Black Petals Issue #73 Fall, 2015

Safe Haven, Part II

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Journey Starts with a Flower-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Cold Surprise-Fiction by Paul Strickland
Final Run_Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
Gift of the Anasazi-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Killer Deal-Fiction by Denny Marshall
Please Remember Me-Fiction by Charles C. Cole
Safe Haven, Part I-Fiction by Denis Bushlatov
Safe Haven, Part II-Fiction by Denis Bushtalov
The City-Fiction by Wayne Haroutunian
The Witch and the Rock-Fiction by Janet C. Ro
Roadside Accident-2 poems by Denny Marshall
Journey to the Devil's Shore-Poem by Grant Tarbard

Safe Haven, Part II-Fiction by Denis Bushtalov


Safe Haven, Part 2


By Denis Bushlatov


An all-expenses-paid outing into terror

The stocky clerk emerged from behind the shabby reception desk and offered Avdeyev his plump hand. Avdeyev, who wished he’d never touched the lobby literature, let alone the man’s hand, reddened in embarrassment.

“Lampreyin, Anton Pavlovich—almost like Chekhov, know...Lampreyin. Well, you understand.”

“Avdeyev, Vladimir Stepanovich.” Why does the boss think his Polish colleagues would tolerate this dump? Trying not to show his dismay, the writer shook Lampreyin’s outstretched hand, “but how did you...”

“It has already been done, Vladimir Stepanovich!” Lampreyin began waving his hands. “Your employer, Proskurnya, sent for a reservation a week ago, and made a credit card payment.”

“Reservation?” Avdeyev, as a lowly minion, should have felt honored, but felt queasy. “Excuse me, but...”

“That’s what he said, our Proskurnya,” blurted Lampreyin, “a week past! By phone! ‘If my colleague has any questions, help him out with brandy. Show him the suites, inform him in detail, and then he will report to me.’ That’s what he said.”

“But then... I mean…I thought...” objected Avdeyev.

“Well, think about it, Vladimir Stepanovich. This will take twenty minutes tops. I’ve known your chief since we were schoolboys. I remember how we sneaked pancakes into gymnastics class, and our headmaster, who was very strict… But that’s beside the point.” Lampreyin shook his head and dandruff powdered his shoulders. “In any case, your task won’t really be bothersome. Look over the rooms, go down to the kitchen, taste our cooking, and confirm that the level of service measures up to expectations of your distinguished guests.”

“I’ll...just make a call.”

Avdeyev dug into his pocket, but, as soon as he brought out the phone, Lampreyin leapt away from him, saying, “That’s not how we do it here; we don’t even get a signal. We’re used to doing it the old way!”

Avdeyev, feeling completely lost, activated his phone and, selecting his chief editor from ‘Contacts’, pressed the ‘Call’ button. The phone was silent. There was neither the conventional sound of connection, nor a polite operator, nor short beeps. In the buzzing silence, Avdeyev thought he heard hissing on the other end.

He shrugged helplessly and put the phone back in his pocket. “You know what?” he said carefully, “You should have a...uh, land-line.” For some reason he suddenly added, “I’ll pay for the call.”

Lampreyin snickered unpleasantly. “It’s been broken for about two months now. Don’t even think about it. I can see that you’re weary of travelling. Let me get you some brandy.” He winked lecherously, “Perhaps then life will shine in new colors!”

Growing chatty, he took Avdeyev by the elbow and pulled him to a staircase. “Let me tell you what we are going to do: we’ll go up to the second floor, where you will inspect the lodgings. Then we will stroll down to the kitchen, where you can admire the skills of our cooks. Do not disdain a piece of this…a piece of that and, in the meanwhile, I’ll warm us some tumblers, slice a we can, you know, like back in good times!”

Avdeyev, stupefied, listened to Lampreyin’s blabbering, only partially catching the meaning of phrases. He couldn’t help but feel surrounded by surreality. To top it all off, there was some innate inaccuracy in Lampreyin’s words, a small detail that did not quite fit into the overall picture. He tried to focus on it, but to accomplish that he had to stop. Lampreyin, clasping his hand, was not about to slow down.

