Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Their Trailing Skies for Vestment
by Joseph Green
and Shelby Vick

by Nathaniel Heely

Mapping in the Darkness
by Siobhan Gallagher

Hard Passage
by Holly Schofield

by Linda A.B. Davis

In Therapy With an Alien Cabdriver
by John Skylar

Dancing in the Black Blizzard
by Devin Miller

by Michael McGlade

Don't Think Twice
by Jack Ryan

Two in the Hand
by Jeff Samson


A Force of Gravity
by J. Richard Jacobs

Gravitational Waves
by John McCormick




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips




By Linda A.B. Davis

DAWNA’S BREATH WARMED MY SKIN, and she groaned in anticipation. I nuzzled the nape of her neck lost in my own fantasies.

“Wait, did you hear that?” she asked.

“Hear what?” Was she speaking real words now?

“The TV. It said something about aliens being here.”

That grabbed only the edge of my attention. “They’re not here with us, so turn it off. We’ll catch it later.”

“Are you kidding?” She pushed me aside with more than a little effort and turned toward the TV. Her auburn hair was a mess, still tangled and frizzed from my efforts. Her Paradise Pink lipstick was trapped in the fine lines of her mouth. She grabbed the remote and clicked the volume up.

“Dawna, that can wait,” I said, whined if the truth was told. “The kids are gone and we’ve got three whole days to ourselves.”

“Then we can wait long enough to hear this.”

“Really?” I fell back on the bed and rubbed my face with force. “I hate female logic.”

The blonde and busty anchorwoman prattled on with more than usual vigor. Her eyes shone, and her voice shook. With good reason, I thought. If the alien thing was true, it was the story of a lifetime.

“... just in from Atlanta. An alien ship has stopped over the city. They haven’t made any attempts at communication. This ship is the one hundred fourteenth one to park itself over an American city. Other reports are coming in even as we speak.”

“Jesus, Ray. Look at that.”

If anything could snap me out of my sex-brain, that was it. The ship was a V-shape, like a carpenter’s square, and hung eerily silent. Three red lights ran the length of each angled side.

“Look, Dawna. It’s translucent. You can see the day-moon through it.” I moved closer to the TV. Now I regretted not springing for that big screen model which Dawna had liked so much.

“How weird,” she said. “Human history just changed.”

“What do you think they want?” I asked. “They’re not attacking or anything.”

“Yeah, but neither are they coming out for a howdy-do.”

I stumbled out of bed and trotted naked to the kitchen to grab my cell phone off of the counter. “We need to call your Mom and Dad to tell them to bring the girls back home.”

“Good idea,” she said. She paused and bit her bottom lip. “I don’t know what else to do right now. It seems like we should be doing something. We all saw Independence Day and War of the Worlds. Tom Cruise would be doing something.”

“Ssshhh,” I said. I spoke into the phone to the voice mail. “Hey, it’s Ray,” I said. “I don’t know if you’ve seen the news, but you need to bring the girls home now. We don’t know what’s going to happen with these aliens, but we need to prepare. Wherever you are, turn around and come home.” I took a breath. “And tell Esme and Iona that we love them.”

“They probably hit a dead spot driving,” Dawna said. “I’m sure they’ll be fine. Mom and Dad are quite capable.”

“They are in their fifties.”

She chuckled. “That’s not exactly nursing home material.”

“You know what I mean.”

We’d known about the aliens for twelve whole minutes when the first noise hit. Technically, I suppose it can’t be called noise if it’s not in the environment for your ears to actually hear. For lack of a better word though, that’s what the world would come to call it, the “noise.”

Everyone except the small children and animals heard it, and I doubted I would survive it that first time. The base sound was a high-pitched, continuous whine that threatened to explode my head. On top of that were screams, howls, and other primeval animal sounds. Then, somewhere just in the background, I heard a human baby’s cry. How could that racket be coming from inside my head?

It went on for ten minutes. You’d think you could survive anything for ten minutes. It doesn’t sound like a long time, not until you’re rolling around on the floor grabbing your head and screaming for the noise to stop, just stop. That’s a lot of rolling and grabbing. I also discovered that it only takes a few minutes of abandoned screaming to go hoarse.

Then silence, blessed silence. If I’d suddenly gone deaf, I would’ve kissed that stupid-looking picture of Jesus over our bed but no such luck. As my hearing returned to normal, I heard crying and looked to see Dawna curled up under the dining room table. I crawled over.

