Black Petals Issue #85, Autumn, 2018

Mars-News, Views and Commentary

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Bottle Music-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Bridge to Forever-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Door County Getaway-Fiction by Roy Dorman
It's Out There-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Napper's Holler-Chapter 4-Continuing Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Napper's Holler-Chapter 5-Continuing Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Napper's Holler-Chapter 6-Continuing Fiction by A. M. Stickel
The Gift-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Gifted Ones-Fiction by David Powell
The Seeker-Fiction by Ken Hueler
Blood/Brain Barrier-6 Poems by Will H. Blackwell, Jr.

Autumn, 2018-Chris Friend


     Happy fall, you-all! One of my favorite mid-winter subjects has to be the Wild Hunt. This eldritch activity has many versions. In some, the Norse god Odin is the leader, but during the Christian era the leader was Lucifer himself. In a few versions the hunt is led by the ghosts of men who cared more about hunting than going to church, and were thus damned to the eternal hunt. In one story the hunt was led by a man who prayed that he would be allowed to hunt forever and was granted his wish by leading the dark hunt as a ghost.

For my purposes the hunt is led by a shadowy figure who travels the mid-winter skies with a devilish entourage of ghosts, fairies, the undead, and howling hell-hounds, out for weary souls who may have made the mistake of wandering about on this the longest night of the year. For many of the ancients the hunt was a clear omen of death and Christians were warned against being out on that dark night when the huntsmen went looking for souls to steal.

     The original leader of the hunt may have been the mother of all witches—Hecate. She is possibly one of the oldest deities in all of folklore. Her origins are Greek and she was often described as leading a grand procession of ghosts, fairies, and hell-hounds quite similar to the Wild Hunt of Northern Europe.     
      Also described as having three faces, she became an obvious guardian of the crossroads, a notoriously uncanny place. As Great Queen of the Underworld, she ruled over ghosts, fairies, and other spirits. During the Christian era Hecate became an especially terrifying spirit, who might cast a curse on the innocent. Halloween night was notably a bad night to run into this terrible apparition. In earlier times it was considered a good idea to leave offerings to Hecate to pacify her. One such offering was a cake covered in candles, which evolved into our modern birthday cake. Later, Christian shrines were erected at crossroads to make them more respectable and possibly to ward off spooks such as Hecate…


Over many years I’ve developed a great respect for one of the most controversial horror films ever—The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974 version). Frequently shown on the sci-fi channel, it has become one of, if not my favorite, horror films. Often criticized for being very gory, we actually see little bloodshed. I’m not saying that it’s not a repellent film with much cruelty, but most is off-camera. Director T. Hooper was actually going for a PG rating—fat chance! Loosely based on the murders of Ed Gein, Hooper got inspired while Christmas shopping in a crowded mall and wondered how much damage a chainsaw might do to shoppers. At least this is what I once heard.

The plot starts out with a bunch of young people who travel through Texas to check on their family graveyard after a series of cemetery vandalisms. At one point they pick up a Manson-like hitchhiker who takes photos of the young people and insists that he be paid for them. When refused he goes on a slashing spree and gets thrown out of the young folks’ van. It pretty much gets worst from there. I have gotten to admire it more and more due to the stark realism of this low budget wonder. The dirty, sordid family of sickos recalls the Manson family’s murders. It is an unflinching look at how monstrously evil human beings can be. And the low budget production values add to the sense of mayhem. In my opinion, avoid the sequels and remakes and stick with this shocking original cult classic—recommended for mature audiences only, since it’s truly horrifying. Happy Halloween, Earthlings!


Demons Play Flutes


Made from bones of lost children,

Music slides across the hills,

Blights crops with dark enchantment.

The blood moon slinks

Like a ghost in limbo,

Powdering the earth

With bitter witchery.


Chris Friend,, of Parkersberg, W.Va , wrote BP’s fall 2018 poem, “Demons Play Flutes” (+ BP # 84’s poems, “The Sentinel” and “Psalm of Mithra”; the BP #81 poem set, “Angel of the Bereft, “Beauty’s Sleep,” & “Dark Trinity”; the BP #80 poem, “The Temple of Colors”; BP #79 poems, “The Marquis” and “My Bloody Valentine”; the BP #78 poem, “The Old Yule Goat”; BP #77’s 4-poem set: “At 50,” “Owls,” “Vintage Halloween,” & “Xmas in the Doll Asylum”; BP #76’s 4-poem set: “Hag Fairy Communion,” “Love’s Sepulcher,” “Night Wanderer,” & “St. Andrew’s Feast”; 2 poems for BP #75, “Angel of the Pagan Dead” and “Churchyard Watcher”; BP #72’s 2-poem set, “Ed Gein” & “Sour Puss”; and the 2008 poem “All Hallows’ Eve”), writes and illustrates our “MARS News” column. He did a cover for Black Petals back in 2000 for the fall issue, and has been around ever since. BP keeps up two websites for him and prints his column seasonally. Chris has a gallery at and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].

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