Black Petals Issue #84 Summer, 2018

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Goodbye to Nowhere Land-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Just a Minute-Fiction by Mark Joseph Kevlock
Nobody Should Be in 1610 Maple-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Fiction by A.M. Stickel, Chapter 1
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Fiction by A.M. Stickel, Chapter 2
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Fiction by A.M. Stickel, Chapter 3
Prey-Poems by Michael Keshigian
Asunder-Poems by Mick Rose


Goodbye to Nowhere Land


By Roy Dorman


Mind games


Elizabeth Woods and Edward Alderson had met in Nowhere Land, in another dimension located on the other side of a one-way door in the back of Count Marcovici’s store in New York City. What did Marcovici sell? For a fee, he would help those in trouble of any kind “disappear.” Marcovici sold new lives. 

Now, in the late afternoon, after having just discussed how they were going to have to come up with more food after their supplies ran out, Elizabeth and Edward found themselves behind “Door Number Two,” and about to discover that meeting Marcovici was going to lead them to the most exciting adventure imaginable.


“Thanks for cutting me down,” said Edward, from on the ground under the snare that had caught him. 

“Yeah, well I felt kinda bad about pushing you through the door first,” replied Elizabeth.

“Hey, no problemo. If you had gone through first, it would have been me cutting you down, right?”

“Maybe, but I’d like to think I’d have been more careful. Anyhow, this vine used as rope for the trap is plenty strong,” said Elizabeth, holding up the length of vine to Edward. “They might have been expecting one of those giant woolly beasts. I think this stuff would even hold one of them.”

“Do ya think we should move on, or stay here and see who or what comes to check on the trap?” asked Edward.

“I’m for scoping out the immediate area to see what we’ve stumbled into, and then hiding near the trap to see who set it,” said Elizabeth. “There may be food in this land, but whoever got here first might not want to share.”

Keeping their pistols drawn, Elizabeth and Edward walked in ever-widening circles around the door until they were about fifty feet from it. They found trees with fruit something like apples. Always the risk taker, Edward bit into one and declared it delicious.

“I think we’ve gone far enough for now. Let’s head back to the snare and get hunkered down,” said Elizabeth.

“Want a bite? These things are great,” said Edward, holding out fruit to Elizabeth. She shook her head.

“I think I’ll wait an hour or so and see if you fall down writhing and clutching at your throat, with blood gushing from all orifices,” said Elizabeth.

“Man, what a vibe killer,” said Edward, tossing the fruit over his shoulder. “It’s not like there’s going to be a McDonalds every couple of blocks; there aren’t even any frickin’ blocks.”

“Shhh! Somebody or something’s coming,” whispered Elizabeth. “Don’t make a sound, stay right where you are, and don’t shoot until I say so. Got it?”

 “Got it, Commander,” Edward whispered back.

 It was one of the big hairy beasts. It shambled over to the door, picked up the vine Elizabeth had cut, looked at it curiously at different angles, and then sniffed the air.

Elizabeth stepped out of her hiding place with her pistol pointed at the beast. “On the outside chance you can understand me, put your hands over your head and don’t move,” she said.

The beast put its hands in the air. Then its command went directly into Elizabeth’s mind. Put that weapon on the ground and kneel before me.

Elizabeth found she had no choice but to obey. She tried to resist, but could do nothing other than what the beast had told her to do. She tried to yell to Edward, but her voice was completely paralyzed. With all of her might, she willed Edward to shoot, knowing it was probably in vain.

Edward stepped out of his place of concealment and fired three quick shots into the beast’s chest. He was immediately thrown back into the brush by an unseen force and pain like he had never experienced shot through his temples.

The beast roared, then whimpered, and then went quiet.

Edward got up slowly and walked over to the still kneeling Elizabeth. “Damn, Elizabeth, what the hell just happened here?”

“Give me a minute, Edward,” said Elizabeth. “My brain is still scrambled…but, hey, good work there. I’m glad you didn’t wait for my okay to fire away.”

 “But I did wait. When you knelt down in front of that thing, you said ‘shoot, shoot, shoot,’ and that’s when I shot.”

