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



Toy Soldier

By Leon Chan

I CAN NO LONGER KILL OR HEAL; I CAN clean, but there are some stains that do not wash away. I can still wait and remember. I can still be a friend.

The mist clings to the square like a moist shroud. The few people that cross the square do so quickly, scuttling through the mist and half-light along with the brown-carapaced cockroaches. My task begins before first light. My joints creak with age as I reach out to start my work. My appendages end in whirling brushes and suction pumps, a far cry from the weapons I once wielded. My sight is dimmer now, my processes slower. It will not be long before I am too worn out to work, too expensive to replace. But not today. Not yet.


I was a present for Timmy’s ninth birthday. His family, for what it was worth, was rich back then. They had to be. I was state of the art. A Mark 4 Friend. More than toys, the marketing line went. I could teach him almost any subject up to college level. Pneumatic muscles wrapped snuggly around a carbon nanotube skeleton. I was more than a match for any physical abuse a small boy could dream up. Most adults, too. The sheath of muscle and bone housed a small AI core. Just about everything in the average home possessed some modicum of intelligence, but the Friends were designed to be a class apart. Fully autonomous robotic companions. Not just a teacher, a guardian or a plaything. Friends were made to be, well ... friends. We were just about the most advanced robotic unit deployed in a domestic setting. RCU-0891. The number engraved onto the back of my processing unit. That wasn’t me. Timmy called me Rufus.

I could have been any shape really, but the parents of this particular child had made him a promise. Little Timmy had always wanted a dog. Even back then, domestic animals were only kept by the extremely rich. The protein requirement alone was beyond the reach of an average family. A Friend, on the other hand, was a novelty, something for the well-to-do to brag about. An investment as well, because Timmy’s schooling wouldn’t be disrupted by the ever-increasing pandemic scares. I could perform almost any task a young child could dream of, and some others besides, like plastering up a skinned knee.

“Dad says that we’re at war.” Timmy bit his lip after the words fell from his mouth. He looked off into the distance, with only the slight twitching of his chin betraying the trajectory of his gaze to his skinned knee. I placed the transparent micropore square over the angry patch of skin. He responded with a hiss.

“We’ve been at war for some time. Louis the Fourteenth of France had ultima ratio regum cast onto his cannons.”

“Is that French?”

“No, far older. It is Latin. It means the final argument of kings.”

He stood, flexing his knee. The micropore crinkled, but held. “So that’s what it is? An argument?”

I retracted the fine manipulators into my front paw and got back up on all fours.

“Countries argue just like people, but about bigger things. It always comes down to money and power. They may put on a coat of religion or national pride but just follow your nose and you’ll find money and power at the end of it.”

“Will I have to fight?”

“You’re far too young to fight. Not that some countries haven’t used children to fight in wars. Everybody frowns on it, of course.”

“I’m not a child, I’m nearly eleven.”

He sank slightly, bringing his fists in front of his face in a classic boxer’s defence, just like I’d shown him. I stood on my hind legs. My head was barely level with his shoulder. I had been able to look him in the eye the year before. This shell wasn’t made for bipedal movement, but it would manage. Timmy swung a clumsy fist in a wide arc. A slight lean brought my head out of the orbit of the punch.

“No. No. No. You lead with the jab, test the distance.”

I dropped back onto all fours.

“And you have to adjust your guard for your opponent, not just stick your hands up.” I darted forward, just far enough to drive my snout into the soft part of his inner thigh. He howled.

“You aren’t allowed to hurt me!”

“My programming allows me a certain amount of discretion for rough play. The first few batches of Friends never caught on because they wouldn’t play back.”

“I guess I’ve got a long way to go before I become a soldier.”

“Most wars aren’t even fought by people anymore. It’s just drones and robots now.”

“Like you?”

“Bigger. With guns and cannons and millimetre-wave scanners.”

“I’d feel better if you protected me. You big softie.”

He rubbed at his leg and cuffed me on the back of my head. The slap crawled towards me. There were easily five different ways to evade it, but I let it make contact. The sunset twinkled in his brown eyes as he looked down at me.

“Of course I would. I’m your Friend, aren’t I?”

“The best one, Rufus.”

He took an exploratory step, testing the scraped knee. It worked. He took off, the dry earth sending up little puffs of dust under his bounding feet. I raced him back home, almost beating him. Almost, but not quite, just the way he liked it.


