Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Decoration Day
by Edward J. McFadden III

A Mother’s Touch
by Beth Cato

Breathing Space
by J.J. Green

Consarn Christmas
by Eamonn Murphy

Having Robot Sex
by William R.A.D. Funk

by Kurt Heinrich Hyatt

Morphological Understanding
by Jennifer Linnaea

Cloud Cover
by Eric Del Carlo

Abram’s Choice
by Jamie Lackey

by David Barber

Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow
by Clayton J. Callahan


Ho, Ho, Holiday Giving
by Eric M. Jones

On the Antiquity of Man
by A. de Quatrefages




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips



Having Robot Sex

By William R.A.D. Funk

A Guilt-Free Dance

“ROBOT SEX,” DANNY READ ALOUD from the strip club’s large neon sign, each letter flickered hot pink in a choreographed display of hypnotic advertisement. He dabbed the tip of his tongue against his lips. “Are you sure about this, Fred?” he asked his friend and co-worker, standing by his side.

“Positive,” Fred replied, hands thrust in his pockets. “It’s the real deal.”

“But ... robots?” Danny shook his head. “I knew the Japanese were working on a clumsy robot to work on construction sites, but I didn’t think we had anything this ... complex.”

“You might say it’s a closely guarded secret.” Fred winked.

“Secret, huh?” Danny glanced back at the neon sign.

Fred landed a powerful hand on Danny’s back, propelling him toward the front door. “It’s your bachelor party, buddy. Come tomorrow, Mary will have you for a lifetime.” Fred muttered a little too loud, “Poor bastard.”

Danny forced out a chuckle. His painted smile slipped. “I don’t know, man. A couple of metallic humanoid ... things slamming into each other doesn’t seem like it would really be my cup of tea. You know what I mean?”

Fred’s strong hand kept the two of them moving toward the door. He rubbed at his square chin. “You give me no credit, buddy. These robots look and act exactly like real women. Remember who you’re talking to here. Would I throw you a crappy bachelor party? Hmm?”

Danny shrugged. “No.”

“Of course not.” Fred opened the door. Music with a deep rhythmic base pulsed from inside. Whistles and manly cheers rang out in unorganized chorus. “I know you’re the kind of guy who would feel guilty for getting a lap dance from another woman the day before you get married.”

Danny blushed.

“Well, I’m letting you have your cake and you can eat it too ... literally.” Fred’s smile stretched wide. “This way, you can get your lap dance from a hot-looking chick and know you’re not actually getting a lap dance from a real human chick. Now get in there.” Fred stood at the open door, ushering Danny in with an outstretched hand.

Danny sighed, nodded, then chuckled. “Alright.” He crossed the threshold.

“That a boy!” Fred shouted. To the other men in the audience, “Gentlemen, condemned man walking.” A finger on each of Fred’s hands pointed down on Danny as he entered.

A wave of cheers washed over them both. Danny smiled as the other guests at his bachelor party started chanting his name.


Danny took a moment. Fred had convinced him the robots wouldn’t be tin cans hip thrusting each other to the dull rocking of a metronome, but the reality was far better than he could have imagined.

His neighbors and the guys from the engineering firm where he worked sat in chairs circling three raised stages, each with its own vertical pole. On every pole a slender, well-endowed woman stretched and contorted to the beat of the DJ’s electric house tune.

“They’re so lifelike,” Danny said, feet still glued to the floor.

“It hurts that you would doubt me,” Fred replied, feigning a sad look.

“I mean, they’re so flexible. And, they’re as agile as acrobats.”

“How else would you prefer your strippers?” Fred chuckled, prodding Danny toward an empty seat at the center stage’s base. His voice dropped to a whisper in Danny’s ear, “Her name’s, Cherry, and I’m told she’s brand new.”

Danny’s legs folded on autopilot, his backside finding the seat of a chair. Jaw slack and eyes wide, Danny watched Cherry hang upside down from the pole, powerful legs wrapped the phallic symbol with a veteran’s discipline. Black leather boots covered her legs up past the knee. Smooth bare thighs emerged unblemished to a g-string struggling to conceal the essentials. A flat, lightly tanned stomach drew Danny’s eyes farther up—or down considering her position—to her breasts.

“He’s the guest of honor,” Fred said from somewhere behind Danny.

Danny couldn’t break his trance. Waves of long auburn hair framed Cherry’s face. At Fred’s comment she made eye contact with Danny, winked, and blew him a kiss.

