Black Petals Issue #94 Winter, 2021

Basement Dweller
BP Artists and Illustrators
BP Guidelines
Mars-News, Views and Commentary-Chris Friend
Basement Dweller-Fiction by Justin Swartz
The Beating of Their Wings-Fiction by Brian Maycock
Does the Bogeyman Live Downstairs?-Fiction by Clive Owen Barry
Dark Little Boxes-Fiction by C. M. Barnes
Death by Midnight-Fiction by Charlie Cancel
Forearmed-Fiction by Jan Cronos
Inconceivable-Fiction by Rich Rose
The Wolf's Den-Fiction by J. B. Polk
Treachery-Fiction by Ramon F. Irizarri
Tumour Wakes Up-Fiction by Alexis Gkantiragas
The Opal Ring-Fiction by Michael Dority
Flora and Fauna-Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
Gnaw-Flash Fiction by Tony Kidd
Mad Money-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Madonna of the Damned-Flash Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Special Teeth-Flash Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
The Death Set-4 Poems by Hillary Lyon
Five Haiku-Poems by C. D. Marcum
Misanthrope-Poem by Donna Dallas
The Wish Tree-3 poems by Christopher Hivner
Nebulous-3 poems by Juan Manuel Perez
The Sphinx at Night-5 Poems by Meg Smith
Nameless-Poem by David Barber

Art by Michael D. Davis 2021



by Justin Swartz


Something's living in our basement.

I've come to this conclusion because nobody in our family has ever gone down there. The basement door locks from the inside, and once when I tried to turn the knob, it clicked and these humongous feet pounded up the basement steps. I ran to my room, closed and locked the door, and armed myself with my Nerf dart gun. The next thing that came through my door, whether it be vampire, werewolf, or Bigfoot, was dead meat.

Turns out the next "thing" was Mom, inquiring as to why I had pelted her forehead with foam darts. I told her about my experience with whatever lived in our basement and how it never seemed to come out.

"Oh," she said, sounding surprised. "That's your brother."

My brother? Since when did I have a brother? Where had Mom been hiding this revelation at, and why was my brother locked in the basement, out of sight and out of mind? This would require further investigation, along with the acquisition of some new darts.

The next day I trekked to the basement steps, silent as a ninja, and twisted the knob on the basement door. To my surprise, it opened, and below me was a dark pit, the ultimate styngian death trap known as the basement steps.

I lifted my Nerf gun and fired a dart into the blackness.

I never heard it land.

The black hole at the bottom of the steps had swallowed it. Frightened for my life, I slammed the basement door shut and put all of my weight against it. The giant feet were assaulting the steps, each one creaking under each foot's mighty weight, until they reached the top. The door bucked against my back and threw me to the floor, and before the giant could do me bodily harm, I raced to my room and closed and locked the door.

I'd only gotten a partial glimpse of the giant that lived in the basement, but now I was convinced that he was not my brother. He was big, at least the size of an eighteen-wheeler; he was tall, about the height of the Empire State Building; and he was hairy,

Was that it? Was the giant that lived downstairs the mythical, elusive ape man known around the world as Bigfoot? Was Bigfoot my brother?

I couldn't sleep that night after Mom tucked me in. Did Bigfoot really live in our basement? If he was my brother, how were we related? And if we were related, why wasn't I big, tall, and hairy like him?

The next day I ventured to the basement steps once more, Nerf gun in hand and extra ammo strapped to my belt. I studied the various signs on the basement door. One of them read "The Otaku Lives Here." Another one read "Baka on Board." A third one read "This Is The Mole Hole--Enter At Your Own Risk." I wondered if breaking into the basement was such a good idea with all of these warning signs posted on the door, but the last thing I wanted to be called was a chicken, so I turned the knob and let the unlocked door swing open.

The basement steps were black as pitch as I took them one at a time, doing my silent ninja thing, until I reached the bottom. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness, and soon I could see a door to my right that led to what looked like a separate room inside the basement. Was this where Bigfoot lived? Was he holding my brother captive inside? I had to know!

