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





By Melanie Rees

OFTEN I TRAVELLED JUST TO HEAR her voice. Her melodious words resonated throughout the sleek silver vehicle every time I sat in the driver’s seat.

“Welcome, Adam. How was your day?” There was such sincerity and such compassion in her voice that I really believed she was made only for me. I could have sat here for hours listening to her talk. But not today. Today my destination was very specific.

“I’m fine,” I replied, strapping myself into the harness.

“Would you please state your time and destination, Adam?” she asked. Bars of green lights flickered on the console synchronised with her words. The lights flashed as rhythmically as a pulse, as strong as a heartbeat.

“Ten o’clock, two days from now, outside my office.” I opened the dash and popped a couple of my special pills hiding in a container to calm my stomach and nerves. She was linked to the central police station, but she’d never dob me in. She knew that I wasn’t some junkie.

“Welcome, Adam.” Her lights flickered in time with her melodious timbre. “When would you like to go?”

“What? Didn’t I just tell you that?”

“Oh! Did you?” She impregnated her words with such innocence it made me smile.

“Are you a bit tired today?” I knew it was a ridiculous question to ask a Delta operating system, but she never treated any of my questions as ridiculous.

“No, Adam. All systems are primed and working at optimal condition.” The green lights flatlined for a second before she continued. “But ... do you really want to travel two days forward?”


“I am bound by law to inform you that any meddling—”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I promise I’m only observing.” I drummed my fingers together as I waited for the engine to ignite. “I didn’t install you to question me,” I said after a moment of silence.

“Certainly, Adam. Please fasten your harness—”

“I’m strapped in. Can we just go?”

“Certainly, Adam. When did you—?”

“Two days from now!” I clenched my teeth so tight my jaw ached. I unclenched fists that I hadn’t realised I’d balled up and took a deep breath. “Please.”

The engine ignited. Lights flickered outside the front window. The familiar feeling of passing through nothingness enveloped me. It was as if I was floating even though I knew I was strapped in tight, and then suddenly I could feel the fabric of the chair underneath me and the pull of the harness against my chest again.

“Thou hast arrived at the location of thee choosing,” she said.

“Thou have what?”

The flashing lights outside the window subsided. A grassy knoll spanned before me: no car park, no cityscape with towering office blocks, no smog filled skies. There was no busy commotion erupting from the streets. Although there was a distant thumping. It was possible she’d got the location askew by a few kilometres and we were on the outskirts of town, but she’d never failed me before.

“Where are we?” I asked.

“Thou office.”

I punched the latch releasing the driver’s side door and stepped outside. Underneath my feet, wooden planks creaked. Below that, muddy water lapped upon a sandy bank. I grabbed the edge of the door for balance and glanced behind me. A stone castle towered high. Men clad in armour stood on top of the wall.

I clambered back into the vehicle. “Are you sure you didn’t add a few zeros onto that requested two days?”

“Thou doth know not of what thee speak, kind Sir. ’Tis a most splendid day for sightseeing. Over yonder, thee will find ...”

“Shut it for a sec.” I stuck my head out of the open door. Thumping. I could definitely hear thumping—growing louder. In the distance, dust billowed in a long cloud. Amid the thumping, a high-pitched horn sounded and horses galloped through the dust towards me.

“Okay, thou is most definitely not at my destination.”

“Egad! Methinks what thee claim mayest be true.”

“Will you cut that out? You’re not saying it even remotely accurately.”

“Dost thou question ...” She paused as if trying to find the words. “Thee interpretation of the period’s dialect?”

“Oh. Thee is questioning much more than that. Will you just take me to the right time?”

The horses traversed the grassy hillside quicker than I could’ve imagined. Hundreds of horses churned up soil as their hooves rammed into the grassy plains.

“Maybe thou should hightail it out of here?” I strapped myself in.

“Sorry. To whither doth thee wish to go?”

“Two days hence. Oh, bloody heck. I’m beginning to sound like you. Just go! Go, go, go!”

The lead horse rider raised a sword. The troops behind cheered.

“And quicker would be better.”

“Sorry, Adam. Please accept my apology.” Her mellifluous voice pleaded as lights flashed around me.

How could I stay angry at that voice? In my own little fantasy world, there was a dark mysterious woman draped in a slightly see-through shift speaking to me at the other end. No. Right now she would be suited up in chain mail wielding a long sword with Hollywood-style agility and riding a horse, bareback ...

“Hello, Adam.”

“What? Sorry.”

“Thou have arrived.”

