Chapter 1: Goon Today
Then flash'd the living lightning from her eyes,
And screams of horror rend th' affrighted skies.
Not louder shrieks to pitying heav'n are cast,
When husbands, or when lapdogs breathe their last;
Or when rich China vessels fall'n from high,
In glitt'ring dust and painted fragments lie!
— Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock
"This is all your fault!" Rose shrieked.
The Doctor pulled on his battered leather jacket. "My fault? How come it's my fault?"
"We were in the same room. In fact, we were in the same bed! And you didn't wake up when some pervert crept in in the middle of the night and shaved all my hair off!"
"Oh." The Doctor glanced briefly at her. "That's it. Thought you looked a bit different this morning."
"You mean you hadn't even noticed?" Rose's newly bare scalp was pink with anger. "You're as bad— you're worse than Jimmy."
"I knew a Jimmy once. Jimmy Forbes. Used to argue a lot."
"If you treated him like this I'm not surprised." Rose risked another quick peep in the mirror, and recoiled in horror. "What are you gonna do about it?"
"About my hair!"
The Doctor, seemingly unconcerned, was looking out of the grubby window. "Look at it like this, Rose," he said. "You reckon, someone got in during the night while we were asleep, shaved your head, and got away with every last hair. And they did all this without waking either of us up. Not very likely, is it?"
"So you've got a better theory?
"Aliens. Got to be. Let's have a look round, see who it is."
"I can't go out like this!" Rose folded her arms. "First thing you need to do is get me a headscarf."
"A headscarf. Right."
"Make that two headscarves. Maybe three. Then I'll think about chasing aliens. Even if they have nicked my hair." She grimaced. "Not sure I'd want it back, after they've had their hands on it. Who knows what they'd want it for?"
"Perhaps they ate it," the Doctor said. "There's a species in the Artemis Cluster that lives off peroxide."
"You're not helping!" Rose stamped her foot. "I bet, if you'd got hair, this wouldn't've happened. They'd have gone for you instead."
"Next time I'm getting my head replaced, I'll check the new one comes with hair," the Doctor replied. "Anything else you want changed while I'm at it?"
He grinned at her, and departed.
"What d'you know?" the Doctor said.
Rose, who'd been sulkily mouching along behind him, looked up. "What?"
The Doctor pointed at a run-down shop. In faded gilt, above the door, was the proprietor's name, almost illegible under the dirt, and the word COSTUMIER. Wooden dummies, dressed in threadbare costumes, populated the front window.
"Well?" Rose looked at the dummies. "They're not Autons. Can't be. They're not plastic."
The Doctor sighed. "Wigs, Rose. They sell wigs, don't they?"
"I'm not gonna wear a wig!" Rose fumed.
"Rose, it's the perfect excuse." The Doctor put his hands on her shoulders. "We go in, and we say we're buying a wig for you. And while we're there, we'll ask a few tactful questions. See if they know anything about hair being sold cheap, that sort of thing."
"I thought you'd decided it was a bunch of aliens eating it?"
"Well, they may be, but I'm not always right first time."
"Never thought I'd hear you say that," Rose said, managing a brief smile.
"That's better." The Doctor pushed the door of the shop open. "Come along."
The proprietor of the shop fitted the decor exactly; he was an elderly, bespectacled man wearing antiquated clothes.
"Can I help you, sir and madam?" he asked.
"We need a wig," Rose said, pronouncing the word as if it tasted like undercooked cabbage.
"Ah, of course." The shopkeeper hobbled out from behind the counter, tape measure in hand. "May I measure your head, sir?"
"What?" The Doctor stared. "Not for me. It's for Rose here."
"Ohhhh. The lady is... bald?"
Rose resignedly pulled her headscarf off.
"See for yourself, grandad," she muttered.
"Oh. Then Minnie was right. I must let her know." He raised his voice. "Minnie! Minnie!"
"Henry?" came a distant, quavering call.
"You were right, Minnie."
"Ahhh! I knew it, Henry. Didn't I tell you?"
"Didn't you tell me what, Minnie?"
"Henry? What are you saying I didn't tell you?"
"I don't know, Min."
"What don't you know?"
"I don't know that either, Min."
"Then why were you calling for me just now?"
