Black Petals Issue #89 Autumn, 2019

Mars-News, Views and Commentary

Mars-Chris Friend
BP Artists and Illustrators
A Tale of the Dark Web-Fiction by Blair Frison
Drop, Pt. 2: Help Thy Neighbor-Fiction by Michael Mulvihill
Gas Stop-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Grandad's Legacy-Fiction by Jan Cronos
Hive-Fiction by Dan Cardoza
My Nighttime Parents-Fiction by Malik Mandeville
Orphans at the Dark Door-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The News that Night-Fiction by June Driver
The Raft-Fiction by Stephen Caesar
The Voice from the Dark-Fiction by Scott Kimak
Dear Pneumonia-Two poems by Michael Mulvihill
The Well-Poem by Jason Rice

Autumn, 2019-Chris Friend


          Hello again from the red planet. I recently received my fall 2019 edition of Barbara Custer’s horror magazine Night til Dawn. I was thrilled at having four of my drawings in this issue. Of the stories featured was an allegedly true one about Hindu vampires known as Pisacha. It was unusual enough for me to do my Halloween issue of Mars on this ghoulish figure. These very evil and dangerous devils were believed to haunt ancient India. They can be spotted from their habit of chattering incessantly and their bulging red eyes. Their origin is a mystery, but they seem to have been created by the great god Brahma. They are claimed to have their own language known as Paisaci. As with most vampires and ghouls, the Pisacha live in the darkness and haunt graveyards and other resting places for the dead. They can be both vampires and ghouls because they will eat flesh and drink blood of both the living and the dead. As with most vampire-like beings they can shape-shift or become invisible. Like other demons the Pisacha can also take possession of people, who will require exorcism. But the Pisacha can be pacified by offerings during religious festivals. Leaving rice at a crossroads was also said to keep them from pestering the living. Note that the nomadic gypsies got their start in India and introduced many beliefs about vampires into Eastern Europe. Could the Pisacha be one of the antecedents to some of their folklore?

 And keeping in the spirit of Halloween (and vampires) I thought I would add more on my favorite un-dead topic. In Greek folklore vampires tend to stay in their graves, making this an excellent time to hunt them. Saturday was also seen as a good time for a priest to do an exorcism on vampires and like spirits. If exorcism fails, the villagers must gather up the slumbering vampire, decapitate and then burn the body to end its evil doings.


Any person born on a Saturday with the gift of second sight would be able to see ghosts. Old superstitions hold that Saturday has no luck at all. In African American folklore if one should sneeze on a Saturday they will meet their future sweetheart on a Sunday. In India Saturday was seen as an unlucky day. So people are divided as to whether Saturday is lucky or not. 

I want to take a moment and recommend Barbara Custer’s Night til Dawn for Halloween this year. She used a few of my better drawings. To check it out, go to (a pretty good magazine, full of short stories, poetry, and artwork). I also recommend one of the best horror anthologies that I am aware of. I always try to keep a copy of Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural on hand because it contains some of the greatest horror written. Published by Modern Library and edited by Phyllis Cerf Wagner and Herbert Wagner, this volume includes such classics as Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” and Poe’s “The Black Cat”. There are also horror stories by such greats as Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Hardy, and so on. Although expensive, considering its grand quality, I can’t help recommending the wonderful hardback edition with Fuselli’s “The Nightmare” on the cover. A worthy edition to any horror story collection, it also might make an excellent Christmas gift (on the second scariest holiday). Happy Halloween, Earthlings!


Chris Friend,, of Parkersberg, W.Va , who wrote BP #85’s 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 in the issue quarterly. Chris has a gallery at and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].

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