Flash Friday 08/05/2015: Get A Head
June had a long history of upstairs neighbours. With the rest of the apartment block being as quiet as mice, sometimes she had to wonder that she angered someone in a past life, and her punishment would be a stream of upstairs-dwellers who didn’t know the concept of volume control. First it was the CDs, then it was the videogames, and now it was the sound of deep, low thumps coming from the floor above her in the early hours of the morning.
At least this one was going to be easier to confront — while the last two neighbours were adamant to never open the door no matter how hard she knocked, this one had left the door ajar and unlocked, as if inviting her to come in and give them a piece of her mind. June couldn’t pass up on the offer.
She opened the apartment door. “Do you have any idea what you’re doing?” she said. Then she stopped.
She had to blink a few times to make sure she wasn’t still sleepwalking. In the middle of the apartment, looking directly at her, was a knight in shining armour. His body was not facing her, however; this was probably due to the several hydra heads currently snapping at him, the necks sprouting from the bathroom door. “Ah, good, some help. Pick up a sword and help me, wont you?”
A lot of questions were currently entering June’s head. Why was there a knight living above her? Why was there a hydra coming out of the bathroom? More importantly, was the hydra even paying rent? Somewhat out of shock, June found herself walking into the apartment, staring at the mess of swords that laid on the coffee table.
“I-…” June started. “I don’t know how to use a sword.”
“You don’t?” The knight sliced off a hydra’s head. It landed on the floor with a dull thump, joining a small pile of severed look-a-likes. “I mean, all you do is you pick up the side that doesn’t hurt your hands when you hold it, and then you–”
“I know, but I haven’t had any training in using a sword to kill a hydra.”
“Ah.” The knight severed another head. “Do you want the good news, or the bad news?”
“I haven’t either.”
“And what’s the good news?”
“I’m not dead.” The knight dodged a sudden lunge from one of the heads. “Yet.”
“Well…” June picked up one of the smaller swords, the ones that didn’t look like you needed a history in tossing cabers to swing. “I mean, if it works for you, then it’ll work for me.”
“That’s the spirit.” The knight stabbed one of the hydra’s necks as June joined the ranks.
She could already imagine it. The turn-up to work tomorrow, bags under her eyes and her hair like a mess. Her boss would be standing there, tapping his watch as if it were a Morse code machine. He’d ask what her excuse was this time. Oh, she’d say, just a long day yesterday. Had to get the grocery shopping done before she had to resort to eating books. Had to do the laundry. Iron the results, as well. And then there was the fight alongside a knight in shining armour against a mythological beast that dwelled in the toilet at three in the morning. Oh, and the traffic was just dreadful getting here.
“How do you kill these things?” June said.
“Ah, that’s an easy one. They say that hydra’s have a middle head, the immortal one. If you cut that one off, then it’ll be defeated. Oh, and it spits fire, as well.”
“How do we find out which head is the middle one?”
A jet of flame shot out from the bathroom, engulfing the knight. Once it stopped, there was a more surprised-looking knight where the last one stood, his armour still glowing red from the heat.
“Well, you know,” he said, “I’m sure there are ways.”
“Well, we’d better keep fighting before the hydra wears us both down from the fighting. If we run out of steam, there’s no thinking what the hydra would do to this apartment block if it–”
“What in the nine hells is going on in here?” screeched a voice from the front door.
June thought she had seen all the wild beasts for one night, but another one was making itself known. Nobody knew what the old lady’s name was, but they had nicknamed her The Owl, mainly because she could hear the slightest sound made during the night hours and will remind you of them in the morning. Knowing her speed, she must have started walking the moment the first hydra head hit the floor.
But, something told June, her appearance needn’t be a bad thing.
“Oh, good,” June said. “Some help. Pick up a sword and help me, wont you?”
The Owl frowned. “Help you?”
“Yeah. Just grab the end that doesn’t hurt your hand and take a few swings.”
“Hah!” the knight said. “Taught like a professional.”
The Owl looked to the hydra, then to the swords, and then gave a shrug. “Suppose I have some anger to vent,” she admitted.
June smirked as she turned back to take another hydra’s head off. Nothing like a good sword fight against a common evil to bring a community together.
Idea from Ashe Elton Parker. Thanks, Ashe!