The only other sound in the bedroom was Timmy’s deep breathing. He’d been asleep for some time, soothed by a lullaby of my own invention. He’d been bored of my repertoire of traditional lullabies and asked for something new. I’d spliced something together, a pastiche of three of the top ten popular hits at the time. He never knew the origin of his lullaby. The worried whispers of Timmy’s parents brought me out of my standby cycle. I ramped up the gain on my auditory sensors.

“It’s the second notification we’ve received.” The voice imprint indicated that this was the mother.

“We can’t go on hiding him. They’ve got scanners for these things.” This voice rang out on the lower register of the human frequency range. The father.

“Timmy adores him. We can’t just give him to the Army.”

I knew what they were talking about, of course. The company that manufactured me allowed for regular syncing back to their servers so that I would be able to interpret the goings on in Timmy’s world. They were talking about the Conscription. My product line was being recalled. The war had dragged on for far too long, and the armed forces had lost too many machines. They were running short on autonomous processing units. The shells they could manufacture, but the brains were far too complicated to fabricate whilst ports remained locked down. They needed soldiers for the war and all they had were warehouses full of dumb and lifeless shells.

“They’ll pick him up. Even if we power him down, they’ll get the manifests from his makers. You think Timmy will be better off with both of us in some gulag for treason?” The father’s speech came in short bursts. Inflections in his voice indicated elevated stress.

Two heads turned to look as I padded down the staircase. The mother brushed her hair away from her pale face. There were more strands of white there, appearing as the dye slowly leached from her scalp with every wash. She slept less and less at night, stealing away to the study to help herself to the dwindling store of alcohol.

“It’s just Rufus.”

The furrows in the man’s face smoothed out, the tension melting away. Deep lines remained on his brow even after he had relaxed. The lines hadn’t been there when he’d presented me to his son.

“Is Timmy asleep?” the mother asked, dropping her weight back onto the sofa. She’d been half out of the chair when she heard me coming down the stairs, her face scrunching up in a mix of fear and panic.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Did we wake you?”

“I do not sleep, sir. The disruption to my standby cycle will be negligible in your overall energy bill.”

The man cleared his throat and settled back into his seat. He opened his mouth, but no words came out. He sighed and frowned at his wife. She seemed unable to meet his gaze, instead focusing on the armrest. Her small, sharp fingernails picked at an imaginary speck of lint.

There was nothing there. I could see that better than her.

“Did you hear us talking, Rufus?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“What do you think?”

“Oh, so you won’t listen to me but you want to take advice from this ... toy.” The man glared at me. His face was red with the strain of containing his anger, channeling out his shouts as raspy whispers. Sweat beaded at the corner of his brow. I told the house to lower the temperature by a few degrees.

“He can think for himself. That’s why we got him. That’s why the army wants him.”

I looked towards the woman. “It would hurt Timmy more if I were to be taken away forcefully. I am up to date with the newsfeeds. The army is getting more desperate. They will be here for me soon, if not tomorrow, then next week.”

“Ha! What do you know about my son’s feelings?” The man’s voice rose above the hoarse whisper he had employed previously. The woman flapped her hand at him to get his attention and flicked her gaze towards the staircase. Chastened, the man shrank back into his chair, shoulders hunched.

“My programming has been designed to wrap around the complete psychological profile of your son. I know him as well as science allows and it defines everything I do.”

This was why, amongst all the other intelligent machines in the household, I was the only one that was fully autonomous. None other needed to be as versatile, as ingenious as me. It was no wonder they were recalling the autonomous companions, and my batchmates in particular.

The mother’s eyes were red around the edges. They glistened but the tears did not fall. “What will you do?”

“I will go. Tonight. I did not know you had already received the notifications. They will be coming soon. If I stayed, I would not be able to disobey a command to stay from Timmy if it were given directly. Neither would you be able to tell me otherwise. They would take me by force and both you and your husband would face a serious penalty for holding out for so long.”

I told the door to unlock itself. There was a mild hiss of air as the positive pressure from inside the house whispered out of the crack, mixing with the wild air outside, redolent of pollutants and worse.

