Stachetastic: the Hair-Raising Origin - Part One
It was all Ms. Wyndham's experiment's fault.
Norman shook his head and sighed, cursing his luck. Why, oh why, had they sent him instead of some other Grooming Parlour worker to fetch the Super Conditioner from the storage area?! The room was cluttered enough to belong to a relative of the Snowager's, but even so, Norman would usually have no qualms going inside to fetch anything.
But with Ms. Wyndham's experiment on a new shampoo/conditioner going on, Norman could not afford to make one single misstep. The seemingly harmless bubbling cauldron lay in the corner of the room where the Super Conditioner was sitting on one of many shelves dangerously close to the brew. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself and remember to be careful. Of course, the klutz in him demanded an exit and rammed his toe against a stray spiky brush. Typical klutz, always emerging just when it wasn't supposed to.
The Lupe yelped and stumbled forward, knocking over a few boxes, and saw the cauldron of Ms. Wyndham's herbal something-or-other loom closer and closer to his face. In a panic, the Lupe lunged for the shelf directly across from him, and, to his relief, felt his paws grip it, albeit not very firmly. The Lupe assessed his situation. His feet were on a stable box, his paws were on a relatively high shelf, and the experiment, fuming and bubbling, was just underneath him. He breathed out slowly. He was safe for now.
However, the klutz in him wasn't through yet. It kicked at his nervous paws and screamed, causing one of them to lose its grip. Panting, the Lupe looked below him, and the color drained from his face. He saw and could almost feel the bubbles of the unknown mixture nearly pop on his stomach, so close was the mixture to his fur.
In one last-ditch effort, the Lupe swung his loose paw up to the shelf again, glad to grab onto something solid. The klutzy monster, however, was still at work, for said paw tipped over an entire bottle of Supersize! right into the cauldron.
Norman wasn't panting in fear; he was hyperventilating! Oh, would Ms. Wyndham have his hide now... Norman felt his skin crawl under his fur just thinking about how doomed he was--
The thought instantly left his mind as the poor Lupe felt his front paws become sweaty and his rear paws slide on the box he was standing on.
With a sudden jolt, his front paws slipped off of the high shelf and gripped the shelf just below it, bringing Norman's face dangerously close to the now-purple and very smelly brew.
He winced as he felt nothing but the hair on his upper lip graze the bubbling potion. The Lupe screamed and pushed against the shelf, sending him over another box and toppling onto the floor.
Norman untangled his legs and looked around. He sighed, grateful the klutz in him didn't do as much damage as it could have. The hair on his upper lip felt oddly soft, though. The Lupe touched it and gasped. It was so very soft! Ms. Wyndham's experiment was a complete succ--
The thought burst like one of the bubbles on the surface of the mixture as he felt his moustache grow longer and longer.
Panicking, the Lupe whined and put his paws to his face, trying desperately to stop the fur sprouting from his face. The moustache looked like long tendrils of fur, almost like the kind he'd read about in stories, with princesses doing all sorts of things with their unusually long hair. Norman gasped and recoiled as his moustache reached the floor and started coiling around his feet. He whined, racing around the untidy room, knocking over ladders and boxes and completely forgetting about the Super Conditioner he was supposed to retrieve. Oh, Ms. Wyndham would fire him for sure... she fired every single worker who'd tampered with her experiments before!
He hugged himself with his front paws and was startled to find his extremely long moustache doing the same. "Aaaieee! Get off!" he yelped, waving his arms and moustache. "No, no, no..." he whined lamely to the two furry tendrils waving about like scared Sillie Daisies.
Just then, someone knocked on the door to the storage room. "Norman? How long does it take to grab a bottle of Super Conditioner?"
Norman just about leapt out of his hide as the door to the storage room burst wide open and a relatively quiet squeal rang out as his friend, Lenora, nearly fainted at the door. As quickly as she reacted, though, the Aisha shoved aside stepladders and boxes and practically tackled the poor Lupe, clutching the extremely long moustache.
"This is the softest, handsomest, adorable-est bunch of fur I've ever seen!" the Aisha squealed. "Oh, hey Norman." She nodded, addressing the Lupe. "How long did it take you to grow this gem of a moustache?" Lenora asked, draping the moustache on her arms and wearing it like a scarf.
