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The Brazen Head Incident 6: A Brazen Escape

“Everyone to the window, quick!” Emerson called out. “We need to climb to Kaylee’s airship. Cyrus, you go first!”

 Cyrus clutched the pillowcase containing the Brazen Head tight to his chest and started out the window but a second later he was wriggling his way back into the burning office. “I can’t,” he said. “It’s one of those twisty rope ladders—that kind you need two hands for—and the pillowcase is too heavy to carry in my teeth.”

 “Cyrus, we need to get out of here, Mr. Underpants will be here any minute,” said Petra. “Give the pillowcase to Sir Sir. He can carry the Head in that big purse he’s carrying.”

 Shoulder bag,” Emerson corrected, “for packing all my ill-gotten gains.”

 “Come on,” said the Squire, swiping the pillowcase from Cyrus and handing it to Emerson. “Let’s get out of here.”

 Without further haste, one by one, the party of bandits began to climb out the window and up the rope ladder to Kaylee’s airship. Only Emerson remained inside the office; trying to force the Head into the bag was proving to be a struggle—and a losing one at that. His bag was already too full of loot to accommodate the mechanical fortune teller.

 “Hey!” he leaned out the window and called up to the others. “I have too much booty. The talking head won’t fit in my shoulder bag.”

 “So?” Malus called down. “Leave some of the other junk you took and make room for it.”

 Other junk?’ Emerson said under his breath as he poked around the inside of the shoulder bag, surveying the other items: three boxes of high-end, luxury cigars; the entire contents of Mr. Underby’s medicine cabinet, a dozen top secret files—it all looked so fun. How could he bear to part with any of it?

“I know!” Emerson leaned out the window and looked up. Everyone else was securely onboard the airship, looking back at him through the open hatch. “I’ll throw the Head up to you! It’s not that heavy, especially if I use the pillowcase as a sling.”

“Excellent idea, my friend,” the Count held out his hands. “I was captain of the Rama Jama national rounders team, the Rama Jama Ding Dongs. I will catch the Head for you.”

“Are you kidding me?” Malus looked about to see if he were the only one who realized just how dumb an idea this was. “He has the worst aim of anyone I know.”

“Pshaw,” Count Bologna waved his hand then called down, “You can do it, Knight Crusader, throw me the Head.”

Suddenly Emerson began to second guess himself. He hefted the pillowcase, hesitated, then called up to the Count,  “I’m not sure about this. Now that I weigh it again the head seems a little heavier than I first thought.”

“Don’t be silly, a child could make the throw,” the Count maintained his catcher’s stance. “Come on.”

“Okay, okay, I can do this,” Emerson took a couple of quick puffs to keep the cigar alive then concentrated on the throw. He began to swing the pillowcase back and forth, trying to generate a little momentum—but then he aborted the attempt. “Wait!” he called. “See, now I’m a little worried about the angle going through the window frame. It is a long pillowcase, after-all.”

“THROW IT!” Petra, Cyrus and the Count all called at once.  

“Okay, okay.” Emerson swung the pillowcase once more. But for the roaring snap, crackle pop of the flames consuming the floor and the whoosh of water flooding the walls and the excited shouts from people both above and below, the room was silent.

“Stop, unless an ass wish you to be!” called a somewhat muffled voice. The voice, which could have been either male or female, sounded both stern and melodious; each word so precise and distinct it leant an odd cadence to an already distinct sound.

“What? Who?” Emerson opened the pillowcase and looked inside.

The Brazen Head was looking up at him with unblinking eyes and though they were mechanical in design there was something disturbingly lifelike in their penetrating focus.

“A fool are you, indeed!” the disembodied, mechanical head continued. “In lazy shape are you, is clear to me. Know it to be true; out of breath lacing your boots get you. Fail you shall, if attempting this throw.”

“You are such an unpleasant piece of technology.” Emerson turned his head and blew a plume of purple smoke.. “What makes you so sure I’m going to miss?”

“Forget not—the future, do I see!” Though it was mechanically impossible the Brazen Head appeared to scowl.

“How can you predict the future?” Emerson scoffed. “Once you predict what’s going to happen, people can alter their actions and make you wrong. For example if I had one quatloo in one hand and two quatloos in the other and asked you to predict whether I would give you the one quatloo or the two quatloos I could just do the opposite, or just give you neither—or all of them and then you would be wrong!”

“Yes! Correct are you. Wrong about the future could my vision be!” the Head exclaimed. “If throw me do you not. But, if throw me be your bidding on the ground am I to end up broken, and trouble shall be your reward.”

“What are you talking about, what trouble?” Emerson did nothing to hide the fact that he was feeling more than a little pissed-off at the head for failing to understand simple logic.

“Mr. Underby shall your bane be. Deduce will he that you and your friends this crime did perpetrate. Clues everywhere left you all. How handles, Mr. Underby, that knowledge shall depend on whether or not destroy you one of his possessions most valued.”

