The bizarre story follows a female narrator, Signora Psyche Zenobia. While walking through "the goodly city of Edina" with her 5-inch-tall (130 mm) poodle and her 3-foot-tall (0.91 m) black servant, Pompey, she is drawn to a large Gothic cathedral. At the steeple, Zenobia sees a small opening she wishes to look through. Standing on Pompey's shoulders, she pushes her head through the opening, realizing she is in the face of a giant clock.
As she gazes out at the city beyond, she soon finds that the sharp minute hand has begun to dig into her neck. Slowly, the minute hand decapitates her. At one point, pressure against her neck causes her eye to fall and roll down into the gutter and then to the street below. Her other eye follows thereafter. Finally, the clock has fully severed her head from her body. She does not express despair and is, in fact, glad to be rid of it.
For a moment, she wonders which is the real Zenobia: her headless body or her severed head. The head then gives a heroic speech which Zenobia's body cannot hear because it has no ears. Her narration continues without her head, as she is now able to step down from her predicament. In fear Pompey runs off, and Zenobia sees that a rat has eaten her poodle.