Cordelia Bright and the Headless Orphans: Chapter Two – Getting to Know the Orphans


The story so far: Cordelia has arrived at the St Justus Home for Headless Orphans. She has met Matron Blessed, who is in charge, and Sister Odium. She now has her first experience of playing with the orphans…

Matron Blessed excused herself. There was always administrative work to be done in the office. Mostly finance and fundraising. That was why she had taken Cordelia on, to be “hands on” with the orphans. “Get to know them dear” she said. “I’ll leave sister Odium to keep an eye and help if you run into any difficulties.”
Unsure of how to proceed, Cordelia knelt on the carpet next to the wooden train set, which one of the little boy orphans was pushing along the track.
She noticed that each of the orphans had a name embroidered onto the breast of their shirt or blouse. The bot pushing the train was called Jeremy. His friend, organising little wooden people on the station platform was Matthew. The two girls playing at feeding a small baby doll were Jemima and Belinda. William and Matilda were building some sort of a house with wooden bricks. It really was an amazing sight, and made all the more strange by the almost complete silence save for the sound of their breathing through those funny little blow holes in the tops of their necks.
Jemima suddenly stood and approached Cordelia, handing her the doll and the bottle. Cordelia was amazed. The child wanted her to join in her game.
“I shouldn’t get too involved with them” came Sister Odium’s voice from the corner. “They aren’t like ordinary children. Imbeciles they are. I’d try and avoid getting fond if I were you. It’s feeding time soon. I’ll make the porridge” and with that, Sister Odium went, leaving a puzzled Cordelia to play nursemaid to a small doll, surrounded by six headless little children.
Half an hour later Sister Odium returned, pushing a trolley which bore a two metal bowls of porridge and some odd, funnel like devices. Cordelia watched as the Sister took a funnel and roughly pushed the small end into one of the apertures in the top of William’s neck. She then spooned some of the porridge into the funnel, and placed another funnel upside down over the top of it. The two funnels fitted snugly together. The Sister then put her lips around the thin end of the second funnel and blew, and in this manner, she fed little William his porridge. “You can do the female ones” she said, indicating the second bowl.
Cordelia was determined not to be as rough as the sister. She nervously took Jemima by the hand and gently stroked the top surface of her neck before inserting the funnel as tenderly as possible. The little orphan never even quivered, but squeezed Cordelia’s hand in a reassuring manner. Cordelia blew on the porridge before spooning it in to ensure that it was not too hot, then put the second funnel into place and blew. She had just turned to spoon more porridge when a spluttering noise came from the child. The funnels flew out of the top of her neck, followed by milky splashes. Jemima began to quiver and shake, she fell to the floor, twitching and jerking. To Cordelia’s horror, the little orphan’s skin appeared to be turning blue… She was choking to death!

What will become of poor little headless Jemima? The only way to find out is by reading the next episode tomorrow!

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