Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Stone 382
by Sean Monaghan

A.I. Oh!
by Tom Doyle

Castle of the Slave
by Aliyah Whiteley

Home From Home
by Mark English

Aliens With Candy
by Michael Andre-Driussi

A Cumdumpster Kid
by Rebecca L. Brown

Harmony, Chaos, and the Reign Thereof
by Kyle White

Potential Killer
by Fredrick Obermeyer

Cinderella's Holo-Wand
by Sarina Dorie

Ears, Eyes, Nose ... and Throat
by Jez Patterson


Cargo Cultism
by Eric M. Jones

Coronal Mass Ejection by John McCormick




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips




Cinderella’s Holo-Wand

By Sarina Dorie

WITH A PACKAGE UNDER HER arm, Kerri waited at the crosswalk while hover cars in the street rushed by. Her belly rumbled from skipping lunch, so she broke off a piece of chocolate bar in her pocket and nibbled on a few squares. Traffic slowed to a stop. A man on an old-fashioned motorcycle removed his helmet and looked her up and down. Her heart skipped a beat upon seeing his long black hair flowing behind him and his chiseled features. He smiled appreciatively.

Warmth crept into Kerri’s cheeks. For a moment, she forgot she was forty-two, overweight, and wearing her blandest business suit. She thought he was eying her. She wanted him to be. The spell was broken when two teenage girls giggled behind her. They strode past Kerri, their fashionable mini-skirts showing off long, shapely legs.

The man’s eyes flickered to her metal leg, pity flashing across his visage before he returned his helmet to his head.

Kerri rolled her eyes, disgusted at herself for thinking the model-gorgeous man could possibly be ogling her.

She limped across the crosswalk, her prosthetic leg slowing her down.

Kerri reasoned if it wasn’t for her injury, she could look like those teenagers. Even when she did have time to eat healthy meals and go to the gym for more than two days during the week, trying to look like a normal woman was impossible with a hunk of metal attached to her thigh.

But all that was about to change.

Breathless by the time she reached her apartment, Kerri held her hand up to the security pad. She shifted from foot to foot in impatience as she waited for the door to her apartment to unlock. Her fingers danced over the package she carried.

Kerri needed to start dinner and check her work emails before the board meeting that night. Still, she couldn’t resist the urge to at least open her order from Holo Visions Cosmetics. Giddy as a child on Christmas morning, she tore through the tape with a pair of scissors. She sifted through the biodegradable peanuts and found the metal baton. Rows of buttons and dials lined the holo-wand. She plugged the adaptor into an outlet in the living room and pressed the on button.

A pleasant female voice announced, “Welcome to Holo Visions Cosmetics. In order to make the most of your purchase, please watch and listen to the new user orientation.” A hologram rose in the air from the wand, blocking her wall screen and couch with the image of a beautiful woman on a tropical beach.

Kerri had already read the product manual and tested out the online version of the program. She knew exactly what she needed to do. She waved her hand in the air to swipe away the introduction. When the user agreement came up, she tapped her hand in the air against the “I accept” button and scrolled to the menu.

She selected the scan icon.

“Please remove all clothing for an accurate scan,” the automated voice said.

Kerri threw off her clothes. She shivered in the chill of her apartment. She proceeded to wave the wand up and down in the air around her body, paying particular attention to the remainder of her mangled leg. Before her, an image of a human body materialized. She recognized the flat chest, flabby belly and unshapely thighs as hers, yet they looked so much worse on a 3-D hologram than when she looked in the mirror. Worst of all was the void where the metal leg screwed into hers. A cross hatching of scars lined the lower half of her body. Her breath caught in her throat. Even after years of physical therapy and a dozen reconstructive surgeries, she never got used to seeing her injuries from the hover bus accident.

“Please move the wand slowly across the face for an accurate scan.”

Kerri had no intention of reconstructing anything other than her leg. Still, she followed the program’s instructions, noting the way the generic manikin came to resemble her with eyes that were a little too small and lips too thin to be aesthetically pleasing. The scanner captured her weak chin, thin brown hair streaked with silver, and the start of a wattle under her chin. The computer saw through the layer of carefully applied makeup she wore to hide her wrinkles. It showed the truth of her imperfections.

