Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Watchman, What of the Night?
by Eric Del Carlo

Enemy From Nowhere
by Jeffery Scott Sims

Dance by the Light of the Moon
by Milo James Fowler

Continue Program?
by Seth Chambers

Perfect Blue, Scorched Black
by Rachael Acks

Catastrophic Failure
by David Steffen

Twice Upon a Midnight Dreary
by Richard Zwicker

Screwed by Frankie Frog
by Tim McDaniel

Infinite (∞) LDK
by Ryu Ando

by Sara Backer


Time in a Bottle
by Eric M. Jones

A Real Death Star
by John McCormick




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips




Shorter Stories

All the Little Pieces

By Berti Walker

MILITARY ISSUED BOOTS POUND out erratic heartbeats that echo through the halls. The swinging doors burst open and men surge forth like an expelled breath. In the center of the room the cyborgs huddle: a woman, two men, and one creepy forever-child.

They were past their expiration dates, the lot of them. The woman cyborg had been implanted in their midst, and her findings were startling. The small one, called Procopio, has been evading and operating this illegal lab for fifty years now.

The order is to bring them all in, “alive,” a term loosely used as far as Sergeant Cohen is concerned.

Procopio addresses him. “Please, sir, I don’t want to die again.”

He catches a glimpse of the forms on the table: another creepy doll child, and next to it, a gutted human boy. Sergeant Cohen blanches. His men fall in behind him and await his orders.

Sergeant Cohen raises a steady hand, aims it at the one called Procopio, and pulls the trigger. The sound is mimicked all around him, as the forms in the center of the room crumple in chorus to the floor.

The fluorescent lights hum and murmur, the only witnesses in the silence that is left as the men turn to leave.


It had been easy for Procopio to slip in and out of the orphanage. No one noticed an extra boy, even if that boy was not entirely human. Adults in the orphanage rarely looked close enough at their wards to notice such things as humanity, which was exactly why it was prime hunting ground. No one noticed an extra boy, and no one noticed a missing one either.

One boy entered, and two left, directly through the front door. The orphan boy in tow had the telltale green smatterings of an exploited lolly which fought with the grime on his docile face and created the appearance of a moldy mouth. He was lead to the silver Ferrari idling curbside. The passenger door opened from the inside. A woman who was also less than human smiled mechanically at the boys who climbed in beside her. Procopio bid her to drive on and she obeyed his command without question.

It was a ten minute drive to the lab that he had inherited from his father, Dr. Collodi, and twenty until his dirty-faced guest would be yielding the soft squishy pieces the youthful looking kidnapper required.

Absently, he handed the child next to him another lolly. “Don’t worry,” he said. The child did not look worried. Procopio spoke more to himself. “Just think of this as getting an upgrade. I’ve had loads of them. Think of it. You can be like me. You don’t have to die. Pieces of you always remain in us. When all else is gone, the memories remain. You won’t feel a thing. Dr. Collodi taught me well.”


Dr. Collodi gathered the salvageable parts of his son and prepared for transplantation. The body on the metal table was created to look like him, and it was a good facsimile. As he held the pieces of his son that no father should hold, the things that belonged on the inside, he fought against the ghost of his son and clung desperately to preserving a semblance of that lost life. His brow broke out in sweat despite the chilled temperature of the lab.

He finished putting together the pieces of his broken child and admired his hard work. Dr. Collodi caressed the dormant face and then lifted the limp body. He carried it out to his silver Ferrari and drove home, cradling the figure in his lap. His heels echoed on the cobblestone walkway leading towards his home. He clumsily gained entry while juggling the body and his keys. Without turning on any lights, he navigated the stairs and down the hall to the room adjacent to his own: his son’s room.

Dr. Collodi laid the boy down with the gentleness of parenthood, placed a kiss on his forehead, and tucked the covers around him. “Sweet dreams, Procopio; know that I will see you there.”

As the rays of the first sun his new eyes ever saw stroked his eyelids, Procopio awoke. Dust mites swam in the light escaping through a crack in the curtains above the bed. He stretched out a hand and stirred them between his fingertips, causing a frenzied swirling dance. He lost himself in their intricacies, mesmerized by their weightlessness. They were like snowflakes with no adherence to the laws of gravity.

A voice downstairs retrieved him from his musing. “Wake up, sleepy boy! Wake up! Come to me, now. Be quick about it!”

The voice had the familiarity of a favorite dream. Procopio swung both feet over the edge of the bed and went to investigate. His footsteps thudded down the hall. Dr. Collodi did not realize how important that sound was until that instant. In moments, the boy was standing before him, gazing up expectantly.