Blushing heat burned Danny’s cheeks. He swallowed hard, his growing excitement made his seat suddenly uncomfortable.

Cherry dropped from the pole, landing with enough grace to make no sound, yet crawl around on all fours like a wild animal.

Fred leaned in, thrusting a fistful of bills in Danny’s hand. At a whisper, “Don’t blow the load all at once. Cherry’s not the only one who wants to dance for you tonight. I’ll get you a beer.”

Danny grabbed Fred’s wrist as he turned toward the bar. Fred leaned in. “She’s so real. I can’t tell her from a real woman.”

Fred chuckled. “Uh ... duh. It wouldn’t be very good for business if the girls had wires hanging out.” Fred laughed harder at his own wit and made for the bar.

Danny looked down at the wad of cash in his hand, plucked a ten from the pile and held it aloft. Cherry pressed her butt out to meet his hand. He tucked it under the thin strap of her g-string. She gave him a smile before retrobotsexurning to her dance routine. His friends cheered him on.

Danny stared at the cash, and then at Cherry, wondering why bother putting money in her g-string? She was a robot. It’s not like she was going to take it home and pay the rent.

He chuckled.

A cold beer found its way into his other hand. Fred had returned. “Let’s get my boy here a dance,” he said, a fifty in the air.

Cherry obediently hopped down from the stage, her smile never wavered, her eyes never lost that sultry gaze. She plucked the fifty from Fred’s hand, tucked it into her g-string, and turned away from them. Cherry bent at the waste, her backside over Danny’s lap. It rolled with the music, her movements as hypnotic as the sign outside. She lowered her weight on his lap, gently grinding.

Danny nervously cleared his throat, a shaky smile on his face.

“That’s my boy!” Fred shouted.

Cherry pressed her g-string against Danny’s groin and leaned back, whipping her hair up and over until the back of her head rested on his shoulder. She reached down, grabbing his hand, the hand full of cash, and raised it to her breast.

He squeezed. She moaned.

So real, his thoughts screamed. The engineer in him couldn’t help but wonder how they pulled it off.

Cherry turned her lips to his ear and whispered, “Mmm, that feels good.”

Danny gasped. “You can talk.”

Cherry raised a brow. She narrowed her eyes.

I’m breaking the illusion. Come on. People are watching. Fix it.

“I—I mean I didn’t know if it was against the rules,” Danny lied, his shaky smile wavering.

“I can say anything you want me to say,” Cherry’s brow lowered, her smile and seductive stare returned. “Tonight your wish is my command.”

Danny chuckled. His excitement had grown more pronounced.

Cherry jumped a little as if stuck by a pin. She wore a look of fake surprise, before lowering further and rubbing deeper against his manhood.

A twinge of guilt rose up in the back of Danny’s mind. I’m getting married tomorrow. I shouldn’t be doing this ... right? Cherry, as if able to read his mind, tilted her head and nibbled on his ear. The blood in Danny’s head rushed elsewhere. Thought turned spongy. She’s a robot. Not a person. It’s not cheating.

At the point Danny could barely contain himself, the music changed. Cherry flipped around, straddling him face to face. “I have a set later. Don’t forget about me.”

“I won’t,” Danny squeaked.

Cherry withdrew and stalked off, the curve of her rear rocking from side to side.

Danny muffled a groan in his throat as his friends whined and begged Cherry not to leave. She looked over her shoulder and blew them all a kiss before disappearing behind the curtain.

“Now don’t despair,” a man’s voice announced over the speakers. “We have another beauty for you. For those with an Asian persuasion. She’ll show you her ancient Chinese secrets. She’ll love you long time. Gentlemen, I give you Ming Ling!”

As promised, a slender, big-breasted Asian woman burst forth from behind the corner. She wore an opaque white-lace teddy. Her face bore an innocent pout, lips wrapped around a lollipop.

Excited cheers filled the club as Ming Ling strut across the room to the center stage. She pressed her body against the pole, slipping up and down in slow sensual movements. Her eyes connected with Danny’s. She pulled the lollipop from her mouth and teased the sucker with a tip of her tongue.

Danny loosed a low guttural, “Wow.” While in his mind, the inner-engineer couldn’t help think, she’s so realistic.

A Night to Remember

One dance turned into several. One beer turned into a case, a shot became a quarter bottle’s worth. One stunningly realistic machine/woman walked on stage after another. Every position, hair color, dance style, and pigment in the human spectrum was covered by the club’s variety of girls/robots.

