Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Rules Concerning Earthlight
by Dale Ivan Smith and K.C. Ball

Waters of Lethe
by Ian Sales

Return of the Mayflower
by Gerald Warfield

Life Out of Harmony
by Rebecca Birch

Our Old Crossed Stars
by Travis Knight

Another Time in France
by Sylvia Anna Hiven

His Special Birthday
by Chet Gottfried

Sucks to Be You
by Tim McDaniel

8 Minutes, 15 Seconds
by Levi Jacobs

by Steve Rodgers

One-Way Ticket
by Milo James Fowler


Cool Facts About Cats
by Eric M. Jones

A Real Krell Brain Boost
by John McCormick




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips




Shorter Stories

My First Mission

By Josie Gowler

“WHY CAN’T THEY JUST DO the decent thing and surrender, damn it!”

Four hours into the raid, Sixsmith and I were having an impromptu war council in the bottom loading bay of the enemy ship. A schematic flat panel was propped up on some boxes in front of us.

“It’s bad, ma’am. Look at the screen. As fast as we’re routing ops control away from their bridge, they’re sticking in new pathways to route it back. We keep rejigging, but if we don’t get the bridge soon ...”

“... we’ll lose command of the areas we’ve already secured,” I finished for him. I watched the fighting swarm of red and green dots with mild detachment, thinking of the implications. If they regained enough access to the systems, the enemy could blow the airlocks, suck out the air from a level, delete gravity, magnetise the floors. It was going to get pretty grim if we didn’t do something quick to secure control.

That made up my mind. “OK, Sergeant, let’s get this finished. Fetch Advance Unit Four and tell them to get their out-space stuff on. We’ll need a forcefield generator, a hundred metres of DetCord and a remote detonator. Oh, and a pile of guns.” I stabbed a finger at the schematic. “Meet me there in five minutes.”


The Captain wasn’t quite as excited about my plan as I was when I called him on the com. “I have to say it sounds like an act of insanity to me, Midshipwoman Redjack,” he said. There was the crackle of static while he paused to think about it more. “But it’s still the best option. Just make sure your suits have enough propellant in their tanks to get you back if it does go wrong.” Another pause. “And good luck, young lady.”

I hoped that if this went right, he’d finally stop calling me that. And that I might even get a field Lieutenantship. Not too bad a thing to wish for, given that peace in the next decade was looking unlikely at best.


Fifteen minutes later, we were suited up and magno-booted onto the outside of the ship, waiting for the rest of the unit to finish their preparations. “Looks like a standard-layout Valiant-class bridge to me,” said Stripe Radcheva. We were standing at the edge of the bridge’s spacelight, a bright dome protruding from the boring grey that stretched half a kilometre in all directions. We peered at the scene of chaos below.

“With a moron in the Captain’s seat,” I replied. I glared down at their Captain’s bald head; he was waving long bony arms around, presumably giving orders, or perhaps he was having a fit. Lieutenants flocked around the bridge, executing some weird Brownian motion, the movement below all the stranger to us because it was without sound. Sixsmith and DeGoya joined us. Our lines snaked out behind us: we were all ready.

“Do you think they suspect anything, down there?” Sixsmith asked.

“Nah,” I said.

“It’s a plan of originality, that’s for sure,” noted Sixsmith. “Never seen anything like this in my fifteen years on Advance Crew.”

Praise indeed from such an old guy—he was twice my age—especially one who had survived Advance for so long and still had only one cybernetic limb. I looked up to where the forcefield would be. We had switched it on first, in case of accidents with the DetCord. “Got the detonator, Radcheva?”

“Yes ma’am.” Stripe paused. “But I think you should do the honours.”

“If you insist,” I said. She walked over and passed me the detonator. Easy to operate even in a spacesuit: big red button below a pictorial display. I thumbed my com to wide angle, taking in the other soldiers doing their final checks elsewhere in the forcefield. “Everyone clear? Detonation in sixty seconds.”

We took up positions behind our subsidiary forcefield. “Det ready?” I asked.

“Check,” said the Sergeant.

“Divers ready? IR half-screen on?”

