... who’s the fairest of them all?

Patricia Kate had always hated her platinum-white hair. It made her virtually invisible to the world at large, or at least, she thought it did. In a fit of despair, she used her limited knowledge of Artisanship (courtesy of Lady Saah) to dye her translucent white locks into an eye-soring, brilliant shade of orange.

‘Would you look at that,’ said Kate, checking her fiery orange hair in the large chamber mirror. ‘It even glows in the dark!’

But Kate’s hidden desire for more attention was about to backfire. She was soon to learn that the dye used on her plait of hair was no regular orange pigment. It retained traces of powdered Æbe’trax – a rare and dangerous Kaalà-imbibed metal, known to amplify the most dominant thought in one’s awareness. In more simple terms, Kate had unknowingly turned her hair into a supercharged Lamp of Aladdin, capable of making her every thought, a waking reality.

A mere hour into her new hair, Kate stopped on the side of the road to check out a red-breasted Nuthatch that rested on a nearby fence. ‘Well aren’t you a cutie?’ said Kate rhetorically, and the tiny bird happily joined her, perching upon Kate’s open hand and making her feel like a Disney princess. ‘And what is your name, little one?’ she asked a small squirrel, and the animal quickly joined her as well.

Two hours into her new hair, Kate was in the middle of the road like Billy-no-mates, covered from head to toe in bird droppings and various sorts of poop, with an army of small animals at her side. Embarrassed out of her mind, Kate began her long walk home; the army of animals followed.

After the animals, came the men. A couple of teenage lads began tagging along, walking side-by-side with the wild racoon that joined a mere minute later. Some fifty feet away, a horrible screech revealed that a double-decker bus had crashed into a tree. The driver – and all his passengers – abandoned the bus and eagerly joined the party.

‘Why are you here?’ one of the pursuing lads asked another.

‘I love her. Why are you here?’

‘I love her too,’ said the lad through a bit of a frown. ‘She’s beautiful, isn’t she?’

‘Angelic,’ agreed the other.

‘Sublime…’ sighed a third.

‘Beatific!’ a girl butted in.

‘Woof, woof!’ barked a dog.

Kate’s feet broke into a stride, as the party behind her grew larger. By the time she had reached the luxurious precincts of the Amberville Manor, she had a complete ecosystem at her heels, with half the population of Milton Keynes following suit. It took Vivian a whole afternoon of “booboo-be-gone Weaving” to rid Kate of all the unwanted attention, and surgically-remove the animals from her side.

- Louise Blackwick

Advent 2017