Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Associate Editor


Baby Wars
by Eric Del Carlo

by Kurt Heinrich Hyatt

Genocide in Three Acts
by Jenny Duptsi

Memory Farm
by Richard Wren

Schrödinger’s Suicide
by Daniel Roy

Chandler’s Hollow
by Sean Patrick Hazlett

Test Case
by Kris Ashton

Pink Adventure 87
by Gregor Hartmann

Shorter Stories

by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Dropping Payload
by Mord McGhee

Breaking the 3 Laws
by Trevor Doyle


Sex and a Sensawunda
by Ann Gimpel

Sunshine 2: the Sequel
by Eric M. Jones



Comic Strips




Genocide in Three Acts

By Jenny Duptsi


I WASN’T THINKING OF anything that night when I activated their release. I just ... did.

Look, can I at least finish my account before you glare at me like that?

No? Well, at least I tried.

They didn’t tell me about the histories of those people. All I know was they came from the first century. Most of them are old, too. Very old—with skins like you’ve soaked them in untreated hydro for quite a while. Even Madame Svetlana would look like a youngster compared with them and she was almost three centuries old when we sent her to the moon. Those people must have been a thousand years old at least. But not all of them were old. There were a couple of them your age. There was one child, and three others were in my generation.

Jeffrey was one of them.

He looked like an angel then, so pristine in his transparent pod. I think he still does. He was the one who captivated me most ever since I started working for Dr. Rotwell; this was a couple of years ago, before he went mad and imprisoned himself underground. I was in charge of environmental controls; very easy task, with just the temperature and gravity control needing hourly checks. Nothing could go wrong, I always thought.

I was making my last rounds for the day and everybody else already left. But my day was far from over; Dr. Rotwell chose that time to come up from his self-imposed exile.

He looked like he hadn’t eaten for weeks—I was surprised he still had that energy to go trashing around the lab. I suppose you would call it mania. He was muttering to himself, and he didn’t seem to notice me in spite of my calling his attention so many times. I even asked him what’s wrong but he just brushed me off, and the only thing I could get from the gibberish was “it’s time.”

Then he plugged himself to the main network, his mind infusing command after command until I couldn’t follow any longer what was happening on the screen. Until the confirmatory message came up.

But he stopped then. Just stood there staring at the screen with Pandora waiting for his next, possibly final, command. He never gave one, though. He just stood there shaking, looking like an overgrown, frightened rodent. As suddenly as he appeared, he went scurrying back to his underground sanctuary.

Was he mentally indisposed? Of course he was! Project Awakening was top secret. Until that time I wasn’t even sure it existed. And he left practically all of it right there, with one final step left for it to be accomplished.

So I made it.

Well of course I know I wasn’t authorized to do it—why do you think I did it?

I didn’t expect anything to come out of it. I expected Pandora to reject the command. But next thing I know the process was initializing. After an hour, the restoration was complete. Then it was all a matter of releasing them. The computer asked who to release first.

Yes, I picked Jeffrey. As you already know from looking at your footage. Satisfied?

Look, I’m sorry. I just—I would never do it if only I could go back. But it’s too late now, isn’t it?

When Jeffrey’s pod opened, he just stood there as still as he ever was, although his skin has gotten back its human hue and he was undeniably breathing independently. I was staring there in front of him in utter shock; why, I could not believe that it was really happening. All those times spent looking at him from the other side of his pod, as though he existed in another world, were finally over. He was less than an arm’s reach away and I could easily touch him.

He opened his eyes and smiled and I could have died then and I wouldn’t have minded. Then he lurched forward, slumping into me. All consciousness gone.

By the time he woke up, I knew I was in deep trouble.

I was scared shitless when he collapsed, so I alerted Dr. Metz—something which I should have immediately done when Dr. Rotwell got out of hiding—and informed her about what happened, with a few embellishments to my story, but you already know that. I could have successfully pinned it on Dr. Rotwell, too, but I didn’t know the security controls and I couldn’t destroy the footage. Can you blame me for trying?

You don’t need to answer that.

Anyway, she told me to keep Jeffrey asleep. No matter what. She told me where to find the sedative and use it as soon as possible. I did my best, I swear. But when I got there he was already sitting up, looking at the syringe in my hand.

“Hello.” He looked at me, with that same beautiful smile plastered on his face.

