Jennie heard them pounding on the front door. "Sid," she said. "They're here.""I'll be up soon," he called from the basement.

The pounding stopped for a moment. "We've got a new drill," someone shouted. The pounding started again.

"All right, all right," Sid hollered up.

"Come on," Jennie called. "We've got that last house payment to make and ..."

"Like it?" Sid said stepping into the kitchen.

"Oh. You think that will work?"

"Well, I heard them say that they've got new drills, but this should do the job." He was wearing a modified helmet from the museum raid. It was bronze, so heavy he could barely keep his head up, even without the modifications. He was wearing a neck brace. Pointing out around the helmet like frizzy hair, were dozens of springs, epoxied to the bronze.

"I wondered why you'd bought up all those pens," Jennie said.

Resting on the springs was a ball of clear plastic, nearly surrounding his whole head. "As soon as they start drilling, it'll just bounce them back."

"I wish we'd thought of that last time, then you wouldn't have those silly wounds and those odd higher function losses you've been experiencing."

"Yeah, but how were we to know?"
The pounding escalated. "Come on people. We're on a schedule out here."

"Coming," Sid called. "Sheesh, tell me again how much this one is worth?"

"Six months of the mortgage. In one hit. Then we're clear."

"I never thought we'd get this desperate." He wobbled along the hallway and opened the front door.

"Good evening," the foremost of three black-clad men said, staring at Sid's helmet. "We are from 'Penny for Your-'"

"I know where you're from. Let's get on with this."

"Make sure you get the check," Jennie called from the kitchen.

"We have your money." The last member of the group was hauling their clanking machine up the walk.

"Before they start drilling," Jennie called.

"You heard her," Sid said.

"Of course, of course." The lead member pulled out a billfold and slipped the check over to Sid.
Sid checked the amount, then put it on the hall table. "Okay, we're all set." He stepped out onto the porch. "Where's your gurney?"

"Oh," the head man said. "As I mentioned, we have new drills." He picked up the heavy tool from the top of the machine. Cables and wires dangled back.

"Where's the bit?"

A murmur of quiet laughter went around the group.

Sid stared at the blue and black unit. He was used to the machine that was like a cross between a dentist's implement and something from Home Depot. Rather than a Black and Decker tool, this looked like a retro-device invented by a movie props team. It gleamed with chrome and bright plastic coils. There were glowing indicator lights and circular gauges with thin red needles.

"No bit," the leader said. He lifted the apparatus. The tip began glowing and the box whined with a growing intensity.

"This is bad," Sid said.

"Nothing more than you agreed to. This is your final extraction anyway."

"The Perspex headgear is a nice touch," one of the others said. The rest laughed.

"Brings out his eyes," another said.

"We're fully charged," the one standing by the machine said. "Anytime you like and we can do a full drain."

The leader smiled. "It was nice to meet you, Sid." He lifted the tool up to Sid's forehead. "Most people are imaginative for the last visit, but I've got to say, you're one of the most intriguing I've met." He put his finger on the button.

"Wait!" the one at the machine said.

A bolt of green lightning leapt from the point of the tool. The lightning connected with the Perspex and skittered around, dividing into myriad sparks as if it was a horde of bugs. The springs glowed for a moment, then the lightning recondensed and jumped back across to the drill and along the shuddering cables. The machine exploded.

"He's got a brass helmet," the one who'd called 'wait' said. They all stood staring at their broken and smoking machine.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I tried."

They hauled the machine back to their van.

"So," Jennie said coming up to the door. "I guess it worked."

"And you doubted me," Sid said, lifting the helmet off.

Jennie smiled, holding the check. "Not for a moment."

"Bored Out of My Skull"
Copyright: © 2010 Sean Monaghan
Sean Monaghan’s thoughts are often extracted after dark by unknown entities while he sleeps and when he awakes he finds them transcribed into stories. Sean’s transcriptions have appeared before in The New Flesh Magazine and also in Flashes in the Dark and 365Tomorrows, amongst others. More information at his website


  1. Hey Sean,

    This is Hilarious and awful at the send time. Awful in the sense what people are willing to gamble as experimental guinea pigs. Ouch! Funny about the pens. I haven't read your work in awhile,so it was a treat to read this.

  2. Thanks Jodi. I do remember meeting a guy who was doing pill trials. Very scary.

  3. This is way far-out. It's got that wonderfully odd steampunk feel to it. Too cool, Sean.

  4. Thanks Angel - steam~ and dieselpunk is definitely a direction I'm heading. Cheers