“Yes ma’am!” said Sixsmith, DeGoya and Stripe. I flicked the switch for half-screen: now I would be able to see infrared of people below, with normal vision overlay for when things cleared or for the flash of the explosion.

“Blasting on my mark. Three—two—one—go!”

One moment the spacelight was there, the next the main forcefield was full of dust and debris. I felt the blast through my boots. I imagined the bum-clenching moment below when everyone on the bridge thought they were going to get sucked into outer space. Time to capitalise on that confusion.

“Divers go!” I yelled.

The subsidiary forcefields in front of us dropped. Sixsmith, DeGoya, Stripe and I sprinted to the spacelight from different directions, our lines playing out behind us. Bits of plass and metal crunched underfoot. I could make out the others on infrared, could see the gap where the spacelight had once been. We ran, we jumped. My helmet sensor picked out the location of the floor of the bridge and automatically adjusted the play-out and length of the line accordingly. I stopped upside-down with two metres between the top of my head and the floor.

Spotting the enemies with infrared was easy. Some were cowering, some were running, still others had guessed what we were up to and were firing straight at us. Naturally, they were the ones I targeted first. Once I’d got them, I thumbed my loudspeaker mike. “This is Midshipwoman Redjack of the Kappa. We have the bridge. Surrender now.”

They did. All of them. Hands up, standing like statues in the clearing mist of debris. I tucked my knees in and spun the right way up. The line sensed this and extended until I touched down gently on the deck, gauss pistol in each hand, in the midst of the thrashed enemy. My first mission had been a success. I allowed myself a non-soldierly thought: damn, I bet that looked goodEND

Josie Gowler writes weird tales set in the English East Anglian fens, science fiction and fantasy. She is currently working on a trashy coming-of-age space opera.



On a Sea of Sand

By Louis Shalako

THIRST TORMENTED ME. My mouth was as dry as parchment. To swallow was to risk my tongue getting stuck in the back of my throat and blocking off my windpipe. My eyeballs felt like radishes in my head. The bridge of my nose burned from the sun and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Ahead stretched a sea of sand. The big yellow moon was rising. The smaller white one was high overhead, almost invisible in the creamy yellowing haze of late afternoon.

It was irony that had brought me here.

That and stubborn, foolish, miserable love.

It’s like you can’t go back sometimes.

Wave after undulating wave of glistening white silica shimmered off into the distance.

The shadows stretched longer now, the pale bluish pencil lines of dead weeds and long yellow bits of straw-grass, few as they were, marked the contours of the slopes.

Yes, if only she could see me now.

If only. If only. You and your damned kid. My initial thought was that he had done it on purpose, but the boy just didn’t have it in him. We’d been sniping back and forth quite a bit lately, but a sober assessment of the facts reminded me that the fuel gauge had never been that accurate, and lately it had definitely been going a bit squirrely as the level in the tank dropped.

It was an accident, nothing more ...

The sun was impossible to look at. A couple more hours of daylight left, and it was still scorching. There was no way to hide from it. The right side of my face and neck were painfully burned, the backs of my hands, everything. Tempted to tear off the sleeves off my shirt earlier, I resisted the impulse on seeing the sharp line between the red hands and the pale skin above the cuffs.

Many kilometres away loomed the grey shoulders of the mountains. They lined the horizon, barring the way home. Darkness was coming. There was relief in sight but also much danger in the darkness. Danger lay in the cold, the chance of falling or breaking a leg in an animal burrow or just tumbling down a gulley. Danger lay in the predators, of which the planet had a few. I had no choice but to walk on, for at the base of those hills lay water. My body only had so much to give.

I worked my mouth, trying to force the salivary glands to squirt out one last drop of precious liquid. Cracked lips shot barbs of pain into my consciousness. My mind was clear enough. It was surprising how strong my legs and hips turned out to be. I never would have thought it until I tried.

The irony, of course, was that I was just trying to be nice to the kid, who to be fair had really been trying to follow the rules of the household lately. Paxton, what a name, deserved some kind of reward, and it was best to show some parental love. Being a stepdad was surprisingly hard. Lending the kid the skeeter last night was one thing, forgetting to check the fuel before leaving the house this morning was my own fault.