 “What is going on here?” said Elizabeth. “That thing used some sort of mental telepathy to force me to its will. I tried to tell you to shoot, but my voice was frozen. I could feel my mind becoming captive as well as my body, but did manage to think ‘shoot’ as hard as I could before I blacked out.”

 “Somehow I picked up that thought,” said Edward. “What am I thinking right now, Elizabeth?”

 “You’re thinking that you sure hope I can’t read your thoughts from here on out or I’ll probably be cuffing you around your ears every ten minutes.”

 “Damn, that’s pretty close,” said Edward, looking a little sheepish.

 “I was just messing with you, Edward; I can’t read your thoughts. Can you read mine? I think being in close proximity to this beast allowed us to be telepathic—while it was alive. Kind of a hive mentality sort of thing. But now that it’s dead, we don’t have it anymore.”

“I wonder if it planned to take you captive or kill you.”

“I’m thinking it was going to make me a captive…at least until it figured me out. That first one that visited me and put these scratches on my leg could just as easily have killed me. Remember I said it sort of seemed disgusted with me for kicking at it. Maybe we shared a little bit of telepathy then for it to have given me that impression.”

“So, now what?” asked Edward. “Do we continue on or go back? This door seems to be in place here and didn’t disappear after we came through it like the one at Marcovici’s.”

“That trap and this beast have me a little concerned,” said Elizabeth. “Whoever set the trap may have wanted to catch whatever came through the door to see what kind of being they were.”

“You mean it might have been some kind of test?”

“Yeah, and I think we might have failed,” said Elizabeth. “There’re a lot of violent people who come through the original Marcovici door. Whoever set the trap just inside the door may have wanted to see if they wanted them on this side…to see if they would be an asset or a liability.”

Edward looked down at the beast. “Well, the interview didn’t go very well, did it?”

Actually, you two passed the initial interview with flying colors. You may resort to violence a little too quickly, but you acted in what you thought was self-defense.

Both Elizabeth and Edward clapped their hands over their ears in an attempt to keep the voice from taking over their minds. Seeing that was of no use, they drew their guns and scanned the area for the beast who was talking to them now.

Oh, I’m not going to give you a shot at me. I’ll miss Sandor, but he was always too loosey-goosey about checking the traps. Elizabeth, your leg could probably use a rest; if you both will just sit down where you are, we can talk.

Edward couldn’t see that they had any choice but to obey. They could try to run back through the door, but the beast could certainly lasso their minds and hold them if it wanted to. That it was not doing so was a good sign. They sat down.

I am Abubakar. Sandor was from the other side of the doorway. He was a trustee. Those from the other side are not our equals; they’re more brutish, and most are fit only for hard labor. Some may be taught to be servants—

“Now that has a familiar ring to it,” said Edward.

You see yourself choosing their side if a rebellion could be organized. But you two do not have to be slaves to do our manual labor. You could choose to be trustees, servants to us who rule. Come, let us walk to New Cairo. The paths are quite easy to negotiate, Elizabeth, but if your leg bothers you, I will carry you.

In Elizabeth’s mind came a picture of her being carried under Abubakar’s arm like a sack of potatoes. “No, I don’t think that will be necessary,” she said with a shudder.

As they walked the paths through the trees, they could sometimes see the tops of what resembled pyramids in the distance. When the path suddenly ended, they were at the edge of a hundred-foot drop, overlooking a valley with a dozen pyramids in various stages of construction. At the center of these pyramids was a Sphinx, looking very much like it had been dropped here from Egypt, except that the creature had been fashioned to look like one of the beasts of this land.

“Will you look at that, Edward?” said Elizabeth, sounding like she was in a trance. “Quite impressive, isn’t it… Edward? Where is he?”

He’s left us. He used a combination of skepticism and fascination to cover his true feelings, which allowed him to step off the path unbeknownst to me. He could be very valuable to us…

From behind them, swinging on a vine from out of one of the final trees before the drop-off came Edward, always the hero. The vine was the correct length, and he plowed unerringly into Abubakar, sending him over the precipice and into the valley below.

“Edward! What have you done?” shouted Elizabeth. 

