Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Remy’s Town
by Megan Neumann

by Andrew Hook

Her Robot Babies
by Brent Knowles

Beyond the Reach of Proof
by Seth W. Kennedy

Here Is a Fighter
by Eric Del Carlo

Invasive Species
by Kurt Heinrich Hyatt

Deciphering an ET Opening Screen
by Marilyn K. Martin

I Once Was Lost
by Edward Morris

by Melanie Rees

Respect of Headwaiters
by Tais Teng

Toy Soldier
by Leon Chan


A Case Against Saucers
by John McCormick

Atomic Light Bulbs
by Popular Mechanics




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips



Shorter Stories

Catching a Ride

By Julie Novakova

ADIRA SAT CROSS-LEGGED ON THE hard mat, her eyes closed. Under the apparently indifferent mask of her face, one just might see enough focus and determination to wonder whether her imagination was playing tricks with her or the tall, dark woman really had any expression at all.

She should not have, by any means.

Somewhere in a closed corner of her mind, there was supposed to be enough self-awareness left to make Adira Mina Zuberi scared, desperate, even driven mad at this stage—but not a bit more. The chains were supposed to be unbreakable.

The prison transport ship to Eris Correctional and Colony Building Facility was full of such people, thousands of them, though none of them by far as infamous as Zuberi. Most of them were just her blind followers—as would the victors state. She would undoubtedly say otherwise. However, she was not a victor of the war and as a result could say nothing at all, now.

At least until shortly after her body sensed a change in the vector of acceleration.

The self-aware corner of her mind noted it with a trace of satisfaction.

Seconds later, the chains finally broke.


Most of humanity did their best forgetting about the war. After all, why would they linger on such unfortunate past events if they could have fun instead in the present and future?

The Earth Communion had some ingenious methods for steering the attention of people to more harmless things, the most common of which were various implant software extensions. And the more scientifically minded were invariably excited by the approaching star.

EYE-76 was exceptional even in its own category. Numerous hypervelocity Sun-like stars originating from the Galaxy’s spiral arms had been discovered. However, EYE-76 was the only one to pass through the Solar System—and also one of the fastest with its velocity of two percent c. Which, to be honest, was lucky for humanity because its period of strong gravitational influence on the inner objects in the Solar System would be measured in mere hours. Still, it would inevitably leave much damage in its wake, disturb orbits, send comet showers to the planets, catch a Kuiper belt object or two ... But humans, scattered everywhere around the Solar System up to the orbit of Pluto, were prepared to endure the thousands of years of lasting bombardment and make the passing a great scientific event. After all, what else could they possibly do?

Countless telescopes were being pointed to EYE-76 and its system—apparently it had six planets, though none of them with any signs of life—for years. Dozens of probes were traveling to the area to watch the event closely, some of them caught by the gravity of the K-type star, to continue their observations after it left.

But no manned missions. It was the opinion of the Communion that trying to colonize a different star system this way would be suicidal.

Just a century ago, we’d try it, no matter how hard it was, Tisha Ward was thinking. In time, we managed to colonize even the most inhospitable places of our system; this wouldn’t be anywhere near suicidal.

But she could not do anything with it, though in her opinion the Communion was just scared of having people outside its influence. Anything could happen; they might even reject the compulsory implant software.

Just like she did some time ago.

The telescopes mounted on Tisha’s ship were not watching EYE-76 at the moment. They were looking roughly in the direction of Eris, where a minor point between her and the dwarf planet could be seen. It shone brightly in the infrared—it just changed its trajectory a little.

Her ship picked up a pencil beam transmission. Tisha smiled widely.

“Hello, mother,” she said to the face on the screen.

“Tisha ... Thank you.”

Adira Mina Zuberi had changed little since the war. But it had been the hardest years of Tisha’s life; the war was nothing compared to fleeing, hiding, changing her identity multiple times, all that while trying to figure out how to crack new Communion chains. However, her mother’s audacious backup plan for the instance of capture could not wait any more. Hundreds of people across the system were working to get hold of the improved keys, develop better deciphering algorithms. The war with actual weapons might be over; the cryptography war was just beginning.

