Black Petals Issue #93 Autumn, 2020

Outnumbered
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Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Justin Alcala: A Horse for Us All-Fiction
Matthew Penwell: Bless Be Him-Fiction
Shiloh Simmons: Coffin Birth-Fiction
John Cox: Don't Teach Cats Latin-Fiction
Ken Hueler: I, Said the Fish-Fiction
R. A. Busby: Not the Man I Married-Fiction
Jude Clee: Notes from a Bathroom Stall-Fiction
M. W. Moriearty: Scarecrows-Fiction
Robert Masterson: Sharper Than She Ever Imagined-Fiction
Michael Steven: The Mirror-Fiction
Kevin Hawthorne: The Song-Fiction
Marlin Bressi: The Man on the Box-Fiction
Terry Riccardi: Winter Hunt-Fiction
Stephen J. Tillman: Angry Tammy-Flash Fiction
Andreas Hort: Pay the Price!-Flash Fiction
Sam Clover: Piety and Parm-Flash Fiction
Deisy Toussaint: Parasite in the Shadows-Flash Fiction
Outnumbered-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Mickey Sloan: Basement Beldam-Poetry
Daniel G. Snethen: Grandmother Screamed-Poetry
Daniel G. Snethen: Pumpkin Tanka-Poetry
Daniel G. Snethen: Yellow Death-Haiku
Theresa C. Gaynord: The JuJu Man-Poetry
Theresa C. Gaynord: The Widow Paris-Poetry
Theresa C. Gaynord: Funeral at the Louisiana Bayou-Poetry
Theresa C. Gaynord: The Old Hag-Poetry
Loris John Fazio: Halloween Prayer-Poetry
Marilyn Lou Berry: My Darling, My Sustenance-Poetry
Chris Collins: Nature-Poetry

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Art by A. F. Knott 2020

OUTNUMBERED

 

by

 

Cindy Rosmus

 

 

          Rudy is back. Months after rotting away on your stoop, he walks again.

          Searching for you.

On Valentine’s Day, delivery guys passed him with roses that stunk so bad, Rudy gagged. But today is Halloween.

          Perfect, his wormy brain thinks. I’ll find her! Einstein loves Halloween.

          “Einstein,” he called you, ‘cos you were smart. Knew lots of big words. Made tough shit seem easy.

          “‘Einstein,’” he said, looking up from the Want Ads. “What’s ‘col-la . . . col-labor-’”

          “’Collaborate?’” you said. “Means to work with others, you know, like equals.”

          Smiling, he took off his shades. “Man. Why couldn’t they say it like you?”

          All your life, you loved Halloween: trick-or-treating, candy. As a kid, you wore “fat” costumes. Once, in the long, fairy princess gown, some mean kid tripped you. Screaming, your mom dragged you home, your knees bleeding all the way.

          And you love creepy movies: INSIDIOUS, THE RING, SAW. Whoever thought…

          Rudy could out-creep even them.

          How he materialized from zombie ooze is a mystery. But Halloween’s the time for zombie ooze, and unsolvable mysteries. He walks residential streets, without feeling fallen leaves beneath him. Without feeling his toes break off.

          Einstein, he thinks.

Rudy, you think, as he walks again. I miss you so much!

His fancy, beat-up clothes. Those Blues Brothers shades. Last Halloween, you had a party. Everyone but Rudy wore a costume. “Who’re you?” one friend asked him. “Jake, or Elwood?”

Around him, some trick-or-treaters wear zombie costumes so gruesome, he might’ve screamed, in life. Walking with these teenagers, he feels almost at home. But, at the same time, outnumbered.

Maggots protruding from one teen’s face make Rudy draw closer. But they’re only grains of rice.

 

His bloodshot eyes meet Rudy’s. Nauseated, his cheeks puff up, as he runs and pukes in the street.

“Asshole!” His friends laugh. “Next time, drink after, not before!”

“Hey!” a guy about seventy yells from his porch, “Ain’t you too old to be trick-or-treatin’?”

The teens hoot, but the guy’s eyeing Rudy. Whose ear falls off.

“Sweet!” one kid says.

“Oh, my God!” the guy’s wife screams, from behind him.

“I’m not . . .” Rudy’s words feel clogged with dirt. “Trick or treat. . .”

Einstein!, he thinks. Where are you?

“Have you seen . . .” he says, the words a putrid mess that shoots onto that porch.

The couple keels over. Teens break up, around Rudy. Smaller kids run away, screeching.

But his heart, or what’s left of it, is not putrid. It’s pure and still yours, if you want it.

Rudy, you think, why did you disappear? Applying Halloween makeup that you cry right off. Where did you go?

On his way to your block, his other ear, and nose fall off. But he could never smell good, anyway. Or see. Shades kept the blinding sun from searing his eyes. Now the sockets are empty . . . almost. Worms crawl out and feed on his rotting cheeks.

Before, he’d felt outnumbered, in that gang of costumed teens. Now, he’s alone. In the abandoned streets are plastic pumpkins, their contents spilling out.

As his face is eaten, his shades topple to the ground, crunch beneath his toeless feet.

In your building, the landlord banned trick-or-treating ‘cos he hates kids.

Still, you’re out on the stoop, with a bag of candy. The same stoop Rudy turned to maggot soup on, back on V-Day.

After several tries, your eye makeup was perfect: thick, feline-looking; your penciled whiskers comical. On your headband are small cat ears.

No kids come, but you stay outside.

In the distance, someone shuffles along. Bigger than a kid, maybe a teen. Even from that far, the costume repulses you. . . .

A faceless head, with maggots swarming over the body.

It’s getting closer.

You get up, but your feet are frozen. Something keeps you from running away.

Something you’ve been missing so bad.

What’s left of its tattered clothes looks familiar.

Rudy, you think. But it can’t be!

As the thing collapses, you hurry inside.

From the ground, what’s left of Rudy tries calling, once more: “Ein-”

Before he succumbs to the worms. Once again . . .

Outnumbered.





Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out 5-6 days a week, so needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she wants. She’s been published in the usual places, such as Shotgun Honey, Hardboiled, A Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter, Mysterical-E, Dark Dossier, and Twisted Sister. She is the editor/art director of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights advocate.




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