By Edele Winnie
Sheila’s dead aunt had made a pile of tin cans in Sheila’s kitchen. The horrible shrunken head had respawned there and then rolled out smiling its sickly yellow gray smile.
“Wassup?” The head said. “I’m thirsty.”
Auntie turned to Sheila. “Do you have any Lime drinks?”
‘Something lime. He likes limes.”
“Not lemons.” The head shrieked. “I hate lemons!”
“No.” Sheila stammered. “No limes, sorry.”
Auntie turned and walked to the front door and went out. Apparently to get something lime.
“I think I’m losing my mind.” Sheila grumbled.
“Better than losing your body.” The head said and then cackled delightedly.
“Wait.” The head ordered when Sheila began to walk out of the kitchen. “I can make you live forever.”
“I’d like that.” She answered, and forced herself to look at the thing. It was shrivelled and brown but its eyes were bright and alive and staring back at her. She went over to her big flour bin- a plastic container only a third full of flour at the moment. She snapped off the lid and dumped the flour into the garbage can.
“Wassup?” the head said.
With a quick movement she scooped the foul head into the container and snapped the lid on. The head began to shriek and bounce around inside. Sheila grabbed the duct tape and taped the lid down. Then she taped a bunch of silver ware, mostly forks, to weight down the container and ran outside with it. In the back there was an old well from before there was indoor plumbing. The well still had water in it. As the head shrieked and cursed she threw the container into the dark hole and heard it splash into the water.
It was over! Sheila laughed suddenly, surprising herself. But was it really over? Fear gnawed at her and she began to panic, she ran over to the old shed and grabbed everything she could and dragged it over to the well. She tossed down wood and old tools and part of a bicycle- anything to stop the head from getting out- and her aunt from going down.
She sat on the grass and breathed. She hadn’t noticed that she’d been out of breath. Her aunt. She was going to have to kill her. Her aunt would save the head or summon it again. But her aunt was already dead though, wasn’t she? Or had she recovered and been released from the hospital? Sheila’s head was spinning- it was like she was trapped in a bizarre nightmare. For a moment she thought she could hear the head screaming from the well, but no, there was no sound.
Sheila retired to the house and extracted the big butcher knife from the silverware drawer in the kitchen. She sat down to wait, and to talk herself into it. There seemed no other way.
It was dark when she opened her eyes. Her aunt was pounding on the front door.
“I have the lime.” She was shouting. “It’s lime time!”
Sheila hesitated. This was going to be harder than she had thought. Her aunt now was a strange thing- skinny, crazed, a zombie really. And totally devoted to the head. The repulsive thought of the rotten little head helped to steel her resolve. She gripped the knife tightly and went to the door.
Her Aunt was angry when she opened it, impatient old thing. That made Sheila angry too so she wasted no time in plunging the big butcher knife into her aunt’s chest. She’d expected the old woman to shriek but she just stared dumbly at the blade. There was no blood. It came to Sheila then that her aunt’s heart probably wasn’t even beating. She pulled the knife out as the old woman grabbed at it. Sheila grabbed the old woman’s hair, intending to saw at her throat- she had to get her head off- but the hair in her hand just let go from the old woman’s head. Auntie began to hit at her now, using the big plastic bottle of pop in her hands as a weapon. Sheila tried to protect her face with her forearms and the knife, and the plastic bottle was accidentally punctured. Fizzy sweet soda spewed all over as the bottle drained. Auntie stopped her attack at once.
“Oh no, oh no.” The old woman wailed, and tried to staunch the flow of pop with her boney hands.
Sheila stopped her attack and a pang of revulsion for herself and what she was doing crashed over her like a huge ocean wave. She thought of the head, and of her aunt climbing down the well to get it and renewed her attack. It was all too easy to grab the old woman while she cradled the plastic pop bottle. Her head came off easily too, the sharp butcher knife slicing eagerly through the frail neck and spine.
And then it was done. The plastic pop bottle fell from her Aunt’s limp hands and rolled off the porch, leaving a final trail of fizzing soda. The old woman’s body slumped and fell to the porch. Sheila let go of the head and it thumped down and rolled a little too. There was no blood. Sheila realized she was breathing heavily.
Auntie’s head shifted slightly. Then her eyes opened and searched around until they found Sheila. “He wants something lime.” She rasped.
Sheila lost it. She kicked her aunt’s head like it was a soccer ball. Then she dragged the old woman’s body to the metal drum behind the house. At some point it had been used to burn garbage. Sheila stuffed the old woman’s body into the drum and piled some wood around it. Then she grabbed a green garbage bag and went bag for Auntie’s head.
“You stop this right now.” Auntie’s head ordered as Sheila gathered it up in the garbage bag. “Take me out of this bag this instant. I will tell your mother!”
“My mother’s dead.” Sheila answered woodenly, and then tossed the bag into the metal drum. She could hear her aunt talking and complaining while she emptied the gas can. She struck a match and there was a whoosh and flames and finally Auntie was quiet.
I’ve killed my aunt, she thought. But another idea fought its way to the front of her mind- a thought that said her aunt had not been alive. That the head in the well was not a living thing either. And that the world didn’t make sense anymore.
She staggered back to the house. For a moment she considered burning it down, but her hands were shaking so much she could not have lit a match. She felt like she was losing her mind. In the end she ended up doing the same thing her aunt had done- walked to the small town nearby. She hadn’t trusted herself to drive. The walk was longer than she thought and not a single car passed her on the dark road.
The sun was just rising as she came to the first streets and buildings. Everyone was still asleep and it seemed to her that perhaps she was the only one left on earth. Maybe she had imagined everyone else, and all of this, all of the crazy things that had happened had just been delusions from her own imagination.
Then birds started singing, celebrating the morning. She heard a dog bark and it made her cry. She wasn’t alone. The world did exist. Soon she saw cats prowling, heard morning TVs and saw a raccoon fishing in a blue recycle box at the side of the road. The furry little guy ran off as she walked by. The cans and bottles were still clinking as she passed and she looked down and there was the dark head in amongst the cans, the yellow eyes staring out at here.
“Wassup?” the head croaked at her.
She shrank back in horror, tripping on the edge of the sidewalk and falling into the wet grass. The box rattled again and she pulled herself up and began to run. She didn’t know where she was running, just away, away from the blue recycle box and the horrible head.
It was recycle day and the streets were lined with blue boxes overflowing with cans and bottles. They all rattled as she passed them and when she stopped to look at one she found her aunt’s head inside.
“He wants something lime.” The shrivelled mouth said and frowned at her.
She ran until she collapsed on someone’s front lawn. A nearby recycle box rattled.
“Wassup?” A voice from inside the box called out to her.
There was no getting away then. No escape, no freedom, no future. It was all real and grim reality was her only companion. She began the long walk back to her country house. A passing car slowed to offer her a lift but she waved it on. There was no help for her.
She understood what she had to do. She did not hesitate when she got home. The cans her aunt had opened were still there and she piled them into the living room. It would be the can room. She went to the kitchen and started opening and emptying more. She would get some mousetraps and set them on the floors as a barrier.
She peaked in when she heard the cans clinking. The dark head rolled out, smiled at her. Another head followed- her aunt’s head, shrivelled and grimacing.
“I know,” she said to the pair, “he wants something lime.”
Auntie’s head rolled as if nodding. “And I’d like some herbal tea, sweetie, with honey.”