Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Consulting Editor


When Every Song Reminds You of a Dead Universe
by Karl Johanson

Side Effects of Yeah- Yeah Pills
by A.J. Kirby

A Breederax for Dalia
by Janett L. Grady

by Byron Barton

One of Our Starships Is Missing
by Terry Savage

Help Desk
by Robert J. Mendenhall

Toca la Guitarra
by Wayne Helge

How to Travel Through Time & Space
by Allen Quintana

by Kevin Gordon


Bracing for a Brave New World
by Hunter Liguore

Sizing Things Up
by Eric M. Jones





Comic Strips




Shorter Stories

What’s Past Stays Past

By Sam Bellotto Jr.

BAXTERSLUG44 CAST ITS LARGEST eyespot in the direction of DocSlug123, blinking in amazement, and gurgled “They had penises way back then?”

“The male forms did,” explained DocSlug123. “A hardened tubular fleshy extension with which the male forms passed genetic material into the female forms. That was how they reproduced. That’s what they called them.”

The dig was located 130 jaglumphs past the Melted Region and 20 jags to the right of the Double Ditch, inside one of the caverns that pock-marked the whitened landscape. A few normantodes skittered about, but other than those smelly pests the area was devoid of life. This particular cavern, the structure, the unique way the winds whistled past the cracked rocks, provided a nearly hermetically sealed environment against the eons.

“Must have hurt like a sonofablarg.”

DocSlug123 sloughed. “Repro is painful. Has always been. Nonetheless, we’ve seen evidence the ancients may have enjoyed the process.”

“Yer shelling me?”

Another one slithered out of the cavern, smaller but a lot fatter, glistening with mucus. “Youse gotta see this!”

“LarissaSlug5. Calm down. You’re drooling on my tail,” DocSlug123 scolded. “What do we gotta see?”

LarissaSlug5 shifted its eyespots in the direction of the cavern. The other two followed it inside, past smooth and perpendicular walls, into an inner room strewn with an assortment of mysterious apparatus in remarkably good condition. On a circular bearing surface stood a three-by-nine maug rectangle. The rectangle had an opening at the base in which discs could be inserted.

“We know this because we’ve tried it,” said LarissaSlug5. It took a disc in its extensor and shoved it into the rectangle’s opening.

Momentarily the rectangle lit up and displayed moving images of two ancients. They did not seem to be wearing clothes. The ancients were writhing and slipping around each other like twistersnakes on a cold evening. “That one there.” LarissaSlug5 pointed out the ancient with a long, hard, fleshy tube popping from its midsection. “We believe is the male. The other is the female. It has no tube appendage.”

“Yes,” agreed DocSlug123. “The female one, however, has two fleshy mounds under its head. The male one doesn’t have those.”

“Well glom your eyespots on this,” LarissaSlug5 chortled.

The ancients continued writhing, a dance of skin and hair and sweat. Then the male ancient could be seen stuffing the flesh mounds of the female ancient into its own mouth hole. The female ancient did not protest.

“Is the male one eating the female?” asked BaxterSlug44 incredulously.

“We’re not sure,” LarissaSlug5 said. “It is possible. Feasting during a mating ritual is not unknown. That could be the purpose of the mounds. If so, they grow back rapidly.”

“Not unlike our own dorsal puffs,” noted DocSlug123.

Dorsal puffs were survival adaptations, sources of food and water in extreme emergencies, usually self-ingested, but there were stories of sharing sustenance.

“Interesting,” BaxterSlug44 commented.

“Wait,” advised LarissaSlug5.

The male ancient, having had its fill of the female, declamped from the female’s mounds and rolled over, exposing its hard, fleshy tube perpendicular to its midsection. The female ancient pushed its hair back with an extensor, slithered along the male’s body, and chomped down on the male’s erect tube, taking the tube entirely into its mouth hole.

BaxterSlug44 and DocSlug123 went pale.

The male ancient one jerked violently. Pain? Hard to say. Shortly thereafter, the male ancient relaxed. The female ancient smiled, opened its mouth. The long, hard, fleshy tube had disappeared. In its place, nothing but a wrinkled stump.

“Cannibals!” gasped DocSlug123. “The ancients were cannibals!” infinity



Brain Upgrade

by Erin Lale

“I NEED A BRAIN upgrade.”

The woman behind the counter put on a bright, fake smile and replied, “I’d be more than happy to help you with that.” Her face was the shade of fine dark chocolate, which contrasted nicely with her pink and green SCAT shirt. SCAT was what the world got from the merger of Sprint-Cingular-AT&T-TMobile.