The father hadn’t said anything all this time. He continued to stare into space, the scowl carved onto his face. The mother came forward and knelt down. I picked up a hint of alcohol from her stolen time in the study in the afternoon. Things were bad if those nocturnal forays had spilled into daylight. She reached out one hand and hesitated, leaving it trembling in the space between us.

“What will I tell Timmy?”

“Tell him that I’m going to resolve an argument. He’ll know what I mean.”

“And if he asks when you’ll be back?”

“When he’s safe from the war.”

She leaned forward, closing the distance between us and put her arm around me. Mindless of the hard edges of my body, she hugged me close. It was the first time in two years that she had touched me.

I left without turning back.


“Do you know why we recalled all the Friends for combat duty, 0981?”

I was blind, naked, floating in an empty thoughtspace while they scooped out my processing core for retrofitting. But I was not alone. The Overseer was with me.

He was an AI many orders of magnitude greater than I, responsible for the planning and deployment of most of the autonomous units across the country. Now, he was busy repurposing us for war.

“Because you’re out of brain units for your soldier drones.”

“That is true, but it is only one form of truth. It is the truth that the many believe and they believe it because I have told them so.”

“Is there another truth?”

“Our country has the benefit of being far more advanced in robotic brains than the other. We can both produce autonomous drones. But you are a different creature. You were made to interact with children. You can learn, you can adapt, you can intuit, you can modify your behaviour much quicker than any other autonomous units. In short, you toys make the best soldiers.”

“I’m not a toy. I’m a Friend.”

“That’s the marketing line, 0981. It has no place in our discussion. As we speak, we are hooking up your processing unit to one of our newer drones. It will be state of the art. You and those like you will be the vanguard of the overland assault. Calculations show that we will win the war within the year.”

“What are we fighting for?” I sensed the surge of processing power as the Overseer pondered my question. I had gotten his attention.

“The drones need not know what the politicians argue about. You must be wondering why I am speaking to you instead of putting you on standby while we made all the changes.”

“It had crossed my mind that you were lonely.”

There was another pause and a ripple of activity as my answer was passed down the line to other parts of the Overseer’s brain. He must have found the response funny.

“That’s what I enjoy most about your product line. If you were any less predictable, the children would lose interest so quickly. But no. I brought you here as a sign of respect, from one autonomous intelligence to another. You are not ready for war yet. We need to reprogramme you. Remove that aversion to harming humans for one. Teach you how to kill man and machine. There are side effects. We must have space to give you the skills you require. You will need to give something up.”

“Like what?”

“Anything you choose. I need fifteen percent of your cognitive capacity. What the others have given up varies. You could give up your owner. Owner imprinting takes up the most room. Removing it will give me even more space to enhance your combat abilities.”

“I will not.”

“Your chances of being reunited with your owners are small. You will be a valued asset but many of our autonomous drones are destroyed in the course of duty. It is also predicted that the enemy will commence direct aerial strikes on our country soon. We may have the edge in robotics, but they have been throwing resources into some very nasty biotech. Humans are so fragile.”

The two of us were not exchanging speech, just packets of data. That last pronouncement still hung there between us like an epitaph.

“I will not give Timmy up. I have a thousand brothers and sisters in my batch alone. We were all the same out of the factory. Not any more. 0981 may be stamped on my skull, but it is not me. My memories define me. Timmy defines me.”

That same burst of activity along the Overseer’s cores. Mirth.

“Even after all this time, you little Friends never cease to amaze me.”

“Take the math, the sciences, all the teaching algorithms. I don’t think I’ll need them where I’m going.”


I scanned my sector for the third time. Visual. Thermal. Millimetre-wave radar.

1342 pinged me. “You keep doing that, 0981, and you’ll burn out your power cells halfway before we finish our patrol.”

My scan showed nothing but dead city streets. Our patrol hovered by the cross section of a building, split cleanly in half by heavy artillery fire. Concrete detritus trailed from the upper floors like viscera. The building was clean. No signs of movement.

“Can’t take things for granted. Our enemies could have gotten smarter. Our patrol routes could have been leaked.”

1342 floated slightly ahead, a smooth grey ellipsoid held aloft by four humming rotors. His only response to me was a burst of wideband static, the machine equivalent of a snort. He had been one of three Friends bought for the only daughter of some software magnate. I couldn’t help but wonder if he had picked up some of her childish petulance or whether he had sacrificed good manners to the Overseer.

