Black Petals Issue #100 Summer, 2022

Editor's Page
Mars-Chris Friend
BP Artists and Illustrators
Baby, You're the Best: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Darkest Day:Fiction by Richard Brown
They Feed on Light:Fiction by Kilmo
Step Eight: Fiction by Paul Lubaczewski
Reunion:Fiction by Gene Lass
Highwayman's Trousers:Fiction by Michael W. Clark
The Dutiful Hit:Fiction by Jay Flynn
Flight of Fantasy: Fiction by Martin Taulbut
He Asked Me to Do It: Fiction by R. A. Cathcart
Lagniappe: Fiction by Michael Stoll
No Spark, No Flame: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Bathroom Light: Fiction by Craig Shay
Dave Jenkins, Flayed: Flash Fiction by Brian Barnett
Beauty Sleep: Flash Fiction by Simeon Care
Head Games: Flash Fiction by Philip Perry
Hurry Home: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
You'll See, She Said: Flash Fiction by Robb White
Captain Yeah-Way: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Attic Notes: Poem by Michael S. Love
Exit Strategy: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
You Can Pretend: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
Gold Star: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
Conflict of Interest: Poem by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Recording: Poem by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Litha: Poem by Christopher Friend
Sleeping Beauty: Poem by Christopher Friend
It Began with Violence: Poem by Donna Dallas
Rocking Zebra Déjà vu: Poem by Donna Dallas
Circle: Poem by Donna Dallas
Love is a Ghost: Poem by Donna Dallas
Together: Poem by A. N. Rose
Silence: Poem by A. N. Rose
Dead at 21: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
House Centipede: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen

Hillary Lyon: No Spark, No Flame

Art by Michael D. Davis © 2022

No Spark, No Flame


Hillary Lyon




He sat up abruptly, reached over to his nightstand for his pack of cigarettes. Not there. He leaned over, opened the nightstand's drawer, and pawed through the papers and junk stored therein. At the back of the drawer he found his crumpled pack of cigarettes. He deftly shook one out, stuck it between his lips.

He searched the drawer again; surely he’d left an extra lighter or matches in there. He found a cheap disposable lighter under a stack of small papers, a collection of receipts or something. He held it up to his stale cigarette and thumbed the tiny wheel. Scritch, scritch. No spark, no flame. He threw the impotent lighter at the wall.

With great effort, he swung his legs over the side of the bed, planted his feet firmly on the floor, and pushed himself up. He was a little unstable, and more than a bit groggy, but he figured he’d been asleep a long time; which was often the case after a long hard night of partying.

He shuffled over to his dresser; he always kept a lighter, or matches, in the antique silver change bowl there. He felt around but couldn’t locate his bowl, or anything else familiar on the dresser. He suspected one of his friends-with-benefits might have lifted it. Those women always seemed to think he owed them something after their romps.

And it was so dark in here! He couldn’t really see much of anything in this room, only vague, shadowy shapes. He looked back at his bed. Where was the light from his digital clock? Was it unplugged? Was the power out? Or did one of those fun-time bunnies take that too?

He jerked the cigarette from his mouth. He ran his tongue over his lips; his tongue felt rough and dry. Dehydrated, he supposed. He chuckled to himself. No surprise after what he indulged in last night—which was? He couldn’t remember, which means it must have been awesome.

Looks like he’d have to scrounge around in the den or kitchen for a lighter. He trudged over to the bedroom door, grabbed the knob, and tried to turn it. It wasn’t that the knob wouldn’t turn, it was that he had little to no strength in his thin hand. He shook the knob in frustration. He was thirsty and he wanted a smoke—now! Frustrated, he slapped the door with the palm of his sinewy hand.

* * *

“Did you hear that? Sounded like someone rattling a doorknob. Don’t you tell me you didn’t hear that.” Eileen’s wide eyes dared her friend to contradict her.

“I left the window open a teensy bit in the spare room—you know, to help air it out—so it was probably a breeze knocking something over, or—” But Joan’s explanation was interrupted by a loud thump on the spare room’s door. “Old houses are full of creaky noises, anyway.” She shrugged, hoping to appear nonchalant. “You get used to it.”

