Hand in hand with his mother, the little blue Moehog walked into the Neopian Hairdressing Salon.
“You’ll be alright, Mittle,” his mother assured him gently. “All they are going to do is make your pretty hair shiny and new.” Mittle sighed with relief. If they cut off his hair, he’d be devastated. His hair was his pride. All the pre-Neoschool girls liked to touch it. Mittle liked that very much. He didn’t realize that he was vain, but his teachers could see it, which was why they had asked Mittle’s mother to take him to the salon.
Mittle looked through a magazine showing all types of Neopets with different haircuts while his mother set up an appointment with the glamorous pink Uni at the counter. Seeing a hairstyle one of the MoeHawks were wearing, he tugged at his mother’s skirt. Everyone in school thought that they were just the greatest band, and Mittle always bragged that he had gone to one of their concerts. It wasn’t entirely true, though--Mittle’s baby sister started crying after the first five minutes and they had to go home. Mittle was disappointed, but at least he had gotten to see his favorite band! His mother ignored his tug and continued to talk with the receptionist.
“Mittle, come along,” his mother said, taking his hand suddenly and leading him back into the big room that you couldn’t see from the check-in counter. The walls of the room were a light, sky blue, and the whole room was lined with mirrors. Fashionable Neopets in expensive clothes were leaning back in brown leather chairs with shiny metal armrests. The overall look of the room took Mittle by surprise, as he was sure that it would be all black and Darigan Myncies would come at him with scary smiles and snapping scissors.
The receptionist whispered something confidential into Mittle’s hairdresser’s ear, but Mittle was too busy taking in the room to notice. Mittle’s mother shifted from paw to paw uncomfortably. Seeing Mittle, the hairdresser, a rainbow Pteri with glowing, wavy brown locks, rushed over to him with a massive smile on her face. Mittle gasped at her beautiful hair. Surely she wouldn’t hurt his.
“Mittle, honey,” she started, “what shall I do with your hair today?” She glanced at the receptionist, and the Uni gave the Pteri a nod. “Oh, but first, we must wash your hair before we do anything to it!” The Pteri gave a concealed wink to the Uni, but Mittle caught it. What was she winking at?
Once again, Mittle was dragged into another room--but this one was much smaller than the one before it, and had cream walls with a conveyer belt in the middle of the room. What’s going on? Mittle wondered. The Pteri shoved Mittle brutally onto the belt and pressed a dull green button on the side of it.
“What are you doing to me?!?” Mittle exclaimed, frightened. The Pteri grimaced, but didn’t stop the belt. Mittle sat down and curled up in a ball. He started whimpering, and was in the same position when he bumped into something resembling a blue Chia.
“What is happening?” he asked the Chia softly.
“I don’t know,” answered the Chia.
“What is this belt?”
“I don’t know.”
“Where are we going?”
“I don’t know.”
“What are they going to do to us?”
“Oh, be quiet.” The Chia sighed and plugged his ears. Mittle tugged on a tuft of the Chia’s hair.
“Do you want to be friends?” Mittle asked shyly. The Chia broke into a smile.
“Sure, kid. My name is Ambner,” Ambner said. “What’s yours?”
“I’m Mittle,” Mittle said, “and I’m glad to be friends with you!” The two laughed as the belt continued to chug, chug, chug, unevenly along with bumps every few feet or so. Fast friends, Mittle and Ambner tried to make some small talk as they sat together, facing each other. Then, Mittle’s eyes widened like saucers.
“Mittle? Mittle, what’s wrong?” Ambner asked, frantic. He glanced around, then slowly shifted his body so that he was facing the same way as Mittle. His eyes, too, widened large as saucers. There, in front of them, was a spinning machine that looked like it was meant to cut off all their hair!
“No, no, no...” Mittle moaned. “Not my hair, please! Please, no!” Panicking, Mittle peered over the edge of the belt. What he hadn’t realized was that the ground was so close!