The shopkeeper scratched his head. "I can't remember, Min. I'm sure it was very important."
"Well, see if it comes back to you."
"That's a good idea, Min." He looked around, vaguely. "Now then, what was I... I'm sure there was somebody here just now."
He looked around, but the shop was empty.
"Dear me. What a to-do." He looked down at the tape measure in his hands, and hobbled back to replace it in its drawer. "Well, it's just as Minnie said. If all the men have bald heads, the Phantom will attack the women." He pushed the drawer closed. "I must remember to tell her that, some time."
"I'm really beginning to hate this headscarf," Rose said. "I just look so... Fifties."
"This is the Fifties," the Doctor patiently pointed out.
"Yeah, but I'm going to have to wear it for months. And we're not going to be here all that time, are we?"
"Hope not." The Doctor shrugged. "But we haven't got anywhere with tracking down the Phantom."
"I don't care any more." Rose leaned on the railings and looked out to sea. "I just want... hey, is that who I think it is? Down there, on the beach?"
The Doctor followed her gaze.
"Yup. The Prime Minister. Winston Churchill himself. That's all we need."
"I think I'll pop down there," Rose said. "See if I can get his autograph. Coming?"
The only answer was a clatter. She looked round, to see the Doctor, crouching down in a dustbin, about to lower the lid onto himself.
"What are you doing that for?"
"Rose, I can't let Churchill see me. I can't. The consequences for the fabric of time and space would be disastrous."
"It's all right if I chat to him, though?"
"Yes, fine. But don't mention me. Got that?"
Rose descended the steps and approached the great man.
"'Scuse me," she said. "You're the Prime Minister, aren't you?"
The Prime Minister removed his cigar. "I am he, young lady."
"Um. Could you sign something?" Rose delved in her pocket and pulled out a bunch of postcards she'd bought earlier. "It's not for me, it's for my mum."
Churchill signed the card she thrust at him, with an air of amusement.
"If you are collecting autographs, you will find the Leader of the Oppostion a little way down the beach," he said. "He was attempting to ride a donkey, which had distinct and contrary ideas of its own. I forbear to draw any comparisons with his task as the leader of his party."
"You go on holiday together?" Rose couldn't help boggling at the thought.
"In this time of national panic, it is important that we stand together and present a united front to the people of the Empire. Besides, neither of us has anything to lose on the trichological front."
"You mean the Phantom Head Shaver? And you're not scared of him because—"
"Because we are both already bald, young lady."
"Well, I hope you catch him soon. He stole my hair, you know. That's why I'm wearing this thing."
"I am very sorry to hear that. But do not be downcast. It has been agreed that the full might of the British Army shall be brought to bear upon the situation. Mark my words, by the combined efforts of our armed forces, the untiring determination of our police, and the stout courage of the citizens of Brighton, this fiend shall soon be brought to the judgement he so richly deserves."
"Umm..." Rose tried to think of some kind of reply, and eventually came up with "Good luck."
"Thank you. And now, I believe I shall investigate the sea a little."
"Farewell, young lady."
Rose made her way back up the beach, privately wondering what on earth the army could hope to do about someone who could creep invisibly into bedrooms and relieve people of their hair without them noticing. By the time she'd regained the esplanade, Churchill had removed his shoes and socks, had rolled up his trousers, and was standing at the edge of the sea, throwing stones.
Rose knocked on the dustbin. The lid rose a few inches, revealing the Doctor's eyes.
"He's looking the other way," Rose hissed. "You can come out, if you're quick and don't make a noise."
They didn't speak again until they'd put a few streets between them and the beach.
"So why can't you let him see you?" she asked.
"It'd take too long to explain."
Rose found herself smiling cheekily. "I don't think it's anything, you know, cosmic, at all," she said. "I reckon last time you saw him, you said something stupid, and you're afraid if you meet again he'll go on about it."
"That's got nothing to do with it," the Doctor said, and changed the subject with suspicious haste. "There's still the Phantom to deal with."
In the end, Rose was forced to make do with Churchill's autograph as a consolation prize, since she and the Doctor made no progress whatsoever in the matter of the Phantom Head Shaver. They left with the enigma as impenetrable as when they'd arrived. Perhaps, if one or other of them had smoked, they'd have happened to to speak to the friendly tobacconist in the kiosk outside the County Court, who, unknown to anybody, held the key to the mystery; but they didn't and didn't.