Until recently, this technology had been used by doctors for creating replicas of burn victim’s faces to guide reconstruction, and for plastic surgeons to demonstrate what patients might look like who underwent liposuction or breast implants. With the newest advancements in holo fields, it made such surgeries unneeded. For those who could afford it anyway. Having a good credit score like Kerri did meant taking out a loan was another option.

“For modifications, select the enhancement button,” the computer-generated voice commanded.

Kerri turned the wand over, finding the glowing green button with ease. She loved how user-friendly the product was. A golden ring appeared around her avatar’s middle. Kerri waved her hand over the halo, pushing it down to her legs. She scrolled through the options, selecting the one for symmetrical balance. The human avatar before her now looked whole, with two complete legs.

“Wave the wand over the desired area again to apply this selection,” the computer voice said.

A holo outline flickered into view around the metal leg. The holo field tingled against her skin, causing goosebumps to rise on her flesh. She waved the wand over her leg again. The field filled in with her skin pigment cinderellaand solidified. The goosebumps that had been on her bare thigh now reflected across her computer generated leg. She smoothed her fingers over the new knee and down to the ankle, amazed at how real it felt.

Kerri tentatively stepped forward. She rolled onto the ball of her foot and back to her heel. The projection responded like it belonged to her. Tears filled her eyes and she laughed. For the first time in nearly twenty years, she felt like herself. She wanted to run. To jump. To do cartwheels and all the other things she hadn’t been able to do since she was young. She could already feel how much more of a cushion this was on her thigh. Best of all, no one was going to give her those pitying looks anymore.

“Are you finished with your alterations or would you like to implement additional changes to your body?” the voice asked.

Kerri eyed her avatar. She looked normal for her age, nothing special. She had sneered at the advertisements showing women erasing their wrinkles and increasing their bust size. But now, with the holo-wand in her hand, she didn’t think a test simulation would hurt her.

She glanced at the clock, amazed an hour had passed. She should have started dinner by now. Then again, she could heat up a frozen dinner and eat it as she reviewed the information for the board meeting they were having in a few hours. That would give her time to play just a little longer.

She started with her flat chest, first enhancing the size and then the shape. To start, she went up a cup size and gave her breasts a lift. But curious what she would look like with double D cups, she had to try it.

She walked around the avatar, admiring the way her endowments made her flabby belly and lumpy thighs less hideous.

“If satisfied with this selection, please press enter and wave the holo-wand over the area of the body requiring change.”

Kerri did so, shivering as the holo field prickled against her bare flesh. Motion in her peripheral vision caught her attention. Looking past her only partially drawn curtains, an old man in the apartment next to hers stared, his mouth hanging open.

“Oh shit!” Kerri ducked out from his view and closed the curtains.

She checked the digital clock on the wall. She still had time to warm up a frozen dinner before getting ready for her meeting. It wasn’t like she could wear these breasts to her work meeting. No one would take city council’s proposal for the grant seriously if they were staring at her country-singer-sized chest.

On the other hand, staring at her more attractive self, she was compelled to see what she would look like without belly flab. After another hour of playing with her enhancements, her nose became long and straight instead of turned up. Her eyelashes transformed into long, black ones, contrasting against her smooth skin as fair as porcelain. The holo field cinched her waist into an hour glass figure. The vivacious blonde hair flowing down her back had been a last minute touch. She posed and the avatar posed like a human-sized doll. If she walked out of her apartment looking like this, no one would know her. She could lead a secret life. She smiled at the idea of showing up to work and seducing that cute messenger boy.

The thought of work brought her back to reality. She glanced at the clock. She definitely didn’t have time to make dinner and read emails. Then again, she could swallow a snack pill and have a real meal later. That would give her time to play a little longer ...

She selected a conservative, flowered dress from her walk-in closet. The research she’d done indicated that if she selected the fashion feature on the wand, her old clothes would fit her body while the holo field altered itself to mirror the clothes underneath. Amazingly it did so. When she waved the wand over the wrinkles in the fabric, they smoothed away as easily as they had over her face. Not yet satisfied, she changed the color of the dress to a solid red and flared out the skirt.

