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

M. L. Fortier: The Children of 666 Middle School

Art by Bernice Holtzman 2023

The Children of 666 Middle School

M. L. Fortier


   It was an old building of red brick, three stories tall with a basement, heated by an ancient furnace. Built in the 1940’s, but still in use, it extended from the corner to half the block. At recess, saw-horses would be set up so children could play outside. Around the corner was a tavern owned by a criminal, well-known to police. If you’d have asked the owner what he did for a living, he would cheerfully say, “I’m a teef!”

   At eight o’clock, the first class (History) was taught by Mrs. Grace Jones. She was starting her discussion when she noticed the children staring at her. She felt her chest tighten. “What’s the matter?” she asked.

   “Don’t you feel history is boring—all those dates.” As they stared, she felt pinned, unable to move. A group of kids began to circle her, muttering “boring, boring, boring.” One girl placed a plastic bag over her head. The teacher couldn’t scream, since her air supply was cut off; as her heart gave out, she sagged to the floor.

   One student informed the principal of Mrs. Jones’s heart attack, and her body was removed.

   After one hour of the pupils being unattended, Mr. Paul Wilson came to teach geography.

   “Well, children, what do we know about geography?”

   “We know where the entrance to hell is – would you like us to show you on the map?”

   “Hell?” Mr. Wilson asked.

   “You know,” the boy said, “like Gehenna, Hades . . . hell!”
   “Oh, I see.” The teacher’s attention was focused on some munchkins in the back row. “What are those scholars doing?”

   A girl tittered. “Oh, them. They’re experimenting with nooses; another test to see how long it takes to turn a face blue.”

   By now, Wilson was slowly backing out of the classroom.

   “Don’t you want us to show you on the map where the entrance to hell is?”

   “Oh,” the instructor said, “I think I know.” The children watched as he fled the room, and down the block as fast as he could.


   Old Jake Raines had been janitor for the middle school for years. He was in the basement, stoking a fire in the furnace. Suddenly he became aware of voices behind him.

   “What are you kids doing down here?” he asked.

   A group of three girls and three boys crept closer. “We wanted to see if you got a good fire going.”

   “Pretty good,” he replied. “But where the heck is my shovel?”

   “Here it is.” A large fellow brought it down on Jake’s head—once, twice, three times. The janitor slumped forward.

   Three shadows then dragged the janitor’s body inside the crackling furnace and locked the door.

   The heavy door muffled the blood-curdling screams that came from inside.


   Lunch time; all the grades played outside. Mrs. Barnes supervised them. Principal of 666 Middle School, she was somewhat grayed, with bifocals and a charcoal suit. She saw a group of youngsters standing in a huddle, and approached. “Did you have a good morning, children?”

   “Oh yes,” they replied, “we learned so much.”

   “That’s wonderful,” Mrs. Barnes exclaimed. “You’re such a bunch of little angels!”

   “Yes,” they replied. “Angels!”

M. L. Fortier:  An award winning author, I have also been teaching creative writing at colleges in the Chicago area, and currently work at College of DuPage. I have many poems in print, the most popular being "If I'd Married Poe."

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