Black Petals Issue #76 Summer, 2016

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Anniversary-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Flirting with the Alley-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Gone Astray-Fiction by Denis Bushlatov
Surviving Montezuma-Serialized Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Road-Fiction by Walter Kwiatkowski
The Watchers-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Honey Island Swamp Monster-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Skin Walker-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Ucu-Poem by Richard Stevenson




By A.M. Stickel, BP Editor

A special place for tall people



Harv Boyle was in trouble, and not just because he’d forgotten his anniversary again. (After the first 3 years, what was the point, anyway?) He had more important things on his mind, like his upcoming assignment on Earth.

However, step #1 a day late was a stop at Magic Mall’s NQA (No Questions Asked) HQ for a waif-1000. He hoped Millie would be impressed with little Dudu, although the toddler was gender undeclared. It spewed, shat, peed and bawled just like the real thing; plus, for a small extra fee, it even stank like him. Dudu would be good company for Millie while he was away for the next two years. Sparing no expense, Harv opted for the bonus Vomit Comet all-purpose household drone that came with the rent-a-child. The child-minding drone not only removed messes, but processed same into useable garden fertilizer. He and Millie had a grow-yer-own planter (with actual earth!) on the window side of their 12-by-12-by-12-foot colony living space with a view of Mars Port in all its rusty splendor.

Harv knew that the VC drone worked because he’d already used it. He’d been conversing with Professor Emritsur’s pregnant daughter, Amanita, in line ahead of him at Mall Security, a brand new nursing bra in her see-through tote. When a robo-cop pat-down had brought up her most recent meal, Harv had merely dialed the VC’s setting to inhale. Unfortunately, it also sucked up Amanita’s waist-length black hair, while dispensing a pleasant flowery fragrance…right under the flashing MARS NEEDS FAMILIES banner hanging overhead.

“Don’t worry, honorat. It was just a wig,” said the girl. “What a sweet lil’ baby!” She patted the top of Dudu’s head. The rent-a-child stared at her, solemn-eyed, like a normal standoffish two-year-old.

“It’s a belated anniversary present,” said gray-clad Harv, blushing as only a redhead can. “Hi, I’m Harv.”

The banner showed a line of smiling, tall, long-limbed, mostly pale passengers of all ages exiting The Space Fairy orbital shuttle. As he apologized, Harv couldn’t help noticing that none of the pictured passengers remotely resembled Amanita. At 6 feet, the girl was short, as well as dark and curvaceous. The top of her bald head sported an elaborate tattoo in red ink, courtesy of her recent visit to Magic Mall’s Pal-A Bu-Tay Salon. She had long red-painted dagger-nails, and wore spiky red heels and clingy red silk pajamas with gold trim. The reds were all shades. Her smile revealed pointy white teeth, rimmed in gold, between crimson upper and ruby lower lips.

“Say, listen, honora Emritsur, would you mind meeting my Millie? I’m going Earth-side soon, so she could use some help with Dudu here. And she’d love your baby. You could talk fashion all day long too.”

Amanita brightened, and patted her bulging belly. “Call me ‘Ami’. Sidney’s papa was a basketball player back on Earth. He was aboard the Arabian Knight with the rest of the Spirits team on his way to Mars when they had that stowaway problem. The only part of him that got to Mars was his frozen sperm. When they called for volunteer mamas, how could I refuse? The Spirits team logo is tattooed on my head. My son and I would be delighted to spend time with Millie…especially if that handy drone-thing helps out. Lead on to your digs.”

The pair glided off down the sterile colony corridors, Dudu between them, Amanita graceful in spite of her pregnancy and perilous footwear. None of the colonists they passed gave her outrageous attire a second glance.

After a few minutes of thought, Harv spoke up. “Ami, it’s a shame how half the team sacrificed themselves before the Robo-doc figured out a fix to the problem.”

“Well, no one wanted their limbs amputated to reduce the load. I mean…tall is everything, isn’t it? The bariatric solution—wow! Who knew how simple it was to have everyone aboard nearly stop eating…although I’d have hated that. No one’s ever going to staple this gut of mine, Harv! I’d have let them space me first.”

“Yeah, I remember the news vids of those guys disembarking. They looked like a bunch of walking skeletons.”

“At least that half of the Spirits lived,” said Ami, “and the other half will live on through their kids.”

Harv squirmed uncomfortably, then said, “Don’t mention the Arabian Knight around Millie, okay?”

“Why not?”

“She was one of the stowaways…and paid a high price for it. We can’t have kids of our own, and—”

Amanita stopped walking and let go of Dudu’s hand. She put her hands on her hips, scowling. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.”

“Look, I can tell you’re just like your dad, and really care about people. Please come meet Millie. She’s so lonely. We’re almost there…”

A few Mars weeks later, from Harv’s quarters, Ami (nursing Sidney) and Millie (leaning against Dudu) watched The Space Fairy shuttle depart Mars Port, carrying Agent Boyle up to the Bastet. The VC drone hovered nearby. Then Sidney burped, Dudu farted, and Millie rolled in the window box planter.

“I’ll miss him,” said Ami, “won’t you, Millie?”

“Meow!” replied Millie, purring as the VC drone vacuumed catnip and dirt from her fur. The Tail End.

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