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The Storm-Fiction by Sean O'Keefe
Claire Morgan's Key to Happiness-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Badass Ted's Christmas Adventure-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
As Good on Him as on a Dead Man-Fiction by Jeff Esterholm
Using Your Kit-Fiction by Andrew J. Hogan
The Apathetic Tide-Fiction by Alan Edward Small
Christmas Karma-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Salt Lake City Slaughterhouse-Fiction by J. Brooke
Mean Mama-Fiction by Tom Barker
All You Can Drink $5.00-Fiction by D. L. Shirey
Shell Shocked-Fiction by M. A. De Neve
The Present-Mark Joseph Kevlock
Red Christmas-Flash Fiction by Morgan Boyd
Samurai Santa-Flash Fiction by BAM
Guns and Rose-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Christmas Eve Blow and Doll Houses-Flash Fiction by Luke Walters
Holly, Jolly-Flash Fiction by Mandi Rose
Pineapple-Poem by Cindy Rosmus
Life is Weird-Poem by Meg Baird
Appendages-Poem by Samuel Cardinale
The Means of Production-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Suicide of Living-Poem by John D. Robinson
It's On My List-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Hoarding Life-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Homeless in NYC-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Death Speaks-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Time Stops-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
House of Un-Reality-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Ghosts of Borges-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Bitchers-Poem by David Spicer
Voltaire and the Literary Guerillas-Poem by David Spicer
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Kevin Duncan 2018

Bad-Ass Ted’s Christmas Adventure


Kenneth James Crist


People seem to think that once time travel was perfected, everything would just fall into place. That all of law enforcement’s problems would be solved, right? I mean, some A-hole kills someone, just go back to before he did it and arrest the idiot, right? No. Doesn’t work. The crime hasn’t been committed yet. Law says ya can’t touch him. You can maybe stop him and save the victim, but legally, ya can’t touch the fucker, even though you know that in your part of the space-time continuum, he’s guilty as shit. Enter the Problem Solvers. I’m Dale Rogers, number 666. I know, cool. I picked the number myself. Not because it is supposed to be Satan’s, but because the Bible says it’s the “number of the Beast”, and when I do what I do best, I am the beast…The newbies don’t get to pick their own numbers anymore.

Step number one: Travel to the correct time and locate the subject. Done. Subject found to be out for a night of casual drinking, which may or may not include casual sex later. He is young, white and good-looking. Most likely has good moves with the ladies. It’s a Christmas party at a local bar, starring a lot of people he works with.

The do-gooders all say we’re murderers. No better than the scum we deal with. In a way, that’s true, but I can guarantee, if the victims knew they were murdered on one plane of existence, they wouldn’t think that. But we try not to ever let the people we save know they were targeted. We just go back and quietly erase the problem.

Time travel is not cheap. And that’s a good thing, too, or every dumbass would be building a warp device and the space-time thing would be more fucked up than it already is. So, since it costs so much time and energy and money to send someone back to correct a problem, we don’t do individual cases. Maybe someday, if the cost comes down. Right now, all we’re doing is serial murder cases.

It works this way: If you go back in time and kill the serial killer before he gets started, all his victims get to live. It’s like it never happened, and in fact, it never did, because we erased it. After making an adjustment like that, a ripple moves down the space-time continuum and it sometimes takes months to find all the victims who, of course, are not victims anymore. We like to do reports on them, just to cover our collective asses. Just to show the powers-that-be what good things we’re doing. After all, it’s taxpayer money.

Step number 2: Insert yourself into the subject’s confidence. I work my way up to the bar and manage to bump into the subject, distracting him and at the same time, adding a little something to his drink. He’s too busy chatting up a set of big breasts with a slight personality to notice much else that’s going on around him. This is good…

In order that people in the past never know what we’re doing, we go to great lengths to fit in. For this case, my warp device has been fitted into a 1960 Chevy Bel Aire 2-door hardtop. It’s period-correct, right down to the whitewalls, silver piping and buttons on the upholstery and fuzzy dice. It’s had the necessary mods, of course, and I must be careful not to wreck it here in 1966. If it fell into the wrong hands, there could be hell to pay. It’s approaching midnight and the highway is empty as I ease the Chevy upward off the road and kill the lights. Wouldn’t do to have people see a car flying over. Cars that fly will happen, but not for at least sixty more years.

