Black Petals Issue #107, Spring, 2024

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(After) Life is What You Make It: Fiction by Richard Brown
Gauche Cuisine: Fiction by Gordon L. Stewart
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Insights Into the Trajectory of Human Cetacean Communication: Fiction by Andre Bertolino
Mal Ojo: Fiction by M. N. Wiggins
No Dark: Fiction by Bill Dougherty
Overtime: Fiction by Dennison Sleeper
A Cut Above the Rest: Fiction by Roy Dorman
Resemblance: Fiction by James McIntire
Sign of the Times: Fiction by Liam A. Spinage
The Attic Party: Fiction by Michael Fowler
The Renovators: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Balance: Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Bawk Dark: Flash Fiction by Michael C. Jessen
The Incident With the Mismatched Man: Flash Fiction by Charles C. Cole
Radio Tower: Flash Fiction by Blair Orr
Take Me With You: Flash Fiction by Steven French
Slippery: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Where Dead Babies Come From: Poem by Nolcha Fox
302 Asylum Avenue: Poem by Joseph Danoski
Another Story: Poem by Joseph Danoski
Home Repairs: Poem by Joseph Danoski
A Creepy Leap Year: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Funeral Memorial: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
BatGrl: Poem by Casey Renee Kiser
Twin Flame: Poem by Casey Renee Kiser
Shadow Play: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Dark Ride: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Leviathans of the Void: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Sunbursts: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Into the Eyes: Poem by Anthony Bernstein
Airtime: Poem by Peter Mladinic
Gloria: Poem by Peter Mladinic
The Sorcerer: Poem by C. Walker
Frozen Eve: Poem by C. Walker

Roy Dorman: A Cut Above the Rest

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Art by Michael D. Davis 2024

A CUT ABOVE THE REST

 

Roy Dorman

 

     The wendigo stood motionless in the woods near the double-wide trailer listening to the troubled sounds coming from within it. They were the sounds of an animal caught in a trap that was struggling to free itself. The wendigo had heard these sounds many times before.

     It had traveled from its home in northern Ontario and had arrived in northern Wisconsin a few months ago. There had been a territorial dispute with a younger wendigo in Ontario and this wendigo had accepted the fact that it would lose any physical battle to the younger upstart. 

     It was over a hundred years old. Not that old for a wendigo, but still old.

     The flight to Wisconsin had been long and tiring. The wendigo was more gaunt than usual from the lack of food and the energy flying had used. 

     This getting old business was getting old. But it had all of northern Wisconsin to itself and it would settle in to stay.

     The wendigo was puzzled. Humans lived in dwellings like this. Would a human have been caught in a trap in their own dwelling?

     Though it had been a human itself a hundred years ago, it still often wondered at their behavior.

***

     Ellen Sanders whimpered as she struggled to free herself. She was tied hand and foot to one of her kitchen chairs and was both frightened and angry.

     What if he didn’t come back? He might be gone for days. 

     And knowing she’d have to pee soon just added to her frustration.

     Her boyfriend, Randy Fenton, had left in a huff after tying her up. Ellen had been giving him a haircut, just a trim, in the bathroom when he’d exploded.

     “That looks like hell,” he’d said, his hands on the sink and his face an angry mask in the mirror. “You call that a decent cut?”

     “I can fix it,” Ellen had stammered. “It just needs a little more off the side —”

     “Just shut the fuck up. I’ll go over to Lorraine’s and let her do it right. But first I’m gonna make sure ya don’t skip out on me like I know ya’ve been thinkin’ about doin’.”

     “Sure,” Ellen had thought. “Go to Lorraine. She’ll give you everything you need.”

     Ellen had once thought she and Lorraine were friends. She’d even confided in her that she was stashing a little cash when she could into the bottom of the flour can. Lorraine had told Randy, he’d confronted Ellen with the powdery bills, and had given her a beating.

     That had been a month ago. Her new “running away” fund was now in an old pair of tennis shoes in the back of the closet. And she wouldn’t be sharing that information with anyone. When she’d enough for a bus ticket to get far enough away from Randy, she’d use it.

     Lorraine must have had other plans for the night, because Randy returned after just over an hour.

     His hair did look a little better, so at least it wasn’t just a trip for sex. Though Ellen really didn’t care about that anymore. Randy meant nothing to her. Nothing.

     “Get me something to eat and make it quick,” Randy said after untying her. “I’m goin’ out tonight.”

     Sitting at the table with steaks and salads, Ellen watched as Randy cut his steak with his special knife. It wasn’t a kitchen steak knife, but more of a Bowie-type hunting knife. He was always sharpening it because he said you never knew when someone might try something. 

     But looking at Randy using the knife now, Ellen was more concerned about Randy trying something.

     “What the hell are you lookin’ at?” Randy asked.

     “Nothing,” said Ellen. “I’m looking at nothing.

     “Are you messin’ with me?”

     “No, Randy, really, I was just staring off.”

     “Well, don’t.  I don’t like it. I’m not gonna tie you up tonight, but I’m tellin’ ya right now that if yer not here when I get home, I’ll come lookin’ for ya.”

     “I’ll be here,” said Ellen with a sigh. “Where would I go?”

***

     As evening ended and it became full dark, the wendigo moved out of the woods closer to the trailer. It was by far the most dangerous being in the area, but it hadn’t lived for a hundred years by being careless. At over eight feet tall with a six-foot set of wings on its back it could hardly be mistaken for someone out for an after-dinner stroll.

     The male occupant of the trailer had gone again. The female was no longer frantic like she had been earlier, but the Wendigo sensed her emanated feelings of still being trapped. Those feelings were of a deep sadness coupled with a smoldering anger. 