“No need,” Tisha said somewhat hoarsely. “I’ve been a little late, you know. But if you accelerate to three g, you’ll make it. It won’t be comfortable ...”

Zuberi’s smile grew wider. “Oh, as if I’ve ever wanted comfortable! We will make it. Don’t worry. You can still come ...”

“No. I already decided I need to stay. Someone needs to continue fighting. And with you gone, I’m the most famous war criminal left.” Tisha forced herself into a laugh.

Her mother was calm as always. “Alright. Good luck, child.”

“Good luck to you, too.”

You’ll be needing it, Tisha thought. What you’re going to attempt is the boldest escape imaginable, catching a ride on a runaway star. You’ll escape not just the Communion and the Solar System, but ultimately even the Galaxy. But who knows what other systems you’ll encounter on the way. You’ve got thousands of healthy people and a great ship full of the best equipment meant for establishing a colony on the inhospitable Eris. You’ve got the best chances you possibly could under the circumstances.

She did not say goodbye. Good luck was just right. END

Julie Novakova writes from the Czech Republic. Her previous fiction has appeared in “Clarkesworld Magazine,” “Penny Dread Tales,” and many Czech magazines.



Timothy’s Offensive Life

By Michael Juby

TIMOTHY LOOKED THROUGH the glass at an alien boy making funny faces at him. This was actually the highlight of his day, exchanging funny looks with sentients who had no sense.

Timothy had lived in a zoological compound, alone, all his life. He had never met anyone like himself. He was pretty sure he was the last of his kind. Truthfully, he saw thousands of alien species walking by his jungle/savannah habitat but he could never really interact with them.

He had fun playing games through the glass with children. They did silly things and he loved playing along. In particular, he enjoyed waiting for the kids to lose interest and when they were too distracted to notice Timothy, he would sneak up and slam the glass so hard the terrified children would occasionally shit all over the place. That was Timothy’s absolute favourite activity.

The children were also his biggest annoyance too; they had this tendency to knock on the glass when he wasn’t paying attention. This would be fine except that they were constantly waking Timothy up from every nap he had ever taken. It angered him to know that every time he felt weary, he would wake up to someone slamming on the window.

Eventually he became extremely sour and tempermental until they installed a sign. Since then, it seemed only rude alien children woke him. This is probably why he enjoyed scaring them half to death.

Generally, he passed his time with naps, eating, naps, relieving himself, more naps, drinking, maybe climbing trees, a few more naps and watching the aliens. Even he wouldn’t have accused himself of leading a full life. He was clearly bored.

To help deal with the dullness, as well as the anger, the staff had left him a couple of old, flimsy books filled with dirty pictures. It was the single greatest thing he had ever seen, and then he saw the females! Females had since become a lifelong obsession for Timothy. Almost any alien that resembled a female drove him absolutely nuts to the point the staff would turn off all the lights in his exhibit. That wasn’t so bad; he could still see the female.

His only serious romance was with the janitor, however, who was obviously a male. Nonetheless, it was Timothy’s conclusion that this alien had the finest ass he had ever seen. What’s worse, Timothy suspected he was putting on a show every time he walked near the glass window. On top of that, no one turned out the lights when Timothy started up with this individual.

Despite all of this, Timothy was still quite obsessed with females. When he was twenty (Timothy had no idea he was twenty), the staff finally made Timothy’s dream come true.

At the back entrance to his terrarium, an almost hairless female entered, hesitantly. Timothy was quite taken by her. She was absoluletly the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

That was when she saw Timothy. She immediately began to run back to the entrance but some of the staff stopped her.

“You don’t understand!” She cried, “he’s a chimpanzee!”

“Enough of your Human racism,” the guard said firmly, “I don’t care where he’s from, it’s all this silly bigotry that made you Humans an endangered species.”

But ...” She screamed as the staff locked her in. END

Michael Juby is a new writer from North York, Ontario, Canada. This flash fiction is Juby's first professionally published story.




By Jason Lairamore

IT ALWAYS SEEMED TO RAIN, EVERY night, even though I knew it really hadn’t. Maybe it was just the way the old, yellow alley lights warbled with nervous electricity, the way those old halogens hummed. If I combined that with the wet gleam of everybody’s sweat and the slippery smacks of the fighters and the thunderous roar of the crowd, then I guess it made sense. Maybe that was why I dreamt of rain every night.