Danny’s brain started to float as Fresca, the Latin passion, Hispanic dancer, became two strippers dancing in unison side by side. His fumbling hand found the sleeve of Fred’s shirt and pulled the man in close.

“I think I’m on the outs, Fred. I’m gonna go break the seal and I think I should get home.”

Fred raised a brow. His hand rose up to rub his square jaw. “Go take care of business, buddy. We’ll be here waiting for you.”

Danny nodded, his head making a dizzy arc. He used the chair’s back to climb up on legs that had forgotten how to work properly. But by table and chair, he stumbled his way toward the bathroom.

At the door, he glanced over his shoulder. Fred had gathered a bunch of the guys together, whispering something into the huddle’s center. Danny squinted his eyes in suspicion.

What’s he up to?

Danny’s bladder groaned. He reluctantly pushed his way into the restroom, his suspicion slipping away as he embarked on the difficult task of taking a leak without soiling his pants.

Mid-stream, the music stopped.


Lighter and more energetic, Danny walked back out into the club. The lack of music gave the room a strange feel. His friends—the ones who hadn’t left or passed out in the last few hours—stood to the side glancing from Danny to the center stage.

Danny followed their eyes. He raised a brow, uncertain but intrigued. Five of the night’s strippers stood up on the stage: Nikita, Ming ling, Cherry, Ebony, and Cuma Sutra. They all stared at him, beckoning him closer.

He obeyed.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

Fred stepped forward. His square jaw made his smirk more pronounced. “Since this is a private party and I’ve made an arrangement with the owner, he’s agreed for one of the girls to take you to the VIP section—and well—remind you what you’ll be leaving behind once married.”

“What?” Danny gawked. “You mean sex?”

His friends broke into laughter.

Danny blushed.

Fred closed the distance to Danny and whispered, “What’s the big deal, buddy?”

“I can’t have sex with someone the night before my wedding,” Danny explained.

“But you won’t.”

Danny bent his face in drunken confusion.

Fred sighed. “You’re telling me that after all this naked tail, you’re not going to go home and jerk off?”

“Yeah, but that’s different.”

“What about pounding an inflatable doll? Would that be different?”

“I suppose that would be okay,” Danny replied, his fogged faculties started to see where Fred was heading.

“What about one of them silicon jobs that lay there with battery-operated vibrations.”

Danny’s blush deepened. “I imagine that wouldn’t be cheating.”

“Well there you go,” said Fred, pointing at the five dancers. “They are merely more complex versions of those things. No cheating.”

After staring at his shuffling feet, Danny nodded. “You’re right.”

“That a boy!” Fred switched from whisper to shout. “Now take your pick.”

Blush ever present, Danny looked up at the five strippers/robots. Each aroused a strong, pleasant reaction from him, but Cherry stood out the most. She was his first dance of the night, when his mind wasn’t stewed in booze. Don’t forget about me, she had said before walking off.

He nodded to himself. “Cherry.”

His friends cheered and whistled, while the other four dancers pouted. They each walked off toward the curtain.

Cherry managed to make climbing down from the stage a sexy display. She ran fingers across the back of Danny’s neck.

“You remembered me,” she said.

Danny cleared his throat. “Of course.”

“Come with me,” she said, leading him by the hand. “I’ll show you how much that means to me.”

As Danny and his choice disappeared behind the curtain, the shouted support of his friends reached its peak.


The VIP suite wasn’t half bad, Danny noted. A curved wall of glass held back a massive fish tank. Colorful varieties of aquatic creatures floated about, their large curious eyes watched as Cherry led Danny to the heart-shaped bed in the room’s center.

She sat at the edge, face at crotch level, unfastening Danny’s belt.

As she reached for his zipper, he grabbed her hands. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

Cherry’s eyes went wide with hurt. “You want one of the other girls instead?”

“What? No,” Danny struggled. “That’s not what I meant.”

Cherry obviously knew what she was doing. The hurt look on her face vanished and Danny noticed she had already removed his pants during his fluster.

“How did you—” he started.

Cherry touched his manhood through underwear. Alcohol and other powerful chemicals rushed to his brain. Thought became subjective. In a flash, his shirt and underwear surrendered as his pants had.

This can’t be right, his conscience returned. What about Mary?

Cherry playfully pushed him—back down—on the bed. Her g-string vanished.

Fred’s logic rose up to counter his thoughts. She’s a robot. You wouldn’t feel guilty popping an inflatable doll. This is no different.

Cherry, knees digging into the mattress, straddled him.

Yeah, no guilt, he decided. She’s a robot. There’s nothing to feel guilty about.

