Black Petals Issue #78 Winter, 2017

Mars-Chris Friend
All is As It Should Be-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Clown Attack-Fiction by Paul Strickland
One Hell of an Interview-Fiction by Daniel Clausen
Sacrifices-Fiction by Toney Baus
Self-Immolation-Fiction by Michael Mulvihill
Surviving Montezuma, Ch. 5 &6-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Lucky Break-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Those Other Guys-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Only at Night-Poem by Cindy O'Quinn
Ouija-Poem by Ramona Thompson
Roadkill Cat-Poem by Ramona Thompson




By Michael Mulvihill


Not compatible with life



Outside the hospital, my friend Ehab watched the star-spangled flag wave. He believed he would see this flag he associated with his personal liberty replaced by black flags associated with death, devastation, oppression and, ultimately, an end to liberty.

The nurse, dressed in blue scrubs, examined all of Ehab’s belongings, making sure that everything he had presented to the hospital was returned to him. She also went through his various books—a Quran, a Hadith, a Bible, a Torah, a Talmud, an Orthodox Christian prayer book, a copy of the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, and material on the basics of Zen Buddhism and Hinduism. He did not know exactly which was the correct version of how man was created and what happens after death, but he did believe in God. He believed God was omnipotent, omnipresent, all merciful, all wise, all compassionate, all loving, all forgiving, in complete contrast to the humans He created. Religious and softhearted, Ehab detested violence. He’d had enough of it in his former life to conclude that violence is not what a human being is made for. If life became so worthless that war was considered its normal state, then why live? 


Ehab had survived the latest Syrian War, where he had witnessed too many examples of “man’s inhumanity to man.” None of the animals he knew were as savage as the humans who dared to call human monsters animals. Ehab also found it ironic that Americans loved to create fictional monsters, as if there were a lack of real human monsters to reflect on.

“God, so loving and kind, wishes us well. We have made His world sick with hatred,” he told the nurse, who smiled back at him, and then handed him a slip of paper to sign.

He looked at her sadly. She was beautiful. She did not know the road ahead. Ehab did and in no way wished to reveal his visions. Having been hospitalized for blood pressure problems, he did not want to be kept there because they thought he was crazy. Nobody believes in predicted devastation until it is upon them. Released from the hospital, he returned to his apartment in a complex that I manage.

Once home, Ehab boiled a kettle for coffee while listening to music. The view from his kitchen window showed him the prime real estate that constituted the Bay Area. Ehab was a proud new citizen. We called these apartments New Aleppo and our Baghdad by the Bay, Bayside or Little Damascus. A fugitive of the All Syrian War, Ehab had arrived here in 2014. He delivered pizzas by day and watched “Aleppo Today” online every night.

 My friend never mentioned Syria. He thanked God every day that he had arrived safely in America, the land of the free and home of the brave. His new home was democratic, fair, where dreams come true, and any nobody can aspire to be somebody. To Ehab, who believed he was simply one more nobody, this was a heaven on earth.


Ehab kept a journal, and, after his passing, I found his testimony horrifying. He wrote about events which have now happened and others which I do not want to happen, but expect will.

I am not sure if the man was as mad as his means of protest made him appear. He was erudite, his space full of books. He had writings displaying intense interest in philosophy, politics, and history. His big question was: “What does it mean to be an American now?” He embraced cultural diversity, but foresaw a war where people used diversity as a catalyst for division and mass murder.

Death as Thanatos, he claimed, had been summoned to America by fanatics who wanted to use war in this part of the republic to bring about the birth of a powerful new caliphate, Caliphornia.

The Ehab I knew for fifteen years had always worked selling goods in markets that have been around for years. In his writings he predicted they would be destroyed. He kept asking how people like him could then eke out a living. When his business went belly-up, he did not wait around to see.


