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




Archangels of Heaven

By Leslie Lupien

VANDRA HOVERED OVER THE YOUNG woman in bra and panties lying on the lumpy cot. He had pursued her over three continents.

She smiled thinly. “You’re American I believe.”

“Yes.” It embarrassed Vandra to see Dr. Fay Pomeroy in such dishabille in a garishly-lighted, bare cell in the Hobart, Tasmania, police station. His determination to defeat this woman had not diminished his respect for her. “I’m getting you out of here and into some suitable clothes,” he said.

“Oh, thanks.” Her tone was sarcastic. “What do you want?”

He ignored the question. “Did the police treat you correctly? I instructed them to.”

“You mean did they rape me? Probably. Police do that. What do you want?”

“Inglestein. Or rather his—”

“His spirit is in another, far better world, united with his dead wife and dead or alive friends, free to pursue his research into improving the quality of the newborn without thrusting them into your world of want, hate and madness.”

Vandra smiled wryly. The kind of speech you would expect from a self-styled “archangel.” She had actually committed a capital crime. The World Commonwealth’s Secretary-General said so. The Prime Minister of the North American Federation said so. His employer, the NAF’s Simulated Reality Suppression Agency, had ordered him to rectify the crime.

“Help me undo what you’ve done,” Vandra said.

Pomeroy raised herself on her elbows and squinted at him. “What shall I call you?”

“Vandra. Cliff if you like.”

“I won’t help you, Cliff. Don’t waste time with electric shocks. My body has been inured to them. But perhaps the SRSA has developed more fiendish ways of persuasion.”

“We don’t do torture, Doctor.”

“You said you would get me out of here. Please do. Then we can talk.”


Vandra met with Police Superintendent Gaigal, told him that he was taking custody of Pomeroy, and thanked him for his assistance. He tactfully did not ask any questions about Pomeroy’s arrest.

Claigal was surly as usual. “Don’t thank me. I’m following orders from Canberra to cooperate with you.”

Vandra hurried to meet two members of his support team in the jail’s grimy visitors area. “It’s Pomeroy,” he said to Josh Tremblay, his team leader. “Did you get the suite in our hotel for her?”

“Yeah,” Tremblay said. “I had to pay through the nose. The hotel has a long waiting list. Tasmania’s supposed to be a refuge from heat and violence.”

“Good,” Vandra said. “We’ll take her there now. She’s half naked.”

“May I help with that?” Carol Chang, Vandra’s communications aide, asked.

“That’s why you’re here, Carol,” Vandra said. “Give her your coat to get her into the van. Find out what clothes she wants. We’ll stop downtown so you can buy them ... Is the van waiting, Josh?”

“Yeah, but I picked up news on the Australian radio you need to know,” Tremblay told him. “Canberra just put out a red alert. Security will be massive, may effect us as foreign nationals.”

Vandra let out a long breath of exasperation. Chaos could not be escaped, not even here at the end of the world. “Let’s get out of this damn place.”


The hotel suite was spacious, complete and clean, if not stylish. One floor-to-ceiling window provided a captivating view of giant Mount Wellington with its summer crest of snow. Vandra hoped the suite would mollify his prisoner.

Pomeroy came out of the bedroom into the parlor dressed in the jeans, slipover and tennis shoes she asked Carol to buy. “I am grateful for the courtesy, Cliff. But I will never do what you want. I will find a way to escape your tender care.”

“Please don’t try. We’re on the tenth floor. My people patrol the hallways and guard the elevator, stairway and fire exit. Also, the local authorities are supporting us.”

Pomeroy shrugged. “I’m aware of all that.”

“Please take the comfortable chair, Doctor,” Vandra said. “I’ll use the sofa.”

“As you wish.” Pomeroy sat very straight against the cushions on the contour chair. “To talk. To guard your ass in a pre-trial hearing. I’m sure you have a very delicate recorder in place, Cliff. So how do we start the routine?”

Vandra wondered if her repeated use of his first name was a form of put-down. Not that it mattered. “I’ll give you the standard warning, Doctor. Anything you say can be used against you. But if you cooperate with us in restoring Inglestein to life, you will be granted a large degree of clemency.”

