Black Petals Issue #78 Winter, 2017

All is As It Should Be
Home
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

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All Is as It Should Be

 

By Roy Dorman

 

In an alien dimension

 

 

The essence of Andrew, previously the resident of an ornate blue bottle in the possession of his wife, Mrs. Taylor, was now residing in the dusty caverns of the mind of Javid, a hostile being from another dimension. Whereas yesterday Andrew had been in New England, circa 1870, he was now address unknown, circa unknown.

 

Having walked cross-country for the distance of a sunrise to a sunset, Javid, Andrew’s host, now strode up to the walls of the largest city on the planet.

Using the eyes of Javid, Andrew saw that the massive doors to the city were open and hung askew as if they hadn’t been closed in some time. From what he had observed so far, and from the little Javid had told him, Javid’s kind had little to fear from outside enemies. They were probably their own worst enemies, so whether the city’s doors were opened or closed was of no great concern to them.

No one hailed Javid from the ramparts, asked him to identify himself, or insisted on knowing his business in the city. Rather, beings looking almost identical to Javid sauntered along the streets, ignoring each other while silently allowing as much personal space as possible.

The city was remarkably clean given that Javid’s people had no worker caste, and Andrew was about to voice this question when he remembered Javid’s admonishment that he was to be silent to avoid giving away his presence to Javid’s fellow beings. He was just about to ask if he could use a guarded telepathy when Javid roughly stopped one of his peers in its tracks.

“Is all as it should be?” he asked.

“As it should be,” replied the other.

Javid’s thanks for this for this bit of information was to run his short sword up under the chin and into the brain of his comrade.

“As it should be,” he said, sheathing his sword and continuing on.

As Javid continued his walk into the city, Andrew’s interest was once again drawn to the lack of garbage and trash. There were the occasional dead bodies, but no litter. He noted even the older bodies showed no sign of being chewed on by scavengers, and appeared to be in various states of mummification rather than decay. Also, there were no flies on the bodies or any other insects to be seen anywhere. Who or what is keeping the trash to a minimum, but allowing the dead to lie where they fell?

Javid started up the steps to the entry of an official looking building. Andrew’s mind worked on the puzzles being presented to him. Is Javid going to “check in” with his superiors? Does he even have superiors? 

So far, Javid had hinted at a society of individuals who existed until one of their fellows cut them down. Thinking this would be a chaotic way for a functioning society to exist, Andrew felt he needed more information if he was to continue his lodging in Javid’s mind.

“Javid, I have more questions, and I need answers if I am to stay with you. If you persist with this stupid ‘shut up or else’ attitude, I will jump ship at the first available opportunity.”

Andrew already planned to leave Javid once he saw a safer, more intelligent host, but Javid didn’t need to know that. If he could gather some information first, Andrew would be more likely to make a correct choice.

Using the same silent guarded mode of communication, Javid replied. “I must verify that all is as it should be, and then you and I can talk. Even this direct mind-to-mind communication could be discovered. I must check with the hive brain for recent activity. If all is well, we can then plan your future.”

Andrew went back to visually analyzing his surroundings. He noticed something new: The dead bodies of Javid’s kind had been stripped of most of their clothing and weapons. Did the spoils go to the victors? Javid had slain two of his fellows and hadn’t bothered taking any of their belongings. If there wasn’t a cleanup crew, who was stripping the fallen? 

Andrew thought maybe the gossip regarding some of the native people surviving the purge and even coming into the city might be true, even if Javid had scoffed at the idea. He also speculated that a cottage industry of sorts could be functioning right under the noses of the monsters of The Land of Shattered Dreams and Broken Promises.

Reaching the entryway to what appeared to be a headquarters, Javid passed through, then strode up to glass enclosure. The rectangular enclosure was approximately six by six by three feet and contained a grotesque mass of tissue almost completely covered with tiny eyes, ears, and mouths. The glass casing was quite thick and Andrew could see no way in or out of it. He assumed beings who could move between dimensions in time and space would probably have ways of living he couldn’t imagine. 

Though a few minutes ago he had been delivering ultimatums to Javid, he now was thinking how fragile his existence was. He had chosen to come to a place sight-unseen with Javid, and this hideous blob in the glass case reminded him just how far from home he was.

Javid stood before the being he had named the hive brain as if waiting for permission to speak. Andrew was surprised to observe that Javid’s mind showed he was uncomfortable with the situation. For the first time Andrew sensed fear coming from Javid.

“All is as it should be in the hive, Javid. What have you to report?”

“I have been to a planet far away in distance and also far into the future,” said Javid. “It should be a suitable home for the hive if we choose to leave this place.”

“Well done, Javid. And when were you going to tell me of the parasite I see lodged in your mind?”

“I captured it on the faraway planet. Rather than kill it, I brought it here to determine if knowledge it possesses could be of value to the hive.”

