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The Best of Times Short Story Competition


Spring 2018 Results




Two Heads Are Worse Than One

Copyright © Eddy Burger 2018


Two heads are better than one, they say. Try telling that to Siamese twins. I wasn’t a Siamese twin; I just grew an extra head one day. Despite my seemingly flippant tone, it was a shocking experience. I first became aware that something was amiss while I was sitting down to dinner and got a really itchy neck. It was at the point where the neck joins the shoulder. Well, after much scratching I felt something odd through the fabric of my clothes. I pulled open the neck of my shirt and could see a salivating mouth. It was evidently hungry. Well, I wasn’t going to feed it. I didn’t want it to grow. Little did I know that the food I ate via my regular mouth was enough to satiate it. I resolved to see my doctor first thing in the morning. As I said, I was shocked, and I had some trouble getting to sleep, but once morning arrived I found that the mouth had grown into a full blown head. You’d think that a head that had just been born might not know much but that wasn’t the case at all.

“Let’s go to the doctor quick so I can check up on my health,” he said.

“Check up on your health? I was hoping to have you removed.”

“You can’t cut me off! How dare you!”

“Well, maybe they can put you onto another body – on the body of someone who’s brain-dead or something.”

“Jesus! You’re so insensitive! We should cut you off – make your body into a better person.”

“I won’t be giving up my body. No way. It’s been my body all my life. Look, I won’t get anything done without discussing it with you first, ok?”

“Not just by discussing it. You must have my consent.”

“All right! All right!”

I wasn’t so happy about giving this young upstart-of-a-head so much right to my body. I had to be careful what I said or I might find myself in breach of a spoken contract. But what else could I do? For the time being, I was just concerned with getting along with the damn thing.

We prepared to head out, but I found he had as much control over my body as I had. I got a bucket out of the laundry to hide the head for the journey but he tried to put it over my head. “You don’t need to see where you’re going,” he said. “I know the way.”

“But the doctor doesn’t know you.”

“He’s going to see us both once we get in his office anyway.”

“But the receptionists don’t know you. And you don’t have ID. My ID has to be shown to the receptionists, and you are not me.” Thankfully my argument won him over. He was, after all, adamant that he should be treated as an individual. Whilst we looked similar he was, without doubt, a different person.

“Good god!” said the doctor when she saw my other head. Then she fainted. This happened several times. Finally she was able to get an anti-fainting pill into her mouth. “How on Earth did this happen? Are you the product of some sick experiment?”

“I’m always handling radioactive materials in my job but I always wear gloves,” I said.

“That’s not the reason,” said my other head. “Your body thought it was due for a change. I am the rightful heir to your body!”

“You are not! I’ve had this body all my life!”

“Tell me, doctor,” said my other head. “Would it be possible remove this upstart-of-a-head and put it onto the body of someone who is brain-dead?”

“You can’t do that!” I said. “You accused me of being insensitive when I made the same suggestion!”

“Answer the question, doctor.”

“Only Frankenstein would have ever considered such a thing!” said the doctor.

“But he’s a fictional character,” I said.

“Well, that’s what the powers that be would have us believe.”

“Are you saying he was real?” I said.

“Er...no, no. Of course not.”

The doctor examined my other head, looking into his mouth, his ears and eyes, feeling his neck and pulse, and so on. “Well, you appear to be in perfect health,” she said to my other head. “Certainly your teeth are in better shape than Eddy’s.”

“See,” said my other head to me. “I am more deserving of your body than you are. I am sure I would take better care of it.”

“Rubbish!”

Then we headed home and the other head made me wear the bucket, though it took some convincing. Granted, it seemed fair enough since he’d worn the bucket on the way to the doctor, yet I was adamant that it was more my body than his. He had no right to claim equal ownership.

Since neither of us wanted to wear the bucket we spent the rest of the day indoors and busied ourselves on the internet and watched TV. We did have similar tastes but still we argued like cats and dogs. The proverb Two heads are better than one proved untrue at every turn, particularly in the sense that it usually applies – the solving of problems. We certainly couldn’t solve the problem of who was going to end up with my body. One argument was over his name. He wanted to be called Eddy Burger too, even though he was evidently a different person. I suggested he be Eddy Burger Junior, since he was younger, but he insisted that he be Eddy Burger and I be Eddy Burger Senior. I had to go along with it otherwise we would have both been called just Eddy Burger.