Chapter 2: Hair Tomorrow
"Restore the Lock!" she cries; and all around
"Restore the Lock!" the vaulted roofs rebound.
Not fierce Othello in so loud a strain
Roar'd for the handkerchief that caus'd his pain.
But see how oft ambitious aims are cross'd,
And chiefs contend 'till all the prize is lost!
— Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock
"There you are," the Doctor said, as Rose admired her new head of golden curls. "Told you the TARDIS had all sorts of wigs."
"Well, it's better than some horrible back-street shop in Brighton," Rose admitted. "I'm sure everything in there was hundreds of years old. Probably full of lice, too. So where are we this time?"
"Tetraceros Six. Right outside the biggest amusement park for six hundred light years. Fancy a day out?"
"Seriously? You've actually got us somewhere nice for once?" Rose hugged him. "I could really—"
"Let your hair down?" The Doctor looked down at her. "Sorry, couldn't resist."
The Doctor sighed. "So perhaps the log flume wasn't the best idea."
"Shut up and hang on," Rose retorted, leaning out precariously over the water. "I can nearly reach it."
The Doctor gave the floating yellow tangle a dubious look. "You think it'll be any good after it's been in there?"
"I'm not letting it get away... What's that noise?"
"It's your jacket. Rose, look out!"
The fabric parted, leaving the Doctor clutching an empty sleeve as Rose toppled into the water. Her shriek was abruptly cut off.
Rose surfaced, coughing and spluttering.
"I got it!" she shouted, waving the bedraggled wig. She looked past the Doctor, at the approaching security guards. "Uh-oh. Looks like I got us thrown out as well."
"You were right." Rose mournfully turned the remains of the wig over in her hands. "It's a write-off. I ruined my jacket and got soaked and we got chucked out and it was all for nothing."
"You don't have to wear a wig," the Doctor said. "Your real hair looks fine."
Rose ran her hand over her head. Her hair was growing back, but so far it was no more than a mousy-brown fuzz.
"It's no good," she said. "We go out like this, people are gonna think I'm your boyfriend."
"Only if you wear loose clothes."
"Half the time you wouldn't notice even if I was naked." Rose threw the wig aside. "No, it won't do. I'll just have to try and find another one that fits better."
"Rose, are you all right?"
"Yeah." Rose rubbed her forehead. "Just bruised."
"That's the third time today you've walked into the doorframe. Are you sure...?"
"Look, it'll be fine. I'm just getting used to it, that's all."
The Doctor gave the purple wig a dubious look. "I'm sure the hair shouldn't go in front of your eyes like that."
"It's the best fit of all of them," Rose said firmly. "And it's comfortable. And I like the look."
"Right. Right." The Doctor shook his head. "I just wonder how you'll cope when we aren't in the TARDIS. That's all."
"OK, I give in." Rose pulled off the purple wig. "I can't go around bumping into things and falling in ponds and nearly getting run over all the time. I'll just have to put up with waiting till my hair grows out."
"That's a relief. That last time, with the forklift, was..." The Doctor shook his head. "Hair-raising."
"Sorry. Anyway, I got what I wanted. If you need me, I'll be in the lab."
He set off, whistling and swinging a carrier bag.
"You're up to something," Rose muttered, and headed for the wardrobe, to see what it could do for her in the way of hats.
Alone in the lab, the Doctor sorted through his accumulated purchases, the product of advanced medical disciplines from a score of worlds.
"Hair restorer," he said. "Hair restorer. Hair growth agent. Sleep suppressant? How did that get in there?" He tossed the packet over his shoulder. "Scalp restorative. Just the job."
He flipped through the bottles, blister packs and bunches of herbs, reading the instructions. The question was, how best were these various potent chemicals to be combined for the right effect on Rose's abbreviated locks?
He read the instructions again, shrugged, and threw the whole lot in a liquidiser. Mix everything up together, slosh it on, and it couldn't fail — could it?
The hats hadn't detained Rose for long. If she'd been in a better mood, she could have spent many a happy hour trying them on, but there was only so much she could take of seeing the state of her hair in the mirror. By now, it was still too short to do anything with, but long enough to look messy.
