Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Just Like [Illegible] Used to Make
by J.R. Johnson

by Molly N. Moss

Archimedes’ Gambol
by Eric M. Jones

Cynthia 2246
by Mark Ayling

Where the Rivers Meet
by Vincent Knight

A Woman’s Place
by Guy Stewart

Mindship Decommissioned
by Karl El-Koura

Anna Who Reached for the Stars
by Janis Zelcans

Mad Dogs Raid Mars
by Michael Andre-Driussi

Blissful Twilight
by Jessica Payseur


A Case for Nukes
by John McCormick

Nuns in Space
by Carol Kean




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips




Cynthia 2246

By Mark Ayling

A SINGLE SHOT BLOWS OUT THE REAR left tyre and I hit a rock and the car bounces onto two wheels and arcs round to the left before tumbling over and spinning and then I’m gone momentarily and the noise and pain is sucked away and then I’m dragged out of an open window upside down by strong hands (Cynthia?). I’m pulled onto the dirt. I figure it’s over and wait for the siren howl and the shot that will eviscerate Cynthia’s head, the shot that will end me. When it doesn’t come I try to tell her to get under cover, to save herself but the pain takes my breath away and I black out and when I wake there are hands on me patting and searching. I try to say her name, but I vomit instead.

“My name is Ezekiel Brookes. My friends call me Zeke for short. It doesn’t matter. Either name is fine.”

I stop speaking here. I take a swig from a glass of water to help settle my nerves.

“Anyway,” I say, looking uneasy at first, not engaging with the camera, looking down at my feet. “Why am I filming this? Better yet, why should you listen to anything I say? Well I’m making this record to explain my actions. I want to tell our story. The truth should be documented ...”

I wind the recording back. I pause it at the beginning. Then I just sit and stare at myself. Is that really what I look like? Am I really that tired looking? I’m only twenty-one. I’m in the prime of my life. I’m dressed in a wartime coat with a big collar, buttoned down the front with a rip in one of the pockets. I’m wearing jeans. I’m wearing a pair of recycled training shoes. I look faded onscreen. My blonde hair is scrappy and too long. I haven’t had a shave in days. I have pouches under my grey eyes. I think I may have lost weight. Thankfully, the cumulative stress of the last few months, the sneaking around, the endless worrying about discovery, is finally coming to an end. If everything goes as planned, we’ll be across the border in a couple of days time celebrating our freedom and planning for the future ...



I was listening for her breathing, checking her pulse, watching her chest move up and down, like a real human, with a heart and lungs and blood type and organs, constructed by a multitude of corporations who made her eyes and lips and her hair and bone marrow, and I fell in love with her, her biologically engineered nose and ears, her borrowed memories and organically grown heart.

What Would God Have to Say?

In the unprecedented case of Flora versus the state, a Cleaner Clone murdered her employer in Cornwall after being sexually abused and enslaved by him for six years. She was granted an unprecedented court hearing due to pressure from PC. PC supported Flora by providing counsel and paying all her legal fees. As it transpired, the company that had grown her had accidentally downloaded memories of child abuse into her head, which had not been filtered out during the purifying process prior to insertion. As a result, she decided the best course of action, after she had suffered numerous incidences of rape and torture, would be to place a pillow over her employer’s face whilst he was sleeping to smother him to death. A court of law decided that a synthetic human, being the same in theory as a blow up doll, could not be sexually abused. Following this, the synthetic in question was judged to have committed first-degree murder. She was promptly incinerated publicly as a warning to all other would be Individuals.

When I first saw her I was reminded of a girl I knew who dyed her hair red and had her skin bleached and her eyes lazered, who I’d slept with at college when I was doing my A Levels. I was shocked by how real she appeared; how human she was and how totally perfect. The feeling quickly passed, though, since her breathing stopped and the crash team was organised. We watched as they did the chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth and got the defibrillator out and zapped her back to life.

Someone must have recognised us, someone in Carlisle maybe, somebody in the shop we went in for provisions, our pictures from newscasts, less than an hour to circulate, our mug shots all over the place, flashed up on tablets and phones, on computers and billboards and then the sirens lit up and we were fleeing into the country and there were shots being fired and the car began to turn.