Only when she went to the back of the closet for an ancient pair of heels she hadn’t worn in years did she feel the holo field against her skin dissipate. She stumbled as her weight changed back to her prosthesis. She looked down to see her sagging breasts under her flowered dress. When she stepped out of the closet, the holo field prickled against her skin and the field around her waist constricted her again. Backing up into the far corner, the field left her.

The reviews hadn’t said anything about a limit to the range of the wand.

She called the menu back up in her living room. “What’s the range of the holo-wand? It doesn’t have a limited signal, does it?”

Kerri glanced at the clock. She had emails to read and some data to print out before she left her house. But it wouldn’t hurt if she just figured out this last detail.

There was a pause before the automated voice responded. “Would you like to know more about long distance usage?”

“Yes,” Kerri said firmly so the computer wouldn’t mistake her reply.

“Roaming charges cost an additional five hundred dollars a day.”

Kerri swore at the machine. Of course, Holo Visions Cosmetics would think of a way to charge another arm and a leg. Another fee would dip into what she had in her bank account saved up for rent. On the other hand, what good was it to have this body if she didn’t take it out of the apartment?

“If you would like to pay the roaming fee, please have your credit card ready,” the holo-wand said.

Kerri got it out. If she didn’t read everyone’s emails before tonight’s board meeting, she wouldn’t have all the information needed for the presentation. On the other hand ... she could check her email from her phone on the way to city hall. Half an hour was all she needed. She could go back to playing with the holo-wand after the meeting. This wouldn’t be like the time she got sucked into that
i-fitness skydiving game and was late for work.

A holo-wand replica appeared in her avatar’s hand. Her likeness demonstrated how to untwist the end to remove a metal ring the size of a large washer. White and green lights lit the piece.

“Please keep this antenna on you at all times.” The ring became a fashionable amulet hanging on a silver chain around her avatar’s neck. “If you would like to turn it off, twist it like so.”

With a string she found in the kitchen drawer, she recreated the necklace around her neck.

She strode out her door with her smallest purse, determined to take a quick test stroll around her apartment building before heading back up. Her neighbors held the door for her at the elevator. Mr. Mitchells looked her up and down.

“Hello,” Kerri said, wondering if they recognized her.

“Um, well, h-h-hello. Are you new here?” Mr. Mitchells stammered. His wife elbowed him in the ribs, her lips pursing.

Kerri giggled, feeling like a teenager. Though, not the teenager she’d once been with her mousy brown hair and pudgy baby fat.

She walked around the block, admiring the naked desire on men’s faces. Sunlight glittered across her toned arms, drawing the stares of women as well. She passed by the athletic club, doing a double take at the leggy blonde that was her reflection. She couldn’t help smiling at her sexier herself. She batted her extra long eyelashes. The motion beyond the glass caught her attention. Three attractive men lifting weights stood gawking at her. One of the men handed a dumbbell to his beefy friend, but the iron weight fell through his fingers onto the floor. He stared out the window. She didn’t need to glance around to see what had distracted them; she knew it was her. She raised a hand and waved. One of the men sitting on the weight machine leaned forward.

Kerri blew him a kiss and winked at him. She would never have done such a thing normally. She laughed at herself. This is what it was like to be beautiful. She let her hips swing like Marilyn Monroe. She held her head high, meeting the eyes of men she passed and allowing a sultry smile to play across her lips. She could do anything she wanted in this mask.

At the end of the street, she stopped at the crosswalk, tempted to prolong her excursion a little longer.

A man in a hover car called out to her, “Hey, hot stuff! You need a date tonight?”

A motorcycle passed her, screeched and braked. Kerri stared at the twenty-first century vehicle. It was rare to see gas-fueled vehicles anymore except among collectors and this was the second one she had seen today. The helmeted rider turned his head over his shoulder to gaze at her. A hover car beeped behind him. The rider revved his engine, hopped the vehicle up onto the sidewalk, and pulled up beside her.

Kerri placed a hand on her hour glass waist and struck what she hoped was a sexy pose. She raised an eyebrow. He removed his helmet.

He was the same rider as before. His long mane of black hair wafted in the breeze. His leather motorcycle jacket was shiny and pristine. Even the imperfection of the scar across his cheek couldn’t mar his romance novel handsomeness. His lips parted and his mouth worked like he wanted to speak but no words came out. This was the first time she’d ever seen such hunger in anyone’s eyes for her. Especially from an attractive man fifteen years her junior. Her heart fluttered.