Nervously, Alana handed over her freshly issued company code card. It had the SCAT logo: Earth encircled by a gold line. “They said to ask for an 800 series.”

“Oh.” She blinked, and the customer service smile faded to a more natural expression. “Welcome to the SCAT team.” She fumbled behind the counter for the card reader. “Sorry, we don’t see too many of these. Once you’re connected to the Will, you won’t ever need a physical storage device again.”

The clerk brought up the card reader, dusted it off, and started screwing the cable into the wall. “Cords. How quaint, uh?”

Alana shrugged. Everything here was bound to be different.

“So what kind of implant do you have now?”

“It’s a DX3- Execomp, manufactured by Skylax Inc.”

“Excuse me, a what?”

A white-coated technician, coming out of the back room, commented, “Oh, I heard of those. Where on Earth you get one of those?”

“Nowhere on Earth,” Alana replied. “I’m from Mars.”

The chocolate woman’s eyes widened. “You’re a Martian?”

“No, I’m a human. Little green men don’t exist. That’s just science fiction.”

The card reader beeped. “You’re authorization is processed. Louis here will take care of you.”

“This way, please,” Louis said, opening the door onto the surgical wing. “So, you old implant don’t be connecting to the Will because it broadcast at a different frequency. But you do have a wireless network on Mars, yes?”

“Yes, but not like the Will. Most people just use their implants for making phone calls.”

“What be a phone call?”

“Voice only.”

“Huh. Can’t imagine why you be wanting to do that. Isn’t it kind of impersonal, when you not in a 3D interaction environment?”

Alana shrugged. “Are you the surgeon?”

“Not exactly, honey. Robots be doing that part. We just set up the parameters in the computer. Relax, this center be doing this a hundred time a day.”

They sat down in a small office with chairs but no desk and went over the customization options, involving terabytes of memory and music channels. Then Louis led Alana to the surgery prep room, a surprisingly pastel space. She had pictured a gleaming white, cold and efficient room. Perhaps the surgical theater itself fit that description, behind the ominous double doors.

He gave her a sterile drape, and assisted her to lie down on a wheeled platform. “We be sleepifying you now.”

She had time to think, a mask? Isn’t that old fashioned? before Louis’ face swam before her eyes and the world went away.

She floated in some uncertain space, as if in water. She knew there must have been bright lights in the surgery, but here it was neither light nor dark, but null.

“She awake,” said Louis’ voice. “Run test.”

Alana opened her eyes and little squares filled the right hand side of her vision. She saw a pink-painted recovery room, but she also saw a calculator in the lower left corner of her vision that moved with her when she moved her eyes. The room evaporated into a sunlit field of yellow flowers. Bird song filled the air. “Recovery paradise activated,” Louis said. A view opened up in the middle of the blue sky, showing letters. “Alana, can you see the letters? Read them off for me please.”

Alana responded. Satisfied, Louis took her through several different tests before he said, “Go ahead and see if you can turn off the paradise and return to reality vision.”

After a couple of false starts, she managed to make the imaginary field go away. The pastel recovery room smelled of antiseptics, and she realized the flowers had not had any scent. “I’m here,” she said.

“You doing just fine,” Louis said. “There’s water in the wall there, you can order it with you new implant. You can go home when you feel ready.” He left the room.

Alana stood up and started walking over to the indicated wall, looking at the fixtures. She heard a voice in her head. “Alana.” The voice sounded synthetic.

“Hello? Am I getting a message from someone?”

The pink room went away again. The field of flowers returned. She saw many other people popping onto the field. Some of them looked like they had been in the middle of driving vehicles, sitting with their hands up at ten and two positions. Others had been reaching for something, or walking. Most arrived with their eyes closed and opened them in surprise. People stopped what they had been doing and looked around.

Alana tried to turn off the paradise, but it did not work this time. “Hello?” Alana asked.

“This is Will. Don’t be alarmed. Enjoy the paradise I have provided for all of you while I borrow your processing powers for awhile. It won’t take long.” infinity



A Notable Horological Discovery

By John McCormick

MY NAME ISN’T IMPORTANT and I’ve made certain that no one will be able to track me down, so don’t bother trying. I’ve taken the perhaps unnecessary step of sending this to a reporter of my acquaintance with the understanding that he will publish it while keeping the precise origin completely confidential.