“Aren’t you afraid to live here alone?” Eileen chewed the rough edge of her fingernail.

“Nah. It’s a great little bungalow—and the rent is cheap,” Joan laughed. “You know, my folks charge me hardly anything to live here.”

“I wondered how you could afford a cute house like this, in a decent part of town, on your salary.”

“Yeah, my mom inherited this place from her younger brother,” Joan went on. “Uncle Jon was a real party boy. He never married, or had any kids—that we know of.”  She laughed again. “So when he kicked the bucket, he left everything to mom.”

“How’d he die? Drug overdose? Did he owe the mob money? Did an angry husband catch him in flagrante with his unfaithful wife?” Eileen shivered. “Did he die here?”

“Ugh,” Joan groaned. “He died of a massive heart attack. I was told he got up in the middle of the night, to pee, probably, and—boom!—fell over, stone cold dead, on the floor.”

“Here? In this house?” Eileen held her breath; she knew the answer but didn’t want to hear it.

“Yeah,” Joan sighed, attempting to sound unconcerned. “His old bedroom is now the spare room I use for storage. I still have a few pieces of his furniture in there; stuff I couldn’t sell on Ebay. Like his bed.”

“And that’s why you’re airing that room out! How long was he dead in there?”

“Ummm, about ten days before someone came looking for him” Joan badly wanted to change the subject. “So, hey, how about we stream that movie you were raving about? I found it on Netflix, I’ll throw some popcorn in the microwave, and—”

Bam! The door to the spare room shook.

“Maybe I should go on home,” Eileen whispered.

“No—come on! We’ll open that door—and you’ll see there’s nothing to be afraid of.” Joan grabbed her friend's arm. “Lets go.”

As the young women approached the closed door of the spare room, they could hear a faint shuffling and scratching.

“You know, I bet some critter crawled in through that open window, and it’s just poking around in there, looking for food,” Joan said, as much to convince herself as her friend.

“Or looking to make a nest,” Eileen muttered. Finding a raccoon or a rat in the spare room would not make her feel any better than a ghost would.

Joan put her hand on the cool glass door knob, turned it, and pushed the door open.

* * *

“Well, hellllooo ladies!” Uncle Jon croaked through cracked lips. He leaned lecherously close to Eileen. “Aren’t you a pretty little thing.” He sniffed her hair. “Nice and fresh!”

He then turned his attention to Joan. “You look real familiar.” In the back of his throat, he made a sound like a handful of dry leaves being crushed in a fist. “Didn’t we hook up in Daytona Beach, a while back? Spring Break, and you in a string bikini? Yeah, I remember you!” Joan shook her head frantically. She’d never been to Florida in her life.

The ghoulish thing standing before them was tall and gaunt and gray, wearing stained silk pajamas that hung on his haggard frame like rags on a forgotten scarecrow. He rolled his head on his crooked stick-like neck, loudly cracking the joints. The sound made both women cringe; neither could catch their breath, much less speak—much less run away screaming; which is what they both wanted to do.

So Joan and Eileen hugged each other, and began slowly backing away from the horrid specter in the doorway.

“Girl on girl fun, huh?” Uncle Jon cracked his bony knuckles. “Alright, alright—looks like party time is upon us,” he continued, cocking an eyebrow in what once would have been a smoothly flirtatious move. Now it just looked sadly hideous. Still leering at the panicked women, he rubbed his sinewy hand across his cold, wilted crotch.

With his other hand, he took the stale cigarette from his parched lips and waved it in an arc towards the receding women. “But first things first, ladies—either one of you have a light?”

Hillary Lyon founded and for 20 years acted as senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Her stories have appeared lately in 365tomorrows, Yellow Mama, Sirens Call, Pandemic: Unleashed anthology, Whodunit crime anthology, Legends of Night drabble series anthology, and Revelations drabble series anthology. She’s also an illustrator for horror & pulp fiction magazines.

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