Head Half-Full

Zadam had predicted Armageddon. The whole village was now scared and shunned him.

For a while he had been the most popular person in Lucerne. Citizens lauded his demolishing of politicians’ bullshit at the town hall meeting, and liked the way their pets frolicked around him, as if he were a forest god. But after his humming, spinning, sparking display in the park, and his prophecies of global doom, they avoided him.

This didn’t seem to bother Zadam. As a deformed man with upside-down head, he was used to social rejection. His only real friend in the village, Shama, still dropped by and encouraged him to go out.

“Why should I?” Zadam asked him.

“Because it is nice to go walking – you get fresh air and exercise. I know there are people who make you feel uncomfortable. Just ignore them. While I am with you, they won’t come close.”

For the first time since he had met him, Shama saw a tear appear in Zadam’s eye. Because his eyes were near his chin, the tear appeared, rolled down, and disappeared quickly. “What is wrong?” asked Shama.

“Nothing at all,” he said and turned away. Then he turned back. “I am nothing at all to most people. I am someone creepy and disgusting. That’s why I hide in this hood.” He stopped speaking and looked down.

Zadam was a grown man. Shama didn’t know what to do. Should he hug him? Would that be too invasive?

Shama did what came naturally. He wiped the next tear, and held Zadam in his arms. He kissed him on the forehead, like a kid brother. It seemed a little strange because his forehead was placed where you would expect his mouth to be.

Zadam began venturing out again “by his own,” but whenever Shama saw him he was not alone. People walked beside him, quizzing him about his apocalyptic prophecy that the world was unbalanced and about to break, or following him quietly, reverentially. They felt sorry for him, and scared, and wanted to show they supported him.

A local holy man, Ozwald Malchizedek, also known as OM, declared that Zadam was divinely inspired. He said, “There was the first man, Adam, and now the last man, Zadam. These are clear signs for believers.”

He tried to be seen walking ahead of Zadam, but Zadam was unpredictable and stopped and started without warning. Eventually OM began following a few paces behind, telling people that Zadam was the herald for a forthcoming Master, not saying, but implying, himself.

Shama saw Zadam across the railway tracks, like when they had first met. The red lights began flashing, bells ringing, and barriers falling. These stimuli were picked up by sensors, converted into signals, collated by receptors, and interpreted by cells. What to make of this sensory overload? It indicated there was a train approaching.

Similarly, how should Shama react to Zadam’s warnings of global disaster? He asked him after the train had passed, on the railway tracks.

He said, “It is up to you. It is all going to happen one day, today, Saturday, who knows? But I am a head half-full kind of guy. We can have lots of fun before then.”

Zadam pulled out a whistle from his coat pocket and blew it from the mouth at the centre of his forehead. He led the crowd following him along the railway tracks.

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