“I’m not afraid to admit what I did,” Pomeroy said. “I removed an ill, lonely, despondent old man from a hopeless life situation and placed him in nirvana.”

Vandra admired to the point of awe what this notorious Ph.D. had accomplished. She had “liberated” Dr. Emile Inglestein’s consciousness from his elderly body in New York and transferred it into a simulated reality. She had convinced the “liberated” consciousness of the presence of motion, gravity, other people and all it took to create actually a new universe. Finally, she had transported the computer providing the simulated reality to a hiding place somewhere in Hobart while he pursued her.

But Vandra’s awe was mixed with strong disapproval. “You murdered Inglestein,” he told Pomeroy. “You deprived the world of an extremely gifted neurologist. And what is your nirvana? Nothing. Unsubstantial as smoke.”

“Inglestein doesn’t know that, Cliff. His world is as real to him as ours is to us.”

“He is a disembodied consciousness in a computer simulation.”

Pomeroy leaned forward. Passion reddened her cheeks and brightened her eyes. “And how do you know that this world you think is real is not a computer simulation?”

Vandra had interviewed enough archangels to know that was coming. An archangel always induced a client to forget his reference world, to “pass through the veil.” And without memory of a reference world, no one could know whether or not he was in a computer simulation.

I believe my world is real,” Vandra told her. “I act on that belief. And whether my world is real or not, it needs people like Inglestein.”

She folded her arms and faced him in defiant silence.

Vandra had for the record to try to persuade her. “Our world of 2061, real or not, is a sad one,” he said. “I concede that. But decent people, and you are one, Dr. Pomeroy, have a duty to alleviate what suffering you can. You can do that by allowing us to restore Inglestein to life with his skill and knowledge.”

“We deal with suffering on an individual basis,” Pomeroy answered. “Inglestein in his torment came to us. With his long service to humanity he deserved escape. I will not betray him.”

Disheartened, Vandra stared at the floor.

“What will you use, Cliff?” she asked. “Intravenous injection? With oxytocin perhaps? Or has the SRSA developed something more reliable?”

The question Vandra dreaded and would not answer. Duty required him if necessary to authorize injection of a “truth serum.” Dr. Loi Nguyen on his staff would do the injection after Pomeroy was sufficiently drugged.

“You need not drug me, Cliff, nor use force. But don’t rely on your serum.”

Vandra knew what she meant. The archangels had an excellent support staff. It had developed an antidote against known truth serums. What his prisoner did not know was that his new, vastly powerful serum could produce horrendous side effects. He had seen them. The thought of inflicting permanent mind damage, or mind extinction, on Pomeroy haunted him.

The soft tinkle in his ear spared Vandra from continuing the conversation. He switched on the comm and heard Josh Tremblay say, “We’re in big shit, sir. Canberra has declared a nationwide state of emergency and ordered detention of foreign narionals. Gaigal is here to detain us.”

“Have Carol get in touch with Washington.”

“Gaigal won’t let me. He’s impounded our van with all our communication equipment.”

“Where is he?”

“Beside me in front of our van.”

“I’ll be right down.”

Vandra turned to Pomeroy. “Excuse me. I have to talk to Police Superintendent Gaigal.”


Gaigal nodded without a smile as Vandra approached.

“Superintendent, you have no reason to detain us,” Vandra told him. We’re friendly nationals. Let me talk to Canberra.”

“No. Canberra placed me in full charge here. I have orders to detain all foreign nationals. I have a bus waiting to take you and your staff to our detention center. You will be comfortable and well fed.”

“I must stay in the hotel with my prisoner, Dr. Pomeroy.”

“Leave her with me.”

“No! That I will not do.” Vandra moved close to confront Gaigal. “And I need my aides, Josh Tremblay and Loi Nguyen.”

Gaigan scowled, but said “Okay.” Then he added. “Don’t leave the hotel. I’ll have you watched.”

Vanda stopped at the hotel restaurant to order lunch for Pomeroy, Nguyen and himself.


They sat on hard-backed chairs around a coffee-table in the suite’s kitchenette.

