Black Petals Issue #104, Summer 2023

Editor's Page
BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Question of Money: Fiction by Eric Burbridge
Behold, a White Horse; Fiction by Spencer Jepma
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

Hillary Lyon: Underneath the Sheet

Art by Bernice Holtzman 2023

Underneath the Sheet

Hillary Lyon



“So, I promised my folks I’d look in on Uncle Jon’s place this weekend,” Lena said, holding the house keys aloft. “Make sure there aren’t any squatters, or that the house hasn’t been robbed.”

“You asking me to come with? I like the idea of you and me, in an empty house,” Jerry said, grabbing Lena around the waist. “We could get up to all manner of shenanigans.”

“Get your mind out of the gutter,” Lena smiled, then changed her tone. “My Uncle Jon died there, so—”

“Oooh, all the better,” Jerry grinned. “Spooky sex is the best sex!”

“You are such a ghoul,” she said breaking free of his grasp.

* * *

Lena opened the front door and stepped inside Uncle Jon’s little house. All the furniture was still there, covered in white sheets. Jerry walked in behind her.

“Wow,” he said, scanning the room. “Look at all this furniture! Covered up like this, makes it look like a waiting room for big, awkwardly-shaped ghosts.” He lifted the sheet covering the sofa to peek beneath it. “Why is all this stuff still here?”

“Mom keeps putting off coming here to sort it out,” Lena said. “After she found Uncle Jon’s body, she’s avoids this house.” She shrugged. “I don’t blame her. Dad said Uncle Jon was in a shockingly gruesome condition.”

“You know, if your folks sold this place now, no matter the condition,” Jerry said, changing the subject, “they’d likely make a pretty penny off it.”

“That would make sense, but that’s not their plan,” Lena noted. “After they clean it out, they’re going to let my baby sister, Joan, live here, and charge her ridiculously cheap rent.” Lena frowned; sibling rivalries die hard.

“Anyway,” Lena continued, “as far as I know, the house is in decent shape—Uncle Jon took good care of it.” She moved towards the kitchen. “It was his swingin’ bachelor pad, after all.”

The kitchen was still cluttered from Uncle Jon’s last meal: a crusty pan on the stove-top, dirty dishes and a couple of glasses in the sink. Lena had the impulse to wash those dishes, but reminded herself that the water had been shut off long ago.

“Even the bugs have abandoned this place.” Jerry flicked a dead cockroach laying belly-up on the linoleum counter, sending it spinning. “Let’s check out the rest of this house.”

The door to what Lena thought of as the guest bedroom was already open. The room was empty, except for half a dozen plastic hangers in the closet, and a pleather and faux fur swing hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room.

“Oh my god!” Jerry laughed. “Is that a—”

“Probably,” Lena said through clenched teeth. When they thought she was out of ear-shot, she’d overheard her parents tell lots of stories about Uncle Jon’s proclivities. “I told you he was a swinger.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t take it literally. Hey,” Jerry said, arching his eyebrow, “how about we try—”

“Absolutely not,” Lena said as she walked back into the hallway. She stopped short. “Jerry,” she whispered, “there’s a light coming from under Uncle Jon’s bedroom door.” Jerry sidled up behind her to look. “And that’s not possible—the electricity was shut off not long after he died.”

Jerry moved past her and, with his hand on the door knob, said, “I’ll open it and we’ll see what—or who—is inside.” He turned the knob before Lena could protest.

He opened the door to find a bedroom with all its furniture covered in sheets. Jerry could identify, by the draped shapes, a dresser, a chest of drawers, a night stand, and a king-size bed. He walked over to the single window in the room, and yanked back the curtains, allowing more light into the room. A galaxy of dust motes swirled in his wake.

Lena pushed back the accordion doors of the closet and began rummaging though the contents. She found several designer-label shirts and slacks, all neatly hung up. A dozen men’s shoes were lined up on the floor of the closet.

“So, is this where Uncle Jon kicked the bucket?”

Lena turned to find Jerry pointing, with the toe of his shoe, at a large dark stain on the hardwood floor between the bed and the dresser.

“Yeah, looks like it.”

“So how did he die?” Jerry had always been morbidly curious.

“Dad said Uncle Jon probably got up in the middle of the night—to pee, most likely—and just dropped dead.”

“Was he alone?”

“As far as we know,” Lena shrugged. “But with all the women who passed through here, I wouldn’t be surprised if some gal freaked and just split, leaving his body for the family to find.” Lena turned away from the spot on the floor. “Which my Mom did, almost a week later.”

“People are so ghastly,” Jerry said, sitting on the bed. “Hey, Lena, how about you come sit next to me on this big ol’ bed,” Jerry said, patting the empty space beside him. “We can partake of a little afternoon delight.” He bounced up and down on the mattress.

Lena couldn’t help but giggle as she turned to Jerry. “You are so ghastly,” she said, leaning in close to his face. As he kissed her, he pulled her down onto the bed, as she knew he would.

“From what little you’ve told me about him, I don’t think your old Uncle Jon would mind,” Jerry said, running his fingers though Lena’s hair. “Matter of fact, I think he’d dig it.” Laughing at the archaic term, they rolled and tangled together.

Jerry was interrupted mid-thrust by Lena’s gasp. She frantically pushed him off of her. She’d never done that before.“Not finished already, are you,” he said confused. “We’re just getting’ started.”

Lena wasn’t listening; she was staring at the foot of the bed. Eyes wide, she covered her mouth with her hand to stifle a scream. Jerry looked over his shoulder to see—

A tall figure, covered in a white sheet, standing at the foot of the bed. Standing in the spot stained by Uncle Jon’s decomposing remains. It swayed, slightly. Without thinking, Jerry jumped up and grabbed the sheet, violently pulling it off the thing standing before them.

“Well, hey Little Lena,” the thing rasped, clutching a stale, crumpled cigarette between gray teeth. “Long time, no see.”

It was Uncle Jon. Both Lena and Jerry were speechless. Lena backed up against the headboard, clutching the sheet as if for protection. Jerry backed away, towards the bedroom’s open door.

Uncle Jon used his bony hands to straighten his smoking jacket, then smoothed what little hair he had left on his skull. “Glad to see you two making use of my boudoir.” Uncle Jon then laughed, a raw, guttural sound like a creaking cemetery gate.

Holding up his skeletal hand, Uncle Jon turned towards Jerry, and waved him back into the room. “Don’t stop on my account! As my playmates all know,” he said, turning back towards Lena, “I love to watch.”

Hillary Lyon holds a Masters in English Literature, and what did she do with that? She founded and for 20 years acted as senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Her short stories, drabbles, and poems have appeared in numerous print and online publications. She's lived in Brazil, Canada, France, and several states in the US; she currently resides in southern Arizona. Hillary also creates illustrations for horror, sci-fi, and pulp fiction sites. She is the Assistant Art Director for Black Petals Horror/Science Fiction Magazine.

Site Maintained by Fossil Publications