“Hold on!” Avdeyev collected himself and pulled out his hand. “Listen to me!”

Lampreyin stopped and turned to Avdeyev with a look of a real astonishment and even a touch of regret on his face. He raised one eyebrow, and imploringly leaned his body towards Avdeyev.

“I do not think that our clients will appreciate,” muttered Avdeyev trying to look over and to the left of Lampreyin. “It is…in a sense…dusty, and…oh, yes… He heard his voice, as if from a distance, rise up to a near-shriek. “Those odd, almost obscene magazines in your lobby—just what are they about?”

Lampreyin took a few small chicken steps, quickly covering the distance between them, and whispered, “They’re not important, Vladimir Stepanovich. Don’t mind them. We’ll clean up everything…and besides, your chief HIMSELF, PERSONALLY.... Just look at the rooms. The hall dust is nothing we can’t fix with mops. You know, oh-so-much, how we desire to bring it up to your standards.” He shook his clenched fists over his head and unexpectedly dropped down to his knees in front of Avdeyev.

“I beg you!” he wailed, clutching Avdeyev’s legs. “I have CHILDREN to feed!”

Avdeyev moaned in confusion and tried to disengage, to no avail: Lampreyin held on like a leech.

“Don’t ruin me!” Lampreyin whimpered.

“All right, get up. Get up, damn it. It’s all too much!” Avdeyev fought an impulse to sit down and put his arm around Lampreyin’s shoulder. “What the heck. I drove for a long time. Let’s go look at your rooms. Really, what nonsense.

“Exactly!” Lampreyin leapt to his feet, dusted off his wrinkled trousers, and smiled broadly. “Right on the money, Vladimir Stepanovich! Our whole life is complete nonsense. All those magazines? Forget about them. They’re just products of an amateur craft workshop!” He gave a contemptuous hand wave in an indefinite direction and waddled up the stairs.

Avdeyev followed him, automatically noting the abandoned condition of the whole flight of stairs—unwashed steps, dirty cobwebs in the corners, peeling and dirty pink paint on the walls.

What am I doing here? He was really bothered by the mutilated magazines on the table and the little inaccuracy in Lampreyin’s words which he could not quite grasp. It doesn’t matter. Whatever! It makes things even more interesting. Having decided to accept these events as a fun adventure, he experienced a considerable relief.

“To the brim?” he heard. He stared at Lampreyin.

“I say, do you want your brandy glass filled to the brim?”

“, nothing at all. I’m driving.” Avdeyev forced the words out, glancing back. Thinking about it, how had they already reached the second floor? The stairs led up into the center of a narrow dark hallway, on both sides of which there were numerous doors. There was a lingering odor of rotten meat.

“Here we are! Please, follow me.” Lampreyin swayed right, making inviting gestures.

Avdeyev followed him obediently, trying not to breathe. It seemed that the entire floor had gone dead quiet. In the echoing silence Avdeyev could hear his own heart beating and the noisy wheezing of Lampreyin.

“You won’t regret it, Vladimir Stepanovich, believe me,” continued his guide, “This hotel is like a ‘Hilton’! In fact, it is a notch above! Well, here we are!!”

They stopped in front of a narrow door, roller-painted brown. Right in its center, ‘Lux’ was handwritten in black marker.

“Luxation!” shrieked Lampreyin. With a theatrical gesture, he fished out a heavy key from his back pocket and inserted it into the keyhole. The tight lock, creaking, had to be forced open. Obviously, the door hadn’t been opened for a long time.

“We’re going to heat up the sauna, of course. And why not, for distinguished guests?” rasped Lampreyin amiably, while wrestling with the keyhole.

Finally, the door opened with an infernal screech. A carrion stench rolled out of the suite. Lampreyin, like a snake, darted into the doorway, fumbled in the darkness for a few seconds, clicked on a light switch, and the room filled with a yellow light.

“Ta-da!!!” yelled Lampreyin. “Welcome to our humble abode, Vladimir Stepanovich!”

