Black Petals Issue #75 Spring, 2016

Mars-News, Views and Commentary

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
The Big Well-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Boxlike Object-Fiction by Charles C. Cole
The Enemy of My Enemy-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Virtuality-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Virtuous Reality-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
Walking to Class-Fiction by George Economou
Whispering Ghosts-Fiction by George Economou
Churchyard watcher-Two Poems by Chris Friend
August Nights-3 Poems by Dr. Mel Waldman

Spring, 2016-Chris Friend





Hi there, Martians. Old cold winter has finally grasped the land in her (or is it his?) frozen grip. Time to sit by the hearth and read a good horror story.

It was once customary to hold vigil when someone died to make sure that the dearly departed was not disturbed in their eternal rest. This practice was likely a relic of the ancient belief that if an animal or human passes over a corpse it will re-animate into a vampire or some other type of undead. The belief holds that if some living thing moves over the cadaver, it will snatch just enough life force to return from the dead. The belief is widespread and can be found in many places throughout the world.

From Eastern Europe to China it was considered unlucky for an animal, such as a cat, to jump over the corpse. The most likely culprits are dogs and cats, but birds, bats, and certain insects were also seen as guilty parties in bringing back the dead.

In Romania a black rooster was considered most likely to jump-start the un-life of a corpse. But in the Russian Steppes it wasn’t always a living thing that would create a vampire. In many Russian villages it was believed that to pass a candle over the body would resurrect it as a vampire. (Candlelight was seen as a living force). Wind blowing over the corpse was also seen as dangerous.

In many parts of Europe it was customary to leave windows and doors open as long as the corpse was housed there, so that the person’s soul might escape. But this created the potential that some animal might get in and jump over the corpse. Thus, someone was assigned to stay with the corpse to keep its rest from being disturbed. In most folklore, vampires were usually created from their rest being disturbed or if the corpse was not given a proper burial.

I once heard of a medieval case of an old woman who was suspected of being a witch dying. The villagers quite unceremoniously tossed her dead body into a ditch. Well, at night, she allegedly ran up and down the village streets screaming and pounding on doors. So the townsfolk got together and gathered up the remains. They staked her with a crude stick of wood, and tossed her again into the offensive ditch. This time she rose up, tore the stake out, and used it as a weapon to hit the villagers over the head. After a while the old woman’s ghoulish presence became too much for the villagers, who broke down and gave her a Christian burial. This seems to have done the trick, since her reanimated corpse was never seen again.

And 2016 has already started on a sad note. One of rock music’s most influential superstars, David Bowie, passed away in January. Bowie was a clear influence on such rock genres such as glam rock, new wave, punk, and a host of others. He was a genius who shape-shifted from one striking character to another. So I will take this time to recommend one of Bowie’s films: The Hunger. Visually striking and erotic, The Hunger was an unusual horror film. The film starts out with two immortals (Bowie and Catherine Deneuve) who hang out at punk rock clubs looking for potential victims. Soon John (Bowie) begins to age rapidly and seeks help from a scientist (Susan Sarandon), whose work deals with the aging process. We soon find out that all of Deneuve’s past lovers also began to age and wither away. Unable to die, she places their mummified remains in boxes in her attic where they lie whispering to themselves. In need of a new partner, Deneuve sets her sights on Sarandon in a very tasteful love scene. Well filmed by the late Tony Scott, The Hunger can be seen as the Miami Vice of vampire films. Glitteringly beautiful and stylish, a cult following is assured. RIP David.      Happy spring, all.

[The Editor recommends Bowie’s character, The Goblin King, in The Labyrinth.]


Chris Friend,, who wrote 2 poems for BP #75, “Angel of the Pagan Dead” and “Churchyard Watcher” (+ BP #72’s 2-poem set, “Ed Gein” & “Sour Puss,” and the 2008 poem “All Hallows’ Eve”), writes and illustrates our “MARS News” column. He did a cover for Black Petals back in 2000 for the fall issue, and has been around ever since. BP keeps up two websites for him and prints his column in the issue quarterly. Chris has a gallery at and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].

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