Black Petals Issue #92, Summer, 2020

The Last Days

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Mars-Chris Friend
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Sean M. Carey-Chilled Bones Under Lovely Skin
Roy Dorman-Death in the Round Room, Part IV
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Gavin McGarvey-The Black Petals
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C. S. Harbold-The Whispering
Dean Patrick-Vincent's Warning
Doug Park-We Get Him Together
Joseph Hurtgen-Worlds to Conquer
Mickie Bolling-Burke-The Bringer of Darkness
Aaron Hicks-The Last Days
Cindy Rosmus-Out of Juice
Matthew Wilson-Endless Men's Hate
Michael Steven-Hell Rift
Sean Goulding-Hypnagogic
David C. Kopaska-Merkel-In the Land of Giants
Loris John Fazio-The Thing in the Woods
Loris John Fazio-The Beggar Knows
Richard Stevenson-Peg Leg
Richard Stevenson-The Alkali Lake Monster
Richard Stevenson-The Green Man

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Art by A. F. Knott 2020

 

The Last Days

 

Aaron Hicks

 

Nicholas was my dear prince. Only 8 years old and ready to take on this depraved world all alone. That made it more difficult as we went upstairs to get my gun. Walking up, each of the bruised wooden steps seemed like a personal invitation from the heavens. Another opportunity to turn away from it, all I had to do was take the boy upstairs and hide. Lock up inside the attic and pray to make it to sunrise.  But as we made it to the top, I returned the letter back to its sender the second I grabbed the pistol. Ignoring the invitation to heaven, I instead punched my ticket to hell.

I led the way as Nic followed behind.  We went back down in a flash. As we turned the corner of the staircase, I peeked outside to see them. They began to bang on the fortifications and rip the wood off the barricades. Blood, foam, and pus leaking out of their bodies as they gnawed through my defenses. It all truly made me sick.  Not the monsters outside, but of the creature inside of me that was born from this epidemic.

I looked back at Nic and gave him a thumbs up. Reaching my fingers over to his face I forced a gentle smile on it as a tear drop ran down. In unison, we both sprinted inside the bathroom.  Locking the door behind me, I bolted us up.

Taking my last look at him, I grabbed his small feeble hand and led him into the tub. While he stretched out on top of the plastic tarp, I grabbed his curly black hair and planted a sweet kiss atop his head. Trying so hard to reassure him, I begged him to be strong. I had to do this.  Now inside my arms I held him close with my finger firm on the trigger.  His warm lively demeanor now replaced with a cold stale presence as the barrel pressed up against his skull.

 

And just like that, it was all over. Twenty seconds had passed and Nic had not changed. No blood foaming from his mouth, or yellow eyes shrieking. His wound wasn’t a bite, just a cut.  The wound was a nasty slash but nowhere near the gash I felt having to take these measures.  I tugged him close and wrapped my arms around him. After I patched him up, we unloaded the potatoes and squash from our supply run.

I made my way back upstairs to the attic where I squatted down to hug her. Rose sat inside bawling, distraught with so much fear, so much pain. I held her tight as I comforted her, letting her know that Nic was safe. He wasn’t going to turn into one of the monsters outside and harm them. Not like mommy did. Unable to keep it together she sobbed with no control. She knew what I had to do to be safe. She knew how close she was to becoming the next leader of this tattered fort, and makeshift home.

Now for the first time in an hour the grunts and shrieks outside stopped. They made it past the first barriers, but two more stood between them and us. It will only be a matter of time before they return. I could never stop any of this, but merely kick the can down the road. I kept shushing Rose as she twisted and squirmed within my arms. Working all my power and will to convince her and myself that we'll be fine; that we will make it through the winter. Nic is still here but we’ll soon need to scour for food again. I pray that it rains soon, or else our water reserves are gone. I wonder sometimes if it would just be better to take them both in the bathroom and put them both to rest. Rid them of this degenerate world and send them to their mother.  Most often, I’d snap back to reality and pass by those thoughts quickly. I used to tell myself that I’d never stoop so low, but there’s no telling in these last days.


Aaron Hicks is an up and coming writer from Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a graduate of Western Carolina University with a Major in Entrepreneurship and a minor in English. Aaron has been published in Call + Response Journal, The NewVerse News, BlazeVox Journal, and Dream Noir Magazine. 

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