Cherry lowered down on him. Danny didn’t try to stop her. He gasped as he entered. She shuddered.

It’s amazing how real they made her, the engineer in him acknowledged at the back of his mind as Cherry rose and fell, repeatedly impaling herself on him. Each fall called a moan forth from her. Sound effects have perfect timing. She’s warm. They even added some kind of lubrication as needed.

Danny’s thoughts retreated as Cherry picked up her pace. His pleasure piqued. Cherry shivered, and rolled off at the perfect time. She lay at his side, spent, panting along with him.

For a reason Danny couldn’t understand, his first comment was, “You’re surprisingly lifelike.”

“What?” Cherry asked, brow raised high. She rolled on her side, facing him.

You’re breaking the illusion again. Danny shrugged. The night was over. What difference does it make?

“I mean you are almost indistinguishable from a real person.”

“Excuse me?” Cherry asked, springing up to a seated position.

Danny sat up to face her. “You don’t need to pretend anymore for my sake.”

A big red fish swam by and stopped, staring at the two of them. Eyes wide. It seemed to shake its head, mouth open as if shouting some unheard warning.

Danny brought his voice down to a whisper. “I mean, I know you’re just a robot.”

Cherry’s face turned as red as her namesake. Before Danny could react, a powerful hand smacked him across the cheek. “Get out! You son of a—” her voice choked on anger. “Get out!”

“But I was told you were a robot,” Danny tried to defend.

Cherry’s tears boiled over now. She cried openly, unrestrained. “Just because—” sob “—I had sex—” choking breath “—for the money—” sob “—doesn’t make me any less of a person. Now get out!”

Danny couldn’t argue. A whirlwind of slapping hands descended upon him. He stumbled off the bed, trying to put pants on while dodging blows. The basics covered, he scooped up the rest of his things and made for the door. A black leather boot slammed against the wall a few inches from his head.

Danny opened the door, teeth clenched, a single thought in his mind: Fred, you bastard. I’m going to kill you.

An Attempt to Define Human

Shirt and shoes tucked under his arm, Danny burst through the curtain, fury in his eyes, breath seething.

Drunk and unaware, his friends shouted congratulations at his near-naked display of conquest. Fred’s smile was exceptionally large. He pressed a proud thumb in Danny’s direction.

Danny dashed across the room at a startled Fred. “You tricked me, you son of a—” his fist connected with that square jaw. There was a loud pop. Danny howled, holding his wrist.

Fred—sprawled out on the ground—rubbed his jaw. “What the hell, man?”

“You tricked me,” Danny shouted between painful curses. He just knew his wrist was broken. Fred’s square jaw had to be made of stone. “You told me she was a robot. She wasn’t. She’s a human being. A real woman. You tricked me into cheating on Mary, the day before our wedding. Why?”

Fred laid still, wide eyes staring up at Danny.

The room fell silent.


“Gentlemen, please,” pleaded the voice that had announced the dancers over the speakers all night. The owner of the voice stepped out: a pencil-thin man past middle age. Yellowed eyes gave the hint of a failing liver. He matched Danny’s concept of a sleazy strip club owner. “Give me a chance to resolve this peacefully.”

A broken wrist prevented Danny from landing any more punches and he knew he wasn’t the sort to kick a man on the ground. Unable to dish out any further punishment, he waited, giving the man a chance to speak.

“Tell me the problem,” the club owner asked Danny.

After a deep breath and a wince of pain, Danny explained how he’d been deceived by his friend. He described Cherry’s horrified reaction. The club owner listened, nodding as Danny went. With each exclamation of how real they seemed, a grin deepened on the club owner’s face. Danny’s friends whispered to each other. He could hear engineering terms rise up from his coworkers.

“Mister—” the club owner addressed Danny when he was finished.

“Danny’s fine.”

“Okay, Danny. I’m Jimmy. I own this establishment and these girls.”

Did he say he owned the girls or did he mean they worked for him?

“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear how real the girls seemed to you. My company, Real Companions, has worked tirelessly on this project.”

“You mean—” Danny started.

“I do, very much so,” Jimmy finished his thought. “Your friend and I worked out an arrangement. These girls are brand new. My company needed to beta test them. See how real a layman would perceive them under everyday conditions. Fred here suggested we use your bachelor party as the test and, in return, you got the full experience for free. An experience costing upwards of thirty grand per companion.”

Danny opened his mouth to speak, but Jimmy held up a hand for pause.