The problem, though, was that I’d never really seen water fall from the sky. Rain was something Great Grandpa used to tell me about before his time had ended.

“Mom, can I watch the fights tonight?” Mom always let me go. It was only a question of how late.

“Just the first hour tonight, Sammy boy. You have lessons to do as well as training. Long days now with school on. You’ve a lot to learn.”

“Thanks Mom.” I’d only get to see some of the minor fights, but that was okay. Michael was sure to fight. He was on his way up.

We lived right above the fighting pit, one of the closest to the action, a real honor. Grandpa had won the family the apartment back in his day and Dad had managed to keep it, just barely.


The sunlight kicked off. The old halogens kicked on. I walked down the spiral stair from our apartment to the topmost row of the stadium. The place had already started to fill with people getting off work. I ran down the narrow aisle to get to my favorite seat.

We all lived together, all of us, in one big place Teacher called it “Acropolis 5.” She said the fancy word meant, “a self contained building.” She said since it was self-contained we could never go outside, said we had to make the best of it as we had it. She said it was all poison and nuclear winter out there, so we wouldn’t want to go outside anyway.

So I couldn’t go, “Outside,” whatever that meant. I’d puzzled on it and asked questions along with the other students for an entire day before finally deciding it didn’t matter. Grandpa had taught me once, before he’d reached his year and died, he’d said, “Sammy boy, a man can only deal with something he can control. If you got no say-so in it then don’t give any of yourself to it. We haven’t the time.”

I’d never forgotten that.

I sat in my seat, end of the front row, where I could watch the fighters come in. Michael and another fighter, someone I recognized but didn’t know, came strutting down the open aisle toward the marked metal circle. The halogens cast harsh shadows across their sweaty skin. The crowd sounded like the low rumble of thunder on the horizon, a heralding of the storm to come.

The announcer went on and on about the night’s programming, about the stakes, about Michael and his opponent’s status and the accrued points and all that. I didn’t pay much attention because it didn’t matter. I couldn’t control it. Plus, it wasn’t my time to care. I was still too young.

I knew the basic rules though. Everybody worked during the day. You had a name. You had a job. You made money. You ate and slept, repeat. But that wasn’t the important part. Everybody was equal during the day. The jobs were all the same in terms of pay and whatnot. At night though, at night the fighters came out to challenge. At night your name was different. It had meaning. It held status. That’s where a man could build respect.

The fights were something to control.


Michael won his fight. His face was beaten and bloody. The crowd screamed like a heavy downpour of rain.

After, in our tiny training room with the smell of blood, sweat, and mildew filling my nose, I stood and ran a wrapped hand up and down our heavy bag while Dad prepared for my night’s training.

“Dad,” I said.

“Son,” he replied.

“I know what I want my fighter name to be.”

He stopped what he was doing and stared at me, eyebrows raised. A fighter took his name seriously. It meant something.

“Rainmaker,” I said.

He knit brows at me. “Why that?”

“Because I’m going to bring the rain,” I said, thinking of the crowd.

He smiled. “Do that, son. You do just that.” END

Jason Lairamore has had stories in over 25 publications, including “Stupefying Stories,” “Third Flatiron” publications, and “Postscripts to Darkness.”



Musicians End the World

By Gerald Warfield

I’D BEEN ON THE L.A. POLICE FORCE six months to the day when our monitor picked up residue from a concussion wave. Back then, c-waves were fired from shoulder mounted amp cannons, and the blast signatures lit up monitors for a hundred kilometers, so we were on them pretty quick.

“Hold on, Marge.” My partner, Stu, reached back for the Flypack. “You got the last one.”

I could fly circles around him, but he was right. I shrugged and he jumped out leaving me to bring the scooter. First report came in before I was halfway there: hysterical woman crying her son had gone hissy and was shooting up the neighborhood.

“Got a visual,” Stu cut in. “Musta dropped his cannon. He’s retreating to ...” the coordinates followed.