In the right seat, unconscious, is a famous serial killer, initials only, T. R. B., a dark-haired, handsome and charismatic guy who really liked Volkswagens. We know his body count was at least thirty. Some say as many as a hundred. After tonight, it will be interesting to see how many lives will be put right by my actions. Right now, at the age of twenty, he is innocent of any crimes, at least as far as we know.

Step number 3, Capture subject. Getting him out to the car was a touch of genius. When he went to the restroom, I followed him. Asked him if he was busy, or could he break away from the boobs for a little fun? Got his attention right away. Of course, he was suspicious. I could see it in his eyes. He wondered if I was “queer”, a term that became pass in the 1990’s, in favor of “gay”. What did I have in mind? Told him I had two very young girls out in my car. How young? Like fourteen and fifteen. What, just sitting out in the lot? No, drugged and stuffed in the trunk…


We’re cruising in the Chevy at 14,000 feet—I told you it had mods, right? —and I’m just waiting for him to wake up a little, so I can solve his problem. I like them to know they’re fucked, right at the last. I wouldn’t have to do it that way, but I have to admit, I like it. So tonight, I’ll give myself a little Christmas gift. We are far out over the New Mexico desert when he begins to come around. I hit a button and a section of the roof over the passenger seat slides back. The rush of cold air wakes him up further.

When we got out to the car, he was all, “Hey, cool ride. Big trunk, too, huh?” He was practically licking his chops. He might not have started killing girls yet, but he was not far off. I handed him the key and, when he popped the trunk, we had a bad moment. He was very fast, for being half drunk and doped, too. Once he saw the empty trunk, he turned and suddenly there was a knife in his hand. Fortunately, his heart rate had spiked, and the dope finally kicked in. He slumped back against the car and the knife dropped from his numb fingers. All I had to do was sort of guide him into the car as he started going down. Didn’t even need my stunner.

He looks out at the stars and then turns to say something to me, a sappy smile on his face. Oh yeah, he’s flyin’ high on the stuff, but it’s known for wearing off fast, so I just say, “Goodbye, Ted, you fucker.” Initiate step number 4. Erase the threat of subject’s actions. I hit the control on his ejection seat and blow his ass out into the night. No parachute, of course. If they ever find him, it will be just one of those mysteries that occur from time to time, unsolvable and soon forgotten. I close the roof and log the time and date into the computer. December 25th, 1966, 12:24 A. M. I set the controls for April 15th, 2108 and trip a switch. I’ll be home in time for supper.

As the sequence starts and the warp drive begins to whine, I think, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…”

        My laughter is beastly and mostly lost in the noise of the field generators…

Kenneth James Crist is one of the editors of Black Petals and has been a published writer since 1998, having had nearly two hundred short stories and poems in venues ranging from Skin and Bones and The Edge-Tales of Suspense to Kudzu Monthly. He is particularly fond of supernatural biker stories. He reads everything he can get his hands on, not just in horror or sci-fi, but in mystery, hardboiled, biographies, westerns and adventure tales. He retired from the Wichita, Kansas police department in 1992 and from the security department at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita in 2016. Now 74, he is an avid motorcyclist and handgun shooter. He is active in the American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard, helping to honor and look after our military. He is also a volunteer driver for the American Red Cross, Midway Kansas Chapter. He is the owner of Fossil Publications, a desktop publishing venture that seems incapable of making any money at all. On June the ninth, he did his first (and last) parachute jump and crossed that shit off his bucket list.

Kevin D. Duncan was born 1958 in Alton, Illinois where he still resides. He has degrees in Political Science, Classics, and Art & Design. He has been freelancing illustration and cartoons for over 25 years. He has done editorial cartoons and editorial illustration for local and regional newspapers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His award-winning work has appeared in numerous small press zines, e-zines, and he has illustrated a few books.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018