Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Carillion’s Schemes
by Michael Hodges

by Edward H. Parks

It Don’t Mean a Thing
by A. Miller

Morning Glories
by Jude-Marie Green

Take a Good Look
by Holly Schofield

Fifty Kilograms
by Jim Stewart

Jupiter Hero
by Rob Pearce

Breaking Eggs
by Justin Woolley

To Hunt a Sky Eel
by Daniel Ausema

Gone Fishin’
by Thomas Canfield

Archangels of Heaven
by Leslie Lupien


Faster Than a Speeding Bullet
by Eric M. Jones

A Turn to the Dark Side
by John McCormick




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips





Galeux D’Eysines Forever

MY FRIEND BOB MANAGES the neighborhood community garden, roughly a vacant lot up the street that the city has been unable to sell and therefore allows the residents in the area to plant and cultivate vegetables in the space during the warmer months. The cost to participate is ten dollars per raised bed. You get a name tag to affix to your bed so everybody else will keep their mitts off your produce.

Last year I took half of one of Bob’s beds. My neighbor across the yard had purchased too many butternut squash seedlings and gave me the leftovers. The plantings were very successful and I must have harvested close to a dozen good sized squashes, many of which I distributed to other neighbors.

I bought a whole bed this year with the intent to grow broccoli and more squash. However, time and other priorities conspired to leave me with nothing to plant during the critical sowing weeks. I mentioned to Bob that he would be more than welcome to use my bed.

“Plant these,” he directed, handing me a nondescript envelope containing a number of large dark-colored seeds. There was some handwriting on the envelope, but I couldn’t make out what it said.

“Are these giant beanstalk seeds that will sprout up into the clouds overnight?” I asked, tongue in cheek.

“I think they are squash,” he replied. He also had a large quantity of Italian pole bean seeds that he had obtained, coincidentally, from my neighbors two houses up the street who had grown an entire driveway’s length of magnificent Italian pole beans the year before. I like Italian pole beans.

“Great! I’ll plant the beans in half the bed and the squash in the other half.”

And so I did. It was a wet and warm summer. One month later, the bean plants were taller than I was and the squash were beginning to develop—little white orbs protruding from the bases of the yellow flowers. Other beds were cultivating zucchini, butternut squashes, peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce. I mention this as a point of comparison. Because, in another few weeks, while other peoples’ squashes were taking on the characteristic crooked bowling pin shape and greenish tinge of immature butternut squash, my vegetables were looking more and more like oblate soccer balls. These could not be butternut squash, I deduced. But what were they? From what planet had they come? How did Bob get hold of the seeds? If I fall asleep near them, will they snatch my body?

“What in the world did you give me?” I asked Bob.

“I don’t know. I thought they were squash.”

“Do they look like squash?”

Later, I investigated the mystery on the Internet. With the skill of a modern day Sherlock Holmes, I typed squash + varieties into the Google search box and immediately clicked on “images.” In the upper left corner was a menu selection for Identify. Great. This would be the quickest identification since Act 2 of the last episode of “CSI: NY.” Twenty minutes later I wasn’t so sure. I had pored over dozens of squash mug shots, grocery aisle lineups, and farm field panoramas, but had completely failed to find a match to the strange inhabitants of my garden bed up the street. The pictured squashes were either the wrong color, wrong shape, or wrong size. Maybe they weren’t ... gasp! ... squash, after all?

I widened the dragnet to include gourds. Squash are members of the larger gourd family. But not all gourds are edible. That would be disappointing. Fortunately, I was anything but disappointed. Halfway down the page of pictures, there it was. A perfect match. The flattened spheroid shape was dead on. The creamy off-white color couldn’t have been closer. Even the attached vines and dark yellow flowers were the spitting images. Of yellow pumpkins. Waddya think of that? I was growing yellow pumpkins. Yellow pumpkins, by the way, are supposed to be quite delicious.

“Yellow pumpkins,” I proudly announced to Bob several days later.

He pointed to one of the larger fruits. “Do yellow pumpkins get tumors?” he asked.

“What?” Clinging to the side of the largest pumpkin were a handful of small, brownish encrustations, like garden barnacles. On closer inspection, they looked remarkably like little peanut shells. Undoubtedly only a blemish. Although I’m no farmer, growing up in upstate New York, I’ve been around gardens long enough to realize that homegrown vegetables often carry minor blemishes.

“Blemishes,” I said. “Not to worry. They’ll be fine.”

A week later, the peanut-like encrustations were all over the pumpkins. A few of the pumpkins were so warty you couldn’t even see the rind. This, clearly, was ominous. I must mention also, at this time, the vines from my pumpkin patch had spread throughout the entire garden. The vines had crawled up onto my Italian pole beans (remember them?) and were choking the life out of thpumpkinse innocent legumes. I’d nevertheless managed to get a satisfying harvest from the beans, so, with a morbid fascination, I was no longer concerned with the beans and, with all the glee of a mad scientist, waited to see how fast and far the strange pumpkins would spread. Would they devour the city?

“I know what they are!” exclaimed Bob’s wife, Linda, a few days later, at the edge of the garden holding out a piece of paper. I took the information sheet and there was a picture of an oblate spheroid yellow pumpkin with peanut-like warts all over the rind.

The Burpee Seeds Catalog page continued: “Galeux D’Eysines is a highly decorative pumpkin with peanut warts that also makes for delicious eating. This heirloom’s lovely French name translates, prettily enough, as embroidered with warts from Eysines, that being a small town in southwest France. This pumpkin’s random peanut warts bedeck the flesh-colored outer skin.”

“How about that?” I beamed. “Heirloom pumpkins with a fancy French name.”

Since, I have harvested over a dozen of these curious pumpkins, weighing in from ten to 20 pounds. I’ve given some to friends and neighbors for the purpose of making pumpkin pies, from scratch. They claim to know how. I don’t have any idea. But I downloaded a recipe for pumpkin pie from scratch off the Internet. It doesn’t look too difficult. I may give it a shot next week. Several of the larger yellow, warty pumpkins have been sitting on my back porch for many nights while I slept and I am still very much myself. I have no desire to load pumpkins into the back of my car and carry them off to other cities and towns. So I am looking forward to tasty pumpkin pies.

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Jack Vance