It might well be the death of me. Hot wind kicked sand in my face, but I just narrowed my eyes and kept trudging. I had never really trudged in my entire life. Not until now.

The real irony lay in the fact that I was thinking of checking the emergency water bottles just the other day. I guess I’d known they were empty for quite a while, but we haven’t been going far from the house lately. The harvest is too important. The tractor needed a new fuel pump, and I took off for Aurora on too much of an impulse. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, as they say.

Mary and her kid.

It was unbelievable, not that I wouldn’t like to be back there right now. Last night, she said something about making a roast today. Yeah, I got sucked into the whole instant family thing—and it was going to get me killed. I’m too nice a guy for this. There was the sick wrench of fear in my guts. I’d had a few moments like that out here already.

I stopped at the top of the dune, looking down into the darkening trough between it and the next ridge. The wind had died and dead silence reigned.

One thing is certain—if I ever get out of here, I’m going to take that kid out behind the woodpile and just whale the crap out of him with a piece of kindling.

Teenagers. Argh.


Paxton and Tony were cruising along, enjoying the music and the freedom. Tony flew, showing off for Paxton. Tony was fifteen and a half, the junior of the pair.

He was just pulling up into a highly-unauthorized stall turn when Paxton grabbed his arm.

“There’s somebody out there!”

“Huh?” Tony didn’t believe it, it was probably just a shrub or a sand-doe or something.

“No, seriously. I saw him walking.”

Tony thought about it.

“There’s no way he can survive out here for long. Daytime temperature’s like forty, fifty degrees.” Paxton knew the dangers.

Tony looked back over his shoulder, and then at his friend.

“We’d better report it.” It was a deadly serious business to be alone out there.

All he had was a glimpse, an impression, and that’s when Tony started throwing her around.

“No.” Tony refused.

“What?” Paxton thought that was just nuts.

“I stole the skeeter.”


Then he got it. Tony’s dad was away in Aurora on some kind of business trip, and had taken his mom along for the weekend. Tony’s older brother had his own machine, and a girlfriend in nearby Bentpath. It was all so obvious.

“Turn around. We have to.”

It was better than making a report, which would be logged. It would be all over the airwaves. A rescue would be big news and gossip travels fast. Sooner or later word would get back. His thoughts were obvious enough.

Tony turned the skeeter around, looking at the recorded flight path. He put the amber caret on the blue dotted line and followed it back in the opposite direction.

They peered through the windshield, Tony looking for a bush or an animal to justify further disinterest.

Paxton’s arm stabbed out, pointing off to the right and down into a narrow trough between two of the wind-rippled dunes as a thread of sand blew off the top, momentarily obscuring the figure below.

“It’s a man.” Paxton turned to Tony.

Now Tony saw him too, and grimaced at the sight.

“Aw ...”

“We have to pick him up.” Holding his friends eyes, he shrugged. “We have no choice.”

“Shit.” Tony’s thoughts raced ahead through channels familiar and unfamiliar.

Maybe they could just drop the guy off somewhere and be back in time to clean the ship and zero the telltale flight logs.

“Damn.” Tony put the right wing up and circled around for another look.


Paxton handed me a can of sticky black fluid. The first drink of cold pop was a kind of religious experience. Sheer bliss. I couldn’t speak at all for a couple of minutes, just slumped there in the back seat. Tony was climbing out to cruising altitude when the radio crackled.

Tony stared at the unit and cursed in no uncertain terms.

Transfixed, he looked wildly at Paxton, and then made a quick and furtive glance over his shoulder at me.

“It’s his dad.” Paxton explained for my benefit. “He must have come home early.”

Neither one reached for it. The whole thing came to me in a flash.

“Heh-heh-heh.” The boy might be in a spot of trouble.

I sat there grinning, but then, my immediate troubles were over.

“Maybe I can help you gentlemen.” I beckoned for the microphone.

They looked at each other and then Tony looked fearfully back at me.


“Relax, I’ll take care of it.” Hell, I might even enjoy it.

It’s better than whaling away on someone who’s pretty much a grown man with a piece of kindling, isn’t it?

They looked at each other again, and then Tony nodded and Paxton sheepishly handed the thing over the back of the front seat.

