Dr Lustucru’s wife was not particularly talkative. But he beheaded her anyway, thinking to himself that he could replace her head when he wished for her to speak.

How long had the Doc been crazy? I don’t know. Quite some time, I guess. Don’t worry. He was only a general practitioner.

The beheading was done as cleanly as possible, and briskly tidied up. Afterwards Lustucru set both head and body aside in a bare room that had previously been designated as the nursery. Then he went about his daily business as usual.

The Doc’s wife had been a good woman, so her body remained intact and she did not give off a smell of decay.

After a week or so old Lustucru got around to thinking that he missed his wife. No one to warm his slippers, etc. In the nursery he replaced his wife’s head, but of course it wouldn’t stay on just like that. He reached for a suture kit. No need. The body put its hands up and held the head on at the neck. The wife’s eyes blinked and the wife’s mouth spoke: ‘Do you think there will be another war? After the widespread damage of the Great War it is very unlikely. Do you think there will be another war? After the widespread damage of the Great War it is very unlikely. Do you think…’ And so on.

Disturbed by this, the doctor tried to remove his wife’s head again. But the body was having none of it and hung on pretty grimly. What a mess. He was forced to leave her there, locked in the nursery, asking and answering the same question over and over.

The next night she broke a window and escaped.

Lustucru then understood that he’d been bad to the woman. He lay awake long nights, dreading her return. What got him the most was the idea that her vengeance would be fast, that he would be suddenly dead without a moment in which to understand. With that in mind, he prepared no verbal defences of his behaviour. Eventually his dread reached a peak he could live on. In fact it came to sustain him and it cured him of his craziness, a problem that he had not even known he had. After several months there was no sign of his horror beyond a heartbeat that was slightly faster than normal. His whole life, old Lustucru readied himself to hear from his wife again, to answer to her. But he never did.