I almost gagged as the scene outside the window came into focus. The landscape before me was a mantle of blood and bodies. Shattered wood from a broken trebuchet dotted the red grass and abandoned steel swords glinted in the morning sunlight.

“I am not at the right time.” I tried to contain the frustration in my voice but she must’ve heard it as her response was defensive.

“It is so the right time. Two days exactly.”

Even when she was angry, she sounded as if she wanted to wrap me up in her arms and comfort me. I could listen to that voice for days. Logic hit me and I snapped out of my reverie.

“Two days from when?”

“From when we were,” she hesitated.

“You knew what I meant. Two days from my own time,” I barked unable to contain my anger. “Seriously. What did I buy you for?” I slapped the console in frustration.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry. We are going there now.”

I shut my eyes, trying to block out the migraine that was creeping up on me. I could see the lights dazzling behind my closed eyelids. I opened my eyes as the flashing subsided, but saw nothing. Everything was pitch black.

“You. Yurgg. Ugg. Og.” Her voice trailed into a string of indistinguishable grunts that turned me on ever so slightly.

“Where are we?”


I rested my forehead in my palm, putting pressure on the migraine that had worked its way to the surface. Maybe I slapped the dash too hard and damaged her circuits.

“Run diagnostics and repair faults.” I watched the lights flicker on the screen as the computer tried to find the fault. I stepped out of the vehicle and plodded through the dark. Underfoot, the earth was hard and covered with what felt like lumps of wood. In the distance, a pinprick of light beckoned. As I made my way to the light, I realised it was the entrance to a cave. The daylight from outside shone on the floor near the cave entrance, illuminating the lumps of wood, except it wasn’t wood but bone. What I could only imagine was a tusk sat at the cave entrance. I peeked outside to find a group of men clad in animal hides, sitting around a small fire.

I stepped backwards trying not to attract attention. Bones crunched under my feet. I turned and stumbled through the dark towards the small green light flickering from inside the vehicle.

“Me no find bad ugg,” she grunted as I got in.

“Can you please just speak in English?”

“I do believe the English translation of ugg is ugg.”

She probably thought she was being cute, and if I weren’t so frustrated I would’ve thought so too.

“Please just send me to the right time. I’m begging you. I don’t know why you’re being so uncooperative.”

“Sorry, Adam. Sending you to chosen destination now.”

That was a good question: Why was she being so uncooperative? The thoughts filled me as the dazzling light display erupted before me. She could see across all time and space. So perhaps my foray into the future wasn’t strictly “legal,” but it wasn’t like I was hurting anyone. I couldn’t imagine why she would care. Unless ... Unless she knew something bad was going to happen in two days’ time? Was she protecting me? The way she spoke, it really did sound as if she cared and wanted to protect me. Even the way she said my name seemed as if she really knew me—understood me.

I barely noticed as the lights diminished. So many thoughts were running through my pounding head.

“Am I going to die tomorrow?” I asked her.

Silence filled the vehicle. No noise resonated from outside either.

I peered through the window. The vehicle seemed to be resting on a span of metal.

“I don’t want to ask where we are.” I unstrapped myself. “But where are we?”

I waited for her to respond, but there was nothing, except the green lights flickering on the console.


Pulses of green spiked, but she said nothing.

I opened the hatch. A hiss of wind darted past, breaking the outside silence. My hair lashed about my face as I walked along hard metal ground. I soon realised it was a massive disk. I looked to the horizon and saw more of the same: massive metal disks sitting atop huge cylinders.

My legs wobbled as I realised how high up I must’ve been. I walked to the nearest edge, lay on my stomach and shuffled my way along so I could peer down. A jungle of huge, straggly plants cluttered the ground below. A vine with girth as thick as my torso wrapped its way around the cylinder beneath me; and at the end of the vine a snapping green head with serrated teeth lashed out at the underside of the metal disk. I pulled back from the edge and sat bolt upright.

A hiss echoed from the middle of the disk and two tall men rose up through the centre. They walked in ungainly fashion. Long skinny legs took tentative steps. I jumped to my feet. As they came nearer and into focus, I realised they weren’t men. Their heart-shaped heads were large and their eyes bulged like blowflies. I wanted to run and yet I stood transfixed as one of them reached a palm out and pressed it against my forehead. My head tingled, but I wasn’t sure if that was vertigo setting in or something far more disconcerting. I stepped back. The creatures looked at each other as if to speak and said nothing. The tiny slit of a mouth didn’t even move. One turned back in my direction. Large googly eyes bored so deep into my soul that I turned and fled back to the vehicle.