Vandra really looked at his prisoner for the first time. She was quite attractive for a PhD approaching forty, about his age.

“Have you and Dr. Nguyen got acquainted?” Vandra asked Pomeroy.

“No need,” Pomeroy told him. “Loi and I are old acquaintances. After all, we both studied what you call simulated reality in the same school. But now I save people and she drags them back into your purgatory. Right, Loi?”

Nguyen shrugged “One way to look at it.”

“Turned on the holo while you were gone,” Pomeroy said. “An Australian city, Ballarat, was hit by a drone strike. Loss of life and damage. That makes twelve this month. Some in every continent. That’s the world you want to drag poor Inglestein back into.”

Vandra poured red wine into a paper cup and handed it to Pomeroy. “Enjoy your lunch. We’ll be here for a while.”

“Oh?” Pomeroy raised an eyebrow. “Something else I need to know, Cliff?”

“Yes. There’s a security shutdown in Australia. We’ll l be in detention here for a while. Please eat.”

“I’m not hungry.” Pomeroy turned to Nguyen. “That’s a big kit bag you have. Suppose it holds the make-you-talk stuff you’ll inject into me.”

Nguyen blanched. “We’ll find another way, Fay.”

“The rest of my staff are in detention elsewhere,” Vandra said. “Loi can share the bedroom with you, Doctor. My aide, Mr. Tremblay, will share the sofa with me.”

“How dedicated you are,” Pomeroy told him. “Can’t understand why, Cliff. The SRSA saddled you with one of its dirtiest jobs. What did you do to deserve it?”

“I chose it,” Vandra told her.


“Personal. None of your business.”

“Please, I really want to know.” Pomeroy no longer sounded flippant. “I see you as intelligent and humane.”

Vandra’s first impulse was not to answer. But Pomeroy’s prodding had stirred an anger he had to release. “My father fled into simulated reality years ago when it was first developed from virtual reality. Before it was banned for private use.”

“He did? Why?”

“Mainly to escape financial problems he couldn’t deal with. He dumped them on my mother, a young woman with three small children and no means.” Vandra didn’t add that he believed his father had arranged for a mistress to share his simulated world.

Pomeroy took a bite of a sandwich, then met Vandra’s eyes. “You hate me, don’t you.”

“No. But I hate what you do.”

“I relieve suffering, but only for people who ask me. They pay if they can, but we’re not after the money.”

“I believe you,” Vandra said. “But society approves other ways of relieving suffering, including euthanasia. You offer a faux heaven.”

“Escape from a hopelessly dysfunctional world, Cliff.”

“Tunnel vision, Doctor. You can see our world only through a glass darkly.”

Pomeroy dropped the remnants of her sandwich. “I’m still not hungry. I want to lie down. Please excuse me.”

“Of course.”

After Pomeroy left, Nguyen spoke in a whisper. “Not my serum, Cliff. It could destroy her mind.”

“Excuse me, Loi,” Vandra said. “I have to get some lunch for Josh.” His need to deal with a more immediate problem gave him a chance to avoid thinking about the terrible decision he must make about Nguyen’s serum. The archangels could be depended upon to try to rescue Pomeroy. And now only Josh Tremblay and he stood in their way.


Vandra arranged security with Tremblay over the latter’s lunch in the hotel restaurant. He and Josh would divide eight hour shifts guarding the elevator. They would scrutinize and pat down everyone for weapons. Nguyen would pick up food from the hotel kitchen. Pomeroy would be allowed to move freely around the suite during the day and continue to share the bed with Nguyen at night. But she would not be allowed any outside contact.

Then Vandra sought out Nguyen and returned with her to the privacy of the hotel restaurant. “I am in full sympathy with you about the serum,”’ told her. “We have to put pressure on Dr. Pomeroy to change her mind. I want you to impress upon her the frightful side effects she can expect if you have to inject her with your serum. Will you do that?”

”Yes,” Nguyen said. She looked very unhappy. “And what will you do?”

“Explain in detail the extent of the leniency I can guarantee she will receive if she cooperates.”

“When will we do this.”

“Now,” Vandra told her.