“Well,” Dr. Collodi said. “What do you think?”

Procopio observed the decorations Dr. Collodi gestured to. The banner on the wall. The balloons. The streamers. The pile of pancakes with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. The site of the pancakes brought back a memory of fondness.

“It is somebody’s birthday,” Procopio responded.

“It is your birthday, my boy! Come, come. Give us a squeeze!”

Dr. Collodi picked up the boy who looked like his son but was not. The weight was off, but he did not mind. He squeezed the child, their cheeks mashing together. The boy was soft, the synthetic skin pliable and warm. Dr. Collodi marveled in the feel of the boy’s arms around him, obligingly squeezing him in return.


The lights of the lab flickered and buzzed as if their protests mattered. Their beams ricocheted off the inorganic surfaces and clung to the organic ones. The light glistened like tears on the wet innards of the child who would not be missed.

Procopio barked orders to the intern team comprising of two men and one woman. This was a routine maintenance, replacing the expiring biological parts of another eternal boy. Procopio’s time was almost up. He would be on that table himself again soon, and he needed them to be ready. There is no room for mistakes with such delicate things as human organs.


Dr. Collodi sat Procopio down and got ready for a stern talk, but it was worry in his voice, not anger. “Procopio, what happened? Don’t you know you cannot behave in that way? The principal called. Cheating? Fighting? Arguing? It was very difficult for me to convince them to allow a boy such as you to go to school in the first place. It will be nearly impossible now! Don’t you want to go to school, like the other children?”

He searched Procopio’s face for any sign of remorse. He knelt down on one knee, putting himself at eye level with the boy. “My son would never have done these things.”

“But he wanted to. I remember. I remember everything. I hurt the boy that called him names. The boy that said I’m not a real boy. We didn’t like him. I cheated because he wanted to be smart like you, and I didn’t know all the answers. I talked back because I did not agree with what the principal said.”

Dr. Collodi’s eyes filled with tears. He embraced Procopio, uncertain what to say.

“I remember his death. Am I going to die, too, Papa?”

“No, boy. Not if I can help it.” END

Berti Walker has a degree in fine art, and also pursues the written word. She was recently published in the July 2013 ssue of “Infernal Ink Magazine.




By Peter Wood

IT TOOK ALL OF CONNIE’S WEIGHT to force the barn door shut. Earl still hadn’t cleared out his crap. The only evidence her husband had been here at all was a crushed beer can in the knee-high crabgrass.

She was so angry that she almost missed the six-foot lizard pointing a ray gun at her. She’d be late for her shift at the Waffle House.

“What?” she snapped.

The alien bowed. “I am Zurch.” He pointed to the barn. “What is in here?”


“I am always in search of ship supplies.” He clawed open the battered plywood door. One of Earl’s animatronic deer, from his bankrupt hunting lodge restaurant, plopped outside.

Zurch kicked the deer. “What is this?”

Connie shrugged. “A mechanical deer. It sings Kung Fu Fighting. Two badgers and a moose do backup.”

Zurch stared at her.

“Are y’all invading?” She knew she should be terrified, but she just felt relief she wouldn’t be working another double shift.

“We are a science mission.” He gestured with his ray gun to the field Earl still hadn’t gotten around to plowing. “My shuttle craft’s over there.”


Zurch guided Connie down a long dim hallway on the alien ship. Most of the light bulbs were burnt out. She heard a familiar rat-a-tat. Through a doorway she glimpsed aliens pecking away at manual typewriters.

They entered a larger room. Aliens lounged about a table with a pile of sparkling discs in the center. A lizard with a gold sash tossed a pulsating cube. Hovering in midair, the cube ran the spectrum of colors before stopping at crimson.

The lizard in gold laughed and raked the discs towards him.

“Your luck will not last, Commander,” a lizard hissed.

The Commander tossed the gambling cube from claw to claw. “Another game?”

Zurch coughed. “Sir.”

The Commander rose and announced to the gamblers. “I will return in a moment.”

In the hallway the Commander waved a faded sheet of paper at Zurch. The writing was barely legible. “Can you read this, Ensign?”

Zurch sighed. “No, Commander. We need new carbon paper.”

Connie perked up her ears. Earl had stockpiled dozens of water-stained boxes of carbon paper in the barn from his ill-conceived office supply and gun shop. Connie couldn’t imagine anyone wanting the stuff.

The Commander snorted. “There’s more ink on your talons, Ensign, than on all the ship’s carbon paper. Do not think just because you are my brother-in-law that you will receive preferential treatment.”