“Hello, Mr. Williams. It’s Rick Jenkins.”

The airways crackled for a second and then he came back.

“Ah, Rick. Hi. How’s it going?” He was puzzled but polite, me being an honest man and everything.

“Yeah, say, listen, I borrowed your son and your skeeter. I hope you don’t mind, I’ll put fuel in it and everything. It’s just that you weren’t home but your son said it would be all right.”

“Oh. Oh, ah, sure, no problem. What’s up?” Anything to help a neighbour, right?

It was a cynical thought.

“Yeah, it’s just that my skeeter went down in the Sand Sea, ran out of gas basically, and, ah, I need to go into Bentpath to get some fuel. The tractor needs a fuel pump and I was headed for Aurora. Tony said you were out of town on a business trip ...” I let him hang a while on that.

“Oh. Okay.” It was the peak of harvest and he accepted the need calmly enough.

It wasn’t unheard of, in a land where people perpetually left their doors unlocked for the convenience of friends and neighbours. We weren’t that close, actually, as they lived twenty-five or thirty ks away.

“Your son’s a good pilot, incidentally. We’ll be back in three or four hours, if that’s okay.”

“Oh. Ah, sure, no problem.”

“All righty, then. And I owe you a quart of the good stuff.”

His son nodded mightily in agreement as Paxton grinned in the copilot’s seat.

“That sounds fine.” He wasn’t the talkative sort as I recalled, but neither am I.

Williams and I broke the connection as Tony brought her around to a new heading and we headed for Bentpath to get some fuel for my skeeter.

“Please let me know how much that quart costs, Mister Jenkins.” Tony eyed me in the rearview mirror.



“Two quarts, Tony.”

“Yes, sir. Two quarts it is.” Sidelong glances were exchanged up front.

The young men looked at each other again, convulsed in some kind of silent glee that I don’t pretend to understand, but I was alive, Paxton wasn’t such a bad kid in his own way and the little buggers had just saved my life. For a while, I thought I was going to die out there, and now it looked like I was going to be home in time for dinner. Such is life.

I was so proud of them boys. It kind of brought a tear to my eye, that and the thought of that quart, patiently waiting just over the southeastern horizon. END

Louis Shalako lives in southern Ontario and writes full time. His stories have appeared in “Bewildering Stories,” “Aurora Wolf,” “Algernon,” and “Perihelion.”



Repulsive Progression

By C.E. Gee

AROUND A SWEET SMILE, Gail announced, “Mr. Anderson, the reason I’m here today is that you are the highest ranking NASA employee at the Prescott Research Station with whom I could arrange a face-to-face meeting. And I must now urge you to stop today’s test flight.”

Gerald Anderson settled back into his chair, returning Gail’s smile. Gerald appraised his guest’s slender but well-proportioned form. “Well, Ms. Samuels,” Gerald purred, “You’ve certainly stirred my curiosity. What do you mean, we have to stop the test flight?”

“Please—call me Gail. It’s my theory the planet Mars is in actuality the inner core of what was once Mars. The iron oxides that compose much of the surface of Mars are what was once its outer liquid core. Since no known natural event could eject sizable amounts of the mantle or crust or liquid outer core of a planet out into space, what transformed Mars was artificially induced.”

Gerald made no reply. His smile disappeared. One eyebrow inched upward.

Gail rushed to elaborate. “As you know, the XMR-1’s lift system uses powerful magnetic fields generated by its super-cooled coils to repulse against the magnetic field of Earth.

“The rhythmic pulsing of the XMR-1’s lift coils during today’s scheduled test flight will cause sympathetic, harmonized oscillations within the molten iron of Earth’s outer core. Those oscillations will cause the outer core to fling the mantle or crust of Earth off into space as that liquid outer core surges upward. The surface of what remains will then cool off. Much of the liquid core that was ejected into space and was beneath the crust and mantle will fall back and solidify.

“Earth’s water, vaporized by this event, will eventually condense, raining down upon the new surface, creating iron oxides and also carving out surface features not unlike some of those on Mars.”

