when the light had activated the PermaGel. The end result was to make messy or uncombed hair impossible.
The barber then activated another recent discovery, the PermaGroomer. It looked like a futuristic set of clippers with a pen like spike on one end, but it was actually a device that permanently removed all the hair it touched with a laser-guided follicle deadening system. The barber carefully applied it around Jim's ears and at the back of his neck. In seconds, all traces of any loose, unregimented hair vanished -- never to be seen again. The PermaGroomer was the perfect finishing touch for a boy's first real HairCut -- it left young men with an ultra-neat look never previously attainable.
The barber wiped a damp cloth across Jim's face -- a special cloth that attracted stray hair clippings at a molecular level, sprayed Jim's face and shorn back and sides And then it was over.
The HairCut was all over "OK," Jim's barber said, "All done. Nice and short, just like you asked! There's just one more step.
Again the barber punched a button on his control panel, and again that blue halo appeared around the young customer's head. This time the screen began to build a new image of Jim with his new HairCut, for several seconds superimposed over the original Recommended HairCut, both looking remarkable similar; then the original No sooner had it finished than there was a sound of a bell-like buzzer and a credit card sized tabled slid out of its slot. The barber handed the card to Jim, showing an amazing new 3D Hologram image of his head, front back, sides, top, total all-round view from both sides of the card, new short, severely styles HairCut and all. On the bottom of the card were the words "RegisteredHairCut".
The HairCut was finished. The HairCut was over. Jim had been cleaned and groomed more thoroughly than ever before in his life. A strange relief flooded his body!
Session 5: NEW HAIRCUT BOY
Despite everything, an audible gasp escaped his lips. His reflection in the mirror and in his 3D Hologram card was stupefying.
A HairCut. Just a HairCut. But WHAT a HairCut!
The hair on the sides of his head was all but gone. Only the faintest trace of it remained, visible only where his hairline ended, and in the contrast between his white, hairless face and perfectly straight new sideburns. Sideburns! Before, his hair had simply grown wildly from the side of his face, sprouting in patchy, fuzzy clusters all up and down his cheek with no order or style whatsoever-- but now his sideburns had been leveled off, in an inconceivably straight line, near the top of his ears.
Nearing the top, the hair had been allowed to gradually lengthen to all of 1inch. Yet each hair was slicked down with PermaGel, pasted into uniformity and styled to each side and slightly down on the forehead. A deep part on the right side formed an impossibly straight white line up the side of his head. The stubble on the sides of his head was no more than a well-defined shadow, but the longer hair on the top of his head glistened like shiny new car on a bright summer day. Staring at himself in disbelief, he felt small and humble. Every hair -- every last hair -- had been sheared, trained, and tamed. And so had he.
The barber moved a smaller mirror behind the back of Jim's head. The shock of looking at the front had so overtaken him that he hadn't even considered anything else. But now he was. The back -- what about the back!?
The barber raised the smaller mirror to the back of Jim's head. In it was reflected the back of his head. It was ghastly -- fully exposed, virtually hairless. In a mixture of new horror and unbidden delight, Jim studied its reflection in the mirror. He noted the way the hair on the back of his head had been clippered right down to the skin, and neatly tapered and edged off -- permanently -- around the extremes of the sides and a little up the back. He remembered how, just minutes ago, his free-flowing, unruly hair had trailed well below his shoulders. But now, every trace of it was gone. Meaningfully barbered into a short CollegeCut; groomed to perfection.
He stared at his new HairCut. His gaze began fluctuating between the front view of his face and the back of his head. He had never dreamed it would have been possible for a HairCut to change his appearance so much. It was like looking at someone new. Fresh. Clean. Someone who had been reshaped. Refitted. Reformed.
He felt completely exposed. Stripped bare. Like a newborn baby. Shamefully naked -- for all the world to see. There was no part of him that remained hidden. His new HairCut was wet, shiny, and groomed with precision. He was in shock. He couldn't look like this! But he did. He did! Only it wasn't really him anymore. It was some new person, with a new HairCut -- and a new, imposed attitude.