“Baby? Are you okay? Can you hear me?” My voice came out a whisper.

She nodded. I heard muffled words coming from inside her hands. I reached over and peeled them off of her face. Her eyes were swollen and wet.


“What was that?” she asked. “What in God’s name was that?”

“I don’t know.” I helped her out from under the table and over to the couch. I leaned back and held her against me.

“It had to be the aliens,” I said after a moment’s thought. “There’s no other explanation.”

“But why? To scare us?”

“Or to hurt us,” I offered. “They did both.”

I grabbed the living room remote and turned it to the news channel, too. The same woman was at the news desk but looking definitely worse for wear. Her bleached hair splayed outward and smeared mascara darkened her eyes.

“... don’t know what that was, folks, but I’m getting word from my producer that experts are calling it telepathically induced. That means that someone or something inside the ships can make us hear things. Whether it’s one or many doing it, we’re under attack. My producer also tells me that the military is making preparations to respond.”

My cell phone rang. I jumped up, knocking Dawna aside in my hurry, and managed to get the phone before it hit voice mail.

“Daddy?” It was Iona, my oldest at just seven.

“Where are you? Are you guys okay?”

She paused. “Me and Esme are. Grandma and Grandpa are hurt.”

“Hurt how?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “They just started screaming and holding their ears. They’re done now, but they’re still crying.”

“The car didn’t wreck?”

“No, we stopped for gas. But I’m scared, Daddy.” She sniffled.

“Put Grandpa on the phone.”

I heard muffled noises and then a strained voice. “Ray?”

“Yeah, where are you? I’ll come get you.”

“The Shell station in Flomaton. How’s Dawna? Did she hear it, too?”

“We all did, I think, except for the girls. Why not them?”

“There are a couple of other small kids here who seem fine. Everybody else is still recovering. We’ll wait for you.”

I hung up and motioned to Dawna. “Let’s go get them. They weren’t even on I-65 yet.”

Regular life had stopped outside, and chaos reigned. Most of the people we saw were throwing essentials into cars and shouting to each other.

“Get the kids, we’ve got to go!”

“Don’t forget the canned goods!”

“Mommy, where are we going?”

Dawna looked at me. “Where are they going, do you think?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know, but if I thought someplace was safer, we’d be going, too.”

“Maybe the aliens can’t reach past a certain area.”

We got to Highway 29 just a mile down and groaned. The scene resembled a Hollywood blockbuster film about the day after a zombie apocalypse. Cars jutted out from each other in both intersections. People wandered aimlessly as blood trickled and poured from various injuries.

“Ray, we have to help them. Look.”

One of them spotted our moving car. “Help us!” he cried as he threw his hands into the air and waved us to him. He tried to run, but his ankle turned funny, and his stride became a gimpy lope. His face grimaced in pain.

I glanced at Dawna through blurry tears as I made a decision. I yanked the wheel to turn the car away from the intersection and into a vacant stretch of land that paralleled some train tracks.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m getting to our daughters. And your parents. We can’t afford the time it would take to help.”

She bit her lip and we both nodded. I didn’t like myself much at that moment. It sucks to find out you’re not the quality person you always thought you were.

We finally made our way onto the relatively empty stretch of highway to Flomaton. Some cars had run into the ditch, but others whizzed by us as they tried to escape the city. Where could you hide from telepathic noise?

Flomaton is a podunk town, so it wasn’t hard to find the Shell station. We saw Dawna’s parents’ car before we got into the parking lot, and Dawna was already halfway out the door when we stopped.

She raced across the short distance and stopped as she saw the two front doors open with only her parents in the car. I heard her shouting as I rushed up behind her.

“Where are the girls, Mom? Dad? Where are our children?”

Liz leaned forward with her head in her hands. She looked up to Dawna with tears streaming down her face. Her face was tight as she tried to speak through the emotion. She gulped and gasped as she spoke.

“I don’t know, honey,” she said. “This thing, this tiny plane or flying saucer or something landed in the parking lot. It grabbed the four children here and left. We tried to fight it. We tried. I’m so sorry. I don’t know where they are!”

As I tried to process this information, another bout of noise hit. It was as horrible as before. I got the same elements in my noise, but this time it was my children crying instead of a baby. They called to me from somewhere in a vacuum as their voices echoed.

“Daddy? Where are you? It’s dark here, and we don’t like it!”