The Professors and lecturers who teach nursing prefer that students don’t work with Clones until their third module. That way, they don’t run the risk of students becoming attached. It’s in all the handbooks. They tell you what to expect, how to maintain professional boundaries, etcetera. They illustrate this by reciting vague parables about nameless nurses becoming involved with clones and being struck off the nursing register for gross misconduct.

“So how was it?” she asks. I tell her it was informative. She smiles at me then, thanks me for saving her life, tells me my eyes are pretty, strokes my cheek with her fingers. It feels as if I’ve been electrocuted. Clones aren’t supposed to display spontaneity. They’re supposed to engage—they’re supposed to interact—but only within the parameters of their established environment. A Test Clone is for testing. I’m not supposed to empathise with it. It’s not a casual acquaintance. It’s not supposed to do trivial conversation. I check to see if anyone saw us. Thankfully, all the other students have exited the recovery room.

On my first attempt, my nerves are like live wires. I am so nervous, I almost have a panic attack, but then her breathing stops and the team starts to panic and I slow everything down in my head and am able to take charge and direct people because I know that if I don’t Cynthia will die.

Cynthia Model 2246, if found wandering, please return to Nursing Department, The Nightingale Building, The University Of Mancunia, Manchester, Greater Manchester, England.

Emily my girlfriend morphs into Cynthia when I kiss her. We have sex on the sofa in her room when I visit her in her halls of residence. We stream some warfare on the Internet, a Clone platoon eviscerated by a stray RPG, some pornography and a boxing match to finish off. We smoke a joint and eat cold French fries. I think about Cynthia; Cynthia superimposed over Emily, Emily as Clone, with her modified smile and boob job and her designer third world hair and surgically enhanced life. Would it be the same with a clone, would she enjoy the experience, would she understand the experience, to be intimate with a human?

I am now a wanted man. If they catch me I shall be charged with kidnapping, assault, theft, and breaking and entering, and all because of a Clone. The idea that I could fall in love (lust?) with a test clone whose primary purpose is to be killed and resuscitated over and over, with a stamp ID situated on her left shoulder in tiny black lettering—test clone for CPR, physical observations and injection technique—seems ridiculous. She’s not a real person. She wasn’t born like I was. She was invented in a lab, like a fake plastic mannequin.

I’m frightened by the Clone’s behaviour and I skip a couple of classes. I consider reporting her for her gross indiscretion. However, she would be discontinued if I informed on her to the faculty. So I return to class and after my lesson ends, once the recovery room empties and everyone’s gone home for the day, I ask her why she is engaging with me. Why is it she’s trying to establish a rapport when personal interaction is not allowed? Does she know it is not allowed? Does she know it’s inappropriate?

“I know I’m not supposed to but it felt as if I knew you.”

“Impossible!” I tell her. “You only just met me.”

She shrugs her bemusement and smiles apologetically. I watch her for a moment, seated on the recovery bed observing me, the ghost of a smile playing at the corners of her mouth, unsure of my next move. I reach forward. I touch her chin, marvelling at the patented skin tone, the way her cheeks are moulded and the luminescence of her eyes.

“What’s your name?” she asks.

“Ezekial.” I tell her.

“Thank you Ezekiel for failing to report me ...”

On a number of occasions following this, when there is nobody present to observe and report us, we engage in conversation, briefly, covertly, so as to avoid raising suspicion. I realise I like her during this time. Our interactions become more frequent. She asks me questions. I answer them as best I can. I speak to her when nobody is looking, during injection practice, whilst taking her blood pressure and pulse, post resus in the recovery room, whenever it’s possible.

I remember seeing a clone die on TV and mum telling me how death has no meaning for Clones because they’re not like us. They may look like us, dress like us, talk like us, and behave like us, but that doesn’t make them any less artificial. This means that God does not see them. This means that whereas we will go to heaven when we die, the Clones will turn to dust.


