Black Petals Issue #94 Winter, 2021


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 Hillary Lyon 2021



Jan Cronos


It felt weird, walking in a schoolyard. There were swings, shiny green seesaws, and a metal jungle gym where you could swing from bar to bar. That is, if you were three feet tall. Kelly grunted, flexing her muscles. She remembered the military obstacle courses where she’d excelled.  Her nose wrinkled. The air stunk of flowers.

Her memories of her early school days were foggy. In high school there were splintered benches, scratchy weeds and cracked windows. She winced at the memory of the priest’s hard hands beating her bare ass. He panted so hard she knew he had a hard-on. Kelly snorted. Sometimes she’d fart in his horny face. She dropped out before she flunked out. Later, she enlisted.

A woman at the desk stared, raising an eyebrow as Kelly strode in.

“I’m Sgt. Kelly Sloan. They told me to report here.”

 “Oh. They told us you’d be coming.” The woman motioned. “In there. They’ll be in soon.”

“I’m ready for whatever,” Kelly said. War was war. Now, though, the world was mad. Kids were killing kids. Politicians said the answer was more guns.

          The room had a long table and smaller desks with chairs. The walls were pale blue. Crayoned drawings decorated corkboards in pastel blues and purples. There were also black silhouettes of human beings for target practice.

          Wiggling her behind, Kelly farted. Training toddlers to shoot. That’s what they needed her to do. Not really a job for an ex-marine. And they had insisted on a female. Feminism was bullshit but sometimes it gave you an edge. And the money
was frickin’ good. 

“Damn!” Kelly flinched at the whirr of tracer fire.  Hidden snipers fired at her. She whirled, drawing her weapon. She paused. There was no one there. Frowning, she stroked her firearm. It was loaded with military grade RIPes, Radically Invasive Projectiles.  She preferred them because, if one hit you, it split your insides. A wounded enemy could kill you. A dead one was crap. Since the war ended, there was no one for her to shoot but ghosts.  

With a sigh, Kelly holstered the gun. I’ve gone nuts, she whispered. She rubbed her shaved skull. No, not nuts. PTSD the docs said. Beer dribbled memories as she drank.

A fat pimple on her nose itched. She squeezed it and burped. She was drinking too much. “I’m no frickin’ alcoholic,” she muttered. But she needed it. The beer drowned out the noises in her head.  

What the hell am I doing here. I’m too damn old. Abruptly, chatter ricocheted off the walls, high-pitched and cheery. Little kids filed in, giggling. Pig-tailed piglets in pink damask and tousle-haired porkies waddled on pudgy legs.

Squeezing the empty beer can, she squashed it, then hurled the tin into a bin.

With a frown, Kelly squared her shoulders and farted. The kids near her shrieked. Grinning, she laid another one down. It was fun, just like high school. “Haven’t you ever smelled one before,” she joked.

The kids squealed. Kelly raised her arms and displayed her guns,

A redhead stuck out her tongue and Kelly growled.

Most of the kiddies toted new blue backpacks. She guessed they were bursting with mommy’s chocolate brownies, freshly micro-waved and gooey. Maybe even a furry teddy.

Scowling, Kelly barked, “Attention! And shut the hell up!” Instantly, the kids lined up in straight rows. Kelly nodded. So, they’d had some training.  A squad of tiny cadets.  At her command, they placed their packs down on the table.

Moving down the line, Kelly checked each armored backpack.  They were top of the line with no weak spots in the laminated Kevlar. Drawing her weapon, Kelly fired in the air.  The explosive sound rocked the room. Plaster fell from the ceiling where the shell had ripped a jagged hole. Kids were crying and scattering all over the room.  Glaring, she ordered them back.  “You have to stand your ground under fire,” she yelled.  

When they quieted down, she inspected the blue-metal “Tot-Twenty Sixes” holstered in a quick-draw pocket of the packs. This latest version of the ‘Tot-Twenty-Two” had three times the fire power and a smaller grip, easier for little fingers to grab onto. Nodding, she demonstrated how to operate the safety, how to use a bore brush, and how to replace the modular magazine. Afterwards, she drilled them until they whimpered as baby biceps burned.

Coldness dripped down Kelly’s arms.  She stretched. She was drenched with sweat but it felt good. Screw the shrink who said she couldn’t handle it. Flashing a grin, she nodded at the group. When a little blonde girl dropped her weapon on the ground, Kelly raised a finger in warning. Then she spat at a curly head who was sobbing. She had to get them ready. A shooter might break in at any time.

At noon, Kelly allowed the kids a milk and cookies break, even gulped a pint, gagging at the sweetness. When the door opened, Kelly whipped out her weapon.  Four young assistant teachers with blond braids cried out. Exhaling, Kelly apologized. It was recess.

After they left with the kids, Kelly sat alone, gobbling freeze-dried MLRPes. She drummed her fingers to the jody,  Iraqi Blues. Bored, she stared out the window at the sexy female assistants, at smooth, lean legs and firm breasts. Diddling her crotch, Kelly moaned, squeezing her thighs together. Damn it, she knew she wasn’t getting any.

Later, Kelly drilled the young guns in marksmanship.  The kids fired repeatedly at human targets. One brunette doll-face had a sniper’s precision. Kelly felt proud.

She jerked at the shrill whine of laser fire.  Snipers were everywhere! Whirling, Kelly fired repeatedly. Explosive blasts reverberated. Then there was silence. A wisp of smoke curled in the air.

Kelly’s head ached. The only kid left alive sat on the floor and whimpered.

 Jan Cronos lives and writes in New York City, everything ranging from flash fiction pieces to poems and short stories.

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