Black Petals Issue #91, Spring, 2020

We Are the Monsters We Seek
BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Hole in the Somewhere-Fiction by Richard Brown
Everything Echoes-Fiction by Todd M. Guerra
Exit to Dove's Tail-Fiction by Ken Goldman
I Dream of Fire-Fiction by Matthew Penwell
Living Doll-Fiction by Carl Hughes
Angelika's Tough Decision-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Cat-Fiction by Chris Alleyne
The Demon-Fiction by Misty Page
The Run-Fiction by Thomas Runge D'Amore
We Are the Monsters We Seek-Fiction by Karen Heslop
Brother of Mine-Flash Fiction by D. C. Plump
New Terror-Flash Fiction by Denis Alvarez Betancourt
The Flapping Thing-Flash Fiction by Robert Masterson
The Clown Loved Cherry Lipstick-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Ganymede-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Space Probe RH 120-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
The Buffoon-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Just Another Day in My House-Poem by Tom Davidson
Blue Bell Hill Beast-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Plum Island-Poem by Richard Stevenson
The Thing in the Woods-Poem by Loris John Fazio

Art by Michael Davis 2020

We Are the Monsters We Seek

By Karen Heslop

Darien waved the dog-eared drawing before one of his informants. Malak squinted at the bounty hunter and sighed.

“McCook, you don’t want to find that one. She’s too much for you. Even with your…modifications.”

Darien scoffed. It was no secret that he took the demon blood supplement the underground circuit distributed. It was the only way he could be as successful at his job as he needed to be.

“It’ll be a cold day in Hell before I take advice from a soul-reaper, Malak.”

“It’s been quite chilly these past days McCook, how’d you know?”

Darien glared at the smiling creature perched comfortably on a barstool. Beer foam glistened on Malak’s furry face like forgotten spittle. Darien wanted to push Malak for the information he clearly had but Darien’s peaceful admission into the Ninth Circle Bar was based on respecting the establishment’s patrons. Finally, Malak slammed the empty mug on the table and looked over at Darien.

“The Tormentor is not to be trifled with, McCook. The devil himself rewarded her by lifting her banishment to Hell so she could get her kicks. You understand what that means? Let me spell it out for you just in case. She did such a good job torturing souls, the devil let her out to enjoy herself.”

“I hear you Malak, but her name’s on my ledger and that means I need to find her.”

“Well, alright. I tried to warn you. I’ll take you to her.”

Darien’s eyes widened in surprise.

“I didn’t think you’d want to be anywhere near her.”

“Well someone has to drag your stinking soul to the pits where it belongs. It might as well be me. Besides, that soul of yours would get me some serious bonus points with the boss.”

Darien hoped the creature was joking but knew better than to ask. Soul reapers were notorious for their ferocity, tenacity and brutal honesty. He threw some bills on the bar to cover Malak’s drink tab and hopefully spur movement. Malak took the hint.

“Fine. Let’s go.”

Darien headed towards his car, but Malak kept going into the darkness beyond the bar. He hastened to keep up with the reaper’s long strides as they both melted into the almost tangible blackness of night. Malak halted before an abandoned building and inclined his head towards it. Before Darien could ask any questions, the reaper sprinted away into the darkness. Undoubtedly, he was too far for Darien to see but still close enough to be the first reaper on call should Darien meet his demise.

He closed his eyes and focused so the demon blood could heighten his remaining senses. The sweet stench of rot wafted towards him pierced by the asynchronous clicking of claws on concrete. Reaching forward, Darien felt the tension of a protective ward press against his fingertips. He expected nothing less. It would explain why his locator spells hadn’t worked as well as they usually did. He brought his index finger to his mouth quickly and broke the skin. He mimicked a basic spell that would give the appearance of breaking the protective shield. The unseen shield sizzled as his blood burnt through it.

He slipped through the opening and sauntered towards the decrepit building. At the entrance, he knelt and used his bloodied finger to daub a few crude but effective markings. The smell of decay grew stronger as Darien passed piles of discarded organs and limbs on his way to a smouldering fire. The creature surveyed him calmly from the centre of the room. Two of the eyes on her large, high forehead stayed fixed on him while the other four darted around in constant surveillance. As he approached cautiously, she hefted her bulbous arachnid body backwards with long muscular legs.