The tips of Zurch’s claws were purple. “I apologize, Commander. I operated the mimeograph machine earlier.”

“You could not wash your claws?”

“The lavatory is still out of soap. Do you wish to question the human, sir?”

“No, Ensign.”

“Then why did you have me—” Zurch paused in mid-sentence and glared at the Commander. “Your father was wise to appoint you Commander. Perhaps I should tell my sister about your job performance, especially how you fraternize with the crew. Like a certain female in the biology lab.”

The Commander bared his fangs. “Zurch, there is no need to consult my mate.”

Zurch’s response was stiff and formal. “No, sir.”

Connie’s mind raced with thoughts of her fate. Weren’t aliens supposed to enslave humans or perform experiments? But maybe there was a way she could bargain her way off the ship.

She crossed her arms “How’d y’all like some new carbon paper?”


Zurch and Connie relaxed on the porch of her doublewide. They sipped Cheerwine under the full moon.

The barn was gone. And it had only taken space aliens to haul away Earl’s clutter.

Connie took a swig of cherry soda. “Your Commander sure runs things on the cheap.”

Zurch snorted. “His commission would decrease if he bought better supplies. He will not even repair the dishwasher.”

Screeching tires interrupted them. Earl’s pickup, rebel flags fluttering on the hood, careened down the dirt driveway. It almost collided into Zurch’s space transport before it skidded to a stop. Earl tossed out a beer can. He staggered to the trailer.

“Where you been?” Connie asked.

Earl scratched his unshaven chin. “Job hunting. Got some good leads.”

“Stop lying, Earl.”

“Have a few drinks with the boss, shoot some pool. Next thing you know you got a job.” He pulled another beer from his jacket and pointed at Zurch. “Who’s Godzilla?”

Zurch turned to Connie. “You and my sister share the same problem.” He nodded to Earl. “I am Zurch.”

“That a fact?” Earl almost lost his balance. He noticed the cleared area where the barn had once stood. “Where the hell’s my stuff?”

Connie laughed. “Gone, Earl. You hadn’t cleaned it up in five years.”

“I want it back, you stupid little—”

“Space aliens got your stuff, Earl,” Connie shouted. “Your boxes are going to Jupiter or something on that ship over there.”

Earl chugged his beer. “Godzilla took my singing deer?”

She squinted at her husband. Was he really so dim? Then she noticed the lipstick on the collar of his NRA tee-shirt. “Why don’t you go with him, you son of a bitch?”

Zurch rose. “An excellent idea. Earl could wash the Empire’s dishes and make mimeographed copies among the stars.”

Earl looked confused. “Huh?”

Zurch twisted the barrel of his ray gun and fired a short violet burst at Earl.

A big dopey grin replaced Earl’s usual smug smile. “That’d be awesome!”

“We will bring him back soon.” Zurch held out his claw. “Come with me, sir.”

Connie made a mental note to change the locks before Earl returned. She wondered how Earl would do, but realized that she just didn’t care. Besides, anyone had to pay his dues with that first real job. END

Peter Wood is an attorney from Raleigh. He was recently published in “Asimov’s.” His previous story for us was “Foggy Planet Breakdown,” in the 12-DEC-2013 update.




By Preston Dennett

JUST IN CASE YOU’RE WONDERING, you don’t dream in cryosleep. At least I didn’t. It was black mold that killed me. I never really expected to wake back up. I had just fallen asleep when—what felt like seconds later—I woke up to see several seven-foot-tall cockroaches dressed in white coats surrounding my cryotank.

True to my nature, I began screaming in utter horror. You have to understand, this was my first exposure to seven-foot-tall intelligent cockroaches, and I’m a sensitive guy.

“Do not be afraid, little human,” the ugly one said with a distinct cockroachy accent. “We won’t hurt you. In fact, we have worked very hard to revive you. We are so glad that you have survived. Please, do not be afraid.”

“But I am afraid!” I shouted, and I thrashed around weakly in my tank, unable to get up. “Where am I? Who are you? Where is everyone?”

I was in some sort of hospital room. To my left were all kinds of weird-looking medical devices. To my right was a large picture window. More tall cockroaches stood there with computer pads and voice-recorders—each of them staring at me.

“If you mean the other humans,” said Head Roach, “they’re all gone. Humans have been extinct for almost a million years. I’m sorry. You are the only human we know of. It’s a miracle we were able to bring you to life.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “Then it’s true? Cockroaches have taken over the Earth. I knew this would happen. We all did. We knew it!”