My hands trembled as they fastened the harness. “Okay, we can go now.”

Green lights flickered but she didn’t speak. Her beautiful voice. How I longed for her beautiful, calming voice now.

“Please,” I begged. “I don’t care where, just go.”

One of the creatures approached the vehicle. It stepped in front of the window and raised a palm in the air.

Was that a welcoming? “I come in peace,” I yelled in their direction and raised my palm.

“Oh, my databanks. I forgot you aren’t equipped with telepathy receptors yet.”


“I should never have come this far. We’re getting out of here.” The urgency in her voice certainly didn’t calm me this time. “And for Delta’s sake, lower your hand!”

My hand snapped down like that of a a naughty schoolchild who’d been reprimanded by the teacher. “What time are—?” The question stuck in my throat as a blue light glowed from the creature’s palm. The light intensified. My brain felt fuzzy for a moment and then a beam of light shot straight for the window. Suddenly the light was surrounding me, blinding me.

“Oh, geez. We’re dead aren’t we? We’ve been blown to smithereens and I’m now just atoms drifting in the void.”

The lights died down and the fuzziness in my head receded.

“You have reached your destination.”

That voice, that beautiful voice. I looked out the window expecting the worst.

“My office!” I pressed my face to the window.

“Yes. You have reached your destination.”

Who would’ve thought that a towering pile of concrete could be so beautiful. It almost felt tranquil. There was a kind of peaceful serenity hanging over the building. It never felt like that. There was always commotion and people and cars ...

“There’s no cars in the car park.”


That “oh” was quickly losing its sexy appeal.

On the sliding doors hung a wreath of mistletoe and a sign saying closed.

“How far forward are we?”

“Two months. You said in two months’ time, didn’t you?”

I balled my fists and took a deep breath. Count to three and breathe, I told myself.

“You never answered me before. Why are you doing this? Am I going to die in two days’ time?”

“I did answer you. You just couldn’t read my thoughts.”

I rolled my eyes and tried to remain calm.

“No, you won’t die,” she answered without prompting.

“Well, does something bad happen to me?”

“To you? No.”

“Well why won’t you send me forward?”

“You are planning to listen in on your own interview questions.”

“So? I just want a heads up to help me get the manager position. It isn’t hurting anyone.”

“It will hurt me,” her voice was filled with so much sorrow it knocked the wind out of me.

“I’d never hurt you.”

“If you get the job you will get a pay raise. You will upgrade.”


“Upgrade to her.”


“Her. That skanky seductress. Look at me. I’m Time Talk Delta two point zero. I’m so great, I have a decimal point after my name. Aren’t I great? I can increase your heart rate while I talk. I can talk all posh and seductively and and ... The sarcasm oozed out of her. “She’s such a skanky beach.”

“What time period are you trying to imitate now.” I covered my mouth attempting to stop myself from laughing. “And I think you mean bitch.”

“Bitch? She’s much more like a grainy gritty sandy icky beach than a fluffy dog.”

There was something so calming about her voice that my migraine seemed to melt away. “If I promise not to upgrade to a new version, will you take me?” I asked smiling.


“How could I ever get sick of listening to that voice?”

She coughed ever so delicately. “What happens when my circuitry becomes outdated and I don’t respond as quickly as you like?”

“I promise. No matter what. I won’t upgrade.”

For a while the green lights on the dash remained static and then lights blazed outside.

“You have reached your destination.”

Outside, people bustled in and out of my office and behind the building there was the spot I’d chosen where I could listen through the window to all the interview questions.

“Thank you.” I punched the latch on the door.

“Wait!” Her green lights flickered on the console. “Remember your promise. Remember me, Adam.”


I unbuttoned my new suit and threw it on the back seat as I clambered into the vehicle.

“Why, hello there, handsome. I missed you.” When she said that I couldn’t help but picture a naked woman lying on a bed tapping the silk sheets, inviting me to join her. “Did you have a good day at the office?”

“Not bad. Not bad.” I settled into the freshly upholstered seat and strapped myself in.

“Where do you want to go today, Adam?” The inflection when she said my name sent ripples through my body. “You know I can take you to any destination. So long as you let me come with you.”

Often I would travel just to hear her voice, and today was no exception. She wasn’t skanky at all. END

Melanie Rees is an Australian writer. Her speculative fiction has appeared in
various publications, including “Cosmos,” “Penumbra,” “Daily Science Fiction,” and “The School Magazine.” Her previous story for “Perihelion” was in 12-MAY-2013.




peter saga