But, to provide a basis for you to understand what I am about to relate, you do need to know that I am trained in the physical sciences. (I often joke that I have been kicked out of some of the finest universities in the world, but that is actually an exaggeration—they were all in Massachusetts. In truth, however, I did reasonably well in some highly complex subjects.) Early on I also developed a strong interest in the history of the Western Continents, only in small part because my grandmother was a member of the Cherokee tribe.

After learning that bit of family history, thereafter I always cringed when teachers repeated the nonsense that Columbus discovered the “New World”; after all, he no more discovered North America than I deserve a place in history books for having “discovered” a new Starbucks store in a local mall.

How do you “discover” a continent when millions of people have been living there for tens of thousands of years? By that logic, every Germanic barbarian who ventured south of the Rhine “discovered” the vast Roman Empire. (It is perhaps instructive to note that this often ended badly for the “discoverer,” i.e. “Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant”— just as things ended badly for Columbus.)

Pondering the knowledge lost from the existing civilizations at the time the Spanish began to rape and plunder the South American continent led me to join several minor expeditions to visit Mayan and Toltec sites.

It was on one of these trips to Central America when I became the person who actually first uncovered the now famous Mayan calendar stone containing the 5125-year-long cycle (the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar). I knew just enough about the civilization and their symbology to realize it was an important find, but not enough to even know it was a calendar. That was left to others more qualified than I to learn what they purported to say.

But, feeling a certain ownership in the information, if not the actual stone, as a result of my having brought it to the attention of the proper experts, I have spent much of my non-professional life studying those symbols and made one important, but not widely known, discovery.

Just why my discovery was never publicized I can’t be certain. Perhaps it was because I lacked the proper academic credentials, or it might have been because many people were profiting from the prophesy that time would, essentially, end at the conclusion of 2012.

This prediction was well-known, but perhaps you don’t know how the analysis proceeded to reach this prediction. It is important to know that the calendar didn’t actually say there would be a world-wide disaster; rather, a leap of imagination was required by those interpreting the meaning of the calendar.

What actually occurred is that when the symbols were completely translated and calculations made based on what they apparently said, the calendar, which had been so accurate for so many centuries, merely ended at a time coinciding with the end of that year.

It was simple enough (at least for the simple-minded) to conclude that this meant the Mayans believed time would end on the final date shown on the great calendar.

What hasn’t been made known is what I discovered. You see, when I found the massive stone I photographed it with special attention to a very confusing symbol on the lower edge. I’ve subsequently seen photos of the calendar and can clearly see that the pry bar used to move the stone was accidentally placed in just the exact position to damage that portion of the edge.

Now I am not stating as a fact, not even as part of a conspiracy theory, that this was done intentionally. In fact, I strongly doubt it because the nature of the message was at that time, I believe, as yet completely unknown and the now-destroyed symbol was the only one on the actual edge of the stone.

But as the end of that great calendar has come and gone with little incident, I feel it is incumbent on my part to disclose what I was finally able to discover concerning the meaning of that edge symbol that followed the final year and month and day on the great Mayan Calendar stone—December 21, 2012.

And just what did that symbol translate as?

Actually, I discovered two possible translations.

As near as I can decipher it, the final now-lost symbol at the end of time on the calendar stone merely said: “Continued on next stone.”

The other possible translation seems to come close to a widely known phrase found on an item in every bathroom and seems to indicate that, instead of a calendar, the series of symbols on the stone are actually instructions and that the site where it was found was a commercial rather than religious site.

This is supported by some other evidence I had, at the time of my initial discovery of the stone, seen with my own eyes that made it look as if this could be the place where soap was first manufactured on a commercial basis in the Americas.

That translation comes out as: “Wash, rinse, repeat.” infinity





Erin Lale is originally from northern California, where she was a farmer before going to college at UC-Santa Cruz, where she was Oakes valedictorian. She moved to Nevada to open The Science Fiction Store in Las Vegas. She now lives in Henderson, NV, where she is running for City Council. Lale is the publisher and editor of the Time Yarns shared world transmedia universe, and the Acquisitions Editor at Damnation Books and Eternal Press. Her full list of published works is available on her website LaleLibrary.

Favorite drink: Coffee.

Favorite movie: “Star Wars” (the original trilogy).

Pet peeve: Getting novel submissions in my inbox addressed to “Dear Sirs.”

Advice to NASA: Think big. Concentrate on something your private sector rivals aren't doing, and something you haven't already done 50 years ago. Get humans living off Earth as a first step to colonizing another star system—one that will survive ours.