“Oh, no,” said Mr. Bug-Eyes. “You misunderstand. We here,” he waved one of his many arms, “we are like you. We have also been revived from cryosleep. Yes, we ruled the Earth for hundreds of thousands of years, after you humans destroyed yourselves. But unfortunately, now our numbers are few. Only a small handful of us still survive.”

“Oh,” I said, feeling suddenly sorry for Mr. Buggerstein. “Then who rules Earth now? Oh God, please don’t tell me it’s the apes.”

“Apes? No.”

“Then who?”

“Well ...” Bug-Breath seemed to hesitate.

At that moment, the door to the room opened, and in walked an eight-foot, five hundred pound bipedal rat, dressed in a soft purple robe.

It waddled forward and put its paw gently in my hand. “Very nice to meet you,” it said. “I’m so happy the roaches were able to revive you. An actual human! Our masters will be so proud. They are very excited to meet you.”

“Masters?” I squeaked. “You mean, rats don’t rule the Earth?”

“No. Oh, we used to. Perhaps it’s best we just introduce you.”

And in walked one of the new rulers of planet Earth. I recognized it immediately from my shower. Needless to say, I began screaming in horror. Like I said, I’m sensitive.

The roaches all bowed in unison. His Ratness waved his paw with great flourish and said, “May I introduce you to Black Mold.”

We’ve met, I thought, and I continued screaming. END

Preston Dennett is a world famous UFOlogist. His fiction has appeared in “Andromeda Spaceways,” “Aurora Wolf,” the “Future Embodied Anthology,” and other venues.



Pretty Moons All in a Row

By Doug Donnan

“TELL US, PROFESSOR, JUST HOW often does this alignment business happen?” a young blonde reporter asked. She had a probing intensity that shocked even her. It was her first actual assignment, but one would never have guessed it by the way she conducted herself.

“Well miss,” Professor Vanderbilt began as he slowly pulled away his chromium wire rimmed glasses as if he were about to address a room filled with impatient students. “The chances of this ever happening again are, at best, infinitesimal. This arrangement of Jupiter’s moons, all in a row if you will, would be a long shot at any casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City!”

“But what does it all have to do with us here on Big Blue?” the woman pressed. “Layman’s lingo if you would please.”

“Okay, I’ll try,” Vanderbilt said as he grasped the podium just beneath the huge bouquet of microphones. “The giant Jupiter has a plethora of moons, large and small, some very close to it, and some far away, from the massive icy Ganymede to the tiny Leda. They are, each and all, captured in the great planet’s gravitational net. There are at least sixteen moons, at last count, orbiting her. That’s a lot of satellites young lady and if you have them all in alignment sandwiched between Earth, including the eclipsing Mars and our lonely old Moon, we might just have ourselves one heck of a ... moving event! At the very least, we’ll be treated to an impossibly rare bright object in the sky.”

“That’s not that far off, sir. It’s only a few weeks,” an older television anchorman called out as he fanned some fingers up in the air for effect. “Should we be concerned?”

Professor Vanderbilt cupped a hand above his eyes before replacing his glasses. He stood awash in the bright camera lights in his white lab coat. He was secretly enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame.

“Well, quite frankly, sir—we’re not certain about that. Some of my colleagues pooh-pooh this Jovian lunar parade away as merely a very rare astronomical phenomenon while still others are ready to sound the alarm for some resounding global catastrophe.”

“What do you think? Is something big gonna happen, something ... major?”

“I think that this unique experience just may affect a few of us rather ... passionately.”

“Maybe it’s just me, doc, but that kind of passionate experience doesn’t sound very sexy,” a reporter offered back.

Soon newspapers and magazines worldwide jumped all over the extraterrestrial event:

“Moon Riddler!” for Time magazine.

“Queue Balls!” quipped Newsweek.

“Jupiter Jam!” announced The National Enquirer.

“What Goes Around Comes Around!” headlined USA Today.

And so what began as a whimsical curiosity for most rational people around the globe soon became a growing concern as the alignment of the sixteen distant moons drew near. The professor grew ever more concerned, eventually extremely apprehensive.


“Come to bed, Godfrey,” Mrs.Vanderbilt sighed as she squinted out from the crater-like depression of her down pillow. “For heaven’s sake it’s three o’clock in the morning!”