Vandra asked Pomeroy to sit on end of the sofa for a “serious talk.” She obeyed with a shrug. Then he stationed Nguyen and himself halfway down the sofa to add proximity to the “pressure.” Nguyen began, speaking with sincere passion. She described in detail the irreversible side effects Pomeroy might suffer from the serum. “Don’t make me do this Fay,” she concluded with a sob. Poneroy paled, but remained impassive and did not interrupt.

Vandra expressed his sincere admiration for Pomeroy’s ability and dedication and his desire to spare her any unnecessary punishment. “I am authorized to promise you prosecution for only minor offenses if you cooperate, Doctor. No more than a suspended sentence.”

Pomeroy listened to him in silence, then said, “I am struck by your lack of imagination, Cliff. A version of the hackneyed good cop/bad cop routine. Surely you can do better.”

Vandra stood. “I’ll give you a few days to weigh what you heard, Doctor.”


Vandra avoided all but casual contact with his prisoner for the next two days. He watched with approval how Nguyen continued her easy relationship with Pomeroy. No one mentioned the serum.

The morning of the third day the hotel phone tinkled. Vandra, on guard duty, picked it up switched it on. He confronted the flawless, oval face of a very young girl. An Emo haircut dropped short strands of blond hair over her cheekbones. The sight startled him into silence.

“Good morning,” the girl said. “I’m bringing up your breakfast.”

“That’s not necessary, miss,” Vandra told her. “A woman member of my staff will pick it up.”

The girl flashed a bright smile. “Mr. Van Deerick ordered me to bring it up.”

Vandra recognized the name of the hotel kitchen’s chief chef. “Did Mr. Van Deerick say why?”

“No, but ...” She lowered her voice, still smiling. “I think I can guess. The hotel charges for delivering food. And there’s a gratuity in it for me. Do you mind?”

Vandra stared at the girl’s clothing. He could see enough to make out the hotel’s green uniform with gold shoulder patches. “I don’t remember seeing you. What’s your name?”

“Polly. I’m new. Since yesterday.”

What Polly had said sounded plausible, but he did not trust her. “All right, bring up the breakfast. I’ll meet you at the elevator.” Vandra switched her off and called the hotel kitchen. “This is Vandra on floor ten. May I speak to Mr. Van Deerick?”

A gruff voice said,“He’s not in today. What do you want?”

“Who sent up the waitress—Polly—with our breakfast.”

“Huh? Nobody sent your breakfast up? Who’s Polly?”

Thank you.” Vandra put down the phone and pulled his automatic from its shoulder holster. Seconds later, Polly stepped out of the elevator alone, balancing a tray loaded with breakfast food. The tray seemed too heavy for her. She was so petite, with such slim arms. A most disarming sight.

“Heavens!” Polly’s eyes widened at sight of the automatic levelled at her. “Why the gun? Who do you think I am?”

“I mean to find out who you are,” Vandra said. “Please put the tray on the floor.”

Polly knelt, put the loaded tray on the floor, and sprang back up with a speed that astonished Vandra. She raised her arms above her head. “You’re so suspicious. Want to search me?”

Vandra hesitated. The thought of pawing Polly appalled him. But to call Nguyen to do the job would be awkward.

Polly dropped her hands and yanked up her tunic and undershirt well above her navel. “See. Nothing there.”

Vandra did look reflexively, but within his field of vision he caught the swift upward motion of Polly’s arm above her shoulder. Without hesitation he pulled the trigger of his automatic set on stun. Polly’s knees collapsed and she sank back toward the elevator door. Vandra grabbed her around the waist and lowered her gently to the floor. Then he turned the girl over and put a hand under the top of her tunic. Sure enough he came up with an automatic snuggled against her back.

Vandra examined the weapon and put it in his pocket. Then he shook his head and muttered, “Too bad.” He remained standing next to the breakfast tray, unsure of his next move.

Nguyen came out of her suite on the way to pick up breakfast. She stopped near the door. “What’s going on here? Who’s the girl?”

“She saved you a trip downstairs,” Vandra said. “But ... I think she’s an archangel. That’s why I stunned her.”