Avdeyev, in a state of deep shock, slowly, on rubber feet, walked through a small doorway and found himself in the room, in the corner of which was a sofa with a caved-in back. Two torn tuffets lay nearby. In the opposite corner, a huge black-and-white television, of domestic manufacture, was standing on a once-polished, wooden nightstand.

In the center of the room was a large rectangular table on four long, thin legs. On the table was a bulging decanter, half full of greenish liquid. A turned-over glass was collecting dust near the decanter. There were also two chairs by the table—a tattered faux-leather desk chair and a wooden one without any upholstery. A swear word in large letters was scratched into the back of the wooden one. The poison-yellow wallpaper was ornamented with small pink flowers. The ceiling with rusty stains was scary.

But the most shocking of all was a huge picture hanging to his left. On a fly-specked canvas was portrayed a naked and tortured old man, sitting on a chair. His right leg was tied to a leg of the chair, and he was stretching out the left one, cut off at the knee. Around him, standing hand in hand and smiling affably, were obese and rosy-cheeked babies, each one twice the size of the old man.

Trying not to show his emotions, Avdeyev turned around and slowly walked out of the suite.

Cheerful Lampreyin was awaiting him in the hallway. Behind him, Avdeyev saw a large man with a fleshy, cruel face in a chef’s hat.

“So, what do you think?” yelped Lampreyin. “First class? Just like in Paris?”

Avdeyev began moving backwards. I have to say something, he thought feverishly, to put his mind at ease, and then, run out—to the car, to the police, to the hospital, and to hell away from here!

A phone rang somewhere far away.

Suddenly, he got it. Before he had time to pull himself together, the words started flying right out of his mouth.

“The phone!” he gasped, backing away faster. “You said it doesn’t work. A cell doesn’t receive any signals, right?”

Lampreyin and his sinister companion remained motionless. The distance between them and Avdeyev decreased bit by bit.

“Of course, Vladimir Stepanovich, that’s what I said,” conceded the receptionist. “Do my words give you any reason for doubt?”

“Of course not!” Now Avdeyev was almost running backwards, “But, pray tell me, how could Proskurnya have called you a week ago?

Lampreyin shrugged. “That’s true—how? Hell knows. However, allow me to explain. You see, your chief editor is not Proskurnya, but Proshrgrnragrnya, and you ought to listen to the true semantics of words, Vladimir Offeringovich! The receptionist stepped aside and his quiet companion rushed forward, moving with inhumanly fast leaps from shadow to shadow.

Avdeyev squealed, turned around, and dashed for the stairs at full speed. He’d almost made it when a huge paw grabbed him by the hair and tore him away from the ground, like a puppy.

“Don’t kill him, Alexey!” heard he, writhing in the air.

With a grunt, the cook threw him headfirst against the wall.

Avdeyev heard a loud crack, and then someone turned off the lights. 


Self-realization dawned out of the darkness. He existed. He breathed. He felt pain and fear. He heard a low growl of voices, and ringing, metallic clanging…and crunching. He was impaired, yet still felt his naked body—crippled, broken, and wet.

He knew he was dying.

Avdeyev tried to move his arms, but they seemed to be glued to a surface. The effort caused severe pain in his forearms. He screamed. Nothing escaped his throat, save a hoarse croak. Losing all control, he thrashed like a man possessed, and felt his torso lift off the rough, wet surface. But his arms stayed in place.

They tied me down, was his first flash of conscious thought. Lampreyin...and that cook-thing tied me down, beat me, and... And what?

Sounds around him harmonized into a hubbub of joyous voices, laughter, clinking wineglasses, and what sounded like a clatter of forks on plates. He tried to open his eyelids. They opened with difficulty…and then immediately closed from the glare. He lay still, and slowly opened his gummy eyes to stare in horror and disbelief at what was only a few meters away from him.

After a while he realized that abhorrent entwinement of claws and tentacles was only a lamp, a clever metallic construction. He was looking up at a low stone ceiling at the center of which was a blinding, profane chandelier.

Avdeyev instinctively tried to cover his eyes and again failed to lift his arms up. He turned his head slowly.

