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  • Writer's pictureSarah Jackson


I buried the truth near here, near this bench. In the park, yes; I panicked. 

I know how I must look: a woman unmoored, wild haired, knuckles bleaching. Parents push their prams in a polite arc around me. 

It came into my hands through dubious channels. A crate delivered in secret to my home address, not my office at the university. I laughed to see it swathed in bubble wrap. The Brazen Head, legendary augur of Magnus, Bacon, Bungay, forged in a smoky workshop by alchemists seven centuries ago; now coddled from knocks and scrapes.

I unwrapped that arrogant face, with its aquiline nose, hooded eyes, chin tilted in challenge. Skin dull, green-tinged brass. Alchemical marks starred its throat. Not a sculpture but a vessel, a mechanism to extract knowledge from hell; a brazen tongue to whisper the secrets of demons. 

I spoke the words to wake it. The heavy eyelids scraped open and I gazed into their voids.

“Loqueris?” I asked, my heart pounding. Will you speak?

The metal jaw shifted, groaned, and a voice grated from the ancient deep: “Verum ego loquor.” I speak the truth. “Quaero.” Ask. 

My question – the question – bristled at my lips. It had been coiled in my brain for so long, gorging on my fear. All my research and investigation, all the details I had prized from tight lips and locked archives, the savings I had dribbled into hand after hand to bring the brazen head into my possession, the question prickling under my skin, it had all been to bring this moment into being. I asked my question. 

There was a moment of silence. The eyelids once more sealed the empty eyes and the mouth yawned wide. The brazen head screamed, a terrible, sheering, tearing sound, a blank, relentless, metallic shriek. I clawed at my ears. I thought the noise would shake me apart, shatter my skull. 

“Prohibere! Prohibere!” I cried, but the scream devoured my words. I staggered and fell, half ran, half crawled for the door of my apartment and collapsed through it into the stairwell, slamming it behind me. 

There I sat, shivering, the scream inside muffled to a siren whine, until my neighbour found me. 

“Are you all right, Professor?”

“It’s this noise! Terrible, terrible!” I babbled and he frowned.

“What noise, Professor? What can you hear?”

I believed then that this torment I had released was mine alone; that I alone was cursed with the truth. And I thought I could be rid of it. That night, aching brain bandaged with scarves, hat, earplugs, headphones. I heaved the shuddering head off the table and into a bag, slung it across my back, and carried it here. It shrieked as I stoppered its brass mouth with dirt, blank eyes rolling madly under the ground. As I worked, sweet silence flooded over me, until I threw down my trowel, fell to my knees, and wept. 

If I hadn’t been so sick with sound, so beaten down by that voice from hell, I would have chosen better; picked a spot further from the playground. 

At first, walking past one afternoon, I noticed only a low pulse from the tarmac, a static quality in the air. Then over the weeks that followed I watched as one child, then another, fell ill. Nausea, dizziness, headaches, nosebleeds… A mystery to everyone but me, who had planted the truth under their feet, its silent scream scratching their soft skulls. 

Last night, I stretched myself out on the cool grass under the street lights and failing stars. I pressed myself to the earth and I felt it, a shining tremor, the Brazen Head howling under the ground. An endless scream. 

I resolved to come back tonight, to dig up the metal horror and drive it out to some wild place where no human goes, and entomb it there, even if the journey with that ceaseless noise drove me out of my mind. 

But this morning I found only a hole and a pile of earth beside it. 

I don’t know what to do. I got my answer, and now the truth is loose in the world.


Sarah Jackson's work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Translunar Travelers Lounge, and Electric Spec. She is editor of Inner Worlds magazine. Her website is and you can find her on Mastodon as


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