Nguyen did not move. “Oh, my God! What shall we do?”

“Help me carry her into the bedroom,” Vandra said. “If she’s one of Pomeroy’s, let Pomeroy take care of her.”

They carried Polly’s limp body into the bedroom and laid it on the bed. Pomeroy was fully dressed and looking out the window. She turned at the sound of their approach and said, “Who’s she?”

“One of yours I believe,” Vandra told her. “Come take a look.”

Pomeroy advanced to the bedside and peered at Polly’s bloodless face and closed eyes. “She’s a child. Did you stun her?”

“Yes. She may look like a child. But I believe she tried to kill me with an automatic set on lethal. Do you know her?”

“I can’t see her breathing.”

“She’ll come to in about half an hour with nothing worse than a headache. I’ll leave her in your care—for now.”

Vandra led Nguyen out of the bedroom and closed the door. Josh Tremblay, who had come off his guard shift less than an hour before, slept soundly on the sofa. Vandra shook him by the shoulder until he turned on his back and rubbed his eyes. “Sorry, Josh. You’ll have to lose some sleep. We have another archangel with us. She tried to kill me.”

Trenblay jumped to his feet. “Where?”

“In the bedroom, still stunned. Keep her in there. Stun her again if she makes any trouble.”

“Did I see our breakfasts by the elevator?” Nguyen asked.

“Yes,” Vandra told her. “Please serve them.”

Vandra hurried back to the elevator. He dared not leave it unguarded. Polly might have confederates in the hotel And even disarmed she could be dangerous. Pomeroy and he were in a tight spot.

When Nguyen came out to pick up the breakfast tray, Vandra handed her Polly’s automatic. “Do you know how to handle this?” he asked.

Nguyen frowned at the gun. “If I have to.”

“Good. Put it in your pocket You may have to use it. I set it on stun.”

“Use it on whom?”

“Polly. She’s an archangel sent to steal Pomeroy from us. When you serve our guests a meal keep at a distance and have Josh or me cover you. Same thing when you go to the bathroom. Whatever you do, don’t let Polly get her automatic back.”

“Are we really in danger?”

“Yes. Polly may have confederates. We’ll have to stay alert all the time. Take turns sleeping on the sofa tonight.”


Vandra, on guard duty the next morning, saw the elevator door open. He rushed forward, weapon in hand, and confronted two occupants—Gaigal and a tall, imposing man wearing a formal jacket and trousers with a precisely knotted blue necktie.

“Good morning, Mr. Vandra,” the tall man said. “I’m Ned Jeffers from Foreign Affairs.”

“Oh?” Vandra did not lower his weapon. “Foreign Affairs? I don’t believe you.”

Jeffers removed a wallet from his jacket pocket and held it out. “Check my ID.”

Vandra, still watching Jeffers, examined the ID card. It bore the electronically implanted Foreign Affairs seal that could not be forged. “Who sent you?”

“The Minister,” Jeffers said. “He sends his apology. You should never have been detained.” He glanced at Gaigal. “Not our doing.”

“Has your Minister been in contact with Washington?”

Jeffers flushed. “Yes, indeed. He explained the misunderstanding to your State Department. Now, whatever we can do to help ...”

Vandra smiled. Washington must have come down hard on Canberra when it lost contact with its SRSA team.

“Your staff will be here soon,” Jeffers said. “Right, Superintendent?”

“They’re on the way,” Gaigal said. “Anything more I can do, Mr. Vandra?”

Vandra hesitated, then said, “Let me call my home office.”


Vandra assembled several members of his staff, including Tremblay and Nguyen, in the suite’s parlor. “Canberra turned us loose,” he said. “Now we’re going after Inglestein.”

“Do you know where he—I mean his mind—is,” asked one of Nguyen’s female aides.

“No.” Vandra glanced at the kit bag Nguyen held. “Loi, are you ready to inject the serum?”

Nguyen’s face betrayed her distress. “No, Cliff! I won’t do that to Fay.”

“Not Fay,” Vandra said. “Polly.”

“Her?” Nguyen’s voice shook. “No. She’s unprotected. It would be murder.”

