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





By Kurt Heinrich Hyatt

THE ECOLOGY POLICE WERE ANNOYINGLY punctual when they came to take Mike to his morning execution. The planet-friendly last meal of bean sprouts, recycled tofu rinds, and soymilk was giving him an award-winning case of heartburn. The two green-uniformed thugs watched stoically as he pulled on the striped jumpsuit of a convicted ecocriminal and led him down the hall to the execution chamber.

Beyond the plexglass of the observation booth he could see that the device hanging from the ceiling was an old style ion beam projector. Designed for a quick disintegration into phosphorus pentoxide fertilizer, they were known to be temperamental. Usually the condemned vanished in a two-second green flash.

Sometimes—Mike recalled with an icy finger tracing a path from his neck to his testicles—the subject was cooked like a chicken in an ancient microwave. Perhaps more than sometimes, he observed while being herded into the room, judging by scorched patches on the chair seat.

Ficus Trequisser, love handles and pot belly nearly concealed by a tailored executive suit, sauntered in while Mike was being strapped into the chair, the observation booth quickly filling up with an approved list of witnesses. Here for the big show, Mike observed, grimly determined to give them little entertainment.

“Citizens of Planet Ecology and city of the same name,” Trequisser intoned, reading from the palmtablet held in a chubby fist. “Michael Bell, of the starfreighter Mia Culpa, having been dully convicted of the following environmental crimes: failure to use a methane collector in his underwear, swatting an endangered red-banded grass fly, obtaining and smoking contraband cigars, and making profane and disparaging remarks about our beloved President Arborina Greenleaf and the Council of Three. Have you any last words before sentence is carried out?”

“Just one, Ficus,” Mike replied. He lifted a cheek, releasing a rippling fart. “Here’s an environmentally-friendly kiss, just for you. Why don’t you suck in a deep breath and recycle it?”

There were stifled grins from the crowd behind the plexglass.

Trequisser’s pink face congealed. “Proceed with the execution,” he ordered, turned on his heel, and stalked into the observation booth. The door glided shut.

Mike forced his eyes from the expectant faces, affecting a cocky grin while he steeled himself for eternity. His thoughts ran the gamut of things he had done, things he wished he hadn’t done. That girl at the spaceport bar on Dropoff. Incredible ass. What was her name again?

Something was happening beyond the transparent panels of the booth. Ficus Trequisser had his palmtablet out and Mike could see he was arguing with some old guy on the screen, his back against the chamber. He seemed to register surprise, stiffened with anger, then drooped in resignation.

The door glided open and Trequisser reentered. He went up to Mike and crossed his arms. “It would seem a member of the Council of Three has taken into consideration that you, being an ignorant outworlder, are deserving of consideration on humanitarian grounds.” He gestured toward the Ecology Police who began unstrapping Mike from the chair. “You will be escorted back to the Mea Culpa.”

Despite the flood of relief sweeping Mike he found the sanctimonious look on Trequisser overwhelmingly comical.

“Hey, better luck next time, Treepisser,” he chortled.

“I will indeed look forward to it,” Trequisser replied with feeling.


Arborina Greenleaf stood on the observation deck of the twenty-two story Embracer D’Abre Tower, gazing down at the city below. A city the Council of Three and she had founded on the planet they had discovered and named Ecology. Peopled by those who had fled a dying Earth crippled by global warming, the melting of the polar ice caps, and holes in the Earth’s ozone layer. The once green world now an arid wasteland of salt flats, rubble and blowing sand. In the streets below, electric trolleys rattled their way past the Al Gore Monument through a rush-hour tangle of bicycles and hurrying pedestrians.

Ecology City was a new beginning on an Earth-like world of endless grasslands, no surface water, very little rainfall, and the only animal a rodent-like mammal known as the grass rat. She smiled at the distant squares of cultivated field growing flax, soybeans, lentils, and cannabis. For a new people taught to live in harmony with nature; led, guided and, if necessary driven. Her corps of Ecology Police with their shock batons would see to this. A new and perfect world—

A distant blast rattled the windows of the tower. At the far end of the city an ominous funnel of black smoke arose.


Arborina Greenleaf took her seat at the end of the long table and looked up at the Council of Three. As always it amused her to see them as caricatures of hippies on ancient Earth, now grown old, fat or bald. There sat Dufus Earthday, marijuana pipe a permanent fixture of his face, stoned as usual but looking wise. Delbert Ozone, long hair flowing over his embroidered peasant shirt, but bald as an egg above the ears. Lastly, Peta Fishfriend, antique spectacles perched at the end of her long and pointed nose, a secret consumer of junk food.

Councilman Ozone cleared his throat. “Well, the situation as you’ve described it, President Greenleaf, means our aquifer pump system is no longer working and we have at the most one week of water in our emergency storage reservoir.”