I walked to the door and turned its knob. The door opened a little too easily, and I entered Bigfoot's residence with caution. The only light came from the blue glow of the television, which was playing some kind of giant robot cartoon. Fast food sandwich wrappers, Chinese takeout boxes, empty soda cans, and wadded-up tissues littered the floor of Bigfoot's living room. A couch to my left had dirty clothes draped all over it. A makeshift kitchen to my right was smothered with moldy dishes and drinking glasses. And for the grand finale, Bigfoot's smelly sneakers were hanging from a blade of the ceiling fan overhead.

Wait a minute. Bigfoot didn't wear sneakers. Bigfoot didn't wear clothes. And Bigfoot didn't eat off dishes.

What was going on here?

The floor creaked under my feet. The whole room shook, like in an earthquake, as the giant stepped into the living room from the adjoining bedroom. His eyes, like burning, smoking coals, fell to me, and I did the only thing that came to mind.

I let the giant have it with all six darts in my Nerf gun.

Unfortunately, this didn't faze the giant, for he plucked each of the darts off of his body and threw them on the floor. Then he growled at me, roared his rage, and spoke the words that today still haunt me to my very soul.

"You're gonna get it now, dweeb!"

I'll admit to being chicken right about then. Silent ninja skills don't amount to crap when a giant comes after you. I dumped the Nerf gun and sprinted up the basement steps, the giant eating up the ground as he tore after me, yelling incoherently in his fury. When I reached the basement door, Mom was standing in my way, holding a much larger Nerf gun that was aimed at the giant.

"Oh, good!" she said. "You two are just in time for dinner. Care to join me?"

I stepped into the kitchen and saw the table completely laid out for dinner. The giant paused behind me, grunted curiously, and took a seat across from Mom. Mom kept her Nerf gun at her side as we ate, with my eyes on the giant, and Mom's eyes on me. She smiled whenever I glanced her way, and she asked the giant questions like "Is it good?" and "How was your day?" and also "Did you clean your apartment?" The giant made guttural responses to each question, and I couldn't tell if they stood for yes or no. As soon as the giant was finished with his cheeseburger casserole, he stood from the table, growled at me, and returned to his basement dwelling, locking the door in the process.

I asked Mom who the giant was that lived in the basement and why he had joined us for dinner.

"Silly," Mom said with a smile. "That's your brother. He's too old to live upstairs with us, so I gave him the downstairs apartment in the basement."

I asked Mom what the giant did down there all day.

"What all guys his age do," she answered. "Watch anime, play video games, update his Facebook status, read comic know, the usual."

It didn't sound all that different from what I did all day, but I didn't tell Mom that. I didn't tell Mom much of anything, especially when she was still carrying that humongous Nerf gun around.

"Besides, it's only for the summer," Mom said as she rose from the table. "When college starts up again, he'll be off to the dorm, and he can make a mess out of their stuff."

Mom cleaned dishes while I finished my dinner and went to my room. So the giant living downstairs in the basement was my brother? I still didn't believe it. How could I have a brother who spent all of his time in the dark and didn't clean up after himself?

I went to bed that night a little nervous and a little wary of what the giant might do now that I knew the layout of his secret dwelling and his true identity. As I reached for my Nerf gun, just to have it handy, I realized it wasn't there, and remembered where I had left it: in the giant's living room, downstairs in the basement. He had it now, along with a full complement of darts, and my thoughts turned to the gruesome possibilities of the revenge he would exact on me now that he was armed and dangerous.

As a precaution, I climbed out of bed and went to lock my bedroom door. When my fingers brushed the lock, the door blew open and the giant stormed inside, aiming my Nerf gun at my head.

"It's time for some revenge, dweeb!" the giant growled at me.

And I screamed...



Justin Swartz grew up near Pittsburgh, and now resides in south central Pennsylvania. He has been published in Gary Lovisi's "Hardboiled" and the e-zines Yellow Mama & Dead Guns Press. You can read more of Justin's work here:

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