He held out his hand to her. She took it, thinking he meant to shake it or kiss it. Instead, he tugged her closer and kissed her on the mouth. She’d never been kissed by a hot stranger. Granted, it was a little sloppy. Like her first kiss from Hal Reynolds when she was sixteen. But that probably just meant he was passionate; her beauty brought out a beast in him. Something about the idea of that stirred desire in her.

He broke away and handed her the helmet. From his wicked grin, she understood he wanted her to wear it. To ride off with him?

But the meeting ... She had responsibilities. Then again, to hell with it! Board meetings were for boring, ugly women. This was the new her. She deserved an adventure, damn it.

She put on the helmet and climbed behind him. Her heart raced as he whizzed into traffic, leaving the area of nicer apartment complexes and condos, passing high rises of shopping malls, and heading into the residential neighborhood of mansions.

Her insides quivered as she realized her holo body had attracted a handsome millionaire. This really was the best day of her life.

He parked the motorcycle in the middle of an empty driveway. She followed him up to the entrance. He pressed his palm against the security panel and hugged the other around her.

Kerri noticed how hard his belly was under her fingers. It was the washboard abs gym commercials advertised. Could she really be with a millionaire, body-building hunk? She pressed herself closer against him and kissed him again. Again, it wasn’t very good, but it had been four years since she’d last gotten laid, so she didn’t think she should be so picky about minute details like that.

He led her up a winding staircase, their footsteps echoing in the empty mansion. He pushed through a door covered with a poster of a basketball player. Inside, there were more posters on the wall. On one side of the room was a twin sized bed, on the other was a desk and chair. Sports equipment peeked out from a closet. A science textbook sat on the top of a stack of other books next to a backpack.

Kerri hesitated. This was a kid’s room. This guy had to be married. She glanced down the hall at the other closed doors. Did he have a wife behind one of them?

He tugged her hand, leading her to the bed. He let his jacket fall to the floor and unbuttoned his jeans.

Kerri cleared her throat, uncertainty creeping over her. “I don’t even know your name.”

“Mickey,” his voice came out high and child-like. He cleared his throat and coughed. He said his name again in a deep voice that was obviously fake. Kerri saw the holo ring on the chain around his neck. At once she understood.

She grabbed it and twisted. The grad school-aged hottie disappeared. A scrawny young man with his jeans around his ankles stood before her. The stubble that had been on his face was replaced by smooth, youthful skin. The scar was gone, as was the long hair. It was unlikely he was even sixteen.

His youthful face affected her like a sucker punch in the gut. She struggled to breathe. Her thoughts raced with horror. She’d almost had sex with a minor! With a kid!

No wonder he was such an inexperienced kisser. He hurriedly yanked his pants up.

The shock on his face gave way to shame, then anger. Kerri backed toward the door. She reached under her collar and held up her own holo ring. With a twist, she returned to her former self.

His high voice cracked. “Oh, my god!” He made a retching noise.

Kerri turned away and stumbled down the stairs. The metal of her prosthetic limb clanked against the floor. Her eyes filled with tears. This was the most humiliating day of her life. She couldn’t believe she’d been so stupid. She checked her watch. Ugh! She was late for the board meeting. Her heart raced as she came crashing back to reality. What the hell had she been thinking? She needed to check her emails. She wasn’t going to get the grant. She should call someone and tell them she ran into traffic.

And she needed to return the holo-wand.

Kerri ran out the door and panted as she limped down the sidewalk. Another two blocks and she would probably find a hover taxi with ease.

A holo billboard in the sky shimmered with a Holo Vision Cosmetics advertisement. Her heart lurched in her chest when she saw the words: “The Holo-wand 2 is available now! No roaming fees!” infinity

Sarina Dorie's previous story for “Perihelion” was in the April update. Her stories have also appeared in “Neo-Opsis,” “Bards and Sages,” “Crossed Genres,” and “Untied Shoelaces of the Mind.” She has won the Penn Cove Literary Award three times. Her novel, “Silent Moon,” is about to be published by Soul Mate Press.