Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Monkeys and Empire State Buildings
by James K. Isaac

Debbie Does Delta Draconis III
by Sarina Dorie

Becoming Einstein
by George S. Walker

No Good Conscience
by Edward J. Knight

Last Log of the Vancouver
by David Falkinburg

Saving the Galaxy and Taking Names
by Justin Short

Diplomacy in Springtime
by Jennifer Linnaea

Onkeymay Usinessbay
by Doug Donnan

Inside Magic Circles
by Brent Knowles


Cosmic Life Rays
by John McCormick and Beth Goldie

A Lost World On the Polar Ice
by Fitzhugh Green




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips




Shorter Stories

Hooking Up, Galaxy Style

By Linda A.B. Davis

ESME LOVED A MAN in jeans. She wanted to see the jeans low slung and soft. She wanted to be pressed against jeans that moved in rhythm with slender hips.

There was just such a human man in his jeans standing at the cashier’s counter of the corner store. She caught a peek of deliciously tanned skin between the top band of the jeans and the bottom hem of a worn T-shirt.

Esme was fortunate to work in a field that accommodated her needs. Yes, it was illegal work in many worlds, but she was able to earn a healthy profit from it.

And this man here, well, she had to have him. Her clients would thank her for it later. There were so many men on Earth, and the longer she could stay, the more inventory she’d have during the dry spells.

Esme licked her lips, coating their Paradise Pink color with her own warm juices. There were two people between her and that man. She swallowed hard, her addiction driving her hunger.

“The hell with this,” she mumbled. “I will have him.”

Esme released the bread, milk, and cherry Icee to fall hard on the floor. She barely heard the squeal of outrage from the woman in front of her. Esme had to hurry to follow him.

The man reached his truck and climbed in. Esme scooted around to the passenger door and quickly hopped in with him.

“What the hell?” he said as her door slammed shut. He turned to face her.

Esme gasped. This was the first she’d seen of his face, and his green eyes literally made her temporary human heart skip a beat. She knew of more than one pharmacist on her last world who would pay dearly for those eyes. They made wonderful aphrodisiacs when ground and mixed with herbs.

“What’s your problem, lady? Get out!”

The man grabbed her arm and started to drag her across the seat and out his door.

“Wait,” Esme cried, whipping up some tears. “I just need a ride.”

“I don’t have time for crazy people,” he said. “I have to get to work.”

“But I only live down the street.”

Esme watched him waver in his decision. He sighed and she had him, she knew.

Then Esme saw the other man coming toward their truck. No! How could he have tracked her to Earth?

“Let’s go,” she said loudly. “That man there? He’s my ex and he’ll kill us both. Come on!” She pulled the man back into his seat.

“Great,” he said as he started the truck and peeled out. “I knew you were trouble. Where do you live?”

“Turn left here.” Esme chanced a glance behind them. Sortoran was catching up fast as they hit a dirt road. He was in a black Mustang and running those horses hard.

Esme quickly reviewed her options as she bounced. The first was to kill him, and that was almost impossible. The second was to escape, and that was looking unlikely. Besides, Sortoran would only continue to hound her world by world. The bounty money on her was too good to pass up. With that thought, Esme then realized that the second option lead to the third option, which was the most realistic one.

“Stop the truck,” Esme yelled.

“What? I don’t have a gun.”

“You won’t need one,” she said, hoping it was true. “I’ll handle it.”

The man pulled over and Esme hopped out onto the red, Georgia clay. It spattered her own jeans as Sortoran screeched up beside her.

“Esme, Esme,” he said as he got out holding an electro-kill gun. “Aren’t you tired of running yet?”

“Aren’t you tired of chasing me yet?” She threw him a come-hither look out of habit.

“I’m about to be well compensated. And don’t try that sultry thing with me.”

Esme paused. “How about the money thing then? How about you work for me as my bodyguard?”

Sortoran frowned. “At what price? I’m already getting a fortune from the Guild to bring you in. You cost them a lot of money with your freelancing.”

“Twenty five percent of my gross,” Esme offered. “The sex substitute business is booming. Plenty of insanely wealthy people get off on being plugged into my sex life. Have you never watched me work?”

Esme watched Sortoran think. She knew he was tempted. She was the highest paid sex sub in seven galaxies, and his cut would be enormous compared to the Guild’s rates. Besides, she needed a bodyguard. Sortoran wasn’t the only bounty hunter after her, just the best.

He smiled, showing a lovely choice in dentistry for his human look. “You have a deal. Shall I start now?”

“Okay,” Esme said slowly. That was odd.