A week after his release from the hospital, Ehab woke up one morning and decided to walk the streets as a prophet of an undeclared (although rumored) war. Dissatisfaction had been the status quo for decades; nobody really thought this could result in homegrown conflict. Would any normal person agree that killing was the answer to our differences? Despite the flaws of the state, no one would have desired a resolution by conflagration.

Ehab was so perturbed by his visions that madness overcame him. He was besieged by images of what he believed to be the apocalypse. Any witness to the destruction here will agree they are apocalyptic.

Tormented, Ehab sought a holy end. How could God condemn him if His created world was being perverted by humanity? God should understand Ehab’s profound need to simply withdraw from life when there was nowhere left to go. God would know why my friend had to make a decision that rejected a world conquered by hell.

“Fools,” he said, parading down roads that would become terror’s dividing lines, “why allow greed and madness to win? You sell your souls and violate peace when you let hatred dictate the terms!” This was his analysis of what was behind the coming strife. On the eve of a dying state, his was a dirge over the slaughter of freedom.

“Evildoers!” he cried in accusation. He shouted at skies that would be filled with air support above where warring factions would meet to destroy the city. “You shake me to my core. I am not cold or indifferent to your intentions. Hear my objection to your tyranny.”

 Exhausted and delirious, Ehab talked to the buildings he knew would fall. He hugged walls that would soon be rubble, those who built and maintained them lying crushed beneath, along with their children. After hugging the walls, he listened to the birds sweetly singing. They would not drown out the bombs and guns that put them to flight. Ehab heard their songs only as laments for the dying. Knowing the terror that lay in store tormented his soul.

The attacks would be described by a UN official as a crime of historic proportions: citizens annihilated by land, sea, and sky; rescuers, like the heroic firefighters of Bayside, also targeted, many killed while trying to rescue people buried under rubble.

He must have heard those future heartbreaking shrieks of pain and panic. My late friend could have shared the same message with many an American city, whose people danced and dined, shopped in stores, worked and studied, played and prayed. He could have told them that this haven was doomed, but who would have listened?  


To make his point, Ehab chose what he thought was the best option. He poured petrol over himself. He hugged the still standing buildings and walls. Who else knew that they would soon be shattered, blood pouring from debris enveloped in the reek of decaying corpses? Nothing would ever be the same.

“Walls have ears,” he told the wall as petrol dripped from his body onto cement. “Bear witness that my visions of the coming catastrophe so absorb my mind that I have sought release.”

The walls were mute, unable to testify to a future that would bring them down.

“Oh, come-on,” he said, “do you really think even walls can survive evil?”

Sighing, he looked up at the sky, lit a match, and burned to death.


I imagine that, as he burned, Ehab’s cries of anguish joined the future wails of babies, and adults begging for mercy. His eyes sizzled, but could not burn away what he had seen within and written down—violent waves drowning the survivors of human cruelty along with the so-called victors in war. He had seen too much, not only the discontent that would bring down democracy, but the indifference of humans to their own home. 

When Ehab became ashes, the rest of us were just beginning to catch fire. How the self-immolator must have suffered in knowing that even holy places would be blown up. The wave of this social media-fueled revolution was rising in a restless tide; dissenters’ demands breed waves of war and states fragment like shells shattered on a beach. In his written dreams he became a bird taking one last look at his nest before his tree was cut down. Seen on the self-immolator’s body before he burned was the state flag, a fitting symbol for the coming destruction by the fires of war of the souls living there. His death cries were but the first of millions.


I can tell you this and more from my home here in Baghdad by the Bay. Caliphornia is host to propaganda films, murder, torture, and rape; even hospitals are bombed. Any civilian can be taken for slaughter. Occupied territories are turned into slave markets. Diverse ethnicities are purged—often in the name of population control. Here the light of hope has been extinguished.

Scholars apply terms like genocide, ethnic cleansing, and cultural unification to this conflict, but who were the true instigators? They are dealers in powerful, technological weaponry, ideological cancer, extremism, terrorism, hatred, murder-for-hire, and mind control. These expertly stoked the flames. Surely years of oppression from social divides hurt the poor and the crumbling middle class, but no one of sober mind expected a mass grave.

