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Wow! It’s 2020, everyone! And here I am, continuing to whine about old-timey racism et al. in a column that no one reads! Well almost no one. I read it sometimes. Not really tho. Anyway, before I start, Illustrious Acquaintance said I should say something about “that-which-shall-not-be-named-which-is-not-fascism” which is happening in my country right now. Obviously, India is a free country with free speech and everything, but I’ve decided not to say anything because I don’t want to get arrested. So I state here in clear, concise terms—I am a good Indian! I fearlessly defend Mother India when American radio shows from the 1940s try to be mean to us! That will not stand on my watch, bro! You can count on me to continue to defend my country and I will do it single-handedly if I have to. I GOT YOUR BACK, FAM!

Just not today tho. Partly because I don’t really feel like it and also because I thought I might listen to something called The Skull That Walked (from Inner Sanctum, 15/04/44). Isn’t that an interesting, non-fascist title? Does it not conjure up an image of a skull with tiny white legs, toddling about in a non-fascist manner doing non-fascist things? Illustrious Acquaintance says it doesn’t mean anything if you keep saying the word “fascist” for no reason. And so, let’s get on with the show, shall we? Fascist. Sorry.

Someone called Sergeant X is saying something which I feel will probably not be that interesting.

I was totally right fam.

What if his name is Sergeant Hex?

“For instance, taking a midnight stroll through a graveyard isn’t exactly your idea of fun, is it?” YOU DON’T KNOW ME OR MY LIFE SERGEANT X. OR HEX MAYBE.

Ok he’s opening a door now where we are about to meet someone whose hobby is horror.

What does that mean actually?

Everyone say hi to Raymond.

Where is Sargent X? Is he not coming in with us?

We have been invited to come in btw.

Ok there’s a body on the floor and a spirit beside it and we can’t see it because you have to see one to be one.

Ok then! Good talk!

After a musical interlude, Raymond is now telling us to turn out the lights and apparently ghosts can only see you in the dark.

I don’t think that’s true but anyway.

So now Raymond is telling a story and the short version of it so far is a guy and his wife are planting trees.

Are we not doing anything about that body on the floor then?

Someone called Speers is looking upset because they are digging on an old Indian burial spot which has a curse on it.

Why don’t things like this happen to white people burial spots? Are they not that interesting? Sorry for my racism.


So the guy who was digging took the shocking stance of not believing in Indians, burial sites or curses. GOOD FOR YOU BRO

Aaaaaaaaand he’s hit something. COULD IT BE THE WALKING SKULL???


Oh come on, you can’t go digging in an old burial ground and be surprised to find a skull.

It’s like when James Deen said you can’t go to poop’s house and be surprised to find poop there. Or something like that.

And just like that, I brought porn and anal sex into this column SAY WOW

That of course is against Indian culture tho and so I say, away with you porn and anal sex! You have no power here! This is India!

Now that I have defeated porn and anal sex from infiltrating my country, we can return to our story.

Speers wants them to put the skull back but the dude, aka Mr. Cruz, wants to keep it.

We also have a brother of Mr. Cruz called Arthur who is getting over a nervous breakdown.

One skull. One nervous breakdown brother. One curse. And the promise of bad luck. These are the ingredients of our story.

Someone just screamed.

That was quick.

The scream sounds like Mary, wife of Speers, who was cleaning the windows.

As in Mary was cleaning the windows.

This is a very confusing story.

It looks like Mary has fallen out of the window.

She’s dead fam, RIP Mary.

So there was apparently only one rock under the window and Mary had to go and hit it.

Why is that funny?

Everyone is being awfully chatty and casual considering someone just fell out of a window and died.

Cue mysterious tapping from ceiling.

The sound is coming from an old bedroom which is now a storeroom which is also where the skull has been kept.

Now the mysterious tapping is playing the song of its people on the bongos.

Actually, it’s something coming down the stairs! Could it be the skull? Walking?


So there was some talking and I think Arthur is leaving.