“You were even given full notice that the girls were robotic. Androids if you will. The sign outside made it pretty clear. And Fred here never told you otherwise.”

“He told me they were robots.”

“Excellent.” Jimmy beamed. “And yet, the experience was so authentic, you believed them to be real women?”

“Well, yeah. Cherry’s reaction was—”


“I—I don’t understand. Why?”

Jimmy shrugged. “In short, the girls need to believe they’re human in order to really pull off the act. You said something to Cherry counter to that belief.”

Danny glanced down at Fred. His friend looked up with the how-could-you-doubt-me face. Danny replied with an exaggerated smile.

“Wait,” Danny turned back to Jimmy. “How do I know you aren’t just saying this to cover for Fred?”

Jimmy clasped his hands together. “Another demonstration. What a great idea.” The club owner turned toward the curtain. “Cherry, would you come out here please?”

An awkward moment of silence passed before Cherry emerged, body swathed in a light-blue robe that made her light-tanned skin radiate.

Danny’s Adam’s apple rose and fell with force under Cherry’s angry glower.

“Cherry,” Jimmy started. “Danny here is the victim of a cruel practical joke.” Cherry raised a suspicious brow. “He was led to believe, by trusted friends, that you were a sophisticated robot.”

Cherry scoffed. “That’s ridiculous.”

“Even so,” Jimmy said. “But he was fooled nonetheless.”

Cherry looked over at Danny, her face had softened a little, but some suspicion still remained.

“I’m sorry,” Danny said, the words sounding more like a question.

“Now, Cherry,” Jimmy called her attention back to him. “I need you to sleep for me. Just a couple of minutes, okay?”

“Okay,” Cherry said, turning toward the curtain.

“No, Cherry. Not in a bed. I want you to sleep standing up, right here, for me.”

“Okay.” Her head tilted down and her eyes closed. Her chest rose and fell as if breathing.

“Now if you will come here.” Jimmy motioned for Danny to walk around, facing Cherry’s back. He did. “Here is your proof.”

Jimmy pulled down the robe’s collar and dug his fingers into Cherry’s spine. They moved in a complex combination. An audible click sounded. Jimmy’s fingers pulled away a panel of flesh covering Cherry’s vertebra to reveal a clear plastic casing in the shape of a spinal cord. Underneath, multicolored wires ran vertically.

“She is a robot,” Danny muttered.

“Quite so,” Jimmy replied.

Fred picked himself up from the floor, dusting off his back.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I thought—” Danny apologized to Fred.

His friend held up a hand. “Water under the bridge, buddy. Besides—” he pointed at Danny’s wrist. “—I think it hurt you more than me, anyway.”

“I think it’s broken.”

Fred chuckled. “We’ll stop by the emergency room on the way to your house.”

“Well, I’d planned on asking you about your experiences as part of the test’s conclusion,” Jimmy broke in, closing the flap on Cherry’s back. “But, I think this reaction is the finest result I could have expected. I hope you boys consider buying a companion when they hit the market.”

Dreamy eyes and wishful smiles circled the room as Cherry woke up.

“Say good-bye to Danny,” Jimmy said to Cherry.

“Bye.” She brushed a hand against Danny’s cheek. “Don’t forget about me.”

Danny blushed. “I don’t think I could.”

She smiled and walked off to the curtain with Jimmy.

Fred glanced at his watch and whistled. “We got to get going, buddy. You’ve got a wedding in a few hours.”

A White Wedding

Danny stood at the altar in his rented tux. Mary, in her flowing white dress, listened to the priest ask if she promised to love, cherish, and so on. She said she did. Danny slid a ring on her finger.

The priest repeated the words for Danny’s sake. Danny agreed and Mary slid a ring on his finger. Danny looked at the cast on his right arm and quietly sighed. He thanked his luck it wasn’t his left hand. Mary wouldn’t have been able to put the ring on his finger. She already glared at him from behind her public wedding smile.

Their first kiss as husband and wife was quick and frigid. He was in the dog house. He wondered if his punishment extended to the honeymoon. Danny measured his wife’s look and decided it probably did. The smile on his face started to sag.

An idea struck him in that instant. A brilliant notion. His smile sprang back to life, eyes sparkling. I wonder if Mary would be interested in getting a robot maid.

His smile turned crooked. END

William R.A.D. Funk is an engineer and writer. His stories have appeared in “Penumbra,” “Silver Blade Magazine,” “Allegory Magazine,” and other publications. He has won two honorable mentions from the Writers of the Future competition.




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