Vaskania came to this region. Calling several factions “part of an axis of evil,” eagle claws were sharpened. New Russia was ready to pounce—a predator with no compassion, merely objectives to realize.

The outside world could not leave Caliphornia alone. Its internal affairs were meddled with. The crisis here is an international experiment. We are the pawn, and violence the instrument. Humans love to assume power over life and death, and assert their power by killing each other. These are the proxy wars of vicious fantasies, creating warnings, to the discontented of the world, of what superior weapons can do.

Thanatos is not at fault just because he stands on the roof of your house, or sits at your fireplace warming what can never warm. No, there is always something conjured up by the unapologetic psychopath, who claims, like the bureaucratic Nazis of yore, to just be following orders.

Death has been following orders since time began. This war has certainly been no exception. But it is the demons under Lord Keres, Violent Death, who now call the shots. Although the greyness of neutrality is ugly, Death’s position has remained stuck there since arriving to lay ultimate claim.

I studied pictures of the state before this war, and viewed normality. Looking at those times, my heart aches. The history of this place where people constructed cities with homes, parks, houses of worship, arenas, museums, schools, and theatres, is haunting, given the present sea of destruction. For fugitives like me, it’s like finally reaching Eden and being ordered out. Stay, and watch the entire land turn into hell on earth. Look behind as you leave, and be turned into a pillar of frozen tears.

The skeletons of apartments dagger the city’s heart. What caused this war seems so pointless a question within the vicious heat of battle. When Caliphornia is one vast graveyard they may be quenched of their bloodthirst. Or, perhaps it will become global, and can only be fully quenched when everyone is dead. 


I was a witness to, not an actor in, this violence, while others hunted, raped, and ravaged. I was like the blocks of stone falling from a bombed building, not the explosives that blew it up. I could do nothing, since I was nothing. I am not the mega bombs. I am not the instrument of genocide. No doubt, Keres would love to claim responsibility. It is my lot to live, breathe, smell, and be consumed by war. As but one human Thanatos rules, every day since the war started his aura has surrounded me. Maybe it’s time to follow Ehab’s example…


The End?



Michael Mulvihill,, &, of Dublin, Ireland, wrote BP #78’s “Self-Immolation” (+ BP #77’s “Drop” and “Lupine Savagery”; BP #76’s “The Watchers”; BP #68’s“The Toasters’ Tragedy” and “Ziggy’s Afterlife Analysis”; “Homeless” & “Why the Hell Siberia?” for BP #67; was featured author for BP #65’s “Ethagorian Evidence, Parts 1 & 2” & “Uninsured Assurance”; VAMPIRE HORDE, Ch.1… for BP #63; BP #61’s poems, A Love Story Beautiful, Capitalism’s Modern Architecture of Love, Red Brick, The Securocrats, and Toxic Addiction; the poems, “Fatigued,” “O Mother,” & “Spike-Inverted Hearts” for BP #58; “The Cleaner and the Collector” & all 6 BP #56 poems; BP #50’s “The Soul Scrubber” and was featured vampire poet with A Vampire’s Dilemma: Love, Becoming a Vampire, Vampire Insomnia, and Vampiric War in The Kodori Valley; wrote BP #49’s poems—I, the Vampire, The Reluctant Vampire of Tbilisi, Vampire Observations, and Vampire Psychoanalysis). The 30ish author published a short story, “Ethagoria Nebsonia,” in BP in ‘98 and had a poem, “The Bombing,” in The Kingdom News about a domestic tragedy in Ireland. He has two 2007 poetry books out with Exposure Publishing: Searching for Love Central and The Genesis and Anatomy of Love, and has written the horror novels, DIABOLIS OF DUBLIN & SIBERIAN HELLHOLE.

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