The wind whipped around Haru, pulling at her clothing, and setting her hair dancing around her head with stinging ferocity. The first cold splatters of rain began to fall, and she shivered in the fall air. The storm clouds darkened the sky until it almost seemed that night had fallen. She had hoped to find a ride into town before the rain came, but no one had stopped. In this day and age, everyone knew that picking up a stray traveler alongside the road was a dangerous thing. She smirked at the thought that they had gotten it right for once.
Headlights flashed at her as a car rounded a bend in the road. She didn't bother to try to flag it down, she didn't have the energy, and if she unwrapped her arms from around herself she just might turn to ice. She was surprised when the little car slowed and pulled over on the shoulder of the road. The window glided down and a young man leaned over to shout at her, struggling to be heard over the wind and rain, which was beginning to come down pretty hard.
"Do you need help?" He asked, a worried expression on his face. Haru was too cold and tired to worry about the dangers of getting into a car with a stranger. She quickly wrapped her hair into a loose knot and pulled the hood of her jacket up to cover it as she approached the vehicle.
She pulled the door open and slipped inside, getting a raised-eyebrow look of surprise from the man. His good-natured face relaxed as she settled in and buckled her seat belt. She knew he was trying to be polite. "Thank you for stopping," she said breathlessly. "You're the only one."
He shook his head as he took in her drowned-rat appearance. Haru had strong features, and at times she had been called beautiful, but she knew she wasn't much to look at with her red nose and her bangs plastered to her wide forehead. "I can't believe no one would stop for a woman alongside the road. What is the world coming to?"
Haru simply shrugged. "Its safer that way," she reminded him. "You never know who you might come across. Even a woman could be dangerous."
He nodded slowly, then looked at the rain swept road ahead. "I'm going into town to get something to eat. I can drop you off wherever you're headed."
Haru angled the car's vents toward her and soaked up the heat as he pulled back onto the road. She was exhausted from walking most of the day, down from the hills where she lived with her grandmother. It wasn't long before the hum of the tires and shush of the rain lulled her to sleep.
She jerked awake when the car stopped moving. Her hood had fallen away from her head as she slept, and she hastily pulled it up with a little gasp. Her eyes met the wide-eyed stare of the driver who had been studying her as she slept. "Ah... your hair..." he said slowly.
She bit her lip and tried to think how to explain. "I can usually hide it, but when I sleep... it kind of has a mind of it's own..."
He was still staring at her, though he didn't look as scared as he should. He probably had never heard the legends, originally started by her great grandmother's jealous rival. After losing the man she loved to Haru's ancestor, the woman had sworn he was stolen away by a beautiful monster with barbed hair.
Sure, her hair looked freaky, but no one in her family had ever eaten anyone- at least not that she knew of. The man scrubbed his hands over his face and pulled himself together. "Why don't we go eat some dinner, while you tell me what is going on?"
PS: I want killer barbed hair. Just so I can freak people out.
(picture from deviantart http://xatchett.deviantart.com)