Open-mouthed, Gerald stared at Gail, his eyes mirroring his disbelief. And although Gerald made no immediate comment, Gail must have sensed a change in Gerald’s demeanor, for Gail now spoke much slower, with a decided emphasis: “Millions of years ago, perhaps even billions of years ago, Martians destroyed their planet by utilizing the same propulsion system we’re preparing to deploy today. You’ve got to believe that!”

Gail pleaded, “Look—you’re my last chance. The clock’s ticking. I’ve glossed over the details. I’m sure if I explain some of the finer points ... Please?”

Gerald glanced at his watch. “Okay. Okay, I’ll give you a few more minutes.”

Gail continued, “The asteroid belt—ever wonder where that originated? It’s portions of the original crust and mantel of Mars.

“And the theory that microbial life on Earth came here, delivered by meteorites from Mars? My theory explains all that and more.”

Gerald’s reply began with a smirk. He then said, “Interesting. Maybe we can discuss your theory in more detail. Perhaps over dinner this evening? I know this delightful Mexican restaurant downtown. The owner and I are old ...”

Gail’s back noticeably stiffened. She interrupted Gerald, snarling, “You just don’t get it, do you? If we don’t stop this test flight, there won’t be an evening.”

A ferocious scowl marring her otherwise pleasant features, voice trembling, Gail continued, “You’re not going to stop the test flight, are you?”

Gerald smirked a wry smirk as held out his hands, palms up, shrugging a gesture of helplessness.

“Honey, I’m just this region’s Press Relations Officer. I also double as this site’s Public Relations Officer. I don’t have the authority to stop the flight, even if I wanted to. And I don’t want to.

“In all my years at NASA, I’ve never heard a more ridiculous story. And believe me, working with the both the press and the public, you hear a lot of ridiculous stories.”


Kraugg looked down from her pedestal, sneering at the array of supplicants filling her grotto.

The present duty cycle had been unusually busy. Now that the problem of predicting the intensity of the magnetic field induced by the nearby mythological mother of planets had been solved, the test flight could occur. It seemed all of Europa’s swarms were interested.

Kraugg felt she was due for some relaxation. After the test flight, it was her turn in the secretarial pool; she knew exactly in which corner she was going to spawn. Her eyestalks quivered as she thought of the cute little male with the reddish tinge to his mantle.

One of supplicants took advantage of Kraugg’s daydreaming. Edging closer, tentacles splayed in the formal manner of a high-caste male, he summoned enough courage to make his plea. “Your Immenseness, may I solicit permission to speak?”

Diverted from her thoughts, Kraugg stared intently at the supplicant, noting he wore the austere, unadorned chains of an academician. “Speak now, and make it quick,” Kraugg snapped. “You can see how busy I am.”

The male dared to creep closer, pausing only when Kraugg, as a warning, unsheathed her imposing beak.

The supplicant then spoke. “I’ve formulated a theory. Have you ever wondered about the iron oxides found by the probes we’ve sent in to the third and fourth planets? And why it is that those two planets are very nearly the exact same size? And why is it we have two completely separate asteroid belts in this star system?” END

C.E. Gee is retired and maintains a blog entitled “Gardyloo.” His science fiction stories have appeared in “Bewildering Stories” and “Plasma Frequency.”



Escape Through Parallax

By Peter J. Carter


I didn’t actually see, just its reflection in the bubble of my escape pod. It was an amazing miasma of colors when the Thorsten field generators blew. I could only imagine the neutrinos speeding off at high thermal velocity as the cold dark matter disintegrated in a pitter patter of light. I didn’t see any other pods launch, but that was so long ago. Or maybe it was a minute ago. Time is entropic, I suppose.

Once the Parallax gas releases, sensory input slows; its cyan fog dulls even the sharpest pain, shuts down the digestive system and dampens the synaptic spark to a wet buzz. But perhaps it’s a good thing with her pressing so close. I can feel her occasional breath against my breast.

I can’t stop thinking about the puppy I had when I was young. His name was Charles. One day I came home from school and he was gone. We never spoke of him again. Is this what it’s like to be Charles?

Janelle and I were performing the larboard Jeffries tube inspection when I saw a flaming ball of hot plasma rolling from the forward nacelle. It was blue and yellow and rolled along like a drunken uncle burning and melting the deck.

