Located on a side street off of the main street of Wisconsin Dells, almost directly across from the Museum of Historic Torture Devices, Douglas Slattery’s House of Magic was a rather fitting place for Halloween festivities. It had a cultivated air of mystery and shadow about it. It was difficult to achieve such an atmosphere on a sunny day when the street was crowded with tourists, but the autumn night lent credibility to the props and less than authentic items that the store contained. Through the store’s display window, a chair could be seen, made of ornately carved wood and covered with rich red velvet. Two swords spanned the gap between the arms of the chair and upon the sharp edges of the swords sat a severed head. Not your normal everyday severed head, either, but one covered with tattoos. So many tattoos that the head was shaved in order to display them all. Nor was this severed head an inanimate prop, but a very active and curious thing that looked back at those who gawked at it through the window. When a couple who were walking past happened to gaze upon the spectacle, the tattooed head opened its mouth and stuck out its forked tongue at them like a snake giving warning. There was a defiance in its eyes, as though hatred was what kept it from the death it deserved. The woman leapt back as the thing’s eyes suddenly met her own and stared a challenge at her. The couple continued on their way. A moment later, several others had gathered outside the window. A sign in the window’s lower left corner read: “Enter if you would dare to see more.” The people soon entered the building.
They entered into a small room with a closed curtain at the far end of it, just in time for the next presentation to begin. The curtain was pulled back by some unseen source, revealing the body of a woman with the glaringly obvious lack of a head. Into the neck poured metal pipes, apparently to bring nutrients to the body in order for it to maintain a semblance of life. Various equipment that looked to belong to a hospital were around the body, one of them showing the vital stats. There were also two clear plastic vats filled with crimson fluids which intermittently bubbled as the fluid was pushed into or out of the body via tubes connected at the woman’s throat. Before long, the pre-recorded voice of an overly-clinical man could be heard through speakers located somewhere in the ceiling of the room: “What we see here is a recent development in health and beauty aids. In front of you is the body of a woman who was evidently born with good genes, but unfortunately without the material means to maximize their potential. She was forced through economic necessity to work in an industrial setting that made use of some rather dangerous heavy machinery. A moment of carelessness on her part resulted in a complete decapitation, the head being damaged beyond the opportunity for reattachment. Fortunately, modern medicine has been able to maintain the life in her body even though she is, sadly, no longer able to hold down a steady job. But her misfortune shall work in the favor of some other woman who is able to afford this magnificent physique. In the future, tummy tucks and other such painful, inconvenient operations will no longer be necessary, as bodies such as this will be available to women who simply do not have the time for exercise. Already, scientists are hard at work, busily trying to replicate the genes that have made this attractive physique uniquely suitable to matching and not rejecting another’s head.
“If one of you would like to step toward the computer screen, we will demonstrate to you that this body, while not technically ‘alive’, is still fully functional.”
At the railing that discouraged the crowd from getting closer to the exhibit was a touch screen with simple commands displayed. One simply had to touch “lift right hand” in order to make the body in front of them obey, if rather awkwardly. Another square had the command “cross legs”. When pushed, the woman’s attractive nylon-clad legs moved in a rather lady-like manner, crossing from one direction to the other. The audience was given the opportunity to press every button, or at least enough to get the point across. Once this was done, the crowd was instructed to exit the door on their left, allowing the room to fill up again with the next crowd of onlookers.