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



Return of the Mayflower

By Gerald Warfield

To: Col. Mark Stanford, Chief Protocol Officer, Colony Division

Re: Generation Ship Mayflower annual state-of-the-mission report
Barbara Stanley, Chief Protocol Officer, GS Mayflower

Hi Mark,

Well, here it is, the dreaded Annual Report. It’s a little short this year, so I thought I might slip in a personal message, now that security hasn’t got its gnarled fingers around our throats.

Those vids you managed to get through of Kighi were great. My how she’s grown. And is that a bit of gray I see in those handsome temples of yours? You know, sometimes at night I put up the wallpaper of that apartment we shared in Houston. I dim the overhead and it’s almost like being there again. Makes me wonder if I should have turned you down all those years ago.

Odd that I’m the one talking about “all those years ago.” It’s been longer for you. Hey, did you realize you passed me last month? You never did like me being older, and now—well, I guess it doesn’t matter. That little apartment was a lifetime ago for us both.

I know you’re wondering, so I might as well tell you, no, things haven’t worked out for me up here. Funny, I still think of us as being “up” here. Even tried to make a go of it with a woman like you suggested. I don’t know; personal relationships are difficult on the Mayflower. It’s not a very romantic setting.

Oh, well, je ne regrette rien.

If you get a chance, push the education sections of the report to the right people. Those “developmental” problems they mentioned last time aren’t going away. I’m just glad I opted not to have a child here. I’ve tried to help, teach a class or two, but the things they come up with! One little girl wanted to know why Earth sent us away. Whoever put such an idea in her head? And some of the kids are playing with laser blades. We’ve had to reattach a bunch of fingers and one penis. These kids aren’t like we were on Earth. Any help from the behavioral guys at HQ would be great. Captain Simington sends her best.



Mayflower Date: Jan. 1 2076 / Earth Date: March 17, 2085
To: Mark Stanford, Chief Protocol Officer


The Annual Report doesn’t have anything in it you haven’t heard already. And I can understand why news from the Mayflower isn’t exactly high priority. You’ve got your own problems. Those motivational vids were great. They inspired me. Unfortunately, they didn’t go over very well with the kids. Somehow we’ve messed up their A-level developmental. Maybe they’ll straighten out after puberty. (Fat chance!)

By the way, your mustache looks great. And glad to hear about Kighi in Princeton. Wish kids were motivated here. Their attitude seems to be catching; some of our younger crew are displaying “Earth Rejection Syndrome” as we’re calling it. Even Earth time isn’t used any more. Schedules are haywire. You never know when somebody’s sleeping, working or what.

Anyway, just between you and me, things aren’t going well. You’ll find some of the reports kind of sketchy. Hard to get anyone to write the things these days. Just surviving has gotten tedious. Hell, food’s worse, and there’s some pretty virulent funguses going around (remember the one you used to get—but a hundred times worse). Doctors can’t do anything. They said the molds have morphed.

Christmas was crap this year. I always hated the commercialism, but now ... now I’d give anything to go out and buy some presents. Not just presents, something new. But there never will be anything new, not here, not in my lifetime. Frankly, I spent Christmas Day thinking about you—well, the time we had together in Houston. Oh Mark, tell me how things are going for you, what it’s like to be alive on Earth. No one reads our coms. I need to hear from you so I can pretend that I’m alive, too.

Sorry, I’m getting emotional. I know you don’t like that—and I wouldn’t do it if the situation weren’t so God-awful. But I’ll get by. Trying to think positive.



Mayflower Date: Jan. 1, 2077 / Earth Date: Oct. 20, 2096
To: Mark Stanford

Oh, Mark,

Congratulations on your retirement! I’ll sure miss the occasional chat with you even though (ahem) you’ve been kind of remote, lately. I guess I can’t blame you; you have a rich life there. Deering sounds like a wonderful woman, and I don’t mean to intrude. Heck, maybe it’s just the difference in our ages. It’s been only sixteen years, for me.

