A Predicament (Poe)

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A Predicament
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman, her poodle, and her servant climbed a cathedral's clock tower, where her head got trapped in the clock's minute hand, eventually severing it from her body.

A woman named Signora Psyche Zenobia went for a walk in the city of Edina with her two companions, a poodle named Diana and a short, elderly man named Pompey.

Signora Psyche Zenobia — narrator; commanding appearance; imaginative, emotional.
Pompey — elderly, corpulent servant; loyal, sensitive.
Diana — small poodle; one-eyed, innocent-looking.

As they strolled through the city, they came across a Gothic cathedral with a tall steeple. Overcome by curiosity, Zenobia decided to climb the steeple to get a better view of the city.

Upon reaching the top, Zenobia discovered that the only way to see the city was through a small square opening in the clock face. She climbed up to the opening and looked out at the city, while Pompey held her up. As she admired the view, she suddenly felt a cold, sharp pressure on the back of her neck. To her horror, she realized that the minute hand of the clock was pressing down on her neck, trapping her head in the opening.

As the minute hand continued to descend, Zenobia's situation grew increasingly dire. Her eyes bulged from their sockets, eventually falling out and rolling down the side of the steeple. Despite her desperate attempts to free herself, the minute hand continued its relentless progress, eventually severing her head from her body.

I was not sorry to see the head which had occasioned me so much embarrassment at length make a final separation from my body.

In the aftermath of this gruesome event, Zenobia's head and body experienced a strange sense of disconnection and confusion. Her head, now lying in the street below, spoke to her body, expressing astonishment that she would want to remain alive in such a state. Meanwhile, Pompey fled the scene in terror, and Zenobia's beloved poodle Diana was revealed to have been devoured by a rat. With her companions gone and her body in pieces, Zenobia was left to contemplate the tragic consequences of her curiosity.