Black Petals Issue #74 Winter, 2016

When the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Beyond the Stars-Fiction by Brian McLelland
Doesn't Play Well with Others-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Killkenny Man-Fiction by Charles C. Cole
The Family F.-Fiction by George C. Economou
Masks of Innocence-Fiction by Dr. Mel Waldman
Trim Thought-Fiction by Chris Moylan
When the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
Anticipating Miracles- 3 Poems by Teresa Ann Frazee
Cemetery Haze-3 poems by Michael Keshigian
Seven Horror Haiku-by Denny E. Marshall
Four Zombie Haiku-by Denny E. Marshall
Love Letter (to L. W.)-Poem by Reyhan Qayoom

Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor


When the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead


By A.M. Stickel, Editor


The Second Angel



No one believes me. But I stand by what I saw. Judge for yourself.

I’d boarded the bus at the end of the line, and transferred, en route to the beach. It was nearly full despite the gloomy weather. People take what they can get and make the best of it, especially old beach combers like me.

Out in the unincorporated areas of our county, designated stops are far apart, so drivers make courtesy stops if someone even remotely looks like they’re waiting for the bus. That day was no exception.

For a few seconds the light penetrated the clouds. Sun kissed the wind-tousled golden curls spilling from under the hood of a figure in white sweats seated atop a brown suitcase beside the road. No waving hand or outstretched arm caught the driver’s attention. In fact, she had to back the bus up. The figure unfolded in the slow motion manner of the too-tall, and stepped to the door—the driver didn’t bother kneeling the bus—whoosh! Open.

“C’mon. Get in. Move to the back. Pay when you get off.” Bus drivers rarely made such exceptions!

“That looks heavy.” To my further surprise, the pregnant woman seated beside me rose to offer the nonpaying stranger her seat. Wedged into the right rear window seat over the wheel, and half asleep, I didn’t move fast enough to give her my place. Before I knew it, the brown suitcase was nudging my left leg. Its battered bulk gurgled loudly, distracting me from the painful music exiting earbuds, the one-sided conversations on cell phones from users too rude or lazy to text, and the stench of smokers, garlic-lovers, the unbathed, and winos.

“Thanks!” White Sweats—who sounded male—squeezed in next to me, patting the suitcase as if it were a companion animal. Although my long-limbed co-rider had a spare frame, the seat groaned under him. He smelled of the earthy apple orchard where we’d picked him up.

“How far you goin’?” I asked, hoping it was just into town.

“All the way to the bay,” he said with a smile in his voice. “I don’t plan to stay long, though.”

“Me either,” I said. “It looks like rain. You’ll be on the inbound before you can enjoy your stay.”

“I don’t think so.”

We rode the rest of the route (including another transfer where we both sat in the last row—bouncy but with plenty of leg room), in silence, except for the sloshing suitcase. Is it full of some kind of special protein drink for athletes? Or, more likely, booze?

White Sweats never did pay for his ride or show a pass. He fit the role of a celebrity all the drivers knew or a gangbanger they feared. I didn’t bother keeping up with sports, the crime scene, or even world events: why deal with news that’s always bad, or at least scandalous?


Sand warmed my butt after I’d plunked down to watch the impressive waves. Roaring monsters struggling against invisible tethers, combers flashed white teeth in foamy mouths. I breathed in their salt perfume.

“Aren’t you tired of sitting?” said White Sweats, folding up next to me on his suitcase. I hadn’t noticed his approach, and jumped to my feet. The surf had drowned out the suitcase’s glugs.

Before I could answer, one towering wave sent out an exploratory tongue. Even though it missed us, I gasped and stumbled back, recalling nightmares of massive tsunamis, their hapless victims sucked into the sea.

“If you’re so afraid of the water, why come to the beach?” he taunted over the noisy surf and raucous gulls, which now sounded like a cursers’ convention at Babylon.

I was silent until I recalled, “Revelation says the first dead resurrected will be those claimed by the sea.”

He stood and bent over for the suitcase. “The Bible has quite a lot to say about the sea, doesn’t it, like how, before the End, everything in her has to die?” He patted the suitcase. I shivered and looked up at the clouds.

Then, despite Nature’s din, I was startled by a blaring horn—the Ram’s. My husband had driven our Dodge pickup to the beach to meet me for early dinner on the wharf. I turned to wave at him…

When I turned back, where the suitcase had sat lay a golden sash. He was gone. I shaded my eyes and scanned the watery horizon: no surfers, no sails, only clouded sun. Sunset bloomed blood-red to stain a single set of large footprints that led straight into the thunderous waves.


Inspired by Revelation: Chapter 16, verse 3 and Chapter 20, verse 13a

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