Finally, it’s sunk in how far away Earth is. In the back of my mind I always thought that I could somehow come back if I wanted to. But now, it’s like an old friend has died—or perhaps it’s me who’s dead and just don’t know it yet. Venting to you has kind of kept me sane.

Wish retirement were an option for me. I hate to admit it, but if I could get out of this gig I’d do it in a heartbeat. Somehow there’s no spirit left. Of course, it was a blow losing Captain Simington. Everybody’s trying to get used to Captain Shivehok, but frankly, I don’t think he understands the crew the way she did.

Don’t bother with the next-generation motivational vids. Nobody watches them. All anyone wants are soaps and movies. I know it strains the com link, but that’s what people watch. Tell your successor, whoever it is, to send ’em when they can get enough bandwidth. It’s one way we have of controlling the kids.

Listen, Mark. I’ve got a favor to ask of you, a really big favor. I know we agreed not to tell Kighi who her real mother was, but I’ve changed my mind. You see, all the hope has gone out of me. I don’t care about anything in this tin can any more. All I have is Kighi. Nothing seems real to me except that tiny body I held for only a day on that little blue planet I left behind. Oh Mark, this is so important to me. Please tell her, and tell her that her mother loves her. I beg you.

Love, Barbara


Mayflower Date: Jan. 26, 2078 / Earth Date: Feb. 4, 2109
To: Franklin Slipperworth

Hi Franklin,

Thank you for the news about Mark. He never did have a strong heart. Please convey my condolences to his family, especially his daughter, Kighi. By the way, did she happen to say anything about me, send a message or something? Just wondering. No big deal.

When I heard the news I took a day off and stayed in my room, put up some wallpaper of old Houston, the garage apartment near Hermann Park that he and I shared, and just remembered. It made me so sad. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy again. There doesn’t seem to be room for happiness aboard the Mayflower. Perhaps that commodity takes more space than we have here, or perhaps we just forgot to pack it when we left. Do you happen to know Hermann Park over by SMU? Or I guess it’s SHU, now. Just wondered if the big trees were still there.

Anyway, there isn’t any annual report. Don’t guess it matters. I agree with the decision to blackout news from the ship. What’s the point in rubbing our troubles in everyone’s noses down there? The Blue Star gang I was telling you about now controls most of the aft including health services. Leather Tong has the agri sector and recycling. The “old guard,” as we’re called, still maintain the bridge and central computer. Ostensibly, we’re in control, but several other command computers have been jury-rigged on other partitions of the ship. I finally had to abandon my apartment and move into a storage facility closer to the bridge.

A week ago, the inevitable happened. Kim, in Security, shot and killed one of the Leather Tong. She claimed it was an accident. Shivehok took her into custody, but it did no good. Both gangs went on a rampage. Two bombs, and toxic fumes in the ventilation system. We had to go on emergency air for eighteen hours before we got it filtered out.

Yesterday, I was part of this bizarre meeting with the Blue Stars, trying to negotiate how many guinea steaks and algae chips we could get for a mol-circuit. Can you believe it? Bartering! Sounds like the Middle Ages or something. Worse, news is that we’ve lost our cryogenics. What will the future generation do when we reach Gliese? All our ties to Earth are falling away, and now it seems like we’re just drifting in the void.



Mayflower Date: Nov. 4, 2079 / Earth Date: Jan. 16, 2126

Hello, Franklin, I hope somebody’s there. I can’t sleep, thought I’d slip up here to the com center and just talk to somebody. I’m really frightened. There’ve been some bad fights. The Tongs have come up with this bizarre weapon, the “blender ball.” It’s about the size of a baseball and it bounces when they turn it loose and keeps on bouncing. Shreds everything in a room in half a minute or so, leaving a kind of pink mush. You would never know there were people there. The bodies can’t even be—reclaimed. Thirty or forty people killed in this last outbreak. There’s a big debate, now, as to whether we should shut down parts of life support while we still can, but Captain Shivehok won’t permit it. He says it would be murder. It doesn’t help that his son is the leader of the Stars. But if Shivehok doesn’t take action soon we could lose control of the ship.