"Ten seconds," Norman huffed.
"You're kidding!" Lenora peered over the bubbling cauldron with the bottle of Supersize! still in it. "That... that explains a lot. Ms. Wyndham won't be happy about that," she murmured, her eyebrows shooting straight up. "How are you going to explain this to her? Your boss isn't exactly the most understanding when it comes to tampering with her concoctions."
Norman whined again. "I know, I know!" he shivered, thinking about the last time he was clumsy enough to knock over her bucket of experimental shampoo. "She'd almost fired me but she told me she didn't want to lose the Lupe that the customers liked. Surely that won't keep me from being fired this time!"
Feeling a painless tug on his upper lip, Norman turned around to see Lenora busily stroking the soft fur. "What was in that cauldron...?" she mused, braiding it with her paws.
The Aisha looked up.
The Lupe slammed his paw to his forehead and groaned, sending a wave of energy through the long tendrils of fur. Lenora giggled as the moustache brushed against her upper lip in a wave-like fashion. "That tickles! Do it again, do it again!"
"I need your help." Norman pleaded.
"Well, why didn't you say so?" The Aisha leaped out of the pile of moustache and sauntered over to Norman, sticking a surgical mask onto him that she got from Fyora knows where.
"Really? That's your solution?!" Norman eyed the cloth skeptically but was too relieved at the temporary solution to his problem to complain too much. "Thanks," he breathed, relaxing. As soon as the worry of being seen with a giant moustache was quelled, several popped up in its place like a horde of Sillie Daisies. "What if Ms. Wyndham doesn't like the mask? I could ask for the day off, but she doesn't like it when I do that, especially not on such short notice. She might not believe I'm sick enough to have to leave and then she might take the mask off altogether!"
Lenora burst out laughing. "What?!" Norman snapped, his ears flattening. "This is no laughing matter!"
The Aisha tried her best to compose herself, but alas, her best was not very much at all. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it's just that I can't understand a word you're saying under all of that fur and the surgical mask. I do owe you a favor or two, so I'll help you out today. You head right home, and I'll take care of Ms. Wyndham. I'll meet you there later today before I head to work." Norman nodded and fled the cluttered storage room via the emergency exit.
"Hmm..." Lenora wondered, scratching her head and eyeing the still-bubbling mixture Ms. Wyndham was brewing. "It made his moustache super long and soft..."
As if on cue, a Kougra in a business suit strode into the cluttered room without even noticing the Aisha was there. "What's happened to my experiment?!" she gasped, not breaking her stride or increasing her speed in approaching the cauldron. "It's changed..." she gasped, the dark magenta fur around her neck prickling. "Did you have something to do with this?!" She growled and whirled around, suddenly noticing the Aisha.
"Who, me?" Lenora batted her eyelashes. "I don't even work here and technically, Uni's Clothing isn't a direct competitor. There's no way I'd want to sabotage such an upstanding and respectable supervisor like you." Her voice was a Honey Potion. "And Norman? There was something in that potion that made him unwell. It may be the fumes, you know." Lenora looked around the box-scattered room with an eye as innocent as a Baby Aisha. "You might want to get some ventilation in here."
"Hmph." Ms. Wyndham straightened and strode right out of the room again.
As soon as Ms. Wyndham's back was turned, Lenora ran over to said cauldron, pulled out a small quantity of Gnorbu wool from her pocket, and dipped it into the mixture. She was careful enough not to get any of it on herself lest her paw turned extremely large and soft as well. Lenora did not need a soft paw; there was already Tyrela the Wocky for that.
Just then, the wool began to grow and tremble violently in her paws, and she yanked it out and laid it over a stray box.
Before her eyes, the wool began to swell and swell until the pile of wool was nearly as large as Lenora herself! The Aisha clapped her paws and could not help but jump into the pile of wool. Oh! It was softer than the cloud furniture she'd bought from Faerieland! Lenora sighed and closed her eyes, but remembered her promise to her friend. Almost sorrowfully, she packed up the wool as best as she could (which, again, wasn't very well at all) and sprinted to Norman's house.
To be continued...