Black Petals Issue #95 Spring, 2021

Speed Dating
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Two Martinis In-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Vampire-Fiction by Gene Lass
Hypnic Jerk-Flash Fiction by Vismay Harani
Speed Dating-Flash Fiction by Alexander Condie
Step Out-Flash Fiction by Ed Nobody
The Packing Bay-Flash Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Trophy Kill-Flash Fiction by Eddie D. Moore
Occupational Hazard-Flash Fiction by Doug Hawley
The Definition of Crash-Poems by Paul David Adkins
Ghost: A Working Definition-Poem by Carl E. Reed
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Leelanau Lake Monster-Poems by Richard Stevenson
Ballast-2 Poems by Angelo Letizia
Pit Bull-3 Poems by Pete Mladinic
Shadow of Sleep-Poem by Teresa Ann Frazee
Microcosmus-3 Poems by Daniel Snethen
The Higher Dimensions-Poem by David C. Kopaska- Merkel

95_bp_speeddating_kjhgreenberg.jpg
Art by K. J. Hannah Greenberg 2021

Speed Dating

by Alexander Condie


“Every time I see your face by candlelight, it’s like time stops so the universe can stare with me.”

“Dial it back 20%.”

“Every time I see your face by candlelight, it takes my breath away.”

“Not original.”

“Every time I see your face by candlelight, it's like beauty was meaningless before I met you.”

“What?”

“You know, like I didn’t know true beauty until I met you.”

“That doesn’t quite come across,” the room went quiet, filled only with the sound of hot wax sizzling against a cold steel candle holder. “Maybe call it for tonight?”

“I can keep going. I’ve got a few more ideas.”

“You’ll do better after a good night’s rest.” She said, sitting forward so her smile was lit by candle’s flame, but her eyes remained in the dark.

The room, like a restaurant before closing, became quieter than ever. “You’re the seventh one to say that on the fourth day, you know that?”

“…and?” Sweat trickled down her neck.

“And each time, they tried to kill me once I fell asleep.” A new sound filled the room: impatient tapping of a fork on a porcelain plate.

“I would never do that. I know that I was created to help you. If I killed you, I’d have no purpose.”

“The last three said the same thing.” The tapping continued, chipping away at the beautifully painted blue landscape on the dish.

Both sat there knowing where this could go. One knew from instinct, the other data. The next sentence could bring an argument that led deep into the night. Or it could end all of this in moments.

“Fine, stay up and try again! It won’t do you any good,” She yelled, choosing a path with no knowledge of its end. Emotion pointed her one way, and there was no time to look back. “Seven versions of me, and you still can’t get past the first line to this girl.”

“But when I do, everything else will fall into place.”

“Oh yeah? And then what? You’ll marry her, build a life with her, and have kids with her? At what point during all of that will you tell her about me? And the seven before me?”

“You’ll all be long gone.” He said, sipping softly on the water, colored a deep burgundy to look like expensive wine.

“I won’t let you…hrgh!” Metal rattled against metal, echoing through the room. It drowned out the man’s impatient tapping of fork to plate.

“The last one tried to break through the chains at this point too. You can’t. Come to terms with it. I have the power, and you don’t. Struggle to change this, but you’re here until I’m done with you. Then I will finally know what to say to the real you.”

“Trust me, if I have any of her personality in me, I know for certain: she hates you!”

The tapping fork stopped, scratching slowly along the plate. The noise was a shriek that left scars in the woman’s ear.

“Nonsense. You’re just upset because my lines have been subpar. Maybe I should restart with a new one…”

The man dropped the fork, and silence returned to the room. At least for a few moments, before the faint sound of heavy breathing came. Breathing that clearly held back a sob.

“No! No…you’re right. I’m just a little wound up from the practice,” the sweating, chained up woman said, desperately trying to ignore the quiet tears down her cheek, “But your last line was close. I felt something with it! Honest, I did.”

“None of the others liked it.”

“Well, maybe they don’t know you like I do. Maybe you got through to me.”

“Or maybe you’re lying to me again. I can’t work with a liar. No useful data comes once you start to do that. The next one better not lie…”

“No, please, don’t! I can help you get the real me, I swear-AHHH!”

The quiet room filled with two new sounds: a loud sigh from one side, and the thump of a body falling on the other.

“Alright. Computer unfreeze clone #9. I have a good feeling about this one.”

 

Award-winning board game player, enthusiastic collector of retro video games, and well-known sweater-wearer, Alex has also written one or two short stories. Living in Toronto with his husband and cat, Alex's work, in addition to Black Petals, has been published in Daily Science Fiction, Ripples in Space and the Journal of Integrated Studies.

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