With that, Sortoran walked to the cab of the truck and electro-killed the man in jeans before Esme realized his intent.

She rushed to the beautiful, dead man and tenderly touched his forehead. She ran her fingers down his thigh to feel the aged smoothness of the denim.

“Why did you do that?” she cried. “He was going to make us both loads of money. He was going to be the star of my next broadcast.”

“No, he wasn’t. Just wait.”

Esme watched as the dead man’s human skin dissolved into a gooey mess which puddled around a thin, gray form, somewhat humanoid.

“Crap,” she said as she wiped her fingers. “A Faluvian. What a waste.” Esme tucked her hand into Sortoran’s elbow with a sigh. “Come buy me a drink.”

“Sure thing, Boss.”

Esme couldn’t help but notice how strong and firm Sortoran’s arm was under her grip. He was also handsome in a craggy sort of way. She chuckled. Maybe bounty hunting and bodyguarding weren’t his only talents. He could be a star. infinity

Linda A.B. Davis lives in Pensacola, FL, with her husband, Steve, and five furry
friends. She holds a Master’s degree in Communication Arts.



There’s No Sun Up In the Sky

By Otto Ballsem

ON THE DAY THE Authorities came to take away my guns I was replacing the thermal capacitors on my matched pair of hand-held gamma ray blasters. The Authorities wore crisp gray suits and carried slim black leather attaches. They stood at the door. They did not introduce themselves beyond flashing an Authority identity badge.

The green-skinned Authority spoke first. “We’ve come to confiscate your Mega Six Streaming Thunder.”

“That’s a water pistol. I don’t own one.”

“Are you Ezekiel Flummer?”

“Yes.” I straightened my bright orange tee-shirt. I fidget. I have anxiety issues, nothing serious, medications keep it under control.

The human Authority wasn’t saying anything. The green-skinned Authority did all the talking. “Well our records show that you possess a Mega Six Streaming Thunder.”

“Your records must be wrong. That’s a water pistol. I don’t own any water pistols. Why would I, what with the price of water these days?”

The human authority sighed. He seemed ill at ease. He quietly muttered to his green-skinned companion, “Maybe the records are wrong?” I could sense an impasse beginning to build.

“Come on in and look for yourselves,” I offered. “If you can find anything remotely resembling a water pistol, I’ll voluntarily check myself into the nearest ground meat facility.” The green-skinned invaders loved ground human flesh, lightly sauteed in onions, but the Articles of Armistice signed by the combined Earth governments with the Nrff Collection specifically forbid the Nrff from eating people, along with the requirement that the Nrff wear clothes when in public, in exchange for avoiding a long and bloody war that would lay to ruins both humans and Nrff. It seemed an amenable solution. But the Nrff were not good at compromising and, as so many frustrated humans were wont to say, “Give the Nrff a meter and they’ll take a furlong.”

Why the Nrff got a stick up their butts about water guns—Nrff didn’t really have butts—is anybody’s guess. Since global warming got a choke hold on the planet, Earth had been dry as a bone. What little water was available had to be expensively distilled from the remaining oceans; all humans got a weekly allotment for survival; beyond that, the precious liquid was worth more than gold.

“What are those?” the green-skinned Authority indicated my disassembled weapons on the table.

“Gamma ray blasters. They’re not water pistols. Geez! You’d think by now you guys would know the difference!”

Nrff, as we later found out, could not tolerate water. It didn’t kill them, if that’s what you’re thinking. They broke out in an itchy rash for which they had no cure. The rash could last for weeks, after which the Nrff were left in a perilously weakened condition.

The green-skinned Authority looked around for another minute. “Okay,” he said. The two Authorities departed quietly.

Here’s where it gets interesting. My brother works for the Weather Station. Earth still has weather: hot, hotter, hot and dusty, hot and windy, not as hot. My brother told me on the phone last week that he was part of an experiment that, if successful, would “come to the rescue” of mankind. Very soon. He could say no more.

I peered out my window at the two Authorities as they walked down the street. I noticed the clear, sunny sky begin to overcast, darken. This was something I hadn’t seen in more than forty years. Neither had the human Authority. He looked up. The green-skinned Authority didn’t know what to make of it. Then the raindrops fell. It rained steadily, all over the planet, for almost a week.

On the day the Authorities came to take away my guns, I was free. infinity

Otto Ballsem insists that he lives an obvious life processing words from his home in the chilly Northeast, and keeping his black Labrador happy and well fed.