"OK?" the barber asked him.
"YES SIR!", came Jim's automatic response. He was inwardly sickened by the forced enthusiasm in his voice.
"Short enough?" his barber asked.
"Great!" Jim answered.
The cloth was removed. Jim reached back and ran his hand up the sandpaper on the back of his head. The touch of each stiff, hard bristle was electric. The feel of it was intoxicating. Someone opened the barbershop door, and the breeze hit his newly-exposed head. The sensation was dizzying. It seemed to melt away all resistance. He liked his new HairCut. He enjoyed looking at it. He liked feeling it. What had he been so worried about a few minutes ago? He couldn't seem to remember. He had gotten a HairCut.
The two boys waiting for HairCuts applauded. Jim had never been so embarrassed in his life. One boy stood up, put his hand on Jim's head, and tousseled his hair.
"Hey!" Jim told him "Cut it out! You'll mess it up!" Oh God. What was he saying?!?!
They smiled and pointed to Jim. "New HairCut Boy," one commented wryly.
He spun Jim around so he faced himself in the mirror, and told him "Watch!" Jim watched as the PermaGel went to work. It was as though some invisible comb was running through his hair. It was like watching a movie of his hair being messed up run backwards! In seconds -- it had re-combed itself into perfect neat little rows! Jim was horrified. His new short HairCut simply COULD NOT be messed up! He had gotten a HairCut.
He gave the barber his cred-number authorization, and walked to the door. He was devastated. As he walked out, a shaggy-haired young boy and his father came in. The boy pointed to Jim. "See," he told his father, "I told you everyone's getting crewcuts today!" Jim was taken aback. It was the first time anyone had ever referred to him as having a crewcut, well he didn't really, but not that far off. It made his new look seem all the more horribly real. He had gotten a HairCut.
"Don't forget to keep you RegisteredHairCut Card with you at all times", The barber told the new look customer.
"See you ... see you next week", he told the barber nervously. The barber nodded as he began sweeping up the mountain of Jim's brown hair covering the floor. Jim glanced down at it, not quite believing that it had all been shaved off his head. But it had! Another glance in the mirror was proof of that. His long hair was gone. He had gotten a HairCut. And what was left was blond.
Outside, Jim felt electric voltage coming from the stiff bristles each time he touched the back of his head. With his whole hand, he delicately touched the top of his head. The hair there had now hardened in the air. It felt smooth as silk, hard as rock. He ran his fingers through it.
It messed slightly, then "remembered" its style and reformed back into perfect, undisturbed, wet little rows. His short bangs sprang back, away from his face. He had gotten a HairCut!
Some friends passed him in a car, and did a double-take when they saw his new HairCut and color. His face turned beet red. He felt naked. He was embarrassed that everyone could tell just by looking at his HairCut that a pair of electric barber's clippers had been passed over his head. There was no disguising it. Against his will, he had been forced to join a group he never wanted to be a member of -- young men who had short HairCuts.
He rubbed his thumb and fingers across his freshly-shaven cheeks. He looked like a fool, continually touching and trying to get used to the alien feel of his own face and hair as he walked along -- but so what. He didn't care. He smiled. But inside, he felt lost. Something had been taken from him. He had gotten a HairCut.
Walking home, he passed a pretty girl he had never seen before. She smiled at him. Self-consciously, he reached back and ran his fingers up the bristly back of his head. Then it occurred to him that the girl had never seen him with long hair. Her first impression of him -- ever -- was with his new closely clipped, neatly groomed HairCut. And that was the way it was going to be with everyone he met from now on. None of them would even know the incredible transformation that had been made in him because he had gotten a HairCut.
He was disgusted. BigBrother. He hated BigBrother! How could he show anyone what had been done to him? It was awful -- no! It was good! Great! He was proud of his new HairCut. But he dreaded showing his family and friends. Most of all, he dreaded his own reflection in the mirror at home.
Session Six: BIGBROTHER IS WATCHING
Jim returned home immediately after his HairCut. He had hoped to make it upstairs to the shower before his parents saw him, but his father heard him come in the door.
