Black Petals Issue #95 Spring, 2021

The Packing Bay
BP Editorial Page
BP Artist's Page
BP Guidelines
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Blue Meet-Fiction by George Aitch
Dark Alleyways-Fiction by Adam Phillips
Iris' Vanity-Fiction by Tristan Miller
Scalp Cleanse-Fiction by Kajetan Kwiatkowski
The Muscus-Fiction by Alice Stone
The Wrong Place-Fiction by Ante Caleta
Things That Happen-Fiction by Guido Eekhaut
Tidal Horror-Fiction by Sal Braden
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
Vampiric Threnody-Poem by Carl E. Reed
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

Art by Hillary Lyon 2021

The Packing Bay


Kenneth James Crist


Margaux’s dad opened the ponderous, creaking door and said, “and this is the final packaging line, Sweetie. Everything we ship gets wrapped and boxed and labelled right here.”

Margaux gazed down the still, silent conveyor line and at the workers, also still and silent, on both sides of the wide black belt. Each worker poised on a semi-comfortable looking stool. They were human-like, and naked, but also sexless, so nudity didn’t matter, she supposed.

“Are they machines that just look human, Daddy?”

“Well, Sweetie, they are machines, but they’re engineered from human stock, so they are actually alive. Right now, they’re asleep of course. It’s their rest period. A crew will come through later tonight and clean them and check them over for any—problems.”

Margaux gazed at the workers and at the feeding tubes and the waste-removal tubes. There was a smell, not very pleasant, but not overpowering, either.

“Aren’t they bored? Seems like this would be really boring work…”

“Well, Honey, their brains aren’t the same as ours. They’re programmed for their work and that’s really all they understand…”

Margaux looked at closed eyes, hairless heads, elongated arms and fingers. They had no legs.

“Why don’t they have legs, Daddy?”

“They don’t need legs, Sweetie, so the engineers didn’t provide them. Besides, where would they go? This is their life, right here. They are machines, almost the same as robots.”


As they passed on down the line, Margaux noticed a patch of flaking skin on the shoulder of one of the workers. From her little-girl purse, she took a small bottle of lotion. She squeezed some onto her fingers and applied it to the worker’s dry, flaking skin. “But…do they have souls, Daddy?”

Her father took her by the arm and gently pulled her away. “Mustn’t touch, Honey. The cleanup crew will take care of that later.” He avoided or ignored the soul question.

Margaux and her dad continued on down the line. In her peripheral vision, Worker 2891 watched the child. The beautiful child. The precious child, such as she would never have. Never hold. Never experience. If she’d had a mouth, she would have screamed…

From the left eye of worker 2891, a single tear rolled, down a still, expressionless cheek. The tear dropped straight down, almost in slow motion and made a tiny splash as it landed on the conveyor belt.

Kenneth James Crist is Editor Emeritus of Black Petals Magazine and is on staff at Yellow Mama ezine. He has been a published writer since 1998, having had almost two hundred short stories and poems in venues ranging from Skin and Bones and The Edge-Tales of Suspense to Kudzu Monthly. He is particularly fond of supernatural biker stories. He reads everything he can get his hands on, not just in horror or sci-fi, but in mystery, hardboiled, biographies, westerns and adventure tales. He retired from the Wichita, Kansas police department in 1992 and from the security department at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita in 2016. Now 76, he is an avid motorcyclist and handgun shooter. He is active in the American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard, helping to honor and look after our military. He is also a volunteer driver for the American Red Cross, Midway Kansas Chapter. He is the owner of Fossil Publications, a desktop publishing venture that seems incapable of making any money at all. On June the ninth, 2018, he did his first (and last) parachute jump and crossed that shit off his bucket list.

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