She set out for the lab, to see what harebrained scheme the Doctor was up to this time.
Oh, no, she thought. Harebrained. Now I'm making hair puns to myself even when he isn't around.
Carefully, the Doctor tipped the contents of the liquidiser into a small bucket. A few drops spilled onto the workbench and fizzled on the Formica. As the Doctor watched, a small clump of nylon fibres began to grow from the flat surface.
"Fantastic," he muttered. Holding the bucket carefully in both hands, he made for the door.
Rose, heading for the lab and not paying much attention, and the Doctor, coming out of the lab with all his concentration on the bucket of hair restorer, both rounded the same corner at the same time, and collided. With a simultaneous "Oof!" they staggered back.
"What the..." Rose stared at the now-empty bucket, feeling cold liquid running over her scalp and down her back. "What was..."
"Rose, get your clothes off!" the Doctor shouted, sounding unusually panicky. "Now!"
"What? You just poured a bucket of water over my head and now you want me to strip for you?" Rose took a couple of steps back. "You keep away from me!"
"That wasn't water," the Doctor explained. "It was hair restorer."
"I made it for you. I thought maybe you'd feel better if you didn't have to wait for your hair to grow again."
"And I spilt it. I'm sorry, Doctor." Rose reached up and touched the top of her head. "But it's working. Isn't it? I can feel my hair growing, I'm sure."
"Yes, it's working," the Doctor said. "That's not the problem."
"Then what...?" Rose felt something tickle her neck. She looked round, to see something white out of the corner of her eye. "Doctor, what's happening?"
"It got on your clothes," the Doctor said. "That's why you need to take them off."
"You mean it'll soak through? I'll end up with hair all over my back?" Rose tried to pull her top off, but it seemed thicker and heavier than she remembered. "I reckon I need a hand with this. And what's all this white stuff?"
"Cotton wool, I think." The Doctor helped her off with the top. "Looks like the formula works on fabric as well."
Rose turned the top over in her hands. It had been a thin cotton sweatshirt; now it resembled a heavy sheepskin rug, and was becoming even thicker and heavier in her hands. And something was tickling the backs of her legs. The same thing must be happening to the rest of her clothes.
"I'm going to the bathroom," she said firmly. "And I'm gonna wash the rest of this stuff off before it does anything else to me." She strode away down the corridor, then turned back. "Oh. And thanks, Doctor."
"Looks like it's stopped growing," the Doctor said. He pushed the yellow lever, and watched the measuring tape retract into its holder. "Eight feet. Same as an hour ago."
Rose tried to sit up, but her newly-grown hair, spread across the floor behind her, resisted.
"Are you standing on it again?" she asked.
The Doctor hastily jumped clear, helped Rose to her feet, and handed her a few armfuls of tangled hair.
"I can't go round like this," she said firmly. "How am I supposed to save planets if I've got to hold my hair all the time?"
"Put it in a plait, no problem."
"What, like Rapunzel? Don't tell me. You're gonna say you've met Rapunzel. Aren't you?"
"Well, I did."
"And her hair was longer than mine?"
"Was that your fault, too?"
"No, it wasn't! Anyway, I wasn't thinking of Rapunzel." For a moment, the Doctor looked straight through Rose, with an expression that Rose recognised all too well. Whoever the woman with long hair had been, the Doctor was never going to see her again. Before Rose could say anything, though, he reverted to his normal cheerful self.
"Where was I? Oh, yes. If you aren't keeping it that long, you'll have to have it cut. I've got some scissors somewhere..."
Rose held up her hand. "Oh no. I'm not letting you near my hair with any sort of blade, not after last time."
"Then I'll find you a hairdresser. The best hairdresser in the Galaxy. How does Ursa Minor Beta sound?"
"Mum always cuts my hair," Rose said thoughtfully.
"My mother." Rose looked up at the Doctor. "You're scared, aren't you? You think, when she sees me like this, she'll go off on one."
The Doctor crossed to the console and bent over it, avoiding her gaze.
"She might even slap you again," Rose said dreamily. She wandered over to the console, her hands still full of hair. Maybe she couldn't go around like this forever, but it might be fun to keep it for a couple of days, and see how Mickey and Shareen and Trisha and the rest reacted. "That'd almost be worth having my hair mucked about with, just to watch."