I wish I could have combusted right then. I was doomed and would be jobless as soon as Dr. Metz arrived, so I stood there and fucking cried. Like a helpless infant. Could you maybe delete that in the footage? I know you won’t.

He stood up then, and with real concern on his face asked me what was wrong. It was hard not to sympathize with him. So I told him how I screwed everything up; that I wasn’t supposed to wake him, and my supervisor would be mad at me.

“So, are you going to use that thing on me?”

He was still a couple of feet away from me then, and I tried to hide what I was holding but realized how foolish that would be. So I told him, “This is just a mild sedative. It’s not harmful.”

He smiled again and didn’t say anything.

I do not know how it began but I think I it was pure animal instinct: I ran, and damned if I wasn’t right. Things were flying everywhere as he tried to pursue me. Safety was the only thing I was thinking then. My safety. The tube was the first thing I could think of. But I didn’t get there in time, as you well know. He got to me and slammed my head on the floor and that was the last thing I remembered.

When I regained consciousness, there was blood everywhere. I was too scared to do anything so I huddled in a corner. I wasn’t thinking. I was so fucking afraid. I can’t even remember Dr. Metz’ arrival. I guess she took everything from there.

That is my full account of what happened. I swear to the republic and all it fucking stands for. So when am I getting out of here?


Miss Bag’hari is lying.

I did not do her any harm at all. I merely suggested she do that to herself when she decided to help me. I know I will have to face consequences for what I wanted to do and I didn’t intend to drag her with me. But I changed my mind.

Why? Because she is a traitorous bitch, that’s why.

What did she tell you? That I hurt her and she was knocked out when all the gory, bloody stuff happened? Of course. That was the script. I know she would stick to it. Aren’t people so predictable? You talk to somebody in a few minutes and you know their entire life story. Others would require days of observation. She was one of the boring ones.

You want to know her whole part in what happened? I’ll tell you. Do you have any cigarettes here? Do you even know what a cigarette is? Well, as I suspected. I have never seen anyone light a goddamned smoke this whole time. I knew you obliterated it somehow. What have you replaced it with this time? Don’t tell me everyone gives a fuck about their “well-being” now. You can’t take out one demon completely. You just replace it with another.

You are very patient. I’ll give you that.

People never cease to surprise me. Well, not really. I am the goddamned worst liar I know—why, I can’t lie to save myself and you know I’m smart enough to do that if I want it. Forgive me that bit of vanity. I’m still human, after all. Oh, don’t look at me as if you don’t believe it! Actually you can; you all repulse me just the same, anyway. How could you be so stupid as to have found the secret to prolonging your lives but did not do further applied, practical research in eugenics? I could see the majority of you are still as stupid—if not more—as my imbecile mother. Like Miss Bag’hari.

She killed all those people, you know. I gave her a little pushing of course, but she was the one who drove the bar into their throats. The first ones were rather grisly, but she managed to jab more decently as she went on. I told her they were all high-end criminal geniuses and that not letting them die would only endanger her people. What a stupid bitch. She hesitated when she opened the kid’s pod, I’d give her that. But she stuck that thing into his throat all the same, after a bit of prodding.

Imagine the look on her face when I laughed after she finished. I laughed not because I find dead bodies particularly humorous, no. I laughed because how could anyone be as stupid as her?

Really, have you not found the specific gene responsible for idiocy yet? That should be your next project, I’m telling you. How could you find it easier to believe her accounts of the event when she was the one who destroyed that footage? Do you think it was me? After being in that freezer for a fucking century you expect me to know how to handle your technology?

Please, do not insult yourselves. You have me for that.

The decapitation. Oh, that. Well, you see, I was in a good mood. I don’t find dead bodies amusing, that’s true. But mutilated corpses? That’s ... that’s a different story. It doesn’t really make a difference to you though, does it?

You seem to have a very good grasp of your emotions, sir. Are you trained in the military? You listen to everything and I haven’t seen you betray any sense of disgust. Or fear. Or hatred. Those are all too common. I think I like you. We could be very good friends if you want.

I offered the same courtesy to Miss Bag’hari. In spite of her idiocy. But she broke down as I predicted she would. It was fun watching her go mad. I expected her to be less predictable, though. It’s disappointing. When the blow came, it was no surprise. I could have stopped it with my eyes closed.

Why did I not kill her? Oh, you are such bores. Killing her would make me predictable. And besides, you could use her. If I were you, I’d do research on her. You know, to expand your knowledge on misery. It still does exist, right? I would not know.

