Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


19th In Love
by Gerard Mulligan

Nelay and the Blunt
by Clint Spivey

Fletcher’s Mountains
by Michael Hodges

Robert and Sarah, Across the Multiverse
by Matthew S. Dent

Boccaccio in Outer Space
by Chet Gottfried

Invoking Fire
by Guy Stewart

Seven Seconds
by Charles Payseur

by Simon Kewin

Coming of AGE
by Bob Sojka

A Journey Through the Wormhole
by Brian Biswas


A Taste for Physics
by John McCormick

Scale of the Problem by Eric M. Jones




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips




Robert and Sarah, Across the


By Matthew S. Dent

ROBERT AND SARAH MET in Starbucks, near the Tower of London.

Sarah had fallen out with one of her friends. A mouthy cow called Alexa, who wasn’t really her friend but had unaccountably tagged along with the group. A stupid argument had escalated until Sarah stormed off.

As she fumed over a coffee—skinny decaf latte, one sugar—a male baritone interrupted her thoughts. A handsome man in a smart business suit asked if the seat next to her was free. He introduced himself as Robert.

They started talking, finding that they had grown up in the same town. When the cafe closed they were still talking. Sarah’s friends had caught the train home without her, and Robert had missed his business meeting. He invited her out for dinner.

They dated for a year and a half before Robert proposed, and they married on clear autumn day. It was cold but beautiful, with golden leaves raining down around them.

By Christmas Sarah was expecting their first child, and their daughter Lucy was born in the summer. Robert had a high level job in a multinational corporation. Sarah was a stay-at-home mum.

As their lives wore on, their happiness faded. Sarah spent her afternoons drunk, and mornings hungover. Robert’s interest in her waned, and he spent more and more time at the office. Lucy, looked after by the nanny, saw little of either parent.

The marriage finally disintegrated when Sarah, drunk, stumbled into Robert’s office to find him fucking his nineteen year old secretary on the desk. She took a massive overdose of sleeping pills and cheap wine, and was found dead on the sofa by the nanny.

Lucy went to live with Sarah’s parents, and Robert moved in with his secretary. He had nothing more to do with his daughter and she grew up without parents.


Robert and Sarah met under a blood-red Martian sky.

Sunrise was cold over Utopia City, and Sarah huddled into the warmth of her environmental suit. She had only arrived on latest colonist tranche, and it was all still fresh and exciting to her.

When she looked up into Robert's face, the colours looked wrong from staring at the sand.

He ushered her aboard the survey transport, and as it bumped and jostled across the crimson landscape, he gave the same old safety talk to a gaggle of geophysicists and exobiologists, eager to start poking around with rocks and frozen bacteria. None of the listened.

Robert was still talking when the axe snapped. The impact as the transport—a metal tin trawling across an alien plain—flung him into a bulkhead, and as the air rushed out he barely managed to click down the catches of his helmet in time.

None of the scientists were wearing theirs. They mimed in grotesque charade, gasping and clawing at their throats. One was nearby him. The redhead he had noticed before they set off. He quickly clipped on her helmet, and heard the relieved intake of breath over her radio as air flooded into her lungs.

The rescue squad found them nearly forty-eight hours later. A misfiled journey plan had delayed the search and rescue. They were huddled together frozen blue and inseparable. They were taken back to Utopia City as one.

Robert and Sarah saw each other again only once after that. After fresh clones were pulled from the vats mere weeks later, they passed in a corridor, still dripping with electrolyte.

Neither recognised the other.


Robert and Sarah never met.

In the late cretaceous, an asteroid that in another universe might have hit, missed the earth. A long winter of extinction was avoided, and the giant reptiles never died out. The race of primates which might have been called homo sapiens was consigned to the list of unrealised realities.


Robert and Sarah met at a speed dating night.

Both were divorced, wearing scars—mental and physical—of failed relationships. Robert’s wife had been a serial adulterer, eventually leaving him for his best man. Sarah’s husband was an abusive drunk, rotting in prison after beating her half to death.

Both felt silly, and when the first sparks struck Sarah gratefully accepted Robert’s suggestion to get a cup of coffee. They found a quiet diner down the road from the community centre.

Robert bought the drinks. He took his coffee black with one sugar. Sarah stirred milk into hers.

They talked about their lives, and their disappointments in love. Sarah didn’t mention her ex-husband’s abuse. She just twirled her black-dyed hair around her finger and listened, as Robert went on at length about his bitch of an ex-wife.

They parted in the rain. Robert gave Sarah his number, and she promised to call him. But when she got home, she screwed up the note and threw it into the bin. She didn’t need someone hung up on another woman.


Robert and Sarah met at a lunar wedding.

Robert was best man to Sarah’s cousin, executives in the same interplanetary haulage firm, jumping cargo from one inhabited system to the next. Sarah had refused to be a bridesmaid, unable to stand the troll of a bride -- but her mother had nagged her into attending. She spent most of the ceremony massaging her temples against a blossoming headache.