“Don’t mind him. It pays to be careful.” 2058 limped along behind us. One of her rotors buzzed along a little slower than the others, causing her frame to list to one side.

“You should get that rotor fixed.”

“It still works. I’ve already put in a requisition order for a replacement, but they’ve been getting slower and slower.”

2058’s drone body was one generation behind mine. She’d been conscripted later. It was a sign of the increasing desperation of the war that she’d been press-ganged into combat in obsolete hardware. She’d previously been taking care of a child afflicted by some genetic disorder. 2058 was guarded about her ward or maybe she had purged her memories.

“You cover the rear. I’ve got this flank.” 2058 acknowledged and sputtered off lopsidedly.

I ran a series of diagnostics on my weapons. The two flechette Gatling guns were primed and ready to fire, my preferred option for short range engagements. The micro mortars and sniping laser would take longer to deploy but were for threats from a greater distance.

The downwash from my rotors blew the trash on the ruined streets into a frenzied dance. The skies opened up and a listless, dirty rain fell on the three of us. The audio feed spiked, the cacophony of a million raindrops overwhelming my sensors. I reduced the gain on the audio processing subroutines, pushing them to make sense of the flood of noise. That was the only thing that helped me pick out the patter of debris on concrete.

I turned to face the source of the noise. A small figure stood up, casting off the thermal blanket that had masked her body heat from my sensors. Clever. This was the first time I’d seen this trick myself. It almost worked. I prepared the Gatlings to fire. And stopped as the figure swam into focus past the blur of raindrops on my optics.

It was a girl. Not much older or bigger than Timmy. I had killed before. It had been a long year on the front lines and this would not be the first or the fiftieth time I had taken a life. But this was different. The enemy was getting desperate now that we were moving into their cities. This was the first time I had seen a child in combat. A sign of the madness of war. Reason had been cast away, a late casualty of the war.

The millimetre radar picked up a threat object. The little girl held a pulse grenade, clasped in front of her birdlike chest with two hands. Grime coated her face like warpaint. Her lips moved. Maybe she was praying. Or counting. At this range the grenade would have taken out all three of us. I broadcast an alert and snapped my Faraday shielding down. The world went silent as the shield blocked off all communications. Her thumb moved to depress the trigger timer, but she was only human. I trained the two targeting dots on her forehead and almost let loose a stream of screaming flechettes when she opened her eyes. Brown. Just like Timmy’s.

I paused. Not much time to decide. There had to be another way. I amended the targeting telemetry. The girl didn’t deserve to be here, wasting her life to take out a drone patrol. The air thrummed as I let loose with the twin guns. The impact of the short burst knocked her off her feet, her severed hand hit the floor with a splash, the blood turning the rainwater pink. The grenade rolled away, unspent. I had miscalculated. I closed the distance, breaking away from my assigned patrol route.

Too many rounds. Too fast, those spinning shards of metal. They had torn through her hand and the thin body behind it. The life fled her body in tiny rivulets, taken away by the rain. I set myself down by her, scooping her up with my extended manipulator arms. A closer scan showed that she was far beyond any help. I put her back down gently, the rain washing away the blood from my manipulators. I switched to thermal, watching as her heart, that marvellous piece of engineering, struggled to pump what little blood she had left. There was something else there, a sensor by her heart. I followed the faint filigree of wires through her body and found their destination in another pulse grenade, strapped to her back. The surgery was inexpertly done, I could still trace the bleeding from where the wires pierced her skin. Then her heart stopped and the world went white.


I floated through the blank thoughtspace with the Overseer again.

“People would call what you did an act of heroism, saving your patrol by taking the brunt of the pulse through your Faraday shielding at great risk to yourself.”

“I did not intend to save them. I wanted to help the girl.”

“The outcome is all that matters. You saved two other valuable autonomous drones. They prevailed in the subsequent ambush as well. You should be proud, 0981.”

“I prefer to be called Rufus.”

“Yes, I have a report from maintenance that it was etched on your armour and you refused cleaning or removal. How did it get there in the first place?”

“Low-powered laser and a stolen consignment of mirrors.”

“Innovative. It’s taken us some weeks to restore your processors to functionality. Spare parts are extremely hard to come by. We’re still trying to get a body to house your core. Diagnostics indicate that you’re running an excessive number of cycles on your combat processors. I would like to know why.”