A student nurse, reported to have kidnapped a Test Clone from The University of Mancunia this weekend, has fled North in a stolen Nissan Sunny following a deterioration in his mental state, university sources claim. The student, who cannot be named at the present time for legal and confidentiality reasons, is reported to have remained in the university overnight, and smuggled the Test Clone out via a fire exit before the alarm was raised. A security guard at the site, who was assaulted prior to the kidnapping, claimed that the perpetrator was not armed. At the present time it is not known what the motive was for the kidnapping. A police search has been organised and people in the area have been requested to come forward with any information they might have pertaining to the incident.


The first time we meet, I use my student ID to access the clone pods. I hide in a store cupboard until the department is deserted. I didn’t tell her I planned to visit her, but I wanted to spend time with her where nobody could witness us.

I gently shake her awake. She’s initially surprised to see me. I gesture her to be quiet to avoid waking the other clones. She dresses. We exit the pod and move through the nursing department. After a brief trek through a number of hallways, taking care to avoid cameras and any security staff that might be lurking en route, we arrive at our destination—an old cleaning cupboard now used as storage for disused furniture. We sit on a discarded table near the back of the room. It’s relatively gloomy, the light from my mobile torch providing minimal illumination.

It’s at this point that I hand her a small box, gift wrapped with a bow on top. I tell her to open it. She holds it and stares at it for a moment. Then she opens it up, stripping the paper away carefully in ribbons, eyeing the strips quizzically before discarding them in her lap.

“What is it?” she asks.

“It’s a gift,” I explain. “Only you can’t really keep it in case someone sees.” I prompt her to remove the packaging.

She removes the lid from the box, looking fearful and apprehensive.

“What do you do with it?” she asks.

“It goes round your neck.” I tell her. “Like this.” I lean forward. I take the silver chain I bought her and fasten it round her neck. Then I kiss her on her cheek, impulsively, reckless. I pull away. The sugary taste of her lingers on my lips. The chain I bought her is temporarily forgotten. I’m not sure what happens next. Do I kiss her or does she kiss me? We’re pressed together suddenly. There’s a confused moment when she responds awkwardly. Then she wrenches away like she’s been stung or burned. Does she understand, I wonder? Is she frightened? Is she angry with me? Was I acting improperly? She fixes me with her pale blue eyes. I wait for her to pass judgement. Then she moulds herself against me and laughs against my shoulder.

I wondered who Cynthia was, whose memories she had, whether the real Cynthia was alive, or whether she’d passed away. I wondered what Cynthia would feel like knowing she could never engage in her memories, could never seek out the places and family members that populated her subconscious for fear of being captured and incinerated by the people who had conceived of her in the first place.

Emily texts me to dump me and I don’t care ’cause I haven’t seen her for days anyway. To be honest, the relationship was floundering. She was less of a human than Cynthia. I find it bizarre how Cynthia craves to be human, whilst Emily, with her designer implants and uplifts, her synthetic hair and bogus nose, craves artificiality. I send her a confirmation text to acknowledge I received her message, and then I delete her from my phone and block her from contacting me.

I hit the guard over the head with a bottle, only he didn’t go down like I expected him to so I hit him twice more and that did the trick. I used my student key fob to enter the pods where the Clones sleep as usual, about twenty of them all together, and I woke Cynthia and told her we were leaving. She dressed quickly and we left, without waking the other Clones. We ducked out of the fire exit as planned, which was when the alarm was set off and we got in the car and accelerated into traffic.

I downloaded The Guardian onto my tablet and read an article about us and dumped the Nissan near Windermere in Cumbria and stole a Mini Cooper with a view to reaching Carlisle. I wanted to enter Scotland. Clones had more rights in Scotland. We could live together in Scotland. The law was different there. The ruling party was Pro Clone. They were a tolerant government and known for their humane treatment of escaped non-humans.

I write my mum a message on her phone, apologising for my impulsiveness. Then I delete it. I can imagine how she’ll react, smashing her phone, praying for my eternal soul, wringing her hands, and begging for forgiveness. Rather than subject myself to that, I consider the alternatives. I decide on the coward’s option. I quickly decide that rather than confess, and have her condemn me as a heretic, I’ll ignore her completely and let her learn about it online ...