And then he saw them.

He was lying on a long wooden table, stretched out upon the boards. The monsters stood right above him. They were much taller than human beings—fat, slick, anthropomorphic creatures resembling gigantic babies. Their toothy smiles were so wide that it seemed their faces were cut in half. They were drooling.

There were some people next to them. In the bright light of the horrible chandelier, Avdeyev recognized Lampreyin and the gorilla-like cook, who was standing in a corner, holding a cleaver. And a bit further... No, it was a mistake, it couldn’t be!

But it could. Standing to the left of the creatures was his boss, the chief editor of Marine Messenger, in a full suit and tie, arms akimbo—Leonid Petrovich Proskurnya himself.

From behind his back peered Mikhael Nevadovich Scarabich, proofreader (and apparently, cannibal).

Avdeyev felt faint. Moaning, he lunged again, screaming in pain and, looking down, saw himself—naked and nailed to the table with large bolts.

“Would you look at that, our Offeringovich is awake!” squeaked Lampreyin, bowing subserviently. “All ready for our Distinguished Guests!”

“Oh, goody, goody...” gabbled one of the creatures. It licked its lips, revealing a fat rotten tongue, and stared at Avdeyev with dull fish eyes.

“Did he...come by himssself?” rustled the second monster.

“Sure... I mean, yes he did,” reported Lampreyin. “We only showed him the way, direction if you will, but he inspected the room by himself, and was presented with the likeness of the Young Ones, just like he was supposed to have been.” He wiped his forehead.

“I would like to add,” added Scarabich, jumpy with anticipation, “that our Food here was awarded two diplomas, a PhD in Philology, and is my friend!” He sobbed theatrically and wiped his nose. Proskurnya shushed him and Scarabich stared at the floor.

“Comrades!” The chief editor saluted with his right hand. “On this glorious day, on behalf of the Zealots of True Faith Consortium, as well as the editorial board of the ‘Marine Messenger’, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our friends, patrons, and sponsors from the great Empire of Rats, thank them for their tolerance of our mistakes, their patience and infinite kindness, generosity and understanding. We, Olium’s Children, vermin at the feet of the Abiding, your slaves and followers, praise you!” He fell to his knees in front of the monsters.

“Welcome to our table, gentlemen, and bon appétit!” Lampreyin bowed obsequiously.

Wait a minute! squeaked Avdeyev’s inner voice, but the Poles... His practical side overrode it with Devil take them…and the Black Sea Fleet! They’re about to slaughter me like a sheep! He whimpered and collapsed. It is already over.

“GOOOOD!!! VERY GOOOOD!!!” roared the first monster. He snorted and, with one unnatural movement, wormed over to the table. His fat arms gripped Avdeyev’s left hand and easily ripped it off with a sickening crunch. Then he opened his huge black mouth, sent the terrible trophy into the nauseating darkness, and began chewing with gusto, loudly crunching the bones.

Avdeyev felt an unbearable, animal pain. He opened his mouth to scream, just as the second monster slithered up beside him, took him by his handsome jaw and twisted it off, along with a strip of neck-skin.

“In the name of brotherly cooperation between the underground City of Olium and the Lords of Rats!” roared the creature, waving the jaw.

“And the eternal prosperity of our nations!” replied Proskurnya in sync.

The black world, bleak and dismal, was fading into the bloody mist around Avdeyev. He was cold, perceived only indirectly, as if all of this wasn’t really happening to him. He knew that in a moment he’d be dead, bleed out before those abominable creatures could devour his entire body, but it didn’t seem important to him now.

Waves of death were gently rocking him. He shuddered only once, sobbed…and let go, lulled by the waters of the final quiet safe haven.


The End



Denis Bushlatov,, of Ukraine, who wrote BP #73’s “Safe Haven,” has had 2 collections of horror short stories published in Ukraine. They are widely sold within bookstores in Ukraine, Austria, Japan and the U.S.A. and also on the Internet. “Safe Haven” is his first short story translated into English. CONGRATULATIONS, DENIS!

Site Maintained by Fossil Publications