Black Petals Issue #79 Spring, 2017

Get Some Shelter

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Cellmates-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Drogol the Nosophorous and the Calf of Man-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Feral Rage-Fiction by Dave Anderson
First Bite-Fiction by Jeff Dosser
For Sale-Fiction by Dave Anderson
Get Some Shelter-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Last Leg-Fiction by Dave Anderson
Surviving Montezuma, Ch. 7 & 8-Continuing Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Turbulent Silence-Fiction by George Economou
3 Haiku by William Landis
A Mother's Delight-Poem by Liz McAdams
4 Poems by Brendan McBreen


Get Some Shelter


By Roy Dorman


Andrew’s essence evolves.



Andrew was hidden within one of the many pockets in the poncho-like garment of the scavenger, Mar-ta. Not mere clothing, it was a perfect storage place for her treasures. He snuggled down between some metal rings and what appeared to be hard bread. Being a spirit, Andrew required neither food nor treasure, but was curious about what Mar-ta would and would not take. To Andrew, it seemed she was willing to take anything small enough to carry, regardless of its value.

When she finished relieving Javid of his possessions, he lay naked in the street. It would probably be his final resting place. Andrew thought Javid’s kind (called Takers of Life by Mar-ta) must have no curiosity at all to ignore their dead comrades scattered about the city completely stripped of their belongings. 

Ready to go now, Mar-ta started through the streets, stealthily flitting from doorway to alley to doorway in a random pattern. To Andrew, it seemed like the city shut down completely at dark, but Mar-ta must have a reason for her caution. If the idea was to loot without being observed, she did well.

She stopped a number of times to pick up a loose item, and then finally took off at a dead run. Andrew peered out of the pocket and saw they had left the open gates and were headed toward the mountains he had seen on his way into the city with Javid.

She’s good, but that was too easy, Andrew thought. Once again, he needed some answers.

The darkness was complete, save for the stars and two distant moons. After a bit, Mar-ta slowed to a walk and said, “That went well; we should be to our settlement well before daylight.”  

“Do you come into the city to gather every night?” asked Andrew.

“I would come every night,” said Mar-ta, “but Garth, our leader, says we must avoid being predictable or risk discovery. We go every other night for a bit, then skip a few nights, and then go every third night for a while. Most think this unnecessary. Those animals don’t even know we exist. At night, they are like the grindles in the streams, falling asleep when it gets dark. Many of our young people dream of the night we’ll go in and slaughter them all, taking back our land.”

“I have two pieces of information Garth and your people may be interested in,” said Andrew. “The beast you stripped was Javid, a boastful creature. Though I was with him for only a day, I learned a few things from him about this land. Javid said there were rumors of survivors of the purge of your people, and some of his kind also claimed your people came into the city. Javid reported in to a monstrosity more terrible than himself. This hive-brain, as it was called, controls the Takers of Life. It killed Javid immediately after their visit because it suspected Javid had not been completely honest in his report. And it somehow knew of my existence before Javid had a chance to tell it. I was hidden in Javid’s mind, so this hive-brain must be able to do a deep search.”

“Let us keep this between you and me for the time being,” said Mar-ta. “Garth would use this information to have us be even more cautious, which would delay the strike on our enemy.”

“I will await your permission to release this information to whomever you choose,” said Andrew. He felt he would very soon be once again picking sides.


“So, Mar-ta, what have you brought back today,” asked Garth, “the usual fare, or something of interest?”

“She probably didn’t even get as far as the city,” said a male voice from behind Mar-ta, “probably just hid out for a while along the road and then came in with nothing but excuses.”

“Once again, I’ve brought back more than you usually do, Derrick,” said Mar-ta, emptying her many pockets and sleeves onto the ground in front of Garth. “And, here is a surprise for you, my leader.” Mar-ta carefully took Andrew from a pocket and let him hover over the palm of her outstretched hand.

“What’s this?” asked Garth. “What have you brought in among us—a small wraith?”

Andrew jumped from Mar-ta’s hand to the ground and swelled to full human size. It was the first time he felt safe enough to do so since he had left his New England home.

“I am Andrew, a spirit from another place and time. I’m an adventurer seeking new experiences. My unique knowledge may be of use to you in defeating the Takers of Life and I’ll willingly share it with you.”

Andrew looked to Mar-ta to see if it was time to tell Garth and those gathered here about the hive brain. Mar-ta stared straight ahead and refused to meet his eyes. Andrew took that as a “no.”

“Mar-ta,” said Garth, “how are we to know this spirit is not a spy? You risk us all with your desire to prove your competence.”

Garth unsheathed his long sword, and it appeared to Andrew that yet another leader was going to kill one of their subjects because of him. He reduced his size and entered Garth’s mind, freezing his right arm in mid-swing.

“Witchcraft!” screamed a tall man behind Mar-ta. He struck her a savage blow with a heavy club and she crumpled to the ground. 

Andrew, being a lover of witchcraft, as well as a bit fond of Mar-ta, was furious, and, without thinking about it, raised Garth’s sword and decapitated Mar-ta’s murderer. He then conjured up hundreds of red, yellow, and black spiders and sent them to attack the remaining villagers. That their hands simply passed through rather than crushed the spiders didn’t stop the panic the spiders caused, and the village square was soon empty except for Andrew and Garth.

Garth looked around in bewilderment. “What have you done? What do you want with us?” he asked.

“As I was trying to explain before you stupidly drew your sword, I’m an adventurer. Javid, one of the Takers of Life, was in my home world—New England—searching for evil in an abandoned abode near mine and my wife’s. He offered to bring me here and I accepted. He was killed and I met Mar-ta, who recognized my value to your people and brought me to you. And you got her killed.”

That was quite a long soliloquy for the usually introverted Andrew, but, upset about his part in Mar-ta’s death, he felt a need to vent.

“What will you do now, oh spirit?” asked Garth, seemingly chastised. “Have your spiders killed all of my people?”

“Call me Andrew. Those were just imaginary spiders I planted in their heads. They’ll be all right once they stop running. Mar-ta and I planned to use the information I was to give to you to overthrow the Takers of Life. Now I don’t know if either of you are worth backing. Are there any other beings on this planet who are a little more intelligent?”

Garth saw some of his people cautiously returning to the square and felt the need to assume some of his leadership style to save face. “You will not disparage me or my people, or I’ll…”

“Or you’ll break out in painful, pus-running boils over your entire body?” asked Andrew.

Garth sighed. “Please, I apologize. Let us work together,” he said, keeping his voice low so as not to be overheard by those returning.

“We’ll see,” said Andrew. “We’ll see.”


Weeks passed, and Andrew learned a lot about the history of this land. The natives, who called themselves simply “The People,” were from the same genetic line as the people on Earth. They’d had a rich culture before the coming of the Takers of Life that had included both oral and written history. 

The Takers of Life had disrupted the climate, probably in their effort to purge the native population, and what was once a fertile, productive world was now mainly desert. Andrew experimented with making positive ecological changes to the area around the mountain stronghold, which was appreciated by the natives. A few were jealous of his revered standing in the group, but most considered his presence a boon. 

When Garth told Andrew there was a dream of one day overthrowing the Takers of Life, Andrew knew it was time to reveal what he knew about the hive-brain. With Andrew’s help, the timeline for taking back their planet had been moved up. Though helping The People was important to Andrew, he also needed to figure out how to enlist the hive-brain’s help in getting back home. He’d had enough of this place and missed Julia terribly.  


More to Come



Roy Dorman,, of Madison, WI, who wrote BP #79’s “Cellmates” & “Get Some Shelter” (+ 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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