I wanted to die. If someone had offered to kill me right then for fifty cents, I’d have emptied my pockets eagerly. Their voices, mixed with the physically painful racket running around in my head, had me screaming for it to just please end.

When it was over, I found myself laid out. I realized I felt burned, and looked down at myself. My arms and legs were red, scratched, and raw in places from rolling around on the asphalt covered in dirt and pebbles. I found Dawna hanging on to the door of the car as she wept. Liz and Ty had grabbed each other within the car and held tight. All of us looked like crap.

“Everyone okay?” Ty asked. He grabbed himself in a bear hug as cold air whipped through the open parking lot. October is a fickle month in northern Florida. It can hit you with a stiff chill or have you wearing shorts. This was a stiff chill year.

We answered in small grunts. “So what happened to the girls?” I asked. I tried to breathe without hyperventilating. “I heard some of it. They were okay and then they got taken? By little spaceships? Are you kidding?”

Ty jumped out of the car. “Do I look like I’m kidding? Our granddaughters are gone, and I’m making this up?”

“Calm down,” I said as I touched him on the shoulder.

He took a breath. “Yeah. Two ships came down from nowhere. They weren’t here one minute and then they were. They hovered about ten feet up. We shoved the girls down to the floorboards and told them to be quiet.” He hiccupped.

Liz took over the tale there. “They never even left the car, Ray. Just like the ship came from nowhere, the girls went to nowhere. They simply weren’t there anymore.”

I scanned the parking lot. There were ten or so people milling about. “Who else’s kids got taken here?”

Liz pointed to a young, blonde woman who sat on the step in front of the main door. “That girl looks pretty freaked out. Check with her.”

Dawna looked at me. “I’ll go. She looks like a mom who might need another mom.” She grabbed the sweater out of the back seat and took it with her.

We watched as Dawna approached her and spoke. She bent down and put her arm around the young woman, a teenager even. The girl openly wept as Dawna drew the sweater around her shoulders. As Dawna held her, a young man approached and sat down. He spoke to both of them, and his face took on a hard look. He reached out to take the girl from Dawna and cradle her in his shoulder. Dawna let her hand linger on the girl’s head and trail away as she turned to come back.

Her report was short. “She had a little boy with her, just three. He did the same thing. He disappeared as she was holding his hand.”

“How horrible,” Ty said after a pause. “But what do we do now?”

“We go back home,” I said. “There’s nothing else we can do right now. We’ll get a game plan.”

On the way home, we discussed the noise. The second episode happened just one hour after the first one. We all had the same experience with only a bit of personalization. We heard different voices, ones important to us. The rest of the episode though sounded like a soundtrack from Hell with torture and cruelty at the top of the list.

I’m a hard one to faze, having had any sensibilities literally kicked out of me by a crazy stepfather. I’ve always thought I was tough, but apparently not so much.

We spent the rest of the day alternating between being glued to the TV and battling the bouts of noise every hour. We surfed the channels of live and continuous coverage of the ships, which was now all of them. The ships were showing up around the rest of the world, too.

One commentator talked about how children across the globe were disappearing. “So what do you think, Dr. McInerny?” asked the reporter, this one a man with hollowed and haunted eyes. “What do they want with our children?”

The consultant was a sociology professor from one of the biggie universities, but I didn’t care enough to catch which one. “Well, Sam, who knows? They may not want our children at all. They might only be using them to get to the adults, as a fear factor. It’s not a bad strategy. Or it may have something to do with the fact that the kids don’t hear the noise. Maybe it’s a rooting out factor. Run those that hear it into the ground and take the healthy minds, the best of the best, not knowing they belong to children. Maybe they’ll return them if they don’t want them.”

“Good Lord,” Liz said. “I hate to think of poor Esme and Iona with nasty aliens.”

Ty spoke. “They might not be nasty. Maybe they’re glowing and beautiful.”

Liz gave him a hateful look. “Don’t try to help,” she said. He sighed and leaned back to close his eyes.

The noises continued through the night. I managed to snatch a few minutes of sleep between each episode, but never enough to get any real rest. Dawna tried to drown her noise out with sleeping pills. That only succeeded in making her feel worse because the noise wouldn’t let her sleep, no matter how much her brain and body demanded it. We didn’t see much of Liz and Ty as they battled their own demonic alien noises in the guest bedroom.

By dawn, my body absolved itself of any immediate worry regarding Esme and Iona. I knew that I loved them, but it was hard to concentrate on what I couldn’t see.