Comes the Shape of Things

By Jez Patterson

“I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND how we failed to pick it up until it got this close,” her Deputy Minister said, more worried about the performance of their long-range scanners than the fact getting an answer wouldn’t change what was about to happen. “Doesn’t make sense.”

“Would you leave it, Jefferson!” said another.

Nerves weren’t just ragged, they were stripped down to the wires and then shot through with enough juice to fry ...

Vera quit the image. Too close to what was coming. Anyway, it was time she justify her position and organise the henhouse. She’d taken a headcount, but those before her were currently running round with distinctly lightweight necks.

“Ladies. Gentlemen. Apportioning blame for this is counterproductive. That thing is out there and is headed our way. Our concern should be how to divert it.”

“The electrical impulses it produces are probably why you didn’t pick it up,” someone with a Ph.D. told the scapegoat-hunting Jefferson. “Masked its presence. Might even be some evolved camouflaging technique.”

“Thanks,” Vera said as Jefferson and those tainted by the failure began exchanging accusations again. The scientist pointed at his chest with an innocent what did I do? expression.

It reminded her of Ken every wedding anniversary.


Sometimes, these things just happened.

What was happening right now was some vast cosmic creature big enough to wrap itself round the butt cheek of their planet and frazzle everything living that walked, swam, flew.

“It’s how some fish stun their victims,” Simon, the same scientist who had kept the arguments rolling earlier, told them. You wanted things done, you reduced from quorum to committee to cabinet to coven. Macbeth got it right. Three was the magic number.

“That thing we thought was a meteor?”

“Is its brain. It’s about the size of our moon. All the nerve endings congregate there.” If thoughts could kill, thought Vera and huffed at her own humour in their darkest hour.

“Tell me we can just send up something that can pop it.”

“Well, not pop exactly,” Simon said. “But yes. We can’t send ships because their navigation systems will be made inoperable. A conventional, fuel-driven rocket will do the trick.”

They knew how to make missiles. Big powerful ones. Not because they had a need on Jollie, but because Earth’s history had come up with the recipe, then subsequently buried it when conquest became a question of travel rather than war.

“How long will it take to build?” she asked her husband. Never marry an engineer, her mother had said. They won’t break your heart, they’ll tell you why that’s a physical impossibility.

“Seven hours.”

“I’ll give you five,” Vera said, because it was expected. Ken just nodded and Vera saw she hadn’t been outplayed, and that he would find a way to do it in five.

You’d have thought with the end of the world looming he would have shown a bit more emotion. Or that she would have been rather more centred on priorities too, for that matter.


The world watched because there was nothing to be gained from blocking its screens. The thermonuclear device slid through the mock-gelatinous flesh of the huge floating creature, electrical charges exploding behind it as it severed nerve endings en route to the brain.

The impact shook the heavens, though down on Jollie the earth didn’t move.

When the flash died, there were no cheers. The large round brain was still intact. For a moment at least. Enough to receive the collective groan of disappointment. Vera had led the chorus. Then, like a huge egg being broken on the lip of the mixing bowl, it cracked in two and the halves separated.

At least someone knew the script.

Three hours later though, it was back to square one. With, well, two players.

“The thing divided,” Vera repeated, shaking her head. “Where we had one huge blob, now we have two.” She concentrated on not looking Ken’s way when she said it.

“Like an amoeba,” said Simon. “Fascinating. I mean: to separate its brain that way.”

“We can send two devices,” Ken said.

“You’ve read the Magician’s Assistant?” Simon asked. “There’s no reason to think we won’t then have four. Then eight. Exponentially increasing each time we attacked the brain.”

“Then we send a hundred up there, timed to explode, vaporise the thing!”

Vera was only disappointed Ken’s outburst was out of the question. It would be like the rotor of a motorboat shredding a jellyfish: all you got was millions of charged, broken tentacles raining down on the planet. Death by electrified needles? Hardly an improvement.

“Then we’re done for!” Ken said, and she thought: finally.

But in their darkest hours, sometimes someone had merely forgotten where they’d left the candles.


“It provoked us into attacking it?” Vera asked, breathless from being called back from her private quarters.

“It seems to be a necessary part of its reproductive process. Clearly it needs some momentous result to facilitate division. The threats it poses cause the victim to attack it. Once that’s happened ... The two creatures simply move on elsewhere.”

“Things sometimes need a jolt,” she agreed. “Tell the populace. I’ll tell my husband.” Eventually, she added wondering where she could get a bottle of champagne from at this late hour. infinity

Jez Patterson is a British teacher, currently based in Madrid. His fiction has appeared in “Penumbra Literary Magazine,” and “Daily Science Fiction.”