"Oh my God!" he exclaimed when he saw how short and neatly combed Jim's HairCut was, "Is that my son?"
"Yes sir," Jim answered.
"Honey," Jim's father called to his wife, "Come out here -- you've GOT to see THIS!"
Jim's mother was shocked. "Oh, it's so SHORT! And Blonde! I love it! You finally look like a BOY again! You look so handsome!"
Thank you, ma'am." Jim said sheepishly. "I'm gonna go take a shower now."
He walked upstairs. Jim's father was thrilled with his son's new look, and new attitude. "I don't know what they did to him at that Adolescent Education Program, but I hope it never wears off! He's like a new boy!"
Upstairs, Jim began studying his reflection in the mirror in earnest; or at least the reflection of the boy who used to be him. Back in the barbershop, he'd been too stunned -- and too far from the mirror -- to really get a close-up view of his new HairCut. Now, he could see everything.
The hair on the sides of his head had been clipped almost to the skin. The remaining stubble was like a five o'clock shadow. His ears -- which just hours ago had been totally hidden behind his long, wild hair -- were now completely exposed. His hair had been closely shaved into a perfect arc, rising well above his ears, which looked to him like they were now on display. Halfway down his ears, his sideburns had been leveled off in a perfectly straight line.
The stray and scraggly hairs that had gradually blended his sideburns into his cheeks had been shaved off entirely, leaving his closely clipped sideburns precise and well-defined.
The hair on the top of his head was no longer than an inch in length. As Jim moved his head to study it, it caught the florescent light in the bathroom. Each perfectly regimented row was shining. At the front, his short bangs had been brushed straight across, slightly down on his forehead. It laid shiny, stiff and even, then blended back into the regimented rows behind them. Jim had gotten used to hiding behind the long, shaggy locks of fringe that covered his forehead and eyes. Now, that was impossible. His forehead was almost totally uncovered by hair, and his boyish face was fully exposed. Uncovered. Naked. He knew this pleased BigBrother.
His hair had never been parted before. It had just fallen loosely, vaguely parting in the middle. Those days were gone for good. Now, his hair had been parted deeply, decisively, once and for all. His barber hadn't even asked him where to part his hair, or if he had even wanted a part -- he had simply parted it where he pleased. Well, yes he had, he had to admit: he had OKed the StyleSculptor Recommended HairCut, including the part. And now Jim was stuck with it. Turning his head, the part came into view. It ran from his forehead straight to the back of his head, perfectly dividing his hair with a long, straight white line and checked it on his 3D Hologram Card. It was the same. It was his own fault. But, no, it wasn't. He didn't want a HairCut in the first place, even though he did. Confusion..
Even without the part, his new HairCut was so impossibly short that he would have looked neatly groomed, but WITH the part, he felt as though he was marked as someone who always gave special attention to keeping his hair closely barbered, uniformly neat and clean. Just the opposite of what he wanted. Or was it? He was beginning to weaken. He heard BigBrother's hated voice. He was beginning to LIKE his new HairCut.
He grabbed a small, hand-held mirror, and looked at the back of his head. Like the sides, it had been clipped to the skin. This was when the depth of his transformation hit him fully, with the force of a physical blow. Just hours ago, his long, wild hair had reached down below his shoulders! Now, there wasn't a trace of it left. The back of his head was all but bald! And the short stubble that had somehow been allowed to survive his recent barbering was neatly trimmed around the edges. No hair at all remained beyond those edges. It had been removed -- permanently. It would never grow back.
Yesterday, when seen from the back, Jim could easily have been mistaken for a girl. In fact, more than a few times that had actually happened to him! But it would never happen again. His old hairstyle may have looked feminine, but his new closely clippered HairCut was all male. Viewed from the back, he looked nothing like a girl and every bit like a well-groomed young man.