I was standing in front of the emergency pod entrance holding a ’pad when I saw it and reached out to touch Janelle on the shoulder. It was funny, but I’d never noticed her around the ship much prior to that day. We’d stick to different parts of the ship, I imagine, and had never been assigned together for the routine inspections. She was a mousey midshipman second class whose hair was black to the point of being ebony and cut in severe angles, but she also had the type of smile that could disarm a madman in a minute or bring a tirade to a stop.

By the time I was able to grab her shoulder I saw the other one. Coming down the opposite passage was another plasma ball and whereas the one from forward was blue and yellow, the one from aft was red and angry. There was a major breech in containment.

We had a scant few seconds when she saw the first ball and I had already backed into the one man pod.

She smiled at me and moved to slap the close button. I knew that there was no way another pod would rotate from the rack in time, so I reached out and pulled her close. I palmed the close button and after the door proximity alarms squealed in protest, the door shut and launched us.

She had just enough time to say, “Thank you,” before the Parallax gas released. We shot forward from the ship, the rest of the crew’s fate unknown. I didn’t see any other pod release and wonder if anyone else got out in time.

That was quite some time ago.

I feel her nestled against my chest. I constantly try to make room for her, an extra indentation, a small pocket in my universe for her to exist.

I’d like to see if she’s alright, but we can’t talk. The Parallax gas is metered out by the computer based on height and weight and we are the equivalent of a 325 pound man. So, the gas comes out in a diluted form and leaves us paralyzed and semi-cognitive.

Looking out my window, I’ve seen the Corium gas cloud’s twisted purple tendrils holding solar systems apart. I’ve seen comets slash through space’s emptiness and suns wink out a Doppler “Hello.” My companion can’t see any of this. Her world is relegated to the poorly stitched patch on the left breast of my uniform.

As each eon passes, she has become a part of me. Not just in a metaphoric sense, but physically. We breathe with each other now and there is a spot within me, etched there by time, which only she can fit. Sometimes, I swear I hear her thinking now, but just faintly.

When it’s quiet for so long and you’re the only two humans within parsecs, maybe something happens. I don’t know and we are the only two gods in this universe.

I always imagined that someone else’s thoughts would sound like a squeaking board or a static squelch, but it’s beautiful. Like a million voices singing one note, like a blind person seeing the mountains. God, how I wish I could tell her what I see. Sometimes I feel her tears soaking through my shirt.

And so we float across the cosmos.

I remember the ship blowing up.

That was quite some time ago. END

Peter J. Carter lives on Cape Cod. His stories have appeared in “Mad Scientist Journal,” “Bewildering Stories,” “Ray Gun Revival,” and “Wild Child Press.”





biobarEditorial Solutions

Square Meals: The team of Cube Eaters has eaten twenty sugar cubes.

All Your Base: 5,797.531 in Base-1/10.

Code Breaking: When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any
but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all
have to do it. —Mark Twain

Pole to Pole: Think of dividing each half of the globe into thirds. From the planet’s North Pole to its South Pole is three thirds and from the
South Pole to the North Pole is three thirds.

Two airplanes start from the North Pole and at the 1/3 mark, one of the planes fuels the other and returns to the airport on the North Pole. The refueled plane continues on to the 2/3 mark. It has 2/3 of a full tank when it arrives at the 2/3 destination mark.

There are two airplanes now on the North Pole. They now leave simultaneously and fly to the 1/3 mark where one of the planes fuels the other and returns to the airport on the North Pole. The other plane continues on to
the 2/3 mark where it will fuel the plane already there. You now have two
planes at the 2/3 mark and each has 2/3 of a tank of fuel—but not for long.
One of the planes fills up the other with a full tank of fuel and this plane returns to the 1/3 mark, waiting to be fueled by the plane which will
leave the airport to refuel it—then they will both return to the airport. The plane at the 2/3 mark with the full tank then continues the global journey—rounds the South Pole and lands on the other side of the globe at the 1/3 mark.

Now, all that needs to be done is to have one of the two planes at the airport fly to the other 1/3 mark to refuel the “roundtripper” plane now there. After refueling, they both fly home to the airport and the mission is accomplished

Hovering: Five miles.