“He almost had you, Elizabeth,” said Edward. “He almost had us.”

Edward pointed at the valley below them. There, instead of beautifully formed pyramids, was a mining operation. Hundreds of yeti-like beings and dozens of humans were toiling, overseen by a few beings that looked like Abubakar. It was dusty and dirty, and those who fell behind received the lash.

“Abubakar took over our minds and put pictures of our dimension into them to get us to go with it,” said Elizabeth. “How did you break away, Edward?”

“While it was talking, my mind started to wander…as usual.”

“Looks like your chronic inability to stay focused saved us,” said Elizabeth. “The suns are starting to set; we should probably find a place to sleep or at least get some rest.”

“Yeah, but tomorrow we better get as far from this place as we can.”

“I think I can help you with that,” said a voice from the heavy brush behind them. “There is another door very close to us that will take you to a place where you won’t have to be in constant fear for your lives. Interested?”

Elizabeth and Edward whirled around, guns drawn, and prepared for fight or flight.

“Excellent!” said the voice. “Exactly what we are looking for.”

“Marcovici said: ‘Don’t trust anybody.’ Why should we listen to you?” asked Elizabeth.

“Come out where we can see you,” said Edward. “We won’t shoot you unless you force us to.”

A young woman dressed in an expensive business suit came out from behind the greenery with her hands raised. “I’m Rose,” she said. “We’ve been monitoring your behavior since you came through the first door at Marcovici’s store.”

“Who’s we?” said Elizabeth, keeping her gun leveled at Rose.

“You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” answered Rose.

“Try us,” said Elizabeth.

“I and a dozen others work with people whose ancestors originally came from another galaxy to Earth six million years ago—”

“You were right; we don’t believe you,” said Elizabeth. “Come on, Edward, we need to put some distance between us and that mining operation.”

“How about if I show you?” said Rose. She took out what appeared to be a cell phone and did some keying. Three feet from her, a large door appeared out of nowhere.

“Okay,” said Edward, “so now I’m hearing that weird background music that’s in horror movies just before something really bad happens.”

“That is pretty much what Janna said,” laughed Rose. “You’ll make a great team.”

“All right, you’ve got our attention,” said Elizabeth. “Who’s this Janna and why us?”

“Janna was chosen for a mission after being vetted by our people,” said Rose. “She’s intelligent, honest, kind, adventuresome, and, most importantly, has a blood type that is perfect for our needs.”

“The music’s getting louder and more insistent, Elizabeth,” said Edward. “That need for a certain blood type business almost always gets good people dead.”

“Please,” said Rose, “let me lay it out for you, and then you can decide if what we’re asking for is evil, or whatever.”

“We’re listening,” said Elizabeth. “Make us believe.” 

More to Come

Roy Dorman,, who wrote BP #84’s “Goodbye to Nowhere Land” and “Nobody Should Be at 1610 Maple St.” (+ BP #83’s “Door #2”; BP #82’s “A Nowhere Friend” & “Foundling”; BP #81’s “Nowhere Man in Nowhere Land” & “The Box with Pearl Inlay”; BP #80’s “Andrew’s War” & “Down at the Hardware Store”; BP #79’s “Cellmates” & “Get Some Shelter,” BP #78’s “All Is as It Should Be,” BP #77’s “Essence of Andrew,” BP #76’s “Flirting with the Alley,” BP #75’s “The Enemy of My Enemy…” BP #74’s “Doesn’t Play Well with Others,” BP #73’s “A Journey Starts with a Flower,” BP #72’s “The Beach House,” BP #71’s “The Big Apple Bites,” BP #70’s “Borrowing Some Love” and BP #69’s “Back in Town” and “Finding Good Help…”), is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Birds Piled Loosely, Burningword Literary Journal, Cease Cows, Cheapjack Pulp, Crack The Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Fiction Press, Gap-Toothed Madness, Gravel, Lake City Lights, Near To The Knuckle, Shotgun Honey, The Creativity Webzine, Theme of Absence, The Screech Owl, The Story Shack, & Yellow Mama.

Site Maintained by Fossil Publications