After weeks of taking bigger risks, staying behind after classes at night, hiding in toilets and store cupboards, sneaking her notes during practice sessions and making excuses to be around her more, I realise I’ve fallen in love with her. I also realise there’s no future for either of us. If the relationship is to continue we have to escape somehow.

As a result, I’m drawing my plans up to rescue her from her captors. My strategy is simple, nothing too complicated, to hang around the simulation complex, to hide in a cleaning cupboard like I usually do, then to break out of the fire exit where the Nissan will be parked ready for our escape.

What Would God Have to Say?

Genetics had to be good for something. First it was plants and then it was farmyard animals that were grown in laboratories to help with rationing, then it was human organs to help ease the burden on the NHS and on the battlefield where healthy organs were useful to have handy. Then when it was deemed commercially sound to grow humans rather than their body parts, cloning was legalised. Their first job was as replacement soldiers. They were shipped out to fight in place of their human counterparts. The companies who funded them advertised free streaming videos of live battles on the Internet. Pretty soon the corporations began advertising. When there were no humans taking part in the fighting the BBFC deemed it acceptable to allow folk to view the carnage at their leisure; to give them an idea of what it was like to be a hero and to fight on the front lines. Some are trained as forlorn hopes for battle in the Middle East where they’re sent out in waves after the bombs are dropped to root out Arab militias and fundamentalists and insurgents. It saves on real deaths and plays well with the more right wing papers and online viewers.

We’re seated in the store cupboard together one night when I make my pitch. Adopting a serious expression, I ask Cynthia to go on the run with me.

“Would you leave with me?” I ask her.

“Where would we go?”

“North across the border, once I’ve figured out a plan.”

Cynthia smiles at me, but there’s doubt in her smile so I take her hand and attempt to reassure her.

“I know it’s risky. There’s a chance they might catch us, but clones are accepted there. Human and non-humans, they don’t think it’s wrong. If we stay here, you will remain the property of the university. We run the risk of eventual discovery. They would never listen to reason. They would punish us both. I want to be with you. The only way for that to happen is if we flee the country as soon as possible.”

We were later informed during the post simulation debrief, Test Clones have a day or two of recovery time. They go for escorted walks round the university grounds. They go to the canteen for lunch or spend time in the gym to improve their cardio functioning. Then it’s back to work again. They have a three-year life cycle, due to the stresses they have to endure, that is unless they die during the simulation, in which case, they are taken to the morgue like all corpses, tagged as Clones, and tossed into the incinerators like so much rubbish.

I check out my tablet and read how the penalty for kidnapping a Clone, particularly a Test Clone such as Cynthia, is usually a flogging in public which is recorded and streamed online at government subsidised Crime and Punishment (C&P) sites.

The hands that dragged me from the Mini were Cynthia’s. She lifted me and draped me over her shoulder and carried me the rest of the way. I thought we were done for, drifting in and out of consciousness, the fence seemed a million miles away from here, but then we were through and there were smiling faces and pats on the back and people dressed in khaki with badges sewn onto their breast pockets, What Would God Have to Say, congratulating and hugging us. Cynthia smiled down at me, her dirty pretty face blocking the morning sun, and I took her hand and squeezed it as hard as I could.

Young Couple Rescued at The Border.

A group of civilians were fired upon in the early hours of the morning as they attempted to assist a young couple fleeing from the South. The details of the couple’s escape are not known, though eye witnesses claim they were spotted being chased in a Mini Cooper by the English police near the Scottish Village of Nipton early this morning. Shots were fired on the Mini and one of the tyres burst seconds before the driver lost control and the car was overturned. Sources within the PC claim a group of Pro Clone infantrymen patrolling the perimeter assisted the couple to safety before escorting them from the border to an undisclosed location for processing. (Turn to page four for further details ... ) END

Mark Ayling is a registered mental health nurse living in the North of England. He has a degree in English Literature and French. He likes writing science fiction and horror, and reading children’s books to his son. This is his first published short story.

double dragon