Emerson had had enough; he was saturated and took no more joy from his smoke. In place of any of the earlier excitement he’d felt for this ancient relic was nothing but loathing.  He swung the pillowcase around and around, sighting the Count’s outstretched arms. With a final heave he launched the Brazen Head out the office window. aiming for the center of Count Bologna’s chest. Emerson smiled upon release. He knew as soon as he made it it was  the perfect shot.

The throw was there and the Count made the catch. “WELL DONE!” my friend WELL DONE!” He called down.

“In your face, Head!” Emerson called up. “You were WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!”

“Might I ask the man vandalizing and robbing my office who he is taunting?” a deep and stern voice caught Emerson off guard. He spun to see the tall figure of Mr. Underby, standing in the doorway, the flames and billowing smoke partially obscured him from view.

“Um,” Emerson hesitated, wondering if he could pull off a convincing Scottish brogue.

Um—WHAT?”  Mr. Underby demanded. “Wait, nevermind. I would rather know the identity of the party responsible for this—” Mr. Underby gestured about the burning and flooded room.

“That I cannot say, they got away,” said Emerson coming up with a plan on the fly. “However, think how bad it would have been had they not been thwarted by the Knight Crusader and the Blue Blood Avenger!”

“Please” Mr. Underby held up his hand in a manner that left little doubt he was most annoyed.

“No, really, I’m telling the truth, we arrived just ten minutes after your secretary, Miss Fanny Buxombottom, put in a desperate call for assistance. She is lucky we were on alert, the security guards were in dereliction because no one else showed up.”

“The security officers had been drugged,” said Mr. Underby. “Some sort of narcotic infused into a bottle of whiskey labeled Prince Thomas Royal Reserve.”

Dammit, that must have been the Squire’s doing!Emerson cursed under his breath.

A loud popping and cracking, like fireworks, sounded from the floor directly beneath Mr. Underby’s desk. Emerson took the distraction as his time for a stealthy escape—but he was the Knight Crusader and the Knight Crusader departs the scene with both stealth and self-aggrandizing charm. “Farewell, fair politician. Not to worry.” He called out with a wink and a wave. “The Knight Crusader and the Blue Blood Avenger will track down the heinous criminals responsible for this wanton destruction.” Emerson turned and began to climb up the ladder.

The smoke, freely flowing from the windows of city hall, did nothing to make the climb any easier—and, unfortunately, the climb required a little more strenuous effort than he was comfortable supplying. About half way up, and much to his chagrin, he spat out the Sagrada Lucia. ‘That damn talking head was right, this is a tough climb,’ he muttered. Another concerted effort and he reached the top where he was helped aboard by the Count and the Squire.

“Make sure everything is locked down—yourselves included!,” Kaylee called from the cockpit as soon as she saw that Emerson was safely aboard. “I’m about to bank it sharp to get outta here quicker. Fire’s starting to send out flankers. I can’t risk being this close any longer.” She had hardly finished calling out her warning, when she engaged the maneuver.

“Wait!” Cyrus called out. “Who is holding the Head!” But his cry came too late. Kaylee had already started to bank.

“The hatch is still open!” Petra pointed. “We left the head just sitting there.”

The Count made a near heroic attempt to grab the pillowcase containing the Brazen Head as it began to slide toward the open hatch; in fact, he actually caught the linen by the corner—but just the corner. The Brazen Head slipped out of its protective pillowcase, tumbled across the floor and right on out the open hatch.


A New Year’s morning snow dusted Abney Parkway, where Mr. Underby stood apart from a large crowd with his secretary, Miss Buxombottom. City Hall had been evacuated for safety precautions while engineers assessed the degree of damage. ‘It’s possible those two fools condemned the building,’ Mr. Underby muttered. He reached into a coat pocket and retrieved a sealed envelope. “Miss Buxombottom, I wish to have a message delivered to an individual at the address on this envelope. Do not go there or even think about delivering it personally.”

“Yes, Mr. Underby,” said Miss Buxumbottom, taking the envelope. “Anything else, Mr. Underby.

“Yes,” Mr. Underby replied slowly and thoughtfully. “Fetch me my ride. I wish to pay a little visit to Clockhaven.”


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  1. Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs January 10, 2016

    Rama Jama Ding Dongs.”  That almost made me laugh out loud in church. Well done!

  2. Garnet Psaltery Garnet Psaltery January 10, 2016

    Brilliant and hilarious!

    • Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon January 10, 2016

      More popcorn? *offers a tub of popcorn*

  3. Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse January 13, 2016


    • Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs January 13, 2016

      Oh, dear!  Your beautiful, large… desk!

    • Nyanka Jinx Nyanka Jinx January 13, 2016

      Underby moved to the Gangplank?

      Screw the popcorn, I need a pint of ale!

      – Edward Hyde

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