“Very aptly put, and the seasonal rains are at least a month away,” she agreed.

“Hey man, where was like the chief engineer of Ecology City hanging when all this bad shit happened?” demanded Councilman Earthday around the stem of his pipe.

Arborina was smugly prepared for this question. “Chief Engineer Epa Geophile was recycled for environmental crimes last week. He was warned repeatedly for water wastage, exceeding the set limit of one shower per month on numerous occasions. All of you signed the execution order.” She passed a sheet down the table.

Fishfriend adjusted her spectacles and studied the list. “Let me see about that ... Ralph Seedling, Oleander Luvbeeds, Acacia Blueskies, ah, here it is ... Epa Geophile.” She dropped the sheet with an air of defiance. “Well, as you can see it was a long list of offenders and the Council was swamped with water allocations for the cannabis harvest.”

“Hey, man, I like remember we had two cool tech dudes tripping out at the solar generation plant,” said Earthday. “What say they boogie on down and send our aquifer pumps to the lightship of smiles?”

Arborina sighed. “As a matter of fact they did boogie on down. And the first thing they did was get their incompetent fingers into a main rooftop service disconnect causing their electrocution and yesterday’s explosion.” She took in their blank looks and decided to drive a few points home.

“As you know, Ecology City is under Planetary Federation embargo for what they call human rights violations and our refusal to allow citizens to emigrate.” She allowed herself an inner sneer. “It would seem everyone in this fair city is not quite happy with our environmental utopia. Only one starfreighter has managed to sneak past the blockade, the Mea Culpa, which is at our spaceport unloading needed supplies.”

“I’ve seen the manifest,” Fishfriend snorted. “Sandals, roach clips, bongs and peace medallions. Who’s the retard who added these items?”

Dufus Earthday shifted in his chair and looked uncomfortable.

“What is obvious here is our need for a technician to find the problem with our aquifer pumps and fix it before we run out of water.” Delbert Ozone tried to hide a complacent smirk but failed.

The smirk was not missed by Arborina Greenleaf. “It would seem Councilman Ozone has a plan,” she commented dryly.

“I had the very good presence of mind to commute the execution of the chief engineer of the Mea Culpa yesterday, a Mr. Michael Bell.”

Earthday took a long drag on his pipe, looked dubious. “Michael Bell ... strange names these outworlder dudes have. I’m tripping the starpath you dig something about him?”

“I certainly do,” said Arborina. “Lowest type of environmental criminal. Smokes cigars, releases blasts of methane after beer drinking bouts without a thought for the ozone layer of any planet he happens to be on, and is reputed to ride a restored gasoline burning motorcycle.”

“But is he willing to happily fix our pumps after being strapped into our execution chair?” Peta Fishfriend demanded.

Delbert Ozone smiled enigmatically. “I will be having a little chat with Captain Melvin of the Mea Culpa at the end of this meeting.”


“Crap! Why me, boss?” Mike Bell whined. “You’re asking me to go back to the most tight-assed planet in the quadrant. No booze, no joy girls, and you can’t even take a dump without a permit and an environmental impact statement. You sent me down there yesterday to unload our shipment and I almost got my nuts roasted!”

“Look, you’re the only member of my crew with deep well extraction pump experience. They’re gonna cough up a fat fee so just grab your tools and get your butt in gear.” Captain Melvin fixed him with an icy glare. “Don’t get cute down there again, Bell. It’s a rigid police state and they’re happy to vaporize anyone, including outworlders as you found out, who even look at them sideways.”

“Okay, okay, I’m leaving,” Mike grumbled.

“Oh yeah, your old buddy Ficus Trequisser will be waiting at the terminal to escort you.”

“Oh great! The hits just keep on rolling.”

He was still grumbling as he shuffled down the loading ramp to the spaceport terminal. On the high fence of razor wire stretching off on either side, he noted a body that was still impaled. Or perhaps it was another misguided citizen attempting to escape this city of joy and happiness.

Ficus Trequisser was standing by the steel gateway. Mike waved cheerfully at him.

“Hey Ficus, old pal, how they hanging?” he grinned. “I’m assuming you have a pair to hang, small as they probably are.”

Trequisser scowled and squinted downwards. “Would that be a leather belt I see you wearing?”

“Yeah, it’s targhide,” Mike replied, unconsciously stoking the pebbled surface. “So what? Is targhide some kinda threat to the ozone layer here?”

“Planet Ecology does not permit the wearing of skins from murdered animals, fellow living beings who would be your friends if given the chance.” A pudgy hand reached out preemptorily. “Remove it please so the people of Ecology, brothers to all life forms, may give it a respectful internment.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Mike sighed, pulling the belt loose and holding it out. “Can we just get on with this?”

“Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Bell,” Trequisser said tersely. Donning rubber gloves and with great distaste he dropped the belt into a bag and handed it to one of the gate guards.