“I have often admired your wisdom, Javid, but also have often questioned your loyalty. Report back to me on your activities at each sunset while you are here. If this sounds as though you are on probation, you are.”

“All will be as you command,” said Javid.

“You are dismissed.”

Javid turned to leave and Andrew noticed he was moving a lot more quickly in his departure than he had in his arrival. Javid was keeping his mind guarded while doing everything he could to hide the fact that he was. Andrew knew that the interview had not gone well. He might be leaving Javid sooner than either of them expected.

Javid was down the stairs and a few steps into the commons area when he was shot in the back with a bolt from a crossbow. The arrow had come from inside the building they had just left, so there was no doubt that the hive brain had ordered it.

Thinking quickly, Andrew moved from Javid’s mind to one of the pockets in his vest. Since the hive brain knew of his existence in Javid’s mind, it might send out a minion to capture him. 

No one came out of the building for Javid’s body or to search for Andrew. Still early evening, it would be a while before darkness fell. Andrew decided to wait where he was. Javid’s fellows were walking around his body as if he had the plague, so Andrew felt safe for the time being.

Shortly after darkness had descended upon the city, Andrew withdrew from Javid’s pocket and took up a position in his hair. He could see that the city seemed to have completely shut down. The members of the hive must be diurnal. Since they feel they have no enemies, they probably didn’t even post night guards. I must be very close to finding out who keeps the streets clean.

Before he had time to think about this further, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Somebody or something was moving quickly and silently, back and forth, from building to building, always moving closer to Javid. Finally, a small, slight humanoid made a final run across the commons area and threw itself on the cobblestones next to Javid. It made a slight breathing sound from its exertions, but otherwise remained still. After reassuring itself that it hadn’t been seen, it knelt and began to strip Javid of his belongings.

Andrew toyed with the idea of going directly into this scavenger’s mind, but didn’t want to frighten it. He knew he also risked frightening it by speaking to it, but felt that unless these beings were telepathic, physical voice would be less alarming.

After a quick scan of the being’s memory for previous conversations, Andrew felt he had a rudimentary grasp of its language. “Please don’t be alarmed. I mean you no harm. Just continue on with your work so as not to attract any unwanted attention.”

At the sound of Andrew’s voice, the being had stiffened as if to flee, but had then thought better of it. It continued to remove Javid’s belongings from his corpse, moving more slowly now, occasionally giving a casual look around, trying to identify the source of the voice it had heard.

“I’m a spirit, just the essence of my former physical self, and have taken refuge in this dead beast’s hair. No, no, don’t try and look for me; I’ll come out.”

Andrew now made soothing sounds in the native being’s mind and positioned himself on the back of Javid’s closed fist. He was prepared to enter either Javid’s or the being’s mind at the first sign of aggression.

“I am Andrew, an essence from afar. I came to your dimension, your world, by way of this now dead beast who was called Javid. I lived a long physical life, and now, as a fragile essence, seek adventure and new things. I try to temper my enthusiasm with a strong sense of survival. I ask that you take me with you so that I may see if I could dwell with your kind for a while.”

The native being seemed to mull that over for a bit before saying, “How do I know that you are no danger to me or that you are not some sort of spy for the Takers of Life?”

“You have only my word that I am neither. You come from the relative safety of your own kind and risk discovery and death to rob the dead and scavenge the city for goods. We have something in common; you and I are both risk takers. Let us be allies against the Takers of Life.”

Again, the being considered Andrew’s words. Finally, after almost a minute, it shrugged and said, “I am Mar-ta, and for my own reasons I will take you back with me. I can flaunt you as a prize in front of the males of my clan. For helping me with this, I promise to keep you safe.”

“Done,” said a laughing Andrew. “You’ll use me and I’ll use you.”

The hive brain listened to all of this with interest. It knew of the night scavengers and their stronghold in the mountains, and had sensed Andrew the moment he came into this dimension. Being practically immortal, with the possibility of breaking the latest long period of boredom, it was pleased that life was about to get very interesting.

 

More to Come

 

 

Roy Dorman, roydorman@yahoo.com, of Madison, Wisconsin, who wrote BP #78’s “All Is as It Should Be” (+ BP #77’s “Essence of Andrew,” BP #76’s “Flirting with the Alley,” BP #75’s “The Enemy of My Enemy,” BP #74’s “Doesn’t Play Well with Others,” BP #73’s “A Journey Starts with a Flower,” BP #72’s “The Beach House,” BP #71’s “The Big Apple Bites,” BP #70’s “Borrowing Some Love,” and BP #69’s “Back in Town” and “Finding Good Help…”), is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Birds Piled Loosely, Burningword Literary Journal, Cease Cows, Cheapjack Pulp, Crack The Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Fiction Press, Gap-Toothed Madness, Gravel, Lake City Lights, Near To The Knuckle, Shotgun Honey, The Creativity Webzine, Theme of Absence, The Screech Owl, The Story Shack, & Yellow Mama.

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