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

DJ Tyrer: Joke



By DJ Tyrer



Enters a strange, desolate place. An echoing, empty land. Tumbledown ruins of towers half-buried by sluggish grey sands, dunes of which muffle footsteps in that twilit world.

From somewhere a voice, repetitive like a hollow echo, calls: “Death awaits those who fall into the clutches of the Laughing God!”

Fearfully draws near, then –


Wakes from dream in cold sweat, panicked. Warm dampness on chin. Blood

Runs to the bathroom. Nosebleed garish smile like that of a clown grins back from mirror.

Wipes hand across chin, splashing gore away. Droplets land on mouldy splashback, dribble strange patterns of red across black.




The housing estate is a remorseless domain of brutalist architecture, designed to break the spirit. At least, that’s how he feels about it. No jobs, no joy, just a lonely flat. Not even neighbours.

It’s as if the place is dead and he’s the only one living there.

He isn’t though. He can hear the beat of harsh music echoing from somewhere, muffled words of a bitter rap.

There are other signs...

Beside the entrance to the block, someone’s tagged an elaborate symbol, swirling lines of black and red paint dribbling down the wall, and words:

‘The joke’s on you!’




Days pass without differentiation, one blurring into the next, weeks merging. He sees nobody. Sometimes, he hears the distant pounding of a beat. Sometimes, only silence.

Then, a hammering on his door.

They want to come in.

They? Who are they?

He doesn’t know. He just knows what they want, some primal part of his brain acknowledging a threat.

Each bang seems to be in time to the distant beat.

He imagines a repeated refrain to the song: Death awaits those who fall into the clutches of the Laughing God!

In his dream, he drew closer. Here, he cowers, waits.







DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been published in such places as Chilling Horror Short Stories (Flame Tree), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), and issues of Sirens Call, Hypnos, Occult Detective Magazine, parABnormal, and Weirdbook, and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor). Two PDFs featuring stories related to Joke can be downloaded from the Atlantean Publishing website.


DJ Tyrer's website is at

DJ Tyrer's Facebook page is at

The Atlantean Publishing website is at

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