The Trials & Tribulations of Mrs. Whale Head



Fifth Estate # 401, Summer 2018

During Whale Head’s sleep, her organs grew very impatient and bored since they had become hyper intelligent. In order to amuse themselves, they read all the books in a twenty-seven-mile radius by spatial osmosis, and also managed to solve the paradox of the radial ostrich, which had been plaguing the King’s court philosophers for many decades now.

Around three in the morning, the right lung climbed out of her ear and squish-squashed off down the road to tell the King the wonderful news.

Whale Head woke around eight, feeling very rested and content. She sat down for a delightful breakfast, but midway through it she heard a loud knock on the door. She opened it, and standing before her was the King’s Feet Man. The Feet Man brought together his two feet and with them silently mouthed these words:

“Greetings, illustrious and worthwhile maiden. My King demands, um, requests your presence in the castle immediately.”

Whale head was most definitely put off by the Feet Man’s impertinent tone, but decided that she had really better go along with him, and together they headed off towards the castle.

Now, the King of this land was a rather disagreeable fellow, as are all Kings. He was in the unique habit of boiling and eating all of the three-legged children born in his kingdom. This was because one of his court philosophers erroneously believed that three-legged children contained a variety of medicinal and healing properties, and had informed the King of his discovery. It had been an endless massacre at court ever since.

In any case, when Whale Head arrived at the throne room the King reluctantly welcomed her, motioning for her to sit down on a nearby cushion.

“So, tell me all about it. How did an ugly old spinster such as yourself solve the radial ostrich paradox?” asked the King, as he suckled on the pickled toes of an infant.

Whale Head, having no remembrance of any such event, merely said, “Excuse me?”

“You know, the old paradox. A messenger came this morning to tell me the news. Your right lung, I think. Out with it, hag, or I shall throw you down the garbage chute,” said the King.

“Hmph, how very rude. I’ve had quite enough of gods and masters, thank you,” said Whale Head, and she kicked the King’s smug head clean off his shoulders. It bounced off a few of the throne room’s walls, eventually landing in the floating pigeon bowl. She then tore off her red cotton dress and swung it over her head in triumph.

The castle guards and holy men came rushing towards old Whale Head with drawn swords and stern reproaches, but she merely recited the exact permutations of the universal calculi, causing them to disappear in a puff of incomprehension. In their places stood a myriad of chickens, frogs, kiwis, and other kindly animal folk.

Afterwards, she traveled down to the dungeon and released all three thousand and thirteen of the three-legged children the King had gathered over the years. In order to prevent any further Kingship-ing, they hired a local giant to squish the castle between his toes, and everyone went off on their merry way.

Whale Head spent the rest of her days in her cabin on the outskirts of the town, writing various philosophical and scientific tracts and treatises, and generally being very happy and amused with her lot in life. On her one hundred and eleventh birthday, she accidentally stumbled upon the solution for serpentine coil squares, and ascended into the 17th plane of existence where she continues to live to this day as a flattened paper wig.

Steven Cline is a writer and collage artist living in Atlanta. He helps edit the surrealist journal Peculiar Mormyrid.