What I do know now is this: you won’t kill me. I’m not certain yet what exactly you will do to me, but I’m sure it’s not that. I am too precious for you to lose. I’m the only key you have left to the past.

Which means you’re all the same bunch of idiots that existed back then. I would have killed me if I were you. But unfortunately, that is not the case. Unfortunately, you will try to coerce me into answering every question you have of the world back then, which I’m telling you won’t be worth it. It’s the same world I’m telling you; the only difference is you have more shiny toys now. And you send your dead to the moon now to save land. Isn’t that fucking hilarious? Do you also dig up old graves to use the land? I highly recommend that.

I belong to those graves you know. I should have died a long time ago.

All those people, too. I don’t know what you think you’re playing but you are not God. Everybody has to die some time. And you took that from us. I merely gave them what should have been theirs long ago.

You know, I’ll tell you everything you want to know. But not without getting something back. I’m sure you already know that by now.

Kill me after all this is over. I cannot do it myself.


Everything is my fault.

There is nobody else who needs to be punished. I was the one who breached protocol—that much is clear. My assistant, Miss Bag’hari, was only trying to clean up the mess I made. She has no fault in what happened. It was me who killed the rest of the cryopreserved subjects because I realized how dangerous they would be to us all.

Do you know what those people were thinking, lieutenant? They can’t wait to kill us, everyone in charge, every person responsible in placing them in their preserved states. All those years, all those years of not being able to do anything and yet remaining conscious of their environment—it simply has driven them mad.

It almost drove me to insanity myself. The time I spent in isolation: I was in truth doing my own experiments, trying to connect my own consciousness to theirs. And I succeeded. All those times we thought they were in a constant dream-sleep state, but they weren’t. They were conscious of what was being done to them. All that time—decades—of not being able to do anything but think, what would you think about? They were thinking of getting out, of regaining control. And they would have done anything to get it back.

It consumed them, lieutenant.

I connected first to the oldest of them, Madame Bates. She was very coherent in our linked consciousness. She showed me her role in the world before her preservation and the role she wants after getting out. I told her dictators do not exist in the present world anymore. “Bullshit.” That’s exactly what she said before she went manic and ruined the connection.

But not every subject was as coherent as she was. Yuu, the only child among the subjects, has suffered what I think to be a form of multipolar disorder. His mind was trapped between being a child and a paranoid adult, and in one session he acted like he was a dog. It was simply impossible to try reasoning with him.

“Where is my mama?”

He said that on our very first interaction, and I replied, “I don’t know.”

“You are not my creation. Why are you here?” he asked.

“I want to talk to you,” I answered.

“Mama said I should not talk to strangers.”

“I agree with her.”

This was the last exchange before he tried to bite my face off. Yuu has formed the belief that his mother wanted to kill him and that every person is in connivance with her. And yet, in spite of this debilitating belief, she was the only one he trusted. He was undoubtedly unstable. Really, think of a three-year-old body with that mind freely roaming in the district. He was not the only danger to our society though—all of them are.

Of course, including Jeffrey. But he is rather ... different. He simply wanted one thing and he made that clear during my immersions in his consciousness. But I was not able to give it to him. I would have if I have been given enough time.

I gave him my word. It was the only thing I regret.

But I do not regret what I did, lieutenant. Those people do not belong in this world. They are highly unstable, and they are obsessed with being the alpha. That was the society they came from and it has imprinted traits which cannot be altered without destroying their consciousness. They only think of their own needs. And after years of stagnation in their limited consciousness, they were prepared to do anything to get it. If set free, they would only breed chaos in our society. They may have been unstable but they were highly intelligent individuals. I could not risk that to happen.

It was me who did everything. I suspect the account of Karin Bag’hari does not coincide with mine? I’m sure it doesn’t. That is very predictable. She would try to protect me by all means, and perhaps even herself. Perhaps she would place the blame on the only subject remaining alive. I wouldn’t be surprised.

But it was me. The release of Jeffrey was Karin’s doing but that was purely accidental. Think about it. This project was equipped with the most sophisticated security mechanisms. The release of the remaining subjects would simply not be possible without my direct supervision. Nothing would have happened if it was not for me.

No, that is not my own version of the truth. That is the truth. END

Jenny Duptsi has written about science and science fiction for the “TopTenz” website, and on “Smiles For All.” She also blogs on a number of different topics. “Genocide in Three Acts” is her first professionally published science fiction story.


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