Mr. Cruz, aka Carl, has decided that the best thing to do right now would be to lock the skull in a closet.

He’s not burying it because essentially it will make him look bad.

Again, in case you forgot, a lady just fell through a window and died.

Speers does not believe a locked door will hold this skull.

His wife just died. Like, a few minutes ago.

Carl just said ‘if the skull wants to break out, it will have to come to me for the key’, which makes me think that Carl doesn’t really understand how breaking out of a place works.

Arthur, who previously said he was leaving, has not left and I think is in his room? And tomorrow Carl is going to take the skull to the police.

Someone’s at the door. Wouldn’t it be so weird if it was the skull? Wow!

Is this what’s just going to keep happening for the rest of the show?

One hour later. Arthur is calmer but he is totally leaving now, I’m not even kidding.

The wife is also going so Carl is like, 'oh ok me and Speers will bury the skull.'

Speers is remarkably calm considering his wife just fell out a window and died.

Fam, the hole in the ground seems to be missing. HOW DO YOU LOSE A HOLE WOW

Speers apparently filled in the hole. Ok then.

The skull does not want to go back into the hole. Or maybe they aren’t throwing it into the hole properly. These things sometimes happen in life.

They are finally successful at putting the skull inside the hole. WELL DONE FELLOWS

So the lady, whose name is Lucille btw, is acting all scared and she’s like skulls that roll by themselves give her a funny feeling so now they are playing cards. Because why not.

The wind has suddenly become very windy.

Arthur thinks he heard a rapping sound.

‘My name is the skull that walked and I’m here to say...’

Someone’s at the door you guys.

It’s nice that the skull knocks, no? Shows good breeding.

I want to commend this skull on its politeness, especially given that no one seems to want it around.

Lucille has come into Speers’ room WITHOUT KNOCKING. Lucille, request you to emulate the skull.

Lucille wants to talk to him but he doesn’t really want to because it’s late and he’s tired.

And also his wife fell out a window and died and everything.

Lucille wants to know if he’s been doing a lot of night work. Seems like an inappropriate question Lucille.

Lucille seems to be implying that Speers dug up the skull himself! Oh wow!

She has a gun fam.

Lucille believes the skull has something to do with Speers’ first wife, who disappeared.


Ok so Speers admits he killed his first wife and that’s her skull and he was just trying to scare everyone so they wouldn’t take the skull to the police.

It is not a safe thing to be Speers’ wife.

Also Lucille wants to chase Arthur away so she can have control over the estate. So she suggests they enter into a cahoots together.

As they are now in the cahoots, they are going to bury the skull together.

The skull seems to be biting Speers’ hand.

Ok Lucille seems to be laughing? And he’s calling her Jane.

Did he just die?

Lucille seems to be laughing still and a doctor has been called and he’s said it's hopeless because she is out of her mind and her hair is white.

Seems racist but ok.

Speers died this morning of fright RIP Speers but also he killed his wife Jane and didn’t seem too bothered about Mary falling out of a window and dying and all that.

Props to the actor playing Lucille who is continuously laughing in the background.

Raymond is suddenly saying he wants the skull as a knocker for the Inner Sanctum door.

Is that it? Wtf?

That seemed like it just went on for hours and hours. And as far as I could see, the skull never actually walked at any time. I mean, it rolled, but that’s hardly the same thing. Life is full of lies and betrayal, you guys. Anyway, until next time, enjoy propaganda responsibly fam! Oh, and RIP, Mary.

Kuzhali Manickavel's collections Things We Found During the Autopsy, Insects Are Just like You and Me except Some of Them Have Wings, and chapbooks The Lucy Temerlin Institute for Broken Shapeshifters Guide to Starving Boys and Eating Sugar, Telling Lies are available from Blaft Publications, Chennai. Her work has also appeared in Granta, Strange Horizons, Agni, Subtropics, Michigan Quarterly Review, and DIAGRAM. She used to blog at She's now at
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