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     "He's dead."

    I looked at the detective and said, "Yes, the missing head kind of gives it away doesn't it?"

    The body was dressed in a business suit and sat at the desk as if it were placed there in a pose, it's hands folded neatly in front of him. There was no sign of a struggle, and most peculiar, no blood. This was either going to be one for the record books, or the work of a very clever and sick individual.

    I walked around behind the chair the body occupied and looked down into the open neck wound where the head was normally located. A nice clean cut. Perfect as a matter of fact. No tearing of tissue, no bone fragments, and no blood. You could look right down his gullet.

    Detective Frank Wayland stuck his head in the office door. "I found more bodies in the lab down the hall."

    I took one last look down the headless mans neck, wondering if I could see his supper down in his stomach, but it was to dark. I followed Frank out the door and instructed the remaining detective not to let anyone else in except the medical examiner. I wondered what sort of surprise awaited me in the lab.

    We had gotten the call from a maintenance man. He had been summoned by the building superintendent to investigate a report that the fifth floor was inaccessible. It seems that floor had a few deliveries scheduled and the vendors were unable to gain entrance to it from the service elevator. The public elevator also refused to open at the fifth floor and the stair way fire exit door was locked. The locked fire door was a clear violation of the city building codes, and as the fifth floor failed to respond to any form of communication, the maintenance man torched through the fire door hinges. After he found the first body, he called us.

    To be safe, we had our guns drawn as we entered the lab. The lab appeared to be for some sort of electronic or mechanical research rather than biological. It was full of unrecognizable gadgets sporting numerous dials, blinking lights and connected by heavy power cables. Laying on separate work tables side by side were two individuals in white lab coats, both missing their heads, one male, one female.

    "To bad about her. She's a hot number, that one is."

    I looked at Frank in disgust. "You're a pig Frank." I shook my head in disbelief at his comment and reached over to pull the woman's skirt down to cover her exposed body.

    "You shouldn't disturb the evidence Dale," Frank said. "We have to get pictures you know."

    "Yea, and I know you would want to get your copies to take home with you. Damn pervert."

    "She's probably ugly as a stick."

    I gave Frank another dirty look and he wandered off. We continued searching the lab and suddenly heard a noise coming from another room off to the left of the door we had entered through. We cautiously approached the door. It was open just a crack and I peaked inside and saw someone standing in front of a work bench with what I assumed were the three missing heads sitting on it. He had one tipped on its ear and was doing something up inside of it. I motioned for Frank to cover me as I kicked the door the rest of the way open and leveled my gun on the suspect.

    He jumped at the sound of the door crashing back against the wall and spun around to face me.

    "No more sudden moves pal. Hands in the air!" I yelled.

    "Don't shoot! Don't shoot! I can explain everything. It's just that we don't have much time! You must let me continue!"

    The suspect had raised his hands and was looking back and forth between the severed heads and Frank and I. He was dressed in a lab coat just like the bodies in the lab.

    Frank said, "What, you have a few more heads you want to collect? Maybe you want to add ours to the collection?"

    "No, no, you've got it all wrong! I have to finish up here and put these heads back. I only have a few minutes left!"

    The suspect turned back to the severed heads and continued his work.

    Frank and I exchanged glances and Frank rolled his eyes, the universal look when confronting a nut case.

    "One more time buddy. Get your hands in the air and turn around." Frank had taken a step forward and had his piece aimed right at the suspects head.

    It was then that one of the male heads spoke. "Will you let him finish please?"

    Frank jumped back and his gun now alternated between pointing at the suspect and the talking head. My skin crawled at the sound of the talking head and goose bumps broke out on my flesh.

    "What the fuck!" Frank yelled. "What is this shit!"

    Then the woman's heads spoke, "Just let him finish so we can get our heads screwed back on, would you?"

    It was bad enough to see and hear one severed head talking. Now all three talked at the same time. "Leave him alone... Hurry up, my foot itches... I'm hungry... Quit pointing that gun at me... Aren't you through yet... Hey there big fellow, you're kind of cute..."

    "Ok, I'm done," the suspect said. He then loaded the heads on a cart. "Out of my way," He pushed his way between us and went into the lab.

    Frank reached out to stop him but I pulled his arm back. "Hold it Frank. This obviously isn't what we thought it was."