She didn’t dance at the reception. Robert, the only other guest not on the dancefloor, was feeling unwell. The low gravity always made him queasy. They commiserated over their ailments appreciating the irony of a man whose very business was between worlds suffering from space sickness. As the party died down, they even managed a dance.

They had glorious eight months together before Sarah was diagnosed with a brain tumour. By then, they had toured Ceti Alpha, and the jewels of the Orion arm. She had moved in with him, and after telling Robert the awful news she packed a suitcase and left. She said she didn’t want him to have to watch her die. He chased her down to the docks, telling her that he wanted to be there while she lived.

They married five months later, in the lunar town where they had met. Sarah was in a wheelchair. Robert spent all his money on revolutionary treatments, bankrupting himself. Gene therapy, stem cell, injections, radiation baths. One radical idea after another—and not a one fulfilling their grandiose promise.

She died only two months after they said their vows.

Despondent, Robert fought his depression until Christmas. He stole a transport freighter from his former company, and headed out into the long night between stars. Perhaps somewhere out there he would find the answers he longed for.


Sarah was a brilliant physicist, driven by a desperate curiosity about the origins of the universe.

After a dazzling academic career, she spearheaded a project to build a supercollider around a star. The most powerful tool ever conceived of, she was convinced that it would break open the deepest mystery of life and herald a shining new era for humanity.

Robert was one of her financiers. His fortune made through a shipping business and subsequent sound investments, not only got project origin off the ground, but gave the influence to get donations and support rolling in.

It took thirty years to build. They were both there when the finished collider was fired up.

Particles raced around the steel ring at terrifying speeds. The collision, the first collision, was everything they had hoped for. As the data rolled in, Sarah trembled, salivating at the thought of what would be contained within.

But Robert—in that blinding flash, that moment of the fabric of the universe being torn apart, he felt like a God. All of time, all of existence, all that could ever have been, was lain out before him. For the briefest of instants he felt he could see it all, rolling on forever.

There on the cusp of a million new frontiers, their worn and wearied hands found each other.


Robert and Sarah met in a dank back-alley in Soho.

They had gone to the same school, though they had never met. After her A-Levels Sarah had gone off to Cambridge to read English. In her second year, she turned to occasional drug use to blunt the edge of her stress. She dropped out after it became a full blown addiction and, when her despairing parents kicked her out, turned to prostitution to pay for the heroin.

Robert had never gone to university. He had taken a job as an accountant in a small local firm, and was elected as a member of Parliament on a groundswell of anti-political feeling when scandal hit his longstanding predecessor.

He chose Sarah because she looked the cleanest. Years of drug abuse had hollowed her out, leaving only a bag of bones. Her once-pretty ice blue eyes were sunken and bloodshot. She asked if he wanted to go to a hotel, but he told her to pull down her knickers right there.

Two minutes of gasping and grasping, and it was over. Robert paid her, and left into his chauffer-driven Jaguar with a look of disgust on his face. Sarah used her underwear to wipe his semen off her thighs, and went in search of her next customer.

Neither noticed the man with the camera, in the shadows.

The pictures were all over the tabloids the next day. A reporter tracked Sarah down, and paid her a handsome sum for her story. She blew it on drugs, and was found dead in the same alleyway a week later.

Robert resigned in disgrace. His wife left him, his children disowned him, and he spent the remainder of his days bitterly cursing the name of the whore who had destroyed him.


Robert and Sarah met at a New Year’s party in the North Tower of the World Trade Centre.

It was a corporate do. Robert was a rising star of a venture capital company, and Sarah a junior partner in a small advertising firm. Neither had any personal friends in New York. Having wished their family and friends back in England a happy new year several hours ago, they had both attended to pass the time.

They were introduced by colleagues. As the party wore on they remained rapt in conversation.

Robert thought she was beautiful and sweet, with her red hair, her icy blue eyes and the most brilliant dry wit he had ever known.

Sarah had swooned for Robert as soon as she saw him. His chiselled jaw, the charcoal smudge of stubble on his face, his warm voice, and the slight greying of his hair at the temples. She had always been a sucker for the older, wizened look.

As the clocks tolled the first hour of 2017 they stood alone on the balcony, sipping white wine. The whole city was laid out below them.

“Do you ever get the feeling that ... all this has happened before?” Robert asked.

Sarah looked up at him in surprise. “You mean like déjà vu?”

He shook his head. “More like other places, other ways. You know there are supposed to be infinite realities, all slightly different?”

Sarah smiled, and took another sip of wine. It was the tired talk of someone more drunk than he looked. That was all.

“I wonder how many times we’ve crossed paths out there. And how it worked out.” He turned his gaze upwards, to the sky peppered with stars in spite of the light pollution. He suddenly looked much older, ancient.

Sarah slipped into his embrace like into a warm bath. “I wonder how this time will measure up then?” she asked. They smiled and shared a kiss in the cold air, a thousand feet above the world. infinity

Matthew S. Dent is a British writer of short horror and science fiction. His stories have been published in a range of venues, including Blood Bound Books’ “Night Terrors II” and in Aphelion webzine. More about him can be found at his blog.

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