Yesterday, somebody on the com deck piped in that old hymn “Nearer My God to Thee” to the whole ship. I don’t believe in God, but it made me cry. Can’t say that we’re any nearer to God up here, but I’m told some of the gang members believe in Him. I hope so. I’m willing to pray to anything to end this madness.


Mayflower Date: Nov. 30, 2080 / Earth Date: Jan. 21, 2135

Hello Fucking Houston:

Well, there have been sum changes around here. The Blue Stars are runing things now. Were on to your schemes. Weve known about them for a long time. RATS IN SPACE you call us. Well the rats have turned. We know you’re experimenting on us. But guess what, were turning this thing around and were gonna cram it down your throat! Yes, turn it around. Bet you never spected that. I hope you see us in your nightmares you bastards. How does it feel walking around in wide open spaces and swimming in the ocean while we live in torment with funguses taking off limbs, our own shit to eat, and god awful boredom? We’re eating our dead now. Woops, the nice word is recycle, isn’t it? Well we’re going to make you sorry, very sorry you did this to us. Your lab rats are coming back to bite you. Don’t think your silence will save you. We know your there. We know you hear us.


Mayflower Date: March 16, 2081 /Earth Date: unavailable

Fuck You Houston:

Thought I’d let you know the last of your lackeys are gone—just in case you were hoping they would take over the ship again. We gave them plenty of chances, but they kept on fighting, never gave up, never showed us any respect—so we sent them on ahead. That’s right. We ejected them into space. Now we’re turning the ship around ourselves.

By the way, that one named Barbara who used to talk to you? She kept crying about someone who lives in Houston. She musta clung to the airlock door for a whole minet after everyone else had been sucked out. They oughta get to their precious Gliese in a couple a more generations. Maybe that DNA they ranted about will seed the bastard planet. More likely pollute it.


Mayflower Date : unavailable / Earth Date: unavailable


I’ve grown tired of shaking my fist at you. Turning this thing around is taking far too long. Maybe we shouldn’t have ejected the oldies so fast. I didn’t want to terminate them. If they had just shown me some respect, but they never gave in.

Still, we’re succeeding, but it’s clear to me that we won’t be alive by the time this coffin reaches earths solar system. Make no mistake, though, our children will, and they will be ready for your treachery. You know, not answering us isn’t a good idea. It just makes us madder than hell. We know you’re there and you’re listening. Anyway, you will grant all our survivors property, money, and a place to live on earth as stated in the agreement I sent you, prime real estate as you say. You will grant them all pardons for whatever crimes you can think up—although they didn’t do anything. It was us, and all we did was save ourselves from your sadistic experiments. We had cause, damned good cause, and for that you owe us. You owe us big time. I want that clear. We’ve got enough nuc cells up here to make some big waves if we decide to impact. And our kids won’t hesitate to do it. Be warned.


Mayflower Date: unavailable / Earth Date: unavailable

Hi Mr. Houston—Mommy and daddy aint here no more but they sed we could talk to you when we got big although I dont really no how to work the shiny screen very good—We hope you arent mad at us any more and you will talk to us because we want to come home—Mommy said to tell you that we are human beans and that we want to be people just like you are—We so love the pretty pictures that are in the puter—We cant wait to see the big mountains and the trees —We also have fun dressing up like you—If you have a chance could you please send us some more vids—We like the funny ones the best—Puter says that we are getting close—Also could you send somebody out to meet us—We dont know how to slow down and we want to be able to get off when we see the Earth—I guess thats all, but we just wanted to tell you that everbody here is really really sorry for what happened and we wont ever ever do it again—Can we please please just come home— END

Gerald Warfield is a member of the SFWA. His short story, “The Poly Islands,” won second prize in the 2011 Writers of the Future contest. His stories have appeared in many magazines including “New Myths,” “Morpheus Tales” and “Sanitarium.”


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