Apply. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
It all sounded so simple. Bufleh gently squeezed the shampoo into his drooling palm. It was blue. 'Blue shampoo,' thought Bufleh. Right he was. Blue shampoo indeed. Almost infinitely blue, yet, not at all. The colour of the shampoo was unquestionably blue, without a doubt. It was slightly translucent. That made it better.
Bufleh now stopped examining the shampoo. He swallowed hard, and raised the palm with the shampoo to his scalp. He gently smeared on the blue shampoo and struggled not to scream. He could feel it working. He grabbed his pen from his briefcase, and grabbing the shampoo bottle, he put a checkmark beside the word "Apply".
Bufleh sighed. Perhaps he should call it quits now, do the rest tomorrow? It had been a rough day, after all... but no. He must go through with it. Bufleh trembled. He was losing his nerve. He strengthened his resolve.
"Lather," Bufleh said, firmly. "I now shall lather." Cautiously, Bufleh raised his palms to his head. "Oh my god," he muttered, his voice trembling with fear.
He closed his eyes and started to scream as he took the plunge off the deep end. Quickly his hands raced through his hair, whipping up a hideous batch of soapy foam, encompassing his entire head, until it seemed it would swallow him whole.
Bufleh's scream died out and was replaced with horrified crying. His hands floundered about hopelessly, searching for the shampoo bottle and the instructions. He tried to rub the stinging blue fire out of his eyes, but that only made it worse. It was hopeless, it was all hopeless. Suddenly, Bufleh's knees gave out and his limp body slumped to the corner of the tiled shower stall, as he sat still.. whimpering softly. Useless. He never should've tried washing his hair. Now it was all over. Bufleh's chest and throat began to ache, encouraging him to cry harder still.
"Apply.. lather...then what?" Bufleh muttered, going through the list aloud in search of his salvation. Apply... lather... Was that all? No. There had been more. Apply again? No. It started with an R, or a T. One of those letters in the last half of the alphabet, but not Q, X or Z or he would remember. Repeat!! ... no. That wouldn't help. Rather? No, that wasn't a verb. Doomed! No.. rin.... rin.. rink? Rin... sin... rinsin... rinse! RINSE!! RINSE!!!!
Bufleh stood and tried to keep his balance. He quickly positioned his head under the warm spray, not caring whether he lived or died as long as the shampoo was gone! He felt the soapy bubbles slowly trail from his head down to his face to his torso and beyond. Within a few short minutes he was free! Bufleh's crying slowly transformed into a reluctant chuckle. He was okay now. Okay. His hair was clean. He grabbed the pen again and placed a check beside "Lather", and another check beside "Rinse".
He grabbed the bottle. Slowly, Bufleh's eyes trailed ever right, towards the next sadistic command in this morbid routine. "Repeat" the bottle informed him. Bufleh pondered. His jaw dropped and hung open. Repeat! But surely he had been through enough?
His hair felt clean! And yet, the bottle said he had to repeat. Bottles didn't lie. The government had people who made sure of that. The bottle knew best. He must repeat. Repeat! Maybe he could just repeat the rinse... no. He knew what the bottle meant. It wanted the whole thing over again. It wouldn't be satisfied until Bufleh had revisited hell. No, he couldn't, it would destroy him. And yet, to come so far... for nothing? He had to go on. All his suffering could not be in vain.
The familiar blue ooze seeped into his hand. "Apply," he muttered, as he slapped it onto his hair. "Lather," he whimpered, as he smeared it about. "Rinse," he said between sobs as he stepped under the nozzle once again. "Repe..." The word trailed off. "Repea..? REPEAT? Oh my god..." It was unbelievable, and yet there it was. "Repeat." Surely the bottle was jesting? What manufacturer would create such a cruel infinite loop? "No," said Bufleh firmly. "I will not do this again. I will not." And yet.. he had done it twice already, was that all for naught? It couldn't be. It was unimaginable. He would do it one more time, and that would be it! After this last time, his hair would be clean, and stay clean! Never again.
He faked a confident smile as he applied. No problem.
He tried to maintain his composure as he lathered. He would make it.
His eyes began to drool as he rinsed. He would not cry!
"Done!" he cried triumphantly, and he picked up the shampoo bottle in a manner that seemed to DARE it to state otherwise!
"Repeat," said the bottle.
Gently, Bufleh squeezed the bottle and began to apply...