Writing prompt: “A still tongue keeps a wise head”
I have to admit I may have been trembling just a little bit in the bright daylight of autumn. I don’t know if I imagined it, but I could swear Gammie’s ring was pulsing on my finger when I got closer to the right storage room.
After the funeral I had been so tired by the time I got home that I just went to sleep. In the morning when I went back to Gammie’s folder I picked it up from the wrong end and a key fell out. After a short and frantic search which left Gammie’s papers all over my kitchen table I found that the key opened a storage room. So there I was, shivering with anticipation and the weather, standing in the middle of an industrial area right outside the storage room corresponding to the key in my pocket.
I breathed deep, clutched the key and opened the door.
“About bloody time! You do realize that I have to be fed every week, don’t you? It’s been nearly a mo- HEY! You’re not Helmi!”
I was instantly barraged with an assault of words from somewhere inside the storage room but I couldn’t see anyone. I stepped further in trying to ignore it.
“You’re not Helmi! I know Helmi and you’re not her! Identify yourself! Immediately! Sooner if you can. Right now! Well? What have you to say for yourself? Identify yourself or I start screaming! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”
Finally I found the source of the infernal sound; it was a severed human head. I may have given a shout of surprise but it was nowhere near loud enough for anyone to hear over the wail of the unattached head.
“SHUT! UP!” I shouted, trying to make myself heard over the racket, desperate to make it stop before my eardrums burst.
“AAAA- No need to get rude about it. Helmi will have my head if she finds out how easily I let you in.”
“But you’re only a head.”
“Yes. Imagine how inconvenient it would be for me if she took that away too.”
“But how…? Never mind. How did you know my grandmother?”
“Your grandmother? Helmi? You must be young Aino. How delightful. Helmi always spoke very highly of you, I must say. Won’t she be happy to find that we’ve become friends. Now if you don’t mind, you have to feed me. I haven’t been fed in almost a month you know.”
It’s a complete cliche to say that my mind was racing a mile a minute but that doesn’t even begin to cover it. So I just obeyed on automatic. It isn’t every day you get orders from a severed head. “What do I do?”
“You hold up that book over there up in front of me, so I can read it.” The severed head said, raising his eyebrows toward a desk in the far corner of the cluttered storage room.
“You… eat books?” I asked, picking my way toward the desk, stepping over a crossbow and circling the plastic box full of amulets and picked up a leather coat and set it down on the chair standing in front of the desk.
“Don’t be stupid. I feed on ideas. And where better to find fresh ideas than books?”
“Oh, you have to meet a friend of mine. He’s always going on and on about how he feeds on ideas. Just before he starts munching on a cheeseburger.”
“Great. Why don’t you just rub it in with some salt, hmm? I’ve LONGED to taste a cheeseburger.”
“As long as I don’t have to clean up the mess.” I mumbled, picking my way back to it.
“That’s exactly what your grandmother said! Cruel women the both of you! Where is the old biddy anyway?”
“Oh. Well, I must admit that’s a good excuse for not feeding me.”
“Rather.” I said, lifting the book up to the eye-level of the severed head. “What’s…” I started, but the head shushed me!
“Can’t you see I’m reading? Ru-uude.”
I sighed and wondered what strange things I was still going to see before Gammie’s quest was over.