“Ambner, jump. We’ve got to get off,” Mittle instructed, hopping off and holding a hand out to his friend. Ambner took his hand, and, eyes closed, slid off the conveyer.
“We’re off,” said Ambner, dazed. He shook his head. “Now which way do we go?”
“The same way we came, of course,” said Mittle, running in the opposite direction.
“Hey, slow down! I don’t have four legs, like you,” said Ambner, huffing as he raced to catch up to Mittle. It was easy for him to catch up, though, as Mittle had stopped short. Ambner stopped next to Mittle, and opened his mouth to speak. One glance from Mittle, though, had his mouth shut. Mittle nudged Ambner’s shoulder, and then tilted his head toward a wall straight ahead where two guards were lounging.
Oh, mouthed Ambner. How are we going to get past them?
Mittle shrugged. He had no idea at all.
“How about I’ll be the bait and distract them, you sneak off, set something wrong, and then I’ll sneak past too?” Ambner suggested. Mittle had to admit it was a good idea, so he nodded. The plan was in action.
Ambner walked up to the dozing red Skeiths and jabbed one in the nose.
“Hey, ugly,” he said bravely. It shook off the sleep and its eyes squinted. It poked its partner in the arm, and Ambner motioned for Mittle to go past.
“Rascal, is this Chia supposed to be off the belt?” the first Skeith asked.
“CHEESEBALL! How’d he get off? Turny, you know better. Get the pest back on.” said Rascal. Meanwhile, Mittle was working quickly and trying to find a switch to turn on or off. Hard as he tried, he couldn’t find a switch. He mouthed, I can’t find a switch! to Ambner, who pretended to bang his head on the wall as he got carried off back to the belt. Mittle sighed. He was safe, but his new friend wasn’t! He rolled around a few ideas in his head. He could go back and get Ambner off the belt again, but that was too risky. He could leave, but that wouldn’t be being a good friend.
“Be nice,” his mother always told him. “You won’t prosper from being mean.” Mittle didn’t know what prosper meant, but he thought it was something good. So, though it was risky, Mittle chose the first option. He just hoped he wouldn’t get caught.
Walking quietly through the corridors, Mittle quickly caught up to Ambner when he was almost at the cutting machine.
“Ambner, get off,” he instructed fiercely.
“Why? We’ll just get caught again, Mittle,” Ambner said bitterly.
“No, Ambner--I’m going to take your place.”
Ambner fell off the belt when he heard what Mittle said, stunned.
“Really? You’d do that for me?”
“Sure--friend.” Mittle smiled and climbed on the belt. “Take the side corridors, and go through the double doors. I did some exploring.”
“I won’t forget this, Mittle!” Ambner shouted and waved as he disappeared down the hall. Mittle waited patiently for his turn on the cutting machine. He was sad to lose his hair, but he realized it wasn’t as important as having friends. Debating these ideas, he had no idea what place in line he was until it was his turn. He closed his eyes, bit his lip, and didn’t realize it was over ‘til the room lightened up again. He opened his eyes and blinked. There was a breeze on his scalp, and he realized quickly that he was now bald. The Pteri greeted him at the end of the line, and led him back out into the blue room. He rushed into his mother’s outstretched arms. She pushed him away for a moment to see his haircut.
“Aww, how cute,” she said warmly. Proud of his new haircut, mother and son walked out of the establishment.
The next morning when Mittle came down for breakfast, his mother excitedly held out the new issue of the Neopian Times and read the headline.
“Thousands of blue pets donate hair for Snowager sweater,” she read.
“Is that why I’m bald?” Mittle asked. His mother nodded.
“It was for a good cause,” she said. “The Snowager got a cold a few months ago, and since he lives in the Ice Caves nobody could cure him. So with the help of blue pets like you, the Snowager got a giant blue sweater for his body and now he’s all fine.”
Mittle grinned widely, and later that day told everyone he knew about how he helped the Snowager get his sweater.