“We should be doing something,” I said to Dawna after the sunrise episode.

She lay on the bed with her eyes closed. “Like what? I want them back, too, but how do we get to those ships? There’s nothing to do but to wait, and see if the aliens give them back.”

“That sounds so lame,” I said.

“I’ve got to nap. My brain is going to explode.” She raised her hand with effort to see her watch. “We’ve only got another forty-five minutes before the next noise.”

After we’d closed our eyes only to be awakened by another episode and managed that battle, we looked out the window to treat ourselves to daylight. We’d gotten our own ship at some point during the night. It was magnificent in its size and scale, and I shook my head hard to rid myself of the notion of being impressed. The creatures inside had our babies, and I refused to be impressed with them.

The ship had to be a few miles long, but without anything to compare it to in the skyline, I couldn’t tell for sure. It looked exactly like the hundreds already on TV now, with the triangular shape and red running lights. I noticed the quiet. How did something of that magnitude hover without sounding like one big engine? Did it actually make no noise, or did it have a noise cancellation system?

“Funny,” I said, “how hardened we are now to the sight of these things, huh? A week ago, if we’d seen just one, we’d be so overwhelmed at the implications of other life.”

“Well, they can take their life and shove it ...”

Dawna stopped speaking as a dozen jets came into view from behind us, probably from Pensacola’s Navy base. They flew quickly and directly. Clearly they had but one mission, to bring that ship down. The jets spread out into different directions and then approached the alien ship together, letting loose their missiles on swing-bys. The bombs hit their target, and we heard the blasts that shook our windows seconds later. Their efforts, however, didn’t seem to do much damage. The aircraft circled back around and took another turn with their desperate firepower, but it resulted in the same effect—nothing. They coalesced back into formation, and departed as suddenly as they’d come. I hung my head.

At that moment, we heard two more blasts, and I jerked my head up as I realized the shots had come from inside the house.

“Oh, God,” Dawna said. She practically fell off the bed in her hurry to hit the floor. She sprinted down the hallway to the guest bedroom. I followed.

She threw open the door to a horrific scene. Both Liz and Ty lay crookedly with half their heads blown off. This was the part that most movie directors don’t show in death-by-gunshot scenes. Here, however, was the off-camera scene, the one that no sane person ever wants to see for real. The back of Liz and Ty’s heads covered the bed and walls. Blood and bone and brain bits covered half the room. Some had even splattered on the ceiling. I grabbed for Dawna before she got to the bed but missed.

“No! Mom, Dad! What did you do?” She flung herself over her mother’s body. I rushed to her side and tried to pull her away from the soaked covers.

“Come on, Dawna. I’ll clean this up. Why don’t you go to the other room?”

“Ray, what did they do? Why?” Her voice was muffled as she spoke into the bed. Disturbing wasn’t even an adequate word for it.

“I don’t know, baby,” I said. “They obviously couldn’t take it. We should’ve all stayed together. I should have made them come in with us.”

“But why would they leave me here? I don’t have my babies, and now I don’t have them? Where did Dad get a gun?” She slid off the bed and would’ve collapsed to the floor, too exhausted to even sob, had I not caught her.

“This must be part of their plan,” she said.


“The aliens. They must be waiting for us all to kill ourselves or to be so mentally and physically strained that we can’t put up much of a fight.”

I paused. It wasn’t a bad theory. Give us humans a few more days of this noise crap, and there would be hardly anyone left to fight. Those who were left wouldn’t have the strength or focus to fight. They were using our own psyches against us. Brilliant.

“Come on,” I said. “Let’s go get you cleaned up.”

I helped her get undressed and into the shower. As I listened to those calming and normal sounds, I went to the kitchen and grabbed a giant roll of plastic wrap. I then hurried to the guest bedroom, anxious to be done before Dawna was finished. I pulled the bed from the wall and spent the next few minutes wrapping it in its disgusting entirety. Getting the wrap under and around the bed was a bit of a tussle, but I finished it soon enough. Then I turned to the air vents and covered those. By the time Dawna was drying off, the room was as contained as it was going to be. We would deal with the mess later.

We listened to the news, as if there was anything else on. It was all aliens all the time on the few channels that were still available. There was so much damage, and we hadn’t seen one of the aliens yet, only their technology. They might be a lot of things, but stupid wasn’t one of them.

