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

Simeone Care: Beauty Sleep

Art by Bernice Holtzman © 2022

Beauty Sleep

Simeon Care



The castle is entwined in thorns so thick they could carve the flesh from a roast hog. A graveyard of bones, bleached and gargantuan, clutter the empty moat. Crumbling pieces of masonry lay strewn across the drawbridge. It sits open, waiting.

Since my youth, I, Prince Augustine, bravest of knights, have heard the stories: a princess fair trapped in a spell for one hundred years. Countless knights have tried to wake her, yet she slumbers still. The reason, I have considered, is surely that these men were not pure of heart and deed. I shall be the one to wake the maiden fair, and she shall be my bride.

I dismount my horse, Plantamor, admiring the flawless plait of his golden mane, and venture inside. My sword is drawn, ready to strike down any foe that might seek hindrance to my quest divine, but there is no one. A lone crow caws as I open the door to the tower. Dust and cobwebs are all that bar my climb. As I ascend the steps, shafts of light guide me, growing brighter near the topmost room.

When I reach the oaken door, I knock, remove my helmet and make my way into the lady’s bedchamber.

Inside is a repulsive smell; a pungent, rotting, festering force. Rats scurry as I step forward, hand covering my mouth and nose. The bed is at the end of the room: an ornate, wooden four-poster creation, hand-carved and lavish—truly, a fitting place for a princess. With purpose assured, I approach and draw back the tarnished white veil.

She is there, but something is wrong.

Her fingernails are long and claw-like, her hair a straggled mess, covering her face and trailing off the bed in greasy strands. I choke on the stench, so strong now it could wake a drunkard for a Sunday service. It is not her fault, I tell myself. She has been cursed. Her beauty will shine through once she has bathed and dressed.

My heart is resolute, but my hands are trembling. I lay my sword to the ground, readying to gaze upon her face. This is my quest, my Holy mission; the word of God divine passed to mine ears through our most glorious King with the hope of bringing us to this moment. With utmost care, I brush aside her hair. As I reveal her face, a shaft of pure radiance bursts through the window causing spiders to scatter from their matted, white nest. The light illuminates her face, wrinkled and sunken. Perhaps, once there was beauty there, but time has taken a loathsome toll.

Still, I lean down to kiss her.

It is then her mouth opens. The full scent of her breath wafts to my nose, and I spy rotting black stumps that were once teeth. I fight back rising bile. This must be a test of my faith; the maiden will surely return to her former beauty upon receiving true love’s kiss.

Summoning all of my will and courage, I draw close to her disgusting mouth. Her eyes are encrusted with yellow pus, but the lady begins to stir, eyelids fluttering like twin butterflies trying to burst forth from their chrysalis prisons. I stand there poised for what feels like an eternity, ready to fulfil my quest and the will of God.

But, to my shame, I falter.

A thought enters my head: a poisonous, unholy thought. What if she does not change back?

I must confess this a burden too heavy for my fragile heart to bear. Although it beats fiercer in war than that of any man, it is tender in love. I could not bear for this lady to suffer the tragedy of waking from her curse only to see her form cursed again by time. It would be too cruel. There is only one kindness here.

I reach for my sword. With quivering hands, I raise it to her chest. The tip presses to her grey, worn flesh and a trickle of blood flows down to the bedclothes. She moans. A maggot crawls from her mouth. The sword rises, and falls, and rises again. It is a mercy, I tell myself. A mercy.

But I cannot deliver the blow. I say a prayer and flee the accursed chamber.

I shall leave her to her slumber. Another knight will come.


Simeon Care is an English writer of sci-fi, fantasy and horror. The narratives he creates usually involve elements that are dark, mystical and otherworldly. His debut novel about an anxious philosophy student who sees demons is currently on submission. 

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