     The wendigo stepped closer to the trailer. 

     As Ellen smelled its stench through the screened windows, the desire to kill Randy suddenly became intense. She saw herself killing him when he got home and then carving up his body and….

     But she couldn’t continue that thought. It was too revolting.

***

     Randy came home after two in the morning and was almost too drunk to make it to bed.

     Ellen feigned sleep until she was sure he was out. She slipped from the bed and went to the kitchen for Randy’s knife.

     The wendigo now spoke to her through the windows as she moved from room to room. At first, its horrible smell had nauseated her, but the wendigo was cagey and easily manipulated most humans who were unhappy with their lot in life.

     Ellen stood over Randy with the knife. The wendigo had come into the trailer and was crouched in a corner of the bedroom. Ellen took no note of it, she was deep into her hatred of Randy.

     With a smooth stroke, she made a deep cut across Randy’s throat. He sat up gasping, blood spurting from the wound, and then fell back onto the pillow. Ellen thought he had the same look on his face that he’d had earlier in the bathroom mirror.

     She viciously slashed open Randy’s stomach and thrust her hand up under his rib cage, grabbing his still beating heart. She pulled it out and took a bite out of it as he now lay dead in front of her.

     The wendigo came out from the corner, grabbed Ellen roughly and threw her across the room. She landed up against the wall, finished Randy’s heart, and sat there watching the wendigo, while licking the blood from her hands.

     The wendigo tore into Randy’s lifeless body with gusto. Except for his head and his larger bones, the wendigo completely devoured him in about ten minutes.

     When sated, it turned its attention to Ellen. It would take her with it.  It had developed a liking for her and would not use her as food at this time. She could be its companion for as long as it suited it.

     It gathered her up in his long bony arms and left the trailer. In the small parking area, it took a run, three jumps, and was airborne.

     The wind made Ellen’s eyes water. Cradled like a baby a hundred feet in the air in the wendigo’s arms, she brushed the tears out of her eyes and looked up at the wendigo’s face.

     It was a horrible face. Even worse than Randy’s when he was angry about some pissy little thing.

     Ellen clutched Randy’s knife close to her side. When they landed, wherever they landed, Ellen wasn’t going to allow herself to become a passive player in another bad relationship.

     The wendigo would accept her as an equal, even help her become a wendigo, or it would die. That woman who had lived in that trailer with Randy was no more.

***

     Longtime Bayfield County Sheriff, Edward “Buster” Williams, looked at the bloody mess on the bed and had all he could do to keep his breakfast down. Hundreds of flies landed and took off from what was left of Randy Fenton. The Forensics Team stood back by the doorway waiting their turn while the Sheriff’s Department Photographer took pictures from different angles. Williams thought the photographer always seemed to enjoy his work a little too much as far as he was concerned.

    Lorraine had called 911 after she’d found…, what she’d found. She’d come over to the trailer after not seeing Randy for two days and not being able to get either Ellen or Randy to answer her calls.

     Williams stepped out of the trailer and addressed the small crowd of gawkers that had shown up. Apparently, Lorraine had spread the word.

     “Not much to tell ya at this time,” said Williams. “It appears Randy Fenton was attacked in his bed by maybe a bear or a wolf, and Ellen Sanders is missing.”

     “Did Ellen do it?” asked George Connor, an older man who lived in a trailer nearby. Probably more of Lorraine’s work.

     “I’ve met Ellen and I don’t see any way she could have done what was done to Randy,” the Sheriff answered.

     “Wendigo. It smells of wendigo here,” mumbled Johnny Lonewolf, an older member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewas.

     “Shh, Grandpa. Don’t,” whispered Arthur Mourningdove.

     “What was that, Johnny?” asked Williams.

     “A wendigo has been here,” said Johnny. “There were wendigos in northern Wisconsin when my father was a boy. He told me the tribe had killed a number of them back then. He told me about their smell. A wendigo may have killed Randy and stolen Ellen.”

     “Stolen her?” said the Sheriff. “Whatta ya mean stolen? What for?”

     The half-dozen nosey parkers were riveted to the exchange, mouths hanging open.

     “It would take her for food, of course, or take her as a slave,” said Johnny. “My father said a wendigo could force people to do its bidding. At least until the person died from exposure. Wendigos can live outdoors all winter. People can’t.”

     There were mutterings from the group until Willaims told them they should go about their business. He thought he would have a private talk with Johnny Lonewolf after doing some research on the Internet. He’d thrown out that business to the crowd about it possibly being a bear or a wolf, but he’s seen enough bear maulings in his many years in law enforcement to know the Forensics Team wasn’t going to come up with any finding of bears or wolves in that bedroom.

     And there was an odd smell in the bedroom. But a wendigo? He just couldn’t wrap his head around that.

     A member of the Forensics Team came rushing out of the trailer and threw up in the bushes next to the steps.

     “No goddamn respect for ensuring the integrity of the crime scene,” muttered Williams to himself. “Two more years until retirement. And then, I’m outta here.”

THE END

Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for over 65 years.  At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer.  He has had flash fiction and poetry published in Black Petals, Bewildering Stories, One Sentence Poems, Yellow Mama, Drunk Monkeys, Literally Stories, Dark Dossier, The Rye Whiskey Review, Near To The Knuckle, Theme of Absence, Shotgun Honey, 50 Give or Take, Subject And Verb Agreement Press, and a number of other online and print journals.  Unweaving a Tangled Web, recently published by Hekate Publishing, is his first novel. 

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