After yet another episode of noise, I realized how truly worried about Dawna I was. She’d given up caring about how she looked; her face was gaunt and thin already. Her normally clear, sky blue eyes lacked their luster. It had only been twenty-four hours since the first noise, and she already resembled someone who’d been yanked out of her deathbed.

I considered Liz and Ty dead in the next room over. I wasn’t doing a great job of keeping my people safe. I might not get my girls back, and I might not be able to kick any alien ass, but I could keep Dawna alive. That, I decided, was now my goal. She and I would get out of this, whatever it was, alive and sane.

Another round of firepower up above rattled the house, and I decided to step out into the front yard to take a look. A beagle barked as it wandered the street, probably wondering where its people were. Normally, I would take in a stray dog and make all reasonable efforts to find them, but not now. I could barely keep my own people alive.

“Where are you, girls?” I asked to the sky. I watched the ship for a while, wondering if Esme and Iona were somewhere within, cold, scared, or hurt. I glanced down to the pumpkins that we’d decorated sitting on the step. I bent down to run my hand over their cool smoothness before I stood again.

For the first time, I saw smaller ships decloaking—for lack of a better word—as they got close enough to the ship to enter. My hands twitched with the want to do something, anything, but the military wasn’t taking civilian volunteers.

“Sucks, huh?”

I turned my head to the direction of the voice. Doris, my next door neighbor, had come out to watch with me. Her dark brown skin was now dirty and void of any of its usual glow. Her face was hard, and her graying, short hair stuck out like it belonged on a mangy doll’s head.

“What?” I said.

“I said it sucks. Have you been watching the news?”

“Yeah.” I sighed. “They’ve got Esme and Iona.”

“God, I’m sorry, Ray. How’s Dawna holding up?”

“Pretty good considering her parents just killed themselves in the guest room.”

“I’m sorry again. I haven’t heard from my children. They’re in Mississippi for the fall term. I guess their phones aren’t working.”

“Or maybe they’re on their way here,” I offered.

“Maybe,” she said. “But I doubt it. You know, one of the worst things about this is that yesterday morning, people dying would’ve made the front page news. Today it’s just part of the day.”

“Well, what are you doing?”

Doris turned to look at me. Her eyes were bloodshot and swollen. She looked like she’d lost twenty pounds already, but that part was probably my imagination. Exhaustion and fear will do that to you.

“What should I be doing?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Stocking up. Preparing. Stuff like that.”

“It’s just me. I did take this little dog in though. I don’t know where his people are, but between the noisy times, I huddle up with him. I saw a cat in the back yard, too, but cats pretty much take care of themselves.”

I smiled. “They are known to do that.” I glanced back to the house, realizing that I’d been gone longer than I’d intended. “Got to get back,” I said. “We’ve got twenty more minutes before the noise hits, and I want to be ready with Dawna.”

“Good luck to you both, sweetie.” Doris turned and stepped back into her house.

I started to step inside, too, but damned if one of those little spaceships didn’t pick that moment to pop in down the road and hover. I grabbed a garden hoe from against the house and sprinted with the help of massive amounts of adrenaline. I saw that Joe Cortez two doors down and across the street had the same idea, but he had a shovel.

The ship sat six feet above the street. It was round, shiny gray and about the diameter of an above ground pool. It was standard stuff as to what we thought spaceships looked like except that it was small. There was room for probably only three or four people in there. Joe and I reached the ship at the same time and began to wail on it.

“No,” Joe screamed. “You can’t have him! He’s not yours and you can’t have him.” His lean face was strained and flushed red with anger.

I threw my body into my blows. It was finally something I could do, beat the hell out of a spaceship. Maybe we could bring it down and break it open somehow, maybe actually catch one of the little bastards. I put my heart and soul into the venting of my rage. The ship rang with the force of the blows, and the recoil raced up the wooden shaft to reverberate through my arms. The ship wavered a tad, but for the most part, stayed steady.

The front door to the house opened, and a thirty-ish woman ran out. “Give him back, you monsters!” She made a dash for the saucer as well, but then it disappeared as suddenly as it had come. I figured from watching the news that it hadn’t actually disappeared, but it had cloaked. Where it went after that was only a guess, but it would probably head to the mothership.

Rhonda Bennett screamed for another minute until she dropped to a squat and sobbed. It seemed to be all anyone was doing now, crying. It was probably all anyone could do for now. I imagined that in a day or two the relief efforts would start, but I didn’t think we’d get that far.

