Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Joy Ride
by Jude-Marie Green

Barnegat Inn
by Brian Biswas

Captain Quasar and the Kolarii Kidnappers
by Milo James Fowler

by Michael Hodges

Discord in Paradise
by Leslie Lupien

(225-50) Agnes
by Mark Ayling

It’s a Long Road to the Sky Train
by Michael Andre-Driussi

Not Her Kind
by Peter Wood

Down Courthouse Wash
by Steven L. Peck

Blink Twice
by Rebecca Birch

by Sean Monaghan


Mad Max, R2-D2 Return
by Adam Paul

Sixteen Shades of Ice
by John McCormick




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips





You Have New Mail

USUALLY I GET A COUPLE OF HUNDRED pieces of spam per day. And that doesn’t include the hundreds of spams that don’t even make it to the servers thanks to my web host’s powerful spam filtering software. Of course we’re talking about junk mail and not tinned meat, as you are assuredly aware unless you’ve been living off the grid for the past ten years, another disturbing trend recently popularized in part on TV by the Kilcher family of Alaska who hypocritically happen to be worth millions of dollars individually. Oh, absolutely, they live off the land, fish, hunt, farm, crap in an outhouse ... but where’s the risk if you have a hefty bank account to fall back on?

Returning to the spam ...

I’ve been thinking this over and have decided on the best solution to junk in the in-box. I think there should be a surcharge for email. Calm down. Nothing huge. Nothing anywhere near the price of a postage stamp. I’m thinking more like one-quarter to one-half cent per message. Even if you were to send 500 emails per month that would amount to, at most, a $2.50 monthly surcharge. The effort I’ve seen people go through to cut down their monthly intake of spam costs far more than that.

According to a recent review in “PC Magazine” of the latest anti-spam software, prices range from $9.95 to $59.95. The lower end price tags are per year. That’s only the beginning. Once purchased, you need to learn the software, and configure it for your own security preferences.

On the other hand, spammers send out thousands if not millions of spams per month. Hit them with the same surcharge and it becomes unaffordable. Some of their clients with very deep pockets will be able to continue, but overall the amount of spam would be decreased considerably.

The government could also use the tax monies collected to improve and upgrade the Internet infrastructure. Perhaps, in a perfect world. But, while it is nice to dream, I’m not going to kid myself that anything like this has any chance of happening. Not until we are drowning so deep in a flood of spam that the old-fashioned paper letters look cutting edge.

So my Plan B is a real nasty piece of anti-spam software. I’m dreaming of an application, part AI and part bio-cybernetic viruses, that traces the spam all the way back to the point of origin, and then eliminates the annoyance once and for all. The following spams, by the way, are real. Nothing has been changed to protect the guilty. Cue harp segue-to-dream music ...

Version 7.3 upgrade of my favorite email software, with the newest Spam Slaughter plug-in, launches, filling the computer monitor, highlighting fourteen new messages, one of which is a forwarded joke from a colleague and the other thirteen annoying spam. So I hit the delete button in response to the first spam message:

“The Brain Stimulator Method” <>
Restore Your Memory with THIS Brain Trick. This is an AMAZING story about a retired Neuroscientist from Ottawa. At first glance, you may not expect that anyone at 104- years-old, no matter what their background is, could possibly make any considerable contributions to society ... You would probably be shocked that someone at that age could even hold a normal conversation. Well expect to be “Blown Away!” Professor Wilson is not your “run of the mill” 104-year-old.

He is sharp, alert, witty ... and quite frankly, he’s a little sarcastic. (But in a fun and friendly way.)

Anyway, Professor Wilson has developed and perfected a sequence of simple “mind bending tricks” that have been proven to profoundly improve your mental capabilities.

A dialog box silently pops up. It asks, curiously: Delete Messenger?

I blink. I hesitate. I read it again. It doesn’t ask Delete Message? It asks Delete Messenger? Probably a bug in the software, dammit. After all these revisions, you’d think it’d be near perfect. Not a fatal bug, however. This I acknowledge by clicking on Yes.

Almost 750 kilometers away, in the corporate offices of TouchScreen Marketing, LLC, on the fifth floor, just off the bank of elevators to the right, past the double doors, fourth cubicle on the left, twenty-seven year old Morena DeVolante clutches at her chest and keels over, dead as last week’s chicken dinner.

The second spam message on my computer’s 29-inch widescreen promises rapid weight loss:

Oprah’s Carb Blocker <>
Re: Oprah Tests “The Doctors” Carb Blocker. No. 15777940. The Doctors’ Dr. Travis Stork calls Pure White Kidney Bean Extract a “revolutionary carb blocker.” Oprah put it to the test. “I lost 17 pounds in four weeks with No Special Diet, No Intense Exercise!” —Oprah Winfrey spam

The only weight I’m interested in losing right then is Oprah’s nagging. Again, I tap Yes to Delete Messenger. If only I could, I wish, with murder in my heart. If only I knew.

Halfway around the world, Yung Chok Bo steps out into the middle of a busy intersection to hail a cab and is prompty struck and killed by a moving van. It must be noted that Yung Chok Bo works for Oprah Winfrey. Of more importance, Yung Chok Bo has always been a very deliberate person and rarely takes risks.

Continuing on to the next one:

Denise James <>
Re: Money in your pocket overnight: Qualification ref# 8257388. If you’ve ever considered having surgery to fix your hearing, READ THIS NOW! Leading scientists, who study the ear and hearing, have long concluded that damaged and deteriorating “hair cells” in the cochlea, which is the snail-shaped structure in the inner ear, is the cause of most hearing loss. The conclusion is that certain natural chemical compounds can actually strengthen and repair your damaged hair cells and repair your hearing permanently! Watch The Video Now.

No thank you. I don’t want to watch the video. I pick Yes to Delete Messenger for the third time.

Oddly enough, there really is ... was ... a Denise James. Being tall for her age does not help her one bit. On the contrary. She isn’t even heading down to the subway; she’s on her way into the coffee shop on her lunch break for a Caramel Brulée Frappuccino Blended Coffee. She slips on a patch of black ice right in front of the subway entrance, falls down the stairs, rolls over twice, cracks her skull against the sharp edge of a step, breaks her neck in two places, and dies almost instantly.

On and on, I deliberately proceed through all thirteen spams. The thing is, there are so many accidents, natural deaths, killings, and disappearances around the world each day, nobody suspects. Not even when the amount of spam drops to bearable amounts. It occurs so gradually, anyway, most people shrug nonchalantly and acknowledge that anti-spam efforts have finally succeeded. Well, they have, in a sense. Too bad it is only a dream ...

Segue back to reality. “You have twenty-seven new messages!” my computer announces stridently. Twenty-five of them are spam. Nuts!

Sam Bellotto Jr.