Black Petals Issue #105, Autumn, 2023

BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary-Chris Friend
Cards Fiction by Gene Lass
Barfly: Fiction by Gene Lass
Case Study: Fiction by Martin Taulbut
Delivery: Fiction by David Kloepfer
Joy (noun): a source of delight: Fiction by Noah Levin
Master of Dream: Fiction by Ash Ibrahim
Nightshade: Fiction by Adam Vine
Red Popsicles: Fiction by Caitlyn Pace
Temporally Closed: Fiction by J. Elliott
The Mansion Dwellers: Fiction by Robb White
Time for a Change: Fiction by Lamont A. Turner
Bernie's Friends: Flash Fiction by Phil Temples
Death Visits the Sapling Trust: Flash Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Monster: Flash Fiction by Zvi A. Sesling
Sleep: Flash Fiction by Kurt Hohmann
Welcome, Ghouls: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Ode to Chateau Marmont: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Cadaver Dogs: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Phases of the Moon: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
The Darkest Octave: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Green Man Standing: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
The Day That Mary Went Away: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
The Northern Migration of Souls: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Gone West: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
If I Scream: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Witchery: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Carry On: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
The Song of the Dead: Poem by Ben Huber

Cindy Rosmus: Welcome, Ghouls

Art by Bernice Holtzman 2023







Cindy Rosmus



          “You’re goin’ out?” Mary’s Pop said. “At night?”

          “Trick-or-treating,” Mary said. “With Greta and Noreen.”

          In the doorway, Pop shuffled his feet, itching to get to Lenny’s.

          Figures, Mary thought. Just for spite, her Mom had told Pop before he started drinking.

          “You ain’t goin’!” he said. “Stay here, Baby, where it’s safe.” Mary’s mom smirked.

Mary fought back tears. Sometimes she hated her folks. They were as weird, and old as the building they lived in. Out of all the kids in St. Peter’s eighth grade, only Mary lived in a crummy apartment.

“All you need is more candy,” her Mom said, once Pop left.

Mary’s school uniform did feel tight. The mean kids always laughed at her. “Don’t cry,” Noreen had said, kindly. Their classmates hated her, too.

This year, Mary hadn’t even planned a costume. Maybe drape a sheet over her “Lard Ass,” and be a ghost. She couldn’t be Cleopatra, since she wasn’t allowed to wear eye makeup. Now she wouldn’t be anything.

“That’s OK,” Greta said, when Mary called. “I figured they’d say no.”

Mary was all cried-out, by now. “Me, too.”

“We’ll share our candy with you,” Greta added.

In a bowl by the door were fun-sized Milky Way bars. In case trick-or-treaters showed up.

Fat chance, Mary thought. Nobody trick-or-treated in apartment houses.

‘Cept for her. Years back, their building was the only place her folks would let her trick or treat. . . .

“Awwww . . .” Drunk Mrs. Luddy in 1C had said. “What’re you supposed to be, sweetie?”

In a huge pink dress, Mary wished she were dead.

“A fairy princess!” Mary’s mom had said, for her. She jammed a plastic wand in Mary’s hand, forced her to wave it.

Mrs. Luddy laughed hoarsely. “Ooooh, maybe I’ll win on the horses!”

          It was still early. Maybe trick-or-treaters would show up. Mary pulled a kitchen chair near the bowl of candy and eyed it, hungrily.

          Hours, she sat there. Around her, it got dark, so the shabby apartment looked like a haunted house.

“Get outta that yard!” her mom screamed out the window. “You kids don’t live there!” Mary groaned.

Her mom loved screaming at kids, period. One peek at the three tall ghouls told Mary they were unrecognizable. How would her mom know where they lived?

Most kids would scream “Fuck you!” back at her. These kids were silent. Mary got a bad feeling. She wished Pop were home.

A hideous face appeared in the window. They both shrieked.

This was no mask. The way the face churned, and sneered, made Mary think of demons. “The Devil’s Holiday,” Sister Stephen always called Halloween. Now Mary knew it was true.

Clawlike hands scratched at the window. At the same time, someone rattled the doorknob. Mary’s mom started crying.

“Where are you going?” she said, as Mary ran to the door.

“Mary!” Pop’s voice said. “Let me in!”

Mary’s hand froze on the knob. Pop never called her “Mary.” He’d called her “Baby” all her life.

“Let your father in!” her mom screamed.

And never came home this early.  Mary watched the doorknob jiggle as the scratching on the window got wilder.

“Mary!” Pop’s voice said. “It’s time to go trick-or-treating.”

He snickered.




Cindy originally hails from the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ, once voted the “unfriendliest city on the planet.” She talks like Anybodys from West Side Story and everybody from Saturday Night Fever. Her noir/horror/bizarro stories have been published in the coolest places, such as Shotgun HoneyMegazineDark DossierThe Rye Whiskey Review, Under the Bleachers, and Rock and a Hard Place. She is the editor/art director of Yellow Mama and the art director of Black Petals. She’s published seven collections of short stories. Cindy is a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights advocate.

Bernice Holtzman’s paintings and collages have appeared in shows at various venues in Manhattan, including the Back Fence in Greenwich Village, the Producer’s Club, the Black Door Gallery on W. 26th St., and one other place she can’t remember, but it was in a basement, and she was well received.

Site Maintained by Fossil Publications