Black Petals Issue #104, Summer 2023

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A Question of Money: Fiction by Eric Burbridge
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Crawling Flesh: Fiction by Michael Stoll
Elm Weaver: N. G. Leonetti
Hunger: Fiction by Mark Jabaut
Mr. Fuzzypants: Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Stop the World: Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Road Less Taken: Fiction by Albert N. Katz
The Washer Woman: Fiction by Sophia Wiseman-Rose
Underneath the Sheet: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Shining Up Grandma: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Children of 666 Middle School: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Bleed: Flash Fiction by Liam Spinage
Good Times: Flash Fiction by Ronin Fox
Time Lost: Flash Fiction by Bruce Costello
Unhappy Shadow: Flash Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Cemetery Road: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Chasing Desolation: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Detroit Jurassic: Poem by Joseph V. Donaski
Colonia Somnia: Poem by Bianca Alu-Marr
The Precipice: Poem by Bianca Alu-Marr
Dread: Poem by LindaAnn LoSchiavo
Home Movies: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Peppermint Twist: Poem by Christopher Hivner
There's Always Tomorrow Night: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Joke: Poem by DJ Tyrer
Ceramic Duck: Poem by Pete Mladinic
Choice: Poem by Pete Mladinic
To Stop the Killing: Poem by Pete Mladinic
Reaper: Poem by David Barber

Roy Dorman: Stop the World

104_bp_stoptheworld_bernice.jpg
Art by Bernice Holtzman 2023

STOP THE WORLD

 

Roy Dorman

 

     “So, did those stupid brain doctors mess up somethin’ that makes ya not able to talk anymore?”

     Bobby Anderson and his friend, Charlie Smith, are walking to the Burgers R Us joint for burgers and cokes.

     Bobby’d had surgery to remove a small benign tumor that had shown up when he’d gone to his family doctor for headaches. The surgery had been done in a big research hospital in Atlanta two weeks ago, and this was the first time he and Charlie had gotten together since then.

     Bobby hadn’t said anything since Charlie’d picked him five minutes ago at his house.

     “I can talk,” said Bobby. “But something’s not right. I feel like some kinda pressure is building in me. A tremendous pressure.”

     “I ain’t never used tremendous in a sentence,” said Charlie solemnly. “I guess big has always worked good enough for me.”

     Bobby smiled at Charlie. He was his best friend. A little slow on the uptake, but a good friend.

     “And it’s like I’m gonna be able to, I don’t know, do things I couldn’t do before,” continued Bobby. “Maybe like super hero things.”

     “Methinks my boy is maybe still a little daffy from his operation,” said Charlie, patting Bobby’s shoulder. “Super hero?  Seriously?”

     Bobby decided not to tell Charlie about the voices in his head. Voices telling him big plans were in the works. Telling him he was a part of those big plans.

***

     The Atlanta specialists hadn’t actually been successful. The tumor they looked to remove wasn’t benign. It was what was called in the business an “intelligent” tumor. But this wasn’t just an intelligent tumor, but rather the intelligent tumor. The most intelligent tumor that had ever lived. 

     Much of Darwin’s theory on evolution was based on the survival of the fittest. This concept is also used when scientists work on an invasive species problem. Queen Anne’s Lace in the prairies or Zebra Mussels in the Great Lakes are examples. Some species just take over.

     Bobby’s tumor had shown itself as a possibly malignant tumor on the original x-rays, and then when the surgery began it created a benign tumor for them to work on while it disguised itself as normal brain tissue.

     The tumor is in Bobby’s head at the present. But its plan is to be Earth’s tumor.

***

    Just then Bobby’s dog, Bisbee, went tearing past them down the sidewalk. 

     Bisbee’s a two-year old black lab with a lot of puppy still in him. He’d followed the boys when they’d left Bobby’s house.

     “Bisbee!  Wait!” Bobby yelled as he ran after his dog.

     As he watched Bisbee run, swirling rainbow streaks began to obscure Bobby’s vision. He blinked a few times to try and clear them away.

     That weird something he was telling Charlie about was acting up. It was asserting itself.

     Bisbee continued down the block and ran into the cross street. A car was bearing down on him and it looked like there wouldn’t be time for it to stop.

     “Come back, Bisbee! Right now!”

     Bobby then screamed at the top of his lungs. “Stop!!!”

     The car froze a few inches from Bisbee. Bobby continued running and finally caught up to Bisbee. He reached down to hug him and ….

     “Bisbee?”

     Bisbee stood like a statue in the street. The Bisbee statue was one of a dog running.  Bobby picked him up and held him to his chest.  He looked at the car and saw the driver staring out of the windshield at them. Bobby smiled tentatively and waved at the driver. The driver continued to stare.

     Looking back from the way he’d come, he saw Charlie standing there looking at them.

     “Hey, Charlie,” Bobby called. “C’mere and check this out.”

     Charlie didn’t move. Bobby now noticed Charlie was standing in mid-stride, like a statue of a boy running. 

     Just like Bisbee.

     Turning away from Charlie, Bobby looked at the driver again and then at Bisbee. Across the street, he saw Mr. Jenkins had been mowing the lawn, but was now just standing behind the mower. And the mower was no longer running.

     Bobby had done something with his new super powers.

     He carried Bisbee back to where Charlie was standing. He touched Charlie’s arm.

     “Charlie?”

     Charlie didn’t answer. Bobby looked into his eyes and saw a look of wonder. It was the same look that had been in the driver’s eyes. And in Bisbee’s.

     “Oh, shit!” Bobby shouted, putting Bisbee down on the sidewalk. “Mom!”

     Bobby started running back toward his house. On the way, he saw a number of birds on the ground with their wings extended like they were flying. They had been flying until…

     Bobby thought their bright bird eyes looked surprised like the driver’s, Charlie’s, and Bisbee’s.

     He ran faster.

     “Mom! Mom!” he called as he ran up the porch steps and into the house.

     Helen Anderson was standing at the kitchen sink finishing up the breakfast and lunch dishes.

     “Mom, you’re okay!”

     Helen didn’t turn around. That stopped Bobby in his tracks just as he was going to hug her. He peered around her to look at her face. Helen was staring at the plate she’d been rinsing like it was the most interesting thing in the world.

     Bobby tried to think. What had he done? He’d yelled for Bisbee to stop and…

     “Go!” he yelled into his mother’s face.  “Go! Go! Go!”

     But Helen remained as she was; still holding the plate under the faucet. 

     In a mile radius of where the car had almost hit Bisbee, everything and everybody had stopped.

     Bobby’s new super powers had stopped everything. And he couldn’t get anything to go again.

     The voices in his head were now telling him he had places to go and things to do.

     Tremendous things to do.

     There was a whole world to stop.

     And Bobby would stop it.

 

THE END

Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for over 65 years.  At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer.  He has had flash fiction and poetry published in Black Petals, Bewildering Stories, One Sentence Poems, Yellow Mama, Drunk Monkeys, Literally Stories, Dark Dossier, The Rye Whiskey Review, Near To The Knuckle, Theme of Absence, Shotgun Honey, 50 Give or Take, Subject And Verb Agreement Press, and a number of other online and print journals.  

Unweaving a Tangled Web, recently published by Hekate Publishing, is his first novel.

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