Sure, humans are a hearty lot. We’ve survived conditions of unimaginable horror, but then again, a bump on the back of the head in the right spot will kill us. So will no sleep combined with mental stress, as Dawna had pointed out.

I watched as Joe tried to comfort Rhonda. “Come with me. Theresa and I will stay with you until he comes back.” He helped her up, nodded to me, and gently led her to his own house. I headed back. I didn’t want to leave Dawna alone with her dead parents for too long.

I found her in the kitchen dragging a pack of water bottles out from under the counter. I grabbed some, too, and we made a little stash of drinks in the middle of the kitchen floor to take stock.

“If this goes on much longer,” I said, “we’ll have to go shopping.”

Dawna glanced at me, and I saw the twitch of an almost-smile. An angry buzz then emitted from the TV. We dashed to the living room to see a live shot of the alien ship hovering over Philadelphia.

“What’s that coming out of the ship?” Dawna asked.

I moved as close to the screen as I could without my eyes crossing. “They look like creatures, giant birds maybe.” I paused to study the flying things further. “Pterodactyls?”

“They can’t be. Dinosaur aliens? That’s stupid.” Dawna snorted.

“What are they then?” I asked with a challenge in my tone.

Dawna frowned. “Don’t snap at me. I can’t help it if it sounds stupid.” She turned to study the screen again. “Damned if they don’t look like that though.”

Alien birds swooped out of the ship like a colony of bats coming out for the night. “Just think,” I said. “That many things are coming out of hundreds of ships all over the world.”

The final noise hit and it turned out to be the mother of all episodes. I’ll spare the ugly details, but Dawna and I now knew what became of Esme and Iona and all the other small children of the world. I never could have imagined that thousands of years of species domination would end like this.

The aliens had stopped to feed. Having highly evolved brains, they could telepathically reach us humans. We were the cattle, and our children the veal, the most tender members of the herd.

Dawna and I heard in detail the vicious last moments of Esme and Iona’s lives as they were slaughtered and prepared to feed to the royalty, the intelligence behind this attack. If I heard my own children, then others must have heard the same thing from the children in their own lives. This final noise had been meant to break us, to render us insane and make us easy prey. But prey for what?

Those hideous creatures still exiting the ships were their workers. The remaining humans, us being the herd, were their buffet. Earth simply acted as an interstellar, stop-over meal. They had to eat, too, and we were here.

When the noise ended, as I laid there recovering with my eyes still closed, I wiped my face. I rubbed my fingers, wondering about the sticky wetness between them. I forced my eyes open, knowing in my heart that it was blood. Yep. I whipped my head to the left and saw Dawna dead, too, and the scene was just as horrible as Liz and Ty’s. She’d grabbed the gun from my waistband somehow during the noise in order to end the sounds. Sometimes, I thought, ignorance was infinitely better than knowing, this being one of those times.

“What did you do, Dawna? Now what am I supposed to do?” I asked. I closed my eyes and said a prayer for God to take care of my three girls. I didn’t ask him to take care of me. I would be there soon enough to ask in person.

I heard insistent knocking at several of the windows. It didn’t sound like someone knocking to come in, but instead, like someone trying to break the storm windows. I knew who it was, the bastards.

I snatched the gun out of Dawna’s hands and backed up to the couch. I watched one of the creatures through the window as it studied me. Yes, it was shaped like a pterodactyl from a distance, but up close, its owl-like eyes were quite pretty. The beak was a foot long and seemed incredibly sharp. What struck me with surprise however was the small mask it wore at the base of its beak. I could only deduce that it needed an air filter, a breather.

I sighed. So they did have a weakness. If only we’d known. Not that we’d have realized how to exploit it, but it would’ve given us hope, something vital to the survival of any species.

I checked the pistol and saw three bullets awaiting their orders to kill. My choice was to shoot three birds, or to shoot two birds and then myself. Did I want to escape pain more than I wanted to kill one more bird? I shivered with emotion as I considered the question. I could choose fear or hate.

Glass from that window broke, and I heard my first real alien sounds, deep throated grunts with little squeaks mixed in. The creature was now in my house up to his neck. It wiggled, making its way bit by bit. I nodded to it to come on in. Another window broke at the other end of the house. Then another.

I made my choice and hate won. Three it would be. END

Linda A.B. Davis has been published in several anthologies from DAW Books. She has had stories in “Bards and Sages,” “Everyday Weirdness,” and more. Her previous story for “Perihelion” was in the 12-APR-2013 Shorter Stories page.






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