Black Petals Issue #96, Summer, 2021

Dark Resurrection
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Dark Resurrection-Fiction by Michael Hopkins
A Dip in the Pool-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Far Down in the Credits-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Guilt Trip-Fiction by James Flynn
Ky'thagra's Big Day-Fiction by Devin Marcus
Larger Prey-Fiction by Richard Brown
Lover-Fiction by N. G. Leonetti
Ort's Last Undertaking-Fiction by Taylor Hood
Sail Away-Fiction by Chris Allyne
Sleeping Again-Fiction by Russ Bickerstaff
The Poison Doorway-Fiction by Dionosio Traverso Jr.
The Tick Bite-Fiction by Robb T. White
Bake Sale Inspiration-Flash Fiction by Samantha Carr
Hotel with Full Amenities-Flash Fiction by William Kitcher
Reincarnation Jeopardy-Flash Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Sex Fiend-Flash Fiction by Karen Bayly
Witches' Sabbath-Poem by Mike Collins
Blood-Poem by Mike Collins
Death's Pornography-Poem by Mike Collins
Temptation-Poem by Mike Collins
Painting Light-Poem by Mike Collins
Dark Waltz-Poem by Marilyn Lou Berry
The Last Victim of Vlad the Impaler-Poem by Mehmet Akgonul
The Bravest Ant-Poem by Mehmet Akgonul
Ain't Alien Spores-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Giant Goldfish-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Igopogo-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Megamouth Has Cavities-Poem by Richard Stevenson

bp_96_darkresurrection_knowles.jpg
Art by Mike Knowles 2021

   Dark Resurrection

    by

    Michael Hopkins

 

            The first policeman stepped into the shadowy barn. He slipped on something moist.  His nose curled from the smell of…he wasn’t sure… rotten meat? His mind tried to comprehend what hung from the rafters: it dripped gelatinous matter. His chest heaved and he swallowed back bile and breakfast. His partner entered, looked up, drew his gun, and ordered Zasha Semenov to come down.  Zasha bowed, seized two control bars, and started a performance. The police watched, eerily entranced, and then startled, the first policeman shouted, “Drop your weapons!” Both officers opened fire until the magazines of their Glocks were empty.

#    #    #

Zasha delighted in her remote, country life. As early as she could remember, her favorite activity was to walk through the woods, to get lost in the woods, to jump over the countless small streams on her parent’s acreage, to talk to the birds and squirrels, and, to the trees – mostly to the trees.

The first toys her parents gave her were puppets. By the age of six she was a skilled puppeteer, by ten she was able to use control bars and strings to make them sit, walk, dance, and bow.

Her parents, Adrik and Anastasia Semenov, emigrated from Russia before Zasha was born. Their expertise in the art and science of puppet making enabled a modest living. They sold their toys at specialty shops and craft fairs.  Then, a set of coincidences led to a contract from the Salzberg Marionette Theater in Austria for a whole cast of life-sized puppets to support the theater’s performance of The Sound of Music. Broadway called next. The husband and wife team gained worldwide renown.

Zasha was trained in the family craft and her own skills grew quickly.  While her parents struggled with fluency in English, Zasha’s ability to switch back and forth between Russian and English was effortless. Where her mother did most of the fine carving, and her father designed and assembled the mechanics of movement, Zasha was skilled at both.

Into her teenage years, Zasha never tired of walks through the woods. Until the day she sat on one of the many stumps, a great basswood tree that had been felled for puppet material. She shut her eyes and listened to the wind, soon she realized there was no wind. It was screams she heard, not human screams, something more organic. Jagged. Agony. She realized it was the trees.

She ran from the woods, chased by shrieks of fear, sobs of pain, and cries for help. Her parents were in the barn when Zasha entered, hands pressed hard against her ears, now screaming herself.  She opened her eyes and saw both parents perched over logs, stripping the bark with drawknives, piles of the basswood’s flayed skin on the ground. She picked up a claw hammer and attacked her parents.

I wanted the screaming to stop, she told the Doctors, I wanted my parents to stop the torture.

After many months, Zasha’s doctors settled on a combination of medications to stabilize what they labeled was a schizophrenic break with reality.

Zasha stopped working with her parents, and spent her days walking through the woods. The screams had stopped. She gradually noticed something else. The wind swayed the tops of the trees, the leaves of the trees breathing, she could hear their roots drink water and draw nutrients from he ground. The birds picked at insects, squirrels ate nuts, clouds passed the sun, sunlight caressed the earth, colors shape shifted, and coalesced—it was all one, she thought, all interconnected. She was one, she was everything, and she was nothing; her breath the breath of the trees; her heartbeat attached to the pulse beneath the soil.

To destroy this, she thought, justified punishment.

#    #    #

After being put on administrative leave, the first policeman disappeared through a labyrinth of drug houses and homeless shelters. The second policeman, unable to remove the images of the Semenov’s grotesque smiles from his mind, settled on a shotgun as the final cure.

#    #    #

Zasha sat in a metal chair, at a metal desk, in a twelve-by-twelve interrogation room. “Why did you do this?” they asked.

#    #    #

In the barn, the policemen took out their guns. The investigation revealed that after overpowering her parents, Zasha worked for weeks. She flayed them, removed all the skin except on their torsos, and left them intact from their genital area to their necks. She dismembered the bodies at every joint, reattached the hands, feet, and sections of arms and legs, randomly between the two torsos. She switched the heads, stitched facial expressions. She hung them from an elaborate rope and control bar system in the barn rafters.

Now with an audience, she made her parent’s hug, separate, and dance, in what one officer would say was like that Riverdance stuff.  Zasha raised her parent’s arms and the puppets pointed the wooden revolvers that she carved and painted with meticulous precision, at the officers.

The police fired off thirty 9mm bullets in four seconds. The meat puppets hung in parts: shattered bone, ripped muscle, and blobs of organs.

#    #    #

Why? Zasha’s mind skipped back and forth between Russian and English.  Yes, she thought, the key was in her parent’s names: Adrik meaning dark, Anastasia meaning resurrection. Dark Resurrection. She felt transformed, completed, destined before the beginning of time to be the defender, the rightful owner—of everything.

Why did I do it? She thought in Russian, Ya Bog, and spoke the last words she would ever utter:

I AM GOD.

Michael Hopkins was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His book and music criticism has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Scene (WI), and Magnet magazine. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering from Drexel University. His stories have won awards from Glimmer Train and The Mill. His short fiction has been published in Millwork, Pleiades, 365 Tomorrows, Wisconsin People and Ideas, and Moss Piglet.  He is the winner of the 2018 Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters annual fiction contest, and 3rd place winner in the 2019 contest. He lives on a small Farm in Wisconsin, with his wife and their dog, cats, chickens, and bees.

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