“Stop it, Loi.” Vandra made his tone harsh. “She would have killed all of us.”

Nguyen closed her eyes. “Please don’t make me.”


Vandra burst into the bedroom without knocking, his staff trailing behind him. He moved at once to stand over Polly, who sat up in bed reading a magazine. “You meant to kill me, didn’t you?”

Polly squirmed on the bed. “Let me up. I have to pee.”

“Polly, if that’s your real name, I need to know where the computer holding Inglestein’s mind is. Tell me and I’ll let you go pee.”

“My name is Polly. And fuck you.”

“Dr. Nguyen, show Polly your syringe and tell her what it will do,” Vandra ordered.

Nguyen held up the syringe. “Polly, this will make you tell us. After, you’ll still be a pretty girl. But your mind ... you won’t have one. Don’t make me do it.”

Polly paled, but said nothing.

“Josh, hold her,” Vandra said. “Dr. Nguyen, do the injection.”

Pomeroy tugged violently on Vandra’s arm. “You can’t! She’s only a child. And she doesn’t know.”

“I believe she does know,” Vandra said. “Dr. Nguyen, found a vein yet?”

“Wait, for godsake!” Pomeroy shouted. “I can’t let you do it!”

Vandra turned and read the agony in Pomeroy’s face. “Where is the computer?”

“You bastard!” Pomeroy dug her nails into Vandra’s arm.

“Inglestein for Polly. Hurry.”

“North Hobart,” Pomeroy said.

“North Hobart’s a big place,” Vandra told her.

“Elizabeth Street Supermart.”


“Flower shop. Ramsey’s. Only an old woman on guard.”

“How clever, Vandra said, “Thank you.”

Pomeroy let go of his arm, but her voice throbbed with rage. “You manipulating bastard.”

“I’ll ask for clemency,” Vandra said. “Polly, you can go pee.”


From Canbera, Vandra could see in precise detail and full color the face of his departmental superior in Montreal. The Australian Foreign Ministry’s technicians had at last perfected the long range vision connection.

“Good morning, Vandra—I believe it’s morning there,” Director Vasquez said. “I’m ready for your briefing.”

“First of all, sir, I’m pleased to tell you than an hour ago I placed Dr. Inglestein on a space shuttle for New York.”

“Fine. And how was the doctor?”

“He seems to have accepted his new incarnation with equanimity thanks to Dr. Nguyen’s skilful use of antidotes and therapy.”

“That’s a relief,” Vasquez said without smiling. “And how did the mind transfer go?”

“Fantastic. But it took several harrowing hours. Dr. Inglestein’s mind was fragile and resistant. Dr. Nguyen and her aides worked like Trojans in an unfamiliar Australian lab. But she got Dr. Inglestein into a sturdy young synthetic body.”

“Great.” But Vasquez still did not smile. “Anything else to tell me, Vandra?”


“About Pomeroy. Canberra has agreed to extradite her. We have an indictment waiting.”

“Sir, I followed your instructions,” Vandra told him. “I accompanied Pomeroy to Superintendent Gaigal’s office so he could transfer her to the Australian Federal Police.”

“Strange.” Vasquez frowned. “Canberra tells me that Gaigal says he never saw Pomeroy and doesn’t know where she is.”

“That so?” Vandra raised an eyebrow to feign surprise.

“I know you’re utterly reliable,” Vasquez said “I’ll get back to Canberra and tell them that. Goodbye for now.”

Vandra had not lied to Vasquez. But he had neglected to tell him what he had said to Gaigal, “Superintendent, unless you allow Dr. Pomeroy to leave Hobart immediately, I will inform Canberra and my superiors that she suffered abuse, maybe rape, while in your previous custody. There will be an investigation.”

Pomeroy had left Gaigal’s office in a vehicle driven by Polly. She must be far from Hobart now, perhaps out of Australia. Vandra realized ruefully that he might have to pursue her again. END

Leslie Lupien is an American immigrant to Canada. He has had stories published in the Canadian SF magazines “On Spec” and “Neo-Opsis.” Leslie has received two certificates as semi-finalist in Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest.

Yellow Glad Days




mystic doors