Inside the grey and forbidding stone edifice of Ecology City’s water plant, the elevator dropped like a rock. About the time Mike was getting ready to say goodbye to his lunch the lift glided to a stop, the doors opening to a brightly lit chamber filled with machinery and a tangle of massive pipes.

“The main pump room for the aquifer,” Trequisser announced unnecessarily.

“No kidding? I thought it was a department store and this was lady’s lingerie,” said Mike, easing off the strap of his tool belt. He strode to a control console and began punching buttons. While readouts passed over the screen, he frowned. “Any idea of how long the aquifer capacity sensor has been busted, Ficus?” he asked over his shoulder. “A couple of months? A year or two?”

Trequisser blinked. “The capacity ... what was not working?”

“Never mind, the fun is just beginning.” He began crawling about the pipes with a meter, flipping switches and checking gauges. At length he returned to ponder the control panel.

Impatient for answers, Trequisser moved closer and gazed at the confusing array of winking lights. “Well, technician Bell,” he asked sourly. “Can the pumping system be fixed or is it beyond your level of expertise?”

Mike turned and leaned his elbow on the console. He eyed the Ecology City exec with a mixture of pity and contempt. “I don’t need to fix anything because there is nothing here to fix.”

Trequisser pursed his lips angrily. “I realize I’m not a grubby-fingered handyman such as yourself, Mr. Bell. But I don’t seem to hear the sound of aquifer pumps running.”

“They are programmed to shut down when there is no water to pump. Which means your aquifer is bone dry.”

“Our underground water supply was calculated in the millions of cubic meters,” Trequisser scoffed.

“Oh, sure, when the population of this little ecological Disneyland was a few hundred. What is it now, a few thousand?”

“But we had millions of cubic—”

“You environmental nuts still don’t get it, huh?” Mike began packing up his toolbelt. “This is what destroyed the old Earth. Not global warming, melting ice caps or holes in the ozone layer. Just too many frigging people breeding like roaches and sucking up all the planet’s resources.”

Ficus Trequisser just stared at Mike, at a loss for anything to say.


The mass exodus from Ecology City was underway.

Arborina Greenleaf peered through the broken shutters of the derelict warehouse where she had taken refuge. Outside on the street a jostling tide of humanity flowed, pushing carts filled with household items, dragging suitcases, leading crying children by the hand. All heading for Ecology City spaceport and the twin looming spires of the Planetary Federation starcruisers which had just landed. The mob surged past, all desperate to escape, hot, tired and, above all, thirsty.

Well, she would be leaving soon as well, Arborina smiled. Somewhere outside the city, the Mea Culpa waited to take her and the Council of Three to a new world, a new beginning, financed by the vast amount Delbert Ozone had adroitly transferred from city finances to his personal account. Of course, the rapacious Captain Melvin had demanded an extortionate fee ...

There was the creak of an ancient door behind her. She turned to see Ficus Trequisser, his round face flushed, his mouth working like a landed fish.

“You’re still here!” he managed to gasp.

Arborina frowned. “Of course I’m still here. A crewman from the Mea Culpa isn’t due to come and sneak us and the Council of Three until after dark.”

“The Council is gone! I watched them board from the Embracer D’Abre tower. The Mea Culpa lifted off just before the Federation ships arrived.”

Arborina sucked air between her teeth, exhaled. “The Mea Culpa ... is gone?” she whispered.

“Yes! And on the way here I watched a column of Federation Peacemen marching down the ramp from one of their ships. I think they might be looking for us.”

A cough came from the back of the room. Framed in the doorway was a squad of uniformed troopers cradling force rifles. A burly sergeant looked about the room and fixed his gaze on the two by the shuttered window.

“Would you happen to be President Arborina Greenleaf and Chief Executive Ficus Trequisser?” he demanded in a bass voice. “I have a warrant for their arrest on assorted human rights violations ranging from imprisonment without trial to murder.”

Arborina felt the contents of her bladder void themselves into her environmentally-friendly hemp underware. She nodded dumbly.

The sergeant smiled with grim satisfaction. “Very good. A Mr. Mike Bell sent us a subspace message we would find you two here.”


Rain fell on the abandoned ruins of Ecology City, giving the derelict buildings a patina of shiny newness. Weeds sprouted in random clusters among broken glass and random piles of rusting bicycles. In the city square, the Al Gore Monument stood in solitary grandeur, covered by patches of lichen. The rainstorm passed, giving way to a wind which swept through the city and out across the endless grasslands. END

Kurt Heinrich Hyatt is a native of Canada living in Arizona. He started writing science fiction in 2010. His stories have appeared in “Encounters Magazine,” “Bastion Science Fiction,” “Nebula Rift,” “Jupiter Science Fiction,” “Aphelion,” and many others.




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