I was impressed he’d gotten there so fast. I was less impressed a minute later when I found his body. The CL took me straight to him: face up on a flight pad, his chest caved in.

“God Damn it!” I flipped the e-call, leapt off the scooter and snatched up the med kit. Ripping it open I pulled out the freezer shroud. My hands shook as I slipped it over his head, never used one of those things except in simulations. His face looked fine, like he was sleeping. I snapped the safety and it frosted over instantly. “Stay with me, Stu,” I said, gripping his shoulder. Best scenario, six months regrowing his vitals. Worst, my fiancé Mario lost a brother and, incidentally, best man at our wedding.

“He didn’t mean to.” A woman peeked from behind an elevated bed of nasturtiums. Her oversized head and spindly limbs indicated a mental.

I scooted close and released the shield on her side so we could talk. “What’s the make on the cannon?” I could calibrate my shield for it.

“He hasn’t got anything,” she said. “He was just rehearsing.”

Yeah, right. “He didn’t punch out my partner without a fucking cannon. What’s he got?”

“I don’t know.” She wrung her hands. “He’s just a musician. I think he took a little too much star dust ...”

The prodigy’s life story was interrupted by a blast that rocked my shield so hard it bowled me over sideways. Good thing I had moved closer to mommy or she’d been splattered all over the wall. As it was, she was just splattered with nasturtiums.

But she was right; he didn’t have a cannon. The kid hightailed it back into what looked like a hanger.

“What’s your situation,” snapped my com.

“Stu’s down, in a freeze lock. Send a pod fast. Concussion in his chest. Got a berserker. Don’t see a cannon. I’m shielding his mother.”

“Can you contain him till we get there?”

“I think so. I’ll try to gas him.”

About then, the guy bursts out the door screaming. Tall, ragged-looking with stringy black hair, he didn’t have a cannon, but I knuckled down by instinct. The impact didn’t knock me over this time. He was still coming for me, but when he spotted Stu he let out a shriek and gestured with one hand, his fingers wide. Stu’s body skudded across the launchpad spinning. Please God, he didn’t hit him in the head.

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. No cannon. He just gestured like he was some kinda wizard or something.

While he was distracted with Stu, I got off a gas pellet. When the thing popped, the kid looked up, all wild like, and raised a hand. I knew I was in for it. Stupid, because I had my shield up, but I was right to worry. The shock knocked me clean back on my ass.

The gas got him at that point, and he fell forward onto the concrete.

“Ludwig!” Mommy rushed out from the nasturtiums and scooped up the bugger who was bleeding from his nose. I didn’t bother to warn her, and then she reeled and crashed on top of him. Probably enjoyed the gas.

I scrambled over to Stu. His head had imploded in the freeze bag. He wouldn’t be regrowing any vitals—and he wouldn’t be Mario’s best man.

Security would have censored the thing, but a fly cam got to the scene about the time I did. The first incontrovertible evidence of concussive wave generation was right there for everybody to see. The cam also caught me kicking Ludwig in the ribs. That’s what got me bumped off the force. Funny thing, I coulda saved the world right then—if I’d have just killed the bastard.

My perp was the first to make the leap directly from brain waves to concussion waves—all it took was a bass amp converter, no cannon necessary. “All you’re doing is amplifying your own song,” he’s supposed to have said. Eventually, he taught his fellow inmates, who turned out to be better at it than he was. San Quentin didn’t survive their first jam session.

My little cabin in the woods is still standing, partly because it’s wedged deep in a gorge. Bad for when it rains, but good for when the c-waves come bouncing over the hills. All the trees up on the ridge are flattened.

That cabin was to have been our survivalist retreat, but Mario got caught three months ago when that band from Northridge flattened Pasadena. He was never reported dead. They don’t check bodies for ID any more.

I remember reading about when they invented old-fashioned guns and gunpowder. People thought a weapon that powerful—when anybody could just shoot anybody else—would be the end of the world. Well, when people can just think a weapon of mass destruction, it’s only a matter of time. Whenever the muses settle down out there, I wonder if there’ll be anything left at all. END

Gerald Warfield is a member of the SFWA. His stories have appeared in “Every Day Fiction,” “NewMyths,” and “Abandoned Towers.”




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