He ran his palm up the back of his head. The unfamiliar sensation of the stiff bristles there was not unpleasant. He kept rubbing. It felt good. He kept on rubbing, gradually extending his path to the front of his head. He remembered during TheTREATMENT, how BigBrother had lectured him on the importance of good grooming. A thought popped into his head: he loved his new short HairCut. But then, another voice, his OLD voice, he thought how he HATED short hair. And how he hated BigBrother for changing him this way, for invading and controlling his thoughts. He couldn't help but feel his HairCut and new attitude were good. It was like a permanent rape. He hated BigBrother. He began messing up his new HairCut. Despite himself, he enjoyed the sensation of his hard, stiff hair on his hand.
He looked in the mirror. The PermaGel went to work, and in seconds Jim's hair had re-combed itself to perfection. It looked as neat and groomed as the minute he had walked out of the BarberShop! Jim messed it again, and again it re-combed itself.
Jim faced hard reality: this was it. This was his HairCut now. It wouldn't be allowed to get long again. It couldn't be worn any other way. It couldn't even be messed up! It was clipped close to the skin, brushed back off his face and neatly parted, and there was nothing he could do about it. His long hair was gone forever. He had gotten a HairCut, a blond HairCut.
Reactions among his friends were divided when he went to school on Monday. His younger friends -- who had yet to undergo TheTREATMENT -- were mostly shocked. Most of them had short hair anyway, but they still couldn't believe JIM had gotten such a short HairCut. Never the less, not a single one thought he looked bad. Just the opposite -- they thought he looked a thousand times better!
Jim's older friends, who had all undergone TheTREATMENT themselves, just smiled knowingly. They knew all too well the ordeal Jim had gone through, the strange new regimented attitudes that had been imposed on him, and the constant presence of BigBrother's voice, directing him, controlling him. They, too, had been through the shock of that first HairCut, and known the feel of the grooming, the clippers, and the gels.
By the end of the day, Jim felt for the first time like he fit in. Was it just his new short HairCut? He didn't know. All he knew was that when he stood with a group of his friends, he looked like one of them. Maybe TheTREATMENT wasn't so bad after all. Maybe BigBrother was right. About a lot of things.
But there was still a part of Jim's mind that would not give in. The battle between him and BigBrother was destined to continue for some time. He knew that he was still able to beat the system if he tried hard enough. His first resistance was to make a conscious effort not to go back to the BarberShop after the required week. His hair was too bloody short anyway, even though part of him liked it. But each night before he went to bed he felt compelled to look at his 3D Hologram. It was then that he admired his new HairCut. But next morning after a shower and shampoo he felt a rebel again as his hair morphed back into place with that impossible straight part, no matter how much he tried to ruffle it.
Three weeks later, Jim knew instinctively that he had something to do. He'd felt strange a week after getting his HairCut. He somehow KNEW he should have gotten another one the following week, but he didn't want to. He couldn't stand the thought of sitting in that chair again, feeling those cold clippers on his head again. He had managed to put off getting a HairCut for weeks -- now the feeling inside him was becoming irresistible. BigBrother's voice was becoming louder and louder. Jim couldn't stand the fact that BigBrother could order him around like this, and what was worse was that he somehow WANTED to get a HairCut. His hair had grown out some, and was actually becoming a bit scraggly around his ears. He wanted to get a HairCut -- but he also didn't want to.
After the fourth week, BigBrother's hated voice became almost unbearable. His friends were beginning to tease him at school, and call him a hippie. "When are you getting a HairCut?" they asked him constantly. And that Saturday, the instant he awoke, he knew he would get a HairCut that day. Within the hour, he was back inside the BarberShop, waiting for a HairCut.
His second HairCut was like a reoccurring nightmare. It took less than half the time of his initial shearing -- the barber buzzed his head and finished him off in less than 10 minutes. Just a quick HairCut, he thought. But when he was shown his reflection in the mirror, panic overtook him again.
It wasn't so much his reflection -- in the previous month, he had almost gotten used to his neatly groomed appearance. No, it was the thought that he was going to stay this way. It wasn't a temporary thing that was going to go away. It was for real. It was permanent. And worst of all, try as he might, he felt good about it. And he knew, deep down, that he would keep his hair this way. He had to.
BigBrother was watching.