     All three heads stared at us and smiled as the cart rolled past. The woman's head winked at me.

    The suspect stopped next to the male body, grabbed one of the male heads and with the help of an instrument he pulled from his lab coat pocket, reattached the head. The body immediately sat up and looked down at himself. He looked at the suspect and said, "This is not my body. What have you done to me? Why am I being punished? What did I do. I can't..."

    The suspect grabbed the talking head and pushed him back down on the table. "Damn it!" he exclaimed. "It's not my fault! Those two gun wielding ruffians have put me behind schedule." He then used his instrument to remove the head and replaced it with the other male head from the cart.

    Once again, the body sat right up. He brushed himself off and said, "That's better! Thank you. Now I can get back to work." He got up off the table and started working on various tasks in the lab like nothing had happened.

    The suspect repeated the process with the female laying on the next table. She straightened her hair and clothing as she got up off the table. She looked at the suspect and pinched his cheek saying, "Thanks for the upgrade love."

    She spotted Frank and I standing over by the side work room. She made her way over to us and buddy, she was shaking it let me tell you! She reached up to Franks cheek to caress him with her hand as she said in the sexiest voice I had ever heard, "Hey big boy, whatcha doing later tonight?" Frank jumped back as if he had received an electrical shock and rubbed at his face like it was on fire.

    I laughed at him and said, "What's the matter Frank, a little to hot for you?"

    "Sally! Come back over here and lay down!" She gave Frank a friendly little wink and walked back over to the table and laid back down. The suspect appeared to deactivate her as he said, "You're going to need a little more adjustment yet." He took her head back off and placed it on the cart, then, pushed it along in front of him as he left the room.

    We followed close behind. I waved the detective off who was guarding the office where the last body was. The suspect went in and reattached the last head. The man got out of his chair and the suspect sat down. The man in the suit then removed the suspects head and placed it on the cart. He looked up at us and smiled.

    "Ok then, if you would all just take a seat, who's next?"

    It was like a command, not a request. And for some reason we obeyed. Even as I struggled to resist, I found myself sitting down right along side Frank and the other detective. Unable to move a muscle, I watched in horror and confusion as the man in the suit removed the detectives head who had been guarding the office. He then moved to Frank and did the same to him, placing his head on the cart. Now it was my turn.

    "Don't look so confused Dale. You're not supposed to understand. That's why we had the place locked down. You aren't supposed to know. We'll have things back to normal soon. You just see if we don't."

    On the cart, the woman's head opened it's eyes and winked at me as the man in the suit reached for mine...

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The following comments are for "Talk To Me"
by The Hal

Interesting concept
Other than the spacing, I thought this was an interesting piece and the heads talking was done very well. That scene was creepy and funny at the same time.

The only constructive criticism I can give this, is that the ending could be a little stronger. Dare I say, that it might have been one twist too many.

I hope that doesn't come off negatively. I really thought it was a good story and that it was well written. I enjoyed it alot. But if there is one area it could be improved upon, I would definately say that would be the ending.

Always a pleasure Hal,


( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: February 17, 2002 )

Not at all
Just not sure what you mean by stronger. DO you mean like resolving it more? Like it ended but wasn't quite finished enough? I had toyed with another ending too btw. One where it would be just a false alarm type of thing with the lab guys being your standard crazy scientists. Seemed to boring though...

( Posted by: The Hal [Member] On: February 19, 2002 )

Well, I liked the whole piece. All of it. But I was just trying to give some feedback that might help you make it better. I just thought that having the cops be "machines" or whatever they were, took away from the story a little for me.

I loved the beginning and middle. I only liked the ending. Like does not equal bad.

I'm trying to be helpful, but for some reason, I think I'm failing badly. I'm sorry. I need a drink.;)


( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: February 20, 2002 )

Nonsense! Really, I took your comments well, I was just uncertain exactly what you meant is all. Quite often, I have alternate endings, and while this one didn't get an alternate ending wrote out, it was considered. I think my subject heading threw you. You said, "I hope that doesn't come off negatively", and my subject response was, ,"No, it doesn't come off negatively at all." or, "Not at all" You see? hehe...

( Posted by: The Hal [Member] On: February 20, 2002 )

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