Ssshh, Mariane—I can’t sleep! In a few hours they’ll be set in line, all of them! The Galileans—Io, Europa, Callisto, Ganymede—and then falling in perfect alignment Metis, Adrastea, Almalthea, Thebe, Leda, Himalia, Lysithea, Elara, Ananke, Carme, Pasiphae, and Sinope. All tugging away with Jupiter behind them! The effect of it all, the gravitational force and pull on us. There’ll be devastation, Mariane—heaving, catastrophic shifting tides, tsunamis, global flooding ..."

“Oh stop that nonsense, Godfrey Vanderbilt,” she sighed. “You’re driving me crazy with all this moon business. You’ve managed to convince everybody but yourself that there’s nothing to it all. She rolled over on her side like some large, foundering ocean liner. “Come back to bed. Tomorrow is a busy day for heaven’s sake!”

Vanderbilt loped over to the triptych of bump out bedroom bay windows that overlooked the snow covered back courtyard of the two-story brownstone. The moonlight seemed almost phosphorescent as it washed over everything below. He massaged his pulsing temples with the very tips of his fingers as he gazed up at the twinkling darkness of the sky. He focused his attention on the radiant North Star ... Polaris, everyman’s ultimate guide for hope and direction. A glistening tear wandered down his cheek, controlled only by gravity and fate. He made a silent wish as he pressed the sweating palms of his hands against the frosted window pane:

“Dear God, I hope I am wrong and the forces of the cosmos spare us the pain and suffering of this catastrophe. Let it be. Please ... just let it be.”


In the morning, the Vanderbilt house was alive with the excitement and wonder of a new day. Sweet smells wafted from the kitchen. Squealing and chattering from the children playing in the snow—thankfully for professor Vanderbilt pressing away on the TV remote control everything seemed Norman Rockwell perfect.

Godfrey! Please turn that thing off and come join us in the kitchen for breakfast.”

Vanderbilt was studying the screen with grave intent and interest. Finally he placed the remote back down on the coffee table.

“I think it’s over and we’ve made it through!” he said to no one in particular. He reached for the phone on the mahogany end table and was about to make some phone calls. His aproned wife came and stood behind him. She placed her floured hands on his shoulders and began to knead them like cookie dough.

“I told you everything would be okay, Godfrey. Nothing happened! Remember, the Lord and this universe must work in strange and mysterious ways. Please come along now and join us in the kitchen. I’m making pancakes ... mmm!”

Vanderbilt raised himself up with a deep sigh of satisfaction and followed the cooking scents into the white warmth of the kitchen. It was true. Nothing had happened. His wife was right—strange and mysterious ways indeed!


Vengapi Pinjvanda had guided his herd of milking goats and rather extensive Himba family through the Kaokoveld region of the Namib Desert many times in the past. The Kunene River that snaked its way through this particularly arid and desolate section of the Namib had always been an oasis. But now, in the last year or so, the Kunene had dried up into a parched red clay rut.

It had become only a pathetic thin highway for stealthy sand lizards and a crude, twisting runway for scavenging vultures.

As he sat there with his long willowy black arms crossed over his knees, Vengapi tilted his head down as if all at once the total weight of his frustrated efforts to exist had pushed down upon him like some great and merciless weight. His pipe-stemmed children in their pathetic faded American relief tee-shirts and the struggling sea of emaciated goats all gathered around him hoping that somehow he could bring the cool flow of water back to them. It was a cruel scene of futility and barren despair.

And just then ...

There was an impatient rumbling, a shuddering tremor off in the distance. They could all feel the quivering vibration along the dried mud of the crevasse that was the Kunene.

Like an eye-blistering mirage, the waters rushed past them. A thin, muddy ribbon at first, and then, gradually, a churning silver flow of refreshing liquid life. They staggered forward and cautiously dipped themselves into the rushing water. Many of them fell to their knees there at the bank of the rejuvenated river. They scooped the dried cups of their hands down into the cool wetness and pulled up a refreshing drink. The skeletal goats fanned out and waded in, bleating and crying as they slurped at the crystal waters of the revived Kunene.

Vengapi raised himself up and blew out a thin sigh of ecstasy. He shuffled forward and stepped into the miraculous river. He stood there for a moment letting the cool, rushing water massage his burning feet before he had even noticed it off on the lavender horizon, just above the jagged mountain range. The herdsman cupped his crusted hand over his squinting eyes and tried to focus on the heavens. There was an impossibly rare bright object hanging up in the blue sky, almost like a flickering campfire.

Here, in the light of day, it shone down for all to see. Vengapi collapsed to his knees and wept at the strange beauty of it all. END

Doug Donnan lives on an island in Florida. He is a frequent contributor to “Perihelion.” His last story for us was “Bienvenido! Bienvenido!” in the 12-OCT-2013 update.