“It’s been a while, Darien. Come to banish me again?”

“Hello, mother. I see you’re up to your old habits.”

“In all fairness, sweetheart, if I had stuck to my habits, you wouldn’t have been around to send me to Hell. I was tempted, but you were born with your father’s sweet face and it felt cruel to rid the world of such beauty…again.”

Darien scoffed.

“I really feel your pain, mother. Motherhood must have been so hard on you. Oh wait…no it wasn’t. You dumped me at the mixed-breed orphanage as soon as your body spit me out.”

“You are demoness-born, you ungrateful wretch!” she spat.

“That’s not the honour you think it is!”

“Ah,” she lowered her voice to a purr, “do you think you could stomach the demon blood as well as you do without your lineage and privilege?”

Darien’s mouth snapped shut with a loud clack of teeth.

“How did you know about that?” he ground out.

“Please…do you think I don’t ask about you? You think those first jobs you got as a hunter materialized out of thin air? You’re not the only one owed favours in the community, my dearest.”

As she paced back and forth, the clacking of her spindly claws echoed across the room. Darien sighed. When he had heard about the bounty out for a ‘large spider-like creature who fed on human flesh’ Darien had known he would have the pleasure of banishing his mother once more. Now indecision played in his mind. Sephora sidled up to her son during his silence.

“I’ll be gone from here tomorrow, so is it really worth the trouble?”

“It’ll be worth the lives I save and then there’s the matter of my half-a-million-dollar banishment fee.”

A smile spread across her gaunt face. Her voice slithered from her throat like expertly spun silk. She waved her arm in the direction of the multiple semi-digested bodies heaped in the rooms.

“I have had my fill of humans for a little while. As for your fee…” she paused to lick blood from a claw, “I have something better.”

Darien raised an eyebrow but remained silent.

“My venom is ten times more potent than that demon blood filth you taint your body with constantly. Walk out of here and you will carry with you enough venom to last you a lifetime.”

Sephora moved closer but Darien kept his eyes downcast. She towered over him, casting a shadow that enveloped his entirely. He had no doubt she wished it wasn’t just their shadows that were one. He took a deep breath and stepped away from her.

“You promise there will be no more deaths?”

“Well, I’d cross my heart but given its location, that might seem a bit distasteful. Perhaps you’ll trust my other form? Your father certainly did.”

 Before he could reply, there was the clicking, whirring and grinding movement of well-oiled machinery as Sephora folded into a woman. Still slightly taller than Darien, but the creature was now hidden in a mocha-hued body with curves so alluring it rendered him speechless. Sephora’s smile revealed bright even teeth and Darien met her emerald eyes with his own.

“Well don’t stare so much, dear. I’ve heard it’s impolite. Now to the business at hand.”

She scanned the room and tittered in glee when she found a dusty old jar sitting in a corner. She pried the rusted lid from the container and hawked into it until it was full. Darien’s face curled into a sneer of disgust. Without glancing at him, Sephora remarked,

“Oh, wipe that look off your face. If you only knew where some of that demon blood comes from.”

Darien took the jar that was handed to him. Its warmth made his stomach roil. He turned abruptly and headed to the door.

“Goodbye, mother.”

“Already? We’ve come to such an amicable agreement. Surely…”

His brisk movements had been matched easily by her rhythmic flow, but her words faltered when she did.

“What…what did you do?”

Darien closed his eyes and recited the words he had memorized all those years ago. Sephora wailed as she realized what was happening.

“You bastard! Stop! You’re hurting me!”

The crude circle expanded as she unfurled into her true form again. Darien’s face remained impassive in spite of her alternating cursing and wailing. When only her face remained, he met all 6 eyes that were trained on his face.

“We always hurt the ones we love, mother. You should know that.”

Sephora remained silent. The circle closed, banishing her again to the innermost depths of Hell. The venom-filled jar glistened in the moonlight, its milky white contents swirling as if agitated. Darien placed it on the ground and took a few steps away before hesitating at the door. With a heavy sigh, he retraced his steps and put the jar in the long inner pocket of his jacket. His mother would not be pleased. She would send others for him. He would make sure they met the monster they deserved.


 Karen Heslop writes from Kingston, Jamaica. Her stories can be found in Apparition Lit Mag, AHF Magazine and Haunted MTL among others.