I took a couple of weeks off work, and the next few days passed in much the same manner. We only went out when we really needed to, such as to buy groceries, yet my other head stopped making a fuss about wearing the bucket. He seemed not to mind anymore. He was very tired all the time and he spoke much less. Sometimes he fell asleep while I was still awake. I’d take the bucket off him after a trip outdoors and find him snoozing. So things seemed to be turning in my favour. I hoped it was the beginning of the end for him. I hoped he would shrivel up and drop off.

I had no reason to suspect that things were other than they seemed but one day I awoke in the middle of the night. My body was sitting at my desk and my other head was studying information on the computer screen and making notes. He hadn’t realised I had awoken. Up on the screen were pages from Frankenstein’s journals. The present page showed how to keep a severed head alive.

No wonder he was so tired during the day! He’d been studying up on how to cut me off! Was he going to drug me then cut me off tomorrow or the next day? I had to act. As he bent over to write in the notebook I took control of my pen-wielding hand and turned the pen towards his eyeball, about to plunge it in, when my other hand tore the pen from my grasp. I punched his face several times while he fumbled for something in the draw. Suddenly he jabbed a syringe into my neck and in a moment I fell unconscious.

I awoke in my basement, my body strapped to my old work bench. I hadn’t been down there for weeks but it had since been transformed into a laboratory. Then a hideous hunchback appeared by my side. “Master,” he said to my other head. “I heard a commotion and thought you might be in trouble. I found you unconscious so I took the liberty of restraining your body.”

“You have done well, Igor. I did not think the drug would send me unconscious as well.”

“You have not done well!” I shouted. “Release me, Igor!”

“Y-y-yes master.”

“He’s not your master!” said my other head. “I am. Remember that. We may share the same body, but not for very much longer! Mwa ha ha!”

“Ignore him Igor! I am your true master. I will treat you much better than he has. I will treat you like a prince!”

“Don’t believe him Igor! I will treat you like a king!”

“Don’t believe him Igor! Untie me! There can be no harm in it. You will be untying the both of us!”

“Don’t do it Igor!”

“Untie us Igor! That’s an order!”

“Don’t do it! That’s an order!”

Igor started bawling as he undid the straps. “I’m sorry, master! I’m sorry!”

The moment my arms were free I began strangling the other head but then he got the upper hand and strangled me. We fell off the workbench and he started banging my head against the floor, trying to render me unconscious. “Quickly, Igor!” I shouted. “Knock him unconscious!”

Igor knocked him unconscious with a spanner but then knocked me unconscious as well.

I awoke on the workbench again, feeling very queer. Then I saw Igor. Or, at least, I saw his head. It was attached to a normal body. It was my body and I was a hunchback!

Igor was flexing his neck and stretching his arms. “It feels good to have a normal body,” he said.

“How could you do this to me!” said my other head. It was sitting in a terrarium, bodiless.

“Your other head was right,” said Igor to my other head. “You never treated me well so I gave him my body. Besides it would be a greater loss for him to be without a body than you. You never had one of your own to begin with.”

“But how did you know how to perform the operation?” asked my other head.

“You’re not the first mad scientist I’ve been apprenticed to.”

“What about me!” I said. “Why should I accept being a hunchback! Give me back my body!”

“You can’t complain!” said my other head. “At least you have one!”

“I think I deserve to have a good body after all this time,” said Igor to me. “I’ll let you be my assistant.”

I became his assistant for a time but I was loath to be party to such unspeakable experiments a he was to perform. Apparently live human body parts were too hard to come by, and after he transplanted my other head onto the body of a sheep I decided that a life on the streets was preferable. I took the man-headed sheep with me, though I didn’t put a bucket over his head. We made a fair income busking on the streets.

“Come and see the man-headed sheep!” I shouted.

“Come and see the hunchback with a sewn-on head,” he shouted. “Baa.”

I was grateful that he allowed me to use him to raise money. After all, he didn’t need money to buy food. He could just eat grass. And so it was that we finally became friends.