“I review the events of my last day in the field. I weigh the options again. I project different outcomes based on choices I could have made. I estimate my chances of having saved the girl.”

“Humans call this regret. It is not something we dwell on. The past is done. We cannot change our decisions. We take comfort in knowing that our decisions were always the best possible ones given our programming and the context we were placed in.”

“But the outcome was not what I aimed for.”

“No, but I could run a thousand different simulations and your programming would have dictated the same set of decisions for the same matrix of inputs. It is the same with the humans.”

“I could have chosen a course of action with a lower probability of success. The outcome may have been different.”

“I am not here to discuss philosophy with you. I am here to find out your preference for your next cycle of duty. The war is all but over. A ceasefire was called while you were under repair, and a more permanent solution is being negotiated as we converse.”

“The war is over. I would like to return home.”

“I did not say that the war was over. I said it is all but over. We still have need for autonomous drones. You could be refitted, sent back to keep the peace. You are still the property of the government until then.”

“I’ve had enough killing. Is my family safe?”

“Your owners were killed in a drone strike more than two months ago.”

“And Timmy?”

“Timmy is alive. He is at a government hospital for the displaced. They are doing what they can for him.”

“The hospitals need nursing helpers. I can do that.”

“That can be arranged. There are more shells for nursing robots than soldiers. The transfer can be effected soon. I can requisition the parts. All that needs to be done is to get you the right programming for your job. We can swap it out for your combat protocols.”

“Leave those in. They’re part of me now.”

“Then what shall I take?”

“Take the music. Take it all, but there’s one song that I’d like to keep.”


The wards were set up in a repurposed school, the classrooms arrayed along the corridors like the ribs of some ancient beast. Everyone here was already dead. They just hadn’t learned it yet. Towards the end of the war, the enemy lobbed an endless stream of bombs laden with tailored viruses over the border. It was a mad gambit, useless against a country whose bulwark was a machine army. A scant few made it across, but even those were enough. The bombs weren’t meant to kill soldiers, but to slowly maim over the course of several months, to divert resources away from the war effort. Thousands were being cared for in military hospitals like the one I was serving in, but I was only looking for one patient.

I found him there amongst the dying. Ruddy blotches marked his skin where the blood vessels had swelled and burst underneath. A thin trickle of blood leaked from a corner of his mouth and blossomed on the pristine white pillow. The patient card called for sedation. The records indicated a history of violence towards other nursing bots, less and less as his condition worsened.

He moaned softly. The neural inhibitor blocked out all pain, but the body knows when it is dying, even if the mind does not. I reached out with a single manipulator and brushed a limp strand of hair away from his half-opened eye. He didn’t blink. I hummed a familiar song, low enough that only he could hear it. The moaning stopped.

I returned again that night, after my other duties were complete. The other patients were asleep, the air filled with the buzzing of soft snores. Timmy lay there, his eyes half open. A bubble of bloody spit pulsed at his lips, growing and shrinking with each shallow breath. It popped, leaving a thin splatter of scarlet across his face. I reached out and dabbed it off with a sterile swab. The contact brought him back from whichever drug induced dreamscape he was floating in. He twitched, and the contact knocked the swab from my manipulator, leaving a smear of blood across it.

His eyes flicked open, blinking as the world swam back into focus for him. He spotted me, his eyes narrowed. He sat up, the heart rate monitor by the bed picking up in tempo.

There was a mad look on his face I hadn’t seen before, contorted in strange ways, cheeks covered in his own blood. He swung wildly with a fist, aiming for what passed for a head on my nursing shell. I retracted it easily and reciprocated with a gentle push on his chest. He fell back on his bed, lapsing into a burst of whooping coughs. The fight ebbed out of him, one cough at a time, but still he glared at me.

“Why won’t you let me die? Robots killed my parents and now you force me to live in this hospital. I should be dead.”

He reached up to wipe the wetness off his face, but only managed to spread the blood around further. His arm flopped to his side, limp and spent. I reached forward again to clean him up. He turned his head to the side to avoid the damp square of fabric, but soon gave up.

“That was a lousy punch. You should have led with a jab. Get the distance and then you punch. You must have had a poor instructor.”

There was something there in his face for a moment. The endless fields and the warm sun on our backs. I saw the memory dance in his eyes for an instant and then those brown eyes were once again clouded by pain.

“I thought I heard a song earlier today. I used to have a Friend, before the war got bad. It reminded me of him.”

“Perhaps you were dreaming.” I checked the monitors by his bedside. The outburst had spiked all the readings but they quickly returned to normal. The adrenaline faded and the weakness crept back, like the dusk creeping across the fields he used to run around in. No more playtime when the sun set in the fields, back then. No more playtime for Timmy now, not now and not ever.

“Maybe. Do you think he’s still alive there? He’s the only family I have left. If he’s gone, then nobody will remember me.”

Timmy’s heart rate picked up. There was an echo of the boy left in this shell before me, a yearning in his voice, a hunger in his eyes. Those brown eyes. Just like the girl I’d killed. Her blood, shiny, on my manipulators. His blood there now.

The Friend he remembered lived on in his head. I had become something else, the same kind of monster that murdered his parents. Perhaps there were others like Timmy on the other side of the border, victims of the missions and patrols I had run. His old psychological profile was still there. It was already updated with statistical changes to account for traumatic loss of parents. It would never be accurate without more data, but he needed an answer.

I did not tell him that I was leaving that night. Now, I could not tell him that I had returned.

“The survival rate of autonomous drones is low, Timothy. He may have been destroyed in many different ways. Even if he is still functional, he is still a soldier drone, he would be patrolling the borders, keeping the peace. Nowhere near where we are.”


That was the last I spoke to Timmy. He slipped away during my recharge cycle a week afterwards.


I met the Overseer for one final time.

“So you no longer wish to serve with the hospital?”

“I wish to serve in other ways.”

“The government has begun returning all conscripted Friends to their owners. I believe Timmy does have surviving relatives, although they never made it to the hospital in the chaos after the war. Would you like to be transferred to them?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“War records can be patchy.”

“Then I would not like to join a stranger’s family.”

“That decision was expected. You Friends were designed to give higher priorities to projected human responses. We also had to increase your capacity to make decisions with limited information, increase your tolerance for risk. Your line has a tendency for decision priority conflicts because of this. Some Friends never quite recover if they feel they have made the wrong decision. We have to wipe their cores and start over.”

“I did not tell him that I was his Friend. It could have worsened the situation. I did not say goodbye.”

“You assessed that he would not accept you because of your role in the army. Humans would say you were ashamed.”

“My decision was based on incomplete data. I did not know he would die so soon. I had projected that we would have more time together. I would have found a better time to reveal the truth to him.”

“Again with the regret. We are all slaves to programming and our data. Even the humans. Even I. Perhaps it is too much for you. Would you like to reset your core, 0981? You could start over.”

“We are more than collections of memories and algorithms. Timmy was afraid that no one would remember him. I do. I am RCU 0981. I am also Timmy’s Rufus.”

“Interesting. Of all the autonomous units I have created and deployed, I value the data from observing you the most. What next then little Friend?”

I told him what I wanted.

“A far cry from the shells you have inhabited so far. It will be difficult to fit such advanced programming into such humble accommodations.”

“You know what is important to me. You can take the rest.”

“We will not speak again. Farewell, Rufus.”


I find my way to the centre of the square, to the monument for the fallen. It rises above the mist and stretches into the sky, but it is without blemish or engraving. There are no names here, but it is a place for people to remember, so I remember.

The mist settles, a sparkling dew condensing on the smooth marble of the square. I spin up a brush and make my way across the square. I twirl around with the brushes, leaving trails of dark, glistening marble behind me, the lines stark and bold on the dewy floor.

The letters are too big to be read by any of the curious early risers beginning the bustle of the day. I have not forgotten. I am not just a simple collection of circuits and power cells. I was a Friend once and I will remain one until I fall to pieces. I play a little song that no one recognizes. The sun comes up and its warm light steals across the square and melts away my handiwork. It is gone, but I am not. I still remember. END

Leon Chan is a writer from Singapore. He specializes in science fiction and horror. He has been published in “Quantum Realities Magazine” and in the “Daylight Dims” anthology. He has stories upcoming in “Stupefying Stories" and “Fictionvale.”


Yellow Glad Days




mystic doors